Sunday, December 30, 2012

Education and Democracy

It's amazing how thoughts may randomly pop into one's mind. We are further impressed when two or more of them have an interesting connection which gives us pause.

When the Christian apologist C. S. Lewis speaks of being a democrat (a small 'd' democrat, it should be noted) he says that it is because he distrusts his fellow men rather than believes in them. No one, himself included, he says, can be fully trusted to run other people's business, so it's better to diffuse power than allow its accumulation in one man or group.

Richard Mitchell, an outstanding yet little known writer on education issues famous for his works under the heading The Underground Grammarian, teaches that education is a preparation against the world more than for it. The world, so to speak, will mislead you, it will lie to you, so that the only decent education leads you to think for yourself as a check on the world's attempted ill effect upon you.

These are two quite interesting takes on things. They lead us to wonder whether there might be such things as negative virtues, ideas positive in themselves though emanating from negative perspectives. They are difficult to disagree with, yet display an understanding of the world and peoples around us in an unexpected fashion from unexpected sources. They certainly put ideas of democracy and education in a different light than in which they are generally seen. As such, they quite naturally lead us to think and wonder.

Do we hold the right view of education? Do we really understand democracy? Are the ideals we work towards with either actually the right approach towards these questions, or ought we consider the ideas of Lewis and Mitchel as more trustworthy, more likely to get us the types of democracy and education which will help our society the most? We think that, at the least, their ideas merit discussion.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hobby Lobby and Religious Freedom

Hobby Lobby, a national chain of arts and crafts stores, has vowed not to cover health insurance for its employees so long as it must include coverage for the 'morning after' pill which induces abortions. The Obama Administration has said that the company will face fines of $1.3 million dollars per day so long as it does not fulfill all obligations of Obamacare. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, an Obama appointee, refused an injunction for Hobby Lobby or its sister chain, Mardel Inc, until legal actions on the question are settled.

So there you have it. The first salvo in the war for religious freedom, one of the freedoms which the Constitution is supposed to guarantee, the Constitution which the current President takes very lightly if he considers it at all, has been fired. It will be a long and costly war in terms of human cost.

The Catholic Church has already issued stern warnings that the battles may well include open defiance of the Obama Administration and the federal government, up to and including civil disobedience. We may have to go to jail in standing up for our beliefs.

The lesson here is that the left does not respect the rights of anyone not in its camp. You have the moral right to the morning after pill, so much so that someone else must pay for it if, as the direct result of your own indifference over your own actions, you find yourself in a position which you don't like. This is the worst kind of hubris: that someone else must cover your irresponsibility.

To you Catholics who voted for the man behind this atrocity against human rights: are you happy now? Or is your conscience clear on the point that its perfectly all right to force views on others when they are at odds with your President? Have you forgotten that you're not a Democrat first, nor a Republican first; not even an American first? You're a Catholic first, and must act accordingly. Will you now go to jail for your faith, seeing as you support a leader who spits at your faith?

Be that as it may, we see very clearly this morning that of the five freedoms, religious freedom means the least. Our nation, founded upon that principle almost more than any of the other freedoms, turns its back on its primary founding ideal. Woe to you, especially those of you who should have known better, that put the United States on the road to the tyranny of the majority. The blood of future Americans is on your hands.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Even Men can Understand Women's Rights!

It is often heard, from women who support birth control, that they don't see where a celibate clergyman ought to be judge to the issue because they can't really understand woman's rights. Yet those same women won't denounce a celibate clergyman who agrees with them on the grounds they're men.

Similarly, they say that men shouldn't legislate about banning abortion, because they can't really understand what that might mean to women. But they don't hold the same point with male lawmakers who vote for abortion rights, even though they presumably can't understand woman's needs either. Indeed, whenever a man supports a so-called woman's right in a way which women (or, should we say, liberal women) like, he is not condemned. But why should male affirmation mean any more than male denial if men cannot possibly understand a woman's position?

Two things come up here. One is that it is arrogant to assert that men cannot understand a woman's rights merely because they're men. Women sure don't mind respecting a man's opinion if it coincides with theirs; dismissing male opinion as automatically wrongheaded if it disagrees with a woman's is, simply, hubris.

Two, it is more likely that someone not directly involved in an issue would be more readily impartial than someone who wants a certain outcome. We have umpires and referees in sports precisely because, although they may not be the actual players, they are expected and indeed are more likely to be impartial than the players. An umpire says safe or out independent of the player, who would more likely rule his own way given the chance.

This isn't to say that all umpires are right and all players wrong each and every time. But it is to say that objective right is something anyone can grasp if they want it. Whether the rule maker or opinion giver is male or female means nothing to right and wrong about anyone or anything.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Keep it Local

One of the most basic axioms a conservative should have in his arsenal is known as the Principle of Subsidiarity. Plainly stated, it says that things should be done on the most local level possible. Why? Because that it the surest way to get necessary things accomplished in the most efficient manner.

The closer we are to a problem the better we ought to be able to understand it. We will see it more clearly, and indeed, particularly with issues and events nearby, we will likely have a greater interest in it. Schools, for example, should by and large be run within the local community because it is the locals who have the greatest interest in the education of their kids. Their kids are the ones who are generally going to hang around and run things when the current generation cannot anymore.

As a rule, the closer to a problem the less money which must be spend alleviating it. This is in part due to localized control, again as issues should be seen more clearly but also as there would be no added layers of bureaucracy which would otherwise have to be paid for by the electorate. Perhaps this is why, try as she might, Washington cannot get a grip on poverty: too much money which is supposed to help the poor in fact keeps bureaucrats at a desk.

There are of course many factors to consider when deciding what job should be done where in a national scheme. A nation as a whole must take up the defense of its people: could Detroit reasonably be expected to ward off an attack by a large foreign power on its own? If we were to leave Detroit to its own devices (a prospect many folks out there may not mind, but let's set aside jokes right now) we would hardly be a nation in the best sense of the word.

As a rule, conservatives would argue that few powers would be nationwide in scope. Military protection, the necessary and proper federal judicial arrangements, coinage, and issues of commerce (to varying degrees) come first to mind. State power would be wider than that of municipalities, perhaps, while communities would see to the bulk of day in and day out tasks: police and fire protection, trash pickup, and to the schools, among other chores.

It goes without saying that the most localized control we can have is to go right down to the individual. The more that an individual can do for himself, to pay for and nurture by himself, the better quality product he will generally have. What was the first part of the famous Milton Friedman quote? When a person is paying for something directly and for himself, he will demand the best price and the best quality. This goes for nearly all the everyday things human beings require: food, clothes, shelter, and education.

We could go on all day discussing particulars, but you get the point. Local control is the best remedy for most ills. It is a point which should be discussed, if you'll excuse the irony, on a wider scale.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Who is the Real Extremist?

Recent polling by the cable news network CNN indicates that a majority of Americans see the Republican Party as extreme. The same data says that 57% of Americans see the Democrats as mainstream. What does this say about us as a nation?

One commenter, on an article about this phenomenon on the Huffington Post, said that it reflects the fact that people want government out of their lives. Yet if that were the case, why are so many Americans against Obamacare, a plan which infuses government into the average American's life more than anything the GOP ever proposed? If the poll reflects anything, it reflects that Americans are confused. Or, worse, it reflects a general apathy.

We fear the latter. How can anyone argue seriously that the Democratic Party is the party of individual rights when we have Obamacare and TSA searches? How can anyone seriously argue that the Democrats are the party of the person when they say that Americans can be hunted down without regard to their rights as American citizens? Does the average American not know about Obama's disregard of Constitutional rights? If not, they should read this: http://www.wnd.com/2012/03/obama-crushes-civil-liberties-like-bush-never-did/

Of course, the logical answer is that the average American doesn't know about these things. And they don't care. They have their football and various entertainments. So long as what Obama does doesn't seem to affect them directly, or if it is in areas where they see a 'right' such as mandated health care (even should it violate the conscience of an individual), then so be it. Besides, we may need an abortion some day, should our free will dalliances result in a human life which would get in the way of our free will dalliances.

If the GOP is seen as extreme, a debatable point given the general nature of polls and the fickleness of people, it is because of one of two things. If the Republicans aren't explaining themselves well enough, not taking the initiative they need to in showing the people what is right and what is wrong, then the fault is theirs. But if the trouble is with the American people themselves, if they have been seduced by the Democrats and their call for an easy life where decisions are made for them by the government, then the fault is with the people and not with what the GOP or the conservative movement or conservative philosophy. The responsibility then lies with the people. If that is the case, then the United States has not long to live. Indulgence to our basest instincts, to our personal selfishness, can only lead to our collapse as a nation.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

More Chicken Little

The sky is falling! The Mayan doomsday prophecy was correct after all, only it was a few days short. On January 1st, there will be hellfire and brimstone. We won't survive it. That's the day we fall off the fiscal cliff, from which we shall never recover.

But is that really all that likely to happen? Will there be a personal and national Armageddon in the United States?

It's doubtful, really. The fiscal cliff tales of woe seem to be manufactured frenzy more than a serious threat to our health and well being. Think about it for a moment: how often in our lives have we heard gloom and doom, only to wake up the next morning to face a new day the same as always?

Quite often, when you come to think of it. Usually, in fact. This is a new madness, and that's all. The media drives the panic. The very same media which calls the frantic gun buying since Sandy Hook acts of lunacy. They need to take a look in the mirror and draw a deep breath.

This is not to say that the automatic budget cuts and tax increases are not threats to our persons and our economy. They are in the long run, particularly the tax cuts which are set to expire. But has anyone taken a second to think about the big picture? Has anybody asked whether or not the new Congress in January might, just might, mind you, be able to do something about it? So what if the Bush tax cuts expire? Can't taxes be cut later on? Can't spending be re-instituted if necessary on January 3rd?

Call us pie in the sky if you like, but we are, have been, and always will be, skeptical of doomsday scenarios. They tend not to play out. We expect that they won't play out in this instance either.

Take a pill, breathe into a paper bag, do whatever you wish to calm yourself. The high temperature on January 1, 2013 will not be 1800 degrees. Being as we're in Detroit, they may not even making freezing.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

No Real Difference

We all knew it would happen. That is, any of us with a rational mind could see it coming. Now that abortion is so well ensconced as the law of the land, now women or couples (most likely women, because they hold the power within the issue) seek abortion simply because they don't like the sex of the child. Yet even the Republican controlled House couldn't see fit to stop the practice, and the feminists could care less, because to argue against such selective abortion would undermine the presumed right to one. Because if an abortion is okay, then the reason behind it is irrelevant.

Even if it's the selective abortion of girls. You know, the female humans who might take advantage of the procedure if they were allowed to be born (what a delightful irony that is; your own feminist mothers are taking away your rights, potential women!). The Chinese do it, because sons are seen as more valuable and, in a further condemnation of a world which sees birth control as a duty towards society and abortion merely an offshoot of that, wants to limit family size anyway to the point of enforced abortions. But again, if abortion is okay, what does that matter?

Even an aspect of the issue which libertarians might point towards, that forced abortions are bad because they violate personal rights, fails to show an adequate understanding of personal morality. They would, most libertarians would, anyway, allow selective sex abortions if unforced. The only difference between them and the Chinese is degree, and that ain't much. The tyranny of the individual is as bad as the tyranny of the state.

We are hard pressed to think of something more appalling than abortion simply because you don't like the gender of the child. Even abortion as abortion does not reek of, we will say it, the nonchalance of the evil involved when aborting simply because it's a girl when you want a boy, or vice versa. Abortion as abortion is simple murder. Selective sex abortion is worse than callous. It is social engineering writ small. It allows anyone who wants to be a little Hitler to be exactly that.

Yet we wonder what's wrong America, what's wrong with the world, today.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gun Rights and Gun Control

Guns sales have spiked considerably since the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School last week in Newtown, Connecticut. This is not surprising; gun sales have been considerable since the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. Many will see the tragedy, as they did Obama's election, as an excuse by gun control advocates to limit the availability of firearms in the United States.

No doubt that both events have and will serve that purpose to the left. But we do have to believe that gun rights advocates aren't helping their cause with what appears to be panic buying. It is something which may only cause quicker and deeper actions against firearms.

We are not bleeding hearts by any stretch of the imagination. Nor are we soft conservatives who don't believe in the Second Amendment. Still, the idea that we have to be armed seems a stretch of the imagination. Yes, guns are used for self protection by the civilized citizenry far more than for wanton violence. Yes, we have the right to be armed for protection even against government, should the need arise.

But do we need to appear as though we must be armed to the teeth in order to be safe either? How often have gun owners actually needed their guns for rational purposes? Yes, again, we accept the argument that criminals will become more bold with less chance that a homeowner has a gun in his house, or that the next target will not have a concealed weapon. We get it.

That doesn't mean that we should play into the hands of our adversaries. Especially, be fair, with the realization that direct personal attacks on law abiding citizens are rare and random. Why not sit a spell, take a breath, and at least see how things play out in the gun control arena before rushing out and loading up on weapons and ammunition? As it is, it makes the gun rights lobby look like exactly what it says it's not: a rabble ready to shoot first and ask questions later.

We know that isn't true. But we harm rather help our cause to even appear that way. It's just something to think about before reacting in any manner which may be construed as knee jerk. The liberal knee jerks will only take advantage of us.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Real Lesson of Sandy Hook

We must not give in. There will be pressure to give in, to give away just a little bit more of our freedom, a tiny sliver, perhaps, in order to prevent the next Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. The pressure we be there, and it will be great. We must not give in.

If someone wants to kill, maim, or endanger a great population of people, if they are bound and determined to do great harm, then they will do it. They will do it however they can. Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer; the Muslin extremists of September 11, 2001 used airplanes. Laws will not stop the insane. They simply will not.

But do you know what will be lost among the people as we write this? They will presume something which we have not said nor will we say. They will presume that we are talking about guns and gun crime.

We are not.

o you believe for a moment that stricter gun control laws will prevent another horrible event such as the one our nation suffered Friday? To be sure, such actions may - only may, we tell you, and with serious reservations about that - somewhat affect things. Perhaps a mild offender against humanity will be thus restrained. A man with an itch to scratch. But will those determined to destroy every vestige of humanity within us be stopped at that? Will a man intending to destroy humanity stop at that?

He will not. He will do whatever he can to achieve his goals. And he will use whatever materials which are at his disposal to do so.

We are not dealing with rational people when we discuss the whats and whys of Sandy Hook Elementary. To consider them as though they were rational people will not protect us, or our children. They are irrational people, even should their actions be of the result of things not truly their fault. They may be insatiably selfish, or they may be evil; they may be truly insane. There may be many other things which we cannot know. Reason means nothing to the situation; yet non-reason means everything. We will not help ourselves by being unreasonable.

That lesson will be lost among the liberal reactionaries of our society. Yet that does not reflect upon us. It reflects upon them, and it is a poor and dim light by which they think.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Day After

There is evil in the world, and sometimes great evil. The events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, prove that in a way which frightens us in a manner that is almost unspeakable.

The idea that our weakest yet most trusting citizens, our grade school children, can be subjected to such horrors is perhaps one of the most awful aspects of the school shootings. How can we explain such terrible things to those so young?

We really can't. There is no explanation for what happened yesterday. There may be reasons, but only bad ones at that. There simply isn't an answer to the question Why? Some will blame God; others, the lack of God. Others still may say merely that 'things happen'. At the end of the day we are right back to the problem of evil in the world. How do we handle that?

For starters, exactly as we are handling it now. We think of the kids, teachers, and families who are forever scarred by the tragedy and we help them however we can: prayers, aid, and sympathy. Then we remember the heroes who did what they could in light of such terrible circumstances: the teachers and administrators who did what they could to save who they could, by pulling students into classrooms or barring a classroom door with their body to keep the gunman out. Finally, we do what we can to help keep such attacks from happening in the future.

We do what we can; yet the specter of evil will always be present.

All we can ultimately do is rise above it. We Americans are quite good at that, when you think about. It's what's happening right now in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy. They will overcome it. We will overcome it. Why? Not because it's all that we can do, but because it's the right thing to do. Evil will never win so long as we rise against it, each and every time it rears its ugly head. We are doing it right now with our prayers, tears, and support for the people of Newton and particularly its children. We are defeating evil. And we will be stronger for the effort.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Catholics and the Right to Work

Now that a few hours have passed and Michigan is firmly a right to work state, let's take a quick look at the likely aftermath.

There will be lawsuits and rumors of lawsuits. Why? Because liberals love democracy, until it happens to be against them and their aims. Then they have to go the courts, which are the closest thing to a pure dictatorship which our nation supports. 2014 simply isn't near enough; we can't have patience and wait for an actual election, can we? That's just not right.

There will protests and threats of violence. There will be takeovers of public property simply to be disruptive. Why? Because the left hates civil debate and will do all it can to prevent it. Force is the only way to get things done, you know, and liberals are very good at that game. One word - Obamacare - proves that.

There will be union members such as teachers leaving their jobs to do union bidding. After all, they can't support the kids when greater issues are at stake. Why, they'll love the kids more if they are in a union. About all which can said about that is, if you got into education for yourself, you're in it for the wrong reasons. Period.

As a special aside, it would be interesting to know what Catholic union supporters think about all the stuff that happened in Lansing this past Tuesday. We all know, of course, that the Church has always supported unions. Or do we? Has the Church supported unions or has She in fact spoken out for the dignity of work and the dignity of the worker? That is hardly the same as speaking out for unions. It's more supporting the rights of the individual rather than the collective.

So where does that leave Catholic union members and supporters? Hopefully it will have them examining their consciences. The Church, after all, does not force anyone to join nor force them to act in certain ways or even to support Her and Her work. All of that, though, of course, encouraged, is voluntary. Think about that: an organization which is inspired by God does not demand that individuals join. Yet a purely human construct such as a union (or in the case of right to work laws, the mere idea of a union) feels it has the moral right to compel membership. If that is not hubris, we don't know what to call it.

In sort, all of the hubbub involved in making Michigan a right to work demonstrates precisely why it ought to be the 24th right to work state.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Right to Work

Union supporters in Michigan are determined that our state not become another right to work state. They took the Capitol in Lansing by storm yesterday to make their point. Such is not unexpected. Unions play to the grandstand, to the lowest common denominator. But we wonder what their real problem is with right to work laws.

Well, we don't, really. Unions lose their clout if they can't make people join them.

They don't seem very willing to answer certain questions. Questions such as, 'If unions are so good for workers, why must workers be compelled to join them?' Or, 'If unions are so good, why isn't it obvious that all workers would benefit from them?' Or, 'If this is all about the rights and dignity of the person, why not go all the way and let each person decide the matter for themselves?'

We fully realize that are difficulties involved in what would amount to mixed shops. Who negotiates for the non-union workforce within them? If the non-union employees get the same benefits as the unionized, ought not the unions be compensated?

We're not sure. If someone didn't ask you to speak for them yet gets similar pay and benefits, well, what of it? Did the union get them their job or give them their skills? This may at times be the case, but only after the union was in the position to grant such privileges. We know that the Ironworkers and the Electricians offer training programs sponsored by their unions, and, to be fair, that these programs are very good. Yet what if they hadn't been there to begin with? If someone got their job on their own, using their own skills and own wherewithal, what would they owe to a union?

Perhaps some workers will be taken unfair advantage of by their employers. No doubt this will and has at times happened; yet no doubt also that at times the union will take advantage of its members as well. That point strikes us as a moral wash. If you're to raise a boogeyman solely for the sake of raising him, then you must grant that he might turn either way. He might harm those he is presumed to protect as much as anything else. He may be that fabled wolf in sheep's clothing.

Then we have the matter of why ought the majority rule in the workplace? Why ought fifty percent plus one have the right to make everyone else do what they wish done? That's all democracy in general means, let alone in the particular cases such as union shops. Why ought Bob Smith join a union simply because John Jones think he should?

And there's the rub. Why must any given worker join a union simply because a majority, even a decided majority within one plant or one industry, thinks he should? That's nothing more than the tyranny of the majority. It is, at the risk of hyperbole, the Divine Right of Kings under another guise. We rule, you follow, and don't ask questions.

To be sure, we risk the tyranny of the minority should we go the other way. Why ought the minority hold the majority back? Certainly there are times when this is the case. We cannot have viable nations should the minority vote hold a true and absolute veto over all things faced by the body politic. But the minority, in the case of unionization anyway, is nothing like what we find on a national level. Only on the national level are we dealing with a nation as a whole, on issues of general consequence. In the cases of simple human employment, we are dealing with persons directly. We are dealing with issues of who can work where, and why.

That is the trump card. When we think of who should work where and why, we are in perhaps the most exact sense dealing with individual rights. Why should anyone be excluded from competition in a given workforce merely because the guild which presumes (and we must stress the term presumes) to speak for him claims the authority, on its own authority, to speak for the person?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

When Life Gives you Lemons

A Michigan farmer's market has turned away a twelve year old trying to sell his own chocolates. You will find an article about it here: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012312070028&nclick_check=1 They say they have no room. The young entrepreneur's supporters basically feel he has been slighted. How should they feel?

They should feel that it's no big deal. So he can't sell his wares at the Meridian Township Farmer's Market. Does that mean he can't sell them anywhere? So one place says no; why not take it as a learning opportunity and go somewhere else and show those farmers something about the free market.

Yet rather than do that, we have sympathetic articles in the Detroit Free Press. Sure, he's a kid, and that makes it hard not to feel for him. That doesn't mean that the situation cannot be turned into a positive, especially as his own work ethic has apparently gained him a following as it is.

Rise above it, young man. Show them what you can do without them, Mr. William Zsigo. Show them, with what you've done so far, that you can and will do more. Perhaps this minor media campaign is part of that process, even beyond your control. Okay, then, move on. Show them that must deal with in one way or another. They'll learn to adapt themselves, or they'll garner more and greater adversity.

Or they'll get along and you'll both be fine. We'll even hazard to guess that, in response to the apparent outcry, that you will indeed find a place or places to peddle your wares. So don't worry about the Meridian Farmers' Market. Learn that, should you put all your eggs in one basket, you'll only paint yourself into a corner. Such a lesson would likely be tougher to swallow than one simple rejection.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Football is Too Brutal

It is said that football is now the American national pastime. Be that as it may, what does that say about us as Americans?

There are somewhere in the area of 2,000, two thousand, an outstanding number when you consider how relatively few men have played professional football, former NFL football players suing the National Football League for failure to address the physical and psychological damage the game has done to them. Many former football players have publicly stated that they will not encourage their sons to play football. Why? Because it is too brutal.

Too brutal. Yet we as a nation encourage this activity.

What does this say about us as that nation? It is not something we care to dwell upon. Should we dwell upon it, it might cause us to ask questions which we do not want to answer, let alone ask. Such questions which may cause us to ponder whether we ought to feel as we feel on Sunday afternoons in the fall in the good old U. S. of A.

We don't ask, because it will harsh our buzz. We just want to be entertained. If that means watching grown men possibly scaring themselves for life, even when freely choosing to do so, it's okay. We need that, it seems.

Do we also need former players so messed up that they will not watch the game, a la Mike Webster? Do we care about that? After all, they chose to go down that road. Is that our problem?

Yes, quite frankly, it is. When we as a society encourage young men to behave that way, it is our problem. Their lives are on us. Lives like these: http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/200909/nfl-players-brain-dementia-study-memory-concussions?currentPage=2

We can regret them, of course. Yet we can do more. We can question whether we ought continue to support a mentality which says this okay. We can question whether our values need to be prioritized better. We can do that.

But we won't. We're Americans, after all. We don't need to question our motives. We're the best.

What is left, then, is the penultimate question: who will explain that to Mike Webster?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Women's Rights can be Understood by even Men!

It is often heard, from women who support birth control, that they don't see where a celibate clergyman ought to be judge to the issue because they can't really understand woman's rights. Yet those same women won't denounce a celibate clergyman who agrees with them on the grounds they're men.

Similarly, they say that men shouldn't legislate about banning abortion, because they can't really understand what that might mean to women. But they don't hold the same point with male lawmakers who vote for abortion rights, even though they presumably can't understand woman's needs either. Indeed, whenever a man supports a so-called woman's right in a way which women (or, should we say, liberal women) like, he is not condemned. But why should male affirmation mean any more than male denial if men cannot possibly understand a woman's position?

Two things come up here. One is that it is arrogant to assert that men cannot understand a woman's rights merely because they're men. Women sure don't mind respecting a man's opinion if it coincides with theirs; dismissing male opinion as automatically wrongheaded if it disagrees with a woman's is, simply, hubris.

Two, it is more likely that someone not directly involved in an issue would be more readily impartial than someone who wants a certain outcome. We have umpires and referees in sports precisely because, although they may not be the actual players, they are expected and indeed are more likely to be impartial than the players. An umpire says safe or out independent of the player, who would more likely rule his own way given the chance.

This isn't to say that all umpires are right and all players wrong each and every time. But it is to say that objective right is something anyone can grasp if they want it. Whether the rule maker or opinion giver is male or female means nothing to right and wrong about anyone or anything.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ty Cobb and Reality

We want to be remembered. But after that, we want the folks we admire to be remembered. And that, perhaps, speaks more of us than we may imagine.

The wish always survives. People will speak of it well after we're gone. In Detroit, we wish that Tyrus Raymond Cobb should be thought of as the greatest baseball player ever. But more than that, we wish that he was a better man than much of history portrays him.

This sort of enigma plagues us. We want our heroes to be larger than life; that much is understandable. Why worship them otherwise? Yet life gets in the way. We hear things, we read things, and even our conscience tells us we should think one way rather than another. Still, we want, very much in fact, to think another way.

The fact of the matter is we want heroes. Really, we need heroes. We need people to aspire towards. We need to know that there are others who care for others more than we do. So we overlay our needs across the imperfect.

So, enter Ty Cobb. The dirtiest player in all of baseball history. No one seems to dispute that. Yet there are many stories coming out which attempt to tell an alternate tale.

There's no point to going into the bad now. Cobb is dead and gone, and the dead deserve their good name. He was philanthropic in his private life, a demon on the diamond. An enigma; something we simply don't get. We wish that we were like the former. Yet we want to be the latter, even knowing there's something wrong with that.

We are of two such minds in America today. Does it drive us, inspire us, or condemn us? Does it make us all that we can be, or less than we should be?

Just asking.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

True Free Speech

We Americans boast routinely about free speech, being so proud of the right that we put it smack at the top of the Bill of Rights. So, perhaps, it should be. But there are unfortunately degrees to which it must be seen negatively.

There are folks who opine that free speech means the right to say offensive things. They forget that there are two ways in which someone is offended: either when the listener is a fool, or when the speech in question is genuinely offensive.

No one has a moral right to voice offensive remarks solely for the sake of making offense; that is simply rudeness at best and insulting and vulgar at worst. To say that they have such a right under the guise of free speech is really only to hide irresponsible behavior behind a pretty face. As rights only grow from responsibilities, it is reasonable to argue that the right to speak freely comes from the obligation to speak truthfully, in the reasonable interests of ourselves and the general society, and considerately, so far as circumstances may allow.

Still, the only way to really stifle morally offensive speech is censorship, and the problem with censorship is that it is only good when good people are in charge. When bad people hold the reigns, then good and necessary free speech will be prohibited. It is a risk we cannot take.

In the end, though, no one has the right to say offensive things, but merely the practical option of expressing them freely. No one has the right to be wrong in the truest sense of the term, but only the free will to be in the wrong. Until we understand that, we really won't understand the importance of a well regulated freedom at all.

Rights must be viewed in their proper perspective. They are not, not a one of them, open ended and subject to mere personal interpretation. We may treat some select few of them as absolute, but only due to abject necessity. Actions which beg the true nature of free speech do not promote but instead denigrate the right. They make us less than we can be and less than we should be. We should be good and decent people.