Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Rantings

So Mike Duggan is running for Mayor of Detroit. We don't it matters; this is Detroit, after all, and he would only be mayor. That hasn't helped current Mayor Dave Bing. Why not? Because, as is so often the case with politics, he isn't the only one with input on matters of government. He has to deal with a City Council which will not address its hubris. No leader can overcome an obstacle such as that.

A Saginaw Republican has introduced a bill which would mandate that all levels of government in Michigan fly only state and national flags made in the US. As good as it is to encourage support one's own economy, this must be seen as little more than a grandstand play. If flags are the important symbol which we sat they are, then where they are made seems a silly question. Isn't how they are displayed and employed which matter most? Then there's always the question of, if buying one's own nation's goods is right because it (more or less) localizes things, should we go all the way and mandate that Michigan governmental units buy Michigan made flags? Indeed, that localities should buy only flags made in their locale?

We realize that the question isn't so simple as that. Not every locale has every industry imaginable to make purely local purchases possible across the board. But as such, why play to the crowd? Oh, right. Politics.

A report issued by the Detroit Common Council's own council's own Fiscal Analysis and Research and Analysis Divisions says that the city should seek a second Consent agreement with the state given Detroit another year or so to demonstrate that it can get control of its finances. Of course; why would the Council's lackeys say otherwise? This reeks of a pathetic last stab at staving off an emergency manager. The City has had its chances, and that its own people say that it should get more time is nothing more than ridiculous. But what's that again? Oh, right. Politics.

Farewell, Pope Benedict. As you step down today, may the peace of the Holy Spirit be upon, despite the actions of those with an ill will. Beyond that, let us hope that the conclave to select the next Pope will do what it should: choose a traditionalist who believe in and supports eternal values. Why not? It would be the right thing to, and will surely rankle the nonreligious who yet insist that religion should change to suit them. Anyway, Godspeed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Stupid Secretary of State

New Secretary of State John Kerry told a group of German students that Americans have a right to be stupid. The remark garnered a few laughs, not the least of which likely emanated from a general European view that Americans are stupid. Be that as it may, Kerry called the supposed right to be stupid a virtue which is protected by our Constitutional system.

A-hem. Let's be perfectly clear on such points: no one has the right to be stupid, just as no one has the corollary right to be wrong. It follows, then, that no one ought to tolerate stupidity and error either. We may have to, but only as a matter of practical necessity and certainly not because the stupid person has a true right to be that way.

This is the sort of argument which must lead towards the toleration of horrid ideas and real moral evils. Why do we have abortion, for example? Because of this very same argument for tolerance: we can't make a woman carry a baby to term because she has the right to be wrong. You may notice that those who are pro-life apparently do not have the same right to be wrong, but that's okay. It's simply another strike against the secular world: when they say that people have the right to be wrong, they mean themselves, not us or those who think our way.

This is the lesson which ought to be learned from Secretary Kerry's remarks. Tolerance is merely a buzzword for let the left do what it wants to, because it certainly isn't willing to let the right do what it wants to, as illustrated by issues such and abortion and gay rights. They have a right to be stupid; they have a right to be judgmental in judging us. But judge not them. They have a right to be stupid.

Stupid is as stupid does, eh, Forrest? It's right in the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings. As America slowly loses the moral high ground, we will have inane, off the cuff remarks about stupidity as a virtue to thank, delivered from the highest thrones in our government. Will we, even for a moment, consider whether such ideas are themselves stupid?

Not so long as they make a good sound bite.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Harrison and Depardieu

We're not fans of the French actor Gerard Depardieu. Oh, we aren't exactly adversaries either. We don't know all that much about him, really, except that he's a famous actor and that, as isn't unusual about famous actors, he has few dollars (well, euros) laying around.

We know a bit more about George Harrison. As a Beatle and an outstanding songwriter and musician in his own right, he, no doubt, had money to burn. What might so disparate personalities have in common?

ne wrote a song slamming the British government for a 95% 'supertax' on the earnings of the rich. The other has been granted Russian residency in order to avoid a 75% tax rate in his native France.

Let me tell you how it will be there's one for you nineteen for me. If there is a chord (such a delicious pun in context) which resonates within American conservatism, that may be it. It leads us to questions which simply do not get asked, even by the right wing. It leads us to ask whether it is ever just to take 19 out of 20 dollars from anybody's pocket, let alone three out of four.

After a point, does it matter how much money they have? We will agree that those with more ought to pay more with regard to the needs of society. But seventy five or ninety five percent taxes on income? By what right can such rates ever be justified?

This is illustrated quite well while when you throw in the background of the persons involved. Both Depardieu and Harrison were of humble origins. They weren't born into wealth. They had talent which they were able to parlay into very well paying careers. They made us laugh, they made us cry: perhaps, also, they made us think. Sure, they were not alone in that endeavor. Others recognized their ability, others worked behind the scenes for their success, others incidentally aided the process by which they became wealthy. Without all that, they would not have succeeded so wonderfully.

Yet without their own talent they would not have succeeded either. Can we know which was the more important?

We most certainly can. It was the ones with the talent. Without them, the rest doesn't matter so much. There would be no tax base without their talent.

You may have your sales taxes and user fees. You may even have luxury taxes on items beyond the reach of the vast majority of the population. Indeed, you may have higher income tax rates on the ones who make a lot of money. But anyone who believes the rich should be soaked merely because of their wealth punishes talent and effort and, further, actually denies the economically lower classes of benefits they would never of their own efforts achieve. You deny them recreation, easier lifestyles, and recompense beyond measure in the obtaining of everyday needs.

But worse, you feed an insatiable monster. You feed personal jealousy and public greed. You feed your base desires. And the worst of that is, you fail to ask what type of person are you?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Snyder: Give Detroit what it Needs

Get on with it, Governor Snyder. Put an Emergency manager in charge of Detroit. You will never win the hearts or minds of the overwhelmingly Democratic city. But the longer you wait, the weaker you'll seem to everyone else. Just do it and get it over with.

Detroit is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. Detroit leaders appear to think that Detroit is Michigan. That may have been the case at one point. It isn't anymore.

There are about 700,000 residents where there used to be 2,000,000. That's something in the area of seven percent of the population of the entire state. Detroit does not, or at least should not, have the clout it once had. The only real thing the city has going for it is political: the situation can be painted as David and Goliath, of Democrat against Republican; of plain old racism, even.

None of which is fair. Detroit got herself into her mess and is essentially refusing to get herself out of it. Someone else must. That someone is you, Governor Snyder. You wanted to be governor; you wanted to run the state like a business. So, do it. Maybe you won't be a hero to Detroit, but that was never going to happen anyway. Go on and be a hero to Michigan. Detroit may actually learn a lesson from that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paved With Good Intentions

"Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well governed?" -C. S. Lewis

This isn't the quote we were seeking. Yet it will have to do, and is a decent enough lead in to the subject we wish to address today. The quote we wanted, and we confess right off that this will be a horrible paraphrase of it, dealt with Lewis, speaking through his famous character Screwtape, on the power of bureaucracy. Lewis seems to fear not the Hitlers of the world, but the mousey little bureaucrats who actually run so much of it. He despises the small, well manicured, spectacled man in an office who will not allow another man, a fellow citizen, the right to chop down a tree on his own land to make boards to fix his own steps (or outbuilding or some such) without the proper permits and permissions.

Such folk can so easily be made to appear comic; indeed, Douglas Adams (if we may cross reference the views of a devout Christian with those of a rabid atheist) makes light of them rather well in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Unfortunately, such an interpretation isn't so useful as that of Mr. Lewis. The bureaucrat is far more dangerous than funny. And the government is brimming with them.

We have witnessed both attempts and triumphs by similar elected politicians (and all too often merely appointed civil servants) to force people to drink no more than 16 ounces of a soft drink at a time. We see leaders who don't want to find any trans fats in our food. We find officials who don't want us mowing our lawns or filling our cars with gas on ozone action days. And you don't even have to go to the newest suburbs to hear wails against urban sprawl. Yet what might these all have in common with Hitler?

Only the simple fact that they're all arguably tyrannical people committing arguably tyrannical actions.

Liberals cannot, or choose not, to see this. Overt and powerful evil, yes, they recognize quite readily. But who wouldn't? Hitler, Mao, Stalin; only a true fool could not the threats they were. Yet our leftist friends do not see the petty tyrant. The truth is, they encourage him. Or her, lest the speakers of the v-word be insulted by a mere masculine reference made with no intention to offend.

To be sure, any one of these actions seen by itself doesn't seem so bad. Some of them indeed may not be bad. Any one by itself might even simply be a misplaced emphasis, may only be mere stupidity, or may even be honest good intention. It is all too easy to say of any individual person or instance, they mean well. Still, the question rarely asked is whether any of them ought to be the province of government and the bureaucracy at all, and if so, which ones really.

What is also overlooked is that no matter what they mean, they may be a symptom of a greater disease. Every petty action by every petty official seen against the big picture demonstrates that small evils may lead to larger ones. Little Hitlers may one day become big Hitlers. It may well be, in fact, it likely as not is, that not a one of these people understand that their little sin against their fellow man can lead to far worse sins against him.

Skin cancers by and large are the most curable of cancers. Yet if one ignores the blemish on their arm, thinking that it's nothing and could not possibly come to harm and thus pays it no mind, what will happen? Several years later doctors will telling him that they can do nothing for him. But if he had done something about it when he first noticed it...

This is not to say that every bureaucrat or indeed every liberal thinker (in the modern American sense of the word anyway) is an evil person, or that every act of theirs must lead to tyranny. But it is meant to caution us that sometimes things do go in directions which we cannot immediately envision, that we are responsible not only for the direct effects of our actions but also for the sometimes unpredictable consequences of them, and that the road to Hell is indeed paved with the best of intentions.

None of that will matter when and if an American or Canadian or British Hitler rises to power. Yet the truly sad thing is, should that actually happen, no one will claim to have seen it coming. They will be all too correct.

Monday, February 18, 2013

PresidentsDay 2013

Today is Presidents Day. We are expected to celebrate our Presidents, even the ones who weren't that good or memorable. And we do that at the expense of the ones who truly do merit a certain reverence. Washington, Lincoln: you guys are as good as Millard Fillmore or James Buchanan.

To be fair, the official holiday is still known, at the federal level, as Washington's Birthday. That is how it should be. The importance of General Washington to our history simply cannot be overstated; it is widely held by historians that we would not have survived as a nation without his leadership. His demeanor, the respect he commanded: he was the one person Americans would unite under, and they did.

It is not fair to his memory that we are now expected to think of all the men who served as President. Many of then simply don't merit the recognition no matter what they may have sacrificed in gaining the office. It is not fair either that the Monday Holiday Law bounces Washington's Birthday around for the sake of convenience. Further, it is not fair that such days are marked more by sales, weekend trips, and days off work more than for what the holiday is supposed to represent: a reflection on important even ts and figures in our history.

Try doing that, instead of or before whatever else you want to do today. Think about what Washington means to our being here this day. Read a passage about him, even if it's simply on Wikipedia. Take a second and look at a dollar bill or a quarter and reflect on why we would put the image of an old general on our coinage. Remember while you do that that our ability to do all the things we take readily for granted are only so because of the work and sacrifice of men like our first President, and be even for the moment grateful.

Then go ahead and do what you like. We suspect that the General himself would approve of it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Using Science as a Scare Tactic

This just in: mass extinctions could threaten life as we know it. At least, such is the belief of one John Alroy of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. His findings, after a study of fossil collections, concludes that when there are significant numbers of species extinctions there may be significant changes to the ecosystem. Indeed, it may alter the question of who is or is not the dominant species in any giving environmental arena.

The best initial reaction to this should not be shock. There are no grounds for panic here, despite the fact that it seems the world of science (meant here with the small 's') and the media want to use this as an example of how we humans are mucking up the planet. We are so smug, we humans, that we aren't even considering the possibility that we may advance ourselves from the top spot on the ecological pyramid. We may fall from the predator to the prey, if we aren't careful.

But to the point. It is not, in any way, an earth shattering conclusion that if some things change dramatically other areas may be altered as well. If you remove the key pitchers and batters from our own Detroit Tigers, you would likely have other teams competing for the American League lead in their division. Surely a look into the fossilized remains of 100,000 extinct species, which is what Dr. Alroy and his minions studied, was not necessary to realize that. In fact, it was almost surely overkill for an argument more philosophical than scientific, even if based on scientific data. It was not needed to found a conclusion based more on common sense than as a particularly scientific insight.

So, does this mean that humanity is doomed? No. Especially when the researchers and media types sprinkle their statements with all sorts of vague words and phrases. When we hear viewpoints such as, "Today's rate of extinction may be as great as 100 times the historic norm," as claimed by the people at Life Science, we wonder at what exactly is the threat made by the words may be as great. This followed by the rather astounding assertion of extinction rates 100 times the historic norm.

The columnist George Will famously says that, "If the data don't jibe with common sense, doubt the data." Or at the least, don't overstate its merely potential importance. For indeed that's all we have here: data which may, or may not, mean that we good folks are killing the Earth and ourselves in the process. Yes, of course we should be aware of it and serious consider the prospects to which it may lead. Yet that does not mean we are invariably bound for destruction. For two can play the what if game: what if it means that we are merely increasing our dominance? It may be that we are improving rather than destroying; our actions may be creating a better, and not worse, environment.

In the end, this is only so much more environmentalist fear mongering. If that's all they can bring to the debate, then we should not worry over their worries. It is far more disheartening to see how we hurt one another as people than as how we might, or might not, be affecting the lower species.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Folly of the Anti-religious

Oh ye of little...lack of faith? How else might we address the latest trampling of religious free speech rights? It seems that an Ohio school district has voted to keep a portrait of Jesus on display despite a lawsuit seeking to have it removed. The ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation insist that it must go, as it promotes one religion. The District asserts that the portrait belongs to the student group which put it up, and as as such, is a reflection of their right to freedom of speech.

We've never understood the threat to anyone's core beliefs based on the display of symbols on public property. We don't pass mosques or temples on private property adorned with Islamic or Jewish symbols and immediately begin to question our Christianity. But we should, shouldn't we, if a simple symbol might shatter our beliefs? Quite frankly, if a religious symbol or icon in a public place should be such a threat to any given person's world view, then it should be a relatively equal threat anywhere. It makes more sense to be against all religious symbols displayed anywhere at any time than to be so vehemently opposed to them merely because they are on a school or courthouse wall.

To be fair, symbols can be very powerful things, particularly religious ones. That's why Christians like portraits of Christ in the first place. Ye even then the meaning sort of pre-dates the symbol; it's infused into the symbol based on beliefs already extant. Why should we thus expect that a non-Christian would automatically and inevitably become drawn towards the creed it represents, beyond his own free will to accept it? It simply doesn't wash. Symbols, though powerful, aren't catch all be alls. Few people become Chicago Cubs fans merely because of the cute little bear symbols the club at times might display.

Still, it will of course be argued that religious symbols on public property constitute an establishment of religion. Even taking that as a given, which we don't, but, for the sake of argument will this moment only, what does this matter say about freedom of speech and expression? Shouldn't we be able to openly express our sentiments on public grounds more so than anywhere else, if freedom of speech is to be truly prized? Especially when we consider that freedom of expression is so often covered by 0ur tax dollars, and in ways which vary from the merely insipid to the truly degrading, why can our tax dollars not support a simple portrait of Christ in a public school hallway?

So we have a clash of rights. The question then becomes: which is the more important right? Freedom of speech or the so called freedom from religion? All else being perhaps equal, it is better to support a positive right than a negative one. Our vote is for freedom of speech, even if causes someone to cower at an image of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Benedict Resigns

Now that the staggering nature of the event has had a day to sink in, we are left to ask: how, really should the news of Pope Benedict's retirement be handled? The answer is, pretty much as it has been by those in the mainstream.

It is news, to be sure. When something of this magnitude hasn't happened in six centuries, it must be reported and it will be commented upon. Most commentaries have been respectful and courteous. Some in the blogosphere are spewing hatred, but that is to be expected from the margins of society. Let them voice their rancor: it will be speak very clearly for itself.

There are questions as to the precise reasons under which Benedict is stepping down. Is it really his health or some deeper, darker secret which in fact drives him away from the Chair of St. Peter? Left with nothing obvious, there is really no reason to believe that. His explanation may as well betaken at face value: he is aging and increasingly infirm. As with the vilest of bloggers, let's leave all such issues to the conspiracy theorists. Such questions are of interest only to them anyway.

In short, it is right to wish the Holy Father a good retirement and to accept that he is prayerfully doing what is best for all: himself and his Church. That's actually all can do anyway.

So we do here. All the best to you in your future endeavors, Most Holy Father. You will be thought of fondly.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Native American Mascots

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is asking federal officials to issue a national ban barring schools from using American Indian mascots and names on the grounds that such names are offensive.

We wonder who is actually being offensive on issues such as these. Catholics do not appear offended by the San Diego Padres logo of a goofy looking monk swinging a baseball bat. Why should they be? It's all in good fun. Are Irish Americans bothered by Notre Dame's Fighting Irish and that mean looking two-fisted leprechaun image with which they proudly adorn themselves? It doesn't seem to be the case. It's not meant to provoke the Irish, and indeed they might rather like the idea that their ancestors from the old sod are seen as rough and tough.

So why should Native Americans be offended by Chiefs or Hurons or Chippewas or Braves or even Indians? We'll wager that a good many aren't, in fact; they may actually like the references along the lines of the Irish and the Catholics. We will concede something on Redskins, to be honest, as that moniker does seem to cross the line in rudeness. But then, we aren't saying that all's fair either. Do we really think that a group of citizens are so thin skinned that they can't appreciate a powerful, or even playful, nod towards their culture? If they are, we humbly suggest, then, that that's their problem.

In short, don't insult or use overtly racist slurs in naming teams and institutions. But don't be a stick in the mud either. It's supposed to be fun, remember?

Or does our increasingly politically correct society wish to ban that too?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Freedom is a Means, Not an End

There is a certain allure to libertarianism within the conservative community. The stress on individual freedom definitely has its merits. Human freedom, personal liberty; these are terms which are deeply embedded in the American psyche, perhaps more so than anywhere else on Earth these days. So why aren't American conservatives more overtly libertarian seeing as so much of their rhetoric employs libertarian phraseology? The irony involved in answering that question lies in the very same ideal of freedom which is at the heart of the libertarian movement.

Libertarians preach freedom. But the trouble is that freedom is a means, and not an end, as libertarians assert.

When someone says that they are for freedom, can we ever really drop the subject at that? Might anyone actually say: Oh, he's for freedom, so we know where he stands? If we do, we are pretty close to talking nonsense, don't you think? In order to really understand what our libertarian friend supports, isn't it necessary to ask: Freedom from whom? Freedom from what? Freedom to do what, and why? How might this freedom be attained and secured? Indeed, why should we think we are entitled to any sort of freedom and liberty at all? When we ask these questions, there appears one important point which sort of encompasses them all (and a great many others), a critical point which few people rarely consider.

Once we begin asking these questions, we aren't really talking about freedom, are we? Aren't we actually saying that we can only support freedom in the context of the question involved?

We're in fact talking about what might be called doing justice; it might be called The Golden Rule; it might be called ethics and morals or plain old right and wrong. But whatever we call it, we cannot call it freedom. Freedom of action, so far as it goes, must be seen as valuable only insofar as the action in question is right and just, or encourages rightness and justice. For it goes without saying (even though we are about to say it; don't you hate that?) that freedom as freedom simply means doing what you want because you want to do it. Freedom as freedom does not necessitate reflection upon whether we ought or ought not do something. It means nothing at all, on its own terms, except that Joe Smith wants such and such done and has the ability to do it, so he does it.

But when asking whether are free to do something, or whether society should sanction or prohibit a given action, well, isn't it implied that we are only truly free to do it if it's just? Isn't it in fact putting restrictions and qualifiers on our freedom? In this light, when our libertarian friends say they're for freedom, well, it's hard to take them at their word, for in the very act of making that assertion they themselves must mean they support something beyond mere freedom. When they protest torture, are they really protesting the lack of freedom of the persons tortured or the fact that torture is wrong, even if part part of the affront is denying him his freedom? When they clamor for homosexual rights, they must mean that such rights are worth support in themselves, or what's their point? Indeed, when they protest oppressive taxes and regulations, something which we right wingers can agree with them about, they must be claiming that the government is wrong to aggressively tax and regulate citizens and businesses and not, ahem, that the government is free to do so. For if freedom is our measuring stick, who's to say that the government isn't free to overtax and overspend?

We don't see how anyone can be for 'freedom' any more than they can be for 'education' or 'civil liberties' or 'peace'. But we can see how people can want to support what is right and disdain the wrong; we can understand why they would want to encourage good and discourage evil. We understand that doing good and avoiding bad is precisely what the individual and the broader society needs. That, perhaps, is the key difference between libertarians and conservatives. And it's all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Recycling Serves But A Few

Today is the day that we take our recyclables to the recycling center. As we've mentioned before, we're not fans of recycling. That does not, however, mean we are diametrically opposed to it.

The conservative position on recycling is akin to the conservative position on almost everything else: if it's necessary, truly useful, advances the safety of human beings or, quite frankly, if it pays without violating any moral norms, we are open to it. This list by no means exhausts the questions we might have about recycling or any other issue. It merely sets the table for discussion.

We are not, no matter what liberals may say about us, obstinately opposed to change. We only ask that the change is genuinely worthwhile or serves a greater purpose than what we were doing before. There's no point being fools about it: if recycling is what we have to do to keep planet Earth habitable for us, then we should do it. We are not convinced, however, that it saves the planet all that much wear and tear. We are merely stating that if it can be reliably demonstrated that without recycling we, or our heirs, will die out due to our lack of proper stewardship, then we ought to recycle heavily.

The trouble is if that's the case, the burden of proof must lie on the shoulders of those who think it necessary rather than on those of us don't. It is fair to ask: why must anyone change their habits because someone else thinks it good? Give us something concrete and we'll talk. Otherwise, individuals are well within their rights to wonder whether anything projected over a large scale is actually predictable. Claiming that without recycling we'll be piled with trash or run over with landfills within a couple hundred years is nonsense on its own face. Scare tactics merely scare. How about a little rationality, a little perspective? If you're right, the sanity of your cause will come through.

Why shouldn't the individual ask whether the process will pay him? It seems that we give away paper, plastic, glass jars and so on, solely for someone else to benefit from it. If it pays, why can't the donors get paid for it? The answer, essentially, is that these products don't really pay anyone unless given to them. They must further be had in large quantities or they aren't worth handling; the true value of those products are virtually nil. Yet people can and do get cold hard cash for their scrap iron, aluminum, and copper. Why? Because they hold a decent value even after their initial use. Even now we are willing to concede that if there is a greater necessity, something beyond monetary value which ought to be considered, then we should consider it. If we will die out by about 2025, or especially by next Tuesday, without recycling, then let's do it and forget about who gets paid what. Otherwise, it's simply scare tactics again.

Is recycling truly useful? Certainly for a few, but for the general society? You're asking that a lot of people go to a significant effort to turn in garbage; again, where is the empirical proof or practical reason for it? We are not all that interested in how recyclables are used outside of that context. So there are playgrounds where shredded old tires can soften a kid's fall: would there be no other ways of doing this, ways perhaps better, with new materials? We don't know the answer. We're only asking. But we are within our rights to expect a good answer.

As it stands now, our attitude is live and let live. If you want to recycle, then recycle. Only don't force your preferences upon the rest of us without just cause. Your say so, no matter how heartfelt, is not good enough.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Boy Scouts should Demand Tolerance of Themselves as They Are

Governor Rick Perry of Texas has come out (heh, heh) and said that the Boy Scouts of America ought to keep their policy of no gays allowed, either in the ranks or among the leadership. He is right to encourage such a stance, and the Boy Scouts would be right to honor their association with traditional American values.

There is a culture war going on right now in the United States. That war is centered, presumably, on the ideals of tolerance and diversity. Yet there is a problem with basing a war on such elements. It fails to answer certain questions. It fails to answer: what is tolerable, or, what is diverse?

The answers to those questions are actually quite easy and obvious. To the second we ask, to those who oppose the Scouts' current position, if you really and truly want diversity, how much more diverse can you get except to accept us? If it's diversity you want, how much more diverse can you get than when you have polar opposites? If diversity is what we want, then this should be the Holy Grail of diversity. As such, there is no reason to ask the Boy Scouts to change.

So, too, tolerance. If you want tolerance, and by your shrill voice, liberals, we are left with nothing to presume except that you want tolerance of all things at all times, can you have tolerance without a tolerance of things you find disagreeable, up to and including tolerance of things you hate?

Oh; you don't want that? So, then, may we call into question your devotion to tolerance?

Of course we can. If we invoke their rules. And we should, you know, because invoking their rules displays for all men at all times the inconsistency of their position. They say they want tolerance. Our response should then be, okay, tolerate us.

Call them out. Demand that they defend themselves, logically and coherently, based on what they espouse. Call them out. Demand they tolerate us and accept what we contribute to the world of diversity.

Yet you may be sure that they will not accept us. They will not tolerate us. To that we ought respond: by what paradigm should we tolerate you?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Football Mentality Speaks Ill of America

Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis is being fawned over by football fans, as his presence in tomorrow's Super Bowl (insert your favorite Roman Numeral here) marks the end of his career. But does he deserve the accolades?

We have before us a man who found himself in the middle of a murder investigation in 2000 but was allowed a plea bargain in order for testimony against others. He is a self proclaimed Christian who lives with a partner, and has fathered six children with four different women. Now he stands accused of using steroids in order to return more quickly from an injury.

And we are supposed to look up to him.

This is not to single out Ray Lewis. But it is to illustrate that there exists, among football players perhaps more than any other sport, the idea that winning is everything, the individual is a demigod if he produces on the field, and that the football mentality is to be seen separate from personal morals and sportsmanship.

Can we separate who we are on the field from who we are in daily life? Can we with any real legitimacy excuse actions on the field, or actions designed to stay on the field, without a consideration of what those actions say about us or our gamesmanship? Al Kaline and Alan Trammell seem the same guys on and of the diamond, and are praised for it. Ty Cobb is similarly condemned. Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are now shunned in the baseball world for actions which call into question their integrity, both personal and athletic. Whither football?

Do we, at the altar of football, sacrifice our integrity for the sake of a mere game? Because this isn't all about Ray Lewis. It's about his coach defending a hit so brutal that it was fined by the league as, basically, 'that's football'. It's about the New Orleans Saints, ironically, given the team name, putting out bounties on opposing players. It's about a game, and nothing more than a game, where fathers who played it won't encourage their sons to follow in their footsteps due to the sheer barbarity involved. It's about a sport where thousands of former players are going through traumatic experiences due to its effect on them. True, they weren't forced to play. Yet they were surely encouraged by a mentality which preyed upon them, and told them to do whatever they had to to be stronger, faster, and more savage.

This is what football brings to the table. Play the game, do what you must to yourself to win, and all other offenses will be forgiven. Because you are a football player. What applies to the general public does not apply to you. Sportsmanship? We'll slap you on the wrist with a little fine if you hurt someone, because we really want you to do that. We want you to hurt someone. All the charity work in the world will not and cannot excuse the Colosseum mentality which pervades the NFL. Win there, and you're a hero. The fallout is irrelevant.

That's football, Americans. It's high time we began to question its legitimacy.