Sunday, September 28, 2014

Self esteem, teachers, and virtue

People who overvalue themselves are generally not the people we want in leadership positions. Those who are meek about what they do may be our best citizens.

We have written before about the hazards of thinking too much about ourselves and our work. We have found and offer to you an excerpt from a neat little article penned by Richard Mitchell, who wrote under the moniker of The Underground Grammarian. The passage itself may be vaguely dated, having been published in 1983, but the point is universal. You may read the entire piece here: http://www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/

We encourage you to read more of Mitchell's stuff. It's pretty good on the whole. But for now, read this and let it sink in.

ONE of the most delicious ironies of our ironical time is the fact that schoolteachers often make less money than garbagemen. Although garbagemen seem to have reconciled themselves to this curious inequity perhaps out of a phlegmatic realism inevitably induced by their labors, schoolteachers have not.

How can it be, schoolteachers ask in letters to editors all over the land, that "society" holds them so cheap? Have they not labored mightily to make society exactly what it is today, clarifying values, facilitating appreciations, and teaching everyone how to relate? Have they not been the principal providers of universal public self-esteem, creativity, and social awareness? So how come they don't get no respect? What kind of society can it be that better rewards those who haul away garbage than those who produce it?

Such complaints seem, at first, indubitably justifiable. At least, they require of any thoughtful citizen a scrutiny of whatever differences can be discovered between garbagemen and schoolteachers:

While the work of garbagemen is of unquestionable social value, they never hire public relations experts to nag us about their selfless devotion to the common good. They don't even have a bumper sticker. That ought to he worth a few bucks.

When garbagemen ask for more money, they gladly admit that what they really want is the money. As to recompense for the self-sacrifice out of which they consented to become garbagemen rather than executives of multi-national corporations, they say nothing. Such reticence is surely worth a little more money.

Although they shouldn't be, garbagemen are just a little bit ashamed of what they do, and thus deficient in self-esteem. Schoolteachers are not the least bit ashamed of anything that they do. They have great big oodles of self-esteem. Would it not be an appropriately democratic redistribution of wealth to take some money, since they'll never part with that self-esteem, away from the privileged schoolteachers and give it to those emotionally deprived garbagemen?

The shame that arises from believing what the world tells us to believe is a form of slavery, but when shame arises from self-knowledge informed by a principled consideration of what is estimable and what is not, it is virtue.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Politics cause division; really?

We read with interest a recent article which laments the effect of political parties on classes of people. Basically, it concluded that more people vilify the opposition party (and it doesn't matter which party is the opposition) by larger numbers than in about 1960. You can read the details here: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-09-22/partyism-now-trumps-racism?utm_content=buffer16c12&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer if you like.

Have you read them yet? It's fine if you have, and fine if you have not, because we're not sure that the findings are all that important, unusual, or unexpected. Political feelings like many other feelings will ebb and flow over time, so it should not be a surprise that the depths of emotion for political parties would vary over generations as well. Neither ought we be surprised that feelings run deep when significant changes have affected the culture. Abortion for example was not an issue in 1960 because both major American parties, the Democrats and the GOP, accepted it as wrong and as such were not attempting to expand nor contract the availability of it. Now it is an option, and it may be the one great issue upon comprise simply is impossible. Stripped of the supposed nuances, you're either for it or against it. Period. This means that you're either a Republican or a Democrat on the question and that you will see the opposition as completely and obviously wrongheaded. Such a wedge must only make politics more divisive, even under a veil of general cooperation as a nation.

But we've almost always had such wedges, haven't we? In the United States, there were the loyalists and rebels during the revolution, the Federalists and the Anti-federalists (quickly becoming Jefferson's Democratic Republicans) during the first few decades of our Republic, then the Republicans and the Democrats before, during, and after the Civil War. Even during the Great Depression and into the 1960s, the stigma of being Republican was great. We suspect that similar attitudes can be found throughout the histories of other essentially democratic nations as well. In short, the idea that there may be deep fissures between major political and social groups today in America can't be terribly significant news.

Add to that one of the basic premises of democracy, namely, that it forces compromise, and we ought to expect a divided electorate. No one ever gets everything they want through compromise, and often it only leaves everyone unsatisfied. Compromise may be a bit of a devil in that sense; it makes better people concede things to lesser folks merely for the sake of moving on (not necessarily forward). We simply ought not be shocked with the results of such a system. It's almost bound to leave everyone with a bad taste in their mouths, a taste they try to rid themselves of through the mask of politics and elections.

This isn't to justify any blanket condemnation of whomever the political opponent may be. We just find ourselves after reading such studies scratching our heads and asking plainly, "What did you expect?"

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tulloch got what he deserved

Stephen Tulloch, a line backer on the Detroit Lions, has torn his ACL, the anterior cruciate ligament, an injury which will cost him the entire 2014 National Football league season. He hurt himself after a sack of Green Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers when he tried to mock the downed Packer with a mimic of the 'discount double check' catchphrase from Rodgers' State Farm Insurance ads, itself a mimic of Rodgers own 'championship belt celebration'. But hey, Tulloch was just celebrating. He isn't embarrassed by how he injured himself.

Well, he should be. He just cost himself a season and the Lions a pile of cash for which they will not be properly compensated. He may also cost the Lions a playoff spot. And he also cost the fans, who effectively pay his salary, from having the best possible Lions defense on the field.

But he's not embarrassed. Everyone celebrates a good play, and that's all he was doing.

Well, no, that's not all he was doing. A celebration is a yell, a high five, a pat on the helmet from another player. A real celebration usually comes when a game is over and done and not while it is still undetermined. Tulloch was grandstanding. He was mocking another player rather than letting his tackle speak for itself. What he did was unsportsmanlike and not mere celebration. Short of the injury, he ought to have been, as every instance of mockery or the disrespect of an opponent ought to be, flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

But he's not embarrassed. That attitude above all indicates that maybe he deserves what he got. We're wont to believe it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Catholics and the American Media

When the media in the US speak of Catholicism and Catholic issues, they seem very often to hold sympathy with the Catholic left. This isn't surprising, seeing as they agree politically with them. But is their a true reflection of American Catholicism?

Conservative American Catholics have long been at odds with groups such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. They are not on the bus with the nuns. Quite frankly, the Vatican often questions these groups' devotion to Church doctrine. Conservative American Catholics do as well. Their use of the poor to support liberal ideals reeks of no less than political gamesmanship: if you don't support massive government programs alleged to aid the poor, you are not Catholic.

Bosh. An unstable economy cannot help the poor. A government which falls under the crushing weight of bureaucracy cannot help the poor. Any policy which allows groups of people to live without attempting to improve their lot cannot help the poor. Yet they can make the poor arrogant. This is witnessed by the attitude that society must help them beyond any other considerations, such as things of their own doing. Not all the poor are poor by circumstance.

When American bishops and nuns attempt to make American public policy a matter of faith they err considerably. Public policy after all is nothing more than how a nation spends its money. Isn't religion concerned with objects greater than that? What profit a man to gain the world and lose his his soul? Can this not apply to the poor who have come to rely on government largesse rather than themselves?

There is an arrogance at work here, yet it is not the arrogance of the wealthy. It is the arrogance of entitlement. It is the arrogance which asserts that certain folks cannot help themselves. It is the arrogance of groups such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious who, rather than do the work of the Lord themselves, insist someone else must do it: namely, the government. They ask this without concern of the true mission of government, which is little more than to ensure that the Catholic Church and all other charitable groups are free to do their mission, the great part of which is to help the poor and downtrodden.

If you can only do your work with government aid, how much then are you relying on Providence and the Grace of God? Not nearly enough as to display any real devotion to Faith.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Social Conservatives will vote in November

Fox News reports that any rift between Tea Party advocates and the Republican party will have to be healed if the GOP is to take the Senate this November. The Republicans Party hierarchy opposed many Tea Party favorites in various primaries this year, and there is fear that Tea Partiers might sit out the general election due to that.

Maybe so, maybe no. Conservatives tend to vote more readily that liberals, in part because they feel certain issues, issues such as what the Tea Party movement favors such as lower taxes and the social issues, are important enough to merit even the tepid support of a political establishment such as the GOP. This idea bears itself out in midterm elections more so than presidential year contests, when more people vote because of the heightened interest in the race for the White House. Right wingers generally are more committed to vote in off elections.

This bodes well for the Republicans this fall. To be sure, maybe the numbers indicate closer races across the board (Republicans, say Fox News, are only shoo-ins to gain three Senate seats while needing six to control the chamber). But doesn't it seem that the numbers are always close so many weeks before November elections? Few saw Reagan's huge November 1980 victory in September of that year; not many saw the Republican tsunami in 1994. In short, don't trust the polls. Most have margins of error in the 2 to 5 percent range; when you stop and think about that for a moment, that's actually a pretty wide range which allows for significant error. And all this comes before the increasing alienation between President Obama and his own troops, which will possibly cause more Democrats to stay home November 4th.

The conservatives will support the GOP in November, if for no other reason than there's nowhere else they can go. At the end of the day, that might just be all the difference in the world.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ch Ch Changes

Embracing change is easy. Embracing Orthodoxy is the real challenge.

-a paraphrase of Mr. G. K. Chesterton

We hear it all the time, don't we, fellow conservatives? We hear the importance of embracing change, of being willing to change, of the need to alter our beliefs and desires to the will and whim of the current society. That's all we need to do is embrace the change which the modern society wishes us to do.

If they meant for us to change in the sense of becoming truly better persons, of changing from bad habit to good, of learning to like what we ought and dislike what we ought as well, of becoming more truly and usefully charitable and kind, there would be no problem. But they don't mean that. They mean, 'accept our ways of thinking and acting'. Or, more precisely, accept the change we want imposed on you.

But the trouble with accepting change as change is that's all that it is: doing something differently or something else entirely in the next moment from this one. But what it more generally means these days is to acceot what modern society may want rather than what may really help both the individual and the world at large. All that will do is lead us we know not where. And anyway, accepting change just to change is simple and, really, stupid as a guiding principle. Do nothing, reflect on nothing, question nothing, and change will occur. There's no effort involved.

Yet embracing Orthodoxy, and we capitalize it on purpose, accepting and living by reasonable guidelines and proper traditions, now that's the challenge. That's where we grow and nurture our selves and our souls. That's how we create better people and a better world. By living right according to the just precepts which have been with us since the dawn of time. Change is all right, yes, if done to that purpose.

Otherwise, it will happen anyway. But would you rather do what you can to control change, or merely be stuck in its tight and unwieldy (and worldly) groove, as Mr. Chesterton also suggests? For you will lose control of yourself by merely agreeing to eternally change. Yet tradition works. That's how it became traditional in the first place.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reggie Bush and disciplining a child

Bush, 29, is in his second year with the Lions. He has just 96 combined rushing and receiving yards through two games this season.

This quote was taken from this morning's Detroit Free Press online, at www.freep.com. You may read the whole thing here: http://www.freep.com/story/sports/nfl/lions/2014/09/16/detroit-lions-reggie-bush-adrian-peterson/15720293/ Anyway, the seemingly editorial remark appeared at the conclusion of an article where Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush was supposedly defending Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for having disciplined his 4 year old son with a switch, a twig from a tree. Peterson is facing charges of child abuse due to the incident. Bush was defending spanking while saying he was not in favor of beating a child. But then, what reasonable mind favors beatings of any sort?

Yet this isn't to defend anything which Peterson or Bush has said. We are okay with spanking and against beatings ourselves. But we wonder, what might be the meaning of adding such a commentary to an article which was decidedly unrelated to American football except in a vague, tangental sense?

It strikes us as a suggestion, however subtle, that Mr. Bush's lack of stellar performance on the gridiron thus far this season somehow reflects poorly on his abilities as a father. Or are we reading too much into it?

We're just asking a question. But it certainly sounds to us as though the writer is attempting to denigrate Bush's opinion in a red herring sort of way. What thinkest thou?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ray Rice and the Fired Gay Teacher Once Again

We fully realize that returning to certain subjects often does but one thing: it inflames people all the more rather than helps the situation. Still, there are times when we must do that, and now that a few days have passed we will revisit the Ray Rive/gay teacher article we penned last week.

To begin with, we were not defending Rice. We were being what we thought quite openly and obviously sarcastic. We were asking: why is it that when certain segments of society (and you may as then read that as the liberal/libertarian segments) deem something okay, then the private lives of the persons involved don't matter to their jobs or job performance. Yet they hold what they deem wrong to a separate standard or, as we put it, when their ox is gored, then someone's private actions matter. We find this just a bit galling, seeing as Rice sort of (it wasn't his best effort, granted) apologized while his own now wife basically told society to mind its own business and let them work things out themselves (she may feel trapped into asserting that, yet that is arguably only presumption). That is a double standard for no other reason than personal feelings. It is a reflection of being expected to emote rather than reason things out.

We believe that what's actually happening in our world today is exactly that: we are instructed not to think but to feel. Such encouragement serves nothing with anyone's best interests in mind but rather to excuse (or espouse) myriad ideas and actions simply because the speaker wants them to be true. He wants to be, in today's parlance, nonjudgmental.

And this is a problem. It's a problem in the first place because, in calling anyone or anything right or wrong (as we have been called wrong many times), we are in fact being judgmental. It's chicanery to say otherwise. But it's a problem on a deeper level because it reflects pure human weakness and self importance: we don't like to have our own actions judged, so we are reluctant to judge anyone else's actions unless they are so obviously reprehensible as to demand censure. That way, we might have our cake (do whatever we want so long as it doesn't violate the societal norms of the moment) and eat it too. Emoting allows us to forgive our own private sins more readily because it makes us quite willing to forgive the more private sins of others, so long as they don't violate the more obvious evils, the ones we would as a matter of course not violate ourselves. Fully private sins, being easier to commit, are the easiest to dismiss.

In short, emoting doesn't mean that we're being nonjudgmental. It simply means that we're being inconsiderate of the idea that maybe, just maybe, the acts of others who we are reluctant to judge saves us from a similar calamity in areas where do not wish judgment. We might get away with that here on Earth. We might not be fortunate elsewhere.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

NFL hypocritical on domestic violence

Any one else notice the odd bedfellows associated with the anti-bullying crusade, anti-domestic violence campaigns?

A Miami Dolphins football offensive tackle was reportedly been bullied by teammates last year, although the player, Jonathan Martin, reportedly holds nothing against his fellow players. Still, the Dolphins have announced that the team will not tolerate bullying. This from a member of an organization, the National Football League, which promotes organized and willful violence between its participating athletes on a daily and weekly basis through practices, scrimmages, and games. But they're against bullying.

Ray Rice is suspended indefinitely for domestic abuse while many other players play despite similar accusations. Today a Carolina Panthers player will hit the field against the Detroit Lions despite a conviction for domestic violence, apparently only because an appeal is pending. Greg Hardy, the player in question, is the franchise player, you see, and the law has to be seen through anyway. Wasn't it seen through with Ray Rice, though? Hasn't his now wife spoken of forgiveness and working things out privately? We don't entirely agree with her, but it does seem as though Rice's crime, in the eyes of the NFL, was simply not being a franchise player. And this all comes amid the fact that 47 players in the last eight years have been somehow involved in domestic violence issues at least by accusation.

Does anyone else see something absurd about about all this?

Similarly the WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment, has for several years been active on the anti-bullying front through such promotions as its Be a STAR program (Show Tolerance And Respect) in which their roster of superstars go to schools to encourage kids not to be nor tolerate bullies. There's nothing wrong with that so far as it goes (we could quibble by asking such intrusive questions of a feel good campaign such as tolerate what? or respect it why? but such are for another time), but isn't it the least bit incongruent for a wrestling entertainment corporation which actively promotes trash talk among its members leading up to, during, and after wrestling events to turn around and, in real life, argue against the same behaviors? Can someone say mixed message?

Still, there are important differences between the two. The WWE brand of violence is comic and the organization knows it. Indeed, it plays it up, and anyone with a mind can see that it's purely tongue in cheek. Wrestlers do things cooperatively in the ring so as to reduce the chance of serious injury. The violence of the NFL is intentional and uncooperative, and makes the League's anti-bullying, anti-domestic violence cries seem at least vaguely hypocritical. The WWE is self aware. It doesn't promote violence per se. The NFL is at least arguably schizophrenic. Its violence is encouraged while its mouthpieces say things radically opposite of the attitudes encouraged for play in an actual game.

We find we can take the wrestlers' anti-bullying pleas more seriously. Football meanwhile needs to realize that it's very difficult if not impossible to demand qualities on the field which would not generally be tolerated off of it, and expect not to attract violent types or simply assume that such violence will automatically contain itself off the gridiron. Indeed, that legitimizing violence in one area must, however subtly, encourage it in others. Until the purveyors of American football admit this, we cannot take their anti-domestic violence actions seriously.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ray Rice and Evil

Wow. We're glad the Ray Rice thing is behind us. Otherwise, we wouldn't have anything to talk about.

Okay, we ended that last sentence with a preposition, and that worries us. But we suspect that no one cares. Nor do we worry that our grammar at the beginning of our second paragraph is suspect too. Did we forget a comma somewhere, or employ one errantly? As likely as not, yes, so much so that we ended that sentence with a preposition as well. But you might notice we've corrected, or tried to correct ourselves, as well. Thank you if you have done so much, and thank you more if you care.

A couple of days ago we alluded to the Ray Rice incident. Well, we suppose we more than alluded. We kinda sorta compared it with the dismissal of a gay, cohabitataing, pregnant out of wedlock teacher at Marian High School in Farmington, Michigan. We chided society for its clear lack of morals. We did, really. And we meant it.

But now we should make ourselves clear. Especially as so many folk have missed the message we were attempting to send.

Ray Rice was wrong. What he did was reprehensible, and indefensible. He has been properly condemned by all involved, as it should be. Yet his prosecutors have convicted him of a crime far more heinous, in their eyes, than what we have done (that dreaded preposition hangs there once more). He has violated an obvious, and righteous, societal norm. Therefore, he is evil incarnate. He has done something physically wrong rather than than abstractly wrong. Abstractions simply are beyond our comprehension. Therefore, they are never wrong.

Therefore, Ray Rice is evil and gay sex, and pregnancy out of wedlock, is okay. And we wonder why the western world has gone wrong.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ray Rice and Fired Gay Teachers

Ray Rice has been fired by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the National Football League, due to the abuse he allegedly (we feel we must say that, for all the supposedly legal reasons) inflicted upon his then fiancee and now wife, Janay Rice. This is a good and proper thing for the NFL to have done, despite Mrs. Rice's apparent feelings towards her husband, professional football, football fans, the media, and the incident in question. Still, we cannot resist the question we feel is obvious in today's liberal/libertarian society, a question ironically asked most often by whose are liberal or libertarian: what does his off field behavior have to do with his ability to do his job? A job he has done quite well, by many measuring sticks.

We cannot help but think of the recent situation involving one Barbara Webb, a gay, cohabitating, pregnant out of wedlock teacher whose contract was not renewed by Marian High School in Farmington, Michigan. What were the chief defenses of her, made by many members of the general society? Well, that she was well liked and did her job well, and that her private life had nothing to do with her job performance.

But neither, arguably, did Ray Rice's, a man who was generally well liked (outside of the one incident) and did his job well. Indeed, if no one knew of what he had done, he would still be liked and lauded for his derring-do on the gridiron.

You might try to change the issue. You might say that what Miss Webb did was not illegal and that's why it didn't matter. Okay, then, let's alter the situation. Let's make assault legal. Could Ray Rice keep his job then?

You might argue that, as an obvious role model, Ray Rice ought to be publicly censored for even his private actions. But then, as even more of a role model than a mere sportsman, shouldn't Barbara Webb's (a teacher, not an athlete) private life should be subject to scrutiny as well, if not more so?

What we have here simply is a case of hypocrisy in its purest form. If our (conservative) ox is being gored, we need to learn compassion, tolerance, and acceptance. But if your (liberal/libertarian) ox is being attacked, damn the man with no excuses. He's a role model whose behavior should not be tolerated.

And there's the rub. Does one's private life matter to the general public or not? If it does not, then both Rice and Webb should each keep their jobs. If it does, then each should be subject to public and private censure. All we ask for is for a rational consistency and the justice which comes with it. Yet we doubt that can be had from a selfish, nihilistic society.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Animal rights in China; Abortion in America

A city in China has killed nearly 5,000 dogs in an attempt to stunt the spread of rabies. Baoshan, in southwestern Yunnan province, did so after saying that there were five human deaths because of the disease. This follows closely with an incident in the city of Hanzhong, which reportedly killed about 37,000 dogs after an out break of rabies there in 2009. Dog lovers and animal rights activists are outraged.

We understand why they're so upset. The killing of dogs is far more of an concern than than the killing of human beings in China via abortion. Animals have rights which babies do not, and the animal rights enthusiasts, speaking for the animals, of course, want to make sure the animals are heard. It's too bad there is no Lorax speaking for aborted babies, or maybe the issue would get the attention it merits.

Anyway, we do understand why they are incensed. Some of the dogs were reportedly clubbed to death, an action which we cannot supported because it's inhumane, and the activists argue that vaccination would do the trick rather than exterminating the animals. The arguments do, on the surface, make sense. But do they actually believe that they will make sense to the Chinese authorities? These are people who ran tanks over their own citizens rather than tolerate protests and moved entire cities in order to flood out areas for the production of electricity. Why should think for a moment that a dog's life would matter to them?

We can't help but wonder too if all those folks riled up over animal rights were any more riled up over conscious decisions to flood out ages old towns, or more upset at the horrors of Tiananmen Square? Indeed, are they for abortion while having the pretension to speak for Fido? Because if they aren't upset at the human cost of Chinese authority, and we suspect that many were indeed not, and if favor abortion, which we suspect many do, then we find ourselves with little sympathy for their cause. Such folks are arguably mere hypocrites who we must urge to get their own houses in order before they concern themselves with Chinese animal control policy.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The NFL and domestic violence

Will Leitch, a senior writer for something called Sports on Earth among other things, has written in this past Sunday's edition of USA Weekend, that American football is wrong for attempting to tone down the actions of its players, especially the on field but also the off field antics. He apparently does not like the new rules against excessive celebration and dunking the ball over the goalpost after a touchdown, for example, lamenting that the NFL is denying players their personality, whatever that means.

Well, we'll tell you what that means: it means showboating or grandstanding, things themselves which were once thought unsportsmanlike. The NFL is quite right in trying to eliminate such aspects of the game.

They are sports, after all. Mere games which, for a long time anyway, we were encouraged to participate in for exercise as well as to learn how to be good sports. This surely means that you do not rub your opponents face into the ground when you're just beaten him for a score. Some high fives and a few a few pats on the helmet should be all the celebration you need, allowing for greater celebrations at more climatic moments to be fair.

Mr. Leitch claims that fans often want individual players to rise above the game. This is a good point, yet not for the reasons he seems to believe. He uses, wrongly, we're wont to think, Michael Jordan as an example of such rising. But did Mr. Jordan 'rise' by belittling his opponents, or by carousing all hours of the day and night? Not that we know. We believe that better exemplars of becoming more than the game come through respecting the game and its fans, transcending their sport to a level which takes the game upwards with them. In local lore this would be such folk heroes as Al Kaline and Alan Trammell, and more broadly the soon to be retired Derek Jeter, whose grace and class both on and off the field has made their sublime legacies better for all three as well as for baseball itself.

We cannot help but think that it is no coincidence that the arrogant, thug mentality which has permeated American football for so many years has made so many players less than stellar citizens. Hardly a day goes by without news of some new domestic violence issue, or gunshot at a nightclub involving an NFL player. The League is trying to address those questions too. As it should. But at the end of the day, sports should be sportsmanlike. That means essentially that you let your actions speak for you. If those actions are profound enough, the player will receive his due. If he must advertise for them, he likely doesn't merit the accolades anyway.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Justice, Ferguson, and the 14th Amendment

The Police Chief of Ferguson, Missouri has said that he and his department will cooperate with the Justice Department as it launches a civil rights investigation against them. This is something separate from its investigation in the shooting of Michael Brown several weeks ago by a Ferguson police officer. Many questions will be asked, and many of them no doubt pertinent to the inquiry. Yet one question will not be asked, and it might be the most important question out there.

Wither the 14th Amendment?

That Amendment states that citizens of a state are citizens of the United States and thus subject to it. It all sounds very good, until you stop to consider one thing: the degree to which it has helped Washington to become the monolith which it has become.

You don't think that's bad? Well, what about diversity of opinion? That seems pretty well squelched since now all rights are overseen by DC. Many things once left to the states are now driven by Washington either directly or through its courts. Abortion? Justified at least partly on the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment. Gay marriage? Ditto. Bans on prayer in schools were supported similarly. And why were they all passed, or forced upon us by a federal court? Not for some sound Constitutional reason, but through Radical Republicans seeking to punish the South after the Civil War.

We are not saying, though we will be accused of it, that we are against civil rights. What we are saying is that our collective will is being slowly eroded as we are made to do what Washington believes right than in deciding such issues for ourselves at the state level. The radical expansion of federal power since the 1860s is slowly removing our rights. The the increasingly more powerful will of those often in the minority using the federal courts to force their will on us through the 14th Amendment, as well as the greater bravado from Washington in promising the people bread and circuses rather than justice, means that Washington can enforce what it wants in the area of civil rights. And it does so, generally following vaguely populist sentiment rather than rational standards.

We are also not saying, though we will be accused of it too, that Michael Brown, the citizens of Ferguson, and yes, Officer Darren Wilson as well, do not deserve justice. Of course they do. Yet it should not be coming from Eric Holder. It should be coming from the citizens of Missouri.

Wait. That's right; they don't exist anymore.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Arrogance and the Gay Rights Movement

A gay teacher has been fired by Marian High school in Bloomfield Hills, ostensibly for being pregnant. She is not married and has been with a 'partner' for more than five years. In short, she may have been terminated for not one, not two, but three reasons, all of which are clearly in violation of traditional Roman Catholic theology. And she would not be the first teacher relieved of duties at a Catholic school for similar reasons.

We hear now, as we have before when other instructors openly defiant of Catholic dogma have been fired, that the chemistry teacher, one Barbara Webb, was an inspiration and that the Church is somehow wrong about the issue. After all, we're supposed to be tolerant and accepting, aren't we, fellow Christians? Never mind that those arguing for tolerance and acceptance are, by the very nature of their assertions, being themselves intolerant and unaccepting of Catholics.

Ms. Webb has asked that people stand up for change. This is nothing more than prattle: the best response to being asked by others to change, that is, to conform to their will rather than your own, is to ask them to change to your point of view, if it's really only about change anyway. They won't, because they don't mean change anymore than they mean tolerate or accept. How can anyone, with the barest moment of thought, take such arguments seriously?

Because we're not asked to think. We're asked to emote, and without consideration of whether emotion hurts or helps the questions at hand.

This simply should not be news. An employee who openly defies the religious rules of a private, mainstream religious institution should expect to be fired. Knowing the likely outcome if their situation should become too clear to ignore, which surely Ms. Webb knew when she took the job, reeks of an arrogance normally reserved for the haters of religion: you can't tell me what to do, but I sure as Hades can tell you.

Yet Marian High School and the Catholic Church are the bad guys here. It is truly a warped world we have these days.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day 2014

Labor Day weekend is upon us, and that means many things to many people. Mostly, it seems, it is meant to be a relaxing time with family and friends. There's nothing with that, of course. But what is Labor Day really, and how does it relate to conservatism?

It is intended, most would say, as a celebration of the labor of the working men and women of our country. Fair enough; labor in all its forms is the backbone of our economy. Further, a fair days' work is something which ought to be prized and seen proudly. The contributions which we make to society when we engage in wholesome work should be satisfying to workers and the beneficiaries of work on about the same plane.

Yet the honor of Labor Day is felt with particular pride in and around Detroit and Wayne County, and why not? As the cradle of the automotive industry and the famed arsenal of democracy during World War II, among other contributions to Americana, we should feel good about our place in history. Then too, with our local economy being so hard hit by the recession, we may well feels the pangs of economic restriction more keenly than many other places in the country.

So where does this leave us with regard to the right wing? Simply that, seen in the, ahem, right light, conservatism is a great friend to the worker. Conservatism respects the rights of all, particularly, believe it or not, those most susceptible to economic strife. Conservatism recognizes the value of work and of the worker, and more, of the rights inherent in work. We respect the right of the individual to seek gainful employment in an open arena of job seekers and employers working freely and respectfully towards everyone's best interest. Conservatism, if allowed to become fully operational, would let the market works its wonders, and everyone would benefit, as they did in the Reagan years and also, truth be told, in the Clinton years under a Republican Congress which did more for the general welfare than our philanderous ex-President.

In short, conservatives are for labor. With the right amount of consideration in return, we could see this current mess ended quickly and spectacularly.