Friday, June 19, 2015
As stated by the young man who murdered nine good people, it was his aim to kill "those people" in order to start a race war, which makes his actions clearly racially motivated. Ergo, he is a racist.
But as of today, I have not seen anybody refuse to admit there is racism in this country. Not one. Indeed, there is no clear evidence before me that anybody has said white people can not be, are not bigots, have no trace of racist thoughts within them. We all know, and most admit, that there will always be those who prefer the company of those who look like themselves, disregarding the other commonalities. In a free society, it will always be their prerogative to be ignorant, to choose poorly. That does not mean the whole of society is driven by that ignorant behavior.
What I have seen is a years-long habit of labeling disagreement over policy as racism. What I have seen is a decades-long habit of calling crime statistics "evidence of racism" in law enforcement, without taking into consideration other factors. What I have seen is a justice system being labeled as racist because "a black man can't get a break" even when Michael Jackson, Orenthal J. Simpson, and others with money walk, despite the overwhelming evidence the public sees against them.
Even now, there are those who use the social media to "prove" the racial bias of law enforcement by displaying side-by-side photographs of a black scofflaw who died while resisting arrest and the non-confrontational capture of the very white Charleston terrorist. Obviously, to the people who post the paired images, there is nothing but open racism on display. There is no possibility in their minds that, ultimately, the behavior of each criminal is what will define the end result.
Again, I am in no wise saying there is no such thing as racism in this country – that would be an absurd statement no matter how peaceful our neighborhoods. What I am saying is, for years there have been cries of of racism a reasonable person would ascribe to other factors. It doesn't matter to some. The accusation makes it so. In this manner, as long as the accused continue to deny that racial bias has been the primary factor in X or Y or Z, then when a clear case of bigotry comes along, the accusers feel justified in shouting, "See? See? Racism is everywhere! And you're a racist to deny it!"
If there is no possibility of any other motivation, then people should go ahead and call it by its rightful name, call it bigotry. But it dulls the meaning and stops real conversation when it gets tossed willy-nilly into every disagreement. And, where good people argue that racism is not the cause at hand, it is equally counterproductive to claim that there has been blanket denial of the presence of any such discrimination.
This is antithetical to free discourse. It is absurd. And it needs to stop.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Around 5:30 yesterday morning, my alma mater, Monmouth College, suffered an accident which first required the help of the city fire department and then one of those professional cleaning crews. From what I was told later in the day, there was an explosion in the chemistry lab of the new business and science center, involving an organic compound in faulty storage.
My source tells me that the probable cause of the fire was several containers of ether having been stored in a somewhat-less-than-safe refrigerator. Said fridge, as its thermostat directed, would switch off and on, and each time it came back on, would create a small electrical spark in the motor...ultimately igniting vapors of the ether within. This caused an explosion which shook the entire building, causing "at least a half a million dollars in damages" to the newest academic building on campus.
We are all very lucky that this occurred when few students were awake and in the building.
We are not so lucky in this community when it comes to information. I learned details of the incident fully thirteen hours after it occurred, and then only because a member of the family spends his days on campus, and explained to us at dinner what all the fuss of the morning had been.
We have a daily local newspaper. Our neighboring city has a daily newspaper. Neither of them has seen fit to run anything about this on their web pages yesterday afternoon or this morning, about why the Monmouth fire department sped to the scene in the pre-dawn hour. And I guess none of the regional television news teams has anybody tipping them to real events in our sleepy little village, because I can't seem to find any mention of the accident anywhere -- even though one of them had a charming article about a cat stuck in a tree.
I am grateful to the powers that be for the news that there were no injuries in the explosion (I shudder to imagine, had it been later in the day, with the building full of people). I would also be grateful, though, if the news had come to me through something other than private channels. As a member of the community, I would like to believe we are better served than this.
Monday, March 30, 2015
Some of my own best friends are scrawling all over the social media in defense of the right of gays to bully Christians into making offerings at their temple of hedonism. That is their right. You can believe whatever you want about the law. You can even, as a private citizen, act upon your beliefs.
As a private citizen, you may at any time throw your own personal weight around, gather your friends together and threaten a boycott, or use all other forms of private persuasion to get businesses to do your bidding. But now the law of the land of Indiana matches that of the nation, in saying that you may not use the force of government to compel an individual or business to perform something which goes against its religious teachings. It states that deep and abiding faith is a fair defense, in court. It doesn't say that it's a good idea. It doesn't mandate the barring of gays or blacks or the out-of-shape from public parks or private parties, and doesn't reinstate laws against sodomy, miscegenation, or wearing a thong bikini at a public beach, even if many people would welcome the return of some form of discretion as applies to such lunar events. All it does is reiterate that the right you are born with – the right to defend yourself – is protected by law.
The gay community is far from endangered by the possibility that a few of the faithful own and operate businesses which will not grant them their every whim. Indeed, in this country, the gay community is so far from endangered they'd need the Hubble scope to spot any light of said threat. It should show up on NASA's monitors in a few aeons.
Yet in the most recent cases of Christians who were forced by the courts to participate in rites which were strongly against the teachings of their own faith – or, ultimately, go out of business – it has been made obvious there is a threat in the other direction. There is clear evidence that more than a few Christians have seen themselves targeted for not going along with the groupthink du jour. In the case of the baker who would not make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple's union, the baker believed the couple were her friends. She was not refusing to do any business with the couple – in fact, she offered several alternatives, and even suggested other bakers who might be eager for the business. But this couple had to make their point, that the Christian was depriving them of their right to force her to do their will.
The law says you have to give in to our demands, because yours is a service industry, and service means you're a servant, and servant means obey or be punished. Sadly, a court seems to have agreed. The bakery has been closed down as a result of the complaint and subsequent legal and financial tangles.
But this new Indiana law means you can ostracize me for being gay!
Well, no. The law, to quote Dickens, is a ass…but not that big a ass, this time.
The law had already said the government may not compel you to pay tithes or make other offerings to a church to which you don't belong, which may be argued as to apply to creative works and others' ceremonies and rites. An artist has also traditionally had great latitude in deciding where his works would end up. That seems to be changing, depending upon the politics of the parties involved.
Even so, this new Indiana law does not add to or subtract from that. This was, in its barest essence, reestablishing the right of persons of faith to a hearing, if some person or group tries to force the issue.
The right to be heard, and to attempt defend their actions (or inaction).
Nothing more, nothing less.
While we're waiting for the enthusiastic repeal of the rights of Christians (and members of other faiths) to defend themselves, I'm sure we'll see a rash of Indiana businesses suddenly putting up signs in their windows with long lists of the kinds of people they will no longer serve, because that sort of thing is always good for business, isn't it? – especially in competitive times. Gays and nazis and atheists and agnostics and blacks and women should stock up on what they want, because any day now, we'll all be locked out of every store, every business, every service, because…Christians!!!!
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
No, I'm not suddenly converted to some secure faith, comfortable that I have a place in the immortal realm. In fact, I'm probably less sure of my future than ever. But I will say, as a reasoning human being, that I find reality seems a mighty irrational, unreasoning thing.
Where is the logic, where is the reason in any life? From the moment life begins, it is doomed to end, likely to feed another doomed life. The merest cell, though, does everything it can to survive. It pushes itself through chaos, consuming others to become itself, sometimes to exist for only a few short minutes, sometimes for days, sometimes even longer, perhaps to transform itself into part of something even larger. Does it reason its existence? Does something else provide its reason? Reason, such as it is, tells us we are incapable of knowing the answer to the latter.
Life, itself, is without any apparent logic.
Out of seeming chaos, despite all logic, we live. Despite all reason, through that chaos, we choose to continue to live. Despite all reason, we find ways to enjoy the random nature of our existences. We find joy in our lives. We find laughter, or we make it. We make music. We make art. We make love. None of these things has even the remotest basis in logic, and yet, it is logical to pursue it all, because without it, there truly is no reason continue a life.
And so it is, for those who have faith. There is no logic behind the choice but that which says that to believe in an unseen force, a higher power, is to enhance one's existence in some way that defies reasoned language. This is not necessarily a bad thing in a human being. After all, it was those who believed in a Higher power who set themselves to the task of proving His laws. Those ambitious few established scientific method of inquiry, by which reason may be supported. And that scientific inquiry is what made modern technology possible, bringing joy by way of advanced medicine, travel, communication, diet, and so on, to many more who otherwise would have lived and died in misery.
Without the illogical mind, this would not exist
Neither would this
let alone this
So, believing in the unlikely has long had its place in society. A little lack of logic is not to be mocked. It's only reasonable.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
|Friends, memorial, Nebraska|
|Happy mountain is happy|
Sunday, September 21, 2014
|I kid you not. This was looking toward Cheyenne.|
We were pretty much socked in until we neared the Nebraska state line,
when the fog lifted and we rode forth in intermittent rain.
|Well, whoopee! Let's have a parade!|
Her mood was improved, but that didn't mean we were going to stop for anything but fuel, still.
Naturally, I continued to stare out the window and take pictures of
the Great American Midwest Landscape
Until we passed through Des Moines and came out the other side with a full tank, heading southeast on US-65. Then I got a bonus activity…
|Des Moines, IA. Government is Golden.|
Seriously. If you have never driven the stretch of highway from Des Moines to Ottumwa, you do not know what shaking is. I don't care if you spent your career riding a jackhammer atop an out-of-balance washing machine anchored to an earthquake simulator, you have not been shaken the way US Highway 65 (and eventually US-63) will shake you. It is not safe to take babies on this road, for fear their little brains will rattle loose and Family Services will have you up on abuse charges.
|If I could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate, I'd still be too stable for this road|
Modern chemistry is my lifeline, but there were long moments when I seriously wondered if there were a lifeboat tethered at its other end, or just some a-hole shark yanking me around.
|Agribusiness. It's a beautiful thing|
|I like people who have definite plans|
It looked as though we were following on the heels of some pretty serious wetness.
I was hoping it would be just fast enough ahead of us to be done raining when it came time to unload my crap (and my poor lumbering self) from the truck.
|Warmly ignored by the old M|
|and P. Such enthusiasm!|