Originally posted on July 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM
I’d been meaning to write this entry on something else but felt I needed to clear this topic first. The Westboro Baptist Church has been in the news again of late; first for their predictably reprehensible attempts to disrupt the funerals for the 19 heroes who recently gave their lives fighting fire in Arizona, then for a predictably cowardly response from the White House. The WBC, we are given to understand, isn’t a hate group? My response is “why the hell not?!” I’ve got a feeling that if NAACP conventions or memorials for Dr. Martin Luther King were being invaded by spiritually diseased bigots, said bigots and the church they hide behind would quickly become a hate group.
I want to be very clear in saying that no, I don’t want NAACP meetings or King memorials to be invaded by diseased bigots, in the same way that I don’t want somebody burning flags, whether it be mine or someone else’s. There are just some things that honorable people don’t do. No one’s memorial should be a venue for picketing and castigation.
Freedom of speech? Horse droppings! We’ve never truly had absolute freedom of speech in the days of the founders (When a man was dragged out of a tavern and jailed for saying he didn’t care if they fired a cannon ball through John Adams’s ass, he wouldn’t watch the presidential parade), or now when persons who threaten the President are rounded up prior to a visit by the Chief Executive. We also can’t run through a building yelling “fire!” And racial slurs are fast on their way to becoming illegal.
There is no biblical justification whatever for the activities of the Westboro Baptist Church does and as far as I can see, it’s not truly a church. Religious Freedom? Road apples! We don’t allow human sacrifice in America even with the First Amendment, even though human sacrifice has a venerable history. With George W. Bush’s Faith-based Initiative, Wicca was excluded as a religion even though it clearly is; and I heard very little protest except from Wiccan folks. If our president and Federal law-keeping agencies haven’t the grit to put the Westboro Baptist Church on a par with people who hurl racial invective let’s at least deny them tax-exempt status. Perhaps that will cut down on travel funds.
First posted on February 8, 2013 at 1:35 PM
When I was six I remember my cousin Dave Ville telling about a dream he had one night about being in Red China. He said there were bombs which followed everyone around and if you said or did anything wrong, you’d get blown up. Dave said he got killed right away and had evidently lain dead for a while then at the end of the dream there were a lot of bright lights and things looked “real pretty.” There may’ve been more to the dream but this was the gist.
What did all of this mean? Perhaps just a manifestation of the pervasive fear of Communism common to most of us from the ‘50s through the ‘70s, followed with a hope for the Day of Judgment which might reverse death for the Just? Who knows? My cousin’s dream has just been something I’ve recalled from time to time when contemplating what it might be like to live in a totalitarian society. It was just a 13-year-old boy’s fantasy of course and no nation could actually have bombs following their citizens around.
Alas, things change though, and fantasies sometimes come true. For all of the bashing George W. Bush got during his terms as president (and I am no particular admirer of Past President Bush) I think it’s chillingly fascinating that the president who has actually deployed drone missiles (possibly the ultimate in automatic weapons) is held to be a liberal and a champion of human rights. And now we are told American citizens are subject to robot bombing, even without evidence. Is there any difference at least at the higher levels, between a war-mongering militarist fundamentalist and a war-mongering humanist, social agendaist or does it all have to do with who holds the reins (or the remote control?) I think most of us wanted a change in ’04 and we got one sort of, but is anything improving or were we better off with what we had?
Originally posted on December 31, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Dr. Bill Aimes, my U.W. Communications History prof, told us that if we wanted to be assured of of being remembered by succeeding generations we should take time every day and write down what was going on in the world and what impressions we had of it and what other people were saying about it. He said that diaries are typically tedious sources of historical information, adding that the diaries of Women from the 19th Century were especially bad because accounts of overland journeys for example were typically filled with ruminations on bowels and bladder. (As it happens I’m having some intestinal complaints at the moment but won’t take further space discussing them.)
I’ve never disciplined myself to do a current events journal on a daily bais what I guess we’d call a news blog today but I do take time every January 1st to set down what I’ve accomplished in the past year, what I hope to do in the following year and what events in the news over the past year have seemed particularly significant to me. Of course to more recent event from last year will more likely tend to be remembered than those from last January. I started this practice when I was a Junior in high school, back when nobody owned personal computers and nobody suspected that personal computers would be primarily used as communication devices when they were available. I think the first time I did my annual summary I simply had a few items of interest of which I wanted to keep track and decided to handle it as a short report. The idea seemed good so the following year I wrote something longer and more structured. I kept up the practice through college and most of the years after and I’ve been pretty faithful for the last couple of decades.
I guess if I had to justify the human race to an interstellar council like in Heinlein’s “Have Space Suit Will Travel” I’d just as soon not base my defense on 2012. Between many public and mass murders, a shooting of a high school girl advocating for women’s rights in Afghanistan, a gang rape of a woman in India on a public bus! And the general background bellicosity with which we’re all too familiar, it appears that some portion of us at least are bidding for attention of a very negative sort. Our presidential election was another glum choice between unpalatable alternatives. Again our Congress is holding the country to ransom because they’d rather be premadonnas than do the work they are elected (and paid) to do.
Even at the worst of times, there are rays of light. A couple of decades ago a young girl being shot because of daring to seek education for herself and others might have passed entirely unnoticed. In the wake of the gang rape, women (and some young men) in India are militating against the common abuse of women. There appear to be some signs, however sluggish that the economy may be rallying. We may as a country be trying to come together around the idea that we aren’t providing adequate protection for our children. As to how we should address this of course, we’re as divided as ever but at least we have a common ultimate objective. We have probes on Mars. We have commercial orbital resupply capability for the International Space Station and near-at-hand human transport capability from the same source. We have good directions in which to turn if only we will take them. On my three acres I’m trying to show sustainability potential and a sort of eco-techno ambassadorship.
The year just past was a questionable one but not a lot worse or a lot better than some others in recent memory. If it has a lesson to teach I think it is along the line of remembering. I mean let’s remember what’s going on right now and next time we get a chance to stand up and make a choice let’s remember and act accordingly. Keep track of your State and Federal Representatives and if they appear to be part of the deadlock rather than part of the across-the-aisle reachers, remember that and vote those folks out of House and Senate, State Legislature and City Council. Let’s get some new blood flowing, some new idea perculating. Let’s see what we can do about reintroducing statesmanship instead of inventorying Deadwood. To many people the number thirteen is unlucky but I’m not aware that there need be anything wrong with two thousand thirteen!
Blessings to all for the New Year.