Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013: Views of the World

From what I can tell, 95 percent of white pride is bitching about the two or three privileges that whites don’t have, all of which exist to compensate for centuries of white oppression. And 99 percent of the other five percent is sneering defiance of those who are so mean as to make racism some kind of hate crime.

There's nothing natural about proposing, announcing an engagement, purchasing artificially expensive rocks on rings, sending out invitations, establishing a gift registry, holding a wedding and reception, sharing legal rights and all the other trappings that come with the institution of matrimony ...

Principal: "This is a direct attack on our school athletes and we cannot allow it to stand."

Coach: "Teague runs track. He's an athlete too."

Vice Principal: "Doesn't matter. He made a mild crack at sports and there's honor for us to defend."

Science teacher: "Why?"

Band teacher: "Yeah, why?"

Vice Principal: "Because as the most popular group in this school or any school, they have such delicate sensibilities."

Principal: "We'd do the same for any group if they were the coolest in school."

Brokeback Fountainhead
A Very Anti-Brady Sequel
Stop or My Mom Will Shoot Because That's the Point of America
The Nightmare Before the War on Christmas
Harold & Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay Criticism
Boyz N the Hoods

The My Way or the Highwaymen
For-Profit Medicyndi Lauper
Let the Eagles Soar
Wings Take Dream
Joe McCarthy and Wingnuts
SUV Halen
Inhuman League
Panic! It's San Francisco

"Tolerance" is the idea that we accept different cultures and viewpoints. We may or may not identify or agree with such expression, but it's allowed and welcomed in society. The idea behind this, aside from general humanity, is that learning more about others makes us better people. What it doesn't mean is that we have to be tolerant of intolerance.

“What does the GOP have to attract blacks? Or, for that matter, women and youth?”

“We want them to have the opportunity to succeed on their own merits, without government interference.”

“So, nothing.”

“Right. It’s an incentive to succeed.”

We’re in a new age of discouragement, telling students not to expect too much. Perhaps that’s preferable to the apparent bait-and-switch that blindsided this generation, but it still seems wrong somehow. It’s one thing to acknowledge reality; it’s another entirely to resign oneself to it. We should always strive to improve, no matter how much of a struggle that is. Past generations didn’t settle, and neither should we.

Snowden isn't sharing a bombshell intended to startle the public without regard for personal consequences — he's telling us specifically classified information to reinforce what we already know, and is now trying to evade the fallout of that illegal action. There's nothing particularly courageous or enlightening about that.

Someone insisted to me the other day that racism is over. Finished. With an absolute straight face. Why would anyone make this argument?

To be any kind of equivalent story to Trayvon, the court would have to prove that the perpetrators targeted the man because of his combat status or his race. And even then, they’d have to go free due to a flawed prosecution or other inherent advantages that the system gives black teenagers who confess to murder.

I'm used to austerity and all the self-defeating trappings that go with it. I'm not sure the feeling will ever entirely go away. People I know who have made lots of money for years after decades of struggle still exhibit extreme thriftiness.

It’s almost as if you have an itchy trigger finger and think you can solve all of your problems with violence and firearms. Where ever did you get that idea? Such a bad way of goin’ about things this time.

I've sat in many a meeting and press conference where branders have gone off in mind-numbing detail about what each tiny change to a design signifies. Because of course every curve and serif has to have some deep meaning that makes The Da Vinci Code look like Green Eggs and Ham. Somehow, those meanings are always news to me. Maybe I'm just not the target audience ever.

“Congress had to be forced into taking Obamacare! If it was good enough for them in the first place, they would have taken it to begin with.”

“Sigh. Again, Congress wouldn’t need it in principle, because the point of the legislation is to provide options for those who don’t have them, not for those who do.”

“What business does Congress have, legislating our lives like that?”

None of the rich people who complain about high taxation and regulation ever seem particularly tempted to give it all up. Occasionally they'll whine about how lucky poor people have it; but at the end of the day, all the red tape in the world isn't going to keep them from their capitalistic pursuits. I can't think of a time it ever has. It's hot air.

When the poor and middle class get an income boost, they go out and spend that money. When individuals and families can meet their needs, that makes them healthier and happier, and thus more productive and self-sufficient. The money they earn and spend then boosts the economy, benefiting retailers and the rest of the business community. It also shores up the tax base, which helps improve public services and infrastructure. Everyone benefits on every level.

If these guys were on a Comedy Central show as an example of the worst Halloween costume ever, being presented as satirical specimens of how low humanity can go and getting a massive, well-deserved comeuppance at the end, it would still be hard to laugh at this. Regardless of where one stands on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman confrontation, who on Planet Earth would think it’s funny to dress up as the overzealous watchman and the blood-stained, unarmed, dead teenager?

And that’s not even taking into account the blackface that would probably compel Al Jolson to ask that guy to tone it down a bit.

I remember years ago when Obama assured insured people that they wouldn't have to give up a plan they liked. It was a response to fears that Obamacare was going to be a centralized, government-run plan that everyone was going to be forced into. The remark was a clarification that the act was meant for those who couldn't afford or secure insurance before. The debate is completely different now.

Can smoking pot be considered a form of free speech? No, it can't.

Today, we have 24/7 news, the Internet, Twitter and smartphones. We're used to unrest, political polarization and endless war and danger. Our hope every day is our leaders, not to mention the rest of us, aren't shot while going about the day. No tragedy is completely unexpected. And when it happens, conspiracy theorists will inevitably rise up and huff about us not knowing The Real Truth. We're all inherently jaded at the possibility of chaos. I'm too young to know for sure, but I suspect the events of 50 years ago represented the biggest leap toward this in our lifetimes.

I am almost never impressed with religious leaders. By and large, they are overly dogmatic, controlling and right-wing. There are always exceptions, of course, but they’re rare and their voices are often drowned out (when not snuffed out). As far as Christianity goes, we hear far more often about the need to worship Jesus than to live by the lessons that he taught. There’s a huge difference between the two, and the wrong one too often wins.

Phil’s freedom of speech has in no way been infringed. He spoke his mind, and both critics and defenders have exercised their speech in return. That’s no travesty — if anything, this is what makes America great.

"This video examines angles that the mainstream media won't."

"Because they're fringe views legitimized only by selective editing."

"Maybe. But hey, the video at least made you think."

"Think about what? How crank conspiracies have become mainstream in our attempt to deny that we have a problem with guns? Or a black president?"

"It led to some interesting discussion."

"No. It lent credence to ideas that don't deserve it."

Your gun has nothing to do with my free speech.

The Second Amendment doesn’t guard the First Amendment. Each amendment is lateral, a course in a complete meal. That said, the First Amendment holds a particular importance because the Constitution itself is the ultimate act of free speech. It (along with its attendant Bill of Rights) is an audacious document written to combat tyranny and protect inherent rights, including the right of defense. I’m not up on the metric system, but I’m sure the Constitution is not a bullet. If weapons were all we needed to form and protect a nation, then pieces of paper would be moot. But the Founding Fathers were interested in establishing something far more solid than an armed anarchy.

Gun rhetoric is not about moderation. Anything to the left of all access, all the time, for everyone, is un-American. Gun enthusiasts have turned the Second Amendment into a bunker to hide behind, not welcoming even the slightest probe into its wording. Forget liberals and other gun-control advocates — these people can't even tolerate one of their own wanting to tap on the brakes ever so slightly.

Fire extinguishers are exactly like guns.

People who own fire extinguishers are constantly harping on how having one is the definition of being a homeowner. And that everyone who enjoys the ability to live in a structure in America does so thanks to the efforts of those smart enough to stockpile fire extinguishers.

I have an idea for a collective resolution for 2014. Let's bury the saying, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."

No comments: