Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Political Correctness VS. Thoughtful and Frank Debate

A Fire storm has erupted this week concerning race relations and the way they are viewed by a Duke University Professor of Political Science. Jerry Hough is 80 years old and has made some very un-politically correct opinions concerning differences as he see's it, between Asian Americans and African Americans. His opinion is that that the first group has worked harder to integrate with its new affiliation of being Americans than the second group.

First, I must relate to you, that whether you agree with what this professor has said or how he has stated it, is not what I am choosing to focus on. The point that I believe is relevant is what the proffessor stated as a rebuttal to the critisism of his original statements, and that is;  the way we dance around controversial subjects, gets in the way of engaging in meaningful conversation.
To this point, I entirely agree with Professor Hough, and you can too, if you think about it. Think of other controversial figures from our history, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Samuel Clemens, Sir.Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and many others across the history of mankind, stretching across the whole world and all races. Pick whomever you wish from your list of admired personalities and most likely there will be others who believe that the one you admire is a complete despot. Certainly you could use Adolf Hitler as an example here.

Today, most charged subjects, such as racism, are uncomfortable to talk about, and opinions are guarded by most when, and if they choose to broach the subject. But when we do choose to tackle them, are we now using kid gloves in the discourse? Are we being too sensitive in our discussion so as not offend? Maybe we should start our conversations with a disclaimer such as Warning! Deep Dark Waters Ahead! Do Not Swim Farther Unless You Are Willing To Suffer The Consequences!
Much too often the rebuttal to discourse from anyone who doesn't wish to offend sensitive feelings is the phrase " You're a Racist!" or "You're Prejudiced!", this statement, of course, ends the conversation quite abruptly. How can you argue that point unless you at first embrace it? This is what I will now endeavor to do; no matter which uncomfortable, unpleasant, distasteful subject that we now face please understand this about me; I am not prejudiced; I hate everybody and everything equally. Happy now? Now  that we have gotten that out of the way, let's talk.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Having an opinion is, I would say, a fundamental human right. Notice that I did not say a 'God given right', although I personally believe that it does qualify in that category as well. In everyday life what we see and hear can affect our thinking in a very  profound way. In America, political and religious differences can be very pronounced. Differences based on rights of individuals are challenged everyday, and although violence can be a product of theses differences, they usually, or at least, vary rarely end with a large mob of individuals in search of a perceived injustice. The last of this type of citizen justice posse were nothing more than racial lynch mobs. Hiding behind lies that targeted minorities out of convenience. Thankfully we have moved forward from those dark times, but as the news of police and citizen killings suggest; we still have a long way to go.

In other countries, this type of mob violence is often met by authorities as something that they are powerless to stop. Usually the feeling one gets is of the unspoken opinion that states; it is better to keep your opinion to yourself. In Bangladesh, near the northern Bay of Bengal, those engaged in Blogging, such as the one you are reading now, have come under attack. Blogging about any subject can and maybe should be thought provoking, (if my blog is not I humbly apologize.) But if what you blog about is controversial, should you expect that your opinion will get you mobbed and hacked to death by machete? If that question has never occurred to you then maybe you should read the following:http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/third-bangladesh-blogger-murdered/ar-BBjEpyr

Several bloggers have been murdered in just the way I have described. Why? because they blogged about subjects that are very controversial to many, such as religious, intolerance and belief. Their opinion, fact or not, has cost them their lives. What should you get from this? What is my point?
Simply this; your voice has power, what we do here, matters, and that we may, like others, become subject to the same kind of attack because we choose to openly discuss our differences. These murdered individuals could well be see as martyrs of change, or as threats to basic religious values held by one religion or another. That is for you to decide. Please remember, that as humans with moral or ethical beliefs that we see as 'right', we still must at least be aware that our views maybe violently rejected as 'wrong', please tread accordingly, to the degree of change you are willing to risk.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Whose fault is it when we drink too much?

Every once in a while you come across a story that makes you shake your head. Today is no exception. Recently in central France at a bar called 'La Starter' a man decided that he would take up the challenge of beating the record set the previous evening of 55 shots. This of course conjures up the movie Raiders of the lost Ark where the bar owner is having a shot drinking competition with a customer. The customer who looks fine as he smiles and lifts the shot to his mouth then calmly with smile frozen on his face, falls of his stool.

For those who are not fans of hard liquor or measuring cups, I will put this in perspective for you.
A "shot" is generally one ounce of liquor(most bars, although 1.5 ounces is considered a shot at some establishments that are more liberal) Now the average bottle of liquor is 750 ml., which in bar terms contains about 23 oz. or 23 shots. How is your mental picture coming along? When you read the story, you will find that this warrior of whiskey finished his first 30 shots in just 1 minute, the total being 57 shots! So our hero beats the record...hooray for our side! His daughter helped carry him home. A short story made shorter has this man being carried home by friends and family and the next day, he dies of cardiac arrest. Well, his name will live on the black board behind the bar, but for how long is anyone's guess. Fame can be so fleeting. No word on the guy/gal who did 55 shots the night before.

The law suit will probably get pretty crazy by the time its been hashed out in court and we discover just who is at fault.

The question will revolve around the ethics of allowing someone to sell and allow to be consumed what amounts to 2 1/2 bottles of booze in your business establishment. Most scientists would probably point out the concept of 'Natural Selection' being involved here. That this person lived long enough to have off-spring is definitely surprising. The bar-owner is also possibly, by now, re-thinking this over-the-top competition. I'm sure if you were to check, this competition has been going on for quite sometime, but it appears that the limit has been reached. You might be thinking after what has happened, nobody would be foolish enough to try and beat this new record, right? Uh-huh...sure.


Friday, May 1, 2015

The Rush to Judgement; Who is to Blame? Who will change the future?

This week, the remnants of a neighborhood are still smoking in ashes. When was the last time? Ferguson, New York, the Watts district in California? The issue is certainly contentious. Police Brutality against black Americans is seen as the cause. But what does the aftermath teach us? Instead of being outraged, and rightly so, the focus shifts from the root cause to the destruction of the very place where the people affected live.

Businesses burned and looted, and a senior center destroyed. The argument rages on both sides, one as outraged as the other about the conduct on both sides. I should be clear about one thing; I do not bemoan the death of a drug dealer, I hate the fact that this person lost his life, regardless of his race, color, or creed. Why? Was he involved in criminal activity? If so, the Baltimore Police have a job they must perform. Most unfortunately, the result of this action causes a neighborhood to go up in flames.

Within hours the rap sheet of the dead man had been released on social media. "Well," say residents "We have got to survive, and selling drugs is the way we do it." Really? You don't know me, but I have met more than a few of the bottom dwelling scourge to the human race; those that feed on the weaknesses of others. I am not a cop, but that token answer is on the lips of every hood you will ever meet, white black Asian, native American, etc. Conversations with these yo-yo's usually go like this; "You have made allot of money...why don't get out of where you’re at? Start fresh; change your life, you obviously have got the cash." The hood shifts in his seat and nervously avoids the question with; "well, you know...it's not that easy" Uh-huh, why not just say you like the life? Admit it. And this is my point; the mother who caught her son out contributing to the riots exercised her parental authority by letting her son know that it wasn't right. Unfortunately, no matter how good a parent you are, your children will one day decide, on their own, what is right for them.

Do I believe all the dis-enfranchised are stuck with bad parents, certainly not! That mother in Baltimore is living, breathing proof that just because you live in a poor neighborhood, doesn’t mean you don’t have ethics or morals and it certainly doesn’t mean that you haven’t been active in the lives of your children. The death of any man in this situation should be investigated, but let’s ask the uncomfortable questions. Where would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have stood? The harder thing to do would have been restraint. It is harder not to destroy. Organization and pulling together the neighborhood to protest, that would have garnered results that would have been more effective. It was the destruction of a life under unknown circumstances that has started the chain of events that has thus far led to the same conclusion no matter where the violent protests originate. Dr. King was a man who knew how to effect change, In the times that have followed their were those who tried to fill his shoes, but their message became clouded in the inconsistency of their messages and actions. Where is the next Black American leader who will make a difference? Just who really is rushing to judgement? Who is going to rebuild that neighborhood? Who is going to replace the jobs and services lost? The drug dealers? I’ll bet you they’ll be there for you when get depressed because your life has been damaged and you need a little pick-me-up, but that’s all. I will also bet you the young man who died, has already had his position filled.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Chimpanzees granted legal status as persons.

What does it mean to be a person? According to the Oxford Dictionary of English: "Person;1 a human being regarded as an individual; (in legal or formal context) an unspecified individual."(Soanes & Stevenson, 2005)
Animal rights has long been a contentious issue on both sides of the moral and ethical fence. Animals have for along time in mans history have had very little in the way of legal protection from abuse and misuse. This is not to say that there have not been established rules concerning animals. For example there are religious laws found in both the Bible and the Koran that dictate how animals are to treated that concern beasts of burden, and the proper way in which to slaughter an animal for food.

In modern times it has become a more conscious issue. Most everyone is aware that for century's animals have been used in science to find answers for all types of questions. These experiments did not consider the animals rights. Which is to say, the animal used in the experiment was not asked if he/she would consent to the experiment. They simply had no choice.

As science learned more about the biology of the earths discovered inhabitants, we have learned that we are all not so different from one another. we all have a language in which we communicate and we have greater similarities that now  makes it harder to ignore the  line that we had once been seen as defined. The line is now becoming a little fuzzy.

Very recently an organization known as Nonhuman Rights Project has won the first part in a legal battle concerning two Chimpanzees( Leo and Hercules) being used for Bio-medical research at Stony Brook University. The University will be represented by the New York attorney general.

Now, I sat and thought about this, and it didn't take long to imagine the tidal wave of issues that could arise from this. If, for example, the Nonhuman Rights Project were to win this fight, then the Chimpanzees would most likely be remanded to Save the Chimps, an organization that takes care of these animals in a preserve. Now before you celebrate this, think about this...I'm willing to wager a bet that as soon as that were to happen, someone will say "Not so Fast! Leo and Hercules are now persons; you cant cage them up in a preserve! They need to be set free!" Laughable you might say, but most likely a reality, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to open the door on who has rights and what they might be, don't be surprised when your cat , Mr. Fluffy is convicted of murder of Mr Mortimer Mouse, a person who was dis-enfranchised and just happened to be living in the wall of your home. a home where Mr. Fluffy is also a resident.

It's possible you may think me being foolish, but if you had been alive a hundred years ago and someone had told you that this day concerning Leo and Hercules would soon arrive, what would have been your reaction then? For now, please feel free to do as I have done and let your mind take this idea and run with it. Let me know where you end up.



Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (Eds.). (2005). Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd,REV. ed.). London: Oxford University Press. Retrieved April 22, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Winning with no honest investment The Ultimate Hedonistic life style?

Winning! "everybody loves a winner", because "second place is the first loser" as the saying goes. The struggle to win in cultures around the world says allot about the human species. It means survival, and coming out on top. It seems to say that we are a success. We worked hard and if we work hard enough, we will one day win. "Never, Never give up" is what Winston Churchill urged us in our struggle to win.Winning is what the Olympics is all about.

Winning is more than just survival and being the best; it makes us feel good as well, and people take notice if we win, which makes us feel good too. How about winning if we never competed? Certainly that is pleasure without pain, which is the goal if we crave a hedonistic lifestyle. We win and there is no pain; the pain that we would certainly experience if we actually had to perform some type of act to become proficient enough to win.

Apparently, this type of utilitarianism is precisely the type of hedonism a woman in St. Louis was trying to achieve when she entered the race at the very end to come in number one. According to one published report she came in even before the lead bicycle escort. Of course it didn't take long before she was found out and stripped of the win. " I've been robbed!" she might have thought, when the feeling of elation of the win evaporated with the looks of befuddlement and disgust that most certainly would have been present on the faces of race officials. I first wondered if she truly thought she would get away with it, but then I read that she has tried this before. Same marathon, just last year..oh and she only was able to manage a third place finish that time. "Practice-Makes-Perfect" they say. She was also invited to run in the Boston marathon, until, of course, the unfortunate news leaked out. Boston quickly rolled up the 'Welcome' red carpet when they were notified.

She could have thought that this slight bending of the winning rule would not hurt anyone; the second place finisher could still be happy, right?
We might never understand the reason behind her actions, but what does this type of attitude tell us about the society that we live in? What is the underlying dynamic?


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Crimes and punishments in the news.

Videos showing shootings, beatings and officer involved fights have broken out all over the digital media. Yesterday on April 10th, 2015, a video taken by a news helicopter in San Bernardino County shows Sheriffs deputies involved in questionable actions in the take-down of a fleeing suspect. Do these videos show an increase of police brutality or is it the availability of video functions on personal electronic devices that has brought the everyday actions of law enforcement officers to light?
What is the message we should take away from these videos? Do we need to now fear our citizen police force? Is the motto "To serve and Protect" meaningless? Is it simply a question of race? Do police officers of non-white racial backgrounds get accused of these same types of actions?

Police departments all over the United States in an effort to be more transparent to public scrutiny have opted to use digital recording devices to capture the daily actions of the police officers entrusted with public safety. In doing so, the hazards of everyday police work and its dangers have been brought to light.Citizens are also guilty of abuse. Yelling, screaming, and physical abuse, including murder of police officers has been captured by the video devices. What can we conclude is the real reason of these increasingly deadly interactions?

Mental fatigue and stress might be the answer. Everyday we get a little closer as a society, everyday our work puts more pressure on us to produce. Problems at home and dis-enchantment could be the cause as well. The marketing used to get us to do more, and to be more productive seems over whelming. The latest and greatest gadgets that we need to have to live a contented life.
Maybe the answer is that we need to step back as a society and as individuals. Maybe we need to put in some good old fashioned porch time (whether we have porches or not) Turn off the computer, the television, and the other gadgets and gizmos that distract us, have a glass of iced tea and take a deep breath, take the kids, the dog,or a ball to the park. How many children know how to play 'kick the can'? 'Hide and Seek'?

We do not live in a Utopian world or country for that matter, and everyone is vulnerable to a bad day.
It seems not one of the law enforcement individuals at this latest occurrence was inclined to rein in his partners. What was the message transmitted to the subject of their actions? Next time you'll submit to arrest? Or, like Yosemite Sam used to say to the animal after whacking it half to death, "When I say whoa, I mean whoa!"? Was the subject a repeat offender? Did he do something that wasn't on video that caused the retaliation? Does it matter?

There is one thing we can be sure of. We are innocent until proven guilty, and if this citizen is proven to be criminal, his sentence will change from "law breaker" to "victim" and quite possible because of future litigation, he will become wealthy enough so that he will no longer have to break the laws of the land to survive. He may even look back on this 'beating' as the best thing that ever happened to him.  I do not believe that this is the message the officers were trying to convey.