CAT | News commentary
Well Gov. Dayton has signed the marriage equality act, and depending on which side you line up on either the sky if falling or Minnesota has leaped into the forefront of human progress.
I’ve advanced my notions on this issue before, and been roundly condemned by both sides. But fools rush in…
Am I the only one who thinks this is the biggest non-issue today?
In Your Humble Narrator’s opinion, marriage is two things, sacred and secular.
Marriage in the secular sense is a legal contract involving obligations of support, rights of inheritance, the power to act for another in the case of incapacity, etc.
Does anyone see anything absolutely gender-specific about this? I’m not a lawyer, but it doesn’t seem so to me. Or at least not anything that minor modifications wouldn’t adjust it to the needs of gay couples. To my non-professional eye it looks rather like a legal adoption except that the rights and obligations are equal and reciprocal.
Marriage is also a religious sacrament. In the Catholic church one of seven: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
My understanding is that when an ordained priest or minister performs a marriage he/she also serves as a registrar for the local government and gets a small fee for filing the appropriate papers.
It’s not done this way everywhere. In many countries in Europe couples have two ceremonies, one at the local government office and one in church. In some places they do this in the morning and afternoon, but I knew couples in Poland who waited years and had a few kids before getting around to the church wedding.
My children’s Polish grandparents had a church wedding in the city of Wroclaw – at 6 o’clock in the morning with a witness they literally dragged in off the sidewalk, because grandpa was an officer in the Army of the Polish People’s Republic and he was terrified the Party would find out he’d been married in church.
But I digress. My point is, aren’t we supposed to have something called “separation of church and state” in this country?
What business is it of the state to define what marriage is? Shouldn’t the role of government be confined to registering the contract and enforcing the provisions thereof if necessary?
The question of marriage in the sacred sense is the business of the churches. If yours does it, fine.
If it doesn’t, agitate for change or join another. Or start your own, it’s the Californian Way.
DO NOT demand the state force your church to do it. Whether you agree or disagree with the stand of your or anybody else’s church, that separation thing works both ways.
The only issue remaining is whether society at large is going to recognize same-sex couples as married.
Can’t help you there, people think as they please. Some will, some won’t. In the long run…. we’ll see.
Note: Cross-posted on my professional blog at the Marshall Independent.
Darn it! Another case of Celebrities Behaving Badly, and this time with one I kind of liked.
Reese Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth were arrested and very briefly held in Atlanta, he for alleged DUI and she for allegedly disobeying the police officer’s instruction to remain in her vehicle during the traffic stop.
Instead she allegedly got out and said, “Do you know my name?”
When he officer answered, “No, I don’t need to know your name.”
Witherspoon replied, “You’re about to find out who I am … You are going to be on national news.”
The lady has since publicly apologized, saying, “Clearly I had one to many to drink,” and that she was “deeply embarrassed.”
Well, she should be. The apology was well made, but that “Don’t you know who I am?” attitude rankles.
You’re a person Reese, a citizen of the United States just like the rest of us. Entitled to all of the same constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, arbitrary arrest, right to remain silent (which I bet you’re wishing you’d exercised now) etc.
But no more!
This is America, we’re not suppose to have privileged classes here.
Yes I know, there are people who act like they are, and too durned often they get away with it. But that’s not the way it’s supposed to work and where do you get off copping an attitude like it should work that way for you?
That order to stay in the car was for your benefit! Routine traffic stops are one of the two situations cops most often get killed in. The other is domestic disturbance calls. If hubby was being belligerent as alleged, that cop was likely getting nervous.
And how’d you get that notion you’re entitled to special treatment from the law anyway? Your dad was a military doctor just like mine, not Hollywood royalty. You grew up in the South, not Beverly Hills.
Sure you’ve been a model since you were seven years old, and now a movie star and producer.
But didn’t somebody named Reese Witherspoon once say, “I just don’t see any of it as that remarkable. Maybe that’s the attitude I choose to have to keep me sane and keep my feet on the ground.”
You ought to listen to that gal.
Note: My weekly op-ed.
The late great science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein once told a crowd at a convention, “Some of you will see a nuclear war within your lifetime.”
The crowd, to say the least, did not want to hear this.
A few years ago when I was the world’s oldest journalism intern in Washington, D.C., I coined the term “no-name nukes,” in the context of the sentence, “We’re living at Ground Zero for the no-name nuke.”
During my three months residence in D.C. I repeated that statement many times on many occasions.
Not once did anybody ever call me crazy. Heck, not once did anybody ever disagree with me!
Well once actually. A gentleman at the National Press Club thought I was way too optimistic when I said sometime in the next generation a rogue nuke was going to take out D.C.
“Oh I’d say within the next five to ten years,” he said.
I actually got to pose the question to former Secretary of State John Bolton at a small gathering.
Bolton was as forthcoming as it was possible for him to be. He didn’t actually address the question of what we could do if a nuke of unknown origin detonated on our soil, but he did point out where terrorists would get them.
Iran for one of course. Currently run by bona-fide religious crazies who are actually looking forward to Armageddon. How close they are to getting nukes is a matter of some controversy. Some say soon, some say long time to never.
The latter is the more comforting belief, which is why we should consider very carefully whether this is a realistic assessment, or wishful thinking.
Then there’s North Korea. They’re a bandit state with nukes, and Bolton pointed out, they’ll cheerfully sell them to anyone for hard cash.
Now they’re rattling their sabers and threatening to nuke American bases in the Pacific, or even a West Coast city.
It’s hard to tell how seriously to take the Norks. On the one hand, they do a lot of saber rattling. On the other hand, sometimes they do more than just rattle their sabers.
For decade they raided the coast of Japan, kidnapping Japanese citizens. They’ve landed commandos in South Korea for obscure purposes, though we can assume they’re up to no good as they tend to commit suicide to escape capture. They’ve torpedoed South Korean ships and murdered American military personnel at the Demilitarized Zone.
Worse, they’ve done it without consequences.
And that’s nothing compared to what they’ve done to their own people. Estimates of famine-related deaths range between 240,000 and 3,500,000. As many as 200,000 political prisoners are held in North Korean concentration camps under conditions at least as bad as anything in Soviet gulags during Stalin’s reign.
What’s worrisome about this kind of thing is not that it’s evil, but that it makes no sense. What do they gain by this? Evil we can deal with. Crazy is another matter.
If the Norks were merely evil we could appeal to their self-interest, mainly their desire not to be nuked down to bedrock. Same thing that kept the Cold War cold.
Now it could be the Kim family’s kingdom is acting for perfectly sensible reasons. North Korean saber rattling has traditionally prompted massive donations of food from abroad. This could be of no more significance than an infant throwing a tantrum because it’s hungry.
Or maybe they’re just crazy. The scary thing is, we can guess but we just don’t know.
At the end of World War II in the Pacific, after the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the U.S. government heard nothing from the Japanese for three days. So they dropped another one. Five days later as a third bomb was being assembled, the emperor broadcast his decision to surrender – and there was an attempted military coup by diehards who dreamed of a glorious death for their entire nation!
And the Japanese weren’t crazy, just alien to our ways of thinking.
It didn’t make a big splash, but we’ve been threatened with nukes before. During the Clinton administration the Chinese were saying openly but without bluster that they figured we weren’t as attached to Taiwan as much as we were to Los Angeles or San Francisco.
That was scary enough, but made sense. The Chinese stated what they wanted, and their judgment of the risks involved. They might be wrong, but their reasoning was perfectly straightforward.
About the North Koreans we mostly just don’t know. A history of oriental despotism, plus two generations of Japanese occupation, plus three generations of communism equals… what?
Note: My syndicated column of a couple weeks back. I sometimes forget to archive them here right off, but better late…
On March 13, the white smoke let the waiting world know the conclave of cardinals had elected a new pope, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February.
The new pope is a Jesuit, which is the first interesting thing about the election. The Jesuits, though technically in subordination to the pope, have throughout history often functioned as a separate center of power within the Roman Catholic Church. Though Pope John Paul II was known for demanding, and getting, the subordination of the order, for the first time the two centers of power will be united in one person.
The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio let it be known he wished to be called Francis, following the precedent established by John Paul I of picking a name never worn by a previous pope.
This he said, was in honor of the beloved St. Francis of Assisi, called by some cynics, “history’s only practicing Christian.”
“The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man,” the Pope said. “How I would like a poor Church, and for the poor”.
Francesco d’Assisi was born a privileged brat who grew up to be a carouser, a brawler, and a wencher until he had a conversion experience during his service as a soldier for his city. Many men go to war and come home crazy. Francis went to war and came home sane.
Though a lot of people at the time must have thought he was pretty crazy. Francis, who by the way was never ordained, preached sermons to the birds and animals he loved, and wrote hymns to “my brother the sun, my sister the moon.”
There is also the famous story of how Francis went to Egypt to try and convert the Sultan. He failed but the Sultan was so impressed with Francis that he sent him away laden with rich gifts, which Francis used to help the poor.
Interestingly, some Sufi writers, members of that mystical brotherhood within Islam that claims they seek the truth behind all religion, have a different take on the story. According to Sufi writer Idries Shah, Francis was not on a mission of conversion, he was paying a visit to a brother in the same lodge for an evening of conversation.
This is interesting in the light of the good relations Pope Francis has with both the Islamic and Jewish communities in his native Argentina.
But there is another St. Francis that means something to the new pope, St. Francis de Sales. As a young priest, Bergoglio was mentored by a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest, Stefan Czmil of the Salesian Order, and as a result knows the Byzantine liturgy.
St. Francis de Sales is by the way, the patron saint of writers and journalists, known for spreading the faith through pamphleteering and gentle persuasion.
The new pope is going to need the aid of St. Francis de Sales. The Roman Catholic church is under sustained assault from within and without.
The election of a traditional conservative Catholic is not going to please leftist atheists who want a strong Christianity to disappear, or yield to the cult of the almighty state.
It’s going to discomfort American cafeteria-Catholics who wish the church would endorse a “one from column A and one from column B” approach to doctrine.
The new pope is going to have to deal with the elephant in the room, the still-unresolved issue of clerical child abuse. And sooner or later someone is going to have to address what is increasingly obvious but never mentioned; that there is an ongoing, more-or-less organized campaign by pedophiles to infiltrate the Catholic clergy. (If you don’t think pedophilia is organized, Google “NAMBLA,” but prepare to lose your lunch.)
The new pope may or may not be able to get a handle on the recurring problem of corruption involving Vatican finances.
Whatever he does or does not accomplish, a lot of people are going to be disappointed.
I wish this new pope well. Evidence suggests he is a good man, and we need good men in positions of spiritual and temporal power. For those who expect miracles I recommend contemplation of two things.
One, any center of power and wealth is subject to corruption, for the simple fact that we are men, fallible and corruptible. The Church has always known this and has always maintained an awareness that there are two churches: one temporal and subject to the sins of our nature, the other spiritual which is the ideal men strive for.
The other is that in the Church we have an organization whose central purpose is to last until the end of time – literally. While acknowledging that change happens, and hoping that it might be for the better, one does not want to go around making irrevocable changes for what may turn out to be passing fads.
Note: This is my weekly syndicated column.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has announced that women are necessary to our military’s success, that they are willing to fight and die alongside men, and “The time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.”
And of course, the sky is falling.
Opponents have pointed out, quite correctly, that the function of the military is not social engineering, but the defense of the nation.
“While their focus must remain on winning the battles and protecting their troops, they will now have the distraction of having to provide some separation of the genders during fast-moving and deadly situations,” said Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council and a retired Army lieutenant general.
The move seems to be supported mostly by men who are not veterans and women who don’t personally intend to make a career of the infantry.
I have to ask, is this going to make any difference at all?
I notice that Panetta has left himself an out. He said physical standards will not be lowered, and admitted few women can meet them, but “everyone is entitled to a chance.”
That sounds like, “Hey, you’re welcome to try, so don’t blame me if you can’t pass the test.”
In my younger days I worked as a garbage man in a town which had yard service. Meaning we went into the yards, emptied the cans into our containers, and toted them to the truck on our backs – an average of 65 pounds and often much more. Not distributed as well as a backpack either. We worked in all weathers, including Oklahoma summers when the temperature regularly got above 100.
There was nothing to prevent women from applying for the job, but in six years total I remember two woman who actually tried it on for size and stuck with it for a few months. Nobody complained about their ability to do the work, there just weren’t many like them.
Oh yes, and one was fired along with a male colleague for hanky-panky on the job.
The argument from some female officers is there are women at the high end of that bell curve of strength and stamina who can outperform men at the low end.
This is not news. The question is, is it worthwhile for the military to make some fairly expensive and troublesome accommodations for a statistically tiny minority of women who can meet the physical standards required of an infantryman?
Panneta said standards won’t be lowered, but in fact they have been in a number of cases. There are also reports of serious problems of unit cohesion in Army units and on Navy ships.
My father, a retired Naval officer, put it bluntly that women at sea doesn’t work unless everybody gets one. Anything else is asking for trouble.
The gender equality crowd usually responds with, “Men have to change.”
OK, so what if the changes, if possible at all, result in men who don’t make good soldiers and sailors anymore?
On the other hand… there are plenty of women in combat positions that aren’t infantry. There are helicopter pilots, I believe at least one door gunner, and women qualified to be fighter pilots.
On average women have physical characteristics such as smaller average size, resistance to G-forces, quick reflexes, etc that might make them as good or better than men in the cockpit of a fighter jet.
Lots of women drive trucks and operate heavy equipment and do all the 20-odd support tasks that enable the military to put one combat soldier in the field.
Russian woman served as snipers in WWII and racked up impressive kill records.
Army and Navy nurses have been near enough to the front lines to be killed or captured since World War II.
Israeli women serve in the IDF, making it one of the most attractive as well as most kick-butt armies in the world.
The role of female Israeli soldiers has been overstated though. Israel does not by choice put women into combat. They receive thorough training in arms because in Israel there are no rear areas, and their enemies do not recognize non-combatant status.
I suspect this is going to sort itself out eventually, after a lot of trouble, expense, and scandal no doubt. But that’s the way we do things these days.
Note: This is cross-posted on my blog at The Marshall Independent.
Today (Friday) my interview with Matthew Loeslie law enforcement coordinator at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, appeared in the Independent under the title, “Active shooter: What to do when the unthinkable happens.”
The article was the result of an interesting and wide-ranging discussion that covered much more material than could be included in the article, but may pop up later.
One of the things discussed was soft targets and how to harden them. Though school shootings are rare, they are nonetheless a magnet for the homicidal/suicidal personality precisely because they offer an unprotected target-rich environment.
I wrote about this back in ’06 after the Amish tragedy.
Other possibilities include theaters and shopping centers, both of which have featured in recent active shooter incidents. The shopping center shooter committed suicide immediately upon being confronted by an armed civilian who had a permit but technically shouldn’t have been carrying inside the mall.
(When I lived in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1998 I had to pass through a magnetometer every day I went to work in an indoor shopping mall or the British Council Library. At night I used to go to sleep to the music of partying locals firing guns into the air, and occasionally throwing grenades into the Beautiful Blue Danube.)
The concept of schools as soft target magnets horrifies some people. I’ve been the subject of almost hysterical vilification for merely pointing this out.
Too bad. Unpleasant facts do not cease to be facts because you don’t like to think about them.
And to make you even more uncomfortable, if you’ve seen “Zero Dark 30″ you know that one of the things mentioned in passing is that Al Queda has discussed doing this kind of thing in a much more organized fashion.
Minnesota West and a number of other places around the country offer good information on survival. We’re beginning a dialog on a subject many don’t want to think about – arming a few teachers, perhaps by offering pay incentives for teachers who agree to take – let’s call it what it is – combat pistol training and maintain their skills.
(I’m not suggesting the teachers carry. A firearm can be kept in a lockbox with a digital combination, perhaps in a teachers desk. Students need not know which teachers have them. And if you have a problem with this, may I ask why you trust your children to them everyday?)
But of course, hardening the target doesn’t solve the problem of homicidal insanity. Harden one target and those bent on murder/suicide will go somewhere else.
How to recognize and deal with the problem of homicidal insanity, or just plain evil, without totally junking our constitutional protections against prior restraint is another subject.
But for now, hardening schools and making spree killers look elsewhere for targets is just fine with me while I’ve got kids in those schools.
Note: Published op-ed.
I’ve just read a news item about a 16-year-old girl who violated a court order by Tweeting the names of two boys who sexually assaulted her at a party last summer. The boys’ lawyers filed motions that she be held in contempt of court and she could theoretically have faced jail time.
Theoretically, let’s get real. The judge’s gag order would almost certainly have been overturned, if it ever got that far. But she faced them down and the boys’ lawyers blinked.
The young lady has identified herself, but I won’t use her name here. If you wish to find out about the case, google the title of this column. The case is in Kentucky.
Firstly I have to say I admire the young lady’s courage and outspoken defiance, and I totally agree the two boys got off easy with a plea bargain. I personally favor a public flogging – and I do not mean that figuratively.
I have to say that firstly, because a lot of people are going to be very angry with what I have to say secondly.
According to the article, what happened was the girl passed out drunk at a party. Two boys, both students at a prestigious private school, neither with a criminal record, partially undressed her, took unforgivable liberties with her body while stopping short of the strict definition of rape, and took pictures with their cell phone cameras. The victim knew the boys but only slightly, according to the news accounts.
The girl woke up the next morning not knowing quite what had happened, and only found out about it months later when she heard rumors of the existence of the photos.
I always read of such cases with a sense of despair.
Despair, because this kind of trauma is so easy to avoid, because so much pernicious nonsense is written about it, and because talking sense about it will get you accused of “blaming the victim.”
So who am I to talk about it?
I am, like the mother of the victim, a single parent of a little girl who will all-too-soon be a beautiful young woman. I have close friends who are rape victims. I am a ranked instructor in two martial arts, with intermediate to advanced training in about a half-dozen others, and a certified instructor of military combatives. And I just avoided a rape attempt when I was about 11 years old.
When cases such as this get media attention notes go up all over Facebook about how we live in a “rape culture,” and
“Rather than teach girls how not to get raped, we need to teach boys not to rape.”
Nonsense on stilts. Who the heck teaches their sons to rape women in this country?
Rape in our country is, thank God, relatively rare compared to theft and simple assault, and stranger rape is the least common.
Precautions against stranger rape are cheap and simple, essentially identical to the precautions one would take against robbery. They involve good locks, security systems, situational awareness, and avoidance strategies far more than carrying a gun or spending years in martial arts training to become a “human weapon.”
That’s the good news.
The bad news is, sexual assault, like simple assault and murder, is mostly committed by a perpetrator the victim knew, at least slightly, while engaging in high-risk behaviors, such as passing out at parties surrounded by strangers.
Again, IT IS NOT BLAMING THE VICTIM to say certain behaviors put one at risk. A very old friend of mine was raped by a hitch hiker she picked up while she was driving alone. When she told me the story, the tears I saw in her eyes tore my heart out – which does not change the fact that picking up a hitch hiker was a serious error in judgment for a woman alone.
More of us than ever before are raising children alone, which no matter how devoted we are limits the time we can supervise them. Alcohol is, face it, easy enough for teens to come by. And cell phone cameras are in the wrong hands a terrible weapon for casual humiliation.
The greatest weapon we have to protect our children is neither guns, nor martial arts, but information. Fortunately,
it is available for free here:
Some of it is disturbing, and the advice therein excites a fair number of critics. Just go there. As it says, “We’re about prevention, not damage control.”
Note: Cross-posted on my newspaper blog at The Marshall Independent.
There is much talk on the Internet after Liza Long, an English teacher in a small college in Boise, Idaho, and mother of four, wrote a blog post that went viral.
Her post was originally titled “Thinking the Unthinkable.” Huffington Post and Gawker, changed the headline to “I am Adam Lanza’s mother.”
Long has a 13-year-old son, who from her description of his behavior, appears to be a psychopath. She wrote about her heart-rending decision to have him committed to a mental institution after he attacked her, and threatened to kill her and/or himself, more than once.
She’s been vilified by some, but there’ve also been a lot of people writing “That’s my brother!” or “That’s my son too!”
Me? I think she did the right thing. Actually I think she did the only thing. She’s a woman with three other children. She’s still able to physically restrain her 13-year-old, at the cost of some bruising, but probably won’t be able to in about another year.
Commitment of course, only delays the problem. Some people appear to be born… wrong somehow. Long’s son is of the highly intelligent kind, capable of being very charming when not enraged. When he’s older he may have learned to control himself to the point he can charm his way out of the institution and then we’ll have another predator unleashed on society – a very smart one.
I’m sorry if that sounds uncharitable, but you see I’ve known such. The brother of an old girlfriend was one. The wife of a cousin was another.
And by the way, I have a close male relative with Asberger’s Syndrome, the condition Adam Lanza has been identified as having, and he has never hurt anyone. His life has been made pretty miserable by his social awkwardness, and he’s pretty much unemployable because people are uncomfortable around him, but he is NOT a murderous psychopath!
Why are some, thankfully few, born that way? There are arguments over which psychiatric term is appropriate, but the English legal system used to use the term “morally insane,” which still seems a pretty good one to me.
Short answer, nobody knows.
Can they be cured?
Even shorter answer, no.
A cop who’d attended FBI courses on this type of personality said there is some indication they tend to grow a conscience around middle age. Unfortunately by that time they’re often doing hard time in prison. Which begs the question of whether they have actually developed a conscience – or they’ve learned how to fool the shrink.
This is the nightmare possibly worse than the families of the victims of Sandy Hook are experiencing now, and for the rest of their lives.
I remember years ago watching a documentary on serial killers, in the course of which they interviewed the mother of one of Ted Bundy’s victims.
I’ll always remember what she said when they asked her what she thought his parents might be going through.
“I’d rather have my daughter than their son,” she said.
P.S. I’ve written previously on over-diagnoses of “mental illness” here. Note also the cri de coeur from one reader.
I’m also going to go out on a limb and recommend a book I haven’t read yet. (I have seen an interview with the author.)
“Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend” by Barbara Oakley.
Note: cross-posted from my blog at The Marshall Independent, Oct. 11.
The news is full of two major sports scandals: on October 9, 2012, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years and maximum of 60 years in prison after being convicted of 45 counts relating to child sex abuse.
There’s a lot of other people going down with him too. A lot of university officials have resigned, including Penn State President Graham Spanier, and a fair number of them are sweating bullets waiting to see what they might be charged with.
It seems to a lot of the Penn State crowd, winning football games was more important than the welfare of children.
And in the world of cycling, recent revelations by the US Anti-Doping Agency revealed that many times winner of the Tour de France, de Suisse, de Luxembourg, etc, had been doping for years. The inspiring cancer survivor comeback kid stands revealed as a cheat and a bully.
And, you have to speculate whether Armstrong’s testicular cancer, for which he underwent chemo, brain surgery, and had one testicle removed, was caused by steroid use.
My God! Who wants to win a durn game that much? Quite a few people it seems. I was at Oklahoma University during the last years of head football coach Barry Switzer’s tenure there. Eventually even the regents of that football mad school suggested Barry move on after a number of scandals. The tip of the iceberg was revealed the year in which one player shot a team mate, another got busted for cocaine possession, and four were convicted of a gang rape in the athletic dorm.
What was really shocking was the number of people ready to blame the victim. As shocking as the number of people at Penn State who appear not to have even thought of the victims.
We used to say, “Oklahoma University’s football team are honor students. ‘Yes, Your Honor. No, Your Honor.’”
So why would a university ignore blatant signs that one of their assistant coaches was a moral monster? And why would an athlete risk death and be half-castrated to win a few more bicycle races?
I can only think of two reasons, one of which I understand, the other I don’t.
There is of course, money. High salaries, prizes, endorsements, book deals, etc.
As my dad used to say, “Football is a fun game. But when you’re making a quarter million dollars a year at it – it’s not a game.”
The other has to do with what the Wide World of Sports used to call, “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.”
It’s not that I don’t understand that it feels great to win, and rotten to lose. But to ignore the abuse of children by someone they should be able to trust? To risk a horrible death?
Come on! There are more important things than winning a game.
Perhaps I don’t understand because I’m a teacher and lifelong student of martial arts. Moreover, in the arts I teach we don’t do tournaments. We do boxing, wrestling, combat games, competitive exercises etc. But we don’t train to win a specialized sport, we train for the eventuality we hope will never come, to defend our lives and the lives of others.
We don’t do formal tournaments, as fun as those are, because the training to win combat sports is too specialized. Tournament sports have rules to insure the safety of the participants, which necessarily degrade combat effectiveness.
It puts things in a different perspective when you train not to go home with a trophy, but to go home with your life.
Armstrong almost didn’t, and Sandusky is going to spend the rest of his life in prison, isolated from a general population in which nearly every single individual would kill him without a second’s thought.
I’d like to ask Armstrong, and the people who knew or suspected the harm Sandusky was convicted of doing to children, “Was it worth it?”
Note: As mentioned, my personal blog has been less active than formerly for a number of reasons both professional and personal. One is that I’ve launched a self-syndication venture. Here below is an example of one of my columns. You’ll note the style is different from my more rambling blog style. I’ll be posting my columns a decent interval after they go out to my subscribers so as not to give away what they pay me for. And I’ll be posting some of my previous submissions to get them out before potential customers (hint.)
I have a confession to make, I practice slanting news stories. In fact, sometimes I lie awake at nights thinking about how to do it.
However I sincerely hope this never shows up in what I actually write!
The reason I practice slanting news stories is that I study the practice and collect examples of it. Eventually I hope to write a book on the subject.
And gentle readers, there’s a lot of it going around – but I probably didn’t have to tell you that.
It’s done by both liberals and conservatives, and in fact each side has a think tank devoted to finding “gotcha!” examples of the other’s biased reporting. Not to be confused with Our Side’s fearless reporting of the truth with a capital “T.”
Nonetheless, anyone looking with an open mind is going to find more examples of liberal bias, but only because slightly more than 90 percent of national news reporters self-identify as “liberal.”
From MSN, Feb. 18. “In a rare display of openness, Sarah Palin took questions for an hour yesterday at an appearance on Long Island in New York. She’s still unsure of a presidential run:”
“Rare display of openness…” Not much doubt which side that writer is on. The comment is entered as a kind of toss-off, without support or examples of why this display of openness is “rare.”
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. The point is, the statement is unsupported and the writer clearly expects you to take it on his/her say-so.
Notice something, this was probably unconscious. The writer may not be aware of writing a biased piece, and might be wounded should you suggest they did. They were just stating a self-evident fact that “everybody knows.”
That’s just the kind of thing that happens when you only hang around with people you agree with.
Another way to slant a story is to seize on a gaff, a clumsy misstatement, or a quote taken out of context, and hammer on it. If you’re a public figure who has to speak off the cuff into a battery of recorders often, there are bound to be some of those.
Conservatives are still getting a lot of mileage out of John Kerry’s, “I voted for the bill before I voted against it.” But… in the ordinary legislative process a bill may go through a whole series of rewrites, and amendments before it reaches its final form. Even the senator or representative who wrote it might not recognize it anymore.
It’s entirely possible to vote for a bill as introduced, and find yourself unable to vote for the finished product.
You can do this with photos too. Some people are naturally more photogenic than others, but if people are following you around snapping photos constantly, we’ll there’s going to be a fair number of unflattering ones in the bunch. Everybody yawns, grimaces, scratches themselves, etc from time to time. Snap a photo at just the right time…
Or better still, cull the archives for photos and take your pick.
As a journalist, I have a question about the ongoing media circus around the tragedy in Florida, where a neighborhood watchman fatally shot an African-American teenager.
Whatever the facts of the case may turn out to be in the long run, if they ever do emerge amid the agenda-driven coverage, I’d like to know two things.
One, is a five-year-old mugshot of George Zimmerman in an orange prison jumpsuit the only photo the media could find of him?
Well perhaps so, Zimmerman is not a public figure. But is a years-old photo of the victim
Trayvon Martin as a mere boy the only photo they could find? Surely a high school football player must have some yearbook photos around?
A whole book could be written about the subject, and someday I intend to. But in the meantime, this is an election year and you shouldn’t trust the media not to be advancing their own agenda through biased reporting.
Trust no one!
Except me of course.