Category Archives: Lunacy

Rand Paul’s Run In With the TSA

Did you read or hear about Rand Paul’s encounter with the TSA?  Apparently something turned up during the body scan and they wanted to pat him down.  When he refused they detained him.

I am glad, in a way, that it happened to a United States senator.  He is in a position to do something about this encroachment on our rights and on our dignity.

I was recently traveling by air.  I saw that the airport had the reveal-all scanners.  I thought, “Oh, boy!  After all of the negative things that I have written about the scanners, it will be my fate to be sent into it.”  And it was.

It felt so weird being told to spread my legs and raise my arms, as though I was a criminal or a suspected criminal.  It felt weird to know that somebody was observing the size and shape of my genitals.

Like most people, I submitted.  They have uniforms and badges.  I wanted to be on the flight.

I had already taken off my shoes and my belt and pulled out my laptop, my mp3 player, my cell phone, and my little baggie with liquids in it.  I find it all so humiliating.  And I have nothing to be humiliated for!  I’m not a terrorist.

I felt even worse for the white haired lady in the wheelchair who was forced to remover her shoes and her sweater.  It took great effort on her part, and she had to be embarrassed to realize that people watching her struggle to untie her shoelaces and to undo the buttons on her sweater and to stand and take shuffling steps through the metal detector.

Here’s what bothers me.  If the TSA is stupid enough to think that a little old grandma, on her way back from visiting her relatives for Christmas, who can barely walk or unbotton her sweater, is going to blow up an airplane, how can we believe that they are able to keep us safe?  I mean it; I’m not being facetious.

Being Offended Is Offensive

There is a time to be offended.  I would be offended to hear women called ugly names in a rap lyric.  I would be offended to see somebody screaming at his or her child.  I would be offended to see an American citizen desecrate our flag.  I would be offended to hear somebody blaspheme against Jesus Christ.

However, some people are offended too easily.  Their skin is as thin as the air on the top of Mount Everest.

Some folks in Utah wanted a new high school to have the cougar as its mascot.  It’s a great mascot, found all over the country.  However, some other folks were concerned that the mascot would offend certain women.  It seems that “cougar” is a term for a middle-aged woman who goes after younger men, Demi Moore being one famous example.  Did you know that?

So when the quarterback of the football team throws a pass, people are going to think of him as a sexually insatiable woman preying on her son’s buddy?  Aside from the fact that the slang term has very little to do with the connotations that most people would think of in regard to a team called the Cougars, there is something else ridiculous about the controversy.  Wouldn’t a woman have to admit that she actually is a cougar in order to express her resentment toward the mascot?  And is she likely to do so?

The school district has come up with an alternative–Chargers.  Okay. . .so, won’t middle-aged woman who use their credit card too often be offended?  Ridiculous, right?  But not beyond the realm of possibility in a country where several people have gotten in trouble for using the word niggardly!

I just wish that people would stop using “offense” as the final test for public discourse.  Let’s first use common sense and say how likely it is that people really would be offended and how appropriate it is if they are offended by something.  What do you think?

 

 

How to Get Away With Censorship

Racist, bigot, facsist–these are terms used by the enemies of freedom to silence those with whom they disagree and those who “offend” them.  The current epithet-du-jour is bully.  Now, all of those words are good English words with accepted definitions, and I have no problem using them when their use is appropriate.  A person who says that black people are inherently less intelligent than white people is, by definition, a racist.  However, a person who says that black people should be expected to get as high a score on job placement exams as white people is not.  Likewise, a person who beats up homosexual people is a bully, but a person who simply says that his religion teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin is not.

A high school student in Wisconsin has been accused of bullying for writing an unpopular editorial in the school newspaper–an editorial that opposed the adoption of children by same-sex couples.  The real bullying, based on several dictionary definitions that I read has been done against the student editorialist.  The school officials and one of the parents are bullying him by using their power to disgrace, discredit, and silence him.  After all, he is just a lowly student expressing his viewpoint–at the paper’s invitation.

Now, if he had targeted another student and urged people to beat up that student, that might be an example of bullying–or at least incitement to bullying.  If he had written nasty insults about a particular student or students, that certainly would be bullying.  However, giving general remarks about a controversial issue?  That simply isn’t bullying.

I have some questions, sincerely posed:

Why is this student’s editorial bullying but the opposing viewpoint is not?

What happened to the student’s First Amendment rights?

How can a educational institution take sides on a matter that the public is still debating?

Why do the school officials take upon themselves the power to endorse one student’s viewpoint and to denounce the other student’s viewpoint?

Doesn’t this approach give any offical the right to pass judgment on any speech by any student?  What if a rightwing principal censored students who stood up for the rights of Muslim students or censored students who wrote an informative article about abortion?

A Hard Cross to Bear

American Atheists, a nonprofit organization, is suing to prevent a cross made of steel beams from being put in the World Trade Center Museum.  I vaguely remember the discovery of the cross and how people rallied around it after the buildings fell.  Before I go any farther I want to say that the cross means absolutely nothing to me.  I am sure that it is just a coincidence that it stood amid the rubble.  However, and this is very important, the cross apparently means a lot to a lot of other people.  You can agree with them or you can disagree with them, but it would be rude to discount their feelings.

In their suit, the Atheists allege that “[m]any of American Atheists’ members have seen the cross, either in person or on television, and are being subjected to and injured in consequence of having a religious tradition not their own imposed upon them through the power of the state.”  Wow!  I feel the same way.  I have seen statues of the Buddha and mosques topped with a crescent and star and other religious symbols and it injures me badly each time I see those things.  Not really.  I haven’t suffered the least injury from seeing any of those things.  I haven’t felt that seeing them imposes anything on me.  I’m too strong minded for that to happen.  I guess the American Atheists are not.  I’m sorry for them.

They also claim that “[t]he challenged cross constitutes an unlawful attempt to promote a specific religion on governmental land, diminishing the civil rights, privileges or capacities of Atheist Americans, Agnostic Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, and all others who are not Christian Americans.”  Really?  So when people see the cross they will instantly convert to Christianity?  What else could they mean by saying that the cross will “promote a specific religion”?  They must not be very strong in their convictions if two steel beams joined in the shape of a t can make them change their minds so irresistibly.  And that cross sure has a lot of power if it can “diminish their civil rights”–I suppose by making it impossible them to worship (or not worship) God in their own way.  That is one magical cross, and they are really, really weak people.  Again, I feel very sorry for them.  I don’t know how I do it, but somehow I manage to see various symbols everyday, and not one of them has ever persuaded me to abandon my beliefs.  Not one of them has prevented from practicing my beliefs, either.

It gets worse:

The plaintiffs, and each of them, have suffered, are suffering, and will continue to suffer damages, both physical and emotional, from the existence of the challenged cross. Named plaintiffs have suffered, inter alia, dyspepsia, symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish from the knowledge that they are made to feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who were directly injured by the 9/11 attack and the lack of acknowledgement of the more than 1,000 non-Christian individuals who were killed at the World Trade Center.

Not only are the weak in mind, but they are apparently very weak in body.  The cross gives them indigestion and headaches among other terrible things.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  Not only did people die from the attack itself, but many people died in the rescue effort.  Many others died from the after-affects of the rescue effort.  And these people say that a steel cross gives them tummy upset and pains in their head.

One time I was in a museum and saw many Canaanite idols.  You know what I didn’t do?  I didn’t complain to the museum director.  I didn’t sue the municipality that funds the museum.  And I didn’t run to the bathroom to throw up.  However. . .

I find ths lawsuit disgusting.  I should sue for the dyspepsia, headache, anxiety, and depression that the American Atheists’ lawsuit has just caused me.

 

Two Battles in the Culture War

Some people say that there is no culture war going on in America.  Some people say that it is just a bunch of hype from a few radical ideologues.  However, in case after case, there is a clear struggle between traditionalists and non-traditionalists.  I do not know how many of these battles have to be brought to the attention of the pooh-poohers before they acknowledge that there is a war, but here are two more:

#1

Atheists in New York are opposing a street sign that honors seven firefighters who died on September 11, 2001.  They say it insults them.  The sign reads Seven in Heaven Way.  As I have said before, a claim by some party that they feel insulted or offended should not be the final test of whether something is allowed in public.  Maybe I am insulted by a street named Puritan Lane, because my Quaker ancestors were persecuted by Puritans.  Maybe I am offended by a street called Mars Avenue, because I as a Christian do not believe in the god Mars.  Maybe I am offended by a street called Pine Street, because I am allergic to pine trees.

#2

Bill O’Reilly has reported that a school near New York City required a student to change the title of his concert piece from “When the Saints Go Marching In” to “When the Ants Go Marching In.”  If I had been in that audience, I would have said out loud the word “saints” every time it comes up in the song, and I would have made sure that I was in earshot of the principal.  Come on.  Everyone knows what the words are.  Who did he think he was fooling?  Or protecting from feeling offended?  The song was probably composed originally by African Americans.  Maybe they should be offended that others are offended by it.  Maybe Christians should be offended that other people are offended by the word saints.  Maybe insect lovers should be offended at the way ants were being exploited by the principal.

It’s actually kind of funny.  The song says, “Lord, I want to be in that number/ When the saints go marching in.”  So if you change it to ants, does that mean you want to join the ants?  Does it mean that you want to be an ant?

The Palin E-mails

I started wondering what terrible things they will find in the Palin e-mails.  I decided to speculate a little about what people will dig up, and I came up with. . .

From an e-mail message:  “You guys are killing me. . .”

The headline:  Palin Paranoid: Thought People Were Out to Murder Her

From an e-mail message:  “No kidding!”

The headline:  Palin Banned Joking in Juneau Office

From an e-mail message:  “Please get on it ASAP.”

The headline:  Palin Impatient With Staff

From an e-mail message:  “Ill get on it as soon as I can.”

The headline:  Palin Procrastinated While Governor

From an e-mail message:  “Please hold all my calls tomorrow, as I am in budget meetings.”

The headline:  Palin Avoided Constituents

From an e-mail message:  “Unless I tell you otherwise, I am happy to greet visitors.”

The headline:  Palin Wasted Time on Social Calls

From an e-mail message:  “Please give me a status report on your project.”

The headline:  Palin Micromanaged Staff While Governor

From an e-mail message:  “Just show me the finished report.  I trust you.”

The headline:  Palin Failed to Supervise Staff

—–

I wonder what other kinds of juicy dirt they will find in those messages?

Dumbing Down in Dayton

     Dayton, Ohio, has lowered the standard for the police officer qualifying test.  To qualify, applicants had to score 66% and 72% on the two parts, but now they only need to score 58% and 63%.  Would you want a police officer coming to your rescue who could only master a little over half of the material on a test–material that he could learn from the prepration booklet?  I wouldn’t.

     But what is the city to do?  They have been criticized for not having enough African Americans on the police force.  They need new recruits badly.  Apparently any warm body will do.

     What bothers me is the inherent racism.  Last year I commented on the Connecticut firefighters who were denied promotion because of affirmative action.  Some commenters told me I was wrong, but the Supreme Court backed me up.  It was unfair discrimination, because the white firefighters happened to be more qualified than some of the black firefighters who were put ahead of them.

     If a white person were to sneer at African American officers and say, “You only got on the force because you are black,” many people would call that person a racist.  Okay, but what do you call city leaders who are making that claim a reality?

      And isn’t the real problem here that there are not enough African Americans who are able to pass the test?  The city of Dayton should come down hard on their public schools.  They should demand to know why the public schools are turning out graduates who cannot pass such a test.  It’s criminal for those schools to keep paying teachers who are not teaching.

     And isn’t the other real problem the values of the African American community at large?  Why aren’t black parents in Dayton pushing their kids to excel?  Why aren’t they giving them the support that they need to succeed in school and to make themselves qualified for a career?  I’m speaking in general terms, of course.  There are undoubtedly many successful African Americans in Dayton and many functional, highly motivated families in that community.  Maybe some of them need to discover the source of these problems and help to fix it.

     Maybe in the end it doesn’t matter.  Maybe it doesn’t matter how many black people are on the police force in Dayton.  As long as all people have the opportunity to serve on the force, mabe it doesn’t matter what the racial makeup of the force is.  Maybe there just aren’t that many African Americans in Dayton who want, really want, to be police officers.  That’s okay.  Nobody should be saying that they have to do that particular job.  It is racist to assume that white people would not treat everyone fairly as police officers.

     Those who read my blog regularly will not be surprised at my conclusion.  If African Americans in Dayton want to be police officers, then they should do what it takes to qualify.  The burden of responsibility is ultimately on them.  They shouldn’t let the city dumb down the standards in order to allow them to “pass.”  They should feel insulted at the very idea.

Terror is Terror

     I read an article that questioned whether the recent killing of the American airmen  in Germany was terrorism or not.  What?  It wasn’t a Sunday picnic.

     Since when did terrorism come to mean only an attack by radicals from the Middle East?  Isn’t terrorism any sudden attack meant to terrorize people?

     I just read another article that says that authorities believe–believe–that terrorism was involved.  Terrorism occurs when people strike terror in others; therefore, this was terrorism. 

     In that article it says that they believe that the killer was motivated by Islamic terrorism.  That doesn’t make any sense at all.  Imagine asking, “Why did you do it?” and hearing, “because of Islamic terrorism.”  I think journalists are all public school graduates now.

     It’s like calling certain crimes “hate crimes”–as if other crimes are motivated by love or something.

Canada versus the United States

     A Canadian man recently gave me what-for.  I barely know him, and we were having just a casual conversation when he decided to tell me how evil the United States of America is.

     “Every war that the United States has ever fought has only been in order to grab more power and to make more money,” he said.

     “What about World War II?” I suggested.  “Surely you can see some justification for our involvement there.”

     “What right did the United States have to cross the ocean in order to assert their power, set up military bases on another continent, and prop up their own economy by producing weapons and military equipment?”

     “I believe that we were wanted,” I said.  “I believe that the Allies wanted our support, because they were about to be defeated and taken over by the Nazis.  I believe that we helped to liberate the prisoners in the concentration camps.”

     “Who are you to say that the Nazis were any worse than any other party?” he asked.

     “Who are you to say that they weren’t?” I responded, unsure of what to say.  “Canada, as part of the British Commonwealth, fought in that war, too,” I pointed out.

     “I never said that Canada was perfect,” he replied.

     “Okay.  Look at the Korean War and the Vietnam War,” I said next.  Our stated intentions were good, but our execution was terrible. 

     “What intentions?” he asked.

     “To root out communism, to help the people there stay free,” I answered.

     “What right does the United States have to decide how countries in Asia should manage their economies?” he asked.

     “What right does the Communist Movement have to do so?” I replied.

     “For all you know, the economy of North Korea is just as good as the economy of South Korea,” he asserted with a straight face.  “People have the right to live their lives as they choose.”

     “But I don’t think people in North Korea get to choose very much,” I said.

     “You Americans are so arrogant,” he scolded, as I backed away slowly, making no sudden movements.

—–

     By the way, this really happened.  I am certain that I do not have the imaginative power to have made it up.  I don’t think that anybody does.

Kids and Their Weapons

     These cases always attract my interest.  A boy in Virginia has been suspended from school for shooting plastic beads with a pen case.  When I was a kid we used tiny wads of paper–usually soaked in saliva.  I confess that I have shot them in school at least once.

     The boy should be suspended.  Please, please, please do not accuse me of condoning his behavior.  Adults cannot let disruptive behavior occur in a school setting without some sort of consequences applied to the child.  Such behavior must be discouraged.

     However, the boy was eventually suspended for a whole year, the police were called in, and he was charged with crimes.  It is a bit extreme, don’t you think?

     He was eventually given a ten-day suspension, which seems fair.  The punishment was enhanced when somebody read in the handbook that the consequence for using a weapon in school was a mandatory one-year suspension at the minimum.  In other words, zero tolerance trumps common sense once again.

     A policy approach that was meant to keep kids from gunning down their classmates has become a reason to severely punish kids for acting up a bit–the way almost every kid has acted up from time to time.

     In addition to my aforementioned crime of shooting spit-wads, I once shot rubber bands at a classmate when I was in high school.  I think that she fired first.  We both got a short detention, and the teacher giggled about the incident.  She had to punish us, and we accepted our fate humbly, but the teacher was sincerely amused by our antics.  I would be too if I saw a highschooler doing such a thing.

     Who’s right?  Should the Virginia boy have been suspended for a whole year?  Should he have been charged with crimes? 

     A law enforcement officer said in regard to the boy’s charges, “Assault is assault is assault.”  Really?  So a boy blowing a plastic BB at somebody is the same as conking them over the head with a tire iron?  I don’t know if the officer has children, but I wonder how she would feel if her own child got a bit carried away and did such a thing.

     I think that one problem is that we no longer expect parents to discipline their kids.  In my day, you would get a suspension or a detention for such a thing, and your parents (at least my parents) would make your life so miserable that you would think long and hard about acting up again.  Well, you would at least try harder not to get caught next time.  If it happened in public, the police might escort you home, and you would get what-for.  What has changed?