Another Write-wing Conspirator

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  • Welcome to The Curmudgeon’s lair

    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

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    The purpose of this blog is simple: to provide me a vehicle for sounding-off on whatever topic suits me at the moment. While there’s sure to be no shortage of politically-oriented palaver here, it is by no means all (nor necessarily even most) of what will be proffered to your discerning mind. You’ll also find that my personal politics, ethics, morals, and standards are pretty much “all over the map” (according to my mother-in-law)—so, don’t be surprised to see rants regarding, say, the interference of churches in politics, politically-correct anything, “nanny” laws, taxes, the United Nations, Congress, the Commissioner of Baseball, the State of Ohio’s speed limits, steroids, Jesse Jackson, the “mainstream” media, ultra-liberals, ultra-conservatives, the price of cigarettes, Obamarxism, regulating sales of alcohol, gasoline price manipulation, Muslim foot baths, illegal immigration, laws banning the sale of adult sex toys, cell phones, heavy-handed cops, meddlesome politicians, Hillary, Billary, our all-but-self-proclaimed uncrowned Queen Nancy, “W”, eminent domain, freedom of speech, and the designated hitter all in succession. It is, as I said, my curmudgeondom — and I have the credentials and bona fides to lay claim to the title of The Curmudgeon. So, there.

    Some of the postings you'll encounter may seem familiar—especially to those who know me personally. By way of explanation… I once had an ongoing relationship with a local newspaper, and had a number of published opinion pieces—some of which may be posted here. My arrangement was for a feature entitled An Opposing View; given that the editorial staff had a generally liberal, left-of-center view, it stands to reason that my "opposing" view would generally be perceived as coming from the right (in more ways than one, in my own humble opinion). These posts will be annotated as having been previously published.

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Archive for the ‘hate speech’ Category

To Burn, or Not to Burn…

Posted by The Curmudgeon on September 9, 2010

Once again, national angst builds—with Mohammed (again) the focus

Like many, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Reverend Terry Jones’ planned demonstration featuring the burning of Korans. Having considered it at length, I’ve reached one conclusion: I have mixed feelings about it—and this ambivalence will never be resolved.

On the one hand, I fall back on the default of freedom of religion and worship, and I cringe at the prospect of book-burning. It’s easy to understand how some would equate such an act to the Nazis’ heinous and destructive campaign against Jews. It’s easy to understand concerns that such a spectacle might focus hatred on a group based on their beliefs. It’s easy to understand why military commanders express concerns that our forces stationed in the Muslim world might be exposed to danger as Muslims’ ire is inflamed. It’s easy to understand why so many have felt compelled to distance themselves from the planned event, and to add their voices to the widespread condemnation of Rev. Jones.

On the other hand…

If one chooses to burn a U.S. flag, it’s considered “freedom of expression”—and likely to attract protection from legions of civil-rights attorneys. If a band of lunatics disrupts funeral services for a fallen soldier, the court not only affirms their right to do so, but requires the soldier’s family to pay the legal costs incurred by the loonies in defending that right. And where was the compulsion for widespread condemnation when Palestinians took to the streets in celebration even as the twin towers of the World Trade Center were still falling?

Here’s another thought: For those who may have forgotten, a shipment of Bibles was confiscated and burned by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan last year amid concerns that there might be an appearance of soldiers’ attempting to convert the local population to Christianity. In criticizing the action, a Pentagon spokesman remarked (perhaps a bit prophetically) that “There is no need to burn the Bibles. They could have been shipped back.” (I’ll add emphasis to the rest of his comment.) “Just imagine if we, the same the United States military, were to take a bunch of Korans and burn them. I can imagine the ramifications across the world.”

Indeed, soldiers assigned to the detention center in Guantanamo have been criticized for allegedly (no proof emerged) showing some measure of disrespect for the Koran (those allegations having been made, by the way, by detainees who routinely hurl their urine and feces at the staff). More recently, we’ve been bombarded with angry denunciations by Muslims for newspaper cartoons in Europe that were seen as criticisms of Islam. Still fresh is the memory of the brouhaha that resulted when the Comedy Central channel capitulated to Muslim demands over a South Park episode making fun of Mohammed.

It’s clear that a dangerous precedent has been set—and it’s being perpetuated. It seems that anything that might by any stretch of the imagination be misinterpreted by a Muslim as offensive draws criticism. It appears, in fact, to be the latest manifestation of censorship that began during the days of civil rights marches, when whites suddenly became aware of the need to choose every word very carefully just to avoid even the appearance of racism. It’s had the practical effect of creating an environment wherein Muslims anywhere in the world can now dictate behavior by whim—merely by suggesting that some unrest might result if we don’t take heed.

It is at its base a strategy intended to spread fear and force acceptance—and it’s working. Moreover, each case that sees someone appear to back-down in the face of such charges serves both to progressively embolden radical Muslim elements and to bolster the validity of their approach.

At this point, we might stop asking what may happen if Rev. Jones goes through with his planned Koran-burning event—and ask instead what may result if he doesn’t.

 

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Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, hate speech, islam, islamofascist, islamophobia, koran, mosque, muslim, obama, political correctness, politics, quran, speech, terrorism, war | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

A Little Knowledge

Posted by The Curmudgeon on August 28, 2010

It’s still dangerous—as is ignorance of history

Two of the most familiar and oft-quoted observations respectively hold that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and that failure to learn from history dooms us to repeat it.

With that, I present Chris Cuomo of ABC News.

This past week, Cuomo (seeming to echo the growing crescendo of ill-informed mainstream media figures) transmitted the following via his Twitter account: “To all my christian brothers and sisters, especially catholics – before u condemn muslims for violence, remember the crusades….study them”

Interesting.

Some of Cuomo’s Twitter “followers” then engaged him in a bit of back-and-forth, correctly pointing out that the Crusades were in fact preceded by an extended period of Muslim encroachment (indeed, Charles Martel and the Franks halted the Muslim invasion of Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD—long before the First Crusade of 1095-1099 AD).

Not to excuse Cuomo’s ignorance, but his misperception is a common one: that Muslims have been running around in the pissed-off-and-locked position since the Crusades, having never forgiven Christendom for such effrontery—and itching for centuries to get even.

“Get even,” hell; they started this crap.

Or as Princeton University Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis put it: “The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineffectual response to the jihad – a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war.”

However, let’s set aside that issue for just a moment to allow me to digress (it is my blog, after all).

Many years ago, there was a war fought in a place known (then) as South Vietnam. Some of you may recall it. Some of you were too young (or still a gleam in your daddy’s eye) at the time. For those who recall that period, there are also distant memories of widespread unrest, anti-war demonstrations, riots, draft resisters, and so forth. It was a long and costly war, and it resulted in deep divisions among the citizenry.

Being in high school at the height of the war (and rapidly approaching draft-able age), I had more than a passing interest in the matter. Personally, I had mixed feelings about this nation’s involvement in Southeast Asia; however, my ambivalence was spawned by my own research.

The same could not necessarily be said of the majority of my peers.

Oh, they could regurgitate the rhetoric on cue. They had all the chants down pat.

But did they really understand what was going on?

I clearly recall a class discussion during that time. I pretty much hung back and listened for a time, noting the by-then familiar rhetoric being offered. Then, I posed a few questions to some of the more vocal critics of the war.

“You say the war is ‘illegal.’ Based on what?”

I was immediately bombarded with cries that the war was an undeclared one, and that Congress hadn’t approved our involvement there. In reply, I reminded them of the “power of the purse” that Congress wields, and noted that Congress itself had appropriated the funds necessary to conduct the war.

No answers to that one.

I then asked them whether they were familiar with the USS Maddox or the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The “domino theory,” perhaps?

Again, no answers.

Now, I relate this vignette not in an effort to revive the decades-old debate over U.S. involvement in the war, but to illustrate my point that many during that era formed their opinions based not on what they’d discovered through examination of facts but on whatever input (we frequently call them “talking points,” these days) they’d heard from others. It was often a lemming-like acceptance of whatever they’d been fed by commentators via evening news broadcasts—sources known even then for their biased interpretation of events (and reporting thereof).

Which brings us back to the present day, where we are currently assailed by recitals of the current rhetoric. For example, how many times have we heard various sources use the precise phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” in recent months? (This, by the way, is the Democrats’ and illegal aliens’ euphemism for “amnesty and pathway to citizenship to which they have no valid claim since they’re in the country illegally to begin with.”) The phrase’s use seemed to spread overnight, as if by a hidden network (and with the “outing” of the JournoList cabal, the scenario seems quite plausible). Political organizers plant the current phraseology among their minions to go and spread the word far and wide.

Cries of “racism” are also a staple—particularly for anyone with the audacity to criticize anything that Barack Obama says or does.

And then there are the “phobes.” After years of being attacked for being “homophobes,” for example, some are finally (and correctly) pointing out that a phobia is by definition “an irrational fear”—and resistance to the concerted presentation of the homosexual agenda has nothing to do with fear, at all.

Now we’re suddenly dismissed as “Islamophobic” for daring to object to the construction of a mosque where many believe it doesn’t belong, expressing dismay at what seems an insidious transformation of our legal system to a Shariah-compliant state, or pointing out the obvious lie that mass-murder committed by a Muslim officer in the U.S. Army who considers himself a “soldier of Allah” is anything but an act of terrorism. We wonder how there can be a Ramadan observance at the White House while prominent symbols of Christianity are under attack. We question why Uncle Sam foots the bill for repairs to mosques in foreign countries while court challenges halt the restoration of a mission (listed as a national historic landmark) in California based on assertions that the use of taxpayer funds implies endorsement of a religion. We’re aghast that the Obama regime would send an imam (at taxpayers’ expense) through the Muslim world as a sort of emissary and troubleshooter—then have it revealed that this same imam basically said that we brought on the 9/11 attacks ourselves. We’re alarmed and outraged that this imam insists on erecting a mosque at Ground Zero with funds of murky origin, and puzzled that others fail to see the symbolic significance of such a structure to a movement with a history of building mosques to commemorate victories.

Oh, and Cuomo’s response to a Twitter “follower” who challenged his claim? He tweeted: “not sure how pointing out muslim wrongs erases christian wrongs…more defense by attack? proof of bias?”

As Nathan Burchfiel of Newsbusters summed up Cuomo’s response: “So pointing out Muslim wrongs doesn’t erase Christian wrongs — but pointing out Christian wrongs justifies Muslim wrongs?”

Swell. Cuomo’s little bit of knowledge brings us full circle, repeating history once again. The blind leading the blind who refuse to think for themselves, whipped-up by scores of Cuomo’s ilk who have little understanding of history (my wife cites a Biblical reference calling this “zeal without knowledge”) but are intent on shaping the public debate to their liking.

As alleged “Islamophobes,” we’re assailed for having “an irrational fear” about a purported religion of peace that in fact has a long history of extreme violence and repression…a religion that often appears less a religion and more a politically-driven cult with a sinister agenda.

Well, the pundits got the “fear” part right; 9/11 frightened the bejesus out of us. There’s nothing irrational about it, though.

And the current “Islamophobia” label has no validity. What we’re feeling now has little to do with fear.

But we are mad as hell.

________

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Posted in 9/11, corruption, crusade, ground zero, hate crimes, hate speech, health care reform, illegal aliens, immigration, immigration reform, islam, islamofascist, islamophobia, JournoList, media corruption, media establishment, mosque, national security, obama, political correctness, politics, terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Elena Kagan: Is she—or isn’t she?

Posted by The Curmudgeon on May 17, 2010

uh…what was the question, again?

It’s said that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Irony, on the other hand, is delicious any time—and we should take time to thank those in Washington who keep us well-fed.

Take, for example, the latest nominee for the Supreme Court. Serving-up Elena Kagan as his latest hors d’œuvre, Barack Obama has once again replenished the buffet.

In a somewhat questionable move, Obama purposefully sought-out a candidate with no judicial background. While this approach is not in and of itself without precedent (nor logic), it does invite some skepticism—particularly with the memory still fresh of George W. Bush’s ill-fated nomination of Harriet Miers.

Naturally, Kagan’s supporters hastily moved to discount comparisons to Miers—with some validity. While there are similarities between the two candidates, there are also some differences; yet to be determined, of course, is the extent that one may be distinguished from the other.

The salient issue accompanying the nomination of any non-judge is the lack of a “paper trail”—a history of rulings, decisions, and opinions by which a nominee’s legal and judicial philosophy might be revealed. While neither Miers or Kagan ever served as a judge, Kagan’s career has differed in being essentially confined to politics and academia (notwithstanding a short-lived foray into private practice about which we know nothing)—and her supporters would have us believe that there exist sufficient intellectual and academic works to shed light on her views.

Now, at this point, it should be noted that Kagan will almost certainly be confirmed. It’s a matter of simple arithmetic; Democrats hold more seats than do Republicans, and there doesn’t appear to be any enthusiasm for a filibuster. Absent a gaffe of historic proportions, she’ll get the job.

…and at this point, a question is posed to the reader: Upon seeing the title of this piece, what did you think it’d be about?

You might have wondered: Is she or isn’t she what? A liberal? A conservative? A socialist?

Or you might have mused: Is she or isn’t she what? A lesbian?

You might even have wondered: Is she or isn’t she what? An activist eager to “legislate from the bench?”

And so we arrive at one of two points this piece is intended to advance: We know virtually nothing about this woman. And the long history of academic works alluded to by her supporters? Well, it simply isn’t there. Indeed, after leaving a previous post in the Clinton administration, she was denied re-entry to her tenured position at the University of Chicago owing to the paucity of her works—and her original tenure was bestowed despite objections that she simply hadn’t published enough, even then. She is a tangled collection of contradictions and blank pages—and little else.

In many ways, Kagan serves as the perfect symbol for the Obama regime itself. Like Kagan, we didn’t know a whole lot about Obama, either—until he got elected. Prior to taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he kept himself shrouded in secrecy (in truth, he still does). The strategy is clear—and likely to be adopted by others with designs on high office: reveal as little as is absolutely necessary about yourself, lest that knowledge be used against you. (It’s difficult to assail a record that is essentially non-existent.)

The obvious drawback to nominating a candidate with such a blank slate is that it arouses suspicion—particularly when that appointment is made by a White House with the track record that Obama’s has, with its rogue’s gallery of tax cheats, socialists, incompetents, and thugs named to key posts.

For her own part, Kagan seems to be acting in concert with the White House to preserve that veil of secrecy. (The White House released a video of an “interview” that seems to have answered nothing and fooled no one—not even the mainstream media upon which Obama depends so heavily. Does the term “propaganda” come to mind?)

Even Kagan’s supporters have trouble grappling with her true leanings—regardless of the issue. Liberals complain that she’s too conservative (big surprise, there), while conservatives point out her apparent hostility toward the military and embracing of homosexual-rights issues as evidence of her liberal stance. Her advice to then-President Bill Clinton to not endorse late-term abortions is cited as evidence of her relative conservatism. How naive. She made that recommendation only to preserve a political compromise; failure to have done so would’ve risked that compromise being supplanted by a much more conservative (and likely veto-proof) measure being forced by Republicans in Congress. That she eventually allowed military recruiters back on campus at Harvard (she herself ejected them, citing the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy) is offered in response to accusations that she’s hostile toward the armed forces; this claim ignores the fact that she “let” them come back only after being forced to do so by a Supreme Court decision—and that she encouraged student protests even while she was opening the doors to the recruiters.

And now to return to my favorite point of this missive: that delicious irony.

Let’s face it: This Kagan episode is rich with it. Personally, I’m reveling in it.

Consider, for example, the quandary facing (or that should be facing) Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who loudly lamented the lack of a paper trail for Harriet Miers (read: There’s no record to attack.) . Kagan’s tabula rasa, on the other hand, he finds much less disturbing. Go figure.

More irony: Concealing so much about Kagan in an effort to preempt criticism actually led to more criticism as people filled in the blanks.

Think about Obama’s position. He’s being assailed by his leftist supporters for not being liberal enough (as if ); at the same time, conservatives are unlikely to embrace anyone liberal enough to suit him. True to form, then, he seeks out someone he thinks will be liberal enough to meet his standards and mollify the left, but about whom no one really knows anything for certain—fueling further speculation from the right. And this speculation cannot be decisively addressed for want of the very paper trail that Obama sought to avoid in the first place (Oh, what a tangled web we weave…).

With apologies to masculine-appearing women everywhere, one cannot help but wonder about Kagan; sorry, but this broad reminds one of a knock-down version of Rosie O’Donnell—or perhaps leads one to believe that the Washington Redskins have lost track of one of their linebackers. Not surprisingly, it was soon revealed that there have long been rumors that she’s a lesbian. The White House quickly issued a denial—but it hasn’t gone unnoticed that there now seems to be a mission underway to make her appear more feminine. And as if by magic, friends of Kagan began cropping-up in the press to also deny those rumors.

…which led to yet another ironic predicament for Obamazoids.

Equally magical was the universal realization that issuing strong denials in an effort to buttress support for Kagan risked alienating the homosexual community—overwhelmingly liberal, Democrat, and pro-Obama. What ensued strongly resembled an old episode of Seinfeld, as those strong denials suddenly became strong denials immediately followed by a qualifier: “No, she’s not a lesbian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. If it were true. Which it isn’t.”

Sadly, while this unfolding drama provides grand political theater, it’d be easy to overlook Kagan’s potential influence over future Supreme Court decisions; given her relative youth, it’s not unreasonable to anticipate her hanging-on for thirty years or more. Therefore, it would seem to be of heightened importance that she be thoroughly vetted in her confirmation process—a practice she herself once advocated in one of her few published works; unfortunately, preliminary suggestions indicate that her reception in the Senate will more likely involve velvet gloves than boxing gloves. (It should be noted also that during her own confirmation hearing for her current post of Solicitor General, she seemed much less enthusiastic about such an approach. Surprised?) Again, barring a major faux pas like stumbling over her strap-on while entering the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room, she’s a virtual lock.

And we know practically nothing about her.

To paraphrase Pelosi’s asinine health care takeover argument (“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it…”), it appears that Kagan will be confirmed with little more than perfunctory examination—and then we find out what we’re getting.

Yet another mysterious pig in a poke foisted upon us by the Obama regime.

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Posted in hate crimes, hate speech, Kagan, lesbian, obama, opinion, Pelosi, political correctness, politics, Senate confirmation, Supreme Court, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Of Sticks and Stones—and the “N” word

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 10, 2010

No; the other “N” word.

Recently, the Obama regime’s First Bully and Enforcer — that would be White House attack poodle Rahm “Rahmbo” Emanuel (apologies to poodles everywhere) — ironically learned a hard lesson about the liberal left’s agenda: it sometimes cuts both ways.

It seems that while delivering one of his trademark diatribes, he used the word “retarded” to describe his audience; not surprisingly, this transgression didn’t play well in a world where a form of “Newspeak” (yes; that “N” word) has steadily gained ground. (For the record…yeah, the writer is aware of the true nature of “Newspeak” in the Orwellian sense; however, the term has — as have so many other words — acquired a more generic meaning since its introduction.) In this never-ending euphemization and re-inventing of the language, “retarded” was actually discarded quite some time ago. (In truth, one might suspect that Rahmbo already knew this; almost unnoticed was the “f– – –ing” descriptor that immediately preceded the “retarded” epithet—which he probably didn’t want to be common knowledge, either.) While not considered as offensive as the “N” word that the reader probably expected to encounter in this posting, it nonetheless draws universal condemnation.

We’ve characteristically employed euphemisms to soften harsh messages; it long ago became common practice, for example, for hospital personnel to refer to the recently departed as having “expired” as opposed to saying that they died. (Even Psycho‘s Norman Bates noted that his mother “…isn’t herself today”—though that actually had more than one meaning.) It was understandable and accepted to say that a child was “held back” a grade in school rather than “she failed.” A snot-nosed brat was still a snot-nosed brat, but we referred to him in polite conversation as “high-spirited” or “rambunctious.” Even that “retarded” stigma was typically cushioned by substituting “slow” or even “special.” We generally regarded this as tactful and diplomatic, with the best of intentions (though we also scowled when the government tried to supplant “tax” with “revenue enhancement” several years ago).

More recently, however, the aim(s) of this practice shifted.

Now, the schoolgirl is more likely to be described as having “achieved a deficiency” (though she actually failed to achieve much of anything—which is why she was held back).

For reasons that range from countering stigmatization to reshaping our very thoughts, we’re constantly bombarded with an ever-changing array of new terms — a new “Newspeak,” as it were — that’s impacted education, the law, and social interaction to a degree that we once considered inconceivable. Whether done under the banner of political correctness or with the intent of political manipulation, no one is impervious to its effects.

Remember all those acts of terrorism through the years? They’re now officially referred to as “man-made disasters.” (Indeed, the Obama regime for months doggedly avoided using the label “terrorist” at all…a policy that finally changed when a man-made disaster “enabler” — or whatever parlance was used — stuffed the crotch of his skivvies with explosives.)

If you’re heterosexual, it’s acceptable for others to characterize you as “hetero”; referring to a homosexual as “homo,” however, is considered “hate speech”—and actually calling him “homo” or “fag” or “fairy” or “queer” (unless, presumably, the speaker is also a supporter of the homosexual-activist organization “Queer Nation”) is a prosecutable “hate crime” in some jurisdictions (with others no doubt soon to follow). Such detestable speech will also result in one being awarded the misapplied label “homophobe” (misapplied because “phobia” means “fear”—and fear is not the universal impetus driving moral objections to homosexual activity). One is also considered homophobic for resisting the expansion of “gay rights” in any way or for any reason. (It is not sufficient, by the way, to merely believe that what consenting adults do in private is their own business; we’re now exhorted to “celebrate diversity” and “embrace multiculturalism” — whatever that means…if not merely a repackaging of political correctness — in pretty much every area from ethnicity to sexual preference to gender.)

The word “blackmail” has recently come under attack; though the term dates from 16th century Scotland, it’s now viewed as disparaging to blacks—who by and large are no longer black, anyway, but African-American (whether their ancestors were African or not; apparently, pigmentation is the determining factor). Similarly, some now criticize equating black with mourning, evil, or criminality for likewise somehow denoting a latent racism of sorts (though there’s been no corresponding attempt to stamp-out the expressions “white collar crime” and “white lie” as being hurtful to those with lighter skin. Gee.).

Given that “retarded” is now a forbidden word, one can only wonder how long it will take before telling someone “You’re crazy” will result in having the speaker branded a “hate criminal” (or however the Newspeak mavens categorize such malfeasants). Is “stupid” on the endangered list? Surely “moron” and “idiot” are soon to follow(?) For that matter, isn’t “brat” equally at risk? After the most recent popularization wears off, “bitch” may also be viewed askance. Since prostitutes are now commonly referred to as “sex workers,” what’s to become of “whore,” “hooker,” and “strumpet?” One can only imagine what fate awaits those who dare to refer to a real whack-job as “loony.” Will all those old “Looney Tunes” cartoons be banned? Will the mad, demented, deranged, loco, bonkers, nutty lunatics be our next protected group?

Nor is it enough to merely eschew specific offensive words. Recall a few years back that at least two people in separate highly-publicized incidents were castigated for using the word “niggardly” simply because it sounded too much like a reviled term (though it is entirely unrelated to skin color). Similarly, there was the infamous “water buffalo” incident at the University of Pennsylvania.

Speaking of universities…they’re pretty much in the vanguard of the re-shaping of both speech and thought. Many have “speech codes”—though they’ve largely discovered to their dismay that such controls don’t have a good track record when contested in the courts. Yet.

Language is not static. It evolves. Words come and go, their relative popularity or obscurity fluctuating with the times. What was yesterday’s “buzz word” is tomorrow’s archaic castaway. We temper the trends with commonly-accepted standards.

And we somehow manage to communicate—usually with only a minimum of rancor. We know that there are “fightin’ words” that are pretty much guaranteed to prompt…well, a fight. We don’t use them—unless it’s a fight we seek. We know the accepted rule is to “watch your language” around children and those we consider likely to be easily offended. We’re well aware that the “F” word is unwelcome in church and in many social situations. Even comments and jokes known to be “off-color” (or the now-preferred “inappropriate”) either for profanity or for the potential to offend specific groups have long merited a quick glance over the shoulder—though the motivation for doing so seems lately to be more about avoiding the “PC Police”-minded and less about inadvertently offending anyone present.

We’ve long sought that precarious balance between civilized discourse and freedom of speech. No, there is no absolute right to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and “fighting words” are the subject of a series of Supreme Court decisions; on the other hand, freedom of expression was actually expanded over a long period of time, and those aforementioned Supreme Court opinions actually fine-tuned the original decision (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, which established the “fighting words doctrine”) mostly by narrowing the government’s authority to restrict or regulate speech.

So…what’s different now than, say, two or three generations ago?

The change is essentially twofold: Tempered only by Supreme Court oversight, the determination of what is (and isn’t) acceptable is increasingly institutional, coming as mandates from government, schools, and employers—often in response to pressure applied by activist organizations. More importantly, it isn’t merely a matter of speech or expression; what’s transpiring now is nothing short of social engineering and behavior modification—and blatant brainwashing.

Think back to the widespread campus “unrest” (and sometimes violent demonstrations) of the 1960’s and -70’s, when students railed against “The Establishment.” Follow them through their post-college lives—particularly those who pursued careers in education.

Guess what? Now, they are The Establishment. They’re now the ones making the rules—and they brook no dissent, selectively stifling and promoting thought, speech, and action with a fervor that makes the “old” establishment seem libertine by comparison. They control every level of education from pre-school to post-graduate studies. They set the curriculum. They determine what textbooks will be used. They impose their standards of behavior on students—and they very carefully shape minds. They also have unions and lobbyists.

Other former campus firebrands opted for legal careers. Considering the state of affairs in our courts…need more be said?

And, of course, many gravitated into government and politics. Again…’nuff said.

Allow yourself to return for just a moment to a simpler time in your life. Do you recall the old “Sticks and stones may break my bones” bit that we were taught when someone said something unpleasant to us? Or (for the more learned and refined) recall what Eleanor Roosevelt said about no one being able to make us feel small without our own sanction.

They’re words. Yes, words can hurt—if we allow them to. The experience is not, however, akin to being assaulted with a baseball bat.

Besides…the wholesale revamping of the language is, again, only a part of a much more ambitious agenda to broaden the government’s control of our lives.

And it’s increasingly apparent that “celebrating diversity” and “embracing multiculturalism” are little more than Newspeak euphemisms for “Bend over and grab your ankles.”

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Posted in hate crimes, hate speech, political correctness, politics | 5 Comments »

Observations from the Middle of the Road

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 26, 2009

A meandering mini-manifesto from the mythical Middle Majority

Somewhere in the ether between the extreme-left-wing ultra-liberal socialist pinko left and the extreme-right-wing ultra-conservative Neo-Fascist right lies the legitimate majority of the population, that elusive 51% that most accurately reflects the prevailing opinions and sentiments of the nation; pinpointing this group, however, is often difficult. Party affiliation severely blurs the picture (yes, there really are pro-choice Republicans who play golf and buy beer on Sundays…just as there are pro-life Democrats who attend church three times per week without fail). The plethora of polls intended to locate this “Joe Six-pack” center–I think of it as the mythical Middle Majority–often serve only to muddy the waters (I figure that since college football was for years allowed a “mythical national championship,” I’m entitled to a myth or two of my own).

The way I figure it, both extremes collectively account for a relatively small percentage of the populace—but their inclusion can skew the middle, making it difficult to define what is “middle of the road” on political issues. I’d suggest that most…say, about 50%-60%…fall somewhere between center-left, center, and center-right on most issues—party affiliation not withstanding (don’t bore me with lectures about bell-shaped curves, statistical analysis, standard deviations and the like, by the way; this is my bailiwick–and my opinion–so, yes, you may wish to comment, but…it’s nearly impossible to reasonably assess a mere opinion as either right or wrong). Moreover, our views on specific “hot button” issues don’t always allow categorization along philosophical or party lines, either, and sometimes move otherwise middle-of-the-road or even straight-ticket voters to adopt more extreme stances—even to the point of rendering them one-issue voters who make a vote/no vote decision about a candidate based exclusively on that candidate’s position regarding a single issue of particular concern. And they cross party lines to do so.

Based on entirely un-scientific methods (unless one wishes to so classify my own gut feeling), I’ll toss out a few thoughts which I believe closely approximate the views of the Middle Majority:

We don’t like Congress. We see that band of ne’er-do-wells as a necessary evil. Period. We resent their “I’m-above-the-law” and “I-know-what’s-best-for-you” attitudes. They spend actually working only a fraction of the time the ordinary citizen does. They travel unnecessarily and expensively—and stick us with the bill for it. They’re currently trying to force-feed to the populace a mammoth piece of health-care legislation from which they expressly exempt themselves (as they do with any other law they choose to ignore). They’re crooked. Though there may not be a direct exchange of cash from one had to another, they buy and sell their votes in the form of support or obstruction based on—well, that seems to not have a lot of rules, either. We’re tired of congressional figures cheating on the very taxes they levy on us, too.

Huge volumes could be written regarding our dislike of Congress; the above offers only a few examples.

We want legislation we can understand. It should be clear, simple, in understandable English (not legalese)—and brief. The time-honored standard for marathon reading is Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It took him years to complete. It is 1,225 pages long (1,475 pages, paperback). It takes the average reader…well, a long time to read. Congress is attempting to force passage of a bill that dwarfs Tolstoy’s masterwork at more than 2,000 pages—and it was assembled over a period of mere weeks. It would likely be months (if not years) before the ramifications of its passage–to say nothing of the hidden surprises–would be completely revealed. Coupled with the intense politicking on both sides…well, frankly, it scares Hell out of us.

What happened to “one issue, one bill, one simple vote”? Part of our dislike for–and mistrust of–Congress stems from its propensity for hidden agenda. What on earth has “hate-crimes” legislation to do with defense authorizations? Unable to ram-through that unwanted law any other way, however, they somehow attached it to funding for national defense—which few dared oppose. Politicians see this sort of thing as being business as usual and part of the political process; we, on the other hand, despise it as yet another means of forcing something on us that doesn’t belong.

We’re ready for term limits—and we’re really ready for congressional term limits. There’s a reason that House terms are set at two years. The Founders never intended for this to become job security. From the moment these people manage to achieve “incumbent” status, though, their first order of business is to work on their re-election…over and over again. For as long as the law will let them.

Yes, we hate taxes. But we know they’re necessary, so we pay them. What we hate more than taxes is a tax code so convoluted that no one understands it. If the tax code was worth a damn, all those tax-return preparation agencies wouldn’t exist; we’d be able to do it ourselves. Oh, and we don’t like cabinet members who are revealed to be tax cheats—and we really don’t like members of Congress who cheat on their taxes (especially the crook who chairs the committee that writes the tax code that bedevils the rest of us).

We’ve come to appreciate the wisdom of William Shakespeare—especially that bit about killing all the lawyers.

To be sure…when we need a lawyer, we want a vicious, ruthless, blood-sucking, cutthroat bastard par excellence advocating on our behalf; when the dirty work is done, however, we expect him to quietly crawl back under his rock where he belongs—not to change careers and run for Congress. (We’ve noted that the political process has been pretty well defiled at a rate that tracks well with the rising ratio of lawyers in Congress—which probably also explains that crap they try to pass off as legislation…which we can’t read because it’s all legalistic gobbledygook interlaced with hidden agenda items.)

We as a people champion the underdog. On the other hand…while we don’t feel quite right having to side with mega-corporations beset by nuisance lawsuits, we can’t bear to have our sense of fair play insulted, either. If you’ve genuinely been treated unfairly or wronged in any way, we want you to get justice—but we don’t like seeing the legal system subverted through your (more correctly: your lawyer’s) ridiculous demands that your stupidity be indemnified by the courts…no matter how hot your coffee was. We also cringe if your “just compensation” exceeds what we see as a reasonable amount; for you to be awarded twenty bazillion dollars in damages for having stubbed your toe while entering Megabuck, Inc.’s world headquarters seriously offends our sensibilities—and again forces us into the uncomfortable position of siding against “the little guy” (and his blood-sucking lawyer, of course).

Here’s an idea: after every civil suit, have the case immediately reviewed by a panel (preferably including at least one member who isn’t a lawyer) to determine whether the case should have been brought to court in the first place. If this panel concludes that it was a “frivolous” or “nuisance” suit (often little more than shakedown attempts) that should never have seen the light of day, the plaintiff’s lawyer then has to reimburse both the court and the defendant for all costs associated with the trial. Think that might cut down on the caseload? (Count this as an endorsement for tort reform.)

Apollo 11 went to the moon and back in 1969. The electrical power needs of the craft were met by a hydrogen fuel cell…one that even produced fresh water as a by-product—and one based on technology that had already been around for decades. Only a few years later came the Arab oil embargo—when we realized that our dependence on foreign oil jeopardized our national security. At about the same time, we also concluded that the massive amounts of pollutants being discharged into the atmosphere when we drove our cars were having a range of effects that we still haven’t entirely tallied-up.

…so, why–forty years later–are we still importing and burning that oil? Why haven’t we moved on to a better power source? (Yes, some fuel cells have finally become available—but relatively few, and much later than they should have been on the market. And there are other alternate sources to consider, as well.) If the Federal government–which clearly enjoys sticking its tentacles pretty much everywhere–really wants to do some major good, this would seem a logical area.

By the way…we’re not entirely in love with nuclear power plants, either—but we’d rather deal with those than kiss the backsides of a bunch of sheiks. Just don’t build any more of the damned things on known fault lines.

Saying “Merry Christmas” is a seasonal greeting. Christmas is, itself, observed in the United States as a traditional holiday—not a religious holiday. That some also link it to the birth of Jesus should be of no real consequence (and they’re probably a few months off, anyway), as it’s been suggested that the designation of December 25th to commemorate Jesus’ birth was deliberately intended to coincide with the winter solstice and the Roman festival known as “Saturnalia”. People should be no more offended by hearing “Merry Christmas” than they would be if someone handed them candy and hard-boiled eggs and said “Happy Easter.” And that thing’s called a “Christmas tree”—not a “holiday tree.” Raising a fuss about that just smacks of political correctness taken entirely too far (a rapidly growing –finally!– issue in many areas of concern, by the way.) Does the expression “Yuletide Greetings” offend you? It’s no less “religious” than “Merry Christmas”, inasmuch as “Yule” initially referred to a pagan festival—another of many traditional winter festivals of various names observed in cultures around the world for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.

Speaking of political correctness…we’re sick of it. We’ve quietly tolerated (foolishly) its gradual insinuation into our lives. We have at various junctures over the years laughed at its manifestations, ridiculed it, and shaken our heads in disgust; unfortunately, we also allowed it. Perhaps the recent massacre at Ft. Hood finally snapped us out of our complacency with the many references to the role political correctness may have played in enabling a terrorist to murder thirteen people. Whatever the case, voices are now being raised as never before–whether borne of outrage, fear, disgust, or exasperation–and the groundswell seems to be gaining momentum. Finally. We’ve grown weary of being dismissed as “racist” even for something as fundamental as criticizing the guy in the White House, we now cringe at the overuse of terms like “insensitive” and “inappropriate,” and we bristle at being labeled “homophobic” for having the audacity to oppose the promotion of “gay pride” rallies and parades—and become downright hostile at what we see as the brain-washing of the young via classroom indoctrination designed to compel acceptance of same-sex activities. (“Homophobe” is incorrect, anyway; there’s no fear–”phobia”–at issue. We’re fed-up…and that’s all there is to it.)

On a closely related matter…we don’t like the idea of having same-sex marriages sanctified by law. Of course, the days are long since gone when homosexual activity would likely lead to a jail cell; we have become much more accepting of what consenting adults do behind closed doors. There’s a reason, though, why initiatives to legalize same-sex marriage are batting zero on state ballots: adopting an accepting, laissez-faire attitude toward personal relationships is one thing—granting such activity an officially-sanctioned status (particularly with its concomitant implications for matters such as family health insurance coverage) is quite another matter. Furthermore, we don’t like the feeling of being compelled to embrace activities we view as lifestyle choices; we consider ourselves reasonable, fair people with a basic “live-and-let-live” philosophy—and force-feeding us anything invites resistance.

Back to those incessant claims of racism: give it a rest, already. The current climate makes us yearn for the relatively good old days (which we also detested, at the time) of “playing the race card” as a last desperate measure. We saw through it then, too. Now, the dreaded label of “racist” has become the first resort. We particularly object to such charges being leveled by those whose own actions reveal their racism (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, and Louis Farrakhan come immediately to mind). Political candidates running on this theme do so in a clear attempt to polarize, pandering to the minority vote. Time for them all to move on to another teat; this one’s been milked dry. No one outside the liberal media and those mental giants in Hollywood is buying it, anymore—while resistance within the populace is rapidly strengthening (again, long overdue).

We learned all about John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, and judicial review back in about the sixth grade. We accept that as an established part of the system. We also know there’s supposed to be some reasonable limit to a judge’s authority—and we know judicial activism when we see it. We grow livid when some among us go through the trouble of having an initiative placed on a ballot, voted on, passed by a wide margin—then shot down in flames by an activist judge anxious to make his or her mark by discovering yet another Constitutional “right” neither conferred nor intended by the Founding Fathers.

…and we noticed that Sonia Sotomayor pretty much has all the bases covered: blatantly activist, racist, and sexist. And they say justice is blind.

Yes, we’re utterly convinced that the so-called “mainstream media” (which doesn’t represent mainstream thinking, at all) has a left-wing bias; hell, even they know it—and many of them seem mighty proud of it. We in increasing numbers have largely given up on the three so-called “major” network news bureaus and most of the print media in favor of Fox News and the multitudes of web news sources. Do we really believe that Fox is as “fair and balanced” as it claims? Hard to say. Some probably do. Without question, though, Fox does at least serve to balance-out some of the obviously slanted barrage of their leftist counterparts, anyway—and frequently brings to light stories that would no doubt have died quiet deaths in its absence.

We are especially galled by what Bernard Goldberg calls the “slobbering love affair” that ensued when media met Obama. The media’s traditional role has been one of probing and “vetting” potential candidates, to the point of knowing even how Jimmy Carter cleaned his teeth and how frequently Ronald Reagan’s wife consulted astrologers. Though there’s long been a generally more-favorable presentation of liberals than of conservative candidates, at least there was until recently a semblance of an effort to appear even-handed, anyway. No more. It’s astonishing how readily the media hopped aboard the Obama train—even going so far as to devour their own when there appeared among them a rare dissenting voice. The result? The ascension to the White House of a man whose obsession with secrecy surpasses even Richard Nixon’s—and about whom we still know precious little…and he sure as hell isn’t volunteering anything, either. Even more puzzling is the newsies’ tolerance for the obvious condescension served-up by the Obama regime on a regular basis when dealing with even prominent media figures.

The war(s) in Afghanistan and Iraq are causing the Middle Majority some pretty major angst. On the one hand, we see a need for military action in one or both; on the other hand, we’re concerned about the cost in lives, money, and political capital versus what’s been gained for our expenditure. The one uniting issue is our support for the troops—and we’re wary of seeing them largely abandoned to an uncertain goal.

Islam stands as one of the most troubling issues of our time. We absolutely and jealously guard our religious freedom, and are quick on the trigger when this fundamental right is threatened. We’ve also noted, though, how many acts of terrorism at home and abroad have been committed in the name of Islam—and the lack of condemnation within the Muslim population(s) of such acts (to the contrary, there are frequently indications of broad approval). Yet, we feel a need to tread carefully when mentioning Islam and terrorism at the same time. Or even on the same day. Contrast this treatment with, say, the Federal government’s handling of the Branch Davidians at Waco, who were dismissed as pretty much a fringe cult—and summarily crushed. The prevailing view is that speaking against Muslims in any way risks allegations of “hate speech”—and “hate crimes.”

Cries of “hate speech” and “hate crime” are not hollow complaints; they can subject the accused to fines and imprisonment for something as trivial as referring to a homosexual as a “homo” (while the shortened version of “heterosexual” is acceptable. Gee.). The steady designation of various groups as somehow endangered and in need of special consideration (as opposed to the legal standard of “equal protection under the law”) has pervaded society and the legal system. The Middle Majority’s view of such goings-on is mixed and complex; we believe in protecting those who are threatened and in short-circuiting routes that may lead to something akin to the Holocaust—but we’re not so sure about this practice of essentially conferring “endangered species” status on seemingly endless groups for reasons that aren’t at all clear. We regard the practice as unnecessary—and what exactly is a “love crime,” anyway?

We got very bent out-of-shape when Homeland Security announced which groups warrant close observation for signs of “home-grown terrorism” leanings—and which ones don’t. (The first two I thought of were the Internal Revenue Service and the National Education Association—but, that’s just me.) Apparently, a gaggle of senior citizens waving tea bags at protest rallies constitutes a greater threat than guys wearing turbans and shrieking “Allah u akhbar!” Who knew? The Middle Majority suspects this is related to the widely-held belief that dissent is only acceptable when it’s done by liberals and Democrats—who are clearly more experienced in such pursuits (“Don’t try this at home, kids. Remember: we’re professionals.”). And then there are all those returning veterans—who (presumably) somehow became radicalized while fighting those Islamic terrorists who (presumably) aren’t out to destroy us. Except the ones who hijack airliners and crash them into buildings. Or who blow-up buildings. While shrieking “Allah u akhbar!”

Abortion. Frankly, after more than four decades of hearing about this one, I wish it’d just go away. I’ll come out of the closet as pro-choice (much to the annoyance of many family members)—but I admittedly speak only for myself on this one. I do not agree with “late-term” abortions, however, except when the mother’s physical health is at risk—and only upon the advice of her physician; “partial-birth” abortions are simply murder. Note that this is not an invitation to debate the issue; I don’t even want to hear about it—let alone discuss it. It’s pointless, as virtually everyone is already firmly entrenched in his/her opinion and unlikely to be swayed. As for the how the rest of the Middle Majority feels about it…you figure it out. I’m tired.

Illegal immigration and border security are major issues for the MM crowd. They’re not “undocumented workers”; they’re illegal aliens. They entered the country illegally. And they’re aliens. What’s difficult to understand about that? We consider the term “open border” an oxymoron—emphasis on the “moron” part. We don’t think the economy will self-destruct from the reduction in cheap labor. We are very concerned about who else is sneaking across our porous borders along with the poor folks looking for work. We’re sick of a Congress that simply isn’t getting the message. We’re thoroughly disgusted with a government that refuses to discharge its most basic responsibility: securing and protecting the nation. Get it? Oh, and…amnesty? Don’t even think about it. Path to citizenship? Here’s one: go back to square one–that’d be where they came from–and start over again. And this time…do it legally.

The deficit. Hel-loooo-oooo? Twelve trillion. Depending on how it’s all computed, maybe eighteen trillion. And counting. It looks like this: $12,000,000,000,000 . What more needs to be said but: “Please, don’t tell Obama what comes after ‘trillion,'” and “Stop spending money you don’t have!” The rest of us have to balance our checkbooks; why doesn’t the government?

Health care reform. We don’t trust our health care to the Federal government—and certainly not to Congress (you know; those guys who’ve been busily cutting deals behind closed doors). Oh, and, by the way…whatever gave rise to this notion that anyone loves insurance companies? We’ve all spent more time swearing at them than Pelosi, Reid, and Obama combined. Get real. We see the current “reform” attempt for what it really is: a power-and-money-grabbing scheme that has nothing to do with reforming health care. We don’t want “socialized” anything. We don’t trust a Congress that compels us to accept a system from which it exempts itself. And don’t think we’re fooled by all those re-writes, either; they’re nothing more than thinly-veiled attempts to conceal items we’ve already rejected, sneaking them in via an esoteric Trojan horse that’s carefully crafted to be incomprehensible.

Gun control. We have it, already. It’s called the Second Amendment. Great reading. Somebody show it to Schumer.

Need more? Just ask. Have opinion—will write.

 

Posted in deficit, hate crimes, hate speech, national defense, political correctness, terrorism | 2 Comments »