Why I Hate Feminism

I don’t and this video by Laci Green explains why.

Free. Your. Mind.

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The ‘Murican Dream (A Long Trayvon Martin Rant)

“Apparently, we are now at the point when a seventeen year old boy, unarmed, must make all the correct judgments during a confrontation with a grown man in order not to be shot to death.”

-David Simon, co-creator of HBO’s The Wire

I’ve been called a nigger, to my face, somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen times in my life.  Clerks have followed me around stores countless times.  I’ve been automatically put in remedial English classes on 3 occasions and told by an English teacher that I have problems writing (it salted my opinion of my ability for years).  I’ve been stopped by police dozens of times, asked what I was doing, occasionally searched, yet never given a citation or a warning.  Once a cop pulled up when I was sitting in a car outside my house talking to a friend.  He checked my driver’s license three times (never hers, of course, she was white) on the grounds that there had been a robbery at a nearby convenience store.  He admitted when he first saw me that I didn’t fit the description except that I was black.  (Couldn’t she have been the getaway driver?)  The worst was the time the police pulled me over when I was driving home from work and drew guns on me.  The 1st cop asked for my registration, when I reached for it (it was in the glove-box) he blurted Whoa!Whoa!Whoa! at me while his partner aimed his gun at my head through the passenger window.  His intent was clear: Don’t move your hand another inch or you’re gonna get shot in the face. They kept me there for two hours, repeatedly checking my driver’s license and registration.  They said, once again, that my vehicle ‘matched a description,” but considering I was driving a grey Nissan pick up with blue side panels, you can count me  skeptical.

But I digress.  My point is, most black men have stories like these.  It’s just the reality of life in America.  I typically don’t give it much thought.

But I can’t treat this stuff so lightly anymore.  I mean, I live in a world where, as a black man, if being harassed and followed around is all you get, you’re actually doing okay.  Think about it; in any of the above instances, if I had been belligerent or, God-forbid physical, I might have been killed with impunity.

I mean, what the hell is that?  This is America, right?

We’re at the point now where a 12-year-old black kid needs a completely different set of instructions from a 12-year-old white kid.  If anything happens they won’t trust you if you’re black.  If you’re black and anything less than an absolute angel, you’re guilty.  And always run, because if you defend yourself successfully, the odds are you’re going to jail; if you defend yourself and lose, you could be dead.  And it will be your fault.

Yeah, yeah, I’m just being reactionary.  It’s got nothing at all to do with race.  It’s just happenstance.  Again.

The truth is, that while many of the details in the Trayvon Martin case have nothing to do with race, at its core, it’s all about race.  Race is what made George Zimmerman suspicious of Trayvon in the 1st place.  Race is why people are so quick to believe that Trayvon is a thug or must have initiated the physical confrontation that lead Zimmerman to shoot him.  Of course this is all based on Zimmerman’s account, which he had a month and a half to work on before being seriously questioned about it.

But I cannot possibly believe that if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon was white that Zimmerman’s story is the one law enforcement would go with any more than I believe that Sean Hannity and Fox News would help raise money for a black Zimmerman’s defense. Or that the police would give black  Zimmerman 44 days to get his story straight before arresting him. Or that a jury of six white women from a small southern town would sympathize with an armed black man patrolling the neighborhood and shooting an unarmed white teenager. Or that a 17-year-old white teenager would get racial profiled in his father’s gated community.

Don’t get me wrong, the judge’s instructions were horrendous; Zimmerman actually rejected Stand Your Ground in favor of a standard self defense claim. Yet the judge instructed the jury that Zimmerman had the right to stand his ground and Juror B37 has since admitted that Stand Your Ground factored into the acquittal.  Simultaneously, the judged failed to instruct them  that in a standard self-defense claim Zimmerman needs to prove that he didn’t initiate the confrontation.

Thus, I believe the evidence, or lack thereof, leaves room for reasonable doubt, particularly with how self-defense laws currently stand.  Moreover, I think the Dept. of Justice going after Zimmerman is de facto double jeopardy, a violation of Zimmerman’s Constitutional rights.  And I don’t think two wrongs make a right.

The fact is, this whole thing stinks.  And it hurts.  If Trayvon’s death was a punch to the gut, the verdict is a kick in the balls.

I honestly can’t help feeling…unwelcome these days. It’s somewhat familiar feeling,  unfortunately.

I know.  Everyone has to deal with racism.  But let’s be honest here.  America has one of the great atrocities of human history on its books. 400 years of the most brutal, oppressive, and dehumanizing slavery ever known followed by another 100 years of legislative, systematic, and violent oppression.

Trayvon Martin’s death is just an echo of this legacy.

Consider that at no point in American history have blacks enjoyed equal standing with whites in terms of income, wealth, education quality or access, job opportunities, corporate leadership, or representation in government.  This on top of being historically red-lined by banks denying us access to home and business loans, subjected to gentrification, stopped, frisked, arrested and charged by law enforcement with much greater frequency, and punished more severely for similar crimes.  So let’s stop pretending that there’s an equivalency, it’s ignorant if not downright duplicitous.

The problem is that we’ve allowed cowards, liars, and bigots–bullies essentially–to set the terms of the discussion.  And bullies hate a fair fight.  They have instead created an environment in which there can be no discourse on the subject of race, save for the occasional rant by Chris Rock.

When we’re not hitting each other over the head with the race card, we’re denying it outright (don’t be fooled, this is just a means of deflecting the entire argument back), focusing on minutia completely out of context as evidence of egality (a.k.a. the “see, when viewed in a vacuum, this detail isn’t racist”), or simply burying our heads in the sand and proclaiming that we’ve arrived at a post-racial America.

It’s bullshit.  And shame on all of us for accepting it as anything else.

The fact is, Trayvon Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal are about race.  A lot of things are about race, and will continue to be, because we refuse to face the issue.

I think about Germany, another nation with a Great Atrocity on its books.  They study the Holocaust as ugly and humiliating as it is.  They look at it and seek not only answers but solutions.  And soon after World War II they came to the conclusion that their government no longer has the right to take a person’s life.  Their current constitution, ratified in 1949, abolishes capital punishment.

That’s the kind of approach we need here in the United States.  Instead of meekly slapping injustice and discrimination away whenever it pops up, we should be actively hunting it down, rooting it out, and crushing it utterly.

More importantly, we can’t keep letting the people who are indifferent, weak-minded, self-interested, or hateful keep controlling the argument. There aren’t two equal sides to the issue.  There’s right and there’s wrong. We have to be determined to be on the right side of this issue forever more.  Not to make up for slavery, which at this point is impossible, but to ensure that inequality and discrimination are completely eliminated and bigotry of every stripe is banished to the shadows where it may wallow only in tremulous fear of the light.

Of course, this is only my dream.

We don’t actually live in a post-racialist America.  Toes are going to get stepped on, nerves will be frayed.  There are blatant racists and more significantly, oblivious ones.  Having your worldview shattered is an unnerving, occasionally violent thing.  It’s unpleasant.  But we can’t let that deter us.

We can no longer afford to be tolerant of intolerance.

Free.  Thought.

And boycott Florida.

Killing for Profit–An American Story

I was gonna go postal in a blog (still might) about this but The young Turks once again handled it much better than I ever could.

Wells Fargo Yovany Gonzalez
Yovany Gonzalez with his daughter Mackenzie.

For those without time to watch the video–and if you haven’t heard–the short version is that Yovany Gonzalez is suing Wells Fargo bank because he believes they fired him 3 days before his daughter, Mackenzie, was scheduled to have cancer surgery. Gonzalez alleges that the financial conglomerate and their insurance provider, United Healthcare, fired him for the express purpose of not having to pay for the expensive medical procedure.  (He was not offered his government mandated COBRA coverage until after 90-days…when he was no longer eligible.)

Mackenzie died of cancer in March 2011.

Germane here is the point that corporations are inherently devoid of morality.  By design, corporations are meant to, within the scope of the prevalent laws and regulations, generate profits and alleviate personal risk.  They can be either good or bad as profit and their executive leadership dictates.  Now these amoral “constructs” have assumed overwhelming influence in the U.S. because of our corrupt political system.

A prime example of this manifest corruption is the lack of gun restrictions–hell, there isn’t even talk of restricting access to guns, even after the Aurora, Colorado, Tayvon Martin, Gabby Giffords, and Virginia Tech shootings.  Gun restrictions very well might have saved lives in all of these instances.  America averages roughly 20 mass shootings a year.  Most just don’t make national news.  In fact, the rate of gun-related deaths in the United States is 8 times higher than in economically similar nations.

Yet it is political anathema to even consider any gun restrictions–even though a vast majority of Americans think more restrictions are needed.  There are even some gun regulations that a majority of NRA members agree with, such as:

1. Requiring criminal background checks on gun owners and gun shop employees. 87 percent of non-NRA gun-owners and 74 percent of NRA gun owners support the former, and 80 percent and 79 percent, respectively, endorse the latter.

2. Prohibiting terrorist watch list members from acquiring guns. Support ranges from 80 percent among non-NRA gun-owners to 71 percent among NRA members.

3. Mandating that gun-owners tell the police when their gun is stolen. 71 percent non-NRA gun-owners support this measure, as do 64 percent of NRA members.

4. Concealed carry permits should only be restricted to individuals who have completed a safety training course and are 21 and older. 84 percent of non-NRA and 74 percent of NRA member gun-owners support the safety training restriction, and the numbers are 74 percent and 63 percent for the age restriction.

5. Concealed carry permits shouldn’t be given to perpetrators of violent misdemeanors or individuals arrested for domestic violence. The NRA/non-NRA gun-owner split on these issues is 81 percent and 75 percent in favor of the violent misdemeanors provision and 78 percent/68 percent in favor of the domestic violence restriction.

–From:  http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/07/24/577091/nra-members-agree-regulating-guns-makes-sense/

A majority–in most case a super-majority–of Americans, a of gun owners, and of NRA members support these reasonable and very commons sense gun controls.  Still, no gun regulations get passed because lawmakers fear the power of the NRA and gun manufacturers.  Apparently the NRA members don’t matter.

Meanwhile Conservative–and establishment–propaganda has many people convinced that the government–the only body with the authority to check the power of these corporations–is an even greater evil.  This has become a self-fulfilling prophecy as our government is now in the hands of corporate machines with no conscience.

We are in dire need of a political revolution that puts power back into the hands of the people.  But with people being being allowed to die in the name of profit, access to opportunity shriveling on the vine, more and more advantages being stacked in favor of the rich, and the voice of the people being increasingly ignored, I’m not sure how much longer the window for political change will stay open.

They right way.

After that, the only option will be violent revolution.  In modern times.  With modern weapons.  No sane person could possibly want that.  But given the human inclination to not act, even on our own behalves, until absolutely  forced, I dread that large scale violence is becoming increasingly inevitable in the long run.

The wrong way.

It is our Constitutional Right to not just be heard, but represented.  Despite all the other problems we face, getting money out of politics–ending the purchase of political office–has to be our first and foremost priority. 

We need a Constitutional Amendment revoking the corporate personhood which allows business interests to use their dollars as “political speech”.  We need strict, draconian campaign finance reform (I would prefer 100%publicly funded elections).  Take away the means of buying politicians.

Forget party affiliation.  Forget campaign promises.

Crush the corruption.

Get money out of politics.  If not for ourselves, for Mackenzie Gonzalez and those like her yet to come.

Free.  Thought.

Cenk Uygur Speaks the Words Written on My Heart

Love him or hate him, nobody goes postal quite like The Young Turks‘ Cenk Uygur.

This time it’s on a subject near and dear to my heart: namely, money in politics, (i.e., the legalized corruption suffocating our political system and our economy.)  As usual, Cenk pulls no punches and plays no favorites.

It brings a tear to mine eye.

And if you take anything away from it, it’s this, “Kick those Goddamn apples down the road!” 😉

For God’s Sake, Get That Kid Out Of There!

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Iggy Azalea.  I hadn’t until a few months ago.  For those that don’t know (out living a life and whatnot), she’s an Australian rapper.  I think that says it all.

I came across this video earlier this year and wrote it off as the mildly amusing drek that it is.  By happenstance I came across it again this morning and a thought struck me: “WTF is that kid doing in the video?!”

Please understand, the video is called Pussy–and it’s not a euphemism.  It is a song about Iggy’s genitalia and the enjoyment she derives from receiving oral pleasure–while strolling through her neighborhood dressed like a prostitute, of course.  Anyone who’s followed my blog knows how big a fan I am of trashy hip hop, especially when performed by white female rappers.  Music of the gods as far as I’m concerned.

My only point of contention is that while extolling the virtues of cunnilingus (oh–and drugs), she’s giving a 7 year-old boy a piggy back ride.

Inappropriate.

First of all, it destroys whatever fantasy she’s trying to sell.

Second, who’s effing kid is that?! Get him off the goddamn set!

Imagine 50 Cent performing Magic Stick while holding hands with a 10 year-old girl.  He’d be jailed immediately.  No trial.  And rightfully so.  This isn’t quite that bad, but it’s like 90% of the way there.

Or maybe it’s just me (it’s not).  What do ya’ll think? (P.S. there’s swears galore in this song.)

Celebrating Stupidity: Wisconsin Recall

The Wisconsin recall debacle answers for us in devastating fashion which power is greater.

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been really busy of late but I had to throw in my two cents on the Wisconsin recall election.

Okay, so 2 pretty significant points come to mind here:

1.  This may very well have been the death knell of our democracy.  Not the end, but the beginning of the end.  Despite being perhaps the most active and focused grass roots campaign in recent memory, with millions of people fully committed to effecting change, the recall movement was crushed under an ocean of money.  Out of state billionaires gave embattled governor Scott Walker $30 million in spending money and he used it to shove challenger and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barret’s nose in the dirt. $30 million. It’s a nearly 10 to 1 spending differential over the state Democrats.  We’re talking about a gubernatorial election in Wisconsin.

Not long ago that was presidential campaign money.  Republican strategists are already calling Wisconsin a model for every other state in the nation.   If the Wisconsin governorship only costs $30 million, it’s possible that every governor’s seat in the country can be bought for less than $1 billion.  Mitt Romney and his corporations are looking to raise nearly $2 billion to buy the presidency.  It’s a fair estimate that the United States federal government–complete with the most powerful military on earth–can be bought entirely and filled with yes men for under $10 billion.  Neat.

The most startling aspect of this story is that 36% of union families voted FOR the union busting governor.  Makes no sense whatsoever.  Union jobs have been one of the key forces behind the difference between labor conditions and wages in the United States and those in Mexico.  36% of Wisconsin’s union-employed voters just chose to narrow that gap in the wrong direction.  It’s like 36% of dolphins voting to drain the Pacific Ocean.

Sure, there were mitigating factors, recall fatigue, unrelated social wedge issues, and Walker’s aforementioned campaign megabucks; but I maintain the results underline the fact that many Americans don’t have the skills or information needed to vote–or think–critically and rationally; and thus are highly susceptible to suggestive messaging such as negative campaign ads…ads bought with corporate PAC money.

We have become so divided as a nation that people will vote against their own self interest because of party and political labels.  For many Americans, unions–much like the federal government, are to be held as eternal and unquestionable evils.

Embattled Wisconsin governor Scot Walker celebrates his crushing victory in the 2012 recall.

Nevermind that Walker blew a gigantic, $3.6 billion hole in the state budget by giving corporations and wealthy Wisconsinites a high-income tax cut.  He then worked to balance that deficit by dramatically cutting education funding, enacting massive public employee layoffs and wage reductions, and stealing $25 million in foreclosure settlement money designated–by the evil federal government–to help families keep their homes.  THEN he went after the collective bargaining rights of the public unions (except police and firefighters…the two unions that supported his campaign).  He admitted, on tape, that he had considered using bat-wielding thugs to disperse the protestors outside the capital and that his goal is to divide and conquer the unions and make Wisconsin a right-to-work state.

For mindless conservative voters all of that chicanery is forgivable so long as a union–the main campaign financiers of the Democratic party–was stopped.

2.  The Democratic party is too weak, stupid, and/or pathetic to help anyone, even themselves.  Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks likens them to the Washington Generals who lose spectacularly–and deliberately–to the Harlem Globetrotters.  The national party did not play cavalry with volunteers, organizational support, or even funding until roughly three weeks before the election.  Unfortunately for them, polls showed that Wisconsin voters had made up their minds months ago, before the Democratic party had even finished its primary.  Whoops-a-daisy.

Barrack Obama lets Wisconsin voters know he’s sorry for all this union busting nonsense and he hopes the recall goes well for them, but he’s gotta bounce.

During the 2008 campaign Barrack Obama proclaimed that if anyone went after collective bargaining he’d put on his walking shoes and march along side them.  When Scott Walker (among others) did go after collective bargaining rights, the White House fell silent as a grave.  I don’t know if he’s playing, as he supporters put it, masterful 3-dimensional political chess, but on its surface, this Wisconsin recall looks like a Titanic failure.  17% of the people who voted to keep Scott Walker in office are also Obama supporters.  His involvement in this election might very well have reversed the outcome. Instead, he and the Democratic National Party left all those people who marched and protested for their rights crushed by the corporatocracy.  Increased voter apathy is as understandable as it is inevitable. In an apparent effort to not offend any part of that 17% crossover, the president may very well have lost half of his supporters on the left.  But that’s today’s Democrat, so weak and spineless it makes one nauseous at the sight of Jell-o.

I don’t know if the Democrats are just playing their part in a rigged game or they’re actually that terrified of what Republicans might say.  Either way, from my perspective, their pussification is complete.  It’s now a 90% certainty that I will not be spending my vote on barrack Obama’s re-election this year.

And I fear there will be no more Teddy Roosevelts, FDRs or JFKs until we get money out of politics.  And these…puwusses out of office.

Evolution Is Not Just A Theory…Look At Obama

President Barrack Obama has “evolved” to conform with the growing majority opinion across the country that LGBT Americans are Constitutionally entitled to the same rights as heterosexual Americans, including marriage.

The president had been inexplicably resistant to the idea of marriage equality even though his administration had otherwise made great strides in promoting LGBT rights.  He always described his position on gay marriage as evolving. (As opposed to waiting for the right time, I guess.  Classic Obama.)

Nevertheless, public opinion was changing and pressure was mounting.  The Democratic party supplied the screws.  Joe Biden tightened them on Meet the Press last Sunday.  Then Amendment 1 passed in North Carolina.  It imposes a state constitutional ban on gay marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.

Apparently it combined with the previous environmental conditions to push President Obama’s evolution past the tipping point.

Obama is hilarious sometimes.  But hey, you take the wins where and when they come.

This flip-flop/concession/self-realization/admittance of an actual belief moves us all one step closer to an America that recognizes the Constitutional rights of all citizens equally and the basic human rights of all humankind.

The Suicide Solution

Tiaina Baul “Junior” Seau, Jr. (January 19, 1969 – May 2, 2012)

Junior Seau’s suicide last week has fortunately opened eyes about player safety and the psychological and emotional perils of the transition from professional football (and sports in general) to civilian life.  There’s talk of mandatory counseling for retiring players and elevated regulation and enforcement of player safety standards.  Hopefully, the Seau family will not change their mind on donating Seau’s brain to medical study.

Junior Seau racking up oodles of sports honors with the Oceanside High School Pirates, USC Trojans, San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots

But more important than any of that, I think the video of Junior Seau’s mother, Luisa, weeping in the immediate aftermath should be shown to every teenage and preteen and at-risk child in America to illustrate the impact suicide has on the victim’s loved ones.

It is one of the most heart-breaking  videos I have seen.  It’s actually uncomfortable to watch.  She begins with a prepared statement that she staggers through surprisingly well given the circumstances; but she is unable to walk away once she’s done.  As she thanks the fans and media gathered outside of Junior’s home for the love and support they showed to her son, the emotion boils over and her pain flies free.  She rambles and wails and pleads to God for answers that in this life may never come.  Why didn’t he tell her he was hurting?  Why didn’t he tell her what he was planning to do?  She begs God to let her son live and take her instead; she doesn’t just mean it, she clearly wishes it with every fiber of her being.  Then laments, immediately realizing–in real time–that it’s too late.

It makes me think about these teenagers who take their own lives because of bullying and shaming because they are gay or “promiscuous” or different in any way.  I think about those kids who are depressed or feel alone in the world.  And I can’t help but wonder if, perhaps, they don’t realize that someone loves them this much…or that someone could.

I think children, especially those inclined toward suicidal thoughts and tendencies, should see the devastation suicide leaves in its wake.  I think they should see the family members, community leaders, friends, and fellow players  all wishing that Seau would have come to them. The fact is the part of the brain that can anticipate consequences is still developing in teenagers–sometimes it’s no great shakes in fully grown adults.  People need to see those consequences firsthand.  At the very least, anyone who would willingly put another person through so much pain would have to be a sadist–I doubt that such is the case in the overwhelming majority of suicides.

Taking one’s own life is so often an act of despair; it’s a last resort.  It’s selfish.  And it forces the victim’s loved ones  to live on with the pain and the sorrow and the guilt of something they may have never known existed until it was too late.

I feel it is incumbent upon us–societally–to ensure that anyone who might possibly consider taking his or her own life–without at least talking to someone about it first–knows firsthand what it costs the people who love them.  If it prevents even one suicide, it’s worth it.

Common: The Believer

Funny to think of the (falsefied) uproar Common’s presence in the White House caused last year (ahh…politics).

The Chicago native has endured–over 21 years–because of his unique and unparallelled ability to straddle the line between poetry and rap.  It’s not hip hop for dummies.  This most clearly evidenced with his inspirational track The Believer off his 2011 album The Dreamer/The Believer.  I find it to be insightful and sometimes moving music that gives me a little something new each time I hear it.

His line, “If he could how would Ernie Barnes paint us/look at the picture, it’s hard not to blame us,” is in reference to Barnes’ custom of painting his subjects with their eyes closed to symbolize our blindness to each others’ humanity.

Likewise, in the verse, “Destiny’s children, survivors, soldiers/in front of buildings their eyes look older,” Common uses the now-defunct R&B group’s name and song titles as a metaphor to describe the saga of young life on the streets.

And lastly, with, “That ain’t the way the Langston Hughes wrote us/soul controllers on the shoulders of Moses and Noah,” Common laments how urban youth, despite possessing biblical potential, are running around with guns; it’s such a shortfall to how poets (and visionaries) such as Langston Hughes described African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance–which was the first real exposure the modern world got to the potential contribution blacks could make to culture and thought.

I love stuff like that. 🙂

Anyhow…

P.S.  The lyrics are included below.

– John legend – Hook –
I believe in the light that shines and will never die
Oh I believe the fire burns, we stay alive
They will talk about us
Like they talked about the kings before us
They will talk about us

– Common – Verse 1 –
These are the words of a believer, achiever, leader of the globe
Feeding souls of those in need
I bleed the blood of the struggle
Walking over troubled puddles
Hustles in my chest, no hustle no progress
Extremities of life and it’s process
Birth of a son, death of another
With love I caress both mothers
And tell ‘em, who’s in control is the One that’s above us
I walk where money talks and love stutters
Body language of a nation going through changes
The young become dangerous, pain gets spent into anger
Anger gets sent through the chamber
It’s tough when your own look like strangers
We are the sons of gangsters and stone rangers
If he could how would Ernie Barnes paint us?
Look at the picture, hard not to blame us
But time forgives, in the Chi where the young die often
Do they end up in a coffin because we haven’t taught them?
Is it what we talking? We really ain’t walking
Dues hustlers pay, how much did it cost ‘em?
Find myself on the same corner that we lost ’em
Real talking, in their ear like a Walkman
Thoughts spin around the corner to the World
When I see them, I see my baby girl
Believe!

– Hook –

– Verse 2 –
The lord lives among us
The young ‘uns hunger becomes a means to get it
By any means necessary, under pressure
Children feeling lesser, with the steel upon the dresser
Kill-at-will aggressors, Destiny’s children
Survivors, soldiers, in front of buildings their eyes look older
Hard to see blessings in a violent culture
Face against weapons, sirens, holsters
That ain’t the way that Langston Hughes wrote us
Soul controllers on the shoulders of Moses and Noah
We go from being Precious to Oprah
Cultivated to overcome ever since we came over-seas (seize)
The day and the way that you can see we determined
Solar keeps burning, shorties know to keep learning
Lessons in our life, but life stripes that we earning
Took Gramp’s advice that Christ is returning
Like a thief in the night, I write for beacons of light
For those of us in dark alleys and parched valleys
Street kids spark rallies of the conscience conquerors of a contest
That seems beyond us, even through the unseen, I know that God watches
From one King’s dream he was able to Barack us
The prophets, nothing can stop us
Believe!

– Hook-

[John legend]                                                                                                     I know I know I know our dreams won’t turn to dust
They will talk about us
I know I know I know our dreams won’t turn to dust
They will talk about us
I know I know I know our dreams won’t turn to dust
They will talk about us

Celebrating Stupidity in America: The Cold Hard Facts

Is the Moonlite Bunny Ranch a breeding ground for Satan's acolytes or just a rational solution to a very real social problem?

Prostitution should be legal.

In my opinion, what two consenting adults privately agree to is their own business.  I don’t see a whole lot of difference between prostitution and meeting some random person at a club, throwing a hundred bucks worth of food and alcohol into them,  and dragging them back to the crib for a hook-up.  And it’s no different at all from pornography–save for a camera and some contortion.

This is a point I made during a classroom discussion on the topic a while back.  It won no new adherents.

Of course, others in the discussion had moral objections, which I kind of understand.  The problem was, from a rational standpoint, the students opposed to legalizing prostitution seemed incapable of incorporating new information into their schema.

This isn't the only way to legalize prostitution.

They were stuck on the idea that this would legalize child prostitution and sex slavery.  Some argued, independent of facts, that it would create a viral epidemic.  No matter how many times we argued that we were only talking about consenting adults, or that statistics demonstrated comparatively lower STD rates, that it reduced the necessity for pimps, and that prostitution was already going on without legal protections or regulations, they persistently displayed no ability whatsoever to understand anything other than what they already believed.

Needless to say, it was not an intellectually stimulating debate.   One side was trying to make factually accurate points; the other side simply argued their feelings and disregarded anything contradictory.  (BTW,  fellow blogger Warm Southern Breeze has a great post on the topic of willful ignorance)

It was a little frustrating (but still kinda fun).

I’ve since come to the–seemingly–narcissistic realization that half the class was…well..stupid.  At the very least they were ignorant and bad at thinking critically.  (Actually, it may have been more than half the class because not everyone on our side of the issue was making their case factually and they certainly weren’t being challenged in that arena by the other side.)

So, roughly half of the students in an NCA accredited college class proved themselves incapable of knowledge integration.  America’s shameless celebration of stupidity, currently in the formative stages of  it’s 2nd generational run, was at work before my very eyes.

The powers that be have exalted ignorance to the point of a cultural virtue with the insidious aim of manipulating uninformed consumers and voting blocks against their own best interests.  And we’ve bought into it hook, line, and sinker.  Ask any Republican who makes less than $250,000 a year.  Ask any civil rights advocate who supports Barack Obama.

But this is not a political issue; it’s an American issue.  With almost unlimited information at our fingertips we’re less informed now than ever.  This is partly due to propaganda and misinformation campaigns by partisan groups (Hiya, Fox News!) but it’s also due to our inability to evaluate data.

This is the information age.  We need to start acting like it.  Information is as powerful a tool/weapon as there is.  Yet we seem unable to make proper use of it.  (Okay, saying “we” is over-generalizing.  Not all Americans are ignorant, but way, way, waaayy too many of us are.  It’s the atrophial majority.)

This is not to say that most people are incapable of analytical thought; but critical thinking is a skill that must be honed.  And this is not done by parroting political talking points or long stretches of “vegging out”.  It requires the continual development of skills in data-collection, evaluation, moral prioritizing, skepticism, and reasoning.  Pragmatism plays a part, but the key ingredient is humility, the ability to acknowledge that you may be wrong, understand when you are, and accept it–which ain’t easy.  The rest is just making sure your opinion doesn’t get in the way of the truth.

Politically, our number one priority is getting money out of politics.  Socially, it’s to get smarter–better informed and better at analysis and assimilation.

Until we do both, we will not be able to deal with the issues we face.  We’re just trying to climb to great heights with no limbs.

Oh, and here’s Bill Maher with a little more context:

And for the punishment gluttons, more American ignorance (remember, it’s not about what you don’t know, it’s about being unwilling to learn):

From http:  Alternet.org

  • Less than 50% of Americans know that Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
  • Going into the First Gulf War, just 15% could identify Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense.
  • In 2007, in the fifth year of the Iraq War, only 21% could name the secretary of defense, Robert Gates.
  • Most Americans cannot name their own member of Congress or their senators (You can find out here).
  • How many people know that the Social Security is running a surplus? And that this surplus — some $150 billion a year — is actually quite substantial, even by Washington standards? And how many know that the system has been in surplus since 1983?  During all the years the surpluses were building, the Democrats in Congress pretended the money was theirs to be spent, as if it were the same as all the other tax dollars collected by the government. And spend it they did, whenever they had the chance, with no hint that they were perhaps disbursing funds that actually should be held in reserve for later use.

From the Daily Beast:

  • A Jan. 25 CNN poll, meanwhile, discovered that even though 71 percent of voters want smaller government, vast majorities oppose cuts to Medicare (81 percent), Social Security (78 percent), and Medicaid (70 percent). Instead, they prefer to slash waste—a category that, in their fantasy world, seems to include 50 percent of spending, according to a 2009 Gallup poll.

From 2006 Roper Poll conducted for National Geographic:

  • One-third of respondents couldn’t pinpoint Louisiana on a map.
  •  48 percent were unable to locate Mississippi.
  • Less than 30% think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14% believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.
  • 60% could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle east.
  • While the outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, 47% could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
  • 75% were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
  • Nearly 75% incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language (Spanish).
  • 30% thought the most heavily fortified border in the world was between the United States and Mexico (It’s actually the border between North and South Korea).

I was gonna keep going, but now I’m depressed.  The good news is that we can always get better at learning–and thinking.  We just have to put in the time and effort.