In this country, a long tradition exists of individuals who have refused to perform a particular duty or task, citing their religious beliefs as justification. The very definition of Civil Disobedience, of course, depends on the person, the situation, and how it is applied. The latest incident has opened up a discussion which has never really subsided, only dipped underneath the radar from time to time. In this circumstance, a Texas bus driver, who is also an ordained conservative Christian minister, claims that he was fired for not taking a women to Planned Parenthood. His decision is in the same vein as those of pharmacists who, stating moral reasons, will not dispense the morning-after pill to women who request it.
Jun 01 2010
About America of the past:
It could be cruel and unjust if you were poor, gay, a woman, or an immigrant, but there was hope it could be better. It was a country I loved and honored. It paid its workers wages envied around the world. It made sure these workers, thanks to labor unions and champions of the working class in the Democratic Party and the press, had health benefits and pensions….It honored basic democratic values and held in regard the rule of law, including international law, and respect for human rights.
The country I live in today uses the same civic, patriotic, and historical language to describe itself, the same symbols and iconography, the same national myths, but only the shell remains. The America we celebrate is an illusion. America, the country of my birth, the country that formed and shaped me, the country of my father, my father’s father, and his father’s father, stretching back to the generations of my family that were here for the country’s founding, is so diminished as to be unrecognizable.
I use this poignant observation because it has a deep emotional resonance. Unlike me, Hedges has deep roots in this country. His life is far more deeply shaped by America than mine could ever be. I can tell when I see him on videos and hear him interviewed how much he is in pain. His last book is angry and bitter as he looks around him without flinching. When you’ve seen a lot of death–you don’t flinch so much. Once you decide to see things squarely, you can’t stop just because the thought of seeing your country being flushed down the toilet by fucking criminals haunts you. Worse, for Hedges (and me) is to see people who call themselves Americans degrade into a cowardly group of junkies living in fantasies.
May 15 2010
While it is important to point out the inconsistencies and lies that are the hallmark of most of our public institutions we also need to start with some firm foundations to future essays and comments. I feel one of the first things we need to face is that the situation we face today is no longer a political struggle between conservatives and liberals or even reactionaries and progressives. As has been brought out by several people here at DD the struggle is between criminal entities (most large corporations, big banks, traditional organized crime, the military (yes I believe much though not all of the military has become a criminal enterprise), the covert ops part of the intel agencies, the MSM (the worst of the lot), the federal government and many state and local governments. No, it is not a matter of “incompetence” that has brought us to this situation but of what I consider criminal behavior.
There are two aspects of criminal behavior. The first, obviously, is the breaking of laws on the books–well, in this country with more laws (I’m sure) than any entity that has ever existed, it is pretty easy for anyone to break the law but still even if you look at major statutes the fact is that major corporations and the elites escape the law while the poor do not. The Federal government now no longer even pretends to follow the law, for example, the Geneva Conventions and protocols are routinely ignored despite the fact that they are the law. Of course, laws against fraud were ignored during and after the financial crisis. Disappearance of trillions from DOD elicited no action and no response from the media, criminal fraud by contractors in Iraq almost completely ignored by any agencies and, generally, underreported in the MSM. The list can go on and on and this blog has at one time or another reported on nearly all of them. These aren’t arguments over policy but clear criminality that, in a healthy society, would have been prosecuted. This criminality and corruption has rapidly increased in recent years.
The second aspect of criminal behavior I would like to describe as follows:
The deliberate attempt by private interests to undermine public welfare, public spaces, public health and the future of the species for financial gain.
This aspect of criminality is far worse than simply breaking particular laws. It is about the deliberate destruction of society and government itself. I suggest to you that this has been the conscious and deliberate intention of most (not all) of the ruling elite for the past few decades but particularly since the stolen election of 2000. I believe their intention was then and is now the looting of the entire world and the destruction of American society and any other society for the purpose of instituting a New World Order based on a global imperial system on the macro-level and various modes of neofeudal social arrangements at the local level with most of the population either expendable or in a state of serfdom. This system is not in place yet and can be stopped but this is the agenda of most of the power players.
As has been made abundantly clear on this blog, the Obama administration is only cosmetically different than the previous administration. The differences are largely cultural rather than political. We can mostly agree here that we are no longer fooled by the Kabuki of Obama and his allies in Congress. Obama simply is beside the point.
Mar 11 2010
Michael Walzer’s piece entitled “Missing the Movement” is so relevant and smartly written that I felt inclined to read it through four times before beginning to thinking about formulating an adequate response that would do it justice. I am overjoyed to find someone who has managed to put forth a strong, sound hypothesis as to why recent reform efforts tied to a resurgent liberalism have been so limited while setting out cogently what we ourselves ought to do to fix the problem. Having identified what went wrong, let us now proceed to take on the hard work and soul searching necessary to get past it. For as it is written, “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.”
Liberalism is the American version of social democracy, but it lacks a strong working-class base, party discipline, and ideological self-consciousness. None of these are in the offing, but we need to be aware of what we are missing, and we need to begin at least the intellectual work of making up for it. European social democrats are on the defensive right now, but they have a lot to defend. Liberals here are in catch-up mode, and not doing all that well. We know more or less what we have to do, but we haven’t managed to give the American people a brightly colored picture of the country we would like to create. There is a lot of wonkishness on the liberal left, among American social democrats, but not much inspiration. We haven’t found the words and images that set people marching. As an old leftist, I can talk (endlessly) about citizenship, equality, solidarity, and our responsibility to future generations, but someone much younger than I am has to put all this in a language that resonates with young Americans-and describe a “city upon a hill” that may or may not be the same hill that I have been climbing all these years.
It is this section in particular which resonates most strongly with me. I notice this kind of stultifying dullness among those who have, for reasons unknown, exchanged wonkery for truly impassioned discourse and inspirational rhetoric. The result produced is robotic and bloodless, for one. For another, it’s downright Pharisaical. In this circumstance, Dictionary.com defines Pharisaical as “practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit.” I have noted, sometimes with anger, sometimes with frustration, never with satisfaction, that this is true not just in gatherings of religious liberals, but also quite evident in multiple settings and causes comprised of vocally secular liberals. Going through the motions without understanding the passion will never serve anyone’s cause well and indeed, it is partially why we find ourselves in the mess in which we are now. Layering laws upon laws, formalities upon formalities, and procedures upon procedures might seem to be helpful upon first glance, but they end up separating ourselves from each other, not pulling us together.
Mar 08 2010
Over the past several months I’ve continued to document my problems with our broken health care system, particularly focusing on the options provided by those who are either unemployed, disabled, or who work low-wage jobs in which their employer does not provide the option of coverage. My hope upon doing so is that more people will recognize the depths of the problem beyond just the soundbytes, the smears, and the distortions. I aim to record the truth, not the fear-based rhetoric that many accept as God’s honest truth. What I have discovered is that the problem goes much deeper than a position statement and only modestly resembles the demonizing propaganda disseminated by those who would kill reform altogether. The real issues are just as troublesome, though they are far more ordinary and less inclined to high drama.
Today’s latest hassle involves a matter of incorrect bill coding. An insurance claim for lab work was not processed properly, so I opened the mailbox Saturday to find an eye-opening bill for a mere $1,323. To say that I couldn’t exactly pay it in full would be an understatement. Along with the bill was an itemized statement listing the cost of the twelve separate tests that were run. Those who have a chronic illness of their own recognize that upon seeing a new specialist or doctor, he or she will often order several lab profiles at first as a means of eliminating other extenuating circumstances that might complicate the treatment of a primary diagnosis. Sensible enough, except that many these tests are very expensive. A test for Hepatitis, for example, cost $366, and a full drug screen cost $217. Those with excellent insurance never blink an eye about the prohibitive cost, of course, because for them it is almost always covered in full.
For those with sub-standard or nonexistent coverage, however, the situation is quite different. As I have mentioned before, I have bipolar disorder, and as such take Lithium to stabilize my moods. Lithium is a notoriously difficult drug to regulate because the most minor changes in environment or other seemingly innocuous changes will cause the levels in the bloodstream to vary considerably over time. There is no other way to accurately measure its concentration in the bloodstream except through drawing blood and over the years I have gotten used to it, as best as one can under the circumstances. Still, I report with much frustration that even a simple Lithium serum level costs $64 without insurance. Someone who also has bipolar and is living in poverty could not easily afford to spend this kind of money and would likely choose to either go off his/her medication altogether, or stay on the meds and go months without having a lab profile, both of which are extremely dangerous options.
Jan 26 2010
I recently came across, through a YouTube video, a rather unique French public service announcement. It encouraged heterosexual men to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS by using a condom before engaging in sexual contact. Predictable enough subject for a PSA, one might think, but the video’s concept was both amusing and novel. While the American mind would likely appreciate the humor, it would also deem it too graphic to be aired on network television and probably cable as well. American liberalism has, I realize, a long standing Francophone tradition, just as American conservative thought has an equally lengthy history of criticizing it, so my point is not to cater directly to either camp. Somewhere between the two is something close to the truth and as such I seek to find it.
To get to my point, in France, sex is everywhere, and yet attitudes towards sexuality in one’s personal life are often more traditional than in the United States. While on the continent, one often encounters nudity on billboards, street signs, and shop windows while out and about, but the attitude of most residents is that the body is a natural entity, as are public depictions of it without the benefit of clothes to disguise the objectionable parts. To us, of course, the only truly socially acceptable manner of presentation regarding the unveiled human body is in the art gallery and even then some people have been known to register their visible discomfort. Furthermore, we deem nudity or frank depictions of nudity in any form to often only be granted as a privilege based on reaching a certain age and with it some perceived degree of maturity, believing that children and minors ought not to be exposed to its supposedly corrupting influences until the age where they can make an informed decision whether or not to partake. Put that way, it sounds almost as though nudity is some health hazard, like smoking or consuming too much alcohol. Still, for all the energy we expend spinning out cautionary tales and guilt-laden commandments, one would think we ought to expect more for our efforts.
Dec 16 2009
Julia Angwin’s column entitled How Facebook is Making Friending Obsolete provides a revealing look into the ways that supposedly free services like Facebook and Twitter are mining the data of unsuspecting users for profit. The tactic is unethical at best, but it highlights just how desperate some companies are to turn a profit. The idea of monthly or yearly subscriptions, which were the bread and butter of old media cannot be relied on in this medium because online users refuse to pay them and then gravitate to the latest platform that can be used for free™. As for my own personal leanings, any technology that subverts the established system and forces it out of its comfort zone is worthy of praise in my book, but I suppose this degree of perfidy and with it monetary gain ought to be expected under the circumstances. The basic idea of capitalism is built on the idea of change and the next big thing, but this, of course, threatens the establishment that doesn’t like having to think outside of its cozy comfort zone.
Angwin sets up her column by saying,
Friending wasn’t used as a verb until about five years ago, when social networks such as Friendster, MySpace and Facebook burst onto the scene.
Suddenly, our friends were something even better – an audience. If blogging felt like shouting into the void, posting updates on a social network felt more like an intimate conversation among friends at a pub.
That degree of false intimacy, however, proved to have consequences. It lulled many into an imagined sense of security that could be broached by ten mouse clicks or less. Potentially embarrassing personal details could be accessed easily by complete strangers, and when these users complained and very publicly cried foul, the media picked up on it by running stories and op-eds that adopted the tone of a finger-waggling parent. Apparently it deemed that the best way to keep from oversharing personal details online was a good hearty dose of stern lecturing and abject moralizing. To be sure, irresponsible behavior led to the establishment of a thousand or so online-based drama queens and flame wars. That which had been an interesting concept in drawing people together began to show some serious flaws.
Or, as Benjamin Franklin put it,
Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
I never recognized how repressive a culture of which we are all a part until I incorporated the internet into my daily routine. The guise of anonymity that cyberspace provides gives people the opportunity for people to come clean with a million different, but highly related fears, phobias, neuroses, and insecurities as though we were all members of a giant support group. Unlike some, I don’t get much pleasure out of observing the scars of other people, no matter how selfishly rendered they may be. I pity those who feel that the only way they can truly be honest with themselves and in so doing brave vulnerability and sincerity is when among those who they cannot see, hear, or speak to face to face. And yet, each of us is like that to some degree.
Regarding keeping ourselves in check a bit, I don’t mean it in a kind of Puritanical repressive sense, but rather that the immediate gratification and instant attention the internet provides us caters to a sense of narcissism and me-centered discourse. If intimacy with friends is what we were seeking, the Wild West freedom provided by the technology makes a true circle of trust and discretion nearly impossible. One can only work within the limitations of the medium itself. Whatever ends up being broadcast online usually can be discovered with enough searching.
When I was younger, I volunteered information in cyberspace that hindsight allows me to recognize that I probably should have been a bit more discerning. But again, I was a teenager then, and every adolescent is half child, half adult, and all insecure. I am fortunate I had the internet at that formative time in my life because I met other people my own age going through the same things I was and I had a shared sense of solace there. Had I been born even five years earlier, I would not have had that outlet and would have suffered mightily in its absence.
Returning to the larger point, the true lesson here is that major sectors of our capitalist wilderness are desperately trying to find ways to make money and are doing so by methods that openly violate our trust and our sense of security. I suppose I could jump up and down, screaming about constitutional statutes and right to privacy being broached, shortly after contacting the ACLU, but I doubt it would do much in the way of good. The recession merely exacerbated trends that had been slowly, steadily progressing of their own accord. That certain companies would have the testicular fortitude to so sneakily use our own information and thoughts for their gain is damning enough, but provided we remain complicit and enabling in it, more companies will attempt similar tactics.
Any system based on profit will be adaptive and find a way to use our humanity against us. In an age where we are lonely, desirous of companionship, isolated by distance, and hoping to find a means to be a part of something larger than ourselves, Facebook arrived to fill the void. It captured the Zeitgeist, for better or for worse, and now it is merely the latest manipulator for profit. I am decidedly not a purist in this regard and though I will certainly take care to make sure I don’t resort to blarf on the page, neither will I take stock that someday social networking will replace what face-to-face personal contact ought to provide.
It is a testament to the fact that judge not, lest ye be judged is probably the moral teaching we disregard the most in this day. That we judge ourselves more harshly than any troll or disapproving person ever could gets down to the root cause of the matter. These are “guilty before proven innocent” times. These are Nancy Grace days. If we wish to change them, learning to forgive ourselves for being imperfect might be a good place to begin. Embracing this unfair, didactic standard forces us to feel as though jumping through hoops and adhering to an obstacle course of needlessly complex, self-appointed guidelines is the key to living a satisfying life. Micromanaging every aspect of who we are is the quickest road to misery I’ve ever seen. We have unfortunately adopted a belief in the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law.
Intentionally following the letter of the law but not the spirit may be accomplished through exploiting technicalities, loopholes, and ambiguous language. Following the letter of the law but not the spirit is also a tactic used by oppressive governments.
This is something, quite predictably, with which we have been struggling for a very long time.
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard that, he said to them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor; those who are sick do. I’ve come to call sinners, not people who think they have God’s approval.”
But neither do we need to appear self-righteous in talking about self-righteous, egocentric behavior. That is deepest irony and part of this same judge-addicted culture.
Twitter’s updates were also easily searchable on the Web, forcing users to be somewhat thoughtful about their posts. The intimate conversation became a talent show, a challenge to prove your intellectual prowess in 140 characters or less.
People are competitive in nature. I take it Angwin finds this sort of conduct distasteful. I myself have used my Twitter posts to underscore the larger points I was mulling over at the time, often while in the process of constructing my posts, but the point was never to be adored or to win a fan base. Often I felt a compulsion to put down something substantive to counterbalance the vast amount of trite banter that makes its way onto status updates. Along these same lines, I notice that many people seem to make it a challenge to see how many friends they can achieve on Facebook, no matter whether they actually have ever met in person or not. Life may be a talent show, but no one forces one to sign up for a space, either.
Angwin concludes her column, vowing,
…I will also remove the vestiges of my private life from Facebook and make sure I never post anything that I wouldn’t want my parents, employer, next-door neighbor or future employer to see. You’d be smart to do the same.
We’ll need to treat this increasingly public version of Facebook with the same hard-headedness that we treat Twitter: as a place to broadcast, but not a place for vulnerability. A place to carefully calibrate, sanitize and bowdlerize our words for every possible audience, now and forever. Not a place for intimacy with friends.
While I agree with the author’s conclusion, I also add that being careful about that what we post in a public forum might not be a bad habit to get into, after all. Her frustration with Facebook is quite palpable, but I’m not sure cutting off our nose to spite our face is a good solution. Nor am I completely certain that there was ever some golden age where vulnerability on any online platform could be safely protected and manipulation of intimacy did not exist. Secrets have a way of spilling out, even among friends, and even in real life.
Nothing can be covered up forever and the paradoxical reality about success and increased exposure is that the larger a profile a person has, the more public is his or her life. When I was growing up, my mother frequently invoked the old saying that just because you have dirty laundry doesn’t mean you ought to put it out on the front porch for all to see. I’ve always disagreed with the statement and what it implies, because I think being vulnerable need not be purely irresponsible. It’s a matter of degree and it’s a matter of balance.
The internet has catered to a fickle side of who we are. MySpace was once the end-all, be-all of social networking sites, and now it has given way to Facebook. Twitter, not to be forgotten, has muscled its way into the public consciousness. Anyone designing a social media network should keep in mind that success is ephemeral in the internet age and that one needs only look back roughly a decade to see all of the companies, platforms, programs and their ilk that have fallen out of public favor. We are no longer beholden to brand loyalty, which is probably what separates Baby Boomers from their children regarding the strongest sense of disconnect.
Today Facebook, tomorrow something else. Whatever comes afterward will probably have to be monitored, too, but my belief in our economic system was that so long as we cling to Adam Smith’s invention, we will have to be our own regulators, but neither does this mean that all of our efforts should be devoted to plugging the dam. I have no doubt that if we adopted socialism wholesale we’d need to be mindful of its shortcomings as well, but neither should we be utterly consumed with finding fault. Life is too short.
Nov 10 2009
There has been a great wailing and gnashing of teeth over the past day or so as those who follow the healthcare debate react to the Stupak/Some Creepy Republican Guy Amendment.
The Amendment, which is apparently intended to respond to conservative Democrats’ concerns that too many women were voting for the Party in recent elections, was attached to the House’s version of healthcare reform legislation that was voted out of the House this weekend.
The goal is to limit women’s access to reproductive medicine services, particularly abortions; this based on the concept that citizens of good conscience shouldn’t have their tax dollars used to fund activities they find morally repugnant.
At first blush, I was on the mild end of the wailing and gnashing spectrum myself…but having taken a day to mull the thing over, I’m starting to think that maybe we should take a look at the thinking behind this…and I’m also starting to think that, properly applied, Stupak’s logic deserves a more important place in our own vision of how a progressive government might work.
It’s Political Judo Day today, Gentle Reader, and by the time we’re done here it’s entirely possible that you’ll see Stupak’s logic in a whole new light.
Oct 20 2009
Taking the time to contemplate the vast amount of right-wing smears that have been either facilitated, advanced, or concocted by conservatives over the past several months is an overwhelming task. Within each of these petty, partisan, often nonsensical parries and thrusts I am reminded again of the excesses of the Pharisees. Wishing to have everything on their own terms and in accordance with every selfish demand, modern day Pharisees are found not merely in the opposition party, but regrettably sometimes among our own ranks, particularly in the form of people who fail to neither understand nor respect the vast amount of indignation felt when crucial reform legislation is watered down or vaguely outlined due to nothing more than political expediency and self-preservation. If this sort of thing was limited to politicians, it might be more easily challenged, but one sees it everywhere. Most recently, those well-connected business types who long ago lost their souls in selling the whole world are also guilty as charged.
Oct 14 2009
The Parables of Jesus were spoken in symbolic language which lends them to a variety of different, though often interrelated interpretations. Indeed, the very structure of the words which form them make any one sole meaning impossible. It is this fact in particular that has made me skeptical of any church or any faith which stakes a claim to the “real” way. Biblical scholarship has revealed nuance and even irony in the original text itself, both of which must be taken into account before forming any one-sided reading. Jesus often spoke indirectly to avoid persecution by both Roman and Jewish authorities, but beyond the obvious, I have always seen the Parables much as I would an excellent work of poetry, one which provides a new, helpful, before unseen resonance with every subsequent reading. The intrinsic thread remains constant, but new permutations arise as I age and depending on what frame of mind I am in at that particular juncture in my life, I always glean something brand new.
When we talk about our own complicity in a system where those at the top dictate the course of action for those subservient to them, I return to the Parable of the Talents. In this day and age where we often believe that our own power, income, and sphere of influence owes its existence to making compromises with unethical major players, this Parable address our messy moral dilemmas. Here, the version in the Gospel of Matthew, which is cited most frequently.
Oct 01 2009
Roger Simon in The Politico writes today about the extradition drama surrounding the arrest of director Roman Polanski. Simon’s greater point is, of course, that those who are blessed with great talent are not always those who are blessed with the greatest moral fiber. When a person who has achieved great fame for high artistic achievement gets in trouble, he or she suddenly finds himself or herself with a multitude of apologists and sycophantic admirers. And yet, I would be remiss if I neglected to add that until fame is achieved, however, society and the creative class views any unknown artist as merely another odd bird either unable or unwilling to conform and certainly worthy of no one’s pity.
Beyond a simple argument regarding the nature of cult of celebrity or the brutality of childhood sexual abuse, Polanski’s case concerns our own yearnings for attention and desire and how quickly we sell into the lies and cheap attention of celebrity. Not only that, this contentious issue promises great appeal to those wishing to use it to pad their own resumes, insert another feather into the cap, or use the topic as a bargaining chip to strengthen a hand at the diplomatic table. We have been contemplating one side of the issue, but I’d like to know more than the superficial. These instances where art and law intersect are much more interesting.
To begin, a friend of mine, then enrolled in art school, expressed constant frustration to me and to anyone who would listen that the professors encouraged a high degree of eccentricity in each student, feeling that being weird for weird’s sake was a conditioned and necessary virtue. The famous Irish wit Oscar Wilde, himself of no small ego and put on trial for his part in a sex scandal, noted that “no great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did he would cease to be an artist.” Most of these students needed no encouragement in this area but I suppose the implication was that in a world where “starving artist” was a label frequently pinned to even the most talented at the craft, one needed to do something to stand out. Those who adhere to this philosophy never require much in the way of introduction. We know some of them by their first name alone.
Simon’s column makes light of several less than stellar human beings who were championed by Hollywood, writers, actors, and other well-connected individuals for their talents but were dismal failures regarding ethical and legal conduct. One could, I suppose, also add Charles Manson to the list, as several members of The Beach Boys believed him to have genuine musical skills and even were willing to pay for demo sessions to record his ramblings onto magnetic tape. If one surveys poets, playwrights, recording artists, composers, sculptures, painters, and the like one can easily find example after example of misanthropic, borderline criminal behavior. The Beat Poets, for example, were a rowdy bunch of social defectives and proud hell-raisers. I believe there to be at least two reasons for this: the prevalence of mental illness is high among the creative and those who perceive of the world around them so acutely and with such unyielding, high sensitivity have a tendency to be unable to know how to guard themselves properly against an unceasing stream of emotion. Some manage to find healthy ways to control and channel this simultaneous blessing and curse and some do not.
My point in all this is neither to defend nor to accuse Polanski for his actions. While I agree that his directorial work has frequently been genius, I don’t feel much of a compulsion to let that fact whitewash the serious crime which he himself has admitted to taking a starring role. The morality of the matter has already been talked to death by voices better connected and more eloquent than mine. I am, however, much more interested in the reasons WHY this matter has come to trial now, after the passage of thirty years. What are the motives this time behind bringing the French/Polish director back to the United States to serve out his sentence? Who truly seeks to gain from this? Whose reputation will be padded by having brought Polanski to justice? Who are the major players, what are their names, and what is their compulsion to prosecute now?
The coverage thus far has been predicated on a very small focus of what could be an enormous matter. That we have not yet been provided with the names of those driving extradition proceedings is telling and likely deliberate. Aside from the diplomatic wrangling between France and United States, the politics and the ulterior motives of this drama have been obscured and unrevealed. That the media seems content to let us talk to death one sole facet amongst ourselves and amongst itself is quite interesting. This either means they have nothing further to go on themselves or are being instructed to not give light to a detailed, complex analysis of the case. When matters of International Law are concerned, complications frequently arise and specific issues remain resolutely thorny. It could also be that precise details of this case will be rolled out one by one over the coming weeks, at which point the media will hash them out to exhaustion, only to be presented latest batch of compelling information.
I myself have grown tired of debating morality as regards Roman Polanski. Polanski’s offense has highlighted how eager we are to forgive significant offenses in our heroes, especially those who have found their way into that small, elite club we call celebrity. I honestly understand those in that tight circle who defends him, because their motives are a result of both self-preservation and sympathy. They’re aware of the obscene pressure of living in a fishbowl and having any shred of privacy destroyed by the effects of a society desperate to poke into their personal business. They understand how easy it is to break down, resort to drug addiction, or come completely unglued under the pressure of the omnipresent white hot spotlight. Moreover, they know how easily reputations can be destroyed by spurious rumors and allegations of misdeed. Even so, they also know that the “Get Out of Jail Free” card often extended to those who have the financial means loses its potency whenever any celebrity is sent to prison, no matter how open and shut the case may be. Viewpoints such as these require us to rethink the idea of fame and acknowledge its impact upon our society and we ourselves.
Sep 13 2009
The other day Duke1676 posted a diary at Daily Kos entitled Words Do Matter Mr. Obama.
See, here’s the thing. The advocates for progressive immigration reform have reached a big obstacle when it comes to moving forward on this issue — the progressive activists and the Democratic Party itself. The challenge is to change the dialogue so that progressive bloggers don’t repeat and feed the same old right-wing memes on the issue — the same old ways that we saw during the “debate” over the Iraq War, over FISA, over the notion that because Democrats are supposedly seen as “weak on security” they have to move far to the right in order to convince the average American otherwise.
The most recent example of this as described in Duke’s diary, is that during President Obama’s speech, he made a point of using the term “illegal immigrant” as a political choice when talking about how undocumented workers will not be covered under healthcare reform legislation.
Yeah, it’s just a word, isn’t it, why get all bent out of shape about it?