October 8, 2011
Those of you with facebook accounts have no doubt seen one or the other, possibly even both, of the above and below images (the one below had the caption Dare to be Stupid, Click LIKE & SHARE if people calling for “zero taxes” shouldn’t be using public streets and sidewalks .
The former is an Occupy Wall Street protest. I think there is a bit of validity in the picture in the sense that while government has a monopoly on force, you are allowed to avoid using the products of corporations you don’t approve of in order to vote with your wallet to change their policy. Even so, the Occupy Wall Street message, while vague, seems to be one directed at general wealth disparity of management, rather than opposition to any given company or product.
The latter is a Tea Party protest, with the implication that people shouldn’t be allowed to protest their government in public. These people paid for the things around them, regardless of whether they wanted to. While signs like “CUT TAXES NOT DEFENSE” are hard to defend in our current budget, the post is centered more on the validity of protesting, rather than the flawed message. The first Amendment clearly gives them the right to assemble and redress their grievances, and unlike OWS, they are on public property rather than private.
Both of these posts have tens of thousands of likes and shares. They are unhelpful. They lack substance. They serve only to increase partisan divides through snarky peer pressure.
These two political movements should be embracing each other. They both find their main opposition not in each other, but in the status quo. Ron Paul recently made the point that compromise is when you give up half of your beliefs. He said we need to be finding common ground with others issue by issue, rather than picking one of the two parties and sticking with it blindly. What do they agree on? That those in power are abusing it, that there is too much money in politics, and that the system is broken beyond the point where working within the established system will fix it.
They are both decentralized movements, which is both a strength and a weakness. Those in power (the combination of the two parties and their joint corporate masters) are ridiculing both sides on the airwaves. Photos like those above are shown as if they represent the views of the entire movement. On the other hand, without centralized structure, they are able to pull together a group of people who don’t agree on everything, without forcing any of them to compromise their beliefs. They are a hydra, much like many of the decentralized militant groups around the world. It’s hard to kill something that has no vital organs. And for each, the existence of the other alleviates that which has plagued every third party that has tried to spring up: the kingmaker excuses. If only one of these movements were to exist, the main party on the other side of the spectrum would get an easy win due to the split vote. If they are both strong, the two party system is out of excuses.
July 3, 2011
I haven’t spoken much about WikiLeaks, but I’m glad that such organizations exist to shine some sunlight on the back-room dealing of those in power. It’s a sad day when the truth is a crime.
Our secrets are a weakness, not our power. Who can be blackmailed, if they have no secrets? Who embezzles money in the light of day? If torture is humane and effective, then why don’t we do it publicly? What investor invests in a market they know is overvalued?
If the state of our Union is strong, don’t tell us it is strong, show us it is strong. Open the books. Knowing that the data they see is the truth will brink confidence in our Dollar and our nation, not chase it away. Besides, if you don’t open the books, Assange will do it for you.
June 21, 2009
Encyclopedias define religious discrimination as ‘valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe.‘ That seems like a pretty fair and broad definition, but I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding out there as to what this means.
Most claims of religious discrimination are claims of violation of the first amendment statement that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. I think the first thing that is important to understand here is that the government doesn’t give us our rights, it just hasn’t managed to take all of them away yet. The Constitution isn’t a document granting us rights, it’s a document restricting the actions of government. The thing to note here is that it isn’t the job of Congress to prevent discrimination, but rather to not cause it.
Claims of religious discrimination range from legitimate to ridiculous, and resolving them is difficult in the sense that the ones seemingly being wronged are often the ones asking for the discrimination. Some examples that are already happening:
An Orthodox Jewish couple in Bournemouth have issued a county court writ claiming religious discrimination. Why? This couple contends that they are being held hostage on Shabbat because walking out their door triggers their neighbor’s motion light, and thus their prohibition of ‘making fire’, one of many things they aren’t allowed to do on the Sabbath. Lets say Jehovah’s Witnesses were afraid of motion lights too. Would putting outdoor motion lighting on your front door be a hate crime? This highlights the problem of the government getting involved in private affairs. What happens when one religion requires motion lights on their door while another forbids it? There is no way to please everyone.
What I find disturbing about this kind of case is that looking at the above definition for religious discrimination, it is the couple who is doing the discriminating by demanding special treatment because of their beliefs. No one else can sue their neighbors for having motion lighting unless they also subscribe to this belief.
Another example is that of the burkha. A girl in Florida tried to get her drivers license photo taken with her burkha on. Obviously the state shot this down. The same goes for being identified before boarding airplanes. It is an interesting dilemma because, while it is the burkha wearers who want the special treatment, denying it is essentially preventing Islamic women from travelling. I would also note that if you are an identical twin, they don’t force you to come up with additional identification to prove you aren’t your sibling. An airline could hire a woman to take the burkha wearers into a private room for identification, but if the airline were small enough to only have one ID checker, then they would be forced to be discriminatory in their hiring practices by only hiring a woman. It is the FAA that requires such checks, so it is a government matter, just as it would be if they were carded at a liquor store. The ACLU thinks it is disallowed because of religious discrimination caused by 9-11, rather than the obvious security reasons of identifying passengers. I’d challenge them to try to go buy some liquor one night wearing a ski mask and see how far they get.
The intent of the constitution as it relates to religious discrimination should be interpreted as a sort of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Those in government should not commit religious acts while on the job, or add them or their terminology into policy, and the government shouldn’t take religion into account when making decisions. Where the lines of discrimination law should be drawn for businesses and individuals, I admit I don’t know. Anyone have any opinions?
January 25, 2009
Have you ever wondered what the young angry rednecks of the country would have to say about the state of the nation if they quit watching FOX and Rush long enough to educate themselves? Now we know. You tube likes to ban this guy (warning, easily offended need not watch), but I’ll try to keep something up here. The man clearly wants to be heard.
November 16, 2008
This still cracks me up. I get so sick of excessive censorship. It is nice to see someone so competently illustrating the idiocy of it all. It reminds me of reverse graffiti.