Category Archives: Citizenship

Americans Opine On Abortion: Thank You, USA Today, Now I Know Why We’re Doomed

Blindfolded-People

USA Today fashions itself as the newspaper of the average American, and it may well be true. Especially since its redesign, it contains less substance than a single section of the New York Times, pedestrian writing, and mostly bite-size features designed for an audience with an attention span that finds fortune cookies challenging. Every now and then, however, a bit like Family Feud, USA Today’s proud low brow style yields valuable insight. Yesterday’s feature on abortion was such an instance, as the paper gathered reader comments on its Facebook and Twitter locales for America’s opinion regarding Missouri’s new mandated three-day waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

Now that I have reviewed the responses, it all makes sense to me now, and I think I know where we are headed. Oh, there is no valuable insight regarding the measure or abortion among the comments. What is revealing is that among all the responses chosen by USA Today, not single reader could manage sufficient objectivity and critical thinking to produce  well-reasoned, fair, thoughtful insight regarding a public policy issue that demands measuring and balancing interests, values,  and outcomes, the essence of ethical decision-making. Not one.

Here they are, with my comments in bold: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Quotes, Religion and Philosophy, The Internet, U.S. Society

Is There An Ethical Interpretation of Hillary’s Response To The Illegal Immigration Activist In Iowa?

Psst! The "thumbs up" really means, "I like your shoes"...

Psst! The “thumbs up” really means, “I like your shoes”…

In case you missed it while waiting for the next NFL player to beat up someone, Hillary Clinton, who is in Iowa theoretically testing the waters for a Presidential bid, answered this way when pressed by an activist on the rope line to give her views on President Obama’s delay of his promised executive order granting some privileges to illegals…

“I think we have to elect more Democrats.”

What did she intend to convey by this, and can such an intent possibly be defended? Some possibilities:

A. Translation: “I am running for President, and to be successful, I can’t possibly tell you my real views on this topic, since whatever position I take will lose votes. So I’m going to answer with a non-sequitur, as if I didn’t hear the question.”

Is this ethical? No. It’s an important issue, and if she is running for President, she has an obligation to communicate her views. If she has a position but doesn’t have the integrity and courage to communicate it, that’s cowardly and a breach or responsibility.

B. Translation: “We risk losing at the polls in November if voters know what the President really intends to do, and those who stand to benefit from his unilateral act circumventing the democratic process will vote Democratic anyway, even if the delay infuriates them. So it’s the smart move.”

Is this ethical? Surely not. It’s an admission that the President is trying to gull low-information voters, and that she approves of the strategy. It’s an expression of support for allowing the deportation of human beings for speculative political gain. It’s an endorsement of “the ends justify the means.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, Rights

When U.S. Officials Channel Orwell, U.S. Citizens Have An Ethical Obligation To Object Loudly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I recognize that President Obama and his entire administration feel they are hostage to an infantile, irresponsible, pacifist  “base” that cringes at the concept of the kind of combat that might occasionally be necessary to preserve our liberty and keep the evil in the world at bay. (I also recognize that the Paul faction in the Republican Party is similarly addled.) That our leaders cater to such confusion is regrettable, indeed, frightening, since it means that they value the welfare of the nation and the world less than the objective of keeping their most naive and ignorant supporters happy. (The alternative, that they feel the same way as this historically unschooled mass is too horrible to contemplate, and I just refuse to believe it.) But when kowtowing to the delusion causes our leaders to embrace Orwellian language designed to declare the opposite of truth in pursuit of political advantage, even those cheered by the fantasy have an obligation, as citizens and as responsible human beings with brains, to protest.

Secretary of State John Kerry just denied that dropping bombs on a state constitutes warfare. WAR IS PEACE, you see. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, War and the Military

My Street Just Went Stupid: Now What?

The Stupiding is coming...

The Stupiding is coming…

For the last 34 years I have lived on Westminster Place in Alexandria, Virginia. The address, a cul de sac, was a happy accident, as a wonderful, affordable house just happened to be there and for sale the day after I asked my wife-to-be to marry me, but it has always given me pleasure. Westminster Abbey is third among my five favorite and most cherished places on earth, the others being Fenway Park, The Alamo, Disneyland, and the Gettysburg battlefield.

Protecting my address’s integrity isn’t easy. Everyone, from clerks to salespersons to the people who address our junk mail try to change the name to Westminister Place, only to be corrected by me, or when it happens to her,  my anglophile wife. “It is Westminster Place, no “i”—you know, like the Abbey,” we say politely. The number of times the response is, “Huh? What abbey?” is a fact too depressing to relate.

Nevertheless, we refuse to let this constant attempted error pass. We have seen what can happen when illiteracy and ignorance are permitted to prevail and fester.

Just a few blocks away from us is the intersection known locally as Stupid Corner, where for decades the Waffle House there has sported a sign reading “WAFLE HOUSE.” The sign immediately lowers the IQ of anyone nearby: there mothers push their baby carriages into traffic, and pedestrians mysteriously forget where they were headed. (I just made four typos even writing about it.) When they repainted the traffic lanes—I’m not making this up—there was an arrow turning LEFT painted in the far right lane, an arrow point RIGHT in the middle lane, and an arrow pointing STRAIGHT ahead in the far left lane, when in fact no lane could go straight, since the road ends there. It was like a Stephen King story. “The Stupiding.” Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Daily Life, History

Comment of the Day: “Roshomon, Good Citizenship And Ethics: The Case Of The Concerned Stranger And The Indignant Father”

Poster - RashomonJeff Gates, the father, photographer and writer whose essay in the Washington Post prompted my post here and a lively discussion thereafter, has been kind enough to contribute additional thoughts and clarifications in response. This is one of the really good things about the internet, and his willingness to enhance the discussion with additional perspective reveals good things about Jeff as well. His original article is here.

At the outset, I want to clarify something about my post that I kept intending to do but obviously did not, at least not well. The fact that the man who was suspicious of his photo-session with his daughter said later that he worked for Homeland Security didn’t figure into my analysis at all, and still doesn’t. I am concerned with the original encounter, and the question of whether this was excessive Big Brotherism clouds the issue, which I see, and saw as this: we should applaud and encourage proactive fellow citizens who have the courage and the concern to step into developing situation that they believe might involve one individual harming another.  As the man needed no special authority to do that, I don’t care whether he was a federal agent or not; I thought it was pretty clear that this was not official action. Indeed, I think as official action, the man’s intervention was ham-handed and unprofessional.

Here is Jeff Gates’ Comment of the Day, on the post, “Roshomon, Good Citizenship And Ethics: The Case Of The Concerned Stranger And The Indignant Father.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Roshomon, Good Citizenship And Ethics: The Case Of The Concerned Stranger And The Indignant Father

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!”

—Robert Burns

bystander-effectJeff Gates, a writer and adoptive father, contributed a thought-provoking column in the Washington Post’s Outlook section this weekend, describing what seemed to him to be a traumatic experience at Cape May. It begins…

“After my family arrives on the Cape May ferry for our annual vacation to the Jersey Shore, I take pictures of our two daughters on the ferry’s deck as we leave the harbor. I’ve been doing this since they were 3 and 4 years old. They are now 16 and 17. Each photo chronicles one year in the life of our family and our daughters’ growth into the beautiful young women they have become….On that first day of vacation, the sea was calm and the sky a brilliant blue. As I focused on the image in my camera’s viewfinder, the girls stood in their usual spot against the railing at the back of the boat. I was looking for just the right pose…Totally engaged with the scene in front of me, I jumped when a man came up beside me and said to my daughters: “I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you were okay.”

He goes on:

“It took me a moment to figure out what he meant, but then it hit me: He thought I might be exploiting the girls, taking questionable photos for one of those “Exotic Beauties Want to Meet You!” Web sites or something just as unseemly. When I explained to my daughters what he was talking about, they were understandably confused. I told the man I was their father. He quickly apologized and turned away. But that perfect moment was ruined, and our annual photo shoot was over.”

Many of us might laugh off the experience as a funny anecdote, but not Gates, and not his daughters. He is Caucasian and they are both of Chinese heritage, having been adopted as infants in China by Gates and his wife. He obsessed about the incident for a while, and worked up sufficient indignation to track down the man and confront him, saying “Excuse me, sir, but you just embarrassed me in front of my children and strangers. And what you said was racist.” Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Race

The Nine-Year-Old and the Uzi: A Case Study In News Media Public Opinion Manipulation

no-guns-banner

In White Hills, Arizona, a nine-year-old girl accidentally shot a firing range instructor when he handed her an Uzi on full automatic setting and she lost control of the weapon. That was a tragedy, but there have been thousands of newsworthy tragedies in the six days since that story first appeared, and yet the media is still bombarding us with stories about it. Why?

The episode itself is not very complicated. A foolish parent allowed his daughter to use a dangerous instrumentality that was beyond her maturity level to handle, and a negligent instructor paid with his life for a moment of hideous judgment and negligence. That’s it. It’s a one day story. Today, in the category of horrible accidents involving children, we should be reading about the little girl—same age–who died on a beach yesterday when a sand hole someone had dug collapsed on her. And the most recent infant left in a car to broil to death. Yet the Sunday morning TV shows all managed to mention the shooting range incident, and today I am still seeing articles like this one. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society