Friday, April 18, 2014

No fan of fanaticism

Because they are certain they are correct. Correct about God, correct about birthright, correct about politics, correct in judgment of others, correct in their self-superiority. As such, they're above any societal structure put in place to control the inferior people. With The Truth on their side, nothing is unjustified, including unlawful acts against society. For them, the law is just another belief that they can choose to believe in, or discard, ridicule or actively combat, when it fits their needs (which, again, are always justified). 

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Childlike thoughts

I highly recommend the article above. It's a thoughtful look about how Americans treat children, from a veteran teacher of 31 years. It helps put a finger on something that's always troubled me: adults treating children like little adults, but also as uppity children. 

I come from the South, a culture of authority and seen-not-heard attitudes (though my parents were not excessively such), and have no kids of my own. And yet, I love children. I gravitate toward them at gatherings and they to me. My parent friends often remark about how their kids like me when they typically ignore adults. But I don't feel like a child whisperer so much as I simply acknowledge their presence. I vividly remember being a child and being able to sniff out the adults I liked versus the ones who would have been happy to give me a blender to play with. The difference wasn't that the likable ones showered me with attention; it's that they made me feel that I was a human being with value. They'd indulge my bizarre imagination for the fleeting moment that I bothered them. Or they'd approach me: If I was sitting at the table drawing, they'd ask me what I was working on. Or they'd ask about my report card. Occasionally they'd start a game or intellectual exercise with me.

So many times when I take similar actions with kids, the parents will reflexively apologize. I always tell them, there's no need. I understand the impulse, because many adults are annoyed by children. But still, it's sad. I love to make a kid laugh or otherwise feel good about themselves, especially if I sense that they're in need of it. Many children rarely encounter adults who aren't authority figures to them, like parents and teachers, who understandably have to put at least some distance between themselves and the child. And it's even rarer for children to encounter an adult who is willing to channel their own inner child. (I'm goofy, is what I'm saying.)

Children aren't little adults in the sense that they have matured senses of right, wrong and social tact. But they do share with adults the need for interaction and respect. They're unique that way. They're kids.

I'm a big proponent of understanding kids are kids for another reason — because of myself. I have a sister who is 10 years younger. I was often tasked with her care and transportation, and thus at a relatively early age was compelled to negotiate the disputes between her needs, my needs and our parents' needs. This meant I was sometimes grouchy to her when she did nothing to deserve it. I feel terrible about those times and hope for her that they don't overshadow all the happier memories.

When I look back on the more traumatic moments of my early life, most revolve around an adult screaming at or physically striking me (or seeing the same happening to someone else). When I witness such things now (rarely, thankfully), it always appears to be a case of a well-meaning but exasperated adult trying to treat a child like an adult, but also like a powerless child. When you're young enough, that's beyond your emotional comprehension. Such disconnect by adults is a consequence of holding children to a different, and lower, plane.

As I often say, the kids are all right. It's up to us as adults to make sure we're all right too.

Fish in a rifle barrel

This Atlantic article demolishes rancher Cliven Bundy's sovereignty argument by pointing out that the Nevada constitution has a paramount-allegiance clause (specifically noting that the federal government supersedes the states), and that the document was ratified two decades before Bundy's ancestors settled there. The article argues that if Bundy follows all of Nevada's laws as he claims, then by definition he should also abide by the parameters of the federal government.

That's a far more compelling argument than Bundy's, which seems to be, "I should be able to do whatever I want because I really, really want to."

That's the problem with the anti-government, militia movement in general. They view government like Christian Scientists view medicine. On second thought, strike that. I don't know of any Christian Scientists who take sniper posts at pharmacies.

That picture, from the article, is of a militia member from Idaho, pointing a firearm at Americans in another state who are engaged in what amounts to a bureaucratic dispute that's none of this guy's business. Absolutely everything is wrong with this. These people insist they're the guardians of freedom, but they are the exact opposite. All the blather about sovereignty and black helicopters overlooks the fact that government agencies are governed by laws, due process and public accountability (which in part is why they backed off in this instance). These self-appointed militia men, on the other hand, are governed only by their personal temperaments — temperaments that tell them it's OK to lie on a highway bridge and potentially murder fellow citizens over political disputes. Given that, I understand completely why the government prepares for the worst. It's not tyranny; it's preparing to deal with sociopaths.

If anything, the militia types are among the lesser-persecuted groups in America. There's a bizarre sympathy for these guys that allows them to get away with actions that we throw other people in prison for even planning. It might be a case of us not feeling like the target, so it's OK. Whereas terrorists threaten violence to disrupt America, militias threaten violence to "protect" America. In a land supposedly governed by laws and not bullets, it's amazing we draw a line there.

That bridge looks like any of dozens I cross on a regular basis in Nevada. If I saw a volunteer gunman peering through one, I'd feel a wave of emotions. Safety and pride would not be among them.

Monday, April 14, 2014

My hometown, everybody

"Crime is about opportunity. If you create that opportunity, you create the opportunity of you becoming a victim." — Lafayette Corporal Paul Mouton (From an article so roundly criticized that it was taken down)

The above quote is in reference to a 21-year-old woman who was found dead Sunday in a ditch in Girard Park (a popular Lafayette park and a lifelong favorite of mine). In that context, it's pretty despicable.

Of course you should be careful when you're out and about. And when you're in and still, for that matter. Always know the risks of your surroundings, whatever they are, and try to avoid the most perilous situations. Don't be paranoid, but don't be blasé either. 

However, that's no excuse to blame the victim. In this particular case, we don't yet know what transpired. But even if we did, there's likely a genuine crime here, and the fault lies with the assailant. It always does. No one asks to be the victim of a homicide. No one tempts another into kidnapping or rape. People are responsible for their own actions; laying the blame on the victim is unproductive at best and sexist at worst.

Men are not helpless creatures led astray by their libidos, nor are women enablers of crime and lust by virtue of being women. That is the thinking of the world's most repressed societies (and the more conservative pockets of free societies). In reality, we're all human beings with brains, and we must take responsibility for the choices we make with those brains. And stop chiding victims for acts inflicted upon them.

Now that would be justice.

Sufferin’ from stakes and claims

By Earl “Clem” Bob
Proud American

Until this week, my favorite Bundy of all time was King Kong, followed by Al. I shouldn’t have to tell you why on that first one, and the second one won me over with his group NO MA’AM. I’m still tryin’ to get a local chapter started over here. (Not a fan of Ted, though. Talk about a Republican In Name Only.)

I like the name Bundy, ’cause it rhymes with Sunday, my favorite day of the week, and with “fundie,” my favorite people to be around on Sunday.

The good name of Bundy’s got an ever-bigger boost now thanks to the exploits of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who stood up to the jackbooted thugs of the federal government. And won! What a glorious day for freedom.

See, the government claims Bundy is on the hook for more than $1 million in federal grazing fees dating back 20 years. And he’s proudly refused to pay those fees, because he’s an American. Good for him!

He shouldn’t have to pay to use government land. The government is us, so it stands to reason that if we want something it’s got, we should just go out and get it! That’s the American way. Besides, he was usin’ that land to grow his cattle operation. Why must we punish success? Especially in an age where we glorify welfare recipients and politicians livin’ large off the government teat, always wantin’ somethin’ for nothin’!


(And don’t even get me started on the tortoises. What makes them think they can just live on such valuable land? Maybe they should taste good or start a business if they want us to care.)

Not that we’re sure it’s federal land anyway. Bundy claims his family owned the land first, well before regulators were even a thing. He has no proof of that beyond his ranch, but his word is good enough for me. Who needs fancy titles and deeds? Honoring sovereign land claims has been an American tradition since the Mayflower first docked here!

It’s time to take our country back. To make it a nation of laws, not of corruption and violence! So I’m glad to see real Americans disrupt the feds until they backed off due to safety concerns. Talk about law and order in the face of tyranny.

We the People will graze wherever we want. We ain’t cattle.

Earl "Clem" Bob ain't cattle.