Monday, April 30, 2007

Followup: Allen Lee vs the Brownshirts

So, here it is.

Go read it and come back.

Thats right. Thats all. You write that, you get suspended from school, get booted from the marine recruitment program, and watch as those charged with educating you instead do everything in their power to destroy you.

And whats the missing link? Lets look at another article from our friends at the NW Herald (who have been providing in-depth coverage of the whole thing):

"The writing assignment instructed students to write non-stop for a set period of time and to “write whatever comes to mind.” Students also were instructed not to judge or censor what they wrote."

Free writing. Except there's more to this than meets the eye.

Here is another piece of the puzzle.

"About six weeks ago, Emling said he gave a 10-minute speech in the same class describing what his life would be like as a “hit-man” and identified students he would shoot. He said he was not punished for that speech."

Emling refers to Jameson Emling, one of Lee's friends and fellow students. After having read what Lee wrote, and comparing it to a 10 minute speech about being a hit man and bumping off your fellow students...

Well, what could be the difference between Allen Lee and Jameson Emling?

Or why does Allen Lee = Cho Seung Hui in the minds of the school administration, but Jameson Emling is walking aruond unscathed?

Could it be because this is what Allen Lee looks like:

And this is what Cho Seung Hui looks like:

It couldn't be that obvious, could it? Could this story be about racism as much as it is about freedom of speech? How could an institution charged with educating the future voting citizens of this country fall into the obvious pitfall of such simple minded implicit racism?

I'd like to see a picture of Jameson Emling.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Interlude: Another papercut to free speech

Let us turn our attention, for a moment, to this.

A teacher was "disturbed," and an 18 year old student goes to jail.

Charged with disorderly conduct for turning in homework. An assignment to express emotion disturbs someone, and you go to jail.

Curb your speech, for if you break the thinnest skin of someone around you, if you disturb someone, you can go to jail.

The schoolteacher and the administrators should be fired. They have no buisiness in education. This kind of action belies a sickness in our society, a failure of critical thinking, an inability to see beyond the superficial to the substance.

This is exactly why we can't afford to be meek anymore. This is exactly why we can't afford to use qualified statements, subtlety, implication. The time for being sensitive to the weakness of others is over. The time for anger is here. The time for confrontation is upon us.

We each, individually in our lives, must make our stand. Draw a line in the sand and look this kind of stupidity in the eye and call it to account.

We few can change the world.

We who deal in lead.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What do we do now? (part 2)

Oh yeah, it is that bad.

You see, the problem we keep coming across, the thing that is ruining us, is that we've lost the ends in our quest for the means.

Individually, we can be smart, but as a nation, we're incapable of rational thought.

I actually used to be religious. I went to church and everything. I've since recovered.

One of the things that helped open my eyes was an interaction I had with many of my fellows on Sundays. You see, I read that little thing in Matthew where some guy is talking to Jesus, and he complains about how he can't represent this great new religious movement because he doesn't have anything nice to wear. Jesus just shakes his head and points at some nearby wildflowers and says, "Hey, look at those, some of the most humble of God's creations, and see how beautiful they are. How could anything you wear compare to that? Don't worry about it dude."

Foolish me, I took that one to heart.

If you want to have some fun, show up for church wearing denim shorts and a t-shirt.

When they recover from shock and saunter up to you, asking you if everything is ok and offering to help you out with money for clothes if that is the problem, and you point out that you think dressing up is kind of silly and childish, and they balk and tell you that dressing up is how you show "respect" for God (you know, the omnipotent and omnescient creator of the entire universe), and you point to their own holy scriptures and say, "Hey, I'm sorry to break it to you dude but God specifically disagrees with you," well, the look on their face is just about as much fun as you can have in a church.

When I did it, I got a lot of fun answers. My favorites were, "Oh, he was just talking to that one guy, that wasn't meant as a rule for everyone," and "well, societal norms change and now a days dressing up is whats considered respectful."

And thats when my bullshit alarm went into critical alert mode.

Now I look back and I see it as one of many symptoms for what has gone so horribly wrong in this country. Its everywhere around us, it permeates the very air we breathe, the things we read, the movies, the television. It shows its head as half-starved women with eating disorders on magazine covers. It drives people to favor neatly cut exotic grass lawns that require constant watering over native xeriscaped lawns that don't require any water at all. It makes people buy perfect looking GM produce that has no flavor at all, or eat big steaks so laden with hormones that they've grown a new set of secondary sex characteristics by the time the desert tray comes around.

It drives us to fight a war on terror instead of trying to stop terrorism.

What they told me, I'll never forget. "It doesn't matter what  you do, as long as you look good doing it."

Here's the now classic quote from an unnamed Bush administration offical that basically sums up this attitude:

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
(from NYT Magazine)

And there it is, in black and white. The irony is thick enough that if you exposed it to oxygen it would rust in seconds.

The conservatives, those paragons of practicality, the dire enemies of "hippies" who ground themselves in "realism" have turned over all of their power to a bunch of people whose intellectual precursors were the "if it feels good do it" post-modern subjectivists they always tell us they hate.  The hippies have had their revenge.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What do we do now? (part 1)

What do we do now?

It’s happened. It’s done.

They didn’t do it in the night, in secret. They didn’t fire a shot. They boiled the frog in front of all of us and we never said a thing.

We laughed and joked and played on our way to the gas chambers, thanking them the whole time for defending our freedom over there so that we didn’t have to do it here.

From time to time a nation is tested. A crisis comes and reality intrudes, pushing through the carefully constructed façade of command and control we’ve build all around us. Sometimes, the bubble bursts, if only for a few seconds.

And there we stand, naked, staring out at reality as harsh sunlight spills in for the first time in years and we see, really see, how pathetic and small and fragile we all really are.

How we respond to death is at least as important as how we respond to life. It says something fundamental about a person’s maturity, their character, their strength of conviction and their love of goodness and liberty.

Individually, we each responded in our own ways, but collectively, as a nation, we failed this test. Instead of learning from the mistakes that lead to our wound, we blew a thicker bubble, ignoring the shameful weakness of our leader’s real reaction to the crisis in favor of his staged political theatre, a dramatically lit stage built from the rubble and bloody remains of our old dream world. A photo op in place of a plan. A speech in place of leadership.

In so doing, we found out who we really are. As individuals, we have different capacities, competencies, abilities. As a nation, we are weak minded children playing with toys we don’t understand. We ignore substance and focus on style, preferring comforting words about decisive action without the sacrifices that the action would entail. We pour buckets of the superficial onto our heads, covering us in a thick film of lies, so that we can ignore the truth that stands bare and apparent all around us.

The individuals who died on September 11th did not deserve their fate, but we as a nation needed it. We still do. We need the shock therapy of reality to pierce our world of McMansions and Super-sized sodas, our world where we drink a product originally meant as a dessert with every meal and then pretend we don’t know why we’ve all gotten so fat. We need someone, something from outside ourselves to keep delivering shocks to our system until we can’t hide anymore. We need grandpa to get the belt and give us enough licks to sink that all important lesson into our minds: reality is not subjective, its objective, and it doesn’t give a damn what happens to us.