Friday, October 30, 2015

The Soup Kitchen Defense For Bad Behavior

Since the proliferation of online videos making the worst of police brutality available for all to see, defenders of police like to tout the "good cops" in an effort to rehabilitate the image of police. One recent example is the participation of a police officer in a street dance-off in Washington, DC. There are other stories out there attempting to instill this image that bad cops are mitigated by others.

But when I come across these stories I can't help but put them in the same category as the impression created by a soup kitchen run by Al Capone. This help for Chicago's unemployed during the Great Depression gave many people a reason to ignore the gangster's violent criminal empire. In Japan, something similar occurred when Yakuza, known as the Japanese Mafia, was joined by other criminal outfits in offering earthquake assistance.

In these and other cases the awful behavior should not be seen as being mitigated by separate good behavior. We should not be picturing a scenario where the good things done by a group allows for any amount of bad behavior in what I'll call the soup kitchen defense. Being a decent person on occasion should never be seen as a justification for otherwise being awful, especially when it comes to those who have the power to take away your freedoms or your life.

(Update: Here is an example exactly on point from Orlando following the massacre there in June 2016: "Chick-fil-A employees were at work in Orlando Sunday." A notorious anti-gay corporation can't undo the damage it's done by giving away food for a few hours.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Conservative Christians Deny The God They Claim To Trust

Story: When police embrace 'In God We Trust': Column

When I see these ludicrous claims that using these kinds of phrases aren't religious, I can't help but wonder if they consider verses like Matthew 10:33: "But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven." It seems pretty clear to be a denial if they claim this phrase is secular and isn't about their god.

As most who know me are aware, I'm not religious, but I would have way more respect for those who are if they weren't so openly hypocritical so often. I try, but it's so hard to see people in a positive light when these kinds of things happen.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fail: Letting The Past Trump The Present

Story: Ben Carson: Pledge of Allegiance and other ‘founding documents’ prove America is a Christian nation

One of the many things I don't understand about how the bulk of humanity thinks is the idea that the past trumps the present--and the future. Like no other time in history, we are privy to better information every single day. What we know tomorrow will be better than what we know today, something that will be true everyday. Yet, so many of us still tell ourselves that the past is better.

Leaving alone the claim that the Christian religion (or any religion) was anything close to a key factor in the "founding documents," (having religion as part of government was actually something feared--Article VI, First Amendment), all laws we write for ourselves are always going to become outdated because we are not anywhere near smart enough to predict the future conditions under which we live, including the ever-increasing quality of the information at our disposal.

If we want to be a nation of something valuable and laudable, it should be the ability to modify the rules we set for ourselves based on the latest and greatest information we have. We should not want to live in a world where past decisions and actions are seen as applicable in the present without consideration of what's changed. That's just nuts.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

When Being Unqualified Is A Job Requirement

I swear that when I see Tea Party types talk about how governments and societies should operate I can't help but think it's on par with what it would be like to listen to people who failed algebra give their opinions on running the Large Hadron Collider or the space station.

We have too many people who actually think people who are unskilled and uneducated in government are valid job applications. And what's worse, when those hired prove they don't know what they're doing once in the job, more people just like them are brought in. It's hard to think of a scenario where a type of group insanity would be more obvious when being unqualified is a job requirement.

If there was a wish to be granted for humanity's future, it should be to recognize our failures and do everything to fix them instead of seeing mistakes as virtues to be repeated while accepting new information as more valuable than the old information it corrects and improves upon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Acknowledgment of No Knowledge Surprise

It's been said in various ways that the more someone learns the more they realize how little they know. While I've been doing what I can to keep learning as time goes by, I didn't think I would get to the place where I acknowledge I know nothing so soon and with so little warning after experiencing patches of the illusion of  knowledge.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Superpower Privilege Is A Thing Too

I accidentally caught a few minutes of a conservative round table on TV for recently where they were talking about the Middle East. The overall tone of it was very similar to the discussions we now hear about race- and sex-based privilege. After hearing a bit of this discussion, it seems to me that nation-based privilege is a thing too.

The comments in this program were all about the U.S. telling the Middle East (and the rest of the world) what they are doing wrong, and how if they would just listen to the privileged North American superpower they would solve their problems. This is the same attitude we get from conservative white males when talking about racism, bigotry, and sexism. It's where the terms mansplain and whitesplain come from. Maybe we should begin to add Samsplain, as in Uncle Sam, to give it a name.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Gun Advocates Think We Live In A Video Game

Story: Less than 90 minutes after Oregon shooting, CNN analyst suggests school’s ‘gun free zone’ to blame

The mind that comes up with this kind of thing must think we all live in a video game where everyone is always carrying around a loaded weapon, pointed and ready to shoot someone and then one person would only take one perfect shot at "the bad guy."

What an asshole.