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Wednesday, we were able to add another school shooting to the ever growing list of school shootings.  Wednesday, we were able to add another mass shooting to the ever growing list of mass shootings.

Wednesday’s child is full of woe.

However, increasingly, in America every day is becoming a Wednesday.  The number of mass shootings is increasing. The number of school shootings is increasing.  The number of dead children is quickly increasing.  The number of Americans dead, wounded, or mourning is quickly increasing.

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And so far, all we have gotten is thoughts and prayers.  There is a time and purpose for thoughts and prayers.  But, they are not enough to stem this bloody tide.  There needs to be policy and actions and laws too. But those seem in short supply, for many reasons.  Something that is not the purpose of this blog to explore.

In this blog I do not intend to present specific policies and actions.  I do not intend to wade into numbers and research.  I do not intend to provide a specific way forward.  While I do have some specific ideas in regards to policies and actions, and have some specific ideas on ways forward (none of them quick nor easy), I do not intend to present them here.

Instead, what I want  briefly present are a few  very broad ideas of what a true solution to our gun violence problem would have to include.

But, before doing that, I want to define what a solution to the gun problem is and is not.

First, it is not armed guards and metal detectors and training on what to do when the seemingly inevitable happens.  It is not passing out guns to all the teachers, all the students, all Americans to use for protection.  It is not good guys with guns. One of my nieces stated it very well when she wrote:

The issue is not the good guys with guns not being around, it’s the bad guys with guns posing a threat in the first place and our country’s failure to protect their subsequent victims by arming them.

A true solution is not reactive, as were all of the “solutions” I mentioned already. Instead, it is proactive. It strives to prevent the act from happening in the first place.

I guess I should now mention goals.  What is our goal here?  To have everyone living in fear and tension but protected somehow by guns and machinery and such?

Or is it to have every child be able to go to school without a nagging fear in their and their parents mind about whether they will come home again, alive and unscathed; to have families, couples, individuals, groups be able to go to restaurants, movies, and malls without a tinge of fear contaminating their enjoyment.

My goal is for the latter.

So, a solution to this problem needs to be proactive and to promote a sense of being able to live your life safely.

Now, for a reality caveat.  There is and will be no perfect solution. Perfection does not exist in human affairs. No matter how good or how thorough, there will still be some gun violence. However, if we reduce such violence by 80%, 90%, or more…well, that would be good indeed.  When our government first started studying car safety in the 1960s, they did not eliminate all car fatalities.  But, they greatly reduced it and made driving much safer now than it was 50 years ago. As a result many tens of  thousands of individuals are still enjoying their lives, and many more thousands of family and friends are visiting these living people instead of the cold earth of their graves.

Second reality check. There is no one solution.  Gun violence stems from a variety of causes and happens for a variety of reasons.  Instead of a single solution, there will need to be many changes, many “solutions”.  And that is the main purpose of this blog, to highlight, in broad stokes,  what areas need to be changed.

 

UNLEASH THE RESEARCH

Currently the CDC is hamstrung and effectively prohibited by Congress from conducting any research into gun violence, its causes and solutions.  For over 20 years Congress has kept any money from going to research into the causes of gun violence and possible solutions to such violence.

That must change.  If we want to quit spinning our wheels on this issue and to find new and real solutions, we need information.  Ignorance, in this case, literally kills.

 

UNLEASH OUR STARVED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES 

Mental health is one of those things we love to give lip service to, but not money. It is usually one of those areas with the least amount of money allocated to it, but which, despite this, is still one of the first to feel cuts when the budget must be trimmed.

A caveat here though.  Most of the mass shooters were not mentally ill.  In fact, the great majority were not – for example, the Las Vegas shooter.  Also, the vast majority of mentally ill do not commit such acts of violence.  In fact, the great majority of persons who exhibit the exact same symptoms as the shooters  do not commit such acts.

However, this is still worth doing.  Further research and work may help us more accurately identify those at risk of engaging in mass shootings.  An even better goal though would be to create a system of mental health services where those who might have become so do not.

Consider vaccinations as an analogy. Even without a vaccination, not everyone would get sick.  Many would though. Yet with vaccinations most of those who would have become sick no longer will.

To make this a reality though is going to involve a great deal more money being spent in this area than there is now.  Money for the research necessary to understand better, both the conditions and its causes and its prevention.  Money to set up the structures and resources that can effectively deliver that knowledge in a timely manner.

In addition, the benefits resulting from the money spent on this research and for the resources to effectively use the findings of that research, would extend far beyond the effect it would have on reducing mass shootings and gun violence. It would improve the lives of millions and thereby help the nation.

 

UNLEASH OUT SOCIAL SERVICES 

We have too many cracks and gaping holes in our social services.  People do not get the resources and knowledge they need to deal effectively with what life has thrown at them.  Often this would work in tandem with the unleash mental health part of the solution.

The most recent school shooting in Florida is a good illustration of that.  Here is my one and only link in this blog, an article about how the shooter “escaped years of warning”.   It shows how the police and school and other services really had no way to effective deal with this young man.

This is something that happens all too frequently.  We should be looking at what can be developed and created to better serve our fellow citizens.  Again, like mental health, this would benefit not only individuals, but also our country as a whole.  But, it would cost money.

However, I strongly suspect that the costs of providing both better mental health services and better social services would, in the long term, not only pay for themselves but provide a net gain in terms of increased productivity, less crime, fewer people in jails and mental institutions, and so forth.  In other words, just as an industry will go into debt to purchase machinery  that it believes will result in better profits in the long term, so too should we consider the money spent for these two areas an investment in our human potential.  An investment that, truth to tell, even if it only benefited the individuals using those services and society, but not the economy, would still be well worth it.  However, as I said, I suspect that if done properly, this is not an either choice but an and choice.

A thought here too – new ideas will have to be found, created, and tried.  Some will work. Some will fail.  We must realize that failures are a part of the process and one of the ways in which we learn.  In other word, do not let the failure of one idea stop the exploration of others.  Or cause us to go back to the way we used to do things.   We already know how poorly those are working.

 

GUN CONTROL

Any solution to gun violence will have to include gun control.  In fact, I would imagine that this will be a large part of any such solution.  Let me now say though that gun control does not mean banning all or even most guns.

But it does mean creating better databases for background checks, and finding ways to make them more effective.

It does mean that it applies to all guns and all gun purchases.

It does mean that some guns may be banned (some already are), or that certain sizes of ammo clips, or types of ammo may be banned.

It does mean that other gun related items may have to have background checks, for example, ammunition.

It does mean all of these and more need a thorough look at and probably trial to see how well they work.

It does mean we do not give up when one law or approach does not work.  Instead, analyze why and see if only a modification is needed or is the whole idea bad.  As someone who has had to suffer through the installation and start up of new production equipment, and through the use of new computer programs, I know that initially there are always problems and issues.  Some of them major, all of them a major pain in the ass. However, to have stopped would have been a grave mistake in most cases, and after the issues had been worked out they proved themselves greatly beneficial.  We should not be making any grave mistakes of a similar nature here.

And let me quickly address the claims of many of those against all or most gun control laws that we already have hundreds or even thousands of laws on the books,  just enforce them.  The problem is that they are all local and inconsistent.  A city or state may have strong gun control laws, yet if their neighbors do not then they are not going to be effective.  Just drive across the city limits or state lines, buy your gun, and come back home again.   Instead of working together, these laws often work at cross purposes.

 

CONCLUDING REMARKS COMPLETE WITH A WARNING

I do not know if this covers everything that would need to happen for an effective solution to our gun violence crisis.  I do know though that these are the minimum.  And I do know that for most of those items listed above, the benefits to the people of the United States and to the economic and social health of this nation would extend beyond just controlling gun violence more effectively.

However, we do need to be sensitive to individual rights and work to ensure that we do not violate them in the name of safety.

I know that many will interpret this solely in terms of the second amendment.   I freely acknowledge that the second amendment does include the right of individuals to own guns.  This, by the way, is a change in my previous position due to numerous debates and discussions and readings and research.  However, that same research that changed my opinion on whether the second amendment applies to the individual also convinced me that gun controls, including the banning of some, and gun registration, does not violate that second amendment.

Which is my long winded way of saying the rights that I am most concerned about are not the second amendment rights.  My concerns are for the personal rights of the individual.

The right of the individual to be different, unique, eccentric without being labelled and treated as mentally ill.  The right of those who are mentally ill to be fully informed and to give informed consent to all treatments, to not be abused, and to live their lives freely.  The right of the individual to appeal any and all decisions made in regards to them.

Newtown Commemorates One Month Anniversary Of Elementary School MassacreIMG_7319_1507149137045_67979013_ver1.0_900_675

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Town Of Parkland In Mourning, After Shooting At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Kills 17

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Finally, it seems to me that the best memorial to the many lives lost and families shattered by gun violence are not flowers and candles, not poems and pictures, not services and statues, but seeing people live who might have died had we not changed how things are done.

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In the beginning, humanity hunted, humanity gathered, and they did so in family groups.  These groups were the earliest and most basic human social structure.

As time advanced, these groups grew larger through natural processes at work even today.  This natural increase was furthered and quickened by humanity’s growing knowledge and technology which allowed them to die less often and live longer.  And to support more people.

lepenskivirart2Larger groups had several advantages. With more people, some could be spared to become craftsmen or tradesmen – pottery, weaving, knapping, trade, etc.  This benefited the now enlarged family group.  Another important benefit is that having more people meant that it was harder for other, often competing, family groups to force you to move from favorable locations.  Or take away your resources and access to needed and important minerals and water.  Or, to just wipe you out.

And, being bigger meant that if felt it necessary, you could do that to them!

However, as primarily a hunting and gathering society, there were limits to how large your group could grow.  But, then along came agriculture.  Suddenly, those limits were gone.

But, as with most advances, there were problems too. Now a society could grow larger, but family groups could only grow so far and so fast. However, several family groups working together could grow quite quickly and with fewer limits.

But, you knew there was going to be another but, there was another problem.  How to hold these different family groups together when one family group became upset and mad at another. After all, their primary loyalty had been and was to their family.  Family feuds back then were often deadly.

The answer – Religion.  Well, really, the answer was to create a new identity that E0702 KLENZE 9463transcended  family loyalties so  that even when family groups got pissed at each other the society stayed whole and the conflict was largely worked out within the new, larger society instead of tearing it apart.  But, an essential part of that identity was religion.

This was a religion grown from the beliefs of these family groups but organized and made bigger.  And then used to create a new identity and to not only resolve potentially societal suicidal disputes, but to provide a means and motive to redistribute resources (even though abused, a necessity too – for example, irrigation).

For the most part I do not think this was consciously done, although at times I am sure that aspects of it were. But, rather, this was a natural growth.  Also, I would imagine that the attempt to create this new unity with religion failed often and the nascent society fell apart. But, some succeeded and when they did, well they were bigger with all the benefits mentioned above.  Further, they were more organized and able to have people do things not related to just providing food – arts, trades, trading, soldiers, etc

Religion was a success.  And nothing else worked as well.   It is why you never find an early civilization in which religion was not an essential part of its structure.  It had to be for such structures to exist.

Nothing human is static.  We change and grow and react in response to the non-static world around us. This holds true for religion too.  Religion started to move beyond largely societal commands and strictures and assume a more and more moral aspect to it. Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad and others are aspects of this changing nature.

One other aspect of this use of religion as national identity: those who were not of the same religion were then not a part of us, and thus dangerous and suspicious.  Reading the history of England as it switched from Church of England to Catholic and back again is an interesting read and an illustration of this truth.  It is why I say it is not so much religion that is the cause of so much violence, but its wedding to the state.

Which brings us to the gradual divorce of that married couple, once joined as one.  As Religious-Affiliationhumanity was more able to easily travel to other countries with other beliefs, and as humanity became better able to communicate about those other peoples – the printing press being the biggest boost to that – people within countries started to question their beliefs.  Which was a threat to the state – as mentioned earlier.

This warfare and violence though was abhorred by many good men, including some very religious believers.  And the idea started and grew and was developed that religion and state should be divorced, and then kept separated in order to control and lessen the violence and hatred.  Interestingly enough, the earliest proponent of a complete separation of religion and state was a Puritan theologian and founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams (he also founded the state of Rhode Island with that principle in mind).

A couple of hundred of years later a country was born in which the state and church were explicitly separate and forbidden to join together.   Note, by state I mean government.  And that is not the same as a society and culture.

Now, this was such a good idea that over the next two hundred years (a bit over actually) this idea spread and became the norm, or at least given lip service.  Secular non-religious institutions also grew that provided the same functions that only religion used to provide – education, healthcare, providing for the poor, etc. Abulcasis-blistering

However, a bit over two hundred years is a very short period of time. I imagine the transition from family groups to cities with religions took considerably longer.  Which is why we still see the remnants of the older attitude of identifying the state with a specific religion rise up.  It is why Buddhists in Myanmar are persecuting and committing genocide upon Muslims there.   Or why Muslims in many Islamic countries do not allow conversions.  Or why religious people in communist and officially atheistic countries were persecuted (what is the issue here is the identification of one religious view with the state, no matter what that view might be).

And why we still see it rear its head here in the United States.

Immediately after 9/11, the city of Fort Worth decided to hold a grand meeting of city employees to allow a sense of grief to be shared and supported by our shared unity. However, this meeting or ceremony was decidedly Christian, complete with the police Chaplain giving a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

My wife, who is an atheist, and a Buddhist friend of hers  were left with a sense of betrayal, of being left out. Were they not Americans too?  Did they not feel shock and grieve?   Instead of unifying all Americans, it divided.

It was just after this that God Bless America became a traditional 7th inning stretch song at baseball games.   A way to provide unity and show you were a true blue American. My wife and I, as atheist, refused to sing it, and even refused to stand for it because it came to symbolize the United States as a Christian nation.

Last Thursday was the National Day of Prayer, itself a relic of the old religion as national identity. Many presidents in the past have worked to offset that by trying to include other faiths in these prayers.  But, it still is a relic of the old identifying of the state with one religious view. 170x170bb

More recently our government has been more and more influenced and pandering to one specific religious group. Towards that end, they are working to make it easier to use religion as a justification for discrimination and injustice

I mentioned culture and society earlier and how they are different than governments.  But, while they are different, they do influence it.  This is especially true in a democracy and cannot be any other way.  It creates a bit of tension at times a lot of tensions at others, and it provides a challenge in regards to politicians and government workers at times.  For the most part though, the government has managed to stay secular and maintain that wall of separation. However, I believe that we are now undergoing one of those times when that wall will be attacked, and will be cracked.  Not destroyed, but cracked.

What this shows though is that the replacement of religion as a glue holding people together, as a way of providing a national identity and unity still exists and is still a powerful force.  However the difference between today and the past is that the population is diverse whereas in the past is was largely homogeneous.  That means instead providing a national identity and unifying us, it provides an identity for some and serves to divide us.

I do not think that religion will ever disappear (after all, the family has not disappeared, that primal beginning of all human societies) – nor should that be our goal (very far from it). But, I do think that our secular government with its secular institutions needs to be protected.  It is a necessity for the continued growth of a more peaceful and just world.

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First, not all claims of sexual harassment are going to be true.

The great majority will be. But, there will be a few that will not be true. This could be due Mooreto maliciousness, revenge or political/economic gain, or for a moment in the spotlight or just miscommunication.

Second, not all instances of sexual harassment are equally egregious.

Pressure to have sex for promotions or hiring, sexual harassment of minors, and squeezing the butt, while all wrong and deserving of condemnation, are not equally as wrong.

Third, people screw up, occasionally very badly; even good people.Loretta Lynch Addresses Congressional Black Caucus Conference In DC

One or even two instances of sexual harassment, dependent upon the type of sexual harassment, does not make one a bad person or even a serial sexual harasser (not sure of a good word for this).

Fourth, related to the third: the times and standards have changed and are changing.

While the standards often sound the same,  how they are being understood and applied in recent years is different from how they were understood and applied 30, 40 or 50 years ago:  the pervasive idea  that men were allowed and expected to discipline wayward women by spanking them, that forcing a kiss was what women wanted even when  they said no, women liked sexual advances and were flattered by them even when saying no that men were meant to rule the home and women, ultimately, submit – all show in countless movies, books, stories.

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What this means is that you have some applying the same applications as before, applications that they learned and absorbed from birth,  and who honestly do not see themselves as sexually harassers.  And refuse to change.

Then you have some who do acknowledge and are aware of and agree with those changes but whose initial behaviors and habits were formed back during the day, and this can give rise to problems – such as my third point – people screw up. It takes time and work to change ingrained habits and views.

For an example of the above, consider women who were brought up in an extreme Christian purity culture – home schooled, only acceptable role is as wife and mother, emphasis on being a virgin when married, formal education not important, submissive, etc. Even though at some point they make a conscious decision to break away, it takes years to change habits and points of views. There are and will be mistakes and issues created in the changing of this view.

Fifth, a variation of the fourth, the times are changing and have changed. How far back do we want to hold people accountable to the new understanding?

For example, a man acting on the standards of the 60s or 70s, but who is trying to change and has been doing so, do we still hold his actions in the 60s and 70s and 80s against him?  Much of this is going to depend on how far back, which in turn depends on when you consider the times seriously started changing as well as the nature of the offense – see my Second point above.

Sixth, the truth of my first point, not all claims are going to be true, and to an extent, my second one, not all instances of sexual harassment equally bad, have been horribly abused in the past to defend men’s indefensible actions.

In fact, this abuse has been so pervasive that I think that we are reluctant now to admit that such can be occasionally true. Especially in light of how those opposed take those few and try to inflate it and deflect attention away from the larger issue.

Add to this the fact that our culture too often still blames women for rape and sexual harassment; even underage girls. A few years back here in Texas a young girl of 11 was gang raped several times over a period of a few months. Many people, including many women, blamed the girl, calling her slut and such, even though it appeared that the initial gang rape was totally obviously non-consensual complete with the girl saying no.  And afterwards… the girl was 11, need more be said?
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Because of these concerns we have become very sensitive to anything that smacks of victim blaming and slut shaming. We have cause to be. But, I think we are in danger of being so sensitive on this that we do not consider that occasionally the man, or woman, is not guilty.

The reason I think we need to be clear on this is that making such a mistake not only makes us wrong, but also, in practical terms provides ammunition to those who are resisting the reality that sexual harassment is a real and large problem. They are already doing this with hate crime by using the few hate crime hoaxes to question and/or discredit all other clams.

Now, in addition to the points above, I think we need to start making some distinctions.  To me there are three broad categories – inappropriate behavior, harassment, and assault.

Inappropriate behavior might be such things as sexual comments, stealing a kiss, grabbing the butt, and so on.

Harassments is something that has to happen more than once to the same person.

Sexual assault is sex that occurs despite the person saying no, or otherwise indicating that it is not welcome.

Currently in the reporting and discussions I have seen, all three are lumped together.  While this is useful for broad discussions, when you want to talk about specifics, about what to do in individual cases, and about what social changes should be promoted, we need to be aware of the distinctions and not handle each of them the same.

My last thought is that this is going to be messy.  All needed social change is. It will involve a lot of dialogue and will involve a lot of conflict, the conflict not always between those of opposite sides. We will disagree among ourselves about what to do. That is normal.  And this process will not be perfect. Nothing human ever is.

And those who are opposed to this change will take that messiness, and use those few times when an innocent person is harmed , to try to discredit the movement.  To counter this we need to:

  • Admit when we are wrong and an innocent person has been harmed, and not do so in a defensive manner, but openly and with genuine regret.
  • Be ready with facts and reason. Facts and reason honed, hopefully, by debate and discussions among ourselves.
  • Be ready to provide the benefits of creating a more equal society, not just in terms of justice and morality, but in terms of creating better opportunities that will create better job growth and economic growth.
  • Not be afraid to admit we don’t know or aren’t sure when we really do not know and really are unsure. We need to develop a reputation of honesty.
  • Be aware that we will make mistakes, both as a movement and as individuals. Be strong enough to learn and push on anyway.

 

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I was going to use George Takei and Al Franken to illustrate how I think the thoughts above would play out in real life. But, this is getting too long as it is, and so, instead, I will just tell you the end result of my thinking based on the above points.  And then let you try to figure out why, and decide if I was correct or totally off base.

George Takai.  I do not believe he committed any acts of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior.

Al Franken.  He engaged in inappropriate behavior with several women over a period of time. However, I do not believe he should have been pressured to resign. An ethics investigation and some other penance would have done (provide the ethics investigation did not find anything more than what has already come out).  Or, conversely, he should have said that he would resign if Trump would submit to an ethics investigation in regards to his acts of sexual harassment.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Outing sexual harassers and those who have sexually assaulted women and men is becoming the new national pastime.  To explain what is happening, I have seen several indexcolumns and pieces by conservatives going on the same line as this one by Cal Thomas.  It basically blames the current plague of sexual harassments on a lack of virtue, a lack created in large part by the sexual revolution.

“In the train wreck of our present culture, we are witnessing the failure over the last 50 years to instruct and discipline our children in ways that as adults they are more likely to embrace the values that can lead to a virtuous life.”

However, there are several problems with such a view.  To see what they are, I think it instructive to take a look at the values and virtues being practice back in the good old 170925-roy-moore-silver-revolver-ac-1028p_174d3c9ea036cda80c5a35264adaed76.nbcnews-fp-1200-630days.  And since they put it at 50 years, let’s provide a bit of a cushion and make it a good 61 years back, 1956, the year of my birth.  A very good year.

 

For blacks though, 1956 was not so good. In 1956 Jim Crow laws were still in full force. There were communities which blacks knew they had to avoid after dark.  I was born in 1956 and I remember seeing white only communities – designated as such by signs –  when I was around seven or eight. Blacks had special roadmaps for cross country trips that listed which cities were problems for blacks and to avoid, as well as where they could get help.  Blacks were discriminated  in the types of jobs they could get, where they could live, where they could go to school,  when they could go to public pools or the state fairs.  And this barely even scratches the surface of what it meant to be black and living in the virtuous 50s.

Well then, what about women?  After all, during that time weren’t men respectful of women and treasured them?

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Times were changing during this decade, but not that much yet.  The primary role of a woman was still seen as that of wife and mother.  Anything else was an aberration and unnatural.  Many jobs were closed off to women, and of those that were open men were paid more. In fact, many companies had written policies stating that a woman would be paid less than a man for the same position.  And even when a woman had a job outside the home, she often did not control her earnings. Many states stated that any money earned by a woman were legally under the control of either her husband or father.  In fact, getting a credit card or a loan usually required a man.  Oh, and a woman had no legal right to say no to her husband when he wanted sex.   And if she dared to try to, well, a man could legally spank or beat his wife.  And it was socially approved.  In fact, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the legal system started to take domestic violence seriously.  Until then, even though wife beating had been illegal since the 1930s, it was treated as a domestic matter and largely ignored.

OK then, well surely in the area of gays and transgende….. OK, not so much. The only way you could argue that 1956 was virtuous in regards to gays is if you believe homosexuality to be gravely abnormal,  a grave sin, and the homosexual worthy of the grave if they do not change their ways after losing their jobs, being jeered and  abused, and being beaten and institutionalized.

Well, surely there were fewer business and political scandals then, weren’t there?  That would at least give some support to the whole virtuous argument promoted by Cal Thomas and many other conservatives.

Uh oh.  McCarthyism anyone?  And lets not forget Nixon’s Checkers Speech (in which he claimed the only gift he received was a dog and never mind that 18,000 dollars worth of things sitting over there).  And this was in the heyday of J. Edgar Hoover who had his agents illegally break into business and organizations he suspected leaned left.  Or …well, I see a great many more there too.  So, never mind finding support for the virtuous past from that quarter.

Oh, but wait, governments are always iffy on virtue, what about businesses?

OK, lets see. Hmm, there is the 1951 basketball scandal, the quiz show scandals, oh, and several Hollywood sex scandals.  Not looking so good on the nonsport and nonentertainment industries either.  Bribery and fronting and graft, oh my!

Sorry, just not seeing that time as being especially virtuous.  In fact, for the reasons above, I would argue that today is a more virtuous time than then.  And it is because of this that we are having a wave of sexual harassment claims, a wave that I hope continues.

So, in regards to sexual harassment and rape and such. Does Cal and friends really believe that there was less of each back in the day?

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Sorry Cal and friends, there wasn’t. However, back then women being under men’s control was considered normal, and a man asserting his control was normal too.  Spanking a woman for being disobedient or to keep her in her place was normal.  In fact, in my younger days I greatly enjoyed the John Wayne movie McClintock.  Until I saw it again a few years ago and saw this scene (and the one at the end where McClintock gives his new son-in- law an ash shovel to use on his daughter when she becomes difficult).

Now, I will admit that it is possible that sexual harassment may not have been as prevalent then as now.  But, if true, look at the cost.  Women largely did not work outside the home.  Women had to cover up thoroughly and usually had to be accompanied by a male family member or husband.    They were chaperoned.  They were not allowed or encouraged to get an education.  Strict limits were imposed on their dress, their movements, their freedom.  Men were expected to control women; for their own good of course.  And women who did not conform, even if just for a moment, well they were obviously women of easy virtue and so fair game.

That, obviously, has changed.  For several reasons. maxresdefault

 

We, as a species, have an innate sense of fairness.  When a person or a group is being treated unfairly there will, eventually be pushback.  Over the millennia, white males were the first to fully take advantage of the new fangled idea of rights and freedom.  Other groups who were excluded noticed that white males being the only ones to have such rights was not fair. And so women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights.

Women started moving out of the home, controlling their own money, getting jobs, Issue_Womens-Rightsbecoming educated, and going  boldly into careers that no woman had been before.  World War II  accelerated this movement as men were in short supply at home and so women took their spots in the factories.

Adding to this was the idea that birth control, instead of being a sin, was a good thing. That women should not have to bear  child after child after child and often die early because of this.  That women could control their own bodies.

And this was good.

However, men, and our society in general, was slower to change in attitudes and practices.  After all, in the past, a woman who worked outside the home and had sex was a slut and could be treated as such.  Women were inferior and so could be treated as such.  Men had urges that were OK to satisfy, and women shouldn’t complain about it.  These attitudes and views are the true source of sexual harassment, and they go back many thousands of years, not the mere 50 mentioned by Cal and others of his ilk.

What we have today, Cal and Cynthia Allen (not going to post her column, suffice it to say It follows the same line as Cal’s) is not a dearth of virtue, but an increase in virtuous expectations.  Our standards have been raised.  Society is changing.  And what makes it amazing is that it is happening in the age of Trump.  But, maybe Trump and the Republicans were what was needed to provide the kick to ratchet up this needed virtuous change.

Instead of a lack of virtue and now a return, what is happening is an increase of virtue, an awareness that what was normal no longer should be.  Just as we have done for race (and, despite what some conservatives say, are still in the process of doing) and homosexuality (ditto here for the conservatives, but more so) we have recognized that our old views of a  man’s and woman’s roles in society were not just.

The sexual revolution of the 1960s may have influenced the shape of the problem today, but it was not the cause. The cause is an increase of virtue. And that is beautiful baby.

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Normally I do just one blog during a week. But this week there will be two, my normal Wednesday blog, and this one.

 

 

It seems that we have reached a critical mass, a critical mass that has been set ablaze by the Me Too movement. It seems that women, and some men, everywhere are speaking up about harassment from the rich and powerful.  Harvey Weinstein, of course.  Then also, after Harvey, Ed Westwick, Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, former President George H. W. Bush, Louis C. K. and many others.  And the list is growing – and I hope continues to grow.

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Doubtless some of those or those of others to come, will turn out to be honest mistakes in communication or memory. Others will turn out to be lies or half truths done out of maliciousness or even to score political points. However, I am not going to make the mistake of so many on the right who question whether hate crimes and hate speech are increasing at all and who point to a few hoaxes as reason to question the experiences and reality of thousands of people.  Most, in fact, the great majority, of these women’s claims will turn out to be true. Just as is true for those who have experienced hate crimes and speech.

 

I should note that although I mentioned the rich and powerful, as well as listed the names of such, this is by no means confined only to the rich and powerful.  Would that it were. But this issue crosses all areas of society, the rich and the poor.  The rich and powerful though can often get away with such behavior on a scale that those poor can only dream about, whether that dream be bliss or nightmare. And, that the rich and powerful are much more visible than the average person.

 

Also, before going further, let me state this is not a political issue. It is not a liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican issue. Most of those coming out now are from the entertainment industry and heavily liberal.  However, a brief look at recent history shows that this is not only liberals and Democrats.  Need I remind people of Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Herman Cain, Dennis Hastert, Donald Trump and many others.

 

As I said, this is not a political issue, although it does have political ramifications.

 

Instead, this is a human and American societal issue and concerns all of us. Look at the names I mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. They range from one end of the political spectrum to the other. However, I am realistic enough to know that for many, and possibly most, they will see this as a problem mostly for liberals or mostly for conservatives. Of course, this could wind up working if the conservatives would take aim and take down the liberal sexual harassers and the liberals do the same for the conservative ones. But, again, my ability to see reality knows that this will not happen. It is too easy and too facile and the issue spread too widely and deeply for this ironic simplistic vignette to happen.

 

Let me start by briefly going over what I think are some of the causes of our societal addiction to sexual harassment. I think this is important because without understanding the root causes of a problem, not understanding how it came about and what supports it, all attempts to deal with it will work only by chance, with many being ineffective efforts and others actually creating greater harm. This is going to happen anyway, but knowledge and understanding will reduce the mistakes and increase the effectiveness of our actions moving forwards.

 

I do not intend to go into this in any sort of depth. For one, I am already going to bust my self imposed limit of keeping these to 1000 words or so. But, also, to do any sort of proper analysis would take much more knowledge and much more time than I have, and would take many thousands of words. I am, instead, just presenting some ideas of my own for consideration.

 

The first of these is that one of the main roots of sexual harassment lies in the idea of power coupled with the ideas of the proper roles of men and women in society.

 

Libby Ann, in her excellent blog “Child Brides, Teenage Sluts, and Roy Moore”, hits at some of this in discussing the views and attitudes of some conservative evangelical Christians.  Simplistically put (read her blog for a fuller discussion on this) the roots lie in this groups’ ideas of the proper role for men and women.

 

Men are meant to support and protect women. Women are meant to be submissive and obey men. To be supportive and able to protect their family, men need to be older and well established financially.  Women though need to know how to cook and clean house, bear and raise children, and be submissive; something a woman can do as a girl of 13.

 

What is interesting here is that this idea of the proper roles of men and women was at one time the dominant one in our society.  It has only been in recent times that a new ideal has taken hold and become the dominant view of most of society – that of a woman being the equal of a man, due the same rights, respect, and opportunities as a man.  Something that, even when disagreeing on particular situations, is usually given at least lip service by all sides.

 

However, it is important to note that first, this change of ideals is not uniform, and the understanding of how this new ideal works in specific situations varies considerably.

 

Second, although ideals may have changed, attitudes have lagged.  As is usual.

 

And third, that all progress also generates a push to not only stop but to go back to the way things were before, or at least as they were perceived as being.  Currently we have started living through such a dark period.

 

Which makes the light being shone by these women willing to speak up during our time of moral eclipse even more amazing.  During this time when, for whatever reason – ignorance, fear, denial, greed – we as a society are no longer concerned and working towards creating a more just society these women are speaking up, often at personal risk.

 

I only hope that even though mistakes will occur, tensions created, people hurt, and society roiled, that these and more women continue to speak up, because there are many more women as the Me Too movement showed.  Continue to shine not only to just limit the darkness but to reverse it.

 

This is a time for women when, like so many other issues such as racial discrimination, many point to laws passed and progress made and say no more needs to be done. And too many then go on to say too much has been done, and start darkening people’s lives.  In doing so they ignore that in actuality not enough has been done.  In fact, only the easy parts have been taken care of, and those imperfectly.

 

Shine on through the storm.

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So often I hear people say to stand firm on your principles.  As I have gotten older and thought about this, and had my thinking influenced by several conversations with several people and by watching current events and reading of past events, I have come to the belief that principles are not for standing upon.  They are for pointing a direction.

Too often when a person takes a firm stand on principle they wind up building a wall instead. And the problem with walls is that they actually can keep you from going anywhere, especially forward. They fence you in.

 

In fact, I think most of the times, the great majority of the times, that standing firmly on your principles can be the worst thing that can be done; that there are instead many times when a compromise, even an evil one, can be the right thing to do.

 

For a grand example of this, let me use something from the history of the United States, the creation of our Constitution.  The compromise was called the three – fifths compromise. This compromise  not only allowed slavery to continue to exist, but gave the southern slave states more power in the House and in Presidential elections.

 

The three –fifths compromise came about due to a heated disagreement on who to count for the census. This was important because the population of a state determined how many representatives it would have, and also how many electors a state has for presidential elections.   The Southern States wanted to count their slaves as part of the census.  Those opposed to slavery, and the northern states, did not want to count the slaves as they felt that would make the slave states too powerful (and I note the irony here that those against slavery wanted to have slaves not even count as being a person).  The compromise that was agreed to was that slaves would count as three-fifths of a free citizen.  Which still gave the southern slave states a great deal of power within the federal government.  Because of this the southern slave states were dominant for most of the pre-Civil War United State.   Something that can be seen in the fact that ten of the first 16 Presidents (all the Presidents before Lincoln) were from Southern States.

 

Now consider the principle of “All men are created equal”. No one at our Constitutional Convention stood up firmly for that principle. In fact, they gave way and made what I would characterize as an evil compromise (I will note that those opposed to slavery argued for slaves not being counted for the census in order to reduce the power of the Southern states).  They agreed to continue the belief and practice of treating some people as nothing more than property and, even worse, gave those with the greatest interest in promoting this belief and practice the means to continue it.

 

 

Why did those who opposed slavery agree to this compromise?  They did so because they hoped that a United States would one day be able to resolve the issue of slavery, and end it.  In other words, they hoped that more good would result from a United States than from there not being one. Because without this compromise the United States would not have existed.

 

 

And I would say that history proved them right in making this compromise, in not standing firmly on principle.  Why?  Because if they had not, if they had not made this evil compromise, I do not think slavery would have been abolished in North America until the 20th century at best. And once abolished those states that did abolish it in the 20th century instead of the middle 19th would still be going through their version of Jim Crow or worse.

 

Before going further let me acknowledge the complexities and difficulties in predicting what might have been. Let me also say that I am giving a very simplified version of what could have happened in order to try to keep this blog as close to 1000 words as possible.  Just to give some of those complexities, the United States could have broken down into three, four or more separate countries each going their own way and pursuing their own interests, with all the resulting conflicts, alliances, rivalries and wars attached to doing so. Some may have even become part of the British Empire again.  That’s not even considering the effect of several individual countries trying to expand westward.

 

But, in order to keep this short, I am not going to try to cover all of those aspects. Instead, I want to focus on just one simple part of this that illustrates what I am saying  about principle and compromise.

 

Consider this: if the United States had not formed there would have been at least two separate countries formed – the Northern States that would have abolished slavery and the Southern States that had already made slavery an integral part of their society and economy.

 

Consider also that the Northern States and President Lincoln did not go to war with the Southern States to abolish slavery, but to preserve the Union.  If there were no union to preserve, there would have been no war.  There would have been no war that resulted in abolishing slavery in North America in the 1860s.

 

 

There are two reasons to make evil compromises.  One is because all the other options are even more evil.  The other is that that compromise has the potential to lead to a good, a potential that the other options do not have.   In this example, I think most of the founders who were strongly against slavery – such as Alexander Hamilton – made this compromise not only because they believed that a United States with slavery was better than numerous countries in conflict, many of which would also have slavery as an institution, but because they believed that a United States would be better poised to eventually eliminate slavery – although they did not know how.

 

So, they made their evil compromise instead of firmly standing on principles. And then they hoped, they prayed, and they worked to make that hope come true.  Something that would not have been as possible, or as quickly possible, had they stood firmly on principle.

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I see in the news that the Trump administration’s Health and Human Services is about to promote the pro-life belief that life begins at conception.  However, I cannot help but wonder if they have thought this out all the way.  I mean, if they had, they would realize that “life begins at conception” is way too liberal. Science, after all, tells us that both sperm and eggs are alive too.  And the Bible tells us that God knew us before we had even formed in the womb. In other words, life instead of starting at conception, is started before conception.

I have heard many religious groups, the same ones who Trump wants to allow full reign on imposing their morals on the country, citing Jeremiah 1:5 for their pro-life beliefs.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Now, it seems to me that if you are going to use this verse as a Biblical justification for being against abortion then you are also going to have to go much further than merely picketing abortion clinics and passing laws against abortion.  Much, much further. After all, before being “formed in the womb” you were an egg and a sperm.

If you are for life and take this verse seriously as a justification for being against abortion then you must also start a campaign to save the sperm and eggs that are being murdered in their millions every day.

After all, since God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb then that means he knew and had selected which sperm was going to unite with which egg to form Jeremiah.  If this verse then is the basis for being against abortion it is only logical to then be against losing sperm and eggs.  After all who knows what God has planned for each individual sperm and egg that was lost.  A man irresponsibly spilling his seed or a woman who menstruates recklessly need to be stopped and stopped now.

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Obviously this is going to change things quite a bit.  For one thing the Catholic Church is far too weak and wishy-washy in their stance against birth control.  Not only should embryos and fetuses be saved but sperm and eggs need to be saved too.  It is, after all, Biblical – from God to us.

Now, in order to save the sperm and eggs the following, as I see it, will have to be done:

1)     All males past the age of puberty would have to wear sperm catchers while they sleep lest they have a nocturnal emission.  Should they have one it will have to be immediately put in the refrigerator until it can be safely and quickly transported to an appropriate Sperm Collection Hospital.

2)    Males with hair triggers will be required to always wear a sperm catcher.

3)    Immediately after intercourse the insides of a woman’s vagina and uterus would have to be swabbed and any excess sperm saved.  Again this would have to be put in the refrigerator until transport to the Sperm Collection Hospital.

4)    If the couple engages in either oral or anal sex the man would again have to wear the sperm collector just as he does during sleep.  Those men with hair triggers who would be required to always have wear sperm collectors would have an advantage in that no annoying interruptions would occur during sex play.

5)    Women would have to wear egg catchers during their menstrual period to collect the eggs that would otherwise be lost.  Like the males these would have to be refrigerated and then safely and quickly transported to an Egg Collection Hospital.

6)    Probably both the Sperm Collection Hospital and the Egg Collection Hospital should be physically connected in some manner since eventually both egg and sperm would have to be united to form a new baby.

7)    Women would also have to wear egg catchers when they urinate – especially after having engaged in intercourse.  Scientists have been finding that there are many fertilized eggs that do not implant and are lost when peeing.  After being caught the same procedures are followed in regards to storage and transport.

8)    Of course laws would have to be passed to ensure that men and women followed these common sense Ultra Pro Life practices.

9)    Since we are talking about human lives here and a Biblical directive, a well funded crash research and development program needs to be initiated to resolve some rather pressing problems and issues.

  1. Since there are roughly 6 to 10 million sperm produced during each ejaculation and each woman only produces about 400 eggs during her lifetime it is obvious that there is going to be much more sperm than there are eggs.  Because of this we are going to have to develop an artificial egg in order not to let any sperm go to waste and thus spoil God’s plan.
  2. Since the number of sperm vastly outnumbers the number of eggs it is obvious that sperm will be driving how many babies will be born.  And of course how many women will be needed to incubate the united sperm and egg.
  3. In doing a bit of research I find that men between the ages of 20 to 29 ejaculate on average 15 times a month.  That number (sadly) declines by age 80 to an average of 5 ejaculations a month.
  4. According to the 2007 census there are over 19 million men in the United States falling into the 20 to 29 age range.  At 15 ejaculations per month that means there are 285 billion ejaculations per month.  Over a 10 month period (have to allow a woman at least one month recovery between pregnancies) we will need 2,850,000,000,000 women to host all of that sperm.  And that is just sperm from the 20 to 29 age range.  The number obviously becomes much higher when you factor in all of the post puberty males; both those younger than 20 and older than 29.
  5. There are only 143.5 million women in the United States of all ages from 0 to death.    Obviously we have a problem with not enough women for all of this sperm.
  6. I believe that in order to correct this several actions will have to be taken:
    1. We need to find a way to shorten the gestation period from 9 months to 4 months.  This will allow for a quicker turnaround of pregnancies.
    2. We need to find a way to allow pre-pubescent girls to become pregnant too.  And of course we would need to have all women, regardless of how old they are – including post menopausal women – being sperm hosts.
    3. We will have to freely allow immigration of single or separated women from other countries.
    4. We should immediately start research on how to create an artificial woman who can host sperm and produce babies.  Preferably of the Stepford type – the wives that is.

Now I know that some unthinking person is going to ask why not just make all males past the age of puberty take some sort of medication to prevent erections and in that manner control the killing of sperm.  That way we can limit the living sperm to the numbers of available women.  I am sure that some especially vindictive and short sighted women who hate God might even suggest electro-shock aversion treatment instead of chemicals as a way to prevent erections.

However this would be wrong.

For just as the Bible tells us to save the sperm and eggs so too does it tell us to go forth and multiply.  And since God gave us all it is up to us to give God all we can to fulfill his commandments… no matter how difficult it seems.

So this suggestion is a no go.  And that’s not even considering the other bits in the Bible about woman being the helper of the man and having to bear the pain of childbirth.

Now I know that this may seem radical to some, but is it really?  After all we are talking about human life here.  It doesn’t matter that they, the sperm and the egg, are small and do not look like us.  Life is life and God knows it all.

God said so when he spoke to Jeremiah.

 

 

Note: This is a revision and update of a blog I originally posted on October 4, 2011.

 

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