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Archive for the ‘Morality’ Category

I was planning to do a blog on an entirely different topic.  Instead though, due to several conversations I have had recently,  I am doing a follow up on my last blog The Shame of the United States.

When talking to a person who is supporting the new Trump policy of separating families at the border, it is important to remember the facts.  Always.  Because you will have to reference them time after time after time.

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Fact 1:  There is no law requiring that those stopped for illegally crossing the border have to have their children taken from them.

Fact 2:  No President, going back at least as far as President Eisenhower, has ever promoted or tried to carry out a policy of separating families crossing the border illegally.

Fact 3: Not all crimes carry the same penalties.  Jaywalking and a mugging, for example, are both crimes, but not the same penalty.

Fact 4: Those crossing and then turning themselves in immediately to a border agent are not breaking the law.  They are instead following one of the procedures for asking for asylum.

  • Fact 4a. Yes, despite what the director of Homeland Security may have said, they are separating the children from their family for these asylum seekers too.

It is also important to remember the facts that some who are also outrages by this policy ignore.

Fact 5: The photo of children in orange prison jumpsuits is not of the immigrant children.  Instead, it first showed up as a photograph in an article about schools and prisons and was intended to make the point that more prisons are being built than schools in the United States.

Fact 6: None of the photos of children in wire cages are recent.  Or, at least none that I have found have been.  Most are from 2014. Now, we do have eyewitness accounts of the GettyImages_458329272conditions where many children are being held, and those eyewitnesses say that the 2014 pictures are accurate today too.  However, so far, none of these facilities have allowed photographs to be taken.

 

So, now we have our facts.  Facts that we will use to defend our view that this policy is immoral. The question becomes then, what argument are we defending it from?

 

From what I can see, all the arguments from those defending taking children from their parents are variations of “It is against the law” or “they broke the law”. Often these are used in conjunction with the observation that when we arrest American citizens and cart them off to jail their children are separated from their parents too.  So, the argument goes, why is it then immoral with illegal immigrants.

There are several possible responses that could be given.  One of them is to present Fact 4, that we have an asylum process in place in which immigrants seeking asylum immediately present themselves to a border patrol agent and claim asylum.  These people are not breaking the law.  They are following it. Yet they are still being separated from their children.

This can then be followed up with Fact 3, not all crimes carry the same penalties.  For example, you are not going to arrest and send someone to prison for speeding whereas you will for someone who commits armed robbery.  Both broke the law, but to give both the same punishment would be unjust.

In the case of illegally crossing the border, it is a misdemeanor in most cases. This then leads you to Fact 1, there is no law requiring that parents be separated from their children.  None. Zilch.  Legally it can be done, but it is not required by law.  In fact, historically it has not happened.

And this is where Fact 2, no president, no administration, going back to at least the time of President Eisenhower, and probably before, has ever carried out a deliberate policy of separating families who crossed the border illegally.    Now, suddenly we are.   Don’t give me legal requirement or historical precedent as justification because neither are.  Both are against this policy.

Also, there is a difference between separating a parent from child of  citizens with that of an illegal immigrant.  Those who are here usually have family and friends here who can take care of their children.  Illegals, not so much.  Those who live here are used to this culture, the food, the customs, the language.  With the illegal immigrants, their children are living among strangers in a land very strange to them. They are living among strangers speaking a different language, eating different foods, and dealing with  different customs. A scary place for anyone, but more so to a seven year old child without their parent.

Now, here are some tips on other strategies that will be employed in defending the indefensible.

They might try to bring up those pictures of children in cages and point out that these were taken during President Obama’s administration.  They then will try to ignore the moral problems of doing this today by saying “why didn’t you protest about these then, you are a hypocrite”.

Of course, whether I am a hypocrite or not really has no bearing on whether this is a moral policy or not.  It is a separate question. A separate issue. However, it is one that they love to employ to change the subject and divert attention.

However,  they are correct about when these pictures of children in cages were taken.  Yes, those pictures were taken during President Obama’s  watch.  However, they occurred because there was a flood of unaccompanied minors coming up from Central America. Minors with no family, no parent with them. So many that they totally overwhelmed the system.   In other words, it was not the result of a deliberate policy of separation.  And it was something Obama’s administration was working on to correct.

Along with this might be an attempt to show that some of President Obama’s immigration also resulted in separating families.  And that too would be true.  Again though, this separation was not the result of a deliberate policy but rather it was an unintended side effect in some cases.  And one that did not result in nearly as many separated families as what Trump’s policies are purposely creating.

And again, just like the hypocrite argument, how does what President Obama did or did not do effect whether this policy today is moral?  Does President Obama’s actions define morality and what is right?  No.  Again, separate issue.

5472Another important fact to be kept in mind is that our knowledge that the separation of the children of those crossing our borders from their families is what is immoral. Whether children are being put in these cages or not, whether they are being shipped in freight trains or not, whether they are being made to wear orange jumpsuits or not, is purely of secondary importance.  The main issue is that this policy of separating families needlessly like this is wrong and immoral.  This holds true whether the children are being detained in nice homes with nice people or whether they are being kept in cages.

Also, underlying this whole defense that these people were breaking the law is the assumption that all laws are moral. We are stating that this action is immoral. That holds true whether it is legal or not.

A final thought on this issue. We have not had a policy of separating children from their parents for those crossing our borders illegally or requesting asylum before, but there have been two times in our past when we did have a policy of separating children from their parents.

One of those times is with many of the Native American tribes. We would forcibly take children from their families and send them to “Indian Residential Schools” where they would be immersed in Euro-American culture, given normal haircuts, forbidden to speak their native language, and their name taken away and given a new normal name.  These schools were also known as American Indian Boarding Schools.  But, a rose by any other name…..

This black mark on our history started in the 1870s.  It did not end until the 1970s.  Looking back over the last two sentences, I hope those that read this consider this a black mark and stain upon our history.  If not, then you have a serious problem with your sense of morality and should start to work on that immediately in order to become a decent human being.

 

The other time when we have taken children from their parents was during the time of slavery.  This was done casually and without thought. Doing so was common.  A result of this can be seen in the nations newspapers after the Civil War. Those papers were flooded with ads from mothers, fathers, children seeking their loved ones.  Such as these one below.

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And now, today, we are adding to our history. In addition to the separation of children from families from the Native Americans, and from black slaves, we now get to add a new chapter in our history – taking children from those crossing our borders.  I believe that not only do most Americans now find it wrong and immoral and abhorrent, so too will history judge it to be so.

 

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

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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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I just recently came across this blog that perfectly highlights one of the reasons I eventually became an atheist – the philosophical and moral problems in believing in an omniscient, omnipotent, moral being, especially one who is concerned about our welfare and well being.

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In “No This Isn’t All Part of God’s Plan So Lets Stop Blaming It on Him”, by Dr. Benjamin L Corey, Dr. Corey tries to salvage the moral part of that description of God.  Unstated, and, perhaps, unrecognized, is that he does so at the expense of an idea of a God being all knowing and all powerful.

Dr. Corey starts off by discussing why he has a problem with those who, in the face of a tragic loss, say it is all part of God’s plan.  This bit here does a good job of summarizing this problem:

Not only does that line fail to bring me comfort, it also seems to impugn God’s character. The idea that a loving God would have a “plan” that involved wiping out thousands in earthquakes and tsunamis, giving people cancer, parents losing children, car accidents, trauma, abuse, and all manner of pain and suffering, is an insane idea.

Think about it: if this is all “according to God’s plan” and every life event is being directed and controlled by him, he’s really bad at making plans.

In some of my saddest seasons of loss, people have come along side of me and said, “Well, we’ll never really understand God’s plan.”

And every time I hear it, through my tears and suffocating sadness I just want to reply, “No shit, Sherlock.” How could a plan that involves so much heartache be understood?

………

Sometimes we’ll say God planned the suffering for our benefit. Other times we’ll be tricked into believing that God planned the suffering to chastise us for not measuring up. Yet, no matter how we try to rationalize or explain it, we end up at the same spot: if this is all part of God’s plan, God is the author and cause of evil and suffering

 

I agree with Dr. Corey on this. I have never understood how a good God could cause evil and suffering and still be considered a good God. However, I will say that the Old Testament writers had no problem in doing so.  God afflicted Saul with madness. He hardened the pharoah’s heart. He sent plagues to punish. He sent disasters to punish. As with Job, God could take away a spouse, children, wealth and home and health…and yet was still good and moral.

I believe that there were three reasons that these ancient writers thought this.  One was the mystery bit that God hits Job with at the end – were you there when I made the morning, shut the door to the seas, laid the foundation of the earth.  In other words, God is so great and we so small that we will never be able to understand his reasons. But, take his word for it, he is a Good God.

Another is that many ancients believed that those who suffered somehow deserved it. That is still another answer that many still believe, although I do not think as many as in these ancient times (during early Christianity, doctors did not look for physical causes of diseases, but, instead, looked for how that person had sinned and so called down this affliction from God, and what they could do to appease God – it is one reason that Muslim doctors became the more trusted.)

Finally, I think that the ancients believed that whoever had the power had the right to say what was good and what was wrong.  A more primitive version of the modern position that God is morality.

Over time though, societies and cultures grew and changed.  Ideas were tested and ideas discarded.  Among those were ideas about morality.  Today, the idea of might makes right is abhorrent for most people.  And the idea that all people who suffer deserve it is likewise seen by most as absurd (birth defects anyone).

Which leaves only the mystery one still surviving – that God has a reason that would make what seems evil into good and right. But, unfortunately, we are too limited in our understanding to ever be able to see this.

 

Dr. Corey quite rightly rejects this. But, in doing so he has also rejected the ideas of an all knowing and all powerful God, and either doesn’t realize it or chooses not to acknowledge this.  Here is his answer to the problem of evil and a moral God.

 

Instead, when we acknowledge that really hard and sad life events did not come from the hand of God, and were not in any way planned by or ordained by God, I believe we’re invited to get to know a God who joins in our suffering instead of causing it.

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Instead of trying to rationalize our suffering as being from the hand of God– thus making God an agent to be petrified of instead of a creator to be loved, I think we should be quicker to acknowledge that, no, a lot of what we experience in life isn’t God’s plan at all.

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Because you see, if it’s outside of God’s heart and desires, God grieves that loss and brokenness with us– because it’s his hopes and dreams for our lives that end up getting smashed as well.

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Instead of this idea of God having a master plan that meticulously dictates and controls what happens in our lives (often referred to a blueprint theology), I believe that God has hopes, dreams, and desires for our stories. When those things come true, he rejoices and celebrates with us.

But when those hopes and dreams get smashed to bits, instead of saying “Oh, by the way– I actually did that,” I believe God sits in the dark and mourns those broken dreams with us.

And when the tears have subsided long enough to begin to hear his voice clearly, I’m convinced he’s also whispering, “And I know this can’t replace your loss, but when you’re ready I’d love to partner with you to try to make something good come out of all this.”

 

First off, notice that God no longer knows what is going to happen: “…his hopes and dreams for our lives that end up getting smashed as well” and “were not in any way planned or ordained by God”.  In other words, God is not all knowing.

Next off, not all powerful.  God cannot stop these events from happening and once happened he cannot “replace your loss”.

So, Dr. Corey gets to keep the moral part of the descriptor of God, but at the expense of God not being all powerful and all knowing.  And that’s fine. If you want to define God like that then our discussion should be on how limited is God, and when do those limits approach describing a being who cannot be described as God any longer.

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And , truth to be told, if you want to have an all-powerful and all knowing God who does not care about morals and morality, I think you have a stronger case too.

 

Take your pick.

 

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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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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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I came across a post in Facebook the other day about the possibility of requiring car manufacturers to install some mechanism to keep children from being left in cars on hot days and dying. Instead of the praise I expected to see, the comments were dissing this – asking what about personal responsibility.

Okay. So I just saw on CNN a lawyer advocating to make it MANDATORY for car manufacturers to put a device in the car that reminds parents that they have children with them – so they won’t be left to die in a hot car.

Really?car seat

Is this what it has come down to? Passing the buck to the auto industry for parents to be responsible for their own children? I mean, am I missing something? Should I be more sympathetic to parents who “forget” about their children? Please tell me if I am missing something, because, I just don’t get it.

 

I don’t get it either….what on a person’s mind could be more important than taking their child out when they get out?

 

I hear they’re working on a device that reminds you when to poop! After all these years without it I know my life will change!

 

In reading these comments, it occurred to me how much suffering still exists in the name of “personal responsibility”.

Yes, I am like these commenters in that I find it hard to imagine forgetting your child   However, guess what? The unimaginable happens. So, are you going to let children continue to die or take actions to prevent it? As for personal responsibility – parents have thousands of decisions they make every day.  I do not think that something that aides parents in remembering their child is in the car seat is going to wind up taking all the responsibilities away from being a parent.  I imagine there are one or two other things that occur occasionally that a parent winds up being responsible for.  And even if it did take away all other responsibilities, keeping that personal responsibility would still come at too high a cost – a child’s life.

This same argument, that of what about individual responsibility,  is used in so many other areas of our life.  For example, a prominent one today is in regards to universal healthcare.

Shouldn’t people be responsible for getting their own healthcare? What ever happened to the idea of personal responsibility?

To put this in the proper perspective then, you who argue against universal healthcare on the basis of personal responsibility are OK with poor people or those who are just getting by going without healthcare, being sick and suffering, and dying sooner than those with healthcare; OK with children doing without needed medical care with the healthcareresult that they have both their physical and mental development harmed, and too often dying when they could have lived and thrived; OK with pregnant women not getting the needed prenatal and postnatal care with the result that we have the highest maternal death rate in the developed world, and, unlike every other developed nation, one that is rising; Ok with having an infant mortality rate that is worse than 27 other developed countries (about on a par with Serbia or Malaysia); OK with people going bankrupt trying to pay their or their loved ones medical bills.

You are OK with all of that and more, all in the name of personal responsibility?

Oh yes, it is indeed a carefree life under universal healthcare with no personal responsibilities or decisions to make.  Well, other than decisions on what to eat and how much to eat, how best to exercise or even to exercise, to smoke or not to smoke, when to go to the doctor and when not to, which doctor to go to, do you want to follow what they tell you or not, do you take all of your medicine, or do you go for alternative medicines, and the list goes on and on.  And, of course, that covers only decisions on health issues.

I don’t know, but it  seems to me that there is plenty of personal responsibility left. The only thing being taken away is the stress and worries caused by not being able to afford and get healthcare. And the pain and suffering and deaths of millions of men, women, and children.  And like saving the lives of children in car seats, I think this a good, a moral thing.

Too often the cry of personal responsibility is nothing more than an excuse to justify not taking personal responsibility for the good of our country, our society,  our neighbors, and, ultimately, our own enlightened self interests.

 

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