Category: "Commentary"

It's Easier to Grow a Pair Yourself Than to Try to Castrate Everyone Else

I've been inspired to write again by this video. To save you the trouble, it's a rant by a vape store clerk against a patron who happens to be wearing Trump paraphernalia.

Maybe this millenial was just having a bad day, but I'm thinking a part of this was growing up in a bubble wrapped world where he was never actually challenged to challenge his ideas. Instead, someone told him the way it's supposed to be, and he believed it, and when his world view got challenged, he cracked.

The thing is it should have been challenged a long time ago. It's a scary world out there, and he should know that already. He should know other people think differently, and that this is actually good for the world.

If he'd learned this, his encounter might have looked something like this;

Clerk; I think Trump's a dick.
Customer; Okay. Can I have some Naked Vape Juice, Strawberry, in the 6mg?
Clerk; Yeah sure. That'll be . . .

You have to wonder about the world this person grew up in. It's like his “safe space” was violated by someone espousing a differing world view.

But unfortunately, I think this person represents something. He learned somewhere that it's unacceptable to think a certain way, and that he should be protected from it.

The problem is sometimes people in positions of authority, with a little more art than this dope, think the same way. It could be a boss, or a university professor. Then the dynamic changes, and things get really ugly.

Instead of proudly walking in with a Trump pin, people begin to censor themselves. In either case, it's people trying to bully others out of expressing their ideas.

There are two problems with this. One, it breeds an underground world of seething resentment as the camps start to fall into their own echo chambers and start to build narratives about the other.

Two, it shrinks the space in which people can grow and become great.

Three, it makes the world a lot less fun.

And last, it sets up another slippery slope towards thought police, fascism, communism, socialism and unfortunately, war.

More Bullying

I think the answer is simple. Let kids out on the streets and playgrounds without adult supervision. Get that there is a lot to be learned from having your lunch money stolen, having your “best friend” betray you, from having to negotiate the rules of playground games with other people of similar, or even more, power, from learning to cooperate, or get when bad some bad s--- is about to go down and knowing how to get away, or sweet-talking the people you disagree with, or ganging up against a bully.

It seems - to me anyway - that one bloody nose early on would go a long way in inoculating children like this against a world of imaginary hurt and aggression later on.

In the end, all I hope is that people really get what we learned on the playground so long ago, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Tolerance Doesn't End at My Accepting You.

It seems ridiculous to even address it. For me, and so many others, it's just obvious. It's not tolerance unless you actually have to tolerate something. So let's start with a definitiion:

tolerate /ˈtɑːləˌreɪt/ verb

tolerates; tolerated; tolerating

[+ object]

1 : to allow (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) to exist, happen, or be done

  • Our teacher will not tolerate bad grammar.
  • Racist or sexist behavior will not be tolerated.
  • I can't tolerate that noise.
  • The government cannot tolerate lawlessness.
  • How can you tolerate such laziness?

2 : to experience (something harmful or unpleasant) without being harmed

  • These plants tolerate drought well.

3 : to accept the feelings, behavior, or beliefs of (someone)

  • I don't like my boss, but I tolerate him.

If you like black (and you can substitute here hispanic, muslim, white, progressive, women, gay, young, . . . ) people, and you think everyone else should too, you are not being tolerant. If you try to impose your particular bias for black people upon others, especially if it is to show how good you are, you are not calling for tolerance. This is instead virtue signalling, “the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one's good character or the moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue.”

And when you demand special treatment for a group based on some similar characteristic, you are calling for discrimination:

discrimination /dɪˌskrɪməˈneɪʃən/ noun

plural discriminations

1 [noncount] : the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people

2 [noncount] formal

a : the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not

b : the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing

And the thing is we do discriminate, and that's not a bad thing. We choose our friends based on certain characteristics. We choose our favorite ball team. We choose to hang with people who have the same interests. In fact, our ability to discriminate in this matter is a right enshrined in our constitution as “freedom of association.”

When discrimination is wrong is when we unfairly treat a person or group differently, or afford different rights to a person because of his membership in a particular group.

And it's certainly not discrimination when you are complaining that you are not getting your way. And this is exactly where Ms. Clinton went wrong this week, with her remarks that the time for civility is over. For her, President Trump is the Chief Deplorable, and something not to be tolerated. And President Trump also crosses the line, a lot.

It seems indeed we've taken intolerance to a new level. It now appears de rigueur to be intolerant of other's intolerance, and this is taking discrimination to an unacceptable place. It is the place that demonization starts to occur.

It is the place we stop seeing the other as someone who wants the same thing, but has different ideas about getting there, and start seeing him as monster who wants to destroy “our” way of life. It is the place of civil war.

And Ms. Clinton perhaps would argue that it is not unfair to treat people to whom she ascribes a certain value system differently, that this is the good kind of discrimination.

But can you then claim to tolerate? If it's not a stretch for you to “to allow to exist, happen, or be done,” you are not tolerating.

And that is the basest level of a civil society. If we want to thrive, we should be taking on a much bigger context, like maybe that I have something to learn from this person across from me.

Such an attitude might actually lead us somewhere. Maybe more of us should try it out.

Fascism: The Myth of a Kinder, Fairer America

Fascism: The Myth of a Kinder, Fairer America

unsplash-logoToa Heftiba

Donald Trump raised some eyebrows recently. He pissed off the rest of the G7 and then went and met with tyrant Kim Jong Un. CNN says we should worry, a lot.

Why exactly? Because he is an autocrat. He “conjure[s] a feeling of victimhood around himself, his followers and the nation.” According to Dr. “Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University, . . . the idea of victimhood is an essential component of the methodology of many autocrats.” Now it might be fair if CNN disclosed its quite cozy relationship with this NYU professor, but why muddy up a good meme with admissions of bias.

She might be right. President Trump might have autocratic tendencies, but her political analysis seems to start and stop there.

When, in this day and age, you can only see fascism on one side of the political spectrum, you might want to look in the mirror and see if that appellation applies likewise to yourself.

On what record was President Obama elected. He was black, but if you suggest that—particularly in a blue state–you are immediately labeled a racist.

On what did Bernie run? He at least had a record, but he was as populist as Donald Trump, the champion of the 99% who were/are the victims of the 1%.

It is our luck that he was maneuvered out of his position by another power-hungry professional victim, who seems to blame everyone but herself for her 2016 loss. Hillary holds her own with the 99%: Column

Our Kind of Fascism is Better than Yours

The call seems to be to a kinder, fairer, more sympathetic culture, but you don't even need to scratch the surface to see a “culture of victimhood” instead:

  • Antifa, asserting to be left,wears masks and carries weapons in an attempt to silence those it doesn't like.
  • A day of absence turns into a season of rage, costing a celebrated, left-leaning Biology professor, Dr. Bret Weinstein, his job. New York Times: When the Left Turns on Its Own.
  • If a person suggest that All Lives Matter, he is committing a “racial microagression.”
  • When Google engineer James Damore actually shares his thoughts in an invited conversation on diversity policies, he is fired.
  • Employers are counseled to police offensive opinions. Post-modernists give up the reasonable person standard and tell us that we must judge this from the subjective feelings of the person who claims offense, especially when it is in the name of her status or race or sexual proclivity.
  • Safe Spaces:
    College Republicans Kicked Out of Coffee Shop Over MAGA Hats

And while you may claim that these do not all represent outrages of the left, you don't exactly see the Democrats drawing a line as to what is not acceptable in their name. Perhaps they could start by declaring their outrage against calls to impeach President Trump just because he is Donald Trump.

The problem is that every time someone tries to ensure one safe space by shutting down the opinions of another, that other is arguably made to feel unsafe.

And it's the assertion of the right to that safety that is fascist. When only one opinion is correct, or when I am not allowed an opinion because I am white, or male, or Jewish, I am oppressed.

We Have No Right to be Free from Offense

It's just not in the constitution. Unfortunately, too many think it should be a part of our law, and in some places it is, like Canada.

People are mean. People are cruel. People are motivated by hate and jealousy. People have bad ideas. But trying to suppress thoughts has never made them go away. It's made us into a nation of smiles and daggers. It seems there are few places where people still feel free to mouth an opinion counter to the local orthodoxy.

Fortunately, this is mostly in words. And CNN is right to point out that fascism is preceded by enrollment into a culture of victimhood. But CNN ignores the bigger picture. Both sides are fighting to show how they are the bigger victim.

In the US, at the moment, the right is in ascendancy. But let's look a moment to Canada, where it seems the left is. Trudeau and Trump are right to hate each other. They are both fighting for the same space. If you don't know it yet, the thought police are out in full-force in Canada. Just check out bill C-16 (and ask why CNN has not reported on this fascist tidbit).

And while both seem to celebrate their own righteousness, we all know that the truly righteous don't need to prove it to anyone.

Personal Responsibility

But there is another possible position. We stop competing for who is the bigger victim, and claim responsibility for our own lives and choices. We can't make people nice. But we can let them spin their wheels to see what idiots they are. But we don't, and that's why we are living in this Trumpian backlash.

We are literally living in the best of times.
Bill Gates: My new favorite book of all time. We have an epidemic of obesity. We have an opioid epidemic. We have an epidemic of unemployable college graduates. And instead of getting off our asses and doing something about it, we just demand more. Perhaps the best way to drain the swamp is to stop looking to it for our support. And whlle it's scary to take the first few steps on your own, maybe the best thing we could hope for is for our politicians to turn off the spigot. When we've got nothing to fight for, we lose our fight.

Maybe the best guarantee against our “fascist” tendencies would be to get out of our own way, to give ourselves permission to win or fail on our own, to know ourselves as people who can speak freely, and learn from each other.

And maybe it takes a new party, the people in the middle who believe in you, and who know that when you have the space to take care of yourself, the rest will take care of itself.

And maybe it just takes a stand, a commitment to not let ourselves by cowed by the likes of of Trump, or Trudeau, or any governing “orthodoxy.” Maybe our job is to determine our own meaning, and our means of living into it. It's the only thing that has ever made a difference anyway.

Feeding the Goose 2018

Feeding the Goose 2018

unsplash-logoMartin Pegg

It's time to feed the goose again. Jim Rohn suggests this is a good way of looking at our tax burden. It's the taxes we pay that provide the structure we have to generate the immense wealth that we do in America.

If you want the golden eggs, you must feed the goose.

And I have no problem with this as far as it goes. But we're feeding that goose to pay a debt. $64,000 a person. This is twice the median income for full time workers in the US, but we only have 126 million of those.

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Let the Dreamers Dream

Let the Dreamers Dream

unsplash-logoNitish Meena

It's not the Dreamers, It's the Dream

The wall is bullshit. The problem is not the wall. The problem is that we don't want to pay for you to dream.

The problem is the New Deal. The problem is narratives of victimhood and subsequent entitlement.

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