Thursday, July 22, 2021

Touching Base With My Readers


To My Readers:

This is a different kind of blog specifically written for my regular readers.  Many of you are aware of new posts via my newsletter.  Nothing is changing for those readers.  They'll still receive my newsletter in their inbox whenever I post an update on any of my three blogs (Blogito Ergo Sum, On My Plate, and Musings From The Christian Left).

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|Subject: Covid-19 | Rights to PNG secured from FAVPNG Premium |
Now, this is a current events blog, so let me ask a question.

Science tells us we won't be out from under the menace of COVID-19 until %70 of the global population has been vaccinated, yet many people claim they have the right as an individual to refuse the vaccine. At what point do the needs of society eclipse the rights of the individual? Can we force people to be vaccinated?

Monday, June 28, 2021

Disagreement Doesn’t Necessarily Equal Stupidity


I seem to be writing about humanity's deficits of character lately.  While I don't claim to be a moral authority, in any way, I've noticed some trends, lately, which really bother me.  Over on my Liberal Christian blog I just wrote about our willingness to hate, and this piece feels like a companion to it.  We have a bad habit, me included, which leads to division within society.  When we take a position, we tend to write off people who take the opposing viewpoint as being "stupid."

Publicly traded MEME
Perhaps the most relevant expression of this judgmental phenomenon involves COVID-19 vaccinations.

To vax, or not to vax, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of COVID-19, 
Or to take arms against possible contraction 
And by vaxing remove my mask... 

Personally, I'm tired of wearing a mask and having things closed, so I was eager to get the shot.  Some believe I'm gullible and stupid for obeying the government and medical community. 

On the flip side, my best friend, of twelve years, WILL NOT be vaccinated.  She doesn’t want to put something into her body, which she's not sure of.  Some people think that makes her stupid. 

I don't think either of us stupid. 

When I have trouble with my computer, I consult the experts at Geek Squad.  When I have a question about a recipe, I consult a cookbook written by experts.  And, when I have a question about my health I listen to medical experts, aka doctors.  It's what experts are for.   Thus, I believe a 70% vaccination rate is our best and only road back to normality, because that's what the experts are telling me.

I don't agree with my friend, but she has a point.  For obvious reasons, these vaccines were rushed to the public.   We don't know what the long term effects of these shots are.  For all we know, the "anti-vaxxers" will be laughing, in five years, when those of us who took the shots start growing third eyes and craving salt.  I don't think it'll happen, but I can’t say people are stupid for being skittish.

Writing "the other side" off as stupid, and dismissing their point of view as being stupid, it makes it easy to devalue the people with that point of view.  It's much easier to hate a person once we've devalued them. 

Acknowledging the validity of another point of view isn't the same as agreeing with it.  A person can understand another point of view while holding onto their own.  

Friday, May 21, 2021

Black Businesses Matter

I pride myself on being fairly well informed.  I feel good that I can intelligently discuss current events, and often fantasize about having tête-à-têtes with the likes of Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, or Ron Wyden.  Thus, I was taken aback when I received an email message from a reader, identifying themselves only as "Virgy."  The reader wanted to know why I hadn’t done more to shine a light on the plight of black-owned businesses during the era of the pandemic. 
|Subject: Oakland business destroyed during George Floyd riots |
| Date: 05/29/2020 | Photographer: Daniel Arauz |
| This image is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 |

Being a middle-aged suburban white man, I'd assumed Covid-19 had brought disaster to small businesses across the board.  However, I wasn't taking a few factors into account. 

Descended from slaves unpaid for their work, black families haven't been able to inherit wealth and property from generation to generation, creating an income disparity between white & black households. From 1992 to 2006 the income disparity between white & black households grew from $100,000 to $154,000.  On average, this statistic leaves black owners of small businesses less of a post pandemic safety net.

Of course, the pandemic didn't happen inside of a vacuum.  2020 saw multiple Black Lives Matter protests erupt into destructive riots, many of which occurred in justifiably enraged black neighborhoods.  Said uprisings resulted in heavily damaging, if not outright destroying, multiple already struggling black-owned businesses.

Covid-19 and the riots have hurt most of us to one degree or another.  Thus, it's easy for some of us to forget that some people have been hit worse than we were.  If you're like me, you can only donate to so many good causes and still buy groceries.   Fortunately, Virgy sent me a link to a blog entry with links to 181 Black-Owned Businesses.  Rather than donating to charity, utilizing some of these businesses may allow you to make a difference by spending money you were going to spend anyway. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Questions Of Rights

Major League Baseball has chosen to relocate its 2021 All-Star Game and amateur player draft out of Atlanta in protest over Georgia’s new voting law. Conservative lawmakers, such as Senator Ted Kruz (R-TX), are crying foul, claiming the MLB is infringing on the State of Georgia’s First Amendment rights.

Such an infringement isn’t even possible. The First Amendment makes it unlawful for the government to curtail the speech of an individual or privately owned body. It says nothing, noooooothing, about not allowing a privately owned body’s reaction to a government action. One could even argue the MLB is doing exactly what we want responsible businesses to do.

For a completely unrelated reason closer to home, I’ve been doing considerable thinking about the right to speak lately.

Publicly traded MEME
Let me take a moment to assure you that I'm a nice man. Enlightened Christian morality is VERY IMPORTANT to me, and I go out of my way to be kind. That being said, I have a dark sense of humor which many people don't appreciate. In order to sate my appetite for dark (not racist) humor, I joined a Facebook group for dark humor. Interestingly, the group in question was created, and is moderated, by nurses as a way to blow off steam after work.

Said nurses fashioned their own rules against racist humor, sexist humor, and humor depicting child abuse. Yet, the group’s founder, and its moderators, are frequently afraid of being temporally, or permanently, being banned from Facebook as the result of a group member complaining about the humor.

As annoying as the situation is, I'm forced to admit this isn’t a First Amendment issue ether. Facebook, while used by most of the public, is a privately owned website. They charge nothing for use of the site. Thus, they can ban anyone for any reason. Facebook could ban people who wear yellow hats in their profile picture if they wanted to.

Of course, you have to wonder about someone who joins a group for dark humor then reports posts to Facebook because they are offended by the DARK HUMOR! I can't help but think of such people as either @$$holes who like to start trouble then sit back and watch the ensuing drama unfold, or bipolar nut cases.

As Americans, not only do we have the right to speak freely, but we have the right to not listen to anyone we want. Personally, I’m a die-hard liberal, so I don't belong to a group for fans of FOX NEWS. I let them have their own misinformed corner of cyber space, and I belong to groups of people who share my interests and/or views. It's what mature adults do.