Thursday, July 26, 2007

Freakonomics: Crime and Abortion

Last week I was in a conversation with my son-in-law and he pointed out that in the book, Freakonomics, there is a hypothesis that Roe v. Wade actually is responsible for the lower crime rate of these times.
Of course, this is a delicate matter to discuss and further, cause-effect in a hypothesis like that is bound to create controversy.
The website, The Ornery American, has this essay with this statement: the fetuses that were aborted, had they been born, would have become children who were statistically the most likely group to become criminals. Raised by single mothers, in poverty, with genes that might not provide them with much ability to foresee the longterm consequences of impulsive actions.
The author, Orson Scott Card, admits that what he is saying is tantamount to genocide: Purifying the race by preventing the birth of the class of people who are most likely to degrade the quality of life for the rest of us. So few would have dared even suggest such a thing in 1973; but a group of judges decided to perform this eugenics experiment on the American people, and now we're seeing the results.
Card refers to the book by Levitt and Dubner for the data on this. The data is there but the cause-effect of the facts can be debated, and Card offers his own opinion.
What I find interesting is that the right-wing of the political spectrum is often both anti-abortion and anti-crime. I wonder how many of them know that, according to data, the two go hand-in-hand?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Freedom of Speech in Peril: Tories Among Us

In my previous post we read of a 74-year-old man who was 'arrested' for selling 'Impeach Bush' buttons at a farmer's market. What happened to Freedom of Speech, the First Amendment to the Constitution. Dictators, kings, and other scoundrels fear it and suppress it mercilessly.

As a child hearing my teacher telling the story of the American Revolution, I would visualize those early papers in the Colonies nailed to lamp posts and trees which spoke of defying the king of England and his soldiers. Brave men nailing them, more brave authors. Sedition was the crime; death the sentence.

As we slide up the history time line a few hundred years to our day, we find curious Tories among the American populace these days. The Tory of the Revolutionary War days believed that the King's authority was supreme and superseded that of the Parliament. How interesting that today, here in 'the colonies,' that same argument continues.

Lately, many Americans are alarmed at the ever-expanding powers of the Executive Branch of our government. Many believe that the term, 'executive privilege,' is tantamount to limitless monarchical authority.

Some Americans are confused by the statements of President Bush, especially when he speaks of 'bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq.' Some ask: what kind of freedom, what type of democracy?

Some Americans are brave enough to publicly question the wisdom of the leaders, the President and Vice-President, the Congress. Many Americans, blinded by the fresh images of 9-11, cheered President Bush's preemptive invasion of Iraq back in March of 2003. They were misled by the propaganda that falsely linked Saddam Hussein to the attacks of September 11, 2001. There are still Americans who believe that.

Nonetheless, some Americans spoke out against such an invasion. I was one of them. And I was severely criticized for my speech. My phone rang off the hook after I had written a letter to the editor of The Blade questioning the wisdom of such an invasion. I was jeered and called un-American as I carried a 'No War' sign on street corners. Tories, indeed.

Apparently there are fewer and fewer Tories today, four years later, yet they have not all gone away. They wait in ambush in dark alleys and under the shrubs. They blindly follow authoritarian figures no matter where they are led. There must be some sort of satisfaction that they derive out of this, a cathartic akin to a baby's pacifier. Presumably these folks find comfort in a power-figure, in the status quo. Tories.

A short while ago, a friend of mine wrote his own letter to the editor critical of the 'imperial presidency' that he observed of the Bush/Cheney reign. As with me, his telephone answering machine recorded the verbal blast of one of those Tories for what he had written. Freedom of speech. My friend used his Caller ID and called back. Rather shocked by the return call, the Tory continued his rage and hung up, not permitting the author to speak. A second call-back resulted in profanity and the slamming of the receiver once again.

Tories hiding in dark alleys and under the bushes. Ready to pounce or shoot those who dare question the authority of the king. Freedom of speech apparently has limits.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

If They Arrest Them All, Will They Have Won?

Cindy Sheehan along with 45 fellow Iraq war protesters are arrested for demanding an impeachment for Bush and Cheney. Disorderly conduct. Could that 'charge' mean: conduct not befitting the normal style of citizens? I guess that the Founding Fathers were charged with that along with sedition.

What is 'normal' conduct and how do we recognize it when we see it? Complacent folks nodding off? Detached people working hard to make some money? Incurious citizens dumbed-down by propaganda?

Fascists love to arrest the so-called trouble-makers. Nixon relished the idea. Latin American prisons are filled with these identified provocateurs. So are the Russians and Chinese.
malcontents not satisfied with the status quo. Anarchists, instigators and rabble-rousers. Throw the whole lot into prison cells before the masses awaken.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Toledo Catholic Bishop Caught in Web of Deceit

Bishop Blair of the Toledo Catholic Diocese has been caught in blatant act of hypocrisy. According to an article in The Blade, "A Toledo priest who was to take over St. Rose Parish in Perrysburg — but then abruptly stepped away from the new post — has been placed on a sabbatical after a “consensual but inappropriate” relationship with a woman, the Toledo diocese said."

Many Catholics have been wondering why Fr. David Nuss, appointed by Bishop Blair to succeed Fr. Leyland as pastor, suddenly declined the new post. Now the truth is known. Not only that truth, but the fact that the bishop knew about this 'affair' back in January, seven months before he appointed Nuss to the position.

The Blade article continues: "But just why the diocese revealed the information yesterday is baffling and frustrating, said Joan Foster, a longtime St. Rose parishioner. Bishop Leonard Blair “knew this in January and now he pretends this is brand new news? Aren’t we Christians? Isn’t truth one of our most important things?” she asked."

Would 'cover-up' be the operative term here? Of course, the Toledo Diocese is up to its ears in cover-up, especially in priest sexual abuse issues in the diocese. It is a pattern of behavior that once served the hierarchy of the local church quite well. Until it all unravelled.

The Blade continues: "Claudia Vercellotti, local coordinator of SNAP — the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — earlier had been contacted by the advocate for the woman and said she also “tried to get answers” from the bishop about his plans for the priest.“Shame on the bishop,” she said. “He owes the community answers.”"

One more interesting note about all of this is the fact that Fr. Leyland wanted to continue to serve as pastor of St. Rose Parish but was forced out by Blair because Leyland had voiced some strong opinions about the Catholic hierarchy. Now this.

Oh well, what a wicked web we weave...

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