Saturday, October 17, 2009

News Reaction: What should be said, and when

One of the things I've struggled with, blogging wise, is how (and when, and why) to respond to events in the news. And not just blogging - when, in daily life and passing conversation, does one bring up the latest insanity that's made headlines?

(Other people may have an easier time with this than I do - I argue with the radio in the car and mutter things under my breath at the tv playing in the caffiteria. Of course, I do this with TV shows and movies, too. Unquestioning consumption doesn't come easy.)

To add another wrinkle - much of the time, my reaction is negative - disagreement, fact-checking, and plain old 'look-at-the-world-we-live-in-it-these-kids-these-days'. I'm fairly well convinced that constantly spouting negativity is good for neither me nor who ever happens to be sharing my space. (And heaven knows the current state of political and social discourse in American society needs less divisive talk and demonizing, not more.)

And yet, is self-censorship ('if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all') the solution? Or is silence the same as agreement? No single person could possibly comment intelligently on every news article or blog post printed daily - even if they just limited themselves to things on which they had some degree of expertise! But just as the major networks, magazines and newspapers are accussed of bias in the things they talk about the things they ignore, so do we all pick and choose what we 'amp the signal' on, and what we walk past. (1)

Some things shouldn't be ignored. Some things shouldn't be given the dignity of a response.

And sometimes it's best to remember that God doesn't want me to be concerned about what other people do nearly as much as God wants me to be aware of what I'm doing.


Following that - this article about a Louisiana Justice of the Peace who refused to perform a marriage ceremony for an interracial couple has been getting traction, as they say.

The JP gave this reason for not performing the ceremony - that he felt the childern of interracial marriages had difficult lives and were never fully accepted into either 'black' or 'white' society. Instead of performing the ceremony, he referred the couple to another JP.(2)

I'm going to leave aside the legal requirements demanded of an elected official, and say that I can see where the JP is coming from - and that I don't disagree with his specific point, on the incomplete social integration in this country. There has been a great number of electrons spent on this point - the social, economic and health consequences of being African-American, Latino, or Native American in America.(3)

Much the same has been said, in fact, about the childern of single mothers, of Downs syndrome babies, of the childern of poor families, about the childern of women who have been raped - that they will be underpriviledged, unloved, and possibly abused. And because of this, the arguement goes, it is legitament for the mothers of those childern to abort childern in those situations, rather than carry them to term and let fate - or God - determine what happens then.

Both are rational, logical opinions that look carefully at the world we live in today.

And I reject both conclusions. We should not, I think, be looking at the world as it is, but at the world as we would like it to be. We should strive to treat people as though they were capable of reaching the highest potiential, instead of assuming they were pre-destined to some lesser capability.

Neither our striving to treat each other well nor our indivdual efforts to excell are going to be perfectly successful, and we should recognize that. But that should not stop us from trying.


Other items on a similar theme:

Journalist attempts shopping only at African American businesses (Actually, there is a whole movement behind this - check out here, here, here, and here. Note: I'm not convinced that selecting businesses based, first and most importantly, on the race of the owners isn't race-based bigotry.)

Slightly related to the above: 100-mile diet

Different definitions of racism



(1) Something that gets throw out there - "Why are you talking about X when Y is obviously so much more horrible/significant/interesting/vital?" Different strokes for different folks - and just because H1N1 isn't Ebola doesn't mean that H1N1 is insignificant.

(2) This point - that the couple was sent to another JP, and that they were married shortly there after, so that the whole incident is less than two weeks old at this date - has been dropped from some news reports.

(3) This is an embarraessment for the land of the free. That we are still, imo, better at complete integration than any other nation on the planet doesn't change the fact that we can and should do better.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back (Top Ten Heroes List)

So. Back. (I think.)

From Alexander Field's post here:

Top Ten Fictional Characters I'd Like to Be

1. Torin Kerr. Excuse me, that should be Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr. From Tanya Huff's excellent Valor series (now complete, I think, in 4 books, and which I love like little else I've loved in SF ever.) Kicks @$$, but takes no names, because she isn't going to need to remember you, punk. Perfectly capable of winning an intergalatic war singlehandly in her underwear.

2. Rowan, from Rosemary Kirsten's Steerswoman series. Adventurer, chronicler, scientist. I don't remember another series that celebrates the scientific method nearly as much.

3. Ista Dy Baocia of Louis McMaster Bujould's Chalion series. An older woman in the service of God, and struggling with the position. Ista takes on the challenges thrown her way with grace and humor and preserverance.

4. Zoe Washburn, of Serenity. Laconic. Deadly. Strong right arm to her captain, devoted wife to another (demonstrating a remarkable ability to separate her day job from the rest of her life) stubborn and lovely.

5. Ardeth Bey of The Mummy series - cool face tattoos, beautiful horse, and doesn't have to support the girl after the credits roll.

6. Storm (aka Ororro Munroe) of the X-Men. (But only if I didn't have to wear the spike heels.) (And only if it's the version where Storm is played by, oh, Angela Bassett and not Halley Berry.)

7. Cordelia Vorkorsagan, nee Naismith - Bujold again, this time for her Naismith/Vorkorsagan novels. (And speaking of people that Angela Bassett should play in the movie version...) Cordelia is just a hair *too* awesome to be real (it doesn't help that the bulk of the series is told from her son's pov, and Miles really does think his mother walks on water) but she has been one of those fantastic swashbuckling/thinking characters for me for, oh, decades now.

8. Ellen Ripley - of Aliens. I'm hoping I won't have to explain this one. Long before Buffy, there was Ripley, slayer of demons.

9. Strongbow, from Elfquest - strong, silent, deadly, stubborn like the bones of the earth are stubborn.

10. Optimus Prime (from the recent movies) - I honestly don't remember all that much of the kid cartoon, so I'm going mostly off the movies. In which Optimus is not only awesome in the busting heads category, he also shows himself to be a wise and capable leader (but not all perfect.)


Making this list, I'm again reminded that I like to read books with heroes who have adventures and issues that I really don't want to have. Which includes nearly all the CJ Cherryh novels and my favorite SF series Farscape, as well as the Crossroads series by Nick O'Donohoe (the only SF/F series I've seen to feature veterinarians).


Yes, back, of sorts. Attempting to apply the butt in chair principle, in rotation with lovingkindness towards Other People On The Internet Who Don't Think Like I Do. (I'm kinda rusty on the last one, I don't think there is supposed to be as much gritted teeth as I'm employing. *sigh*)