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.

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