An Actual Conundrum

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — First Amendment

Lately it seems that we get to complain about obvious things. I enjoy discussing things that aren’t that obvious. It stretches the brain to have to consider multiple points of the view. The recent breach of the conservative social network Epik brings this kind of debate to life.

This kind of discussion always begins with the first amendment. I included the verbiage above because it is one of the most misunderstood amendments in the constitution. Too many people seem to think it means you get to say whatever you want without consequences. That has never been the case and the folks discovered in the Epik breach are learning this the hard way.

In particular, this story came to a head when a Florida realtor was fired because of his social media presence. In essence he had set up numerous domains with controversial content. The end result is a classic case pitting someone’s misunderstood free speech rights against a business’s rights to have people they want to represent their product.

All that being said, the bolded portion of the first amendment is the key part in this case. The whole idea behind sites like Parlor and Epik was that people wanted a “safe space” to air their grievances. They knew they couldn’t regurgitate their bile in public, so they were seeking a private place where they wouldn’t get in trouble.

The operative word there is the right to PEACEABLY assemble. The trouble with these right wing sites is that they don’t seem to peaceably do anything. Sites like these are where a lot of the January 6th actors coordinating their efforts. Again, they are mistaking the nature of the freedom. Congress cannot outlaw people from meeting in groups as long as the meeting itself is not against the law or that those groups break the law during their meeting.

A classic example of this scenario might involve NAMBLA. As most people know, this is an organization of pedophiles. If they describe their love for pedophilia they technically aren’t breaking any laws at the meeting itself. If they exchange pictures or any other materials then they would be. The question is whether the government has the right to identify who is at this gathering in the first place.

From there, that information would be readily available and employers and consumers could handle that knowledge as they saw fit. So, the ultimate question here is whether individuals have a right to privacy when they meet in groups. We can allow the Klu Klux Klan to meet as long as they don’t break the law. Do they have a right to have their identities kept secret?

These are all interesting questions given that all of these groups know full well that the majority of the population does not accept the validity of their point of view. So, individuals avoid voicing unpopular opinions because they understand the fallout. They join private groups in the hopes that they can voice their true feelings without facing direct consequences. These hacks obviously made that impossible.

The difficulty here is that these are not groups just idly sitting around and talking about how much they hate black people (or any other group). Such a group would be reprehensible, but basically harmless. What creates this issue is that some people in the group (or even most in some cases) are using the assumed anonymity to plan actions that are obviously dangerous and against the law.

The ancillary point is the duplicity of understanding that a point of view is at the very least considered to be repugnant while seeking a private forum to safely voice those views. In other words, they know its wrong and want to find a safe space to say the wrong things. The first amendment clearly does not shield anyone from the consequences of their speech. Yes, you can say it. Yes, you can meet with like-minded curmudgeons, but employers and consumers can use this information to their own benefit.

Moreover, while we have the right to free speech, we do not have the right to social media. We do not have the right to amplification. Anyone is free to set up social media with their own terms of service, but we can also be judged for what happens on those forums. It’s not cut and dried and it’s never easy. I can sympathize with someone hoping to keep their views private, but if a group is planning the next insurrection then that right to privacy should go out the window.

Hometown Politics

“I’m thirty-five, we got a boy of our own now
Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said son take a good look around
This is your hometown.” — Bruce Springsteen

Every once in awhile, someone puts something in a way that turns the light on. The discussions have been ongoing for months now as America is split between those that want to get the vaccine and those that don’t. Those that don’t are seemingly subdivided into groups of people that simply don’t want to get the jab and those that are willing to try any number of experimental treatments at the suggestion of who I called “Uncle Sal.”

Tip O’Neill (former Speaker of the House) once famously said, “all politics is local.” He also famously used to share a beer with Ronald Reagan after a tough day’s fight over legislation. Of course, the last part was one of those legends that is probably hyperbolic in nature. It’s an anecdote loosely based on something that never really happened, but feels good to bring up as a kind of morality tale. See, look the two bitter enemies used to get along. Why can’t we do that now?

Anyhow, the point in question is that many of the falsehoods going around about the virus and about the multitude of methods to prevent it are coming from the cliques that we used to belong to in high school. Shocking I know. Coming from a community where many people stay afterwards, makes this kind of notion make more sense. I probably run into people I graduated with on a weekly basis and it’s been nearly 30 years since I graduated from high school.

So, the point that this person was making was that you have people who were influential in high school. They were the leaders of the pack. They know things. Any number of us can say that we are beyond all of that stuff and maybe we mostly are. Yet, social media has managed to keep us all connected. It’s managed to allow us to brag about our kids. It’s allowed us a way to keep those bonds alive in a kind of competition over relevance.

That competition extends to our own lives as well. See, I’ve been successful. See, I have a nice family. See, I have a good job. See, look at all the stuff I’ve been able to accumulate. Maybe I was an ugly duckling that turned into a swan. Maybe I was always the swan and am desperate to still be one. Maybe I’m desperate just to be one of the ducklings again. I think everyone sees where this is going.

Social media has allowed us to stay tethered to those groups. I have Facebook friends that I might have had one conversation with in high school. I’m sure many of you are the same way. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Trips down amnesia lane are good sometimes. The key thing is remembering that for people my age, it has been longer since we have been in high school than all the way up to graduation. In other words, we’re getting old.

Demographics clearly show that party affiliation and political ideology are broken down by population density. It’s staggering to think that with more population density comes more independent thought and progressive attitudes. It doesn’t seem like it would be that way, but in smaller towns we get stuck into these generational relationships. Bubba was the football star. Bubba is successful now and has a good family. Bubba was calm, cool, and collected when he led us to victory over Possum Holler High School. I should listen to him when he tells me to ingest Clearasil to fight off the Covids. He knows stuff. He’s good under pressure and God knows this is a pressure situation.

If we look back with a critical eye we will remember that Bubba was the guy cheating off of the cheerleaders during the Biology and Chemistry tests. He was the one that could never tell the difference between mitosis and meiosis. It’s not a point of judgment since I can’t either, but it does reinforce the point that Bubba might not be the person to listen to when it comes to COVID prevention. Yet, when you have 40 or more years of history with Bubba as a group leader you can see why some people would rather listen to Bubba than some egghead that spends their time in a lab all day. Except, they are the ones that really know and Bubba is the one spouting bullshit.

The New Normal

“Strangers passing in the street, by chance two separate glances meet and I am you and what I see is me.” — Roger Waters

The reading material often reveals a lot about us these days. I have made a habit of reading John Pavlovitz’s blog over the past couple of years. It’s interesting how some people have a way of putting things that make perfect sense. He seems to be able to do that to the point where it must seem like I’m plagiarizing him.

That’s unintentional and unavoidable at the same time. Good writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It needs other good writing to cultivate it and nurture it. Of course, I don’t know how good my writing is. I suppose I finish my sentences and correctly punctuate almost everything, so maybe that is good enough these days.

The overwhelming thought over the past few days has been the new normal. This is my daughter’s school’s homecoming week. It is usually accompanied with daily activities like thematic dress and a parade. It used to have pep rallies, carnivals, and a dance as well. Some of those things are gone. They’ve become COVID causalities. Open house was also sacrificed to the COVID gods.

In a past life, I used to coach volleyball. When my daughter came along those days were quickly numbered. One of the more difficult decisions was how to handle discipline of good kids. Most coaches have a policy of holding kids out who have missed practices and/or previous games. It is a policy meant to reward kids that are dedicated for being there and also incentivizing attendance for those less dedicated.

However, theory and reality often take two different paths. Do you hold out a good player to make an example out of them or do you play them and give your team the best chance to compete? These are hard questions I don’t envy and I’m glad I don’t have to make them anymore. COVID has punched another hole in this dilemma.

Two kids have been held out of school at different points to be tested for COVID. Thankfully, neither tested positive, but since family members tested positive they were required to quarantine for a time. Except, they weren’t required by the state. The district strongly suggests it. So, does the coach hold out those kids for missing practices and/or games? They were being responsible by staying home and we want to encourage responsible behavior. Plus, holding them out could possibly make it harder on the team to compete. It’s a difficult position to be in.

We’ve become numb to the process overall. We get daily emails from our child’s campus about positive tests that day. These emails have come daily. I know I just said that, but I feel it needs to be repeated. These emails have come every day they have been in school. At the same time, my campus will send out an automatic voicemail with the same exact message. I think we’ve had a day or two here and there without a voicemail, but on most every evening we have gotten the email immediately followed by the voicemail.

We have nearly 350 million people in the United States. So, talking about 680,000 COVID deaths can sound like an enormous abstraction. That’s not even one half of one percent of the overall population. Yet, it is more deaths than any single war in U.S. history and it has surpassed the Spanish flu pandemic as well. So, do we focus on the abstraction or the real loss?

What is most painful is that most of these deaths could have been avoided. We are now seemingly at about 2000 deaths a day again and all of those deaths could be avoided. All it takes is a willingness to get vaccinated and a little common sense along the way. Instead, the virus comes closer and closer to our view.

Most people are lucky in that they haven’t had the virus. Most people are lucky in that they can’t name anyone they know or knew that succumbed to it. Yet, as the numbers mount those facts will quickly change. As we get more emails and more phone calls we will soon stumble on someone we know well. It’s already happened to us. It will happen to you too if it hasn’t already.

Sadly, COVID is still too much of an abstraction for some people to take seriously. They still believe it is just like the flu. These are the folks that seem to be taken first. They count the prominent and the obscure on an almost equal basis. Some might call that irony, but it’s really just science. Mother nature is undefeated and she’s never met an opponent that could even compete. That’s not ironic. It’s just the plain, honest truth.

A theory of Elasticity

“Your wise men don’t know how it feels
To be thick as a brick.” — Ian Anderson

I heard an interesting theory as it pertains to all of the nonsense that has been going on lately. I can’t take credit for it. My wife is a Biologist by training even though she primarily works in physics. So, understanding certain symptoms and conditions comes with the trade. Essentially, our bodies lose their elasticity as we age.

Of course, that’s nothing new or groundbreaking. Our skin starts to sag or show more wrinkles as it loses that elasticity. Our bones become more brittle and easily broken. Our muscles stiffen and become more difficult to use. All of us of a certain age know all of these things all too well. As I am fond of telling kids, I can do the things they do, but it takes me a lot longer to recuperate. At a certain point, it’s difficult to do even that.

The theory came in that we can mentally lose our elasticity as well. My wife called it “getting old” but I’m sure there is a more official sounding term for it. The old-timers would call it “getting set in your ways” but there are all kinds of euphemisms to describe this condition. As you might expect, there is more psychology than biology around this phenomenon.

Psychologists called this process the process of schema. Essentially, all of us have our own conception of the world and that conception is built on what we have been taught, what we have learned, and what we have experienced in our lifetimes. Our world view could be called schema. Occasionally, something happens that goes against that schema. How we react to it can help determine how much elasticity our brains have.

Sometimes, that new information causes us to change our schema. However, all of us get to a point where our minds stop growing. So, that new information becomes false information (or fake news as it were). It is not to be believed. It can’t possibly be true because it doesn’t fit our conception of the world. Thus we have reached a point where we have no more brain elasticity.

When that occurs depends on the person. Some people reach that point relatively early in their lives while others hold on for decades. It also helps explain why some people buy into bullshit like Q’anon or the malarkey with the vaccine. It sounds so fantastical and difficult to fathom based on what is being said and the sources saying it. Yet, if it fits your schema then you might be tempted to believe anything.

Try to throw logic and reason into the conversation and you find you’ll be hitting a brick wall. It just doesn’t compute. The information you are giving doesn’t fit the schema and they simply don’t have the mental elasticity to take in new information. Thus, the person you are debating has become thick as a brick.

Tying this in with yesterday’s conversation then becomes very easy. If roughly a third of the population believe fantastical things to be true, you can waste all kinds of time and energy trying to convince them otherwise. Their schema isn’t changing. As I’ve said of administrators throughout the years: don’t waste time asking me what I think if you already know what you want to do. Just do it. Science (those pesky biologists) have told us what needs to happen. We can waste all kinds of time trying to come to a consensus or we can simply implement what we know needs to be done and let the crying masses fume. They’ll do it anyway.

The Dangers of Timidity

It’s always interesting where a conversation goes when a subject comes up. Yesterday, some readers were very passionate about vaccine mandates in the wake of the news that Pfizer has had some successful tests of children between the ages of five and eleven. We obviously aren’t there yet, but hopefully we will have a vaccine for all school aged children before the end of the year.

This of course begged the question: why aren’t all elementary schools and daycare centers mandating that every adult in the building take the vaccine? You have a captive audience of young people that cannot be protected against the virus. Forcing everyone else around them to be fully vaccinated just seems to make the most sense.

That conversation morphed into a conversation as to why we aren’t mandating every abled body adult get the vaccine period. The FDA has give full approval to at least one vaccine. We have plenty of it to go around and the vaccine has been free for quite some time.

The Democratic party and the Republican party approach politics very differently. One seems to have a conscience and the other does not. Republicans in recent years have governed for a clear minority of the population. Their policies are favored by a minority and yet they implement them with reckless abandon. They don’t seem to care that most people don’t want them to do these things. It’s almost breathtaking to see.

The Democratic party should be working from a position of strength, but they can’t seem to get out of their own way. Heavy majorities want vaccine mandates. They want a higher minimum wage. They want stiffer environmental protections. They want voting rights protected and expanded. We know all of this. Yet, little seems to happen because some within the party are worried about the fallout.

See, we know a loud minority will protest any of these things. We know this because we’ve seen it before. When President Obama was negotiating the Affordable Care Act, he took very popular planks like a public option off the table. There was no way the Republicans could support it. Except, they didn’t support any of it. They’ve been spending the past ten years trying to get rid of all of it. So, why are worried about what planks Republicans find objectionable? They find everything objectionable.

Conservatives are up in arms about mandates. It’s antithetical to freedom they say. Except it’s the exact same thing we’ve been doing with other vaccines for decades. In order to attend public school you have to have certain vaccinations or documentation from a doctor of why you cannot comply. There’s none of this “I don’t know what’s in it” or “it’s a way for them to track you.” Sure, there are those that have always believed that, but they had to suffer the consequences of their decision.

The end result this time around is that one of the wealthiest countries in the world has one of the lowest vaccine rate in the developed world. Sure, developing countries lag behind, but they also have institutional barriers to consider. A country without those barriers can’t seem to get to 70 percent in full vaccinations. Sadly, giving people to freedom to choose means too many make the wrong choice.

Whether you mandate it or not, the Tucker Carlson’s and Sean Hannity’s of the world will spew their garbage comparing a government to fascism when doing something we’ve done dozens of times before. You can tiptoe around it or you can simply shove it down their throat. If people are going to complain let’s give them something to complain about. In the meantime, maybe then we can properly protect our children and anyone else that is vulnerable instead of hoping only the idiots weed themselves out of the population.

The politics of humor

“And what exactly is a joke?” — Syd Barrett

Norm MacDonald died this past week at the tender age of 61. Of course, most of my friends know him as Turd Ferguson. That was the alter ego he chose when he played Burt Reynolds on SNL’s Celebrity Jeopardy. What everyone remembers is Sean Connery from those sketches, but the sketch was supposed to be a vehicle for MacDonald.

I read a fascinating retrospective on him this weekend. Of course, he was famously fired from SNL and after that he didn’t seem to do a whole lot. However, those around him talked about how tirelessly he worked on his craft. The delivery seemed so natural and so understated, but it was the result of a lot of hard work.

This entered my mind when I saw three different examples of political humor that were attempted this past week. Of course, political humor is unique already. It is part humor, part performance art, and part trolling these days. The key is how to strike that balance. If you do then you live rent free in the opposition’s head.

We start on the conservative end of the ledger. Greg Gutfield proved there is such a thing as comedic timing when he made everyone feel icky in his response to Sarah Palin. For those that don’t want to go down the rabbit hole he creepily asked whether her position or she were sexier at this point. The joke obviously felt flat because Palin was obviously uncomfortable.

I really can’t say that I blame her. I’ve never been a Palin fan and it will be hard for me to forgive John McCain for foisting her upon the American public, but no one deserves to be treated like that. She became the fodder for people that like to alter women’s images to make them look sexier than they really were. She obviously hoped she was beyond that and I can’t blame her. Gutfield is equal parts creep and jackass and zero parts funny.

The key to political humor is the knowledge that you are joking or trolling. Naturally, everyone’s mind immediately jumps to the past president. The problem was that it was obvious he was trolling in some circumstances. but in others you had no idea whether he knew or not. They always have to know you’re joking.

AOC is living rent free in conservatives’ heads and she did it again when she wore a provocative dress to a Gala this past week. The dress had “tax the rich” prominently written on it. People were up in arms about her wearing an expensive dress with that message on it. They fumed about the cost of the dress. They fumed about how much it cost to get into the Gala. They just generally fumed.

It was similar to when Melania Trump wore the infamous jacket that gave the message that she didn’t care about the kids on the border. The debate was on whether she grasped what message she was giving based on where she was going. Of course she did. Whether the troll job was worth it or not obviously depends on the eye of the beholder, but the result was pretty much the same. The Left fumed.

The final piece came this weekend when a company painted a provocative message on a truck. The message was from a “funeral home” and it told people not to get vaccinated. Apparently, it lists a website that presumably is for the funeral home, but instead takes people to a website with information about the vaccine.

Obviously, I just about fell over laughing when I saw the picture, but I imagine anti-vaxxers probably didn’t take too kindly to it. Oh well. When you are willfully stupid you deserve to be trolled and trolled something fierce. At the end of the day this proves nothing about comedic timing in politics except that it remains up to the individual and we know it when we see it.

Make America Great

“C’mon people, let the world begin
We’ve got a future and it’s charging in.” — Paul McCartney

When I was a child, I spent a great deal of time in speech therapy. It’s one of those long stories that probably could be told on a different day, but in this case one of the speech therapists I worked with had a husband that owned a toy store. Just the idea of a toy store by itself is an oddity these days as Toys R’ Us is a thing of the past.

This was a special toy store. It was a sole proprietor that made nearly as much money repairing toys as he did selling them. We used to bring in my miniature record player all the time to be repaired. It was one of those that showed a film strip at the same time as playing the audio on record. It turned into a record player I used to play the one 45 I purchased.

Nobody repairs toys anymore. Heck, they aren’t even sold within a single toy store anymore for the most part. Now, you have to go to your behemoths like Wal-Mart, Target, Sam’s, and Cosco. We can add delivering milk and ice door to door on that list of stuff we just don’t see anymore. If we all sit around for long enough we could probably spend days listing the numbers of things we just don’t see anymore.

It could be Blockbuster or Hollywood Video as well. These trips past amnesia lane can also include technology we just don’t see anymore. Anyone dust off their Beta machine or the 8 track player? At this point, you are probably wondering where this is going.

There is a significant cottage industry surrounding nostalgia. They still sell records and turntables. You could probably even find one of those toys I referenced above. Unfortunately, stuff is not the only thing we find in the marketplace as far as nostalgia goes. Unfortunately, it also exists in our politics.

Nostalgia helped create MAGA. It is the A on the end that creates the issue. Again. If America used to be great then we have to ask exactly who was it great for. See, there lies the rub. Boil it all down and you discover this is the basis of the conservative platform. They want to return to the days when things were simpler and they were firmly in control.

That presents any number of challenges. First, how good were things really? For most of us, things may have been simpler, but were they any better? If you are a white Anglo Saxon Protestant then things probably were better for you. If you somehow didn’t fit in that group then things weren’t necessarily great for you.

The second issue is that our memories are not what they once were. Conservatives take full advantage of that. If we were in that fortunate class above then things may have been great more than 50 years ago. The question is why. People find it harder to get ahead now. The question is why. As the middle class gets squeezed people look for scapegoats. They conveniently give some to you, but are they right ones? The top income tax bracket under Dwight Eisenhower (a Republican) was over 90 percent. Few people remember that because none of us were in the top income tax bracket. Wealth wasn’t so stratified. Now it is and yet they continue to blame outsiders for the problem. It’s a nice misdirection.

The final problem is our inability to differentiate between when change happens organically and when it is a direct result of government action. No bureaucrat forced people to stop repairing toys. No bureaucrat mandated that people stop getting ice delivered door to door and the government certainly didn’t kill the milk man. These are things that evolved naturally over time.

Obviously, no politician is hankering for the return of the milk man, but there are some talking points that sound just as ludicrous when you stop to think about them. Why are we making so much of a fuss over coal? Modern homes are not heated with coal. Our cars and boats don’t use coal. Heck, very few trains use coal. Furthermore, coal is a finite resource. It doesn’t burn cleanly and most people stopped using it. So, why are politicians fighting so hard to keep it alive?

The reason is that they can score cheap political points by blaming the opposition for its demise. Coal miners are going the way of milk men and ice delivery guys. Yes, change in history is painful temporarily. Milk men had to find new work. Toy store owners had to figure something else out. Ice delivery boys couldn’t do it anymore. What they don’t tell you is that while the transition was hard, nine times out of ten the displaced people found something better. Coal miners can almost certainly find something safer and better for their long-term health.

This is just one small example of how one party is focused on the future and another one is focused on the past. One wants to find the solutions to the current problems and the problems coming around the corner. The other wants you to remember the past fondly and allow them to bring back the version swimming in their heads. You know the one. It has African Americans and ethnic minorities knowing their place. It has women with their mouths shut in the background. It has all members of the LGTBQ+ community going back in the closet. Then, American can be made great AGAIN. We should always ask who exactly America was great for. So, I say make America great. Leave off the AGAIN. Leave it off because we acknowledge that America has never been great for everyone. If we focus on the problems of the here and now maybe it can be.

Palpable Anger

“It all looks fine to the naked eye, but it don’t really happen that way at all.” — Pete Townsend

Work in a school setting long enough and you get to know all kinds of people. Work in a school setting for long enough and you will become at least some of those people at different intervals. I’ve been in the classroom for 24 years now. I’ve been to the end and back and have managed to come out on the other side a much better human being.

One of the hardest things to do is to avoid taking things personally. Kids are going to be kids and as much as they might say they hate this teacher or that teacher they really don’t. They come into the world with their personal problems and sadly we get to be a part of that for a short while.

Those that have been around as long as I have, have seen some grow up into some absolutely successful adults. Many of them are more successful than I ever could be. We can also choose to deal with that any number of ways. I consider a source of pride every time a former student succeeds. Unfortunately, there are also some that don’t. That’s where today’s focus comes in.

Being in the trenches affords me the opportunity to understand why millions think the way they do. See, the number one argument against raising the minimum wage is that minimum wage should be something for teenagers at their first job. It shouldn’t be what someone does for 40 hours a week. It shouldn’t be what an adult uses to sustain themselves. If that is their lot in life then they have done something wrong.

Of course, this ignores the fact that there are numerous adults that may not be capable of doing more, but I suspect that these naysayers aren’t really thinking of them. I know this because I used to be one of them. I used to get upset when students wasted their time and skipped school or chose not to do their work. They chose to fail. Failure has consequences. They should have to wallow in their own failure and suffer through those consequences.

I soon discovered that this mode of thinking had its own problems. I was hit with it in the face when I had to work a couple of minimum wage jobs before I could catch back on in education nearly ten years ago now. If people work minimum wage jobs because they have wasted their opportunities and/or failed in life then I had failed at life. At least I had temporarily failed at life.

Sometimes, someone that is 16 or 17 years old is too young to understand the opportunities they have. Sometimes they are too young to take advantage of their opportunities and live up to those responsibilities. Sometimes they just aren’t in a place to do it. The mistake is in believing they never will be. Sometimes it happens later and that’s okay.

I know of those former students as well. I remember how frustrated I was with them and yet I’m no less proud when they turn their lives around. Yet, I understand the impulse to want to punish someone for squandering opportunity. I get it. Yet, at the end of the day we have to ask ourselves who exactly we are hurting and why we feel it is necessary to do so.

In many instances, that minimum wage job might be the second opportunity. There is a pride that comes from working and it’s something no one can deny. It’s frustrating watching these same curmudgeons decry welfare and how people will earn more from that than they would a minimum wage job. It’s frustrating because the next logical conclusion is on the tip of their tongue and they just can’t spit it out.

If someone can’t make ends meet on minimum wage and find welfare easier then it doesn’t mean welfare is too much. It means minimum wage is not enough. Numerous companies have also discovered the quality of work goes up when wages go up. Amazingly, when you treat someone with more dignity then they somehow respond in kind. Amazing.

It’s been ten years since my education career rebooted. Some of the fallout was my fault and some was outside my control. Yet, I was given a second chance to do something I loved. There are millions of kids that need a second chance on life. Maybe they squandered their opportunity in school or maybe school was just too hard and too regimented to cater to their needs. Either way, everyone deserves a chance to work and to work with dignity. A little over seven dollars an hour isn’t dignity. I’m not sure what it is.

Cry, Freedom Cry

“But a fool believes he sees
The wise man has the power to reason away.” — Michael McDonald

Whole generations of people have misunderstood the mechanisms of free speech. It’s to the point where it almost becomes comical. It’s happened again with the “great” Mike Lindell. I don’t know if the pillows he sells work or not. I’ve never bought one and I don’t know anyone that has.

However, the once profitable businessman has fallen on hard times. He has been peddling his conspiracy theories as it pertains to the 2020 election and it seems most people just want it to go away. Meanwhile, his apologists think we should continue to buy his products and demand that he has a platform to share his bile.

The fools bring two misconceptions to the table. The first misconception is that speech is somehow connected to commerce in a positive way. I’m not going to buy his shitty pillows. I never was going to buy his shitty pillows. He could have been a progressive AOC fan (not that I am a devotee of her either) and it wouldn’t have mattered.

The second misconception is the one we have heard left and right for over the past year. Somehow, we are canceling Mike Lindell when we stop buying his product or question his sanity (or both). This cancel culture thing has gone way too far. No, it’s not the cancel culture part, but the cries from mostly conservatives that this cancelling is somehow unfair.

Ideas are kind of like consumer goods. People will buy them or not buy them. I don’t have a duty to buy anything. As a consumer in a free society I am free to purchase what I want. The same goes for ideas. I am free to respond to ideas anyway that I see fit. At that point, others can respond to my response anyway they see fit. I think everyone understands how this goes.

However, people in business have an added layer in this whole freedom of expression thing. In particular, a sole proprietor like Lindell is dependent on his reputation. When you lie about politics and spew theories that are deranged then it is natural for people to assume you are deranged in general. I and most people don’t generally purchase products from someone that is deranged.

So, when we see folks holding up signs that say “sovering” or post messages on social media about how “great an American Jesus was” we have the right to consider those people to be idiots. It’s not canceling. It’s simply a natural response to what we see in front of us. If a majority of people think you’re idea is stupid then they might be led to believe that you are also stupid. That’s just the way the world works.

I think what boggles the mind is that people used to understand this. They understood this because they were on the giving end. When artists, entertainers, and businesspeople showed themselves to be anything but wholesome, they pounced with boycotts and combative speech of their own. Now, it seems that times have changed and sensibilities have changed. Bigotry and intolerance are no longer commonly accepted values. Now, they are getting a dose of their own medicine. So, they are getting canceled. Oh well.

Stay in your lane

“I wonder: do I want the simple, simple life that I once lived in well?
Oh, things were quiet then
In a way they were the better days
But now I am the proudest monkey you’ve ever seen.”– Dave Matthews

Yesterday’s posting creating a stir on the other site I write for. There are always far more comments over there. Most of the time I simply take this piece and put it over there, but I honestly did the reverse that time. They don’t like long-winded screeds over there and there was commentary I wanted to add on the end.

In this case, the additional commentary was probably necessary. First, I didn’t overtly discuss my intentions to treat a situation with humor. So, a couple of readers assumed the “trial transcript” was actually a trial transcript. That kind of mistake checks out. We’ve done the same thing with our students. If we show them an article by the Washington Post and an article by The Onion side by side, a number of them will identify the piece by the Onion as the legitimate news piece.

This is an honest to God side by side comparison without the labels of what publication the articles came from. However, the same still happens even when you add in the publication names. We have entered upside down land where traditional media sources are considered unreliable and fly by night or satirical publications are given credence. I’ve gone cross-eyed.

The other part of the conversation surprised me some. The site is a site obviously dominated by progressives, but suddenly people that laugh at the whole idea of people taking medicine meant for livestock were getting down and dirty and discussing the reasons why someone would take medicine like that. Apparently, there is a “river fever” I’ve heard nothing about and Ivermeticin works well with head lice. Who knew?

If they would have come here they would have known. The answer to that question is that doctors know. Of course, I don’t want them coming here. I have a pseudonym over there and we don’t necessarily want people knowing our true identities. The idea wasn’t to debate a particular medication, but to debate the idea of what has happened to us.

We treat people the same way we treat traditional media sources. They are somehow meant to be treated with cynicism. Instead, we trust sketchy YouTube videos or casual acquaintances (or even family) that have no training whatsoever. It’s quite literally insane.

Apparently, the local court order was overturned yesterday even though the patient in question was already dead. However, a court in Ohio apparently made the exact same order. They ordered a local hospital to give a patient a certain medication. Occasionally, the law gets involved in insurance matters. Someone may not get treated because their insurance lapsed or a bureaucrat made a treatment decision.

I can’t fathom how the law is supposed to tell an actual medical doctor how to treat a patient. How exactly does that work? If the treatment fails then who exactly is held responsible? If the doctor follows their medical ethics and refuses to do a treatment they never recommended then how does that work? As usual, I don’t think we have judges that have quite thought that dilemma out to its logical conclusion.

They are likely coming from a thought process where we automatically distrust people that are experts. Somehow, they don’t know what they are talking about. I’ve done my research. I know. What exactly do we know? Where did you get your information from? If a treatment wasn’t tested by doctors then how do we know it works? If there wasn’t an official drug trial then how do we know what the side effects are. How do we know the proper dosage? Does the dewormer also work with fleas and ticks?

Thus, we get to the crux of it all. Research is not about doing a Google search and finding an article somewhere that says what you say. How do we know that article was sourced correctly? What was their research based on? Is it research at all or is it a publication similar to the Onion that is doing a giant troll job? That’s the beauty and curse of the internet. Somewhere someone is doing research on the baseball Hall of Fame and they stumbled here.