Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Too-Much-Information Age

In response to the tragic suicide of an 18 year-old Rutgers freshman after being “outed” by his roommate who had installed hidden cameras in their dorm room, another Rutgers student said that if it had been a heterosexual encounter, the young man would not have committed suicide.

Very likely not. Don’t be too sure that a video of a heterosexual couple wouldn’t have been broadcast on the Internet. At the very least, the young woman’s reputation almost certainly would have been tarnished. The videos would have come back to haunt them sooner or later, and their lives would have been altered, if not ruined.

We worry about the government robbing us of our privacy. But the current generation is doing a splendid job of robbing itself of privacy. As the Associated Press reporters working on the story pointed out in their article:

“The shocking suicide of a college student whose sex life was broadcast over the Web illustrates yet again the Internet's alarming potential as a means of tormenting others and raises questions whether young people in the age of Twitter and Facebook can even distinguish public from private.”

We are in the throes of the Too-Much-Information Age. Phoebe Prince is now joined by another unfortunate young adult, Tyler Clementi of Ridgewood, N.J. Apparently, the consciousness-raising seminars have not penetrated the prejudices of adolescence as deeply as the Progressives had hoped.

Instead of “progressing,” we degenerated to new levels of snooping and cruelty. Tyler’s classmates have been charged with invasion of privacy, with some of the charges against them carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison.

This is a generation raised on reality television. Every generation has had its vehicle for trading in gossip. Years ago, it was the beauty shop, where noisy, bulbous hair dryers masked malicious whispers. Tabloid gossip columnists provided the fodder for celebrity bashing and the backyard fence, the wash line, the water cooler, the watering hole days of olde provided the forum for whispering campaigns.

Gossip used to be word-of-mouth; libelous comments scrawled on the walls of the boys’ bathroom. Advanced technology has provided new and improved methods, providing instantaneous feeds. Pictures don’t lie (generally, except when they’re manipulated in Photoshop). Today’s generation would put movie spy James Bond to shame.

It’s sickening to think of that poor young man, standing on the precipice of the George Washington Bridge, texting his last words in the belief his life was futile, all because of a sadistic invasion of his privacy. Maybe God doesn’t approve of homosexuality. Or maybe He doesn’t but is willing to forgive it. Where did these young people who committed this invasion of privacy get the idea they had the right to take God’s judgment into their own hands?

God’s judgment is that person’s problem, not ours. But, adolescents are impossibly nosy and extremely judgmental. They take themselves too seriously and are much too severe on one another, to the point that Phoebe hung herself in her closet and Tyler flung himself from a 200 foot bridge.

The activists mean well, but their efforts mislead victims like Phoebe and Tyler into believing they’ll be accepted for themselves by their supposedly enlightened peers; it’s the adults, the Conservatives, Tea Partiers, right-wing extremists who are biased and bigoted. But it’s the age-old, intractable, inexorable, ruthless villain that condemns them: peer pressure.

Adolescents have met the enemy, and they are them.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Voting Slacker

We’re trying to make sure my nephew gets out to vote on Nov. 2nd. He’s 22 and in the late stages of adolescence. Getting him to register to vote has had about the same success as getting him out of bed before noon on a Saturday, according to my brother.

I e-mailed him the registration and the absentee voter ballot registration, with threats of awful vengeance if he doesn’t fill them out and mail them in time. Troy, N.Y., is a long drive, but I’m willing to make that drive if that’s what it takes to drill civic sense into his intelligent, but thick, skull.

Mechanical engineering students must be particularly difficult students. They’re extremely well-focused – they must be in order to pass their courses – but it’s difficult to get their attention or to get them to answer you with multi-syllable words.

He didn’t vote in the presidential election because he disliked the Republican candidate. “He’s a white-haired old man,” The Nephew pronounced. “I’d rather not vote at all than vote for a candidate I don’t like.”

I couldn’t blame him. But I also couldn’t make him understand that if he didn’t use his vote to counter the votes of Liberal/Progressives, his right to vote would vanish one day in the near future. Use it or lose it.

In the 2008 presidential election, 56.8 percent of the voting age population turned out at the polls. A little more than half the country voted, which was a high for our modern times. In the 1996 midterms, only 37.1 percent of voters bothered to cast a vote. Goodness only knows how low the turnout was in the off-year elections.

The highest the voting rate has been in modern memory was the 1960 presidential election, when 63.1 percent of the population came out to vote. In 1996, only 49.1 percent of the voting age population put their heads into a voting booth, less than half the country.

The mid-terms have always been low, but pretty consistent in the mid-30s. In 1966, 48.4 percent turned out for the mid-terms, less than one percent fewer voters than in the 1996 presidential. Voter turnout has pretty much been downhill since 1960.

Young voters claim they don’t know anything about the candidates. But they know everything about Lady Gaga and Lindsay Lohan. They have all the latest electronic, digital technology. Instant information is at their fingertips. How hard could it be to google the candidates in your district and find out about them?

In The Nephew’s case, the link would be:

(I just signed him up for the Congressman’s e-newsletter).

I’m too busy studying. The paperwork is too hard. I don’t know who the candidates are. I don’t know what the issues are. I don’t like politics. I don’t have any stamps. The post office is too far away.

The problem with this generation is their mothers spent their childhoods cutting their meat for them, doing their homework for them, driving them everywhere they wanted to go, taking care of everything for them (and now Obamacare has extended childhood to age 26).

I couldn’t wait to vote. I came of age in an off-year election, but I still voted. I didn’t care; voting for the first was as much of a milestone to me as getting my driver’s license. Being able to vote meant I was truly an adult. I got to make one of my first adult decisions in the voting booth.

This generation seems to mired in an eternal childhood, though. It’s almost like it’s not cool to vote, unless you’re voting for a Liberal. The Conservative kids, outnumbered by peers who are being bought off with grades by Liberal professors, hunker down, believing their vote doesn’t count.

My brother has the same attitude. Oh, he votes, but he figures it doesn’t matter. Too many potential voters have that same attitude and don’t bother to vote at all. That was what begat our local Tea Party. Someone had to prove to the doubtful that you could stand up to politicians and make a difference. As far as I was concerned, the reticent voters, not the politicians, were the target.

If The Nephew doesn’t get on the ball and fill out those forms, next weekend I’ll be tearing up the NYS Thruway to make sure he does fill out and send it in. If I have to, I’ll march up and down in front of his dorm with a sign with his name and picture on it. The caption will read: Voting Slacker.

Maybe I’ll even post it on his Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pinkos on Parade

I have a parade on Saturday which I can’t get out of, so I really won’t be able to attend the N.J. Tea Party Rally at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. But the line-up for the Sussex County Firemen’s Parade can’t hold a candle to the line-up for the One Nation Rally on Saturday:

American Federation of Teachers
Center for Community Change
Green for All
National Council of La Raza
Rainbow PUSH Coalition
SEIU: Service Employees International Union
UAW, International Union
Alliance for Democracy
Campaign for America’s Future
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Campus Progress
Chicago Democratic Socialists of America
Code Pink
Color of
Communist Party USA (CPUSA)
Democratic Socialists of America
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Gray Panthers
Human Rights Campaign
International Socialist Organization
National Education Association
National Urban League
Planned Parenthood
United Steel Workers
Working Families Party
Ya Ya Network

The Communist Party USA? Arm in arm with the NAACP, NEA, AFT, Democratic Socialists of America, Code Pink, and Planned Parenthood, among other participants. The Grand Marshal of this parade will be George Soros.

This event promises to be quite a spectacle, and America should take a good, hard look at them. With good luck, every weak-kneed moderate Republican voter will shake themselves awake, come out of hiding and take themselves to the polls on Nov. 2nd post haste.

I hope every Republican or Tea Party candidate has a video photographer down there so they can use the footage in their campaign ads. Even if they pick up every scrap of litter, these communist protesters will still leave the National Mall sullied and polluted because they oppose everything Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson (well, he’s nearby) stood for and everything for which the soldiers of World War II and the Vietnam War gave their lives: freedom, not freeloaders.

They have the right to assemble of course, but they’ve got everything all wrong. So let them flood the Mall by the busload. Let America see what they are. I hope they carry signs that spell it out so there’s no mistaking their message, no mistaking the intent of their gathering as peaceful and beneficial.  They are billing their event locally as a demonstration, not a rally.

No one had to pay the Glenn Beck fans to show up in Washington for his Restoring Honor Rally, nor the Tea Partiers who went to the nation’s capital for the 9/12 March on Washington. There were no free rides; they paid their own way. They weren’t coerced into going, nor were they brainwashed into making the trip (the Liberals, of course, would take issue with that).

Glenn Beck’s fans went to Washington to honor God, the military, and America. The One Nation crowd will revile every good thing that ever made America great. They’ll insist that America must be “transformed.” And they’ll insult God. It’s not likely they’ll leave a mess; the Tea Partiers already set the example at the 9/12/09 March on Washington.

But if this is a true counter rally, then they might as well leave a mess. They certainly don’t go to Washington to honor America or God. They travel with every intention of abusing their freedoms so that they may rob us of ours.  And for money.  Talk about greed.

They’ve declared that their specific aim is to counter Glenn Beck, the Tea Parties, and Fox News. That’s some objective. They claim that the Tea Parties may overturn their objective of progressive social justice. They fear women will be forced into homemaker servitude, that illegal immigrants will be deported, children will go hungry, the elderly will be homeless, racism will once again dominate the land, and union workers will have to work for minimum wage.

Worst of all, they might have to work for a living and pray to God if the Tea Party takes over.

May the Geese of God hiss at them.

Put Your Dreams Away

Put your dreams away/for another day/And I will take their place in your heart/Wishing on a star never got you far/And so it’s time to make a new start – Frank Sinatra, Put Your Dreams Away, 1945.

In campaigning for his job recovery legislation, Obama claimed that, “if we don't move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe. Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes, and their health care.  Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold.

“From the beginning, this recovery plan has had at its core a simple idea: Let's put Americans to work doing the work America needs done. It will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, all across the country - 16,000 in Maine, nearly 80,000 in Indiana - almost all of them in the private sector, and all of them jobs that help us recover today, and prosper tomorrow.”

He fails to mention of course that it is the taxpayers’ money supporting all these “private sector” jobs.  Thanks to the Democrats and their Moderate Republican sycophants, we were plunged into this economic disaster, one long in the making, ever since the Community Reinvestment Act from the Jimmy Carter era.

Instead of wishing on a star, the American people are forced to wish upon the government.  Like some fairy godmother in a fairy tale, Obama thinks Nancy Pelosi can just wave her magic wand and print up magical money.  Soon, the U.S. dollar is going to be about as valuable as Monopoly money.

When I was little, my father took me to the library to hear stories about leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day.  We took a walk in the park, where there was a little pond.  Peering through the grass, I saw with my childish eyes one of the green-clad elves, no higher than a blade of grass.

“Aha!” I cried.  “I’ve caught you!  Now you have to give me your pot of gold!”

“Oh now, just a minute now, little girly,” he said nervously, as I backed him up against the tree.  “There are rules.  If you want my pot o’gold, you have to catch me first and you can’t take your eyes off me!”  As I reached for the imp and his little pot of gold, I heard a heavy footstep in the underbrush; my father was coming.

I made the mistake of turning my head.  When I looked back, the leprechaun – and his gold-filled pot - were gone.  A frog croaked nearby and splashed into the water.  That’s what the storyteller had said – that leprechauns could transform into animals to escape capture.

“I just saw a leprechaun!  I almost got his pot of gold,” I cried, but my father tushed.

“There’s no such thing as leprechauns,” he said.  “You were just imagining things. If you want a pot of gold in this life, you’re just going to have to earn it for yourself.”

‘And not rob little green men of what belongs to them,’ I guiltily reproved myself.  Had I just demonstrated how greedy and wicked I was, coveting someone else’s property?

There’s a time when you have to grow up and stop believing in leprechauns and the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Great Pumpkin (though not Santa Claus –he’s a special case).  You have to grow up and believe in yourself, your abilities, and your country.  If you want to succeed, you have to believe in freedom and capitalism.  You have to believe in America, not the fairy tale with which Obama, the Democrats, and Moderate Republicans have deceived us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pride Day

On Saturday, I was faced with a conflict of allegiances. My band was scheduled to play at the town’s Pride Day event, as it does every year. For a change, I arrived over an hour early and discovered that my Tea Party group was there, too. I didn’t think they had operations this far north of their home base.

But I trotted over to say hello and help out. The problem was, I was wearing my band insignia polo shirt and people were confusing my band with the Tea Party. Then, I thought, well my patriotic colonial woman costume had just arrived. I could run back home (five minutes away), throw it on, and later, take it off for the concert.

People make fun of the costumes but I have no personal pride when it comes to displaying my affection for my country. Most people were amused, which was my intention; only a few Liberals smirked. The tea party group had a United States of America puzzle map. We turned the table to the front and invited kids to come help us “put America back together again.”

One grouchy old man snarled at me (as I held my American flag and my ramrod – I was supposed to be Molly Pitcher, but they say I looked more like Martha Washington) and asked if I was “one of them Tea Partiers?”

I thought to myself, well what do you think, buddy? Then he wanted to know if I was against Obama. I told him personally, yes, because I was against Big Government, High Taxes, and Corruption. He walked away grumbling. “I don’t want nothing to do with no Obama-haters.”

The other interesting customer was some woman representing a medical care provider. “Isn’t it great to live in America where you don’t have to be a Christian and bow to their God?” I was so speechless, I couldn’t bring myself to utter what I was thinking: I stood there, my finger pointing heavenward, “I’m not here to promote a particular religion; but I also don’t think it’s a great idea to insult God.” But that was her problem, not mine. In the Christian religion, praying (mind you, praying, not bowing) is a personal choice. In some other religions, it isn’t.

By the time the band was ready to play, I didn’t want to take off the costume, which of course was a mistake. If it wasn’t right to wear the band’s insignia inside the Tea Party’s tent, then I shouldn’t have been dressed as a Tea Partier during the concert.

My laziness got the better of me though (it was something of an ordeal getting into the costume in the first place) and the director was understandably upset. Still, it’s not like I drove any audience members away. People never pay attention to us at this particular concert. They don’t really need to sit to hear us anyway; it’s a small field and you can hear us from any point.

When kids are faced with an open, grassy field, they want to run, scamper and caper, not sit still; not with so many attractions around. So I didn’t feel all that bad. However, there’s another conflict next weekend between a parade and the N.J. Tea Party Rally at Great Adventure.

Since I discomfitted my band director, I owe it to him to attend the parade on Saturday. Besides it’s fifty bucks to get into Great Adventure at a time when I need to be watching my pennies. I had bought the costume with the notion of wearing it to the N.J. Tea Party Rally on Oct. 2nd.

But now I’ve had my chance to wear the costume, probably to greater good (we attracted quite a few visitors), so I can do my duty by my poor band and not neglect them. Besides, the autumn is just a fine time for parading. It’s supposed to be a cool, beautiful day Saturday. I’ll save money and a long drive and repay my band for being “out of uniform.”

Still, there was some solace, despite my error and the occasional critic, in sacrificing my “pride” by wearing a costume – the gratitude of all the townspeople who thanked us, the Tea Party, for being there.