Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

Animal sacrifices are a sure sign that any civilization is on the downward slope.  What does it say of a country when it allows its national bird to be killed in a ritual animal sacrifice?  What happened to animal rights?  What happened to preserving endangered species?

The other day, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service issued a rare permit allowing the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming to kill two bald eagles in a religious ceremony.  The tribe, through lawsuits filed by the Native American Rights Fund, contends that refuse to issue such permits violates a tribes’ religious freedom.

Last time anyone checked, no one gets the right to perform animal sacrifices.  Not in the America we used to know, anyone.  Although Native Americans can apply for eagle feathers and carcasses from a federal repository, that’s not enough.  These Indians want screaming eagles.

According to a report by MSNBC, “Federal law prohibits the killing of bald eagles, the national bird, in almost all cases. The government keeps eagle feathers and body parts in a federal repository and tribal members can apply for them for use in religious ceremonies.

“The bald eagle was removed from the federal list of threatened species in 2007, following its reclassification in 1995 from endangered to threatened. However, the species has remained protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009 stated in a report that it had never issued a permit for the killing of bald eagles to that time. The report states the government had issued permits for the Hopi Tribe in Arizona to take golden eagles since the mid-1980s.  Federal lawyers filed a status report in the lawsuit on Tuesday saying that the Eastern Shoshone Tribe had opposed the killing of eagles on the Wind River Indian Reservation, which the two tribes share in central Wyoming. The report states that the federal permit will allow the Northern Arapaho to kill up to two bald eagles off the reservation.

“Filed late last year, the lawsuit is essentially the continuation of a bitter legal fight that followed after tribal member Winslow Friday killed a bald eagle without a permit in 2005 for use in his tribe's Sun Dance. Friday shot the eagle on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

“William Downes, then a federal judge in Wyoming, dismissed the charge against Friday in 2006 saying it would have been pointless for him to apply for a permit.

“Downes said the federal government generally refuses to grant permits to tribal members to kill eagles even though federal regulations say such permits should be available.

“’Although the government professes respect and accommodation of the religious practices of Native Americans, its own actions show callous indifference to such practices,’ Downes wrote.

“Federal prosecutors appealed Downes' decision and a federal appeals court reinstated the criminal charge against Friday. After the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately refused to hear his case, Friday pleaded guilty in tribal court and was ordered to pay a fine.

“Baldwin said the tribe's lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service was directly related to the government's prosecution of Friday.

“’One of the goals of the current suit is to prevent any young men like Winslow Friday from being prosecuted in the future for practicing their traditional religious ceremonies,’ Baldwin said.

“Senior members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe appeared at an Senior members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe appeared at an appeals court hearing court in Denver in late 2007 in support of Friday.

“Nelson P. White Sr., then a member of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, said after the hearing that the birds Native Americans receive from a federal depository were rotten, or otherwise unfit for use in religious ceremonies.

“’That's unacceptable,’ White said after the court hearing. ‘How would a non-Indian feel if they had to get their Bible from a repository?”

We non-Indians don’t need to shoot our Bibles out of the trees, especially one that is also a recognized national symbol.  But then, Indians don’t regard themselves as Americans.  They consider themselves “Native Americans.”  They are no more native to this continent than any of us.  Paleontologists state that the “Native Americans” came over an Ice Age land bridge from Asia.  Coming down from Alaska, they gradually migrated eastward, although certain Indian legends say that the Lenni Lenape were actually here all along, emerging from caves after the glaciers receded.

This lawsuit affords Obama the opportunity of killing two birds with one act.  First, he gets to destroy a symbol of American freedom and courage.  The tribes spout a lot of baloney about actually honoring the eagle by killing it.  Yeah, right.  This the same sort of barbaric practice found all across Europe and Asia in the Dark Ages, through the history of Rome; gladiators killing lions and tigers and eating their hearts before the throngs of Roman citizens for their amusement.

Back in the 1970s, there was a famous environmental commercial showing an Indian canoeing his way along a garbage-strewn river with a tear in his eye.  The commercial also featured a soaring bald eagle.  The Indian tribes turn up their noses at eagles they haven’t hunted themselves.  The repository offers plenty of birds killed by accident, one of those accidents being the giant windmills, which is killing thousands of golden eagles as well as other birds.  So much for saving the environment and conserving resources. 

Opening the way for Native Americans will also open the way for other religions that practice animal sacrifices.  These include most pagan religions, African tribes, cults of the Caribbean, the Muslims and even certain Orthodox Jewish orders.  Christianity is one of the few religions that proscribes animal worship and sacrifice (as well as human).  Baal (pronounced ‘bale’ – Glenn Beck got it right; I checked the Dad Dictionary – that’s how it’s pronounced), or Beezlebub (the Lord of the Flies) must be delighted.

In Muslim countries, animal sacrifice is so common, it’s done right in the streets and the public squares.  Is this our future?  The crèche will not be permitted in the public square, but go right ahead and sacrifice that lamb, goat, or eagle.   We must respect the diversity of world religions, even if they are a bit gory.  Just don't eat it.  PETA won't like that.

After all, we’re a “tolerant” society.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Writing is on the Screen

After over 200 years of publication, according to the Associated Press, Encyclopaedia Britannica announced it would stop publishing print editions of its 32-volume encyclopedia.  Instead, the company will be focusing on its online encyclopedia.

Encyclopedia Britannica was first published in Scotland in 1768.  When the current stock runs out, the print version will no longer be available for sale.  The top year for the printed encyclopedia was 1990, when 120,000 sets were sold, president Jose Cauz said.  Six years later, that number fell to 40,000. The company started exploring digital publishing in the 1970s. The first CD-ROM edition was published in 1989 and a version went online in 1994.  The final hardcover encyclopedia set is available for sale at Britannica's website for $1,395.

The company plans to mark the end of the print version by making the contents of its website available free for one week, starting Tuesday.  Online versions of the encyclopedia now serve more than 100 million people around the world and are available on mobile devices, the company said. The encyclopedia has become increasingly social as well, Cauz said, because users can send comments to editors.

“A printed encyclopedia is obsolete the minute that you print it,” Cauz said.  “Whereas our online edition is updated continuously.”

Lynne Kobayashi of the Language, Literature & History section of the Hawaii State Library notes some people will always prefer using print sources, but that readers are becoming attuned to online searching because of a proliferation of electronic publishing.

“There are many advantages to online searching, chief among them the ability to search within the text,” Kobayashi said. “The major disadvantage is the need for a computer or devices with access to the Internet.”

Kobayashi said her decision to use traditional or online resources depends on the question she wants answered.

“Sometimes subject knowledge and familiarity with standard resources may get faster results than keying in a search and sifting through results,” she said. “If the search is broader, searching across several online sources may yield more options.”

As a former associate editor of directories, there are advantages to both electronic and print publications.  Our directories were even more time-critical than Encyclopaedia Brittanica, which is science and history-oriented.  The directories took a full year to bring to publication and the directories were, indeed, obsolete, by the time they came out, particularly the directory that dealt with broadcasting.  As a broadcasting major, I warned my editor that radio and television stations experience extreme turnover rates, since moving from station to station was often the only way broadcasting professionals could advance.  My unwelcome advice was to consider putting the directories on CD and even online, where the information could be more easily changed.

That was in the early 1990s.  The Internet was a merely a new fad at the time.  Computers didn’t have the platforms for easy access; you had to type in so many commands before you could find the information.

For researchers looking for current information, say, who is the current news producer at Fox News, online information is the preferable method.  That having been said, there are dangers to electronic information:  the reliability of the power source, the expense of the equipment, and the reliability of the information.  Hackers can all too easily alter facts, as users of Wikipedia have discovered.

Publishers can hardly be blamed for balking at the cost of publishing a 32-volume encyclopedia for a diminishing audience and diminishing returns.  The cost devolves onto the consumer, instead in the form of an electronic device.  Yet there is such a danger in this transformation to the freedom of information.  Information does change quickly, as we found to our frustration on the broadcasting book.  Nevertheless, history needs to retained in a more permanent, reliable form than the electronic form.

We need to protect both forms, the former for the convenience of a modern public, and the latter for the sake of the truth.  Electronic information can be withheld from an ignorant public, but so can books, especially when a major publisher finds the books are too expensive to publish.  With only the electronic information available, information can disappear with click of a mouse.  In the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, certain key information, initially published by the New York Daily, via the Associated Press, disappeared within an hour.

Mistakes can be readily corrected, as we bloggers have been found, but politically correcting information can be a mistake fatal to freedom.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Finding Our Courage

Every Sunday, there are a couple of televangelists who preach the Gospel for those who can’t or don’t want to go to church.  They bring the Word of God right into your living room.  It’s very convenient.

One spoke about accepting God’s forgiveness for making mistakes, but not letting anyone stop you from going where God tells you to go.  The second preacher told his congregation not to be afraid of anything and not to give into the temptations of Satan.  He noted that it’s a subject people don’t like to discuss or think about, but that he’s out there, overflowing with hatred for Man and sneering at humans when they allow themselves to be led into making mistakes.

He was so full of courage that he would be willing to stand in front of an onrushing tornado and tell it to stop in the name of the Lord.  Wow.  I don’t know that the Bible really said that.  I don’t remember where I read but I seem to recall reading something about not tempting the Lord, thy God, and that He has to let Nature to do her stuff.  When she does, God advises us to get out of her way; He’ll warn us to get out of the way but He won’t necessarily stop the devastation (unless He happens to feel like performing a miracle at that moment).

New Jerseyans are notoriously timid turtles.  Having come from the Big City, or raised by parents who did, they learned a different truth about neighbors than say, someone from Texas or Iowa; don’t get involved.  In New York City, you don’t even glance at the other people, and you must walk in lockstep with the flow or get trampled and cursed.  That is why people moved out to the suburbs.

New Jerseyans didn’t necessarily want to go all the way out to the hinterlands, even as far as that other river.  Competition for housing and high taxes forced them that far out.  Once they got here, they didn’t want to leave.  Another generation has arisen, lured by popular culture which glorifies urban culture, that is bored by all the trees, detest the noise of the singing birds, and are interested in nothing so much as shopping at the local, citified mall.

Sure, they go mountain biking and so forth – out of vanity, not a love of nature necessarily.  They want to prove how rugged they can be.  They’ll scale vertical cliffs and snowboard down icy slopes.  But ask them to stand up for freedom.  Fugeddaboutdit!  It’s not “cool” anymore.  It’s very 18th Century.

Glenn Beck, on his television program, advised potential web designers to think in terms of neutral colors, rather than red, white, and blue, which is a turn-off, he says, to the younger generation.  Unfortunately, he’s quite right.  Our peer pressured younger generation wants to blend into the scenery.  They want to be part of the crowd; the last thing they want to do is stand out in a crowd. 

Freedom fighters are pretty much on their own.  Standing up for freedom takes a lot more guts than freewheeling down a wooded trail.  You must have more stamina and a much thicker skin.  Glenn Beck highlighted 9/12ers who had lost or endangered their jobs because of their Tea Party activities.  It’s not the kind of thing you can put on a resume.
Do we dare to stand up in public rallies (the Tea Parties have pretty much abandoned; they are, admittedly, time and labor intensive)?  Do we dare to pass out flyers?  Stand up at town hall meetings (if we can even get called upon)?  Do we dare tell the truth to a public that doesn’t want to hear it (especially in Nervous New Jersey)?  Do we dare flout an increasingly bureaucratic government?

Shall we really stand up and defy that bureaucracy?  Or do we shake our heads – “Not me” – fearing for our jobs, our homes, our families, and our lives?  Do we take the “diplomatic,” moderate approach and go along to get along?  The Jews tried it in Poland?  How did that work out for them?

Or… do we do whatever we can do, in the face of threats and ostracism?  Maybe it’s true – we’re in the path of the tornado, a raging flood of inertia, and cannot stop it.  All the same, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t rescue freedom from the path of the tornado, that we shouldn’t warn our neighbors, friends, family that the tornado is coming to rip freedom from its roots.  Did we hear right that Marysville, Ind., will get no federal help, incidentally?  They shouldn’t have to.

The Progressives worship Nature.  Perhaps they believe Nature, in the form of tornados and floods is doing their work for them.  Once the houses are swept from the Plains, the government can go in and reclaim all that land as government property.  They can reclaim all the houses in Pompton Lakes either condemned by the Plume or the Flood.  That’s Agenda 21/Smart Growth/Sustainable Development.

Fighting Agenda 21 is probably the best way to engage Closet Conservatives because this plan hits them right where they live.  You can hide from foreign aid to Middle East nations, the contraception controversy, Occupy Wall Street, and Islamic terrorists out in the suburbs.

But Agenda 21 is coming for you turtles out there.  Sticking your head in your shells won’t save you.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Just Keep Playing

Last Thursday night, The Chicago Symphony, under the direction of Riccardo Muti, was playing the second movement of the Brahms Symphony No. 2, when the sound of a fistfight broke out in one of the upper boxes, where good manners usually reign.

Venues like Orchestra Hall have very strict rules about noise.  Disturbing a soloist by sneezing or coughing is frowned upon.  Cell phones ringing will get you a glare, although one concert musician had a good sense of humor, and he played back the ringtone on his violin.

Fistfights breaking out during a classical music concert hall are unheard of, though.  Orchestra Hall isn’t a mosh pit or Woodstock, don’t you know?

Our band, on the other hand, has played under the most unusually noisy circumstances.  We’ve played at Fourth of July concerts where the fireworks landed between the bass drummer and the cymbal player.  We’ve played for the mentally-challenged (which was probably the best, the biggest, and the most appreciative audience we ever had; we hoped we could play for them again).  We’ve played in shopping malls, where we had to compete with Muzak.

We also play at nursing homes around our area.  That is not to confuse nursing homes with retirement homes.  Retirement homes are places where retired people with health problems go to live in comfort and security.  They’re generally still mobile and cognizant.  Nursing homes are a degree past that.  These are people with serious, debilitating illnesses who may or may not recover.  Many are in wheelchairs or even wheelbeds.  Some have Alzheimer’s, others have suffered strokes.  They are, shall we say kindly, uninhibited.

We are a thoroughly disciplined band.  For an amateur band, we are as professional in this aspect as the musicians of the Chicago Symphony.  We do not laugh, smirk, or get annoyed when a member of the band yells out, “Tell the band to shut up!  I’m trying to sleep!”  We and our director just soldier on, straight-faced.

This past Sunday, one of the sentient audience members, a visitor, not a patient, suggested that we play music that the audience can recognize.  This comment required more than the usual amount of discipline, as our conductor is new.  He had just finished explaining that the band was trying to bring its audience new, fresh music when what they really wanted was the old stuff we’ve always played.  The director said nothing, but the band secretary was highly-incensed.  Hey, don’t look at us.  We didn’t pay that guy in the back to make that comment.

According to the report from CBS Chicago, the conductor shot the battling offenders dagger eyes.  But he never missed a beat. 

Tea Partiers should take note, whenever they find themselves the object of ridicule by the Media or the Liberals:  Don’t even bother to shoot your adversaries dagger eyes.  Just keep talking.