Archive for July, 2009
I will be leaving in, literally, about five minutes for Myrtle Beach, S.C., and will not be back until sometime Sunday. I hope everyone has a good weekend. I, for one, will be contemplating what it must have been like for Edna, the caged, later uncaged, heroine of The Awakening, to face the sea and decide that a more restful life awaits inside than without. For the moment, however, I am decidely unawake. But presumably, that will change.
As if we needed anymore proof that leaders in Iran, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but especially Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the latter of whom’s addresses to the public are not even considered speeches, but sermons, and are rife with religious nonsense, were living in the dark ages, here’s further proof.
As The New York Times reported July 28:
The accounts of prison abuse in Iran’s postelection crackdown — relayed by relatives and on opposition Web sites — have set off growing outrage among Iranians, including some prominent conservatives. More bruised corpses have been returned to families in recent days, and some hospital officials have told human rights workers that they have seen evidence that well over 100 protesters have died since the vote.
On Tuesday, the government released 140 prisoners in one of several conciliatory gestures aimed at deflecting further criticism. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a letter urging the head of the judiciary to show “Islamic mercy” to the detainees, and on Monday Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, personally intervened and closed an especially notorious detention center. — Robert F. Worth, The New York Times, July 28
Islamic mercy, you say?!? Islam is not a religion of mercy, nor peace, no matter how much apologists, world leaders, including our president, attempts to cast it in that light. From Surah Al Baqarah 2:191 , we have:
And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.
In this, rather flimsy defense of the above verse, the writer of the site says the passage will be made all better and more moral if we are only to read it in context. So, let’s do just that:
YUSUFALI: Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.
YUSUFALI: And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.
YUSUFALI: But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful
YUSUFALI: And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.
So, from this, we have that Allah, apparently not the same all-loving god of the Bible, doesn’t even love transgressors (Does this mean sinners? Unbelievers? Attackers of Muslims?), so we are to slay them (transgressors) wherever we catch them, for, the verse notes, “for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter.” But, the verse reads, “fight them not,” at the mosque (But slaying them at other locations is better?) unless they fight you first. But if they do fight you, “slay them.”
First, I must say, are these kindergartners we’re talking about or grown men? Only children (or very immature men and women) are unlearned or uncultured enough to, at times, to seek retaliation for offenses. And here, even, God’s (Allah’s) word is telling us to strike back. Quite a rudimentary way of thinking and acting, if you ask me. From the original poster:
So here is the passage being quoted in context, and as you can see when the verse is quoted in context one will notice there is no terrorism or genocide being preached or advocated! The context is if MUSLIMS GET ATTACKED then Muslims have the right to attack back [Why should they have this right?], and the context is very clear on that, the theme comes into play on verse 190, not verse 191 which non-Muslims quote alone, the non-Muslim should quote from verse 190 onwards, and once doing so one will see that this is a defensive war, not an offensive one, if people attack the Muslims then the Muslims have the right to attack back, and that is exactly what the verses are saying.
The verses even say that if the people who started the fight begin to stop and make peace than we too must also stop and make peace as well, far from terrorism.
So it is that simple, verse 191 does not advocate terrorism or genocide, it advocates self-defense as can be seen from it context starting from verse 190 which states that if Muslims are attacked then we can attack back, and the context goes on to say that if the enemies stop attacking and make peace then we too should make peace, very simply and easy!
Still the axioms of Christ, if they were really spoken by him, that of teaching man to turn the other cheek, are far superior to this childish reactionary retaliation. Who cares if the verse does not advocate terrorism or genocide? It, among other verses in the Koran, was reason enough for God-fearing, paradise-believing men to steer hijacked planes into the World Trade Center based on that supposed sacred document’s good word. What peace-loving religion retaliates on its naysayers?
And under this cloak of ignorance, stupidity, myth and legend, coupled with its supremely stupified leader, Iran, once a beacon of learning (It still is to some degree), clambers toward an enlightenment it will never see, at least not under its Mecca-bowing, dim-witted leaders and followers.
In National Football League news Monday, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was reinstated into the league by commissioner Roger Goodell, in a move that, frankly, I thought I would never see. I thought Vick’s football career, for all practical purposes, was one-and-done.
But Vick’s reinstatement didn’t come without a laundry list of baby-sitting type provisions, which, in turn, probably didn’t come without a certain measure of groveling on Vick’s part. They include:
… to have counselors and mentors guide him through his attempted comeback (former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy is serving as the NFL’s liaison). Vick must keep Goodell apprised about his living arrangements if/when signing with an NFL team. Vick even needs to tell Goodell how he will “manage his financial affairs” and follow that plan. — Alex Marvez, FOX Sports
Financial affairs?!? Regardless in a touché-rendering comment, Marvez, of course, didn’t forget to include a hefty dose of facetiousness when writing on the topic, perhaps referencing Vick’s original offense of sponsoring a dog-fighting racket:
The only clause Goodell forgot was one forcing Vick to sit, beg and roll over on command.
The vote’s out on which unlucky NFL team might take on the baggage that is Mr. Vick, but it goes without saying that he’s not necessarily a prize catch, even without the dogfighting conviction. His stats are middle-of-the-road at best. That’s not to say that greatness can’t light on him once the ghosts flea from his shoulders, but it’s yet to be seen.
If you need or want an interesting detour from the daily grind at work, pick a topic and Google different media outlets’ reports on the same news item and look at how the accounts differ. For an especially entertaining detour, compare how the official vessel of a certain organization or government agency — say, the Obama administration’s official Web site — handles a news item versus a separate media outlet with no dog in the dog-fighting hunt.
Marvez, with FOX Sports, for instance, was particularly pointed on the Goodell decision when he said:
This isn’t a teenager we’re talking about. Vick is 29 years old. Provided he isn’t breaking the law again or violating NFL policy, Vick should be allowed to make his own financial and living decisions even if they’re bad ones (like squandering tens of millions of dollars en route to bankruptcy). Such is the responsibility — and privilege — that comes with being an adult.
Meanwhile, if we scoot over to nfl.com, we find Thomas George, senior analyst for the company’s official Web site playing a different tune:
We know this: The way the Vick story unfolded Monday assured that Favre’s decision would not be revealed on the same day. No way. The NFL is too smooth to allow these two mega stories to collide. It appears to be a cloaked orchestration across the highest levels.
And that’s OK.
Because if it all clicks for the league, if Vick gets it right and gets his shot and Favre returns, the NFL has a 2009 season that percolates well beyond its usual frenzy. Sure, there are plenty of curious tales across the league minus Vick and Favre. But this duo, these quarterbacks, can generate a blitz of coverage, spotlight and fan interest unlike anything we have seen in the previous 89 NFL seasons.
The difference doesn’t really matter, per se. The NFL is free to spin a fantastically unpopular fellow’s return to the league — as well as Brett Favre’s growing unpopularness, tiredness and unwillingness to fade into the Hall of Fame with dignity — anyway it wishes. That is, after all, in its best interest to do so. But it’s quite entertaining for the rest of us with the time and compulsion to bring to light the differences. And there’s a lesson in the Vick story that goes well beyond sports: there’s usually far more to any news story than the official organ or the supposedly objective news outlets care to admit. In all likelihood, the truth, if one had the omniscience to find its absoluteness, probably lies somewhere in between.
As you will see, I have a made some minor to changes to the blog. I attempted to make a rather significant change, by adding a plugin called “IntenseDebate” to the server, but when I did, most the sidebar that you see to the right vanished. As I was unable, on a couple attempts, to rectify the situation, I simply deactivated the new plugin and carried on. In its defense, had the plugin not affected other aspects of the site, I would very much had advocated it, as it allowed for comment threading and feedback on particular posts. It would have given me and users more control, but alas, it screwed things up pretty severely, so it’s disabled for now.
I did, however, add a quotes collection widget to the sidebar, and will be adding to it as I see fit. There are quite a few — OK, probably hundreds — of quotes in books that I own that I will have to hunt for and dig out, but for now, I’ve supplied 70 or so that will randomly rotate on each visit to the site. Also, the footer, all the way at the bottom, is no longer brown (an aesthetic I always detested, but never addressed until now) and is black, which matches the rest of the site. Also, the nonsensical thing at the bottom has been replaced by a copyright statement by me, which should have been there all along, saying that all of this mind-blowing writing (I trust you can very well hear the sarcasm in that statement) is, indeed, my own and protected by law.
Oh, yes! My Twitter tweets (For real, I really hate saying or writing the word “tweet” to mean anything other than what birds do) but my daily, maniacal musings are archived there on the sidebar, fed from Twitter. And that’s it! I appreciate any and all who have been reading and commenting. Please continue if you see fit. Suffice it to say: more rabble-rousing to come!
I’m not a huge Chris Matthews fan, but here he discusses the supposed controversy over President Barack Obama’s citizenship with John Campbell of California:
in which Matthews’ continued badgering gets Campbell to admit that “as far as I know” Obama is a naturalized citizen. Campbell, later in the interview said, “that bill is not about Barack Obama,” but the bill was written because of questions surrounding Obama’s citizenship. As I said, I don’t necessarily go along with everything Matthews does, but I applaud his tenacity in getting Campbell to, it seems somewhat reluctantly, to admit Obama’s full citizenship status, and to in some measure, establish that the arguments contrary to Obama’s citizenship are a farce.
Note: Edited with additional comments July 22, 2009.
Here is something I’ve been stewing over the last couple weeks as the God question, and my response to it, has apparently stirred the waters enough to compel quite a number of folks to pen their own stories and their reasons for belief to me. They all can be read as you scroll down to the bottom of the above link.
The question is this: What would compel me, specifically, and others, I would dare say, to be more inclined to believe the claims of the Bible. To begin, Dan Barker, a former pastor and sold-out Christian, in his book, “Godless,” used a telling quote from Mark Twain in chapter 13 of his book:
It ain’t those parts of the bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
Ain’t it the truth! From Barker, briefly, here are a few points:
Should we kill? Exodus 20:13 of the Ten Commandments says no (So does Leviticus 24:17), while Exodus 32:27; 1 Samuel 6:19; 1 Samuel 15:2, 3, 7, 8; Numbers 15:36; Hosea 13:16 recounted where either the Lord or the people of Israel ordered or ordered to put folks to the sword or “dasheth thy little ones upon the stones,” and in many cases, many, many folks.
Does God change his mind? Nay: Malachi 3:6, Numbers 23:19, Ezekial 24:14, James 1:17 versus the Yays, Exodus 32:14, Jonah 3:10, Genesis 18: 23-33, where God changes his mind about how many of the righteous are required before he will destroy the city. God bargained with Abraham from 50 to 10. Notes Barker: “An omniscient God must have known that he was playing with Abraham’s hopes for mercy — he (God) destroyed the city anyway.”
Is God good or evil? Yes: Psalm 145:9, Deuteronomy 32:4; Nay: Isaiah 45:7, Jeremiah 18:11
When was Jesus born? Matthew 2:1 says that it was before 4 B.C.E.: “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king …” (Herod died in 4 B.C.E., as Barker notes); versus, Luke 2:1-4, which suggests after 6 C.E. For more on this point, see this link.
When was Jesus crucified? Mark 15:25 versus John 19:14-15. Notes Barker, “It is an ad hoc defense to claim that there are two methods of reckoning time here. It has never been shown that this is the case.”
How many animals on the ark? Genesis 6:19 versus Genesis 7:2.
I could go on, but you get the picture. One commentator to my earlier post said that once I seriously investigated the Bible and asked for God’s guidance, that these and other “contradictions” (He put it in quotes) would be reconciled. Very well and invite that day, but as of now, there are serious questions. I said at the beginning that I had been thinking of a way that God could have possibly saved folks like me, who are bothered by contradictory details, a lot of trouble. And here it is:
A GOD-AUTHORED BIBLE, FOR REAL THIS TIME
How about this? God created the entire cosmos in six days, correct? If so, this request should have been a piece of cake. For God to make a better case for himself, he should simply have authored the entire Bible himself, not through human vessels, but literally before he created anything. In that expanse before creation that was filled only by himself, he could have easily created out of thin air a pen and notepad. He could have easily penned the Bible as he would have written it in 200-plus translations, including Greek, ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, French, German, Old English, modern English, Spanish, Swedish, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, Yiddish, etc. For later generations, he could have easily created a computer and created for modern people any number of cassette tapes, 8-tracks, CDs, Blu-ray discs or any other medium of communication that would have been invented in the future containing either audio of “his word” or text documents of his word. Or one step further: Why bother with inventing anything to then physically go about the tedious routine of writing? Since he’s God, he could have simply spoken the entire thing into existence right then and there off the top of his head.
Since he is omniscient, he could have easily given us accurate, non-contradictory accounts of every single event in history up until a certain period in which he deemed fit, including spot-on, non-contradictory accounts of every event mentioned in the Bible. He could deliver this “true” account to mankind, at, say, 40 A.D. after Christ’s crucifixion and then deliver the same account to each generation hence so that every generation would have the current word from God. And since he is also all-powerful, he could have also made darn-well sure that the accounts he authored would not be corrupted, edited, changed, or restructured by the church.
Now, if we had such an account today that contained zero, not one, self-contradiction (and this would be possible for an omniscient, all-powerful god), I confess that I would be more inclined to believe. But as it stands, how could God, who was supposedly attempting to deliver the most important message humankind will ever hear in its existence, let his word pass into human hands? The first word that we have of the current canon is from Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt in 367 C.E., as it appears today:
By the time of Athanasius, or shortly before, the church had reached an informal consensus about most of the writings to be included in the ‘New’ Testament. — Roy W. Hoover, “How the Canon Was Formed”
So, the structure of the current Bible that we have is far from God-breathed in so much that it was physically authored by men and arranged by men. Believers will obviously say it was inspired by God. But this does us no good. If a fellow named Luke, a true believer, composed a book today and called it God’s 21st Century Epistle and in its pages claimed that it was the inspired word from God for modern man, would we not question its authenticity? Then why do we not question the authenticity of books written thousands of years ago by folks supposedly from Bronze Age Mesopotamia?
And further, who were these folks that had the authority to decide which books made it in and which books were heresy? Who gave them that authority? Again, I could claim the same authority to again arrange them as I was inspired by God, or author a new one, but many would be quick to call foul (Thomas Jefferson, not necessarily on God’s authority, did something similar, which came to be called the Jefferson Bible). Thus, the current Bible could have been improved with an actual, true to life, word from God. If it were so important that we believe, either in him or in Christ, or both, shouldn’t he have given us more? I envision such a statement as a possible preface to a truly God-authored Bible compiled, not by men, but by God himself. To begin, it would read:
My sons and daughters,
These are my words, the history of man, my instructions for living your lives and my prophecies concerning the end times. Do not edit, rearrange, redact or in anyway alter these words. These are the words from the Lord your God in which you must keep for all times.
But we don’t have such a record, do we? We have the Bible which is unquestionably flawed, and I’ve proven that point repeatably, and can go even further. Again, if we had a document straight from God with zero snafus, for real, I would be less inclined to poise any questions about its validity. To add something here: Even if we had such a book, the need for faith would not be erased. Even if God physically and literally intervened in human affairs today, this would still not erase the need for faith. We see this in numerous places in the Bible, where men saw wondrous things with their own eyes, and once the miracle was complete, fell back into doubt. The Israelites had vast reasons to believe, didn’t they? But they continually fell back into idol worship. So, I don’t believe this request would have been too much to ask, but this isn’t the document in front of us.
Numerous news outlets have now carried the story about the Australian amateur space enthusiast who discovered the “something” that appears to have crashed into Jupiter, leaving a spot on the surface the size of Earth.
Here, you will find many facts about Jupiter, the most interesting to me being that the planet has little or no solid surface. The planet is said to be composed mainly of helium and hydrogen. At the top of the clouds, which vary in color from brown, white, yellow and red, the temperature is somewhere around -230 degrees. In one lower layer of the atmosphere, the temperature warms to a temperate 70 degrees — It’s at this layer where life could exist, scientists think, if at all — and down to the core, which burns at a toasty 43,000 degrees, which is hotter than the sun’s surface.
If there is any possibility of life in that 70-degree zone, it had better be a tough species because Jupiter, for all its color, is a fantastically violent place. Storms, the most prominent of which is called the Great Red Spot — there’s a more recently developed one called Red Spot Jr. — resemble, from our vantage point, hurricanes of gas clouds. And like Earth’s storms, lightning is also present.
As you’ll read in the articles, the impact of the “something:”
… comes almost exactly 15 years after a comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9 struck Jupiter, ‘sending up blazing fireballs and churning the Jovian atmosphere into dark storms, one of them as large as Earth.’ — The New York Times, July 21, 2009
as reported in this article by The Times in 1994. Obviously, the planet Jupiter was named after the Roman king of the gods. The vote is out whether Jupiter’s tremendous size actually shielded the projectiles from us, but one could say, or speculate, as this Times reader does, that Jupiter has now taken more than one bullet for us:
‘If anything like that had hit the Earth it would have been curtains for us, so we can feel very happy that Jupiter is doing its vacuum-cleaner job and hoovering up all these large pieces before they come for us.’
Should we go back to worshiping Jupitor (sic)? ‘He’ seems to be very protective of us, almost, uh, Godlike? — Ben Daggett
I would add: If anything the size of Earth actually hits Earth, we wouldn’t just be closing the curtains, we would be vaporized. Heck, it would take only a comet the size of a state like Texas (and probably a much smaller one) to pretty well do us in, the likes of which will come dangerously close to us on Friday the 13th, 2029. Named Apophis, the Egyptian god of darkness and destruction, it will be the first asteroid in human history that will be visible to the naked eye. If, on that day at about 4:30 a.m. GMT, it passes through what scientists call a “key hole,” or a perfect, dead center spot, Apophis will strike Earth, no doubt about it, seven years later. Bring all the biblical symbolicism to the table and chew on that one for awhile!
Because I truly don’t seek to offend swaths of people in every post that I make — I know it’s hard to believe — I’m going to break from the God talk and the slavery question for a second to talk about the marvel that is Paul McCartney. Here is the video from his miniconcert on a recent edition of The Late Show with David Letterman:
At 67, McCartney doesn’t seem to have missed a step, not one. I mean, he’s not going to be running around the stage and climbing stage structures and stage diving like Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder in his younger days — McCartney was never that kind of performer — but his virtuosity on numerous instruments, not to mention his continued vocal ability and the ease by which he sings the most demanding tunes, allows him to thump along on his hand-picked Hofner semi-acoustic bass on “Band on the Run” and then switch to a Les Paul six-string for the riff-driven “Let Me Roll It.” Did anyone catch his bit of brief shredding at about 12:35 minutes into the above video? The current crew of supporting band members seem to have a certain chemistry with McCartney and are adept musicians in their own right. Quite a cohesive bunch on stage.
I may have written briefly about this before, but when I was young, I had an incredible affinity for The Beatles’ music, so much so that I thought I was actually born in the wrong generation. My knowledge of the band began in first (or second) grade when I participated in a play about the ugly duckling, in which I was part of the group of singers that provided, apparently, the accompaniment to the on-stage action. I probably didn’t have a clue what I was doing since I was only 7, but regardless, some of the songs we sang included The Song of the Volga Boatman (Yo heave ho!), “She Loves You” by The Beatles, “Loch Lomond” and others. “She Loves You,” consequently, was actually sung to me, specifically, during one practice. Many in the play (apparently most of them) knew I had a crush on this girl named Lindy Douglas, which lasted well into fifth grade. So, when “She Loves You” kicked off during this particular practice and the part that goes “She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah!” came around, I actually remember many of them pointing directly at me. She, indeed, did not love me, but that’s neither here nor there.
As my love of The Beatles’ music continued, I remember singing along to their songs for hours at the time at my grandparents’ house (My grandfather had a PA system with mics and all. I would even making recordings of me singing along). At some point in middle school (I think), my friend Byron Jones recorded an instrumental rendition of “Yesterday” played on the keyboard with drum accompaniment, which I was quite impressed with at the time. Later, upon picking up the six string myself, I learned numerous Beatles songs and still crack open a songbook now and then. My top 10 favorite Beatles songs, in order, would be:
- In My Life
- A Day in the Life
- Helter Skelter
- You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
- Hard Day’s Night
- Hello Goodbye
- We Can Work It Out
- Strawberry Fields Forever
So, with that, here’s some more rock ‘n roll for your enjoyment and remembrance from a much younger Paul, John Lennon and the gang:
ABC News and The Associated Press report that the Atlantic Coast Conference has pulled baseball tournaments from being played in Myrtle Beach, S.C. in 2011-2013 in light of the Confederate battle flag being flown on the State House grounds. For years, the NAACP, which I argued here was all-but irrelevant today, has imposed “economic sanctions” (The organization seems to have dropped the term “boycott” to describe its sanctions) on South Carolina for its continued presence of the Confederate flag on the grounds. The flag was placed there via a bill passed by an all-white legislature in 1962. Since, the NAACP has lobbied for the state to remove the flag. In 2000, lawmakers did take it down from the State House dome — it was formerly third from the top, under the state flag and the United States flag — and place it on a memorial site honoring the fallen during the Civil War. But to remove it completely from the grounds and place it in a museum would require separate legislation.
The State newspaper on Thursday published a telling letter to the editor from a writer describing himself as a “white Republican and graduate of an SEC school.” He had this to say on the topic:
Here’s what I’ve concluded after searching my soul. I don’t need to wait for the NAACP to make me understand that the Confederate flag deeply offends a huge percentage of the population of South Carolina and thus needs to be removed from the State House grounds. A person’s celebration of culture, history and heritage need not needlessly offend many of our fellow citizens. — Jay Glasgow, letter to the editor writer, July 16, 2009
In retort, a commenter on the newspaper’s Web site wrote (parenthesis mine):
Making an honourable (sic) symbol that many BRAVE (using all caps makes points more valid, doesn’t it?) men fought and died under a so called symbol of racism does not make it so. This flag at the monument is historically correct as it is a battle flag … I challenge you to stand up to the tyranny that manifests itself today to those who condemn our people who struggled against an invading army in a war that both sides should have avoided. … The real intelligence here Mr. Bubba (another commenter) is seeing that our heritage is being attacked and doing something about it. Black soldiers also fought for the Confederacy ,too.The monument educates the public on the REAL history of this struggle. — By Pawmetto
Some, like the following, again make the claim that the war was not about slavery:
A little history lesson: The succession of the southern states was about a lot more than slavery. The southern states had every right to succeed. It was that right that convinced the states to unite in the first place. — Pammiesue
Unfortunately, the writer, while stating the war was fought for “a lot more than slavery,” never gets around to mentioning any other causes.
I was going to let some of these comments go, but I should digress for a second. First, the Confederate soldiers, by and large, weren’t brave necessarily (some of them probably were), they were conscripted, or made to fight, by the first draft ever passed in American history. They were green (just like a lot of Northern fighters) and many of them abandoned the army. At one period, the South had an abundance of arms and equipment, but not enough men to use the stuff! It’s not exactly as if able-bodied men were flocking from their farms and families to join the Confederate cause. Most of them were forced to fight, and most of them didn’t even have a dog in that fight, as the Confederate cause was largely that of the slave owners. One of the first sentences a professor uttered to us during a Civil War class at Clemson University was, “The Civil War was caused by slavery and anti-slavery.” So, while states’ rights was an issue later, it wasn’t the issue. It was the reciprocal issue arising from the slavery question as a consequence. Northern lawmakers, of course, couldn’t allow slavery to expand into the western territories because they knew how corrosive a system slavery was to establishing any semblance of an industrial society. A minority of northerners had staunch moral objections to the peculiar institution, but most simply rejected slavery because of the former problem. Nor could lawmakers allow the South to invade parts of South America with intentions of setting up an entire sphere for slavery, in what would have been known as the Golden Circle, an ironic title in itself, since the kingdom would have been borne on the weight of black folks’ shoulders. And to speak on the black soldiers, most of them, as soon as they could, defected to the Union side, and again, like most of the white soldiers, they were made to serve. By that point in the history of slavery in America, I would imagine that at least some of the slaves had developed an institutional mentality, the same that long-time prison inmates develop, which suggests they are happier inside the institution (jail, plantation) than outside in the free world because it’s all they had known.
But back to the comments. Here’s another responding to the letter to the editor:
Applause for your thoughts, Mr. Glasgow! Sadly, most South Carolinians don’t have the intelligence to see as clearly as you do. SC will drown in its ignorance before aknowledging (sic) the error of leaving the flag up. — bubba
Finally, the most enlightening comment I’ve read thus far on this topic came from Sammy in response to another article about the NAACPs “sanctions” against South Carolina, who was noting, like The State’s letter writer, that the flag should be removed for good:
… a personal favorite moment of mine was when some guy in a car saw my anti-Bush bumper sticker and screamed “America! Love it or leave it!” He of course had a confederate flag on his truck. The irony was rather delicious. — Comment by Sammy, reader of ABC News article
The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. has done a laudable job, I think, of covering the recent stew over Gov. Mark Sanford’s brouhaha (and that’s not funny “haha”) regarding his affair with Maria Belen Chapur in Argentina. In this story, the newspaper reports that the media, from national outfits to local ones have been lobbying the Governor’s Office, and particularly Joel Sawyer, the governor’s spokesman, about potential interviews with the governor. At the last link, you can find PDF versions of e-mails obatained by The State via the Freedom of Information Act. Included are:
I think a word might be in order about the FOIA. Many people, though they rely on the press to do much of the legwork, don’t realize what is available to them via this law. I currently live in Georgia, but since Sanford was referenced, here are some documents that are in the public forum and available to any resident who requests them, whether they are a member of the media or not (from the South Carolina Code of Laws):
(d) The following records of a public body must be made available for public inspection and copying during the hours of operations of the public body without the requestor being required to make a written request to inspect or copy the records when the requestor appears in person:
(1) minutes of the meetings of the public body for the preceding six months;
(2) all reports identified in Section 30-4-50(A)(8) for at least the fourteen-day period before the current day; and
(3) documents identifying persons confined in any jail, detention center, or prison for the preceding three months.
The “reports” reference in part (2) are:
(A) Without limiting the meaning of other sections of this chapter, the following categories of information are specifically made public information subject to the restrictions and limitations of Sections 30-4-20, 30-4-40, and 30-4-70 of this chapter:
(1) the names, sex, race, title, and dates of employment of all employees and officers of public bodies;
(2) administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;
(3) final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases;
(4) those statements of policy and interpretations of policy, statute, and the Constitution which have been adopted by the public body;
(5) written planning policies and goals and final planning decisions;
(6) information in or taken from any account, voucher, or contract dealing with the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds by public bodies;
(7) the minutes of all proceedings of all public bodies and all votes at such proceedings, with the exception of all such minutes and votes taken at meetings closed to the public pursuant to Section 30-4-70;
(8) reports which disclose the nature, substance, and location of any crime or alleged crime reported as having been committed. Where a report contains information exempt as otherwise provided by law, the law enforcement agency may delete that information from the report.
(9) statistical and other empirical findings considered by the Legislative Audit Council in the development of an audit report.
(B) No information contained in a police incident report or in an employee salary schedule revealed in response to a request pursuant to this chapter may be utilized for commercial solicitation. Also, the home addresses and home telephone numbers of employees and officers of public bodies revealed in response to a request pursuant to this chapter may not be utilized for commercial solicitation. However, this provision must not be interpreted to restrict access by the public and press to information contained in public records.
Again, this is only South Carolina code. Other states have different codes. For a full list, visit this link. Generally, the long and short of it is that, specifically regarding police reports, which are often the most controversial, all initial police reports are public record whether they involve juveniles or not. Further, the juvenile’s name, age or address can not be blacked out. It’s all public record. To be fair, most, if not all, newspapers don’t print juvenile names if they were involved in crimes, but they have the right to. It’s just not in good prudence in most circumstances.
And most certainly, with regard to the e-mails referenced above, those government documents are fair game. Newspapers, and sometimes, television networks, put in FOIA requests, but the general public also has the right to the same. Remember: reporters are just acting as normal residents within their rights. But the difference is that reporters do so with more diligence because they have a job to do. So, to conclude, don’t hesitate to learn the code for your particular state, and if a situation comes up or if you are merely doing research, you will be knowledgeable enough to query your particular local or state government to force them to present the record(s) in question. The sunshine laws, or whatever they may be called in your state, are beautiful things.