Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Masterson's Final Word

I have a lot of respect for Mike Masterson, particularly thru the last election cycle and his berating of "Christian" conservatives and their "judgmentally arrogant" venom spewed at any sense of decency or dialogue within a dissenting electorate. Mike has his reasons for wanting to censor sexually explicit material from the Fayetteville high school library and I don't totally disagree with him. However, in this time in American history where conservatives, long stewing over their several beatings in a row after their impotent administration of America from Wilson's time to the end of Hoover, feel like they've got our liberal democracy by the throat and are itching to kill it once and for all as John Adams and his anti-seditionist(sedition meaning ANY disagreement or public voicing of dissent) Federalist mob tried so many years ago. Stifling speech is an old time remedy for all that ails us. All the Biblical whining in the Old Testament concerning God's people clamoring for a king certainly reflect difficult times in America when people whine about the need for a dictator or an imposed governance without representation. I've heard it before from people; once I heard a member of the church I attended as a child discussing his rationale for the need for dictatorial rule in America. Part of his rationale was the Media (monolithic as people believe it to be) are a pack of liars and so are all the politicians, thus we need one person to make all the decisions for us moronic Americans---"wouldn't have been no protesters to cost us the Vietnam War," he continued. Unfortunately, the group of assembled deacons engaged in the age-old need to escape church as soon as the last "amen" is said and bolt to a hasty congregation in the parking lot to have a cigarette, talk about the Razorbacks, fishing, hunting, etc., etc.

I spent the majority of my youth as a "born-again" budding Xian Conservative who equated salvation with uncompromising right-wing political correctness. I am no parent, like Mike or Laurie Taylor, but I grew up with the patronizing attitude that parents knew best for me. Unfortunately, as I've aged, I've discovered, particularly citing the smoke-circle meeting I joined one afternoon on a church parking lot, that adults don't have all the right answers. I read some truly graphic non-fiction writings during my Hard Right Christian days and they had no negligible deleterious affect because my lost school district made an effort to teach children HOW to think, not WHAT to think and I'm truly thankful for the experience. I read details of rape, pillage, and plunder that will curl the hairs on the back of any sane humans neck, particularly my extensive reading about the Holocaust and other wartime disasters. These things are difficult to comprehend for people like me who have never engaged in combat(though I've had my share of close-calls in the violent death department in my short lifetime). We have a new crop of Americans scarred by war and death returning from the frontlines of Bush's War in Iraq. Should their accounts be edited for a high school audience? The answer is HELL NO! If this libertarian-inspired eschewing of an outright draft to cover our nations troop-strength needs will be fair, our children must hear ALL the truth. Lately, I've heard right-wing whining on how reporters can't be completely barred from the battlefield or the military can't suppress all information gathered about the true occurrences of war. The musings are "what if we really showed all the carnage to Americans at home during WW II?" As if anyone but the fascist- leaning corporate heads(people like Ford or Wood, and others) who lobbied to keep America neutral during WW II, so as not to offend their beloved Hitler, would have pushed to remain neutral and out of the war, particularly after German ally Japan swept the Pacific one December day in 1941. Americans during the Civil War or WW II were fully aware of the consequences of inaction, despite the carnage.

I'm certain Mike would say my scenario isn't comparable to his concerns, however, I wasn't that age so long ago and I know it's best to have MORE knowledge, not LESS. The first time I heard really dirty words was in first grade. Other children grew up surrounded by foul language and possibly worse. You can send your kids to a "Xian" school or church camp and hear the same foul language from high school kids and the same locker-room talk and description of sexual experience. Some children have to suffer hell because they have faced sexually compromising encounters and have probably contemplated suicide over some sense of guilt. I won't name the books here, but I knew kids who were facing terrible times in their life and were somehow shown a different way because of a book they read that might never have been on a school library shelf if Laurie got her way. Laurie should teach her children the best she feels she can to react in her prescribed fashion to experiences they are bound to face with sexually active teens around them at school, at church, or at activities(if Laurie lets her kids out of the house, ever). Banning material other than downright pornographic materials is providing no service to children. Pornography has been defined as well as it can be and graphic passages in a particular context are not necessarily pornographic. Merely describing cunnilingus or fellatio doesn't necessarily render a work pornographic. Intent and context are important to the determination.

Addressing Mike's slippery-slope argument concerning gun-cleaning class in high school, please don't laugh Mike, we may someday finance such silliness in curriculum. The right-wing populist hatemongers in the GOP would someday enjoy seeing such education and less of that "liberal democracy" talk or historical bashing of their conservative heroes or sex ed or any of that other communist stuff. I'm not totally against an after- hours hunter safety course offered on school grounds, sans personal weapons. The instructor should definitely control the weapons and have no ammo nearby to accidentally load. Unfortunately, either side can present the slippery-slope argument that if "X" occurs, then Y, Z, V, etc., etc. will result. Allowing ONE book to be banned will give Laurie's grass-roots effort directed by Eagle Forum, Free Congress, "Christian Coalition", or the LaHayes' Christian Fiction Society a victory that will certainly slide our district into a Texas dumbass school board political mold none of us can be proud of. Jingoistic yellow journalism didn't die with Hearst; Murdoch certainly has taken his turn and he's no American. I heard a jackass from Attila the Hun-esque conservative Ft. Smith the other day telling anyone who'd listen that Fox News is the only "unbiased"(my words) news source in America and the ACLU runs the rest of them. First, at least the ACLU are Americans, not true of Murdoch, second, the imbecile had not one stitch of facts or sources or any of all that worthless stuff. Facts are the last thing right-wing populists want to hear.

Stop contributing to the end of our democratic values as we know them, Mike. I appreciate many of your opinions and columns, but I believe this is an issue where people should trust themselves. Laurie, trust yourself to provide a proper grounding of your "values" for your children. Trust them to make correct decisions after learning all the facts. My baseball metaphor of the day is that no self-respecting major league manager is going to keep his players in the dark about a dangerous player on the opposition. Let your children see all the facts, so there are no surprises. Tell them what the "Devil" will do to them or expose them to; don't let them be caught off-guard by willfully imposed ignorance. I've seen so many cases where children were dangerously sheltered thru their formative years and were wholly lost when they gained their freedom from parents, making preventable mistakes which cost them dearly. A free society DEMANDS MORE truthful information, not LESS.

No one is persecuting those Christians who accept the requisite responsibility of arming themselves with necessary facts about issues which all of us ultimately decide elections over. Parents who hide in a shell should not be involved in their children's education in a formal setting, except to support the work of the teacher in the classroom or to provide hints as to why their child is failing or to encourage the child to study. Most children attend school because their parents couldn't POSSIBLY provide a top-notch education because the education of the parents is inadequate compared to six teachers during a semester or 20 different teachers with expertise in various fields thruout the child's high school educational experience. Parental support is crucial and no parent, Christian or otherwise, who participates positively is going to be discouraged from involvement. If a parent is annoyed that their child has learned what a crook (tax evasion) or a despot (Watergate) Nixon was certainly deserves some upbraiding by the teacher and the district if the parent becomes an obstacle to learning. Every complaint by parents is not necessarily worthy of consideration or action. Parents are not always the proper judge of what should be taught when the child is learning to live and behave in society. Sometimes, parents should be ignored.


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