Friday, May 19, 2006

"From My Cold Dead Hands!"

Charismatic Megafauna has a nice little piece about Gun control up, and why he has come to support the right to for a citizen to own a firearm.

He makes two points which I think are correct:

1. Violent Criminals will always have the ability to get the weapons they need, and to restrict a law abiding citizen’s right to protect him or herself is wrong.
2. The Constitution gives us the right to own them, and to take away such a right could lead to a slow erosion of other important protections.

I go a bit further in defending a citizen’s right to retain a firearm. Even if society was inherently more violent because of gun ownership, I would still stand up for the right to bear them. I am not saying that I think they make society any more violent than it already is, but go with it for the purpose of this argument.

Let us now say that it was scientifically proven that pornography was harmful to our society, and was the cause of many ills within it.

Someone may believe pornography to be a great evil within our social order; they may even have proof that our nation would be stronger without it. But by removing a conscious individual’s right to make their own personal and moral decisions, I have lost one of the great benefits of living in our democratic, although slightly disorderly country. There will always be a move towards a more ordered, but less free civilization, but a nation which does not allow for liberties and responsibility, will be nothing more than an un-free nanny-state.

Heck, we know for a fact that cars are one of the greatest killers in our society, but I don’t see many folks trying to ban them outright. We accept that most drivers will be safe and responsible, and that if an individual does not follow the designated rules and hurts other motorists, they may loose their right to drive. I don’t see why we can’t look at the issue of firearms in a similar light.

Opps, my apologies to 'Charismatic Megafauna', a ‘she’, and not a ‘he’. I did not do so out of malice, but simply out of ignorance. The point of her article remains the same however.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This Just In: Indybay Endorses Slavery!

A downright awful piece of garbage is up at Indybay today. Rather than putting stupidity into words, the ‘author’ has simply posted a number of photographs from Iraq. He/She then adds a little commentary to these pictures.

The little number above is titled “Patriots in Resistance”.

A hefty portion of the pics show dead American soldiers, and are given titles such as “Dead Tyrants”.

This is what Indybay believes in. This is what they advocate. To these folks, there is no evil like that of the United States; all the real tyrants are celebrated as heroes. Simply outrageous.

Someone by the name of TW adds their two-cents to this bundle of crap.

“…the historical consciousness of the South despises the North to this day over that conquest, and is correct in doing so. Northern society is still in deep denial as to its grave crime in initiating that war and unleashing a federal policy of social destruction on them for 80 years afterward (lest the South "rise again"). Yes it did. Now fatuous northern liberals are finally reaping what they've sown…”

There you have it. Indybay now officially endorses southern slavery because, well, they stood up to the US government. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to make sense, this is Indybay we are talking about!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

May I Have Some More Sir?

In keeping with my ‘food theme’ for the day, A neo-Jacobin has a pretty good piece up about GM and genetically modified food.

“I believe that nature is not good enough for humanity. We have developed more choice over how we live our lives - we no longer live at the mercy of nature. It has only been through developing a technological society, which has meant, we in the advanced West no longer suffer from starvation and hunger.”

I generally don’t have any problem with these modified foods. I must confess that I think they are less tasty then their ‘organic’ brethren, but I am not beyond considering that it may have something to do with the higher cost I pay for them. My mind may just assume it tastes better because, well, I paid more for it.

An Insomniac makes some interesting points about the public’s perception of these goods and GM itself.

“The public dislike of GM is less to do with the product itself, and more to do with who’s promoting it. Scientists are no longer seen as trustworthy; their discoveries have been put to too many nefarious uses; their results called into question too many times. Big business is seen as out for all it can get, with little regard for the public. Same with the Government. So when these groups come forward and offer something like GM food people are wary. All it takes are a few scare stories to “confirm” their suspicions.”

Golly, all this writing about food has made me hungry. I think I will go pick up some genetically modified and artificially preserved cheeseburgers from the local Burger King.

Mmmmm, hamburger...

There is a rather eye-opening piece up at Indybay about 4H and FFA organizations working on our state campuses. Since this is Indybay we are talking about, they obviously see these organizations as breeding grounds for violence within our society.

The article does make some valid points that I think should be considered. Why is it that farm animals fall under a different set of guidelines when it comes to “rights” than our pets in our households? Apparently, a teacher in a California high school castrated a pig without anesthesia, which is rather common in the livestock world. I can only assume it was not a very comfortable experience for the pig; having someone chop of my Mr. Charlie does not sound like an agreeable evening.

So I agree with this author that every individual should contemplate why they feel one animal’s “rights” are superior to another. I am not saying we will all come to the same conclusion, but I would like to see people connected to their actions.

Alas, Mark Hawthorne goes off the rails at one point. It wouldn’t be an Indymedia article if it didn’t!

“The castration incident is just the latest example of why FFA, 4-H, and other animal agricultural programs—which sponsor the raising of animals for slaughter on public school grounds—have no place in our school system. In these programs, young people across the country care for pigs, sheep, goats, cows, rabbits, turkeys and other farmed animals who will eventually be shown at their local country fair—and slaughtered. Thus, the earlier lessons the students learned about empathy and compassion for animals are completely negated. Instead, students learn what their beloved animals are worth per pound or how to profit by selling rabbits for meat.”

Yes, in a way it does ‘negate’ earlier lessons they learned as children. Many life lessons we pick up as adults undo our childhood assumptions. I at one point learned that the Tooth fairy does not exist, and I don’t think I was scared by this revelation. I would rather every high school student (or meat eating citizen for that matter) see the process that is required to bring livestock to our dinner table.

A number of folks in my family often claim hunting to be a violent and unacceptable hobby. They claim that with super markets and such, there is no need to take part in such ‘violent’ acts. They have no problem eating a nice juicy burger; they just don’t want to be aware of what it took to get that from the feed-lot to their bun. I think every single person should go hunting at least once in their life. They should help kill an animal to eat, and be involved in the skinning and cleaning of it. If you have yet to do so, it is an eye opening experience; one that directly connects you to the act of eating the meat you enjoy. I did not come away from my hunting experience a hardened vegan, rather a meat eater who understands that an animal has to die for me to eat it.

“What message are we giving kids when we encourage them to care for a helpless being and then slaughter the animal on school grounds? How can we possibly teach these same children that violence is wrong? With their policy of hypocrisy—nurturing the student’s natural love of animals and then sending these critters off to the auction block—ag programs cause much confusion for young people.”

At one point in your life, you do have to understand that hamburgers don’t come from a magical burger-tree. Now, having hunted and been to meat processing plants has not made me more violent than I was before these experiences. I don’t attack my fellow man or pets; I have simply come to understand that if I want to enjoy meat, I will have to accept taking another creatures life. And I don’t have a problem with that. Yes, growing up is confusing, so what? I am thankful that at one point, someone explained to me where babies come from, even if it was a confusing and somewhat shocking realization. I would hope young people also learn where their dinner comes from.

“And this past January, two young men broke into an FFA barn at a Texas high school and beat several pigs with a shovel and then ran over them with a truck……Moreover, children and teens who engage in such cruelty have a greater potential to harm humans. As a fact sheet from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) states…”

I have a hard time seeing how this relates to meat production. To make this odd assertion that these kids’ actions are somehow related to FFA and 4H programs is a pretty silly stretch.

“Each year, Animal Place, a sanctuary for farmed animals in California, receives phone calls from children desperately trying to find a haven for their animal. After living with and caring for a pig for four months, for example, these students appreciate the animal not as a source of revenue, but as an intelligent, social being with as much desire and right to live as humans.”

Good for them, but not everyone who is involved in raising animals for slaughter comes to the same conclusion. If these ‘desperate children’ became vegans after their experience, they would have changed their habits to fit into their new moral position. Many other folks in the same position reaffirm their commitment to producing food people want to eat, and know what is essential to do so.

“FFA misleads students about the reality of animal agriculture,” says Sangeeta Kumar, a humane educator for PETA. “If they really wanted to show students how animals are raised for food, they’d take them on a trip to a factory farm or slaughterhouse, where animals have practically no federal laws protecting them, and where they are subjected to unimaginable cruelty.”

Agreed, everyone should be exposed to it at some point in their lives.

“As an alternative to programs like those sponsored by FFA and 4-H, Animal Place has introduced its About Building Compassion (ABC) campaign, which promotes kindness and compassion in our schools. ABC is in response to what many animal protectionists see as a need for teachers and administrators to allow compassion to be part of the farming industry.”

I am sure that there are “nicer” ways to kill an animal than the ones used at processing plants, but you can’t get around the fact that to eat meat, you must kill another creature. I have no problem with it; most folks in our society don’t. Ag programs in our school system train future farmers; I would rather see more of these practical skills in the curriculum than “compassion” campaigns from PETA.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Militant Moderate

An oldie-but goody at Tutakai about being a Militant Moderate.

“Its time that moderates stopped being rhetorical doormats for extremists of left and right. Both liberals and conservatives have ideas to offer and it is ultimately their loss in refusing to learn from and engage the other side. Moderates are in a position to draw upon the intellectual and rhetorical resources of both sides and to begin to construct a genuine middle road for public policy that avoids the wild vacillations between left and right.”

The French Media

An interesting interview with Philippe Karsenty, who is the president and founder of Media-Ratings, an organization that closely monitors French media outlets.

“Anti-Semitism is more complex in the French media. In France, you can’t say “I hate the Jews” but it’s very positive for your career, as an intellectual, a journalist or a diplomat, to say that Israel is an evil state and that you want it to disappear. For example, Villepin said in 2001 that Israel was a “parenthesis of the history” that will not last very long. He became foreign affair minister a year after, then interior minister, and he’s now prime minister.”

Since I have only a passing familiarity with the French media, I have to take everything Karsenty says with a grain of salt. I have a hard time seeing the French media as one monolithic being; much of his criticism is very similar to American conservative rhetoric concerning our major media. I hardly see American news programs as overly left-leaning; I also do not see them as strongly socialistic or capitalistic. I would be interested to hear other folk’s opinion on this issue, seeing as how my knowledge of the French media is limited.