Sarah Palin Shows the Hiccups in Social Media

When blogging came into its own, I found it quite exciting to have a platform to share conversations on religion and politics with the world. In my real world life I found too few interested or comfortable with that sort of conversation, the topics being either too controversial or wrangling for most peoples taste. (At least among those here in a Midwestern, and certainly Church circles). Social media developed a place where those who liked to talk and debate for sake of thinking things out were welcomed,… and yet, as the saying goes, “Something’s rotten in Denmark”.

As Twitter came along, I adopted that, as well. The internet has become an intellectual stew for creating new recipes of thinking, and connections across the world have become congealed. News flies fast, and rumors with their lightweight coverings, faster. It changes how politics on the grand stage is done, now, too.

But here is where the hiccups show up in the way the system of communication is utilized; and I think it is because in politics the personal mores have most easily broken down. The goal is everything, the means nothing in that world, for many.

The latest manifestation of this, and what inspired this little diatribe is the rumor of a Palin divorce which spread through Twitter finding source in an obscure Alaskan bloggers pen. This, according to Mashable. Which also, by the way, shows the clumsy way that social media is used to create and diffuse rumors and news. I suppose the idea is to fight fire with fire, but it also exposes how the manner of democratizing the ability to publicize also has degenerated its accountability to a moral standard of delivering things with truthfulness and responsibility to facts. I never thought I’d say that. Perhaps it is the lightning quick run of Twitter which has broken through the accountability barriers of blogging.

I think we are going to have to reassess some of our views of how social media is used and what it is good for, because right now the rot is threatening to undermine what has been a grand experiment in expanding our freedom of expression.

Another lesson in contrasting true freedom with license, and how human nature will revisit these definitions time and time again.

Is There Righteous Anger?

Is there? and if there is, where is it, and how ought it appear?

There is much that parades as righteous anger that is nothing more than an excuse to perpetrate evil. Do you want a test you can use for righteous anger? Here is a verse from the Bible to consider:

Song of Solomon 8
6 …for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.

7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

Isn’t the Song of Solomon a love song? what can that have to do with righteous anger?

Everything, friend. Everything.

The test of whether you are facing an anger of righteousness, an anger that has a mandate to raise up and act, is whether it finds itself rooted in love for another, for one’s fellow man. Not over them, but for them, a love which acts in the best interest of the person.

All human rights activities are, or ought to be, sourced from within a true love for humanity, for it’s well-being and dignity. I believe all God’s righteous anger is from this love, all righteous anger within brave men and women arises from this same love that becomes incensed at the wrong done to the weak, the innocent, the powerless.

So, I say this:
Who is righteous in their anger in this scenario-

Ramzan Kadyrov said the women, whose bodies were found dumped by the roadside, had “loose morals” and were rightfully shot by male relatives in honor killings.
…. Kadyrov’s bluster shows how confident he is of his position. “No one can tell us not to be Muslims,” he said outside the mosque. “If anyone says I cannot be a Muslim, he is my enemy.”

Few dare to challenge Kadyrov’s rule in this southern Russian region of more than a million people, which is only now emerging from the devastation of two wars in the past 15 years. The fighting between Islamic separatists and Russian troops, compounded by atrocities on both sides, claimed tens of thousands of lives and terrorized civilians.

Kadyrov describes women as the property of their husbands and says their main role is to bear children. He encourages men to take more than one wife, even though polygamy is illegal in Russia. Women and girls are now required to wear headscarves in all schools, universities and government offices.

Honor killings… are they at all honorable? Are they at all righteous?
Is defense of one’s religion, or one’s promotion of issues, or anything that raises the fist of oppression against one’s fellow man… in this case women made helpless within their system, is this righteous anger?

Do we slam with the fist? Is this the way righteousness is done?

And now, “Prize-winning Russian human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was on Wednesday found dead in Ingushetia after being abducted earlier in the neighbouring region of Chechnya, news agencies reported.

Her corpse, which showed signs of a violent death, was found at 5:20 pm (1320 GMT) near Ingushetia’s main city Nazran, ITAR-TASS news agency said, citing the regional interior ministry.

The Interfax news agency quoted security sources as saying she had been murdered.

Her organisation, Memorial, had said that Estemirova was kidnapped earlieron Wednesday in the Chechen capital Grozny. ”

Such human rights activists have been protesting honor killings, and other violations of human rights.

In our lives are we asking ourselves,”what would love do?” “What does love look like?”. Exercising our discernment and our hearts and minds in what loving our neighbor really looks like is the only antidote for the rising wave of rage, that under its cloak of righteous protestations is committing such atrocities. Nothing like what is real to unmask the counterfeit.

Does it make you angry to see women oppressed and herded into cultural corners where they are easy targets, beaten, shot, and marred beyond recognition? It makes me angry. and that anger makes me want to have nothing to do with “solutions” that harm others. Whether it is killing a “Tiller” or a “Natalya Estemirova “. It isn’t about them. It is about us. Are we righteous and acting in the best interests of humankind? Our neighbor.

Love is stronger than death, and looks death in the eye. Are we as jealous over women’s conditions and rights in other countries as we are over our own? Jealousy of that sort is more unyielding than the grave.

There are things we ought not yield to.

The Making of Radicals

I was reading several articles and together they started to send my thinking in some separate directions. ‘A poverty of dignity and a wealth of rage’ by Thomas Friedman was one, another, written by Caryle Murphy, was based upon the views of Robert Pape, expressed in his book, ‘Dying to Win’. The sleeper is an article on the rise of feminism in Africa, highlighting the matriarchal village of Umoja, Kenya.

I, myself, most strongly see the Islamic religious tenet factors, but in looking over some of this I wonder if some of the classic steps towards radicalism aren’t also at work. Because while radicalism and fanaticism are related, they do have some differences, I think.

virtually all suicide bombers, of late, have been Sunni Muslims. There are a lot of angry people in the world. Angry Mexicans. Angry Africans. Angry Norwegians. But the only ones who seem to feel entitled and motivated to kill themselves and totally innocent people, including other Muslims, over their anger are young Sunni radicals.

….. “When the inner conflict becomes too great, some are turned by recruiters to seek the sick prestige of ‘martyrdom’ by fighting the allegedly unjust occupation of Muslim lands and the ‘decadence’ in our own.”

This is not about the poverty of money. This is about the poverty of dignity and the rage it can trigger.

Friedman talks of the religious factor, quoting Bouyeri, who killed Theo Van Gogh, and he talks of the isolation of young Muslims in Europe. Social alienation. Another factor he covers is the faultline between the history of Sunni Islam and its role today, all of which Friedman concludes lead to the solution that one is looking at a cult religion with sudden and fanatic devotion.

I wouldn’t dismiss that out of hand, but I’m not so sure. On to the Pape piece, written by Caryle Murphy of the Washington Post.
Continue reading The Making of Radicals

Moral Thresholds

slacktivist: Threshholds

Defenders of this practice point out that A) these prisoners are suspected of being very, very bad people; and B) America’s torture regime is nowhere near as widespread, systematic or brutal as the worst examples of such regimes. Point A is factually suspect, but even if 100 percent true, irrelevant. I’ll get back to that point in a future post. I want here to deal mainly with point B.

In an earlier post, I described this as the “NABA defense” — Not As Bad As. The NABA defense is, for what it’s worth, arithmetically accurate. The American prison camps in Guantanamo, Bagram, Afghanistan and elsewhere are, in fact, not as vast or as brutal as Stalin’s gulags. The American camps are also Not As Bad As the contemporary torture facilities that the U.S. occasionally subcontracts in places like Uzbekistan.

But such comparisons are beside the point. The threshhold has been crossed and conventional arithmetic no longer applies. The only relevant and meaningful comparison is between those regimes that countenance torture and those that do not. Once a nation crosses that line any difference between it and other torture regimes is inconsequential in comparison to the difference between it and those nations which have refused to cross that threshhold.

The NABA defense correctly insists that Guantanamo is different in degree from Stalin’s gulag. It is different in degree, but not in kind. And that difference of kind is the only difference that matters. America has entered the wrong category. We have crossed a threshhold.

This quote is a good example of the view of the Left, or at least the view on this matter of people in protest, who agree in principle with Durbin.

It contains both the logic and the illustration of something that I was discussing in earlier posts. There is a fundamental difference in the concept of what Americas Civitas code consists of. This is a purely moral argument, which makes its point well- which is why I want to look at it.

What I am wondering at this juncture is not whether the Left ever felt that America had never engaged in such conduct, but whether they had expected that this would be the code which they embraced and could institute. And are extremely angry that it is broached.

I am not trying to rationalize American policy here. Please understand that. I want to look at why there is true rage on the Left. I don’t think this is simply politics, as some have surmised. I think there is a conflict between the sense of ethical conduct on the Right and on the Left. It is a clash of separate ideals of Civitas, perhaps aided by the fact that we have not fought an outright declared war since WW2. And during that time there has been much change in our moral foundations.

From reading this post, I sense that there is an accepted premise that Americans do not use torture under any circumstance. Does this jive with our history in war? Where does this ideal come from?

“It is different in degree, but not in kind. ”

I must look at this, and there is a point there. My question would be whether we can wage any act of war and not have something “in kind”? Is this why the outrage at the fact that there are some civilian casualties? Were there to be none?

I am not sure of what the expectations are in dealing with continued aggression by terrorist organizations or by Muslims in the Sudan, or any tyrant or oppressor. Are we viewing some impossible perfection standard?

I do not like the descriptions of the report from Guantanamo. I admit it. But I hate the descriptions of lawless terrorism and I hate the results of the suicide bombers as well.

It is all of the utmost ugliness and tragedy.

What is the expectation in all this? Because more often than not it sounds like the children in the market place”We’re piping the tune, why don’t you dance? We’re playing a dirge now, why don’t you mourn?”

Plugging In…To the Euthanasia Issue

Because there is so much discussion surrounding the Schiavo case, I felt that some further clarification of thought would be useful.

I’ve read comments from people I respect, and some from those I am indifferent to, which speak of the “passive euthanasia” or “right to die”, and similar phrases. There are often personal anecdotes of life experiences which explain their reasoning for a conviction or quandary that the discussion of Terri Schiavo is engendering.

The fear of unduly prolonging life is vibrating through many of them. This is a real concern that was last in the public eye in the Karen Quinlan case. There are so many complicating factors since that case. Ethical and economic. We should move cautiously and deliberately forward in forging out our social policies.

I, too, have personal experience with this type of situation, and with my own ambivilance. I feel strongly that what we want to address is medical procedure rights, not a right to die. If people are dying and medical procedures are prolonging that, then the DNR, ‘do not resusitate’, or the waiving of those procedures ought to be in the hands of the patient or their designated proxy.

I don’t think that we should be writing laws that grant the taking of life, for whatever medical reason, to the end that we are institutionalizing euthanasia. That is exactly the type of thing that has led to the Schiavo travesty.

The only thing comparable is criminal execution, which is why it is so horrific to see it used on innocent people. What did Terri do to deserve the deliberate termination of her life in an inhumane way? She survived, but not to the levels of that many in our society have set as acceptable. Many of us are questioning the desiribility of that criteria.

My personal experience was recently, last year, in the exercise of the medical power of attorney for my father. His wish, officially was for DNR, but before my role was activated he had made more than one choice for life prolonging procedures, including help with respiration. My father was one of those individuals who give completely opposing messages. You had to know him well to guess at what his true wishes were- and then it still was a guess.

I personally felt the importance of his life choices at the end included the chance to say goodbyes to those who meant most to him: his brothers and sisters, and his children and grandchildren. All had their opportunity, and it appeared to make a great deal of difference in his facing his end.

The weight of making choices for your loved one when they can no longer make it for themselves is immense. The opinions of doctors are often conflicting. It is hard to know who to listen to. There are factors that institutional medicine deals with that have little to do with comfort or with what is best for the patient. It is difficult to impossible to know when those things are activated in a case. So the best thing, in my personal opinion, is that we stick with patients rights to make choices in procedures, not put power to make the call for life and death into institutional or the courts hands. It is a matter of placing your proxy where you most trust it will abide by your wishes.

In spite of this, we see that Terri’s husband is primary in obstructing her care.

It appears difficult to see how Terri’s ordeal could have been circumvented by reasonably constructed law. The laws we have can only be constructed for reasonable situations, and tests in place for the unreasonable aberrations. As one blogger pointed out, what sane judge allows a husband, who has already moved on with making another family and seems to have no other interest in his wife’s welfare than to inherit her estate, make the life and death request and decision? There should be valid tests in place, to flag and divert that sort of injustice.

Not everyone will get Congress to intervene in their situation. Now is the time to place safeguards for personal rights and delinate some of the boundaries for the medical and judicial profession.