Against “cultural appropriation.”

I recently read an article that was written in response to a conflict between two professional athletes about the nature, the problem, and even the hierarchy, of “cultural appropriation.”  My thoughts upon reading about this frankly ludicrous conflict were basically the same as my general reaction to all accusations of “cultural appropriation,” and they are more or less as follows:

“Congratulations!  You are clearly and irrefutably safe.  Indeed, you are clearly and irrefutably among the safest creatures ever to grace the surface of this hazardous planet.  You have adequate, clean water, you have abundant food, you have superb shelter, you have protection from predators, from attackers, and from invasion, and you have a lifestyle that provides you such abundant and luxurious free time that you can invent problems about which to be outraged.” Continue reading “Against “cultural appropriation.””

My response to a misguided Facebook video (and the subsequent silly statements by the President).

I wrote this posting originally in response to a video that I saw on Facebook (see above), shared by someone I know.  The letter reproduced in it pushed my buttons rather firmly, as someone who loves the ideas of America, rather than loving symbols or songs, flags or anthems.  I had long held off on posting it, though, because I thought maybe I was overreacting, and in any case, I’d written “The Idolatry of the American Flag,” which covered much of the same ground.  However, given the President’s absurd remarks about the NFL, and the many well-intentioned but foolish people following the above-quoted gentleman down the mindless patriotism rabbit hole, I decided it was worth saying everything again. Continue reading “My response to a misguided Facebook video (and the subsequent silly statements by the President).”

The Idolatry of the American Flag (read by me)

Given the brouhaha over the President’s denigration of football players who kneel during the national anthem, and the players’ and owners’ (generally) mature and measured responses, I thought I would try my hand at reading my own article about a related subject.

The audio is here:

The plea bargain system is a sadistic game of extortion

First Published October 3, 2015.

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Imagine the following scenario:

You are being held hostage  by a group of armed men and women.  You know they are a very large and well-financed group, and that escape is nearly impossible.  Representatives of this organization–a few of whom even claim to be working to protect you–give you the following choice:  You may agree to be their prisoner for a specific amount of time, perhaps a few months, perhaps a few years.  You will also be giving up most or all of your material possessions, agreeing to proclaim publicly that you have done some terrible deed to earn this captivity–thus destroying your good reputation, if you have one–and even relinquishing some of your human rights.  The alternative is to agree to play a twisted, sadistic, and highly rigged game, one which you have very little chance of winning; even your own so-called allies assure you of this fact.  They tell you bluntly that the game is stacked horrifically against you, and that your ruin will be sought assiduously by your opponents, using all of their considerable resources.  If you lose, they will keep you prisoner for a far longer period of time than you had been offered–perhaps even for the rest of your natural life, and your imprisonment will entail risks to your health and the risk of death–and you will lose all that you would have agreed to give up anyway.  The choice is yours. Continue reading “The plea bargain system is a sadistic game of extortion”