Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Public Service Announcement: Be Careful About What you Say in Public

I'm a pretty avid proponent of free speech; this blog is a testament to that. But people, use some common sense--just because you can say it, doesn't mean you should.

There were two interesting cases in the news today that stood out for me: a woman is being sued for libelous statements made on twitter against a former landlord, and a Boston police officer will probably lose his job after sending an email to entirely too many people containing racist comments about the Gates incident. Yikes!

This is a sobering reminder to be careful what you say, especially when its documented--be it on facebook, twitter, myspace, or even a blog. If you know something confidentially, don't post it on facebook. If you get into a fight with someone, don't slander him or her on twitter. And make ABSOLUTELY sure not to put anything on the internet that will interfere with your career. The government shouldn't censor people, but people should learn to censor themselves sometimes.

This actually brings me to my second point. I'm in the process of talks with a church about being their full time pastor. I'm really excited at the possibility to serve people in a full time, professional capacity, and I believe God will do amazing things. But I know that there will be certain sacrifices I must make, and one of those is keeping my political views "quiet." I can't stand it when pastors preach politics; it cheapens the pulpit, which should be reserved for proclaiming the message of scripture.

Sadly, that means I will have to stop posting my opinions here. I've enjoyed having a venue to express my frustrations with the American political system, but its time to hang up my hat. To my 2 loyal readers (I'm an internet sensation!), thank you for listening to me rant and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.

Be smart and safe out there, everyone!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Palin quits her job!

Ok, this isn't exactly news anymore, but Sarah Palin is stepping down as governor of Alaska, moving out of the public eye. Most political commentators think this is a mistake, but I disagree. I think it was the best decision she's made in years.

Why, you might ask, do I think stepping down as governor when you've done nothing wrong (and yes, I think the ethics complaints against her are bogus) is a good idea? Its simple: Sarah Palin simply can't handle the media. She's been outraged at everyone since her run for vice president began: the news media, David Letterman, some local yahoo who photoshopped a conservative talk show host's face over Palin's child's face in a picture, and even the people behind the McCain presidential campaign. Eventually, she had to either 1) come to grips with the fact that some people were going to say unkind things about her, or 2) step out of the limelight. It looks like she chose option 2.

Alot of people have suggested that she's a quitter for stepping down when she did, but I disagree. Rather, I think she simply wanted the media circus which has repeatedly skewered her to end. And I think it was a good move: for her, for her family, and for the people of the state of Alaska (all 10 of them--I kid, I kid!).

So to Palin I say: good for you. No one can make you do something you hate, and you obviously hate being picked on by the media. To the media, I say: leave Palin alone. She's chosen to return to the life of a private citizen, and I think the media should respect that. At least, if I were in her shoes, I would hope that they would.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More "Outrage" from Sarah Palin

This is getting ridiculous. Getting upset over a joke at your kid's expense is one thing. Getting upset over a sophomoric photoshop gag worthy of the most childish of email jokes/chain letters is just plain absurd.

I don't know what else to say, except this: EVERYONE GROW UP AND STOP GETTING OFFENDED, DANG IT!!! Has anyone besides me ever heard the aphorism "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?" My mother taught it to me when I was 5 years old!! If a child of 5 can comprehend the fact that being picked on is not the worst thing in the world, then I'd like to think the governor of the state of Alaska is also capable of such a thought.

One thing I'll say for George W. Bush. He may not have been a great president, but one thing I have to admit: the man was unflappable. No matter what was thrown at him (sometimes literally!), he just grinned and bore it. He never "called for an apology." He never "decried" anything. Heck, I don't think he knows what the word "decried" even means (I'm so sorry, that was my lame attempt at a joke)! But he took it all in stride, let people say or think whatever they wanted to, and continued to do his job--leading the free world, for weal or woe.

My advice for Palin? Its obvious you have ambitions for national politics. There's even been talk of you topping a presidential ticket. You're going to need to develop a thicker skin, though, or you won't make it past the primaries. In the big leagues, you need to learn to ignore the hecklers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sarah Palin: An Example of What's Wrong with America

Sarah Palin is relatively new to the spotlight, so maybe I should cut her some slack when she can't handle being picked on by the late night crowd. But then, she's the latest fussbucket in a long succession of politicos who are always offended.

And that's a problem.

See, people have the freedom to speak their minds in America (so long as such speech does not constitute a "clear and present danger"). You think Obama smells like cheese and oughta go soak his head? Go right ahead and say it. You think the Queen of England is an alien, and you'd like to see her sent back to Mars? You're certainly free to say as much. Go America, right?

But for, oh, the past 30 or 40 years, that right to say whatever you want, no matter how weird, stupid, wrongheaded, or just plain insane (so long as it doesn't constitute a threat on the lives of others) has been under attack. It used to be the "Liberals," with their insistance on politically correct speech. But more and more, speech has been limited by both sides of the aisle. And the criterion determining what is acceptable speech? "Feelings." How will what you have to say make people "feel?" Will you hurt someone's "feelings" by speaking your mind? Because if so, then you'd better keep your darn trap shut!

The real problem is this: I cannot hurt your feelings, and you cannot hurt my feelings. Our feelings are based on our own thoughts. So when Sarah Palin cried foul because she insisted Letterman's joke targetted her 14 year old daughter (even though the joke doesn't even make sense if understood that way), the fault wasn't Letterman's joke, it was Palin's mindset. Or, in the words of the old proverb, "people who are looking for a fight usually find one."

Now I'm not saying Letterman was completely innocent. He took a cheap shot at an easy target. And really, it isn't Sarah Palin's fault her 18 year old daughter went and got pregnant out of wedlock. Sarah Palin didn't make that decision, her daughter did. It's a low blow and pretty tasteless, and he was right to apologize.

But Sarah Palin needs to come to terms with the fact that this kinda crap is gonna happen to her from now on. She chose to go into national politics. She chose for her name to become a household word. That means being picked on by Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O'Brian, and the rest of the late night crowd. It happened to Bush (both of them), it happened to Clinton, and it'll happen to Obama--just give him time to make a few good goof ups.

Anyhow, to come back to the topic, if I could tell everyone one thing, it would be this: chill out! If someone says something that offends you, just shrug it off. Does it really matter what others say or think about you? Let's get back to being a nation where people are able to say whatever stupid thing is on their minds without fear of being lynched. After all, they're only feelings-there are more important things to worry about, right?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

North Korea needs a butt whoopin'

Yes, I was against the war in Iraq. I didn't think the situation there warranted military intervention, and I felt the cost of war (both financial and in terms of human lives) was simply unjustified when dealing with a malevolent, but well contained, crack-pot (aka Saddam Hussein).

But N. Korea is different. They tested 2 nuclear weapons so far (yeah, they didn't really work, but it was a start). They've been testing long range missiles. They've been outright belligerent. Now they're telling us that they're going to continue weaponizing plutonium, and they'll declare nuclear war on anyone who threatens them.

No one wants to be embroiled in yet another war. Especially me. But as Popeye might say, "I've had all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!" This regime can't be bargained with. They perceive everyone as a threat, and as far as they're concerned, the only way they'll be safe is if they have nuclear missiles pointed at everyone they've ever had a problem with. And that simply isn't acceptable.

I love how optimistic President Obama is, as a person. It is both refreshing and beneficial as we face the problems of our age. But there has to come a point where optimism ends and pragmatism begins. And continuing to try and "talk" with North Korea is simply no longer pragmatic.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who are the bad guys again?

In the past week, I've been told (on separate occasions) that a liberal supreme court, the homosexual agenda, and the worldwide spread of Islam are "the bad guys." On other occasions, the "bad guys" have been terror sponsoring states (Iran, Syria, N. Korea, etc), the influx of Latin American "pseudo-Catholics," and pro-abortion activists.

Now I'm no political genius--I'm a pastor, not a politician (thank GOD!!!). But it seems to me that if these guys are our collective "enemies"--"us" being conservative, Protestant Christians--then there must be some major dissention in their ranks. The GLBT agenda is about as far from the "Terror state" agenda as you can get. A liberal supreme court is going to retard constitutional freedoms (speech, right to bear arms, etc), which isn't going to jive well with the Middle Eastern Islamic worldview of "everyone who isn't Muslim is an infidel and deserves a grisly death!" Latin American "pseudo-Catholics" (I qualify my calling them Catholics because most Latin American Catholics have beliefs that aren't compatible with proper, "papal" Catholicism) aren't exactly going to be in bed with the pro-abortion people.

Now I don't want to minimalize the differences we as conservative Christians have with these other groups. They're real, authentic, and should be taken seriously. But enough sensationalization guys! Our job is to preach the Word and make disciples, not to socially engineer global demographics. Whatever happens is God's will for the world; we just need to do our job, no matter what.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Free Speech, Censorship, and the FCC

Recently the Supreme Court upheld the FCC's right to fine television networks in violation of standards and practices, even if said violation is "fleeting" (meaning, it was said at a live event without a broadcast delay). The Courts only ruled on the FCC's authority to enact punishments, however; they did not address the "free speech" angle of the cases in question.

I'm generally against censorship. The very first amendment to the US Constitution grants us the right to free speech. Government shouldn't decide what I can and can't say. Sometimes, government has a hard enough time deciding what it should say itself. But I think it bears mention that Constitutional free speech isn't just a blanket that lets you say whatever the heck you want, without consequence.

Let's say, for instance, that I falsely shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater. In the resulting chaos, people will be hurt and property will be damaged. In this instance, my exercise of free speech has impeded on someone else's right to safety and property. Because of such a possibility, the Courts created the "clear and present danger" litmus test for whether speech is considered lawful or not.

Naturally, profanity, violence, and sexually explicit material on television has little to do with the "clear and present danger" argument (well, some ultra-right wingers probably think that showing a woman's breasts on television might cause riots). But that doesn't mean that free speech does mean you can do and say whatever you want.

I think the real issue is that most people don't understand the concept of free speech. When the constitution was written, they were concerned about protecting speech--as in "the communication of ideas." They weren't trying to protect your ability to use any particular word in public. If I choose to buy airtime on ABC and make commercials for the Communist party, I'm well within my constitutional rights (as is the station in airing such a commercial, even if it is in poor taste). I have the right to communicate my ideas. But that doesn't mean that I can drop a few "f bombs" in the commercial for impact. Why? Because I have a right to share my thoughts, but I *don't* have a right to force my crass language on you.

The same applies for sexually explicit material, violent material, drug references, etc. Simply put, network television is a "public" forum; it travels over publical airwaves and is freely available to anyone. If someone doesn't want this material in their homes, they shouldn't have to choose between putting up with it or just not having a television. And lets face it, bad words don't make bad tv shows good.