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You gotta find your passion. Or at least have a hobby. I love writing; well…at least when I’m not juggling two jobs. I often find I’m struggling to get a blog written, usually well past bedtime or while I’m eating a harried lunch, the phone in one hand, catching up on all the work that piles up in the morning. Who has time for passion..yeesh..

Under Danni's Window

Under Danni’s Window

Well I at least managed to get my first book finished. “Under Danni’s Window” is a dark tale about a teen who struggles to define himself, tired of being a bullied outcast. Peter and his friends found themselves on the wrong end of the scale of popularity for most of their lives. Who gets to decide where others, or even ourselves, fall along the sliding scale that separates young teens into the “popular” crowd, the “jock” crowd, or even the bully or nerd segments? How different are they, really, from one another? We are all guilty of defining and pigeon-holing others along this sliding scale of distinction, with our own biases and preconceptions, explicitly or tacitly assigning others into roles we believe accurately define who they are, even if we know nothing about them as individuals. Those we wish to emulate or be near, those who frighten us, those who look different than we, all subject to a collective mind set that dictates their value and how we should treat them. Often, we struggle to change our position on the sliding scale even as we seek to keep others mired in their assigned roles; either because we wish to fit in somewhere and hope that we can deflect from our own shortcomings by labeling those we perceive to be “not like me at all”, or we struggle with our own identities, seeing superficially those traits in others who may or may not even remotely possess those very traits we hold in esteem or disdain. Such is the life of a young teen; it is as it’s always been, and probably always will be. As with most teens, Peter doesn’t consider these deeper meanings and questions in his struggle; nor does he recognize that the lines which define these segments can be vague and begin to blur once you struggle for your own identity.

I truly hope you find this an enjoyable read. And with favorable winds and if time is on my side, I look to have my second published by the end of fall. I have found my passion; I share it with you all.


Freedom of expression is one of those rights we tend to take for granted but rally around when it suits us. We support it as long as we can effectively define what it means with respect to our own sensitivities or heaven forbid personal or political agendas. A shame really. A thought so simple and we go through tortured machinations about what it means or how it’s applied and to whom and when. Maybe I can make it a little clearer for everyone. Just grow the hell up and you’ll have no problem.

index

Free with every diploma….

 

You see, freedom of speech or freedom of expression means pretty much what the simple phrase states; you have the right to express yourself and the government cannot restrict your speech. However, we modify or bend the application based on whatever Supreme Court Justice happens to be the “swing” vote and then we get a little more muddled on what it actually means and how it’s applied legally. Then of course, we get the population in general who seems to forget that the first amendment applies only to the federal government. The government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence; be careful there. That means the government gets to decide what “may” cause a breach of the peace. You know, “the government;” that collection of partisan hacks who can be bought and sold for votes and contributions. Sorry, it says nothing about your employers’ right to restrict your speech. Or the markets’ right. Nope, not a thing. Hey kiddies, let’s review;

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Also missing is the freedom from being insulted, offended or just genuinely pissed off by someone else exercising their right. Remember, it’s about protecting that speech which we find offensive; no one needs to be protected from esteem affirmations. But the courts are filled with cases of people being harmed in some way by something someone said or implied. Neat. A constantly aggrieved society we are. Someone hurt my feelings by calling me a poopie head; I want them fired. I’m suing because they injured me. I’m now so psychologically damaged, I can’t work anymore. I’m a protected class, you see; they shouldn’t be allowed to call me a poopie head. Or give their opinion. Or state facts. Holy shit, call 1800-waaahh.

Interesting, but when I looked at the Harvard “Black Mass” story, I kinda thought it was amusing. Yup, a lapsed catholic for sure. (Don’t call me one though; it’ll hurt my feelings…) See, I know the history of the “Black Mass” and what it’s all about. Well, maybe not to the nth detail, but I get it. And it doesn’t bother me in the least. I find it offensive, but hey, I don’t have to buy the ticket and there’s no requirement that I show up. Problem solved. I can understand the howls of protest, but methinks they doth protest too much. Really.

Let’s review Harvard’s President Drew Faust’s response to it. Her take is that it’s offensive, it’s disgraceful, it’s inflammatory; yaddi yaddi yadda. In her response, she supports her students’ rights to be all these things;

“Nevertheless, consistent with the University’s commitment to free expression, including expression that may deeply offend us, the decision to proceed is and will remain theirs. At the same time, we will vigorously protect the right of others to respond—and to address offensive expression with expression of their own.”

Well, that’s refreshing. Sort of. If you think I’m going to let her off the hook, well, no. She struck the right position. This time. I’m not quite sure why or how she came to it, but she got it right in my opinion. Now, let’s see what she does going forward. From what I’ve seen from other supposed centers of “Higher learning”, “free and unfettered debate”, I think she’ll probably come to regret this. Now heaven forbid, she’ll need to allow bashing of groups other than the hated Catholic Church. What then? What of all those frail and sensitive grievance groups catered to in the open and free world of education?

I mean come on, she can’t be serious. Does Dartmouth now have to allow Pi Beta Phi to have their Pi Phiesta? Really, they shut down the whole celebration, a charitable fundraiser, because one individual felt slighted by seeing the hated gringo wearing a friggin’ sombrero. Wanna bet this little pissant was drinking green beer on March 17th?

Where does all this “Protected Grievance Class status” get us, really? It certainly divides us more than some old, white, Franco-American guy drinking a Dos Equis in his local “south of the border” burrito joint every May 5th. Want to be offended? Go ahead, be offended. You can certainly find any number of reasons to get your knickers in a twist, even if you have to imagine the slight. Seek the offense and ye shall find it.

So Faust got it right, but I’m not sure why or how. A blind pig finds an acorn once in a while. But it’s not about this one episode; it’s about the overt efforts to silence any type of conservative thought and discussions on campuses around the country that I’m concerned with. I’m not going to whine about the Catholic Church being attacked; I’m sure the good President of Harvard was more than happy to allow her students to ridicule the faith of Catholics and her statement gave her good cover to boot.

However, the left with its pc apparatus fully in place on most college campuses seeks to make sure that anyone with conservative thoughts or ideas that do not support or defend the liberal orthodoxy are silenced, ridiculed, threatened and harassed. Period.

If you’re a conservative woman on campus, you’re not invited to an “inclusive feminist” conference. If you don’t support Palestinians and hate the state of Israel, no matter how Jewish you are, organized campus thugs will make sure to tell you how hated you are by Jews. If you speak out against the religion of peace that mutilated your body and treated you like chattel, you’ll be shunned for publicly speaking about it. Heaven forbid you be a conservative person of color. You can be discriminated against on the basis of your color on campus; you’re not “black” enough. Defense of freedom of speech and thought dies at the feet of many university presidents, even after being sequestered to postage-stamp sized parcels of campus called “First Amendment zones;” whatever the hell those are supposed to mean. Free speech when and where we tell you, if we don’t find it objectionable. And these are the folks who are handing out advanced degrees, often in law or political science. Sweet.

Of course, the right to free speech should and does come with consequences. People get offended; they fight back. Mozzilla CEO Brendan Eich paid the price for expressing his views on same-sex marriage. He got the boot. Don Jones of the Miami Dolphins found Michael Sam’s same-sex smooch a little too much and had to apologize for his “horrible” tweet. Oh, and he was suspended, fined and is headed to a reeducation camp for his insult of the bully-class du jour. I have no problem with either of these outcomes. Private enterprise you see. The Dolphins and Firefox have every right to dictate what they consider proper behavior and yes, thought control over their employees. You get the check, you toe the line. If their punishment irks you, you can always switch to Chrome and watch soccer instead of football. But you can’t whine about it. Every business has the right to mandate that their employees conform to their principles. That’s their right. It’s only if they refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple that the government will step in and punish them out of existence. Gotta draw the line somewhere.

So go ahead, insult away. I’m not afraid of my convictions. Your parody of my faith does nothing to shake my beliefs. But your hypocrisy is blatant; free speech for thee, not for me. Shutting down discourse because you’re afraid of having to defend your own liberal ideals will get you nowhere. Well, except you’ll all be crowed into a tiny little patch of cement in the far corner of some crumbling University, listening to all your cohorts singing the same plaintive wail of inclusion and diversity.


Haven’t taken a week off in years. I’m  a “long weekend” kind of guy. But this last week was planned in advance to visit colleges in the area as I prepare to send my eldest off to her future. They call it the “Goldilocks” tour. Visit some too big, some too small hopefully to find some that are just right. Oddly enough, even though it’s relatively close, Brandeis University wasn’t on our list. Serendipity I guess. It’s a friggin’ shithole anyway.

ayaan_hirsi_ali

What can we learn from this woman if we demand she be silenced?

Not to sound too harsh, but what the hell is going on at Brandeis? I’m sure there are probably a lot of good decent people there, but their silence and acquiescence tells a whole ‘nother story. Example; a supporter of Israel came under verbal fire recently by a member of the University’s “J-Street”, an organization that claims to be pro-Israel and pro-peace. Of course, like any good liberal, radical campus group, J- Street insists that it is committed to “improving the campus dialogue around the Israeli-Palestinian issue.” As you would expect from any liberal organization, that means that they’re right and you’re wrong. Dialogue over. J-Street campus leader Talia Lepson demonstrated the proper liberal technique on dialogue by verbally accosting pro-Israel activist Daniel Mael, calling him a “shit bag” and letting him know that “Jews hate you.” Well, that’s settles it then; we now know who speaks for all Jews. Ah, the tolerance of the left on full display. Apparently, Mael is supporting a film that openly describes J-Street’s disinformation about Israel. Even Alan Dershowitz believes that J-Street is being dishonest about its positions on Israel. He had offered to attend J-Street events and have an open debate but he was denied the opportunity. Dialogue-shmialogue. Concerning the confrontation between Mael and Lepson, Brandeis informed inquiring press that the department does not speak to the press on weekends and recommended the reporter “call back later.” What the hell does that mean? It means we’re right; you’re wrong, na-na-na-na-na-na. Just the kind of response you were expecting from an institution of higher learning?

Maybe it’s an Islam thingy. Don’t know for sure, but as much as they hyperventilate about Israel, they’re pretty dammed silent on the plight of the two hundred school-aged girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist organization. Why so quiet? Of course, the same question applies to the left-leaning media as well. It’s that tricky little adjective, terrorist organization. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter you see. Odd, if you look at Brandeis’ courses under Women’s studies, you’ll find a course offered on “Diversity of Muslim Women’s Experience.” One wonders, does a young school girl being kidnapped as a cook and sex slave qualify for this type of diversity?

Interestingly enough, as we got home late Friday I sat down to read the news and lo and behold, Brandeis offered another look at its diversity, tolerance and support of women in general. It has decided to withdraw an honorary degree from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a vocal critic of Islam and its treatment of women. Their reasoning? Apparently she has said some not-so-nice things about Islam, like, “Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace. I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars.” Oh the horror. She pissed off CAIR who made the call to Brandeis and Brandeis folded, principles of women’s equality, diversity and tolerance be damned.

Sweet. Was Ali’s biggest crime talking about Islam in a negative way, or was it the compelling story of her life, surviving beatings, genital mutilation and an arranged marriage? Or maybe it was because she renounced her religion? What was the last straw for this bastion of higher learning, free speech and thought? Anyone’s guess.

I’m not sure what I find the most disturbing about this. I’m equally torn by the fact that university President Frederick Lawrence has been cowed by CAIR, and that 85 professors supported his move as did thousands of students. Thousands of students who have decided that her story must be silenced. They have been educated well indeed. Or indoctrinated, take your pick.

What kind of education do I want for my daughter? Not this kind. Let’s see, she can go to her “sexuality and queer studies” class and afterwards, stop by the student health center for her monthly contraceptive stipend. Then she can walk across campus and protest for on demand, tax-payer funded abortions on her way to signing the petition to withdraw the degree from Ms. Ali. Heaven forbid she learns about the kidnapping of hundreds of young girls or hears the story of a woman who had her clitoris scraped from her body, all in the name of the religion of peace. Good god no, that would make them as bad as the “Little Sisters of the Poor” or Hobby Lobby for crying out loud.

I thought that president Lawrence was an idiot, but that didn’t quite cover it. Maybe a hypocrite? Too friggin’ obvious. No, he’s something much more dreadful, more dangerous. He has the minds of young impressionable students in his hands. Coward? Again, obvious.

No, he’s an enabler. As are the eighty-five professors who gleefully followed his lead diminishing the voice of a woman who has gone through more trials in her lifetime then they ever will collectively. And in their wake, they have left over a thousand young minds numb to the reality that there are women suffering horrifically at the hands of an ideology that they embrace and protect from scrutiny. To them, battling for justice and diversity for women means struggling to stay awake in their warm, comfortable desks, listening as their learned professors of enablement drone on about “Feminist theories in Historical and Cross Cultural Perspective.”

 


“Sometimes, bad things happen to good people.” “Life isn’t fair.”  “No good deed goes unpunished.”  “Shit happens.”  “Karma is a bitch.”  Nice quotes.  I’ve seen all of them on blogs discussing the suspension of Honor Student Erin Cox from her position as captain of the North Andover High School volleyball team.  Oh and let’s not forget these beauties: “She’s lying, she was there to party like the rest of them,” “Too bad, she knew the rules, she chose to break them anyway,” “She had no business being there, tough for her.”  Really?  So what does this say about the adults in charge at Andover and those parents in general who want to ruin this girl’s chance to play volleyball in college?  Maybe a little jealous of a kid who works hard and succeeds?  Maybe.  Of course, they defend their actions based on the “zero tolerance” policy they have in place for athletes.  Basically, any zero policy means that the administration is too stupid and cowardly to make their own judgments.  It’s the same lack of intelligence and rational thought that gets a kid expelled for a pop-tart pistol.

It may not mean much now Erin, but you did the right thing.

It may not mean much now Erin, but you did the right thing.

So she gets a text while she’s working.  Yup, the party’s raging.  Again, she’s at work.  A friend texts to ask for a ride home.  Been there done that.  I’ve had the pleasure of picking up buddies who were too wrecked to drive and certainly didn’t want mom or dad showing up to escort them out of the soiree.  I’m quite sure this scene has played out countless times, all over the country, for years and years.  I never got suspended for my largess, although a few friends treated my beat-up Ford Maverick to a back-seat Technicolor yawn.  We looked out for each other.  We were friends.  That’s what you do.  Not anymore apparently.  Now it’s every man (or girl) for themselves.

Let’s not forget, no one came to the aid of the young girl in Steubenville who was passing in and out of consciousness, being filmed while she was violated at a local party.  I mention this because at the time that story was raging I kept hearing pundits and blog comment-creatures ripping her friends for abandoning her.  “Where were her friends?”, “why didn’t anyone intervene?”, “why didn’t someone take this girl home?”  Simple.  People are taught to avoid any implication or possible responsibility.  Hell, you can get sued for being a Good Samaritan by the person you’re coming to the aid of.  And now this.

One would think that she could get a pass here.  After all, she arrived mere moments before the police, who vouched for her being sober, not drinking, had no intention of drinking and “did not even have the slightest odor of alcohol on her person.” Even though the school district’s attorney lied to a judge about her being arrested, she was not.

I don’t know Ms. Cox obviously. I do know girls like her though.  Girls who care deeply for their friends, girls who look out for each other.  My wife is one of those women.  So were my sisters.  And it looks quite like my daughters fall into that same category.  We need to encourage more girls to care for each other.   Once we start telling kids that they’re on their own, we end up with lonely teens, often with socially awkward ones left to the mercy of the local bullies who hound them literally to death.  Tell her friend to call her parents?  Yup, that’ll work out fine.  She’ll feel she has no one she can trust and next time, she’ll text no one.  She’ll just get into the next booze-filled ride available.

So Andover wants their students to be “responsible” but selfish, distant and uncaring.  Look out for number one or you’ll lose your privileges.  Neat message. In an even more startling note, MADD supports the school district here, even though Erin’s friend could have ended up in a car driven by another intoxicated teen.  Or she could have ended up another Steubenville-type victim.  Be careful what you wish for here, idiots.  You may just get it.  The next time a teen drinks and they will, they’ll go it alone.  They’ll get into a car and drive or get “taken home” by some stranger with other ideas in mind.

And your inane, zero-tolerance, “no thought required” policy will be at the heart of it.  The next victim is courtesy of MADD and the Andover School District.

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