2 Wheels To Adventure

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Alaska/Canada Trip--2006
Two "Adventure" Bikes

Ride boldly, Lad,  fear not the spills! (From "The Man From Snowy River," by Banjo Paterson) 
I'm not the man I used to think I was. (RBW)
"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
(William Butler Yeats)

For a looong discussion on motorcyling in general and Adventure riding in particular, see the archives (or scroll down) for the first post on September 28, 2006.
It gives some opinions and ideas, along with a bit of philosophy; one (old) man's view of the world of 2 wheels.

New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Modest Proposal

I am going to leave the question of where and why we are what we are as a nation for the time being.

It occurred to me today that the question of torture, so prevalent in the news in the current cycle, is worth pursuing. The current man chosen by the president to be our new United States Attorney General has declined to state that water boarding is either torture or illegal. He cannot, or will not make a statement about it beyond saying that he has to study the "technique" to determine if it is either torture by legal definition, or if it is unconstitutional or otherwise illegal. That is to me, an telling stance in the man who may be called upon to administer justice on a national level. It will be up to this man to make decisions as to what laws should be upheld, what moralities the rule of law dictate, and how this nation deals with the behavior of its citizens and with government policies and the administration and regulation of power.

It is indeed significant that an anti-torture champion like Senator John McCain has taken a strong and moral stance on this issue. He reportedly signed a statement to the AG candidate that he and several others hope that, after the confirmation is successful, Mr. Mukasey will sign a statement that he thinks water boarding is torture and that it is illegal. How about that for resolve by McCain! He should be proud of himself, standing tall in the face of those who would roll over on the issue. His mother must be burtsting with pride!

Torture has been redefined by those who apparently have, or have appropriated the power to parse language and interpret the written word. I have witnessed some of the arguments for the use of what had heretofore been generally recognized as torture. As recently as yesterday, a television "pundit" by the name of Morton Kondrake stated that water boarding is not torture, apparently because, according to him, it does not cause lasting damage. As I stated in an earlier post, torture is torture, and the lasting effects are not germain to the moral definition of the word. If I cause physical or mental pain to someone who is unable to escape it in order to extract something they do not wish to yield, I am applying torture. Only the degree here is in question.

I might interject here that water boarding has a long and rich tradition, traced back to at least the Spanish Inquisition. Now those experts knew how to get confessions! 

So it is now legal to torture under the U.S. code and policy. We do not call it torture, so it is not torture. It is a fact in our country that we practice it on those we deem guilty. Their guilt need not be established by any judicial process, only that the captors have reason to so judge them. We can rest assured that said captors would not make errors in those judgments, and that their information and evidence is strong enough that the people subjected to the non-torture are clearly guilty of whatever they are being non-tortured for, so why not?

Along with that, it also came to mind that we now live in a society that treasures "higher education." You now need a college degree for many fields that not too long ago were considered "trades." Colleges and universities now offer degrees in all manner of fields, such as aviation, broadcasting, journalism, print journalism, television, radio, theater, music, cleaning teeth, physical therapy, teaching,  for all I know, plumbing and electrical, or truck driving. This is the age of credentialism. A college degree is a ticket to better income. I expect future managers at McDonalds to be required a degree from an accredited university or college in burger building.

It only seems to be a logical extension that colleges get into the field of "aggessive interrogation." It would be unseemly to label it torture, but I think there should be a regimen of intensive instruction in the art of extracting confessions and other vital information. These techniques should never be left to the whimsies of the unschooled. Water boarding can be misapplied, as suggested by people like Rudy Guiliani among others. He has stated that he too does not know if water boarding is really torture. He says that it depends upon how and upon whom it is used, so it clearly can be used inappropriately. We need highly schooled people who have been trained in these methods. It could be a new career field, since we are going to be, according to our present administration and almost the entire presidential contender list, in this war on terror for many years.

The area is ripe for this new discipline. After all, if these techniques are under-applied, the desired results will not be achieved, and if over- applied, of course, unfortunate results such as organ failure or even death might result. That would be too bad. 

Graduate schools in this discipline might confer degrees in more refined extraction techniques, perhaps now to remove finger nails or apply the rack without causing "permanent damage." I think a a degree in this could be called an "M.E.I." a "Master of Enhanced Interrogation." Sounds pretty educated, eh?

Following up on this thesis, it seems to me that in the current era, with our new questions about the lethal injection method of capital punishment, that we could find some universities that would offer a course of study in executions. It would of course, be a four year course, covering all of the methods of execution, the history of the penalty, and the ratings of them, as judged by the various societies.

The classroom work, would of course be followed by a rigorous internship before the coveted Master of Executions would be conveyed. Said internship might be as an assistant to the Head Executioner, or maybe starting out as a clean-up worker. Euphemisms being what the are these days, perhaps the final degree could be designated a Master of Capital Corrections. These individuals would be highly skilled in just how much chemical to apply in the case of injections (precluding wasteful use of resources), how many volts for electrocutions (electrical energy is another precious resource), and how much rope in hangings (to preclude either failure to break the neck, or on the other hand, decapitation because the body fell too far). In the gas chamber, the right amount of cyanide is important, and should not be left to the guesswork of the uneducated. After all, we do not want the condemned to suffer, we only want him dead, although there is a school of thought that hopes for more appropriate punishment, such as subjecting the condemned to the same death he or she inflicted upon his victim. A bit Old Testament maybe, but the idea does have merit. 

I'm just proposing this as a "modest proposal"---in the current state of morality and we find in our nation, it only seems reasonable... 

10:57 pm mdt          Comments

Saturday, October 27, 2007

America, My Home

I love my country as much as anyone who ever drew breath. As an American in good standing (in my own mind, if not in the minds of some), I maintain that criticism of it and efforts to improve it are not signs of disloyalty, hatred, or treason. Our country is by no means perfect, nor has it ever been.

I grew up, a product of the public school system, and learned most of the best of American society and history, and almost nothing of the worst. We were taught that America was chosen somehow as the hope of the world, and that those opposed to us were not worthy. Enemies were demonized, the better to unite against them.

My earliest recollections center around World War II, which began for us shortly before my seventh birthday. My father was unable to enlist in any armed service, but I had two maternal uncles who served, as well as a family friend who went into the Navy. My parents, especially my mother, were ardent supporters of the war effort (who wasn't in those days?), and the slightest whiff of hoarding, draft dodging, or other unpatriotic actions brought heaping scorn from them. My mother frequently referred to the "Japs" and how she never had trusted them. They were "sneaky."

Yet, I do recall her dismay and sadness at what happened to some Japanese-Americans in the community who lost their business, their home, and were shipped off to internment camps. She was shocked that they were villified with hate signs painted on their walls, although I do not remember her stance on their incarceration by our government.

But we were a typical family, I suppose, participating in bond drives, paper drives, and driving less as dictated by our gas sticker. These were government rationing stamps, issued depending on the owners' needs and priorities. As far as I know, my parents did not participate in any black market purchases or sales, and lived life within the strictures of the patriotic citizen's duty to further the war effort.

This upbringing and influence directed my life, as I gravitated into the air force in the early fifties, and spent a career there and in aviation, a direct outgrowth of the war and my family's participation and encouragement.

I thought, and still think that World War II was a noble effort, one that could not have been avoided. It was, once the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor, unavoidable. We fought back, and gained victory. For many years I was convinced that America "won" the war. I still believe that our participation made major differences. Without the industrial might of The U.S.A., victory would have been in doubt.

Whether we "won" it is in doubt, at least in my mind. The Allies contributed a great deal, in blood as well as in the destruction and materiel they lost, considerably more than we, especially when measured against their available resources and manpower. We might have pulled it off had we been in it alone, but the participation of Great Britain, France, China, and the rest of the "Free World" were major factors in our relatively few casualties. We spent material resources in greater measure than the blood losses we suffered. This is not to minimize our men and women who sacrificed. But I recognize that the Allies spent more humanity. It was truly an allied effort, and we all needed each other. 

I was in the military when Vietnam came around. I had been on active duty for nearly 5 years, and then went into the Air National Guard, first in Texas, then in Idaho, where I had moved when I started my airline career with West Coast Airlines in 1959. I was in my "military" mind in those years, and was a supporter of the war, even to the point of serving briefly at DaNang in 1969. It was in subsequent years that I came to view the debacle there as a serious mistake, one that I thought would never be repeated.

That brings us to the present, and the state of the United States of America in the now. I am convinced that we have lost our way as a nation and as a people. We seem to be intoxicated with power, applying it injudiciously when diplomacy and reason have been shunted aside. I have no doubt that we are the most powerful nation in history, both in actual resources and physical ability as well as relative to our enemies and friends around the world. But, unchallengeable power seems to retard clear thinking and diplomatic process. It seems to some to be quicker and more efficient to apply power, both implied and actual in bending others to the will.

Our citizenry is detached, and why that is so is puzzling. Why, if the present campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan is as has been described, a war for our very survival, are we so unconcerned here in the streets and towns of America? Why are we not immersed in this struggle? What is it that keeps us distracted and out of cognition?  More on this later...

4:32 pm mdt          Comments

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Katrina Without Water

The sad news out of Southern California has caught our attention, at least for the moment. In this era of short attention span and 24 hour coverage of what passes for news, it is difficult to predict when and what new tale de jour will take our eyes to other "delights."

But for now we have a disaster of enormous proportions, one that has thankfully not yet been high in terms of death and injury. It is, nevertheless, a tragedy of nearly unbelievable scope, one that few of us could have imagined a few days ago. Wildfires are common in the region, but this explosive conflagration dwarfs previous ones.

Despite this, I have already heard the voices of scorn begin. It is alleged that on one site a commentator on a national network commented that these people deserve what they get, the implication apparently being that they should have known they lived in a high risk region. Compassion from these quarters is minimal, it seems, akin to their unfeeling attitudes regarding the disaster that befell New Orleans and the entire gulf coast two years ago.

In the aftermath of that terrible event there were many voices raised in indignation regarding the failure of people to evacuate, the lack of emergency plans and facilities, and the very idea that people "chose" to live in such a perilous area in the first place. People were castigated for not leaving. They were attacked for staying in homes that were their sole possessions, many of them without insurance. People without cars could not leave, of course, and for that they became victims of events completely out of their control, but were deemed guilty of neglect, stupidity, and "welfare" mindset. It has been charged that they did not act for themselves, because they expected the governments to rescue them. True or not, they were victims, and a large percentage of them are still suffering from the effects of the greatest natural disaster in terms of property loss the nation has ever experienced.

The Southern California experience will be different. These are not largely poor towns and neighborhoods. The residents likely have insured their homes and possessions, and however reluctant they have been to leave, they have confidence that financial loss will not result.

These people had ready means of transportation. I talked to a friend of mine in the area, not yet evacuated, who has four (4) vehicles, all packed and ready to flee when the order comes. These people have the means to leave when it is time.

Clearly, the rich state of California has better facilities. The governor has been quick to act and ask for help, and the assistance of the federal government is far better situated to provide monetary as well as material help. Katrina led the way, and whatever the ultimate cost of these fires, the preparation lessons learned from the hurricane have had some application here. To his credit, Governor Schwartzneger has been on the scene, offering assistance and encouragement as well as requestiong National Guard and federal assistance.

But it remains the question, will there be cries this time not to rebuild? I am quite sure there will be cries that these people are stupid if they do. There will be those who say, why should we contribute to help these people move back into a risky region? The attitude of some, unfortunately, is "The Hell with them. They should have known better in the first place, and they are on their own."

That is what we heard from people after Katrina. I would remind these unfeeling people, perhaps some of whom were residents of the fire area and made their pronouncements regarding New Orleans, favoring abandonment, that "it could happen to you." You too may require compassion and material assistance." Aside from that, remember that whomever is affected, we are all Americans. We are not a nation of 50 separate sovereign countries. Americans are a nation because we value our fellow countrymen, regardless of their politics, religion, race, ethnic culture, sexual preferences, or gender. We exist because of and for each other. We have a moral oblibgation to assist our fellows through the offices of governments as well as through personal aid.

This is another opportunity for us to demonstrate our love of our country and our American brothers and sisters.

Will we meet the challenge this time? We failed miserably on just about every level before and after Katrina. Let's not fail now. 

2:31 pm mdt          Comments

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Airport Bathroom Comportment

I am not a fan of Senator Larry Craig. His political alignment runs counter to mine, and I would like to have seen him defeated in an election. Because I never claimed Idaho as my state of residence while there, I never voted there, so had no direct effect on election outcomes.

I admit to a small frisson of schadenfreude when the news first broke regarding his arrest in the now famous mens' room incident at the Minneapolis Airport. I had used the same facility many times myself when passing through during my working years when I was based there and later, although without any encounters of sexual nature. It has been years since another man came on to me, and I do not miss the unwanted attention. Still, I had an unworthy feeling of mild delight when it came to light that the senator had been arrested for soliciting sex with another man. I say "unworthy" because pleasure at another's misfortune is, however passingly pleasing, it is derived from someone's pain, and that is unworthy of someone who claims to be open-minded and fair, as I like to think I am. Schadenfreude is not a virtue.

In the subsequent days and weeks, it began to look somewhat different to me. As the facts came out, I began to question just what laws Craig had broken. I do not know, nor do I care if he is homosexual, or if he has ever engaged in homosexual behavior. I do reserve the right to criticize his hypocrisy if he is or has, in view of his anti-gay public stand and his votes against gay marriage and rights.  But that is another issue.

I do not know what the recognizable signs of cruising are, but feel confident that I will and have known them when I see or hear them. My question is, how do these "signs" come to be codified as breaking the law? Is is unlawful to tap one's foot while seated at a public commode? Is it unlawful to look between the cracks of a commode door instead of looking beneath for the presence of feet that indicate the stall is busy? Is it against the law to touch the shod foot of a neighboring commode-sitter? Am I in danger of arrest if I move my hand out of the stall for any reason? Senator Craig says he was picking up a piece of toilet paper on the floor. Is that unlawful?

Or, are these "signals" unlawful only when done in concert? Is there a specific order in which they need be done in order to be "clear signals of sexual solicitation?" I recognize that these movements could be, and likely are well known to men who have sexual liaison in mind. Senator Craig could have been soliciting sex, and it could be that he was not. I do not see any clear evidence of his having committed a crime. I am not a lawyer, and unschooled in what it takes to constitute statutory transgression, but I suggest that if these gestures described are against the law, it is an infringement of freedom.

The point I am driving at is that the policeman may have acted too quickly. Had he waited for more evidence, there could have been ample in the offing. It certainly looks to me like there were at least a couple of more steps in this scenario that would have left no doubt in my mind or those others who are not sure just what the senator's intent might have been had they occurred. What was the hurry? Why not catch the suspect with evidence that leaves no doubt legally as well as symbolically?

As to the senator's guilty plea, I empathize. He made a very stupid mistake, guilty or innocent. He should have known better, a man in his position. He apparently did not contact his lawyers before entering the plea. Stupid, but I do not think Craig a stupid man. We make stupid mistakes. His mistakes that day may have begun with soliciting sex, but he surely did compound any previous mistakes when he plead guilty to a lesser charge without benefit of counsel. The commission of a stupid error of judgment is not, in this case, criminal. He was frightened, for whatever reason, that this would make the news, and he made the mistake of hoping "it would go away." It did not.

This incident troubles me, and the next time I use a public restroom, I will not tap my foot. I will not make eye contact, and I will not check the vacancy of a stall by looking through the door crack. Nor will I pick up anything off of the floor lest I be arrested for deviancy. I will do whatever bodily function I came there to do, wash my hands thoroughly, and slip away before the thought police descend upon me and drag me off to face justice.  

4:33 pm mdt          Comments

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

E Pluribus Unum? Or Stupidly Naive?

The question I constantly ponder of late is this: What kind of nation are we?

When I was growing up, my vision of America was formed by The Great Depression and World War II. I grew up with the idea that my country was founded on principles that were moral, ethical, and correct. As I grew into manhood, I came to realize that we have not always followed those principles, but that in our continuous self criticism and introspection we strove for the retention of those principles.

Terrible things have happened in the country when we have failed to meet our stated goals, and we have failed too many times. But time and time again, we have had a population and leaders who believed in The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and The Declaration of Independence. Whatever transgessions of which we were guilty as a nation, we tried to make them right, and our professions of equality and justice for all were aims that all of us were reminded of and which I thought were the epitome of the American Dream.

I want to think that the majority of Americans still hold those values and rights to be self evident. I hope that we can once again come to the realization that this country belongs to all of us, and that as citizens of the greatest nation on earth, we can return to abstractions such as truth, honor, integrity, compassion, and unity.

For it is my sad conclusion that we have lost our way. Many have said that September 11 changed everything, and many of us concluded that it was so. Things did change on that horrible day, but values should not change with the conditions. What was moral and just on September 10, 2001 was still moral on the 11th, and still is moral and just today.

In the fear brought on by the attacks on that day, many of us have altered our collective view about the world and how to maintain safety and security in a world that is increasingly threatening. Many of us think that we have to fight monstrous behavior with equally monstrous behavior. We have come to fear so much and so greatly that we grasp at any and every means to strike back in an attempt to keep the enemy at bay.

I am referring here to the Iraq War in general, but more specifically to our treatment of people captured who have been deemed enemies. There has been a suspension of human rights in our attempt to secure our people and our country. We have resorted to methods that can only be described as torture, no matter what the current definition tries to delineate. Torture is torture, and waterboarding cannot be removed from that list. It is a horrible tactic, and any use of it or the condoning of its use by anyone must be rejected.

Suppose our military men and women, captured by an enemy force, were subjected to "harsh interrogation" like stress positions, disorienting lights and music, cold cells where they were kept wet and naked, and simulated drowning (waterboarding). We would be outraged at such treatment.

Our government officials have said it is not torture if it does not result in organ failure or even death. They now say that anything, apparently, that does not result in organ failure or death is merely "harsh interrogation." Let me point out that our captured aircrews in Vietnam were subjected to severe pain and suffering by stress bindings and harsh stocks that stopped circulation and caused hands and feet to swell and turn dark. It was excruciating, and almost to a man it got them to say what the interrogators wanted them to say. There was very little lasting damage to limbs or organs, as far as I know. My oldest and best friend was a prisoner of the North Vietnamese for seven and a half years, and suffered leg stocks more than once. He told me it was extremely painful, but to my knowledge he suffered no lasting damage. IT WAS TORTURE!

Did their captors derive useful information? I think not. It was a "game" of domination and resistance. Our aviators resisted as long as they possibly could, and in so doing, extracted a price from the North Vietnamese interrogators (torturers). The POWs forced their captors to mortgage their humanity. They resorted to brutality but the prisoners refused to surrender until it became unbearable. They signed, they talked, they did what was required, but they extracted that important price. They showed the captors that they were not going to give in until those captors became the brutes, and in so doing those brave American aviators maintained their dignity and their self-respect. The enemy became the craven, the inhuman, and the cruel. Torture is non-productive. It is dehumanizing. It is morally wrong. It puts us on a lower level as a nation. We are better than that.

We used to be the country of morality and justice. In World War II, we treated captured German and Italian prisoners quite well. If harsh interrogations were employed, I have not read of it, nor have I read anywhere of torture methods yielding solid and valuable information, information that was not or could not have been gathered elsewhere or by more skillful and less cruel methods.

War is a dirty business, and all wars result in immoralities, because the very concept itself is immoral. It is for that reason that entering a war must always be the last resort, and it has to be the result of reasoned thought, not emotional reaction.

It is quite one thing to commit atrocities in a war, and quite another to have atrocity as a tactic or policy. When a leader or government signs on to atrocity or immoral behavior, it undermines the cause, even if that cause was just in the beginning. These actions escalate. One side commits what the other calls an inhuman act, and they retaliate, racheting up the brutality. It moves into another phase, and the horrors magnify and multiply unless one side chooses morality and ethical behavior. In the past, regardless of individual lapses, it has been our policy to land on the side of what is moral, legal, and just. 

There have certainly been lapses: The Indian Wars, treatment of Black Americans, the incarceration of Japanese  Americans in WWII, the decimation wrought in the Phillipines in the Spanish-American War, and others. But this is the 21st Century, and human enlightenment no longer falsely believes races other than Caucasian are inferior. We must have advanced in our reason in the past one hundred or so years. It is inconceivable that we can still try to justify misbehavior and immorality by claiming that it makes us safe. It does not. Morality and ethics are difficult concepts, and difficult to define as well as to follow. We have to  take the high moral ground, and it is much, much more difficult than brutality and horror.

An old friend of mine recently told me that the problem is nothing to be alarmed about. He said that the people in government who implemented and who carry out things such as harsh interrogation (torture by another name) are good people. The agents who tap phones without warrant are not evil. The police who prevent peaceful demonstrations are good cops. He continued that these people would not misuse their powers, and that this is but a temporary condition. His contention was that I am not a good citizen because I oppose these tactics. If I were loyal, I would understand the stakes, and I would concede that a suspension of what is moral is necessary for our survival. He did not say it in exactly those words, but that was the gist of it.

I do not deny the goodness of people employing the tactics mentioned. They are good Americans, doing what is deemed necessary to protect us, but that does not make them moral and just. They are living in a delusion if they think immorality can produce moral results. Wrong is wrong, and these harsh methods are wrong as well as ineffective. They bring us to the level of enemies, who, were they to use the same methods, we would castigate as just plain wrong.

What then if we continue down this shameful and dark road? Will we succeed? Will we maintain our safety? Will the enemy surrender? No one knows the outcome, but this much is sure: If we stoop to inhuman methods, we will forever bear that mark of evil, no matter the goodness of those directly involved nor the morality of the citizenry that silently permits it to continue in our name.

We cannot act immorally and at the same time claim that we had no choice. We always have choices, and we should all be ashamed of our comportment in the treatment of prisoners as well as in our conduct of operations that kill and maim the people we claim to be helping.

Do we wish to be a nation that wins---at any cost---or a nation that strives to and maintains a level of decency and virtue that is beyond question?  We can prevail without discarding our American values. It is up to us as citizens to do the right thing, to speak out against what is wrong, and to support leaders who have the same values and understanding of moral virtue. 

4:21 pm mdt          Comments

Saturday, October 13, 2007


 I must apologize for straying away from motorcycle adventure riding in the past couple of blogs, but inasmuch as I am currently not undertaking any trips, nor do I have anything planned at present, I have nothing to scribble about related to 2 wheels. So, in the interest of maintaining this blog, I have elected to write about things that are important to me outside of the self-indulgence of riding a motorcycle into my dotage. I hope to be as apolitical as humanly possible, and keep some level of interest above abject boredom. 

What does it mean to be an American today? To be more specific, let me define "American" in this context as those of us United States Citizens as opposed to Americans who are citizens of other countries in North, Central, and South America, for they are "American" too.

What do we mean when we think of being an American as an abstraction? Of course, we are citizens of the United States of America, hence "American" simply by virtue of that fact. But, beyond citizenship bestowed upon us by the accident of birth or even through the naturalization process, what is it to be American?

Are we more than a population of nominal citizens? Do we stand for something beyond that? Most of us would say that we do, but how often do we think about what it is that we believe as Americans?  

We hear about and talk about freedom, liberty, justice, equality, maybe even the Four Freedoms mentioned in the previous blog, but I think the meanings of those words and phrases are often lost through over use and connotations that blur or even contradict definitions.

Take the word "freedom" as an example. There is a belief in some quarters that there should be no freedom granted to those who oppose the current administration policies that led us into, and keep us in Iraq. These people maintain that to oppose the occupation in Iraq is disloyal and even traitorous. They claim that dissent undermines our mission and demoralizes our soldiers. Unable to silence dissent, they use invective and personal attacks in attempts to discredit those dissenters. It is an attempt to stifle debate, and it has an effect on discussion. To oppose the Iraq campaign can elicit implication of being a "bad American." I have experienced it myself, from a long time friend, much to my dismay. I concede that I could be mistaken in my position on this, or for that matter on just about any issue, but to be branded disloyal for it is sobering and frightening in its ramifications. 

It is not against the law to disagree with the government, but when fellow citizens with whom we disagree fall into calling us disloyal for our views it is a stricture on our freedom. We hear talk radio and television commentaries from some quarters that put forth similar views against disagreement and dissent. These have the cumulative effect of shutting some of us up lest we be placed on some sort of formal or informal enemies list, to be dealt with when legal measures can be taken. it is perhaps an irrational fear, but the atmosphere of oppression is there, nontheless. 

Freedom, or perhaps I should say freedom of speech does not give one the right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater. There are limits, and rightly so, to our right to speak, but they should not include the restrictions on the right to give an opinion, be it "right" or "wrong" in the perception of the listener or reader. This American society at one time encouraged discussion, disagreement, and argument without vicious and unwarranted acrimonious attack. What ever happened to courteous discourse? How is it that social intercourse is now reduced to what the internet refers to as "flaming?" 

This kind of comportment is not restricted to one side of the political spectrum. Both sides have resorted to these tactics, to the degeneration of discourse in all areas. In my view it is worse from one side than the other, but that is my personal bias, and clearly not an objective judgment.

The effect of this breakdown is the restriction of one aspect of freedom and the closing off of discussion. The tendency to silence means assent, and it allows the other side to continue along their chosen path with fewer impediments. But what if they are wrong? In the case of national policies, it could be disastrous. If they are correct, then what is the harm in open and frank discussion? Whatever I believe, however I may argue any topic, I try to remain open to persuasion based on true information and facts. If I am wrong concerning the subject under consideration, I invite my opponent to convince me. Show me the data that make your case. I will feel free (freedom in action) to consider it. I might even change my mind. 

12:34 pm mdt          Comments

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