If I’m so wrong

12 04 2015

Too many thoughts, not enough words.

No, that’s not right: too many thoughts in too many directions, words scattering after the thoughts.

I didn’t make the argument that pluralism is best protected by the one-law principle (I guess I’d call it), and have been stewing about how to brew up that argument.

David Watkins (aka “djw”) at Lawyers, Guns & Money had a couple of good posts, as did John Holbo at Crooked Timber—the comments are even more provocative than the original post—the latter of which spurred a multi-page effusion of thoughts that. . . led to no greater coherence of those thoughts.

So: more work to do.

One thing did seem worth mentioning now, however, and that is that I was wrong to assert that adherence to a one-law standard would be sufficient to protect and even promote pluralism: it would not.

I think it can protect pluralism, but not on its own. One addition might be a robust defense of one’s off-the-clock expressions against on-the-job discipline or punishments. That is, as long as someone performs her duties at work, what she says or does when not at work can’t be used against her by her employers.

There are issues with this, of course, in terms of salaried employees, or those for whom off-the-clock expressions might be fairly seen as relevant to the job (e.g., a fire fighter who hates Catholics or a teacher who argues that children of single parents are damaged), or for a boss or CEO who is to represent an entire company.

And that more is involved than just employers/employees implies that other principles/standards may be required.

As I said, more work ahead.





Stop making sense

8 04 2015

wis-smAnd so they lost.

I didn’t go to a bar, didn’t follow the game online (tho’ I did check early in the second half to see the Badgers up), didn’t even stay up to see how it all turned out.

It is unlikely they will get back even to the Final Four anytime soon.

So, three reactions:

1. The critic-of-the-NCAA side of me is mildly satisfied with the loss, insofar as it makes it easier for me not to pay attention to college sports.

It’s a shitty reaction, I know, and only reinforces the fact that my so-called principled stand against exploitation is weak and requires reinforcement.

(See also: TBI and football and hockey.)

2. The fan side is sad.

I noted in the last post that a week away from the game and the game won’t matter; here it is two days out and it doesn’t matter.

Still, a win would have nice, and I would have enjoyed it, however fleetingly.

3. I really don’t like being a fan.

Some of the teams I have rooted for—Badgers (various), Brewers, Packers, Habs—have done well, some have not, and I had a lot of fun rooting for them when they won. Losing could be a bummer, but only of the most minor sort.

And then at some point the teeter tottered and the fun fleeted and the bummedness hunkered down, and I ended up ginning up serious mopes over losses.

That just seemed silly to me, so I stepped back.

This isn’t a critique of sports or any other kind of fandom (in fact, I kinda wish I had some of my old music-and-theater mojo back), and I’m making no point beyond the very small one that, for the most part*, for me, following sports stopped making sense.

*Except for women’s tennis. Yeah, as long as Serena is playing I’ll be paying at least a little bit of attention.

 





On Wisconsin

5 04 2015

Such a hypocrite, I am.

I don’t like the NCAA, don’t like the outsized role Division I sports plays at colleges and universities, think athletes should get paid and insured, believe that NCAA exploits the athletes in football and men’s basketball, and generally think that if the NFL and the NBA want minor league teams they oughtta pay for those teams themselves.

I would support the University of Wisconsin dropping out of the NCAA and fielding only club teams.

I have more-or-less stopped following football and hockey—a decision reinforced by concerns over traumatic brain injury—and am generally not a fan of basketball.

But can I tell you that I’ve checked the sports pages throughout the men’s tournament, and spent the morning reading report after report on the team’s win over Kentucky and its advancement to the championship game (even as I know that a week from now whether they win or lose won’t matter)?

But that tomorrow night I am sorely tempted to go sit my hypocritical ass on a barstool somewhere, watch the game, and scream

badgerL

Yep yep yep. . . .
~~~
Image: HarperCollins




Shopping never end

30 03 2015

Bought the chair.

Assembled the chair.

Sat in the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Sat in the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Disassembled the chair.

Returning the chair.

~~~

I did want to like this chair—and not only because I’ll have to schlep this sucker to a UPS store and eat the return shipping cost—but it did not work for me. I don’t know that it would work for any short person.

The flip-up arms I liked? Yeah, it was nice that they flipped up, but when down didn’t go down far enough. I had to put a cushion on the chair as a kind of booster seat in order to rest my arms comfortably.

Synchro-tilt? Yeah, no. I don’t know what I was thinking on this—I guess that the there’d be more “give”, or something, but as a lounger, I felt bunched-up.

Lumbar support? Feh. Again, I like lower-back support, but this was, I dunno, aggressive? Or just badly positioned for a shrimp? Either way, even with an added small pillow, it was a no-go.

By the way, have you noticed that with a new chair I needed a cushion and a pillow for it even to approach comfortableness? Riiiiidiculous.

There was one review from a guy who thought the chair seat could have been a bit larger, but said, hey, I’m a big guy (6’4″), so, y’know. Well, given how massive the seat was, he was probably HUGE.

Anyway, this would probably work fine for someone who is, well, bigger’n me.

I’m currently looking at these two chairs. The first chair is more expensive (tho’ it’s available for less thru a different seller), but it really well-reviewed. The second chair, well, the second chair has no reviews—and on the manufacturer web site notes both that is has asynchronous and synchro tilt, so, y’know. . . .

Blegh. I hate shopping.





For worse or for better

29 03 2015

Lemme have another go at this.

If there are different laws for different groups, then the differences between the groups will grow. People will join Camp A or Camp 5 or Camp Potato, and their actions will depend upon what camp they are, and are not, in. Even those—especially those—who don’t care one whit about camps will be pressured to choose, to pick a side.

Absent a neutral law, neutrality is hard to maintain.

And absent neutrality, pluralism is hard to maintain.





Whatever we deny or embrace

25 03 2015

Sometimes a girl just wants a beer.

I don’t want to have to be bothered with the bodega owner’s religious beliefs, or the beer company’s political donations; I don’t want to have to run through some kind of checklist of acceptable/unacceptable views before I lay down my 10 bucks for a six-pack.

You see, all that time I spent spewing a not-inconsiderable number of words on the concept of “one law for all”, I was really just covering for my own laziness.

Okay, not entirely true, but if we decide to divvy up our laws and protections based on personal beliefs, then those of us who have strong beliefs (of whatever sort) are gonna end up wasting time trying to make sure we’re not paying for someone else’s loathsome agenda.

I don’t mind searching for fair trade coffee, say, and do try (although sometimes fail: Amazon) to buy products and services from companies which don’t mistreat their workers; connecting labor conditions to the purchase of things labored is a pretty direct relationship, and thus makes sense to me.

But beyond that direct economic relationship, I’m a raving pluralist, and thus neither want nor expect that everyone and every company which produces anything I could possible buy, use, or otherwise enjoy would line up with my own beliefs.

More than that, I think it would be bad if we only ever consorted with our own kind on every last thing.

How dull. How constricting. How small.

I do notice the expressed political or religious views of authors and actors and musicians, and yeah, it does affect my view of them—and I don’t like that. (I have yet to write the Play to End All Plays, but if I could get Brian Dennehy or Danny Aiello to star, I would be a fool to turn them down just because they’re conservative.) I don’t know these people, will never know these people, so if I’m watching a movie or listening to a song, why should their personal views have anything to do with my enjoyment of their performance?

Such tribalism is only human, I guess, but I don’t have to feed it; getting past tribalism is human, too.

Which is where one-law-for-all comes into play: it’s good for pluralism. When we enter the public sphere, each of us is by law equal to the other, which means that by law each can go where and do whatever anyone else can do*. It is a basic kind of justice.

(*Yes, there are some exceptions to this—“employees only” and “you must be this tall. . .” and all that—but the general rule stands.)

It is—horribly—clear that not everyone is treated equally and that injustice is a daily part of life. Still, that we are all to be equal under the law promises, if only in the breach, that each of us deserves to be a part of public life, that however different we may be from one another, we belong.

All right, I’m getting tired, my thoughts are wandering, and this argument is falling apart even as I make it, so lemme just jump to the end: having different laws for different groups disrupts that basic equality and obscures the basic standard of justice. Instead of being free to move about the country, one has to worry about getting/determining who to shut out.

And the second end: if we instantiate the lines we draw around ourselves, those lines come to matter more than anything else—more than the beer, the books, or the movies we could enjoy, more than ease of moving through our towns and our cities, more than the experience of being in the world.

I don’t want society to be a mush; I want us to be able to differ. And the best way to do that is to make sure that, whatever our differences, we are, by law, treated the same.





Language is a virus

20 03 2015

In honor of National Foreign Language week, a school in upstate New York decided to have students broadcast the Pledge of Allegiance in different languages.

Including Arabic.

Which, of course, upset some people.

The reading became the subject of angry talk throughout the school and a cascade of tweets both from students who criticized the reading and those who supported it.

The controversy has “divided the school in half,” according to [Pine Bush High School] Superintendent Joan Carbone. She described the reading as “something that was supposed to be good but turned out not to be.”

Early Wednesday afternoon, high school Principal Aaron Hopmayer made a building-wide announcement explaining the reading’s context and apologizing to students who took offense.

The apology appears to have done little to quell the situation; it may, in fact, have fueled resentment from students who feel the reading was appropriate.

Carbone said she had received complaints from district residents who had lost family members in Afghanistan and from Jewish parents who were equally outraged by the reading. (emphasis added)

Afghanistan, where the major languages are Dari and Pashto, and where the minor languages include Uzbek and Kyrgyz, but not Arabic. And who knew that merely speaking Arabic—itself a Semitic language—is anti-Semitic.

(By the way, nothing like reading the comments to remind oneself not to read the comments.)

Carbone apparently erred in allowing the Pledge broadcast in other languages—Dept of Ed regs require that it be read in English—but the OUTRAGE is less about the regs than the language itself.

It shouldn’t surprise me that a language can become a target—the US government is not the only one in the world which has attempted to snuff out a culture by snuffing out a language—but jeez. . . I. . . I don’t even know what to say.

Except: jeez.

~~~

h/t Huffington Post








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