Free Speech Isn’t

I’m probably the 3 billionth blogger to chime in on the maddening murders in Paris yesterday. Last I remember hearing there were a dozen dead and the killing was centered on but not limited to the offices of a satirical magazine that dates back to 1969.

Though I am not marching or protesting, I am, like so many others deeply saddened at this horrible news.

I may be less inclined than average to toss in with the Free Speech Folks.

That’s what Charlie Hebdo was is all about, right? Each report I’ve heard about it, anyway, seems to be defending the satirical magazine with claims like, “But they made fun of everyone!”

Then I heard this: “One ought to be able to make fun of oneself, and of one’s opponents.”  And of course, “Within civilized society there must be room for satire, for free speech, for poking fun.”

All of these make very good arguments for those of us on the inside; for those of us, in other words, already convinced we are a part of this thing we call civilization and who think this is a good thing.

But what about those outside what we consider to be “civilized society”?  How many of us expect that simply referring to them as “uncivilized” or perhaps satirizing them ought to snap them out of their uncivilized-ness and awaken them to the reality we all know and love as civilization?

The problem is, of course, that civilization itself has some problems.  And you and I can see this from within what we call civilization! Can we allow for the possibility that, from outside our civilization, our way of life might not appear entirely desirable?

So, among the constraints you and I have agreed to on our way into “civilized society” is the notion of free speech.  It is not a natural law or right, existing amorphously somewhere until we claim it. It is, rather, an agreement at a large scale that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Except they do. Words do hurt.  Therefore, as we all learn in relationships and, one would hope, in society, there are things we don’t say, even if we have the right to say them, out of respect for other persons.

How much more ought we learn to respect those who haven’t even bought into the same understanding of “civilization” that you and I have?

I am not justifying the massacre in Paris.  I am also not arguing against Free Speech.  I am, rather, suggesting that satire for satire’s sake is, perhaps, not the greatest good.

Or, larger, free speech for the sake of free speech is not free, if free means without consequence.

Never Forget & Rascall Flatts

Here we are, September 11, 2014.

The answer to the obvious question:  I was at my office, at the church in Mart.  Internet wasn’t then what it is now, so the first I heard of the day’s events was from our building’s caretaker.

“Have you heard…?” 

I had not.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first that he was talking about something real or maybe he had just dreamed us into the latest of the “Left Behind” series.  It kinda sounded like that.

Once I realized it was indeed real, I did what most of us did – found a TV and glued myself to it.  Wonder, worry, pray, repeat.

Today, thirteen years later, before the date kicks in in my brain, I see several “Never Forget.”

Dang. Had I forgotten?

Clearly I had not; those social media posts took me back immediately to the same day in 2001.

Perhaps, though, I had forgotten if only in the sense that Rascal Flatts had helped me “forgot” my divorce.

I had never been much of a Country Music fan, but separated and divorcing in Mart left me with a lot of alone time AND one one music video station – GAC.

I became something of a fan of country music.  Looking back, it seemed an appropriate era of life to discover country music during.

Among the songs I discovered and listened to and bought and downloaded was Rascal Flatts “Moving On.”

I had a good bit of moving on that needed doing.  So I did.

But I didn’t forget.

I’ll never forget September 11, 2001.  But in many ways, I have moved on. I believe health, personal and social, is finding a place between the two.

For Whom?

A woman whose book I just started identified herself, years ago as the wife of a successful pastor, as someone “too busy blessing the blessed” to spend time on the needy.

Got in my car this morning to hear the very end of a report about, I deduced, paying college athletes (football players, anyway). The president of a university that is not in one of the “big 5” athletic conferences opined that this would create a plutocracy.  The concern was valid, to a degree.  If schools pay players, richer schools will be able to pay players more, thus funneling even more of the most talented players into fewer schools.

Then I read a piece about the NBA’s being hurt by the FIBA.  Paul George, a star for the Indiana Pacers, was severely injured playing for Team USA.  As a result of this loss, some even question the financial drain the NCAA makes on the NBA. (Players are required to play at least a year of college basketball before being eligible for the NBA draft and the millions of dollars that follow from it.)

I suppose I shouldn’t be bothered or offended that the interests of the NBA and colleges large and small, and even congregations of established churches have people looking out for them.  But what about “the least, the last, and the lost”?

Who is looking out for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison?

These clearly do not demand the economic attention of major colleges or their football programs, or of the NBA.

For whom ought we be looking out?

One Day

This picture shouted at me, “How can this kind of thing happen?!”

Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Gaza

My next thought was something like this: The last time the US saw that much smoke, fire, explosion, devastation all on one day, we grounded ALL air traffic for several days. We mourned as a nation – mourned seriously enough that Republicans and Democrats actually stopped hitting each other for a few months.

They stopping hitting each other long enough, in fact, to pass the Patriot Act, which, in my opinion, bargained away individual privacy for the promise never to let this kind of thing happen again.

In Gaza, on the other hand, they apparently call such devastation ‘Tuesday.’

Why can we care so deeply about this kind of thing when it affects, or threatens to affect us, but move on glibly from day to day when it happens on the other side of the globe.

My heart is heavy today for the Israelis and Palestinians who are caught in the middle of a fight between people in power.

It shouldn’t matter whether this kind of thing happens to us or near us or 10,000 miles away.

One day, we believe, God will indeed sort all these things out.  Jesus taught us to pray, among other things, for “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  One day we will reach this.

Since we pray this, some of us every day, let’s consider what we might do to hasten that day. I believe we move in the direction of that one day as you and I start to live as though we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

One day.

We’re right there with you, Miley

Here I am, a week after all the other bloggers have had their say on the Miley Cyrus at the VMAs incident. I can’t say I have followed it all closely enough to comment.  I didn’t watch the VMAs and never have.  It’s not that I am opposed to music or music videos; they (music videos) have just never hooked me.

But when I saw this  this morning, I was intrigued, so I read it.  I wasn’t drawn in my the f word, nor will include it here.  The quote that got me, and that sprung “blog fodder” into my head, was this:

everyone does dumb stuff when they are messed up.

Yes, everyone does.  We are all right there with you, Miley.

Of course, few of us have lived most of our lives in the celebrity spotlight.  There are other details about your life that some of my readers will know because they grew up “with” you in a sense.

In the interview you gave, you acknowledge that your life has been very messed up.  While I likely cannot imagine the degree and specifics therein, I can empathize. I, too, have lived a very messed up life.

And here is where some want me to say something like: “then I gave my heart to Jesus and everything got better.”

Well, kinda.

Ok, not really.  Right after I gave my heart to Jesus things did get better.  But the shine wore off and had, for a couple of decades, and life that looked great but was still rather messed up.

What turned it around?  a couple of things, honestly.  First, therapy.  I admitted to myself that I needed professional help and found it is a therapist I could trust. Second, I began to live more honestly and openly in relationship with the community of people I had around me.

These people were my church. So, yes; to those of you who thought I shrugged off Jesus a couple of paragraphs above, I do credit Jesus for the community in which I have, over the past 15 or so years, been learning to deal with and find healing for, all the “messed up” aspects of my life.

Simply put, Miley: we ALL do dumb stuff when we are messed up, and we are all, or at least have been, messed up.

Here’s hoping and praying you don’t wait until your mid 30s to take on the work of finding healing.

New word for the week: Cheeranny

Definition: the time and space when, under the guise of claims to freedom, cheerleaders take over. Word in context:  Kountze, Texas, appears no longer to be a democracy, but a Cheeranny. A judge ruled yesterday in favor of the Kountze High School Cheerleaders and their right to print whatever they want, including Bible verses, on […]