Friday, December 30, 2011

The Propaganda Machine continues

I've seen the above image popping up on various people's Facebook pages recently, and all I can do is just shake my head in disgust. It's just another example of the mindless propaganda that gets posted and passed on by people who apparently have no capacity to stop and think for themselves. And, in my opinion, just another chance at "Christians" to take a jab at the Muslim religion.

First of all, who is saying it's not okay for Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow to pray? Has the NFL asked him to stop doing it? No. Have fans made a public outcry against it? No. Truth of the matter is, you have media corporations like Fox News that like to stir the pot, and they see it as an opportunity to create yet another divisive story by claiming that Tebow is "under fire" for his religious views. So, the media sees this as a golden opportunity to sell a controversy — after all, controversy = ratings, right? They go find a few people who are asked loaded questions about Tebow's faith until they find someone who gives them the antagonistic answer they like, and that's the clip they use. Bam! Instant controversial news story.

The only real anti-Tebow quote I've heard that they could dig up was from former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, who said he wished he would "just shut up." Hardly a scathing religious persecution. And, besides, who cares what a washed up quaterback that hasn't played in the league in five years has to say? But, hey, it fit the media's need for a quote to round out their story.

Christians in general like to claim the persecuted role. Two thousand years ago, that may have been the case, but today in the United States, the only real persecution we have is for the most part self-inflicted when we try to force our views onto others. Like the photo above shows, this should be a land of religious freedom, not forced Christian dominance. That's what our founding fathers wanted, a place where people were free to worship as they please. Somehow that's been twisted into thinking tolerance is some form of anti-American sentiment, when the opposite is actually true.

Personally, I don't want to live in a land where I'm told what belief system I have to adopt. If most people would stop and look past their prejudices and think about it for a moment, they'd probably feel the same.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Long December

"It's been a long December
And there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last

I can't remember all the times
I've tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass"
—Counting Crows

December is a paradox. It both flies by and drags on at the same time, somehow merging into a time of year that is insanely rushed and busy, but sometimes feels like it will never end. And, like every year, it's a time to both reflect and to look ahead.

When did things become so complicated? What happened to those magical childhood Christmases that we all have fond memories of? I realize as an adult, those fade into reality, but I'm not completely sure if my kids are getting it. Do they feel like I remember feeling? Can they not sleep because of the excitement of what might be waiting for them under the tree the next morning? Somehow, Christmas has become just another thing we try to get through instead of enjoying.

And as I ponder this, I realize it's not only Christmas. Our children have a pretty hectic schedule. There's swimming (and lots of it), there's concerts, there's school functions and friends' birthday parties, and it seems that more and more we're just trying to get through all the events, as if there's going to be some moment of peace somewhere down the line.

And, now that I think of it, it's not just me, but pretty much all of society. Somehow we've become so busy trying to get through life, we're missing out on living it. Just like the lyrics to the song above, I can't remember all the times I've tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass. Don't see everything as a chore, or a task at hand, but try to approach it as being a memory, something worth cherishing and hanging on to, because one day, near the end, we're going to regret just getting by to the next week, or the next month or the next year. There's a quote attributed to Steve Jobs, but it's also a Chinese proverb, that says "the journey is the reward." We need to focus on that more.

Yes, it has been a long December … and maybe this year will be better than the last. Or at least one that I learn to slow down and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hank Williams Jr., and Free Speech

Country music artist and Monday Night Football spokesman Hank Williams, Jr., caught some heat and lost his job over a comment that compared President Barack Obama to Hitler. Technically, it was an analogy rather than a direct comparison, in which the country singer compared a golf game between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to a golf game between Adolf Hitler and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I'll be the first to agree that the comments were blown out of proportion and the retribution was a bit extreme. That said, I hate that the whole freedom of speech argument has been dragged into the debate.Williams had every right to say what he did. He was not censored in any way, and the comment aired on television without question. How is any of that a violation of free speech?

Just because there are repercussions to the things you say doesn't mean your first amendment rights have been violated. I can go to any public forum, such as Facebook or even this blog, and write derogatory things about my employer or boss. It's perfectly within my rights to do so. However, if they read that and disapprove, they're probably going to fire me, which is perfectly within their rights as well. This notion that free speech gives you the right to say anything about anyone with no consequences is absolutely absurd.Another thing that bugs me about the whole situation is the misplaced blame. Williams fired back with a new "song" (and I'll use the term loosely) about the downfall of society, how we're becoming a socialist state and pretty much blames Obama for not only his firing, but pretty much anything else wrong with the world today (it is his fault that R.E.M. broke up, right?).

The decision to fire Williams undoubtedly went through ESPN president George Bodenheimer, who has contributed tons of money to several Republican causes, including campaigns for Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and presidential candidate John McCain. So, if there's some vast Democratic conspiracy to take away our rights and spin us toward a socialist society, then Bodenheimer must be in on it. I mean, he even places part of the blame on Fox and Friends, which is about as far to the right as someone can go without toppling over.Bottom line is this sort of highlights how polarized our nation is becoming, and how quick we are to blame anyone else for our problems. I don't think Williams was meant to directly compare Obama to Hitler, and I think firing him over it was a bit harsh, but firing back with a poorly written propaganda tune doesn't help his case any. And to try and make this argument about free speech is even more ludicrous than the lyrics he probably took 20 minutes or so to pen out of anger.

Here we go

Been mulling this around for a while, and as a former journalist I like to write. It's something I don't do nearly enough of anymore. At the same time, I watch all these events in life unfold, and sometimes want to weigh in on them. It's a touchy time in the world right now. Our society is about as polarized as it's been since the Civil War, and things seem to be getting worse instead of better. So, that's where the concept of this blog comes in. Just a place to put down my thoughts when the mood strikes. Some pieces about the things I love, like music and photography, and some about the things I hate, like politics. Not sure if anyone will even read this blog, and to be honest, I don't really care. This is more for me, just a form of catharsis. A chance to get things off my chest and reflect on the world in which I live.