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Posts from September 2013


Scoot Blog: Are You an Adult at 18
At the age of 18, you are old enough to join the military and get married, but you are not legally old enough to drink when off duty or at your own wedding.  So, when are you an adult?

Child psychologists in Britain have presented new guidelines advising doctors to change the age of maturity from 18 to 25.  The new guidelines are based on recent research showing that emotional and hormonal maturity associated with adulthood does not generally occur until age 25.

Researchers divided adolescence into three stages: the early period between 12 and 14, the middle period between 15 and 17 and ‘late adolescence’ from 18 to 25.  The new research indicates that mental and physical development that defines adulthood is not manifested until age 25.

There has long been a debate in America about the age of adulthood.  Should young people be considered adults at 18 or 21?  The British researchers want the age of adulthood to be defined at 25, but the debate in America has continued to be focused on redefining adulthood at age 21. Even without this new research on the age of adulthood, it should be obvious that individuals experience substantial growth on every level between 18 and 21.

When I was ‘coming of age,’ the legal drinking age in Louisiana was 18.  The state was pressured by the federal government to raise the legal drinking age to 21.  If the law allows individuals to enlist in the military or get married at age 18, then why should the legal drinking age be 21?  This is just one of the inconsistencies that leads to confusion.

Making the argument that the ‘world has changed’ should include the premise that with technology and the evolution of society today’s 18-year-old is smarter and knows more about life than an 18-year-old decades ago.  If past generations were considered mature enough to drink at 18, then what is the argument that today’s 18-year-olds are not mature enough to legally drink?

Rather than encouraging maturity and independence, is America actually stunting the maturation of America’s youth?  More young people are living at home with their parents.  Many are still at home in the early adult years and many have moved back home.  In some ways we recognize how advanced young people are today, but at the same time we have also become a society that is coddling younger generations.

In the animal kingdom, offspring are forced to be on their own as soon as they are physically able.  I’m not promoting that parents push their children out into the real world before necessary, but we can see that America has collectively trended toward becoming overly protective.

Understanding that every generation of parents should learn from its mistakes and pass their learned wisdom onto their children’s generation, I struggle with the feeling of hypocrisy when dealing with the debate over the drinking age being 21, when I legally drank at 18.

If nothing else, should we strive for more consistency?  If our society says you are adult enough for some things at 18, but not adult enough for other things until the age of 21, the message about adulthood is ambiguous.  The age at which an individual is considered an adult should be either 18 or 21 across the board.

I don’t expect the drinking age to ever be lowered to 18, but it is appropriate to point out the obvious inconsistencies in our society.  From your personal experience in life, why were you old enough to drink at 18, but argue that today’s 18-year-olds are not old enough to participate in that activity?

Raising age limits can be a sign that the adult generations making the rules have concluded that ‘personal accountability’ cannot be taught, therefore the only way to protect young generations is to simply raise the age of participation.

A young male or female is trusted with the responsibility of defending the principles of America on foreign soil – but not with drinking responsibility? Think about it.
 (63) Comments
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Locations: Louisiana




 
Scoot: No Guns Allowed at Annual NRA Meeting
Conservative pro-gun activist Ted Nugent will have to surrender his gun at the NRA’s annual meeting this weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina.  “NO GUNS ALLOWED” is the message the NRA sent to its members attending the annual meeting in North Carolina.  State law prohibits the carrying of firearms in the Charlotte Convention Center and the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the NRA’s annual meeting will be held.

All of the NRA’s leadership, membership and special guests that include Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Oliver North and Glenn Beck will be forced to give up their weapons, because the law bans firearms – open or concealed carry.  The NRA has not used this law to protest infringements on 2nd Amendment rights.

Even with complaints on pro-gun social media sites, the NRA accepts the law and simply informed ALL those attending that contrary to their dedication to promoting being armed in America – they will not be allowed to enter the convention with their guns.
It is fair to point out that not all NRA members promote the right to carry a firearm anywhere, but there are those members who do feel one of their purest constitutional rights is violated, if they are banned from being armed in any venue.

The ban on carrying firearms at the NRA annual convention this weekend in Charlotte should not be seen as a strike against pro-gun activists.  Advancing the agenda of being armed in America should be founded on the principle of protecting self, family and business.  I don’t understand why a firearm would be needed for protection at the NRA meeting.  And if you needed a gun to attend the convention – why would you want to go to the convention?

Protesting such a ban on firearms would only serve to focus on those who are interested in promoting the brazen “showing off” of guns, rather than the purpose guns serve in terms of protection.  The 2nd Amendment seems to center on the right to “keep and bear arms” for protection - not to express a macho-attitude or to prove the point that one can carry a firearm.  Would you want to be the one to tell Ted Nugent to surrender his gun? 

Of course, the temptation to sneak a gun into the NRA convention would probably be as strong as the temptation to sneak pot into a Metallica concert!
 (30) Comments




 
Scoot Blog: Teens Gone Wild at Ex-NFL Player’s House
Once in a while there is a moment that defines ‘what’s wrong with America.’   The recent drunken teen bash at ex-New England Patriot player Brian Holloway’s empty house in upstate New York is one of those moments. 

While at his home in Florida over the Labor Day Weekend, Brian Holloway was shocked to see pictures posted on social media of a teen drunk fest taking place at his empty house in New York.  Holloway is now on a mission to identify the teens that participated in the party and has posted pictures from the party on his website.  From the social media postings, the names of as many as 100 of the 300 teens who broke into his house to drink and party have been turned over to local police, who are now investigating. 

Holloway says that the teens caused over $20,000 worth of damage to his house – there were broken windows, spray-painted graffiti, urine-soaked carpets, wood floors scratched by beer kegs being dragged across them and piles of trash left behind.  The teens involved were invited to come to his house to clean it up as he was getting the house ready for a party he had planned.  About 50 teens showed up at the house to help clean, but only 1 teen was actually at the party.

Through his website, “Help Me Save 300,” Brian Holloway is hoping to turn this unfortunate incident into a learning experience by focusing on “accountability and reconciliation” and ultimately saving lives.  But after posting the pictures of some of the teens gone wild on his website, it’s reported that some of the teens’ parents are threatening to sue Brian Holloway for positing their teens’ pictures without permission.  “Parents are upset with me when their child was in my house…taking drugs, using roofies and drinking, and they’re going to be upset with me?” Holloway told CNN.

Should parents be upset with Brian Holloway for posting some of the pictures teens took of each other throwing a wild party in his empty house?  One of the problems with many teens today is actually a problem with their parents.  This may be another example of parents defending their kids when their kids have done something that should not be defended.  Often we hear about the parent that marches to school to criticize the school for disciplining their child, rather than hold their child accountable for negative behavior at school.  It should be the instinct of every parent to defend their child, but not when their child is guilty of misdeeds.  Too many parents are in disbelief that their child could do wrong and the guaranteed and unconditional defense of parents can encourage a child to learn that negative behavior in life has few consequences.

In the case of any parents who would complain about or even consider taking action against a homeowner who retrieved pictures of their teen from social media posts and posting them on a website for the purpose of identifying the guilty teen culprits, is a parent who is embarrassed that their teen got caught in the act.  As far as I know, Brian Holloway did not photo shop any of the pictures. These were pictures that were taken by teens at the drunk-fest who were bragging about the party they had created.

In rich neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods, many teenagers in America have grown up with little or no fear of consequences for unruly behavior.  The parents of the teenagers gone wild at an empty house in upstate New York should be embarrassed, but they should also be mad at themselves for failing to teach their own children that such behavior is unacceptable.

Through every socio-economic group there are parents who have been abject failures at teaching their children the basic concept necessary to maintain a civilized society – the concept of consequences for negative behavior.  And this is a lesson that must be taught from the beginning of their children’s lives – not when they reach the rowdy teen years.

Recently in New Orleans, a video that went viral showed an NOPD officer standing and ignoring two women who were fighting in public on Canal Street.  The fear of consequences for negative behavior also extends, at times, to law enforcement.

If you are part of the miracle that brings a new life into this world, you have the absolute responsibility of teaching your child right from wrong and that there are definite consequences for failing to adhere to a moral code.  Breaking into an empty house and participating in a display of destruction and debauchery is a violation of a moral code in any society.

Before you blame someone else for your child’s behavior – look in the mirror and make sure you are not to blame first!
 
 
 (15) Comments
Tags :  
Locations: FloridaNew OrleansNew York
People: Brian Holloway




 
Scoot Blog: Pope Francis Touches ‘Untouchable’ Topics
Is the Catholic Church ready to change? And will the changes bring Catholics back to the Church?

From the beginning, Pope Francis seemed eager to break some of papal traditions.  As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in Argentina, he had an image of a man who shunned the pious mentality displayed by some of his predecessors and many Catholic leaders and maintained a lifestyle that never took advantage of the lavish comfort offered to the hierarchy in the Catholic Church.

Through scandals and adhering to some traditions that seemed unreasonable in the modern world, the Catholic Church has caused an exodus of previously-devoted followers.  The Church has also had difficulty in recent years attracting young men willing to enter the priesthood.

Pope Francis appears to be a pope with a moderate mentality and a willingness to place more importance on what’s right than what has been tradition.  The Pope has criticized the Catholic Church for focusing too much on homosexuality, abortion and contraception and has become obsessed with these issues to the distraction of the mission of making the church a “home for all.
Last week it was learned that Pope Francis accepted the gift of a used car that he planned to use to travel around the grounds of the Vatican, rather than always be chauffeured everywhere.  But that is a minor indication that the new pope is expressing a willingness to update the Church.

The Vatican’s secretary, Archbishop Pietro Parolin – the number 2 most powerful person at the Vatican – said that the celibacy of priests is not a dogma of the church. “Celibacy is not an institution but look, it is also true that you can discuss (it) because as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church,” he said in a quote to NBC.

In a 2012 interview as Cardinal in Argentina, Francis said that priests can be married and “they are very good priests.”  He said, “It’s a matter of discipline, not faith.  It can change.”  But he did say that he was in favor of maintaining celibacy. That was in 2012, now as pope, Francis seems to be sending a new message – the celibacy of priests is open for discussion.

Pope Francis also broke papal tradition by using the word “gay” when he said that priests should not be judged by their sexual orientation.  That was a stark contrast to his predecessor, Pope Benedict, who said that homosexuality, was “an intrinsic moral evil” and that priests with homosexual tendencies should not be priests.  To be clear, Pope Francis does not support priests acting on their homosexual tendencies, but said, “Who am I to judge?” a priest who is a homosexual.

Pope John Paul II absolutely closed the door to the idea that women can become ordained priests, but Pope Francis appears to be interested in seeking a theology of women and a more dominant role for women in Catholic Church.

Pope Francis also shocked the Catholic – and Christian world by saying that there is a path to Heaven for Atheists.

When Pope John Paul II became a new pope, he was young and many believed that he would strike a more moderate chord in assessing the doctrine of the Church.  That never happened.  Pope John Paul II proved to be a very strict, conservative pope unwilling to bend on any of the major issues that were driving Catholics from mass.

The new dialogue with Catholics that may emanate from Pope Francis should be welcomed by the millions of Catholics who have felt increasingly disenfranchised from the church.  For those who will argue that the church should not change to fit the norms of a changing society – rather society should change to fit the norms of the church, acknowledge that rules often supersede the true mission or spiritual nature of an institution.  The Catholic Church has changed over time from declaring that priests could no longer be married - to changing the ban on eating meat on Fridays.

Rather than view whatever changes that may result as a sign the Church is weak and unwilling to protect strict doctrine, the rules about Catholics who are divorced and re-married provides the perfect way to understand how the church can change for the right reasons as society changes.  

According to the church, if you are Catholic, re-married and having intimate relations with your new wife or husband, then you are not welcome to communion – unless you have had your original married annulled.

If a married took place before the eyes of God and witnesses, the Catholic concept of annulment is exposed as a fund-raising administrative action that should be considered an insult to the God who was part of the ceremony. Furthermore, why would the church enforce a rule that robs good Catholics of the sacrament of communion when they have made the moral and honorable decision to marry their new spouse?
Also, the vow of celibacy is very hypocritical.  Today, there are Catholic priests who are married.  Married Episcopal priests can convert to Catholicism and be accepted as a married Catholic priest.  So, the Church does accept married priests.

There will be many strict Catholics who disagree with this pope and his openness to discussing issues that have been taboo in the church.  But those were the very people who told the rest of us that whoever is pope has the final say!

The revolution that Pope Francis may start could lead to the strictest Catholics to question the church – but where are they going to go?  It seems certain that any revolution in the Catholic Church will bring more people back to the church than chase people away.

And I know that many Catholics, like myself, are still waiting to hear if Pope Francis believes that Falcons fans are going to Heaven!
 (30) Comments




 
Scoot Blog: It’s the End of the World! Or, is it?
The idea of a U.S. military attack against Syria has inspired more ‘end of the world’ predictions!

FOX News anchor Neil Cavuto spent a segment on his show on the possibility that an attack against Syria could be a sign of the End Times.  Cavuto referred to the Old Testament when he talked about the Christian belief that Jesus Christ will return to face the Antichrist.  He said, “Don’t laugh. Some Biblical scholars say it’s all there in black & white.”

Neil Cavuto is not the first – and won’t be the last - person to predict the end of the world based on political turmoil.  My question is – why are some people so willing to put on the clown face by making ridiculous predictions?  Is it a desperate attempt to grab attention through the creation of hysteria?

Here are just a few of the ‘end of the world’ predictions over time:
  • 1000, Jan 1: Pope Sylvester II predicted the Millennium Apocalypse would occur on this day. Riots broke out in Europe and Pilgrims headed east to Jerusalem.
  • 1284: Pope Innocent III predicted the world would end 666 years after the rise of Islam.
  • 1656: Christopher Columbus predicted the world would end in his “Book of Prophecies” (1501).
  • 1780, May 19: Connecticut General Assembly members predicted that the sky would turn dark from a combination of smoke from forest fires, a thick fog and cloud cover and that would mark the end of the world.
  • 1836: John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, referred to the years 1058-1836 as the time when Christ “should come.”
  • 1853-1856: Various sources believed the Crimean War was the Battle of Armageddon.
  • 1962, Feb. 4: Jeane Dixon scared many Americans with her prediction that a planetary alignment on this day would lead to the destruction of the world.
  • 1967, Aug. 20: This day would mark the beginning of the end of the world with the destruction of the southeastern U.S. by a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.
  • 1982: Pat Robertson predicted this was the year the end of the world would occur.
  • 1985: Evangelist Lester Sumrall predicted the world would end in his book, I Predict 1985.
  • 1987, Nov.: REM released “It’s the End of the World (As We Know It)”
  • 1994: Harold Camping predicted the world would end on three different days.
  • 1995, Mar. 31: Harold Camping predicted for the 4th time the world would end on this day – and said this would be his last prediction until 2011!
  • 1999: Nostradamus predicted the world would end in this year with the “King of Terror” coming from the sky.
  • 1999: There were countless predictions that the world would end when the calendar changed to January 1, 2000.
  • 2000: Lester Sumrall again predicted the world would end – this time in his book, “I Predict 2000.”
  • 2011: As promised, Harold Camping made more predictions that the world would end on Sept. 29 and again on Oct 21 of 2000.
And, you may have noticed… We are all still here!  

Fear is one of the human emotions that inspires people to take action or follow the one who proclaims to have the inside information about the end of the world.  Neil Cavuto joins a long list of people who have predicted the end of the world – presumably to draw attention to themselves.

Fallen televangelist Jim Bakker, who is back with a show, is constantly predicting the end times are near and is soliciting donations by selling products that will help people survive the end of the world.

I am often criticized for my belief that the Bible can be interpreted in many ways. Over time, numerous scholars have interpreted the symbolism in the Book of Revelation to define specific political developments as definite signs the world was about to end.

The good news is – the world is not about to end even if there is a military attack against Syria.  The bad news is, you have to continue to pay your bills!

So, relax and enjoy the upcoming weekend!  I don’t want to alarm you, but there is something in Revelation that refers to a winged-creature that seems to point to the end of the world coming when the Atlanta Falcons win the Super Bowl!
 (20) Comments




 
Scoot Blog: Starbucks Asks Customers to Leave Their Guns at Home
Starbucks is asking its customers to no longer bring guns into its locations. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s request to customers is the result of the growing popularity of “Starbucks Appreciation Days,” when gun rights advocates show up at Starbucks cafes with their firearms.  Many Starbucks’ customers have not been comfortable with the pro-gun rights demonstrations at the cafes.  Last month, Starbucks closed a store in Newtown, CT for a day after learning that gun rights advocates planned a “Starbucks Appreciation Day” at that location.

Schultz was quick to point out that Starbucks will not ask anyone with a permit and a gun to leave and will not refuse service, but he is hoping that customers will honor his request.  Schultz further explained that Starbucks is not pro-gun or anti-gun.
Should businesses have the right to ban guns, even if customers have a concealed carry permit?  And what about patrons with legal permits carrying guns into businesses that serve alcohol?  Off-duty law enforcement officers in Louisiana are not allowed to bring their guns into a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol, unless they are conducting official business.

Should gun owners have the right to carry their firearms into bars or restaurants that serve alcohol because they need their weapons for protection?  Or, is it more a case of wanting to do it just because they can?  Most people go to bars and restaurants for the purpose of having a good time.  Why would anyone choose to go to a bar or any business where they felt the need to carry a gun for protection?

If gun owners have exercised their right to carry a firearm legally, why would they feel the need to demonstrate this right in public places, like a Starbucks café?  Is this an example of gun-rights advocates “shoving their right to carry a gun in the face of others?”  And if so – how is that different from those who criticize gays for demonstrating their right to be together in public?

I would hope that gun owners are secure and confident in their 2nd Amendment rights and would not feel the need to push their right to carry a firearm on the general public.  But, unfortunately, as with every group, there are individuals who are overzealous in promoting an agenda.

Recently, there was controversy about a bakery in Colorado that refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.  The owner of the bakery said that boycotts forced him to go out of business.  The debate over whether the bakery should have served customers who do not share their same political or religious beliefs was fierce.  If you would argue that a business does not have the right to ban law-abiding customers who are legally carrying guns from their establishment, then would it be fair to argue that a business has the right to refuse service to law-abiding customers with a different view on same-sex marriage?

With the understanding that the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, in theory, if a business does not have the right to ban customers with firearms, then would it not be hypocritical for a business to ban customers based on countless other activities or ideologies?

The challenge in America is to avoid the trap of hypocrisy and maintain consistency with actions and ideologies.  Many Americans support the right of states to pass laws that supersede federal laws, but those same Americans do not agree with states trumping federal laws when it comes to the legalization of marijuana or same-sex marriage laws.

There are endless examples of hypocrisy.  Many Americans will condemn a president from one party while accepting the same policies of a president from their party.  And this is what contributes greatly to the hate in today’s political debates and the depth of partisanship in Washington.

Try to be fair – if you support a business’s right to ban gun owners from carrying their weapons into a business – then support the right of every law-abiding customer to be served by a business, without judgment of personal or political beliefs.
 (18) Comments
Tags :  
Locations: ColoradoConnecticutLouisianaNewtownWashington
People: Howard Schultz




 
Scoot Blog: Violent Video Games Not To Blame for D.C. Shooting
In society’s instinctive quest to determine the motivation behind another senseless mass shooting, the information from friends that the suspected D.C. mass shooter, Aaron Alexis, was obsessed with violent video games seems to provide the perfect answer to the mystery.
Violent video games have become a convenient scapegoat for mass shootings and the ease with which young people kill today, but convenient answers often shroud the more complicated reality.  It has now been reported that Alexis would enter into marathon sessions of playing the video game Call of Duty and on one occasion played the game for 16 hours continuously.  He was so immersed in playing violent video games that friends say they would bring him food during the marathon sessions.

Is it fair to blame violent video games for actual violent behavior?  It has been the media and politicians, not the psychological community, who have been quick to conclude violent games inspire violent behavior.  And yet, a collection of respected studies and research that are motivated to search for real answers, rather than seek a certain politically-advantageous finding, indicate there is no direct connection between the content of violent video games and violent behavior in the real world.

But how can that be?  The media and politicians depict a simple theory:  video games are becoming more graphic and more violent and the news is laced with stories about horrific crimes, often committed by people who are known to play violent video games.  Many Americans are eager to accept that theory as fact and if that is fact, then the solution is to ban violent video games.

Politicians are always looking for something tangible they can do to solve a problem, which becomes part of the reason they present during a re-election campaign.  Introducing legislation designed to right a perceived wrong resonates with voters better than the search for the real, more complex solutions. And the media loves to define everything into a good vs. evil equation for the purpose of quickly attracting the attention of an audience, and to this end - the media is quick to jump on any train that rides the rails of hysteria. 

We should not let politicians and the media get away with brainwashing us – the audience – with self-serving conclusions that are actually a disservice to the public.  The acceptance of inaccurate solutions leaves the masses believing a problem has been solved – when in reality – the source of the problem has not been addressed.

When it was learned that the two teenage Columbine shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold; the Norwegian mass shooter Andres Breivik; and Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes all played violent video games - the link between violence and violent video games seemed indisputable.

As the popularity of violent video games soars, studies have concluded there is no direct connection between video games and actual violence.  Of course, there will always be studies that contradict the general consensus and those rogue studies will always be promoted as “fact” by those pushing an agenda.

Past studies and a more recent study on the effects of violent video games on America’s youth find no conclusive correlation between video games and real-world violence, even among high-risk youth.

A recent study by Drs. Christopher Ferguson and Cheryl Olson concluded violent video games like, “Mortal Kombat,” “Halo” and “Grand Theft Auto” could not be blamed for inspiring violent behavior.  The study found that playing the games could have a calming effect on teens, especially teens dealing with attention deficit or aggressive problems.

In 2011, there was a strong political push to ban the sale of violent video games to younger teens in the state of California.  In the 2011 case of Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled violent video games could not be regulated by the government because that would be an infringement of freedom of speech.

Two of the reasons behind the High Court’s decision were the general lack of evidence through studies that violent video games actually led to violent behavior and the tendency of bias in the publishing of studies.  Any study that would conclude violent video games were responsible for negative behavior would stand a better chance of publication and media publicity than the countless studies that find no direct connection.

It is not unprecedented that research and studies are designed to find evidence that support a predetermined conclusion – rather than the truth.  In 1986, the Meese Commission report on pornography in America was released by President Reagan’s Attorney General Ed Meese.  The report initially found that “Playboy” and “Penthouse” were “pornographic” – a conclusion that was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.  It was widely believed that the Meese Commission’s report on pornography was designed to yield a conclusion that was a payback to the Religious Right for helping get President Reagan re-elected in 1984.

The debate about the role of violent video games in the mass shooting at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard comes at a time when Grand Theft Auto V is being released to the public.  A review at theguardian.com website describes the world in the video game as having the visual power to drag you in and “it begs you to explore” and “GTA V is also a monstrous parody of modern life – our bubbling cesspit of celebrity fixation, political apathy and morose self-obsession.”

Admittedly, advanced technology has led to realistic human figures that are susceptible to maiming and death – but games are just that – games.  Blaming video games for the violent behavior in society is another example of society’s lack of respect for personal accountability.  Rather than a parent accepting the blame for a failure to “parent” – blaming the content of a video game removes parental guilt.

I do believe endless hours of playing violent video games does have a negative impact on behavior – not because of the content of the game, but because of hours lost in a fantasy world.
The continuous playing of video games is certainly the symptom of a problem.  But the video games should not be blamed for causing the problem.

And, in the case of the D.C. shooter, Aaron Alexis – it has also been mentioned by people who knew him that Alexis would also drink excessively.  Why are the politicians and the media not focusing on alcohol abuse as much as they are focusing on video games?  It’s because the condemnation of violent video games reflects America’s predisposition that violent video games are responsible for real-world violence. 

Think – don’t automatically accept what seems to be obvious, yet simple solutions to complicated problems.
 (23) Comments


 
Scoot Blog: Another Shooting, another Round of Gun Control Debate
It only took hours after this morning’s tragic mass shooting at a Navy yard in Washington, D.C. for the debate over gun control to be resurrected – proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Americans are hysterical about guns and gun control!

During his daily press conference today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was pressed by a few reporters on whether President Obama would use the mass shooting to promote stricter gun control laws.  Carney refused to take the bait and appropriately maintained that there were too few facts known about the case to connect the gun control debate with the shooting.

The instinct to raise any aspect of the gun control debate in the immediate aftermath of a tragic mass shooting, like the shooting this morning in D.C., is not only an embarrassment, but it further proves that too many partisan Americas are willing to use a tragic moment to advance their political agenda.  I wish I could say that I am surprised, but I am not.  This is another sad reminder that partisan Americans are more interested in pushing their beliefs about guns or gun control than they are in trying to figure out real solutions.

As I write this blog, there is still a lot that is not known about the shooter, who has been identified as Aaron Alexis, and his motive.  Alexis was a 34-year-old civil military contractor from Ft. Worth, TX, who recently began working at the Navy yard in Washington, D.C.

Though this may be a monumental challenge for those Americans on both sides of the gun control issue who have become hysterical, let’s try to think about this logically.  I did say – try.

For those on the ‘left’ who will be quick to bring up the need for stricter gun control laws in the wake of this morning’s shooting, I would love to know which specific new law would have prevented this tragedy from occurring?  And for those on the ‘right’ – I would love to know how more guns would have prevented a gunman from entering a military facility with the intent of shooting innocent people?  And exactly how would the idea of everyone being armed have stopped it?  If only the answers were that simple.

I also think it is also fair to point out that not everyone who commits mass shootings against innocent people is a ‘mental health’ case walking the streets without mental health proper care.  Let’s face it – some people are just evil and some evil people are motivated by a hate that lives within them.

There is still so much we don’t know about the alleged gunman in today’s mass shooting, but it is too soon to argue that this event demonstrates the need for stronger gun laws.  The very idea that some partisan Americans would even bring up the gun debate at a time like this should convince everyone that the thinking behind such debates is irrational.  And so is any debate that everyone needs to be armed or that since this happened in the nation’s capital every American should go out a buy guns and ammunition before the federal government takes the right away from you.

Neither side of the gun control debate is innocent when it comes to the irrational use of a true tragedy to advance their agenda.  The shooting this morning took place on a secure military area.  If the alleged shooter was a military contractor with access to the Navy yard, then security around the yard was not a problem. Since this mass shooting may have been the action of a civil military contractor, then perhaps the government should develop a better plan for screening contractors?  This has also been talked about following NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who was also a military contract worker.

However, it is unreasonable to believe that stricter screening, stricter gun control, the call for everyone to be armed or better mental health will prevent future tragedies.  Politicians and advocates relish in the thought that the legislation they support will solve a problem because that’s part of the scorecard they keep to attract supporters and funds.  But any logical American should be quick to dismiss the most tangible solutions to mass shootings when the unpredictability of human behavior, including the power of hate, is the real source of the problem.
 
 
 (24) Comments
Tags :  
Topics: Politics
Social:
Locations: Washington, D.c.
People: Aaron AlexisEdward SnowdenJay CarneyObama




 
Scoot Blog: Is Pope Francis ready to change the Catholic Church
Is the Catholic Church ready to change? And will the changes bring Catholics back to the Church?

From the beginning, Pope Francis seemed eager to break some of papal traditions.  As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in Argentina, he had an image of a man who shunned the pious mentality displayed by some of his predecessors and many Catholic leaders and maintained a lifestyle that never took advantage of the lavish comfort offered to the hierarchy in the Catholic Church.

Through scandals and adhering to some traditions that seemed unreasonable in the modern world, the Catholic Church has caused an exodus of previously-devoted followers.  The Church has also had difficulty in recent years attracting young men willing to enter the priesthood.

Pope Francis appears to be a pope with a moderate mentality and a willingness to place more importance on what’s right than what has been tradition.  This week it was learned that Pope Francis accepted the gift of a used car that he planned to use to travel around the grounds of the Vatican, rather than always be chauffeured everywhere.  But that is a minor indication that the new pope is expressing a willingness to update the Church.

The Vatican’s secretary, Archbishop Pietro Parolin – the number 2 most powerful person at the Vatican – said that the celibacy of priests is not a dogma of the church. “Celibacy is not an institution but look, it is also true that you can discuss (it) because as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church,” he said in a quote to NBC.
In a 2012 interview as Cardinal in Argentina, Francis said that priests can be married and “they are very good priests.”  He said, “It’s a matter of discipline, not faith.  It can change.”  But he did say that he was in favor of maintaining celibacy. That was in 2012, now as pope, Francis seems to be sending a new message – the celibacy of priests is open for discussion.

Pope Francis also broke papal tradition by using the word “gay” when he said that priests should not be judged by their sexual orientation.  That was a stark contrast to his predecessor, Pope Benedict, who said that homosexuality, was “an intrinsic moral evil” and that priests with homosexual tendencies should not be priests.  To be clear, Pope Francis does not support priests acting on their homosexual tendencies, but said, “Who am I to judge?” a priest who is a homosexual.

Pope John Paul II absolutely closed the door to the idea that women can become ordained priests, but Pope Francis appears to be interested in seeking a theology of women and a more dominant role for women in Catholic Church.
When Pope John Paul II became a new pope, he was young and many believed that he would strike a more moderate chord in assessing the doctrine of the Church.  That never happened.  Pope John Paul II proved to be a very strict, conservative pope unwilling to bend on any of the major issues that were driving Catholics from mass.

The new dialogue with Catholics that may emanate from Pope Francis should be welcomed by the millions of Catholics who have felt increasingly disenfranchised from the church.  For those who will argue that the church should not change to fit the norms of a changing society – rather society should change to fit the norms of the church, acknowledge that rules often supersede the true mission or spiritual nature of an institution.  The Catholic Church has changed over time from declaring that priests could no longer be married - to changing the ban on eating meat on Fridays.

Rather than view whatever changes that may result as a sign the Church is weak and unwilling to protect strict doctrine, the rules about Catholics who are divorced and re-married provides the perfect way to understand how the church can change for the right reasons as society changes.  

According to the church, if you are Catholic, re-married and having intimate relations with your new wife or husband, then you are not welcome to communion – unless you have had your original married annulled.

If a married took place before the eyes of God and witnesses, the Catholic concept of annulment is exposed as a fund-raising administrative action that should be considered an insult to the God who was part of the ceremony.

Furthermore, why would the church enforce a rule that robs good Catholics of the sacrament of communion when they have made the moral and honorable decision to marry their new spouse?

Also, the vow of celibacy is very hypocritical.  Today, there are Catholic priests who are married.  Married Episcopal priests can convert to Catholicism and be accepted as a married Catholic priest.  So, the Church does accept married priests.

There will be many strict Catholics who disagree with this pope and his openness to discussing issues that have been taboo in the church.  But those were the very people who told the rest of us that whoever is pope has the final say!

The revolution that Pope Francis may start could lead to the strictest Catholics to question the church – but where are they going to go?  It seems certain that any revolution in the Catholic Church will bring more people back to the church than chase people away.

And I know that many Catholics, like myself, are still waiting to hear if Pope Francis believes that Falcons fans are going to Heaven!
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Scoot Blog: The anniversary of 9/11
For decades and for many generations, the date of December 7 would be remembered as the day America was attacked.  On this day in 2001, 12 years ago, the date of September 11 became another famous date marking an attack on America.

My Dad and his generation told stories about where they were when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and now new generations tell their stories about where they were and what they were first feeling, when America was attacked on September 11, 2013.

Americans most recognize anniversaries of the 1st year, 5th year…10 year and 5 year intervals of events.  Today is the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America, so many will not pay as much attention, but it is important for all Americans to annually reflect on this day and pay as much attention, even if it is not a particular milestone date.
Since the collapse of communism and end of the nuclear threat of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, Americans enjoyed a relatively strong sense of security. While there were incidents overseas that drew our military response,

+Americans lived with the security that no nation or group would ever attack America on our soil.  That sense of security was shattered on this day in 2001, when the first plane flew into one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

The concept of America being attack by a foreign force was so incomprehensible that initial descriptions of what happened ranged from speculation that “a twin engine plane – maybe a sightseeing plane – had crashed into the World Trade Center,” to thoughts of the crash being a simple accident.

I was preparing for my morning radio show and just before going on the air I noticed breaking news on a TV monitor in the studio.  I soloed when I was 16 and got a student pilot license and I knew enough about flying and planes to immediately ascertain that what had happened was no accident.  I found myself disagreeing with national news anchors. who first believed a twin-engine plane – perhaps off course – had crashed into the World Trade Center.  It was obvious to me that this smoking gash in the North Tower of the WTC indicated this was a commercial-size jet and it was a clear day in New York – so this was no accident. As I was relating this to the audience, I watched live on the air as the second plane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.  There are times in my career when I have felt an incredible sense of responsibility and that morning, I realized I would be telling the audience that America was under attack.

We all asked ourselves, “How could this happen? Who would do this?”  As we discovered after the fact, there were so many clues that this attack was being planned right in front of us, but our false sense of security allowed terrorists to enter America, train for their mission and execute the mission with Americans watching.  The primary reason it’s so important that we remember this day, whether it’s the 10th or 12th anniversary is because there was a degree of complacency prior to that attack as there was prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  It’s fair to admit complacency – without that being misunderstood as bashing America.

There have been moments in the history of America when we have lost some of our innocence – the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President John Kennedy and the attack on 9/11.  Those moments changed us in some ways forever, but in many ways we still are - and always will be the United States of America!

Let us remember this day as a moment we lost some of our innocence, but this is also a day when we realized the collective resolve that gave birth to this country is still the driving force that makes this the greatest nation on Earth.

God Bless America!
 
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Scoot Blog: A question about Syria no one is asking
The one question that no one seems to be asking is, “why did the Assad Regime order chemical weapons to be used of its own civilians?”  Videos of men, women and 426 children suffering a painful death or the sight of their dead bodies were certain to ignite a response from President Obama and the United States. 

Syria is no military match for the United States and Syrian President Assad would be well aware of our military capabilities – so why would he attack civilians that posed no imminent threat to his power?

Russia and Iran are allies of Syria.  Syria borders Jordan and Israel – two of our allies in the region.  Could there be a strategic reason for Syria inviting the U.S. to launch a military attack?  I realize there is not always logic behind the decisions of evil dictators, but I can’t help but wonder if Syria, and its allies, are setting the U.S. up for military strikes that would become an excuse to broaden the current civil war and further disrupt the region?

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to give President Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response for Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.  And the debate over whether the U.S. should launch a military attack against Syria seems to get more confusing every day.

Republican Senator John McCain, who Saturday said he supported the President’s plan to attack Syria, now says he does not support the resolution passed by the Senate panel because it does not go far enough in terms of the use of our military.

Saturday, President Obama said that he wanted to turn the decision about using military action against Syria over to Congress because Congress represents the voice of the America people.  However, today speaking to reporters in Sweden, the President said that he retains the right to attack Syria, regardless of whether he gets the approval of Congress.

According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll: nearly 60% of Americans oppose military strikes against Syria - fewer than 40% support it.  Democrats and Republicans are even divided on this issue – demonstrating that bipartisanship may not be completely dead in Washington.  Among Democrats:  54% oppose action against Syria and 42% support it.  Among Republicans:  55% oppose the action and 43% are in support.  The opinions of Independents were more lopsided with 65% opposing any military action against Syria with 25% supporting it.

Americans, and the world, are still coping with the overwhelming intelligence that led us into Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction only to be embarrassed that our intelligence was not accurate.  Understandably, Americans are war-weary because of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and still the wounds of Vietnam are part of this nation’s psyche.

With respect for many of the politicians who have expressed their support for President Obama’s plan to punish Syrian President Assad for the use of chemical weapons, I have yet to be convinced that a military attack on Syria is also in the best interest of our national security.  Also, the projected goals of the Administration seem confusing.  The plan is not to remove Assad from office, but some reports seem to indicate that removal from office is a goal.  Any attack to weaken Assad’s forces would benefit the opposition forces that are diverse and have ties to terrorist organizations, like al Qaeda.
I have heard it said that there are no good options.  If that is the case, would no action against Syria be a better option than launching military strikes that could lead to numerous, unpredictable ramifications?

I am still haunted by the possibility that Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people could be a deliberate attempt to engage the United States. And if that is the case – then why?

You and I may not be politicians or military strategists – but by turning the decision about attacking Syria over to Congress – President Obama has symbolically turned the decision over the us – the America people.

So – what do you think we should do?
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Scoot Blog: A question about Syria no one is asking
The one question that no one seems to be asking is ‘why did the Assad Regime order chemical weapons to be used of its own civilians?’  Videos of men, women and 426 children suffering a painful death or the sight of their dead bodies were certain to ignite a response from President Obama and the United States.

Syria is no military match for the United States and Syrian President Assad would be well aware of our military capabilities – so why would he attack civilians that posed no imminent threat to his power?

Russia and Iran are allies of Syria.  Syria borders Jordan and Israel – two of our allies in the region.  Could there be a strategic reason for Syria inviting the U.S. to launch a military attack?  I realize there is not always logic behind the decisions of evil dictators, but I can’t help but wonder if Syria, and its allies, are setting the U.S. up for military strikes that would become an excuse to broaden the current civil war and further disrupt the region?

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to give President Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response for Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.  And the debate over whether the U.S. should launch a military attack against Syria seems to get more confusing every day.

Republican Senator John McCain, who Saturday said he supported the President’s plan to attack Syria, now says he does not support the resolution passed by the Senate panel because it does not go far enough in terms of the use of our military.

Saturday, President Obama said that he wanted to turn the decision about using military action against Syria over to Congress because Congress represents the voice of the America people.  However, today speaking to reporters in Sweden, the President said that he retains the right to attack Syria, regardless of whether he gets the approval of Congress.

According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll: nearly 60% of Americans oppose military strikes against Syria - fewer than 40% support it.  Democrats and Republicans are even divided on this issue – demonstrating that bipartisanship may not be completely dead in Washington.  Among Democrats:  54% oppose action against Syria and 42% support it.  Among Republicans:  55% oppose the action and 43% are in support.  The opinions of Independents were more lopsided with 65% opposing any military action against Syria with 25% supporting it.

Americans, and the world, are still coping with the overwhelming intelligence that led us into Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction only to be embarrassed that our intelligence was not accurate.  Understandably, Americans are war-weary because of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and still the wounds of Vietnam are part of this nation’s psyche.

With respect for many of the politicians who have expressed their support for President Obama’s plan to punish Syrian President Assad for the use of chemical weapons, I have yet to be convinced that a military attack on Syria is also in the best interest of our national security.  Also, the projected goals of the Administration seem confusing.  The plan is not to remove Assad from office, but some reports seem to indicate that removal from office is a goal.  Any attack to weaken Assad’s forces would benefit the opposition forces that are diverse and have ties to terrorist organizations, like al Qaeda.

I have heard it said that there are no good options.  If that is the case, would no action against Syria be a better option than launching military strikes that could lead to numerous, unpredictable ramifications?

I am still haunted by the possibility that Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people could be a deliberate attempt to engage the United States. And if that is the case – then why?

You and I may not be politicians or military strategists – but by turning the decision about attacking Syria over to Congress – President Obama has symbolically turned the decision over the us – the America people.
So – what do you think we should do?
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Scoot Blog: Rick Springfield - Better for different reasons!
Baby Boomer rockers continue to define every era they occupy and right now those rockers are redefining what it means to have another birthday.  When Paul McCartney wrote and sang, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” - that seemed to be an actual concern at the time.

Friday night on stage at the Joy Theater on Canal Street, Rick Springfield is another example of a Baby Boomer rocker shattering the ‘age barrier!’  At 64, Rick still has the look that made girls want him - and guys want to be him when his video for “Jessie’s Girl” was one of the dominant music videos in 1981 – the first year MTV went on the air.  Rick has more than taken care of himself – he is in top shape and even at this stage in his career he can still take his shirt off on stage without the audience wondering ‘what happened to him?’  In fact, Rick and his band must have a group deal on a health club because the entire band is in great shape and defies the effects of the rough life of years in a rock band.

Click HERE to view the video of my interview with Rick Springfield...

I have seen Rick Springfield in big arena shows in the past, but this is the first time I have seen him in a more intimate concert setting.  Friday night’s show was the best Springfield show I have seen.  Not because of the more intimate venue of the Joy Theater, but because I think he’s an even better performer now.

Rick’s energy and powerful stage presence make you feel like he’s playing each of his iconic hits – as well as his new songs – for the first time ever.  The stage lighting effectively fit his image as a rock star that has grown up and the video panels that provided the backdrop behind the stage were used to bring the venue to life.  At one point in the show, Rick took the audience on a trip through his past hits, past videos and past looks.  The audience seemed to enjoy the Rick Springfield they were first introduced to in the early 80’s – but were not disappointed when the focus was back on Rick Springfield today!

Rick played the hits everyone wanted to hear, “Jessie’s Girl,” “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” “I’ve Done Everything For You,” “Human Touch,” Affair of the Heart” and “Love Somebody,” and when he played his fresh material you never had the feeling that he was trying to force it on the audience to promote CD sales.  It all seemed to fit together.  Rick recognized his own maturing process by singing The Beatles “When I’m 64” and then went into “Jet” by Paul McCartney.  Rick Springfield may not be known as an accomplished guitarist, but he is - and proved it throughout the night – especially when he played “Pipeline!”

Friday afternoon before the show, I did an interview with Rick and it was the first time I had met him.  Having interviewed countless rock stars and celebrities over the years, I am always prepared for the cocky, unapproachable star that thinks they are too big to be in contact with mere mortals.  Rick Springfield was a refreshing surprise.  He was warm, personal and fun and similar to his attitude on stage, he seemed to be as excited and willing to do an interview as I image he was when his career first took off.

His autobiography is titled “Late, Late at Night” and that suggests a time in one’s life when they are most alone and maybe most honest with themselves.  In my personal time with Rick, the one thing that stood out to me most was his deep, philosophical nature about his career and himself.

Rick has admitted to dealing with depression since he was a child, but as someone who is part of the same generation and grew up with a severe case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, I had to ask him when did he first come to terms with what he was dealing with – since things like depression and O.C.D. were not understood in the way that such disorders are today.

Rick said it was in the very late 80’s when he first realized he had battled depression his entire life.  “Jessie’s Girl” was a #1 hit in American and Australia in 1981, the year he won a Grammy.  His career instantly exploded.  And yet, because of my own battles with O.C.D., I could so relate to how everything seemed to be so great on the outside to the rest of the world – while being tortured on the inside.  He said that all the fame and everything that goes along with that never took away the deep depression that haunted him from within.

Rick Springfield is a glowing example of how you can deal with those demons that try to control you, but you can move on.  Things like, depression, O.C.D. and other brain disorders are common among those who tend to be creative.  The lesson is learning to embrace what you don’t like about yourself, deal with it and use it as part of the creative process.  Rick admitted that dealing with his depression is part of his writing and performing.

Rick Springfield on stage in 2013 gives you a lot more than a trip through your 80’s past – he gives you permission to get older without getting old.  And the memories combined with the sound and visual of who and where he is today is hopefully a reminder that you haven’t changed that much either!  

And if you have settled over the years and only remember what it was like to be young and dancing to Rick Springfield – he proves we can change without losing that person we have always been!
 
 
 
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Scoot Blog: Are Falcons fans born that way
Passionate feelings lead to intense debates that often remind us how judgmental the world can be.

As the Who Dat Nation anticipates the exciting season-opener against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, we know that our city will be filled with Falcons fans that will be here to support their team and to have a good time in New Orleans.  I know that there will be much judgment of Falcons fans and much concern about the impact their presence will have, especially on kids that will witness their behavior and ask questions their parents are not prepared to answer. 

It’s time we try to better understand and sympathize with Falcons fans.  I know this is a big controversy in our nation, but I think it’s important to address it. Though many believe differently, I believe that Falcons fans were born that way.  I just don’t think anyone would choose to be a Falcons fan if they could live another life.  Now, there is no scientific evidence to support this, but the question is - why would any fan chose to live a life that is so unacceptable to others?

I realize that many judge Falcons fans based on their belief in the Saints and believe that being a Falcons fan is an abomination.   Should you be so quick to judge people you simply don’t understand?  Let us try to look beyond our personal prejudice and judge all Falcons fans as people, too.

There is the growing controversy about whether Falcons fans are entitled to the same rights as Saints fans.  There has been a heated debate over same-Falcons fans marriages.  Should Falcons fans be allowed to marry each other?  Many are concerned that such unions will only lead to children being exposed to the Falcons and are then likely to become Falcons fans themselves.

Another controversy surrounds the bars for Falcons fans.  Some people don’t want to associate with such fans and many are afraid that a Falcons fan may actually hit on them in the bar!  But Falcons fans do not try to push their way of life on others who simple are not Falcons fans.

The growing acceptance of Falcons fans has caused many to believe that these fans free feel to openly show their love and affection for the Falcons in public places.   Parents are worried that this open display of Falcons love will cause their children to ask questions, like: “Daddy, why are those two Falcons fans holding hands?” or “Mommy, why are those two Falcons fan kissing each other?”  That would be an understandable nightmare for any Saints fan parent who is just trying to raise their child in a world where they don’t have to be exposed to such deviant behavior.

Many argue that the acceptance of Falcons fans will lead us down an immoral path.  If, for example, same-Falcons fan marriages are accepted – what is to stop a Falcons fan from one day marrying a Panthers fan or a Buccaneers fan?  Or God forbid a 49ers fan!  There are actual cases of Falcons fans marrying Saints fans. The biggest concern is that these mixed-fan couples is raising children in an environment that totally goes against the traditional values of Saints fan families.

It is time in our Who Dat Nation for us to be more tolerant and understanding of Falcons fans and not be so judgmental of their team-orientation.  They come to our city and spend money and all they want is the right to show love for their team - and each other.

I understand the outrage over their lifestyle, but we should accept them, even if we don’t understand their love for their team - or they way they dress, walk and talk.  In the Bible it says that we should not judge others.  Remember all Falcons fans will ultimately one day be judged by God!

So, this weekend for the Saints – Falcons game, try to be accepting of Falcons fans and realize that life is not easy for them.  Sure, we all don’t understand what they do in the privacy of their lives, but that should not be any of our business and long as they don’t hurt anyone else.  

I hope we can get behind the campaign promoting the greater acceptance of  Falcons fans and realize that if your raise your children with good values, they will not come out one day as a Falcons fan – even if they see them openly displaying their love for the Falcons in public!

Remember – hate the Falcons – but try to love the fan!
 
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Scoot Blog: The N-word on trial
Since the use of the N-word among blacks, particularly among young blacks, has become part of casual conversations and pop culture within black communities, we have all heard the point made, presumably by whites, “If they can use the N-word and it’s not racist – why can’t I use it?” Has a decision by a New York jury finally answered that question?  

A federal jury in New York has ruled that the use of the N-word in the workplace – regardless of the race of who uses it – is hostile and discriminatory.  But does this ruling finally settle what many believe is a double-standard?
Brandi Johnson, a 38-year-old black employee, was awarded $250,000 in damages and compensation last week in a lawsuit against her black employer, Rob Carmona.  Additionally, the jury awarded $30,000 in punitive damages to Ms. Johnson.

After a 4-minute N-word-laced rant by her boss, Rob Carmona, Brandi Johnson said, “I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed.”  The New York jury ruled that the use of the N-word in the workplace is hostile and discriminatory and not a term of endearment, as many blacks argue.

If a jury has decided that a black-on-black use of the N-word in the workplace is wrong, does that establish a precedent for judging the use of the N-word among blacks in general?

As someone who has studied communications over the years, I do not think the jury’s decision in this case reflects on the casual and pop culture use of the N-word in the black community.  While I condemn the use of the N-word by anyone in any situation, I do understand the difference between whites using the N-word, blacks using the N-word to criticize in the workplace and the casual use of the N-word among young blacks.

When a white person refers to a black person by using the N-word, the undisputable implication is degradation.  When a black berates another black using the N-word, the implication is degradation.  Since there were blacks who sold blacks during slavery, it is reasonable to assume that one black could use the N-word to dehumanize another black.

The distinction comes when blacks use the N-word to refer to each other with    non-threatening intent.  I have overheard countless uses of the N-word among young black males in New Orleans and while I don’t like the word, I am not offended and understand that the intent of the word in those situations is endearing and not meant to degrade the status of another human being.

With communications between humans there is intent and reception.  Often we attempt to communicate something with one intent, but the reception of the content of the communication is not what we intended.

The source of the communication is also an essential factor.  In comedy, an overweight person making fun of overweight people can be funny, but if the same material comes from a person who is slim – the content is uncomfortable or degrading.  Blacks can tell jokes and say things about blacks that would not be received the same if expressed by a comedian of another race.  The same can be said of Hispanics, Asians and Indians.  This may be defined by some as a double-standard, but it is just the result of human nature.

And why is there such a crusade to expose this perceived double-standard?  Why do some whites seem to be fighting for acceptance of their use the N-word?  If a white person refers to a black person by using the N-word, how would that not be considered derogatory?

One of the frustrating obstacles that is preventing an honest conversation about race relations in America is the failure to understand another person’s point-of-view.  I don’t need to use the N-word and neither do you.  If you are part of the campaign that seems to be fighting for equal use of the N-word, I have to ask – why?
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Scoot Blog: ''I Have a Dream that..''
Today on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama stood in the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and assessed where America is in terms of race relations 50 years later.  

As we look around our own lives we can see that much progress has been made toward equality.  But when we witness the tendency to judge so many news stories and events along racial lines, we are reminded that we still have a long challenge ahead.

Racial segregation in 2013 is not as physically blatant as it was when blacks were separated with separate schools and water fountains and banned from lunch counters and relegated to the back of public buses, but the progress realized in ending the most obvious aspects of segregation should not make us blind to continuing, yet more subtle, forms of judgment and discrimination in America.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech should be remembered and celebrated as a message about the promise that in America, everyone should be treated equally.  On this day in 1963, the speech focused on the injustices against blacks that contradicted the intent of our Founding Fathers.  Today, the message of the speech should be applied to the injustices that still exist and the new injustices that challenge what it means to be an American.

We can also use this anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech to think about our own dreams for America.  And as we all take inventory of our hearts and minds, we should realize that we are truly in need of people who have dreams for this country.

I have a dream…that in this increasingly divided America we can all come and realize that we are human beings first.  We are humans before we are Americans. We are Americans before we are liberals and conservatives.  Many Americans are willing to identify themselves first, as conservative or liberal before thinking of themselves as Americans – and nowhere is this more obvious than in Washington, D.C.

I have a dream that…all Americans will understand that freedom of speech protects the rights of others to say things you disagree with and that disagreement should be appreciated as one of the unique freedoms of being an American.  As a radio talk show host, I witness a growing disrespect of freedom of speech every day when disagreement so quickly becomes a reason to hate.

I have a dream that…all Americans will return to respecting and teaching the importance of personal accountability.  We have become a nation that continues to show diminished respect for the concept of individuals accepting responsibility for their actions.  Bartenders and wait staff now being held accountable for customers who drink too much and drive home is a perfect microcosm of a society that is willing to blame someone or something else for their mistakes in life.  Another excellent example is the trend of blaming violent video games or entertainment for the negative behavior of young generations.  There was a time in America when blaming a form of entertainment would never have been considered as an excuse for negative actions.

I have a dream that…all Americans will come to understand that life isn’t fair and that you are not entitled to a job, happiness, money or anything tangible.  You are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I have a dream that…all Americans that must of the resistance to change in this country is motivated by fear.  Change is the basis of everything and change is inevitable.  Those who instinctively protest certain changes have reaped the benefits of past changes.

I have a dream that…parents will once again learn to be parents.  You cannot always be your kid’s best friend – but you always must be their parent.  For all of us to live in a civilized society, every parent must teach their children right from wrong and that there are always consequences for negative behavior.  I have a dream that parents who bring children into this world will understand that their child cannot be good at everything and that failures and losses are part of the human existence.  But we learn from our failures and losses how to be better at things we can be better at and we also learn how to discover what we are best at.

I have a dream that…all Americans will stop blaming the government for everything that is wrong in their lives, when most of their problems result from actions and events that are beyond the control of the government.

I have a dream that…all Americans will understand that the government cannot take away your faith or your religious beliefs and we should be afraid of those who promote the idea of the government being involved in making moral decisions about the private lives of individuals.  Any alleged ‘war on Christianity’ will cause no collateral damage in the faith and beliefs of your world.

As a society, we are easily herded into groups that celebrate our differences and by watching, hearing or reading the news on a daily basis, we can be led to believe that our power to manifest positive change is hopeless.  We look to the President and other elected officials to change America for the better, when the real power to change lies within each individual American.

What we do in our everyday lives, how we react to others, how we treat others and the dreams and morality we pass on to our children are the things that define America.

Our nation is nothing more than a collection of individuals and we cannot expect our nation to be better than the individuals that make up America.  So, rather than look to those we think have power, let us look at ourselves, as individuals, and realize that we have the power to change America!
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