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Scoot's Blog

Tune in to "The Scoot Show" for lively, candid discussions about news, politics and culture with WWL's "Radical Moderate!"

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Posts from February 2014

Scoot: Catholic League says marriage "not about love"
During an interview with CNN following the veto of the bill that became known as the “religious freedom” bill, Catholic League President Bill Donahue said that “Marriage is about family, it’s not about love.”  Donahue also said, “Marriage has always been based historically on duty and commitment.”  But what about love?

Regardless of your religion, haven’t you always been under the impression that marriage was about love?  Why did you or will you get married?  There is a legal bond to marriage, but isn’t it love that first leads us to that legal bond?

I am shocked that the President of the Catholic League would dismiss the importance of love in marriage at a time when the Catholic Church is fighting against the legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
Love is an intangible feeling that is difficult to define because it is different for each individual.  Love could simply be defined as an attraction between two individuals that is based on an emotional and physical bond. 

The Catholic Church argues that same-sex marriage is wrong in the eyes of God because the emotional and physical relationship between two people of the same sex is unnatural.  But if marriage is based solely on “duty” and “commitment” and is a legal structure for maintaining a family without love as a factor – then where is the argument that same-sex marriage is wrong because of the physical bond of two people of the same sex?

For a top spokesman of the Catholic Church to denounce love as the primary reason people come together for the sacramental blessing of God in the marriage ceremony seems reckless and contrary to what the Church promotes about marriage.

Furthermore, if marriage is about the business of family, then why would couples who do not plan to have children or who are not biologically blessed with the ability to have children even get married? 
And would the Catholic Church then approve of the love that brings two people together and the physical relationship that follows without the bond of marriage?

Catholic League President Bill Donahue has presented extreme, hard-core beliefs on behalf of the Church throughout his term as president, but this idea that love has nothing to do with marriage now ranks as one of the most outrageous statements he has presented.

Do you agree that marriage is not about love, but is about “duty” and “commitment?” And should other church official denounce the statement from the President of the Catholic League?
The disagreement that many will have over this new definition of marriage further demonstrates that you can be a Catholic and enjoy going to church without agreeing with all of the beliefs of those representing the Catholic Church.

Being a Catholic, a Christian or a member of any religion does not require that you believe everything those representing your religion espouse and those who have been quick to criticize many of us who have expressed disagreements over issues, should think about how they might disagree with Bill Donahue’s statement that “Marriage is about family, it’s not about love.”
If you believe that marriage is about love – then you disagree with Donahue, who represents the Catholic Church.  Can you now recognize that sometimes mortal men make mistakes in representing your religion?
 (8) Comments
Tags :  
Topics: Religion_Belief
People: Bill Donahue

Scoot: Is the GOP finally divorcing the extreme right?
It has been a strained relationship, but now it appears that it is not going to work out.  They deserve credit because they didn’t give up right away and they tried to make it work.  Many even counseled them in hopes that they would stay together, but it now seems obvious - the Republican Party has begun divorce proceedings with the extreme right.  And this may be a mutual divorce!

An early sign that there was trouble in the relationship came immediately after the presidential election in 2012.  There were Republican candidates who campaigned on strict right-wing ideology and they helped defined the party on the national political landscape as a party that was intolerant and that led to the alienation of many voters.

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, was a moderate governor in the Northeast, but was perceived as a conservative Republican during the campaign.  If the election were held today and if Romney was allowed to play from the center – he would be president.

The partial government shut-down over Tea Party-inspired attempts to defund Obamacare further advanced the image that the Republican Party was on a mission to promote its conservative agenda over doing what was in the best interest of the American people.  The stunt by Republicans failed and national polls consistently showed that Americans blamed Republicans over Democrats and the President for the partial shut-down.

Top Republican leaders have been publically, and privately, saying that the party needs a major image change.

Conservative rocker Ted Nugent’s recent rant against President Obama may actually prove to be a blessing for the Republican Party. Some GOP candidates have aligned themselves with Ted Nugent to solidify support from the extreme -right base of the party.  Nugent had been campaigning for Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott and when Nugent called President Obama “subhuman mongrel” and the comment was projected onto the campaign of a republican candidate.

In the aftermath, Abbott refused to answer questions about his political relationship with Ted Nugent, but it seemed obvious that Abbott was embarrassed by Nugent’s comment.

I have a difficult time sympathizing with Abbott because Ted Nugent is known for making brazen, derogatory comments about the President and others – so if you align your campaign with Nugent and what he stands for – why would  you be surprised by something he says that is ugly and ignorant?  It’s like the mothers that take their young daughters to a Miley Cyrus concert and then complain about her sexual antics on stage!  It’s a Miley Cyrus concert – what were you expecting?

During an interview at the NRA conference during the 2012 campaign, Ted Nugent said, “if  Barack Obama becomes the president again in November, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”  One year later, in November of 2013 – Ted Nugent was still alive and free.

Nugent was trying to subtly suggest that if Obama was re-elected he would try to assassinate the President and would either be shot and killed by the Secret Service or in jail for the attempt on the President’s life.  If he is such a tough guy with strong convictions – why didn’t he do it?

But it is Nugent’s most recent rant against President Obama that is proving to be the flashpoint in time when sensible Republicans are finally ready to begin divorce proceedings with the extreme right-wing of the party.

Nugent called the President a “subhuman mongrel” – which is what the Nazis called the Jews to justify genocide.  Criticism of Nugent’s comment has even come from top Republicans.

•    Senator Rand Paul: “Ted Nugent’s derogatory description of president Obama is offensive and has no place in politics. He should apologize.”
•    Senator John McCain: “It’s a free country but that kind of language really doesn’t have any place in our political dialogue. It harms the Republican party.”
•    Senator Ted Cruz: “Look, those sentiments there, of course I don’t agree with them. You’ve never heard me say such a thing, nor would I. I don’t hang out with Ted Nugent.”
•    Texas Governor Rick Perry: Nugent “shouldn’t have said that about the President of the United States.”
•    CNN host and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: “What Ted Nugent said was stupid. I don’t support it.”

Ted Nugent has now apologized for the derogatory comments about President Obama and has even said that he will no longer call people ugly names.  A kinder and gentler Ted Nugent? Or a kinder and gentler GOP?

The legislation passed in Arizona that would allow businesses to refuse service to homosexuals is now attracting widespread criticism – even from Republicans. Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer – arguably a conservative Republican – must now decide whether to sign the bill into law or veto it. 

The denouncement of this legislation is another perfect opportunity for the Republican Party to change its image and to show the American people that they will no longer be defined by the far-right.  I expect Governor Brewer to veto the bill.

With the 2014 midterm elections approaching and with talk already heating up about who will be the presidential candidates in 2016, the Republican Party should use these opportunities to divorce the right-wing extremists.

The problem is that both parties cater to the extreme members of their base in order to secure the nomination and then, in theory, campaign from a more moderate position.  Especially for the Republican Party, any catering to the extreme right tarnishes the image of the party on a national stage.

Republicans have lost 5 out of the last 6 popular votes in presidential elections. That is a sign that the Republican Party has a serious image problem.

The mean-spirited comment by Ted Nugent and the passing of legislation that essentially uses religious freedom to protect discrimination give the Republican Party a chance to show that are divorcing the extreme right. 

Once divorced, the Republican Party will be free to court anyone!
 (7) Comments

Scoot: The government is not invited to eat with me!
The goal may be to help make America healthier, but government involvement in what we eat and drink is more dangerous than you might think.

The recent controversy over a New York City ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces seemed to expose any government efforts to reduce America’s costly obesity rate as further advancing the idea of a “nanny state.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines “nanny state” as the government regarded as overprotected or as interfering with personal choice.

Contributing to the “nanny state” mentality, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires all restaurants with 20 locations or more to list nutritional information next to every item on the menu. In the case of the national pizza chains, the choices of crusts, cheeses and toppings bring the number of possible items to over 30 million! These national pizza restaurants are mostly owned by individuals and the cost of constantly changing the menus to reflect the latest possible combinations would be costly. That’s a cost that could be passed on to the consumer.

Furthermore, where would a menu with over 30 million combinations be located at each location? And since the overwhelming majority of orders are placed by phone, placement of a menu is not even possible.

The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2013 received bipartisan support in Congress and according to a recent study, about 80% of restaurant customers noticed the calorie count on menus and 26% said they made decisions about what to order based on the nutritional information provided on the menu.

Government bans on food and drink consumption sends the message that if something isn’t banned then it must be ok for consumption and consumers gain the sense that it is up to the government to guide their personal decisions.

The requirement to list nutritional ingredients on all restaurant menus does not guarantee that consumers will change their ordering patterns, but does give politicians the sense that they have done something to correct a problem.

The proposed ban of the sale of sugary drinks over 16 ounces is ridiculous because anyone can buy two 16 ounce drinks – thus purchasing 32 ounces of a sugary drink.  The attempt to control consumption amounts to nothing more than a “feel-good” law – a law that gives the impression that politicians have actively done something about a problem - while not actually doing anything to solve a problem.

The hidden danger in a government that is involved in the personal decisions about what to eat or drink lies in the feeling that the government is taking care of us and that further diminishes the emphasis that should be placed on individual accountability.

When I go out to eat - I am not inviting the government to go with me. The government should not be so involved in our personal decisions and if we make poor decisions about what we eat or drink the responsibility lies strictly with the individual – not with the government!

The loss of respect for personal accountability has had a devastating impact on America and is the source of many of our problems with obesity, health in general and even crime.

We need to stop looking to the government to guide us in our decision-making and adhere to the idea that we are all responsible for our behavior.

And we should recognize that politicians are quick to pass legislation that only gives the appearance of solving a problem – when the solution lies with each individual American.
 (4) Comments

Scoot: Should religious beliefs protect discrimination?
The debate over gay rights and same-sex marriage has led to a debate over whether businesses can refuse service to gays and lesbians. 

Does a business have the right to refuse to serve gays and lesbians?  Last year, the story of a bakery in Colorado that refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple attracted national attention and sparked the debate. 

The owners of the bakery are devout Christians, and would not make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because of their religious beliefs. Reaction was instant and divided.  There were those who said the bakery’s refusal to make the cake was blatant discrimination. Others argued that in America, the religious beliefs of a business owner should be respected and refusing service to anyone is a protected right.

Interestingly, both sides of this argument use freedom in America to support their side. One side says, “This is America where there should be no discrimination.” The other side says, “This is America where a business should have the right to exercise its religious believes when conducting business.” Which side is right?

The debate over gay rights and same-sex marriage has evolved into a debate about discrimination against gays and lesbians in America. As the group who say they are opposed to same-sex marriage and homosexuality for religious reasons continues to lose their battle, the instinctive reaction is to start more battles with more defining battle lines and increase the volume of the debate.

In society (as in war) when defeat seems imminent, troops become desperate and before admitting defeat - the fighting escalates. And that’s what we are witnessing now. Recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the growing number of states that have legalized same-sex marriage are significant victories in the war over total equality for gays.

As I have said countless times of “The Scoot Show” on WWL, the debate over gay rights and same-sex marriage is not a personal debate for me -- but it is important to me because it is part of a much bigger debate in America about individual freedom.

Perhaps the most significant factor in the battle over gay equality is the judgment that is based on moral beliefs. That judgment represents an attempt to dictate personal behavior, which has had a negative impact on the image of the Republican Party. As long as conservatives allow the pushing of morality to be part of political agendas, Republicans will struggle to win national elections.

Standing up for morality is important, but not when it becomes part of a hypocritical crusade. To condemn homosexuality and even same-sex marriage on moral grounds and to support legislation banning equality for gays and lesbians is promoting the idea that the U.S. government becomes involved in making laws that inflict specific religious beliefs on society.

In theory, the idea of the government passing and supporting laws that regulate personal behavior, even if many consider that behavior to be sinful, is a frightening thought. And yet, in the name of religion and “what the Bible says,” there is much support among conservatives for government enforcement of morality.

It is not fair to only judge as sins those sins that are not our sins! I recognize that many American Christians and others have interpreted the Bible as condemning homosexuality, and that is an interpretation. The Bible also defines many other sins that never attract the same attention as what some believe is the sin of homosexuality.

If the attempts to pass legislation in conservative legislatures across the country to ban same-sex marriage or to allow discrimination against homosexuals continue – and I expect those attempts to continue – it is important to address a few important issues.

How will a business determine if a customer is a homosexual as the decision is made as to whether to serve the customer? Will it be based on appearance – clothing, hairstyle, demeanor? Will there be a questionnaire each customer must fill out before being served by the business?

Determining sexual-orientation based on outward appearance would mean the business promoting the refusal of service to gays for religious reasons would inevitably serve many homosexual men and women that show no outward signs of being gay.

Homosexuality should be defined by the intrinsic attraction to the same sex and not an outward appearance. If refusing to serve gays because of religious beliefs would allow many gays who don’t “look” gay to be served – then how is that a reasonable way to promote one’s religious beliefs that denounce homosexuality?

What would prevent two guys or two girls who are heterosexual from going into a business and presenting themselves as the gay stereotype many Americans have of homosexuals and then when denied service because of their perceived sexual-orientation – threaten to expose the business’ blatant act of hypocrisy? And would legal action be an option since service was denied to heterosexuals?

And what about all the other sinners the business is willing to serve? Are the businesses that are willing to refuse to serve gays also willing to refuse to serve customers who engage in out-of-wedlock sex? Or customers who view pornography? Or have impure thoughts of others or customers who have committed adultery or any of the other sins that are more commonly accepted as simply the result of being human?

If you have a tendency to judge the sins that are not your sins – you are hypocritically using your religious beliefs to unfairly judge other human beings. And I’m sure that does not make God very happy!

Listen to the rage of the battle cries getting louder and more battle lines being drawn as the troops fighting against total gay equality continue to see their side losing the battle. Refusing to serve customers based on religious beliefs is a new, convenient way to discriminate against gays. 

Remember – this is America – so act like an American!

 (3) Comments

Scoot: Miley Cyrus concerts too sexual?
There are reports that many parents are complaining about Miley Cryus’ sexual antics and the flesh-revealing costumes on her new concert tour, and some are even calling for show to be cancelled!

On her Bangerz Tour, Miley Cyrus simulates sex with a man wearing a Bill Clinton mask, gropes the backside of a dancer and moves provocatively in skimpy outfits – including one leotard with the design of a marijuana leaf. Souvenirs include $40 gold-embellished rolling papers for pot smokers.

Let me try to understand this – parents are bringing their kids to a Miley Cyrus concert and they are complaining about sexual content? It’s a Miley Cyrus concert!

Maybe it’s the media, especially social media, that have given people the feeling that they can complain about anything and start a controversy that leads to change. If parents were taking their kids to a kid-friendly show and the characters began simulating sex acts or acknowledging drugs during the show, I can understand complaints about that. But we’re talking about outrage over a Miley Cyrus concert being too sexual!

There is always the possibility that Miley Cyrus’ management has created this controversy to sell tickets to upcoming shows. The website TheFIX reports, “Her team, including management, record label execs and the entire tour staff including the director, costume department and choreographers – have been called for an emergency meeting as arenas across the U.S. threaten to pull out of the show.”

However, executives of the promoter, Live Nation, issued a statement saying, “There is no truth whatsoever to any stories or rumors of venues pulling out of the Bangerz Tour.” Forbes magazine reported that the frenzy over Miley Cyrus reached a peak the week of August 25, following her attention-getting performance at the MTV Video Music Awards and that the demand for tickets to her concerts has leveled off.

What better way to inspire ticket sales than to create rumors that a concert is so sexual and adult-oriented that parents are complaining and venues are threatening to cancel shows.

Controversy sells, and it is the audiences that feed the controversies that lead to an increase in ticket sales.

Considering the complaint-happy world we live in, it is reasonable to believe that some parents have complained about the sexual innuendos in Miley Cyrus’ new concert tour, but what was it about going to a Miley Cyrus concert that led parents to expect anything less?

Complaining about the sexual nature of a concert, even if it is expected, gives parents an excuse to blame Miley Cyrus and the producers for exposing their kids to something they consider inappropriate – but the decision to go to the concert in the first place was made by the parents. Blaming something or someone else for the poor decisions made by individuals is part of a well-established trend in America.

It’s ridiculous to complain about something that lives up to its image. Miley Cyrus has established the image of being a wild, young female performer with sexual overtones in her shows – there is nothing secret about that!

As long as no one is forced to take their kids to a Miley Cyrus concert against their will, every parent should accept the responsibility of the decisions they make and not blame performers and producers for successfully making an established image come to life on stage.

In responding to the complaints about her new shows, Miley Cyrus explained it perfectly – she tweeted: “You can’t say I didn’t warn you. Now sit back & enjoy the show.  Save your complaints for the [fast food restaurant] drive thru when they forget the ‘fries with that.’”
 (6) Comments

Scoot: Is Obama hoping to control the media?
This is scary! The FCC, an agency of the government, proposed a plan to place officers in radio and TV newsrooms to investigate “the process by which stories are selected” and “perceived station bias.”

The proposal, proposed last May, is scheduled to be implemented this spring in Columbia, SC before spreading to other newsrooms across the country.  The plan is titled, “The Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” and includes interviewing station managers, news directors, journalists, anchors and on-air reporters about their “news philosophy.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was created to regulate the licensing and the transmission of broadcasts - but not the content of the media. Even in the area of indecency, the FCC has little control over what is broadcast due to the longstanding, hands-off relationship between the government and the media.

Many Americans fear the power of a liberal media and many others fear the power of a right-wing media. Since the FCC does have authority over the licensing of radio and TV broadcasters, there have been concerns that the government could stall or even reject the renewal of the broadcast licenses of stations for political reasons disguised as a function of the bureaucratic system.

In the 1970s during the Watergate scandal when President Richard Nixon was the target of a scandal that would lead to his resignation, the FCC challenged the licenses of two television stations owned by the Washington Post – the newspaper that initiated the Watergate scandal.

Is the FCC under President Obama positioning itself to threaten radio and TV stations that are critical of the Administration? That possibility or even the impression of government intimidation of radio and TV stations is a sobering thought for a nation that prides itself on freedom of speech.

I constantly hear some listeners bring up their deep concern for the influence of a liberal media. Over more recent years, the concern that a liberal media was influencing the opinions of American voters gave birth to conservative radio talk shows and the FOX News Channel, and the growing voices of the right have led to concern that right-wing radio and FOX News are poisoning the minds of Americans and spreading hate.

It is no secret that President Obama has expressed his understanding that many conservative talk show hosts and the FOX News Channel are his media adversaries. The proposed plan by the FCC, under President Obama, to determine how news stories are selected and any station bias in reporting or presenting stories or topics should send a chill up the spine of every American.

In 1949, lawmakers in Washington were concerned that the media could use its broadcast licenses to promote a specific political agenda to the American public. The Fairness Doctrine was passed and became part of the broadcasting landscape. The Fairness Doctrine mandated that the broadcast networks provide the opportunity to present view points on both sides of key issues. In the 1970s, the FCC called the Fairness Doctrine the “single most important requirement of operations in the public interest” for the granting of broadcast licenses.

Conservative talk radio first began to gain popularity during the Reagan Presidency. In 1987 with Reagan in the White House, the FCC voted 4-0 to repeal the Fairness Doctrine and the flood gates were opened for the freedom to push specific agendas on the air without the fear of repercussions.

Radio and TV stations, as well as individual hosts, are free to be politically one-sided and while Americans on both sides object to the strict promotion of the political views they disagree with – freedom to be conservative or liberal on the air is protected by the First Amendment – as it should be.

I hear from listeners who condemn MSNBC for bashing conservatives and I hear listeners condemn the Limbaughs of radio and FOX News for constantly bashing President Obama. Both sides have a right to complain – but both sides have a right to their agendas.

As I have mentioned on The Scoot Show on WWL, the fear of the media actually controlling the minds of Americans is more of a perceived fear than a reality. Concern for a liberal media swaying the American public was prominent when Ronald Reagan was elected twice, when George H.W. Bush was elected and when George W. Bush was elected twice.

The concern that right-wing conservatives on the air were directing the collective opinions of Americans was present when Bill Clinton and Barak Obama were both elected twice. In an atmosphere of polarized media – both parties have successfully elected presidents. 

Contrary to what many Americans have been taught, the media more reflects the views of its audience than dictating political ideology. FOX News and MSNBC both exist, for the most part, in an echo chamber – they speak to their audiences that have selected their bias presentation of the news and topics because they reflect what they believe. Unfortunately, Americans are not always seeking to learn objectivity or even the truth – Americans tend to migrate toward the media outlets or the personalities that share their opinions rather than open their minds.

Fear of a liberal media created the need for conservative talk radio which led to the FOX News Channel and the popularity of FOX News led to the creation of MSNBC. That’s a classic example of how the free enterprise system works.

America is changing. The dominant right and dominant left-leaning media will lose favor with a mass audience as the majority of Americans – not strictly right or left – become more vocal. FOX News and MSNBC will adjust to a changing America or face a loss of audience. Trends in the media are cyclical and the saturation of hard-core, one-sided rhetoric will give way to the majority in this country.

President Obama has said that he does not believe the FCC should control content, but the plan to insert FCC officers in radio and TV newsrooms across the country does not appear to support the President’s words.

The idea of the government – under a Democrat or a Republican president – influencing the content of the media – is much more threatening than those opinions on the right or the left that you so vehemently disagree with!

 (8) Comments

Scoot: Spanking leaves a mark on the next generation
The criminal and even disrespectful behavior of young people today is commonly blamed on laws that prohibit parents from spanking their children. Contrary to what Americans have been led to believe – it is not illegal to spank your children. It is, however, illegal to beat your children, and I would hope that every parent understands the difference.

A state representative in Kansas is proposing a bill that would allow parents, caretakers and even teachers to spank children hard enough to leave marks. Representative Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, has introduced legislation that would allow parents to strike their children up to 10 times with the hand – even if the strikes leave redness or bruising. The bill would prohibit hitting a child with a fist or on the head or body or with a belt or switch.

I hear the chorus of voices now saying that finally “we can spank our children!” As a talk show host, I regularly hear listeners say that the problem with the country today is that we can no longer spank our kids – but spanking is legal.

The removal of corporal punishment from many schools across the country and the power that children now think they have over authority when it comes to discipline have created a general hysteria about disciplining children.

While it is legal to spank your children, there are other forms of discipline that are arguably more effective. The point is to establish a direct connection between negative behavior and punishment. A spanking is perhaps the quickest and easiest form of discipline that requires the least amount of effort on the part of the parent.

I am not suggesting that spanking at an early age cannot be an effective deterrent for negative behavior and a way to teach a child to respect authority, but especially as children get older, I don’t think it is the best form of discipline.

The important thing to realize is that it is every parent’s right and responsibility to teach their children consequences for negative behavior and respect for authority. There should be no question that younger generations have grown up with parents who did not take the time to discipline their children, and these parents release into society teens that have no fear of consequences nor basic respect for authority. At that point, it is the responsibility of law enforcement and the courts to administer discipline, and we know that doesn’t always work.

Reaction to a bill which allows parent to spank their children to the point of leaving redness or bruises will range from celebration to outrage, but it should also serve as a reminder that the lack of discipline in our society has greatly contributed to the crime problem.

One of the problems we have in America is an all-or-nothing mentality. In the interest of protecting children from abusive parents, efforts have been made to equate spanking with abuse. Sadly, some parents have found themselves in trouble with Child Protection Services for spanking their children, while others have secretly abused their children for years and never faced punishment.

As long as you are not beating your children, how you administer discipline is up the each parent and should be based on an understanding of their child. When my son was young, time-out was very effective and seemed to be a better way to teach consequences for negative behavior.

Time-out sets up the “if” and “then” choice – “if” you do that again – “then” you sit in time-out. But unlike a quick spanking, time-out requires much more effort from the parent and far too many parents do not want to make an effort.  The parent must establish time-out and be willing to follow through every time it is presented as a consequence.

Since I am not an expert in child psychology, I do not want to suggest the specifics of time-out, which can vary, but it does work. There will always be those who have the mentality that “if my kid does something – I’m going to spank him.” That is an option, but it also may not instill as much respect for authority and the spoken word as time-out.  What you do to discipline your children is not as important as making sure you do something.

There is a general impression that the parents who have children when they are very young and make government assistance a career are the parents who are failing to discipline their children. There are many parents who are not prepared to be parents and never work toward taking child-rearing seriously because they are too focused on themselves.  But there are also negligent parents at the other end of the socio-economic spectrum.

The recent case of a 16-year-old Texas teenager who killed four people while driving drunk has led to outrage after the judge in the case sentenced the teen to probation and no jail time.

The teenager is from an extremely wealthy family and the defense attorney argued in court that the teen was never given strict guidelines from his parents growing up and therefore he didn’t understand consequences for negative behavior and should not be held accountable for killing four people while driving drunk. The defense attorney painted the teenager as a victim who suffered from “afflueza” – a condition from being raised by extremely wealthy parents!

Never acknowledged enough is the parental neglect that occurs in affluent neighborhoods. Because of the financial resources available to the more affluent, their children may escape harsher punishment given to other teenagers.

If we are to expect our society to be civilized, then it is the responsibility of parents to teach consequences for negative behavior and respect for authority. I guess that’s the classic “if” and “then” choice!

“If” you are not prepared to take the time to properly discipline your children – “then” do America a favor - DON’T have kids!
 (0) Comments
Tags :  
Locations: KansasTexas
People: Gail Finney

Scoot: Do we need a gun to make groceries?
The case of Michael Dunn shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis following an argument over loud music and the story of a retired police officer in his seventies shooting and killing a man at a movie theater following an argument over texting have increased our awareness that some people seem eager to use a gun to settle disputes.

In both of these cases, the shooters claimed they shot their victims in self-defense, but both deaths resulted from what began as simple disagreements over behavior, and not a threat to life.

Sunday at Jackson Square in the French Quarter, 41-year-old Eric Wilson from Hiram, GA pulled out a gun and fired five shots into an artist’s paintings. The artist, Alan Minor, said the man had been sitting with him for about an hour before getting up – taking out a gun – and firing at his artwork. After firing the five shots, Wilson casually walked down Decatur St. He was followed by a man on a bike who alerted police and Wilson was arrested and charged with five counts of aggravated criminal damages, illegal discharge of a firearm and illegally carrying a gun.

Police in a suburb of Phoenix say that Monday 36-year-old Kriston Chee was shot and killed by 25-year-old Kyle Quadlin after the two men got into a fight at the service counter at a Walmart. Quadlin told police that when he felt he was losing the fight – he pulled out a gun and shot Chee.

What the hell is going on?

Every one of these cases took place in a public setting with numerous bystanders who could have been injured or killed. The argument can be made that in each of these situations, with the exception of the man who shot the paintings, the shooters claimed their lives were threatened and they shot in self-defense. But the much stronger argument is that the shootings followed altercations that were not initially life-threatening and should have been avoided.

It is obvious that the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible individuals who understand the intent of the Second Amendment and respect that a gun should be used as a last resort – not used to vent anger or to get out of a threatening situation that was initiated by the shooters.

The fact that guns are often used to protect lives should not discourage the harsh condemnation of the trigger-happy, gun-toting Americans that use the right to own a gun as an excuse to exert their macho mentality to establish their self- proclaimed superiority in society.  I purposely use the word macho because these types of shootings seem to involve men – not women.

If the NRA speaks out against those who use tragedies to promote stricter gun control – then the NRA should also be vocal about those gun owners that do damage to the fight to protect gun owners in America. And yet – there is silence, because I assume the NRA is unwilling to publically condemn anyone who legally posses a gun. If I have missed a statement from the NRA on issues like this – please email the information so I can give them credit (Scoot@WWL.com).

It is a miracle that innocent bystanders have not been injured or killed in these most recent shootings in public settings. Michael Dunn fired 10 times and fortunately only hit one teenager. At the service counter inside a Walmart – which can often be crowded – Kyle Quadlin pulled out a gun while fighting with another man and fired his weapon - others could have been hit. The shooter at Jackson Square could easily have hit people walking around the Square on a warm and beautiful Sunday afternoon. I assume that the retired police officer who shot a movie-goer following an argument about texting in the movie theater had training, but innocent people at the theater could have been injured or killed.

In the context of the American population, these types of shootings represent only a miniscule portion of the population, but there seems to be more cases where people are using guns to back up their tendency to confront others over minor incidents.

I am always willing to blame the media for blowing minor incidents out of proportion when warranted, but these cases speak for themselves and seem to reflect a real and growing frustration in society – a frustration that is at least partly fueled by hate.

Lack of respect for opposing opinions, media hate-baiters and an increasing expectation for instant gratification have all contributed to heightened state of frustration in America. It is almost as if those who express their rage by using a gun feel as if they will be looked upon as heroes by like-minded Americans.

Somewhere in the deep subconscious of the trigger-happy, gun-toting Americans there must exist a feeling of responsibility to stand up for all Americans who are frustrated with the system or whatever type of people they dislike or fear.  But allowing an argument over loud music, texting in a movie theater or a disagreement at the service counter at a suburban Walmart to escalate into a killing is frightening proof that some Americans are not stable enough to navigate their way through what is supposed to be a civilized society.

Frustration is part of the human experience. We all get frustrated.  We get frustrated with others in our crowded and hectic world – and sometimes we just get frustrated with ourselves alone at home or in our workplace.  Imagine if every American who became frustrated with themselves pulled out a gun – who would they have to shoot?

The answer is not stricter gun control laws or more guns – the answer is recognizing that the hate and judgment of others have become an integral part of everyday life in America and seem to have replaced a sense of respect and tolerance.

I hope we are reaching a tipping point when those who have engaged in expressing hate and discontent on all levels will be seen by a growing number of Americans as the source of the problem and not the innocent defenders of what they believe to be the American way of life.

In January, ultra right-wing radio and TV host Glenn Beck lamented in an interview with Megyn Kelly about his TV show on the FOX News Channel saying, “I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.” Beck told a Politico reporter, “I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language.”

Even before Glenn Beck expressed those regrets, I sensed a cyclical change coming that will slowly make the far right and the far left media seem as if they are not reflecting the views of the majority of America and a shift toward more civility and common sense will gain momentum in the media.  This will not happen because the media wants to make it happen – it is going to happen because that is the growing mood in America – which the media will reflect in order to remain relevant.

Watch for the changes – they have already started.  And this is a good thing!
 (14) Comments

Scoot: "Loud music" trial verdict proves Justice not blind
A black man pulled into a convenience store at a gas station. In the SUV next to him 4 white teenagers were blaring music the black man didn’t like. After the black man told the white teenagers to turn down the music there was an argument, and then the black man pulled a gun out of the glove compartment of his vehicle and shot and killed a 17-year-old white teen. 

The black man proceeded to fire rounds into the SUV with the white teenagers as it pulled away. The black man had been drinking, and after shooting a 17-year-old white teenager, he left the scene. He went to his hotel with his fiancée – ordered pizza and made a drink – never calling 911 to report the incident. The black man was on trial for 1st-degree murder but the jury could not come to an agreement on that charge. However, the black man now faces up to 60 years in prison on attempted murder charges.

Why would a black man be allowed to get away with murdering a 17-year-old white teenager over loud music? Why was the black man only convicted of attempted murder. Is this justice?

If the real-life story of 47-year-old Michael Dunn and 17-year-old Jordan Davis was about a black man killing a white teenager over loud music, the outrage and the outcome of the trial would probably be quite different.

The guilty verdict on three counts of 2nd degree murder and firing at a vehicle and a mistrial on the 1st degree murder charge were stunning – more stunning than the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman. The good news is that Michael Dunn faces 60 years in prison because he is a reckless gun owner who seemed to use a gun to avenge his anger at being disrespected by a group of black teenagers. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to own a gun for protection – NOT for avenging anger or protecting pride.

Michael Dunn is a poster boy for irresponsible gun ownership and the guilty verdicts on attempted murder, which should send him to prison for arguably the rest of his life, should be celebrated. But the failure of the jury to find Dunn guilty of murder based on evidence that seemed to paint a clear picture of a white man who allowed prejudice while under the influence of alcohol to drive him to kill a teenager and that casts a dark shadow on the mentality of some who sit on juries.

Admittedly, I judge the conclusions of the jury in the Michael Dunn trial from my perspective in the court of public opinion and I accept the verdicts as part of the workings of our system of justice – but I don’t have to agree with them. I accepted, but disagreed with, the verdicts in the George Zimmerman trial, the Casey Anthony trial and the trial of the four Los Angeles police officers for the beating of Rodney King. I am pleased with the decision by State Attorney Angela Corey to retry Dunn for 1st degree murder.

Though it shouldn’t matter – the jury was made up of four white men, four white women, two black men, one Asian female and one Hispanic man. The jury could not reach agreement on the murder charge even though a teenager was murdered.

According to a report on USAToday.com, “Dunn showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. But afterwards, he turned to his lawyer, Cory Strolla, and asked, ‘How is this happening?’” Strolla said his client and his family are devastated by the verdicts.  I’m sure the family of Jordan Davis is devastated as well.

As I talked about this trial on WWL, I received a few texts and calls from people who supported Michael Dunn’s actions as appropriate recourse for black teenagers playing loud music and showing disrespect.  I received an email from a listener that rambled on about black men who want to beat up “crackers” should make sure the “crackers” don’t have guns. Then the email mentioned Darwin’s Theory of survival of the fittest.

Michael Dunn claimed self-defense and testified that his life was threatened. He even testified that the black teenager had a shotgun. No shotgun or firearm of any kind was found.

There is one very important aspect of this case that all of those who sympathize with Michael Dunn are missing. IF Michael Dunn felt threatened after telling the teenagers to turn down the music – evidence seems to indicate that Dunn could have ended it – but instead forced the situation to escalate.

The inherit problem with the new “stand your ground” mentality is that it removes the responsibility to retreat if retreat is possible. This seems to be interpreted to mean that it is open season on anyone who you think is threatening you.

Michael Dunn’s perception of a threat to his life may have come from his biased opinion of black male youths – rather than an actual threat with a mythical shotgun. And would Michael Dunn have perceived the same threat to his life if the teenagers had been white?

Furthermore, is this another case of a man voluntarily engaging others because of the security of a gun in his vehicle? Guns are not supposed to give you confidence to confront others – guns are for protection!

If reaction to the mistrial on murder charges in the Michael Dunn trial is guided by the idea that the lives of young black males are not as precious and valuable as young white males – then America has not progressed since the days of slavery.  And that is a sad and embarrassing thought.

I remember when I was 17 and if a 40+ year-old man told me to turn down the music I was listening to – I probably would have told him that my music was none of his business and I would have defied his request.  Be honest when you think about the times you were disrespectful as a teenager. 

I am not supporting disrespect and teenagers should be respectful, but in the America I know, we don’t shoot and kill people for being disrespectful!

My hope is that even though he was not convicted of murder that Michael Dunn’s prison sentence will set an example for those who own a gun for the wrong reasons!
 (14) Comments

Scoot: Darren Sharper and rape charges
Today, former New Orleans Saints player Darren Sharper was charged with two counts of rape by the use of drugs and five other drug-related felonies by Los Angeles County prosecutors.

In September, a woman in New Orleans told police that she was sexually assaulted by Sharper. In addition, women in Arizona and Nevada allege that they were raped by the ex-NFL player.

Investigators say they notice a pattern in Sharper’s alleged behavior. According to Los Angeles County prosecutors, Sharper met two women at a nightclub in West Hollywood and invited them to a party. On the way to the party, the women say Sharper brought them to his hotel room and gave them drinks. Both women say they passed out. One of the women said she woke up and found Sharper sexually assaulting her and the other woman said when she woke up she “interrupted” Sharper’s sexual advances.

In New Orleans, a woman claims that she consumed many drinks at several clubs before meeting Sharper, but told police that Sharper took her to his apartment where he sexually assaulted her without her consent.

Since only Darren Sharper and the women alleging sexual assault know the truth and since everyone is innocent until proven guilty in America, this is not the appropriate time to judge Darren Sharper’s guilt or innocence, but this is an appropriate time to talk about men and sexual assault – which is a softer way to label rape.

Rape is a horrific act that is often the result of male prerogative. Throughout the animal kingdom, the act essential to the propagation of a species is the male forcing sex (mating) on the female. Sadly, there will be those men who justify their aggressive sexual behavior as innate to the male species. But among the intelligent species of human beings, forced sex can never be excused as some sort of natural function of the male gender.

While there are obviously exceptions, men are generally physically stronger than women and possess the ability to control the outcome of a situation. Without suggesting that women are naturally victims, men cannot pretend to understand being in the position of not being in physical control another person at the time sex is desired.  It should be noted that many totally ignorant and insensitive comments made about rape come from men – not women.

It may be true that some women claim they were raped when they are actually trying to justify a decision to have sex that they later regretted and in a perfect world, women who falsely accuse a man of rape should face criminal charges. The charge of rape can ruin a man’s reputation. Furthermore, false claims of rape only diminish the credibility of women who actually are raped.

Sex should be consensual and that means there is no misunderstanding as to the intent of either person. The idea of “getting a girl drunk” to ease her inhibitions for the purpose of having sex is a well-established method of operation for some males.

The two women alleging that Darren Sharper used drugs and alcohol to sedate them for sex brings up a very disturbing scenario – having sex with a sedated and motionless partner. If sex is the ultimate expression of human passion, how can it be satisfying if one person is unaware of what is happening at that moment?

Parents have the unique responsibility of teaching their sons, and daughter, to respect others and when it comes to something as personal and bonding as sex, there should be no compromise for complete respect.

However, parents cannot expect their children to respect the act of sex if they show no respect for sex.  Single parents who are quick to bring home casual partners for a night of sex are establishing a lack of respect for sex. And the parents who think their children are nestled all snug in their beds are only fooling themselves.

In many households, the parent’s bedroom is near the child’s bedroom and children do not always sleep through the night.  What makes anyone think that their children would not soon come to understand exactly what is taking place from the sounds emanating from behind closed doors?

Celebrities have been the victims of women who wanted to gain something from a night of sex by claiming they were raped. But there have also been far too many men who have used their physical power to force sex.

It is never a women’s fault if she is sexually assaulted, but women often have the opportunity to decide whether or not to allow themselves to be alone with a person they really don’t know.

The human race is intelligent and civil relative to the animal kingdom and therefore humans should always be expected to show complete respect – even in those situations where the male has the opportunity to be dominant.

Do you need to have a conversation with your teenagers – and maybe yourself?


 (5) Comments

Scoot: Nagin and racism
Immediate reaction to the guilty verdict of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin included something that never occurred to me during the trial – race.

With the breaking news of the Nagin conviction, I was asked to join Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia on “Sports Talk” on WWL yesterday to deal with some of the reaction to the guilty verdict. The first caller was from a woman who said that the former mayor could not have gotten a fair trial because the jury was predominately white – 9 white jurors, 2 Asian and 1 African-American.

Another caller mentioned race when commenting on the conviction and went so far as to bring up the trial of the white Los Angeles police officers who were found not guilty in the beating of Rodney King in the federal trial. In the middle of a sports talk show, reaction to the conviction of a former black mayor was inspiring the playing of the race card.

I am rarely surprised when race comes up as the reason or the excuse for the results of a verdict or an unfortunate incident, but I was surprised that race came up in the reaction to the conviction of Ray Nagin.

Even before the reaction I heard while on WWL, I was not expecting the verbal ranting in the presence of the live TV cameras outside of the courthouse. A woman known to be a local activist was trying to shout comments that would become part of the reporters’ live coverage. Most of what she was shouting was inaudible, but the few things I picked up were that Ray Nagin was a “scapegoat” and there was a comment about the white system of justice’s unfair treatment of blacks. The woman’s rants also appeared to be laced with profanity. Eventually, U.S. marshals defused the situation.

Ray Nagin was supported by white and black voters and was elected and re-elected with a hope of change and race did not seem to define Nagin. What did define Nagin was the arrogant use of position and power for personal gain, and that transcends race.

Our system of justice is not fair and it is not blind. Facts seem to support conventional wisdom that blacks, especially young black males, and minorities are disproportionately convicted and sent to prison. Even if those groups are committing a disproportionate number of crimes, the conviction rate of poor minorities in America proves that justice is not fair. Justice seems to discriminate more against economic status than race, but blacks and other minorities without the means to pay for the best defense may be even more prone to being convicted.

Consider the recent case of a white male teenager from a very wealthy family, who was sentenced to probation and time in a posh rehab facility in California as a consequence for killing 4 people while driving drunk. Do you think a poor, inner city black teenager would have received the same lenient sentence? It’s also fair to question if a less affluent white teenager would have escaped jail time. The defense argued that the teenage defendant suffered from “affluenza” – a condition of being from a wealthy family that did not set proper limits for their son.

Race is also an issue in the case of Michael Dunn, a white 47-year-old man who is on trial in Jacksonville, FL for shooting and killing an unarmed 17-year-old black teenager following an argument over loud rap music. In talking about this case on “The Scoot Show” on WWL, I have received calls and texts from a few people who appear to excuse the white man’s frustration because he, like many, was just “fed up with the thugs and their music.” That is a very scary and very real attitude in America that encourages and justifies violence. The suggestion is that if you are “fed up” with the attitude of blacks or anyone – you are justified in killing them!

This week, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said in a speech to a university that “we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school.” He continued, “Now, name a day [race] doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive.”

As a talk show host, I witness America’s sensitivity about race, sexual orientation, class and countless other factors that separate us into groups on almost every show I do and it is sad that my generation, the Baby Boomer generation, that once helped spark the crusade for total equality among all during the 60s and 70s, is now so actively keeping judgment based on race and sexual orientation an integral part of so many of today’s debates.

The media and both parties have benefited from racism. The media attracts attention from the heated battles that erupt over race and as a result will always accentuate race as a factor in any debate when possible. In the 1960s, Republican Presidential Candidate Barry Goldwater used integration to instill fear that white America, particularly in the South, would lose status in society. Governor George Wallace was actually a moderate Republican.  Wallace lost his first campaign to become governor of Alabama and changed to reflect the South’s fear of integration by becoming a staunch segregationist. 

The strategy of attracting votes based on the loss white’s would suffer from equality was known as the “Southern Strategy” and has remained as part of the strategy of some candidates. The “us-against-them” mentality rallies many voters around certain candidates who speak in code, rather than blatant language, about preferential treatment of blacks.

Racism is not as physically present as it once was, but there is a strong undercurrent of racism from both sides that has become instinctive. It doesn’t matter if there are more white racists or black racists in America – the point is that racism is prevalent and wrong. What will it take to get over the tendency to play the race card, even when race is not a factor?

America is still not ready for an honest conversation about race relations because people are more interested in finding things that support their preconceived notions rather than attempt to seek a true understanding of the other side’s position.

We are all entitled to our perception of life, but perception is not always reality and often should be recognized as only perception. I speak and observe from my point-of-view and it’s important for me to try to understand another person’s point-of-view that has been formed by their experiences in life if there is to be any honest conversation about race.

Intolerance is less demanding than tolerance. Intolerance requires no effort – tolerance requires an effort to listen and understand those who have a different perspective on life. And understanding that our perspective is not the only perspective may be the first step in starting an honest conversation about race.

The automatic assumption that former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin did not get a fair trial because only one juror was black suggests that all whites are racist and incapable of fairly judging a person of color.

With recognition of past and current injustices, it is wrong to imply that a white jury cannot fairly judge a black defendant - or that a black jury could not fairly judge a white defendant, but until our instinctive reaction that race is a mitigating factor, we will continue to support racism in America.
 (11) Comments

Scoot: Are you afraid of gays in the locker room?
Is this the year of the first openly gay player in the NFL?

Michael Sam breaks the stereotype that many Americans have of homosexuals. University of Missouri All-American defensive lineman Michael Sam is 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds and he opened up yesterday about his sexual orientation. Sam is expected to be drafted into the NFL during the draft this May – that would make him the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Reaction of Sam’s revelation has been mixed.  Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said he is not homophobic but “imagine if he’s the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me. How am I supposed to respond?” Vilma has led some to believe he does have a problem with homosexuals. In 2011, Vilma said, “Grown men should NOT have female tendencies.”

London Fletcher, Redskins linebacker, said, “There’s such a stigma with gay and homosexuals within male sports.” Former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Herm Edwards warned that a gay player is “bringing baggage into your locker room” and questioned if players could handle the media attention.

Tweets about Michael Sam’s admission that he is gay have been filled with hate and frequent use of the word f****t.

The issue of an openly gay player in the NFL, or any professional sport, is more about ignorance-born hate than it is about a gay player. And the same can be said of the debate over same-sex marriage. I have been criticized for “promoting” a gay agenda – even though I’m straight. As I have said numerous times, I am not promoting a gay agenda and have nothing to personally gain by total acceptance of gays in our society. However, I AM promoting the acceptance of law-abiding individuals who should have a right to participate on every level of American society without condemnation of those who have embarked on a crusade to dictate personal behavior.

The fact is that we have all been in the locker rooms of our schools and health clubs with homosexuals – gay men and lesbians. The homosexuals that have been in locker rooms with all of us may not have been openly gay, therefore we were unaware they were standing next to us.

I have never known of any widespread problem with homosexuals pursuing straight people in the heated fog of a hot shower or in the bright lights of the locker room where everyone is briefly naked. This is not to say that there haven’t been situations where an advance has been made, but through my own experiences and in tracking the news every day of life, I have not been aware of any actual problems that have resulted in locker rooms.

There have been a few professional athletes, including NFL players, who have come out of the closet after they left the game. There have not been stories about any inappropriate behavior in the years those gay players were showering and changing with straight players in the locker rooms.

The mistake many heterosexuals make is they put themselves in what they consider to be a similar situation. Men think, “Well, if I were in a shower or locker room with well-built women, I know what I would be looking at and I know what I would want to do!”

Since I am not gay, I can only speak from my perspective, but I would image that if a person grows up gay, they would have to be conditioned to be in locker room-type settings with the sex they are innately attracted to from the beginning of their lives and would know how to behave. Otherwise, how can anyone explain the lack of incidents in locker rooms that have always been open to homosexuals?

The degree of fear over being in the same place with homosexuals, like a locker room, is part of the hysterical view of homosexuality that is not based on actual facts or events. This hysteria is spread by a diminishing number of Americans, who disapprove of a lifestyle that poses no threat to them or their families.

As Americans, it should be paramount to our culture to learn from the past mistakes made over judgment and exclusion. I am continually perplexed by the intensity with which some people want to dictate behavior – all in the name of preserving the American way of life. Unless I missed something along the way, the American way of life is the envy of the world because of its diversity and tolerance.

While the hate of homosexuals may continue, the number of haters is shrinking, which may be causing the remaining haters to become even louder.

The battle over banning same-sex marriage is essentially over in America. States will continue to approve legal same-sex marriage and the courts will continue to uphold same-sex marriage as an equal right.  In the future, the fear over same-sex marriage will be viewed as the battle to ban birth control pills in the early 1960s.  Americans will wonder why the crusade to ban same-sex marriage was such a big deal.

The battle over homosexuals in locker rooms may be just beginning even though knowledge of sexual orientation is not a prerequisite for joining a health club!

And for the record – I’ve seen straight people “check me out” in locker room situations and I don’t like that! So straight or gay – don’t look!
 (9) Comments

Scoot: How the Beatles changed America forever
Considering the timing of The Beatles’ arrival in America in 1964 and the beginning of what would become known as the “Anti-Establishment” Generation in the 1960s, it is easy to understand why so many people look back and credit The Beatles with creating that rebellious young generation.  Without discrediting the unique talent and innovative style of The Beatles, the belief that they inspired a young generation to reject and rebel against the Establishment in such a profound manner is a simplistic view of what happened.  Technically, the generation known as the Baby Boomer generation was biologically created at birth, but emotionally, it was a generation that wasn’t really born until the mid-60s.

So, who is the Baby Boomer generation? Baby Boomers are your fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles or maybe you. The phrase “baby boomer” was first used in 1970 in an article that appeared in the Washington Post. The phrase applied to about 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. It was a generation too young to have personal memory of World War II, but old enough to experience the positive aspects of postwar America. This was a young generation that witnessed a growing and prosperous nation when the American Dream seemed within reach of almost everyone.

As America reaped the benefits of the peace and prosperity that followed the end of World War II, this country was also experiencing tremendous growing pains and moral and emotional battles over key issues about rights and personal freedom.

In the years prior to The Beatles’ arrival in America, there were social debates that were beginning to define a new direction for America.  These battles pitted the Moral Majority against activists that were fighting for more personal freedoms and equality.  As the 1960s began, America’s Moral Majority condemned the use of birth control pills on the basis that removing the consequence of pregnancy from casual sex would cause sexual promiscuity to escalate.  In 1961, the use of artificial birth control was a crime in Connecticut and a lawsuit over the constitutionality over declaring birth control pills illegal went to the Supreme Court.  The High Court would ultimately rule that banning birth control pills was unconstitutional based on right to privacy.  By 1963, 2.3 million America women were on the Pill. In relation to the population at the time, that was a bigger percentage of the population than it would be today.

In 1962 and 1963, two landmark decisions by the Supreme Court banned school-led prayers in public schools.  The decisions to ban school-led prayers are still viewed by many in today’s new Establishment as the flashpoint in time when the social and moral demise of America began. 

Along with the legalization of artificial control and the banning of school-led prayers form public schools, two significant controversies that signaled a nation on the threshold of change, the fight for equal rights for blacks in America was strongly supported by a young generation that sensed the cruel injustice of segregation.

Adding to the social and legal debates about freedom and equality in the early 60s, there was the ever-present threat of a nuclear war that would almost completely destroy the United States.  Schools held drills to instruct young students what to do if the Soviet Union dropped a nuclear bomb on our country.  There were a few families in my neighborhood that had bomb shelters installed in their backyards that would help them survive a nuclear war, but those shelters actually provided more of a sense of security than practical protection from nuclear fallout.  The fear of instant destruction was part of life for a young generation that may have seemed too young to be aware of precisely what the threat meant.

A young generation was quietly and subconsciously absorbing the constant talk of nuclear war on the news and in living room conversations with parents and neighbors. In those days, parents did not consider the impact the news or negative conversations were having on their children’s generation.  It was a different time.

In the fall of 1962, America faced an imminent threat of nuclear war when it was discovered that the Soviet Union was building missile sites in Cuba that would contain missiles with nuclear warheads aimed at the United States. The Soviet Union took this action in response to the United States placing nuclear weapons in Turkey that were aimed at Moscow. These actions attest to the volatile and sensitive nature of the Cold War.

President John F. Kennedy announced to the world that the Unites States would not allow the Soviet Union to place nuclear missiles so close the U.S.  The Soviet Union did not back down. President Kennedy ordered a blockade of Cuba and U.S. warships took up positions around the communist island. For 14 days, Americans lived with the strong possibility that the confrontation would erupt into the nuclear war the world most feared.

Before the crisis was averted, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev sent a letter to President Kennedy stating that the U.S. blockade of Cuba was an aggressive act that could propel “human kind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war.” The crisis dominated the evening news nightly and parents were constantly talking about how real this threat was to life in America.

Though a young generation might have appeared to lack a true understanding of the potential consequences, I have a vivid memory of sitting in my grammar school class drawing a detailed picture of U.S. warships surrounding Cuba. I may not have been aware of the specifics, but I was keenly aware of the fact that my security and the security of my family and this country were facing a threat that if not resolved, could lead to the destruction of America.

The Soviets did back down and agreed to remove all of their offensive weapons from Cuba. In exchange, the U.S. publically declared that it would never invade Cuba, but privately, the U.S. also agreed that it would dismantle its nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy that were aimed at the Soviet Union.

As the Cuban Missile Crisis played out on a public stage, a young generation was subconsciously sensing the ambience of an unsafe world that their parent’s generation was in charge of and this was the mood in America that proceeded the moment that would prove to be the tipping point in the birth of the anti-Establishment generation of the 60s.

On Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. America and the world were stunned by the news that the President of the United States had been murdered in public in front of countless witnesses. If the technology of today’s media and social media were part of the world in 1963 – the President of the United States would have been killed on live television as a nation watched. However, even with the media of that era, it wasn’t long before America witnessed the visuals of the assassination. While a young generation was sat in the background, their parents didn’t realize how that moment would dramatically change their children’s generation.

The assassination of the President carried a crystal clear message to an innocent young generation – the Establishment was no longer able to provide a sense of security.  Though the effects of the news of the assassination may have been subtle and even subconscious to a young generation, those effects were nonetheless profoundly unsettling.

With the seed of distrust of the Establishment planted in the collective subconscious of a young generation, their minds were fertile and waiting to be tilled by anything they could use as to distinguish their generation from their parents’ generation, which they felt had let them down.

Less than three months after the assassination of President Kennedy, The Beatles hit America on February 7, 1964.  On February 9, 1964, television host Ed Sullivan spoke the words that would live in infamy for an entire generation – “Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles!” And in that moment, a young generation had unknowingly discovered the beginning of a new identity that would lead to a rebellion and the title of the anti-Establishment generation.

The Beatles’ appearance and sound defied the Establishment. Looking back at pictures of that young rock band from England, it is challenging to think that their haircuts and music were so revolutionary, but relative to the times, The Beatles represented a defiance that would help a young generation distinguish itself from their parents’ generation – the Establishment.

Pictures of the early Beatles, based on today’s world, show a group of clean-cut lads in tailored suits who appear to be anything but rebellious. However, in the context of the world in 1964, their mop-top, unruly hair styles and their unique, new sound were rebellious and revolutionary.  There is always a tendency to justify that past trends and behavior are tame in comparison to present day, however, as with the hair styles of The Beatles, everything must be judged against the backdrop of society at the time in which it was first introduced.

Today’s Establishment - the Baby Boomer/anti-Establishment/rebellious generation of the 60's - has a collective concern about the bad boys and bad girls of pop culture today with an amnesiac attitude. Much of today’s new Establishment rationalizes their influences as being much tamer than today’s negative influences, but relative to the times – The Beatles were viewed as having a negative impact on a young generation.

The press reflected the reaction of parents in criticizing the appearance and sound of The Beatles in discrediting something that was totally unfamiliar and seemed to represent rebellion.

Humans instinctively remember whatever is first in a category – often not even remembering what is second or third.  Most Americans remember the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong – but do not remember the second man to walk on the moon which was equally an incredible accomplishment.  The Beatles have gotten so much attention and credit for changing America, but they were only the first of a long list of British groups that made up the British Invasion.

As we relive the earliest impression of The Beatles on the 50th anniversary of their arrival in America, let’s recognize just how rebellious and outrageous they were in the context of the society in the mid-1960s – and not compare their music and image with the image and music of bands and performers today.

I continually refer to myself as a hostile witness to the Baby Boomer generation because I have noticed that many of the judgments of pop culture today by the new Establishment are hypocritical.

The Beatles have been credited with changing America and creating a young generation that rebelled against the Establishment like no other young generation, but the social mood of the country that was defined by the debates over the Pill, prayer in public schools, the fight for personal freedoms and equality, the ever-present threat of nuclear war and ultimately the assassination of the President of the United States created the perfect moment for something a young generation could rally around as they declared their independence.

This is a good time to admit how rebellious today’s Establishment was after The Beatles arrived in America and understand that even though everything is different today – relative to the world they are now growing up in – the influences that many fear are having such a negative impact on the current young generations may actually be quite similar to what we put our parents’ generation through 50 years ago!
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Scoot: Will CVS cigarette ban lead to fewer smokers?
CVS, the nation’s second largest drugstore chain, announced that it will remove all tobacco products from its shelves by October because it wants to be a “full health care facility.”

As the major drugstores move toward being a bigger part of the nation’s healthcare system with walk-in clinics, CVS believed it was important to stop selling cigarettes and all tobacco products. This is a bold move considering that tobacco products generate about $2 million in annual sales for the company. After the announcement, CVS shares fell 1%, while its bigger competitor Walgreens’ shares went up 3.9% and Rite Aid rose 2%.

CVS is hoping to recoup the lost revenue removing all tobacco products from its stores by starting smoking cessation programs. An added benefit of the new policy on tobacco products may come from new customers who will be willing to choose CVS over other drugstores to support the company’s decision to ban tobacco products.

Smokers in America have progressively been relegated to second-class citizens, and there is virtually no threat of protest or backlash against any company that discourages access to cigarettes, even though cigarettes are a legal product for sale in the United States.

For the record, I am not a smoker, and I do not want to appear to be supporting the consumption of products that have a proven record of causing devastating health consequences, but as long as a product is legally sold in America and individuals make a conscious decision to consume products that cause health risks, I will adhere to my belief that individuals should have the power to make personal decisions.

Over the years, smoking cigarettes has become a disgusting habit that is considered by most to be anti-social. Smokers are now one of the easiest groups to attack without the fear a negative backlash.

If CVS is striving to establish an image as a full health care facility by banning all tobacco products, is it hypocritical for the company to continue to sell booze?

President Obama praised CVS by saying that the company’s decision will help the nationwide campaigns to reduce tobacco-related diseases and death.  If CVS does not want to contribute to diseases and death, should the drugstore chain continue to sell beer, wine and liquor to alcoholics?

If the goal is to become a full health care facility, will CVS consider a ban on selling fattening items to any overweight person?  Alcoholic products sold to an alcoholic can directly contribute to disease and death and the continued consumption of fattening foods can contribute to an array of diseases and death in people who become overweight.

Anyone could walk up and down the aisles of any CVS store and pick out countless items on sale that could lead to death. The primary reason the company is willing to stop the sale of tobacco products is because smokers in America are an easy target.

There is a strong belief that other major retail outlets will follow in the path of CVS and win the good will of the public by banning cigarettes. But are we so sure that banning the sale of cigarettes will actually cause people to stop smoking?

Dr. Richard Wender of the American Cancer Society is quoted in a Reuters news article saying, “Every time we make it more difficult to purchase a pack of cigarettes, someone quits.” Will Americans quit smoking or will those craving cigarettes resort to a more convenient black market to support their habit?

As a smoker, my dear mother battled lung cancer and had half of one of her lungs removed, so I do not support smoking and have seen first-hand the devastation it can cause.  However, as long as cigarettes are legal, I have a difficult time supporting the banning of cigarettes while countless other products that are potentially hazardous to one’s health remain on sale.

Banning the sale of cigarettes at a retail outlet in the hopes of stopping smokers from lighting up is equivalent to trying to stop drug use by getting rid of all the dealers. That hasn’t worked out too well, has it?

About 18% of adults in America are smokers and that is down from 43% in 1965. Campaigns designed to convince people to quit smoking or to never start are vital and should continue, but with the belief that individuals should be free to make their own decisions, I can’t help but think that CVS banning the sale of cigarettes and all tobacco products may not accomplish the desired goal.

The battle to eliminate smoking and the use of tobacco products must be to find more creative ways to discourage young people from starting in the first place.  Convincing someone not to start smoking seems more attainable than convincing someone to stop smoking!
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Scoot: Do "stand your ground" laws encourage violence?
A 47-year-old man at a gas station in Jacksonville, FL was annoyed by a car full of teenagers who were apparently blaring music from the car.  The man asked them to turn it down, at which point he claims he felt threatened by the way the teenagers talked to him and told police he thought he saw a gun in the car.  He went to his car – got his gun – and opened fire into the vehicle killing a 17-year-old teen.  Police found no gun in the teenagers’ car.

The defense has rested in the trial of Michael  Dunn is charged with 1st-degree murder and is claiming that he opened fire into the vehicle with the teenagers because he felt threatened and Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law could easily become a major part of this trial and will undoubtedly reignite the national debate that was spawned during the trial of George Zimmerman.

While there may be some parallels with the two cases, there are also distinct differences.  There will always be a doubt in the minds of many about whether George Zimmerman actually felt that his life was threatened during a physical altercation with Trayvon Martin and could the altercation have been prevented with different actions by bother Martin and Zimmerman.  In that case, there was a physical altercation lending legal credibility to the defense of “stand your ground.”  After considering that legal defense, a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty.

In the case of 46-year-old Michael Dunn, after he felt threatened he allegedly went to his vehicle and retrieved a gun – then voluntarily walked over to the vehicle with the teenagers he claimed were threatening and opened fire into the car.  How could anyone claim their life was threatened if they made the conscious decision to place themselves in what they describe as a threatening situation?

In claiming self-defense, an individual will face the challenge of convincing the court that his or her life was actually threatened.  The burden of proof is on the prosecution and every defendant is innocent until proven guilty, but the case will revolve around some justification of a threat to life. 

The controversy over “stand your ground” laws, now on the books in over 20 states, surrounds the laws’ protection of any individual firing a weapon and killing or injuring someone in self-defense.  Without “stand your ground” laws, there are already laws that allow citizens to use deadly force against intruders or anyone that is a threat to life or property, but with strong consideration given to retreat. The “stand your ground” laws provide additional protection in the claim of self-defense by removing any requirement to retreat.

An important question to be answered about all “stand your ground” laws is – do these laws encourage the use of deadly force?  It is also appropriate to consider if some individuals would have placed themselves in threatening situations if they did not have immediate access to a gun?

The trial of George Zimmerman legitimately raised these questions.  Many believe that Zimmerman would never have gotten out of his truck if he had not been armed.

In another high-profile case in Texas, a retired Houston firefighter, Raul Rodriquez, killed a neighbor during an argument about a noisy party at the neighbor’s house.  Rodriquez went to the home of a neighbor, Kelly Danaher, to confront her about noise from a party.  During an argument, which was videotaped by Rodriquez, he is heard saying at one point, “My life is in danger now” and “these people are going to go try to kill me.” He also said, “I’m standing my ground here.”  

Rodriquez shot and killed his neighbor and injured two of her male friends.  In his defense, he claimed that one of the males made a move that he felt was threatening.  But on the video, Rodriquez was obviously setting up his own defense by claiming his life was in danger and he was standing his ground.  

The state of Texas has a “Castle Doctrine” law, which is similar to “stand your ground” laws on the books in other states.  Rodriquez was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Violent crime, even murder, among America’s youth has actually declined down to the lowest point since 1993, but the perception is that crime is increasing dramatically and many argue that we should all be armed to defend ourselves against the criminal element.  

“Stand your ground” laws have appeased those Americans who believe that citizens should have more legal protection in situations where guns are arguably used proactively.  But it’s fair to question whether these laws have also catered to some gun-happy Americans.

With complete respect for the Second Amendment and gun ownership in America and with respect for EVERY American’s right to defend themselves, “stand your ground” laws seem to feed a growing sense that citizens must become more aggressive in fighting crime.  

Being more aggressive against crime can be a positive thing, but not if it encourages some armed citizens to aggressively take the law into their own hands when settling a confrontation might otherwise have been averted by retreat.  If retreat is a possibility wouldn’t everyone chose that action? Sadly, there seems to be a growing desire to seek revenge against perpetrators. Gun ownership should be based on protecting life and property – not revenge.

Anyone who is too quick to stand behind a “stand your ground” law may be using the law to support a predisposed mentality that essentially supports gun violence and the use of guns as the only answer – when credible gun instructors teach that the use of a gun is a last resort, not an early option.
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Scoot: What Super Bowl XLVIII teaches us about life
The point spread for the Super Bowl may have made the Denver Broncos a 2 to 2 ½ point favorite over the Seattle Seahawks, but the overwhelming consensus nationally favored the Broncos and Peyton Manning by more than the point spread.  The Broncos were anointed by many before the game even started.

Going into the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning had a super season, setting more individual records.  The Broncos had the #1 rated offense behind Manning and Seattle had the #1 rated defense, which on paper set up the perfect Super Bowl match-up. 

What happened is a great lesson about life for everyone.  I often use sports as a metaphor for life and yesterday’s Super Bowl teaches us a lot about life.

Peyton Manning had such an unbelievable year that he and the Broncos seemed unbeatable.  The Seahawks were a young team and their quarterback, Russell Wilson, was a young quarterback with a fraction of the experience and the salary of Peyton Manning. 

Individual performance records usually lead to big contracts, but those big contracts can never guarantee that highly-paid, high-performing individuals will lead teams to the ultimate victories.  Money can buy talent, but in a team sport, too much emphasis placed on an individual’s financial and professional status can distract from the need for a cohesive team effort.  Over the past few seasons, I have noticed that far too much attention is being paid to individual records when individual success can be achieved independent of team success.

You can argue that Peyton Manning was not well protected.  Argue that he is not, and should not be expected to be, a one-man team, but Peyton Manning chocked under the pressure of the Super Bowl stage and so did the team around him.  It was as if the opening play – a miscommunicated snap that flew past Peyton and led to a Seahawks’ safety - was an omen for the course of the entire game. Manning and the Broncos never recovered from that opening snap, and the Seahawks embarrassed the Broncos in Super Bowl 48. 

So much of what dictates our behavior is subconscious and is therefore easily consciously denied, but here are a few things to consider:  Was Peyton Manning too confident?  Did he feel that it was his destiny to win the Super Bowl this year?  Did the Broncos, as a team, rely too much on the individual excellence of their leader during the regular season and the playoffs? 

Even if the loss to the Seahawks was aided by obvious answers to the aforementioned questions, the greatest reason for the win was the dominating play of the Seahawks, which was driven by an attitude and overall mentality that is to be admired – and studied.

If the Broncos entered the Super Bowl yesterday with a sense of entitlement, the Seahawks did not allow the national respect bestowed upon Manning from his stellar season to be an intimidating factor. Individuals and teams can respect competitors, but that respect should never be elevated to reverence to the point that the competition seems unbeatable.  The Seahawks respected Manning and the Broncos, but they did not allow that respect to intimidate them.

In winning the Super Bowl 43-8, the Seahawks not only used their #1 rated defense to rattle and shut down the stoic Peyton Manning, but their offense put on a show that made the Broncos’ #1 rated offense look totally inept.

Once again, a football game was not played according to statistics and anyone who expected that only denies the reality of the emotional aspect of sports. 

The attitude and performance of Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl may be the most inspirational aspect of the victory and what it tells us about life. For the past couple of months, I have had a small sign over the desk in my office at WWL.  The sign reads, “Why NOT Me!”  

In an interview before an important regular season game, Russell Wilson was asked if he was surprised at the success in his young career.  He answered by talking about something his   father told him growing up and that is, “Why not you, Russell?”  I thought that was such an important message that I put it over my desk. 

Following the Super Bowl victory, Wilson was asked about what his father told him growing up and that was a reminder of just how important that simple message is – "why not me?"

We often go through life thinking that great things will happen to someone else and not us.  We even question whether we will be the “lucky” ones to succeed in a big way.  The idea of “why not me?” implies erasing all doubt that you can do whatever it is you strive to do to reach your goals.  

I also love the underdog status of Russell Wilson entering the NFL.  At 5’11,” he is short for an NFL QB, and was constantly told that he wouldn’t make it in the NFL.  Saints’ QB Drew Brees has a similar story.  In true peak performers, being told you can’t do something is usually one of the greatest motivational speeches you can hear.  I know it has been at times in my career and I hope you have similar stories.

Rather than look at the success of others, start asking yourself the question, “why not me?” and live every moment in life with the confidence that there is no reason why it can’t be you!
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Topics: Sports
Locations: Seattle
People: Drew BreesPeyton ManningRussell Wilson

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