What will ultimately destroy humans? Stephen Hawking says that it will not be a meteor hitting the earth or a massive earthquake or any cataclysmic natural disaster that will destroy. Hawking now believes that human aggression could “destroy us all.”
There has always been a segment of the population that is violent by their nature or their surroundings, however that segment of society is growing, but the most alarming sign that Americans are becoming more violent and aggressive lies in the increase in aggression throughout the segment of the population that does not fall into the violent/aggressive category.
Think about the times you feel aggression – someone cuts in front of you in traffic, a motorist tailgates you or you respond aggressively to a text, a tweet or a Facebook post.
Has social media made our society more aggressive? As much as I am reluctant to blame technology or media for creating aggression or violence in the real world, I think that social media has given people a vehicle by which they can manifest their aggression and even practice the art of being aggressive. It stands to reason that if we have no place to practice using the innate aggression that lives in many people, then we are unable to fine tune using the human instinct of aggression.
Texts, tweets and Facebook have become everyday methods of communicating with others and the somewhat anonymous nature of these social media outlets provides the perfect battleground for human aggression.
I witness the growing comfort level with venting hateful aggression through text messages every day I do a show on WWL. The hate-based text messages are often shocking and lead me to realize that through social media, Americans have become more aggressive.
It is rare that I do a show without hateful texts about my opinions on social and political issues or my sexual orientation – which is misunderstood by those looking for reasons to hate.
Many of the text messages spew hate and actually qualify as slander. The majority of the texts I receive while on the air are very positive, supportive and complimentary, but I have noticed that with the advent of the text message, some listeners use texts to instantly gratify their hate and aggression and feel they do in anonymously.
I have been in radio a long time and I know that negative reaction is a definite sign of success. If any radio personality or if most businesses tried to please every listener or every customer, there is a strong possibility that there would be nothing unique enough to attract the listeners or the customers necessary to be successful.
While I understand the role that negative comments play in my business, it is obvious that social media is providing that medium to immediately vent deep aggression. It is not necessary to taint this blog with some of the actual comments that some people make because your imagination can do an adequate job of figuring out the things I am talking about.
What is also interesting about some of the hateful and aggressive texts I receive is that almost all of those who express such aggression will continue to send texts through most of the show, which means they are listening! So, I guess I’m doing my job.
I hear stories about the aggressive things teenagers say to each other and there have been recent cases where the expression of hate through social media has been blamed for deaths, including suicides. Social media messages and posts have been cited as legitimate forms of modern-day bullying.
While human beings do have an instinct to be aggressive, which has been an instinct necessary for survival of the species, the immediacy and increases in aggression among those who would ordinarily not be considered part of society’s aggressive individuals is cause for alarm. And I think it’s fair to say that the nature of social media allows people to practice and sharpen their aggressive instincts.
One reason for the desire to attack others aggressively through social media may be a result of a growing sense that we have a right to never be offended by anything or anybody. There is a growing misunderstanding of basic First Amendment rights, often on the part of those who proclaim to be the most patriotic.
Teenagers should be taught – and we all need to remember – that words may be hurtful – but words can only hurt you if you allow it. We should also remember that the instinct to hate or become aggressive over the expression of an opinion that differs from your opinion is an ugly trend that defies the Constitution.
Which decade has the best music – 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or today?
The opinion of which decade had the best music is subjective and usually related to the decade an individual was coming-of-age and developed their first emotional bond with songs.
Another reason the music of a particular decade might be declared the best is because it was a good decade, personally or professionally, or both, for an individual. The music mirrors who we are.
Music is the soundtrack of our lives and the music we each think is the best directly relates to how we view each decade of our lives.
There are things I admire about the music of each decade and I also like many of the new groups and music that is out today and believe that current music trends will produce iconic music and stars.
Of all the decades we are addressing, I am most fascinated by the 60s and the 90s. Both decades were defined by drastic changes in popular music. In the 60s, The Beatles and the British Invasion reflected a new rebellious generation that earned the label the “anti-Establishment generation.”
The 90s were also defined by a young generation that rebelled against the Establishment – ironically, that Establishment was the original anti-Establishment generation.
Music, as a medium, reflects its audience and there were social and political factors that inspired the definite rebellions of the 60s and the 90s, but that is not the subject of this blog. While it is true that every young generation rebels against the Establishment to some degree, it’s hard to argue that the dramatic changes in the genre of pop music in the 60s and 90s were inspired by a stronger than normal rebellious attitude in young America.
Each decade has its distinct sound and unique performers, but the 60s and 90s were led by the kingpins of those decades, the Beatles and Nirvana, respectively. As I studied trends in music over the years, it became obvious that the music that would define each decade was the music that become popular in the 3rd and 4th year of the decade.
The Beatles hit America in 1964 and was immediately followed by the British Invasion. The grunge, alternative sound of the 90s began to hit mainstream youth in America in 1993 and 1994.
The music that would be known as “70s music” and “80s music” also began to dominate the music charts in the 3rd and 4th year of the decade. And it was the music that was becoming popular in 2003 and 2004 that that defined the 2000s.
Today, the trend in music is well established for this decade and the “sound” today is a continuation of the music trends of 2013 and 2014.
Music does not dictate attitudes and behavior as much as it reflects the attitudes and behavior of the young population of each decade. It is the social and political issues of each decade that determine trends in music.
For those Americans who missed the original memo: Minimum wage is not designed to live on!
Somewhere along the way, many Americans have been convinced that minimum wage workers should be able to buy nice cars, houses and raise families. Minimum wage is - and always has been - a starting wage.
Wal-Mart announced that the company will raise the minimum pay of its employees to $9.00 an hour in April and up to $10 an hour by next February. The retail giant admits that this may lead to lower profits in the short term, but bigger profits in the future.
Wal-Mart, along with other big and smaller companies, is responding to public pressure to raise the pay of the lowest paid employees. In May of 2014, I wrote about minimum wage and promoted the idea that we, the consumers, have the power to change the pay and the attitude of minimum wage employees. We choose which companies we do business with and with that choice we have the power to tell businesses, big and small, that if they have incompetent, apathetic employees, we will no longer give them our business.
Wal-Mart’s image has been damaged by reports of underpaying employees and failing to treat employees with respect. Now, with public opinion changing about the minimum wage paid to employees, Wal-Mart is forced to raise the pay level of its employees.
The American business model has been to maximize profits even at the cost of diminishing market share. But to maximize the bottom line for immediate gratification means the potential to lose market share, which is what generates steady, long-term profits and growth.
From consumers to workers to businesses, Americans have been infected with the entitlement virus, and it has become an epidemic. As consumers, workers and businesses we demand instant gratification. The move by Wal-Mart to raise the pay of their lowest paid employees could be a major step toward America developing the mentality that customer service and satisfaction and quality of work are the only real ways to increase long-range profits.
However, even with an increase in pay of minimum wage employees at a growing number of businesses and municipalities across the country, there is still a gross misconception that minimum wage is a living wage. The demand to earn a living wage at the minimum wage level is relatively new. When many of us started working at minimum wage, we worked harder and created opportunities for ourselves because we were never given the false impression that minimum wage was an acceptable wage over time.
America has become lazy, spoiled and pampered and many, many minimum wage workers accept jobs with no apparent motivation to work their way up to a higher wage. I do think it’s time to raise the minimum wage in America and I applaud Wal-Mart and other companies for changing their policies, but even the increases granted should not make any minimum wage workers satisfied to the point where they have no motivation to work harder toward a job that pays more than minimum wage.
The entitlement mentality in America is widespread. Employees think they are entitled to more money, stockholders think they are entitled to maximum returns on their investments and consumers think they are entitled to the best service and products at a low price. The truth is – in our capitalist society – none of the above is entitled to any of those things!
Raising the minimum wage still makes it a minimum wage and rather than send a message through the workplaces of America that you should be able to live and raise a family on minimum wage, let’s go back to the American concept of starting at the bottom and working your way up.
As I walked out of church in downtown New Orleans on this Ash Wednesday with ashes smeared on my forehead, I had no fear that the visible indication of my religious beliefs would lead to verbal or physical attacks. But I realized that not everyone in America, or around the world, who displays signs of their religious beliefs is free from such threats. I also thought about the twenty one Christian Egyptians who were recently beheaded by Islamic militants because of their religious beliefs.
Persecution based on religious beliefs dates back to the beginning of religion, and only a few religions are not guilty of horrific atrocities through history. But sadly, in America in 2015, many still practice persecuting someone else’s religion.
America is a diverse nation built on unique freedoms, including the freedom of religion. As a talk show host, I hear firsthand the hateful judgment and condemnation of certain religions. While people are free to express their hate, that expression contradicts all that America stands for.
I find it interesting that many of those who instinctively judge certain religions are quick to defend any attack on their religions freedoms that come in the form of legal challenges or government rules. To some degree, most religious people are put in positions, however benign, to defend their beliefs or even the fact that they believe.
On Ash Wednesday, many Catholics and Christians show a visible sign of their religion in the form of a cross traced with ashes on their foreheads, but most Americans walk down street with no sign of a religion or if they are even religious.
Those religions that do display their religious beliefs daily should be allowed to live their lives in America free from any threat of verbal or physical attacks.
Freedom of religion means freedom of ALL religions!
Mardi Gras 2015 is expected to be cold and windy, but this is not the first Mardi Gras that took place in winter weather. The conditions will not be tropical and will be uncomfortable for many who plan to bear much flesh, but the party will go on!
The spirit of Mardi Gras and the desire to be frivolous are stronger than weather conditions that are less than ideal. That spirit and desire are also part of the fabric of New Orleans culture.
Since human nature seems to encourage more complaining than praise, it is important that we go out of our way to acknowledge the positive over the negative. Every year there are complaints about behavior among the crowds and the riders on the floats.
Last year on the day after Mardi Gras, a listener called my show to complain about a group of young people that set up their temporary territory near his family and friends and vulgar music began to blare from their area. The man said the music was so offensive that he apologized to guests visiting from out-of-town and then moved his group to another location.
I can understand the man’s frustration and vulgarity in public is not a new controversy. I would never be accused of being a prude or overprotective of society, but I don’t think vulgar music should be tolerated in a public setting, like a Mardi Gras parade. But with great respect for the First Amendment, I admit that this is a difficult discussion.
While I would not judge the music the people choose to listen to in their car or in the privacy of their home, we should all expect a show of respect for each other. Admittedly, that’s a lot of expect.
There were also the typical complaints about people along a parade route blocking others or even moving in front of those who had been in position for the parade for hours. Lacking respect for others is an annoying reality.
But when you consider the number of people in the streets for parades and in the French Quarter and compare the size of the crowd to the number of incidents that occur, you can’t help but have a positive impression of humanity.
The police and city workers do a phenomenal job every year during Mardi Gras, but if it were not for the attitude and the behavior of the crowds, in general, Mardi Gras would not be such an amazing celebration.
As we recognize the long hours on the job and the competence of law enforcement, city workers and the hundreds of people involved in cleaning up after each parade, let us also give ourselves credit for coming together in massive numbers for the simple purpose of sharing a moment of fun during Mardi Gras. If the people of New Orleans and the surrounding areas who participate in Mardi Gras every year were not good, tolerate and respectful individuals, Mardi Gras would be chaos and would have ceased to exist years ago.
Every year there are those who come to New Orleans and experience Mardi Gras for the first time and without any lessons on what to do and how to act, even the first-timers quickly fit into our cultural mayhem. So, we, the Mardi Gras veterans must be setting a good example!
In spite of the countless displays of vulgarity and disrespect, Mardi Gras does teach us that we can come together as a community and bond over what we have in common – rather than think about what separates us.
I often talk about the “nature of news” on The Scoot Show on WWL – which is to focus on the negative and outrageous, even in the face of much that is positive and normal. The “nature of news” is determined by human nature. We are more prone to complain than to praise and the news reflects that human tendency.
The news is more likely to present the confrontations and the problems over the endless examples of kindness and respect in the crowds. That’s why it is important for us to take a look into society’s mirror once in awhile and recognize the positive reflections that far outnumber the negative ones.
The history of wearing masks during Mardi Gras explains the amazing spirit behind the celebration. In the beginning, masks were worn so that everyone was perceived as being equal on that day. At the time, society was strictly defined by classes and there was judgment of where you could go and what you could do based on the class you were part of. Since the masks hid your class in society, everyone was able to mingle in one large crowd.
During Mardi Gras, locals and visitors from every class in society for the single purpose of having a good time. Our political views, our religion, our race, sexual orientation and our economic status are mostly unrecognizable in the crowds that gather during the Carnival season and on Mardi Gras Day.
If you are participating in Mardi Gras 2015 – remember that this is a special time in a very unique American city that represents the common human bond we share for being happy and escaping the stress in our individual lives.
Today is Friday the 13th – believed by many to be a day of bad luck! Some people are so superstitious they don’t go to work or make any appointments on Friday the 13th. Fear of Friday the 13th is not reserved for uninformed, less intelligent people – some doctors have been known to avoid scheduling procedures on Friday the 13th.
Superstition is part of human nature and the rituals we follow give us a feeling of control over the possibility of something bad happening, but most of us know that any ritualistic behavior we practice will not actually keep us safe from harm. However, there are those who feel compelled to do - or not do - certain things on Friday the 13th.
If someone has the perception that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, then they are likely to look for things that support their belief that it is a day of misfortune. The slightest thing might not work out early in the day and that person now has proof that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. And the rest of that day – that person will only focus on the negative things that happen – however small or insignificant – as further evidence that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. This process of focusing on negativity only invites a negative attitude for the entire day.
As we all go through life, we have the option of seeing the positive or the negative. Negative things do happen and we are challenged to deal with those things – but there are also positive blessing during every day that are not always appreciated and recognized. We all know people who have an intrinsic negative nature. They consider - and actually - expect only the worst outcomes.
Without suggesting that there is any magical power in having a positive attitude in life – I do think our attitudes have an impact on our everyday lives. People are attracted to positive attitudes and I am convinced that having a positive attitude opens doors for more positive opportunities.
When something happens that causes me to run late for any scheduled appointment – I am frustrated and find myself making more mistakes as I try to make up the time. That only leads to more delays. Recently, I have tried to put a positive spin on those little things that happened in my life. If I find myself running late – I think, “Well, maybe I’m running late for a reason.” The difference between getting into an accident or avoiding one can be a matter of seconds. What delayed me at that moment might have caused me to be in a better place the rest of the day.
I first started to realize that the things we don’t want to happen may not be bad after watching a Gwenyth Paltrow movie, “Sliding Doors.” In the movie, her character was close to missing the subway. At that point, the movie showed what would happen if she made the subway and also what her life would have been like if she missed that subway. The lesson was simple – sometimes the things that we think are the worst things that can happen – end up being the best things that can happen!
If we look for the positive things, rather than focus on the negative things, that occur on this Friday the 13th – perhaps we can convince ourselves that Friday the 13th is not a day the brings bad luck!
Jon Stewart is stepping down as host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. When Stewart was named one of the most trusted names in news, many proclaimed that America was going to hell.
“The Daily Show” covers hard-hitting news that all of the major news networks cover, but does it with satire and irreverence. It is the satirical attitude of “The Daily Show” that leads to the dismissal that the show is a legitimate news source.
At its peak, “The Daily Show” attracted over 3 million viewers, more than the Fox News Channel, CNN or MSNBC. Most upsetting to many is the idea that younger generations consider “The Daily Show” and Jon Stewart their primary source of news in the way that older generations consider ABC, CBS, NBC and the cable news channels their top news source. But if the news presented is factually the same on “The Daily Show” and the major news networks and only the attitude and delivery are different, then why shouldn’t “The Daily Show” be considered a legitimate source for delivering the daily news?
Then, there is the concern that Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” are liberal and not objective. Right-leaning shows on radio and television had helped balance what has long been perceived as the “liberal media,” but conservative and liberal media attract the respective conservative and liberal audiences rather than change opinions.
The average Fox News viewer chooses that network because their presentation of the news mirrors the audience’s ideological views. Those viewers more loyal to MSNBC find comfort in that network’s slant of the news and the top issues of the day.
Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” are not responsible for turning America’s younger generations to the left – the host and the show reflect their attitude. Today’s younger generations make up a big portion of the coveted 25-54 demographic and they have become even more skeptical of the news media of the Establishment than older generations.
With an innate distrust of the established news media, shows, like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” have attracted audiences younger than today’s Establishment. Presenting the top stories and issues with irreverence responds to the growing cynicism in America.
Since “The Daily Show” does cover the top news stories with facts – it’s fair to compare it to medicine that is made to taste good. The news is there – like the medicine – but it’s hidden by a more palatable delivery.
The highly-credible NBC News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended for 6 months without pay for deceiving the audience with his coverage of some news stories. It is difficult to believe that Brian Williams is the only news anchor or reporter to have embellished news stories.
The Brian Williams controversy demonstrates that some news anchors and reporters have a tendency to define themselves as “TV personalities” and not people who simply report the news. If Brian Williams viewed himself as a “personality” and delivered the news – what’s wrong with a “personality,” like Jon Stewart, being on television delivering the news?
Maybe too many news anchors and reporters have been taking themselves too seriously and may have contracted a false sense of importance. Jon Stewart, and those like him, will attract loyal viewers who see their presentation of the news as more honest and transparent than the major news networks.
Jon Stewart will be missed – but he will be replaced and “The Daily Show” will continue to be a primary news source for many Americans.
President Obama lied to the American people when he opposed gay marriage!
According to longtime adviser, David Axelrod, President Obama’s personal feelings about same-sex marriage directly conflicted with his public position. In an interview with Huffington Post about his new book, “My Forty Years In Politics,” Axelrod says the President was never comfortable with opposing gay marriage, but did so because of public opinion. Obama once said after an awkward exchange on the subject, “I’m just not very good at bull****ing!”
Is it wrong for politicians to change their stance on issues based on public opinion? Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is at the head of the current controversy over legal gay marriage in his state, criticized politicians for changing their opinions on issues, like same-sex marriage, to reflect the changing views of the American public.
Many will argue that politicians should stick with their views and never change to mirror changes in public. However, with our representative government, voters put politicians in office to reflect their views and the collective public opinion on hotly-debated issues often changes over time. So, if politicians change to reflect the views of the general public can it be argued that they are actually doing their job?
Individual Americans are constantly changing their views on issues and that is reflected in the polls, but politicians are often condemned for changing their views. I hope that we can all accept the continuing evolution of society, as well and our own personal evolution, when it comes to social and political issues.
America has changed its prevailing opinion of segregation, the death penalty and cohabitation. Currently, public opinion is changing on same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana.
To suggest that politicians cannot change their view of an issue is to suggest that as citizens, we can never change our views of issues.
I wonder what kind of country we would be today if opinions never changed?
The U.S. Supreme Court decided to allow same-sex marriages to proceed in the state of Alabama and later this year will rule on whether the Constitution protects gay marriage in America. In spite of the High Court’s ruling today, some judges in Alabama are refusing to allow same-sex couples to get married. Will there be another Selma?
The recent movie, “Selma,” nominated for Best Picture at the upcoming Oscars, focused on the fact that black Americans were given the right to vote with the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, but counties in Alabama were making it impossible for blacks to register to vote.
The march from Selma to Montgomery led to President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voters Rights Act in 1965. “Selma” depicted the injustice of the state of Alabama ignoring the Constitution and enforcing their own personal prejudice against black voters. As some judges refuse to allow same-sex marriage in the wake of the definitive Supreme Court ruling today only begs the question: Will Alabama again allow personal prejudice to trump the law of the land?
I have often compared aspects of the civil rights movement in the 1960s to the battle over gay marriage. In making the comparison, I have been very clear to reduce it to the use of the Bible and personal morals and beliefs to justify prejudice and there is no comparison between the fight for gay marriage and the physical abuse suffered by black Americans during he civil rights movement.
One of the parallels between the fight for gay rights and the past fight for civil rights to the intolerance many Americans have had for the granting of equal rights.
Today, Americans look back and find it difficult to believe that attempts to ban birth control pills in the early-60s led to a Supreme Court decision that the use of birth control pills were protected by a basic right to privacy. Americans also look back today and find it hard to believe that blacks were blatantly discriminated against throughout society. Trust that the day is coming when America, as a nation, will look back and wonder why there was such a heated debate over allowing same-sex couples to marry.
The judges in Alabama who are continuing to refuse to marry same-sex couples reflect a backwards attitude that still lives through much of the South – including Louisiana.
Louisiana does not allow same-sex marriage and I expect some judges in the state to ignore what I expect to be a Supreme Court ruling the any ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
Even when a ban is based on majority rule – the rights of individuals supersedes the opinions of the majority. And it is good to know that a majority cannot take away your rights!
It’s Carnival time in New Orleans! Across America, this is a normal weekend, but here in New Orleans this is anything but a normal weekend!
The celebrations this time of year in and around New Orleans make us the envy of the nation. It’s a spectacle to behold. Thousands upon thousands of people line the streets as parades pass by and the massive crowds prove that people of all different races and sizes and people with differing views on the hotly-debated social and political issues can all join together in one huge crowd that seems united, at least for the moment, in a collective quest for an escape from life’s realities.
But within the massive, united crowds, there are tension and battles that erupt over territory. As a nation, we have become very territorial in our lives. Rage inspired by a motorist cutting in front of you or tailgating your car is based on our perception that someone is infringing on our territory.
Maybe the fact that surveillance cameras now capture our every move in public and the reality that even our private messages on Facebook, Twitter and emails are vulnerable to exposure has led us to become even more territorial in our lives.
What does our increased desire to protect our territory have to do with Mardi Gras in New Orleans? In the crowds that gather to enjoy parades there are countless battles over territory. Parade-goers establish their territory for viewing the parades and tensions can heat up when it feels as if someone else is invading our territory.
The territory we establish along the parade routes are considered our property when beads or trinkets land within those invisible boundaries we have set in our minds. Struggles often follow someone venturing into our territory to lay claim to a item thrown from a float.
The Carnival season would be much more enjoyable for all if we relinquished our territorial mentality. No one has a right to the position they have established along the parade routes. No one really has a right to the beads and trinkets tossed from floats. The greed over space and essentially worthless trinkets leads to tensions in the Mardi Gras crowds.
There are always great stories about people who share and are not possessive of their space or beads, but every Carnival season there are stories about battles over things that in the scope of reality are meaningless.
As you approach Mardi Gras 2015, try to resist any instinct you may have to protect your territory, which is something you may do without realizing it.
And there is a good possibility that even if you are courteous and not territorial that others near you will be. These are the times when we are challenged to maintain our composure even if others don’t.
During the Mardi Gras parades, when we are all crammed together in one massive crowd, let’s try to remember that our growing territorial mentality in America is the root of much rage and tension. All we can do is exhibit a non-selfish attitude when it comes to every aspect of Mardi Gras.