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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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Scoot: The battle for Benson's billions, in perspective

As the battle over the Benson billions heats up, let's take a moment to put this in perspective.

Tom Benson, the 87-year-old owner of the Saints, the Pelicans and other business entities, announced this week that his wife, Gayle, will inherit the Saints and the Pelicans upon his passing, which is not imminent. Benson's granddaughter, Rita, had been placed in a position with the organization that made her appear to be the heir apparent. So the announcement was a shocker.

After Benson's shift in the succession plan, his wife and daughter filed court papers requesting that Benson be declared mentally incapacitated and unable to made sound business decisions. The court papers included a letter written by Tom telling his daughter and his grandchildren that he wants nothing to do with them and they were all banned from the facilities of the Saints and the Pelicans. It is easy to imagine how tense the situation must have become for Benson to have taken such definite and drastic measures.

As the battle for billions plays out in full view of the public with public participation, let's put their family battles in perspective.

First of all, it is understood that everyone in the Benson family, even those Mr. Benson is alienating, will be completely taken care of financially and from the outside we can only imagine the size of that number. In other words, even those who are no longer in power with the Saints and the Pelicans are expected to be extremely wealthy.

The Benson family feud continues to spiral into a public discussion inciting deep emotional feelings, but the feud is not about life or death or a family about to lose their home as a result of job loss.

The family emotions Mr. Benson, his wife, his daughter and grandkids, are experiencing are real and must be extremely hurtful. We can all relate to being in a situation where there is a struggle between family and the spouse you love dearly. In families throughout America, there are struggles between children and new spouses or boyfriends and girlfriends. This part of the feud is real to many people.

As Saints fans and people throughout Louisiana react, the conversations have become vindictive at times with strong assumptions about who is right and who is wrong. Participating in what are often "gossip-fueled" conversations is something that humans do, but as tensions with the Bensons and within the public grow and battle lines are drawn, we need to remember that this appears to be a classic story about a family fighting over wealth and power.

We try to hold this in perspective – let's hope the Benson's can as well.
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Scoot: The Benson family feud

Most people can relate to a family feud. It seems logical that any family feud inspired by massive wealth and great power would become even more complicated.

Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson announced that upon his passing, his wife, Gayle, would inherit both sports franchises. The announcement was a dramatic shift from the heir apparent, Rita, Tom's granddaughter, ultimately taking control of the Saints and the Pelicans.

Following the change of succession in the Benson family, attorneys for the family members now left out of the succession plan filed a civil petition asking the courts to declare Tom Benson mentally incapacitated and unable to make sound business decisions.

Family feuds can easily erupt when a new spouse becomes part of the family. Gayle has been Tom's wife for 10 years and his adopted daughter, Renee, her daughter, Rita, and Benson's son, are now battling to be an integral part of the Benson billions.

Court papers filed in December show that Tom Benson signed a letter complaining that his relatives had been "offensive" and failed to "act in an appropriate manner" leading to heartbreaking family situations that he wanted to eliminate.

At its best – it's called "speculation" – and its worst – it's called "gossip" or "rumors" and New Orleans has always been fertile ground for gossip to spread. Often gossip can be vindictive.

The truth is – we don't know the truth – but that will certainly not stop the conveyers of gossip to spread their venom. As one of the richest families in Louisiana that may even have reached the status of royalty endures what will be a very difficult battle over money and power, we should all avoid the temptation to tolerate and spread what can only be described as gossip and rumors at this point.

The temptation to spread gossip as if it is fact will be overwhelming for many and talk radio and social media will become the fields of play. Spreading speculation, gossip or rumors – whatever you wish to call it – will be too tempting for some to resist, therefore, we should all be cautioned about what we hear, how we hear it and who we hear it from. Some will seize the gossip for the purpose of attracting attention.

At times, I have been criticized for attempting to stifle what I can only determine are rumors, rather than fact. For those who are quick to spread and enhance gossip, I am charged with censoring comments in order to protect others. I greatly respect my position as a radio talk show host and I remind those who say that failing to entertain salacious gossip on the air is a form of censorship, that I am on the radio and the conversations on the air must be held to a higher standard than casual, barroom conversations.

Listening to and enhancing gossip before it is passed on have become a spectator's sport for some. Let us challenge ourselves to be more discriminating in the gossip we are invited to accept as fact.

It may turn out that some of the gossip is true – but until that point – I am more comfortable distinguishing between gossip and fact.

For Saints and Pelicans fans – all we should care about is the impact that this family feud will have on the teams we love.

Drew Brees may have given us a hint that the changes taking place within the Saints and Pelicans families will not lead to a negative result when he said he "loves" Gayle.
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Scoot: Why are some so quick to judge others?

A woman in North Carolina became irate when she returned to her car to find a note criticizing her for parking in a space reserved for veterans. The note on Mary Claire Caine's car read, "Maybe [you] can't read the sign you parked in front of. This space is reserved for those who fought for America…not you. Thanks." The note was signed, "Wounded Vet."

Mary Claire said the note must have been written by a military veteran who watched her get out of her vehicle in the parking space and assumed she was not a veteran because of her gender. Mary Claire Caine proudly served in the United States Air Force.

In an article on the FoxNews.com website, the female Air Force vet is quoted saying, "I think they took one look at me when I got out of my car and saw that I was a woman and assumed I wasn't a veteran and assumed I hadn't served my country." She went on to say, "They have this image of what today's American veteran is and, honestly, if you've served in the United States military, you know that veterans come in all shapes and sizes."

Caine said she waited after reading the note hoping that the person who wrote it would confront her, but no one showed up. She says she deserves an apology.

Since it is not known if there is a sticker, placard or other designation required to park in spaces reserved for veterans, it is possible that the person who left the note might have reacted the same way even if a man had pulled into the space. But it is likely that the person who quickly concluded that Mary Claire Caine was not a veteran did so because she is a woman. It's 2015, how sad that anyone would stereotype veterans as men only.

We have all seen people pull into a handicapped parking space with their handicapped designation in place, but they don't appear to be handicapped. Are you tempted to judge?

Let's remember that often the reason an individual is granted the right to park in a handicapped space is not always obvious. But I wonder how many people have designation to park in handicapped spaces because someone in their family is handicapped, but not with them every time they take advantage of parking in those spaces? I'm sure many justify parking in handicapped spaces even though they are not the ones who are handicapped.

The idea of leaving a note on someone's car is interesting because I'm sure we have all been tempted to leave a note on someone's car because of where or how they parked. In the parking garage I use, I regularly see newer and more expensive cars or trucks purposely taking up two parking spaces in an obvious attempt to prevent another car from parking too closely to their vehicle. I haven't left notes, but I have been tempted.

Of course, we would all like it if no other car parked close to our car, but I always thought that if I did that I couldn't trust how someone else might react to my selfish act of entitlement. Would someone seek revenge against me by doing something to my car? Not worth taking that chance.

The man leaving the condemning note on the North Carolina woman's car raises a few issues. First, we shouldn't be so quick to pass judgment on others and secondly, the majority of us just want everyone to play by the same rules.

Don't take up two spaces because you think your car is better than someone else's and don't park in a handicapped space if you are not handicapped!
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Scoot Blog: MLK Day - Do you have a dream?

Everyone should take time today to think about the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - even those who are quick to discredit his life and his purpose. Let's all remember that no man is perfect and even men who are imperfect can bring to the world outstanding messages!

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

Racial segregation in 2015 is not as blatant as it was when blacks were physically segregated with separate schools, water fountains, bathrooms, banned from lunch counters and relegated to the back of public buses, but the progress realized in ending the most obvious aspects of segregation should not make us blind to the continuing, yet more subtle, forms of judgment and discrimination in America.

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

In remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the dreams he had for America, we can all take inventory of our hearts and minds and realize that we are truly in need of people who have dreams for this country.

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

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

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

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

I have a dream that...all Americans that stop instinctively resisting change in this country out of the fear that all change is bad. Change is the basis of everything and change is inevitable. Those who are quick to protest certain changes have reaped the benefits of past changes - so why not embrace change rather than condemn it based on fear.

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

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

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

As a society, we are easily herded into groups, which leads to enhancing our differences rather than celebrating what we have in common. Watching, hearing or reading the news on a daily basis, we can be led to believe that our power to manifest positive change is hopeless. We look to the President and other elected officials to change America for the better, when the real power to change lies within each individual American.

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

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

And that's the message we should focus on as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Scoot: Do Oscar nominees show Hollywood prejudice?

Criticism that Hollywood is prejudiced defies its diverse, liberal image.

An article at the Huffington Post website, a liberal-leaning news site, had an article today titled, "This Will Be The Whitest Oscars since 1998!"

Lauren Duca, author of the article, laments that last year's Oscars was a banner year with a Best Supporting Actress award for Lupita Nyong'o and producer Steve McQueen winning the award for Best Picture for "12 Years a Slave." But she criticizes no nomination for David Oyelowo, the actor who played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in "Selma," and points out that "at least one non-white person has been nominated each year in the 4 acting categories since the last whitest Oscars ever nearly two decades ago."

PHOTOS: 2015 Oscar nominees

Is Hollywood prejudiced? That sounds like a ridiculous question. The Oscars are voted on by people in or close to the movie industry and that is a group considered to be among the most diverse and liberal groups in America.

As 2015 begins, racial tension appears to have reached a new high point and with no non-white actors nominated in the 4 acting categories, a charge of prejudice should come as no surprise. But what is disturbing is the notion that everything involves racism.

The judgment of art and entertainment is subjective. Not everyone agrees on good art, bad art or if a piece of work is even worthy of being called "art." Is it fair to at least ask the question: Are the Oscars prejudiced against people of color, or is it possible that the best performances did not include non-white actors this year?

I saw the movie, "Selma," last weekend and raved about the movie on "The Scoot Show." I wrote a very positive blog this week about why the movie "Selma" is an important movie, but I honestly did not think David Oyelowo's portrayal of Dr. King was so outstanding that an Oscar nomination was certain. Oyelowo was excellent in the role, but perhaps it was the general personality of Dr. King that did not lend itself to attracting the attention of an Oscar nomination.

Oscar nominations and awards are based on acting ability and often it is the nature of the character that inspires the greatest performances. This is not, in any way, criticizing the personality and mission of Dr. King, but I think it's fair to consider that his demeanor was not ideal for an actor to give an award-winning performance. In fact, if an actor had used the role of Dr. King to win an Oscar, the performance would not be a realistic representative of the civil rights leader.

Since the judgment of art is subjective, it is difficult to determine if the exclusion of non-white actors in this year's Oscar nominations is motivated by racial prejudice.

But to say that Hollywood is prejudiced is like suggesting that the Klan is not!
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Scoot: Republican criticizes Obama over Beyonce

Is calling Beyonce' "mental poison" and telling President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama that they should not allow their daughters to listen to her music a good political stance for a Republican Presidential candidate?

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee says of the Obamas, "I don't understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything – how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school – and yet they don't see anything that might be unsuitable" about the lyrics and the choreography of Beyonce' that Huckabee said should be confined to her bedroom. Is this the right political direction for a GOP candidate?

Huckabee recently resigned from the FOX News Channel as he considers another run for the presidency in 2016. The intent of Huckabee's criticism of the Obamas resurrects the mistakes the Republican Party made during the Election of 2012.

The Republican Party witnessed an exodus of young voters, female voters, minority voters and voters that do not subscribe to the ideology of the extreme right, and condemning the parental decisions of the First Family when it comes to pop culture is not going to win back the voters who refused to support the GOP.

As we have discussed on "The Scoot Show" on WWL – the Republican Rout in the mid-term election of 2014 was fueled by focusing on being the party that opposed President Obama – not the party that wanted to infringe on the private decisions of individuals. Social issues were essentially missing from the campaign that was more about political philosophy.

Huckabee may be signaling a return to the social rhetoric that has chased voters from the ranks of Republicans. This could only be seen as positive news for the Democrats.

Mike Huckabee is a member of the Baby Boomer generation – a generation that defined itself by their counterculture trends in music and fashion. There was no question that the song, "Let's Spend the Night Together" by the Rolling Stones in the mid-60s was about young people having sex. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Stones - left little to the imagination. The mini and the micro-mini skirts and hot pants were overtly sexual and worn by even suburb American youth for the sole purpose of expressing sexuality.

When compared to the more vivid and direct lyrics in some music today, it is easy to defend the sexually driven music of the past as benign, but one must compare the content of pop culture in the context of the world in which it thrived.

In the mid-60s, the music, fashion and hairstyles of a young generation was wild, outrageous and believed to be symptomatic of a sexually charged young generation that was out-of-control.

Interestingly, that wild generation of the 60s is today's new Establishment, which is Mike Huckabee's generation. Huckabee is making a mistake by reaching for campaign talk that promotes the concept of the "moral police."

For all those members of today's Establishment who are quick to condemn the entertainment supported by young generations today, your generation was as foreign and frightening to the Establishment at the time as today's young generation is to you.

Rather than appear as a hypocrite – I continue to define myself as a "hostile witness to the Baby Boomer generation!" Care to join me?

Whether the Republican candidate wins the White House in 2016 is dependent on whether the Republican Party is smart enough to divorce itself from any mission to be the "moral police" of America!
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Scoot: Slavery was a long time ago, but Selma was not

(Warning: Do not read this blog unless you are willing to read it with an open mind.)

If I had been old enough and politically aware in 1965 – I would have wanted to join the march from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL. I would have at least sympathized with the reason for the march.

The movie, "Selma," which opened nationwide this past weekend, captures a defining moment in the battle for civil rights in America. "Selma" was co-produced by Oprah Winfrey, who also has a role in the movie. The acting was excellent and the casting brought an authentic feel to the movie. The directing successfully conveyed the tense subject matter and the soundtrack took the audience through the mood changes.

But this blog is not a movie review – it is about the importance of the subject matter at a time when race relations are hitting a new peak in America.

Imagine if you are a conservative and the governor of your state identifies your political affiliation and then proceeds to make it nearly impossible to vote for the sole purpose of making certain that your conservative vote never counts in elections. No one argues that the Constitution guarantees your right to vote – but the governor of your state uses local county (or parish) official to keep you off the voting rolls. Would you demand change?

"Selma" forces us all the face the reality that harsh and violent discrimination against Black Americans is part of our recent history – not our distant past.

On February 3, 1870, the 15th Amendment was ratified prohibiting federal and state governments from denying any citizen the right to vote based on "race, color or previous conditions of servitude." However, in 1964 in the South, Black Americans were essentially barred from registering to vote fearing that the black vote could affect the outcome of elections. Tim Roth, who plays Governor George Wallace, summed up the attitude of the South in a conversation at the White House with President Lyndon Johnson when he said to the President; there is a "certain way we (the South) like to do things."

Five months after the march from Selma to Montgomery, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was federal legislation prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. That legislation demanded the enforcement of the voting rights guaranteed in the 14th and 15th Amendments.

"Selma" seemed more motivated by a quest for authenticity than by Hollywood's instinct to lean on sensationalism. At times, the movie was focused on the content of conversations in meetings, but the nature of the content still kept the audience riveted on the screen. I don't remember going to a movie where the audience was so quiet during an entire film. People were watching and paying very close attention.

The march from Selma to Montgomery took place in 1965 – one year after The Beatles hit America. Every member of the Baby Boomer generation – today's Establishment – witnessed the time in our history. Parents and grandparents, today, grew up during that time and many had personal experience with being physically and emotionally beaten by white police officers representing the government.

Those parents and grandparents have shared their personal view of being black in America with their children and grandchildren and they have shared that perspective with their children. Generations of Black Americans from Baby Boomers to today's youth have been touched by America's unjustified and inhumane past.

Is it any wonder that so much of Black America – and White America – is extremely reactive to the images of white police officers oppressing young black males?

As a radio talk show host on WWL, I often hear listeners demonstrate their lack of understanding of Black America's perception of race relations by saying, "they need to get over it – slavery was over a hundred years ago and I've never owned a slave!"

Slavery was prohibited nearly 150 years ago and Americans today did not own slaves and were not owned as slaves, but the truth that may be difficult for many to accept is that physical and emotional oppression was witnessed by today's Baby Boomers.

Slavery was a long time ago – Selma was not.
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Scoot: Is it wrong to use the term "Muslim terrorists?"

Former presidential candidate and the former head of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, objects to referring to the Paris massacre attackers as "Muslim terrorists." Dean said, "They're about as Muslim as I am. I mean, they have no respect for anybody else's life, that's not what the Koran says." Dean went on to tell MSNBC, "I think ISIS is a cult. Not an Islamic cult. I think it's a cult."

Is it fair to call the gunmen who killed 12 people in Paris in a targeted attack against a satirical publication for mocking the Prophet Muhammad "Muslim terrorists?"

In September, Secretary of State John Kerry used the phrase "Islamic radical groups" when talking about ISIS. He immediately corrected himself by saying, "Islamic is the wrong word – radical religious extremists." The Obama Administration and top administrative officials essentially skirt around using the term "Islamic terrorism" in an effort not to offend Muslims in America and around the world.

It is important to make the distinction between "Islamic terrorists" and Muslims, but there should be nothing wrong with designating the known religion of the radicals or terrorists. Unfortunately, many Americans have been quick to judge all Muslims as terrorists because all of the 9/11 terrorists were Muslim, but if some Muslims are radical terrorists – then shouldn't their religion be a legitimate description?

Does this definition accurately describe Muslim radicals? "Re-orientation towards the root truths of discipleship and may include theological ideas that are considered subversive or extreme and unacceptable to the mainstream religion and the state." That definition is actually a definition for Christian radicalism!

If radical extremists within the Christian faith are designated as "Christian radicals," then it should be acceptable to designate radicals within the Muslim world as "Islamic radicals" or "Muslim terrorists."

Failing to use the word "Muslim" to describe radical terrorists is done to protect all Muslims by pretending that there are no radical terrorists within their religion, but we know that is simply not true.

The cases of Christian radical terrorists include tragedies, like Timothy McVeigh bombing a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 to the 2012 Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre when a Christian radical killed members of the Sikh temple believing they were Muslims by their clothes and beards. But Sikhs are NOT Muslims.

In 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee, a Christian Right sympathizer walked into the Unitarian Universalist Church and opened fire during a children's play – killing 2 and injuring 7 others. It is rarely disputed when the individual responsible for such an act of violence is referred to as a "Christian radical."

If you are a Christian I hope that you do not feel included in any group referred to as "Christian radicals." As a Catholic who defines himself as a Christian, I never allow myself to be offended when any Christian group or Catholic group is labeled and condemned for certain negative behavior. I make the distinction between Christians or Catholics and the use of the word "Christian" or "Catholic" to describe any group or individual that defies my values.

It is important for Muslims and Muslim leaders to feel they are not included in those described as "Islamic radicals" and the only way to assure them that they are not included is for us, Americans, to understand the difference between Muslims and "Islamic radicals."

The Americans whose ignorance leads them to condemn all Muslims is a group I never want anyone else to consider that I am part of that group. That's a perfect example of why it's unfair to judge a group by the behavior and attitudes of a few.

Those who use what little they have heard about the Koran from extremely biased sources and condemn it as a book that promotes evil should look at the Bible and consider how someone not familiar with Christianity might interpret the book they follow!
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Scoot: Paris and the war on freedom of expression

A well-planned terrorist attack in Paris today that killed 12 members of a satirical magazine's staff is the latest attack of freedom of expression.

The publication, Charlie Hebdo, featured the Prophet Muhammad and Islam in politically charged cartoons. In a 2011 cartoon, the publication depicted Muhammad as gay. A more recent cartoon showed a member of ISIS beheading Muhammad.

The controversial nature of the cartoons is certainly not in question – but the retaliation against the staff of the publication is condemned.

For the record, the magazine also published satirical cartoons critical of Catholics, Jews and French politicians that regularly sparked heated controversies.

While many will argue that it was irresponsible for any publication to use the sensitive subjects of a religion in a whimsical cartoon, no one should argue any publication has the right to freedom of expression.

There have been controversies in the past involving various depictions of the Prophet Muhammad that led to threats of violence. The magazine, Charlie Hebdo, had been threatened in the past; in fact, a bodyguard accompanied one of the staff members killed today.

It is the precise calculation of the attack that has attracted so much attention. Three heavily-armed, masked gunmen called out the names of those they targeted for execution and demonstrating the narrow focus of their rage, they allegedly carjacked an elderly man's car without harming him in the process. Was he considered a civilian in the battle against the creators of the controversial cartoons?

This bold daytime attack in the middle of Paris sent a subtle shockwave through the world's media. Most in the media do not feel directly threatened, but the reason for the attack did cause at least a momentary pause to ask questions about what should and should not be published.

The threats of attacking any movie theater that dared show the controversial movie, "The Interview" was another recent attack on freedom of expression that led to many in the entertainment industry to, at least, ask if any content is off limits.

Fighting from freedom of expression in other countries is a little different from fighting for the First Amendment in America, but the free world is affected by attacks on this precious freedom.

Even in America, freedom of expression is often denounced because of offending content. A skit on Jesus on "Saturday Night Live" is a great example of a lack of appreciation for freedom of expression. Condemnation and vocal protests are a far cry from executing the creators of controversial satire, but in theory, we need to consider how sensitive this nation has become to the use of humor to make social and political statements. If you support a French publication's right to present content considered insensitive to some, then you would logically support the freedom in America to the content you may find insensitive.

How do we stop attacks on freedom of expression? We, as a nation and a world community, could decide to stop creating controversial content, but the inherit problem stems from the reality that freedom of expression carries with it the probability of being offensive. There is only a very thin line that divides the acceptable from the unacceptable in the minds of individuals.

It is fair to say that there is a war on freedom of expression and the creators and the audiences that support controversial expression are the soldiers - and the casualties of that war. They should all be honored and revered.

I hope the audiences that consume, and thus, inspire controversy, whether a cartoon, a television show or a movie, will continue to accept their role in the war on freedom of expression.

Will you?
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Scoot: New Year's resolutions for America

The fresh start to every New Year invites the opportunity for all of us to think about changes we would like to make in our lives in the New Year and so the tradition of New Year's resolutions was born.

Today, Monday, January 5, 2015 begins the first full week of the New Year after the chaos of the holidays.

Americans tend to look beyond themselves when criticizing the condition and path of our country. As we think about our individual New Year's resolutions, let us remember that America is nothing more than a collection of the individuals that make up this nation and as a nation we cannot expect to be better or worse than the individuals that make up America.

If every American considered making a few New Year's resolutions – we would become a better America in 2015! So, here are some thoughts on resolutions every American should make – and keep!

Every American should resolve to be open-minded on issues, like freedom of speech. It is a challenge to think before we use stereotypes and preconceived ideas when judging the speech and expression that so many have been conditioned to judge as wrong, when in actuality, it is simply speech or expression we disagree with. If you support the First Amendment – then you also support the speech and expression you do not agree with.

If we do not want to be judged as individuals – then we must not judge – even when the stereotypes created by the media inspire instinctive judgment. Each of us can be categorized as members of various groups with individuals whose actions and behavior could be used to taint the entire group. It's easy to justify the general judgment of every member of any group through the rationale that so many within a particular group behave a certain way and that makes the assumption of guilt of the entire group fair.

Many Americans believe that we, as a nation, are manipulated by the news media. If we are manipulated by the news media, then we have allowed the media to manipulate us! Every American should make a New Year's resolution to understand that the news media is a business with a goal of getting ratings and we cannot allow our personal feelings and opinions to be shaped by the words and images presented by the news media. That require an effort on our part and for many, it is easier to follow a flock.

Every American should resolve at the beginning of this New Year that they will also stop and think before blindly supporting any politician – even the politicians with the political party they are aligned with. The degree of political hypocrisy in America has reached an epidemic level and it is the result of alignment with a group, rather than having the confidence as an individual to form opinions.

But the greatest New Year's resolution every American can make at the beginning of this first full week of 2015 is to accept and demand personal accountability. The one thing we have lost as a nation that is directly related to so many issues, including crime, is a continuing erosion of the concept of personal accountability.

Americans, in general, have become too willing to blame something or someone else for any negative things that happen to them, when in reality, many are responsible for the negative outcomes.

Parents have become quick to blame video games, television shows, movies, music or other outside influences for the negative behavior of their children.

Blaming something or something else for negative outcomes is one sure way of controlling self-esteem. If it isn't my fault – then I can feel better about myself. Blaming outside influences for negative behavior defies what is written in the New Testament – nothing from the outside can make you evil – evil comes from within.

As convenient as it is to play the popular "Blame Game," in most cases individuals are responsible for the things that happen.

Obviously, sometimes something or someone else is to blame – but the tendency to reflect blame has continued to grow in America over the past few decades.

Chances are you reject the idea that you need to make any of the aforementioned New Year's resolutions – but an honest assessment of your initial judgment of others or the temptation to blame others for the negative things that happen may cause you to realize how many times you, too, are in need of making individual changes that will lead to America becoming a better nation in 2015!
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