Memorial Day isn't a big deal here. The official beginning of Summer in BC is Victoria Day Weekend, which comes the week before Memorial Day. People go out and open their cabins, or take the boat out for the first trip, or go canoeing (I've seen dozens of canoes on cars in the last week). The corresponding holiday is what the US calls Veterans Day and the Canadians Remembrance Day — November 11th. And it is a big deal. Poppies are sold for a couple of weeks before the day. Dozens of bouquets appear at the memorials (and almost every town has one, or more).
Memorial Day or Remembrance Day would naturally be more significant during or after a war. One expects that a great deal of political pomp and circumstance is being spent today in the States. What hypocrisy for at least half those politicians. Chickenhawks like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush who are shorting the soldiers what they need (body armor, Humvee armor, adequate dental care, adequate troop levels) don't deserve to speak at Memorial Day events.
The voices that should be heard are the voices of the soldiers: male, female, gay, straight, black, white, brown, red, and any other color they can come up with. The soldiers are the ones who count. The ones who matter. They put their lives in jeopardy for the rest of us. Whether we agree with the war or not, there is no excuse for demeaning the soldiers.
So remember the ones no one knows about. Yeah, remember Pat Tillman, but remember the rest too.
I don't know if I'll do this on a regular basis, but here it is. The idea is to take your MP3 player of choice, load all your music, hit randomize, and blog the first 10 songs that come up. I found out about it via feministe. Here we go:
Mon Apero, Edith Piaf
Sunday Girl, Blondie
Chalk Up Another One, Bluegrass Today
If I Was a Carpenter, Leonard Nimoy
Midnight Confessions, Classic Rock: 1968
Casey Jones, Grateful Dead
Don't Make Promises, Joan Baez
Heroes And Villains (Alternate Take), Beach Boys
Till There Was You, Music Man Soundtrack
Lovely (Reprise), Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
As head boy at a legendary choir school, Lawrence Lessig was repeatedly molested by the charismatic choir director, part of a horrific pattern of child abuse there. Now, as one of Americaâ€™s most famous lawyers, heâ€™s put his own past on trial to make sure such a thing never happens again.
...I am always stunned by the warmth of this community (though of course, stunned sometimes by the opposite as well). I had promised myself I would not read the piece, but the comments have forced me to break that promise. John is an amazing writer, and the piece has a rawness that is hard, but perhaps appropriate. (E.g., I rarely swear, though you wouldn't get that impression from the piece.). Three comments below, but first a plea: that we drop the H-word, and B-word (Hero, and Brave — ed) from commentary about this. This is an important social issue because of how ordinary it is in fact; and we need it to be understood to be ordinary, so as to respond in ways that can check, and prevent it.
I don't know what to say. What happened to Lessig and Hardwicke and the other children is monstrous. That the state is attempting to shield the school from prosecution is equally horrendous.
I've known people who don't see a problem with "consensual" sexual relationships between adults and teens. I saw an organization disintegrate (partly) over that issue, and whether the organization was responsible for policing such relationships. I drew a line between those who would engage in such relationships and those who would tolerate them. Right now I think I was wrong to draw that line: tolerance is complicity.
I've never met Lawrence Lessig, although we've traded emails. I think this hits me harder because he is more real to me than some random person I've never corresponded with. On the one hand that's unfair, on the other it's very reasonable: we learn from our connections. Just as a known gay person becomes representative of all gay people, a known victim of sexual abuse becomes representative of all victims. He's not the only victim of sexual abuse I know, either, although he's the most prominent in the outside world. I've offered to try and find the abuser of someone close to me so that we can kick his ass many decades later, but was turned down. I'm not sure that's a good thing.
This is a societal problem. It's not just the Catholic Church and choir schools &8212; it's all of us. Victims of abuse are more likely to grow up and abuse. They're more likely to abuse drugs (legal and illegal) and they're more likely to abuse other people. Lessig is a sterling and exceptional example of an abuse victim who's achieved at a high level -- many abuse victims underachieve for the rest of their lives, as John Hardwicke seems to be. Society is the loser. We lose because we pay the bills for abuse: hospital bills and school costs and police overtime. We lose because of the lost potential of the victims: John Hardwicke might have been a great scientist, or the leader of a new political movement, or even just a well-adjusted and happy citizen of the U.S.
I ramble. I'm too upset to coordinate and order my thoughts. I want to be able to do something about this. Maybe I can write more coherently later.
I do know that both Lessig and Hardwicke deserve both the H word and the B word, so I'll say it. They are both Heroes, and they are both being very Brave.
Social aspects of technology are often fascinating. Who would have imagined that cheap copying machines would lead to photocopying your butt, for instance? ARPA never envisioned blogging, chatrooms, Flikr, three versions of virtualbubblewrap, or Friday Cat Blogging. Thomas Edison didn't envision porn videos when he created the phonograph.
People find interesting ways to use and abuse technology. Who among us (that carries a cell phone) hasn't had to consider whether to answer it right now or not? I spent years carrying a work-related pager before I stopped being frantic about calling people back and acquired the mantra "this is refuse-able communication" -- now I tell people that email is the best way to get hold of me because it allows me to set my own priorities (although it also allows for the occasional embarrassing loss of an email message).
Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this--in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas.(5) Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
So far as "you would not hear of that party again", check out the USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll. As of 20-22 May, Shrub's overall approval is 46%, down from 50% on 2-5 May and 4-7 April. 40% approve on the economy, down from 50% on 4-6 February. 44% approve on Foreign Affairs, down from 50% on 25-27 February (and 70% May 20-22 2002!). 40% approve on Iraq, down from 50% on 4-6 February (and 76% on 14-16 April 2003). 33% approve on Social Security, down from 47% on 22-24 March 2002. The only place he's above water is with a 55% approval rating on Terrorism, down from a recent high of 60% on 25-27 February and 83% on 20-22 May 2002.