Thursday, April 23, 2009

Torture By Any Other Name, Would Be Just As Wrong!

Pronunciation: \ˈtȯr-chər\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French, from Old French, from Late Latin tortura, from Latin tortus, past participle of torquēre to twist; probably akin to Old High German drāhsil turner, Greek atraktos spindle
Date: 1540

1 a: anguish of body or mind: AGONY
b: something that causes agony or pain

2: the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure

Water Boarding**

A technique that consists of immobilizing the victim on his/her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. By forced suffocation and inhalation of water, the subject experiences drowning and is caused to believe they are about to die. As early as the Spanish Inquisition it was used for interrogation purposes, to punish and intimidate, and to force confessions.
In contrast to submerging the head face-forward in water, water boarding precipitates a gag reflex almost immediately. The technique does not inevitably cause lasting physical damage. It can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, ultimately, death. Adverse physical consequences can start manifesting months after the event; psychological effects can last for years.

Let’s be clear, water boarding is torture. It has always been torture and it will always be torture. It doesn’t matter who is doing it or why it’s being done. There is no debate (or at least there shouldn’t be) on this issue. It is a fact and facts are not subjective. Like humans need air to breathe, a technique where a person is not getting that air to breathe (i.e. drowning) causing that person pain and /or agony is by definition, torture. So stop asking if water boarding torture. We should be asking if America does (or has done) torture. Well, America does (or has done) water boarding. So…There goes that moral high ground on which we were so precariously perched.

*via Merriam-Webster Online
** via Wikipedia

Monday, April 20, 2009

...Because No One Would Be Able To Take It!

For as long as there have been schools, there has been bullying. In the old days it would usually be one or two individuals terrorizing the rest of the smaller, weaker population (for fun, lunch money, and the like). As time went on, there would be individuals that were (some might say arbitrarily) designated the punching bag of an entire class (or in worse case scenarios, an entire school).

People rarely take the time to consider what a toll that kind of constant torment will do to the mental and emotional states of these kids. Man was not built for constant emotional trauma and when subjected to it, man will often times take extreme measures in an attempt to cope. Imagine have to go to your own personal hell everyday and feel like there is no way out, except for…

I am speaking on this from experience, but not the way that you might be thinking. I wasn’t bullied much when I was in elementary school and when I entered junior high (and eventually, senior high) I made friends (acquaintances/associates) easily. While I wasn’t among the most popular kids in my class, I certainly was not a social outcast. I was not the class punching bag, but I knew the ones who were and I must confess that I am guilty throwing a few jabs myself (actually, more than a few if memory serves me). See, I am speaking from the standpoint of a former bully.

Like most people (lets be honest here folks) I have participated in the mob harassment of the designated social outcast. There were a few occasions where I would be the ring leader of said torment. Hell, even a few of the teachers joined in on the act (the bully mentality doesn’t stop upon graduating high school). I remember when I was in 7th grade, things got so bad that the guidance counselor had to go class to class to discuss bullying and its effects with all the students. A zero-tolerance policy was implemented in regards to bullying.

What was the impetus for such a policy? It turns out that one my classes favorite victims, was on the verge of a mental break. Things had gotten to the point where this person simply couldn’t take it anymore. She would go to school but not attend any classes. Instead she would hide all or most of the day in the bathroom in order to escape her tormentors (us) and lamenting her situation. She began to see no reason for living, that’s when school officials stepped in and implemented the new (long overdue) policy.

The damage was already done, though. The girl that we arbitrarily decided would be the symbol of everything that we deemed to be undesirable. She still didn’t have many friends and though the bullying was not tolerated during school, the school officials could do little about the bullying outside of school. No, she did not commit suicide, but there was not a happy ending for her either (as far as I know). She instead opted to drop out of school a few years later, a move that she no doubt felt was better than sticking around and putting up with our childish nonsense. The last time I saw her, she was living a life common to high school drop outs (not a good one, I assure you). I don’t know what she is doing now, but I do wonder at times.

We often teach our kids how to not be bullied or how to deal with bullies. Maybe…no, we definitely need to start teaching our kids about how not to be bullies themselves. When I think about the torment that drove eleven year old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, to hang himself in his room, I think about that girl and how I didn’t have to be one of the A-holes in the crowd (in other words, a coward). I think about how I will teach my kids to be kinder and braver than I was.

Now I am by no means perfect. I can’t fool myself into thinking that I am completely reformed, but I’m not as bad as I used to be and events like the tragedy that occurred last week, remind me that I need to be better. I mean, I think I get it now. I believe I know why we as human beings (especially kids) shouldn’t dish out constant negative energy to those who don’t fit in. Because, if we were the outcasts, we wouldn’t be able to take it either.


*Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover (April 17,1997-April 13, 2009). May Angels Lead You In.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Parties, Taxes, And Tea Bagging...Lots And Lots Of Tea Bagging!

Someone help me out. What is this tea-party stuff all about, really? I mean, I think I understand the theme. Back in the 1770's a bunch of well to do land owners from Boston, dressed up as Native Americans, and dumped a bunch of imported tea into the Boston harbor, because they were protesting "taxation without representation". So today's tea baggers are protesting taxation without representation? No, that doesn't sound right. It has to be something much more relevant, right?!

It turns out they are protesting tax increases (which is not happening for a majority of Americans), BIG Government, that huge bailout bill that was passed a couple of months ago, and (let's be honest) Obama himself. Where was the outrage over big government spending, failed economic policies, and (yes) huge bailouts (with little oversight I might add) under the Bush Administration? Maybe the difference was that it wasn't a black man doing all of this to (for) America (I'm just thinking out loud here). I'm going to call bovine excrement on this one, but I'll wait until the end of the day to see how successful this whole "thing" was.

A word to the wise, just because you tea baggers are supposedly protesting taxes doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay them (unless you’re willing to take the protests to the level of civil disobedience and risk jail time for tax evasion).


Poetry Session #4

Here's a haiku summing up my feelings in regards to current events these past couple of weeks:

I hate tea parties
News bigger than pirates is-
Obama's new dog


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Checks, Balances, And All That Jazz!

Why can’t more Senators and Representatives (from both wings of political thought and the bird in between) present their arguments for or against something with the thoughtfulness and conviction of Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)? I'm not saying that I agree with all of his views, but I admire how he expresses them and how he (claims) to listen to and debate the opposing views of his colleagues. If the House and Senate had more people along with that of political reasoning and independent thought, we'd still have vigorous debate, but we'd also have a lot less the foolishness (and phony outrage?) that we are treated with every day.

Here's Specter on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" showing his support for Obama's plan for the reduction of nuclear arms and the need to sometime buck the party line in the interest of the nation and his state:

It refreshing to know that there are still politicians out there who still try to maintain independent thought despite the leanings of their political party. I'm curious, what are the names of some other politicians that who stay true to themselves (politically) no matter what their friends and opponents say? (Obama is an obvious choice so he doesn't count)


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The April First Post

Its April 1st and in the spirit of this wonderful day I give you the video below, becuase it's got to be a joke....right?!

I mean, is it April 1st every day at Fox News. C'mon let a brother in on the joke!

My response to this was the following: