Thursday, September 01, 2011

Physician, Heal Thyself... Part 683

Looks like everybody in Indiana with a blog has something to say about Andre Carson's foot-in-mouth moment. Me too. Most of what I think about it has already been said by others. From RTV6:

The tea party remarks contrasted those made by Carson earlier this year in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.

"I think we have to recognize that we're all fellow human beings, one, and that we have philosophical differences, but those differences have to be met with some kind of civility," Carson said in that interview with 6News in January.

At the time, Carson said he believed debate should focus on policy and not rhetoric.

"It's unacceptable whether you're Democratic or Republican. We have to sit down and see how we can come together and debate and critique each other with civility, with respect and with honor," Carson said.
I vaguely recalled these words yesterday as I was sifting through the muck. Abdul Hakim-Shabazz pointed out that Rep. Carson would have done well to heed his own words regarding rhetoric in the aftermath of the Giffords shooting. Yep. Physician, heal thyself.

As for everyone else? Indy Star's Matt Tully has some useful insights:

The reaction was typical. Those who have defended overheated rhetoric from the right condemned Carson. Those who have criticized the inappropriate words of tea party members became champions of Carson's irresponsible speech.

Along Tully's lines, here's what I observed yesterday over at Masson's Blog:

Both right and left seem to think that a) Their side doesn’t make this kind of gaffe, b) When their side does, they justify or excuse it, c) When the other side does it they are shocked, Shocked, I tell you! or outraged, or both, and d) go on to explain how the media treats the other side better.

Well, when dehumanizing the other side so regularly, so completely, eventually it always comes back at your side- whichever side that is. Also, the price to be paid for being so vigilant in enforcing political correctness.

As for me, I'm not incredibly shocked nor offended by what Carson said. What gets me is when an individual can use sweeping language to describe large numbers of people. To me, that's the very kernel of racism and bigotry. And, I don't believe people of African descent are immune from being racist. No free passes. This is what Carson is guilty of, in my opinion: Racism, bigotry, generalization, and dehumanization. Does that disqualify one from being in Congress? A these 'gotcha' moments more important than the policies they vote for?

Maybe it's time to stop it with the 'gotchas'. Maybe it's time to stop it with political correctness. We'd do a lot better if we really did just focus on policy. Maybe that's asking too much. Maybe it's too much for me to ask those who demand political correctness of one side to demand it of their side too. Consistency has been woefully hard to come by in my lifetime. I've been pointing out, for instance, since early 2009 the disappearance of the anti-war left. Prior to that, from 2003-2008 I was pointing out the disappearance of the fiscally conservative right.

Yeah. Don't immune your side. Until that happens, we're going to have a LOT of bullshit in this country.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ready Made For Protest Rock

Guitar maker Gibson has been raided again by the Feds, who are on a quest to rid the world of American made guitars with illegally harvest woods. Ebony and Rosewood are the usual suspects.

This is lamentable stuff, overzealous bureaucracy without a shred of common sense, hard at work. But in a way, I kinda like the target. Young people, arty people are not going to rise up if, say, a manufacturer of hardwood flooring is raided, but beloved Gibson? Maker of the venerable Les Paul? The Atlantic has already strung the cognitive dissonance together in an blog post titled, "How To Turn Guitarists Into Tea Partiers", where they mined outrage at online musician forums.
You could spend an entire day reading the fire hose of angry comments on each of these otherwise politically neutral forums. Did Obama just unintentionally lose the guitar-shredding demographic?
It isn't just Gibson that is potentially in trouble. Everybody with a guitar who wants to take it across borders or even state lines, i.e.: every touring band, best be ready for the phrase, "Papers, please." From the WSJ item:

It isn't just Gibson that is sweating. Musicians who play vintage guitars and other instruments made of environmentally protected materials are worried the authorities may be coming for them next.

If you are the lucky owner of a 1920s Martin guitar, it may well be made, in part, of Brazilian rosewood. Cross an international border with an instrument made of that now-restricted wood, and you better have correct and complete documentation proving the age of the instrument. Otherwise, you could lose it to a zealous customs agent—not to mention face fines and prosecution.

John Thomas, a law professor at Quinnipiac University and a blues and ragtime guitarist, says "there's a lot of anxiety, and it's well justified." Once upon a time, he would have taken one of his vintage guitars on his travels. Now, "I don't go out of the country with a wooden guitar."

I'd love to hear from my musician friends on this, as most I know are at least somewhat environmentalist in their thinking. Is this good policy? Is it overzealous law enforcement? Is it the latter because it hits home?

Here's a link to the statement from Gibson's CEO, with a press conference clip on the page.

I tend to think of protection of living species that suffer from commercial harvesting in terms of jersey cows and rhinos, although in this case, let's say black walnut and ebony. Black walnut is legally farmed and harvested, and there is no shortage of the trees. People plant and protect them. Ebony suffers the classic 'Tragedy Of The Commons' in that harvesting is banned, so nobody farms them, and poachers run the risk and cut down the trees. It's really stupid policy. Let farmers be encouraged with financial incentives to plant these trees endlessly. They will nurture and protect the species, just as sure as the jersey cow and the black walnut tree is numerous.