Monday, September 30, 2013

More hot air

So Democrats are all cranky about Republicans trying to starve the federal budget in order to stop Obamacare before it gets entrenched in American society.  They’re talking like Republicans are hostage takers who shouldn’t be appeased, for fear of what they’ll demand next time.

I suppose, also, that the Republicans were asking for it.  When the bill was being discussed, the Democrats would say things like “you’ll have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it,” and would get responses like “I hope they’ll change the things I disagree with, but I’m voting for it anyway.”

It’s more than a little silly, since we’ve had budgetary crises resolved after the government shut down on more than one occasion in recent history with no collapse of civilization or explosion of galaxies, but I am concerned about the elevation of the threat language (see also the recent abrupt introduction of “war on women” talk regarding the Vatican’s longstanding and unchanging teachings on abortion and contraception), about how the landscape has apparently changed from conservatives and liberals being neighbors who could negotiate with each other over differences of opinion on how to achieve goals held in common, to viewing each other as alien powers incapable of dialog who each could only hope to modify the other's behavior.

That’s what alarms me.  Talk isn’t just transparently manipulative and senile to the hypocrisy of the speaker, it’s hostile:  we talk about Islamist terrorist groups this way.  What’s next? 

Sunday, September 01, 2013

The crowding out of childhood

As Mark Shea says, show me a culture that despises virginity, and I'll show you a culture that despises children.

Case #1:  Montana 14-year old Cherice Moralez is raped the first of several times by a teacher at her school, 35 years her senior.  The kind of person who had loved life and living, her mood deteriorated along with her grades, and within a month of her 17th birthday, she kills herself.  The judge, asserting that Moralez was equally in control of the situation along with her attacker, handed down a sentence of 30 days.  The age of consent in Montana is 14.  
I've heard of precocious juveniles accused of heinous crimes being tried as adults, but this is the first time I've heard of it for the victim of a crime.  The purpose of consent laws are in part to protect children who are not quite as mature as they think, from adults who think they are more mature than they are, and from adults who may be deterred by the force of law and to prosecutes adults who aren't, who would defend themselves with arguments like "She seemed older/more mature" or "she wanted to."  I wonder what this judge had in know, having actually gone to law school and all that.
Case #2:  Miley Cyrus does an obscene reprisal of a twerking video she made several months ago, showing the whole world that, just like all those girls before her who used to star in Disney sitcoms, she's not some wholesome tween anymore (if she ever was).  
Granted, she hasn't been a teen star in a while, but Hannah Montana is still her claim to fame.  I get that being typecast can kill a career, but it's not like we haven't seen this to varying degrees before (remember Fergie and Britney Spears).  In fact, working against the relatively wholesome model for the girls of America by doing something outlandish is almost a cottage industry for Disney girls, so it's sort of typecasting in itself.  Maybe the reason they keep trying harder and pushing the envelope younger and younger is audiences (the creepy old guys and the media peddlers, anyway) can always say"Yeah, we were titillatingly scandalized when we forgot that your predecessor had achieved her majority by the time she pulled a stunt like this; what are you going to offer us?"
She didn't even look that good.  She's not an unattractive woman, but they way she was done up?  Lots of skin contrasted to her androgynous mid-80s styling (which wasn't even a good look in the 80s) and uncomfortable facial expressions.  What kind of reaction is that supposed to elicit?
Case #3:  Creepy back-to-school ad campaign from some clothing store that will remain nameless because I've blocked it out.  The one where they show not just tweens but even kids with single-digit ages worrying about what kind of impression they want to make.  I’m not sure it’s bad to depict kids knowing they have some influence over how others perceive them, but it is strange to me to see kids that young being--no, acting--so savvy, and I am sure it’s not good that it’s teaching kids “other people’s opinions of me are worth worrying over,” even if it weren't just as leverage to get kids to manipulate their parents into buying them all the clothes the popular kids are going to be wearing.  Okay, others' opinions are important to the extent that you have to deal with other people, but nine year olds creating and projecting an image that you can put a label on?  That they can demand on the grounds that it will help them be more successful and likable than their parents were?  Come on.  They should hardly be recognizing it when their older siblings do that.