Monday, December 31, 2012

Loss of Innocents

     At year’s end, we cannot avoid some somber reflections on the Sandy Hook children. The actual deaths of the children and staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, were only the first notes in a cacophony of pain and despair. For the parents, it will be unending. We should expect the parents of the children to be beyond consolation for months; many of them will be barely functional in life for years; I cannot imagine any of them will ever fully heal. If I were among them, I would find unforgivable the fact that no one at the school was prepared to stop the shooter.

     Apparently, Principal Dawn Hochsprung did confront him. It was an act of unusual bravery. Of course, she was unarmed. Of course, she was also killed. Had she been armed and trained herself, some number of dead children might now be alive. This is the heart of the argument for the concealed carry permit. Concealed Carry saves lives.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cosmos for Christmas

“Here is a chimera, a new and very odd species come shambling into our universe, a mix of Stone Age emotion, medieval self-image, and godlike technology. The combination makes the species unresponsive to the forces that count for its own long-term survival.”
—E. O. Wilson, The Creation

“We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself.”
—Carl Sagan, Cosmos

     Christmas is a time of exquisite music and beautiful sentiments, regardless of one’s religion. For those of us among the freethinking quintile of the population, whether atheist, agnostic, or deist, the holiday has a different bouquet. Like Christians, some of us savor the nostalgia of Christmases past. In some cases, because of the tradition of families coming together, we recall times when people we loved were still alive. Perhaps there is also the memory of a favorite carol, or a small tradition, or even a lost recipe. Still, the freethinker is always something of an outsider. The birth of a savior who will redeem all Man’s inhumanity to Man, through his own self-sacrifice, is at best attractive mythology. At worst, it calls to mind the moral ambiguity of a deity that requires sacrifices in the first place. Nonetheless, it has been said that the spirit of goodwill is more potent during the Christmas season than any other. To the extent this is true, the holiday remains an example of the good religion can do. There is, however, more in the ledger to complete the accounting.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath

Dangerous Reactionary Refusing to Abandon Wicked Tradition
     According to the Catechism of Political Correctness, all traditions are wicked, oppressive, and unhealthy. They must be thrown out. Not only that, they must not even be portrayed in literary or historical context without disclaimers. Better yet, just re-write the literature and re-paint the paintings so that innocent children are not fooled into thinking traditions are acceptable.

     Case in point: A certain busybody has decreed, on her own authority, that St. Nicholas has put away his tobacco pipe for good. He has given up smoking. The busybody has removed two lines from the Clement Moore poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and commissioned a new illustration of Santa without his signature “stump of a pipe.”

     It just never ends. The only thing I can think to do is light up a bowl of Rattray’s Old Gowrie and cherish one petty vice while it is still legal.  The clock is ticking.