A Response to the Connecticut School Shooting

Among the various news reports I read summarizing the tragedy at Sandy Hock Elementary, the Connecticut school shooting, I also read a CNN article asking readers to reply to the question: How do we stop the violence? I think this is the right question to ask.

I thought I’d offer some of my own thoughts and opinions surrounding the increasingly common shootings and violence in our country. There are already a number of opinions floating around, but I think it’s important we each add our respectful voice and listening ears so that we can come up with effective solution(s) to this escalating national problem.

A number of tweets on my feed talked about gun control (for and against). Some proposed that responding to the tragedy with politics wasn’t appropriate and wouldn’t be effective. Others said that today isn’t the day debate gun control–yesterday was.

I’m going to do my best to take a principles based approach as I try to answer the question How do we stop the violence?

While I’ve never been engrossed in the debate about gun control, I don’t think it’s the answer to this problem. The premise behind this argument seems to suggest that we stop allowing people to own guns–maybe we even stop producing them at a far extreme–because if people don’t have guns then their will be no shootings which means less deaths and less violence. But that premise seems flawed to me. There’s always someone who will own a gun. Those who want to get a gun badly enough will find a way. And if we increase gun control to extreme limits, it seems we leave ourselves defenseless. Arguably guns are NOT the best and only means of defense. Furthermore, take a look at what happened with the prohibition of alcohol and what’s currently happening with druck trafficking.

I’m not an economist, but let me see I can appropriately recall the problem with illegal drugs. By banning drugs we have effectively created a black market that allows thugs to get rich because they can charge a high price for illegal drugs. And now we are forced to use our tax dollars to try and stop these criminals. Take the word of economists who can put it more eloquently: Saving Mexico and The Economics of Illegal Drugs.

In the 40 years since U.S. President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” the supply and use of drugs has not changed in any fundamental way. The only difference: a taxpayer bill of more than $1 trillion.

I’m not sure how valid the first point is, that the war on drugs hasn’t changed fundamentally, but it seems sound to me.

Because governments make drugs illegal, the risk associated with transporting them translates to high rewards for those willing to take that risk.

I bring the illegal drug trade up because I believe the economic principles behind drug trafficking will apply similarly to gun control should we ban guns or push to that extreme. Regardless of the flaws in that argument, I believe we as a people must look deeper and I think we are starting to more and more as these issues intensify.

As a segue into my main point, I’d like to cite the comments of a few people who responded to the CNN article I mentioned earlier. The first commenter made these points:

1. Quit sensationalizing the tragedy.

2. Never mention the perpetrator’s name, let them die in an anonymity.

3. Focus only on helping the families of the tragedy.

4. Never discuss what the perpetrator’s motive was; they did what they did, never give justification to their means, never let their ends be met.

5. Quit believing that any form of weapon control will ever make things “safe”, it will not. Guns, Fertilizer, Gasoline, Knives, Baseball Bats, Kitchen and Bathroom Chemicals the list is infinite; bad people will do bad things, the only real control one can hope for is taking away whatever motivation or reward the person has for doing them, and even then, they may try.

I think these points are valid, though they are double edged. In a sense, the press is sensationalizing the tragedy. By sensationalizing the tragedy it seems to validate it, which may be one reason why we are seeing an increase in the number of these tragedies. I wouldn’t name it a primary reason, but it seems to send the message to other potential mass murderers that they will get publicity and send their message to wider audience if they do something terrible and tragic. Furthermore, the CNN article I read labeled the Connecticut tragedy as, and I quote:

…the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind only the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead.

To me, this almost turns it into a kind of sick competition where 32 is the number to beat.

To add to the commenter’s 5th point, perhaps guns are the chosen weapon because of their ease of access relative to the damage they can inflict. But what happens if we make them less accessible? I don’t think killers will go for baseball bats, but bombs and other weapons seem pretty likely if they want to inflict massive damage. This reminds of a point made in the illegal drug trafficking articles:

Governments also have a hard time stopping the drugs trade because, like any good business, trafficking organizations innovate and adapt. Mexican customs has stumbled upon a long list of ingenious methods to transport cocaine, including one shipment of liquefied cocaine smuggled in red wine bottles. Another recent bust yielded 800 kilos of cocaine–worth an estimated $40 million–stuffed inside a batch of frozen sharks.

After Mexico restricted the importation of pseudoephedrine to slow the manufacture of methamphetamines, drug gangs found another way to make the drug using different, unrestricted chemicals widely used in the perfume industry. “I’ve always thought these guys had a good research and development arm,” says one exasperated Mexican official.

Another commenter made these points:

Instead of the easy knee jerk reaction, perhaps we should be looking at all of the other things, besides guns, these case have in common.

1-A vast majority of these shooters are between the ages of 16 and 26.
2-They are narcissists
3-They enjoy violent video games and movies.

We have raised an entire generation on the theory that we must protect their self-esteem at all costs. Then, while mom and dad had better things to do, we sat them in front of Grand Theft Auto and completely desensitized them to violence.

So, if we stop shielding kids from every possible disappointment in life, so that when they face one, they are prepared for it; if we take the XBox away once in awhile; and if we actually talk to our kids occasionally, we might prevent some of this crap.

Further down the list a commenter brings up the issues of bad home life for children with irresponsible parents, the lack of morals taught in the home, increasing divorce rates of the last decades, abortion, etc. While I don’t think everything he said is correct, I do agree with some of his points. In reply to him another commenter wrote:

You must be delusional if you think more unwanted children wouldn’t simply lead to a higher population of the “individuals” you write about. It’s not about divorce; it’s not about abortion; and it is definitely not about mothers being absent; it’s about mental health.

After that, the Bible debate erupted. Some ask if the Bible is really a good source for moral issues when its filled with violence and unrealistic stories? Others counter. We could go through the list of comments and debate each point much like the replies in that column, but I’ll get to my point and my opinion.

The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments.

We continue to turn to the government and politics to solve our problem. Government is so much more limited than the sum efforts of each individual. External controls are NOT the best answer. External controls are not the answer to a problem that is rooted in the psychological and emotional conditions of human beings, in addition to their morals and beliefs surrounding the purpose of life. They are an answer that may or may not change things for the better in the short run, but they are not the most effective long-term solution.

I do NOT agree with the commenter who argued the problem is essentially mental health. Mental health goes deeper than gun control but it is not the sole issue here. It is a result of an even deeper issue I believe.

Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior.

And I add that focusing on mental health from a sociological, psychological, or purely scientific view will not fix the problem either. We have to take action that will more effectively and permanently change human behavior.

As a deeply religious individual I believe we must necessarily emphasize a return to God in some form or another. I think a majority of the religions in this world (maybe excluding some highly extreme religions) teach about the importance of life, that life has a purpose, that we should love one another, that we should refrain from lust, violence, selfishness, hate and anger.

As a more balanced commenter pointed out not all of us know at this point what the Newtown, CT shooter’s home life was like. Maybe he his parents neglected to teach him morals that emphasized the value of life, maybe not. Maybe he played violent video games and watched violent films all day, maybe not. Maybe he read about previous shootings in the press that influenced his decision to commit mass public murder, maybe not.

At any rate, I personally believe that the world is increasingly turning away from God and turning to themselves and relying on the fundamentals of science for the answers without leaving room for a more powerful Creator or Father in Heaven. While I obviously cannot prove causality, I think this correlates with the increase in violence. Additionally, I believe we are seeing the traditional family lose its significant role as the foundation of society.

It is my personal opinion and appeal to any readers that we should focus more efforts on understanding the meaning of life and seeking some sort of greater power that can influence us for good. Furthermore, that we should emphasize the teaching of sound moral principles that value life to children and youth of all ages. And lastly, that we should share any of our findings with those around us and encourage them to do the same.

My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones due to the Connecticut school shooting. My prayers go out to them as well in addition to those who are asking “why.” May we all seek and find greater understanding. May greater peace and love abound in our communities and countries.

iPad Mini vs. Kindle Fire HD

I noticed that Amazon.com is taking advantage of a direct product comparison with the iPad Mini. Smart move on their part and good advertising tactic. Go for that swing group!

Amazon Kindle Fire HD - Much More for Much Less

Apparently it’s not iPad Mini vs. Android tablet, but iPad Mini vs. Kindle Fire HD.

Amazon highlights the key characteristics that standout against the iPad Mini: price and pixel density. It even went as far as to be redundant just to drive the point home. Notice the first two points are basically a restatement of pixel density (verbal vs. numerical) and are very similar in argumentative premise. The Kindle Fire also boasts wifi that is 41% faster than the new iPad (purportedly). The quote by Gizmodo adds a nice touch of ethos, though I’m not sure how much validity it really adds.

I stumbled upon an article comparing the new iPad Mini to the Kindle Fire HD. It had some good points. But some of the arguments were bolazo (that’s Uruguayan for nonsensical).

I like Apple products a lot. In general, I think they are well designed. I’ve had a better experience with my MacBook than any other previously owned laptop. Granted your newest product is going to be a better experience than the last (hopefully); however, there are things I just love about my MacBook that I didn’t get with my PCs. I’ve mentioned a lot of them before (trackpad, gestures, Preview, among other things). Of course this is just my preference. Some people hate gestures. I could throw money at them and they would want nothing to do with it, let alone a MacBook.

Back to my point. There are some arguments in the article that are flat out terrible. For example, the author suggests that “[Apple] has gotten away with selling what are essentially commodity products at an extremely high premiums by establishing a strong brand that has embedded in the general population the image of superiority.” The kind of technology Apple sells is not a commodity. This guy is writing like a first-world-ian. The only way in which Apple products are like commodities is that when the price goes up, fanboys and fangirls still buy them. Other than that iPods, iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, etc. are not commodities. Tablets and smart phones in general are not commodities. Ridiculous. On the flip side, Apple has managed to “get away with”, or better said, successfully been able to sell their products at high prices because of the loyal consumer base they have grown as a result of branding, marketing, design and a host of other strategies.

Later the author makes this statement: “In short, while the Apple software ecosystem is closed and very rich today, Android will reach parity and even surpass the richness of the iOS world going forward, eliminating the software ecosystem advantage that Apple can use to justify its higher prices for inferior hardware.” Wow! Google, you should really pay this guy more. …

This is taking me back to my previous rant on journalism a little bit. At this point the author’s persuasive pitch left me unconvinced and I stopped reading. And it’s not because he claims “Android will reach parity and even surpass” iOS. That may very well happen. May the best product “win.” But inferior hardware? Talk about a sweeping generalization of Apple products.

The iPad Mini may not meet the mark of the Kindle Fire HD in pixel density and screen resolution, and I personally think it would have been better to include the Retina display, but to label the rest of the Apple suite as inferior is absurd. Apple is paving the way for higher screen resolution, something that I know has pushed a number of people into the Apple product sphere. Are their products perfect? Obviously not. I think many of us, myself included, have questioned and wondered about some of their strategic decisions. Perhaps I’m focusing on the minor details of his article too much, but he really could have done better in crafting his argument.

I guess my main point is some times I’m a bit struck at the persuasive arguments people conjure up, and yet they fail or choose not to look at the bigger picture. That’s the ugly side of the Internet. We have this glorious tool where people can express themselves. Yet some people, often people who hit the front page of the Internet (Google Search, page 1, in all it’s query-able varieties) just can’t write a well-rounded argument. I suppose they don’t have to and they won’t, especially if they have an agenda (i.e. drive traffic to their site, etc.). What also bugs me is the thought of people accepting their words at face value.

This goes beyond this one insignificant post. It stretches out to articles and media productions on politics, religion, finance, and just about everything else. I hope that people research and investigate for themselves, that they read other articles from different sources, that they work the numbers and check the stats. I think part of the reason I’ve been thinking about this is because I know I’ve fallen into these traps before and I’m sure I write articles that miss important points. Furthermore, a lot of people never care to check the facts and they begin to form solid opinions on topics they know little of other than the fodder that one Internet farmer has fed them.

It’s the same with news on the TV. I can’t stand watching news on TV because of all the political bias and other garbage. And yet I know people who watch the same news station night after night (mostly people from an older generation). Diversification isn’t only an investment principle. I believe it’s enables us to seeing the bigger picture and to develop a more sound understanding of the world around us.

End rant. All in all, I both liked and disliked the way Amazon called out Apple on their front page. It was bold and daring. In a sense, it showed consumers “the truth” about the iPad Mini versus the Kindle Fire HD, albiet biased advertising.

At the same time, I thought the front page comparison was petty. It sorta reminded me of laundry detergent ads, even though in this case it’s more factual. It also reminded me of the Samsung ads. “The next big thing is already here.” This kind of advertising is amusing and can be effective (especially when focusing on the swing group), but there is a higher plane of advertising.

When you have to stoop down to try and show consumers you are better than the competitor by comparing yourself to the competitor’s product, you know you aren’t reaching for that higher plane. Your product should sell itself by showing consumers how it delivers what is most valued and how it fits who they are.

Typical Journalism & Consumerism

Typical Journalism

It doesn’t take much to be a typical journalist. Beyond the basics of good grammar and vocabulary, it seems like all you have to do is pick a topic readers want to read about and then come up with a persuasive argument. So many people are easily swayed because they are looking for validation of their own opinions. It’s not hard to persuade these kinds of people, especially when it comes to dichotomous views. So it is with bi-partsan politics.

So it is with the new Apple iPhone or the new Samsung/HTC Android phone. I found a lot of the tech news surrounding the release of the iPhone 5 intriguing. So many haters. So many people saying they are let down. “It’s basically the same phone.” “Apple is copying Samsung.” I must admit, I too found myself caught in the wave of disappointment at first, mostly due to the early leaks. When you’ve already seen the leaked videos on YouTube and then you watch the actual release, you feel like the birthday guy/gal showing up to the surprise party you already knew about. Nobody likes that. Everybody feels let down.

It’s tough to put a cap on all that when there’s so much hype about your product. IMO, few other companies have been able to pull-off what Apple has done in the past, building up significant hype about their product. Notably, this can be good or bad, depending on how people take it. In the past, it seems like it’s been mostly good. This time around, not so much maybe.

One reason why there’s so much hype is because Apple has such a cult-like following in addition to the cult-like opposition which only adds to the attention. These audiences have only become more polarized over the years. This may be my biased point of view, but I haven’t been as impressed with other companies’ product releases (e.g. Microsoft Surface). Honestly, I’m stoked to see the Surface in the hands of consumers. As an aside, I think the new Windows Phone is pretty sweet. Hopefully they can gain some traction in the marketplace and bring developers on board. To me, that means Microsoft made a worthwhile product. More power to them.

Typical Consumerism

Your average consumer is great at what they do: consume. Consumers demand the best. They demand a consistent return or better. If you deliver amazing results once, you better deliver even better the next time.

Consumers are also superficial. They don’t think about what goes into product. They only care about what the product does and what it looks like. Most consumers don’t even understand half of the technical mumbo jumbo, they just want to see bigger numbers (3.5″ –> 4.0″ or A5 –> A6 or 4 –> 5 and don’t you dare think about adding an “S” to the end of my product because that means it’s just an upgrade and it should have been there in the first place!!!). Most consumers can’t even fathom what goes into the development of a product. I’m pretty confident the designers at Apple put a lot of thought into the changes they made. It’s like doubling your processing capabilities and making the screen bigger isn’t enough anymore.

Maybe we should demand more of Apple. Maybe they can do better. Sometimes I wish they would change more myself. Everybody loves a cool, new look. But I’m not sure how realistic that is. Sounds more like being a typical consumer.

Some times I wish they would change iOS up a bit and (going back to the old PC argument) make it a bit more customizable. I feel a bit overloaded by icons and the screens. I don’t like the groups much some times either. Regardless, I don’t see Android as a way better alternative. Windows Phone just seems fresh, different, and newer; not better necessarily. There are plenty of other things I like about the iPhone anyway.

Conclusion

I think Apple could have stepped up their game in some aspects. Why didn’t they have turn-by-turn navigation 1-2 years ago? I don’t know. I’ll tell you how much I’ve missed it once I have it. Otherwise, I’m over it. Whenever I’m with people that have it, I find it annoying and obnoxious. Maybe I’ll change my mind. Why is Apple finally going bigger on the screen? There’s many answers for that depending on who you ask. Is Apple boring? Is Apple a copy cat? There’s lots of answers to those kinds of questions too. Dan Lyon says Apple Has Become BoringJohn Gruber says Apple Is Still Exciting. MG Siegler says it’s all in the Turn. You can also look at the lawsuit results or who had the bigger screen first. There’s an answer from both sides. It’s all subjective.

Overall, I’m sure the iPhone 5 will be another great success, just like the iPhone 4, which continued to sell like hot cakes despite the antenna issues. Is it better than the latest Android phone (or the new Windows Phone for that matter)? Meh, that’s subjective. Are its tech specs comparable? Yes. Am I going to buy a new iPhone 5? Probably. I’ll probably sell my iPhone 4 for $300 and get the iPhone 5 for $300. I’ll break even and get a sweet new phone? Why not!? I got nothing against Android. I’ve never owned one. You like Android? You think it’s better? So buy one. You like PCs? So buy one. I’m more of a fence sitter when it comes to technology. I mostly fall on whichever side I like and stick there until I find really compelling reasons to switch. I venture out and try out the new stuff, but if it’s not blowing my socks off, I see no need to switch right away.

One of the most amusing conversations I had surrounding the iPhone 5 went something like this:

Dude: So what do you think of the new iPhone 5?
Me: I don’t know. It seems pretty cool. I’ll probably get one.
*Momentary Silence*
Dude: You should just get an Android phone.

It was as if the disappointment surrounding the new iPhone 5 was so universal that it clearly meant it was an inferior phone, that it was a no-brainer to NOT buy one, and he was expecting me to say that I wasn’t impressed and that I wasn’t going to get one. Well truth is, I wasn’t jumping up and down when I first saw it, but that’s because I was sucked into the perspective of a typical consumer…and I wasn’t surprised. Happens.

It’s like people are looking for validation that their phone (or some other device, methodology, practice, sports team, or whatever) is better so they tell you to make the switch, or they tell you all the reasons why your _________ is terrible and theirs is better. Takes me back to the put-downs that are so profuse in grade school. Classic way to make yourself feel better. It’s a good tactic really. For those who need that kind of self-reassurance. Check yourself. I know I’ve been guilty.

Fact is haters gonna hate. Typical journalism. Typical consumerism.

Ray Bradbury, Censorship, Prejudice & Opinion

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451I just finished re-reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for the second time. Last time I read it, I was probably barely 12 and didn’t understand much of the author’s message. Furthermore, I probably didn’t have enough context or experience in life to be sufficiently enlightened or extract greater understanding. However, this time around, I was able to read the novel with my wife and discuss the themes and message with her. In addition, since my first read, I’ve experienced a bit more and developed more of an opinion about the world in general and some of the trends of the times. I wish to make some commentary on those trends. I perceive I may be walking on thin ice, thus I emphasize that this is my humble, simple opinion. My intention is not to offend or debase anyone.

But before I give my opinion, allow me to quote the author’s own words. At the end of  Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury gives some final thoughts on the message implied in a separate section entitled “Coda”:

About two years ago, a letter arrived from a solemn young Vassar lady telling me how much she enjoyed reading my experiment in space mythology, The Martian Chronicles.

But she added, wouldn’t it be a good idea, this late in time, to rewrite the book inserting more women’s characters and roles?

A few years before that I got a certain amount of mail concerning the same Martian book complaining that the blacks in the book were Uncle Toms and why didn’t I “do them over”?

Along about then came a note from a Southern white suggesting that I was prejudiced in favor of the blacks and the entire story should be dropped.

Two weeks ago my mountain of mail delivered forth a pipsqueak mouse of a letter from a well-known publishing house that wanted to reprint my story “The Fog Horn” in a high school reader.

In my story, I had described a lighthouse as having, late at night, an illumination coming from it that was a “God-Light.” Looking up at it from the view-point of any sea-creature one would have felt that one was in “the Presence.”

The editors had deleted “God-Light” and “in the Presence.”

How did I react to all of the above?

By “firing” the whole lot.

By sending rejection slips to each and every one.

By ticketing the assembly of idiots to the far reaches of hell.

The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book [emphasis added]. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian / Zen Buddhist, Zionist / Seventh-day Adventist, Women’s Lib / Republican, Mattachine / Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blancmange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.

Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the libraries closed forever [emphasis added].

I sent a play, Leviathan 99, off to a university theater a month ago. My play is based on the “Moby Dick” mythology, dedicated to Melville, and concerns a rocket crew and a blind space captain who venture forth to encounter a Great White Comet and destroy the destroyer. My drama premieres as an opera in Paris this autumn. But, for now, the university wrote back that they hardly dared to do my play–it had no women in it! And the ERA ladies on campus would descend with ball-bats if the drama department even tried!

Grinding my bicuspids into powder, I suggested that would mean, from now on, no more productions of Boys in the Band (no women), or The Women (no men). Or, counting heads, male and female, a good lot of Shakespeare that would never be seen again, especially if you count lines and find that all the good stuff went to the males!

For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan, or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conservationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent type-writers. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter they mush milk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my “Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” so it shapes “Zoot,” may the belt unravel and the pants fall.

For, let’s face it, digression is the soul of wit. Take philosophic asides away from Dante, Milton or Hamlet’s father’s ghost and what stays is dry bones. Laurence Sterne said it once: Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading! Take them out and one cold winter would reign in every page. Restore them to the writer–he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids them all-hail, brings variety and forbids the appetite to fall.

In sum, do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the lung deflations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hand to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whisper with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book.

All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It’s my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset, I’ve won or lost. At sunrise, I’m out again, giving it the old try.

And no one can help me. Not even you.

–Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451. “Coda.” 1979.

Getting to My Point: An Opinion

I believe Ray Bradbury’s point is quite clear. We should not censor the words, opinions or perceptions of others. We are all entitled, or should be entitled, to voice our interpretation of a matter. And let me add, we should be able to do so without being persecuted. I can respect and admire an appropriate rebuttal or disagreement. But minority or not, we should not think ourselves so disadvantaged or disgraced by the words of another that it is our duty to retort contemptuously. Furthermore, to get offended at the opinion of another is to validate that very opinion and, thus, is senseless altogether. “A man’s a fool who takes an insult that isn’t intended.”

Ray limits his argument to printed press. However, here I extrapolate to any word and emphasize spoken word. It seems to me in today’s world we have to tread carefully and lightly with our words. We cannot walk about giving our opinion freely–especially about matters of race, gender or sexual orientation–without anticipating an assault from of an enraged group of offended individuals. “Don’t talk about religion, politics or [name your sport],” I’ve heard people say. Shall we make that list three fold longer now? Surely we can control our tempers and appreciate an opinion or expressed point of view even if we don’t agree?

Do not misunderstand me. I am not advocating the abuse or disenfranchisement of any group of people or of any right. I am not defending prejudice in any of its dastardly forms, be it racism, sexism or the like. In fact, I decry censorship and prejudice.

Before moving forward, may I also say that discrimination, in its very essence, is not necessarily prejudice or inherently bad, and yet some form of prejudice often comes to mind when we talk about discriminating, notably racial discrimination. Discrimination can be defined as simply discerning between two more things. ‘Discriminating against’ is different from ‘discriminating,’ ‘discriminating between’ or ‘discriminating among’.

There is very often a time and a place and an audience for certain words and topics. Let us use discretion and wisdom in when and where. However, we should not be afraid to speak up, to voice our opinions. We should not have to expect to receive a barrage of angry and sometimes foul words from any opposing party, nor should we be such reciprocators. We can expect, if circumstance permits, a challenge to our views. And should we venture to express ourselves ever so passionately, may it be tasteful, respectful and mindful of others.

Some may think that my convictions are unique to the color of my skin or my favorite sports team, my religious background or my sex, my preferred political candidate or some other affiliation. Though they discriminate on these grounds, which is no crime, I echo the same convictions of those who identify with different races, teams, religions, genders, political parties and philosophies in general. Ray Bradbury being one. Dr. Benjamin Carson being another.

Do not censor me in my opinions. Do not censor my freedom of expression. Is not book burning bad enough? Is it really necessary to try and hush or alter every word and opinion that is not in accordance with our own?

Alas, perhaps the nefarious success of censorship on behalf of those who feel insulted and diminished will continue. I would encourage a different approach. Instead, stand up for your beliefs in a civil and dignified matter when appropriate. Do not proclaim tolerance with an intolerant disposition.

There it is. My opinion. It may change or be refined. I may have left out a few things. It may be misunderstood. It may be–and naturally most likely is–biased.

I welcome thought provoking comments; insightful, not inciteful.