I saw an article the other day where Clemson University researchers are asking for the help of families in the Upstate to count how many fireflies they see on a nightly basis so they can determine whether or not their numbers are dwindling. They are. Reading that article made me realize that I hadn't seen a firefly (I used to call them lightning bugs) in at least a couple of decades. I don't know if it's because of the region I live in or because they ARE dying out. Either way, it's sad. The thought of catching lightning bugs with my bare hands and watching them glow inside my hands cupped together or just letting them crawl on my arms until they decided to fly away brings back such fond memories of a much simpler time. The act of trying to track a bug that's only visible for a half-second before they go stealth for a few more seconds. Telling my mom and dad, "there's one...there's another one...." all night long. The fact they they might be going away disturbs me...not only because it kills a cherished memory, but because too much of our youth has disappeared over the decades...and not just because I'm getting wrinkles and losing hair.
A woman in North Augusta was arrested last week because she left her 9 year old girl at a nearby park for the day while she went to work at her fast-food job. She faces a maximum of 10 years for child neglect. 2 things....here we have a woman trying to make an honest living by working a minimum wage job, rather than sitting at home collecting a government check, and she faces a felony charge for her desires to advance herself. But (more germane to this discussion) when I was 9, I was staying out until well after dark with my friends, riding across town on my bike, going to and from school by myself. My parents would have been locked up for years for things they allowed me to do then. But then again, if you google the words "9 year old" and "playground" the first artlce you come to is about the boy in Michigan who was stabbed by the 12-year old. Not something I worried about growing up in Wood River, Illinois. I read another article that asked if the reason so many parents are getting in trouble these days is simply because they're doing the things are parents did when we were kids, but didn't have to worry about DSS looking over their shoulder for child neglect charges.
Was it better living in a simpler time when were were able to fend for ourselves...or is it better than we have stronger laws looking out for kids these days? Stronger laws are nice, but they were only made necessary because our society isn't as safe it used to be. It's ironic...crime stats show that violent crimes have declined steadily since the late 1800s...but for some reason our neighborhoods seem much less safe than they were even a few years ago. We're living longer than ever before, but in this world, do you want to?
I've been a part of this morning show in one way or another since 1997. My role has changed from time to time, but one thing that's remained consistant is my views on issues. Of course, views change and evolve as more information comes in...and you CAN change your mind on something without being a flip-flopper. Strom Thurmond used to be a rapid segragationalist before he changed his mind. Of course, he had a child with a black woman at the time...talk about separate but equal. President Obama told everyone for years that he was for 'traditional' marriage and against same-sex marriage. A few years later, when the polls said it was okay, he's now firmly behind it.
I've always been very socially liberal and not ashamed of it. Through the years, listeners would call in and chide me by saying, '...just wait, as you grow older, you'll come around." Well, I've lived way more than half of my life and I haven't come around yet. I'm still waiting. I still believe in the same things I did as a 20 or 30 year old. As a matter of fact, I think I'm even more staunch in my beliefs. When you work at a station all day that leans so heavily in the opposite direction that I lean, you can't help but push back...it's human nature. I don't mind listening to logical arguements about anything, but I don't hear logic. All I normally hear is fear-mongering. Fear is a great motivator. It keeps people in line. It gets people to think like you. It gets people to hate the other side becaue they're trying to destroy your way of life. Or so you're told. Fear also keeps you from hearing the arguement from the other side. I'm afraid. I'm afraid that the divide between the right and left is continuing to get larger and larger and more divisive every day...with every issue. I'm afraid that politicians will continue to fight for whatever will keep them in office, rather than what's good for the country as a whole. I'm afraid that the US won't be a better place for our grand-children, but not because of political actions, but rather because of polticial IN-action. Nothing gets done. Neither side budges.
Polls say less than 10 percent of us think that Congress if doing a good job. Yet a large portion of the country says they want the government to stay out of their lives and not govern so much. If you're one of those, you must be thrilled with the job they've been doing lately.
A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that the divide in the US is betting bigger between liberals and conservatives. Are you surprised? Did we need a poll to prove this? Actually, it's good to get numbers to back up the over-all feeling that most of us have. I've been saying for years that it appears as though the good-natured political banter of previous generations has been replaced by pure hatred...or at least disdain for 'the other side'. If you say that to someone with a strong opinion either way, they usually respond by saying they don't 'hate', but they just vigorously disagree with the other side. Tomato, tomahto.
The Pew survey says that in 1994, only 10 percent of respondants said they were unflinching liberals or conservatives...nothing would make them change their positions. That would mean that 90 percent of the country was probably leaning one way or the other, but were willing to listen to the other side, at least on occasion and depending on what the issue was. The new survey showed the number of those unflinching has doubled to 21 percent. That means 1 out of every 5 people you know have nothing but bad thoughts about those evil-doers on the other side of the aisle. It consumes them. They wake up in the middle of the night wondering how 'those people' live with themselves with all their twisted ideas and illogical dogma. They steer just about every conversation into something political. They consume as much information as they can to back up what they believe, but don't want to listen to information that may dispute those ideas. Seems like it would be hard to live with blinders on.
What caused the increase in the chasm between liberals and conservatives? Most people point their fingers at the media. The media didn't start the fire, but we sure do fan the flames. Back in the day, before 24-hour news cycles, the media repoorted the news without (much of) a slant. You knew that if you tuned into Tom Brokaw, you'd see the same stories that Peter Jennings and Dan Rather were reporting. Today, you can watch Fox and MSNBC side by side, and not see any of the same stories through the course of an hour...because each station picks out the stories they think their audience wants to see and gives the people what they want. So, instead of seeing different sides, any consumer can comfortably stay on their side of the fence without having their bubble burst. The same goes for talk show hosts. They know who their audience is and what they believe. If they don't back up those beliefs, they lose audience. I'm a part of the talk radio beast. I try to listen to all sides of an arguement, but it's hard to be impartial when you get pushed relentlessly by one side. It makes you want to push back...even harder.
Glenn Beck came out a couple of months back and said he regretted playing a role in 'tearing the country apart' during his time at Fox News. He went on to say "if we could have talked about uniting principles a little more, instead of just the problems, I think I would look back on it a little more fondly." I don't hold Beck any more responsible for tearing the country apart than I do Keith Olberman, Rush Limbaugh or Al Sharpton. But I don't exonerate any of them either.
It's been more than a week since 8 shooting incidents and 3 murder victims were added to the tally in this year's Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest.. I thought I'd let some of the initial reaction die down before talking about it here.
First of all, just because someone is black and they're here during Memorial Day weekend doesn't mean they're here for Bikefest, but in this case, they were. For the people in Atlantic Beach who deny this has anything to do with the annual gathering, please note the reverse is also true....just because someone isn't on a motorcycle and doesn't spend time in Atlantic Beach during Memorial Day weekend it doesn't mean they're NOT here for Bikefest....they were. Don't worry about semantics...nobody's trying to pin the blame or point fingers, people just want solutions. To this point, AB town officials have said next year's event will go on as planned especially since they saw no instances of bad behavior in their 4-block town limits all weekend. Let me take you back to your High School days for a minute. Remember when your friend's parents (or maybe yours) were out of town and the entire senior class came over for a party? People started parking in neighbor's yards, peeing in their bushes, leaving trash all up and down the block. The party was supposed to be contained in one house, but spilled over to adjoining properties...so it's not hard to point out that problems caused up and down the block were a function of the main party....in this case, Atlantic Beach. I know when you put someone in a corner and try to blame them for an event, it's human nature to push back. That's what AB is doing right now. They feel ambushed and are pushing back...refusing to take part in meetings with the Governor and the Coastal Alliance (leaders from area cities discussing common problems - like Bikefest).
Governor Haley came to town and said that the AB Bikefest must come to an end. Easier said than done. Even if AB decided to get out of the Bikefest promotion business, the crowd would still come. Why wouldn't they? There's a beach, a 3-day weekend and lots of people of the opposite sex looking for a love connection. What more do you need? You need supervision apparently. I've gone on record many times defending both the Bikefest and the Harley rally saying that both bring revenue to the area and that both should be welcomed as long as attendees follow the laws. This year shows a stark difference. Harley rally was bigger than recent history and had no incidents to speak of. Bikefest was as big as it's been and degenerated into mayhem.
So....if people are going to come next year regardless, we need to make sure our people are safe...and the attendees are safe from each other. In Atlanta, the city put an end to the annual Freaknik celebration but putting cops everywhere...essentially killing the fun without coming right out and cancelling the event. It's now just a memory. That's probably what MB has to do, even though the Governor says it's not a function of police numbers. I disagree.
About Memorial Day - I know it's a day to honor the war-dead and MB set aside the entire month to honor the military in hopes of supplanting the Bike rallies. Sorry to say that's not going to work. In theory, it's a great idea and nobody deserves a month-long celebration more than our vets, but nothing you can do will draw a-half million vets to MB during the month. It's a feel-good proposal that nobody would vote against, but the reality is that it's not a money-maker. If we were able to secure a major airshow or week-long event like a fly-in, that could be the start towards something big.
One more thing....and it might be uncomfortable. Atlantia's Freaknik was a predominantly black event. Shut down due to lawlessness. Urban Beach Week in Miami is a predominant black event. Military-style police presence all over the place to keep the peace. Bikefest on the Grand Strand...also predominantly black. Now there's talk of shutting it down. I know the arguement is that it's not a racial issue...it's more an issue of age and the younger attendees at Bikefest are more likely to start or cause trouble than the older folks here for Harley Week. I still believe that. Unfortunately for some, perception is reality...and when they see predominantly black events cancelled or degenerate into violence, it re-enforces stereotypes that they may have. You can add that to the tally board as another victim of the violence of Memorial day weekend.
The SC legislature is trying to finish work on a handfull of proposals before the end of this session and summer vacation begins. Amongst them is a trio that all have their basis in s-e-x. I figured I'd spell the word out, because just its mention apparently puts a good portion of the state in a tizzy.
One bill would update the state's 26-year old laws on s-e-x education. Instead of abstinence, teachers would be able to impart 'medically accurate information'...which is better than inaccurate wives tales. One more time...you may not want to think that your teens could be having sex, but please know, if they're not, their classmates are. Teaching only abstinence is like the farciful 'just say no' campaign against drugs in the 80s. Doesn't work...kids will be kids. Teaching proper sex ed will not only help the teen pregnancy rate to continue dropping, it will also reduce STDs and abortions. Closing your eyes and pretending it doesn't happen is pure fantasy. Knowledge is power, but gaining this knowledge won't automatically give your kids free reign to start having sex...it'll just equip them better if/when it happens.
Another bill is aimed at teaching lesson about s-e-x abuse. The goal is to make kids aware of the signs, so that they will feel empowered enough to report something in case it happens to them. This looks like it will pass with no problem. The only thing that made me wince is that the sponsor of the bill said she had to stress that this had nothiing to do with s-e-x education, but rather abuse education. The fact that you had to stress this so it didn't cause a bunch of guys to wig out on the statehouse grounds is disturbing.
The last bit of legislation has to do with the HPV vaccine. If you don't know, HPV is an STD that can lead to cervical cancer later in life, which can lead to death, obviously. The new bill would educate parents about HPV and would also allow some eligible girls in 7th grade to get free HPV vaccines if they and their parents choose to. Great...who could be against educating parents and saving the lives of young women? Apparently a lot of people...including the Governor. And since she's a she...and since she's the mother of a teenage girl, it's doubly disturbing. Getting the vaccine will not turn young tweens into wanton harlots, looking for their next score, it'll just keep them safe for when they do become sexually active, somewhere down the road. But throw logic out the window when you have brilliant people representing us like a Senator from Spartanburg who said, "...it's not an airboune disease and abstinence works every time." Sure Senator, abstinence does work every time, but again, we're talking about reality, not some fantasyland where every kid waits until marriage before having their 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. Where 100% of marriages end in...happy marriages. We live in the real world...check it out sometime, and bring your fellow legislators with you while you're at it.
I think the Founding Fathers of this country and the Framers of the Consititution are some of the best, brightest and bravest people this country has ever known. Thomas Jefferson stands by himself. Ben Franklin is one of my heroes. They were all visionaries, but even the best and brightest can't see 240ish years into the future. There's no way the Framers could foresee all the technological and sociological changes we've gone through in the past 2+ centuries. Many of the tenents written into our Constitution are evergreen and will never stale. Much like the commandments in the Bible.....thou shalt not steal or kill are pretty universally accepted, even today. But, when someone dares to suggest that changes should be made to that document, watch out.
Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, just released his second book and outlines 6 things he'd like to see changed in the Consititution. Two of them have to do with the 2nd amendment, one about abolishing the death penalty and another couple about campiagn finance. Granted, Stevens was on the Liberal side of the bench, so the subject matter of what he wanted to change would be unpalatable for Conservatives anyway...but I'm not looking his his specific changes...I'm just looking at the prospect of change in general. I don't think he wants to take out a bottle of white-out (remember how indispensible that stuff used to be?) and do away with big parts of the Constitution, but rather making some amendments to it. You know, there are 27 amendments already....17 if you don't count the Bill of Rights. That means there have been 17 times when the country thought the Framers either did something wrong with the original document, or ommitted something that became important at a later date. It wasn't important for women to have the right to vote in 1787, but it was later. It wasn't necessary to address slavery 240 years ago.....less than 100 years later, it was. Changing the Consitution has been done to make it, and our country, better and stronger...not to weaken it.
Now, lest you think I'm of the opinion that the Constitution should be trampled on....no. Actually, I think the talk of adding amendments like making same-sex marriage illegal, is actually pretty frivolous and cheapens a great document. And now that I think about it, the same people that want to add such an amendment are the same ones who bristle when you call the Constitution a 'living, breathing' document, that should change with the times. It's been living and breathing and changing with the times since 1787.....why should it be any different today?