I spent my earliest years around Detroit, living in the suburbs of Inkster and Garden City. We weren’t far from Dearborn, which I remember as an affluent community for people with more means than our family.
Today, Dearborn has a very different reputation. It’s the largest Arab-American community in the United States. In the video above, Fox News’ Jesse Watters takes to the streets to put a face on Dearborn.
When asked what they think of their Muslim neighbors, white residents interviewed by Watters have nothing nice to say. “They’re bad,” says one man. “They’re not friendly. They don’t speak to you.”
Aside from social niceties, other complaints reference religious-inspired violence. “Last year, there was a woman stoned,” a second man told Watters. “Not too long ago, I read [that] there was an honor killing because a girl bought condoms.”
As Watters points out, the police chief is Muslim, as are a majority on the city council. The town stands as a portend of what America could look like if the Muslim population approached a majority.
In recent years, transhumanism has ascended from a novelty on the fringes of popular science to a serious topic demanding thoughtful attention. Samford University, a private Christian institution, recently hosted a conference on the topic. The Christian Post asks, “Can Transhumanism and Christianity Co-Exist?:”
Transhumanism is the theory that science and technology can be used to advance the evolution of human beings beyond current physical and mental limitations.
A spokesperson for Samford directed The Christian Post to statements made by Professor Steve Donaldson, program director in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and a senior fellow in Samford’s Center for Science and Religion.
“[Transhumanism's] potential ramifications for the church are substantial. Can a climate be created in which churches and people of religious faith engage a transhumanist future positively or must the church resist? Is resistance futile?” stated Donaldson.
It’s a question we’ve tackled here before. Transhumanism covers a wide range of technological possibilities, far too many to support or condemn with a blanket generalization.
Perhaps clarity on the matter comes by distinguishing between technological advancement and evolution as such. Has the recipient of a heart transplant “evolved?” Or have they simply used technology to improve their life, like a farmer cross-pollinating crops or a pilot using GPS? If transhumanistic notions are somehow un-Christian, what’s the technological threshold demarcating good science from blasphemy?
South Park began its nineteenth season earlier this month and is off to a great start. If you’ve been away for a while, now is a good time to come back to the show.
The past couple of seasons have been hit or miss as the show has found itself in a bit of a rut. No television show can last for 19 years without renewing itself on a regular basis. South Park had seemed to be retreading a lot of old ground as of late.
Fortunately, the new season offers a shift in tone, living up to the show’s reputation for countercultural satire. The season premiere saw the boy’s elementary school taken over by “P.C. Principal,” a new administrator fresh out of college who militantly enforces political correctness. The absurdity of liberal speech codes was on full display as the show deconstructed pop culture rhetoric surrounding the transformation of Caitlyn Jenner. The second episode of the season followed through on that theme, as seen above.
True to form, the show runners don’t confine their mockery to one end of the political spectrum. They also brilliantly satirized the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
More at PJ Media:
Certain terms commonly used in our political and cultural discourse serve only to thwart thinking and halt debate. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson continues to defend himself against accusations of “Islamophobia,” after recently stating Islam is not compatible with the United States Constitution. But what is “Islamophobia”?
In the above video, Ayn Rand Institute senior fellow Onkar Ghate identifies “Islamophobia” as an “anti-concept.” The term works against proper conceptualization. Ghate explains (at 19:28):
That term [Islamophobia] is an anti-concept that has been deliberately originated to make discussion of the issue impossible. And it’s similar to the term, in another kind of would-be debate that in the mainstream they want to silence… similar to the notion which functions as an anti-concept “climate change denier.” And what that does, it’s a package deal meant to silence… meant to destroy the ability to think, which is part of what makes it an anti-concept.
What “climate change denier” does is it puts into one package irrational objections, people mounting irrational objections to manmade climate change and the possibility of it – so it puts a bible-thumping Christian who says, “No, I don’t believe in the theory of evolution and I don’t believe in [climate change], none of these are part of God’s plan. They’re not happening.” It puts that person into the same category as a rational scientist who has legitimate worries, objections, doubts about the state of [climate change] science, about conclusions being drawn, about supposed lessons to learn from the models and so on. It puts them into the same category…. So why even pay any attention to them? So the debate and the discussion is ended before it can start.
And “Islamophobia” serves in exactly, and functions in exactly the same way. What it puts together is irrational discriminatory behavior, whether towards Islam or towards Muslims, with thoughtful rational criticism…
I think too many people on the political Right [unwittingly aid] this, attempting to dismiss the whole idea of irrational treatment of Muslims as, “This is made up. This is a bogus thing that they’re trotting out to try and silence debate…”
So to get and to start discussing the issue of Islamophobia, you have to get everything that is put into the package, and you need to help people distinguish the elements of the package, that they don’t belong together. One should not have the same view or valuation of these things…
Don’t get tripped up by the example Ghate uses. Whether you think religious objection to climate change is irrational or not, his point remains that certain terms are meant to conflate the rational with the irrational in an effort to shut down debate.
Doing their best to invite a new dark age, student and faculty groups at institutions of higher learning throughout the nation have started labeling certain academic materials with “trigger warnings” which enable students to opt out of exposure. A few institutions have responded by standing up for free speech. The latest is American University in Washington D.C., where the faculty senate has passed a resolution starkly opposed to trigger warnings. They wrote:
As laws and individual sensitivities may seek to restrict, label, warn, or exclude specific content, the academy must stand firm as a place that is open to diverse ideas and free expression. These are standards and principles that American University will not compromise…
…the Faculty Senate affirms that shielding students from controversial material will deter them from becoming critical thinkers and responsible citizens. Helping them learn to process and evaluate such material fulfills one of the most important responsibilities of higher education.
It’s refreshing to see a few in the academic community who remain hesitant to cancel the Enlightenment.
If you’re initial response to such a question is to ask who’s Jack Ryan, drop what you’re doing right now and go watch Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Hunt for Red October. Jack Ryan is the protagonist in each of those geopolitical thrillers.
The character has been played on film by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and most recently Chris Pine. The earlier films were more successful than the latter ones, which may be why creatives are contemplating moving the property to television. From Collider:
Deadline reports that Carlton Cuse (Lost) and writer Graham Roland (The Returned), Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes and Paramount TV have set off a bidding war with their new take on the character. According to Deadline, this show won’t be a direct adaptation of any of the [Tom Clancy] books, “but a new contemporary take on the character in his prime as a CIA analyst/operative using the novels as source material.
As Collider points out, Jack Ryan is no James Bond. He’s “a glorified desk jockey who’s not common enough to be an everyman but not special enough to be extraordinary.” The appeal of the Tom Clancy franchise has been its scenarios, not its protagonist. If a new show can capture the taut political intrigue and plausible military action of the early Clancy films, it could fit into the space aimed at by shows like Madam Secretary and the recently cancelled State of Affairs.
As a part of my city council duties, I sit on a board governing the operation of the town ice arena. We recently forked over a hefty amount of cash to pay for a license from BMI, a music-rights management company, to mitigate potential fines for the public presentation of recorded music at the arena. It’s a big deal. Fines can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
In selling us on the importance of obtaining a license, our rink manager pointed out that public performance of the “Happy Birthday” song could result in a $30,000 fine. That was yesterday, this is today from The Hollywood Reporter:
The world’s most popular English-language song is potentially free from copyright after a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that filmmakers challenging Warner/Chappell Music’s hold on “Happy Birthday to You” should be granted summary judgment.
Read on at the link if you’re interested in the details. Copyright law remains an intriguing area of debate. Should copyrights remain in effect well past the lifetime of the property’s creator?
Reason TV has an interview with Judge Andrew Napolitano previewing Pope Francis’ forthcoming visit to the United States. Napolitano claims status as both a libertarian and a traditional Catholic.
Much of the interview focuses on Napolitano’s criticism of Pope Francis’ radical departures from Catholic tradition. These include the use of papal exhortation and similar channels to push Francis’ personal and non-theological views on issues like climate change.
Interviewer Matt Welch asks how Napolitano reconciles his political views with his religious views. The judge sees nothing to reconcile.
The essence of libertarianism is the primacy of the individual over the state, and – as far as is conceivable – absolute freedom of the individual to make his or her own choices. That’s actually also the teachings of Jesus Christ. “I have come to set you free.”
Now I know the devil can quote scriptures to suit his purposes. But the doctrine on religious freedom, the doctrine on free will, is such that free will is the greatest gift that God gave us. It is so perfect a gift that we are free to abuse it. And throughout history and the modern era is filled with examples of its abuse. So I see no inconsistency between the observation that the individual is greater than the state and the church’s teaching on free will at all.
The reference to scripture lacks some context. Jesus wasn’t referencing political freedom. But Napolitano’s overall sentiment still has merit.
Jon Stewart prevailed in a crowed and competitive field in Sunday’s Emmy awards show. Variety reports:
… three parting hosts, David Letterman, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, [were] all up for the [Outstanding Variety Talk Series] award — however, it was Stewart who walked away with the golden statue.
Also competing against late-night hotshots Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and John Oliver, the former “Daily Show” host spoke to press after his big win.
The spotlight provided an opportunity to get in one last shot at the Republican presidential front-runner.
When asked in the press room if he would consider returning to “The Daily Show” if Trump wins for prez, Stewart — who’s known for his hysterical election coverage — joked: “No, I would consider getting in a rocket and going to another planet because clearly this planet’s gone bonkers.”
Stewart’s not the first person to suggest he might leave the country if a certain candidate prevails in a race. The interplanetary angle takes it to a new level though.
Looking back on my public education, I was well prepared to take tests regurgitating random factoids, but poorly prepared to live in the real world. Now in my mid-thirties, many important lessons have been learned the hard way and at great cost.
Here are five essential life lessons I never learned in school which would have saved me a lot of trouble.
5) The Answer to “Why Do I Need to Know All This Stuff?”
It’s a question every student asks at one point or another, perhaps when learning the Pythagorean theorem or while reading about the Hundred Years’ War. Why do I need to know all of this stuff? When am I going to use calculus in my day-to-day life? What good will knowing the date of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox do me?
No one offered a satisfactory answer to this question when I was growing up. Looking back, I think it was because they may not have known the answer themselves.
For my dad, the answer was practical. “You need to know it so you can pass the test, so you can get the grade, so you can graduate and get a job.”
Teachers offered rhetoric about being a “well-rounded citizen” or hypotheticals where I might actually need to find the exact length of a hypotenuses. But their real and unspoken answer was likely, “Because I’m required to teach it.”
At some point too late to do me the most good, I realized that the reason to learn those things which may not have day-to-day practical value is because, through the learning and processing of things learned, I was developing the capacity to think. As it turns out, the capacity to think is the proper goal of formal education.
If a student can learn to think, they can start to teach themselves. Kids who learn to think become self-sufficient. And isn’t that the goal of raising them?
In sure defiance of warning labels, a British man named Daniel Medforth got drunk and took 35 Viagra pills in one sitting. He claimed the overdose was a joke, though it’s not clear on whom. His wife certainly wasn’t laughing, nor were the emergency medical staff she called upon.
Medforth was hospitalized and treated. He dealt with the expected effect of Viagra for five whole days. By some accounts, he was lucky to get away with embarrassment and inconvenience. Such overdoses can potentially cause brain hemorrhages, which may in turn lead to death.
Evangelical Christians largely reject Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s hardline rhetoric on immigration. That’s the claim from two evangelical leaders in a recent op-ed at The Christian Post.
Dan Darling serves as Vice President for Communications at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Matthew Soerens co-authored the book Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate. Together they claim that a plain reading of scripture calls their Christian brethren to turn from “the Darwinist rhetoric” employed by Trump and certain other Republican candidates. They write:
For Christians, no human being is a burden: each has been created with unique gifts to serve the common good. And every human soul has value to God, regardless of his or her utility to society. However, economists almost universally affirm that, on the whole, immigrants contribute significantly more to the economic wellbeing of the United States than they take out — though the economic benefits of immigration would be even greater if our laws were reformed, removing restrictions that prevent immigrants from fully thriving.
As people defined by our commitment to the authority of the Bible, Evangelical Christians cannot be reflexively anti-immigrant. After all, Jesus himself was a refugee who, with Mary and Joseph, fled the persecution of a tyrannical government to seek safety in Egypt. The people of Israel, millennia earlier, were mistreated as foreigners in Egypt, and God commanded them, after delivering them from their captivity, to remember that experience as immigrants and to welcome and protect those who came subsequently as immigrants into their land.
Darling and Soerens go on to express support for reforms which “both secure our borders and restore the rule of law by establishing a [pathway to] citizenship.”
It’s happening! For years, humanity has engaged in online interactions via Facebook with one digital hand tied behind our back. If you liked a post, you could press the “like” button. However, if you disliked a post, you could only express your frustration as a comment. This obvious and unacceptable oversight will at long last be corrected. From CNBC:
The company’s co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg revealed the ongoing tests during a question and answer session on Tuesday.
“People have asked about the ‘dislike’ button for many years, and probably hundreds of people have asked about this, and today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it,” he said.
But it won’t be a simple “dislike” function like that seen on YouTube or other sites. Zuckerberg says he doesn’t want Facebook to become a place where your personal moments are “downvoted.”
Instead, Zuckerberg said, the new feature will allow people to “express empathy” with their Facebook friends, explaining what many users of the social media platform already knew: “If you are sharing something that is sad…then it may not feel comfortable to ‘like’ that post.”
For instance, you might not feel comfortable “liking” a death announcement or bad news like a job loss. This new functionality will allow you to acknowledge such messages in a different way.
I remember when Rocky Balboa, the sixth and most recent film in the definitive boxing franchise, was first announced. On paper, it sounded like a cash grab or a vanity project. How could Sylvester Stallone come back to Rocky at age 60?
But he did. The sixth film was a return to form for the franchise which used Stallone’s age to its benefit. If you take a look at the cumulative critic ratings throughout the franchise, the perceived quality of the films dropped with each new installment until Rocky Balboa, which rated second only to the original.
The forthcoming seventh film in the franchise looks set to uphold that renewed standard. Stallone is now pushing 70, which precludes the possibility of him stepping once more into the ring. But that’s the film’s hook. It’s not really a Rocky film. It’s the start of what may become a new franchise focused on the son of Apollo Creed.
Creed stars Michael B. Jordan in the title role, training under the guidance of an elder Rocky who assumes the mentor role once held by Burgess Meredith’s Mickey. The relationship between the two appears to be the focus of the film. This doesn’t look like ’80s cheese. The Creed trailer evokes the ambiance of the 1976 classic from which it springs.
As one reads the Gospel according to Matthew, and encounter’s Christ’s warning in chapter 7 to avoid the wide gate leading to destruction, it becomes clear that genuine believers have always been a minority. Yet, in the political discourse, a perpetual effort continues among culture warriors to portray believers as a “silent” or “moral majority.”
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and author of Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, adapts a portion of that book in a recent commentary for The Christian Post. He argues, among other things, that Christians should not delude themselves into believing they are a majority in any culture. He writes:
One of the reasons I say that it is good for American Christianity to no longer think of itself as a “moral majority” is that such a mentality obscures the strangeness of the gospel. When a vision of Christian political engagement hinges on building a politically viable network of ideologically united voters, Christ and him crucified will tend to be a stumbling block, not a rallying point.
… Even some sectors of religious activism chafe at the honest accounting of apostolic Christianity as a minority viewpoint in Western culture. Minorities do not exert influence, they will contend, on the culture or the systems around it. The temptation is to pretend to be a majority, even if one is not.
But this is a profoundly Darwinian way of viewing the world, like a frightened animal puffing out its chest in order to seem larger and fiercer, in the hopes of scaring off predators. Such is not the way of Christ. The church of Jesus Christ is never a majority, in any fallen culture, even if we happen to outnumber every[one] else around us.
The impulse Moore highlights, to regard one’s cause as emblematic of a majority even when not, is not confined to Christianity. It’s fair to say everyone tends to think of themselves as “the silent majority.” However, Christian retain a unique reason to reject majority thinking. We’re explicitly told that we will be few, and that the world will be against us. Our hope lays not in some coming political revolution.
If you use software to block the display of ads on the internet, you have acted immorally. That’s the claim made by Arthur Zey, a project manager and engineer who has worked for Twitter and other technology companies.
Zey offered the claim in a Facebook post which germinated into a fascinating, highly intellectual, and surprisingly civil thread. He linked to this story from Geek.com reporting on Google’s efforts to “punish AdBlock users with unstoppable YouTube video ads.” Of the effort, Zey wrote:
Good for Google. YouTube doesn’t run on the warm, fuzzy feeling you get watching cats do silly things.
In a follow-up comment, he expounded:
… YouTube relies on that ad revenue to operate. I think [the use of ad blocking software] amounts to taking the unearned to watch YouTube videos in this fashion…
I am not a fan of the righteous indignation that many have expressed [in response to my claim]. Whether you are the customer or the product, whatever your exact contractual relationship may be with the provider, you are on YouTube (and similar sites) to gain a value. And you know that that value is financed by your watching of ads (or, at least, their being displayed on your computer while you’re off taking a piss or whatever). I think that to use an automated, technological means to circumvent “paying one’s fair share” is distasteful at best.
Several commenters, including yours truly, sought to understand Zey’s moral claim by asking how it applies to other circumstances. For instance, is it immoral to skip past commercials recorded on a DVR? Is it immoral to leave a movie theater during the trailers, or show up late in an effort to avoid them?
Here’s a confession. I’m not sure what to think about Kim Davis.
I know. How can someone not know what to think about Kim Davis, right? You’re supposed to have an opinion ready to go for a case like this, especially one that’s been in the news for as long as Davis’ defiance has. But it’s actually a fairly complicated issue that requires a fair amount of thought to parse through, and I’m not done parsing.
One thread of thought worth considering is whether Davis has been the victim of religious persecution. Christian blogger Renée Schafer Horton has some thoughts on that:
There absolutely are Christians being persecuted for their faith throughout the world. They are tortured and killed for nothing more than believing that Jesus Christ was who he said he was.
U.S. Christians are often treated in a manner that can make one feel persecuted… However, feeling persecuted in these ways in no way compares to the aforementioned actual persecution of Christians…
People of faith often feel that a secular world gone amok is being crammed down their throats. Violent and dehumanizing music lyrics, abortion on demand, websites that encourage and enable adultery, the sexualization of childhood, the latest Jack Black movie – all of this can be frustrating. I’m certain Kim Davis feels frustrated, or perhaps her personal history and subsequent religious conversion made her feel the need to take a stand.
But because – praise the Lord – we do not live in a theocracy, frustration doesn’t mean you get to stop following the law of the land. If you disagree with that law, you can go through appropriate channels to try to change it. You cannot, however, hang onto your elected position while refusing to carry out the duties of that elected office and claim that act is Christian. Because, it is not.
Horton’s argument works in a laboratory where all else is equal. However, as The Blaze’s Matt Walsh points out in a provocative column supportive of Davis, all is not equal.
Kim Davis was sent to jail, ostensibly for violating the rule of law. This while overt lawbreakers from groups like Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, and — ahem — the State Department go unscathed.
Actor and gay activist George Takei took to his Facebook page to offer comment on Davis’ release:
Well this is a bit of a circus. So let us be clear: This woman is no hero to be celebrated. She broke her oath to uphold the Constitution and defied a court order so she could deny government services to couples who are legally entitled to be married. She is entitled to hold her religious beliefs, but not to impose those beliefs on others. If she had denied marriage certificates to an interracial couple, would people cheer her? Would presidential candidates flock to her side? In our society, we obey civil laws, not religious ones. To suggest otherwise is, simply put, entirely un-American.
Legal arguments aside, there remains a high degree of irony in supporters of recent Supreme Court decisions balking at an imposition of belief. Indeed, the Supreme Court — five individuals — has imposed its view on states whose residents have established laws under which its residents wish to live. Those laws are crafted and enforced by duly elected officials like Kim Davis.
John Campea labors as the senior producer of Collider Video and headlines the daily webcast Collider Movie Talk. Each week, at the start of the week, Campea and his crew break down the weekend box office and offer insight into what those numbers mean.
Since the release of War Room two weeks ago, the box office segments have been a little awkward. On Fridays, the crew predicts which films they believe will be in the top five. Nobody predicted War Room’s number-two opening weekend. In fact, no one on Collider Movie Talk thought War Room would be in the top five.
Tuesday’s box office segment was even more awkward, with War Room ascending to the number one spot in its second week, dethroning Straight Outta Compton. Watch above as the crew first sidesteps the film altogether, then hesitantly acknowledges it, and finally sprinkles in a fair amount of mockery.
Campea later took to his Facebook page to address his reluctance to review War Room:
Some people want to know why I don’t review the current #1 film at the box office WAR ROOM. Well it’s simple. I hate preachy movies. I especially hate movies that preach religious points of view at me. I don’t care if it’s a Christian religious point of view or an Atheist religious point of view. Now, I’m not saying other people shouldn’t enjoy their Christian/Atheist propaganda movies. I celebrate those movies are out there for them to enjoy if that is what they indeed enjoy. Awesome! But it’s not for me. So what would be the point in me reviewing said movies if:
1) I know I’m not going to like them
2) If I don’t like it and give it a negative review, I’ll just be opening myself up to some religious people (a minority of them, most religious people are just great) attacking my review and calling me names and accusing me of being anti-religious (even though what they don’t realize is that I went to Bible College).
So basically, if you ask me why I don’t review WAR ROOM, my answer would simply be “what would be the point?”
He later added in a follow-up post:
If you’re wondering why I don’t review WAR ROOM, just look at the comments in the [previous post]. All that reaction just from me saying I wasn’t reviewing the film. Can you imagine how much hatred would be unleashed if I did review the movie and gave it a negative review? No thanks. The problem is, if there is a movie that (regardless of how good or bad it is) promotes the beliefs of someone, and then you say that movie isn’t good… then that person will act as if you are attacking their beliefs the movie promotes instead of just saying it was a bad movie. It is a no win situation, and thus a game I refuse to play.
Scanning over the comments from the original post, most of them seem either supportive of Campea’s stance or respectfully critical of his reasoning.
Plenty of films are preachy, but happen to preach politically correct (cultural Marxist) messages. Consider films like Elysium with its heavy-handed immigration themes, or Brokeback Mountain’s clear social agenda. A forthcoming film called The Danish Girl stars Eddie Redmayne as a transsexual, and looks primed to promote transgenderism. Are those films too “preachy” for Campea to comment on?
Christian Post author Wallace Henley draws a provocative comparison between Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and civil rights icon Rosa Parks. Davis has been the subject of scrutiny, and more recently arrest, after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Henley observes:
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks had three choices. First, she could have complied with the city code, and moved to the rear of the bus. Second, she could have gotten off the bus and refused to re-board, as she did in 1943. On that occasion, the same driver demanded that, after paying her fare at the front, she exit, and walk outside to the rear entrance. Third, in 1955, Rosa Parks could have refused to budge because of her convictions. That is what she did.
Kim Davis had the same three choices. She could have complied with the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, which had been affirmed by Kentucky governor Steve Beshear, and issued the licenses to homosexual couples. Or, Davis could have gotten “off the bus” by resigning her county clerk position. Third, she could have followed the example of Rosa Parks, and refuse to budge. Which is what Davis did.
Many may bristle at the comparison. It does hold up in one key way though. When government asserts itself past what a population is willing to bear, civil disobedience will eventually manifest. Kim Davis’ protest only became necessary, in her judgment, when the Supreme Court overruled the will of the people in her state, the same people who elected her. So whom does she serve? The Supreme Court, or her constituents?
During the above weekend address, President Obama offered remarks in commemoration of Labor Day:
I wanted to take a moment to talk with you about the real meaning of Labor Day, the day we set aside every year to honor the hard working men and women who fought for so many of the rights that we take for granted today. The eight hour work day, forty hour work week, weekends, overtime, and the minimum wage; safer workplaces, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and retirement plans; all of those gains were fought for and won by the labor movement.
As the president lists off these “rights” won by community organizers, my mind cycles through how each has limited the capacity of ambitious workers to earn more money by producing more value. If you want to work more than eight hours in a day, or more than forty hours in a week, and you’re willing to do so for less than the minimum wage or without accepting an overtime rate, you can’t. You’re not allowed to make as much as you want, because other people don’t want to compete with your ambition. That’s why lots of folks have three or more jobs, because being too productive at one is literally illegal.
Should we celebrate government linking health insurance to employment? Has that not proven to be one of the worst aspects of our healthcare system? The modern argument over preexisting conditions might not exist but for the ill-conceived marriage of employment and health insurance.
Imagine what each dollar wasted on Social Security and Medicare could do if simply invested by the workers who earned them. But that would require foresight and responsibility on the part of each individual. We can’t have that.
If the real meaning of Labor Day is truly as Obama describes it, then the holiday essentially celebrates laziness. Take a moment to thank all those “hard-working men and women” who made sure you wouldn’t have to work hard or think much.
Here’s the thing: all these wonderful things we’re supposed to be grateful for, someone who produces value can get them on their own. They earn them. For such people, the labor movement has only ever presented an obstacle.
Last week, I offered what I imagined would be an uncontroversial post about the potential casting of Idris Elba – a black actor – to play James Bond. I said that we don’t need a black Bond right now. The character currently being played by Daniel Craig remains fresh and interesting. That character’s racial identity has been established, and shouldn’t be thoughtlessly discarded. I wrote:
While a color-blind society remains a noble goal, the truth of living as a black man remains some distance from that ideal. Craig’s Bond has not had the experience that an Elba Bond would. Recasting the role without rebooting the character would trivialize the black experience.
That comment elicited some pointed responses from readers. BronxZionist wrote:
[Walter's notion], that there was some “black experience” that would be degraded by a black man taking over a role from a white man, ultimately devolved to a concept that was inherently racist.
Racist how? He characterized it thus:
So . . .
“It’s a black thing; we wouldn’t understand”?
Just like say,
“It’s a white character; you wouldn’t understand”?
Or, you know, racism.
We may need to define our terms. I’m not sure how acknowledging the difference in social experience among racial groups makes one racist. Generally speaking, the experience of a black man is not the same as the experience of a white man. It just isn’t. That’s not a value judgement one way or the other. It’s simply an observation of the way things are.
A black James Bond would have a different set of experiences than a white James Bond, because black men generally have different experiences than white men. Is this really a controversial statement? Are we to pretend that black people don’t have a unique experience in our society?
Look, I get it. We live in a world with a lot of petty racial grievances. It gets extremely frustrating. But that doesn’t mean every acknowledgment of racial disparity is a petty racial grievance.
We remain some distance from Martin Luther King’s dream of a world where people are not judged by the color of their skin. We’re a hell of a lot closer than we were in his time. For that, we should celebrate and self-congratulate. That said, we haven’t reached a point where you can plausibly recast a character as another race without acknowledging how race defines that character’s experience.
Next: Examples of racial re-casting that work…
My family cut the cord years ago. We have neither cable nor satellite. Instead, we subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Now, all streamed on-demand over the internet. It’s more entertainment than we could possibly keep up with, covering the divergent tastes of our family members, all for a fraction of what we would otherwise pay for the same content through traditional sources.
Personally, I would love to get rid of Hulu, but the wife uses it to keep up with all her singing/dancing/cooking competition shows. Hulu has content I like. But most shows eventually end up on Netflix anyway.
The biggest reason I would like to ditch Hulu is the ads. I pay $7.99 per month for Hulu Plus, pennies less than Netflix, yet have to endure frequent and repetitive commercials during their programs. What’s the point of paying for a subscription and then watching commercials on top of it? If I wanted that experience, I’d have stuck with cable.
Hulu appears to have gotten the message. They’re set to ditch their intrusive ads. Unfortunately, it will come at a cost to consumers. From Collider:
For $11.99/month, subscribers can go ad-free, or remain with a limited number of commercials (reportedly less than on TV, but that’s still a lot) for $7.99/month. And according to a press release, subscribers can switch plans at any time (basically, to add $4 to go ad-free).
Is it worth $4 more per month to go ad-free? That total’s up to almost 30% more than a Netflix subscription. Then again, you do get to see shows the day after they air on the networks.
What do you think? Will you make the switch? If you have left Hulu, will this get you to come back?
A new author has taken over the James Bond franchise. Anthony Horowitz has a new Bond novel due out this month. He’s generated some controversy leading up to the September 8th release with some comments regarding the potential casting of Idris Elba to replace Daniel Craig in future Bond films. From Collider:
[Elba] came to prominence playing “Stringer” Bell in David Simon‘s The Wire and broke out as the titular, grim detective of BBC’s superb Luther. There haven’t been many credible naysayers to his taking over for Craig when all is said and done, but now, James Bond author Anthony Horowitz has come out publicly as against the casting of Elba in the role, citing that the actor comes off as too “rough” and “street.”
Naturally, critics have piled on Horowitz, accusing him of utilizing these terms as euphemisms suggestive of racial epithets. That may or may not have been his intent. (He denies it.)
Regardless, there is a credible argument against casting Elba as Bond. That argument centers on his race.
The case for Elba rests on the claim that Bond’s racial identity shouldn’t matter. In some sense, that is true. A black Bond is conceivable in the modern age, and would even be uniquely interesting. Idris Elba remains an outstanding choice to play that version of the character. However, the question of whether Bond could be black deserves separate consideration from whether the current iteration of Bond should remain white. Indeed, making the current iteration black would prove insulting.
While a color-blind society remains a noble goal, the truth of living as a black man remains some distance from that ideal. Craig’s Bond has not had the experience that an Elba Bond would. Recasting the role without rebooting the character would trivialize the black experience. Elba’s Bond would need to be a different version of the character, not the one Craig has played to this point.
That transition would be premature if forced now. In many ways, this version of Bond is just getting started. He’s just begun his relationships with both Q and Moneypenny. He’s just established himself under Ralph Fiennes’ archetypal M. His new adventure, due this Christmas, will re-introduce his classic antagonist in the organization Spectre. Now is not the time for a radical redefinition of the character.