The Preface

I am working on a couple blog postings related to the general reaction to bigoted comments by celebrities and how these things are dealt with. I have conflicting feelings, and so I am breaking them down into (current plan) two posts. One focusing on my problems with “silencing” people we do not like. The second post will address why I do understand that very tendency.

I am opening with this preface partially to ask that if you take issue with the first post, to wait and see if I address the concern in my follow up.

Overall, December may be ending in a blogging explosion of thoughts from me.

Everybody’s Free

free en·ter·prise
noun
noun: free enterprise
1.
an economic system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of state control.

There was a news story on Fox recently which declared Free Enterprise dead. It was ridiculous, of course, for multiple reasons.

Primarily, it was because a Judge sided with a gay couple over a “Christian” maker of wedding cakes. I will be honest, if your Christian faith and view of marriage is so sacred that you will declare you would rather close shop if you cannot discriminate against gays? You are pretty much a lame Christian.

For one? The guy made a wedding cake for dogs. That is not someone treating marriage as a special and unique institution. Problem one.

More importantly, if your “Christian View of Marriage” is so important to you…why do I suspect this guy made cakes for non-Christians, people who were living together, people who were having pre-marital sex…why is he okay endorsing those unions? Problem two.

I have seen pastors refuse to marry people…a pastor and Church have every right to deny anyone access to their services. A guy making cakes is not a pastor or church. He is a businessman serving a larger public. And to be so inconsistent to deny one couple on grounds of faith while allowing others who ignore your Christian values to access your services is pathetic.

Look at the definition of free enterprise again.

an economic system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of state control.

Nothing there states you are free to descriminate. Free enterprise means you can have a business, not have a business and run it like a tyrant if you choose. There is a clear allowance of state regulations. The only person actually threatening this cake business is the guy who owns it. The state has not said his business has to close. That is all on him. The state simply says he cannot be so discriminatory.

Free enterprise still lives, this case is proof of that.

Lord of the Bloat

A common (and quite fair) criticism of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth films is they are expanded and bloated. They often are incredibly busy and sometimes overwhelming in their additions.

And yet, it seems almost ironic. I read The Lord of the Rings books in my late thirties. Truth is, I find them bloated with needless story diversions, such as a 100 page excursion about a guy who proves the threat of the One Ring might be a bit overstated. It goes on and on and on.

Tolkien certainly loved world building (and really, language creation)…almost to the detriment of the story… He wanders on endlessly about the minutia of various languages. He also will spend pages telling us about historical myths and legends of Middle Earth that supposedly give us insight into the world, except they tend to drag the actual story down.

Really, I find the Jackson films are completely in spirit with Tolkien’s works. Entertaining, but bloated with needless detours and an obsession with minute details.

The Unfair Files: But the Real Victim Is The Perp!

Over the weekend I watched a documentary on HBO called Valentine road.

It tells the story of Larry King, who was tragically shot to death in 2008. You might recall the story from the news. On February 12th of 2008, Brandon McInerney(age 14) walked into class, behind Lawrence ‘Larry’ King (age 15) and shot him twice (at least once in the head). The motive turned out to be that Brandon was embarrassed and angry because Larry, a young man trying to find his identity (the information I have seen both suggest a young gay man or a trans girl… Two weeks after Larry started to accessorize (how the school referred to his wearing makeup and jewelry) and generally express himself, he was dead. This time frame matters, because there was something rather horrifying that developed.

A defense of Brandon’s actions crept into the public. We needed to consider just why he killed Larry. And yeah…things like motive matter. But this bizarre defense came about. It was Brandon who was harrassed…he was the victim in the situation and it is unfair to punish him.

This comes up in the documentary several times. He was greatly embarrassed because Larry had asked him to be his valentine in front of Brandon’s friends. And shortly after called out “love you, baby!” And one other time paraded around “flamboyantly” in front of Brandon and his friends. This was portrayed as a hard push campaign of harrassment by Larry against Brandon.

And you know what? I get being generally embarrassed by general activity like that… Sure, if someone you are not interested in makes a few overtures for your attention, it can be a bit uncomfortable and awkward….especially when your friends tease you about it. Young women are faced with that stuff all the time. They get uncomfortable because a boy they are not interested in is attempting to get their attention. And some of those incidents develope into real harrassment. There are a lot of factors that go into it all.

But the cold hard truth? Brandon’s embarrassment was his own. He could have told his friends to stuff it. He could have shrugged it off. He had a girlfriend, so he did not have to “prove” his heterosexuality to them. There is a long list of ways to handle the attention he got from Larry. Shooting him twice in the head was never an acceptable option. Terrifyingly, you would not necessarily know that from the reaction of some of the teachers and jurors interviewed in Valentine Road. It is heartbreaking to hear people take the side of a killer who killed with malice and forethought.

Imagine this… It was the unpopular girl. She is seen as a joke by classmates. Made fun of… But she takes the risk and asks out the cute basketball player. His friends tease him mercilessly. So, a day or two later he walks up behind her and shoots her twice in the head. Tell me, defense attorneys, jurors and teachers… Would you feel so comfortable suggesting she brought on her own death? That Brandon should be granted leniency?

No One Else Is To Blame

Over the weekend, I saw an episode of some show on the ID Disovery Channel. The tragic story (as with every show on the channel) was as follows:

A woman decided to give a shot at online dating. She joined a dating website. She met a guy and hit it off. They dated some. Her friends did not care for him, and eventually they broke up. As to be expected, a few weeks (months maybe?) later, he drives across the country, kills an ex-girlfriend he had not seen in ten years and then goes and tries to kill the woman who was the focus of the story.

That is really understating it…I will leave out the gory details, but that he failed to take her life is not due to being sloppy or rushed. He made every effort to make this into a homocide investigation. It is amazing she lived to tell her tale. But one detail got me. She is suing the dating agency for ten million dollars because the website had no warnings.

Really? We are going to demand that websites include disclaimers of potential sociopaths and psychopaths using the site to get dates? And would a disclaimer have changed anything? Would she have questioned the guy if only the web site had included a warning label? Would she have not used the website? If she had met the same guy through a friend, would she sue them for $10 million?

What she went through was horrific…but what happened was no more the fault of the the web site than it was hers for breaking up with him. He made the decision to turn to become a murderer. He chose to try and kill her. The web site had no ability to prevent him from crossing into the territory of murderous villain in her life. I get that there is the desire to hold someone accountable… But the responsible party is the person who deceptively portrayed themselves as someone who is not on the verge of a murder binge.

RoboCop No More…

I must be honest folks…that RoboCop trailer has been bugging me. The primary problem?

Murphy and his wife appear to know who he is from the start. But part of what makes the original RoboCop so great (Aside from the scathing satire of corporate culture) is that Alex Murphy is unaware he had a past. He is a machine. He is haunted by memories that he cannot comprehend. And as he learns who he is, he reclaims the identity that was ripped from him.

In one of the second film’s best moments, RoboCop’s wife wants to meet with him, shocked that he is alive. But the corporate heads convince Murphy that he cannot truly return to being a husband. It would be impossible to fulfill the role, due to his condition. It would be better for her to move on in a life without him.

When his wife tearfully tries to reconnect, Alex plays the role of machine…he claims he is merely a monument to the man who died. Weller does a great job with this moment, because the conflict within Murphy is evident.

The new film removes all of that. Murphy has no self discovery…he is not a machine that rediscovers his humanity.

The Donner Illusion

Some segments of the film and comic community are being extraordinarily tough on Man of Steel.  And some are, bizarrely, appealing to the Superman given to us by Richard Donner, Richard Lester and Bryan Singer.

I am not addressing the folks who are equally critical of those films. But the people appealing to The Donner/Lester/Singer version either have poor memories or are willfully ignoring celluloid history.  I am about to really blow it if you have not seen the movie.

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