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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Commenting on Comments

As I said previously, if controversy upsets you, I accept your resignation from this post with no ill feelings. My soapbox is safely in the corner keeping the peace. I'm just here sorting through the logic.

To follow-up on yesterday's post, I gather an obvious conclusion from the comments. I'm not sure this conclusion helps me figure out the logic behind when "the right to choose" is inalienable and when it is not. As "the right to choose" abortion was relatively untouched, it leads me to believe that either the topic is so charged, people prefer not to address it, or that a fetus and its fate are regarded as less consequential to humanity and the preservation of it than are plastic bags, light bulbs and super-sized soft drinks.

That subject aside, however, this is what I garnered:
 It is okay to usurp "the right to choose" when the people making the choices are seen as not making the right ones for themselves personally or for the environment. There seems to be a personal distancing of the self from those people who are making those bad choices that must be regulated. No one said, "I'm glad the government is taking action, because I am too weak to make the right choice." Likewise, the assumption was automatically made, for example, that people who buy 32 ounce sodas are drinking themselves into obesity rather than cutting costs by purchasing the extra large beverage and sharing it amongst a group.

So today, I'm rather perplexed again, because I'm wondering where we draw he line in the sand. If it's okay to decide other people aren't competent to make decisions about very basic things, what happens when someone claiming to know better than me decides that I am not competent to make a good choice and tells me that for my own good or the good of my fellow man I will no longer have a choice.

Let's consider the example of the flat iron. I use mine nearly every day. It makes me, in my opinion, more attractive by smoothing out my otherwise curly to kinky hair.

But the flat iron has its "dangers" for me and for the wider world. It gets very hot and can cause a ferocious burn that in some cases can lead to medical treatment. If dropped in a tub of water, it can cause electrocution. Small, unsupervised children have come to harm by its scorching metal plates. The cord can cause strangulation. It uses a great amount of energy to heat to these high temps and sustain them, and my excessive use of energy impacts the planet. Eventually, every flat iron dies, so I throw each away into a landfill and purchase yet another one.

Weighing the superficial benefit of beauty against the flat iron's inherent dangers, a rally-cry could go up to ban flat irons. That would hit pretty close to home for me. I would be the person judged to not be making wise decisions for myself. Would the government be justified in eliminating my "right to choose"?

I wager that when the suspension of choice hits close to home, we're more likely to move to the protection-of-personal-freedoms camp. Which may explain why we're skirting "the right to choose" life or death for a fetus, instead of directly responding.

Wherever people stand, whether on the side of personal freedoms or on the side of taking them away for the good of the individual and/or the collective population, they are passionate in their marriage to that stance. Of course, there are those among us who believe it is okay to extend "the right to choose" in some cases and withdraw it or never offer it in others. The gray areas have the least light shed in them.

"The right to choose" is a big, sticky-sided, dark spiral to say the least.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Choosing Among the Choices

I rarely get on a political soapbox and I'm not getting on one today. It's collecting dust in the corner and keeping the peace.

But I do have a conundrum of logic I'd like to throw out for consumption; one that will inevitably make some people very angry at me and come as a surprise to others. I don't blame you either way. And if you're one of those people who prefers not to think a great deal about the convoluted issues that cannot be easily rectified, I accept your resignation from this post.

But here is the issue, as I understand it (I recognize that my personal understanding of it may be skewed by my own cultural background, childhood traumas, and biases, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. I make no excuses for my line of thought, however, and I stand by it to a fault.):

1) The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, is pushing a law that would ban the sale of soft drinks bigger than 16 fluid ounces by restaurants, sports arenas and movie theaters. Consumers will no longer have "the right to choose" between S, M, L or Super Size.

2) The Federal Government is seeking to enact a law banning incandescent light bulbs. Consumers will no longer have "the right to choose" between less expensive incandescent bulbs and more expensive energy efficient bulbs.

3) The city of Manhattan Beach, CA is, by law, banning stores from packing customer's purchased goods in plastic bags. Consumers will no longer have "the right to choose" between paper or plastic.

I do not presume to argue the politics of these laws or how they impact basic human freedoms, but rather the logic. The logic proves a great stumbling block for me. If "the right to choose" to abort a fetus or to carry it to term is protected and regarded as inalienable, then why not "the right to choose" what size soft drink I would like to order, or "the right to choose" what kind of light bulb with which I want to illuminate the night, or "the right to choose" to bag my groceries in paper or plastic? Is a fetus in the womb less of a concern to humanity and the preservation of it than a co-cola, a bulb or a bag?

And since "the right to choose" between life or death for a fetus only applies to women, i.e., a man may not make the choice, then do women also retain "the right to choose" paper or plastic? Incandescent or energy efficient? Large or super size? Do these laws that eliminate freedom of choice apply only to men?


Friday, June 8, 2012

Typical Male

My 14 year-old son, I've determined, is normal. He's a typical male specimen, unafraid of consuming a container of peas and a dreamsicle in the same sitting, at the same time, in the same mouthful. He possesses courage beyond logic.

He prides himself on the array of sounds that spontaneously and forcefully emit from his body. B.O. doesn't bother him. And he's constantly complaining, "We don't have anything to eat," (probably because he already ate everything).

Last night when he lodged those words through a belch, I snapped. "We have food, you just don't look for it. Your problem is you don't know how to find food. You expect it to put itself on a plate and come find you."

A 14 year-old cannot be shut-up or shut down so easily, though. There's always a last word and it's always his. He said that oh yes he does know how to find food. These are the steps in his method, as described by him in his own last words:

1. Open the refrigerator.
2. Stand and stare until Mama yells to close the refrigerator.
3. Lower your standards.
4. Open the refrigerator.
5. Repeat process until Mama bonks or you find a shriveled piece of sausage in a zip-lock bag, or, preferably, both.
6. Put the sausage back and eat a bowl of cereal. Leave the milk on the table.
7. Go do something until you're hungry again.