August 29, 2012

The Death of Intention

This is just stupid; there’s no other word for it:

In a move blasted by rights groups, a 3-year-old-deaf boy has been told by his Nebraska school district to change the way he signs his name because the gesture resembles shooting a gun.

I’m not talking about the gross inappropriateness of treating a 3-year-old child this way, although that’s less-than-smart, too. I’m talking about the general loss of understanding (or willful misunderstanding) of human intention in communication. At its simplest, one could understand being annoyed (and no more than that) by a young child who meant to signify a gun with a hand gesture. We can understand this as similar to the finger slash across the throat — long understood to mean, among other things, “you’re dead.” But it is clear the child has no such intention. He’s “saying” his name. He’s signifying himself. And, in a move of stunning callousness by education professionals, he’s being asked not to indicate himself. He’s being asked to negate himself.

That’s a tough lesson for a kid that age.

If we are unable or unwilling to understand intention, then we are unable or unwilling to understand much of anything.

The death of intention is something I’ll be following because it leads to exactly this kind of nonsense.

August 23, 2012

About The Doom Files

The Doom Files is a blog I started a few months ago on WordPress.com because I was feeling grumpy. I have now imported that content to Rhetorica. The blog portion of The Rhetorica Network will now be The Doom Files. Here’s the original “about” column:

—–

doom

NOUN

1. fate or destiny, especially adverse fate; unavoidable ill fortune: In exile and poverty, he met his doom.
2. ruin; death: to fall to one’s doom.
3. a judgment, decision, or sentence, especially an unfavorable one: The judge pronounced the defendant’s doom.
4. the Last Judgment, at the end of the world.

The problem: We do not learn from our mistakes. We show very little capasity for avoiding mistakes that we know we are about to make. We do not think in the long term. We prefer short-term profit over long-term gain. We treat each other as objects. We allow corporations to be people as we stand in the way of letting real people live their lives. We drive too fast. We eat too much. We burn too much oil. We pollute our only home. We allow nearly half the population on the planet to live on $2 per day or less. We let children go to bed hungry. We grumble about paying for education. We prefer our children to be ignorant rather than challenge our assumptions and ideologies. We believe politicians over scientists in matters of science. We have lost sight of the fact that our tax dollars pay for a civilization. We know freedom is not free, but we have forgotten that it also costs money.

And we think technology will save us.

I’ll also mention good things I come across, especially if it involves individuals or small groups working outside the system to make life better. I don’t want this blog to be a complete downer ;-)

—–

Here’s what I wrote in a blog post earlier today when I announced the change:

I’ll be importing posts from The Doom Files and continuing that work here with commentary on the rhetoric of a people, culture, and country in decline.

Sounds like a real downer, right? Well, that’s where my head is right now, and I’m very excited about it :-)

I will still discuss issues familiar to this blog over the past ten years because, frankly, our dysfunctional politics and dysfunctional news media contribute to our doom. So a few things will remain the same. I will also branch into other areas of concern, but the one constant will be the rhetoric of a culture that refuses to save it itself.

I’ll also be changing the sidebars and other features. The whole process will take a few days.

So, if you need to add a little dark cloud to your day, please drop in often. It’ll be painful.

And so the changes have begun.

I am not a pessimistic person. I see our doom, ultimately, as a good thing because it will require us to change much of that sorry list above. The collapse of an empire or a culture is always painful and ugly. But something wonderful can spring from the ashes. I’m looking forward to it.

UPDATE: The new focus of this blog will also require my updating the blogging policy. Much will stay the same, but the biggest difference will be my acknowledgement that The Doom Files will more overtly favor certain political/social/cultural/economic positions over others.

August 23, 2012

Returning Soon With A New Mission

The flagship blog of The Rhetorica Network will return soon with a new mission.

I’ll be importing posts from The Doom Files and continuing that work here with commentary on the rhetoric of a people, culture, and country in decline.

Sounds like a real downer, right? Well, that’s where my head is right now, and I’m very excited about it 🙂

I will still discuss issues familiar to this blog over the past ten years because, frankly, our dysfunctional politics and dysfunctional news media contribute to our doom. So a few things will remain the same. I will also branch into other areas of concern, but the one constant will be the rhetoric of a culture that refuses to save it itself.

I’ll also be changing the sidebars and other features. The whole process will take a few days.

So, if you need to add a little dark cloud to your day, please drop in often. It’ll be painful.

August 23, 2012

Just Give Them All ‘A’s

Let’s all just sit quietly for the next 50 minutes.

A top administrator at the University of Colorado says if a professor doesn’t like his students legally bringing guns to class, he’ll have to holster his emotions.

Jerry Peterson, a professor and chair of the CU-Boulder Faculty Assembly, told colleagues he’d cancel his class if a student brought a gun there.

“My own personal policy in my classes is if I am aware that there is a firearm in the class — registered or unregistered, concealed or unconcealed — the class session is immediately canceled,” Peterson said. “I want my students to feel unconstrained in their discussions.”

Shortly after Peterson’s comments were reported, CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said he can’t do that.

“I have the utmost respect for Professor Peterson, who is an old friend and valued colleague, but I want to make clear that if the student carrying the weapon has a concealed-carry permit, the position implied by Professor Peterson’s comments directly violates Colorado law and the operating principles of the campus,” DiStefano wrote in the email to faculty.

August 22, 2012

The Whites Of Their Eyes

Apparently mental health funding has been cut in Texas.

Tom Head, a county judge in Lubbock, Texas, plunged far out into the periphery of anti-President Barack Obama conspiracy theories on Monday, pushing a particularly outrageous one as justification for a tax increase in the county.

Head told FOX34 that Lubbock’s law enforcement needed extra tax dollars in order to be prepared for a full-scale uprising, which he said could be a byproduct of Obama’s reelection. According to Head, the president is seeking to sign a variety of United Nations treaties that will effectively take precedent over domestic law.

“He’s going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N., and what is going to happen when that happens?” Head asked. “I’m thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”

August 22, 2012

Nothing Better To Do

Seriously. This shit is important.

One Oklahoma elementary school has a strict dress code policy — no college apparel that isn’t from Oklahoma.

Last week, Wilson Elementary School’s principal told 5-year-old Cooper Barton to turn his T-shirt inside-out because it violated Oklahoma City Public Schools’ dress code, KWTV reports. The boy was wearing a University of Michigan shirt.

District policy bars students from wearing “clothing bearing the names or emblems of all professional and collegiate athletic teams (with the exception of Oklahoma colleges and universities.)”

August 20, 2012

The Whole Mainstream Thing

All it takes for dangerous nonsense to become normal is for people to spout dangerous nonsense as if it were normal.

monthly newsletter published by the Greene County Republican Committee in Virginia is raising eyebrows for including a column in its March edition that calls for an “armed revolution” if President Barack Obama is elected to a second term in November.

Among articles denouncing a University of Virginia initiative to implement a living wage for employees of the institution, questioning if Obama is “America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U. S. President?” and an op-ed slamming the GOP establishment with generous use of capital letters, RightWingWatch picks out a column from the newsletter’s editor, Ponch McPhee.

In it, McPhee urges readers to encourage other conservatives to vote in November. He goes on to warn that the consequences of not defeating Obama, a so-called “ideologue unlike anything world history has ever witnessed or recognized,” would be dire.

“[W]e shall not have any coarse [sic] but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November,” McPhee writes. “This Republic cannot survive for 4 more years underneath this political socialist ideologue.”

August 20, 2012

Eye On the Ball

What could be more important than upholding standards?

Kaitlin Nootbaar, a straight-A Oklahoma high school student, is being denied her diploma because she used the word “hell” in her graduation speech as valedictorian, and she and her parents are furious.

In delivering her address during the Prague High School graduation ceremony in May, the teen alluded to instances where people would ask her what she wanted to do with her life as graduation approached, to which she said, “How the hell do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many times,” her father David Nootbaar told KFOR.

August 8, 2012

Nothing Better To Do?

How to waste time and marginalize yourself as an opinion journalist:

I have news to report: Rush Limbaugh has finally had it with me. He has decided that I’m rooting for America’s decline and that I’m a part of President Barack Obama’s “crop of Democrats.”

None of that is true, but it’s worth recounting how Rush and I got to this point. It is a small but instructive tale about today’s ferociously accusatory political culture.

Once upon a time, we debated.

Now we tweet and rant in a world of sound bites and the sound-bitten.

August 6, 2012

Hot Pink Might As Well Be Red

That little commie bitch! Or, how FOX News keeps the rubes in line:

On last week’s “America Live,” guest-host Alisyn Camerota discussed how “some folks” noticed that the “famous flag-styled outfits” of Olympics past were replaced by “yellow shirts, grey track suits and pink leotards” at the London games. Camerota and her guest, Sirius/XM radio host David Webb, took particular focus on Douglas’ outfit.

“You know, Gabby had that great moment, and everyone was so excited, and she’s in hot pink — and that’s her prerogative,” Camerota said. Webb, who hosts a program on Sirius/XM’s “Patriot” channel, wondered, “What’s wrong with showing some pride?” He likened the uniform choice to a “kind of soft anti-American feeling that Americans can’t show their exceptionalism.” Camerota pointed out how other nations, like China, wore nationalistic colors.