09/15/14

Spare the Rod

When disciplined, my dad had to go out in the yard and pick a long slender limb as a switch for his own beating. Sort of like picking your favorite dog bite.

It’s a weird thing, parental autonomy over a child’s body. It’s a fairly recent regulatory phenomena for the State to violate it. The area of family discipline has been sacrosanct.

So as Adrian Peterson’s choices about parenting with a switch are put on public and literal trial, we are asked to reexamine that sort of line of scrimmage between discipline and abuse.

But there’s an evolution to moral behavior. In the paraphrased words of Sam Harris, if morality is fundamentally about human well being, then as our understanding of what makes humans healthy improves so does our capacity for moral choice. (Unfortunately, there’s a lot of personal dissonance in this statement for me presently.)

We can say with some scientific clarity that a steel chair across the back of a child effects a kind of physical and psychological harm inconsistent with well being. This doesn’t upset the ancient idiom that to spare the rod is to spoil the child. The principle still persists. But, maybe the implement, or switch, can be switched — so to speak.

teacher-west

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by dj clutch. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Switch

09/10/14

Last of a Breed

I’m not totally sure which principles really matter any more. But, this man surely did. And his commitment to them affected culture.

truett cathy

Truett Cathy founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A. (March 14, 1921 – September 8, 2014)

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by Harulduz7. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Not on Sunday (An Ice Dream)

08/27/14

Mott Haven 2014

tre 2014

A House on Beekman.

Mott Haven 2013.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by juicebox jackson. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Break Chain

08/25/14

Taking One for the Team

My dad was a beat cop and career FBI.

ben

I was preached the perils and uncertainties of law enforcement my whole life. You just don’t know what you’re about to face in a car stop or home search or raid. And, so the justification follows that police should be accorded some measure of grace when they act preemptively or out of self preservation, in the chaos and melee of the arrest. I mean, I would. But, I’m also frightened of small dogs and that movie Cloverfield. I shouldn’t do any job that requires more courage than is necessary to use a public urinal or maybe ask politely for a refill at Chili’s. I’d never be a cop.

But, in the Michael Brown shooting and aftermath it has struck me that this rationalization of force seems wrong. The default is off.

In the ambiguity of a criminal altercation, especially where there is no apparent threat of deadly force, the safety and health of the suspect still remains paramount. They are a citizen. Due criminal process. The police officer’s own self defense and preservation cannot be the priority.

Officers have to be ready to have the crap beat out of them on occasion.

If you can’t resist an assailant with something less than your firearm, then either you take it like a man in the face or else change professions. You don’t get to open fire. I guess you could also baby cry, like I would. That’s another option.

There is great disagreement over the details in Ferguson. But, even assuming Brown is in the vehicle window punching officer Wilson in the face, as his defense would contend, well then maybe that’s the price we have to pay sometimes to live in free society fearless that our own paid law enforcement won’t shoot us unless absolutely necessary.

I’m not a Ferguson protestor. Don’t lump me in. There are reasonably two sides to this story almost for certain. I’m just saying government has to take the high road here.

And, for all my law enforcement buddies, I’d qualify further. These are instantaneous choices made under pressurized circumstances. But, our justice system will vindicate your sacrifice, whether it be partial or complete. And, the moral leverage in taking the a$$ whooping will do more to reinforce the rule of law than any disproportionate and questionable show of deadly force you could justify or explain after the fact.

Cops choose to do this perilous job. And, they talk a pretty tough game. I should know. They big willie me all the time. Wait. That didn’t sound right. But, either you’re big enough to take some physical punishment in the name of protecting all our citizens, even when they don’t deserve it, or maybe you’re just not that big.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by dj transform. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Big

08/24/14

And To The Ends of the Earth

My friend Noah G was out in front of the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) story before most. He does things like “watch the news” and “occasionally reads” and even “thinks critically.” Sort of a show off.

Here’s a picture of him snidely pondering the mysteries of the universe over my shoulder. Revolting.

noah

He started law school last week so now he’s going to be insufferable. I’d wish him luck and offer some advice, but I hate him.

But, on a late-night, not unpleasantly romantic stroll with Noah across the Chelsea High Line, he asked why Western people of religious faith don’t mobilize on behalf of foreign born Christians in the same way muslims do. I told him, easy. We have Bravo. Million Dollar Listing New York?

There has been an outpouring, sentimentally and actually, for the persecution of all sects at the hands of ISIS in recent weeks. But, Noah’s prescience hit home for me when I reacted disproportionately to James Foley’s death. The image of crucified arab Christians was gruesome and harrowing. But Foley’s death did that thing where you sort of feel real horror in your stomach. And, I knew immediately it was because the beheading of an American seemed more tragic somehow than the murder of arabs already culturally conditioned to it. Which is all nonsense, of course.

So I’m glad to be reminded that the commission to protect and love and care doesn’t end in Judea and Samaria.

Regardless of the nationality or religion of the victims, the whole circumstance is mayhem. A complete nightmare of moral and wartime and policy proportion.

And, as if we needed any more bad PR, it looks like the beheading suspect is a British rapper. Of course he is.

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Something to Choose

08/23/14

Back to School

lighthouse kids

And, now for my annual and inappropriately scholastic double entrendre.

Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced Dalama Jones. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Pick Up Lines

08/22/14

Bat Signal

You know how in every comic book movie the hero has a crisis of faith? Loses the girl. Suffers defeat. Questions himself. And, then just disappears. Retreated into solitude. To reconsider his purpose. To question his calling. Might review, from his fortress or lair, a video montage from his home planet and tragically deceased parents. Or stare wistfully into the eyes of his own crumpled mask. The people of planet earth or some generalized metropolitan city abandoned to the unchecked lawlessness of villainy. Puppy-eyed children look helplessly into the sky for a return. Some sign. Hero-betrayed.

And, then, in the moment of greatest need, splashed across the sky, a contrail of flight or burst of light or silhouetted, back-lit signal.

bat signal 2

Yeah. He’s back.

(Large disembodied head emoji courtesy of Tommy Wilkinson.)

04/19/14

And He Was Numbered With The Transgressors

Sometimes it causes me to tremble.

empty tomb

Performed by the ipoetlaureate d/b/a sintax.the.terrific and playdough (collectively deepspace5). Music produced by Alex Goose.

Today’s song blog here:

Rise

04/17/14

Freedom Trail Reprise

I’ll plagiarize myself from a year ago. I can’t say it any differently:

If you’ve ever been to Boston you’ve probably been forced to walk, likely by a mom or wife, some portion of the “Freedom Trail” against your will. You have to wonder why one must abandon so much self determination to walk a trail named “freedom” but, anyway. The Freedom Trail is, of course, a walking tour of Boston’s historic sites, where I’m proud to say I had a pair of Stan Smith’s re-cobbled only a few years ago. I also had a bracelet smithed out of a soup spoon.

Liberty is a type of collusion. An agreement among everyone to respect the rule of law in service of freedom. It’s completely voluntary.

Collusions, however, are easily broken. In fact, there is extraordinarily high incentive to do so. Our susceptibility to violence, therefore, is evidence of how well and complete the collusion of our liberty is working. We’re easy pickings. When an assailant from within or without violates the contract — the agreement not to fall into anarchy — they exact from us a cost. A toll for being so free, so open, so liberated. Our martyrs, whether at a marathon or in an elementary school or on a skyscraper, are a kind of penance paid to democracy and inalienable rights. Like a soldier or revolutionary, when we are murdered exercising our freedoms, even ones as routine as a road race, it is literally a kind of patriotic act. Every mundane act of our lives is a declaration that we would be free in spite of the ongoing danger to do so.

Pronation. It’s not just the roll of your foot when you run. It’s what we are when we run. Pro-Nation.

And, they’ll run again this weekend. A marathon and a freedom trail.

boston-marathon-map

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by juiceboxjackson.

Today’s blong here:

Pronation