The Value of Black Life in America

Ferguson, MO

What is the value of one black human life in America?

Judging from the reactions by the African-American community to the untimely and violent termination of such a life, one might get the impression that its value hinges primarily on the identity—that is, on the race—of its terminator.

When an unarmed black teenager gets fatally shot by a white police officer, as was recently the case in Ferguson, MO—or by a “white-Hispanic” civilian, as was the case in Trayvon Martin situation—the outrage and the public protestations of grief by African-Americans over such tragic Continue reading “The Value of Black Life in America”

Let’s Talk About Race


Ask people that knew me during my formative years for one word that described me best, and nine out of ten times you’ll hear the word “quiet.”

Indeed, I was an exceptionally quiet child.

To this day, although I do speak, should you ever meet me for a one-on-one, make sure to bring a book just in case, as I am far from a natural in the art of keeping a conversation going. After all, I didn’t practice much during my childhood and adolescence, and I generally cannot keep this gaping practice deficit concealed for very long.

Anecdotal evidence suggests I may have been of a somewhat more talkative turn in my very early years, yet I fell ever more reticent with time. Once I entered grammar school, I had adopted silence—or mono-syllabicity in situations where total silence proved impractical, such as when asked whether I wanted vanilla or Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Race”

No Privacy for Bigots?

Breakfast at Tiffanys

For his stereotype-laden portrayal of a wacky Japanese tenant named Mr Yunioshi in the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the recently deceased Mickey Rooney continues to score accolades along the lines of “overtly racist” and “one of the most egregiously horrible ‘comic’ impersonations of an Asian in the history of movies.”

In a Yunoshi-unrelated scene in the film, Holly and Fred, played by Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, drop into Tiffany’s & Co to inquire whether the ritzy store, famed for its big-ticket jewelry, happens to carry anything in Continue reading “No Privacy for Bigots?”

To Err or Not to Err on Caution’s Side

Danger Thin Ice

Climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction. (John Kerry)

Speaking of weapons of mass destruction, remember those stockpiles allegedly harbored by Saddam as per intelligence reports widely deemed credible save by a handful of dissenting skeptics?

In 2002, referring to France’s reluctance to join the then-coalition of the willing, David Letterman famously quipped that “the last time the French asked for more proof, it came marching into Paris under a German flag.”

If these stockpiles existed, it stood to reason that the Iraqi regime could have plied terrorist organizations with chemical and biological warfare Continue reading “To Err or Not to Err on Caution’s Side”

America the Beautiful (For English, Press One)

In order to engage in any meaningful debate—emphasis on meaningful—the contending parties must first determine exactly what is in dispute, i.e., identify the true heart of the controversy.

In classical rhetoric, the term stasis, which literally means a “point of rest,” refers to the fulcrum point a dispute revolves around—the point where neither force can proceed because the other force opposes it.

Unless the stasis of a given squabble is clarified, one invariable gets the sense that the disputants are talking Continue reading “America the Beautiful (For English, Press One)”

The Rightful Borders of the Promised Land

Middle East

How big is Israel really, its present borders notwithstanding?

The other day, in a televised discussion on Israel’s occupation of and settlement-building activity in a particular part of the geographic region referred to as Palestine that is claimed by both the Jewish state as well as its less recognized Arab neighbor, one of the participants—who, I suppose, would be characterized as a hardline “Zionist” by his detractors—held up what he described as an ancient Hebrew coin allegedly dredged up during the construction of said settlements in the disputed territory and presented it as evidence that Jews had been there first and that it was impossible to “occupy” what is yours to begin with.

In other words, that, when it comes to the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestine, the Arabs ought Continue reading “The Rightful Borders of the Promised Land”

Santa is White, Jesus was Not

Megyn Kelly

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, who plumes herself on being a “straight news anchor,” as opposed to the—presumably gay—opinion hosts whose programs flank her new prime time show, has nonplussed the straight-news-seeking among her viewers, as well as handed an early Christmas present in the form of some juicy grist for the “Fox lies” mill to the Media Matters of the world, by anointing with the chrism of “verifiable fact” the notion that both Santa and Jesus were “white,” i.e., of Caucasian ethnicity Continue reading “Santa is White, Jesus was Not”

Tracking the Hardware

Old Shatterhand

When people die, what happens to their guns? Who gets them?

My technical understanding of firearms—of anything, actually, firearms included—is sketchy at best, but I imagine that when properly stored and maintained, or at least unless exposed to corrosive influences like excessive humidity or whatnot, modern heat remains fully operational for many generations. I suppose plenty of Wild-West-era colts and Winchester rifles still exist today whose basic functionality has eroded little to none.

Commendable as background checks are, these checks necessarily extend to no one but the original purchaser of a given firearm and not to, say, his or her mentally disoriented great-grandson that will one day Continue reading “Tracking the Hardware”

Sex and Obamacare

If I like to go mountain-biking in my spare time, my employer surely isn’t required to cover the cost for the helmet I may wish to wear on the trail.

Ergo, if I consider it safer to pedal about the woods with protective headgear on, I must foot my helmet bill out of my own pocket.

If I enjoy playing ice hockey in my downtime, my employer isn’t required to cover my shin pads. So if I’m worried about damage to my tibia from its colliding with an opponent’s unyielding hockey stick, I’ll have to spring for the pads myself.

In fact, that’s what a salary is for. We go to work to make money not only to be able to afford life’s necessities, such as food and rent, but also so we can bankroll our recreational activities. Our employers certainly aren’t mandated to fund those, at least not beyond doing so indirectly by providing remuneration for our services.

Yet strangely, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) requires most employers to cover birth control pills, an imposition that, predictably, has gotten lots of Republican panties in a bunch, as the religious right generally Continue reading “Sex and Obamacare”