"It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubborness of the inorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed." - Albert Einstein

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I aspire to a stubbornly incorrigible nonconformity. The degree to which I have achieved my aspiration I leave in the capable hands of those whose wisdom and humilty exceed my own.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Voters in Farmer's Branch Texas were to decide Saturday whether to repeal or approve an ordinance prohibiting landlords from renting apartments to most illegal immigrants in their Dallas suburb.

It is interesting, and tragically ironic, that on the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the English settlement of Jamestown, this vote should be taking place. Settlers at Jamestown did not have a passport, visa, or guest worker permit. They did not, in fact, even ask permission of the original inhabitants before occupying their lands and taking food they had stored ... which seems to me to clearly violate one of the commandments of the religion to which they professed to be so passionately devoted that despite enormous costs, risks, and dangers, they came to this continent seeking a refuge where they could freely practice their faith ... which commands that they not steal ... which is what they did almost as soon as they landed.

The situation for Texans is even more hypocritical. Citizens of the newly formed United States were invited to immigrate to the Mexican territory of Texas by the Mexican government. The Mexican government was liberal in the invitation; however, the Mexican government also abolished slavery. Some of the new immigrants refused to comply with this law and imported slaves.

It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Who Is Really At Fault Here?

CBS Radio fired Don Imus on April 12, 2007, but only after mounting public pressure to do so. On April 4, 2007 Mr. Imus referred on air to the Rutgers women's basketball team using well worn phrases that are both racist and mysoginistic, but which warrant no repeating.

Mr. Imus is now suing CBS Radio for wrongful termination. Apparently, Mr. Imus' contract specifies that he will be "controversial" and "irreverent."

Mr. Imus bears the ultimate responsibility for what he chooses to do and to say. It is likewise appropriate that, at the minimum, he should experience the natural and logical consequences of his choices.

Beyond that; however, sorting out who is responsible can be a little more difficult.

CBS Radio has some responsibility. They pay Mr. Imus. Apparently they encouraged him, with an obscenely large bag of money, to be "controversial" and "irreverent." Any employer has responsibilty for what their employee does. All employers have an obligation to train, supervise, counsel and discipline as necessary, retrain and rehabilitate as necessary, and to terminate an employee based on performance. For celebrities, too often employers ignore, deny, or evade this duty.

Sponsors have some responsibility. They are the ones that fill the bag that CBS Radio gives to their employees. Sponsors do not do this because they value the rich tapestry of "controversial" and "irreverent" talk radio that furthers the public debate and strenthens our democracy. They give CBS Radio that money because it helps them sell their widgets, which in turn helps them pay their corporate officers and more importantly return dividents to investors. Corporations have demonstrated again and again that they recognize no particular obligation to moral or ethical behavior that supercedes their primary mission, to make money.

But as citizens and consumers we have an individual and collective duty to be honest with each other and with ourselves, which we rarely do. It is so much easier and entertaining to compalain about what this company is doing to us or what this politician has done, yadda, yadda, yadda. In fact, the money that Mr. Imus receives to be "controversial" and "irreverent" comes from CBS Radio, who gets the money from the sponsors, who gets the money from selling widgets, most of whcih we do not need, to us.

I do not know about you. I can only speak for myself. I have an indivdual responsibility to exercise the use of my very limited resources in a responsible way. For me that means that it is vitally important from whom I purchase items or patronize services. My greatest impact on the corporate world is the exercise of the leverage of my dollar. I aspire to make choices about how I spend those dollars in ways that are consistent with my own intellectual, emotiona, and spiritual beliefs and values and that cultivates and helps to construct the type of community and world in whcih I want to live.

I choose not to patronize businesses that are destructive to the environment, to people, or to the social fabric.

I make a deliberate, conscious, thoughtful effort to choose to purchase my clothing from manufacturers who pay a living wage and treat their employees and the Earth in a responsible, humane, respectful way. For clothing manufacturers in particular, this type of behavior is the exception and requires more effort and on many occasions, more $$$ than the ostrich approach to consumer spending. If I don't see it, it didn't happen, doesn't matter, isn't my problem.

A friend of mine, who is very image conscious, excitedly told me about her trip to New York. She purchased a designer handbag from a street vendor. A very high percentage of property crimes are related to the illegal drug trade and by extension to violent crimes, destruction of our environment, individual lives, families, communities, a huge investment in rehabilitation and treatment, and a much larger investment in incarceration and courts. My friend would deny having anything to do with the drug trade, especially supporting it. However, when she gave that street vendor her money for a product that she knew or should have known was stolen, she , in fact, did support the drug trade. That money eventually found its way up someone's nose or into their bloodstream.

So, who is responsible for what Mr. Imus says and does? CBS Radio would not expect and encourage and tolerate Mr. Imus' controversial irreverence if it was not popular and profitable. Corporations would not give CBS Radio their money knowing it was to be given to Mr. Imus if they did not believe that doing so would help them sell more widgets, buy another boat, and take that Carribean cruise.

Every dollar I give to a corporation or business or non-profit agency or individual who I know or should know will use that money irresponsibly is my business and my choice. It is appropriate that I experience the natural and logical consequences of my choices and behavior. That is why we have the politicians we deserve. We have the entertainers we deserve. We have the music lyrics we deserve. We have the television shows we deserve. yadda, yadda, yadda.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

He is Just Wrong, At Least So Far

He was wrong about any connection between the terrorists of 9-11 and Iraq.

He was wrong about American troops being welcomed as heroic liberators.

He was wrong about Weapons of Mass Destruction.

He was wrong about "Mission Accomplished."

He was wrong about the leak about Valerie Plame coming from his office.

He was wrong about the Kyoto Treaty and global warming.

He was wrong about Alberto Gonzalez.

What sort of personality disorder, denial, or mental illness would compel us to believe that he is, or in the foreseeable future, will be right?