It’s No Fun If You Can’t Share   (2016Sep16)

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Friday, September 16, 2016                                              10:04 PM

When one group fights against another, someone wins and someone loses. We see this in the trouble-spots of the world—two sides which will fight until one or the other of them wins—beyond reason, beyond humanity, the absolutism of one group against another seems basic enough to overcome civility.

I’ve been thinking today of our strength as a nation—the melting pot that makes any one group a part of the larger whole—whether they like it or not. Immigrants to the United States know that the rules are different here—feuds from the old country don’t count here; authoritarian prerogatives once enjoyed by men over women, or one class over another—in their homeland—are forever null and void, here in the land of the free.

America has never fought for conquest or territory—only for the Right as we saw it (and a few mistakes, undeniably). And indeed, who could we attack? Where is there a country that isn’t already a part of ourselves? Reel off the role of the United Nations’ 193 countries—not a one of them fails to be represented by a segment of our population. Even those whose governments are seen as ‘bad actors’—their people, too, are a part of who we are—the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Libyans, the Syrians—you name the place, and chances are high that the United States contains the largest number of any country’s population, outside of that country.

So, as we recognize that inclusion must be part of our domestic social policies, we also recognize that all nations are siblings—and that our nation is the glaring proof of that truth. We attract immigrants for many reasons—but I believe that most come here because, in the USA, you own yourself. Nobody tells us what to do. Nobody says we have to ask permission to try a new idea. We say whatever we want, and if you don’t like it, you say whatever you want back.

We take personal freedom very seriously here in America—sometimes, some of us even get a little crazy, pushing the bounds of propriety and safety merely to demonstrate the fullness of our liberty. In its own way, it’s pretty rough and tumble. But the acme of the ideal is not merely to have freedom—it is to accord it to everyone else, even when you don’t like it—even when it gets in your way.

And we certainly see abuse of the concept—many people are only too glad to take freedom, and less enthusiastic about giving it to others. Liberty isn’t always obvious—it doesn’t shout, it waits for you to notice it. Some people willfully turn away, and use ‘Liberty’ cynically, hypocritically, as a cudgel attempting to carve out their freedoms at the expense of others’ rights. But they will run out of hot air before America runs out of people who treasure its ideals.

In the end, our immigrant heritage not only strengthens us as a nation, it bonds us to all nations—not as a competitor, not as a threat—but as a family of humanity, all collected together in the great experiment of America. While our capitalists and generals may sometimes lose their perspective, and get lost in the struggle for power, remember this—all most of us want is to share our freedom with the rest of the world. We don’t want other countries to belong to us, we just don’t want to hog all the good stuff for ourselves—it’s no fun to be happy if you can’t share it with everyone else.

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Cats, Tabbies, Felines… What’s That Word? (2014Dec18)

Thursday, December 18, 2014                        12:39 PM

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Oh yeah—Pussies! That’s the word. Anyone who is afraid to go see “The Interview” at a movie theater—anyone who is afraid to show the movie in their theater—all world-class pussies who bring shame to our proud heritage. Some anonymous hacker makes a vague threat against anyone going to see this movie—and we do his bidding? I could scream with frustration.

Let me be clear. I think the Seth Rogen comedy-film paradigm, even propped up by the legitimacy of his friend, James Franco’s, reputation, has run its course. I anticipated being disappointed with the derivative ‘mad-cap’ zaniness of this farce, but I’m a tough audience—I’ve watched a lot of comedy, decades of it, and I’ve become somewhat jaded. But that doesn’t mean the kids wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

One of the things that made me anticipate disappointment was the crass hook of the story—joking about assassinating a living head of state (even the head of a crapulous state like North Korea) is unquestionably in poor taste, not to mention how it suggests bad behavior—it strikes me as just about the worst premise of any comedy I’ve ever heard of. Plus, the South Park boys, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have already used the idea in “Team America: World Police”, although they were talking about Kim Jong Il, not Kim Jong Un. And it must be said that the meta-comedy of Parker and Stone is far more fertile soil for geopolitical satire than this latest offering from Rogen, the reigning king of the rom-coms (at which he is excellent).

But the quality of the film is beside the point. This is an issue of freedom of speech. How outraged we all would have been if SONY had made a boardroom decision not to release this movie for political reasons. How we would have poured into the streets in protest if our own government had tried to stop the release of this movie. But some jerk with a keyboard mentions 9/11, and we censor ourselves!? Unbelievable.

I call on SONY to release this movie immediately, to offer it on DVD, to stream it online. I call on theater owners to run this film night and day, in the name of their country. And I call on everyone to go see this no-doubt-average film, just because they don’t like being told what to do. Stop the cowering. Release “The Interview” now!