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Taking a Long Walk off a Short Pier: The election in a larger social context

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Judith Bello       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Well, there goes the game, for now. I've been thinking all along that the President, and the Democrats in general, do need a correction, now rather than later. They have not supported their constituencies. They have not made good on their promises to the people. I can live with some incompetent fanatics in the House for a couple of years. What hurts is the list of people who have been lost. Veteran Senator Russ Feingold, a consistent voice of reason, is gone from the Senate, and progressive, thought provoking Freshman Congressman Alan Grayson has lost his seat in the house. In their place we have the likes of Rand Paul and John Boehner newly empowered. Big money went into defeating Feingold, I'm told, as he is the 'face of Campaign Reform'. It's a sad debacle. Last fall, the President's own staff got rid of fellow Democrat Eric Massa, an independent thinker who supported Single Payer, and could intelligently discuss health care issues; a retired military officer passionately opposed to the disastrously expensive, strategically pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and probably the only Democrat who could hold his district which combines affluent liberal suburbs along Lake Ontario with a big piece of the impoverished and isolated region across the Southern Tier of New York State along the Pennsylvania border.

The vote went against universal health care as well as against the corrupt giveaway passed last year. It went against supporting the unemployed. All the money given to Wall Street has been forgotten, and now we want to save the economy by cutting down the safety net for Main Street. People are frustrated. An inadequate stimulus package and a convoluted, corporate friendly health care bill have not brought about recovery for the economy, or a hopeful populace. With tens of thousands of Americans just about to lose their unemployment and drop from the count of the unemployed I imagine, as well as the government support system, what will happen to the larger economy? Foreclosures are still booming. Lending is still down. Spending is still down. Corporate profits have recovered, but for how long? People with waning unemployment are suddenly receiving 0% credit card offers. What can the banks gain from this? They can keep the ship afloat a little while longer. Short term thinking is the order of the day.

Meanwhile, back at the Supreme Court, they are debating the constitutionality of a California law that forbids the sale of violent video games to children under a certain age. The WaPo title of the article, "Proposed ban puts justices in 'Mortal Kombat'" would indicate the debate is amusing. It isn't. According to the Washington Post article, the law isn't triggered unless the image being tortured, raped, dismembered or otherwise violated is clearly human. Aliens and animals need not apply. Even so, it might violate the corporate distributor's rights to restrict the sale of these games to children. This is the same court that recently decided that sexual offenders could be held for an indeterminate period beyond their sentence if it was determined that they might sin again, ummm. . . commit another crime. We don't even deny murders their rights in this way. This decision, which was released at the same time as 'Citizens United', barely made a blip in the news. They based their determination on the imminent release of an older teenager with AIDS who had been convicted of having sex with underage girls. You might ask "did he give all of them AIDS or did he get it from one of them." You also might ask whether stupidity and sexual experimentation among teenagers indicate they are incorrigible and should be imprisoned for life. Bad enough, he has AIDS.

I would like to ask the question, "What are the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit?" My son is grown and I haven't had to deal with these issues for more than ten years. Even so, it is difficult to teach your child values when big corporations have a right to sell your children anything they choose to sell, whether you want them to have it or not, and whether or not those things violate cultural norms. This was already a problem in the late 80s and early 90s. At dinner time, while I was busy and my son was bored, there were adult sitcoms on TV with misogynous jokes about prostitutes and sexuality in general. Ultra violent films that I couldn't sit through were passing the standard for PG13. A constant flow of vulgar language permeated the silly comedies that teenagers love. It doesn't have to. In some countries the silly comedies are just as silly, but they don't bother with the potty humor, cynical demeaning of the 'regular' guy and all women. The menu has deteriorated, since then, while access has increased through the big cable networks that rerun these movies and shows continuously.

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But, back to the issue at hand. Children, at least up to the age of 20 or so, have minds like a sponge. Trite, I know. But I remember all the lyrics of the songs on the radio when I was a teenager, and even the ones I didn't like all that much. I know all the lyrics and music from "My Fair Lady", "The Sound of Music", "Dr. Zivago", "Exodus" even now. In my day, the effect of horror movies was mitigated by the fact they were filmed in black and white, not technically sophisticated, and you usually saw them at the Drive-In in a car with 5 other kids. Romances in the movies neither started nor ended in a graphic sexual encounter. I remember details of the movies I saw during that period with crystal clarity, while I can't even remember what movies I saw ten years ago. I can't remember the names of the big stars now, but I know who was big when I was 12, 16, 18 years old. My thinking was colored for life by the books I read as a teenager. They influenced the way I structured my ideas later on.

So now we have kids memorizing angry rap songs full of violent language. They watch mean spirited sitcoms and reality shows where twisted characters win and are idolized because winning is the ultimate prize. At the movies (and often on TV), they watch people having sex, killing one another with abandon, and putting themselves and their friends down in a cynical, vulgar and perverse manner. They sit alone and create their own horror shows with violent video games where torture, rape and dismemberment are preliminaries to murder. The images are intensely realistic in some cases, and blood flows everywhere in living color which the screams of the victims echo in their earphones. It is the right of corporations to advertise and sell this thinking to young people who are developing the patterns of thought that will be with them for the rest of their lives. As parents, we have to stand alone between our child and the seductive influence and overwhelming ubiquitous influence of a pervasive corporate media. What they are learning now will be with them the rest of their lives. . . even if they chose at some point to repudiate it.

At the same time, we have a society where single, unmarried mothers are demeaned and punished, AIDS victims and drug addicts are often treated as criminals or subhuman perverts. At the same time a woman's right to get an abortion, or even birth control are under attack, and the schools are pressured to teach 'abstinence' rather than the use of condoms. Children go without preventive medical treatment, without adequate nutrition, and in even homeless under a paradigm where it is necessary to support the children, but forbidden to support the mother. This is impossible. We have a society where minor drug infractions can result in prison sentences of decades, while massive thefts that impoverish the entire population go unpunished. There are no jobs for the majority of the unemployed, yet they are punished as if they were lazy and shiftless.

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The military fits the current criteria of righteousness. It provides a job where one can kill and torture, and even rape women who have the temerity to show up on the battlefield, and it's righteous. The sell is on already. Today I received an email from a teacher in the City School District on the "Truth in Recruiting" list serve with the following assertions. There is a ROTC chapter at the Technical High School, and kids regularly wear their uniforms to school. At one of the city grammar schools, children were rewarded for their participation in a math contest, with treats in "Army of One" bags. This is grammar school! The army has it's own video games available for those who want to practice killing enemies in a grand context. They give them away for free in neighborhoods where the kids can't readily afford to buy games. With a little luck they might graduate to pilot an actual killer Reaper drone.

There are hundreds of poor black and immigrant Muslims in this country, entrapped by government provocateurs and jailed as 'terrorists' for plotting crimes they never would have thought of on their own, never would have acquired the resources to commit on their own, and which, in many cases, they considered only upon being offered large sums of money. There are thousands of poor undocumented workers incarcerated in holding tanks awaiting deportation for trying to feed their families. Police regularly interrogate and abuse the first amendment rights of black, Latino, Muslim and developmentally disabled individuals in the interest of national security. Individual family members are detained with no opportunity to notify their families. Whole families of undocumented workers are incarcerated for weeks and months, parents and children alike. There are people of good will, peace activists and proponents of a more generous social model, people who speak out for preserving the environment, who are being detained preemptively before planned peaceful demonstrations, and charged as 'terrorists' because they openly oppose government policy.

And now we have a 'Conservative Populist' backlash in Congress. I know, it's a contradiction in terms, but that's exactly how these TeaParty candidates who have prevailed in the recent election frame themselves. Worse, they are neither representatives of the people's interests, nor conservative in the classical sense where conservatism might indicate restraint. They use big money to broadcast a message of self sufficiency and empowerment to a battered and belittled populace of angry, frustrated people, looking for some kind of vindication. But why should we expect reason in these times of conflicting values, of immersion in a sea of conflicting messages from the media, in a time where truth and lies are juxtaposed as equals in the name of 'fairness' and 'balance'?

As for our children, what are they being taught? They are learning to feed from the hand of the devil. They are learning that their parents are not a final authority and can safely be ignored. They are learning that their families are not secure. They are learning to utilize the tools of rage and perversion without flinching. Parents, especially single mothers, are encouraged to place their children in a police run parenting program the first time they make enough noise to be noticed, even if they haven't committed a crime. Parents in non-traditional relationships are publicly derided and humiliated. Parents of youths with drug problems are encouraged to turn them over to the police as a 'consequence' of trivial offenses, and as a 'solution' for serious psychiatric problems. Children who are restless in school are drugged into subservience or sidelined and encouraged to get out of the way. These are the children who will create the future from within our already derationalized society.

It would be nice to see the current election as a temporary setback that will enable a future victory. But a victory for what? Obama is already making nice to his new companions in arms. The supreme court has made some of the most corporate centric, anti-individual rights rulings in decades. Where are we going? You tell me.


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I spent the 50s and 60s in an upwardly mobile household full of food and kids, but focused on success. From there I went to Drew University in Northern NJ, which was serious culture shock for a city girl from Upstate, but I received 2 gifts there (more...)

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Taking a Long Walk off a Short Pier: The election in a larger social context