I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

August 19, 2013 - 11:33 a.m.

Morality as Simple as Black and White

I did not sleep well last night and my anxiety is high. Let's see if I can still be my usual [insert complimentary adjective that I'm too modest to use] self. You inserted "sexy" right?

I had a lot of trouble getting things done yesterday and I couldn't accomplish the big thing I attempted. Well I could have but I felt it was wiser to sit back and give it more thought. I went to buy a phone. Now somebody told me that since the Galaxy S4 has come out the S3 is cheap, $99. I was all ready to do that. I got to Best Buy and it was $399.99 I went to Radio shack and it was the same. I just looked online and it's the same. So what do I get? My phone sucks but all the ones I looked at have smaller screens and that bothers me. Should I splurge? Should I get an s2? I'm spooked because last time I just bought the cheap phone, the ZTE and it is horrible. I want something where people can hear me and that doesn't need to be rebooted constantly. I can get the S3 for $350 if I can get it online. that means waiting and having to set it up myself with my phone number and everything on my memory card. Is that easy to do? Let me know.

I couldn't find andouille sausage anyplace and I was feeling anxious I decided to use food therapy. I decided to go to the gourmet market in Fort Greene as long as I was in the neighborhood for something special. They didn't have andouille but I bought one of their home made chorizos'. I made the soup and it did not come out well. I had to add stock late because it got way too thick. I made the sausage soup with plantain and garlic. it was OK but not the best. Next time I use andouille and I buy a measuring cup so I don't have to guess on the amount of stock.

I did manage to buy some shorts to sleep in. At least that was a success. Late last night I registered for NERFA. I need a roommate or to be added to a room. Who wants to be my roomie? I'll be back after you and up before you so I'm easy to live with.

Now it's time to dive in a difficult topic I've been planning on writing about for a while, racism, rights, and moral philosophy.

I never voted for Mayor Mike Bloomberg but I think he's a good mayor and that he's a decent person. You wouldn't guess it but everyone who has met him says how funny he is. He is not motivated by hate. He doesnt think blacks are inferior or bad. Yet he is strongly in favor of Stop and Frisk. The police stop people on the street, ask them questions, and search them. The people stopped are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. There is supposed to have to be a basis for the stop but it can be something as subjective as "furtive movement" or "a suspicious bulge." These stops made without probable cause rarely find guns, the supposed rationale. They more often lead to arrests for marijuana possession. It is only public display of marijuana that is illegal but when they make someone empty his pockets and it shows up that's the public display. Bloomberg justifies it by saying it keeps crime low. I am not going to even argue that. It isn't the point. The point is that even if it does a public good the cost fall disproportionally on minorities. That is a pattern that is repeated in many policies.

Now as I said, I don't think Bloomberg is doing it out of racial animus. I'm sure he thinks he is being rational, just as I want people to be, and weighing costs and benefits. The problem is that he is weighing the costs lower as it's outside his experience. It isn't something that happens to him or the people that he knows. It is abstract to him, not visceral.

The entire war on drugs is the same thing. blacks and whites use drugs at similar rates but the prison population of people with drug offensives is overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. The way drugs are targeted are far more likely to ensnare blacks. Again I don't think that's a conscious decision. It's just not appreciating the cost it has on the black community. Most of my Gentle Readers are white. How many of you and your friends used drugs at some point in your life. I know many of my friends have. None went to prison. Everybody will know somebody in prison for that in many black neighborhoods. There are more young black men in prison than in college. And it isn't because they are all criminals, except in the sense that half the kids I went to college with were. So we have these laws keep people from drugs but who bears the social costs?

It is very much a matter of empathy and identification. And it isn't just Mayor Bloomberg or Republicans or people you consider the others. I see it in my Facebook world. Yes here was outrage over Trevon Martin but white vigilantes are not one of the top threats facing blacks. That was a terrible thing but a personal crime not a societal one I see few posts on social justice for blacks, far fewer than I see for gays. My friends know gays, they are gay, far more than they are black.

The last thing I want to do is make it a competition between victims of prejudice. That is in fact that very point I want to make. Gay rights, women rights, immigrants rights, etc. are chimeras. There are only human rights. You don't get rights from being gay or a woman or an immigrant or black. Rights flow from being human. You have to take everyone's rights personally. If they can deny you rights for being gay they can deny you rights for being Jewish or black or left-handed. If it is acceptable to count one person as more than another then there is nothing to stop you from being the person counted less. It's the only basis for ethics. You have to expect to follow the same rules you apply to everyone else. It's just the golden rule. Do unto others . And when you don't feel for the others make a special effort. Put yourself in the other persons place and do it seriously.

I was afraid to write this because I knew I'd leave things out, important things. I knew doing it right requires more time and attention than I can give it. There is so much I didn't cover. The social costs of changes, even positive changes, are so often born by minorities and the poor. And yes sometimes there are rational and good reasons for them. We can't give up on urban development projects and the poor seem to always bear the brunt of the costs. So what are we to do? Go out of our way and into our pockets and try to not just make it up to them but more than make it up. Let the poor gain the benefits not just pay the costs.

I wanted to write about how difficult it is because discrimination is not always bad, sometimes it's not just necessary but good. When hiring rocket scientists and brain surgeons I stupid people to be discriminated against. The problem is that benign discrimination provides a cover for malignant. There is no easy solution, One size does not fit all. We just have to always keep it in mind. We have to question the prejudices of not just other people but especially ourselves.

I can chicken out and delete all this but I won't. This is far from perfect. I'm sure there are holes in my arguments you can drive a humvee through but if you aren't looking to be difficult you'll get the point and that's all I wanted. To get you thinking about things. To go outside your comfort zone.

I said to a friend the other day that its' my job here to throw Molotov cocktails. I try to be nice about it because it pretty much always is a good thing to be nice. But you can't be too subtle or nobody gets your point. Sometimes you have to just come out and say things.

OK not too bad. I'm talking about the time. I can make breakfast, shower, and get to therapy in plenty of time.






Annoying People - September 03, 2016
This Play Was The Pits - September 02, 2016
Banking on Getting Better or Avoiding Katastrophe. - September 01, 2016
Unlike Gilligan I Got Off the Island - August 31, 2016
Call of the Wilder - August 30, 2016




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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. Horvendile August 19, 2013
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