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Thursday, April 24th, 2003

Today, I'm featuring Pittsburgh guest writer Joe Stafura, who wrote the following essay.

Joe Stafura, writes:

”It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't
exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution,” Senator Rick Santorum.

The statement above by Senator Santorum is obviously taken out of context, I'll make that admission straight away. However, I challenge you to insert the statement in any other context that makes you feel comfortable as an American citizen. The statement is indicative of a very dangerous trend among our elected officials, the idea that for the government to properly protect us they need to know everything about us, indeed even protect us from ourselves.

I lived in an environment very similar to this in Spain in 1975, Franco was still the dictator, the Catholic Church was the sanctioned state religion and people were well trained as to what could be said in public and the torture that you would endure if you forgot. The economy was mediocre, mobility across economic classes was non-existent, and the press was well controlled by the state to insure that the government’s message wasn’t diluted by alternate opinion. The cities were very safe statistically and violent crime was low, but interestingly so was the spirit of the population. There was little business creation and no real artist community.

My second year in Spain Franco died and the country under went a planned transition to democracy, the jails were emptied of the "created criminals” mostly violators of the laws created to protect the populations from themselves and the ideas and behaviors that weren't deemed inline with the dictators’ ideas of "traditional family values.” They were imprisoned without charges, similar to recent occurrences in the US.

A good friend of mine a lawyer whose father was a highly placed official and had great wealth but had lived his life safely but without freedom described the difference as "the change was like a gray cloth being removed from our country", he understood the advantages that a liberal and tolerant society provide to all.

I was proud to see that Spain’s economy has now reached a level of performance surpassing Germany and France, this was clearly made possible through this strange link to freedom and tolerance. Freedom is a difficult concept to explain or understand, but the things that make it work are often repulsive to some, the US has come to understand that contradiction and as a result has become the greatest country in the world.

As an individual who has lived in both environments and had the advantage of seeing the before and after I am asking Senator Santorum to step down, and the leaders in government to stop asking for us to give up our freedom and independence to remain safe. When my Grandfathers passed through Ellis Island on their way to the mills and the mines it wasn’t to be safe, it was to be free. The typical American family is one that accepts other beliefs and is tolerant of ideas that they do not agree with, the sooner we reestablish our bonds to that past the better I will sleep at night, and I won't be wearing a gas mask or a mop suit...ever."

(Editor's Note: The thoughts and opinions expressed by guest writers may not be those of GlenGreenDotCom.)

In the spirit of Joe Stafura's essay, I'll point out that Pennsylvania's Republican Senator Rick Santorum made additional, irrational statements during an April 7th, 2003 Associate Press Interview.

"I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. As I would with acts of other, what I would consider to be, acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships. And that includes a variety of different acts, not just homosexual."

Santorum also said during the interview, "We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold -- Griswold was the contraceptive case -- and abortion. And now we're just extending it out."

In case readers don't find sympathy for what might be perceived as "gay causes" (and not privacy issues), I include this editorial from the Blogger, UggaBugga which points out in an April 23rd, 2003 posting:

"While we sympathize with gays and others on issues of privacy, we think the most potent aspect of Santorum’s comments were the attack on married couples.

Santorum believes:

  • The government should have the ability to regulate contraceptive use by married couples.

  • Certain sexual practices should be outlawed even for married couples.

    The left will be foolish to concentrate on the gay issue (meritorious though it might be). But comments disparaging gays are issued on a near-regular basis by Republicans. So it’s nothing new. And also, from a political point of view, gays are easy to dismiss by the right. But here we have the 3rd ranking Senate Republican saying that the government has a role in the bedroom of married couples. That’s a huge demographic. Don’t lose sight of it.

    UPDATE: As expected Rush Limbaugh is framing the issue as one of gay outrage towards Santorum."

  • Tuesday, April 22nd, 2003

    April 22nd, 2003 is Earth Day.
    Fragile Earth
    Give an extra thought to your fragile planet today.

    Friday, April 18th, 2003

    My car is back. It is supposedly fixed. They didn't charge me. No mechanic's blood will be shed today.

    Wednesday, April 16th, 2003

    I woke up around 4am this morning, and just decided to head to work.

    It was a good drive in, peaceful with little traffic. The weather has been tremendous, with temperatures in the 80's yesterday, and more of the same forecast for today. The city looked silvery and gold under the pink and purple dawn sky. I'll probably be sleepy by 2 in the afternoon, but the solitary morning has made it worth while.

    Thanks to Corey Davis for the lead on the following bit of prose. Given the gloating, self-righteous, fist pumping, trumpet blowing, feel-good pseudo-patriotism that is infecting our mass-media (and too much of the populace), I find the last two paragraphs particularly meaningful.

    From The Tao Te Ching
    - A Translation by Stan Rosenthal :


    Weapons of war are instruments of fear,
    and are abhorred by those who follow the Tao.
    The leader who follows the natural way
    does not abide them.

    The warrior king leans to his right,
    from whence there comes his generals' advice,
    but the peaceful king looks to his left,
    where sits his counsellor of peace.
    When he looks to his left, it is a time of peace,
    and when to the right, a time for sorrow.

    Weapons of war are instruments of fear,
    and are not favoured by the wise,
    who use them only when there is no choice,
    for peace and stillness are dear to their hearts,
    and victory causes them no rejoicing.

    To rejoice in victory is to delight in killing;
    to delight in killing is to have no self-being.

    The conduct of war is that of a funeral;
    when people are killed, it is a time of mourning.
    This is why even victorious battle
    should be observed without rejoicing.

    Monday, April 14th, 2003

    My Dodge Neon is broken again, this is the second time in about two weeks, and the fourth time since October. My car has the exact same symptoms, but the Ross Park Dodge dealership keeps telling me that it might be the same symptoms, but that doesn't mean it is the same problem.

    One of the chief reasons I return to this dealership, though it is probably evil, is that it is conveniently located at the bottom of my hill.
    I suppose that is how most evil gets by - it is conveniently located. - Not like those wholesome, but distant garages located in the country where my dad assures me he could get the car fixed, washed and polished for a nickel.

    I hate the whole garage experience. They can tell you anything they want, and even if you know your carburetor from a head gasket, you are still stuck taking their word for much of it. - People remind me that I can always ask for the part that they replace. But what good does that do? All they have to do is either fish out an old oil pan from the trash, or punch a hole in mine. Either way they'll show me the broken piece, and I'll nod, "Yep. That's a broken piece all right."

    The other reason I return to the same evil car dealership is that once you start with them, you convince yourself that this time you'll bend their arm until they admit their wrong doings and fix it for free. In reality, they examine the car for free, and then tell you what new part is broken and the cost to fix it. - And of course, how can they expect to fix a newly broken piece for free? The car worked well for a while - right? So this is a new problem, they say.

    During today's call to the mechanic I explained that it is unreasonable that I should have the car into their garage three or four times, spend nearly a thousand dollars and still encounter the same exact symptoms. Then the mechanic pulls up my records and starts reading them. They accounts were taken months apart, by different people. Each mechanic concentrated on a different phrase. I'd have a fifteen minute conversation and it would get boiled down to three short sentences. - I pointed out that one mechanic concentrates on the word, 'shakes', while another mechanic puts down the word, 'skips'; one notes, 'overheating', the next, 'engine light', and so forth. But I reiterated that it is the exact same problem. From their perspective, the variation of descriptions is proof that the car has been in the shop for different reasons. And each time it is in the shop, something new is fixed.

    The circular thinking is tiresome.

    I've written down a description of the problem, and will hand it to them this time. They are going to look at it for free. If they won't also fix it for free, I'm going to sic "my people" on them. Then they will suffer... Or at least I'll take it to a less evil garage. Perhaps I'll compromise with a part evil, part convenient garage in the suburbs.

    Thursday, April 10th, 2003

    Last night I was watching TV news and saw footage of an American soldier in Iraq firing his machine gun from his sand-bagged fox hole. The soldier swore, and the TV news bleeped it out.

    Such strange sanitation of information.

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