On Memorial Day and other things…

This is, of course, what has become the kick-off weekend of the summer season, and its roots in the respect for those that died in battle is frequently lost in the barbecues, pool openings, and retails sales events.

But, enough about that. While we’re on the subject (loosely) of Patriotism (with a determined capital “P”) – the US Senate failed to do anything at all about extensions to the communications data collection provisions of USA Patriot Act before recessing for the week. In short, they rejected the House’s USA Freedom Act, which would have curtailed the NSA’s ability to collect telephone data. Which, ironically, is something that the NSA, itself, is not really opposed to because it is very expensive. Then, right before they gave up and went home, they also declined to support the Republican leadership’s call for a two-month extension of the existing law. What this means – I’m really not sure. I always opposed the entire, over-arching, Patriot Act – not just selected sections – so I would happily see this piece of it expire on June 1st. And it may well do that, since Congress will not reconvene until next Sunday – which really gives them no time at all to make a decision (but I’m sure negotiations are underway). Given the way things seem to work in Washington, my unhappy guess is that they will likely approve an extension. Support for a full renewal is weak. It was never very popular, and since Edward Snowden leaked the extent of it to a public that had not paid much attention before, it is now very unpopular. And illegal, as the courts continue to affirm. So why the hell would the Senate leadership want it approved with no changes? I really don’t know, and I haven’t heard an explanation that really makes sense. Especially given that the federal courts will continue to rule against it on constitutional grounds. So – more willful ignorance in support of your donors, and not your consistency? I honestly have no clue. Anyone who thinks this makes sense, please let me know how in the comments.

I’m hopeless with popular culture, don’t watch any ‘reality’ tv, and barely know who the Duggars are, but I read an awful lot about the news late last week that the eldest son had some issues in his teens, that may or may not have been handled appropriately. I also read a great deal of for and against commentary, and I feel compelled to make a couple of observations:

  • Whether or not this qualifies as pedophilia (which has more to do with the ages and developmental stages of the girls involved), it was definitely predatory behavior. The sad fact is that sex offenders, particularly pedophiles, have extremely high rates of recidivism.
  • Whether or not they have forgiven him, the girls involved will be scarred by this for a very long time. Their ages at the time have much to do with how badly scarred they are as well.
  • I do not think his parents handled it appropriately, or in the best way that they could have – even allowing for their faith. Because he was old enough to know right from wrong, it was predatory. My husband said “hormones rule teenage boys”. Granted, but not all teenage boys act out by assaulting their sisters while they sleep. I very seriously believe that this needed more than what appears to have been done. And I think he needed some psychiatric counseling, not just faith-based. The fact that it was mishandled increases my concern that he’s at risk for repeating the behavior.
  • He may have done nothing wrong in the intervening years, but his wife should seriously consider vigilance. Statistics on recidivism, while useful, do not necessarily point to repeat behavior, and should not be used as a presumption of current guilt, let alone future guilt, but to assume that it’s in the past may not be the wisest path, either.
  • It can be argued that the family is not hypocritical for promoting their beliefs while burying a pretty serious sin of their own, but I’m not convinced. Glass houses and all that. Sometimes I think that many so-called Christians find Divine Forgiveness to be a bit too convenient. “It’s all okay, I confessed & God forgave me, so we can just move on”. But really – can you? Can your sisters? Did they? And certainly Josh was walking hypocrisy in his, recently relinquished, role with the Family Research Council. And somehow, his mother equating transgender individuals to pedophiles was a bit presumptuous, since she knew what was lurking in her family’s not-so-distant past.
  • The appalling thing about this, about every ‘reality’ family in crisis, is that these parents knowingly ceded their children’s right to privacy the minute they signed the contract allowing the cameras to roll. I realize that it takes a great deal of money to support a very large family, and that they also felt strongly enough about having a public platform to promote their particular brand of Christianity, that the inconveniences they envisioned were dismissed. I wonder if they still see it that way? And before their supporters decry the media feeding-frenzy, they should remember that this is part and parcel of what Jim Bob and Michelle signed up for. They are getting what they were paid to put up with.

“In Flanders Fields” John F. Prescott

Image from “McCRAE, JOHN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 24, 2015, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mccrae_john_14E.html.

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