Music on Monday

“Season of the Witch” by Donovan

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Men being men, words and deeds

The manufactured outrage (OUTRAGE!) outfit is at it again, this time taking to task Donald Trump for some unbecoming chatter he and another man took part in over a decade ago. The press and ‘our betters’, are shocked (SHOCKED!) that a man now running for the Presidency could speak in such a manner. Therefore, the good and righteous thing to do, of course, is refuse to vote for Mr. Trump come election day. After all, that would serve him right!

Please, spare me the outrage.

Now, anyone who knows me in real life knows that I’m somebody who is pretty softspoken, and rarely uses any vulgarity at all. However, once I was a teenager, a good percentage of my friends were male. None of them were degenerates. However, after awhile I noticed something peculiar – although I had never asked or demanded it, there were times when I would approach a male-only conversation when it was obvious that the language or tenor of the conversation changed at my arrival. I could have jumped the gun and been offended with this, but because I knew these young men, my logical brain jumped in and told me that this was nothing to be upset with, that as much as I was a good friend to them, there was definitely a difference between how guys talk amongst themselves and how they talked in mixed company. It was something left unsaid, but I believe that this was something that strengthened our friendships; that I didn’t demand from them that they change, and that because they truly did respect me as a good friend and a member of the opposite sex, they behaved a little differently when I was around.

Fast forward a few years to where I was working on a military installation in one of their recreation facilities which also served alcohol. Of course, even in the military, there are creeps, but by and large, the men – and they were mostly men – who patronized this place were honorable guys. Not perfect, of course, but honorable. However, you have got to believe that the language that these men used amongst themselves was not all the kind used in polite company. By and large, they did their best to keep it amongst themselves, but if you weren’t the type of female who could handle some salty and vulgar language, this really wasn’t the place for you. I suppose that a feminist might demand that these male soldiers ‘reform’, however, those of us working there understood that these men needed their ‘safe spaces’, where they could kick back and relax amongst other men. I don’t even make the claim that most men even engage in the type of language that Donald Trump and Billy Bush were caught in, and I congratulate those men who don’t, but the ‘locker room talk’ stuff doesn’t bother me all that much because it’s pretty much all bluster and braggadocio, a way men – especially those with big egos – make idle conversation.

This brings me to a second point. For whatever vulgar comments that Donald Trump was recorded saying years and years ago, this does not compare in the least to the things that the former President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, actually did. Not only that, but his wife, who is now running for the same office, consistently acted, not as a champion of her sex, but in a manner which would cement the influence and power of herself and her husband, no matter what the cost. If this meant slandering a 12-year-old rape victim in court, so be it. Collateral damage.

Much has been made about Donald Trump’s “stunt”, bringing four Clinton victims in front of reporters before the second Presidential debate this past Sunday. All four have gone through horrific experiences at the hands of men. And yet despite tape being made public of some raunchy material out of the mouth of Donald Trump, all four of them endorsed Trump, understanding that there is a wide gulf between things said and things done. This statement speaks as powerfully as anything else, that while Donald Trump surely is no angel, these women, all survivors of sexual trauma, would rather see Trump elected President than the alternative. Their stories are a testament to that.

Daily Mail Hit-Piece on Religious Practice

The Daily Mail, a newspaper from the United Kingdom, and one of the most widely-read online newspapers in the world, recently posted the story of an Indian girl by the name of Aradhana Samdhariya, a 13-year-old who died, allegedly as the result of taking part of a religious fast. The article begins thus:

“A 13-year-old girl died in Hyderabad after she was forced to fast for 64 days as part of a community ritual of fasting during the holy period of Chaturmas.

The city police launched an inquiry into the incident after a child rights NGO demanded a probe.”

Chaturmas is a Jain period of fasting, but not knowing much about Jainism (about .4% of Indians identify as Jains), I have no idea what this fasting entails. Orthodox Christians, for example, often fast by reducing the amount of food eaten and eliminating certain foods, but it is almost unheard of to try to completely abstain from food during all the Orthodox fasting periods. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast completely, but only from sunup to sundown. Unfortunately, no explanation of what a typical fast for Chaturmas looks like is provided. In one book reference I found, albeit referencing Chaturmas in a Hindu context, it describes the Chaturmas fast as a period of cutting back, not necessarily of eating nothing for the entire period.

The article also says the girl was forced to participate by the family and community. However, in a Reuters article covering the same topic, it states that, according to the parents, the girl was a willing participant, and that she had completed a similar fast last year.

One huge discrepancy between the two articles is that the Daily Mail claims that the girl was only in the third day of the fast when her blood pressure dropped precipitously, and was then taken to the hospital, where she died. The Reuters article claims that everyone was already celebrating the end of the fast, which had been completed the day before the girl died. If the Daily Mail is correct, it is almost certain that another medical issue was at play here, as a healthy 13-year-old would probably be hungry from not eating anything for three days, but may even handle it better than an adult. As for the longer number, one has to assume that it wasn’t a complete fast, and without further information, it’s hard to make any judgement on what actually happened.

I also put the following things out for consideration: This girl lived in India. From the pictures, she was quite beautiful, and it looks as though her family treated her well. Consider, too, that in India, daughters are often considered a liability, and by their teens, many are working in terrible conditions trying to survive or have been married off. This girl was still attending school – a Catholic one at that – and was in the 10th grade. In this type of culture, had the parents not cared, why go through the bother and expense of educating her? Was no one at her school aware of what was going on? Again, this is a point where the articles differ, but the Daily Mail also claims that once the girl’s blood pressure dropped, she was taken to the hospital. If this was truly murder, as some have characterized it, why go through the trouble and expense.

The fact of the matter is is that this type of story is written and disseminated in large part to try to discredit religion and to ridicule those observing religious practice outside of designated places of worship. The Daily Mail piece is self-contradictory and poorly written, but serves as a place for commenters to denounce religion and congratulate themselves for being so ‘reasonable’ rather than religious. For this reason, I consider the article a ‘hit-piece’. Considering all the children in India who live in deplorable conditions, I have a hard time understanding why this case is garnering so much attention, including calls from an NGO to have the parents arrested for murder and their other daughters removed from their custody. The Reuters article even has a quote from an area politician. Call me cynical, but when the politicians get involved, it leads me to suspect that the uproar over this case may have more to do with certain Hindu political factions that are intolerant of minority religions in India more than anything else.

The sad thing is that sometimes children will die, some even in ‘preventable’ deaths. But even in the case of ‘preventable’ deaths, it doesn’t mean that a death was deliberate or could have been foreseen. This is a tragic story, yes, but hardly the outrage that many seem to make it out to be.

(As for outrage and barbaric practices involving children, check out this story pertaining to Ashura Warning: extremely disturbing images), also from India and reported by the Daily Mail as well as highlighting India’s minority religions, but which the Daily Mail has no ‘expert’ or politician denounce.)

Rejecting the Values of the “Elite”

Just recently, ‘Bookworm’ at Bookworm Roomwrote a very interesting piece about elite mindset, which can be found here: Hillary‚Äôs Sheeple Revel in Their Mindless Ignorance. It is a really well written piece, which also got me to thinking, and the following is a take-off from her points.

Many years ago, I remember sitting at a very nice cafe in Berlin after attending an opera with my political science instructor and other students on the study-abroad program I was on. After awhile, a couple of the lead performers in the opera came to sit at the table next to us. Our program wasn’t based in Berlin, but this instructor had accompanied us there, and at this cafe she was meeting with a friend. She and the friend were definitely people who “belonged” in this type of setting.

I, on the other hand, had a very hard time even comprehending how I came to be in this place at all. After all, here I was, an American, and a midwesterner to boot, child of a broken home who had lived in places known primarily for drugs, gangs, and violence. Even more shocking, though, was a comment by the instructor to her friend when she came to introducing me, noting that I was a very ‘cultured’ person.

For me, this was mindblowing, as I had never thought of myself in that way, nor would I ever had said that about myself in a million years. I struggled to understand why she would say this at all, and eventually came to realize a few things. First of all, I have a curious mind, and as a child read voraciously. Secondly, I had grown up in a large city, where ‘exposure’ to different peoples and cultures is just normal. Between the two, I knew a lot of things and was familiar with a lot of things that I’d guess that a lot of other students on the trip had no idea about. Besides this, for many of the students on the trip, a study-abroad program was regarded as party time, with minimal attention paid to studies. I, on the other hand, had paid dearly to go on this trip, and I was determined to make the most of it. Furthermore, although I had never leared the manners and mannerisms of the upper classes, I certainly tried to be polite wherever I happened to be. And so maybe, just maybe, I was pulling off a little bit of the act of being ‘cultured’.

However, short of becoming rich and famous, I knew I would never inhabit the circles of the elite. Although with my background, it would have been difficult in the first place, not having connections to the ‘right people’ or having gone to the ‘right schools’, with my knowledge and skills, I don’t think it would have been impossible to do some breaking into the more elite classes.

The problem is, I never thought that time and energy was worth it. I have travelled extensively. I have lived abroad (and am even decent at foreign languages). I continue to be interested in all kinds of things. However, at this point in my life, I am a wife and homeschooling mom, involved in church, the epitome of the kind of person that so many of the elite rail against for not being progressive enough in my thoughts and actions.

My attitude has changed, too, from seeing elite status as something that I was just unlucky enough not to be born into, to being something that I actively reject. On one hand, my rejection may seem like it’s meaningless, being as elite status was nothing offered me, but consider it like the pretty girl that absolutely needs everyone to like her, regardless of whether the boys had any chance for a relationship with her at not. Although she wouldn’t have considered the ‘yokel’ for anything except derision, it drives her crazy that he doesn’t want her in the first place, and so she has to keep working at trying to get his attention. He, on the other hand, just wants her to leave him alone.

I believe the vast majority of the American people have rejected the elite. Whether that is an out-and-out rejection based on religious or philosophical reasons or the idea that we just want to be left in peace, it drives the elite classes crazy. And so, they cannot help but try to inject their values into places that one could reasonably assume would be ideologically neutral. Hence, politics in football or in shopping. This year alone, we see the effects of this rejection in the falling ratings of the NFL and in the fortunes of Target. It baffles and angers the elite, but they do not understand that for the majority of us, our lives are full, happy, and vibrant without them. Of course, even though these are the people who chide others to ‘coexist’, shunning the self-importance of the elites and their values absolutely cannot be tolerated, resulting in the constant pushes toward silencing those differing opinions, by whatever means necessary.

Insincerity as an art form

One of the reasons that I stopped watching Saturday Night Live many years ago is that the tone of the acting seemed to change. Actors, as a matter of course, deal with the unreal, and throw themselves into roles to make themselves believable as the characters that they portray.

This is also true for a show like Saturday Night Live, regardless of the fact that a lot of these characters are portrayals of real people, and done with large helpings of satire and sarcasm. However, it seems like there came a point, probably in the early 2000s or so, when there seemed to be a change from actors doing humor and satire and really getting into the roles and, by and large, enjoying them to where it seemed like every skit was done with an edge of insincerity, as though basically they are trying to convince the audience that they’ve discovered the false world the stage is, and every performance is going to demonstrate that it’s all a lie. Call it “creepy clown complex” or some such.

There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering about these observations, I suppose, but one of the things that stuck out to me during the first Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was Clinton’s affect – it seemed as though it came from the modern Saturday Night Live. There was absolutely nothing that convinced me that anything that came from her mouth had any connection to what she was thinking or feeling; that the words she said were like a Saturday Night Live script, overperformed with that air of insincerity that has taken over a lot of sketch comedy these days. Trump may not have had a stellar performance, but if anything, it seemed like there’s a real person behind the mask, which is why, despite Clinton’s much more ‘polished’ performance, it didn’t seem to make people feel like she won.

I have no idea whether Saturday Night Live is in a new season, or if there’ll be a new episode on this Saturday night. However, if there is, I do have to wonder how they would handle this comedically, being as Clinton seems to have already mastered insincerity as an art form.