Saturday, January 19, 2008

All Pharmacists Cannot Be Nancy Reagan

Not quite an explosion onto mainstream media, more like a dribble over the affiliates, it has recently made national news that the Indiana General Assembly is trying again to pass an old bill that would create/ease a pharmacist’s “right to refuse” service, in this case based upon religious belief (among other factors). While there are already several states that support this practice by law, there’s no time like the present to address the situation either with national interest or in all remaining states.

This is not a new issue. “Right to refuse” clauses or “conscience” clauses, specifically as they relate to abortion drugs, have been around since Roe v. Wade. Clicking here gives a great breakdown of all the states pushing legislation in one direction or the other over this topic. Clicking here shows the verbiage in the formerly proposed Indiana bills.

Okay, so we all know where the argument goes. On one side it’ll aim to say that if any pharmacists are allowed to do this, then what’s stopping them from exercising a “right to refuse” over any other drug beyond morning after pills or any other customers beyond pregnant or possibly pregnant women? After all, a law cannot name a specific product or group. The other side will claim that these pharmacists are providing a Samaritan human service by “refusing,” similar to a firefighter that rescues a baby from certain doom or a conscientious objector soldier who refuses to fire in war. I’d like to take the discussion out a little wider than abortion drugs, though.

Even if a “right to refuse” sounds new to you, toward your likes or dislikes, it is, in fact, a concept we deal with everyday. Most of us have seen the sign in the convenience store reading “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” We all know that any clerk, customer service rep., sales person, or manager is permitted to simply withhold service if you are belligerent, cussing, threatening, physical, lewd, or generally being a pain in the ass. I can refuse you service if you’ve broken a contract or failed to pay. Libraries can kick you out for talking, cinemas for the same, museums for touching works of art, airports for being on a list, former employers for claiming you were disgruntled, some hospitals for having the wrong insurance, lending bureaus for having poor credit, restaurants for bringing in food from competitors, bars for drunken behavior, amusements parks for not sitting correctly in the rides, government buildings for failing to produce proper I.D., or even beaches for not swimming inside the ropes. All of these exercised “rights to refuse” seem reasonable to most of us. They are so commonplace, in fact, that we might consider them a required component of running a business.

Additionally, there is the more top-down notion that an employer or corporation should not be able to FORCE you, as an employee, to do anything that is against your moral beliefs or religion. Banco Popular cannot force tellers not to worship on Easter Sunday. Blimpies cannot insist that Muslim counter workers eat bacon on their lunch hour during Ramadan. Circuit City cannot add “stab that Commodore 64 moron in the neck” to a salesperson’s job description, even if that employee is a once violent ex-con. Yes, if employers ask you and you refuse them, you won’t be long for that job, but that is also why we have the fallback of wrongful termination suits.

Given this dual tier, common sense familiarity with “rights of refusal” in the conscious mainstream, it’s a surprising wonder that when applied to pharmacists it would get such a rise out of people. Sure, the focus on that one set of drugs brings with it all the ire of the medical abortion debate, but people who’ve never cared one way or the other about the legality of non-spontaneous abortions have thrown a great many hats into this “conscience” clauses ring. And, it is a dangerous, morally relativistic ring.

Assume for the moment that I am against conscience clauses, that I want them eliminated either from pharmacies in particular, or from all businesses as they relate to the customer. Perhaps the strongest argument to rid the world of the “right to refuse” is that the practice is a form of prejudice or discrimination. Refusing to sell a person a product is reasonably similar to a cabby refusing to pick up a pregnant woman. Refusing to fill a prescription is oddly comparative to not giving African-Americans a homeowner’s application at an open house. Even if the practice itself is not intrinsically biased, it is a very easy practice to abuse for the sake of bias. So, in order to counter the idea that “right to refuse” is similar to prejudice, my opponents will claim the act is based upon the pill, not upon the customer. They’ll make the counter-argument akin to the particular product, not the consumer. That’s a rough road for them to take, given that these pills, like others, will overwhelmingly be purchased by women, and that they will ALL be purchased FOR women like pre-natal vitamins, estrogen pills, medications to ease menopause, vaginal healthcare products, and anything bombastically pink.

While the counter-argument might not be completely convincing, I, as the presumed opponent of conscience clauses have to account for and deal with it anyway. This generally ropes me down from my “discrimination” high horse and lands me on a platform of “domino effect.” That’s to say that I would need to change angles, take the next most obvious route, and instead argue that if a pharmacist is allowed to refuse any customer one set of pills, what’s to keep her/him and all pharmacists from refusing all kinds of services based upon all kinds of belief systems. Pharmacist Edgar might refuse my anti-HIV cocktail because he believes my impending disease to be a gay curse and further proclaims that homosexuality is a superlative sin. Pharmacist Tallulah might fill 400 milligrams of my 2600 milligram prescription because she believes doctors over medicate. Pharmacist Deepak might refuse to give me any service whatsoever because I mentioned, three conversations ago, that I was a divorcĂ©. Well, this is a great argument. It makes sense to so many people. Granted, opponents will claim such things will never happen and then we wind up in this junior high school debate spiral.

“Yes they will!

“No they won’t!”

“Yes they will, poopy head!

The spiral aside, domino effect is an understandable platform. I was vey careful NOT to discuss my political affiliations and points of view with the dentist right before he gave me a root canal. Sure, he picks up CNN on the same monitor with my dental x-rays, a monitor that during my exquisite torture only he could see and watch, but the last thing I needed was him taking out his election primaries dismay on my exposed, raw nerve. Duh! None of us like to imagine how that situation might turn out if we were forced to agree with all dentists’ political leanings before getting extra Novocain. We fear domino effect. We perceive it, acknowledge it, and prevent it. Recessions and depressions are domino effect. Nations falling to Communism was a domino effect. Why not pharmacists’ “right to refuse?” It’s a great argument. Don’t let any pharmacist refuse to give out any drug and we’ll never have to worry about all of them doing it with all drugs. Oh wait, where have we heard that argument before? Ah yes, gun control!

Here comes the dangerous moral relativism I spoke of. If I make the supposition that many of the people who’d oppose a pharmacist’s right to refuse skew to the political left by nurture, well then they are the same people that have been trying to convince right wingers there would be NO domino effect if we take away certain firearms. One cannot make the anti-domino effect argument for conscience clauses without opening up the door on overblown NRA assertions. By arguing this way that Donna should get her pill after she was raped, is to also argue that Manny the American ex-con gets his pick of AK-47 arsenals. Damn! So near, and yet so far.

Now, let’s go the other way. Let’s presume for the next moment that I am pro “right to refuse,” if even because I am simply pro anything with the word rights in it. Perhaps the easiest way to start this argument is with a future tense.

“So, one day, American doctors and psychologists and legislators decide that suicide is not a form of murder, but a patient’s choice. I, as a pharmacist, in good conscience am supposed to give them a big death pill? Am I as a pharmacist supposed to trust more in my nation’s ability to promote the common good than I am my own ability to spare a life standing right in front of me?”
There’s something basically human about the idea that doing one’s job well is defined by the limits to which we’d take it. We don’t think that a professional football player is any better if he keeps running to Montana after scoring the touchdown. In fact, we’d think he’s nuts. No reasonable person would claim that self-inflicted 17 hour workdays are anything but highly negative workaholism. Heck, we even give the most powerful job in the world, the U.S. Presidency, all kinds of limits, parameters, checks and balances and thereafter define a President’s “job-well-done” by how precisely s/he stayed within those strictures. Is it at all odd, then, that some doctors under the same Hippocratic Oath refuse to perform abortions or that some pharmacists under the Oath of a Pharmacist, an oath that includes a passage on ethical conduct, exercise their right to refuse? Isn’t setting limits part of a job-well-done? Are they really supposed to become a doctor or a pharmacist one year and then dole out every drug and every procedure that crops up in years to come no matter how radical or controversial? Do we not simply think they are better at their own jobs if they take the mental moment to say, “Stop, wait a second, let’s examine if this is really in congruence with my patient, my oath, and my knowledge?”

Opponents to this view on conscience clauses often go right for the frequented point of view, “What about the rights of the patients?” The law said they could have the prescription. The doctor who examined them lent all the professional weight of making out the prescription. The insurance company was even willing to pay for the prescription. Who is a pharmacist at the tail end of the service provider chain to say that a particular person should not be sold that particular prescription? Even more so, who is a pharmacist to countermand a medical doctor? The argument is the basic, tell-tale wisdom our parents taught us about rights. We were never to let the exercising of our own rights extend to the tip of somebody else’s nose. That is the historical difference between “rights” and “equal rights.”

So, this time, as the presumed pro “right to refuse” junkie, in accounting for the most frequented counter-argument, I dial my stance down a few notches from the lofty oaths and good job defense to now land these shoes on a platform of endless examples.

“What if women, once again, no longer had the right to refuse any random guy for sex?”

“What if Nancy Reagan never taught children to just say no to illegal drugs?”

“What if unions had never strengthened employees’ rights, many of which were based on the refusal to be abjectly abused?”

“What if the Boston Tea Party never took place?”

Insert your own pre-1964 examples here. There are a million of them. The new argument becomes the simplified idea that there is a lot of good demonstrated throughout history by both the practice of granting legally covered rights to refuse and, by extent, in listening to the very words that make up the phrase. Refusal empowers, it protects rights, it prevents catastrophe; it draws a line in the sand defining character, change, and perspicacity.

New opponents then jump in on this litany of examples with their contrasting case that states “none of those examples have anything to do with the sale of products and services.” They wish to assert that in order for equal rights to prevail through their infancy in a system of free enterprise, then at the very least we must make all products available to all consumers. We must collectively decide that the historic examples of “right to refuse” cannot apply to a product line or supply chain, to a service driven industry or person to person transaction. This leads again to the now familiar gambit,

“Sure we can.”

“No we can’t!”

“Of course we can, poopy head!”

I don’t truly see, given the eventual degradation into poopy head byplay, how anyone can firmly stand on any of the common arguments for or against conscience clauses. Sure I don’t want to have to go to seven pharmacists to find one who’ll fill my anti-anal leakage prescription. But, you know what? I also don’t want my daughter to be forced to sell a house to a customer who’s cupped her ass in the real estate office. I don’t want to be coerced to do every damn thing my yutz employer might insist I try, yet I also do not want do any damn thing the customer thinks I should do whilst calling me a fuckwad and insisting that the customer is always right.

My take is two-fold. First, we have laws, with regard to equal rights, that provide we cannot disallow anyone from entering our businesses based on race, ethnicity, creed, etc. There are still African-Americans alive who remember not being able to go into certain lunch counters or play on certain baseball teams. This is not some figment of revisionist history. They sat at the back of the bus, drank from separate fountains, used different bathrooms, went to different schools, and altogether were treated as less than. Those laws provided a necessary component to a truer America, one that did something to rectify its own atrocities. I find it interesting that pursuant to the interpretation of these equal rights laws and the simultaneous interpretations of “right to refuse” legislation, that any customer might now be allowed, by law, into the neighborhood, via the front of the bus, through the front doors of an establishment, up and down the aisles, only to still be refused service at checkout. By “interesting” I mean, how is that different than 1942?

I think there is some through line to a logic which would imply that if a customer is allowed into your business, that same customer must be provided your service within that business. Would this not be a self-evident truth? So long as a customer is not tampering with product, disturbing the peace, or doing something else worthy of getting them thrown out (acts that are covered by other laws and therefore not needing “right to refuse” clauses), then that’s it. Your personal feelings about their choice of product are irrelevant.

Secondly, let’s remember, with regard to pharmacists, that prescription drugs are controlled substances. They are legal controlled substances, but nationally controlled nonetheless. All of the legislators, companies, lobbyists, scientists, doctors, researchers, voters, officers, and associations involved with deciding how a substance is controlled are far too vast for any one crusader to veto solo. They’ve determined the exact process a person must go through to obtain said substances and when a person does so IN GOOD CONSCIENCE only to be turned away, it completely undermines the masses it took to make such a grand decision structure in the first place. Pharmacists are not the leaders of their own little nation. They didn’t go to school to become Ivan the Terrible. I understand that part of the job is something that goes against the grain of your ethical make-up. Then why do you have that job? Is it true with every job? Can we “refuse” to do any work based on the notion that all jobs go against our religion?

If it’s going to be right against right, right to refuse verses consumer rights, then I believe they stack like this. The person in the role of the pharmacist can go anywhere, anywhere at all to practice their right to refuse. Simply sitting on the couch NOT giving out pills is an exercise of that right. It’s a non-act by nature. You can go NOT do anything, anywhere. On the other hand, your establishment is the only place that rape victim can go to exercise her rights, rights that were already violated at least once. Taking away her one place to practice her right in order to maintain ALL your many places doesn’t seem equal with regard to rights at all. For Americans, rights without equality mean nothing. Don’t take my word for it. Here are some other entries:

Druggists Refuse to Give Out Pill

Pharmacists Rights at Front of New Debate

The Right To Refuse Service

Should Pharmacists Be Allowed to Refuse Service

It seems to me that nobody can force a store to carry a particular product, distasteful or no. I can't make Target carry Super Juggs 2008: The Sleeze Expo Edition. I can't make Dillard's carry unitards for men studying ballet or Japanese import Music CDs. Each business decides upon its custom consist to maximize profit and to evoke an atmosphere attractive toward targeted clientele. In the case of controlled substances, however, targeted clientele is EVERYONE. We control controlled substances in a manner that impacts everyone. Everyone needs to go through the same process to get these products. Everyone is subject to the same punishments if they get these products any other way. Everyone is still liable after getting these products for subsequent abuse of said products. It's a web of necessities used as both control and deterrent. One doesn't need to jump through any hoops to order off of However, if one does choose to navigate the web or jump through the hoops to get the proper medications, webs and hoops that we all set up for society's benefit, then we cannot opt to penalize righteous care seekers for doing so in the end. We cannot make the act of obtaining something illegally, wrong, AND the act of obtaining something legally, wrong. Pharmaceuticals distribution is a business that has no particularly targeted clientele. Everyone gets sick and hurt and therefore everybody needs care. This indicates that business owners who opt-in to an industry that serves all people have opted out of the choice of what products to carry or to sell.


Bobby Fischer

I don’t know what the blogging equivalent of a moment of silence would be, but I’d like to make one for Bobby Fischer. Having passed yesterday,1/18/2008, the famed Fischer was a never-ending inspiration to logicians and chess enthusiasts like me. Where “inspiration” would fail to articulate what he meant to the world, “paragon” might better scratch the surface. He was enigmatic, dauntlessly passionate, and an icon of fragile, human Americana even beyond his time as an American citizen. Yes, the very notion of his passing ripples through the chess world like an earthquake of sadness and loss. To whatever degree he was the living embodiment of the art of chess, his death is all the more palpable, an unbeatable king laid down in resignation.

Yet, limiting Fischer’s 64 years to the mere 64 squares on a chess board is to rob the meaning that this particular life provided our sometimes forgetful and frequently fickle lot. To say that only chess masters, strategists, gamers, or mathematicians mourn his absence would unjustly frame his death as bleakly more untouchable than his life. Bobby Fischer was the proof, the PROOF that a mind ever set on perfecting even a particular aspect of conscious choice is one that functionally reaches distant, distant realms of human capacity. If any of us put half the mental energy into our marriages as Fischer did into chess, dysfunction would be eliminated from psychology’s bag of couplehood labels. If anyone put the certainty of concept to execution into their career the same way Fischer planned out not only his next game, but his next fifty games, all rewards of the American dream wouldn’t be far behind. Fischer was a master of refining infinite possibilities into a manageable, beneficial series of choices foreseen before such choices had even presented themselves. He wasn’t a psychic, a soothsayer, a magician, or an angel. Rather, the multitudes of future things to come were genuinely interesting enough to him in his present to study, to anticipate, and to be wholly involved with as if they were physically realities in the now. He made things happen, a simple person outrightly attacking the complex. He took much joy in the doing. Winning was to be like him and our plain, old losses made us marvel and wonder as to how Fischer did it.

It’s almost as if the reclusion Fischer experienced through much of life was aptly meant to prepare us for his absence in his death, to leave us with the feeling that somewhere, somewhere out there is a hidden champion we can aspire to equaling, to surpassing. Fischer may not have defined the win, but he unquestionably redefined the winner. With a game, perhaps one of the most trivial aspects of humanity, Fischer carved out an exemplary path from obscurity to titan, and then just as easily showed us that there was no difference between the two. It was as if to say, “Here America, this is how you do it.”

Now, it’s our move.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bar None

While I’m not up enough on the early release of AP affiliate news around the globe to bring you information you probably haven’t already heard, I did think this article about the proposal to ban swearing in St. Louis bars deserved some further debate.

The article contends that police officers in the area need greater leeway in promoting the public peace, specifically in rowdy, night-crowd bars. The proposal is said to lump in the act of cussing with a short list of other “questionable” practices which, if outlawed, would give police the exceptional berth they’d need for better crowd control.

Um, am I allowed to say “screw debate” or “this is fucking ridiculous?” Perhaps “pish-tosh” would be more appropriate. Our illustrious Bullet of My Pants once put it very succinctly. “You cannot make being an asshole against the law!”

I suppose, however, that my mere swearing in an obscure blog entry does little to show these life-o-phobes for the mental nonparticipants that they are. I am absolutely certain that the St. Louis meeting scheduled to discuss the topic will be all but laughed out of existence. Nonetheless, if I trust only in the skimped human gathering of a far off Metropolis to learn from this proposed, obtuse doctrine, I’d be failing my readers. Okay, reader.

Why? Why bars? Well, let’s first handle the “why not” of the tale. This is NOT to give law enforcement officers more leeway for crowd control. That’s a lie. I am well aware that the tenants of freedom as observed in our nation leave a great many law enforcement officers with the feeling of having their hands tied. It is the observance of that feeling that actually makes a great many heroes, their awareness of their limitations, their need to supplement allowable force with immense doses of simple human appeal. An officer who refuses to overstep bounds or who acknowledges the privileges awarded her/him in enforcement is usually a fine example for the rest of the force. More often it is the staunch, black-and-white philosophy of law enforcement that sees hypocrisies and even law breaking on the part of officers and legislators.

I guarantee this “outlaw swearing” idea is not coming from an officer(s) who feels her/his hands are tied. Those officers already know that there is far and away enough existing legislation to do what they need to do in a bar crowd or any other crowd. “Disorderly conduct” ring any bells? Do “noise ordinances” sound familiar to anyone? A heavier handed “inciting to riot” might even come into play here. “Public intoxication” laws have a million incarnations across the country. “Failure to comply” is another funny derivative of “resisting arrest” that, dare I say, might take place in a St. Louis bar from time to time. “Indecent exposure” continues the list while “disturbing the peace” sees countless applications and “reckless endangerment” pretty much knocks the point home. By almost any of these existing laws, the law enforcement officer is provided the authority to exercise good, common sense between arriving on the scene and determining if an arrest is necessary. With any of these laws, it is up to the officer to determine whether somebody just advised him to go fuck himself or if the patron uttered “fuck” when his quarterback’s pass was intercepted in the third quarter. The simple fact is that sometimes swearing constitutes disorderly conduct, and sometimes it does not. Sometimes swearing is part of inciting to riot, sometimes it is not. Sometimes swearing is a direct failure to comply, and sometime it is not. The determination is now up to the officer on the scene. Legislate anti-swearing law, and the officer will have no choice. Any cuss would represent a failure to comply. Any drinking game would be tantamount to disorder by definition. No reasonable police officer wants this. They do not want what little authority they DO have, even with “tied hands,” to be taken away, therefore further tying their hands. It’s a no-brainer.

So, if it is not officers who feel they have tied hands bringing the topic up for proposal, then who…and more importantly why?

The first possibility is the staunch black-and-white legislators and enforcement officers mentioned above. Look for the hypocrisies people! If good cops would never bring it up, then bad cops have an ulterior motive in doing so. Don’t fall for it, whatever it is!

The next possibility is the Disneyfiers of the world. These are the corporations that think all reasonable people want to live in a Magic Kingdom and wear purple pants with great big buttons. Not too long ago, New York City’s Times Square and its surrounding areas were home to an urban nightlife which included a huge real estate swath of cheap, overtly disgusting, adult-only entertainment services. During the day, Times Square was a tourist attraction like none other, drawing in families and theatre-goers, PG-13 seekers and photophiles. Late night Times Square was a completely different place, a place that would sell double-sided dildos on the street, third hand, and home to a clientele who would buy them. Several conservative mayoralties later, for better or for worse, Times Square now looks like the Lion King threw up on it. Candy shops, Mickey merchandising, authentic Bugs Bunny tie-tack outlets and retro’ themed cafes have all obliterated any trace of a single glow-in-the-dark condom within walking distance of the Marriot Marquis. While I was no fan of 25 cent peep shows or those who’d freelance the same outside at 8th and 42nd, I can’t say that I’m all that enthralled with New York City being a big Betty Boop cartoon either. Sex slave DVD knock-offs disgusted me, but near zero variance in the available, touristy, consumer wares, none of which I would ever buy, doesn’t seem quite like Times Square either.

Growing up in the suburbs, we used to have a chain of franchised stores called Times Square Stores. It was a department store, of sorts, following on the heels of Grant’s and their competitors, with the exception of the fact that in each TSS department, some different franchise was making the profit. The only reason anyone ever went to Times Square Stores in the suburbs was the selection. It was the nincompoop, working class dream that one could get a new set of Good Year tires just paces from tiny, pink, Easter shoes that made it attractive. You could get a full set of earthtone, stoneware dishes in the department right next to the sale on imported newts and newt tank accessories. Before Wal*Mart and Kmart, before Target and Caldor, Times Square Stores made selection diversity synonymous with convenience. I knew about Times Square Stores before I ever knew about Times Square. Once I learned about the place the store was named after, I couldn’t wait to grow old enough to go there. I mean, if the price and selection at the store that BORROWED the name was so colossal, then the real Times Square was going to have products I’d never even imagined on the shelf. Sure, I was dismayed to eventually discover that the “products I’d never even imagined” were nipple clamps and assless chaps, but a guy’s got to learn somehow. Though I never made these impulse buys either, still, they were in fact things I’d never imagined, just as I’d suspected. Besides, lewd toys weren’t the only items available in Times Square, just the majority of them. Today, I can get the same Minnie Mouse pom-pom socks in Times Square that I can get in the Disney Store in Boise, Idaho. Figuratively, that’s about all I can get. Granted, I have to acknowledge the place is much better and that there is more to Times Square than shopping. However, homogenizing Times Square, in the end, gives me absolutely no reason to go there. Their money now comes from some one else and goes someplace else, eventually reaching old Walt in his hyperbolic chamber.

That’s the rub with the theory of Disneyfiers promoting anti-swearing law in St. Louis. If there is any truth to it, one must follow who’d be making the money. The city? The superstores? Special interest groups? Who would profit from a master plan to Disneyfy the area. Step one, make grown men say fiddlesticks. Step two, bring back floor length house frocks and put saltpeter in the food. Step three, build a rat in pants that can be seen from space. St. Louis, I ache for you.

In the end, however, I think it is neither of these groups that would try to suggest such legislation. I think, in our gut, when we look at both the absurdity of the law and the fact that it would only apply to bars and not St. Louis as a whole, we’d have to put our finger-pointing money on FAMILIES WITH SMALL CHILDREN! Ahhhhhhhhh!

This is my generation’s fault, yes FAULT! Oh sure, they lump us all into this Gen X category straining to find any one pan-spawn factor that unites us. That’s because they are looking for something positive. In practice, it’s much easier to find lists of similarities when we look directly at our own faults. We Gen Xers think that since the first step of a process is the hardest, we don’t have to take any of the other steps. We think that if we haven’t heard of something before, it must not be true. We think that part of the determination of whether an act is right or wrong is whether or not we get caught. We think that a two page email is way too long to read as books collect dust on our shelves. We think that everything old is useless and that everything new needs to be user friendly to be worthwhile. Convenience and comfort are actually priorities. And, and, and we think that every place we might ever set foot, even by accident, has to be completely innocuous to our children!

To quote George Carlin, “Fuck the children!” Listen, I write as a brand new father of an absolutely perfect 14 week old daughter. I hold her and feed her and change her diapers every day. I joke about her becoming U.S. President in 2042. I speak both baby talk and educational lingo to her on the regular while always making time for play. She is my light, my heart, and my hope. We waited and tried for a very long time just to have her and I relish what will be our time together. I fear for her safety, plan and wish for her future, pray for her happiness, and even wonder at her simple presence with my own child-like eyes.

Even I, however, realize that there is a difference between a child and an adult, the adult being the first tier. It’s not as vast as say, the difference between another animal and a human, but it is an enormous difference nonetheless. For me to expect that every single threshold I might cross, that each and every doorway I might darken, has somehow keenly brought itself up to the benign specs that would fascinate, but not negatively impact a six year old is the epitome of self-centered drek. Overwrite that MP3! Wear bulkier pants! Picket HBO! Give that guy a ticket for spitting! The color of that blouse is way to close to fleshtone! It’s like we want to raise a nation of Eloi.

As long as there are both adults and children in a free enterprise society, there will be businesses that target every niche. There are going to be some businesses that cater directly to children: Gymboree, Fruit Roll-Ups, rated G films. There will be others that cater to adults with a particularly naughty feel: Hooters, strip clubs, casinos. There will be still others that cater to adults with no such naughty feel: sports bars, cigar bars, red carpet affairs, wine tastings, gaming tournaments. Lastly, there will always be businesses that cater to the whole family: Red Robin, parades, zoos, Friendly’s, amusement parks, museums, etc.

To attempt to make EVERY place “family friendly” only serves to put other family friendly businesses out to pasture. Claiming and asserting that everything or that almost everything is supposed to fit into a single, American, child-proof niche, makes a shitload of competition within that niche and puts people out of work while dumbing down the consumer. Yet, you do not need demographics and economic mumbo jumbo to convince you. What you need is to swallow a much more jagged pill!

Starbucks is not responsible for raising your children! You are! Oh sure, it’s easy to agree with when stated like that, but have you examined where you’ve failed this test? In truth, the very existence of “family friendly” restaurants and their kind is because YOU are too much of a baby to make a sacrifice for your child. In American decades past, families took children to visit other family members and that was about it. The rest of the time, babies and kids were at home and at least one adult was too, parenting. Babies and kids, for the most part, were completely unseen in hotels, in restaurants, on planes, or wandering the exquisitely safe aisles of the local hardware store. Just the outside chance your child might cry was considered embarrassing, even rude. You’d catch a child or two at the movies or in a shopping cart, but they were frequently the exception…and if they so much as spoke too loudly they were immediately removed by the parent. Somewhere along the line, you, you who wanted to be a rock star and have the world on a platter, you decided that you weren’t willing to give up your daily mocha frappuchino. You weren’t willing to miss the limited time only bacon cheeseburger burrito at Taco Bell. You felt that just because you had a kid, that was no reason you had to give up going out on Saturday or had to put the last place bowling league on hold for a while. You didn’t want to learn how to cook for your child so you decided that the grillman at the local T.G.I. Fridays was going to do it for you, along with all the unyielding nutrition that the occasional cockroach and rat tail have to offer. You couldn’t miss the Joe Namath look-alike contest at Stumpy’s so you insisted that Stumpy add curly fries and clean peanuts to the toaster-oven menu. You decided that the seven dollars that was supposed to go into your child’s college fund was better spent on a Happy Meal because you just had to get out of the house. You were not okay putting your child first and your friends second so you dragged your little toe-headed pumpkin to every booze cruise, antique show, monster truck rally, spa day, tech expo, whites sale, treadmill workout, police auction, and quilting bee on three continents. Sure, you claimed to have ultra-modern parenting skills by virtue of the fact that your kids were exposed to so much, but we know you. More importantly, you know you. You filled the child’s days with all your personal, trivial pleasures because you, yourself had so little to expose them to at home. When it came to raising a child, you were a void, a vacuum of anything remotely relevant and you chose instead to distract your offspring from that with breads and circuses for as long as possible. If you truly wanted to infuse diversity of exposure into your child’s life you’d be taking them to poetry readings and religious studies, to live theatre and on camping trips, to political campaign headquarters and national monuments, to volunteer in assisted living facilities and to charity bike rides, to fireworks displays and to county fairs. Instead you took the child to Pizza Hut and came out the cool parent when you sprang for an extra topping.

Of course, anyone would have to acknowledge two more recent points of order to this trend. First, no one wishes to downplay the sheer torture it is to hold down a job or two and raise a child as a single parent. I doff my hat to those who do. You are heroes. Second, it is true that the very decades I speak of when explaining that kids spent much time at home were decades where a family could get by on a single income. Today, almost all similarly classed families require two incomes to make the same headway. It is not your hardship or schedule at which I target my venom.

I speak only of the parents of my generation that think the money they make is 100% their own to spend. I speak of the thick skulls who honestly believe they cannot leave the house without make-up, the lonely masses that have actually developed an addiction to shopping, the fence post geniuses who cannot “make it through the week” without a Krispy Kreme, the intricate thinkers that claim it will cost more to buy school supplies than it will to shut off the cable for a month, the consumer hoarders who claim that a cluttered house is still a clean house because clutter is not dirt. It is you. You with all your flimsy, flighty, whimsical personal wants, not a one sacrificed at the sudden alter of parenthood, you who still think you can have it all if you try and that dying by trying is somehow admirable, you have paved the way for the outcry, “Give us family friendly!” It is you, the enabler. You need someplace to go, go, go. Your condescending, uncompromising, unwillingness to stay at home and read a book aloud or just take a walk in the woods with your kid has sprinkled fast food chains and tabloid magazine racks over the blemished face of a once great country. Now, having expanded your kid-friendly options to McDonald’s and drug stores and Ikea, fashion outlets and racquetball clubs and virtual reality kiosks, travel and concerts and dance clubs, now you want to go further and take the bars too. Sure you could drag the entire family on an Amtrak excursion to the Mall of America, but you miss having a beer with the boys and watching the instant replay of the Chargers’ shoddy defense. You know Dr. Phil will hate you if you do it by yourself, so the only way to accomplish it is to drag Buffy and Jody into happy hour. That means unplugging the juke. That means you’ll demand pork nuggets and crayons at the table. That means the seat at the end of the bar is now the homework seat that makes your bartender no money. These are things you’ll demand to make yourself look like a good parent after having failed miserably at it. Not being a bar-goer myself, I’m almost apt to let you have them. After all, it’s no skin off my nose. You do all the work and that’s all the many more places I’ll be able to take my daughter to pee at the drop of a hat. However, when you are willing to rescind the basic tenants of freedom of speech by FORCING Big Tom and Stinky to say, “Fudge that coach in the patooty,” BY LAW, that’s where I draw the line. Every establishment will not be molded into a haven, bar none, that prevents me from calling Child Protective Services on you. If there is nothing good at home, then you are a crappy parent anyway and I am not going to reward you with cheesy fries and malt liquor.

There are plenty of words that offend me. There are even more words that I just do not want to hear. However, I am not indigent enough to think that people need to be ticketed or to go to jail for their use, even around my daughter. Has no one in the St. Louis legislature seen Demolition Man? Exactly what you are proposing was one of the biggest running gags in the film. Are you trying to be the laughing stock of the U.S.? Is there not one city representative who’d ever watched Footloose? Is Kevin Bacon coming to dance at your meeting? St. Louis, I love your zoo. I marveled at your basilica. The steamboats, the arch, every fiber of visitor in me found plenty to satisfy in your fine city. Again, I don’t even go to bars. Yet, if you see fit, under any cockamamie excuse, to pass a law against parts of speech; slang, cuss, or otherwise; you’ll pretty much be off my destinations list for good. Legislators are not lexicographers and passing the bar does not give literal dominion over them.

To conclude, I am probably wrong on all counts. Perhaps there are no bad cops, Disneyfiers, or marginal parents screaming for this St. Louis meeting to take place, for this law to become a reality. But you are having the meeting and you are then stretching for a way to explain it. Somebody out there has their underwear in a knot or is salivating at the prospect of making money at the expense of others. Somebody out there is hankerin’ for a Beverly Hills Cop style take-down technique or the chance to overtly redeem himself from being a crappy father. Whatever the source of the idea, you are not truly saying. You’ve refrained from stating a viable reason and in the doing are basically calling your own St. Louis citizens too stupid to notice. I don’t believe the people of St. Louis are that dumb for a second! St. Louis, you’ve got your work cut out for you and I hope the meeting is severely baptized in what will prove history’s greatest morphology of creative and everlasting profanity. Good luck pig fuckers!


Sunday, January 6, 2008

When will it END?
STOP House Resolution 888!

Who controls the past now, controls the future.
Who controls the present now, controls the past.
Who controls the past now, controls the future.
Who controls the present now?
-RATM "Testify"

H. RES. 888 Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as `American Religious History Week' for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith.

Thanks to vjack over at Atheist Revolution for the heads up on this. He's got a good template for a letter to your Representative and a number of links debunking the assertions of the Resolution.

This is not just a religious issue. This is a group trying to permanently insinuate its myths into American History. What's next on the Christian Revisionism Agenda? American Atheists has an Action Alert up to facilitate writing to your Representative here. If you're uncomfortable using the Atheist site, you can also go here. Please contact your Representative and ask him or her to oppose H. Res. 888. For all the good it will do.

Remember guys, this doesn't end until one group wins. Just because they're not coming for you now doesn't mean they won't.


Is this guy just stupid?

Anti-Military Lawyer Damages Marine's Car on Eve of Deployment - via

I got this in my weekly Snopes update, but the meat of it is from, blog of a former soldier.

The Chicago Tribune has a column on it, as well.

The gist is this:
Lawyer sees guy backing down a one way street. Lawyer sees military plates on car and becomes enraged. Lawyer keys Marine's car. Hilarity ensues.

Seriously, does this guy have absolutely no understanding of how things work these days? Attack an American soldier in an American city for the simple reason that he's a SOLDIER? The Internet is ripping this guy APART. His personal information has been posted. His website is down. His office phone numbers have been disconnected. His picture is everywhere so he probably can't even go outside.

I've fucked with cars for taking up too many parking spaces, blocking driveways and general asshat behavior, but I only move their mirrors. This guy caused substantial damage. Do his actions warrant this kind of response? Probably.