Provocateur at Large
"Provocateur" is Jack Feldman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has also been employed in the Departments of Management at the University of Florida, Gainesville (1972-1985) and the University of Texas at Arlington (1985-1986.) He is a Fellow of The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and a Charter Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Two Topics: Baltimore and Anti-Semitism
Thursday, April 30, 2015
"The only good Indians I ever saw were dead."
Attributed to William T. Sherman
I smoke, and I like it, and have no intention of quitting. As the "Joe Camel" laws, akin to Jim Crow, multiply, I accommodate and simply don't go where I'm not wanted. I do sometimes wish my fellow smokers would show some courage and stage "smoke-ins" on, say, college campuses, where even outdoor smoking has been banned. Or we could have tobacco festivals to celebrate our favorite weed, like the potheads' 420 events. I won't hold my breath waiting.
That's not what this essay is about, anyway, at least not entirely. It's about "Natural American Spirit," the brand I smoke, and its producers. American Spirit is a premium product made without chemical additives and with high-quality tobacco. I pay more for it because it tastes better, although you'd have to be a smoker to appreciate the difference. The company goes to great lengths to assure the quality of its various types of smokes, but it does more than that. It works with and supports small American farmers. It promotes and contributes to environmental causes, including a recent $365,000 donation for Earth Day. It includes anti-littering, pro-recycling messages on each pack. It's even sent free pocket ashtrays to website subscribers, to promote responsible smoking. I have two different ones.
They send flower seeds on subscriber's birthdays.
Why? One reason, I suppose, is public relations. But they were doing this stuff more than twenty years ago, before anti-smoking apartheid really took off. I think they really believe in everything they do. That's the irony, made doubly ironic by their logo, a stylized American Indian smoking a peace pipe. Why ironic?
There were, back in the early 19th century, groups of people who likewise believed that if they lived according to the professed ideals of society they would be left in peace.
These were the Five Civilized Tribes, among them the Cherokee. They all changed their traditional ways to adapt to the new reality of white settlement, the Cherokee even inventing a written language and all that goes with it. I imagine that many believed that the whites would then regard them as worthwhile people, partners in their new nation. You know, the one that holds it to be self-evident that all men are created equal, endowed with inalienable rights. Well, not so fast there, Injun. What the Cherokee got was the Trail of Tears. No liberty, no pursuit of happiness, and for a lot of them no life, either.
In short, the Cherokee would have done better to follow the example of the Iroquois, Mohawk, Abenaki, Seminole (and later the Lakota, Dine', Comanche, Apache, et al.)
Maybe use that written language and those schools to learn to build things like muskets and cannon. At least they'd have gone down fighting.
The American Spirit people ought to pay attention. All their environmental goodness counts for nothing versus the bigotry of society and the self-seeking politicians who foster it. Yes, the idea of armed insurrection in this case is just silly, but there are other ways to fight. Let American Spirit and smokers generally take a lesson from the NRA and other gun rights organizations as well as the firearms industry, hunting organizations and so forth. Aggressively campaign for smoker's rights. Smokers are no less vilified by our progressive would-be overlords than are gun owners, but gun people don't meekly surrender. And hey, why not make common cause? It's all about liberty, after all.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Why I Won't Watch Daredevil Again
― George Orwell, 1984
Monday, April 20, 2015
Free Speechifyin' At Valdosta State: Update
It suggests to me that in the course of promoting a particularly perverted form of "diversity" the VSU administration is very selective about whose First Amendment rights get protection.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
In Loco Parentis
The title phrase is Latin for "In place of parents." In my college days, circa 1962, it was the policy of many schools to act as a surrogate parent, watching out for the student's welfare. In practice this meant the imposition of various rules designed to protect the women's (assumed) virginity and, not coincidentally, prevent the kind of drunk-and-disorderly free for all that Animal House documented so well. Women were locked up in their dorms and sororities after 1 AM Friday and Saturday nights and after 10:30 PM (without special permission, extending until midnight) the rest of the week. Of course we had work-arounds, but these were variously uncomfortable and inconvenient. Trust me, "Makin' love in the green grass, behind the stadium" sounds better when Van Morrison sings about it than it felt in real life, what with ants, rocks, grass stains and all.
So what changed? The times, to quote another oldie. My awareness of the changes dates to the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, though nobody knew what would come of it at the time. Back in 1964 UC students, apparently starved for intellectual debate and free expression, demonstrated, rioted and, as I recall, burned at least one police car. In central Illinois it mostly puzzled us, not being aware that our First Amendment rights were in any danger. Besides, for most of the year the weather was too nasty for us rabble to hang around outside and be roused.
But those events marked, if they didn't create, a shift in the culture.T
here wasthe specious argument that "If 18 is old enough to be drafted then it's old enough to...." drink booze, vote, whatever. Lower drinking and voting ages, the end of campus purdah for women, radical politics as part of college life, all followed. Then The Pill, interesting drugs, and anti-war demonstrations. Pretty soon it was the 60's that everyone remembers, and "In loco parentis" was gone. For a while, anyway.
Time passed. The students of my generation got to be in charge and campuses were liberalized in every sense of the word. My generation's now retiring, our children are running things and our grandchildren are students. How's that working out?
Well, binge drinking and drugs we never imagined are common and cheap. Sex, ditto. Don't believe me? Read the news, or better, "Texts From Last Night." Women participate as enthusiastically as men---well, some, anyway. It's hard to tell since those that don't, don't text about it. At the same time the news is full of "rape culture" stories, how booze and drugs fuel the abuse of innocent (but foolish) young women. It's hard to tell how real, or how serious, this is, since all the headline stories turn out to be lies.*
How about free speech, open discussion of controversial issues? Yeah, that's fine, as long as those ideas are "progressive." Try to introduce social or fiscal conservatism, or even some aspects of libertarian philosophy, and you're guilty of hate speech. Sure, you can say controversial things like "Maybe we shouldn't kill babies..." but only in the designated "free speech zones." Those are somewhere behind the stadium, where the green grass was torn up to build a parking lot for the new LBGTQ Center. In that center the intellectual consensus is typified by the idea that The Vagina Monologues is discriminatory because it doesn't include women without vaginas, i.e. transgendered men. If by some chance there is a conservative faculty member or student who speaks out, that person is treated pretty much the way Communists were in the 50's. Don't believe it? Ask Teresa Wagner, Mike Adams, and James Enstrom. Ask Ruth Malhotra and Orit Sklar, two brave young women who were vilified and threatened when they sued Georgia Tech over its speech code. (Where were the men? Well you may ask.)
What's the upshot? Welcome to In Loco Parentis on steroids. For sex, there are affirmative consent protocols requiring question-and-answer routines at every stage of sexual involvement. Pretty soon we'll have forms to be signed and notarized at each juncture, bringing a whole new meaning to "threesome." As to speech, now there are "trigger warnings" required in classes so students can flee with their ears covered in case they might hear something that "invalidates their experience." Students need "safe spaces" in which they can blow bubbles, squeeze Play-Doh, and watch puppy videos to recover from the trauma of disagreement. Students even need to be protected from "microaggressions," seemingly innocuous comments that might be interpreted by the ultra-sensitive as some sort of put-down. Consider the new Ithaca College tattletale policy, for instance. Question such dehumanizing idiocy, even if you're a card-carrying liberal feminist, and you get the same kind of treatment the conservatives do. Ask Laura Kipnis.
In short, what we have is the university acting in loco of the very worst kind of helicopter parentis, making what is laughably called higher education into the very worst kind of preschool swaddling.
For almost everybody, that is. There seems to be one exception to all this tender concern.
Jews. Colleges readily invite the most vile antisemitism on the part of Boycott, Divest and Sanction advocates. That's under the cover of sympathy for the poor distressed Palestinians---you know, the ones who shoot rockets into Israel. The ones who celebrated in the streets on 9/11/01. Hamas. Hezbolla. Those people. Jews apparently don't need safe spaces and are ineligible to report micro- or even macro- aggressions. Colleges are, on the one hand, infantilizing a whole generation of students and on the other, breeding a new generation, less disciplined but just as enthusiastic, of Hitler Youth.
No, it's not the 60's anymore. Welcome to 1933.
* Here's one that wasn't. It's worth noting that it didn't happen at a frat party and wasn't reported by the woman, who might have been drugged. It hardly fits the Rolling Stone model, and since the accused rapists are black I doubt if there'll be any liberal white media outrage.
Friday, April 10, 2015
I'm Back; Sheepdogs Revisited, Again
Sheepdogs Revisited, Again
You might remember my earlier essay* about the "sheepdog" concept, the idea that we armed citizens are, or should be, protectors of the peaceful, passive, fearful sheep who comprise most of the population. I thought it was a bad idea then, and still do. On March 25 in Cobb County (a suburban area northwest of Atlanta) a local man proved to be an ideal sheepdog, capturing a bank robber and holding him for police. According to the story, he followed the robber outside, retrieved his pistol from his car, and held the robber prone at gunpoint until the law arrived.
So far, so good. If I was that citizen I'd have rushed to the nearest convenience store and bought a lottery ticket. Just one, because with luck like his one is all he'd need. There were many possible outcomes to this story, all bad. Our citizen got the only good one. Let's consider this incident step by step:
1. In the bank.
The robbery takes place, probably via the crook handing a threatening note to the teller. The news doesn't mention a weapon in his hands, and most bank robberies seem to happen this way. The robber then runs out, pursued by our citizen.
Question: Was anyone threatened at this point? No. The robber was fleeing.
Question: Was the robber armed? At this point it's unknown. What we do know, and what our citizen should have known, is that lethal force is only justified, morally or legally, if there is a threat of death or severe bodily harm to the defender or another, e.g. a bystander or victim.
Question: Was our citizen justified in proactively pursuing the robber and, by the way, brandishing his pistol? No.
2. Outside the bank.
Details are sketchy, but it seems our citizen ordered the crook at gunpoint to halt and get on the ground. There are photos, taken by a passerby, with the story.
Question: What would have happened if our crook had been armed and had fired on the citizen? It doesn't look like either took cover, so it's reasonable to imagine a running gunfight would ensue. Unlike the movies, most bullets in these situations miss their targets. They wind up somewhere, though. Since the photographer was driving by we can assume that there was a street in front of the bank, which means traffic, and likely homes or shops around. There's at least a reasonable chance bullets would have wound up in some passers-by, some shoppers, somebody, even if not in the proverbial busload of gifted orphans and nuns. Further, it wouldn't matter if the bullets were fired by our good citizen or the felon, because the citizen initiated the fight. He would at least share responsibility with the crook.
Question: What would our citizen have done if, when ordered to stop, the crook took off running? Police can't legally shoot under those circumstances, and neither can anyone else.
So there's our would-be sheepdog looking silly with a pistol in his hand. (Yes, I am assuming our citizen isn't stupid or depraved enough to shoot the robber in the back.) Now imagine the police roll up on a bank robbery call. Nothing good will happen here.
Question: What would happen if the crook turned and physically attacked our citizen? If there had been a "disparity of force," e.g. if the crook were enough bigger than our citizen, or there were two or more crooks, shooting might be justified. If the crook were armed with a contact weapon, a knife, club, monkey wrench or whatever, again there's justification. But remember, our citizen initiated the conflict and was visibly armed. I don't know what a lawyer might make of that but in no way is our citizen going to get sent home with a handshake. Oh, and there's still the problem of all those stray bullets.
An ignorant person might argue that an unarmed person wouldn't refuse to obey someone holding a gun. Wrong. It happens to police all the time.
3. After the robbery.
Question: Suppose our citizen, for one reason or another, shoots the felon. Suppose further
(this being Georgia) that the district attorney and/or a grand jury rule the shooting justified. Home free, right? Not so fast. Welcome to Ferguson, with every race pimp in the country denouncing our good citizen as an evil bigot who jumped at the chance to cut down a black man (Yes, he is. Look at the photos.) Our dead or merely wounded felon is now a "troubled youth" or a disadvantaged striver beaten down by the evil racist capitalist system.
Question: How would you like to have your home surrounded by a hostile mob chanting "Black Lives Matter"? If they can invade trendy brunches in painfully progressive Decatur, GA, they can show up in our hero's subdivision. And his place of work, for that matter. Imagine how happy his family, neighbors, boss and coworkers would be.
Question: How prepared do you suppose our citizen is for a protracted lawsuit? If the felon is wounded he and his family might well sue. If he dies the family certainly will. A plaintiff's attorney costs them nothing, remember. Sure, our citizen will likely win but it will make him miserable for a long time and cost a fortune.
Question: How do you suppose our citizen, having shot the felon, will do in the press, already prejudiced against gun owners? Remember the mob and the race pimps above? Add TV news and print reporters, with their various agendas. Sound like fun?
4. My advice.
Question: So what should our citizen (and by implication, you) do in a situation like the one we're discussing? In the absence of an active threat, memorize details of the robber's appearance and behavior. If you can safely observe a getaway car, assuming there is one, get a description---make, model, color, license number----then call 911 and give this information to the police. You'll likely have to give this information to the officers that show up, and could very well have to be a prosecution witness. Not the stuff of movies, but a good citizen's duty nevertheless.
In preparation, get some training. Learn to tell the difference between a situation requiring violent acton, one requiring careful observation, and those in between. Read news articles and the NRA's Armed Citizen column. Imagine yourself in those situations, planning in advance what you'd do. Visualize alternative scenarios guided by legal, moral and tactical realities, not action-hero fantasies. Get feedback from people who know. Join the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network and study the material they send with membership.
Also, unlike our citizen, keep your gun with you! If the robber was really violent, if he produced a weapon and started ordering customers into a back room, if he hurt someone, that's when you need to take action. That gun in the car might just as well have been on Mars for all the good it would have done in the face of real violence. They're called concealed weapons for a reason. Finally, take off the collar. You're not Rin Tin Tin.
* Which was kindly picked up by Greg Ellifritz for his excellent Active Response Training blog and then referenced on the Defensive Carry.com forum.