Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Half-mast, but a full joke

So I read that Gov. Christie is defending the fact that he flew the flags in New Jersey at half-mast for Whitney Houston.

This is a travesty. Period.

I have nothing against Ms. Houston, and I know she has provided a lot of entertainment and joy to her many fans, and I am saddened by her sudden (but sadly predictable) death. However, even if I were a resident of New Jersey, I could not care less about this incident, except for the sadness I would feel for any person who succumbs to drugs or other evils.

It was a tragedy on a human level. That Ms. Houston was an extremely talented and popular entertainer adds no solemnity nor moral significance to her untimely passing. Her death was not heroic. Her life was not given in the service to others, nor for reasons that were most likely anything but selfish. Her story is repeated by tens of thousands of people every year.

Regardless, the half-mast treatment is wholly inappropriate. Flying flags at half-mast has become so common as to be a complete joke. It seems I see some flags, certainly not all at any given time, at half-mast at least once a month and generally have no idea why, nor could I.

Our flags stand for America and our unity as citizens of this great Republic and of the great States that comprise it, and their lowering for anything less than a real and significant tragedy of national scope cheapens our symbols of unity.

There are more appropriate ways to express our condolences for people like Ms. Houston, and I'm sure those will be exercised appropriately in the coming weeks and months. I would add that Sony's raising the price on electronic versions of her great hits compilation within 30 minutes of the news breaking of her passing is most assuredly not appropriate, but I guess it shows where their true sympathies lie.

If you ask me the American Flag should be flown at half-mast for nothing less than the death of a President, another national symbol of our national unity, or a significant national tragedy like 9/11, where we as a nation were truly united in mourning. A State flag should be flown at half mast, for the same reason, and perhaps the death of a chief executive. Anything more makes a mockery of the flags and what they stand for.

At this rate, how long will be it until we become a nation that is perpetually in mourning, and what does this say about us and our country?

On second thought, perhaps it's actually appropriate.

An open letter to Muslims

Dear Muslim friends:

You know, I'm getting a little tired of your co-religionists constantly complaining about people desecrating the Koran. I'm tired of hearing about it because it doesn't need to happen. It's kind of a vicious circle. Some Muslims keep saying if people desecrate your book they're going to get very, very angry. So, people desecrate your book. And they get very, very angry. It's a shame, and it shouldn't happen. But let's be honest. They're kind of asking for it. Pavlov couldn't get a more predictable response with his bell, if you know what I mean.

Anyone who's ever known a rebellious teenager knows that the worst thing you can say to them is "If you do X, I'm going to get very, very angry." I know that many of you are familiar with rebellious teenagers, as am I. Making someone lose his temper is a good show that's a lot cheaper than cable. Some people have nothing better to do than try to cheese others off. The mature and effective response is to ignore them and not give them the satisfaction.

Look, I think it's a shame that people desecrate your holy book. Maybe it has something to do with the whole "kill everyone who doesn't submit to Allah" bits, or maybe it's the whole "women are chattel" thing. Or maybe they just don't like the color green. Needless to say, people shouldn't do it because it's unnecessarily disrespectful.

I would never do it. I would much rather see people read the Koran instead of burning it. And we should try to settle our differences with logic, rhetoric, tolerance and understanding, not by burning books, or worse, being violent to each other. Jesus didn't burn books or murder people, nor did He condone these behaviors, and a lot of us find Him to be very persuasive. We all can gain a lot from following His example.

The thing is, people desecrate the Bible all the time. We hold our Scripture in very high regard, as do you for yours. But we also know that it's a waste of time trying to get stupid people to stop doing stupid things by constantly goading them into doing it. We simply don't throw tantrums about it, and it ends up not being a big deal.

Just sayin'.

Your Christian friend, Rick