Modern Day Milgram

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In 1961, Yale psychologist, Stanley Milgram, developed an experiment to test how people would react to authority.  In his test, he set up a device that simulated an electric shock that was delivered to people (“learner”) who incorrectly answered questions that were asked by a “teacher”.  The “teacher” was actually the test subject and the person being shocked was an actor who suffered no damage because there was no actual shock.

As the “learner” answered each question incorrectly, the “teacher”would increase the power of the shock.  At 150 volts, the “learner” began to cry out that he had a heart problem and he wasn’t feeling well.  At that point, the test subject had a choice to continue despite the increasing complaints or to stop despite incessant urging from the person leading the experiment who sat right next to them.

An entire 45 minute documentary can be found here. To save you a little time, I’ll tell you that 65% of the “teachers” (26 of 40) went all the way to 450 volts despite the cries of the “learner”.  So, they continued to inflict pain on another human being for the sole reason that an authority figure told them to do so.

Of course, there were a lot of questions about the ethics of this experiment and that the all of the test subjects were white men, but, hey, that was the 1960’s for you. But it does make one ponder the impact of authority over a person and whether or not they will give up their morality, their sense of right and wrong, if they are told to do so.  Obvious connections to Nazi soldiers were made in this experiment which was actually the point to begin with.

In this day and age, are we subject to the same drive – to please an authority figure to the degree that we would shun responsibility for hurting another human being?

In 2006, there was the famous Mount Washington Strip Search scam where a prank caller called a fast food restaurant posing as a police office and convinced a pair of adults to strip search a teenager and then engage in sexual molestation. The adults never even saw the actual person giving them instructions to demean and abuse this underage girl, yet they did it anyway.

Now, expand that a thousand-fold and think to yourself how similar distasteful and potentially illegal acts could be performed by unwilling people if they were commanded by a President or other elected official.  How about if someone like the Pope or some other high-ranking religious official told you to do something you would normally find abhorrent?  Would you toss away your own personal morals and ethics to please that authority figure?

Would you?

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Frum vs. Trump: Simplicity vs. Simpleton

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In case you don’t know who David Frum is, he is a conservative commentator and former speech writer for GW Bush.  Let’s just state for the record that I am not a fan of David Frum’s ideology, but I do respect his intelligence and the way he presents his case.  I also love the way he has rejected Trump as not only a non-conservative that threatens his party’s values, but as an entity that threatens American values.  In Sam Harris’s latest podcast, Frum brilliantly states this case for even the simplest among us. I’m even advocating for you to follow his Twitter feed, which is chock full of daily affirmations that the Trump presidency is a disaster for America.

What I like about his commentary, as I mentioned, is that he simplifies the issues in a nice, neat package and one-lines them so that they are easy to digest.  He understands the long-term implications and, can easily relate them fairly to previous administrations.  For example, he will state that he never voted for Obama and never would, but he at least saw him as a man of integrity.  In Trump, he sees no such thing.

He also sends a clearer, more hopeful message – that we can have intelligent debates about policy and ideology by discussing facts and by being mature; we can talk about issues without being tribal and over protective of our egos. This is an important message especially for all of those conservatives who got on the gold-plated Trump train and are now heading off the cliff they see coming miles away.  They probably figure Trump can make a deal with gravity.  That’s how dug in they are.

I would love to get back to a time and place where that can happen again, but I only see it getting worse in the future and I blame it on our short attention spans and our love for reality TV.  We no longer like to think for ourselves and think critically about anything.  We just want information fed to us and we want to lay back, be simpletons, and let the Idiocracy take over. Sad!

Never Enough Thoughts and Prayers

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(Graphic courtesy of businessinsider.com)

Nope, never enough thoughts and prayers can be thrown around after a massive shooting where people get hurt or die.  Nope, never enough…because they don’t fucking work.  We prove it over and over again that they don’t, yet we persist in submitting to the notion without doing anything of actual impact.

Albert Einstein famously said –

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Sound familiar? It should. We are insane to think that we can pray our way out of the next mass shooting, so stop it.

This is a binary argument. We either reduce or get rid of guns or we increase their presence.  To say that reducing gun ownership in the US would not eliminate gun violence is to also admit that increasing ownership wouldn’t either.  It’s the difference between being proactive and reactive.  Rather than trying to reduce the availability, we increase the availability so we can defend ourselves when the shooting starts.  How about stopping the shooting before it even happens?  What happened to that idea?

Before all you NRA nuts get all pissed off, let me acknowledge this – YES, there are millions of responsible gun owners in the US who are properly licensed, practice safety and have legitimate uses for gun ownership.  Congrat-u-fucking-lations.  I see you.  But, there are plenty of people who are not doing what you are and you need to acknowledge it so we can come to an agreement.  I am NOT looking to take YOUR guns away, so stop saying it.  I just want guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.  For example, people on the “No Fly” list can still buy a gun in this country.  Yes, of course, there may be people who shouldn’t be on the list, but the answer is not to let everyone on the list be a threat to our lives.  The answer is to make the list better.  Why the hell can’t you see that?

Or can you?  I can only hope and pray that you do.

 

Tweet Head

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Trump has been tweeting his way through politics for years now and we all watched. He took his 140 character allowance to critique Obama, denigrate women and insult anyone who called him out for being an asshole.

He used it during the campaign to attack all of his enemies, from Ted Cruz to Hillary Clinton. He tweeted his disdain for the media over and over again. This was the same media that gave him billions of dollars of free advertising. He even used it to insult a Gold Star family simply because they spoke the truth

But, now that he’s President (cough, choke), he doesn’t seem to realize that things are different. As President, using Twitter to declare terrorist motives behind a botched robbery, insulting the mayor of a major city to one of our biggest allies, and supporting a policy in the Middle East that may be fractured due to a planted fake news story by the Russians and may put US troops in harm’s way is just fucking nuts.

Now, his craziness takes an even more drastic turn when he announces he may tweet during the testimony of the FBI Director he fired because that Director was investigating him and his associates of collusion with a foreign power.

If you think this guy is sane or mature or capable, then I have to question your sanity, maturity and capability.

Speak Dirty to Me

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(Graphic courtesy of Newsworks.org)

Oooh, give it to me.  Give me those dirty words so I can say them over and over again.  Yeah, that’s it.  I love me some filth.

Liberal.  Oh yeah, that word just gets me so hot.  Every time there’s some sort of terrorist tragedy, I like to blame those horrible liberals and their “political correctness”.  Those are filthy words, too.  Gives me a political erection.

Conservative.  That’s another word that gets me all crazy and sweaty.  Every time the poor get the shit end of the stick, I like to put it all on those dirty, filthy conservatives.  Every war, too. Wars are so hot.

Then we all speak dirty to one another and get our hackles up and then we can’t listen to another word each other is saying because we’re in a frenzy.  Then no problems get resolved.  They only get worse.

I think we need to clean our mouths out with soap.

 

Fake Severed Heads

Kathy-Griffin-Donald-TrumpYou are not going to get this guy to say that what Kathy Griffin did was appropriate at all, so if the conservatives want to be outraged against all liberals, they need to tone it down.  In fact, I would say most people, regardless of their political ideology would say that Griffin’s display did far more harm than good even if it was for the sake of comedy.  It wasn’t funny, either.

But, I can’t seem to let go of the feeling in my stomach that there is some sort of injustice here.  Where was the outrage on the Right when Ted Nugent said all of the completely barbaric things he said about President Obama? Or when he called Obama the “enemy”? What about all the racist things others have said about Michelle Obama? Or even the Obama daughters? It seems that outrage is based on ideology and not humanity. That is disturbing, at the very least.

Any threat to someone’s dignity should not be tolerated, no matter what. There is no reason to carry on with this behavior and expect that we will ever be able to unify as a country.  If you disagree with the left’s agenda, then attack the policy.  Same goes if you do not like the right’s agenda.

Of course, I am probably guilty of calling Trump a complete moron a million times by now.  Hell, I’ve called him a fucking rat bastard narcissist who should be tried for treason, but that’s not a threat of violence and can actually be justified with the current evidence.  Maybe, though, I’m not the right person to spread this message of tolerance.  Even still, let’s stop it with the racist bullshit and the violence.  This is a democracy (for now), so let’s use the tools available to us in a respectful, powerful way to get our agendas to progress.