Friday, April 9, 2010

Thinking in stickers

Recent headlines and cultural fixations offer food for thought. They're not bad fodder for bumper stickers, either.

'Save the Bullies!'
Confronting a bully is among the first trials that a kid faces. We can't prevent such encounters -- nor, in my opinion, should we try.

It's fine with me if schools, in the interest of discipline and order, consider student-on-student harassment unacceptable and take steps to throttle it. But every time that we, this increasingly Oprahfied society, demand that children be sheltered from difficult rites-of-passage, we cultivate a fragile generation which will expect the same protection in adulthood.

Rightfully we mourn the loss of young people "driven to suicide" by their peers' cruelty. Our resulting rage, however, is misdirected -- we reflexively blame the bullies, oblivious to the fact that shielding children encourages irrational, irresponsible choices. Our kids live in temporary safety, carrying forever a defect of our making.

We need bullies. We must raise our children to have strength that's built by enduring storms, not weakness that comes from hiding indoors until the next sunny day.

Surely storms will come. When they do, will our kids have what it takes to survive?

'Sex is a Ham Sandwich'
A Wisconsin district attorney has issued a letter of warning to educators: Teach the state-mandated sex-ed curriculum and you risk prosecution as a sex offender.

That's right -- according to this guy, explaining the use of contraceptives to kids who probably are sexually active anyway could put a teacher on the pointy end of criminal or civil action.

Rather than getting lost in the outright silliness of what the prosecutor did, allow me to point out what motivated him to do it: Democrats were responsible for proposing and approving the sex-ed curriculum; Republicans, without exception, opposed it; and the DA is a Republican taking political shots from half-court.

So his letter isn't a legal opinion -- it's an ideological agenda. If he tries to make an example of some law-abiding teacher, the made-for-TV movie will need a laugh track
and I'm gonna need more popcorn.

'Tiger = Golfer'
My relationship with Tiger Woods is pretty simple: He's a master of the game of golf and I appreciate mastery.

I don't care where he parks his Buick.

Anyone disappointed by his off-course excursions should take a good look in the mirror -- the adulation we heaped on this man created expectations that he couldn't possibly meet. If we see him as a "role model" who's tumbled from a pedestal of grace, we should temper our self-righteousness with the knowledge that we built that pedestal and put him up there.

'My other party is the GOP'

The Tea Party "movement" has announced that it's forming the National Tea Party Federation, ostensibly to lure grassroots groups into its right-wing maw.

TPers are under the illusion that their brand of populism is going big-time. Clearer heads realize that the NTPF will accomplish basically two things -- it'll kill whatever independence is left in the movement and hasten its inevitable absorption into the Republican Party.

This public hijacking is fascinating to watch, isn't it?

Some years ago "Kentucky Fried Chicken" became "KFC," caving to pressure to eliminate the word "fried" from its red-and-white buckets. With the introduction of the KFC Double Down sandwich three days from now, the restaurant chain will begin to make amends for its descent into political correctness.

The Double Down is "two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel's Sauce." No bun.

Screw the Health Nazis -- I'm lovin' it. (Sorry, Ronald.) As I salivate over 540 calories and 1,380 grams of sodium, I only hope I can order my Double Down with extra trans-fat on the side.

'Got Light? Thank a Coal Miner.'
The next time I flip a wall switch, I'll remember Pam Napper.

When an explosion tore through the Upper Big Branch South mine near Montcoal, West Virginia on Monday afternoon, it took the lives of Josh Napper, Timmy Davis Sr. and Timmy Davis Jr. -- Pam's son, brother and nephew.

Her burden, unfair as it is, is shouldered by her community and the families of the other miners who perished.

"It's just West Virginia," she says.

No, Pam, it's not. We can't know your pain but we can honor you, your men and the tens of thousands who pay for our comfort with sweat and sacrifice.

Remembering is the least we can do.