Posted tagged ‘Sin’

Friday xkcd break: When Mathematicans Stray

December 5, 2008

With thanks, as always to xkcd, in whose head it must be passing strange, (though fun) to live.

A personal note about the latest from the GOP Convention

September 3, 2008

I haven’t been listening much.  I have not a strong enough stomach to take the likes of Mitt Romney, ex Massachusetts governor, venture capital gazillionaire, card carrying member of the upper-upper class rail against east coast elitism.

I don’t have the patience for a man who ran a city for eight years with 12-14 times the population of the state that his VP nominee-presumptive has governed for, oh twenty months, extol that nominee’s qualifications (sic).

I really, really don’t have enough anti-nausea medicine to handle any more of the soft bigotry of low expectations surrounding felon-presumptive Governor Palin.*  Seriously — she’s lived somewhere near Russia for a while and she turns out to do well reading a speech others wrote for what they presumed would be someone else and that makes her fit to lead this country?  (If you click only one link in this post, check out this one; John Cole nails the difference between serious people and these jokers perfectly.)

But what I find more than repulsive, but actually unforgivable, is the brutal assault the central leadership of today’s Republican Party has launched against a seventeen year old girl:  Bristol Palin.  Watching all that I could take tonight I came, perhaps hopelessly, naively late, to realize the fundamental moral collapse  that has overtaken an institution that retains the name but none of the values in which a Republican Party I still distantly remember used to take pride.

There is a fundamental, as near as dammit universal moral rule:  the use of another person as a thing, a means to be turned at will to someone else’s end, is evil.

Bristol Palin, her past, her present, her future, are off limits as far as I am concerned; her life is her own.  That’s what the GOP has been saying for days now — along with Senator Obama, Senator Biden and just about everyone else.  But it was no Democrat, no stray member of the media that brought Miss Palin to the airport this afternoon to be led out with her boyfriend to receive the laying on of McCain’s hands.  It was no blogger, no hard-line liberal, who placed this seventeen year old girl on a stage in front of 20,000 people and cameras beaming her image to billions exactly at the same moment she must  confront the radical upheaval brought to her life by motherhood and marriage before her senior year of high school.

One of the commentators on the local cable channel on which I watched noted how Miss Palin winced and spoke of how this experience was not what that young woman had expected to be doing this week.  From where I sit, she had every right to assume that she would not be placed on display as an ornament to her mother’s political career.

She has no luck.  She is now being used now as both symbol and shield, a reflection of her mother’s purported values and the cudgel to wield against  anyone who dares question any aspect of her mother’s fitness for the office which John McCain in his recklessness has decided she should fill.

I said that Miss Palin is being used.  The passive voice is a deceiver.  Sarah Palin is using her daughter as cynically as I have ever witnessed anyone turn their children to their own ends.  John McCain is taking advantage as best he can of a pregnant teenager to advance his ambition.  The McCain campaign and the leaders of the Republican Party are asking — demanding, as far as anyone can tell — that Bristol Palin suspend whatever hope for privacy she may have in order to provide her mother with the cover she needs.

I do not have words to describe how I feel about women and men that would so put themselves and their ambitions, their lust for power before that of a young woman — a girl — who had done nothing, not one thing, to place herself in the way of such a train wreck.

A final note on this:  the McCain campaign told us that Governor Palin did not tell her family why they were travelling to Ohio on the day she was to be announced as McCain’s running mate.  I do not know what other parents think.  I do not think that were I to have a much less momentous life decision — say taking a job in another city — I could make it final until I had at least the courtesy to let my own child know.

I didn’t make a public figure of Bristol Palin.  No one I know did.  As far as I am concerned she isn’t one yet. Good luck to her and godspeed.   But her mother and her mother’s boss have used her for their own ends.  All I can say is that if anyone did that to my child, I would to my last breath do everything in my power to right that wrong.

I know.  This is supposed to be a blog about science, its history, its interpenetration into our culture and public life.  But before I am a science writer I am the father of someone young and small whom I love more than I can say.  If anyone is offended by this post, I hope that sense of insult passes.  I apologize for not one word.

And a promise:  tomorrow, back to posts that have at least something to do with what I keep saying this blog is about.

*My wife and I had been wondering aloud when someone would get around to putting this very useful phrase into play.  I decided that if no one else had, I would — and then found the post to which the link leads.