Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Final Test of Truth is Ridicule

Pa. boy, 14, allegedly desecrates Jesus statue by mimicking sex act in selfie: Outrage?

What the boy did was certainly in poor taste but, aside from the trespass, I don't think it was criminal. There was no vandalism reported nor was anyone harmed or even threatened with harm. I doubt the boy was trying to make any philosophical point. He was just doing what 14-year-old boys have been doing for millenia. Unfortunately he ran a foul of a little known and rarelty used anti-desecration law. This prosecution is no better than the zero tolerance policies in the schools.

Freedom is an inherently offensive state of existence. No matter what you may believe, there will be someone who will ridicule it. Someone will burn a Koran, dip a Crucifix in urine, photoshop the Flying Spaghetti Monster into the creation image of the Sistine Chapel or use the word "citizen" (which is, apparently, banned in Seattle!) in a sentence. However, as HL Mencken wrote, "..the razor edge of ridicule is turned by the tough hide of truth."* If you really think what you believe is true then what is there to fear? Your pet theories or dogma will survive if truth is really on your side.

Silly attempts to limit offensive but otherwise peaceable behavior using law or speech codes is an example of the American ardor for substituting laws for common sense. The political Left, Right and Middle seem to share an insane belief that nirvana is just another regulation away. Wail all you want about Political Correctness but it is really just the Left's version of the anti-blasphemy laws.

* "On Truth" in Damn! A Book of Calumny. Page 43 in the Kindle edition I have. That essay is also the source for the title of this post.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bizzaro State of Massachusetts Maryland

Correction: An Anonymous comment corrects me: "This took place in Maryland, not Massachusetts." Text is edited to reflect this.

Patrick Wayne McLaw, an eighth grade teacher at Mace's Lane Middle School in Massachusetts Maryland, has been suspended under circumstances charitably described as mysterious.

Cambridge Mace's Lane Middle School Teacher on Administrative Leave

Early last week the school board was alerted that one of its eighth grade language arts teachers at Mace's Lane Middle School had several aliases. Police said that under those names, he wrote two fictional books about the largest school shooting in the country's history set in the future. Now, Patrick McLaw is placed on leave.

Aliases? Such a sinister word. Anyone with more than two brain cells left to rub together would call the false name an author uses a "pen name". Why would the reporter choose a baleful word to describe the man's nom de plume except to demonize him? Maybe it was just ignorance but the article has been updated at least once and the word is still used so, for the time being, I am going to go with it being evil over stupid.

Those books are what caught the attention of police and school board officials in Dorchester County. "The Insurrectionist" is about two school shootings set in the future, the largest in the country's history.

According to the Amazon page for the book the story is set almost 900 years in the future.

On 18 March 2902, a massacre transpired on the campus of Ocean Park High School, claiming the lives of nine hundred forty-seven individuals--the largest school massacre in the nation's history. And the entire country now begins to ask two daunting questions: How? and Why? After the federal government becomes involved, and after examining the bouquet of black roses that lies in front of the school's sign, it becomes evident that the hysteria is far from over.

Leaving aside any arguments about what human society will look like 900 years from now, that seems a pretty safe distance in time. So just what are the authorities afraid of? This is even more mysterious. According to a related article:

“The residence of the teacher in Wicomico County was searched by personnel,” Phillips said, with no weapons found. “A further check of Maryland State Police databases also proved to be negative as to any weapons registered to him. McLaw was suspended by the Dorchester County Board of Education pending an investigation and is no longer in the area. He is currently at a location known to law enforcement and does not currently have the ability to travel anywhere.”

So no firearms were found or even implied but, despite that, he is being held " a location known to law enforcement..." No charges have been mentioned nor is there any indication I can find that Mr. McLaw has been allowed to see a lawyer. For writing a book.

Just when I think I can see the bottom of the pit of human stupidity, someone shouts, "Challenge accepted!" and demonstrates that is goes even deeper into the darkness.