commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for October, 2004

"Less lethal" weapons

Police Commissioner O’Toole of Boston avers:

"The dreadful irony is that the use of less-lethal weapons is designed to reduce the risk of fatal injury."

One wonders if the Boston Police would have fired a revolver or shotgun at a peaceful citizen who was not disobeying the law. If they wouldn’t have… the dreadful irony is really that the use of so-called "less-lethal" weapons actually increases the risk of fatal injury, as police who use these still quite-lethal weapons seem to ignore the first rule of firearms: Don’t point or fire the gun unless you intend to kill.

Dens of thieves and deadly beanbags

In New York City, the parishoners of a Catholic parish were told that their church would have to be closed due to the high cost of structural repairs. No problem, as far as the parishioners were concerned – they raised $100,000 to take care of it.

But now their church has been padlocked and shut down anyway by the Archdiocese of New York which apparently intended to shut it down all along – with no accounting for that $100,000 coming out of the pockets of working-class New Yorkers. In the same way the Catholic Church treats sexual abusers, the pastor of St. Brigid’s parish has conveniently been reassigned to India.

St. Brigid’s church stands on some prime real estate property; no doubt that is a prime consideration over at St. Patrick’s den of thieves.

The 20th century Christian evangelist Harold Humbert wrote of a church building as a "sanctuary sure", which "stands on holy sod"; built to "endure", it "is the consecrated place where God himself draws nigh." It appears that nothing is sacred or holy anymore – if it ever was – when placed under the care of a Cardinal Archbishop.

In other news, it appears that Boston’s Finest got carried away in their celebration of the Red Sox defeating the Yankees. Responding to the grave threat of a few firecrackers being set off by fans hoping that the Curse of the Bambino might be on its way to disintegration, the Boston Police Department fired so-called "nonlethal" bean bags – really not bean bags, but lead-shot filled bags into the crowd. One of these "non-lethal bean bags" struck Victoria Snelgrove, a journalism major, in the side of the head – and killed her.

Maybe Bostonians should hope that the Red Sox don’t win the World Series – just think how much celebrating the Boston Police would do if that happened, playing bean-bag toss with high-powered weapons.

The lottery of life and death

Once upon a time, Shirley Jackson wrote a short story called "The Lottery". Some of you may have read it in school.

I wonder if Ms. Jackson ever thought there’d come a day in the United States of America where a lottery of life and death would be held to parcel out flu shots.

And Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, says there’s no crisis. He seems to be about as well informed as the CIA was about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq…

Bush has not only failed to catch BinLaden…

Bush hasn’t only failed to catch Osama Bin Laden – but now he’s helping Osama recruit allies. CNN reports that some Iraqis fighting the American occupation of Iraq have now offered their allegiance to Osama Bin Laden.

Of course, if the US hadn’t invaded Iraq, these groups wouldn’t have formed in Iraq to aid Osama – as Saddam Hussein, being a secular leader, was another major enemy of Osama. Kinda makes you wonder exactly who’s being un-American: the people who’ve said all along that the Iraq war was wrong, or the people who’ve supported a war which has, in its conduct, aided and abetted the people who planned the September 11th attacks on the United States.

In other news, showing that the US hasn’t learned its lesson yet about giving military lessons (after all, CIA supported Osama Bin Laden), the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly named School of the Americas), is still in operation despite years of protests.

Maybe if people realized that we’re creating hatred towards the US on a worldwide basis, and that these actions – the invasion of Iraq, the continuation of WHISC – increase the risk of terrorism, they might vote a little differently. Maybe that’s why it’s not mentioned much by the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about…

As Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, wrote:

What is the depth of the American soul if we can allow destruction to be done in our name and the name of “liberation” and never even demand an accounting of its costs, both personal and public, when it is over?

We like to take comfort in the notion that people make a distinction between our government and ourselves. We like to say that the people of the world love Americans, they simply mistrust our government. But excoriating a distant and anonymous “government” for wreaking rubble on a nation in pretense of good requires very little of either character or intelligence.

What may count most, however, is that we may well be the ones Proverbs warns when it reminds us: “Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks the truth.” The point is clear: If the people speak and the king doesn’t listen, there is something wrong with the king. If the king acts precipitously and the people say nothing, something is wrong with the people.

It may be time for us to realize that in a country that prides itself on being democratic, we are our government. And the rest of the world is figuring that out very quickly.

FOX discovers that censorship cuts both ways

Remember the wardrobe “malfunction” that cost CBS half a million dollars?

Well, it seems now that FOX television, home of conservative news pundits, is about to learn that censorship can apply to them too. It seems that they have a show called “Married by America”, and apparently they (no malfunction here!) had contestants licking whipped cream off each other’s bodies. The FCC is talking a cool million against this bastion of family values and conservatism. Imagine that…

Pertussis: the silent epidemic

Pertussis. Whooping cough.

One of those things you got vaccinated against when you were two or three, and then forgot about, because you’re protected from it, right?

Think again. You aren’t. It wears off.

Lynne and Phil, two friends of mine, lost a child to whooping cough in April of this year. It wasn’t diagnosed as whooping cough until after the infant died.

And it’s not like health authorities wouldn’t have known about it. The Centers for Disease Control have been tracking – and publishing – pertussis data that shows it exceeding historical trends:

graph of diseases from

excerpt from chart showing pertussis statistics
Look at that. In the 38th week of 2003, only 5,978 cases. In the 38th week of 2004, 9,983 cases. That’s a 67% increase since last year.

If you’re trying to, or possibly might become pregnant, please consider getting vaccinated. If you’re likely to be around infants and/or small children on a regular basis, please consider getting vaccinated.

Because it’s already too late for Nelyn Frend Theodore Baker. His parents didn’t know about the threat. You do.