Tag Archives: responsibility

Wednesday Word of the Week, September 21: Responsibility

21 Sep

Liberty and Justice for ALL!

This week’s word is: RESPONSIBILITY

a form of trustworthiness; the trait of being answerable to someone for something or being responsible for one’s conduct – Macmillan Dictionary Online

As we noted last week, a disturbing trend on the rightward fringe of our national conversation is a refusal to take responsibility for their own words and actions. The more odious the statement, the more likely the wingnuts are to dodge accountability.

This week shows a cheering example of a group trying to hide from their own words and being told “no.” The so-called “family” groups who oppose equality for LGBT Americans are always prone to exaggerations, distortions, and outright lies. They rely on vague claims, junk science, flawed logic, and gross distortions of freedom of religion while perpetrating vicious stereotypes. This was sadly very true during the campaign for California’s Proposition 8 in 2008. The Catholic and Mormon churches, together with a nasty coalition of professional homophobes, waged a successful campaign of deception to pass that triumph of inequality. When a Federal judge ruled that the measure was unconstitutional, these groups did everything they could to attack him.

In the appeal of this decision (Perry v. Brown), the hatemongers did everything they could to block public reporting of the case and to prevent the release of the videotapes made of the testimony. Based on all the eyewitness accounts, this was because their claims relied on the usual lies and on a single witness who, under pressure on the stand, agreed that Prop 8 was discriminatory. The plaintiffs maintained (rather feebly) that making the videos available would open them up to threats. (Beware the power of the Gay Agenda!)

Fortunately, Chief Judge James Ware did not agree, stating:

foremost among the aspects of the federal judicial system that foster public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the process.

That’s right, foes of equality. If you make a public statement, especially in sworn testimony, you are responsible for it. As David Boies, one of the attorneys representing the group opposing Prop 8 so eloquently put it:

a witness stand is a lonely place to lie. And when you come into court, you can’t do that. And that’s what we proved. We put fear and prejudice on trial, and fear and prejudice lost.

At the end of the day, this is what will prove to be the undoing of the forces of inequality. When they are compelled to live up to their own words and deeds, it is very clear that their only agenda is bigotry and discrimination. They may dress it up as much as they like, but that is only a smokescreen. There is only one real difference between Tony Perkins and Fred Phelps: Phelps is very clear about his mission and never tries to sugar-coat it. The more people who see the lies and manipulations that are used to attack the LGBT community, the less that difference will matter and the less power these groups will have. Some day they will fade away forever. Monday’s decision to release the Perry v. Brown tapes was a great step in that direction.

Wednesday Word of the Week: August 10

10 Aug

This week’s word is: ANNIVERSARY

the date on which an event occurred in some previous year (or the celebration of it)

This week is the first anniversary of the founding of The Solipsistic Me. This is one of the best of the small-press blogs and I am privileged to be a part of its community. The founder, editor, and heart of TSM is Michael Hulshof-Schmidt, a model of integrity, wisdom, and compassion. (He’s also a witty and insightful writer. What a package!)

Michael invited me to look back over the time I’ve been involved with the blog (first as a commenter, then as an occasional contributor, then as a columnist). I am more than happy to comply with this wish and to celebrate this wonderful bright spot on the Internet.

First, as requested by Michael, a look at what I consider to be my best contributions to TSM.

  1. FAMILY – In only my second Wednesday Word of the Week, I felt like I captured something important and stayed true to the heart of TSM with this post. My biological family has seen a lot of upheaval recently, and this post captures how I feel about all of the types of family and their interconnected value.
  2. HISTORY – This is my favorite of the “words matter, you fools” posts that I have written. Taking shots at Sarah Palin is a bit too easy, perhaps, but this post applies to so many who believe they can twist reality to fit their views and needs.
  3. KNOWLEDGE – One of the posts whose structure and content merged best together, this expresses my frustration with the over-abundance of noise and the lack of understanding in the digital age.

I have to include a sentimental favorite to wrap up this list. I had more fun creating the somewhat silly but information-packed ALPHABET post than any other. It doesn’t have the same kind of insight as some of my better work, perhaps, but I love it for the special wonder that it is.

Mine is but one small brush contributing to the grand canvas of The Solipsistic Me. I would like to fully celebrate this anniversary by looking at what I consider the top ten accomplishments of the past year.

BIGOT

a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own

HERO

a being of great strength and courage celebrated for bold exploits; someone who fights for a cause

The regular features of Bigot and Hero of the Week are insightful overviews of key issues and people, often things that are overlooked by the mainstream media. Even when the recipient is a well-known figure, TSM manages to provide a fresh perspective. A great example (and one of Michael’s finest pieces of writing) was the closing feature for LGBTQ History Month celebrating Albus Dumbledore.

COMMUNITY

a group of people who live together in the same place; the feeling that you belong to a group and that this is a good thing

This post used the delightful Britcom Jam and Jerusalem (a.k.a. Clatterford) to highlight the ways we are all connected and the importance of mutual support and care. It inspired me not only to watch the television program but to write a WWW about charity after the Japanese tsunami.

BOYCOTT

a group’s refusal to have commercial dealings with some organization in protest against its policies

TSM takes a strong stand on corporate responsibility. Michael has done wonderful work in highlighting companies whose business practices merit our discretion. I chose the series on Target because of the many ups and downs in the story.

OBSTINANCE

resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires

The Solipsistic Me also highlights the willful rejection of facts so often practiced by the right wing. Many stories contain elements of this important and disturbing trend. I am particularly fond of I Will Not Be Bothered With Facts or the Truth, a stern indictment of many facets of this behavior. A magnificent overview is the calling out of the Querulous Quartet and their ilk for inventing “facts.” I am particularly fond of this post because it refers to the posts that first attracted me to TSM.

INCLUSION

the belief that all people should feel that they are included in society, even if they lack some advantages

Michael’s dedication to ensuring rights for everyone is a singular constant on TSM. This thread of social justice includes calling out weaknesses and room for improvement wherever they occur. As a member of the LGBTQ community himself, he refuses to let his peers ignore their own opportunities to improve. I was particularly struck by his magnificent series on transgender issues and this piece (written by his husband, Robert) about the challenges faced by bisexuals.

INVOLVEMENT

the act of sharing in the activities of a group

Another facet of TSM is that the contributors don’t simply write about the world; they engage in it. Michael’s piece on his experience lobbying with Planned Parenthood is strong journalism, a clear call to action, and proof that he lives his ideals.

RESPONSIBILITY

a moral duty to behave in a particular way

When Michael learned that his alma mater, Oglethorpe University, was hosting a lecture by a notorious pseudo-intellectual conservative, he took action. He held the University responsible, spoke to the parties involved, and engaged the community through this powerful post on TSM. In the interests of journalistic integrity, he also had two correspondents write pieces about the lecture to ensure a complete picture. This dedication to the whole truth is an important hallmark of this blog.

GREED

excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves

One of my all-time favorites is Robert’s searing indictment of corporate irresponsibility, the delightfully titled We the Corporations, In Order to Form a More Perfect Profit.

CONTINUTITY

the property of a continuous and connected period of time

Proving that good thing can indeed last, one of Michael’s finest posts was written just last week. The insightful Bombing of Hiroshima: Lessons We Have Yet to Learn asks important questions about where we are headed as a nation and provides clear examples of history offering us the opportunity to avoid that deadly path.

What wondrous works have come from this blog! Where will it lead us next? I am honored to be a small part of this community and am more than pleased to celebrate some of its many highlights.

Solipsistic? Ironically, perhaps, but not at heart. I say rather

involving or affecting everyone in the world

UNIVERSAL.

Happy birthday to The Solipsistic Me.

All definitions courtesy of Macmillan Dictionary Online

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service – Civics Made Practical

17 Jan

It’s not just another holiday. In 1994, President Clinton signed legislation – put forward by Sen. Harris Wofford (D – PA) and Rep. John Lewis (D – GA) – which transformed the decade-old holiday. The goal was to challenge Americans to use the day for citizen action and volunteer service. As noted on the official site for the day, “It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.”

The legacy of Dr. King is multi-faceted. While he is known as a civil rights pioneer, he also maintained that these rights required the active engagement of all citizens. Civic engagement is a key component of being part of a democratic society.

In the era of standardized testing and teaching to factoids rather than skills that we got from No Billionaire Left Behind, civics has been sadly omitted as a part of regular curriculum. For the record, civics is “the study of the rights and duties of citizenship.” (Oxford Compact Dictionary) Social Studies is often only the residue of the rote names and dates approach to learning, leaving out the active role granted to and required of good citizens.

The Center for Civic Education is working hard to change this circumstance. The Campaign to Promote Civic Education effort is a fifty-state campaign (including the District of Columbia) aimed at restoring the civic mission of our nation’s schools by encouraging states and school districts to devote sustained and systematic attention to civic education from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

In Oregon, civics was dropped as a part of core curriculum in 1997. Recently, a concerned Legislature created the Civics and Financial Education Task Force to address the gaps in civic education. The final report of the task force articulates significant frustration with the current climate in education but does propose a small return to civics education beginning this school year.

The news on civic engagement is not entirely bleak. The 2010 report by the Corporation for National and Community Service showed a surge in volunteerism despite the poor economy. After decades of lackluster turnout, the United States Election Project reports voter turnout has returned to levels near that of 1972. It is heartening to see this kind of civic resurgence. Nevertheless, in this sound-bite-driven, corporate-purchased-election, fact-averse culture, we need to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of effective participation are instilled in students throughout their education, not just as a half-credit add-on.

As you enjoy the holiday, please give some thought to what you do to give back to your community. If you aren’t able to volunteer today, look for an opportunity in your area and commit some time. If there are young people in your life, take the time to make sure they are learning about their role in an active, meaningful democracy. And, just for fun, revisit some civic learning that might just make you smile, because being a part of a free society should also bring us joy.

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