Here are a few “short takes” on items large and small that have been in the news of late:
- CHICK-FIL-A FRACAS – OK, so maybe I’m not really a good one to comment much on this, given the fact that I’m more or less a vegetarian (I do occasionally eat some fish). However, I think I can categorically say that I wouldn’t be eating any Chick-Fil-A chicken, even if I did crave the bird. Of course, it’s true that the head of this company has every right to express any opinion he likes. I am, in fact, a full and total supporter of the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. And no one has the right to tell him that his bigoted statements cannot be openly expressed. On the other hand, everyone else also has the right to choose NOT to eat chicken that comes from a restaurant owned by a bigot. So, Mr. Cathy, if you’re going to run your mouth off in public about your hateful attitudes toward LGBT people and their right to get married, you may just have to accept the social, and the economic, consequences of your narrow-minded homophobia. Sorry, but in case you didn’t know, that’s the way Capitalism works.
- ROMNEY’S FOOT-IN-MOUTH DISEASE – If the presumptive Republican nominee is going to use the world as his stage by traveling to the UK, Israel, and Poland, I think he’d have done well to better prepare his statements a little in advance. As it is, it’s looking as though he never quite got over jet lag. He insulted the Brits first off by telling them that it didn’t look as though they were really prepared for the Olympics. This is, at very least, what could be called an undiplomatic thing to say. Some might call it insensitive, or even just downright dumb. I mean, it’s probably not a good idea to insult your hosts, as they prepare to host you. And then he seems to have suggested that the Palestinians aren’t doing so well economically because, well, something to do with their “culture”? No word from Mr. Romney about the devastating effects of the Israeli blockade on Gaza, or on the fact that no economy can really flourish under constant stringent restrictions on the free movement of goods, services and people. No, it all seems to be about “culture,” whatever that may have meant to him. We might ordinarily have expected that reporters accompanying him could have questioned him further about what he meant, as a matter of fact, except that his handlers weren’t letting those reporters anywhere near him. No less a figure than Romney’s traveling press secretary told reporters to “Kiss my ass,” when they insisted too much. Now that, too, might be thought of as undiplomatic. Just take your pictures, boys, he seemed to be saying, and report on the platitudes our guy is spouting as he makes his way across Europe. Oh, and don’t forget, Lech Walesa came out for him! That should mean something in Chicago, shouldn’t it? At least he hasn’t told any Polish jokes – not yet anyway.
- WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LIGHTS? – And the electricity to run the trains, or the hospitals, or even the crematoriums? On the heels of a power outage that affected 370 million people, India has now gotten the prize for the mother-of-all power outages. This latest one affected people all across northern India, amounting to an astounding 620 million souls. Now there’s a number to gasp at! That’s more than twice the population of the United States. Another way to think of it is, if you combined the populations of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, there still would be more than 150 million people left over who were without power. Of course, there are many reasons that can be given as to why India lost power, having to do with outdated equipment, weak monsoonal rains and continued high heat, routine pilfering of electricity by millions of dispossessed individuals, and outright stealing of the stuff by whole Indian states (all right, “over-drawing” of their allotted amounts, if you prefer). But is anyone else wondering whether this kind of thing is just the beginning? Given run-away population growth world-wide and continued oddities (to use perhaps an overly polite word) in weather patterns due to ever-increasing temperatures caused by global warming, ought we not to prepare ourselves for many more such problems in our future, and not just in so-called developing countries? Here in our house, we’ve got a good old Coleman stove left over from our camping days that we can use to cook on, and lots of water saved up. We used to think that this was preparation for “the Big One” here in California, that major shift in the San Andreas Fault that everybody know is coming sooner or later. Now I’m beginning to think that there may well also be lots of other catastrophes we’d better prepare for, and some of them have nothing to do with the shifting of those pesky tectonic plates.
- BLESS ME, FATHER, FOR I HAVE USED A CONDOM – The latest installment in the Los Angeles Times series on the population explosion, which I wrote at some length about in a posting on this site last week, has to do this time with the Philippines. No doubt, it goes without saying that this is an overwhelmingly Catholic country. Some 80% of the current population of 96 million people not only profess to be Catholic, but are serious about it. They are what we used to call “practicing Catholics (I maybe ought to have capitalized the “P”).” The Church’s absolutely intransigent stance there, and elsewhere, not just on abortion, but on any and all use of contraception has led to an out-of-control birthrate in a country that can ill afford it. Rationalizations on the part of the Church are rife as to why the birthrate ought to remain high. Signs and billboards are plastered all over the country, paid for by the Church, which declaim “NO to the Reproductive Health Bill – YES to the Gospel of Life.” The Reproductive Health (RH) Bill referred to is a piece of legislation which has languished now for more than 14 years in the federal legislature, but which is coming up for another vote soon. It would provide contraception for masses of poor people who otherwise cannot afford to buy it themselves. As things stand right now, and if the population rate continues to soar as it currently is, the population of the Philippines is set to reach an astounding 155 million by the year 2050. That makes it one of the fastest-growing populations in all of Asia, and metro Manila is already among the most densely populated places on the globe. Dangerous back alley abortions – one of the few avenues currently open to many poor women attempting to control whether, or how often, they have children – are on the rise. It is well established world-wild, in fact, that abortions rise in countries where women have little access to reliable contraception. And yet, here is a recent quote from Bishop Leo Murphy Drona of San Pablo in the Philippines, claiming that the country’s president was “misleading the Filipino nation into believing that killing children and the unborn through aggressive population reduction, through the RH law, will be better for the country.” In what way, I would like to know, would population reduction NOT be better for the country? As is so often the case in the Philippines and elsewhere, the Catholic Church is on the right side of rigidity, dogma, and convention, but sadly on the wrong side of history.