Changing the World Just a Touch

One last word about my being called “anti-God” for a recent story. I’m not going to name the reader or her location so she can’t be identified:

Anti-? I’ve been reading ‘This Is True’ since 1997. Good grief that’s 10 years!!! The only thing that I have seen that you are against is idiocy. In my opinion, that is why you added the 7 + 1 deadly sins on the back of the plastic GOOHF cards. I also have to say that when I have a knee-jerk reaction to one of your editorials or taglines, I tend to go back and read the article over to see what pushed a button. I have learned quite a bit over the last 10 years about some of my reactions.

Learning Opportunity

I was intrigued by that last sentence, so I replied asking, like what? She replied:

I think the one thing in particular that stands out is my reaction to the Zero Tolerance debacle. I am a trainer for the Episcopal Diocese of [my area] for Sexual Misconduct Awareness and Prevention. As a trainer, I tend to be overly alert to misconduct, and I have had to rethink some of my own training. I have also made suggestions to the Diocese about why ZT is a BAD idea — BOUNDARIES, yes; ZT, no. The whole point of the training sessions is learning to recognize APPROPRIATE boundaries rather than extreme boundaries.

I’ve long said that True has a dual mission: to entertain and to provoke thought. Why provoke thought? To improve the world just a bit. I appreciate the validation that it’s worth the effort to try.

– – –

Bad link? Broken image? Other problem on this page? Use the Help button lower right, and thanks.

This page is an example of my style of “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. This is True is an email newsletter that uses “weird news” as a vehicle to explore the human condition in an entertaining way. If that sounds good, click here to open a subscribe form.

To really support This is True, you’re invited to sign up for a subscription to the much-expanded “Premium” edition:

One Year Upgrade

(More upgrade options here.)

Q: Why would I want to pay more than the minimum rate?

A: To support the publication to help it thrive and stay online: this kind of support means less future need for price increases (and smaller increases when they do happen), which enables more people to upgrade. This option was requested by existing Premium subscribers.


10 Comments on “Changing the World Just a Touch


    I recently read a thing about someone wanting to call the lawn police to have a neighbor be forced to mow his lawn and clean up his yard. I suggested to him that he and his neighbors might better set a day aside and do it for them, as that would be the neighborly thing to do. Maybe the homeowner is ill, or going through a crisis of some kind. The response of others was to indeed call the cops. Gosh I am glad I don’t live in that kind of neighborhood.

    And that is another example of ZT.

  2. I value people who make me think, but I treasure people who make me see things from a totally different perspective. Randy and True fit the latter.

    Then of course he has to be REALLY broad minded to be pals with the likes of Vince Sabio 😉

  3. As a member of the Council for Secular Humanism, I am constantly on the watch for critical thinking.

    Zero tolerance forbids critical thinking just as medical protocols do.

    In each case the practitioner, medical or teacher, is told to do and not think.

    Where did we go wrong in thinking we should hire robots to run the two most important sections of our society?

  4. Where did we go wrong? We never went right. Throughout human history, mankind has put their faith in the Elders that know much more than we do. It was only during the Enlightenment of the Renaissance that reasoning and critical thinking began to develop a following, and much of that was fought tooth and nail by the Powers That Be. Witness the branding of Galileo as a heretic, the persecution of Marco Polo for ALLOWING himself to be exposed to pagans, etc.

    Even today, look at the Falwells, the Ayatollahs, the Micro-Managers who know that nobody can do it as well as they can. How about cliches that are still strongly embedded in our culture, “If you want something done RIGHT, do it yourself.” Don’t challenge your elders. Don’t challenge Authority. Just try to challenge a judge in his courtroom, even with the most impeccable logic, and find out where you end up.

    How about all the MANDATORY safety precautions we must take, under the penalty of financial loss? We MUST buckle up in case we MIGHT have an accident. Not just you, by choice, but me because YOU know what’s best for me. How about MORE gun control because somebody MIGHT get killed? Per capita, AND as a ratio of guns to citizenry, there are fewer deaths by firearms in America than in most countries in Asia and in Africa where citizens don’t own guns.

    It’s human nature that everyone knows better than everyone else what is best for everyone. Most people can’t do squat about it. But a few get elected to positions of passing laws, ordinances and regulations.

    And Zero Tolerance is born, nurtured, improved, and society is placed in a straitjacket of futile protection against things which MIGHT happen.

  5. Mike’s comment about “everyone knowing best for everyone else” reminded me of a line from an old song by Fairport Convention (“The Plainsman”):

    “The world is spun with silver tongues,
    With good advice to give.
    If you can’t show me how to die,
    Don’t tell me how to live.”

    I think the reason ZT persists, is that it takes responsibility out of people’s hands, and let’s them say “but I was just following orders/protocols/procedures.” Look how well THAT worked 60 years ago…

  6. Larry – re “The Plainsman” – Lessee now. If I can’t show you how to die, I can’t tell you how to live. If I show you how to die, I can no longer tell you how to live. You win either way…. Pretty lyrics don’t always make a lot of sense.

    Mike, if we were allowed to let adults who get maimed in accidents while not wearing seatbelts to die, I would probably agree with you that we shouldn’t be requiring people to wear seatbelts. Let self-interest enforce the rule instead. However we expend a lot of resources to save idiots such as that, and that gives us the “right” to require people to take action to minimise that expenditure. I do this, not because I know what’s best for you, but because I know what’s best for me.

    As for your claims regarding comparative gun deaths in the U.S., Asia, and Africa, take wars and insurrections out of the picture and I expect the numbers change quite a bit – not to mention that in many of the states in question there is no effective gun control of any kind.

    ZT is not a considered attempt to solve a problem. It is an easy way to be seen to be doing something to solve a problem, and in some ways attempts to institutionalize the idea that “if we can’t/don’t talk about it, it won’t/didn’t happen.” The act of putting it in place is an act of moral and intellectual poverty.

  7. “However we expend a lot of resources to save idiots such as that, and that gives us the “right” to require people to take action to minimise that expenditure. I do this, not because I know what’s best for you, but because I know what’s best for me.”

    So, to save resources, it gives you the RIGHT to impose your standards upon others? Then that gives me the RIGHT to blow away someone who sneaks into my house to steal a stereo, all in the name of protecting my resources.

    And since you support a mandatory law, not because it’s best for me, but because it’s best for YOU implies that you wouldn’t do it without a law. You need a LAW to make your own choice?

    You have just demonstrated how YOU know what’s best for the rest of us, based upon “protecting resources” and your own admitted inability to make “correct” choices. Such “altruism” is always the beginning basis of dictatorships, too. They only become corrupt after restraint of power has been removed.

    I’m with Peter on this one. People claim it’s their “right” to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, or drive a car without wearing seat belts. Normally, I’d fully agree with them. The problem is, some percentage of them inevitably get hurt — and then expect someone else to pay for their emergency care, rehabilitation, and disability. And most often, that “someone else” is taxpayers.

    You want the “right” to drive in ways that endanger you? That’s fine — as long as society has a “right” to let you die when you get your fool ass hurt. When you arrive at the Emergency Room and you don’t have special insurance to pay for it, then you should be dragged out of the hospital to where you will die — in agony, because pain meds aren’t included either.

    But no one has the stomach to really do it. The same people who loudly proclaim their “right” to do as they please rarely agree to take the responsibility for their actions. And since they don’t, I’m OK with the holder of taxpayer money to say they have to wear that helmet or seat belt. -rc

  8. “There is only one basic human right and that is to do as you damned well please. And with it comes the sole human responsibility, to take the consequences.” ~P.J. O’Rourke

    However, I do have insurance so it’s a specious argument that taxpayers pick up the tab. It’s been argued that it drives up the cost of insurance for all people, but the same holds true for AIDS patients. It’s already been ruled that people cannot be denied health insurance based upon their lifestyle. We could also save money on health insurance by refusing to insure skiers, mountain climbers, smokers, bicyclists (yes, there are large numbers of those who get hurt or killed each year), but it’s been ruled illegal.

    In the northern states, it’s very popular for some people to go ice fishing. On some days, the ice is too thin and people are warned not to engage in the sport, but some do so anyway. Taxpayer resources are expended to rescue them. It’s been suggested that the first time for an individual is free, even though warnings were given. The next time, that individual would be charged for any rescue. Nice idea, but it’s just never gotten enough muster to become reality.

    Randy, you live in the mountains where people have to be rescued from skiing accidents, getting lost in the snow, and a multitude of other similar incidents. Are any of those people charged for their rescues? Should we restrict their decisions to engage in those activities which might necessitate their rescue?

    While I’m not talking about my “right” to do whatever I please, in a way I am. I’m talking about restricting the government from over-regulating each individual life under the pretext of “protection.” And the nature of the government to be Big Brother comes from the human nature that each person KNOWS what’s best for everyone else. Get enough of those people together, and what’s “best” becomes law.

  9. I agree with Mike from Dallas. It’s one thing to make it a law require seatbelts & car seats for minors and those who can’t protect themselves from a parent’s stupidity. It’s another thing entirely to not only require seatbelts for adults but then to ticket both the passenger (who failed to put on a seat belt) & the driver for failing to require the passenger to do so. The fact that Maryland actually actively searches for drivers and passengers failing to wear seatbelts in order to ticket them is Big Brother at its worst. Where does the money go? Emergency services? Of course not! It goes to make up the shortfall in the budget of the police departments so they can pay overtime to officers who are then made to work overtime on traffic duty. WOW! That really makes sense doesn’t it.

  10. Actually, I never meant this to be a discussion about the value of seat belts. The topic was essentially about Zero Tolerance, no decisions allowed, which is similar to the enforced mandatory seat belt laws. Yes, in America we do have the right to be stupid (except for making seat belt decisions). I can smoke like a chimney, eat cholesterol by the metric ton, enjoy sugary snacks to the point of diabetes, and drink alcohol like a fish. I can even get a license so I can drive like a fool, run into YOU and kill you, but (thanks to those who know what’s best for me) I’ll be safe since I was forced to wear a seat belt.


Leave a Comment