Month: April 2014

Donald Sterling: A Small Man

The Los Angeles Clippers play their fifth playoff game against the Golden State Warriors tonight. The series had been a good one, up to the third game. These teams played each other tough, as they did during the regular season, and there’s been some good playoff basketball to watch. The first game went the Warriors way, as Blake Griffin got into foul trouble and Chris Paul wasn’t hitting his shots at the end. The second game went the Clippers way, as Griffin dominated the post, once he realized he needed to stay on the court to take advantage of his interior skills. The Clippers eked out a win in the third game when the Warriors charged in the fourth quarter. Great, satisfying NBA playoff basketball.

The fourth game was ruined by the spectre of Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments. The Clippers were understandably deflated. The entire NBA league had been rattled. Our society is currently incensed. Race relations have been moved back a few decades by a cantankerous old man who seems to fancy himself a modern-era slave-benefactor in the mold of Cliven Bundy’s white ideals for the black community.

It has been suggested that the Clippers should not have played the fourth game. This might have been the best thing for the players. Some fans might not have appreciated it if the Clippers had not played, but many would have understood that mental acuity and physical performance go hand-in-hand in sports. Your mind must be sharp in order to play effectively. For the sake of the integrity of the game, it would have been understood by this fan if the Clippers decided not to play…I feel the Warriors might have joined them in a symbolic boycott. League executives would not have appreciated it, but they would run the risk of alienating a majority of their fan base, if they denounced the players for a boycott instead of Sterling for his comments.

What confounds me a bit is how some sports reporters reacted to the Clippers’ show of unity. The players wore their warm-up jerseys inside-out, hiding Sterling’s ownership brand. Some indicated that this was inappropriate, and the Clippers should wait until afterward to express their indignity. The thinking goes that the Clippers should focus on the game and worry about politicizing another time. Some suggested that the Clippers shouldn’t show that Sterling was on their mind because it was a sign of weakness, and they lost game four because their minds were more on how to make a statement than winning the game.

That’s a load of horse crap. Of course their minds were on Sterling’s comments, but they weren’t obsessing over how to express indignation. They wore their warm-up jerseys inside-out, and they played the game despite the mental burden they had forced upon them. Their minds were going to be on Sterling’s comments regardless of a show of protest, just like the rest of the free world is focusing on Donald Sterling presently. They had the extraordinary burden, as a team, of performing under a scathing spotlight, attempting to win for each other, while not representing a revealed bigot. I applaud the Clippers for displaying their opposition to Sterling through symbolic gesture. It’s just piling on the deflated to disallow them an opportunity to express themselves jointly; it is borderline repugnant to suggest they lost the game because of their demonstration.

This is where we overreact as a society. Americans are always quick to point the hot finger of blame when scandal presents itself. Donald Trump, another rich entrepreneur who might soon own the NFL Buffalo Bills, pointed the finger at Sterling’s girlfriend. Some, myself included, point the finger at former NBA commissioner David Stern for allowing Sterling to operate while aware of his debauched character (Please explain to us again, Mr. Stern, how Chris Paul ended up in a Clippers uniform). It has even been suggested that we are all to blame because we grow resentful about recorded phone calls instead of discriminatory real-estate practices.

Donald Sterling should be blamed entirely here. It is his fault for being a racist. Whether the conversation was private or not, Sterling’s character is obvious from his rhetoric. He deserves the lion’s share of consequence because his beliefs have been exposed. At 80 years old, he has had plenty of time to reconsider his racism, and he stuck with a hateful ideology, most likely for eight decades. Let’s keep that red-hot focus on the appropriate target, please.

It’s obvious that Donald Sterling will not lose in this situation. He sits on a pile of wealth, and he stands to gain even more, if he is forced to sell the franchise. Adam Silver, the new commissioner of the NBA, will hold a press conference today to discuss the consequences for Donald Sterling. Most likely, he will be suspended and/or fined. At best, Sterling’s ownership rights will be removed (I’m not sure consensus on this will be reached by the other 29 owners).

The only consequence that matters will be social ostracization. He has been exposed, and the nation is aware of his character. An apology, like the one given last year by Philadelphia Eagles WR Riley Cooper, will not suffice. The situations are different: Cooper shouted an excited utterance which was recorded, to which his apology was contrite and his actions were representative of humility, while Sterling laid down an entire manifesto of racism that would be difficult to renege without betraying his dishonesty. Sterling cannot apologize without stating unequivocally that he is wrong to think and believe in such a manner. I assume a man like Sterling will remain smugly complacent in his own world view, and that might be the biggest tragedy of all. Sterling might die a miserable racist on a big pile of money…and that might be the only satisfaction we receive collectively…

…and that is what we should concern ourselves with tonight. There are calls to boycott tonight’s game. Fans in L.A. might not attend the game. Viewers might deflate the ratings by turning the channel. If Adam Silver’s press conference does not satisfy the demands of the public, the players just might boycott tonight’s playoff game.

I hope the Clippers and Warriors play tonight. I hope fans pack the house to support the Clippers. I anticipate tonight’s game might actually increase the viewer ratings. I hope that the Clippers can play through this hardship. I hope that both teams play to their potential and give fans a competitive game. Just as a one million dollar fine would mean little to the wealthy Donald Sterling, a boycott against his franchise will probably mean less to this racist mogul. It is my hope that Donald Sterling is not the focus tonight. I hope that the players can accept adversity and display courage in the same vein that Jackie Robinson once did daily in a Dodgers uniform. I hope that the public can celebrate the black players on the floor as representatives of a great and diverse American game. I hope that the words of a very small man do not spoil the camaraderie and festivity of our American ideals and tradition, represented by these treasured NBA players, no matter the color of their skin.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

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Discrimination Still Occurs Within an “Enlightened” Society

Within American Christian circles, there has been much focus on the Biblical book of Genesis. The story of Creation has been fundamentally applied to insist that the world is 6,000 to 7,000 years old, despite what scientific study has confirmed. The story of Noah has been glamorized to the point that it is taught that climate change cannot occur because of God’s great promise never to destroy the Earth again for Man’s sins…oh, and dinosaurs were passengers on the ark, also countering scientific study of the Earth’s age. We also seem to give quite a bit of credence to Adam’s punishment for committing original sin, leading to his expulsion from the Garden of Eden: “the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it” (Genesis 3:17, New Living Translation). Apparently, poverty is an unfortunate circumstance commanded by God and perpetuated by the holier-than-thou.

I find the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) most fascinating. It is indicative of the continued human condition of discrimination, deemed necessary by God to prevent a collective endeavor of Man, who might equate himself with God almighty. Man attempts to build empires, building wealth and accumulation to symbolically attain god-like stature; the great tower was to reach the Heavens to find God, to equate Man with God, to prove to God of Man’s assumed worth and value. When Man worked together, united with one language and purpose, God deemed it necessary to splinter the race of Man, by creating confusion of language, by driving man to scattered kingdoms, and by distorting attitudes toward one another, fostering competition, diversity, and hatred among the different factions of Man.

Fundamentalists will note that racism was not created by God during the Tower of Babel incident; God merely created the different language systems, not differing skin colors. This semantic difference seems irrelevant. We might note that today’s society has mapped most of the shared language systems utilized on planet Earth, yet we continue to discriminate against each other, incapable of working together to achieve Utopian civilization. If Christians insist race was not a factor of God’s consequence at the Tower of Babel, then we might concede that ethnicity was a decided factor, based on differing language systems.

I read the Tower of Babel story to be an historic exposition of sacred rationale for humankind’s inclination for all discrimination, a continued detractor of the human condition. Even if we gloss over history, or constrain our study to only that which affects American interests, we cannot deny that racial, gender, ethnic, and fiscal division has continued, even in a time when communication is possible between most fractioned human categories.

In this story of the Tower of Babel, humans attempted to build an empire, and God deemed it necessary to inject discrimination into the culture to counteract Man’s hubris. Fundamentalist Christians read Biblical stories as factual. Interestingly, humans continue to attempt to build empires—symbolic towers built to achieve god-like stature—and Christians approve of empire-building by endorsing the American free market and denying the continued existence of racial discrimination within the country’s culture. This past week has given us three pieces of evidence confirming this theory:

1) The Supreme Court of the United States, the John Roberts court, seems to deny that racism persists in American culture. Along with calling for the dismantling of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the court recently decided to allow states to take apart inclusive policies designed to permit minorities the opportunity to attend colleges. It is universally agreed that our college education system provides citizens the chance to succeed within the stagnating economy of America. Yet, colleges have allowed white and wealthy citizens this opportunity disproportionately. The Roberts court seems to think that racial ethnicity is no longer a factor and has allowed states to prevent affirmative action within college admissions (Interesting note: the two dissenters on the court are female; every vote conceding that affirmative action can be done away with at the state level is a male). Ultimately, SCOTUS has decided that discrimination no longer occurs in America, and this denial of discrimination allows for continued division within the American empire.

2) Sean Hannity often runs segments where he derides the liberal media for “playing the race card.” He often employs black pundits to agree with him that race plays no role in today’s political spectrum. He denies that his opposition to Barack Obama has anything to do with the color of the President’s skin. Yet, when a man he championed, Cliven Bundy, recites obvious racist rhetoric, Hannity is forced to denounce Bundy, distance himself from the Nevada rancher as much as possible, and insist that he is still right about his mission against Big Government (this story is not about Cliven Bundy, you see…and Democrats are the true empire-builders, not conservatives). Hannity will continue with business as usual with his TV and radio propaganda—while omitting the story of Cliven Bundy from here on out—and he will continue to deny racism exists in today’s country. Hannity often provides a blueprint for what he would do to cure this country’s ills (just ask him what he would do if he was President). Sean Hannity promotes empire-building nightly, while he denies that discrimination is still woven tightly within the American fabric.

3) The owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling, was caught on tape spouting his racist discrimination for the world to hear (this is currently alleged, but the evidence is difficult to deny at this point). Sterling’s history indicates he is racist, and many acquaintances of Sterling are not surprised by this recording. We can safely speculate that Sterling, as an owner of an NBA franchise, is not alone as discriminatory among sports executives; if not for anonymity of reporting, then we would be able to scrutinize at least two more NFL executives in similar fashion as Donald Sterling, concerning Michael Sam and Jadeveon Clowney. Donald Sterling is an empire-builder with discriminatory tendencies. Disturbingly, he might be closer to the norm than an anomaly, as far as modern American empire-builders are concerned.

The Bible holds wisdom within its pages. I will not deny this. Since Christians endorse the lessons of the Bible so vehemently, I often wonder why the Tower of Babel is not emphasized more as a cautionary tale against discriminatory practices, or perhaps an explanation for why humans are always so prejudiced. It’s obvious that discrimination is an inherent trait of the human condition, and it is a sinful flaw, bestowed upon humanity for their collective vanity, ambition, and arrogance. To avoid sinful hubris, we must respect one another, love thy neighbor, and display humility before strangers, as the Bible also instructs. Building empires, individually or collectively, represents the American standard of greed and self-indulgence…the sin of racial discrimination fuels Man’s desire to build a symbolic tower so he can falsely sit shoulder-to-shoulder with God in the heavens…and Man will be prevented from heavenly reward because of these mortal sins of hubris, racism, and intolerance, which continue despite denial to the contrary.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

Off I Go to C2E2

I often think back to my young adult years and become horrified remembering words I had spoken, actions I performed, and choices that I made. I imagine it happens to the best of us. One very regrettable notion I had as a teenager was to become a comic book writer. I would often fantasize about what it would be like to manage the tales of Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Superman, or Batman, along with a myriad of other established fantasy characters. What makes it most regrettable, at the age of 40, is I continue to dream of the possibility of writing a Marvel or DC comic. I just have never been able to abandon the comic book geek in me.

The first comic book convention I attended was way back in July of 1994, at the Chicago Comic Convention, before it was usurped by Wizard Magazine. I was promoting my own independent book, The Unseen, and I was a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed rookie of the chaos that is a comic convention. My plan was to publish a comic at the age of 20, show all the big-wigs at Marvel or DC my acumen, and come away with at least two or three viable contracts to write the characters I loved throughout my youth.

Silly, silly naïve little lad.

I set up my table in the retail section instead of the artist alley section, losing tons of potential customers and confusing quite a few attendees. I had little idea how to sell the product, as I was a bit shy and awkward (as I remain, as a salesman). I did not anticipate the sheer magnitude of the convention, and I ended up walking around like a shell-shocked gawker more than a professional comic creator. I invited too many artists along with me, and what little profit I could manage was blown by the end of that first weekend.

As for my mission to impress the professionals, I remember being lightly scolded by William Tucci, creator of Shi: “How do you expect to make any money without advertising? You need to invest in your product, son.” I remember being roundly insulted for being an arrogant, pesky kid by one Rob Schrab, who had succeeded with Scud, the Disposable Assassin (I see he is directing episodes of Community now, after a solid career in movies and television…good for him). I remember handing Peter David a copy of my book in the restroom, before “fan-boy stalker” even entered into our lexicon. I recall the long lines of young, eager comic wannabes at the Marvel booth for portfolio review, impenetrable lest I wanted to wait three hours for a rejection.

Twenty years later, I have attended over thirty conventions, and I have had little luck breaking through to comic-book success. Recently, I was chided by a DC comic editor for including short stories in my portfolio; apparently, diversified creative writing is not valued by comic veterans. Joe Quesada, chief muckity-muck at Marvel, flipped through my portfolio, stated “nope,” and proceeded to twiddle his thumbs and look over my shoulder until I went away (This was not entirely unanticipated). Multiple tours of artist alleys all over the country confirm that there are armies of poor (as in broke!) creators looking to land the big gig, and the big dogs at Marvel and DC have pretty much closed their doors to independent creators.

I realize it is a hopeless endeavor to attend a comic convention and preserve hope for landing a profitable writing job. Yet, here I am, prepping for another trip to C2E2, excited for another go at that idealized writing career…wide-eyed and bushy-tailed…ready to make waves…hoping to land that scripting contract that will allow me to implement the fantastical scenarios I retain from my youth.

Silly, silly naïve old man. I will never learn.

{At least I can promote the blog at C2E2! Hope to see you there!

If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

An American Has Been Detained By Russians

I appreciate good journalism, and there is a noticeable lack of it in this country. Objective American journalism went out the window with the advent of ratings-guided, customer-response reporting. Success in the job for a television reporter has more to do with appearances than intellectual capacity. When the people want more Justin Bieber and Miley Cirus stories…well, damn it, we’re going to give the people what they want.

I appreciate the HBO show Vice first and foremost as a quality journalistic vehicle. (I admit, I was unaware of the magazine until the television show aired for the first time last year.) Most every story on Vice I watch, I learn about something new. Many of their stories deal with global culture and obscure relevance. When they cover an American story, it is usually of greater significance and involves American cultural stories of which I had been ignorant. The topics usually involve proliferation of gun violence, climate change, slavery, animal poaching, education, poverty, discrimination…all leave me feeling indignant of the human condition. I place such a high value on Vice as a source for informative journalism, and I consume it voraciously. The show makes me glad that I live in this country, even while I am simultaneously embarrassed to live in a culture that places much value on vapidity and self-indulgence.

One thing that is obvious about Vice’s reporting: it is dangerous. I have noted many times while watching a segment that the reporters have to possess courage to engage in the oft-violent environments where the stories take place…much more courage than I, or most reporters, would ever admit possessing. It is understood by these Vice reporters that this bravery is a necessary component of their profession to get the stories that few are willing to cover. Informing the public about events of greater significance comes with a high cost.

Simon Ostrovsky, a Vice reporter, was detained yesterday by pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine is a most dangerous place in the world at this moment. I write about this today in the hopes that more Americans will start paying attention to this, because I suspect the situation in Ukraine is of little consequence to the American citizen.

Vladmir Putin is invading Ukraine. He has already referred to Eastern Ukraine as New Russia. His army is gathered, ready to strike at the first provocation. Russian military has entered populated cities attempting to turn the citizens against the Ukrainian government. Hell, there is a situation that harkens back to Nazi Germany, as anti-Semitism rears its ugly head yet again, asking Jewish citizens to register because they supported the Ukrainian government.

While this happens half a world away, it is understood within the global community that the United States has the military strength to oppose a Russian takeover. Putin knows this, and he’s thumbing his nose at us specifically. His media broadcasts news reports assuring Russians that they could wipe out our country. Many of the Russian insurgents display anti-American propaganda. Edward Snowden was included in a public Q and A designed specifically to make our country look bad.

Now, an American has been captured by Russian military. Forgive me if I believe this should garner more attention than silly Nevada cattle-ranchers or who’s going to run for President in 2016. (I love Stephen Colbert, but I see more stories covering his appearance on Letterman than Simon Ostrovsky…and that’s not right.) I can’t help but feel this would have shocked the nation as recently as the Cold War era, but today, it doesn’t seem to stir people’s ire as much as it should….

Vladmir Putin is pushing for conflict, and he is daring the United States of America to go to war on behalf of the Ukrainian government. We should treasure and protect our citizens, especially a brave professional reporter as Simon Ostrovsky. American citizens should share their disgust of Russia’s insurgence with each other at the proverbial water cooler. We should discuss this more openly as a community, and we should campaign together for Ostrovsky’s release. We should unilaterally denounce Vladmir Putin’s tactics and authority, and stand united, as one people, against this Russian insurgence. The power of One Voice might be a better weapon than a ground war, and the mere threat of American involvement might deter Putin. Furthermore, if we continue to be pushed by Russian machination, we should prepare ourselves for the possibility of entering a ground war with Russia. I am as war-weary as the next citizen, but Putin might not allow for another choice. If he starts hurting one American, then he may decide that one is not enough.

This is a most difficult issue. I do not want to beat any war-drums. I don’t want to see any more bloodshed. I don’t want Ukrainians or Russians to kill each other. I don’t want to see Ostrovsky hurt. I certainly do not want any more American soldiers killed. It is hard to stand up to a bully, whether on a metaphorical playground or the realistic world stage. But, I do know that if we ignore this conflict, Putin will keep pushing. A bully loves to be ignored, because he knows that he can instigate further. Eventually, a bully has to be confronted, and Putin is spoiling for this confrontation with our country. We cannot ignore this situation anymore.

Teaching Is Still a Profession, Right?

With all the attention that Common Core standards are receiving in the news, and all the angst over Indiana’s new “made by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers” academic standards, I have been mulling over the profession of teaching. I often conclude that the concerted political effort robs the role of teacher of its professional credentials…and it seems like that’s been the plan all along.

Simply, there are three criteria that qualify a job to be a profession. A professional must engage in a lengthy, extended education and must qualify within the accredited academic discipline; the discipline must have a complex intellectual component; and the job must provide a socially-necessary, public good or service. Basically, a profession requires an extended college career with a degree, knowledge and experience that few possess, and the product must contribute to the greater good of the society. A profession, based on these criteria, often requires a professional to ascribe to ethical standards, to answer the responsibilities her profession necessitates for her client, and to provide agency for the professional to achieve those responsibilities, based on her professional training, experience, and comprehension.

No-brainer professions include lawyers, medical practitioners, and engineers…and teachers have traditionally been unequivocally included as a profession. However, the government oversight utilized since No Child Left Behind became the law of the land has systematically worked to remove the professional role from the teacher and place it in the hands of administrators and politicians. Teachers are also contributing to the vacating of professional ethics by conceding that their role is a job instead of a profession, by allowing the loss of autonomy and following the edicts of political representatives that do not know better.

Colloquially, teachers are doing what they are told instead of standing up to authority. They are not assuming their professional responsibilities, and the profession suffers as a result…and hell, who can blame them? In today’s workforce, we are conditioned to hold onto our jobs with a death-grip for fear of losing our living wages. If you make waves, chances are you’ll piss off someone in a position of authority, and the pink slip will be in the mail. Thirty minutes to clean out your desk because you mouthed off to the wrong supervisor. It becomes more difficult to teach as more and more administrative bosses are hired to oversee the diminishing workforce of teachers…and every administrator is given more and more authority to tell the professionals what their role and duties are.

I’m so very aware of how this works. I’m a presently-unemployed victim of this dynamic. I’ve had plenty of peers counsel me of how I needed to consider keeping my job over what I defined to be my professional duty. I find myself on the outside looking in…but it is an interesting position to maintain, as I am allowed to observe this alteration of the profession of teaching.

If you don’t believe this is happening, I give you the newly-formed organization Bad Ass Teachers. Apparently, teachers are willing to fight, and when fighting government, a collective is necessary. The Bad Ass Teachers are fiercely opposed to the Common Core standards and feel that teachers are unfairly blamed for the media-propagated “failure” of the education system, considering that poverty is the primary factor for bad grades within this system. Their credo: “This association is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning….”

I am a fan of their mission, but I might reword their credo a bit, to meet the requirements of a profession: “This association is for every teacher who accepts the responsibility for teaching an impoverished and unequal society, resists those who want to reduce the professional criteria for the teacher, and accepts the professional role of designing and providing a quality education for each and every student, who is a client, and not a customer….”

Another interesting parallel can be found in the medical profession. A product of the Affordable Care Act involves a universal system of standards and medical conformity imposed by government oversight…I have spoken to at least one doctor who thinks his professional role has been infringed upon by government policy and administrative ignorance…I’m fairly certain he is not an anomaly.

The developed social norm ascribed for the teacher is that her position is just a “job”…and perhaps here’s the biggest problem in our education system. The standards imposed by government rob the teacher of her professional role. Teachers’ salaries are reduced. Good teachers are leaving the profession to find success in other social roles. Teachers’ autonomy is reduced. New teachers are trained to be facilitators instead of implementers. Universal curricula are prescribed. Teachers’ social function is belittled. We are trained as a society to blame teachers for manufactured failures, and we perpetuate the continued lack of professionalism that is detracting from the position of teacher.

Teaching is not simply a job; it is a profession. We need to turn the tide against this change instituted by government policy and administrative oversight. We need to incentivize the position of teacher to draw young professionals into a much-needed social role. We need to allow teachers to maintain autonomy in their classrooms, based on their training and experience. We need to stop this paternalistic practice of “improving” education through government edict…

…unless, of course, I’m wrong…and teaching no longer qualifies as a profession. I guess there’s plenty of unemployed, unskilled, untrained, and inexperienced people in America that are willing to do what they’re told…and take a job as a teacher. That should fix everything.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

The Boston Marathon

I’ve already shed some tears, remembering the Boston Marathon from last year. I suspect I will shed plenty more as I watch this year’s Patriot’s Day celebration from afar on my television. Just as I was transfixed by the horrible act of terror, I will not avert my eyes for this year’s courageous display of sport and camaraderie.

The city of Boston needs this day. America needs this day. We celebrate in the face of adversity. Our country must represent itself, and we will perform our duty well. We must persevere. We will not ignore tragedy, but instead we will honor the wounded and weary, just as we do for our American ancestors who fought and died at the battles of Lexington and Concord. We will rejoice, while attempting to assuage overwhelming anxiety. We will do this together, as Americans, holding each other for support and showing our emotions gladly to our neighbors. It will be both a day for joy and sadness. The city of Boston represents America today. We are ready, and we are strong. America is Boston Strong on this day.

As we celebrate Patriot’s Day, let us remember, rejoice, and honor the sage, stunning words of one of our most precious lost, the beautiful, stunning luminary, Martin Richard.

No more hurting people.

Marathon

The Miami Heat Will Not Three-Peat

My posts have been a bit heavy and gloom-inducing of late, so I plan to have a little fun this Saturday morning. I’m going to lay down my picks for the NBA playoffs. This will give readers who believe I’m a bit pretentious an opportunity to laugh at me. Nate Silver uses formula and calculation to pick winners; I listen to my gut, so you can imagine how that’s worked out for me. I cannot pick a winner in a one-horse race (Wichita State was supposed to win out!…damn those Kentucky Wildcats…who in their right mind gives them an eight-seed!…sigh).

As indicated in the title, I don’t see the Miami Heat pulling off three championships in a row. They are not as good as the Jordan-era Bulls, who three-peated twice. You’ll recall the Heat barely managed two-in-a-row against the Spurs, with a miracle Ray Allen shot last season. The Heat were a bit lackadaisical with their play last season, and they seem even more comfortable with their status on the throne this season. They are ripe for disappointment, even with the underwhelming records of the other Eastern Conference candidates.

So, with no further ado, here’s how I see it playing out:

Eastern Conference First Round

The Indiana Pacers will beat the Atlanta Hawks in five games. While everyone wrings their hands about how the Pacers finished the season, the Pacers have reached the pinnacle of their potential now. It’s debatable of whether they peaked in the middle of the season, though. As for the Hawks, they backed into the playoffs; even their GM Danny Ferry said they weren’t really planning on being in the playoffs. The Pacers have enough stamina to put the Hawks out of their misery.

Miami will not lose in the first round. Good for Jordan that the Charlotte Bobcats have finally found their way out of obscurity, but they’ll be lucky to win two games against the Heat.

There has been no love for the Toronto Raptors this season. They’ve fielded a formidable squad, but most are picking this matchup as an upset for the Nets. The Brooklyn Nets turned their season around with authority at the end. They went from losers to legitimate threats. They managed four wins against the Heat during the season. Jason Kidd went from clown to coach-of-the-year candidate. It will be an excellent series, as the Raptors will wear the veterans on the Nets out with their speed and pressure. The series will go the distance, with Toronto claiming victory in the seventh game.

My Chicago Bulls have been disrespected all season. Without Derrick Rose, it has been accepted early that the Bulls have no chance of winning a championship. If you watched how the Bulls played together, without Derrick Rose, then you’ve seen an excellent defensive team that nobody wants to play. The Bulls make you work for a win, every game. The Washington Wizards are a tough matchup, and they have won two of the three regular season games. However, the Bulls will win this series in six games.

Western Conference First Round

Much more interesting matchups are found in the West, but I don’t see any upsets happening there either. The San Antonio Spurs seem poised to make another run to the top. They have practically the same roster and another head of steam going into the playoffs. The Dallas Mavericks can put up a good amount of resistance to the Spurs, however. I think the Mavericks will win the first game of the series and cause quite a bit of hand-wringing. Then, the Spurs will win four-in-a-row, and close out the series comfortably in five.

The Oklahoma City Thunder will dominate the Memphis Grizzlies. In fact, I believe the Thunder will sweep the Grizz.

The Los Angeles Clippers/Golden State Warriors matchup will be a slugfest. Don’t miss this series. The teams don’t like each other. Mark Jackson appears to be coaching for his job (not sure why). The Clippers have high expectations (probably because they have to make up for the Lakers’ absence). This series will go to seven games. I’m picking the Clippers, but no surprise if the Warriors come out on top when the smoke clears.

My most anticipated matchup is the Houston Rockets and the Portland Trailblazers. I’ve been watching these two teams frequently during the season, and they both have intriguing players. Both teams haven’t really played up to expectations. The Blazers started strong, and the Rockets played stronger at the finish. The Trailblazers are a degree less impressive than the Rockets, so I will pick Houston to win, in six or seven games.

Eastern Conference Second Round

Here is where the Miami Heat will lose (gleefully rubbing my hands together…I still hold resentment for LeBron’s decision, though I’d still love to see him in a Bulls uniform). The Chicago Bulls defense will stifle the presumed kings of basketball, and the Bulls will shock the world in six games (I’m such a homer).

The Toronto Raptors will disappoint network executives by trouncing the Indiana Pacers. The Raptors will beat the Pacers in five games.

Western Conference Second Round

I predict the Houston Rockets will make another big splash in free agency in the off-season. They will be favorites to win it all next season, mostly because of how well they play the San Antonio Spurs in this second round. This season, the Rockets will lose in the seventh game against the Spurs.

I have a feeling that the Oklahoma City Thunder will improve as they advance through the playoffs. The L. A. Clippers will be exhausted from their series against the Warriors, and they likely will be steam-rolled against the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Thunder win in five.

Eastern Conference Finals

The Chicago Bulls are headed to the NBA championship by beating the Toronto Raptors in six games (I anticipate my buddies calling Vegas after they read this: “Yeah, I want to put all my money on whomever the Bulls are playing…my pal, Scott, put ye ol’ Guffey curse on them, so they have no chance of winning…”).

Western Conference Finals

The best matchup of the NBA playoffs will be San Antonio versus Oklahoma City. Both teams want another shot at the title, and they’ll have to beat each other up to get there. I love both Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant. Duncan has limited time to win another championship, and I’d like to see him get another ring…but it will be Kevin Durant who gets the chance. Thunder beat the Spurs in seven in the most exciting series of the playoffs.

NBA Finals

As much as I’d love the Bulls to win a championship WITHOUT Derrick Rose—just to stick it to all the NBA analysts who overlook Tom Thibodeau’s brilliance—I can’t see an Eastern Conference team beating out the better-seasoned Western Conference teams in the Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder win the 2014 NBA championship in five games.

…and there you have it. I’ll see you all in a month or so, when all of my picks have proven to be dismally wrong…when we have another boring Heat-Spurs matchup in the Finals, and the Heat likely win another nausea-inducing championship.

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Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
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Corporate Religion: Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court, and Big Government

There’s been a lot of noise about big government lately, mostly coming from conservative factions. I admit concern for a government that is overstepping its authority and destroying individual American liberties. While the presumption is that President Barack Obama is the face of big government, my concern is focused at the conservative-leading majority represented on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States. The partisan decisions handed down of late benefit the corporate entity at the expense of the individual citizen (McKenzie). We live in a country where the rich can wield their “free speech” to buy elections, while citizens are discouraged from participating in votes. SCOTUS has created this new American environment, and this entity might better represent how big government reduces individual civil freedoms.

Hobby Lobby & Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Kathleen Sebelius has been argued before the Supreme Court, and we can expect a decision sometime in the next two months. Since corporations are people now (if Mitt Romney is to be taken at his word), I will refer to this “person” for the remainder of this article as “Hobby Lobby.”

Legal analysts predict that Hobby Lobby will win her case (Vikrim & Brownstein). If the five wise men of the Right continue their trend, we can be assured of a decision weighted toward Hobby Lobby’s civil rights (Ohlheiser).

The integral question that will be answered involves corporations possessing religious beliefs (Marcus). Hobby Lobby wants to deny her employees specific contraceptives, even though the Affordable Care Act includes their necessary coverage within insurance policies. Hobby Lobby seems to be a fundamental Christian, and she is attempting to enforce the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on her own behalf (Marcus). Since Hobby Lobby (a designated “S” corporation) is not quite wealthy enough to trade her stock-shares on the biggest stage, she seems to qualify for religious liberties over her wealthier peers (Vikrim & Brownstein). I presume this is because larger publicly-traded corporate people like ExxonMobil and BP have proven they have no souls and cannot possibly qualify as religious.

The argument made by Hobby Lobby’s lawyers is a bit mind-numbing. Their rationale for targeting specific contraceptives is that they act as “abortifacients”, which is to say that certain pills induce abortions when consumed by women who are attempting to not become pregnant (McDonough). Nevermind that there is no medical or scientific evidence proving that these contraceptives kill an unborn fetus…the pills act before fertilization can occur…Hobby Lobby only has to believe these contraceptives are abortifacients because religion allows belief to conquer reason (McDonough).

Hobby Lobby, a good Christian, is merely concerned about premarital sex performed by her employees, and she cannot fathom the possibility that unborn fetuses might not reach full-term because the sex act should be for the purposes of procreation, within the safe constraints of marriage. Every good Christian knows that abortions are the most vile, evil, un-Godly act that Americans sinfully and repeatedly perform. Hobby Lobby cannot stand the fact that she would be responsible for contributing to the sinful union of two people enjoying sex without bringing the potential product of their sin to full-term. Thus, Hobby Lobby will use the most effective weapon in the Christian arsenal: she cannot allow abortions to occur on her watch.

Welcome to America, where we make things much more complicated than they have to be! We shouldn’t consider that contraceptives actually prevent abortions from taking place. Hobby Lobby has religious beliefs! She can believe that contraceptives are evil AND abortions are evil.

To be fair, not every Christian believes this way, but it’s hard to argue that the majority of Christians will not concede the obvious, that contraceptives actually reduce the number of abortions in the country (McLaren).

After reviewing what is available on this legal argument, I cannot help but wonder why the largest, soulless corporate persons are not becoming more involved with their army of lawyers and lobbyists. Pfizer and Eli Lilly, two overwhelmingly rich “men,” could be affected by the precedent established by this case.

The traditional religious argument against contraceptives is that the sex act, only within the constraints of marriage, should allow couples to “be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28, NIV). In other words, many goodly-Christian married couples don’t use condoms because their faith prevents them; a sexual union is for the purpose of creating a baby, according to God’s edict. Some Catholic teachings have even pointed to “Thou shalt not kill” as rationale against contraceptives.

Viagra and Cialis are big money-makers for Pfizer and Eli Lilly, respectively. These drugs are incessantly marketed to older couples, who are beyond the desire or capability of producing offspring, for the purpose of enjoying sex ONLY for the purpose of enjoying sex. Some Christian doctors have considered the social and religious effect of these drugs when prescribing to those of faith and without (Whelan).

If Hobby Lobby wins her case, then it only takes one other corporate person to point to the SCOTUS decision and decide she is not going to pay for something that is against her religious belief. It’s called legal precedent. I think if Pfizer or Eli Lilly realized that this decision might cut into their corporate profit, by way of removing employee-sponsored, insurance-provided subsidies, then the pair of corporate brethren might be a bit more proactive. Maybe they have considered this eventuality…perhaps they realize that men, even corporate men, don’t have to worry as much as women about such matters. Religious zealots usually only focus on the woman’s sin of sex (unless it’s a homosexual act…then the zealots shift into a higher gear). I understand that withholding Viagra and Cialis is not likely going to instigate outrage–these drugs are obviously not as important a social good as contraceptives can be–and a religious case against employees receiving Viagra and Cialis as a part of their benefits package will likely never happen. It is worth asking, however, why there isn’t a murmur about an obvious parallel.

Pandora’s Box might soon be opened by the Supreme Court. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has not frequently been abused by average citizens, but I guarantee that corporate persons, concerned with profit and lacking empathy, will wield the Supreme Court decision like a weapon, rending benefits, salary, and opportunity for their employees, based on our new corporate religion. The new religion, created by the Supreme Court of the United States: Corporations become the new American Gods, and citizens need to bow at their altar.

Works Cited

Amar, Vikrim David & Alan E. Brownstein. “The Narrow (and Proper) Way for the Court to Rule in Hobby Lobby’s Favor.” Verdict: Legal Analysis and Commentary from Justia. Justia, 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

Marcus, Ruth. “Slippery Slopes Before the Court.” Washington Post The Washington Post, 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

McDonough, Katie. “Four Really Important Things You Should Know about the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS Case.” Salon. The Salon Media Group, Inc., 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

McKenzie, Paul. “Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Case Full of Hypocrisy.” The BG News. BG News, 8 Apr. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

McLaren, Brian. “Contraception, Hobby Lobby, and Abortion.” Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith. Patheos, 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

Ohlheiser, Abby. “A Divided Supreme Court Hears Hobby Lobby’s Challenge to the Contraceptive Mandate.” The Wire. The Atlantic Monthly Group, 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

Whelan, Roxanne. “Ten Years of Viagra.” CMF.ORG.UK. Christian Medical Fellowship, 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

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Analyzing Indiana’s New Academic Standards

I’ve finished reviewing much of the recently-released final draft of Indiana’s academic standards. After allowing my analysis to gestate, my reaction remains “meh.” The standards do not revolutionize the previous Common Core standards by any means. Indiana is making a big political splash, but little more than a ripple in the water for educational standards. In fact, these new standards might work antithetically for retention and graduation rates. The Department of Education may have succeeded at their goal of making more stringent standards; however, the standards might be too high for students, especially concerning mathematics. In mathematics specifically, they may have made them so compacted with unnecessary mathematical applications that the teachers might not be able to successfully perform their professional duty.

I have not been the biggest proponent of the Common Core standards in the past. I appreciate that the standards are not curricula, and the guidelines are set up to allow teachers to create a curriculum for the purpose of meeting objectives that will benefit students for their preparation for college. But with practical application, the Common Core standards have been utilized to create uniform curricula at the local level, often preventing teachers to apply agency in their classes in the face of administrative edict. Often, catering to state or national testing becomes incorporated within these universal standards, and teachers are forced to use curricula increasingly based on political and financial obligation. Teachers lose autonomy because of the standards, even when the standards are designed with autonomy in mind for the teacher. I don’t see Indiana’s new standards departing entirely from the problems that the Common Core has already created within our classrooms.

Now I’m not the biggest opponent of universal standards either. As mentioned, I appreciate that the standards are designed with both the teacher and student in mind. A teacher has plain, broad guidelines within which to work, and a lack of designated standards could foster bad teachers in our classrooms. These standards are a beneficial map for the young teacher who is attempting to learn her craft, and best practices can be established within a teaching community based on these standards. For students, schoolwork has become more difficult because requirements for college entry are becoming more stringent. These standards are largely created, successfully, with what is needed for students prior to their entry into higher learning. The high-school standards will provide a workable guideline for students who are interested in entering college-level learning.

As an English teacher, I see very little change in the Indiana standards from the Common Core. I continue to hope that certain elements will evolve for the better, but our training within English remains stoically traditional. The elements for writing remain functional, stressing the writing process, genre writing, and research systematically throughout the academic career. Grammatical application remains stagnant, emphasizing mechanical function—spelling, punctuation, capitalization—instead of applying pragmatic linguistic practices toward sentence and paragraph construction. One of the frustrations young writers increasingly encounter in their English classes is an overemphasis on mechanics, while the content, style, and form of writing are underutilized in writing instruction. Too much emphasis on testing for grammatical usage often stymies young writers instead of assisting them.

Diction is also overemphasized a bit, as vocabulary training remains a separate entity within the English standards. Traditional English training often involves vocabulary quizzes and tests, and the standards continue to cater to the misconception that quizzes and tests will broaden the students’ lexicon. Vocabulary should honestly be incorporated within the reading component of the standards. Students broaden their vocabulary more readily when they read new words and terms within context. A teacher can assist students better with shared text than with blunt quizzes.

For the reading component, I appreciate the abstention for designating texts, allowing teachers to select appropriate texts for the classes. However, the problem with text selection will most likely remain: administrative interference, whether because of budgetary concerns or political censorship. I continue to advocate for the teacher with the selection of texts. The professional capacity of the teacher is to design the lecture, assignments, and study for the students; the teacher should not have to design curriculum from pre-selected texts. The selection of the text should be made by the professional who is attempting to construct a pedagogy based on their training and experience. Another valuable designation that should help reading: emphasis of media literacy. The inclusion of media literacy within the standards can be a most valuable component for expanded textual exposure.

A difficulty with the research and writing process remains, and that is the competing systems of documentation that are used by different collegiate disciplines. For English, the Modern Language Association or the American Psychological Association can be used. (For science, we also have the Council of Science Editors; for history, we include the Chicago Style system of documentation.) The long-standing difficulty for instructing academic writing is the difference in the formatting for opposing systems. Even in college, students easily become confused. A small example: MLA endorses the “Oxford comma,” while APA omits it. The opposing systems are designed for specific college disciplines, and each has their benefit depending on the needs of that discipline’s genre of writing. Often, you’ll hear scholars report that one system is better than another, but this is usually because it is the system to which the scholar has become accustomed. The truth is all of the different systems perform the same function; there is only different formatting involved. I have long been a proponent of teaching all of the most utilized systems side-by-side, at the same time, in the same class, to show students how systems of documentation work universally across the college spectrum. I have even suggested that an English class dedicated only to the research process might be a good idea for high school classes and college courses.

I’m going to step out of my English teacher shoes and attempt a more wholesale examination. I find that when standards are designated like this, more division is created between disciplines of learning. With the Indiana standards, science, mathematics, and history receive their own designation, yet all should be incorporated within language learning equally. Integration of disciplines is necessary for student success, and the standards seem to create more division than cooperation. I appreciate that science, mathematics, and history incorporate more reading and writing into the standards, but I neglect to find integration for other disciplines within English training.

Advocating integration instead of division, I notice what is most lacking within the Indiana (and Common Core) standards: philosophy. It is easy enough to train philosophy within English courses when selecting literature or nonfiction selections (as political science often finds its way into history), but a lack of attention to philosophy within the standards suggests that it is an unnecessary component of a student’s preparation for higher learning, or life after high school even. Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and wisdom might be deemed most necessary for today’s young learner. Philology is the love of learning, and an integral part of philosophical training for a student. We might agree, as a community, that ethical training has been sorely lacking within our adult population. I am most insistent about philosophy training. It is a necessary component of students’ learning, and it may help to improve our greater community.

Regarding mathematics, I will write from my experience as the former co-chairperson of the Achieving the Dream initiative at Ivy Tech Community College, where we focused on Advanced Skills Advancement courses. These courses focused on remedial mathematics preparation, which remain the biggest difficulty for beginning college students. Many of the students in these courses attend and fail because of increasingly difficult mathematics curriculum design (There are language deficiencies, also, but they pale in comparison to mathematics). Our failure to retain students often can be linked to failure to pass students through these difficult gateway courses.

At Ivy Tech, the evolution of these courses involves cramming more and more “necessary” mathematical theory and practicum into existing courses. Often, two courses of math are eliminated to create one course with the same amount of mathematics work in a single course. I see the same thing happening within these Indiana standards. In an effort to create strict standards, however, this catering to every mathematical principle under the sun—those that might be taught instead of should be taught—ends up being antithetical to training students appropriately of the mathematics discipline. The most difficult aspect of teaching mathematics remains the practical application of math to other disciplines or real-world application, whether it be physics, engineering, logic, science, rhetoric, or nominal vocational skills. Instead of attempting to enforce every conceivable mathematic formula within a student’s curriculum, the mathematics discipline might be better served by emphasizing practical application. An admittedly-oversimplified example: teach logical validity of rhetoric using truth tables. It involves an objective expression of mathematical formula and symbol that can be practically applied to a student’s academic and life experiences.

Mathematics is the component that worries me most about the new Indiana standards. Teaching mathematics is undoubtedly the most difficult discipline to instruct. I worry that these more difficult standards will create a more overwhelming task for our math teachers to perform with their students. No doubt, I worry more that students will be unable to accomplish the more rigid standards. I worry most that more rigid math standards will create more situations where students are lost, without having proper proof of the necessity of increased mathematical rigor within our educational system.

Essentially, the mathematics portion of the new Indiana educational standards is most in need of revision, mostly subtraction, and while I would like to see more improvement within English, the proposed standards seem sufficiently valuable for our state’s educational needs.

As for Indiana’s role in the national spotlight, it seems undeserved to me. As the first state to adopt Common Core standards, it’s obvious that Indiana’s politicians observed how best to construct their own standards: throw a bunch of educators into a room, lock the door, and let simmer, until they come up with a viable plan. Nothing revolutionary here in the Hoosier state.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

Why I Watch Fox News

I was asked by a few college friends how I am able to watch Fox News so religiously. I responded, “It takes gumption,” but I’m afraid the true answer takes more explanation.

Both friends referred to Fox News as “Faux” News, which is clever, but herein we also find part of my rationale: most every scholar or professor with whom I communicate will not watch Fox News…at all…period…thank you very much, and have a swell day!

I do not blame my academic friends. It becomes a masochistic exercise at times. I often find myself launching from the couch to shout angrily—blood pressure up, veins popping out of my neck, spittle flying out of my mouth—at a projection of a person on a television screen that cannot hear me.

My experience has taught me that the ratio of Fox News viewers versus academics whom censor Fox News is around 3 to 1…about the same as the Nielson ratings prove night after night. Frankly, we are out-numbered. Many American citizens buy the self-proclaimed edict of “Fair and Balanced” found in the Fox News letterhead, and it’s not just senior citizens watching, as many liberals presume. So many students in my classes attack me with Fox News-supplied arguments, so many family members will watch Fox News and nothing else, so many friends with whom I have conversed will attack all other media networks as overwhelmingly liberal, so many acquaintances will leap readily into my conversations to defend their muse…so many people get rather agitated if I even suggest that Fox News might be wrong about anything.

As someone trained in rhetorical fallacy, it is apparent that Fox News revels in the use of post-hoc-ergo-proptor-hoc, ad hominem, hasty generalization, circular reasoning, begging the question, and red herring rhetorical devices. I recognize that Fox News leans more to propaganda than journalistic integrity, but I don’t think most people understand that many of the Fox News arguments do not hold water. Using mathematical, logical inductive/deductive analysis, we can safely designate many of their arguments as invalid. Using common sense, we can plainly see more juvenile, school-yard appropriate argument in the form of non-constructive name-calling, intrusive belligerence, wild accusations, malicious insults, and broad ridicule. What seems to happen in reality: the sheer number of Fox News viewers ingests the bullshit, they walk among the rest of us, and the masses repeat what they hear as fact to the minority, drowning out resistance because enough Fox News viewers told them what to say (creating ad populum fallacy!).

Fox News sells itself as the only 24/7 news network that stands up for the little guy and portrays the true conservative perspective. As someone who still leans conservative with his financial (not social) ideologies, I would sincerely enjoy a news network that utilizes good conservative principles appropriately. I’d like a much better conservative news network than Fox News has ever pretended to be. I’d suggest monopolies need to be broken up, and an alternative conservative 24-hour-seven-days-a-week news network might be warranted. Most Fox News viewers find this idea offensive…because Fox News programs have trained them to respond this way: “Of course we need Fox News! If Fox News wasn’t there, then the liberal media would win…and our country would descend into apocalyptic, socialist nightmare! Thank God for Fox News.”

Ignoring Fox News seems too dangerous. I watch Fox News to try to understand how their message can become so pervasive in my community. I find too many people who are receptive to the arguments of Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Mike Huckabee, Eric Bolling, and the like. It seems as if Roger Ailes has managed to brainwash half of America. As an academic, I’ll be damned if I just ignore this network’s intrusive propaganda. I will not accept Fox News as a necessary evil. I will not just cover my eyes and ears, singing, “La. La. La. La. La. La. I’m not listening! La. La. La. La. La.”

I do learn quite a bit about America while making Fox News a part of my daily news consumption. Rachel Maddow asked a pertinent question on her program just last night that might be answered by watching Fox News programs. Maddow (for whom most Fox News viewers unload the most venom) led her show with the horrifying hate crime that occurred this past weekend in Kansas. The killer is a radical white supremacist who shares history with other conspiracy enthusiasts whom regularly consume a massive amount of available right-wing propaganda. She connected this killer with the Tsarnaev brothers, who performed the horrific Boston Marathon bombing a year ago. These brothers, likely Islamic jihadists, possessed quite a bit of right-wing, conspiracy propaganda, found in their living space. Maddow exposed a fact of which I was unaware: She cited a New America Foundation comparison; there are more right-wing radical terrorist-caused deaths in America than Islamic fundamentalist-caused deaths, by a 34-to-21 ratio. She asked, “Why are we so willing to not be afraid of the threat of right-wing extremism in this country?…Why are right-wing American terrorist attacks treated as the acts of one-off whackos that are a surprise every time and indicative of nothing larger than the individual threat posed by an individual kook, when other forms of terrorism engender not just a bigger reaction from us as a nation, but a more radical and systemic response as well?” I can answer her questions (and I assume she could also): Right-wing propaganda has become too thoroughly embedded within our American culture, and a large percentage of Americans approve right-wing extremism within their journalism. We can find evidence by switching over to Fox News, where Sean Hannity continues to advance right-wing agenda.

Sean Hannity has focused much of his attention the past few days to a Nevada rancher named Cliven Bundy, who has organized a contingent of armed radicals who oppose the federal government, and Hannity seems to endorse the suggestive threats by the rancher, the show of force against Obama’s government, and the possibility of violence where real people are injured or killed, whether it be federal officers or the gatherers who stand with the rancher. Across this sordid story’s exposure (and not just on Hannity), there have been calls for local sheriffs to engage and disarm federal agents forcibly, governmental conspiracies of a diabolical solar plant construction plan on the federal land, predictions of surprise midnight raids, and a suggestion by one of the protestors, a former sheriff, for placing females at the frontline to expose the fraudulent government as the vile killers they are. Last night, Sean Hannity, always ready to poke a bear with a stick, repeatedly suggested to Bundy and family members that government agents might want to harm or kill these people in their sleep…and what were they going to do?! Hannity coyly feigns sympathy and safety while coming right up to the line of promoting violence and resistance; a better right-wing extremist mouthpiece cannot be found outside of Sean Hannity’s Fox News studio.

I watch Fox News because I think it’s important to regularly expose this counterfeit news network. It’s important because our country is being persuaded fraudulently. It’s important because we need to promote peace instead of violence in America. It’s important because America deserves better, informed objective journalism. It’s important because Fox News tends to focus our attention on things that are irrelevant for improved discourse (for example, we might want to collectively pay attention to Russia and Eastern Ukraine; it might be more important than cattle-ranchers in Nevada).

Finally, it’s important to be aware of how many citizens point to Fox News as their primary educational news vehicle. If your neighbor is watching Fox News and you are not, then it stands to reason that the schism of opinion in this country will only widen further.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}