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What We Want To Believe

Sometimes a lie is so believable that it makes a fool out of a lot of people.  You’ve probably joined me in repeating a lie (or forwarding an email lie) because it seemed credible to you, only to have a friend direct you to Snopes.com.

I’ve found that the best lies get retold because not only do they “seem” true, they make sense to us based upon our perception of life experiences.  For instance:

I keep getting forwarded emails that encourage me to refuse the new “golden dollar coins”… because they do not say “In God We Trust” on them.

The emails claim that “liberals”, “Muslims”, “secular humanists”, and or “the Jews” (depending on the version) have been trying to eliminate God from our lives for years, and now that Barak Osama has been elected president, they’ve finally begun the next phase of their devious plan.

The removal of “God” from our money.

Individuals frustrated by the fading homogeny of our culture are quick to use the absence of “In God We Trust” from the face of the golden dollar coin to point out that “They’ve been right” all of these years, and now “the unthinkable has happened!”.

The only problem is that careful inspection of the coin reveals that our government has gone to the added expense of inscribing “In God We Trust” onto the outer edge of each and every golden dollar coin in circulation.

The email, trumpeting the righteous indignation of the true believer, also remains in circulation.  It’s an embarrassing reminder of how easy it is to manipulate people into believing something that they already want to believe.

Like the lie that Taco Bell meat isn’t really meat.

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Lily Says The F-Word

Picture copyright ABC studios

As a “non-parent” I don’t have a well-developed, or fine tuned, sense of what is age appropriate behavior for kids.  I probably would have taken a 7 year-old to see the Lord of the Rings, thinking it would be fun…

and been responsible for the ensuing host of nightmares.

On top of this, I have a hard time determining a child’s relative age. I will often say things like, “That kid is an amazing violinist, I couldn’t have done that at 9”, to which my wife will kindly reply, “That kid is 14.”

What I do know is that it isn’t appropriate for any kid to be using swear words.

Which is why it’s so funny to the rest of us when your kid does it.

In front of

Parents,

Grandparents,

Sunday School teachers,

or

Police officers

and

Cashiers.

The humor in this is actually twofold:

1.) The child isn’t usually aware of the “meaning and significance” of the word they just used. They’ve simply “parroted” a word that they’ve heard from another person. Using it in an incorrect social setting, or conjugation, causes a shock to the hearer, which is usually disregarded with humor to avoid embarrassing the child or parent.

2.) The child has usually just given you up as their “unidentified source” regardless of your, “I bet they just picked that up in the neighborhood or at school” comment.

You see, it’s not just that “Kids Say The Darndest Things”, it’s that they say them at the darndest times: usually when a disapproving pastor or persnickety mother-in-law is present.

Tonight on ABC’s Modern Family, 2 year-old Lily drops an “F-bomb”. Needless to say, this has already been a cause for concern for some conservative interest groups and social watchdogs.

While the child actor doesn’t actually use the real F-word, and her mouth is pixellated while the word is “bleeped”, many people have concerns about the depiction and implication.

Since Modern Family deals with many of the problems that parents face while raising their kids, it’s not necessarily a departure for the program. In fact, the show has dealt with larger and less common issues than this.

I think the problem is that this is happening on Modern Family; a show where two gay men are raising an adopted daughter together.

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Bad Taste, An American Right

One of the many great things about America is that you have the right to tell me that you think that I am an idiot. Not only do you have the right to tell me that I am an idiot, but you can also tell wealthy, powerful men that you believe them to be idiots as well.

This hasn’t always been the case throughout human history.

In fact, telling a wealthy or powerful person that you think that they are an idiot has historically been a great way to find yourself excommunicated, hanged, impaled, or burned.

Because of this, the right to speak your mind is a relatively new freedom, and one of the chief reasons that America was invented.

The First Amendment to our Constitution guarantees every American citizen the ability to freely express themselves, with very few exceptions. While obscenity, slander, and even “fightin’ words” aren’t allowed, you might be surprised to find that many forms of expression, commonly believed to be culturally offensive, are actually protected by our Bill of Rights.

Sexism,
Racism,
Hate Speech,
Bigotry,
Even a Jersey Shore Accent.

This week our First Amendment faces a new challenge, in the form of Colorado high school senior Sydney Spies.

If you haven’t heard, Sydney Spies is currently protesting a recent decision made by the editors of the yearbook staff to not include her senior photo in their yearly publication.

They think her Senior picture is tasteless.

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