Thursday, July 13, 2017

Why I Love Objectivism

Why do I love Objectivism? Because Objectivism shows how all rights are essentially reducible to individual rights. Ayn Rand called Objectivism "A Philosophy for living on Earth." Her philosophy holds that man's greatest resource is his own reasoning mind, and that the means to secure individual rights is achievable for each individual through the application of reason. The greatest right of the individual is to be free in his life, his property, and the pursuit of his own happiness. With Objectivism, Ayn Rand properly recognized that happiness in life is derived by individuals pursuing those things which they perceive to be of equal or greater value than their lives. She called this productive achievement.

And there can be no sacrifice in productive achievement, because sacrifice by definition is to give something of greater value, one's life, to something of lesser value. To claim something to be a sacrifice, is to demean both the subject and the object of the endeavor. The things that an individual does which are worth the price paid in life, are properly called virtues.

For example, if a mother defends her child it is because the child is a value as great/greater than her life, not because the child is worthless in comparison to herself. Ayn Rand called this the virtue of selfishness. And when you think of it, when it comes to others, what better compliment could you possibly give any endeavor, person or love - than to say that you value them as much or more than your own life? It is because you value yourself, that you learn to see the value in others.

Similarly, using an analogy from algebra, when you exchange the placeholder of currency (C) for the labor (L) of a mechanic to fix your car, you are exchanging your productive achievement (C), for the productive achievement of the mechanic (L) in order to achieve a mutually beneficial result (R); the mechanic acquires his valued placeholder of currency and you get your car fixed. (Money is a tool of exchange, which represents the intangible commodity of work.) This concept of mutually beneficial exchange is called The Trader Principle.

By this logic, benevolence is implied. For an individual to use force to obtain his desires, (with fraud being a form of force,) he must first stipulate that he is incapable or unwilling to achieve with his own life a value that is worthy of trading for the value he seeks. If such an individual holds that the value in the lives of others is not worth respecting through trade of equivalent value, then he is accepting that the value of no individual is worthy of just compensation, including his own. So to initiate force against one's fellow man is to justify the initiation of force against one's self. On its face, properly understood, the initiation of force is irrational.

The basic premise of Objectivism is that the life of the individual is the highest virtue, and that the mind of the individual is his greatest resource for achieving value in his life. It holds that the virtues held in value by the individual are the purview of the individual alone to determine and defend for himself. Furthermore, it is in valuing one's self that the individual derives a standard of value by which to value all others.

The brilliance of Ayn Rand is displayed in how she demonstrated for these, and so many more, seemingly complex subjects, that they are each reducible to individual rights. I have lived my entire life among remarkable intellects, many of whom I perceive to possess in the aspect of their minds, greater efficiency and/or greater capacity than my own, but even I can hold the simple concept of individual rights in my mind, and with enough rigor I can prove to myself its veracity. No one but you can deny to yourself the right to think. And no one has to know if you defy their exhortations to the contrary by doing so. The same rigor is possible to anyone possessing the will and the discipline to exercise it. Nobody can do your thinking for you, but Ayn Rand drew the maps.

My dream for myself and my dream for the world are corollaries. And therein lies the answer to the question. Love is a value. Love of self requires a system for determining that value. As a five-year-old child I was warned off dogmatism by my mother, (a remarkable story in itself.) Because of that I spent the next  17 years exploring  a myriad of religions and philosophies, searching for something that made as much sense to me as my parent's philosophy meant to them.  Eventually, once I believed that I had reasonably exhausted all other possibilities, I sought to comprehend that which my parents valued. It turned out that they were right all along. However, this is not about their achievement. It is in the soundness of my own judgment, and mine alone, that I have discovered that Objectivism is the most ideal system I have found for the service of the achievement of my values. I have no regrets. I earned it.

I love Objectivism because I want to live in a world where all individuals value self enough to value each other, where each man strives towards his own productive achievement without the intent to in any way infringe upon the productive achievement of anyone else, where men feel free to be open and honest with one another without some inherent fear of reprisal, where life is valued more than death, where the first question on everyone's lips is not "For what are you willing to die" but rather "For what is it that you live?"

In such a world the answer is clear, because the standard of value is clear. I live for me. You live for you. And that's okay. In fact, as the premise for the possibility of our healthy relationship, it is desirable.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not Under God

Today I came across a meme on Facebook, published by ForAmerica, which stated "One Nation Under God", accompanied by the instructions to "Like" the post if you agreed. At the time of this writing the post already had over 200,000 "Likes", over 6,800 "Comments" and over 37,800 "Shares". I am sure many of their hearts were in the right place, but liking memes like this foster an uncritical acceptance of ideas without promoting a thorough understanding. I love the idea of America but, like a human body which sometimes becomes infected by viruses which are detrimental to it, some of the ideas which have managed to flourish in this country are poisonous to its survival. "One Nation Under God" could be equated perhaps to the common cold, a nagging idea which undermines our immunity to larger, uglier and more dangerous ideas.

According to federal census data published in 2008, 30% of Americans are classified as not believing in God. Many of those were humanists or undeclared, but some had the guts to call themselves Atheists. The language of "god" in our society of man, effectively excludes some men from our society.

If there is truly a separation of church and state, and we are truly all equal under the law, then we should change the language of the land to reflect that fact. If you look at the history you will see that adding "Under God" to the pledge is a hold over from the paranoid era of McCarthyism, when that language was added to the oath in a fleeting attempt to weed out communists. (As if an oath had the power to do this.) The pledge itself dates back only to the late 19th century, as a magazine ad to help sell flags to children.

A free people do not need an oath of allegiance. It is incumbent upon the laws and lawmakers to earn that allegiance. A free people maintain their allegiance because their allegiance ensures their freedom. It is no coincidence that as our freedoms continue to erode under the law, that the call to repeat oaths of allegiance through song and speech is increasingly relied upon to maintain our union.

This country was founded on the theory of limited government, instilled to with the power ONLY to defend its people from force and fraud, and to adjudicate legal disputes. Once the government of this country got into the business of taking money and resources from some people in order to redistribute that money and resources to other people, the land of our founders was dead...or at least in a coma.

Get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers. Get the government out of paying for special interests, or being paid by them to skew the laws. Restore government of the people, for the people, by the people - Rather than this current government of the government, for the government and its friends, by the highest bidder. Wake up! The people of the United States of America are like employee owners. We should need no oath. This is our land. That should be enough. I don't need an oath to love my country, and neither should you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Remembering 9-10 2001

 Remembering 9-10 2001

On Monday, September 10, 2001 I reported to Grand Jury selection on Centre Street in NYC. They were convening multiple Grand Juries, mostly for morning sessions and two for afternoons. They mentioned to us that there would be some days when we would get out early. Most of the people there wanted to get on the morning sessions, so that they could go to work in the afternoons. Along with a handful of others, I volunteered for the afternoon session.

After selection was over I decided to walk home. I lived in Chelsea at the time, so this meant walking across town and up Hudson Street, which would eventually take me up Eighth Avenue. But first I went down to J&R Music to have a look around. This put me directly across town from the World Trade Center, so I decided to walk past it on my way home. On the way home I paused beneath the great buildings and recalled the times I had been inside.

The first visit I think happened during grade school. I have vague memories of a chaperoned trip to Windows on the World. When I approached college graduation my mother took me back there. The clouds were low in the sky that day, obscuring our view of the city below. Around the same time I went to a Borders Bookstore in the basement of the twin towers to interview for a job, only to eventually get turned down. I was very disappointed.

During sophomore year of college I stayed in a dorm room with a perfect picture window view of the twin towers. I spent countless hours staring out at the buildings, remembering watching westerns on WPIX-TV during weekends at my father’s house. Station identifications would show the towers, and then superimpose the number eleven over the towers, alongside with the station logo. That year in my college dorm room I felt like I was in my father’s living room, but looking at the towers live. I watch the blinking lights on the roof as if they were sheep, waiting for them to blink in unison. Then every morning when I woke up I would watch them again.

When I turned seventeen my father told me that I was a man, and that I didn’t need him around anymore. He moved out to the Midwest to look after his ailing parents. But pretty soon our contact became sporadic. For a period of two and a half years, while I was in college, I didn’t even know how to contact him. I remember thinking then how foolish it seemed. This was the age when I needed him most. I wanted his advice but had only his memory. The towers carried me through some of those lonely nights when I struggled with the responsibility of becoming my own man without my father’s guidance.

My father did eventually find his way back into my life during in the late-mid 1990’s. My mother was throwing a summer party at her house on Long island. My girlfriend and I headed out there together. When I turned the corner into the backyard my father was standing there.

By the summer of 2001, my mother was ready to sell her house and move to the city full-time. My father came out from Ohio to help her close out the place, and pick up a few of his things which he had been storing in her basement. I was single then, and happy to hang out with my mother and a father with whom I seldom spent enough time. As we drove out to dinner on one of those nights, WCBS radio disclosed CIA reports of chatter regarding an attack on New York City. We talked about it briefly, before turning our attention back to the more pressing issue of closing up the house. We also discussed my impending jury service in just a few weeks.

Eleven years ago today, standing in the shadow of the twin towers, I considered going up to the observation deck to look out on my city. But it had been a long day. I was tired, and I had a nervous feeling that I had to go home. I looked up at the north tower and told myself that I had a whole month of grand jury duty ahead of me, and there would be plenty of time to go up to the observation deck later.

Of course, I was wrong…

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day and the Cruel Irony of Obamacare

We call this very date “Independence Day” and join to celebrate it on an annual basis. For many it may come simply as a welcome day off from work. For others it signals the opportunity to commence a gathering over common interests. The gathering may vary greatly in the disparate corners of our union; from ball games with friends to family barbeques, from awed appreciation of fireworks to concerts, and any manner of preoccupation in between. There is nothing wrong with this. It is in fact a carrying out of the very rights and freedoms which our forefathers fought to ensure. However, somewhere within the recesses of our minds, every one of us should carry some acknowledgement of the momentous resonance of this day.

Today is not about a war. At it its core, neither is it is not about a victory. Our celebration of the anniversary of July 4, 1776 is about Liberty. Today is about a people who stood up to declare their sovereignty over ownership of their own land, to conduct commerce for their own good, and to make judgment for themselves as to the best counsel for their own individual minds, bodies and souls. After centuries of kings and emperors and their ilk eschewing the virtues of collectivism, The United States of America was the first nation on Earth to firmly set into law the virtues of individualism. Remember this any time somebody talks to you about the common good. With the presumed rare exception of criminals who employ force or fraud against their fellow man, the only common good can come when all men of virtue are considered free.

It is not belief which is deemed by society as immoral of unethical, but actions which are legislated by government as illegal. Government, in its effort to prevent force or fraud by any individual or group against any other individual or group, is justified in telling its citizenry what actions it will consider, as taken by that citizenry, to be illegal. However, government is never justified in imposing force or fraud against those citizens who seek to live in accord with the laws of the land. Once government begins creating regulations which employ force or fraud against its citizenry, the legitimacy of that government becomes suspect.

Any discrimination by government regarding laws, lawmaking, rights or regulations, is an affront to liberty; whether it is by gender, ethnic background, philosophy or religion, gender preference, intellectual or physical ability, body type, asset holding or productive ability, or any other conceivable manner in which government might attempt to say that one individual or group of individuals holds dominion over another individual or group of individuals. In the free market of ideas individuals have the right to believe whatever they want with regards to discrimination, so long as they do not act to bring about bodily harm or to cause any other infringement upon the rights of their fellow citizens. The government does not have this right. After all, the term “government service” did not spring forth from the head of Zeus on a wave of foam. As with most phrases it was born of purpose, to connote the intention of its specific aspect. Government exists for the sole purpose of serving the people, not the other way around. Legitimate government must be, at all times, absolute in defending the inalienable rights of its citizens.

To be clear, rights are not entitlements. An individual is entitled to work towards the virtue of his own happiness, by the production of his own effort, unencumbered by taxes and levies forced upon him against his will for the sole purpose of apportioning the fruits of his labors to those who cannot or will not engage in equivalent labors. The Declaration of Independence, (along with The Constitution of the United States of America, The Articles of Confederation, and the Bill of Rights) guarantees the right to “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to all citizens of the United States of America. One of the operative phrases, “The pursuit of happiness” is often misinterpreted as meaning that citizens have the right to be happy, while in fact when taken literally, the right actually guaranteed is to pursue happiness. There is nothing in any of those four original documents that says that citizens have the right to have happiness redistributed to them by government. It is your right by your own effort, and your own effort alone, which the founders sought to guarantee as a means towards the achievement of your own happiness. The nature of existence, and of the free market, will set obstacles against us which we, each to his own stead and by his own ability, may work to overcome. But it becomes a shot against the bow of Liberty when we work to legislate obstacles against each other, and thus against ourselves.

Anyone who knows anything about the law knows that it works largely by precedent. And the precedents we set now may become the thorns in our sides tomorrow. An old family friend, Edward Cline, recently published an article for the website which discusses the precedents set by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts’ decision regarding the Affordable Care Act (Aka. “Obamacare”.) Besides laying out the issues regarding ACA, the article also points out some the fundamental philosophical errors which gird the loins of the entrenched altruistic tendencies in government that have plagued liberty since even before our nation’s birth. The injustice of bearing witness to this scourge against the spirit of our union, so close to our celebration of the anniversary of its birth, compelled me to comment. What I wrote there spoke to the impending doom implicit in the decision of Justice Roberts regarding freedom and the sovereignty of the peoples of this nation. Having already posted my comment, prior to the above more thorough consideration of the subject, I decided to share my original comment once again on my own blog. The full text is included in the following paragraph:

Nationalism without liberty is statism. And when the state mandates force upon its citizens there is no liberty, for there are no longer any citizens. Citizens dominated by the will of the state are subjects in service of empire. Such a transgression can only be levied against a free people if the government is willing to engage is fraud, and if the people are uncritical enough in their thinking to accept it. As government always makes law with the power of the gun as the implied threat of enforcement, there is only one logical progression available in a nation which willfully chooses to defraud its citizenry and refuses to represent their voice…Let us hope that there is yet the time and the will for reason to prevail.

I’ll wrap up with four quotes, by the twentieth century philosopher Ayn Rand, which seem to sum up nicely the crux of the position expounded above.

  • “Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.”
  • ” Government "help" to business is just as disastrous as government persecution... the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.”
  • ” Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).”
  • ” It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Some Thoughts on Copyrights

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if I would mind his reposting something I had written. He had posted a link to his blog on a social networking site, at which location a dialogue had opened up. He then wanted to include a portion of our conversation as follow-up on his blog. I was happy to oblige, but the prospect did get me thinking about copyrights. My primary concern was that I be able to reproduce my own ideas in my own work, if such an eventuality should come to pass, at some time in the future. The social networking site was a semi-public forum, so I assumed my rights to my created content were minimal, but I didn’t really know for sure. The subject seemed worthy of further investigation.

What are your rights to reproduction once you have expressed a thought on the internet? Does where you write an idea have any impact on your rights to the thought you have expressed? How can you protect yourself and your right to re-use your own ideas in places other than where you first posted them, even if that first post was on someone else’s forum?

I will start by pointing out that I am not a copyright attorney, have no legal qualifications in this regard, and if you have any serious legal claim regarding a copyright infringement you should consult a certified professional attorney who has passed the bar exam in your state.

That said, it would seem to me that writing is writing, no matter where you do it. So your legal copy rights should remain the same on the internet as they would anywhere else in America. And since just about everything you post on the internet is time stamped, (I’m making allowance for the possibility that there is somewhere out there where it isn’t time stamped, even though I don’t know where that might be), the question of who wrote something first should be even easier to determine on the internet. The assumption here is that the person who can prove that they wrote something first, would logically be expected to be the first person to have written it, and therefore to holder of the legal right to that writing. The time stamp is essentially the digital equivalent of the classic concept of “The poor man’s copyright”, and practice of mailing your own work to yourself in order to establish copyright without having to pay for copyright protection. The so-called “Poor man’s copyright” is not an official form of protection, and most likely offers a cursory form of protection at best. The same could be assumed to be true of the digital time stamp. But at least something is better than nothing.

So what is the actual copyright law? The United States Copyright Office identifies that a “Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.” The website of the US Copyright Office goes into fuller detail on the law in the FAQ page, one of the key points being “Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”

By this standard, any idea that you as an individual have written on a forum, which does not state otherwise in the legal agreement which you may have accepted in order to begin posting, and which can be identified as having been written by you and which can be fixed in time, belongs to you. (A lot of the big sites require that you check-off a legal agreement before you post anything. Copyrights establishing the website’s ability to edit or use your copy may very well constitute a portion of what you are agreeing to when you sign up. If you are concerned about your right to reproduce content, you may want to read the legalese more carefully.) It is worth mentioning however, that if you thought something but did not write it, or wrote something which was later expressed differently by someone else, you would not seem to be protected by copyright law. To be clear, the copyright law states that “Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas and discoveries are not protected by the copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be.” So A patent remains an alternative in order to protect a discovery, but an idea is up for grabs once it has been revealed in public.

If you are responding to some big public forum which is owned and operated by a private company, you may have to sign away your rights before you post anything. But then what about social networking? If your friend posts a thought on his social networking page, or opens up a forum within a social network, and then you post some deep insightful response which subsequently gets everyone talking, what are your rights then?

Well, we’ve already established that ideas are not copyrightable, and that only the tangible expression of ideas can be copyrighted. And we can assume that most of your friends are not posting legalese copyright disclaimers on their social networking posts or forums. It would seem logical to me that once you have posted and item on someone else’s page you have granted them the right to reproduce or share your ideas. Certainly, given the proclivity of posts to go viral, you should be considering whether you are willing to stand by what you have said before you make a post. Regardless of your rights, the practical reality is that once it’s on the internet it’s hard to pull back.

What do the social networking sites have to say about copyright? A little blue link titled “Terms” led me to another link to the “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” on one popular social networking website, where interesting insights into copy rights and protections were revealed. The website makes a statement guaranteeing your rights to your own content. It does claim the right to reproduce that content in conjunction with the “IP License”. (Some limited experience with programming leads me to believe that this is necessary in order to program the website.) The license ends if you delete your account or when you choose to delete the specific content. The website also lays out rules for respecting the rights of other social networkers, and threatens action for non-compliance. In other words, if you make a habit of ripping people off or in any other way abusing the rights of your fellow social networkers, the website is stating that it may take legal action against you.

I am a little leery of posting actual verbatim legalese from a social networking site on my blog. I can only assume that the potential for conflict exists. This was probably not the sexiest topic to cover on my return to blogging, but it seems like the right place to start anyway. How better to establish that I reserve the right to all content that I produce for this blog, and also that I reserve the right to delete any content which I deem inappropriate. I know this doesn’t constitute an official copyright agreement, but there I’ve said it. This is my blog, and I decide what stays or goes. I said it here. I said it now. Check the time stamp.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Teach Yourself

Recently the Texas government voted to alter history books to downplay slavery and evolution, and play up the role of creationism in the thoughts and actions of the founding fathers. The resulting uproar was understandable. However, the biggest problem confronting the US today is not in the writing of government funded, revisionist history, and textbook fabrication. The biggest problem is in the failure of Postmodernist philosophy to promote education as a way of life, rather than simply a means to employment.

Prior to Rousseau, Enlightment philosophy valued learning and rational application of learning, on its own merit. But when he and later Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, etc., began attacking reality as an irrelevant aspect of the human experience, they in turn began the devaluation of learning in society. Today we have a western civilization that believes that you go to school simply because it is your duty. But graduation from school should not be the ending of education, but rather the beginning.

I have long thought that enlightenment ethics and philosophy should be taught as a course in high schools nationwide, but seeing as even among my many talented teachers, few seemed to understand these concepts, I can't imagine who would teach the course. Most educators teach how to learn, but they often do not teach you how to think. You are on your own for that one. In the absence of any rational philosophical instruction, most people fall back on the only pseudo-philosophy they have ever encountered, namely religion. However, I have learned much more since school, by forming my own curriculum, than I ever did when I was in school, about how the mind works, how systems work, how economics function, and so many other things.

Recommended Reading:
"Explaining Postmodernism" by Stephen R.C. Hicks
"Economics In One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt
"End the Fed" by Ron Paul
"For the New Intellectual" by Ayn Rand
"The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand
"Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" by Ayn Rand
"Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" by Ayn Rand

I'm still working my way up to Ludwig Von Mises, Adam Smith Isaac Newton and John Locke, but I suspect I would recommend them too. Take your education into your own hands. If you would work out your body to keep it fit, why would you not also work out your mind? A self-directed, life-long commitment to your own education is the only sane choice for a rational mind.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Obama-Warren Contradiction: Finding the Moral High-Ground in the Politics of Gender Preference

The inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America is only weeks away. And here we stand on the eve of something historic. In the wake of an ugly history of racism and bigotry of other forms, a man has found the courage and the drive to rise above the fray. This man has transcended beyond the petty politics of division which daily threaten to tear apart our great republic, has risen above the ignorant rhetoric of race, has called out to the best hopes and dreams of a lonely nation that knew it should demand better of itself…And that nation answered.

On January 20, 2009 Barrack Obama will assume the presidency of our country, but his election has already changed us as a nation. This historic election represents a sea-change in the expectations that we as Americans place upon our elected representatives, to uphold their offices in dignified practice. Mr. Obama has promised a White House that is more open, more accountable, and more responsive to the concerns of the American people.

We should not be surprised by this pledge. This is exactly what Mr. Obama called for in his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. This brand of moral righteousness is what he wrote about in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope. And this is the bold vision he expressed consistently as he campaigned to open the hearts and minds of voters all across this nation to the plausibility of Change.

Senator Barrack Obama ran for the Office of President, but we voted for the man. And once the results of the election had been tallied, and we knew that the man for whom we had voted had won the office he sought, we all crossed our fingers in a sincere hope that he would not allow the heady nature of the office he is now destined to occupy undermine the core of his character. We are waiting with baited breath to see if the man we elected will actually prove to be the man we get.

Preliminary results are a bit mixed. While many liberals will admit to being more than a bit anxious about Obama’s decision to retain Robert Gates as secretary of Defense, (a holdover from the Bush era), the general consensus is that the President Elect has done an exceptional job recruiting his cabinet.

But just as we prepare to give praise to a man who has made so many correct moves in favor of thwarting the divisive residue of our political culture, he goes and picks Reverend Rick Warren, a man who represents the engine of division in this country, to be a speaker at the inauguration. Rick Warren was a key player in support of the passage of proposition 8, banning gay marriage in California. For a man dedicated towards bringing our nation together, it seems odd that Mr. Obama would choose this momentous occasion to bestow the honor of his stage upon the serpent in our garden, and give audience to the mouthpiece of the masquerading faithful who hide behind religion while preaching bigotry.

I am neither gay nor black. And yet neither is a prerequisite for seeing clearly how wrong it is to allow government to legislate bigotry of any form. I do maintain that there are many intelligent, moral people among us who fully comprehend the travesty of justice being perpetrated by those who seek to undermine the civil rights of Gay Americans. But for some reason those people remain in the shadows while their best intentions lay shackled in silence. These people should ask themselves something. What kind of person are you? How would you like to see yourself? What would you stand for? Who among us does not identify with one minority group or another? If we do not stand for each other, we risk falling alone.

As a caucasion, male atheist with a thinning hairline, a lineage tracked back to Russian and Romanian Jews, Scottish, German, and Native American ancestors, a private religious-education, an affinity for science fiction, a tendency towards driving American-made cars, an appreciation for rum-raisin ice cream, a soft belly where my abs used to be, a love affair with the state about to loose its junior senator to the office fifth in-line to the presidency, a fondness for salty sea-air…. I think you get the point.

More importantly, you must recognize that the more we acknowledge our differences, the more insignificant they seem on a grander scale. Even though in fourth grade I refrained from saying one two-word phrase while reciting the pledge of allegiance, I still love my country. Even if you don’t set off fireworks on the fourth of July, root for the so-called “America’s Team” Dallas Cowboys or the so-called “American Pastime’s” winningest franchise New York Yankees, drive a Chevy, eat apple-pie, drink diet coke, or wear red-white-and-blue striped pajamas, I’d be willing to believe you if you said that you love America too. And if you didn’t say it, that would be your right. This is America, the melting pot, where we defend the rights of the few to protect the many. Or so we claim….

I hope that the president elect will see his error, and rescind his support for California’s proposition 8 banning gay marriage, as it represents a boon to all those who favor government legislated bigotry. How many Plessy vs. Fergussons do we need before we learn from history? Gay people are no less deserving of the right to declare their love for one another than are any of the rest of us. I further hope that Mr. Obama will at least speak to the issue he has created with his endorsement of the so-called reverend. Like most religious radicals, the hatred Rick Warren preaches does not appear to be contained within the texts he uses to defend his position. And even if it were, his position would still have to be considered wrong.

When it comes to bigotry, you either are or you aren’t. Despite what we may allow the law to at times claim, there is no middle-ground for justice. And there can be no compromise with those who would advocate for hate in our society. We need a president who will speak up and remind this nation that we must act to defend the civil rights of every citizen if we are truly to become one America.

I believe President Barrack Obama is a better man than this most tragic error in judgement. I hope I am right.