Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Next plank

Okay, if we're going up against the two Tory parties we have now with a new Whig party, we have to have a party platform. The previous post covered capital punishment. Now, let's talk about race.

There is no gene for race in our DNA. There is nothing science can discover that identifies racial identity. People whose ancestors lived in hot, sunny climates have darker skin because of what their ancestors survived. People whose ancestors lived in cold or temperate climates have lighter skin because their ancestors didn't need a lot of melanin in their skin.

Speaking of science, there is more genetic variation among natives of Africa than among those from any other continent, thus indicating that the human race started in Africa and moved from there into the rest of the world. This says we are all from Africa originally.

So much for science. Sociology is a different story. Some of our European forefathers went to Africa and captured native people and brought them to America where some of our American ancestors bought them as slaves. The ramifications of that evil are still with us to this day.

The ideal would be for everyone to recognize only one race: the human race. Unfortunately, that is not possible. Black people and white people have different subcultures, different dialects, different worship styles. The problem is not the difference nor the failure to absorb the differences into one amorphous blob. The problem is in our failure to accept each other as we are.

Now, sometimes that difference becomes a problem. We are now becoming a bilingual nation, with more Spanish speakers than African-Americans in our culture. When we deal with the public, we have to be fluent in two different languages, which is a problem for older adults.

We need to discuss our differences, examine without preconceptions the value and impact of affirmative action, and decide whether we really want to be a bilingual nation, or whether that is no longer going to be an option.

There will be more said about immigration at a future date. Now, let's look at who we are in our own subcultures, affirm our identity and that of those who are different, and talk about what we have in common. Let's also talk about what each subculture has to offer society as a whole.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Whig Party?

Looking at the last election (the one in the U. S., not the one Iraq was FINALLY--after thousands marched in protest against the American authorities to get was able to bring about), I have come to the conclusion that this country has two Tory parties.

After all, the Democratic line about Iraq, tort "reform" proposals, military spending, etc., was "Me, too, but I'd do it better." Yeah, right. As Truman said, if you run a pseudo-Republican against a Republican, the Republican will win every time. So with two Tory parties, it's time for a Whig party to come up and offer some real alternatives.

It's time to do some serious thinking, forgetting "party" lines and look for what we really want to happen in this country, and what has been proven to produce those results.

Today, I'll start with capital punishment. Some people who call themselves "Pro-life" argue for the death penalty for ever-younger offenders. (Why does "right to life" END at birth?) What has the real world taught us about this? First, it has taught us that the death penalty does not deter crime. Capital punishment is just that, a punishment. Not anything else.

Benjamin Franklin made the observation that the certainty of punishment was a more effective deterrent that the severity of the punishment. The real world has proven this to be true. States with capital punishment have higher rates of murder than states that don't, even after factoring in population differences.

The next problem with capital punishment is that it's the one penalty that cannot be ended and compensated for once the prisoner has been proven innocent. I have written to Governor Mike Easly that I would never vote for him again after he let a provably innocent prisoner be executed. I don't want to be standing near him in the final judgment when he has to justify that.
Our court system is not set up adequately yet to ensure that no innocent person is executed.

Once we set up a moratorium on capital punishment, we need to ask, What do we want? Do we want fewer capital crimes committed? I would say that would be a worthy goal. Okay, so what reduces that? Some programs are out there that help keep young people out of trouble and off drugs (which accounts for a lot of all kinds of crimes, including capital ones). So, if we want to reduce crime, we need to fund and support those programs.

What about people who have already committed them--people like Charles Manson, Timothy McVeigh, etc.? What was it that caused them to take the path they took? We need to keep them locked up and study them thoroughly. Find out what went wrong with them so that we can save future people before they become criminals.

That's a start. Let's discuss these issues, and I'll post more later.