Saturday, June 30, 2018

Photographs of the Month

Construction of Vista Tower, June 9




Michigan Avenue Towers, June 28

Friday, June 29, 2018

Senn

As some of you know, I spent the past school year documenting and learning great things from the students and teachers of Senn High School for a citywide project called CPS Lives.. Here's a little tribute to them:

Nicholas Senn High School has a remarkable history. It was built in 1913 to meet the needs of the burgeoning middle to upper-middle-class neighborhood of Edgewater on Chicago’s far north side. The school was the vision of educator Ella Flagg Young, who at the time, was the superintendent of Chicago public schools. Ms. Young, a social reformer and friend and colleague of Jane Addams, was far ahead of her time in her field. She was particularly concerned with promoting professionalism in the teaching vocation, known for her advocacy of equality between the sexes, and for her progressive vision of public education. Along those lines, Young advocated for the embrace of physical education as an integral part of the curriculum of secondary schools. All these ideas were tested out and ultimately implemented at the new high school. 

The school’s imposing neo-Classical building, designed by CPS Acting Architect Arthur F. Hussander , is a reflection of the “City Beautiful” movement, and has been a landmark of its community for over one hundred years. Senn’s list of notable alumni includes well known practitioners of the arts and letters, participants in the world of sports and entertainment, as well as countless other individuals who have made an important mark on the world. 

The school went through troubled times, most notably during last half of the twentieth century when declining enrollment and gang violence, problems endemic throughout much of the Chicago Public School System , began to challenge the reputation of the proud school.

Despite the difficult times, Senn continued to set precedents and establish distinctions. In 1969, Senn was the first CPS school to establish the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program. Senn was a natural testing ground for that program as in 1978, Time Magazine listed it as the most ethnically integrated high school in the country.

Members of one of the many Senn social clubs at Club Day
Long time Senn institutions and traditions that continue to this day, took hold during that period, such as the numerous student clubs devoted to, among other things, the plethora of ethnic groups represented at the school. Taking place on the first Friday of the school year is Club Day (est. 1972), where said clubs set up tables on the school’s massive front lawn to recruit new members. 


Senn moved into the twenty first century by exploring new directions while continuing its commitment to maintain its first mission as a neighborhood school. In 1999, Senn was authorized to create its selective International Baccalaureate, a rigorous college preparatory program which attracts students from throughout the city. Since that time, Senn IB has been expanded and has significantly contributed to the overall increase in the quality of education of the school. 

A Senn IB Student showing me portraits she made of her grandparents
In 2011 Senn added another school to the mix. Senn Arts is a fine and performing arts magnet school where potential students audition and /or present portfolios for admission. From their mission statement, Senn Arts “provides students with an environment that fosters academic, social, and personal growth to cultivate members of the global community.”

True to that cause, this past school year, Senn Arts students took the lead in organizing protests and other initiatives promoting an end to gun violence, as well as registration drives among students who would be eligible to vote for the first time in the upcoming elections.

Senn students, participated in the production of an original play, Columbinus, performed on the stage of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater. The play centered around the school shooting at Columbine High School and its aftermath. Senn Arts drama students participated in the August Wilson Monologue competition, including a young woman who was one of only two students from Chicago selected to participate in the national competition in New York. 
A Senn Arts student rehearsing for her
entry in the national
August Wilson Monlogue Competition

Members of the Senn Arts Chorus were invited to perform in an original one act opera entitled Empower. The opera was written by composer Damien Sneed and librettist Ike Holter, who enlisted the help of several CPS students to create a work depicting young residents of the South Side of Chicago, telling their own stories about their neighborhood, flying in the face of pre-conceived notions and stereotypes. The opera was performed on the stage of Lyric Opera of Chicago.

In March, members of the Senn Arts band and orchestra, were joined by members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago who individually tutored the students on their particular instruments. The day was capped off by a visit of world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who sat in with the combined orchestra and band, taking his place among the second cellists.

In recent years, under the leadership of principal, Mary Beck, Senn High School has regained its standing as one of the highest rated public high schools in the city of Chicago. In many ways, Senn is the best of all worlds, a school with high scholastic standards, set in a metropolitan area which affords countless cultural and educational amenities and opportunities, combined with a student body that represents a significant portion of the world’s population, it’s cultures, languages and religions. With that in mind, the students of all the schools of Senn, benefit in countless ways from this unique combination of attributes.

The tremendous diversity of Senn is what many students cited to me as one of their proudest features of their school. Forming personal bonds and friendships with people coming from vastly different cultures and interests, (thanks to the addition of the IB program and Senn Arts), the Senn experience provides students a unique foundation for living, working, thriving, and leading in an ever diverse and changing world. 

Senn students from Palistan and Somalia attending "International Night"
 
Looking back on my involvement at Senn over the past six months, I couldn’t help being struck by the notion that these students are our future, and that our future is in good hands.

As it has for over a century, Senn stands at the forefront of progressive education. Ella Flagg Young would be proud.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Anatomy of a Fake News Story

Last week I got into a long-winded social media dispute with my good friend, the Trump supporter, something we do on a regular basis. Unlike our typical disputes which center around the merits of the current administration. this was over a truly pointless and irrelevant issue. It started when my friend posted this meme:


My friend took the point a step further claiming this as proof of the depths of Democratic chicanery, the tale of  a corrupt Democrat, Jimmy Carter, pardoning another corrupt Democrat, and a felon to boot, Bill Clinton

As I am wont to do, with or without any factual basis to back it up, I challenged my friend. The truth is, while I knew that Bill Clinton went to great lengths to not serve in the military during the Vietnam War, I did not know whether or not he was actually convicted of a felony for illegally dodging the draft. One would think I might have remembered it coming up during his first election in 1992, but I was going through the breakup of my marriage at the time so I had other things on my plate.

As you might guess, a few things tipped me off that the message of this meme might be bogus:
  • You can always tell where a meme is going by the image its creator choses to use. Here we have a particularly snarky image of Clinton, displaying a "face smackable smirk" as one commentor remarked, an image that portrays the Clinton described by one of his more colorful nicknames, "Slick Willy.". 
  • The creator chose to capitalize the words "Draft", Dodging", and "Felon", but not the words "bill" and "clinton." This either means the creator has a serious issue with the rules of English grammar, he is tipping off a bias, or perhaps a little of both.
  • Whenever a meme begins with the phrase, "Why do so few people know this fact", you can rest assured that nine times out of ten, it's because it really isn't a fact. 
  • Finally there is the use of the phrase, "look it up." People more often than not create memes to preach to the choir. Everyone knows it's considered bad form for the choir to question the word of the preacher. So no, the intended audience is not very likely to look it up, it's the heathens who question ideas and look things up. Being a heathen of the first magnitude, I looked it up and no, I couldn't find a 60 Minutes piece about Clinton the felon. But I did find several scurrilous anti-Clinton videos including one where during an actual 60 Minutes interview, a studio light fell off its stand and hit Hillary Clinton in the head. The creator of the video went on to praise the light for sacrificing its life in an attmpt to rid us of the evil Hillary.
So why this interest in a president who's been out of office for 18 years? As a Trump supporter, my friend  is deeply offended that his man is often criticized for having himself dodged the draft. From a post I wrote during the 2016 campaign, I said that I don't have a problem with (then candidate) Trump's lack of military service  as he did what tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of men did during that era, that is, everything in his power to avoid serving in a highly contentious war. As I said, I probably would have done the same had I been a little older.

What irks me about Trump is the way he potrays himself as a patriot, both figuratvely and literally wrapping himself around the American Flag, as if that symbolic gesture, and that gesture alone actually meant anything. Beyond that, he has gone out of his way to disrespect veterans whom he doesn't like, most notably questioning the heroism of John McCain, a navy pilot who endured years of captivity in the notorious "Hanoi Hilton" POW prison.

The late, great columnist Mike Royko, himself a veteran of the Korean War, had a term for bellicose, hawkish politicians who like Donald Trump, avoided the draft. He called them "war wimps."

My first line of questioning my friend's reasoning was that what he posted was only a meme. As anyone with the slightest bit of social-media acumen will attest, memes are as dependable a souce of information as grafitti inside a bathroom stall. In response God bless him, my friend  linked to a blog post. Now I happen to know a little about blog posts which you might have gathered as you are reading a blog post right now. While I try my hardest to write accurately and honestly, the truth is I have no publisher, no editor or fact checker to keep me honest. For what it's worth, all you have is my word that to the best of my knowledge, whatever I write in this space is accurate. If however I chose to be deceitful, no one could stop me. True you could point out my errors in the comments section but I have a dirty little secret, bloggers can delete comments at their discretion.

Despite that, blog posts are at the very least, one step above the credibility ladder from memes. The particular one he posted, lists a chronology of events involving Bill Clinton's actions regarding the draft, along with the Jimmy Carter pardon.. The post concludes with this:
Bill Clinton is the first pardoned federal felon ever to serve as President.
With that I did a little research. So is it true that Jimmy Carter pardoned the felonious Bill Clinton in 1977?

The answer is no.

Like most fake news stories, this one has some basis in fact. Bill Clinton did indeed dodge the draft, first through college deferments, then with a little help of a connection which got him into the ROTC at the University of Arkansas. which further enabled him to aviod the draft. He then dropped out of the UofA, choosing to complete his studies at Oxford and then at Yale. In doing so he skipped out of his committment to the ROTC. While in England, he wrote the draft board to request a re-classification. They gladly returned his message, giving him a 1-A classification, in other words, a prime candidate, eligible for serice. Luckily for Clinton, President Nixon signed into law a new policy that allowed students to finish their school year before reporting for service. This granted Slick Willy yet another college deferment. By the time the year ended, Nixon instituted a draft lottery which corresponded to days of the year. One's chances of being called depended upon the order in which your birthday was drawn, low numbers being most likely, high numbers the least. It turned out that Clinton's number, like Donald Trump's was in the 300's,, meaning his chances of being drafted by that time, were very low.

One could question the ethics of Clinton's actions, especially his skipping out of his ROTC committments. The blog my friend posted claims that by doing so, Clinton was declared AWOL, subject to arrest, and ineligible for the lottery. Other sources I found claim that no, Clinton's actions, while perhaps questionable, did not violate the law. What is not debatable is that Bill Clinton was never charged with a crime for skipping out of his committments.

As for the pardon, in January, 1977, Jimmy Carter gave a blanket pardon to all those "who were convicted of violating the Military Selective Service Act by draft-evasion acts or omissions committed between August 4, 1964 and March 28, 1973."

The bottom line is this: since Bill Clinton was never charged with a crime relating to his failure to show up for duty, by the very definition of the term, he cannot be a felon. By the same token, Carter's blanket pardon did not apply to Bill Clinton because Clinton was never charged with or needless to say, convicted of violating the Selective Service Act.

I got this information from the fact checking website Snopes.com, as well as from other sources. My findings were immediately rejected by my friend and other Trump supporter friends of his who insist that Snopes is a part of the biased left wing main stream media and thus, cannot be trusted.

Since there is no arguing with them about that bit of false information, I told them to use a little critical judgement and common sense. The website makes two curious bullet points before it mentions the Carter pardon:
  • Bill Clinton runs for Congress (1974), while a fugitive from justice under Public Law 90-40.
  • Bill Clinton runs for Arkansas Attorney General (1976), while a fugitive from justice.
The word "fugitive" comes from the Latin verb "fugit", literally meaning "to flee". Apparently the author of the blog and the people who buy into his premise never watched the TV show or the movie The Fugitive. The eponymous character of both, Richard Kimball, did a lot of things, but I don't ever recall him running for public office, at least not under his own name. Presumably, if you are fleeing from justice. chances are good that there are people involved with carrying out justice, who are looking for you. And one of the easiest ways to find someone, is if they are running for public office. William Jefferson Clinton, had he indeed been a fugitive from justice, would have been pretty stupid to expose himself that way. He wasn't called Slick Willy for nothing. And the people supposedly looking for this fugitive from justice must have been pretty dense to not have noticed their man was a candidate for Congress. Even worse, in 1976 Clinton won the election for Attorney General, making him effectively their boss. Pretty hard to not notice that. Maybe they thought, "nah that can't be him, nobody would be stupid enough to run for public office, especially for the top legal official in the state, when he's a fugitive from justice."

Anyway according to the blog, Clinton was no longer a fugitive from justice after Jimmy Carter allegedly pardoned him. Which begs the question, was Carter's blanket pardon of all those who violated selective service laws during Vietnam, merely a ruse by "an obviosly corrupt Democrat president to exonerate another obviously corrupt future Democrat president" as my friend insists? Well let's just say that's a bit of a stretch, I haven't found any evidence that Carter even knew the newly elected Attorney General of Arkansas when he allegedy, but didn't really pardon him in 1977.

Lest you think that I'm knocking the intelligence of Trump supporters, let me point out that it works both ways. Trump detractors are just as eager to promote ideas or post articles they like, without checking their validity. A couple weeks ago, Trump was excoriated by his detractors who accused him of calling illegal immigrants "animals."  Listening to his remarks, Trump was clearly referring to members of the notorious MS-13 gang, not to all undocumented immigrants. More recently a photograph has been widely distributed showing a crying young boy inside a cage. Captions claim the child is one of the thousands of children separated from their parents during the new "zero tolerance" sweep of people coming across our southern border. The photograph in fact was not of one of the separated children, but of a staged event in Dallas,  at a protest against the separations.

And finally there is the meme that has been widely circulated since the beginning of the 2016 election featuring a photograph of a young and handsome Donald Trump, taken back in the days when he was a liberal Democrat.. The meme includes the quote: "If I ever ran for president, I'd run as a Republican because Republican voters are so stupid, they'd believe anything you told them" There is certainly no tastier morsel that can be used to justify the resistance of the current president than that remark. The only problem is that he never said it.

How do I know those stories are not real? I listened to the immigrants being animals quote in its proper context, and I checked out the stories of Trump's Republican quote, and the photograph of the child in the cage where else, in Snopes.com.

The truth is this, fake news is a mortal enemy to democracy, it serves no one, except people of ill will trying to use it to gain power.  Everytime we post something on social media, we are broadcasting an idea to virtually the entire world. We may not realize it, but that is a very powerful thing, the kind of power our ancestors could never have imagined. We must all do our utmost to avoid spreading baseless information, just because we happen to like or agree with it, even, no especially if we are employing it to counter fake news on the other side.

So how does one know what is real and what is fake these days? Frankly it's not all that hard, it just takes some work. I find fact-checking sites like Snopes to be credible because as we just saw, they point out factual errors on both sides of the political fence. But it is still important to never trust the word of one single news source, no matter how un-biased is may seem, double check everything.

"Main stream media" news outlets, whatever they may be, wouldn't be in business very long if they kept reporting factual errors. Their credibility is judged upon their ability to report facts. All news sources get it wrong sometimes. If a news source rigorously corrects factual errors in printed or stated retractions, that doesn't mean it makes a lot of errors, it means they are committed to getting it right, and should be trusted.

Some news outlets are pointedly biased, I needen't mention them by name. These exist on both sides of the political divide. I think it is important no matter what side of the divide you find yourself on, to check out sources on the other side, and if possible, give them the benefit of the doubt. You might even learn something.

The most important thing when reading or watching the news, no matter what the source, is to use your brain and its inherent capability to make critical judgements and employ common sense.

Ask yourself questions like: "is what they are saying even plausible", or "does it make sense?" Another worthwhile question is "how much is the source willing to give a voice to both sides of an issue?" If commentators keep praising one side and berating the other, chances are pretty good that sorce is not credible. These "news" sources earn their keep by telling their counsumers what they want to hear, rather than reporting the facts.

Independent news sources such as blogs (yes like this one), don't have to answer to anyone to stay afloat. That doesn't mean they are not credible sources of information, it just means you have to work a little harder to verify them.

Memes, while they may contain truthful information,  should be automatically suspect.

My point is this, in an ideal world, we should consider ourselves Americans first, then Democrats or Republicans a distant second. It seems like we've done exactly the opposite for too long. Sadly, the current administration and those who promote it, seem to thrive on such division. But truth be told, both sides are guilty of broadening the divide.  I have no doubt that there are people on both sides of the current political morass who are of good will and truly want what is best for the country.

One of my friend's friends, also a Trump supporter, put it very well. He said that as long as people relentlessly criticize the president, out of anger his supporers will only strengthen their resolve. Which can only mean that their resolve is fueled by emotion, rather than intelligence. For my part I can say that my own anger and resolve are fueled by what I see as the complete lack of regard for facts and reason coming from the other side. And on and on it goes, where it will stop, no one knows. There is a place for emotion in politics, but a very small place. Mea culpa, that is something I need to keep reminding myself.

People ask me why I continue these endless sparring matches when it is clear that neither of us will budge the other's opinion. Thinking about it I have two answers. First, I have no problem with people who have different political opinions from me and I enjoy spirited, well thought out debates, but the core of my being is rattled whenever I encounter an argument that is entirely illogical and catagorically denies substantialted facts. Deep down I feel that the battle for facts and reason is well worth fighting. But more importantly,  I think it is very important to keep an open, and (hopefully) respectful dialog between both sides.  It is important to tap into things we agree upon, rather then just the things that tear us apart. So many relationships have been severed over this divide that I see a spark of hope whenever we can remain friends while keeping our opinions out in the open. If at the end of the day (I hate that cliche but it seems appropriate at this moment), we can find things to agree upon despite our differences, then we all come out ahead by understanding that we're not enemies at all, we just have different opinions.

I may hate their politics but I love the people.
I just have to keep telling that to myself over and over and over again.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

RFK

On this, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, below is an interesting two hour PBS documentary on his life. It is not a hagiographic portrait of the man. It doesn't hesitate to discuss some of Kennedy's less than admirable accomplishments:, his affiliation with Senator Joseph McCarthy, his involvement as part of his brother's administration, in the plot to remove by all means necessary, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and his initial reluctance to support the American Civil Rights Movement, to name just three.

RFK was a man of great contrasts, a devout family man, who was nothing short of ruthless when anything or anyone got in his way.

Yet the most remarkable trait of Bobby Kennedy was his capacity to grow and to change. That is the main theme of this film. As a virulent anti-communist hawk, evidenced by his work with McCarthy in the fifties, a staunch early supporter of the Vietnam War, and a man of privilege with little understanding of the suffering of others, the tide began to turn for Kennedy after three momentous events that occurred within a short time of each other in 1962 and 1963.

The first of these was the Cuban Missle Crisis of 1962. As part of John F. Kennedy's Cabinet in the role of Attorney General, Robert Kennedy was also his brother the president's closest advisor. At the beginning of the crisis, Robert Kennedy adamantly advocated for military retailiation against the USSR's decision to install missles with nuclear warheads in Cuba, just ninety miles from American soil. But after several days of rigorous debate and soul searching, RFK came to the conclusion that the moral solution, was to negotiate a deal with Moscow that would involve, unbeknownst to the American public at the time, the tit-for-tat removal of US milles pointed at the Soviet Union, that had been in Trukey. That change of heart of Kennedy's could very well have prevented a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Another moment that profoundly changed Robery Kennedy's view of the world took place in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, There, the reaction of local authorities to civil rights protests resulted in images broadcast all over the world of firefighters turning hoses on, and police brutally beating and turning dogs on demonstrators, many of whom were children. It was Robert Kennedy, at least according to this film, who convinced a still complacent John Kennedy, that acting on befalf of civil rights in this country was not a political, but a moral obligation. As a result, the president addressed the nation on June 11, 1963, with the speech that would prove to be his finest moment, announcing the legislation that would lead to the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The event that most profoundly changed Robert Kennedy's life, was his brother's assassination in November of 1963. Out of the depths of despair from which  it took Bobby Kennedy years to recover, came an entirely different man, one of profound empathy for the suffering of his fellow human beings.

During his time of despair over JFK's death, it is said that his brother's widow Jacqueline Kennedy suggested that Robert read the works of the ancient Greeks to help provide him solace. Bobby Kennedy put these words of Aeschylus to good use during the time he had left in this world:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.
Kennedy was once asked why his ideas about civil rights and the Vietnam War had changed so drastically in such a short period of time. It's hard to imagine another American politician, especially one in our own era respond the way Kennedy did. He said, "Becasue I hadn't yet read Aeschylus."

Kennedy used those words to console an audience of African American people in Indianapoilis on the night Martin Luther King was musdered. The six minute speech he delivered that night was arguably his finest moment.

Those are the words of RFK's epitaph, inscribed on his headstone at Arlington National Cemetery.

And they are the words that inspired the title of the second half, and the closing words of the following film in the American Experience Series:


 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Taboos and Double Standards

In our on-going culture wars, the gripe du-jour among white Trump supporters this week is that there is a double standard in the media regarding the treatment of performers who cross one line or other in regards to race and politics. It began, as so many issues these days, with a tweet.

Celebrity Roseanne Barr, who made a comeback with her eponymous sit-com about a working class family with conflicting political opinions, sort of a 2010's version of All in the Family, got into hot water this week when she tweeted that former Obama advisor, Valerie Jarrett, who hapens to be African American. looked like a cross between the "Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes." Now why she chose to pick on Ms. Jarrett who has been out of the spotlight for a while I have no idea, but that's just what she did. After being roundly criticized from a wide swath of the American public, Barr apolgized to Jarrett for the tweet, but the damage was done. Later in the day ABC, the network who broadcasts her highly rated show, cancelled it.

While Barr's tweet was criticized by virtually everyone, her firing was slammed by many for being an overreaction to what was simply meant to be a joke, albeit a tasteless one with racial overtoves. Barr took back the remark and immediately apologized for it, that should have been enough, critics of ABC said. The argument went on that other celebrities make crude and vugar references about public figures all the time and get away with it scott free. Bill Maher for example compared President Trump to an orangutan, and Samantha Bee just this week referred to Ivanka Trump as a "feckless cunt." Bee also apologized for that remark. But unlike Barr, Maher and Bee got to keep their jobs despite doing essentially what Barr did.

Cries of unfiar, and accusations of double standards went up all over the ultra-right airwaves which claimed that Barr was fired and the others were spared for one and only one reason, because Barr is a vocal supporter of Donald Trump. Not surprizingly, the president also got into the act with his own tweet. He openly whined about Disney, the parent company of ABC. If they saw fit to fire Barr for her comments about Jarrett, and then apologize to the American people for those remarks, why didn't they apologize to him for all the mean things celebrities under their employ said about him?

Putting aside the petty and pathetic nature of the President of the United States making the firing of a celebrity over an offensive comment, all about himself, does Donald Trump have a point? After all, Bill Maher compared him to an ape, just like Barr compared Jarrett, and Bee crossed a line when she used the "C" word to describe his daughter. Fair is fair isn't it?

If there were a creature from outer space who arrived to earth just in time for this story to break, he, she, they, it or whatever the correct pronoun for a creature from outer space is, would certainly see a double standard here, Barr was fired and Maher and Bee were not, for doing essentially the same thing. But in our society, you'd have to be a creature from outer space to not understand the difference, and no, it does not have anythigng to do with the poitics of the people involved.

The issue is race, pure and simple. A couple months ago. I dealt with the issue of reverse racism, trying to find eqinamity beween the way white and black people in the United States relate to each other. My conclusion was that it is simply not possible. In other words, reverse racism does not exist. You can read that post here.

Now you might read that and say wow, this guy is just swayed by the scourge of political correctness. Well several years ago I dealt with that subject as well. You can read that here.

The jist of the matter is this, every society has its own taboos. In Turkey for example, it is considered taboo to show the bottom of your feet in public,, with or without shoes. In Cambodia, it is wrong to take a photograph with three people. Every society, including our own, has its own cultural taboos that are bewildering to people of other cultures.

There were far more taboos when I was growing up in this country than there are now. For example, one would never ask a woman her age. Then of course there were George Carlin's famous "Seven words you can't say on TV." Well you still can't say those words on broadcast TV but they are used so frequently these days in common speech that they go all but unnoticed. As a result, they have all but lost their power to evoke or provoke as the case may be.

But never fear, there are two words that have supplanted them, words  so vile and taboo in our society, that even the slightest mention of them in polite company, with rare exception, marks the utterer of them, the basest of individuals. That's because the two words refer not to bodily functions but are the most derogatory descriptions of specific groups of people, one of them, African Americans, the other, women. And the two greatest taboos in our society today are number one, being a racist, and number two, being a sexist. For all its shortcomings, political correctness is a means to enforce these taboos that deserve to remain as such.

If you believe that reverse racism and for that matter, reverse sexism exists, consider this:, no matter how hard you try to find one, there is no white equivalent for the "N" word, and no male equivalent for the "C" word. Granted there are derogatory words, insulting words, obnoxious words to describe white males, but nothing that comes close to the vile intent conveyed by those two specific words. And for good reason, black people and women have experienced centurites of repression, suppression, and oppresion in our society, white men have not. All the while, white men have called the shots, and for that matter, by and large, still do.

There has been a double standard reagrding race and regarding gender in this country since the beginning. So now the pendulum has swung the other direction and yes indeed, today there is a double standard in regard to the words you can legitimately use to describe another race or gender. As a result there are lines that exist in regards to the words we can use to describe oppressed groups of people, including women, that don't exist in the other direction.

And with that the ultra right cries foul. "Not being able to use words? Why that violates our free speech as guaranteed in the First Amendment!"

Well not so fast. The First Amendment of the American Constitution guarantees that Congress shall not create a law "abridging freedom of speech" (among other things). So yes there is no law against spewing the most vile, racist, sexist or hateful words, as the constitution protects against it. In other words, the police cannot come and arrest you for speaking your mind. What the constitution does not protect you from, are the consequences that may arise from that speech, including losing your job. You are free to say whatever you like without fear of arrest, but your employer doesn't have to ruin its reputation by having to associate with you. And a private company such as Facebook or Twitter is not required to publish your vile words. They are perfectly free to delete what you say, if it does not fall within their well established guidelines, or outright ban you at their discression. So say whatever you like, but remember, you are on your own, at least according to the constitution.

Roseanne Barr a white woman, crossed a definite line when she likened Valerie Jarrett, a black woman, to an ape. She was not arrested, therefore her constitutional rights were not violated. ABC, a company with a reputation to withhold, decided it no longer wanted to be affiliated with her. That decision, right or wrong, is their right, and they acted upon it.

On the other hand, there is no line against making fun of the president or his family, in fact, there is a long, distinguished history of it in this country. Personally I find Bill Maher obnoxious and at times despicable. But he, a white man, did not cross any line by calling Trump, another white man, an orangutan. In fact if anything, I think his remark was more offensive to orangutans than to Trump but maybe that's just me. Samantha Bee calling the first daughter the "C" word, if not crossing a line, came pretty close. I suppose she gets cut some slack because she is a woman calling another woman that word. Frankly it wouldn't bother me if either Maher or Bee lost their job for of their vulgar comments, because that decision is the discretion of their their employer. I may not like it, but it's not my network.

The fact is, if we are dismayed when a TV network chooses to hire or fire somebody, or not hire or not fire somebody, there is something we can do about it. Change the channel. If enough of us do that, believe me, the network will get the message.

On the other hand if a black man cannot walk down the street without being suspected of being a criminal simply because of the color of his skin, he cannot change the color of his skin.

Or if a woman cannot go to work with the full expectation tha she will be treated fairly, justly and with respect at all times, simply because she is a woman, she cannot change her gender.

Nobody ever said life was fair.

Given that, if you're whining this week because you think it's unfair that a network cancelled your favorite TV show because of a racist remark made by its star, I have two words for you.

Tough shit.