Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Matters Of The Streets And Social Media

November 9, 2018

The impromptu late night demonstration outside the Washington DC home of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was all over the media map this week (commentary as well as reporting). The event itself, as well as any media coverage (commentary or reporting), embodies the current socio-economic condition of American culture (political, economic and social). Some reporting of this particular event placed it in line with other such spontaneous “restaurant” protests (where various political leaders have been held to account while sitting down to enjoy a meal. Foodies will claim that everyone is entitled to enjoy a good meal). Analysis finds two of the many reports or commentaries available to further underscore American culture: Protesters Target Home Of Fox News Tucker Carlson by Ashraf Khalil for AP and Anti-Fascist Protesters Target Fox News’ Tucker Carlson At His Home by Antonia Blumberg appearing in the Huffington Post. Both are from the same date, 11-8-18. The contemporary “online” account of the Huffington Post favors the personal, social media oriented emphasis – “Police responded Wednesday night when anti-fascist activists showed up at the Washington, D.C., home of Tucker Carlson and began banging on the door and shouting threats like, “We know where you sleep at night.” The Fox News host wasn’t home and neither were any of his four children. But his wife was there and quickly locked herself in the pantry and called 911.” “Carlson has drawn criticism for his rhetoric on immigration, for routinely promoting vitriol toward Democrats, for defending nationalism and more. The host is well aware of the animosity of his critics. He recently complained he can’t eat at most D.C. restaurants because people frequently yell insults at him. “I don’t feel threatened, but having someone scream ‘Fuck you!’ at a restaurant, it just wrecks your meal,” he said on a National Review podcast.” and various online, social media only related responses and activities. The traditional AP account stressed what used to be referred to as an objective and factual event – “Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department reported that officers were summoned to Carlson’s home Wednesday evening and found about 20 protesters and a commonly used anarchy symbol spray-painted on the driveway. A brief video posted on social media by a group calling itself “Smash Racism DC” shows people standing outside a darkened home and chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night.” [which rhymes]” “The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that they welcome and support all expressions of free speech and First Amendment rights but that “defacing private property” is an obvious violation.” as well as responses by various named individuals. Both reports gave the official Fox News statement. The difference in the two accounts highlights the distinction between “the streets” and online social media as contested places for the exercise of democracy, freedom and the exchange of ideas. We are all familiar with the POTUS dominant reliance of social media to intimidate, and its outcome. “The streets” have always been an open though un-secured environment (“They were threatening my family to get me to stop talking.” Carlson who “called in to talk with substitute host Brian Kilmeade.” and capitalize on the event). Which leaves the unanswered question – which is more civil, “the streets” or social media? Analysis uncovers the unspoken but even more pressing concern of civil discourse within the framework of public private partnerships. Given that Fox News is a de facto privatized ministry of information for the current administration (indeed many of the people working for the administration are from Fox, and vice versa), how can such an institution be politically confronted and held accountable within a civil landscape that gives legal precedence to the private (“”defacing private property” is an obvious violation.”). In Newark, how would, rather, how could one politically dissent or hold to account the policies of Grow Licking County? Demonstrations in front of the Licking Chamber of Commerce headquarters would be disparaged as a replication of the Carlson encounter. Ditto for any civil acts of protest towards policies or actions taken at the Canal Market, the Ice Rink, LC Transit or even JobsOhio. Analysis finds the split between “the streets” and social media to underscore the androgynous nature of public private institutions where accountability is forever deferred. Who benefits from the vast financial influx of tax payer funds? Who is ultimately responsible for the failed  transportation network in Newark? Are these matters of “the streets” or of social media?

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Inured To Work

March 20, 2018

In his final year in office Governor John Kasich has befuddled political news aficionados by actively promoting the consolidation of Ohio’s Department of Education with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Training (House Bill 512). He has denigrated the independence of the Education Department and called for control of education to be within the purview of the governor. Since he is in his final year, and his children are likewise in the last of their K-12 education, what is the intention or rationale behind such an aggressive position? Adrian Ma, reporting for WOSU, headlined Ohio School Board Opposes Education Consolidation Bill (3-14-18). “Members of the Ohio Board of Education [which the Governor dissed in his promotion] have approved a resolution speaking out against a bill being considered in the General Assembly.” “Both the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) released statements in opposition to the bill Wednesday.” “Speaking to the Board of Education, OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro said even though the bill’s intent is to consolidate to improve collaboration between the agencies, but K-12 officials have to collaborate with more than just higher education and workforce development. DiMauro said they also have to work with local districts, the state Medicaid office, mental healthcare and addiction specialists and many more.” 3-19-18 The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell headlined Computers are now grading essays on Ohio’s state tests. “No, not just all those fill-in-the bubble multiple choice questions. The longer answers and essays too. After Ohio started using American Institutes for Research in 2015 to provide and score state tests, Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs have increasingly taken over grading. Computers are now scoring the entire test for about 75 percent of Ohio students, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and state testing official Brian Roget told the state school board recently. The other 25 percent are scored by people to help verify the computer’s work.” “According to the department, some students copied large portions of the questions or of the passages that they had to read into their answers.  That led the computer to give them zeroes on the question – either as apparent plagiarism or simply because the student offered little original thought in the answer. That’s a sticky point because the tests ask students to show what parts of the passage led them to their answer.” “The most clear guidance so far: An update this month of all the ways students can earn a zero on a question. “A score of zero also is earned when there is a significant amount of text copied directly from the prompt and/or reading passage, with little to no original writing from the student,” that new guide states. “Copying limited text from the prompt is allowable but, as a rule, at least 30 percent of a response needs to be original to demonstrate understanding and earn points.”” Analysis can’t help but ask how the AI program determines writing to be original (since AI is based on data in/data out, that is past examples of “writing” determine the algorithm)? Wiki gives “In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems.” Fair or unfair? We’ve all become captive to algorithm solving our problems, taken this to be “naturally” equitable. Is it? Speaking with Harry Shearer (Le Show, 11-26-17) Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons Of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality And Threatens Democracy, explained how they are really rather biased, depending on how the plan is put together. Analysis would liken this to be analogous to routing a road map to a given destination by various sources – AAA, Google, Travel and Tourism Bureau, etc. Speaking with Guy Raz on the TED Radio Hour (1-26-18) she elaborated: “I mean, look – it’s really important to understand the difference between accuracy and fairness. So it used to be that life insurance companies made black men pay more for life insurance than white men simply because they were going to die sooner. That lasted for a long time before the regulators in question were like – wait a second – that’s racist. And it’s racist because we have to ask the question why. Why are black men living less than white men? And is that their fault that they should take responsibility for and they should pay for, or is that a problem that society itself should take on and fix? So it wasn’t an inaccurate fact that black men lived less time. But the question was, how should we deal with that? And that’s a question of fairness, and it’s a question that we all have to grapple with together. And many of these questions are of that nature. So yes, it’s true that people who live in this ZIP code are more likely to default on their debt. Does that mean we don’t loan them any money, or do we make a rule that people of this age who have a job, who finish college or whatever – what do we decide is fair? And that’s a really hard question. Data science has done nothing to address that question.” “This is Roger Ailes. He founded Fox News in 1996. More than 20 women complained about sexual harassment. They said they weren’t allowed to succeed at Fox News. He was ousted last year, but we’ve seen recently that the problems have persisted. That begs the question, what should Fox News do to turn over another leaf? Well, what if they replaced their hiring process with a machine learning algorithm? That sounds good. Right? Think about it. The data – what would the data be? A reasonable choice would be the last 21 years of applications to Fox News – reasonable. What about the definition of success? Reasonable choice would be – well, who’s successful at Fox News? I guess someone who, say, stayed there for four years and was promoted at least once – sounds reasonable. And then the algorithm would be trained. It would be trained to look for people to learn what led to success. What kind of applications historically led to success by that definition? Now think about what would happen if we applied that to a current pool of applicants. It would filter out women because they do not look like people who were successful in the past. Algorithms don’t make things fair if you just blithely, blindly apply algorithms. They don’t make things fair. They repeat our past practices, our patterns. They automate the status quo. That would be great if we had a perfect world, but we don’t. And I’ll add that most companies don’t have embarrassing lawsuits. But the data scientists in those companies are told to follow the data, to focus on accuracy. Think about what that means. Because we all have bias, it means they could be codifying sexism or any other kind of bigotry.” Which brings us back to the lame duck Governor enthusiastically promoting consolidating the Department of Education into the governor’s Office of Workforce Training, although his children (and grandchildren) will be unaffected. In A People’s History of the United States (pg. 73-74) Howard Zinn writes: “The philosophy of the Declaration [of Independence], that government is set up by the people to secure their life, liberty, and happiness, and is to be overthrown when it no longer does that, is often traced to the ideas of John Locke, in his Second Treatise on Government. That was published in England in 1689, when the English were rebelling against tyrannical kings and setting up parliamentary government. The Declaration, like Locke’s Second Treatise, talked about government and political rights, but ignored the existing inequalities in property. And how could people truly have equal rights, with stark differences in wealth? Locke himself was a wealthy man… As adviser to the Carolinas, he had suggested a government of slave owners run by forty wealthy land barons. Locke’s statement of people’s government was in support of a revolution in England for the free development of mercantile capitalism at home and abroad. Locke himself regretted that the labor of poor children “is generally lost to the public till they are twelve or fourteen years old” and suggested that all children over three, of families on relief, should attend “working schools” so they would be “from infancy… inured to work.”’

American Heart Of Darkness Association

February 2, 2018

Analysis opts not to write about “Groundhog Day message: Central Ohio economy ‘really clicking’” (Kent Mallet, Advocate, 2-2-18). Instead it finds the continued deaths attributed to the current epidemic afflicting Americans to be of greater significance. Another news account of another young life lost. This is a major health concern for our country we are told. This is usually accompanied by video of those afflicted, of those on the “front lines” of the epidemic, and of those who’ve suffered a loss. Various antidotes for recovery accompany this recurring health news coverage. Puzzled? That’s precisely the point. If the epidemic is the recent flu outbreak, then the imagery and “news” accounts are of hospitals, white clad attendants, and a panoply of prescribed cures and regimens for recovery. If the epidemic is one of addiction, likewise considered a public health concern as well as medical affliction, then the coverage is usually accompanied by black clad armored SWAT officers, flashing red and blue lights at night, yellow crime tape, handcuffed victims, and recommendations for recovery treatment unavailable to most. Both are considered a health crisis. Both are considered epidemics. Both are considered life threatening illness. Yet one illness is all white with concrete proposals for cure (though the “recommended” flu vaccine has only been shown to be 20% effective), while the other is black and all generalized encounters in the dark. Why is this so? Could it have anything to do with the recently disclosed fact that 20.8 million prescription pain killers legally found their way to Williamson, West Virginia, population 6,500 (about the size of Granville)? Could it have anything to do with media today, news outlets sources both print and digital, whose primary allegiance is to their sources of income — their advertisers? Analysis finds that presenting one disease as treatable with oodles of support (advertised or promoted by the news) while another is cast as a crime to be no coincidence. What funds media, forms media.

 

The Creep

December 7, 2017

Ever notice how stereotypes never really go away? Of course you don’t. That’s because the messenger is usually forgotten once we’ve heard the message. This association of the the stereotype with the message, the ideology or behavior generally takes for granted that the messenger will be unemployed, once the message is dealt with, thus having no more to contribute to the discussion. But stereotypes are enterprising entrepreneurs who don’t care to find themselves in the ranks of the unemployed. They migrate and switch sides. Sometimes hopping back and forth like mercenaries shifting allegiances for whoever pays the most. Case in point would be the police in America. Seems like forever that they have been trying to shed the 1930’s strike buster stereotype with its black leather boots, belts and cudgels. That “stereotype” also concurrently played out across the Atlantic, much to the chagrin of the FOP. So the stereotype hops from shielded black clad riot police to shielded black clad neo-Nazi’s in Charlottesville, indifferent as to the right and wrong of where it appears (It doesn’t help that the rural Bundy crowd dresses in the same camo that the urban SWAT team wears. Or is it urban SWAT teams wear the same camo as the rural Bundy crowd? Fashion statement? Doubtful, not much greenery in the urban setting). The 1950’s stereotype of the nuclear scientist who holds the future in his hands has re-emerged as the 21st century’s corporate government economist. The racial stereotype that cost Emmett Till his life has switched sides to become the contrived image of racial integration and harmony found promoting a lot of consumer products. “Silent march in Poland honors man who set himself on fire” by the AP, 11-6-17, reported “Hundreds of people marched in silence Monday to honor a man who set himself on fire to protest policies by Poland’s ruling party that he said are destroying the rule of law and democracy in the country.” Significant was “Many of the marchers dressed in black and carried signs around their necks that said “I, an ordinary gray man.”” Not too many stereotypes for ordinary middle gray around today. Why’s that? It is important to dress the part to enact the role, part of what makes the stereotype such an effective (and unnoticeable) messenger. Remember Fidel Castro? Who could forget the cigar and the military green fatigues that he always wore, and that his brother inherited. Talk about militancy! That look was picked up by countless tinhorn dictators in how many revolutions – from Idi Amin to Hugo Chavez. Even today we find demagogues appearing on stage wearing military fatigue green, and not because it’s cold, but in order to turn up the heat. Stereotypes, they slowly creep in where you’d least expect them.

Steve Bannon

Why I Would Prefer Not To (Talk To My Brother)

May 25, 2017

Guns and butter, part of the political choice. Butter comes from the milk of a cow which grazes on the earth. Guns originate with metallic ore, part of the composition of the very same earth that nourishes the cow. Both are a product of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work. Guns and religion, part of today’s American politic. Unlike guns or butter, religion is never considered a “product” of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work. Religion, by definition, is not of this earth though found extensively upon it, and only within the social make up of its human inhabitants. Many human-like behaviors, social or individual, are “found” with other creatures populating the earth. Religion has yet to be identified as one of them. Religion is not attributed to ants, ospreys, whales or the great apes. Today, the American politic swirls around loyalty and fidelity. Religion without these is not. Religion, not being of the earth, begs a different origin. The Judeo/Christian creation myth charges humans with dominion over the earth. It likewise requires fidelity and loyalty by doing what you are told. This link of loyalty and fidelity with “to do what you are told” runs deep within Western social evolution. It is fundamental to law, military organization and government institutions – the stuff of politics. It is not integral to the free market though capitalism is lost without it – the stuff of violence. Religion placates the disparity. For those who have done what they are told, loyalty bestows the social self esteem that bonds a brotherhood. Semper fi. In this all, the gun is very telling. Within the cliché of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is the creation origin account that humans have been given dominion over the earth along with the onus “to do what you are told.” The implication of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work having some say has no cotton with this religious perspective. Guns and religion differ fundamentally from guns and butter in that they are not the same. Guns and butter are products of human interaction with the earth. Guns and religion compliment each other, make demands on each other, excuse each other. Religion sanctions the human to differentiate the gun from any intent. Since it is of the earth over which humans maintain dominion, the gun is unintentional. Only humans are held responsible to do what you are told. And killing is telling some being to die. Along with cows, the gun is part of the dominion humans have been given over the earth, as it (the gun) is of the earth. The gun is simultaneously exceptional in that it enables dominion over the earth. Religion privileges its use by providing an alibi, an excuse. “To do what you are told” is just such an alibi. Loyalty becomes sacrosanct within this brotherhood of the gun. “To do what you are told” now has become a, if not the, political choice. To which Herman Melville’s Bartleby responds “I would prefer not to.” What other response is there when politics has become guns and religion?

The Sparta, Newark’s Introduction To Trans Culture

September 30, 2016

The latest reincarnation of Newark’s Sparta restaurant will sing its swan song at the coming out celebration of the currently-being-renovated Crystal Ballroom, 31 West Church, Friday, September 30. Analysis finds this appropriate enough, completing the cycle of life or wheel of karma (depending on your conviction). In the 9-26-16 Advocate (The Sparta looks for aid one more time) Barrett Lawlis reports: “The restaurant opened in 1900 as a combination restaurant and candy store. It has a storied history, often closing and reopening over the years. In 2012, Chris Ramsey opened the Sparta with the plan to use [it] for more than a restaurant: to use it as a transitional workplace.” Indeed, anyone from out of town looking for a good place to have breakfast (or lunch) would have had The Sparta as one of many choices in downtown Newark prior to the roundabout dig. The storefront signs, and those inside, gave all indications of an enterprising restaurant. Service was provided, and there was always coffee. Sometimes the out-of-towner might be struck by the slim pickings to be had to go with the coffee, or the ambiguous staff service when ordering or paying. The unfamiliar diner might sometimes be surprised by the establishment’s varied ambience – sometimes busy restaurant with an energetic and boisterous “meeting” taking place in the center, sometimes an almost classroom structure of instruction accompanying a customer’s request, other times an Edward Hopper “Nighthawks” tableau in the middle of the day. And then there was the variation in environment – from various community activisms posted to art and music venues. Should the unfamiliar customer venture to inquire as to any of these things, she would be summarily educated that The Sparta was not what it appeared to be. Rather, it was the establishment upon which something entitled Project Main Street found place in Newark. She would be informed that where she stopped to get a meal (and coffee, did we mention coffee?) was really a transitional workplace for Project Main Street; that much of the staff and management were volunteers, that The Sparta self-identified as a community center, and this was an enterprise where the customer did not always come first. Repast completed and back out on the streets again, she might be scratching her head, wondering why there was no signage of such to be seen from the street. Analysis finds that the days of The 3B School of Beauty, where the customer knew upfront that her hairdo was going to be part of a learning process, disappeared with the school. Ready or not, Newark has received an introduction to trans culture.

The Good Is To Be Done Because It Is Good, Not Because It Goes Somewhere

May 1, 2016

The Washington Post headlined the passing of Daniel Berrigan (Daniel J. Berrigan, pacifist priest who led antiwar protests, dies at 94, Colman McCarthy, 4-30-16). Politics from the past involving figures not noted today. The cliché is that history is written by the winners, those who are successful. After the various comings and goings of success in the last twenty years, from the first Clinton presidency Dot Com economic hysteria through the Bush years financial meltdown to “What do we do with the Basket Building?” and today’s “it’s not the economy, stupid!” presidential politics, Analysis can’t help but wonder how, or what kind of history can or will be written. Within that context it was refreshing to read the obituary. An obituary refreshing? Several days prior, PBS Newshour ran a segment entitled “Artist Theaster Gates turns Chicago’s empty spaces into incubators for culture” (4-26-16). The end of the interview brought the following exchange:

“JEFFREY BROWN: His newest project, undertaken in his position as director of arts and publics life at the nearby University of Chicago, extends the idea to an entire city block, a burgeoning art block in the Washington Park neighborhood. It includes an arts incubator for cultural groups and classes in woodworking and more for young people.

THEASTER GATES: As you finish high school and go to college, come back for the summer, go back to college, come back after you graduate, that it’s really that relationship that will make these buildings work over time.

JEFFREY BROWN: There’s also a cafe and a bookstore where musicians regularly perform. On the drawing table, a large performance space for plays and concerts. And what’s the idea behind it, an anchor or an engine to grow, or how do you see it?

THEASTER GATES: So, maybe words like engines and anchors are good words. But I think first it needed to just be a place where culture could happen, that before we had to think about it as an economic generator or a cultural anchor, it’s just like, can I have a place to rehearse my play?

JEFFREY BROWN: Simple? Yes.

THEASTER GATES: Yes, absolutely. Can we have a place to make our music? Can our kids learn art here?” Gates final words in the interview:

“THEASTER GATES: What I love about art is that the power of the symbolic work has so much potential to do more than the thing on the ground. And so I think about ripples. I think about affect. I think about symbolism. But I don’t think that there are limits on what’s possible. Not only do poor people have a right to beautiful things, but people have the right not to be poor anymore. And I think that that feels like it’s worth making art about and fighting for.” (from the transcript)

Analysis finds this outlook, this reasoning to resonate with what Daniel Berrigan has to say at the conclusion of McCarthy’s obit: “In a 2008 interview in the Nation magazine, Father Berrigan echoed a line of Mother Teresa’s that spiritual people should be more concerned about being faithful than being successful.

“The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere,” he said. “I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. . . . I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanely and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.””

A New Normal Christmas Carol

December 3, 2015

(This is a re-post from 12-19-14)

The previous post (The New Normal 12-16-14) left Analysis in a most dystopian Yule time reverie. The religious admonition is to beat swords into plowshares. Christmas present indicated otherwise. The spirit of Christmas present toasted the excellent success of marketing firearms and ordinance to all. Plowshares are being beaten into swords. Small wonder law enforcement is becoming paramilitary. Christmas present disclosed there is a 50/50 chance that someone is carrying. Christmas past stepped in to remind Analysis of the NRA’s admonition that a world where all did carry would be a respectful one, filled with courtesy and deference. Christmas future pointed to a world where everyone assumes the other actually is carrying. Analysis found that everyone Christmas future showed had only one arm. The other hand tightly grasped the gun they carried. Analysis recounted that disease is always prevalent, that many ill procrastinate or simply do not wish to admit infirmity, and that mental and emotional disorders are very real maladies afflicting a given percentage of the US population at any given time. Christmas future showed it was only “common sense” to “be prepared”, vigilant for the ever present possibility of others using the firearms they carried inauspiciously, unannounced. No matter where the spirit of Christmas future pointed – the work place, the home, the halls of education or government – no one would collaborate, help or work with each other. It was impossible to “lend a hand” for these citizens of the future only had one. Without that hand, they would be completely disarmed. The spirit showed a citizenry where each was completely responsible for their own life. No one would assist the other. Releasing the gun hand’s grip meant losing the ability to defend one’s self, something now totally necessary given the future this spirit exposed. Analysis begged to be taken back.

“Last night I had a dream about reality.
It was such a relief to wake up.”
(Stanislaw J. Lec)

Beam Me Up, Scotty

November 18, 2015

Eliza Collins reports “Kasich calls for new federal agency to promote Judeo-Christian values” on Politico, Tuesday November 17, 2015. That day Ohio’s presidential wannabe Governor appeared at the National Press Club in our capital, and later interviewed with the peacock network, NBC. Collins quotes from the press club: “”U.S. public diplomacy and international broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation,” Kasich said. “I will consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core, Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association.”” With NBC he continues “”We need to beam messages around the world about what it means to have Western ethics … to be part of a Judeo-Christian society,”” Analysis finds this just all too rich for anyone living in Ohio during the Kasich years. Does he intend to expand the size of government? Replace the internet as the global exchange for information and ideas? Embrace Pastafarians? Is this an endorsement of Common Core? Nonetheless, the right to look was, once again, not included. Issue 2’s passing and all, still makes only a few “private” individuals privy to the inner workings of JobsOhio. Part of western ethics?

The New Normal

October 2, 2015

[This is an Analysis re blog originally posted 12-15-14]

It has been two years since Sandy Hook. In Columbus Ohio shootings are a regular feature of each night’s news. Nationally, mass shootings, involving many victims, are now likewise pretty regular reporting, be it for reasons job related, domestic incidents or just totally incomprehensible subjective malfeasance. But let us speak of other things. Refrigerators are pretty ubiquitous. Who hasn’t got one? Usually they are used to store food. Sometimes medicine, sometimes cold cash (like the corrupt politician in New Orleans some year back), sometimes paintbrushes or chemicals, fishing bait, etc. I mean, if you got the thing, and it is right there, why not? Equally ubiquitous are motor vehicles like cars, motorcycles, ATV’s, OK – golf carts and riding mowers. Take a spin? No problem. Feeling a little down or edgy? Go out cruising the highways to clear your head. Hormones coursing through your bod? The car is right there. Likewise news reports of teen age drivers “too” happy getting in wrecks, of people “too” drunk doing likewise, of road rage and domestic assaults, etc. The vehicle is right there, like the frig. Why not? On a par with frig’s and cars would be mobile communication devices. Cell phones, smart phones, etc. are totally ubiquitous. Lonely? Just need to touch base? Kill time? Be sexy? Arrange a meeting? Change a plan? Let someone know what you think? Vent? Bloviate? Slander? Spread lies, gossip or rumor? Threaten? Etc. The phone is right there. Why not? Besides, we all have a right to free speech, don’t we? Can’t take that away from those sending texts. Threats to free speech are usually accompanied by, you guessed it, more speech! In an essay entitled “The Death of Gun Control: An American Tragedy” Charles W. Collier writes “In the course of any given year (twelve-month prevalence), some 26 percent of the adult population of the US meets the criteria for suffering from at least one “mental disorder.” [footnote references Ronald C. Kessler et al. “Prevalence, Severity and Comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication,” Archives of General Psychiatry 62; 619 June 2005] With civilian gun ownership at around 47 percent, this means that well over 10 percent of the population suffers from a mental disorder and owns a firearm, which works out to something on the order of thirty million people (again using the most conservative estimates). This prevalence of mental disorders, gun ownership, and their combination – these all count as “normal,” in a sociological context.” (Critical Inquiry Autumn 2014 pg. 111) Collier footnoted a Gallup self reported gun ownership poll from October 2011. A recent Pew Poll reports that 52 percent of Americans say protecting gun ownership is more important than restricting it.