Monday, May 02, 2005

And Then...

...We All Bought Towels.

It's been a while, yeah?

So the semester is over. Vegas was visited, and we all bought towels. I understand that it has been a while since I have updated what--I'm sure--is everyone's favorite web site. And, indeed, there have been quite a few things on my mind since we last spoke. So here they go, in no particular order:

1. I woke up the other day to go to work. Not a stunning feat all on it's own, but there's more... While I was eating oatmeal and waiting for my car to warm up. (Just in case any of you DON'T know, young Vicky is a very finicky lady.) While this was going on I decided to edify myself with a little bit of television. And what should I happen to catch but the climactic soliloquy from the film adaptation of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. If you have neither seen, nor read, this little gem I would suggest it to all. As the story goes, there is a young architect who refuses to compromise his style and ideas to the modern will and whimsy. The message that has so endeared this book to me is that of personal achievement and accountability. I believe that everyone [every adult] is, or should be, responsible for themselves. This includes the notion that those who can and do achieve should be held accountable because others have not. Could multinational conglomerates exploit the workers in foreign lands if they could find no willing workers--at any cost--in those countries? Probably not. Is personal achievement different from greed? I think so. Especially where The Fountainhead is concerned, in that the message is not about acquisition of wealth, but rather not being willing to give up your beliefs simply because someone else tries to force you to. I think that people should be able to believe and behave how they desire, so long as it does not hurt another person. Which brings us to a second question...

2. I was at a sort of dinner party last night where the game of Scatergories was being played. I was a willing participant in the game and enjoying myself when a moral question was raised. the clue was "Things that jump/bounce" the letter was "R", and my answer was "Retarded Kids". A question was raised concerning the propriety of this answer. To be frank, one of the other contestants suggested that I be denied the point, not because--in this case--the word "retarded" is an adjective and therefore modifies the noun, "kids", but rather because my answer was thought to be "tacky". At the time I thought it best not to create a row and did not make an issue of the refused point. However, upon further review I began to wonder... Is it more "tacky" (a word that I hate because somehow it never fails to remind me of Joan Rivers) to refer to these mentally disabled people in the context of things that jump and/or bounce, which indeed they do, or to assume that they are somehow lesser beings, in need of protection from life and "name calling"? So many groups who are somehow seen as "different" wish only to be treated as equals in the human race. That being the case, should punches be pulled because someone is "differently abled", or should you treat them in the same way you might treat anyone else that you deal with on a day to day basis? I kind of suspect that it is the same type of person who desires that someone with a developmental disability should be treated with kid gloves (in other words, not as an equal, but as someone to be sheltered, protected, or otherwise made to feel different) and also recoils from homeless persons in horror. Now, maybe it was a bit gauche for me to use that particular modifier in a board game, but it did bring to light the broader philosophical question of whether treating people differently helps or hurts in the end. For me, the jury is still out, but I do lean towards treating everyone the same, regardless of who they are. It may be cruel, but it might also be the only fair way to do business.

Okay, that is all for right now, because I am tired, but there will be more shortly, I assure you. Because, summer is here, and I'll have to vent somewhere. Ta Da!

-A.R. Leith

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