The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, September 15, 2006

Misc. Thoughts

1) Someone asked what I thought of TV Reality Show “Survivor’s” race-based tribes.  Well, separate from social context, it’s just good marketing.  It sure got people talking, didn’t it?  In social context, it is somewhat problematic just in terms of the entire production.  I’d have more confidence in the concept if the creative team behind it was also mixed ethnically—which I sincerely doubt. 

People will tend to cheer for “their” group, and feel somewhat guilty about it.  80% of the winners thus far have been, I believe, white males. One black female.  You’d go broke betting that a black guy was going to win on that show anytime soon.  I don’t believe I ever watched an episode, but would be lying if I didn’t admit to wondering how it would all shake out.

And it is this automatic tendency to side with "your" tribe that makes it imperative that we remain aware of our small actions, which multiplied across millions of people create hideous results. And always have.  And always will, if we refuse to see the truth about both the positive and negative aspects of human nature.

2) Torture in the news. Thank God that Republicans are starting to wake up that they don’t have to march in lock-step with the White House, even if I’m cynical enough to think they’re mostly doing that because of the mid-term elections.  I wouldn’t want to live in a country that had torturing suspects as S.O.P.  I just wouldn’t.  That’s not the America I grew up loving. 

On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed watching Jack Bauer torture suspects.  What’s the difference?  He’s fantasy, and he’s never ever wrong.  If he was wrong ONCE, it would stop being entertaining. 

And in real life, you are absolutely, positively certain of getting it wrong X% of the time.  Period.

But what if a nuclear bomb was going to go off in Los Angeles, and I had to torture someone to get the info?  I’ve been asked this, and my answer is, hell yes I’d torture someone to get the information.   Or kill.  But I wouldn’t want my actions to be legal.  I’d be prepared to be jailed or executed for what I did to save my family, friends, and millions of others.  I could live with that, if it had to be done.   But I wouldn’t want it to be legal.

3) My thoughts on the draft.  I think almost anyone would say that there were circumstances under which it is reasonable for a country to demand its citizens fight in its defense. This principle has worked pretty well, for a long long time.  My thought is this: whatever standards you have for that circumstance, we should fight a war for nothing less.  Our definitions of that circumstance will vary.  But I honestly believe that we shouldn’t be willing to go to war for anything that wouldn’t be worth the death of our own children.  And I think the Iraq adventure was begun on a much “lower” standard.  I have simply heard too many people speak as if the lives of volunteers are less important than the lives of draftees.  And I think that down that road lies the death of our national character. 

To put it more simply: it wasn’t worth a draft?  It wasn’t worth fighting.  I tie those two together, yes indeed I do.

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