Those Annoying Regulations

I wouldn’t be a politician for all the tea in China; they can’t win for losing. A case in point is the matter of regulations. Obama is criticized by the conservatives for being “regulation-happy” when according to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs he has been responsible for fewer regulations than any president since 1992 — a fact which brings criticism from the political left which thinks there should be more, not fewer, regulations.

Even more interesting is the fact that in an election year large numbers of regulations that have been passed simply sit somewhere in an office in Washington “wrapped in red tape” “under review” waiting for “experts” to move them along. They are in limbo and aren’t part of the warp and woof of our political world. They have been passed but haven’t yet been passed, if you catch my drift. This year, for example, a number of so-called “expensive” regulations — those that might reduce the profits of the large corporations and further weaken the economy (along with some that are regarded as “controversial”) simply gather dust waiting further review, even though they have been passed and approved. These regulations, according to USA Today (July 27, 2012), include such things as “four rules required under last-year’s updated food-safety law.. .[including] improved controls at food processing facilities and stricter standards on imported foods.” In addition, waiting activation are regulations to reduce exposure to silica dust, regulations to require rear-view cameras in automobiles, and the like. Some regulations would appear to be essential to our health while others seem a bit esoteric and even pointless. But they have not been activated because this is an election year and someone might get upset — someone with a fat check book. This tells us who carries weight in Washington, in case we were in doubt.

Liberals want more and tougher regulations and see the important ones gathering dust and complain loudly. But they carry little political clout so their collective voices are not heard. The corporations do not want the “expensive” regulations passed — such as the regulation to reduce silica dust — because they will cut into profits and therefore hurt the economy. This is the familiar argument that regulations (the result of an overgrown government) cut into profits resulting in cut-backs and “downsizing” (not to mention outsourcing) and the economy is further crippled. Here we have the old bifurcation fallacy: either jobs or the economy. I have discussed this error here and here. Despite the fact that it is a flawed argument, it is heard, of course. This is most interesting: politicians have determined that the economy is more important than health and human welfare. And apparently we agree with them because we keep electing the fools.

Until the regulations have been fully “reviewed” and approved they cannot be put into effect even though passed by the Congress. And since the mid-term elections the current  Administration has been reluctant to pass along many regulations and the best guess is that it will be quite a while — at least until after the elections — before the regulations are put into effect, especially the “expensive” regulations. And this despite the fact that regulations that are pending could help improve our quality of life and reduce health risks, such as heart and respiratory problems that result from poor air quality.

We need to reconsider what we mean by the word “expensive.” Some things may cost money, but even when it is a great deal of money it is cheaper than poor health and early death from causes that could be eliminated or reduced through government regulations — especially those that have been passed but are “pending” until further review — i.e., until it becomes politically expedient to move them along.


My Friend Danny

I met “Danny” over forty years ago when we first moved to this little town. He taught math and science in the local high school and he loved to play chess. He worked for a superintendent named Brundleson the kids called “the Nazi.” Brundleson liked to brag that he “ran a tight ship.” Every day Danny and the other teachers would have to walk in to the man’s office and smile and greet him with a handshake. If any teacher dared to utter a word of criticism at any point, he or she was gone. Danny wanted to start a chess club and wasn’t allowed to do so as the parents would think they were doing drugs, Brundleson said. Danny wanted to take his biology students across the road to examine pond life in a small lake nearby, but he was not allowed to because of the danger of crossing the road. Yeah, a “tight ship.”

Anyway, Danny lasted a couple of years and then moved away and after a year of travel he ended up in Appleton, Wisconsin teaching math in a middle school and, with his wife, running an “ABC” house that boarded students from around the country who were being deprived of an opportunity to get a good education by virtue of their social circumstances; they were transferred to cities like Appleton, Wisconsin. Denny and his wife took care of the eight students in addition to their full-time jobs. They were parents, tutors and friends.

As you may be starting to figure out, Danny was one who has given of himself all his life. He is one of the gentlest, most caring people I have ever met. He finds himself by losing himself in the lives of other people. After forty years in Wisconsin, he retired and decided to walk the Appalachian Trail — the whole trail from bottom to top. And he did it. After that he moved to Arkansas and started his retirement. But he read that an “Alternative School” for disadvantaged students needed teachers so he decided to go back to work. He has done that for eight years, working from 7:00 A.M. until 4:30 P.M. each week day, teaching math at all levels, breaking up fights, taking weapons from angry boys, counseling them, and generally being their friend. His wife has been after him to quit as the job is dangerous: many of the kids he works with are marginal criminals; all are “problem kids” that are sent to the schools because they don’t “fit in” anywhere else. Or they have been let out on parole and one condition of their freedom is attending school. It is dangerous work, indeed. But Danny feels it is important and he doesn’t see retirement in his future any time soon even though he is already drawing Social Security.

The man is one of the most balanced people I have ever met. To be sure, things bother him. He is concerned about politics and global warming. But he tends to channel that concern and focus on what he can take care of — the problem at hand. He never seems to get riled up. He is calm and collected. I expect that explains his success with troubled kids. He is like an oasis in a desert. It’s what attracts people to him, and he has many friends. But above all else, he is a person who has spent his life giving himself to others. And it seems to make him happy. Perhaps that is the secret: we benefit most by giving ourselves to others. It sounds selfish, but it is not: it is the heart of altruism — and Christian love.

Death and Taxes

My mom used to say (over and over) “there’s nothing certain but death and taxes.” OK I get it. But apparently other people’s moms didn’t tell them that. Growing numbers of people in this nation want to stop taxation altogether. “Taxed Enough Already” says the group, the so-called Tea Party. And whether or not one takes the extreme view, it is certainly the case that a great many people in this country (most?) want taxes to be reduced and social programs cut to the bone. Though most I have spoken with and read insist that the bone has already been exposed, this is not adequate for those determined to cut even deeper.

The truth of the matter, has been explained by my fellow blogger “musingsofanoldfart” — a former Republican who woke up to the lies that are being broadcast by that political party (and, yes, there are lies being broadcast by the Democrats as well. It’s the name of the game these days: tell them what they want to hear and don’t worry if it isn’t true). “Musings” tells us that

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, who has measured overall taxes as a percent of GDP in 34 countries for over forty-five years, the US is one of the least taxed countries in the world. Of these 34 countries, the US ranks 32nd in terms of most taxes. Our average tax rate pf 24.1% of GDP in 2009 is almost 10%of GDP lower than the average of these 34 countries of 33.8%. When  our budget was last balanced in 2000, the year before Bush took office, our rate was still much less than the average. We also are at our lowest tax rates in over 50 years in the US. The truth is any politician can get elected saying he or she will lower taxes, yet we need sober discussions now regarding raising taxes as well as cutting spending as recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Plan.

It’s hard to accept that we are taxed lower than almost every other developed country because it is being drummed into our heads daily by the Tea-Partiers and their friends that our taxes are too high and need to be cut — or at least held to their present level. Why? To save each of us a few dollars every year. Are we really that selfish? Further cutting social programs that help those in need — no matter how many abuses of social programs the nay-sayers can point to — would suggest that we are a wealthy country that ignores its own citizens in need. As those in need become more numerous and more genuinely needy we begin to take on aspects of a third-world country. I cannot believe that people really want that. It is one thing to have RVs and second homes in the Berkshires; it is another to have enough money to put food on the table or have adequate health care. We are not talking about “standard of living” here, we are talking about life or death.

This country was founded on the principle that government exists for “the common good” — not the good of the 1% or the corporations that make them wealthy, or the fools who mouth platitudes about cutting taxes. All of us should want adequate health care and the knowledge that the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink are safe. Even those who have no children should want this country to have sound educational system that will turn out intelligent and informed citizens. I remember having a discussion with an elderly single women who had no children who thought she should not have to support education with her tax money. That is bullocks! We all need to support education — and welfare; and health programs, the whole ball of wax. We need it in order to be a healthy country that continues to care about “the common good” and does not place selfish interests (like saving a few tax dollars) above the interests of the whole.

Climate Change and “Gen-X”

I recently read a fascinating article on the weather site. Apparently so-called “Generation X-ers”  (people born between 1961 and 1981) don’t particularly care about climate change. As the article notes,

Who is Generation X?
They’re the Americans who “grew up with MTV, Nirvana, and the dot-com bubble,” says The Atlantic. These individuals are better educated than their parents and work longer hours. They sit on their children’s school boards and are often active in their communities. “But, when it comes to climate change, Gen Xers voice a resounding ‘meh.'”

There are a number of reasons for this laissez-faire attitude apparently: information overload, economic worries, and problems with raising families, among others. But it is surprising that those in this group, most of whom are well educated — or at least schooled beyond the norm — seem to be unconcerned about an issue that should be of great concern to us all. And this is especially so since the weather news lately suggests that the problem is no longer a remote one but has arrived in our own back yards.

Social scientists have referred to this generation of young people as the “me” generation, which suggests a tendency to center their attention around themselves and their own immediate needs and wants. A number of readers who comment on my blogs seem to be “Generation X-ers” and they are almost to a person exceptions to this rule. In addition, I have two sons in this group and one of them (at least) is very concerned about what is going on around him. There are obviously Generation X-ers who care deeply about what is going on in the world, including challenges to the environment and the radical changes in the climate. But apparently, if polls are to be believed, the people I come into contact with are the exception. And this does not bode well. In order to solve a problem, we much first perceive that it is a problem. If there are growing numbers of people who ignore the problem it gives one pause.

But, one might say, there is hope among the “Generation Y-ers,” those who were born after 1981 and are now growing into their adult years and who are reputed to be deeply concerned about the world around them. Not so. A major study in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which I alluded to in a blog back on March 22nd, suggest this generation, also called the “millennials,” care even less than their parents do about their world and turn their collective back on problems that demand our attention and our concern. The study reveals that, in fact, these young people are increasingly preoccupied with “money, image, and fame.” Thus the problem is compounded.

As far back as 1979 Christopher Lasch was describing our “Culture of Narcissism” in his best-selling book by that name. So the fact that many in our culture are preoccupied with themselves and their own problems is not new. These recent studies simply suggest that the problem has deep roots, perhaps even deeper than Lasch suspected. But given the fact mentioned above — that there are a number of very capable young people in these age groups — and given that preoccupation with self is natural when one is young and especially when one is trying to raise a family in a weak economy, awareness of the dangers of climate change may come eventually to these age groups. The problem seems so huge one tends to become a bit overwhelmed, especially when there are other problems close at hand that demand attention.

I would expect that when climate change begins to affect these people in the pocketbook — at the gas pump and the grocery store, they will realize that action is necessary. At that point they could become a formidable force and when the sleeping giant awakes (s)he may wreak havoc with the status quo. Let us hope so. In the meantime, the only formidable force in our nation today is the power of great wealth and for the most part the wealthy don’t give a tinker’s dam about climate change. Let us hope there is soon a resounding collision between the two forces.

Scouts’ Good Deed

The decision recently of a number of Eagle Scouts to return their merit badges to the National Council in protest over the recent decision not to allow gays into the Boy Scouts of America has drawn considerable attention. A recent story in Huffington Post begins with the following paragraph:

A letter penned by a former Eagle Scout who returned his badge to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in an act of protest against the organization’s decision to uphold its anti-gay policy is going viral in the blogosphere.

This is indeed a big deal. The scout in question, Martin Cizman is only one of a growing number of Eagle Scouts who are returning their badges. As a former scout who never made it to that level of scouting I recall how difficult it was and how many years it took to attain the heights of Eagle Scout and I respect the principles of those who are returning their badges and in effect turning their backs on an organization that has acted with a closed mind and narrow vision.

In this day and age, when even the armed forces recognize the rights of gay people to participate it is reactionary nonsense for any organization to deny the rights of any young man or woman to join and participate with his or her friends.

It is also interesting to see that a number of blogs, including one called “Scouting For All,” have appeared discouraging the scouts from returning their badges because, it is felt, it will do no good whatever. As the source mentioned put it, “We believe that the BSA officials don’t deserve them because they promote a policy of discrimination and likely would not even care if they received them.” Apparently the minds of those who run the organization are closed to what they apparently regard as sexual deviation and they are unaware that this is the 21st Century and that sort of bigotry is no longer the order of the day. In fact, the number of young men joining the Boy Scouts is lessening and one wonder if the narrowness of vision of the leadership might not be a large part of the reason for this phenomenon.

As Martin Cizman noted in his letter to the BSA National Office, “A national policy on sexuality forces good, principled people from scouting,” . . . “I can only hope that someone inside the BSA has the courage to fix this policy before the organization withers into irrelevance.”

I am one who is quick to point out the foibles of my fellow humans, I must be equally quick to note the good things that we also do from time to time. And this is certainly one of those times. Acting on a sound moral principle to take to task an organization that preaches that its boys be “morally straight” [their words, not mine], is worthy of a loud Hurrah! Well done Martin and friends.

Paterno As Scapegoat

In the wake of the massive penalties levied against Penn State by the NCAA there was shock and dismay in State College recently. An astonishing number of people still cannot accept the fact that Joe Paterno was part of the cover-up of his assistant coach’s  attacks on young boys. A reporter for ESPN mentioned that a number of people he spoke with regard Paterno as a scapegoat who is being made to take the blame for errors in judgment by those above him.

Apparently they haven’t been paying attention: they haven’t read or heard about the Freeh report in which is was made clear that the man not only knew about Sandusky’s behavior as early as 1998, but was unwilling to report the behavior to his superiors upon first hearing of it because it was a Friday and he didn’t want to disturb authorities on the weekend!  And he continued to stonewall as boys continued to be attacked in his own facility which he ruled over with absolute power.

There is such a thing as denial, and this may simply be such a case: group denial. But there is also such a thing as stupidity and I suspect this is closer to what we have here. I understand it would be hard for those who held Paterno in very high regard to admit that he is guilty as sin — not because they believe he was above suspicion, but because it would mean that they were wrong about the man. We have more trouble assimilating this sort of shock when it’s about ourselves, and those who thought Paterno was a Saint (yes, that’s what has been reported) must have suffered quite a shock to their reality principle as they were very wrong.

For years I sat on a committee at my university that heard student appeals after they had received poor grades and were dismissed for academic reasons. Students had the opportunity to try to convince a committee of fellow-students and faculty that there were extenuating reasons for their failure and some of them were at times given another semester to get their grades up to par. One of my close academic friends on the committee was an economist and we often looked at one another in dismay as we heard about dead grandmothers, broken promises, sick girlfriends (or cats), and a host of other excuses that the students tended to fall back upon with remarkable regularity. One of the most common lines of defense was the argument that the student had a learning disability. Students would usually appear in front of the committee with the head of the “Learning Resources Center” who would attest to the student’s inability to read and write because of this supposed “learning disability.” Some of them had legitimate disabilities and we usually took pity on them. But one day after hearing this excuse for the umpteenth time from a student who was clearly grasping at straws my friend looked at me and said “stupidity is also a learning disability.” He was right on. There are legitimate learning disabilities, but there are also hollow excuses. And once you have heard a few you learn to recognize them. There is such a thing as stupidity.

We believe what we want to believe and we insist those things are true that make us comfortable. This seems to be human nature and we are all a bit guilty of this tendency. Instead of looking at the evidence and working through it with our critical faculties, we jump to the closest comfortable conclusion and cling to it for dear life. It’s hard to let go. But at some point it is just plain stupid to continue to deny the plain truth when it is staring you in the face.

Joe Paterno was involved in the Sandusky scandal up to his bushy eyebrows and thick spectacles. And while we can understand how difficult it is for those who held him in high regard to admit it, we must wonder at their unwillingness to succumb to a truth so glaringly apparent. There is denial, which is to be expected. Then there is learning disability, which is legitimate in many cases. And then there is just plain stupidity.

The Statue

You have probably heard they removed the statue of Joe Paterno at Penn State and put it in “a safe place” somewhere:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State University will remove the famed statue of Joe Paterno outside its football stadium, eliminating a key piece of the iconography surrounding the once-sainted football coach accused of burying child sex abuse allegations against a retired assistant.

I must confess I have been of two minds on this issue for some time. I recently wrote in a blog that the statue should not be removed because its removal would be a falsification of events: it is a rewriting of history. Like it or not, Joe Paterno spent the best part of his life at Penn State and had a tremendous impact on countless lives –both positive and, as we now know, negative. His football teams were a model for the rest of the country, or so it seemed. But in light of recent events and the pivotal role Paterno played in the fourteen-year cover up of his assistant coach’s attacks on young boys, I now think the President of the University is making the correct decision.

I was persuaded by an outstanding editorial in a recent issue (July 23, 2012) of Sports Illustrated that reminded me of something I said in print a number of years ago: the purpose of a university is not to promote football (or sports in general) it is to educate young people. As I said in an article in The Montana Professor: The tail wags the dog at the Division I level. Sports play a disproportionately large role in the university in our day. Perhaps this was a wake-up call to restore instruction to its proper place at the center of the university. In the case of Penn State and its football program, the editors of Sports Illustrated put it very well:

Why not instead [of cancelling the football program] have Penn Staters create the program they always claimed to have? Football is supposed to enhance the academic experience at Penn State as part of Paterno’s Grand Experiment. The school can stop selling the idea and implement it. Use football for a more concrete cause: Profits from the coming season could be diverted to create a facility to study and destigmatize child sex abuse.

I had suggested in my earlier blog a monument to the children who suffered at the hands of Jerry Sandusky, but this is an even better idea: a living reminder of the atrocities that man committed on that campus in memory of the young boys who were the victims. And a program such as the one mentioned here could do immeasurable good in the face of the many terrible events that occurred repeatedly in the last fourteen years on that campus.

Football should never have been allowed to take the place of honor it took at Penn State. No coach should have been allowed to have the power and influence that Joe Paterno had in State College. But as horrendous as this scandal was, we all know this is just the tip of the iceberg. So much money is involved in NCAA Division I football that corruption is rampant on college campuses all across the country as football is given pride of place and education is forced to take a back seat. Let me give you a tiny example of the kind of disproportionate place football has on a college campus, in this case a small university campus involving a small football program with little or no money at stake.

When I was named men’s tennis coach at the University of Rhode Island many years ago I was approached within days by an assistant football coach who informed me that they would be sending their players to my classes from then on so I could “take care of them.” I didn’t know what to say, so I just stared dumbly and smiled. These memories percolated recently when I read the comments made by the janitors who witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a young boy and were afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. In my case, the issue died, fortunately, as I left the university soon thereafter. But I felt the kind of pressure any young person would feel in a large institution when his job is in jeopardy. One can imagine how the faculty feel at a large university where the football coach is king and members of his team are the privileged few. The tail does indeed wag the dog.

It makes sense to remove the statue of Joe Paterno from the Penn State Campus. But  it also makes sense not to deify the football coach on other campuses across the country and not to allow the football program to be the focus of what is going on at that university. We have not heard the last about the scandal at Penn State. As I write this the NCAA is preparing to levy strict penalties against this particular university, to make an example of it as it were. But there are potential scandals aplenty “out there” on other campuses and levying penalties and removing statues — while entirely appropriate — are hardly more than small steps toward restoring the proper order of things at our universities.

Hellfire and Brimstone

There is a fascinating three-minute You Tube segment making the circuit on the internet these days. In pitch black, it reveals a blacksmith working on red-hot iron in front of a roaring fire while music beats out a pulsating rhythm and a series of messages appears across the screen. We can only see the blacksmith from the glare of the fire: he is somewhat indistinct, but he yields a heavy hammer with a fierce expression on his face. The message is designed to inform the Catholic audience how they should vote this Fall. As the blacksmith pounds the red-hot metal, sentences appear out of the dark, remain on the screen for a few moments and then disappear.

It begins with a couple of sentences: “The Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. This generation of Catholics must do the same.” Note the oblique reference to the past coupled with strong language, including the words “sacred rights,” “always,” and “must” to dictate behavior. I’m not certain what is being referred to when we are told that the faithful have always stood up and protected “her sacred rights.” But perhaps others know exactly what this means. In any event, the message goes on slowly while the blacksmith pounds away and words appear and disappear into the fire, words like “Marriage,” “Life,” and “Freedom.” Familiar words accompanied by powerful images and relentless, pulsating music. Frightening, really.

We are told that “This November Catholics across the nation will be put to the test. . . Many issues are at stake but some issues are not negotiable. Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined.” Again, note the careful choice of words: “not negotiable.” Furthermore, “Forcing the Church to buy insurance that goes against her teachings is a violation of religious freedom.. . .When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental one shudders to think what lies ahead.” Here’s the classic “slippery slope”: one thing leads invariably to another, each worse than its predecessor — assuming we know what “forcing the Church to buy insurance” means. In any event, it is a “fundamental freedom,” and Catholics must resist the government’s attempts to deny religious freedom even though the Church here would deny the freedom of choice to its believers. There’s something afoot. The beat goes on….

We are told “Your vote will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?” This is a powerful and, as I say, a frightening (if not threatening) message, complete with the suggestion of eternal damnation accompanied by flames. One wonders what will come next.

Our Constitution defends the right of free speech — which the Supreme Court says extends to corporations. The Catholic Church is a corporation, among other things, and it follows that the Church also has a right to free speech. So there are no sound political grounds for objecting to this message. But there are sound philosophical and even moral reasons why messages should not be geared to the lowest, most base, elements of the human psyche — why a three-minute message should engage in appeals to fear and the threat of eternal damnation should the viewer ignore the commands put forward. As I say, it is precisely the freedom of the viewer that is denied since the message makes it very clear what is to be done without question and in doing so appeals to the baser emotions.

Please note, it is not the message itself that I object to. We all know what the Catholic Church’s stand has been on the issues of marriage, life, and freedom. I respect the right of any person to believe anything they want to believe as long as they don’t interfere with my right to agree or disagree with them. Further, the Church has always seen its role as that of dictating moral choices to the faithful. But fear of eternal damnation is a type of force. And succumbing to force negates freedom. No one is free to do what they must do.

Even if we acknowledge that the Church has always spoken ex cathedra regarding the behavior of its followers, the manner in which this particular message is delivered would deny even the most faithful the right to act in accordance with the dictates of the Church by choice or conscience. In a word, it denies their fundamental humanity, which is predicated on a person’s ability to say “no.” As I say the message is frightening; no one should be coerced into action through fear. The end does not justify the means.

Grist For The Mill

I am breaking two pledges to myself this morning. First, I was not going to add my voice to the hysteria surrounding the shooting in Aurora, Colorado yesterday. Secondly, I was going to take a day off from blogging to reflect on the events of that dreadful day. But here I go, adding grist to the mill.

The event itself has been covered in depth by the media and we will be hearing again and again about the “tragedy” — that overused and misunderstood word — until we are sick of it. There will be calls for gun laws — as there should be when a young man can walk into a store and buy an automatic weapon that fires off “50 -60 rounds in a minute” — not to mention the other weapons he had in his possession. We will be hearing from his neighbors what a “nice young man” he was — a “bit quiet” and “a loner.” At this point no one knows why James Holmes did what he did, as though you could probe the motivations in a sick mind and come up with anything that makes sense.

But what astonished me most as I watched CBS News last night with mouth agape and wonder in my eyes was the interviews with some of the people who were there. One young man in particular was interviewed carrying a three-month old baby and standing next to his wife and two young children. It occurred to me: what on earth was this man thinking taking those young children — and that baby — to a movie at midnight that promised to be violent from beginning to end? What is the matter with us that such a thing would seem perfectly normal?

We don’t know for sure whether watching violence makes us violent, though there is considerable evidence that there is a connection, if not a causal relationship. All animals learn from imitation and humans are animals. It follows that we also learn from imitation. And if we see violence on TV, in the movies, and in our video games hour after hour it would be reasonable to infer that we might be encouraged to walk into a store, buy an automatic rifle and a couple of handguns with some of our extra cash, and plan a shooting. The wonder is that it doesn’t happen more often!

The gentleman who moderated the news program began the show by calling this the “largest killing in the history of this country.” This is hyperbole if it isn’t downright false. What about the killing of thousands of native people? What about the Civil War? What about our long history of killing one another? We are a violent people and have been since we landed on this continent. No one quite knows why though I do think it has to do with our tendency to solve problems with weapons rather than with our minds — comparing our detective shows with those that come out of Britain, for example. And it also has to do with the escalation of violence in the media that surrounds us on every side, as Michael Moore suggested when he probed the causes of the Columbine shooting. But I don’t profess to know THE cause. I just know that the climate we live in promotes violence and when it occurs as it did in Aurora, Colorado on July 20,2012 we shouldn’t be too surprised — though we should most assuredly reflect deeply on the implications of such acts.