MUSIC is not tangible. You can’t eat it, drink it or mate with it. It doesn’t protect against the rain, wind or cold. It doesn’t vanquish predators or mend broken bones. And yet humans have always prized music — or well beyond prized, loved it.In the modern age we spend great sums of money to attend concerts, download music files, play instruments and listen to our favorite artists whether we’re in a subway or salon. But even in Paleolithic times, people invested significant time and effort to create music, as the discovery of flutes carved from animal bones would suggest.So why does this thingless “thing” — at its core, a mere sequence of sounds — hold such potentially enormous intrinsic value?
Music, for me, is therapeutic. It relieves stress, gives me joy, gets me moving, and often gives me a transcendent spiritual experience. Music crosses boundaries that might never ordinarily be breached. Like birds and whales, we create beautiful sounds to communicate our emotions, with or without words. Music speaks to our souls.
There is an organization called Music and Memory that uses music therapy to help elderly patients with dementia and other cognitive and physical problems. It is amazing to witness the transformation. If you’re looking for a good cause to donate to or have an old iPod you don’t use, remember this worthy group.
The John W. Pope Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank based in Raleigh, N.C., has launched a database targeting people who have been arrested as part of the Moral Monday nonviolent protests at the state legislature.The Civitas Institute was founded by conservative mega-donor and discount-retail mogul Art Pope, now the North Carolina budget director under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, and it was named for Popes father. The nonprofit gets about 94 percent of its funding from the family foundation Pope chairs. That raises questions about the ethics of a public official who’s been a target of the protests being involved in an apparent effort to target the protesters for harassment — or worse.
Legislators would like to ban Tesla electric car sales in the state.
Proposing a requirement that physicians obtain prior approval before prescribing drugs to treat mental illness.
The Civitas database includes arrestees’ names, place of residence, occupation, employer, income information, voter affiliation, mugshot, and other information such as any involvement with interest groups. The group justifies this by saying that the protesters are not representative of NC voters, and want to prove it. Republicans keep asserting that people are being “bussed in” from parts unknown.
Ironically, their own data charts show that the majority of protesters are from NC, mostly from Wake, Orange, Durham, and Mecklenburg counties. Although Republicans keep pointing out that the rallies are organized by the local chapter of the NAACP, once again their own data reveals that the majority of the almost 500 arrestees are middle-aged and elderly white people. Of course, most of the protesters are Democrats and Independents, but there are also quite a few Republicans in the mix as well. I’m not sure why this would seem sinister, as most grassroots movements include like-minded individuals (see Tea Party). Civitas has a handy infographic highlighting the sources of unrest:
Also, contrary to their own assertions that the protesters are looking for handouts, the database reveals that most of those who were arrested have jobs. A large number of them are clergy members and educators. Even reporters who are covering the protests are getting arrested!
The arrestees also seem to make average incomes and are split evenly between male and female. Interesting facts and figures, Civitas!
Now, we haven’t even arrived at the fun part of this interactive website! There is a GAME to play! It’s called “Pick the Protester!” You are shown three mugshots. You get to guess the answer to such questions as “Which one has the last name of _____?” and “Which one is from Orange County?” Good, times, right? Here is a screenshot of one such question:
I’m not convinced that this little venture to discredit the Moral Monday protesters is very effective AT ALL. All it really seems to do is discredit each and every allegation made by Civitas and the far-right loons that have hijacked my state. It also highlights the very racist, classist, and homophobic roots of Art Pope and his ilk. A study by Public Policy Polling shows that even Republicans are unhappy with the current NC legislature.
Here is the official response from Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the NC NAACP on the harassment techniques of Civitas:
Texas lawmakers are attempting to pass one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The proposal, which has just passed the state House of Representatives, will ban abortions after 20 weeks, require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and restrict abortions to surgical centers. Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston called for an exemption for victims of rape or incest, but Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, declared that to be unnecessary, because she has a cure for the pesky rape babies:
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
Laubenberg’s stunningly obtuse understanding of science and the function of “rape kits” does not preclude her ability to decide public policy for the great state of Texas and its inhabitants. The restrictive measures set forth in this proposal will virtually outlaw abortion across the state, as similar measures have done in other states. If the measure passes the Senate, it will forwarded to the desk of Governor Rick Perry, where presumably it will be signed into law.
I read this blog on Pandagon this morning that made me think. Here’s an excerpt:
Free speech entitles you to:
Say what you want to without fear of government censorship or retribution.
Free speech does not entitle you to:
1. An audience. You can say what you want, but people are not actually required to listen to you spew. So, contrary to many, many claims otherwise, your free speech rights are not trampled if someone ignores you, blocks you on Twitter, or refuses to give you a job as a writer or communicator for their organization. National Review isn’t stepping on my free speech rights because they don’t hire me. If your sexism stops you from getting a prominent job in media, that is also not a violation of your rights.
2. To have others host your speech. This is a corollary to the first one. Facebook, blog comment sections, online forums, etc. are just like TV shows, radio shows, and magazines: Their house, their rules. They have built up an audience and they are not obligated to turn around and give you that audience to spew your garbage. Start your own damn website/magazine/forum.
3. To be protected from criticism. I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but free speech protects your right to celebrate rape with your “jokes”, and it also protects my right to call you an asshole for it. Daniel Tosh can think it would be hilarious to watch someone get raped and say so, and I say that makes him a moral monster and a piece of shit. It is not censorship to hurt the tender feelings of people who think rape is hilarious.
I found this a nice little primer on what constitutes “free speech.” I can’t count how many times I have gotten into a debate with someone and they something vile and I call them out on it and they get pissy because I am infringing on their free speech. No. I am not the government coming to your house to arrest you for saying something stupid/infantile/ignorant/offensive. I am exercising MY free speech to tell you that I think you are a piece of shit. End of story.
You can SAY anything you want to. Doesn’t make it moral, just, or even factual. The whole Chic-fil-A gay marriage issue was like that. People were saying that boycotting them for supporting traditional marriage (or denying equal rights to gays-however you want to frame it) was a violation of free speech. Again, no. That was a decision made by consumers to not visit an establishment that openly opposed values that they supported, i.e. equal rights for all Americans.
Every summer in my town, we have a big festival called Bele Chere. Dozens of bands play free shows on one of several stages throughout the downtown area over the three-day weekend. There are hundreds of booths lining the streets that showcase the wares of local artisans and vendors, plus all kinds of food to suit every taste.
It’s a lot of fun for me and my family. But this isn’t really a plug for the festival, though you really should attend if you can, especially if you love music. It just happens to be where I got a firsthand lesson on free speech.
This festival definitely draws out the weirdos and the exhibitionists. It REALLY draws out the Bible-thumpers as well, who I personally lump in with weirdos, but that’s my opinion. We recently had the distinction of being named “the Cesspool of Sin” by State Senator James Forrester, who has sadly passed away. I imagine him looking down on us sinners from a fluffly cloud of righteousness.
So anyway, this REALLY brought out the religious fanatics, who feel the need to both condemn us all as sodomites and satanists.
The people with their GOD HATES FAGS signs stand stoically among the revelers. They also present a photo-op for gay couples, who kiss passionately next to the picketers as a friend snaps a quick photo to post on their Facebook pages.
Others rail against the presence of beer in the streets. They hold up larger than life photos of an actual dead person on the road, brains leaking onto the blacktop, allegedly because he drove drunk. There is also the anti-abortion crowd, who march through the streets holding massive placards depicting photographs of mangled, bloody fetuses and buckets of tiny body parts. Once they placed a tiny, knuckle-sized plastic fetus in my young son’s hand without my permission as we walked by.
Although this festival has its share of loud drunks, occasional cursing, and a few passionate lovers displaying inappropriate PDA, I find these moral police most offensive and destructive to the tender minds of my children. How do explain these things to a five-year-old that I have diligently sheltered from ignorance and hate and in whom I have instilled the values of acceptance, tolerance, and love for her fellow man? It is easy to explain drunkenness and to witness it actually helps them not to want to EVER look so foolish by overindulging. It is ever so much more difficult to talk to a child about why someone is saying that God hates some people. Why is a person who wears a shirt professing that JESUS SAVES yelling at us that we are unfit parents because we are drinking beer? “Why is he saying that, mommy?” I DON’T KNOW!
How DARE they defile my children’s minds with their twisted opinions and their vile hate? I am FURIOUS every single time they dare even look in my direction, let alone address me or my children. These little humans that have never been left in a daycare or with a stranger until they started going to school because of my need to be the one to shape their character-they are the most precious things in the world to me.
A few years ago, in a fury, I demanded that a police officer make them take down the bloody image of a dead man. I thought that it was a violation of my rights to have to see it. My children had never even been allowed to see a violent movie. The only dead person they had ever seen was at a funeral of an elderly aunt. The officer calmly explained that it was not possible and would be a violation of their free speech rights to force them to take it down. “But what about MY rights?” I exclaimed. “Ma’am, I’m sorry, I understand, but it’s the law.” It’s not really in my nature to admit I am wrong, so I didn’t at the time. But I SUPPOSE in this case, I was. I don’t know.
I thought about not ever going to another Bele Chere again, but why should we forgo the best opportunity to hang out with our kids, listen to music, and see friends who come in from out of town FOR FREE? We don’t have much money, due to the aforementioned decision to stay home with my children rather than pursue a career for the time being.
So we try our best to avoid these people, though it’s not possible to skirt around them all. I use the opportunity to discuss the issues with my children on their level. We discuss abortion and drunk-driving and the concept of sin. We talk about how much more effective these people would be if they didn’t use shock factor to get their “point” across.
Consider the sweaty gentleman on the corner, wearing a suit, holding a worn Bible, speaking at normal voice level. He has a crowd around him, straining to hear what he has to say above the din of the partiers and the music. People are nodding in agreement, asking him questions respectfully, and bowing their heads to join him in prayer,. He shows dignity, restraint, and true conviction. That is how I imagine Jesus might have been. I admire that man, and point him out to my children.
Free speech is at times a burden. It requires us to accept and make allowances for offensive and hateful messages. We cannot always control what our children see and hear, despite our best efforts. It makes us angry at times. We must use that anger to exercise our own free speech. One of these days, I may bring along a sign of my own. Maybe “GOD LOVES US ALL” or “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR.” But I would have to put down a cold beer on a very hot, sunny day to do it.
On another note, this may be our last Bele Chere, because budget cutbacks have forced the city to say they will no longer host the event unless another entity foots the bill.