Daily Archives: July 9, 2008

The Cost of Principles

Here’s a story of a guy who gave up his state job rather than fly the flag at half-staff for Jesse Helms at his place of work. His rationale: “he did not think it was appropriate to honor Helms because of his ‘doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice’ and his opposition to civil rights bills and the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.” When told to fly the flag at half-staff or retire, he retired.

My thoughts:

1. I think it’s admirable the man understood that civil disobedience often means paying a price for one’s actions;

2. I’m sympathetic to the man’s position, because Helms was a rotten piece of work, but of the things I’d personally be willing to lose my job over, this would not be one of them (I suspect in my place, had I decided not to fly the flag at half-staff for someone, I simply would have passively-aggressively ignored the e-mail and claimed to have accidentally deleted it, whoops, sorry, and then called in sick for the day);

3. North Carolina is probably legally in the right to demand the dude’s resignation, but it seems a bit harsh. A reprimand on his permanent record would probably have been sufficient, especially since the flag did finally get down to half staff.

(Before anyone paints me as your typical flag-burning hippie, I’ll note that for a couple of years in high school I took it upon myself to raise and lower the flag at my school because no one else could apparently be bothered to do it, and if you want to annoy me, one good way of doing it is to let a raggedy-ass US flag fly from your house or (ugh) from your car. Have some respect, people.

On the other hand, I don’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance, either, for moral and philosophical reasons. Yes, I’m a big ol’ bundle of contradictions, I am.)

Whether I agree this is something worth losing one’s job over doesn’t really matter of course; this guy did, and stuck by it. Whatever happens going forward, I certainly hope he feels the sacrifice was worth it.

A Quick Note on Comment Edits

This is another one of my “stick it up there to refer to it later” posts.

On occasion, after I’ve posted a comment, I’ll sometimes go “Oh, wait, I want to clarify that,” or “Oh, wait, someone else posted a comment I didn’t see and want to respond to, but I don’t want to post another message,” or “Oh, wait, the grammar of that comment makes me look like I’m a drunkenly hitting the keys with my face.” In which case I may go in and edit my comment, because I have an edit tool and I can.

When I make an edit, this is how I tend to do it:

1. If it’s an edit to correct grammar or to clarify a point without substantially changing the point, or to add a response to another comment without editing the original content of the comment, and no one has responded to the comment before I edited it, I generally don’t note that the edit has been made.

2. If it’s an edit where I substantially change the comment’s content and no one has responded to it yet, I’ll usually note I’ve made an edit.

3. If I see there’s something I want to change in a comment but someone’s already responded to it, I leave it as it is and post a response comment.

My point is that if you see a comment change, it’s not me trying to change what I’ve said after the fact to cover up my own stupidity, it’s me trying to look like I know how to spell and/or trying to clarify something I think is ambiguous or poorly written.

If at any point you note an edit that I’ve not flagged that you believe represents a substantial change to my original comment, please to feel free to call me on it.

Incidentally, this post was not promted by anyone complaining about my comment edits, I just noticed I’m doing a fair amount of comment editing the last couple of days and wanted to be sure you guys didn’t think I was trying to be, like, sneaky about it or anything. Sneak, sneak, sneak.

Incidentally, Re: InConJunction

Howard Tayler wrote the post-con write-up I would have written (minus, you know, the parts that refer specifically to Howard Tayler’s professional life), so I’ll just point you at it and let you read it with my voice in your head.

Nevertheless, I will amplify what Howard said about it being an excellent example of a well-run local convention, and in particular I would recommend all cons try to emulate InConJunction’s Con Suite, which rather than being a hotel suite was one of the meeting rooms, with lots of tables for folks to sit at, and (importantly) enough ventilation so that by the end of the con, the consuite did not reek of fan funk and crockpot chili. It makes a huge difference in my desire to actually want to spend time there. Conrunners, if you’re not doing your con suites like this already, you should.

In any event: I had a really wonderful time, and it all went off without a hitch, at least on my end. Thanks, InConJunction, for having me.

Goldberg and Bainbridge: A Compare and Contrast

Folks have been asking me in e-mail if I had any thought about Jonah Goldberg’s recent assertion in the LA Times that Barack Obama’s proposed requirement of public service for teens and college students is not unlike slavery. The answer: No, not really; once the man declared that Mussolini was really a Socialist all his life, despite ample historical evidence to the contrary (Mussolini leaving Italy’s Socialist party, founding the Fascist party as an explicit right-wing refutation of Socialism, ordering the murders of prominent Socialists and then bascially daring anyone to do something about it on the floor of the Italian parliament) I recognized that Jonah Goldberg is kind of like the conservative movement’s special younger brother, the one that drank a pint of lead-based paint at age six, utters sentences where the verbs and nouns don’t quite match up, and gets moody and throws things when you gently try to explain that actually, no, goats did not land on the moon in 1983. In this context, of course Jonah Goldberg would suggest youth public service contributes to a “slave mentality.” It would be surprising if he hadn’t, frankly. It doesn’t mean such an attention-seeking comment merits serious consideration on my part.

(No doubt Mr. Goldberg’s rejoinder to this would be to point out that the book in which he gets lots about fascism wrong has racked up some lovely sales numbers; the obvious rejoinder to this is: well, you know. At this point on its downslope into minority, the conservative movement has a lot of special younger brothers.)

That said, while I don’t want to have to unpack Goldberg’s nonsensery, I would commend to you Stephen Bainbridge’s take on Goldberg’s column, as an example of someone who is a conservative with libertarian leanings, has serious reservations about Obama’s plan, and, heck, even hauls out the “S” word, yet does not descend into paint-quaffing madness. Aside from the quality of Professor Bainbridge’s comments, it’s worth noting the small irony that Goldberg’s platform for his gouting silliness is a newspaper, while Bainbridge’s rather more sensible discussion is hosted on a blog, and yet it’s the electronic medium that gets hammered for hosting bloviating ninnies. Funny about that.