Pep rallies can heal.

I don’t know how many of you watched the Convocation at Virginia Tech yesterday. It was mostly good, with poignant words from Virginia Tech President Steger, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, and President Bush. There were some weak spots, and an excess of specifically religious sentiments (I know it’s a convocation…), but overall it was wonderful. As Gov. Kaine said, the current students and faculty of Virginia Tech have shown the world that we will not bow to a victim mentality. We are hurt, but we will heal. And the character and class shown by the students braving the media vultures made me proud to be a Hokie. I don’t know that I could answer the same inane, insensitive questions over and over again with such grace and dignity.

The convocation really got to me during Nikki Giovanni’s speech and the moments after. As she started, her immediate passion startled me. It was what we needed, but not what I expected. In the middle I thought she was going to go off the rails with her words, but she danced the fine line that makes emotion and creativity dance together. She was perfect for the moment. We ARE Virginia Tech, indeed.

The most cathartic part of the program was the spontaneous (?) eruption of “Let’s Go Hokies!”. I’m sure it struck many viewers as a tad bizarre, but the Hokies knew. I got goosebumps, followed by a few tears. I’m sure many other universities have the same sense of loyalty and camaraderie, but this was ours. That audience wasn’t telling the world anything. They told each other, and the rest of the Hokies, that we’re going to be alright. Not today or tomorrow, but eventually, we will be alright.

On Being a Hokie

I’m nothing in this story. I wasn’t there yesterday. It’s been nine years since I last graduated from Virginia Tech. From my occasional visits to campus since, it’s clear how the school has changed since I left. Virginia Tech was a different place on even April 15th than it was when I was a student.

Still, Virginia Tech is a family. There is a passion that develops from being a Hokie. It’s the sense of community that one hopes will develop when going off to college, only it’s better because it becomes real in so many unexpected ways. Whether it’s lifelong friendships or a knowing glance at encountering a stranger in a foreign country wearing a VT, a connection builds that never goes away. The feeling grows from happiness that you attended a great school to impatience for the day when your children can attend Virginia Tech.

Now I’m worried. I’m not worried that this sense of community will disappear. The bonds are too strong. But it will change. I worry that today’s students will only be able to remember the Virginia Tech of April 16, 2007. There will be a sadness, I imagine, although I know that what I think is only a guess. There is now a large group of Hokies that will be different in some way. Each student will internalize these events in his or her own way, but I don’t doubt that something will be there. Whether it’s a sadness at friends lost or anger at tragedy not averted, time will be the only salve. Even that will not be completely effective, of course. Time heals wounds, but only by covering them with scars.

So I worry. I wish I could help them. Instead, they will teach, an unfair burden on the innocent.

How will this change us? I wish I knew. I wish we didn’t have to find out. We do, and we will. Somehow. Being a Hokie means being part of a family larger than any you ever imagined possible. Through this indescribable cruelty, Hokies will continue.

Some people have no shame.

We don’t even know how many people are dead at Virginia Tech, and the slime comes crawling out.

There will probably be blame to assign. There will probably need to be new strategies¹. We know this, but we can discuss this later. Those seeking a pulpit to push his or her own little agenda out of a tragedy like this are using the deaths of innocent people to score cheap, political points. They should stop it. It’s disgusting. Let these families and the Virginia Tech community mourn.

¹ Let’s not make assumptions what these should be, either. Same trap.

It’s sad and something I don’t cheer.

Now that the title cleared away any notion that I’m happy when someone gets hurt, Scott Adams nailed the analysis of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s car accident from the perspective of who is to blame. (The accident occurred while he was en route to the Governor’s Mansion to host a meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team.)

Post Removed

I removed today’s post so that my governor would not have a car accident.

I wish I’d written that. I rarely laugh out loud at the written word, but that brought on a full sixty seconds of out loud laughter.

Post Script: Just to be extra clear, I wish Gov. Corzine a complete recovery. That recovery will be difficult, apparently. Now that I’ve ruined the humor…

Will you forgive us, eh?

The Canada Family Action Coalition wrote an open letter to the world (pdf here):

To the world’s leaders and people,

We, the people of Canada who support marriage solely as the union of a man and a woman, apologize to the people of the world for harm done through Canada’s legalization of homosexual marriage.

Pathetic, but it gets worse.

Our government and courts considered adult “rights” only. The impact on children’s rights, children’s education, parental rights, religious rights, adoption, the economy and family law were never fully considered.

The obvious and easy rebuttal is always the fact that societies don’t require married couples to have children. Absent any such requirement, or the proposal of any such requirement, this isn’t about children. It’s naked bigotry.

Adults have rights. Government can protect or take those rights. The Canada Family Action Coalition is on the side of taking.

Via Big Fat Hairy Living.

Rent-seeking protectionism is ugly when you confront it.

More on the proposed Sirius-XM merger, this time recapping recent research studies:

One of the main arguments against the merger, according to the Carmel Group, is that consumers’ audio options, particularly in the car, are limited. While some technology firms promise great advances that could bring more choice — such as in-car, high-definition radio and built-in MP3 technology — regulators should consider only what’s available now, the group says.

“The FCC and DOJ aren’t in the business of looking into some crystal ball and predicting some technology in the future,” said Jimmy Shaeffler, Carmel Group senior analyst and author of the group’s report released last week. “Somewhere down the line, maybe 5 years, 7 years or more, XM and Sirius can come back to this argument and possibly prevail.”

I wrote about this study last week when it first appeared. I must say, it’s mighty gracious of Mr. Shaeffler to permit Sirius and XM to come back to regulators and the National Association of Broadcasters, presumably with hat in hand, and ask for permission. Assuming they’re both still around, of course. But it’s not competition they have to worry about. Nope, that’s not evolved, and it would certainly be irresponsible to predict changes that will no doubt be glacial in speed. Look at where we were 5 or 7 years ago. So little has happened, it would be irresponsible to assume anything.

Nothing to see here, folks. The Carmel Group’s study is independent and unbiased, despite being paid for by the National Association of Broadcasters.

Bigotry can be defensible?

From Andrew Sullivan, a comparison of bigotry:

As for Sharpton, surely Imus hs a minor, but valid point. Sharpton deploys the vilest form of racist assumptions against whites in general, and gets away with it. He got away with it while accusing specific people of rape – people who turned out to be innocent. Again, since whites still enjoy vastly more cultural power than blacks, Sharpton’s bigotry is more defensible than Imus’s. But it’s still bigotry. (And, to give Sharpton his due, he has spoken out against the rhetorical depravity of much hip-hop.)

Surely Mr. Sullivan left something out of that paragraph? Bigotry is not defensible. When we start laying out levels of defensibility, we start laying out levels of acceptable responses to the same type of statements. A standard with degrees based on victimization will never end well, as we should be able to see from the current Don Imus mess.

This intellectual blind spot is still wrong.

In response to S. Kadokech’s essay claiming that female circumcision is a cultural right I blogged, here’s an opinion discrediting the ridiculous claim.

Here he is introducing the old fashioned concept in the FGM debate of the ‘arrogant perceiver.’ This concept holds that aliens in communities that practice some practices measure those communities’ standards by their (aliens’) standards and arrogantly perceive those communities’ standards as barbaric and outrageous.

This concept has been widely criticised because it ignores the idea that there are minimum standards below which any community cannot justifiably treat its people. You cannot say that because in our community it’s a cultural practice to kill baby girls those people who criticised our practice do so because they perceive our cultural right arrogantly.

Kadokech has misunderstood or deliberately ignored the meaning and extent of human rights in Uganda. It’s true that all Ugandans have a right to practice their cultural practices.

Of course. This is obvious, so you probably suspect there’s a reason I’m bringing it up. Indeed.

It is wrong to equate FGM with male circumcision. These are two different things, carried out differently with different consequences. Men who undergo circumcision do not cease to be sexually sensitive.

Once again we get the same warmed-over nonsense. Forced genital cutting is bad for girls because the cutters just want to diminish female sexuality. It’s not the same for boys, because cutters do so to help the boys through circumcision’s medical benefits. Uh-huh. The distinction between right and wrong in unnecessary genital cutting on a non-consenting individual is a subjective analysis of the validity of intention. That can never be right.

The parallel is transparent when looking at this honestly:

On the issue of consent, the majority of the people who are subjected to FGM are young girls who are compelled by their parents or guardians, on whom they depend for financial support and many other things. They never consent and where they allegedly consent they never offer informed consent. We have read about cases in Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal, Egypt and many other parts of the world where FGM is practiced that girls as young as eight years fall victim.

Infant males are not asked if they consent. An infant is younger than eight, so he can’t even surrender the uninformed consent “offered” by the girls.

Kapchorwa is not an exception. If FGM is based on consent, why don’t those communities who practice it avail all the relevant information to the potential victims in time and let them make decisions whether to undergo the practice or not when they reach the age of 18. The only information availed to the young girls is that when if they don’t undergo FGM they will not get married, or they will be a disgrace to their families.

And infant males are circumcised in the United States because their future female sex partners will find the foreskin disgusting and will refuse to have sex with him. You don’t want your son to die a virgin, do you?

The author goes on to discuss an earlier notion that Chinese girls would be unable to get married if their parents didn’t bind the girl’s feet. Same thing. Cultural pressure used as an excuse to force body modifications on a non-consenting individual is wrong. There is no difference, regardless of whether it’s feet-binding, arranged marriages¹, female genital cutting, or male genital cutting. This includes potential health benefits, since some benefit could inevitably be argued from any preventive cutting. Infant mastectomies, anyone?

Human rights require more than good intentions and potential benefits.

¹ Kip made this astute comparison in the comments here.