Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Cause and Effect

Remarkable how, even when matters of life and death are in play, there are people out there who just … can’t … put it … down.

I’m as politically-minded as the next guy. I’m as faith-based as the next guy (as I’ve joked in this space before, I’m a church choir director so I’m contractually bound to believe in something). I’m as prone to bouts of humor, hopefully appropriate, as the next guy. Sometimes talk of the left or right side of the aisle, thoughts of a higher power, and the use of snark … are all necessary.

Early this morning, the Washington Post published an article online about the widespread damage done yesterday and last night by Hurricane Sandy to the northeastern US. The piece focused on the effects of the storm on the Washington, DC area, as makes sense for a newspaper based there (even one that has to deal with national and international coverage, given its proximity to our nation’s capital). But it also dealt with the huge amount of damage done to New York City and New Jersey, and the daunting amount of work that will need to be done to recover from the storm’s effects.

People throughout that region have lost their homes, their businesses, and in some few cases, their lives. At this writing, “only” thirteen; but it’s not an insignificant number to the friends and family of the people who have died.

And then some yahoo commenter posted this comment below the Post article:

Did you notice that most of the states hit by the hurricane are liberal states who are going to vote for Obama? I think God is sending signs that starting in January 2013, we are going to have magic underpants in the White House!


Can’t put politics and/or organized religion down for two seconds…?

Well, Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment of New Orleans for its lifestyle of debauchery and such. And, as I recall, 9/11 was God’s retribution for America’s tolerance of The Gay. There’s precedent and pattern, right?

Friends, this is more than just a case of a random hyper-political person – who, incidentally, I bet doesn’t live anywhere near where Hurricane Sandy hit.

And the other two disaster-related comments represent more than just a case of a pretend preacher who needs to whip up his televangelistic flock so as to maintain his current level of bank account, a Reverend who isn’t truly reverent about a thing that truly matters.

This is a case – and, sadly, not an isolated one – of a person in the process of losing his or her humanity.

When I read the comment, I let out an instant and immediate, “oh, my God.” Then I made note of the content of my own outburst. Yes. “My God.” That’s what drove that Post article comment, and it’s what now drives many knee-jerk comments, many calculated statements of opinion (newspaper columns and the like), and a number of beliefs about what ought to be public policy. There are people in our world who care far more about their ideologies (political or spiritual) than they do about fellow human beings who might be adversely impacted by the results of those ideologies.

Also por ejamplo: lately, it has become clear that to a certain subset of people, rape and its resulting biological consequences are gifts from God, so yeah – precedent and pattern. Last week, the candidate for US Senator from Indiana, Richard Mourdock, defended his opposition to abortion by saying, “…I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Mr. Mourdock might be forgiven for not realizing how strongly this statement implies that life is such a gift from God that He (or She? in this case that’s doubtful) is okay with its creation through a violation of a human person. [Which is not the God I was taught about in Sunday School, by the way.] Shortly thereafter, Mourdock went on, “I believe God controls the universe. I don’t believe biology works in an uncontrolled fashion.”

Clearly there are people don’t believe meteorology works that way, either.

Yes, I know all about the story of Noah and the ark and the flood and the Bill Cosby sound effects, and various other Biblical tales of cities and regions being laid waste because they were misbehaving in God’s eyes. They’re all in the Old Testament, have ya noticed? That particular Testament is much more of a disaster movie than the Testament that followed it.

If we’re looking for patterns, I suppose we could note the fact that both Mr. Mourdock and Congressman Paul Ryan are experienced marathon runners; and both of them supportive radically restrictive policies regarding women’s reproductive rights; so that must mean that ALL marathon runners want to see the Roe v. Wade decision overturned.

Mustn’t it?

Friends, didn’t they try to teach us to think critically, in school (aside from Texas)?

Apparently there are people out there who will look for anything, any old coincidence, to make a statement supporting their beliefs. No matter how tenuous or just plain absurd the coincidence is. No matter how heartless the statement is.

This is not a big enough space to debate the question of the extent to which God controls the universe.

(I’ll give you a moment to contemplate the sheer unadulterated understatedness of that last sentence.)

All I know is that while we’re all here on earth, regardless of what our belief about that is, we at least owe it to each other to do one thing, especially in moments of disaster like the one that has befallen the area around New York City. We owe it to each other to follow at least one phrase out of that beloved (but oft-ignored, even by supposed followers) Good Book: the Gospel according to St. Mark, the twelfth chapter, somewhere between verses 28 and 31:

One of the teachers of the law … asked [Jesus], “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

I’m no Biblical scholar, but I think obeying the second commandment may be a good way to obey the first.

And the yahoos out there who post unthinking, unfeeling comments about God directing disasters toward people who don’t believe the things that they, the yahoos, do? The ones for whom such comments represent not not-well-thought-out jokes, but strongly-held beliefs?

At best, they’re missing the point.

October 30, 2012 Posted by | Internet, media, news, politics, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bonne Chance

I am fortunate.

The winds are howling, and the rains have come down at a good clip all day; but my roof is not leaking. My basement is dry. I live in a part of the Northeastern US in which is this more likely to be true than it would be if I lived in New York City or New Jersey or Delaware.

I am fortunate.

Not to jinx it, but I have not lost power. I have not lost any of the food that remains in my refrigerator. I have not lost any files that I’ve been working on, since power has not gone out while I’ve been working on the computer today.

I am fortunate.

None of the tall trees in my backyard, or front yard (tiny though it is), or side yard, have gone down. Twigs and small branches, yes; but the rather majestic pines are still vertically majestic.

I am fortunate.

I was able to crank up the TV set tonight, watch various cable TV news outlets cover the storm (and cuss out the ones that couldn’t put down the Presidential poll-watching or Benghazi conspiracy theories for one damn night), watch video of lower Manhattan and northern New Jersey, then run upstairs, fire up the Internet and send a few messages to friends there, hoping they were doing OK.

I am fortunate.

Weather or not (pun?), I live in a part of the world where it’s only an event like this, accompanied by civil authorities’ advice to stay off the roads, during which I can NOT just hop in the car and drive to the store to get more Cheetos, or whatever needs replenishing. There are places in the world where on a regular basis it’s either dangerous or simply impossible to do that.

I am fortunate.

I have a paying job, family nearby, friends easily reachable at least via the online services (–friends at all), and a pizza shop and dry cleaners walking distance from my house. Oh, and a house with running water.

I am fortunate.

I know where I will go, next week, to cast my vote. There is no doubt that I am registered to do so. I will not have to acquire special documents in order to do so. With luck, but most likely, I will not encounter people trying to dissuade me from doing so. There are places in the world where on a regular basis, one cannot say that. (There are places in this country where, shamefully, one cannot necessarily say that.)

I am fortunate.

I live in a part of the world where I can publish that last paragraph, or any of the preceding paragraphs, and no armed officers will come to my door and ask tough questions. And anyone can read the preceding paragraph, get irritated or inspired, and leave any old comment they like. There are places in the world where that is unlikely, too.

If you live anywhere in the northeastern US, and you’re (still) reading this tonight, the 29th of October, even as Hurricane Sandy makes a mess of the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England … then perhaps we’re each fortunate, although for different reasons.

May all kinds of good luck go with us.

October 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is the Frog Dead Yet?

Well, the honeymoon is over.

I maintain this blog on this particular site for a number of good reasons, not the least of which is, it’s free. I pay not one red cent to have them take care of storing my writing, keeping track of how many visits the online world has made, and delivering my purple prose to a set of followers that keeps me focused on producing readable stuff with, you know, proper spelling and grammar.

It also has, quite frankly, the best little set of tools for maintaining a cheapskate website, and by cheapskate I mean zero dollars have changed hands – which not every website host can claim. My resume and bio are included here, too. Which, 99.9 percent of the time, is not risky. (Again with the True Believer Fans of A Certain Underage Opera Singing Sensation references!)

So, I cannot really complain much, or in fact at all. But I’m going to gently do it anyway.


Today, as I checked one of those teeny tiny links (which is to say, “www.ab.cd/efg” and the like) to see which of my posts was being referenced, I noted: for the first time in the sixteen months I’ve been with WordPress, there was an ad included within that post. A little video embed sat there – fortunately, between my post’s very last punchline paragraph and the list of tags that follow the whole thing, rather than somewhere more irritating than, say, right bang in the middle of the essay, or JUST above the final paragraph that (if I do my job right) ties the whole article together.

I don’t know what the ad was advertising. I didn’t click on the link. I did, however, toss up my hands, just for a moment, and mutter, “–hey!…”

Kinda like the first time in many decades that they started parking commercial advertisements and corporate logos on the left-field wall at Fenway Park. I did the same thing. –Hey! … that space is sacred. Or at least, if an outfielder looks up to play the carom off the wall and loses the ball in the “Bob’s Clothing” sign, is that a ground-rule double? And if a reader is distracted from my point by seeing a marauding video link, how “foul” can I cry?

Kinda like the first time after I joined Facebook that the FB powers-that-be decided to change the layout of the thing. I hated it … but after awhile I couldn’t think of what the previous incarnation had even looked like. (Now the current Timeline thing? … oh my good Lord, don’t get me started.)

Considering that WordPress isn’t charging me any money at all for the privilege of utilizing their resources to advance my writing into the world, I probably have no business complaining. They’ve got to find some way to raise some bucks, and I would prefer that they not go under. At the same time, I don’t care much for them using my writing space to connect people to products or services or even candidates that I wouldn’t promote myself. But in this struggle between two competing concepts, perhaps WordPress’ concept wins this round.

Except: they’re offering a sort of opt-out option. If I don’t want these ads appearing on my posts, I can acquire WordPress’ “No Ads Upgrade”. I can have a blog completely empty of ad content. (Just like I did before today.)

For a mere thirty bucks a year.


All right, okay, you win. Money talks. As always. It always comes back to money. Just ask the folks who invented “Citizens United”.

So, I guess all I can say is this:

Please do not click on these advertising links if you don’t want to. They’re not my idea. …

The opinions and claims expressed in these advertisements are those of the advertising agencies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial License blog. …

Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, is prohibited. …

Look, Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over. I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. …

Daisy, Daisy …

October 27, 2012 Posted by | blogging, Facebook, social media, technology, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment