Saturday, July 12, 2014

Nudity is nudity, right?

I have a question that is bound to stir up controversy, but it is legitimate question:  Why is public nudity socially acceptable in some cases and not others?

For example, it is illegal (in Kentucky) for a women to walk down the street with her breasts uncovered.  But, it is  legal for a woman to stand on the corner with her breasts exposed in the name of art.

In the former, the vast majority of society would condemn the act (at least publicly).  In the latter, it would be more equally divided with the slight majority teetering based on who was asked and what preconditions they mentally placed on the situation.

Now the controversial part, why is exposing your beast in the process of breast feeding (or pumping) acceptable in public?  

Don't waste your breath with the "it's natural" argument, because so is full nudity. 

Don't say, "it's always been this way," because it hasn't.  

I understand the importance (according to least for now) of breast milk.  I accept that breast feeding has been around since the beginning.

I also understand the same logic would have us all walking around fully nude all the time.

The fact that I understand something doesn't mean I want to witness it.  There are lots of things, on nearly any topic, that I understand or at least know about, but don't want to see.  I'm not a Neanderthal nor a prude, I am just fine without (clarification of) the mental image.  In that same way, there are also things I do not care for my pre-teen sons to witness.  

Let's talk about children just for a minute.   Children develop mentally, emotionally, and socially at different rates and to different levels.  There are numerous influences upon that development, but that has nothing to do with this post.  

Children develop the ability to delineate behavior based on their experiences with, and their models of, their respective cultures and family values.  While each culture varies, in every one I'm aware of, there is a distinction made between what is acceptable in one place/situation, but not in another.   

As such, it is lunacy to expose a child you don't know to something and expect that (s)he will instinctively understand that their mimicking the behavior at the same time in the same way would be deemed unacceptable.  And that's a specific, children tend to generalize far more often; I see him doing X, X is only acceptable in the same way/time as Y, thus if he is doing X without issue, I can do Y without issue.  In psychology it is referred to as Associative Behavior, and among other things, it is part of how we learn to cope is social settings.

This post was prompted by a recent incident in my town.  A family amusement park had asked mothers who are breast feeding to "use discretion."  The outcry was fast and furious.  The torrent of outrage was overwhelming.  

It quickly became another "women's rights" rallying cry.  Of course, the park apologized and reversed their policy labeled as "misogynist" by some groups. [The label showing ignorance of the concept.]

To compound this issue, there's actually a state law (the scope of which I can't believe would ever hold up in court) that makes the park's policy illegal.

Now, before we delve too deeply into breast feeding and all that goes with it.  I want to return our focus to the question as hand: When is public nudity acceptable?

More to my personal question, should a person be allowed to expose themselves to my children?  

Should it matter why my child is being exposed?   Art?  Breast feeding?  Air conditioning is broken?  Personal preference (often mislabeled as personal freedom)?

Can we reasonably expect children (and some percentage of adults) to understand why X is acceptable now, but Y isn't?

Nudity and the social mores that accompany it, differs around the world.  And while others might be more in line with your views, let's look at just the good 'ol USofA.

Nudity is nudity, right? 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Marriage -- Back To Its Roots

A while back I used a status update on my Facebook page to preview this post.

I am NOT a proponent of the popular (mis)interpretation of the First Amendment, resulting in the commonly referenced Separation of Church and State.  I believe the Supreme Court grossly erred on their interpretation, and I still hope they will one day correct their ignorance.

That said, I find it odd that the same folks to demand this errant separation are so amenable to it when it works in their favor.  Marriage is, by all accounts, an institution rooted in religion.  I'm aware of no historical accounts of marriage which pre-date the religious sacrament of marriage.

Of course, history has seen the concept of marriage--both sacred and secular--change over time.  Society, not religion, has evolved and expanded the role of marriage far beyond its roots and intentions.  The Law of Unintended Consequences as seen the use of marriage as a simple delineation create a political, societal, legal, and moral quagmire.

Even a cursory review of the tax code and the laws on federal, state, and local levels will find it replete with references to marriage.  These, no doubt, were created for good reasons, but they no longer serve the purpose(s) as intended.

As a singular example, let's look at the marital tax deduction.  In today's world this could easily be seen as a regressive tax.  The most common marital status of our lowest income bracket is NOT married.  The marital status of our highest income bracket IS married.  In a society were the norm has both married adults working, the marital deduction is not only illogical, but is a slap in the face to some of those who are in far greater need.

How about we look at medical decisions.  Is it really rational to believe that someone should have a right to make medical decisions for another simply because they are married to them?  Marriage does not ensure an innate knowledge, or even that one person likes another, much less ethical alignment.  It certainly doesn't indicate any level of medical knowledge.

Of course, this disconnect would be equally glaring in each aspect where the sacrament of marriage has been overlaid with secular definitions, rights, or obligations.

The laws that have been developed over time to provide for a norm have become as likely to be punitive as they are beneficial.  What was the norm, no longer is.  The desire for otherwise is irrelevant.

Perpetuation of this entanglement will only magnify and multiply the injustices and negative impact.  This can be seen in every sector -- financial, social, religious, legal, and on-and-on.

It is time for marriage to go back to what it was intended for--a promise between two people as to how they will live their lives together.

All the ensuing, though well-meaning, entanglements which have followed must be untangled and removed.

If the government wants (for reasons I can't conceive) to incentivize people to live together exclusively, they can certainly do so without reference to, or dependence upon, the institution of marriage.

In essence you could have two separate and totally independent functions--marriage and a tax status around cohabitation.  Further, there are already existing laws around things like medical directive, asset distribution, etc.  But, in most cases, these are overridden by marriage.  That need not be and should not be the case.   A person should be free to choose the person whom they wish to make end-of-life decisions or financial decisions.  Better yet, you should be able to proactively decide for yourself how these matters are to be handled when you aren't able to decide; and to do so with the confidence that a spouse can't override your wishes when (s)he is, at best, emotionally weakened.  

Make no mistake, this would require very real, very significant changes is laws and tax code.  Sadly, I feel it would require little change in today's common view of marriage.

For me, marriage plays a vital role in society.  Not in-and-of itself, but as part of a deeper and broader covenant with God.  But, that does not need to be everyone's concept.  Without legal engagements, my opinion of marriage has no barring on you.  If you choose to believe marriage is little more than a nicety to make your mother happy, that's your choice.  Your belief does not degrade or diminish my covenant any more than the person who shared my belief but has chosen to break that promise.  

Without the legal and tax ramifications, each person can (as is right) have the ability to signify their desires without preconceived notions or undesired consequences.

To me marriage is a sacred proclamation between my wife and I, before and through God.   I do not need, nor do I desire the government's permission or incentives to live the life I have been called to live and that I have promised to live within my marriage vows.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

One, But Not The Other

I hope we can agree that the days of "No Irish" or "No Blacks" or "No Indians" or "No..." are better off as part of history.

The idea that you can't discriminate against someone because of their race or ethnicity is broadly accepted.  Courts and the (vast majority of the) American public agree that such exclusionary signs are a violation of constitutional rights.

The Second Amendment guarantees law abiding citizens the right to defend themselves, their family, and their property through the use of arms (aka guns).    However, as time progressed and the Country embraced a more genteel world-view, guns have become shunned.  In most states it is perfectly acceptable (and in many, encouraged) to ban guns in places of business.

That is, the business owner has the right to determine if guns will be allowed in the business.   Now, one side of me is in favor of allowing business owners to make determinations for their businesses.  But, they do not have the right to violate the rights of others--their personal preferences do not supersede fundamental rights.

Equally, I'm a huge proponent of State Rights and (extremely) limited Federal Government.   But this isn't a State decision.  A state doesn't get to pick and choose what part of the constitution it wants to uphold.  I'm uncertain how this happened; how we allowed freedoms to be so easy circumvented and tucked in nice/neat boxes.

It is no more legal to place a sign on the shop window which reads, "No Guns" than a "Whites Only" sign.   For reasons I can't understand we have allowed this to happen; we've looked the other way.   We've allowed personal preference to erode a constitutionally protected right.

We can have the debate of if we should have the right to bear arms, but regardless of your feelings for it, we do.   Given that, you can't simply say, "I'm not comfortable" with guns around.   I can assume you, there are plenty in this Country who aren't comfortable with people of different colors, religions, or genders; but you can't (openly) discriminate against them.   Get over it!