Monthly Archives: June 2010

Eisley Grows Up

Eisley has always been able to manufacture a good hook and raise it aloft with ghostly vocals, but it is in Eisley’s second studio album, Combinations, that they really come into their own. The music is less sing-songy than on previous offerings and the lyrics more substantial. If you have never been introduced to this family band, give them a listen.

Jesus is the Truth

I listen to talk radio. I used to listen to even more of it. Sometimes, music is just comparatively boring because talk keeps you engaged. Since you are constantly exposed to new topics, ideas, and current events and may or may not agree with the host, the guest, or the caller, you are required to be always evaluating, analyzing, and judging. It keeps your brain on. (Music also does, if you are conscious about it, but it’s different.)

Now, having had a Zune for a while, I can take my music with me. I love it. So of course, when I switched to digital music, I also made the very natural move to podcasting. There are a handful of podcasts I have discovered and whose new installments I always eagerly await. There are podcasts on nearly everything under the sun. If you’re interested in it, there is a podcast about it. One of my podcast addictions is The Dividing Line, hosted by Christian apologist Dr. James White.

I recommend subscribing to it, of course, but my point in this blog entry is to strongly recommend you listen to the first half hour of the June 24, 2010 installment, or, if you want to go the extra mile, listen to the first 43 minutes. In it, White speaks powerfully about the lordship of Christ in all things, including knowledge and facts. I cannot summarize what he said; you really must take the time and listen and allow Scripture to impact your thinking. The podcast can be played with any podcast reading software (such as Zune and iTunes, which are free) by using the feed on the link I provided above.

Let’s Review This Call

It was a Wednesday night. Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga had thrown 26 consecutive outs, leaving him one out away from doing what has only been done 20 times in Major League Baseball history, a history that dates back over a hundred years: throwing a perfect game.  On the next pitch, the ball is hit. The first baseman runs in to scoop it up and Galarraga rushes to cover first. The throw is bobbled but retrieved and the quick toss made to the bag. It’s close. The call on the field: safe. The perfect game is blown.

The reality? The batter was thrown out at first.  Jim Joyce, the umpire who made the call, has had a long and fine career. This isn’t a matter of making him feel guilty. He already does. He apologized to Galarraga, holding back tears. No, this is about reopening that perennial baseball can-o-worms, the question of using instant replay to reverse on-the-field calls. Baseball, with its roots deep in a historical heritage, has always been, it seems to me, the most reluctant sport to defer to the all-seeing camera. In 2008, instant replay verification was approved for double checking close homerun balls—fair or fowl, did it bounce back in, etc. I think it’s high time for the use of replay to correct base calls and close catches or misses low to the ground.

I’ll tell you what I don’t want. I don’t want cameras used to call balls and strikes, and I don’t want every call to be double checked. I don’t want cameras used for balls and strikes because that would 1) be impractical (checking the replay every pitch?), and 2) umps have their own quirks. Some call wider or narrower strikes zones. They aren’t consistent across the board from game to game and ump to ump. But as long as an umpire is self-consistent during the course of one game, it’s all part of baseball’s idiosyncratic nature.

Secondly, no one wants chaos. I think MLB can take a lesson from the NFL, which has been able to come up with a workable replay system. I think that on-the-field calls should always stand unless officially challenged by the opposing team. A procedure for challenging, and perhaps a limited number of challenges, would be put in place. As in the NFL, the call should not be overturned if the video is questionable. Only a clear, undeniable contradiction of the call on the field could reverse it.

Ultimately what we want is truth in sports. If a runner beat the ball, fairness dictates he be safe. If a fielder beat the runner, fairness dictates he be out. I think that if we did expand the use of instant replay review in baseball, it might not be utilized as frequently as some fear. The vast majority of calls on the field are correct, and umpires elicit a high degree of respect. But there are times when they err, and when the all-seeing camera could help improve the game by restoring simple justice.

Free Speech and the FCC

Congress shall make no law […] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.

When people, even people who have the power of addressing many others via various media outlets, begin to say things that I don’t like, there are two ways I can react. Either I prefer that their ideas be engaged in a free and open interchange of ideas, or I prefer that their voice be squashed. The latter may be superficially gratifying, but it goes against everything I believe about how society should operate.

Right now, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, with about thirty other organizations, have written to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking them to grant their “Petition for Inquiry on hate speech in media.”  The petition was filed in January 2009. Inquiry on hate speech? What is this, the Inquisition? The NHMC insists that hate, extremism, and misinformation have been increasing and that the “current media landscape is a safe-haven for hate and extremism.”  While having no clue what extremism they’re talking about, I must add that I know popular media outlets are very selective about what they report, how they report it, and often, supposedly hard news programs add a lot of commentary. (Even a quick perusal of MRC.org will leave you no doubt.) In addition, the commentary programs can become vitriolic or unreasonable. I’m not defending [insert news outlet here].  I’m defending free speech. In other words, I believe that the FCC should not be involved in either regulating what things are said on television and radio (or any other medium) or mandating that counterpoints and opposing views be aired. (How they could do this is a mystery). I believe that it is of no concern to any government agency what people say, or with what intent.

People have the right, and must have the right, to say hateful things, to try to convince people of false things, and to say inflammatory things—even if with the specific intention to inflame.  Maybe people shouldn’t say such things. But people have the right to say things they shouldn’t. If they don’t, we must ask, who decides what is okay to say, and on what basis? If you’re okay with some speech being shut down, what will you do when they come to shut you down?

Furthermore, fairness should not (and anyway cannot) be imposed by the government. “Fairness,” if it must exist, should come about much more organically: by the freedom of those who disagree to express their views as much as anyone else! No speech should be either supported or suppressed by the government. If there is a grossly overwhelming bias towards, say, a particular stand on an issue or a particular political leaning in some region or among some demographic, it is the government’s duty to… do absolutely nothing about it. They have other duties altogether. The letter written by the NHMC says that “as the [FCC] deliberates how the public interest will be served in the digital age, it should consider the extent of hate speech in media, and its effects.”  No, actually, it shouldn’t! Besides, “hate speech” is code for “speech I don’t want people to hear because I disagree.” Bogus designations like “hate speech” open the door to shutting down all kinds of speech—whatever is deemed unacceptable by those in power at any given time. It’s a hideous idea that the FCC would consider implementing any actions in accordance with NHMC’s asinine requests, and hopefully they are not. If we lose freedom of speech, we lose the freedom that undergirds all the others.

If you disagree with a point of view, engage it in rational debate, don’t silence it. Silencing opposing views reveals the weakness of your own view. The NHMC has the right to express its frighteningly oppressive views. And I have the right to express my views. At least for now. And my view is that First Amendment rights are vital to any society that wants to call itself free.

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