Thursday, December 18, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

The Common Man's self-imposed ban on politics means that he will not weigh in on Barack Obama's decision to invite Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration (except to say that, while it's a nice gesture to the right about inclusiveness, he considers it a bad message to send to the LGBT community who has supported the President-Elect so strongly). But other strange decisions have caught The Common Man's attention today:

--For instance, on Tuesday, police in Douglasville, GA arrested a Muslim woman who refused to remove her hijab, for violating a judge's order that no one in the courthouse may wear headgear. Now, The Common Man's grandmother always used to scold him (and still does) whenever he wore a hat indoors, as she considered it impolite. That said, this is a very different situation, where a hijab is an essential part of this woman's religious beliefs. And if she cannot wear her hijab in court, she feels that she cannot enter the court. And if she (and other Muslim women, or Jews wearing yamakas, or Mennonites wearing bonnets) cannot enter the court, they cannot expect to receive justice. The judge, not sympathetic to the idea of religious freedom, sentenced the woman to 10 days in jail, though she has since been released.

The Georgia Attorney General's office points out that the issue is left to the discretion of the judge, and that there are no regulations on whether such headgear is allowed. But the reasons for the judge's ban are unclear. If the issue here is safety, it would presumably be acceptable for her to remove the hijab in the presence of a female officer, thereby resolving any concern that there was a bazooka under her scarf. But if this is about some cultural difference that the judge feels compelled to take a stand on, then there is really no reason for him to continue to be a judge. If something as silly as a hijab offends his sensibilities and renders him incapable of fairly adjudicating, he should be removed.

-- In New Jersey, last week, a ShopRite grocery store inexplicably refused to decorate a three-year old's birthday cake. Sadly, poor little Adolf Hitler Campbell couldn't have the marble sheetcake with vanilla frosting, decorated with Elmo that he wanted. The parents, understandably, were upset with the store's decision. After all, their son is only 3, not likely to grow up to murder millions (regardless of how messed up his family is), and Hitler totally died, like, 60 years ago. So get over it, grocery store, and write Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler on the damn cake already.

OK, that's as much B.S. as The Common Man is capable of writing in a single lifetime. Seriously, at issue here is not the store's decision to refuse to write a patently offensive phrase on a cake they bake, and put in a box with their store's label on it. At issue is yet another set of parents who view their children as commodities, as a way to make a statement. Like the idiot who named his daughter Sarah McCain Palin a month or two back, these parents have no more regard for their children than as vehicles for them to express a fucked up agenda at the expense of years of future therapy and resentment. These parents have set their boy (and their daughters, The Common Man shits you not, little JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler) up for failure. C'mon, middle school and high school are hard enough.

Also shameful in this debacle is the parents' refusal to take responsibility for their actions, denying that they harbored any racism when they named their children. According to the Associated Press, "Heath Campbell said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because 'no one else in the world would have that name.'" Please, Mr. Campbell. If you're going to be proud enough of your beliefs to name your kids after the heroes of the neo-Nazi movement, you should at least be man enough to tell the world about it. Don't hide behind some doe-eyed desire for the boy to be unique.

-- Finally, the Big Three automakers have all announced their decision to shut down production this January, extending the normal holiday work stoppage to keep costs down and avoid flooding the market with cars no one will buy. While The Common Man understands this decision may be necessary to a certain degree, he thinks this stoppage might have a more devious goal.

In addition to shutting down their production lines, GM is halting construction of a new plant where they are planning to make the engines for the new, electric Chevy Volt. With high oil prices still fresh in Americans' minds, and energy independence and security high on the incoming President's agenda, the Volt is perhaps the best way for Chevy to come back from this hit. Slowing production on what could be the savior of the company is either a desperate move, or a calculated one. This could be, The Common Man fears, an all-in bluff by the auto industry to show Congress and its workers what the future could look like without some form of government bailout. And it will undoubtedly be scary for millions of Americans, including Congress, to see this stoppage. And while The Common Man will defer to smarter minds on whether a bailout is a good idea, he is disappointed at what looks like an underhanded power play by the Big Three, on the backs of their own workers, to get what they want for Christmas.


BillP said...

I have a minor objection. I disthink that "Adolf Hitler Campbell" = "Sarah McCain Palin." (And you probably weren't intending to say they were exactly equivalent, but as I read it, you kind of did.)

One will be horrifying forever, while the other will evoke one of two reactions in her fellow 10 year olds ten years hence:

(a) none, because they have no idea the poor child was named after anybody at all; or

(b) "oh, how weird, you just happen to have almost the same name as our current president!"

...and (b) will only be horrifying for a maximum of eight years.

So, they're both idiots of an extremely advanced stage. But one has to note the degrees of idiocy, even at that high level. They're like the Albert Pujols and the, I don't know, Josh Willingham of idiots.

Or: naming a child Ryan Seacrest Jones would be offensive in its own way, but in a much different way and to a much different degree than naming him Adolf Hitler Jones.

The Common Man said...

You're right, they are totally not equivalent in degree. But the underlying concept (aside from the racism), that children are a medium through which a political message is delivered, is the same. It's an ugly concept that The Common Man finds repugnant. And he can't imagine any real man treating his son or daughter that way.

Robert Hogan said...

Thank you for pointing out what no one else is talking about. This is the parent's making a big deal out of this, not the baker. The parents wanted the cake to read Adolf Hilter, but I'm sure if they would have compromised with just Adolf than none of this would be in the news...which is exactly the point. The parents just want to drum up something newsworthy.

The Common Man said...

You're welcome Robert and thanks for joining the discussion. Stick around, and you'll find that The Common Man has absolutely no patience for parents who treat their children like a commodity or a pet, as though their choice of a name will not have any implications.

On the bright side, young Adolf already has his essay topic for his college entrance applications. Here, The Common Man will get him started, "Many teenagers claim to hate their parents, but a scant few have as good a reason as I do...".