Monday, October 30, 2006

Political correctness or dishonestly polite?

My wife knows I can't stand Mitch Albom. His naivety shows in both his Free Press columns and his radio show on WJR. I read and listen to both as the occasion permits not for masochistic reasons, but I want to be there when he says or writes something that makes sense.

This weekend's column, The mediocrity of today's greatness, made a great point, but probably not one Albom intended as it could only have been written by someone that doesn't recognize political correctness--even when it sings to him.

His column tells a story about a morning TV program he witnessed where three local singers competing for the show's top prize each boasted about their talent then bombed on stage. What surprised the sports-writer-turned-feel-good-author most was the hosts' congratulations for the stunningly bad performances and the audience's applause for what were clearly (to Mitch) horrible performances.

Taking Mitch at his word, I hope the rest of us are not surprised. When you measure someone's effort and they come up short the honest thing to do is tell them they didn't make the cut and send them along with some encouraging words but advise them not to give up their day jobs. How well would any of us steer our cars if our eyes, ears, or sound of screeching metal didn't tell us to correct our course?

Yet, what Mitch described is what political correctness is all about. Political correctness is about dishonesty. It's about applauding someone's plan and ignoring their execution. It's about furthering self-esteem rather than success. It's about social promotions in school. It's being more concerned over minority admissions to colleges than minority scholarship or graduation rates (or is that attention deficit disorder?). Political correctness is the celebration of multiculturalism rather than the criticism of self-destructive behavior.

Just ask Bill Cosby.

Mitch Albom found it ridiculous the contestants even found their way to the stage and even more so the applause their painful performances received. In Albom's exposing the contest for being without merit he made Michigan's Civil Rights Initiative's case that political correctness doesn't belong in public contracting or college admissions.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Money and politics--really

I've discovered there's a big difference between writing about politics and going about politics. The first big difference is money. The second is risk, but this article is more about the former than the latter.

Writing blog articles is free. I only spend my time, but I get a lot out of the exercise. Campaigning costs both time and money. A single mailing requires time to compose and money for paper, printing, envelopes, mailing lists, and postage.

We need another $2000 to cover the costs of our only mailing--and we need it quickly.

If you've been following the issue and already either oppose the ordinance for your own reasons or agree with mine and can manage to make a contribution of any size, please send your check to:

Ferndale Citizens Say No to Discrimination
P.O. Box 363
Royal Oak, MI 48068-0363

If you're wondering why I oppose this ordinance I urge you to visit our website,, and read the material there.

To conserve some of your time here are some bulleted reasons:
  • The ordinance is unnecessary--the gay community is not discriminated against in Ferndale.
  • It confers special rights--gay persons may threaten legal action against employers and landlords and a non-gay persons can not.
  • It's poorly written--an idea pretending to be as big as civil rights shouldn't require so many words to try and make it palatable.
  • Its poor writing makes mistakes--in its tortuous wording it accidentally exempts private schools from all civil rights legislation.
  • It's unenforceable--Michigan Supreme Court precedent demonstrates local civil rights laws are unconstitutional.
  • It's exploitable by 3rd parties--once on the books other organizations can force cities to extreme actions the cities didn't intend.
  • It's symbolic--the ordinances proponents admit their primary purpose is to send a message.
  • The ballot language is misleading--the ballot language doesn't even mention the new classes of persons that supposedly make this ordinance necessary and broader than state and federal statutes.
  • The appearance of impropriety--the city council tried passing it against voters wishes, told the city's attorney to draft ballot language, then approved the misleading language for their own pet-ordinance.
  • It's a me-too law--law shouldn't be a fashion statement.
  • Enforcing it is not free--proponents want voters to believe enforcing civil rights laws are free, when the state spends $14 million just to hear complaints.
  • It's a distraction--our city, region, and state are suffering a recession, our neighbors are losing jobs, families are moving away, our business tax base is whithering, and our schools perform mildly better than Pontiac's--and we have time for this?
If after reading the ordinance and ballot language you're still in favor of the ordinance, I'd like to hear from you.

If you oppose the ordinance for the same reasons or others and can afford a small donation to help cover mailing expenses, please send us a check.

Whatever your position is, I encourage you to exercise your democratic franchise and vote Tuesday, November 7.

Monday, October 16, 2006

When your role model becomes your enemy

Many liberals like pointing to Canada and Europe's varied universal government-paid health care programs as models for the United States to emulate. Labor leaders like Europe's worker-friendly shortened work days, long paid time-off, and near-guaranteed employment. European countries are also favorite destinations for Hollywood's liberal soapbox set to wallow in self-inflicted exile while the United States has become so conservative under Bush's leadership, in their opinion, as to become unbearable, or in the Dixie Chicks case just too embarrassing.

So what will all these celebrities do now that
European countries are discovering they can't reconcile Islam's way of life with their own? What will become of Hollywood's favorite vacation spot if their politics are even more intolerant of this peaceful religion's most un-peaceful self expression? Where will Democratic congressmen and senators go for their boondoggles to study Europeans living peacefully with minorities in ways America, in their opinion, is incapable of?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Vote NO on Human Rights Ordinance

Note: The following article was published in the October Edition of Ferndale Friends, available for free at various Ferndale businesses and delivered to every Ferndale household. It appeared along with a opinion in favor of the ordinance written by Ferndale City Councilman Craig Covey. Should his article appear online I'll try linking to it, or I'll ask Friends' publisher, Stephanie Loveless, permission to reproduce it here in its entirety.
Good ideas require few words to describe them. The ten best ideas ever to become law are the US Constitution's Bill of Rights. With only 482 words, our country's founders established protections against unreasonable search and self-incrimination, guaranteed the freedom of speech, a right to bear arms, presumption of innocence -- and reserved all other rights to citizens and states any not specifically granted the federal government.

Ferndale's proposed Human Rights Ordinance pretends to be such an idea -- and goes on for 1600 words trying to make palatable a law Ferndale voters have already twice spit out in 1991 and 2000. But Ferndale's Covey Council doesn't take no for an answer. While our district's schools barely perform better than Pontiac's, the city is receiving fewer dollars in state revenue sharing, suffering stagnant home values, foreclosures and a declining population, the Covey Council wants to pass a symbolic and provocative ordinance as though such a thing has any impact on important quality-of-life issues facing Ferndale's citizens.

After establishing that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons (men wanting to be treated as women and women as men) deserve the same enumerated protections for themselves as for blacks, women, seniors, and the handicapped, the proposed ordinance follows a tortuous path through definitions, re-definitions, exceptions, limitations, and finally to penalties.

Councilman Covey and former city manager Tom Barwin like pointing out that Ann Arbor has a similar ordinance -- as though that were the secret ingredient to Ann Arbor's success and their proximity to the University of Michigan has little to do with it. Both should be reminded Detroit has a similar ordinance. Whom did that ordinance attract if Detroit's population falls every time it's counted? Did the ordinance lift Detroit's housing values or scholastic achievement? Attract industry? What other of Detroit's inspired ordinances, that account for their council's national prestige, should we emulate in Ferndale?

If Ferndale wants to attract families, then family-friendly ordinances and enforcement of existing ordinances should be our city's priority. Families don't come to Ferndale in ones and twos. They come with three, four, and five residents per household or more. They come for the schools, the parks and playgrounds, and for a walk-able downtown. Families come for first-class city services and neighborhoods free of blight, vacant lots, abandoned cars, or driveways with two-year-old piles of shingles.

But that's not what this ordinance is about. It's about the Covey Council dressing up Ferndale to be a notch on the garter belt of special interests.

However you measure it, the ordinance is intended to be symbolic. It's for appearance's sake and not our citizens'. Laws drafted for symbolic reasons are laws that shouldn't be proposed at all.

With 482 hastily assembled words, I urge you to vote NO on legislation for looks. Vote NO on legislation for appearances. Vote NO on Ferndale's so-called Human Rights Ordinance.