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Thank you for your service

It is the custom around here that any time someone is identified as a veteran of the armed forces, people say “thank you for your service” to them. There was a time when veterans were sometimes treated with disrespect—after the Vietnam war, for example. On a day like to day set aside as a national holiday for veterans, going out of one’s way to thank them seems appropriate. On other days it seems a little odd to put “thank you for your service” in the same socially required position as “how are you?” and equally meaningless.

Serving in the armed forces is a difficult and demanding job, sometimes requiring great sacrifice, sacrifice that can extend long after leaving the service. I also keep in mind the families of veterans for their sacrifice too, and firefighters, police, social workers, nurses, pastors, school teachers, paramedics and a host of others who work hard for the good of others, often at great personal sacrifice.

So to our veterans and all these others, “thank you for your service.”

23

Opening the open thread

I’m going to write this article and see if I still agree with it at the end.

The entire issue of free speech vs. good order involves trade-offs. This blog ran for a long time without any bans. Anybody could say anything. But there came a time when some commenters appeared who had the ability to hijack discussions, get everybody angry, and generally make it impossible for the commenting community to function. I banned some people, and in fact I banned quite a few people, and sometimes I banned one person under a host of names.

I tend to ban people who use sock puppets, and people I think are here only to provoke conflict. Whatever the reasons for a ban, they are subjective and of necessity applied in the context of my own biases.

The way a ban works now is that any comment from a banned individual is placed in moderation, not automatically deleted. I see them even though you may not. I generally delete them.

I tried something before called the off-topic dump where banned comments could be moved. The dump was time-consuming to maintain, and it didn’t allow responses. That project was discontinued.

So I’m going to try something else, using the open thread to allow uncensored speech (with the exception that copyrighted material, personal attacks and personal information on non-public figures is not allowed there or anywhere). Under this new policy, folks will still be in moderation, but posts on the Open Thread will be generally approved. Folks in moderation who post in other areas may be approved provided they are polite and not provoking a flame war, or the comment may be moved to the Open Thread when off-topic, or it may just be deleted.

33

Vote!

VoteHereTomorrow is election day in the United States for federal offices and for many state and local ones. I’ll be working as a poll manger myself, and so I have already voted absentee. I encourage everyone eligible to vote. Turnout matters. I expect pretty much every candidate I voted for to lose. Still, voting is my right, and I will be counted.

While working tomorrow, I will take off my partisan hat and park the bumper-stickered Obotmobile more than 200 feet from the entrance to the precinct voting place. Voting is a right; voting is a civic duty; voting is a celebration of American freedom.

Still not my problem

I’ve been over at WorldNetDaily commenting on their article “Media star jumps into Obama Eligibility Debate.” Birther commenters are arrogantly spouting total counterfactual nonsense, and I am shooting them down, at least a few—there are so many (“African,” “40 experts say it’s a fake,” “no one has seen the certified copy” …).

My original “Not my problem” essay was from April of 2013, and in it I give a corollary to my life principle that “Some things are my problem, and some things are not my problem, ” namely, “Your being a birther is not my problem.”

This web site grew out of a desire to put some material up in an accessible form so I wouldn’t have to waste time arguing with innumerable individuals one on one, and I don’t spend a lot of time doing that. The site was not created with the expectation that it was needed to accomplish some grand purpose, or to influence the 2008 election (which had already happened). It was not created to keep the country from tipping into absolute crazy. It’s just here to provide information to those who are interested.

imageFrom time to time, a birther story leads me to read about other conspiracy theories, the most recent a variety of stories that Obama will declare “marshal law” and cancel the 2016 elections. I am reminded that the conspiracist domain is vast, and I must remind myself that it is not my problem.

Something not being my problem seems to me analogous to the legal concept of standing. My harm from conspiracy nuts is not particular and individual. I don’t suffer more from them than the general public. Any attempt to particularize the damage is speculative and hypothetical. Nobody elected me prosecutor or juror on a conspiracy theorist case. Birthers and other conspiracy theorists may be my hobby, but they are not my problem.

Good citizenship, Dr. Conspiracy’s other hat

My joining Civitan International has nothing whatever to do with this blog. Civitan’s motto: “builders of good citizenship” and questions of citizenship covered on this blog are purely coincidental. That said, the question of how a good citizen acts does relate to both of them. While birthers like to put on the robes of patriotism, I think birtherism is neither patriotic nor representative of good citizenship.

I believe that quality public discourse is a civic virtue, and that extends to this blog. I am proud of the 3,562 articles published on this site, particularly those articles that educate, inform and correct misinformation. That said, the 2012 presidential election is over and nothing that birthers do really matters any more (unless a rogue birther branches out into criminal acts). Countering birther nonsense is not as valuable, now that nothing is at stake. Consequently, I am spending less time blogging about birthers these days.

I wrote earlier that I had signed up to be a poll manager in my county. I take my oath next Tuesday and I’ll be putting in 14 hours at the polls come election day. Attending my local political party meetings has also been on my agenda. I have been working on Habit for Humanity houses a lot over the last couple of months. I am on the board of the local Civitan Club and do several jobs for my church. I volunteered at the Special Olympics. Indeed I now have to put everything on a calendar to avoid conflicts, I am scheduled so much. All of that is on top of quite a bit of tourism. So these days I’m wearing many hats.

Dr. Conspiracy on the roof wearing Hard Hat

I don’t list all these volunteer activities to say what a fine citizen I am, but to suggest to birthers more productive ways to channel their energies. I have the luxury of being healthy and retired, making my particular choices possible, but others can be good citizens in other ways.

First US Ebola case; Doc leaves country

A semicolon does not imply causality, and actually I left the US before the Ebola case was confirmed. All I’ll say is that I haven’t met Lucas Smith, and I haven’t found any new birth certificates for Barack Obama.

Normal blog operations will resume when I return in a few days.