By R.H. Joseph
They may convict Eric Rudolph for those crimes with which he has been associated but should I ever elect to embark on a felonious lifestyle, no matter how heinous the deeds, I will never serve a day in the penitentiary. You might say I've got 'em on a technicality.
As I have a right to be judged by a jury of my peers, yet live in a society dominated by the intellectually listless and the willingly gullible, whom shall they get to sit on the jury? The credulous are not my peers.
Recall we are a nation that collectively elected to believe completely unsubstantiated (dare I say, deliberately fabricated) propaganda regarding the potential threat to our commonwealth by Iraq.
Rather than attend to those facts readily available to anyone with a modicum of concern for the historical repercussions of America's recent invasion, my fellow citizens chose to remain intellectually inert. A majority actually believe Iraqis were among those that flew the aircraft on Sept. 11. They are not my peers.
Equally astonishing, when faced with recalcitrance by an ally and fully appreciating the intellectual and philosophical depth of their constituency, America's elected officials adults, mind you voted to change the name of french fries. Those who revel in such infantile symbolism and those unable to discern the childishness, the abject stupidity of such behavior, they are not my peers.
Likewise, those who believe patriotism is nothing more than singing songs that celebrate everything with which they identify, they are not my peers.
Nor are those who believe taking that which does not belong to you, in this case a country rich in the resource to which we as a nation are addicted, so you can have more of everything, they are not my peers.
The same must be said of those who believe Bush's assertion that Americans are entitled to the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.
My peers define patriotism as making sacrifices for one's country. Sending young men and women to kill young men and women so Americans can drive unjustifiably immense vehicles and revel in a cornucopia of disposable products so they never have to wash anything or slice anything is unconscionable.
Rallying behind a president who would do such a thing is not patriotism. Those who rationalize such behavior, or almost elect a president who justifies such behavior, they are not my peers.
Would my peers suggest Americans have a right to the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed but no right whatsoever to exercise their free speech?
To the contrary, my peers would consider it irresponsible of the citizenry not to be well informed and not to raise their voices in protest when blatant, self-serving propaganda conflicts with honor and justice.
In being aggressively engaged with world affairs my peers would be similarly outraged when a select few are able to control the dissemination of news in America. My peers are well aware there is little difference between countries that censor their newspapers and television stations and those that permit the domination of the media by individuals committed to a particular political agenda.
Even as we are in the midst of such a suppression of unbiased information our passive nation sits blithely chatting on their cell phones whilst trapped in pervasive gridlock in their air-conditioned SUVs.
Furthermore, their elected legislators have provided tax incentives to encourage them to purchase even more SUVs. Neither these politicians nor those who elected them to enact such legislation are my peers.
My peers do not consume triple cheeseburgers or cigarettes until they become morbidly obese or consumed by cancer and then sue the manufacturers, alleging they destroyed themselves because they could not resist the advertising.
My peers take responsibility for their actions. More than that, they think, they analyze, they assess.
My peers know that an absurdly large vehicle with a carefully calculated macho name will not in fact make the owner unbelievably attractive to large-breasted women. Being intellectually engaged with the world, that is to say, taking responsibility both as a citizen of the United States and a member of the human community, they realize the purchase of such a vehicle is deleterious environmentally and politically.
Ownership is therefore selfish, nothing more. My peers are not selfish.
Look at Bush's popularity ratings, consider the essence of his allure: we have a right to our lifestyle, and ask whether this cleverly manipulative politician does not feed the irresponsible, insatiable demands of the American public.
These people are not my peers.
R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.