Thursday, October 17, 2013

No Doubt I'll Fit Right In

I’ve been absent from my blog lately because of my focus on the paper I’ll be presenting at an Oxford University Roundtable October 22-23. The task was even more demanding than I had originally imagined. I leave for England this weekend.
                The roundtable consists of 13 presenters, 12 of whom (guess who 13 is) are college professors. The topic we’re addressing is “For-Profit Education” and the challenge it presents to contemporary higher education.
                For the past nine months I’ve been preoccupied with researching and writing about a topic I had scant knowledge of this time last year. The university wanted an “outside” opinion, and hence my invitation to attend. So I’ll be standing among Oxford Ph. Ds armed with my diplomas (I may take them with me) from LaSalle and Rider colleges.
                Hopefully, I’ll be seated close enough to King Arthur at the roundtable to ask him some questions that have obsessed me since my youth:
                • Where did you really get Excalibur?
                • Were you offended by the Press referring to the Kennedy administration as “Camelot?”
                • Was Merlin as good as David Copperfield, Doug Henning, or Penn & Teller?
                • What the hell’s a ‘grail’ anyway?
                I don’t want to stick out like an onion ring in a bag of fish and chips, so I’ve begun to (over) use some British terminology in an effort to blend in among the U.K. crowd. I spend as much time as I can in the loo; I’ve packed my bags in the boot of my car; I’ve watched as much British telly as I can, and I now keep my ale in the warming tray of the stove (oh, excuse me, I mean cooker).
                I have a good feeling about this trip. With all this preparation, I think I’m going to fit right in.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Does She Chew Slippers Too?

I like dogs.

I've had seven over the course of my lifetime—two as a kid and five as an adult—two German Sheppards, two Dachshunds, Irish Setter, Beagle, Cocker Spaniel.

I trained (or attempted to) all the dogs I had as an adult. For more than 30 years now, I've chosen to live without pets. I have neither the wherewithal, the time, nor the inclination to have a dog in my home. Those days are over, much the same as my days of owning a motorcycle (I've only had six of those).

Dogs are wonderful animals, and I heartily believe they have earned their sobriquet as “Man’s Best Friend.” They are loyal, funny, interesting, protective, and often looked upon as a part of your family. That seems reasonable, since it’s widely believed that dogs look at humans as…well, just another dog!

As much as I like our canine friends, there is a noted separation in the acceptable behavior for each of our respective species.

• Humans eat (predominantly) at a table, and more often than not we use utensils (even while enjoying a hoagie, I usually use a knife to plunge the contents down into the roll).
•Dogs eat and drink by plunging their faces into a bowl.

• Humans relieve themselves (again, predominantly) in private at appliances made specifically for that function.
• Dogs let it fly in public.

• Humans share intimacy (porn stars and Hollywood pigs notwithstanding) with the one they love—in private.
• Dogs will fornicate on the municipal common and hump any available human leg when the mood strikes.

None of these activities are to dogs' detriment; they are not human, and hence do not have our powers of judgment, nor our sense of propriety. We appreciate them, respect them for what they are, and our affection for them is renowned.

We do think it’s funny though, how they so often act like people, almost mimicking us as they join us in the family car, saunter down the sidewalk with us, whimper when they want something, or lean against us with a sad face when they know we are feeling blue.

It’s outright charming when a dog acts like a human. It’s what endears them to us.

The converse however, is untrue. It’s outright nauseating when a human acts like a dog.

So I actually felt a little diseased when I saw Miley Cyrus doing her dog act at the August 25th Video Music Awards. Now I realize this kid is trying anything she can get away with to resuscitate or prolong her showbiz career. But true talent doesn't need a gimmick.

And talent precludes the need to act inhuman (like a dog) in front of literally millions of fellow human beings.

I don’t know if Cyrus’s bestiality will benefit her career. Heaven knows, stranger things have happened within the entertainment industry. But I’m certainly not going to ever invite her over for dinner at our home.

As I mentioned, it’s been more than 30 years since I owned a dog, and I got rid of all my dog bowls.

P.S. Nominate someone to be a Champion of Adult Literacy by going to for the Nomination Form or by calling 610-876-5411 for more information. Deadline to receive nominations is Wednesday, September 18, 2013.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Real Country Showed Up on the Fourth

Although I've been a journalist for more than 20 years, I am in no way a “news junkie.” I seldom watch TV news, nor do I listen to news on the radio (except the traffic report when I’m in the car). I read newspapers sparingly—that is to say, selectively. And of course, I have been trained to pick out the bias in all reporting (yes, it’s there; believe me, some more so than others!).

Most who do watch, read, and listen to mainstream news (and entertainment) media will no doubt tell you that the tendencies in today’s culture are to tolerate everyone’s point of view, celebrate (whatever the hell that means) everyone’s lifestyle, and crusade for what you believe in—i.e. speak your mind.

Undeniably you’ll travel a smoother road as long as your point of view, your crusade, and your speech tows that cultural line: The one painted so stealthily through our social conscience by the media.

So you should join the overwhelming majority (if media tendentiousness is to be believed) of Americans who:
• Tolerate casual sex, infanticide, and animal worship.
• Celebrate homosexuality, bisexuality, and nature worship.
• Speak out against all outdated ideals, such as theism and patriotism.

Then you’d be well on your way to conforming to the contemporary norm. You’d be solidly in line to becoming a secular humanist. (Sounds great doesn't it—Secular humanist? It’s one of those hip phrases that pretty much means whatever the hell you want it to mean. Stalin and Hitler would both have loved it!)

Not that I was ever seriously tempted to trust media predisposition to their vision of the new American society, but I had my faith physically and spiritually reinforced this Independence Day at the parade in Pitman, New Jersey.

As a Christian, I've always been taught that Faith, Hope, and Charity are the three cardinal virtues upon which true humanism, if you will, is based. Those three facets of our uniquely human nature were obvious the morning of July 4th all along Broadway in Pitman.

What we celebrated that day stood out as contingent after contingent passed in review:
• Diverse church groups professing their faith—most musically—without demeaning those whose point of view may differ from that of their own.
• Diverse patriotic groups—military units past and present, Boy, Girl and Cub scouts, Masonic lodge, First Responders, and elected officials from the state and locals levels.
• Community service organizations who crusade all through the year for their particular cause to benefit their fellow human.

And all along the route that hot and humid day, families, couples, teens, preteens, old soldiers, young parents, and plain ol’, everyday Americans, smiled, applauded, and enjoyed their country as it passed in review.

I realized that morning that this was the real America—the one I lived in. The one that the entertainment industry ceaselessly tells us is no longer relevant. The one that the media tells us has gone the way of the dinosaur. The one that academia tells us is corrupt and in need of replacement.

We’re still here. We’re still the bedrock. We still serve. We still have faith. We still hope. We still espouse charity.

We tolerate those who don’t share our point of view, and ask only for reciprocation.

We celebrate our heritage and worship as per our constitutionally mandated choice.

And we speak our minds, so thank you for listening.

The Gloucester County Community Church was just one of the symbols of true American Independence that marched in Pitman, New Jersey on the 4th of July.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

One-for-Four Equals Legitimacy

In my opinion, most sane, mature Americans would not abolish the Constitution. Most certainly they would not fool around with the Bill of Rights—those first 10 precious guarantees of individual freedom.
There are of course attempts to attack one or the other sections of the Bill—most notably the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right of citizens to arm themselves, and the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly…
Minutes after some madman uses a firearm illegally in this country, there is normally a well-organized chorus assembled to sing out the evils of the tool he misused, while excusing his temperament, demeanor, or lack of basic humanity.
And should we ban (or even condemn) a religious movement because of its dogmatically-held beliefs—beliefs that may run counter to pop culture or the trending political bias?
My answer would be to judge the person for his action, regardless of the tool being used or the doctrine espoused. Indeed, Article Three of the Constitution establishes our judiciary and levies the authority to apply the law and to issue punishment.
Seems simple: The courts decide what (if any) crime has been committed and what price must be paid by whom. The government attorney states their case and the accused’s attorney states theirs. Beneath it all is a battle for rights—rights of the accused, rights of the public to be safe in their homes, rights of the individual to hold onto and profess solemnly-held spiritual beliefs.
Thank God (and our Founding Fathers) for that Bill of Rights. And here’s more good news…the expense of hiring a judge, jury, attorneys—that can be paid for from our taxes. Even the accused can be represented by government-funded counsel.
And if all else fails, there’s always the ACLU. How they work can be illustrated by two recent examples.
The ACLU defended religious freedom when they joined with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in 2011 to sue the FBI for allegedly violating the civil rights of Muslims in Los Angeles by hiring an undercover agent to infiltrate and monitor mosques there.
So the Administration (our Administration) excludes mosques from being monitored for terrorist support and encouragement. But they keep a close eye on those fanatical Christians, even though, according to Investor’s Business Daily, independent surveys of American mosques reveal about 80 percent preach violent jihad or pass out violent literature to worshippers. Perhaps the ACLU believes that literature is not quite as violent as the Sermon on the Mount.
The ACLU also is considering defending the right to assemble (I guess) by instituting litigation against the City of Wildwood, New Jersey, which recently passed an ordinance that would ban what they see as indecent dress on their boardwalk—clothing that is worn so loose that undergarments or even bare bottoms are displayed.
It’s comforting to know that the ACLU uses its donations to defend our rights, especially the right to preach violence against innocent law-abiding citizens, and the right to walk about in public with your gochies (or more) exposed.
Does it make anyone else wonder what the hell this outfit thinks is important? I’ve always found the ACLU downright silly (undies exposure) or dangerous (terrorist cultivation) in what they choose to defend. To my way of thinking, they assault the Constitution more so than shield it.
Consequently, I’ve always considered their acronym rather oxymoronic: American Civil Liberties Union—I find them neither American, nor civil, nor guardians of our liberties.
They are, however, a union, so I assume by their way of thinking, a one-out-of-four ratio for truthfulness is enough to keep them legit, and to keep those donations flowing in.

Monday, June 3, 2013

When Did We Become British?

I have great admiration for our British cousins, so I was sincerely flattered when asked to speak at Oxford University. I of course accepted, and look forward with great anticipation to this fall, when I’ll visit England for the first time.

The seminar will concentrate on higher education and how it is evolving, but I’ll also be interested in doing a little snooping while I’m over there.

I’m going to see if I can find some clues as to why we here in America seem to be reverting to being a part of Britain once again.

Perhaps I’m overreacting, but notice, if you will, that at Wal-Mart stores (at least the ones around south Jersey) you are directed to enter and exit to your left, sort of like driving on the left side of the road as they do in England. But we keep to the right in this country and pass on the left. Don’t we?

I’m starting to notice this tendency in many other places, particularly at Wawa and my local post office, where people increasingly enter and exit using the left side of the double-door. It’s even happening in my church, where the right hand door is often left closed—that is, until I reach the exit. That’s when I go through the right side, which, in this country, is the right side.

I’ve even had (many) people hold the left hand door open for me as I enter a Wawa. Imagine how disappointed they are when I ignore their misguided courtesy and pull the right-hand door open for myself. (Well, somebody’s got to take a stand for American Independence!)

This disturbing, bogus/foreign trend has now reached the entertainment and news media—the two wannabe national style-setters. Movie and television scripts are now peppered with the British police phrases, “He went missing,” or “The child has gone missing.”

As a long-time devotee of British TV, I’m familiar with this syntax. As a long-time American police officer, I can tell you indisputably that that phraseology was never used in Philadelphia.

When I mentioned this to someone whom I heard use the phrase, “The child has gone missing,” she asked me incredulously, “Well, what did you say?”

I told her we said, “The child is missing.” And of course, the more sensible way of asking, “When did the child go missing?” would simply be, “When was the child last seen?”

The respect I have for our British forebears is second to none; I credit our American work ethic and civility to our English roots. In many ways, it’s sad to see both evaporating as our culture becomes more forcibly diversified.

We fought a successful war about 230 years ago to throw off the English yoke of foreign government, while keeping the basics of English common law and English manners. And of course, American English is not vastly different from the Queen’s English. I believe these things have been significant to our prominence in this world.

But our sense of propriety and decorum seems to be eroding. It’s going…going…and may soon be gone. And I’ll hate to see it go. When it does, it will not have gone missing, it will simply be missing from our social structure.

Now, I’d like to wrap this up, because I’m going to visit the loo.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Guns and the Man in the Middle

When it comes to “Gun Control,” I think I’m somewhat of a centrist. I like the feel of a gun in my hand. And I have owned many.

I’ve been firing guns since I was 17; that’s when I entered the military. After four years in the Air Force and 22 in the Philadelphia Police Department, I have had ample training with handguns, rifles, and shotguns.

When I therefore go to a gun dealer in my (now) home state of New Jersey, one would expect that I could legally purchase a single handgun for private use with some semblance of efficiency, given my background.

So why the devil does it take three months for me to be “approved” for a handgun purchase? Now I’m not talking about approval for carrying  a handgun. Federal law already dictates that I can legally carry a handgun in any state, by virtue of my honorable retirement as an American law enforcement officer.

It seems paradoxical that federal law permits me to carry a firearm, but the Peoples’ Republic of New Jersey wants me to wait three months before they give me “permission” to buy one.

But I chose to live here, so I abide by Jersey’s law—foolish and excessive though I believe it to be. Personally, I want only those legally fit to operate a firearm to be able to legally own one. Does that mean I’m a gun control advocate? Or does my affinity for guns make me a gun nut?

Doesn’t the answer depend on what exactly is meant by those very broad and over-generalized terms? Some activists called Charlton Heston a gun nut, while other advocates looked at Adolf Hitler as a gun control fanatic.

Ask any sane individual (whose job does not depend on votes), and likely they’ll say that, yes, they do believe in some kind of firearms’ control. Indeed; how could any reasonable adult declare that guns should be made as available as loaves of bread?

But what I mean by gun control can be vastly different from my neighbor’s definition of those two words.

I have no difficulty with my state of residence checking backgrounds to insure that a potential purchaser of a gun is not someone who is likely to use a firearm for an illegal purpose. And in today’s culture of immediate communication, the three-month New Jersey wait is unjustifiable for any law-abiding American, whether a law enforcement officer or a hairdresser. (Active New Jersey cops must also go through this process if they wish to buy a gun. Absurd, isn’t it?)

There are those, however, whose idea of gun control is to make guns illegal—illegal to own, to transport, to manufacture. Furthermore, some even argue that any gun—legal or not—removed from the street, is a step in the right direction; ergo police should not even be armed.

The trouble with that assertion is simple: It doesn’t remove the illegal user. And wouldn’t drug dealers, thugs, gang members, and organized crime support that idea of gun control!

Sensible control of firearms lies somewhere between New Jersey’s indefensible quarter-year waiting period and a casual exchange of guns like buying cans of soup from a Wal-Mart.

I’ve been investigated and fingerprinted so frequently (military service, police department work, teacher’s certification), that I have no problem with anyone checking my background, and I’m inherently suspicious of anyone who rants against such investigations.

As a retired law enforcement officer, I have to be certified annually to maintain my right to carry a firearm. That means a trip to an approved firing range and evaluation by a licensed firearms trainer as I fire dozens of rounds from various positions. I believe I’d be a fool to object to that.

Can someone explain why I should not object to a similar precondition for any potential gun owner? Especially since most are neither as proficient nor as experienced a shooter as I. If you want to own a gun, don’t you also want to be schooled in the legality and proficiency of its use?

In my opinion, if you can handle the background check, and then a certified trainer declares that you can safely handle a gun, I believe the Constitution mandates that you have a right to legally acquire a firearm.

Perhaps the more accurate way to say it is that the Constitution mandates that our elected officials have no right to restrain you from legally acquiring a firearm.

So…am I a gun nut, or a gun control advocate?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Give Those Mighty MACs a Hand

Embattled Rutgers Basketball coach Mike Rice is embattled no more. He’s been fired for hitting, shoving and rebuking his players with homosexual slurs. Now certain members of the Rutgers faculty are delivering an ultimatum to university President Robert Barchi, insisting that he resign over his first response to Rice’s behavior.

Barchi leveled a stiff fine ($75,000) on Rice, suspended him, and made him attend anger-management counseling. Losing about 12 percent of his salary and attending behavior-modification classes may seem like a realistic punitive reaction to Rice’s conduct—and it apparently was five months ago when all this took place last fall—but then something was added to the equation.

The media got hold of a video tape showing Rice carrying on at a 2012 practice, and…well, you know what happens next. Call it media overkill, call it airing dirty laundry in public, call it letting the cat out of the bag, call it whistleblowing, call it, “Uh-oh; I thought I took care of all this!”

Whatever tag you put on this issue, one factor becomes increasingly clear: Many, if not most private decisions at this level eventually become public. You would think President Barchi had to realize that, especially since another nearby university president (Penn State’s Graham Spanier) found himself attired in similar dirty laundry just a few short (by news media standards) years ago.

During my last three years as a Philadelphia Police supervisor, one of my prime responsibilities was to train all of our command staff—more than 200 senior officers—in media relations. Every month we would put about a dozen commanders through an intensive two-day course concerning the “Do’s  & Don’t’s”  of dealing with print and electronic media.

And one of the platitudes that I would (try to) hammer home was, “Assume the media is eventually going to find out; so disclose sooner rather than later. Get it out, and get it over-with!” Or, as the IHM nuns taught us back in St. Dominic School, “Whatever you do in private, if you act as though you’re doing it in the presence of Jesus, you can’t go wrong.”

Or something like that.

It’s sort of like ripping a bandage from a wound—Do it quickly and get the discomfort out of the way.

Too many high-powered individuals in high-profile positions never seem to take that dictum seriously. They instead seem to adopt the, “It won’t happen to me” attitude: Richard Nixon…Graham Spanier…Hillary Clinton…Robert Barchi…

Who will be next? And you can be sure; there will be a next time.

Contemporary media is everywhere. With cell phones, iPads, and PCs, every boorish busybody is an instant worldwide reporter. Not as omnipresent as Jesus, of course, but close enough to give us pause when considering how we will be held accountable for our actions.

Those nuns were really ahead of their time, weren’t they!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Let's Close This Cafeteria

The unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has brought forth the expected plethora of pundits expounding on exactly who should be named to replace the pontiff. This of course is not surprising. It’s analogous to what went on when Andy Reid was fired as the Eagles’ coach after a 14-year run.

Sports talk show hosts were inundated with names of once and future coaches that the fan base put forth, ad nauseam, on a daily basis. Underlying all the speculation was the certainty that the team’s ownership would name whomever it thought was the best available choice, fan approval notwithstanding.

No educated fan would dare to believe that an owner would actually poll his season ticket holders to see exactly who he should hire. Football fans—despite the widely-held rowdy stereotype—have enough sense to realize this. Not so, apparently, with many Roman Catholics, if any of the man-on-the-street interviews published in the Philadelphia Inquirer are an indication.

                Some of the remarks:
                “I think it’s time to name a pope from Latin America…they should name one of ours. They’ve only named Europeans until now.

                “If I had my way, an African should be the next pope. …we have a black president. So let’s just feel the impact of a black pope.”

                “I hope the next pope will be a little more liberal and consider allowing …women to become priests. …part of the reason the Church is losing its members (is because) they’re not listening to the people.”

                Really? They’re not listening to the people? Real Catholics—those of us who have been thoroughly schooled in the faith—know from countless classes in religion, catechism, Bible history, and theology, that the pope is the vicar of Christ on Earth. He stands in the “shoes of the fisherman,” i.e. Simon-Peter, upon whom Christ established his Church.  {Matthew 16:18}.

                Christ charged the Apostles with spreading his good news. He didn’t send them forth to gather opinions like a dozen survey-takers marching through a large mall, each with a clipboard in order to “listen to the people.”

                Quite the opposite, if Scripture can be utilized as a guide:
                “Going therefore, teach ye all nations…teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. {Matthew 28:19-20}

                “If you love me, keep my commandments. {John 14:15}

                Jesus of Nazareth laid down the rules very clearly. The pope, as his spiritual descendant should not—cannot—veer from those directions now, checking the latest fad in acceptable popular behavior, so he can deviate from Christ’s original intention for the sake of making the Church more “suitable” to today’s culture.

                Jesus called them commandments, folks; not suggestions. And his Church has endured for 2,000 years, despite the immorality, criminality, and deviancy of some of its members. He did, after all, leave his Church in the hands of imperfect beings.

                And that Church has had a line of successors to Simon-Peter that stretches through the centuries, past Constantine, Muhammad, Charlemagne, Marco Polo, Gutenberg, Columbus, Michelangelo, Luther, Calvin, Copernicus, Galileo, Bach, Jefferson, Lincoln, Marx, Einstein…

                That line will continue with Benedict XVI’s successor. I hope and pray it’s a man who continues the policies of Jesus, and not someone who takes a popular referendum from his flock to see where they want him to take “their” church. I rather it be someone who steers Christ’s Church—the one he founded two millennia ago.

                Catholicism is not a religion for wimps. It doesn’t bend and flex to suit the current cutting-edge in fashion or philosophy. As a priest once told me, “Jesus’ teaching is the same now as it was in 1948.”

                Or in 48, for that matter, shortly after he told the multitudes to “Enter at the narrow gate…for wide is the gate and broad is the way to destruction…”

                The new pope cannot “listen to the people” in a pseudo ‘reverse’ Sermon on the Mount, to find out where he should take the Church.

                Today’s cafeteria Catholics (those who ‘pick-and-choose’ what Catholic dogma they’ll follow) will no doubt encourage him to widen the gate beyond all measure. Some may want it damn near wide enough to drive a bus load of atheists through.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Nomination for 'National Human'

The 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the court case that legalized abortion—brought back to my mind a decision I had made while working on an article for the Cape May County Herald back in the 1990s. Looking back, I think I made the wrong choice.

I had occasion to interview a zoologist who headed up a program that looked after injured turtle eggs. Specifically, it was those eggs that were damaged by passing automobiles that had hit female turtles as they crossed a south Jersey highway to reach their nesting spot.

He described how the interns that participated in this program were literally—literally—in tears as they picked up the injured eggs and brought them back to the facility where they were nursed back to health so they could hatch.

At the time, I was tempted to ask what I thought was a very obvious question, but my journalist’s objectivity prohibited me from taking the interview in a direction that was never intended. In hindsight, I now wish I had taken that path, because it would have made for a far more interesting and illuminating article, albeit one that would have no doubt annoyed my editor.

The question I wanted to ask the zoologist was, “These interns seem very respectful of life in general, would you say they are the type of young adults that one would find tearfully protesting in front of abortion clinics?”

My expected reaction would have been a terse and emphatic, “Oh no!” followed by the obligatory, “They would likely see that as a woman’s decision.”

But it never got to that juncture. I bit my tongue and carried on the interview as though I actually cared about foraged turtle eggs and the valiant attempt to save unborn reptiles.

I recently was shown a poster that stated the fine for destroying an eagle’s egg is a quarter of a million dollars or up to two years in prison. Seems fair. After all, it’s our national bird, whereas the country really doesn’t have a national human.

At any rate, that’s where this culture stands, or so it appears—careful with those bird and reptile eggs; we could be losing hundreds, even thousands every year. The eggs inside a human? In the US alone, there are more than 3,000 abortions a day.

But here’s a curious fact: In most states, if a pregnant woman is murdered, the assailant is charged with two counts of homicide: one for the killing of the mother, and one for killing of the unborn child. Amazing how the crime turns—not on the life of the innocent victim—but on the identity of the person deciding that a life should end. Even an innocent one.

And maybe this mayhem could come to an end if Congress would just designate someone as the National Human. I have an early nominee: Norma McCorvey. She’s the “Roe” in Roe vs. Wade.

For everyone’s information, today, Norma McCorvey is pro-life. Oh, and she’s also converted to Catholicism.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I'd Like To See the FBI Involved

I like to watch the British-produced police dramas on TV—shows you may not have heard of, Like Wire in the Blood, Taggart, A Touch of Frost, The Murdoch Mysteries… The plots are more interesting and intricate (and a lot less politically-correct) than the standard American-made police shows.

The foreign shows are hard to find sometimes; I gain access to most via Netflix. But in the end, they are all still mostly fiction with a little fact thrown in here and there.

When the old Bob Newhart Show was in Prime Time back in the 1970s, I asked my cousin, who is an Oxford-trained psychologist, just how accurately the show portrayed the life of a psychologist, since Newhart played a Chicago-based therapist in the popular sit-com.

“It’s not at all accurate,” he exclaimed in mock horror. “The guy never heals anyone!” So he then asked me if any police shows met with my approval, since I had been a cop for about 10 years at the time.

I had to think about that for a while. How police are portrayed in TV, movies, and books has always been a sore-spot with me. Most are fantasies in every sense of the word. After a short pause, I told him that the sit-com Barney Miller was the show that most closely resembled how cops interact with both colleagues and citizens—and of course, even that was almost pure make-believe.

Such is the makeup of the entertainment industry. Never forget that they deal in fiction; that is, the material they present is not true. I’ve touched on this subject before, but I feel we need to be reminded of this every once in a while—perhaps on a regular basis.

That came home to me while I watched a police-themed drama on TV recently wherein the standard intra-department animosity was depicted, with the FBI exercising authority over a municipal police department with their usual arrogance, and the local police cowering with their usual petulance.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We worked closely with the guys in the Philadelphia FBI office. We even went drinking with them a time or two after an assignment had been completed. They were cops just like us, only with a bigger budget. My men especially liked taking rides with them in their helicopter.

As far as jurisdictional squabbles were concerned, well, we were only too glad to turn over a case that appeared to be more a federal issue than one handled at the municipal level. Hey, it meant less work for us! But in every fictional murder mystery or police procedural, law enforcement departments are represented as self-centered, self-serving, self-interested, and in no way cooperative with their like-minded colleagues.

And by the way, the FBI has no “authority” over any municipal police department, unless the crime is a violation of a federal statute. And of course, they then take over, and the locals are usually more than happy to relinquish that part of their caseload.  The FBI is not in the chain-of-command above any city’s police department. They handle federal violations, while locals handle municipal and state crimes.

But this is definitely not the way the entertainment industry paints the law-enforcement picture. Pretty soon they may even be telling their viewers that it’s illegal to log on to

Now that would be a crime the FBI should investigate!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Journalist Criticizes a Journalist

In November, child actor Angus Jones—one of the stars of the hit sitcom Two and a Half men—publicly criticized the show that has made him a multi-millionaire. In effect, he condemned the vulgar tone of the program.

Anyone who has seen this program knows that the kid is only confirming what they already have seen and heard themselves. The plots are about sex, the characters are sex-driven, and the dialogue is not so much sexual innuendo as it is crude and openly sexual remarks that one could hear in any junior high school yard. Yes, 13-year-olds laugh like hell at this stuff.

But the success of this long-running sitcom is testament to the depths to which our culture now stoops when looking for 22 minutes-worth of mindless entertainment. I confess that I watched this program the first two years of its existence, but soon grew tired of the ever-increasing focus on the bedroom and the bathroom—the two rooms about which Two and a Half Men seems to be concerned.

In a December 1, 2012 column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, their television columnist found fault with Angus Jones, saying that he sabotaged his career by this “bizarre” rambling of his. Of course the columnist also noted that the 19-year old is “newly evangelized.”

Well, well…I think we’re finally getting to the meat of the criticism. How critical would the television critic have been if Jones say, spoke out against the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms, or passed negative judgment on the pro-life movement, or defended atheism as sober way of life? Personally, I think Jones would have been painted as a hero for speaking his young mind.

But the moment you announce that Christianity is the impetus behind your stand, you’ve committed one of the news media’s seven deadly sins: Thou shalt not try to profess your belief in God—at least not if you make your living in the entertainment industry. Morals be damned.

The columnist even went so far as to say that if the young actor was truly appalled at the bawdy nature of the show, shouldn’t he give away his hefty salary to the more needy, since this would be the truly Christian thing to do?

Just as the columnist gives his salary to the needy, I suppose.

I see the incident as much more straight forward. Jones has simply grown up during the show’s tenure. He started as a 10-year-old, and is now 19. So why shouldn’t he be a bit more selective, more learned, more mature?

Maybe the lewd remarks he laughed at when he was 10, now seem juvenile and unworthy of an adult audience as he enters his 20th year of life. Yeah; I think the kid is growing up. And as a grown up, I think he can do what he wants with his salary.

He can even donate some of it to the training of journalists. Even if it’s just one course. I would vote for Objectivity 101—a course sadly lacking in many schools of journalism.