Friday, December 30, 2011

My Take on the News: Bratty Tweets, Christmas Bombing, Permits for Carols

It's almost a week after Christmas, some kids in America didn't like their presents, worshipers were kipped in Nigeria, and Malaysia is protecting its citizens from Christmas carols.
  1. Bratty Tweets, Daft 'Pranks'
  2. Christmas bombings
  3. Caroling By Permit Only
I spent more time on the 'bratty tweets' thing, but not because I think it's more important than dead people and dubiously-sensible governments. The Los Angeles Times op-ed about kids, greed, and regrettable 'comedy' got me thinking about respect, family, and technology.

1. Bratty Tweets, Daft 'Pranks'

"Bratty tweets about Christmas gifts disturb parents"
Deborah Netburn, Technology, Business, Los Angeles Times (December 28, 2011)

"It's not easy being a kid today. Everywhere you turn it seems like adults are out to make you look like a spoiled, entitled brat.

"The most recent example is comedian Jon Hendren's list of real tweets from kids who were angry that they didn't get an iPhone, or iPad, or a car for Christmas. Hendren assembled the tweets on Christmas Day and published them on his own Twitter feed.

"Here is a G-rated sampling:

" 'No Iphone. I hate my dad.'

" 'Just cried for like 2 hrs straight cause i didn't get a car.'

" 'Seems like I'm the only one who didn't get an Iphone for christmas.'

" 'If you got an iphone i hate you.'


"Hendren's list of bratty re-tweets quickly made its way around the Internet, showing up in blogs and other Twitter feeds where adults expressed dismay at the entitlement of the youth today...."
There's quite a bit going on here. For starters, those quotes show massive lack of respect for others.

Respect is important. And, like I've said before, it works both ways. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2214, 2222)
The notion that 'children should respect their parents' has been misunderstood, misused, abused, and ignored. But that doesn't mean that it's a bad idea.

Again: Respect Goes Both Ways

Parents must respect their children, too. It's 'in the rules' for Catholics. Not that we all pay attention to the rules: and that's another topic.

Here's a short selection of what the Catholic Church says about family:
  • The Christian family
    (Catechism, 2204-2206)
  • Duties of
  • Education of and respect for children,
    (Catechism, 2221-22242229-2230)
  • Education of children through daily prayer
    (Catechism, 2685)

'Tis the Season to be Greedy?

I posted about holiday spending two weeks ago:Basically, what I said was:The Church says that greed is one of the seven capital sins.1 (Catechism, 1866) "Avarice" is greed on steroids, sort of.2

Where was I? Bratty complaints about insufficiently lavish Christmas presents; family; greed. Right.

Moving on.

'Kids These Days!?'

There's some good news in that Los Angeles Times op-ed. Adults were expressing dismay at 'those consarned kids' - on Twitter.

There are probably adults in America who are as convinced that the Internet has doomed civilization, as some were in my own youth, that television and the telephone were destroying America's youth. Maybe we've learned: or maybe I'm just not reading the ink-on-paper publications they'd use.

The Los Angeles Times writer has a refreshingly sensible opinion about 'the depraved youth of today.' Putting it another way, I pretty much agree with this:
"...We agree that the tweets are super obnoxious, but we can't help but wonder whether kids today actually feel more entitled than ever before, or is it that thanks to sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, adults are just aware of how entitled kids have always been, and more likely to exploit that entitlement, which could just be called 'childhood' and 'adolescence.'..."
(Los Angeles Times)

'Pranking' Kids

I'm not happy about children and teens behaving like spoiled brats. But I doubt that
  • all children and teens are greedy and disrespectful
  • All parents
    • Are paragons of virtue
    • Ignore their family responsibilities
      • Teaching by word or example that greed is okay
      • Allowing disrespectful behavior
      • Disrespecting their children
Huh? "Disrespecting their children?" Remember what I said about "respect" being important? Children should respect their parents: but parents must respect their children. It's in the rules:
"Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God's law."
(Catechism 2222)
I don't think that practical jokes are, by themselves, wrong. But I also think that a child might learn a regrettable lesson from a 'funny' parent. I also think that 'but everybody's doing it' isn't a good excuse for children or parents:
"...Consider the popular YouTube challenges that late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel occasionally issues to parents to essentially prank their kids and record their reactions.

"Kimmel's Christmas challenge -- in which he asked parents to give their kids terrible Christmas presents and then keep the camera rolling while the kids cry or patiently explain that they didn't want an onion for a present -- has had 14.25 million views on YouTube...."
(Los Angeles Times)

2. Christmas bombings

"Nigerian churches call Christmas bombings
'declaration of war'
Soni Irabor, CNN (December 28, 2011)

"Nigeria's Christians are losing faith that the government will protect them from attacks by Islamic extremists and will 'respond appropriately' to future killings, the country's leading church group warned Wednesday.

"In a public message to President Goodluck Jonathan, the Christian Association of Nigeria called the Christmas Day targeting of churches in several cities 'a declaration of war on Christians and Nigeria as an entity.' The group also criticized its Muslim counterparts for failing to condemn the Islamic militants blamed for Sunday's attacks, calling their responses 'unacceptable.'

" 'The Christian community is fast losing confidence in government's ability to protect our rights to religious liberties and life,' its president, Pentecostal pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, said in the statement. 'The consensus is that the Christian community nationwide would be left with no other option than to respond appropriately if there are any further attacks on our members, churches and properties.'..."
I've posted about vengeance and just war before.

I sympathize, in a way, with Nigeria's boss:
"...[President Goodluck] Jonathan responded with a statement of condolences for the attacks, which the church group said killed more than 50 worshippers,[!] and a call for Nigerians to unite behind the government's efforts to pursue those responsible. Nigerian authorities have blamed Boko Haram, a fundamentalist Islamic movement that mounted similar attacks the previous Christmas.

" 'The best thing is for all religious leaders, opinion and traditional leaders, youth leaders and women leaders to come together and assist government,' Jonathan said. He pledged that his administration 'will surely do more,' but added, 'The terrorists are human beings. They are not spirits.'..."
Part of what Jonathan said is true: "terrorists are human beings." I've been over that before:I also think that it would be nice, if folks who believe it's okay to blow up a church with people inside decide to be nice from now on. But I don't think that a national government can, or should, count on that happening.

Which is not the same as denying the humanity of the killers.

3. Caroling By Permit Only

"Malaysian Christians reject permit to sing Christmas carols"
CNA (Catholic News Agency) (December 19, 2011)

"Christians from two churches in Malaysia rejected a requirement that they will need a police permit to sing Christmas carols in their parishes or homes.

"Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing, head of the Malaysian bishops' conference, told Vatican-based Fides news that the country will soon be in 'a police state' if authorities continue demanding such 'bureaucratic requirements.'

"Two churches in Klang outside the city of Kuala Lumpur recently received notices from police asking for the names and addresses of people who were singing Christmas carols, claiming that a government mandated permit was required for those wishing to sing carols in their homes or churches.

"Father Andrew Lawrence, head of the diocesan 'Herald' newspaper, called the police action 'a strict interpretation' of current regulations on 'worship and freedom of religion' in the country...."
Father Lawrence also said that "after protests by local Christians, 'government representatives have denied the need for such authorizations.' " I'd be willing to write this off as some over-zealous police officer's blunder: but that 'caroling by permit only' isn't an isolated incident:
"...Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had promised voters in 2011 that he would overturn unpopular laws which stifle the press and allow for detentions without trial.

"Instead, the Malaysian Congress sparked widespread protest after passing a new measure titled the 'Law on Peaceful Assembly' which enables more government control...."
Am I glad to be an American? To live in a country where the government doesn't try to control how I worship?

One question at a time, please.

Yes, on the whole, I'm glad to be an American. This country allows citizens a remarkable degree of freedom. With occasionally-spectacular exceptions.

The Establishment Clause is supposed to protect Americans' freedom of religion. Not give brittle secularists freedom from religion. I've been over this before:There's more, in "Related posts."

Related posts:
1 "Capital sins" are called that because:
"...They are called "capital" because they engender other sins, other vices.138..." (Catechism, 1866)
2 Synonyms for avarice include: avidity; close-fistedness; covetousness; cupidity; grabbiness, greediness, miserliness; parsimony, penny-pinching; penuriousness; rapacity; stinginess. A 'dictionary' definition:
  • Avarice (noun)
    • Reprehensible acquisitiveness
    • Insatiable desire for wealth (personified as one of the deadly sins))
    • Extreme greed for material wealth
    (Princeton's WordNet)


Brigid said...

Missing end quote for block quote: ""Hendren's list of... the youth today.... "

No start quote: "Father Andrew Lawrence, head of the diocesan"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Oops, found, and fixed. Thanks!

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.