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Monday, April 23, 2007



The Orientals believe that everything in life is balanced within a continuum of positive and negative influences. There is much truth in this philosophy. When we look at the qualities each individual might have we can observe that even within the good traits there are potential seeds of ones destruction.

An individual can be a great and powerful leader. With this energy used positively a person can achieve great things. Here I might mention individuals like Gandhi, Einstein, and Pasteur. Used negatively, great evil can be perpetrated, as in the case with Hitler, Idi Amin, and Stalin. The same can be said of our Constitution, a document of great aspirations.

I have said many times in my Blog that we in the US are a somewhat arrogant people. We think that our civilization will last forever because we are free. Some of the negative philosophies in our lifetime did not last very long. The Russian revolution lasted about 70 years; Hitler’s Third Reich which was to last 1,000 years lasted only 12 or so years. I believe we feel that Democracy may be the one which may never end. But, in Ancient Greece Democracy did not last. In the West today our Democracy is still very young. We are about 230 years old as a Nation and we are seeing our Democracy beginning to fall apart. Now I know this is my opinion and many will disagree with me, some, perhaps, vehemently.

What makes us believe that a document which was written by a bunch of renegades, radicals, and anarchists, albeit well intentioned, could last forever without significant change. Yes, we have made some changes along the way, but in my opinion not enough and not sufficient to handle the new dangers facing us today.

I am not criticizing our forefathers for they were responding to what they needed to do to survive and to the dangers facing them at the time. There is little doubt that they were also very wise men who created a magnificent document, our Constitution, which has served us well and can continue to serve us well if changes are made. Our forefathers could not have anticipated the infinite type of problems which would face our Nation in future years.

The real problems are the people. This may sound heretical to some who believe that the people can rule themselves. But, let us look at the facts. If at any day we conduct a poll on whatever subject you desire we can find the following results. With some subjects about 48% may be for, 49% against, and 3% with no opinion. Here we have potentially 51 % of the people disenfranchised if the 49% majority has their way. Too often a politician interprets a majority of 5% as having a mandate. What kind of mandate is that with so many essentially with so many individuals not represented?

Another scenario is that 33% are for, 33% against and 33% do not have a clue. What can one do with such results?

The people elect representatives who after a while forget whom they represent and begin to represent the powerful lobbies. There are individual representatives and Senators who become career politicians. And sometimes they think their families have been anointed to become politicians. Soon many of these people forget what the real world is all about. It is like the professor who teaches his students how to become business persons without the professor having owned or been successful at business himself. You know, it is the standing joke about the Ivory Tower vs. the Real World.

There are some aspects of our Constitution which are beginning to cause us problems, namely the freedoms of speech and of the press.

Concerning the freedom of speech, we have already acknowledged the need for limitations, for instance we cannot yell fire in a crowded theater or use so-called hate speech.

The problem is that some influential people are free to iterate outright falsehoods and this deceit is disseminated to the unwary public who believe it. Although no one can force another to tell the truth, there needs to be some accounting for what one says. We ask for an accounting to a person’s deeds, but not to what one says. One cannot rob a store or kill another, but what about words which on some occasions can be outright dangerous?

Concerning the freedom of the press, this aspect of our Constitution is really getting out of hand. A very negative event occurred this week. NBC followed by every other television network, including cable, aired the very disturbing so-called manifesto of the young man who killed 32 persons plus himself at Virginia Tech. All networks showed the tape over and over ad nauseam many times three to four times each hour on every hourly program during the day and night. Do we really need that kind of exposure?

With this intense exposure the stations are sure that as many people view the ravings of a mad man as is possible. After 24 hours noble Fox News decided to stop airing the disturbing tape and they took great credit in having initiated the ban. But later in the evening O Reilly and Greta Van Susteren continued to air snippets of the tape they promised earlier in the day not to show. What hypocrisy!

But, over and over and over and over again the tape aired. Among the large numbers of persons viewing the taped message of the killer are, no doubt, a few who wish to copycat the crime. We or better stated the networks enable these other potential crack pots to get the idea to copycat. Now, the networks say that it is their function, if not their DUTY, to inform the public. I have heard this before. The networks are never to blame because they are carrying out their constitutional duty to function as a free press and inform the public. But where does the duty to inform begin and the responsibility not to inflame end? The authorities investigating the Columbine disaster are still withholding evidence from the investigations of the two shooters because they believe the evidence is potentially too disturbing to potential would be copycat criminals. There is something to be said about this approach. The networks are just eager to get their hands on this information so that, following their duty to inform, they can show such evidence over and over again.

What about the comments this week of Alix Baldwin? He made some very nasty remarks to his daughter and I do not know what prompted his anger. One really does not appreciate the anger and hatred engendered between two people having undergone a divorce. Now I am not an admirer of Baldwin. In fact, I dislike his politics very much. But what he said between his daughter and him should have remained private. Is there no privacy anymore? But there are the networks again airing the audio of his conversation over and over. The gall is that the networks are blaming Baldwin for the embarrassment and damage to the psyche of the daughter for the public airing of the audio which they, the networks, are causing. It was not Baldwin causing the public airing. Boy, am I becoming a radical defending the likes of Baldwin! But then, what is right is right.

Concerning the subject of privacy, a noted television ex judge was commenting on a case where someone was suing another who photographed her while in a public toilet. This judge stated that the individual who was suing did not have a case because there is not an expectation of privacy with the use of a public toilet! Are we going nuts in the USA? A reasonable person, if there are any more left, could not make this crap up!

I believe the press should be free, but I also think there should be some accountability. If what they show on television can be shown to incite another to perform a criminal act, the networks should not be able to hide behind the constitution and say the constitution made me do it. This holds true for makers of games which program a susceptible individual to commit a crime or suicide. I know there is at least one person out there who disagrees with me! But, please remember, I said susceptible individual of which there are many out there. Do you think it is the food or perhaps Bill O Reillys Cool Aid?

How we correctly balance the forces within our Republic will be the true test of our survival. It does not look good at this time.

This is my opinion today, for whatever it is worth.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.


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