T.J. Leyden is a former member of the skinhead movement, and is the subject of national publicity today because of his book, Skinhead Confessions. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve seen interviews, and I get the gist. He is a rarity in that he saw the error of his life-path and realized he could still change.

Sounds like the biblical character, Paul, huh?!

I hope more people can realize change is not only possible, but ready and available. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who have no idea that they’re aligned with groups who with similarly categorized hate-speech. They won’t change because they don’t know they need to.

Unfortunately, the drastic groups–such as the skinheads, KKK, Hutaree, et al–do no not hold a monopoly on hate-speech and dangerous group think. Solipsism is rampant in religion (e.g. those who believe they are the only ones or only way), politics (Tea Parties), and nationalism (our country is and needs to be the greatest). Since these associations are so widespread, it seems like things are as they are because it’s easy to think in these manners, but it’s not. It’s learned.

Check out a playground. Watch the kids interact. If you catch them early enough, kids aren’t interested in who believes what or who looks like one thing or another. They are an open community. Granted, their desires are selfish in that they are highly motivated by pleasure, but that motivation exists in them in its basest form. Children learn bullying, segregation, hatred, racism, etc., from external sources.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that belief is selfish or that those who are convicted of their beliefs are somehow akin to hate groups. I am saying that it’s a slippery slope once you begin to force upon others–whether through unfair recruiting or derogatory speech–a belief or method of thinking. The all too common result is the extreme application of those beliefs, where it’s not enough to merely believe something, and we see dissatisfaction at the fact that others do not “see it my way.” When this dissatisfaction gives rise to exclusivity and the spread of speech that decries, belittles, ostracizes, and derides, it has gone too far and is no different than Leyden’s former associates. The good news is that, like Leyden discovered, there is still time to change.

Freedom of speech should have been called a freedom of thought.

When I was younger, we lived next to a family who had a dog that barked rather viciously at us as we walked in our yard or to our cars. I remember hating that it was so unnerved by our presence, and I couldn’t help but wish that if the dog could only get to know us it would in fact make our coming home a high point in the day!

I didn’t think we could do anything about the dog. Everyone can have a dog, right? That it barks comes with the territory. But my dad said something about the canine that made a lot of sense to me even then: “I don’t care that they have one, but my family and I shouldn’t have to be nervous going about our business.”

That made more sense than the right to own a dog.

Like the right to own a dog, everyone has a right to their opinion. Our “dogs,” however shouldn’t belittle people or cause anxiety as they go about their business.

In short, in America you can proudly attend the political rally or church of your choice. But when your methods start looking like that dog in our neighbor’s yard, you may be crossing the line into semi-oppression or at the least the appearance of such.

Does your preacher teach acceptance, peace, and altruism, or is there an increasing air of exclusivism and intolerance? Are your political affiliates looking for reasonable solutions or spending time demeaning the other side and anything with that side’s name on it?

Filter everything.

T.J. Leyden saw the light in some of the most extreme of circumstances. I hope others can find similar change in spite of less conspicuous, but equally dangerous, motives.


Quick, which is bigger?  10 or 11

If you said 11, you’re so right.

If you had to pick, would you rather be penalized $10k or $11k?

Did you say $10k?  Me, too.

How many dead is worse?  10 or 11

Yup, 11 is worse.

Now, let me ask about parenting. 

Would any of these things be proper punishments:

– punishing your child for lying by lying to her/him?

– punishing your child for drinking by becoming a drunkard?

I guess the list could go on.

What I think I see here is a small pattern.  If we’re faced with the horrid decision between 10 bad things and 11, we’d choose 10, and it would be ludicrous to punish a child for a transgression by exemplifying the very transgression.

Let me add this, I totally agree with you.  I’d much rather have 10 and I wouldn’t dare inflict punishment by doing that for which I’m punishing.  I think I’m a logical being (at least my Dad thinks so), and although I am no parent, I have two of the best.

“What’s the point?” said the reader.

I thought you’d never ask: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/11/11/virginia.sniper.execution/index.html

I find neither logic nor pleasure in the fact that America is still so arcane in its belief in the death penalty.  There is no retribution.  Nothing is corrected.  No wrong has been erased. 

In this case, instead of 10 dead, there are 11, and we chose it by not stopping this infantile method of supposed recompense.  We have punished a killer by becoming killers, willingly.

Fine, fine example.  God is not pleased.


I guess I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know it would be so soon.  Rumors of the supposed fear of assassination flew around like cluster flies.  I don’t have a clue how many times I had to hear it.

The fear is that since Obama in not only black but also has a nominal reminiscence to Islam he will somehow be the target of extremist violence.  Of course, that fear is seldom voiced prior to a heated conversation about Roe v. Wade or Prop 8.  No, it mostly comes after discussion hits an impasse and the Obama dissenter suddenly feels extreme compassion and fears for Obama’s life. 

It seems like the same voices crying this caveat, however, are the same ones who like to flaunt our military power as if it were invincible.  Emotions fly all over the faux claim that Dems are going to cut military and weaken our ability to stand as a world power.  (Didn’t Republicans vote to send troops to war, but cut off their funding? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cenk-uygur/republicans-vote-to-cut-o_b_72853.html

Here’s the connection: Back in February, our Navy did something quite spectacular.  With amazing precision, the sailors destroyed a speeding satellite.  They calculated and executed.  It was spectacular.

Did we need a missile for that?  I don’t know.  Was it a misuse of tax dollars?  Not sure.  Was it a message to the world?  Absolutely.  It said, “Go ahead, try us.  We dare you.”  Our military skill has increased far beyond the pace of mainstream technology and has set the standard for the rest of the world’s armed forces.

If we can shut down a speeding missile with pin-point accuracy, don’t you think we can stop a redneck or and extremist?  All a Tennessee and Arkansas duo had to do was talk about it and they were thwarted with brute force.

Those who would attempt to remind us of the past presidential assassination attempts, let me remind you of a major difference between the Kennedy/Reagan/et al security teams: they are all pre-9/11.  I couldn’t even take a bottle of water to ESPN’s College GameDay at Vanderbilt!  The security detail for the presidential debates began weeks and weeks ahead of time, all for a few hours of appearances.

My advice: use the confidence that you’ve held in our military in all applications.  If we can stop a speeding satellite with one missile, we can surely stop a few backwoods extremists with an entire Secret Service security detail.