The Neutral Zone of Free Expression

The Neutral Zone of Free Expression, what is it?

A Neutral Zone is a sort of “buffer zone“, or “No Man’s Land” that lies between the boundaries of two or more territories or areas. When talking about “Our Rights”, the “Neutral Zone of Free Expression” is the “Grey Area” between the rights of two or more people or groups. This is the area where conflicting rights meet head on and interfere with each other.

In this article I would like to touch upon the subjects of “Free Speech” and “Free Expression”, I would also like to discuss some aspects concerning why ‘Free Speech isn’t always Free” and use the situation of “Removing Holocaust-deniers pages from Facebook” as a prime example. I also wish to write a little about Brian Cuban and his fight to have these ‘hate groups’ removed from Facebook. Let’s begin with Brian Cuban.

The Plight of Brian Cuban

Today I read Brian Cuban’s the latest entry in his notes on his Facebook page. The entry was entitled “A Final Word (for now) On Holocaust Denial” and is a part of the on-going issue of ‘removing holocaust-deniers pages from Facebook”.

In the opening paragraph Brian stated:

“It has never been my intention to minimize the “idea” of free speech in the Facebook realm regardless of the actual application of the 1st amendment. I value the concept of the free and open exchange with every bone in my body. I also understand that FB is attempting to shape its policies to mirror 1st amendment ideals to encourage “free speech”. This is commendable.”

I feel compelled to comment upon this comment because I have been reading Brian’s articles and commentaries for over a year now and I firmly believe that he is one man who “never intended” to “minimize the idea of Free Speech” in any way, whether the comments he made concerned Facebook or any other social site on the Internet. I believe Brian actually values the concept of “Fee and Open Exchange”, perhaps he values it even more than I do. Furthermore I believe Brian feels that FB does make the “attempt” to ”shape its policies to mirror the 1st Amendment ideals” in order to ‘encourage Free Speech” and he doesn’t intend to make it seem as if Facebook is some evil entity hell-bent on destroying ‘the rights and freedoms” of it’s membership in some on-going pursuit of some deep, dark Facebook agenda.

I have no doubt that Mr. Cuban is as concerned about our rights and freedoms as I am and it bothers him how some people out there utilize such honorable ideas as “The Freedom of Speech” and “The Freedom of Expression” as a protection to spread their own agenda of hatred, intolerance and warped sense of justice. It may also bother Brian that so many people who were born and raised in America, educated in our schools, and lived in this country their entire lives are unaware o f what our rights and freedoms truly mean.

Brian seems knowledgeable about our rights, as well as the responsibilities that goes along with our rights and freedoms. This knowledge is shown when he states:

“There however is a fundamental difference in how Mr. Zuckerberg and I view this idea. To overuse a cliche, while we have free speech in this country, not all speech is in fact free. Certainly not hate speech.”

Over the years I have heard many people “cry” and moan about their ‘rights’ being violated through censorship, but in almost every case it is never mentioned that others have rights as well. It never seems to enter the person’s mind that something they have said may conflict with the rights of another. It is evident that Brian is well aware of this fact and understands that “Free Speech” really doesn’t mean we have the right to say anything we wish at any time we want.

I am under no misconceptions here, Brian and I probably could have lengthy arguments over what the First Amendment covers and what it don’t. We could walk away from our discussions never agreeing with each other on particular issues, however I feel confident that Brian would understand the fact that a person doesn’t have the right to ‘say anything they like” without the possibility of some repercussions in return. I am positive that he would understand the fact that along with our rights and freedoms comes a responsibility.

The Problem With The First Amendment

The problem with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides “every citizen of the U.S.” with the “Right” that our founding fathers called “The Freedom of Speech”. In the years since the signing of the U.S. Constitution and the passage of our Bill of Rights, the courts widened the meaning of the term “Freedom of Speech” to include the things that became known as the “Freedom of Expression”. In addition, regardless of exactly whom our founding fathers originally felt held these rights, it has become accepted by law that “every U.S. Citizen”, at least those who are “Adults”, can and will enjoy these rights. Some argue that anyone within the borders of the U.S. enjoy these rights that the citizens of our country enjoy.

America today has a projected population of 306,429,890, we can assume that approximately 200 Million of those people are “Adults”, or of the age of majority, and enjoy the full and equal rights of an adult citizen of this country. This means that:

The rights and freedoms of the Christian Fundamentalist are just as important as those of the Atheist.
The rights and freedoms of women are equally important to that of men.
The rights and freedoms of the minority are equal to that of the white man.
The rights and freedoms of the Homosexual is no less than that of the heterosexual
The rights and freedoms of the young are as important as those of the elderly.

We also should bear in mind that the opposite of what is said above is true.

The rights and freedoms of the Atheist is just as important as those of the Christian Fundamentalist.
The rights and freedoms of men are equally important to that of women.
The rights and freedoms of the white man are equal to the rights of the minority.
The rights and freedoms of the Heterosexual is no less than that of the homosexual
The rights and freedoms of the elderly are as equally important as those of the young.

In short, no person’s rights in this country outweigh that of another, with a few exceptions of course. I’ll discuss that later.

So what happens when we enter the Neutral Zone of Free Expression, where the ‘rights’ of one conflicts with that of another? Whose rights outweigh whom?

I think these questions are things that people like Brian Cuban struggle with often because they know the importance of our “Rights” and “Freedoms” and they understand what is at stake if we abuse these things (or aren’t willing to stand up and protect them). So without further adieu, I discuss this issue of “Free Speech” and “Our Rights”, I welcome Brian (or anyone else for that matter) to consider the concepts that follow and analyze the ideas for whatever value they can get out of the information.

What is The Freedom of Speech?

The Freedom of Speech is a right that the majority of Americans know about, but not everyone understands. You can see their lack of understanding in the words they say. So let’s begin by discussing the First Amendment, especially the “Freedom of Speech”.

According to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The “Freedom of Speech” is the freedom (or right) to speak freely without censorship or limitation, however over the years the courts broadened the term to include verbal, non-verbal, visual and symbolic forms of “Expression” as a part of our “First Amendment” rights. This became known as the “Freedom of Expression”.

Exceptions to the First Amendment

The freedoms (or rights) granted to us by the First Amendment, in the United States, are not “all encompassing”. There are certain “Exceptions to the First Amendment” that are recognized by the courts which ‘limit” or “censor” our “Freedom of Speech”.

The justification often used by the courts is usually along the lines of “the expression in question could cause substantial harm to the public” or “the expression in question is considered as speech that the Founding Fathers could not have intended to protect”. There are also, traditions that have been a part of the old common law traditions from England, which was the basis of our American legal system, which have also been used as a part of the justifications used by the courts. These are some of the “Exceptions to the First Amendment” that the courts uphold today:

(1) Defamation: Defamation consists of a publication of a statement of alleged fact which is false and which harms the reputation of another person.
(2) Causing panic: False statements that may cause a panic, such as shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.
(3) Fighting words: “Fighting Words” are words that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.
(4) Incitement to crime: It is a crime to incite someone else to commit a crime, such as inciting a crowd to riot.
(5) Sedition: It is prohibited to advocate unlawful conduct against the government or the violent overthrow of the government.

Other items that may be viewed as “Exceptions to the First Amendment” includes:

(A) Obscenity: What we may consider as “Obscenity” may not always be viewed as “Obscene” in a court of law. The U.S. Supreme Court has established a three-pronged test for obscenity prohibitions that would not violate the First Amendment:

(a) Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest
(b) Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law
(c) Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

(B) Establishment of Religion: Some speech is restricted because it constitutes the establishment of religion, which is itself prohibited by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Is “Offensive Speech” an exception to the First Amendment?

It has been argued that offensive speech or expressions should be an exception to the First Amendment, however the US Courts have rejected this idea. It has basically been decided by our courts that we, as mature adults, are expected to have to put up with a certain amount of things that we may not care to hear and that everything shouldn’t have to be regulated by law.

Philosophy and the Freedom of Speech

John Stuart Mill, an English Philosopher, stance concerning the freedom of expression and the government in 1859 provided a test for appropriate government interference with human liberties. This is found in his well-known “harm” principle:

. . . the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.

The Problem With Facebook

The problem with Facebook, as with most forums or social sites on the net today, is the fact that these places want to be ‘popular’ and in order to be ‘popular’ they have to appeal to the general public. Popularity of a site is an important thing to most site owners because the more popularity your site has, the more it can bring you things such as wealth and fame (It’s good for stroking one’s ego, but I won’t get into that for it may sound “insulting”.)

The best way for any message forum, chat room or other social site to be popular is to allow the illusion that these places are ‘democracies’ which allow the members of the sites to have such ‘rights’ as ‘the freedom of speech’. The problem is that these forums are not really democracies at all, in fact most are ‘Benevolent Dictatorships”. As Brian Cuban stated:

“The prorogation of 1st Amendment ideals in the private realm is a two way street. People have the right to express their opinions, FB as a private entity has the right to choose not to publish them. These types of decisions are made in newspapers and other media all over the world.”

Brian is absolutely right in this, “Facebook” pays for their site and they are held (by law) to do certain things… but for the most part they are a private entity that allows people to join and use the services they offer. This basically means that ‘Our First Amendment Rights” are null and void on their system and in it’s place are “Rules and Guidelines for the site”. Facebook, however, does make the attempt to provide us with some of our ‘First Amendment Rights’ and that is commendable (as Brian stated earlier in his article).

Finally…

In brief I have shown what the “Freedom of Speech” and “Freedom of Expression” are, I have also shown where there are “Exceptions to the Freedom of Speech” that are accepted by the courts. In addition it has been shown where Facebook is a private entity and isn’t obligated to provide its members with our First Amendment rights. It’s been said that the attempt to provide Facebook members with the “Freedom of Speech”, or a form of it, is commendable. Additionally it’s been stated that these “Holocaust-deniers’ are mostly interested in spreading their agenda of hate and hate speech is something frowned upon by the laws of various countries and Facebook itself.

So what’s the problem?

In any society there must be a set of rules which everyone who is a part of that society are expected to follow. These rules are set up for various reasons, most of which are for the purpose of maintaining peace and tranquility within the communities that arise within that society. If we do not set the rules and enforce those rules when required, we end up with a chaotic state where everyone is doing their own thing. This chaotic state usually ends up with disharmony and disruptions within that society that could result in simple arguments or expand into more serious trouble stemming from rage.

In what some refer to “The Real World” our words are often tempered with the fact that we are in close proximity to others who may not react well to what we say. The intelligent, reasonable person tends to pick and choose their words in order to avoid unpleasant or dangerous situations. Of course there are plenty of instances where people do not do this, however (as I said) “The intelligent, reasonable person” picks and chooses their words.

The Internet is a place that can be just as dangerous as the real world, but is often shielded by such things as the “anonymity factor” and ‘feeling safe through distance”. Many people on the net become less careful of the words they say because they simply feel that no one knows who they are, and even if they did the odds are in favor of nothing serious happening in response to the words being said. The mere fact that a single site on the Internet can reach millions of people and there is little in the way of personal danger to the person gives rise to the willingness of trolls and hate groups voicing their opinions as they wish. Spreading misconceptions about our freedom of speech and freedom of expression act as tools to protect the harassment and hate-mongering factor.

Some people on the net will ‘test’ the authority of site owners through various means, they will even go to the extent of creating blogs that do nothing but denounce the site and make claims of the staff and management of the site ‘violating our rights’. This doesn’t take away the fact that it is the site owner’s responsibility to control their site and try to keep things ‘civil’ for all of their members to enjoy.
When a site announces a policy of providing ‘the freedom of speech’ and ‘the freedom of expression’ to it’s members then the people making the decisions must either understand what these terms mean or write up their own definition for the terms and place that definition in the terms that their members agreed to follow. Site owners and those responsible for moderating the site should avoid using ‘blanket terms’ without a set definition for those terms. That only breeds confusion and chaos amongst the members of the site.

Facebook needs to take a stance on this issue and quit playing with terms of vague meanings. They need to avoid using terminology that can have different meanings to different people and say outright exactly what they mean by such terms as “The Freedom of Speech”, “The Freedom of Expression” and “Our First Amendment Rights”. Facebook would benefit greatly by not catering to ‘hate groups’ and ‘net abusers’ who wish to use our rights and freedoms as a shield for spreading their poison.

Principle Source:


Freedom of Expression at the National Endowment for the Arts

Are There Women Pedophiles?

The BBC site had an interesting article called “Are There Women Paedophiles?”, which addresses the question of “Women pedophiles”. My initial thought upon first seeing the article was “How stupid, of course there are women pedophiles”, however as I read the article the realization of there being people in this world who think that “minorities” cannot be racist made me ask the question of “Why can’t some people think that there are no women pedophiles?” This thought made me want to explore the “Pedophiles and Women” issue.

First, let’s discuss some words and terminology!

I hate it when I use words or terminology I think people should understand and find out that I have to provide definitions because the people don’t know, or ignore, the true meaning. I hate it even more when I use a word or phrase that I think I know only to find out I am in error. I found that whenever I am discussing important issues, if I add some basic definitions for the words and phrases I plan to use… the conversation doesn’t get sidetracked by arguing over the terminology being used because of a thing I call “Personal Definitions”.

What is a “Personal Definition”?

People have a tendency to define words and terms according to what they think they mean… or “how” they want to define the words and terms being used. Whether a person is simply mistaken in what they think the word or term means or they alter the word’s meaning intentionally to make the word or term mean what they want, the end result is the same… it causes confusion in the conversation and may cause arguments because the whole idea being expressed is altered in some way. These ‘changes’ in the meaning of the word to suit oneself are a part of what I call “Personal Definitions”.

Pedophilia and Pedophile:

I use the dictionary at Answers.com often due to the site giving results from several different sources. It often saves the time and trouble of having to search multiple sites for a definition. Answers.com defines the word “Pedophile” as meaning “An adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children”.

I decided to visit the Merriam-Webster website next, I found they defined the word “Pedophile” as “one affected with pedophilia”. This caused me to search the Merriam-Webster site for the definition of the word “Pedophilia” and I found that it meant “sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object”. So basically Merriam-Webster is saying that a “pedophile” is “a person who has the sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object” or “A person who is sexually attracted to a child or children”. I figure the meaning of the word “Pedophile” for both dictionaries mean about the same thing.

The problem is when one is defining terms where the law is concerned then sometimes the meanings are a little different, so I like to provide a legal definition for certain words and conversations. The Law.com website tells us that the word “Pedophilia” is “an obsession with children as sex objects. Overt acts, including taking sexually explicit photographs, molesting children and exposing one’s genitalia to children, are all crimes. The problem with these crimes is that pedophilia is also treated as a mental illness, and the pedophile is often released only to repeat the crimes or escalate the activity to the level of murder”. I then went to the Duhaime.org website, which is another legal dictionary site, and found “Pedophile” defined as “A person afflicted with pedophilia, a sexual perversion in which children are preferred as sexual partner”.

I am sure that everyone sees the reoccurring trend for the definition of “Pedophile” and “Pedophilia” in these definitions, so I see no need to search any further for definitions. We can say that a “Pedophileis a person who has a sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual partners.

The next word to define is the word “Child”.

What is a Child?”

It seems really dumb to have to define the word “Child” for a normal person would most likely think that everyone should know the definition, however while doing my research on this subject I found out that some people have different ideas over what constitutes “a child”. In some forums and articles people claimed that a child was ‘anyone under 18’, in other places I’ve found that some claimed that a child was “someone not yet an adult’ or a ‘Juvenile’”. I even ran across a person saying that a child is “someone who is immature’. Upon looking up the definition I found that a “Child” had two definitions, as follows:

a. A person between birth and puberty.
b. A person who has not attained maturity or the age of legal majority.

Uh-oh … just wonderful! So what do “Puberty”, “Maturity” and “Legal Majority” mean? I simply know that I, or someone else, would muck up one or more of these definitions. It’s inevitable due to the fact that the definition should be obvious and these things are a vital part of the topic. Sometimes it’s a pain being such a believer in Murphy’s Law.

Defining Puberty

Puberty is the period of human development during which physical growth and sexual maturation occurs. Answers.com gives this description for the word “Puberty”:

Beginning as early as age eight in girls—and two years later, on average, in boys—the hypothalamus (part of the brain) signals hormonal change that stimulates the pituitary. In turn, the pituitary releases its own hormones called gonadotrophins that stimulate the gonads and adrenals. From these glands come a flood of sex hormones—androgens and testosterone in the male, estrogens and progestins in the female—that regulate the growth and function of the sex organs. It is interesting to note that the gonadotrophins are the same for males and females, but the sex hormones they induce are different.

In the United States, the first sign of puberty occurs on average at age 11 in girls, with menstruation and fertility following about two years later. Boys lag behind by about two years. Puberty may not begin until age 16 in boys and continue in a desultory fashion on past age 20. In contrast to puberty, adolescence is more of a social/cultural term referring to the interval between childhood and adulthood.

Once again I wanted more of a “Legal Definition” for the word “Puberty” and at the ‘Lectric Law website I found this definition:

In the civil law, the age of a man was divided as follows: namely, the infancy of males extended to the full accomplishment of the 14th year; at 14, he entered the age of puberty, and was said to have acquired full puberty at 18 years accomplished, and was major on completing his 25th year. A female was an infant – til 7 years; at 12, she entered puberty, and acquired full puberty at 14; she became of fall age on completing her 25th year.

Age of Maturity/Age of Majority/Age of Consent

I like to use Wikipedia, unlike numerous people I have known on the net, for the reason that Wikipedia is often a good place to start or get leads for further research. I may cringe at having to use Wikipedia for my only factual evidence in anything, but that doesn’t make the online encyclopedia worthless. Wiki informs us about a term called “The Age of Consent”, it says “In the United States, the age of consent for sexual activity can vary by jurisdiction. Some states are as low as 16 years of age, while others are set at 18”. Wikipedia also tells us “The age of consent is the age at or above which a person is considered to have the legal capacity to consent to sexual activity. Both partners must be of legal age to give consent, although exceptions may exist when both partners are within a certain number of years in age. Persons below the age of consent may not, by law, give consent, and sexual relations involving such persons may be punished by criminal sanctions similar to those for rape or sexual assault. Non-violent sexual contact with persons under the age of consent may be punished as “statutory rape” or a similar legal term.

According to ‘Lectric Law, there is a term known as “The Age of Maturity” and it tells us the age of maturity is “The age when a person acquires all the rights and responsibilities of being an adult. In most states, the age is 18.

Nolo.com tells us the following about the “Age of Majority”:

Adulthood in the eyes of the law. After reaching the age of majority, a person is permitted to vote, make a valid will, enter into binding contracts, enlist in the armed forces and purchase alcohol. Also, parents may stop making child support payments when a child reaches the age of majority. In most states the age of majority is 18, but this varies depending on the activity. For example, in some states people are allowed to vote when they reach the age of eighteen, but can’t purchase alcohol until they’re 21.

Even though a person may attain the age of majority, he or she may still be subject to age-based restrictions (such as the right to stand for elective office, act as a judge, and many other matters).

Age of Majority vs. Age of License

Wikipedia has an entry about the Age of Majority, which tells us the “Age of majority is frequently confused with similar concept, the age of license, which also pertains to the threshold of adulthood but in a much broader and more abstract way. As a legal term of art, “license” means “permission”, and it can implicate a legally enforceable right or privilege. Thus, an age of license is an age at which one has legal permission from government to do something. The age of maturity, on the other hand, is legal recognition that one has grown into an adult”. Wiki adds “For example, in any jurisdiction, the age at which an individual is allowed to exercise the franchise (vote), leave school without taking a diploma, enter into legally binding contracts (other than for necessaries, to which no age of license applies), operate a motor vehicle, purchase and consume alcoholic beverages, and so on – these are all ages of license, at which the law permits an individual to perform certain acts and exercise certain rights, with or without any restrictions.

Let’s return to the discussion…

The article, “Are there women pedophiles” opened up with the following comment:

Paedophiles are invariably thought of as men and they mostly are. But do women commit sexual abuse against children, and if so, why is it rarely discussed?

The Perception of Pedophilia

The perception of what constitutes a “Pedophile” may differ from one person to the next for a variety of reasons. Let’s outline a few examples of what different people may think classifies another as a pedophile. As a special note, the word “Child” also includes teenagers up to 18 years of age.

The Moral Person: A person may define the word “Pedophile” in accordance with their degree of morality or ethics. For example: A person of strict morality may view anyone speaking of a ‘child’ in any way that he or she deems as ‘inappropriate’ as a Pedophile, whereas another person may be of the mindset that only the act of touching a ‘child’ in a sexual way makes one a pedophile.

The Agenda-guided Person: A person with an agenda of making it acceptable and legal for adults and a ‘teenager’ may view a pedophile as a person who expresses the desire to have sex with children under the age of 12 years old. A person with the agenda of making it legal, and/or acceptable, for adults to have sex with child may have the stance that there is no such thing as a pedophile.

The Unaware Person: A person who is unaware of the definitions of the word may think anyone having sex with a ‘Child” of 17 or younger is a “Pedophile” because they think that is what the law states.

Is it permissible for an Adult and Juvenile to legally have sex?

I am not a lawyer, nor a judge, but according to what I have read I have found that one of the most common misconceptions is the idea that a person is a juvenile until 18 years of age and anyone under the age of 18 cannot legally give their consent for sex. A parent may find the idea of their 16 or 17 year old being able to have consensual sex could be quite disturbing, but the facts seem to show that (at this point in time) a ‘juvenile” under the age of 18 may be able to have consensual sex with an adult. The whole legality of this depends upon the laws governing the area you are residing. A “Parent” can search the Internet for sites that provides you with the information for the various ages of consent for your area.

What’s the big deal about teens and sex?

Let’s open this up with something I found on the WorldLaw Direct web site:

It seems to many teens that adults are always making a big deal about people having sex under the age of consent. Many young people think that if they feel ready to have sex and they use protection, it is nothing to do with anyone else. But every teen needs to know the laws and what they mean.

Reading this reminds me of a saying that I learned a long time ago, it went “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things”. As a child I could not fathom the adult viewpoint, even though I thought I could at certain ages. The reason for this was due to the fact that I never had experience as an adult when I was a child and teen and even though the adults would provide me with their reasoning… I thought as a child of my rough age bracket would think. At the time my ‘learning” and “experiences” may have seemed vast to me, I didn’t realize just how limited I was. It was not until later in life that I realized how little I actually knew of the adult world around me, yet at the time I thought I pretty much knew it all because I had some experience and learned my lessons from books and school. In this article there were a couple of comments and replies made by the author that are similar to commentary I’ve often heard as a teen.

The first comment is “But our parents say it’s okay….”. The author states “That doesn’t make any difference – your parents don’t make the law. Teens can’t get around the laws for smoking, drinking or driving because their parents say so, and it’s the same with this. The age of consent laws always apply, whether you’re in love, or you’ve been together for ages, or you’ve had sex before”.

I’ve heard teens often say, while growing up, that their parents said they could do certain things that I knew the law said otherwise. The most common thing that the teens were using this comment as justification concerned alcohol and under aged drinking. Since I knew many police officers I knew that it didn’t matter if my parents said I could drink… the law said I couldn’t.

The second comment is “But it’s no-one else’s business. Why do we have these laws?”. The author’s answer is “Although many young people are mature enough to know how to deal with it if someone tries to get them to have sex, some teens are not grown up enough to know what to do. Age of consent laws are there to stop young people from being exploited by adults”.

I’ve tried this argument, when I was younger, and honestly believed in the idea of what I did was no one else’s business… it never worked with my parents, teachers, or the cops. Dad explained the situation rather well when he told me “I am responsible for you until you are 18 years old, everything you do wrong could come back on me and your mother financially and in other ways… so everything you do is ‘my business’, as well as yours!” I didn’t like that response, but I lived with it because he was right.

So can women be a pedophile?

The BBC article says “Women can commit a wide range of sexual offences, he says, including rape. And their victims commonly experience sexual confusion and a fear of intimacy. Anger can manifest itself as violence towards a wife or girlfriend in later life” and it goes on to say “Female offences against teenagers (hebophiles rather than paedophiles) are more of a mystery, he (Professor Kevin Brown) says, because victims don’t come forward, partly because in a patriarchal society boys are even expected to enjoy that kind of abuse, and not admit how scared they are by it.

Why would a woman become a Pedophile?

There are varying opinions concerning why a woman would become a Pedophile or Hebophile, the most widely accepted reason has to do with control. The BBC article states “One of the issues of controversy is the thinking that if women do this, it’s because men made them do it,” says Ms Elliot. I disagree with that. I think there’s no difference in the motivation between men and women, which is sexual gratification and power over a child. It’s very selfish.

In Summary

The question of “Are there women pedophiles?” can be answered in one word – “Yes!” According to the definitions, any woman who has sex with a boy under the ‘legal age’ (as defined by the laws of the area in which they live or the sexual act occurs) is as guilty of being a pedophile as a man who has sex with under-aged females. A woman can no more be excluded as a pedophile due to her sex than a minority can be excluded as a racist due to their skin color.

Dog naming and other oddities

This morning I decided to go to Razzmuffin’s Blog to do my weekly check on whether anything new was posted and found Razzie placed an article on his site called “Bo Obama and the Obamamization of America”. In that article he referred to a local Phoenix DJ named Chuck Powell and a comment he made on his show the other day. Chuck apparently made commentary upon the media’s insistence upon giving the White House dog a last name. Razzie also gave the address to the Chuck’s Blog Cabin site, so I decided to go check Chuck out.

On that blog I saw Chuck posted an article called “Does your dog have a last name?”… I thought it was hilarious and you may as well. Now before you Obama fans out there get all excited over a perceived attack upon your idol, it should be said that my impression is that Chuck is apparently attempting to find some humor in a president that even the big time comedians are having a hard time in needling. The reasons this phenomena occurs mainly deal with the official excuse of “The man is so intelligent that there is nothing to pick on”, so instead of finding, or making up, stuff anyway (as was the standard MO of late night talk show hosts and comedians everywhere) – they leave an awkward void. It’s good to see a guy like Chuck treat the president as he would any other president by trying to find something funny to rib him about – even if that joking is in the abstract sense or round-about way.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the point of the media apparently fawning and gushing over the Obama’s to the point of having to give their dog a last name.

Let it be understood that I am not talking about calling your dog “Buster Puppy” or your cat “Hell Cat”, I am talking about giving the animal your last name, such as Fluffy Smith or Butthead Borowitz. I have met people who called their dogs “Sgt. Slaughter” or “Mr. Bones, but they often referred to the animal as “Slaughter” or “Bones” as if the name was a first name and the Sergeant or Mister part was a title. I even knew a woman who gave her cat a first and middle name, after her grandfather. She used the initials commonly to call her cat, but her vet always called the cat by its proper name.

Chuck pointed out that there were a few pets out there that were graced with a first and last name and another site I visited had an article, called “Naming Your Dog” by Sandy Moyer, claiming:

“Dogs are frequently named after actors, actresses and other celebrities. They’re named after popular sports figures, presidents, and politicians – past and present.”

I once knew a kid that named his dog “Mickey”, after Mickey Mantle, but no one in the family every referred to the dog by both names. On the other hand it wouldn’t shock me to find out someone named the family dog “Barack Obama”, “Michelle Obama” or even “Brad Pitt”. This doesn’t take a thing away from the point of the media’s insistence upon giving the First Puppy the Obama last name, especially when the White House web site didn’t list the dog by a first and last name.

It will be interesting to see what Chuck comes up with on this issue of giving last names to the family pets, but I suspect he’ll find that last names for dogs and cats are a rarity.

Upon searching the net I have seen this Bo Obama name listed by the score. It would not surprise me in the least to find out that many people out there cruising the net and paying attention to the media will adopt the idea of giving their pet a last name as well… simply because the media did it for the Obama family. On the other hand people are lazy creatures, they like to try to shorten names. So even if they give their pet the name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt they will still call the dog “Frank” or “FDR”.

I wonder how many dogs out there are called “JFK” or some variant?

Perceptions

I went to Beverly Kidd’s blog this morning and read her latest post. The article was called “Help From My Friends” and was an update for her diet. In the article Bev said, “Well, its been a month since I stepped on the scale, so I thought I would update you on my progress. In a word. Slow. Depending on which scale I use, I’ve lost 3-5 pounds. Not too bad, but I’m not in bathing suit shape yet, and it will be summer before we know it.” This gave me a smile and an idea for a blog post.

To get everyone up to speed… Bev is the evening news anchor at news channel 3 in the evenings. Ms. Kidd has been in the Phoenix area since 2001 and spent the 10 years prior to that at a news station in Virginia. Beverly is a pretty 40 year-old mother of two who is into Health and Fitness. In her copious free time between parenting and career, Bev enjoys playing the drums, sometimes she can be seen at the local Phoenix establishments pounding away like a pro on the skins.

In the comments section of her post, Beverly stated “…and thank you for the nice comments:) I’m so looking forward to feeling “proud” in a swimsuit again.”

I will not attempt to guess Ms. Kidd’s height and weight for numerous reasons, the first being that I’ve never seen her standing near someone (or something) that I knew how tall it was – the other is because I wouldn’t want to make Bev feel insulted or bad because of my misjudgment. Anyone interested in what Ms. Kidd looks like can probably find a few pictures of her on the net.

What I will say is that I, personally, do not see what Bev would have to be ashamed over and I’ll leave it at that.

Personal Belief

My personal belief about how a person looks is simple enough for as long as they are happy with themselves then it doesn’t matter to me whether they look like Zelda Rubenstein or Marilyn Monroe. In this life there are enough things to he unhappy over that looks and appearance are trivial things, besides I have learned through out my life that not everyone views beauty in the same way. In fact I sometimes found myself to not hold the same requirements to judge things as beautiful or ugly, too thin/heavy or just right, etc. Sometimes my judgments alter because of the way I feel or other factors, such as the lighting or place. This may sound strange, but it’s true enough.

I also have learned a long time ago that I can usually find something attractive or repulsive in anyone. Well, repulsive might be too strong of a word to use, but I’ll stick with it for the sake of showing the distinction between extremes.

The bottom line is that in life people have to be happy with themselves in order to have a happy life. It doesn’t really matter whether anyone else agrees or not, just as long as they are happy with who and what they are.
Apparent Contradictions

Even though I realize the happiness of the person depends on their personal views of themselves, I still will have my own opinions. In the past I have been told that I contradict my beliefs in how people look with the opinions I spew from time to time. I’ve learned to agree that there may be contradictions between belief and opinion, but it’s a moot point because I never tell people their appearance has to suit my tastes and what I say is merely opinion to accept or blow off as the person wishes. Nice way to cover a personal hypocrisy, eh?

Don’t worry, many others don’t buy it as an excuse either, but the fact is that I am human like everyone else and as long as my hypocrisies are over unimportant things and don’t hurt anyone then I have other things more important to worry over. Not buying that one either? Drat!

Why Write This Blog?

Over the years I noticed that people, especially women, get pretty darn critical over their appearance. The most common concern seems to be weight, but other concerns can include just about any part of their body. It always fascinated me as to why a person gets so critical and Bev’s article caused the interest over this to come to the forefront once again.

I’ve pretty much decided that the reason why a person becomes critical of the way they look is due to them seeing themselves everyday and they begin to see things about them that they consider as ‘faults’. Once the idea is implanted in their heads, the idea festers and grows. A person may think they have put on a few pounds and it becomes an obsession to lose that weight, meanwhile the people around them may think they look just fine. It’s all perception of the one judging.

People Wonder Why

There is an article over at the City Social Marketing Blog called “…And People Wonder Why?” that delves into the reactions of people to the recent Phoenix-Radar Shooting. The article is a commentary upon today’s society and the way (some) people think that compounds the problems of today’s world.

In high school I signed up for a class called “Persuasion and Propaganda”. The class mostly dealt with how people, mostly advertising companies and politicians, used such tools as “The Fallacies of Logic” (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/) and “Imagery” to persuade people into a particular way of thinking in order to gain support for a political agenda or to sell a product or idea. It turned out to be one of the most interesting classes that I have taken and the lessons went far beyond the usual ‘wanting to pass a course to graduate” category that most classes fell. I’ve always gave credit to this course for my not being so willing to follow the herd as many of the people around me seemed to do.

Early in life I have heard the term “Think outside the box”, I am not sure when I first heard the term used – but I know I heard it expressed fairly often by 1974. The “Box” being spoken of is not a physical box, but rather it’s a non-tangible block that impedes a person from thinking differently or seeing things from a new and different perspective.

In 1979 Pink Floyd released the album “The Wall”. The Wall was basically about one man’s struggle with mental isolation and how he built a mental wall around himself to shield him from the world. “The Box” is a form of “Wall” used mainly to shield one’s views and ideas from other ideas that may hurt or help the concepts in one’s mind. The Wall and The Box are very similar in nature.

Over the years I have seen where many people proclaim, usually with great passion, “There is no box!” Usually when someone stresses this idea it means they are so married to their own views and ideas that they reject the very notion that they, in fact, be imprisoned by a ‘box’ of their own construction. They want the very idea that their thinking could possibly be limited by their own biases and beliefs, usually in the attempt to convince others just how great the ideas they present are.

Where does this come into play with the article over at CSM?

The concept of a “Wall” or “Box” comes into play with this discussion where people get so ‘married to their ideas’ that they forego the usual boundaries of common morality or ethics and common sense. They may be so opposed to the idea of these photo-radar units that it blurs their thinking, so they begin to rationalize something they would normally abhor (such as a murder of an innocent man) by the use of pseudo-logic and false reasoning. The result is that a person, who may be perfectly reasonable and logical over other issues, suddenly becomes fanatical and unreasonable over the issue that is near and dear to their heart to the degree that they will go to great lengths to justify the atrocity.

I am intentionally leaving out the “Troll” aspect because trolls live in their own neat, little world and are often guided by things like attention seeking and their need to disrupt.

In some cases “The Box” or “Wall” will actually go beyond the protection of ideas or opinion and enter into the realm of action. These people could be spurred to simple protests or go as far as doing harm or murdering another person for the sake of the idea or belief. In some cases the person could abhor the very idea of war and killing, but when it comes to the belief they hold dear then murder or terrorism becomes justifiable in their minds. In other words it may be ok to them if a few people are killed in the bombing of an abortion clinic or die because of something like a photo-radar unit being destroyed.

11 Year Old Hero Evicted

An 11-year-old from Wrigleyville, Illinois was hailed as a big hero two years ago after she (then 9 years of age) crawled through a window to rescue her 84-year-old landlady. The landlady fallen and lain on the floor of her apartment for an estimated 15 hours before the girl noticed there was something wrong and took action. The girl was born with a birth defect and has multiple holes in her heart. In the past 20 days the young girl missed 14 days of school due to her health problems. “Medically, it’s been one of her hardest months in many years” said her mother.

Now, it seems, the girl and her family are being evicted. The girl’s family lived in the same upstairs apartment of the two-flat for four years. According to the Chicago Sun Times, in an article entitled “Landlord’s Family Evicting Hero”:

“Missy’s family paid their rent on time, court documents show. But Slattery’s relatives said Missy’s mother, Deb Gordils, had “agitated and disturbed”

Missy doesn’t understand why all this is happening, telling her mother “But Mommy, I saved her”. Missy’s mother told her daughter that the landlady wasn’t doing this, it was being done by others.

So what’s the problem? Well it seems that the family of the old landlord is claiming that Missy’s mother has been making comments aimed at hurting the now deceased woman and her family. The family claimed that Missy’s mother violated a court order of protection by ringing the landlady’s doorbell and telling everyone who would listen that that those responsible for the aged landlady were actually responsible for the her death and they conspired to kill her with overdoses of medication.

Missy’s Mother claimed that the landlady once told her that she wasn’t happy with other people making the decisions and mentioned that she felt she was “being over-drugged”. The mother claimed she only advised the landlady to “talk to her doctor.” Missy’s Mom also said she once called the city’s Department of Aging to ask for a well-being check on Slattery after the protection order was issued.

In the wake of the landlady’s death, her relatives agreed Tuesday in court to let Missy and her family stay in the apartment until June 1, feeling that this would be adequate time to find a new place to live.

Opinions and Outrage

When reading the article, it is also important to read the replies to the article. Overall it seems that many people are making opinions which side with Missy’s family, while a few are talking against Missy’s mother. This is pretty typical.

Let’s analyze the situation in as fair of a manner to all as we can, at least until all the facts come out (and I hope the truth does come out on this matter). A very possible scenario is as follows.

In, or around, 1985 a family moves onto the 2nd floor of a private home or apartment house. The family consisted of a mother and 2 children, ages 7 and 3. 2 years later the elderly landlady takes a fall and becomes virtually helpless for around 15 hours, the oldest girl in the family on the 2nd floor notices something is wrong, probably looks into a window of the landlady’s apartment, sees the landlady lying on the floor and the girl crawls into the window and gets help for the woman. The little girl instantly becomes a ‘hero’ and the relationship between the landlady and the family grows closer than they were in the past.

The mother, being a decent woman, probably stops by the landlady’s apartment on occasion to see how the old woman is doing or maybe asks her if she needs anything at the store and such. The little girl probably gets a little friendlier with the aged landlady too. The relationship probably goes a little beyond the normal landlady/tenant relationship… maybe they begin feeling as if they are friends or family and maybe it doesn’t develop that far and they just become closer acquaintances than they would have if the saving of the landlady’s life didn’t happen.

When the mother of the family hears the old woman’s complaints and sees her declining, the mother becomes concerned. She probably said many things to the old woman, including things reported in the article. It’s not uncommon for people to misunderstand comments made or say things in ways that cause misunderstandings… and it is especially not unique for people to develop attitudes over misunderstandings or disagreements in opinion. The family and caregivers probably heard comments supposedly made by Missy’s Moms through stories related by the old lady and end up taking exception to what was being said with out thinking the old lady misunderstood the comments said them in ways that changed the intent somewhat. This may have caused the Family of the Landlady and the caregivers a basis for thinking that Missy’s Mom was saying things she didn’t actually say or intend to say. As things progressed, words were probably exchanged and the whole situation simply escalated and got out of hand. Now both sides do not want to be reasonable about it.

Summary

When reading the article and comments, I can’t help but to feel as if Missy and her family are being wronged. I sympathize with them and have the tendency to side with them, but I also know that prior to my jumping on someone for being wrong that I would like to hear more of the story. The thing is that more input is needed to find out who is right or wrong.

This scenario isn’t to say that one side or the other isn’t ‘more wrong’ or ‘more right’ than the other… it’s simply to set up a situation that led to the current situation. I am sure that things were said on all sides over the past months or years that attributed to the current situation, many of those things were probably said in the heat of the excitement and that could change how a person says something, takes what is said or hears what is said. It’s a shame, but even on message boards and blogs, where the words are clearly written, it is commonplace for people to not read what is said as it was written. Just take a look at the comments for the news article and the very first comment shows where a person claimed something was indicated that wasn’t. So if the written word can be misconstrued, what hope have we of the verbal word being understood as intended all of the time?

So I am wondering what everyone else thinks?

Special thanks to Rick D’Amico of Fox10 News Arizona for his “News of the Weird” that brought about today’s blog post.

The Veterans Administration and the Disabled American Veteran

What is the V.A.?

The Veterans Administration, also known as the “VA”, was established as an independent agency under the President by Executive Order 5398 on July 21, 1930 and was elevated to Cabinet level on March 15, 1989 (Public Law No. 100-527). The Veterans Administration, also referred to as “The VA” or “VA”, is an organization who’s “goal is to provide excellence in patient care, veterans’ benefits and customer satisfaction. We have reformed our department internally and are striving for high quality, prompt and seamless service to veterans. Our department’s employees continue to offer their dedication and commitment to help veterans get the services they have earned”. Source: About VA Home

What Does The VA Offer?

The disabilities of the Disabled Veterans are not equal, some vets have minor disabilities that do not hinder their ability to make a good living and other vets are so severely disabled that they simply cannot work to support themselves. This is why the VA has a rating system to classify its Veterans.

VA Ratings and Compensation

The VA rates their veterans in 10% increments ranging from 10% to 100%, additionally the VA had a 0% rating where the Vet received no monthly checks yet still could get medical treatment from the VA for a disability received through his or her military service. The basic monthly compensation for the VA Vet runs from $123 (10% Disability) to $2,673 (100% Disability). This monthly amount for compensation can be higher if the Vet has met certain criteria.

The VA once offered a 0% disability rating, at least that is what the VA Representative told me in 1988. The 0% disability rating supposedly covered the Vet for medical, but it did not allow the vet to receive monthly compensation for his or her illness or injury… however the 0% disability mostly acknowledged that the Vet had a problem but it wasn’t severe enough for compensation at this moment in time.

The VA also had a program where the Disabled Vet would retain his or her disability rating, but he or she could receive a monthly compensation check equal to a 100% disability rating.

Additionally the VA does have a program for Vets with 70% or higher disability ratings that can no longer work. If a disabled vet has a 70% disability rating, he or she could be declared “Unemployable” and receive a 100% disability rating from the VA. This may, or may not, be the same program as the one described in the paragraph above.

Other Benefits Provided By The VA

The VA offers other benefits to its Veterans that meet the criteria set by the VA. In addition to Medical or Compensation and Pensions, the Vet can receive such benefits as:

    Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment
    Education & Training
    Home Loans
    Life Insurance
    Dependent & Survivor Benefits
    Burial Benefits

The Vet has to meet certain criteria for many of the benefits that they can receive… and quite often there are time limits set as a part of the eligibility for these benefits. In some cases the VA doesn’t actually offer the benefit, such as the Home Loan Benefit, but rather they offer the backing for participating banks and financial institutions to provide the loan for a lower rate.

VA and Vocational Rehab

The VA does have a Vocational Rehabilitation Program (commonly referred to as “Vocational Rehab” or “VR&E”), but there are conditions that go along with this program. I realize that some may wish to argue these points with me, but what I say comes from first hand experience.

The first drawback is that the VA Vocational Rehab has a time limit of 12 years from the date of the Vet being discharged or was contacted by the VA about their the disability. When the time limit runs out it may be possible to get the VA to waiver the time limit… but it’s not an easy task to get done. The VA has rules like this for a reason and even though you or I might disagree with their reasoning… rules are rules.

The 2nd drawback is that like all Vocational Rehab programs, the VA Vocational Rehab Program is set up for the younger vets. When a Vet gets to be about 40 or 50 years of age, the VA tries to shy the vet away from the VR&E program. This may not be a part of any VA Regulation or Law governing the VA, but it has happened in the past. The odd part is that as unfair as this seems, it really does make sense to guide the younger disabled vets into a vocational rehab program first for they would be the ones to get the most use out of such programs.

A Few Facts And Figures About The VA

According to the VA there are (approximately) 25 million Veterans alive and nearly 3/4s of them during “War” or “Official Period of Hostility”. The VA also states that about ¼ of the nation’s population are potentially eligible for VA Benefits due to the fact that these people are Veterans, family members or survivors of Veterans. The VA is an organization designed for the long-term assistance for the Veteran of the US Military and their dependents. It is said that there are still 2 children of Veterans from the U.S. Civil War still alive that are on the VA rosters.

According to WikiAnswers we find out that “There are 257,100 (100% disabled veterans as of 12/31/07).

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs”. WikiAnswers also states “With more than 1.4 million members, Disabled American Veterans is an organization of disabled veterans who are focused on building better lives for disabled veterans and their families.”

According to the United Cerebal Palsey website “Each year, in service to our nation, thousands of former military personnel join the ranks of disabled veterans. Overall, there are approximately 2.5 million disabled veterans. Disabled veterans represent a rich talent pool that is too often overlooked.”

So what can we glean from these facts? We learn that about ¼ of the US Population (about 70 million people at the time the information was written) are eligible for VA Benefits, but only about 25 million Vets are still alive. That would mean that about 45 Million of those eligible for benefits are survivors or dependents of vets and deceased vets. Now out of those 25 Million Vets we are told that about 2.5 Million of them are disabled… and about 257,100 of them are 100% disabled. Up-dated figures dealing with these figures are more than welcome, but I urge everyone to document their claims with a proper source to be checked for accuracy of the claim.

Our Debt To The Disabled Vet

Our Veterans deserve the same considerations that are given to its civilian counterparts. Let’s look at it in this manner, if an civilian employer hires a civilian worker and that civilian worker is injured at work, or receives some illness due to the working conditions… then the civilian would expect the employer to take responsibility and provide for any medical needs and compensation for the disability. Normally, in the civilian world, the compensation and medical needs are supplied from such places as Workers (or Workman’s) Comp, or Social Security Disability (SSDI) and any insurance that the employer has… but just because these agencies and outside groups are involved, that doesn’t mean that the Employer isn’t responsible for taking care of the employee.

Where the Military and Veteran are concerned, we find that the ‘employer” is US Government. The government assumes the responsibilities of caring for its employees who become disabled just like any business owner. If their employees are injured or made sick due to the jobs they are ordered to do, the US Government (i.e. us) carry the burden of taking care of these people until such a time that care is no longer needed. If the injuries or illness is severe enough to make the service member disabled, then the US Government is responsible to cover the expenses for medical care and fair compensation for the disability. It’s as simple as that and it doesn’t matter if we don’t support the military or the things the military are ordered to do… The US Government is still responsible to those who become disabled while in their employment, as well as those who become disabled from things that happened while the person was employed in the armed forces. This means that we all share a part of that responsibility due to the fact that it is our tax dollars used to take care of the disabled vet.

The real question isn’t whether the Government, i.e. US, owes it to the disabled vet to take care of them for their service-connected disabilities… the proper question is how much is owed to the Vet?

The VA: Funding and Problems

VA Budget and Budget Requests

In February of 2008, the requested budget for the VA was approximately $93.7 Billion. (Source: FY 09 VA Budget Requests Highlights). According to an article entitled “Fiscal 2009 VA, DOD DHS Appropriation Enacted”, it is said:

“The fiscal 2009 discretionary VA funding portion of H.R. 2638 totals $47.6 billion, $4.5 billion more than fiscal 2008 totals and $2.8 billion more than the president’s request.”

The $93.7 Billion budget request by the VA includes $40 billion for health care, $46.9 billion for benefits, and $230 million for the national cemetery system. This is more than a 7 percent increase from the department’s $87.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2009.

Problems with the Veterans Administration

Since it’s beginning there have been problems with the VA, some of its problems were due to administration, other problems were due to budgeting, and some problems were due to a VA not having the better doctors and nurses. It has been noted time and again that not all VA systems are created equal, in some cases veterans have found that they received better service and treatment by changing the VA hospital or clinic that they dealt with in their own state… other veterans noted that the VA System in some states were better than the VA in other states. Although every VA should be equal and use the same laws and guidelines, it seems that those rules and policies are not handled the same from VA to VA.

Let’s be fair to the VA, for it’s a huge organization. Time changes things and the VA changes with time. Veterans who remember poorer treatment at certain VA Facilities in the past may find if they return to the facility today then things may be much better. On the other hand today’s Vets may find that the treatment they receive by the VA may not be as promised. Let’s look a few examples that I call “Case Studies” to provide a clearer picture of what I mean.

Case Studies

Case 1: A Veteran on the VA system with a heart condition that was judged as being “service connected” by both the military and the VA for over 20 years suddenly found that the VA began refusing to pay the bills incurred by the Disabled Vet for his visits to an Emergency Room at a local hospital. The reason the Vet went to the local hospital in the first place was due to the fact that the VA Doctors knew the importance of the Vet getting ‘immediate treatment’ for his Tachycardia spells that are attributed to his “Service connected” conditions. The Doctors made it clear to the Vet that he was not go to the local VA Hospital because it was too far to travel under such conditions and he was to go to the local hospital that was only a few miles from the Vet’s residence. Additionally the VA did allow the Vet to go to the local hospitals for treatment under the condition that the local hospital ER would call the VA prior to their doing anything but emergency treatment for the patient. When the Emergency Room Staff would call the VA, the doctors at the VA Hospital would find out what the situation was and how the Vet was responding to the emergency treatment… then tell the local hospital to “treat him and send him home”. In the early 2000s that all changed. At the beginning of the change the VA would use the excuse that the patient did not call the VA with-in 72 hours after going to the local hospital Emergency Room, despite the fact that the local Emergency Room staff led the Vet to believe that they did their job (as requested by the Vet numerous times during his stay in the hospital) by calling the VA. As time went on the VA simply used the excuse that a VA Hospital was in the area. When the VA Doctors were approached they simply responded by saying “Then go to the VA Hospital” as if just because some admin personnel at the VA knew more about the ‘immediate need of the medical condition’ than the doctor treating the Vet. This did not help the Vet because he now was responsible for paying the local hospital for following “Doctor’s Orders” and it made it more difficult on the Vet because when he would tell the paramedics who came out to his home because of these Tachycardia spells to take him all the way into the VA… they would say “We can do that, but you really should go to the local hospital”. The patient who’s heart rate has been beating at speeds in excess of 180 beats per minute for over an hour at this point would tire out and relent going where the ambulance drivers wanted to take him.

Case 2: Another Disabled Vet on the VA system had a condition that became so bad that he no longer could work at all. The Vet contacted the VA and filed the paperwork that he was told to file. He waited patiently for the VA to raise his disability appropriately, expecting it to take only 6 months. The VA then let it be known that there was something wrong with the paperwork and the vet needed to file again for the rate increase. It is now over 2 years later and the VA is no closer to settling the claim than it was 6 months after the paperwork was filed.

Case 3: A third VA Veteran lived in a rural place and found that the VA he went to did not handle his disability properly, after months of receiving unsatisfactory treatment he went to another VA Facility in another part of his state. The trip was a little longer for him, but the improvement in handling his case was worth the extra miles that he traveled.

Case 4: A VA Veteran who argued that the money he received from the military when discharged was for medical and therefore non-taxable finally received a notice by the VA that a court ruling made 5 years after his discharge declared that the type of severance pay he received was in fact non-taxable. The court ruled that anyone who paid taxes on their severance pay could get the taxes they paid returned – if they contacted the IRS within 2 years after the ruling. The problem was that the notification was sent out to the Vet by the VA only two or three days before the expiration date of the ruling and the Vet received the notice on the day the ruling expired. The VA never assumed any responsibility for the Vet losing almost $2,000 that rightfully belonged to him and did offer him information of who to contact to resolve the problem. The Vet ended up never getting his money from the US Government because the Senators for his state would not send in a simply letter to the IRS asking for them to pay this Vet.

Case 5: A VA Vet quit his job in one city to move to the city where his elderly parents lived for the purpose of helping his parents. Prior to moving the Vet foolishly made a few phone calls to a few places in the city he was to move asking about getting a job. The reply he received was “There should be no problem in hiring someone of your experience. When you get here simply come in and put in an application”. Very foolish of the Vet, but the Vet figured that since he didn’t really allow the time to send out resumes and await responses and that he was going to move anyway… then an area of several million people should provide some type of employment. So the Vet moved only to find out when the future employers found out that the Vet had a disability, suddenly there were no jobs available or there was someone ‘better suited” to the job. The business owners never stated that the Vet was not hired because of his disability, because that is against the law, but other reasons were given that didn’t always apply. When the Vet finally exhausted his avenues for employment over 10 years later, he went to the VA and was told “Don’t tell them about your condition.” That was bad advice because these employers need information for their healthcare providers and if the Vet ‘lied’ about his condition by the act of omission then the Vet could be fired.

What Does The Disabled Vet Expect?

To speak on behalf of all disabled vets is an impossible task due to every vet having his or her own ideas and expectations concerning the VA, however we can outline some of the most common things vets have said over the years.

Respect

The first thing that I would say the disabled vet wants and expects is respect. The disabled vet does not want to be treated with false sincerity or false promises, nor do they want to be viewed as a leach upon society or a person looking for a free ride. The disabled vet simply wants to be given what they deserve.

The disabled veteran is not some alien from outer space nor is he or she something created in a laboratory, the disabled vet is our neighbor, friend, or family member who went into the military because they were called to duty or volunteered and while in the service of our country something happened that caused them an illness or injury. The fact is that some civilian knows a disabled vet for they grew up with the person or are related to them in some way.

As an employee the disabled vet deserves compensation and medical care for the service connected illness and/or injury that was thrust upon them. Disabled Veteran are getting the benefits they receive not because they are too lazy to work, want to live off the government or taxpayer, or the government wants to treat the disabled vet differently from his or her civilian counterparts… the disabled vet deserve the benefits they get because of numerous reasons. The true fact is that many vets who would rather not have to live with their disabilities and would prefer to live normal lives… but they can’t because of whatever disability they received while in the service of our country. It’s not a life choice for the person who is a disabled vet, it was not their lifelong dream to become disabled and have to depend upon such organizations as the VA to have some semblance of a normal life.

The disabled vet should be respected for what he or she has given up and has to go through on a daily basis… just as any person with a disability deserves. They don’t deserve to be put down because someone doesn’t believe in the military or war. A person doesn’t have to like or respect the disabled vet on an individual basis, being a disabled vet doesn’t make a person a saint or hero, but generally speaking the disabled vet should be respected as a group.

Security

Another thing the disabled vet wants is ‘security’. They want the peace of mind that they, and their families, can maintain the basic necessities of life. They want to not have to worry about keeping a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and clothing on their backs because their disability limits them in some way. On the whole they don’t demand to live in lavish lifestyles, but they do want to be able to raise their families in a moderately decent lifestyle.

Medical Care and Medicines

The disabled vet wants and needs proper medical care and they want that care to be done in a timely manner. They don’t want required medicines or medical treatments to be unavailable simply because the taxpayer or congress doesn’t want to approve the funding that the VA needs to provide the care needed and fulfill its mission. In particular the disabled vet doesn’t want some doctor to tell them how important it is to have some treatment or handle some episode caused by the disability only to have some desk jockey at the VA denying paying for the necessary medical care. Many vets have expressed the desire to have people in the various administration positions at the VA who understands the needs of the disabled vet, instead of some college grad who never even spent a tour of duty in the military (let alone have no disabilities themselves).

The doctors at the VA should tell the accountants what is required for a disabled vet, not vice-versa. Many disabled vets realize the need for a system of Checks and Balances; they believe that a panel of doctors ought to approve requests for special treatment of a condition. If a procedure or operation is required, then if that procedure is not a commonly accepted thing done by the VA… the medical opinion of the doctor should carry a lot of weight in the approval process.

Additionally the disabled vet doesn’t want to be subjected to unnecessary hardships put in place by some desk jockey who don’t comprehend the needs of the disabled vet or the needs of some medical conditions. The veteran shouldn’t be expected to travel excessively in the case of a medical emergency and the VA should get the backing to force the local hospitals into notifying the VA as soon as a patient arrives at the emergency room of a local hospital. The need of making the local hospitals realize that they cannot turn down a patient requiring emergency treatment and the need to contact the VA for instructions for the disabled vet under the threat of the hospital having to eat it’s costs for not properly following protocol may be a necessity for helping the disabled vet. This is nothing any different than the requirements of some healthcare programs out there and if we can do it for health insurance companies then we can do it for our vets.

Compensation and Benefits

The disabled vet should receive fair and just compensation and benefits. Unless the disabled vet is completely disabled and/or unable to work, then he or she does not expect huge compensation checks every month… however the disabled vet may not argue much over getting the money, they are human after all. Mainly the disabled vet wants to feel useful, like most other disabled citizens, many would actually prefer being able to get the help needed to be able to become self-supportive again. Some actually may prefer loans to start businesses than be given a hand out.

The disabled vet does not want to sit around for months or years waiting on some admin personnel to decide his or her fate. If the VA has the policy to settle a claim in 180 days or a year then that is what the vet expects. He or she may wish to have his or her claim settled in less time, but the vet would like to have the claim processed and approved in a timely manner. Quite often the disabled vet can understand the fact that things take a little longer than projected, after all they have spent several years in the military and are accustomed to the ‘hurry up and wait’ mentality. The disabled vet can’t understand why it takes the VA 2 ½ to 3 years (or longer) to settle claims or approve medical treatments or procedures.

Education and Retraining

The disabled vet has the tendency to want to feel normal and useful. The vet may realize that a Vocational Rehabilitation program is best utilized for the younger disabled vets, but the older disabled vet would still like help in finding jobs or getting started in a business in order to be gainfully employed. Some vets may like a program that gives discounts for schooling or retraining, while others would like to have someone associated with the VA to help them in locating new employment. The disabled vet often realizes such things take money and the government is not a bottomless money pit, but the disabled vet finds it hard to understand the fact that the government has the money to fund many things that aren’t really the responsibility of the government to fund.

Fairness And Equal Treatment For All Vets

In the military it has been said that there are no black, brown, yellow or white people – everyone is green. The same idea of equality should extend to the disabled vet. There should be no programs based upon race, color, religion or sex. There is cause to believe that qualifications for certain programs should be based on age and the rating of the disabled vet. Additionally there should be no other preference for approval of a disabled vet’s claim or application other than ‘first come, first served’. The practice of fast tracking the applications and claims of an Iraqi Vet or Vietnam Vet is unfair, the applications and claims should be approved based solely upon when the disabled vet filed the application or claim. It’s just as unfair to make a Vietnam Vet wait because someone serving in Afghanistan or Iraq filed an application after the Vietnam Vet filed as it is to fast track the application of a person because of sex or color. Proper funding of the VA would limit the necessity of fast tracking such applications and claims.

Synopsis

The VA is said to have requested a budget of $93.7 billion dollars. The average person may think that this sounds like a lot of money, but consider the fact that a huge part of the VA Budget is to take care of the medical needs of the disabled veterans under its care. The money allotted to the VA must not only pay for medicine and medical treatment, but it also has to pay for the building and care of numerous hospitals and clinics – as well as the equipment required to have a functioning hospital or clinic. In Ron Anderson’s article “Factors Associated With The Increasing Cost Of Hospital Care”, it is said:

“In the last two decades, and particularly in the last five years, the cost of hospital care has risen more rapidly than the cost of almost any other major good or service pro vided in our society. The result has been great concern among the public, government, and providers of service. The rising total cost of hospital care is due both to the increasing use of hospital services and to the increasing cost per unit of these services. In the last ten years, use of services has accounted for less than one-eighth of the total increase in hospital costs, cost per unit increases being responsible for the rest. The latter increases can be shown to result from general inflationary trends in the economy plus certain forces acting in a special way on hospitals. These forces include an increase in wages, a rise in the value of hospital plant and equipment over and above general inflation, and a larger number of personnel in relation to the days of patient care provided, or patient days. A review of reasons for the increases in cost per unit of service suggests that there is no single factor primarily responsible. Consequently, a solution to the cost containment problem will be difficult to achieve.”

Steve Hymon’s article in the LA Times, entitled “Start Up Costs Drive Up Hospital Price Tag” says:

“The start-up costs for the hospital, whose construction expenses alone are expected to top $800 million, may add as much as $240.5 million to the price tag. The problem is, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has yet to put aside any money to cover the extra costs.
The medical records system will cost up to $100 million, said David E. Janssen, the county’s chief administrative officer. Furnishings, including portable medical equipment, could cost $105.2 million — twice the price that county officials estimated in 1998. Moving from the old hospital could chew up an additional $35 million.”

Then you have to figure in the salaries of Doctors, Nurses, Technicians, Administrative personnel, and other employees of the VA. There are also costs for medicines and supplies to consider, as well as such things as mail costs and other things we never consider. The point is when one looks at the costs to build and maintain hospitals and clinics, one sees that it is an expensive proposition… suddenly a hundred million or a billion isn’t as much money as one would think it was at first.
However we still need to consider the disabled vet, it’s not his or her fault (usually) that they suffer from the disability that was inflicted upon them. They entered the military in good condition and good faith; as a result they ended up with a condition that made them disabled. They need to be taken care of and taken care of in such a way that doesn’t cause them undue hardships. The Disabled Vet may require such services as paramedics and ambulances, plus they may need to be reimbursed for any return trip from the hospital to their place of residence. The disabled vet may also need emergency treatment as soon as humanly possible, which means the travel time to such care for the disabled vet should be as little as possible. Disabled vets who suffer from strokes, Tachycardia, heart attack and other ailments need to be treated fast and to demand that a disabled vet has to go to a hospital miles away simply because it’s a VA Hospital is ridiculous – especially if there are hospitals much closer. If the condition being treated is service connected, the VA should be responsible for paying the bills no matter what hospital or clinic the vet is treated. The excuse that the VA has a hospital in the area is a bad excuse, especially if the hospital is 30 or 50 miles away from where the disabled vet resides. It is also a bad excuse to deny paying for emergency treatment because the disabled vet didn’t notify the VA with in 72 hours. Quite often the vet depended on the local hospital to contact the VA, as it should have done, and when the vet finds out the hospital either lied or misled the patient into thinking they did make the contact – it’s often beyond the time period for contacting the VA.

So there are problems with the VA and many of those problems are rooted in funding. What may seem to be stupid policies are often policies set to help reduce costs in order for the VA to keep with in a budget.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.