This is a letter to Jeff Katz, a radio personality in North Carolina who recently broadcasted his opinions on WBTabout a children’s storybook about two gay penguins.

Hi Jeff – I just happened to catch your show about gay penguins yesterday.

You said that this story of the two male penguins was a way of teaching young children that because male penguins take care of the eggs that they are gay. I just wanted to say that you could save yourself some embarrassment if you understood that sometimes people just write stories – it’s called fiction. Even small children can figure that one out.

You say that the story is used to “indoctrinate” our children. Well, here is why I support these types of stories: Young children sometimes have parents who are “different” and it’s good that these types of stories can help them deal with that without thinking that their parents are evil. Of course, I’m sure you believe all gay people are sinful, because that’s what you were indoctrinated with and that’s fine, to each their illusion, but my point is this; why not allow the children of gay parents some form of consolation? Sometimes, that’s all a story is.

At the same time, most normal children will simply read or hear the story and think nothing of it. I know this because my wife and I have brought up two children of our own and we never felt it necessary to shield them from the existence of gay people. Today they are young adults who enjoy very normal heterosexual relationships. Of course they do. Parents whom they admired inspired them, a much stronger force than a storybook.

I can’t help but think that you might lack the same confidence in your own children; perhaps you think a story is all it would take to make them gay. I never felt that way with my children. Maybe inside you’re only a nudge away from being gay yourself – that would explain your fear of the “militant gay movement” and your fear of your own children turning gay.

– a listener who isn’t scared of gay people.

I think freedom is a simple concept that nevertheless has convoluted effects on human society. So when people refer to applied freedom as an absolute value, I tend to disagree. I believe the zero-sum theory applies where freedom is relative to those who are unbound and inverse to those who are restricted. In other words, one person’s freedom is another person’s slavery.

So, if you say you’re fighting for freedom then you’re not really saying much because you aren’t specifying who the freedom is for. These half truths permeate society across the world and across history.

In 1835 the British began emancipating slaves in the West Indies and in the Cape Colony. The Dutch (Boers) in Cape Colony disliked it. Here we have a multi-level case where the freedom of black natives were being compromised by the Boers’ freedom to enslave them. This freedom to enslave blacks was itself compromised by the British legislature. The Boers wound up leaving and establishing a new place a little further north were they could continue to enslave the blacks. They called this place the “Orange Free State” because they were free to own slaves.

Another example is the freedom of tyranny as opposed to the limits of democracy. Saddam Hussein had a greater measure of freedom than Bush ever had. The inverse of this freedom was the oppression of the Iraqi people. The U.S. forces in Iraq today can be called champions of freedom because they have destroyed Hussein’s tyranny and unleashed the freedom bottled inside. But it’s still unclear at this point where this loose freedom will actually settle. Will it settle in free-trade, where Western corporations will enjoy the benefits? Will it settle amongst the Shi’a Muslims in a new Iraqi Constitution, or will it settle amongst the insurgents who are still fighting to be free of Western influence?

In yet another example (added 06/09/09) of monochromatic thinking, I remember a discussion with a New Hampshire native about the states motto… “Live Free or Die” (which seems kind of aggressive for a state motto) but he explained that they should just drop the “Live Free” part because of all the Democrats moving in. To him Democrats and their “socialist” inclinations impede freedom. Yet, two minutes later a newsbreak come over the radio saying that the California supreme court overruled the appeal to reverse proposition 8 which says that gay people are not allowed to get married. The New Hampshire man cheered. “I thought you stood for freedom?” I asked. He said “Religious freedom is different.” He didn’t say much after that. I don’t know if he suddenly realized how one-sided he was being or if he just wasn’t interested in discussing it. In any case, it was clear that he supports the religious freedom to tell others what they can and can’t do.

In general, I feel certain that for every person basking in the brilliance of freedom, there is a potential inverse effect for someone we aren’t thinking about or simply don’t care about and when cheering for freedom it would be nice if we had the intellect and consideration to ask who those other people are. As for me, whenever I am approached with a question about freedom, I will always ask… “freedom for who?”

I hear these talking heads like Sean Hannity constantly bring up the idea that Reagan won the war against communism and brought the Soviet Union crashing down. I’m not so sure that’s anything more than rhetorical fantasy. I think the collapse of the Soviet Union would have eventually happened no matter who the president was. If you really take a look at the way Soviet communism was set up, which I doubt Hannity has ever done, you can see that it was a flawed system, right from the beginning. During the entire Soviet history, the confused and incapable failure of communism was propped up by state enforcements, it was only a matter of time before those enforcements would snap and the system would collapse under it’s massive dead weight. I think Reagan just happened to be the one in the Whitehouse when it happened.

In fact, I tend to suspect that the Soviet collapse was likely last thing Reagan wanted. Our military-industrial complex that Reagan loved so much was extremely dependant on some kind of public enemy and the cold-war with it’s “Red-Dawn” fantasy was the perfect mass-emotional catalyst. After the fall of the Soviet “threat” we were left with no boogeyman to scare our citizens with. Bush Sr. tried the war on drugs, which just didn’t have the same impact. Finally, a later Bush administration found the answer in terrorism, the new best friend of the military-industrial complex.

No wonder I see dubya smiling so much these days. Don’t forget George, keep a straight face when talking to us about terrorists. It’s important to keep up the act.