It's all about perspective

Archive for May, 2010


I was having a conversation with a few co-workers about employee rights, civil rights, and the blaze attitude of citizens where other’s rights are concerned. This led me to thinking about the recent snafu with so-called “Tea Party” nominee Rand Paul, son of the infamous Presidential nominee Ron Paul, where Rand showed his true colors by stating (by avoidance of the issue) that private institutions not doing business with, or getting public funds from, the government have a right to discriminate.

Is that an inherent right though? Do we have a right to discriminate? The answer, as usual, is never easy. Yes we have a right to believe however we want. Since a discriminatory view is based on a preconceived notion, a belief, and everyone has a right to believe what they want then you are welcome to believe that Jesus was something other than a story, that women are inferior to men, or that black people are by their very skin color somehow less than whites. However there is no enshrined or unspoken right to act on those beliefs. Just because you believe someone will die unless you cut off their arm does not mean you get to. Likewise, if someone believes that someone of a different race, class, or gender is a lesser person does not mean they get to act on that belief. You don’t get to hire a white guy simply because he’s white, a man, or both. Private property such as someone’s house is one thing, but private property that is open to the public like a restaurant or other business where goods are for sale is no different than public property when it comes to access to those goods.

Just like the separate but equal argument, by doing such a thing you automatically create an underclass of limitations in access, opportunity, and ability. Furthermore, by saying this amendment is unnecessary you say that the people who did exercise their first amendment rights to a redress of grievances were wrong to do so. That redress, by the way, your contemporaries were on the losing side of. Get over it and stop crying.

The Bill of Rights specifically states that those rights not enshrined therein are automatically granted to the citizen (9th amendment). Does that, however, grant the protection available for the named rights to the unnamed ones? The ninth and tenth amendments specifically state that the government cannot deny those rights, but is that also implying that those rights should be enforced? It comes down to logistics eventually. How can our government protect and enforce unnamed rights? It can’t. All it can do is not deny them, which the repealing of that amendment would do.

This document was designed to enumerate not only what the government can and cannot do, but what its citizens are allowed to ask of it. Yes, we may have four thousand pages of rights unnamed in the constitution, but unless we can define them the government can just as easily say “not my problem, buddy.” Redress of grievances does not mean we will win that redress.

My suggestion to you Mr. and Mr. Pauls is thus; if you truly believe in the libertarian way of life, get out of my government, go buy an island, and live out your little Republic de Fantasy on your own. The thought of a libertarian attempting to force their viewpoint down my throat reeks of just the hypocrisy they rail against.

Just because you have a right to say whatever you want, does not mean you have a right to protection from retaliation based on those words. Such protection is only offered when you learn when to speak and when to remain …

Weak Ties

Ok, so I’m roaming around on the internet doing research for another blog post I’m working on, when I run into the Weak Tie Hypothesis. It argues that, in any social group consisting of persons A, B, C, etc, if A and B are strongly connected and A and C are strongly connected, then B and C are also linked. To extend this further, we could say that B learns of a job opening in a neighboring firm, which he tells to A, who tells to C and gets the job she never would have known about without B. Social groups are in debt to these weak links for keeping the groups up-to-date on things going on outside the group or keeping them connected to other groups.

Network of Social ties

Graphic borrowed from Project Management 2.0

So I have two questions:

  1. Since we can label and differentiate these weak links from strong links, can we then determine their level of influence?
  2. Assuming the answer to the above is “yes,” can we then take that micro-level (individual-level) hypothesis and apply it to macro-level (group-level) research?

This stuff is fascinating. As a symbolic interactionist who is working on the connection between micro and macro level research, a system that can be used to measure not only the influence of individuals on other individuals, but one that could measure the influence of systems on those same individuals would be a great tool.

What if we could accurately measure, by means of these weak ties, a group’s influence on society? Then it wouldn’t be a matter of changing the minds of the people in the group, but changing the minds of their weak ties that would cause their downfall. Since weak ties bring new ideas, keep groups relevant, and sometimes bring in new members, removing access to these weak ties could utterly destroy groups within a very short time. Furthermore, could we measure exactly how many weak ties an idea needs in order to become a movement, or to make a video go viral, or to create social change? Goddamn.

I’m probably lending more to this than should be, but if any of the previous is possible, look out. I need a mathematician. Or I need to take more math classes… Either way I need to get in to grad school…

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