Yesterday, my wife Susan drove me to a dentist appointment. On the way, she described a bumper sticker affixed to the car in front of us that read, “Lee Surrendered – I Didn’t,” and displayed a rebel flag. As an individual who supports the US Constitution and the union of our states, I asked if it would, therefore, be acceptable for me to shoot this person in the name of patriotism.
Much of the United States feels pretty ugly these days. People who choose to express themselves by wearing t-shirts with Arabic text on them get stopped and prevented from flying on airplanes; Senator and Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton introduced legislation banning burning the US flag, – a silly and somewhat tasteless act that is, nonetheless, according to rulings by the Supreme Court, protected speech; Senator and Presidential Candidate Obama has been accused of not being “black” enough making me wonder if some of my friends who support Republicans are not being blind enough; journalists fear being labeled as unpatriotic if they criticize the president or the war in Iraq but, for no reason apparent to me, people can display Confederate flags and rebel slogans – symbols of the single most seditious action in our nation’s history – with impunity and pride.
What does such a bumper sticker say to our African American friends? Would it be proper to display a swastika and a slogan that reads, “Hitler Was Defeated, Not Me!” if one didn’t expect to find his car vandalized? At what point is free expression of ideas actually sedition?
Of course, I live in Florida, which, during the bad old days of the KKK actually led the nation in per capita lynchings. So, I am not surprised to find a nitwit displaying such a treasonous bumper sticker in this state but I ask why this motorist is treated with tolerance while patriotic gay people, patriotic individuals opposed to the war, patriotic Arab Americans, patriotic left-wing Americans and all sorts of other people who actually love this nation get labeled as Un-American. What’s wrong with these people?
Speaking of Florida
If you hear just three words on the local news, “Astronaut, diapers, murder,” you can feel certain you are in Florida. If Karl Hiaasen had made this recent scandal up in one of his Florida weird stories, he would be accused of taking his absurdist view of this state too far. Florida reality makes writing fiction about our state very difficult.
Ad Lib Technology, my little start-up, held some private meetings at ATIA showing off some of the things we will be releasing in the coming year. I guess I had forgotten just how important marketing people and slick demonstrations are for a new set of products and, quite frankly, I’m pretty embarrassed at the poor performance we showed at the conference. Fortunately, most of the people we met with were friends so I doubt we did much damage to ourselves but running a community based, organically grown company is a lot harder than I had thought.
The Ad Lib products continue to move forward but, I assure everyone, next time we ask you for some of your expensive conference time, we won’t be so wasteful.
Otherwise, I found ATIA 2007 pretty boring. The highlight of the week for me was not any of the fairly dull announcements but, rather, the Friday night party at Mike Calvo’s house which had great people, great food, 40 limes, lots of rum, 4 dogs (3 guide, 1 pet), beautiful women, a hot tub, lots of mint sprigs and I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
Where Have I Been?
Blind Confidential has been very quiet for a few weeks. I got sick when I got home from ATIA and then my wife Susan’s father received a very serious head injury in a freak accident and he remains in a coma in U. Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester. Susan has been very sad and I’ve been doing my best to try to be supportive. Finally, I’ve been pretty busy with a number of other tasks and, with all of this stuff going on, I’ve felt little motivation to write anything for BC. I thank our loyal readers for writing to me asking about me and for the support Sue and I have received regarding her dad.
Last week, I received an email from a friend telling me of the death of Jill Carson. Blind people may know her husband, John Carson, who works in the escalations end of technical support at Freedom Scientific. John is a terrific guy who has solved more hard problems for JAWS users than most anyone else over the past decade and the love he and Jill shared was obvious to anyone who saw them together.
When I first came to Florida, my wife Susan had to stay behind in Massachusetts working on a legal case for most of the first year I spent here. I hadn’t lived alone in many years and the constant hospitality and friendship offered by John and Jill was terrific and I will forever appreciate their kindness.
I don’t know any of the details involving Jill’s death but, if you know John or have received help from him, please keep he and Jill in mind during what is obviously a tough time for him and their family.