Sunday, September 20, 2015

Charming Billy

I am more frequently than not in agreement with Bill Maher, the comedian and social critic. He is often bold in pointing out the hypocrisies and lies of the establishment, and he will call out people on both sides of the aisle. He doesn't shy away from controversy, and he is usually very funny as well.

He's wrong about the arrest of a black Muslim teenager in Texas for building an electronic clock and bringing it to school. He says that the device "looked like a bomb" and it's naive and dangerously PC to not have treated the situation as the authorities did.

Maher has been a hard liner on Islam, (an avowed atheist, Maher disparages all religions) and calls the actions of the Islamic zealots of the world a stain upon all adherents. While there is a good case to be made for that, Maher has been a minority voice in liberal circles on this issue.

But, let's review the facts from Texas. The fourteen year old student with black skin and an Islamic name with a known penchant for tinkering and inventing brought his latest project to school to show his engineering teacher. The teacher saw the clock, understood what it was, but advised him not to show it to anyone. another teacher saw it and said it "looked like a bomb" and alerted school administrators, and the the police.

The student explained that the clock was a clock, and it was opened and reviewed. In spite of this the teen was interrogated, cuffed, arrested, fingerprinted, and suspended.

The outrage that followed included an invitation to the White House from President Obama to celebrate his interest in inventing and to cool the sting of his humiliating treatment at the hands of his school and the police.

Maher claims that since it looked like a bomb, and the kid was Islamic, the authorities were correct in what they did. The 'apology" given would be enough.

Sorry, Bill. This is America, and we (should) do things our way here.

In Texas, science education is mixed up with creationism, something Maher, and others, have railed against for years. Racism is rampant in this country, Texas in particular. Their regional "know nothing" approach to science, coupled with the predilection to oppressing minorities, is what is at the root of this case.

The mechanism the student built had "wires" and "circuit boards" in it. In the twenty-first century in the United States, these items need to be familiar items to every school child, and every educator. There was no bomb, there was no explosive. Anyone that has opened the back of their home computers would recognize that, but too few Americans have any awareness or understanding of basic science or electronics. That is outrageous. That law enforcement officers or school administrators can not understand what they are looking at when it is explained to them is the true outrage.

Because of their ignorance and bigotry, the black kid with an Islamic name was forced to endure an experience that may well have scarred him for the rest of his life.

This is what Bill Maher, in his best and most insightful moments, points out. In this case, Bill has missed the point because of his own focus on Islamic zealots.

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