The Liberal Libertarian

Open minded, non partisan politics and history

Humanities Other Best Friend Or When Good Intention Lead to Really Bad Outcomes

With seven billion and counting human voices in perpetual  motion and the constant electronic hum of technology,  have you ever wondered who provides us serene daily companionship?  In a world full of dogs barking, cats stalking,, humans talking, and machines humming;  our native bird species can provide a more serene companionship.

To assist native bird species.  our many bird lovers perform acts of kindness by installing nest boxes or filling bird feeders.  We want to help our feathered friends survive the winter and to reproduce in health and peace. In the proper open field location and with the correct nesting box , you can attract Tree Swallows, Bluebirds, , the occasional Black Capped Chickadee, and other box nesters to your home location.  (The North American Bluebird Society web site provides detailed guidance.)

Yet, in every Yin and Yang scenario, there is a dark side to our altruistic acts. Unmonitored bird boxes and certain formula bird seed can cause wild bird catastrophe.   The catastrophe is the arrival of the  omnipresent House Sparrow, known by bird fanatics as “the Dreaded HOSP”.  The HOSP is a non-native species of the weaver finch  family. Depending on the story, HOSPs were either  introduced to the USA in the 1800’s to control crop pests or to make immigrant Englishmen more comfortable in their new homeland.  As with the Starling introduction, this “brilliant idea at the time” resulted in a significant loss of our native birds. The Federal Government wildlife agencies classify them as a pest.

For the past fifteen years, I have learned these consequences the hard way.  During their extremely long breeding season (March to August), male HOSPs, fall madly in love  with their nest boxes but not their mates.  Male HOSPS will colonize 2 or 3 nest boxes in order to attract a mate.  Up to four broods a year are possible.  Fine, you say,  the HOSP has a right to breed and is one of Nature’s creatures.

And thus begins the real life Greek Tragedy.   If you don’t actively monitor your nest boxes, the male HOSP will provide the opposite of your good intentions .   At a minimum, the male HOSP will drive away the Bluebirds and Tree Swallows.    Male HOSPs will kill the brooding parents in the next box  or the nestlings. The HOSP will then build his nest on top of their dead bodies.  I kid you not. HOSPs breed everywhere,  just check out the 500 pairs that live in our Big Box Stores (Home Depot, Loews)  up in the garden center rafters.  HOSPs thrive everywhere: small and large cities, suburbs, and rural areas.

So, what can you do to mitigate these scenarios?  HOSPS are not protected by Federal or State migratory bird laws.   You can try to remove them by trapping with Van Ert traps but you must actively monitor these traps.   Some people prefer to use air rifles.   If you don’t have the energy or will to control your HOSPs, for the sake of the Bluebird and Tree Swallow populations, take down your nest boxes.  You can also change your bird seed to a non-friendly  HOSP mixture.  Sunflower seeds or thistle bird feeders are less attractive to their habits.  If there is a proven sparrow resistant box, please purchase it instead.

With active nest-box monitoring, the bluebirds, tree swallows and other native birds will thank you with their physical presence, next generation, songs and chirps. Tree Swallows become so acclimated to your presence you can stand within 5-10 feet of the breeding pair.  The 5 billion HOSPs on the planet will have a slightly reduced population explosion.

In my heart I know we need our bird companions to help us survive this frenzied, rational, and technology-driven society. Along with our dogs.

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The Mocking Society

Is political satire and exaggerated physical caricature the last refuge of tribalism for the intellectual  class?  The resurgent popularity of Saturday Night Live; spurred on by Presidential surrogates Alec Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy provides  new impetus for smirks and ridicule. The rebirth of Steve Colbert and the omnipresent media coverage of John Oliver, Bill Maher,  et al validate the hold of satire for one half of our country.  My progressive social media friends constantly refraining:  “the uneducated just don’t understand good satire”.   It is a basic pillar of Western  Civilization’s Age of Enlightenment.

The Oxford Dictionary joyously proclaims  the definition of satire: “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.”  Political cartoonist Garry Trudeau, post Charlie Hebdo massacre, wrote in the Atlantic Magazine that satire is the greatest form of  “punching up.”  In other words, satire allows the powerless to bring down the enriched status quo.

Now, bear with me as we go back in time. Spurred on by World War 2 and subsequent United Nations treaties our United Kingdom (UK) older cousins, enacted the Public Order Act of 1986.  Public speech intended to stir up racial hatred is criminally banned.  A race is defined as the color, race, nationality, ethnic, and national origins of the victim of the racial hatred.  In the early 2000’s; the Public Order Act is enlarged;  banned speech includes public speech intended to stir up religious and sexual orientation hatred.  A UK police officer is allowed to arrest without warrant anyone he/she reasonably suspected had committed an offence under the Act.  (Ok, wrong you say, France and Germany initiated earlier hate speech statutes.  Yes, but you can read the UK laws in English.)  All three of these major western European countries continue to enforce their hate speech laws in haphazard and non particular ways.  Years before the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Islamic Community of France tried to prevent the magazine from publishing  Prophet Muhammad cartoons.  The Government of France chose not to prosecute.  This past year, in Germany, a comedian was indicted for insulting the Turkish Prime Minister.  The German prosecutors found the comedian crossed the line between satirical criticism and pure abuse.

The USA, officially, has no criminal hate speech laws. The Supreme Court provides one caveat.  Free speech is not protected if the speech is intended to provoke imminent danger. In the USA, the criminal act itself, not the speech, is the crime.  And more severe prosecution awaits hate crimes. Economic boycott of  retailers and media is another means of keeping hate speech out of the mainstream.  Colleges since the 1980’s began creating safe zones.

Meanwhile, returning back to the present times: ha, ha,  ha; we mock Mr. Authoritarian;  the strangely haired, baby vocabulary, orange skinned, small hands, AKA the Orangutan.  His loyal supporters derisively termed white trash or  replaced by the euphemism goobers.   How does this ridicule and mocking make us an enlightened people?

If we follow a certain European path, can you not perceive the following news headline; “Today, the US Supreme Court affirmed legislation criminalizing the mocking, ridiculing, or exaggerated physical caricature of any public individual.  The Supreme Court will now review the legislation criminalizing the jeering, swearing, screaming, and other boorish behavior at our sporting events.”     I prefer an alternative headline; “Today the UK Parliament redacted the Public Order Act of 1986 and amendments thereto.”  Parliament belatedly recognizing that controlling verbal abuse rests within each individual and societal refusal to accept ridicule of any individual or group.