Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishing you the best in 2009

I wish for all my brothers and sisters, Masonic and otherwise, a New Year filled with all the best. May all your visions, goals and dreams come true in 2009.

— Widow's Son

Image: New Year's Eve 2007, Sydney, Australia

Monday, December 08, 2008

Masonic Corral #2

For the past week or so, there's been a hitch in the giddy-up over in the Masonic Corral. It looked like newer comments weren't being posted, yet the "new posts" section over on the right of every page indicated there were new posts.

It seems the Corral has outgrown its fences after a nine month pregnancy.

The newer posts are actually being logged. However, on the main pages, apparently there can only be 200 posts.

But if you click on the fine print "- 208 posts -" (currently, 208; this will continue to increase if you continue to leave comments there) just below the title "Masonic Pissing Contest Gets Corralled," it will take you to a page showing the 200 original comments. There's a link at the bottom of that page that says "newer." Follow that link to comments numbered higher than 200.

But let's make things simple.

Consider THIS entry, the one you're now reading, as your new Masonic Corral.

If you've forgotten its purpose, please read the original post again. Then return to THIS post if you feel the need to violate your obligations by speaking ill of your Masonic brethren, or if you want to play "My Masonry is better than your Masonry."

— W.S., still sheriff of these here parts

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Friday, December 05, 2008

That's bleeping bull bleep!

Some anonymous someone said, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Bro. Rudyard Kipling wrote, "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."

And the late George Carlin informed us that, at least in 1978, seven particular words will "infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war... 400,000 words in the English language and there are seven of them you can't say on television. What a ratio that is. 399,993 to seven."

What makes a word "dirty," or "vulgar," or "profane"?

Earlier this week, on consecutive days, a judge in Cincinnati sentenced two men — one a black gangmember unhappy his trial wouldn't begin until February, the other an attorney representing himself in a civil matter — to six months in jail for contempt for using one or more of Carlin's dirty words in his courtroom.

Millions of English-speaking people use Carlin's words in their normal daily dialogues, and their listeners aren't offended. Millions of other English-speaking people are also familiar with those words, but find them objectionable and offensive.

Why do some consider certain words proper for use anywhere and at anytime, and others feel they are so "bad" that people should go to jail for using them?

Does the offensive power of certain words reside in the words themselves, in the sound vibrations of the words, in their meanings, or is it that some people are just "programmed" to be offended by them?

Jamel Sechrest reacted to the judge telling him he would have to remain in jail until his case came to court in February by saying, "That's fuckin' bullshit." The judge immediately said, "You don't say bullshit in my court," and cited him for contempt.

The next day, as attorney Michael Brautigam and opposing attorney Peter Koenig turned to leave the bench after conferring with the judge, Brautigam called Koenig a "fucking liar." The judge overheard him, and cited him for contempt, sentencing him to the same length of time behind bars as he had Sechrest the day before.

I'm not saying the judge should have, or shouldn't have, done what he did. That's his prerogative. His house, his rules.

I'm just wondering why some words offend some people.

Some of you probably winced when you read those two "awful" words above.


Both are simply descriptions of natural functions that all humans and animals do regularly. Neither act is foreign to any of us.

And, oddly, if we use Latin words to describe those same acts, no one takes offense. In fact, we tend to "worship" people, like medical doctors, for example, who use Latin words to describe bodily functions and body parts.

Coitus. Feces.

Those words have little or no "power," and usually offend no one.

Yet their Anglo-Saxon synonyms do.


Why do words that describe copulation and defecation upset people, yet words like "hate" and "kill" have no ill effect?

Granted, I don't like it when I'm out in public with my 10-year old son and we overhear someone — usually a teenager or young adult — using certain words. I don't want my son to hear those words, or to ever use them. I'm certain he knows them, and he knows — because we've discussed it — that certain words are "crude," or that they offend certain people, and his mother and I have taught him to be respectful, courteous and thoughtful.

But still... I wonder WHY those words, and not others, are offensive.

In the case of the two men in court, yes, they were being disrespectful to the judge's sense of courtroom decorum. But would the judge have reacted the same way had Sechrest said, "That's a load of crap!" (which would mean the same thing as what he did say) or "That's not fair!"? Was the judge upset that someone would question his authority, or was it that someone used one (or two, in Sechrest's case) of the Carlin no-no's?

To those of you who winced when you read the actual "dirty words" I wrote above when I could have used the modern newspaper codes of "the F-word" and "the S-word," I ask: Why is the code less offensive to you than the actual words, since you most certainly know what words the codes refer to. Those words are already in your brain and nervous system. You've simply chosen to have a different response/reaction to those words than other people who don't find them offensive.

These are things I wonder about when instead I should be doing something more productive.

In closing, let me quote the words of Jason Mraz, who sang, "Well, I'm almost finally, finally out of words."

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Black and white North Carolina Masons sign 'peace treaty'

Last week the "white Masons" and the "black Masons" in North Carolina stopped pretending each other didn't exist, and got together in a two-hour "ceremony full of formality and speeches" to sign a resolution of recognition the Charlotte Observer called a "peace treaty" and a "reconciliation."

"Today's a historic day, because we're here to say we're brothers again," said M.W. Bro. David Cash, a Methodist minister from Kannapolis and grand master of the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina.

Sitting at the same table in the old House chambers of the state Capitol where North Carolina's resolution to secede from the Union in 1860 was signed, Bro. Cash and M.W. Bro. Milton "Toby" Fitch Jr. of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina and Its Jurisdictions, signed the document officially recognizing each other's Masonry.

"We are of the same family," said Bro. Dan Blue, a Prince Hall Mason and state legislator from Raleigh. "This is an opportunity to complete a circle."

Congratulations, North Carolina brethren!

Okay, now it's Georgia's turn. As I've done each year since The Burning Taper went online, I call upon the newly "elected" Grand Lodge of Georgia and its new grand master, M.W. Bro. Edward Jennings, Jr., to recognize Prince Hall Masons.

Just do it!

Image: N.C. grand masters Toby Fitch and David Cash in prayer, Nov. 21, 2008

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