When Lord of the Flies was released in 1954, few paid the graphic novel much attention. It sold only a few thousand copies before being recognized about a decade later for what it truly was — a masterful apologue of modern man reduced to his most primitive instincts.
To those who read it, the book written by prize-winning author William Golding was shocking for its time. It told a fictionalized survival tale of English choirboys who, following a plane crash in the ocean, end up stuck and living together on a deserted island. The dozen or so young teens must cooperate in order to survive. For internal harmony and communal prosperity, a new order is required. Unfortunately as they attempt to organize and govern themselves, human nature takes over and the juveniles gradually descend towards tribal savagery. The older and stronger boys end up murdering the younger and weaker members of the group.
Just as all acts of terror require similitude, a pig’s head becomes the symbol of this madness, which has been cut off and hoisted on the end of a sharpened stick. The decapitated skull becomes an ornament which deliberately instills both horror and discipline among the survivors.
Yesterday, Sheldon Adelson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns and operates The Venetian Luxury Hotel Resort Casino in Las Vegas, appeared as the keynote speaker at the 2014 Global Gaming Expo, which is the world’s largest casino industry annual convention.
To put it kindly, Mr. Adelson’s 50-minute talk received what I would classify as a lukewarm response. Unlike the Sands Expo Center’s main ballroom which was filled to full standing-room only capacity the day before, when fellow casino mogul Steve Wynn spoke to a similar gathering, the allure of Mr. Adelson’s appearance filled only about two-thirds of the seats in the room, despite ideal placement as the prime time speaker on the show’s biggest afternoon (Wednesday). Some attendees boycotting? Mass disinterest? Perhaps those who didn’t bother to show up to see the man who rules his mighty kingdom in the flesh already realized what most of the rest of us didn’t — that Mr. Adelson is a selfish, rambling bore. Despite this, one might have expected this far-more controversial public figure and political lightning rod to draw a significantly bigger crowd, but that didn’t happen (see photo evidence at conclusion of this article).
There’s a fiery debate going on right now about sex education being taught in the public schools.
Believe it or not, this discussion is taking place here in Las Vegas — you know, the modern reincarnate of Sodom and Gomorrah, the place where hookers troll the streets at night, where working in a strip club is considered mainstream, and where billboards openly and legally advertise “Live Girls to Your Room” 24-hours a day. If there’s resistance to sex education being taught to Las Vegas schoolchildren, what might the situation be like in the far more reactionary Bible Belt?
Fact is, the backwards-looking school districts and backwater states where sex education isn’t being taught in public schools almost always have the highest teen pregnancy rates. And sexually-transmitted diseases, too. Keeping our kids ignorant while ignoring one of the fundamental components of human biology isn’t just a bad public policy. It’s a crime against our children and an infringement upon collective society — and with devastating consequences. [SEE FOOTNOTE 1}
There needs to be some serious finger pointing — and those who deserve to be called out and ostracized most severely are social conservatives and religious organizations, which almost always fodder the barricades against human progress and enlightenment. What’s their alternative plan? Abstinence. As in “just say no.”
A few nights ago, a baseball player in the Bronx stepped up to home plate, took a mighty swing, and belted a curveball into right field, scoring the final run of an otherwise meaningless game.
The large metropolis filled with beautiful and powerful people where this astonishing moment took place erupted into a frenzy. Social media exploded into hysteria. The image of this man hitting a ball appeared on every local and national sports network and was replayed over and over again until just about everyone knew about it. The following morning, newspaper headlines glorified the amazing ballplayer with the most saintly of headlines. The player was frequently lauded by observers as a “hero.”
Derek Jeter, who happens to be playing his final game for the storied New York Yankees this weekend, seems like a nice enough fellow. He appears to be a wonderful role model and an ideal citizen. Mr. Jeter is many things to many people, perhaps most paramount the manifestation of millions of dreams. He embodies the noblest virtues of good sportsmanship. That said, Mr. Jeter is not a hero.
Indeed, “hero” is a word that gets tossed around much too loosely nowadays. And frankly, I’ve become sick of its overuse and misappropriation and now feel compelled to express such indignation.
A few weeks ago, an active-duty serviceman currently serving in the United States Air Force was forbidden from re-enlisting.
Because he refused to take to the official oath required of all American servicemen and servicewomen, which includes (for many) the quarrelsome expression, “so help me god.” [SEE FOOTNOTE 1]
The Air Force sergeant, who’s name has not been released to the public, is an avowed atheist. For him, pledging an oath to what he believes is a false deity would be brazenly dishonest. What’s the point of raising one’s right hand in a ceremony, and then taking a bogus vow? Wouldn’t that make the oath meaningless and render the entire process a farce? It would be like pledging to obey commands from the Easter Bunny.
When I first read the news story about this brave American serviceman who was denied the opportunity to proudly serve his country for no other reason than not professing a belief in a god — I was dumbfounded. Yet again, we secularists were caught off guard. I asked myself — is this 1914 or 2014? Haven’t we yet reached the ambitious plateau of reason in American governance and society where religious litmus tests are no longer required to serve in the armed forces?