Today's posting will involve a lot of discussion of foolish, harmful things that people only believe because they have chosen to.
Candorville starts with the Not-So-Great-Expectations that derail so many kids from the start.
I am often saddened to look at the picture of my second-grade class and see all those smiling faces and realize how many of those smiles will be wiped away unfairly.
I wrote a column years ago about one buddy who had the misfortune to come from a family that included some real troublemakers.
You can read it if you'd like, but the basics are that teachers would see that last name on their class roster at the start of the year, and jump down his throat immediately, based on what they assumed he was rather than waiting to see who he was.
The happy ending was that, when he got to Parris Island, nobody had ever heard of his last name and not only was he a damn good Marine, but the experience of finally being permitted to prove himself allowed him to move past the rough, unfair start he'd had.
But that's why he's one of my personal heroes. Not everyone can step up and overcome a start like that, and it's not fair to expect them to be able to.
It's similar to the SuperCrip phenomenon. Sure, here's a paraplegic who climbed Mt. Everest and a blind guy who writes about art and we all love Helen Keller, but celebrating them runs a very great danger of belittling those for whom simply getting through the day is a triumph.
So I see those smiling faces in my class, and I know which of them will slowly become surly and sad and defeated and will end up in surly, sad, defeated adult lives, and I know that it didn't have to be that way.
I'm not diminishing the racial aspect, because it's a major societal issue.
Just saying that, if everyone you knew as a kid was from pretty much your own background -- economic, racial, whatever -- you should be a little cautious about playing the "Here's what they oughta do" game.
And that if you did have the great good fortune to have grown up within a truly diverse community, you probably already are a little cautious about that.
We all know that kids deserve to enter life, and certainly to enter school, with a clean slate.
But for some reason we don't seem to follow through very well on that knowledge.
So here's a triple juxtaposition
I'm starting with Drew Litton's commentary to set a firm foundation: For those who missed it, in 1989, baseball great Pete Rose was banned from Major League Baseball, and thus from the Hall of Fame, for gambling on games.
For 15 years, Rose denied gambling entirely, then, in 2004, finally admitted that he had bet on games as a manager, after his playing games were over.
Now ESPN has gained access to documented evidence that he bet tens of thousands on games while he was an active player and has maintained that lie for the past 26 years, all the time petitioning to be let back in.
(The problem with sports betting, BTW, is not so much that a player might throw a game or two in order to enrich himself, but that he will become indebted to mafia figures who will then make him offers he can't refuse, with much wider implications for the sport.)
Anyway, the response to ESPN's revelations has largely been that nobody ever believed his denials and so nobody is particularly surprised to "learn the truth."
Which brings us to the Pope's recent declaration, in which he lines up with 97% of competent, knowledgable scientists, declaring that, yes, climate change is real, yes, it's serious, and, yes, it is caused by human activities.
Which everybody already knew except for those who, like ardent Pete Rose fans, refused to admit to the obvious.
As Stantis suggests, it is most inconvenient, and if you have a strong stomach for rampant, deliberate, purposeful stupidity, you can go find all sorts of cartoons attacking Pope Francis for having the nerve to say something the ardent fans of oil and coal companies insist is a lie and a fraud.
Which brings up a question whose tradition goes back nearly as far as the Papacy: Are they fools, or liars?
Because given the evidence -- and, unlike in the case of Pete Rose, the documentation on this has long been freely available -- you would have to either be a complete fool to not understand the situation, or a total liar to continue to deny it.
My theory is that anyone smart enough to know which end of the pen the ink comes out of is smart enough to figure out the science on this.
I'm not sure what to make of people who demand that a religious leader lie to the world, although I suppose, given how they exercise their oft-proclaimed Christian values when it comes to assisting the poor and so forth, their moral hypocrisy is just one more of those things everybody knows about.
Which brings us to the Confederate flag, Bennett's commentary and, finally, something hopeful.
The sudden flood of denunciations of this symbol of racism, disloyalty and division -- from Southern leaders moving to remove it from state buildings and state flags to retailers taking it off their shelves -- certainly falls under the category of finally admitting to obvious truths that everybody already knew.
As I noted in my original commentary on Charleston, one of the most harmful roadblocks to addressing the grave societal disease we face is the assumption that most people would object to taking the necessary steps towards a cure.
And we believed it, or acted as if we did: "You can't touch the Confederate flag! People won't stand for it!"
Well, folks, the damn thing looks like it's headed for the toxic waste bin, and only the vocal lunatic fringe is raising much of a stink, trying to defend it. And "most people" are not lunatics.
We all knew all along what it stood for, and now we're finally admitting we all knew all along, and it looks like the fringe dwellers are just gonna have to stand out there on their own.
So now let's talk about the Second Amendment, and what everybody knows about that.
It reminds me of Bill Mauldin's commentary on the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, in which the eagle admits that the position of command was his rightful place all along, and that only his decision to let things be the way they were allowed things to be that way.
So you say you want to take your country back?
Yeah, well, we all want to take our country back. This country: