An Ensuing Debate

Note: this post has been updated in the debate section within the last few hours due to newer comments ...

The article titled: “L.D.S. looks to improve education,” with the lede, below, appeared in the Samoa Observer a few days ago.

The Lede:
Raising the level of education in Samoa has now become the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ main priority.  In doing so, the church has partnered with government ministries and Non Governmental Organizations to lift educational standards across the region. 

The comments to the article became a source for the “debates” among the respondents; with some, as always, denigrating the LDS Church (and religion in general) despite the generous nature of the Church's contribution and offer to improve education.  Most posters were skeptical and paranoid about the offer as well as being suspicious about the motives behind the gesture.

The more active and sustained exchange (below), however, is the one between me and a user/poster named Impensable, who was the first to comment and criticize the offer.

(The seeming lapse in the order of comments, hence disrupting their flow and order, is due to the dual threads in which the conversations are held.)

"Raising the level of education in Samoa has now become the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ main priority. "

All very good, but perhaps they should start by removing any reference to religion, no matter how small, from education. There can be no true freedom in education unless the shackles of ignorance are removed. And religious is the worst of shackles for Samoan children.

Sorry but LDS schools are private/religious schools - not public. Removing religious references and curriculum will defeat one of the main goals of these schools. The trend among public school systems in the US and other countries is secularization and church schools help to countervail the marginalization of God in education.

"And religious [sic] is the worst of shackles for Samoan children."

Really? Sorry buddy but that's an ignorant claim! You can say this about any other country but NOT Samoa. The young people today need God in their lives and Samoan children have always been raised that way from the a'oga a le faife'au (pastor's school) to the many church schools (Catholic, SDA, LDS, Methodist, CCCS, etc.) in Apia. These churches all have primary and secondary schools that have served Samoa's youth for years.

Wherefore the "sic", "buddy"? Knowest thou thy English grammar or not?
Who's the ignoramus here?

Claiming young people need an Invisible Friend is the biggest joke of all time, this is exactly the kind of ignorance that keeps Samoan children in poverty. But I imagine that's precisely what people of your ilk seek to achieve, isn't it?

There's good grammar, better grammar and then there's awkward grammar.

Anyway, methinks that thou wast not born and/or raised in Samoa or you would have known about the Samoan children's religious upbringing. Or if you were, you may have been one of those who had a silver spoon in your mouth as a child, and therefore unable to identify with most of the Samoan children who were certainly poor temporally but not spiritually. The fruits of such spiritual orientation become one's anchors later in life manifested in charity, service and love for others. And "that's precisely what people of [my] ilk seek to achieve."

LV:  A follow-up post on the reason for the [sic] tag.
Why the "sic" and who's the ignoramus here?  Heheee .... Ok, here we go. Here’s the part in question:

You wrote:"There can be no true freedom in education unless the shackles of ignorance are removed. And religious is the worst of shackles for Samoan children."

Both sentences are related/connected in thought and construction.  It’s actually one sentence if you remove the period (.) after “removed”.  So if I were proofreading the above, I would definitely use “amb” (ambiguity) and “cl” (clarity) for my symbols - oh, and “awk” (awkwardness).
So what happened was that you went from a noun phrase (“shackles of ignorance”) to an adjective/adjectival phrase (“religious is the worst of shackles”) within the same thought.  And that’s awkward, if not wrong.

Two ways you can rewrite to avoid the mistakes and awkwardness:

1. There can be no true freedom in education unless the ignorant shackles are removed. And religious is the worst of shackles for Samoan children. (adjective with adjective)

2. There can be no true freedom in education unless the shackles of ignorance are removed. And religion is the worst of shackles for Samoan children. (noun with noun)

Re: Parallel Structure rule.

Hence, for the second sentence, a much better rewrite would be: 
"And the shackle of religion is the worst for Samoan children."

In that way "shackle of religion" parallels "shackles of ignorance" in the original text.

That’s the reason for the [sic] tag, ignoramus ... or should I say sicnoramus? ...LOL!


5. Often, shackles. anything that serves to prevent freedom of procedure, thought, etc.
I rest my case. Try and teach others, you have nothing to teach me.

Alright buddy! I hope you rest your case for good now. By the way, thank you for reminding me the meaning/definition of "shackle". Indeed according to the context of your example, poor grammatical skills can also be a shackle. So here's an advice, be teachable! No matter how stubborn you are in saying that I have nothing to teach you, you actually will (if you haven't already) in a very quiet way, and during some quiet time, thank me for teaching you something in this exchange. Believe me Impensable; if you keep making the same grammatical mistakes, here or elsewhere, someone else will correct you again. But then it's times like these that you would be grateful for aliases because no one knows who you truly are, so you don't have to be defensive to the point of denial. Just admit it! Anyhow, it was good meeting you. Hope we'll still be friends. 


Nothing awkward about my grammar, buddy. Just acknowledge your error, it's a very Christian thing to do, isn't it?

As for "The fruits of such spiritual orientation become one's anchors later in life manifested in charity, service and love for others,", well, hahaha.
The same old story, perpetuated by old men seeking to retain old male power within a patriarchal order. I rest my case. It's kind of weird when you would rather have children in poverty, hungry, dirty, uneducated, but ensuring their "spirit" is rich. Their opinion is never asked, is it? What happens to them if they question the "traditional order" that screws up their lives? Be honest, do not dissemble. Are they physically punished? Yes or No? "Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child"?

Impensable, I’ll get to the grammar issue in a moment.

Meanwhile, how did we get from churches and education to “old men seeking to retain old male power within a patriarchal order,” and the “traditional order” screwing up children’s lives?  Are you trying to pull a red herring here?  Or are you someone with a feminist agenda, or just a lad with a bone to pick with the traditional system?  In that case, you’re right you should “rest [your] case.”  You’re definitely prevaricating.

Now to the, perhaps, more important issue and lesson.  Grammar.

Nothing awkward about my grammar, buddy. Just acknowledge your error, it's a very Christian thing to do, isn't it?

Well, let me try to do the “Christian thing” (again) per your appeal.  I’ve already clarified your first mistake in a separate post, but now you have another similar, yet more glaring one.  It’s in this sentence (re: underlined words):

”It's kind of weird when you would rather have children in poverty, hungry, dirty, uneducated, but ensuring their "spirit" is rich.”

Again you have a mixture of a noun and adjectives. Correct grammar would call for all nouns/noun forms, based on the syntax and context of the sentence.  The applicable grammar rule is called Parallel Structure or Parallelism.

So therefore the following would be the better - and correct - rewrite:

“It's kind of weird when you would rather have children in poverty, hunger, dirt, illiteracy, but ensuring their "spirit" is rich.”  

Yes, use all nouns following the first one - poverty.  Try removing "poverty" and see how terrible and wrong the rest of your list will be.  Using "than" instead of "but" is also recommended.

Have a good day and Happy Halloween (if you celebrate it).

Hahaha. Amusing.

No red herring, if you see no connection between Christianism [sic] and the patriarchal order in society, then you're wilfully blind.
Enjoy your pagan festivities. Nothing Christian about Halloween in its oorigins, [sic] as you should know. But you'll probably ignore the facts, as is your wont.

I'm glad that you find the grammar lessons amusing - now go do likewise. 

If no red herring then it must be equivocation of which you're guilty. Incidentally, Christianity is the more standard term than Christianism - and the latter is not a "parallel" for many other similar "isms" (Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Methodism, Mormonism, Evangelicalism, etc.) in case it's the reason you're using a non-standard term. So if there's nothing Christian about Halloween, then it seems like the perfect celebration and holiday for you and your pagan "invisible friend" since there's a lot of "invisible friends" associated with Halloween. Ghosts! ...LOL!

(... to be continued?  We'll see.)

(Note: For those who are interested in the other comments to the article, including the rest of my comments to other posters, click this link, then scroll to the comments section at the bottom of the article.)


Nasty Woman? Think Again... LOL!

Trending now is Trump’s comment last night from the debate about Hillary as “A Nasty Woman”.

But, if Clinton wins (her chances, by the way, are getting better and better as Trump keeps shooting himself in the mouth), then it’s likely that “nasty” will continue to be associated with her, albeit as part of a more favorable word (dynasty) that might describe her presidency and her husband’s; unparalleled in modern times, let alone in America. They say there is no political dynasty in America, but the Clintons' may very well qualify.


Presidential Debates: Trump, Clinton and Old Nick

Did I watch the debate Sunday night?  You betcha!  And I did the first one too.  Not that I was trying to  see for whom I'll vote..hmmm..well, maybe. And maybe not.  But it was more for my own curiosity as to what's in the minds of the two worst nominees in history. Again it's a sad time for America in its history of presidential elections.  The closer it is to the election, the worse the two have become.  Trump with more revelations of his womanizing, lewd and salacious behavior and Clinton with more leaks and revelations of her own past dealings and emails.  Though it's sad and pitiful for the two to hang themselves out to dry in the debates, it's even sadder for the American people, of both parties, especially in how they have managed to elect the two as finalists. Remember, in a democracy, they say that the people always deserve their leaders, at least for the majority. In fact there are millions of those that do not support either candidate.

So what went wrong?  Maybe nothing? Just let the process take its course and in the end we Americans will deserve our president?  Well I must say that it's not necessarily the majority that's to be blamed exclusively, rather it's also the system where the plurality in the primaries have been the ones advancing their candidate. Proof lies in the fact that during the primaries more people did not approve of either candidate than those who supported and voted for them.  This group was split up among other candidates but also included independents and others.  And then as the primaries wound down, people had no choice but vote for the remaining ones for the sake of the party.

With the kind of politics involved in this election, I personally feel like invoking Old Nick (aka Niccolo Machiavelli) whose name and teachings are synonymous with the crafty and cunning nature of politics.  His treatise "The Prince" has long been considered a handbook for politicians.  The demeanors of the two candidates have seemed to resemble Machiavellian politicians. The cruel yet cunning, manipulative, conniving and scheming ones.  Aren't all politicians cunning, conniving, manipulative and scheming anyway?  Methinks they are, or at least most of them.

Anyhow, here's a simulation of the debate with me (and my reactionary faces) in the audience and Old Nick as the moderator, injecting his famous quotes from "The Prince".

Old Nick:
Mr. Trump did you just say that if elected President that you will be determined to inflict harm on Mrs. Clinton by putting her in jail?
Mr. Trump: Yes Nick. Yes...Yes.
Old Nick:
"The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all." (The Prince)

Old Nick:
Mrs. Clinton, do you feel that more people will vote for you because they love you or because they hate Mr. Trump more?
Mrs. Clinton: Both
Old Nick:
"Therefore the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people, for although you may have fortresses they will not save you if you are hated by the people." (The Prince)

Old Nick:
Mr. Trump, you claim that people don't hate you; they love you, or maybe fear you, especially women, who, I might add, you seem to enjoy touching them and their properties?  What sayest thou?
Mr. Trump [sniffles]:
I love women and I respect women. I don't hate them; I want them to love me, not fear me.
Old Nick:
"Being feared and not hated go well together, and the prince can always do this if he does not touch the property or the women of his citizens and subjects." (The Prince)

Old Nick:
Mrs. Clinton, question for you. Mr. Trump has said that you have the worse temperament than his and said that you can be really mean at times.  Is that true?
Mrs. Clinton:
I admit that sometimes I can be a mean person, not as a mother, but as a politician.  I find that the times I am mean are times when I'm doing great things. I'm a fighter and I don't quit. Just ask him.
Old Nick:
"We have not seen great things done in our time except by those who have been considered mean; the rest have failed." (The Prince)


BYU in the News .... Again.

Top US Colleges  - Sept. 27, 2016 - Wall Street Journal
"Want a school that will engage your mind? Put Brigham Young University on your short list.
Looking for a diverse student body? The City University of New York's City College could be for you.
How about a school rich enough to pour plenty of resources into your education? Head to Harvard University.
Focused on how well you'll do after graduation? You can't do better than Yale University.
And if you want all of the above and great weather to boot? Head west. Stanford University tops the inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings."

BYU Students Win International Language Competition - October 06, 2016 
"BYU students use Arabic to win international essay competition, address the UN General Assembly.
Rachel Lott and Jamie Clegg, two BYU Arabic language students, were selected to participate in a United Nations General Assembly based on essays written in Arabic. The pair felt honored and humbled when they realized they were among only 10 finalists chosen from applicants worldwide to represent their language."

BYU Named Safest College Campus in America
"Business Insider named Brigham Young University as the no. 1 safest college campus in America. After looking at a variety of factors such as local and campus crime rates, drug and alcohol use, campus security presence, and emergency procedures, the college review site Niche determined that the BYU campus excelled in health and safety."


Freedom of Speech in Samoa

My two cents in an article on democracy and freedom of speech in the Samoa Observer.

Freedom of speech in the context of modern democratic societies is complex, controversial and convoluted. And it has become more so with the advent of the Internet.

In Samoa, we should not be surprised at how vague the freedom of speech concept is because of the country's fledgling political experiment with democracy. The two seem to be strange bedfellows thus far, to say the least.

Metaphorically speaking, Samoa's traditional socio-political system is a square peg trying to dovetail into the round hole of democracy.
Compounded by the divisiveness, stubbornness, reluctance - and sometimes defiance - of the present government to yield and conform to some of the democratic principles, the results have been less than compliant and/or favorable.

It is disappointing and disheartening especially when one of the country's main political goals is that of becoming a more democratic society.

The clashes between Samoa's traditional political system and its modern counterpart have been well documented through the years. We therefore should be tolerant and patient with Samoa's shortcomings and struggles in the process. She however has been making some important strides and headway in this seemingly inevitable challenge, but there's still a lot more that needs to be done.

Freedom of speech in the article tends to focus more, if not exclusively on oral speech, and the right to express oneself within a more traditional authoritarian and despotic village setting and environment. Samoa, still largely an unsophisticated and rudimentary society, politically (at least in the villages), has not yet acquired the more advanced and modern applications of the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech includes expressions of different kinds, not just oral speech. In fact it even includes not speaking at all especially while in protest of something. It also covers the creation and dissemination of information.

There is a bigger irony however.

Contrary to what we have come to believe through a more modern lense, Samoa's traditional system has always had - and allowed - freedom of speech. Yes. In fact a lot freer than we thought; albeit more arbitrarily than by invocation of contemporary individual rights. Though some of this traditional freedom was/is regulated, by the village councils mostly, much of it was/is not.

With regards to oral speech, traditional freedom of speech was/is maintained via the chiefly rank relations (va to'oto'o) and status quo, often propelled by the expression "O Samoa ua uma ona tofi" (Samoa has been classified). Adherence to these protocols would deter or discourage anyone from speaking out of turn, or spew any slanderous remarks or comments. Moreover, chiefs are the spokespersons for the family, village or other individuals. This social order helps keeps freedom of speech, notably among the common people, in check and under control; it also indirectly discourages and/or limits free speech, unfortunately.

Notwithstanding, however, it's Samoa's traditional culture of violence and contention that freedom of speech thrives unabridged and unbridled. Included in the above "cultures" or behaviors are words and speeches that are taunting, incendiary, provocative, threatening, inciting, etc. Obscenities, profanity, offensive actions and expressions such as sigo (mooning), faaumu (incitive whoop) are freely demonstrated often without retribution in most cases. During feuds and contentions between families and individuals, hate speeches also are freely exchanged and retaliated.

Ironically, in most democratic countries, today, many if not all of the above are illegal and punishable by law, as having fallen under disorderly conduct or other criminal acts and violations.

Samoans need to understand that restrictions on certain speeches, expressions and rights are intrinsically linked as parts of the convoluted and more comprehensive freedom of speech. In other words, certain "freedoms of expression" enjoyed in the traditional system may already be restricted and illegal in today's democratic system.