Kojo speaks with "Speak No Evil" novelist and D.C. native Uzodinma Iweala about his second novel and how his local upbringing affects his storytelling.
A local school paper pulls an article at the request of a mom who is also a journalist. The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, faces charges related to a prostitution ring. It’s your turn to weigh in on those and other stories in today’s headlines.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWelcome back, it's your turn. You can call us at 800-433-8850. Did you attend the Reason Rally this past weekend? Are atheists discriminated against in our society? You might want to make a call about that. Have you been following the health care arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court? Are you paying attention? What have you gleaned from it so far? 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAdditional revenue in Mayor Vincent Gray's proposed budget comes from keeping bars open later, and allowing alcohol to be sold at times when it's currently legal to sell it. Does this removal of restrictions make sense, or do blue laws limiting sales of alcohol at certain times of the day or week for you still make sense? 800-433-8850. But what I was thinking about today was the fact that parents go to great lengths to do things for their children to get into good schools. That's what we talked about yesterday, the out-of-boundary schools process where competition is fierce, and more parents find frustration than satisfaction.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWe were thinking about that frustration today, how parents try to do anything they can to help their kids get a leg up in the world, and contemplated two stories about local teens and their parents in the newspaper today. In one, the kids of a television reporter got harassed at school after their mom reported on problems associated with high school drinking. In the other, an eighth grader whose teacher asked him to read a poem out loud and then told him to read it blacker, the student voiced his concern to the teacher and the teacher has been temporarily removed.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIn both cases, the parents stood up for the kids, took their concern to the schools, but once the stories became fodder for the newspaper, we find a whole new level of public criticism. Did the mom go too far by asking the school newspaper not to run an article? Did the dad do the right thing by just speaking to the principal and letting the matter drop? Of course, being a parent of teenagers isn't easy, but it makes one wonder how much we should or shouldn't get involved in our kids' issues. What do you think?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWhere's the line that you draw over when to get involved and when not to? 800-433-8850, and is that line any different when it involves your kids' friends, or when it involves social media? 800-433-8850. It is your turn. We'll start with Andrew in Washington D.C. Andrew, you're on the air. Go ahead, please
ANDREWHi, Kojo. I did attend the Reason Rally on Saturday. It was very nice, very wet, and to kind of answer your question, I really do feel like atheists are discriminated in popular culture, more so probably than they even used to be. Wasn't it George Bush that said, you know, during his administration that atheists were the number one threat to the well-being of the American family? And a president of the United States said that about basically 15 percent of the population, and it just keeps getting echoed more and more in popular society nowadays.
NNAMDIThere was one elected official who attended the rally, one nationally elected official. I think it was Congressman Forney or Pete Stark from Florida, correct?
NNAMDIDo you think it would be possible for an atheist to be elected president of the United States?
ANDREWNot in the foreseeable future.
ANDREWI'd say maybe in about a decade, decade and a half. Well, you have to remember, Kennedy broke the Protestant circle for the Protestant glass ceiling for the presidency, but that was also only the '60s. I don't think we've had a non-Christian president since the country was incepted.
NNAMDIWell, do you think it makes a difference that the country now has an African-American president, one remember that there was controversy over John Kennedy being a Catholic and running for president. Now there is some milder controversy if you will about Mitt Romney being a Mormon and running for president, but it seems that any bias or prejudice against people of one particular faith or another, once that faith is fairly widespread in the United States, running for President has gone away, but how about a person of no faith whatsoever, at least no religious faith whatsoever running for president. You think it'll be a long time?
ANDREWYeah. Because you see, it's very easy, you know, for Christians who are the largest religious conglomeration in America to take Mormonism and take, you know, there's a religious background that all of them can unite behind because a lot of the values are the same. I'm not saying that atheists don't have values, but a lot of literally the written text that, you know, you can pull up on any website or that their organizations support, all have very similar, you know, claims, and it's a lot of the same things that atheists can do too, but dogmatically and pragmatically speaking, it's like a Venn diagram.
ANDREWWhat any religion is going to have in common with a lot of other religions, there's going to be enough overlap that as a religious person you will be able to find a connection with a candidate up for political office with a religious background.
ANDREWBut somebody with no religion whatsoever, they're just basically on the out lie, or they're almost their own circle.
NNAMDIBut there were 20 to 40,000 of you demonstrating here this weekend, and I guess that must count for something.
ANDREWYeah. But you know, I do think it is a movement, but I am not one of those people who thinks the religious state needs to disappear either. It just -- it would be nice to feel like we had an equal voice at the very least.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. It is your turn. You can call us at 800-433-8850 whether you want to take about the current arguments before the Supreme Court on health care, where parents should draw the line about interfering in their children's non-academic school activities, or anything else. On now to Chad in Washington D.C. Chad, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHADHi Kojo, how are you?
CHADCalling today because I have a question about the healthcare debate over the individual mandates. It seems to be that most of the criticism is saying that well, the government can't force anyone to buy a product, and yet I feel as if that's completely untrue, because I'm forced to buy car insurance. Now I know that's coming from the state, and the state is free whether or not if they want to choose to force people to buy car insurance, but if a state chooses not to force that minimum coverage, well then the federal government withholds highway tolls. So, you know, my question is, how come it's okay to have minimum coverage for car insurance, but not for your body?
NNAMDIWell, even though I haven't argued a case before the Supreme Court recently, it is my understanding that that's going to be at the center, or prominently featured in the considerations made by the court, all of it having to do with the issue of interstate commerce on which I am not an expert. But you have hit on one of the major arguments that have been made by the people who are for universal health care, and who are in favor or forcing, so to speak, or making sure that all Americans are capable to get access to universal health care.
NNAMDIThey say we pay for car insurance and that's something that the government makes us do, so the argument that the government cannot make us pay for universal health care is not a valid one. Beyond that, I can't help you, Chad.
CHADYeah. I mean, it's a confusion I have because, I mean, if this is literally what the entire argument was over, then why didn't the Obama administration save themselves some massive headaches and say, well, you can choose whether or not to require an individual mandate, but if you don't, we're gonna withhold Medicare. Now, every single state excepts Medicare coverage, and they accept that money, so if they want to continue accepting that money, then they would have to accept the new health care law. So if that seems to be the entire argument...
NNAMDIWell, I think -- I suspect...
CHAD...why didn't they just (word?) that way?
NNAMDII suspect that the threat to withhold Medicare won't be taken as seriously by the states as it will be taken by the elderly population that does get Medicare, and I don't think any administration wants to go there. But Chad, thank you very much for your call. On now to Marie in Front Royal, Va. Marie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Hi Marie, are you there?
NNAMDIGo right ahead, Marie. You're on the air.
MARIEExcuse me, I don't hear you.
NNAMDIWell, I hear you, so just speak up? I think Marie is on a bad line. Marie, I'm gonna put you on hold until either you or we have a better connection, and then I'll bring you back. In the meantime, let's remind our listeners that this is your turn. 800-433-8850. Whether you want to talk about the Reason Rally held this past weekend in Washington, the health care arguments being made before the U.S. Supreme Court, or parents and their children and where they should draw the line in their children's school-related, non-academic activities. Here's Van in Wheaton, Md. Van, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
VANHi, Kojo. Thank you very much for having me on. I've been listening on and off for the last few days, and I'm only recently back in the Maryland area from the west coast, and I'm frankly fascinated with the -- just how politically charged this season has become. It seems to me like there's a myriad of issues going on, and I wanted to ask you first off, you mentioned the blue laws talking about alcohol restriction. I jumped in in the middle of what you were talking about. What exactly is going on as far as -- are they loosening the restrictions when we can buy and consume alcohol?
NNAMDIYes. Mayor Gray of Washington D.C. is looking for more money in our proposed budget, and he has proposed that if you keep bars open later, if you allow alcohol to be sold at times when it's now currently illegal to sell it, like, oh, 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday, that that can bring the city more tax revenues and, of course, there are people who are likely to object to that. What say you?
VANWell, I'm happy. I'm frankly against any kind of prohibition --well, not any kind, but I frankly think any kind of decision that opens up people to make decisions for themselves, I'm a fan of. I'm not saying that for hard drugs by any means, but I am happy to be back in a place -- well, not back in a place, Oregon is relatively open-minded state, but it seems to me like people making decisions for themselves is always a good thing. I also wanted to bring up...
NNAMDIUh-oh, you're breaking up on me, and I can't hear you very well, Van. Try again.
VANOkay. Excuse me. What I wanted to say was that jumping to the atheist conversation, I'm actually up in the air as to exactly where I find myself thinking whether I'm atheist or not, but I am happy that Richard Dawkins was able to speak. I know in many places that wouldn't be possible in many parts of world that wouldn't be possible. That being said, I read an interesting excerpt of a blog on NPR yesterday which made me think twice about that in that he speaks -- there was some concern that he was actually being relatively condescending and even to the point of offending people who are religious, and I wanted to return the question to you.
VANHave you heard about that backlash as far as people being disrespected? I mean, it's one thing to be able to speak your mind, but offending people, I mean, it's offending people intentionally I guess is what I'm saying, seems to be kind of going against (unintelligible) as an atheist.
NNAMDIWell, as far as I know, there was no intention to offend, but people can take offense any time they feel that their right to religious worship is being denied, and people see that denial in all kinds of ways, especially if they are confronted with people who do not share their faith, then there's often a tendency to infer from the lack of faith of those people that they intend to take away the right of religious people to worship, although I have not seen that proposed anyplace. Nevertheless, people can sometimes get a little paranoid about stuff like that, but thank you very much for your call. We move on to John in Pasadena, Md. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOHNKojo, first time caller. My question is related to health care, and my question is, is that when you have no assets or no resources and you must go to the emergency room, who ultimately pays for that under the current conditions?
NNAMDIThat would be you, John.
JOHNI mean, does...
JOHN...does the hospital...
NNAMDIThe general perception is that those of us who do have health insurance are the ones who ultimately end up paying the bills for those of us who don't because it results in a rise in our insurance rates as a result of the added expense to hospitals and other service for people who don't have health insurance. It's another one of the arguments that you are likely to hear in the arguments being made before the Supreme Court over the next day or so. But thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIAnd we're running out of time, but I think I want to go to Sarah in Fairfax, Va. Sarah, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SARAHHi there, Kojo. How are you doing?
SARAHWell, I just wanted to comment on what the first caller was saying about, you know, when we might see an atheist president, and I'm a college in Fairfax, and I've just been seeing a huge number of atheist kids who are going into politics and going into government who have these interests, and there's also a site that's been gaining increasing popularity on the Internet called reddit, and there's a huge atheist population there, like high schoolers and college-aged kids.
NNAMDIWell, do you see that as a good thing or a bad thing?
NNAMDIDo you see that as a good thing or a bad thing, Sarah?
SARAHI'm sorry? Sorry.
NNAMDIDo you approve of it or not? I don't think Sarah's hearing me very well. But Sarah, you actually are the last caller. Thank you all for calling, and for those of you, thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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