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Opinions from our readers 4.5.2006

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Exile from Trillville
Play Ball: The 2006 Season Begins!
By NICK COLIN
It isn’t springtime until that first pitch is thrown before a packed stadium of ravenous fans, each with high expectations for the season.
In these parts, the Philadelphia Phillies hold sway over the locals, which doesn’t bode well for a longtime New York Mets fan like me.
 The Mets were the most pathetic team of the 90s until 1998, when they made the playoffs for the first time since 1988. Unfortunately, I was a punk teenager back in 1998 and I didn’t care about sports.
Luckily, I became obsessed with baseball again in time to witness the Mets make it to the World Series in 2000. I was a student at Seton Hall University in South Orange, which was only about a 20-minute train ride to the city. When the Mets took on the Yankees in the “Subway Series,” the city was more chic than the Sunset Strip and more alive than Mardi Gras.
They went back to being losers for the next four seasons after that. In 2005, they acquired Pedro Martinez, who had lead the Boston Red Sox to a World Series championship the year before and Carlos Beltran, who was excellent for the Houston Astros in their thrilling seven game playoff series against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004.
The Mets finished third in the National League East at 83-79, but they showed signs of hope. This year, with the addition of first baseman Carlos Delgado, who batted .301 with 33 homeruns and 115 runs batted in and Phillies closer Billy Wagner, New York is the favorite to win the National League East.
The Mets line-up of: Jose Reyes (led the league in stolen bases), Paul Lo Duca (all-star), Carlos Beltran (look at what he did for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic), Delgado, David Wright (batted .306 with 27 homeruns and 101 runs batted in), and Cliff Floyd (had 34 homeruns). What line-up in the National League is that lethal?
Conversely, New York is shaky when it comes to starting pitching and that could be their undoing.
The Phillies, on the other hand, filled the hole left by Wagner with former Yankee set-up man Tom Gordon. They ditched homerun king Jim Thome for average center fielder Aaron Rowland.
Many in Philly are beaming about the move because Rowland is from the World Series champion Chicago White Sox, but he isn’t an All-Star.
Philadelphia is banking on Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to continue its evolution into superstars, but they lack pitching like just like the Mets. Why buy Julio Santana or Ricardo Rodriquez when superstars like Josh Beckett and Barry Zito were on the market?
You’d think a city, starved for a championship, would be throwing money around. Instead, they rely on the farm system, while their NL East rivals spend, spend, spend.
The Eagles have done the same thing this off-season. They badly need a number one wide receiver and to improve a defensive line that nearly got Donavan McNabb murdered. What do they do? NOTHING!
They resign Center Jon Runyan and sign Terrell Owen’s old punching bag Jeff Garcia as a back up to the bullet riddled McNabb. They didn’t bother with Keyshawn Johnson, Antwoine Randel- El, or any other big names.
Back to baseball, though, the Phillies are going to be in trouble this year. They had one of the nicest houses on the block for the last two years, but now neighbors have touched up or remodeled their homes, leaving the Phillies looking pretty darn ordinary.
Not only will Philadelphia have to deal with the Mets, who they went 7-11 against last year, but the Atlanta Braves haven’t dissipated much from their NL East championship season. Atlanta hasn’t lost the division since 1990, when there was no central division. The Phillies went a decent 10-9 against the perennial powerhouse, but will have to do better if they are to make any waves.
The Florida Marlins gave away two stars to compete and The Washington Nationals don’t even have an owner, so they’re of no concern. It will be between the Mets, Phillies, and Braves.
Most analysts have chosen The Mets to take the NL East and although I want it more than anything in the world, I’m not sure. Seasons come down to injuries and New York, with their two best pitchers near 40, could suffer major setbacks, leaving their offense to grind it out. I think Atlanta is the favorite because they have won the division for the last 15 years.
In my humble opinion it will be: Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Francisco (if Bonds stays healthy), with the Mets taking the wild card in the National League. The American League will be: New York, Cleveland or Chicago, and Oakland, with Boston as the wildcard.
Salute Dustbusters
For Clean Sweeps
By JACK SMYTH
Eight packs of lint and motes of dust are not orphans to Benson McTighe. He herds them together into a community before sending them to oblivion.
His job is to keep them from spreading. As a cleaner in a local nursing home, as such, he grows to know them almost by name.
Dealing with particles most people ignore and others are not aware of requires special training and sensitivity.
There are no schools to train people like him and certainly little or no recognition of what they contribute to daily living. Keeping lint and dust on the move and from not offending the obsession with cleanliness, is bred into all of us and not a job that is easy to fill.
So here’s to the broom wielders, the floor polishers, in a word, the dirt chasers. They are not appreciated or properly rewarded.
Next time you encounter one, give them a big
“Hello” and a wide smile. In the absence of a “Dust Buster of the Year” award, it’s better than nothing.
The Mounties of Middle?
As crime rates reportedly rise throughout not only the county, but locally our township leaders have taken it upon themselves to combat the horrific act of dirt bike riding.
While our county Prosecutor prepares a lawsuit against his employer, our freeholders, with claim of a rising crime rate, Middle Township has decided to arm themselves for battle against all-terrain-vehicles.
As taxes climb at a rate outpaced only by criminal convictions, our local leaders have decided to spend more money in the pursuit of the two-wheel bandit. In an effort to capture what Capt. Scott Webster describes as “hard working, law abiding citizens,” we now have officers operating ala stealth to win back the township.
As drug dealers, gang members, and sexual predators hone their skills in Middle Township, be not afraid. As the problems in our public high school grow to a point that security cameras are installed, do not fret.
While hard working police officers continue to be over worked and understaffed, rest easy. We now have ever-vigilant four wheeling lawmen to keep us safe.
In an effort to keep the streets of our township safe and secure, in a quest to uphold the mission of lawman everywhere, to serve and protect, we now have “The Mounties of Middle.”
And, when they capture these elusive weekend bandits who are otherwise known as plumbers, teachers, builders, and dads just having fun with their kids, what do they do you may ask? They ticket the offending perpetrator and confiscate the tool utilized in the commission of the crime. No mercy for these iniquitous degenerates.
Wait, you say. These machines are dangerous, loud and obtrusive. People could get hurt. Correct you are, to an extent. If riders are acting reckless or with ill will towards others, prepare a noontime hanging.
They tear up golf curses and yards. If caught destroying private property, they should be castigated.
Ironically, Middle Township, or any other local municipality for that matter, offers no room or land for residents to ride. Would not a viable solution be to provide a location for these inhabitants to operate?
(ED. NOTE: To the anonymous Court House author, why not appear at the April 17 Middle Township Committee meeting to ask for land on which  to ride? The ordinance prohibiting ATVs stemmed from irate citizens whose property was damaged.)
 
An affordable apartment on the island of Cape May, should I even be worried about trying to find one at this point?
Or, should I just continue about my business, and accept the fact I’m probably going to end up in one of those blighted motels that hopscotch the highway?
The reason I ask is because, as of late, I’m seriously considering the latter.
In fact, call it a form of reverse-psychology, but I’m starting to think it might be kind of cool to effectively, fritter my life away in one of those seedy roadside establishments.
Just imagine: loafing around all day in a cheap robe and a pair of Dale Earnhardt Jr. flip-flops; listening to Bob Seeger on an alarm-clock radio; guzzling 16-ounce Busch cans at 10 in the morning; perhaps playing a spirited game of pinochle with a grizzled old-timer named, Chappy or Dutch.
I know.
Sounds pretty sweet, right?
Like living in a Kid Rock video.  Or Merle Haggard song.
Of course, I reckon it won’t be all “good times,” for paradise does come at a cost.
So before I get swept away in this fevered, dysfunctional portrait of Utopia, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge some potential drawbacks:
First, many motels are no longer offering FREE HBO.  So you’ve got to be picky about where you’re going to stay.  For no HBO means no “Sopranosâ” or, the occasional “Real Time” with Bill Maher.
And frankly, that’s kind of beat.
Second, the dilemma of what to do about that encrusted chalk outline of a dead body that’s sure to frame the center of the room:
Throw rug?  Or a lovely fern?
But the biggest burden I suspect will probably be that violent, drug-fueled motorcycle gang that will undoubtedly live in the complex.
Aside from routine acts of terror and mayhem, I’ll bet dollars-to-doughnuts theyâre going to party pretty darn hard.
Especially on those nights when they commit their ritualistic sacrifices.
Yeah, trying to find an affordable apartment in Cape May (or West Cape May) has proved most difficult.
And yes, with the lease on my current winter-rental ending in less then a month, and not the slightest prospect of a replacement in sight, I am now officially sweating bullets.
And by next week, cannon-balls.
I know the topic of “affordable housingâ” is starting to become somewhat of a drag, what with all the media saturation it has received.
But I just have to ask, one last time, for the record, out of contempt, out of shock – who or what is to blame for these exorbitant prices that are dominating the local real-estate market, rentals or otherwise?
Since when has “$7,000 for a one bedroom seasonal apartmentâ” and “$4,250 for an efficiencyâ” been a square deal, acceptable?
I’ll leave it at that, as I’m too uninformed to further editorialize. And too much of a goofball to actually offer a sensible argument – see: squandering the rest of my life in a bleak motel.
Yet I will add this little postscript:
After living in this area nearly my entire life, going to grade school here, graduating from the local high school, having most of my family and friends still live in the area, it just doesn’t seem right, or just, that the only two places I can now afford (without being crushed financially) is a chicken-coop and or a construction site Port-a-Potty.
Utilities included on both, of course.
(ED. NOTE: LoSasso writes from Cape May.)
Philosophically Speaking
Yes. Moral Relativism Is Repugnant
By GARY OSMUNDSEN
 
Bruce Allen (March 22) decided to continue recycling his method of responding to my articles with the typical ad hominem attacks and sloppy thinking that has become the hallmark of his meretricious writing.
Since I have already exposed his proclivity to employ logical fallacies in my last reply, I will not waste space here again exposing his recurring problem.  Rather, I want to address the argument he makes in his article entitled “Is Moral Relativism Morally Repugnant?”
Allen takes umbrage with my belief that objective moral values (or OMV) exist. He accused me of not thinking “about the relationship of [OMV] as they apply to the real world for more than a few minutes.” In light of this, I hope to show that I have indeed thought about ethics for more than a few minutes. What’s more, it should come apparent that by the article’s end it is he who is the one that needs to spend more time studying ethics.     
His argument against my belief in OMV looks something like this:
(1) Osmundsen believes in OMV.
(2) Osmundsen believes murder is objectively wrong.
(3) But murdering a thug who is trying to murder an innocent woman is not wrong.
(4) In fact, it is the right thing to do. 
(5) Therefore, murder is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.
(6) Therefore, murder is relative and not objectively wrong.
(7) Therefore moral relativism is true.  
He repackages this line of reasoning replacing murder with acts of lying and stealing in other hypothetical scenarios. For example, lying to thugs who want to kill the person you have hiding in the closet or stealing a person’s diary that possesses the confessions of the unsolved heinous crimes he has committed.
I grant that all his scenarios which require killing, lying, and stealing are the right things to do, given the circumstances (notice I used killing and not murder-there is a clear difference: murder is objectively wrong, killing is not). But how does that refute the existence of OMV? It doesn’t; because premises (6) and (7) are false. 
It seems my “few minutes” of studying ethics has informed me to at least recognize some very crucial distinctions Allen misses: Ethical objectivism is the idea that there is a core morality (OMV)-that is, there exists a determinant set of values and principles that are universally valid.
Moral relativism, however, is the view that there are neither universally valid values nor moral principles. Rather, all moral values and principles are valid relative to culture or individual choice. And then there is a third distinction called application relativism which is the endeavor to apply moral rules where there is a conflict of OMV or where rules can be applied in different ways. And this is where I am utterly confused about Allen’s position.  He touted in his article that he “is a moral relativist and furthermore…thinks that [I am too].” In addition, he says, “I think almost all of us are moral relativists. In fact, I have never met anyone who wasn’t.” The reader will see below why I think this is an egregious mistake by him to think I am a moral relativist.
It seems that all Allen’s arguments show is that application relativism is true – not moral relativism.  And application relativism is what ethical objectivists do when adjudicating between competing OMV. Thus, I want to extend to Allen the principle of charity here and take it that what he really means is that he practices application relativism and isn’t the full-blown moral relativist he professes to be.
At least, that is all that can be deduced from his hypothetical scenarios.  In fact, it seems his moral faculties are not malfunctioning because he recognizes what OMV out weigh the competing OMV when having to make ethical decisions.  At least I hope this is what’s going on. 
If not, then Allen, as a moral relativist, cannot say that torturing babies for fun is objectively wrong. Furthermore, he cannot say that what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews was objectively wrong. For their actions were, according the moral relativist, “right” and “good” relative to their society’s prescribed morality. In other words, as a moral relativist, Allen would have to concede that had he lived in Germany, during Hitler’s reign, that murdering Jews is not immoral because that is the prescribed morality for his society.
He could be an individual moral relativist and reject Nazi morality. But the fact remains that whatever position he takes, there is no truth to the matter because morality is a social or individual construction. He may think torturing babies for fun is wrong. But that is just his opinion; it is not a fact. 
I, however, can say with confidence that my moral intuition provides for me immediate, direct access to the existence of OMV which allows me in these cases to say that torturing babies for fun and Hitler murdering Jews are not just wrong (as a matter of opinion): It is a fact they are wrong -objectively wrong, universally wrong -regardless of what anyone else thinks.  That is what it means to believe in OMV.  Some things are wrong regardless of what a society or individual says to the contrary. And it is incumbent upon Allen and those who deny the existence of OMV to shoulder the onus of proving that my moral intuitions fail me. 
Furthermore, if Allen is a moral relativist, then he would have to say that Moses, Jesus, Gandhi, and M.L. King Jr. were all immoral people. Why? Because according to moral relativists, morality is socially constructed and these men all went against their society’s prescribed morality. They were all moral reformers.
Of course Allen could say he is not a social moral relativist, but rather an individual moral relativist, thus agreeing with the moral improvement these men made. But he cannot say their moral improvement is true. Rather, it’s just his preference of taste – no different than choosing vanilla ice cream over chocolate. Why? Because, again, there is no objective truth of the matter – morality is relative to the individual (or society). 
Is he sure he wants to go around saying that torturing babies for fun and Nazis murdering Jews are not objectively wrong? Does he want to say Moses, Jesus, Gandhi, and Rev. King Jr. are all immoral people?
Can he tolerate someone who takes whatever value or principle he holds dear to and have it made relative?
I hope this article can convince him of the many bullets a moral relativist is going to have to bite and the many difficult pills they will have to swallow. Such is the price moral relativists (not application relativism) have to pay by denying the existence of OMV.     
(ED. NOTE: Osmundsen, a Lower Township native, is a graduate student and teaching assistant (philosophy) at Biola University, in La Mirada, Calif. He writes from there.)
 

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