Is that Jim Crow I Hear Cawing?

Credit: Steve Benson/The Republic

Credit: Steve Benson/The Republic

I’ve often pondered if people in our country are actually more stupid than they were years ago.  You would think that with all the advances in technology, education, you name it, we would get a bit smarter over time or if nothing else at least a little less ignorant.  When it comes down to it I expect the percentages of smart vs not-smart haven’t necessarily changed a great deal – despite the opportunities for people to learn and experience more given great strides in education and the advances we all experience in technology.  I think part of it is just that there are a lot more people overall and there just seem to be a lot more stupid people walking around.  I think the other thing that has happened is there are many more opportunities for people to demonstrate the breadth and depth of their stupidity and/or ignorance so many who in the past might have gone unnoticed are now out in the open.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

And for those of you of more a religious persuasion –

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” – Proverbs 17:28

Arizona Legislators in Session

Arizona Legislators in Session

In the broader sense, the issue of gay rights is one of the opportunities for people to show their stupid and ignorant side.   The latest example is the current legislation that has passed in Arizona that allows business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays.  In fairness to Arizona, they are not alone in their efforts to return their state to “better times” when the various Jim Crow laws legitimized discrimination and prejudice and worked very effectively to limit the rights of people in our country whom were not of the same mindset or belief system.  Similar religious protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma – not really a surprise given not one of these states is ever recognized for progressive thinking.   Here again, under the guise of religion, we have a situation where one works to justify a horrid and what will eventually be recognized as illegal legislation.  The fact that the element of discrimination is entirely ignored by the legislators in Arizona is something I just don’t get although I do believe that religion can be mind-numbing when put in the hands of people who probably don’t think for themselves anyhow.   So it all comes down to Gov. Jan Brewer and her next move.

Someone should have mentioned SPF30...

Someone should have mentioned SPF30…

Do we trust Brewer will do the right thing and veto this law?  Remember this is the same woman who felt it appropriate to derisively wag her bony finger at President Obama on the tarmac during a visit to Arizona and who was too busy to attend a Governor’s dinner at the White House.  This is also the same woman who eliminated the Arizona KidsCare progam which provided healthcare to uninsured children and stopped Medicaid payments for transplants.  She loves guns and hates immigrants. This is the woman who in 2012 signed a law that barred state funding from going to any organization that provides abortion services. This meant that Planned Parenthood, which doesn’t use state money for abortions, was be deprived of funds they would have used to provide all manner of sexual health services, including services used by victims of sexual assault.  Bad enough on its own but when one considers that her son, Ronald, has been a patient at the state mental hospital for the last 20+ years after he was found not guilty of kidnap and sexual assault by reason of insanity.  In 1989, Ronald Brewer allegedly broke into a woman’s apartment, slapped her several times, and committed sex acts on her. After his 1990 indictment, his mother claimed that Ronald had “decompensated,” a psychiatric defense which means that although he’d been functioning normally before the attack, his state deteriorated. His lawyers argued that Ronald didn’t know, at the time, that what he was doing was wrong, and a judge agreed, committing Ronald indefinitely to the state’s hospital, where he still lives although he is free to leave with staff or with his parents.  Even more interesting is that in the days before Jan Brewer was sworn in as the state’s governor in 2009, Ronald’s criminal records were sealed – his case being only four out of 40,000 total criminal cases that were sealed in Maricopa County in Arizona in 2009.   She is the Tin Man – the epitome of a 2014 Tea Party Republican – a self-serving, do as I say not as I do, hate-mongering homophobe.

At least they were able to sit and get service....

At least they were able to sit and get service….

To allow this Arizona legislation to go forward brings us back to a time of which we should all be ashamed – but unfortunately only some of us are.  Religious Freedom my ass.

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Wrapping up the Year – Phil Robertson and A&E

I thought I would take a moment and walk back thru the various topics and events I took time to blog about over the last year.  To be honest, in re-reading some of my posts I was, if nothing else, rather wordy but if I keep in mind that my original intent of this blog was to look for some means of catharsis, I’m not surprised at the brain dumps I’ve shared.  In looking back I managed to hit a broad set of subjects from gun control (coming into 2013 on the heels of Newtown, CT) to the Presidential primaries and the election to a good amount of time on the current state of the country as it relates to where we are in the LGBT discussion.  Overall, I’d say the year was more good than bad as we managed to keep the Republicans out of the White House and the country actually moved ahead in a positive manner when it came to rights of members of the LGBT community.  Not only are the majority of Americans supportive of gay rights, we now have I believe 18 states where gays can legally marry – quite an increase from where we started the year.  Top this with the defeat of DOMA and overall not bad although the journey ahead is still long and will be painful.

Sadly though, we have actually taken steps backwards when it comes to gun control and the violence and death that inevitably links itself to owning a gun.  One does have to wonder why is is so easy to quickly forget the people innocently massacred this past year by people who are obviously able to legally obtain weapons when in most cases they probably shouldn’t be walking the streets among the rest of us.  No doubt this will be a topic of future posts as I expect there will be numerous incidents in the coming year where the idiocy of our fascination with guns and the right to kill will result in more death and mayhem.

credit to: StickerGiant.com Inc.

credit to: StickerGiant.com Inc.

But as my last post of 2013, I thought I’d stay with a topic I’ve commented on numerous times this past year.  And in this case I get to wrap up a number of my rants into one situation – that of Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty and the recent attention he has received given his ongoing display of bigotry and ignorance.  I won’t spend too much time on his comments about how happy black citizens were in 50’s and 60’s in his home state of Louisiana but just that professed opinion (which I have no doubt he actually believes) pretty much defines Robertson for what he is.  When we look at his homophobic view of gays and his justification thru religion and the bible, I again froth at the mouth at the obvious schizophrenic nature of many who profess to be followers of Jesus and his ways but yet preach hate and intolerance.  In the case of Robertson, like many “born again” Christians, we have people who were pretty much shits and lowlifes who all of a sudden become good people and all is forgotten because they found God.  Pretty convenient and quite the means for Phil to become a patriarch who can stand up and profess more knowledge and wisdom on how others should lead their lives.  Lest we not forget that Phil had quite the struggle with alcohol, ran into issues with the law based on his inability to control himself and managed to actually abandon his wife and 3 kids early in their marriage.  Even his shallow-thinking wife, Kay, admitted that he was running around on her during that time – but, nice excuse, it wasn’t really Phil, it was the devil.  Where is Flip Wilson when you need him.  For those who feel that Robertson has it figured out I do point them to reasonably recent comments he made on marriage and the benefits of marrying when the girl is still around 16 or 17 because once they hit their twenties, all they want is to pick your pockets.  Wow, pretty enlightened.  But again, I forget we are talking about Louisiana whose primary contribution to society has been muskrat stew and levees.

Phil_Robertson_football_throwing

Pre-Jesus Phil

I’ll admit, I’ve watched Duck Dynasty quite regularly and despite the religious overtones, the right-wing attitudes and the crap coming out of Phil’s mouth,  I did stay tuned given the entertainment value – nothing I haven’t had to tolerate in just normal day-to-day living.  To be honest, most of us know this was mostly schtick made up for the camera.  It wasn’t that long ago that none of the Robertsons had beards.  When the comments Robertson made in GQ came out and A&E initially suspended Robertson, I did take the time to let A&E know I supported their decision.  I guess I was in the minority as A&E has since managed to retreat from their position and reinstate Phil just in time for the filming of the next season.  In hindsight how stupid was I to think that A&E wouldn’t whore themselves out as soon as the dollars became the focus – in actuality that is what almost every decision in today’s world is really about.

DuckDynasty_not

So to follow a theme I’ve set in previous blogs, those of us who are somewhat educated and actually believe in human rights can speak equally loud on the reversal of A&E’s stance on Robertson by making it clear where we are spending our time and money.  If we don’t watch Duck Dynasty, that potentially drops advertising revenue.  I will not watch it again.  This is again an opportunity where we need to speak up and make it clear that there are some beliefs we can’t support.  And it’s not about Free Speech and First Amendment rights – nice try – you can all say anything you want – it’s just that the rest of the world has equal right to say what they won’t accept or support.  To stay on a theme – Most importantly we can speak thru our wallets.

A&E_not

LGBT Equality In the Workplace – 2013

Back in the June 2012 timeframe, I posted several blogs referencing the position companies in America have taken regarding the rights of the LGBT community as reflected in their corporate or company policies.  For anyone following the issues – political, legal, social, whatever – faced by this community over the past year, there has been some real positive change achieved – key events I’ve also tried to capture as they happen in my blogs.  While there has been a good deal of positive movement forward it is unfortunate we still have the haters and bigoted core of people who see their mission to ensure that anyone different – in most ways – from themselves be held to the same rules of life they profess to hold – not necessarily live by but at least say the words.  My view on these people need not be repeated in this particular blog as it is very evident in most of what I have written – basically a pox on these dim-witted and heartless cretins.  Sorry – I digress.

But with all the progress I think we’ve seen this past year, we can’t forget we still need to get the message out where we can actually influence.  While I don’t expect to ever change their views – it takes an active mind and ability for them to think and reason – I still submit the best approach is in what remains the greatest lever we have as a country – hit them in their pocketbooks.  We all have the opportunity to choose where we spend our money – or where we don’t spend it.  The HRC or Human Rights Campaign Foundation provides us an ongoing view of how Corporate America takes account of equality across our people, particularly in terms of how the workplace approaches Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality.  Every year they publish their Corporate Equality Index (CEI) and the publication for 2013 was recently released.  This is the 11th year of the Index and it has provided a good means to track how we are doing in the Workplace no matter the inequities and bias that remains in the various levels of our government.   There is a wealth of information available in the publication to which I can’t really give justice so I would suggest a visit to their site – http://www.hrc.org/ – or  http://www.hrc.org/corporate-equality-index/#.UozWxOLyQYk  to view or download the actual Corporate Equality Index publication.  While I’m happy to say that the company where I am employed is in that group of Fortune 100 corporations scoring a perfect 100 on the CEI scale, the number of major corporations that remain out there in 2013 that don’t is astounding as well as a disgrace.

Some of the good news:  Despite the reality that people can be legally denied a job or fired simply for their sexual orientation in 29 states and their gender identity in 34, Corporations in America have ignored antiquated and biased legislation to provide these protections in their company.  From the report – “For the first time in history, a majority of the Fortune 500 offers both sexual orientation and gender identity protections. Beyond these basic and essential protections, record numbers of Fortune-ranked and other major businesses have comprehensively updated their benefits packages to ensure that newcomers to their workplaces can expect both partner benefits and transgender-inclusive benefits and that retiring LGBT workers will see the financial benefits that they have worked so hard to accrue will go to their surviving family members.”

STATEWIDE EMPLOYMENT LAWS AND POLICIES - From HRC.com

From HRC.com

The bad news is that there are still many corporations and companies who remain staunchly opposed to equality in this space.  The HRC site has a great tool that should help you decide where you might want to open your wallet and more importantly where not.  Their “Buyer’s Guide” is located at http://www.hrc.org/apps/buyersguide/index.php#.UozaNeLyQYk.   Here you can view, by shopping category, those companies which excel in workplace equality as well as those companies where progress has been essentially non-existent.  To help us when we are on the go, they actually have an Iphone application for anyone with mobile Apple devices.  For other mobile platforms (Android, Windows 8) they offer the ability to access the data from any mobile phone by just texting SHOP and the company or product name to 30644.

While I have had some insight into the companies I don’t want to buy from, in reviewing the information across the categories in the Buyer’s Guide I was astounded by some of the companies that remain in the social dark ages.  I’m sad to say that a good number of my purchases have been from companies in the list below – just one example of the information in the Guide – it includes the Company, their brands, their overall CEI rating (Green, Amber, Red) and their actual CEI score.  Guess I won’t be purchasing that Rolex any time soon…..

I wish I could easily provide all the data but it is just too extensive but I would suggest you at least take a quick stop at one of the links I’ve indicated above and become a more informed consumer and shopper.  We’ve all been made aware of the companies that extensively use sweat shops and basically slave labor to provide their products from overseas (hello, Walmart?) – maybe we need to be a bit more discerning of how companies that do business on our own shores treat our sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, friends, whatever – your choice of whose success you want to support.  Is it possible to stop shopping at all the sub-par companies? Probably not unfortunately given the wide expanse of ones we all typically shop at but, to quote Chinese philosopher Laozi – “The longest journey begins with the first step”.

NOTE: The following copied directly from the HRC Buyer’s Guide

Apparel & Accessories

Business Rating Rank
Abercrombie & Fitch  abercrombie kids; Gilly Hicks; Hollister; 100
Gap  Athleta; babyGap; Banana Republic; GapBody; GapKids; Old Navy; Piperlime; 100
Levi Strauss  Denizen; Dockers; Levi’s; Signature by Levi Strauss & Co.; 100
Limited Brands  Henri Bendel; La Senza; Pink; Victoria’s Secret; 100
Nike  Cole Haan; Converse; Hurley; NIKE Golf; Umbro; 100
Nordstrom  1901; Calibrate; Classiques Entier; Halogen; HauteLook; Jeffrey; Last Chance; Nordstrom Direct; Nordstrom Rack; Public Opinion; Trouvé; Zella; 100
Sears  Apostrophe; Canyon River Blues; Covington; Jaclyn Smith; Joe Boxer; Lands’ End; Structure; 100
Target  C9 by Champion; Cherokee; Circo; Gilligan & O’Malley; Honors; In Due Time; Liz Lange; Merona; Mossimo; Nick & Nora; Utility; Xhilaration; 100
TJX  HomeGoods; Marshalls; T.J.Maxx; 100
A|X Armani Exchange  95
American Eagle  77kids; aerie; 95
J.C. Penney  a.n.a; Ambrielle; American Living; Arizona; Arizona Jean Co.; cooks; Decree; east5th; Every Day Matters; J. Ferrar; Linden Street; Okie Dokie; St. John’s Bay; Stafford; Studio; Worthington; 95
Bon-Ton Stores  Bergner’s; Boston Store; Carson Pirie Scott; Elder-Beerman; Herberger’s; Younkers; 90
Kenneth Cole  Gentle Souls; Kenneth Cole New York; Kenneth Cole Reaction; Le Tigre; Unlisted; 90
Macy’s  Alfani; American Rag; Bar III; Bloomingdale’s; Charter Club; Club Room; Epic Threads; First Impressions; Giani Bernini; Greendog; I.N.C.; Jenni by Jennifer Moore; JM Collection; Martha Stewart Collection; Style & Co.; Tasso Elba; 90
Ralph Lauren  Chaps; Club Monaco; Denim & Supply; Lauren; Lauren Jeans Co.; Ralph Lauren Black Label; Ralph Lauren Childrenswear; Ralph Lauren Collection; Ralph Lauren Golf; Ralph Lauren Purple Label; RLX; RRL; Rugby; 90
REI  Novara; REI Private Brands; 90
Tiffany & Co.  90
Fifth & Pacific  Juicy Couture; kate spade; Lucky Brand Jeans; Mac & Jac; 85
A�ropostale  P.S. from Aéropostale; 75
Coach  Reed Krakoff; 75
Hanover Direct  International Male; Silhouettes; UnderGear; 70
The Jones Group  Anne Klein; Bandolino; Easy Spirit; Enzo Angiolini; Evan-Picone; Gloria Vanderbilt; Joan & David; Jones New York; Judith Jack; Kasper; l.e.i; Le Suit; Mootsies Tootsies; Napier; Nine West; Rachel Roy; Sam & Libby; 70
L.L. Bean  65
Burlington Coat Factory  Cohoes; MJM Designer Shoes; 60
Hanesbrands  Bali; Barely There; Champion; Duofold; Gear for Sports; Hanes; Just My Size; L’eggs; Outer Banks; Playtex; Wonderbra; 60
PVH  Arrow; Bass; Calvin Klein; IZOD; Tommy Hilfiger; Van Heusen; 60
H&M  55
Brown Shoe  Avia; Buster Brown; Dr. Scholl’s Shoes; Famous Footwear; Franco Sarto; Lifestride; Naturalizer; rykä; Sam Edelman; Vera Wang Lavender; Via Spiga; 35
Ann Taylor  LOFT; 30
J. Crew  crewcuts; Madewell; 30
The Men’s Wearhouse  K&G; Twinhill; 30
Adidas  Reebok; Rockport; TaylorMade; 15
Burberry  15
Collective Brands  Airwalk; Keds; Payless ShoeSource; Saucony; Sperry Top-Sider; Stride Rite; 15
Donna Karan  DKNY; 15
Foot Locker  CCS; Champs Sports; Eastbay; Footaction; Kids Foot Locker; Lady Foot Locker; 15
Guess?  G by GUESS; GUESS by Marciano; GUESS kids; 15
Neiman Marcus  Bergdorf Goodman; CUSP; Last Call; 15
Urban Outfitters  Anthropologie; BHLDN; Free People; 15
VF  7 For All Mankind; Bulwark; Eagle Creek; Eastpak; Ella Moss; JanSport; John Varvatos; Kipling; Lee; lucy Activewear; Majestic; Napapijri; Nautica; Red Kap; Reef; Rock & Republic; Seven for all Mankind; SmartWool; Splendid; The North Face; Timberland; Vans; Wrangler Jeans; 15
Warnaco Group  Olga; Warner’s; 15
Berkshire Hathaway  Acme Boot; Fruit of the Loom; Garan; H.H. Brown Shoe Company; JERZEES; Justin Brands; Russell Athletics; Spalding; 0
Cabela’s  0
Chico’s  Boston Proper; Soma; White House/Black Market; 0
Dolce & Gabbana  D&G; 0
Fossil  0
Giorgio Armani  Armani Collezioni; Armani Jeans; Emporio Armani; 0
Gucci  Alexander McQueen; 0
Quiksilver  DC Shoes; Gnu; Hawk; Lib Tech; Radio Fiji; Roxy; 0
Rolex  0
Ross Stores  dd’s DISCOUNTS; 0
Under Armour  0
Versace  0

ENDA – Another National Disgrace for Nation – Boehner and the House

Today, the US Senate passed a bill banning workplace discrimination against LGBT individuals.  What you say?  It has not been illegal to fire people based on the fact they are gay or they are trans-gender?  No, in the United States while no one can can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, they can because of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Of course, most all of the Fortune 500 companies (88%) have policies that cover this but there is no federal law that does.  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is legislation that was proposed for the first time in 1994 in the United States Congress.  It prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.  When I first read about this law I, like many, was surprised that we don’t have this law on the books already.  In fact, there are 29 states where it is perfectly legal to terminate the employment of an individual who may be gay or transgender. The reality is that it is legal to fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation in 29 states. For those who are transgender they can be fired or denied employment solely based on their gender identity in 33 states.  Take a look at the map – won’t be real surprising which states but that is a whole other topic.   Pretty astounding when you think about it that in 2013, more than five decades after passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act and then subsequent passage of the American Disabilities Act, we still have a country where this can happen.  To be honest, this is one of those “duh” moments where you wouldn’t think there should be even a question – not like I’m forcing you to take healthcare.  But we have a couple of key problems we need to cover as we look at why this has been taking so long and why, given the stance taken by those broad and deep thinkers in the US House – John Boehner in particular.

capenda

Credit: HRC.org

The arguments justifying this continued discrimination are several:

First, of course is the idea that it is okay to discriminate if something goes against the tenets of your so-called religion.  One of the core objections against ENDA bases itself in the religious right and flails around with the oft-cited “religious freedom” banner.  That too has been the rallying call behind the forces that have tried to stop many other causes that have come about to right the wrongs many of our citizens have endured over the years.  I read it as “I should be able to discriminate against anyone and anything that doesn’t fit into my set of beliefs” – which of course makes sense because they are right and there are no other belief systems with any merit.  But try to challenge their rights in any manner and listen to the cries of discrimination.  They feel that this legislation affords special protection to a group that is not disadvantaged so it isn’t really an issue of discrimination.  I don’t know but when I look around and see the second class citizen status these people have been pushed into, seems a bit disadvantaged to me.  For anyone reading my blogs with any consistency, you will know I have little regard or time for those who profess religious base and demand special rights but don’t see the same rights for others and have no issue refusing to acknowledge that their view of the world, which might work for them, might not work for anyone else.   See how far I would get if I, as an atheist, decided not to hire anyone who believed in a God because it somehow appalls me.  Not sure that would fly.  Of course, the immediate response would be that I couldn’t do that because you can’t discriminate against an individual based on their belief in a God.  But believing in a God doesn’t fit into my belief framework around religion.  Where’s my religious freedom?  Again. ridiculous argument on one level but not sure where it is that different – mostly because reality and what is “real” as far as beliefs and what fits and doesn’t fit is in the eye of the beholder.  And in the case of these religious zealots, the eyes seem pretty well closed.  And, oh by the way, while I strongly disagree it since we are still allowing discrimination, religious organizations are provided an exception from this protection, similar to that found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  So you already have your cake – you don’t need to eat it too.  We don’t have to live as you do (well, not that most of you really live what you speak – again, a whole other topic).

credit: http://www.believeoutloud.com

The Hypocrisy of it all
credit: http://www.believeoutloud.com

Now, onto John Boehner, the majority leader of the US House who has consistently demonstrated he doesn’t get that he is there at the will of the people in this country.  He, single-handedly, will keep ENDA from hitting the House floor and therefore will try to ensure we continue to allow states to discriminate.  Now, I happen to think that Johnny B. is somewhat of an asshole.  Okay maybe not somewhat but entirely.  Anyone who can effectively allow our government to shut down and bring us to the brink of default seems to have some flaws in leadership capability and really doesn’t get any points for style.  But I digress.  In the case of ENDA we see his opposition is really about jobs and the economy.  His spokesman, Michael Steel said the bill “will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs.”   Anyone seeing a pattern here.  I think he has one page of talking points and it is “one size fits all”.  Aside from helping continue the Republican death march they started with the shutdown last month, this stance continues to play politics with our citizens and their rights.  Not sure I understand the frivolous litigation other than the reality that we won’t allow businesses to discriminate in this area and we are protecting the rights of real people – doesn’t sound frivolous.  Also easy to fix – don’t discriminate.  I don’t know what you can do about Johnny boy here other than hope that the cigarettes and tanning booths actually take an early toll.  In the meantime, I do have to wonder what skeletons he has in his closet – he doth protest too much.

Maybe John has a small secret?

Maybe John has a small secret?

So why did this particular item lead me to a blog?  Despite the rant and the throwing of my usual rocks, I hope this one is a little educational.  I pride myself on being up on most things but was taken entirely by surprise on the issue behind ENDA.  This is a national embarrassment that needs to be rectified as soon as we can.  If it be by election (hopefully it won’t take that long) then we need to inform.

Okay, last surprise – Fox News didn’t see ENDA as a news-worthy item as it advanced toward the Senate vote today – and of the 4 minutes of coverage it got, two minutes was spent discussing how ENDA was a planned distraction to take attention away from coverage of Obamacare.

credit: mediamatters.org

credit: mediamatters.org

You mean Racism is still a problem?

Talk of the news stations last night and all the Sunday morning new shows this morning was unsurprisingly the “Not Guilty” verdict from the Zimmerman trial.  Like any trial with this much attention, the final verdict elicits a variety of responses that cover every gamut of the situation – whether legal, social, racial, etc.  To be honest, while I believe the situation to be a travesty – when a young life is lost it can’t be anything but that.  However, my biggest surprise was that it appeared the jury actually maintained a purely legal perspective and decision, not that Zimmerman was found Not Guilty.  Given the law in Florida and the points of consideration that should have been the focus, the outcome was not a surprise.  Sorry, the trial and it’s outcome isn’t really about the problem that a black child can’t get a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea without being concerned about being shot – despite the number of predominantly black panelists that made that the point of order this morning.  That argument isn’t going to bring anybody in this country closer to being open-minded and accepting.    Yes, a travesty and tragedy that speaks volumes of how we treat each other but it will not be fixed in the courtroom other than from a legal perspective.

That being said, there are obviously many more issues and factors in play here.  I was astonished with the number of panelists on news shows this morning that raise the specter that racism exists in this country.  Really?  I didn’t even think that was the elephant in the room.  I must have missed the announcement that we as a country have overcome bigotry.  I say bigotry because this problem challenging us is bigger than racism as the problem is bigger than the color of one’s skin.  In any case I would submit the first step, if we are to make any progress on the issues of how blacks are viewed and treated (a reality), we need to move from one case like this.  Turning the results and reactions to a specific trial into the rallying call or headline of actions is a risky and often “one step forward and two steps back” approach.  I remind everyone of the OJ Simpson trial and the reactions that followed.

It would seem to me it is more important to look at some of the broader questions and challenges here.

Haven’t heard much about gun control in this case – seems to me to be another poster child for why we shouldn’t just let any one walk around with a firearm.  Sure make the case that if Zimmerman hadn’t left his car, Martin would be alive.  Imagine if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun – he probably wouldn’t have even been out there on his neighborhood watch as this wasn’t a man who appeared to have a lot of extra testosterone – except when buoyed by a weapon.  Sounds familiar to many of our gun loving citizens.

More importantly, I’m going to position a view that will piss off many as it will be received as a statement that somehow attributes responsibility for the death of this young man and the bigotry as a whole back to the black community (or any minority community for that matter) which it does not because my point is really about us as a country and a society and the responsibility we owe to the society we live in.  And my position stands for any segment of our population, no matter the minority we speak to.  If you as a minority want to be treated differently and not be pre-judged, profiled, whatever, then practice what you preach.  Don’t expect that behavior in others if you can’t live it yourself.  In this case I will pick on the black community for one particular reason – the view of the majority of blacks towards the LGBT community is one of almost total intolerance.  I won’t start throwing the data out there but if we look at gay marriage, equal rights under the law, just a view of gays in general, the black community has a rather dismal history of anything approaching acceptance.  On the scale of bigotry, in this area it doesn’t look too good.  Yes, I know all about the religious basis of it all and I’m sure you can rationalize a great deal of it but at the end of it all, it is still bullshit.  I’m met many a racist who has easily found a rationalization for their view.

But until the minority segments of our society can show equal openness and acceptance to the LGBT community that matches what they want, expect and demand for themselves, my words to you are pretty much get ready for more of the same – it is unfair, it is unacceptable and it is horrific but if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  Ye Reap what Ye Sow.  Karma’s a bitch.

Yep, we’ve got quite a journey ahead.

Let’s call stupid and bigotry what it really is….

credit: classwarfareexists.com

credit: classwarfareexists.com

 

Point of today – actually two points – we are who we follow and let’s do a better job of calling bullshit when we see it.

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” – Pat Robertson

It is obvious I have issues with religion and those who unabashedly profess to be leaders of the masses – many of whom are actually more bigoted, unforgiving, selfish and most everything anti what I was always taught the teachings of the bible are about – one person you won’t see with a WWJD bracelet on is Pat Robertson.  I won’t go into much detail about his first son being born out of wedlock (do what I say, not what I do) or his repeated misogynistic stances regarding women and their place with men (essentially men cheat because their wife doesn’t take care of them as they should) as that would take too much time and space for today.  I happened to be channel surfing and stopped on the 700 Club – not a usual stop but given the SCOTUS decision on DOMA this week, I thought there might be some reaction from Pat.  I was not disappointed as my timing was right on.  He was discussing the issue with Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ, a right-wing, pro-life group that focuses on constitutional and human rights law worldwide (as they define them).  Just for context, Sekulow is also a regular on Fox News.  As expected, the discussion was obviously on the horrible decision made by the court but where did Robertson immediately go? His first question was whether Sekulow had any insight into whether Justice Kennedy had any homosexual law clerks.  He followed it up with a derisive comment on the judge in California who had declared Prop 8 to be unconstitutional, immediately leading the discussion to his understanding that the judge was in fact himself a homosexual.  So no discussion on human rights, equality under the law or anything else other than a view that all these decisions were no doubt just self-serving actions – something I expect that Robertson knows quite a bit about.   What a piece of shit – and well representative of all those who support him and his extravagant lifestyle.  But he is consistent on one level – he pretty much holds both gays and women to the same level of contempt.

“The reason that we fought the [American] Revolution in the 16th century — was to get away from that kind of onerous crown, if you will.” —Rick Perry

I also caught a brief news clip on that illustrious governor of Texas – Rick Perry – another shining example that if you’re from Texas, you don’t have to be very smart to get elected to a high office.  While much of the country was giving high kudos to Sen. Wendy Davis who held up the vote on more limitations on abortion and women’s rights in Texas, Perry was quick to play the “man” hand and pretty much dismissing her accomplishments (not sure Rick could even spell “HARVARD”) and bring it down to some stupid comment on learning from her mothers’ decision not to abort her and therefore reversing her stance on abortion rights.  Key word – “rights”.  Heaven forbid anyone traipse on their religious “rights”.  It was also rather revealing that during Sen. Davis’ filibuster, it was only the men in the room who work to thwart her effort.  Another situation where men work their hardest to control what women do.

So, a quick take away from these two seemingly separate items.  It is really about women and how they decide to deal with all these idiot men.  These people in power only maintain their position if women support them.  Probably a little less influence over Robertson but maybe not quite as much an issue.  At 83 years old, we can only hope he gets to meet his maker before long – and assuming I’m wrong in my lack of belief in God, he gets to explain himself to the big guy.

As far as Rick Perry, one can only hope that the women in Texas begin to understand his concern is not for women and he is willing and able to work against the rights due all women.  In the meantime, I’ll stay thankful none of us live in Texas and the women in my life can still think for themselves.

credit: moveon.org

credit: moveon.org

Another take on the DOMA decision was made this morning on Face the Nation this morning with Bob Sheiffer.  Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, an American conservative Christian group and lobbying organization shared one of the horrific impacts of the decision.  Let’s put the Family Research Council in some appropriate perspective here – In 2010, the FRC paid $25,000 to congressional lobbyists for what they described as “Res.1064 Ugandan Resolution Pro-homosexual promotion” in a lobbying disclosure report.  The US House of Representatives, in a moment of rationale thought,  passed the resolution condemned the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a bill which, among other things, would have imposed either the death penalty or life imprisonment for sexual relations between persons of the same sex.  Let’s make sure we recognize what kind of christian organization we are talking about here. 

credit: back2stonewall.com

credit: back2stonewall.com

In any case, back to Tony.  He was very concerned of the impact on bakers, photographer and florists who would inevitably lose their religious freedom by being forced to do work with gay couples looking to get married. He in fact indicated that there were already a great number of court cases in play and there were instances where these business people were being forced to sell services to gay couples.  It did take Schieffer a moment to clear the incredulous look off his face as he forced what was essentially a “Really?” out of his mouth.  Tony was firm in his view that when people realize this sort of impact is inevitable, the tide will turn, people will regain their senses and all will be right with the world again.   Can’t say that was an impact that I was really worried about.

There is Hope….

Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

 

While I expect the bigoted rhetoric and draconian attitudes of the ever-shrinking minority will continue (and even get more intense as they realize they are losing), we have hope that times are changing and that equal protection under the law is a reality that cannot be put down.  This is about human dignity and equality for all – a concept still foreign to many in this country.  A simple concept that even the dumbest among us should be able to understand – if we can discriminate against one group, we can discriminate against all.

With this one decision, the future, at least for my son and our family, is a bit rosier and more welcoming.

Last comment – is it at all surprising that Scalia and Thomas were against it – both individuals who if they look back into relatively recent history and given their race and ethnicity, should realize how discrimination works and how it feels.  Perfect example of how that side of our society works – the rules are there for everyone but me.

California Prop 8 – the next monstrosity to come down.

The march continues…..

 

 

Consistency with Integrity – MIA

Just recently we had Jason Collins, NBA player reveal to the world he is gay.  The struggle this man had with life up to this point in time was obvious if you pay any attention at all.  In a testosterone driven business – sports in general – this is a brave man.  Not surprising, with little time to spare, we have one Chris Broussard,  sports analyst for ESPN and also a columnist for ESPN Magazine and ESPN.com, takes to the airways and during a segment on “Outside the Lines” a show discussing Mr. Collin’s and his decision to come out, decides it is the perfect time to express his personal beliefs.  He goes on to say “Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly … like premarital sex between heterosexuals.  If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says ‘you know them by their fruits.’ It says that, you know, that’s a sin.” He goes on to say “I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is…. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be… that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”  He follows up in a later interview with an equally open-minded statement – one where he still sees hope for anyone who is gay – and he even admits he has a friend that is gay – “And if you stumble and fall, then you get back up, you repent and ask God for forgiveness, and you move on,” he said. “I think that applies to homosexuals as well.”  Okay, the man is entitled to believe whatever he wants – no matter how stunted and bigoted it is.   Using a national Cable TV show to express it seems a bit irrelevant and inappropriate given the topic at hand.   And of course, when confronted by irate viewers, ESPN wasn’t able to really man up and address the level of the issue here – maybe only my read of their released statement being pretty much non-committal and cowardly but I find it an action-less and unacceptable response – “We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.”  Basically, sorry it disrupted the show.  And we have gay friends also.

But this isn’t really the problem here.  We have all encountered this prejudice and bible-thumping rhetoric at every stage of the game.  I think the bigger problem is really in the rest of the statement made by Broussard – let’s pay some attention to the “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be” being a sin, then I don’t understand why Broussard hasn’t made it a focus to call out the rest of the NBA players who have obviously dabbled in those other areas of sin.  I have to wonder if he took on Kobe Bryant when he decided adultery was ok – I think not.  Not that I would know (or even really care) but do we really believe that Broussard never fornicated or had sex outside of marriage?  Maybe Broussard was able to maintain his celibacy not only thru college but for another 5 years after college until he got married but really?  Bottom line is I’m tired of all these people standing behind the façade of religion the teachings of the bible and then living life as they wish, basically screwing whoever – literally and figuratively – when the occasion or opportunity arises.   It is really time that people stop being sheep and start calling these people out – repercussions are a bitch and it is time we, as a society, make it clear you can’t say one thing and do another.

CHRIS-BROUSSARD

Again, maybe Mr. Broussard has lived an exemplary life and lives what he preaches – I still remind him that without the progress around diversity and inclusiveness this country has realized over the past decades, maybe he wouldn’t be able to share the same public bathroom with me or drink from the same water fountain.

And to ESPN  – get some balls.

William Shockley…in another Flavor?

Maybe it is Brain surgery...

Maybe it is Brain surgery…

Interesting paths that some individuals take to relative notoriety.  Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital, has made the rounds as of recent from addressing President and Mrs. Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C to wowing the crowds at CPAC.  Hard not to make a splash at CPAC when you take an obviously successful black man who is Republican and have him attack Obama policies…but again, he was preaching to the choir, so to speak.  Apparently quite the Christian also.  But just when you have an new face in the Republican camp who is all of a sudden being talked about as the next best thing next to sliced bread who will be a leading contender for the 2016 Republican amazing race, it becomes obvious they left the bread in the toaster a little too long.  The good Dr. choose poorly and joined Sean Hannity on Fox News and again, quickly provided evidence of why the Republicans are where they are and why many even within the party are shaking their heads in wonderment.  If you missed it, the exchange basically was as follows:

HANNITY: All right, last question, we have the issue of the Supreme Court dealing with two issues involving gay marriage. I’ve asked you a lot of questions. I’ve never asked you that, what are your thoughts?

CARSON: Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition. So he, it’s not something that is against gays, it’s against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications.

Huh?  You’ve got to be kidding – say what?  Brain surgeon?

So here we have someone who is apparently an esteemed surgeon (questionable) who equates gays with pedophiles and people into bestiality.  Excuse me?  I wouldn’t let this guy near my brain if it was leaking out all over the floor.  I guess the good news is we can really see what this guy is made of and where his values lie.  Reach a little further back into his views and you get that which is the hallmark of these conservatives and right-wing nut jobs – “I can tell you what to do and how to live but don’t try to do that to me.”

In his book America the Beautiful, he shares the following view:
“I have no problem whatsoever with allowing gay people to live as they please, as long as they don’t try to impose their lifestyle on everyone else. Marriage is a very sacred institution and should not be degraded by allowing every other type of relationship to be made equivalent to it.”

Interesting point I must have missed – I didn’t realize the gays were trying to “impose” their lifestyle on everyone else.  I might be a little slow but I still don’t get how gay marriage somehow changes marriage between a man and a women.  Is this anything like gay teachers trying to convert children to their lifestyle?  In all honesty, in looking around at the state of most heterosexual marriages, one might be able to easily make the case that it needs a little help or change.
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So again we have someone who gets a great deal of attention as a conservative who manages to step wholeheartedly into the pit of ignorance by demonstrating not only an opinion that most in this country would obviously abhor (at least if they are younger than 40 years old if we go by polls) but also the stupidity to say it aloud so there is no room for error when someone looking and listening to him tries to figure out if this is someone to whom they can relate as a person.  I guess the net result of the comments made in this last election cycle by the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Murdoch (and even the 47% speech by Romney) hasn’t made much of an impression on some in the party.
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What I might suggest to the good Dr. here is a quick review of the position taken not all that long ago by another Republican. William Shockley.  William Shockley won the Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor, founded Silicon Valley, was a virulent racist, and donated sperm to a sperm bank for the super intelligent.  So on one hand a rather accomplished physicist and inventor.  On another hand, he managed to pretty much put it all out there with his views of blacks.  While teaching at Stanford he became intrigued by racial questions and population control, and began publicly claiming that blacks are less intelligent than whites, by genetics and heredity.  Shockley believed that the higher rate of reproduction among the less intelligent was having a dysgenic effect, and that a drop in average intelligence would ultimately lead to a decline in civilization.  When asked if his views amounted to racism, he famously answered “If you found a breed of dog that was unreliable and temperamental, why shouldn’t you regard it in a less favorable light?”
William Shockley showing off his latest invention - Siamese Tea Cups

William Shockley showing off his latest invention – Siamese Tea Cups

So, I ask Dr. Ben how different his views of gays as equals to the rest of us are from how Shockley viewed blacks a few decades ago.  Looks like some haven’t learned much about how it feels to be looked as inferior.   And these are supposedly the “smart’ ones.  I might suggest that Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus consider reprinting the latest Republican Manifesto so maybe a wider population can “get it”.
                                                                                                                                            RNC Growth                                                 growthRNC

Time to get off the Religious Bandwagon

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

With all eyes on the Supreme Court today with what will eventually be an historic ruling and leap forward, I still find it amazing the people who stand against what is an obvious (to some of us) civil right for our LGBT citizens.  It remains tiring and disheartening that I needed to have the conversation with my son today to not let this ongoing crap and the ignorant comments get to him as it is really just a matter of time as law catches up with where the majority in our country are going with gay rights and gay marriage.    Yes, it might not be this time around where we get it right but it is inevitable.  What is just and what is right will prevail.  We have time on our side as many of the naysayer’s are of that “Greatest Generation” and they will not die off soon enough.  Giving them that honor (Tom Brokow – you are undoubtedly an asshole) just because they served in WWII managed to dismiss the fact that they have been one of the most bigoted, most selfish and most self-entitled generation this nation has ever seen.  But I digress – we still have all the other bible thumpers – most of whom are religious in name only and then only when it serves their personal need.  These are also people who hide their prejudice behind some crap out of the bible – a novel from the hands of pure mortals at best.  I might have a little more respect if these same people actually lived their life based on the purported beliefs but these are the same people who make up the 41% of people in marriages that admit to infidelity or the 57% of men and 51% of women who admit the same (and these are just the ones who admit it).  If the bible is your only course of pushback to gay marriage, your platform is rapidly shrinking and will likely catch up to your brain shortly.

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

But again I digress.  I’m thinking that maybe it is time to take this same approach these anti-gay people are taking and start to apply it to other human traits/characteristics/whatever you want to call it but basically aspects of being a person that you really have no control over and were likely pretty much born with – yes, pretty much like those people who are gay ( and it you still believe it’s a choice, it is time to take that gun you are so afraid is going to be taken from you and do us a big favor and move ahead with an unassisted suicide event.)

Let’s look at a few of the options.

Intelligence – Maybe we need to start looking at people’s IQ as a means of differentiation and begin to allocate access to things based on level of intelligence.  Maybe if your IQ is under 120, you should be limited in access to certain societal institutions – like access to college or maybe even high school if you’re too far down that IQ scale.  Maybe we should limit the jobs available to these dumbbells as our economy as an institution is one we should be protecting from those who contribute little.  You can still get married but only to other people of lower IQ but I think we might want to limit your ability to have a baby as if you aren’t able to really add to the family as an institution in a positive sense, maybe a limit is in order.   Not sure you should be able to drive a car – I don’t think I need to elaborate on the benefit of that direction – have you been out there on the road recently?

Attractiveness – We could look at how attractive people are and limit certain access based on where they are on the ugly scale.  We could actually memorialize height and weight as a differentiator.  As I understand it there are many clubs that ugly people already can’t get into.   There are other aspects of this that exist already so this one is already underway.

Statistic Verification
Source: American Psychological Association, Smart Money, Princeton University
Research Date: 11.27.2012
Attractive People Success Statistics Data
Percent chance an attractive person will receive a callback after an interview 72.32 %
Percent chance an unattractive person will receive a callback after an interview 62.02 %
Percent more that attractive workers earn than unattractive 10 %
Average lifetime earning difference $230,000
Average salary for people with low self-esteem $50,323
Average salary for people with high self-esteem $78,927
Average salary for someone who was 6’0″ at age 18 $51,880
Average salary for someone who was 5’1″ at age 18 $40,000
Percent of salary increase with each standard deviation increase in facial symmetry 8%

I won’t belabor the points here but at some level this is all wrong.  And it seems stupid when you put it on paper but yet it is not all that different.  Discrimination is wrong no matter the justification or rationalization.  It is not up to any one individual or group to limit the access a person has to that society has to offer or to impede their ability to live a life equal to the rest of us based on their own personal beliefs.  I’ve said it before and I don’t know how people don’t see it (maybe it’s the intelligence factor cited above) but just because you believe something and choose to live your life a certain way doesn’t give you the right to force that on everyone else. I do wonder what you are really scared of because that is the only thing that explains this unthinking and unfeeling behavior.   Your justification, usually based on some religious doctrine or belief, doesn’t hold water into society today.  We don’t all want to follow your God (and most of you really don’t anyhow) and we don’t want your rules to be our rules.  I don’t force my ways or beliefs on you – I might think you are stupid or an asshole – but I’m not asking you to do it my way.  And don’t limit my son’s ability to live and enjoy life to its fullest.  When you do I don’t just think you are stupid or an asshole – you have removed all doubt.