Monday, August 10, 2015

In Defense of #BlackLivesMatter

 Photo by Gage Skidmore  Some rights reserved
There was a lot of hub bub with the disruption at the Bernie Sanders rally by BLM protesters. I have variety of feelings about this, and I'm not sure they are all easy to convey, but I am going to try.

I think the two women who disrupted the rally in the name of BLM chose their venue poorly. Why take the stage away from Bernie Sanders, who more than likely is your best ally in the presidential race? Why protest to people who, also more than likely, support the BLM cause? It seems like a waste of time, energy and resources.

Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal did a thoughtful editorial on what happened at the event and while I think she makes some good points, I think some of what she says is a little off base. She said the mostly white crowd turned ugly. Yes, I think people in the crowd were feeling many things, anger, disappointment, sure, probably some racism, and I'm sure there was some solidarity, but for her to point out that the crowd was mostly white seems inconsequential. Washington State is 81% white and 4% black. I think no matter what the ratio of white to black, people were going to feel many different things about the protest. White or African American I'm sure some would agree and others would disagree with the protest.

There were many different reasons for the individuals in the crowd to feel the way they did and it wasn't necessarily because they don't believe in the BLM movement. As Jayapal also stated, some were probably annoyed by the disruption, some may have disagreed with the tactics, some were disappointed because after standing in the hot sun all day, they didn't get to hear Sanders speak.

Sanders may have handled the situation poorly; I think that's forgivable. He was caught off guard. The protesters handled their demonstration  haphazardly, as if they didn't have any kind of plan at all. Then to call the entire crowd a bunch of racist supremacists...well, they reduced themselves to that in which they are decrying - racists. I'm one of the most tolerant people I know, and I would have felt highly offended and disrespected had I been there. I probably would have booed them too. If you're going to dismantle an event in that way, how about instead of insulting everyone you try to connect with them and urge them to pull  together as a community to fight injustice. And don't scream at people. And when you've had your say, give the mic back. There were important things that needed to be discussed by Sanders and they affect everyone, including the black lives that matter.

Did the protesters achieve what they set out to do? Maybe. They made people listen. They made people remember Michael Brown and other blacks killed unjustly. But as I said before, I would guess the majority of those in that crowd had already been listening and still remembered Michael Brown,  Eric Garner, John Crawford, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and of course Trayvon Martin, whose death incited the formation of BLM in the first place. I would bet those women were preaching to the choir.

BLM on a national level needs to rally their local chapters and ensure everyone is on the same page with their tactics and goals. What they do and how they represent should be consistent across the board. I know there's some question about the validity of these women actually being part of BLM, but at this point it doesn't matter. They disparaged the movement in many people's eyes resulting in a loss of support of a worthy cause.

All that said, I will still support BLM. I don't think these two women were the best representation of the organization. I think what BLM is doing is important. People need to understand that Black Lives Matter. And yes, all lives matter, but we, as a white people do not face the same challenges as the African American community. If you don't believe that, then you are part of the problem.

I believe BLM's fight needs to keep progressing and that changes need to be made in our criminal justice system, education, and in our communities in so many other ways. I honestly don't know if racism will ever completely go away. It's extremely difficult to eradicate centuries old learned behavior of abuse and oppression. I hope with the emergence of every new generation, the stereotypes, racial profiling and fear of our differences will wane. I hope that little by little people will stop teaching hate and start embracing diversity and exhibiting tolerance. I think we're on the right track, but I do think organizations like Black Lives Matter are important in the fight against social injustice and that they need our support.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Present Day Religious Tyranny

I was going to rant about a bunch of stuff, but this post became very long. So, today I talk about religious tyranny.

The religious right is trying to force Christianity on the rest of the country. How are they doing this? The Religious Freedom Restoration Act for starters. This is not a freedom of religion act. This is an act of discrimination and bigotry disguised as a freedom of religion act. There was only one reason this was put in place: so business owned by Christians could deny services to the LGBT community.

And now republicans in Idaho and trying to get the Bible into schools as a text of History and Science. Complete and utter bullshit! Not everyone believes in the same god. Not everyone, even some Christians believe that the bible is to be taken literally. A book that no one can verify is factual has no place in our school system. A book based on religion has no place being anything more than  a study in literature like Siddhartha or Paradise Lost.

The Pilgrims and Puritans left Europe to be free of religious tyranny. These are the people that founded our country. Do you think they would force their religion on us as the Church of England did to them?

And what about the Revolutionary War? Sure, it wasn't solely based on religion or religious freedoms, but it played a part. People were moved to fight for their freedoms, including their religious freedoms. Thomas Paine had a hand in this when he published Common Sense. He blasted the monarchy as taking on a sovereign authority that should only belong to God. He suggested that Americans follow the lead of Jews in the Old Testament and reject a monarchical government. He urged the colonists to take up arms to protect freedom of religion for dissenters and declared the colonies as an asylum of religious liberty.  Let me repeat that. Asylum of religious liberty.


Liberty's definition is: the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.

No one's religion should be forced upon us.  It's right there in the Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; 

This means no national or state mandated religion. It says we are free to exercise religion. It does not specify Christianity as that religion. So, what do you think you're doing when you place a book based on Christianity in our schools and treat it as fact. Hey, private schools can do what they want. But public schools, schools run by our government should not impose Christian beliefs on those who attend.

We don't need the bible in schools. If you want to teach your children the bible, do it at home, take them to church. I'm not saying that some curriculum shouldn't be based on theory, after all, much of science is based on theory. However, the bible isn't science, and it's not a proven history. Religion simply doesn't belong in schools unless you are teaching children about ALL religions.

As for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act - it's original purpose was "ensuring that interests in religious freedom are protected."  It applies to all religions, but is mostly was put in place for Native American religions and their sacred grounds that have been victim to the expansion of government projects.

The Indiana RFRA allows individuals and companies to assert that their exercise of religion. Really? The Constitution protects our religious freedoms. Why do we need this? Oh that's right, so companies and individuals in your state can turn away people they don't deem "worthy" of their Christian value services. Governor Mike Pence says it's all a big “misunderstanding.” And, “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”

Liar.

In response companies have halted expansion to Indiana. It's also been criticized by the likes of the NCAA, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, Gen Con, Disciples of Christ, and Subaru.

All of this, as I stated before, is nothing more than religious tyranny. Something many of our ancestors fled from and fought against. Our country is not a Theocracy. We cannot let the ball keep rolling in this direction. If they force this on us, what of our rights will be in jeopardy next?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

50 Shades of Twitter Trolls

If you follow Twitter and the literary world, you've probably heard that EL James was the brunt of a Twitter attack . If you don't know who EL James is, you at least know her books, the  50 Shades of Grey series. Now, I don't claim to be a fan of the books. I have read about 5 pages and wasn't impressed. However, I would never take it upon myself, no matter how much I hated a book, to brutally attack and criticize the author, especially during a Q&A they were hosting.

Sure, many people think she's not a good writer, many people don't like her books, a lot of them think they portray abusive relationships in a glamorous light. So write a book review on Amazon. Blog about it. There is no need to attack the PERSON behind the words.

Here are some of the horrible tweets...

  •  does the E.L. Stand for ELiterate?
  •  after the success of "Grey," have you considered re-telling the story from the perspective of someone who can write.
  •  what's it like telling millions of women it's okay to be in an abusive relationship as long as he's rich.
  •  Is there a safe word we can use to get you to stop writing such drivel?
  •  Do you ever feel guilty that you made so much money from romanticizing sexual abuse and selling it as "erotica romance"?
  •  Will you be rewriting the book from Stephenie Meyer's point of view next time? 
  •  how do you feel knowing you've made your riches from convincing young impressionable girls that abuse is 'love'?
  •  Which do you hate more, women or the English language?
  •  Is it only ok for Christian to stalk, coerce, threaten & manipulate Ana because he's hot, or is it also ok because he's rich?
  •  Do all these negative tweets sent to you seem abusive to you? I think it's romantic enough to be turned into a novel!
Um...seriously? From what I could see, the majority of tweets during the #AskELJames  Q&A were like this.

Let's take a couple things into consideration...

50 Shades of Grey is FICTION! And it's erotica. EL took people's real life sexual fantasies and
fictionalized them. Maybe they aren't my sexual fantasies or yours, but I bet they are someone's. Why else would so many copies have sold? Out of the millions and millions of books out in the bookosphere (yeah, it's a word) I'm sure there are others that glorify relationships like this, and rape, and murder, and all sorts of ugly things.

Remember the movie Natural Born Killers? I mean, I thought it was brilliant, as did others. However there were some...not so much. They felt like it glorified violence. Here's what some reviewers say...

  • ...just for sickening starters, there wasn't one, single, solitary character in this entire film who was even remotely likable.
  •  Phew! - What a total waste of H-Wood Talent !
  •  I regret having to give this film one star- zero stars isn't an option. Neither is negative 3 stars. That would've been acceptable.
  •  worst movie ever... 
  •  ...I could feel my brain welling up with hatred for every individual involved in the making of this movie. 
You get my meaning? It's not real. It's fiction. It's subjective. So, like the people above, if you hate it so much, write a review. I would almost guess that they can't though because they probably have not read the books.

I'm not defending the series, I didn't read it, I have no desire to read it, and like I said, the part I did read I thought was crap. Writers are used to that kind of criticism. We have thick skin (or we learn to grow it.)  I am defending the writer. She's a person and is not defined by the books she wrote. She likes wine, dogs, chocolate, bacon and Magic Mike.  And she has feelings like the rest of us.

So step off Twitter Trolls. Go back to fawning over Harry Styles, making up new memes, posting Shia Laboeuf videos, and tweeting about hockey (this is truly what some of them do, I checked.) Just leave EL James alone.

Plus, she probably doesn't give a shit what you think anyway.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fine. I'm Intolerant: Part Deux

Photo by Fibonacci Blue
If you read my blog yesterday, you'll know that I'm being facetious. Because I'm intolerant of intolerance, that makes me intolerant...er...at least that's what some people have said. Some joking, some maybe not? Who knows. Anyway, it's because of these statements:
  • I believe in marriage equality.
  • I do not like not practice racism.
  • I believe waving a confederate battle flag is a slap in the face to all African Americans and their ancestors who worked so hard for their civil rights.
Yesterday I spoke about marriage equality. Today, racism and the Confederate battle flag (Southern Cross). I believe if you want to wave your battle flag after what has gone on this past couple weeks, let alone the last few hundred years, you are either ignorant or racist. 

There are those who call it "heritage and pride." Mostly because they had an ancestor fight for the confederacy.


Heritage. Your ancestor fought for the Confederacy. Against his own country. What was happening at the time was not tyranny,  as with the Revolutionary War. It was one part of the country still wanting to be able to own people for self serving reasons, and the other side saying, that's not okay. One side that so desired slavery that they tried to secede from the Union. One president saying, nope, not happening. The cost of your ancestors defending the right to own slaves cost 625,000 American lives.


The war started when a Confederate army opened fire on Fort Sumter, claiming it as its own. The North originally wanted a "little" war to restore the Union. It had to turn into full on destruction of the South and its institution of slavery. The nation had to be reunited and reborn, free of slavery.

Confederate president Jefferson Davis tried to flee as his armies were surrendering. Not very brave behavior for a leader. He was caught and the rest of the confederate army collapsed.

Pride. So, after reading the above, is this flag really a symbol of pride? I don't want to hear the "The battle flag isn't the national flag of the Confederacy," argument. Who cares? Both are representative of a nation torn apart by slavery. Are you proud that your ancestors tried to keep slavery alive? Are you proud that so many people had to lose their lives to defend the freedom of others? The Confederate flag is not a symbol of pride; it's a symbol of shame.

The flag after the war was flown only on occasion at events honoring confederate soldiers. However,  there was a surge of reappearances during the struggle for civil rights and desegregation. It's said that it's first return was in South Carolina in 1948 when Strom Thurmond ran for president under what was known as the Dixiecrat party. Article 4 of its platform was, "We stand for segregation of the races."

After the Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education, and when desegregation started,
Little Rock 9 Protest
the flag surfaced more and more. Then in 1961, to honor the 100th anniversary of the onset of the civil war, South Carolina flew it over its capitol. (It was moved in 2000, but was still on capitol grounds. There's more to that story, but you can find out on your own).

Some southern states even incorporated one of the Confederate flags into their own state flag.

So I repeat, if you want to continue to wave your Confederate battle flag, you are either ignorant or racist.

I had someone, a transplant to the south, debate this with me: People are trying to erase it from history. I think we know that it can't be erased from history.  His point was that Apple stopped selling video games based on the  Civil War.  In my opinion, perhaps that is going to far. There are many historically accurate games and you can't erase history, I don't know. But I do applaud stores from discontinuing the sale of the Southern Cross. The flag, like the Nazi flag, belongs in history books and museums, not flying high at state buildings, in front of people's homes, or in the back of a pickup truck. He also told me that support of the flag wanes with every generation, which is good to hear.

I applaud Bree Newsome, the activist that climbed the pole on the South Carolina capitol grounds and removed the Confederate battle flag. That was a brave act of civil disobedience. She was immediately arrested of course. Someone offered her bounty money, which she refused. Instead she had it donated to support the victims of the Charleston church massacre. She wants everyone to keep in mind, this act was not about one woman. In her own words. "We made this decision because for us, this is not simply about a flag, but rather it is about abolishing the spirit of hatred and oppression in all its forms."

It comes down to respect. Even if you disagree with me on what the Confederacy battle flag symbolizes, you have to realize that an entire race (and supporters) finds its image oppressive. If you respect African Americans and the battles they and their ancestors have encountered throughout the years, take your flag down. It's the neighborly thing to do. It's the right thing to do.  Especially after the Charleston shooting and the burning of southern churches. For many people in this country, the battle flag is nothing but a reminder of the victimization and slavery of blacks, and that racism unfortunately still exists in our "civilized" society.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fine. I'm intolerant.

If you want to throw that word back in my face, feel free. Because I voluntarily admit to the following:
  • I believe in marriage equality.
  • I do not like not practice racism.
  • I believe waving a Confederate flag is a slap in the face to all African Americans and their ancestors who worked so hard for their civil rights.
Therefore, if you're racist, don't think people should be able to marry who they want, or feel that proudly waving the Confederate flag is only a show of southern pride and heritage, I disagree - vehemently - with you.

Call it what you want. I've unfriended a couple people from Facebook this week because of it. I'd not be surprised if I was also unfriended. However, if you call me intolerant because I think people should have equal rights and should be treated with respect then I'll own that label.

Let's start with the freedom to marry whomever we choose.  Most of the opposition is due to religious belief that marriage belongs between a man and woman because the bible says so.

Sure, your bible said so (Leviticus 20:13). The book is also 3,400 years old. Are we bound to ethical and moral judgments made by those living thousands of years ago and in a completely different culture than our own? Plus, the bible has been translated thousands of times over the years. Can we trust its accuracy?

Would Jesus keep to the archaic law of the land as written in the bible if he were here today? You do realize there is a whole shit ton of other crap forbidden in the bible, right? I'm pretty sure you're not abiding by those either. Let's take a look, shall we?

  1. Divorce. In his gospel, Mark is pretty clear about divorce. 10:9 “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” And how about this one 10:11-12, “And He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.’” Are you remarried? Adulterer!!!
  2. Bastards. You can't go to church. Ever. Do you think Bristol Palin takes her baby to church? Deuteronomy 23:2 “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” That's pretty harsh.
  3. Pork. You love your bacon right? Who doesn't? But, uh-oh, according to the bible, swine is off
    limits. Leviticus 11:7-8 "And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.
  4. Seafood. Guess what else you're not supposed to eat.  Leviticus 10-11 "And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you. They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination." Kiss your clams, oysters, shrimp and mussels goodbye. Mwaa!
  5. Ink. You like that butterfly tramp stamp you got when you were 22? Or the tribal or Celtic band around your bicep? According to Leviticus, you're in trouble. 19:28 "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD."
  6. Virginity. You want to get laid before the wedding? Nope, not according to Deuteronomy 22:20-21. "But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you."
For many of these transgressions the penalty is death. DEATH!! Aside from not being a bastard, I have broken every single one of these rules. Do you think I'm going to hell?

Honestly, I could go on and on. Wearing clothing of two types of fabric, trimming your beard, getting a bowl cut...the list goes on. Oh, and ladies, don't help your husband in a fight. The penalty is losing your damn hand! "Oh, sorry honey, I'd love to help you fight that mugger, but God might sever my hand with a bolt of lightning..."

If you don't follow the above rules, don't tell a homosexual that they can't marry, which by the way, is not in the bible...

How about we remember these bible verses instead:
Matthew 22:39 :"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
James 4:11-12 "There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?"
Matthew 7:1-2 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
 Psalm 145:9 "The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works."
 1 John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us."

Then there's this guy, who tells us why Leviticus is inadmissible evidence. 

And with July 4th coming up, let's not forget about the Declaration of Independence...

"...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

 

I've spouted off so much about this topic, that I'm going to save the other for tomorrow...until then...

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