Category Archives: justice

Compassion, Trump-style

Hello, brothers and sisters. I know you haven’t heard from me in a while, but I’ve been a little busy. And, by “a little busy”, I mean “working my butt off to get some really mediocre grades this semester”.  But, recently, something so big happened that I just had to carve out some time and write about it. 

     What could possibly pull me out of my self-imposed exile and back into the blogosphere? President Trump’s budget proposal (I throw up in my mouth a little, every time I say that), that’s what. And, let me you, it is a doozy. It increases defense spending by 54% and slashes funding for almost every other part of the federal government, including all funding for arts and cultural agencies and the block grants that support Meals on Wheels and Head Start. Naturally, a few folks have their panties in a wad over this turn of events. 

     The real brouhaha started when, at a press conference yesterday, a reporter asked White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney if the budget wasn’t “hard-hearted”. Mulvaney replied, “No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think it’s one of the most compassionate things we can do.” That’s right, beloved; a budget that cuts funding to programs that feed the elderly and underprivileged kids is “compassionate”. 

     Now, before we lose our collective mind over this, let’s look at Mulvaney’s reasoning. He told the press, who didn’t take his pronouncement very charitably, “You’re only focusing on half of the equation, you’re only focusing on recipients of the money. We’re trying to focus both on the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place. And I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say, ‘Look, we’re not going to ask you for your hard-earned money any more.’ ‘Single mom of two in Detroit, OK, give us your money.’ We’re not going to do that anymore … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used in a proper function, and I think that is about as compassionate as you can get.”  And, believe or not, I get where he’s coming from.

     This budget is remarkably compassionate. I mean, sure, Trump’s budget will impose an 82% tax hike on a single parent making $34,000 a year. But, imagine how it will relieve the burden on the long-suffering and over-taxed 1% in this country. Seriously, who deserves a break more than the ultra-wealthy?

     And, yes, this budget will eliminate programs that the single mom he mention probably relies on, like Head Start, PBS, and other silly, socialist fluff. But, come on, folks. Lord Dampnut has to get the money to build The Wall™ from somewhere. Especially, since Mexico can’t stop laughing at his claim that they’ll pay for it. 

     Besides he’s got to come up with that extra $54 billion he needs to beef up the world’s largest military. Yeah, I hear you, “We already spend more on the military than the next 8 countries combined.” Maybe. But, don’t we need to be ready in case shit pops off with the Russians? Okay, not the Russians; Uncle Vlad wouldn’t be happy about that. But, it is necessary. If only because he needs to make sure the military is equipped to protect him when the mob of screwed-over supporters arrives in D.C. with the pitchforks and torches.

     Look, I know a lot of you are still pretty pissed about this budget. I get that. But, maybe you should take Mulvaney’s advice and look at both sides of the equation. There’s the “decent human being who wants to take care the least of these” side…, and, then there’s Trump’s. I’m sure you’ll see the light eventually. 

No Homosexual Lifestyle???

In August of last year, the darling of the progressive Christian world, John Pavlovitz, wrote a post titled Repeat After Me: “There is No Such Thing as a “Homosexual Lifestyle.”  What?!? No homosexual lifestyle? I find that hard to believe. I mean, if there’s no “homosexual lifestyle”, that means I’ve been an asshole for absolutely no reason whatsoever. That is a turn of events I just cannot accept.

Look, there are numerous places where the Bible plainly states homosexuality is a sin. Here are a few of those places:

  • In Leviticus 18:22, God told Moses that men shouldn’t lie with men as they do with women because that is an abomination. Of course, a few chapters earlier, God also told Moses that the people shouldn’t eat pork and shrimp. But, I love pork and shrimp, so I ignore that part. Thank you, God, for the miracle of proof-texting!
  • In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul said that “homosexuals” won’t “inherit the kingdom of God”. Yes, I know the word “homosexual” doesn’t appear in the Bible until the middle of the 20th century. But, the words that have been rendered as “homosexual” are slang terms and we really don’t know what they mean. But, hey, if we don’t know what Paul meant, what’s wrong with interpreting it in a way that benefits us “normal”, straight folks?
  • In Romans 1:26-28, Paul tells us that men and women gave up natural, God-ordained relations and defiled themselves with icky, same-sex shenanigans and were promptly punished for it. Sure, in the very next chapter, Paul tells us that God condemns the kind of judgement he just threw out, but that doesn’t help my case, so I’m ignoring it.

Seriously, is this man, this “pastor”, trying to tell me that my deeply held religious belief about the homosexuals, based on a Bible verses that have been few proof-texted and cherry-picked within an inch of their life, is wrong? Really?

According to Pavlovitz, “We all have a gender identity and a sexual orientation and these things all fall along a vast and complicated continuum. It is this specific combination of both how we see ourselves and who we are drawn to that form this essential part of who we are.” Oh, come on, “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”? Everyone knows God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. And, Eve was always Eve, not Steve who decided he was Eve. No less an authority than the Southern Baptist Convention backs this up in their resolution “On Transgender Identity”. How could that many Baptists be wrong about something like this?

He also says that the Christians are holding onto “the prejudices and fears our faith inherited 3500 years ago when we didn’t know what we know now” and is “deliberately choosing to not know now; preferring religion to reality”. Well, of course we are. Otherwise we might have to change. And, if there’s one thing we don’t do very well, it’s change.

Look, the bottom line is that accepting homosexuality as innate and not a “lifestyle” is just another step onto the slippery slope that will ultimately lead Christians to live by the teachings of Jesus and start loving our neighbor and turning the other cheek. God only knows where that could lead.

Christians For Tru…, Aw, F**k It

Christians for Trump
Should probably add “misogynistic predator” to the list

This is the first Monday I’ve sat down to write (here on the blog, at least) since school started back in August. I have this opportunity because it’s Fall break this week and I’m on vacation. As we normally do this time of year, Diana and I are spending a week in the semi-tropical paradise of Baillie’s Bluff on the Gulf Coast of Florida. But, getting here wasn’t exactly easy this time.

 If you live in the southeastern United States, you probably have an inkling why things were so tough. If not, I can sum it up in two words: Hurricane Matthew. Between worrying whether we would even be able to get here (we usually come down I-95), to almost getting trapped by flood waters in at Diana’s house Saturday (roads all around us flooding), to a 14 hour trip with traffic that varied from a virtual standstill to almost clear sailing, it has been an interesting four days. But, we’re here and I’m writing this from one of favorite spots on the planet: the fabulous screen porch at D’s family house in Holiday.
What, you might be thinking, could pressing enough to drag me to a computer when I could be soaking up the last bit of sun and fun for the year? First of all, time on my hands. When we’re vacationing, Diana likes to sleep in, while I couldn’t sleep past 8 o’clock unless I was coming off a 3 day coke bender. When I have time on my hands, I think about things. And, this morning, what I’m thinking about is Donald Trump and the repulsive shit that spewed from his face hole in 2005.
 As awful as those words are, there is something worse: people who call themselves Christians making excuses for them or, in some cases, saying they just don’t care. What the fuck? How can you say that shit? Do you really want a man like this running the country where the women you claim to care about live? Because, if you do, I’m not so sure you care about them all that much.
The first time I heard that shit, my response was, “I’m not sure what to say to that.” It’s taken a few days, but I think I’ve finally come up with an appropriate response.
To pastors and Christian “leaders” who make excuses (it happened before he had “spiritual influences” in his life) or dismissing it altogether (Christians don’t really care about this), you should turn in any credentials you might hold and stop calling yourself a pastor, because you aren’t. The one constant in Jesus’ teachings (remember him? The guy you claim to follow?) is love. Love your neighbor, love one another, love your enemy. I’m just spitballing here, but I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t consider treating women as conquests to be gloated over “love”.
To those of you who say you don’t care, I say “Are you fucking kidding me?” Do me a favor, if your mother is still with us, go look her the eye and say “Mama, Donald Trump’s comments don’t bother me in the least. In fact, I firmly believe that a man who brags about assaulting women is the best person available to lead our country.” Then, come back and tell me how it went.
Let me make this perfectly clear: if you overlook, gloss over, ignore or do anything but condemn Donald Trump’s treatment of women, you should either fall to your knees and ask the Almighty for forgiveness or abandon any pretense of being a Christian. It’s just that fucking simple.

“Targeting” Our Daughters?

Last month, the American Family Association kicked off their #BoycottTarget campaign, which aims to push Target into changing its trans-inclusive bathroom/dressing room policy. Recently, Faith2Action joined in this effort with their “Don’t Target Our Daughters Day” protests scheduled for June 4th. As Enid Strict would say:

To promote their protest, the group has put out a video. Perfectly attuned to its target audience, it ends with an appeal to sign up “before there’s another victim”. followed by footage of a man running out of what or may not be a Target store for an undetermined crime, chased by a woman shouting, “Stop this guy! Call the cops on him!” Boy, that is some top-notch dog whistling, right there.

So, what’s the point of this special day? According to the organizers, it’s a “moment to stand together” and alert the public to the retail giant’s decision to allow “predators and sex offenders” to enter women’s restrooms and dressing rooms. What, do they think the rest of us don’t know about Target’s bathroom policy? Believe me, we know. Mostly because its opponents won’t shut the fuck up.

I have to admit, I’m a little confused about the whole thing. Especially the fitting rooms. Are the ones in Target’s ladies department set up differently from the men’s?  In the mens dressing rooms, you take your items into a private little cubicle, close the door and try on your clothes. And, those doors have locks on them.

So, what, the women’s dressing room just a big open space where your junk is on display for everyone to see? Because that’s about the only way I could see this being a problem. And, even if that was the case, wouldn’t a guy just hanging around, waiting for tasty morsel to show up kind of…, oh, I don’t know, stand out?

And, as for bathrooms, who in their right mind believes anything sexual is happening in a public bathroom? Have you been in one of those things lately? Maybe women’s restrooms are different, but a lot of men’s rooms are about two steps away from being classified as a toxic waster dump. I don’t know about you, but that’s not an atmosphere I find conducive to sexy time.

Look, even the cleanest public bathroom has an undercurrent of revulsion.  Because, even if it was so clean you could eat off the floor, you’re still surrounded by strangers taking care of disgusting (albeit necessary) bodily functions. I don’t like being around my own…, well,  you know. I sure as hell don’t care to experience the same from someone I don’t even know.

And, I have a question for the folks at Faith2Action: Why wasn’t this “bathroom predator” thing a problem until it was your daughters who were “at risk”? Are you somehow under the impression that boys don’t get molested? Because they do (not quite as often as girls, but still…). I don’t know, maybe you believe your 7-year-old son, simply by virtue of his maleness, can somehow fight off the advances of a determined adult with less than pure intentions. Because that’s such a realistic assumption.

It’s interesting to me that many people who call themselves “Christian” find trans folks icky.  I mean, we’re talking about people who follow a man that embraced the most marginalized people in his society and they’re dumping all over what is arguably the most marginalized group in our society. And, they’re using children to do it. Fuck.

You know, this is one of those times I wished I still believed in a physical Hell. Because I’d love to say there’s a special place there for anyone who does this kind of shit. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

 

Stop Bullying NC!

Bet you can't guess which one of these guys is a bully.
Bet you can’t guess which one of these guys is a bully.

In the days since North Carolina’s “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” (aka, House Bill 2), its backers have used no small amount of time, energy and effort to assure us it will not hurt our state’s economy. As HB 2 has been law for almost 3 weeks, I thought I’d take a look at how that notion is holding up.

First, a little background. Two days after he signed HB 2 into law, Governor McCrory’s office issued a press release that said the law would have no effect on NC’s ability to create or recruit new jobs. That same day, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest told the Hollywood Reporter that “Businesses will continue to move here, and the businesses that are complaining right now will continue to do business in this great state.” And, on April 8th, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), told reporters at the ribbon cutting of a new VA center in Charlotte that he didn’t think HB 2 would keep businesses from moving here. Well, okay then.

So, how do things stand now? Well, a few days after Gov. McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law, Lionsgate and A & E, both filming productions here, declared that once those projects are finished, they won’t be back until the law is repealed. Then, on April 5th, PayPal announced that they were backing out of major expansion plans in the Charlotte area, costing that city at least 400 new jobs. And, on April 8th, Bruce Springsteen canceled his show  at the Greensboro Auditorium, resulting in a loss of $100,000 in revenue.

Now, I want to point out something to you. Notice the date of Burr’s comment I mentioned in an earlier paragraph. Now, look at the dates of the companies in the previous one. Do you see it? Our senior senator said that he didn’t think HB 2 would keep businesses from moving here. after multiple businesses had already stated their intent to leave NC. Or, not come here in the first place. Holy shit, y’all.

Now, lesser politicians would be deterred by this avalanche of bad news and scramble to amend the offending statute, hopefully keeping our state from going completely off the rails economically. But, not our Governor and his partners in crime colleagues. No, these stalwart defenders of women and children stood firm against this onslaught of LGBT oppression, decrying it as…, bullying.

You read that right, beloved; white, Christian cisgender people are complaining that they’re being “bullied”. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) said that he considered Springsteen’s cancellation “a bully tactic” and compared The Boss to a kid who takes his ball and goes home when he doesn’t get his way. Walker also said that Justin Bieber was scheduled to perform in Greensboro and that he might attend. Wait, we’ve sent a Belieber to Congress? Shit.

Walker isn’t the only Republican who feels bullied by LGBT activists; Michelle Nix, vice chair of the NC GOP, denounced PayPal’s action as “corporate hypocrisy and bullying” because the company has done business in countries with less than stellar human rights records, especially concerning LGBT issues. Yes, Michelle, pointing out PayPal’s ethical shortcomings is the perfect way to convince them to stay in North Carolina.

What might persuade PayPal and all the other companies who said they’ll pass us by for less backward (and discriminatory) pastures? I’m thinking that if the Republicans who passed HB 2 would stop whining about our state suffering the consequences of their stupidity and repeal this abomination of a law, it might just do the trick. Of course, that would be the smart thing to do, so I’m not holding my breath until it happens.

Don’t Do It, Charlotte? Too Late, They Done Did It

satire def
^^^Because some people are irony-impaired.^^^

So, the Charlotte city council recently voted to allow transgenders to use whatever bathroom they damn well please. Well, beloved, if you need a sign of the moral degeneration currently taking place in the United States, here it is. I mean, we’re seriously going to let men use women’s bathrooms just because they claim to “feel like a woman”? If it’s not immediately struck down, we’re headed for a disaster of biblical proportions! Complete with human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together and mass hysteria.

You may think that response is a little over the top, but you’d be oh so wrong. You see, in the two days since Charlotte passed this abomination, some of North Carolina’s most God-fearing leaders have begun shouting from the mountain tops to alert the citizens that the dreaded “gay agenda” is attempting to take over our fair state.

As I told you a couple of weeks ago, Franklin Graham spoke up about the menace to our children represented in this legal anathema. And, right before the vote, Governor Pat McCrory emailed the two conservative stalwarts on the council to inform them that passage would “most likely cause immediate state legislative intervention.” Yesterday, Speaker of the NC House Tim Moore released a statement that legislators are planning a bill to block not only Charlotte’s ordinance, but also in any other similar laws passed in the state. Thank you, God, for men such as these.

Make no mistake, brothers and sisters, this is the moral crisis of our generation and we need to stand strong. Oh sure, several NC communities are all over lists of the hungriest cities in the nation and, a list of municipalities where poverty is growing the fastest includes the four largest cities in the state, but who cares about a bunch of deadbeats now that the government has decided to take up for the gays? Even worse, they want to protect a bunch of she-males? There’s a word for those people and we all know what it is (it starts with “pr” and ends with “edator”).

Is there any basis for the fear that child molesters will use this “bathroom bill” as a way to find little girls for their nefarious purposes? Of course not. Are there, in fact, multiple places where such ordinances have been on the books for several years and haven’t resulted in an increase in sexual assault or rape? Absolutely (see above link). Stop clouding the issue with facts, damn it!

Look, I know that persecuting gays and trannies seems to fly in the face of Christianity since Christians suffered awful persecution in the days of the early church and we follow a man who taught to us love and accept everyone, not just people who look like us. And, a Republican-controlled legislature passing laws to subvert a city council’s decision seems utterly absurd, as they constantly remind us that the GOP is the party of small government. But, seriously, none of that matters. Things are changing and, as a straight, white, cisgender (and by “cisgender”, I mean “normal”) man, I am terrified that gays and the transgenders might  treat me as bad as I’ve treated them. I’m not sure I could stand that.

Linda Harvey Can’t Find Anywhere To Shop

It's hard out here for a homophobic jerk.
It’s hard out here for a homophobic jerk.

You may not know this, but being a homophobic asshole is not without its pitfalls. Don’t think so? Just ask anti-LGBT activist Linda Harvey. PinkNews reports that Ms. Harvey is having a hard time finding places to shop because almost no major businesses oppose LGBTQ equality anymore. Or, in Linda’s words:

“For any Christian who wants to spend hard-earned dollars with family-friendly, Christian-affirming retailers, restaurants and service providers, the list is growing shorter all the time.”

Oh no, businesses have figured out it’s more profitable to treat everyone like a human being, making it hard for you to find like-minded bigots to patronize? How awful.

Right about now , you’re probably wondering just who the hell this Linda Harvey person might be (I know I was). Being the helpful, caring soul that I am, I put on my detective hat and started digging that info up for you. Granted, that entailed typing her name into Wikipedia and spending a couple of minutes reading. But, still…

It turns out that Harvey is the president and founder of something called Mission:America, a ministry which she established “to equip Christians with current, accurate information about cultural issues such as feminism, homosexuality, education and New Age influences. ” While there are other issues Mission:America speaks about (paganism and Islam, for example) , their raison d’etre is that dreaded Christian bugaboo: the “Gays” (dun, DUN,  DUNNN!!!).

Oh sure, there are articles on those other topics, but they are vastly outnumbered by the anti-LGBTQ crap. In an introductory post about Mission:America, Harvey writes, “We focus a lot here on homosexuality because of its rising visibility yet controversial place in current America life.” Which, if you ask me, is a little funny for ministry dedicated to Christian teachings. I mean, Jesus (you know, that guy we claim to follow?) never said a word about being gay. He did, however, say a lot about loving your neighbor, feeding hungry people and not hoarding (aka, caring for the poor), things I suspect Harvey considers commie propaganda.

So, now that we’re up to speed on this fine, Christian woman, let’s get back to the story at hand. This fight with retailers isn’t a new one for Harvey; by her own words, it’s been going on for several years. In the PinkNews article, she says,  “I stopped shopping at Macy’s in 2011 after learning about the retailer’s grossly unjust policy against women.” And, just what policy is so “grossly unjust”? Well, beloved, it seems that Macy’s allows people who are transgender to use the dressing room that best fits their gender identity, even going so far as to fire an employee for stopping a trans woman attempting to do that very thing. Oh, the horror!

It’s not just Macy’s, though.  Target, Harvey claims, has sold “gay pride” t-shirts in the past and “Amazon, General Mills, Google, Facebook, Paypal, Levi-Strauss and others” are joining them in “‘proudly standing’ with homosexuals and cross-dressers who want to change America’s 1964 Civil Rights Act to add ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity”, something she refers to as “anti-American, pro-deviance legislation” Yes, there’s nothing quite so “anti-American” as the notion that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated that way.

But, it doesn’t end with those companies. Harvey thinks Christians should avoid doing business with (deep breath annnd, go!): Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes & Noble, CVS, Dell, DIRECTV, E-Bay, Ford Motor Co., The Gap, General Motors, Hallmark, Home Depot, IKEA, JC Penney, Levi-Strauss & Co., Macy’s, Mattel, Nationwide, Nike, Nissan, Nordstrom, Office Depot, Staples, Starbuck’s, Target, TJX Companies ( owns TJ Maxx and Marshall’s), Volkswagen and Walgreen’s. Wow, she’s not kidding; there really isn’t a place for anti-LGBT shitheads to shop these days.

Now, if I were in Harvey’s shoes, I’d take the tidal wave of acceptance of people who are LGBTQ as cue to rethink my ideas on the matter. But, then, I’m not a hard-core culture warrior, locked in battle with Satan for the soul of our country and don’t equate “compromise” with “capitulation”. Does that mean I don’t have the courage of my convictions? Maybe. But, I also don’t have problems buying a new underwear when I need it. Which pretty much makes up for any angst I might be feeling on the matter.

Freedom’s Call (aka Official Donald Trump Jam)

This has been a busy  week. Interesting, sure; but busy, nonetheless. On top of school work, maintaining a long distance relationship and volunteering at Love Wins, I became a grandfather. Yes, beloved, my first grandchild, Harrison Dwight, was born Tuesday morning at 2:29 AM. I was there for most of it, but they wouldn’t let me be in the room for the final act (it was a Caesarean birth). No matter, everything’s fine and he is absolutely wonderful.

Of course, doing the grand dad thing (which has the dad gig beat all to hell, let me tell you) means I haven’t done much writing this week. And, what I did do was mostly school related. Since blogging was put on the back burner this week, I thought I’d share some of that work with you today. It’s not overtly Christian, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

Freedom’s Call?

satire def

Sometime around the middle of January 2016, what passes for Donald Trump’s campaign staff planned a rally to be held in Pensacola, Florida. Someone in that organization of “winners” thought it would be a good idea to open the rally with a catchy tune from a group of young ladies who call themselves the “USA Freedom Kids”. You may have seen the video and know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I’m not sure if you should lament that fact or fall to your knees thanking God, because it is hilarious and frightening at the same time.

In a tribute so star-spangled it would make Captain America blush, we are treated to a patriotic songfest the likes of which we haven’t seen since Hollywood was recruited to sell war bonds during World War II. The only thing missing is an image of Donald Trump punching Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, in the throat.  Seriously, if there’s a patriotic cliché this song doesn’t contain, I’m not sure what it could be. Along with a few inexplicable items, like “Ameritude” (what does that even mean?) and the aforementioned clichés (“our colors don’t run, no siree” and enough mentions of “freedom” to make you sick), the song is peppered with Trump sayings like “Deal from strength or get crushed every time”. If all that’s not bad enough, it horrifyingly references “President Donald Trump”

After a few viewings, I noticed a couple of things: 1) that the girls are never shown in close-up. I’m guessing it’s because no one wanted to see them blinking out a Morse code message for rescue like a Vietnam War POW. And 2) at first, the audience appears horrified, as any normal human being would, at the specter of three impressionable children being forced to spout Trumpisms in public. But, being Trump supporters, they quickly overcome any revulsion they might be feeling and start clapping along…, in a creepy, almost robotic fashion that suggests their brains have sucked out and replaced with tapioca pudding. That’s the only explanation I can come up with.

Media response to the song has been…, let’s say “interesting”. The Washington Post declared the song is a mash-up of “‘Over There’ and, weirdly, Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass'”. I’m not sure what the Post has against Blondie or the song that was their first #1 hit, but that’s a low blow. Politico.com had another take, referring to the song as “infectious”. Sure, if by “infectious” you mean, “will haunt my dreams from now till I die”. It appears I’m a bit out of step with mainstream journalists these days.

According to the group’s manager, Jeff Popick, “While there are several candidates who could begin to turn around the Obama debacle, we think there may be no one better than President Donald Trump to answer ‘Freedom’s Call’.” Um, “Obama debacle”? Since when do we consider record low unemployment, a resurgent economy and millions of people with health care a debacle?

Popick is one righteous, freedom-loving dude, though. He told the Washington Post in the same interview, “To me, freedom is everything. That’s what this group is about. That’s what I’m about. Freedom for everybody. That’s the inspiration.” He’s also the father of one of the Freedom Kids: Alexis, the interminably cute 8-year-old out front, working hard to make the dreadful choreography somewhat bearable. He also told the Post that he considers this “crazy journey” a “win-win no matter what.” Well, of course, he does. I mean, what’s more American than pimping out your daughter? Especially to elect a fellow freedom-lover like Donald Trump.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel distinctly unclean after watching this video. Honestly, I feel like there’s not enough soap and water in the world to wash off the oily film that is the after-effect of a Donald Trump rally. And, the worst part is, I can’t unsee it. The image of these poor, innocent young women being forced to perform at function for a narcissistic, money-hoarding billionaire with a xenophobic streak a mile wide is burned into my brain and it may never go away. You know when I said the song “will haunt my dreams from now till I die”? That’s not hyperbole. You have no idea how much I wish it was.

Remembering History: The Greensboro Sit-ins

I wrote the first version of this post three years ago. Since this is the anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-ins, I thought this would a good time to dust it off and give you an updated version. Enjoy.

The Greensboro Sit-ins at their height: 63 of 66 seats taken by African-American students waiting to be served. It only took 6 months for them to get a bite to eat.

57 years ago today, four college students walked in and sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N. C. Now, a group of people sitting down at the lunch counter wasn’t a big deal; it happened every day. But, this? This was different.

You see, these four young men, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair (now Jibreel Khazan) and David Richmond, were African-American and African-Americans were not served at this particular lunch counter. If a black person wanted to eat at Woolworth’s, they went to the counter in the basement. But, under no circumstances did they sit down at the main counter upstairs, a custom that prevailed in Woolworth stores across the south in those days.

But, these four 17-year-old freshmen did just that, politely asking to be served. Eventually, the manager asked them to leave, but they didn’t; they stayed on those stools until closing time. The next morning, the four, later known as the Greensboro Four, were back along with 20 of their peers, including students from Bennett College (a historically black women’s college in Greensboro). On the third day, 60 students showed up. By the fourth day, the crowd had grown to more than 300 people and 63 of the 66 seats at the lunch counter occupied by young African-Americans with final three seats taken by waitresses. That must have been a sight to see.

At first, Woolworth’s stood by their policy, stating they would abide by local custom and keep the counter segregated. But, after 6 months of bad sales and worse publicity, they relented and opened it anyone. The story doesn’t end there, however.

The actions of these four young men started a chain reaction, with sit-ins happening all over the south which led to the desegregation of not just lunch counters, but other places as well. In May of 1960, a group of Nashville students led by John Lewis, the Georgia congressman our president recently accused of all talk and no action, achieved citywide desegregation. The genie was out of the bottle and there was no going back.

The sit-ins also led the SCLC to fund a conference at Shaw University in Raleigh N. C. for delegates from the sit-in centers, 19 northern colleges and groups like CORE, and the SDS . Out of this conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was formed. To say the sit-ins changed the face of the civil rights movement is an understatement. Sometimes, I wonder if it would have nearly as successful if those four young men hadn’t walked into Woolworth’s that day.

I grew up in Greensboro and, for North Carolina, it’s a pretty progressive town. I’m not sure why, Maybe, it’s because this area was originally settled by Quakers, a group known for being progressive. Guilford County was a stop on the Underground Railroad and Levi Coffin, one of the most well-known conductors, grew up here. And, of course, there are the Sit-ins.

But Greensboro has a split personality when it comes to race and civil rights. Yes, it was here that sit-ins brought new attention to the civil rights movement. But, it was also here that, in 1979, a group of Nazis and Klansmen shot and killed 5 protesters in what is known as the Greensboro Massacre. Go figure.

Here in the United States, we’ve come a long way regarding equality. Jim Crow laws are pretty much a thing of the past (the overt ones, at least). Black people are welcome in any establishment in the city and their employment opportunities have increased. Sounds good, huh?

On the surface, maybe. But, according to the latest data, almost 1 in 5 people in this city live below the poverty line and most of them are black. And, in the last few years, North Carolina has enacted new voting laws that purposely make it harder for African-Americans to vote. To top it all off, the President of the United States is a black man and has been subjected to more vitriol than any president in recent memory. The intransigence that seems to be a part of American (especially southern) DNA, can be discouraging. When it is, reading about what happened in 1960 lifts my spirits. If we could make those changes, the ones facing us today aren’t so bad. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

Who’s It Hurting?

Larry the Cable Guy
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had about all I can stand of Dan Whitney’s faux southern redneck pose.

On Dan Whitney, Political Correctness and Trans Issues

For reasons unbeknownst to me now, there was a time when I found Dan Whitney’s faux southern redneck pose (aka Larry The Cable Guy) funny. I shouldn’t have; even if you leave out all the racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ crap he spews, it’s still offensive to southerners because it paints us as semi-literate bumpkins who glory in their ignorance. And, isn’t that a lovely stereotype?

Whitney defends his schtick by saying it gets laughs. Once, to illustrate this point, he told one of his jokes as Dan Whitney, sans accent and ignorance and it fell flat. Then, he told it again as “Larry” and the audience ate it up. Basically, he’s taking the easy way out. Instead of writing better material, he chooses to pander to his audience’s baser instincts. When you have the kind of voice Whitney does, using it this way is deplorable.

What Whitney is doing is playing on working class white folks’ fear of change, and railing against “political correctness” is one of the best ways of doing so. Political correctness, of course, is the term certain people like to use when they demonize others for, basically, not being a dick. And, by “not being a dick”, I mean “not using language that offends others”. It never ceases to amaze me that some folks think this is a bad thing.

Unfortunately, being “politically incorrect” isn’t just a part of his “Larry, the Cable Guy” persona; it’s a part of being Dan Whitney. Last month, on his Sirius XM “Weekly Roundup” program, he went off on a political rant which included his disgust with people who are transgender, saying “Look, if you have a penis, you’re a boy. If you have a vagina, you’re a girl, That’s how it is.” Seriously? The fact that this guy gets standing ovations when he performs just makes me sad.

Now, I could list all sorts of valid research to counter Whitney’s claim; god knows there’s plenty of it out there. But, most likely, I would be wasting my breath because a lot of the people who agree with this sort of thing aren’t swayed by research or science, or pretty much anything else. So, instead, I’ll ask this question: Who’s it hurting?

The answer, of course, is no one. What is does is upset the straight, cisgender apple cart and some people have a problem with that. And, if I’m being honest, I can relate. As a straight, cisgender man, I have no problems whatsoever with people who are gay or bisexual and trans men and women don’t bother me in the least. But, effeminate men are a different story. Especially one who’s genderqueer and intentionally blurs the line between male and female. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but lipstick and a five o’clock shadow freak me the hell out.

But, but freaked out as I may be, I still don’t tell these guys to “BE A DAMN MAN!!!” I think it, sometimes, but I never say it. Why? Because I’ve seen what happens to someone when they’re not allowed to be the person they truly are and, believe me, it is deadly. So, if you’re one of those folks who agree with Whitney on this, I want you to remember what I just said the next time you want to spew some bullshit about your genitalia defining who you are. What they’re doing isn’t hurting you in the least, but what you’re doing? It’s killing them.