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Archive for January, 2011

January 13th, 2011

All Together Mouseketeers…You Too Tommy…You’re One Of Us Too…

This was a part of my childhood.  Not a huge one, but an important one…

I never became a member…even at that tender age I wasn’t much of a joiner…but I watched what Walt Disney put on my TV screen regularly.  Mostly it was for this…

And this…

His vision of the future was a big part of my kidhood dreams.  I wanted to be there, to grow up into that world where a great big beautiful tomorrow was shining at the end of every day.  Somewhere along the line I stopped dreaming it.  Somewhere past adolescence, somewhere after the country as a whole, tired of the war in Vietnam, tired of the race riots, fatigued by so much inter generational conflict, lost interest in the frontier of space, so terribly soon after we’d just put our footsteps on the moon.

Though I never stopped dreaming about it, I stopped believing in Disney’s great big beautiful tomorrow.  I put it down to fantasy…a beautiful story I was told as a kid that I wanted to believe in, but would never happen.  The world just didn’t work that way.  But I think there was something else that was missing from that dream.  Something that, had I seen it, might have made me hold onto it for a little longer…maybe even leave childhood behind with a vow to work a little harder to make it real.

That something, was me.  I was missing from that future.  And so were a lot of other kids just like me.

Disney Channel’s Strict ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy

In the original ‘The Flintstones’ series, the only characters of color to appear were natives of Africa who participated in a cave scout jamboree. Worse yet, far off into the distant future, on ‘The Jetsons,’ the universe seemed completely dominated by white people as well.

These were just signs of the times and while toon tones began changing in the 1970s, it’s almost blasphemous nowadays to have a television show that doesn’t include diversity, often to a point where it almost just seems forced.

So at four decades post-Stonewall and more than a decade into the age of ‘After Ellen,’ it wouldn’t be unnatural for one to wonder just where The Walt Disney Company draws the line at diversity. In all fairness, the company has teetered on the issue, having both progressive human resources policies for same-sex couples (which incited the infamous and rather seemingly innocuous Southern Baptist boycott) as well as just recently relenting on allowing same-sex commitment ceremonies at the theme park resorts under public pressure.

So where exactly does Disney draw the line when it comes to acceptance of gays in ‘everyday life’?

Well you already know the answer.  Yes, Disney has been very progressive when compared to other media and entertainment companies.  Behind the stage.  On it…well we’re all still in the closet.  And if we’re invisible on stage, we’re also invisible in the audience.  To each other.  To ourselves.

That’s a shame.  Disney wholesomeness isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and in fact it’s only mine provisionally.  I like it to be there, but a steady diet of it would suffocate me.  And it would have when I was a teenager too.  But that Disney-esq sensibility about life is more me then not. I like my visits to Key West, they relax and de-stress me nicely.  But my visits to Walt Disney World rekindle something inside of me that I had thought long dead.  That, it’s a small world after all attitude.  That idealized Main Street USA.  That Tomorrowland, where we would all live someday in a world where science and the pursuit of knowledge weren’t just good things, but a great adventure.  Sniff at it if you like, but there are worse visions to have become attached to as a kid, to keep close to your heart as an adult, to hand down now to the kids among us.

I should have been a part of that vision when I was a kid.  All of us gay kids should have.  We were there in the audience, but invisible…even to ourselves.  So instead of Disney’s future, we got told we were mentally ill.  Instead of Disney wholesomeness we were taught that our desires were a sickness best kept hidden away from decent people, and especially children.  Our friends got the happily ever after.  We got the gutter.  The great big beautiful tomorrow we could all look forward too would be a better place because we would not be in it.  You can’t tell me that didn’t make a difference in the adults we all eventually became.

One of these kids will later come out of the closet…

I like to think that if Disney was alive today (yeah…he’d be 110 now…But if…), we Would be a part of that vision of the future.  Walt Disney was a pioneer, who revered the old days and idealized them in his Disneyland.  But he also never let the past keep him from moving forward.  The caretakers of his vision today alas, aren’t the visionaries he was.  But this world doesn’t get very many of those…

So according to [Disney Channel Worldwide President of Entertainment, Gary Marsh], if a character hasn’t had a crush on someone, it’s okay for the viewer to assume they character is implicitly gay and that should simply be enough. At least until the character develops an attraction for the opposite sex anyway.

Perhaps the correct answer is “we just aren’t ready yet.”

“A man should never neglect his family for business.”
-Walt Disney

Gay kids need to be brought into the Disney “family” audience too because they are part of the family too and there are worse examples out there to set for them then Disney.  “Someday” should come sooner rather then later.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
-Walt Disney

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on All Together Mouseketeers…You Too Tommy…You’re One Of Us Too…

January 12th, 2011

Crazy People, Guns and Gun Control

This is another edition of what Atrios said…  Actually, Rotwang

It is very difficult to get someone committed against their will, unless they have committed violent acts. After all, I’m still at large. In states with big public sectors, aid for the mentally ill — assuming they accept assistance — can be very spotty. There are agencies with phone numbers, but try calling and getting some service. (I have.) In Arizona, forget it.

The icing on the cake is that in some places almost everyone has access to firearms. Efforts to deal with guns or magazines or bullets are doomed, like Prohibition or ‘The War on Drugs.’ There are just too many around, and too many people who want them. Better coverage of mental illness would be worthwhile, but it wouldn’t stop homicidal people from reflecting back the hostilities of extremists with prominent platforms. We know who the extremists are.

P.S. I would concede that some kind of gun control would make it more difficult for incompetent, crazy people like Nutboy to get guns. As crime control, however, forget it.

P.P.S. An attack of this intensity on a Congress person is an exceedingly rare event, so in that sense it’s futile to diddle with ‘how could this have been prevented.’

Glenn Greenwald Tweets somewhat sarcastically, “Remember the 1960s, when 1000s of people were involuntarily locked up in insane asylums and there were no assassinations? http://is.gd/kAbza”

I remember part of the impetus for getting people out of the asylums was far too many were committed who didn’t really need hospitalization, and the ones who did weren’t getting it as long as they were being held safely out of public view.  In far too many cases they were more dumping grounds then hospitals.

It’s tempting to engage in a little sarcasm myself when I hear my fellow liberals start yapping about gun control now.  Hey fellas…I’ve got a Swell idea on how to lower the temperature of the rhetoric in this country…let’s start making noises about gun control…!

Yes…this will certainly lower the temperature of the dialogue in this country.  But then there’s this…

Joe Wilson ‘You Lie’ Slogan Etched Onto Line Of Assault Rifle Components

Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) health care-era “you lie” interruption of President Obama is now reportedly being commemorated with a place on a new, limited edition line of assault rifle components.

The Columbia Free Times reports that the words are being engraved on a series of lower receivers manufactured for popular AR-15 assault rifles. Lower receivers are one of the primary pieces of the firearms.

“Palmetto State Armory would like to honor our esteemed congressman Joe Wilson with the release of our new ‘You Lie’ AR-15 lower receiver,” the weapon manufacturer’s site writes on the product description. “Only 999 of these will be produced, get yours before they are gone!”

I believe the 2nd amendment guarantees the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms.  I believe that freedom is part and parcel of democracy itself.  And I despair.  Never mind the lunatics who are selling the above back handed incitement to kill a president (I sincerely hope the Secret Service is watching where those rifles are going!).  Never mind the NRA’s grotesquely dogmatic stances on gun regulation and crime.  The biggest reason we can’t have a rational discussion about gun control in this country is the gun control crowd was very successful back in the 70s in convincing people that their ultimate aim was to eliminate private gun ownership in this country.  People quite correctly concluded that even the smallest most perfectly rational regulations on gun sales and ownership was just a first step toward total confiscation.  That wasn’t paranoia…it was often stated quite openly by gun control groups.

That seems to have changed on the democratic side of the isle.  Good.  But it isn’t enough to get us to where we need to be regarding guns.  There’s a lot of things I think we could do, including bans on high capacity clips for instance.  But the first step has to be acknowledging Americans, if they are peaceful and law abiding, do in fact have a basic right to own their own guns, which is to say, the means to defend themselves.

How denying that somehow became a staple of democratic politics completely baffles me sometimes.  I understand and share the liberal democratic impulse to hate war, revere life, nurture love and defend liberty, to work for justice and toward the peaceful society where we are all equals in the eyes of the law.  I am completely disgusted by the the republican lock them up and throw away the key approach to crime.  That we incarcerate a higher percentage of our own citizens then any other industrialized nation should be a matter of shame to all of us.  But if democrats represent the interests of the common everyday working people as opposed to the rich and powerful, then they really need to remind themselves from time to time that the lot of the common people is not greatly improved by rendering them defenseless.

I am not going to stand here and argue that had someone in Gifford’s crowd been armed some or all of the killings may not have happened. I’m certainly not going to argue that a state that can’t at least Try to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people isn’t asking for trouble. The argument I often hear that an armed society is a peaceful one seems grotesque on its face.  You need your gun when the peace has broken down, not when its alive and well.  So the first thing is to nurture the peace.

I was bullied horribly during part of my grade school years, the middle school ones, and it left me with a perfect understanding of how it is that your personal safety and security is ultimately on you and you alone.  You need to prepare yourself for the worst.   But having a fire alarm in your house is a pathetic excuse for playing with matches and gasoline.  What…I had a smoke detector…why is my house on fire…?? The bromide is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  But turn that around.  Guns don’t make a peaceful society either.  People do.  And one way you Don’t make a peaceful society is this:

Or this…

Or this…

And this…

And this…

That last is from an ad that was televised in West Virginia as part of the campaign to enact an anti-same-sex marriage amendment in that state.  It’s a family in the crosshairs of an unseen homosexual sniper.  More specifically, the unseen homosexual sniper is targeting their children.  This is what gets people killed.  This is what makes a society violent.  This is creating the climate of hate that can set off a mentally unstable individual.   But also the perfectly, murderously sane gay basher.  Your gay and lesbian neighbors have been on the receiving end of this hate incited violence now for decades.  What’s changed is now the right is doing it more broadly, and more openly, and with even less compunction.  What we’ve been seeing in this country in recent years, your gay and lesbian neighbors have been seeing for decades.  A climate of hate, meticulously, relentlessly cultivated for political and social ends.

There’s your problem.  Not guns.  Hate.  Last Saturday it was a crazy man.  Tomorrow it might be the chillingly sane.  Timothy McVeigh.  Eric Rudolph.  Scott Roeder.  One political party has been ginning up hate as a way to win elections for decades now.   The problem is when the inevitable violence results the other party responds by calling for more gun control, as if that’s even possible in a nation that hates itself as much as this one is starting to.

I understand that first amendment freedoms are sacred to a democracy.  If we can’t talk to each other we can’t govern ourselves.  Speech, even ugly disagreeable speech, is a right government cannot be allowed to trample on without opening the door to tyranny.  Our ability to speak truth to power depends on that freedom.  My hope is the killings in Arizona can finally, finally, enable us to also speak truth to hate without fear that we could sabotage freedom of speech in the process.  If we don’t confront hate we will loose that too.  Hate will silence the democratic dialogue if we let it, and then we Will loose our precious democracy.

All the gun control in the world won’t matter if we hate each other enough.  And if we love and care about each other as neighbors, as fellow Americans, regardless of race, creed or religion, then guns cannot do us any great harm.  Just there in the background, like the fireman’s hose if you need it, but the point is not to.  How much crime could be eliminated if we actually cared about each other as fellow Americans enough to make our schools strong, and the economy work for everyone?  How many gun accidents could be avoided if we cared about each other enough that we held our neighbor’s safety, and their children’s, as if it were our own?  Yes actually, guns do kill people.  When people hate each other enough.  If you’re worrying about the availability of guns in this country you are worrying about the wrong thing.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Crazy People, Guns and Gun Control

January 10th, 2011

Responsibility

The pushback from the right started almost immediately, and with all the acid vitriol by which they inflamed the violent passions that almost certainly led to the shooting in Arizona last Saturday in the first place.  You could watch the bogus Jared Lee Loughner Facebook pages…the ones where he admits his loathsome liberal tendancies…being created and deleted as fast as the Facebook administrators could catch them going up.  You can really tell they learned their lesson from the killing of Matthew Shepard.  If now was then, they’d have been calling Shepard a meth using sex addict and McKinney and Henderson a couple of drugged out psychopaths and the killing a Tragic robbery gone bad long before the body had a chance to get cold, let alone buried.  And as always, a key ingredient in the smokescreen building are the uncertainties, inevitable so close to the event itself, if not for far, far beyond it.  What actually did motivate the killer?  Was he a leftist or a hard core Tea Partier?  Did he read Marx or Hitler?  Did he surf The New Republic or Daily KOS?  And if we can’t answer those basic questions then dare you lay blame for this horrible, horrible tragedy at the feet of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party you treasonous America hating liberals.

And so on…and so forth…

What does it mean to “lay the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at the feet of Palin and the Right”?  That they gave the killer the gun and some money and sent him on his way?  That they deliberately incited this specific killer to this specific act?   That they fueled a dangerous climate of violence against their political opponents, deliberately, to intimidate their political opposition without particularly caring if any one of them actually got killed, because long ago they stopped seeing the opposition as their neighbors, their fellow Americans, but rather as an enemy to be defeated by any means necessary, and if one of them Did get killed it would teach the rest a lesson?

   

   

“Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: ‘Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!'”
-Sarah Palin via Twitter

   

Angle: I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. This not for someone who’s in the military. This not for law enforcement. This is for us. And in fact when you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical…

Manders: If we needed it at any time in history, it might be right now.

Angle: Well it’s to defend ourselves. And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.

   

Liberal Hunting License

   

Responsibility.  If our fingerprints are not actually on the murder weapon itself then we are not responsible.  It is immoral for you to use this National Tragedy for partisan political advantage.  And if our violent eliminationist rhetoric did happen to motivate that poor psycho to pack a gun and kill an elected officeholder we’ve placed our crosshairs on, well then logically liberals are the ones who are responsible.  Because if it wasn’t for all that ACLU liberal freedom of speech stuff he would never have heard us talking about 2nd amendment remedies for adverse election outcomes.  Responsibility.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Responsibility

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