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December 3rd, 2015
A Recurring Theme Of Violence
by Bruce |
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This came across my Facebook stream this morning…
This comparison is worth noting, but I’m sharing this for another reason. In the arguments over gun control, and people (men almost always) who commit acts of violence with guns, I keep seeing this one thing popping out at me: a history of domestic violence or brutality toward women, sometimes children, sometimes animal torture. And also this…look at how the Times phrases it: “…who occasionally unleashed violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew.” It’s like they’re describing a charming little eccentric personality quirk and not a scary indicator of a deeply rooted predatory nature that should have everyone concerned.
The NRA. its constipated culture warriors, its jittery paranoid drunken Ted Nugent following would howl loudly about it but I see an eminently reasonable basis to deny someone the ability to legally buy and own a firearm right there: domestic violence. Of course there would need to be due process, a right to appeal and have your case heard. Fine. But if that’s what you are then the rest of us have more than enough cause to be afraid of what you might do with that gun.
I’m saying this as a gun owner myself, and as someone who believes the right of individual citizens to own their own firearms makes sense in a democracy. Overall gun violence is down. But these mass public shootings are on the rise and, in my judgement, they’re showing a common theme that isn’t necessarily about religious fundamentalism. Background checks won’t prevent all shootings, but if done seriously and diligently they’d be a help. But this also needs to be taken into account: if children can’t trust you, if your lover can’t trust you, then who can? I would say this is even more telling about a person’s potential for violence than a criminal record.
Look at it in the context of the overall mindset toward women, particularly among GOP politicians these days. The shooting at Planned Parenthood and the smear campaign against it are of a piece. You would have to assume, given the number of chest thumping runts now walking the halls of congress and the statehouses, that inconveniencing people at the gun shop, who occasionally unleash violent acts toward neighbors and women, would seem baffling to them at the least, if not an attack on their rights as men. Boys will be boys… The stereotype of the gun owner as having small dick issues is crude and misses it. It’s not their dicks that are small, it’s their hearts. The gun isn’t a dick substitute. The dick is a heart substitute.
Bullies will be bullies. Guns don’t matter. I realize to many that seems an outrageous thing to say but I keep finding it to be true. They say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Fine. But what kind of people? This ultimately I submit, is precisely why they imposed a funding ban on research into gun violence; because it is exactly what they don’t want science to pin down. They can already see themselves in that mirror. It’s not the gun that makes a person dangerous. It’s the lack of heart that makes a person dangerous. And you really see it in how they treat their spouses, their lovers, children, neighbors. There’s where it tells you that someone is not to be trusted. And maybe not just with a gun either, but also with a seat in congress. There’s the big red warning sign. A criminal background check is not nearly as telling as that is.
November 11th, 2015
The Ones Who Went To War
by Bruce |
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I’d post a photo of my maternal grandfather Albert (whose name mom gave to me) in his uniform but I still need to scan that one in. He served in the Philippines in the late 1800s…I don’t know if he later served in WWI or not. But oddly enough even though he died long before I was born, I owe much of the career I have now to him. After the Army, he ran his own business building and servicing radios and whenever mom saw something in me that reminded her of her dad she encouraged it…which is why I got a taste early in life for fiddling with electronic gizmos, which led to my building my own computers back in the IBM-PC/DOS days, and why I’m earning a good living now as a systems software engineer (my job title).
But I did scan this photo of mom and her first boyfriend, and fiancé, Morris. Morris was Jewish, and my granddad Albert, according to mom, didn’t much care for Jews until he met Morris. According to mom he came to like Morris very much and approved of them getting married.
But Morris was in the Navy during WWII, and so I was told, his ship sailed into Nagasaki harbor after Japan surrendered. He later told her that his ship was unable to move for a time, due to the number of bodies floating in the water. Whether it was the sight of that, or other things he saw during the war, or whether it was a thing that would have happened to him regardless, he fell into severe mental illness after the war and his family had to institutionalize him. So mom lost her boyfriend to madness, and if the war alone didn’t do that to him, it definitely contributed. Before his family took him away mom said, he used to scare her fondling his big army knife, stroking his face and arms and body with it like he was going to cut himself, talking about the corpses he’d seen with their guts spilled out.
So when we remember and honor our service men and women, let us please also dedicate ourselves to supporting them after the war too, and their widows and widowers, and their orphans, because our thanks are hollow otherwise, and especially to dedicate ourselves to not sending anymore of our neighbors to war, if it is humanly possible to prevent it. The wars don’t end for them merely because the shooting stopped.
November 5th, 2015
There’s A Message There For You Too Mrs. Boynes
by Bruce |
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On Facebook yesterday, Janet Boynes Ministries posted a link to an article applauding the outcome in Houston with this statement:
Houston voters just sent a very strong message to the homosexual lobby, don’t mess with Texas!
But the message from Houston, and Texas generally these days, is Please don’t mess with Texas. Because Texas can’t cope. Texas is afraid. It’s afraid of brown skinned people. It’s afraid of well educated people. It’s afraid of people of different religions, different Christians, godless heathens. It’s afraid of Teh Gay. It’s afraid of transgendered people. Please don’t mess with us because we’re a mess…
George Takei hit the right note yesterday:
Fear indeed can be a powerful weapon, but it ultimately never can defeat love. Those who deploy it always wind up on the wrong side of history, which will remember you as heroes and them as mere bullies. -George Takei
This from a man who would know from first hand experience what the ignorant fears and paranoias of the many can do to minorities. There’s another message here Mrs. Boynes, but you will need to step back from the immediate moment to see it clearly.
When I came out to myself as a gay teenager back in 1971 all but 2 states had sodomy laws. Now I could legally marry the man I love, and in a state (Maryland) whose voters approved same-sex marriage at the ballot box. “The arc of the moral universe is long,” said King, “but it bends towards justice.” And I am old enough to have witnessed the progress of that arc from Hardwick v Bowers to last night, when the only way bigots could get a non-discrimination law protecting a hated minority repealed was to make their case in the toilet. When I was 17, a law protecting sexual minorities would have been laughed out of the conference room, if not tarred and feathered. Now you have to make scarecrows out of bathroom icons. Even in those lopsided victories hate can manage in the reddest of red states, that’s gotta be depressing.
And I have witnessed over and over again in my own lifetime the truth of what Takei is saying. Where is Anita Bryant now? Where are any of the hatemongers of the 60s, 70s and 80s? At the same time Prop 1 was defeated Salt Lake City elected a Lesbian as mayor. Salt Lake City mind you, not San Francisco.
There’s your message Mrs. Boynes. You should read it sometime. We are not fighting for special rights. We are not fighting for social approval. We are not fighting for the right to take a pee. If you could see the people for the homosexuals, for the transgendered, for the Other that Texas fears and loaths, you’d understand why we will pick ourselves back up, dust ourselves off, and get back to work on it. Hearts of gold. Spines of steel.
by Bruce |
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There’s a lot of well justified anger over what happened in Houston Tuesday. And as always, you hear complaining that by venting that anger the losing side isn’t respecting the democratic process.
It’s a bullshit argument, and maybe also yet another indication of the race to the bottom in Texas education. Respect for the process is one thing, respect for the beliefs and opinions that led to a particular outcome is another. You respect the democratic process by working within the system to change outcomes you dislike. That doesn’t mean you have to treat anyone’s ignorant prejudices as anything other than ignorant prejudices. Prejudice does not gain respectability by virtue of there being a lot of it.
October 3rd, 2015
The School Shooting…(continued)
by Bruce |
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Here’s the guy who had a gun and didn’t go looking for the shooter because he knew the police might think he was the one…
Full article Here.
Parker noted that he was hustled into a classroom with other students by a professor who asked if anyone was armed. He said he raised his hand and said he would attempt to protect his fellow students if they came under attack.
This was the sane thing to do. Note that he had military training. There’s a discipline that comes with that you just don’t see in the open carry zealots, which is what makes them so scary.
But also note this: it makes a case for not totally banning private citizens from carrying a firearm too. It’s even making me rethink my own knee jerk reaction about having them on a school campus. If this was typical behavior then I don’t think there would be much opposition to concealed carry. And with strict licensing, safety training and background checks I think this would be. This guy had military training. You would expect he could pass all of that handily. But it’s not typical behavior, and that’s the problem.
People with guns don’t worry me as long as there is some reasonable control over it. It’s the stunning lack of control the NRA and others are insisting is their right that worries me. No…being a hazard to others in our public spaces is not your right. They say if you have to get a license to drive why can’t we license gun ownership too. Well I still think people ought to be able to have guns in their homes or on their own property as long as they can pass a background check. But taking one into our public spaces should definitely require a license. And that license should definitely require passing a background check, passing a range safety and accuracy test and passing a test for knowledge of the applicable laws. Something I have a hunch the most vocal of the open carry idiots could not.
And even then, it should be left to the locality to decide what weapons are allowed and where no weapon is allowed. Cities for example, might decide no, you can’t carry Anywhere in a densely packed urban zone because of the danger to bystanders in such close quarters. No, you can’t carry in a subway. No, you can’t carry in a shopping mall. The localities know best where their own danger zones are and how to handle them. And if the argument is high crime zones are exactly where citizens need their means of protection the most, my reply is high crime zones are where civilization is failing and more people with guns sure as hell isn’t the answer to that. There’s a failure of society and government in those neighborhoods that needs to be addressed. Not every problem is a nail.
So here’s a situation where a law abiding man who had a gun on him knew better than to believe everything the NRA and the Ted Nugents of the world keep yapping about how more guns in the hands of citizens would have stopped all the spree killings we’ve suffered recently. But also there was this:
Parker noted that he was hustled into a classroom with other students by a professor who asked if anyone was armed. He said he raised his hand and said he would attempt to protect his fellow students if they came under attack.
This is why I am in favor of gun control, and why I am against outright bans.
June 27th, 2015
Look At The Rainbows…
by Bruce |
Yesterday, Friday June the 26th 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of extending marriage rights to gay people. Those saying that the court redefined what marriage is need to read the actual text of the decision. Kennedy wrote a paean to marriage, not a redefinition of it. And of course, the usual suspects declared that they would go on with the fight, blah, blah, blah and so on and so forth. That was unsurprising.
But then…afterward, something amazing, something that lifted my heart to a place where I will never again doubt the power of love, and the essential goodness of (most of) my fellow Americans happened. The rainbows came out…
Look…just look…at all the expressions of joy and affirmation. Go ahead and sniff that it’s just kowtowing to the militant homosexual agenda…and surely some of this, particularly among the corporate entities, is Hey There’s A Market There Let’s Make It Like Us And Spend Money! But look, just look for a moment, and the breath and depth of the expressions of joy at the decision. The sincerity of it, the massive scope of it, is something you need to grasp, if you can. Even if your prejudices can’t allow you to see the people for the homosexuals, at least try to understand that there are lots of people who aren’t homosexuals, who are absolutely thrilled that now their fellow Americans who are gay have equal rights in marriage. Look at this carefully, all of you declaring now that you will keep on fighting this, because it’s why you lost, why you will keep loosing this fight.
Everything you think you know about gay people is wrong, and especially, emphatically this: that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. It’s why you keep miscalculating again and again and again our willingness to go on fighting no matter how much damage you could do to us. But more critically, it’s why you miscalculated, profoundly, what would happen when your lies lost their power over us, and we began to live our lives openly. You thought “normal” people would be disgusted when they saw the reality of our lives. You really thought that. You probably still think that.
They are disgusted. At you.
It’s one thing to keep on inciting prejudice and hate at the people who live on the other side of the tracks, in the ethnic and racial enclaves, at Those People that America, to its shame, still largely keeps segregated. It’s another when it’s your own children, your brother and sister, your neighbors, your co-workers, the people in your everyday lives.
Prejudice lies. It lies about other people. But first, it lies to you. You think you see reality, but you don’t. Others, not succumbing to prejudice, loving life, and willing to live in the world as it really is for better or worse, do. Anything that keeps you from seeing the world as it really is, makes you weak. The denouement came with the Proposition 8 trial. You’d built a multimillion dollar industry propagating one pseudo scientific lie after another about gay people you hoped would win the masses over, or at least enough voters. But be honest with yourselves for at least one thing: it was mostly to convince yourselves you weren’t really just a bunch of bigots after all. And when it came time to defend all of it at trial your prize experts ran away, all but two who nearly conceded our case for us on the witness stand. In the end the rest of the country saw your case against gay equality for the half-assed pile of pretentious crap that it is. The witness stand is a very lonely place to lie said Boies. Lonelier still is the bathroom mirror. Your prejudices lied to you. But you let them do it.
Surely you noticed how quickly everything came apart after that. Whatever doubts existed before Prop 8, they are gone now. Our humanity is understood. We are neighbors. We are family. We are fellow Americans. We have been embraced.
And you? Well…you are what you’ve always been. Still able to look at this torrent of love and support from the rest of America, convinced that most everyone agrees with you, and ultimate victory will be yours. So you dig yourselves deeper into the gutter. It doesn’t have to be. Listen to a gay man who gave a little beauty to this world and was wronged horribly and fatally by prejudice: “We are all in the gutter,” he said, “but some of us are looking at the stars.”
We are not all in the gutter, despite your best efforts to keep us there with you. And if you can’t bear to rise your gaze high enough to look at the stars, at least look at the rainbows. They are rainbows of joy and love…from Americans to Americans. Look at them. There’s the way out.
May 4th, 2015
Not The Problem
by Bruce |
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Captain Jack on what the problem is…
For most of last week I was confined to quarters after 10PM, here in Charm City, aka Mobtown, aka Baltimore. I didn’t have it as bad as many here did…I have a small, but nice little Baltimore rowhouse to bounce around in and anyway I’m usually in bed by 10PM. I am not a service working trying to make ends meet on a job I suddenly can’t work because it’s closed during my shift. My income does not depend on tips from late evening revelers. And as the people of Hampden, a largely white neighborhood just down the street from me proved last Saturday, even if I strayed for a little while from the curfew orders, the police probably wouldn’t start beating the crap out of me. Unless I had one of my cameras and my press badge on me anyway.
And while I am completely sympathetic with the protestors, the frustration and anger generally with police unaccountability, and was greatly relieved when our State’s Attorney leveled what seems to me to be thoroughly appropriate charges against the policemen and women involved in the death of Freddy Gray (there was a joke going around about how, acting on a request by the Roman Governor, the Baltimore City Police determined that Jesus fell into a box of nails and accidentally nailed himself to a cross…), I was mostly in favor of the curfew. Human consciousness isn’t all perfect rational thinking even when it keeps telling us it is. When a mob gets started…and we are every single one of us vulnerable to getting swept up in one…then it’s the lizard brain in charge and the first thing is you have to break up the mob.
But on twitter the other day Atrios was saying that curfews don’t solve anything and that is absolutely true too. A curfew doesn’t solve a problem anymore than a fire extinguisher does. A fire extinguisher puts out a fire. The fire was the problem you didn’t solve.
Yes that extension cord keeps getting hot…yes it’s a little frayed…but it still works…
For a good overview of the problem Baltimore (and the nation generally), didn’t, isn’t, won’t solve, read this…
There is a difference people keep missing, conveniently or ignorantly, between excusing violence and explaining it. Humanity didn’t fall from grace, we rose from the jungle and the hot African plains, seeking it. But we carry the jungle with us, and it lives within us…all of us…and any animal will fight back when it’s cornered. The problem isn’t the rioters, don’t be pointing your finger there, the problem is the attitude generally toward the neighborhoods that rioted, and the people who live in them. They are our neighbors, they are our fellow Americans, and look what we’ve done to them.
Look at what we are becoming.
April 30th, 2015
Less Than Toilet Paper
by Bruce |
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I’m sharing this entire Facebook post from Marci Tarrant Johnson one of the Public Defenders working at Baltimore City Central Booking today. I saw the other day that one of the protesters accused Wolf Blitzer on CNN of thinking a broken window was worse than a broken spine. But it’s the broken respect for the rule of law here in America that leads to broken spines in, police vans, with prisoners inside that are being given “screen tests“. Rioting in the streets is amateur business. Take a look at what professional disrespect for the rule of law looks like…here…
OK…here it is…
I’m going to try to keep this as brief as I can, but I’ve been asked by several people about Central Booking today, so I’ll give you guys the shocking highlights. As much as I’d like to, I can’t describe the particulars of some of the more egregious arrests, due to attorney/client privilege issues, but I would like to describe the Civil Liberties violations, and the deplorable conditions which people have had to endure.
As many of you know, more than 250 people have been arrested since Monday here in Baltimore. Normally when you are arrested, you are given a copy of your charging documents and then you must see a commissioner within 24 hours for a bail determination (“prompt presentment”) and given a trial date. If you are not released after the commissioner hearing, you will be brought before a judge for a review of the bail set by the commissioner. None of this was happening, so we sent some lawyers to Central Booking yesterday to try to help. I heard, however, that only 2 commissioners showed up, and the correctional officers only brought about 9 people to be interviewed because the jail was on a mysterious “lock-down”.
Today we were divided into two groups. Some of the lawyers were assigned the task of actually doing judicial bail reviews for as many folks as they could get interviewed and docketed. I was assigned to the other group. We were the “habeas team”, and we were to interview folks that we felt were being illegally detained, so we could file writs of habeas corpus. Governor Hogan had issued an executive order, extending the time for prompt presentment to 47 hours. We believed that this order was invalid because the governor has no authority to alter the Maryland Rules. As a result, all people who were being detained for more than 24 hours without seeing a commissioner were being held illegally.
Knowing all of this, I was still not prepared for what I saw when I arrived. The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than ten people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women’s side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell. Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of 3 or 4 women, the women who weren’t there for Monday’s round-ups were there for freaking curfew violations. Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing. Not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ACTUALLY BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. They were brought to CBIF via paddy wagons (most without seat belts, btw–a real shocker after all that’s happened), and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime. No offense reports. No statements of probable cause. A few women had a vague idea what they might be charged with, some because of what they had actually been involved in, and some because of what the officer said, but quite a few had no idea why they were even there. Incidentally, I interviewed no one whose potential charges would have been more serious than petty theft, and most seemed to be disorderly conduct or failure to obey, charges which would usually result in an immediate recog/release.
The holding cells are approximately 10×10 (some slightly larger), with one open sink and toilet. The women were instructed that the water was “bad” and that they shouldn’t drink it. There are no beds–just a concrete cube. No blankets or pillows. The cells were designed to hold people for a few hours, not a few days. In the one cell which housed 15 women, there wasn’t even enough room for them all to lay down at the same time. Three times a day, the guards brought each woman 4 slices of bread, a slice of american cheese and a small bag of cookies. They sometimes got juice, but water was scarce, as the CO’s had to wheel a water cooler through every so often (the regular water being “broken”.)
My fellow attorneys and I all separately heard the same sickening story over and over. None of the women really wanted to eat 4 slices of bread 3 times a day, so they were saving slices of bread TO USE AS PILLOWS. Let me say that again. THEY WERE ALL USING BREAD AS PILLOWS SO THAT THEY WOULDN’T HAVE TO LAY THEIR HEADS ON THE FILTHY CONCRETE FLOOR.
Interviewing these women was emotionally exhausting. Quite a few of them began crying–so happy to finally see someone who might know why they were there, or perhaps how they might get out of this Kafka-esque nightmare. These women came from all walks of life. We interviewed high school students, college students, people with graduate degrees, people with GED’s, single women, married women, mothers, the well-employed, the unemployed, black women and white women. Almost all of them had no record. Those that did, had things like dui’s and very minor misdemeanors. Our group didn’t interview any of the men on the other side, but my colleagues reported very similar situations. On the men’s side there were journalists and activists, as well as highschool kids with no records, barely 18 years old.
As we were getting ready to leave, we heard that many of these folks might be released without charges, after being held for 2 days. When we returned to the office, our amazing “habeas fellow”, Zina Makar, single-handedly filed 82 habeas petitions. That is when we heard that 101 people were released without charges. I’d like to think that the amazing legal response to this injustice played a large part in their release, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. They may be charged later, but I’m guessing most of them won’t based on how minor their alleged infractions are. There are still over a hundred folks in there that need to see a commissioner and/or a judge, but hopefully we have thinned the ranks a little, and we will keep fighting until everyone has received due process. (We are concerned about these folks potential bails, as we are hearing about bails in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for misdemeanor charges).
I’ll wrap this up by reminding everyone that all lives matter. We are all human beings. And we are Americans, and as such we are afforded protections under the law, the guilty and innocent alike. If one person is denied due process, we all suffer. If one persons rights and freedoms are trampled on, it’s not only a reflection on all of us, but it puts our own liberty at risk. The moment we view some individuals as more important than others, we cheapen ourselves. At the very essence of our democracy is the right to question and stand up to authority. During these trying times, we should all keep that in mind.
I’ll leave you with a beautiful picture that was taken today of one of the women who was released without charges. Her husband had been waiting outside CBIF trying to find something…ANYTHING out about when she might be charged or released. This was taken moments after she walked out the door…..
This is why Baltimore keeps paying out millions in lawsuits that might otherwise be spent on our crumbling infrastructure. But pay attention to what this lawyer says at the very end…
I’ll wrap this up by reminding everyone that all lives matter. We are all human beings. And we are Americans, and as such we are afforded protections under the law, the guilty and innocent alike. If one person is denied due process, we all suffer. If one persons rights and freedoms are trampled on, it’s not only a reflection on all of us, but it puts our own liberty at risk.
We’ve all seen how the wingers love to wave the constitution around like it means something to them. Yet they are completely fine with all of this as long as it’s happening to everyone they hate…the darkies, the dirty f*cking hippies, anyone and everyone as long as it isn’t them. If this is your idea of liberty and justice than the U.S. constitution is less meaningful to you than a roll of toilet paper.
So next time one of them talks at you about how much they love the constitution, next time some winger starts babbling that Barack Hussein Obama or Hillary or someone, anyone in government whose policies they don’t like is VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION and they’re all against that, laugh in their face.
April 29th, 2015
How About Not Throwing So Many Of Those Fathers In Jail Then?
by Bruce |
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This came across my Facebook stream just now. It’s the kind of thing that just sets me off and I start seeing red. No…first I see a face. My Mom’s face. Then I see red…
I was raised by a single divorced mother you drooling brick-brained ideologue and her son’s police record is a hell of a lot cleaner than your’s is.
I had good public schools to go to…which you want to take away from America’s kids.
Even in a time when women made less than 60 cents on the dollar than a male co-worker for doing Exactly the same job my mom could still afford to raise a child back in the 50s and 60s. And that was because we had an economy that benefitted middle class and service workers like my mom. …something else you want to kill so your rich benefactors can buy more yachts. All those high paying union jobs gave paychecks to people who actually bought goods and services with them instead of gambling at the Wall Street casino. But your kind hates unions.
Mom was able to afford health care for me when it was desperately needed, after I came down with Scarlet Fever when I was 6 and then was laid up in bed for months with complications. Once upon a time working people and even a poor working single mother could afford health care for their kids. And you are trying to kill off the Affordable Healthcare Act.
Mom could afford to feed me, even on her meager salary back then. It wasn’t a fabulous diet I had back then but I never went to bed hungry. And it was reasonably healthy You want to take food stamps away from poor kids and let the food industry feed everyone else junk.
And even on that meager salary she could buy me books to read.
Face it Paul…you don’t give a good goddamn about those inner city kids. Broken homes is it you’re worried about? What ruins more marriages than money problems? You are making home life for everyone but the rich worse and worse so they can have more and more and more and you’re bellyaching that kids don’t have fathers? I’m laughing in your face. It isn’t lack of fathers that drove those kids into the streets, its lack of any concern whatsoever for the rest of America you can’t see from inside your nicely furnished cocoon. They’re just little people. If you and your kind were really concerned about them not having fathers, maybe so many of them wouldn’t be in jail right now for piddly sh*t that very few white men ever face arrest for, let alone jail time. Maybe the life those kids are looking wouldn’t be a school-to-jailhouse pipeline.
April 6th, 2015
(Message In A Bottle) So This Was Why You Warned Me Not To Send You Any Of Those!
by Bruce |
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Just now on Facebook…
Relax. They probably have your colonoscopy photos on file too.
[Update…] I’m queer…I can’t stop myself…
…I’m so ashamed…
March 29th, 2015
Thou Shalt Not Tell The Mirror Lies
by Bruce |
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This came across my Facebook stream this morning…one of many stories about the so-called Religious Freedom bill the governor of Indiana signed into law the other day…
Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Pull the other one. I’ve seen apologists spinning criticism of the Indiana law as some kind of militant gay hysterics, that the law has nothing whatever to do with discrimination against gay citizens, it’s just about preventing government from forcing The Devout to violate their Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs. We all believe that people should be free to practice their faith don’t we? But in Georgia a similar law was amended to make it clear that it wasn’t a license to discriminate and rather than pass it with that amendment they withdrew it. And in Oklahoma when a legislator proposed that businesses wanting protection under that law had to post signs alerting customers they would not serve anyone if it violated their religious beliefs, that law was also withdrawn.
Laws like these aren’t actually originating in the various state legislatures. The new thing is to first cook up a law in a right wing legislative think tank like ALEC and then pass it around to friendly state representatives. If you want to know the purpose of these ersatz religious freedom laws, ask the folks pushing them on the states…
Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer): “Dear Indiana legislators: any legislation “clarifying” RFRA will be abject surrender to the homosexual agenda. Don’t do it.”
I’m sure part of the song and dance now is Don’t Say The G-Word during hearings on the law. But there’s plenty of talk about what the purpose is elsewhere and if you doubt the actual legislative purpose take another look at what happened in Georgia when they added the clarity that Pence claims now to be seeking. Or take a look at this image from GLADD…
There will be no clarification forthcoming, Pence knows it, this is just wash, wash, washing his hands before the angry multitudes. What? What? I asked the legislature for Clarification…they did not provide any…so don’t blame me!
Some of you may recall a lot of this started when a same sex couple wanted a wedding cake and the bakery refused, citing their Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs. There have been several more cases like that, but in the one case I’m thinking of, I think it was the Colorado bakery, what hasn’t gotten as much press was a local radio station had various people go to that same bakery and ask them to bake cakes for divorces, out of wedlock births, heterosexual couples shacking up but not getting married, and so on…and they were perfectly willing to bake those cakes. Just not the one for the gay couple. I don’t think that even qualifies as Sunday Morning Christianity.
The ninth commandment is you don’t tell lies about your neighbors. There needs to be one for telling lies about yourself. Because, really, that’s where soul rot begins. All this yap, yap, yapping now about how everyone is completely misinterpreting Indiana’s law would be hilarious on The Daily Show but it’s pathetic to watch people really saying these things with a straight face. Anyone saying this law has nothing to do with nullifying the effect if not the reality of same-sex marriage needs to go look in a mirror and ask that poor lost soul staring back at them which is worse: repeating a lie because you don’t want people to know the truth, or repeating it because you don’t want to know the truth.
March 3rd, 2015
Simple Is Only Better Conditionally
by Bruce |
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This came across my Facebook stream just now…
In America, libertarian ideas are attractive to mostly young, white men with high ideals and no life experience that live off of the previous generation’s investments and sacrifice. I know this because as a young, white idiot, I subscribed to this system of discredited ideas: Selfishness is good, government is bad. Take what you want, when you want and however you can. Poor people deserve what they get, and the smartest, hardworking people always win.
I know this place…sort-of. I stayed for a time at the libertarian vacation resort myself, when I was mostly young, and yes I am a white guy, and yes I had high ideals. I like to think I still do. But what attracted me to it back in my early twenties wasn’t the idea of my own Galtish godhead and sticking it to all the lesser beings who were dragging me and my innate man-of-the-mind genius down. It was the nerdish appeal of its beautiful social simplicity. I was being raised by a single working mother, so it isn’t as if I was surrounded by family wealth exactly, and visiting Dad in prison is probably more life experience than a lot of kids my age had. Plus I was being raised by Baptists and the whole idea of selfishness as being good was anathema for a number of reasons; materialism, vanity, greed all being big deal sins. Harder for a rich man to enter heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle was what I was told. The moral being that not only was wanting things bad but also that having them blinded you to the essential spiritual Truths. Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God…blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…and so on…
(Just try to find that attitude in the republican party of Jesus these days…)
No. What attracted me to Rand and eventually to the Libertarian party was the beautiful simplicity of its ideas: All human interaction is based on trade. To initiate violence is always wrong. A decent stable productive society will emerge from the free and unfettered marketplace. More Is Less! Make It Simple Stupid. Here at last, was the beautiful elegant answer to all our social ills!
What I failed to realize was something H.L. Mencken said many years before I was born:
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
I thank Ronald Reagan for showing me the error of my ways…
The shining city on the hill Reagan promised America…look, look…here it is:
The greatest examples of libertarianism in action are the hundreds of men, women and children standing alongside the roads all over Honduras. The government won’t fix the roads, so these desperate entrepreneurs fill in potholes with shovels of dirt or debris. They then stand next to the filled-in pothole soliciting tips from grateful motorists. That is the wet dream of libertarian private sector innovation.
On the mainland there are two kinds of neighborhoods, slums that seem to go on forever and middle-class neighborhoods where every house is its own citadel. In San Pedro Sula, most houses are surrounded by high stone walls topped with either concertina wire or electric fence at the top. As I strolled past these castle-like fortifications, all I could think about was how great this city would be during a zombie apocalypse…
October 20th, 2014
by Bruce |
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This came across my Facebook stream just now…
IMO the constitution does confer a right to individual citizens to own their own firearms. IMO the right to own your own firearms is an eminently democratic right. I own a few myself, though I’m not an NRA member (have you Seen the people they endorse for public office??). And every time I hear someone babbling that private gun ownership is a check on government power, that it was intended by the founders to prevent tyranny, I just want to scream.
The ballot box is our check on government power! Without that America is a lost dream of liberty and justice for all and it won’t matter how many guns you own. How can anyone seriously think a disorganized armed rebellion can possibly succeed against a government that has, never mind the shear force it can bring to bear on a situation, the vast array of intelligence gathering technology it can put to use. They weren’t shooting everyone right and left in East Germany during the cold war. They didn’t need to. They just watched…everyone.
It is pure absolute genius how the tyrannical right manipulates this issue so they can keep chipping away at access to the ballot box. Do you approve? Do you think they won’t come after your vote too? Do you think that when Those Awful Other People can’t vote anymore you’ll finally get your country back? Lenin had a way of describing people like you.
August 19th, 2014
You Should Wonder About This From Time To Time…
by Bruce |
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Walking in to work this morning, I came across a small and very old woman trying hard to push her loaded grocery cart across the street before the light changed. She didn’t make it, so I stood out in the street and waved oncoming traffic around her. She looked to be going from the big new Giant into the rowhouse neighborhood just down the street from that intersection which wasn’t too far for her to go. But at that age nobody moves very fast either.
She began struggling to get her grocery cart up over the curb and onto the sidewalk and I walked over to help her. It took me back years.
I was raised by a single working mother, and grew up in a household that couldn’t afford a car until I was well into my teens. One of my duties as the “man of the house” was pushing the loaded grocery cart back home from the store a couple miles away. It wasn’t difficult, not even for a young boy. If you balanced the load just right on the wheels once you got it moving it was pretty much easy to keep it moving.
When I was 7 or 8 and I would look down at the wheels and pretend I was driving a car.
Nowadays the grocery carts have four wheels on them. I suppose that’s for older people like the lady I was helping just then, who couldn’t always keep a two wheeled cart balanced. We struggled together getting her cart up off the road and onto the sidewalk, she had the thing pretty well full. I’m guessing it was her food for the next couple weeks. But we got it up and she thanked me and went on her way, happy I hope to see a little politeness still left in the world.
I looked up. The light had turned red again and a city police car was stopped right there at the crosswalk. The cop inside was looking at me, smiled and nodded and I smiled back and went on my way. I suppose it does the police good to see people actually helping each other out from time to time too.
…and then I wondered what would have happened had I been a young black male and he saw me and that old woman struggling there with that grocery cart.
March 16th, 2014
The Closet Is The New Tolerance
by Bruce |
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The story, as passed down to me, is that several generations back on mom’s side of the family, an Irish man fell in love with an English woman who also loved him very much. And against the wishes of both their families they married. And were promptly disowned by both their families. So they came to America, and that is why mom’s side of the family tree became Americans.
I could see it…the lovers wanting to come to the New World instead of settling down somewhere in England or Ireland away from their respective families. Even at a young age I understood that the English and Irish didn’t get along very well. It wasn’t until I scratched below the surface of the history the books like to call the Great Potato Famine that I began to grasp why it was such a hard history to put to rest, why the old hatreds kept boiling over. What I never got was why the Irish kept facing ignorant discrimination here in America too. Wasn’t this the Great Melting Pot? Wasn’t this the land of the Golden Door? Some years back, while perusing the stands at the big Labor Day Flea Market in the little Virginia town mom had retired to, I saw a No Irish sign for sale along with other signs from ugly days gone by. White Only. Colored Entrance. No Indians Served. They made my skin crawl, yet I hoped someone was preserving all that. I’d been out of the closet for about two decades by then, and had experienced over and over how bigots could be alternatively proud of their cheapshit prejudices, righteous even, and then suddenly turn on a dime and deny they had a prejudiced bone in their bodies.
We don’t discriminate against homosexuals…we are moral people who believe that open sexuality has no place in public… The double standard being of course that an opposite sex couple holding hands in public is but a simple little display of their mutual love and affection that should put a smile on everyone’s faces, whereas when a same-sex couple does exactly the same thing they’re flaunting their sexuality in everyone’s faces. We don’t care what you do in the bedroom…just keep it there…
I don’t think in my entire life I ever saw a No Gays sign, or a want ad that said Gays Need Not Apply. But you always knew what would happen to you, the moment you stepped out of the closet. Our struggle was about the closet. It was always about the closet. As long as we had to stay in the closet the only things people would know about us was were the lies. I grew up with those lies. I knew how they were killing us, how they would always keep killing us, until we could live our lives openly, without fear, and people could see us for the human beings we were, not the monsters they were constantly being told we were.
This came across my news stream this morning…
Foster and his friends and neighbors are not marching Sunday as part of a gay organization. They are marching as South Boston residents who have coalesced around building a park in a corner of the neighborhood known as the Lower End. Many of the people working on the float just happen to be gay. And they have been embraced by the Allied War Veterans Council, the parade’s longtime sponsor.
That would be the longtime sponsor that took their right to discriminate against their gay Irish neighbors all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won a pyrrhic victory. Every year now the breadth and depth of notable people, politicians and companies boycotting these No Homo parades grows. But Boston Globe reporter Andrew Ryan would like us to know that diversity is afoot this year in South Boston. Yes…a Tolerance Float built by gay south Bostonites has been accepted into the parade. No..embraced. And I can see exactly why they were embraced too…
“They know us as their neighbors first and as gay second,” said Foster, an Air Force veteran who served in Desert Storm and who has lived with his husband in South Boston for seven years. Of outside gay groups coming in and hoping to march, he said: “How in the world do you ever get compromise if the first statement out of your mouth is, ‘I’m different than you?’ ”
Compromise. Yes, quite. And the compromise between staying in the closet and being out is you pretend you aren’t being pushed in and they pretend they didn’t push you. Such a deal.
“The only way for this to work was to keep quiet. We had to wait it out and prove what we said when we first started, that we’re not here to make a big statement,” Foster said last Saturday, taking a break from float construction. “We all thought, if we just show up on parade day and we march and have a cool float, people will understand.”
There was a time I thought I was working toward this “understanding” myself. I kept it low key among certain friends…I figured by giving their sensibilities breathing room I was giving them time to work out for themselves how everything they thought they knew about homosexuals was wrong. I could be the living example that taught them to see past their assumptions and prejudices. But prejudice is by definition irrational, and in the end I discovered all that was happening was they thought they were teaching me to keep it quiet.
Never doubt, that this is what the Allied War Veterans Council thinks they’re teaching the gays. The compromise from their point of view is they’re willing to let people they know to be homosexual into the parade. As long as they…you know…keep it quiet…
Lead parade organizer Philip J. Wuschke Jr. acknowledged that the inclusion this year of two groups with gay marchers represented “a little bit of a step,” but he pushed back against the assertion that the parade is intolerant.
“Gay people march in this all the time. Every year. This isn’t the first time,” Wuschke said. “We don’t ban gay people. We ban groups that are trying to make a statement.”
This is the sort of convenient circumlocution people use to prevent themselves from looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing a bigot staring back at them. It’s also pathetic. Does this man truly know nothing of the history of Irish people in the United States that he can honestly believe the St. Patrick’s Day parades do not now and never did have a political overtone to them?
Celebrating a people and their history is making a statement. So is excluding a people. Being proud of who you are is making a statement. So is telling someone to hide what they are in exchange for acceptance.
And when gay people willingly closet themselves in exchange for acceptance they are also making a statement. They may think it’s a statement about building bridges, but in reality it’s a statement of self worth. That is what Allied War Veterans Council is happy to have finally taught them. The Irish have a long and hard history they can be proud to have endured and overcome. Gays…well…they just have sex. And Irish gays are best not spoken of in public.
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