Hurricane Florence and The Will Of God

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas, once again I am seeing posts all over social media about prayers — Prayers for safety, prayers for “calming the storm,” prayers that God would somehow miraculously change the course of the hurricane. At a church I used to attend, there were people known as “Prayer Warriors.” These were people who were “full of faith” who prayed boldly and fervently, convinced that God was not only listening to their prayers, but was POWERFUL enough to respond to those prayers with action. The foundation belief behind this is that 1) God is in control of everything, and 2) Our prayers can change God’s plans.

So if God sends a hurricane our way, if enough people petition The Almighty — people full faith — God is able to “move the mountain” that is heading toward us.

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This photo is obviously faked, because — as we all know — the world is flat, and satellites which take pictures from space are #FakeNews.

If you are a long time reader here, you probably already know how I feel about this issue. I have written about this general topic before (Prayer and God’s Will). A couple years ago, I wrote a post titled “God Had Nothing To Do With This.” If you haven’t read it before, you should. And after my wife was diagnosed with cancer, I wrote a post titled “Fun With Cancer” about “the God who CAN but WON’T.” It is also worth a read (if I do say so myself). You might be wondering why I keep coming back to this. You might be thinking, “What difference does it make? Why do you care? So what if people believe that their prayer circles are making people safer? Let people believe that their prayers have and actual EFFECT on the outcome of this storm. Let them believe in “The God Who Is In Control Of Everything.”

Here’s why it matters: Because “The God Who Is In Control Of Everything” is a MONSTER. And the more powerful God is, the more monstrous God becomes.

Imagine that I threw a football at a little kid… Imagine that I threw it pretty hard. The more control I have over that situation, the more awful I become. If I’m just throwing balls in random directions, and one just happens to hit a kid, that’s one thing… But If I’m able to throw with pinpoint accuracy, and the football smashes the kid’s face, that’s on ME. Now imagine I am ABLE (fast enough and powerful enough) to run while the ball is in the air and stop it from hitting the kid’s face… Imagine I hear people — both friends and parents of the child — PLEADING with me to change the ball’s course (something I could easily do) but I just decide to NOT intervene. What does that make me? I’ll tell you what it makes me… It makes me an asshole. And what the people pleading with me SHOULD be thinking about is this: Why in the world are they expecting a last-minute intervention from the one who threw the ball at the kid in the first place?

And that is why it matters. That is why I want to rain on people’s churchy parades every time I see them post stuff about “Prayers for safety” for people in the hurricane’s path. Because the god you’re praying to is the same god who threw the damn storm at those people! And when you mix this Bad Theology of A Monstrous God with the unwavering belief that God is GOOD, you can see how easily we can end up with confused people who believe that Monstrous is “Good.” Cancer? God’s will. Terrorist attack? God’s will. Trump? God’s will. Deadly hurricane? God’s will. People so desperately need God to be in control of everything that they are willing to turn God into a monster to have it. And when people believe that Monstrous is “Good,” it has real world consequences.

People want to believe in control. Chaos is scary. And if THEY’RE not in complete control, at least they can believe that God is in complete control. But this illusion of control is a cop out. If everything that happens was “supposed to happen,” then we have less responsibility to PREVENT things from happening. If school shootings are “God needing another angel,” we have less responsibility to pass laws which regulate killing tools. And if a hurricane is some sort of judgment because of gay marriage or abortion, we have less responsibility to change the human behavior which warms the environment and makes these storms more and more common.

This issue is one known as “Theodicy.” Theodicy is often thought of as the question of why God permits evil… But even the word “permit” presupposes that God is in control of everything (evil, cancer, hurricanes, etc…). Theodicy is the attempt to vindicate divine Goodness with the existence of evil and the notion of divine providence. Prayer is inexorably tied to theodicy… Especially prayer in the face of destruction and natural disasters. And how we attempt to reconcile these things determines what kind of God we believe is at the heart of things. Is the unifying force in the universe a benevolent Goodness and Love? Or is the unifying force in the universe an All-Powerful Indifference  who CAN, but WON’T? Because either God is Good and less strong than most people think… Or God is Omnipotent and Monstrous. And at times like these — with a giant hurricane heading toward our eastern shoreline — I choose to believe the FIRST one is true. I find it both more comforting, more consistent, AND more beneficial to society as a whole.

 

Hi there! If you value this blog, and you’re feeling generous and cool, you can help support it. You can either BECOME A PATRON and give a little bit every month, OR you can LEAVE A TIP on PayPal. I work at a restaurant, and people give money all the time for bringing them some food or a bottle of wine… I guarantee I worked harder on this than any server worked bringing for food. Either way, thank you so much for reading this. You should follow me ON FACEBOOK and ON TWITTER. And if you want to shake the cage a little, share this post as a comment when people are inadvertently crediting God with the destruction that is about to hit the Carolinas. Take care of each other… and for the love of God, VOTE!

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If You’re Looking For What’s Wrong With The World, Chances Are Good It Has A Penis

When my kids were little, I used to help out in the nursery at church. The church we attended had a policy that men were not allowed to change diapers. Don’t get me wrong… I am in no hurry to change some kid’s poopy diaper. But at the time, this seemed to me like I was the victim of a GREAT INJUSTICE. My fragile feelings were hurt… “Here I am, volunteering in the nursery, and I’m being treated like a second class citizen and kept away from the kids’ diapers, JUST BECAUSE men are statistically WAY more likely to molest children,” I told myself. “This is like I’m being racially profiled, just because I’m a man!” Yup… That’s what I told myself. Then I thought about if I wanted some DUDE in church anywhere near my daughter’s diaper area… Nope. No thanks. Okay, I get it. Men are way more likely to be creepy, abusive criminals than women. I don’t fault anyone for knowing how to read a graph.

When it was discovered that Mollie Tibbetts’ accused killer was a Mexican immigrant, the republicans grossly, racistly, and fear-mongeringly used that fact to push for their border wall (though if the killer were Canadian, I doubt whether they would have called for a wall on our Northern border). But when she went missing and they were looking for a suspect, do you think they were looking for a male or a female killer? Who did YOU think did it? A woman??? Not likely…

After white nationalists used Mollie’s murder to fan the flames of xenophobia, a member of her family (cousin Sandi Tibbetts Murphy) posted a scathing status on her Facebook page (along with an aunt who wrote “Remember evil comes in every color”). She has since made the post (and her profile) private — And I wouldn’t doubt for a minute that it had something to do with the responses of toxic men online — But you can read her powerful response in the screen captures below.

She doesn’t places the blame on immigrants or Spanish-speaking people with brown skin, but instead squarely on the shoulders of Male Entitlement & Toxic Masculinity. The thing is, if it was actually TRUE that More Immigrants meant More Crime, we could have a conversation about that… But as you can see in THESE TWO CHARTS, the opposite is actually true. Immigrants — both legal AND undocumented — are far LESS likely to commit crimes. And the more immigrants an area has, statistically the less violent crime it experiences. But do you know what data we DO have?

  • 89.5% of homicides in America — MEN
  • 96% of homicides Worldwide — MEN
  • 90% of murder/suicides — MEN
  • 12 times as likely as women to perpetrate abuse against children — MEN
  • 98.9% of rapes — MEN
  • 98% of the mass shooters since 1982 — MEN
  • 94.4% of serial killers — MEN
  • 80% of the murders of kids under 5 years old not killed by their parent — MEN
  • 80.4% of all violent crime arrests — MEN

When Mollie Tibbetts’ accused killer was identified as a Mexican immigrant, Latino people all over the country felt it. If a bomb goes off somewhere, or if someone shoots up a mall, or if someone drives a truck into a crowd of people, Muslims all over America are praying, “PLEASE let this person not be a Muslim.” But the common denominator of violent actions is NOT religion or ethnicity… It is SEX. And yet, when news of YET ANOTHER school shooting comes in, I — as a person with a penis — am not sitting around worrying about the gender of the shooter because I’m going to be experiencing fresh fear hatred and discrimination if the shooter turns out to be male. Do you know WHY? BECAUSE THE GENDER OF THE SHOOTER WAS NEVER IN DOUBT! It was ALWAYS going to be a guy who did it. When a man murdered 59 people from a hotel room in Las Vegas, if the shooter had been black, it’d been a race war… If the shooter had been hispanic, we’ve got to Build That Wall… If the shooter had been a Muslim, it’d be terrorism… But since he was a white guy, it was obviously mental illness. But make no mistake: It was ALWAYS going to be a man.

And for some reason, we don’t feel like all of us men should be held accountable for this steady stream of male violence. Because that would be “unfair.” That would be “discrimination.” These people want to use the fact that Mollie Tibbetts’ murderer was an immigrant to discriminate against ALL immigrants, but they recoil at the “unfairness” of talking about the fact that over 19 out of 20 of ALL MURDERS are committed by men. Just like me, as a young father in that church nursery, feeling the sting of “unfairness” at being told that men weren’t allowed to change any dirty diapers. Well… Get over it, snowflake. Maybe Feminists aren’t “Man-Haters.” Maybe they are just people who know how to read a graph.

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I love Louis CK’s comedy… But this man has not made amends. Until he does, he needs to go away.

Yesterday, Louis CK showed up unannounced at the Comedy Cellar. It was the first time he has performed since admitting to sexual misconduct (which is a nice way of saying admitting to masturbating in front of female comics whose careers he had the power to destroy, while using that same power to black list women who came forward to talk about what he did). He received a standing ovation. It had been all of 10 months since he said he was going to “take some time to listen.” Weirdly enough, it is VERY difficult to find someone defending him who is NOT a white male. How strange…

In Oklahoma last week, a 14 year-old girl was repeatedly stabbed by a 14 year-old boy. He moved behind her during a “Welcome Back” assembly, he stood up without saying anything, he pulled out a four inch folding knife, and he stabbed her about 10 times in the upper back, arm, wrist and head. He said he did this because she rejected his advances for a closer relationship… She just wanted to be friends.

This past week it was revealed that Catholic priests sexually abused, molested, and raped over 1000 kids in Pennsylvania, and that most of the abusive priests were moved around rather than being reported to the authorities, their acts covered up by the highest levels of the Catholic Church. This is just yet another chapter to the story of the worldwide epidemic of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests. It would be foolish to attempt to simplify the deep, deep problems within the Catholic Church down to one issue… But the fact that their leadership is ENTIRELY MALE is not unrelated to the Catholic Church’s systemic sexual abuse. You know what? Maybe the Bible wasn’t using the word “man” as a gender inclusive pronoun… I’m starting to think the writers MEANT IT when they wrote stuff like “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

When I write something that pisses people off, and I imagine some crazy person killing me for writing it, it’s not a woman I’m worried about. Want to know who the absolute WORST people online are? Men. Yes, there are a few exceptions to the rule (I’m looking at you, Ann Coulter. Where do you think YOU’RE going, Tomi Lahren?), but by and large, if you run into an truly awful person on Twitter — A person who STUNS you with their grossness and depravity — that person is going to be male. The worst people in the world are men. That’s just a fact. If you compiled a list of the 100 worst people in the world — the most dangerous, the most capable and willing to do vast amounts of harm, the most greedy, narcissistic, abusive people on the planet — how many out of 100 do you think would be men? It would HAVE to be in the high 80’s at least, right? Low 90’s? MID 90’s??

You’re probably thinking, “ALRIGHT! We GET it… Men are shit. What do we DO about it?” Two things: 1) I’m not saying all men are shit. I’m a man, and I don’t think I’m shit… At least not complete shit. It’s just harder for me to UNLEARN the many shitty things the world has taught me about what it means to be a man. And 2) The problem is not masculinity. It is TOXIC masculinity. Toxic masculinity doesn’t mean all masculinity is toxic, just as strawberry yogurt doesn’t mean all yogurt is strawberry. Toxic masculinity is a narrow view and practice of what it means to be a man, and it focuses around aggression, violence, dominance, sex, status, subordination of women, etc… It devalues and dismisses empathy and emotion. Here is a great tweet about it:

Here is another amazing tweet. Please read it a few times, and think about how true these words are: “Once you have been taught to dismiss your own emotions, it is a simple step to dismiss those of others.”

It is “Boys don’t cry.” It is “Be a man.” It is “Throws like a girl.” It is toxic, it is harmful, and it is EVERYWHERE. Our sons are marinated in it. It’s what draws people toward the misogyny of Jordan Peterson. It is rationalized supremacy. It is the evil necessitating the #MeToo movement. It is the beating heart of abuse in the world. It is the engine of war. It is the enemy of equality and peace. And it has got to go.

So HOW? Four things: 1) We have to acknowledge it exists. 2) We have to call it what it is: Immorality. Just because you think something has “always been this way” does NOT mean that it is natural or good. 3) We (especially men) have to speak up when we see it (see the video at the end). And 4) We have to do a better job raising our sons. I have two daughters and a pre-teen son, and let me tell you something: It is my experience that Male Entitlement is a very real thing. And left unchecked, it can become toxic. I don’t know if it’s something we messed up on as parents, if it’s societal, or if it’s biological. I’m not sure if it’s nature or nurture, but IT IS THERE… Regardless, it’s something my wife and I, as parents, have to WORK to educate him about EVERY. DAY. Whether you are raising boys or girls, whether you work with kids or you’re a teacher, or whether you are barely ever around kids at all, we MUST teach people that Toxic Masculinity exists, that it is wrong, and that we need to ALL call it out when we see it. And maybe the next generation will someday teach THEIR sons those same lessons…

If you are interested in learning more about Toxic Masculinity (and the role of the male bystander), this video is a really good place to start:

 

 

If you care about what I do, if you enjoy my writing, and if you value this blog and my voice in your life, I’d like for you to consider supporting it. BECOME A PATRON. A kick ass woman named Melissa just did, and I am so grateful. Or, you can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL. And if you want me to use that tip to boost a certain post, just let me know. You can also follow me ON TWITTER or ON FACEBOOK, or you can just share this post with the people in your life. Stay hopeful… The future is female.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Enticing White Supremacy Of Jordan Peterson

You know who LOVES Jordan Peterson? NAZIS, that’s who. Hmm… Why do you think that is? I’ll get back to that shortly.

Now, undoubtedly some of you are thinking to yourself right now: “Who the hell is Jordan Peterson?” And for those of you thinking that, also undoubtedly — just like when you buy a new car and then suddenly seeing that same make/model all over the place — you will start seeing his name pop up. He is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. He’s written a couple of books. And he is SUPER popular with white people right now… Especially white people who feel really uncomfortable with terms like “White People.” Or terms like “White Privilege” or “White Guilt” or “White Fragility” (This “uncomfortableness,” by the way, is a great example OF “White Fragility”).

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In his book, Jordan Peterson holds up lobsters as “evidence” that patriarchy and capitalism and the sexual binary are perfectly natural. Watch as an actual Marine Biologist kicks him in the crustaceans…

And for many of us white folks who are uncomfortable with terms like “White Privilege” (like I used to be), I think our discomfort usually comes from a very genuine, well-meaning place. We’ve been taught that it’s not right to put people into groups based on the color of their skin. And initially, that’s what this feels like. I remember feeling all “Wait… Are you saying that ALL white people are a certain way? That’s ‘judging a book by its cover!’ We’re supposed to by judging people, ‘not by the color of their skin, but by the CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER!!’ MARTIN. LUTHER. KING. JUNIOR! That sounds like REVERSE racism!!!” Etcetera, etcetera…

It’s hard having conversations about these things when people have different definitions of what is meant by Racism… And these conversations are made even harder by white folks wanting to tell people of color what is and isn’t Racism. But please keep in mind that the dictionary definition of “Racism” is woefully simplistic. Dictionaries were written by white men (as were almost all of the “important” writings of Western Culture), and concepts like this cannot be summed up in a sentence. Racism is MORE than just “not liking someone because of their skin color.” It is more than being prejudiced. It’s more than “They’re all the same.” Racism is systemic. It is a dangerous dance of  Power and Privilege and Prejudice and White Supremacy… Even when that supremacy is subconscious. It can be as subtle and pernicious as “I’m not racist. I like PLENTY of black people… I just don’t like THOSE kinds of black people.” And in this country, Racism and White Supremacy are woven indelibly into the fabric of our nation.

There are more things built into our national identity: The belief in Hard Work… That our success is determined by our effort and our ability. The belief that We Are Good… That we are moral and on the RIGHT side of things. And the belief in American Exceptionalism… That there are other good nations out there, but WE are the best. And in many ways, these foundational beliefs seem tailor-made to stand in the way of combating Racism and White Supremacy.

Take as an example White Privilege. When people refer to “White Privilege,” they’re not talking about “All white people are the same,” even though that is what some people hear. White Privilege is simply acknowledging that there are advantages white people enjoy which we didn’t have to work for. And the other side of that coin is that there exist DISadvantages and barriers to success for People Of Color (due to Systemic Racism). Both of these things conflict with The belief in Hard Work. We want to believe that we EARNED everything we have with hard work… and we want to believe that ANYONE, with the same hard work, can be just as successful. But acknowledging White Privilege is not saying you didn’t have to work hard for what you’ve got… It’s saying that the color of your skin was not something which made you have to work even HARDER.

It is very difficult to give up this Myth of Meritocracy. We are rugged individualists. It’s hard — as white people — to deal with both the fact that we have access to things we didn’t have to work for, as well as the fact that the playing field is NOT LEVEL for people of color. As we become more educated about the abuses that happened and still happen, we may experience something known as “White Guilt,” where we feel guilty about the very real harm that has been done and continues to be done… Though many times White Guilt is more interested in being forgiven than we are in making amends or working to change the injustices we see. At the same time, so many of us have grown very accustomed to the Privilege we enjoy… And seeing OTHER groups take steps toward equality feels like steps toward our own oppression. This is where White Fragility come into the picture.

It is the fragility that comes with the perception that our privilege is eroding… And it is mixed with the deep belief that we are a good people. Think about it… Most people walking around today were rasied on a steady diet of “Racism Is Bad.” So coming to terms with out inherent racism is in direct conflict with The belief that We Are Good. We desperately want to hold on to the belief in our Goodness… But when someone points out that we are complicit in Systemic Racism (and as we all know, Racism = Bad), sometimes all we can hear is “You are bad.” But that’s not necessarily what is being said. Sometimes what is being said is, “You are confused.” Or “You are deceived.” Or “You are better than this.” Or “You are ASLEEP.” Or “Wake TF UP!”

Also, hearing that America is racist is in direct conflict with the belief in American Exceptionalism. “If racism is bad, and America is hella racist, HOW CAN WE BE THE BEST?” (#BeBest) At every turn in the process of recognizing Systemic Racism, it seems America’s foundational beliefs are ready to push back against healing and atonement. Not to mention how easily — since America has been mostly white — one can slide from “American Exceptionalism” into White Exceptionalism… a.k.a. White Supremacy. It’s a big mess.

So what does Jordan Peterson have to do with this big mess? For many, many white people, dealing with this whole “White Privilege” thing has come along very fast. Social Media has increased the visibility of Systemic Racism. Many white folks have been dealing with a lot of White Guilt for a very long time… And when Obama was elected, they thought, “Finally, THAT’S over!” And then Black Lives Matter comes along, and messes with our belief that We Are Good. And where white folks wanted forgiveness and absolution and assurance that it’s all behind us now, what they got was more White Guilt, more Fragility, and more talk about Privilege. And the Guilt is turned to frustration. And frustration can turn to anger. Some are so angry that they pick up their Tiki torches and start marching. But the vast majority of white folks are still playing by the “Racism = Bad” rules… And along comes Jordan Peterson, telling white people they have nothing to feel guilty about. Hallelujah, right?

Jordan Peterson believes in the supremacy of WESTERN Culture. And sure, Western Culture has always had White Males on the top of the totem pole… But Peterson stops short of preaching the supremacy of WHITE, MALE Culture (because Racism = Bad). He just leaves us to figure it out on our own (In a “The cream rises to the top… White people are on the top… You figure it out” sort of way). He rejects the idea that White Privilege is real (or at least that it’s any more significant than any other bit of privilege) because he believes it turns people into “victims” (And in the psychology of human improvement, there is admittedly not much usefulness in thinking of one’s self as a victim). And with this, they can once again believe in The Myth Of Meritocracy. And their success is earned by refusing to see themselves as victims… While the failure of others is solely due to their inability to rise above their circumstances. And when the playing field becomes level again, then Hard Work wins out… And we are Good again… And America is Great Again.

But it’s not just weary, well-meaning white people — tired of being told they “don’t get it,” and frustrated by the constant reminders of inequality — who love the philosophy of Jordan Peterson. White Supremacists and Nazis LOOOOVE Jordan Peterson. And even though he has publicly distanced himself from the White Supremacists and Nazis who love him, Jordan Peterson’s denial of the reality of White Privilege and Systemic Racism necessarily leads DIRECTLY to a belief in White Supremacy. Let me explain how…

Racial disparities exist… Disparities in wealth and housing and healthcare and education and criminal justice. In America, whites are 77% of the population, but they control 90% of the wealth. On the other hand, blacks are 13% of the population, but only control 2.6% of the wealth. And as only 13% of the population, blacks make up 40% of the prison population. Blacks with college degrees are TWICE as likely to be unemployed than all other groups. Black home ownership is at an ALL-TIME LOW (42% for blacks, compared to 72% for whites). There are SO. MANY. EXAMPLES. of these disparities between races.

But here’s the thing: Either these disparities are due to the existence of White Privilege and Systemic Racism, or they are due to one group just being naturally “better” (otherwise known as “White Supremacy”). You can’t argue that White Privilege isn’t a reality while claiming to “not be a white supremacist.” If the playing field is level and our team keeps winning, it’s because “our team” is just BETTER. When you can clearly see that disparities exist between blacks and whites, but you keep arguing that it’s not because of Systemic Racism and White Privilege, you might relieve your sense of White Guilt… But in essence you are making the case that it’s the fault of black folks that they have so much less. And that’s why nazis love Jordan Peterson so much: It is the Social Darwinism of the Nazi Party. They believe racial disparities aren’t the result of Oppression… They’re the result of some sort of moral or intellectual deficiency on their part or some natural supremacy on our part. “They didn’t try hard enough.” “They are seeing themselves as victims.” “They’re weaker.” (Incidentally, this is ALSO why misogynists and anti-feminists love Jordan Peterson so much… He allows them to believe men are in power because men are just BETTER).

And this is why Jordan Peterson is so enticing to white folks… and so dangerous. He lends a sense of academic credibility to White Supremacy. He relieves their guilt. He tells them they earned it all. He tells them that oppression is all in the minds of people who have believed the lie that they are victims, and he allows them to believe they are good people… Not people taking part in some “imaginary” Systemic Racism. He tells them the ones pointing out their White Fragility are the REAL racists. And that feels GOOD to white folks. REAL good…

But this is what you are doing when you INSIST that you earned everything you have… This is what you are doing when you INSIST that black folks could have everything they wanted if they’d just work harder… This is what you are doing when you INSIST that you “don’t see color,” and dismiss race as an imaginary construct… This is what you are doing when you INSIST that White Privilege isn’t real… You are OUTING YOURSELF as a White Supremacist. And there is really no “seeing both sides” of this issue. When people claim they can “see both sides,” what they are really saying is that the disparities are there partly because of Systemic Racism, and partly because white people are a bit better. But either there ARE systems in place that advantage white people over People of Color (White Privilege), or the disparities exist because one side is just “Better” than the other side (White Supremacy).

Which do you think it is?

Here are some really amazing resources for folks who are struggling to understand White Privilege…
“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh
“Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person” by Gina Crosley-Corcoran
“Patriotism is for Black People: Colin Kaepernick, Donald Trump and the Selectivity of White Rage” by Tim Wise
“What I Said When My White Friend Asked For My Black Opinion On White Privilege.” by Lori Lakin Hutcherson
“The Case For Reparations” by Ta-Nahisi Coates

As well as a few other things I have written that are not nearly as impressive…
“Dear White People: Stop Whitesplaining Martin Luther King, Jr.”
“I Don’t Know A Damn Thing About Black Lives”
“13 Things White People Do When You Point Out Racism”
And “When You’re Accustomed To Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression”

If you would like to help support this blog (and with it, help support me and my family while I do the good work of writing) you can do that by BECOMING A PATRON. Or you can simply LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL to help boost a post. Follow my stuff on Facebook and on Twitter. Otherwise, please share this with the people in your lives. And here’s the really hard one (I’m looking at YOU, White People): DO THE WORK. Read the articles I posted. Seek out other ones. Examine the foundations of your beliefs. And then, after you get it, if you see other white folks struggling to understand this, HELP THEM UNDERSTAND. Things will get messy. Their White Fragility will flare up and defensively attack. People will unfriend you… So be it. But it is not the job of People of Color to explain how they are being harmed to the very people who are harming them. It’s OUR job. DO THE WORK.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Our Political Climate Makes More Sense When You Remember That Most of These People Are Still Alive… And Voting.

In 1955, after allegedly whistling at a white woman, 14 year old Emmett Till was lynched. He was dragged from his relative’s home in Money, Mississippi in the middle of the night by two armed white men, beaten and tortured, shot in the head, and then his lifeless body was thrown into the Tallahatchie River, barbed wire wrapped around his neck and tied to a fan from a cotton gin. Emmett’s mother later insisted that his funeral be an open casket, so that the world could see what they had done to her baby. A few months later, an all-white, all-male jury declined to indict the two murderers, despite their own admission that they kidnapped the boy. A year later, with no fear of being tried again for the same crime, the killers sold their story to Look magazine for around $4,000, and admitted to murdering Emmett Till… Without any remorse. Both the men died of cancer before they could be brought to justice. Emmett Till would have been 77 years old this July.

Most educated people have heard of the story of Emmett Till’s murder. But many people look at this tragedy as a kind of racist historical footnote… Something tragic that happened when all the pictures were black & white, but something from which we’ve all moved on. But lynchings still happen in America… sometimes committed by people in uniforms. And those people can be caught on VIDEO shooting black folks in the back as they run away, and juries STILL “decline to indict.” Racism is alive and well in America.

And just like the sinking, disoriented feeling we had watching the results come in during the 2016 election, we are left feeling bewildered. Baffled. Dazed. We WANT to believe we’ve moved past this. We desperately WANT to believe that we are “better than this” as a country. Here in Tennessee, just one county over from Nashville, an election for Wilson County Commissioner recently ended in a tie. A republican candidate named Robert Fields blamed the tie on the fact that his opponent “kept quiet that he is a Democrat, an interracial couple, [and has] two interracial children.” As if being in an interracial relationship or having biracial kids is something a person should be ashamed of. But Fields is aware that — STILL TODAY — people finding out about “racial commingling” can cost someone an election. Especially in this part of the country.  Robert Fields was born in the South in 1948… Making him just seven years younger than Emmett Till would be if he were still alive today.

If you’re wondering HOW IN THE WORLD so many people can still support someone like Trump — an objectively racist and bigoted man — at this point in our nation’s history, this post might make it easier to understand. Our political climate today makes much more sense when you realize that the black & white pictures of our “racist past” are FAR from ancient history. Many of the people in these photos are still alive… And Voting.

Many of the college-aged men intimidating and harassing the protestors during the Nashville Sit-Ins in 1960 are still alive… And voting.

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Look at the expression on the woman’s face…

Many of these confederate flag-waving kids in these photos, angry about People of Color being allowed to go to “their” schools, are still around… And voting.

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“Hey Billy, get on my shoulders.”

These dip shits are probably in their late 70’s… And voting.

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Even back then, Clinton was part of the problem.

Hazel Massery, the young woman in this iconic photograph spewing venom at Elizabeth Eckford (one of the “Little Rock Nine”) is still alive…

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I believe the man in the hat is Hannibal Lecter from the end of Silence of the Lambs. And the woman carrying the folder just figured that out…

And women live even longer than men…

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“States Rights” has always been code for racism. Also, “All I want for Christmas is a clean, white school”? Is that what you decided on? 

This kid with a belt wrapped around his fist was probably taught to do that by his father. And many of these kids are still alive and kicking… And voting.

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“MY PANTS ARE FALLING DOWN AND IT MAKES ME ANGRY!”

And where many of these people have died, much of their hatred, ignorance, bigotry, and racism live on. They pass it to their kids, who pass it to their kids…

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Why do I feel like those dudes are going to start singing “Man of Constant Sorrow”? Also, there is something super creepy about that dude holding the flag…

These people are not only still alive and voting… They are business leaders. They are district attorneys. They are police chiefs. They are elected officials. They are running for office in a town near you.

And please don’t get me wrong… I know that not ALL of the people in these snapshots from our racist past are still as virulently, overtly racist as they were when these photos were taken. But MANY of them are. And you know what? They are voting republican. I realize being a republican does not make someone a flaming racist… But if you’re a flaming racist, you sure the hell are voting republican. Take as an example the two men at the Trump rally with the “I’d Rather Be A Russian Than A Democrat” T-shirts on. What most people DON’T notice or realize is that right behind them there is a man with an “88” tattoo on his wrist (just behind the man in the MAGA hat). This is a well-known symbol for nazis and white supremacists… all allusion to both the “88 Precepts” (a white supremacist manifesto on how to organize a white nationalist nation) as well as code for “Heil Hitler” (with “H” being the 8th letter in the alphabet”). These are the sorts of people going to these rallies… And we should be talking about why that is.

Anyway, back to Emmett Till. In an attempt to preserve and remember the past so we can learn from it, groups like the Emmett Till Interpretive Center work to educate the public about America’s past and current racism. One of the things they do is to put up historical markers, telling the story of Emmett Till’s life and lynching, and of the Jim Crow South. One of the markers they put up was at the site where his body was found. They have had to replace it three times. The first marker was torn down. The second marker was filled with so many bullet holes the sign was illegible. And now, just 35 days after a new sign was put up, that new sign has once again been riddled with bullet holes.

This. Is. America. This is who we are. It’s not ALL of us, but it is definitely SOME of us. We all want to believe that this stuff is in our past. I want to believe it, too. Yes, it’s part of America’s past, but it is ALSO a very real part of America’s present. The hatred that fueled the murder of Emmett Till is alive and well and thriving today… And that hatred is VOTING.

So here are two things that you can do. 1) YOU CAN VOTE. Register to vote. Register other people to vote. Vote in primaries. Educate yourself on the candidates. Vote, vote, VOTE! People literally gave their lives for us to have the right to vote, and electing good leaders — especially women and minorities and People Of Color — is an important part of building a nation that actually values Equality and Justice. And 2) You can make a donation to the Emmett Till Interpretive Center. They are raising money to buy land near the marker, install cameras, set up a new marker, and create an app that helps people tour the locations of the tragic events that ended Emmett Till’s young life… Events which are widely regarded as the spark which lit the fuse of the Civil Rights Movement. You can donate RIGHT HERE. I did. They have raised over $36,000 so far, but they need much more. And something tells me they will be needing extra money to replace things that are shot up the next time.

So there you go… Vote and Give. Two things you can do. And show up. THREE things. Vote and give and show up. I was able to give to the Emmett Till Interpretive Center partly because other folks generously decided to support this blog. If my writing matters to you, and you’d like to support it, BECOME A PATRON. Or you can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL. You can also follow me on Facebook or on Twitter. Or share this post. Vote and give and show up and share this post. FOUR things.

 

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“We Rise Together, Homie!” — The Love Song Of Antoine Dangerfield

OhMySweetMercifulCrap, you’ve GOT to watch this video! PLEASE watch this video. Are you feeling hopeless? Watch this video. Are you feeling powerless? Watch this video. Are you wanting to be inspired? WATCH THIS FREAKING VIDEO! A real quick set up first… This past week in Indiana, a few Latino workers building a UPS hub were unjustly sent home by a racist foreman… Causing the rest of the Latino workers to walk out in solidarity. The brave moment was captured on video in all its giddy, expletive-laden glory by a black man named Antoine Dangerfield. Here it is…

If you are reading this sentence and you haven’t watched the video, seriously stop what you’re doing and watch the video. Even if you’ve seen the video before, watch it again. I have watched it about 10 times now, and I can’t get enough. Here is what happened:

There was a safety foreman who was well known for being racist and discriminatory toward the Latino skilled laborers working on the job site (welders and conveyor installers and millwrights), and he was repeatedly harassing them and doing things to try to get them fired. The workers did not like this man at all. During a safety meeting, he asked one of the workers to translate for him (there were MANY Spanish-speaking people working there), and when the worker refused, the safety foreman got very angry and sent five or six workers home. After this happened, the other Latino workers (in Dangerfield’s words), “got together and were like, ‘Nah. We got families and kids. We’re not about to let these dudes just do whatever.’ So they took a stand.” And they walked out. They weren’t part of any union… They just said, “Nope. Not today.”

And Antoine Dangerfield captured it on video. The excitement in Antoine Dangerfield’s voice is palpable. And contagious. And beautiful. It is the sound of a man discovering that when he stands together with friends, TOGETHER they are powerful. It is the sound of hope and humor and dignity and justice. “This is what I’m TALKIN’ ’bout, baby. I swear to God… They got me geeked UP!” 

And within a few days, millions and MILLIONS of people have watched the video on Youtube and Facebook and Twitter. And for posting the video, Antoine Dangerfield got fired. The company offered him $250 to take the video down. He refused, and they fired him (a GoFundMe has been set up to help him and his son). In an interview with Jacobin Magazine, here is what he said about losing his job:

“It was life-changing to me to see that happen. Because it was like, dang, they really came together. And that’s why I’m not mad about the video, about getting fired. Because it’s five million people who saw that. And it might change their view on things. Empowering people. So me losing a job is nothing compared to the big picture. If we can get it in our heads that we are the people, and if we make our numbers count, we can change anything.”

The workers were not part of a union. It was just an act of solidarity. And I know that when there are instances of corruption in unions, the people who own the television stations MAKE SURE we all hear about it, so a lot of people right now have a messed up, negative view of unions, but hear me when I say this: IF WE ARE EVER TO STAND A CHANCE OF NARROWING THE INCOME GAP, REBUILDING THE MIDDLE CLASS, AND FIGHTING THE KLEPTOCRACY, IT IS GOING TO INVOLVE UNIONS. And that means people have to vote for folks who are pro-union. An imbalance of wealth is an imbalance of power… And when the wealth and power are consolidated in the hands of a few, corruption and injustice thrives. This is something the framers of the Constitution knew, and this is why they gave us the power that is the right to VOTE.

Many states have passed legislation to discourage and in some cases criminalize unionization. These actions work in tandem with efforts to disenfranchise people of color, and make the voting process as difficult as possible. It’s what was behind the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. It’s what is behind gerrymandering. It’s what is behind permanently taking the right to vote away from people who have paid their debt to society after committing a felony (disproportionately affecting the poor and People Of Color). And here’s why: Because people in positions of power do NOT want us realizing we have the power to change things. They want us feeling isolated. They want us feeling discouraged. They want us feeling hopeless. They want us focusing on the president’s unending flow of awfulness and immorality, instead of focusing on coming together with other workers to DEMAND our right to fair wages and human dignity. They want white folks blaming brown people for our shitty jobs and our economic immobility and the fact that we can’t afford to take vacations.

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UNIONS: The people who brought you WEEKENDS.

The people in power (almost exclusively white men) are not interested in educating our children… They are interested in creating good little workers who raise their hands to speak, walk in straight lines, and don’t cause “trouble.” They aren’t interested in us having educations that are paid for by the community… They are interested in us getting out of college tens of thousands of dollars in debt, so that we are forced to work for them. They aren’t interested in us having universal healthcare where everyone is covered… They are interested in funneling workers into certain types of jobs if they want coverage, while the poor among us lose our houses or rely on GoFundMe for our healthcare when we get sick. They aren’t interested in combating systemic racism… They are interested in fanning the flames of racism and bigotry and xenophobia, because if we’re all blaming the people who don’t look like us, we won’t notice that TOGETHER WE ARE IMMENSELY POWERFUL.

The struggle has never been about black and white. The struggle has always been between the rich and the poor… The haves and the have nots… The workers and the ones signing their checks and then laying them off so the owners can make more money by opening a factory in Indonesia, paying those people slave wages, and then using their extra money to get people elected who lower their business taxes while people talk about “America First.”

I understand that I am powerless. But WE are NOT powerless. WE can change the world. UNITED WE STAND; DIVIDED WE BEG! One last thing… Watch this video. Even if you’ve watched it before. We should be watching it at least once a month. It is made of hope and goodness and life…

Alright! I’ve got a new Patron tonight. His name is Fernando. I can’t convey how amazing it is that there are people out there who care enough about this blog to give a few bucks a month to help support me and my family. It is just beautiful. Thank you so much, Fernando. It YOU would like to be awesome like Fernando, you to can BECOME A PATRON. Or, if you’d like to leave a one time tip on PayPal, you can do that RIGHT HERE. Otherwise, just follow me on Twitter and on Facebook, or share this post with the people in your lives. “This is what I’m TALKIN’ ’bout, baby. I swear to God… They got me geeked UP!” 

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 3) Bathroom Humor, 4) All Of The Above | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tennessee Is Requiring All Schools To Display The Words “In Allah We Trust.”

Of course they’re not… Can you imagine? People’s heads would literally explode. But what they ARE doing is requiring all schools to display the words, “In God We Trust.” So if you’re a Tennessee resident, keep an eye out for our state’s most recent step toward legislating and enforcing a theocracy when you drop your kids off at school this month — A law called the “Tennessee National Motto Act” (which passed quietly through the General Assembly this spring, and was recently signed into law by Gov. Haslam) requiring all Tennessee schools to “prominently display” the words “In God We Trust” in their buildings. My kids will be greeted by this sign in the front window of their school…

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“WE TRUST GOD! (but don’t leave your car unlocked)

The bill says that the motto must be displayed in an area where students are likely to see it, and it can even “take the form of a mounted plaque or even student artwork.” Schools might ALSO be lucky enough to find some bearded theocratic tea partier from the area who is willing to make and donate a handmade “In God We Trust” plaque to their local school… That is, if he is willing to take time away from collecting nazi plates and weaponry to make it in his woodworking shop.

This bill was sponsored by Susan Lynn. Representative Lynn — apparently unaware that Tennessee schools contain some students who DON’T trust in God — was quoted as saying, “I think it’s a good message that we don’t trust in GOVERNMENT. It’s not in government we trust… it’s in God we trust.” Of course, sometimes government can be the last line of defense to protect people from the sort of dangerous religious fervor which demands everyone believe the same things about God… Though it doesn’t seem so in this case. Susan Lynn also said, “We hang the Constitution, we hang the Declaration of Independence and other historical documents in our schools, why not the National motto?” Ironically, it seems to me that “Hang the Constitution” is an entirely accurate euphemism for what a lawmaker is doing when she is REQUIRING PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO DISPLAY RELIGIOUS PHRASES.

For the first couple hundred years of America’s existence, the unofficial national motto was “E Pluribus Unum” (“From Many, One”). It was on our coins, and it was on the Seal of the United States of America. Then in 1956 — in the middle of The Cold War and The Red Scare and McCarthyism, and as a way of distinguishing America from those godless Russians — “In God We Trust” was adopted as our official national motto. It first appeared on the two cent coin during the Civil War (to send a message to the South that God was on the side of the Union), but wasn’t on all money until 1957. Around this same time, they added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance (before that, we were just “one nation, indivisible”), and a bunch of states decided to adopt state mottos with overtly religious themes (like Ohio’s “With God, All Things Are Possible” — a direct Bible verse).

Listen… The sorts of folks who make it a point to “fight” for crosses on public property, the 10 Commandments at courthouses, and having “In God We Trust” prominently displayed in public schools are the same kinds of people who like to tell themselves that America is a “Christian Nation.” But the founders of our nation and the framers of the Constitution took great care in trying to prevent the mixing of “church & state” which led to the persecution that inspired many of this country’s original immigrants and refugees to flee to America’s shores. And as Stephen Colbert has said…

“If this is going to be a ‘Christian nation’ that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

These folks are the people who LOVE the 10 Commandments… But why are none of these people trying to get the Sermon on the Mount printed in stone outside of courthouses? You know why? Because they aren’t wild about what Jesus was saying on that mount. They want a Jesus with a sword instead of the Jesus on a donkey. They’re not interested in the “Love Your Enemies” Jesus… They want an “Eye For An Eye” Jesus. “Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS?!? Maybe if that “peacemaker” is an AR-15.” Imagine if they tried etching into stone the verse where Jesus says that if we want eternal life, we need to sell all of our possessions and give the money to the poor. For some reason, I don’t see people trying to make THOSE verses their state mottos… 

As a resident of Tennessee, I live in one of a handful of states whose legislatures are attempting to outdo each other with how much they can “legally” blur the lines between the separation of Church & State. This sort of thing is nothing new for Tennessee. Not too long ago, they tried to name THE HOLY BIBLE as the “Official State Book of Tennessee.” And I’m sure if that would have been signed into law, they would have tried to have all Tennessee schools “prominently display the State Book in their buildings” as well.

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One can purchase a T-shirt with this design at a place called “Patriot Depot.” I assume it’s a lot like Home Depot… Only with less lumber and much more nazi memorabilia.

We are living in a time where the president (along with Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice) is rolling out the “Religious Liberty Task Force.” We are living in a time where many people interpret it as an “attack on their religious freedom” when schools refer to it as “Winter Break” instead of “Christmas Vacation.” This is classic “Equality Feeling Like Oppression” stuff… and it leads to people trying desperately to defend their “right” to their Privilege. 

And this is very similar to the mindset that wants to protect the “right” of “christians” to bully LGBTQ+ kids under the guise of “religious liberty.” This garbage “Religious Liberty Task Force” is nothing more than an attempt to ensure and enforce Christian Privilege in this country for people who are accustomed to their privilege, and can only interpret attempts at equality as oppression. The government’s responsibility should be to uphold and preserve the rights of minority groups looking for equality… NOT to protect the privilege that white christians fear is eroding.

Imagine being a kid who has only ever known God’s name as “Allah” and having that sign remind you of the “real” name of America’s God (No, not “Money”). Imagine being a kid who doesn’t BELIEVE in God — A kid just looking for a safe space to learn — and having to look at that sign every day. Imagine being a kid who has been abused by clergy… Imagine being an LGBTQ+ kid who has been told by her church that “God” hates who she is. Imagine being a kid whose only knowledge of God has been seeing the people who call themselves “christians” while supporting a lying, philandering, narcissistic, misogynistic, sexual assaulter and wannabe dictator… and then thinking “I don’t think I TRUST that God.” Seriously try to imagine the national uproar that would take place if they required all schools to “prominently display” the words “In ALLAH We Trust.” People would lose. Their. Damn. MINDS! There would be calls to take up arms… people would pull out their trip-fold hats… and white people by the thousands would invoke the word “Crusade.”

This week, after my son had been displaying some pretty serious selfishness (a lot of the “Me first” stuff, along with the hypocrisy and budding narcissism that often comes with male adolescence), I tried to do my part to intervene, and hopefully nip any toxic masculinity in the bud. During part of our very long discussions, I had him write down rights that OTHER people are entitled to. Initially, he was having some trouble coming up with things, and I said, “Here’s an easy way to think of it: Think of the rights to which you believe YOU are entitled… And then just figure that other people believe THEY are entitled to those same rights.” All of a sudden, he had a very long list. It’s a basic exercise in human empathy. You “put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” and you ask yourself “How would I feel if I were them?” 

But it seems we have moved far away from being a country of immigrants… A country which views its diversity as its greatest strength… A country of “E Pluribus Unum.” We become something less. We have become a country overrun with fear and ignorance… A country that forces its athletes to stand instead of kneeling to protest racism and police brutality… A country that enforces and legislates the name of the God of the majority being displayed in its public schools. And that’s a shame…

If you value this blog in your life, and you’d like to help support it, you can BECOME A PATRON. Or if you love a blog post and you just want to leave a tip or want to help boost a post, you can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL. Otherwise, just follow me on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER… or simply share this post with the people in your life. One the thing you CAN do — especially if you’re a Tennessean and you don’t appreciate these stupid signs in schools — is this: DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP. Talk to the administration at your area schools, Voice your displeasure. Call your representatives. Don’t make it easy for them to take steps toward theocracy and fascism. Oh… also, I love y’all.

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“Stand Your Ground” Laws Are Simply Legalized Lynchings

That’s what they are… They are laws designed to make it legal for white people to kill black folks when those white people feel threatened… And there are few things more threatening to white people than Blackness. It happened when George Zimmerman legally murdered Travon Martin. It has happened many times since then. And it has happened yet again with the legal murder of Markeis McGlockton by a man named Michael Drejka. Here is what happened…

Markeis McGlockton, along with Britany Jacobs and their three young kids, pulled up to a convenience store, and he parked in a handicapped parking spot. Markeis and their five year old son went inside while Britany and their two younger kids waited in the car. While they were waiting, Michael Drejka approached the car and started yelling at her about being parked in a handicapped parking spot. The yelling escalated. Someone went inside to tell the cashier about the argument outside, and Markeis came outside to see a man yelling at the mother of his children, so he pushed him. He didn’t continue toward him… he didn’t start hitting him… He didn’t pull out a weapon… He pushed him down. Moments later, Michael Drejka pulled out a gun from his waistband and shot Markeis in the chest. Shortly after, he died from the wound… as his 5 year old son watched him die.

The shove and the murder were captured on video. Here it is right here…

That was it. No arrest was made. Markeis shoved a man who was yelling at his girlfriend, and for that, Drejka is legally allowed to send a piece of lead tumbling through his vital organs. A black man shoved a white man who was aggressively yelling at the woman he loved, and for that he received a death sentence… And it’s all legal. In the words of Britany Jacobs, “He was a good man, and all he was trying to do was protect his family.”

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I’ve gotten shoved down many times in my life… Turns out I would have been justified in killing the people who shoved me.

This isn’t the first time that Michael Drejka has gotten into arguments over parking spots at that particular Florida convenience store. The store owner said that in the past he has had to call the police before over Drejka confronting people over their parking at the store, and other patrons who frequent the store have reported angry encounters with Michael Drejka where he has picked fights, used racial slurs, and threatened to kill him. It seems like picking fights with People Of Color was something of a habit for this man.

If this upsets you, congratulations — You have a functioning sense of justice. Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws are inherently insane. I’ve written about the crazy injustice of SYG laws multiple times before (“If You’re Black, ‘Standing Your Ground’ Will Get You 20 Years,” “Trayvon Martin and Dutch Ninjas” and “There’s No Such Thing As An Unarmed Black Man” to name a few). These awful laws have been used to successfully defend people who walked to their car to get their gun, as well as granting immunity to a man who shot a mentally ill acquaintance for making a verbal threat. In the case of Trayvon Martin, they allowed a man to stalk an unarmed 17 year old through a neighborhood, and then when THAT teen defends himself (standing his ground), the killer is legally “justified” in using lethal force. In this current case, a man is allowed to aggressively verbally accost a woman in a car with her kids, and then when the father runs to defend her, the killer is “justified” in shooting the man defending his family. 

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Stand Your Ground laws have never been about Justice… They have ALWAYS been about power.

It probably won’t surprise you to find out that these unjust laws disproportionately affect People Of Color. In a STUDY BY THE URBAN INSTITUTE, they found that in SYG (more than half of the states in the U.S.) cases where a white person shoots a black person, the action was found to be “justifiable” in 17% of the cases… While in cases where a black person shoots a white person, that same defense is successful only 1% of the time. In Stand Your Ground states, white-on-black homicides are 354% more likely to be ruled justified than white-on-white. Please read that sentence again… And then ask yourself what the likelihood is that a Jeff Sessions-led Department of Justice will investigate the reasons behind this disparity. NOT too damn likely. This is why NFL players take a knee. And this is why it desperately matters who you vote for.

There will be more black fathers who leave behind scarred kids when terrified white people — emboldened to “shoot first” out of hatred, fear, and lack of consequences — take the lives of men whose very blackness has been weaponized. These laws are unjust and immoral, and they have to be changed. Think about it… If Markeis McGlockton had been armed, it would have been legal for him to shoot Michael Drejka. “Legality” is not a very good indicator of morality. Someday in the future, our grandkids will look back at these unjust murders in the same horrified way we look back at the “legal” lynchings during slavery and Jim Crow. We must come to our senses. It MATTERS who you vote for.

Stay hopeful, my friends. Thank you again to my Patrons. If you value this blog, and you’d like to help support it, you can BECOME A PATRON or you can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL. The other way you can help support me (or any writer) is just to share the stuff you love. Share it on FACEBOOK. Share it on TWITTER. Share it wherever. Stay active. Stay angry. But most of all, stay hopeful. And VOTE.

 

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3 Things About “Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos”

Maybe you have seen this blog post floating around Facebook… The one titled “Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos.” It’s on a blog called “The Transformed Wife.” And like me, you might have even taken taken a few blindingly infuriating minutes to read it. Chances are good you’ve at least seen it — It has approaching 100k Facebook shares (which is a lot), but the hopeful part of me — the part that enjoys my sanity — insists that the VAST majority of those shares come from people who share it in the way someone might share a picture of two people being married by a minister in a KKK hood… or a story about finding an actual live stegosaurus living behind a Pizza Hut. You know, shared with a kind of Horrified, Hilarious, Outraged Fascination… Shared in a “Would you get a load of this crazy shit?” sort of way.

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One thing is for sure: “Debt-Free Virgin Without Tattoos” would look great on a T-shirt. Also, my favorite response to this craziness has been “Running out to get a tattoo now. I think I will charge it.”

Certainly, though, there are a good number of people who shared it because they actually agree with what the author was saying. The post was accompanied by a stock photo of an attractive, young, lily-white woman (whom we can only assume is debt-free, tattoo-free, and as virginal as the day is long), but the woman who wrote it is actually a grandma named Lori Alexander, who describes herself as a “Christian Minister and author.” And she has over 77,000(!!??!!) people who have liked her Facebook page. I, on the other hand, only have about 6000 people who have liked mine (which, by the way, you should like if you haven’t already. It’s RIGHT HERE). This fact alone feels like a direct attack on “the hopeful part of me that enjoys my sanity.” And again, maybe SOME of those 77k people might be there for the occasional horrified laugh… But no doubt there are plenty of people in the world who think the way this woman thinks, and whole-heartedly agree with her message.

I am not one of those people.

So here are three things I’ve been thinking about since I dipped my toes into the craziness that is “Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos.”

1) DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME
Here’s the thing: Anyone who is mired in a stage of human consciousness which allows them to read that article with anything but horror and hilarity and outrage is not going to have their mind changed by any sort of rational argument. The sort of person who agrees with an article like that (or the sort of person who WRITES it) is literally and necessarily YEARS away from the shift in their thinking and understanding that would allow them to comprehend how utterly asinine an article like that is. Trying to “debate” someone like that into rational thought is a waste of time. There are YEARS of work for them to do with deconstructing and deprogramming their harmful ways of thinking about who God is, what the Bible is, what it means to be human, and even the definition of a word like “Goodness.”

If you’re going to spend your time having a conversation about purity culture and misogyny and complementarianism, save it for someone who has shown you some signs of the ability for higher level thinking. When dealing with a person who has spent their whole life being brainwashed in a cult, screaming at them doesn’t help them. It’s a LONG process of getting them to a place of mental health where they can examine the foundations of their own flawed thinking. And when groups are interested in keeping people brainwashed, education is the enemy. Which leads me to Number 2…

2) THE REAL THING SHE WAS SAYING
When she talks about men wanting women who are “debt-free,” she’s really saying that men want UNEDUCATED women.
You know, women who are unsullied by college and higher education and liberal ideas of “gender equality.” In the article she writes, “The husband will need to take years teaching his wife the correct way to act, think, and live since college taught them every possible way that is wrong.” And since most women can’t go to college without some sort of college loans, men want “debt-free” women (though something tells me she would not be in favor of free college for all). Basically she is saying that women shouldn’t educate themselves because men prefer submissive wives who they don’t have to go through the trouble of reprograming. Again, if the harmfulness of this sort of worldview is not self-evident to someone, you’re probably not going to be able to “Rational Conversation” your way into convincing them.

And that’s not even mentioning the harmfulness of the “Virgins” part of it. The title reads like a search on a porn site. I mean, you can literally only have sex with a virgin ONCE… Then she’s no longer a virgin. And this fundamentalist focus on virginity (or even lack of tattoos) is nothing more than fetishizing an unblemished offering to the man. And what THAT does is it teaches girls that sex is a blemish… Instead of something natural and beautiful and good. Then, women are forced to make the often very difficult switch from “Sex = Bad” to “Sex = Good.” This whole “Purity Culture” process is just more reinforcement of the lie that it is what we DO which makes us worthy, rather than the truth that our worth comes from WHO WE ARE — The inherently infinitely beloved children of a benevolent creator, broken and beautiful, and pulled toward goodness… Not out of fear of punishment, but out of the recognition the Image of God in ourselves and in all things.

3) THIS WOMAN IS THE VICTIM OF ABUSE.
One last thing to think about: The woman who wrote that post is the victim of ABUSE. Imagine the years and years of programming… Imagine the layers and layers of shame and self-hatred she was marinated in… Imagine how deeply ingrained a sense of misogyny and second-class-ness a woman must have been forced into in order for her to be capable of writing something like that article. If you look at her (and the people who believe the tripe she is passing along) as people in BONDAGE, it makes it a lot easier to not hate them. Because that is very easy to do. But a conversation is way more likely to be successful where the goal is not in “proving someone wrong,” but instead in SETTING SOMEONE FREE. And wow… There are so many people in the world right now who need to be set free.

Thank you so much for reading. If you believe in my mission to set people free, and if you value this blog as a place that gives you encouragement, and if you’d like to support it, I have some good news for you: YOU CAN! You can become a patron on my PATREON PAGE. You can LEAVE A TIP on PayPal (and you can specify a post you’d like me to promote on Facebook). Or you can just support me by sharing my stuff on FACEBOOK or on TWITTER or as a response when you see that awful blog post pop up. Either way, stay brave, stay hopeful, and stay sane. Love you all…

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Not Everything Is Crap. I Promise.

I know it can feel that way. I feel it too. It can be easy to focus on all the things that are horribly wrong with the world. Supreme Court Justices and demonizing immigrants and immoral, corrupt leaders… It can all feel like too much. I know we HAVE to focus on those things sometimes. But if that’s ALL we focus on, it can make us lose hope. And people who have lost hope are way less likely to vote. People who have lost hope stop trying. And when don’t vote and we stop trying, oppression and injustice and hatred thrive. So I just want to share a couple things to remind you that not everything is crap.

First, this video. In a game deciding which team would go on to the state tournament, pitcher Ty Koen struck out the final batter of the game… Who happened to be his good childhood friend Jack Kocon. Please, PLEASE watch this…

Sometimes the world can feel like it’s filled with videos of people falling down on a patch of ice, or guys getting hit in the nuts, or an overweight person breaking a porch swing, or some other garbage. People park their kids in front of a TV watching “America’s Funniest Videos,” and those kids are taught that the loss of human dignity is “funny.” But in the midst of that darkness, videos like the one above shine even brighter. Friendship is more powerful than any rivalry. One act of compassion is stronger than 100 acts of “win at any cost.” In an interview about that hug, Jack said that “Twenty years from now, I will think back to that game, and I will not remember the score, but I WILL remember what Ty did for me, and that’s really all that matters.”

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So that’s one good thing. And the second good thing I wanted to remind you of is Mr. Rogers. This year for HER birthday, my mother-in-law took our family to see the documentary about the life of Fred Rogers called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” I seriously cannot recommend this movie highly enough. This movie, much like Fred Rogers’ life, is an extraordinary act of goodness and hope. If you have ever trusted anything I have ever said, please trust me when I say this: You NEED to go see this movie. EVERYONE needs to see this movie.

There is a scene in “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” where Mr. Rogers meets Koko the gorilla. Last week Koko died. She knew over 1000 words in sign language, and understood over 2000 words. There is a story about how once Koko tore a sink off of the wall in the area where she lived (which is really nothing for a gorilla). When her handlers asked her about what happened, Koko blamed it on her kitten, Ms. Grey. She signed the words “Cat did it.” And as if that story wasn’t enough to make you smile for a very long time, listen to this… Koko was a huge fan of Mr. Rogers. His show was one she was allowed to watch. So when she got a chance to meet him in person, she hugged him and told him she loved him. There is a scene in the movie where she takes off Mr. Rogers’ shoes… Just like she had watched him do so many times before when he walked into his house. I honestly can’t tell people about that scene — with Koko hugging an old man and taking his shoes off — without tearing up with happiness. And I’ve tried many times.

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One last thing about Mr. Rogers, as we all look for light in the darkness and ways to stay hopeful. You may have seen the footage of Fred singing “It’s You I Like” with a little boy in a wheelchair named Jeff Erlanger. If you haven’t, you definitely need to watch it. But even if you have, please take a couple minutes to watch it again…

The love and attention and compassion displayed here are just extraordinary. Here are the words to the song “It’s You I Like,” written by Mr. Rogers himself:

It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not the way you do your hair–
But it’s you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you–
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys–
They’re just beside you.

But it’s you I like–
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself,
It’s you, it’s you I like.

Jeff went on from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood to grow into a man who was an advocate and activist for the rights of people with disabilities. And when Mr. Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, Jeff was there to congratulate him. His appearance was a surprise for Fred. Watch as an old man leaps onto a stage to greet an old friend and neighbor… And then listen as Mr. Rogers emanates wisdom and kindness and goodness and light and life and love in his speech.

Both of these men are gone now… Memories of goodness. And as I think about a Supreme Court Justice being nominated by a uniquely immoral and broken man, I feel like I’m looking around for a hero. But in times of great darkness, Fred Rogers reminds us to “look for the HELPERS. Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there is HOPE.” And as we look for help, the words of a good neighbor speak from the past:We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people. ~ Fred Rogers

Please do yourself the favor of watching “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” It is self care for the soul. And then ask yourself what is is that you can give this world that no one else can. Because we desperately need the things you have to offer. As Mr. Rogers reminds us, “You’re the only one who can be you.” Anne Frank wrote “Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” Be that single candle. Look for the candle in others. In times of great darkness, acts of love and light shine even brighter. We have got some hard work ahead of us. And we cannot do the work that needs to be done if we don’t have HOPE. My hope is not in the church… At least not the church in the way it looks today. My hope is not in moral heroes like Fred Rogers. My hope is that we can show the world that goodness is more attractive than selfishness and discrimination and hatred and bigotry and fear. My hope is that Love wins.

Stay hopeful, friends. Thank you so much to my Patrons. If you value this blog, and you’d like to help support it, you can BECOME A PATRON or you can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL. The other way you can help support me (or any writer) is just to share the stuff you love. Share it on FACEBOOK. Share it on TWITTER. Share it wherever. But most of all, stay hopeful.

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Calls For “Civility,” and Other Bullshit

When a woman asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave her restaurant, people were so upset by the lack of “civility” you’d have thought the restaurant owner had gotten up in front of the nation on a daily basis and lied to the American people in defense of an objectively immoral, narcissistic, racist wannabe despot who regularly refers to the press as “the enemy of the people.” THEN, when Representative Maxine Waters suggested more of the same — That people “tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere” — people were so angry at the lack of “civility” you’d have thought she stood behind a podium and encouraged violence against protestors by offering to pay for their legal fees if they got arrested.

So now republicans are worried about a lack of civility. The party of “Fuck Your Feelings” is worried about civility. The party who is still chanting “LOCK HER UP!” a year and a half after the election is worried about civility. The people who dismissed it as “just locker room talk” when an immoral man admitted to sexual assault, claimed his accusers were too ugly to assault, and bragged about being able to “grab ’em by the pussy” are worried about civility. The folks who support a man who responded to athletes peacefully protesting racism and police brutality by calling them “sons of bitches” and calling for them all to be fired are worried about civility. And the people calling for “civility” are also the ones who voted for the man who did this…

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“And then a whole bunch of white people calling themselves christians went on to elect him president.” ~ A teacher, someday in the future, explaining the death of “civility” to students.

“Civility” is just political correctness for people in red hats. But — again — this post isn’t simply about pointing out republican hypocrisy… People who can’t even see that Trump is the villain in literally ANY story you could write are probably not very likely to be able to see their own hypocrisy. Anyway, it’s not just republicans who are worried about civility… Many democratic leaders are expressing concern at the lack of civility being shown by people. We wring our hands as Michelle Wolf jokes about how much of a liar Sarah Huckabee Sanders is while she sits right next to her. Many liberal voices are calling for more civility while tone-policing people who are rightly angered by the continued immoral actions of this GOP administration. But imagine someone taking your child, and then when you start screaming “GIVE ME BACK MY FUCKING KID!” people start saying, “Whoa, whoa, whoa… Calm down. There’s no need for that kind of incivility.”

These calls for some etherial concept of “civility” are wielded as weapons against people who would stand up to ACTUAL incivility, immorality, and inhumanity. This GOP administration has a strategy of doing things that are intentionally outrageous, and then acting as if people are “uncivil” when they respond to outrageous acts with OUTRAGE. The party in power is taking steady steps toward genocide, and then when someone says “Fuck genocide, fuck Trump, and fuck you for voting for him,” people are more offended by the word “fuck” than they are by the steps toward actual genocide. “Whoa, whoa, whoa… We can disagree without being disagreeable!” Well, YOU might be able to… Not everyone can.

For example, the man in the video below might be able to stand there and calmly take being taunted and insulted by a racist old woman… Other people might have already reached their fill of being demeaned and dehumanized, and they might decide to yell. Or call her a name. Or both yell AND call her a name. A name that rhymes with “schmignorant schmacist schmunt.”

 

The people calling for “civility” are the same sorts of folks who were calling for “patience” when People Of Color were demanding their civil rights. In a 1957 interview on Meet The Press, Jackie Robinson was asked if African Americans should be more “patient” in their struggle for civil rights. Here is what he said:

“When they say that the NAACP is moving too fast, you know, I heard that… when I was out in Pasadena, California trying to get into the YMCA. ‘Take your time.’ ‘Be patient.’ Patience is fine. I think if we go back and check our records, the negro has proven beyond a doubt that we have been more than patient in seeking our rights as American citizens. ‘Be patient,’ I was told as a kid. I keep hearing that today. ‘Let’s be patient. Let’s take our time. Things will come.’ It seems to me that the Civil War has been over about 93 years. And if that isn’t patience, I don’t know what is.

It’s like when a man beats up his wife, and the pastor tells her to forgive him. Because forgiveness is good, right? WWJD? Jesus told us to LOVE our enemies, and divorcing your shitty, abusive husband isn’t very “loving.” And then imagine a woman with a black eye and an arm in a cast for the second time hearing that, and finally saying, “What a crock of shit. I am LEAVING that fucking asshole.” And then the congregation says, “We know that it’s not nice of your husband to beat you up… but it’s ALSO not very nice of you to use that sort of language!” Insisting that a person who is vulnerable, oppressed, and being abused needs to “turn the other cheek” isn’t love. It is simply more abuse. Turning the other cheek is an act of power and choice… These people have neither.

Patience… Forgiveness… Civility… These are all good things. But if you are using these good things to excuse or prolong abuse, you are doing it wrong. So. Very. Wrong. Don’t let people lecture you about being “divisive.” The goal is not unity… The goal is MORALITY.

I work in a restaurant. I serve people all the time who are Trump supporters. I serve people with rebel flags on their shirts, MAGA hats on their heads, racist bumper stickers on their cars, and hatred in their hearts. But if someone got on TV every day and LIED about the restaurant owner’s family, I’d be willing to bet you the owners would tell that person to find another place to eat. If a person was paid to spread lies designed to harm people whom the owners cared about, few would fault them for saying, “You are not welcome here.” So I guess the question is this: Who do you consider “family?” Who do you care about? Who is your neighbor? Do you care about immigrant families enough to tell a woman who lies to hurt them that she is not welcome in your restaurant? Do you care about families born on THAT side of the border as much as you care about families born on THIS side of the border? Do you care about people who speak Spanish as much as you care about people who speak English? If you did, you might tell a person (who knowingly lies to protect an awful man while doing actual harm to people you care about) “Sorry, Sarah… We don’t want your business.”

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You want civility? You want peace? Start treating “their” kids like they are YOUR kids.

 

Listen, I get it… I know what it’s like to feel bound by expectations of “civility.” There was a time, not so long ago, when I couldn’t bring myself to share articles from “I Fucking Love Science” on my Facebook page (no matter HOW cool or interesting they were) because of the presence of the F-word.  There are many, MANY people who won’t share this article simply because it has the word “Bullshit” in the title. I cringe when I see people yelling “Shame!” while someone is trying to eat a meal. But if anything, there is too MUCH civility in our reactions to the continued abuse and harmful rhetoric that oozes from this administration. There is a fine line between Civility and Complicity. And as Elie Wiesel once said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

We cannot be neutral… We cannot be silent… Even if our refusal of neutrality and silence comes across as rude or angry or uncivil. “Civility” allowed Mitch McConnell to steal a Supreme Court seat. Anyway, I’ll leave you with one more example of sweet, sweet incivility…

If you haven’t already, please read the amazing article by Michelle Goldberg titled “We Have A Crisis Of Democracy, Not Manners.” She handles this topic with a grace and eloquence unavailable to me. Also, if you believe I’m doing something important with this blog and you’d like to help support it, you can BECOME A PATRON. It’s safe, fun, and super easy. Otherwise, if you’d like to leave a tip on PayPal, you can do that RIGHT HERE. And again, you can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter for even more Jesus, Politics, & Bathroom Humor. Thanks again for reading and sharing!

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