Thursday, July 2, 2015

What would reduce gun violence? More corporal punishment says one person...

I read a letter-to-the-editor in the Columbus Dispatch today, which, three hours later, still has me in a pose that you'll likely be able to find under "WTF" in the urban dictionary. The letter was written by Bruce Miller of Columbus, Ohio, entitled, "Gun violence rose from lack of discipline."

I'll allow Mr. Miller to explain his solution to the issue of gun violence himself, picking up at around the midway point of his letter:

"...How many Sandy Hook schools, Aurora, Colo., theaters and Charleston churches do we need for our government leaders to realize that gun control is not the answer? We need to bring back corporal punishment in the school system and at home.

As a 56-year-old, I can still remember times when I got the so-called 'board of education' at home and school, but today that is outlawed, at least in school. The young people growing up today do not have the discipline they need, yet they are the common denominator in much of today's violence.

The murder of four adults last week in South Linden, and the fact that a 16-year-old has been charged, is testiment to that. Government leaders need to reform the root of the problem while treating the symptom today."

I love how Mr. Miller believes a trend can be confirmed by one incident.

"Gun violence is all about the kids nowadays not getting enough discipline! Did you hear about that one 16-year-old that killed four adults last week? That just goes to show you!"

While he's at it, he might as well make the following claims:

- "Did you hear about that 3-year-old that accidentally shot his mother? Just goes to show you babies are cold-blooded killers and need to be shaken more!"

- "I read just the other day about this gay dude yelling at a neighbor's dog that bit him. What did I tell you? Homosexuality leads to the verbal abuse of animals!"

- "Didn't I tell you he was the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball? He couldn't have better illustrated that fact by getting the first batter out in the first inning of this game!

Secondly, how did the mass shootings Mr. Miller mentioned prove gun control isn't the answer? None of these incidents resulted in the federal government passing stricter gun control laws. President Obama did all he could with the power he had to prompt executive orders pertaining to gun violence, however, not even after 20 6- and 7-year-old kids were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school did Congress pass stricter nationwide gun laws. So, his point is moot. He would have made just as much sense (meaning none at all) if he uttered the following line:

- "These gun crimes just go on to show that crack and heroin legalization in this country is not the answer!"

Finally, while some middle-aged to elderly adults still believe corporal punishment is the way to go, research is not on Mr. Miller's side here.

I just Googled "corporal punishment studies" and here are the top results:

- "Parent's Use of Physical Punishment Increases Violent Behavior Among Youth"

- "Physical punishment tied to aggression, hyperactivity"

- "Study links physical punishment of kids to adult mental disorders"

- "Hitting Kids Increases Their Risk of Mental Illness"

- "Physical Punishment and Mental Disorders"

I think you get the picture. There are hundreds of such printed studies which all say the same exact thing: An increase in corporal punishment leads to an increase in violent behavior and mental disorders.

So Mr. Miller and those like him may want to rethink their position. An increase in corporal punishment wouldn't decrease gun violence; it'd likely increase it. Let's also think a little more logically and consistently about such matters. How much sense does it make to believe hitting this nation's youth will decrease gun violence, yet passing stricter gun laws won't?

Mr. Miller: "What's with all this gun control talk? That's not going to do anything to decrease gun violence!"

A common sense voice in his head named Woodstock: "It's worked in states where it's been implemented and in other countries..."

Miller: "Whatever! That's NOT the answer!"

Woodstock: "Okay, so what is the answer?"

Miller: "Beating our kids again! At school, at home, everywhere!"

Woodstock: "Uh... Say what?"

Miller: "You heard me! With our hands, our belts, paddles, whatever we can find! We smack them hard and smack them good!"

Woodstock: "Wouldn't that lead kids to become more angry, to think violence is the answer, and thereby be more prone to being violent themselves?"

Miller: "Uh..."


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Just how offensive are the Confederate and rainbow flags? Just ask the Washington Post...

Last week, I wrote about how some conservatives were insisting that if the Confederate flag had to come down due to the hate and intolerance associated with it, so too did the rainbow flag. I know, apples and Big Macs, right? Well, just yesterday, The Washington Post released an article entitled, "Which is more taboo? The Confederate flag or the rainbow flag?"

The article spoke in-depthly about a poll that was conducted by The American Panel Survey (TAPS) in November of last year. The poll revolved around offensiveness - in particular, how offensive the Confederate flag, rainbow flag, n-word, and a burning flag (U.S.) were. While a very high percentage of Republicans and Democrats found the n-word and an American burning flag to be offensive, they greatly differed in opinion with regard to the Confederate and rainbow flags. While less than 50% of Republicans found the Confederate flag to be offensive, close to 70% were offended by the rainbow flag. In contrast, while 75% of Democrats found the Confederate flag to be offensive, just a little over 25% found the rainbow flag to be.

Elaborating further on the matter, the article states the following:

"A more complete analysis shows that being male, low-income, less well educated, Southern, white and Republican are related to reporting a lower level of offense at the Confederate flag. In contrast, being younger, non-Southern, Democrat and white are associated with reporting a lower level of offense at the gay pride flag."

So, Republican politicians can talk all they want about how their party is the party that abolished slavery (you know, back when progressives filled their party), in 2015, less than 1 in 2 Republicans are offended by a flag that symbolizes slavery and close to 3 in 4 are offended by a flag that symbolizes a fight for equality.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sorry, I don't feel much empathy for those fighting against equal rights

Last night, I read an article by a pastor by the name of Rob Shepherd with regard to the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling and how people on both sides of the marriage equality debate should be more empathetic of one another. To his credit, Shepherd wrote in a very respectful manner and seemed to genuinely believe what he was saying. In most instances, I'd say he makes a great point, but I don't think that's the case here.

Both he and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly made sports analogies with regard to the public's reaction, saying that those celebrating were like sore winners, rubbing the victory in the face of their opponents, I'm sorry, but I just don't see things like that. I see it more like an athlete, embattled with health issues for most of his or her life, fighting through to qualify in and win a gold medal in the Olympics, and celebrating. This is what the LGBT community has had do deal with for all of their lives. Many tried to deny who they were for fear of rejection from friends, family, employers, coworkers, and members of the church. This led many to abuse alcohol, drugs, and live promiscuously, as they wanted to deny their true identity. After finally feeling comfortable with their sexuality, they then had to fight for equality both inside and outside of the workplace, try to convince those around them they were normal human beings just like everyone else, and had to try to convince voters and the government that they deserved equal rights under the law. There has been talk about an amendment being added to the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Many politicians have tried linking gay marriage to pedophilia, polygamy, and beastiality. Some members of the LGBT community have been fired from their jobs after it became known they were gay (or transgender). Some have been refused service. Some have even been disowned by their families. So when word came out Friday morning that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gays being legally allowed to wed in all 50 states, homosexuals and their allies weren't celebrating to rub the victory in the face of those whom disagree with the decision; we were celebrating a long, hard fought victory for equality and against oppression.

That's what many of these Christian fundamentalists have a difficult time understanding. Many have taken their legal rights for granted. They didn't have to hide the fact that they were heterosexual from their families and employers for fear of being disowned or fired. They didn't have to worry about visiting their partners in the hospital. They didn't have to worry about getting married or of adopting children. They didn't have to worry about being demonized and condemned by members of their church for their relationship. They didn't have to worry about the government trying to permanently prevent them from getting married. That's where the true empathy is lacking in my opinion. While these very far-right heterosexual Christians may never be able to fully grasp what members of the LGBT community have gone through, if they simply tried to empathize with them, perhaps they'd be able to feel differently about matters, and instead of feeling like homosexuals and their allies were rubbing the Supreme Court ruling in their faces, they could understand why we were celebrating in the first place.

On the other side of the empathy equation, though, I'm sorry, but I don't feel much of it for those whom have been trying to deny equal rights to LGBTs for decades. I wouldn't have felt any empathy for those whom fought against women's rights or African-Americans' rights when they were granted equal protections under the law. I mean, what would they want me to say? "While this group of people was forced to be slaves for many years, I just want you to know that, while I fully agree with abolishing slavery, I understand and feel bad for people, like yourself, who still wanted to treat this group of people as slaves. Aw. Boo-hoo. Here, let me hand you a box of tissues."? I don't think so. Even when reading what I just wrote, I can't help but hear myself uttering such a line in a very sarcastic manner. Through the years, gays have been: Beaten, hospitalized, hung, fired, denied service, demonized, condemned, persecuted, abandoned, disowned, and bullied for who they are by people whom adamantly opposed the Supreme Court ruling on Friday. Then, after gays are granted marriage equality across the land, they seriously want homosexuals and their allies to empathize with them? I don't think so. Friday's ruling was a moment to celebrate victory, to celebrate equality, to celebrate humanity, and if some people take issue with that, then I'm afraid they may want to take a long hard look in the mirror, because it's their own fricking problem.

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 24,066 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

The ten books I've written and released in the past 4 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

Monday, June 29, 2015

My review of Muse's "Drones"

After several listens through, the time has finally come for me to review the new Muse album, Drones. I'll start by describing and grading each and every song (also sharing a link to the songs) before providing my overall review of the album.

1. "Dead Inside" (8.25/10): This song, the first official single off the album, is definitely a grower, I had no idea what to think upon first hearing it. The first couple of seconds made me wonder if I was about to listen to a Backstreet Boys song, before it settles into a nice funky groove, juxtaposing a catchy, upbeat tempo with a dark theme. In the latter part of the song, Matt Bellamy sings with more soul than I've heard in quite some time, which is both quite powerful as well as refreshing. (

2 and 3. "Drill Sergeant" + "Psycho" (8/10): While this song was not technically released as a single, it was the first song released from the album. It begins with a drill sergeant appearing to go Full Metal Jacket on a U.S. soldier, yelling, "Your ass belongs to me now!," before a nice, hard-rocking riff takes center stage - a riff the band has used live at the end of songs since 1999. The track may be a bit long and repetitive, but is still a great deal of fun, and is sure to be a smash hit live.

4. "Mercy" (7.5/10): Like with "Dead Inside," the second single off Drones, "Mercy," is another grower. It begins with an introduction similar to the band's song "Starlight" from their 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations, but the similarities largely end there. Bellamy again sings with soul during the song's chorus, before it, like many Muse songs, gets magnified in its latter portion.

5. "Reapers" (9.75/10): The intro to this song sounds like a darker version of Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher," before going into head-banging riff mode. It's a prog rock fan's wet dream, as "Reapers" feels like three different songs combined into one, yet with all three songs nicely flowing into one another. Bellamy's guitar solo is arguably one of his best and the song's outro is the band's most head-bang worthy moment since the Origin of Symmetry and Absolution days, reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine's "Freedom," with an eerie edge to it. This is definitely one of my favorites off the album and quite possibly one of my all-time favorites from the band.

6. "The Handler" (10/10): "Reapers" leads right into "The Handler" with seeming ease, as it's an extremely heavy and dark track, reminiscent of the band's earlier efforts, and without question, my favorite off this album. The song has a similar feel to the title track off the band's debut album, Showbiz, albeit heavier and more polished. While I've liked a lot of the band's tracks from their previous couple of albums (The 2nd Law and The Resistance), this is the most goosebump-worthy track I've heard since Black Holes & Revelations. The guitar solo has been described by some as repetitive and overly long, but the differentiation and build-up of the percussion helps to offset that in my opinion. Bellamy then closes the song out singing with a great deal of soul, which only helps to spread the goosebumps further. I'd say this is my favorite song from the band since "Map of the Problematique" and "Knights of Cydonia" off their 2006 album, Black Holes & Revelations.

7 and 8. "JFK" + "Defector" (8.5/10): A portion of a JFK speech is then played, which leads nicely into "The Defector." I've read many people describe this song as the most Queen-sounding the band has ever been, but I strongly disagree (just listen to "United States of Eurasia"). The only Queen similarity I notice is in the back-up vocals during the chorus. Outside of that, the song has a '90s grunge feel to me, similar to the likes of Nirvana or Weezer. The riff is fairly repetitive, but catchy, and the solid solos toward the end help to diversify the song. While it probably won't go down in history as one of the best Muse songs of all-time, "The Defector" does end one of the best back-to-back-to-back series of songs in the band's history (excluding the "JFK" bit). From "Reapers" to "The Handler" to "The Defector," that right there has been enough to make most Muse fans, both old and new, quite happy with this record.

9. "Revolt" (7.25/10): When first hearing this song, many die-hard Muse fans labeled it the worst song in the band's history. Slowly, but surely, however, the more they listened to it, the more they warmed up to it. I've found this to be fairly commonplace when it comes to Muse songs. With a lot of bands, one listen may be enough to cast it as awful. However, with many such Muse songs, it seems the odds are that the more one listens to it, the more they'll grow to like it. Upon first listening to "Revolt" myself, I honestly didn't understand why there was such hate for it. While I didn't think it was the band's greatest effort (not by a long shot), I didn't find it atrocious to the ears, and felt there was room for it to grow on me, and that it did. While I do feel "Revolt" is one of the weaker tracks off this album, it is quite catchy, and is bound to be a radio-friendly single at some point. It starts out sounding like The Killers, before transitioning to Queen in the pre-chorus, and I hear a slight resemblance to Journey in the chorus. Some may find this song to be chuckle-worthy at times, but it's nearly impossible not to tap one's finger to the beat and even sing along if no one's watching.

10. "Aftermath" (7/10): Like songs before it, "Aftermath" is also a grower. If Muse were to ever write a true rock ballad, this is it. It starts with a rather eerie-sounding solo, before Bellamy sings soulfully, a beat finally kicks in, and then he again works his magic with another solid and eerie guitar solo. The song closes with a "Heal the World" vibe, as several other voices surround Bellamy's in such a fashion, which I've read some describe as cheesy-sounding but I don't feel detracts from the quality of the song at all. While this song has grown on me some, it's still one of my least favorite songs off the album. In my opinion, the guitar work is this song's strong suit, and while it may change with additional listens, I've yet to feel a true connection to this song.

11. "The Globalist" (9.5/10): Before reviewing the song at all, I have to say I think it was a mistake by the band to label this as a sequel to the fan-favorite "Citizen Erased" and I also think it was a mistake by the fans to expect a carbon copy of the before-mentioned song off the 2001 album, Origin of Symmetry. This song sounds nothing like "Citizen Erased," however, due to the drastically different elements combined in this 10-minute epic, I can understand why the initial comparison was made. It starts with a Western (film) type of feel to it through the 3-minute intro, before Bellamy sings his first word. A minute and a half later, the song reaches it's third chapter, and the guitars and drums come out a-blazing in possibly the hardest two minutes of rock the band has ever produced on record. It then closes with a three-and-a-half minute piano bit somewhat reminiscent of the one in "United States of Eurasia." Simply put, this is a trip of a song. The three drastically different songs in "The Globalist" could probably work as individual tracks, but crazily enough, they work in a combined effort in this one, and the end result is one of my three favorite tracks off this album. When listening to this track, my suggestion is, like with most Muse songs, just don't go in with expectations, just go with it, and you may be quite pleasantly surprised by the result.

12. "Drones" (6.5/10): Like at other points in this album, "The Globalist" perfectly leads into "Drones," which is an a capella track, featuring many layers of Matt Bellamy's voice, before they all combine to sing "Amen." It's a pretty sounding song and is a fitting close to this concept album, but in all honesty, it's my least favorite track on this album, and unless I listen to the album from beginning to end, the chances are slim I'll be listening to this song at all.

Total: 82.25/100 = 82.25%

Grade: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Review: While I don't think this concept album reaches masterpiece status, if "Aftermath" and/or "Drones" grow on me any more, I may change my mind about that. The album is musically strong and diverse throughout. The lyrics may be a bit too heavy-handed for some, but as is typical, they're interesting and don't negate the exceptional musical element of the album. The main character in the story is an embattled, traumatized, brainwashed soldier, who has been become numb of feeling, and in essence, has become drone-like, before revolting. The story appears to be multi-layered, as the main character of it is symbolic of the population at large - becoming increasingly dependent on machines, technology greatly expanding, and real human emotion and empathy have appeared to be progressively declining as a result (again, becoming drone-like). The album's conclusion is anything but definite, providing room for interpretation and debate, which I happen to like quite a bit. Drones is definitely the most cohesive album the band has released since 2006's Black Holes & Revelations. The songs flow together nicely and the altering moods are quite fitting. Drones starts with a rather dark feel to it before the main character is able to come to terms with his predicament, feel again, and decides to revolt. "The Defector" is where the album starts to significantly shift in mood, before "Revolt" and "Aftermath" go even further in that direction. "The Globalist" provides a different take on things, with pretty much every mood and sound from the previous ten tracks summed up in one 10-minute epic. "Drones" then provides the final touch on the album. While I think it may be too early to rightfully compare this album with Muse's other six, I think it's a fantastic record - borderline masterpiece, currently give it 4.5 stars out of 5, and at this time, would rank the band's seven albums in the following order:

1) Black Holes & Revelations (2006): 5 out of 5 stars

2) Drones (2015): 4.5 out of 5 stars

3) Absolution (2003): 4.5 out of 5 stars

4) Origin of Symmetry (2001): 4.5 out of 5 stars

5) The 2nd Law (2012): 4 out of 5 stars

6) The Resistance (2009): 3.5 out of 5 stars

7) Showbiz (1999): 3.5 out of 5 stars

Stop referring to homosexuality as a "lifestyle"

Following the Supreme Court's landmark marriage equality ruling on Friday morning, social networking sites spread the news faster than the NRA spreads fear and paranoia, and while most of the posters (from my vantage point anyway) appeared to be in quite the celebratory mood, there were of course a few whom were disappointed. With regard to the latter group, one such post I read was a Facebook meme, attributed to Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, but which was really said by pastor Rick Warren, and said this:

"Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate."

First of all, these words weren't uttered by Phil Robertson, so please stop including his picture on the memes.

Secondly, and more importantly, stop referring to homosexuality as a "lifestyle." A lifestyle is, according to the dictionary, "The habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group."

Homosexuality is not a lifestyle, it's part of who a person is - an essential component to their identity. Do these same people call heterosexuality a lifestyle? No, of course not. So, let's cut the crap. Here's what Rick Warren's quote was and how it can be translated:

Actual quote: "Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate."

Translation: "Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's identity, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate."

What that really means: "If we think you're a sick, immoral person that goes against what we've interpreted to be God's rules, even though we never wrote them ourselves and have little idea if they're true or not, we're going to judge you, condemn you, and dislike you, but attempt to cover up our bigotry by claiming we just disagree with your way of life and not you, the actual person."

Such quotes just mask a person's prejudice and overall dislike of the LGBT community. It reminds me of the saying, "Hate the sin, not the sinner." Sure, if this phrase were used consistently for every sin, then I may be a little more forgiving. However, 9 times out of 10 (that may be an understatement), I hear it used in reference to homosexuality, and once again, it illustrates a lack of understanding about this particular demographic. Both of these quotes suggest that homosexuality is voluntary and not innate, even though science and studies continue to showcase otherwise (not to mention testimony from LGBT individuals themselves). So when a person tells a homosexual, "Hate the sin, not the sinner," they're essentially saying they hate the "sinner," for homosexuality is an essential component to the person's identity.

When hearing these two quotes uttered by (supposed) Christian conservatives, I always want to ask the following pair of questions:

1) When exactly did you wake up one morning and decide to be straight? Take your time...

2) Is being white a lifestyle? Black? Asian? Latino? Straight? Male? Female? Again, take your time...

I have a feeling I'll be waiting for a while...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

My favorite reactions by conservatives to the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling

After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality on Friday morning, it was all but inevitable that far-right politicians and talking heads would fill the airwaves with lovely commentary. Here are ten of my favorites:

Canada: Some conservatives said, "If gay marriage is legalized here, we're moving to Canada!" First of all, why is it always Canada? I suppose it is our neighbor to the north, but still, whenever one threatens to move somewhere, it seems to always be Canada. Secondly, Canada legalized gay marriage in 2005, so it looks just a tad silly to move from one country, due to gay marriage being legalized, to another that's had it legalized for ten years. It reminds me of some conservatives' reaction to Obamacare. They said, "If Obamacare is passed, we're moving to Cuba!" Guess who has universal health care? That's right, Cuba. While these conservatives are at it, they should make the following threat: "If these gun control laws get passed, we're moving to Japan!"

God's judgment: Of course, several people have come forward, saying, "In light of this ruling, God's going to pass judgment on our country!" Right. God apparently didn't pass judgment on us stealing the land from the Natives ("Thou shalt not steal..."), killing many of them ("Thou shalt not kill..."), or enslaving Africans, but when it comes to legally allowing two men or two women whom are in love to marry one another, well, that's just crossing the line right there!

Armageddon: Some have even said this ruling means the end of times is near. Yes, God, not for one second, thought about bringing about the end of the world during the Holocaust, the Great Depression, or the Vietnam War. He thought to himself, "Yeah, things are bad, but not bad enough where I feel the need to butt in." Once gay marriage got legalized, though, that's when he said to himself, "Okay, that's it; it's time to take action. I can let all these wars go by the wayside, but gay marriage? I don't think so!"

Burn themselves: One pastor insinuated he was going to burn himself at the altar if gay marriage became legal. Of course, he backtracked after Friday's ruling, but it was still crazy for him to ever suggest such a thing. Does he really think before Justice Kennedy made his decision, he pondered to himself, "Well, I think love is the ultimate form of equality, but I don't want to run the risk of that crazy pastor following through with burning himself, so I'll continue to oppress millions of people's rights in the off-chance of saving one crazy person's life."? Oh, how I love narcissistic pastors...

Divorce: One Christian couple threatened to divorce if gay marriage became legal. Yes, once again, that's quite the narcissistic stand. It's also an incredibly stupid stand. Do they truly believe that their marriage can't be sacred if gay couples are allowed to be wed? What, if they loved the taste of pizza and courts made it legal for gay people to eat pizza, would this result in their taste buds no longer liking pizza? I don't think so. Like I said, stupid...

Sin/morality: The homosexuality-is-a-sin-and-immoral argument is a weak one as well, especially coming from many of the Republican politicians running for the 2016 presidential election. Sure, many of them befriended Josh Duggar, a self-admitted child molester, and received donations from Dylann Roof-inspired white supremacist Earl Holt, yet they still feel they can play the morality card when it comes to gay marriage? Fascinating...

Worse than segregation ruling: A conservative judge in Alabama, Roy Moore, said the recent Supreme Court ruling was worse than the one upholding segregation. Yes, providing equal rights for one group of people is worse than preventing another group of people from having equal rights. While he's at it, he might as well say, "Granting women the right to vote was worse than slavery!" Best of luck with that line of thinking, buddy!

Some of the darkest 24 hours in our history: Following the ruling, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said that these were some of the darkest 24 hours in our country's history. That's funny coming from the guy that shut the government down for 16 days and cost this country an estimated $24 billion in the process.

Tyranny: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee referred to the Supreme Court ruling and the aftermath as tyranny. Equality is tyranny? Was it "tyranny" when slavery was abolished? Was it "tyranny" when women were granted the right to vote? Was the First Amendment a form of "tyranny"? It's no wonder such individuals often times refer to President Obama as a tyrant, because they apparently don't know what the word means...

Traditional/Biblical marriage: As is typical, some have decided to go the traditional/Biblical marriage route with their arguments. Ironically enough, Donald Trump was the latest to use this line of reasoning. I say that it's ironic because Mr. Trump seems to be such a big fan of traditional marriage, he's been traditionally married three times. Between him, Rush Limbaugh, and Newt Gingrich, the three conservatives have been traditionally married ten times. Congratulations!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Strange Moment Of The Week: Coming to the defense of a pair of conservatives

I don't do this very often, but I'm going to come to the defense of two conservatives: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol Palin. Jindal has been the butt of a lot of jokes this week concerning a video where he announced he was going to be running for president, and Palin has received criticism for once again getting pregnant.

While I'd be the first to admit that Jindal's video appeared to be a tad on the creepy side, I also prefer how he went about things (minus the video) over how most other candidates go about making such announcements. I thought it was kind of nice that he sat with his family and talked to his kids about his decision, and even went so far as to ask what they thought. I respect that. I don't agree with Jindal on much of anything as far as politics are concerned, but while the video provides material for easy, cheap jokes and laughter, I think people should lay off him for this. It's nice to see a politician sit down with his wife and kids, ask them questions, and discuss such a huge decision with them. Next time, though, Bobby, you may want to think of a different spot to place that camera...

Bristol Palin is largely receiving criticism due to this being her second pregnancy and being a spokesperson for abstinence-only education. Yes, these two occurrences appear to be slightly ironic and hypocritical, but let's cut it out with criticizing Republican politicians' children. I don't agree with the abstinence-only education approach, but also don't think Palin should feel shamed by her ultra-conservative family for engaging in sex or of getting pregnant. Who knows, with progressives coming to her defense, perhaps she'll have an epiphany, suddenly realize abstinence-only education isn't the answer, that women shouldn't be or feel shamed for enjoying sex or getting pregnant, and that fighting for women's rights is of continued great importance in this country. Hopefully the young Palin can treat this as a positive learning experience, from which she can grow in the future.

I have to admit, I feel slightly odd writing an entire blog where I come to the defense of conservatives, so I'll end it with this - if you want to criticize a pair of conservatives this week, look no further than former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (you could also add fellow Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Texas Senator Ted Cruz to that list, among others). Okay, now I feel better.

Rainbow flags should be raised high!

So, I just looked outside and noticed the world hasn't ended yet. I know, shocking, isn't it?

Sarcasm aside, it's about damn time! Some conservatives, however, seem to be confused by the word oppression, in claiming that the Supreme Court's ruling is an oppression on religious beliefs. I'm sorry, but that's not oppression. People are still free to believe as they so choose. Oppression is a person being disowned by family after coming to terms with who they are. Oppression is being fired from a job due to whom they're sexually attracted. Oppression is being denied hospital visit rights of a partner. Oppression is being denied service because of who a person is. Oppression is being beaten on the streets for looking a certain way. Oppression is being withheld equal rights under the law. The LGBT community has been oppressed for far too long and it's about damn time they're provided equal marriage rights! Congratulations to all of my gay and lesbian friends! Let's all celebrate, raise those rainbow flags high, and continue to fight for equality!

The GOP is only hurting themselves by trying to live in the distant past

While Republicans talking about their party's history with regard to slavery has been trending more in the past year or so, it reached a head this past week when Confederate flags started getting banned more than selfie sticks at construction jobs. I can't tell you how many times over this past week I've read memes, seen videos, or heard comments from conservatives claiming that the Democratic Party is the true party of slavery, insinuating it'd be wise for African-Americans to vote for the anti-slavery Republican Party. While the GOP may think they can only benefit their party's image by doing this, attempting to live in the past is only going to hurt them, and with that, the country at large.

Firstly, as I've said time and time again, the two parties are not what they used to be. When Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the two parties slowly began to swap identities. Progressive Republicans slowly started becoming Democrats and conservative Democrats slowly started becoming Republicans. In the 1952 and 1956 elections, Republicans controlled the Northeast and West, which have always been liberal strongholds. Democrats, meanwhile, controlled the ever so conservative South. Not long after Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, Democrats began controlling the Northeast and West and Republicans started controlling the South. The identity (and electoral) swap wasn't complete until the 2000 election when Democrat Al Gore went on to win in the typical liberal strongholds and Republican George W. Bush did similarly in the conservative South and Plains states. The electoral map has remained this way through the past four elections, with Republicans winning two ('00 and '04) and Democrats winning two as well ('08 and '12). So, let's cut it with the BS. The Democrat Party of 1955 is the Republican Party of 2015 and the Republican Party of 1955 is the Democrat Party of 2015. While liberals and conservatives haven't altered ideologies much in that time-frame, they have switched parties. I would've been a Republican back in 1955. Chances are Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower would be Democrats today. Republican God Ronald Reagan would even have a difficult time making it through a Republican Primary in the modern age. So, I'm sorry to have to tell conservatives this, but you're not doing yourselves any favors by saying, "Come on! Vote for us! Our party was largely responsible for abolishing slavery!" Yeah, and guess what? Modern-day Democrats largely comprised your party when that happened. But keep on trying...

Also, what are these very Republicans insinuating with such subtly condescending statements? They're trying to tell minorities that they're the anti-slavery party, and due to this, more such individuals should vote for them, even though approximately 90% of African-Americans have voted Democrat in the past several elections (and over 70% of Latino- and Asian-Americans the past couple of elections). Are they unintentionally saying, "90% of African-Americans are obviously uneducated, borderline stupid, to not be voting Republican, since we were the ones that abolished slavery"? That's how it comes across to me, so once again, they're not doing themselves any favors by moving forward (by looking backward) with this narrative. 

Modern-day Republicans can adamantly declare all they'd like that they are the anti-slavery party, that African-Americans and other minorities should be voting for them in larger numbers, but they're going to have to prove that with what they do in 2015 and not what progressives in their party did in 1955. They're going to have to fight for minorities' voting rights, as opposed to trying to oppress them. They're going to have to fight for equal funding for schools across states, from the most rural to the most urban of areas. They're going to have to fight for prison and police reform, so that minorities are treated as equals in the eyes of the law. They're going to have to fight for equal rights and opportunities, and not continue to treat some minorities as 3/5 of a person. 

Over the past week, Republicans have continually spouted, "Democrats were the Confederates!" Yes, but that was 150 years ago. Just this past week, Republicans were the ones defending the Confederate flag, which again just goes to show that the Republicans of 2015 were the Confederate Democrats of 1865.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hannity: "Ban the Confederate flag? Then ban rap music too!"

It's really starting to crack me up how some on the far-right end of the political spectrum are flipping out over the Confederate flag debate not going their way. Last night, I wrote about Breitbart writer John Nolte and Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association comparing the rainbow flag to the Confederate and Nazi flags, suggesting that if and when the Confederate flag gets taken down, so too should the rainbow flag. Yes, because just like African-Americans were enslaved in the South, Christians have been enslaved by homosexuals. The situations are as identical as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.

Well, Fox News' Sean Hannity decided to join the crazy party when he made the following comments on his radio show yesterday:

"A lot of music by those [rap] artists is chock full of the n-word and the b-word and the h-word, and racist, misogynist, sexist anti-woman slurs none of those retail executes would be caught dead using. If it's OK for Obama's teenage daughters and people to go into these stores and buy music chock-full of the n-word, the b-word, well maybe we should consider banning that too. We're in the process of banning everything. Just a thought."

No, it wasn't really a thought. This is Sean Hannity after all. I love the redundancy in the first sentence. He must have been pretty angry. "...misogynist, sexist anti-woman..." Not only are the lyrics anti-woman, but they're also misogynist and sexist. I'll be damned. Perhaps he should have added a bit more to make his statement sound even more ridiculous - something like this:

"A lot of music by those rap artists is chock full of misogynist, sexist, anti-woman, woman-hating, slut-shaming, male chauvinistic, fairer-sex disliking slurs!"

There, that's better.

I also enjoyed Hannity's hyperbole at the end of his statement as well: "...maybe we should consider banning that too. We're in the process of banning everything." Yes, to take down the Confederate flag is to take away everything. That's "Deep Thoughts," brought to you by Sean Hannity.

Lastly, I have to ask, what in the hell is the h-word? Oh, is it hell? Whoops. My bad...

Like with John Nolte and Bryan Fischer before him, Sean Hannity's comparison completely misses the mark. It's so off the mark, it'd be like a quarterback attempting to throw a hail mary pass and instead getting called for intentional grounding. The Confederate flag was what the South stood by during the times of slavery, during the time of the Civil War, which they eventually lost. It became ubiquitous across the South again during the Civil Rights movement in the 50s and 60s. It has long been a symbol for racism and slavery. Rap music has been largely dominated by the African-American community, many of whom have family that strove for equal rights during the Civil Rights era, many of whose friends and family still continue to battle racism today, and many of whose lyrics shine a light on all of their past struggles to garner acceptance and equality. So, Sean, your comparison is utterly ridiculous. Banning rap music alongside the Confederate flag would be like banning Holocaust-survivor autobiographies alongside the Nazi flag. Yeah, like I said, utterly ridiculous...