On This Morn

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

The Sound of Silence

So, part one of my thoughts on the situation surrounding the Rosa Parks of our generation. You might have heard about this. For reasons unknown to me, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson felt the need to expound on who would be accepted into heaven. He was quoting the Bible and then covered his ass with the “but it is not for me to judge.” So, A&E suspended him. Of course, he had some rather “poor thoughts” on race.

First, A&E has every right to suspend or cancel a show. It is their network. It is funny how the same people who feel a cake maker should be allowed to discriminate are outraged that A&E should suspend Robertson. But here is my concern about the situation. I am a bit uncomfortable with the attempts to silence people who say things we do not like.

Life is incredibly complex. There is a Tumblr called Your Fave is Problematic. Read through it. Sometimes it is informative. Sometimes it is more an excuse to rant hatefully about people someone doesn’t like. The truth is, everyone I follow in Twitter, Tumblr, etc are problematic. Sometimes? Social justice minded people are the worst. They go so over the top, they become the very same person as the people they are ranting against.

When someone says something we find offensive, we rightfully express our displeasure. But so often, we see major pushes to get celebrities fired. Let us be honest, in real life, nobody campaigns to get the bigots in day to day fired from the local grocery. Celebrities are in a unique place. Every public word they express can work for or against them. And hey, you have to accept you might lose your job.

The problem with the campaigns are…well, they really do not do anything. Phil Robertson is in a long line of teevee and radio stars who said something unkind that were met with demands to get rid of them. When they are fired, everyone declares success. They always seem to land on their feet and and the attitudes are still there. And no actual life changing discussions. And sometimes, the attempt to Silence works in reverse…how many attempts have there been to dump Daniel Tosh? Tosh is still around. And rumors are that Phil will, in fact, appear in January Duck Dynasty .

Silencing tends not to be about true justice or changing minds and attitudes. It is about convincing ourselves we won. Except, we don’t actually win. No, it is worse. Those folks we work to silence? They go on Fox News, the Church Circuit or wherever…they preach their message harder, they play the role of martyr and the people who believed them support them more aggressively than before. Their message is pressed on.

What the world does not need? More “martyrs” and “patriots” of the Phil Robertson and Sarah Palin vein.

The other thing? Silencing can very much be used against progressive voices. And that tide could turn unexpectedly. In the pat, progressive voices were silenced. Even recently, gays have been forced by family to go to rehabilitation to be “straight”. We should not pretend reversing against those that we disagree with is somehow good. Reeducation camps are not a neutral concept. Silencing is not a good thing in a free world. The message offered by progressives is better. The message offered by progressives is stronger, and silencing rarely has the desired effect.

Silencing allows the alternative messages to grow. They retreat for only a limited time, because silencing only addresses a single event…not an attitude. Standing up, speaking our piece is going to do more to make a better world than getting a redneck off TV could ever do.

The Preface

I am working on a couple blog postings related to the general reaction to bigoted comments by celebrities and how these things are dealt with. I have conflicting feelings, and so I am breaking them down into (current plan) two posts. One focusing on my problems with “silencing” people we do not like. The second post will address why I do understand that very tendency.

I am opening with this preface partially to ask that if you take issue with the first post, to wait and see if I address the concern in my follow up.

Overall, December may be ending in a blogging explosion of thoughts from me.

Everybody’s Free

free en·ter·prise
noun
noun: free enterprise
1.
an economic system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of state control.

There was a news story on Fox recently which declared Free Enterprise dead. It was ridiculous, of course, for multiple reasons.

Primarily, it was because a Judge sided with a gay couple over a “Christian” maker of wedding cakes. I will be honest, if your Christian faith and view of marriage is so sacred that you will declare you would rather close shop if you cannot discriminate against gays? You are pretty much a lame Christian.

For one? The guy made a wedding cake for dogs. That is not someone treating marriage as a special and unique institution. Problem one.

More importantly, if your “Christian View of Marriage” is so important to you…why do I suspect this guy made cakes for non-Christians, people who were living together, people who were having pre-marital sex…why is he okay endorsing those unions? Problem two.

I have seen pastors refuse to marry people…a pastor and Church have every right to deny anyone access to their services. A guy making cakes is not a pastor or church. He is a businessman serving a larger public. And to be so inconsistent to deny one couple on grounds of faith while allowing others who ignore your Christian values to access your services is pathetic.

Look at the definition of free enterprise again.

an economic system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of state control.

Nothing there states you are free to descriminate. Free enterprise means you can have a business, not have a business and run it like a tyrant if you choose. There is a clear allowance of state regulations. The only person actually threatening this cake business is the guy who owns it. The state has not said his business has to close. That is all on him. The state simply says he cannot be so discriminatory.

Free enterprise still lives, this case is proof of that.

Lord of the Bloat

A common (and quite fair) criticism of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth films is they are expanded and bloated. They often are incredibly busy and sometimes overwhelming in their additions.

And yet, it seems almost ironic. I read The Lord of the Rings books in my late thirties. Truth is, I find them bloated with needless story diversions, such as a 100 page excursion about a guy who proves the threat of the One Ring might be a bit overstated. It goes on and on and on.

Tolkien certainly loved world building (and really, language creation)…almost to the detriment of the story… He wanders on endlessly about the minutia of various languages. He also will spend pages telling us about historical myths and legends of Middle Earth that supposedly give us insight into the world, except they tend to drag the actual story down.

Really, I find the Jackson films are completely in spirit with Tolkien’s works. Entertaining, but bloated with needless detours and an obsession with minute details.

The Unfair Files: But the Real Victim Is The Perp!

Over the weekend I watched a documentary on HBO called Valentine road.

It tells the story of Larry King, who was tragically shot to death in 2008. You might recall the story from the news. On February 12th of 2008, Brandon McInerney(age 14) walked into class, behind Lawrence ‘Larry’ King (age 15) and shot him twice (at least once in the head). The motive turned out to be that Brandon was embarrassed and angry because Larry, a young man trying to find his identity (the information I have seen both suggest a young gay man or a trans girl… Two weeks after Larry started to accessorize (how the school referred to his wearing makeup and jewelry) and generally express himself, he was dead. This time frame matters, because there was something rather horrifying that developed.

A defense of Brandon’s actions crept into the public. We needed to consider just why he killed Larry. And yeah…things like motive matter. But this bizarre defense came about. It was Brandon who was harrassed…he was the victim in the situation and it is unfair to punish him.

This comes up in the documentary several times. He was greatly embarrassed because Larry had asked him to be his valentine in front of Brandon’s friends. And shortly after called out “love you, baby!” And one other time paraded around “flamboyantly” in front of Brandon and his friends. This was portrayed as a hard push campaign of harrassment by Larry against Brandon.

And you know what? I get being generally embarrassed by general activity like that… Sure, if someone you are not interested in makes a few overtures for your attention, it can be a bit uncomfortable and awkward….especially when your friends tease you about it. Young women are faced with that stuff all the time. They get uncomfortable because a boy they are not interested in is attempting to get their attention. And some of those incidents develope into real harrassment. There are a lot of factors that go into it all.

But the cold hard truth? Brandon’s embarrassment was his own. He could have told his friends to stuff it. He could have shrugged it off. He had a girlfriend, so he did not have to “prove” his heterosexuality to them. There is a long list of ways to handle the attention he got from Larry. Shooting him twice in the head was never an acceptable option. Terrifyingly, you would not necessarily know that from the reaction of some of the teachers and jurors interviewed in Valentine Road. It is heartbreaking to hear people take the side of a killer who killed with malice and forethought.

Imagine this… It was the unpopular girl. She is seen as a joke by classmates. Made fun of… But she takes the risk and asks out the cute basketball player. His friends tease him mercilessly. So, a day or two later he walks up behind her and shoots her twice in the head. Tell me, defense attorneys, jurors and teachers… Would you feel so comfortable suggesting she brought on her own death? That Brandon should be granted leniency?

No One Else Is To Blame

Over the weekend, I saw an episode of some show on the ID Disovery Channel. The tragic story (as with every show on the channel) was as follows:

A woman decided to give a shot at online dating. She joined a dating website. She met a guy and hit it off. They dated some. Her friends did not care for him, and eventually they broke up. As to be expected, a few weeks (months maybe?) later, he drives across the country, kills an ex-girlfriend he had not seen in ten years and then goes and tries to kill the woman who was the focus of the story.

That is really understating it…I will leave out the gory details, but that he failed to take her life is not due to being sloppy or rushed. He made every effort to make this into a homocide investigation. It is amazing she lived to tell her tale. But one detail got me. She is suing the dating agency for ten million dollars because the website had no warnings.

Really? We are going to demand that websites include disclaimers of potential sociopaths and psychopaths using the site to get dates? And would a disclaimer have changed anything? Would she have questioned the guy if only the web site had included a warning label? Would she have not used the website? If she had met the same guy through a friend, would she sue them for $10 million?

What she went through was horrific…but what happened was no more the fault of the the web site than it was hers for breaking up with him. He made the decision to turn to become a murderer. He chose to try and kill her. The web site had no ability to prevent him from crossing into the territory of murderous villain in her life. I get that there is the desire to hold someone accountable… But the responsible party is the person who deceptively portrayed themselves as someone who is not on the verge of a murder binge.