Category Archives: soap box

Politicizing Tragedy

 

I spend much less time than I used to in “general population” Facebook, less time scrolling through my Timeline. Some of that is because of a migration to “groups”, smaller communities designed for actual discussion, some is due to a re-prioritization of my minimal moments with nothing more productive to be doing, and a lot of it is disillusionment. Since the election and its outcome more and more people seem to have become emboldened to share their opinions on all things societal and political, an irony that I recognize as I sit here and do exactly that.

Some of it’s my own fault. I refuse to unfriend anybody for reasons based on political or religious beliefs different from my own, no matter how tenuous my connection to them may be. I also purposefully follow and read sites and columns that I know advocate views antithetical to my own. Algorithms and partisan “news” media make it extremely easy to isolate oneself and never be exposed to opinion that doesn’t align with your own. I try and avoid falling into that habit.

Sometimes I’m disgusted by what I see. After the horrific suicide bombing earlier this week at a concert in Manchester, England there were some who felt that this was an example of karma, that twenty three year old pop singer Ariana Grande “got what was coming to her.”  The young singer had openly supported the campaign of Hillary Clinton, attended January’s Women’s March, and two years ago was quoted out of context while joking that she “hated America”  when presented with a tray of over sized fried donuts. Obviously this makes her a terrorist sympathizer who hopefully has now learned her lesson in the realities of the world. Excuse me while I go puke.

Less often are the times when I become absolutely fucking infuriated, as I did after coming across this bullshit:

 

 

I’ve never thought of myself as a liberal, preferring to cling to the belief that I am a centrist.

That doesn’t really matter, my beliefs besides the point. I’d be just as angry if I saw something from the left side blaming the President and his policies, anything that used this senseless tragedy to try and further an agenda or assign culpability. I not only pray that liberals never have to face anything like this happening to their children, I pray that conservatives, libertarians, socialists,  progressives, tea partiers and Knights of Ren never have to.

The Middle East is a complicated place, known as one of the birthplaces of civilization but also as a cradle of conflict. A region almost constantly at war since the rise of Sumer and the Early Dynastic Period of 3000 BC.  Sunni and Shiite battling for the soul of Islam since the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. From The Persian Constitutional Revolution in 1905 and its attempts at modernization to the creation of Israel in 1948 to the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979, the last century nothing but shifting landscapes.

The Middle Eastern youth of today have known nothing but poverty and war. Their leaders promise them Paradise if they martyr themselves for ill defined causes and wars without borders, without care for who is targeted as long as it is done in the name of whatever group or ideology is being followed.

I don’t know what the answer is, or even if there is one. I know that only by working together, Democrat and Republican, with a combination of strategies, will we ever realize the goal that we all share – an end to the senseless violence and strategy.  Being dicks to each other and using dead children to try and build a case for your side being “right” accomplishes nothing.

 

 

Adrian Peterson? F That Guy

 

I’ll begin with full disclosure.  Not long after buying our house, myself, my wife and her daughter were grocery shopping and the trip wasn’t going very well.  K was around six at the time and was acting terribly, screaming at her mother for reasons that I honestly can’t recall.

Trying to get her attention, I “flicked” her ear, one of those thumb and index finger snaps that smarts for a second but isn’t intended to really hurt. She howled. She howled like I had just cut the entire lobe off. To this day I don’t know if it was pain or surprise, but my first attempt at establishing myself as a disciplinary figure was a complete failure.

Her sister was much younger when she got her surprise.  Old enough to know that she wasn’t supposed to bite, but young enough to not fully understand why.  She toddled over to me, clamped down on my forearm with more force than I’d have thought possible and seemed determined to remove a large portion.

She may have but for a reflexive smack across her bottom that surprised me as much as it did her.  She didn’t cry but her eyes and mouth both went wide.  A stern talk about not hurting others followed, the first but not last bit of hypocritical parenting that I’ve done.

 

I make these confessions because I’ve spent the last few days listening to people call into local sports talk radio and try and defend spanking as a legitimate disciplinary tool, to defend the actions of free agent running back  Adrian Peterson.  Peterson, if you aren’t aware, was suspended most of the 2014 season after accepting a plea deal with the state of Texas mandating counseling and dropping from a felony to a misdemeanor charges of child abuse.

The charges against Peterson originated because he beat his four year old son with a tree branch, causing cuts and bruises to his thighs, back, and testicles. The child told authorities that he had been previously punched in the face and that the leaves from the switch were shoved in his mouth to prevent any further crying out. This took place in Peterson’s “whooping room”, a dedicated area of the house just for punishment.

There have also been allegations of Peterson leaving a scar over another son’s eye for cursing.  His response was that he “never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son.” He has yet to express any remorse of admission of wrongdoing. These are pictures of a four year old boy taken four days later.

 

AP = POS
Houston Police Department

 

I bring up a case from three years ago because Peterson is now unemployed after the Minnesota Vikings declined to pick up an $18 million option for the upcoming season, an absurd number for a 32 year old running back with a history of knee problems.

I bring up the case because over the past several days Peterson has been visiting with The New England Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl Champions. For various reasons the Patriots aren’t my team, but Boston is my city, home to my Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins. I recently wrote a piece defending it’s fans after they were generalized by several ESPN hosts as racist but I’m having a much harder time justifying  their defense of the team even taking a look at this guy. I understand wanting to win, wanting to have the best players on your team; any fan would.  I don’t understand selling your soul, rooting for an over the hill piece of garbage that should never see the field again.

 

I understand not wanting to judge another person’s parenting. We’ve all had days that we wouldn’t want paraded before the court of public opinion.

What we don’t all have, what no rational human being would have, is a “whooping room”, a collection of switches, or small children with dozens of lacerations across their legs and back. We don’t have a reason to welcome the sort of guy that does onto our favorite team.

As of this writing the Patriots haven’t signed Peterson, nor is there any real indication that they will.  I think that working him out was a bad look for a team that has a reputation, justified or not, of doing anything possible to win, but also understand that their job is to do precisely that.

That doesn’t mean that fans need to blindly accept everything done in that pursuit however.  Sports talk radio callers should never be considered a proper representation of a fan base but I’m still disgusted and saddened by what I’ve been hearing. I’m hoping that most in this area would echo the opinion of my wife, a true Patriots fan, administrator of multiple New England Sports Facebook pages, and voice of the people:

“Adrian Peterson? Fuck that guy.”

 

do the right thing pats
the true voice of Pats Nation

 

 

 

The Real Progressiveness of The Beauty and the Beast

 

Judging by ticket sales numbers and the packed theater that we encountered Saturday morning, it seems that the majority of movie goers have chosen to ignore calls from ultra-conservatives to boycott Disney’s new live action remake of Beauty and the Beast.  If you missed it, the “controversy” surrounds villainous sidekick LeFou, played by the voice of Olaf, Josh Gad, Disney’s first openly gay character.  Apparently there are some that are upset at Disney for trying to push their LGBT agenda on our poor, unsuspecting children.

 

Lefou
Disney promo – Beauty and the Beast LeFou

 

My child was completely oblivious.  LeFou acts stereotypically effeminate, stares longingly at his good buddy Gaston (Luke Evans), and dances with another man for less time than it took me to type this sentence.  If I hadn’t been looking for it, it’s possible I would have been just as unaware.

To tell the truth, it wan’t even the gayest thing that we watched together this week.  During a recent episode of the cartoon Star vs the Forces of Evil, one of the characters looks around at a boy band concert to find that everyone else in the audience is part of a couple and kissing their partners, including two same sex couples. The main character in Nickelodeon’s The Loud House has a best friend whose parents are a gay, interracial couple.

One of the main story lines of this season of Supergirl has revolved around the coming out of Alex Danvers, adoptive sister of Supergirl Kara Danvers, and her relationship with policewoman Maggie Sawyer.  After watching the episode where they officially became a couple, it led to this conversation:

“Wait, girls can have girlfriends, not just boyfriends?”

“Absolutely.  People don’t choose who they love.”

“Oh, OK. Why isn’t Wonder Woman ever on this show?”

“I don’t know honey. That’s a great question.”

 

supergirl
CW promo ep 2.13

 

There is a moment in Beauty and the Beast that I think is important, one that matters precisely because it has evoked no controversy whatsoever that I have heard. When the curse is finally lifted and The Beast reverts back to his human form, so too do all his servants. This leads to joyous reunions between the wardrobe, Madame de Garderobe,  ( Audra McDonald ) and her harpsichord husband Cadenza ( Stanley Tucci ) and the candelabra Lumiere ( Ewan McGregor ) and his wife the feather duster Plumette ( Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Its a more romantic moment than anything that happens between the titular characters and departs from the cartoon by showing both of these couples to be inter-racial. This is something that shouldn’t be a big deal, but not very far in the past would have led to calls of boycott of its own.

As absurd as I find some of the things that people are still outraged by, our children are being exposed to more diversity than ever before, both on screen and off.  How they react to that diversity will be determined by how we react to it.  Sometimes the biggest sign of progress is when there is no reaction at all.

 

 

 

 

Stick to Your Own Bedrooms

 

The Fetish Fair Fleamarket was held this weekend at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, hosted by the New England Leather Alliance. Billed as the largest and lowest costing event for the BDSM community in New England, the two day event brought thousands of people into town, as well as vendors, workshops, guest speakers and presentations.  The ballroom was converted into a fully equipped dungeon.

This being my weekend to work I was unable to attend the party (not the only reason) but if any of my readers were there I hope you stayed safe and had fun.

If any of my readers were among those protesting, trying to drive the event out of town, I’d like to know why?  Held twice a year at rotating sites, the Fetish Fair Fleamarket is thought to bring a million dollars in revenue to local businesses in the towns where it is held. The entire hotel is rented and nobody without a ticket bought in advance is admitted.  Nudity is not allowed in the lobby or any other areas where a perv with a telescopic lens ( teenage boys ) might be able to observe from off premises.  Private security as well as the local police are hired and rules of conduct strictly enforced. I understand if this isn’t something that you would like to participate in, but why care if others do?

One place that the event won’t ever be held is  Attleborro, a town where a similar party was once raided by police for being in violation of “chastity, morality, decency, and good order.”  Who deemed themselves  worthy of making this determination is unclear, but one woman was subsequently arrested for “assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.” Her crime was spanking another woman across the buttocks with a wooden spatula.

 

Mind Your Own
memoires dun Flagellant de Marque

 

Also held this weekend was the 2007 NBA All Star Game. Originally scheduled to be played in Charlotte, the game and it’s surrounding festivities were moved to New Orleans as a response to North Carolina’s ban on local ordinances that sought to extend protections for members of the LGBT community.  It was a big loss for Charlotte. The 2004 game in New Orleans generated 106.1 million dollars in economic impact and 60.4 million in direct spending.

It was an unprecedented statement for a major sports league, but also a great example of what to do if you object to what is happening somewhere.  Don’t go.

Even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that it is a violation of the 14th amendment to bar consensual sex of any kind between adults, a dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books.  Oral sex is illegal in 18 states, although in Kansas and Kentucky it is OK if you are straight.  Many of you may not be quite the law abiding citizen you once believed yourself to be.

Isn’t it time that we as a society started minding our own damn business?  I’m not particularly interested in S & M, but Fifty Shades Darker has earned 92.8 million dollars in the last eleven days, so some of you are intrigued.  I’ve never engaged in homosexual activity, but I’ve also never been propositioned by Tom Hardy.

 

Mind Your Own Business
youre welcome ladies

 

Here’s a list of the people that should have a say in what goes on in my bedroom : my wife.  That’s it, short list, and I’ll afford you the same courtesy.  Is it too much to ask for everyone else to expect the same?

 

 

 

Sore Losers, Hoping For Failure

 

It’s about to become official folks.  The fat lady has sung and it’s time to put down your signs and go home.  Despite almost 2.9 million more people voting for Hillary Clinton, on January 6th a Joint Session of Congress officially tallied up the Electoral College votes and on Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.

 

from two years ago, but does that really matter?

 

Senator Barbara Boxer of California and House of Representatives Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, both from states that voted heavily for Hillary Clinton, have introduced legislation proposing to abolish the current Electoral College system.  More than fifty other Democratic lawmakers will be skipping the inauguration, an unprecedented boycott.  According to the Director of Homeland Security for the District of Columbia, there is an expected 800,000-900,000 people expected to be in Washington DC to cheer on the incoming President.  Up to 750,000 are expected to be there in protest.

I would agree that a system in which the person with the most votes doesn’t win seems decidedly undemocratic , that there seems to be something somewhat flawed with 80,000 people spread out over three states deciding the fate of an entire nation, but would it really be any fairer for the large population centers of California and the Northeast to hold such an unbalanced influence?

We enter the next four years uncertain about the direction of our country.  Advisory positions and a potential new cabinet of Wall Street insiders, climate deniers, creationists and alt-right conspiracy theorists challenging my ability to remain cautiously optimistic.

 

snake warning
PublicDomainPictures.net

 

Are those of us unhappy with his victory just being sore losers, as many of his supporters gleefully claim?  Our angst and trepidation about people not even on the job yet is used as an example of why we needed a strong leader to “Make America Great Again”.  ( Not to be confused with “Keep America Great”, his proposed 2020 slogan and also the phrase used to justify the state sanctioned crime sprees of The Purge horror films. )

I don’t think so.  Ignorance and incompetence should always be feared, should be fought against.  Acceptance of the results is a requisite for democracy, but so is an involved populace not afraid to voice their opinion, their opposition to policies or behaviors that appear antithesis to our own principles and values.

 

missing the point

 

A failed Trump Presidency doesn’t have to mean catastrophic repercussions for the country, for the “plane that we are all on.”  It can also mean a repudiation of selfishness, ignorance, hate and isolationism.  A victory for tolerance, compassion, common sense and science.  I don’t want him to fail because he wasn’t my candidate, but because I vehemently disagree with just about every proposal that he has suggested and don’t want him to do most of the things that he has promised to do.

Failure would not mean failure for America.  We were already a great country and will continue to be so.  It would mean that our system of checks and balances have done their job.  That a bully can’t always tweet his way to getting what he wants.

 

commons.wikimedia.org