It is overwhelming to consider the grief being experienced by the parents of all those who perished in the ferry sinking. But it is heartbreaking and heart wrenching to hear the panic in the voices who did perish.
It is overwhelming to consider the grief being experienced by the parents of all those who perished in the ferry sinking. But it is heartbreaking and heart wrenching to hear the panic in the voices who did perish.
Another school, another innocent set of lives randomly pushed off course, another river of blood runs red.
And another hail of criticisms rain down, accusations are flung wide, and strawmen are set up.
This morning in a town outside of Pittsburgh, a student went on a rampage, and now 20 young people are hospitalized, several in surgery, fighting for their lives. Others, lucky enough to escape the attack, sit paralyzed in shock, fear, as the predictable words that always accompany these scenes emerge, "I can't believe it happened here."
I have written countless times that Here is a moving target. That Here can become your town's name in the blink of an eye. That Here cares not how small or quaint your hamlet may be; how secure you sleep in your bed at night; how closeknit is your community.
Here, USA waits silently on the outskirts of every town, just waiting for tragedy to unfold, for its moment to rename.
This time the town receiving the fresh coat of paint on the "Welcome to" sign is Murrysville.
Details are still coming in, but what is known is that a 16 year old male sophomore unleashed an attack by knife on students in a hallway and classrooms, and before being subdued, at least 20 were stabbed in their torsos, backs, abdomens, and chests.
The "Why" component is unknown at this time. And while the attacker is alive - he was apprehended and handcuffed by a school resource officer - we may never fully know his motivation.
That, of course, leaves a void to be filled by the world of internet bystanders, gawking, rubber necking, pontificating.
NRA supporters are out in full force taking advantage of the weapon used in the attack. See? It wasn't a gun!
I don't care what the weapon was. It happened. Innocent people were attacked. Thankfully, doctors are hopeful that all will survive. So I guess I take that back. I do care what the weapon was, because if it had been a gun, many of these students would have not made it from the hallway floors, much less to an operating room.
The handwringing religious are out in full force using this attack to again preach about God being "forced" from the classroom. Give it a rest. God doesn't belong in a classroom, unless said classroom is in a church run school. And even then, being doused in the Holy Spirit daily does not insure that a student will never wield a knife, pull a trigger.
A public school is a secular, taxpayer funded institution. It is not a cathedral, temple, or mosque. Whatever religion in which you choose to immerse your offspring has no business beyond the door of your home, the threshhold of your place of prayer.
The notion of God, any god, does not insulate one from the realities of the world. And trying to shove God in and science out of the classroom isn't the answer. Mississippi schools actually teach their students that homosexuality is a sin - is illegal - and pound abstinence education into the kids, but guess what? Mississippi is ranked #2 in the nation in rate of teen pregnancy. #2. Their teen birthrate was 55 out of 1,000 in 2010. Ironically, Mississippi is also ranked highest in the nation in church attendance.
Seems to me that you can preach all you want, but reality isn't a churchgoer.
Reality is what we live, what we experience, what happens moment to moment.
Restrictions won't keep the guns or knives out of the hands that want them; church won't insure a young person doesn't lash out, and a lack of church doesn't insure a young person will. God can no more be a deterrent as a scapegoat.
Look, I went to church every Sunday as a teen. I was raised Catholic. I attended CCD. I had heaven, hell, guilt, and damnation preached at me regularly. I also turned in my V card as a teen because in that moment, the last thing on my mind was God, the church, my parents.
That doesn't mean all churchgoing teens ignore what they are taught. It just means that all teens, church going or not, are individuals. And as such have unique thoughts, feelings, emotions, challenges.
The teenage years are a struggle. They just are. Just like the line that opens A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
A struggle to fit in, to find your place, to figure out who you are. And a high school environment is the toughest place in which to do that because high schools are all about defining, labeling. Jock? Stoner? Geek? Slut? Stud? Manwhore? Brainiac?
Insecurity is rife in the hallways of our high schools. Peer pressure is real, and bullying is a daily nightmare for MANY students. Sadly, many students flounder just as badly outside the confines of the school as they do within. Parents who are disconnected, or worse, only want to keep the peace so they let the kid run the show, offering no boundaries, consequences, security.
I see it every single day. Teens who are so desperate for identity, any identity; acceptance, any acceptance; that they cling to whatever group offers them a feeling of inclusion. Drugs, sex, all manner of lawbreaking - it all happens.
And the reality? Those same kids do go to church. Their parents do preach at them. They are threatened with damnation and salvation.
But in the face of what their reality is, a teen naturally reaches for the tangible, not worrying about the invisible. Teens are notorious for not thinking beyond the moment in which they are taking the current breath so why do you think they would concern themselves with abstract concepts like heaven or hell when they can experience FUN - or what passes for it - right now?
Without support, consistency, constancy, a young adult will flounder. Maybe they will dodge the metaphorical bullet or blade, and not add an arrest to their record, a pregnancy to their lives, or an overdose to their systems, but without guidance, accountability, oversight, and restrictions, a teen will fall.
And that's when the metaphorical turns real. The bullets deadly, the knives turning the hallways red.
There is no background yet on the attacker from this morning. Two parents, one? Straight As or failing? Bully or bullied? Religious or not?
Will it matter? To those who will agenda-ize this horror, sure. Facts, traits, heresay will be used, bent, warped, distorted to fit their message. But in the end, knowing why won't make it not happen again.
And it will. Despite all manners of gods, availability of weapons, or hoping against hope. It will.
Because reality doesn't care about prayer or agendas or ideals.
Reality just happens. And Here just patiently waits to move in.
Another day, another dead child.
Dead because there is no requirement beyond a boner to procreate. No greater intent than the exchange of bodily fluids in the game of sexual Russian Roulette. No license to take a baby home from the hospital. And no true checks and balances to insure that those babies are loved, wanted, cared for, cherished in the years that lie ahead.
Becoming a parent is tragically easy. We see it every single day. And while making a child takes no effort, responsibly raising one proves to be beyond the reach of the intellect and emotions of far too many.
Like this pathetic snail trail: Jessica Dutro-Boggess.
And her equally slimey discharge of a boyfriend, Brian Canady.
These two bags of skin are on trial for the heinous beating death of her four year old son, Zachary (he died the day after he turned 4), back in August 2012. Their reason?
She thought the child was gay.
Yep, you read that right.
That poor, defenseless little boy. She thought he was gay so what's a mom to do? Beat it out of him, of course.
Back in May of 2012, she even sent Brian a message on Facebook that read, "hes (sic) going to be a *** he walks and talks like it ugh it pisses me off."
Sadly, even though police uncovered a history of abuse after the fact, no one helped the child in the run up to his death. Although the "family" was living in a homeless shelter, shelter officials saw nothing that would have caused them to call CPS.
Until that fateful day in August 2012 when he was rushed to the hospital from the shelter after collapsing. Doctors discovered blunt force trauma so severe he had holes in his intestines. That is how hard he had been kicked by Canady.
Again, because these pieces of excrement thought he was gay.
Canady admitted to engaging in a pattern of abuse with Jessica against the boy. She is currently on trial, and because our justice system is so stellar, he was allowed to cop to a lesser charge in exchange for testifying against her.
HE kicks a child so hard the child's intestines rip open, spilling the contents and slowly poisoning him to death, yet he is going to get off easy.
It is heartbreaking to me. Every case of abuse is, but this just speaks to such a willfullly ignorant brutality, it sickens me.
I'm just curious - and perhaps Jessica and Brian would be the perfect specimens for this - if it is possible to beat the gay out of someone, perhaps it is also possible to beat the straight out of someone.
Let's try, shall we? I mean, we would only be following their logic, right?
People are gay in this world. They just are. And they are made by straight people every single day.
Being gay is not some disease. It is not some conspiracy to oogie you out. It is not an opted for lifestyle just so a child can embarrass their ignorant parents. And it is not some fashion statement someone makes like wearing bell bottoms or shaving half their head.
Homosexuality, every bit as much as heterosexuality, JUST IS.
It's not inherently good, it's not inherently bad. It just IS.
And no one, especially a tiny child, deserves to die just because this planet is still filled with stupid people who refuse to understand that.
May this little boy rest in peace. And may these shitbags never know another moment's peace as long as they live.
Before take-off from Brisbane to Sydney, some of the cast members of the Australian touring company of The Lion King treated their fellow passengers to an impromptu version of The Circle Of Life.
Feel your heart take flight and the corners of your mouth lift up.
Given the outrageous statements that routinely fall from the gobs of politicians these days, I sit here shocked that I can apparently still be shocked.
Not a day goes by without a politico doubling down on their cohorts' attempts to make my womanhood dirty or my sexuality something about which I should be ashamed. (Note: I like sex. A lot. In fact, I like a lot of sex. A lot. Deal with it, GOP.) There is no news cycle that passes without some elected official invoking God to strengthen their particular view of an issue. And no microphone and podium are left unattended when they can be used as a bully pulpit to condemn or misinform.
I'm sadly as used to political idiocy as I am breathing. I take it for granted. It's just there. Something that happens whether I pay attention to it or not. Something as predictable as the tides, as regular as a bowel movement.
So I must give credit when someone can actually turn my head, drop my jaw, and move me to abuse my keyboard. Today, that credit goes to a man with a true fecal cerebrum, Scott Lively, candidate for the office of governor of Massachusetts.
Scott, for those who are unfamiliar, is an evangelical preacher. And a dangerous one. He travels the world preaching about homosexuality. He calls it a “behavioral disorder.” He takes credit for the passing of Russia's "gay propoganda laws", and it is he who inspired the lovely Ugandan anti-homosexuality law when he addressed their Parliament several years back.
In the United States he works tirelessly against gay marriage, believes in sodomy laws (riiiiiiiiight, because we all know that only gay people like the booty), and envisions a day when there is an anti-gay revolution.
He also believes President Obama is the anti-Christ.
But back to his favorite topic, homosexuality.
He firmly believes it is a choice. A sin. A lifestyle. Something akin to sucking a thumb that aversion therapy can deal with. Therapy and prevention. That'll fix ya. Some counseling and suddenly your eyes will open and you will lust the V, or the D, depending on which factory installed equipment with which you entered this world.
And if you don't agree to ex-gay therapy?
You should go to jail.
That's right. Jail.
And this man thinks he will be governor.
I am always stymied by these people who tout therapy. Like being gay can be cured with behaviorial modification. Look, I am sure if you wired a gay man's balls to a car battery and every time he turned his head to look at another man you shocked him, he would stop looking.
BUT THAT WOULDN'T MAKE HIM UNGAY. IT WOULD MEAN HE DOESN'T LIKE HIS BALLS BEING SHOCKED BY A CAR BATTERY.
I am always curious as to why they can't turn their topic around. Surely if you can ex-gay someone, by the same token, you can ex-straight them. Right?
Blasphemy! I know, I know, God hates fags, they are all going to hell, and I have an adjoining suite because I support them.
Sigh. What this world really needs is ex-cray therapy.
Well, I have two things to say to Scott.
1. If treating my fellow human beings with love, dignity, and equality means I am going to Hell, fine. Less to pack.
2. You have as much chance of being elected as you do going to heaven. I may not be 100% certain about what happens when we die, but I do believe that hatred like yours will have its comeuppance here on Earth at the ballot box when you are handed your ass by voters.
(Just don't do anything with it that I wouldn't. Oh, wait...)
It's no secret that life is unfair. Whether it comes in the form of not getting credit for your hard work, seeing bad things happen to good people, or missing the winning lotto numbers by a hair - we are all familiar with life's little inequities.
Typically we let them roll. A shrug, an eyeroll, an exasperated sigh, and we move forward. The older you get, the more you accept that sometimes shit just happens, and that you simply cannot control all of life's outcomes. You also start to learn that, as I am fond of saying, "Screaming at a wall, is never going to move the wall."
As adults we learn to "big picture" things, focusing on the overall, instead of the minutia. We tell ourselves that we can eat a certain amount of shit because in the end it will all balance out. In the end the unfairness will be worth it. Or in the case of certain fellow earth travelers, that karma will eventually deliver the ass kicking that our fear of the justice system prevents us from delivering ourselves.
That fear of our justice system keeps most of us out of it. We like our freedom so we behave ourselves. But we also behave ourselves because, by and large, we are good people. Decent people. Respectful and discerning people. And we trust that that same justice system will protect us from those who are not.
This week, the good people who play by the rules were again reminded that life is unfair. That bad things happen to good people, and that the bad people who hurt the good people can still have good things happen to them.
You just have to have the right judge. The right connections. The right deep pockets.
Meet Robert H. Richards IV.
Robert likes children. Really likes them. In fact, Robert likes them so much that he repeatedly raped his 3 year old daughter in 2005. He also molested his 19 month old son during that same time period.
Now, you may be wondering why this story is just now bubbling its way to the top of the national brewpot. After all, that's 9 years ago.
Well, his ex-wife has now decided to file a lawsuit against him, on behalf of her children seeking compensatory and punitive damages for assault, negligence, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. So all the sickening details are being dragged into the light. All the sickening details this piece of shit wishes would have stayed buried in the local news. All the sickening details a certain judge wishes would have stayed locked away forever.
You see, back when he was entering his daughter's bedroom at night, penetrating her with the fingers of one hand while he jerked off with the other, he consistently warned the little girl “to keep what he had done to her a secret.”
Well, that worked for a while, but the tiny child eventually told her grandmother who told the girl's mother, who took her to the pediatrician, who in turn alerted police, who arrested Richards.
The State Attorney General indicted him on two counts of second-degree rape, a Class B felony. That typically carries a mandatory two-year prison term for each conviction - Delaware law requires a sentence of two to 25 years in prison but sentencing guidelines urge a sentence of two to five years.
Well, staring down the barrel of that legal gun, Richards availed himself of his connections and his money. He is an heir of the DuPont family fortune. He has grown up with all the rights and privileges money can buy, all the untouchableness that comes with being insulated from true responsibility, from reality.
He hired top Wilmington legal eagle Eugene J. Maurer Jr. and pleaded not guilty. But, OOPS, he failed a polygraph test and confessed that he had in fact done the deeds, but that “he was ill and that he needed medical treatment.”
Fast forward to 2008. He pleads guilty to a single count of fourth degree rape, avoiding mandatory prison time. Now, in Delaware, fourth degree rape is still a Class C felony meaning it can carry upwards of 15 years, but has no minimum requirement. Guidelines recommend up to 30 months.
Let me pause to remind you of the victims here. A three year old girl and a 19 month old boy. (He only copped to the molestation of his son in 2010 when he was again taking a polygraph in order for authorities to get a more honest assessment of his sexual history. As he failed line after line, he began spewing forth this precious bullshit: He “was very concerned that something happened with his son but that he has repressed the memories.“ He told the examiner he worried that his acts were “similar to what happened with his daughter, but he promised that whatever I did to my son, I will never do it again.”)
Pardon me while I pause to barf on my shoes.
OK, back to 2008 and the courtroom. As he stood in front of Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden she sentenced him to eight years in prison. BUT she then suspended that for Level II probation. Why, you ask? Because she thought he "will not fare well" in prison.
I'll pause while you barf on your shoes.
He will not FARE WELL?!?!?!
I have news for Judge Jan - the good people of this world who understand the words RAPE OF A THREE YEAR OLD, don't give a flying fuck in a sandstorm if he fares well.
He deserves to fare UNWELL. He deserves absolute punishment, prison, and all the fun times his fellow prisoners may mete out.
HE. RAPED. A. TODDLER.
HE. ABUSED. HIS. SON.
I don't care that he is some lifetime winner of the trust fund baby sweepstakes. I don't give one whit that he has been coddled all his life and lives off the money his relatives made in this world. I don't want to hear that he suffers from the same bullshit "affluenza" that bought the teen in Texas a free ride for killing four people.
I care only that there are two children who are going to carry his abuse forever. The scars he left may not be visible, but they are there. He did more than violate their bodies, he inflicted upon them memories. And those will never fade away like a cut in flesh. They will not mend like a broken bone.
This pathetic waste of our oxygen supply gamed the system with his money. Plain and simple. You tell me that some regular John Doe, some blue collar paycheck-to-paycheck no name would get a deal like this. That an admitted child rapist with no backing would be allowed to cry "medical issue!" upon being cornered and be let off with a legal hug and kiss.
This is as unfair as it gets.
When the legal system can be bought and sold in this fashion there is no writing it off to the "bigger picture." I am unwilling to just deeply sigh and move on. Richards and Juren are personal affronts to civilized society. This judge is as much an aberration as is the man she coddled. She is as guilty of raping these children as is he, because she let him off. She essentially said, "It's ok. No biggie. You tortured a toddler, but we don't want you to suffer."
I'll be blunt. They both deserve to fare unwell. Their stories and faces are now nationally known, internationally known. And they deserve every uneasy, scared, constantly-looking-over-their-shoulders moment they will endure for the rest of their worthless lives. They are now, and will be until they die, social pariahs.
But then, hey, life's not fair.
High school. Those two words conjure up as many responses as there are people who read them.
Our high school years are pivotal. They are when we begin to define ourselves, testing the waters of responsibility and conviction, sometimes sinking, sometimes damn near drowning. Four years in which we make friendships, break friendships, find "true love" or turn into serial daters - trying people on and discarding them like yesterday's fashions.
We laugh, we learn, we experience embarrassments, triumphs, heartbreaks, disappointments, peer pressure, drama, joy, and pathos.
Oh, the pathos.
At no time in our lives do we so completely invest in our own emotions. Every high, every low, every look, every perceived slight, flirt, rebuff - we lived and died moment to moment, so convinced that our every breath was the center of the universe.
For some people, graduation could not come quick enough - so ready to be free of the hallway hierarchy and bullyshit. For others it was a scary, unwanted end to a great ride - meaning they would no longer rule the hallway hierarchy or be the dispensers of bullyshit.
But all people, regardless of where they ranked in the peer pecking order - cheerleader or jock, band geek or drama queen/king, valedictorian or stoner - managed to take something with them besides the diploma: Memories.
Memories than make us shudder (oh, the hair...); memories that make us smile (late night rehearsals, football games, first kisses); memories of the friends and teachers who endured the years with us, making them more bearable.
May will mark 30 years since I graduated high school. THIRTY. That is such a huge number, yet it seems to have gone by in a blink. So much has happened, so many life experiences lived. So many people who live in the vault of my own high school memories, who are pulled forward from time to time by an appearance on Facebook, a "housecleaning" dream where they pop in - certainly due to my brain's odd defragging process, and for me, many who have lived rather close to the surface for the past 8 years as my own daughters have moved through their high school experiences in which we have all had something in common.
My four years were anchored by a stage and a morphous, riotous blob of people dedicated to the words on the page, the breathing of life into them. Theater was my safe haven, full of like minded students whose personalities were far too big to be confined to the hallways and classrooms. We may not have worn the homecoming crowns or scored the winning touchdowns, but in our environment, we were cool.
Culley, Kendall, and Carson all gravitated to their high school's theater program, becoming a part of their own morphous blob of love, talent, genius, madness, acceptance.
I think that is what I remember the most about my group - the acceptance. Realizing I was safe. Safe to explore, spread my wings, take risks, fall on my face, or soar - and I did - ALL OF THOSE THINGS.
Those spectacular people have lived in my memory all these years, afforded real estate in my head and heart, space reserved for those who made an impact, stayed an impact.
My theater director, Carol Wharton, always having a prime spot.
She taught me to be brave, to be big, to be bold. Not just on the stage, but in my life. She nurtured, she pushed, she screamed, she coddled. And she forged, in the fires of her endless emotional furnace, students like me who went into the world stronger, more confident, less worried about what others think of us, and more concerned with what WE think of ourselves.
This morning I checked the mail and my heart smiled. There was an envelope from Carol. Totally unexpected, a complete mystery. I came home and opened not only the envelope but the floodgates on a tidal wave of memories.
Picture after picture of me in performances, at awards nights, just hanging out. Faces in the pictures pulled the faces from my own memories - Georgie, Carol, Shan, Aaron, Linda P., Stephanie, on and on.
Spoon River Anthology - I well remember completely losing my voice, missing school, yet still going on to perform (just behind my box was a Tupperware cup filled with whiskey and juice to continually burn the phlegm off my throat so I could do my characters)
LOVED this scene from Harvey - to this day still not sure what I am most proud of: My believable hysterics or the fact that I managed every night to remove those damned seamed panty hose and put them back on backwards. In twenty seconds. In the wings.
My fellow Thespian officers and Carol.
It was a gift. Not simply the Kodak moments in the envelope, but realizing that I, too, have been granted real estate in someone else's memories. That I was a place, a time, a person who was allowed to stay in the ether of someone else's dreams.
I cannot think of a higher compliment. Carol Wharton - THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU - always know that you, too, came and stayed, and you will live in my heart forever.
Long, short, wavy, thin, thick, fuzzy, permed, corkscrew, pin straight, colored, never cut, or shorn like a sheep.
Our hair. It is one of our controllable characteristics - hairacteristics, if you will - that we each use to express our individual personalities to the world. We mousse it, gel it, spike it, flatiron it, pull it back, let it hang. It conveys our moods, can often influence our moods. Bad hair day, anyone?
It is a manifestation of effort; a display of I-didn't-give-a-shit-today; somedays worn like a crown, other days hidden beneath a hat.
But at the end of the day - it is what it is - just hair. Follicular foliage, as it were. It's there, or not, depending on what hand you were dealt in the genetic lottery of life. It grows like a weed, or recedes like the tide.
At least that's what I always thought. Silly me.
Thank goodness the wonderful folks at Timberlake Christian School in Virginia are here to flatiron me out.
Apparently, my hair is a biblical thing. Heralding to the world that God made me a female. That only through a ponytail does the world understand this. My feminine stock is measured in inches of growth, or store bought weave. And should I cut it short, the world shall immediately be made uncomfortable and unsure as to what exactly I am.
Boobs be damned. God is the heavenly version of Vidal Sassoon and He dictates, nay demands, my compliance in mane ministry.
Well, that is what they apparently preach and teach at their school.
This is Sunny Kahle.
Sunny is a beautiful 8 year old little girl. She is being raised by her grandparents who adopted her long ago. Rough and tumble, outdoorsy, and active - she is a sweet child, a good student.
She also likes her hair short.
No big deal, right?
Imagine her grandparents surprise when they received a letter from the school administration that read, You're probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment.
Cue ominous monastic vocalizations...
It then went on to explain that students have been "confused" about whether Sunny is a he or a she, and reminded the grandparents that enrollment may be denied or withdrawn based on sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.
SHE. IS. EIGHT.
We believe that unless Sunnie as well as her family clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education.
I see. So it's not the school's stereotyping that is the problem. It's the grandparents who are allowing their granddaughter the freedom to eschew a ponytail, confuse the mASSES, and risk her salvation that is the concern.
Not the grandparents. The school. The grandparents rock. They pulled Sunny from this hellhole of gender idiocy and placed her in a public school where her locks may stay short, but her outlook on the world will continue to grow.
I suppose it shouldn't stun me that this child is being subjected to such blatant ignorance. I have a daughter with short hair. Carson had locks from a Pantene commercial until three years ago. Long, thick, gorgeously blond, naturally highlighted - everything I ever wanted, but can not grow out of my own head.
And you know what? She hated it. She's an athlete. She's a tomboy. She's low maintenance. She never wore it down, always pulled it back. So she had it all cut off. And she's never looked back.
But in giving up tangles, knots, and hours of blow dry time, she quickly realized she had traded her ponytail for slurs on the soccer pitch, sideways looks, and even people addressing her as "Sir."
Somehow her short hair immediately made her a lesbian. Funny me, I always thought that was something you were born with, not a hairborne disease you pick up from a pair of stylist's shears.
Like Sunny though, who says, "I'm a girl, I know I'm a girl," Carson also knows who she is.
She's a girl. She's not confused about that. She just happens to be one who loves One Direction, but hates mascara, loves slide tackling, but hates heels, loves Dance Moms, but hates panty hose, loves her strong, toned athlete's body, but hates showcasing her boobs.
Does she ever get dolled up? Sure. Every now and then when the stars align, the unicorns all fart fairy dust, and the occasion demands, she dons a dress, heels, even a little eye make-up.
Carson is not confused about who she is. And frankly, after this many years, she actually enjoys making other people a little uncomfortable when they realize they made an incorrect assumption about her gender. She likes forcing people (at least those with enough introspection) to question the gender stereotypes they carry in their heads.
But she's 17. And mature beyond those years. Sunny is just 8 and having to learn that some segments of society are full of shit, stereotypes, preconceived notions, and hand me down "rules" that dictate who a person is, despite WHO A PERSON IS.
As for Timberlake? Their loss. But I am just curious - do they truly follow the Bible? Do they adhere to all the constructs found within, enforcing them with letters home warning of damnation (or expulsion) for:
Bowl cuts. Leviticus 19:27: "You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard." I guess the Beatles were damned at the start.
Football or bacon. Leviticus 11:8, which is discussing pigs, reads "You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you." But, but, BACON....
Panda fortune cookies or Long Island Medium. Leviticus 19:31 reads "Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God."
Polyester (uh, oh - there go the uniforms). Leviticus 19:19 reads, "You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together."
Red Lobster. Leviticus 11:10 reads, "But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you." So much for that Lobster-Shrimp platter.
Of course they don't. Those things are silly, antiquated. Give up bacon? Bacon IS a god.
My message to Sunny? Be YOU. Rock that short haircut forever or until you decide, Hmmmm, I want to grow it out.
My message to her grandparents? THANK YOU. Thank you for pulling her out of the dark confines of religious strictures and into the light of individuality. Thank you for seeing directly the beauty that is your granddaughter, not looking at her through the prism of draconian dogma. Thank you for loving her as she is, not as some temple of intolerance would dictate she be. Thank you for letting her flourish.
Finally, my message for Timberlake? As evidenced by your hairbrained notions, your heart is bald and your soul has split ends.
I was wandering through the DGMS archives this afternoon and stumbled upon this piece from 2007. In light of the passing of Fred Phelps, I thought I would pull it forward. Seven years may have passed, but the feelings I expressed are still exactly the same.
Bigotry simply must be extinguished.
I cannot stand stupid people.
And one quick look through the headlines on any given day reveals there’s a buffet of human ignorance in this world on which to lavish my disdain.
Some stupidity, while loathsome, makes me laugh. You know, those stories of legs in bar-b-ques, the woman who dresses up roadkill like they are Build-A-Bears, and my personal favorite: the people who get busted for getting their freak on with animals (dead or alive).
But at the other end of the ignorance spectrum lie the people who illicit in me a reaction not unlike milk in someone who is lactose intolerant. Only my intolerance is to bullshit, which gets my mental bowels in an uproar.
Indeed, the quickest way for someone to be the recipient of a DGMS diatribe that flows like verbal diarrhea, is to expose their bigotry, prejudice, and hatred to me.
But doesn’t hating on the haters paint me with the same brush, you ask?
These people don’t deserve consideration. They don’t deserve sympathy, empathy, or apathy. Especially not apathy. They deserve to be outed for the hateful, ignorant, backwards beings that they are.
For example: This morning I woke to a new comment (which has since been deleted) on the piece about Genarlow Wilson from someone who felt the need to spew their hatred in the night...
Hi I am arab and muslim and I am very very happy to gloat at this latest example of american character. you are a nation of pigs. gluttonous, inhuman cruel cutthroats and terrorists. your men are faggots and your women are whores. both are cock suckers. you are incapable of any human feeling and the worst scum on earth. hahahaha. i'm glad you are self-destructing. F*ck you americans. you should all be sterilized.
Where to begin...
Well, I can start with the fact that anyone who cannot type with capital letters or punctuation need not apply for a position in the realm of my respect.
Moving on, I can say with certainty that my husband is not a faggot, and I have never spread my legs for money. As to the cocksucking accusation? OK, fine – you got me. Guilty as charged, but stay out of my bedroom.
Incapable of any human feeling? Um, wrong on that count. The majority of Americans feel grief, shock, horror, and sympathy every time one of your equally extreme "Arab and Muslim" brethren walks into a crowded market and blows their stupid ass up, taking 50-100 innocent people with them.
And we get to feel that on a regular basis.
Like I said, I deleted the comment from the blog, but the more I thought about it, it needed to be outed, because the ignorance and hatred displayed in it go hand in hand with a couple other stories in the news this morning.
First, yet another cowardly creature has decided to use the cover of darkness to demonstrate their racial bigotry and personal ignorance at Columbia University.
Just last month, a noose was found hanging on the office door of a black professor, a few days later, a caricature of a yarmulke-wearing man and a swastika were found on a university bathroom stall door, and today, a swastika was discovered painted on the door of a Jewish professor.
According to reports, just since September, nooses have been found in a Coast Guard office, a suburban New York police station locker room, a North Carolina high school, a Home Depot in New Jersey and on the campus of the University of Maryland.
In addition, a Brooklyn, New York, high school principal, who is black, received one in the mail recently, along with a letter that read, "White Power Forever." In mid-October, a noose was discovered outside a post office at New York City's "Ground Zero."
Just what the hell is wrong with people?
"White Power Forever"? F*ck you. If white power means worshipping pieces of shit like Timothy McVeigh, then perhaps the noose needs to be placed around your worthless necks. (My apologies to the rope.)
Further angering me this morning is the reemergence in the news (although it’s not like these asshats ever truly disappear, they just move around like cockroaches) of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas.
You know them. They are ones who feel they speak for God, and that God hates faggots. Ergo, God is striking down our military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to get that point across.
(Just what the hell kind of Kool-aid is their Jim Jonesesque minister handing out at services?)
This means they turn up at the funerals of dead servicemen and women and spew their ignorant, backwards, bigoted rhetoric, flinging it like clods of verbal shit. "God Hates Faggots!" and "Your son/daughter is going to Hell!" are some of their greatest hits.
Their signs are just as warmhearted.
"God hates fag enablers." "Thank God for dead soldiers." are just a couple of their pithy placards.
(Small aside. I suppose, according to that sign, I am a fag enabler. A damned proud one, at that. I don't give a rat's ass what a person's sexual persuasion is, and I have said it many, many times - every gay person in my life is a treasure. Not because they are gay - I don't collect them like Beanie Babies - but because they have open hearts, compassion, laughter, and love in abundance, despite having to put up with societal, backwards, homophobic bullshit.).
But back to the Westboro wastes...
One family who suffered the loss of a beloved child in Iraq, in the midst of their worst day, had the added misery of this worthless bunch of monsters appearing at their son’s funeral. Their taunts, jeers, protests, and vitriol drowned out what should have been the first precious moments of closure for the family and friends who had gathered to bury the young man.
His parents sued the "church" and the pathetic excuses for human beings who make up its congregation.
Yesterday, a jury awarded the family $2.9 million in compensatory damages, an additional $6 million for invasion of privacy, and $2 million for causing emotional distress.
The church members' reaction? Shitty smiles, shittier words.
"Absolutely, don't you understand this was an act in futility?" said Shirley Phelps-Roper, whose father founded the Westboro Baptist Church. "Oh, it will take about five minutes to get that thing reversed," added her equally unrepentant husband.
Will the judgment stand? Who knows. Best case scenario, it will be tied up in legal limbo for years.
But the money is not the issue. The hate is the issue. The unmitigated gall of people like this who would disrespect another human being in their darkest hour. The ignorance which oozes from their mouths like pus from an infected wound.
And that’s what people like this are, really. Pus-filled, infected, wounded.
They didn’t come into this world seeping hating.
Children are born into this world as blank slates. They know no race, religion, language, culture. They are empty pages.
It is unfortunate how many of them have adults in their lives who choose to write upon them with their own bigotry, ignorance, cowardice, thus perpetuating a vicious circle of stupidity.
I choose to write upon my children with openness, love, acceptance, tolerance, equality. I want them to be colorblind, to be inquisitive. I want them to want to learn about others, not hide from them.
Hatred is a learned thing. And the majority of those who actively hate others based on color, religion, sexual orientation, or place on this planet typically have no working knowledge of the people they are targeting.
They haven't ever had a bad experience with them. They have simply been taught to hate them.
Ask them why and they talk in so many circles you finally get dizzy and fall down. But they can never give the honest answer. They’ll talk about God, about history, about anything but the real reason: They hate because someone taught them to hate because someone taught them to hate because someone taught them to hate, and on and on.
Hatred is fear. Fear of something different than yourself. And hate comes a lot easier to human beings than does tolerance and understanding.
I’m not afraid of white people, black people, Muslims, Catholics, Evangelicals, homosexuals, North Koreans, Iranians, ...
What I am afraid of are small minded, close minded, hate mongering bigots.
And those come in every color of the human rainbow.
When the news broke less than a week ago that Fred Phelps, he of Westboro Baptist infamy, was on his deathbed, the reactions were divided into two camps.
The first, those for whom his death could not come soon enough. Comments like, "Could not happen to a nicer bag of shit" filled the internet.
The second camp was filled with those who beckoned us all towards the high road. A by-way on which we would not wish him ill, or "descend to his level of hate." Suggestions to picket his funeral with We Forgive You signs were everywhere, as were those who begged all to "give him respect in his final hours and eventual death."
Well, today he is, in fact, dead.
At the age of 84, Phelps has gone on to wherever you believe he has gone on to. A final accounting with God? Straight to Hell and its assorted minions? Nowhere?
Perhaps upon hearing the news that he has actually passed away, you will redouble your efforts to "be the bigger person" and "not stoop to his level" or head to Party City for black decorations for a Fred Is Dead party.
Personally, I fall somewhere in between, but certainly closer to the second camp. And I make no apologies. As for stooping to his level? I couldn't get there even if I had a backhoe and the Army Corps of Engineers on hand to dig with me. The whole "show him respect" line? No thanks. He showed no respect for family after family as they grieved a loved one's loss. Honestly, I wouldn't my waste time picketing his funeral.
There are those who chant that "every life has value!" No, I don't agree. I believe every life begins with the potential for value. But deeds, not breathing, ultimately prove a life's worth. Fred has none. He chose hatred, venom, the persecution of many. And just like a child rapist or a serial killer, there is no value there. Just a waste of oxygen.
This is a creature who established one of the most heinous cults of personality, labelling it a church, availing itself of those tax free rights, and set out to make innocent people's worst moments worse.
Like so many who dare to speak for their "god," Phelps decided that God was angry. That is not a history making stance, mind you, most who trade in this sort of emotional blackmailing almost always lead with God is angry at... fill-in-the-blank. Angry at homosexuals, angry at abortion, angry at war, angry at peace - who knows? Just this week, another headcase in the GOP won the party's nomination to challenge the democratic opponent in Chicago-area 9th Congressional District.
Susanne Atanus - I wrote of her a couple months back. She was staking her campaign on playing prophet, letting all and sundry know that not only does God control the weather - God is angry. No, wait, sorry, I need to get her quote accurate as it is not nice or fair to misquote someone.
"God is SUPER angry."
SUPER angry about homosexuality, same sex marriage, civil unions, abortion - you know, all those standard GOP boilerplate issues that they have no business legislating. And they know this. Just as they know that public opinion is against them and growing more forceful with each passing day. So what do they do?
They invoke the Big Guy. Stuffing words aplenty into His mouth, speaking for Him on all manner of social issues, scaring those so easily panty wadded by religious dogma.
Personally, I would think THAT would make Him SUPER angry.
But back to Phelps, who surely single handedly supported the poster board industry.
He led his merry band of Bible banging followers in the belief that God hates whatever Fred decided God hates. Most certainly "fags." If one went purely on the signage, God Hates Fags most of all. And they left no opportunity unplundered - staking out funerals, concerts, you name it.
Under the guise of "church" they did nothing more than cause pain.
Yes, it can be argued that they also helped advance the cause of equal rights for LGBT individuals by constantly keeping their hateful rhetoric in the public's face, but that does not erase the pain, the awful overeach, the offensive intrusion into the grief of so many families.
Fred is dead. But his legacy is not. Those left in the Westboro Baptist coven will continue their disgusting verbiage, continue to stuff hate into God's mouth where most of us believe there is only love. They will continue to promote hate, ill will, pain, and heartache - all the while paying not a cent of taxes, and laughing at the rest of us.
To be clear, do I hate? Sure. Every single one of us - even those who claim the utmost piety, hate something from time to time. Maybe it's a hangnail. Maybe an unexpected auto repair bill. Perhaps boldfaced human inequity. Or, perhaps the individuals responsible for hurting others. But I am not consumed in my hatred for Fred, Westboro, and those who seek to destroy those born different from them. Galvanized? Yes. Most decidedly galvanized. Fred died today, and I will move forward knowing the air is cleaner because he is not exhaling his brand of sewage into it. I will move forward knowing there is one less clog in the toilet pipes of humanity.
I said up above that I make no apologies. Maybe that was incorrect. It would be more accurate to say that I am glad he is gone, and I am not sorry for feeling that way.
Or in the parlance of today's youth, "Sorry, not sorry."