Inclusion Vs. Exclusion

You’re welcome.

Such a simple, elegant phrase. Such a kind and decent concept. I don’t know why so many people struggle with it.

There are so many out there who make it a point to say just the opposite. You’re not welcome. You shouldn’t be able to come here. You can’t buy my cake. You should sit at the back of the bus. You shouldn’t be allowed to marry the person that you love. You are not welcome to be a part of our club. You shouldn’t have the right to vote. You can’t rent my apartment. You don’t belong here. America used to be great when we didn’t have to treat you with respect. How dare you speak up? We get to control what you do with your body. You must be walled off. You must be silenced.

We see it everywhere. In the red MAGA hats, in the “lock her up!” chants, in the attacks on innocent people on the streets. We see it in the hatred that oozes from the mouth of the very man who is supposed to lead this country. You’re not welcome. You are an enemy of the people.

Hate makes you look ugly. It reveals the disease in your very soul. It makes us all so much less than what we could be.

When you hate, when you marginalize people, when you try to prevent people from having the same rights that you do, you cause suffering in this world. Why would anyone want to do that? I will never understand it as long as I live.

When you find yourself in a place of inclusion, where people are welcoming and accepting and embracing of your unique qualities, it’s such a freeing experience. I’d rather be wrapped in a rainbow than beaten by a tiki torch any day of the week. That should be obvious. Why isn’t it obvious?

I’m feeling very ineloquent about this whole subject compared to the conversation Ellen Page had with Stephen Colbert recently. Check out the video here. It’s really worth watching.

Thanks, Lee (and Ellen Page) for inspiring this post!

Not Welcome

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

 

 

Freedom of Speech 101

Could we puh-leeze get past the Duck Dynasty guy? I’m so sick of people holding him up as the poster child for freedom of speech martyrdom when nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s get back to basics. What is freedom of speech?

The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction.

The government had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to Phil Robertson. It was him spouting his mouth off in a public forum, (most likely in direct violation of the ethics clause in his contract, by the way) causing his employers to want to distance themselves from him as they did not want to be associated with Phil’s lunatic fringe views. A&E does not want to be viewed as racist and homophobic. They just want to produce low budget, tasteless reality television in peace.

If Phil Robertson wants to get a paycheck from a broadcast company and still express his opinions, all he has to do is find one that is in line with those opinions. Maybe he should move the show over to Fox. Simple.

And what does the first amendment say, by the way?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

No one is restricting Phil’s freedom of speech. In fact, it’s because we have freedom of speech that the press was able to pass on his tasteless commentary. Congress made no law to fire his redneck butt. He can stand on a soap box in any public park in this country and say whatever he pleases. And that’s wonderful. What he can’t do is be an embarrassment to his employer without consequences. If he could, if that was the law, then here’s some of what we’d see every day:

  • Cashiers would tell us to go f*** ourselves when we ask for paper instead of plastic.
  • Telemarketers would tell us that they really think that what they’re selling is crap made in some evil communist country and they wouldn’t buy it themselves.
  • Nurses could say things like, “If you weren’t such a fat pig, maybe you wouldn’t have so many health issues. Gluttony is a sin.”
  • A tow truck driver could say, “If it weren’t for the fact that you’re a stupid woman driver, you wouldn’t be in this mess. I should leave you on the side of the road.”
  • Cab drivers could say, “Oh no. Get your white Republican a** out of my car. I don’t want to hear you moan about how your Bruno Magli shoes are pinching your feet when I’m struggling to provide milk and a roach-free roof to keep the rain off my children’s heads. I don’t serve your kind.”
  • Firemen could say to reporters, “Yeah, another loser who fell asleep while holding a lit cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. Maybe the planet is better off without him. Next time we should just break out the marshmallows and let ‘em burn.”
  • Waiters could say, “Stop bothering me or I’m going to spit in your tortellini. And by the way, you’re going to hell, because I don’t agree with your lifestyle.”
  • Movie theater staff could shout fire during the matinee and laugh during the subsequent stampede.
  • Foster parents could say, “Yeah, I’m only in this for the money and the free under-aged sex.”

If all these people who are “Standing with Phil” are sincere in their beliefs, then they would not fire any of the people above. But believe me, if they were the employers in question, they would. The only reason they hold Phil Robertson separate is they like watching him on TV, or perhaps, heaven forbid, they agree with his views and delight that they’ve gotten a good bit of attention.

So, yes, Phil, you have every right to shoot whatever you want out of your pie hole. I highly recommend you get a blog, because trust me, you’ll be able to say whatever you please, just like I do.

But if the soap box on which you stand exists solely because you have a television show, and what you say impacts the reputation of the very company that made that soap box possible, then stand up and take the consequences like a man, and stop acting like a millionaire martyr.

But here’s a cookie for you: I’ll help you spread some of your speech freely in this forum. I’ll let it stand on its own merits:

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[Image credit: baltimorepostexaminer.com]

Drudge Sludge

I have a dear friend who gets all of his news from the Drudge Report, and therefore spends the bulk of his time angry, scared, and bitter. Talking to him can be exhausting. It’s like being the opponent in a sadistic game of dodgeball. He lobs paranoid gobs of information at me, I dodge the insanity, do some research, and do my best to calmly parry with logic and the facts.

  • In 2008: “Obama is going to make us pay 10 dollars a gallon for gas!” “Er…first of all, the president doesn’t set gas prices. Second, if he did that it would be political suicide.”
  • “Vaccines cause autism!” “Uh… actually, even the scientist who started that rumor has since recanted and apologized. Here are about 30 articles.”
  • “The government just imposed a quota on disciplining African Americans in schools.” “Nope. The government has just provided guidelines so that minorities will receive the same punishment that whites are getting for identical infractions.”
  • “Obama didn’t vote for anything in the senate. He only voted ‘present’ on everything.” “Hmmmm… that’s funny. I’m looking at his voting record right now, and there’s an awful lot of ‘yay’ and ‘nay’ votes for someone who supposedly only voted ‘present’.”
  • “Snopes.com is run by paranoid, incompetent, hysterical liberals!!!” Sigh. “That reference you’re citing is from a blog. And that blog got it from a viral e-mail that has been circulating since 2008. Here is an article from a reputable source that dismantles that e-mail point by point.”
  • In 2009: “There are concentration camps hidden throughout the US and soon we’ll all be in them.” “Well, that will become obvious pretty quickly, when everyone starts reporting missing friends, neighbors and relatives.”
  • “Dennis Rodman and Barack Obama are close friends, so he must have sent him to North Korea on purpose.” “Wow. If that’s the case, Rodman sure trashes his good friend in the media with a brutal frequency.”
  • “You can’t get out of state health care with your Obamacare, you know.” “Okay, I just spent 20 minutes on hold with my new insurance company, and they say of COURSE I’m covered for out of state healthcare.”

Honestly, it’s emotionally draining.

Here’s the thing about the Drudge Report. If you read it, it quickly becomes apparent that the main theme is “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” And when you look deeper you discover that its primary sources are Fox News, the Daily Mail, and Rush Limbaugh.

Fox News is caught in lies so often, and promotes such a warped agenda, that it has become the butt of jokes internationally. The Daily Mail, with its plummeting subscribers list, is Britain’s fear-mongering equivalent. And Rush Limbaugh… don’t even get me started on that ignorant fool.

For your own mental health and the sanity of those around you, it’s best to get your information from a wide variety of reputable sources. The Drudge Report is not reputable. It’s risible at best. I’d sooner get my news from a supermarket tabloid.

Speaking of reputable sources, I’m just a humble blogger and this is simply my opinion. By all means if you wish to chow down on a healthy stew of racism, homophobia, misogyny and a lunatic fringe hyper-conservative fantasy, then the Drudge Report is definitely for you.

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[Image credit: interestingtopics.net]