Still, No Mercedes

Years ago, an ex of mine decided to ask me to marry him. I was 19 and he was 34, I was a student in college and he was just a guy with a job who fancied himself a businessman. Frankly, I was just tired of campus food and found that dating older guys at least led past a kitchen, theirs or a restaurant’s, on the way to a bedroom. So, a few dates a month as part of a balanced diet; partially hydrogenated cardboard balanced by real food. Nothing serious, no commitments, and often nothing more than a nice meal and good conversation. Continue reading Still, No Mercedes

Are There ‘Stupid Republican’ Marketing Tricks?

It is not unusual to see stories touting the various, and often comical ways, in which Republicans are “stupid.” Not that the Tea Party movement has done much to dissuade people from believing this. Frankly, I think we can all agree on that. In general these stories are great, if for no other reason than they make for delightfully entertaining insights, train wrecks that typically don’t have body counts. Unless people die of laughter, which would be newsworthy and hilarious on its own.

But today brought about a different kind of “stupid Republicans” story, one that focuses on the fleecing of those for whom “I’m with Stupid ->” shirts are always pointed toward.  There is a cannibal in the GOP camp, unsurprisingly, that is devouring the available funds of “don’t tread on me” consumers. At least that’s the point that Zack Beauchamp is attempting to make in this Think Progress article:  “The Inside Story Of The Charlatan Who Duped The Nation’s Top Conservatives

Continue reading Are There ‘Stupid Republican’ Marketing Tricks?

Independence Day – Not Propaganda Day

“Endowed by Their Creator,” “In God We Trust,” and “One Nation Under God”

Hopefully these words ring a bell, and where they are located in our lives as US citizens, is an obvious answer.

These words are important, not because they are evidence that we live in a “Christian nation,” but because they are evidence of how Christianity has been used—both by our government and now by Christian political groups—as propaganda.

As we celebrate our independence today on July 4, 2013, Brian Brown of NOM, the National Organization for Marriage (aka, one man one woman equals marriage, and hey, let’s turn minorities into an attack front against the gays), poses the question of choice.

And that choice, so eloquently captured in an image, is that we only have a choice between between American rights and Gay rights. Continue reading Independence Day – Not Propaganda Day

Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Responsibility

This is not a topic that I undertake lightly, especially not in my well armed and very pro-gun family. To say that I am for gun control is no more accurate than to say that I am totally enamored by the idea of indiscriminate gun rights. To be blunt, I don’t own a gun, have only ever owned one gun, that I never fired, and have only fired one gun for the purpose of target practice. The experience was not exactly something I would call exciting, thrilling, or otherwise describe in positive words.  It was unnerving.

The recognition of the capacity of the gun that I was holding to instantly end the life of any of the people I was with, either by intent or accident, was something that I couldn’t get out of my mind. It was also something that I couldn’t get comfortable with. But I do know enough to use a weapon. Perhaps not skillfully or gracefully, and most certainly as a last resort. And I kind of prefer it that way. Mostly because I see it as an understanding of responsibility that comes with a gun.

How about we consider gun responsibility?

While gun control talk is swaying the nation toward more laws intended to prevent future shootings like the devastating event that took place in Sandy Hook, it is important to note that no amount of gun control can take the place of gun responsibility. What is Gun Responsibility? The often touted phrase of being a “responsible gun owner” is bandied about, it is doubtful that many who use it really get the idea of what responsible gun ownership really means. Or at least what it should really mean. As part of the national conversation, and far removed from the arguments over new legislation to prevent gun sales, issuing fewer concealed carry permits, and creating a national database of people with mental health issues, it is important to talk about the realities of being a gun owner.

Although you, as a gun owner, may have no intent to harm another member of mankind, except in cases where they are attempting to harm you, your responsibility in owning a gun doesn’t stop there. It is easy to forget in our personal liberty obsessed world, we actually should be concerned with the impact that our actions can have on others. Is stopping that theoretical criminal so important that loaded guns should be so easy to get to that even a small child could do so? And what kinds of weapons do we really consider as elements of a self-defense strategy? Continue reading Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Responsibility

My Goal of a Less Techy New Year

Yes, it’s here, finally, the year 2013 has arrived! As this new year quickly approached, I saw some things needed to change over 2012, the dreaded New Year’s resolution was born. As the title suggests, the goal for 2013 is to be a little less techy. That’s not to suggest that this year should be spent raising a barn, reading by oil lamps, or using a ringer washer, but it does mean that some of the more “pretty tech” has to go. Pretty tech, or the technology that looks great on paper and has lots of features that make it sound like the solution to everything that ails us, often becomes what ails us. For instance the shiny Samsung Infuse 4G that has been cradled in my hands since July of 2010. Smart phones, at least for me and probably for others, are the definition of pretty tech. They can do pretty much anything, are bright and shiny, and are responsible for eating away a lot of the productive time of my day. Yes, I just called my Android smartphone a productivity killer! For all the possible benefits that one might see, as these are pocket sized computers with cameras, there can be a drawback, having too much that you can be doing, that isn’t what you should be doing. Of that, I am most certainly guilty. Facebook, email, Facebook, text message, text message, text message, picture of what I’m eating for lunch, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, text message, text message, Play Store, Google silly question that just popped into my head, bounce through Wikipedia articles for 30 minutes because that silly question leads down a rabbit trail of different topics that are sideways interesting to me, . . . rinse, lather, repeat. The relationship, like all others, started off looking like it was helping me to get more done. For the longest time I had convinced myself I was getting more done. Oddly, though, it seemed as if there was never anything to show for all this “getting more done” that was supposedly occurring. And because of that a new phone was purchased this weekend, one without all the bells and whistles, that will let me stay in touch without looking like Gollum touching his precious every few seconds. Perhaps, without the continual distraction of a device beeping at me every few minutes, giving me endless sources of distraction, things may get done. Perhaps cool techy things, like posting to this blog, will occur without being interrupted before I can complete the thought. Have you considered making 2013 a less techy year for you?

Happy New Year!

With each new year comes a new opportunity to do something different, to do something that you have been meaning to do, and to change those things that have been nagging at you in the “should do” list. 2013 is no exception to that, and today I really want to move forward on using my talents to their utmost potential, and making this blog something more than a thing that I would like to do. So here we are, first new post of the new year! I sincerely hope that 2013 is a great year for everyone and that we all have something to celebrate and cherish that we didn’t have in 2012!

Chick-Fil-A, The God Card, and What It Is All About

I will apologize now, at the very beginning. I’m sorry, so very, very sorry. I know, you can’t stand to hear another word about Chick-Fil-A. It’s been the topic everywhere. So much anger, so much shouting, so much GRRRR! But I ask you give me a few moments, if you would, for just one more comment on the topic.

Freedom of Religious Expression Is Not What This Is About

Were freedom of religious expression the issue, then yes, absolutely, by all means express all you wish! I’m not angry that someone feels that “one man and one woman equals marriage.” I disagree. That is an opinion based on Christian teachings, which I don’t think should have a place in a conversation about civil marriage. Marriage, the civil right, is a very different thing from the religious rite of marriage, that should be freely defined and conferred however a religion so chooses. That is freedom of religious expression. It is an opinion, I get your opinion, I disagree with your opinion, but I’m not angry about your opinion. No opinion problems here!

At which point everyone says, “well, all he said is that he is against marriage and the company supports these organizations, how is that not covered by freedom of religious expression?” Or something like that. Dan Cathy’s comments were not just a personal expression of his religious beliefs. Cathy’s comments were made as justification and clarification of his company’s donations to anti-LGBT groups. This is about his company and what they are doing with their profits, and why.

Still not all that bothered. You run a company, you donate money to causes that you personally believe in. Every company does. Some I agree with, some I do not. Still, we would only disagree. No anger about companies donating money and being expressive.

The anger is because of the way that the specific anti-LGBT groups, the ones to which Chick-Fil-A donates, use the money they receive. It is anger about the gumption to claim that making those donations is just part of being a good, wholesome, tasty Christian business. That those donations are in any way connected to anything that could remotely be called good, wholesome, or Christian.

Good? Wholesome? CHRISTIAN???

The organizations donated to do not, in fact, represent anything Christian, regardless of how much and how often they try to cite God, Bible, and Christian Teachings as the core that drives them. Spreading a message of “marriage is one man and one woman” while pointing to the Bible and Christianity as evidence, is one thing. Again, I don’t see the relevance, but I understand the opinion and why it exists. I get that there are strong beliefs that the Bible should equal the Law. As well as a belief that the United States of America was created as a Christian nation, one that has deviated from the path. Granted that path interestingly doesn’t include a lot of biblical law. But hey, your religion, if you want to cut and paste what is important and what is not, have at it. If you want to believe and express this is a Christian nation, go for it. I disagree, but I am not judging that, I am not angry about that.

At this point, everyone is still cool.

There is disagreement, but it is a polite disagreement. Those disagreements have been around for ages, centuries actually, and are the basis of the different denominations of Christianity. What laws to follow, and which ones are irrelevant, and why, are Christian issues that are not part of this conversation, other than to point out that they exist and to exemplify that they have no bearing in the conversation. Say whatever you like, believe whatever you like, go petition for changes that “correct the course of America.” Have at it, good luck!

So WHAT is the PROBLEM?!

What creates a problem is that, in furtherance of their goals, the anti-LGBT organizations that receive money from Chick-Fil-A, totaling about $5M, say nothing like that. Their message, their purpose, has nothing to do with Christianity. Christians, and Christianity are their revenue source and their shield. Religious freedom of expression, you can’t touch me, na-na na-boo-boo. The money is used to say things like part of the gay agenda is to lower the age of consent because all homosexuals are pedophiles. The money is used to say things like children raised with same gender parents are more prone to being mentally unstable, sexually molested, and converted to homosexuality. The money they receive is used to say things that are negative, untrue, and take advantage of people’s fear. Their goal is not supporting traditional marriage. Funding them is not a furtherance of Christianity. They are not keepers and defenders of the faith. They are using the cross as a sword to attack the LGBT community with impunity. Period. End of story.

The anti-LGBT groups we are talking about, as well as all the others who use Christianity as a tactical strategy in general, have more in common with the KKK than furthering Christianity. That is why this is such an issue, not because of religious expression, but because the money spent at Chick-Fil-A is being used to promote misinformation, lies, and deceit to oppress a group of people through unfounded stereotypes.

As a gay man, I have a gigantic problem with that.

Now, to be clear, that does not mean I hate anyone for not understanding what the big deal is. In the end, I can’t even really be mad about the people who ate their today under the misguided belief they were standing up for Christianity. People were lied to, but what they stood up for was important to them, and what they thought that they stood up for today I applaud, seriously, I do.  Even if what they were used as puppets for hate, I get what they thought they were doing..

Fallout For Standing Up

And the end result? The end result of that is what makes me most angry of all, and that is where hate enters the picture. The kind of hate that you wish you could pull out of your body, choke it, and bury it, because feeling it is so intensely overwhelming.

Today, like so many before and very likely so many to come, people spent money to support something they believe in. Today, Chick-Fil-A received money that will become part of their profits, a portion of which they will donate. And those profits will go to groups masquerading as Christian organizations who will use that money to teach people my goal, according to them, is to corrupt and molest children. Groups that will tell people my purpose on this Earth is to eradicate Christianity. People will be told that I, and everyone like me, live for the explicit purpose of doing drugs, having sex, and spreading disease. The money they receive will tell those, and so many more, lies as loud and often as they can. Lies that become part of the “gay agenda” these organizations say that I have.  Lies that tell children who are looking for acceptance, that they are horrible beings that need to be destroyed.  Lies that lead to sham marriages and “reparative therapies.”

Lies that destroy lives.

I may not be a Christian expert, but it does not take one to see that this is exploiting Christianity as a tactical weapon. One that is aimed against me and everyone else who identifies as LGBT.

That is what makes me angry, that is what I hate, that is what I wish people understood.

Chick-Fil-A, Controversy, and Friends

The donations, on their own, were not a major surprise coming from the company long known for its Christian values.  Everyone kind of accepted that and didn’t think much about it, well, maybe a little about it, but it was not an issue that could really be fought. One corporate entity gave money to another corporate entity, and the world kept right on turning.  Only the most hardcore of the hardcore were really making a stink about it. Maybe Chick-Fil-A supported their goals and ideas whole-heartedly, maybe not.  Maybe they just donated money because it looked good for them to do so as a Christian business helping other Christian interests. Dan Cathy failed to appreciate that silence was golden. Silence gave people some wiggle room, plausible deniability, and some capacity to justify continuing to spend money there.  As far as weak arguments go, it was flimsy, but something one could pass off to others as they carried their cow spotted drink cups back to work, enjoying their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, all without carrying an icon of public enemy number one.

Guilty as Charged

But with the words “guilty as charged” Cathy set into motion what has to be the biggest nose-dive of reputation most people can remember.  Words have power to hurt or inspire action, and images even more so.  Those words created an image, one of a Christian company that was not only supportive of Christian interest groups, chiefly anti-gay groups, but one that was exceptionally proud of that stance. Three little words turned financial support into a criminal action.  Which is not surprising, given the three little words that Cathy chose to use.

Since the news hit main street, there has been a lot of shock waves in how eating more chicken is perceived. The interview with Biblical Recorder was boastful, as if homophobia wasn’t a problem, but a fundamental solution, something to celebrate. And that is where arrogance came in, you didn’t realize that you were already barely escaping public scrutiny as it was. Evading the public frustration by walking a very fine line of action without words.

Companies support many different causes for a variety of reasons, and for the most part, unless the actions of the interest group are excessively egregious, most people get over it. Which, to the LGBT community, the actions of Marriage & Family Foundation and Family Research Council are hardly what one would call mundane.

“…one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.” —”Homosexual Behavior & Pedophilia,” a FRC publication, July 1999

Anger at Supporting Lies is not Hate

Unfortunately this issue, on the surface, looks like a lot of animosity from the LGBT community being lobbed at chicken sandwiches because of some donated money to groups that don’t “love us.”  For the record, that money has been reported to be approximately $5M in donations, so some is a bit of a stretch. And these are not groups that make pretty little statements like “we believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”  Okay, they do make those statements, but then they attach some other words that amount to all homosexuals are demon possessed pedophiles trying to steal our children. Seriously?! That’s not a situation of I don’t hate you but I don’t like you, that’s just lie laden hate. And an angry response to being lied about is not hate, it’s not an attempt to take away someone’s religious freedom, limit free speech, or attach Christianity. It is not HATE.  It is called being absolutely mad as hell at the slander of an entire group of people, for the sole purpose of getting your way.

The LGBT community has reason to be mad.  And this is not a silly fight.  But it is one that has put a lot of people in the middle while it gets fought out around them.


Now, as a personal note, I had a brief conversation with a friend of mine while she was at work today.  Not to get too specific on the friend, as she has no idea yet (please don’t kill me) that I’m going to anonymously reference her in this article, but she brought up a very valid point.

“I’m sick of this crap on my [Facebook] wall!”

Valid point because, quite frankly, so are we all.  And she is one friend who is poised in a delicate position.  She has a strong southern Christian background, including current interactions and lots of friends from that, and more than a few LGBT friends. And while talking with her I has a more “hello, DUH” moment, and realized that this is not an easy issue for those caught in the middle.  In either direction that they go, the sides are coming out a little extremist, and the anger is boiling between the two. On the heels of articles that have tried to explain much of what is said above, I will add this.  Remember our other friends everyone, the ones that are peaceful happy people who really just want to have everyone be peaceful and happy. They enjoy their life and their friends, which are from all walks of life, and all they really want for us at the end of the day is to just be cool. Like them. So remember that as we have these discussions, we need to know when to back off, when we are discussing the issues and someone else isn’t listening, we need to just let it go.  We can fight and argue all we want, but is it losing one of the cool happy people over some who adamantly disagrees with us and may never see our point any more than we can see theirs? No, not even if we convince one of them is it worth that.