Politics

Fuck a Duck and See What Hatches

ZZ Top has said something offensive, which has led to Darkwing Duck being canceled. Pope Francis weighs in at 11!

phil-robertson

It’s time to kick off the Fifth Age of Sam’s Blogging Habit by grabbing the tail end of the latest blog bandwagon: Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, the aftermath, and the comments upon comments that appeared on the Facebook pages of people I know.

For those who have had better things to do in the last year than follow the career of a guy who looks like the picture above, allow me to fill you in with a brief timeline from my perspective:

  • About a year ago: My Facebook friends began talking about “Duck Dynasty”. I assumed it was a reality show, meaning I wouldn’t be interested anyway. When I found out it was somehow related to duck hunting, I knew I wouldn’t be interested.
  • Over the next few months: I still wasn’t interested. Some of my more religious acquaintances began talking about what a “great man of God” someone was. I assume it was either the man in the picture (Phil Robertson) or one of his clones. Something about abstinence before marriage was also mentioned, but looking at the pictures of these dudes, are you really surprised?
  • About a month ago: My curiosity got the better of me, and I read a synopsis on Wikipedia. I was surprised to discover that A) They’re not actually duck hunters, they’re a rich family that owns a duck call company, and B) Scratch that first one, they are also duck hunters.
  • Two weeks ago: an acquaintance of mine heard the phrase “fuck a duck” for the first time, and thought it was hilarious, and wouldn’t stop saying it. That’s not really related to the story at hand, it’s just funny.
  • Yesterday or two days ago: An interview with Phil Robertson was published in GQ. I read the article, which makes me about 4 pages more informed than 90% of the people posting opinions about this. “About what?!” you ask. So glad you asked. Robertson said, in his interview that:
    • Homosexuality leads to and bestiality[*]. [Nope]
    • Black people were happier under Jim Crow, because they weren’t so “entitled” [Somehow this comment got lost in all the hullabaloo over that first point]
    • He voted for Romney, because Romney’s from Salt Lake City [Nope] and Obama’s from Chicago [Illinois Senator, so we’ll give him that, at least he didn’t say Kenya], and Salt Lake City is safer at 3am because it is.
  • Yesterday, all day: People on Facebook lost their shit, one way or another. Some justified, some not. Late in the afternoon, A&E, the network which broadcasts Duck Dynasty (I learned something!!) announced that they were suspending Phil Robertson from the program. [Cue the false persecution claims in 3… 2… ]
  • Today, all day: People continue to lose their shit all over Facebook.

I’ll share a couple of comments I read on the Facebook feeds of people who will more-than-likely unfriend me if they read this, even though I’m not sharing their names.

Completely agree with Phil’s comments and completely agree with you that A&E has right to “suspend” him (whatever the heck that actually means).  I just feel that most of my friends championing A&E today were the same ones who complained vehemently in the past about conservative boycotts of Disney or country radio boycotts of Dixie Chicks.

Lot of comments here, so for now I’ll just stick with this for now: I hope he hadn’t actually read the comments before claiming to agree with them.

This will get much worse before it gets better for Phil Robertson. He has decided to go up against the god of this age. If you haven’t been to Walmart yet to get it, go purchase your Duck Dynasty gear today, because it might not be on the shelves much longer. Note the final paragraph in the article…quoting from 1 Cor. 6 is like sounding one’s own cultural death knell.

I thought the “god of this age” was money? Phil Robertson has gone up against money?! Oh, no, wait “go down to your local Walmart and buy some Duck Dynasty swag” is right there. This is probably my favorite comment, because it’s the perfect blend of culture war fear and rushed consumerism.

Have I mentioned how proud I am of the the Robertson Family! Especially Mr. Phil. We live in such a difficult time in our nations history, it’s great to see people like Phil speak the Truth of the Word of God boldly to the media! Keep it up Robertsons! We’re praying for you guys on the frontline!

I like that during times of actual war, when actual soldiers are in actual firefights and actually getting killed (and many of those soldiers are Christians, I might add), a reality show star making an obnoxious statement against multiple minority groups … HE’S the one on the “frontlines”.

A world where everyone else can proclaim their opinions on the highest mountain, but the second a Christian stands up for what the Bible says, even in a loving, non-judgmental way, they are ostracized and hated.

Today I learned the Bible says that homosexuality will morph into bestiality.

And now you’re all, “But freedom of speech!”

Freedom of speech is a limit on government censorship, not on a company suspending an individual for expressing, well, any opinion, but for an individual in the public eye to make boldly ignorant statements like the ones he made? Yes, A&E should suspend him or cancel his program.

So then you’re all “Well, they shouldn’t have asked him the question and then been shocked by the answer!”

Actually, if you read the interview, Robertson made the comment initially, bemoaning how “Sin becomes fine” in modern society. The question (not directly quoted) was what we call a followup question. It’s Journalism 101, people! (I’m kidding, obviously. Interviewing was a 300 level course when I was in school). Robertson volunteered these opinions, and went a step further with the comparisons.

So next you’re going to claim “Oh, but people on the other side do the same!”

Probably. I honestly couldn’t tell you. The examples provided above were the Disney boycott and the Dixie Chicks boycott. The Dixie Chicks boycott is likely comparable, but I remember very little of it, because people were still pretty pissed at the Dixie Chicks for their awful cover of Landslide.

The Disney comparison, though, is likely not valid. A lot of “charges” (in the moral court, of course) were thrown at Disney in the 90’s, including providing domestic partnership benefits to same-sex partners of employees.  But the big one that was used on all the literature was “GAY DAY” (omg!)  Someone mistakenly believed Gay Day to be a Disney-sponsored event (it wasn’t), and wrote out letters to organizations who passed the misinformation on to members, who could have then verified the information for themselves (they didn’t) and a boycott ensued. It wasn’t a case of “Boycott vs. Claims of Free Speech”, it was “Boycott vs. THE FACTS”.

kanyeBut ultimately, these “well someone else did it too” comments are a case of classic derailing.

“Well, remember when we were boycotting The Golden Compass movie based on a chain e-mail we received, and someone said that we couldn’t because of free speech? This is the same!” [hypothetical example, identical principle]

If that’s true? Then yes, it is the same, in principle. It’s also irrelevant. Whatever pet boycott you still remember from the past is not this situation, and there’s no need to bring it up now. The issue right now is Phil Robertson’s comments, and A&E’s reactions.

If you want to discuss your pet boycott, discuss it in its own arena.

If you want to claim that liberals don’t care about freedom of speech unless it’s for their own causes, need I remind you that the ACLU defended Westboro Baptist Church in an actual First Amendment case?

“What’s the big deal with Phil’s comments anyway?”

Here’s where I tone the snark down a bit, and turn on my serious face.

serious

Phil Robertson’s comments were more than just a statement of what he believes. They were more, even, than an apologetic statement of his belief, or even the echoing of a sentiment shared by many of his fans (which it certainly was, troubling as that may be). His statements were offensive because sexuality is more than just who you have sex with. Sexuality is more, even, than who you’re attracted to. Sexuality is an identity. It is part of who you are, not a thing you turn on from time to time. Even as a cis-het person, I understand my sexuality is a major defining part of who I am. For LGBTQI* individuals, it is not only an identity, but a part of their identity that sets them apart from many others. It is a part of their identity that some have taken years to accept, and some still may not have fully dealt with. Many have been ostracized from family and friends, they cannot obtain legal marriage licenses in many states, and in some countries, they can be put to death. Not for who they’re attracted to, but for who they are. Their identity.

So when a reality television star who has never had to deal with identity issues, second-class citizenship, etc. compares their identity to nonconsensual sexual acts with children or non-humans, it is harmful and destructive. A&E made the right call in suspending him from the program, and the Robertson family’s Notpology does not begin to make up for it.

I read somewhere recently that arguments of equality and rights do not occur in a vacuum, and this is true. [if someone wants to find me that source, I’d love you for three seconds!]

It’s tempting to say “Both sides need to respect each other” but that assumes both sides are on an even playing field. In reality, one side is trapped in a well, and the other side refuses to let them climb out, so the party trapped in the well is justifiably angry. That is not a remotely comparable form of “intolerance” as the person standing at the edge saying “shut up and stay there!”

It’s time for those of us in the privileged classes to examine that our “freedom”, while legally protected, does not justify speaking cruelly of groups that are already marginalized.

Phil Robertson is a symptom of the problem. But the crowds of people jumping to his defense are the true cause.

*
NOTE:
In the original version of this post, I mistakenly listed pedophilia here along with bestiality. This was incorrect, and I have removed the reference.


Where are the Solutions?

Eighteen children are dead in Connecticut. Details are still unraveling, and of course social media and blogs are completely clogged with ideas.

Is it gun availability? A culture of violence? A stigmatization of mental health?

My personal opinion is, it’s a combination of many different factors. And there is only one way to find a solution: to talk about them.

Three years ago, there was a shooting at a university in my hometown. My first thought was “let’s not talk about gun control right after a shooting”. My views on that have changed… it is time to talk about issues, and for all sides to work together on preventing these things from happening.

Personally, I want to focus on increasing availability of mental healthcare. But we have to discuss, not just defend opinions.


Papa John’s has the Worst Marketing Team Ever

Read it here and elsewhere

The story: Papa John’s Pizza founder and C.E.O.  John Schnatter will be required to provide health insurance for his full-time employees, due to the Affordable Care Act — which he did not support.

How to spin this in your favor: Pass the cost increase on to your customers, at a few cents per pizza without making a big deal about it.

Another way to spin this in your favor: Give your employees even more insurance than the Affordable Care Act requires, and announce that you are raising your prices to care for your employees more than just the bare minimum.

What Papa John Schlatter chose to do instead: Publicly complain about “Obamacare” to your shareholders, and announce that either prices are going up, or employees’ hours are getting cut. Blame “Obamacare” and blame people who voted for the President.

The message this sends to your employees and customers: “I don’t care about my employees enough to provide them healthcare. But since I’m grudgingly being forced to provide it, I’m going to raise prices or cut hours.”

I only have an advertising degree that included one P.R. class and one Marketing class, but I could have avoided this public cluster fuck better than his team did.

In the meantime, eat at Marco’s, they have garlic butter jizz that’s just as good as what you’d get at Papa John’s.


Informed Voting and More Direct Democracy

If, like me, you live in a state that always votes for the same presidential candidate, elections may seem pointless. After all, we have an electoral college. However, elections are about more — much more  — than who sits in the White House.

For example, my state has eleven amendments on this ballot next week, and my county has another one of its own. There’s a great resource that I knew about before, but forgot… called Ballotpedia. Even if you don’t care who occupies the Oval Office, or don’t like the main two candidates, please inform yourself of amendments and propositions on the ballots in your state and vote accordingly. (Click your state and click Ballot Measures).

Because that’s really the most direct form of democracy.


Sometimes I Take Cute Little Tests

Sometimes I do. And then sometimes I post the results:

Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-centric thought reign supreme.

Take the quiz at
About.com Political Humor


Don’t Like Facts? Attack the Fact-Checkers

Yesterday, I received a forwarded e-mail from a relative with the subject Snopes no more. Immediately, I had a flashback to a Facebook conversation I witnessed and posted to Reddit a few weeks ago:

“One must beware of Snopes however, they are a very liberal group and don’t always tell the truth about the incorrectness of some jab at liberals.”

My first thought upon reading that comment was a quote from Stephen Colbert:

Whether or not you agree with the liberal bias of reality, people who use Snopes for political reasons don’t base their political views about it – we use it to fact-check specific stories. Arguing with birther claims, for example, doesn’t mean you support all of the President’s policies… just that you aren’t going to stoop to lies to make your point.

Anyway, back to the e-mail I received:

SNOPES NO MORE

Wow…read this one! Then check out the suggested web sites!!!

Many of the emails sent or forwarded that had any anti Obama in it were negated by Snopes. I thought that was odd. Check this out.

Snopes, Soros and the Supreme Court’s Kagan. Well now, I guess the time has come to check out Snopes! Ya'[sic] don’t suppose it might not be a good time to take a second look at some of the stuff that got kicked in the ditch by Snopes, do ya'[sic]?

We’ve known that it was owned by a lefty couple but hadn’t known it to be financed by Soros!

Snopes is heavily financed by George Soros, a big time supporter of Obama! In our Search for the truth department, we find what I have suspected on many occasions.

No evidence is offered for the claim that Snopes is financed by George Soros. But I think it stands to reason that if Soros was funding even a tiny fraction of the site, it wouldn’t be so ad heavy. And what is a Search for the truth department?

In any case, without evidence for a claim, it’s probably better not to accept it.

I went to Snopes to check something about the dockets of the new Supreme Court Justice. Elena Kagan, who Obama appointed, and Snopes said the email was false and there were no such dockets. So I Googled the Supreme Court, typed in Obama-Kagan, and guess what? Yep, you got it; Snopes Lied! Everyone of those dockets are there.

No specifics are offered on what Snopes article is being “debunked” here. A Snopes search for Kagan yields three results: one is an incorrectly attributed opinion column (unrelated), one is where she’s mentioned in a story about a Chinese restaurant thanking Jewish people for eating there on Christmas (also unrelated), and so, presumably, the article in question is called Kangaroo Court, and debunks the claim that Elena Kagan represented President Obama in nine cases concerning his eligibility for president (a.k.a. birther claims).

So Here is what I wrote to Snopes:
Referencing the article about Elana Kagan and Barak Obama dockets:
The information you have posted stating that there were no such cases as claimed and the examples you gave are blatantly false. I went directly to the Supreme Courts website, typed in Obama-Kagan and immediately came up with all of the dockets that the article made reference to. I have long suspected that you really slant things but this was really shocking. Thank You. I hope you will be much more truthful in the future, but I doubt it.

That being said, I’ll bet you didn’t know this. Kagan was representing Obama in all the petitions to prove his citizenship. Now she may help rule on them. Folks, this is really ugly. Chicago Politics and the beat goes on and on and on. Once again the US Senate sold us out!

Now we know why Obama nominated Elana Kagan for the Supreme Court. Pull up the Supreme Courts website, go to the docket and search for Obama. She was the Solicitor General for all the suits against him filed with the Supreme Court to show proof of natural born citizenship. He owed her big time. All of the requests were denied of course. They were never heard. It just keeps getting deeper and deeper, doesn’t it? The American people mean nothing any longer.

It’s all about payback time for those who compromised themselves to elect someone who really has no true right to even be there.

Here are some websites of the Supreme Court Docket: You can look up some of these hearings and guess what? Elana Kagan is the attorney representing Obama!

Check out these examples: http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.aspx?FileName=/docketfiles/09-8857.htm

http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.aspx?FileName=/docketfiles/09-6790..htm

These links are to cases unrelated to eligibility to the presidency. As Solicitor General, Kagan would be representing the White House. That’s part of the job.

Snopes itself has responded to the e-mail claims, though, and other blogs have also taken it on, so I’m not going to spend any more time on the assertions.

What’s disturbing here is the tendency to attack sources (or resources) that present facts when the facts seem to contradict a belief. Snopes is not a primary source, but a resource that investigates claims and compares them with the information available from reliable sources. It’s not flawless, any more than Wikipedia (another resource unfairly attacked by people who see it used as a source), but it’s a quick shortcut for those who don’t necessarily have the time to hunt down claims for themselves.

When your beliefs are based in presupposition, rather than evidence, you start to see contradictions as malicious, or lies. To call out Snopes as “liars” follows naturally from this, but a dangerous effect is that it neutralizes any attempt to set someone straight on future claims. If you want to correct someone’s claim, you are suddenly tasked with doing a bunch of primary research that has already been done, because the person making the claim is going to write off the people who have already done it.

Suppose that Snopes had been wrong about the Kagan claim. When “Snopes lies” is coupled with “Snopes is funded by George Soros”, both claims are going to be accepted even though there is no evidence for the latter.

The trend is making its way into the higher profile, with congressmen making comments like “I don’t care what Fact Check says“.

Einstein is rumored to have facetiously said “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” But I think a more telling quote here is from John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

But that’s Keynes… and if you disagree with him, he must be a liar. Right?


WELP! Never Mind…

So, Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy has found a loophole in his support of groups that oppose marriage equality. This week, he began raising working on the WinShape Ride for the Family, which is a fundraiser for an organization that lobbies against gay marriage. With Chick-fil-A and WinShape logos on everything.

The loophole? Well it seems that he’s asking participants to write checks directly to the “Marriage and Family Foundation” instead of them going through Chick-fil-A or WinShape.

When I was a kid, I was in the scouts, and I sold popcorn every year. When people wrote checks, they were made out to Boy Scouts of America, not to me. That doesn’t change the fact that I was acting as the salesman.

So I take back everything I wrote yesterday. Sorry, Cathy, no dice. Still going to cook copycats of your chicken from internet recipes.

And Anti-Chicken Day is still on.


Chick-fil-A: What Now?

The Huffington Post is reporting that Chick-fil-A will cease donations to hate groups, namely the Family Research Council and Exodus International.

HuffPo’s source was an LGTB activist group, the Civil Rights Agenda, who announced in a press release that Chick-fil-A distributed an internal memorandum, and would:

  1. Cease donations to anti-LGTB groups.
  2. “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender”

No word yet from Chick-fil-A themselves about the cessation of donations, but their website does say on its FAQ:

The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our Restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

If I remember correctly, though, it already said this even while donations were being made.

In any case, I see no reason to doubt the stories at this point. And, with that tentative acceptance, I think it’s a great step forward for gay marriage in America. But…

Is it enough?

In my opinion, yes. But there are a few things to consider…

While the widely-known Chick-fil-A boycott was sparked by Dan Cathy’s comments on July 16, boycotts have been in place for the past year, based on the Exodus and FRC donations. If you were boycotting Chick-fil-A, you should probably ask yourself why.

If it was for the donations, as was my own decision not to support them, then this move is enough to resume that support. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m about to drive down the road and eat an army of chicken nuggets. But I will no longer make a point not to support them.

If you chose to boycott them due to Cathy’s comments, though, you’re in for a world of hurt if you try to universally apply that. Can you really claim to know the sociopolitical views of every COO, CFO, CEO, and President of every company you patronize? Do you boycott them all?

What about personal donations?

Now here’s another question: What if Dan Cathy decides to donate to the organizations from his own pocket? It gets a little more complicated there, because Chick-fil-A is his livelihood. But in my opinion, it would not be enough not to eat at the restaurant.

Corporate structure is more complicated than “This is the guy in charge.” Profits go towards a lot of people’s stock options and salaries… from the COO down to the custodians. And at least one of those people supports something you don’t like, no matter what your views.

Also, you’d have to look at other companies as well… Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. was run by an anti-abortion and anti-gay activist for a long time. But his donations were from his own funds.

What do you think?

Has Chick-fil-A done enough to earn your support with this move? Will it affect a decision you have made not to eat there?

For those of you who agreed with Chick-fil-A during the boycott, does this change your mind?

(For the sake of argument, please stick to the issue at hand, which is not the chicken. If you don’t like Chick-fil-A sandwiches, or don’t eat them, use your imagination and pretend it was a business you do care about. When the situation was going on last month, I kept having to filter it through the question “What if it was Taco Bell?”)

UPDATE!

Never mind. He’s found a loophole and continues to fund these groups.


Romney’s Comments and the Unsettling Truth they Reveal

By now, I’m sure everyone’s heard about the comments Mitt Romney made at a private fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. earlier this year. Mother Jones broke the story yesterday, including secretly captured videos where Romney makes a few generalizations about the 47% who are “committed to Obama”. The most telling part:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. [emphasis mine]

I want to address that supposed sense of entitlement for a second. Is the fact that people need food, shelter, and medicine to survive really a sense of entitlement? Is the fact that some people are in situations where they are unable to provide for themselves a sense of entitlement? What if his statement had been about people “who believe they are entitled to police protection, a fire department, education, libraries, roads, national defense”? People who think the taxpayers should support the preservation of life through feeding the hungry and providing healthcare and shelter aren’t doing so out of a sense of “entitlement”.

But more than that, it speaks to an unspoken a very often spoken opinion held by those on the far right, which is finding its way more and more into mainstream conservative ideology: That people’s financial situations are (almost) always deserved. It’s a worldview that seems to come straight out of the pages of a Rand novel: The rich have earned their place, the poor are lazy, and the unregulated free market will solve everything better than the government ever could.

Other unspoken assumptions in this opinion include the idea that everyone starts at the same level, that everyone is granted the same opportunities along the way. These assumptions are frequently made by white males, who are unaware (or in denial) that they’re playing the game of life on Easy Mode.

The dichotomy, though, is perhaps the most disturbing part. The mantra has become “absolute market control vs. absolute government control”, “Libertarian vs. Communist”, “Strict statism vs. unregulated capitalism” etc.  If a candidate (or voter, for that matter) implies that a resource can be better provided by the taxpayers, the cries of “socialist!” begin, even if other provisions are left up to the market.

It’s possible, of course, that with these Gov. Romney was simply pandering to his crowd. But it’s just as disturbing that his crowd thinks this way. In the eyes of this group, if you support a liberal candidate, you are a lazy freeloader. This is what the people calling the shots think of you.

And this is what a man who wants to be your president thinks of you too.


No, the US Did Not “Apologize” For the Attack

The rumors flying across the Internet today say that after the shootings at the embassy, President Obama “apologized” to the attackers for the offensive video that supposedly prompted the attack. These rumors are being pushed by none other than Mitt Romney. Hillary Clinton’s name is being touted as an “apologist” as well, despite her statement:

Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
(emphasis mine)

The White House, on the other hand, not only didn’t apologize, but disavowed an apology by the US Embassy in Cairo.

More information: