Bad Headline Theater
Dear liberal friends. We had a bad election. We are going to have a bad run here and the conservatives are going to do a lot of stuff that makes us angry. At least fifty percent of the time, our anger will be justified.
Some of the time, though, we need to make sure we understand what is making us angry.
Earlier this week, a friend posted this article with the headline “Dino’s Gyros Cans Employee who Took off for ‘Day Without Immigrants’ Protest.”
Now it is true Dino’s Gyros canned an employee who didn’t show up for work and it is true that employee was taking part in the day without immigrants protest. This headline would make you think Dino’s Gyros were Capitalist fucks who didn’t give a shit about causes important to their employees.
And let’s be fair – they may be.
The truth, which we see if we read the whole article, is that they admitted they should not have fired him because he was participating in a legal strike and they offered him his job back with a raise. He turned it down.
Then there is this story which has the headline “Oklahoma Legislature Just Passed the Most Oppressive law Against Women in History.”
In this case, the law in question is pretty horrible. It requires a woman to get permission from the father before she has an abortion, which is some seriously misogynistic bullshit because it takes a woman’s control of her own body away from her.
But – and given the headline this is super important – the law hasn’t passed yet. Later in the article you will read that it has only been passed out of committee.
And believe me, if the legislature actually passes this law as it is written, I’m going to be bringing it up again. And I will find an opportunity to refer to Oklahoma lawmakers as “controlling gibbons who care about the lives and health of women only slightly less than they care about the lives and health of babies once they are born” when that happens.
All the bad laws in the world don’t justify a headline that is demonstrably untrue. In a world where the term “fake news” is used as a weapon, we have to be doubly sure we are precise.
Assholes Throwing Their Garbage on the Ground
I actually witnessed this at a McDonald’s drive through this week. Someone purchased an iced coffee drink (I’ll tell you how I know it was an iced coffee drink in a minute). Then they drove forward about twenty feet and (I presume) poured the iced coffee into another container. They stopped, opened the passenger door, and threw the cup on the ground.
Then they drove off.
Now at this particular McDonald’s, there is a trash can just around the corner from the drive through no more than ten feet from where they dumped their cup on the ground. It is conveniently situated so a driver could roll down their window and throw their trash away.
But that, apparently, was too much work for these folks.
Such behavior isn’t an accident. Tossing your cup into the parking lot when there is a trash can mere feet away isn’t something that you do by mistake. There was a clear intent to make someone else’s life more difficult. And to make a McDonald’s parking lot somehow more unattractive than it already was.
I don’t know why. Maybe the person at the drive through was rude. Maybe they were pissed that their iced coffee tasted a lot like it was made at a McDonald’s and not a Starbucks. Maybe they think trash on in a parking lot is beautiful. Maybe they were fired from that McDonald’s and felt that throwing a cup on the ground in the parking lot would send a powerful message of defiance to their former manager.
My son, being the helpful sort, pointed out that he would have no trouble picking up the cup and together we cleaned up their mess (which is how I know it was iced coffee).
Which means that manager will never learn a valuable lesson. I guess that’s a price I was willing to pay.
Prior to the Senate vote in which Jeff Sessions was expected to be confirmed as Attorney General, Elizabeth Warren was reading a few remarks about Sessions penned by Coretta Scott King. They pointed out that Sessions didn’t have the best record when it came to protecting the rights of his black constituents.
As is the case when this sort of thing is happening, the Senate floor was mostly empty. Senators like to talk but they aren’t particularly interested in listening.
This is a non-partisan issue.
Anyway, because she said some bad things about now former Senator Sessions, the Republicans chose to censure her. You just don’t say bad things about senators, you see. That’s the rules.
Warren, of course, has become a hero of the left and she’s fine.
The problem here is the fact the Republicans have basically served notice that they don’t give a flying fuck what the other side says and if they are tired of it, they will just force the other side to shut up. I mean, this isn’t much of a shock but frankly, all they needed to do was let her talk.
It didn’t fucking matter. Sessions was going to be AG and the words Warren was reading were already out there. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone on the Senate floor.
What took place was the Republicans reminding Senate Democrats (as well as the rest of the country) that they don’t matter. When they tire of Democrats chatter, they can shut them up.
I don’t like that precedent. And neither should anyone else.
I’m sorry I took the last two weeks off. Life intrudes sometimes.
We all know that we are entering week three of the Trump Presidency. I am trying to figure out how to write my blog so it isn’t just a weekly rant on all the horrible things Trump says and does. But I’m two weeks behind and he has been busy.
There is a lot of other stuff going on that pisses me off. It’s just that Trump is so fucking noisy.
Look, we all know that I don’t like our current President very much. I think I have very good reasons for believing he will go down as the worst person ever to run our country.
But I’m feeling like I need to stick with stuff he’s actually done. And therein lies the problem.
Earlier this week, Trump had a phone call with the Mexican president. Shortly after the call, news organizations reported that Trump had threatened to send American troops across the border to deal with some “bad hombres.”
A few hours later, it was reported that such a threat never happened.
Days later, however, a bunch of my liberal friends are still talking about Trump invading Mexico.
In a world where Trump is openly hostile to any news organization that doesn’t kiss his ass, the press actually has a responsibility to make sure what they report is accurate. Trump is doing all sorts of shady shit. Hell, this week he said this during remarks about Black History Month
Last month, we celebrated the life of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose incredible example is unique in American history. You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office. It turned out that that was fake news. Fake news. The statue is cherished, it’s one of the favorite things in the—and we have some good ones. We have Lincoln, and we have Jefferson, and we have Dr. Martin Luther King. But they said the statue, the bust of Martin Luther King, was taken out of the office. And it was never even touched. So I think it was a disgrace, but that’s the way the press is. Very unfortunate.
If you read the transcript of the speech, it was almost entirely about him. This isn’t made up. It’s something he actually said.
And what was he talking about? The way the press keeps reporting shit that didn’t happen. In this case, of course, it was a mistake the reporter in question corrected almost immediately.
The press has to do better. In the rush to break stories these days, they don’t take the time to verify what they are reporting. And that allows Trump and his minions to do all sorts of horrible stuff because they can point to the small number of erroneous reports as a reason why nobody should believe anything the press says.
And to all my liberal friends out there: please let’s all make sure we know what the fuck we are talking about.
Due to a lot of factors, my boys aren’t really involved in scouting any longer. I am supportive of scouting and even though I’m aware of the larger issues that surround the Scout’s continued public disapproval of LGBTQ kids (and atheist kids for that matter), I’ve seen some attempts by the organization to soften their stance.
The people my kids have worked with are good people and whatever the national chapter of the Scouts may choose to do, our troop is a good troop that, I think, would not engage in this kind of discrimination. If my kids were still engaged in Scouts, I don’t think I’d pull them over this because I’d be punishing my kids by taking away something they enjoy.
And that makes me kind of crazy. Because on the one hand, I wouldn’t want to punish my kids for being who they are. On the other hand, the Boy Scouts just punished a kid for being who they are.
As we move (slowly) towards acceptance of homosexuality in our society (even as some fight to be able to discriminate free from consequence), transgender rights has now become a new arena and I fear this fight will be harder because people don’t get it.
If you’ve spent your entire life being totally comfortable with your gender, you have no way of understanding someone who is identified as a boy because they were born with a penis but has spent their entire life playing the role of a boy.
As an actor, I get to stop being a character I don’t like when I’m done with the performance. Someone who is pretending to be a gender with which they do not identify never gets the chance to step off stage. They are constantly pretending. And it is exhausting.
Giving them the freedom to stop pretending ought to be something we all celebrate. It ought to be something that makes us happy because we ought to want other people to be happy.
I mean, aside from pedophile priests. You gotta draw the line somewhere.
But we don’t give a fuck about that because we are more concerned with who is peeing in the stall next to our kid. Our kid doesn’t care because they just want to get back to the playground. They probably didn’t even notice the person in the stall next to them.
Our own discomfort with the idea of gender identity is the problem. If we are cool with the gender identity we were assigned at birth, we can’t understand why anyone else isn’t.
The Boy Scouts should be a place where young men (and by that I mean people who identify as young men) can learn how to be responsible adult men. Part of that responsibility should be learning to accept that we aren’t all the same. Their rigidity is disheartening to say the least.
Most people who read my column are, like me, from Minnesota. If you aren’t from Minnesota, you probably know that the weather this last week was – in the language of the locals – “chilly.”
A couple of guys decided it would be extremely nice if US Bank Stadium would allow homeless people to take shelter there because football stadiums are huge and the weather was deadly.
And they were right. It would have been extremely nice.
So what they did was start a rumor that US Bank Stadium was going to do exactly that. They tweeted how the Vikings were totally willing to open up the stadium and the city just needed to approve it. Essentially, they wanted to force the city and the Vikings to do what they wanted by trying to make everyone look like assholes if it didn’t happen.
The city and the Vikings basically said “uh – no – that rumor is false and we can’t really do that” for all sorts of reasons including the fact there was a football game in the stadium at noon the next day and the stadium is not set up or staffed to be a homeless shelter.
Now it’s easy to say that they should have let folks in anyway but then you have to figure out how to get them out in the morning before the football fans started to show up at 10:00 AM. It just isn’t something that can be done without – you know – planning.
However, because this fake news story was picked up as being a real news story, some homeless people made their way to the stadium for shelter. Shelter the stadium was not equipped to provide.
And when the rumor mongers were called on their bullshit ploy, they basically said “why are you angry with us when the stadium was the one who didn’t provide shelter?”
Guess what assholes? Neither did you.
You were pissed about public funds paying for the stadium (I am too) and you decided that the Stadium should do something that was important to you. Not important enough to, you know, open your house to a homeless family or work at an existing shelter. No, it was just important enough for you to create a fake story and then act like a whiny toddler when it didn’t work.
President-Elect Trump (fuuuuuuuuck) tweeted this week that flag burners should go to jail for a year or lose their citizenship. Nothing about how burning the flag is a constitutionally protected right and he just doesn’t like it. No – he thinks people should lose their citizenship if they burn the flag.
While Trump fills his cabinet with individuals who will repeal or cripple the Affordable Care Act (which is sure as fuck going to affect me and my family), we talk about flag burning.
OK, so let’s talk about it. And let’s ditch the “flag burning is a reprehensible act but it is protected” part of the conversation. It’s as if we all need to hold up our hands and protest that we don’t like something because so many people are bothered by it.
And that is what pisses me off. Who gives an actual fuck? Has anyone ever been harmed by the burning of a flag? I mean besides the person burning the flag who might have, you know, gotten a burn because they were holding a burning piece of cloth?
Why have we, as Americans, decided that burning the flag is a despicable act? It’s a flag! A piece of cloth. It is not our country.
That the flag has become a sacred relic is embarrassing. So let me step up and say I don’t have an issue with anyone burning a flag. I’m reasonably certain that a country with enough nuclear capability to turn every other continent into a pile of atomic slag is strong enough to handle a few flags on fire.
I’m sick of the feeling that before we say something (flag burning, abortion, Hillary Clinton) is OK, we have to acknowledge how awful it is.
There is nothing awful about burning a flag. Our freedoms are not irreparably damaged when a flag is set on fire. In fact, our freedoms are enhanced. Burning a flag is an act of defiance but it is also an act of celebration.
It celebrates our right as citizens to openly criticize our government. Have we forgotten how many places on Earth that is not allowed? Is that really what we want here?
If it isn’t, then nobody should say “flag burning is a horrible act.” We should, instead, say “flag burning is a celebration of our constitution.”
And the thing is – this is all a distraction. Flags don’t get burned a lot. In fact, they hardly ever get burned at all. The fact we are talking about something that almost never happens is a ridiculous waste of time.
Our response should be “huh. Someone burned a flag. I wouldn’t even know about this if it weren’t for the 24 hour news cycle.”
Now who the fuck is in Trump’s cabinet again?