Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A hockey fan based pondering of ignorant bigotry…

Shall we?

Longtime readers know that this bitch adores hockey.  I’m a proud Blues fan and I’m beyond excited that the NHL season is about to begin.

Pause…do the dance of hockey joy…continue.

I follow hockey on and off the ice. For the most part, hockey players are a lot like regular everyday folks…some of them are assholes, some of them are people you can imagine being friends with, others live superstar lifestyles that are impossible to identify with.  

Professional athletes are people who play a sport professionally…

…and that’s an important point to hold on to when exploring the complex issue of bigotry and taunting while on the ice.
 
Full disclosure – I think that the NHL or the NHLPA or better yet a partnership between the two needs to develop rules that support a respectful workplace. That’s the way to look at the issue of diversity and anti-bigotry in hockey…the ice and rink are places where people work and I think that the players deserve the same respectful and inclusive workplace that folks in the front office likely have.  I also think all NHL employees could use some diversity training…y’all can’t go around talking about how hockey is for everyone when certain folks are off message like a motherfucker.

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

In one month we have seen a banana thrown at a player while he went to take a shot on goal and then that player, Wayne Simmonds, turned around and used a homophobic slur to taunt Sean Avery who managed to make news for participating in a pro-marriage equality video in between making news for getting arrested for tangling with police officers at his home in LA and making news for accusing and then being accused of using racial slurs to taunt players of color last year.


He’s an agitator…he’s been accused of using racial slurs in the past by players of color who said Avery really likes to call folks monkeys…and he is infamous for a public display of sexual harassment and disrespect that featured him chastising opponents for dating women he once dated by pondering why players are interesting in his “sloppy seconds”.


I don’t care if Sean Avery called him a monkey…he probably did.  Using homophobic slurs isn’t an acceptable response to Avery’s taunts and agitation. It isn’t…won’t be…and should never be.

I support LGBT groups who are now lobbying the NHL to push for the inclusion of homophobic slurs among the shit that players and employees can’t do.

Racial slurs are already included…and note that the inclusion of racial slurs has not ended the use of racial slurs, because hockey players tend to settle that shit on the ice rather than take a complaint to human resources. 

I love hockey and I love my Blues…I want the sport and my team to be things I’m proud to cheer for.  I want game night to truly reflect the statement that hockey is for everyone.

But I sincerely hope that those championing Avery in this latest dust up pause and consider the opportunity here.

The opportunity is to discuss how to make hockey and the NHL more inclusive…how to improve the climate for all players on the ice…and how to develop policies that empower individuals to meet those goals.

I’m behind that…because that will help the Wayne Simmonds of the sport understand that they need to keep their homophobia out of the workplace and help the Sean Averys of the world understand that they need to keep the racism and sexual harassment off the ice too.

For the rest of us, this dust up is a great example of how bigotry is intersectional…a white LGBT person can be a bigot, a black person can be a homophobe, a man with disabilities can hold anti-Muslim views, and so on and so forth.

As I said earlier, hockey players are people…

…and people are capable of ignorance and greatness, love and hate, a great shot or no hockey skills at all.

This hockey fan is hoping these incidents help us move forward, on and off the ice.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A note about self-care…

Shall we?

An activist friend recently asked me how folks continue on in the social justice movement during times like this…when it feels like the forces of evil are winning…when those around us are pushing apathy like it’s the new “it” drug…when chaos rules, greed thrives, hate grows, and the prize seems too far away to keep our eyes on it.

The answer to that question keeps changing and is a little bit different for everyone.

I know some people who focus on work/life balance.

Other folks shut down to recharge on a regular basis.

Still others indulge in debauch and get their party on...hard.

Me?

I tend to do a little bit of everything or anything...whatever it takes to get back to well.

I take time for family…not as much as I probably should, but I never claimed to be perfect.

I allow myself to not be perfect…(see sentence above).

I always take Saturdays offline…well, not always.

Didn’t I say something about not being perfect (wink)?

And when I need to crash…when the weight of it all is just too much…when I feel like I’m going to lash out at the next motherfucker who tries to spin hate as love, murder as justice, oppression as empowerment…

…when I need to crash I crash.

As a matter of fact, today I’m emerging from a good old fashioned couch-based no shower taking take-out food munching trash novel reading two day crash!

And I feel better.

I opened up this computer and didn’t resent doing it.

I read my email without dread.

And when I read the first message about [insert outrageous injustice here] I wasn’t filled with apathy…my soul ached but that’s human and okay…

…and my mind responded with thoughts of how the hell we can beat back the bad to make room for the good.

My Grandmother used to say that they call this a struggle for a reason.

I’m going to add that those of us who take up the cause of justice need to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

So, take care…take time for you…crash if you need to…watch a shitty movie or read something non-movement/politics/activism/reality related…garden…have great sex…whatever.

Take care.

The movement…the struggle will be there when you come back…and it needs you strong, solid, and ready to get set and go.

Thanks for the question, Z!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Untitled…

Longtime readers know that I’m a crime buff. I’ve been fascinated with human behavior and how it is displayed through both crime and reaction to crime.

The Troy Davis case sits heavy on my heart…and it reminds me of another Georgia murder case from way back that ended in death even as it failed to distribute justice.

When I was a wee one I watched a television movie about the murder of Mary Phagan. Phagan was a 14 year-old girl who was murdered in 1913…she had gone to her place of employment…a factory…to claim her pay and disappeared. Her body was later found at the factory.

Evidence found at the scene pointed toward a black man who worked at the factory…

…but suspicion turned on the factory owner, Leo Frank.

Anti-Semitism factored into the police investigation…Frank was Jewish.   

Anger at industrialists also played a role...Frank was wealthy.

Leo Frank was arrested, tried, and found guilty…

…he appealed and was eventually granted clemency because the trial was a controversial mess showcasing racism, anti-Semitism, and questionable eyewitness testimony.

Shortly after gaining clemency Leo Frank was kidnapped from prison by a mob and lynched.

A mob that had decided Frank’s guilt…a mob that dismissed the evidence cited in the statement of clemency…a mob that was so secure in their certainty and the support of the masses that they didn’t even bother to hide their faces as they stood for a picture with Frank's hanging body.

70 years later a man who had been a child working at the factory came forward…he explained that he had seen a black man carrying Mary Phagan’s body in the factory but his family made him promise not to tell for fear of reprisals from the same people who were set on punishing Frank.

This new witness said he wanted to die in peace.

He passed a lie detector test and, after re-examining the evidence, historians have determined that a black man who worked at the factory was likely the man who murdered Mary Phagan.

Death as a punishment for murder requires certainty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Certainty can be a very dangerous thing.  

The mob wasn’t focused on finding the murderer of a young girl.

The mob was out for vengeance and fueled by rage.

It has been nearly 100 years since the murder of Mary Phagan…100 years of death as a punishment for murder, be it by lynching or vigilante or the justice system.

100 years of the mob.

Applauding Governors for high incarceration and execution rates.

Dismissing the recanting of faulty eyewitness testimony.

Ignoring a lack of physical evidence.

The mob is still out for vengeance and fueled by rage.

And today, as it was then, murderers walk among us while the mob sits back satisfied.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Well, appeasement hasn’t worked…

Over the weekend I heard that President Obama would reveal his plan to reduce long-term deficits. It includes a repeal of the Bush era tax breaks for folks making over $250,000 per year…and it also includes some tax-based changes to increase the likelihood that the rich will pay the same percent in taxes as the masses.

Twas telling that a gang of conservative minions is already out there fussing about Class War.

The Obama administration is spinning against that label hard…

…but, after a year spent watching conservatives and their tea adoring allies attack the elements of society that serve the rest of us in order to protect the overflowing pocketbooks of the few, I welcome a discussion of Class War.

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

Shall we?

Wealthy folks have used their considerable influence within government to manipulate tax code in their favor for decades.

We the people have been told all manner of bullshit lies about how that get-out-of-paying-your-fair-share manipulation is good for us, as if we’re serfs and the wealthy are old school nobility that exist to save us from own ignorant selves.

I’m old enough to remember trickle down economics in practice…and how that anemic trickle never seemed to make it down to the majority.

So yes...what the heck...let’s talk about Class War.

Let’s talk about using the weapons of government to attack organized labor.

Let’s talk about holding our economy hostage through Debt Ceiling political theater so that effective social programs get slashed while the wealthy feast.

Let’s talk about taking a hostile posture toward Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security…all programs that benefit the majority of Americans…because working to preserve these programs would require actually sharing sacrifice rather than just talking about sharing sacrifice.

Let’s talk about the percent of tax most Americans pay as compared to the percent of tax all the folks who live in [insert wealthy gated-for-fear-of-the-unwashed-masses suburb near you here] pay.

Pause…sip more coffee…continue.

President Obama’s proposal isn’t the launch of a new Class War.

We the people have been fighting this war since this nation was founded and citizen rights were determined by land ownership, gender, and race.

Millions of Americans are unemployed and a huge percent of Americans are under-employed.

14.5% of American households are food insecure.

Over 16% of children in America are living in poverty.

I could go on and on.

The minions’ response?

Brutal budget cuts, bizarre reckless proposed revisions to Social Security and Medicare…and, wait for it...calls for a balanced budget amendment that would mandate brutal budget cuts and bizarre reckless proposed revisions to Social Security and Medicare until those programs are programs in name only.

The Lindsey Grahams and Paul Ryans and Mitch McConnells of the world aren’t raising their voices in protest over the administration launching a Class War.

They are on their feet, fists clenched, in response to TALK of ending a SMIDGE of the multitude of appeasement government has been laying at their feet.

We keep giving them inches…

…they keep taking miles, building trenches, and erecting policy-based mine fields.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pondering a very special session…

Let’s jump on in!

I'm a political junkie and I’ve watched as liberals attack each other over loyalty versus criticism…conservatives attach each other over what the definition of conservative is…and so-called Main Street Americans express disgust over the state of all things plus the price of milk.

And the only thing everyone can agree on is jobs…jobs, jobs, jobs, JOBS!

This is where bitchitude demands that we pause and then consider.

Politics is local.

In my home state of Missouri we have a hell of a lot of state-based politics to wade through before we can turn our gaze toward Washington DC and get our fuss on about how FUBAR things are there.

Now catch that knee…CATCH IT!

That does not mean that people should not be critical of Congress or the Obama administration.

It just means that people need to brush up on basic School House Rock civics, remember that the federal government isn’t the only place making policy…and take a good long hard look at their state government to see if they aren’t fucking shit up their damn selves.


State legislators…and folks would do well to remember that each state has a bunch of those legislating all manner of things…are gathered to address some stuff Governor Nixon wants to get done that they didn’t get done during session because…well, let’s just say the 2011 session was held hostage by an outbreak of political posturing and pandering that got in the way of things like um, legislating.

So, Missouri state lawmakers are getting their Special Session on.  They have been tasked with deciding things like whether to return local control of the police department back to St. Louis city.

This dates back to the Civil War.

Yes, I’m serious.

Way.

State legislators also need to pass a package of tax breaks intended to make Lambert Airport a hub for freight flown between China and the Midwest.

That project, known as Aerotropolis, is a big fucking deal and holds the potential of long-term economic growth, construction, and…maybe even jobs.

Gasp.

Suffice it to say that this shit got mired in the muck fast.

And the choir asked… “Is it the same Democrat versus Republican power struggle mess that usually derails legislation?”

And a bitch replied… “Um, no.”

The GOP controls both the Missouri House and Senate…but that hasn’t stopped power struggles or political drama and it certainly hasn’t created an environment where legislation flows easily like shit from a well regulation intestinal tract.

The struggle to get anything done under the dome in Missouri is a good example of what many states face and why a lot of important stimulating things stall.

It’s like our state Assembly has a bowel obstruction…and, as the pressure grows and cramps kick in, legislators begin to make revisions and deals in desperate attempts to get shit moving again.

Year after year we see the same obstruction…um, issue.

And year after year folks look around wide-eyed and confused about why they can’t take a shit pass important legislation.

You know and I know that you know that I know that all eyes are on DC right now.

But I’m here to tell ya, what 's got the Missouri Assembly illish isn’t sourced in DC or the result of traditional donkey vs. elephant partisan politics.

Pause…consider…continue.

I’d hold out hope for a Fiber Therapy bill, but odds are the Republican leadership in Jefferson City would reject is as socialist junk and demand that everyone eat more cheese...

...and then they'd start arguing over what cheese is the best cheese and which cheese Reagan would have eaten and how they've been eating the Reagan cheese since they were kids but [insert rival's name here] is actually lactose intolerant so she/he is a lying about liking Reagan cheese and shouldn't there be an Anti-Fiber fetal heartbeat pledge because we need to protect the pre-born from bran and wasn't there a rumor that fiber has the HPV vaccine in it so anyone supporting fiber clearly hates America and anyone not eating cheese wants to destroy our freedom and Beck said the Founders rarely took a shit but look what they accomplished...

Blink.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The “yeah!” heard ‘round the Twitterverse!

Let’s jump right on in, y’all!

Last night CNN held the first ever GOP Tea Party debate.

Aside – that title was confusing because if it is a GOP debate then why not call it a GOP debate but if it is a Tea Party debate then they should call it a Tea Party debate, but by calling it a GOP Tea Party debate they basically framed the Tea Party as a brand of GOP…or should that be a flavor of GOP…when they don’t really seem to like the GOP, but I digress.

Anyhoo…the candidates for the GOP nomination debated for the Tea Party faithful and for that we should all be grateful.

Catch that knee…catch it!!

I’m not approving of CNN’s addiction to all things Tea Party. I disagree with a network shit disturbing to fuel an opposition that they see as an election season ratings generator.

But this debate forced the candidates seeking the Tea Party’s favor to go on record with where they stand on Tea Party politics…and that’s a good thing.  Looking back at then candidate Bush in 1999, I don’t recall him going on record for anything more than what his favorite sandwich was. 

Fast-forward to the now and we’ve got candidates seeking the GOP nomination publicly saying shit they may not even believe just to get some love at a john Birch Society revival! 


Y’all remember when Rep. Grayson said that Republicans wantthe sick to “die quickly” during a health care debate in the House?

Yeah, the faux outrage over that shit came to mind during last night’s debate.

Wolfie B. of CNN asked Ron Paul a series of questions about health care coverage and ended up with a question about whether an uninsured 30 year old man with cancer should be allowed to die because he can not afford the treatment.

The audience cheered.

More than one person yelled “yeah!!”

Twas sickening…disturbing…macabre…and just the kind of unscripted realness that we’ve been missing from a “movement” that has been given one too many passes from a media eager for that ratings generator I mentioned earlier.

They want to kill social security.

They either struggle to grasp the fact that there are jobs and then there are jobs that pay a living wage or they just don’t give a shit.

And they think the sick in America should die if they lack health care coverage.

America has a lot more to decide than whether they want tea or lemon with that tea…

Monday, September 12, 2011

For the good of the children...

I was going to write about all manner of things but I just read this opinion piece up on Stltoday.com and…well, I’ve got an opinion about the opinion expressed.

Shall we?

Illinois has passed a law recognizing civil unions between same-sex couples.

Catholic Charities responded by saying they do not recognize unions between same-sex couples…so they plan to not place foster children in homes where folks aren’t man-on-woman sanctified married.

This battle has been trudging through the courts.

A certain Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks that, because Catholic Charities takes care of lots of foster kids, the church based organization should be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples…

…for the good of the children.

This bitch disagrees on a point of dangerous logic that, if applied equally instead of just toward same-sex couples, would justify forms of discrimination foolish people like Mr. McClellan are likely convinced would have gone out of fashion if [insert activist led movement here] had just been a wee bit patient and tolerated being treated like a lesser than human.

Follow me here…

Buses in Montgomery served residents and even managed to carry black folk around town. All the owners wanted to do was be able to impose one standard of customer care to one group and a totally different standard to another.

Well, since they serve lots of folks…

Companies employ lots of people and all they want to do is be able to hire people who look just like them and not hire disabled people because they don’t want to have to change their office bathrooms or work stations.

Well, since they hire lots of folks…

Real estate agents show lots of houses and they match customers to properties for sale. All they want is to be able to show one neighborhood to one race and another neighborhood to another race.

Well, since they provide a service to most people…

States recognize the marriages of lots of people and facilitate those couples being able to get access to thousands of rights.  All they want to do is be able to deny black people the right to marry white people…and heck, they even have quotes from the Bible to back that shit up!

Well, since they have those Bible quotes and they marry lots of people and blah followed by blah followed by blah…

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

Catch that knee. I’m not seeking to compare oppression or trigger another round of the oppression Olympics.

I want what’s best for children in foster care. I want kids to be placed in safe and nurturing environments. But, on top of failing to pass the logic test of shit we should give a pass to McClellan’s opinion fails to recognize the other undeniable fact on the table – some of those kids Catholic Charities doesn’t want to place with LGBT people are themselves LGBT people.

McClellan is right about one thing…in the final analysis, we should err on the side of what is best for the children.

In this case, Illinois is doing that…

…would that Catholic Charities had the decency to do the same.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Great Toilet Exorcism of 2011…

Warning – the following post involves a toilet, a backed up sewer, plumbers, and an exorcism. If you have problems with shit, toilets, or exorcisms…well, this is not the post for you!

Shall we?

Those of you who follow me on Twitter are already aware of the story I’m about to share and how this bitch and a certain C-Money went to war with our downstairs toilet, which had become possessed by a demon…or, as the plumbers prefer to call it, a backed up sewer line.

Pause…shudder…continue.

I took Friday off with the hope of having a fantabulous and rare four-day weekend.  After running errands, I returned home for a relaxing evening with the dawgs.  Around 7pm Friday evening, I went to the loo to do what folks do when they go to the loo…only to have the toilet try to reach out and touch a bitch midway through the doing of the thing I went into the loo to do!

The toilet…we’ll call her Sister Girl Downstairs Toilet…was pissed off and not afraid to show it.  She let forth a fierce gurgle…it got louder and louder…I shot to my feet, bare assed and scared, and turned around just in time to see Sister Girl Downstairs Toilet erupt with a flood of stanky water the likes of which I’ve never seen before and have already informed the gods I never ever EVAH want to see again!

I pulled up my drawers and leapt from the bathroom at the same time, calling out to C-Money to come forth fast. She rounded the corner with a look of horror…and, after a shocked pause, we waded in to stop the flood.

So beganeth The Great Toilet Exorcism of 2011.

Gulp.
 
Sister Girl Downstairs Toilet erupted several more times Friday night…each eruption-based gushing flood nastier than the next. We quickly determined that running the water elsewhere in the house was connected to the gushes.  I took to Twitter and got lots of advice, eventually narrowing the possibilities down to a backed up sewer line, demonic possession, or a combination of those two options.

We called a plumber and miraculously were able to schedule the exorcism…um, err “appointment” for the next morning.

I had a horrible nightmare that night that involved a gator jumping up through the toilet while I was trying to pee and biting my ass cheek…so, suffice it to say I got less than 2 hours of sleep before Plumber Exorcist #1 (PE#1) arrived and examined the scene.

PE#1… “So, it looks like you’ve got a backed up sewer line. I can snake it and see if that takes care of the blockage.”

Sister Girl Downstairs Toilet … “Gurgle, belch…gurgle, belch…STANK!”

Fu, eyes round with horror… “Yeah, sure, um…whatever, dude…just take care of it, okay?”

PE#1, eager to explain why he needed to snake the line “…because the water is backing up and not getting through which is why…”

Sister Girl Downstairs Toilet… “BELCH, GUGGLE, BELCH…GURGLE…STAAAAAANK!”

Fu, now wild eyed and desperate… “I don’t give a flying shit what you have to do but you do what you need to do to make the shit stop flying out of that motherfucking toilet!!!”

PE#1 had obviously seen this kind of reaction before. He nodded, calmly filled out his paperwork, and went out front to snake our line.

Meanwhile, C-Money was busy looking up exploding toilets on the Internets. Every half-hour or so she’d pipe up with examples of how this eruption drama could be worse.

C-Money… “Some dude in Texas had a toilet explode on him and pin him to a wall!”

Fu… “Fuck you.”

Sister Girl Downstairs Toilet… “Gurgle, belch!”

Plumber Exorcist #1 came back in. He’d snaked the line twice but the demon wasn’t letting go.

It was time to send for another exorcist with a power hose to flush the line.

Sister Girl Downstairs Toilet, apparently aware that she’d bested the first plumber, proudly gushed some more sewer water and then fell silent.

Two hours passed…and then Plumber Exorcist #2 came to the house.

***cue the music***

He entered like a veteran toilet exorcist.

We began to tell him what was what about the multiple things the toilet was doing and that there were likely several demons within…but he cut us off.

“SILENCE! There is only one demon. Let me see the toilet now.”

We backed away as Plumber Exorcist #2 approached the beast.

Sister Girl Toilet belched and groaned.

The Plumber Exorcist nodded and turned away.

“Show me the basement.”

You bet your happy ass I did!

He was down there for a while…an ungodly stank rose from the vents...the house shook and I heard what sounded like an ocean flowing in the basement.

I’m pretty sure I heard Plumber Exorcist #2 chanting.

“The power of a flushed out main sewer line compels you! The power of water clearing a path for more water through the pipe compels you!”

The toilet gasped…gurgled and belched…and then fell silent.

A hush fell over the house.

After confirming that we could once again run water in the upstairs bath without inviting the sewer in to our downstairs bathroom, Plumber Exorcist #2 took his leave.

C-Money and I turned to look at each other and then leveled out shock-glazed eyes at the downstairs toilet…from a safe distance, because we no longer trust that bitch.

“No way in hell am I EVER using that toilet again.” C-Money said in a flat exhausted voice.

I nodded.

“No way in fucking hell.”

So endeth the toilet exorcism.

Blink.

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Labor Day Remembrance…

Some of my fondest memories are of Saturdays spent with my father…rest his soul.

I’ve always been a morning person and my father was too. On Saturdays we’d be up before everyone else in the house…and I’d watch him make a list of the things he needed to do or purchase that day. Then we’d be off…just the two of us, going through our Saturday father/daughter routine.

My father was a marketing director for a major soda pop company. He traveled a lot…worked long hours…and it often felt like he wasn’t present during the week.  He made sure my sister and I understood why…that he had to work to be able to provide for our family and that we should not take our home or three meals a day for granted. My father often shared stories from his childhood…he grew up in poverty and his childhood was one filled with hunger and want.

I have a vivid memory of one Saturday in particular. It had been a tough week for our family…my older brother had experienced some real challenges with his behavior therapy at school and my mother had put in 16 hour days trying to help him get himself back on track. Dad had put in the same kind of hours at his job, so by the time Saturday rolled in neither one of them had been able to get to the market.

The fridge was empty save for a container of hot sauce and some pickles.

I was around 7 or 8 years old and I remember walking into the kitchen to wish my father a good morning…and seeing him standing in front of that empty fridge with a look on his face.

A look on his face and shoulders slumped as if the weight of the world rested on them.

He looked stricken…

Desperate?

Haunted and…

Was that fear?

He turned to me and smiled a lost little smile.

Yes, haunted…stricken…with a touch of desperate fear.

And my father said…softly, so softly I would have missed it if the house weren’t hushed in sleep.

“I guess we need to go to the grocery store, huh?”

I remember nodding but wanted more than anything to give him a hug and tell him that it would be okay because we would fill that fridge to bursting.

But I knew with a certainty that is rare in life that hunger was still my father’s demon even though his belly was no longer empty…that he wouldn’t shake that haunted feeling until he packed up that fridge.

For him, providing through his labor wasn’t defined by flashy new cars or trendy clothes – providing was as basic as food and shelter and the absence of that triggered something deep within his soul.

We got dressed and hit the grocery store with a vengeance…he insisted that we go through every aisle and I remember giggling in embarrassment as he ate a bunch of grapes he’d snagged early on.

Our groceries were bagged…we returned to our house and unloaded them…and I watched as the tension left my father degree by degree as each shelf in the fridge filled with food.

When we finished he returned to his pose in front of the open fridge door, a satisfied smile on his face.

Twas so basic and raw and human…it took my breath away.

Sigh.

I remember the lesson learned that Saturday morning of why we labor…

…and that far too many labor for a wage that will never truly provide.

Happy Labor Day.