Nelson Mandela and Phil Robertson: What does tolerance mean to you?

The two most significant news stories of the past few weeks include the death of one of the most dedicated freedom fighters the world has ever known and a comment made by the patriarch of the nation’s premier family when it comes to making duck calls. Both general storylines involve tolerance, persecution, and hate. They involve a minority and a majority, anger and love, popularity and dissent, freedom and expression. The world on one hand mourned the loss of Nelson Mandela in South Africa recently as we were reminded of his struggle for personal freedom, for equality for his people through the abolition of apartheid, and his support of nonviolent means to accomplish his peaceful and tolerant ends. On the other hand, many Americans are bemoaning the fact that a reality TV star in an attention grabbing interview likened homosexual practices to fornicating with animals citing the Bible as his intellectual foundation for that relationship. Which one of these happenings affected more Americans and sparked more discourse? Sadly, an unintelligible duck call entrepreneur…

So, because so many people are making Phil Robertson’s bigoted and ignorant comments a religious issue let’s fight fire with fire. The bible calls homosexuality and bestiality an abomination. In Leviticus, the bible also  claims that you can’t eat anything from the sea that lacks fins or scales. The bible dictates that if you are widowed by your husband you must live with his older brother and submit to his every demand so that he will take care of  your family. The bible decrees that meat should be prepared a certain way from clean parts of an animal. The bible claims that God is a murderer (the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jesus). Do these seem oversimplified? Absolutely. But, Christians, including Phil Robertson, apparently have the ability to pick and choose when the nuances of historical and cultural change apply to ancient texts and when those same words should be taken literally. Based on his logic, all of the following things are the same as homosexuality in God’s eyes:

Eating Bacon

Eating Shrimp

Eating Lobster

Eating Crab (ok you get it)

Masterbation

Anal Sex

Oral Sex

Gambling

Remarriage outside the family

Consuming alcohol

Being rich

All of a sudden I’m feeling like super gay guys. Come on, let’s be serious here. Christians don’t live their lives like they or their beliefs are being persecuted because they aren’t. But, when something hits the newsprint such as this story they are up in arms about how their lifestyle is being infringed upon along with their freedom of speech because of the growing tide of political correctness. Jesus taught about love, tolerance, humility, and caring for your neighbor. How does an unprovoked bigoted attack on homosexuals constitute the way of God? And, if it does, why would you believe in him or worship the teachings that are supposedly infallible that support those hateful conclusions Phil Robertson espoused. Christians in this country are not in the minority, they never have been. Just because they are jealous of the growing support minority groups receive when they are singled out by intolerant Christians doesn’t mean the prescription to cure that situation is to claim persecution. It’s so weak and if your only defense is “read the bible” then ok, do it. You’ll find that no one lives up to this ill-conceived hodgepodge of requirements for Christian life. We live in 2013 and it should be different than 200 B.C. but when our thought processes are so primitive it’s hard to see a marked difference.

Furthermore, something important in the name of tolerance did happen recently. Nelson Mandela’s life is a blueprint for how people of all colors and faiths and orientations can come together for what is progressive and good. Ending apartheid for black South Africans mirrors the fight against true persecution that many have fought and are fighting including homosexuals around the world. Why stifle their efforts by latching on to outdated references that are divisive and bigoted? Madiba spent 27 years in jail for his cause and you are mad because Duck Dynasty has a bad reputation. Ask yourselves, what is persecution? What is tolerance? What is religion’s purpose if it brings about hate instead of love? Next time you order the bacon wrapped scallops and God doesn’t smite you, remember that the bible was a book written a long time ago by people who were very possibly intolerant and misguided. God doesn’t require us to emulate their path of hatred, but instead, we can make the world a better place by fighting hatred with the nonviolent methods Nelson Mandela employed in his heroic campaigns.

Phil Robertson : A Guide to (Smart) Freedom of Speech

By now, we all know that television network A&E has put Duck Dynasty clan leader Phil Robertson on suspension for comments he made in an interview for GQ magazine. Those comments were especially disparaging to homosexuals, as Robertson in essence compared homosexuality to bestiality amongst other statements that weren’t exactly kosher. To be honest, I would have thought his comments about Louisiana being perfectly fine during the Jim Crow law time period would be more offensive, but in today’s society gay is the new black.

To be clear, Robertson is allowed to have his own opinions. He is more than entitled to say things that don’t include making threats to the POTUS or falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. Which, his comments were not either one of these things. He is more than allowed to say what he did.

Which is why he’s not going to jail over this. Robertson exercised his freedom of speech perfectly fine. There will be no legal consequences for his actions. But, as we have seen, there are private repercussions.

Does anybody remember the movie Die Hard with a Vengeance where Bruce Willis’ character was forced to wear a walking sign on the streets of Harlem, which prominently featured the “n” word? This case is very similar. Willis isn’t stepping outside his bounds as far as free speech goes. He is, however stepping outside the bounds of good taste and intelligent thinking. He also must realize that his actions are going to incite a certain response and reaction from the native population. In other words, he’s probably going to get killed. It’s the same thing with Robertson (minus the getting killed part). He’s allowed to make certain remarks, he just needs to realize that made in such a public forum that it is going to garner him a certain reaction which he must be prepared to deal with its fallout.

I’m sure that somewhere in his contract, A&E has reserved the right to put any cast members on suspension for any matter of things, especially public comments that could reflect on the television company. This is not wrongful termination, or even termination at all (it’s a suspension, not a firing). Robertson made comments that could hurt the reputation of the company, and the company has to take disciplinary action, plain and simple.

People also fail to realize that before Duck Dynasty was ever a thought for a TV show, that A&E existed as a company. They don’t need Duck Dynasty to survive. They are not committing suicide as a company. In fact, they have probably cashed out so hard on the popularity of this show in the past three years, that they could go a decent amount of time with it on ice and still be fine. It’s not their wallet they care about, it is instead their reputation. In all likelihood, it’s a suspension based on a breach of contract of some type, so they would have to go back on their signed intent in the first place if they were to not suspend Robertson.

Phil Robertson is entitled to his freedom of speech which he exercised. But he then must understand that whatever comments he makes, he is also subject to other people’s (including A&E) freedom of reprisal. This is not an attack on Christianity, it’s a suspension of a man for being dumb enough to not just answer questions honestly, but to take them a step further. If he was Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Wicca, Buddhist, what have you, it wouldn’t have mattered. If he made those comments he would still have been suspended no matter what. It may have been a “trap” by GQ to make him answer these questions, but Robertson is also entitled to the freedom of being smart enough not to answer those questions, or answer them in a different manner.

This all being said, I don’t care enough about these ZZ Top lookalikes and their scripted show to be sad or anything about this outcome. Just be aware that if you’re going to comment on it, I expect you to be intelligent enough to think the entire situation through.

Oh, and in case you’re curious. Remember the government shutdown? There’s more important things to be paying attention to right now, like THE BUDGET FOR THE GOVERNMENT BEING VOTED ON. Kind of the whole reason there was a shutdown in the first place. But, I’ll let you get back to your cable programs in the meantime.

I Can Wait to See You Again : Another Author’s Opinion on Hannah Erotica

Although I don’t disagree with the opinion voiced by my cowriter, Mr Madison, I would just like to expound on those thoughts while they’re still fresh in everyone else’s mind. Granted, this is all giving Miley Cyrus more attention than she is deserved, but what this writer writes about her isn’t going to affect her inflated ego one way or the other.

I agree with Madison about the fact that we need to be more conscious about the messages that crap Top 40 music is sending us as the listneners. In today’s day and age, it’s easy to avoid the Ryan Seacrest hosted music scene that comes with the garbage that is played over the radio on a daily basis. There’s XM radio, iPods, talk radio, or even CDs to listen to before you turn your radio dial to any popular music station. If you don’t want to be inundated with the trash flow that is played on the radio these days (irregardless of content, the music itself is bad), you have about another million options. And if you don’t want your kids listening to that music, set the precedent in the household that that is simply not the norm. Pretty easily done.

But then, how many of you actually sat down and intentionally watched the VMA’s? I know I sure didn’t, but I was still bombarded with images or news about what happened during them. I chose to watch a much better production in Breaking Bad on my Sunday night, but I was still made well aware of the happenings on MTV. Pretty much any internet news site or social network was completely exploding with VMA information whether you wanted it or not. Every memebase on the web started cranking out VMA related memes that hit the internet as fast as pictures of cats do. Which then leads to people talking about it at your work, or amongst your friends, or in your family. And it’s all part of a genius system, that attracts your attention to something so that it stays relevant.

And then what happens once you see and hear everyone talking about it? You get online and watch the performance yourself. And then, when you hear the song you realize it has a catchy tune you can’t get out of your head, which you hear the next time you accidentally turn on the radio. Which then leads you to turn on the radio more often, leading you to have your brain turned to mush by the dumpster bin quality of what is being played. And then when the moment of clarity comes when you realize what the catchy song is really about, you either don’t care enough to try and change, or you just stop listening to it. Either way though, you bought into The System.

One thing is certain, is that something needs to change. The System has gotten so good, so rich, and so powerful, that unless you literally live underneath a rock, you’re guaranteed to hear about the dunghill news that the entertainment biz cranks out on a daily basis. Whether you choose to invest any actual time and or money into it is a different matter, but it doesn’t change the fact that somehow, somewhere, you’re going to hear about it. And quite simply, that’s a huge problem. Blame it on America, capitalism, the FCC, the degradation of basic morals, whatever. But the fact will always remain that somehow, you’re to blame.

In a system based on greed, the person with the most wins. The most money, viewers, listeners, fans, stuff, etc. In a country where success is equated with excess, bigger is better as long as bigger means more. There’s even a television show based on people who do nothing but hoard things. We rank people and businesses based on the value of their assets, or what they have, instead of who they are and what they do. Album sales matter, not album content. Ratings matter, not what is being displayed on television. Quantity wins over quality every single day without contest.

So how do we avoid more Miley Cyrus controversy? It’s not by restricting what can or cannot be shown on television, or forcing strict morals on society, or issuing harsh statements from conservative watchdog groups. It’s by as a society on the whole, becoming less materialistic and greedy. Remember the old Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Sure, banning Miley in your household is going to make a temporary difference, but instilling values that don’t consist of the need to accumulate things is what is going to make the lasting difference. When you no longer care about the inane materialism that is in most pop songs, not only will you stop listening to that genre of music and all it glorifies, but you won’t even care to tune into MTV anymore, or the VMA’s specifically for that matter.

Does this all mean that I think it’s okay for Miley Cyrus’ disgusting performance being so raunchy and on basic cable that it overshadows that of Lady Gaga, who chose to wear a thong on-stage? I certainly don’t think so, but I don’t think that the immorality is the inherent problem. Regardless of whether you care (watch) about the VMA’s or not, The System has learned exactly how to maniuplate people into getting what they want. It’s built by people who want or have fame and fortune, as they project that image onto millions of other people who in turn desire the same thing. And if those aren’t your priorities, then you simply won’t buy into the System. The more people that don’t buy into it, the less profitable it will be, and the less we’ll hear about it. It’s not a quick fix, but it certainly is not going to be, after decades of the focal point of this country being the accumulation of wealth and power. Everything in moderation, especially Miley Cyrus.

 

Miley Cyrus: Hannah Erotica

I know you’ve seen it, I know you’ve seen it, and you’re a good person….but I know you’ve seen it. That intoxicating melody of Robin Thicke’s mediocre sex themed song setting it yet? First of all, why do people watch the Video Music Awards? Second of all, why do we care about Miley Cyrus? Thirdly, Britney Spears.

1. Who cares about the VMA’s? Imma let you finish but it’s just a cesspool of manufactured drama and controversy that is designed so you watch the next year and talk about it (yes, like I am now).

2. Hannah Montana is not real and Miley Cyrus has a manager, people. She wants to make money and remaining relevant is her only ticket to doing that, so she took advantage of the biggest stage she could find.

3. That manager is the same as Britney Spears employed. Remember the mousketeer? Then the python, then the loss of clothing, then the Madonna kiss at THE VMA’S, then the shaved head, then the $10 million or whatever she makes to be on the X Factor. Miley is doing the same thing because the business begs her too.

A simple solution to your outrage. Stop listening to awful music. Today’s music industry is more about industry than music. The songs are awful, the lyrics are juvenile, the melodies are computer generated, and the visuals are all sexual in nature. How dare you complain to the world that Miley Cyrus is corrupting your 14 year old daughter when you’re the one that lets her listen to Robin Thicke in the first place. Call it like it is, or prohibit the filth altogether. It’s a business that has nothing to do with music, quality, or decency, so questioning the merits of the VMA’s debacle on those dimensions is idiotic. Just change the channel, read a book, play a guitar, or embrace it for the soft core porn young celebrities represent and the fact that it is worth millions. But, please don’t make this a moral conversation when you’re watching MTV and the lyrics “I know you want it” are repeating in your head when you sit at work and while your daughter sits in school….

2013 Midsummer Classic Live Blog

11:25 And, Alvarez pops up to end it. By divine intervention, it wasn’t a strikeout. No clear ASG MVP, but Joe Buck wants to award it to either himself or a New York player. Because he knows best. 3-0 American League win, the National League is just straight up. – DC

11:22 Paul Goldschmidt hits a 2 out double off Joe Nathan. And then the umpire calls an obvious ball a strike on Pedro Alvarez (a Pirate). He’ll strike out anyway though. – DC

11:20 Why is the National League so bad? The Pirates. Andrew McCutchen just struck out again. – DC

11:19 The Umpire just wants to go home. Those were some borderlined pitches that Matt Carpenter took that home plate blue rung him up on. Of course, if I were him, I’d call those pitches strikes all day too. The National league just refuses to get their bats off their shoulders. 2 hits through 8 1/3. – DC

11:11 Make a wish, I wish for a NL win. Of course, Jason Grilli gave up the triple to Prince. A Pirate. Go figure. Back to back groundouts though, as the NL infield looks Fielder back to third base. Who is still catching his breath from running 270 feet. – DC

11:10 Prince Fielder just does the impossible and runs, but Fox needs to give Rivera a 5 minute interview.  Why do I expect anything different? – JD

11:07 And hit triples, thanks to Carlos Gomez. – DC

11:06 Prince Fielder also likes to eat. – DC

11:04 Me : (on Blue Diamond Almond commercial) “Almonds are really expensive, and brand name ones? They cost so much.”

Thurston Howell : “I wonder how expensive that hot mama is.” – DC

10:59 Is Tim McCarver really dissecting Metallica lyrics and how they relate to Mariano? I think enter night is a racial term, at least. And off to Never-Never Land can be a good time if Peter Pan is telling it to you. – DC

10:52 #EnterSandman as FOX Sports assumes the position for Mariano Rivera. Joe Buck just went six to midnight. – DC

10:47 I never knew that one could strike out on a 2-1 count, thanks for the education Fox Sports and the incomparable Joe Buck. -JD

10:44 Dom Brown is too busy gazing into Elysium that a double by Jason Kipnis goes over his head for an RBI and a 3-0 AL lead following a double play ball by Torii Hunter. Also, Machado just swung at one that bounced way up there LOL. Newb. – DC

10:40 Back to back hits to start the top of the eighth  by Salvador Perez and Jhonny Peralta off Craig Kimbrel. Joe Buck is dissecting about how it makes so much sense to bring Mo Rivera in for the eighth rather than the ninth, but he’s actually wrong. He just wants to talk about New York more, who probably is paying him per mention. – DC

10:34 No, it’s okay NL. Swing at pitches that are balls, and take pitches that are strikes. Blue Jays pitchers tag-team for back to back strikeouts of Brown and Buster Posey. This offense is pathetic. – DC

10:28 Jim Leyland is afraid of Dom Brown and how he’s gonna hit a game tying home run here following a David Wright single. 2-0 AL, bottom 7. – DC

10:27 Manny Machado. Self-explanatory. -JD

10:25 What a play by Machado. Only 21 years old. I still hate Joe Buck, though. -TH

10:19 I think a better way to Bless America would be Jennifer Lopez streaking across the outfield, instead of her ex-husband Marc Anthony singing a song. – DC

10:16 A fat slug, I mean, Bartolo Colon, could beat Edwin Encarnacion in a race. – DC

10:09 Andrew McCutchen strikes out with a runner on. I bet all the Steelers fans out there are thinking up excuses for why he didn’t get a hit. Fact of the matter is, the Pirates strike out too much, which is why they suck. – DC

10:04 mikey thomasJust realized that Bartolo Colon looks just like Mikey Thomas from Backyard Baseball -TH

10:03 Grant Balfour is kind of losing it. Four pitch walk to Michael Cuddyer, and then the camera cuts quick to Bartolo Colon, who they paged seconds before to tell him to put down the cheeseburger he was eating, as they were about to show him on camera. Also, the only reason he came to New York to play was because they told him there was unlimited free food. And steroids. – DC

10:02 My heart sank when I realized that I would have to listen to the mindless commentary of Joe Buck again in the post-season. -JD

9:52 Jose Fernandez is only 20 years old and is pitching in the All Star Game, which is amazing because when Joe Buck was 20 years old, he was still in 10th grade. -TH

9:48 I feel like I am beating a dead horse but if I see one more blatant endorsement during this game, I may lose all respect I have for Fox sports and the MLB. -JD

9:44 A Phillies pitcher always gives up runs in the All-Star game. Ugh, Cliff Lee. 2-0 AL, bottom 5. Branny Phillips is showboating like a boss though, barehanding double play balls like it’s his job. Wait……… – DC

9:35 Joe Buck should be like the streaking fan. Neither seen nor heard. -TH

9:34 Adam Jones representing Baltimore well. Joe Buck is still talking about the Yankees. -TH

9:33 I am waiting for Joe Buck to gaze upon the faces of Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington in the New York skyline.  Two of his favorite things to do, sell out and blow smoke up the butt of the Big Apple. -JD

9:33 If Joe Buck can see Elysium in the New York sky, I wonder if he can find love in a man’s eyes? – DC

9:32 I guess with all issues surrounding steroids and baseball, the MLB has started to try and find other avenues for revenue. -JD

9:29 Elysium is about as real as Joe Buck’s friends. – TH

(At this point in time, the camera shows the outfield sky, and Joe Buck says “There it is, Elysium” in an attempt to promote the trailer of the movie that was just shown during commercials. It comes off awkward and flat, and there’s a long pause afterward where I imagine everyone hit the mute button to cover up the laughter at how idiotic a comment it was.)

9:27 Joey Votto has “Paint it Black” as his walkup music. Boss. Also, shut up Joe Buck. The Pirates aren’t fun to watch. They strike out the third most in all of baseball. Can’t wait for their second half tank. Still 1-0 AL, bottom of the fourth. Wright up to bat, McCutchen on third pinch running for Beltran, after stealing second and reaching third on a groundout. I bet he gets stranded. (Update) – He does. – DC

9:25 Of course King Felix only is hittable when he’s pitching with the Orioles on his team. – TH

9:25 How much can Fox and the MLB  suck up to the city of New York? Like I thought this was about the players not the host city. -JD

9:17 Joey Votto sucks at fielding, but not as bad as Miguel Cabrera sucks at running. In unrelated news, I wonder if mouth cancer is giving Chris Davis his superpowers this year? – DC

9:13 Hopefully that bat hit Joe Buck -TH

9:11 Nobody likes Mr. Met. Phanatic all the way. – DC

9:09 All Star games are supposed to be a showcase of the best players in the league. Not just a pitching match-up.  I want to see big hits and clutch plays like Ichiro in 2007.  The AL could have the most potent line-up in the game’s history and they have one hit through 3? -JD

9:01 I don’t want to see commercials about women, trucks, or horses. Or country music. Or any of that garbage. Just stop, truck companies. None of that is good. – DC

8:59 Robinson Cano getting beaned is the highlight of the night so far. -TH

8:57 Nomar Garciaparra is a better SS today than JJ Hardy. And, his batting routine is way more fun. – DC

8:50 All right, Chris Sale is dirty. That slider? Making Carlos Gonzalez (the best NL hitter) look like Desi Relaford. – DC

8:47 Darryl Strawberry probably hit up his crack dealer for tickets to the game just for old times sake. Also, why is David Wright hitting cleanup? Is this just a giant NYC lovefest tonight? Besides Robbie Cano getting hit by a Matt Harvey fastball and having to go for X-Rays, that is.  -DC

8:43 Is Matt Harvey, as a young pitcher, really good enough to strike out a batter with the skills like Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Adam Jones? – JD

8:37 Looking at the starting lineups, I must say that I agree with Bryce Harper batting ninth. Superstars like Edgardo Alfonzo hit ninth for the NL in the past. – DC