Tag Archives: racism

Tweet of the Week – May 21, 2022

Liz Cheney

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Worst Quotes of the Week – May 21, 2022

“Because a mentally ill teenager murdered strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political views out loud. That’s what they’re telling you.”

Tucker Carlson, responding to the mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York grocery store on May 14

Carlson also stated that “hate speech” is just speech that other people hate.  He and other right-wing pundits have been criticized for propagating “replacement” theory, which claims that native-born (White) Americans are being replaced by immigrants from other (non-Western European) countries.

“Abortion is not the way to help single Black mothers.”

Sen. Tim Scott, in an editorial criticizing a speech by Janet Yellen, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, about the impact overturning abortion rights could have on many working women

Yellen had stated, “I believe that eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy.”  She went on to say how abortion affects “particularly low-income and often Black” mothers and how a lack of access to abortion “deprives them of the ability often to continue their education to later participate in the workforce.”

Scott declared, “To me, this was stunning. I thought I had misheard her.  Was Yellen making the case for how abortion is good for America’s labor force?  But when questioned, Yellen doubled down on what I believe is a callous, inhumane reason for ending innocent life.”

2 Comments

Filed under News

Best Quotes of the Week – May 21, 2022

People gather outside a grocery store in Buffalo, NY where an 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 10 people on May 14, 2022.

“I would like to see sensible gun control.  I would like to see ending hate speech on the internet, on social media.  It is not free speech. It is not the American way.”

Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, New York, after a mass shooting at a local grocery store on May 14

Brown also declared, “We are not a nation of haters. We are not a nation of hate. We need to send the message that there is no place on the internet for hate speech, for hate indoctrination, for spreading hate manifestos.  I will be a stronger voice for that.  I believe that what happened in Buffalo, New York, yesterday is going to be a turning point.  I think it’s going to be different after this, in terms of the energy and the activity that we see.”

“Parents and caretakers across the country cannot wait.  They need our support now.  This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner. Additionally, with these funds, FDA will be able to help prevent this issue from occurring again.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, after passage of a bill in the U.S. Congress that would help to alleviate the current baby formula crisis

One of the bills provides $28 million in emergency funding to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to address the shortage. The money would also be used to increase staff at the FDA, such as inspectors who could help the agency accelerate the approval process for formula manufacturers.

It has to be noted that an overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted against the bill, even though a majority have been complaining about the ongoing baby formula shortage.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Worst Quotes of the Week – March 26, 2022

“Do you agree…that babies are racist?”

Sen. Ted Cruz, to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, repeatedly asking about her views on racism, children’s books and critical race theory (CRT)

He specifically asked if she agrees with a children’s book called “Anti-Racist Baby,” by Ibram X. Kendi, which is in the library at Georgetown Day School, a private school in Washington, D.C., at which Jackson was a board member.  Cruz held up a copy of the book and described it as one of the “most stunning” taught at the school.  He claimed it teaches children that babies are taught to be racist, not born racist, and that they are encouraged to admit if they have been racist and to talk about it.

In response, Jackson noted, “Georgetown Day School, just like the religious school that Justice [Amy Coney] Barrett was on the board of, is a private school.”

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how faithful would you say you are?  Do you attend church regularly?”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, inquiring about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s faith and how important it was to her

Jackson replied that, although faith played a big role in her life, she was reluctant to talk about it in detail because “I want the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views.”  Jackson noted she is “Protestant, non-denominational”.

Graham conceded that judges could separate their religious beliefs with the way they rule.  It must be highlighted, though, that Graham voted to confirm Jackson three times to other posts: her current seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court considered second only to the U.S. Supreme Court; her previous seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; and her previous seat on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Video of the Week – March 12, 2022

On March 10, disgraced actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 30 months felony probation and a USD 25,000 fine for his 2019 hate crime hoax.  After Judge James Linn announced the ruling, Smollett went on a tirade proclaiming his innocence and trying – again – to play the victim.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Book Less

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [‘hard-core pornography’], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964

You know the old puzzle: if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around, does it make a sound?  Using that logic, if a book is published, and no one finds its content offensive, is it obscene?

Obscenity seems to be subjective.  Right-wing extremists certainly feel that way, as they have (once again) assumed the role of moral overseer and decided they have the authority to determine what books are and are not appropriate for others to read.  To we writers and other artists, the term censorship is like holy water to a devil worshiper: it’s terrifying!  Whenever we learn that some people are challenging the presence of certain materials in a public venue, such as a library, we bristle.  But, instead of running and hiding, we’ve been known to stand and fight.

In the latest battle, the school board in McMinn County, Tennessee decided to ban the 1986 Art Spiegelman book “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” from its library.  The illustrated tome is Spiegelman’s recounting of his parents’ experiences as prisoners of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.  It won Spiegelman a Pulitzer Prize and, in 1992, the Museum of Modern Art mounted an exhibition displaying his original panels for the story“Maus” had been party of the school district’s lessons on the Nazi Holocaust.  The McMinn school board’s complaints about “Maus” are the usual gripes: language and nudity (animal nudity in this case).

It’s worth noting McMinn County, Tennessee is near the location of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, where the concept of evolution became intensely controversial.  In 1925 the state of Tennessee passed the Butler Act, a bill banning the teaching of evolution in its schools.  Evolution, declared legislators, contradicted the Christian Bible as the single standard of truth in public arenas, such as schools.  The move astonished – and frightened – many across the country.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) responded immediately by vowing to support any educator in the U.S. who dared to teach evolution.  A popular young high school teacher in – of all places, Tennessee – named John Scopes offered to be the defendant, if the state decided to make good on its promise.  They did.  On May 7, 1925, Tennessee authorities arrested Scopes and charged him with violating the Butler Act.

The ensuing legal battle made headlines across the country and the world.  The judge in the case showed his deference to the state by opening each session with a prayer and refusing to let Scopes’ defense call any scientific witnesses.  Ultimately Scopes was found guilty and fined $100.  The ACLU hoped the case would make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Tennessee State Supreme Court reversed the decision on a technicality.  Still, the repercussions were widespread.  The Butler Act was never enforced in Tennessee again, and similar measures in other parts of the U.S. met with failure.  But progressives realized they could never relax in the face of extremist ideology.

So, here we are in the third decade of the 21st century, where the U.S. has come out of two brutal Middle East wars and is now facing an onslaught of urban violence.  We experienced 36 mass shootings in the month of January, resulting in 101 injuries and 42 deaths.  That’s just in the month of January 2022 alone!

But, as usual, social and religious conservatives are more upset with books.  In October of 2021, Texas State Representative Matt Krause asked the Texas Education Agency for information about 850 books in school libraries.  He wanted to know how many copies of these books were in each library.  It didn’t surprise observers that the majority of the books are by women, non-Whites and/or LGBT authors.  The imperial Krause is concerned that taxpayers are funding the presence of these books in school libraries.  Yet, my tax dollars are wasted if those books are removed because he and other like-minded folks find them unacceptable.

Some disputes have become hostile.  Police in Leander, Texas got involved in a controversy over one book, “Lawn Boy” in 2021.  Author Jonathan Evison says he received death threats because of it.  Texas – where any restrictions on guns is considered anathema – isn’t the only state under siege by moral zealots.  Similar attempts at censorship and assaults on free speech have played out in Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

“If I had a statement, it would be ‘Read the book or sit down,’” says Evison. “I feel like these people are frightened because they’re losing the culture wars.”

Yeah!  Sit down and read – more than the Bible or the TV guide.

I will concede parents have the right to be concerned by what their children view and read.  But I feel banning books from a school library is just one step away from banning books in any library or elsewhere.  It’s truly not an unrealistic stretch to envision such a scenario.  The world has witnessed such activities in totalitarian societies, and the results are often sanguineous.

Once again, though, what is obscene?

The 1920s was a decade of both progress and excess, particularly for the growing film industry.  Although silent and in black-and-white, movies had begun to show a variety of mature content – mainly heavy alcohol consumption and sexual behavior.  Concern over the material became so intense that, in 1934, Will H. Hays – then head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) – introduced his personally developed “Hays Code”, a standard production guide for what is and what is not acceptable content for motion pictures.  The code remained until 1968, when the MPAA introduced its film rating system: G (General Audiences), PG (Parental Guidance recommended), R (Restricted) and X (mainly for sex, but also for violence).

By the 1960s, films were presenting increasingly controversial subject matter – and headaches for the MPAA.  The 1966 film “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” shocked audiences with its blatant use of foul language and served as one catalyst for the rating system.  The 1968 film “Vixen” became the first movie branded with an X rating.  The following year John Schlesinger released “Midnight Cowboy” with Jon Voight in the titular role.  It, too, was branded with an X rating.  Despite that, it went on to win the 1969 Academy Award for Best Picture – the first and (to date) the only X-rated film to win such an honor.  Viewing both “Vixen” and “Midnight Cowboy” now might make somebody wonder what the fuss was all about.

The film rating system took an odd turn in 1983 when a remake of the classic film “Scarface” came out.  The MPAA initially granted the movie an X rating because of its excessive violence.  Director Brian DePalma reluctantly trimmed some of the footage, and the film was rebranded with an R.  If it had gone out with the X label, “Scarface” would have been the first movie released as such because of violence.

Another X controversy arose six years later with “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover”.  The film’s gratuitous sexual content garnered an X rating from the MPAA.  As with DePalma and “Scarface”, director Peter Greenaway reluctantly agreed to edit out a small portion of the sexual matter – small as in some 5 minutes – and the film was upgraded to R.  The fiasco upset many in the entertainment community – not just in the U.S. but across the globe.  If the difference between an R and an X rating is a paltry 5 minutes, then how valid is a film rating system?

What is obscene?

In the 1950s, the Hays Code was applied to a growing new medium: television.  In motion pictures, the code, for example, dictated that people of the opposite sex could not be filmed in bed together, unless one of the duo (usually the man) had at least one foot on the floor.  In TV, however, even married couples couldn’t be shown in the same bed.  The rule went into effect after a 1947 episode of “Mary Kay and Johnny” showed the title characters hopping into the same bed.  But that taboo dissolved completely in 1969 with “The Brady Bunch”.  Bathrooms also were generally off-limits in television.  One exceptional first was a 1957 episode of “Leave It to Beaver”, when the boys tried to hide a pet alligator in the tank of a toilet.  An early episode of “All in the Family” produced another first: the sound of a toilet being flushed.

As mundane as all of these events are today, they each sparked a ruckus at the time.

Personally, I find excessive violence offensive.  I never laughed when I saw men and boys get struck in the groin in slap-stick comedy scenes in films and on television.  I grimace at bloody acts in similar venues, while others react as if nothing more than a sharp wind blew past them.  Conversely, many of these same individuals are horrified by the sight of blatant nudity, especially if the nudeness is that of a male.  It’s difficult to imagine now, but even as recently as the late 1960s words like pregnant and diarrhea were forbidden on television.

The word “bitch” is used frequently on TV today.  But, in 1983, a musical group called Laid Back released a song entitled “White Horse”, which features the line: ‘If you wanna be rich, you got to be a bitch.’  MTV played the video, but bleeped out the term “bitch”.  In 1994, Tom Petty released “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, which contains the line: ‘But let me get to the point, let’s roll another joint.’  Music video networks deemed the ‘roll another joint’ verbiage unacceptable and bleeped it out whenever they played the video.

In 1989, rap group 2 Live Crew released two versions of their song “Me So Horny”: what they dubbed the G-rated version and the R-rated version.  Radio stations played the G-rated version frequently, but the R-rated version generated the most strife.  At the start of 1990 a federal judge in the state of Florida considered the group and their music obscene and in violation of community standards – whatever that’s supposed to mean – and forbid local radio stations from playing any of their music.  Consequently, 2 Live Crew’s reputation and music sales skyrocketed.

I remember the controversy that erupted with the video to Madonna’s 1990 song “Justify My Love”.  Once again, music video networks assumed the role of moral protectorate and either refused to play the video or played it late at night, when children and other fragile souls – such as moral crusaders – were asleep.  Undeterred by the skirmish, Madonna packaged the video and sold it independently.

In 1965, The Rolling Stones made their debut appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, during which they performed a sanitized version of “Let’s Spend the Night Together”.  Producers convinced the group to sing ‘Let’s spend some time together’ instead.  Lead singer Mick Jagger leered at the camera – in the way only Mick Jagger can – when he spat out the words.

Two years later The Doors were presented with a similar option when they made their appearance on the show and performed their already popular and now seminal hit “Light My Fire”.  Sullivan’s son-in-law, Robert Precht, suggested they alter the line ‘Girl, we couldn’t get much higher’ to ‘Girl, we couldn’t get much better.  The group refused and performed the song as it was.  Their act of defiance resulted in their permanent ban from the show – a move I know upset them to no end.

I’ve noticed social conservatives haven’t raised concerns about inappropriate material in books like “The Anarchist Cookbook” and “The Turner Diaries”.  The latter served as a blueprint for Oklahoma City bomber (domestic terrorist) Timothy McVeigh.  If conservatives really want to ban books with sexual references and violence, they should start with the Christian Bible, which is rife with salacious and unsavory behavior.

Meanwhile, “Maus” has experienced a surge in sales as a result of the squabble surrounding it.  If there’s one way to ensure something’s popularity or success, it’s to try to ban it.  In other words, censorship always backfires.

Yet, censorship will always remain a threat to freedom of speech, expression and the press.  The war will never be won – by either side.  But those of us on the side of true freedom can win individual battles by standing up to self-righteous demagogues.

2 Comments

Filed under Essays

Worst Quotes of the Week – February 5, 2022

“Here’s a quick thought experiment: If AOC was fat and in her 60s, would anyone listen to another thing she ever said?”

TV personality Adam Carolla, about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to FOX News commentator Sean Hannity

Carolla, creator and co-host of the now-defunct “Man Show”, argued that while the 32-year-old politician is “young, vibrant and beautiful,” and “everyone’s always putting a camera and a mike in her face,” her “opinions are idiotic 95 percent of the time.”

“If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it, because the Holocaust isn’t about race.  It’s not about race.  It’s about man’s inhumanity to man. That’s what it’s about.”

Whoopi Goldberg, on The View

Goldberg made the comments during a discussion of how the Nazi Holocaust-centered graphic novel “Maus” was banned by a Tennessee school board.  That school board banned the book, Goldberg said, because there were complaints about the novel containing nudity and bad language.  “The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley.  Let’s talk about it for what it is – it’s how people treat each other.  It’s a problem.  It doesn’t matter if you’re Black or white because Black, white, Jews – everybody.”

Goldberg apologized the next day for her comments, but ABC announced immediately they had decided to suspend her for two weeks.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Hypocrisy in Action

I’ve often noted that conservatives can be incredible hypocrites.  For years they said no divorcee would be elected to the presidency.  Then they got Ronald Reagan, the nation’s first divorced Chief Executive, whose wife was the nation’s first divorced First Lady.  They dubbed Bill Clinton a draft dodger and condemned him for protesting against the Vietnam War while he was in college.  Then they elected George W. Bush who earned a comfortable spot in the Texas National Guard in 1968 and failed to complete his tenure.  They also elected Dick Cheney who claimed he had “other priorities” during the 1960s.

Conservative hypocrisy has reared its bigoted head once again – this time in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.  Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rick Scott and Tommy Tuberville submitted the correspondence to Garland complaining about what they perceive to be a double standard in punishment by the U.S. Department of Justice against the January 6 Capitol Hill rioters.  In contrast, they declare, many of the various protestors to the George Floyd killing who became violent haven’t met the same degree of discipline.

In part, the letter states:

“DOJ’s (U.S. Department of Justice) apparent unwillingness to punish these individuals who allegedly committed crimes during the spring and summer 2020 protests stands in stark contrast to the harsher treatment of the individuals charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. To date, DOJ has charged 510 individuals stemming from Capitol breach.  DOJ maintains and updates a webpage that lists the defendants charged with crimes committed at the Capitol. This database includes information such as the defendant’s name, charge(s), case number, case documents, location of arrest, case status, and informs readers when the entry was last updated.  No such database exists for alleged perpetrators of crimes associated with the spring and summer 2020 protests.  It is unclear whether any defendants charged with crimes in connection with the Capitol breach have received deferred resolution agreements.”

Please.  Spare me the anxiety.

The five angry White male senators don’t seem to understand the difference in the two events.  While some of the Floyd protestors devolved into rioting and vandalism, the original intent was to demonstrate against police violence; a recurring dilemma in the U.S.  The intent of the Capitol Hill rioters, however, was to disrupt congressional business and kill someone – most notably Vice-President Mike Pence.

Conservatives have warned about threats to national security posed by Islamic vigilantes and illegal immigrants for as long as I can remember.  But, these weren’t the people who stormed Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, as Pence oversaw certification of the 2020 presidential election.  The rioters were mostly White people – many of them former military and/or law enforcement – from across the country who felt their dear leader, Donald Trump, had been cheated out of a second term by a corrupt electoral system.  I can almost hear Al Gore and Hillary Clinton laughing.

But I don’t recall bands of angry liberals storming Capitol Hill in January 2001, demanding Al Gore be lynched.  I also don’t remember seeing similar renegades bursting into Capitol Hill in January 2017, calling for Joe Biden’s head.  And it’s obvious to most of us with more than half a brain that the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections were fraudulent.  Yet conservatives denounced anyone voicing their disdain to those two events as whiners and sore losers.  We were justified, though, in protesting.  But we never got violent.  No one smashed windows, kicked in doors and hollered for blood to be spilled.  Neither Al Gore nor Hillary Clinton stood before angry supporters, urging for violent retribution against Congress.

It’s ironic, however, that Merrick Garland is in a leadership position.  Five years ago President Obama nominated him to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Republicans – who held a majority in the Senate – refused to grant Garland the decency of a fair hearing.  Yet, they rushed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett last year, following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Again – hypocrisy in action.

1 Comment

Filed under History

Video / Public Meltdown of the Week – March 13, 2021

Piers Morgan didn’t react kindly to Duchess Meghan Markle alleging the British royal family is racist during her recent interview with Oprah Winfrey.  On March 9, Morgan stormed off the live television show “Good Morning Britain” when co-host Alex Beresford questioned his comments immediately after the interview.

First of all, I never could take Piers Morgan seriously.  Second, I didn’t know he was still relevant in any way and anywhere.  Finally,  BYE BITCH!

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Best Quotes of the Week – December 19, 2020

“Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.”

Dr. Jill Biden, in response to an editorial by Joseph Epstein

Biden earned her doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007.

“The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame.”

– President-Elect Joe Biden, on the Electoral College decision

The Electoral College had cast 306 votes for Biden and 232 for Trump, cementing Biden’s win.  The votes will now be sent to Congress to be counted formally next month.

“He has lost and he has to let it go.”

Geraldo Rivera, on Donald Trump’s ongoing election fraud claims

“When evangelicals can speak on behalf of unborn babies, can speak on behalf of law and order when it comes to White people and White property, but are silent when it comes to banners that proclaim ‘Black lives matter,’ the moral silence is stupefying.  We’ve gone from having to say ‘Black lives matter’ to now having to say ‘Black churches matter.’”

Cornell William Brooks, former president of the NAACP and a member of Metropolitan A.M.E. and professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School graduate program, regarding vandalism at 4 Washington churches following Donald Trump rallies

Leave a comment

Filed under News