I spy with my little eye…outrage!

Sarah Silverman is in hot water over a video she did to comically highlight the alarmingly high wage gap between men and women in this country. Some transgender activists found it insensitive and took it literally.

 

 

The video is almost four minutes long, but it can be summed up in the following few sentences:

“Every year the average woman loses around $11,000 to the wage gap. Over the course of the working years of her life, that’s almost $500,000. That’s a $500,000 vagina tax! That’s why I’m taking matters into my own hands…I’m becoming a dude.”

To nearly everyone (gay, straight, bisexual, transgender) who watched, the message was pretty self-explanatory: Hey, I’m a woman and I earn less than a man because of it…so I’ll just be a man instead! It was hilarious and to-the-point: Working women deserve the same pay as their male counterparts.

Trans issues have nothing to do with the video. They just don’t. She’s not literally saying that women who undergo gender reassignment surgery will then go on to get equal pay. But transgender activist Janet Mock – whom I love and find incredibly inspiring – took to her Twitter account to claim Silverman was making that exact point. “Sex reassignment doesn’t help one advance in workplace,” she tweeted. “Ask one of the most underemployed populations: trans people.”

So much for irony and humor.

Silverman also took to Twitter to clarify what her intentions were in making the video (something she should not have had to do):

If I literally got a sex change I would indeed find the work force far less friendly. The video wasn’t transphobic it was transignorant – never crossed my mind. But to my *unintentional* credit- people are talking about it & so begins awareness. Please don’t punish this cause because of my video. I certainly don’t only fight for causes that concern or benefit me and I expect the same of the vital trans community.

The whole “backlash” highlights a little problem on the left (and I’m saying this as a progressive Millennial who cares deeply about LGBT rights): It’s become trendy and even expected to feign outrage for the purpose of being seen as socially aware. Let me be clear: Social justice is vitally important and fighting for the rights of all people is a liberal value that should be nurtured and encouraged. Injustice, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia…these ugly things exist and we must continually fight against and expose them where ever they are.

But there are too many progressives and liberals who take it to the next level. I can’t speak for everyone, but when one takes something that is not offensive to begin with (ie: the Silverman video), sprinkles it with accusations of bigotry or ignorance, and then condemns it publicly, it comes across as self-serving and self-righteous. It’s almost a way to say, “Look at how enlightened and socially conscious I am!” It serves no constructive purpose and only works to split hairs and as self-promotion.

Am I saying that Janet Mock is self-righteous? Not at all – she’s an incredible human being who has helped change the national conversation on what it means to be transgender. I love her work and I hope to meet her some day. But within activist and social justice circles, there’s a tendency to find problems and bigotry where none exists. Whether it’s accusing LGBT ally and liberal comedienne Sarah Silverman of being insensitive to trans issues in a comedic PSA or calling someone who critiques a religious doctrine “racist,” the theme is the same: Ego stroking disguised as awareness.

We need to move beyond this. There is too much injustice, bigotry and hate in the world that needs to be addressed and defeated.

still of Sarah Silverman from the video

still of Sarah Silverman from the video

 

Dear Brian Browns of the world….

With everything that has been written about the oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Supreme Court case challenging California’s Proposition 8 (spoiler alert: Prop 8 will most likely be a thing of the past), I’d like to take  a different approach and address the haters…….of the LGBT community, specifically those who frequently bring religion into the equation.

Brian Brown, head of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), recently compared same-sex marriage to slavery. He is one of many on the far religious right who have, for years, demonized and insulted members of the LGBT community. People like the American Family Association’s (AFA) Bryan Fischer and the Family Research Council’s (FRC) Tony Perkins have consistently outdone themselves in a sick game of who can say the most outrageous and degrading things about gays and lesbians. According to bigots like them, gays and lesbians are perverts, degenerates, pedophiles, into bestiality, unhealthy, Nazis, and unfit to raise children. Don’t believe me – simply visit the websites of these hate spewers.

Because actual  professionals in psychology, psychiatry, sociology and even biology long ago destroyed the many ridiculous arguments against homosexuality with reason, rationality and compassion, bigots like Brown and Perkins are left with using old-time, Hellfire and brimstone religion. However even that is becoming unacceptable as more and more religions and faiths move to accept members of the LGBT community just as they are. How do they respond: Homosexuality is wrong because sexist, homophobic, genocidal Bronze Age men said so!

To which I respond with this: If there really is a higher power, whether it is an actual being or energy force or what ever, I strongly suspect it does not care who I fall in love with just like it doesn’t care that women vote or people from different ethnic backgrounds marry. Your side of the argument has consistently used god and religion to fight against everything progressive, from the abolition of slavery to women’s rights and interracial marriage. What kind of deity punishes people with eternal damnation and suffering anyway?! What about the “God of Love?” The whole “You will burn in Hell for ________ (insert various actions)!” line is really getting old. Times change. Cultures change. The meaning behind words are in a constant state of change (Communication Theories 101). Religions, thankfully, also change.

If you still want to use hate, go right ahead; it’s a free country. However, here in the United States, there is separation of church and state. All citizens are seen as equal and are consitutionally guaranteed equality under the law. There’s a pretty big difference between consitutionally protected civil rights and religious doctrine. No one is coming or will come to your church and force you to marry same-sex couples. It’s not going to happen – get that myth and scare tactic out of your mind.

It is 2013 CE, not 2013 BCE. We don’t stone women and children and we no longer think Earth is the center of the known universe. America is not a theocracy, nor are its churches controlled by the state. It is time for your loud screaming and hate to go the way of Senator Joe McCarthy’s career – a disgraceful part of our history.

If you still cling to a brand of religious faith that preaches such hate and intolerance of everything different from it, that says something about your humanity (or lack thereof). The fact that there are countless compassionate, intelligent religious leaders and practitioners who accept their LGBT family, friends, doctors, lawyers, and coworkers just as they are delegitimizes your excuse for continuing to use religion as a tool to discriminate and oppress. Evolve or be left on the wrong side of history.

marriage equality

Dump Decency…for ‘Murica!

Last March (2012), after Starbucks backed a Washington state ballot initiative legalizing same-sex marriage, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) organized a “Dump Starbucks” campaign in response during the annual shareholders’ meeting. The goal was to get closet-cases and people who despise the LGBT community to stop buying cups of coffee at Starbucks, which would cause Starbucks’ market value to tank until they recanted their support for equality. You could almost hear NOM’s Brian Brown say, “Mwahahaha!”

What was the economic effect of Dump Starbucks? Well, the NASDAQ, a barometer showing the health of the stock market, was already in the midst of a dip – it ended up dropping over four percent; Starbucks (“SBUX” as listed in the NASDAQ) only dropped a little over one percent. In other words, as “The New Civil Rights Movement” pointed out last year, the entire market took a little dip during that time and despite that, Starbucks remained strong. Speaking as a Starbucks barista, this is no surprise to me; people find a way, any way, to pay for their addictions.

"Dump Starbucks" logo

This ridiculous campaign then mysteriously disappeared from the news faster than a Newt Gingrich marriage….until now.

CEO Howard Shultz (my boss) recently told a shareholder, who was protesting the company’s stance on marriage equality, that he was free to sell his shares and invest in a different company. The far-right’s reaction: Dump Starbucks…2.0! Yes, the failed and hilarious faux campaign is back.

So you can see through this non-sequitur, here’s what Shultz actually said at the annual shareholder meeting last week:

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

See?! Can’t you just hear and see the anti-Christian drivel oozing from Shultz’s mouth?? Outrageous…we must all boycott this hippie-pinko-commi-faggy corporation at once! Gays are recruiting our children! They’re gross! And something about gay sex!

It really is astounding that in 2013, there are entire organizations devoted to making sure loving, committed couples who happen to be the same sex cannot marry because it would somehow damage their members’ own insecure marriages. Somehow, committed, same-sex couples have a magical power to turn others gay…don’t catch “the gay,” people!

What’s even more astounding is that the cultural tide is turning rapidly. Poll after poll shows public support for same-sex marriage well over 50 percent. Some polls go far into the 60s. Support for marriage equality is even more pronounced and strong with members of my generation (“millennials”), where the number is between the high 70s and low 80s.

The be-afraid-of-the-scary-gay-couple tactic is even failing to work on growing numbers of young Evangelicals and conservatives, maybe because they’re able to tell the difference between equal rights under the law vs. specific religious belief, as opposed to their parents and grandparents.

The Supreme Court is gearing up to hear two landmark cases in the struggle for equal rights and if the make-up of the court is any indication, along with increasing public support, things are looking good for marriage equality.

NOM’s Brown recently compared marriage equality to slavery and vowed to go for an amendment to the U.S. constitution if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of equality. Good luck with that, Brian. Keep fighting the losing, bigoted fight.

What exactly is the end game of these groups? Most of the products we use in our modern society come from corporations that support equality. Will bigots like AFA’s Bryan Fischer or FRC’s Tony Perkins simply live on farms outside Atlanta, hiding from the equality-supporting zombies (Yes, that was a “Walking Dead” reference….)? Unless they plan on living like the Amish, their ridiculous boycotts will accomplish nothing more than making them look like the narrow-minded bigots they are.

 

Classic Arguments for Discrimination Showcased in Video

These days, viral videos of anti-gay, backwards ministers and fringe-idea leaders are somewhat commonplace. “Another video of a minister calling for the criminalization of homosexuality? Another example of bigotry and ignorance from a fundamentalist Southern church? *YAWN* What else is new?”

However, one video in particular has created quite the buzz around the World Wide Web recently.

 

Watch it, and be sure to see it through to the end:

 

 

 

**SPOILER ALERT**

 

 

 

Quote from the video:

“I worry about the future of our city. Any accurate reading of the Bible should make it clear that gay rights goes against the plain truth of the Word of God.

“As one preacher warns:

‘Man, in overstepping the boundary lines God has drawn by making special rights for gays and lesbians, has taken another step in the direction of inviting the judgment of God upon our land.

‘This step of gay rights is but another stepping stone toward the immorality and lawlessness that will be characteristic of the last days.

‘This ordinance represents a denial of all that we believe in and no one should force it on us.

‘It’s not that we don’t care about homosexuals but that our rights will be taken away, and un-Christian views will be forced on us and our children, for we would be forced to go against our personal morals.

‘Outside government agents are endeavoring to disturb God’s established order. It is not in line with the Bible. Do not let people lead you astray.

‘The liberals leading this movement do not believe the Bible any longer, but every good, substantial, Bible-believing, intelligent, Orthodox Christian can read the word of God and know what is happening is not of God.

‘When you run into conflict with God’s established order, you have trouble. You do not produce harmony. You produce destruction and trouble and our city is in the greatest danger that it has ever been in in its history. The reason is that we have gotten away from the Bible of our forefathers. You see, the right of segregation…,’

“I’m sorry, hold on.

 ‘The right of segregation is clearly established by the holy scriptures, both by precept and example.’

“I’m sorry, I’ve brought the wrong notes with me this evening…I’ve borrowed my argument from the wrong century. It turns out what I’ve been reading to you this whole time are direct quotes from White preachers from the 1950s and the 1960s, all in support of racial segregation.

“All I have done is simply take out the phrase ‘racial integration’ and substituted it with the phrase ‘gay rights.’

“I guess the arguments I’ve been hearing around Springfield lately sounded so similar to these that I got them confused. I hope that you will not make the same mistake. I hope you will stand on the right side of history. Thank you.

Crazy In The Name of God & Country – “American Family Association” Edition

In 21st America, one would expect ignorance and bigotry to be nearly extinct. Sadly, this is not the case; Bigotry, ignorance, hate and hypocrisy are still alive and kicking from “purple mountains majesty” to “the fruited plains.”

Don’t misunderstand me: America is exceptional. Our constitution enshrines freedom, liberty and equality and our people have always overcome adversity and pushed through to better ways of life. We have the freedom to choose our own destinies and express our views publicly.

Freedom of Speech is one of the greatest American values. However, like anything, this value is abused. People and groups use their constitutionally protected freedom to spread hate, lies and venomous insults to other people and groups. This is the definition of “hate group.”

According to the FBI, a hate group is defined as any group whose “primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin which differs from that of the members of the organization.” The American Family Association (AFA) fits this definition like hand in glove.

Don’t be fooled by the words “American” and “Family.” The AFA has made it their goal to stigmatize and bully homosexuals, feminists, Muslims, the irreligious, and essentially anyone else who isn’t a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, all in the name of God and Country. Their vitriol and hate is only outdone by the lunatics of Westboro Baptist Church.

I could put down in words some of their craziest, hateful statements. However, in the Age of the Internet, I think it would be much more productive and beneficial for you, the reader, to see and hear what the AFA has said.

 

The AFA thinks Muslims are stupid, inbred morons….

 

Last year (2010) during the controversy surrounding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” misinformation ran rampant after a Muslim group wanted to open a Muslim community center blocks away from Ground Zero in New York. Many said that it was all a part of a conspiratorial plot by Muslims to destroy America…..seriously. The AFA had plenty to say…

 

The AFA’s hatred of Muslims goes furthur…they don’t want any Muslims in the military OR coming in to the country…

 

The AFA thinks homosexuals are Nazis…

 

The AFA thinks that gays are responsible for the Holocaust (even though he says that’s not what he thinks). Just follow his warped logic and outright lies…

 

The AFA says that liberal gays and Muslims have joined together in a plot to take down Western Civilization…

 

You can’t make this garbage up.

 

American Family Association logo

 

The Not-So-Modern Housewife

I love watching television shows made decades-ago. As a member of Generation Y, it fascinates (and saddens) me to think that women were once confined to housework and jobs they had no chance to advance in. What’s most peculiar: the women look absolutely thrilled to be inferior to their sexist husbands and bosses…at least that’s what media propaganda of the time portrays.

I Love Lucy is quite interesting. Lucy may be a WASP housewife but she’s also smart and sassy. She frequently disagrees with and challenges her Hispanic husband, Ricky…in the early 1950s! Oh yes…the whole television show is essentially about her, a female, in a male-dominated industry in the middle of the 20th century.

In the episode, “Job Switching” (the famous chocolate factory episode), Lucy challenges Ricky by switching household positions – he the housewife and she the breadwinner. Scandalous. Lucy’s girlfriend, Ethel, makes the same deal with her sexist husband, Fred.

Initially, both men make fun of the women and vice versa. Both parties think the other “has it easy.” By the end of the episode, Fred and Ricky have failed at all their domestic chores and Lucy and Ethel have been fired from their first job (with plenty of laughs in between).

That’s a good display of fairness for 1950s America. In a time when women, African-Americans, homosexuals, and other minorities were shoveled to the outskirts of society and made to feel like outsiders, a show like I Love Lucy came along and contributed to changing attitudes.

My two cents while watching I Love Lucy. 😉

Blacklist: 2010 Edition

I’m so sick of hearing about the “controversy” surrounding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.”

For the record, it’s not only a mosque – which has been there for over a year in an abandoned retail space – but a community center that is not even on the Ground Zero site itself but rather blocks away. “Park 51” or “The Cordoba House” is the proposed name for the facility by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

Of course, all sorts of people have come out of the woodwork to protest the project. Halting construction of all mosques in the US and carrying offensive signs has become all the rage with these xenophobic fringe groups.

Pat Robertson has declared that all Muslims intend to take over the nation and there’s even a fundamentalist pastor in Gainesville, Florida who is planning an annual “Burn a Koran Day” on the ninth anniversary of the attacks.

Playing on prejudice and extremely negative stereotypes, men like Robertson and the Gainesville pastor are helping create a toxic atmosphere where equality and reason are not present.

This kind of bigotry and intolerance represent a common theme that has remained throughout American history: scapegoating an entire group of people when times are turbulent.

Jews, Catholics, Blacks, communists, socialists and gays are just a few of the more notable groups to be stigmatized and bullied in American history. Now, Muslims have joined the blacklist.

The United States is the best country on the planet. We should all take pride in the fact that our democratic republic is the longest-surviving in history. With over 300 million citizens, we’re a melting pot of tradition, art, religion and language. We’ve sent men to the moon and cured diseases that once devastated countless lives.

We don’t always agree with each other and that’s one of the most beautiful things about this country: We’re free to disagree and protest amongst ourselves and our government.

However, when irrationality and bigotry cloud one’s judgement, the end result is ugly. Instead of peaceably having an enlightened discussion, some resort to name-calling and prejudice and while we do have the freedom to protest this way, it doesn’t change the fact that behaving in such a manner is an embarrassment to the nation.

While many are using fear and an “us vs. them” argument, my hope is that those who have remained silent during this controversy will speak up. Together, let’s drown out the ignorance.