Not perfect. Just forgiven.

Thirty years ago, I was working part time as a DJ in a gay bar. I enjoyed it because I was very into music and I was especially happy about getting to play something other than the miserable disco schlock that is mandatory in 99.25% of all American gay bars.

One night, several heterosexual friends came by to hear me. Two of these friends were a couple (of the male-female variety, obviously). At some point during the evening, they kissed. And that finally pushed my boss over the edge. He was already offended by their very presence in the place and when they had the audacity to engage in a very tame public display of affection, he came up to the booth to tell me he thought they should leave.

I was appalled that a fairly sophisticated gay man would not ultimately realize the irony and hypocrisy involved in his actions. Ethically, I felt that I could no longer work for him.

So I quit.

That very night.

You see, that’s what you do when you face such moral outrage that you can no longer justify doing your job.

And that’s what Kim Davis needs to learn. She needs to do the job she swore an oath that she would do. Or she needs to quit. Right now.

For her to continue accepting her salary amounts to theft and misappropriation of public funds. For her to continue refusing to do her job amounts to criminal misconduct. Her beliefs don’t matter one infinitesimal damn. She’s free to believe whatever she likes. She is not, however, free to continue collecting her salary while not doing her job.

A lot has been written today about the hypocrisy of “sanctity of marriage” claims being made by a woman who has been married four times and divorced three, and who seems never to have cared very much whether or not her children were fathered by her husband at the time. It’s a fair criticism, but one that her supporters feel is a moot point since her sins happened before she was “washed in the blood” (or in the Holy Windex). Too many conservative Christians use the “not perfect, just forgiven” excuse as a way of refusing to take responsibility for any of their own actions, which is particularly ironic in that so many of these same conservatives very much stress the concept of personal responsibility in others.

But even being the biggest hypocrite on the face of the earth would not disqualify Kim Davis from keeping her job–although her double (triple? quadruple?) standard does make her a pretty wretched human being.

What disqualifies Kim Davis from keeping her job is the fact that she refuses to do it.

Death in the news

Maybe it’s because it was fairly close (Roanoke is about a hundred miles away), or maybe it’s because I’ve known a fair number of reporters in my time, or maybe it’s  because I’ve known a lot of people who work in broadcasting, but this morning’s shootings are getting to me more than these things usually do.

And what really disturbs me here is that I just typed “more than these things usually do” as if random gun violence were a pretty regular and otherwise unremarkable thing. Which, of course, it is here in America, where every crackpot gun nut in the trailer park (or on the golf course) believes himself to be a one-man “well-regulated militia.”

There’s no way in hell you can convince me that we’re going to solve this problem by arming even more people. And the next person who tries to compare this to the shootings in Charleston may get smacked for being an idiot with whom I no longer feel the need to be patient or tolerant.

Randomly Tuesday night

A few updates before bed:

  • I’m in the inspection and repair phase on the house. Assuming I get the state rebate for removing that oil tank and assuming the general repair list does not cost more than the current estimate from my handyman, I may manage to end up with a little bit of cash (albeit a good bit less than even my downpayment) after closing. I’ll still be selling the place at a significant loss, but at least I’m not underwater. And it’s worth it to finally close that chapter of my life.
  • I lucked out in that a couple of things I thought would be big issues–primarily some stairs the ex built that are sinking and have become a major eyesore but would also cost a fortune to remove, and some paving on the other side that drains in the wrong direction–were not fixes requested by the buyer. i dodged a bullet on those.
  • Even better, I’m doing surprisingly well selling the furniture, which gives me cash and makes moving easier.
  • Nashville was pleasant enough, all in all. My presentation went well and actually got a lot of positive feedback. I was able to do some Groceteria research and I may actually return for a weekend at some point, although I have no real desire for anything more than a weekend.
  • I’ve had a pretty prestigious publication accepted. More on that later.
  • I’m pondering my annual Thanksgiving trip to Toronto. I’ve been traveling a lot this year and I’m wondering if another big trip is a good idea. But I think I deserve a reward once the house is sold and the articles are done…and in general after the really shitty summer I’ve had. And the loonie is at an all-time low, so it’s a really good time to visit. I’ll keep you posted.
  • I didn’t sit through the Republican debate last week. I started watching for laughs–kind of like you’d start watching a bad movie–but the plot and the dialogue were so implausible that I just couldn’t swallow it, even as a farce.

 

Trump Card (1973)

If Donald Trump’s candidacy were a Watergate-era political thriller made in 1973, this weekend would be the point in the movie where the audience tried to determine whether:

  1. The Republican leadership were secretly supporting his bid with a special slush fund because he made the rest of candidates look slightly less crazy by comparison, and therefore shielded them from serious scrutiny.
  2. The Republican leadership were about to launch a plot to have him assassinated before he could embarrass the party further.
  3. Trump had actually been backed by the Democrats as a means of discrediting the Republican Party.

Unfortunately, it’s 2015 and this is not a movie…

Thank you, Christians…

…for this long weekend that catches me by surprise every year. Since I’m a nonbeliever, I never know exactly when it’s Easter until something suddenly reminds me I don’t have to go to work on Friday.

That said, I’m still not at all pleased about that whole “religious freedom restoration act” thing, so if you guys could help take care of that before you leave tomorrow, that would be great.

Randomly Saturday afternoon

At the close of a busy week:

  • Therapy session on Wednesday where I discussed conflicts I’m experiencing over sex. No Freudian clichés there, eh?
  • With April comes the real beginning of the intense phase of my march toward tenure. It’s going to be a long six months. Interestingly enough, I had one or two of those “I’m not a fraud. I really legitimately deserve to be considered a professional in my field” moments this week. Those are nice.
  • Listening to the last day of live DJs on CBC Radio 3 yesterday made me sad. I’m not pleased about the changes. I don’t think anyone is.
  • Continuing to ponder whether Los Angeles or Seattle would be a better post-conference antidote to my required visit to the Bay Area. Suggestions welcome.
  • Still waiting for the teabaggers to launch that Ted Cruz birther movement.
  • Still waiting…

Home

Exhausted, with much unpacking, sorting, and catching up to do, all just in time for company Sunday night.

Coming later, if I have time:

  • New York pictures (maybe two trips’ worth).
  • Random thoughts on long-distance rail travel in the USA.
  • Pondering this summer’s West Coast adventure.
  • Another few paragraphs on the wonder that is Pittsburgh.
  • The inevitable rant about how batshit crazy my state has become.

For now, though, it’s bed…

Roy Moore’s Facebook whitewashing

When you visit the Facebook page of a controversial and divisive news figure, would you be surprised (and maybe a little suspicious) to find that everyone who’s made a comment on the page agrees with him completely and seems to think he pretty much walks on water?

Welcome to the world of Judge Roy Moore, whose social media minions are engaging in an ongoing campaign to keep his Facebook presence devoid of any trace of dissent whatsoever.

I have no doubt that rude and inappropriate comments have been posted by some of Moore’s opponents. If these were the only things being deleted, I might  question the wisdom of the decision but I could still probably acknowledge a valid reason for doing so. But Moore’s people are deleting any dissenting comments, no matter how reasonably and politely phrased. A couple of examples:

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Even his supporters are having trouble following the threads with all the deletions.

Ultimately, this is Facebook and this sort of whitewashing is common from a certain subset of both the right and the left. I don’t really question Moore’s right to do it (or, more specifically, his right to have his staff to do it) but I think that people expect one of a state’s highest ranking elected officials to have a slightly higher ethical standard, and to at least pay lip service to the concept of open public discourse.

With Roy Moore, this would obviously be expecting too much.

No surprise there.

Just forgiven

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“Christians aren’t perfect…just forgiven.”

That bumper sticker is one of those little things that years ago pushed me over the edge into atheism. It’s as if the whole message comes down to “As a Christian, I don’t have to take any responsibility for my own actions. I can pretty much do whatever the hell I want as long as I pray for forgiveness precisely one second before I die.” It’s like there’s a coupon for heaven and you’re all set as long as you hit the expiration date and follow the fine print.

Yes, I know this does not really reflect what most Christians believe, but it’s pretty much the impression I absorbed through my own pretty strenuous religious indoctrination as a youngster and I guarantee you a lot of other nonbelievers absorb this very same message. Let’s just say these stickers (and this particular message) may not be the effective outreach tools they’re meant to be.

More troubling, though, is that so many within the Christian right seem to be asserting a similar dismissal of personal responsibility in the public arena these days, suggesting that anything they say or do should have no repercussions whatsoever just as long as they’re “expressing their beliefs”.

One recent example is the very earnestly conservative talk show host in Texas who recently walked off the set when her more liberal colleagues said things she didn’t like. Granted, this show doesn’t seem to advance an especially high level of discourse on either side of the spectrum–the two “liberal” hosts kept using the word “racist” when they clearly meant “prejudiced”, for example–but it is illustrative of a bigger issue among mainstream religious conservatives. If Amy Kushnir is disciplined for this–and I very much doubt she will be–you can be sure this segment of the population will be up in arms because of the old paper tiger that she was persecuted for “expressing her Christian beliefs” rather than for the real issue: she behaved unprofessionally and abandoned her job by walking off the set in the middle of a live broadcast.

Think about it. If a cashier at Walmart or Target abandoned a line of customers at his register because one of these customers said something or bought a product he disagreed with, everyone would expect him to be fired or at least disciplined. Even the cashier himself would see it coming from a mile away. Can’t we expect at least the same level of accountability from someone who has made her way into a career as a public figure? Evidently not, if she’s “forgiven” and probably doesn’t even recognize that she did anything inappropriate or unprofessional in the first place.

I find it hilarious to watch today’s conservatives morph into the very same whiny victims they used to criticize liberals for being…and to see how quickly they abandon the whole “personal responsibility” thing they allegedly valued so strongly in the past.