Where Have All the **** Gone?

I needed to quickly check on the lyrics to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” (don’t ask; it was for a comment to a post by the Bloggess involving tumbleweeds and horny toads—neither of which have anything to do with flowers or where they’ve gone—do you now see why I said don’t ask?)

Long story short (too late!), I did a quick Google search and the first link I clicked on (which took me to Metrolyrics) displayed this:

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 10.43.33 AM
(Some of the shocking lyrics in question)

Explicit language? Whaaaat?

Pete Seeger: shocking audiences long before Marilyn Manson and Eminem did their thing. 

The Trumpenstein Monster Lives

The Trumpenstein Monster Lives

 

The monster that the Republican Party has been building for decades—it’s alive and it’s gonna be yuuuuuuge, I tell ya. We won’t call it a Frankenstein monster; let’s call it Trumpenstein.

The Origins of Trumpenstein

Just like the original Frankenstein monster, Trumpenstein was cobbled together from putrid, rotten bits and pieces that the GOP gathered over time. The first piece was acquired back in the 60’s when the Republicans decided that a great way to attract the white, southern, conservative voting demographic away from the Democrats would be the “Southern Strategy,” a plan that invoked a pre-Civil War-era argument for states’ rights. (At the time, “states’ rights” was a not-so-veiled code word for states having the ability to legally discriminate against black Americans.) And thus, the first part of the Trumpenstein monster was placed on the lab table…where it began to fester and grow more powerful.

*Insert evil, foreboding laughter, as well as ominous organ music and a few claps of thunder and some lighting strikes*

Trumpenstein’s Bible

The next important piece was haphazardly stitched into place in the late 80’s, when George H. W. Bush realized that he could use far-right evangelical Christians in his bid for the White House. Having previously railed against people like Pat Robertson (Bush called them “snake handlers and swindlers”), H. W. suddenly recruited Doug Wead to advise him on how to best court the evangelical vote. Wead created a strategy that included a staunch pro-life position and the term “compassionate conservative.” (The first part of this strategy is still going strong, but the second part has been long-abandoned by many of today’s so-called “Christian” conservatives, whose stunning lack of compassion is anything but Christ-like.) 

At this point, the Republican Party was not only blindingly white, but it was proudly wielding a cross. And so the grand experiment continued.

(Ivana and then Marla and then) Melania and Trumpenstein; not Adam and Steve!

Code words are a fantastic way for Republican politicians to say exactly how they feel in an acceptable, “politically correct” sort of way. In the early days of the Bush Jr. presidency, the code word du jour was “activist judges.” Meaning, of course, judges who recognized that refusing legal marriage protection to gay and lesbian couples was unconstitutional. When a Massachusetts judge ruled that same-sex couples who lived in the state should be allowed to legally marry, “activist judges” became the next of many code words the Republican Party used to stir up fear among its voters and unite them against yet another common enemy—the gay!!!

*insert more ominous music—music that is ominous to anti-gay conservative Christians, because gays are icky and terrifying to them, as well as music that is ominous to the rest of us, because it’s scary that anti-gay conservative Christians actually think they should be able to make laws based on their opinion that gays are icky and terrifying. Ominous music for everyone!*

I have to hand it to them; they’ve gotten A LOT of mileage out of this one. Here we are, over ten years after the Massachusetts court decision, and Republicans have shifted through a variety of anti-gay code words; we’ve gone from “activist judges” to revisit one of their greatest hits—“states’ rights.” We’ve talked about “protecting traditional marriage” and are currently concerned with “protecting religious freedom.” I’d actually like to digress for a moment and provide a handy translation guide for those who might be from more progressive countries and are confused by this terminology; here’s what it really means:

A BRIEF DICTIONARY FOR THOSE WHO ARE FROM PLACES WHERE THE GOVERNMENT IS WORRIED ABOUT ISSUES MORE PRESSING THAN STAN AND JOHN GETTING MARRIED, OWNING A HOME TOGETHER, RAISING TWO KIDS, AS WELL AS BEING ABLE TO LEAVE ASSETS TO ONE ANOTHER WITHOUT THOSE ASSETS BEING TAXED

“Activist judge”— Any judge who rules in favor of allowing a gay person to secure legal protections for their family, such as the 1,130 federal rights and protections granted by a marriage license, the ability to be the legal parent/guardian of their children, or the right to not be refused service or be physically/verbally abused because of their sexual orientation. A judge that rules against any of these civil rights is simply “upholding the Constitution” or “protecting religious freedom” (a phrase that we’ll get to shortly). 

“Protecting Traditional Marriage”— Strangely, those who speak the loudest about the value of a strong, healthy marriage feel that their marriage may be threatened by other people’s marriages. (It makes no sense to me, either.) Also, despite marriage being a conservative, stabilizing force in our society, these folks would like to limit marriage and exclude same-sex couples from settling down and taking responsibility for one another. Basically, a “traditional marriage” can only be between a man and a woman (ignoring Biblical traditions such as one man and his concubines or one man who trades a herd of livestock for his wife). Any such arrangement between a same-sex couple isn’t a “real” marriage (which, let’s face it, smacks of a childish, spoiled, Veruca Salt-level temper tantrum.)

Veruca Salt Marriage Tantrum

“States’ Rights”— Dating back to the Civil War era, this is a phrase that has historically been used to mean that the majority of people in each state should be able to decide the civil rights of minorities in that state. In the Jim Crow era, it meant that white people in places like Alabama should be able to decide whether or not black people could send their kids to school with white people’s kids, sit anywhere they wanted to on a bus or be forced to drink from specially-marked water fountains (lest “the black” be contagious, I suppose). In recent years, it has come to mean that heterosexual people in each state get to vote on whether or not they would like to let gay people get married, or whether they think it’s ok for business owners to put up “STRAIGHTS ONLY” signs (because historically, behavior like this is generally looked upon with glowing approval, years later).

“Protecting Religious Freedom”— See the latter part of the definition for “activist judge.” In the 60’s, many white so-called Christians argued that it violated Biblical beliefs for black children to intermix with their children at school. Today, a number of so-called Christians argue that it violates their religious beliefs to provide various services to gay and lesbian customers. (Also see the part of the previous definition where we reflect on how this sort of behavior is viewed decades later.)

Ok. Digression complete. Back to the creation of Trumpenstein.

Putred Patchwork

There were bits and pieces of Trumpenstein shoved into place in between the events I’m listing here, of course. There was the raging anti-Muslim sentiment that started in this country after 9/11, causing Muslims who had lived in the U.S. for their entire lives to fear for their safety. Hated of Muslims gave way to hatred of Mexicans, which gave way to hatred of gays, and then more hatred of Mexicans, which finally evened out into a general hatred of all three groups. There was the pro-Second Amendment furor in which the NRA (and the politicians riding around in their pocket) completely abandoned responsible gun owners in an attempt to frighten voters into believing that they were under imminent threat and should be able to carry any sort of weapon into wherever they’d like to carry it—and who needs any background checks or training? We don’t need no stinking classes!

*fires pistols into the air, Yosemite Sam-style*

Let There Be Palin

I’d like to think, however, that the last piece of the Trumpenstein monster was put into place when the Republican Party embraced Sarah Palin. Yes—the former Alaska governor with her word salad rantings against the particular class of people who try to co-opt our country within and without the dangerous world in which we now exist but through which we can thank God for all of the Americas for which we have been given and also therefore for which we should shy away from those who would take our money and our hearts and build more walls, God bless America!

The Palin era of presidential campaigning brought out a frightening celebration of anti-intellectualism. Palin herself was definitely not a cerebral type, unable to blurt out anything except, “Uh, all of ‘em” when asked by Katie Couric what newspapers she reads. Palin then went on the attack against “gotcha journalism” (journalism in which the reporter asks real questions about issues that voters would like to know about).

She also openly ridiculed “intellectual elites.” What does that mean, exactly? People who read books with, you know, words? Perhaps this refers to people who use facts to develop their beliefs, rather than just shouting something out and then crossing one’s arms and standing firm with a “Well, I have a right to my opinion!”

In the post-Palin era, this has become the conservative, Tea Party Republican refrain: “I have a right to my opinion”—no matter how false, ludicrous, hostile, or vile that “opinion” is. (For those who are interested in reading more about this phenomenon, I’ll point you to this excellent Houston Press article.)

It’s ALIIIVE!

With this final piece in place, Trumpenstein was complete. Its piggish eyes opened and its loud, boorish voice was ready to shout down the entire world with its “opinions.” It staggered around, reciting all the conservative talking points (“Keep out the Mexicans Protect Christians Overturn the marriage ruling Overturn Obamacare”).

But much to the horror of the Republican establishment (and amidst the cheers of the Tea Party base the GOP had so recently courted), Trumpenstein had a few tricks up its sleeve: it also spouted sexist things about women, said that it would block all Muslims from entering the country and register the ones who already live here, and Trumpenstein seemed rather wishy-washy in its feelings about white supremacist groups.

Now, the question is this: will the GOP protect or discard their monstrous creation?

Trumpenstein Its Alive

 

Let’s Talk Persecution…

“You should watch the Republican debates and town halls,” my wife told me yesterday. “I know you don’t like the candidates, but you should know your enemy.”

I DO know my enemy. I’ve been following gay and lesbian politics and activism since I was 17 years old. I knew who people like Ben Carson and Ted Cruz were long before they broke onto the national stage—and I knew them because of the malicious, cruel things they were saying and doing to hurt me, my family, and my friends.

But still, I watched bits of the GOP town hall last night. Ben Carson talked quietly, as usual. As he’s not doing well in the polls, I didn’t pay much attention and spent that time finishing up some work.

Ted Cruz Official
By United States Senate – Office of Senator Ted Cruz, Public Domain

I did watch Ted Cruz, however, and he absolutely terrified me. The feeling of dread and anxiety he left me with is exactly why I don’t watch Republican debates. It was like listening to a “call-and-donate-and-I’ll-heal-ya” televangelist. He was obsequious and slimy.

He was absolutely adamant in his promise to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage—the one that brought so much joy (as well as much-needed family protection) to so many people last summer. He spoke of Christians who are being persecuted (by not being allowed to practice their anti-gay beliefs at their jobs was the subtext)…all this while throughout the country, my transgender friends are facing jail time simply for using the correct restroom, gay people can be fired from their jobs if their bosses find out they have a same-sex spouse, and thousands of gay couples and families are watching this presidential race in absolute horror, knowing that their status as a family unit hangs in the balance based on the outcome of this election.

Don’t tell ME about persecution. When I came out, the religion in which I was raised labeled me as one of the worst kinds of sinners and I was told that I’d be destroyed as soon as the ever-looming End of the World arrived (thank you, Jehovah’s Witnesses). I was deemed a “biological error” by a beloved conservative talk show host when I was seventeen (thank you, Dr. Laura). As the years went on and gay people got tired of being beaten up, fired from their jobs, treated like strangers from the person with which they chose to spend their lives, and denied guardianship of their children, I watched conservative groups and politicians rally in order to make us into a threat to (of all things) family and marriage. We were the threat to these things while all we wanted to do was be safe, go to work, take care of our families and be able to take responsibility for our spouses. They painted us as the outcasts; the enemies to conservatism and the all-American way of life. 

I’m so very weary. It’s frustrating having to filter your life on a social level and its downright anxiety-inducing to not be able to count on normal, everyday protections and respect on a legal level. I’m tired of feeling this worry; tired of gearing up for this fight over and over again. But don’t tell me about persecution, please. Experiencing these sorts of things make it easy for you to pick out the real persecutors very quickly.

Amazon’s 180

Apparently, Amazon is planning to open hundreds of brick-and-mortar bookstores.

I don’t understand the point of this.

I know that Amazon selling books and e-books has been upsetting to people who adore spending time in a bookstore or who won’t read anything that’s not printed on paper, but let’s hold off on the Amazon-is-evil-and-paper-books-forever debate for a minute and look at why Amazon has been successful in the book selling arena. The whole appeal of buying books on Amazon (or skipping paper books altogether and getting them on a Kindle, as I do for most of my books, nowadays) is that you don’t have to drive to a physical store, can find whatever you want without wondering if it will be in stock, and you get instant gratification—either by downloading your book in seconds or by finding and ordering it with the click of a mouse.

The last time I went to a bookstore to find a specific book (a vegetarian cookbook by Paul McCartney and family, as a matter of fact. I still have yet to kick my meat addiction and actually use this cookbook, but I digress…), I drove to the store, hunted forever to find the one (battered, despite being brand-new) copy of the book in stock and paid five dollars more than the Amazon price. I love wandering the aisles of a bookstore, but if I’m looking for something specific, such experiences leave me frustrated. 

 

book shelves

 

(I feel the need to acknowledge the stance of the paper book people with the disclaimer that I, too, adore paper books. They make me feel happy when I have them around. I don’t feel that our home is complete without my collection of books in it. However, after several moves and a downsize into a smaller living space, I’ve realized that my wife and I don’t have the muscle to keep moving boxes and boxes of paper books, nor the shelf space to store all of them. I finally sold or donated most of them, keeping only a few that are valuable or special to me.) 

Amazon drove hoards of bookstores—from big ones like Borders and Barnes & Noble to the small, neighborhood, mom and pop stores—out of business because, let’s face it, people like convenience and they like a good price. No matter your stance on where or how people should buy their books, that’s why Amazon succeeded. So how will Amazon fare with brick-and-mortar stores? Why are they doing this? Thoughts? 

Caucus Cacophony

The microscopically detailed news analysis of the caucuses have already driven me crazy.

“So here we are looking at Smithfield County, Anderson, and Sanders and Clinton are neck-and-neck here. Now, if we look at the precincts in light blue—back in 2008, voters in those precincts preferred pickles on their cheeseburgers. Historically, we’ve seen that people who prefer pickles on their burgers tend to be more liberal, with those who prefer ketchup leaning in a more conservative direction. What this means in this race, Anderson, is that Clinton should be worried about her position in Smithfield County…”

The preceding satire has been brought to you by absurdity and brain ache.

Oompa Loompa Orange

TrumpWavingCropped

 

Oompa Loompa doopity doo!
I’ve got another puzzle for you!
What if your party is all filled with twats?
Screaming and hating like tantruming tots?
If you aren’t an uneducated racist, too—
A party switch is the thing…to…do!

Photo credit: “TrumpWavingCropped” by Gage Skidmore – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/8567813820. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TrumpWavingCropped.jpg#/media/File:TrumpWavingCropped.jpg

Lady Stardust sang his songs of darkness and disgrace…

 

ziggystardust

As a not-yet-uncloseted teenager growing up in a rural area of the Bible Belt, I stumbled upon David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” and “The Man Who Sold the World” albums and was instantly entranced.  Here was a guy who stretched all the boundaries of sexuality and gender; who wore makeup and dresses and wrote songs about loving both men and women.  It sounds sappy to say that it felt good to not be alone in being different, but it’s the truth.  When you’re a kid who knows zero GLBT people and you find yourself questioning your own sexuality, you grasp onto role models like life preservers.  David Bowie, Ellen Degeneres, Melissa Etheridge and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”—these were the rafts that buoyed me through the frightening experience of coming to terms with being gay after being raised as a fundamentalist Christian.

There’s not much more I can say except that I feel an immense sense of sadness at Bowie’s untimely death.  I haven’t listened to a lot of his more recent music, but there is still a great sense of loss of someone who had a huge impact on me.  I’ve read several articles today that discussed how many other GLBT people feel the same.  An interview I listened to earlier today contained this quote, which said it best:

“He became a father figure or an older brother figure or an uncle figure to all the kind of strange kids who wanted to know more about how you can live as a strange person and his embrace of strangeness, and his assertion that strangeness had a legacy and a lineage that you can find was kind of the big gift that he gave to kids around the world.”
—Carl Wilson, Slate music critic, in an interview with CBC Radio