The Out List: Dustin Lance Black

HBO recently released a pseudo-documentary called “The Out List,” an opportunity for celebrities and activists to share parts of their stories and their beliefs. As expected, it was a liberal screed on how evil conservatives are. They had one token conservative – Log Cabin Republicans leader R. Clarke Cooper. He was amazing. Most of the rest were infuriating. Here I begin my response to some of them.

Dustin Lance Black is a screenplay writer and filmmaker. His first major work was Big Love; he later won an Academy Award for writing Milk. In his segment, he revealed that he was raised as a Mormon. He said, “I have heard some filmmakers say they don’t want to be labeled as ‘gay filmmakers.’ I am a gay filmmaker! I’m a gay guy, I’m not ashamed of that! I’m pretty proud of that, in fact!” He went on to talk about the passage of California’s Prop 8 – the voter-passed ban on gay marriage after the California Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal. He wept about how horrible it was and said, “that law cost lives.”

First of all, there is nothing wrong with a gay person not wanting to be labeled a gay filmmaker. Just because a gay person wants to appeal to a broad audience and has no interest in being pigeonholed for the whole of their career doesn’t mean they are ashamed to be gay. It doesn’t mean that They are bad somehow. There is nothing wrong with wanting one’s work to be widely available and widely accepted. If you’re proud, fantastic! That does not mean that everyone out there who is gay and is in the film industry needs to be like you. I’m pretty sure the gay rights movement was at least partially about the right to be different.

As for Prop 8…I’m sorry, but I don’t believe for a second that Prop 8 cost lives. gay people have been treated far worse in the past. When I was a kid in Houston, you did not admit you were gay. There was no such thing as a gay-straight alliance. When I told some of the neighborhood kids that I wished I’d been born a boy, their mothers all got together and staged a proxy intervention with my mother. When I was a kid, things were very different. Black is not that much older than me, so I would think he would have experienced some of the anti-gay sentiment that dominated pop culture back then. Prop 8 cost lives? I think churches pushing families to abandon their gay children was far worse. That is the sort of thing that costs lives, Mr. Black.

I might also point out that Prop 8 was passed by the electorate in a state that went wildly for Barack Obama. In my mind that is evidence that anti-gay sentiment is not necessarily a party problem but a people problem.

Tomorrow: Christine Quinn goes on a rant about those eeeeevil Republicans!

The Death of a Dream

A grand jury in Ferguson, MO has been meeting since the end of August. They have heard more than 60 witnesses and seen reams of evidence. They’ve seen the injuries to police officer Darren Wilson. They’ve seen crime scene photos. They’ve seen the forensic evidence from inside Officer Wilson’s police cruiser. Tonight, the grand jury’s decision was made public.

They determined that the evidence showed Officer Wilson did exactly what he was supposed to do. He was found innocent and an indictment was not handed down.

Almost instantly, rioting began. State troopers were in place before the verdict was read, armed with rifles and full riot gear. Barricades were knocked over, rocks and bricks were thrown at police, windows were broken, and the rioters rapidly graduated to marching down the street, looting and setting businesses on fire.

If Dr. King could see what is going on right now, he would be openly mourning the death of his famous dream.

The “hands up, don’t shoot” mantra was born of the claim that Michael Brown’s buddy made to police after the shooting – that Brown had his hands up and was trying to surrender. We later found that Brown had just committed a strong-arm robbery, then when contacted by Officer Wilson he attacked the officer in his cruiser, tried to grab his gun, got shot during the struggle (after repeatedly punching the officer in the head), then tried to walk away. THEN, when Officer Wilson got out and ordered him to stop, Brown turned and said, “what are you gonna do, shoot me?” and charged him. The killing shot was fired into the top of Brown’s head, indicating that Brown was actually charging when he died.

None of that makes any difference. The evidence shows that there was no racism involved. No racist comments were made. Yet because an “unarmed young black man” was shot and killed, it absolutely has to be because the white officer who fired the shots was a racist. That’s the only outcome that any of these cretins are willing to entertain. This is the result of a lack of education and generation after generation of deep-seeded hatred being ingrained into these communities.

Yes, racism exists. Unfortunately I see it almost singularly from Blacks and Hispanics. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke passionately of his dream on August 28, 1963. He believed it so much that he refused to become violent in his drive to achieve equality. Today, most of the protesters would openly tell you that they don’t want justice for Darren Wilson. They have already written him off.

“I have a dream that all of G-d’s children – black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, protestants and catholics – will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘free at last, free at last, thank G-d almighty, we are free at last!'”

Sadly, tonight that dream has died.

War on Who?

Joni Ernst pulled out a win in Iowa tonight to oust Democrats from a seat they’d held for a long time. Democrats thought the seat would be an easy win, but she proved them wrong. Tonight, the National Guard Lieutenant Commander (married to a retired Command Sgt. Major from the Army Rangers) became the first woman ever to represent Iowa in the US Senate.

I’m proud as all get-out that Ernst is a conservative. I’m proud to support her. If a woman has to run next time around for President, I’d love to see her have a go. She’s outstanding.

Liberals can take their so-called “war on women” and shove it.

(Next up: my take on the end of the Houston Pastors debacle.)

Wedding Bells, Part II

With the sudden marriage rights granted in three states last week came a lot of to-do about how religious organizations will be impacted. One of the biggest (not-yet-a-) problems being raised right now is the possibility of gay couples attempting to sue churches to force them to perform their wedding ceremonies. That has not happened yet, although I believe that eventually it will.

You wouldn’t know that it hasn’t happened yet, though – not if you’re listening to the Christians on social media.

The Hitching Post, a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, was recently sued by a gay couple. The owners and ministers, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, refused to perform gay nuptials for a couple. That couple filed a complaint with the city, claiming discrimination. The ministers quickly found themselves facing possible fines and jail time under city non-discrimination ordinances, and Christians all over the net started falling all over themselves. “We told you the gays would do this!” they’ve screamed. “You tried to tell us they’d never be able to sue churches to force this on us, but look – THEY’RE DONG IT!!!”

One problem: The Hitching Post isn’t a church. It’s a licensed, for-profit business. Since it’s not listed as a religious organization, it falls under the same non-discrimination laws that all city businesses are required to abide by.

I’m not saying this is a battle that shouldn’t be fought. I am saying that the reaction to this has been way over-the-top given the facts of the case. A lot of very un-Christ-like remarks have been made in some conversations, and one person took the time to private message me on Facebook simply for pointing out the fact that this didn’t involve a church and say some things that were…well, let’s just say Jesus wept.

All of this falls under “the law of unintended consequences.” Part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 barred businesses from discriminating. The cause of that portion of the law was the requirement that blacks – or “coloreds” as they were referred to at the time – have separate (and often less comfortable) accommodations at restaurants, movie theaters, and hotels. Since segregation had to end, it all had to end. The law, however, cannot be applied to only one group. It has to be applied to all. The result has been that businesses licensed by the government (and all businesses are required to have a license these days) are now barred from discriminating against anyone. The result is often harsh – from hefty fines to jail and/or losing one’s business. We’ve seen several businesses attacked over the past couple of years for refusing to take part in gay wedding ceremonies, including photographers, bakers, and tailors.

What’s happened this week to The Hitching Post takes it to a new level. We now must ask ourselves where the government nanny state stops and people are allowed to make their own decisions. If we strike down all anti-discrimination laws, then businesses can start discriminating against anyone. They can put out signs telling gays, blacks, Jews, or even Christians to stay away. The idea here is that a business that does discriminate could then be tried in the court of public opinion; a business owner could find themselves bankrupt after turning someone away.

I admit I don’t know exactly how it should be handled. I do know that the original complaint against The Hitching Post was valid according to the law. The best way for them to beat it is to file as a religious corporation, and they apparently have, which means they may now be protected. Maybe, because marriage is often seen as a religious institution, businesses that cater specifically to weddings should consider filing as religious corporations. I hope the Knapps win this, because I don’t believe anyone should be forced to do anything that runs contrary to their religious beliefs.

Either way, the religious portion of the right wing has nearly gone off the deep end on this story. Everyone needs to take a breath. Educate yourself before you lose your mind about something. Not only will you look less sophomoric, you’ll likely save your blood pressure in the process.

POST SCRIPT: If the day ever comes when gay leftist groups begin attacking religious rights over gay marriage, I will be out front, breaking my personal rules about never protesting in public, leading the charge to protect religious liberties. Just to make that clear.

Wedding Bells, Part I

With the new rights of same-sex couples in three states to get married has come a lot of arguing – often permeated by misinformation and outright lies. What should be a simple matter best left to history is turning into a hideous back-and-forth about the rights of the individual and the majority (not to mention the difference between a business and a church).

Last week, things happened at a pretty dizzying pace. The Supreme Court refused to hear a case regarding challenges to gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. The Ninth Circuit had determined the bans were Unconstitutional, running afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. The refusal of SCOTUS to hear the case meant that the Ninth Circuit ruling stood, effectively striking down gay marriage bans in those states. Activists in Arizona immediately jumped on the opportunity, arguing that the Ninth Circuit’s decision applied to all of the states in the division. Same-sex marriage was immediately made legal when AG Tom Horne announced that it wasn’t worth fighting and he was ordering the court clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples forthwith.

The argument being made by most of those opposed to same-sex marriage is that the majority voted to approve the ban, so it should be allowed to stand. Several have also tried to say that there was no ban – that the law (known in 2008 as Prop 102) was only about defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. Unfortunately, both of these arguments hold no water. Arizona’s laws regarding marriage had specifically targeted same-sex marriage, going so far as to bar state and local officials from recognizing such marriages that had been performed in other states (a la DOMA). The court wasn’t ruling on whether gay marriage was right – it was ruling that a law that singled out a particular subset of the population was Unconstitutional and could not be allowed to stand. They were right on that.

As for the majority argument? We are a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy. Tyranny of the majority does not rule the day in America. The minority cannot be told they don’t have rights simply because the majority doesn’t want them to. I’m sure a rather strong majority of voters in Mississippi and Alabama wanted to keep Jim Crow laws when the federal government forcibly repealed them in 1964, but that didn’t make them right and it didn’t mean the court should have upheld them. There’s a majority of very liberal people in Chicago and Washington, DC. Gun laws for a long time have been so strict that carrying (or, in many cases, even owning) guns has been nearly impossible. SCOTUS had to stand up for the minority and tell the majority they were violating everyone’s rights. This is the same principle. The majority determines a lot of things; there are some things, however, best not left to a simple majority. That is the point of a Republic.

Then there’s the “G-d” argument. “G-d says marriage is between one man and one woman, so that’s the way it’s supposed to be!” If you want to believe that, it’s up to you. I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong. I am here to tell you that you cannot codify your personal religious belief into law. The only mention of religion in the entire Constitution is in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That means that no government entity or law can tell you what you are allowed to believe. On the same token, it also means that the government cannot pass any law based purely on one religious belief or another. Your rights to believe that I am a sinner for being gay are protected. Your right to tell me I’m a sinner for being gay are protected. You have no right to pass a law against me because I’m gay.

Which will lead into the next article…Wedding Bells, Part II: The Hitching Post!

In Ten or Twenty Years

A few years ago, as I was getting ready to attend a friend’s birthday party, I got a phone call that I wasn’t expecting. A guy I worked with in public safety, a good Christian with a strong family, had a major problem – his young teenage daughter told him she was a lesbian, and he discovered that she was being aggressively pursued by an adult woman who was undeterred by his warnings that his daughter was well below the age of consent. I apologized to my other friend and raced to my buddy’s house to find this woman standing on his front doorstep, in full PRIDE mode, reading him the riot act about how “love is love, you don’t get to tell your kid who she’s allowed to love!”

I lost it. Before I had even said hello, I rode right up on her six and unleashed on her. I started with, “what part of JAIL BAIT do you fail to understand?!?” From there I explained (at the top of my lungs, because it’s only fair the the neighbors hear the rebuke at nearly midnight) that the fact that he wanted to protect his 14-year-old from ANY predator, male or female, did not make him a hatemonger. I suppose hearing another obvious lesbian tear into her did the trick, because she all but ran away and they never heard from her again. I spent the next three hours talking to the teenager about how gays and lesbians can be just as predatory as straight people, she was too young for sexual activity at age 14, and she needed to give her parents time to adjust to her talking about being gay. It took a couple of weeks but she finally accepted the fact that her parents didn’t judge her for being gay – they only wanted to protect her. It was typical teenage angst for her to assume that her parents wanted this woman out of her life merely because it was a same-sex relationship.

Recently, a slightly similar situation unfolded, albeit without the creepy older woman yelling at the front door. Another public safety colleague, one of the toughest old grizzled men I know, called me in tears. I could hear yelling and screaming in the background. His 16-year old daughter told them all that she thought she might be a lesbian. They had always been against gay marriage and attended a church that regularly taught you should not consort with gay people. Her revelation had been a massive shock to them. The “outing,” as it were, had happened nearly a week prior – his wife and older daughter had called in the youth pastor and some of her friends from church to stage an intervention, and it was ending in disaster. He didn’t know what to do; all he knew was that he was about to lose his daughter and he couldn’t stand it.

I had just gotten off shift so I rushed to his house. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have long been used to being the peacemaker, just not with people I know personally. Tossing a complete stranger off of a friend’s property is very different from pulling family members apart. I arrived to find the argument still in full swing – and the youth pastor was not helping at all. He was feeding the tension. I politely stopped all discussion and asked that everyone separate. EVERYONE. When the youth pastor objected (quite loudly), I asked him to leave. “The goal here is to make peace,” I said, “and you’re not helping that end. Please, go home.” I felt absolutely stunned that he left and my friend’s wife never blew up at me, because as soon as I told him to leave I fully expected her to.

I took my friend out to the back yard and let him unload. He told me about his daughter coming out, saying she wasn’t certain but she thought she was probably a lesbian. No, she didn’t have a girlfriend, but that could change at any moment. He didn’t think she had become sexually active. His wife had spent four days since not speaking to their younger daughter at all. His son was away at college and didn’t know what was going on, but he was about to, because someone had sent him several text messages just before the intervention. His older daughter had done nothing but get angry for the past four days. Nobody asked him about this intervention, but apparently his wife had roped the youth pastor and a handful of her friends from church into talking her into “gay rehab.” The situation rapidly spiraled out of control when the younger daughter refused to agree to it and the youth pastor started goading everyone to speak up and quoting scripture very loudly, as if he were preaching a sermon. As we talked, his son called him – without asking what was going on, his son told him, “kick those idiots out of the house right now or we’ll never see her again.”

Without hesitation, he turned to me and asked if I would talk to his family. I’ve never in my life had nervousness set in that suddenly – my heart skipped a beat and my breath caught in my throat. I managed to eek out a, “sure,” and in a fog followed him back inside. His wife was in her room. The older daughter was on the couch with their friends. The younger daughter was in her room, sobbing almost uncontrollably. I told my friend not to pick any fights and go sit in his study. I asked the friends to leave; they did protest, at which point I said, “I grew up in your culture. I went to private Christian school. I was even homeschooled for a little while. I know exactly what you’ve been taught and I know exactly what you’re trying to do here. It’s not helping. So when you all decide that it’s better to love your friend than judge her, feel free to come back. For now, go home.” One opened her mouth again but I pointed at the door and said, “OUT!” It was louder and more forceful than intended, but they did as I wanted. It felt so strange to once again be throwing perfect strangers out of a friend’s house, but it was the only way the peace would be kept.

The one thing that made things settle down almost immediately was the revelation that I’m a lesbian, but I’m conservative. They didn’t think such a creature existed. One of the things they had been most afraid of was how her politics would turn (which I couldn’t help but laugh at). Another of their big issues was, “what will our friends at church think?”

That last one threw me for a loop. I had heard that sort of thing before but had never encountered it personally (aside from my own personal fear after I came out). How could a parent so readily reject their own child because their church congregation may not approve?

There’s no excuse. I can possibly understand the fear that a child will be hurt, drastically change their politics, never have children, or even walk away from their faith…I do not and will never understand judgment from church being a reason. Sitting there listening to this teenager’s mother talk about how the church will never approve I had a very difficult time not lashing out at her. I allowed her to finish and then, as calmly and professionally as I could, let her know that their approval was not an acceptable reason to reject any member of her family. It wasn’t worth it. If you continue to allow that to be a deciding factor in your reaction, I explained, one day you would regret it and wish you had her back.

It didn’t fix everything. The idea was to get everyone to calm down and think, and that goal was achieved. I’ve talked to my friend and his daughter over the phone several times since then. I’ve tried to impress upon her the importance of respecting her parents even if she doesn’t agree with them or they’re flat wrong. I’ve tried to make sure she understands that 16 is not old enough to start having sex, and she needs to save that for adulthood – and the right person. I still feel inadequate to be in the role I find myself in, but I would rather they make the attempt than give up, which I feel like they all want to do sometimes.

It kills me to see so many families still being torn apart by an unwillingness to accept their children no matter what. Yet another friend recently let slip that a child in her care has come out and it isn’t going well. I hope that soon we won’t have to worry about this quite as much anymore.

Until then, I beg of everyone – ask yourself what you’ll think and feel ten years from now. If you disown your child when they come out, will you still be happy with that choice in ten or twenty years? Is losing face with your friends really worth it?

Don’t Mess With The Narrative

On August 9, just a couple of weeks ago, Michael Brown was shot in the street by a Ferguson police officer.  Because Brown was an 18-year-old black male, naturally, and unarmed, he has become the newest cause in the vein of Trayvon Martin.

We didn’t even have all of the facts, and by the end of the day – the day he was killed – he was being immortalized as a “gentle giant” who had been shot by a racist white cop.  By the next day, protests had turned into riots.  The riots are continuing today, with everyone from the rioters to the governor of Missouri to the President calling for the officer, Darren Wilson, to be immediately and vigorously prosecuted. 

Who gives a damn what the facts are, right?  Michael Brown was a little angel who was innocently walking home and a cop randomly executed him because of his skin color.  Darren Wilson, if you’re buying the media’s story and that of the rioters, was a racist who committed cold-blooded murder and that’s all they need to know.

As is always the case, facts have come out since then that have shed a lot of light on what happened, but to see what’s still going on you’d never know it.  Last night two white protesters trying to defend the officer from the mob were violently chased until police put them in cruisers and physically drove them far from the scene.  Fully 57 rioters were arrested, yet only four of them were even from Ferguson – and of the 53 who were from out-of-town, another 16 were from other states.

Here’s what we have so far between the police and witnesses.

At 1201 local time, officer Darren Wilson was headed to a nearby convenience store that had been robbed when he spotted Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson walking down the middle of the street.  While still in his cruiser, he asked them to move to the sidewalk and out of the street; Brown and Johnson mocked the officer and refused to comply.  Wilson stopped, exited his cruiser, and again asked the pair to move out of the street.  Brown shoved Wilson back into his cruiser and began assaulting him, punching him with his fists and then struggling to take his gun from him.  At some point during the struggle, the gun went off, and Brown began to flee.  Wilson got out and leveled his weapon at Brown, commanding him to “freeze!”  Brown turned and said, “what are you gonna do, shoot me?”  Brown then rushed Wilson and Wilson fired several more shots until Brown finally fell dead in the street.

Some of this information has been disputed.  The original story was that Brown had his hands up and was surrendering, and the officer – out of spite or hatred – just decided to keep shooting.  A video was released, however, proving that to be false – a video of several witnesses in the neighborhood watching the crime scene and talking about what happened.  Then there’s the position of Brown’s body.  He was in the street, his head toward the cruiser, facedown.  Add that to the bullet trajectories, and the evidence shows that Brown was probably running when he was shot.  If he wasn’t running away from Wilson, that means Wilson is likely telling the truth.

Wilson was also badly injured.  We don’t know all of the details, but we know that he was taken to the hospital with severe facial bruising and swelling and it was discovered that he had an orbital socket blowout – meaning that the bone surrounding his eye had been shattered.  That takes a great deal of force to produce and normally requires surgery to repair. 

Then there’s statistics.  Those don’t lie.  According to the FBI, between 2003-2012 a total of 25 officers were killed with their own service pistols.  That means that the perps in these cases struggled with the officers, took their guns from them, and killed them.  That sort of situation is at the forefront of every officer’s mind.  If a man is willing to physically attack a uniformed and armed police officer, that officer is trained to assume that the perp has that very intention – now their life is in danger and they have no other option.  Since he had already struggled with Wilson once, I think we can assume that’s exactly what Brown had in mind.

But what about the robbery video, Mel?  If Wilson didn’t know about the robbery yet, why would they have released that video?  Well, let’s talk about that.  First of all, we don’t know if Wilson knew about the robbery; it is believed from several reports that he had heard about it and was heading toward the store that had been robbed, but we don’t know for sure.  Whether he knew about it or not, that video is evidence of something very important here, something I shouldn’t have to explain to anybody. 


Do you think an 18-year-old boy is going to believe that a police officer asking him questions isn’t interested in him because of the crime he had literally just committed minutes before?  I promise that’s exactly what he thought.  Since he thought he was being contacted because of the robbery, I guarantee he felt like he had nothing to lose. 

Being unarmed does not mean he was innocent, nor does it mean that he posed no threat.  The fact that he was 18 doesn’t mean he was a boy; he was 6’5″ and weighed 250 lbs.  The fact that the officer might not have known about the robbery doesn’t mean that he didn’t have a reason to ask Brown and Johnson to move out of the street.  Brown’s parents should have taught him more effectively to respect the authorities in his life.

All of these people who are out in mobs rioting and demanding justice against an officer who is likely innocent are not making things better.  Rather than being violent and insisting on the outcome they want, they should be insisting that the truth come out – and be willing to live with whatever the search for truth comes up with.  If and when officer Wilson is vindicated, nobody currently screaming for his head is going to settle for that truth.  Governor Nixon won’t step forward to apologize.  Al Sharpton certainly won’t apologize.  Nobody is going to learn from this.  This incident isn’t about finding the truth…it’s about getting what they want, and what they want is to continue in their belief that the black community bears no responsibility for their current condition.  They want to believe that everything going on is someone else’s fault.  Until that mindset is challenged from their own leadership, nothing will change.

Oh, and about Dorian Johnson…he currently has a warrant out for his arrest in St. Louis for giving a false report to a police officer.  Don’t make him out to be innocent.

As for officer Wilson, his life is over.  He will never be allowed to live in peace again, and that is a travesty that cannot be put to words.  I am sorry that the Brown family lost their son.  It appalls me, however, that they are so willing to allow that officer and his family to have everything they know and love taken from them by the rabble.

Cruel And Unusual

Yesterday, the State of Arizona executed double-murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood. Using a new two-drug combination, State doctors sedated Wood at 1352 and then administered the death drug. The names of the two drugs have not been released. He was pronounced dead at 1549.

The fact that it took nearly two hours for Wood to die has sparked new debate on the death penalty and whether it is “cruel and unusual” punishment. I have to ask, though, how do we define cruel and unusual? Let’s start with the individual words. According to Merriam-Webster, the standard definition of cruel is, “disposed to inflict pain or suffering : devoid of humane feelings : causing or helping to cause suffering : terrible and unfair.” It also says, “used to describe people who hurt others and do not feel sorry about it.” The standard definition of unusual is, “not normal or usual : different or strange in a way that attracts attention.”

The argument could be made that an execution is exactly that – different or strange in a way that attracts attention. It doesn’t attract attention for the cruelty, though. Put those two words together and it paints a much more accurate picture.

The word “cruel” brings to mind a psychopath – a person who sees the suffering of others as entertaining. That is how I would describe Joseph Wood.

Joseph Wood and Debra Deitz shared an apartment in Tucson in 1989. He was unemployed while she worked at her father’s auto shop. Wood’s bouts of rage and abuse often attracted attention; Debra frequently wore sunglasses to hide blackened eyes. Her father, Eugene Deitz, had attempted to accept Wood into the family at first; when he realized what Wood was doing to his daughter, Eugene made clear he disliked Wood. Wood let it be known that he didn’t like Eugene, even telling other people that “get him back” and that Eugene would “be sorry.” On June 30, 1989, a neighbor called police to report a very loud and violent fight coming from Wood’s apartment. The responding officer reported seeing cuts and bruises all over Debra’s body. Less than a week later, after yet another violent fight, Debra ended the relationship, took what she could carry, and moved back in with her parents. She took out an order of protection against Wood. That didn’t stop him from making more than twenty attempts to contact her at either her parents’ house or her father’s shop. On August 4, 1989, he left multiple messages on Debra’s answering machine, including one that ominously said, “Debbie, I’m sorry I have to do this. I hope someday somebody will understand when we’re not around no more. I do love you, babe. I’m gonna take you with me.”

The morning of August 7, 1989, Eugene and Debra went to the shop early in the morning. Wood called three times, each time being hung up on by either Debra or Eugene. The two left the shop for supplies; Wood called a fourth time and was told they would return shortly. At approximately 0850, a Tucson police officer noticed Wood driving “suspiciously” near the shop. The officer, a female, followed Wood’s vehicle. Wood parked at the shop and entered. After walking in the door he pulled out a .38 revolver. Many of the other six employees yelled at Wood to put the gun away. Instead, he walked up to Eugene at the front desk, raised the gun, shot him in the chest…and then smiled. The officer outside heard the gunshot and called for backup. Wood walked outside, saw the officer, and went back inside, pointing the gun at Eugene again. Eugene’s 70-year-old brother Donald tried to wrestle the gun away, but Wood shot him as well. Wood then made his way back into the shop and found Debra. He grabbed her by the throat and pressed the gun to her chest; Debra screamed, “no, Joe, don’t!” Wood yelled, “i have to kill you,” called her a bitch, and shot her twice in the chest. Police arrived and ordered him to drop his weapon. He did, but then picked it up and pointed it at officers. Officers opened fire, striking him several times. After being transported to U of A medical center, Wood survived, later to be tried and sentenced to death.

There has been so much to-do about Wood’s “botched” execution that you almost can’t find anything online about what he did to his victims. It absolutely disgusts me that the press is making so much noise about Wood gasping for air for an hour and a half that everyone has forgotten why he was being put to death in the first place. During his final words, Wood had the nerve to call on his “Christian conversion” – he said that he’d prayed for peace for everyone watching, and that G-d would forgive everyone present.

Those are not the words of a penitent man. In fact, they strike me as the words of a man who is still enjoying the pain he inflicted on an entire family 25 years ago. There is no Judeo-Christian scripture in creation that absolves one of the worldly consequences of one’s actions. In fact, according to scripture, even if G-d forgives you, you’re still culpable for anything you may have done. I fail to see why anyone administering the execution would need G-d’s forgiveness.

Richard Brown, Debra’s brother-in-law, was in the shop the day of the shooting. He spoke after the execution, only after a parade of reporters talked about how “disturbing” the execution was. He put it most succinctly when he said, “this man conducted a horrifying murder, and you guys are going, ‘oh, let’s worry about the drug and he felt!’…These people that do this, that are on death row, they deserve to suffer a little bit. This guy’s been here for 25 years getting medication, eating, roof, bed, clothes, shoes – where are they [the victims] at? Oh, that’s right, they’re dead. They’ve been dead for 25 years…I saw the life go out of my sister-in-law’s eyes right in front of me as he shot her to death. I’m so sick and tired of you guys blowing this drug stuff out of proportion, ’cause to me, that’s BS…all the witnesses that were there, friends of mine, still, friends of the family, still – it’s not just about him! It’s about other people that suffered, that are still suffering!…it’s about the victims. It ain’t about the guy that went to sleep and never woke up.”

Wise words. I wish the weak-hearted among us would listen closely.

Check Your Privilege

Sierra Mannie, a senior at the University of Mississippi, penned an op/ed for her school newspaper called “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture.” It was just re-run on TIME Magazine’s website. I’m not sure if it’s in the print version or not. Mannie is described as a “rising senior majoring in Classics and English” at UM.

The article is absolute crap.

First she goes on a rant about how evil and privileged white culture is in the US, then she bemoans how black culture is usurped by said privileged whites. She gripes about how black people don’t feel safe around law enforcement, can’t have their own schools, and can’t voice their opinions without their “race going on trial”. That alone makes her opinion null and void; first, I have plenty of black friends who feel perfectly safe around law enforcement, particularly those who ARE law enforcement. The reason so many don’t feel safe is because black-on-black crime is so rampant. Second, who says you can’t have your own schools? You have BET. I haven’t met many black people who really care about their own schools. And, really? Voicing your opinion without your race going on trial? The only reason your race goes on trial is because YOU keep bringing it up. I really don’t care what color your skin is. What matters to me is that you keep calling me a privileged racist just because I’m white.

Then she starts in on white gay men. Oh, you have no idea just how horrible it is to this woman that black female culture is being “pillaged” by white gay men. She writes, “when you thought this pillaging couldn’t get any worse, extracurricular black activities get snatched up, too: our music, our dances, our slang, our clothing, our hairstyles. All of these things are rounded up, whitewashed and repackaged for your consumption. But here’s the shade — the non-black people who get to enjoy all of the fun things about blackness will never have to experience the ugliness of the black experience, systemic racism and the dangers of simply living while black.”

This woman has absolutely no clue about what it’s like to be gay, even now. She obviously doesn’t give a damn.

Let me ask you, Ms. Mannie…how many times did your parents ask you, “have you ever tried NOT being black?” Did they ever tell you that they would never accept your partner? Did they ever tell you that, because you’re black, you’re living in sin and going to hell? Did your church ever kick you out because you’re black? Have you ever been shamed to be black?

Let’s take it a step further. Have you ever been spit on? Threatened? Called racial slurs? I daresay you probably haven’t. My family had a hard time accepting the fact that I’m gay when I came out ten years ago. My church? I don’t dare show my face there. A guy who used to be my friend once threatened to kill me because he thought I was staring at his girlfriend (for the record, she wasn’t attractive, and I don’t stare). I’ve had protesters spit on me as I passed by despite not being a counter-protester. I’ve had other gay people tell me to kill myself, start fights with me, and threaten me very publicly because I’m politically conservative. How often have YOU ever had to deal with genuine hate? How often have you felt relief upon finding refuge with the very few people in society who are like you? When I was a kid, you didn’t dare come out of the closet. There was no such thing as a “gay-straight alliance” club at school. I would have been severely beaten if I’d acknowledged that I liked girls. When have you ever experienced that level of hatred?

I’m not like lipstick lesbians. It’s very obvious that I’m gay. You say I can hide it – no, I can’t. I am who I am. I couldn’t hide it even if I wanted to. I know a lot of gay men who can’t hide it. I’ve watched some of them take a lot of harassment for being openly gay. There is no more debate in general society about whether black people are just as human as white people. Is there still racism? Of course. People aren’t perfect. Today, however, racism is no longer socially acceptable. In fact, if you voice racist opinions against minorities in this country, you’re publicly shamed. Three police officers and one fire chief have all been either fired or shamed into resignation after discovery of membership in the KKK in the past month or two. Where is your acknowledgement of that?

Gay culture is usurped all the time. Will & Grace, The Fosters, Chicago Fire, Glee, The Real World, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have all exploited the gay culture (IMO, it started with The Real World). Next up we have GBF, or “Gay Best Friend”, coming out. Katy Perry launched herself into the spotlight with “I Kissed A Girl”. Hollywood and LA is forever trying to do little things in film, TV, and music to say, “look! We’re supportive! Don’t you love us?” Really? You think black female culture is the only culture that’s being repackaged and whitewashed for consumption in the general population? Please. Cry me a damned river.

You come off as angry, bitter, and racist yourself. I can buy a hack college paper printing this drivel, but TIME? For shame. You don’t have the faintest clue what it’s like to be gay. Get over yourself.

Two Sides to Every Story

Last month, Mack Worley posted a video he had taken of an incident involving the police in his hometown of Vancouver, WA. The video begins with Vancouver police officers asking him – with weapons drawn – to put his rifle on the ground. Worley first refuses, saying he doesn’t want to touch the rifle for fear he’ll be shot (indicating that the rifle is slung over his shoulder), then after a second command to put it down he does so.

Throughout the video he maintains he has committed no crime. He refuses to identify himself or give his ID to officers, and does so rather rudely – right before demanding the name and badge number of every officer on scene. In news footage, Worley claims he was merely on a public sidewalk. It sounds like a raw deal, right?

Well, as always, there’s two sides to the story, and Worley doesn’t tell you what led up to the video he posted. This is why I always tell people to give the police the benefit of the doubt when a supposed brutality video is released – there’s almost always more to the story.

According to police dispatch and witness reports, a Burgerville security guard asked Worley to leave because other patrons of the restaurant were afraid of his weapon. Worley refused to leave, causing an employee to call 911. At some point he did leave and went to a fireworks stand next door; the fireworks stand actually closed suddenly because they had a policy about only allowing concealed weapons inside and they didn’t want him coming in. Next, he went to the Big Al’s bowling alley that took up a majority of the property. They also asked him to leave, and he (again) refused. At least three 911 calls were placed before he decided to go on his merry way, and police found him as he was making his way down the sidewalk.

Worley’s claims that he committed no crime are false. He may not have realized it, but he did commit a crime. In Washington state, you are allowed to carry a rifle over your shoulder or a pistol in a holster in the open as long as you’re on public property. However, as soon as you enter private property – whether it’s a residence or a business – the owner or occupier of that property has the right to ask you to either leave your weapon in your car or leave. They set the rules in that situation. In all 50 states, if the owner or legal resident of any private property asks you to leave and you refuse, you are trespassing. In most, if you trespass with a weapon, it’s a more serious offense.

Before I go any further, I should probably voice my opinion that carrying an AR15 to dinner may not be the brightest idea. I am an ardent proponent of Second Amendment rights, however I also believe in tact. We are no longer living in the 1700′s. We now have the technology to carry very small, very powerful firearms concealed so that the sheep in our society don’t lose their minds when we walk through the door. I love AR15′s and plan to buy one as soon as I can afford it (thanks to the popularity and fears over bans, the price has skyrocketed and I’m not made of money). It is my considered opinion, however, that the AR should stay at home when you go out for some casual grub. Call me crazy. Much like your First Amendment right gives you the right to be a jackass and you should probably be wise with your words, you should definitely be wise with what you carry.

That said…Worley started this with his ignorance. It’s unfortunate, but it often takes an arrest to teach someone like him what the rules really are about carrying. If he’d done some research he wouldn’t be facing this now.

To make things even more complicated, Worley’s behavior after being contacted by officers was incredibly rude. Where I come from, if someone asks your name, you give it just to be polite. When you don’t it’s seen as confrontational. Worley, like many other in his brand of this movement, believes he is not required to give his name or his ID because of his Fourth Amendment rights. However, the Supreme Court ruled in Hiibel v Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada that neither the Fourth or Fifth Amendment are violated by a police officer who requires ID – or by a police officer who arrests you for refusing. It’s not an unlawful search or seizure of personal effects to know who you are and where you live.

There’s no reason to refuse to give officers your ID or even just your name.

What’s more is that he immediately insists that officers give their names and badge numbers. When they all point to their name tapes and give him guff, he has the nerve to complain that they’re being rude. He suffers from the mentality that he can be as rude and childish as he wants and officers still have to give him a smile. Sorry…it doesn’t work that way. If you’re going to be rude to others, those people will be rude in return, and you deserve it.

Worley doesn’t have much of an argument here. He claims that he’s on a “mission” to educate people about the Second Amendment. He says, “I want people to know that it’s not illegal to carry.” He says it’s not his fault that people are afraid. He is right about that last part. It isn’t his fault that people are afraid. It is his fault, though, that he trespassed on private property more than once.

To be fair, the police weren’t exactly being helpful when he was trying to get to his vehicle to leave. Rather than yelling at him on a loudspeaker to walk the other way they should have found out where his vehicle was and allowed him to get to it. That is on them, but the rest of this incident is largely on him.

I, and many others, would appreciate it if you would do two things, Mr. Worley. First, make sure you know what the law says before you decide that it’s your job to teach other people anything. Second, learn to be nice.

If this were a genuine case of police violating your rights, I’d be all over it. You did yourself in, though. Time to man up and accept responsibility for your ignorant actions.