We Are Young

The atrocity that graces the cover of this month’s Rolling Stone magazine may be generating more controversy than the editors intended.

This much was obvious when senior editor Christian Hoard Tweeted, “I guess we should have drawn a d**k on Dzhokhar’s face or something?” After defending the magazine’s decision to put the terrorist’s airbrushed mug on the cover by bringing up the Charles Manson cover back in the 70’s, Hoard started to realize that this was VERY different. So far, a total of ten retailers (that I know of, anyway) are refusing to carry the August issue. Some may even stop carrying RS altogether. Hoard later removed his snarky tweet and apologized – but he continued to defend putting a picture of a terrorist on RS’s front cover.

Never mind the fact that they picked the most attractive picture they could find and airbrushed it to make him look like a damned rock star. Never mind that they called the associated article “Jahar’s World” (putting his first name in English pronunciation to dumb it down). RS is trying to say that because the story is relevant to our day and age – and because he “is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.”

I call bullshit.

We already have all the understanding we need. The Tsarnaev brothers had been raised Muslims, became radicalized when the older brother returned to their home country and took on some paramilitary training, and they hatched, planned, and carried out a plot to bomb innocent people at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. They were hatemongers and murderers. That is all the understanding we need. There are plenty of people out there willing to take their place and keep jihad alive without giving the face of death a place on the hallowed cover of rock music’s most famed magazine and dressing him up to look like a complex, brooding young man yearning to be understood.

We already know everything we need to know. We don’t need to examine him or his mind, we don’t need to gain a more complete understanding of the hows or whys, and we sure as hell don’t need to debate what to do next. My libertarian friends will heartily disagree with this belief, but we need to close our borders. Those so eager to throw the door open and let everyone come freely forgets that this is what happens. We already know there is a massive religious movement in the Eastern hemisphere that loathes us and wants to destroy us, so why are we continuing to let people of this radical belief into our country? If the Middle East and a rogue Russian territory want to institute Sharia, let them – don’t get involved in their business and keep them out of ours.

Another thing that is vital is stopping the celebrity treatment of terrorists.

All of Hoard’s arguments in defense of the new issue of RS fall flat in the face of how they present their article. I might have been able to live with an article giving a voice to the victims’ families and the survivors, but exploring the past of the murderers? I have a huge problem with that, and we all should. When the 19 9/11 hijackers were given martyrdom status by several Muslim organizations, we were disgusted and let the world know we were pissed off. We should do no less with this cretin and everyone like him. It is unforgivable to commit the act of barbarism that we saw on April 15, 2013. It is one step short of unforgivable to hold the surviving perpetrator up as some kind of pop culture icon. This morbid fascination is nauseating and inspires me to be willing to rack up my first assault charge on anyone who calls for him to be freed in my presence.

David Draiman, frontman for two of my favorite bands (DISTURBED and Device), had this to say about the RS cover:

“Everybody is their own person. Everybody is capable of making their own choices. Everybody is cognizant of their own choices and the minute you start blaming everything around you for why somebody loses their god damned mind is the minute that everybody comes up with an excuse to be a maniac. I’ve had a very, very colorful life, so to speak. I’ve had my trials and tribulations. I’ve experienced betrayal and death and loss, in ways that most people couldn’t possibly imagine. It didn’t turn me into a terrorist – and looking into what made this monster isn’t going to stop future monsters from being made. What’s going to stop future monsters from being made is not glamorizing them and giving them infamy and putting their face all over the press.”

Putting Manson on the cover wasn’t acceptable, either – nor was making Adolf Hitler TIME Magazine’s “person of the year” in 1938. The fact that we are young does not mean that we need to explore the darkest evil that is visited upon us. Fight it, condemn it, kill it – do not put it on a pedestal. That is nearly as unforgivable as the original act.

I am not only boycotting RS – I am boycotting any store I find carrying it and any advertiser that refuses to object to being placed in this issue. Here is a list of products our readers will commonly use that are being pushed in that issue:

Absolut (I haven’t used their products since their ridiculous reconquista ad, anyway, and they never apologized.)
Chevrolet (I love my Ford truck more than ever right now)
Jim Beam
Maker’s Mark Whiskey
Old Spice
Ralph Lauren
Shock Top Brewery

George Zimmerman: Not Guilty

One year ago, shortly after the news broke about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, I posted an article about it. You can read it here.

Today, a jury – after only two days of deliberation – found George Zimmerman not guilty on all counts. They did not even convict him of manslaughter. The jury wasn’t undecided – they voted unanimously to acquit. This is where some of my friends who are very angry about this start dreaming of my death:

This is exactly as it should be.

If you read the article I previously wrote, you’ll see a point I made about the Crown Heights riots. The Jews in Crown Heights in 1991 were brutally wronged and none of them have ever received anything resembling an apology for what mobs of black men did to them. Twenty-two years later, after Al Sharpton excused himself without ever apologizing for inciting those riots, he is once again center stage to call the verdict “an atrocity” and “one of the worst situations I’ve ever seen.” I wonder if he said that after Josef Lifsh tried to avoid hurting anyone as he was about to wreck and ended up killing a boy he couldn’t see in what was purely an accident.

Nobody is taking a center-of-the-road stance on the subject of Zimmerman’s acquittal. Everyone is passionately angry or rejoicing about it. Nobody wins in this situation; the Martins have still lost their son. Zimmerman will never really be a free man because tens of thousands of people want him dead now. Even people whom I respect (even though we don’t always agree) are wildly emotional right now, going so far as to call for the riots to begin.

That’s because all anyone has viewed this incident through is the lens of emotion. Some of my black friends – some, not all – heard his non-emergency call to police that night and believed immediately that the whole thing was racial. At least one person claimed to me that another non-emergency call to police has been played publicly but I have not been able to find anything other than his call the night of the shooting.

Here’s what I know. I’m in public safety. I’ve helped a lot of victims of burglaries and home invasions, both as a victim advocate and as an EMT. I’ve seen the havoc that kind of crime plays in a person’s life. What I hear when that call is played is a man whose home was broken into and is now paranoid that every stranger in his condo complex is trouble. On the night of the shooting, while he says, “I think he’s black,” I can’t hear racism in that. Calling him a racist for one call to police (when in reality he made nearly 100 for the neighborhood watch) in which he describes the person he sees as being black does not make him a racist. What I hear is a man whose adrenalin is going because someone he has never seen before is walking through the complex wearing a hood pulled low over his face. I don’t hear a racist.

This is where I say something that my other friends may not like. Zimmerman was completely irresponsible in the way he conducted himself. I’m a little different from most people; I have years of experience in tactics, close-quarters combat, and the use of small arms. I’ve been in martial arts for nearly half my life. I have a lot of experience, and while I am capable of being very violent if the situation calls for it, I try very hard to find another solution. I will only pull my sidearm as a last resort, if my life or the life of another is in jeopardy. If a person attacks me with his bare hands, I will handle it with my bare hands. I have never in my life had to actually shoot a person despite being attacked, and I hope that I never do have to fire my weapon at another human being. (As an aside, since Nancy Grace asked, I carry a firearm everywhere it is legal for me to do so, even when walking the dog. Why? Because the bad guy will target you when you least expect it.)

The most responsible thing any gun owner or CCW holder can do is get some training in hand-to-hand combat. Not the flashy karate or kung fu crap you see in the movies, but honest-to-Pete street fighting. I always recommend Krav Maga, not because it’s Israeli, but because it’s extremely effective. If you want Asian martial arts then you should be careful to find a place that actually teaches fighting, not one that promises you’ll reach black belt within a year.

He shouldn’t have gotten out of his truck, but if you listen to the call closely, you hear something quite interesting…he didn’t get out until after he told the dispatcher that Martin was running away. By that time, Martin had already noticed he was being followed. What he should have done (as I said in my previous post) was keep running until he got home. Instead, he circled around, called Zimmerman out, and attacked him.

Let me pose this question…if you were walking home in the middle of the night, would you cut through a strange neighborhood? If you did and you found someone following you, would you then pick a fight with that person? If your answer to both of those is yes, you have a problem. At night, if you must walk, you should stick to well-lit areas, preferably those that are populated. If you find yourself being followed, you should either ask the person, “can I help you?” or just run as fast as you can to the nearest populated area to get help. Your first instinct should NEVER be to yell, insult, or start throwing punches. The instant Trayvon did those things he was taking responsibility for a grave decision. Yes, Zimmerman was irresponsible for not knowing how to handle a confrontation with an unarmed person – but Trayvon instigated the violence, therefore he is responsible. Whether Zimmerman is a racist or not is irrelevant at that point.

I don’t think any of my black friends have ever been spit on for being black. I don’t think any of them have ever had a group of white people threaten them because they are black. I know that none of them have ever gotten death threats for being black. I have been spit on for being gay, I have been threatened for being white (while on duty and in uniform, no less), and I have been openly threatened for being gay. I was first called a faggot when I was in the third grade. Even before I began identifying as Jewish, I had several people – a couple of them black – call me things like kike and dirty Jew, merely for defending Jewish people. Even on the pages of this blog I’ve been attacked as a Jew. I know what hate is. These idiots calling for riots and brandishing guns on Twitter don’t know the first damn thing about hatred. They’ll perpetuate it, though, because something really needs to be done about all of these creepy ass crackas. I suppose I should be thankful that I can tell by the picture that the doofus has absolutely no training at all with guns, but unfortunately an idiot with a gun is still deadly.

Violence may solve a good many problems, but this is not one of them. Dr. King would be beside himself if he could see what is going on right now. Were it only that more would take a page from Lupe Fiasco’s book and turn the spotlight on themselves, we might not need to have this debate. Unfortunately the press turned this sad story, one in which everyone lost, into a circus and the public won’t learn anything from it.

None Of Us Are Perfect

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard those words. When I worked in prisons, both with youth and adult offenders, medium and maximum security, every single time I had to discipline an inmate who got out of line would say that to me. It has become the mantra of criminals the world over: the Bible says we’re all sinners, so you are no more perfect than I am, motherf**ker.

Reading through the last statements of death row inmates before they were executed by the State of Texas, the trend of “you’re not perfect, so don’t you dare judge me” continues. Many try to say that their death, even when they admit to their crimes, is wrong.

In my experience, those are the last fighting words of dying men and women hoping to be spared at the last second.

It’s human nature to want to live. That’s why suicide has such a stigma surrounding it. Every species on this planet does what they can to survive. Human beings are no different. The big difference between people and animals is that we have a conscience. We can make our own decisions. We do not go out into public and randomly murder other people because it’s in our nature to do so; we are taught early that stealing, hurting, and committing murder are wrong. Even if we’re not taught these things at home, it’s in the culture. We know that it’s not acceptable.

So when convicts – from the lowliest white-collar criminal who knows no violence to the monster who kills five people and then blames it on his hatred for another race – look you in the eye and tell you, “none of us are perfect,” they are lying by omission. They lie just as much to themselves as they do to you.

They lie by casting the spotlight away from themselves. They lie by pointing a finger at you so they don’t have to take responsibility for their own actions. They lie by belittling their crimes and the impact those crimes had on the victims (and, in murder cases, those left behind by their victims). They do it as easily as one would speak their own name; for sociopaths and psychopaths it is always easy, but for convicts who have a conscience and simply choose to ignore it, lying in this manner assuages their guilt for a short while. Eventually it doesn’t bother them at all.

I can’t work in corrections anymore because I don’t have the patience for that lie. I’ve been asked to come back – I simply won’t. Convicts are convicts whether they’re in Texas or Arizona, California or Maine. As I watch certain trials play out in the media, I can tell by watching the accused whether they’re guilty or innocent. You can see it in the way they respond and how the witnesses describe their responses in the days after their arrest.

We live in a culture that claims to want both justice and mercy. Liberals scream that the death penalty needs to be stopped, yet the same people who are against the death penalty are okay with abortions after the second trimester – and they set up websites and threads calling for men like George Zimmerman to be killed, whether he’s found guilty or acquitted. The media reports certain crimes in certain ways to get a lot of attention. Others, they practically ignore…then when the accused in those cases face the death chamber, they call for clemency, right after climbing down from their soapbox where they passionately cried for justice against an innocent soul.

This is what happens when we let our emotions rule us unchecked. It is compounded when there is a lack of education. In a day and age when the average twentysomething has developed the attention span of a gnat and a fantastic ability to process stories no longer than the average Twitter post, it’s not surprising. It is embarrassing, though, that this is what my country has become. I’m aware that none of us are perfect. That is not an excuse to behave like an animal, even if the atheists among us would have you believe that’s all you are.

Who Makes The Rules?

I did the workout from hell last night, and today I feel like I’ve been beaten with a baseball bat (actually, not too far off…it was a tractor tire and a couple of lines of retired fire hose). So I was bored out of my mind this morning reading through pop culture news and came across something I had considered posting last night. Now that I can hardly move it seems like a fantastic idea.

Alec Baldwin, the perpetual two-year-old of Hollywood lore, pitched another fit. This time it was scathingly homophobic. In fact, it was so bad that his Twitter account was suspended. That takes some serious try.

Apparently, gay British journalist George Stark wrote a story in the Daily Mail (it has since been removed) accusing the eldest Baldwin brother’s wife of Tweeting smoothie recipes during the funeral for actor James Gandolfini. Now…I’m sure it’s no major surprise that he has no class. He left a horrid voicemail calling his own daughter a “rude, thoughtless little pig” after she failed to show for a weekend visit a few years back. He’s had several public meltdowns since, but this one took it.

He started off coolly enough, flatly saying that the story wasn’t true. He couldn’t just leave it there, though. Oh, no. This is Alec Baldwin we’re talking about. He has a reputation to uphold! He promptly fired off a series of Tweets calling Stark a “toxic little queen” then, after threatening to “f**k…you…up” he seethed, “I’d put my foot up your f**king a**, George Stark, but I’m sure you’d dig it too much” and then called on all of his followers to “straighten out this f**king little b**ch.”

The fact that he has any followers left speaks ill of the intelligence of Americans in the modern age.

Of course, we are also talking about the same society that gave a Grammy award to a vicious fraction of a man who beat his girlfriend nearly senseless before dumping her out of his car and leaving her there.

The rest of Hollywood has either learned to live with his crap or they actually like it. I’m not sure which I believe, and an honest case could be made for both. Mel Gibson was rightly put in his place after his drunken “Jews are responsible for all of the wars in the world” rant. He’s hardly seen a decent film set (or theater turnout) since. Paula Deen admitted to using a racial slur once nearly three decades ago and she’s being dropped like a plague-infected locust.

Alec Baldwin goes on a rant where he openly threatens a gay man, mocks his sexual orientation, and he somehow gets a free pass. The press practically yawns. He gets off the next day by calling himself “someone who fights against homophobia” in an apology after he deletes his entire Twitter account. Never mind the fact that after years in Hollywood, the man knows how tabloid-y British press can be and how they’ll latch onto something like this and he STILL loses his mind over it.

Matt Damon, Jeneane Garofalo, Sean Penn…Alec Baldwin. All of these people have displayed such arrogant, childish, and ignorant behavior that I can’t stomach seeing them on film anymore. I just can’t take them seriously.

Well, Blow Me Over…

Madonna just made me fall out of my chair.

Following the news that has-been Jim Carrey made the very public decision to stop backing his latest film, Kick-Ass 2, superstar Madonna managed something I didn’t think she could: she shocked the hell out of every conservative in America.

She has gone public with her belief that it’s PEOPLE that kill people – not guns.

Carrey Tweeted, “I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence…I’m not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.” So, the shootings at Paducah, Jonesboro, Columbine, Red Lake, Amish Country, Virginia Tech, and Tucson didn’t change your heart before Sandy Hook? It took multiple mass shootings (nearly all in gun-free zones, something you’d think would indicate a trend) before you opened your eyes? That smacks of either willful ignorance or blatant opportunism, I can’t decide which. Besides being openly insulting with his “Cold Dead Hands” schtick (again, I point out the trend that this supposedly brilliant man can’t find right under his nose), now he expects that we’re gullible enough to buy his mea culpa routine? Please.

Don’t count on him giving his salary back to the production studio that made Kick-Ass 2. He won’t do any pressers to promote the film, but you can bet your sweet bippie he got paid for his time.

Carrey’s self-righteous grandstanding doesn’t really surprise me anymore. Madonna, on the other hand, was completely unexpected in her support of Second Amendment rights and the logic behind what we believe. She’s right. A gun isn’t going to sprout legs, walk down the street and kill someone. It doesn’t tell the person who picks it up to drive to the local school and start shooting people. A person – a human being with full control of their own choices and movement – has to make the decision to get the gun, load it, transport it, find their victims and kill them. That takes time, thought, and effort. Often they have to consider whether they’re willing to be taken into custody or if they’d rather kill themselves. A lot goes into these mass events that most liberals don’t stop to think about.

Madonna apparently has a better head on her shoulders than I first thought. I still don’t like her music, but I can certainly give her more credit for being able to think independently and not move with the Hollywood herd.

She is sure to catch flak for this. Carrey is taking some from one of the film’s producers, but that will be where it ends. His career has hit the skids; his most recent roles have been reduced to support (whereas he was once a commanding presence as a leading actor), and the slam-dunk of a sequel to one of his biggest hits, “Dumb and Dumber”, has been cancelled. He has several other films in the works but he is no longer the box office draw that he was.

The hysterical thing about this whole situation? The character he plays, Colonel Stars and Stripes, is a Christian who refuses to fire a gun.

I think I’m gonna go see it on opening day.

By Proclamation Of The One

Apparently, June is now GLBT Pride month. So saith President Obama, who – upon making his declaration – once again took the moment to bang on his chest about all he has done for the gay community.

Gag me.

I don’t need to go through all of the reasons why he is not our friend again. You can read what I had to say about that here. What I am going to do is pull back the blinds on an issue that irks me – one you’d think gays and lesbians in the US would be more conscientious about.

Gay rights in the Middle East.

President Obama makes grand speeches like the one he made just a few days ago, regaling us all with tales of his “partnership” with the gay community and his belief that we should be equal, but he openly ignores the plight of gays and lesbians in the Middle East. In Iran, gay men are hung publicly. In Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Qatar, and especially Saudi Arabia, gay men are beaten, starved, tortured, stoned and beheaded. What’s more, the same things are done by the supposedly peace-loving Palestinians – uneasy neighbors to Israel.

What should be heartwarming is the fact that Israel welcomes gay people. There is no legal discrimination (with the exception of a ban on gay adoptions, which can easily be circumvented there, as opposed to here). Gay pride parades can happen in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem without fear of bombings or shootings because they are protected by police and IDF. Gay tourism in Tel Aviv has grown, and this year’s pride festival drew more attendees from Israel and Europe than most US pride festivals. Tel Aviv is listed as one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities – I dare say because there are very few, if any, Palestinians there.

Go ahead, call me a hatemonger. I don’t hate them – I just don’t trust them.

I am damn proud to be an American, but I am mortified that my President will proclaim an entire month gay pride month while he throws billions of dollars in cash and weapons at nations that would see my people rounded up and slaughtered if they could get away with it (both gays and Jews). Celebrities in my country of birth claim to support my rights as a lesbian to live freely and openly while also attacking the only nation in the Middle East that allows gay people to live in the open and cares when one of us is attacked or murdered. I am disgusted that so many people of note in America are so willing to be so hypocritical and excuse themselves as somehow more “moral” than I am.

June is also cat adoption month. It has gone ignored by Obama.

You know what else it is? This is very personal for me – PTSD awareness month. This is where I come out of the closet. I have PTSD.

The details are my business, but until I was diagnosed in 2009 I struggled with depression, memories that I couldn’t get rid of, flashbacks, panic attacks – the whole nine yards. I knew something was off but I couldn’t tell what until I met a therapist who put it all together. Right now, that therapist is the only reason I’m still in the Phoenix area. I have made incredible strides toward having something resembling a normal life only to have liberals in the past few months saying publicly that I should have certain rights – particularly my Second Amendment rights – taken away because I’m somehow dangerous. June is the month set aside to bring attention to those with PTSD, and Obama all but thumbed his nose at it when he decided to declare it gay pride month.

I am insulted. I feel like I’m being slapped in the face by a government that refuses to acknowledge my right to disagree. I am being lied to by a man who claims to care about my rights as a lesbian, yet cares nothing for the gay and lesbian victims all over the Middle East who fear death every day. I refuse to accept his proclamation. As soon as Obama stops trying to pander to groups that he refuses to help protect overseas, I’ll believe he cares about my rights.

Hating Rick Warren

On Saturday, April 6, Pastor Rick Warren – famous for writing The Purpose-Driven Life and pastoring SoCal megachurch Saddleback – announced that his 27-year-old son Matthew had committed suicide. Today it was revealed that Matthew shot himself.

I don’t necessarily agree with Pastor Warren on a number of things, but I do have respect for him. He doesn’t pull a huge salary from his church. He doesn’t live an opulent lifestyle, at least not that I know of. My heart broke when I heard that his son had taken his own life after struggling with severe depression since childhood.

What has come out of some members of the gay community, however, is beyond the pale.

Twitchy and The Blaze both reported social media movements directing breathtaking hatred at Pastor Warren and his family after Matthew’s death. They suggested that Matthew was gay and killed himself because his father was a supposed hatemonger. They brought up his support for Prop 8 and literally said that Pastor Warren “hanged his own son”. They said that “with all the gay kids dead, this was a small price to pay.”

Shut up. For once in your over-privileged, self-indulgent lives, shut the hell up. I’ve lost four of my friends to suicide. As an EMT, I’ve run countless suicide calls and I always leave with the feeling that I have done absolutely nothing to help the family. It is nearly impossible for me these days to run those calls without breaking down myself. It has gotten to the point that child drownings are less difficult for me, and that’s a significant statement for me to make. I know how dark those days are after you find someone you loved in that position.

At the same time, I also know suicidal depression. My entire life, I’ve been hated and made fun of. I’ve always been the butt of someone’s joke. I believe it is only by the grace of G-d that I am a stronger person now, because I have been down that black hole where it felt as though there was no escape. Maybe G-d has used those calls to open my eyes to the reality that suicide leaves behind; if so, I am thankful for that, even though I’m not sure my presence was much help to those left to pick up the pieces. Each and every one of you aiming your vitriol at Pastor Warren, accusing him of “killing his gay son”, have directed the same vile stupidity at me at one time or another and you do not know or care how much that hurts. Who the hell are you to preach about caring for the hurting? You can’t even do it yourselves!

I am beyond appalled. I am furious. Pastor Warren is a much more gracious and forgiving soul than I am in praying for these people. I cannot understand celebrating someone’s death, not for any reason. I have never in my life felt happiness upon hearing that a human being has died, no matter how much I may have disliked them. Yet as angry as I am with the gay community right now for their intense hatred, intolerance, and hypocrisy, I still cannot wish this kind of pain upon them.

What astounds me, though, is Dan Savage. Usually the first to make an inappropriate comment or attack a conservative, when asked for his opinion he said, “My only comment is this: As a parent, my heart aches for Rick Warren and his wife. They have my sympathy.”

Thank you, Dan, for not hating Rick Warren as so many others have.

Liar, Liar

Jim Carrey released a video on Funny or Die in which he made his political views known, at least as far as guns go. He lampooned Charlton Heston’s “Cold Dead Hands” speech in a crass, sophomoric manner that is well-known to his fans. He now joins the ranks of George Clooney in being remarkably disrespectful to a man who was a Hollywood hero long before the role existed.

I’m not going to link the video here because I’m not interested in directing traffic to it. I have seen it, and it’s incredibly infantile. His roles in movies like Me, Myself and Irene were worth more than this garbage. His entire excuse for his boorish behavior? He’s against “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines”, of course.

Naturally, that makes it perfectly okay to make fun of a man who far out-classes you, Mr. Carrey.

Charlton Heston was marching for civil rights long before anyone else in Hollywood took it up as a cause. He took a hell of a lot of flak for it, too. Later, after he became one of the biggest box office draws, Heston helped push the Gun Control Act of 1968. Among the provisions of that bill were bans on felons and illegal aliens possessing or purchasing guns and the establishment of Federal Firearms Licensing, requiring all gun dealers to be licensed.

Even Heston, however, knew there had to be limits to progressivism. Sometime in the 1980’s he left the progressive bandwagon. He believed there were enough restrictions on owning guns. Civil rights had already been secured. He saw progressives making targets out of conservative white citizens who believed in their First and Second Amendment rights and he believed that the pendulum was about to swing too far. He became the president of the NRA after seeing the seemingly never-ending assault on Second Amendment rights in America.

That, however, is the only thing today’s Hollywood remembers of him. They have developed selective amnesia and forgotten that he picketed against a theater that was playing the movie El Cid – one of his best – because the theater was segregated. Allied Artists, the film company that made the movie, was mad at him for the move but he refused to back down. He marched with Dr. King and Sydney Poitier. Yet all they want to recall is that he held a rifle aloft and told the world that the government of his country would have to pry his guns from his cold, dead hands.

Some of my friends have reminded me to “consider the source” before getting angry with Jim Carrey. Unfortunately, he’s not the only source, and he’s only serving to further popularize a ridiculous notion that certain weapons with purely cosmetic features and large-capacity clips are the real cause of gun violence. That he chose to attack Mr. Heston long after his passing may show how tasteless he is but it makes him no less dangerous to our freedom to defend ourselves.

What’s more, when the outrage against his immature little snit was reported widely on Fox News, Carrey took it a step further and released an equally ludicrous “press release” attacking “Fux News” and claiming that he’d sue if he felt they were worth his time. Sorry, kiddo – you’re not suing because you know full well that you’d lose and everyone knows it. Liar, liar, pants on fire.

It’s not Fox that’s attacking you, it is us – the Americans who have watched your movies and put millions of dollars in your pockets because we thought you were a talented comedian. You have insulted us by acting as though you know better than we do. You’ve never served your country (hell, you’ve never served your community) and you have no idea what kind of evil lurks in the world. You have no clue what it takes to defend the people you love because you have never had to do it the way we have. Why would you? You have enough money to hire armed bodyguards. I wonder, Jim, do you count the number of rounds in their weapons before they’re allowed to work for you? Or do you want them to have more rounds in the event some nutjob attacks you?

At the end of the day, we all realize one simple truth: Charlton Heston had more class in his little finger than you will realize in your entire life. You are the court jester, and we do not like the entertainment preaching to us about how we should believe. This is not an attack orchestrated by Fox, it is a backlash from us being reported by Fox. That you fail to understand that only proves how childish you really are.

Asleep In The Light

I identify more with Judaism now, but I was raised in a Christian home. I know the Bible better than most. I no longer celebrate Easter because it is believed that Easter actually became known as it is because of a church custom of taking pagan holidays – in this case, the celebration of Eostre, the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, hence the bunnies and eggs being so popular – and “Christianizing” them so the pagan cultures would convert without having to give up centuries-held traditions.

It’s not that I don’t believe in G-d or His Grace. I just don’t believe that the church today really puts much emphasis on it these days, even though they claim to.

A rabbi that I know and deeply respect once said something to me that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “if Yeshua (Jesus) was the messiah, He certainly never intended his followers to become what they are.” He wasn’t talking about one issue in particular, he was discussing many issues in that one statement, and he was right. Christians in America can be the most arrogant, pious, and self-serving people on the planet. They do more damage to their own cause than they will ever be willing to admit, and they claim it all in the name of love.

This isn’t solely going to be an indictment on Christians for their teachings on homosexuality (although that is definitely part of it). There’s more to it than that. I’m not willing to call them hatemongers, but they are blinded by their own self-righteousness. Keith Green wrote some amazing songs that called the church out on its hypocrisy – I grew up with his music, and I still love it. What astonishes me is that he was so popular with the very people who were behaving exactly as he described:

“Oh bless me lore, bless me lord”
You know it’s all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear…

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
’cause it’s asleep in the light …

I still remember, well after Green died in a plane crash, the music minister at my church singing that song one Sunday morning. The high points of the song garnered cheering. My church, Grace Community Church of Clear Lake (now GCC Houston with two massive campuses, one on either end of the city), had a very large, beautiful facility. It was very expensive. I remember fundraising efforts to have the backlit stained-glass window installed behind the baptismal. All of the money that has been spent on that facility could have gone to a million different things, but they spent it on the latest and greatest buildings and technology.

At the time, I would have proudly defended it. We need these things, I’d say, because we need to be able to attract people to the church to hear the gospel. I now believe I was very wrong, and so were they. Knowing what I know about what went on in the offices I don’t think any of the staff were nearly as ministry-minded as I used to believe. Even I wasn’t ministry-minded; I was religious, and I couldn’t tell the difference between being religious and having faith. They really are two vastly different things. I now understand perfectly the dichotomy of that song’s message and how nobody in the congregation understood it.

In my first year of working as an EMT, I had to learn where the county homeless shelter was and who was allowed to be there. Because the homeless could go there and get three square meals, religious groups were barred from gathering to pass out food – I have since had to ask many of them to leave. Nearly all of them have gotten aggressive with me, often accusing me of being an angry lesbian (yes, it really is that obvious) who hates God and only wants to stop their “ministry”. I’ve had groups all but assault me, trying to “lay hands” on me to pray for my salvation. I know that they don’t mean to hurt me, but at the same time I can’t let them do those things. I’ve had to call police to remove them more times than I can recall.

You see, rather than offer assistance to the county to help run the shelter and kitchens, they’d rather hand out food themselves and preach. I used to do it, too, and I know exactly why they do it – to feel better about themselves. They go out on a Sunday afternoon and make a gesture that, in the end, really doesn’t mean much. Once their good deed is done for the week, they go to church on Wednesday and brag about how they did battle with the “forces of darkness” (that would be me, of course) and talk about doing it again.

Being a good Christian is about more than a big facility, expensive production equipment, and going out to hand out food to the homeless once in a while. It’s about more than saying grace before sitting down to eat. It’s about more than a cool slogan, t-shirt, bumper sticker, or the most recent devotional version of the Bible. It should be about faith. Among Christians, divorce and financial irresponsibility are rampant. They want to hold all of society accountable but they can’t even hold themselves accountable. Jesus said that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, yet we have Christian leaders (including my former pastor from Houston) telling their congregants that G-d’s blessings will make them wealthy if they only have enough faith.

The only people that Jesus specifically condemned to hell, however, were the religious leaders. He spoke seven woes upon the Pharisees and Saducees. I think if He were here in the flesh now he’d say the same thing. He’d ask, “what do you need this huge building for? Why are there pictures of the pastor all over every piece of literature this church hands out? Why are you on TV asking for donations when you already have a huge home and an expensive car? Why are you out protesting a group of people when you could be quietly living a faithful life and setting a better example – without the piousness?”

I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s Easter. If it means something to you, I think it’s great – it’s between you and G-d. The next time you get into that debate and you feel the urge to shout me down, ask yourself why. Why is it so important that I force my faith on everyone through law? Was G-d’s promise to “heal their land” really meant for us, or was it simply directed at a wayward Israel? How does the gospel gain converts when you beat everyone about the head and shoulders with your beliefs and claim that they’re the same as our Founding Fathers?

If you can’t answer those questions honestly – without invoking the “this is a Christian nation” argument – then you need to question yourself. Unfortunately, I don’t think enough people out there are smart enough to do that. That is why the church will always be asleep in the light.

A Time For Equality

When I was born, being openly gay was only acceptable in certain parts of San Francisco. Even in the Castro, police would harass known gay people. Everywhere else? Forget it. New York City wasn’t even partially as progressive as San Francisco was. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

With the collapse of Nazi Germany (the third installation of which I will post tomorrow), a gay-rights movement sprang up in Europe, the UK, and the US. I think it may have been spurred on by the revelation that the Nazis had targeted homosexuals for extermination along with the Jews. The original movement gained a surprising amount of steam considering the conservative social sensibilities of the time. In 1966 LAPD officers raided Compton’s Cafeteria to arrest men dressed as women and a riot broke out – the drag queens and transgendered patrons destroyed the place. The next day, they went back to the cafe and smashed the newly-replaced plate-glass windows again (because, you know, destruction is the only way to get your point across when you’ve barely attempted to talk). In 1969, NYPD officers raided the Stonewall Inn, one of many mafia-owned gay bars.

Maybe I should explain here what laws were like in America at the time. Even in places that are now known as firmly leftist – Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco – there were decency laws. Some were targeted specifically towards those who identified as G, L, B, or T – in fact, it was illegal to knowingly run a bar or restaurant geared toward homosexuals. Men were not allowed to wear women’s clothing and women were not allowed to be too masculine. Laws for women were specific enough in some areas that in New York, for instance, a woman was required to wear at least three pieces of feminine clothing. Anyone caught in violation of public decency laws was subject to immediate arrest. Police harassment was commonplace. The First Amendment did not carry the same weight that it carries now; you were allowed to speak freely and express yourself, but if you ran afoul of the morality laws you no longer had those rights.

Nobody can accuse me of not knowing or understanding gay history.

Mafia crime families knew that clubs catering to gay patrons were cash cows waiting to be exploited, so they opened the first regular gay bars in Greenwich Village. They overcharged for drinks and watered down the booze, but they also paid off the police to make raids on their establishments less frequent. On June 28, 1969, four NYPD officers barged in to raid the club. Patrons began to refuse to produce IDs, so the officers decided everyone was going to jail. Male officers frisking lesbians all but sexually assaulted them. The few who were released assembled a crowd outside, even gathering passing pedestrians to witness what was going on. Finally, a lesbian being dragged out was beaten for complaining that she was uncomfortable – she called to the crowd that had gathered, at least 150 strong, to “do something!” They did. A mob of around 500 or so gravitated to the area within minutes and construction materials, particularly boards and bricks, ended up being used. Police officers had to barricade themselves inside the bar they’d raided to protect themselves. Rioters then tried to light the bar on fire, even tore a parking meter out of the ground to break the door down. Riots continued for at least five days, with multiple fires being set.

The riots were bound to happen, but Stonewall was too extreme. Much like the Black Panthers on the heels of Dr. King’s assassination, the Stonewall rioters did more to damage the cause of gay rights than they did justice. It is a good thing that gay rights organizations began to sprout nationwide, but what was the cost? Much of America began to fight back in subtler ways. It would be another thirty years before gay rights movements would be acceptable in any form. Decency laws are still on the books in some areas, merely being ignored because it’s too time-consuming for police to enforce them. Sodomy laws were already on the books in some states, but many – including my home state of Texas – enacted them in the years following Stonewall, not to be overturned for 40 years.

I explained that so I can explain this: I don’t think that a Supreme Court ruling striking down all state-level gay marriage bans or even DOMA is going to be a positive thing for gay rights. I think it would, yet again, set our cause back significantly.

The arguments being made by social conservatives about gay marriage right now are so ridiculous in many cases that I’m having a hard time keeping a straight face as I listen to them. The sanctity of marriage? Really? We have a divorce rate soaring well above 60% and they want to prattle about the sanctity of an institution that the overwhelming majority of our society abuses at an alarming rate? There’s the argument that gay couples cannot procreate. Out of curiosity, does anyone have the latest figures on married couples who either actively refuse to have children or simply can’t have children? Do we now expect all married couples to produce a child for their marriage to be valid? Yeah, I didn’t think so. My personal favorite so far is the argument that children being raised in gay homes are more prone to being ostracized – more simply, bullied. I’m sorry, but how is that my fault? Is it not YOUR prejudices that teach your children to treat other people that way? If you know your kid is being a jerk, it’s up to you to correct their behavior. It’s not my issue and I won’t be disrespected because you’re too prejudiced and lazy to do the right thing. Your religious misgivings about my sexual orientation do not deserve recognition in the law of the land any more than Sharia does.

At the same time, history has proven that gray areas like this (yes, it is a gray area, whether we like it or not – we can’t yet be classified as a race and subcultures do not count) draw intense backlash when the courts issue broad rulings too quickly. As evidence, I present Proposition 8. After the California State Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in the state, the backlash was swift and severe. Prop 8 gained popularity among far more than conservatives in the state. California voters gave Obama a resounding victory – the same people who voted for him also voted yes on Prop 8, making gay marriage illegal once again and proving that opposition to gay marriage crosses political ideologies and is not confined merely to the GOP. Why? Californians of all stripes and party affiliations were saying that the courts, comprised of judges who are not elected, are not the final authority on what the people are willing to accept. Enough liberals in California were not yet prepared to allow gay marriage that the half-hearted, snarky anti-Prop 8 campaign was doomed to failure.

And the gay left is still blaming conservatives. Forget looking inward to figure out how we can change our message, we want someone to blame.

Our society has come a hell of a long way since that late summer raid in 1969. Despite those leaps forward, the gay left is acting as if marriage equality is a life-and-death struggle. We’re not being persecuted by government agencies. We’re not being hounded by the police anymore. I’m not going to be tossed in the clink because I have short hair and my clothing couldn’t be remotely considered feminine. The argument has now turned from ending oppression to government-sanctioned happiness, and really, I don’t need the government to give me a blessing or any special privileges – I’d still love my girlfriend with wild abandon and not give a damn who sees me holding her hand or kissing her in public.

We need to learn that there is a time for all things. Not all forms of equality are going to happen overnight, and my greatest fear is that the Supreme Court would hand down a ruling that would throw the gates open for gay marriage just so society’s pendulum can begin to swing the other way and we’ll end up with hard-line social conservatives at the helm that will undo so much of what we’ve accomplished. It can happen. It has happened before. Now that the real struggle is over, we need to back off a little bit and work on winning hearts and minds.