GRAND OLD PHOBIA

Uniting the bigots

Those who believe in God, know that he/she/it doesn’t make mistakes. To be a card-carrying member of the “god club,” one must believe the omnipresent deity is perfect and that he/she/it made ALL PEOPLE, everyone, no exceptions.

In my local paper there is an article about Florida Republicans uniting around a notion that Trans and Gay Americans are unmistakably a second-class group that must be controlled, and eventually eliminated. You might think those last three words are a bit much, but if you put it to many voters, they would tell you that boys who become girls, in their minds and bodies, must be stopped from using the restroom of their chosen gender and blocked from competing in any sport where they could have an advantage over females. I have not heard anyone say that a woman who transitions to a man should be barred from competing in male sports, but hey, this is fresh territory for many people and perhaps it’s only a matter of time.

I once had a business partner who announced to the world he was suffering from gender dysphoria and desired a transition to his true persona. Jay became Jaye as she started the process of becoming a woman. At first, I was confused and needed to learn more about this concept and discovered it has existed throughout history. It’s not some sort of aberrant modern misalignment.

Jamie Farr

Many of us laughed at Sergeant Klinger, Jamie Farr’s character in the TV show M*A*S*H who wore women’s clothing. The reason he dressed as a lady wasn’t a desire to be a transvestite, but rather a desperate attempt to get out of military service. It was funny… until it wasn’t. According to many sources, Jamie Farr chose to gradually phase out Klinger’s recurring joke of wearing women’s clothes because he didn’t want his children, who were young at the time, being teased about it while growing up. In a sense, the actor and producers decided the gag was no longer funny.

On my long and winding road of becoming a man, I worked at a theater during my college years. What I experienced there provided a profound education, not only in entertainment but also people. Some actors got so deeply into their character during a production that they “became” that imaginary person. Once the show was over, these folks reverted to their true selves.

During my time in the theater, I interfaced with a considerable number of gay men and learned that, contrary to popular Republican beliefs, one doesn’t “become” Gay or Trans simply by being around people of those persuasions. In fact, the use of the term “persuasion” is a trick. It connotes that one is under the influence of a conversion scheme and once that drunken moment passes the person will magically return to “themself.” Should this myth surprise anyone? Homophobes work lies into truth at every turn.

One doesn’t “become convinced” to become Gay or Trans. It’s a process of discovering themself along life’s path and then feeling better when admitting to themselves who they are. If one cannot be honest with themself, then they are living a lie.

RuPaul

Words matter, so let me insert some definitions here. A transvestite is a person who dresses in clothes primarily associated with the other sex, usually a man who feels comfortable in women’s clothing and style. According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, a person experiencing Gender dysphoria has “a sense of unease because of what they perceive to be a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. This sense of unease or dissatisfaction may be so intense it can lead to depression and anxiety and have a harmful impact on daily life.” These two may appear to be the same to small-minded people, but they are not.

As our children develop, we adults can either be helpful and encouraging or we can attempt to impose our views, values and vistas on them. Some parents groom their kids to become what they want, rather than allowing their children to find their own ways into happiness. I had a high school buddy whose parents demanded he go into the priesthood. When he saw no way out of his pre-ordained path, he made one. He committed suicide. That has nothing to do with sexual orientation but makes the point that too much parental pressure is not good.

Why would the governor of a state of 22 million people create a law that, in a sense, transforms LGBTQ kids into second class citizens? Is he so politically ambitious that he is willing to put his foot on the necks of thousands of kids trying to find their ways through life? The so-called, “Don’t say Gay” bill screams to every one of these kids they are not equal to others and won’t be empowered in any way. Everything Ron DeSantis does is a quest to quench his thirst for power. He is against women deciding what they should do with their bodies, against Black kids learning about their history and against Gay children feeling comfortable in themselves. He’s even against Disney, one of the largest employers in his state. Obviously, he’s fucking goofy.

Exploitation is not a pretty word. The action of treating someone unfairly to benefit from their work, culture or status was a hallmark of slavery. I find it embarrassing that here in 2023 we have a two-bit politician belittling, demonizing and, in a sense, terrorizing young people. When someone is just learning about who they might be we need to help them, not summon the neighborhood bully to beat the shit out them.

The GOP is using children as steppingstones to their power grab. Ron DeSantis is clearly homophobic and perhaps a little conveniently racist, but he claims to be a true “man of God.” Actually, he’s just another money changer working outside the temple with the sole interest of “changing” the location of wealth from your pockets to his. He wants to be the master, and we all must obey, or get the 39 lashes. Ask Disney if Ron DeSantis truly cares about children and their dreams. He’s not uniting all the people, only the bigots.

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WHY? WHY? WHY?

The death of diversity and equality

George Orwell finished authoring his classic novel 1984 in the year 1948. Orwell was a British writer who composed lucid prose with a tinge of social criticism, professing strong opposition to totalitarianism while supporting democratic socialism. In the grand scheme of things, he was the man with a bright lantern showing us the future. In his book Animal Farm, Orwell pointed out, “The animals conspire to take control of their farm from humans, establishing ‘Animalist’ commandments to prevent the reproduction of the oppressive behavior of humans.”

There you have a not-so-subtle slash at the dictators, demigods and douche bags with narcissistic personality disorders. They desire to control those they believe are “less superior,” viewing them as sinners, seditionists and suckers. If you just believe what they believe and give them the power to manipulate things their way, life will be much better… for them.

Florida is the frontline of the culture wars because there are no checks and balances on the power of one man, the governor. This will surely spread, and there are those who will conspire to take control of their farms, their schools and their cultures and create a great crevasse between those who agree and those who pray to the god of critical thinking and logic.

I had the pleasure of watching the Netflix movie The Wonder, a story about a small village in Ireland that bought into the myth of a young girl being the vehicle of a higher power because she didn’t have to eat. The city leaders, doctors and priests thought this was good for their community and could put the small town on the map. A nurse visiting from London observed the girl to determine the truth. With all the town folk captivated by the illusion, the nurse broke the news to the men who ran the small town that their little angel was only human and must eat to stay alive. The metaphor from this movie is clear; men, religion, power and misguided beliefs of the parents were more important than facts and safety. In this case, a young girl’s life was at stake.

I was struck by one person’s statement in the Florida school board wars, “The schoolboard doesn’t own the kids, the parents do.” Oh really, mothers and fathers “own” their kids? Well, morally, ethically and legally, parents don’t own their kids. Caretakers have a responsibility to keep those kids safe, I get that, but their power stops at the first step of the Constitution.

In the 1969 landmark case, Tinker v. Des Moines, on students’ rights to free speech in public schools, the Supreme Court ruled (7 to 2) that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” So, the idea that a schoolboard can stop any student from expressing themselves goes against the ruling and spirit of free speech. As a student I should be able to declare my personal gender, discuss matters of diversity and equality and doubt whatever so-called “fact” is thrown in their face regardless of whether I am gay, straight, or trans. It’s called education, not indoctrination.

When the far-right claims being around someone different from themselves will somehow force them to adopt that different person’s personal persuasion, they demonstrate a lack of understanding of the power of the human mind. People do only what they want, and even if they are told what they are doing may harm themselves or others, they often continue. Think about all the public service announcements stressing how smoking increases the chance for cancer, yet people keep smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.8 million Americans still smoke cigarettes while 480,000 folks die each year from ailments and diseases caused by cigarettes and smoking. Some of these smokers scream at school board meetings about how the teachers are grooming their kids, while their children are ingesting second hand smoke every day at home. Even worse, some kids will be inspired to adopt their parent’s harmful addiction.

Bridget Ziegler from TheDreamWindow.com

Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Brenda Ziegler as the Chairperson of the Sarasota School Board to rid that body of anyone who disagreed with his draconian laws, policies and prejudices. DeSantis is clearly homophobic, and the equally tainted chairperson was quoted as saying, “homosexuality is evil.” Now on the board, she claims “…there was a toxic culture within the School Board.” Ziegler underscored the unwillingness of some members to respect those with opposing views, but when the chairperson allows a speaker to harass the one member of the board who is openly gay, her lack of regulating hate speech in the chamber is allowing that “toxic culture” to grow. BRENDA ZIEGLER is the problem.

On March 15th of this year, I picked up my daily local paper and read the headline, “Bill prohibits diversity, equality and inclusion on campuses.” I wondered if the headline was an Onion comedy bit, asking myself, “Jeez, what country am I living in?” Shortly after that, one of the most liberal state funded universities fired all the people who worked in their diversity office. In the myopic view of Chief Justice Roberts, we don’t need a law to protect the voting rights of minorities and the disenfranchised, yet the white, mostly male rulers of the land have decided they will control a woman’s body and they will control the speech of students and teachers. Instead of promoting freedom they are prohibiting it.

Ron DeSantis is not the only problem in America. There are at least a dozen ideologs in state governors’ offices who are attempting to roll out restrictions for gays and trans people, while not so secretly censoring the rights of African Americans by banning books and thwarting discussions of slavery and the civil war. When they say they are protecting the feelings of the students, they are really saying, “we need to make sure white students are not burdened with the guilt that comes out of slavery.” REALLY?

This just in from the Washington Post, “Transgender Americans experience stigma and systemic inequality in many aspects of their lives, including education, work and health-care access, a wide-ranging Washington Post-KFF poll finds.” So, it’s only the “normal” kids who get rights. The animals on the farm want to dehumanize the herd.

Donald Trump may have given people the courage to be bigots and total assholes in public, but it’s time to stop the wannabes and dolts who think the Trump playbook is necessary for a more perfect union. They are wrong.

And now, the Governor and the cult in the Florida legislature want to make the “Don’t say Gay” law apply from kindergarten through senior year. If a teacher discusses gender or being gay with their students they can be criminally prosecuted. The fire has been started but the firemen and women are not answering the alarm bell. They are ignoring a danger which has a serious potential to melt our freedoms away. And I have to ask, “Why? Why? Why?”

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The story follows two American tattoo detectives who are sent on a mission that changes them and their world. This dystopic look at the United States and the flaw in humankind is not a Pollyanna prognostication, it’s fundamentally close to our current reality and could be predictive of where we are headed. The opening chapter says it best, “…we could have done something, but we fell madly in love with technology, weapons and wealth.”  For purchase or dowload, go here. Check out our author page on Amazon.


FLORIDA’S “DON’T SAY GAY” LAW

A sub-class created by fiat and dogma

When a new law is proposed, I put it through a three-pronged test to see if it makes sense. First, is this act or bill good for the majority of those who live within the jurisdiction? Second, is the intent of the proposal something different that what’s on the surface? Finally, if signed into law will the proposal hurt any one person or class of individuals?

That brings us to Florida House Bill 1557, which State Governor Ron DeSantis has now signed into law. When reporters asked about this so-called, “Don’t Say Gay” law, DeSantis snapped at them asking if they’ve read the bill. Notice that he takes this afront personally by constantly reminding that the new law does not disallow use of the word “gay,” but let’s get back to those three tests.

This bill is cloaked in an invalid paranoia that parents have lost their rights over their children. There is a stack of specific federal and state laws that clearly detail what parents can and cannot do with their minor children. I’m a retiree living in the state of Florida. I don’t have kids in the school system, but I do pay taxes for its operation, and I see no possible good that can come from this law. And let’s be clear, these are mandates in a state where over the past two years Ron DeSantis’ whiny mouth kept telling us how mandates are bad. The man even sold “Don’t Fauci Florida” T-shirts to fatten his campaign treasure chest.

Florida’s Governor seems to be against everything the federal government stipulates, but sees no problem imposing his personal viewpoints, beliefs and values on the state’s citizens. This is tantamount to the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” laws instituted by the military years ago, which have now been erased by the common acceptance of various sexual orientations among human beings. What is the true purpose of this law? How does it help the majority of Floridians?

When I put it under the microscope of reason and logic, I see this new law isn’t about kids at all, and it’s even less empowering for their parents. It’s a power grab by the panhandlers in the northern part of the state and Tallahassee to give MORE POWER to the State’s Commissioner of Education, who seems to be totally controlled by the Governor instead of the people. By giving the Commissioner the right “to appoint a special magistrate for unresolved concerns,” DeSantis has crafted a way to dilute a parent’s legal authority to protect their kids.

Should you have any doubt about the meaning of this new law, the following is an excerpt. Read on… The Special Magistrate is an attorney and member of the Florida Bar who is appointed by the state to preside over code enforcement matters. The special magistrate shall have all the authority and powers set forth in this part or in F.S. § 162.08, which states, this special magistrate will,

(1) Adopt rules for the conduct of its hearings.

(2) Subpoena alleged violators and witnesses to its hearings. Subpoenas may be served by the sheriff of the county or police department of the municipality.

(3) Subpoena evidence to its hearings.

(4) Take testimony under oath.

(5) Issue orders having the force of law to command whatever steps are necessary to bring a violation into compliance.

So, the state has just taken away the rights of parents and any and all LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS to guide their children and handed the parents and the kids over to a state appointed attorney, who might have no children. How is this reasonable or good? BTW, many states already had this procedure in place, but were those states studied?

When questioned about why something is positive for the community and challenged by what he claims is the far left “woke movement,” Ron DeSantis typically ends the discussion with, “I don’t care what they think!” This guy truly doesn’t care and bluntly says so. He sees any opinion or concern that doesn’t align with his as WRONG.

Does this new law hurt anyone? Florida’s HB 1557 has codified a broad class of people, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered, with a biased brush stroke that now makes it against the law for any educator, teacher, parent or student to discuss their sexual orientations. Think about that. This hurts human beings in general. Remember that a gay child or a child’s gay parents are human beings, not a sub-class. Sadly, I am not sure the government of Florida, with its gerrymandered Republican and white majority of powerbrokers, really cares about hurting people. Their focus is having power, keeping that power, and imposing their values and dogma on everyone else. There is no compromise or comprehension with people they consider beneath them.

DeSantis’ exposes his shame by pushing back so hard when someone suggests it’s a “Don’t say Gay” law. This educated politician knows deep down inside this law is wrong, and he hates when anyone calls it out for what it is. The true test of lanugae is to ask, if you discuss the state of mind of being “gay” is that okay? Ron DeSantis insists the law isn’t “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, but the language “prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specific manner…” So, it’s now a crime in the state of Florida to say GAY, because that word, as well as lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism, are off the table. It’s true the law is limited to parents and educators of kids in K through third grade, but the door is open just wide enough to allow the commissioner and his or her magistrate to bust anyone discussing “sexual orientation.”

I hate to be a pedantic and “woke” truthteller, but this is a poorly written law and DeSantis, who claims to be a brilliant lawyer, should have seen that from the start. I am a straight, male, heterosexual, but, now in the state of Florida, you cannot talk about my orientation. Yes, one cannot have a discussion in Florida classrooms about men and woman who get married and have babies. You dumb bastards have used general language to keep this law on the right side of Jesus, while eliminating YOUR SIDE. I hope the potential court challenges against this new law go forward. Should the law’s proponents attempt to “improve” it by using discriminatory and specific language, they will truly find themselves on the wrong side of the law and history.

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