Why I’m not a “feminist”

September 18, 2012

As a woman and former Missouri resident, the remarks of Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., last month about pregnancies resulting from rape made me cringe and outraged at the same time.

HOWEVER, if you’ll refer to my previous blog post about freedom of speech, you’ll note that, while I disagreed with (read: loathed) the factually incorrect and ignorant sentiment, I didn’t post an opinion about it because 1) he’s entitled to his (wrong) opinion and 2) it’s a fad issue.

But here’s the deal: I’m also Catholic. And I’m also pro-life.

While it’s baffling to think that a white, male legislator claims to understand how women’s bodies work better than, well, a woman, he and other pro-life legislators still have far more legitimate arguments about the actual issue he was discussing. And as a woman, I tend to agree with him.

I can’t believe I’m about to defend Todd Akin.

Anyway, I found this blog post on the Interwebs yesterday. In it, a staunchly liberal, pro-choice woman in Missouri attended a speech given by Akin. In the speech, he elaborated on how he believed that government shouldn’t have the right or the ability to deprive people of their freedom. The woman who wrote the post agreed, and said this includes depriving women their freedom to choose what’s right for themselves.

Then this happened.

A woman in the audience asked:

“You mentioned that you don’t like when we’re divided, because we’re all Americans. And I actually agree with how you said that but I really feel like you’re sending a mixed message because I feel like, when it applies to women, we do divide. It’s not about freedom because you have voted to deprive women of the right to choose about their bodies and about their health concerns and the things that they can do. So I feel like when you say it’s about freedom and unity, it seems like you’re kind of forgetting about your policies and how that alienates women and deprives them of their freedom. So how do you reconcile that?”

Akin answered:

“And that is a question, isn’t it, about abortion. And it’s a question, is it a person or not? If it’s not a person, then you’re not allowing a medical procedure would be taking your freedom with it. But if it is a person, then you are certainly taking someone’s freedom, the freedom of life from the child.”

The woman continued:

“You still have to acknowledge the fact that you are, in turn, depriving women of their freedom at the same time. I feel like if you say that it’s life at conception, that it trumps the freedom that you are depriving women, and I feel like you need to answer to that.”

Um…

This woman has answered her own question and subverted her own argument in the same damn sentence. If we’re arguing based on the claim that life starts at conception, then it’s really no longer an issue of personal freedom. The test of true freedom is whether it interferes with someone else’s. So if we’re going to argue based on the claim that the baby growing inside a woman’s womb is a person (and I strongly believe it is), then your “freedom” to choose whether it gets to live or die is no longer a freedom. In much the same way, I sometimes wish I had the “freedom” to run over stupid pedestrians with my car. But that’s not really a freedom. You know why? BECAUSE IT’S MANSLAUGHTER.

And that’s what the pro-life/pro-choice debate boils down to: whether you believe that the baby inside the womb is a person. Because if you did believe that it is a person, there’s no way you could possibly justify the “freedom” to decide whether it lives or dies.

This is the huge, raging problem I have with feminism and calling myself a feminist. The minute I mention that I believe a baby is a baby, inside the womb or out of it, I’m considered anti-choice and anti-rights and anti-equality. AU CONTRAIRE, FEMINAZIS. I happen to be very pro-rights because believe it or not, the PERSON growing inside of you deserves to have them, too.

So if you tell me that the little baby growing inside your womb is not a person, then fine. The argument you are using to justify your claim of personal freedom has a more sound grounding in logic. But don’t be surprised if I vehemently disagree with you.

UPDATE

Found this article by pro-life feminist Liz Hoskings a couple of hours after I posted this blog entry. In it, Hoskings talks about how pro-life feminists have been alienated by a movement that generally prides itself on acceptance because they disagree on the issue of abortion.

She also says that the abortion issue is not only divisive among feminists, abortion can also be seen as another tool of male oppression.

“From the ‘pro-life’ feminist viewpoint, mainstream feminism has sold out to what is a masculine worldview. Instead of fighting for equality on their own terms, women have been forced into adapting themselves to a wombless, male world.”

I haven’t thought much about this argument, but it’s an interesting one. I’ll have to examine it further.

Hoskings also invokes the names of mother suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, my ultimate heroes.

Susan B. Anthony, the pioneer of American feminism, viewed abortion as infanticide, a view shared by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a number of her prominent contemporaries, who looked on abortion not as being liberating, but as a tool of male oppression. As Stanton put it, when women had been treated for so long as property, it was degrading that they should treat their children as chattel. These pioneers viewed abortion as the ultimate exploitation of women, and yet were compassionate towards those who resorted to it, and reserved their scorn for those men who had used and abandoned them.

So much love for this woman. So. Much. Love.

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Why so serious?

September 16, 2012

I’ve noticed an odd and dangerous trend sweeping social media lately, and I want to talk about it here.

When I come home for the day, my cat often gives me this very serious expression, like she’s judging me for something. I think most cats have this ability, but Bast’s eyes have a natural slope downward toward her nose, so she usually looks angry or consternated.

In an attempt at humorous commentary about my cat, I posted this as my Facebook status:

“I’m really getting tired of coming home to my cat judging me for my poor life choices.”

Obviously this is a joke. I don’t really have any regrets in my life. When I examine the path that had led me to where I am and the choices I’ve made thus far, I’m proud. I’m college-educated, and I have a job doing something I love. This job allows me to live in a nice apartment and not starve. It also allows me to have fun on the weekends. I live within my means. I go to Mass every week as dictated by my Catholic faith. I give back to charity. I volunteer when I have the time. I call my mother every evening. I don’t do drugs and I don’t drink to excess (very often, anyway). The only thing in my life I could really consider a vice is my smoking habit, but even that pales in comparison to everything else in my life I do right.

In short, I’m a good person, and I have a good life I’m thankful for because of God’s grace and also because I’ve made good life decisions. So it stands to reason that my friends who know me well enough to know how I live my life would recognize my status as a joke. PLUS, I cats don’t judge people. Or at least I don’t think so.

But one of my Facebook friends commented,

“so stop making poor life choices….”

Thinking that he knew it was a joke, I replied,

“MY CAT ALREADY JUDGES ME, [Facebook friend], I DON’T NEED YOU CHIMING IN.”

But apparently he didn’t realize the status was a joke because he answered,

“Im not judging you, if you’re going to put it out there for anyone to read then expect comments. If you aren’t happy with choices/decisions you make, fix it. It’s your llife and you control it.”

All I could do was shake my head and sigh.

As I’ve already pointed out, I have a good life as a result of my good decisions. So yes, condescending Facebook friend, I know I control my life. And I know how to control it. In all seriousness, I don’t need you trying to tell me with your well-meaning but patronizing platitudes about self-empowerment.

Not to mention, I very rarely ever post anything serious on Facebook. Most of my statuses (Stati? I really need to figure that out) are about funny events or witty commentary about my life. Case in point: my last Facebook status was,

“Too much pressure and I’m nervous!”

This, obviously, is a lyric from “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus. I was hanging out at a karaoke bar with some friends and we made two of our macho, cowboy-hat-wearing soldier friends sing it for us. I thought it was hilarious, so I posted it.

So I explained to my friend that the status was just a joke. And he said,

“lol ive gotten used to people taking fb verrry seriously.”

I’m sure this is true, but this is what annoys and saddens me. Whyyy do people take social media so seriously? I know potential employers check social media before hiring people nowadays, but that doesn’t mean you have to automatically stay away from content that shows wit or character. In fact, I doubt that my Facebook status about my cat would have raised any eyebrows in any potential employer.

Not to mention, if I really WAS making poor life choices, why the hell would I post about it on Facebook? Why in the world would I make that shit public for my entire friends list to see? For example, say I was a drug addict. Would I post statuses(i) or pictures about the huge amounts of coke I’m about to snort? No! You know why? BECAUSE THAT’S IDIOTIC.

I also don’t post inspirational quotes or song lyrics (because they mostly come off as cheesy). And I avoid posting anything political because it invites a bunch of uninformed and ridiculous commentary.

The problem as I see it is that people are getting way to fucking personal on Facebook nowadays. Leave your problems off of your status because you come across looking like a needy asshole or someone who doesn’t have your shit together. And let’s face it: if you’re putting your shit on Facebook for the whole world to see, you probably don’t have your shit together in the first place. I mean, if you were going through some crazy break up with your significant other or if your family was driving you crazy, would you tell random strangers about your problems? No.

Sigh. Maybe my inner-hipster is just really annoyed by the fact that my Facebook friend didn’t understand my hilarious irony.


2012 Election: Rant No. 1

September 4, 2012

So remember how I warned all y’all that there were going to be more rants about voting as elections come ever closer?

Brace yourselves.

<rant>

I hate, hate, HATE how my generation seems so ignorant and unmotivated about elections! And as most of my blog readers know, I also hate the use of exclamation points, but I had to use one to close the last sentence because there’s really no other punctuation mark that accurately expresses my total, utter loathing and disdain for people — especially young people — who refuse to vote.

And maybe it’s just because I represent the tiniest fraction of people who happen to be hyper-informed about most everything. News quite literally is my life, and political news is my specialty. I am plugged into the 2012 election practically 24/7. I’m two weeks away from turning Politico into my homepage.

I understand to some degree that people can’t afford to be as informed as I am. I acknowledge that there are people out there who have lives that do not revolve around campaigns, press releases and proposed legislation. I get that.

But I also have to argue that it is SO DANG EASY to stay even marginally informed nowadays. It wasn’t like in the past when the public’s only access to election information was one hour every night on the television, or when it came in the form of a newspaper delivered every morning. With the Internet, people can stay on top of the election just as well as I can. And just learning the basic facts about any given candidate is too easy. With information as accessible and affordable as it is now, there really is no excuse for anyone not to stay informed about the elections in their area.

The advent of this rant comes from a conversation I had with a friend from back home. I told her that I had been focusing on a lot of election coverage at work lately, since the election day is 10 weeks away. Her reply was:

“I’m not registered to vote.”

I almost popped a vein, I was so angry. And I was angry for several reasons:

  1. She’s my age
  2. She’s my friend
  3. She’s a woman
  4. She lives in Texas

Admittedly, on the surface these reasons make no sense whatsoever. So let me explain them.

She’s my age, which is obviously old enough to vote. But not only that, she was old enough to vote in the last presidential election in 2008. WHICH MEANS SHE WASN’T EVEN REGISTERED TO VOTE FOR WHAT WAS PROBABLY THE MOST EXCITING AND HYPED UP ELECTION OF OUR GENERATION. I mean, seriously! The 2008 election happened while we were both in college, so even though I voted for the guy who lost, I still got swept up in all of the excitement and hopeful rhetoric. AND SHE DIDN’T EVEN VOTE IN IT. I’m retroactively pissed.

Second of all, she’s MY friend. She knows I’m a political reporter. She knows I’ve been a political nerd since fucking high school. She knows how passionately I believe in democracy and elections. And most importantly, she’s heard me rant about all of the above more than once.

Third of all, she’s a woman. SHE’S A WOMAN. Do you know how hard our founding mothers fought for suffrage? Real role models like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton picketed, marched, lobbied, rallied and even got arrested just to give women the chance to vote. They fought long and hard so that their sisters and their daughters could have the chance to make their voices heard. And their sacrifice is just taken for granted nowadays. My friend doesn’t properly appreciate what it took to give her the opportunity to vote. She just throws away that opportunity like it’s a fucking nuisance.

Fourth of all, she lives in Texas. This is the last year before senior republican senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison retires. That means her seat is up for grabs next year. The race is between Democrat Paul Sadler and Republican Ted Cruz. But here’s the catch: Ted Cruz is a Tea Party Republican, meaning he’s on the far right extreme. My friend gets to vote in one of the most contentious Senate races of 2012 and she doesn’t even appreciate the importance of it. And how can she when she purposely chooses to remain uninformed?

And to further add to my anguish and ire, I saw another friend of mine post this as his Facebook status the other day:

“[friend’s name] has noticed a tangible sense of excitement in the air from many people regarding something called an “election season.” He appreciates and shares that enthusiasm, but how are so many people misspelling “football” so badly?”

I almost flipped my shit. And by “my shit,” I actually mean the desk that my computer was sitting on. I wanted to throw everything within arm’s reach.

And perhaps I’m blinded by my own ignorance of what really matters to people my age. Maybe I’m just too close-minded to try and understand their wants and needs, what drives their decision-making impulses.

BUT HERE’S THE THING.

The elections that my peers have such cavalier disdain and apathy for decide our entire fucking livelihoods. Take the 2010 mid-term elections as an example. The American people practically overthrew their congress and elected handfuls of Tea Party candidates to the House of Representatives. Since then, our Congress has:

  1. Played an incredibly detrimental game of Chicken over the debt ceiling which resulted in America’s credit downgrade and the loss of millions of jobs
  2. Enacted the rule of sequestration, which would automatically cut $500 billion in defense spending by January 2013; If sequestration cannot be stopped, military installations all over the United States would GREATLY diminish in size, and there’s no telling what would happen to the communities surrounding them
  3. Earned a collective disapproval rating that has remained below national record since 1974

And this is just our federal legislators. What a lot of people also fail to recognize is that our local legislators have MUCH more power and influence over our daily lives than our federal legislators. Our local legislators decide the state of our roads, how much we’ll pay in taxes in any given fiscal year, and they get to decide how to spend the tax revenue. These are decisions that directly affect us, and yet no one seems to give a flying fuck.

So I posted this on my Twitter account the other day, in response to my ignorant friend and to express my general frustration with such a disinterested electorate:

“There’s no telling what this country could accomplish if people were half as excited about election season as they are about football season.”

I whole-heartedly believe this. America is special in the fact that, of all the many democracies in the world, we consistently have the lowest voter turnout. How can we possibly call ourselves the greatest nation in the world when our own electorate doesn’t even give a shit about how it’s run?

We have a unique opportunity to have a say in who leads us, and there have been men and women who have died in the fight for these opportunities.

Don’t allow your ignorance to waste their sacrifice.

</rant>


Military disenfranchisement

August 25, 2012

Ahh…election season.

With the 2012 presidential election just around the corner, politicians everywhere are beginning to bombard their constituents with increasingly negative — and downright wrong — campaign ads. They all hope to convince the undecided and uncommitted electorate that voting for the other side would bring about the apocalypse, and the only way to preserve American life as we know it is to vote for Mitt Romney, a true American, or to vote for Barack Obama, because he’ll keep us from going to back to the Dark Ages.

Whatever. Since I don’t live in a contentious swing state, nor do I own a television or pay for cable, I don’t see them everywhere. I find them amusing more than annoying.

But instead of finding new ways to piss off the American public, what the politicians really SHOULD be doing is making sure that every citizen can make it out to the polls. And that includes a voting bloc generally overlooked by both the public and politicians alike.

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend this morning about soldier’s voting rights, and I decided to take to the blogosphere to post more thoughts about the subject. (To the friend this is referencing: You had to have seen this coming.)

As I’ve established on this blog previously, I am an election nut. So like those horribly negative campaign ads, expect more rants/posts about voting and modern disenfranchisement as November approaches.

Living in such close proximity to a military installation has trained me to keep my eyes and ears open to issues especially sensitive to soldiers and their families. One of these issues is the continued disenfranchisement of our boys in uniform.

It’s not a too much of a problem for soldiers who are at home. They’re subject to the same voting procedures as everyone else. The problem is for soldiers who are deployed overseas. These soldiers have to abide by absentee voting procedures, and absentee voting procedures are generally just a clusterfuck of awful, made ten billion times worse by the fact that every damn state has a different procedure.

Here are the problems:

  1. Much like the U.S. Census (which is another issue), soldiers’ votes are counted toward their home of record. Not where they actually live. This makes it difficult because, as I’ve said before, voting procedures are different in every single state. So a single unit deployed to Afghanistan is subject to potentially 50 different absentee ballot procedures.
  2. In order to get their hands on an absentee ballot, soldiers have to request them. Do you really think these soldiers (who are already preoccupied with their survival) are going to remember to request a ballot? Why aren’t we making sure we send enough absentee ballots WITH them when they deploy?
  3. When soldiers finally get the ballots, there’s no effective way to get them back home. So they usually come back late.
  4. There are no effective ways to keep our soldiers informed of issues while their overseas. They have spotty access to the news and, once again, they’re preoccupied with their survival. Voting is usually the last thing on their mind.

My friend pointed out that an easy (and frankly obvious) solution to the absentee voting procedure would be to let the U.S. Department of Defense govern soldiers voting overseas. With modern technology and the Internet, it’s ten million times easier today than it was twenty years ago.

But the problem with this is it would LITERALLY take an act of Congress. And as we all know, they can’t get anything right.

This is just one of the myriad problems with our voting laws, but I think it’s probably one of the more important and pressing problems. These men and women risk their lives everyday to protect our freedoms. The least we could do is make it easier for them to have a say in who their own commander-in-chief will be.


Aspirations of a military reporter

August 21, 2012

This post is dedicated to a reader who’s in for a long day. He says my blog posts make him laugh and think at the same time, so I hope this cheers him up and comforts him at the same time.

So with that said…

I never used to care much about the military.

I was a supremely unathletic girl growing up in the suburbs of north Texas. I liked stay ing inside and reading during recess. I liked glitter and unicorns. I liked writing more than I liked playing sports. So the idea of people torturing themselves on purpose and learning how to shoot guns disinterested me.

I probably should have cared more. My maternal grandfather was an officer in the Philippine Air Force. He signed up to fight in WWII when he was just 14 years old. My paternal grandfather was an officer of the Philippine Army, and he survived the Bataan Death March. My family has a storied military past, and I was raised to respect it. But I never gave the military much thought.

Then I came here. I was lured by the promise of a government reporting position, only to learn after moving that I would also have to be a military affairs reporter. All of a sudden, I could no longer afford not to care about the Army. It was my responsibility to give a shit about our uniformed personnel.

What I didn’t expect was that it would be so easy to care.

In my short tenure as the military affairs reporter, I’ve shed my armor of apathy and developed a deep, abiding appreciation and respect for the Army. I’ve met families and friends of people who risked it all. I’ve heard tales of valor, bravery and courage that I never believed was possible. I’ve been in the presence of some of the Army’s most brilliant leaders. I’ve listened to speeches that made me laugh and cry at the same time.

This past week was a celebration of the local Army division’s anniversary, and one of the command sergeant majors decided to hang up his fatigues after a 37-year-long career. CIA Director and retired general David Petraeus came for the ceremony to speak about his dear friend and how proud he was to have served with him.

I cried during the ceremony. And so did nearly everyone in the audience.

I no longer don’t care. I care a lot.

Which is why I want to embed.

For those of you who don’t know, units of the U.S. Army takes journalists with them when they deploy. It’s a way for the media to see how the United States is fighting the war while also protecting the civilian journalists. They call it embedding. Three units of the division here have begun deploying to Afghanistan, and I hope to go with them by the beginning of next year.

I haven’t even gotten approval from our publisher yet, and I don’t know if I will. Even if I do, I know it will be a long and difficult process because everyone knows bureaucracies are pains in the ass. But I’m excited for the stories I’ll be able to tell, the things I’ll get to see and the people I’ll get to meet.

However, the problem with embedding is it’s almost treated like a curse word among journalists. Some of the sharpest, most brilliant minds in my industry look upon the practice with disdain. They say it’s nothing but a way for the Army to perpetuate its propaganda machine. They say the Army is using the media to portray only the stories they want told. They say not much real war reporting can be done using a U.S. soldier as your shield.

That all may be true. I wouldn’t know. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to be a war correspondent. I want to be a military reporter. I am a military reporter.

The truth of the matter is I work for a community newspaper. We write and report stories that are meaningful to the community. Our community just happens to have a disproportionate amount of soldiers. And if a large percentage of the population in our community spends nine months out of the year getting shot at overseas, then it’s worth a look.

I don’t want to write about Middle East politics, because quite frankly I don’t know a thing about them. And I’m sure there are a lot of Afghanis who have amazing stories just waiting to be told by some intrepid, fearless reporter who works for a national paper of record, not a community paper.

Afghanistan is not my community and the Afghan population is not a part my coverage area.

The Army is my community, and the soldiers living in Afghanistan is a part of my coverage area. And there are stories to be told overseas, stories that a great deal of children, wives, mothers and fathers care a lot about and have a stake in.

I hope that makes sense.


Unwanted networking

August 11, 2012

August.

August means three months ’til election. Ninety days left for desperate politicians to vy for the affections and votes of undetermined or disinterested voters. In the political realm, this means crunch time.

This particular week was a good one for U.S. congressmen and women because the congressional session ended two weeks ago, which gives pretty much every representative in the U.S. House time to go back to their districts and kiss up to voters.

Our representative for this district was particularly hard at work. I don’t know why, since he’s been in office about as long as I’ve been alive and the guy running against him is…well, let’s just say he’d never make it in Washington. Ever.

Anyway, so our representative has been campaigning pretty hard. He made three appearances in our coverage area this week alone. In fact, I saw him so much I felt like I was stalking him.

One of the appearances he made was at this minority business conference. He gave some opening remarks, then he split the minute it was over because he had to drive to the next county over to speak at their rotary club.

The congressman was scheduled to speak at 9 a.m. I got there super early because the press release said he’d be there an hour earlier. Whatever. That wasn’t what bugged me.

What bugged me was one of the conference-goers who thought I was a fellow conference-goer.

From the minute I spotted him, I knew he thought he was hot shit. He was dressed in this really tacky, khaki suit with a deep blue shirt that didn’t match at all. He was kind of a squat man with a well-groomed, but dated mustache. And he wore this self-satisfied grin, like he knew all the tips and tricks for making it in this world and he wanted to share them with everyone.

He zeroed in on me the minute he walked into the room. I, having no reason to formally suspect him of being a gigantic asshat, grinned and shook his hand when he offered it. It was clear from the beginning of this conversation that he thought I was a conference-goer, just like him. So I introduced myself as a reporter right off the bat.

“I’m with the local newspaper. I’m covering this event, I’m not attending it.”

He still kept smiling at me and nodded. “OK. Well let me give you my card.”

For the record: I didn’t want his fucking card. I wasn’t looking to network with anyone at this thing because 1) I’m not a business owner and 2) I WASN’T ATTENDING THE EVENT, I WAS COVERING IT. But whatever. It’s just a card.

Then he went on to brag about how he was a journalist, too. He’s a “blogger” and he writes about news and entertainment, blah blah blah.

First of all, I haven’t really ranted about how I feel about bloggers calling themselves journalists yet (because that probably deserves a book by itself), but in a nutshell: I don’t consider bloggers journalists.

Second of all, he was being a condescending douche about it. Granted, he was probably twice my age, but that didn’t mean that he was a better “journalist” than I was. I told him I was there to talk to the congressman, and he replied that he wanted to talk to him as well.

Well the congressman made his remarks, then he split the minute he was finished. I ran out to catch him and ask a couple of questions before he could go, and the blogger guy followed me. We waited while the congressman took care of some business in the conference hall offices, and the douchey blogger regaled me with more tales of his own awesomeness.

“My business has taken me all over the world. I’ve talked to all different kinds of people,” he said.

Oh, really? “That’s cool,” I responded.

“Have you ever considered radio or television news?”

I’d rather gouge my eyes out. “No, I haven’t.”

“Hmm. Well you should. You have the voice and you have the look. And it’s been my experience that when you know more, you get better jobs. People will be more willing to hire you if you know a lot about different mediums.”

OK, first of all, the plural of “medium” is “media.” That’s why we’re called THE MEDIA.

Second of all, WHAT THE HELL. Do I look like I need your help? I already found a job, thank you very much! And yeah, I don’t plan on staying here forever, but I think I know what it takes to get hired in this business. I want to THE best school of journalism in the world. I studied under numerous Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, and I worked alongside some of the best reporters and editors of my generation. I’m perfectly capable of understanding what it takes to compete in my chosen profession. Thank you.

But it didn’t stop there. Oh, no. When the congressman finally came back out to answer our questions, Bloggy von Doucher graciously allowed me to ask my questions first. So I immediately pounced.

“Mr. Congressman, why did you decide to make an appearance at the Minority Business Conference today?”

[Insert trite platitudes about encouraging small business owners who happen to be minorities here.]

“Mr. Congressman, one of the speakers mentioned an interesting statistic. He said that soon the minority population would overtake the white population. What did you make of that?”

[Insert more drivel about how awesome and diverse America is.]

“Mr. Congressman, the same speaker also mentioned that without immigration, America would actually experience a population decline, and that instead of closing our borders, we should be opening them. What do you think about that?”

[Insert meaningless talk about how illegal immigration is a problem, and we value diversity, we just wish people would immigrate legally.]

“Mr. Congressman, the same speaker also mentioned that government should invest in businesses by entering into contracts with them. He offered the example of IBM supplying the government with computers. How do you feel about that assertion?”

[Insert more talk about how government should invest in businesses, but by deregulating and limiting barriers to entry.]

I chose this line of questioning specifically because the congressman is a Republican, and the speaker who came after him brought up a lot of points typically held as platforms by the Democratic Party. So I thought his answers would be more interesting than they were. I should have known better than to expect a Washington Republican seeking reelection to provide interesting answers.

Well when I was finished with my questions, the douchetastic blogger chimed in with his questions.

“Mr. Congressman, how do you propose helping minority business owners?”

[Insert typical answer about deregulation here.]

“Mr. Congressman, why is it important to invest in minority businesses?”

[Insert another typical answer about creating new jobs to get out of the recession.]

“Thank you so much, Mr. Congressman,” we both said when he finished answering our questions. Then we shook his hand and he took his assistant and aid back to the car to go wherever they needed to go next.

When he was gone, Senor Asshat smirked at me and said, “Nice job, little lady.”

Ugh, I wanted to punch him in the face. His two questions were the most basic questions any beginner reporter could have asked and he was looking at me like I was the rookie.

After I left the conference, he sent me an email saying we should keep in touch and that I should check out his blog. Needless to say, I deleted that shit before I read through the whole thing.


Why moderates hate this Chick-Fil-A debacle

August 2, 2012

Apparently not.

As a general rule, I don’t post my opinions about fad issues. I consider fad issues as subjects that have a shortened news life: no longer than a week at most. If they last longer than a week, it’s because pundits and extremists force the topic long after the general public has forgotten it.

So I don’t bother forming opinions or even writing about fad issues because their relevancies don’t last long enough for me to care. Not to mention, they usually have no bearing on anything of immediate or even long-term importance.

But in the case of this whole Chick-Fil-A debacle — I just can’t. I can’t not write about this. It’s just pissing me off so much that I have to say something to relieve my frustration.

For those of you who don’t know, CEO of Chick-Fil-A Dan Cathy made some remarks about gay marriage. Cathy subscribes to the “traditional” views of marriage, and defines it as a holy union between one man and one woman. He went further.

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

Cathy’s opinions aren’t news. He’s always presented himself and Chick-Fil-A as a Christian company. It’s also not news that he’s donated huge sums of money to political advocacy groups dedicated to lobbying politicians to fight for “traditional” marriage.

Regardless of the fact that none of this is any surprise to anyone, Cathy’s remarks sparked a huge public relations clusterfuck for his company. The gay community pretty much immediately started boycotting the restaurants, and other companies and even government officials joined in. Most notably, the Jim Henson Company decided to cut off business ties with Chick-Fil-A, and the mayors of Chicago and Boston condemned Cathy for his remarks.

As you can imagine, Christian groups were outraged at the LGBT community’s outrage and formed a counterstrike to the boycott. Mike Huckabee dubbed today “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day,” where Christians and Chick-Fil-A supporters alike were encouraged to eat at the restaurant to support Christian values, freedom of speech, freedom of business practices, blah blah blah.

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I vehemently disagree with Cathy and mainstream Christianity. Love is LOVE. The oft-quoted-to-the-point-of-cliche verse of 1 Corinthians 13 begins with “Love is patient. Love is kind.”

I just cannot believe that love in any form, whether it be platonic love between friends or romantic love between partners, could ever be considered wrong. If God is love, then God is in all relationships. And yes, I fully believe that God is in relationships between two men or two women. And if God has a strong presence in the relationship between two men or two women, then I fully believe that they should commit themselves to one another.

So now that we’ve gotten my personal beliefs out of the way, let me go on to say this: We live in AMERICA. We have a FIRST AMENDMENT. And since Cathy is an American citizen, he is allowed to say WHATEVER THE FUCK HE WANTS. Even if I think he’s a big, stupid bigot who probably should have kept his mouth shut in the first place, he didn’t. And he’s allowed. He’s allowed to have his bigot opinions and he’s allowed to voice them as loudly and as stupidly as he wants.

Because here’s the thing: Our Founding Fathers didn’t throw the First Amendment in there to protect the speech that everyone agrees on. They threw the First Amendment in there to protect the minority. The problem with being ruled by a winner-take-all democracy is that 51 percent of the public can overrule the other 49 percent because of that measly, 1 percent difference. To prevent the dissenting minority from being swept up in the “tyranny of the masses,” the Founding Fathers threw in the First Amendment to allow the minority some sort of reprieve.

And here’s another point: Cathy’s free speech isn’t infringing on YOUR right to disagree with him. As far as I can tell, the boycott is going just fine, and the Internet has exploded with people condemning him and his company, if my Twitter and Facebook accounts are any indication.

Now, I personally will no longer eat there because I don’t want the money I spend at Chick-Fil-A to be funneled into political action groups whose sole purposes are to prevent gay couples from getting married. And if you feel the same way, then I applaud you. We’re on the same side, sister suffragette. But that’s a PERSONAL decision. Don’t turn my decision to avoid Chick-Fil-A into some sort of huge, political statement because it’s not.

Also, you don’t get the right to make other people feel like assholes just because they don’t want to boycott Chick-Fil-A. You don’t get to use a fucking FAST FOOD RESTAURANT as some sort of symbol for gay rights. That’s not how this works. What goes in a stupid Chick-Fil-A sandwich? Bread, chicken and a damn pickle. You don’t get to turn that into some sort of symbol for bigotry and hate. It’s not the same as someone saying “faggot.” You don’t get to equate it as such.

That argument swings both ways, too. Conservatives and Christians, you don’t get to turn Chick-Fil-A into a symbol of freedom and Jesus. It’s not a crucifix, it’s not a bible, and it’s not the Bill of Rights. It’s a fucking SANDWICH. I can make one at home for myself, and it wouldn’t mean a damn thing to anyone else but me.

The fact that this fad issue has turned into a symbol of intolerance for one side and a symbol of freedom for the other just pisses me off. It’s issues like these that rile up the extremists on BOTH sides to the point of infuriation, and exasperate the people, like me, who straddle the line.

Bottom line: Quit trying to make people feel like assholes for eating or not eating a sandwich. IT’S A SANDWICH.

Ugh…I hate this. I hate this so fucking much. I hate that this is an issue, I hate that this is in the news, and I hate that people are talking about this. I hate that I’M fucking talking about this. And I absolutely HATE that I had to defend Dan Cathy.