Category Archives: Social Commentary

Stop Second-Guessing Sandra…

I’m done with the “well-meaning” American liberals who wonder why Sandra Bland‬ “argued” with the cops. It’s the second-cousin of questioning why she “wore that tight dress” or “drank too much” at that party (and the fact that some so-called feminists don’t see this point is its own condemnation and underscores the schism between black women and mainstream feminism). However, if you have never “argued” with a cop, it’s highly possible that a police officer has never intentionally provoked you. I don’t wonder why a battered spouse shoots her abusive husband. “Gee, shucks, my wife and I work out diaper duty in a rational manner. What got into her?”

It reminds me of the Richard Pryor routine, “Niggers vs. Police”:

“Cops put a hurtin’ on your ass, man. You know, they really degrade you. White folks don’t believe that shit, they don’t believe cops degrade. ‘Ah, come on, those beatings, those people are resisting arrest. I’m tired of this harassment of police officers.’ That’s ’cause the police live in your neighborhood, see, and you be knowin’ ’em as Officer Timpson. ’Hello, Officer Timpson, going bowling tonight? Yes, nice Pinto you have.’ Niggers don’t know them like that. See, white folks get a ticket, they pull over, ‘Hey, Officer, yes, glad to be of help, cheerio!’ A nigger got to be talkin’ ’bout, ’I am reaching into my pocket for my license! ’Cause I don’t wanna be no motherfucking accident!’”

Not much has changed since the year I was born (!). I recall as a kid when a cop forced my barely adult cousin to peel the window tinting from her car while she wept. But you know, at least she’s alive, right? When you advise blacks to not “argue” with cops because they are “edgy” and “who knows?” what might happen, you are conceding that they are not law enforcement officers but gangsters. When a member of Tony Soprano’s crew comes around for his protection money, I probably won’t give him lip. But he doesn’t claim to “protect and serve” and recognize any basic Constitutional rights. Just because you couldn’t hack with the Gambinos doesn’t mean you should put on a badge.

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Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Social Commentary


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More about that damn cake…

From US Weekly:

Candace Cameron Bure assumed a seat at The View’s co-host table for the Hot Topics segment on the Tuesday, July 7 episode, and things got typically heated. An ultra-conservative Christian, Cameron Bure couldn’t help but butt heads with co-host Raven-Symone one topic, which discussed an Oregon bakery’s decision to refuse service to a lesbian couple.

“The Oregon law bars businesses from discriminating against sexual orientation, race, disability, age or religion,” Symone argued, “and to me, it’s the same exact thing that they did back in the day saying that black people couldn’t do certain things because it’s my ‘religious belief.'”

Fuller House’s Cameron Bure, 39, quickly accused Symone, a fellow child star, of comparing apples to oranges. “I don’t think this is discrimination at all. This is about freedom of association,” she said. “It’s about constitutional rights. It’s about First Amendment rights. We do have the right to still choose who we associate with.”

Things might have changed since Ms.Bure attended Fake Law School, but the first amendment does not allow owners of “public accommodations” (this includes most businesses) to discriminate against people based on their race, color, religion, or national origin. Gays are not explicitly part of those protected groups but the existence of the groups in the first place would imply that there is a precedent for not allowing blatant discrimination by business owners.
(It could also be argued that if a business can’t discriminate against people because of their religion then a business owners shouldn’t be able to discriminate because of their religion. I know that’s an appeal to fairness, and I’m not sure how often that turns up in a sermon these days.)
Also, freedom of association is hardly a right you can apply to a job where you serve the public. Cab drivers (theoretically) cannot choose who they pick up and a coffee shop can’t choose who they overcharge for a latte. Again, I appeal perhaps pointlessly to the concept of fairness but what seems less “American”: A citizen being turned away from a business because of who he or she is, or a business owner or employee having to serve a meal to or rent a hotel room to someone whose sexuality, race, or religion they don’t like?
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Posted by on July 8, 2015 in Social Commentary


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But I do recommend San Diego other times of the year…

People are often surprised that I haven’t attended nor do I have any interest in attending Comic-Con. My response is that it’s hard to say what I dislike more: Crowds or waiting in line. (This also explains my aversion to theme parks.) The whole reason I started reading comics or, well, books of any type is because I’m asocial.

But if you’re into crowds and lines, here’s an overview of how to best manage Comic-Con. Meanwhile, I’ll be alone in a dark room somewhere (and thanks to the good folks at Kindle, I can now read in the dark).

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Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Social Commentary



Good Ole Nonsense…

TV Land has pulled repeats of The Dukes of Hazzard because the protagonists drive around in a car named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The General Lee also has the Confederate flag painted on it. In light of recent events, TV Land thought this was a bit much. It’s not necessarily a political statement. They also pulled repeats of The Cosby Show when allegations surfaced that Bill Cosby drugged and raped women. Although, that’s a little different, as Cosby didn’t commit these offensive acts on the show itself, but still TV Land is not The History Channel. In fact, The History Channel isn’t even The History Channel anymore. TV Land airs mindless TV shows that people put on in the background while making dinner. It’s not in the business of offending people.

However, this decision has offended fans of The Dukes of Hazzard, including its star John Schneider .

“The Dukes of Hazzard was and is no more a show seated in racism than Breaking Bad was a show seated in reality,” Schneider told the Hollywood Reporter.

He said the show’s residual royalties “have never been much to write home about,” and then he said more.

“I am saddened that one angry and misguided individual can cause one of the most beloved television shows in the history of the medium to suddenly be seen in this light,” Schneider said. “Are people who grew up watching the show now suddenly racists? Will they have to go through a detox and a 12-step program to kick their Dukes habit? ‘Hi … My name is John. I’m a Dukesoholic.’”

I should first point out that after 9/11, almost all images of the World Trade Center were removed from TV shows or movies that aired on cable. It is not an assault from the Thought Police but just an attempt at sensitivity.

Schneider also tweeted a link to a photo of alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof wearing a Gold’s Gym T-shirt. “Is the Golds Gym logo to be considered a symbol of racism as well now?” he asked.

Jeez. Look, a Gold Gym’s tee-shirt is not the symbol of racial oppression and the attempt to preserve slavery. This is like the people who say, “Well, the KKK wears sheets. Should I not sleep on sheets?”

“It amazes me that anyone could take offense to the General Lee,” Schneider said… “… If there was ever a non-racist family, it was the Dukes of Hazzard.”

I haven’t watched the show in a while, so I might not recall the episodes where the Duke brothers worked to desegregate Hazzard diners or let O.J. Simpson crash at their place when his car broke down on the way to Atlanta. However, most Southern black people aren’t in a rush to hang out with people who wave around the Confederate flag and name their cars after Confederate generals. In fairness, we probably never said anything, because you usually don’t want to engage in a heated political discussion with white guys who drive around in cars named after Confederate generals that have the “Rebel” flag on it.

Maybe that’s the problem. Southerners grow up hearing about the “Rebels” fighting the “Union” and just assume that the Civil War was like Star Wars. However, the Rebel Alliance wasn’t fighting to preserve slavery — not simply out of altruism but more practicality, as there was only the one black guy in the galaxy.

Schneider is not the only “Dukes” cast member to defend the show in recent days. In a Facebook post, Ben Jones — a former Democratic congressman from Georgia who played mechanic Cooter on the show and runs three“Hazzard”-themed museums — rallied round the flag.


Huh? The Confederate flag somehow represents “independence,” when the leaders not only wanted to preserve slavery but spread it further?  The Declaration of Independence details countless acts of British tyranny, from which the colonies wanted to free themselves. The primary grievance that led to Southern succession was the right to continue keeping people in bondage. And it’s not like Lincoln was elected and issued the Emancipation Proclamation at his inaugural. The South bolted simply because it feared what Lincoln might do.

Oh, well, I’m sure Mr. Jones can’t say anything dumber.


Huh, so black people inform you that your racist flag is racist, so you then double down behind faulty history as justification (you might as well claim that the Civil War started because Jefferson Davis wouldn’t chop down a cherry tree), and we’re the racists?

The sad thing is that many black kids and non-racist white kids loved The Dukes of Hazzard and dreamed of riding around in the General Lee. What was racist was that they weren’t taught history and were permitted to function in ignorance about the past. I loved the visual image of Captain America’s arch-enemy the Red Skull, but I knew enough history to know that the swastika on his costume wasn’t just a cool emblem. Fortunately, no American Jew or gentile grew up in a society where the crimes of the Nazis were so easily forgotten.

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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Social Commentary


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Airbnb Request…

If you post a rental on Airbnb, I strongly advise investing in a professional photographer to shoot your home. I can refer you to at least three I know personally. And before you complain about cost, you don’t have to hire the ghosts of Diane Arbus and Ansel Adams. Someone with the advanced skills of “steady hands” and “sight” would be an improvement to what I’ve seen lately: One guy decided to take his photos during a solar eclipse. It was so dark and claustrophobic, I think the previous occupants were David Sweat and Richard Matt. One lady couldn’t be bothered to keep her laundry basket out of the shot. That really helped seal the deal with potential renters: “Gee, I could be relaxing on that leather sofa… just like the basket filled with dirty clothes. And I could be on my fourth glass of wine… just like the owner when she took these photos.” The winner, so far, is the genius who took a shot of her over-decorated bathroom, and her reflection in the mirror wound up in the picture (based on her outfit, she did not plan this). You might remember her house from its appearance in Men in Black.

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Posted by on July 1, 2015 in Social Commentary


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The Failures of Integration…

This weekend, Confederate-flag supporters in Alabama  held an Irony Free Rally where people said the following with a straight face.

Standing at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps, where 50 years ago Martin Luther King Jr. led a march for civil rights, Tim Steadman said it wasn’t right to remove the flags.

“Right now, this past week with everything that is going on, I feel very much like the Jews must have felt in the very beginning of the Nazi Germany takeover,” he said. “I mean I do feel that way, like there is a concerted effort to wipe people like me out, to wipe out my heritage and to erase the truths of history.”

Mr. Steadman, I’m glad you recognize that the Nazis were the bad guys, based on your viewings of Indiana Jones films. And I suppose you never got around to reading statements Nazis made about the Jews and statements your Confederate heroes made about blacks, but do you really feel like the German Jews who were driven out of their homes, robbed of their property, and hid in attics before eventually being worked to death in concentration camps? Are you sure you don’t feel more like this lady?

Standing next to Steadman was Ronnie Simmons, who wore a t-shirt with the face of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Davis, who was elected as the first and only Confederate president inside the historic Alabama Senate chamber inside the Capitol in 1861, once lived a block away in the First White House of the Confederacy while Montgomery was briefly the capital.

Simmons said Bentley was a “scallywag,” referring to a term used in the years after the Civil War during the Reconstruction period to describe white southerners who collaborated with northerners.

“It’s alienating the white people in the state of Alabama when you take something down in a historic setting,” Simmons said. “If scallywag Bentley thinks he’s improved race relations in this state, he’s as crazy as a bed bug.”

There are Jefferson Davis t-shirts? I don’t think there are that many Jimmy Carter t-shirts in the South, and his eventual defeat was less ignominious.

Also, people still use the term “scallywag”? That usually only appears in the scripts of movies set in the South that were written by someone whose only exposure to the region was reruns of Dukes of Hazzard.

Sherry Butler Clayton said the flag is a way to honor her relatives tied to the Confederacy.

“I have many, many ancestors,” she said. “A lot of them are in unknown graves up North where they died on the battlefield. A lot of them came back maimed. And it’s just a way. I don’t hate anyone. I love all people. My daughter-in-law is black and I love her and I love her family. So it’s not a black white issue. It’s a heritage issue.”

This is what I call the complete failure of integration. A black person can marry into a white family, and her in-laws can claim to love her and her family (quite the perk, it’s like the racist version of adding your relatives to your cell phone plan), but that doesn’t change their views on issues that affect the black pet… excuse me, the black daughter-in-law.

One woman held a sign that said “Southern Lives Matter,” a variation of the “Black Lives Matter” phrase that became a rallying call after the shootings of unarmed black men in multiple states.

Well, when you put it that way, it doesn’t seem so racist… no, wait, it does. These people seem to forget that they don’t live in Maine or Vermont. They live in a region with a significant black population. The South is not just Scarlett O’Hara. It’s also Martin Luther King. We were chased from our homes by white terrorists shortly after the war. But it won’t happen again.

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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Social Commentary


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How Times Change… or Not…

I worked weekends at a grocery store in Greenville, S.C. back in 1991 when this issue of People came out with Clarence Thomas  and his wife Virginia. Lot of good Christian, Confederate-flag waving customers were horrified that People would sink so low to put an interracial couple on the cover. “Bible says what it says.” “Races were meant to be separate.” “Thank God they don’t have children.” And these were his *supporters* — they were glad he’d been confirmed. It wasn’t anything personal, mind you, it was just their religious beliefs.

So it goes.


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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in Social Commentary


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Cops: The Reality Show…

After the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, there’s been talk about police officer wearing cameras. It seems like a reasonable idea but as I recall, the Rodney King beating was videotaped and Tarantino could have filmed the Amadou Diallo shooting for all the good it would’ve done.

Fifteen years later, it’s still hard to imagine what Diallo could have done to stay alive. He ran from officers in street clothes at almost 1 a.m. He raised his hands but held up his wallet (something you might do if you think you’re being mugged). During the shooting, one of the officers tripped backyard, which made them think he was shot so they continued shooting Diallo, so.. oops, I guess.

I would have done everything Diallo did. I thought so in 1999 and I still think so. Plain-clothes officers stopping someone on the street late at night seems perilous. Should I really trust someone saying, “Stop! Police!” if they’re not in a uniform? And it’s too dark to see if their badge wasn’t retrieved from a one-armed bandit? Running away is what any reasonable person, especially a woman alone, would have done. The officers stopped Diallo because he “fit the profile” of a serial rapist in the area. I’m sure I also fit that profile at the time.

Fear is the one emotion black men are not allowed. Both in this case, the Sean Bell shooting in 2006, and Trayvon Martin’s killing in 2012, the idea that the dead black male might have been scared for his life is never considered. What only matters is how afraid they made their shooters.

So, film all you want, but until that changes, I doubt anything else will.

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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Social Commentary


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More Gun Deaths…

The Utah shooting is yet another in the number of routine killings in the U.S. these days. Gun advocates tell us these incidents are rare, which is why they receive media attention, and we slowly become accustomed to a climate of sweltering violence, to the point that many take up arms in fear of that violence spreading to them. Swell.

(The shooter) is reported to have sent a series of unanswered text messages to Mackenzie Madden before he kicked down the door of her apartment two blocks from Utah State University shortly after midnight.

He then fired an assault rifle multiple times at Madden and a 25-year-old man, both people he knew, police said.

Madden, 19, was a sociology major at the university in Logan, a city of about 48,000 people 80 miles north of Salt Lake City. Officers responding to 911 calls found her and Johnathon Jacob Sadler dead inside the unit.

Let’s not also ignore the misogyny at the root of this specific act of violence. Men in this country are raised to believe they are entitled to the female body, and their ease of access is how they measure their self-worth. They then rage at the unfortunate women who have “diminished” them, denied them their Y-chromosome-given rights, by daring to say “no.”

The word “no” should not end in death but too often it does. And it has to stop.


Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Social Commentary


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Another entry in the “not an Onion article” series:

Jeremiah Heaton was playing with his daughter in their Abingdon, Va., home last winter when she asked whether she could be a real princess.

Heaton, a father of three who works in the mining industry, didn’t want to make any false promises to Emily, then 6, who was “big on being a princess.” But he still said yes.

“As a parent you sometimes go down paths you never thought you would,” Heaton said.

Within months, Heaton was journeying through the desolate southern stretches of Egypt and into an unclaimed 800-square-mile patch of arid desert. There, on June 16 — Emily’s seventh birthday — he planted a blue flag with four stars and a crown on a rocky hill. The area, a sandy expanse sitting along the Sudanese border, morphed from what locals call Bir Tawil into what Heaton and his family call the “Kingdom of North Sudan.”

Kee-rist. When your goofy, spoiled kid asks if she can be a princess, a sane person should say, “No.” She is a citizen of a country that has no monarchy. Why is that fantasy still acceptable after all the trouble your ancestors went through to fight a revolution, make hypocritical statements about democracy, and displace the indigenous population? I guess tea and taxes are the only things Americans won’t forgive.

Why not go all out and marry her off, without her consultation, to the in-bred future ruler of some other country as an act of diplomacy? That’s what being a princess was all about, after all.

And, young men of the future, whatever you do, no matter how initially tempted, do not under any circumstance date a woman whose father made her a “real” princess when she was a seven. She will never let that go, and she will never carry her own luggage or shopping bags, or take out garbage or even comprehend the concept of waste products. Move on. Find a nice serf. Those wenches know how to party.

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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Social Commentary