Monday, April 30, 2012

Scrape Goatin'

Ancient societies often chose an animal to burden all of their sins upon, all of the grievances of that society, the wrongs they have done. They would symbolically load their guilt onto a goat or a sheep as a valve to untie themselves from their own blunders, miscues, crimes. All their societal evil.

We still practice this. In my city, fans of the dreadful Northside baseball team have literally blamed a goat for the last hundred years of championship drought.

Severed goat head hung from Harry Caray statue at Wrigley Field
"Severed goat head hung from Harry Carey Statue at Wrigley Field", by  guano via Flickr
(This is the goat who, according to myth, was denied a seat at the 1945 Championship game. The man to the right cursed the Cubs and that's been more powerful than years and tears and reverse curses, apparently)

One year last decade the Chicago Cubs got awfully close, but choked under pressure. Being the team of choice of yuppies and douchebags they couldn't deal with the ensuing existential angst, so they blamed a goofy looking dude wearing a walkman and a baseball cap. Steve Bartman.

Despite the fact that his reaching out for a ball - while everybody else in the stands was also reaching for that ball - cost the Cubs an easy out, Bartman's not to blame for what followed afterwards. Which is to say, the Cubs, with a comfortable lead in the series, sucked. And lost. And haven't recovered and boo-hoo-hoo. Despite the fact that Bartman was just another goofy Cubs fan doing what goofy Cubs fans do - looking for souvenirs and saint relics wherever they may be found - the Cubs' general ineptitude and suckiness was placed solely upon his shoulders; it became his cross to bear. And many were all-too-eager to place him on it.

I'm not sure if he ever suffered physically, but there were threats, and there was plenty of reputation-marring. Cubs fans, being the douchebags that they are, don't care about others' feelings or lives (remember, they're also yuppies), so they were free to get carried away, placing all of their frustrations on Bartman's back. He became the sacrifice guy.*

But scapegoats aren't always so naive, goofy, or innocent. In some cases, they can be guilty of the crimes they are being accused of, with the added bonus that in punishing the scapegoats, we are trying to free ourselves of our own guilt for our collective crimes - but without actually ever resolving the crimes themselves.

Take Charles Graner and Lynddie England and the 320th Military Police Battalion at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Americans were shocked when we learned of and certainly when we saw the horrible, debasing, degrading, and lethal human rights abuses of prisoners and alleged terrorists at this and other prisons. The people who committed the acts of torture were punished, but those who led them to those acts in the first place and sanctioned them went off scot-free. By this, I don't just mean the Dark Sith Lord VP Cheney. I do mean him, but I also mean to extend the nets.

I mean those of us that were so set for vengeance that we cleared the way for the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars in the first place. I mean Republicans and Democrats. I mean the blood-thirsty news watchers. I mean myself, at the time, hungry to retaliate, to see not only blood-for-blood, but a hundred times as much if not more.

While guilty of disgusting and atrocious national and international crimes against humanity and humankind themselves, Graner and England were fall guys for both the military-industrial complex that drives on fear and debasement and racism and xenophobia, but also for an American society that runs on those fears and allows us to serve our most base, our most disgusting, our most heinous selves with the slightest push.

The very-public punishment of the 320th did not eradicate this from ourselves, but it did make us feel better about ourselves - even as we continue our wars against Third World nations, Muslims, Arabs (and now Iranians) - even within the US.

This shouldn't be a complete shocker to those who have studied our legacies of the Trail of Tears, Slavery, Japanese Internment Camps, Tuskegee, Jim Crow Laws, or the New Jim Crow. But then, we like to pretend that we've evolved past racism, which brings us to our next point.

This year has witnessed a new guilty scapegoat, George Zimmerman. The difference is tremendous, of course. Nobody died when Bartman reached his gloves out, but someone did when Zimmerman pulled out his gun.

What I've noticed from the right shortly after Trayvon Martin's death was hand-wringing followed by a lot of, "Well, let's not rush to judgment" statements. I thought these were overkill. The point is that there was no judgment. That's why we were and are so angry. That a murder had happened, a white man had gone free and a black, unarmed youth had been hunted down and killed. It was a little late to say, "Let's not rush to judgment."

Beyond, of course, the alleged (and close-to-home) hate crimes allegedly committed by black youth to older white men, the ignorant and destructive address-publishing, and posturing by silly hate groups like the New Black Panther Party and the Whiteheads of Tallahassee, or whatever they're called, beyond the Who-Struck-Who-First/Who Screamed/How Bloody Was Zimmerman? arguments, beyond the calls for Zimmerman's head on a platter when he was released on bail (Seriously? Do you have any idea how much danger he was in while locked up? Is that what fellow progressives want, revenge? I don't think so and I hope not), we should recognize that something's happening here and we may not know what it is.**

What Zimmerman did was awful and evil and bloody and ignorant and reckless. And it ended a life that he most likely hunted under the false pretense of protecting his own. This is no stupid game of stupid baseball. But it captured our national attention because it was symbolic of a much larger, much more systemic evil. There are millions of Trayvon Martins in our country right now, young men and women relegated to the outskirts of acceptability, an overzealous wannabe (or real) cop's trigger pull away from breath, bordering on the fists of fury and lethal energy simply because laws and policies have made their existence inconvenient as a way to make life as convenient for the White Upper Class Male Higherarchy (TM) as possible.

They want us to fight over the whether or not we could possibly qualify the second amendment, without considering that they've already vastly curtailed our first and fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth amendment rights. They want us to ignore that incarceration rates for black males are seven times the incarceration rates for white males, while Latino males are incarcerated 2.5 times as highly.

Those numbers are largely indicative not of crime innate to each race (that's racist thinking along the lines of The Bell Curve and David Duke, but it's unspoken among perhaps a majority of white Americans), but of wider systemic sins of violence and racial oppression against people of color as a means of class oppression, turning white brother against black sister to distract us from the work of the upper 0.1% who control and hoard the vast wealth of the land and leave the rest of us to fight over the scraps. With bloody consequences.

Whether or not he's convicted of it, Zimmerman is guilty of recklessly and needlessly ending the life of a young black man for the mere fact that this young man was a black male and therefore deemed a threat. And yes, I hope we find justice. But justice is different from revenge. Justice causes us to seek out the problems, the wrongs, the immoralities, the sins of our entire society and correct them. Not just push them off on someone else and edge her toward the crevice or hang him on a tree in order to continue to believe that we live in a post-racial, color-blind society. Because we don't.

We're gonna have to ask, In what ways are we actively allowing the deaths of thousands of Trayvon Martins every year? The answers may surprise us...

*See what I did there? Huh?
**Bob Dylan's birth name? Robert Zimmerman. See what I did there?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Repentance and the Rich

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
- Mark 10:20-25 (NIV)

The story of the Rich Young Ruler is one of the premiere examples of repentance for Evangelicals. We stress a change in lifestyle as a requisite for truly following Jesus, for truly loving God, for truly being welcome into the Kingdom of God.

But they'll usually put an asterisk around this story.

Evangelical preachers tend to say, "Jesus didn't mean that you should really give up all your wealth." "There's nothing wrong with being rich." "Wealth can be a false god, but only if..."

Money Money Money

This is a means of ignoring much of the rest of the text, as well as the socio-cultural context. Jesus and most of his people were poor. They did not own land. They lived on it. They worked on it. But for others, always owing them. Always in danger of debtor's prison. That's the socio-cultural-economic situation that Jesus and much of his crowd found themselves in. But others lived among the better off, and they wanted to be have their cake and eat it too - in a sort of Marie Antoinette way. Pharisees, scribes, tax collectors, they wanted to either follow Jesus or have some of what he had. Some of them, like Levi/Matthew, gave it all away and made good on their promises to follow God rather than follow money. Wealth, they understand, isn't just a possible god, it is a god.

I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight."

I'm noticing a few things here.

One) Typically when this passage, the parable of the harsh landowner, is preached, the emphasis is on the talents as being gifts or money that doesn't belong to the person possessing it, but ultimately belongs to God. While this has an element of theological truth to it, it puts the handling of the property as a private affair between the property holder and God. But Jesus says to use it to "gain friends". And he says here - like he did to the Rich Young Ruler, give it away so you may be welcomed into the Kingdom. Not manage it. Give it away to earn friends.

Two) "True riches" is distinct here from "worldly wealth". Why is that? I propose that he's talking about the Coming Age, the Kingdom that his hearers were expecting, the eschalon. To the landed, those who thought that their property belonged to them, he says it doesn't - it belongs to someone else, they won't receive actual riches until the Next Age, if they do at all.

Three) That someone else are the neighbors. The poor, those with disabilities, the outcasts, the working man, the hungry child, the nursing mother, the woman forced into prostitution. The property doesn't really belong to the rich young ruler. It belongs to the community, via God. You're just watching over it.

Four) We must choose between two gods. Jesus' God and the god of wealth are at odds with each other. If, Jesus makes clear here, you love wealth/mammon/riches, then you hate God. It's that simple. There is very little room for capitalism in God's Kingdom, according to Jesus. He, in fact, doesn't seem to think very highly of the systems that concentrate wealth. Especially at the expense of the poor.

Five) This wasn't the first or only time the gospels show Jesus contrasting God with wealth. Meditate on what the darkness and evil is in this passage in Matthew 6.

Six) Notice who was tsk-tsking Jesus here? "Oh, that's not really what you mean, is it? That's so simple. You're being a communist, Jesus. How can you reward laziness and punish success?" Yeah, the Pharisees. But at least they were honest about their disdain for Jesus. Now, they proclaim the Name of Jesus, but they don't care for his message. But they are similar in that they both justify their evil in the sight of others.

Seven) This wealth hoarding is detestable to God. Why? Because it's stealing from God by stealing from the community - from the poor, which Jesus was, and from the outcasts, whom Jesus actively worked to include into full community participation (which, oddly, many Christians still seem to actively oppose).

With all that, and with so much more biblical evidence (for example) against greed and envy (it's not what you think), you'd think that Evangelicals would be the first in line to protest tax cuts for the rich at the cost of food for poor children.
House Republicans recently proposed cuts to nutrition assistance that will kick 280,000 low-income children off automatic enrollment in the Free School Lunch and Breakfast Program. Those same kids and 1.5 million other people will also lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamp benefits) that help them afford food at home.
Ten years’ worth of these nutrition cuts could be prevented for the price of one year of tax cuts on 3,340 multimillion dollar estates that House Republicans are protecting in their budget.

Yeah, so Christians have to decide which god they're going to follow. And then repent.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Daddy Warbangs and Mars

Prominent Evangelical and figurehead within the Southern Baptist Convention, Richard Land has recently protested against protesting against militant racism. In a sense, it shouldn't have been such a surprise, since several years ago he came out for other acts of violent racism and militantism in supporting the Iraqi War as being "Just".

As head of the SBC's panel on Ethics and Religion, Land gave his sanctioning and blessing to the most obvious case of an unjust war in recent memory:
How do you reflect on the war as a Christian?
I believe in just-war theory, and the first item in just-war criteria is that it has to be a just cause. I believe our cause in Iraq was just; I think it was one of the more noble things we've done. We went to liberate a country that was in the grip of a terrible dictator who had perpetrated horrible atrocities and crimes against humanity, against his own people, as well as his neighbors...
The idea of American exceptionalism is not a doctrine of empire, it's not a doctrine of domination, it's a doctrine of responsibility and obligation. We have a responsibility and an obligation based upon the blessings that have been showered upon us as a nation and as a people to help others when we can.

While highlighting the atrocities of Hussein, he ignores the atrocities his own government committed on the entire populace of Iraq. But it's apparently okay for Americans to murder - we have a moral obligation from god (as we know based upon his financial blessings upon us), so bombing a few (quarter million at the least directly died from military action, mostly civilians) and displacing millions more is worth it to deliver American-style democracy to the grateful and expectant.

Of course, that good ol' American-style democracy is best when bloodily forced upon the people - not when they do it themselves, or speak up or demand their own fates on their own. They can't possibly be smart and civil enough for that. They are, after all, an inferior people, right Richard Land?

You're welcome, Iraq! And for that privilege, we just expect a little payment, a moment of generosity for our hard work on your behalf. We'll just take some of your oil. Thanks!

Brown people, according to the Christian War Patriarchs, can't fend for themselves 'cuz they're like little children. Better let the White Man do it. This is why Land was so upset when all this noise was happening on behalf of Trayvon Martin. Stop making a fuss; Let the White Man take care of this issue on our time. Just trust us.

But the Christian War Patriarchy is nothing if not resourceful. Not only is it abundantly racist, it's also overwhelmingly sexist. Not only is it defending and upholding war, it's glorifying it in church, making it the normative process of worshiping our new god, Mars.

[Unidentified soldier in Union corporal's uniform holding Colt revolver to chest] (LOC)
A Pastor After God's Own Heart!

Equating love of God with having a hard-on for war are apparently also essential elements of Sunday morning worship (via iMonk). Douglas Wilson starts with the presuppositions (like his colleagues in homophobia and patriarchialism, Mark Driscoll and John Piper) that contemporary American churches are effeminate and that being inadequately testosterone-run is bad. Rather than suggest that both female and male voices need to be listened to, appreciated and welcomed within the church (well, it is a gender Apartheid after all), rather than suggesting that women would feel most appreciated if they were actually included in the decisions and leadership and direction of the church, Wilson believes they would be best if they would just let the Man decide.
[I]t includes them, brings them along, and makes them feel safe. If you reach the men, you will reach the women.

'149/365 Damsel In Distress  (+2)' photo (c) 2012, martinak15 - license:

Those women-folk will appreciate it if we tell them what they need to hear. They'll be safe if only men, and men alone, were running the show. Little girls can't fend for themselves! Better let the menfolk handle this! Gird yourselves, men, we are preparing for war! And if she disagrees with this aspect of seeking for god and being protected, well she wasn't worth our attention in the first place. Only hot, confused, scared girls for the True Christian Church!
Moreover, you will find yourself reaching the worthiest of women, the true mothers in Israel.
Oh, I'm terribly sorry. Folks, we've been reaching the wrong kind of women. The kind that apparently, aren't worthy of the love of Jesus and our good protection. Being subversive and having an opinion automatically disqualifies the ladyfolks. As if having ladybits wasn't bad enough, when you have a vagina AND you talk out of turn, you're clearly unworthy.

But you know you're going to a sissy-ass church when...
2. Your music minister is more concerned that the choir trills their r's correctly than that they fill the sanctuary with loud sounds of battle.
Yeah. Real men, the type of men who subdue and subjugate women like property or little children or animals or something else they obviously don't respect protect their womens, are the type who love them so much that they're willing to kill unnecessarily for them. They love their women so much, that it's impossible to imagine anything else but killing and maybe even being kilt - I mean, of course, silly me, kilts.
7. The minister wears a robe, but the effect is not that of being robed for battle. If that same minister were to wear a kilt, everybody would think it was a skirt from a nearby all-girls private school. But, contrariwise, if the minister were able to wear a kilt in such a way as to terrify sinners with the imagined sound of skirling bagpipes, and the sounds of a small version of Armageddon across the misty moors, and the sermon text were a claymore whistling over their heads, then that kind of man could think about a robe if he wanted;
Wearing a robe is girly and femminy and queer. If you're going to wear a robe, it should be made out of leather and be in camouflage, or it should be an homage to Braveheart, the most Jesus-y of all the godly movies every made.

Trust us, it is. Don't worry about why. That should be obvious, silly girls...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Two-Tiered Fight

Like I said the other day, the GOP is acting so abysmally, they're gonna make this man right here personally knock on doors for the Democrats. In Chicago. Progressives in Chicago - let alone those of us to the left of progressives - don't tend to trust Democrats. We've seen enough of the Daleys, the Emanuels, the Berrios...

Yeah. Many of these Republican leaders are that bad. Really, really horrible people. I'm not saying this as a political thing. I'm not saying this to volley shots in the game of presidential year politics. I'm saying this because what they are doing affects negatively the lives of millions upon millions of people already living on the edges in American society. The most vulnerable are daily offered as sacrifices for their head-games.

It's just. Not. Funny.

Their main man is a vulture capitalist who made his multi-millions buying companies, pushing them into bankruptcy, laying off their workers, having the government bail out their pensions (for millions of dollars), and cheating the workers out of severance packages before netting hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for their investments.

Other leaders, like Eric "#2" Cantor are following a formula of F+(sUckers)(2) as evidenced by this clip:
CANTOR: We also know that over 45 percent of the people in this country don’t pay income taxes at all, and we have to question whether that’s fair. And should we broaden the base in a way that we can lower the rates for everybody that pays taxes. [...]
KARL: Just wondering, what do you do about that? Are you saying we need to have a tax increase on the 45 percent who right now pay no federal income tax?
CANTOR: I’m saying that, just in a macro way of looking at it, you’ve got to discuss that issue. … How do you deal with a shrinking pie and number of people and entities that support the operations of government, and how do you go about continuing to milk them more, if that’s what some want to do, but preserve their ability to provide the growth engine? … I’ve never believed that you go raise taxes on those that have been successful that are paying in, taking away from them, so that you just hand out and give to someone else.

Nevermind that these 45% - if they make any income at all - already pay a much larger percentage of their income (income that they can not really afford to give away when they are on the verge of losing their homes or barely eating) into payroll taxes than the Romneys or Cantors. As long as Cantor can continue to pretend that these scum-of-the-earth types are living off the fat of the land while the virtuous super-rich (like Romney, who paid a whopping 12% of his income back to Federal Income Taxes last year) are sacrificed on W2 crosses.

And then there's the War Against Women. Consecutive attacks against the rights, bodies, wages, and health care of women - some under the pretense of pro-life (though rarely ever thoughtfully pro-life), but many others are deliberately and purposefully and blatantly anti-woman.

Here are some highlights of anti-woman legislation from a list compiled by a friend*:

Attacks from the GOP's War on Women

  1. Republicans not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't yet. No bueno.
  2. A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."
  3. In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)
  4. Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.
  5. In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.
  6. Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.
  7.  And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.
  8. Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.
  9. Congress just voted for a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.
  10.  Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can't make this stuff up).
  11. Reauthorization for the Violence Against Women Act is currently being debated in the Senate. In January of 2012, it passed through the Senate judiciary committee. Every Democrat on the committee voted yea, while every Republican voted nay. The act was to be extended to give protection to same sex couples as well as women on Indian Reservations.
  12. Wisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman (R) said "unwanted or mistimed" pregnancies are the “choice of the women” who should learn "that this is a mistake." Grothman recently introduced Senate Bill 507, which would formally consider single parenthood a contributing factor to child abuse if passed into law.
  13. The sweeping anti-abortion bill working its way through the Kansas legislature would levy a sales tax on women seeking abortions, including rape victims. Under the proposal, women who end up receiving abortions would not be able to deduct the cost of the abortion as a health care expense if they had not purchased special abortion insurance. Last year, Kansas enacted a law removing abortion coverage from health insurance plans in general. Women can purchase a special rider to cover the procedure in advance of a pregnancy.
  14. Idaho GOP Lawmaker Suggests Women Use Rape As Excuse For Abortions
  15. Arizona Senate Passes Bill Protecting Doctors Who Withhold Information In Order To Prevent Abortions The Arizona Senate passed a bill Tuesday that will prohibit medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors who withhold information from a woman that could cause her to have an abortion.
  16. Nebraska Republicans Aim To Pass Freedom Of Conscience Clause That Targets Women’s Health Nebraska Republicans have made it a priority to pass a freedom of conscience clause that would allow doctors to refuse to perform procedures they object to such as abortions and just about any other procedure they have a religious, ethical, or moral objection to.
  17. Arizona Senate Committee Endorses ‘Tell Your Boss Why You’re On The Pill’ Bill Arizona has taken up yet another draconian law for women’s health – this time replicating but broadening the federal push to let employers deny women access to birth control. The bill stipulates that, unless a woman brings in a note proving she is not using it to avoid getting pregnant, an employer .
  18. Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania Governor, On Ultrasound Mandate: Just 'Close Your Eyes' During a discussion of a far-reaching mandatory ultrasound bill, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) on Wednesday dismissed off-handedly the insinuation that the measure goes too far, saying, "You just have to close your eyes."
  19. A North Carolina county commission turned down about $9,000 in state money for contraception. The Commissioner says, "If these young women were responsible people and didn’t have the sex to begin with we wouldn’t be in this situation." 
  20. Georgia Rep Wants To Force Women To Carry Stillborn Fetuses…Like Cows Do Georgia’s state representative Terry England wants to force us to carry stillborn fetuses to term–just like cows and pigs do, he says. Yet another expert on women.
  21. Idaho Senate Passes Forced Ultrasound Bill Idaho Senator Chuck Winder proposed a bill which would force every woman to undergo a mandatory ultrasound prior to having an abortion. But it's a good thing the Transvaginal Rape bill isn't being pursued in Rhode Island. Amirite? Nope? Shoot...
  22. New Hampshire House Republicans Pass Bill Forcing Doctors To Tell Women That Abortion Causes Breast Cancer. Republicans have successfully pushed an anti-abortion bill through the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would require doctors to lie to women in order to scare them from having an abortion. Yes, lie. Because there is no proof that doing so causes breast cancer.
  23. Wisconsin State Senator says that women make less money than men because money is more important for men. Um... Yeah. This happened when Wisconsin "Governer" Scott Walker (R) quietly repealed his state’s equal pay law last week, a decision that will make it harder for victims of wage discrimination to sue for lost earnings and back wages. You know, that one discrimination that makes women get a whole freaking 75 cents for every dollar a man makes for equal work and equal seniority.

Now, granted, most of this mess is political parlour tricks. It's a way of ginnying up the base and sticking it to The Other Side (in this case, Democrats). In a bit, they'll grow weary of fighting and report to their fan base that they gave it the ol' college try but those rascally DemoNcrats blahblahblah... And we'll all think we're safe and go on supporting whoever it is we supported, but meanwhile they've let a couple of these elements in and they've moved the conversation further against equity and equality.

I think we should and we need to fight these political ploys. But notice what this is: It's a social, a personal, a community issue that affects the lives of millions and millions of innocents. And they have the gall to play games with it (much like they do with their other wars).

Game Over
Game Over, by MarcXphotography found via Flickr

In a sense, reducing it to the level of games (of politics rather than policy) means that they win. The GOP can say they were just doing their job defending American liberties or patriots or freedoms or whatever other catachresis** they want to mean they're not very good people and they're afraid of extending the rights and access already guaranteed to a few to the many because they're a part of the few and they want to be in the good graces of the even-fewer.

And therein lies the rub. I've long wondered why some/many/most politicians and pundits have fought so hard to deny equal rights to everybody. Giving every person equal access could be scary for the uber-privileged few because it means they would have to share the stuff they stole. But then I discovered if we give equal rights to everybody, equal access follows.

And we can fight this game for a million years and gain the slightest bit of traction. Voting, calling, writing, marching, petitioning - these are all important, but they may do little more than protect the equality that we already have. I think we need to start thinking at a whole 'nother level as well. We need to be the change. We need to retake the property. We need to make sure every single person in our communities is fed, is clothed, is housed properly. That every grown man or woman has the opportunity to work and provide. That every child receives a proper and good and rewarding and relevant and self-actualizing education. Neither Washington nor our state capitals will provide those for us. Providing equal access goes against the political and social systems' nature. We can and must seek them for basic protection of basic human rights. But we're also gonna have to take this thing to a different tier.

*Thanks, Linda N!
**Thanks, Michele.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Homelessness, the Social Construction of: A Play

Looking for a higher quality PDF. But if you can make it, awesomesauce.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

These Men Are Bastards, Symbolically Speaking

According to the New York Times:

A U.S. congressional panel approved about $33 billion in cuts over 10 years from food stamp benefits, in a largely symbolic... vote.

This symbolic vote symbolizes what, exactly?

The cuts are expected to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But the vote by voice underscored Republicans' preference for domestic spending cuts over defense cuts or tax hikes as they try to avoid automatic cuts that take effect in January.

Get this? They want to make it obvious that they would rather have war than feed children? They would rather keep multimillionaires taxes artificially low with the false lead that multimillionaires are supplying jobs than keeping families off the streets?

Distributing surplus commodities, St. Johns, Ariz. (LOC)

These men are bastards.

That is all.

Except for this. I'm not a Democrat. They're indebted to corporations and warfare as well. But, man, the GOP is really trying to commit us to a GOTV campaign this year, eh? I'll start door-knocking for the Dems if I need to.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

We All Shine On - Privilege 100

Earlier I wrote a post on the basics of Privilege. Let's call it "Intro to Privilege." But the last couple days I found myself having to break it down into even smaller tidbits. And it kind of reminded me of what John Lennon was doing in the 70's, taking this really radical and revolutionary concepts and turning them into bumper stickers phrases in these immensely catchy songs. I'm no Lennon - or Ringo for that matter, but I hope you find something useful in this smorgasbord, this Prep class...

- Being white in America comes with privileges, but being white is not a privilege. Nor is it a burden.

- Whites tend to think the solution to race is forgiveness and put the onus on People of Color. The solution is equity and respect.

- Privilege allows us to be dismissive and silence other voices in the public forum while patting ourselves on the back for being brave enough to "tell the truth", which is only a truth according to our privileged perspective.

- People of color need to speak truth-to-power without being accused of being divisive or trouble-making. The trouble-making and the division is happening to them, and it's not of their accord, and it's not their fault.

- The constant lie is, "If only Blacks would stop talking about being black, racism would end... If only Mexicans would stop speaking in accents... If only Muslims would stop flaunting their Muslimness... If only women would stop yapping about their ladybits..."

- Privilege allows us to tell others that they shouldn't bring up their differences, as those differences only divide us. Only in Privilege Land can difference be a negative thing.

- The best that can be said about the claim that color-blindness is a goal is that it's like claiming that we must strive for ignorance.

- It's usually white people who claim color-blindness because it's easier for us than having to acknowledge the problems of racism in the US. Just as it's often men who declare that women complain too much about their burdens, and middle and upper class who consider the poor to be undeserving.

- White people, like myself, have the privilege of being taken seriously simply because we were born White and male. Yet our roles as neighbors and citizens necessitate that we take the words and perspectives of others who are not like us seriously.

- When you say "color-blind", what I hear is, "I accept you on MY terms, rather than for who you are."

- The better position would be to listen to what people of color say and not presume that it means they hate you or that you have to lose your culture.

- We cannot presume to love our neighbors if we're not willing to walk in their shoes for a bit.

- I come from a mixed-race family, I grew up in multi-cultural/multinational/multi-racial neighborhoods, schools, and churches, but I always assumed that I was right and that Euro-American culture is indisputably best. Not because I was raised to be racist or was an arse. But it's part of how this country and its racist genes work their way into our schools, education, social conventions, etc.

Everything Is Political, and That Includes Sports

In his column in today's Chicago Red Eye, sportswiter Matt Lind offers that sports don't matter. "They're a welcome diversion," and if the Cubs won the World Series, life wouldn't change. Cubs fans, suckers that they are, would be happy for a few days, but they'd still be as ugly and broke or rich as ever.

He's got some points there. Sports are a diversion, but that doesn't mean they don't matter. They are a grand metaphor and they symbolize much to our psyche. Jackie Robinson (who, incidentally, was attacked in Sanford, FL during spring training before he got called up to the ML majors), Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Muhammed Ali, Roberto Clemente, Michael Jordan.. these figures, larger than life, are the mythos of our poplar psyche, the heroes who "overcame the struggles of their backgrounds, of their race, class, poverty, blackness, Muslim-ness. Not that being black or being Muslim or being Puerto Rican is something to overcome - it isn't. That's how we tend to observe and report the phenomenon, so deeply ingrained into White American consciousness, that we fail to acknowledge others on their own terms so these heroes make us acknowledge them on their own terms. They become larger than life because our nationalism, our classism, our racism, our xenophobia, our tokenism are all larger than life and large than god itself - making and forming a new god, a different god than the gods of the Jewish, Christian, or Muslim traditions.


So these new heroes are erected to tear down the old ones, but they become gilded gladiators on their own, through sheer force of the weight of the god we serve - the god of privilege, of order, of social constructs to measure, protect, feed, and serve the Lords of the Earth, of mammon. The new heroes become servants of exceptionalism and mammon themselves and we value our heroes not by injustices displaced or gods overthrown, but by dollars and endorsement deals. Not the sacred solidarity of harmonious teamwork, but the glorified fire spits of individualized highlight reels.

Sports is political because everything is political.

Sports is also pacifying. It calms us from the Col reality that sometimes we just can't do anything about out place in life. It gives some, especially those at the bottom rungs, a hope that with determination, practice, skill, and luck, they can rise above their status. But it also calcifies them so that they cannot see or think about the actions necessary in order to claim the kind of life they need and, dare I say deserve.

"Deserve" is a funny word, that. Multimillionaires "deserve" their wealth and all that that buys them. Their toys, the false affections, their winter homes and the ability to winter and summer. They deserve those things for doing... whatever it is they do that is so important. But if we dare not speak the fact that the underclasses may deserve such amenities as health care or housing.

Our new heroes deserve to winter. The people deserve to dream about wintering courtesy of their medians.

Sports is political because everything is political.

Ali is famous for his lines and his moves, for his out sized ego during a time when people who looked like him were to be silent and submissive and deflect to their white "superiors" and be called by their first names when not called boy or worse. He, like Jack Johnson before him, asserted himself with poise, confidence and strength because sports, like everything else, is political.

Ali and Robinson and Clemente didn't have the luxury to pretend to live or operate in an apolitical world, Matt Lind. But you do. And you expect us to applaud you for your ability to make a clear distinction between sports and politics.

Except you don't, do you?

In his column, Lind argues that former Chicago White Sox player and manager Ozzie Guillen, who plays in the world of sports, should not comment on the world of politics. It is, after all, serious business. It's the adults table, and Ozzie should know where to keep his place.

Not only did Ozzie speak up when he isn't asked about such unbecoming topics as politics, but he did so to praise Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Who is, to quote Matt, "one of the most awful people alive."

Funny, I don't remember Castro -Fidel, I mean, pre-emptively attacking the US. I don't remember him making embargoes so tight against his own people that he was starving them. Or blaming their fate on this economic system - implicitly blaming the laziness of the lazy brown people who did not leave on boats.

Sports is political because everything is political.

Was it Fidel that sent hundreds of thousands of his young and poor to kill and destroy hundreds of thousands in South-East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East and displace millions more over false pretenses?

Not being a fan of Fidel myself, I'm not quite sure. But I remember several prominent baseball players praising, in no uncertain terms, George W Bush during the last ten years. Yes, the man responsible for starting and escalating a war we were not prepared for, directly killing 250,000 Iraqis in the process and indirectly killing several more through destroying their infrastructure and key pieces of their very ancient culture.

Matt ends his column by hoping that Ozzie's learned his lesson and that his mistake will seven as a lesson to other sports figures who would dare to take a political position.

Yes. I've an idea.

Next time a sports figure praises the gods of economic inequality, of racial division, of White Supremacy, of War by way of their human priests, suspend them from sports for their imaginary infraction.

Yeah, imaginary. Because sports is politics.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Overcoming Privilege

White Privilege is something difficult to talk about with my Euro-American allies. My posts on the topic are often ignored among self-described liberals and progressives, and often my friends feel they have to defend themselves. In fact, if there is any group that is as closed to discussing or acknowledging White Privilege than White Conservatives, it's White Liberals. I know a number of White Conservatives who are more open to the idea, more accepting of the idea that they benefit from White Privilege and therefore they question the way the system is set up and how to make it more fair.

In a few ways, I can see why White Liberals have a hard time accepting the idea of White Privilege. One, because they are White, they don't necessarily come into the conflict themselves. In some ways, even whites who are at the bottom of the pole benefit from the system in all sorts of daily interactions that rarely, if ever, come to the fore. But also, fighting Racism as a concept is a lot easier. There are Racists, and there is everybody else.

Racism is other people and it's stuff they do and it's stuff they say and it's stuff they think. Easy villains.

White Privilege is all white people in a land with white rule. It's me. And it may be you. It's not so clear cut: I'm not a villain or evil just because I was born white or have or even utilize White Privilege.

In this case, it's less about stirring up the masses and getting out the vote and holding rallies and more about recognizing how we contribute to and benefit from White Privilege and how we can make the system more equitable.

Recognizing privilege, however, doesn't just end with a racial component. For myself, I recognize that I also benefit from Male Privilege, from Straight Privilege, from English-speaking Privilege, from Educated Privilege, from Middle Class Privilege (though that one shifts. Most of my life, I've been working class or underemployed), from US Citizen Privilege, from Northern and Mid-Western Privilege, from Able-bodied Privileged, even Tall Privileged.

These are all ways in which I benefit. These characteristics keep me from having to contemplate discrimination based on my accent (Mid-West and Northern) which leads people to think I'm smarter or at least as smart as I actually am - a discrimination that often affects Southerners and rural people, and one which I've occasionally shared and find hard to dispel.

A few pictures. Most of my life, I've lived in and near neighborhoods where I was a clear minority due to my race and ethnicity (though my grandmother is Puerto Rican and darker-skinned, it's pretty clear that I'm not. Make that very clear). And in mostly poor neighborhoods with high crime rates. How often do I get pulled over? Fairly rarely. And for being in the wrong neighborhood. They may check me for drugs or whatever, but not deeply. Only once was I harassed by a cop, though. But even then he let me off with a warning.

My friends, on the other hand? It's a constant worry. They are targeted for DWB all. The. Time.

But it's not a concern for me. Speeding. Jaywalking. Cruising through stops (not that I do that, but I have). I rarely worry about them because I don't need to.

critizing privilege

My height is seen as a strength - which is odd since I don't know how to fight. But it's kept me from trouble when I could have been in much more trouble (just gotta fake a look for a few seconds).

I may not always get the job, but being white opens doors and opportunities for me that I wouldn't have if I were a Black or Latino male. It also helps that I can share several cultural touchstones with others who have access to jobs, opportunities, etc.

Being white in Chicago means that, even if I smoke pot, I'm 1/18th less likely to be arrested than someone who is black for carrying weed. Across all social/racial/economic borders, the proportion of those who use illicit drugs are the same, but African Americans are stopped, seized, arrested, tried, and imprisoned up to eighteen times as often as their white counterparts.

Several years ago, I got off the bus from work at around midnight. A young African American woman also gets off. I don't want her to think I'm following her - because I was attracted to her and didn't want her to think I'm some sort of rapist or whatever - so I slow down significantly. In a matter of seconds, she turns back to me and says, "I'm so glad you're walking with me. It gets pretty scary out here." She doesn't worry about petty thieves so much as guys harassing her - something that my male privilege doesn't allow me to worry about. And rats, too. I guess she was also worried about the rats in some of the gardens...

But she trusted me not because I was someone she knew or went to school with or she saw me interact with others. But because of the color of my skin. (At times I have a friendly face, but it's hard to tell at that hour). She felt that I would be able to protect her based on my maleness, height, slightly athletic build. And the fact that, being a white male, if something did happen, authorities would be quicker to listen to my story.

By nature of my privileges, I am the protected class, and she was expecting that some of that protection would fall to her as well.

The trick is recognizing our privileges - which may be as simple as our voice and the ability we have to tell our stories without shame or embarrassment and then join in the voices of others. It is through those who do not share our privileges that we will learn the most about ourselves and what is unique to us, but also we will learn how we can aid, how we can share what we have (our own voices) to amplify their voices and together sing a majestic harmony of humanity. It is then that we may become our best selves.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

My Own Personal Tomb and the Transcendence

Every once in a while, certain realities will fan the flames of my depression and leave me with a pervasive and unshakable sense of dread, malaise, and elevated angst. This week, I was forced to stare deep down into the abyss of my social and economic statuses, and I couldn't shake this foreboding sense of piercing death.

Wrought on by mitigating circumstances, by unthinking words, by a merciless, cruel, and selfish world and its systems of economic shititude, and by my own carelessness and purposeful ignorance, I sweat blood. I lunged after my would-be captors and lobbed off ears. I spit upon and whip and flog my own salvation. I thrice deny those I most love.

Out of fear and anger, I put myself through a false and illegal trial and found myself guilty of the most blasphemous crimes. I hung, bleeding and asphyxiating, with millions of victims of empire and necessity.

And I jeered and cried at the spectacle of it all.

I was going through the pain and anger and frustration of the passion - for a short period of time. On Sunday morning, I arose, renewed, refreshed, rejuvenated. Resurrected.

And I realize that what I went through as a tourist, others - billions of others - reside in some way most of the year.

But there's something special about the Spring, about the fresh hope of life that Easter represents and epitomizes for Christians. This isn't just about me.

The earliest Christians lived the post-resurrection period in gleeful community - rejecting war and violence, throwing aside their swords for plows. They saw fit to share food, resources, sufferings in order to alleviate the private, public, communal crucifixions their neighbors were facing every day.

Angel of the Resurrection

I think of my friend who tells me that Easter is a difficult day for her. It reminds her of loss. And how she just wants to be with her friends-turned-family. And I pray that I may be resurrection for her.

I think of my clients, who struggle with a cruel economic and elitist academic world when they seek a better life for themselves and their families. And I pray that I may be a sign of resurrection for them.

I think of the two neighborhoods I border now - the segregated impoverished un- and under-employed working class black neighborhood and the affluent mixed-race historic suburb across the street. And I pray that I may discover how I can exemplify the resurrection while here.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Richard Land, the Southern Baptists, Lynchings and the Abortion Juke

The Southern Baptist Convention was birthed in racial violence. Over a hundred and fifty years ago, when the American Baptist Convention decided that slavery is a sin and that slave-holders were sinning (in keeping with a central Baptist tenant, that of shared equality between all - something which may surprise those casually aware of contemporary renowned Baptists and Baptist orgs), Southern state congregations decided it was time to split.

After the Civil War the SBC lost what few black congregants they had, because they were no longer forced to go. During Reconstruction and during the 1920's and onward, a loosely-affiliated White-Supremacist terrorist organization calling itself the Ku Klux Klan flew through the South, intimidating and murdering Black, Catholic, and Jewish citizens - largely with tacit approval from the denomination's pastors and leaders, and with no outcry from the SBC itself. In the Civil Rights era, the denomination - the largest non-Catholic one in the US - was, at best, silent while many of its preachers and lay people were preaching the virtues of segregation and racial superiority.

However, things started changing in the 1980s as the denomination started reaching out specifically to non-whites and building churches for mixed-race as well as people of color. And, in the 1990's the denomination did something the United States has yet to do. They offered a formal apology for their role in slavery. More recently, Richard Land, the head of the SBC's Ethics and Religion dept (and as such, a prominent leader and spokesperson for the denom), joined more liberal Evangelical groups like the Christian Community Development Association and Sojourners in calling for complete and comprehensive immigration reform.

It seemed that, at least in terms of domestic race, the Southern Baptist Conference was beginning to turn over a new leaf. Not, mind you, in terms of gender (its main seminary no longer allows women to study to become pastors and offers, in its stead, glorified home ec courses), and not that they were actually all that progressive, generally-speaking. In recent years, the leadership changed from a progressive/conservative mix (wherein Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton felt as much home as Billy Graham) to a conservative rule.

So it's in this light, with its slave-holder origins and the KKK-endorsements, the cross-burnings, lynchings, and slave-whippings sponsored by the Southern Baptist Conference, that its most prominent spokesperson, Land, argues that those who bring attention to the murder of a black male teen in Florida as the result of racial profiling and a senseless pro-violence gun law are the real trouble-makers.

There is going to be violence. When there is violence it’s going to be Jesse Jackson’s fault. It’s going to be Al Sharpton’s fault. It’s going to be Louis Farrakhan’s fault, and to a certain degree it’s going to be President Obama’s fault.

I would not doubt that vigilante "justice" called by the likeness of Farrakhan is irresponsible and may lead to further violence, to say the least. It's borne of frustration with the White-controlled American justice system, so it's important to note that and give it some due attention - but that's not to excuse it. What's troubling is how Land can associate that with the role of Jackson or Sharp ton, which is to call national attention to a travesty of justice. Or, worse, to President Obama for expressing empathy for the family. Something Land, in his partisan role as spokesperson for the Republican Party-Evangelical alliance, clearly does not share.

But let's also consider another historical context to throw into further light. Richard Land blasted this announcement on his radio show last week - during Lent. Lent, which in the Western church culminates today, God Friday, is a period for Christians throughout the world to recognize our sins that need to be confronted - our sins that led to Christ's death that we would like to submit to Jesus.

Land may or may not practice Lent. But he, being a typical example of White American Evangelicalism, does not recognize institutional sins such as - and especially - racism*. Itrarely recognizes war as an institutional sin. The one unforgivable institutional sin, however, is abortion. And it is through the Abortion Juke - the ability of Evangelical leaders to say, "This isn't a real travesty. The REAL travesty is Abortion!" during grown-up talk - that Land will be able to deflect blame for his White Supremacist rants.

Juke Move

The Abortion Juke - and more on this next week - is another way to tell when the anti-abortion forces aren't really concerned about life, but only abortion. And often only as a way of controlling the political game and talking points. Racism or misogyny or poverty, after all, they say, can't be nearly as bad as millions of aborted babies.

And in so saying this, they fail to acknowledge the connections, the ways in which racism, misogyny and poverty connect with abortions.


*It's here I have to recognize the boldness of John Piper - someone whom I disagree much with on many issues, but all someone who has long called for White Evangelical churches to repent for their sins of complicit or implicit racism. It's part of the reason why the Gospel Coalition has such a strong headway among younger African Americans.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Self-imposed interview for Shout It from the Rooftops

In recognition of Left Cheek's first e-book, Shout It from the Rooftops (now on sale from Amazon for $1.99 until Good Friday), we decided to do an impromptu guerilla-style interview with ourself. Enjoy. We hope you find it illuminating.

First off, I'd like to thank you for being so gracious to allow me to interview me.

I'm welcome.

You're even more hot in person - and remarkably taller than I was led to believe.

Well, I'm 6' 3" (ed. not, that's less than two metres for those unfamiliar with Americanese), and I'm not sure, you being me, who told you otherwise.

(Silence. Nodding. Followed by more silence.)

But I do have a remarkable amount of animal magnetism.



Down to the book. You have a new e-book out called Shout It from the Rooftops: Finding the Message of the Bible in a New Era . What was the impetus for this tome?

It originated with an ongoing series of articles I was doing on my blog, Left Cheek, on American Evangelicals, what they believe and how that affects their view of the world and how that affects those around them.

And it affects....?

Pretty negatively. I've come to believe that the bible - if we read it as God's word to us - is, to cop from Donald Miller, story. And if it is, it moves in certain order. I don't want to fit this whole Ancient Near East text written over a several hundred year span and tackling many different eras and from the perspective of many different authors and superimpose a modern and Western meta or mode of talking about narrative over it, but to me it seems to be talking about relationship, loss, and then redemption. I don't know how universal that is, though...

Is this gonna be a long answer?

Don't interrupt me.


As I was saying... One thing I've come to find while working and developing the blog, from reading biblical scholars and reading about early Christian history is that American Evangelical Christians tend to have an outlook on society that contradicts what Jesus, the prophets and the early Christians had. And that this contradiction is actually very harmful to the Christian witness, to the name of Jesus, and to society at large.

When you say "harmful"...

I mean actually, physically, spiritually, and violently harmful to other people also made in God's own image. Sometimes those other people live next door, sometimes they live remotely, sometimes our own family - but always our neighbors. Like stuff you don't expect the Good Samaritan to do. Stuff that's hurtful, that may or may not be intentional. I actually don't think it is intentional. But I believe that Christians need to be above the defense of, "But I meant well."

So, this is part of a series, then?

Right. This book is the first volume of what I see now as being perhaps three or maybe more. I also see this as being a type of progression - I want my brothers and sisters to see that what we are doing to our neighbors is harmful and anti-Christ. But in order to do that, in order to actually become involved in a discussion of "What happens next?" we have to get rid of the elephant in the room. And in order to do that, we have to recognize that we just may be in the wrong room.

You like mixing metaphors, don't you?

I do. It adds to the disorienting effect that I think is essential to the work of an artist.

But you're an educator. How does disorienting help to disseminate information when you want to be as clear as possible?

Kafka talked about the necessity of art being like a pick-axe, breaking through the ice of our hearts and intellect. There are studies out there showing that the more educated one is, the less likely she or he will see a need to change his or her opinions - no matter how wrong we are. So just presenting facts doesn't work for most people; and in fact, it may present more damage over the long-run. It can give scientific garb to the most ridiculous and obscene untruths.

For instance?

Remember when they "disproved" man-made global warming as some sort of "hoax"? People who don't know how to read scientifically were convinced that scientists were trying to cover up their "lies" when in fact they were discussing hoe to best graph their findings. This was the result of the work of people who are not experts in climatology or related sciences who had much to gain or lose trying to convince the world that the actual experts in the field - who didn't have much to gain or lose and who obviously were not being bribed because there's no real money in environmental regulation (it just mean we consume much less) - are not trustworthy. THAT was the big scam. In this case those with much to gain and lose (industrialists, oil companies, refineries, etc.) were buying off those who did know better to present as "plain facts" that which was neither plain nor facts.

Are you mixing metaphors?

Horribly, I am.

In all, though, you're suggesting that we are looking to highly compromised non-experts to answer questions that are best left to the experts?

Yes. And, ironically, I'm no expert.

I caught that. But you're a bit of an artist.

I'm also arguing in the book and here that we need a foundational way of reading the Bible in a take-away approach that we can use some two thousand years, several languages, multitudes of scientific discoveries, reigns of empires, and thousands upon thousands of miles removed from the text itself.

That is the way of finding the message of the Bible in this new era?

Yes, that is love. Love as both the means and the end of our biblical exegesis so to say.

These Are My Confessions

About once a year, I go through this ceremonial cleansing. Call it an exorcism if you will. Or a colonoscopy. I have to get the troofiness out there. But since I don't want to limit the scope of my troof -tellin' to just my Facebook friends and because I'm facing a major case of blogger blockage right now, I'll share some with you.

Efektiv 2day I is a librul hatin', God guns and Ameruka lovin' patriot! Get out of Amureka, hippys and Messicans! 
Hooray Capitalism! 
God luvs rich white men! God bless them all! Xpt for Warren Buffet. He's a race trayter! 
Whoop, gunlubbinjeebus! 
My favorite commercial of all time has gotta be the Dr. Pepper 10 ads. If it's not for you, it's because you have a va-jayjay, so stop whining.* 
I can't believe I dismissed the musical genius of Creed!
 Muppets suck! What are people thinking? Talking socks and imagination? Screw that!
Leave poor Rushbo alone! He's the victim here! 
Michael Bay's a friggin' Art God! 
Ed Hardy... it's like somebody threw up awesomeness on clothes! 
For Easter, Jesus wants us to wear a suit and tie to church, men. Why else did he die but for us to spend money we don't have to look like we're going to a pastel-colored job interview? 
Joel Osteen is my favoritest! He's like a shiny rainbow of promises and teeth! 
And finally, all the evidence isn't in yet! You have to give them time before you call it racist, racists. Besides, we live in a post-racist country. So, who's the racists now? Also, Trayvon was a thug drug dealer and he shot first, also.

*Yeah, I gave up on the spelling inaccuracies later. Dead giveaway?