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George Takei Apologizes for Calling Clarence Thomas a “Clown in Blackface” (But Not for Criticizing Him)

A classy statement
Opinion • Views: 25,778

As I wrote yesterday, I believe that although George Takei’s characterization of Clarence Thomas as a “clown in blackface” was poorly phrased, his criticism of Thomas’s statements that the pre-Civil War US government did not deprive slaves of their dignity was right on target.

The right wing media and blogs have been raising holy hell over Takei’s choice to use the word “blackface,” because this is how they see the issue of racism; as a matter of words, not intent. Whenever a liberal figure like Takei uses one of these words, right wingers stage a showy freak-out because they see a chance to turn the tables — not because they actually believe their target is a racist. And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing to George Takei for the past two days.

Just a few minutes ago on his Facebook page, Takei posted an eloquent statement about this nontroversy, explaining his intent and apologizing for his poor choice of words — but not for his substantive criticism of Thomas’s outrageously offensive remarks. Here it is in its entirety for the record:

On the eve of this Independence Day, I have a renewed sense of what this country stands for, and how I personally could help achieve it. The promise of equality and freedom is one that all of us have to work for, at all times. I know this as a survivor of the Japanese American internment, which each day drives me only to strive harder to help fulfill that promise for future generations.

I recently was asked by a reporter about Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissent in the marriage equality cases, in which he wrote words that really got under my skin, by suggesting that the government cannot take away human dignity through slavery, or though internment. In my mind that suggested that this meant he felt the government therefore shouldn’t be held accountable, or should do nothing in the face of gross violations of dignity. When asked by a reporter about the opinion, I was still seething, and I referred to him as a “clown in blackface” to suggest that he had abdicated and abandoned his heritage. This was not intended to be racist, but rather to evoke a history of racism in the theatrical arts. While I continue to vehemently disagree with Justice Thomas, the words I chose, said in the heat of anger, were not carefully considered.

I am reminded, especially on this July 4th holiday, that though we have the freedom to speak our minds, we must use that freedom judiciously. Each of us, as humans, have hot-button topics that can set-us off, and Justice Thomas had hit mine, that is clear. But my choice of words was regrettable, not because I do not believe Justice Thomas is deeply wrong, but because they were ad hominem and uncivil, and for that I am sorry.

I often ask fans to keep the level of discourse on this page and in comments high, and to remember that we all love this country and for what it stands for, even if we often disagree passionately about how to achieve those goals. I did not live up to my own high standards in this instance.

I hope all of you have a wonderful, safe and joyously free July 4th, the first where all married couples in the U.S. can enjoy the full liberties of matrimony equally. It is truly a blessing to be an American today.

The Kids Are All Right: Kids React to Gay Marriage Ruling

“It’s just right! That’s why we’re called the United States of America.”
Opinion • Views: 32,279

YouTube

Read Supreme Court’s Opinion

Marriage Equality Links/Information:
freedomtomarry.org
hrc.org

To find information and resources on coming out visit:
itgetsbetter.org
community.pflag.org
thetrevorproject.org

Watch all main React episodes (Kids/Teens/Elders/YouTubers): goo.gl
Subscribe for more: goo.gl

Kids discuss the legalization of gay marriage.

This episode featured the following kids.

Dominick, age 6
Lucas, age 7
Sydney, age 7
Maxim, age 9
Samirah, age 9
Addy, age 11
Caden, age 11
Tyler F, age 11
Claudia, age 13
Dylan, age 13
Elle, age 13

Music by: Cormac Bluestone
youtube.com

Kids React #132 - Gay Marriage Ruling
Kids React to Gay Marriage Ruling

(c) Fine Brothers Properties 2015
This format and title of this program is protected under Copyright and Trademark Law and may not be emulated or re-created in any way without express consent in any territory worldwide

Overnight Podcast: The Bob and Chez Show, 6/18/15

Plumbing the bad craziness in the Dylann Roof story
Opinion • Views: 49,075
Image via Shutterstock

MP3 Audio

We get serious about gun violence and the massacre in Charleston; Why we’ll never pass new gun legislation; Fox and Friends are evil monkeys; Alex Jones says this is the beginning of a race war; Lindsey Graham and Steve Doocy say this is a war on Christians; Brian Kilmeade tries to do math; and much more.

Stephen King: Indiana’s RFRA Is “A Dog Turd”

Opinion • Views: 26,374

Author Stephen King had a very direct, unvarnished description of Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” yesterday on Twitter:

That’s why he gets paid the big bucks.

Tim Cook: ‘Religious Freedom’ Laws Are Discriminatory and Dangerous

Drawing a line
Opinion • Views: 30,198

Apple CEO Tim Cook drops the mic at the Washington Post. It’s rare to see the head of a massive corporation put himself on the line like this; good on ya, Tim.

Tim Cook: Pro-Discrimination ‘Religious Freedom’ Laws Are Dangerous.

I remember what it was like to grow up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s. Discrimination isn’t something that’s easy to oppose. It doesn’t always stare you in the face. It moves in the shadows. And sometimes it shrouds itself within the very laws meant to protect us.

Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.

Men and women have fought and died fighting to protect our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality. We owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to make sure we protect those ideals. The days of segregation and discrimination marked by “Whites Only” signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past. We must never return to any semblance of that time. America must be a land of opportunity for everyone.

Read the whole thing.

On Lemmings and Cliffs

One wingnut’s story about backing away from the edge
Opinion • Views: 25,546

I am a child of the Midwest.

Around these parts, the default constructor for people is “wingnut”. I was raised in the proud tradition of the Assemblies of God - a name many of you may recognize as associated with some of the derpiest hardcore creationist/Dominionist names out there. And you would be right. For most of my early life, I was subject to an intense campaign of fearmongering, that God had His metaphorical trigger finger on the “Punish” button if I made even the slightest mistake or wavered even slightly in my beliefs. And what beliefs they were: Young-earth creationism, Dominionism, American exceptionalism - yes, this was actually taught in churches alongside traditional theological concepts. Patriotism, conservatism, and religious zealotry were intertwined into a massive right-wing hairball of doctrine that was drilled into our heads from an early age, alongside reminders of how God punished sin and unbelief. We invented “putting the fear of God into someone”.

It will come as no surprise, then, to hear that my formative years were spent absorbing information from conservative icons such as Rush “Pompous Windbag” Limbaugh. Fact-checking and independent thought were discouraged; talking points were taught alongside theology, and while churches - and parents - gave lip service to the idea of testing their theology, in practice it was good old fashioned guilt-tripping that suppressed inquiry and free expression. People just didn’t look at you the same if you expressed doubt, or if you asked too many questions that didn’t have obvious by-the-book answers. As a result, climate change denialism and other anti-science beliefs were widespread, and yeah, I subscribed to them all. Even as a science geek and a budding engineer in my own right, I still didn’t grasp the idea of critical thinking or figure out how to test reported “facts” to determine their veracity. In fact, I even wrote my senior term paper on the conspiracy theories around the JFK assassination, unable to comprehend how utterly without merit the claims were.

You can certainly see the direction this is heading. We’ve all seen the very public saga of Chuck C. Johnson, wingnut extraordinaire, on this very site. Before that, many of you are also aware of the equally public meltdowns of Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and the anti-Islam crowd several years ago. There are many lesser minions in the same vein, former members here who simply refused to bend when given a choice between sanity and derp. Like the proverbial lemmings following each other off a cliff, they plowed straight on ahead, preferring the comfort of their familiar world - even as ruled by fear and imminent danger as it is - to the idea of changing and admitting they were wrong about something.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

My wingnut tendencies were tempered somewhat by going to public high school; many of my friends were homeschooled. When I graduated, I went to a private Christian college, but unlike the strict conservatism and brainwashing/fearmongering of my youth, questioning and free expression were encouraged there. I met many fellow Christians who had radically different beliefs, but we all worshiped the same God and debated vigorously with knowledge rather than “because God said so”. I learned how to do my own research and how to approach with skepticism, but most importantly, I learned tolerance. Over the course of those 4 years, my indoctrination was broken down and replaced with proper critical thinking.

This is when I found LGF. At the time that I was brought into the lizardoid fold, LGF was still a very conservative place, but similar to my college experience, it was a place where free thought was encouraged and people debated with knowledge, rather than bare assertions and talking points. When Charles made public his break with the political right in 2008, it was an easy choice for me; I had long since lost all of the conditioning that preyed on the fears the right-wing nutjobs express. When it came time to decide between following my other lemming friends off the cliff or pulling back, I chose the hard way, the unfamiliar way, because I finally realized that it was the right way.

The conclusion you guys can draw from my little soliloquy is this: Fear is the driver of all things wingnut. Amazingly enough, people can grow comfortable in that fear, learn to depend on it, and unless you can break through and show a better way that works without fear, they will never leave it. The end result is living in your mother-in-law’s basement writing racist, sexist garbage trying to get yourself noticed. That’s right, Chuck, I’ve lived in your world, and I get you. And I feel sorry for you.

In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo

Perspective is in order
Opinion • Views: 26,668

As of this posting, there are at least two separate hostage standoff situations near Paris. One is at a kosher market (I’ve heard it referred to as a supermarket, deli, or grocery) on Ave Porte de Vincennes in the 13th Arr (that’d be Southeastern Paris). The other is near Charles de Gaulle airport. There have also been reports of an incident near the Eiffel Tower in the Trocadero, but so far news about that incident is limited.

There have been casualties reported in one of the incidents, with at least two dead.

The two standoff situations appear related to each other and to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, as well as a separate attack resulting in the death of a French policewoman the other day. It’s likely all part of the same cell.

Yet, there’s something irking me about all this. We’re being told that it required training and tactics to carry off the attacks, yet the best this cell could manage was to kill a bunch of unarmed journalists and a couple of cops who were caught by surprise and off-guard before engaging in standoffs at locations like a grocery store.

Is this the best that al Qaeda in Yemen can do?

Continue reading…

UVA Rape Victim’s Roommate: “This Story Is Not a Hoax”

An object lesson in why rape victims don’t come forward
Opinion • Views: 30,441
The rotunda at the University of Virginia

The former roommate of the woman in Rolling Stone’s article on rape at the University of Virginia has written a letter to the campus newspaper, insisting Jackie’s Story Is Not a Hoax.

In December 2012, Jackie broke down. All of a sudden she was going home and none of us knew why. It was right before finals, and I couldn’t believe she was leaving. She was distraught, and only said she needed to go home. Her teachers had given her allowance to take her finals over break. At that point, we knew something big had happened. I didn’t know until this year with the publication of Rolling Stone’s article how bad that time was for her.

Sometime that year I remember her letting it slip to me that she had had a terrible experience at a party. I remember her telling me that multiple men had assaulted her at this party. She didn’t say anything more. It seemed that was all she’d allow herself to say. I wish I had done something sooner. I wish I had known how to help. But I applaud Jackie for telling her story, now two years later. It was a story that needed to be told.

However, the articles released in the past few days have been troubling to me, and the responses to them even more so. While I cannot say what happened that night, and I cannot prove the validity of every tiny aspect of her story to you, I can tell you that this story is not a hoax, a lie or a scheme. Something terrible happened to Jackie at the hands of several men who have yet to receive any repercussions.

Racism, Discrimination and Privilege

And the common sense to distinguish between them
Opinion • Views: 26,912

I have known and seen racism and discrimination. I have known and experienced privilege.

And I have the common sense to distinguish between the two.

Ferguson is a place that is riddled with racism and discrimination. The police are known by all to engage in discrimination and racism. The state has disbanded police departments for racism and other malfeasance. Darren Wilson belonged to one such department to start his career. He came to Ferguson where the Department has long had issues in policing the community. All but a handful of officers are white in a community that is overwhelmingly black.

Blacks are stopped far more frequently than white (when adjusting per capita). That’s despite fact that whites that are stopped are found to have contraband in higher rates.

In this respect, Ferguson is hardly alone. Many other communities around the St. Louis region (and indeed nationally) face the same problems.

But the specifics of this case are exceptionally troubling. Only Officer Wilson was able to speak to what happened - and it was couched from the outset that he feared for his life when he stopped Brown. Both were the same height (Brown had 70 pounds on him). All the shots were fired by Wilson. And Brown lay dead more than 150 feet from the vehicle, in about a minute after the stop was initiated by Wilson.

All the eyewitness evidence was disregarded or minimized by the fact that Wilson feared for his life. That there’s no bruising apparent from the photos taken hours later. Yet, he thought he was a punch or two from being disabled?

Continue reading…

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 Frank says:

Consider for a moment any beauty in the name Ralph. -- In an interview with Joan Rivers who had just asked him why he gave his children such odd names, Frank gave the reply above.