“If we have this hierarchy that the king is worth more than the queen, then this subtle inequality influence people in their daily life because it’s just another way of saying, ‘hey, you’re less important.'” That’s a quote from Indy Mellink, a 23-year-old forensic psychology graduate who has created a genderless deck of playing cards so Kings can’t be worth more than Queens.
Her cards replace Kings, Queens, and Jacks with Gold, Silver, and Bronze.
Because feelings. And maybe an endorsement deal with the Olympics.
So far, Mellink has sold about 1,500 decks of her new, woke playing cards to assure that people can feed their gambling addiction and fight the patriarchy at the same time.
My first reaction on seeing this story was to role my eyes so hard that they almost stuck that way. It’s stupid.
Then I thought again.
To be clear, I’ll never think there’s a moral or ethical imperative to modify playing cards. And I don’t intend to throw out mine and get with the 21st century. I’m a purist when it comes to playing cards.
But it is a free society, which means if Ms. Mellink wants to create gender-free playing cards, she gets to do that. As Voltaire once didn’t say, “I disagree with with your stupid playing cards, but I’ll defend to the death your right to play Blackjack…err, Blackbronze with them.”
And if she can make money selling them to other people who feel the same way, that what we capitalists call “living the dream.”
That freedom extends both ways. The people who prefer to play with the queen of hearts (knowing it ain’t really smart), also get to do that. Especially Juice Newton.
And Kevin James.
Put another way, you can have my suicide king when you pry him from my cold, dead hand.
Jim Parsons may be the most well-known gay actor in Hollywood today, having played Sheldon Cooper in Big Bang Theory and voicing adult Sheldon in Young Sheldon. Among his other projects The Boys in the Band, in which he played a character named Michael in both the Broadway play and a movie adaption.
The play is a story of a group of gay men who gathered for a birthday party in New York in 1968, the year the play debuted. Parsons says that when he was researching for the play, he was struck by the language used to describe gay men in the New York Times, which he describes as “animalistic and disgusting.”
Everyone in the play (and the forthcoming movie) is gay–including Parsons, Zachary Quinto (Spock in the newer Star Trek movies), and Matt Bomer (Neal Caffrey in White Collar). But when The Los Angeles Timesasked Parsons whether only gay men should play gay roles, he said, “I think the fight…is not about having only gay people play the gay parts but to ensure that all parts are open to all actors. It’s important that gay characters are portrayed as well-rounded and completely human individuals…I think Brokeback Mountain is one of the most touching gay movies and love stories I have ever seen, and those two straight actors [Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal] were the best choices for those roles.”
USA Today also tackled the subject, expanding the question to whether cisgender actors should play transgender parts. Its article said, in part, “[a]ll actors should be able to play all roles, in theory, but actors and industry experts are speaking out about the need for queer and transgender actors to play roles that represent these communities.”
Tre’vell Anderson, a writer for Out magazine, says, “We want our media to be an accurate reflection of the world in which we live.” Actor Bill Eichner says, “I don’t have to go sit with 30 gay people and try to find out what it’s like to be gay. I know, and no one knows better than me and my friends. I think we need to stop undervaluing that.”
The article also notes that while there aren’t a lot of transgender parts, transgender actors don’t get the chance to play cisgender parts.
If there’s a shortage of parts, as would be the case for transgendered actors, that complaint seems valid and reasonable.
But if there’s not a shortage of parts, insisting that any type of character (gay, straight, hearing-impaired, etc.) play those characters, it takes away from what acting is–literally the process of becoming someone you aren’t. It’s similar to writing. I’m currently writing a first draft in which one major character is lesbian and one is bisexual.
As a straight man, I don’t have the experience that those people would have, if they were real. Nor do I have the experience a woman or a person of color would have.
A few years ago, many works were held to the Bechdel test, involving women in fiction. To pass the test, there have to be at least two women, they must talk to each other, and they must talk about something other than a man. Although it’s not a perfect test (nor is it intended to be), it’s a guideline to try to get creators to dig a little deeper and do a better job representing people who are different. Bechdel variants sprung up about people of color, gays, and other minorities.
To be truthful, I set out to make the lesbian character that way, but the bi-sexual character more or less decided that for herself. I’m working to do a good job with these characters–to keep them from being two-dimensional stereotypes. We’ll see if I pull it off. (I’m also curious about my writing includes non-straight women characters, but not men.)
Ultimately, one of the purposes of art is to push the creator and consumer out of easy comfort zones. Sometimes that’s done in spectacular fashion (Brokeback Mountain). Sometimes it’s done in remarkably mundane ways, such as an early episode of Cheers that dealt with homosexuality.
But the key is, whether you’re gay, straight, transgender, or cis, is to create multi-dimensional characters that force you outside yourself.
Before we start, there is such a thing as cancel culture. It’s what happens when sanctimonious, woke geniuses, unilaterally decide for everyone what is and isn’t acceptable, regardless of intent on the part of the creator of the “offensive” content.
Personally, I don’t care what the people in Washington, DC or Cleveland (or for that matter, Kansas City, Atlanta, or Chicago) call their sports teams. The former Redskins are now the Washington Football Team and will be for another season. The Cleveland Indians will have a new same (Cleveland Spiders?) for the 2022 season. And despite protestations from their owners, the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago Blackhawks will probably follow suit shortly thereafter.
And there’s validity to objecting to the treatment of native Americans over the years by sports teams. Having a drunken fat guy running around in war paint running around scalping people is the same as having a fat, drunken, shirtless Saints fan running around with a big foam holy water sprinkler baptizing people with Bud Light (hey, it’s basically water, right?).
And according to Kurt Streeter, a woke, holier-than-you sportswriter for the New York Times, it’s about damn time. It’s 2020 and we’ve progressed to the point as a society when such horrible insults can no longer be tolerated. Chiefs, Braves, Blackhawks, Seminoles–all of them must go now, because according to him, they’re all harmful to indigenous peoples–even if some of those people don’t have a problem with it. It doesn’t matter; they have to go.
Except the Seminole Nation of Florida not only doesn’t have a problem with the Florida State Seminoles name, they’ve explicitly given their blessing to the name and have actively worked with the school to make sure the school’s actions are appropriate to Seminole culture. (The Oklahoma Seminole tribe disagrees, but that seems like a matter for them to work out Seminole to Seminole.)
Streeter, when discussing the school’s relationship with the Seminole nation, dismissed it with an ugh. So how can you argue with that massive load of intellectual power.
In arguing that the Seminole Nation has approved the use of their name and imagery, my argument has been dismissed with yeah, the school’s just paying them off. To which I reply, so what?
As a white dude whose ancestors probably had the sexy time with a Mohawk Indian at some point along the way, it’s not up to me to tell those cute precocious Seminoles what to do with their name and culture. And as a black sportswriter for a newspaper over a thousand miles away, it’s not up to Kurt Streeter, either.
There’s a name for people who think minorities aren’t smart enough to think for themselves, who need Great White (or Black) Father to do it for them.
And it’s something people like Kurt Streeter are so busy looking for, they can’t see that they’re doing the same things.
Now that the venerable Vin Scully has retired, Fred Roggin is the dean of Los Angeles sportscasters. He’s worked at KNBC as sports anchor since Jimmy Carter was president.
He was discussing the suspension of Seattle Seahawks pre-game host Dori Monson after the following Tweet (since removed).
In addition to his (soon to be former?) job for the Seahawks, Monson is also the (soon to be former?) conservative host of the midday slot on Seattle talk station KIRO. In both jobs, Monson was suspended by Bonneville International, which owns KIRO.
In response to what happened, Roggin said that he regularly tells interns and younger broadcasters to keep their political and societal opinions to themselves because in the social media era, no one cares (he really leaned into that word) about your opinions. Until they do.
In other words, when you pop off like a big idiot they way Monson did, only bad things can happen.
An exception to that rule might be made for Monson because he’s been a conservative host in Seattle since 1995, holding down the same time slot the entire time. Part of his job is to say provocative things. His Tweet left provocative behind for hurtful.
Should Monson be fired, the decision will be lauded by some, and held up as a violation of his First Amendment rights (it isn’t) by others.
This is all rather rich coming from me, a guy who’s paying gig has nothing to do with spouting off political opinions on a blog and on the socials. To be honest, sometimes I feel like I’m hoping around in a mine field with a blindfold on, waiting for that one mine that’s active to explode and take me with it.
With respect to Fred Roggin, it’s a time that calls for opinions.
I know some people disagree with my opinions. I hope I’m respectful enough in presenting them that no one feels unduly marginalized.
I continue to hop around the mine field because you can disagree on almost any subject, as long as you do so respectfully and listen to the people on the other side of that disagreement.
Monson’s tweet was juvenile, foolish, and saturated with disrespect for transgendered people. It’s intended to resonate with the the people who already agree with him–and re-enforce the fact that transgendered people are them, a group to be excluded.
He left no opportunity for discussion about difficult and complex issues. For instance, in sports, do transgender women have an unfair advantage? Conversely, are transgender men at a disadvantage? What, if anything, needs to be done about that? What would Jesus do about that? Given his post as a sports broadcaster, that would be a worthwhile discussion of difficult, opposing viewpoints.
Instead Monson went for a cheap, demeaning (I-guess-you-could-call-it-a) joke.
As of this writing, the Seahawks and Bonneville have not made a final decision on Monson.
As of this writing, I keep hoping around the minefield. I like to think I add thoughtful perspective on a daily basis for tens of people.
The Great Trilogy is God, country, and family. In other words, for all right-thinking people, God–our great, great God–comes first.
A group of people–they call themselves Christians, but I don’t know. I guess they’re Catholics or something. They aren’t regular Christians, that’s for sure!
They’re disrespecting our great God every time they gather. It’s wrong. And it’s very bad!
They gather on Sundays and sometimes during the week and show disrespect to God. Every one of them. And they kneel, which is very disrespectful! Right before and right after snack time, they kneel! I’ve never seen anything like it.
As a group, they do this. And it’s very wrong. Even their leaders do it sometimes.
In this country, you stand to respect God. When I see someone kneeling, I say, excommunicate the son of a bitch.
They disrepect Jesus and God and the great, great prayer–my favorite prayer, Our Mary Tis of Thee. I know it. You know it. I said it at church last week. It was the greatest prayer anyone ever heard. Very classy.
Every good Christian and American does and we say it with respect. We stand. To show respect for God and Jesus and all the great Christian martyrs through the year. Stephen. Perpetua and Felicity. Peter, Paul, and Mary. And the great Joan of Arc, pictured below.
So I call on my fellow Americans and my fellow God…worship…people to return respect to church, which I love. I love it. God is a God of order and you must respect him.
LAW AND ORDER!
I call on you to boycott these disrespectful fake Christians. I call on you to boycott fish fries and Bingo, which is a great song–my favorite song. Last week at church, I sang all 16 verses. They told me it was amazing what I did. They’d never seen anything like it. I aced it.
And all call on you to let these disrespectful people know they are wrong.
Sunday, a self-described men’s rights activist dressed in a FedEx uniform drove to the home of New Jersey Federal Judge Esther Salas, rang the doorbell, then shot Salas’s son, Daniel Anderl, and her husband, attorney Mark Anderl. Her son was shot in the heart and killed. Her husband was shot several times and is currently in the hospital in critical by stable condition, recovering from surgery.
Judge Salas had recently been assigned a case in which Deutsche Bank investors are suing the bank over its anti-money laundering policies and failure to police high-risk customers, including Jeffrey Epstein. There doesn’t appear to be a link to the Epstein case. According to ABC7 news in New York, police are saying they believe Mark Anderl may have been the intended victim.
After the attack, the suspected shooter, Roy Den Hollander, drove to Rockland, NY, where he killed himself. Either a package or an envelope addressed to Judge Salas was found in his car.
Hollander has a long history of lawsuits involving women’s rights, including one he argued in front of Judge Salas in 2015, brought by a woman who wanted to register for the military draft. That case has not been resolved, but Hollander has been replaced as the plaintiff’s attorney.
He also has a history of bringing suits against everyone from night clubs. for ladies’ nights promotions, to Columbia University, for its womens’ studies program.
In a 2013 interview with the New York Daily News, Hollander said of his losses on ladies’ night lawsuits, “”I’m beginning to think it’s time for vigilante justice – civil disobedience… [I] may pull a Carrie Nation on the Ladies’ Nights clubs.” (Carrie Nation was a prohibitionist who attacked bars with a hatchet.)
Hollander’s website said that it’s “time for all good men to fight for their rights before they have no rights left.” His work there includes references to Obamite bigots, bimbo book burners, and the “malignant ideology that has mutated half of the American population into automatons of the PC/Feminist collective.”
Everything on Hollander’s website appears to be legal. It’s not against the law to be anti-feminist (nor should it be). And there’s plenty of investigating to be done before any connection can be made between Hollander’s men’s rights activism and this shooting.
Men’s right’s activists have a shadowy reputation, though, viewing everything as a zero-sum game between men and feminists and their allies (often also men). In this mindset, everything is part of the war and the enemy is clearly identifiable. Absolute loyalty is required to fight against the perceived tyranny.
Men’s rights activists typically go beyond value issues, such as custody awards, to take a very aggressive anti-woman stance. Hollander didn’t seem to harrass people online, but the Carrie Nation quote is troubling. One could chalk it up as rhetorical excess, but pending an investigation, the shooting of a judge’s son and husband make the line between excess and attacks, including murder, fuzzy.
To be clear, there was nothing on the website that showed an immediate threat to Judge Salas or her husband. And you can’t imprison people for invoking Carrie Nation in a rant against bars.
Even if Hollander needed mental-health counseling, at what point is that line drawn. Absent action from someone around them, how to you prevent someone who seems a little off from jumping over the line and killing someone?
Maybe this shooting is part of the price you pay for a free society. Maybe you have to allow these incidents to happen, rather than charge people for every bit of rhetorical excess online.
That’s probably little comfort to a sitting federal judge and her husband, whose only child was viciously murdered in the front door of their home.
Outside the Washington Redskins, it’s really not the names.
The Redskins are a special case. Many natives consider the name a racial slur. (Its origin is to tie the team into the Boston Red Sox, when the team moved to Fenway Park in 1933, before moving to Washington.)
Their original owner, George Preston Marshall, didn’t have a black player until 1962. It only happened then because the federal government threatened to terminate the team’s lease on DC (later RFK) Stadium. (Marshall’s statue was removed from outside RFK last month.)
If you spent time in the DC area when from the early 70s until the mid-90s, you couldn’t get away from the Redskins. In a city that turned over a quarter of its population each year, the story goes, the Redskins gave residents something in common.
The brand took on a life of its own as the Redskins became a DC institution. For sports fans who spent time there, the name almost became separate from what it represented. Redskins stopped being a pejorative for Native Americans and became the football team. And that’s part of the problem. Aside from being a slur, the slur–along with the imagery–became a commodity.
If you watched a Redskins-Cowboys game, you’d be sure to see the unofficial mascots, Whistling Ray and Chief Zee. Chief Zee’s actual name was Zema Williams and he started attending games in 1978, wearing an Indian costume and a headdress.
That’s where the Redskins join other teams. For me, it’s not calling the teams Chiefs, Braves, Indians, or Blackhawks. It’s the fans, like Chief Zee, who adorn themselves in headdresses. Although Chief Zee didn’t do that, many also used warpaint.
Headdresses and warpaint are considered sacred in many native nations. They’re something elders earn via service and leadership. There are spiritual components associated with them as well. For someone outside the nation to wear them is an insult to those who have earned them.
For a team-sanctioned mascot to wear them and jump around in a mock war dance after a team scored is the equivalent of a Saints’ mascot jumping around the Superdome with a foam scepter and pretend to baptize people with holy water when the Saints score.
With the Blackhawks, the issue is more nuanced. According to a recent article in The Athletic (subscription required and recommended), the team has worked with local native groups to try to foster an appreciation of the culture.
The team formerly had a close relationship with the American Indian Center (AIC), a local Native American community center. The team’s website includes a history of Black Hawk, the native leader the team is ostensibly named for. The team has also worked with local tribes to present authentic performances and try to educate fans. In general, the relationship seems to be working–the article says fans generally stay away from native garb at the games.
But the AIC, under new leadership, has changed position. They believe that native names and imagery are inappropriate, period. In addition, younger members of the native nations in the Chicago area, are more likely to oppose any native imagery or names.
Florida State has a special case, too. Although the NCAA has pushed against native imagery and nicknames, the school has the Seminole nation’s blessing and input. When you see an FSU student ride out onto the field and thrust a flaming spear into the ground, the nation has okayed that.
Even that’s not clear cut, as another larger Seminole nation, this one in Oklahoma, has gone on record as opposing all native imagery and nicknames. They cite studies that show a relationship between the imagery and naming and mental and emotion issues among native children.
The naming isn’t the issue. It’s the cartoonish and disrespectful conduct among fans that come with the names. Frankly, decent people don’t show up loaded to a game and jump around like idiots wearing items that are considered sacred by other culture.
As much as I value tradition in sports, though I won’t push for these naming changes, I won’t oppose them, either.
“I may stand in front of you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.” — President Donald Trump, June 12, 2018, talking about his approach with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
That quote reverberated in my mind as I read a Rolling Stonearticle about the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 crisis. The upshot of the piece is that the administration’s culture of hubris, appearance over substance, and blame-shifting is a major contributor in the economic shutdown Trump and his core are currently railing against.
In early March, when he denied a cruise ship permission to dock, the rationale was that he “like[d] the numbers where they are.” Not that risk would increase if the people on the ship were to come ashore. He was concerned about the numbers–about the appearance, rather than the reality.
And as much as Trump will blame the fake news or the failing CDC or whoever else is handy, the President was presented with an aggressive plan on February 24. The plan was withdrawn after his strident opposition to it. Almost to the day Trump finally reversed course and declared a state of emergency, on March 13, the President downplayed the threat, in spite of the fact that the scientific community had been convinced of the threat for weeks. The article says that Trump “waved off months of harrowing intelligence briefings.”
Even the actions that were taken made things worse. When Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency on January 30, the road private industry had to take in developing a vaccine got more difficult. The emergency declaration meant that the FDA had to approve any tests, which wasn’t the case otherwise. The FDA wasn’t able to do that.
While the FDA head, Dr. Stephen Hahn, had the ability to relax those guidelines, he didn’t do that until February 29. Meanwhile the CDC test, the only option, had problems that kept it from widespread use until February 26 because there were issues with one of the three components of the test.
In short, the administration’s response to this crisis, the most important since World War II, wasn’t coordinated and was driven more by what things might look like than what’s necessary to resolve it quickly.
This blog post scratches the surface of the mismanagement, lack of vision, and incompetence of the administration. Its actions, starting at the top, are a far bigger threat to the economy and the future health of the country and its people than any overreach by Governors Whitmer, Cuomo, and Newsom.
Instead of looking for a solution to move things forward, Trump is doing what he said he’d do–finding excuses. Rather than fixing the issue, something it may be too late to do, he’s too busy roiling his base and creating a massive distraction and finding people outside himself to blame.
Donald Trump is bad for this country, and considering the economic damage being done by his fiddling, it’s not overreach to say it may cost us for decades, if not generations.
Finally, if your response to this piece is that Rolling Stone screwed up the UVa fraternity story, take it someplace else. If you want to counter the facts in the story, that’s fine. But UVa has nothing to do with this story.
Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV solved his first case 40 years ago this year, when he shot the drapper smuggler and murderer LaBulle to death in a bathroom at Honolulu Airport.
The show hadn’t found its legs yet. Magnum seemed like a bit of a frat boy. Rick ran a nightclub and thought himself a modern-day Rick Blaine. And Higgins was little more than a truculent jerk who hadn’t yet formed a bond with Magnum.
The music was even different (and totally inappropriate).
Any popular show works because the characters and story give you a reason to keep watching. Selleck’s charm carried the show early, but the other characters became indispensible. A key was softening of Higgins, from blustery idiot to surrogate father helping Magnum back from the brink of what was then referred to as delayed stress syndrome (now PTSD).
Tom Selleck never served outside a gig in the Army national guard. But Thomas Magnum was a graduate of the Naval Academy. He served as a Navy SEAL, got married in Vietnam and lost his wife–the one love of his life. He was captured, tortured, and watched multiple buddies die. His dark side, buried under Hawaiian shirt, a rubber chicken, and a constant battle with Higgins, never strayed far.
And after a view of the military dominated by M*A*S*H (in which Colonel Flagg made military intelligence an oxymoron), Magnum’s military was flawed but competent. It inefficient, sometimes uncaring, but worth of respect. For 80s television, it captured the balance between what was right and what was wrong about the military.
From what I read, it made a difference to the people who served, both men and women. One episode dealt with the post-war struggles for a former Army nurse, played by the late Marcia Strassman.
Aside from the fact that this show is way too old (40 years? really?) and still awesome, it illustrates important points, even about throwaway pop-culture “art”.
When Magnum debuted, the military–in particular Vietnam veterans–weren’t held in high esteem. As time passed, the group sins faded, too. And the stories of the people became individual and more nuanced.
Magnum helped clear the way for China Beach, and a slew of movies that showed the more nuanced truth.
If that led veterans to appreciate Magnum for showing them as something other than grotesque or cartoonish, then how can we today deny art that does the same for other populations who feel similarly marginalized?
I’m not saying you need to suddenly champion RuPaul, or cheer for the gay characters in any number of shows and movies. You don’t have to binge watch The L-Word or Ellen this weekend. But it is worthwhile to understand why, even if those characters don’t mean anything to you, they might mean something to others.
Because it’s Christma…holid…December, it’s time for the year-end tradition of getting your nose out of joint about things that shouldn’t be things. Merry Christmas v. Happy Holidays. Can we have a manger scene? Should that teacher have told those first graders the truth about Santa? Can we watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? Can we sing Baby It’s Cold Outside?
The last question is a good one to frame the overall discussion. The song was written by in 1944 a man named Frank Loesser to sing at dinner parties with his wife. In 1944, the world was a different place. Women didn’t spend the night–and you can make the argument that this woman wanted to.
But she clearly says no, and has to ask what’s in the drink?
Both of those things are true, and through 2018 eyes, specifically after the #metoo movement, they’re kind of creepy lines.
But in 1944, what’s in this drink? was it’s own kind of in joke. Often there was nothing in the drink. Or just a normal amount of alcohol. But again, this was a time when a woman couldn’t say I want to jump your friggin bones right here on the living room floor as a warm-up exercise for what comes next? And although she says no, the last line of the song is sung in unison, between the woman and the man, indicating ultimate consent.
And yet, it’s 2018. It’s a time when women have to watch their drinks, when a good father tells his daughter (I told my son, too) that if you set down your drink, consider it gone and get another one.
In other words, does intent matter?
Frank Loesser and his wife didn’t intend to sing about date rape. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t think it was about rape when it was given an Academy Award in 1949. (Ricardo Montalban was one of the people who sang it. I’ll let Star Trek fans dwell on that for a moment.)
But let’s say you got roofied and someone raped you? It wouldn’t be unreasonable for you to feel accutely uncomfortable at the lyrics, in spite of intent.
It’s been 74 years since this song was written. Times change. Norms change. But intent doesn’t change. Frank Loesser’s song is playful and flirtatious. He wasn’t writing about male predatory behavior. To make the song about date rape makes him an apologist for date rape.
Consider that, please, when someone says either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to you. Consider it when thinking about how awful Rudolph’s story is (it’s just a Christmassy version of X-Men, if you think about it).
It’s a lesson we have to keep in mind during each succeeding round of the culture wars.