Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category
I tweeted about this earlier today, but if you missed it, Cracker Barrel initially said it was going to remove Duck Dynasty merchandise from its stores after Phil Robertson’s noxious comments on gays and black people, but only 48 hours later reneged on the decision claiming that it had learned the error of its ways by displeasing its customers.
Here is the entirety of the statement, which was posted on the Cracker Barrel’s Facebook page. It has more than 21,000 comments, most of which are drivel:
Dear Cracker Barrel Customer:
When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done.
You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong.
Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores.
And, we apologize for offending you.
We respect all individuals right to express their beliefs. We certainly did not mean to have anyone think different.
We sincerely hope you will continue to be part of our Cracker Barrel family.
The part about offending its customers by pulling the merchandise is particularly shameful. What about the millions of homosexuals Robertson offended when he more or less compared the human love and affection of consenting adults to bestiality? What about the millions of blacks Robertson offended with his idyllic and inaccurate portrait of the segregated South?
In short, Cracker Barrel seems more concerned with kowtowing to its bigoted customer base rather than fighting bigotry itself. Oh that’s right: Without the bigots, Cracker Barrel would be out of business.
As I’m sure many are at this point, I too am really tired of this Duck Dynasty nonsense, so I’m not going to spend much time on this. Frankly, the show, and its controversial patriarch, have already garnered much more attention that they deserve, and I’m surprised reality television as a genre hasn’t flamed out by now, much less produced a show about hicks operating a damn duck call fabrication business.
But here we are.
Phil Robertson’s comments during the infamous GQ interview let us know that clearly there is still a divide in America, and as this article points out, there are essentially two camps: those who think what Robertson said about homosexuality was somehow acceptable, presumably from a Christian worldview, and those who think comparing homosexuality to bestiality is reprehensible.
I wasn’t terribly surprised but nonetheless disappointed by the number of people on Facebook, usually crowing something irrelevant about free speech (a person working for a private company can’t just say whatever they want with impunity) who were ready to defend his comments. Again, not surprisingly, I didn’t see any nonreligious heterosexuals defending him; just the religious, which makes a strong case that once someone is indoctrinated to view homosexuals as immoral or even depraved, the door is then open to push the buck further to view them, our fellow human beings, as subhuman. And this is, if it can be called anything else, is immoral, but it’s exactly what Robertson was hinting at in his comments and what I and fellow humanists find so reproachful.
Tressie McMillan Cottom has an excellent column up on Slate today about teaching structural racism in college and the general and unfortunate trend to run academia, including what happens in the classroom, like a business.
Essentially, Minneapolis Community and Technical College Shannon Gibney, an English and African diaspora studies professor, was reprimanded after more than one complaint of discrimination by white students who said they felt uncomfortable when learning about structural racism.
Of course, white students should feel uncomfortable when talking about race in the classroom, whether it’s historical or modern. And since when does being uncomfortable about a topic equal discrimination?
Just a few feet from both Tillman Hall, named for the flaming racist who helped found Clemson University, and the Strom Thurmond Institute, named for the South Carolina senator who was staunch proponent of segregation (It’s no coincidence, I don’t think, that directly above the institute, the sidewalk is designed in the shape of the Confederate flag), I took a class titled, “Whiteness in America,” and during that semester, I was quite uncomfortable to learn that in subtle and sometimes subconscious ways, whites have used color to their distinct advantage. As a native of the South, I was made to come to terms with the real possibility — many of my fellow students were met with the same sobering reality — that some of my descendants either had servants, indentured or otherwise, or were otherwise rabidly opposed to equality and may have harbored an irrational dislike or fear of black people.
To come to this realization as a 19-year-old is far from settling, but as Cottom points out, that often defines the educational process:
Learning is—should often be—uncomfortable for individuals. When universities have a mission to serve the public good, they balance the needs of individuals with benefits to society and the power of the majority against the humanity of the minority.
And running a college like a business directly defeats the purpose of both:
When colleges and universities become a market, there is no incentive to teach what customers would rather not know. When colleges are in the business of making customers comfortable, we are all poorer for it.
This is where the rubber meets the road for studies in racism and social equality, evolution, gender studies and other potentially controversial topics. The beautiful thing about college — and this is why I personally look back on those years with fondness — is the sheer number of “wow” moments that are pregnant in each lecture or classroom discussion. If students are going to college just to have their previously formed opinions affirmed, they shouldn’t bother picking up the first book, and colleges do them, and all of us, a disservice if they only reinforce what students might want to know about the nature of our world versus other truths that might rattle their cage.
This is a time lapse map of every nuclear detonation that has taken place on Earth between 1945-1998. Two guesses as to which nation leads the pack.
For all its feel-good Hollywood charm, “Free Willy” was in fact a shamefully ironic movie since the whale that was used to tell a story about a freed orca was himself being held in captivity. His name was Keiko.
Although Keiko did not experience a terribly successful reintegration program, as he only lived about five years in the wild, pieces like the video below and the recent CNN special, “Blackfish,” continue to keep the issue of captive killer whales in the public’s conscience.
After watching “Blackfish,” one can’t help but feel equal amounts of sadness and anger that such social and emotive creatures essentially have their personalities lulled into robotism and isolationism so we humans can be entertained. SeaWorld, of course, claims it’s making important contributions in “education and science” by keeping orcas and other animals in captivity by, presumably, studying them, while at the same time failing to admit they are exploiting animals for profit.
For what it’s worth, SeaWorld officials would have helped their case mightily had they agreed to an on-camera interview with CNN to tell their side of the story. As “Blackfish” reports, SeaWorld refused multiple attempts at interviews.
For further reading, here is SeaWorld’s response to the film, along with some documents that supposedly show their instructive work at the parks.
I wonder what will happen with the Tea Party when Obama leaves office and none of the over the top alarmist warnings come to fruition about impending doom and an American socialist state.
Will they just latch on to some other wild conspiracies or will they disappear into oblivion? I hope for the latter but will bet on the former.
At least Mayor Rob Ford has finally decided to come clean about his apparently insatiable urge for narcotics, alcohol and adventure. How many public servants would confess to such a serious allegation?
Note: The beginning of this post originally read, “At least Mayor Rob Ford is honest about his …” activities. After a comment from a reader and even though this post was more or less tongue in cheek anyway, I realized that describing the man as “honest” in this case was too strong and too laudatory since he has spent the last several months denying claims that he, indeed, smoked crack cocaine in a drunken stupor. I maintain that most politicians would deny such a serious claim to the grave or just resign. I’m guessing Ford’s admission was a calculated political move, and say what you want about his character, it’ll probably pay off. Thanks to Fil Salustri for calling me on this one.
The rollout, especially the website, has been a boondoggle for sure, but people are being dropped from coverage because their old health insurance policies don’t measure up to the standards of Obamacare, which means the people that were dropped had bad policies to begin with, whether they realized it or not.
Obama should be embarrassed that he said time and again, “If you like your coverage you can keep it,” but the fact is, the folks who were dropped had shit policies from the start. America either joins the scores of nations (Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Portugal, Greece, South Korea, Taiwan, the Netherlands and Switzerland) that have instituted some form of universal health care or we become satisfied with the status quo.
One hundred ninety-three or 195 or 200, give or take, and depending on who you ask:
Now that the Republicans have sufficiently embarrassed themselves while managing to embarrass the country with their dangerous game of brinkmanship, it’s safe to say, as does this New York Times blog post, the strategy of using the federal default to win political battles in Washington is probably all but dead in the water, much like the GOP will be if it doesn’t purge itself of the Tea Party and toe a somewhat more moderate line a la Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
In addition to appearing not only unprofessional but sophomoric in their attempts to hold the government hostage until their demands were met, Republicans in the House also looked incredibly weak since the strategy, as we all know now, failed and failed miserably. President Obama and the Democrats were not going to flinch on defunding Obamacare, a bill that was considered, vetted and passed by a democratically elected House and Senate and upheld by the Supreme Court.