No post for today as my old modem bit the dust yesterday and I don't have a real keyboard for the iPad.
Happy New Year!
Sunday, December 22, 2013
I suppose this dreary Sunday is as good as any to discuss, and perhaps put in some perspective, the latest dust up concerning the piece on Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson in next month's GQ magazine. As we all know by now, Robertson was suspended by the Arts and Entertainment Network (which probably should drop the first word of its brand name since A&E is running a show like Duck Dynasty) for certain awkward remarks about, and I paraphrase, the relative merits concerning the mechanics of gay and straight copulation, the Bible's alleged condemnation of homosexuality, how the absence of Christianity in Japan and Germany (or "no Jesus" as Robertson succinctly put it) was the putative cause of World War II, and how black folks were "happy" "pre-welfare." He also lumped gay folks in with "drunks and terrorists" as the sort of folks that he prays for.
Of course, these remarks were offensive to gay folks. They were probably offensive to drunks and terrorists as well.
This has produced the predictable firestorm of protest from Christian conservatives who claim that Robertson is being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and that his "rights to free speech" are being violated.
This of course, leads me inescapably to Nolan Richardson. You may recall that Mr. Richardson, who formerly held the Chair of Basketball at the University of Arkansas, once dared UA to fire him in a post-game interview. They obliged him.
He sued the State of Arkansas claiming that his firing was an act of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also claimed that he was fired for exercising his right to free speech under the 1st Amendment. UA claimed they fired him because his popping off damaged the basketball program. UA won.
What has this got to do with Duck Dynasty? This. And my license to practice law is up on the wall to my right as I type this. There is no such thing as "free speech." Robertson, Nolan, Sarah Palin and you and I have the 1st Amendment right to believe and say anything we want to. But the 1st Amendment does not inoculate you against the consequences of the free exercise of that right. And, the 1st Amendment can only be violated by the government. Not a cable television network.
Which brings me back to Nolan Richardson. He was fired by a governmental entity after the free and unfettered exercise of his right to hate Frank Broyles. And he lost.
But I do agree with Robertson's supporters. This situation is all about freedom. He is free to run his mouth as he sees fit. And A & E is free to discipline him according to the contract that binds them both. Paula Deen got fired by the Food Network. Alec Baldwin got cashiered by MSNBC. It happens. And the folks that are threatening to boycott the show's sponsors are free to do that.
At the end of the day, it will come down to nothing more principled than money. A & E will make the business decision on how much the backlash will hurt. The Robertson family will decide if they want to continue to do business with the network. And this will all be forgotten in 6 months.
I think the better question is why does junk like "reality TV," which is to "reality" as televangelists are to Christianity, have such a purchase on American culture? I read the GQ piece. Phil Robertson comes across more as strange and low-stupid than he does as a flat-out bigot. But who gives two hoots in Hell about Phil Robertson's opinion on anything outside of duck hunting anyway?
I mean, c'mon.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Sunday, December 08, 2013
The annual Yuletide ice storm came a little early this season. Last Friday much of the State was greeted by scenes such as the above as we were socked by another winter storm. Northwest Arkansas got a bunch of snow, here in the rest of the State we got ice. Which is the worst.
But we got lucky for once. The robo-call from Entergy last Thursday warned me to prepare for power outages lasting 5-7 days. Which made me want to catch the first thing smoking to Santa Fe or someplace equally dry. But even if I were to seriously give in to that, air travel was screwed, blued and tattooed across the West and Midwest due to what the National Weather Service euphemistically refers to as "disturbances."
Even after the dreadful Christmas of last year, it was hard to take such warnings of dire weather seriously. After all, I went for a walk with a neighbor Wednesday night. It was almost 80 and we were in shorts and shirtsleeves. The next evening I heard thunder.
Thunder in December in Little Rock is never good.
But like I said, we dodged a bullet. The temps were cold enough that we got sleet instead of freezing rain which is a "pick your poison" kind of a deal. Sleet makes the roads impassable which is a pain, especially now that we are into Day 3. Freezing rain takes down power lines.
So we had very few outages here in Pulaski County. Which is good as this meant that the basic comforts of life, namely heat and the Internet, were still obtainable. Though the area churches are mostly closed today, I have cable TV so I have access to televangelists to sustain me at this hour.
And, unlike many people who inexplicably wait until the last minute to acquire provisions,, I had gone to the grocery store and the liquor store last Tuesday or so. So I have enough groceries to last me into next week. Along about that time I went to the hardware store and bought 2 bags of ice melt crystals and 3 cans of windshield de-icer. I could probably auction them off right now.
Pain in the ass that this is, it has been nice to catch up on my reading. I've been getting calls and text messages from all over the place and that has been fun. My friends and I do running checks on each other. So far so good. Nobody has fallen or gotten a heart attack. Or lost a bunch of money on college football. That I have heard of.
We are all inconvenienced. But that's all we are. As long as we are inside our cozy homes we are allowed the luxury of forgetting how bitterly cold it is. And how dangerous it is.
I am the son of a Hoosier. My father believed that you have to de-ice a car at your earliest convenience. So I cleared a path to my vehicle with the ice-melt stuff. I fired it up and cranked up the defrosters. I sprayed the windshields. And I froze my ass off.
And it occurred to me at that time that this sort of thing is not completely necessary. Buck Bowen did not live long enough to see fuel injected engines or reliable batteries. There is little likelihood of water freezing up a fuel line as the gas we buy now is better. And unlike my father, I do not buy Chrysler products with their notoriously balky starters that I can't imagine that Chrysler has gotten around to fixing. But I can't help myself. I am the son of a Midwesterner. I de-ice the car.
I was outside for about an hour. It took me another hour and two cups of hot tea before I quit shivering. I thought of the man in the tent.
A lady walking her dog spotted a tent on the North slope in Knoop Park the other day. Another witness thought he saw a man living down there. Guys from the Park Department went down there to roust him but found nobody there.
I know that you can't have people camping in the city parks. I get that. But what a symbol of our society's inability to cope with the problem of homelessness, mental illness and grinding poverty.
Cold doesn't much bother me. And yet I could barely handle an hour of exposure to the bitter cold we are currently experiencing.
I am merely inconvenienced. The man in the tent may be dead.
I am blessed. I am fortunate. I have nothing to complain about.
And if you can read this, neither do you.