I may end up writing a whole series of posts on this topic – we’ll see how it goes – but in spending a lot of time over the last couple of days thinking about how both our election process as well as the day-to-day democracy in general could be improved, I feel like a BIG AREA that is ripe for improvement … though I admittedly don’t know exactly what these improvements are … is around the area where a lot of folks from both sides of the aisle have been pointing their fingers – the media.

Especially here in the age of information where groups of all sizes, individuals, and even people just creating memes can be “news sources” for people online, it seems like it’s more difficult than ever to get information in front of people that’s unbiased and factual…

For those who still get their news from TV, it doesn’t help that more likely rely on commentators than actual reporters – arguably because that’s what happens when you’ve got 24 hours to fill with coverage without 24 hours of legitimate reporting coverage to offer.

And for those who get their news from the Internet … whoa boy! Where to even start?! Almost every site sways one way or the other, some quite blatantly so, some are deliberately just spreading fake news and not with humorous intent like I do, and social media can be an absolute mess – as Facebook is currently arguing right now – with regards to best distributing the posts of the users while also taking care not to promote false and defamatory content along the way.

I certainly won’t go so far as to say that online and especially social media doesn’t still offer news value, however I think it’s reasonable to say that regardless of format, what the American people need more than ever is news outlets who can be relied upon to report the news and do it fairly, accurately, and reliably … which admittedly gets tricky in this divided country that we currently live because right now so many people want their news slanted the way that they do, which just exacerbates the problem of having highly polarized news outlets catering to party lines instead of ones down the middle that report on the entire landscape equally.

Even when we have those professional sources to fall back on, that still doesn’t help the fact that far too many Americans literally get their “news” from soundbites and memes and Facebook shares where they don’t even necessarily read the article as much as they allow themselves to get riled up by the headlines that show up in their news feeds as they scroll for the next issue that queues up in their social media echo chamber.

really don’t know how you ween people off of unreliable social media “sources,” but I’ve got to think that it starts with having solid, reliable news sources for both sides that you can point people to as an alternative.

Right now I hate the idea that in a way people are really able to “choose their own facts” because each side has their networks and websites that lean in their directions which reliably contradict the other side, so it’s easy enough to just label the other side as liars whenever any conflict comes up and they’ve almost automatically got “news sources” that they can point to in support of their position whether in reality something is really actually true or not.

We need to get past this desire to spin every story in the direction of the target audience and instead be able to rely on our media to report the news in the best manner fit to serve the facts that are actually present.

I think only when we can get the people back to a point where both sides can trust a single news source collectively instead of their own niche versions can we expect them to really come together and realize that maybe the two parties’ beliefs aren’t all that different after all. But as long as people have their own version of the truth to point back to, we’re never going to get anywhere.

In short – there’s only one true version of fact, and we need to be able to rely on our news media to deliver that information to the people.

Day #2 – A Trumped Stream of Consciousness…

November 11, 2016 2:14am
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Last night’s post really blew up on Facebook in ways that I didn’t intend. I purposely made it public instead of using off my No Politics filter and the result was a lot of name calling and fighting, and even a really nasty exchange with my Dad.

It still shocks me how anyone could look at so many examples of violence and hate and have their first response be anything other than shock and disgust.

That said, late this evening it was reported that one of the stories about a Muslim woman getting her Hijab torn off was fabricated, and I fear that people will use that example to assume that every last story they hear must also be false.

I refuse to believe that.

It’s also been hard for me to process people arguing that the protests taking place are “just sore losers” and not a legitimate voice worth listening to. If nothing else, our own Constitution guarantees people the Freedom to Assemble, and though it doesn’t condone any violence or destruction of property, I think compared to people actually getting hurt in the name of racism/sexism/etc… it’s a minor concern at best.

That said, with all of the negativity and fear being harbored, I’ve found comfort in a smaller group of likeminded friends and family whom I respect and trust on social media – many of whom are also struggling with how to process everything that’s taking place – and it’s nice to see that there are others who also deem what’s taking place to be something serious that shouldn’t just be swept under the rug.

I also took a lot of comfort in this compilation of stories from teachers about how they’ve addressed their students’ responses to Trump’s election from pretty much all grade levels. As much as I worry about youth hearing the horrible things that are being said and parroting them, the fact that many children identify that this sort of behavior is wrong and are willing to help support one another across demographic barriers gives me hope.

And finally, in that same story I came across a quote by Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu that I liked quite a bit:

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

As I walked through Walmart late this evening, I found myself reminding myself that there are so many good people still in the world – complete and total strangers, with no idea how or if they even voted – and it made me think of the things that I can do to help try to see that light among the darkness…

  • Be kind to people, especially those who I’ve never met … because why not?
  • Heaven forbid I witness something, be the person who steps forward to call out bigotry and not the one who turns a blind eye.
  • Don’t allow myself to become complacent should these bad stories continue to surface.
  • Use this passion for what’s right to make good art, whether it’s humor or editorials or just my own processing, and encourage my colleagues who strive to do the same.
  • Look for the best in people, in society, in our future, even when all signs point to chaos. Have faith in America.

This is disgusting – a collection of the abuse shared by minorities from Trump supporters only a day after he is elected president – as found on social media…

A Muslim American is confronted by a woman in Walmart who pulls off her Hijab and tells her, “These aren’t allowed anymore, so go hang yourself with it around your neck, not your head.”

A group of white men on the subway sees a woman by herself in a dress and joke about “grabbing her by the pussy,” and one physically tries to do so as she walks by. She yells as they laugh it off until the group is kicked off the subway by some onlookers.

An African-American woman in Indiana is approached by some white men in a truck and taunted, “Fuck you, nigger bitch. Trump is going to deport you back to Africa.”

A Muslim woman in Louisiana is assaulted by two men and has her Hijab and wallet stolen.

A woman is presumed Hispanic when she has a cup of water thrown in her face by an older white man after he tells her, “I can’t wait until Trump asks us to rape your people and send you back over the biggest damn wall we’re going to build. Go back to hell, wet back.”

An African-American woman in Michigan is taunted by a group of men while pumping gas, “Yeah, we were talking to you, nigger – go back to Africa, Trump doesn’t want you here!”

A woman in Philadelphia finds her car graffitied with “Trump Rules” and “Black Bitch.”

A Muslim woman at San Diego State University is assaulted by two white men making derogatory comments about the Muslim community as they take her purse and backpack, and then proceed to steal her car.

An African-American woman is confronted in line by two men, “I’m so glad Trump won. Now all the niggers can go back to where they came from. Y’all don’t belong here. You shouldn’t even be able to vote.”

A gay man finds a note left on his car that reads, “Can’t wait until your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. #Trump2016 #REPENT #GODBLESS”

Multiple stances of school kids as young as kindergarteners teasing their Hispanic and Latino classmates about getting sent back to Mexico.

A Hispanic boy is beaten by his classmates and told they can’t wait until Trump deports him. When reported to the police, they deem it a school matter and do nothing.

Many of these stories were shared via @ShaunKing on Twitter, though I can imagine that even more occurred that weren’t shared at all…

Samantha Bee is WONDERFUL

October 12, 2016 1:32am
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It may be a day late, but Samantha Bee’s entire show addressing Trump’s pussy-grabbin’ antics is absolutely fabulous. I don’t think I’ve ever watched her standalone show before, but after this I may have to set my DVR or whatever to watch…

No punches pulled, which is what any presidential candidate deserves … much less Donald Trump. 😛

I don’t think that I caught this when it was first released last Christmas, but boy is it joyful to watch!

President Obama is definitely the coolest president we’ve ever had… 😉

When I saw this particular ad from Hillary earlier this summary, I couldn’t help but agree with it … though admittedly she’s already had my vote for a thousand other reasons, so I didn’t really give it a whole lot of thought beyond that…

…until today I came across this article reporting that the NEA suggests that Donald Trump’s campaigning is posing a negative effect on children, particularly with regards to bullying on the playground, citing examples of Latino kids getting bullied by their classmates about “deportation” and talking about “President Trump’s wall.”

I feel like this is an important topic worth discussing because despite my oldest son only being 2.5, we’re already desperately making changes in how we talk around our house to try to prevent one of his favorite words from being “Shit!” It’s no secret that children’s minds are impressionable and even if they don’t understand the complicated subject matters at hand, they still pick up on keywords and heated emotions that you might not necessarily want parroted back at you in the grocery store or when your relatives are over for a visit.

One particular example specific to politics sticks out in my mind from the last election cycle after President Obama defeated Mitt Romney and got re-elected for his second term. The child, who will go unnamed, was absolutely devastated that Romney lost and spent god knows how long bawling about how “our country was doomed” because Obama had won his re-election.

It’s worth noting that his parents were both clearly Republicans, though I haven’t a clue just how vocal they were about their political choices in front of their child, but regardless, I think it’s safe to say that ten year-olds shouldn’t have a political affiliation whatsoever!!!

I was only vaguely aware of politics even though most of high school when we started taking classes about government, and it probably wasn’t until the Monica Lewinsky scandal was everywhere in 1998 during my senior year that I even partially began paying attention … most likely at that point just for the giggles – I couldn’t have told you about any of Clinton’s actual policies to save my life…

Granted, I grew up in a household where politics wasn’t really on the forefront of anybody’s minds, whereas now thanks to social media we have the opportunity to get all riled up about politics pretty much 24×7. And that’s a problem for all sorts of other reasons, too, but with regards to parenting I think we might need a reminder not only that our kids are always listening, but also learning from how we debate and discuss our political beliefs…

…and if you’re the kind of person who tends to get most of their information from Facebook posts and soundbites – that might not be the kind of learning that you really want your child to be exposed to!

Now it goes without saying that I think Donald Trump is a horrible choice for president and any number of things that he’s said would get any of my kids’ mouths washed out with soap if I ever heard about them getting said out on the playground at school, but I also think that we need to be aware of the things we say because our kids are listening to those words, too, and who does a child learn to emulate first but his own Mom and Dad?

When you rave about how Obama is ruining the country and how these libtards don’t know freedom from the hole in their asses … that’s an example of respect, or lack thereof, for your children to learn.

When you polarize your views based only on a candidate’s failings and ignore the legitimate things that they’ve accomplished in their career … that’s an example of blind politics and a failure to find the good in other people.

And when you brush off racist and sexist remarks because you think that political correctness is a blight on our nation’s future … you’re giving a pass to your own kids to treat other people the same way, and maybe they don’t see it like just a joke as you claim to view such behavior yourself.

Parenting over the last couple of years has taught me that we have to be more aware of our surroundings because it’s never quite as cute and hilarious when it’s your own kid running around the living room shouting, “Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!!!” when you’ve got company over, and heaven forbid it becomes a habit that resurfaces sometime when they’re in church or school! 😯

So not only do we have to watch our own behavior, but seeing that we can’t exactly control the behavior of the politicians that we follow and support, it does beg the question of why they deserve our support if they can’t serve as good role models while running for the highest office in the land.

Food for Thought – 20% of the US population is under the age of 15 – which candidate would you rather they learn how to treat their peers from???

From the video game lyric’ing brilliance of Brentalfloss comes this delightful, holiday tune about the Presidential candidate who speaks his mind, which apparently is usually filled with mostly asshole thoughts that sadly a surprising percentage of our voting public relates to. Whether this crazy billionaire actually becomes the president that America probably deserves next year or not, at least we have this song to dwell on in the meantime … Mr. Grinch. 😛

How do you bridge the divide…?

November 12, 2015 9:09pm
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Whether it’s conservative/liberal, young/old, religious/atheist, black/white, or any combination thereof, we’re as divided of a society as we’ve ever been and any random look at comments on Facebook hints that the situation if anything is certainly getting worse, not better.

No doubt the issue will be front and center like it usually is at Thanksgiving dinner tables around the country here in a couple weeks, and I don’t know about you but believe it or not, I don’t want to fight with my family! I want us all to laugh and eat and talk about interesting things and challenge each other with new ways of thinking but without calling names … so how do we actually bridge that divide?

I admittedly don’t have the answer to this, but I think part of it starts in trying to understand where the other side is coming from. Of course, this too can be hard because my explanation for why someone might think the way they do might make sense to me, though it isn’t necessarily a settling one for the other party…

For example, I sincerely believe for better and for worse that a lot of the differences between me and my relatives back home stems simply from population and exposure – it’s hard for some people to really get their arms around the problems that black people face in America today when they live in a small town that’s less than 1% black. Nobody wants to be told that they’re racist, but when you make a joke about hanging a black man from a Christmas tree because you honestly don’t understand how absolutely horrible of a “joke” that really is, limited exposure to people who are different than you is one way that helps to explain why you might think the way that you do.

I think the real challenge here, however, is then breaking out of that mold to widen one’s own world view – even if it’s merely around the turkey-laden dinner table – because we’re all guilty of settling in with those who think and act the same ways that we do. It makes sense because it’s safer, but when people who only subscribe to one political party’s mentalities only interact with each other and don’t co-mingle with the other side of the coin, it just builds those walls up higher and stronger and the divide seemingly becomes even further ingrained.

People get defensive because they’re so used to only talking to other people that agree with them that an opposing opinion suddenly comes off as hostile, to the point where actually hostile comments start to get lost in the crossfire, and from there an honest debate seems pretty much impossible.

Several things really need to happen…

  • Both sides need to be willing to come to the table.
  • Both sides need to be open for debate and to legitimately hear the other side’s opinions.
  • Likewise, both sides also really need to understand their own opinions so that they can articulate them to the other side without resorting to ad hominem attacks.

I don’t even think that both sides need to be willing to change their opinions, although it certainly makes intellectual discourse easier, but hearing and acknowledging the other side is critical to actually having a discussion where both people can walk away feeling good at the end of it all.

There are some things that two sides will never see eye to eye on – take homosexuality, for example. I myself stand very firmly in the realm of equal rights as an extension of civil rights, whereas I know people who draw their lines based on their religious beliefs, and some more that are in between on the various nuances that make up just this one complex issue. And that’s ok, at least between two people, though it gets muddier when we have to look at the larger picture and how society is going to treat homosexuals in the 21st century.

But that’s how we get there is by sitting down and spelling out the differences, and figuring out where we disagree and where we surprisingly might actually agree a little after all.

And it’s hard, and all of those divisors give us plenty of fuel to not make that effort and to instead bunker down and fling poo over the wall at the crazies on the other side … which can be amusing for a little while, but ultimately isn’t very productive because it’s hard to walk away from the table feeling good about yourself when either one of you is covered in poo. And not everyone is going to feel like it’s worth the effort, and some people will make you wish that you’d never even tried, but you have to try anyways because division is bad and in the end we all have a lot that we can learn from each other.

Sometimes it just takes shutting up for a while to stop and hear what the other person has to say…

…even though occasionally it may turn out that the other person is just a crazy racist Donald Trump supporter… 😉

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for this former banner of the south, first brought into the news by a single flag flying over the South Carolina capitol to be followed by some of the biggest retailers in the country following suit to remove merchandise bearing the symbol from their shelves as well.

And a lot of folks who’ve always been fans of the flag have been particularly pissed, citing everything from censorship to heritage and southern pride…

So I wanted to vent a few thoughts about this because I passed a couple of huge trucks on the road today – one with the Stars & Stripes hanging from the back and the other with the Confederate flag, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes because while the last couple of weeks have caused a lot of us to rethink how tolerant we are of seeing this emblem around us, there are clearly still others – and there will always be others – who only see what they want to see.

First of all, the easy part of the equation – the flag flying above the state capitol in SC … it doesn’t belong there. The south lost the Civil War over 150 years ago and represents, if nothing else, a subset of the union that tried to secede from the United States of America. A state can’t claim to be united when it still flies a symbol of treason over its capital.

Now as for the private sector’s perspective on the Confederate flag, that’s where it gets interesting because sure, freedom of speech protects anyone who wants to fly or sell the flag even if it may be dated and controversial, yet here we see the free market at work where major players like Amazon and Walmart have also made the decision where it might not pay – this time with their own bottom line – to sell these types of products.

And I know that a lot of people like to write things like this off as our society simply being too politically correct, but I think there’s more to it than that because our history is littered with changes in public perception as society has evolved to rule out things that it no longer deems acceptable – be it prohibition, slavery, women’s suffrage, etc… What some are calling politically correct equates to others saying, “You know what? We used to turn a blind eye to that in the past, but it’s not cool and we shouldn’t be doing that anymore.”

We’re seeing it very much forming a critical mass with gay marriage right now. There were still gay people who wanted equal rights decades earlier, however at the time society was more willing to look the other way while those individuals were treated as second class citizens in many respects by their fellow citizens. And while we’re certainly not there yet, the tides have at least turned enough on that front where majorities are speaking up and denouncing the treatment of their gay friends and family members as something that isn’t right and needs to change.

Waving the Confederate flag around really isn’t any different, and so while a bunch of people still somehow see that flag as the banner of the rebel and tattoo it on their skin as a symbol of pride, another subset is willing to consider the entire story and admit that maybe it’s not something to be as proud about as others would like to think, especially considering racial tensions that still bleed strong throughout our country.

So personally I think that anyone who chooses has every right to fly the Confederate flag should they like, with the exception of government buildings where its tainted history simply has no place, but that doesn’t mean I’m still disposed to turning a blind eye to seeing it on pick-up trucks and t-shirts and every other redneck icon that they carry so proudly. That flag has a lot more to do with than just Lynyrd Skynyrd and Budweiser and the Dukes of Hazzard just like gay marriage is a lot more than just a couple of queers flaunting their sexuality, and in the last couple of weeks I think more than anything we’ve heard segments of the public starting to call bullshit on all of that.

Because the thing is, eventually we’re going to have to shed those losing anthems of a period long behind us if we truly want to move forward as a society – a society that can honestly say that racism no longer divides us as it once did. Coming from a time when it was literally cool to keep other people as slaves, I would like to think that this would be a little more obvious than it’s proving to be, but what can I say?

Getting 350 million people all on the same page is tough and collectively as a country we’re still pretty young, but at least we’re learning … albeit slowly.

I just watched the last five or ten minutes of An Inconvenient Truth because I stumbled upon it on Showtime and I was kind of itching to watch it the other night. I wrote a lot of papers about environmental awareness in high school and college … or rather, I turned in one really awesome paper over and over again … but either way, I particularly love the list of ways that everyone can change their lives to better our environment that runs over this song in the credits at the end of the film.

My favorite one of them all…

Vote for leaders who pledge to solve this crisis.

Write to Congress. If they don’t listen, run for Congress.

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