The Joke Is On Us

Lately, I’ve had to stop scrolling through Facebook so much and stop watching the news so frequently. It’s getting to me. All the hate, anger, and evil in the world. I’m not sure how much more I can take. Since Trump took office, I feel like I have been living in the twilight zone. What’s happening in our country, and around the world, is hard to comprehend. It’s difficult to believe that this is the new reality. Our reality.

At first, it was incredulity that he even got elected. We all thought it wasn’t possible, that it was a joke. It was a sure thing that Hillary Clinton would win. No need to sweat it. Well, the joke is on us.

Then it was disbelief at the Twitter rants and attacks. A President of our country would really say these things? Yep.

The President of our country really sexually assaulted those women? He said those horribly demeaning things about women and got away with it? Absolutely.

Russia hacked our elections and manipulated the outcome. Seriously? That doesn’t happen in today’s world. Apparently, it does.

45 puts well-known white supremacists in his Cabinet. We’re outraged. Shocked. But what can we do?

Build a wall is chanted far and wide, spewing hate at anyone who isn’t a white American.

Government agencies are banned from talking to the press.

“Fake News” is used against every journalist and news outlet, except Fox News and a few other extreme right-wing conspiracy sites.

Rips immigrant children from their parents at the borders, traumatizing them, claiming that this will be a deterrent for any other illegal immigrants coming into our country.

Meets with other world leaders and alienates them, berates them, abuses them, and makes America the enemy of our neighbors.

Meets with Putin and practically kisses the ground he walks on, denouncing our intelligence reports and community, that Russia is innocent. 45 may as well declare fealty to Russia. He’s already committed treason.

Need I go on? If you want a complete list of the madness, click here.

Yet, people still seem shocked that this craziness is happening. They don’t understand. They don’t get it. Even some of those who voted for him are wondering where it wrong. Well, let me tell you…it was all there in the beginning if you were willing to look at it. Willing to listen to it. Willing to open your heart and mind to understand it. Instead, you chose to be blind to the lies, to the hate, to it all. You were stuck on the party line. You were sick and tired of being the underdog in life and hoped for change. You no longer wanted to be the struggling middle class, but the man on top. You bought into the lie that we needed to “Make America Great Again.”

I get it. But was selling your soul to the devil the best way to change your circumstances? Was looking the other way worth the cost? What made you think that we stopped being great? The “Make America Great Again” slogan is a Rorschach test and Trump coasted to victory on the hope that everyone would see in it exactly what they want to see. It’s a good strategy for a campaign.

“Maybe as a country we need to focus less on “Making America Great Again” and more on making America the shining city on the hill that Ronald Reagan spoke so much about. An America where everyone has the same opportunity and access to the American dream regardless of their skin color, their gender, their sexual orientation. An America where the only thing that limits us is the size of our dreams and the intensity of our work ethic. This America doesn’t dwell on the past but looks forward to building a brighter future. It basks in the success of the past and shows an appropriate amount of shame for its errors. And it learns from its mistakes. It uses all of it as a foundation to be stronger for future generations. It’s an America that recognizes that its greatness lies not in an idealized view of the way things used to be but in adapting and adjusting to new realities.”   -Ellen McGirt

In my lifetime, I have never seen Congress, and a sitting President, so blatantly mock our Constitution. It’s especially striking that it comes from the political party that’s always lecturing us about the “rule of law”. What’s worse is that they’re getting away with it. Republicans have turned these Constitutional issues into political footballs and suckered the White House, Democrats in Congress and the news media into playing the game by their rules.

I wonder what other Constitutional mandates Congress and the President could just decide to ignore. Is it possible that the White House, the opposition party in Congress and the news media could be cowardly complacent, too frozen by fear to actually do anything to stop their overreach? It’s all “politics,” they say. Sound familiar? That’s exactly what we said when Trump’s campaign was just a joke. He won once. And could win again.

 

 

-Ellen McGirt, Why ‘Make America Great Again’ Is An Offensive Slogan

 -Tavis Smiley, Why I Fear America Could Enslave Black People Again

I Voted! Did You?

I voted. Did you?

Are you going to? I hope so! Don’t forget to vote today. Your vote does matter and it does count.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. You can make your own decisions.

I’m not going to tell you how important this Election Day is. I think you already know and understand.

There’s a lot at stake at local, state, and national levels.

What’s on my mind today? Marriage equality. Women’s rights. The War. Economy. Key seat in the Senate. The Presidency. Our future.

Take time to educate yourself on these issues, if you haven’t already. Educate yourself about your country and define what you believe and stand for.

Many polls are open until 7:00 or 8:00pm. Don’t miss it!

Be bold. Be heard. Be part of the change this country needs so desperately.

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

What’s on your mind today?

 

Freedom of Speech, Thought, and Expression

Photo Credit: Breitbart

I apologize for the here and gone post from yesterday about politics, my friends. Apparently it caused an uproar for a few who found it offensive and personally insulting (which in no way was ever my intention or purpose). I removed the post to try and ‘keep the peace.’

I am broken and worn out from defending my political views from personal attacks. I just don’t get it. But I must say, it proved my point that discussing politics, whether with friends, family, or the general public, is incredibly difficult in this day and age.

It got me thinking about free speech or freedom of expression. One of the greatest things about America is the right to speak or write our minds, our opinions, our thoughts, our views, and more regardless of how other people feel about it. We all have the right to express ourselves. (This is going to be a long one, so bear with me.)

Definitions

To clarify definitions, freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.

We also have the right to freedom of thought. Freedom of thought (also called the freedom of conscience or ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others’ viewpoints.

It is different from and not to be confused with the concept of freedom of speech or expression. Instead, ‘freedom of thought’ is the derivative of and thus is closely linked to other liberties: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression. It is a very important concept in the western world and nearly all democratic constitutions protect these freedoms.

So what’s the point of all these ‘freedoms’?

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which is legally binding on member states of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, freedom of thought is listed under Article 18:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

The Human Rights Committee states that this, “distinguishes the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief from the freedom to manifest religion or belief. It does not permit any limitations whatsoever on the freedom of thought and conscience or on the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of one’s choice. These freedoms are protected unconditionally.” Similarly, Article 19 of the UDHR guarantees that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference…”

The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that

“[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”.

Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals.”

John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) argued that without human freedom there can be no progress in science, law or politics, which according to Mill required free discussion of opinion. Mill’s On Liberty, published in 1859 became a classic defense of the right to freedom of expression. Mill argued that truth drives out falsity, therefore the free expression of ideas, true or false, should not be feared. Truth is not stable or fixed, but evolves with time. Mill argued that much of what we once considered true has turned out false. Therefore views should not be prohibited for their apparent falsity.

Mill also argued that free discussion is necessary to prevent the “deep slumber of a decided opinion”. Discussion would drive the onwards march of truth and by considering false views the basis of true views could be re-affirmed.Furthermore, Mill argued that an opinion only carries intrinsic value to the owner of that opinion, thus silencing the expression of that opinion is an injustice to a basic human right. For Mill, the only instance in which speech can be justifiably suppressed is in order to prevent harm from a clear and direct threat. Neither economic or moral implications, nor the speakers own well-being would justify suppression of speech.

In Evelyn Beatrice Hall‘s biography of Voltaire, she coined the following phrase to illustrate Voltaire’s beliefs: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Hall’s quote is frequently cited to describe the principal of freedom of speech.

In the 20th Century Noam Chomsky states that: “If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Stalin and Hitler, for example, were dictators in favor of freedom of speech for views they liked only. If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.” How can we have a balanced political world without hearing both sides? You can’t.

Freedom of Expression and Democracy

The notion of freedom of expression is intimately linked to political debate and the concept of democracy. The norms on limiting freedom of expression mean that public debate may not be completely suppressed even in times of emergency.

One of the most notable proponents of the link between freedom of speech and democracy is Alexander Meiklejohn. He argues that the concept of democracy is that of self-government by the people. For such a system to work an informed electorate is necessary. In order to be appropriately knowledgeable, there must be no constraints on the free flow of information and ideas. According to Meiklejohn, democracy will not be true to its essential ideal if those in power are able to manipulate the electorate by withholding information and stifling criticism. Meiklejohn acknowledges that the desire to manipulate opinion can stem from the motive of seeking to benefit society. However, he argues, choosing manipulation negates, in its means, the democratic ideal.

Suppression of these ‘freedoms’

The obvious difficulty in censoring thought is that it is impossible to know with certainty what the other person is thinking, and harder to regulate it. However, freedom of expression can be limited through censorship, arrests, book burning, or propaganda, and this tends to discourage freedom of thought.

Examples of effective campaigns against freedom of expression are the Soviet suppression of genetics research in favor of a theory known as Lysenkoism, the book burning campaigns of Nazi Germany, the Slovakian law to sentence anyone who denies Armenian genocide up to 5 years in prison, the radical anti-intellectualism enforced in Cambodia under Pol Pot, the strict limits on freedom of expression imposed by the Communist governments of the Peoples Republic of China and Cuba or by right wing authoritarian dictatorships such as those of Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Francisco Franco in Spain.

Freedom of expression can also be stifled without institutional interference when majority views become so widely accepted, or enforced, that the entire culture represses dissenting views. For this reason, some condemn political correctness as a form of limiting freedom of thought. Although political correctness aims to give minority views equal representation, the majority view itself can be politically correct; for example, college student Max Karson was arrested following the Virginia Tech shootings for politically incorrect comments that authorities saw as “sympathetic to the killer.” Karson’s arrest raised important questions regarding freedom of thought and whether or not it applies in times of tragedy.

But keep in mind hate speech is not part of freedom of speech.

My Thoughts

This discourse with my friends devolved because it was about primarly LGBT issues. I won’t post a huge thought here about this, other than to say I won’t be censored just because someone else disagrees or doesn’t like my opinion.

Instead, I want to direct you to another blog – Matthew Phelps, a distinguished and honored United States Marine who also happens to be gay. He is author of the blog, Work in Progress. He posted specifically about this issue as he has had the same problem. He ‘read my mind’ and I couldn’t say it any better what he has already said.

Here’s the direct link to the post: http://matthewphelps.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/facebook-and-politics/#more-448

I encourage you to read his post, even read his entire blog. You’ll truly be moved by his journey.

And I hope that this will help you think twice before attacking someone for their beliefs and opinions when they are different than your own. Or help you defend someone when you see it happening to them. Remember, America is all about freedom.

 Source for history: Wikipedia

Are You Ready to Make Some Waves?

I watch day in and day out the bickering, sniping, and spats between political sides, not only from politicians, but between friends and family, during this presidential campaign and it fills me with sadness for our humanity. We think we have come so far when, in reality, it’s just another form of racism. It’s just another battle of diversity. What happened if we all started working towards a solution instead of blaming each other for the problem? I bet the world might change!

Imagine that….

Two posts that I read today echoed my thoughts about the whole damn mess. Brice Maiurro, blogger at Flashlight City Blues, was poignant in his hope for humanity and how we’re missing the crucial point.

i know there’s a big battle going on out there for the american throne, but while people are out there trying to choose coke or pepsi, trying to sway the wind in the direction they prefer, i think we’re missing out on something important. sometimes i think we get so hooked on foreign policy, we forget the most miniscule of domestic policy. how to talk to one another. i’m not the first one to say it, and i won’t be the last.

It’s as though Civil War breaks out every four years with the presidential election. The system’s broke and crying out, “Fix me! Heal me! Hear me!” There is so much senseless bloodshed, tears given, hearts broken, angry words thrown that instead of paying attention, I want to bury my head in the sand. But I can’t and I shouldn’t and I won’t. It’s not a luxury you and I can afford.

Maiurro has a unique and refreshing proposition – what about 4 or 5 people running for the presidency? There are ideas, thoughts, movements for change that are not being heard in our country because of the duopoly of the Democratic/Republican system. Maiurro thinks it’s time to “mix things up a bit.” I agree. The system is broken and needs to be rebuilt.

Susan Daniels shared a free verse poem titled, “for my neighbor with the nobama sign,” at her blog, Susan Daniels PoetryA striking, moving piece of work that highlights the crumbling political system. It has become more than just two parties debating…it is now all-out war, and we are in the middle of the fight.

but this place where violence swallows speech
or speech is lost in fists cannot be my country
can it? do we need peacekeepers
to count our ballots & defend our polls?…

…but bullets through windows

or beating a man for his Romney sign
is not speech, or an issue of right or left

& again i am back to that line of blood
between voice & crime, treason

or incitement to treason

that line that is not politics but hate running loose
where guns & fists strike more pointed blows than fingers
flipping levers lightly behind drawn curtains,
such a simple thing, with more weight than blood & lead

Seems the demise of politics is striking a chord among the people. Maybe instead of assuming they know what we want, the politicians should actually listen. And we should listen and HEAR each other. It’s the least we can do to stem the tide of blood, before our humanity is completely lost.

Are we crazy for thinking we can change the world? Of course! But without the so-called crazies, the world will never change.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Sound familiar? It should…courtesy of our acting President. Regardless of what you believe or feel about Obama, he’s right about change. And you know it. Now all we have to do is live up to it.

As Mother Teresa put it, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Are you ready to make some waves?