Let the Flag Fly

During a recent episode of The Tony Kornheiser Show, the crew was discussing the neighborhood that (now) Vice President Mike Pence had moved into for the transition between the election and inauguration on January 20, 2017. Apparently, the neighborhood was not exactly happy about the views of their new temporary neighbors.

In their own form of protest, the residents “decorated” the neighborhood with rainbow flags, showing their solidarity with the LBGT community.

As they discussed this story, they stated that they believe it is acceptable if people protest him at his work, but his house and home should be “off limits”. They went on to say that he (and his family) deserve the right to peace at their home.

And I have to say, I could not disagree more.

When someone makes part of their “work” to disenfranchise an entire community solely based on their sexual orientation, and then hide their own bigotry behind “religious freedom”, I believe they should be subject to protest wherever they are. As long as it’s not against the law, any protest should be perfectly acceptable.

Why should he have peace when he actively tries to take it away from others?

What’s in a word?

Brian asked me a question this evening that I didn’t quite know how to answer:

“Why is using the word ‘fuck’ so bad?”

Hmmm, ok.

Let’s see.

I could explain the idea of social norms to him. We could talk about “polite society” and why it’s not “proper” to use “bad” words in public. And let that be the end of it.

I could do all of that.

But I wouldn’t be answering his actual question. His question was “Why?”

So I started thinking…

Why is using the word ‘shit’ any worse than ‘crap’ any worse than ‘bad’?

“That statement is bullshit.”
“That statement is crap.”
“That statement is bad.”

The last one is fine. The first one is not so. And yet, all three of them are simply syllables that form words. Why are they any different?

The real difference is the meaning to which we give these words. It is a tangible example of how we define ourselves as a (collective) people. As well as who we are as individuals. How we have agreed to live and communicate.

If we deem the word ‘shit’ as bad, then we have all agreed that its usage is discouraged because of its “bad”-ness.

The best example I can think of is the use of the word ‘nigger’. In the worst usage, it is a (terrible) slur against African Americans and, really, any people of color. But think about it this way. It’s only a slur when used in a certain context by a certain group of people.

If that word is used by a certain homogeneous group of like-minded individuals, its usage is not considered bad or hurtful. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“What up, my nigger?” is something that I have heard by (African American) friends addressing each other. Its usage denotes a sense of oneness, a togetherness, that is shared by those individuals within that group. It’s used in a loving manner, not a hateful one. It’s accepted. And it’s accepted because those within that group have agreed that its usage with one another is acceptable.

Conversely, when used in an entirely different homogeneous group of like-minded individuals (let’s use the KKK as an example here), its usage denotes a sense of hatred and revulsion. And it’s for the same reason. The individuals within that group have all agreed and accepted the fact that the word means something “bad”.

A less polarizing example would be the word ‘love’. We all understand that the use of the word ‘love’ denotes a deeper connection, a deeper sentiment than the use of the word ‘like’. Why? They’re just words, right? But they mean what they mean because we have given them that meaning.

So what did I end up telling Brian about using the word ‘fuck’?

I told him that we, as a group of people, as a society, have determined that the word ‘fuck’ is not to be used in public. It is impolite in an improper context.

And why?

Basically, because WE said so.

Causes Of Stuttering 2017

Causes Of Stuttering 2017: Speech Disorder May Be Triggered By Reduced Blood Flow In Brain Region Linked To Language, Scientists Find

Nervousness and anxiety can get the best of us when we’re talking on the phone or speaking in front of a crowd. Words start to come out in fragments as we falter, halt, and hesitate to repeat ourselves to sound more clear. This may be triggered by a bad case of the nerves for some of us, but for over 3 million Americans in the United States, stuttering interferes with daily life.

It’s an everyday struggle, even without the nervousness and anxiety…

The American President (1995)

The American President (1995)

Tomorrow morning the White House is sending a bill to Congress for it’s consideration. It’s White House Resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a twenty percent reduction of the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming. The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today, it no longer exists. I’m throwing it out. I’m throwing it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and hand guns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door to door if I have to, but I’m gonna convince Americans that I’m right, and I’m gonna get the guns.

I can’t even imagine a president being able to say something like this now. This movie was released in 1995, made in 1994, and probably written years earlier. Our country has (fundamentally) changed. We don’t believe in common sense anymore. We don’t even believe in facts anymore. Everything is so unbelievably partisan.

The last scene in the movie shows President Shepherd walking into the House of Representatives chamber prepared to deliver the State of the Union. I can’t imagine Donald Trump walking into that chamber. I can’t imagine him standing in front of Congress, and giving us (the American people) an update on the state of our country. Not from someone who views his presidency as a gameshow.

We (collectively) are lost.

‘We’re the Only Plane in the Sky’

‘We’re the Only Plane in the Sky’
by Garrett M. Graff
September 09, 2016

A wonderful recounting of one of the worst days in our nation’s history, told from a variety of perspectives. A true must-read…

A few thoughts I had while reading:

  • This is President George W. Bush’s chief of staff Andy Card:

    “I really think President Bush—I know President Bush took office on January 20, 2001—but the responsibility of being president became a reality when I whispered in his ear. I honestly believe as he contemplated what I said, I took an oath. Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. It’s not cutting taxes, it’s not No Child Left Behind, it’s not immigration, it’s the oath. When you pick a president, you want to pick a president who can handle the unexpected. This was the unexpected. That’s what the president was wrestling with that day. He recognized the cold reality of his responsibilities.”

    I can’t imagine Trump being a serious person. Not in the way that is needed to be the president. I just cannot. Believe me, my views of W. are easily noted as not being favorable, but I can absolutely see him as a serious man. I will miss that come late January. I am truly fearful of this.

  • As someone who loves (and prefers) wearing jeans, I do love this rule that Bush had for the White House:

    “Karen Hughes, communications director, White House: September 10th was my anniversary, so I had stayed back in Washington. I was scheduled to do a Habitat for Humanity event with [Secretary of Housing and Urban Development] Mel Martinez that required us to wear blue jeans. President Bush didn’t allow blue jeans in the West Wing, so I’d just planned to spend the morning at home.”

  • This is presidential:

    “[In 2011], the very first telephone call that President [Barack] Obama made after we were sure we’d killed Osama bin Laden was to President [George W.] Bush. President Obama knew that I’d been with him on 9/11, and so he asked me to fly down to Dallas after the raid to brief President Bush personally. I went down about two weeks later and walked President Bush through every aspect of the raid. I thought I could see in his face some sense of closure.”