Tag Archives: A&E

Drug of Choice

14 Jul

Pride and Prejudice 1995 (1)I suspect most of us who identify as humans employ a variety of coping mechanisms just to get through the four letter word called life.  Over the course of almost half a century now, I have used different coping methods and have relied heavily on several during exceedingly difficult times in my life. I talk about, and try to live my life through, a lens of social justice. This piece has no judgment but does hope to make space for how we each try to make it through trying times.

In 1996 I had seen the A&E adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Now I must confess, during difficult times I would read and re-read Pride and Prejudice. When I saw this seminal film version of a most beloved novel, I knew I was home. Through the next several years, I would put the VHS tape in and watch this movie ad nauseam to soothe and console me. I so saw myself as Elizabeth Bennett played by the amazing Jennifer Ehle. It truly was my drug of choice. I was grateful to discover that I had a partner in crime, for my dear friend Bethie was equally addicted.

Years later, when I was feeling blue and down out, I found that I would keep re-reading the third Harry Potter novel.  In fact, in 2003 when I was working on an NEH grant, I was reading the fifth Harry Potter novel.  Upon finishing it, I asked my husband to mail me Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a tonic.

A while ago, I was at work — I do diversity/inclusion and racial equity workshops while also teaching social work. I was confronted by a white man in a workshop who was doing some posturing and asked “so what do you think about the gay agenda and should we also accept the pedophile agenda?”  I have been doing these types of workshops for many many years now and rarely do I feel as though I have had the wind knocked out of me, but wow — I felt the severe punch.  All I could say was: “I’m not sure I understand the question, or if  there is a question?”  I try to meet everyone where they are at on their respective journeys and I have to keep in mind that one cannot force someone to be where they are not. I also have to keep in mind that for those of us doing work around issues of diversity and inclusion there will always be an acceptable amount of trauma. That being said,  when I finally got home, I knew I was going to self-medicate.  I told my husband what happened, made myself a martini, and yes, we watched Pride and Prejudice. 

As I write this, I am keenly aware of my own position of privilege and am also grateful that how we treat people with addictions looks much better than it did just 15 years ago. I’m grateful there are harm reduction models available and I hope we will continue to rely less and less on shame and blame. I also hope we continue to look at addiction and intersectionality. Are targeted groups more likely to rely on substances and if so, how do we change systems to create an equitable society and culture?

As we do this hard, important work and move together through the complicated journey of life, I hope everyone has as safe and reliable a drug of choice as my freedom to escape into the world of Miss Eliza Bennett.

Bigot of the Week Award, December 20: Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty (and his defenders)

20 Dec
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Long-time readers will know that I don’t watch much television. My husband and I have a few favorite programs but don’t keep on top of all the big shows. As a result, I barely knew what a Duck Dynasty was, much less who Phil Robertson might be. Sadly, this week he burst painfully into my consciousness, using his questionable celebrity to spew bigotry. In an interview with GQ, Robertson felt the need to wax homophobic at length.

Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.

He then misquoted the Bible to substantiate his position. Just for fun, he also spent some time discussing anatomy. What hatred, ignorance, bile, and bigotry! What a sad abuse of power, especially power afforded on such a flimsy footing.

To their credit, A&E — the network that airs Duck Dynasty — has suspended Robertson indefinitely observing that:

His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.

While that was the right thing to do, I wonder does it address reparative justice?  And sadly, A&E continues to profit from the series in syndication. Even more regrettable,  Robertson immediately fell back on the faith defense, basically blaming Jesus for his ugly words and then saying:

I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me.

I’m afraid the ship has sailed on that one, Mr. Duck. Robertson should also take a careful look at the people who have stood up to defend him. Failed candidate, half-term governor, and perpetual pseudo-celebrity Sarah Palin and perpetual hypocrite Gov. Bobby Jindal both rushed to his defense, calling his suspension and outrage.

Both Palin and Jindal call it a violation of his First Amendment right of free speech, thus also demonstrating their fundamental misunderstanding of the law. As with Juan Williams and so many others, Robertson has the right to speak. A&E, as his employer, has the right to say that those words aren’t appropriate and to take action. Sponsors have the right to withdraw their sponsorship. Viewers have the right to turn off the TV. Actions have consequences, even legally protected actions.

As a gay man, I have to suspect that racism and misogyny are probably also issues that our Mr. Robertson is mired in along with his homophobia. I wonder what it would have been like for A&E to have addressed this problem directly on the show and then talked about reparative justice? What would it be like for Robertson to have to travel the country and witness how the LGBTQ population is targeted and how the LGBTQ population of color is targeted even further? What concerns me most is that here in 2013 we have further evidence of just how far we have yet to go around eradicating homophobia, racism, misogyny, and poverty.  Of course, this Duck Dynasty does not have to worry about poverty, for they have been wealthy stars because of “reality tv.”

Call For Nominations:

Yes, it is that time of year again. Here is the official call for nominations for 2013’s Bigot of the Year Award and Hero of the Year Award. Please submit your nominations now.

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