Tag Archives: Recall

Hero of the Week Award: June 8, Jason Alexander

8 Jun

Hero of the Week

Actor and comedian Jason Alexander made a spectacular transition from Bigot of the Week nominee to HWA winner. The former Seinfeld star appeared on Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show on CBS last week. During a conversation about British and American sports, Alexander made a number of disparaging comments about the sport of cricket. The bulk of his jokes had to do with cricket being “gay” and “queer” with an emphasis on things he found effeminate.

After many in the gay community took offense at his comments, Alexander resisted making a knee-jerk response, instead taking the time to consider what he had said and why he said it.

…a few of my Twitter followers made me aware that they were both gay and offended by the joke. And truthfully, I could not understand why. I do know that humor always points to the peccadillos or absurdities or glaring generalities of some kind of group or another – short, fat, bald, blonde, ethnic, smart, dumb, rich, poor, etc. It is hard to tell any kind of joke that couldn’t be seen as offensive to someone. But I truly did not understand why a gay person would be particularly offended by this routine. However, troubled by the reaction of some, I asked a few of my gay friends about it…As we explored it, we began to realize what was implied under the humor.

Based on this reflection, Alexander offered a sincere, complex, and thoughtful apology via Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAAD). The entire apology is worth reading, but two parts are especially powerful.

It is not that we can’t laugh at and with each other. It is not a question of oversensitivity. The problem is that today, as I write this, young men and women whose behaviors, choices or attitudes are not deemed “man enough” or “normal” are being subjected to all kinds of abuse from verbal to physical to societal. They are being demeaned and threatened because they don’t fit the group’s idea of what a “real man” or a “real woman” are supposed to look like, act like and feel like. For these people, my building a joke upon the premise I did added to the pejorative stereotype that they are forced to deal with everyday. It is at the very heart of this whole ugly world of bullying that has been getting rightful and overdue attention in the media. And with my well-intentioned comedy bit, I played right into those hurtful assumptions and diminishments.

So, I would like to say – I now get it. And to the extent that these jokes made anyone feel even more isolated or misunderstood or just plain hurt – please know that was not my intention, at all or ever. I hope we will someday live in a society where we are so accepting of each other that we can all laugh at jokes like these and know that there is no malice or diminishment intended. But we are not there yet. So, I can only apologize and I do. In comedy, timing is everything. And when a group of people are still fighting so hard for understanding, acceptance, dignity and essential rights – the time for some kinds of laughs has not yet come.

Given how many celebrity missteps go viral, it is heartening to see Alexander acknowledge that he should have known better from the outset. Even more significantly, he refuses to rely on the standard non-apologies offered by many (like Tracy Morgan) that consist of a feeble “I’m sorry you were offended.” Instead, he took the time to reflect on his words and actions, realize his mistake, and offer a sincere apology. Let’s hope both the realization and the apology can serve as models for other celebrities.

Honorable mention this week goes to Democrats in Wisconsin. Although they lost the effort to recall their loathsome governor, Scott Walker, their efforts should be applauded. Despite spending barely 10% of what Walker did, they managed to come close to victory. Given how many voters indicated that they oppose recalls on principle, this is impressive. Even more impressive was the turnout, with Madison having 119% of registered voters appear at the polls. (Wisconsin allows same-day registration.) The loss is bitter, but the effort was valiant.

Bigot of the Week Award: June 8, Dr. Drew

8 Jun

Bigot of the Week

I need to thank my good friend Jay, a social rights advocate and LGBT ally, for inspiring me to write this article. This week’s bigot is a complicated celebrity doctor. Drew Pinsky, known to millions as Dr. Drew for his many regular media appearances and his shows about battling addiction, is a bit of a conundrum. He spoke out strongly against Prop 8 and allowing people to vote on civil rights. However he also served as an apologist for Tracy Morgan’s homophobic rant, accepting the lame apology while minimizing (although not accepting) the hate speech. He’s also had crazed homophobe Adam Carolla as a guest on his show for no apparent reason.

While he offers good advice about addiction, he is not particularly sex-positive, railing against anal sex and helping build the myth that it is medically harmful. He has also stated that gay men are either tops or bottoms and can’t change.

This week he went off the rails with “ex-lesbian” guest Janet Boynes. A proponent of ex-gay “reparative” therapy based on religion, Boynes is closely associated with the clinic of Marcus Bachmann. She also works with the Anoka-Hennepin school district which has had numerous LGBT suicides resulting from bullying. It’s curious why he had her on the show at all, given that she preaches change in a way that goes against all medical advice. Even worse, he was scheduled to include Jallen Rix, a survivor of ex-gay therapy and sexologist as a balance guest on the show. Instead, Rix was demoted to faceless call-in; Pinsky cut him off and gave Boynes the opportunity to play the religious oppression card as the last word.

REALLY? This is the kind of person that a doctor wants on his show? This is exactly like mainstream media giving hate group mouthpiece Tony Perkins airtime to spew his bile in the name of “balance.” What’s particularly confusing is that Dr. Drew himself made a case AGAINST ex-gay therapy in an interview with Anderson Cooper a year ago. While he was far too apologetic about the “legitimate treatments” that are used for false ends, he sounded opposed to this harmful practice. So now a practitioner of this damaging myth is worthy of airtime? What’s up, Doc?

Dishonorable mention this week goes to the majority voters in Wisconsin who refused to recall their loathsome governor, Scott Walker. His success seems to have hinged on two things. First, of course, is money. Thanks to the Fecal Five and Citizens United, Walker had ten times the war chest that his opponent had. Second, however, was the sense of many voters that a recall isn’t justifiable. If that’s the case, why is it allowed by state law? Badly done, Wisconsin, the state that gave us Sen. McCarthy and Rep. Paul Ryan…

The Many Voices in Paul LePage’s Head

21 Jan

Great idea! I will shut down the public schools!

While I have never thought Paul LePage was a good human being, I am now worried that he really has something organically wrong that further precludes him from being qualified to maintain the office of Governor.

Yesterday, LePage, in his typical partisan bullying voice, declared:

And I’ll go one step further, if they can modify it–and a lot of Democrats still think we’re fooling around and we’re making political hay here. Right now, in order to continue the way we are, I will close schools May 1 and use that money. Because that’s where we are.

Shall interject some facts here?  LePage has been all about protecting the 1% of the wealthiest Americans and now it looks like he is refusing to raise taxes to sustain education.  Of course, by keeping a population ignorant we can ensure they vote against their best interests.

Emily Cain, the House Democratic Leader, said:

LePage is presenting a choice that isn’t on the table. It’s not realistic to simply say you can just close schools. It’s hardly worth even discussing, because that’s really not what we’re deciding between. It’s a very dramatic–and I think a dangerous–fear-mongering approach.

Sadly, we just have further evidence that LePage has been drinking some rancid Tea at the party.  We can only hope Maine will go the way of Wisconsin right now.  One thing for sure is that we have to get rid of these misogynistic, racist, homophobic, bigoted elected officials.

Hero of the Week Award: January 20, One Million Strong in Wisconsin

20 Jan

Hero of the Week

This week we are happy to celebrate people power in the face of oppression from elected officials.  Just when I was losing faith in Americans with all this bashing of President Obama and the celebrating of bigoted millionaire Republican presidential candidates, we see a glimmer of hope in Wisconsin. Activists in that state have compiled 1,000,000 signatures on a recall petition for Gov. Scott Walker after his relentless efforts to destroy collective bargaining and crush public employees. This is nearly as many signatures as there were votes cast for Walker in 2010 and 185% of the number needed to move forward with the vote. Simultaneously, petitions were filed with generous numbers of signatures to recall the Lt. Governor and four Republican state senators. Only two other Governors have ever faced recalls in American history. Both of them lost their offices. Let’s hope Scott Walker makes it three for three. You can find a good overview of the recall efforts at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Honorable mention this week goes to the great Internet blackout efforts in protest of SOPA and PIPA. Wikipedia, one of the most aggressive participants in the blackout, has a great overview. Because of the attention this work drew, Senate support of PIPA has totally eroded and the House has temporarily tabled SOPA. What a great week for activism!

GOP’s Family Values: Bribe Them with Booze

22 Apr

Booze, Bribes, Moral Bankruptcy

Those whacky madcap Republicans in Wisconsin turning to “the drink” to solve its problems.  Yes, Scott Walker and his little tea party are getting nervous, as they should.  Recall protests continue and it does not look as though even the Koch Brothers will be able to control the civil unrest of the oppressed unions and laborers of Wisconsin.  In a desperate and feeble attempt to turn the tables, the lobotomized Walker supporters have collected enough signatures to try and recall three Democrats as well–let us know how that goes: Republicans apparently had to give out free shots of booze to get enough signatures against the Democrats. Now that is Democracy at work–let me buy your support with a drink.  I wonder if that will be the new GOP slogan for 2012?  Click here to see the article and the video on Rachel Maddow’s show.

Randy Randy, The Model of Family Values…

24 Mar

Hypocrite Extraordinaire

Randy Hopper (R-WI), is proving to be consistent with the GOP’s platform of Family Values. As with our Newt, Hopper is showing Americans how glamorous hypocrisy can be and how dangerous marriage equality is.  Yes, it is obvious that teachers, labor unions, firefighters, and the gays are to blame for Wisconsin’s woes.  Scott Walker (brought to you by the Koch Brothers) has told America that the state of Wisconsin has no money, thus they can’t pay those fat cats (teachers et al.).  How very strange then that Hopper’s mistress was hired by the state on the advice of Scott Walker’s cabinet as a “communications liaison,” and that  her salary is 35% higher than her predecessor’s.  If people in Wisconsin and the rest of the United States are not paying attention to this, then shame on you.  We all should be outraged. It is time for a recall!  Please share this and expose Hopper and the GOP!

Wisconsin GOP: Workers Do You Feel the Love?

10 Mar

Recall Now:Workers Unite

In some respects it is difficult for me to feel sorry for the people of Wisconsin. Part of me says: You voted for the Republicans, now you are feeling the full impact of avarice and stupidity, brought to you by the Koch Brothers, “Buying Up America One State at a Time.” The activist part of me (the much larger part of me) says support the people of Wisconsin and encourage them to recall the very people they voted for during the mid-term elections. This latest move of stripping nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers seems like something one would read from a history book, or a Steinbeck novel.  Denying workers bargaining rights seems so unconscionable that I can’t imagine why more people are not enraged. I suppose rather than holding Walker and his Republican henchmen responsible, we could always just blame the unions (now eunuchs) and blame teachers. We all know how powerful and wealthy teachers are!

So how did Wisconsin get away with this move? Here is where the GOP proves how nefarious they really are. The 14 Democrats were missing, so as to ensure the vote would fail. However, Scott (Dr. Evil) Walker and the GOP were able to manipulate their way around this by not attaching any type of language around spending, thus stripping workers of their rights.  Click here to see the full article.

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