Tag Archives: bigotry

Pee wherever you want to––everyone!

Use whatever bathroom you want.

719Lk-kuT0L._SY355_I’m not talking to transgendered people––I’m talking to all of you and because I’m a man, even more so to the male of our species…

Haven’t you ever been frustrated when someone seems to have taken up residence in the men’s room?

As I move ever further beyond age 50 I experience this frustration more than ever. I wait and wait in genuine discomfort while the women’s room goes unused. Still––I won’t violate the sacred boundary. My mother taught me not to.

No more. If I need to go––I’m using the women’s restroom. Why not?

I’ve also decided that I’m going to join the shortest line at the ballgame. I’m going to use the closest facility at the highway rest stop. And if the men’s room is filthy, I’m trying the women’s––I don’t care how many stalls there are or who can see me or who may be uncomfortable with my presence.

In the hyper-emotional battle over transgendered use of public restrooms we’ve lost one coldly serious and important fact:

Our Constitution does not protect any group. It protects individual rights.

If you believe that people should be free to choose the facilities that best reflect their chosen gender identity––so be it. I’m tempted myself to cite gender fluidity as a convenient justification to use the girl’s room when I find myself in desperate straights.

ID-100345484I’m getting too old to stand on ceremony––I don’t have a problem announcing that I’m now gender fluid, non-binary, genderqueer or whatever it takes to save me the the pain and potential embarrassment associated with pissing my own pants.

Yes––my tongue is poking my cheek and I am purposely trying to instigate trouble here––but think about it…

Those on the open borders side of the gender identity restroom debate maintain that you can’t deprive a person of his or her or others civil right to use the public plumbing of his or her or others choice simply because his or her or others chosen sexual identity does not correlate with his or hers or others biologically plumbing.

That’s all fine too––but we don’t protect the “group,” and we don’t grant special privileges to particular groups––not in theory anyway. We’re not supposed to be creating protected classes of people or legislating privileges for a chosen few––on any grounds.

Our system is built on protection of rights for the individual.

The gay marriage issue turned on that very point. You simply cannot say that one individual citizen can enjoy a privilege recognized by the state while another individual citizen is denied the same privilege.

Racial discrimination is illegal on the same grounds. We did not create a special privilege that suddenly allowed black people the right to vote, for example. We simply got around to recognizing that once black people were considered citizens (another terrible injustice that needed correcting by the way) that there was no way their right to vote could be denied. The 15th Amendment does not grant a special privilege to the “group” of black citizens––it prevents the government from using it’s authority to deny the right of an individual based on race or color:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

In the same way, we’ve recognized that if an adult citizen can be “married” under the law, then every citizen has the same right.

It seems only right that if we choose to legally recognize the right of a particular citizen to use a public restroom based on his, hers or others identity––or even feeling of identity on a particular day, then each of us has the right to use the public restroom of our choosing––regardless of the reason.

Seem ridiculous? Well, think of the problem from all sides.

To protect a right, you must consider enforcement. If you’re granting a privilege to a particular group, you must provide a practical means of enforcement.

In the case of driving on the public roads, we issue a license. Is this the solution to the trans-fluid gender restroom issue?

Should we issue special ID cards to transgendered and gender fluid people? Should they be required to show these cards to authorities when someone challenges their presence in a gender segregated area?

That would certainly be a solution. That would prevent me from using the women’s facilities––assuming I don’t qualify for a card.

Well, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Ireland have beaten us to the punch…

In each of these countries the official stand is that gender is nothing more than a declaration of choice and “neither male nor female” is a legally recognized option. And the official ID is anything but a joke, it’s a reality!

Ireland recently celebrated remarkable progress in the state sanctioned free-gender area according to TheJournal.com:

“…Ireland’s trans community celebrated a “historic day” when citizens were given the legal right to gender recognition based on self-declaration.

“It means that people who wish to have their change of gender recognised by the state – in birth certs, passports, driving licenses – will simply make a formal declaration to that effect.”

Still, even Ireland lags a little behind the times. TheJournal.com article continues:

“In this case though, individuals still only have two options; male or female. ‘M’ or ‘F’.”

Well––it’s a start.

We don’t live in Ireland or India and we’re still talking about restrooms and to this point, we’re not, as far as I know, issuing state gender ID cards.

Nor should we.

I don’t really have a solution––frankly, it’s not something I ever bothered to think about much.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve always cherished the one remaining “safe zone” where I could retreat free from the onslaught of the opposite sex––naturally endowed or otherwise. I suppose those days are gone.

Yes, I’ve been annoyed when women jump the line at a concert to pee in my men’s room. Yes, I’ve strained every muscle in my body to keep from losing it waiting for the men’s room to open when the women’s room went unused. On one occasion I was caught off guard when I noticed the young woman washing her hands in the next sink was anything but––a young woman that is. I even dealt with concerns from the members of my martial arts center when it became obvious that a new student’s gifts of nature were inconsistent with her––I mean his choice of locker rooms.

We simply didn’t make much of an issue of it. But lets not flush the main point of this discussion down the toilet.

As I said––our system protects the rights of the individual, not the group.

If gender identity is a choice––

And if that choice is subject to the individual’s feelings on a particular day––

And if there is no requirement to obtain or produce any official documentation of one’s gender…

Then shouldn’t we all just pee wherever the hell we want to?

Another look at it…

Photo of transgendered many courtesy of Frankie42 and FreeDigitalphotos.net

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Institutional Racism and the Yale Halloween Hallabaloo––KNOCK IT OFF!

On November 12, CNN political commentator Sally Kohn published an article titled, “Don’t be too quick to judge Yale protesters.” In this article, Ms. Kohn defends Yale students who protested against their school’s alleged insensitivity in not banning potentially “offensive” Halloween costumes and the remarks of two of their professors who, in effect, told them to grow up.

Here is my response as posted on CNN.com:

I’ll focus on Ms. Kohn’s use of the words “institutional racism.” In this case, as in the case in Missouri and other campuses, this term is being applied with ferocity. Alternately, you may hear “systemic racism.”

Where, Ms. Kohn, does this “institutional racism” exist and what proof it there of it’s existence?

This is what

This is what “institutional racism” looks like. This is the official institutional welcome a civil rights protester received in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

Institutional or systemic racism implies a concerted and intentional effort to deny the rights and privileges of a particular group based on race and color. Is Missouri purposely excluding black students and faculty? Is Yale itself endorsing racist behavior on campus?

Or, in the case of the Yale professors, were they simply acknowledging that the institution plays a limited part in the lives of allegedly adult students and that the students themselves should address legitimate offenses, if and when they occur.

Remember that this entire furor started BEFORE there was any offense!

Should we be upset when, if and where we encounter or witness racism? Certainly, but protests and events of the past several years would have us believe that racism in 2015 is not limited to the few ignorant or entrenched bigots who still judge others based on color. No-the implication is that America is a nation of racists and our current institutions, both government and private, are perpetrating a clear and purposeful plan of discrimination and racial subjugation.

It’s not happening.

Ironically, I just visited the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. historic site in Atlanta. I sat in the Ebeneezer Baptist Church and listened to a recording of one of Dr. King’s most moving sermons. As I viewed the artifacts of Dr. King’s life and the images of people being beaten, hosed and attacked by dogs, I couldn’t help but think about what Dr. King and the people who stood with him would think about today’s movement.

I couldn’t help but think that they would be sickened––that what’s going on today is an affront to the real dangers they faced and the sacrifices they made––which in Dr. King’s case was, of course, the ultimate sacrifice.

Blacks in the 1960s did face “institutional racism.” There were actual courts and law enforcement officials who beat and arrested people because of their color and determined that white murderers, rapists and thugs would not be prosecuted or convicted––if, of course, their victims were black.

There was actual discrimination and segregation––despite the fact that these practices had been outlawed by the federal government and jim-crow was the functional law-of-the-land in much of the country.

There was a great hesitancy to prosecute these offenses on the part of even the President and his Attorney General for fear that to do so would inflame the situation. These leaders who were slow to bring the hammer of justice down were none other than the now revered Kennedy brothers.

THAT was institutional racism.

Dr. King himself was not welcomed as a champion of human rights––not at first. He was investigated by the government as an agitator. Many of his own people cautioned him that the time was not right to bring the issue to a boil––that this would only hurt the black cause.

In his book Why We Can’t Wait, Dr. King recalls the visit of one of Africa’s newly established black heads-of-state who was “called upon by a delegation of prominent American Negroes. When they began reciting to him their long list of grievances, the visiting statesman had waved a weary hand and said:

“‘I am aware of current events. I know everything you are telling me about what the white man is doing to the Negro. Now tell me: What is the Negro doing for himself?’”

Am I blaming the victim for the alleged crime? Am I implying that Dr. King was doing the same?

Absolutely not. What I am saying is that Dr. King’s message was one of responsibility. I am also saying that what today’s students are protesting is completely out of scale.

Dr. King and many others fought and gave their lives, figuratively and literally to end institutional racism and discrimination. Dr. King acknowledged in his time that it was all too easy for white society, and white government in particular, to simply say, “We’ve passed the laws, our work is done.” It wasn’t––the laws were still not being enforced. Racism was still an institutionalized and systemic practice.

The clothes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wore when he knew he would be jailed at protests. Note the work boots.

The clothes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wore when he knew he would be jailed at protests. Note the work boots.

He adds, “When he seeks opportunity, he is told, in effect, to lift himself up by his own bootstraps, advice that does not take into account the fact that he is barefoot.”

Dr. King and his peers didn’t stop at stamping their bare feet in protest––they started making shoes.

There was much work to be done––there is much work to be done––but to imply or even insinuate that there is an intentional, purposeful effort to practice and promote “institutional racism” is simply wrong.

If you make this implication, Ms. Kohn, where is your proof?

This effort would require a monumental and secretive plot the scope and scale of which even our most skilled intelligence operatives would be incapable of conducting.

I acknowledge completely that there is still work to do, but this work is societal rather than institutional. I respect the students who protest against racist behavior––but recognize exactly what you are protesting and as Dr. King and his colleagues did, study your adversary.

Are you fighting to educate the ignorant and cultivate greater understanding? To continue Dr. King’s work?

Or––are you tipping at institutional windmills? Are you fighting a phantom that exists more in your minds and hearts than in the offices of your college chancellory?

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“We need to put the American flag down.”

by Jim Bouchard

“We need to put the American flag down.”

Farrakahn BrietbartThat’s what Louis Farrakhan said this week.

He said this during a rally in response to the shootings in Charleston and the uproar over the display of the Confederate battle flag. As more and more people acknowledge that some symbols need to be retired out of respect to current sentiments, people like Farrakhan are using this moment to exploit ignorance and destroy the progress we’ve made as a society …

… which is exactly what the American flag represents.

That’s right––progress.

I don’t have a problem with removing the Confederate flag from public properties. Many believe it’s time we do.

That’s a fair point, but as the argument widens from the display of the Confederate battle flag, let’s get the facts in order.

First––you cannot extract slavery from the argument.

Confederate TroopsThose who defend the public display of the Confederate flag argue that it is a symbol of what they consider the “true” meaning and intent behind Southern secession.

Many in the South, particularly those who did not own slaves and those who opposed slavery, sincerely believed they were defending their native states against an act of Northern aggression. They believed they were defending their rights to conduct their business as sovereign and independent states.

Acknowledging that point of view, you must also acknowledge that the right they were most vigorously defending was specifically the right to own slaves and treat people as property––a right that was, at the time, codified in the Constitution.

Mississippi planter Richard Thompson Archer stated the case plainly in 1859. From CivilWarCauses.org:

“The South is invaded. It is time for all patriots to be united, to be under military organization, to be advancing to the conflict determined to live or die in defence of the God given right to own the African”

In a twist that sounds strange to most people today, the South was ironically pressing for national recognition of the protection of slavery as it was specified in the Constitution, arguably as a compromise during the founding period, while the Northern political sentiment was that slavery was a state issue, and that slavery could not be enforced on a federal level. That argument reached it’s climax during the debate over the enforcement of slavery in “free” states culminating in the infamous “Dred Scot” decision. In that case, the Supreme Court denied a black man’s right to citizenship and representation in court when he sued for his freedom after his owners moved to Wisconsin, which was then a territory where slavery was illegal.

No, you can’t just say that the Confederate flag is strictly a symbol of Southern pride.

Dylann RoofTo too many people, it’s also a symbol of the denial of basic human rights, oppression, violence and unspeakable cruelty.

Even if you allow some latitude in the defense of that flag as a historic symbol, you cannot deny that it became a symbol of bigotry, violence and crime as it was adopted by the Ku Klux Klan and later as an icon of the Neo-Nazi and white supremacy movements.

No matter what the original intent, which was to represent the Army of Northern Virginia, you cannot separate the flag from the racism, violence and murder perpetrated by these organizations and condoned by their supporters.

Back to Farrakhan …

… and he’s not alone. This week CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield proposed that maybe it’s time to talk about taking down the Jefferson Memorial. After all, she opined, he was a slave owner.

This leads to my second important point––you’ve got to debate this issue in context.

Jefferson lived in a time when slavery was a societal institution, right or wrong. He was raised with the belief that is was not only proper to own slaves, it was his obligation to his family and their business. Many in his time justified slavery under deeply held religious convictions.

Revolutionary leaders were deeply conflicted over this question. Jefferson was deeply conflicted in his own mind and heart. As he struggled with the issue, he wrote:

“The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.”

Like many leaders of the founding generation, Jefferson could not reconcile his own conduct with the ideology he and others risked their lives to establish. How could he be arguably the iconic voice of freedom, yet at the same time deny freedom to other human beings?

The question sounds ridiculous to our ears. Not so during the establishment of the United States.

The point is that Jefferson was defined by his commitment to freedom, not by his slave ownership, however reprehensible and hypocritical that seems from our vantage point today. In several documents, including his drafts of Constitution of the State of Virginia, Jefferson was obviously moving toward a reconciliation of his beliefs. In these drafts, which became the framework for the Declaration of Independence, he wrote:

“No person hereafter coming into this country shall be held within the same in slavery under any pretext whatever.”

This was still a long way from abolition and you can certainly make the argument that he was moving too slowly––but he and many others of his generation were indeed moving.

Was Jefferson a symbol of bigotry and racism? Or, does he remain a symbol of freedom––even if we acknowledge his flaws in the context of the radical changes and progress he inspired?

Jefferson and his generation left important work undone, but the flag they created to represent their new nation which evolved into the flag we fly today represents, as much as anything, the enormous ideological, cultural and societal changes these men set in motion.

It’s difficult to argue against the case that we’ve still got work to do––but it’s ignorant, divisive and destructive to deny the progress we’ve made.

To do so dishonors and deprecates everyone, including many of us, and many of our ancestors, who worked so hard to treat all human beings with equal respect and dignity and sacrificed so much to transform our ideals into reality.

Farrakhan didn’t stop with the flag …

“White folks march with you because they don’t want you upsetting the city––they don’t give a damn about them nine.”

Mr. Farrakhan, with all due respect––screw you.

America has many faults. As Americans, we still have work to do.

The point is––we do it.

Our flag has flown over some shameful times. It has flown over actions, decisions and events we now regret.

However, unlike any flag before it, our flag represents our commitment as a people to right our wrongs and to create and evolve a society as citizens, not subjects. We don’t have to overthrow despots and tyrants any more. We change ourselves as people and as a society. We learn, grow and evolve––as people and as a society.

We commit our hearts and souls and risk our lives and treasure to promote these changes.

That’s what our flag represents.

You want to burn it?

With what flag, sir, would you replace it?

US Flag Civil War Era

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