LGBTQ Rights Infringed Upon at Southwood Highschool

I am not one to jump on band wagons or rush to the aid of a cause…. usually. But let me tell you a story –

I have had friends an relatives die in drunk driving accidents and when I was a kid, I wanted to do something about it. I started the Student’s Against Drunk Driving groups at Southwood High School in Shreveport Louisiana. With the aid of Mr. White, the sophomore councilor and a few teachers, we held events, went on trips, raised awareness, and even got the media involved. We made a noise and made a difference. This was 1991 – 1993

Fast forward to now… 2018. I saw a Facebook post about my former high school and I get angry. Apparently, Mr Roberts, the principle at Southwood is not allowing a transgender student, Kami Pham, dress in women’s clothing in the yearbook photos or walk with her senior class as a young woman. A call went out, thank you MIchael, to have people write to Principle Roberts – jroberts@caddoschools.org – directly or to sign the petition at change.org

I did both – Below is the email I sent Mr. Roberts for what it’s worth.

Good morning Mr. Roberts,

My name is Palmer. I graduated from Southwood in 1993, founded a S.A.D.D. chapter there, and enjoyed my time there as a student. It was a shock when I heard this morning that your administration, and not to put too fine a point on it, you yourself were not affording a transgender student the same respect and right of expression I was allowed when I was a student there.
I understand completely your probable point of view; the “What If” scenarios that you might have been presented with or are imagining might be a bit extreme. I can also see the “slippery slope” argument of “if this / then that” that you might be forming but let me put it this way – This young lady, Kami Pham, was unfortunately born with a different sex organ than she should have been. She’s not asking to come to school dressed as an animal, nor is she concealing her identity, nor is she being provocative in any way.
I know the cost would be too great to reprint yearbooks, but for God’s sake, the sake of decency, the sake of the promises you made to yourself as an educator and the students you serve in that capacity, let this poor girl walk with her class mates in a manner she feels comfortable and let her make the memories we all have.
It goes beyond embarrassing photos of our youth. I am sure you as I regret a lot of photos from childhood like dated clothing, hairstyles, etc. easily dismissed. For a trans gender person later in life, a childhood photo of a transgender woman as a boy in her youth can be disheartening and a reminder that she was not allowed to be themselves once. Kami has a right to look back at her high school photos and a video of her graduation and see the young woman she was and remember how she was allowed to express herself.
Regardless of how I feel, how Kami feels, or even how you feel personally, protect your student and her future and allow her to be who she is, just for a little while, as she walks with her class.
Thank you

Normalizing media is worse than propaganda

We, as a society, normalize things to an unacceptable point and we demonize the wrong things. For instance, a human being’s natural state is nude, yet we find nudity to be disturbing at the least and abhorrent and down right illegal at worst. Sure, context matters and I personally wouldn’t be wondering around naked, but you get my point. Television shows like Cops highlight and glorify what is wrong with our society. These shows should be cautionary tales, not giggle inducing. Survivor, which I am guilty of watching in past seasons, is all about how the most horrible person gets rewarded for back stabbing their fellow contestants and team mates. That kind of behavior should be punished, not rewarded.

This brings me to the current offering, Rosanne. First and foremost, Rosanne Barr is no saint and I know that. She’s a loud mouthed garbage person who supports another loudmouth garbage person and, while the original run of her television show was entertaining (and I’m sure the new one will be too) it didn’t have a political message. Not everything has to have a message. The original show was just a family, middle class, trying to make ends meet. It’s something I can relate to. The new iteration is going to be used, not as a booming mouth piece, but as a normalizing catalyst for the current administration and our horrible homunculus of a president.

Looking back at the wonderful things Rosanne has said about Hillary (and the terrible things) I think she tends to use political situations to stay in the spot light. Maybe she doesn’t support Trump and this is all an act. She said on Jimmy Kimmel that, “no one wants their president to fail.” and that is or at least it should be true. The day after the election, comforting a wife and friends who were devastated and emotional I said, “Just give him a chance.” I quoted a vlog I was enjoying at the time, “He may be a sack of shit, but at the bottom of that sack there might be something good. We don’t know yet.” and he’s proven that at the bottom of that sack, there is nothing but more shit.

So what’s my point? My point is, shows like this that have an agenda to normalize a man who Is a confirmed racist, sexist, misogynist, and an accused molester and rapist should not be allowed to exist. They serve to do nothing but speed and already rapidly declining society. It’s not about one show. It’s not about Rosanne, it’s about a man in power who craps on the ideals America was founded on, wipes his ass with the constitution and pisses on the people of America and how that’s becoming alright.

What would you do for your Democracy?

I don’t want to be involved with my Democracy. Sure, I like it’s benefits and I believe in democratic process. I just like to not get ground up in the machine. I made a list of how I’m going to be a better steward of Democracy at the limited level I want to be involved with it. Here’s that list.

  1. I own a firearm, but would gladly register it, get a license and any training required to achieve that license. I will not own an “assault” style tacti-cool semi or full auto rifle. I don’t feel the need to over compensate for anything. I prefer bolt action anyway.
  2. I will not affiliate, associate, or otherwise engage with a group of individuals, organized or social, who profess the virtues of freedom and liberty or even equality just to hide behind rhetoric of hate or separatism. It’s great to want to make america great again, but what are you saying about it’s current status? Wasn’t it great already?
  3. I will fact check my loathing. Just because it’s on the internet does not mean it is true and I will make sure it is before I believe it arbitrarily. It’s easy to believe something terrible about someone you regard as human garbage, but I think you still have to know if what is posted about them in the media or online is true.
  4. I will engage only so far with someone who can’t see the middle and will otherwise keep my mouth shut. I don’t care which side you’re on as long as you’re willing to see the other side and debate your position with regards to the middle. A level playing field is the only way anyone will win. Winning, by the way, means compromise.
  5. I will understand most fear and hate are based on ignorance and will not tolerate that ignorance. Instead I will strive to correct that ignorance to a point (see #4). If that gets me hated, so be it. Hate actually comes from the same place as love…. it’s the same energy. Just ask a hippy.
  6. I will see myself in my leaders and repair those things I see in myself that disgusts me about them. Ask yourself why you dislike someone. You might have something in common with them. Any person you come into contact with can be a mirror and a force for positive change.
  7. I will continue to be the voice of the middle discarding emotion and outrage and focus on and offer up ideas for how things can be made better in the middle ground. You have to build somewhere.
  8. If I ever have any, I will throw money at the right politicians to get them to change their minds in favor for a solution that benefits the most people. It seems to work for big Pharma and the NRA, it will work for normal people too. Bribery is bribery so let’s call lobbyists what they are.
  9. I will not bow to mob mentality. Just because a lot of people, even people I love and care about, say it doesn’t make it true until I’ve researched it and found out the actual truth. Stop believing the filtered crap and opinionews you see on the popular internet and television sources and become your own news aggregate to find the wheat in the chaff.

You don’t have to follow any of these rules. Heck, you don’t have to listen to anything I have to say about anything which is the beauty of being an individual. As a human being who is not a sociopath, you DO have an innate moral obligation to help the tribe. Remember the person you’re arguing with, while they might be coming from a place of fear, ignorance, bad childhood, or just selfishness, might still be thinking they’re protecting the tribe or at least their small part of it. Learn empathy, something that seems to be lacking these days, and take yourself out of the equation, step into their shoes, and then see their point before making yours. It might go a long way to changing their mind and your own.

Another one? Didn’t I just talk about this?

I just posted about this. What is going on?

Yet another shooting and another flood of Face Book posts, Tweets, and Snap chats about the evils of guns and gun owners. I have said in the past that the person who owns the gun is the problem, not the gun. While it is true that if you remove the gun, a person can’t shoot it, but to the normal and mentally healthy gun owner that’s like pulling out a dog’s teeth to keep it from biting. I’m not saying that’s 100% rational, but think about why most gun owners purchased their guns and who owns them.

According to the Pew Research Center, a bout a third of American’s own firearms. In 2013, Pew documents that eighty percent of those gun owners own them for hunting and for self defense. Those people would argue their rights to defend themselves or to provide food for their families without having to rely on farms or big industries. That only leaves eighteen percent of gun owners owing guns for recreational use. The other 18% own guns because they can and that’s where I feel the problem lies. Why own something that can kill without a clear reason to own it?

With regards about the most recent school shooting in Florida, the gun most assuredly was not the problem. Granted, he bout it at 18 with zero training. On top of that, he was diagnosed with Autism which could have been a contributing factor to his lack of emotional control. Who sells an ar-15 to an 18 year old autistic kid? That’s beside the point.

He had behavioral issues when he was at the school, regularly talked about killing small animals for sport and he was expelled instead of any kind of investigation being done. Had the school been properly funded and staffed then maybe he would have gotten help to deal with his adopted mother’s death. Instead, he was tossed aside. His school failed. At home, he would send his dogs to the neighbors house trying to get him to attack their pet pigs. If that’s not a red flag, I don’t know what is! If any of this was reported to police, he could have gotten help so his community failed. On line he posted about wanting to shoot people with the very gun he used to shoot up the school and on Instagram, he posted threatening pictures evoking terroristic imagery brandishing guns and knives. The Internet, not the healthiest place to live, also failed to alert anyone to the very obvious danger this kid represented.

Where does it end? We ignore problems with our society or we marvel in morbid fascination of these sick people and we don’t speak up. There is something to be said for freedom of speech but there is a normal. When someone is off the bubble, say something. In the case of terrorism, we use catch phrases like “See something, say something” and we foster fear of the foreign but we ignore our own until a kid shoots up a school. I don’t have any answers, just observations.

Military parades are saber rattling at it’s finest.

I like a parade as much as the next guy. I mean, throngs of screaming people, food vendors selling hot dogs and churros and cotton candy, and an engorged orange gass bag floating above the crowd. Move over Hobbs, here comes Trump.

“… I want a parade like the one in France,”

Because we’re unoriginal and lacking in anything other than jealous purposefulness.

It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen,”

No…. the Rose Bowl or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or possibly any number of Mardi Gras / Carnival Parades are the greatest.

… it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France.”

We don’t need a display of military might. We know our military is mighty. They’re might regardless of the crap they endure in service to this country like lack of body armor, like lack of health care, like lack of programs to help them reincorporate into the country after deployments. We don’t need a pompous ass hat marching them in full dress behind diesel fume spewing tanks down city streets to know they exist and sacrifice for the good or what they’re told is the good of the country.

We’re going to have to try to top it.”

Again, because we are a jealous, petty people and our president is trying to overcompensate for… small hands.

If you want to see what kind of military parade he’s really wanting, check out this video.

or this one…

We don’t need to be THIS!

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Here we have two pictures. The one on the left came from a sub Reddit called Accidental Renaissance and the one on the right is a famous photo of athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympics.

  

On the right, we have children who, for good or ill, have been indoctrinated at an early age to feel a certain way about the national anthem. They’ve been told… something. They’ve observed…. something. On the left we have two thoughtful young men making a statement about human rights and solidarity which would later be taken as a show of “Black Power”.

While we might look back on Tommie and John with admiration, we should look at these kids, and this is just my opinion, with pity. While the athletes believed something and were simply showing the solidarity and a connectedness we should all feel, these kids don’t feel that or embody it. Too many times have we seen protests by people who don’t know what they’re even protesting. What did the parents say? “Don’t pledge allegiance to a corrupt and crumbling system that longs to be changed but instead defiantly raise a closed fist, the fist that will one day clutch that system and crush it” or was it more like, “Damn the government. I think I’ll piss on it” or maybe it was more simple than even that.

Do I agree with the pledge in schools? Not really. I don’t think children should have to participate in school prayer or any show of patriotism and I think they both amount to the same thing…. empty gestures. Your relationship with God and your love of country are two things that shouldn’t be questioned in school or in public under any circumstance. But I would ask that children not participating in either be respectful of those who would and that’s what this boils down to.

I agree with the football players who take a knee but I know, understand, and agree with why they’re doing it. I understand it has to do with police violence and not that they’re just crapping on the flag or disrespecting this country. These men, and Tommie and John too are patriots. These children are parrots and the parents should be ashamed.

A break from good times

You never really know anyone…. especially if you don’t know them. Andy Signore, creator of Screen Junkies and Honest Trailers has been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment and has been fired by Defy Media. He apparently did some pretty inappropriate things and even allegedly attempted to sexually assaulted a young woman. On Face book, I saw that picture of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square that everyone has seen and there was a snippet of an interview with the kissee. She said she didn’t expect it and that she wasn’t kissing him, he was kissing her. Now instead of this being an iconic symbol of romance and celebrating victory, it’s assault.

Don’t misunderstand. Andy Signore is, if he did all that’s alleged, a sicko and should be criminally prosecuted. It goes far beyond just being gross or creepy, or just too forward and treads heavily on using celebrity and position to violate women. I do not, however, believe the iconic photo of the sailor and nurse is of an assault. Neither did the nurse as in the same interview, she said they were all thrilled and celebrating and she didn’t feel assaulted. All of this is to say it can be about perception, but there has to be a line.

Where is that line? Well, I like to oversimplify things and am developing a chart with a few categories.

Are you a “somebody”? (media, film, or Internet celebrity of some kind in your mind or everyone’s)

    • Seduce / make overtures toward a fan – wrong
    • Seduce / make overtures toward an intern – wrong
    • Seduce / make overtures toward a member of your entourage – wrong.
    • Seduce / make overtures toward a service employee (hair, makeup, etc) – wrong
    • Seduce / make overtures toward a member of the media – wrong
    • Send an inappropriate picture of your body to anyone you’re not married to – wrong
    • Physically touch an area covered by a bathing suit of anyone without asking – wrong

Are you someone’s Boss? (having a supervisory or ownership position in or of a company)

    • Seduce / make overtures toward – an employee under your supervision – wrong
    • Seduce / make overtures toward – an employee not under your supervision – wrong
    • Seduce / make overtures toward – an employee working for a related company – wrong
    • Promise (or threaten) anything for sexual favors – wrong
    • Give unwanted gifts to an employee – wrong
    • Give / ask for inappropriate photographs – wrong
    • Physically touch and employee you supervise anywhere – wrong
    • Physically touch an employee you don’t supervise but that you work with – wrong
    • Physically touch an area covered by a bathing suit of anyone without asking – wrong

Are you just some guy / gal (because yes…. these are all for both genders)?

    • Seduce / make overtures toward someone without polity asking if it’s OK first – wrong
    • Send an inappropriate picture of your body to anyone you’re not married to – wrong
    • Ask for inappropriate photographs – wrong
    • Physically touch an area covered by a bathing suit of anyone without asking – wrong

These seem like some pretty rudimentary rules but damn, why does it seem like so many people are having such a hard time with it. Let’s say you’re a straight man. Do you want your ass lovingly caressed on a subway by a gay guy? Let’s say you are a gay man. Would you want some straight woman boss rubbing her chest on your while pointing something out on your computer screen? Let’s say you’re you…. would you want anyone telling you you have to put out so that your spouse or significant other could keep their job? NO! No you would not. Have some empathy….. lack of empathy is the problem.

Ownership rights

I think of firearms as I might a car. It’s a machine that has its uses and mine stays parked a lot more than I’d like it to.

I bought both at dealers. I settled for some features but generally got what I wanted. I enjoy using both.  In a pinch, both can be used as a weapon and you can intentionally or unintentionally kill people with both. An Estimated 38,300 (up 8% from 2014) were killed on U.S. roads in 2015 according to the National Safety council with another 4.4 million injured. According to the CDC, 33,000 people were killed by a firearm in 2014. Only one of these devices requires a license and only one is purpose designed to be a weapon.

My thought is this. If you have to have a drivers license to operate a motor vehicle which is dangerous, why not to operate a firearm? Sure, it’s our constitutional right to bear arms but that doesn’t mean everyone should. It is not your right to own a vehicle, but far more do these days than don’t. An estimated 95% of households in the US own motor vehicles and they’ve “proven” themselves to be competent operators of these machines meeting federal government standards. Wouldn’t it be prudent to make anyone who claims to be responsible enough to operate a firearm prove their competence? All that is required right now is a simple background check and those are not as stringent as they should probably be.

Concealed carry permits require there to be no documented history of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, history of violent behavior, etc. on top of the regular felony free back ground check. I feel the concealed carry class on how to handle a gun along with the background check should be mandatory for owning and operating a fire arm. You could even have learner’s permits issued to kids just like learners permits for cars. Just as with cars, for the student to use a fire arm or have one in his possession, a licensed adult must be present. It’s a no brainer and it doesn’t infringe on an individual’s rights.

I know plenty of people without a car who have a driver’s license, especially in big cities. You can have a license to use one without owning one and in the case of a firearm, I think this would be appropriate as well. The government could tie this in to the state or federal ID process. Imagine the education or social programs that could be funded with a 20 dollar licensing fee every few years or so. If the individual opted for a concealed carry endorsement, there’s another fifty for the state and you know the person is highly and effectively trained.

The second amendment reads as follows: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In plain English this says that the people, aka you and me, can own a firearm if they plan to defend their State and that a State has the right to form and regulate a Militia force. If you’re agreeing to the right to bear arms by baring arms, then you agree to use those arms to defend your “…free State…” Wouldn’t it make sense for someone who is bearing arms to say, out loud or in writing, that they are willing to be deputized in the event they (and by extension they’re firearm) is required in defense of their state? I don’t know a gun owner who wouldn’t defend their home, family, or the USA if terrorists or other nare-do-wells attacked so what would be the issue with saying they would do a thing they are already willing to do?

I hear the arguments. Government regulations…. Blah blah…. Infringing on my rights…. Blah blah…. Putting their fingers in my pie… blah blah. If you can’t tell, I don’t think much about those arguments when I myself own a gun and am readily willing to be regulated. I am not a criminal. I am not going to run wildly though the streets shooting off my gun. I will not be unsafe with my use of my fire arm and I’d love to have a state issued card saying I’m ready to defend, life, limb, family, and liberty where ever I go. If you’re willing to too, you would have no problem with the firearms owner’s license.

An Open Letter to “Monument Activists” on both sides

Free speech is a thing in this country. It has been since our constitution was written and throughout our sad and bloody history, it’s been championed by both sides of the argument. Those who wish to include and those who wish to exclude have both claimed protection under the first amendment. In local news here in my neck of the woods some people are up in arms over the removal of confederate monuments at government sites. This is an open letter to both sides.

Stop it. Just listen to one another for a minute or two. I don’t mean let the other side talk while you consider your next retort. I mean really listen.

To the opponents of removing the confederate monuments I say that your symbol, one you might believe to be of history and heritage is no longer viewed by the wider world as what you think it means. That sucks. I’m sorry that’s happened to a symbol you hold dear. You have something in common with the Navajo, the Norse, the Chinese, and a hundred other cultures who for 12000 years used the swastika as a symbol of the pursuit of knowledge, peace, and a symbol of the sun. It is now almost universally seen as a symbol of hate and intolerance, and fear. If you had a symbol that you viewed as something you found hideous, heinous, emblematic of injustice and embracing everything you see as wrong with the world, would you shrug and say, “Oh well, it’s history.” or would you fight to have it removed. The proponents of removing these monuments are doing just that. They see your symbol of heritage as much of the rest of the civilized world does. They see it as hate. They see it as ignorance. They see it as fear. If you could put yourself in their position, if you could think selflessly and see the pain that your symbols of heritage and history can cause another human being, you might find a compromise somewhere. There is always a compromise.

To the proponents of removing these symbols, think again about the history of the symbol. We could let these symbols go the way of the swastika, a symbol once revered by hundreds of cultures. We could see them as hateful and ignorant and intolerant and let the world view them as an empty hate image or we could try to see them as something else. Try to understand that the opponents of removal don’t all see this the way you do. Many of them don’t think they’re hateful or ignorant. They see the history of the south depicted in these monuments and flags. They’re not trying to bring back a society that marginalized a people but they want to remember that the confederate states existed and fought for what they believed to be right. In their view, the national government was oppressive and was taking away the rights of the people and so they fought. Maybe how you’re fighting now against a regime, or reality tv president, you disagree with. Just because you don’t share the views of the people who wore confederate gray, doesn’t mean we need to erase them from history. Were they wrong? Probably, but none of those issues of slavery and property exist now and will never again. Political motivation and “rights” are still hotly debated topics regardless of what those rights might be. These people, your neighbors who want to keep these monuments, don’t want to go back to those days, but want to remember that a part of history happened here; Maybe to avoid repeating the worst parts. There has to be a way to compromise.

To both sides I say this: None of this really matters. A wise friend of mine used to say, “No one will remember this in 200 years.” What he means is that this conflict doesn’t matter. How do you know what your great great great grandchildren will think about this argument. The world is becoming more and more inclusive and rejecting anything that keeps us apart. If we come together over the monument issue and they become symbols we can all embrace or if we come together and take each other’s views and pains into account, it doesn’t really matter. We will eventually tear down all barriers when we realize we’re all one people. We don’t have to forget our history if we remove a flag, we don’t have to have a statue to remember who we are, we don’t have to hate each other because we have differing opinions and it is never alright to make one person feel afraid to make your point. If there is a lesson to be taken from the Civil War and the fall of the Confederacy, it is this:

Be Better. That’s all the monument we really need.

A case for taxes

I am tired of people bitching about taxes. I get it, I really do. You don’t want to work hard for money that you don’t get to spend on food, clothes, a roof or toys but there is more to existence than those things. You know, like roads to get to work or to go to the store to buy your toys or like plumbing and sewers to take away the waste from your food. Like sanitation to remove the garbage left behind by these things. Etc. Etc.

I read a Facebook post that was complaining about taxes that pay for mosquito control among other things. We NEED mosquito control in Louisiana! The primary argument is that the politicians are stealing the funds payed into taxes…. then DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE POLITICIANS! Don’t harsh the taxes that are pretty low when spread out over the population and that actually benefit us.

Here’s how this works for people who still don’t get it:

You have a group of people who form a town. That town needs roads, schools, and basic infrastructure. If everyone puts in a little bit, then we can pay for all of those things. We need a smaller group within that group of people to make sure the money is being spent wisely and is allocated in order of importance so we elect the trustworthy among us to manage things. There’s the flaw. Deal with that flaw and stop complaining about having to pay a tax that will do you some good.