August 3rd, 2006

MOTHERFUCK CENSORSHIP!

I wanted to reheat this issue and hopefully spark a debate within the comment threads about censorship in music, film, popular & unpopular speech, art, and various other forms of media. I want to be very clear on some things and establish a guideline or two. There is a significant difference between not liking or appreciating a certain medium and perhaps thinking it has no artistic merit or value based on your own standards for what is or is not appealing - and advocating for a government censor that A: does the thinking for all of us across the board and B: deciding based on that ideal alone that said censor can deny us access to anything it deems questionable or in poor taste.

You may not like hard rock music or gospel, you may think Andres Serrano's images are blashphemous and inappropriate, you may not think pornography or erotic imagery is a valid form of expression made to serve a purpose or validate a need. I will not argue that or attempt to change anyone's mind on the subject, I really could care less about anyone's personal interests or standards - moral or otherwise - on what is "good" or "bad".

I personally hate 95% of rap music. I find it trite and boring, it glorifies things I find inane and trivial, and perpetuates stereotypes I personally think are in poor taste. I also think the speech and/or what passes for grammar used in these songs promotes ignorance and stupidity. These are my personal feelings, I don't impose them on anyone who may think that Young Jeezy, Master P, TI or Eightball are genius and that they're the hip-hop/rap world's equivalent of Stevie Wonder, whom I hold in the highest regard. I don't believe that any steps should be made to prevent rappers from making & selling records and consequently raking in millions of dollars, and I don't think that anyone who enjoys that bullshit should NOT be able to buy it if they choose simply because I dislike it. I also hate Paris Hilton, Jessica & Ashlee Simpson, James Blunt, and scores of others - but if kudos to anyone that dig them, again - that's your business.

I think that the majority of reality television is complete horseshit. I refuse to watch The Simple Life or The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. More power to those who find it entertaining, that's your business and I'm not telling anyone that they have no right to enjoy it. I'm not going on a campaign to have the channels that carry them taken off the air. I also hate all TV Evangelists, to include (but not limited to) Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley, Robert Tilton, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell. I'm sure millions of people are inspired by them and take no objection to their lavish lifestyles and blatant thievery, and so be it - I have the right to think whatever I want to think about them, but I have no interest in getting them off the air or trying to tell anyone who chooses to give them money that they cannot do that. We're adults, we all have choices.

Getting to unpopular speech, I support Fred Phelps constitutional right to say whatever he wants to say, he has the same birthright as an American citizen as I do. Of course I think he's a hatemonger, he's disgusting and he needs to have his ass kicked, but if he has no right to spew his venom then I have no right to spew mine - and neither do you or anyone else. Besides, the more people who know what he'sall about the bigger the consensus that he's nothing more than a complete attention whore who stands for nothing and deserves no recognition. Same thing with racist organizations like the KKK or the White Aryan Resistance. I'd rather they were afforded the opportunity to speak their hate as much as they like so that THINKING people can know who they are and realize that they're complete fucking idiots and that they also stand for nothing and deserve no recognition. Part of the problem is keeping this kind of shit in the closet. If you hate faggots, dykes, and niggers, fine - but have the balls to be the biggest, loudest homophobe/racist that you can and be all that your microcephalic little punkin' heads will allow you to be. declare your hatred of fags at a Cher concert, that's what I want you to do. Talk loudly about how much you hate those nasty bulldykes at a Melissa Etheridge concert. Talk about how them freeloadin' niggers are lazy and good for nothin' when you're at a 50 Cent concert, then I'll listen to you all day. Put your money where your mouth is or SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.

I have the choice to not buy rap cd's. I have the choice to not watch Janice Dickinson, that trainwreck or a talentless, UGLY fucking bitch make an asshole of herself by doing nothing more than wasting oxygen. I find the idea of her show entertaining in no way, unless she somehow manages to impale herself on a rusty spike and then I'll delight in laughing my monkey ass off at her - that's about all that's going to make me even remotely interested in her show. The whole model/fashion thing is completely ridiculous to me anyway, I think it's shallow and vapid and espouses many of the things I find deplorably overrated and insignificant. MY opinion, I'm entitled to it.

So - what are your thoughts on censorship? Be as detailed in your comments as you want to be.

The Ties That Bind

I get this text message out of the clear blue the other day that said:
"I'm going to be in town and I want to see you - call me (XXX-XXX-XXXX) or Donna (XXX-XXX-XXXX) and we'll work out the details - Love, Mikki".
I was absolutely over the moon! Mikki (Monique) is one of my closest friends in the world. We met when we were teenagers and she, her twin sister Monica, and another lifelong friend Donna and I were inseparable. We called ourselves "The Hard Pack", a result of the fact that we all smoked Camel Lights and had a giant Joe Camel poster on the living room wall of the apartment we lived in on Lenox Road back in the beginning of the 1990's. We've been in and out of touch on and off for years, after we all left Atlanta and scattered all over the place. Monica stayed in Atlanta for a few years, got married, and now lives in Florida with her husband and 4 boys. Donna got married as well, had a baby girl, and currently is living in Newnan. Mikki left Atlanta for the Air Force, and has been living in Colorado ever since - not counting a stint in New Mexico. She has two of the most gorgeous, polite, and even tempered children I've ever seen in my life, and a cornfed husband from Indiana that I got to meet yesterday as well. He immediately struck me as the type of man I can trust to take good care of her and honor her and those children as a good man is supposed to do, which made me feel completely at ease.

First I talked to Donna on the phone for about 20 minutes, which was just incredible for me. We spent most of the conversation laughing and talking about her man and mine, and planning on seeing one another this Thursday when she comes into town for a bit. She lives closest to me, maybe an hour away and just south of Atlanta, so I can count on seeing her on at least a somewhat regular basis.

We talked about old times and a few things we did when we were much younger, considerably more irresponsible and fearless, and unbound by everything we know now about life, making choices in the world, and what it all can do to you. There are only a few people I know that I can see after a long absence from one another and it's like we pick up exactly where we leave off. I cannot explain what seeing her made me feel like, I don't even have the words. It was priceless to me beyond measure.

I am way past elated at the prospect of getting reacquainted with my sisters - we've considered ourselves family since we met and began going through life together and with everything that has happened to each of us in recent years, I'm starting to feel hopeful that we're beginning to come full circle with one another. I'm going to start by putting together music. There are literally years and hundreds of songs shared between us, and I'm going to wrack by brain getting this stuff on CDs for all of us.

OH YES I WOULD!!!

Sweet lamb filet, this man makes me sweat in my no-no place. I know I was bitching about reality TV shows, and for the most part they really are complete crap, IMHO. I saw a promo spot for this show on Bravo called Work Out, about a lesbian who was running a really swank gym in LA, her dysfunctional relationship with her hellcat Brazilian bitch of a girlfriend, and her strained relationship with her mother, a born-again fundamentalist Christian/Mormon. Sounds right up my alley, I figured I'd give it a shot. Ellen likes her, I like Ellen, that's incentive enough for me.

But then I caught a glimpse of one of the trainers in her employ - the insanely hot Brian, pictured below:



Um, y e a h..... Looks like Damien, Dave Matthews, and Vin Diesel (from the neck down, anyway) had a baby. A smokin' hot baby, that is.

*sigh* Brian Peeler. All 6'2" 216lbs of him. He's from small town North Carolina and has THE sexiest lowcountry-boy drawl you've ever heard. Sure, he's a testosterone junkie and he's got a lot to prove, he's a bit too cocky for his own good, and on the whole the cast of the show is rather juvenile - but just watching him is worth it all. For fuck's sake, just LOOK AT & LISTEN TO him! No really - go follow that link and try not to get wet.

UNGH!

OH, SNAP!

Senator Clinton Makes Rumsfeld Squirm at Iraq Hearing



Senator Clinton's Statements and Question to Rumsfeld:

Thank you very much, Senator McCain.

Mr. Secretary [Rumsfeld], We're glad you are here. In your opening statements, you reference the commonsense of Americans. I think it's fair to say that collective common sense, overwhelmingly, either does not understand or approve of the way you and the administration are handling Iraq and Afghanistan. Under your leadership, there have been numerous errors in judgement that have lead us to where we are in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a full-fledged insurgency and full blown sectarian conflict in Iraq. Now, whether you label it a civil war or not, it certainly has created a situation of extreme violence and the continuing loss among our troops and of the Iraqis. You did not go into Iraq with enough troops to establish law and order. You disbanded the entire Iraqi army. Now, we're trying to recreate it. You did not do enough planning for what it is called "phase four" and you rejected all the planning that had been done previously to maintain stability are the regime was overthrown. You underestimated the nature and strength of the insurgency, the sectarian violence, and the spread of Iranian influence.

Last year, Congress passed "The United States Policy in Iraq Act" which I strongly supported. This law declares 2006 to be a year of significant transition into full Iraqi sovereignty with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq. Thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq. However, we appear to be moving in the opposite direction. With the number of U.S. troops in Iraq scheduled to increase, not decrease. That's the only way I think you can fairly consider the decision with respect to the 172nd striker brigade.

So, Mr. Secretary, as we return to our states for the August recess, our constituents have a lot of questions and concerns about the current state of affairs in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't need to remind any of us that we continue to lose our young men and women. 120 from New York, alone. Besides the U.S. losses, violence does seem to be increasing. From January to June of this year, there were 14,338 Iraqi civilian casualties. At least, as far as anyone can count. In May and June alone, there were more than 5000 deaths and more than 5700 injuries. In a July 22 article in the New York Times, General Abazaid was quoted as saying, "Two months after the new Iraqi government took office, the security gains that we had hoped for had not been achieved." Then there was the big ballyhooed announcement of "forward together" and the commitment by the new Iraqi government to secure Baghdad. Two months into that, it is clear that it's not working and we are now putting in more American troops and following the lead of Senator McCain's line of questioning, we're moving [the troops] from other places that are hardly stable and secure.

In Afghanistan, your administration's credibility is also suspect. In December, 2002, you said the Taliban had gone. In September of 2004, President Bush said, "The Taliban is no longer in existance." However, this February, DIA director, Lt. Gen. Maples said that in 2005, attacks by the Taliban and other anti-coalition forces were up 20% from 2004 levels and these insurgents were a greater threat to the Afghan government's efforts to expand its authority than at any time since 2001. Further, Gen. Ikenberry[sic] made a comparable comment with respect to the dangers that are now going on in Afghanistan and the failure to be able to secure it.

Obviously, I could go on and on. The recent book, aptly titled, "Fiasco", describes in some detail the decision making apparatus that has lead us to this situation. So, Mr. Secretary, when our constituents ask for evidence that your policy in Iraq and Afghanistan will be successful, you don't leave us with much to talk about. Yes, we hear a lot of happy talk and rosy scenarios but because of the administration's strategic blunders and, frankly, the record of incompetence in executing, you are presiding over a failed policy. Given your track record, Secretary Rumsfeld, why should we believe your assurances now?