Sunday, July 29, 2012

As The Cookie Crumbles: Chicken Feed

The GLBT community and its supporters have mounted a propaganda effort against the now-notoriously homophobic ownership of the fast-food franchise, Chic-Fil-A. The chicken sandwich business was already known to support of anti-gay initiatives and endorse for anti-gay candidates. But until recently, mostly, they kept their support of the Fundie-wackloon American Family Association and its ilk mostly under wraps. They didn't flaunt it.

But recently Chi-Fil-A's outspoken  CEO, the chubby, beady-eyed, unhealthily flushed Dan Cathy uped the ante, bu declaring publically that his Corporation stood four-square with "traditional Biblical mores," and condemned outright the Marriage Equality movement.

Now, nationally, the GLBT "community" seems to be making Cathy an offer he either or cannot refuse: withdraw/retract your ignorant, "bible-based" slanders against GLBT people, or else.

The "Else" being to have the company name and the CEO's identity blackened for public bigotry, with the attendant withdrawal of trade, advertizing, and association from the more tolerant elements of society.

This is not, as some of the Fucktards always assert, a "freedom-of-speech" issue.

Because the censure of Dan Cathy/ChicFilA is occurring in the public sphere, and is in no way  affected--pro or con--by "govt" policy, the 1st Amendment is not at issue.

The issue is: Does "speech" have 'consequences?'


Can those customers aggrieved by the specter of a corporation using revenues derived from the purchases of the aggrieved to insult and further oppress those same customers create and maintain a sufficient presence to cost Chik-Fil-A anything, either financially or in terms of the CorpoRat reputation?

That remains to be seen.

Can Cathy be "silenced" by critics?


He can silence HIMSELF, if he chooses, when he sees that the consequences of his speech--denigrating gays, etc--have ill or adverse effects on his business.

But he can also choose to ignore the criticism and continue.

And those whom he offends may continue to remind him they destest his bigotry.

The fate of Chik-Fil-A does not rest with the State, or the Government. It rests with the "people" and the "market." I don't expect Cathy to change his stand, personally.

And even if he did, I wouldn't trust any retraction to be more than pro forma.

And I won't consume his product again.

And if you want to make your feelings on the matter known, there are three of Cathy's restaurants in Albuquerque for you to avoid...One on the West Side, one in the WHeights, and the last in Nob Hill by the University...

Just sayin.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

WWH/CJE Soap Box: Wrong Place, Wrong Time

On nearly successive nights, two groups of nearly identical numbers of people were tragically killed while scores of others were injured; but the flags are flying at half-mast for one group of victims and La Migra is rounding up the survivors of the other. Citizen Journalist John Konopak poses the rhetorical question: What's the difference?

The capriciousness of fate is the mainspring of an endless number of novels and other imagined dramas. Think of Wilder's (1927) The Bridge at San Luis Rey, which (spoil alert) collapses with a a number of diverse people on it who are there almost by accident. Or the far more pedestrian, but more familiar saga of the Titanic.

Life doesn't imitate art; life reifies art. 

For example: In Colorado, the other night, a bunch of people went to a certain movie-house to watch a certain show.
In a flash, many of them were injured and some killed by an accident.

Because it apparently was just an accident that a homicidal, probably psychotic mad-man chose THAT movie, at THAT theater, at THAT hour to act out his psychopathic fantasies, or answer the voices in his head, or some-other-how go right off the fucking rails.  

Nothing that ANY of them had EVER done made them candidates to die that way that night. They were victims of the caprices of fate. None was COMPELLED to be there by external constraints. It just happened.
But the CorpoRat/SCUM "press" is, of course obsessed. This is a lead story even three or four days later.  Both Stewart and Colbert will lead with it  (if they're not on vacation...)

There were the usual, somber pronouncements from all concerned quarters. The normal outcries of pain, loss and suffering in the community and among the family members. Much was said about the armory the killer had amassed, but it was QUICKLY revealed he'd gotten it all legally. Nothing to see here...

The quest to name an ideological scapegoat was fierce and immediate, but ultimately unsatisfied, so far. The man in custody seems to have the affect and/or the convictions of Beavis or Butthead.
The setting (A Batman midnight showing) and the outlandish, stagey way the attack was carried out, plus later clues linking the alleged shooter to the "Batman" oeuvre, plus the amount and extent of the carnage make GREAT AS HELL TV. This is PRECISELY the kind of stuff TV is designed to purvey. Hell, the President even came to town to lend moral support--and if there were foto-ops to be had, well that's just the way things are, innit?  (The whole tone of the proceedings was captured VERY funnily in an extremely well-written piece in the Onion, on Sunday, which I've linked here on my blog.)

The shootings occurred Saturday night. By Sunday Obomber--relentless and resourceful ravager of the "heathen Pash-too" in the wilds of central Asia, besetting them with drone and hum-vee and probably depleted uranium--had decided THIS Colorado slaughter was worthy of NATIONAL acknowledgment, and ordered the US flag to be lowered to half-mast, and flown there until July 25. There was universal, orchestrated grief, sympathy and compassion, and astonished outrage. The gunman killed or injured nearly 80 people.

There things stood until last night or early this morning when, down near Goliad, Tx (a name fraught with Texan symbolism already), a Ford F-250 pick-up carrying perhaps 25 passengers in the cab and in the bed, left the highway at speed and crashed, killing 13 people--two of whom, it turns out, were infants.

But there hasn't been an out-pouring of humane concern for the victims in the truck. No days of mourning, no lowered flags. Indeed, La Migra has been called, and you know what that means.

Yet, he fates of the dead and injured in the theater is no different from that of the 20 poor workers hitching a ride to town with an amigo who happened to have wheels, and somehow they wind up wedged between a couple of stout trees, having come suddenly to rest from 60 or 70 mph. Dead and injured.

What makes one more due the nation's "respect" that you were unlucky enough to be in one place but not in the other? 

Why should the flags be flying at half staff for the victims in Colorado, while in Texas, the locals are complaining about having to care for the survivors?

What IS the difference?

If you'll forgive a rhetorical question...

And that's another thing:

Flag Etiquette!

In my humblest of opinions, o
rdering the flag flown at half-mast for the Denver victims is a case of sheer, opportunistic, political grandstanding, and an affront to what the gesture has always been meant to convey: NATIONAL mourning at the death of a figure of national significance. 

When did the Flag start to be lowered on whim? Or on the deaths of "ordinary folks?"

It wasn't all that long ago that that gesture was reserved to domestic political and/or military leaders. Ted Kennedy. Ronald Reagan. Robert Byrd. Jesse Helms. People of stature and consequence.
Now, of course, like everything else, the gesture has been cheapened and trivialized. The Chimperor Bush ordered flags flown at half-mast after the killings on the Virginia Tech campus. Gov. Tub-o'-Guts of New Jersey lowered NJ flags to half-mast for that singer. 

But, traditionally, the flag LOWERED to half-staff on the event of the death of ordinary citizens, no matter the gravity of the tragedy, or the number of the victims.. 

It's an honor reserved for the deaths of ex-presidents and the like. It is a gesture of national respect. 

Nothing in the deaths in Denver commands our RESPECT. Sympathy, yes; regret, or course; condolence, naturally. And recognition.

But unless they're willing to lower the flag in honor of ALL shooting victims, everyday, everywhere, it's just a horse-shit gesture, insincere, and highly visible. Election-year politics of the most obvious kind.

You can't BUY a better photo-op.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

As the Cookie Crumbles: Patriotic Poison

I am not a big fan of "patriotism." Behind it's bloody flags and booming drums are conducted the most egregiously and self-consciously evil acts of which men are capable.

Not only the killing and the maiming and the destruction, but the conniving and the thievery and the profiteering and the cowardice, too.

Oscar Wilde thought of it that "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious."

At Nuremberg, the Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering opined: "... the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

The redoubtable Julius Ceasar recorded his thoughts on the matter:: ""Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind."

The first important American sociologist, Thorsten Veblen said of patriotism: "Sensational appeals to patriotic pride and animosity made by victories and defeats...[helps] direct the popular interest to other, nobler, institutionally less hazardous matters than the unequal distribution of wealth or of creature comforts. Warlike and patriotic preoccupations fortify the barbarian virtues of subordination and prescriptive authority."

World renowned psychologist Erich Fromm held patriotism in low esteem: "Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. "Patriotism" is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say, that by "patriotism" I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice."

Neither of the contemporaries George Bernard Shaw nor Bertrand Russell had much good to say about it. Shaw, ever irascible, thought "Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy." Russel wrote: "Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons."

And of course, that is the subject of Wilfred Owen's wrenching, poetic account of the deadly costs of trench warfare and the "glories" of perishing for God and Country: "Dulce et Decorum Est." In one of those freakish flickers of fate, Owen was killed on NEARLY the last day of World War One. Read it here:

Perhaps most tellingly and famously, according to Dr. Johnson, lo these many hundreds of years ago,  "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."

Times change: Today, oftener, it is the FIRST refuge of the scoundrel, the pernicious pettifogger, the draft-dodging militant, and the precious poseur.

There is an extensive debate over who first said, When  fascism came to the USofA, it would be carrying a cross and be wrapped in the flag, and would be called "Americanism." It probably wasn't either Sinclair Lewis or Huey Long; it might have been a fellow named Haford Luccock, sometime in the early 30s, according to the New York Times of the day. Though the sentiment has long been a familiar one.

But none can doubt its truth, any longer, I think, since that dread arrival has already occurred. Flag-wrapped fascism is on radio, every day, and cable television; likewise it's arrival been celebrated from thousands of pulpits, where it's been widely heralded as a necessary restorative to American primacy.