Home » Posts tagged 'politics'

Tag Archives: politics

The Arresting Rise of the Social Media Police

You type a few sentences, add a link or post a picture and hit SEND. Then the sirens start. WARNING! WARNING! The social media police are stalking you, ready to take you down.

Watch Out!

It was a pretty simple joke. I updated my status on Facebook with what was meant to be a humorous comment, referencing a current event. Tainted, of course, with a little sarcasm. I thought it was harmless and was surprised when a dear old friend took offense to it.

Is there anything at all that isn’t offensive to someone these days?

Social Media is a way for us to connect. We share our thoughts, what we’re doing, our hopes and dreams– we may reach out for support, ask opinions or look for some healthy debate. It’s called sharing. It’s called communication. We use it to keep touch and stay informed — maybe even learn a thing or two.

I’ve found that most posts in social media fall into three categories: I felt this, I did this, and I saw this (and I want to share it).

How is that a bad thing?

Even if you post something that might not be a popular opinion– it’s nothing more than an expression of who you are at that given moment. Doesn’t freedom of speech give you that right?

Is there such a thing as inappropriate content? Of course there is….. BUT Politics, religion, entertainment, current events, family– your life– is completely within your rights to share.

My Opinion

I seriously think there are a lot of people that should not be connected to social media. They aren’t capable of accepting what they find there– or allowing others to exercise their right to free speech. They don’t want to discuss or debate an issue they may disagree with– but they will judge you for posting it.

Do I read, like or comment on everything posted on social media? No, of course not. I do, however, respect the right of people to post it. If I want to engage with people about it, then I will. Most of the time though, people just want to get something off their chest, share a story or state their point of view. They aren’t really looking to have a conversation. That’s okay, too.

On topics I’m not interested in or disagree with — I just scroll on by. If it’s ‘fake news’ or something I feel strongly about, I’ll try to use it as a ‘teaching moment’ and comment. What I will not do, is criticize or state an opposing view that I am not prepared to back up. What would be the point?

That is where the social media police come in.

So exactly who are they?

They are the people that troll online, criticizing people and trying to regulate what they want to see. Don’t even try to please them because they will always find something wrong with your posts.

They are the people that don’t like a specific thing– sports, politics, religion, even cuteness– and issue ultimatums. Usually, that will include the threat that they will delete you or stop following you, if you don’t submit to their demands. They think it is their right to control you.

It becomes difficult when the attacks come from someone you respect, love, work with, or from family. The bottom line is: maybe you (and they) need to stick to other ways to connect. Avoid the rush and get off social media if you can’t handle it.

I’m a political person. Even so, after the above mentioned friend threatened to delete me for my politics, I did a quick look back. Of my past 50+ posts on Facebook, only 10 (20%) had anything to do with current events (not counting entertainment industry posts) and not all of those were even political. For the ‘average’ person– is that too much if that’s what interests them?

Would you tell a mother not to post pictures or stories about their child? Would you tell an actor or musician not to share their work? How about someone fighting cancer or a sports enthusiast? Should they stop posting specific things because you say so? It’s ridiculous.

Sure, I’ve unfollowed some people and even deleted a couple. I’ve never bullied them. At the same time, some of my most favorite people (on social media) are those with whom I have diametrically opposing views on certain issues. Because — we can talk about it, maybe debate it and also even sometimes joke about it. We show respect for one another. I think we enrich each other’s lives because we are open-minded enough to want to learn and understand each other. We’re better people because of it.

Advice to the Would Be Social Media Police

Get off social media!

It’s that simple.

No one has the right to try and control another person. Stop being a bully. You are not the center of the universe. If you don’t like what you see on Facebook or Twitter? Close your account. Shut down your computer. Take a walk. Breathe.

I think if you’re the type of person that just wants to see pictures or cute posts of puppies and food– there are still probably email lists you can sign up for to get your daily dose.

Don’t like what you’re seeing? Your misery and controlling nature doesn’t need to be forced on the rest of us who might actually appreciate the diversity of the world.

Knowledge is power. Acceptance is the key.

If you really don’t like what your friends are posting, maybe you’re just too afraid of learning something new. Or maybe, you really just don’t like your friends.

You decide.

Blind Hate

love_hate_525I’ll never understand what causes people to become so enraged and be so hateful.

Believe it or not, everyone was not born to hate and everyone was not born a hateable stereotype.

Where does hate come from? Is it jealousy? Partiality? Being disrespected? Envy? Ignorance? Or is hate purely based in fear?

At what point did hate become the acceptable alternative to loving all mankind?

Hate is an extreme, passionate emotion, just like love. Are we strictly taught to hate? In the process, do many people even bother to think about it logically and try to discover the origin of it in their own lives?

An-eye-for-an-eyeAll hate doesn’t evolve into violence. All hate does affect behavior and the treatment of others. Sometimes the vehemently caustic words so easily expressed by some, are more damaging than actual physical violence enacted by others.

We often see hate expressed violently in correlation to religion, race, politics and class. At what point did these groups become nothing more than targeted and often, victimized stereotypes? Granted, it’s much easier to hate a group than it is to hate an individual. It certainly saves time. If someone really wants to live in an isolated bubble then hating, by definition is a simple solution. Why waste time getting to know people as individuals?

Hate+ Isolation= An Ignorant, Fear-Filled Life

Hate2wIn social media, you see so many people expressing feelings, judging others and many times probably not even realizing, that what they are doing is hurtful. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. People really need to realize that the way they express their opinions can come across as hateful and hurtful to others; even if it is unintentional. I completely defend everyone’s right to freedom of speech and practice it myself, frequently. But, I believe there is more danger in the words of those– that unknowingly, express hatred towards others than those that side with, and identify with openly defined hate groups.

Love-and-Hate2Politics is one of the most visible arenas for acceptable expressions of hate. Parties disagree. We all understand that. Threats and total disregard for another viewpoint without any credible validation? Unacceptable.

It’s an election year and we have candidates perpetuating hate on both sides. In effect, what I hear from politicians is quite often the exact same accusations and promises, twisted to their benefit, according to what they think the public wants to hear. Or, at least enough people to get them elected.

Politicians are hypocrites and thrive on contradiction. Politics has become a game of hate. Who hates whom more?

In a game, there is a winner and a loser.

In a game of hate, no one wins and everyone loses.

Isn’t it the same with every other aspect of our society? Instead of hating others because of their differences, how about some meaningful discussions about how we can all get along and come to some concrete, acceptable solutions? Does loving one another no longer exist? How about some education and acceptance?

But that would take time and effort. People might be required to step out of the safety of their bubble….

 

It’s much easier to just hate.

My First Annual Turkey Awards

I’m proud to present my 1st Annual Turkey Awards. (No offense to turkeys intended.) I noticed some other people were doing this, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon.

You know the people we’re talking about, right? The ones that say and do stupid things. They make bad and irresponsible decisions, violating the trust of the community.  And yes, I included businesses and groups because as we learned during the election (and apparently the Supreme Court agrees): Corporations are people.

Most of these are off the top of my head but I’m sure you can think of plenty of your own ‘turkeys‘ from the past year. (My list is in no particular order.)

John McCain for being the angriest, nastiest, most vindictive and dishonest man in politics this year.

The Entire Cable and Network News Media for disregarding unbiased reporting in favor of fear-based pandering.

Congress for not putting the best interest of the American people above their own special interests.

School District U-46 for putting cash over class. U-46 accepted a cash donation from a religious organization in exchange for priority use of the school district’s facilities. In one instance, giving them what they wanted pushed the BHS Fall Play out of its normal scheduled spot and shoved it in to the weekend before Thanksgiving. (There was more than a 50% drop in attendance with no classes the following week.) Contradicting it’s own written policies in the matter, U-46 put an outside group, not even based within the District’s boundaries, ahead of school programing.

All 2012 Political Campaigns for spending more than (an estimated) three billion dollars this campaign cycle. Imagine what could be done with that money to help our current economic situation and those in need.

The Obamacare Haters. Top Gobble Gobbles to John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s; Denny’s franchise owner John Metz; and Apple-Metro CEO Zane Tankel for public threats made in response to the Affordable Healthcare Act. Threatening to add surcharges, cut hours and lay-off employees is not the way to build public confidence with consumers or employees. (Especially if you pay most of your employees minimum wage and no benefits, while you live in a 4o,ooo sq. ft. castle estate.)

Black Friday/Black Thursday Businesses for forcing employees to work on the Thanksgiving holiday, taking them away from their families in the name of profit margin. I, for one, am boycotting any business opening before midnight tonight, for the entire holiday season.

Celebrities Behaving Badly. Take your pick. I think any person that enters the public arena has a responsibility to be a role model to others, particularly our youth. Unfortunately, instead of being chastised and sent off into oblivion, they are given even more publicity and air time.

So that’s my list for this year. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. To all those that have to work, I salute you! Best Wishes!

An Open Letter To My Biological Family

Dear Family,

First let me say, I love you – unconditionally — more than you’ll ever know.  We have our own unique history and are forever bound together by the miracle of life.  We are all alike and at the same time, quite different in many ways.

I unfriended you all on Facebook for one simple reason: I didn’t like seeing some of the posts you made that I found false, hurtful and unfeeling. I’m not saying you had any intention for that to happen — but it has, repeatedly, especially over the past three months.

We can still view each other’s pages—I did not block you – but I now feel freer to post my thoughts and opinions and you can do the same. If I choose to view your page, it will be a risk I’ll take but I promise I won’t comment on it. I unfriended the kids as well, not that we communicate that often—but out of respect for you as parents and any concerns you might have that I am too controversial or influential.

I have never suggested that you not share your feelings or beliefs—even if they hurt me deeply. I have tried to get you to understand, to verify, and to support (through sources and links) any of your stated ‘facts’ that I have questioned. Instead of defending your comments, you’ve chosen to ignore or delete mine—completely invalidating my concerns.

I’m sorry if I embarrass you—and I only say that because Dad told me in an email recently, that I was “too gay” – I believe intending to mean that he thought I was too publicly open about it.

I cannot help who I am. I know you can’t fully believe that because you think that God would ‘change’ me if I let him, or at the very least, I should abstain from any semblance of what, for me, is a normal life.  I tried that. I hated myself for years because I wasn’t what I was taught God wanted or what you wanted me to be.

For nearly half my life, I lived in a hell on earth trying to be different. I stopped and won’t do it anymore. I am a proud, happy, gay man. The only two things that make us different are that I don’t have children and I share my life with another man—who has loved me unconditionally for over 19 years. (Yes, I know I’m a handful!)

You’ve accused me of being completely blinded by ‘the Obama agenda’ and think that is why I have been upset with all of you. You’ve also accused me of smearing the family name because I have spoken out against what I see as hateful talk. I have been upset because you say you accept me, then vote for a man and a political agenda that will do anything to make sure that I am nothing more than a second-class citizen and not afforded the same rights as you.  I don’t want special rights — just equal rights.

Actions speak louder than words. You have publicly posted and declared your support for businesses and political candidates that oppose my civil rights. I realize there is more to your decisions and probably little has anything to do with human rights issues. When your posts have offended me, I have tried to open up a dialogue with limited success.  I hear your words to me personally… but your actions speak differently.

Why is this so important to me? You brought me up to believe in unconditional love. Doesn’t that also mean you would want to support my equality? This goes beyond me personally—when as many as 1 in 3 LGBT youth attempt suicide and many bullied youth take their own lives as well. The message of love and acceptance couldn’t be more important today. These are young lives that I would think as Christians, you would want to save. Ignoring it, or voting against it, doesn’t make it go away.

I turn 50 next month — maybe that’s why I feel the need to speak out now. Maybe it’s time to communicate after nearly 30 years of silence on the subject. Or, maybe it’s just the right thing to do.

I just ask that you look in your hearts, find the compassion you profess and share that love with others, as you brought me up to believe was right.

I love you,

Jeff

PS– I am posting this publicly, not to embarrass you– but in hopes that it might help someone else going through the same experiences.

Christians: Do You Remember How To Love?

This blog was extremely difficult to write. In a way, it is my response to the recent polarizing Chick-Fil-A controversy and heated religious debate over the 2012 presidential election. My intent in writing this was not meant to be accusatory but instead, a challenge to those that read it. –JL

I have only one question for all the self-identified Christians of the world: “Do you remember how to love?

I was raised on the Christian faith. For most of my first 18 years, if the church doors were open– my family was there. Yet, I was taught to believe interracial dating and marriage were wrong, homosexuality was wrong (it goes without saying that gay marriage was an abomination) and that basically, all other religions and even Christian denominations outside our own — were misguided and most likely would not reach the kingdom of heaven. I was taught Catholics were not true Christians and that the Baptist belief, once saved always saved was a fallacy.

In my late teens, I decided I wanted to change churches and go to my cousins’ church which was charismatic. My Dad was so angered by this decision, he told me I would have to move out if that’s what I chose. So I did. After some thought, he quickly reconsidered and came to the conclusion that as long as I was going to church… it was better than me not going at all and I was allowed to move back in.

Now at the age of 49, I am coming out as Agnostic. I’m not sure what to believe.

From my earliest childhood memories, I was taught to ‘Love one another‘. The Bible verse, one of many that repeat this phrase, comes from John 13:34:

I am giving you a new commandment to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (International Standard Version)

In preparing this blog post, the phrase ‘and the greatest of these is love‘ kept sticking in my head. So I had to look it up. The verse reads:

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, New Living Translation)

I was taught love the doer not the deed. Love the sinner not the sin. That’s Unconditional Love.

But where has it gone?

It is supposed to be the goal of all Christians to not only lead by example but also to witness and bring the hope of Christianity to the whole world. What I’ve seen in my lifetime, is the growing desire to create laws and alienate people that do not subscribe to the same belief system as those of the Christian faith. How is that demonstrating unconditional love? The gay rights movement is not about receiving special benefits above those of others. It is about seeking equality. Equality that is prevented by unnecessary laws created by Christian lawmakers in an effort to secure special rights for themselves and in effect, taking away the rights of others.

Marriage Equality is a legal issue, not a religious one. No one is trying to force churches to recognize, perform or accept marriage ceremonies in religious terms. Laws make marriage a legal contract and give many special benefits to married partners not available to unmarried couples. Tax breaks, issues over property ownership and healthcare are all brought into play. The Christian right campaigns and preaches against marriage equality because they believe it weakens the very definition of marriage and somehow impedes on their rights. It has become a hateful game of morality vs. legality… and exhibits anything but unconditional love.

This might be a good point to remind you that the origins of marriage were actually based on a man’s declaration of ownership of a woman. Marriage was not originally based on a religious contract with God.

The staggering divorce rate in our county is at 60% among those without an expressed religious affiliation but is still a huge 38% among those identified as practicing Christians. Maybe Christians could focus more on counseling and nurturing couples through those difficult times, sharing love and support with those that need guidance, instead of blocking loving partners from legally committing to one another.

The alienation that Christians are creating in the name of protecting their religious beliefs is having a devastating effect on the moral and religious fiber that was once tightly woven into our society. People are being driven away. Hate and fear is replacing love.

Religious Differences. The Religious Right has continued to accuse our President of being Muslim despite his identification as a Christian believer. They see that as a threat and fear that any religion unlike theirs, challenges their existence. Our country protects all religions and provides for their freedom to worship. The Christian proclamation that theirs is the only true religion is yet another example of hate and divisiveness in our country. More than ever, we need unity, compassion and acceptance.

Fear-Based Christianity has replaced the Christianity based on love and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

So where is the love? The saying goes, You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  In that case, why are so many Christians so bitter? If only Christians could return to the basic concept of loving their neighbor instead of fearing them, there might actually be a chance of a Christian resurgence in America.

All  you need is love.

Political Rant: UNITED States of America?

The biggest thing that I have realized from the Republican and Democratic conventions is that the United States is anything but united. Whether the differences are separated by borders or by party and ideology– the leaders, or people that hope to lead our country are ignoring the basic fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty and justice for all does not exist.

Why are the parties in our country constantly fighting the same battles over and over again? How hard is it to see that All Men Are Created Equal, means equal rights for all people– regardless of skin color… male, female… old, young… straight, gay… rich, poor… Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim…EQUAL. I am entitled to no more rights than you– and you have no more rights than me. EQUAL.

Do I really need to remind anyone that it wasn’t that many years ago that in some states it was illegal for Caucasians and African Americans to marry? Now the issue is gay marriage. What’s the big deal? The deal is that marriage, which was once strictly a religious commitment, has been made a legally binding contract with rights and privileges. Eliminate the legal benefits of marriage and the problem is solved. No one is asking for a church to be forced into marrying a couple whose union does not agree with that church’s beliefs.

A side note: I actually heard a TV preacher back-tracking on the issue of interracial marriage last week, claiming the church was never against it in theory— but that in biblical times, it was forbidden solely to protect Jesus’ bloodline from being polluted!

Too many Americans feel they are uniquely entitled to something… marriage benefits, welfare, tax breaks, special privileges, wealth… Entitlement does not spell Equality. It amazes me that there are people that actually believe the upper class are wealthy people because they work harder than the middle and lower class. Unfortunately, our country is unfairly dominated by the upper class.

We live in a country where people will sue for anything because they are entitled. Who wins? The person who can pay the best lawyer. Money talks. How is that fair and equal?

I don’t think it’s right to penalize someone for being rich but they should have to pay their fair share of taxes, as should the poor. Wealth people can spend their money any way they like… if they choose to give back to their community– even better. They don’t need to be rewarded for it. Poor people can spend their money how they want as well– but shouldn’t expect handouts if they choice to use their resources foolishly and live beyond their means. The existing class structure is killing our country and entitlement is at fault.

I took a political quiz yesterday that suggested my political leanings ranked in the following order: Democrat, Green, Libertarian, and finally, Republican (a distant 20% from the other three parties; Democrat, ranking 89%.) Does this mean that I hate, or am against anyone that is Republican? Absolutely not. But, as an educated and fairly knowledgeable person, I just can’t understand, or agree with the philosophies and platform of the Republican party. What’s worse, I can’t understand why Republicans can’t verbalize the grounds of their beliefs or justify their actions.

I grew up in a Republican household. In my first election, I voted a straight Republican ticket, but it was because I was uninformed. I simply tied ‘Republicans’ with religion and what was right and ‘Democrats’ with sin and all that was wrong with the country. Ignorant, huh? I didn’t know any better. I wasn’t mature enough to think for myself and let others tell me what was right and wrong.

The Republicans constantly babble on and on about smaller government, yet their beliefs and ideals force the need for more laws and bigger government to protect and provide for those that are victimized for not holding the same beliefs and ideologies. In addition, at least the past three Republican administrations have grown bigger government, increased the national debit and added many jobs to the public sector but not the private sector as they claim is their goal.

What has happened to the separation of Church and State? The Republicans have made a big deal over the fact that the Democratic platform didn’t initially mention God. It’s my belief that politics and religion shouldn’t mix. Religious freedoms are protected by our Constitution and that should be enough. The insinuation that the Democratic party, as a whole, is against religious freedom is ridiculous. It just shouldn’t play a role in politics.

The Republicans claim their biggest concern is the nation’s economy, yet from past examples and current lack of a communicated plan, they are only concerned with their own assumed wealth and prosperity. Which is also amusing, considering that many people that side with the Republican party are not wealthy– but continue to support people who are only concerned with making the rich, richer and which does nothing to improve their own quality of life. As former President Clinton pointed out in his speech to the DNC last night, with what little is known about the Republican economic plan– do the arithmetic and the numbers don’t add up.

I don’t want anyone to think that I drank the Kool-Aid and believe the Democrats are perfect– far from it. I do believe that most of what they strive to achieve is to build a better, stronger and unified America. Our country has to work together for the good of all people.

It should be the goal of all good Americans to contribute to their communities in the best way they can. Some people are wealthier, some are better educated, some are more creative and some are better organizers. If we all worked together and shared our collective strengths– think of what an amazing country this would be!

In this election year, I encourage everyone to do their own research, make their own decisions and stop taking people’s word for granted on the important issues. Look at the facts and do the math. You might be surprised at the solution to the equation.