Archive for March, 2013


Kindly Read Your Bible

There are a great many ignorant people who call themselves Christians and like to spout off about how other people behave and call out folks for supposedly persecuting them and whatever else. As a Christian myself, I’d like to remind y’all to actually read your Bibles front to back at least once, and preferably two or three times, before you open your mouths again (or type out your religious opinions on Twitter or wherever).

One of my twitterfolk just posted today that he blocked someone for stupidly chastising him that Jesus was the only person ever crucified.


Only person?

Even if the ignoramus in question didn’t know history, and the fact that Romans routinely crucified people to send a really harsh message about what they were capable of doing to dissidents, you should know from reading the damn Bible that two other people (thieves) were being crucified right next to Jesus!

Christians who can’t be bothered to actually read their Bibles or pay attention in church are, in my opinion, not allowed to comment on their own religion, criticize others’ practice of it, judge anyone (and if you read your Bible you’d know you aren’t supposed to judge), correct anyone on spiritual matters, etc.

It’s bad enough to read the Bible and misunderstand it…or take the symbolic parts literally…or not consider context…or anything else that leads to ignorant attitudes. But when you can’t even get the facts straight on something as basic as crucifixion, you simply need to go into a corner and leave the rest of us alone.

Oh, and may you have a blessed Easter season if you recognize it as a spiritual time and/or a holiday celebration.


I’m Gonna Need Some’a Y’All to Shut Up

Opponents of same-sex marriage have some arguments they like to fall back on a lot. Never mind that most of them fall into wet, sloppy shreds if you apply even the smallest amount of critical thinking.

marriage-equality-symbolThere’s the famous “slippery slope” theory that tells us gay marriage will lead to legalized pedophilia and bestiality and incestuous marriage between first-order relatives. Of course, because same-sex relationships and marriage are between consenting adults, there is no correlation to pedophilia and bestiality. And also, on the topic of animals, same-sex intimacy is actually pretty common in various species, and rarely do they fuck up fellow members of their species for indulging in such acts. As for legalized incest or incestuous marriage, it also isn’t anywhere near the same thing, as some kind of coercion or control is often in play, making the whole consent thing questionable from the get-go. Also, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any cultures through the ages that smile when incest takes place. It is typically taboo.

Speaking of history, there’s the argument that historically, there is no precedent for same-sex marriage. Hell, I used that one myself in younger years, even though I knew damned well that in various cultures, ancient Greece being the most well-known, there is much history of homosexual liaisons and full-fledged open relationships being not just condoned but often encouraged. Also, I’ve become aware of the fact recently that in the early Christian church, there are documented cases of same-sex marriage ceremonies taking place.

But, when all else fails, there’s the trump card, right? Same-sex marriage shouldn’t exist because marriage exists for the purpose of raising kids.

Now, this is the point where many people, even those who aren’t sure about letting men marry men and women marry women, might point out that many people get married with no intention of having children and many infertile people get married, and same-sex opponents have no problem with that.

That, of course, is because the people spouting that theory of marriage-is-all-about-spawning will tell you that people can change their minds about having kids and infertile people sometimes (though with vanishingly slim odds and a frequency that comes close to “never”) do end up conceiving.

But you know what, even though I think the argument of marriage being only about raising biological kids is stupid, I’m prepared to let the same-sex marriage opponents have it…and back them up on their refusal to allow same-sex marriage…if they make some fundamental(ist) and necessary changes to marriage laws nationwide.

Here’s what has to happen:

  • If you are married but have no children, you cannot get the tax benefits for being married.
  • If you are married but have no children, and your spouse dies without a will in place, the inheritance will go to blood relatives. If none exist, the state gets it all.
  • If you are married but have no children, you will have to go through a much more complex and difficult process to adopt than those with children do, because marriage is for the purpose of actually having kids and you haven’t proven yourself by doing that yet.
  • If you are married but have no children, you must defer to blood relatives of your spouse on any matters like surgical consent, end-of-life decisions and other major health and legal matters.
  • Once you no longer have any minor-aged children, you lose all the benefits of marriage as noted above.
  • Adopted children don’t count, as marriage is for the purpose of spawning families, not acquiring them.

So, once those changes are in place, you same-sex marriage opponents have my backing. Because then, you’ll finally be practicing what you preach about what marriage really is about.


Let’s Sit On This Privilege Thing for a Moment

You hear a lot of talk about privilege, and for the most part, I think that talk can be useful. But much like diversity, discrimination, oppression and many others, political correctness and overzealousness risk making the word privilege more and more empty of meaning.

This weekend, there was a piece on NPR—I think it was on “This American Life”—in which one segment talked about a town where many of the struggling people in it had ever even considered the Office Chairpossibility that jobs exist that don’t require you to stand and/or use your hands heavily. Their lives were so caught up in lack of work or jobs that wore them down that many of them hadn’t encountered people who sit at a desk most of the day until they went to a government office to deal with the process of getting disability benefits.

I’m pretty sure I heard the journalist for the segment at one point close to that anecdote refer to the ability to sit and work as a privilege.

Today, my wife posted a tweet that also mentioned the ability to sit while working as being a privilege (maybe the concept is working through her Twitter timeline or maybe she heard the same segment today…I haven’t asked her yet).

And, on this matter, I will have to disagree with “This American Life” and my fantastic wife Black Girl in Maine (if indeed she actually was buying into that theory), even though I usually would side with both.

I’m pretty sure a person in a telemarketing job isn’t feeling very privileged, and they do a hell of a lot of sitting. I’ve seen photos of women in sweat shops sitting at sewing machines, and they don’t look very privileged either. An overworked word processing or software coding person with crippling carpal tunnel syndrome from that work isn’t in a privileged situation either, though probably better off than the previous two.

And you know what? On the other side of the coin (standing), I have relatives who done machinist work where, as they’ve described it, it sounds like most of their time is spent standing. But they made good hourly pay and even better when they did overtime and they had nice benefits. My mom spent a good part of her adult like as a bartender or a barber, both on-your-feet jobs that while they may not have been lucrative, paid her better (and made her happier) than working as a receptionist in a law firm.

I think the point made on NPR about how isolated from the wider world those workers were and how it colored their perceptions of work environments and job opportunities is valuable. It tells us a lot about education, social class and poverty, for example. It does not, however, teach us that sitting is a privileged spot in life.

I’ve seen a lot of homeless people who aren’t well sitting on sidewalks and begging. They aren’t privileged.

There is plenty of privilege in the world. White privilege is real, because whites are pretty much the only people in the United States who don’t go through most of the week being reminded repeatedly they aren’t white by the way people talk about them, talk to them, treat them, react to them and so on. Male privilege is real, because I don’t hear of too many men at risk of being raped unless they’re in prison (unlike women, who are so often told they’re asking for their rapes by the way they dress). Also, women in the 21st century still get to wonder, as did their counterparts in the 20th,  if they’re among the majority of female workers making significantly less wages than what men do for the exact same  jobs.

Hell, being able-bodied is a privilege, as most of us never have to think much about how to navigate stairs and doors or whether we’ll be able to get around a business or someone’s house or even be able to use a small restroom in a diner. Even being right-handed in a privilege in this culture because we can reach for almost any pair of scissors knowing it will fit our hand.

There are all kinds of privilege of which we should be aware, so that we don’t take for granted what we have and don’t assume that everyone can succeed in this society. We need to realize the playing field is rarely level in any case, but we also need to recognize the field is very often particularly slanted in favor of some and against others for no good, logical or moral reason.

But we can’t make everything about privilege. My example of right-handedness? It is a legitimate example of privilege, but a relatively minor one. I’ve known left-handers and they may get annoyed at their inconveniences in a right-handed world, but it won’t hold them back. So it would be unfair for someone to claim that their experience as a left-handed person is anything like being Black or Latino and getting stopped and searched by the police for no good reason.

Let’s be careful about calling out privilege where it doesn’t consistently exist or in places where it is a mere footnote. Let’s not make oppressed groups where they don’t exist, when we have so many legitimate ones we’re already ignoring.


Brand New Madness

Attention, world: I am not a brand. Most people aren’t brands. We should stop trying to push this whole, “find out what your brand is and market the hell out of it” approach to life. It’s not healthy, and it will ruin us all if it continues.

Companies and their products are brands. And they have people (sometimes hundreds or thousands of them) to preserve, promote and enhance those brands. But there is a disturbing trend as we’ve become so much more interconnected online—and as a very, very few people even find financial success  there with blogs and such—to tell people that they need to discover their own personal brand or create one, and then market that brand.

It’s a problem because most of us don’t have time to adequately and appropriately market a brand, not even our own personal one. A person who is a success at blogging (financially, that is) probably puts in the equivalent of a full workday most days of the week (and perhaps all of them) to be that kind of success. And for every person like that, there are probably at least 10 others putting in the same hours and effort and getting little or nothing in return. And then hordes of others beyond that who dream of such possibilities but are bogged down by the necessities of going to work, doing housework, cooking, running errands, raising kids, walking the dog, etc.

What’s worse, though, is it isn’t just people seeking a breakthrough online. Increasingly, especially as more people connect through LinkedIn and other social networking venues, we are expected to “brand” ourselves in terms of our careers and potential employment. Or our personal relationships.

But there’s a huge risk in that. Actually, several risks. How you brand yourself may not be how others see you or are willing to accept you. Branding yourself, if successful, may also “typecast” you into a niche and deny you access to other opportunities. Trying to market your brand may use up time you should be devoting elsewhere or, in a related problem, you put a bunch of work into finding out your brand only to realize you don’t have the time, the resources or the skill to market that personal brand.

And those are just a few problems off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more.

We are people. We are not products. The more we turn ourselves into brands, the more we make ourselves into commodities. You know, the kinds of things businesses buy and trade. Do you want to be a product or do you want to be a person?

Increasingly since the end of World War II, when we entered the heyday of the middle class, we’ve seen things toward the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st continue to chip away at that middle class and give more and more power back to the companies and away from employees. We’ve slowly given up what we fought so hard to gain to be treated right and be treated as humans, only say, “Oh, I guess I should work whatever hours you say so you keep me” or “I guess it’s OK that I don’t get to use vacation time or can’t afford to include my family on the health insurance” or “Yeah, the execs should see their pay increase more and more and more while my pay stagnates or falls behind inflation.” And now, after slowly letting them take away any sense that we have earned the right to be treated well because we work hard, now we willingly prepare to make ourselves into “things.” If we make ourselves brands, then we are fit to be bought and sold, both literally and metaphorically. We risk becoming tied to that brand and forced to maintain it long beyond our comfort zone. We cease to be people. We truly become cogs. To be used until worn out, and then replaced without a thought.

Yes, some people need to brand themselves, or some part of their lives. But for most, that’s foolish.

Deacon Blue is a brand.

Jeff Bouley is not.

I am, in essence, the CEO in charge of shepherding a brand that is Deacon Blue. I am a part of that brand. Who I am influences that brand. But it isn’t who I am. I am not, in the end, Deacon Blue. Nor should I be. I don’t want to become a character or, worse yet, a caricature. I won’t brand myself; I will let the whole spectrum of who I am stand out.

There is nothing wrong with me promoting Deacon Blue. But the fact is, Jeff Bouley will not be a brand that can be pinned down and pigeonholed. I am a human and I am complex, with many skills to offer, many things to give and even many problems to pose. I will not strip away who I am to get down to a core that is false. Too many people think that by branding, they are stripping away the excess and getting down to the core of who they truly are. But if you peel everything away to be just one thing or a just a few things, you have made yourself false.

You may have a brand to market. But if you think that you are a brand, you are deluding yourself, I believe.

Or, even worse, diminishing yourself to fit in to someone else’s mold.


1…2…3…4…I Declare a…

I will never be president of the United States. Partly because I don’t want to, as the hours are too long, the work is way too hard for the pay involved, and I don’t need to age any faster than my 7-year-old daughter is already responsible for. However, mostly I won’t be president because I’d be completely unelectable. I’d be speaking my mind, swearing frequently at public appearances and telling frothing, right-wing pundits and annoyingly smarmy left-wing ones where to put their gonads for maximum hilarity and humiliation.

However, were I to somehow become president, I would make a very simple system for dealing with despotic, totalitarian rulers, knowing that it is very expensive to wage war and very wasteful. Also, nation building rarely works out well.

You, as the totalitarian ruler of your nation, will have one recourse to avoid me sending in drones or long-range missiles to vaporize whatever palace or bunker you hole up in: Engage me in a three-out-of-five thumb war. You will present yourself at the appointed time to the deck of one the United States’ proud aircraft carriers as it floats in international waters, where you and your entourage will be unarmed, while my entourage will be bristling with weapons.

If you defeat me in the thumb war, you can go your merry way back to your nation and the United States won’t personally harass you for the rest of my term in office. If you lose, you will abdicate immediately and head immediately for some country that is willing to harbor you; if you don’t, my people will riddle you with holes right then and there on the deck of the carrier.

I like to keep things simple.


All Things Are NOT Equal

There is a tendency among many white people to get mad when someone is called out for saying something that is considered a racial slur, such as “nigger-rigged” or “towel head” or “an illegal” or whatever. It’s not that they necessarily deny the fact that such terms have racist or bigoted overtones, but they try to deflect and blunt the accusations of insensitivity by pointing to other terms.

They’ll argue, “Well, it’s just as racist to say [dago, kike, mick, honky, etc.] as it is to say those other things, but where’s the outrage when those terms are used?”

First off, let’s stop with the false equivalency.

Black and Hispanics are routinely targeted by police and punished more severely than whites for the same or similar crimes. People of color are routinely passed over for jobs or promotions for no other reason than the color of their skin. They are often given worse healthcare and less attention in school and get denied housing far more often than whites. I could go on, but either you recognize these things or you stubbornly insist they aren’t true, so I’ll stop.

Point is, a racial or ethnic slur related to a group that is routinely shat upon is inherently worse than one directed at a group that is far less antagonized and has much more privilege.

A slur at a Jewish person still carries a lot of weight, because there are seriously violent anti-Semitic folks around still. However, they still fall slightly down the severity list (at least in North America) from slurs against folks like blacks, Latinos and Muslims.

As for Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans and other such groups for which there are colorful slurs, how often are those groups actually discriminated against in this country? Particularly in comparison to non-whites.

You throw around the N-word, and you’re throwing around something volatile. Call me a “honky,” and that hardly even registers; it certain won’t hurt my feelings. You might as well call me a “ninny” or a “weirdo” or a “geek.”

Wouldn’t it be better…far better…to work toward everyone in the country actually being treated the same based on their personalities, behaviors, skills, etc. regardless of color, ethnicity or religion rather than trying to make like slurs against people who have the upper hand are anywhere remotely equivalent?

Because when you do that, or point out to me that “gyp” is a slur (derived from Gypsy)…and yes, I do try to catch myself before speaking that word, and I haven’t used “Indian giver” in ages…when you do those kinds of things and say they’re just as bad (when was the last time you even met someone who strongly identified as a Gypsy?), I can only think one thing. You know you’re wrong, and you’re getting defensive.

I’m not saying any slur is good.

But stop trying to say they’re all equal.

At least until there’s actually equal treatment and equal opportunity in this country.

Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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March 2013

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