Nelson Mandela the Mannequin: Heromania gone wild!

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Heroes are often revered as being the best part of ourselves that we have never been able to attain. They are the shining beacon of hope that illuminates an often dark and scornful world.
But they’re not mannequins. They have lives that often aren’t as tidy as we’d like to believe.
So the question is do they still get to be called heroes if their lives are, well, kinda whack?
George Washington is often revered for being the first elected president of the newly formed republic of the United State. It is also a well-known fact that, as a contemporary of his day, he owned slaves. What is often reported is that, upon his death, he freed them all. The truth of the matter is that, yes, while he did free his own slaves, of which he personally owned about 30, the vast majority of the slaves he owned were called dower slaves (the ones he inherited from his wife’s family), which amounted to over 100 living souls. He willed them to his grandchildren.
Abraham Lincoln is credited with ending modern day slavery in our country by virtue of the Emancipation Proclamation. However, he also said in the early fall of 1858, before the Civil War began, the following:
“I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people.”
Ouch! You won’t find that in your history book.
Mohandas Gandhi led India away from the yoke of British colonialism and exploitation and was probably one of the greatest social liberators of our modern era. However a little known fact about him was this: nightly he was sleeping, naked, with his 19-year-old grandniece (though not in a sexual way).
Mother Teresa took money from known criminals and cultist, but refused to give it back. Towards the end of her life she was subjected to an exorcism because of her increased tendency of going into fits of rage and behaving erratically.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a well-known extra-marital affair on his wife and recently, it has been proposed, may have plagiarized his doctoral dissertation.
Caesar Chavez, it is also reported, lived in several homes throughout California but would change clothes before standing before migrant workers and the media in order to portray himself as a pauper.
President Ronald Reagan, documents show, was aware of the White House’s involvement in the infamous Iran-Contra scandal. Additionally, Alzheimer’s is a progressively degenerative disease. It ultimately led to his death. We will never know, for certain, just when the first signs of it began to manifest. Was he still operating as the Commander-in-Chief? Should he have stepped down? And what about the spiritists that Nancy Reagan consulted with on the regular and invited to the White House.
Nelson Mandela, early in his activist career, belonged to an organization that espoused the violent and bloody overthrow of the apartheid regime.
And so the list goes on.
In our neo-humanist society illusive and self-righteous perfection becomes the all-encompassing prism that all acts, both private and public, become judged through. Our heroes are not given room to have a scratch, a scrape, a variance within the slightest degree, a smudge, a ripple, a point of non-congruence, nothing. In other words the often flawed and revolting attributes that makes them relatable is vilified. Their humanity becomes the mangled and useless carcass that is thrown to the side of the road and left to be scavenged by the media hounds.
Of course I’m not saying that the occasional good deeds of a mass murderer should be the grounds for an absolute pardon of all earthly sins. That would be a deceitful over-simplification. I’m saying that fallible, fallen, broken, deceitful and sometimes irrational humans are capable of greatness.
I do believe there’s a danger in portraying our heroes as monolithic do-gooders who never falter or sway from their cause. The old adage “if it’s too good to be true then it probably is” becomes a hefty powder keg in the hands of detractors who sniff around for the slightest slip up. Making our heroes an impenetrable single dimension of goodness basically sterilizes them and makes them into, well, mannequins, caricature. It also discourages other people who might be heroic but are battling demons they didn’t know their heroes were also battling. Furthermore it underscores the reality that people have the capacity to evolve, to grow, to, dare I say, change.
So yes, I want to know that my heroes scratch when they itch, that they bleed when they’re cut, and that when they fall they contemplate not getting back up. I want them to have one leg shorter than the other, get angry and throw things, cry, cuss like a sailor and pray like a saint. I want them and all of their rotten humanity to be who they are while they’re doing great things. Being human is not a liability; it’s a beautifully awkward and complex asset.
In other words, it’s the anti-mannequin.
What do you think?

Who’s on first? The monster of health care reform vs a comedy team

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Abbot and Costello made a great comedy team. One of their more hilarious routines was the “Who’s on First” bit. What made the routine so funny was that no matter how much Abbott pleaded for clarity, Costello would repeatedly confuse the matter in a nonchalant way that insinuated to his comedy partner that it was his fault for not understanding something seemingly so simple.
Fast forward to the characters we have running the government today and you wonder the same question: Who’s on First?
Everyone knows that the current healthcare system is screwed up. It doesn’t take a scholar to figure that out. We don’t need special interest group-sponsored doctors telling us that we should “stay the course” and everything will be fine, nor do we need poverty pundits, and yes, I said it, poverty pundits telling us the sky is falling when it comes to healthcare costs in this country.
We can all smell the stench that is rising from the trash heap But like any pile of garbage it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the odor is originating from. Is it the leftovers we threw away last night, or the dirty diaper we threw away a week ago?
Here’s the twisted reality that I believe is at the core of this problem: Physicians, for the most part, actually want the patients they treat to get well. The insurance companies, most of which are either publically or privately owned, want to make a profit. So, how do you make a profit out of sick, dying people? Easily; you charge the healthy ones, you charge them deep, and you charge them that way for as long as you can.
I recognize that I’m oversimplifying a very complex problem. But I’m only bringing this to the table to illustrate that there isn’t only one answer, and you would think that our elected officials would understand and agree to that. There has to be compromise, which in Washington seems to be equivalent to saying another c-word.
Depending on who has the mic, this allegedly is what is going on behind closed doors. But, this is far from the truth. What we have here is a stalemate in reverse; it’s very stale and nowhere near mating.
The Affordable Healthcare Act has been ratified as law by the Supreme Court. Get over it! It’s done. Depending on who you listen to this act is either the greatest assault on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we have ever seen in our lifetime, or it’s the greatest thing next to sliced raisin toast with cinnamon swirl.
I understand the hesitancy of those who aren’t crazy about it. Never before in this country, minus slavery, has by virtue of being alive meant that you are immediately indebted to a controlling agency. Think about it. Auto insurance is mandatory only if you own a car. Homeowners insurance is necessary only if you own a home. Health insurance is now mandatory if you’re….breathing. It’s attached to you being a living, corporeal being. Yeah, let that settle in a little. The individual mandate is a tax on being alive.
There are a lot of people (Tea Party) who take a hardline against taxes of any kind. These people (Tea Party) are great with pointing out the problems of what has been retitled Obama care, but have yet to offer a solution whose logical conclusion doesn’t include sending the poor person who gets sick out to sea in a burning boat. (I mean, really, who doesn’t want to go out like a Viking? Just think of the cottage industry that it would create.)
Republicans, for the most part, have tried to push Tort reform, which puts limits on how much a plaintiff can sue for if they claim and prove that they’ve suffered damages while under a physician’s care. It is believed that the amount of money that is spent on frivolous lawsuits and overzealous juries prevents the medical field from being able to lower prices for care. And while this might be a component of the problem, it is, by no means, the whole solution.
But here’s the rub against the often impassioned pleas of the Republicans against the scourge of “Obama care”; Mitt Romney, their presidential candidate, proposed and signed into law a very similar program in Massachusetts in 2006. Yes, Massachusetts is a lot smaller, but after some tweaking (not twerking) it has been hailed as one of his greatest and most long lasting of his achievements. The individual mandate has been most effectively put in place by, dare I say, a Republican. So it’s not that it won’t work, it’s that “our guy” isn’t the one doing it.
Democrats have sheepishly boarded the support train behind this president who was sent over from central casting and have formed a human shield around the executive office. I can only imagine that had the president been a republican, the democrats would be doing the same thing that the republicans are doing now.
And who suffers from this political gridlock? The people do. The powers that be don’t get their way, so let’s screw the people.
So again I ask………who’s on first?

Sex and the shower….the real argument.

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This week the National Football League’s frenzied media machine has been bombarding us with something that I believe is a non-issue, and that’s the announcement by a wanna-be professional football player that he’s gay.
Big whoop dee do!
First of all he hasn’t even tried out for a team. There’s no guarantee that he’ll even make the cut. I think that his manager made a brilliant marketing strategy move by blitzing the media with this “announcement”. Let’s face it, if no one drafts him the story will be because he was gay. The first team that does ultimately offer him a contract will be applauded by every network, every politician up for re-election and they may even get their own reality show on the Bravo! Channel.
But I digress.
I mean, really. Central casting couldn’t have come up with a better sequel to a lackluster Super Bowl whose best performance was Bruno Mars and The Red Hot Chili Peppers during the half-time show. I say kudos to the NFL for creating much needed traction to keep people interested in their product now that the season is over.
First of all professional athletics has always been about your performance on the field. Are you a play maker or are you a bench warmer? It really does come down to that simple formula. Can you do something on the field that is going to make your team win? Will you help to fill seats? Will you help the owners make more money?
Football is a gladiator sport. Next to boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA for the uninitiated) there is no other sport where sheer brutality is actually applauded. If a person wants to dedicate themselves to this line of work, where you’re always one hit away from a career ending injury, then I say have at it.
But wait a minute! When does only one side of any argument get to control the mic?
What about the showers?
I’m sorry, but this is as valid of a point by non-gay athletes as it is a rallying cry by gay athletes that say no problem exists.
In the movie 42 about Jackie Robinson there was a scene where one of the white players asked Jackie why he didn’t shower with the team. Jackie replied, “Because I don’t want to make the other guys feel uncomfortable.” During that time, and sadly there are remnants still alive today, a lot of white America hadn’t yet welcomed the possibility that blacks weren’t innately inferior to whites. Standing stark naked in a shower with your third leg glistening in the sudsy downpour was a little too “in your face” to people still battling their own prejudices. While he chose to cross many lines in his life, that’s one that he initially chose to not cross.
If I was the only male showering with a bunch of naked female teammates I’d have to keep my eyes in front of me. My natural arousal reflex would be in full…throttle. As a young man amped up on testosterone after a hard fought battle on the field, for me to not look at a glistening wet finely tuned nude woman’s body and not have a reaction is not impossible to do, but it’s asking me to work really, really hard to not do.
This is the concern of many non-gay athletes. The showers are a very private place for reflection and relaxation after a long and physically demanding game. Standing next to a guy who is attracted to other guys in a testosterone fueled environment is very unsettling to some guys. Even the most remote idea of the slightest possibility that another man is attracted to you while in this stage of vulnerability is something that, understandably, is a hard pill to swallow for many.
Yes, there are going to be some guys that have a real problem with this reality, but in a gladiator sport, chalk that up as a workplace hazard. Like in Jackie Robinson’s era, there were some guys that would always hate him simply because he had more active melanin then they had. Likewise, everyone is not going to jump aboard this wagon. They’re just not.
Of course, there have been many other gay athletes in the NFL before and probably currently are now. To the best of my knowledge there haven’t been any complaints of a violation of locker room/shower etiquette. Men have a naturally occurring expanding comfort zone radius when around other men. It’s unspoken, but real. Plus he played in college, so that Michael Sam can manage this I have absolutely no doubt.
Which brings me back to my original point: this is a non-issue. Michael Sam being gay is about as relevant, on the playing field, as the sexual escapades of someone who vigorously practices their heterosexuality on multiple women. There is no moral high-ground in this arena of over-the-top excess often exhibited in professional athletics.
The bottom line is this: if he’s good enough to make a team and can contribute on the field, let the guy play. Furthermore, stop talking about who he wants to be intimate with when he’s off the field. That has no bearings on his performance on the field should he be good enough to make a team.
Likewise, stop trying to brand everyone who has a concern as being homophobic, bigoted or uneducated. I believe that some concerns are warranted for both sides of the argument. We cannot legislate or control opinions. As offensive as some of them may be, that’s the price and benefit of freedom.
What do you think?

Porn: The lipstick wearing pig

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It’s hard to believe that less than 60 years ago movie and television censors considered a husband and wife sleeping in the same bed as being too risqué. This was also a time in the media where you could watch someone get shot by a machine gun on screen and no blood would ooze from their bodies, where newborn babies looked more like 1 year olds, where women seemed to awake wearing a designer gown and black people pretty much didn’t exist.
But I digress.
People were portrayed back then as having simple, less hedonistic lives. Partying until the wheels came off may’ve been as simple as going out for ice cream every Friday night. It was definitely a time of innocence. My case in point is the lyric to a popular song that came out in 1928 called Let’s Do It. Try running those lyrics up the flagpole at any elementary school today and I’m sure that you’d get a wide range of very, err, colorful responses. But for the sake of my argument I want to extract some of the lyrics to drive my point home:
“I’ve heard that lizards and frogs do it
Layin’ on a rock
They say that roosters do it
With a doodle and cock”

If you were to ask a child back in the 30’s and 40’s what the song was about, more than likely they’d say “it’s about falling in love”, which is what the song was about. But to a child of today the title of Let’s Do It would probably mean something much more colorful. Throw in “doodle and cock” and I’m sure that you’d probably need to have a signed hold harmless agreement, a good attorney and some strong ears.

There is something to be said about innocence, about it being preserved and about it being valued. Unfortunately in our quest to “keep it real” sometimes innocence becomes the kid who, instead of wearing the brand new Jordan’s to school, wears corrective orthopedic shoes that have heavy metal braces adorning them.

It comes as no secret that we all want “the real thing” in our lives. Whatever that “real” thing might be, that’s what we want. We don’t want to be teased with the watered down second string version of it. We want the in your face, genuine article, it don’t get no better than this sho nuf real thang!

In the department of relationships it’s real intimacy that people want. That’s the sweet spot that we all crave. It’s the pièce de résistance of life, being able to share your brokenness with someone else who is equally broken, and together all of those broken pieces make a beautiful mosaic. The problem is that in our instant gratification world people sometimes aren’t willing to pay the price for it. Intimacy ultimately requires both parties to give up something of themselves, and that can be scary.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that intimacy is difficult to define in our very fast paced world. It’s difficult because it’s not a one-size fits all ideal. What is intimate to me may not even be in the same neighborhood as intimacy to someone else. Couple that with the fact that men, in general, have a harder time expressing intimacy because of how we’re wired, and socialized. Women can battle through the maze of emotional intactness a little more easily than men can. Without sounding sexist or the slightest bit condescending, it is, also, how they’re wired.

Sex has long been considered to be the ultimate expression of an intimate encounter. Unfortunately the sex industry, namely pornography, has stolen that car, stripped it of anything of value, and then returned it to its owner completely and utterly useless.

The rapid growth of the porn industry is directly proportional to how society has grown to overemphasize convenience, excess and a disdain of innocence.

I’ve heard proponents say that being anti-porn means being anti-sex. This is a non sequitur argument because comparing pornography to sex is like saying driving your speeding car off a cliff is the same as cruising along the coastline with the top down and your arm around the person you love.

The two are not even remotely similar.

The porn industry has a higher STD rate than prostitution. There are more cases of HIV among porn actors and actresses than any other profession. That alone should scare people away, the fact that you’re doing things, in many cases, that the human body is not designed for and the body simply can’t handle it. And while testing is highly recommended it is not illegal to not be tested. These tests are paid for by the performers themselves, so reliability is sketchy at best.

“But it’s their own personal choice. They can choose to do something else if they wanted to.”

Really? The vast majority of the performers in this industry are young girls who have dropped out of high school, have abusive environments that they’re trying to escape, or who already work as prostitutes. They’re not capable of understanding the lifelong ramifications of their decision, as most teenagers don’t. All they see is the money, and producers pray on this type of naiveté. And it’s not just girls either. The pay-to-be-gay movement among young men is just as strong. If you’ve never heard this practice before it’s when a supposedly heterosexual male will perform homosexual acts on camera, for money. Thus the moniker exists: pay to be gay.

Probably most damaging is the fact that participation in this industry is the equivalent of painting a huge red mark on your fore head. The advent of the internet pretty much insures that your children and grandchildren will get to see what grandma did for a couple of bucks. That’s awesome! But seriously, one of the reasons that many of these performers wind up committing suicide is because, after they’re used up, they’re banished to a prison of varying degrees of lifelong solitude.

I’m not beating up on the porn industry for the sake of sport. I see it becoming more and more of an issue because, well, quite simply, young people don’t think and are primed to be convinced that they can get in and then get out (no pun intended…okay, maybe) without being scarred for life. This is simply not true. So many young women, and men, have thrown their lives away by falling victim to the artificial glam and glitz that this industry promises. In reality it’s more like a meat grinder with society left to pick up the pieces. Families are being torn apart due to addictions and false standards that no one can live up to in real life. So, in conclusion, all of this leads me to the conclusion that, as glamorous as the industry tries to make itself, if there ever was a pig in lipstick the porn industry is that pig.