Vote First

This week the spouse of the person third in line for the presidency got seriously attacked by a hammer-wielding, 2020 election-denying conspiracy theorist that regularly spouts racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ views via a blog not like, but not 100% unlike, this one.

Now, before you go jumping to conclusions —

We here at Notes do NOT believe, as the attacker does, that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the power behind some cannibalistic, child abusing cabal. 

Step one

Nor do we traffic in the notion that non-white people, Jews or gays are evil incarnate.

And not only because the Chair is in the latter two of those three groups.

Rather it is due to the fact that we, like him, use the WordPress platform to regularly espouse our views for all the world to read, and perhaps rally behind, via our own personal BLOGs.

Tale as old as time

I was thinking about this a lot after hearing my fellow blogger broke into the Pelosi home after 2 a.m. bellowing, Where’s Nancy, struggling with 82-year-old Paul Pelosi before hitting him REALLY hard on the head.  (Note: Nancy was not at home, but hard at work rallying Democratic voters far away on the opposite coast).

Nevertheless, Mr. Pelosi suffered life threatening injuries from this attack – a fractured skull and serious injuries to his hand and arm that required surgery – but it is now reported he will be okay. 

This was not solely due to his doctors but also to the fact that an intuitive 9-1-1 operator dispatched the police to his home with a high alert warning.

Still, it momentarily left me wondering:

Exactly where do we stand with free speech in our presently advanced information age??

Quite a prickly situation

Oh, OF COURSE FREE SPEECH NEEDS TO CONTINUE! (He ranted). 

WHAT ARE WE, A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY OR…..RUSSIA? (He asked). 

OR A MAGA STRONGHOLD IN THE SOUTH OR MIDWEST? (He irrationally screamed).

OR THE HOUSE JUDICIARY GOP, which still has up the following three-week old tweet:

TRUMP.  ELON.  KANYE.

Yikes, indeed

Well, I guess that post is presumably in support of the free speech rights of people like Kanye West to go, as he just did, def-con 3 on THE JEWS.

Shoot (oops), even billionaires (Note: Up until this week) get to say anything they want, like the rest of us.

Or in solidarity with Elon Musk’s plan, after buying Twitter for $44 billion, to let back on the platform many of the hate spouting, fake conspiracy-promoting users whom former Twitter execs permanently banned for life.  Beginning with:

@realDonaldTrump.

Get ready America.

Fly, my pretties! Fly!

I don’t have answers as to where free speech ends and governmental intervention begins.

Nor do American politicians or its citizens if the last six plus years of the MAGA agenda to poison our social discourse with lies about the efficacy of the 2020 elections (and beyond), amid white power salutes and calls to lock up every elected official they don’t agree with, are any indication. 

Phew, that was a mouthful.

And we’re not done yet.

I have a headache

Because when there is no agreement on what is true, or what is even real, it’s hard to know where to even start. 

Or end.

When I was in graduate school in Chicago once upon a time in the seventies there was a big hoopla around the Nazis marching in the nearby suburb of Skokie, a primarily Jewish enclave. 

It was a provocative move to cause an encounter, we were all sure, so eventually it was decided that as heinous as Nazis were, it would be against freedom and even worse for democracy to not allow this monstrous group who supported the extermination of a race/my people, to be free to express themselves in a place where my people/that race most particularly presided.

Of course, this was in an era where almost everyone believed Nazis were heinous. 

A time very unlike today.

This could be the reason…

As I watched former President Obama campaigning this weekend in support of democracy and Democratic candidates in swing states like Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin he was incredibly inspiring.  But his words felt almost…

QUAINT.

Oh, he made the case and then some for the imperative to vote Blue in the 2022 election and beyond.

He proved without a doubt that to not elect these representatives could signal the end of democracy, not to mention extinguishing popular social programs like Social Security.  Not to mention more tax cuts for the rich and less affordable health insurance for the rest of us mere mortals.

Please don’t let this be you this November

But he was speaking to thousands of Democratic supporters who wanted to be inspired and be given numerous exciting, rational reasons to get off their phones and up off their asses to make a difference.

Still, it made me wonder if this was the only way to stop the MAGA movement for now.  Get every conceivable, rational, believer in facts and democracy that we all know to move up and out to the polls, even if we need to take them there ourselves.

And to worry about how free our free speech should be AFTER this election cycle.

To forget about the lies, and hate, and crazy right wing fan fiction on social media for right now.

Unless they try to stop us from voting.  And then we’ll…

Welp, see you later.

Well, we’ll cross that bridge in 10 days or less.  I guess.

A friend of mine sincerely asked me how I can be even slightly positive about the future of the country in light of where we are now. 

I immediately responded it’s because I spend a lot of my working life around young people in college, the vast majority of whom loathe the MAGA agenda.

Deniers aside, it is a fact that 65% of Gen Zers voted for Joe Biden in 2020 and that in 2024 they will be the most powerful block of voters.

Zoomers unite

So now is the time to TALK, not lecture to them, about their fears, their truths and the truth of what is going on in the country vs. what is passing for truth these days.

And ask them to vote for themselves, or as a favor to you, if you know them well enough.  (Note: Yes, guilt can work.  I’m living proof!).

And then get your butt and the butt of everyone else you know into a virtual/mail-in or literal voting booth.

Yes

We can then scream, rant, chat or even blog about the distorted views and/or rights of any crazy that comes to mind after that.

Because we will still have the freedom and luxury to do so.

George Michael – “Freedom! ’90”

Why Don’t You Just Blog About It?

It was hard to know what to write about this week.  Not because there wasn’t enough but because there was too much in too many areas.

This happens when you have a weekly column or, in this case, create a weekly column for yourself. 

Many people have asked me over the last ten years –

So Chair, why do it?  Why put this pressure on yourself?  And us?

Not a picture of me on Saturday night writing this blog… not at all

My stock answer is to quote Jim Harwood, my late colleague at Daily Variety, when asked what qualified him to review movies:

Because I have an opinion and a place to print it.

Glib as this answer was and still is, it’s only partly true. 

Discourse, disagreement and the inevitable didacticism it evokes, are how we survive. 

It’s how the world survives.  And, in turn, how it thrives.

This helps too

I never much liked the word didactic, probably because I feared it applied too much to me and wasn’t quite sure of it’s true definition.

To be didactic – meaning to be inclined to teach or lecture to others too much, and often in too boring a way, is not something to aspire to. 

Especially in a self-created weekly column.

When it’s an opinion you don’t want to hear or one with which you vehemently disagree, most of our knee jerk reactions are to feel talked down to and/or lectured to.  We want to turn the channel, scroll past or, more often than not, simply tune out and/or walk out of the room.

This energy… always

This isn’t good nor is it healthy for ourselves, our country or the world.

It’s a behavior that was enabled by the Reagan Administration when it did away with the Fairness Doctrine, which in many ways privatized the news business, stripping it of any real legal responsibility to be fair.

When you are not required to present opposing viewpoints in some way, shape or form, especially when speaking and writing about the events of the day, you are NOT being fair.  You are giving opinions that masquerade as news and getting people to believe you without knowing all the facts.

Still, it’s a start.

This is where writing a column, okay A BLOG, comes in.

Oh come now, the Chair ALWAYS has something to say #bloggingrightnow

None of what’s here could readily be classified as news coverage even though it does speak to what’s going on in the world during any given week.

Sometimes the goings on have to do with pop culture.  Other times it’s a treatise on bad drivers (Note: Everyone else) or the blissful simplicity of a plain white shirt.  And more than I realized in the last four years, it’s been a serious condemnation of racism, sexism and homophobia – in other words, a repudiation of Trumpism.

For this writer, and often the readers, it’s a way to externalize the internal emotions, often a mix of passion and anger, which drives one crazy to keep in.  An avenue to put it out into the world where it can be:

1. Identified

2. Seen

3. Discussed

And, most importantly –

4. HEARD

YES, YES, YES #merylwouldagree

To get all of the above is the jackpot and it doesn’t often happen.  The discourse equivalent of a singer who gets a four-chair turn during the blind auditions on NBC’s The Voice.

But you don’t need ALL FOUR coaches to want you on their team in order to win a singing competition.  Just like you don’t need everyone, or even the majority of people, to agree with you in order to ultimately win an argument and begin to change the world. (Note: Or at least make yourself feel better).

You just need ONE coach or ONE person to listen.  Then you continue to
“sing” and convince a few more.  And then more.  Until, well….you get what I mean.

It might not mean you’ll become The Voice but as they say in Oscar season, it’s a honor to be nominated.

Someday Amy…. Someday

Or at least on a list that was considered to be nominated.

I think of a blog, a column, or even the vocalizing of a song or a viewpoint as a way to sing a song that needs to be sung.  If this sounds a little 1960s, well, why not?

That was a turbulent time but an era that provoked more social change than any decade since.

For example, here’s what was churning me up inside this week:

– SEVEN mass shootings in SEVEN days in the U.S.  Yeah, there were TEN people killed in Boulder, CO at the King Soopers Supermarket on Monday, March 22.  This followed the EIGHT people gunned down, including SIX Asian women, at three spas in Atlanta on Tuesday March 16. 

But did you know that between those two days there were TWENTY-THREE more people shot, killed and injured en masse in Stockton, CA, Gresham, OR, Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, and Philadelphia, PA?

So…. continue to stay home?

And that almost all of the major mass shootings in US over the last several decades were done with variations of a single weapon –  the AR-15 rifle? 

– EIGHT white guy legislators, led by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, had a behind closed doors bill signing that SEVERELY curbed the right to vote statewide. Among other things, it is now a CRIME to provide WATER to those standing in line to vote.  The bill also removes the MAJORITY of drop boxes for MAIL-IN BALLOTS, sharply cuts back on the amount of polling places TO vote and DRASTICALLY reduces the number of hours the remaining polling places will be open, particularly in areas with majority Black and Brown voters.

Interesting enough, this PRIVATE bill signing was done under a PAINTING of one of the state’s most notorious SLAVE PLANTATIONS right there in the governor’s office.  And when Georgia State Legislator Park Cannon, a Black female, knocked on the governor’s door to witness said signing she was promptly handcuffed, arrested AND dragged away TO JAIL where she was charged with TWO FELONIES?

This this this this

– Elsewhere, a group of EIGHTEEN Republican members of Congress in HUNTING GEAR patrolled the Texas border armed with RIFLES, presumably for protection against an army of gun-toting drugs lords illegally entering the U.S.  In truth, that border overwhelmingly features unaccompanied CHILDREN floating via INNER TUBE to escape thugs in their native Honduras, Nicaragua or El Salvador trying to either kill them or make them their drug runners. 

– It now costs a whopping $19.95 to stream new-ish Oscar-nominated movies like The Father on platforms such as Amazon and Google because desperate theatre owners like AMC want to make up for all the business lost during the pandemic.  No, this isn’t earth shattering but it pissed me off nevertheless.

UGHHHH

Any one of these could’ve been the subject of a “column” and now, in some small way, all of them are.    What’s eating you and how can you get it out of your head?  Where do you discuss it?  Who disagrees with you and why?  Do they have a point?  What broader questions does this bring to mind and can you at least read about it AND the opposing opinion?

Before you know it, you’re not so alone in your thoughts and you’ve created a column of your own.  Or at the very least, prevented yourself from imploding.

And have the pressure of each week figuring out what else is on your mind.

#DoItForDemocracy.

You’re welcome.

Bo Burnham – “Rant”

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