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”

History Repeats and… It’s a Sin

HBO Max’s It’s A Sin is a new five-part limited series about a group of gay men and their friends in Great Britain who lived and sometimes died during the HIV/AIDS crisis from 1981-1991.  It is a critical hit and a must see.

Nevertheless, as a gay man who lived through it in the US, but didn’t die, it was the last thing I wanted to see or be reminded of during these pandemic days.

And yet…it was the first thing I began watching the very moment it dropped here in the States this week.

Why?

Wait! Hear me out!

Well, many reasons.  But the best that I could come up with is this begrudgingly timeless quote from an author long ago.

The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.  

William Faulkner, 1940

Writer extraordinaire William Faulkner first gave us those words in a short story he published in Harper’s in 1940.

They have since been quoted many times, most recently by both Barack Obama and Peggy Noonan in an attempt to address the issue of racism in the late aughts, and will no doubt be referred to many more times over.

Perhaps you prefer it in one of these standard internet formats

As a writer for none other than the Hindustan Times explained to us just three years ago, Faulkner’s words remain particularly prophetic because the past inevitably seeps into our present, informs it, even has a bearing on our future. The past cannot be wished away; neither can it be denied. 

I would add this is the case no matter how expert we are at pretending and no matter how determined we are to move forward.  The past, and its lessons, will ALWAYS resurface, whether you want to recognize them or not, and at times and in places you least expect it.

To not acknowledge it, learn from it, and at times live with it as you go on, is to be doomed – as too many countless others have warned – to repeat it.

How cliché.  And yet, how undeniably true.

Take it from someone who is alive and well and just qualified to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

And I didn’t even have to dress up!

Denial is a big part of It’s A Sin, but so is celebration and joyousness.  Watching it reminded me that despite all my protestations to the contrary, those times were not solely tragic and funereal, colored forever in doom, gloom and sores of every type imaginable.

In fact and to its credit, none of the characters in this series are any ONE thing, and that goes not only for the young friends in their twenties at the prime of their lives but those middle-aged, older and even younger.

They are all a result of how they’ve allowed their experiences to shape them, the ways in which they choose to forge ahead or remain stagnant, and the harshness with which they treat not only others, but themselves. 

How they existed and what they did back then is particularly resonant because of the harrowing drama of those times. 

There was smiling! There was joy!

But as we all now sit in our homes (Note: Or wander freely), masked or maskless, hopeful, scared or bitter deep into our very cores for the future, it’s hard not to see our times as still yet another variance of their times.

Every decade has its costs and its joys and, if we’re lucky enough, we get to live through each to the next and adjust accordingly.

And I’m still here! #trying

No one is saying denial doesn’t work in limited doses.  I, for one, would have never sat down and written an original screenplay many decades ago that got bought and made had I accepted the true odds of that ever happening to a novice like me writing about the subject matter I chose to write about at that time. 

Indeed, sometimes the only way forward is to defiantly block the facts in order to springboard you into defying the odds.

We humans all do this to some success and to some extent.  However, experience also tells you (note: okay, ME) that this can’t be your ONLY strategy.  Inventing your own reality means you also may be blind to the crumbling of the world around you with the thought your alternative world and your alternative facts will protect you.

Exactly this #nevergetsold

Sadly, it’s not so.  Not in the AIDS era of the 1980s, not in the latest pandemic era of the 2020s.  Not even in the Deep South 1940 of Faulkner’s times.

The key is to be observant enough to acknowledge the cracks and take action before the crumbling starts.  Patch it, consult an expert about re-cementing or entirely knock down the walls you think you smartly built before it’s too late. 

All this construction has me longing for HGTV

Yeah, right, who wants to do that?  But in doing so you might even let in those ideas or persons you banished to the outside and find out for sure if you were right or wrong about them all along.  Imagine if you realized you were ignorant, selfish, misguided or had even misjudged while you still had time to do something about it?

This was the story of those five Londoners and their families in It’s A Sin just as it is the story of our survival in the midst of the worldwide pandemic we are now continuing to barely live through.

Any type of pandemic, much like any armed insurrection, is not any one person’s fault.  Even if the worst, most xenophobic tropes were true and it was proven that a Chinese lab mistakenly unleashed CoVid-19 to the world and purposefully covered it up, that still couldn’t be blamed for the degree of medical severity we are now experiencing.

Yes, shall we??

The politicization of masks, choosing economics and widely opening back up too soon over quarantining, turning our backs on our most vulnerable (note: essential workers, the poor, the non-Whites) and willingly letting them die early on and perhaps inadvertently become super spreaders through no fault of their own; a decided lack of interest in recent years of top international leaders to operate as a true global community and closely work together to ensure our mutual survival – arguably ALL explain the basic shutdown of the world as we once knew it.

Meaning, a virus, is a virus, is a virus.  And people, are people, and continue to be, people. 

All the homophobia, limited thinking and personal wall building and/or destroying won’t change the facts or the outcome once the stark realities of life has its way with you.  Or us.

History is, at its best, a colorful kaleidoscope.  But it isn’t always reliably pretty. 

What it is is reliably prescient.

“History Repeating” – Shirley Bassey

Check out the Chair’s newest project, Pod From a Chair , now available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!