Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hate Group Targets Military Funerals

 I have to tell you, it takes a lot to surprise me. With television shows like CSI, Dexter, Family Guy, The Jersey Shore and 1000 Ways to Die, coupled with video games where you can rob and beat up hookers or blow off some guy’s head, not to mention any of the wacky, borderline offensive ensembles you can see at Wal-Mart on a daily basis, I thought I’d pretty much seen it all. Now, mix in the daily news stories and the large amount of verbal vomit that spews from the mouths of politicians and viola! You have a desensitized, shock proof society and I must admit I was no exception. Or at least that is what I thought.

A man and woman stand with a larger flag  
 Sunday, I attended my first military funeral. Lance Corporal Scott Daniel Harper was killed in action in Afghanistan in the beginning of October. I do not know this man. Nor have I ever met any member of his family. Still this Marine made the ultimate sacrifice and died fighting for my [our] freedom. As I drove toward the church uncertain where it was located and a little afraid I would feel awkward being at the funeral of someone I didn’t know, I saw a lone man standing on the side of the overpass waving a small flag. I smiled to myself, touched by his simple, yet respectful gesture unaware of what I would come across a little further down the road.

A community comes together to grieve and show support.
The scene looked like something from a movie. The street was lined with at least 500 people of all ages holding flags of various sizes and thank you signs. Bikers, at least 75 of them, along with military men in full uniform and people dressed like angels with huge wings formed lines around the perimeter of the church grounds that stretched right up to the church door. Most of them had never met the soldier or his family either. Yet, this Georgia community came together to mourn the loss of a 21 year old hero and pay their respects to his family.

A young girl hold a flag and a sign of thanks, not protest.
Unfortunately, that was not the only motivation for why they were there as I discovered when I spoke with some of the locals as we waited for the family and Lance Corporal’s body to arrive from the funeral home. Nor was it my only reason. Many of us came because we had heard that a notorious hate church was going to protest the funeral. I will not name this group because they live for publicity. I will tell you that they are known for protesting the funerals of public figures, the most recent being Steve Jobs, as well as military funerals and the funerals of openly gay individuals. Earlier in the week, they could be seen outside Woodruff Park protesting Occupy Atlanta which has been holding a peaceful assembly against the unfair division of wealth in this country. Yes, the protesters were protesting the protesters.

Why does this church protest such things as funerals, peaceful protests, military events and too many other things to name? Well to answer that we must look deeper into this church, its leader, its congregation and its beliefs. The church was founded by a man that describes himself as a “Primitive Baptist,” although mainstream Baptists openly reject his teachings. Personally, I have another word for this preacher but I digress. He has a following of approximately 70 people, that surprise, surprise, are mostly made up of his children and grandchildren. They are anti-gay, anti-Semite, anti-military, anti-Catholic, anti-Lutheran, anti-Protestant and anti–Amish. I could go on, but I don’t think there is enough room on the internet for me to list everything they are against. However, just in case you are feeling left out, here are a few more groups he opposes, one of which I am sure will apply to you: Canadians, Swedes, the British, Chinese, the Irish and Americans that “tolerate” homosexuality. He also condemns college students, claiming they engage in petting and pursuing lusts of the flesh(I would like to point out that this preacher has 13 children, so apparently he was lusting after some flesh himself). He also says that menstruation is a curse for not being pure and if a female remained pure she would never menstruate. Okay, I haven’t been "pure" for many years now, but even when I was, I menstruated.

This group claims it protests at least 6 times a day at different locations. The members and their children can be seen holding signs with such grotesque slogans as “God Hates Fags,” “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Thank God for 9/11,” “Rabbis Rape Kids” and “Thank God for Breast Cancer.” They refer to the head of the Catholic Church as the “Pervert Pope,” Barack Obama as the “Antichrist” and view almost any other religion as Satanic or claim their leaders are “sending their members to Hell.”

Still not offended? How about this? After the Arizona shooting of Gabrielle Gifford and several others, the group planned to picket the funerals of the six that were killed. They also posted “THANK GOD FOR THE SHOOTER—6 DEAD!” on their website whose address itself contains a hate slogan.

So how does a man that was a Civil Rights activist, once receiving an award from the NAACP for his work with black clients become a hate mongering preacher? Well, I have a couple theories on that, not all of which are mine. The first comes from his estranged son that says the preacher regularly used racial slurs outside the earshot of his clients and was simply representing them for one reason alone: Money. This same son also claims his father abused him, his siblings and his mother with his fists or the handle of a mattock. I mean clearly that must have been God’s will, right? Guess I missed the line in the Ten Commandments that read: Thou shall beat thy family.

My next theory is that, well, he is a big old homosexual and is so afraid of his feelings, urges and the possible acts he has engaged in that he condemns others for theirs, afraid someone will discover his true nature. After all, aren’t the ones that make the biggest stink usually the ones with something to hide? Most of the venom he spews is against anyone that is gay, supports homosexuality or doesn’t openly oppose it. His reason for protesting the military is because they allow homosexuals to be in the service. His argument against many churches is due to their “tolerance” of gays.

Then there is the fact that he is a fame whore. It cannot be overlooked that he purposely takes the most ridiculous, controversial view on everything, hiding behind his interpretation of the Bible. Isn’t it funny how all of his protests seem to be at the places that can gain him the most publicity? Steve Job’s funeral, Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, the funeral of a boy that was beaten to death by his peers because he was a homosexual and the Arizona shootings all gained national media attention. Boy, this man spends so much time protesting and spreading hate that I can’t help but wonder when he has time to preach at his church.

Whether this soap box bigot is gay, mental, drug addicted or just wasn’t hugged enough as a child, or maybe he was hugged too much, I don’t care. Hate is hate. But unfortunately, this preacher has the right to free speech however moronic that speech may be.

This brings me back to the soldier’s funeral. As we waited for Lance Corporal Harper to arrive, we all seemed to hold our breath every time a bus or large van went by fearing they would be carrying the protestors. Laws have been enacted in most states saying protestors must stay at least so many feet from a funeral (The distance varies from state to state). Still, the preacher had said that his people would be there. A part of me almost wanted them there so that I could go up to them and say something like “I am happy that your life is so perfect that you feel you have the right to judge others” or “God spreads love not hate. You are not doing God’s work. You are doing the Devil’s.” I would also have liked the opportunity to point out to them that the only reason they had free speech and were able to protest was because this man and many more like him fought for and protected that freedom. And although I don’t encourage violence, I kind of relished the idea of this group showing up to a place that was surrounded by Marines and bikers. Still, I didn’t want that kind of display for the sake of the fallen soldier’s family. After all, hadn’t they been through enough?

Nervously, I tried to search for protest signs through the windows of a blue bus that had slowed down and then went on its way. As I returned my gaze to the church, I couldn’t help but notice the white robed angels with their wings stretching approximately 8 feet across.

“I called them,” said the man next to me as he watched me admiring the ethereal figures.

“You called them?” I asked thinking they had just been a group of individuals showing their respect.

“Yeah, I heard on the Bert Show that there was a possibility of protesters coming so I called them and they sent out an email this morning to rally people.”

“Who are they?” I asked. He went on to explain that they are called Angel Action, a volunteer group that shows up to these events, surrounds the opposing group and raise their angel wings to shield the family from the protestors. The angels do not say a word to them, but simply keep them out of view. Apparently, there are different chapters of these angels across the country.

Angels in Action

As I said before, it takes a lot to surprise me. Still, I sat there in shock thinking what a wonderful concept this was and what an amazing thing it is that these angels do. These people take time out of their lives and volunteer to attend funerals of people they have never met in an effort to ease the pain of the grieving and to keep the hate from spreading. I couldn’t help but wishing everyone had a set of angels that would show up and block us from callous remarks, biting words and any cruelty we might encounter daily.

One of many homeade signs that lined the street.

Thankfully, the protestors elected not to show up, although there was buzz amongst the crowd that a few had come earlier and were arrested, but I couldn’t find anyone to confirm that for certain. I later saw in an article that the hate preacher was belly-aching about how his inability to protest at the funeral was a violation of his free speech.

Boo-freakin’ –hoo! Being an Irish Catholic, menstruating, former student that is dating a marine and that has many gay friends, as well as several female friends that I am pretty sure menstrate, I consider his rants and ravings offensive and in direct violation of my pursuit of happiness. Not to mention his protests cause noise pollution and there are ordinances for that.

Anyway, all I have to say is, “Not today, Fred.” You may think that you are righteous, but you certainly aren’t moral or humane. Nor do you have an ounce of compassion in your body. If you did, you would never protest a funeral hiding behind God's name and make a family’s suffering even worse.

Preach your hate if it makes you feel all warm and cozy. Twist the words of the Bible to fit your warped views. Make your protest signs. We heathens don’t care. After all, God has sent us our own set of angels to protect us from evil like you. Oh, and if you are ever in Detroit, give me a call. I have a Marine boyfriend with several military friends, a nephew that is a Private and a bunch of bikers that would love to have a few minutes alone with you.
Bikers gather to honor the fallen and pay their respects.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Wussification of the American Male

Today I was listening to a local radio show and the topic was the wussification of today’s men. It started out innocently enough with a few statistics. Both claims are made by CNN’s William Bennett who states:

“Man's response has been pathetic. Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?

Now admittedly, Bennett is a controversial figure once uttering “ could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down" []. But stupid comment aside, I think he may be on to something here. Growing up, my dad worked 3 jobs to support our family. True, video games were not around at that time, but I can’t see him sitting in front of the television playing Call of Duty while his wife and family of five worried about paying the bills.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying there is anything wrong with playing video games. Everyone needs some time to themselves to do something that they enjoy. But we are not talking 1 hour a few times a week or even a day. No I am talking about the ones that play for 5-6 hours a night. At some point it becomes an escape from reality. It takes time away from your kids, your significant other{unless he/she is a gamer too} and from being productive.

Psychologists believe people, men in particular, game because it provides them with the emotional rewards they need and may not be getting elsewhere. For example, doing well at a game provides a sense of achievement. It also can earn you the respect of others. Not to mention, kicking the crap out of someone in a video game may help you work out anger and frustration. And of course, it can provide a sense of satisfaction. Plus, they can be pretty cool. The graphics are incredible and seriously, where else can you shoot a machine gun or a bazooka while sitting in the comfort of your own home?

But what happened to the satisfaction that comes from doing well at your job? In today’s society, where jobs are hard to come by, two things amaze me. One is the number of people that complain about how much they make at their job. The second is how many people whine about being unemployed but really aren’t doing anything about it.

Listen, I get it. The economy is in the toilet, the price of everything is going up and you should be paid a fair wage. But every job has a ceiling. You cannot expect to make $30 an hour for a job when you were originally hired in at $9. I don't care how long you've been there. No, if you want to make more money, you have to further your education through training or schooling. If that isn’t possible, you have to find a new career.

The same goes for the unemployed. God bless those of you that pound the pavement every day in search of a job. But it amazes me when I ask some people where they have applied and they respond that they haven’t or casually reply, “Maybe 1 or 2 places.” What baffles me even more is when they say, “Why can’t someone just give me a job?” As if the job fairy is going to come down and reward you with some kick-butt job just because you rock at Assassin's Creed, your friends think you are pretty funny and you are an all around wonderful person.

There seems to be a lack of work ethic and an incredible sense of entitlement. The same rings true for relationships. At one point in time, men would call or approach a girl, dress up for a date, have some type of plan in mind to do something, wash their car and put some effort into things. Today, many men talk about how they can’t meet a nice girl, which is very hard to do when you don’t talk to any or sit on your couch all day. And for many of the ones that do get a date, they put minimal effort into it. They usually send a text or email in lieu of the courtesy of a phone call. They dress sloppily, which on the first few dates many girls read as a lack of interest and respect. When a girl asks him what their plans are, many do not have put so little thought into it that they have no suggestions or ideas prepared. They simply respond with, “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Some suggest this is the fault of women. A bouncer at a local bar called in to the radio show and said that in his experience, women come into the bar looking to go home with someone and the men are more than happy to oblige. As a result, they have to put little effort into wooing a woman. Before, men had to be well kept, have a decent job, show some type of drive and have manners. Now, the standard has been set so low that some women don’t care if the man is 35 and still living with his parents or working as a cashier at a fast food place. They are just happy he is breathing, has a job and isn’t a felon.

Others blame the mothers for coddling their sons. How many girls have heard the phrase, ”You have to work twice as hard as a man and have more drive to make less money”? While this seems to be changing, boys are also being conditioned that they don’t have to work for what they want. It will just be given to them.

A teacher also called in to the show. She said she could not count how many times mothers came in yelling when their sons didn’t do well on an assignment or test claiming he didn’t understand the material or that a teacher should have given him individual attention. They don’t hold their sons accountable for not studying or not approaching the teacher for extra help. Let’s face it. With cell phones being allowed in class, a shorter attention span coupled with a teacher’s inability to discipline children without the threat of being reprimanded or accosted by irate parents, kids are more out of control than they were years ago because there are little to no consequences for their bad behavior. So if the child is not paying attention because he is texting during class, why should the teacher have to ask the child to stay after for tutoring?

Additionally, if a teacher says that no cell phones are allowed in class and then deducts points off an assignment when a kid is using one, what right does a parent have to be upset with the teacher? Many will even make excuses claiming it was only a cell phone and it wasn’t being used or that their child didn’t want to leave it in his pocket because it was uncomfortable. Hello! When I was in school we didn’t have cell phones. We had to actually go through the day waiting to speak to our friend between classes, at lunch time or after school. Our parents had to trust us when we left the house without them. But that is a whole other subject.

I would also like to acknowledge that the same teacher said that while the mothers come in both guns blazing for their little boys, she almost never sees them come in for their little girls. Maybe they believe the girls need to learn to do things themselves and how to handle problems on their own. They don’t transfer them out of class because a teacher is too tough. They want them to learn that they will encounter people in their life that they may butt heads with or obstacles that they must overcome. That is when they must try harder and learn to work out differences. But don’t little boys need to acquire that knowledge too?

Speaking of things little boys need to learn to do, let’s talk about sports. I mean what the heck happened to sports? I don’t agree with this everyone gets a trophy garbage because I-don’t-want-my-kid-to-feel-left-out mentality. I hate to break this to some parents, but your kid is going to suck at some things. In order to do anything about it, they have to know they suck. Unless it is a league for first timers, I don’t think every kid should get to play. Children need to learn that if they want to get off the bench, they need to have the drive to go home and practice and get better. If they don’t want to do that, they need to quit and find something they are good at doing whether it is sports, music, art or something else.

When a kid makes a mistake, although I don’t believe a parent should necessarily scold the kid, they shouldn’t lie about how great he was and make excuses. They need to discuss what happened and how he can do better the next time. If a ground ball goes through his legs, he needs to get out there and practice with his mom or dad until he learns how to field it correctly.

This brings me to the next excuse for coddling: absentee fathers. First let me say that the men need to man up. If you have a child, you need to be a part of that child’s life, which again goes back to lack of responsibility and consequences. That said, many mothers will overcompensate letting the child get away with murder. They don’t demand that little boys do chores, yet they expect their daughters to do them. When a little boy gaffs off on homework to play video games or hangout with his friends, a lot of moms simply take a boys will be boys attitude.

While it is extremely important for a father to be a part of his child’s life, the absence of one shouldn’t mean a license to misbehave and remain immature. Married or single, mothers are doing a disservice to their sons if they don’t teach them how to handle difficult situations and how to take care of themselves. After all, what happens once he is a grown man? Is he going to tell his boss that he should get the promotion over another more qualified individual because his mommy said so? Is Mama going to walk up to Terry Francona or Joe Girardi and tell them that her child should be allowed to play professional baseball because his feelings will get hurt if he doesn’t?

And what happens if the man lives alone or becomes a husband? Is he still going to take his laundry to Mommy’s house every weekend for her to do it? There is an old email that circulated about the difference between when a husband says he is going to bed and when a wife says she is going to bed. The woman gets up, throws a load of clothes in the dryer, runs the dishwasher, checks over the child’s homework and makes certain lunch is made, lets the dog out one last time, washes her face and then gets into bed. The man simply states he is going to bed, gets up and goes to bed. Women often laugh (and are frustrated) with how much this email rings true. They wonder why some husbands need to be asked to cut the grass, load the dishwasher or throw in a load of laundry. It becomes a bone of contention in the marriage. After all, it isn't the 1950s anymore. In most cases, she works too. Does he not see that there aren’t any clean dishes? Many mens response to this is, “Well why doesn’t she just ask me to do it?” While many women see it as a lack of respect and wonder why should I have to ask him? It is his house too. Where is the pride, the respect and the sense of responsibility? Eventually, many women just give up, accept it and do things themselves which again leads to the lack of accountability and responsibility. If there are little to no consequences, why do it?

So far, we have managed to blame sexually active women, mothers and wives for today’s man-child. But at a certain point, don’t men have to take responsibility for their own actions? They want to be treated as adults in some ways and coddled in others. In theory, parents have you until you are 18 years old. If you want to point the finger at them for how they raised you until then, I guess you can. But after you turn 18, you need to turn that finger around at yourself. Instead of whining about low pay, unemployment and how unfair life is while you sit playing video games for hours, go out, take a class and invest in your future. Don’t wait for a job to fall into your lap. Go out and find one. And while you are looking, don’t show up to an interview wearing jeans down to your knees, a t-shirt and tennis shoes and reason, “They have to like me for me.” That is a juvenile mentality. Although it may not be right, upon meeting someone for an interview or a date, you are judged by your appearance. After all,until someone gets to know you they have nothing else to go off of other than your appearance. Show some respect for yourself and the person you are meeting. They can learn how wonderfully fascinating you are after you land the job.

Now, for all you men out there that may be thinking I am a man hater, don’t get your panties in a wad. I am not. Most of my friends are men. It is the “grown” (and I use that term loosely) man-child that annoys the crap out of me. I also fully acknowledge that some women are just as bad when it comes to responsibility. This particular topic about men was discussed on CNN and my local radio show that is why I chose to write about it. I am well aware that there are some terrific, capable single men and husbands out there. There are also some amazing fathers that do everything in their power to stay active in their children’s lives. If you are that man, this blog doesn’t apply to you. It is aimed at the men that think the world is just too tough and believe they should be handed everything on a silver platter. The ones that don’t help around the house because they are watching Sports Center for the 15th time in a day or don’t spend time with their wife and kids because they are too busy gaming for hours. And I don’t care why they are gaming, whether it is because they hate their wives, are frustrated with their career or just feel sad because they aren’t as successful as they thought they’d be. A temporary escape is one thing. Avoidance of the real world and real relationships is a whole other issue.

So turn the X-Box off. Get off that couch. Take your thumb out of your mouth and man up! And for God’s sake, PULL UP YOUR PANTS!