Monthly Archives: August 2012

A World Devoid Of A Sense Of Irony

On the last evening of the 2012 Republican National Convention, celebrated actor, director and (I think I’ll go ahead and say it) American icon Clint Eastwood addressed the crowd ahead of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  Eastwood’s speech was widely panned by pundits, mostly for being rambling and seemingly largely improvised.  I personally felt as though I was being engaged in conversation by a friend’s kindly, somewhat senile grandfather over a cup of coffee; an enjoyable enough experience in the confines of someone’s home or in the booth of a cafe.  But once the gentleman is transposed to the auditorium stage and is bumbling along in front of thousands, an element of sadness begins to emerge.

My favorite (though that’s not quite the right adjective) part of the speech came during the introductory paragraph.  After remarking that it must be shocking for those in attendance to discover that there are, in fact, conservatives in Hollywood (preposterous!) he went on to say:

It’s just that the conservative people by the nature of the word itself play it a little more close to the vest. They don’t go around hot-dogging it.

At that moment, the thousands of delegates and party officials within the Tampa Bay Times Forum who had spent the last 72 hours decked out in all manner of red, white and blue attire, buttons, stickers, and various accoutrement, waiving signs and chanting, “We built it!” ad nauseam burst into thunderous applause and a cacophony of self-congratulation.  It could not have been more beautifully done if it were scripted that way.

And as much as I wanted to laugh, I couldn’t.  Because at that moment I realized how the world world would look with all sense of irony drained out of it: like the Republican National Convention.

Witness for yourself.


It’s here! IT’S HERE!

Yes, it is that time of the election cycle once again; convention time!  The Republican National Convention begins today in Florida and the Democratic National Convention is right around the corner; kicking off in about 10 days in South Carolina.  If you’re as excited as I am (doubtful) you’re going to want to keep tabs on each convention as the next couple of weeks roll on, so I’ve done the hard work (Google) for you and have posted the links to the convention websites below (no need to thank me, I was bored).

2012 Republican National Convention

2012 Democratic National Convention

And for those of you who say, “Forget the conventions, let’s get to the action!”  Here’s a little something to get you ready for the campaign.

Hitch is dead. Long live Hitch!

Slate published on Wednesday a series of notes and scribblings; the last works of Christopher Hitchens that comprise the final chapter of his final book “Mortality“.  As an admirer of the late polemicist (I am currently reading his memoir, Hitch 22), this is a real treat for me.

This collection of thoughts and incomplete ideas are a testament to the fact that, even as his body was failing, Hitch’s mind – his wit, intelligence and, most important to him, his sense of irony – was as sharp as ever.  My favorite “piece” is the one found at the bottom of the page; a passage from the novel “Einstein’s Dreams” by Alan Lightman (transcribed for use in a future essay, perhaps?).  Lightman’s passage aptly puts into words the sentiment that, while Hitch did not welcome death (particularly not in the manner in which it was foisted upon him), he did realize that the only proper form of immortality one should ever hope to achieve is through their heirs, their works and their legacy:

With infinite life comes an infinite list of relatives. Grandparents never die, nor do great-grandparents, great aunts…and so on, back through the generations, all alive and offering advice. Sons never escape from the shadows of their fathers. Nor do daughters of their mothers. No one ever comes into his own…Such is the cost of immortality. No person is whole. No person is free.

Read the whole chapter here.

So, it has come to this…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you have no doubt heard about the recent scandal involving fast food chain Chick-Fil-A and its owner Dan Cathy.  If not, get up to speed here.  Now I had not planned on addressing this issue here, but the issue seems to have become muddled lately, and arguments seem to have gotten off-track.  So, I’d like to take a moment and see if we can’t steer the conversation back onto its proper course.

1. This is not a free speech issue.

That Dan Cathy publicly stated his support for “traditional marriage” is not the issue.  The real issue here is that Chick-Fil-A has donated millions of dollars to anti-gay groups over the years.  I know that we now live in an era in which money constitutes speech and “corporations are people, my friend,” but the bottom line is that Chick-Fil-A has taken an active part in bankrolling institutions that seek to ensure that some Americans continue to be treated as second-class citizens because of their sexual orientation.  This is much more heinous than any mere words that Dan Cathy has uttered and is certainly the crux of the matter.

To say that this is a free speech issue is absurd.  Dan Cathy has every right to tell the truth about his opinions on gay marriage.  But those boycotting also have every right to do so as well.  The street runs both ways.

2.  This is not about government regulation.

In the wake of some pretty stupid remarks from the mayors of Chicago and Boston concerning the possible banning of Chick-Fil-A in those cities, the narrative of government regulation of people’s beliefs has sprung up.  This straw man argument has no basis in reality (as any legislation such legislation would be nearly impossible to pass) and distracts from the heart of the issue.  Yes, the suggestion to ban the chain was moronic, but let’s not pretend that there was any real possibility of that happening or that this was the main concern of Chick-Fil-A supporters from square one.

3.  So, what is it about?

As stated above, it is about the fact that Chick-Fil-A supports, not just with words, but with financial backing, organizations that seek to ensure that homosexuals remain second-class citizens under the law.  That’s it.  People who are boycotting Chick-Fil-A don’t hate Dan Cathy, Christians or those cute cows.  They believe that all citizens should be treated equally under the law and are reacting to an entity that is trying to undermine that fair and equal treatment (most of them anyway, I’m sure there are some hate-filled loonies out there).

And Dan Cathy, Chick-Fil-A patrons and conservative Christians don’t hate homosexuals (again, barring the loonies).  They are (for better or for worse) simply following their interpretation of their faith (with the exception of those who believe it is a free speech or government regulation issue, they are either misguided or delusional).

At the end of the day it boils down to a choice between inclusion and equality, or exclusion and discrimination.  Everything else is smoke and mirrors.

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