American Rhetoric: Let’s Place A Ban…on Talk of Banning

Sheryl Sandberg wants to "lean in" and ban the word "bossy."

Sheryl Sandberg wants to “lean in” and ban the word “bossy.”

“The power of a word lies not so much in its mere utterance, but in the CONTEXT in which it is given utterance, and how it is received by those hearing it.”
-The Cybersattva

     There are times when the national discourse takes a turn that causes me a fair amount of concern, and this is one of those times. This past week, Facebook COO and author of the women’s empowerment tome, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” Sheryl Sandberg, launched a campaign via her book’s namesake “Lean In” organisation, in cooperation with Girl Scouts USA. The campaign’s goal? Ban the word “bossy.”

     According to Sandberg, the schoolyard term and “gender-specific insult” has been used to deter young girls from having the highest of aspirations, and therefore impairing their ability and willingness to succeed upon entering adulthood. Her effort to counter this long-suffered problem has been mapped out and presented via the “banbossy” website, and “#banbossy” hashtags have been cropping up all over the interwebz.

     I wish I knew exactly what Sandberg means when she says that the word should be “banned.” Is she suggesting a change in the language that school-aged children are allowed to use in an educational setting, or the complete disuse and disavowing of the word by society on the whole?

     At this point in the story, I’d like to state that I am very pro-woman. I honestly believe that the “fairer sex” has been getting a bad rap, ever since that whole “Eve and the apple” bit. Even now, women are still being denied an equal share of the wage and advancement opportunities in this country, and something definitely needs to be done about it. I am not confident, however, that the banning of a word or words, is quite the answer that the question requires.

     When we talk of “banning” words, I fear that this may be the first few inches on a steep and slippery slope. Those of us who have kept a weather eye on humanity’s past, know full well that things like this have happened before, and have led to some very dark places. Thought police. Book burnings. The control and limitation of free, unfettered speech. (I’ve been chided for connecting Mrs. Sandberg’s suggested ban with these concepts already, however upon further examination through the prism of history, I feel my concerns remain valid. I’ll expand on this in a bit, but let’s continue…)

     In my own, not-so-humble opinion, we should be discussing context instead. This goes back to my earlier piece on “What Makes Bad Words Bad.” When we say that someone is acting or being “bossy,” what do we mean? If someone is being proactive and assertive, while also taking others’ thoughts, opinions and feelings into consideration, then no, the word “bossy” should not be used to discourage or denigrate them. On the other hand, if someone is simply issuing orders or attempting to “throw their weight around” inconsiderately, then yes, they’re being bossy, and should be called out for it.

     I also have an issue with Sandberg’s “pigeon-holing” of the word “bossy” as a gender-specific insult. Of course, it can certainly be utilised as such, just as much as a kitchen knife can be used as a street weapon. And of course, neither should be acceptable. Just because a word or a kitchen knife can be used as those things, however, does not make them those things ipso facto.

     Instead of all this talk of “banning” words, perhaps it’s time to talk about redefining them. Perhaps we should be discussing how we employ our words, when we employ them, who we employ them with regard to, and how they might be received. At any rate, we as a society should be having this dialogue, instead of simply suggesting that we “ban” something that we don’t necessarily like, regardless of context.

______________________________

“Pleased to meet you,
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah.
But what’s puzzling you,
Is the nature of my game.”
– Rolling Stones, “Sympathy For The Devil” c1968.

     What’s puzzling me with regard to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook, and her foundation’s connections, goes right to the heart of my concerns over her suggestion of banning words. Since Facebook went public, it appears that the site has begun a slow transformation from social networking, to social engineering. Case in point, Facebook has started penalising its users for sending “friend requests” to people on the site that users do not know personally:

social_networking

     In addition to this, “The Baffler’s” Susan Faludi revealed in an article penned last year, that Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” organisation has connections to a number of “Platform Partners” with equal opportunity histories that are, shall we say…”impeachable”? The following is an excerpt from the Faludi / Baffler piece from 2013:

“Lean In Platform Partners Mondelez and Nestlé: In 2013, an Oxfam investigation in four countries where the two companies outsourced their cocoa farms found that the women working in the cocoa fields and processing plants that the companies relied on “suffer substantial discrimination and inequality.” When women at a cocoa processing factory demanded equal treatment and pay, the investigation noted, all of the female workers were fired. The same companies that “put women first in their advertisements,” Oxfam concluded, “are doing very little to address poor conditions faced by the women who grow cocoa.””

     So, my question is, what exactly is Sheryl Sandberg playing at? What is the “nature of her game”? Why is it that she talks about banning words and limiting the national dialogue, under the guise of women’s empowerment, while at the very same time, “holding hands with the devil”? Why is her company, Facebook, actively impeding users from advancing this same dialogue, through the process of free and open social networking?

     Something is fishy in Denmark, my fine young readers. We as netizens now require our own bit of “empowerment,” to be able to glean the answers that Susan Faludi was unable to glean.

The Cybersphere: Facebook Likes The IRS

zuckerberg_1m_bill     As a Facebooker, my eye is caught whenever a news article pops up with regards to my favorite social networking haunt. What can I say? I love Facebook! It helps me keep in touch with people that I haven’t seen face-to-face in over 20 years, provides me with occasional fodder for the blog, and gives me an outlet for spreading good (or bad) news, increasing my readership, or simply venting my frustrations on a particular topic. In return, the nice peeps at Facebook have given me several interactive features with which to do these things. Having a Facebook account is tantamount to having my own website, replete with mail, chat, picture and video sharing, a bulletin board and search capabilities to find long-lost friends and acquaintances…all for free. As Facebook has stated on its sign-up / login screen since its inception; “It’s free and always will be.”

     Since its February, 2004 beginnings, Facebook has decimated then-popular “Myspace”. (There’s a joke making the rounds in the “Face-space”, that if you go far enough back on your Facebook timeline, you’ll end up back on Myspace!) In 2012, Facebook went public with an IPO negotiated at $38 per share. Since their rocky start on the market, the company has thrived. Now, Facebook is reaping some very surprising rewards.

     According to a recent Fox News article, Facebook raked in over 1 billion dollars in profits in the 2012 tax year, on which it will pay…zero dollars in federal and / or state taxes. That’s right, my fine young readers. Facebook is effectively tax-exempt for tax year 2012! What makes this story even sweeter for Zuckerberg, et. al. is the fact that they (the company) will be receiving refunds totaling $429 million, and in the next three years, totaling $3 billion. (1) (I would kill to be getting that large of a tax refund!) If the Internal Revenue Service has a Facebook page, you can bet that Mr. Zuckerberg is clicking their “like” button repeatedly.

     [SOAPBOX=ON] Which brings me to the point of this piece; since Facebook has come out smelling better than ten dozen of the finest roses on God’s green earth, what do we, the faithful Facebooking multitude, get as a reward? In my way of thinking, Facebook wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for its users. Now, I’m not suggesting that Mr. Zuckerberg start writing checks to each user, but that some increase in consideration for user input and suggestions might be nice. For example:

  • How about adding a “Dislike”, or a “Thumbs Down” button? There are indeed some posts that friends have made that would have occasioned the use of this proposed button, like the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or other social issues. In addition, bad jokes, smack talk and other ill favored posts could fall under this category. Then, similar to You Tube, the average between “likes” and “dislikes” could also be displayed.
  • How about making the Timeline an option? I have several friends who absolutely hate the new Timeline format, and would rather have their old pages back.
  • How about an option to turn all game invites off? There are those of us who don’t care about “Superfarkles”, “Cityvilles”, “Farmvilles”, “PotFarms” and such, and use our Facebook accounts for other, more straight forward things like social networking, chatting and things of that nature. We don’t want to be bothered with the incessant game invites. (My aunt actually cited this as one of the reasons that she was leaving Facebook.)
  • How about bringing back the option to send a quick message with friend invites? We could do this once upon a time, but that feature seems to have pissadeered!
  • How about getting rid of those advertisements and “suggested page” entries from my newsfeed? Keep the ads over on the right-hand side of the screen where they belong, si vous plait!
  • How about being a bit more responsive to user concerns about posts that blatantly violate the Facebook TOS? (I have personally brought three of these to their attention, with only one being removed. Things like hate speech definitely need better policing by the folks at Facebook.)

     In my humble opinion, things have in fact gotten better with Facebook overall, as time has gone by. There are however, those few things that I cited that need improvement, and I think they would be well worth the $429 million of free money that Facebook is receiving from the coffers of the American taxpayers.

Faith and Religion: Of Faith and Friendship

It's all about PERSONAL accountability.

It’s all about PERSONAL accountability.

“Ain’t many guys travel around together,” he mused. “I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
(“Slim”, from the novel “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck.)

     Last night, I lost a friend. No, this friend didn’t pass on to the great beyond, (despite suffering from serious health issues) nor did I misplace them. Quite the contrary, this person dropped me as a friend, quicker than dropping a fire-heated stone. “Over what?” you might ask. The answer unfortunately, is religious perspective and how it relates to Friday’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut.

     You see, many people are still in a state of shock over the shooting, and that’s understandable. Out of that shock, many are starting to look for someone or something to place blame in / on. Some, including this friend of mine, are placing the blame on the declining role of religion in modern society. In an effort to express this assertion, she posted the following text graphic to her Facebook wall;

Blaming the "Godless society."

Blaming the “Godless society.”

     Immediately after she posted this, I responded with the following question; “”Godless society”? Are we really going there again?” No sooner had the screen refreshed a second time, then her post was gone…all of her posts were gone from the newsfeed. My friend…had “unfriended” me.

     At this point, please allow me to clarify a few things. First, this friend is someone that I’ve known for over twenty years, dating back to my time in high school. I always thought of her as being pretty level-headed and reasonable. Second, regarding the text graphic on the left, I agree with the assertion that if someone wants to commit harmful acts, they will find a means to do so which doesn’t necessarily involve firearms. But I digress…

     Immediately following the “unfriending”, I sent her e-mail, asking her “what gives?” A second message followed, in which I expressed the following sentiments;

“If I placed you in a position where you felt you had to choose between our friendship and your faith, and you chose your faith…I can’t fault you for that. I won’t lie and say I’m not hurt by this, but what ev.”

     She responded, accusing me of…let me reread the reply and make sure I get this right, “…bashing my Christianity.” I replied in turn, assuring her that it was not my intent to do so, and that I was simply positing an interrogative statement. I also stated that I supported her rights of free speech and religion, as guaranteed by our constitution. I wound the whole thing up with the following thought;

“If you want to burn bridges with everyone who disagrees with you, I can’t stop you. All I know is that if I did that, my world would become a very lonely place, wicked quick.”

     I apologised for having troubled her. I also posted to my own wall, a counter-assertion graphic, the same one presented at the top of this article. She in turn…blocked me.

“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.”
(Luke 12:51, KJV)

     My immediate (gut) reaction was to blame Christianity, and religion on the whole for the loss of this friendship. The divisiveness of religion can most assuredly be a real pain in the arse, and has been since the advent of the institution. Then however, I started thinking. If I blame religion for this friend dumping me, then I am no better than those who blame society for the actions of one person. It would be yet another in a long litany of pots calling kettles black, wouldn’t it?

     As I’ve stated previously within the hundred-or-so entries here at The Cybersattva weblog, I have faith. I believe in God, Christ and the Trinity. I have faith that basic truths regarding the nature and purpose of our existence here on this ball of dirt, can be found in the Bible. I also believe in not foisting my faith off on others, favoring instead the freedom of each person to choose their own way in life. In addition, I believe that each person is, and should be held, accountable for their own actions and statements. As for Friday’s tragedy, I hold the shooter accountable, not some nebulous concept of a “Godless society”. Likewise, I’m hurt by my friend’s actions in dumping the friendship, simply due to her own beliefs and an overactive sense of persecution.  It saddens me, more than anything else, that so many people of faith these days insist on wearing the “victim here!” shirt. (Then again, the constant shaming and ridicule by some of the atheistic factions of society can’t be helping that situation either, can it?)

     What it boils down to is this; we’re all living in the same reality, the same society and the same timespace. We each must deal with the things that we are dealt in our own way, and we must be accountable as individuals for the ways in which we interact with the world around us, as well as those in it. They are our fellow travelers here on spaceship Earth.

“Be excellent to each other.”
(Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure)

American Rhetoric: A Game of Political Chicken, or, The Ballad of Abby Farle

Chick-fil-A versus Marriage Equality

     Well, after a months-long hiatus from writing, I’m back at it. Nouns here, verbs there, a preposition or two…let the wordsmithing commence!

     I’m not really sure just where to begin with this one. Suffice it to say that it’s a mess; a political food fight which is unfolding in the debate regarding marriage equality. By the title alone, most of you probably already know who the subject of this long overdue article is; Chick-fil-A. First, please allow me to give you, my ever-appreciated, fine young readers, a little background to the story…

     First established in 1946 as “Dwarf House” by S. Truett Cathy in Hapeville, Georgia, and then re-branded and opened as Chick-fil-A in 1967 in Atlanta, the restaurant chain has grown to over 1,600 locations in 39 states, as well as future plans for locations in Mexico and the Philippines. Founder S. Truett Cathy is a devout Southern Baptist, whose religious views are reflected in the manner in which the Chick-fil-A business is run; the entire chain is closed on Sundays, and according to President and COO Dan Cathy’s bio page on the Chick-fil-A website, their stated corporate purpose is to, “glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”(1)

     Within the scope of this “divine mission”, Cathy et. al. have also established “WinShape”, a foundation from which charitable donations are channeled to various faith-based interests. According to a July 5th article at Business Insider, in 2010 WinShape doled out charitable donations totalling 2 million dollars, including 1.1 million to the Marriage and Family Foundation, one thousand dollars to the Family Research Council and two thousand, five hundred dollars to the Georgia Family Council.(2) Notably, each and every one of these charities is opposed to the concept of same-sex marriage.

     Now, we arrive at the current controversy swirling around Chick-fil-A. Between two interviews given to the Baptist Press and the Ken Coleman Show, Dan Cathy shared his thoughts on both the operation of the restaurant chain, and on same-sex marriage. From the July 16th Baptist Press interview:

    “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that”(3)

    In the Ken Coleman Show interview, he stated:

    “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”(4)

     Now, up to this point, Chick-fil-A had been in a partnership with the Jim Henson Company to develop and market toys for the restaurant’s kids’ meals. The Jim Henson Company, creators of the puppets of Sesame Street, The Muppets and Fraggle Rock, has now broken ties with Chick-fil-A over their stance on marriage equality, and issued the following statement on July 20th, via their Facebook page:

     The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors.  Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.  (http://www.glaad.org/)(5)

Posted at a Chick-fil-A location in Plano, Texas

     Within hours, a public relations fiasco took shape. A Chick-fil-A in Plano, Texas posted a recall notice dated to July 19th, stating that the toys had been voluntarily recalled, due to possible safety issues.(6) (7) Meanwhile, a debate was taking place on the Chick-fil-A page at Facebook. At some point within the last week since the announcements by both Chick-fil-A and the Jim Henson Company, a user named “Chris” initiated a discussion thread with the following post:

     “Admit it, Chick-fil-A: you stopped carrying Jim Henson’s puppets as kids meal toys because you got dumped for being bigots, not because some kids “got their fingers stuck.””(8)

     At some point in the thread, a user named Abby Farle posted the following reply:

     “It was taken back weeks before any of this…check your info Chris…John 3:16”

The infamous Abby Farle thread

     Later in the thread, a user named “Robert” noted that the Abby Farle account had been created a mere eight hours before the post, inferred that this account was in fact a “sock puppet” for Chick-fil-A Public Relations, (sorry, but Chick-fil-A will never be as good at puppetry as Jim Henson!) and pointed out that the Abby Farle profile picture was actually a generic stock photo from Shutterstock.com, of a teenaged girl. Once this post was made, “Abby Farle” disappeared back into the mist. Since then, Chick-fil-A has denied any involvement in the Abby Farle situation.

     In the midst of this public relations quagmire, Don Perry, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of public relations, died suddenly on the 27th due to a heart attack.(9)

     [SOAPBOX=ON] Now that we have an overall view of what’s been happening, the opining can commence. First of all, I think that this whole thing is a “tempest in a teacup.” If Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A want to run their business in the way they see fit, then as long as it’s legal, I say go for it. Those of us that support marriage equality don’t absolutely have to spend our money at Chick-fil-A. There are several other restaurants out there, even ones that are run by people based in Christian faith such as In-N-Out Burger, that haven’t crossed ideological swords with other groups or people. Let’s spend our money at those establishments instead. The point is…we have a choice here.

     As far as the mess with Chick-fil-A and Abby Farle, there’s no way to be absolutely sure that it was someone from Chick-fil-A’s PR wing (chicken?) that created the account. It’s also quite possible that this was done by an opponent of the chain, in order to further discredit them. It’s also possible that it was Chick-fil-A. We just don’t know.

     As for the toy recall, I find the timing of Chick-fil-A’s “safety recall” extremely suspicious. One has to know that the decision to break ties with the chain wasn’t undertaken and announced within just a few hours. I suspect that there were a plethora of “back-and-forth” phone and e-mail discussions between Chick-fil-A and the Jim Henson Company, beginning shortly after Dan Cathy’s July 16th statements. A decision was definitely arrived at, most likely around the 18th or 19th of July, and the Henson Facebook announcement was posted the following day.

     What’s become clear in this imbroglio, is that Chick-fil-A has done something that no fast food chain should do, especially if it wants to maintain its profit margin in today’s struggling economy; get its self embroiled in a political “hot button” issue.

Threat To The Internet: Please Share A Hoax

For every "share," 1 point will be added to the ripeness scale.

     As more and more people find their way onto sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the inherent vulnerabilities of the “human condition” are carried onto these networks as well. My fine young readers, what I will be explaining to you in this article is something that has been happening since the early days of electronic mail, and even earlier in the form of faxes and mass-mailings. In our current day and age, it’s called the “share hoax.”

     Please allow me to first explain the reason behind writing this most important of articles; I’m concerned. I’m troubled by the implications to the very websites that we rely on to stay in touch with our friends around the world. It’s not that I’m angry with the people who are unwittingly creating these vulnerabilities…I’m not. I just wish that more people would pay a bit of attention to what they are doing online, instead of simply engaging in emotional, “knee-jerk” reactions. But I digress, on to the “meat and potatoes” of the matter.

     Earlier today, I noticed a picture appear in my Facebook “news feed.” The picture, one of a scarred and abused puppy, was accompanied by a message that for every “share” of the picture, a dollar would be donated by the Humane Society to pay for this poor puppy’s care. Now, I tend to be a more logical than emotional thinker, so this immediately set off my “BS alert.” Aside from already knowing that the Humane Society does not do things like this through Facebook, I decided to do a bit of “on-the-fly” datamining. I popped open another browser tab, and googled the term “a dollar donated humane society,” looking for any Snopes articles in the results. Sure enough!(1)

     This is just the latest permutation of the share hoax. Others have included stories such as that of the fictitious “Amy Bruce,” a 7-year-old dying of lung cancer,(2) and another of a baby dying of facial cancer.(3) In each of these cases, the accompanying text states that some charitable entity will donate a specific sum for every share of the picture.

     Ladies and gentlemen, these hoaxes are specifically designed to play on the emotions of the user. The perpetrators behind these hoaxes, either instinctively or logically, know that the best way to get you to do something that they want you to do, is to give those ol’ heartstrings a tug. In addition to this, these hoaxes also take advantage of the user’s unawareness of how the charities or businesses mentioned actually work.

     “And don’t just follow your heart, man; ’cause your heart can be deceived. But you gotta lead your heart.”
(from the 2008 film, “Fireproof.”)

     Now, I’m not saying that emotion and compassion are bad things. Actually, the world could do with a lot more compassion! What I’m saying is that people need to pay a bit more attention and be a little more cautious, especially when they’re online. Don’t just take the ability to share that photo or link for granted, because you may just be unwittingly helping to take down the very website you’re using!

     Internet hacker group Anonymous has been successful in breaching sites belonging to federal agencies, law enforcement unions and other public and private concerns. In January of this year, a video surfaced on the internet in which the creator, claiming to represent Anonymous, stated that the group would seek to shut down Facebook.(4) One has to ask themselves, how Anonymous would be capable of doing this. As any good tactician will tell you, before mounting any kind of active attack on a target, the would-be attacker first engages in passive measures designed to figure out the target’s weaknesses.

     If I were a hacker bent on taking down Facebook, I would definitely use human vulnerabilities to help me do it. Why work hard, when you can work smart, while using others to further your objectives? How would I put this plan into action? I would use a “share hoax” to track how “ripe” a network is for the spread of a more malicious piece of code. If several thousand people are “wearing their heart on their Facebook wall,” I now know that I can attach a tiny bit of virus code to a picture or link of a poor puppy or baby, state that it / he / she is suffering, and tug on the user’s heartstrings to get them to spread it around for me. From that point, success is pretty much fait accompli.

     What I’m getting at here, is for the users of online services such as Facebook and others, to be a bit more prudent in their use of these services. Right now, Facebook is free. If Zuckerberg, et. al. have to start taking drastic measures to ensure that their sites stay up and protected from these attacks however, then look for that to change, and rightly so.

LGBT Issues: Viki’s Vitriol…

Union Township teacher Viki Knox

     Well my fine young readers, the fur is flying once again. You may remember a few weeks back that I covered the story of Jerry Buell, the Florida high school teacher that was suspended for comments that he made on his Facebook page against marriage equality. Now, the focus shifts to the state of New Jersey. In Union Township, 49-year-old Special Education teacher Viki Knox has not only been suspended, but was also escorted from school grounds pending an investigation into comments she posted on her bible group’s Facebook account, regarding an LGBT History Month display at the school where she teaches.(1) (2)(The entirety of Mrs. Knox’s comments were subsequently removed from Facebook, but not before a third-party was able to capture them. The discourse can now be found here.)

     As with the Jerry Buell situation, FB groups have sprang up both in support of her dismissal and in support of her reinstatement. And, as with the Jerry Buell situation, the debate circulates around the following questions:

  • Does Viki Knox have the right to express her personal opinions in a public forum like Facebook?
  • Should she be held to account for what she posts on Facebook?
  • Most importantly: Are her personal views affecting her job performance?

     In this writer’s personal opinion, I would answer those questions in the following manner; Yes, Mrs. Knox has the right to her own opinions and the right to express those opinions, as do I here on The Cybersattva blog. As for question number two, that gets a little more tricky in this case. You see, Viki Knox posted a rather lengthy, intolerant and vitriolic message regarding the school display, and her views on homosexuality. The comments that were made by Mrs. Knox even drew the attention of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who referred to them as “disturbing.”(3) Within all that commentary were the following trigger words; “That’s what I teach and preach.” So in THIS case, I would say that the Union Township school board is doing exactly what it needs to do. As for question three, I would say that Viki Knox answered it herself, in her post on Facebook.

     I have a very close friend who is in a Lesbian relationship. It is a monogamous, long-term one that works for both her and her partner. She also has a son in school, who is a special needs child. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call him “Bobby.” Hypothetically, if “Bobby” had Viki Knox as his teacher at school, and if Mrs. Knox was indeed “teaching and preaching” her views on homosexuality like she says in her Facebook post, what kind of effect would this have on a child like “Bobby,” who has two same-sex parents in the home? How would this impact his views and behaviors in the home?

     What I’m about to say here is going to sound quite racist to some, even though it’s not my intention to offend. I’m going to write it anyway, only because it needs to be written. The thing that I find completely ironic is that Viki Knox, while being African-American, completely rejects the concept of tolerance where the LGBT community is concerned. In an age where our nation has finally reached a level of maturity where we feel not only able, but also proud to have elected our first black president, now some (notice I said “some,” not all) who were mere decades ago decrying intolerance are now perpetuating it! Others however, including civil rights activist Coretta Scott King, widow of the martyred activist Martin Luther King Jr. are calling for tolerance and acceptance of the LGBT community.(4) The whole thing has me scratching my head, and again this whole paragraph was not meant as an affront to any particular demographic or race. If it appeared or was taken as such, I deeply apologize.

     Again, I feel that in this particular case, the school has done the right thing. In contrast with Jerry Buell, who did not allow his personal views to jade his performance in the classroom setting, Viki Knox personally attests to the fact that she not only allows her intolerant views to jade her job performance, she’s proud of it. In my humble opinion, her brand of intolerance…no, NO brand of intolerance can be allowed to pervade the schoolhouse.

______________________________

Just one in a series of articles for the “Gay Agenda.” (Mine has a calculator!)

Facebook: The Ultimate Rumor Mill?

Zuckerberg's Monster

“Jean, Jean, made a machine. Jo Jo made it go. Art, Art, he blew a fart, and blew the whole damned thing apart.” (Attribution unknown.)

     I’ve given up. No matter how often or how kindly I’ve tried to encourage my friends on Facebook to do their due diligence and research before blind-posting things, the rumors keep spreading. Yes my fine young readers, you know which rumors I’m talking about. Things like Facebook charging for access, some girl named Amy Bruce dying of Cancer, this October having some 5-5-5 configuration only once every 823 years, little lost kids being used by rapists to lure victims…“and the hits just keep on coming.”

     The reason that it’s growing is because it seems like people would rather believe the lie than hear the truth, or try finding out the truth before spreading the lie. On Facebook, this is happening with increasing frequency. I find myself trying to understand just why it is that people, including those I know to be intelligent people would unwittingly help to propagate these false stories. I’ve already lost one friend (just last night, and it was a vicious betrayal, let me tell you!) over this kind of thing. I don’t want to lose any more, so I’ve decided to keep my mouth shut, at least on Facebook. Here on my WordPress blog however, it’s my show, and I don’t have to “shut up.”

     I’ve always tried to espouse the seven Army values. These are; Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless service, Honor, Integrity and Personal courage. Notice that if you take each first letter, they spell out the acronym “LDRSHIP.” The U.S. Army grooms leaders, or at least they try to. For those of us who honestly adopt these values and do our level best to live by them, we can be effective leaders, parents and spouses. The value that applies in this case, is Integrity.

     Given the choice between the easy path of believing and spreading the lie, and the more difficult path of de-bunking the lie and spreading the truth, I would always choose the latter. It’s just who I am. The only problem with that is what one is supposed to do when the majority doesn’t seem to give a “hoot and a holler.” That’s where a lot of us that try to exercise values of integrity are finding it hard to truly make the difference.

     By the way, Facebook isn’t going to charge for access anytime soon. There IS NO Amy Bruce, and the “Make A Wish” Foundation does NOT raise money for medical costs. Octobers with 5-5-5 happen with much more frequency, the last time being 2005, the next will be 2022. Rapists would never use the “little lost kid” method, because it robs them of the power to pick their victims.

“I think I’ll write my congressman,
and tell him to pass a bill;
the next time they catch
somebody starting rumors, shoot to kill”
(Timex Social Club, from the 1986 release, “Rumors”.)