Thursday, December 15, 2011

Idiots’ Delight

This will be the first of two features. The first will be the monthly award; the second a yearly. With all that has happened over the last few weeks, I simply couldn’t let December go by without including another three worthy contenders for the coveted annual booby prize.

While it is getting more and more difficult to narrow the field down to three – Herman Cain had November all to himself and currently has the inside track on the yearly award – I find the challenge exhilarating in a perverse sort of way.

The theme this month is intolerance, and, after reading this piece, I’m sure you’ll agree all three winners went above and beyond the call of duty and truly earned the “honor” accorded them.

So, without further ado, the envelope please.

The Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church: So what exactly did this tiny, rural, all-white Kentucky church do to merit mention in this feature? Well, the hint lies in the all-white designation. Seems some of the members of this church have some rather “interesting” views about what constitutes an acceptable marriage. By a 9 to 6 margin, the elders voted to bar mixed-race couples from joining the congregation. The resolution basically says that “parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services and other church functions, with the exception being funerals.”

“We are not a group of racist people,” said Keith Burden of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. No, of course not. You’re just a bunch of Neanderthals who sat back and allowed nine people to speak on your behalf while you did nothing to stop them.

Melvin Thompson, the former pastor who called for the vote, wouldn’t say why he did it. “I am not racist,” Thompson insisted. “I will tell you that. I am not prejudiced against any race of people.” Thompson just doesn’t believe that members of one race should marry another, that’s all.

The sad reality is that more than forty years have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down statutes in more than fifteen states banning interracial marriage and still, in some parts of the country, churches remain largely segregated. Still it is quite unusual to find such overt displays of bigotry, even in Kentucky.

Succumbing to outside pressures, the church later overturned its decision after realizing that its resolution ran contrary to local, state or federal laws. Current pastor, Stacy Stepp, added that the proposal had been discriminatory and that the church now “welcomes believers into our fellowship regardless of race, creed or color.”

Nothing like a bit of good old-fashion shame to convict a sinner, right reverend?

Lowe’s: Joining the anti-Muslim hysteria that seems to be sweeping the country, the home-improvement giant pulled its advertising from TLC’s “All-American Muslim,” a show that chronicles the everyday lives of five Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan who apparently don’t fit the stereotypes of what Muslims are supposed to act like.

A statement released by Lowe’s said the following:

“Lowe's has received a significant amount of communication on this program, from every perspective possible. Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”

Of course, what Lowe’s left out in its statement is that one of those groups is the extremely conservative Florida Family Association, which has been “aggressively” pushing advertisers to drop the show on the basis that it depicts “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” Translation, the show didn’t fit the myopic views of the FFA.

Adding insult to injury, Lowe’s decision to pull its advertising from the show sparked a number of overtly racist comments on its facebook page. Here’s a gander at some of the more egregious rants.

“Sadly, we imported the Muz during WWII to make tanks in Detroit at GM. Just too bad we didn’t send them home after the war was over.”

“I would love to watch a show called being Christian in America. Or being Jewish in America, or being Hindu in America. Even would watch a show called being an atheist ion America. Never would I watch this crappyshitshow. LOL. Way to go Lowes. Got my money for a new bathroom all ready for you. Where’s the show called Being White in America?”

“The troops are coming to liberate America and turn it into Redneckistan!”

Not all the comments were offensive. Surprisingly, many derided the chain’s decision. One comment stands out among the crowd. “So it’s okay to advertise during Jersey Shore and other shows that make Americans look idiotic but it’s not okay to advertise during a show that demonstrates another perspective in an intelligent manner? Way to go pandering to the lowest element, Lowe’s.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Jimmy Fallon: Let’s get something straight. I have about as much use for Michele Bachmann as a bug has for a can of Raid. The Republican congresswoman and presidential candidate has had some of the more “colorful” missteps of this strange campaign and at times has embarrassed herself and her party, but regardless of how you may feel about her, what happened on Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night show was inexcusable.

In case you missed it, or just happened to have been in a coma the last few weeks, Bachmann, a guest on the show, walked out to the strains of a 1985 Fishbone song, “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” Bachmann apparently didn’t get the slight during her interview, but it wasn’t long before the fur began to fly and the incident was rightly condemned.

Fallon later apologized for the incident, which was laudable, but the point is that no one should ever have to endure such a humiliating stunt. It was not funny and it was definitely not appropriate. It is one thing to criticize or raise legitimate concerns about a candidate’s position or record, but it is quite another to degrade them in such a sophomoric fashion.

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