On this Father’s Day, I chose not to write about my Dad since I include his life lessons here on a regular basis. Nothing I could say about him could come off as anything but syrupy, and I’m not in a syrupy mood. You understand, Dad. We’re cool. I’ve taken a couple of weeks off from BROADSIDED and The Opinionated Bitch. Sometimes life happens, and lately, it’s been happening to me – but I’m good and though exhausted, I realized writing is the most therapeutic thing I could do.
I awoke this morning to the news that Rodney King, of L.A. riot ’92 fame, had died of an apparent drowning in the wee hours. I had always wanted to interview him 25 years later and had reached out to him in the past months. He was in the process of writing his memoirs and promised me an interview once the book was published. Looks like I’ll have to put a new name on my Interview Bucket List. Rodney King was a troubled man in many ways, but seemed to finally be getting his life together. The beating he took at the hands of L.A.’s Finest was captured on video and it was perhaps one of the first citizen videos to expose this type of behavior. Of course, the police responsible were found not guilty in the criminal trials, evidence of the deep racial divide plaguing the city and ultimately sparking the worst riots in L.A. history – all brought to us in living color every night on the news. I was living in Chicago at the time and given the racial tensions there, everyone expected violence to erupt. Thankfully, it didn’t, but my friends told me what it was like in ’68 – driving down the Dan Ryan Expressway, watching our city burn.
One other feature players of
the L.A. Riots of ’92 was a man named Reginald Denny. Reginald Denny was the driver pulled from his sand truck at the intersection of Florence and Normandie – savagely beaten in the full view of television helicopters. One of the assailants took a concrete block and a claw hammer and beat Denny’s skull, fracturing it in over 90 places. He underwent years of rehabilitation and his speech and ability to walk have been permanently affected. Reginald Denny would have died, but for the heroics of two men and two women who piled Denny back into his truck and drove him to a hospital, saving his life. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the entire event for me was when the men who perpetrated the attack were tried in court. Reginald Denny approached the mother of the man who obliterated his skull and embraced her. It was a moment of pure grace I shall never forget. I’ve always wanted to interview Reginald Denny because I still find his forgiveness exceptional. He does not grant interviews because he wishes to put the entire incident behind him – even Time Magazine couldn’t get an interview with him. I actually got his home address and phone number, but decided to leave the man alone and respect his privacy. He’s earned it.
Another fine topic that caught my eye this week was the story of Michigan Democratic House Member Lisa Brown, who was censured for using the word “vagina” and therefore not ‘respecting the decorum of the House’. The discussion at hand was about banning abortion because it was against the religious freedom of Christians. She pointed out that, as a Jew, therapeutic abortion (those performed to save the life of the mother), were not only permissible, but a mandatory tenant of Judiasm. Her point was, she wasn’t asking anyone to accept her religious beliefs and didn’t understand why the beliefs of the Christian Taliban should be made into law. She ended her two-minute speech by saying, “And finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.” Initially, Representative Brown was censured for using the medically correct term “vagina”. Seeing the folly of that, the Speaker changed the reasoning that her comment, “no means no” was an offensive rape reference. Of course, that wasn’t what Rep. Brown was inferring at all, but the Speaker doubled down on his fake outrage by calling her commentary “a tantrum”. She is now barred from speaking on the house floor for the remainder of the legislative session, thereby stripping her of her ability to represent her constituents. That sounds a lot like the Speaker is the one throwing the temper tantrum. I say, if the boys are so offended by the use of the word vagina, perhaps they should leave our vaginas alone. You go girl.
And finally, on the subject of fake outrage, I’d like to say a few
words about how easily offended some people tend to be these days. An individual approached my publisher and told her that she no longer feels comfortable directing traffic to the Here Women Talk Blogzine, specifically because of my columns. She finds them utterly offensive, especially since I tend to liberally drop an f-bomb when and where I see fit. In an effort to make peace, I capitulated and agreed not to utter any expletives above “the fold”, or the 160-character mark. I vowed to creatively use the word fuck at the 161 character mark on a weekly basis as a matter of principal, but decided not to let her get to me. I still love using the word Vagina in the title, but have to write about other things on occasion. Fuck ‘em. I stopped censoring myself to comfort other people’s ignorance a long time ago. The name of the column isn’t The Bland Pointless Inoffensive Choir Girl – it’s The Opinionated Bitch. I put it right there in the headline, so I’m thinking if you don’t like what you read here, it isn’t like you weren’t forewarned.
A friend of mine posted a cartoon on her Facebook page recently and was taken to task by people who were deeply offended. It was hardly offensive and she tried to explain it was merely a joke. One poster decided to assign intention to the cartoon, stating it was intended to be offensive. I fired back that assigning intention was a bit arrogant (it was) and I walked away from the stupidity of it all. If you only knew the Pollyanna who posted it, you’d know how not intentional it was. I’m frankly more than a little tired of the rash of fake outrage from the holier-than-thou. A Christian preacher can lynch the first African-American President in effigy and doesn’t see the connection to race. A Baptist minister can talk about putting all the ‘queers’ in electrified fences until they all die out but he’s not to be taken seriously – he was kidding! Another Baptist minister talks about cracking effeminate wrists of sons and forcing young girls to dress like a girl and smell like a girl and when he says “Sorry if you’re offended, but I was right.” and I refuse to accept his bigotry, I’m somehow the bad guy. There’s a certain disconnect with those things about which they choose to be offended.
Just when I was convinced the Crazy Christians had gone completely mad and simply didn’t understand the teachings of Christ, a Dallas preacher, Dr. Frederick Haynes, III spoke to members of his congregation who may be wrestling with President Obama’s support of gay marriage. For the first time in a long time, I saw a man who “gets it”. I saw a man who understands the basic tenants of Christianity and I found his words inspiring. The following six minutes are worth watching. I confess to wiping away some tears at his beautiful insights.
Thanks, preacher. Oh – and it’s good to be back!
Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11 am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific.