Steubenville, USA: You Are Here

Some of this blog may delve into the “Not Suitable For Work” category. Normally, I try to censor myself, but I’m tired, cranky and extremely upset. I did not choose these words just to be vulgar, and I apologize if any sincerity on my part is lost due to language/graphic choices.

 

I’m supposed to be sleeping right now, but I can’t. I decided to check Facebook to see those silly things you see, but sadly was instead reminded over and over again of the immoral, disgusting society in which we live.

You all know the case by now, but if by chance you missed it, here it goes: In Steubenville, Ohio, two high school teens teamed up to rape a 16 year old classmate. Trent Mays (age 17) and Ma’lik Richmond (age 16) took advantage of a girl who was intoxicated, removed her clothing (either by force or coercion), penetrated her vagina with their fingers, and took pictures and video of the assault and the aftermath.

Mays, who took pictures of the victim naked and perpetrated rape acts received two years in juvenile detention. Richmond received one year of the same punishment for rape acts.

Two years. One year. For rape.

Maybe I’m missing something here…nope. They committed rape.

Rap star DMX violated probation by consuming alcohol. One year sentence.

Kevin Mitnik was convicted of hacking and computer fraud. One year sentence (after nearly FOUR YEARS of incarceration without trial).

A Columbus woman was convicted of bribery. One year sentence.

Are you kidding me? THEY RAPED A GIRL! They took advantage of a girl who was intoxicated. They violated her. They humiliated her. They used her. Then they rubbed it in her face.

These teens were tried as minors. MINORS?! If you’re “man” enough to shove your fingers into a drunk girl’s vagina; if you’re “man” enough to take pictures of a girl after she’s been violated and is passed out; if you’re “man” enough to brag to your friends about violating a girl; if you’re “man” enough to tell the whole world about your little conquest, then you sure as hell are man enough to face the full reality and responsibility of your actions.

An Attorney General stated that more charges might be forthcoming. That there might have been teens that could have prevented or stopped the rape and failed to do so and that there might have been adults that covered up for these kids, including parents and football coaches.

Are you fucking kidding me?! WE JUST DID THIS AT PENN STATE! How in the hell could this have happened again?!

WAKE UP PEOPLE! THIS IS RAPE!

We’re not talking about a recruiting violation or an underage drinking ticket. We’re talking about the violation and degradation of the human body, mind, and spirit. We’re talking about possibly the single worst thing a person can survive and the single worst crime one can commit without taking a life (probably because in actuality it DOES result in the loss of life both figuratively and literally).

I’m not just blaming the media here, for their “those poor boys” and “that poor football team” and “sad for the town” quotes. Actually wait…if you said any of those things, screw you and the priorities you fucked up when you woke this morning. There was a young girl RAPED last year, and you’re worried about some stupid game?  Two boys (and yeah, they really are just boys because real men don’t fucking rape people) made multiple, controlled decisions to ruin that girls life and you’re worried about their feelings?

See, it’s not just the media, it’s this whole nation. This nation has some serious priority issues. The fact that football teams have now been in the center of potentially a second rape cover up is disgusting. The fact that those two teams are almost definitely less than one percent of all the rape cover-ups that happen within or surrounding football programs is nauseating. The fact that we treat rape like some minor felony akin breaking probation is gut-wrenching.

This is a rape culture we live in. Boys are raised to use the word “pussy” as an insult. We’re raised to say crap like “You throw like a girl” (I’m sure Jenny Finch has no problem with that; you try hitting her fastball) and call each other “faggots”. We’re raised to think that having sex (whether forced or consensual doesn’t seem to matter) is some right of passage. We’re taught that women are here to cook and clean and spread their legs. This is our culture. It’s in our movies and our television and our music and our advertisements and our workplaces and our school yards.

Why? Because that’s what boys do because that’s what men do, and until men change that mentality it won’t get better.

Well I’m fucking sick of the guidelines this society wants me to follow. You know what I think it is to be a man? First off: I think it’s the exact same thing as what it is to be a woman. I think it’s protecting those that need to be protected. I think it’s standing up to hatred whether it’s sexism, racism or any other bigotry. I think it’s setting an example for the next generation that being a dick does not equal being a man.

Rape is not right. Sexism and racism and xenophobia are not right. They aren’t “rights” either. They are violations. They are egregious evils.

Women never ask for it, guys. The way they dress does not ask for your hand down their shirt. If you buy them a drink, they do not owe you a blow job. If they kiss you, that does not mean you lift their skirt. If a woman does have sex, she is NOT a slut. She is NOT a whore.

Men claim that they’re the superior gender; well we sure don’t act like it. I know we can’t stop every rape. I know we can’t stop every act of hatred. But god damn it we absolutely MUST stop excusing it.

It’s not “something that happens”. It’s a crime. We need to treat it as a crime and we need to treat rapists as criminals. We need men to finally grow up. We need to end the rape culture.

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Time to Sentence the “Guilty as charged”

Last week Dan Cathy, the president of Chik-Fil-A restaurants came out and proudly stood by the fact that his company is run with an agenda based on Christian beliefs. He and his company annually donates to Christian charities/groups and one of them is the National Organization for Marriage, a political lobby focused on preventing homosexual marriage in this country.

Let me first say that I have absolutely no problem with this part whatsoever. A person or private company has every right to donate their hard earned cash wherever they like. It’s none of my business.

Many people called for a boycott of their product. While I, obviously, refuse to give them my business, I’m not going to sit out in front of their stores and protest their policies. Just because I don’t agree with them it does not mean I think they don’t have the right to have those policies. If you were to ask me what I think about the store, I’d tell you that I haven’t visited a Chik-Fil-A in almost ten years because of their anti-gay, anti-abortion policies. That’s the free market. You can choose to support whatever business you like.

Most likely, this would have been one of those semi-interesting stories that disappear within a week, except one of Chik-Fil-A’s partners decided enough was enough. The Jim Henson Company heads the workshop of those lovable muppets as well as any characterizations of them, including the toys that came with kids’ meals at Chik-Fil-A. Well…they used to. In a statement on their Facebook page, the Jim Henson Co. explained:

“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 (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).”

I definitely smiled when I saw this news. Knowing that some of Chik-Fil-A’s hard-earned cash went straight to a social equality group lifted my spirits last Friday. I guess this was the spark that we were all looking for though. In response, Chik-Fil-A decided to go on a PR spree that would make them look awful.

First, stores reportedly started taking the toys out of the kids’ meals, then this picture floated around:

Reportedly taken at a location in Texas.

So we’re supposed to believe that these two events are random? Yes, according to spokeswoman Tiffany Greenway. She said that the toys were removed “for the protection of our customers” and that it is not related to the severing of business ties between the two companies.

What. The F*ck. Ever.

We’re not stupid, Ms. Greenway.

This incident is bad enough, now Chik-Fil-A is having another media issue, this time with Facebook itself. This incident occurred on Chik-Fil-A’s own page. That’s right. Chik-Fil-A had one of their employees create a fake Facebook account and was caught in the act.

Again…We’re not stupid.

Shall we add to the bad publicity? Sure, let’s do it. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wasn’t going to be silenced either. Here is a copy of the letter he sent to Mr. Cathy regarding the company’s interest in locating stores in the city of Boston:

Click the image to open a bigger version of the letter.

Ouch. Not even Boston wants you. That’s just hilarious.

It doesn’t end there. Chicago’s Logan Square has said that talks with Chik-Fil-A have ended unless the company institutes a non-discriminatory policy in their hiring practices and employee handbook and added that it would take a public apology from Mr. Cathy as well. More on this here.

Add this to the already growing list of colleges asking for their campuses to boot Chik-Fil-A and/or refuse to open new stores.

Add this to a nation that is growing younger.

Add this to a generation of Americans that are more accepting of alternative lifestyles.

Mr. Cathy has the right to believe and say what he wants. He and his company have the right to donate their services and finances to any legal institution or lobby they like.

What they do NOT have a right to do is lie to us. This society does not accept liars. We know they are lying about the unreasonable timing of safety issues with muppet toys. We know they lied about some red headed facebook girl that exists for a grand total of eight hours.

You are guilty of bigotry, Mr. Cathy.

You are guilty of lies and deceit.

Hopefully this nation gives you proper punishment and takes their capitalism elsewhere.

That’s our right.

Ray Emmert Stands Up — Who’s With Him?

You’ve all seen the headlines by now.

Joe Paterno’s statue has been moved; to where is a mystery to me. Frankly, I don’t really care. It’s gone. Nothing else to see here.

Not so fast Penn State. You’re going to want to put this leather strap in your mouth. This will not be pleasant.

Let’s flash backwards here: NCAA President Ray Emmert had a stack of papers to read. Court documents. The Freeh report. Letters from fans and non-fans. Angry fans. Pleading fans. Worried colleagues.

The job of the NCAA is to maintain a rule book for collegiate sports both on and off the field. Over the years, the association has grown arms, grabbing collegiate sports in a deadly full-nelson of power. It issues “the only recognized championships”. It decided to use the BCS instead of the bowl games, and more recently added a mini-playoff.

The NCAA also seems to have turned into just another conglomerate, more interested in the making of money than in the good of the game. College football has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry driving television stations and advertisements to the forefront of decisions made by high school athletes, college presidents and fans alike.

Instead of protecting the student-athletes (especially in major market sports like football and men’s basketball), the NCAA seems to protect the interests of big business. It was already getting bad, even to the point of South Park satirizing the practices of the NCAA and referring to the athletes as slaves. Quite honestly, they aren’t far off. Schools and advertisers and television networks make billions of dollars every season. Coaches make upwards of five million dollars a year. Students receive nothing but their scholarship letter. No, getting a free education does NOT balance that out.

Then came Jerry Sandusky. Then came Joe Paterno and the Penn State administration. Then came potentially the most disgusting scandal in American sports history.

There were no rules of the game broken. No recruiting violations. No cheating coaches. No one sold their jerseys.

Instead, ten young boys (and who knows if there were more that couldn’t or didn’t speak up for various reasons) lost their innocence at the hands of a sexual predator. What Sandusky did was awful. He used his stature as a football coach and friend to Paterno and the football program to his advantage.

The NCAA, or more appropriately Ray Emmert, felt the urge to act, despite the fact that it would appear these criminal acts lie outside its realm. Emmert bypassed the infractions committee and claimed that Penn State was running a program with a lack of integrity and ethics. Yeah, that seemed a bit ironic to me as well.

The infractions committee gave Emmert the thumbs up to hasten the process and sanction Penn State for its immoral and criminal acts and he didn’t disappoint. You’ve probably seen the results:

  • Fined $60 million (to be spread over five years)
  • Vacation of wins from 1998 to 2011
  • Four year postseason ban
  • Four year scholarship reduction
  • Five year probation

I’m going to let the experts sort those out for you. Go to ESPN or CBSSports and just let the links fly.

What I want to talk about is the next part. Here’s a quote from Emmert at the press conference today:

 “As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act. These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgment of educators.”

This quote embodies what I hope to see as a new trend in college sports. “A call to every single school and athletics department.” There it is. Right there. This was as much a punishment for the disgusting practices of Penn State’s most powerful people as it is a warning to every school out there: “Get your shit together now.”

What’s amazing is the decree signed by both the NCAA and Penn State (which is essentially the equivalent to a lawsuit settlement). Usually the school who committed infractions and the NCAA “negotiate” on penalties. Not here. Penn State had no say in the punishments. They weren’t involved in any of the process. They were just told to sit in the corner while the adults figured out what to do with them.

Makes you wonder if they have more to hide and just want this whole thing to go away as fast as possible.

Penn State made it very clear that they regarded the reputation of Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky and the football program with much higher esteem than the lives of these young boys. They covered up one of the most heinous crimes one can commit because the football team and the wallet of the university was just too important. In my opinion, the way they acted is just as evil, if not far more so, as what Sandusky did. Sandusky is a sick man who needs help. These men are just greedy, disgusting people.

The fans were shocked to see this play out. We were appalled to see that kids would be treated this way. Honestly we’re just as foolish as Paterno and his friends. Major college sports is an industry full of greed, deception and lies. Penn State wasn’t doing anything different, they just got caught.

Hopefully we as the consumer show them that we will not purchase a product made in the sweatshops of universities nationwide. That our children are not pawns. That our morals are not for sale.

Emmert is giving the universities a warning that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated.

America needs to back him up.

 

Joe Paterno, Penn State Deserve Worse than Admonishment

The highly anticipated Freeh report on Penn State’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky case is finally out, and it’s worse than I thought.

Not only that, but Joe Paterno and his ridiculous arrogance wrote his own letter to friends and players of his program.

I’m just so sick to my stomach to think that Paterno and the Penn State administration could be so cold-hearted, arrogant, greedy and downright evil.

Okay, the report first, and you can read it here. Not only did it confirm what we all thought (in regards to the administration going all “hear no evil, see no evil” on us, but it showed that they literally swept this under the rug back in 1998. They postured that they had no proof of any incident regarding Sandusky and his alleged behavior, and decided not to alert the police of the allegations. They also blatantly hid the incident from the Board of Trustees.

They also made no effort whatsoever to find out who this kid was that Sandusky allegedly molested. This tells me that they knew it was likely true and cared nothing for how it affected the victim, but only the public relations of the school and its football program. But what did they do? They told Sandusky about the allegations. Sandusky, the only man who knew the identity of this victim, then had the power to do anything he could to scare, blackmail, intimidate or who knows what other god-awful thing to this kid.

We all know that Sandusky resigned in 1999, just a year after all of this happened. I always thought maybe they asked him to resign so it would all “go away.” Apparently not. This independent investigation found no connection between the molestation and the resignation.

Disgusting.

Now we also recently found out that Paterno wrote a letter to some of his former players and coaches just a month before his death. In this letter he had the audacity to say that this doesn’t affect the football program. He brings up the fact that the university is “great” already and separate from the football team.

But you know what Joe? If the Dean of Arts and Letters was accused of child molestation that man would have been out of a job faster than you can say “vomit”.

This IS a football issue because you ARE the football coach and Sandusky WAS your employee. His charity WAS based on your football prowess and your team WAS used to bait this kids into dream-like worlds where Sandusky DID ruin their lives.

You, Joe (and likewise your superiors), were in charge of a group of men. Some of those men made terrible choices that put the lives of innocent young boys in serious peril.

Joe, you do not deserve the “Papa Joe” moniker. You don’t deserve the statue on that campus. You don’t deserve to be in the College Football Hall of Fame. You used your football status to ruin the lives of children. You and your superiors used the money football brings into the university as an excuse to hide one of the most heinous crimes one person can do to another, and you did it over and over and over again.

Shame on you. Shame on your superiors. Shame on your employees.

You cannot put a price tag on the innocence of those children, but you did anyway.

So yes, Joe, it IS about football. It IS about how you ran your program.

But more importantly it’s about the lives you let become ruined under your charge.

That goes for you, too, Penn State.

I don’t feel sorry for your alumni. I don’t feel sorry for your football team or fans. I don’t feel sorry for any of you.

I feel sorry for the lives that were ruined by your arrogance and villainy.

My Heavy Chest and the Little Things That Weigh It Down

I’m gonna kind of cheat this whole blogging thing by starting a fairly regular piece (weekly maybe?) of little stuff I want to get off my chest without giving each thing it’s own article. This is obviously a working title, and any suggestions will be much appreciated.

So without further ado, here some shallow thoughts about some heavy things:

Just walk slow, act dumb and look stupid!

Playing Taps to General Worden

Ernest Borgnine died today and it’s sad to think we won’t see that gap-toothed grin or bushy eyebrows anymore. He wasn’t the best or funniest actor. He didn’t do a lot of great movies (was All Dogs Go To Heaven the best?). The Dirty Dozen, however, is one of my all-time favorites.

He was also a doorman in some television show. I don’t remember the show at all, but I remember him in the purple outfit. And those bushy eyebrows.

I really will miss those things.

Dear Vicente Padilla: Go Play Lacrosse

The Boston Red Sox reliever recently told New York Yankee Mark Texeira to go play “a women’s sport” due to Texeira’s apparent aversion to getting hit in the head with a baseball. I also do not like getting hit in the head with a baseball just because the pitcher is a whiny little douchenozzle who didn’t like giving up a home run. These two have a history together and if you want to learn more about it, click the link. It’s kind of funny in a “haha- you guys are kinda childish” sort of way.

It’s comments like these that our society finds acceptable and harmless and that’s just not right. I have the feeling I could list off quite a few women athletes who are far superior to Padilla’s Krispy Kreme-sponsored physical ability. I found his comments to be sexist, inflammatory and completely unnecessary.

So if you want to be a complete asshole, Padilla? Go play lacrosse. You’ll fit in nicely.

Let Them Give Blood

In what is slowly turning into a national need for blood donors, finally politicians are looking into a thirty year old ban on gay men giving blood based on fairy tale-like fears that gay men all had AIDS and therefore could not give blood.

It’s not GRID, people, let’s put on a brave face. There’s a notion that a promiscuous straight man refusing to wear condoms for multiple partners (and I imagine there’s just as many as these men giving blood as gay men wanting to give blood) is somehow safe but a gay man’s blood is automatically tainted. That’s just simply naive and unhealthy. I think we can all big kids here and realize that this is a very antiquated and poorly backed belief.

On a similar note…

I Legally Love Google

Follow the rainbow…

The largest search engine on the net has always tried to be a breath of fresh air, giving us themed homepages with secret hyperlinks and (for some of us) a platform to be social without silly duck-faced kids and privacy issues. Recently, they took huge steps forward in my book. 

“Legalize Love” is Google’s new campaign to better the lives of LGBT workers in the workplace and in the world. They’ve already picked up partners in Citigroup and Ernst & Young, among others, and are focusing their efforts on Europe and Asia. 

I’d like to see them get behind the Democratic Party in the upcoming elections here in the good ol’ US of A and help our nation get back to the path of social equality in which we once took pride.

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I feel like there’s much, much more to say, but I can’t remember. I’ll be back next weekend.

Now back to my wine.

Is America Joining the 20th Century?

There’s exciting news out of California today.

State legislatures have approved the building of the first large scale high-speed railway system in the United States, according to CNN.

My reaction? It’s about ****ing time.

Sometimes Republicans really, truly baffle me. They want to build giant, ugly oil pipes (that I’m not even necessarily against) all over the country, but don’t want to build high speed rails throughout America’s farmland. Are you kidding me? Grow up.

High speed rail works. Flat out. You don’t believe me? Ask Europe.

I never once heard someone come back from a European vacation to say, “Well it was really beautiful, all the old architecture and stuff. But man, those ugly trains…”

It’s just silly.

These things create TONS of jobs. The California project alone is hoping to create 450,000 permanent jobs over the next twenty-five years. That’s from Los Angeles to San Francisco and from L.A. to San Diego. That’s just a small portion of what could be a huge positive to the entire nation.

They allow access to travel destinations to people who can’t afford to fly. Imagine living in Chicago and you want to go see the Bears play the Detroit Lions. The problem? The game is in Detroit and you don’t have 230 dollars for plane tickets. Would you be more likely to go if you could spend about fifty bucks each way on a high speed train that would take roughly an hour to get there? Yes. You would. We all would.

Likewise, they benefit the economy in a multitude of ways. I just listed one. “Frivolous” travel would increase, which means people are vacationing more. If it’s easier for you to hop on a train and head to Miami for a long weekend, don’t think for one second you would pass up the chance to take your talents to South Beach. Jobs increase, which means more people have more money to spend, etc. As tourism and local economies increase, those people are more like to travel and spend and so on and so forth.

And what about the fact that it requires zero gasoline to run these trains? Can you imagine how much this could impact the environment, especially in an area of the country that specializes in smog warnings.

Maybe that’s the nationwide issue? Perhaps the fact that this product reduces our nation’s dependence on oil is affecting the votes of a few certain congressmen on a certain side of the aisle?

Quite frankly, I’ve never heard a convincing argument why high-speed rail couldn’t compete with airlines for national travel other than political motivation. It creates jobs, it’s cheaper for the average consumer, it’s safer and cleaner.

It’s time to catch up to the rest of the world in regards to infrastructure.

A Little Taste of Americana

I hope you all had a safe, not-too-warm (looking at you, midwest) and explosive Fourth of July! I got to see F-16s fly over the beaches of South Carolina. How was your time with little Timmy and his Whipper-Snappers?

Anywho, the beaches were a bit busy, especially considering we were followed around by evil, human-hating jellyfish. Yeah, that many people got stung. It was really annoying, but we made due until it was time for the evening festivities.

The resort we’re at hosted a little neighborhood cookout and fireworks display. Let’s walk through the conglomeration of people from all over the country coming together to pretend that they know and like each other just because we’re all eating the same pulled pork.

Gathering on the lawn.

There were over four hundred people gathered together on a little area of land and pier on the intracoastal waterway for some barbecue and games and good times. It was a lot of fun, especially when there’s a solo singer/musician pretending to be Jimmy Buffet while singing songs by summer music stars Johnny Cash and Joe Jackson and the Talking Heads. You heard me. Poor man’s Jimmy Buffet singing “Ring of Fire” at a July Fourth dinner party.

Classy.

Shuffleboard and bocce ball right next to each other? Yes. Please.

Bocce ball is awesome. One hundred kids trying to play it their own way while one 70 year old woman takes it way too seriously so that good, patient kids and people never get to play is not awesome. I think that was a run-on sentence but I don’t care. That annoyed me.

At least I got to dance with a cute little three year old to that Talking Heads song, instead. Worth it.

Time to start finding your seats.

The sun setting over the mainland as things wound down was pretty nice. A solid, cool breeze blowing the flags and just enough clouds to make you want to photograph the sun marked the end to a nice evening.

Patriotic sunsets make me smile.

Seriously, it was an awesome sunset. And look at those flags lining the pathway! It was seriously like walking down the aisle to marry the sun god. So romantic.

No. This was not the finale.

It was pushing what seemed like midnight when I took this picture. We think they forgot to take matches out to the barge to light the wicks of the fireworks. It really felt like hours because everyone was told to take our seats, the lights were dimmed but literally nothing happened. Nothing. Until…

“Be kind to your web-footed friends…”

Okay, so there wasn’t actually any music piped in or anything, but am I the only one that always hears the same song whenever I watch fireworks? I don’t know the name of it, but the caption of that photo says it all. It’s probably something by Sousa because there’s tons of drums and trumpets.

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Sorry I haven’t been around much lately, it’s been a busy couple of weeks. I hope you all celebrated your dutiful birthday full of beer, barbecue and bombs.

Go America!