Archive of ‘Thinking’ category

The Craptacular: Guantanamo Edition

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Tortured For Her Weight

By Bonnie Dean

She doesn’t know how long she was unconscious. She was even unsure how long she had been in the chamber. Days and hours melded into one another. Time became meaningless; her pain was eternal.

Khloe twisted her body to ease the stiffness in her limbs. Her movement was limited by the iron chains that bound her wrists and ankles. Her back still stung from the lashings. Each bead of sweat that trickled into her open wounds felt like a little knife. 

Someone splashed water on her face. The coldness of it shocked her into temporary alertness.

As her eyes focused, the three dark figures before her became sharper – her torturers.

The tallest one stepped forward. She could smell the rot coming from his mouth. She hoped the cancer that was eating his insides caused him as much pain as he made her experience.

“Give us your weight!” he screamed. His spittle landed on her forehead.

Khloe glared at him. “No!” she cried.

Her defiance seemed to both amuse and anger him. She thought she saw the corner of his mouth go up, but it was gone so quickly she couldn’t tell if it was a smile or a sneer. His face turned red and his brow became furrowed.

“This is your last chance. You will give us your weight!”

She had been tortured for a lot of things – for information, mostly. The whereabouts of her criminal boyfriend, the hiding place of their cache of guns, when they buried the gold they stole. But never for her weight. It made no sense to her, but given the strange, illogical path the world was taking, nothing surprised her anymore.

“Never!” Khloe said, her voice affecting a low, dead timbre. “You can torture me all you want, I will never give you my weight! You can have all the gold. And the guns. But not my curves!”

And with every last bit of energy she could muster, with every drop of saliva she could draw from her mouth, she spit in his face.

His eyes grew wide. He wiped her phlegm from his face, and looked at it in his palm. The insolence!

He drew up his hand and slapped her. The giant ring on his finger left a small gash in her cheek. That’ll leave a mark, Khloe thought.

“For that, you will DIE!”

He silently motioned to the other two men, who began to unlock the chains binding her to the rack. As they dragged her away to face her executioner, Khloe called out her last words –

“I fear nothing for God is with me…and my bodacious booty!”


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Radio Song

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The Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing” was banned from Canadian radio by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC), who ruled that “the song violates the industry’s code of ethics because the lyrics include the word “faggot” three times.” This comes on the heels of the recent sanitizing of the Mark Twain classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I was 16 years old when “Money for Nothing” was released in the summer of 1985. I wasn’t a huge Dire Straits fan, but I liked the song because it was catchy and the video was ground-breaking at the time. I don’t remember much ado being made about the word “faggot” being used; back then, in my high school, the word was part of the vernacular, often thrown about as an insult between teenage boys (a few of whom I’m sure have come out by now).

I was recently going through my old high-school journals and noticed that I used the term “fag” twice.  It was disconcerting, to say the least, but that was close to thirty years ago. I didn’t know better back then; I was the product of my Catholic upbringing and homophobic high-school environment, where homosexuality was considered a sin. Guys who wore make-up (except those in new-wave or heavy-metal bands) or were even slightly less than the masculine ideal were called “fags”. (Which is ironic given that this and this were considered macho back then.) Twenty-five years have given me a perspective and an intelligence that one can never have as a teenager.

I now understand how terms like “faggot” can be painful to hear for some people. Over time, I’ve become a little sensitive to songs and videos that hint at misogynism. While I bop my head to Jay Z’s “99 Problems”, I cringe over the line “and a bitch ain’t one”. I struggled with with “Under My Thumb” by the Rolling Stones until I started thinking that the lyrics don’t necessarily have to be about all women. Even my beloved Beatles recorded a song, “Run for Your Life”, that had the lyric “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man…” It’s a conflict I deal with occassionally. Because the alternative – stop listening to popular music altogether – is simply not an option for me.

What I do is put everything into perspective. I consider the context surrounding the song. Back then, “Run For Your Life” may not have raised many eyebrows at the time – but it would certainly raise a furor now. And to me that shows how far we’ve come. Also, the song is not indicative of their entire creative output – the Beatles didn’t have a catalogue  of songs dedicated to women-bashing. And lastly, the lyrics may be highly personal or reflective of the writer’s experience at the time. This same logic applies to “Money For Nothing”. (It’s also interesting to note the etymology behind the Dire Straits song: the lyrics are based on the comments of a real delivery man.)

Censorship is a slippery slope. You ban one song, you open the door to more. What about songs that use literary devices to make a point – do we ban those because some people don’t get the concept of irony? And how far back do we go? And when does it stop? When our airwaves are filled with non-threatening pap like Justin Bieber? “Baby, baby, baby” – God help us.

Instead of censoring and banning, let’s educate and empower. Music can be a powerful mirror –  it can reflect things in society we don’t necessarily wish to see. It may also make us uncomfortable. But it there’s a song that incites bigotry or hatred of a specific group, let’s use that to start a discourse, let’s use it to enact change. Because no matter how hard we try to sweep something under a rug, it will still be there.

But the hullabaloo over the CBSC decision may be moot. Who actually listens to commercial radio anymore?


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It’s the end of the world as we know it

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The unexplainable deaths of birds and fish in Arkansas have led some people to speculate that the apocalypse will soon be upon us. The whole Mayan-calendar-ending-next-year thing has also added fuel to the fire (and given us one spectacular guilty pleasure of a movie, 2012). While I’d be the first to roll my eyes at crazy Bible-thumpers ranting about the end of days, recent events have given me pause for thought. Cases in point:

1. Bikini Bottom Groom & Go. Available right next to baby’s first pair of heels.

(more…)


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Johnny are you queer?

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A co-worker sent me an article from a website called Christwire.org (“Conservative Values for an Unsaved World”).  “Is My Husband GAY?” is aimed at good Christian women who are experiencing problems in their marriages because their husbands may be – oh dear Lord – GAY. It’s a list of “commonly accepted characteristics” of men “struggling” with homosexuality. The author warns his readers: “Don’t tell yourself that you’re simply being paranoid without taking a closer look!” ‘Cos honey, you might be married to a GAY!

Not gay - he's in a band!

Reading this drivel reminds me of simpler times, when it was easy to tell if a man was gay. If he wore makeup, and wasn’t in a band, he was gay. If he walked with a limp wrist and talked with a lisp, he was gay. If he was walking with them gay boys, yeah, he was probably gay. Gay men were also sex-crazed beasts, ready to pounce on a straight man, cute or ugly. Because that is what Hollywood and mass media told us about gay men. (See: Three’s Company, Cruising.)

We’ve come a pretty long way since then. We’re far from perfect (see: Proposition 8), but  current representations of male sexuality in film and television are more realistic and less constrained to rigid stereotypes. In society, sexuality and gender roles have become more fluid over the past 50 years; if metrosexuality has given us anything, it’s high-end grooming products for men, male pedicures and bromances. (Not that there’s nothing wrong with it.)

Is he gay or just a straight man who’s really into shoes? Does it matter? Well, to some idiotspeople, it does. This is where the fine folks at Christwire.org come in. Their mission is to “combat the evil liberals of this world” (that would presumably be you and me) and “to ensure that a bit of freedom and righteousness once again permeates every country, and let those who don’t abide by our teachings know the eternal pit of hellfire shall be awaiting [italics mine].” Christianity: Spreading hatred and fear since 300 A.D.!

Below are the surefire ways of knowing if a man is gay, according to Christwire.org. (I could have linked to the article, but I don’t want to contribute to an increase in their web traffic.) They obviously stopped watching film and television sometime in the late 80s – their stereotypical views of gay men are so 1985. If the divorce rates among Christians skyrockets any time soon, you’ll know why. God help any married straight man who loves the The Golden Girls, sarcasm and big cities. (Oddly enough, if you’re into Judy or Barbra, you’re safe.)

See you in the eternal pit of hellfire!

(more…)


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Catholic girls start much too late

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I have a confession to make: I am a former Catholic schoolgirl.

I’ve since been saved from the church and have been blaspheming ever since. When I heard the news that The Vatican gave Avatar a poor review and criticized the film for “flirting with modern doctrines that promote the worship of nature as a substitute for religion,” my immediate thought was, “Wow, someone’s getting defensive.”

I started thinking about why worshipping nature makes for a better religion than Catholicism. Here is what I came up with:

  • Nature provides us with oxygen, sustenance and life. Catholicism gives us guilt, shame and men in smocks.
  • Nature will never molest an altar boy.
  • You can run naked and free through a field of grass. Try doing that in a cathedral.
  • The smell of a forest after a rainfall is exhilarating. The smell of burning incense in a church is cloying.
  • Nature doesn’t care what god(s) you pray to, just don’t pollute.
  • Nature knows no gender. Catholicism hates women.
  • Sex is natural. Catholicism hates sex. (Unless it’s used for procreation. But that’s it.)
  • Nature is full of wonderful surprises, but it has never given us a talking snake.
  • Nature doesn’t care if you’re gay. In fact, it has everything to do with it.
  • Everybody is “going green”. Nobody is “going Catholic”.

This pretty much encapsulates why I left the church many years ago. I’m not the tree-hugging type, but I do respect the environment much more than I respect the Pope. I’ll probably be told I’ll be going to hell for this, but as Mark Twain once said, “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”

Amen to that.


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