Archive of ‘Thinking’ category

The Craptacular: Guantanamo Edition


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!”


Radio Song


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?


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


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.



Johnny are you queer?


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!



Catholic girls start much too late


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.


1 2 3