Tuesday, 30 March 2021
Written by Margaret Dickson
Last week brought complicated, and in some ways horrifying news. First there was the Boulder shooting that left 10 people dead and yet another American community in shocked mourning. The most concerning aspect of such shootings is that they have become our new and accepted normal. Unless they happen in our own community or to people we know, perhaps even love, they garner brief national attention. Most Americans then move on until the
Many people, this writer included, believed that the 2012 murders of 6 and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School would motivate us to look at why we allow so few restrictions on gun ownership, even allowing private ownership of military style automatic weapons.
Instead, we seemingly decided even gunning down children was something we could live with in order to keep our firearms. It also remains true that while mass shootings get our attention for at least a brief period, far more of us die from shootings under other, less spectacular circumstances.
Americans who yearn for less carnage and are willing to accept more restrictions, including this writer, are coming to understand that nothing is going to happen until there is a mass public outcry as has happened with the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements. Perhaps this graphic from The New York Times can help us see how extreme an outlier our nation is when it comes to gun violence.
Pay attention, and be very afraid.
In addition to death by firearms, our democracy continues to be under threat. In the wake of the 2020 elections, state legislatures all across the country are debating and passing laws restricting Americans’ right to vote. Georgia’s governor signed into law last week perhaps the most regressive voting provisions since the Jim Crow era, already being dubbed “Jim Crow 2.0.” The jaw-dropping measure severely limits absentee voting and actually criminalizes giving people in line to vote either water or food.
If it were only Georgia, that would be one thing, but 40-some-odd states either restrict voting or are overwhelmingly gerrymandered or both. Several highly restrictive voting measures in North Carolina have been struck down in court, but ours remains one of if not the most gerrymandered state in the nation.
The U.S. House has just passed the For the People Act making registering and voting more accessible, but the bill faces fierce Senate opposition.
The question facing all Americans of both parties is “do we want a democratic country enough to fight for the rights of all Americans, not just those traditionally in power?” Germany and Italy lost their democracies in the first part of the 20th century as did several South American nations in the latter part of the century. There is no reason whatsoever to believe “American exceptionalism” immunizes us from the grasp of an authoritarian government.
Finally, and on a more positive note, it feels like the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Vaccinations are ahead of schedule in North Carolina, and Governor Cooper continues to loosen COVID restrictions. Already, there have been some excesses. A nightclub area in Raleigh was overrun by unmasked revelers, with one quoted in the News and Observer saying, “We’re like puppies out of the pound.”
Others are reacting more slowly, as if they cannot quite remember how to be out and about with other people. Either way, we should understand how easily a resurgence could occur and that masks and distancing are still in force, vaccinations notwithstanding.
That said, it does feel good to be even a little less confined.
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Written by Jim Jones
I cannot believe that I am writing this article. It seems like America is trying its best to neuter nature on sexually inanimate objects. Dr. Seuss gets schooled on what is hurtful and wrong. Coke tries to change skin color through instruction while the government is doing its part to reduce the world’s population, all in the last few weeks.
Hasbro decided they will make the beloved Mr. Potato Head gender-neutral when it announced that it would be dropping “Mr.” and “Mrs.” from the brand as part of a gender-inclusive push.
Mr. Potato Head was invented and developed by George Lerner in 1949 and first manufactured and distributed by Hasbro in 1952. By 1953, it became clear that Mr. Potato Head needed a family. Mrs. Potato Head hit the market, and they had two children, Yam and Spud. Even their kids who had friends called Kate the Carrot, Pete the Pepper, Oscar the Orange, and Cookie Cucumber, soon joined the family. The Head’s worked hard, and their makers blessed them with such luxury as a car, boat and a kitchen.
The last time we really saw the Potato Heads was in the “Toy Story” movies. Throughout the history of the toy, no one told Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head that they did not have genitalia. For most kids, it was hard enough to keep up with their ears, eyes and assorted hats, never mind their private parts. However, the big brains at Hasbro are not leaving the idea of kids being able to mix parts up; they put the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head right on the front pages by announcing the name changes to “Potato Heads.”
“Culture has evolved. Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences,” Kimberly Boyd, Hasbro’s senior vice president of global brands, told Fast Company. “The way the brand currently exists — with the ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ — is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”
Hours later, after an uproar on social media, Hasbro tweeted, “Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere!” Hasbro said that it was the toy brand that was being changed and would release a “family kit” that will allow children to create all types of families.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to stop publishing six books, including “And to Think That I saw it Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” McElligot’s Pool,” On Beyond Zebra!,” Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”
The Enterprise told the Associated Press that it stopped the books’ publication because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
In Coca-Cola’s diversity training, a slide presentation told employees “to be less white is to: be less oppressive, be less arrogant, be less certain, be less defensive, be less ignorant, be more humble, listen, believe, break with apathy, break with white solidarity.” I do not have the answer to corporate racial issues, but this sounds very racist.
Some stories are better seen than reading. It is worth the time to watch the full six-minute exchange on YouTube. During the confirmation hearings of President Biden’s choice for Assistant Secretary for Health, Senator and Doctor, Rand Paul (R-Ky.), asked Dr. Rachel Levine if she supported youth transgender reassignment and was criticized because he asked, “genital mutilation is considered particularly egregious because ... it is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.” He went on to ask if she supports permitting the government to override a parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and “amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia.” Dr. Levin responded with this is “a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed.” She promised that if confirmed, she would come to his office for a discussion on standards of care for transgender minors.
Paul went on to say that Dr. Levin supported the acceleration of minors and to allow decisions on such life-changing procedures. For the record, many parents will not allow a child to buy a cell phone more or less change their sex.
President Biden signed an executive order reversing the Mexico City policy, permitting U.S. aid money to fund groups that provide or promote abortion around the globe. This policy was first put in place by President Reagan in order to ensure that taxpayers were not required to indirectly fund abortions in other countries. This policy was expanded under the Trump administration to deny assistance to foreign nongovernmental organizations that fund other groups that support abortion services. President Biden signed executive actions aimed at expanding access to Obamacare during the coronavirus pandemic and rolling back anti-abortion policies that had been expanded by former President
“I’m not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law,” Biden said before signing the orders. “This is going back to what the situation was prior to the president’s executive orders.”