bad blogging

Bristol Palin/Duck Dynasty; Defending Gay Teacher in Catholic High School

Bristol Palin/Duck Dynasty

Update: spelling correction with the word duck…it really wasn’t intentional. The u and i are side by side and I type fast. So are the f and d. 

Bristol Palin, reality TV personality and daughter of Tea Party radical, Sarah Palin, has a blog on what appears to be a far right web site where she blogs for commercial reasons and hocks her readership with ads that range from those Chicken Soup books to her book. (It’s really a messy blog, as blogs go, and not one that will win any awards.) I don’t know where the book ad link leads because I’d rather not support her. If you click those ads the blogger sometimes gets some kind of compensation, though most people don’t know this, and I didn’t see it disclosed anywhere on the blog. In any event, Bristol Palin wrote a short blog post supporting another reality TV personality, Phil Robertson, from the reality show Duck Dynasty. In Palin’s post she makes claims about free speech and generalities about the LGBT community and I thought I would comment on a few of them briefly.

For those who might not have heard, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty made a few gay hate comments recently and since then videos of previous anti-gay statements have surfaced. You can read more here. Robertson didn’t just come out against gays, at least not in a logical, civil way. He compared gay sex, among other things, to bestiality. If you are an LGBT person or you’re familiar with LGBT people his comments aren’t just offensive. They don’t make sense.

First, Bristol Palin thinks all LGBT people think that everyone should support gays. This is what I mean by generalities, and making assumptions. She thinks we expect every “flippen” person (yes, flippen) to agree with our lifestyle. She also makes the assumption that ALL LGBT people have no respect for what other people believe. Ultimately, she knows very little about the LGBT community and how diverse it is. I’m with my partner twenty-one years and our lifestyle isn’t much different from any other straight couple we know.  In fact, most would think we’re a little dull. We support equal rights and same sex marriage for obvious reasons, and I blog often and write often about them, but we’re far from being activists of any kind. And we don’t expect everyone to agree with us.

Yes, there are gay activists who are just as radical (and amusing) in the opposite direction as Bristol Palin’s mother, Sarah Palin. And those gay radicals don’t always have respect for the opinions of others. I know a few myself. Tony and I have had friendships suffer because of this. But I respect them, too. We’re just not like them, and that’s the way it works with the entire LGBT community. Although we’re all fighting for equal rights, the same equal rights Bristol Palin is allowed to have without even realizing her privileged circumstances, the diversity within the LGBT community is often polarized and LGBT people don’t always agree on everything…just like straight people don’t always agree. I think that’s called normal.

But I don’t want to digress. In another part of Bristol Palin’s blog post she mentions God and the bible, as if she has a claim to religion and faith LGBT people don’t have. But here’s where Palin shows again how little she knows about the LGBT community at large. Religion, spirituality, Christianity, and all other forms of faith are not exclusive to Bristol Palin, straight people only, and the radical Christian right wing of America. I get private e-mails all the time from gay men who are still in the closet telling me how hard it often is for them to get through a church service these days because of the gay hate they hear in church. These are not radical gay activists. These gay men are quiet, humble people without an agenda and no one even knows they are gay. I also know gay priests and ministers who could go verse for verse and line for line with Bristol Palin on the bible.

But I think this line in Palin’s blog post is the most interesting.

I hate how the LGBT community says it’s all about “love” and “equality.”

She “hates.” That’s an important word. That’s also a direct quote from the post and I’m not making it up. Unlike Palin’s blog, mine is non-profit and I have no viable reason to sensationalize. My only goal here is to disabuse a few myths people may or may not have about the LGBT community. Palin could have said she didn’t understand, especially when making reference to the LGBT community as a group of haters. But she used the word “hate” instead. What’s that about?

Toward the end of Palin’s post, she makes reference to an article written by a “homosexual” at Time Magazine. I’m not a huge fan of Time Magazine because of their politics and I haven’t read that article so I can’t comment. But in the end Palin claims she doesn’t agree with everything this “homosexual” writes but she thinks it’s time to stand for free speech. This free speech issue has been going around the Interwebs ever since Phil Robertson made the offensive gay slurs and once again, Palin doesn’t seem to get the basic concept of free speech. In case I forgot to mention it, Bristol Palin is an avowed “heteronormative.” If she’s going to label people as “homosexual” I think she deserves a label, too.

In a simple search, I found this article that seems to sum up free speech about as well written as I’ve ever seen it done. It’s actually titled, The Idiot’s Guide to Free Speech. And I purposely decided to link to this article because it was written before Phil Robertson made the offensive gay slurs and the Palin family started ranting about free speech. When the article was written there was no hidden agenda.

Free speech, according to the article, means this:

As an American, you have the right to say most anything you want to say without being penalized by the government

It continues in more detail. But it also states free speech does NOT mean you can do or say anything without reactions. You are not exempt from “Criticism, Shame, The Right to Anonymity, Mockery, and, again, Consequences.” In other words, you can say what you want and the government can’t come after you (in most cases, not always), but you may face a firestorm afterward. Duck Dynasty star, Phil Robertson, made some of the most hateful comments I’ve ever read about LGBT people and there were consequences. In his case he was suspended from his TV show and most normal people will now dismiss him completely. No one is exempt from this, especially not Bristol Palin or her mother. I’m not exempt from it either, which is why I always choose my words with care.

But the original point of this post wasn’t about free speech. It’s about Bristol Palin making assumptions and generalities about the LGBT community and not really knowing a thing about the community. There are gay Christians, gay Republicans, gay Democrats, gay Jews, and so on. And it’s that kind of diversity in the LGBT community that is always underestimated the most. Phil Robertson didn’t just offend gay activists and left wing political pundits with his offensive free speech, he offended the invisible gay brother/sister who hasn’t come out yet, he offended the gay minister who is terrified to come out, he offended the gay neighbor, friend, boss, employee, and cousin who lives a simple discreet life and minds his/her own business. He also offended the straight people who are close to gay people. And that’s why this “flippen” issue is far more involved than just making general assumptions with the underlying intention of selling a book or some other product, Ms. Palin.  

You can read Bristol Palin’s entire commentary post here. Just don’t click the links on the sidebar.

Defending Gay Teacher in Catholic High School

In a post that I think is directly related to how uninformed heteronormative Bristol Palin really is about gay people, I posted last week about a Catholic high school teacher in a Philadelphia suburb not far from where I live in New Hope who was fired from his teaching job because he filed for a marriage license in New Jersey. Something similar happened in Washington state and now students are offering their support.

Students at a US high school in the state of Washington staged a sit-in after finding out a gay teacher had been fired for marrying his partner. Vice principal and swim coach Mark Zmuda worked for Eastside Catholic High School for approximately a year and a half.

You can read more here. It’s an interesting article, and one that shows how things are changing in more positive ways than the negativity we’ve seen in the past. The Catholic school has every right to fire the teacher, and the students have every right to react to the decision. I wonder if Bristol Palin would classify these students as haters.  

If you’re a Bristol Palin supporter and you want to leave a comment, please don’t bother. You can exercise your right to free speech on your own web site, not mine. This is my world.








Should I Change My Blog Title to "Raucous Manx?"

I’ve been thinking about changing my blog title to “Raucous Manx.” That’s right, you heard it here first: “Raucous Manx.” A friend of mine on social media recently commented that there’s a great deal of vitriol on the Internet these days, but no one really does it well…not like Truman Capote would have done it if he were still alive today. (I’m also working without spellcheck today, thanks to google blogger, and I’m seriously thinking of moving this blog to wordpress sooner than I thought I would.)

And that one comment resonated with me. The reason I’m considering a name change for the blog is because I’m thinking of starting a new feature, a regular column where I review blogs and web sites, not books. And I need something cute and catchy…with that homespun flavor, if you will, that says I’m a tough guy with a big mouth, I am. I’m a killer snark, and don’t you forget it. You know, something that will make me stand out as a defender of all that is good and evil in the world of blogging to make me look good all the time at the expense of others. I’m sure you’ve seen what I’m talking about more than once.

For those who don’t know, I used to be a staff member of bestgayblogs.com and I wrote reviews and did interviews with all kinds of gay bloggers. At the time the site was owned by a nice gay couple from NY and they truly had a passion for personal blogging. When they sold the blog to a larger company, I moved on because I didn’t want to work with anyone else. If you go to bestgayblogs.com now you’ll find a few of my older posts, but for some reason most have disappeared.

I learned a lot about blogging and bloggers while I was reviewing/interviewing for BGB. Most of the reviews I wrote were positive, because I didn’t think it was my job to judge an amateur blogger’s personal content. But not all the reviews were positive. Sometimes I had to post the occassional negative review because something bothered me that I couldn’t ignore. It was usually something involving ethics or scamming…something the blogger was doing for monetary gain. Thankfully, that didn’t happen often.

A lot of those original bloggers I wrote about are now gone. One thing I learned about blogging is that it’s not forever in most cases. Bloggers get tired and they move on with their lives.

A great deal has changed in the world of blogging since 2004 when I started working with BGB as a blog reviewer. And that’s the reason I’m thinking about starting my own feature here on this blog as a blog reviewer. If I do this I’m going to do it differently than I did it before. I think the world of blogging has changed drastically since 2004 in some cases and I’m not going to be as nice as I used to be. I’ll be fair, but that doesn’t always mean nice.

Back in the day, when television industry first started out, sitcoms were shot live, with an audience, and there were tons of mistakes. Television commercials were amateur and corny compared to the high tech commercials of today. Who could ever forget the episode of “I Love Lucy,” where Lucy and Ethel go on TV to hock “Aunt Martha’s Old Fashioned Salad Dressing?” It’s classic early TV, it’s about as amateur as TV got back then, and it’s absolutely wonderful.

And I’ve always looked at the Internet the same way, including blogging. In the beginning a good deal of what happened on the Internet mimicked what happened in the television industry’s early days. Only at the time, just like in the 1950’s, we on the Internet didn’t realize it was all so amateur. And that was just as wonderful as the TV commercial for “Aunt Martha’s Old Fashioned Salad Dressing.”

However, the Internet is changing and blogging has evolved since the early days. And I think it’s time that so-called serious…ambitious…bloggers were held accountable for what they do and what they post. In other words, if a blogger is trying to pass as a serious, informed source of information, it’s time to step up his or her game. I’m not talking about personal blogs here. People who maintain a personal blog without showing aggressive intentions for monetary gain or blogging “fame” should just keep doing what they’ve always done. I’m not talking about authors who blog and promote their books. I’m not talking about my blog because I have no intention of blogging for monetary gain ever. What I’m talking about deals with bloggers who show ambitious intentions of being journalists, without a background in journalism. Because those who do show aggressive behavior, and who do seem to be trying to attract an audience for monetary or personal gain in the sense of web presence need to be held accountable for what they publish on a blog. The days of “Aunt Martha’s Old Fashioned Salad Dressing” are coming to an end.

Look at it this way, if you’re writing a book review blog and that blog is filled with ads and promos, you’d better know how to spell and you’re blog better be damn near perfect. Or, if you’re attacking other people on your blog and you’re doing it with the intention of gaining a readership in a way that I think runs the thin line of sensationalism, you’d better not be posting corn recipes from your childhood between attacks, because that looks stupid and amateur and you’re not going to be taken seriously. I also think that if you want to be a serious blogger it’s time to cut the crap with the fake identities and stupid names and fake photos. I want to see real names and identities that are willing to stand behind the words they publish on a blog. And I want to see a photo so I can place the words with a face. Barbara Walters didn’t get to where she is today by doing the news with a name like “Tenacious Baby,” and a fake photo that shows nothing more than a wide brimmed straw hat.

Of course I’m still undecided about all this. And I doubt I’ll retitle this blog to “Raucous Manx.” If I did change the name to “Raucous Manx,” it would be exactly what I’m trying to show is wrong with certain blogs. In other words, the days of cute homespun snark are over and it’s time for the serious bloggers who want to be real players to drop the painfully cheesy fake names like “Raucous Manx” if they want to be taken seriously. And this time around, when and if I do decide to review a blog/blogger, I’m still going to be as objective as I can be. But I won’t hold back with the bad reviews anymore. And trust me, if you think you’ve seen bad reviews before what I’m going to write will make those bad reviews look like a romp through Disney World.

And I’m in an interesting position as far as blogging goes. I’m not using a fake identity, I don’t sockpuppet, and I have nothing to hide. Therefore, I have nothing to fear. Which is also why you’ll see me reviewing more books and authors I don’t like in the near future.