Category: free speech

Shemar Moore Is Straight!! Christian Student Expelled; "There Are No Gay Mormons"

Shemar Moore Is Straight!!

In case you didn’t hear, or you were somehow led to believe something different, Criminal Minds actor, Shemar Moore, is a straight dude. He’s a straight bro, man. 

He. Loves. Women.

This is what good old Shemar put on Instagram…with the expected, proverbial shirtless selfie we see them all post on social media….because he’s not gay and he wants all the females to know it. 

Awwwwwww sh*t…. Let the controversy begin!!! I love him.. I hate him.. He’s straight.. He’s gay… He’s sweet.. He’s arrogant… Well, I would just like to say I LOVE women and life and people!!! I do not discriminate or allow people to feel small…. PERIOD!!! Say what you want… I am SHEMAR FRANKLIN MOORE… PERIOD!!! Heeeeeeeeey BABY GIRLS n Fans!!! Happy Saturday!!! Keep it SILLY n SEXY!!! Kisses n Thangs!!! ???????

You can read more here about how Shemar Moore is NOT, I repeat, is NOT gay.

In full disclosure, I don’t even know who he is and I couldn’t care less. 

Christian Student Expelled

This happened in the UK, so I really don’t know how free speech is handled over there. And I hate to comment on anything I’m not sure about.

A 38-year-old Christian postgraduate student in the U.K. has been expelled after he made a Facebook post supporting Kim Davis and protesting same-sex marriage.

Felix Ngole is a former Cameroon resident who received asylum from the U.K., received two degrees, and became a teacher. In the post, he quoted a bible verse from Leviticus in support of his antigay beliefs as a part of a discussion thread.

After another Sheffield University student complained about his post, he was called to a disciplinary hearing. As The Telegraph reports, this is where things get…complicated

You can read the rest here. This time I think I agree with Queerty. This is what they said…

We’re (duh) all about equal rights for the LGBT community, but there’s something icky about derailing someone’s career based on a Facebook post. It’s a little too 1984 for our tastes.

The comments are…interesting.

This reminds me of a quote I once read about free speech. I’m paraphrasing this one; it’s not verbatim: “the government can’t arrest you for stating your opinion, but the rest of us don’t have to listen to your bullshit, and we can show you the door.”

“There Are No Gay Mormons”

At least not according to this dude…

That’s the line of of thinking employed by David A. Bednar, a high-ranking Mormon official, who says “there are no homosexual members of the church. We are not defined by sexual attraction. We are not defined by sexual behavior. We are sons and daughters of God, and all of us have different challenges of the flesh.”

You can read it all here, with comments, where you will either gasp or guffaw. Or both.

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Making Gay "Whoopie"; Looking Cancellation Painful; Russian Gay Propaganda Laws

Making Gay “Whoopie”

At first I thought this might be about Whoopi Goldberg. I honestly didn’t know WTF “whoopie” was.  I’m not the only one either. I tweeted something about it and a few other people didn’t know either.

Then I thought maybe it’s the Amish cookie.

As it turns out it has nothing to do with either of those. But it’s Monday, it’s summer, many of us are working hard, and it’s good stupid clickbait from none other than Queerty.com that will make you smile.

It’s another one of those meme collections that Queerty is becoming known for. And, “Whoopie” means hooking up…having sex. Here’s what one says:

In college I had sex with a teammate on the field in the middle of the night. We stuck the condom over a drinking fountain after. Sorry to whoever found that. 

And there you go. You’re welcome.

The strangest place I ever made “whoopie” was in an empty school bus in the parking lot of a gay bar in New Jersey.

More fun and games here. 

Looking Cancellation Painful 

It seems that when HBO’s “Looking” was canceled it was painful to the gay president of HBO. It was painful for a lot of us. I didn’t think Looking was perfect at first, however, I always thought the one most important thing about it was that it represented a big segment of the gay community that’s never really had a voice. It was honest and for once the gay guy was not turned into the clown and court jester.

I thought the show, creatively, was really doing something that I hadn’t seen on any other show, particularly dealing with gay lives. As a gay man, in particular, I was very proud that there was a show that felt like it was dealing very honestly and openly with gay men and their lives, without putting them into a comedic mode.”

You can read more here. 

There are about 40 comments that I didn’t bother to read. Looking is over now and I don’t care what the people who didn’t like it have to say. I’m starting to think that the ultimate problem with all gay content in the future is that now with gay marriage legal everywhere, and that one common goal to fight for gone, gay men are so diverse it’s not going to be possible to put together any content that everyone loves. And that’s not such a bad thing after all.

Russian Gay Propaganda Laws

This falls under the category of I told you so for me. Whenever I think of the gay people from the US who went to the Russian Olympics most recently I still cringe a little at their lack of support and their need to get attention. It’s not something I could have done.

And here’s another reason why. Thanks to the gay propaganda laws in Russia a young gay man was fined for having an LGBT gay youth web site.

Elena Klimova, founder of Deti-404 (Children-404) – an online support group for LGBT teenagers in Russia – was fined 50,000 roubles (US$850) after a court in Nizhny Tagil ruled that the site was guilty of distributing ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,’ the Guardian reported.

The name is a reference to the internet error page ‘404 – Page Not Found’.
Klimova, who is journalist, became notable in Russia after publishing a series of articles about a minor’s homosexuality.

You can read the rest here. He’s a bright, courageous young man.  And I’m going to come back to this in the future next time I hear about Robbie Roberts going to Russia for some other sport. He’s already started making excuses ahead of time. 

 
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Brits, Porn and Free Speech; Naked Gay Lithuanian Film Actor; Andy Cohen on Sex with Women

Brits, Porn and Free Speech

I know this sounds unimportant right now to many, but I actually do find these things interesting to a certain degree. Porn is a huge draw and in some cases a money-maker. Many people watch it for many different reasons, and I don’t think it’s fair to judge them. This piece talks about which porn people in the UK would miss the most…for this reason:

The UK government have banned UK porn producers from producing certain types of online pornographic material, specifically anything that depicts ‘the infliction of pain’ and ‘verbal and physical abuse.’

I’m working on the second novel in the Fangsters series right now, and I get into certain aspects of “verbal” and “rough sex” in the book because the main characters are vampires. That alone should be reason enough not to have to explain anything. They’re vampires; everything is exaggerated because they aren’t human…even the sex. But I’ve found myself on the defensive at certain times wondering if readers would understand what the characters were talking about. It didn’t happen in the first book in the series. There were a few, in the minority, who thought it was BDSM. So this time rather than self-censor I decided to approach the sex scenes in a different way. I probably did more telling than showing this time, but I think it was important. 

In any event, my book isn’t the issue here. My biggest question about this entire topic is more free speech oriented. And who gets to decide what is physical and verbal abuse? In other words, if two gay vampires are having sex and one calls the other a “fag”…as a sexual turn-on, within the context of the sex scene…is that verbal abuse and should that be censored…even if this is a common phrase with some gay men during sex? If I have to explain this any further it’s not worth it. Most of you get what I mean. And it has nothing to do with reality or homophobia on the surface. What this means subconsciously is another story and I’m not a psychologist.

The Independent says that practices that producers are now prohibited from depicting are listed as:

Spanking; Caning; Aggressive whipping; Penetration by any object ‘associated with violence’; Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual); Urolagnia (known as ‘water sports’); Role-playing as non-adults; Physical restraint; Humiliation; Female ejaculation; Strangulation; Facesitting; Fisting

And this is how all this relates to free speech. Yes. Porn is free speech.

Myles Jackman, an obscenity lawyer, said that his concern about the new regulations were about the wider issue of policing the internet. 

‘Pornography is the canary in the coalmine of free speech: it is the first freedom to die. If this assault on liberty is allowed to go unchallenged, other freedoms will fall as a consequence. 

 ‘This declaration of State censorship will affect millions of consenting adults who choose to view British pornography.’

I think it’s dangerous. And even if you aren’t into any of the things banned above, so should you. What if any government decided to ban the right to practice a certain religion? And it could happen. In fact, there have been governments who tried to kill of entire religious communities.Think Hitler.

You can read the rest here. This might be the beginning of a whole new trend…policing the Internet like TV and films have been censored for decades. Facebook does it all the time, without questions asked, for little things like gay men kissing. Do we want to see this happen?

Naked Gay Film Actor

An actor in Lithuania will go naked in the name of homophobia to save a gay Lithuanian film, You Can’t Escape Lithuania. I’m still not sure if someone tried to stop the film, but it sounds as if they need the funding because no one was willing to make things easier on them.

Denisas Kolomyckis will star in the film and by getting naked is following in the footsteps of his movie’s director. 24-year-old Romas Zabarauskas has already promised to strip off if the cash is raised to make the feature film via a crowd funding campaign. 

Just 33 hours remain to raise the $5,000 (€4,020) needed to reach their $20,000 target on Kickstarter. If they don’t reach their goal by 9pm GMT on Wednesday (3 December) they will get nothing. 

Kolomyckis, 22, said: ‘If my naked butt can help the film to reach its goal, I’m ready to do it.

According to his facebook page they reached the goal and I guess he’ll go naked. There’s a clip here. But before you judge him for doing this please keep in mind that Kim Kardashian showed her big naked ass in a lame attempt to “break the Internet.” The Internet broke her.

You can read more here.  

Andy Cohen on Sex with Women

Bravo TV host, Andy Cohen, has a new book out. And he’s being asked all the worst questions imaginable…like has he ever had sex with a woman? I wish someone just once would ask these interviewers if they ever had sex with a horse.

‘Never. Never full, full-monty. I’m a gold-star gay,’ Cohen said this week during an interview with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules star Lisa Vanderpump. 

When Vanderpump asked ‘How do you know you don’t like it?’ Cohen stated the obvious: ‘Well, because I like dudes so much more.’

That first question I can understand. I’m a little curious about that too sometimes. But the second one, how do you know you don’t like it, really gets under my last gay nerve. You don’t have to jump out of a plane to know you don’t like skydiving. And if you do you’re not playing with a full deck.

The rest is here. 

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Free Speech, First Amendment, Responsibility and Consequences

Free Speech, First Amendment, Responsibility and Consequences

I’ve read many articles about free speech this week, but most really didn’t tell me anything about free speech. Everything I read just demanded the right to free speech and ranted on about how much they believed in free speech. As a blogger it’s not something to which I haven’t paid attention. As a writer I’ve always understood the significance of words, especially with respect to the Internet. Nothing ever disappears on the Internet. It’s there forever, which makes the concept of free speech even more complicated.

I’ve learned a little, but still not as much as I need to know. In any event, here are a few links I found that helped me understand how free speech is viewed in various ways.

This particular piece was published on a web site called First Amendment Center. It’s about a local Bucks County blogger who worked as a school teacher in the district where Tony and I pay taxes…heavily. I remember this on the local news and at the time I didn’t pay much attention to it. Although the teacher didn’t mention names, she slammed her students indirectly on the blog, exercising her free speech as a blogger. The results were disastrous for her.

Munroe, 31, of Warminster, who had been an English teacher at Central Bucks East High School since 2006, had filed suit June 22 in federal court alleging that her freedom of speech had been violated. Her attorney, Steve Rovner, said the district had notified his client of its intention to fire her.

School board president Paul Faulkner read a statement saying the decision had nothing to do with freedom of speech but stemmed from the board’s “obligation to have satisfactory teachers in its classrooms.”

This past July, a federal judge ruled that the school district did NOT violate the school teacher’s free speech.

In a Friday judgment that blocked the teacher’s lawsuit from going to trial, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe wrote that the blog failed a long-standing judicial test that balances a teacher’s free speech rights against the interests of a school district to operate efficiently.

This next piece is about a blogger being sued for exercising his right to free speech. A colleague of the late Andrew Breitbart wrote a blog post that didn’t leave a government worker, Shirley Sherrod, all too thrilled. So she sued the blogger for defamation and emotional distress.

Backed by large news organizations including the The Washington Post Co., the New York Times and Dow Jones & Co., which have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, O’Connor’s attorneys argued to have the case dismissed under a D.C. statute that aims to prevent the silencing of critics through lawsuits. A federal district judge rejected their motion to dismiss, citing timing and jurisdictional issues, prompting the appeal.

And, this article is more generalized. It talks about how bloggers need to be aware of the fact that people are becoming more litigious and if bloggers aren’t careful they can, indeed, be sued for what they post. In other words, the blogger has a responsibility to know and understand this.

The Internet has allowed tens of millions of Americans to be published writers. But it also has led to a surge in lawsuits from those who say they were hurt, defamed or threatened by what they read, according to groups that track media lawsuits.

“It was probably inevitable, but we have seen a steady growth in litigation over content on the Internet,” said Sandra Baron, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center in New York.

Although bloggers may have a free-speech right to say what they want online, courts have found that they are not protected from being sued for their comments, even if they are posted anonymously.

This article ends on this note:

“The first thing people need to realize, they can be held accountable for what they say online,” Baron said. “Before you speak ill of anyone online, you should think hard before pressing the ‘send’ button.”

There are many links to articles just like those above, and you can spend hours reading through them and the one thing you’ll find in common with all of them is that bloggers do have free speech, as it stands. No one is taking this away from them. However, with the free speech comes responsibility and consequences. And this article on a web site about parenting I’d never seen before sums this up in a simple, accurate way far better than anything else I’ve read so far. It also gets into the Duck Dynasty homophobia issue I’ve posted about here more than once, which I hadn’t planned on finding during these searches.

Alright, America, check it out: If you’re going to repeatedly refer to “freedom of speech” rights as your sole argument for or against something, you might want to make sure you understand what the First Amendment actually protects.

What’s the First Amendment? Yeah, I thought so. You see. This is the problem. You don’t read the actual documents. You sure didn’t listen in government class, but then you jump up and down squealing from your pedestal of glory how the famed bigot from Duck Dynasty had his “freedom of speech” rights violated. Or enforced.

This line, however, is the most important.

And now you get this: America, the First Amendment is the original source for the “freedom of speech” promise and it says this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (Source).

It does not say: “There shall be no repercussions for saying stupid things.”

It does not say: “One shall not be fired for saying things that piss your employer off or cause him/her harm.”

I don’t think we’ll ever see an end to the discussion on free speech. In some cases I think it comes down to entitlement. That there are those who believe they can criticize freely, but they are above criticism. And in their attempt to exercise free speech they feel no one can touch them. It’s the old wild west theory as it applies to the Internet. But in each case I’ve read that deals with these complicated free speech issues, the one thing that always remains the same is that with free speech always comes consequences you’d better be willing to face.  

Amazon Acquires WHITE; California Killer Commentator Fired: Dr. Robi Ludwig

Amazon Acquires WHITE

I know that sounds a little peculiar. But Amazon really did just acquire the color white…as a background for photos.

Taking a photo against a white background? You may owe Amazon money.
That’s right: the US Patent and Trademark Office just granted Amazon a patent for the totally unheard of process of photographing people against a white backdrop. And we thought copyright trolls couldn’t get more brazen.

You can read more here, where they are trying to petition the US Patent Office.

I think that ship sailed. Amazon owns white backdrops and that’s that.

There’s also more about it here. I actually checked to see if this was a hoax but couldn’t find anything at snopes stating it wasn’t true.

California Killer Commentator Fired at Fox

On Sunday I posted about a commentator, Dr. Robi Ludwig, on the Fox TV show, Justice with Judge Jeanine Pirro, speculating that the California killer, Elliot Rodger, who went on a violent rampage in Santa Barbara last week could have been “trying to fight against his homosexual impulses.”

I thought, WOW, after I read the whole piece and all of her unfounded comments, and then I wrote this:

 A Fox News “analyst,” Dr. Robi Ludwig, allegedly believes the young man who went on a horrific killing spree in California recently might have been struggling with “homosexual issues.” The good Dr. Ludwig is allegedly a psychologist.  I did find this web site where you can read more about her. It only takes a moment at her web site to understand what she’s all about.

Without thinking, I went on to state that I didn’t see anyone calling for her resignation over this ridiculous speculation.

I was wrong about that.

Evidently, according to this article, she was fired from one of her jobs.

She sparked outrage after saying on Fox News that Elliot Rodger, who also killed himself, may have been fighting ‘homosexual impulses.’

Ludwig has been fired as the lifestyle real estate correspondent for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, one of the top real estate firms in the US.

Coldwell Banker wrote in a statement on Facebook: ‘Dr. Robi’s comments on the tragedy in Santa Barbara do not represent the opinions of Coldwell Banker. Therefore at this time we feel it best to part ways with her as our lifestyle real estate correspondent.’

As far as I know, she’s still working at Fox.

There’s more here.

I know this will once again bring up the topic of free speech. The most important point to remember is that Ludwig did, in fact, exercise her right to free speech when she made that speculation. She makes a great deal of money to appear on Fox. And now she has to own her words no matter what the consequences are. Responsibility goes hand in hand with free speech.

She did apologize. She issued a statement on Facebook and spelled the killer’s name wrong twice…#ElliotRoger…with hashtags.

You can read more about that here.  


Brooke Birmingham & Shape Magazine; Gay Writer Labels; Johnny Weir AGAIN

Brooke Birmingham & Shape Magazine

There’s a blogger, brookenotonadiet.com, who has been writing about her incredible weight loss journey online since 2009 and she lost a considerable amount of weight. In the process, she’s inspired thousands. Someone at Shape Magazine discovered her and wanted to share her story with more people who they thought would be interested in her success story. They exchanged a few e-mails, the blogger sent an innocent photo, and Shape Magazine ultimately rejected her because she was wearing a bikini top in the photo and Shape claims they don’t use photos like that. They wanted her to send another photo fully clothed.

I don’t read Shape Magazine…or anything like that because I think they are stupid…but the blogger claims that Shape uses photos of men and women in bikinis all the time. The blogger wrote this:

Again, not happy about it. I was to be a part of their Success Stories feature on the website, where there are women in bikinis. Why all of the sudden was it ‘their policy’?

I did a simple search myself to see what the Shape Magazine web site looks like and I found several photos, right up front, with women wearing something similar to the blogger’s photo…and a few other photos at Shape with women wearing far less. There’s one I saw on the sidebar of a woman in a bikini bottom that looks more like a band aid. In fact, there is even one of that hideous, untalented creature, Bethenny Frankel, the high profile reality TV name from fresh hell, wearing a hot pink bikini on a beach. I can’t post their content here legally, and I’m not trashing my blog with a screen shot of Frankel, but you can check it out with this quick link.

The diet blogger has shared the innocent photo she sent to Shape on her blog, screen shots of her e-mail correspondence with Shape Magazine and you can read Shape’s comments about not posting photos with bikinis, verbatim.

But I think this is the most important part of the blogger’s most recent post discussing all this. She’s been honest and up front:

The whole thing still really frustrates me because I don’t feel like my body was given the same respect as others on their site. Why all of the sudden is it their policy to have fully clothed people? The reporter stated that she wasn’t sure if someone had complained about the previous photos to Shape or not. But in my eyes if someone is complaining about them featuring women in bikinis, then again they shouldn’t have them anywhere on the site.

If anything, the should want my picture on their site. My body is real, not photoshopped or hidden because I feel like I should be ashamed. This is a body after losing 172 pounds, a body that has done amazing things, and looks AMAZING in a freaking bikini.

You can read the blogger’s full post here. And here’s an article about it on Yahoo.

My only comment comes from a blogger’s POV. As a blogger I often post things you wouldn’t normally see in larger magazines or web sites like Shape. Partly because they don’t let you say fuck there and partly because I don’t like censorship of any kind. Magazines like Shape are selling a brand and an image and there’s always a spin and a twist. This kind of old time advertising, branding, and journalism has been going on since the early part of the last century and I think bloggers like brookenotonadiet.com(and me) are sick of it and they are fighting back in their own small ways. I think readers are, too. So as a blogger supporting another blogger I would just like to say thank you to Brooke for standing up for her right to free speech and for standing up for her personal beliefs. She may or may not know it, but this goes way deeper than diet. This is about integrity and censorship.

I think Shape Magazine, and all other publications in the floundering magazine industry, should focus less on repulsive names like Frankel and really pay closer attention to what people are interested in reading about now. I agree with Brooke and I think they would have been doing their readership a service by posting the feature and using Brooke’s original photo.

Gay Labels

I often post about how many gay men tend to remain blank for most of their lives on their sexuality, especially gay men in the public eye. And most especially successful gay male writers. If you are openly gay you are expected to write gay content. If no one knows you can write about anything you want and no one will question you. This piece about playwright, Alan Bennett, is a good example of this. For most of his life and career he didn’t want to be labeled gay.

‘My objection about people knowing more about one’s private life was that I didn’t want to be put in a pigeonhole,’ he said, in a celebration of his career on a his regrets of not being more open about his sexuality earlier.

You can read more here, where Bennett mentions a few of his regrets.

The odd twist here is that gay men like Bennett are the ones we need the most because they help break the stereotypes. I don’t think Bethenny Frankel would dare to treat Bennett like a pet poodle.

Johnny Weir AGAIN

I almost didn’t post about this. I just want him to go away. But because I have been posting about Johnny Weir’s odd marriage/divorce to Victor Voronov I guess I should do a follow up. I even know how to spell Voronov without looking it up anymore, unfortunately.

Anyway, after several public shitstorms that garnered them both a great deal of unwarranted attention, Weir and his husband have decided to reconcile. And Weir tweeted about it. (How else?) Can’t you just picture him sitting there rewriting the tweet over and over again before he enters it.

‘My husband and I have happily reconciled,’ Weir tweeted. ‘Please respect our privacy and integrity at this time.’

Yes, Weir actually used the word integrity. This is coming from a man who thought it was more important to support the Russian Olympics than it was to support equal rights for gays.

You can read more here .   

  

Anne Rice on Bullies-Free Speech; Cover Preview; Log Cabin Gays

Anne Rice on Bullies-Free Speech

It’s no secret Anne Rice has been outspoken about bullies, especially those she considers bully book reviewers on Amazon. According to this article below, she recently signed a petition at Change.org titled, Take a Stand Against Cyber Bullies. The petition seems to have been started by someone named Todd Barselow. So far, there are close to 3,000 signatures at the time of this post.

From what I gather, they are petitioning Amazon and Jeff Bezos to remove anonymity and to require identification with regard to reviews and Amazon forums.

I believe, as do countless others—many who will have signed this petition—that the reason this bullying and harassment is able to take place is because of the allowance of anonymity on Amazon. People have found ways to exploit this flaw in the system and are using it to bully, harass, and generally make life miserable for certain authors on Amazon.

In this article, the bully issues Anne Rice has had to handle are discussed in detail. And why she feels so strongly about this.

“My experience with the gangster bullies in the forum has been very bleak and ugly,” Rice writes on the petition to Amazon. “I post there under my own name. They blatantly violate your guidelines with personal insults and harassing posts. If you would only apply your own guidelines this would greatly help. I feel a lot of these people are obsessive abusers who have found some sort of dark home on Amazon tormenting writers. I urge you to take action.”

I’ve posted on the bully topic several times. This link will lead you to multiple posts I’ve written. With regard to book reviews and bullies I’ve always remained objective as a blogger. But I’ve also personally experienced similar situations with bullies that Rice and many other authors have experienced and I’ve always remained quiet about it. The first time it happened to me was about five or six years ago and it wasn’t on Amazon. It was at a vicious book review web site that used authors as bait to get attention and garner hits in a sensationalized way. Since that time that particular blogger has been kicked out of organizations and exposed as a bully, and as a result I doubt the blogger’s reputation will ever be the same again. She’s trying to rebound. But to most she’ll always be that same bully.

The second time I experienced bullying I contacted the police and they handled it. At that point, I decided it was out of my hands and I would let a professional do the work. It was handled quietly and the bullying stopped. What most people don’t realize today is that most local police stations have a cyber crime division and they are more than willing to help people involved in bully situations. If I ever feel as if I’m being bullied again, I’ll contact the police again. Plain and simple.

However, as much as I despise bullying in any form, from book reviews to those who like to bully on political topics, I didn’t sign the petition Rice seems to be promoting. I once posted that I thought the bully issue could be solved by removing anonymity and requiring identification just as the petition I linked to above reads. At the time, I thought it would work. But I received so many e-mails from my readers on that topic I eventually changed my mind. People who read gay fiction, erotic romance, m/m romance, or anything else that might be considered a *discreet* genre feel more comfortable leaving reviews with pen names or anonymously. Most authors in discreet genres use pen names. It’s hard enough to get reviews as it is, and I don’t want to discourage readers by taking away the right to review with discretion. I have always encouraged anonymous comments here on this blog because I respect that discretion and I don’t want to silence anyone’s right to free speech. I do moderate to keep things civil, but I’ve never had to censor more than a handful of comments I didn’t think were appropriate. In other words, if you disagree with me I’ll post your comment anyway as long as you’re civil about it.

This bully issue is a complicated matter and I don’t think there’s quick fix. I do think that places like Amazon should moderate all reviews with more care, even those reviews that are fake and were paid for by authors to gain higher ratings and ranks. The corruption with book reviews isn’t just limited to bullying, and it’s NOT just limited to Amazon. It covers a much wider territory, and it all needs to be addressed. If I were Jeff Bezos I would be obsessed about it to the point where I used it to my advantage as a business professional, making Amazon a safe place to read or leave reviews either anonymously or with real names. I would look for the sharpest young tech pros I could get fresh out of college and put them to work. And my goal wouldn’t be to censor free speech, but to moderate civil discussion.

So it’s easy for Anne Rice to sign a petition that calls for the removal of anonymity and requires identification, without taking free speech into consideration or how important anonymity is for many readers who aren’t bullies and who prefer to remain discreet. But it’s not that simple for me. As much as I despise anything even remotely connected to bullying, I don’t want to take that right away from my readers.

If you are an author who writes in a discreet genre, I urge you to consider all the options before you sign the petition. You might be silencing the free speech of the very readers who would leave you good, honest reviews, too.

Update: The signatures for this petition just keep increasing in number and I’m starting to see this all over social media. Evidently, this issue is very important to people and I’m now starting to wonder if Amazon will actually address it. In spite of my own misgivings, I’m leaning toward signing it more each day just because so many people feel so passionate about it. And I’ve always believed in doing what’s best for the majority, as a rule.

Cover Preview

This is an unusual cover preview for me because it’s not finalized yet, but I wanted to share because readers tell me they like being involved in the process. I often drive cover artists up the wall with these things, and this is just one example of how I torture those wonderful people to the point of frustration. These are two examples, out of ten others I won’t post now 🙂

When I say I’m having a blast with indie publishing I’m never joking about that. A publisher would never allow me to drive them this crazy.

Log Cabin Gays

For those who may not know this, the Log Cabin organization is a group of all gay Republicans. I don’t know why I find this so fascinating, but I do. I don’t get political here on the blog, but I have stated I’m a registered Democrat who usually votes independently. I find that on a local level I can’t always stick to one party because some local Republicans are often more open-minded about issues I find important. I think if you live in a larger city it’s different. But in small towns like New Hope, PA, there really are about 50 shades of gray.

Log Cabin Republicans executive director Gregory T Angelo made the announcement in a column for the Daily Caller in which he decried CPAC organizers the American Conservative Union’s (ACU) failure to allow gay conservatives to participate openly in the conference’s program of events.

You can read more here. If you’re open-minded to all things political like I try to be, I think you might find this interesting. There’s also a brief history about the Log Cabin Republicans and Abe Lincoln’s alleged gay relationship.