communication, politics, psychology

We should all listen to each other more…

This morning, I read a headline in the Daily Press, the newspaper that serves the Tidewater area of Virginia, the place where I was born and raised. The headline was about Virginia’s gubernatorial race. This year, Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, will step down as governor, and someone else will take his place. The newspaper was reporting on how the Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin, “dodged” a question about vaccination, which drew criticism from Democrats.

I know a lot of people hope to see Glenn Youngkin beat the Democrat candidate, former Governor Terry McAuliffe. This is because a lot of people from Virginia don’t like Ralph Northam, or Democrats in general. A lot of people don’t like Mr. McAuliffe, either. I come to this conclusion based on comments I’ve read online, but also because I am from Virginia and I still know a lot of people there. Plenty of folks think Democrats are just plain evil. On the flip side, plenty of people also think Republicans are evil.

Even though Virginia’s political leanings have recently shifted from red to blue, there are still many Republicans in Virginia, particularly in the area where I grew up. And, just as they might choose a favorite sports team, people in Virginia have a tendency to choose sides in politics. I suppose it makes things simpler for them. On the other hand, it also makes our society more divided. I’ve noticed that people will often write off people solely based on their political preferences. There’s little thinking or discussion involved.

I didn’t read the article in the Daily Press about the governor’s race. Doing so would have required turning on my VPN, since the Daily Press, like so many other U.S. based newspapers, has made itself unavailable to readers based in Europe. We have a pesky data privacy law over here with which a lot of American papers can’t be bothered to comply.

I did, however, read some of the comments on the Daily Press article. Someone lamented about how anti-vaxxers were selfish and rebellious. Below is a screenshot.

Good lord! The comment about banning vaccines and masks comes from someone who lives in Tennessee, for Christ’s sakes!

I had to laugh at the guy who called Biden’s administration a “pos” (piece of shit), and wanted to know if the commenter he was responding to would jump off a bridge if Biden asked him to. Did this guy have the same mindset in January 2021, when Trump called on citizens to storm the Capitol? Are most people really like this? Do they really have no ability to think for themselves? I mean, there are some conservative ideas that I can get behind. And there are some liberal ideas that I like. Why does it have to be “either/or”? Why can’t we work together to make policies that suit the majority of people? Are there any moderates left in the world? Or are they all just keeping quiet?

Lots of people are in legal trouble right now because they listened to Donald Trump and “jumped off his bridge”.

I attempted to tell Bill about the comments I was reading, but he suddenly interrupted me with thoughts of his own. Granted, they were thoughts that were on topic, which was a plus. However, it was pretty clear that he hadn’t really been listening to me. A few seconds after I started speaking, he began formulating a response. In doing so, he missed part of my message.

I was immediately annoyed by the interruption and said so. I love Bill very much, but he has a terrible habit of interrupting me when I’m mid sentence. He also has a tendency of speaking to me when I’m engaged in something else, like reading, watching a video, or playing a game. Consequently, I often have to ask him to repeat himself or “hold that thought” until I’m ready to actively listen to him.

I often feel frustrated, because I can’t finish a thought or I get distracted from something on which I’d been concentrating. I have kind of a short attention span, so when people interrupt me, I tend to forget what I was saying. I also grew up in an environment where people didn’t really care what I thought and happily told me so… and in fact, I was labeled “arrogant” when I did express opinions. So, I’m probably even more sensitive to being interrupted than I might otherwise be.

Bill immediately apologized. He knows he has a tendency to interrupt. It’s a habit that gets reinforced in his job, where people are action oriented. He works with a lot of military folks, and they aren’t big on introspection or “soft skills” like listening instead of speaking. There’s a lot of testosterone and posturing that goes on– guys jockeying for leadership. Bill is probably one of the less alpha guys in his office, but he still has this habit of cutting me off when I speak. He doesn’t mean to be rude when he does it. It’s just something he’s learned to do.

It occurred to me that a lot of information and insight gets lost because people are so busy talking over each other. Successful communication depends as much on receiving messages as sending them. If you’re speaking or formulating a response when someone else is speaking, you’re going to miss some of what they say. And whatever you say in response will probably be poorer for it.

After Bill apologized for interrupting me, I said, “What do you think would happen if you consciously made an effort to listen more?”

Bill thought about it for a moment and said, “I’d probably learn more.” Then he told me that listening more carefully was a concept he’d actually talked about with his Jungian therapist.

Then I said, “I challenge you to make an effort to speak less and listen more today. When you’re at work and someone speaks to you, try to make yourself listen carefully to what they say. Do you think you can do that?”

Bill smiled enthusiastically and said, “I can try.”

That’s one thing I like about Bill. He has a really good attitude about most things. He’s slow to take offense and quick to take correction.

I truly am curious about what would happen if people listened more and spoke less. This is a habit so many of us have– myself included. We’re so busy wanting to be heard ourselves that we don’t let others have their say. And then we get offended when they don’t want to listen to us when we want to speak.

It’s not just a problem in conversations, either. It also happens when we read. Here’s an example.

A few days ago, someone in our local pet group posted a comment about heartworm preventative in Germany and asked a question about where to find heartworm treatment for her new dog, who had recently come to Germany from Romania. German vet clinics aren’t like U.S. vets. A lot of the clinics in Germany are just offices, rather than hospitals, where veterinarians can board sick animals. Heartworm treatment generally requires hospitalization. The vet where she took her dog could only test for the infestation; they could not offer treatment, because they don’t have hospital facilities.

I was the first person to respond to the poster. In my first comment to her, I explained that heartworm preventative isn’t widely prescribed in Germany because heartworms aren’t that prevalent here. I wrote that German vets usually only give prescriptions to people if they’re taking their dog to a warmer country. Vets here don’t prescribe heartworm preventative as a matter of course, the way American vets do. More discussion ensued, and we established that she’d need to find a vet with a hospital.

Another commenter came along and tagged me in a comment, “correcting” me for what I’d written about heartworm preventative medication. She wrote that German vets will prescribe preventative if someone is going to a warmer country.

My response was, “Right. I mentioned that.”

I’m sure my response came off as a bit “curt” and “bitchy”, but it always annoys me when someone doesn’t read carefully and then tries to correct another person. If she’d spent more than a few seconds reading more carefully what I’d actually written, she wouldn’t have felt the need to make the point about warmer countries that she’d mistakenly thought I’d missed. Those few seconds spent more attentively reading/listening, could have spared her the few seconds she’d spent “correcting” me, and the few seconds I spent letting her know that the correction wasn’t necessary. It also would have spared us both some irritation.

Why do people do this? I think it’s mainly because of egotism. We want to look smart, accomplished, and helpful. People want to be heard– but they don’t always want to listen. I think Americans, in particular, don’t want to take the time to listen before they respond. They’re always rushing to prepare for things, even though a minute spent listening could spare them five or ten minutes down the road. Time is money, we’re told, so we rush to say something, do something, take action– but so often, if we’d just cooled our jets and shut our mouths, we could have spared ourselves needless grief, time, and money.

Plenty of other commenters came along after I commented on that thread about heartworm treatment in Germany. Many of the people who commented never bothered to read what had already been written. It seems they all assumed they knew better than everyone else who had responded. I ended up turning off notifications for that post. Hopefully, the lady found a vet to help her dog.

This issue of how we don’t listen well came into my head a couple of days ago, when I stumbled across a televised interview of one of the women who wrote Not Without My Sister. The show was aired in Ireland, and proved that some interviewers are terrible listeners.

I found this interview very frustrating to watch.

Notice how the interviewer often doesn’t really let her guest finish her sentences. Part of this may be because of time constraints. Part of it may be because the interviewer is trained to ask questions. But I wonder how much she can be hearing if she’s so busy forming responses and new questions as her guest is trying to answer. As a viewer, it was annoying to watch this interview, because I couldn’t hear all of what the guest was saying.

The above interview isn’t as bad as some, though. I can’t stand watching shows like The View, because there’s a whole group of women talking over each other. It’s hard to get a clear message rather than just noise. I wonder what the point of the show is, if no one can get a word in edgewise, and no one is actually listening to the person who speaks.

Anyway… I hope Bill will remember what we talked about this morning and give my proposal to talk less and listen more a try. I wonder how much more efficient and productive people could be if they’d just stop and listen for a moment. How much information will they get that is not distorted? How much time will be saved because someone didn’t have to repeat themselves? The possibilities are endless.

We really should all listen to each other more. I include myself in that suggestion. I’m going to give it a try. I hope some of you will be inspired to try it, too.

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celebrities, musings, narcissists, social media

Phylicia Rashad’s head on a platter…

Phylicia Rashad is in the news for supporting Bill Cosby on Twitter. When he was suddenly released from prison a few days ago, she tweeted “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

That tweet led to a lot of backlash. Rashad, who was appointed the dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts in May 2021, is now being pressured to resign from her job. Her response, so far, was to delete the offending tweet, then issue this apology “This week, I tweeted a statement that caused so much hurt in so many people — both broadly and inside the Howard community… I offer my most sincere apology.” As far as I know, she’s still got a job at Howard University. Regarding Rashad’s comments, Howard University has stated that “Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies.”

We’ll see what comes of this.

Many people, obviously upset that Phylicia Rashad would dare to publicly support her old friend, Bill Cosby, feel like her support of Cosby should equate to losing her job. It’s as if all of the great things Phylicia Rashad has done over her long career as an entertainer should be erased, simply because of a tweet supporting the man who was her co-star on a groundbreaking 80s era sitcom, as well as a 90s era show. This is obviously a complicated issue for Rashad, although I am surprised that she didn’t realize people would be up in arms over any public support for Bill Cosby.

Phylicia Rashad six years ago. She supported him then, too. Are we really surprised that she still supports him today?

Phylicia Rashad shared the experience of making The Cosby Show and, later, Cosby, with Bill Cosby. They’re obviously still dear friends. I don’t like the idea of punishing people who exercise their right to speak freely. Phylicia Rashad, to my knowledge, hasn’t sexually assaulted anyone. Moreover, she’s known Bill Cosby for many years. They have a long history together and she’s always supported him, no matter what. I don’t know what’s in Ms. Rashad’s head… and I think her first tweet was very ill advised and considered. I don’t know how a person can be a celebrity in this day and age and not realize that publicly supporting a sex offender is going to lead to being canceled by the public. Still, while I would have expected her to be savvier about voicing unpopular public opinions and backlash, I think her comments about Cosby are disappointing, but not particularly surprising.

On the other hand, Phylicia Rashad is human, and sometimes humans get carried away and do things that are ill-considered. In terms of her career, Rashad shouldn’t have tweeted. But as a friend to Cosby, obviously she felt moved to do so. Whether or not she should be friends with a convicted sex offender should be up to her. As much as some people think Bill Cosby should lose everything, the reality is, he won’t. There will always be people who will support him– family members and friends– and they aren’t going to be swayed by what the Internet thinks. There are few people in the world who are truly alone, especially people like Bill Cosby.

Phylicia’s sister, Debbie Allen, talks about Bill Cosby’s attitude toward pregnant Lisa Bonet.

I kind of get the confusion, though. At one time, Bill Cosby could do no wrong. People my age grew up on his brand of family friendly television. I watched Bill Cosby on TV every week when I was growing up, having been introduced to him on 70s era shows like Fat Albert and his classic comedy film, Bill Cosby: Himself. But it wasn’t just his work on television sitcoms that made him so powerful and influential. Cosby had books, films, albums, and commercials. He had dozens of honorary doctorates and other awards. He made speeches and championed causes. He sermonized about being an involved father. He was called “America’s Dad”, and that persona transcended race. People of all colors and creeds looked up to him as “America’s Dad”. That’s probably why it took so long for him to fall out of favor with the public. Maybe if he hadn’t been “America’s Dad”, he would have been prosecuted when he was much younger and would have done a lot less harm. We probably shouldn’t be so quick to make the charismatic among us into heroes because almost all of us have clay feet.

In those heady days of the 1980s, Cosby seemed charming, intelligent, and funny. I noticed that he incorporated a lot of the routines from his film into plots on The Cosby Show; but they were still humorous, especially when performed by talented actors. The Cosby Show was very well written, family oriented, and high quality entertainment. Phylicia Rashad was a huge part of the reason why that show was so relevant in my youth– from the time I was 12 until I was 20. The Cosby Show opened doors and broke down barriers. It’s heartbreaking to realize that the character, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, is not the same man as Bill Cosby is, even though Cosby’s real life comedy routines inspired the show. So many of us who grew up with him on TV have had a hard time separating Cosby from his kind and wise alter ego, Heathcliff Huxtable. Of course, now that we know more about Cosby as a man, it makes sense that Cliff Huxtable was an OB/GYN.

Eddie Murphy got chastised by Bill Cosby for being too foul mouthed…

I never saw a single episode of Cosby’s next show with Rashad, entitled Cosby, as it aired at a time in my life when I was too busy for network TV. From 1996-2000, I was in the Peace Corps, working nights, or in graduate school. But Cosby lasted four years, and The Cosby Show was on for eight years, so that means Rashad worked with Cosby for twelve years. Incidentally, Bill Cosby also had another 90s era show called The Cosby Mysteries, and a 60s and 70s era show called The Bill Cosby Show… I think the fact that he’s had four series named after him is pretty telling about the massive size of his ego. And while he put a lot of Black actors on the map by giving them jobs, he also destroyed a lot of people– particularly the scores of women who were his victims. Meanwhile, he was hypocritically berating and chastising people like Eddie Murphy for using the f word, or Black people as a whole.

Bill Cosby talking about people crying when their sons are in orange suits… Wow.

I do believe the many women who have accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them. Yes, Cosby got out of prison, but that does not make him innocent of the crimes that put him there. He got out of prison on a technicality. He’s even admitted to drugging women he was pursuing for sex. That is criminal behavior, and it was right for him to be punished. I agree that Cosby didn’t spend enough time behind bars, even though I doubt he will re-offend, given his age and fall from grace. I wish that he had been prosecuted years ago, much like I wish Donald Trump could be held accountable for his disgusting sexual attacks on women. I don’t know what it is about men who are destined to be powerful. So many of them turn out to be incredibly predatory when it comes to sex, money, and political power. And that hunger for sex, money, and power is often married to a charismatic exterior that fools many people. For years, I thought Cosby was one of the good guys. I can see that a lot of people still believe Trump is a good guy, despite so much evidence and actual proof to the contrary.

The first account I read about Cosby’s sexual dalliances was Janice Dickinson’s. I read her book and was surprised when she wrote that Cosby had raped her. I mentioned it on Facebook, and several of my friends discounted her comments, mainly because of her “bitchy” persona. Several years later, all of these other women came forward with their claims. I gained new respect for Janice when I read her book.

That being said, personally, I don’t like the “cancel” aspect of our culture, which has come about thanks to social media. In fact, I think it’s chilling that a person can make a statement on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube that leads to Internet mobbing and financial ruin, particularly when the vast majority of people don’t have a personal stake in whatever has them in a tizzy. Phylicia Rashad actually knows Bill Cosby as a person, not as someone she’s seen on TV. Most of the people who are maligning Rashad’s character don’t know her or Cosby, nor are they even among his victims. Unless, of course, they feel victimized because they fell for Cosby’s charm in the 1970s and 80s. I wonder how many people have sent Phylicia Rashad death threats over her tweet. I would not be surprised if she’s gotten a few threats… and perhaps her family members have gotten them as well. For some reason, many people think it’s okay to get so angry over what someone dares to communicate that they literally call for the offender’s head on a platter. I think that’s taking things a bit too far.

Today is July 4th. It’s a day when Americans celebrate liberty from British rule. I grew up very close to where the Revolutionary War was won, so all my life, I’ve heard about how special and wonderful the United States is, particularly because we have so much freedom. But clearly we don’t have that much freedom. While a person can say whatever they want to say and, generally speaking, don’t have to worry about the government jailing them, there’s a very good chance that if it’s not what people want to hear, and they are “big” enough, they will experience cancel culture. And so many people get riled up over these things. They think a person should suffer for the rest of their lives over their thoughts, deeds, and comments. No matter what, there’s always going to be someone who thinks that lives should be ruined, or even ended, over a tweet. Then, after the next news story breaks, they forget all about that person they felt should have their head on a platter. Meanwhile, that person is still living with the aftereffects of being canceled.

I honestly don’t know if Phylicia Rashad is qualified to be a dean at Howard University. It seems to me that she might have been hired because of her fame, accomplishments, connections, and ability to influence donors. She doesn’t appear to have the usual educational background that university deans typically have. It may turn out that by publicly supporting a sex offender, she’s permanently disgraced herself and Howard University. It could be that because of the tweet, she won’t be able to do her job. If that’s the situation, then yes, maybe she should be fired or resign. But I don’t think she should be fired simply for an ill advised tweet. She has personal feelings about Bill Cosby based on actual in person experiences with him that the vast majority of other people don’t have. Her personal feelings about Cosby are not so cut and dried.

Look at Governor Ralph Northam. In the 1980s, he posed in blackface for a medical school yearbook photo. When that photo was unearthed a couple of years ago, many people called for his resignation. He resisted, and has gone on to do marvelous things in Virginia. Or, at least I think he’s done marvelous things to make Virginia more liberal, which suits me fine. I know a lot of my Republican friends can’t stand him. The point is, I’m glad he didn’t resign over social media backlash and cancel culture. And I don’t think Phylicia Rashad should be forced to resign, unless it becomes clear that she can’t do her job. Ultimately, that will be for Howard University to decide, not the general public. It should be up to the students Rashad serves and her co-workers and bosses, not random people on Facebook. No matter what, people should not be sending her hate mail or death threats. People who send hate mail and death threats must think that would be alright for others to do to them, if at some point, they do something that society deems unacceptable.

Anyway… experience has taught me that these things can and do blow over eventually. Five years ago, Josh Duggar was outed for being a sex pest. One would think the Duggars would have been finished in 2015 over that revelation. But no, it’s taken six years and accusations that Josh Duggar was viewing child pornography to finally get the Duggar family canceled. Like it or not, some people will still like Bill Cosby. They’ll ignore what he’s done. I figure, Phylicia Rashad has as much right as anyone to support her friend, Bill Cosby, even though it may turn out that her public support of Cosby will make it impossible for her to do her job as a university dean. But not being able to do her job should be why she gets fired… not what she tweets on social media. At this point, it’s not yet clear if she’s now incapable of doing her job. I, for one, think Rashad should have the chance to redeem herself.

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musings, racism

Repost: Is Liam Neeson guilty of a “hate crime”?

Here’s a repost of an article I wrote for my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife. It originally appeared February 6, 2019. I’m sharing it again, because last night, I watched Liam Neeson’s Taken series– three movies worth– because Bill had to work very late. As I watched Liam’s character, Bryan Mills, kicking the crap out of bad guys in a very satisfying way, I was reminded of this post I wrote just before I had to shut down access to my old blog. I think it’s worth another look.

I believe that old song in Avenue Q.  I think everyone’s a little bit racist, even though some people believe that you can only be racist if you’re a member of the “dominant” racial group.  Actor Liam Neeson is a White man who recently confessed that after a friend was violently raped by a Black man, he prowled the streets with a club, looking for a Black man to beat up.  He said he was actually “hoping” to be approached by someone giving him an excuse to beat the shit out of them with a “cosh” (British word for club).

Neeson’s violent revenge fantasy occurred about forty years ago.  He never did beat anyone up. He was simply very angry about the violent crime committed against his friend and he wanted to avenge her.  He says he’s ashamed of how he reacted to the rape and sorry for having those violent impulses to hurt other people.

Liam Neeson talks about that controversy from 40 years ago. I think he should be commended for his honesty and integrity.

Naturally, the papers have been having a field day with the story.  Lots of people seem to think Mr. Neeson needs a good public flogging for something that happened 40 years ago.  I don’t condone Neeson’s violent impulses to hurt just anyone who happened to be Black.  However, I do feel like he should be commended for his honesty.  It’s not an easy thing to do, admitting those feelings publicly, as hateful and hurtful as they are.  It’s awful to hear about them, but it does get people thinking and talking.  Is that a bad thing? By the way, I HIGHLY recommend listening to Neeson speak in the above video. He makes a lot of sense.

Neeson eventually came to the conclusion that violence begets violence.  He found more constructive ways to deal with his rage, to include power walking for two hours a day.  He spoke to his friends and a priest.  He also said that if the man had not been Black, he still would have had those same feelings of primal rage and wanting to get revenge. In this case, it was apparently a Black man who perpetrated the crime against his friend.  It could have been anyone, though.  Also, consider that this happened in Northern Ireland forty years ago, during “The Troubles”.  It was a pretty violent time all around, particularly between English people and Irish people.  I’m sure that contributed to Neeson’s state of mind.

In my opinion, Liam Neeson’s situation isn’t really the same as Governor Ralph Northam’s situation in Virginia.  He’s under fire for having been in a racist photo 35 years ago.  Governor Northam is in a leadership position, though, and is a physician.  The photo was taken when he was in medical school.  And it had nothing to do with being justifiably angry.  That photo was about simple mockery of people not like him.  To my knowledge, it wasn’t prefaced by violent crime or anything that would cause a person to feel “passionate”.  It was just plain stupidity.

I can understand being so angry that one becomes blinded by rage.  I don’t condone acting on that rage. It turns out, Neeson never did. He never hurt or killed anyone in reaction to his friend’s rape.  Soon afterward, he was ashamed of himself and took active steps to mend his ways. Forty years later, people want to cancel him for simply admitting that he had these dark thoughts after a dear friend was raped.

Is it awful that Neeson had those violent and racially biased fantasies?  Yes, I believe it is, although I think having them is pretty “human”.  Is it awful that he publicly admits to having those fantasies?  I don’t think so.  Why punish the man for simply being honest?  At least he’s worked on his issues.  At least he acknowledges them.  Apparently, that incident from Neeson’s past has also been used as a tool in his movies, like Taken and Ransom.  That just goes to show that even the worst impulses can be used for something positive if we’re careful.

Another perspective from the other side of the pond. Quite interesting and refreshing.

I do think people should be able to live down the things they did in the past, particularly if they acknowledge them and show that they’ve tried to make amends. We are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done or said or thought… or, at least I believe we should be. I think Neeson has taken steps to make amends for having those violent, racist impulses over forty years ago.  Northam, to my admittedly limited knowledge, has also apparently tried to change his ways.  He supposedly has a good reputation as a physician and as a governor, aside from this unfortunate relic from his past. 

Of course, now there’s been talk of a sexual assault claim against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who would be poised to take Northam’s place if he resigns.  Personally, I think the hullabaloo in Virginia is more about people upset about Northam’s comments on abortion and desperate folks wanting to get the Democrats out of office in Virginia.  The timing of this is just too funky.

As for Liam Neeson… I think people should stop and think before they pick up their torches and pitchforks.  Should we be more concerned about people who are honest about having racist feelings or those who hide them?  Truly, I think everyone has prejudices.  No one is immune to preconceived notions about other people.  I, for one, think Neeson was brave to share his story, knowing how public backlash can happen and what it can lead to.  It’s good to think and talk about these things.  But then, Liam Neeson is probably in a position where he can talk about these things and not fear losing everything.

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rants, religion

What would Jesus tweet?

This morning, I woke up to more news about fiery riots in cities across America. My heart sank as I looked at the pictures and videos of people protesting George Floyd’s horrifying death at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with whom Floyd used to work a security detail at a Minneapolis night club. In the wake of Floyd’s death by cop, Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter, and his wife, Kellie Chauvin, has filed for divorce.

A news item about this…

As I scrolled past that news, I noticed an item about Jerry Falwell, Jr., conservative Christian president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and big time Trump supporter. It’s no secret that Falwell is no fan of liberals, and he’s not a fan of being ordered to wear a face mask. To protest Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s order that everyone wear a mask in public, Mr. Falwell has decided to turn his into a political statement. He has a mask that has a picture of Northam’s infamous blackface yearbook photo on it and shared it on Twitter.

Wow… really? This does not seem very “Christlike”, Jerry.

A black professor who taught online for Liberty University has already resigned over Falwell’s racist tweets. Dr. Christopher House, who began teaching for Liberty University in the fall of 2019, is an associate professor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, and is also a pastor. Dr. House was alerted to Falwell’s tweets by a friend and cited two of them as he immediately resigned his affiliation with Liberty University.

Dr. House’s resignation letter, which was also posted on Facebook.

Frankly, coming from Virginia myself, I’m surprised that anyone holds Liberty in esteem. When I was a teenager looking at colleges, I would not have considered Liberty, even if I had been religious enough to want to attend a Christian college. Back then, it was not considered a very prestigious school. However, over the past few decades, the school has grown by leaps and bounds, apparently mostly due to its online programs. When I was in graduate school, I knew that online and distance learning were going to be waves of the future, even as some of my professors were against it. My graduate school, the University of South Carolina, was an early pioneer in distance education. Looks like Liberty has cashed in on online education and that’s why it has so much power today. When I was in college, the idea of a professor from Ithaca College could teach remotely to students in Virginia was like something out of a science fiction novel.

But anyway… while I completely understand why so many people in Virginia are chafing at being required to wear face masks, I think Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s decision to provoke more of a racial divide is just reprehensible and disgusting. Now, especially, is NOT the time to race bait anyone. Not while the country is going crazy with riots over the unjustified killing of a black man by a white former cop. It is shocking to me that Jerry Falwell, Jr. considers himself a Christian with this type of behavior. This is definitely NOT Christlike behavior, nor is it appropriate leadership. As Dr. House says, Jerry Falwell, Jr. should repent.

Falwell says that the masks are not meant to be racist. He says he created them as a means of reminding people of who Northam is– that he’s a racist. Perhaps Governor Northam was guilty of racist behavior at one time, but people can evolve and change. I don’t think the Northam of the mid 1980s is the same Northam of 2020. It would be a sad world indeed if people couldn’t learn from their mistakes. Indeed, shouldn’t Falwell, as president of a Christian university, be championing the idea of learning and growing instead of being stuck on something from the past? Christians, in particular, should be open to the possibility that people can grow and be better than they once were. It’s one thing when a person is an asshole and continues to be an asshole. It’s quite another when a person was an asshole and makes an effort not to be one in the future.

It’s true that Governor Northam dressed up in blackface when he was in medical school, back in the mid 1980s. It was wrong of Northam to do that, although in the 80s, the culture was not nearly as sensitive to racism as it is today. Northam has evolved beyond his racist actions of the 80s and done a lot of good for the people of Virginia. My former shrink, a doctorate level clinical psychologist, knows Governor Northam personally and has done work with him on a professional basis, as Northam was a pediatric neurologist before he got into politics. He says Northam is an exemplary man and an excellent physician, despite making a poor choice to wear blackface in the 1980s. Seems to me that being a good Christian includes being forgiving and charitable to others.

It surprises me that Jerry Falwell, Jr. would fault Governor Northam for being politically incorrect by dressing in blackface. Falwell has said he appreciated our feckless dickheaded POTUS because he’s not politically correct. So… while I can understand why so many people hate the face masks and I can see why people are upset with Northam for being caught without one on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, I also think that Jerry Falwell, Jr. is a terrible example of a “Christian”. He should be ashamed of himself, although I think that much like Trump, Falwell has no shame. Jesus would never tweet this shit, Jerry. Grow up and be a leader.

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Trump

The stupid is STRONG…

I came across this post this morning. Feast your eyes.

This was written by a guy named Ron… He’s quite the Trumper.

This guy’s post has gone viral. You’d think it would have gone viral because it’s so full of ridiculous bullshit. But no… I see by the comments on his original post that many people agree with his point of view. The few brave souls who commented on this post are being shot down by folks who claim that liberals are “sheep”.

I have mentioned before that I occasionally used to vote Republican. More often than not, I voted third party, because I think both major political parties are corrupt and we need more than two realistic choices for a job as important as POTUS. This year, I plan to vote straight blue on everything, mainly because I’m pissed off and absolutely flabbergasted by the never ending shitshow that happens daily as Donald Trump does his level best to deflect blame and screw over people. But– I do understand the conservative viewpoint and there was a time when it made sense to me… mainly before I got out of the United States and started experiencing the way other people around the world live. So I know that not all Republicans are evil, corrupt, or selfish. A lot of them just don’t know better than what they see locally.

I still don’t get the foolish and dogged devotion people have for Trump. He’s completely incompetent and immoral, and he never takes responsibility for the things he does. You want to be a conservative? Okay. But WHY SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP? There has GOT to be a better person for the job– someone with actual conservative values, yet a level head, a mind for service, and a heart for the people. Donald Trump is a sociopathic scumbag who gleefully abuses and rips off anyone who allows him the opportunity.

COVID-19 is NOT a joke. This is NOT the first time we have had a pandemic sweep the planet. How people can assume this is a plot by a foreign government to destroy the United States is completely beyond my comprehension. People around the WORLD are dying from this virus. I have a college friend whose sister– a woman my age– is on a ventilator fighting for her life because she got sick with COVID-19. Even if this was a Chinese plot– and I really don’t think it is– why would the Chinese government sacrifice their own people?

Seriously…

And Ron seems to be worried about money, first and foremost. He’s all about the economy, and worried about it failing. But the economy is driven by people, and people are DYING from this virus. How can he call Democrats demonic when Republicans are more worried about lining their pockets than saving lives…. oh, except for the pro-life crowd, who will save a pre-born fetus at all costs, but won’t do jack shit for people who have already been born?

Yesterday, I ran across an exciting article about Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam. Northam is a Democrat, and prior to being the governor of my home state, he was a pediatric neurologist. My former shrink– a psychologist by training– had many consults with Dr. Northam. He said Dr. Northam is a first rate physician. My therapist was a first rate psychologist and he helped me immensely. It’s been sixteen years since our last session, so we’re now friends. I see what a kind and generous person my ex shrink is, and based on Northam’s ability to sign off on so many progressive and sensible new laws, I can see why my ex shrink respects the governor so much.

But… as many people know, even Governor Northam has had his issues. Last year, here was a scandal raised because, back in the 1980s, when Northam was in medical school, he was photographed in blackface for his medical school yearbook. Someone commented on the article I read that he didn’t understand how Northam “gets a pass” for his “racist history”. It’s true that after a big splash in the news, the furore over Northam’s blackface scandal seemed to have suddenly dissipated.

My response is that Governor Northam did something stupid in 1984– 36 years ago. He was less than half the age he is now. He grew up, got wiser, and learned from his mistakes. Yes, he got a beating in the press about the blackface photo. It’s embarrassing that Virginia’s governor did that in the 80s, although in fairness to Northam, people were generally less politically correct back in those days. What Northam did was insulting and racist, but he realized that he did wrong, learned from it, and came back better. Since then, he’s sincerely apologized and taken responsibility for what he did in the past, and he’s done a lot of good for MANY people– especially people who are generally otherwise marginalized. That’s not even considering the many young patients he helped when he practiced medicine.

Trump, by contrast, hasn’t done anything but embarrass intelligent people, and embolden the stupid and cruel. Why do people like Ron, a Marine, continue to cheer on Donald Trump? Cognitive dissonance is a real thing, and it’s scary. I looked up Ron’s profile, and he claims to have a master’s degree from a respected university, and yet he’s vomiting up this nonsensical drivel on his social media page.

I don’t know Ron, but I am related to people who think like him and are hellbent on defending Trump’s bullshit. I don’t understand how decent people can defend Trump. I suspect it has to do with fear, and the worry that other people will start to get a fair shot. For all of their talk about freedom and personal liberties, Republicans don’t seem interested in extending those liberties to everyone. I am not naive enough to believe that there isn’t any corruption in the Democratic Party, but I do think that, on the whole, they are more compassionate and fairer than the Republicans are. At least in this day and age, they are.

And as much as I believe in people voting their conscience and supporting their own political ideals, I am really fighting the urge to tell people like Ron to go fuck themselves. Really. If you want to be Republican and support someone who is not a fucking tool, fine. But anyone who still supports Donald Trump’s bullshit is complicit in the madness that has overtaken the country and spilled over into the rest of the world. What we need to do is work together to get things back to some semblance of normalcy. Instead, we have an orange turd who throws temper tantrums on TV, shuts up or fires people who are smarter than he is, and makes false (thank GOD) claims that he has total power. People who continue to vote for that are, in my mind, definitely STUPID. And the stupid is super strong.

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