Mar 28

First Amendment 1, Wal-Mart 0

In case you missed it, there was quite a spectacular discussion on my post from the other day that included a youtube video by Phil DeFranco urging everyone to boycott Wal-Mart.

A local blogger who was a personal acquaintance of mine, completely shit the bed and accused me of “ignorance,” stating that it was “Sad when people criticize a company they know nothing about.”

*ahem*

He also complains that none of my Wal-Mart posts contain any source information or facts to back up my arguments. Never minding the fact that the post he was commenting on clearly contained a link to a CNN article about the poor woman that is being forced to hand over her $470,000 settlement to a company that makes 90 BILLION dollars every quarter.

In the ensuing ruckus, he managed to clearly imply that I am also a hypocrite for denouncing the WalMart* corporation, and then posting Friday Hotness photos which some how supports the porn industry which is just as evil.

*scratches head*

You can read the entire exchange on the original post, but it basically ended with this blogger IM Bombing** me with:

10:25 soundwavematthew: You know, Jester, I used to think you were a good guy. Now I see you’re a pompous, self-righteous asshole.
10:25 soundwavematthew disconnected

I really only mention this because another Wal-Mart article came across my feed reader today that gives me a smug sense of satisfaction, even if it is over a relatively small issue: copyright and trademark infringement.

From The Public Citizen(look there! Another link to a source!):

WalOCaust

[Charles] Smith, a Conyers resident, created designs critical of Wal-Mart that merged Wal-Mart’s name with the word “holocaust” and a star, and arranged for CafePress.com, a California company, to put the design on T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and other items for sale that he sold on the Internet. Smith reserved the domain name and arranged for his items to be sold on CafePress.com.

In December 2005, Wal-Mart sent a letter and e-mail to Smith asserting ownership of trademarks in the name Wal-Mart, the star and the “smiley face” the company uses. The company threatened to sue Smith for infringing and diluting its trademarks and demanded he stop selling his items. Wal-Mart also demanded that Smith stop using the domain name “walocaust.com” and transfer it to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart made a similar threat to CafePress.com, which immediately stopped making and selling Smith’s items.

From Citizen Vox.Org (Oh lord! Another one!):

[Today] a federal judge told Wal-Mart that nobody in their right mind would buy their trademark infringement claims.

Political and social parody, like the type Charles Smith of Conyers, Ga. uses at his www.walocaust.com and www.walqaeda.com sites, is a cherished tradition that goes back to the founding of this country. If Wal-Mart had won, think of the impact the ruling might have had on blogs, artists, photographers and writers who use parody to criticize companies.

In other words, big corporations do not have the power to suppress the free speech of citizens by attempting to stop the use of their “trademarks” in parody or critical works.

Which means CafePress needs to let me sell my Shitty Coffee tee shirts again.

Life is Too Short To Drink Shitty Coffee

* I realize that I switch between several variations of the name WalMart, some hyphenated, some not, some spaced, some not. That’s so ALL the possible combinations can be found by the Google, not because I’m mental.

** The IM Bomb is the online equivalent of slamming a door, or hanging up the phone before you give the other party the opportunity to respond. It’s high on my list of pet peeves, along with being patronized, having my intelligence questioned, or being called a hypocrite. Radio Matthew was batting 75%.

Sep 06

Jester reads the news…

Normally I try to avoid the news as much as possible. It’s not that I don’t want to be informed, or I don’t care… it’s just that there’s only so much destruction, war, stupidity and suffering I can process in a day. I made the mistake of actually paying attention to my news feeds today.

  • Jerry Lewis called someone a faggot during the MDA telethon. He has to work 24 hours a YEAR and he can’t keep shit like that to himself?
  • Leona Helmsley died this past week and gave two of her grandchildren absolutely nothing; her dog, on the other hand received $12,000,000. I have no idea what a dog would do with that much money, but I’m sure this news has made the Beggin’ Strips company very happy. Michael Vick should be shitting himself.
  • Luciano Pavoratti died yesterday. Surely the dip in McDonald’s stock is merely a coincidence.
  • This headline makes me even more convinced that we may not survive to see the ’08 election: U.S. bomber mistakenly flies with nuclear weapons. Seems a bomber flew from North Dakota to Louisiana loaded with 5 nuclear warheads. Bush says, “there’s really no reason to be concerned.” Yeah, right. Maybe he’s hoping that if he just nukes New Orleans we’ll all forget about the Katrina fiasco. He’s a few days late to get all the gays though, Southern Decadence ended on Monday.
  • Apple pissed several million people off yesterday by slashing the price on the iPhone to $399 not quite three months since the launch. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mac laptops, the Mac Mini and all three of our iPods, but anyone who rushes out to buy the first generation of an Apple product just to be hip and cool are fucking losers that deserve to be ripped off. Here’s a little hint for you: First generation products from ANY company never work right. I’ll buy an iPhone next summer for $250 that will wipe my ass and the rest of you will be complaining about the scratches and the busted screens on your $600 “look-at-me-I’m-so-hip” electronic paperweight.
  • Mattel has announced their third recall of toys that were made in China. Let me get this straight, China has poisoned our dogs, put antifreeze and who knows what other chemicals in our toothpaste and are now dosing our kids with lead paint. Why are we still doing business with China? Oh yeah, that’s right, it’s so all the “patriotic Americans” can pay $2.97 for a nine-piece dinette set at Wal-Mart. Wake up McFly! You’re trading your health and safety (not to mention the economy) for that $.98 case of Twinkies that is contributing to your lard ass. I’m fat too, but I prefer to pay full price my Type II Diabetes diagnosis. It’s better for my conscience.
  • Richard Branson is asking his friends at Google to use their satellites to help look for his missing friend Steve Fosset in the Nevada desert. Hey Google, while you’re at do me a favor will ya? Here’s a list of things I desperately would like to find:
    • The Weapons of Mass Destruction rumored to be in Iraq. You may want to try checking for them in Saudi Arabia… or on Fantasy Island.
    • Osama Bin Laden. You may remember that he’s out there somewhere making his next music video. He shouldn’t be too hard to find, his cave will be the one that has a dialysis machine on the front porch and a sound stage at the back. He may be wearing a “Death to the Infidels” tee shirt.
    • Jimmy Hoffa. Not that I really give a rat’s ass about finding him, I’m just sick of everyone using him as a cultural reference.
    • Naked photos of Jesse Metcalfe or Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s not a matter of national security, but I’d like them just the same.
    • My feet. Seriously, I haven’t seen them in a couple of years. I realize that if I dropped 100 pounds they would miraculously reappear, however I have a searing pain and I’m no longer sure I have all my toes. I’m sort of under a time constraint.
  • From Rueters: German security services foiled a plan by Islamist militants to carry out “massive bomb attacks” against U.S. installations in Germany and arrested three suspects, officials said on Wednesday. Thanks, Germany. That totally makes up for that whole Nazi thing. Wanna cuddle?*
  • There’s a giant forest fire between Sacramento and Reno. Our air was all hazy and overcast from the smoke today. The sun appeared to be brown and I’ve been sneezing and wheezing like an asthmatic pygmy in a field of ragweed. I realize this isn’t really news, but it might explain a lot of my bitchiness. Or not.

Anything happening in your neck of the woods?

* It’s not that I’m unappreciative… it’s just that I am a skeptic. I’ve noticed that announcements about “foiled plots” and “intelligence paying off” are always made when the administration is trying to divert attention from their latest fuck up. What nuclear warheads over Kansas?

Jul 22

There’s Gotta Be Mascara in Heaven

Tammy Faye Bakker MessnerI’m sure you’ve heard the news by now that Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner passed away on Friday. She was on Larry King on Thursday, and within a few hours after the interview she died. The media wasn’t alerted, instead the family chose to let Larry break the news on Saturday.

A couple of people have asked me why gay people love Tammy. As you know I speak for all gay people; I am often consulted on major gay issues, such as the “evolution” of language as it relates to homosexuality and discrimination.*

Tammy Faye Bakker MessnerHere’s my explanation: First, it’s the hair and makeup. While many people in my age group may argue and say that the definitive 80’s look was embodied by either the band “Flock of Seagulls,” “Duran Duran,” or the guys from “Miami Vice,” I would say they are all wrong. Nothing holds a candle to the teased bird’s nest of red-highlighted blonde hair piled on top of the entire Max Factor explosion that was going on in the general eye, cheeks, and lips area of her face, and always the pant suits with shoulder pads and fur, lots of fur.

There was something transfixing about watching the floods of black mascara streaming down the crying face of Tammy Faye. She was always crying, whether from the sheer joy of feeling her God’s love, the thought of all the money the PTL Club was raking in during its heyday, or whether from the embarrassment of her husband’s sex and financial scandals.

Through it all, though I’m sure it was offered, she passed on water-proof mascara. The raccoon look was her trademark, and she wasn’t about to disappoint the legions of drag queens who adopted her “the-higher-the-hair-the-closer-to-God” persona.

Second, Tammy Faye was the first, and dare I say most genuine, public Christian-faith celebrity/figure to embrace homosexuals and treat them as human beings. When the AIDS crisis came to light in the early 80’s, while other evangelists were using the disease as an example of God’s wrath on the wicked, Tammy offered them support and a shoulder. She interviewed AIDS patients on PTL Club broadcasts.** She called upon her fellow Christians to volunteer and show compassion for the afflicted. She implored them to follow Christ’s teachings and cast no judgment.***

The gay community in return began to trust her, and historically gays are very loyal. I was a pre-teen during the height of the AIDS crisis, but even I knew of Tammy and her teachings that were radically different from other evangelists that seemed to be on every station. I didn’t really grasp the concept of homosexuality. I understood that there was a mystery disease out there that made men look gaunt and skeletal, with wounds on their faces and thin hair. I also understood that most people seemed to think these guys got what they deserved.

Not Tammy.

After all the dramas and scandals, the gay community supported Tammy in return. She recently said this on Larry King:

Tammy Faye Bakker Messner

When I went — when we lost everything, it was the gay people that came to my rescue, and I will always love them for that.

Finally, Tammy suffered through publicly humiliating scandals that put her husband in jail and destroyed the ministry that they had spent years building. The dirty laundry from her husband’s extra-marital tryst with Jessica Hahn was waved through the air like a championship flag. Jerry Falwell ripped what was left of her company out from underneath her and trashed her name to the army of the righteous.

Then when the next monthly televangelist scandal broke and she was left with virtually nothing but a lying, cheating, prisoner for a husband, she was diagnosed with cancer for the first time.

And throughout every agonizing moment, Tammy remained composed, humble, and steadfast in her faith.

If there are only two things that the gay community can understand, they would be

  • remaining strong in the face of adversity, and
  • always having on just the right amount of mascara.

* Sarcasm Alert Code: Red!

** Can you imagine the first guy that got that interview request… “You want me to go on WHAT show??”

*** When was the last time you heard a public Christian figure dare suggest something radical like that?

Apr 12

Free Speech, or, Freedom to Prove Yourself an Idiot

I received an email yesterday from one of my super-groovy friends who met me once at a convention a little over a year ago and has since become a regular reader of this site. You may know her from my comments pages as hellohahanarf. (She really needs to get a site of her own so I can link to her.) If you’re getting link love from me on this site she’s probably left you comments as well, because as I said already she’s super-groovy like that.

Anyway, the email was a one liner that said simply:

would love to read your thoughts on don imus and the fight with sharpton

I’ve been watching this sad little drama play out over the past couple of days. I can’t help but think back to other recent incidents of celebrities saying stupid shit.

Recent history has given us:

Just this week, there have been three more incidents of famous people running off at the mouth:

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think there is a think-tank of publicists out there who are advising their clients to say something offensive so they can make well-publicized mea culpas.

I’m finding myself over-saturated by these news stories. I also find myself torn between my belief in free speech and my overwhelming desire to stick some of these homophobic racists in a locked room with a gigantic black leather daddy who is out of lube.

I’ve been staring at this post for a couple of hours trying to come up with a point. Do I want to talk about the double standard the media portrays when dealing with racial slurs versus homophobic rants? Do I want to talk about the ability of a corporation to fire their spokesperson for not portraying the proper image? How about the need for the public to vote with their power buttons and boycotts of advertisers?

How do we as a society maintain our freedom of speech without the government getting involved? How do we change the way people think about race and sexuality without limiting the expression of their idiotic misguided ideas?

I’m not the only person struggling with this topic tonight. A couple of stories just popped up in my RSS Reader:

I already “don’t listen” to Imus. I already “don’t read” Ann Coulter. Everyone knows I avoid sports. I don’t shop at Walmart. I don’t use Verizon Wireless for my cell service. I try to avoid putting money into the pockets of companies that promote a belief system that I feel is wrong.

What more can I do when presented with an idiotic statement made by a celebrity?

What do you guys think?

* Yes, she did. This argument is over.

Mar 03

Free Speech for Everyone!

Ann Coulter - She-DevilJust not HER.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, Ann Coulter, the wicked witch of the religious right, has once again stuck her foot in that gigantic gaping maw of a mouth. Seems she had this to say at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot–so….’”

I don’t know why everyone is so surprised. Scott wants everyone to express their outrage and anger on their blogs and hopefully pressure the GOP into distancing themselves from the bride of Beelzebub.

However, I seem to have long ago reached my annoyance tolerance with Ann. She makes her living by saying stupid shit that is designed to be controversial, and hate filled. Think about it, she’s got herself quite a niche of being the most offensive woman on the planet.

Need proof? Here are some sound bites from Princess Personality, courtesy of The Washington Monthly:

“God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.'”—Hannity & Colmes, 6/20/01

To a disabled Vietnam vet: “People like you caused us to lose that war.”—MSNBC

“I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote.”—Politically Incorrect, 2/26/01

“If those kids had been carrying guns they would have gunned down this one [child] gunman. … Don’t pray. Learn to use guns.”—Politically Incorrect, 12/18/97

Here’s more from Wikiquote:

On the 9/11 widows: “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis… These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them… I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”

“I don’t know if [former U.S. President Bill Clinton is] gay. But [former U.S. Vice President] Al Gore – total fag.”

“Six imams removed from a US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix are calling on Muslims to boycott the airline. If only we could get Muslims to boycott all airlines, we could dispense with airport security altogether.”

I feel like I need a scrub brush for my brain after reading all of that in one sitting. My point is simply this: She thrives on controversy, sells books by saying the most offensive, bigoted, racist things that pop into her head. Why should anyone give her even an extra minute of coverage for doing what she does? I’m guessing she’s just going to continue escalating the rancid vitriol she spouts until even Jerry Falwell won’t have anything to do with her.

And here’s probably my favorite quote from her:

“They’re [Democrats] always accusing us of repressing their speech. I say let’s do it. Let’s repress them. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of the First Amendment.”

Oh, how I love irony.

Feb 08

R.I.P. Mrs. Smith

Anna Nicole SmithMy great friend Tiffiny (rubbergirl) just IM’d me and asked, “Have you seen the news?”

“Nope… I haven’t been awake long. What’s up?”

“Anna Nicole Smith just died,” she answered.

“Really? Didn’t her son just die under unusual circumstances?”

“Yeah, back in September. Daniel. His name was Daniel,” she remembered.

“Crazy. Damn… now who am I going to make fun of when they show up all high and plastic looking at B-List celebrity gatherings? Who am I going to hold up as a mockery of heterosexual marriage? Who is going to replace Anna Nicole Smith when I want to talk about scary white trash glamour?” I lamented.

Britney SpearsAnd then it hit me, “At least I’ve still got Britney!”

[edited: There’s a great round up of articles written about Anna over the past year up at: Defamer.com.]

Feb 06

Wal-Mart Woes

So it seems that my old friend Wal-Mart is facing the largest sexual discrimination class action lawsuit in history. The Ninth Circuit here in San Francisco has determined that there is enough evidence to move forward on behalf of 7 women who have made claims of discrimination, harassment, and gender-bias.

Here’s my favorite part of the news article:

In a dissent, 9th Circuit Court Judge Andrew Kleinfeld said the case should not be a class-action lawsuit.

“This case poses a considerable risk of enriching undeserving class members and counsel, but depriving thousands of women actually injured by sex discrimination of their just due,” he wrote. “Plaintiffs’ only evidence of sex discrimination is that around 2/3 of Wal-Mart employees are female, but only about 1/3 of its managers are female.”

“Not everybody wants to be a Wal-Mart manager,” Kleinfeld added. “Those women who want to be managers may find better opportunities elsewhere.”

Right, I’m sure all those women who work at management are turning down all those promotion opportunities that Wal-Mart is throwing at them.

Jan 05

Future Darwin Award Winner

Eleia NunezIt’s news stories like this that make me truly frightened for our future.

Meet Eleia Nunez, age 12, of Stockton California.

She went missing from her home two days ago. Despite the police and fire departments search via helicopter, patrols and tracking dogs, her disappearance remained a mystery until tonight.

From the news reports tonight, she is thankfully home safe and sound.

She was found wandering around a neighborhood 3 miles from home. Seems she leaned over the fence in her backyard, fell over it, and “became disoriented and lost.”

In her neighbor’s yard.

But wait! There’s more!

She managed to walk out of her neighbor’s yard, and down her own street and around her own neighborhood. Lost.

Then she kept wandering around. Past businesses, houses, pedestrians and motorists. Presumably during the 34 hours she was gone, she passed cops and firefighters, cabs, and an assortment of potentially helpful faces.

She slept outside in 30 degree weather, picked oranges off someone’s tree for nourishment, and finally flagged down some woman today to use her cell phone.

This girl isn’t 4. She’s 12. Are there no pay phones anywhere in the city of Stockton? Could she not have knocked on ANY door and explained that she was lost?

Either her story is full of shit, or she is destined to die in a horrible “making toast in the shower” incident in the near future.

Dec 01

World AIDS Day Part 2

Support World AIDS Day AIDS affects you. Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, you have personally been affected.

You know someone living with HIV. You may not know they are positive. They might not know they are positive, as it is estimated that 1 in 4 infected people do not know that they are infected.

AIDS is not discriminatory. The virus does not know you are black, white, or green. It does not care if you are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Mormon, or a good little Christian girl. It certainly does not care if you are straight or gay.

I’ve lost three friends to the virus. I have at least three friends that I know of who are HIV positive. This does not compare to some of my older friends who have watched almost ALL of their friends die.

If you have ever listened to radio and heard a Queen song, or danced along to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax, you have been affected.

If you have ever watched Magic Johnson play basketball, or Greg Louganis dive from the high dive, you have been affected.

If you have ever watched a movie and enjoyed Rock Hudson or Michael Jeter’s performances, you have been affected.

If you recognize even one name from this list, you have been affected.

I will say it again, in bold, in case you aren’t getting the point.

You have been affected.

It is up to you to not get INfected.

Dec 01

World AIDS Day Part 1

Support World AIDS DayI am thirty-one years old. Mine is the first generation to have never known the world without AIDS.

I remember watching news reports as a kid about this mysterious illness that was afflicting a large number of gay men in pockets around the world. The news reports were almost always the same footage of one emaciated man in a hospital bed covered in lesions. His eyes were hollow, lips dry and cracked. He reminded me of a baby bird, with his brittle hair and uncontrollable head movements.

I’m sure his death came quickly after the footage was taken, and I’ve often wondered who that man was.

The news reports initially focused on the illness itself, the symptoms and fast progression into a rare form of cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma (the cause of the lesions) and the fact that doctors were baffled. Not long after the reports started, and the first cases of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) appeared, the disease had a name: Gay Related Immune Deficiency.*

That name only lasted for a very brief period of time, but it characterizes a pervasive attitude about the disease to this day, that AIDS is a gay man’s disease. Ronald Reagan famously refused to talk about AIDS during his presidency because of the association with gays. I believe he only mentioned it twice in any public forum. He apologized to the gay community (and the world at large) several years after leaving office for not doing enough, or making it enough of a priority.

Worldwide AIDS InfectionsToday, the statistics are overwhelming.

The one that I personally find most disturbing is this one: Young people (15-24 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide – around 6,000 become infected with HIV every day.

We live in the information age. I will post this message and it will almost instantly be accessible all over the world. I can just finish typing this sentence and some guy in Thailand will be able to open my page and read this. Yet, the message about preventing this disease is not being heard.

There is no cure for this disease. Yes, drugs have been made available that slow the progression, and in some cases have actually squashed the virus into an undetectable level of infection. However, the drugs are very expensive, and the hardest hit areas of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa where it is estimated that over 60% of the population is HIV positive, can not afford the medications. But the existence of the drugs in the US has actually caused a rise of infection rates because people aren’t as scared of the disease as they should be. They don’t realize that the new strains of the virus are stronger, more likely to be drug resistant, and are just as deadly.

Today, AIDS doesn’t make the news. It’s not talked about in private as often. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wearing a red ribbon. (But those damn yellow LiveStrong bracelets are inexplicably still EVERYWHERE.)

I appreciate the efforts of WorldAIDSDay.org and their campaign to make sure that at least for one day in December we think about the pandemic that has claimed over 25 million lives in 25 years.

* Avert.org has an interesting chronicle of the early days of AIDS posted on their website.