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The Confederate Flag

We, Southerners, have to accept that the Confederate flag must be taken down. It has become too tainted with negative attachments to ever recover. It’s like a beloved family pet suffering from rabies. As much as it may break your heart, it must be put down because it can never be cured. And that’s something that everyone else needs to understand: the Confederate flag, for many Southerners is a beloved icon of heritage, not hate. Just as some children of immigrants to the US appreciate another nation’s flag as a symbol of their family heritage, some Southerners appreciate the Confederate flag as a symbol of their family heritage. Yes, they and we are full Americans, proud and true, and respecting another flag does not show any desire to be anything other than full, respectful Americans.

There are nations in this world that have done terrible things in their history. Japan, Russia, even the United Kingdom, as well as the United States are all guilty of atrocities more recent than 19th century slavery. But if a descendant of that nation were to display that flag as a symbol of their heritage, few would call out that display as a bad thing. Most people can recognize another person’s respect for their cultural heritage without thinking that person also supports everything done under that flag or as a part of that culture. Why can’t people understand this about the the South’s relationship with the Confederate flag?

I do not own a Confederate flag. I don’t remember that anyone in my family ever owned a Confederate flag. But I’ve known of it as a piece of Southern heritage for as long as I can remember. And as a piece of Southern heritage, I never thought of it as a racist symbol. I know some racist people have used it as their symbol, but it was never such a thing to me and many other happy, peaceful, and accepting Southerners. I know some people can’t accept that idea, and that is sadly ironic. To turn around an old phrase: It’s a Southern thing, you wouldn’t understand. Whether you understand or not, if you intend to have any kind of respectful, honest discussion to convince someone that the flag needs to come down, you have to accept that to many, it is not a racist symbol.

There are some who don’t want the flag taken down because they see doing so as disrespecting their heritage. To them saying the Confederate flag is bad is like saying the South is bad. You have to understand this feeling and point of view if you want to convince some Southerners to accept taking down the flag. You can’t come at people with an arrogant or condescending attitude about it. You must work to convince people, not order them. Most any American will bow up at someone demanding of them, and it’s worse for someone seen as an “outsider” to demand you do something. Too often, instead of explaining, “The flag has just accumulated too much negative baggage,” and “as a symbol, it does damage on a moral level,” someone will essentially say, “It’s a racist symbol,” and by relationship, “and you are a racist for having any respect for it.” You can’t wash something by throwing trash at it.

There are also some who don’t want the flag taken down because they see that act as the first of potentially many acts to disrespect and even disassemble the Southern culture. They feel that what drives the call to take it down is a general hatred toward the South as a whole. The South has a bad rep for being racist in general, even when the most recent big news items on the racism issue is going on outside the South. When comedians crack jokes about racism, they tend to point at the South. And when comedians crack jokes about the South, they tend to call up racism. And no matter how many times a Southerner disclaims racism, the response is essentially, “Yeah, that’s exactly what a racist would say.” It’s a sore spot for many Southerners. Whether real or not, some Southerners feel those calling for the flag to be taken down are also, by relationship, calling for the South to be taken down. They fear that after the flag, people will take down other Southern icons, landmarks, and names. It is not a fear without precedent.

You have to understand that the above things are feelings. Emotions. I’m not saying that anyone actually wants to take down the South as a culture, but when emotions of fear and embarrassment are invoked by an issue, people get defensive. And when people get defensive, especially Americans, they dig in, even if their position has become a muddy swamp. You should want to bring those hold-out Southerners to the right side of the issue by appealing to their innate good morals; you should not be trying to defeat and humiliate them because others with poor morals have taken up the same side. (Remember, average Southerners don’t want the damn racists among us or using our symbols, either.) For instance, if a neighborhood has become corrupt because criminals have taken up hanging on the corners, you don’t decide to arrest everyone living there. You civilly separate the good from the bad, and get the good to join you in driving out the bad. People claim to want Love to win. Well Love can’t win by using Hate as the weapon.

For those who do use the flag as a racist symbol, well of course they don’t want the flag taken down because that action symbolizes a rejection of their position. Sadly, though, taking the flag down will not change their minds, nor will it silence them, nor will it make them disappear. If the flag were to instantly vanish from the world, racism will not vanish with it. Violence in the name of racism will not end. I will point out that there is just as much racism and racist violence in the North, Mid-west, and West as there is in the South, with nary a Confederate flag in sight. And this doesn’t even count all the racism between races other than white and black.

So, yes, the Confederate flag needs to come down. But when it does come down, some Southerners could accept it better if instead of hearing a cheer of victory one would give for defeating an opponent, they heard the respectful condolences or silence you would give for seeing someone lose a beloved, yet very ill family pet. Your reaction at that moment reveals your true character as much or more than the reaction of those who let it be taken down. You may not respect those who use the flag as a symbol for terrible ideas, but you should accept (and forgive) those who think of the flag as a symbol of heritage.

My fellow Southerners, we have to acknowledge that some very nasty vermin have holed up in our backyard barn, and have been using it as a crapper for a long time, now. It is an eye-sore for the neighborhood, and a health hazard for our families. It’s time to take down the barn and give the nasty pests no place to live in our yard. It’s what a good family does to protect its home, and what civil neighbors do to respect, (and to get respect from), their community.

Let’s take down the flag, and store it respectfully, out of sight. Maybe one day it can be taken out again and flown with pride as we think of it. But for now, taking it down is the moral thing to do.


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I don’t believe human life begins at conception. The idea that a few microscopic cells can be considered human life just doesn’t make sense to me. Depending on what statistic you read, 1/4 to 1/3 of known pregnancies end in a miscarriage. That’s known pregnancies. Add in the miscarriages that happen before a woman even knows she’s had an egg fertilized, that would be a lot of “human life” lost if it started at conception.

But I do believe human life begins at some point in utero. Where exactly during the gestation period, I couldn’t pinpoint, but I can accept the legal ruling of somewhere in the second or third trimester – at around 24 weeks, a fetus is capable of surviving outside the womb, as a living baby. If a person, (a woman, of course), can’t decide if she wants to terminate her pregnancy within a few months, I can accept the state erring on the side of “it’s human life at this point,” and requiring that she just finish the pregnancy. I think this is reasonable for a civilized society.

I don’t support shaming or trying to talk a woman out of getting an abortion by forcing ultrasound or therapy or religion on her before the decision. I doubt many women make the decision, either way, flippantly. The decision should be between the woman and her doctor. But I do support notifying parents if the girl is under age. If a parent is expected to be, and is legally responsible for their underage child, then they can’t be kept in the dark about something like this medical procedure.

I also don’t think the man whose sperm fertilized the egg necessarily must be notified and give consent. Before it is actually a baby/human life, (at the second or third trimester, or at 24 weeks gestation), he was just the sperm donor to, (probably unintentionally), fertilize an egg. After that time, he is the father, then with the legal and moral responsibilities that comes with fatherhood. Now, within a relationship, (like a marriage), I think a woman should let the “sperm donor” know. I mean, if the relationship is healthy, I would think one would talk to their spouse before getting even a tattoo. So talking before an abortion should be a basic consideration. If a woman doesn’t want to tell their boyfriend/husband before terminating a pregnancy, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the relationship outside of that issue.

Those who insist that a woman should have the right to abort right up till the natural birth, I feel are gruesome. And those who insist that a woman should never end a pregnancy even with a morning after pill, I feel are controlling zealots.



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Gay Rights

Gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender folks — I’m fine with them all. I don’t really give any thought or care about a person’s sexual preference, orientation, or identity. I’ve known only a few openly gay folks in my life, and although one was kind of creepy, (like a sleazy lounge lizard kind of guy), the others were just normal people, normal acquaintances or friends. There may be others in my immediate world that are gay and I just don’t know it. And really, that’s the way it should be; that’s the way normal people are. No normal person, heterosexual, homosexual, or asexual, lives their life with their sexuality printed on their shirt, as if the world just has to know it and accept it in their face. I’ve never personally met the stereotypical, flamboyant gay or butch lesbian, even when I spent a whole evening at a gay/lesbian night club.

I’ve never harassed anyone I thought was gay, at least definitely not to their face. When I was a young and dumb teenager, yes, there was name calling among friends. But that wasn’t really accusations or attacks on their real sexuality any more than using other words meant we thought each other were female dogs or had unmarried parents. Young guys are just assholes to each other. It’s dumb, but it’s the nature of male puberty.

I would not stand by and watch someone be harassed by a bully, whether for their sexuality or skin color or any other reason. And I’d think very low of anyone who did allow harassment in front of them, not to mention I consider those who do harass are total scum.

I have no problem with gay men marrying each other, or lesbian women marrying each other. I don’t see how their marital status affects me at all. But the argument over “gay rights” does confuse me a bit. When I hear how gays are denied rights in the U.S., I wonder what rights do I have that a gay man does not? From all the arguments I’ve heard, it seems that “gay rights” is just a synonym for “gay marriage,” but saying “rights” makes it sound like a much broader and deeper situation. All the rights that the LGBT pundits claim are restricted from gays are those rights that come with marriage. So it seems that the one item, gay marriage, would bring all those other rights. Right?


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I don’t consider myself a Republican. I don’t consider myself a Democrat. I don’t consider myself a conservative or a liberal. Nor do I claim to be a Libertarian. I am registered unaffiliated. This opening paragraph may be a big surprise for some of you, even those of you who know me very well, including family and friends.

I like some Republican/conservative ideas, and I like some Democrat/liberal ideas. And I am appalled by some Republican/conservative ideas, and I am appalled by some Democrat/liberal ideas. I also like and dislike some Libertarian ideas. This does not make me “moderate” or “undecided” or “wishy-washy” at all. On some issues I am solidly decided, unchanged for decades, and very far from moderate. But my opinions on political issues do not fall perfectly in line with either party. A sad thing about political sides is that too many people think you have to be all in or all out, that you can’t agree and disagree with things from both camps.

I’ve never directly told anyone my political leanings. With close family and friends I may have discussed certain political issues, and they may have assumed my overall party leanings based on those conversations. In the company of people who are not close family and friends, I tend to not reveal my opinions on political issues at all. Often I find that people will assume I’m in agreement with them because I don’t argue against them. I find this amusing and convenient. Sadly, I also sometimes find that people will assume I completely disagree with them on all things just because I question some propaganda BS they’re spouting. I find this exhausting.

When I vote, I vote for the person, not the party. I also don’t vote for just one issue. I find most political debate to be more about finding fault and disagreement, and scoring little “gotchas” than about actually finding common ground or solutions. Both parties do this. Both parties nitpick each other to the point of absurdity.

Way back in 1992, I signed the petition to allow Ross Perot on the ballot. (A real, paper petition. This was before clicking Like on Facebook was the fad for supporting something.) I signed that because I thought he deserved to be allowed to run, not because I wanted to vote for him.

That election was the first one that I voted in. I was 25 years old. Since then I have voted in every presidential election, but only a few mid-term elections. I usually learn a lot about the presidential candidates, a little about Senators and Congressmen, but I rarely know anything about state level politicians. I don’t really research any candidate, but I do pay attention to the news and such. I hate political campaign ads. Hate, hate, hate. All campaigns ads I ever see are negative — they tell me that their opponent is of the devil, but not what they, themselves, stand for and will do. Negative political ads do not move me to vote for anyone, although they have moved me to not vote at all.

I’m perfectly comfortable with the idea of a non-white non-male holding any office, including president. There have been non-male and non-white candidates running for their party’s nomination that I would have voted for had they made the ticket. There are non-white and non-male people right now that I’d consider voting for if they decided to run. Again, I vote for the person, not the party, race, or gender.

It does annoy me when someone makes an issue out of a candidate’s race or gender. Ironically, though, most of the time, (if not every time), that I’ve seen/heard/read someone make an issue of some candidate’s/politician’s race or gender, it’s been an accusation of racism or misogyny directed at someone else rather than actual race or gender bias against the candidate/politician. That is, it is someone claiming someone else dislikes or disagrees with the candidate or politician because of the politician’s race or gender. Someone can disagree and/or dislike Barack Obama without being racist, and someone can disagree and/or dislike Sarah Palin without being sexist.

In most cases, the same people who disagree/dislike Obama, felt the same about Bill Clinton. But Democrat supporters claim it’s racism against Obama, where before it was just regular old political differences. And the same people who disagreed/disliked Palin, felt the same about Bush. But Republican supporters claimed it was sexism against Palin, where before it was just regular old political differences. This claim of racism/sexism is just political hacks trying to score intellectually underhanded points against the other side. It’s a low road taken when the hack can’t defend their side with a legitimate point. “My candidate’s position is so obviously superior that for you to disagree can only be because you hate their race or gender!”

If I don’t vote for a non-white and/or non-male candidate, it’s not because I don’t want someone of that race or gender in that office. And if I do vote for someone of a particular race or gender, it’s not because I think we need someone of that race or gender in that office. Whether I vote for someone depends strictly on their ideas, their character, their plans, and their ability to perform the duties of that office. Don’t tell me that I should vote for them just to help that race or gender to break some barrier, and don’t tell me that not voting for them means I’m racist or sexist. That is insulting both to my intelligence and my character. If you can’t sell your candidate based on their ideas, character, plans, and ability, then you have a crappy candidate. If your candidate has great ideas, good character, wise plans, and demonstrated ability, then you have a suitable candidate, completely regardless of their race or gender.


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