Tag Archives: debate

If You’re Defending Josh Duggar, You’re the Problem

Josh Duggar repeatedly molested underage girls, including his sisters, while his parents sought to cover it up and avoid talking to the proper authorities. You’ve seen the news by now and you know how utterly revolting it is from every angle. I don’t need to cover the horrifying details here.

I read the news last night as I was going to bed. I thought finally, even the most ardent supporters of TLC’s clown show won’t be able to spin this, and perhaps common sense will prevail. The blanket condemnation and the collective horror at not just Josh’s action, but the duplicitous cover-up by his parents, will be the nudge all of the extreme fundamentalists require to come to their senses.

Turns out I was giving that particular group far too much credit.

Right, Samantha. Because the first thing a rational person thinks after finding out about a serial child molester who targeted sleeping children including his own sisters aided by his parents in a massive coverup to hide the facts until the statute of limitations had run out, should be “Boy, I really hope I can still watch all these people on TV every week.”

Oh you’re sorry, Republican Girl. You are very, very sorry. Mainly because your definition of “amazing people” includes child molesters and those who enable them.

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Catherine has taken the “blame the media” approach and given it an Alex Rodriguez level steroid injection. Instead of questioning why Josh Duggar is molesting young girls and, more importantly, why his parents wouldn’t alert the proper authorities, she points the finger at the DAMN MEDIA! After all, how dare reporters look under the surface for things and file FOIA requests to obtain information from official sources and then publish that information for people to read. Wait. What? That’s PRECISELY the job of media members everywhere? Oh. Well, nevermind then…

These two esteemed Twitter users were far from alone in making this point. As instructed by the Far Right Emergency Handbook, religious conservatives everywhere immediately started shouting about Lena Dunham (and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton too, just because) and pointing out the LIBERAL HYPOCRISY of getting upset about one and not the other.

Dunham, in case you hadn’t heard, described a moment in her childhood when she — at the age of 7 — looked in her 1-year-old sister’s vagina, found some pebbles, and then alerted her mother. Clearly this single incident is exactly the same thing as being a 14-year-old, repeatedly groping and fondling young girls while they’re sleeping, having your parents cover up that abuse over the course of years, all the while telling anyone within earshot gay people are dangerous pedophiles.

That’s not just apples and oranges, it’s apples and fire hydrants.

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Got that? It’s less about the criminal molestation and more about the actions afterward. And Josh Duggar apologized, so dude — move on already! Right? Hell, this thing has been in the news cycle a whole 20 hours and we’re STILL TALKING ABOUT IT! But it’s interesting Valerie thinks failing to alert the authorities and trying to pass off a summer remodeling homes as “therapy” is “lifting up the name of Jesus.” Jesus didn’t return an email seeking comment for this piece, but I have to believe he’s not too thrilled to be involved in this one.

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This is the craziest comment I’ve personally seen on this issue. And it’s also the most frightening, because it’s 100% pure, unadulterated praise. For Josh Duggar. An admitted child molester.

Kelly is right in that Josh Duggar didn’t “justify or defend.” Mainly because there’s just no way to justify or defend being a serial child abuser. And yes, he confessed. Bravo. It only took him 13 years, a hidden letter in a book that was sent to Oprah Winfrey’s show, and multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests that revealed hard evidence in the form of police reports that couldn’t be denied.

But “humility and redemption?” Is it humble to publicly call gay and transgender people dangerous pedophiles when YOU are actually the dangerous pedophile? Sorry, but I fail to see how Josh Duggar is “redeemed” by being exposed as a dangerous and utterly hypocritical fondler of young girls, and part of a family that would DARE cast stones regarding homosexuality when they were housing and covering up for a pedophile in their own four walls.

When you think about it, several members of the Duggar family seem more like sociopaths than anything else.

All I can think about are those poor girls, the victims of Josh Duggar’s abuse. Did they get the help they need? Have they suffered additional trauma having to live with their abuser and see him every single day for all these years? Or were they afterthoughts in the mad scramble to protect poor Josh’s reputation?

Either way, if you’re someone publicly defending Josh Duggar or the Duggar family after this unspeakable atrocity, you are every bit as big of a problem as the perpetrators.

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Moms Should Be the Most Upset with Piers Morgan’s Paternity Leave Comments

paternity

You know who should be the most upset regarding Piers Morgan’s bafflingly backward comments about modern fathers not wanting paternity leave? Moms.

The British television host was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last week, when the issue of paid paternity leave came up. It was then Morgan decided to reach back into the 1950s to pull out this gem. “Most dads don’t want to do paid paternity leave. They pretend they do, but after two weeks of a tiny little baby…all they’re doing is eating, guzzling, and depositing, it isn’t the most exciting gig in town.”

Despite that being moronic enough to cause co-host Mika Brzezinski to literally roll her chair off the set in wide-eyed horror, Morgan didn’t apologize or reconsider his stance after the show. In fact, he doubled down with these tweets.

That last one is the real problem, because it assumes moms know everything about child-rearing from the get-go while dads are “invariably utterly useless” when it comes to babies. Or, to be blunt, taking care of babies is a woman’s job.

What Morgan apparently fails to realize is most first-time parents are equally clueless. There is no child-rearing DNA that is biologically inherent in women but not men. Yet Morgan’s comments set the stage for the unfair societal expectation we place on new moms to automatically know everything. Meanwhile fathers are seen as “Super Dads” just for changing a diaper, because the bar is set so low compared to moms.

By tapping out at the starting line and playing the “well dear, you’re so much better at it” card, Morgan places the burden of child-rearing on moms and minimizes the importance of shared parenting. Perhaps he’d be interested to know women account for 40% of all breadwinners in American homes, meaning many moms are no longer content to be saddled with all the household duties while the man returns to work.

But if dads accept Morgan’s tripe about being useless then they are let off the hook. No paternity leave, no early bonding with the child, a slower learning curve for how to take care of the baby, and a decreased role as a caregiver.

And then there’s the fact that what Morgan is saying just isn’t true.

The Boston College Center for Work and Family surveyed more than 1,000 fathers, and found 89% think it is important for companies to offer paid paternity leave. Also, more than 90% of fathers reported spending time caring for their new child and changing diapers during their time off, while more than 80% went food shopping, cleaned the house, and prepared meals.

“When men fail to be active co-parents in the first few months of the child’s life it sets up a pattern that is difficult to change,” according to the findings.

Which means maybe it’s just Piers Morgan who is useless to his wife in caring for a new baby, and not “most men.”

Speaking as a father of two (soon to be three) who took time off after both kids were born, I can personally attest to the fact that it is a vital and cherished time. My paternity leave allows my wife to rest and recover while I bond with my baby (and take care of my other kids). My company gives me two paid weeks of leave which, while I wish it were longer, I’m also fortunate to have.

Morgan is right about one thing – it’s not always exciting. Then again, it’s not supposed to be. It’s messy, hectic, life-changing, monotonous, difficult, wonderful, and sometimes it downright sucks. But guess what? Welcome to parenting, Piers. We don’t do it for the excitement, we do it because it has to be done. We do it because it’s so incredibly important. And we do it to let our wives know it’s not all on them.

Here’s to more paid paternity leave for more men who would be more apt to take it if not for antiquated, less evolved attitudes like Morgan’s.

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My Son, The Boy Scouts, and Why I Won’t Support Discrimination

photo credit: Flag Retirement Ceremony - Troop 80 Boy Scouts and Pack 89 Cub Scouts - Yongsan Garrison - Korea - 090509 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Flag Retirement Ceremony – Troop 80 Boy Scouts and Pack 89 Cub Scouts – Yongsan Garrison – Korea – 090509 via photopin (license)

The boy, maybe 9 or 10 years old, cautiously walked toward us as we exited the store. He tugged at his Cub Scout neckerchief and cleared his throat before speaking. He was polite but nervous, as he quietly explained how he was raising money and asked us if we’d like to donate.

Unlike many people, I don’t mind being approached by folks outside of stores asking for donations. That’s especially true when young men and women take it upon themselves to bravely approach strangers and ask for financial support, because that’s not an easy thing to do. I almost gave him a dollar based on that alone.

I thanked him for his time and congratulated him on his efforts, told him he’s doing a fine job, and wished him luck. Then I politely declined to donate and walked away.

When we were out of earshot, Will gave me a confused look and wanted to know why I wouldn’t give the boy any money. So I told him even though that boy and his friends are surely very good and devoted Scouts led by progressive parents and leaders doing positive work in the community, the people in charge of Scouting at the national level have a rule that prohibits gay people and atheists from being leaders. And, until very recently, wouldn’t let in gay or atheist members. Which means Will’s gay extended family wouldn’t be allowed to lead a troop because they’d be considered harmful to the development of kids. Hell, it means I couldn’t even lead a group because I don’t believe in God.

His reaction? “What?!? That’s not fair. Why can’t they just be nice?” Yes. Why indeed.

I posted the encounter on my Facebook page and thought nothing of it other than it was a good lesson for Will. However, others had a very different view of what happened. Here are a few comments I received:

“So lets take it out on the scouts that work very hard.”

“Maybe instead of refusing to support them and teaching your child that its ok to judge people. Maybe you should try volunteering and help to change policy.”

“Discriminating against all scouts is just as bad as discriminating against all gays or all blacks or all trekkies (had to throw that is to lighten up the subject). If you show discrimination at all to any group in front of your children, you are teaching them that discrimination is ok. It’s hypocritical. We teach are kids to show love and respect to everyone, even our enemies and those that have different opinions.”

“Im a fan of yours man, I usually like everything you post, but this. Sounds to my like a lesson in division and discrimination.”

First of all, politely declining to donate is not discrimination. Not by a long shot. And it’s certainly not in the same hemisphere as racism and homophobia.

Discrimination? Setting a bad example? Negative judgments? All things the Scouts engage in at the national level by banning gays and non-believers. But instead of focusing on the organization actually discriminating against people, they focused on me. Suddenly I was the bad guy discriminating against the Scouts. All because I refuse to financially support an organization that willfully engages in judgmental discrimination.

That is the fuzziest of fuzzy logic.

I fully realize there are local groups of Scouts who think the ban on gay and atheist leaders is ridiculous. I get it and I appreciate it. I love that they’re working to bring about change from the inside, and I applaud their efforts. With their hard work, this backward and self-defeating policy will change and the Boy Scouts of America will take a page from the more inclusive and forward-thinking Girl Scouts, who long ago began to accept every one of its members.

However, until that day comes, I will not donate. And I will not allow my son to join.

To do so, in my eyes, is to condone a bigoted, hateful, and damaging policy that goes against everything I believe in and all the moral values I’m trying to instill in my boys. It’s the main reason I quit Scouts when I was a Webelo. And while Scouting has undeniably good qualities at the local level, those packs and troops are still part of a larger body that thinks gay people and non-believers aren’t fit to be good examples to children.

That’s especially damaging when you consider gay kids can now be Scouts, but once they turn 18 and want to continue their association with the organization as leaders, they cannot. Gay Scouts? Acceptable. Gay adult Scout leader? Potentially harmful and unfit for duty. What a difference a day makes.

Imagine being a boy in Scouts who begins to realize he’s gay. I’m sure it’s hard enough to come out as it is, but now imagine you’re a dedicated Scout who wants to one day lead a troop and continue giving to the organization you love so much. Knowing you can’t be a gay Scout leader once you turn 18, maybe you continue to keep your true self hidden. Suddenly you’re living a lie and failing to be true to yourself, all because the organization to which you’ve selflessly dedicated yourself won’t accept you. Why? Because you’re attracted to people of the same sex. As if that affects your ability to tie a knot or be a good person.

Think of the terrible message that sends, and now question whether or not you want to promote an organization that sends people into a shame spiral and doesn’t value who they are. Not me. No way.

No organization is perfect. But I need to at least be able to begin with a solid foundation that includes basic equality. Absent that very simple and necessary requirement, I can’t lend my support. And I’m certainly not going to voluntarily expose the most precious people in my life to it.

I’m also not going to stand here and be accused of discrimination when I’ve done nothing of the sort. Not wanting to fund homophobia and taking a stand for equal rights is not something for which I’ll ever be ashamed. Nor will I listen to people tell me I’m setting a bad example for my son. Once informed of the policy, Will told me he would never want to be part of something so unfair and unnecessarily cruel. That kind of compassion and willingness to take a stand for what’s right at such a young age is worth more than any merit badge he could ever earn.

Here’s hoping the Boy Scouts do what’s right at the national level and change this ridiculous policy. Once that’s done, I’m more than willing to lend my support. Just ask the Girl Scouts who have gotten rich selling me cookies.

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The Unfortunate Results of Overprotective Parenting

“Hey mom and dad, can I start walking the dog on the dirt road to do an extra chore and get a little more allowance?”

It was a perfectly reasonable question from my son, who is turning 7 in a couple of weeks. We live in a small suburban town where both my wife and I grew up. We are friendly with most of the neighbors, with one glaring exception. In order to walk the dog, he’d have to cross one quiet side street in front of our house and then walk on a dirt road with only one house on it. He’d be out of sight for a bit but still within shouting distance. In my mind it was a win-win because he’d learn the value of hard work and taking initiative, and he’d be getting some exercise to boot.

Which is why it’s ridiculously unfortunate we had to tell him no.

Why? Because as my wife pointed out, “I’m fine with it, but we can’t do it because someone will see him alone and call the cops. We’ll end up battling Child Protective Services just for letting him walk the dog by himself.”

I wanted to argue with her and tell her she was being silly, but I couldn’t. Because unfortunately, this is where we’re at when it comes to overprotective parenting in 2015.

Don’t believe me? Just ask the single working mom who was arrested for letting her 9-year-old play at a nearby park while she worked because she couldn’t afford childcare. Or Tammy Cooper, the Texas mom arrested after a neighbor told police she was neglecting her kids simply because they were outside on scooters. If you need something more recent, there’s the Maryland couple charged with “unsubstantiated child neglect” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) after doing nothing more than allowing their two children, 10 and 6, to walk home one mile from the park unsupervised.

Yet letting kids fire Uzis which results in a tragic death? Totally allowed and the parents are free from legal blame. Have fun trying to figure out that “logic.” But I digress.

As a child of the 80s/early 90s who grew up with the freedom to ride bikes around town unsupervised until the streetlights came flickering to life, I’m mystified as to where we went wrong and deviated so far off course. But then I read the online comments from said overprotective parents, and the answer is suddenly very apparent.

It’s all about fear and misinformation.

Without fail, when discussing this with other parents who disagree, I’ll see someone write “Well times have changed and the world isn’t as safe as it was back then.” Ironically, they’re not all wrong. Times have changed and the level of safety is not the same as it was in the supposed good old days. Want to know why? Because the world is a safer place in 2015.

Yes, that’s right. Statistically speaking, the data shows we are living in a much safer world than 20+ years ago.

Between 1993 and 2012, violent crime in the US declined by 48%, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Homicides fell by 51% and forcible rape was down by more than one-third. Furthermore, crimes against children specifically have declined since 2003. According to the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center, physical assault against children ages 2-17 was down 33%, while instances of attempted and completed rape declined by 43% between 2003-2011.

And if you want to focus on kidnappings, the Polly Klaas Foundation – a national nonprofit dedicated to the recovery of missing children – found there are only 100 stereotypical “stranger abductions” each year, in which a child is plucked off the street by an unknown person. There is a higher chance of kids being abducted by family members or acquaintances, according to the foundation’s website.

In fact, if you’re really worried about the safety of kids, you shouldn’t let them ride in a car. Or swim in a pool. Because more children die in car accidents and drownings than are kidnapped by strangers.

I used to simply shake my head at the overprotective parents of the world and go on raising my kids the way my wife and I think is best. But this incident has made me realize that’s not always possible.

We’ve moved beyond good Samaritans rescuing babies left in hot cars and scooping up toddlers who have found their way out of houses and are playing near traffic. Those kinds of things are not the problem, and are in fact expected as members of the human race. Too many kids are suffering real, terrible abuse and that must never be allowed to continue. However, the irrational fear of the way other people parent and the willingness to alert the authorities simply for disagreeing with a parenting style other than their own, is also a genuine concern.

The Maryland parents know their kids best and know they’re capable of walking to the park alone, just as I know my son can handle walking the dog by himself. But the bottom line is that no longer matters, because the way other people parent is now directly impacting my ability to raise my children how I see fit. Because if parents 300 miles from me can be charged simply for letting their kids walk to and from the park, it is not a stretch to think the same thing could happen if my son walks the dog alone.

Unfortunately, our lives could be turned instantly upside down with one phone call from someone who simply disagrees with how we parent. That’s not right, and that scares me. It should scare all of us.

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The 11 Most Obnoxious Internet Commenters

Image: FLICKR/babbletrish
Ima?ge: FLICKR/babbletrish (license)

Internet trolls. I hate them. And yet I’m habitually guilty of feeding them.

I’m not proud of it. OK, I’m a little proud of it. Sometimes. But after seven years of writing about controversial topics online, I can say with complete certainty I’m exhausted by Internet trolls and the terrible (yet inevitable) kinds of people who lurk (mostly anonymously) in the dreaded comments section. The ones who you think can’t possibly be that stupid or misguided, yet manage to surprise you every time. The people who have you wondering whether the human race is ultimately doomed. The people you wish would come out of their mom’s basement long enough for you to shine the light of truth and righteousness on them while they scurry back under their bridges. Hopefully without an Internet connection.

I’m not going to list every single one of them.

For instance, I’m leaving off the Grammar Cop because, well, I am one. And despite all of your bitching and moaning, the difference between their, there, and they’re IS that important! Instead, I’m focusing on the big ones. The large, hairy, nasty, atrocious, obnoxious, festering types you find in the comments section, who make you mad enough to kick kittens and punt puppies.

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to document them here, but without further ado, here is my list of the 11 worst types of internet commenters. Also, I’m alternating between male and female pronouns lest you think Internet trolls are limited to one sex only.

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11. All Caps
An oldie for sure, but still as obnoxious now as when he first honed his craft in AOL chat rooms 20 years ago. If you’re unfamiliar, using all caps online is known as “shouting.” And unfortunately, many people think they can stop losing an argument BY TYPING IN ALL CAPS TO MAKE THE POINT THAT THEY ARE RIGHT BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY THE LOUDEST PERSON ALWAYS WINS THE ARGUMENT NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!! These poor souls don’t realize their stupid, vile comments are no more acceptable or correct just because everything is capitalized.

10. Only Reads the Headline
I once wrote a piece titled “Frozen Turned My Son Gay.” Spoiler alert: Frozen didn’t really turn my son gay. Cinderella did. You see? That’s me using a forgotten and frequently misunderstood tool called sarcasm, to prove how ridiculous it is that some bigots out there were claiming a movie had the power and capability to affect a child’s sexuality. But you would only have known that by, you know, actually reading the article instead of merely a five-word headline. It’s stunningly sad this has to be said in 2015, but it’s important to read the thing on which you’re planning to comment.

9. Link Spammer
This jerk doesn’t have the time to personally educate you as to all the reasons you’re wrong. So instead of making her case, she’s going to send you links. Lots and lots of them. Here’s a link to this study, here’s another link to this guy’s academic research paper, and here’s another to a blog post she wrote in which she referenced more studies with more links. She knows no one has time to read them all, so she’s going to maintain she proved her point with the links but you’re too lazy to read them so you must be wrong. It’s the online equivalent of blinding people with paperwork so they get distracted and give up.

8. The Hitler Guy
The one troll I automatically dismiss and refuse to engage any further is “the Hitler guy.” Simply put, he’s the one who winds up comparing everything to Hitler and Nazi Germany.  It’s Godwin’s Law – “the theory that as an online discussion progresses, it becomes inevitable that someone or something will eventually be compared to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis, regardless of the original topic.” Against gun control? You know the Nazis limited weapons, right? Did your town ban trans fats? What is this, Nazi Germany? Unhappy with the teachers union? Clearly they’re the educational gestapo. Do not engage the Hitler guy and try to shut him down. Wanna know why? Because that’s exactly what the Nazis would do!!!

7. All Memes, All the Time
This person has no words. However, she has amassed a library of memes and uses them religiously during arguments. Because responding to valid criticism with pictures of Grumpy Cat and Willy Wonka really drives your point home.

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6. Captain Politics/Blame Obama
You could be talking about butterflies and rainbows, but “Captain Politics” will find a way to turn the conversation political and divisive. And, of course, it’s always capped off by blaming President Obama. Because rainbows are gay and butterflies are traditionally thought of as symbols of change, which means Obama is clearly trying to push his liberal agenda of gayness in an attempt to weaken the state of Christianity in this country because he’s really a Muslim who is NOT EVEN FROM HERE!

5. The Racist/Homophobe/Misogynist
These are easy to spot. Just look for a string of insensitive and disgusting slurs complete with terrible grammar and lots of misspellings. As a bonus, you can Grammar Police their nonsense and point out how stupid they are afterward — a trolling of the trolls so to speak — which does bring out more of their idiocy, but makes you feel better as well. So it’s a wash.

4. The Martyr
This is one of my favorites to hate on, because they really don’t see their own stupidity. This gal’s calling card will be terms like “Well I’m entitled to my opinion” and “You’re trying to take away my freedom of speech just because I disagree with you.” What this person doesn’t realize is since she just spewed her unbelievably terrible opinion, she demonstrated her freedom of speech which is very much intact. Furthermore, she also can’t see that while she is free to have an opinion, she is not immune from the fallout of stating said opinion. These trolls either don’t know or don’t care that while freedom of speech means they won’t be put in jail for projectile vomiting their filth in public, they are absolutely and unequivocally responsible for facing the consequences of those words. But rather than face up to them, they cry foul and claim they’re the ones being bullied. Because they’re stupid.

3. The Purveyor of Non-reliable Information
This is The Link Spammer’s dumber, more dangerous cousin. He finds something on the Internet that validates his preexisting opinion on a topic, and he runs with it. He publishes it on Facebook with an incendiary diatribe methodically listing out all the problems and the ways in which is is wrong. WRONG I SAY!! The only problem? It’s not true. Because it’s from an extremist website that literally makes shit up. The reason I say he’s “dangerous” is because too many people don’t bother checking their sources, which is how this misinformation winds up spreading like a disease all over social media. Bonus points when this clown becomes infuriated over a completely fictitious piece of made up satirical news, a la The Onion.

2. I Don’t Care/I’m Done With This Conversation
These people might be my favorite of the bunch. They’ll emphatically state they don’t care, and they’ll leave comments such as “No one gives a shit about any of this!” Right. Because the best way to show you don’t care about something is taking time out of your busy day to write a comment and post it online. That’ll show ’em, Tiger. Then, when you call them out and they’ve “not cared” for eight or nine more comments, they’ll publicly announce they’re leaving and they’re done with this because they have better things to do. Newsflash: they care and they don’t have anything better to do. Because people who don’t care don’t bother, and people who want to leave just leave. They don’t stick around and belabor the point for 53 more comments.

1. There Are More Important Things
“This is what you care about? Out of all the things happening in the world, you’re arguing about this?” Holy hell, for the love of Pete, shut your mouth with this crap! In my opinion, this is the single dumbest comment anyone on the Internet can make. Why? Because of course there are more important things. No one is saying otherwise. But by their “logic,” all any of us should be discussing is The. Most. Important. Thing. But, ummm…what is the most important thing? And who gets to decide that? Is it world hunger? Cancer? Sex trafficking? War? Look, just because something isn’t the most important thing, doesn’t mean it’s not important. Right now hundreds of dad bloggers are trying to honor our friend Oren Miller, who recently died of cancer, by getting Amazon to change it’s diaper subscription service from Amazon Mom to Amazon Family (sign the petition, please). Is this the most pressing issue the world is facing? No. Is it important to us and involved fatherhood? Absolutely. So we’re focusing on it. And many of us are doing it as we simultaneously support initiatives to end hunger, the gender wage gap, and other huge issues. So knock off this crap about “don’t you have more important things to do?” There are enough issues for all of us to focus on, you sanctimonious boobs.

So, that’s my list. Did I miss any?

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