The new justification for expressing extreme anti-gay views is freedom of religion. Bob Eschliman, a news editor for the Newton Daily News in Iowa, was fired for writing what his employers considered a homophobic blog.
Bob Eschliman is a Christian who condemned a gay-friendly version of the Bible in a blog post. Eschliman's criticism of the "Queen James Bible" website led to his firing. He is now suing the newspaper for infringing on his First Amendment rights.
In an op-ed article at FoxNews.com, Todd Starnes quotes the president of Shaw Media responded to the challenge - "The First Amendment does not eliminate responsibility and accountability for one's words and actions."
An attorney siding with the fired editor said, "No one should be fired for simply expressing their religious beliefs," and the newspaper will be approached like a "pit bull going after a pork chop."
As the battle to ban same-sex marriage based on American tradition is being lost, the new battleground seems to be invoking religious freedom to condemn gays from a position in the workplace. Complicating the issue is that fact the Eschliman made the anti-gay comments in a personal blog.
Does an employer have the right to fire an employee who makes comments in a personal blog or conversation that the employer feels reflects negatively on the company? The other question that is being asked across the country is whether or not religious freedom is legal justification for refusing service to gays and lesbians.
There should be no question that the First Amendment protects the freedom to express religious beliefs, but there is a lingering question about what society considers acceptable. Societal norms do change over time. What was acceptable in the past concerning racial discrimination is no longer acceptable today. The use of the N-word, which in past was part of everyday conversation, is no longer considered acceptable. The fear that changing norms will lead to the collapse of America is completely unfounded because this country has changed over time.
If religious freedom protects an employee making comments that are not acceptable to a growing segment of the population, then would the same religious freedom allow an employee to promote an extreme pro-Islam stance or positive views about worshipping Satan?
In most cases, extreme pro-Islamic views or promoting Satanic beliefs would be considered out-of-sync with current-day America – but in the interest of not being hypocritical – would not the same justification of religious freedom be used to demand tolerance of other those views?
For the record – I am in no way drawing any comparison between Islam and Satan – but both represent a degree of extremism in the context of America today.
Hidden in much of the criticism of gay and lesbian rights is the message that America is a Christian nation and even extreme Christian beliefs are the exception.
The beauty of the Constitution is that it allows for an evolving American society to change. Technically, extreme anti-gay views ARE protected by the First Amendment – but society maintains the right to judge how Americans use the precious right.
Like many Americans, I suffer from P.I.D. - "political identity disorder!"
While it's easy for some Americans to define themselves as conservative or liberal – there are many Americans who no longer fit into either political category.
Because of my opinions on many issues, I have been called a "liberal" - as if that is a derogatory term. A few have accused me of being a "conservative" – also with negative connotations.
Here's the problem – I believe in reducing and maintaining a smaller government. I do not support an increase in taxes to fix problems. I support less government involvement in the lives of individuals and believe in the power of the individual – not government – to make personal decisions. I support gun rights and often talk about how new gun control laws will not stop the violence that threatens citizens across this country daily. I strongly oppose our system that has encouraged and perpetrated a mentality of making a career out of having babies. And I believe in personal accountability – individuals being held responsible for their behavior without looking for any reason to blame someone or something else for negative behavior. Doesn't that make me sound like a conservative?
But I also support the legalization of marijuana, immigration reform – including making it easy for illegal immigrants who were brought to this country by their parents and have contributed to this country to become full citizens. I support same-sex marriage and that is based on my belief that individuals should have the power to make decisions that impact and define their personal lives. I am pro-life, but pro-choice because I do not think it is appropriate for me to make decisions concerning a woman's body. There are many pro-choice Americans who passionately oppose abortion – but their opposition may waver if the decision involved their teenage daughter.
So, what am I – a conservative – a liberal - or an American suffering from P.I.D. "political identity disorder?" And what are you?
The convenient term for those Americans who do not define themselves as conservative or liberal is "moderate." But being called a "moderate" has come to mean someone who "sits on the fence" – "a spineless individual who has not strong convictions on political and social issues."
Like many Americans, I have a strong conviction about every issue and I am willing to take a stance and defend it – but I am not accepted as a conservative or a liberal because my convictions are not consistent with either political ideology. I have often described myself as a "radical moderate" – implying that I'm not conservative or liberal – but I am an individual with definite convictions. I am also willing to vote for the best candidate and I do not judge candidates by the color or their political party – I judge them by the content of their character.
And why shouldn't other Americans who are "radical moderates" come out of the closet and be proud to admit they are not conservative or liberal?
There should be greater acceptance of the many Americans who suffer from P.I.D. "political identity disorder."
The top 5 happiest cities in America are in Louisiana, according to data from a paper by a Harvard professor, a Harvard student and a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics. Seven Louisiana cites are in the top 20 – New Orleans ranks 59 out of 60.
Here are the top 5 happiest cities in America:
1. Lafayette, LA
2. Houma, LA
3. Shreveport-Bossier City, LA
4. Baton Rouge, LA
5. Alexandria, LA
With the exception of Shreveprot-Bossier City, all of the other cities have been influenced by Cajun culture. And we all know that Cajuns know how to enjoy daily life in its most simple form.
Lake Charles ranked 8th, Monroe 17th and New Orleans was 59th. Does this mean that people living in smaller cities are happier than people living in larger cities? The 5 unhappiest cities include Erie, PA, St. Joseph, MO and South Bend, IN, and none them would be considered big cities.
When I have traveled and driven through smaller towns, I have often thought that people in those towns were happier than people in big cities. I thought that people in smaller cities were somehow protected from the hassles and problems of city life – but I'm sure there's more to it than that.
I do love living in downtown New Orleans, but when I lived on the North Shore a few times – I worked in New Orleans and still felt part of a big city. The closest I have come to living in a small town was when I lived in North Bend, WA – a small town about 35 miles east of Seattle. It was a quaint town, but since much of the population commuted to Seattle, North Bend was no different than the North Shore. The experience of living in a smaller city can only be truly realized if you actually live and work in that city. Commuting makes you part of the city you commute too.
I have always enjoyed when a trip takes me off the Interstate and directly through small town America. As I drive through a small town I think about how life is more simple and less stressful. Smaller towns offer a refuge from the concentration of a big city's population and all of the problems that go along with that – traffic, parking or just running errands.
Part of the benefit of living in a smaller city is physical – less people – but the other part is psychological – it's attitude. In a smaller city, people are more familiar with each other and therefore, would probably be friendlier. While there is violence everywhere, there is less tension between people in a smaller city and it is tension and competition that often leads to violence. These are the things that create the mentality and attitude of living in a small city.
When a faithful listener of the show, Ms. Donna, got very sick and I drove to Houma frequently over a 2-week period, I fantasized about living in a smaller town. I thought about the living in a close-knit community. And that made me think about how I could apply the attitude of living in a small town to my life living in busy downtown New Orleans.
Since part of the benefit of living in a small city is attitude – it would be ideal if those of us who live in a highly populated urban area would try to adopt the mentality of those who live in a small town.
Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me.
"Small Town" by John Mellencamp
The problem is that too many of us have been driven to opportunities in a big town and could not survive in a small town. But that doesn't mean we don't appreciate what life is like living in a small town!
According to new research, stress can be contagious! When in the presence of someone who is stressing – you can become stressed. That means we can all be negatively affected by "secondhand stress!"
Michele Many, Assistant Professor of clinical psychiatry at the LSU School of Medicine, is quoted as saying, "If we can sense each other's stress level, each other's anxiety, then we can be more responsive and helpful to each other." Professor Many says that because we tend to be empathic towards others – we can even be affected by the stress of strangers.
At home, at work or anyplace – don't you find yourself affected by the stress of others? The research shows that men and women are equally affected by "secondhand stress."
There was a time when no one was concerned about "secondhand smoke." I grew up in a household where both of my parents smoked – at home – in the car with the windows rolled up – and I worked with people who smoked in the same studio I was in. No one thought anything about "secondhand smoke."
Have we reached a turning point with "secondhand stress?" If this is further accepted and supported by research – then why not apply new rules and regulations to those people who choose to stress? Businesses could ban "stressing" in the workplace. Employees who stress would be required to take "stress breaks" and go outside to stress. Then we would see groups of people standing outside of businesses "stressing!"
Why should those of us who choose not to stress be exposed to the stress of others? The anti-stress campaign could include warnings of the negative impact that stress has on our lives. Parents would be encouraged to never stress in front of their children.
The campaign to protect Americans from "secondhand stress" would ban stressing in restaurants and even in bars and nightclubs. People who choose to stress would be seen as second-class citizens and criticized for their stress habit.
Soon - people would be trying to convince their friends and loved ones to stop stressing because of the negative effects of stressing. Some would say they couldn't live with or date anyone who stressed.
And there would be the ultimate debate over whether to ban stressing in all public areas. Should anyone be exposed to people stressing if they are just trying to have a good time at a local park?
The more I think about how successful bans on smoking have been due to the effects of secondhand smoke – I can't help but thing about all the good that would result from a ban on stressing in the workplace, at home and even in public places!
If you want to stress – it's legal – but that's your business. But you shouldn't have a right to stress around me!
Right wing radio talk show host Bill Frady says that conservatives are criticizing the shooting of comic book star Archie, who took a bullet saving the life of his gay political friend who supports gun control.
Frady hosts the syndicated radio show, "The Lock and Load Radio Show," and he has a representative pushing interviews of him on the shooting of Archie.
Is anyone really taking time to express outrage over Archie, getting shot while trying to save a gay politician who supports gun control? Yes – a conservative talk show host is!
Supporters of both political parties react hysterically to any thought that their side of the culture war in America is under attack. A pro-gun advocate who is promoting himself as a viable source of information over the shooting of a comic book character is laughable! And yet – there are many who will rally around this call for condemnation of a liberal agenda message in a comic book.
I am not a comic book fan. Even as a kid, I never read comic books. But I cannot imagine any negative effect from a comic book carrying a politically sensitive message. Does Bill Frady, or anyone, really believe that the comic book "Life with Archie" is going to tip the scales in the debate over gun control and gay rights? Condemnation of Archie suggests that "Life with Archie" has the power to sway public opinion. That may sound absurd, but that is exactly what this conservative radio talk show host is promoting.
Who reads "Life with Archie?" With the diverse selection of hand-held computer-driven entertainment, it would be hard to believe that "Archie" is being used as part of the liberal propaganda machine to brainwash America!
I often talk and write about the hysteria that erupts over many issues. Gun control and gay rights are two of the issues that seem to invite inane panic.
To right wing radio host Bill Frady and anyone else who is concerned about the negative impact of the story about "Archie" getting shot and saving the life of a gay gun control advocate – let me put your fragile minds at ease – IT'S JUST A COMIC BOOK!!!
The highly publicized death of 51-year-old Google executive, Forrest Hayes, is raising questions about wealthy, successful men and upscale prostitutes.
High-priced prostitute, Alix Tichelman, 26, has been charged with the murder of Forrest Hayes aboard his 50-foot yacht. Hayes died from an apparent heroin overdose, and the young female he was apparently paying for sex is accused of administering a lethal injection of the drug.
Prostitution among rich executives is not uncommon. With busy schedule and very little time for their personal lives, some executives find it practical to pay for sex from upscale prostitutes, and that occurs more under the radar of society than hookers on the street.
The website SeekingArrangement.com is used by men seeking to pay for physical intimacy with attractive females, but it is also used by young females who are willing to trade their companionship for money – sometimes big money! One young female user of the website admits that she has made connections with men willing to pay her a regular allowance for her companionship, and that is funding her college education.
Is the practice of men paying attractive women for their companionship and sex much different from an attractive young woman dating or marrying a man because he has money? Is spending money on a lavish, expensive date with the assumption of sex at the end of the night essentially a form of prostitution? Is there any real difference between a young female who dates or marries for money and a prostitute? Many high-class prostitutes develop emotional bonds with the men that pay for their services – does that blur the line between prostitues and those who date and marry for money?
Money buys sex and attractive companionship. That may be an ugly truth that is conveniently ignored or denied by those who participate, but it is the truth. Of course, there are younger, attractive women who honestly fall in love with rich, older men and vice versa – but there is little doubt that in many cases, money has paid for sex and a companion, and yet, that is not considered prostitution.
Transcending age and financial status across mainstream America, there has been the expectation of sex at the end of the night and many males – younger and older – spend money on dates with the idea that sex is part of the date. Even though this is unspoken – does it not fit the definition of prostitution?
Throughout our culture the wealthy are treated differently. The street hooker with drugs is more harshly condemned by society than the high-class prostitute who is paid handsomely for her sexual service to a wealthy executive.
In the case of Google executive Forrest Hayes, the only apparent difference between his prostitute with drugs and a prostitute with drugs walking the street is her fee.
If consenting adults agree to exchange sex for money – whether it is an obvious exchange, or the more subtle exchange of an expensive date – should that be of concern to our society?
The original "Planet of the Apes" (1968) opens with an American spacecraft crash-landing on what is believed to be another planet, where humans are considered savage animals and apes rule the world. The audience was stunned by the ending, when there is a scene with the top part of the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the shoreline. That meant the American astronauts had actually been on Earth in the future – when apes ruled the land.
Each of the "Planet of the Apes" movies since 1968 have had profound messages, and the newest sequel, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," had several strong messages about humankind.
With the intense sensitivity over the gun rights/gun control debate in America, I was shocked that I didn't read about what I saw as a powerful anti-gun message in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." It was an anti-gun message, but it was really more about how humans use and need guns, rather than a promotion of stricter gun control.
In "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," the majority of the human population has been wiped out by a simian virus. After lab experiments advanced the ape brain, some apes escaped and formed a civilized society in the forest outside of San Francisco.
A small colony of humans that had been living near the decimated San Francisco ventures into the forest in an attempt to restart a power plant to restore limited power to the city. On their mission into the forest, the humans encounter the apes, and are stunned by their ability to communicate and even talk. The apes are shocked and threatened by the presence of humans.
The fear and distrust the apes and the humans have for each other is a metaphor for current-day tensions between groups. However, the apes were more civilized than the humans. The apes claimed that apes do not kill apes the same way humans kill humans.
A test of the apes' civility came early in the story when a human shoots and kills a young ape. The very sound of a gunshot was so foreign to the society of apes that they immediately reacted with fear of humans with guns threatening their world. Some of the apes demanded revenge and expressed disdain for the humans, and the humans became fearful of the possibility of an ape invasion, while other apes tried to promote a peaceful coexistence. The apes lived by the creed that humans kill each other – and apes do not.
When a human says to another that just the sight of apes makes him sick to his stomach, the audience is immediately drawn into the judgment that is so palpable in today's world.
"Dawn" vividly illustrates many of the flaws in humans. What stood out to me was the obvious need humans had for guns, and how much the humans were in awe of the apes that could exist and function as a society without guns. This was a strong anti-gun message – but it was not about controlling the sale of guns as much as it was about the need humans have for guns, and our willingness to use guns against each other.
In order to protect their society, the apes did invade the human colony in San Francisco, which was a set actually built on Common St. near Tulane Ave. in New Orleans.
It was also interesting to pick up who was to blame for the world as it existed in the movie. Some of the apes that had been in research facilities and were the subjects of experiments by humans were still bitter and resentful and wanted revenge against the humans. Some of the humans blamed the apes for the virus that destroyed most of humanity.
The ape that had been held in research captivity obtained a gun from the humans, and shot the ape that promoted peace with humans. I can think of numerous people who have been shot because they stood for peace. That particular ape acted like a human.
While there were some apes that hated humans because they had been the subjects of experiments, the general message was that humans do not forgive – apes were more compassionate.
The sets were outstanding – as were the effects and the make-up, which gave a distinct look to each of the primary ape characters. I admit that I am not a sci-fi junkie, but "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" was so well executed that I was engaged from the opening moments of the movie.
Sci-fi fans will love "Dawn," but the sci-fi ambience does not distract from the amazing human story and message. "Dawn" is about how humans need guns. It's about hate, forgiveness and love. It's about seeing others who are different for who they are – not what they are. I walked out of the movie inspired by the story and message, but sad that it accurately defined the evil side of humanity.
A symbolic scene in the film showed an infant ape bonding with humans and it was obvious that the message was that the ape had not yet learned to fear humans – he was not prejudiced.
Another strong message emanated from the apes ability to be happy without electricity and modern technology. The humans needed power and the apes realized that being able to live without power and technology made them stronger than the humans.
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" was entertaining – but presented compelling messages about human flaws. Humans murder each other – animals do not. Humans hate – animals do not. Humans instinctively seek revenge against one another – animals do not.
The most powerful message of the movie is that humans should be more like animals – less hateful, less judgmental, less in need of guns to maintain a civilized society and less in need of technology to be happy.
So the next time someone says you are "acting like an animal" – take it as a compliment!
NBA star LeBron James announced he is returning home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. When LeBron left Cleveland for Miami, many Cavaliers fans felt like he was turning his back on the city in his home state. Not only did LeBron leave Cleveland, but he did it in grandiose style with what seemed like an impersonal announcement on national television.
LeBron is now going home to Cleveland and Cavs fans started honking their car horns and celebrating upon hearing the news! Cleveland is welcoming back the prodigal son. Imagine if Drew Brees left the Saints to play for another team and then returned to the Saints? Any animosity toward Drew would turn to elation with the news that Drew was returning to the Black and Gold.
In announcing his decision to return to Cleveland, LeBron talked about his love for his home state and how it was important for him to go home. When he left Cleveland for Miami, it appeared that money and the chance of winning NBA championships were more important than hometown loyalty. Even though the Cavs are now a young team with great promise, it does seem that LeBron has come to a point in his life and his career when being home is important.
When I moved back to New Orleans a few years ago, I understood that being home was important and special. I left New Orleans in 1996 because the station I worked for was changing formats and I no longer had a job. Since there were no immediate career opportunities in the market – I hired an agent and that led to a offer in Philadelphia. From Philly, I went to Miami then Seattle, Portland and onto Denver. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to move around the country and live in really great American cities. But I realized that none of those wonderful cities were home.
After the experience of living in some amazing cities, I have come to appreciate many things about New Orleans that I didn't appreciate as much before I moved. I always loved New Orleans and was proud to be from this city, but there were things about living in New Orleans that I didn't fully appreciate.
The food in New Orleans is exceptional! There is good food in every city, but there are many things that are unique about the flavorings and the preparation of our food. Our food has a personality that reflects the personality of our culture.
While I saw beautiful oceans, rivers and snow-capped mountains in other cities, I have come to be just as impressed by the natural beauty of New Orleans and Louisiana. The French Quarter is both historic and exciting and is captured in time. When I'm driving the I-10 and 310 I now pay attention to the incredible beauty of the moss dripping from the Cyprus trees in the swamps. Any trip through the bayou communities of South Louisiana is a reminder of the authenticity of this part of the country. I live downtown and everyday I realize I am in a city that is one of the world's best tourist destinations – and it's my home!
Yes, you can go back home! If you have moved away from your home and had the opportunity to return, you know what I felt when I moved back to New Orleans and what LeBron James will feel when he moves back to Cleveland.
With much to compare it to – I understand what is meant by "there's no place like home!"
Republicans and President Obama using the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. border was part of our discussion last night on "The Scoot Show" on WWL, and today that became the focus of much of the daytime programming on CNN. As the crisis continues and with both parties blaming each other for the human tragedy, more Americans are beginning to pay attention to the embarrassing nature of politics today in America.
This is a time when we should refuse to applaud those fighting for our political beliefs and we should demand that politicians, on both sides, work together to find a solution. It seems more important to the political parties to use the crisis to promote their agendas, rather than appear willing to solve the problem.
There is much Americans can learn from those who are willing to make the long, dangerous trip to the United States. We cannot take care of everyone who wants to come to America, but it is the ultimate compliment of this country – especially considering the life-threatening trip that must be endured with no guarantee of arrival in this country.
When I see the families and especially the young, unaccompanied children desperately trying to come to this country, I think about the things we take for granted and how we, as a nation, complain that things aren't perfect.
We complain about the state of our school system, the price of food and gas, crime, our justice system and numerous other concerns that arise daily. Compared to what so much of the world deals with in life – we have it made! And the depth of our complaining suggests a feeling that we – as Americans – are entitled to a perfect life.
As we witness the daily exodus of so many desperate people trying to make it to America, we should be more appreciative of what we do have. If we did more to work together to fix our schools, watch our neighborhoods, be parents, buy what we need and stop wasting so much food – this country will change. But it is the political divide – fed by the media and in particular, the talk media that represents political extremes – that prevents us from focusing on changing rather than complaining.
This is America and we have a right to use our freedom of speech to complain – but when the complaining turns into political battles and is celebrated as a game of who won and who lost – we are not appreciating all that this country represents.
As I wrote in the previous blog – we encourage politicians to make a game out of controversies and tragedies because we take sides. The best message we can send to politicians – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – is that as Americans and as humans – we demand that they do the jobs they were elected to do which is act in the best interest of the American people and not in the best interest of the party. We should expect politicians to work together to find a solution to the border crisis – and every crisis we face.
We can now only wonder how great this country would be if we used our energy to change rather than complain.
A humanitarian crisis continues at the U.S. border with the influx of thousands of illegal immigrants – many are unaccompanied children. President Obama and Republican lawmakers are blaming each other's party for the crisis.
Today, President Obama was in Dallas on a fund-raising trip for Democratic candidates, but also participated in a roundtable discussion on the crisis that included Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who seems to be trying to improve his national credentials for a possible presidential run in 2016.
Pleasing many Republicans, Gov. Perry initially rejected an invitation to greet President Obama as he arrived at the airport but wound up doing so anyway. Perry said that he was only interested in a meaningful discussion about the crisis on the border of Texas and other southwestern states.
The President is asking for $3.7 billion in funds to help deal with the countless illegal immigrants coming to America. Over 9,700 children have been taken into custody since May and there are no signs the migration to American will ease. The children are being sent to America to escape the growing violence and poverty in Central American countries.
Members of both parties have called for President Obama to visit the borders most effected by the latest surge of illegal immigrants, and with the President arriving in Dallas, about 500 miles from the border, the calls for President Obama to visit the border have grown louder.
The White House said the President and his officials are being kept up-to-date on the latest developments along the border, and there were no plans to visit the area.
Is the White House saying that the President only makes trips to disaster areas when his presence is actually needed, rather than to make a symbolic gesture by witnessing the crisis first-hand? If so, then how can they justify all the other trips Obama has made to disaster areas – like Louisiana after Isaac or even New Jersey following Sandy?
I have often argued that presidents from both parties use disasters as photo opportunities to give Americans the impression of a hands-on approach to the problem. In reality, a president can be in touch with any situation from the White House. Much of presidential travel is for show.
While the President's physical presence at the border will not alter the immediate crisis, Obama should make the visit, and not do so while on a fund-raising trip in a state feeling the full impact of the crisis. Doing so would make the President seem even more disconnected.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is also a host on the Fox News Channel and a possible Republican contender in 2016, compared President Obama's lack of response to the immigration crisis to President Bush's delay in visiting New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.
Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said the Administration is way behind on this crisis, as the problem continues to worsen. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that all of the children should be sent back to their families, and any country that fails to do more to prevent illegals from coming to America should lose foreign aid from the U.S.
The fact that the sudden increase in illegal immigrants coming to America includes so many unaccompanied children magnifies the humanitarian aspect of the crisis. Though both parties are playing politics and using innocent children as pawns in their game – the idea of parents giving up their children and sending them to America for the promise of a better life, and the children making what must have been a scary trip alone should tug at the hearts of every American citizen who has been blessed to be born in America.
It is not easy to move to another city as an adult, and I have had my share of those experiences. But it is even more difficult to move as a child, and imagine doing so without a parent and moving to a country where you don't know anyone and don't even speak the language.
To fully appreciate what that reality is like – imagine conditions being so bad where you live that you were willing to say "goodbye" to your children, and sending them to a foreign land alone with the hope that they will have a better life, and knowing you will probably never see them again, or even know what happened as a result of your painful decision.
I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that as the greatest country in the world, we should be able to figure out a solution without using innocent children in a high-stakes game of politics.
As citizens who are often willing to takes political sides, we should show our appreciation for being Americans by resisting both parties who also use us to play their game. We should only demand that a solution is found and it doesn't matter whether the Republicans, the Obama Administration or both work together to find a humanitarian solution to this crisis.
Sometimes we must reject the "game of politics" when it takes advantage of humans – especially innocent children.
When I heard that Pink Floyd would be releasing a new album in October, I thought about how exciting the news is for Pink Floyd fans – but I also thought about the bands that will never reunite to do anything new.
I will never forget the feeling I had when John Lennon was murdered in 1980. I was doing a morning radio show and had gone to bed early the night news of Lennon's death was announced. Breaking news did not travel as fast in 1980 and there was no social media. I remember being alone on a dark sidewalk downtown about to go into the radio station when I picked up a newspaper to see on the front page that John Lennon had been killed outside of his apartment building in New York City.
There had been growing talk of a possible reunion of The Beatles and though it was unlikely – the possibility of The Beatles getting back together died when John Lennon died. My thoughts focused on the finality of The Beatles – a band that my generation grew up with and a band that had a major impact on our lives and society. I felt something from my life had been lost.
When Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, I thought about the loss that would mean to a new young generation that was, in part, defined by the music of Nirvana. By committing suicide, Kurt Cobain robbed an entire generation of experiencing how he would have musically evolved as they matured.
As I watched The Cure at Voodoo Fest last year, I imagined how important is was for fans of the band to watch Robert Smith and The Cure sounding – and for the most part – looking like they did in the 80s and 90s.
As a member of the Baby Boomer generation, I find comfort in knowing that many of the bands I grew up with and was playing on the radio during my early years as a young disc jockey in New Orleans are still performing today. The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith and the upcoming reunion concert of Crosby, Stills and Nash give a sense of security for the generations that can mature, but still experience the comfort of the music that was the soundtrack of their lives.
It is sad when any performer dies at an early age, but it seems particularly sad when young generations are robbed of experiencing how their music trailblazers would adopt to changing times. Kurt Cobain represented the most significant change in the direction of pop music since The Beatles and the British Invasion. I would love to hear what Kurt would be writing today and how we would be relating to the generation his music helped define.
When I watch the music video for the Justin Timberlake song, "Love Never Felt So Good," and I see the innovative dancing of Michael Jackson, I realize that Michael Jackson will not be around to continue to mature with the many generations he touched. And would he still be inventing new dance moves?
With the announcement that the legendary Pink Floyd will be releasing a new album in October – what band would you love to see come back and do something new? Or, just reunite to tour again? And what band are you most sorry will never reunite?
Every large crowd that takes over our city for a major event has a collective personality and attitude, and since I live in the heart of the area where visitors stay and party, I usually get a strong sense of the crowds that temporarily dominate downtown and the French Quarter.
The preconceived impressions of the annual influx of the Essence Festival crowd to New Orleans are definite. Many react to the Essence Fest crowd being in town by saying, "Well, I'm not going downtown this weekend!" And the promise to avoid downtown during Essence goes beyond the traffic and the city and the crowds – many express concern about the attitude of the crowd itself.
I have always been honest about what I see and experience in my neighborhood. I have been honest on the air about a different "element" in the French Quarter over the past 6 months or so. And I will be honest about the crowd that was in town for Essence Fest this past weekend.
As expected, downtown and the French Quarter were packed with visitors in town for Essence Fest. As I walked down Bourbon Street and through the streets of the CBD, I was bumped into often, and in almost every case the person said, "Oh, I'm sorry!" It was a very polite and courteous crowd.
Legal parking spots were rare and coveted throughout the downtown area, and one night I found a perfect spot on a corner. After getting out of the car, I realized I could have parked closer to the curb so I got back in the car and someone turned the corner and pulled up behind me thinking that I was about to pull out. Quite often there is great frustration when it's realized the person is not actually leaving the parking spot you were hoping to get. When I got out of the car signaled that I was not leaving and the person in the car that had pulled up behind me waiting for me to leave just smiled and waved when he realized I was not leaving. That was a different reaction than I've gotten from many others who displayed total frustration over the fact that I was not leaving.
There were numerous incidents of politeness with people on the sidewalks and people in cars. The Essence Fest crowd merged Friday night, July 4th, with thousands of locals who ventured downtown to see another spectacular fireworks display on the river and everyone seemed to get along. I sensed no tension.
Obviously, there were the usual few rowdy individuals, but I couldn't tell if they were in town for Essence Fest, or locals who came in for the fireworks display on the river, or maybe just the regular French Quarter partiers. But the overwhelming feeling with the Essence Fest crowd in town was one of polite people who were thrilled to be in New Orleans and were here to have a good time. And they apparently did!
Often negative impressions are based on preconceived stereotypes, rather than real life experiences. The Essence Fest crowd was well-dressed with a great attitude and we will continue to embrace their annual visit to New Orleans.
Rush to judgment on the basis of stereotypes was flawed in the initial blame for the Bourbon Street shooting and in the initial defense of the Georgia father who left 22-month-old son to die in his hot car.
If you rushed to negatively judge the character of the Essence Fest crowd – you have learned another lesson about how rush to judgment is wrong!
If you were downtown or in the French Quarter over the weekend – did you have a good experience? Post your opinions on our Facebook page or send an email to Scoot@WWL.com.
Two recent tragic stories in the news remind us how the public is quick to rush to judgment.
As I talked about the Bourbon Street shooting on WWL, I described an element in the French Quarter that I have seen become more predominant over the past 6 months. I received texts and emails from some listeners harshly criticizing me for being politically correct and referring to an "element" rather than telling the "truth" that is was "young black males" who committed the crime. My response to the criticism was, first, we don't know who the shooters are and second, what difference does it make if they were black – the crime was still committed. Why would was blaming young black males important?
The rush to judgment that the shooters in the French Quarter were black fits the convenient stereotyping of many white Americans who find their own comfort in blaming "those people." That exonerates their community and makes it someone else's problem. The fact that a disproportionate number of young black males are perpetrators and victims seems to support the claim that crime i a "black problem." But defining crime as a "black problem" wrongly blames skin color for criminal mentality, which is a ridiculously false assumption. The greatest concentration of the crime problem may exist in the black community – but that does not make it a "black problem."
The mentality that leads to violence is the direct result of a culture of non-parenting, a general lack of understanding love and the failure to fear consequences – within a family, community or society. Crime will always be more prevalent in poorer neighborhoods – but that does not mean it is inspired by the race or ethnicity of the neighborhood.
When the New Orleans Police Department revealed the pictures of two young "persons of interest" – many were shocked to see that they were white. I received a text from a listener who said he was "ashamed" that he assumed the Bourbon Street gunmen were black.
We still don't know who the gunmen were, but it became obvious that the instinctive reaction to blame young black males was wrong.
The other recent case of rush to judgment is the case of the Georgia father who left his 22-month-old son in his hot car to die. When Justin Harris was arrested after his young son's lifeless body was pulled from the car, there was an immediate online petition demanding that police drop any charges against the "grieving father."
The petition stated that the grief-stricken father would suffer enough punishment knowing that he forgot to drop his son off at day care, his son who literally baked in the car while Dad sat at his desk at work. Talking about this tragedy on the air, I received calls and texts from people who were sympathetic of the father and did not believe a father in that situation should face charges.
Today in court, it was revealed that while Justin Harris' 22-month-old son, Cooper, was dying in the stifling heat of his car – his father was sexting 6 different young women – one underage – as he sat at his desk. It also came out in court that Harris was not happy in his marriage and was dealing with financial problems. The parents had a total of $27,000 in life insurance policies on their son.
The sexting by Justin Harris was lewd and included and exchange of photos of his erect penis and the bare breasts of females. The sexting and the life insurance policies could be coincidental – but both paint a very different picture the "grieving father" seen in cute photos with his son that so many were willing to defend.
The rush to judgment in the Bourbon Street shooting and in the case of the father who left his young son in his hot car demonstrates how quick some people are to stereotype.
When you hear of a crime that has been committed – before you assume you know the type of person who is guilty – think about all of those who could cause people to stereotype you!
This week's Supreme Court ruling that allows closely-held companies like Hobby Lobby to opt out of providing certain contraceptives for employees has sparked another huge controversy about religious freedom in America.
Hobby Lobby is a large corporation owned by devout Christians, and under Obamacare, the company was being forced to cover some forms of contraception mandated under the new law – for example – the pill that has become known as the "morning after pill." Hobby Lobby and others that oppose the "morning after pill" believe it is an abortion pill – which is medically inaccurate. The "morning after pill" does not cause an abortion. The pill known as RU-486 does induce a miscarriage or abortion after becoming pregnant and should not be confused with the "morning after pill."
The "morning after pill" is designed to act in several ways: 1) prevent or delay ovulation 2) prevent fertilization 3) prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, which defines the state of pregnancy.
The Hobby Lobby controversy reflects the passionate dedication of pro-life Americans, who oppose legal abortion. But if the "morning after pill" does not cause an abortion, is the controversy founded on misconceptions?
The controversy over a Christian family-owned business denying certain mandated coverage of health care based on religious freedom also feeds the growing panic in America that, as a nation, we are losing our precious right to freedom of religion.
Many Christians are proclaiming that Hobby Lobby is being hypocritical for denying coverage for the "morning after pill," while continuing to do business with China, which has one of the world's most pro-abortion policies.
For years the Chinese government has had a one-child per family policy in effect as a way of controlling the population. If a family has a child and the wife gets pregnant, abortion is mandated by the government. If a Christian family-owned business is opposed to abortion to the point of refusing to provide the "morning after pill" for employees because they think that pill causes an abortion (which it does not), then shouldn't they refuse to do business with a nation that has mandated abortions in certain situations?
Selecting when to apply Christian beliefs is often based on what is convenient and not financially devastating to a business. Perhaps Hobby Lobby can afford to apply its strong Christian beliefs to the denial of coverage for the "morning after pill" – but not in the case of severing business relations with China. Theoretically, that seems hypocritical.
Any religious beliefs should be invoked consistently and not just on the occasions that are financially convenient to use for the promotion of religious standards and seemingly make one feel better about oneself.
The use of religious freedom to condemn the growing acceptance of homosexuality by refusing to serve gay and lesbian customers is another example of how religious beliefs are being selectively applied. Condemnation of homosexuality is based on the belief that the lifestyle is a sin. Yet, those businesses that want to use their religious freedom to deny service to gays and lesbians do not seem to care about serving heterosexual customers – all of whom are sinners! Why is one sin worthy of rejection and another not?
There are certain issues that expose obvious hypocrisy in America. Hobby Lobby's decision to refuse coverage for contraceptive items, like the "morning after pill," could be seen as being hypocritical if the company continues its financial relationship with China.
Condemnation of the "morning after pill" seems to be based on irrational emotions. Since the "morning after pill" does not medically cause an abortion, Hobby Lobby is demonstrating the selective application of religious freedom.
And even if the "morning after pill" did cause an abortion, it could be argued that if Hobby Lobby were true to it religious convictions, it would refuse to do business with China.
The act of social and political hypocrisy has been turned into an art form in America. We should all challenge ourselves to be consistent with our convictions.
Do you think Hobby Lobby is being hypocritical by refusing to cover the "morning after pill" believing it is an abortion pill – while continuing to do business with China – where it is believed up to 13 million abortions are performed every year?
Send your comments and reaction to me: Scoot@WWL.com - some of the emails may be read on "The Scoot Show."
NOPD announced late Monday that a 10th shooting victim has come forward from the wild-west style shooting on Bourbon Street over the weekend. Five of the shooting victims remained hospitalized Monday – one in critical condition and the others in stable condition.
Whenever there is violence on iconic Bourbon Street – New Orleans and the nation take notice and the city has once again gotten national attention for the wrong reason. Tourism is the lifeblood of this city and violence on Bourbon Street is proof that not all publicity is good publicity.
Living a block off Canal St. and the French Quarter – Bourbon Street is part of my neighborhood and the spot where the shooting occurred in the early morning hours of Sunday is an area I travel through quite often. It may not be fair that the French Quarter is a neighborhood that gets a disproportionate amount of police protection – but that is reality. With the upcoming 4th of July weekend highlighted by Essence Fest – the weekend shooting on Bourbon Street is causing some to feel less safe in New Orleans.
In a conversation with NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas Monday morning on WWL, the Chief acknowledged that the force needs more officers – but also said that there was police presence on Bourbon Street and an officer was very close to the shooting incident. Which leads to the obvious question – is the strategy of how New Orleans police respond to shootings on target?
The societal problems that have created the mentality of those on the streets of our city who are incapable of resolving conflict and are quick to use their "illegal" guns to settle an argument are so deep that it will take a generation to turn things around – and that's if all the problems were clearly defined and we implemented changes today. But in the meantime – what is the strategy and are NOPD officers trained and willing to respond in a way that begins to turn the tide against those who have no apparent fear of police.
If a police officer was close to the shooting - then why wasn't the gunman apprehended? Was protocol followed? And is the right protocol in place? When I asked Chief Serpas if an NOPD officer's first response is to care for a victim on the ground or to pursue a perpetrator – he said that it is a judgment call left up to the officer at the scene. Certainly police should attend to any victims who appear to be suffering from life-threatening injuries. But there are some questions about whether the officer at the scene of the shooting Sunday morning made the right call by staying near a victim and not pursuing the assailant.
Are NOPD officers trained and encouraged to pursue? Or is the instinct to actively pursue a perpetrator affected by poor moral in the department? Citizens and those who visit the French Quarter deserve answers.
Surveys consistently reveal low moral in the New Orleans Police Department and if moral is low would more police on the street make a real difference.
There are individuals and groups in the French Quarter, particularly on weekend night, that are not there to enjoy the activities most come to New Orleans to enjoy. Some are there looking for prey – others congregate with an apparent motive to stake out their territory and demand recognition of their presence.
Over the past 6 months – maybe longer – I have witnessed the crowd in the French Quarter change. I see very young males taking up positions on the street and often harass and intimidate passers-by – especially females. While any individual does not need a specific reason to legally "hang out" on Bourbon Street – it is becoming more and more obvious that there is a new element in the Quarter that is not sharing in the party atmosphere. NOPD needs to have a strategy to discourage this element and make pursing and apprehending perpetrators a priority over attending to most victims.
I do understand that police officers will always be in a position of making a judgment call when a shooting or any violent act occurs – and the question is whether to attend to the victim or pursue the perpetrator?
Verbal outrage from local leaders following a shooting where innocent bystanders are shot while enjoying the party atmosphere of arguably the most famous street in America may make citizens feel that finally, there will be changes. Yet we hear essentially the same things said after each violent act. It's not good enough to say that the city will not tolerate this kind of mentality on our streets. It's not good enough to tell people things will change - if there are not actual changes.
This call for a new strategy is not criticism of the entire police department - but like a football team – if there are not enough good players and the right strategy is not in place to beat the other team – you lose.
Even though the murder rate has reached a near record low in decades – the shooting of 10 innocent people in the French Quarter over the weekend does raise the question of strategy. If nothing else – would it not be better to have more police officers on the street late at night and into the early morning hours rather than have more officers on the street earlier in the evening? Police presence cannot be about the appearance of officers on the street to make people feel safe – police presence should be used at a time when the criminal element is more prone to strike.
Whatever strategy has been in place is obviously not effective and therefore, a change in strategy is needed. I don't know what the answer is – but someone knows the answer and doing nothing is not acceptable.