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Scoot: Is Louisiana moral or moronic?

The actions of state legislatures define the mentality of a state, and a few of the issues the Louisiana Legislature has dealt with in this session beg the question – is Louisiana moral or moronic?

A bill that would have lessened the penalties for pot possession was rejected, which gives Louisiana the distinction of being among the remaining states with the stiffest penalties for even simple possession of marijuana.

Another bill that would prohibit employers from discriminating against gay employees was pulled from consideration because of the projected lack of votes for passage.

And Louisiana made national news this week when the legislature refused to pass a bill that would have removed the unconstitutional law that bans sodomy from the books.

Even though the bill that would have made the Bible the official state book was rejected, the fact that the idea came from an elected official in the state was an embarrassment.

Louisiana is a state with a diverse culture and uniquely historic traditions and citizens are rightfully proud of their state – but Louisiana is part of the United States of America and cannot live in political isolation.

The argument will be made that Louisiana has strong moral values and refuses to follow changing national trends on issues, like legalizing pot and gay equality. But defying established legal precedent is ignorant, and potentially costly to a state dealing with chronic financial shortcomings.

Governments and individuals should not sacrifice morality for convenience, but the justification behind using legislation to promote morality is shrouded in hypocrisy. People have a tendency to harshly judge the sins that are not their sins. Condemnation of pot use is supported by people who abuse alcohol or prescription meds, and those who condemn homosexuality as a clearly defined sin in the Bible are more accepting of the sins they and their families and friends commit.

Ignorance surrounding the ban on sodomy in the state abounds. Sodomy is not exclusive to gay sex and yet, it is used to condemn gay sex and gay marriage. Furthermore, the Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that any ban on sodomy is unconstitutional. That makes Louisiana's law completely meaningless – but it remains on the books.

If our system of government in America has taught us anything – it has taught us that we can't "legislate morality," and yet, state representatives seem prone to ignore the law and arguably, the Constitution in their attempts to uphold specific religious and moral beliefs.

Like every state, Louisiana is made up of regions with strongly differing opinions and contrasting ideas and that always leads to hotly contested legislative battles. The attitude about many issues in New Orleans is completely different from the attitude in the Bible Belt region of the state – but all areas of the state are ruled by the same legislature.

Issues that deal with equality or the sensible reassessment of marijuana in American society supersede a state's morals and should be addressed with respect for the law and the Constitution. I am certain those who oppose same-sex marriage would love to find a place in the Constitution that would make it unconstitutional, but it is the Constitution and the Supreme Court's rulings that actually support same-sex marriage.

I can honestly say, "I love Louisiana!" It's a beautiful state and I have had the opportunity to live in beautiful states across the country. I've lived on beautiful water in Miami and San Diego, I've lived in areas overlooking mountains and seen snow-capped peaks year around, I've lived in historic buildings and viewed the four seasons from my window - but in coming back to New Orleans I have come to see the majestic beauty of this state.

The moss that drips from towering oak tress, the stoic cypress trees embedded in the swamps that are home to a diversity of wildlife, the architecture and history of small Louisiana towns that seem protected from the modern world, and the ultimate uniqueness of the mystic French Quarter are all things to appreciate and treasure about our state.

The post-Katrina buildup of New Orleans continues and with it a migration of new people to the area who are contributing to a new direction for New Orleans and Louisiana. But we will not advance this state forward as long as we have mentally crippled voters and legislators that continue to defy logic and a changing social and political landscape.

The actions of this legislative session make it easy to define Louisiana as moronic – not moral.

Do you agree?
 (4) Comments
Tags :  
Topics : Social Issues
Social :
Locations : LouisianaMiamiNew OrleansSan Diego




 

Scoot: Don't blame the TV for your bad choices

"TV smoking influences adult tobacco use, study says" was the headline of a story at FOXNews.com. This is another headline that is totally deceiving, because that's not what the study showed.

The lead author of the study, Patrick E. Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, was quoted saying, "Movie tobacco cues promoting smoking initiation in teens have been extensively covered in the literature, but this [study] emphasizes that TV programming-promoted tobacco has been understudied and may be important as well." That statement says nothing about smoking in movies or on TV actually leading to an increase in smoking in the real world.

In the same article, Kristin Carson, senior medical research scientist for respiratory medicine at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia said, "There is a concern that seeing smoking on TV may cause adults to both re-start smoking after they have quit and keep them from quitting." The word that cannot be ignored is "may" – that word only suggests a possibility. It does not establish any direct link between smoking in entertainment and smoking in the real world.

It is common practice for the news media and for researchers to draw conclusions from research that has not actually been proven by the research for the purpose of attracting the attention of the public, or to satisfy what can be a predetermined conclusion. For example, money may have been provided for the research on the influence of smoking on TV as part of an effort to blame smoking on TV for encouraging smoking!

After the re-election of President Reagan in the mid-80s, Attorney General Ed Meese set up a commission to study the effects of pornography on society with the predetermined goal of finding that pornography inspires deviant behavior. The conclusion of the Meese Commission Report established a direct link between pornography and deviant behavior, but it was soon revealed that the report actually failed to establish that direct link, and the report was a payback to the Religious Right for helping get Reagan re-elected.

To suggest that smoking scenes on TV and in movies encourage people to smoke based on the visual reference to smoking is a convenient ploy to attract the attention of an audience through a preconceived and simplistic theory: that we are all victims of anything we are exposed too.

If an individual can be inspired to smoke by the sight of smoking on the big or small screen, and if it is important to censor all smoking scenes, then it would also be important to prevent anyone from seeing anyone smoking in public.

From 1955 to 1964 there was an average of about three smoking scenes per hour in primetime. Between 2001 and 2010 the number declined to less than one every three hours. Smoking on television has decreased and I don't see signs of gratuitous smoking on television, but the frequent smoking that appears in a series like "Mad Men" reflects the authenticity of the era.

Reruns of sitcoms, like "The Andy Griffith Show" and "I Love Lucy" continue to air with numerous smoking scenes. I doubt that either of those shows is targeted for criticism.

As a society, we have been conditioned to blame our negative behavior, including bad habits and addictions, on the outside influences of television and movies, which feeds into a general hysteria in America. To blame smoking on a TV show suggests that we are not accountable for our actions, which supports the growing loss of respect for personal accountability in this country. If something bad happens or if my actions are wrong – it's not my fault!

We get ideas from television and movies, but I don't believe entertainment can make us do something we are not already considering. Television and movies do not make you do something you really don't want to do.

Television and movies give us ideas, but I don't think either can be directly blamed for our negative actions. We have the power to decide what is right and what is wrong and regardless of the decision we make – we are ultimately responsible for our decisions.
 (2) Comments




 

Scoot: Respect for diversity and religious tradition

Freedom in America means freedom for all, not just for Christians.

A controversy surrounds a 19 ft. cross and a 10 ft. picture of the resurrected Christ in Chicago's Daley Plaza this Easter weekend. Atheist group Freedom From Religion has countered the Christian symbols with 8 ft. tall signs that focus on secularism. One of the signs features a picture of Thomas Jefferson with the words, "In Reason We Trust." The other sign features President John Adams with the words, "Keep State and Religion Separate."

FOXNews.com gave the controversy the headline, "Unholy War on Easter." FOX News has also promoted the idea that there is a "War on Christmas."

VIDEO: FOX News: Atheist group resurrects War on Easter

Christians should have a right to acknowledge their faith during Easter Week, or anytime for that matter. And atheists have a right to promote secularism. Freedom should not discriminate. As a Christian and an American, I am conflicted over the controversy. I respect the expression of Christian faith during religious traditions, but as an American, I respect the freedom others have to express views that differ from mine.

Let us not forget something we talk about often on "The Scoot Show" on WWL – the news media benefits from controversy. Even without the media coverage of atheists countering Christian views during Easter Week, there would be reaction, but the news media magnifies the controversy by finding guests who represent the situation in black and white terms. If we allow ourselves to get upset with a religious controversy – we need to realize that the news media is often motivated to deepen the controversy for the purpose of defining two distinct sides.

It is also important to step back and not allow the news media to brainwash us into thinking that the expression of atheist views robs us of our Christian faith – or any faith. If the media coverage of atheist views in the face of Easter does impact your faith – I suggest that your faith may not have been that strong to begin with.

It is also fair to point out that atheists who wish to exercise their rights to freedom of expression should be respectful of Christians and other religions, and at the same time Christians should be respectful of the views they disagree with. But flaunting atheist views during Easter Week could be considered showing a lack of respect for others.

I celebrate America's diversity and I appreciate our individual freedoms, but our respect for religious diversity is robbing us of wonderful religious traditions.

Last year, the Heritage Elementary School in Madison, Alabama has removed the word "Easter" from all Easter-related activities. Easter eggs became simply "eggs." The Easter Bunny was just "the bunny."

The school's principal, Lydia Davenport, instructed her staff to no longer use the word "Easter" because it might be insensitive to others. Davenport said, "Kids love the bunny and we just make sure we don't say 'the Easter Bunny' so that we don't infringe on the rights of others because people relate the Easter Bunny to religion. A bunny is a bunny and a rabbit is a rabbit!" Wow – what words of wisdom from a principal!

The attacks on celebrating Christmas and Halloween have been present for years, but the attack on Easter is a reminder that attempts to make America more sensitive are actually creating a soulless America.

Easter and Christmas have both religious and pagan roots, but until some people pointed that out, most of us distinguished between the religious and pagan aspects of both holidays. Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, has the tree, which is a pagan symbol. Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, has the bunny and the eggs. It is possible to blend religious and pagan meanings, while also distinguishing between the two.

Acceptance of diversity in America should not mean that we dismiss the traditions that are part of the fabric of American society. Celebrating Christmas or Easter does not take away any individual's right to recognize and celebrate their religious beliefs. No one is denied their religious rights as a result of some religious-based celebrations and the mere celebration of Christian beliefs in schools or anywhere in public does not force religious beliefs on anyone. Recognizing and celebrating a traditional religious date in America has gotten confused with an attempt to instill specific religious beliefs in others.

I am a Christian and I love Easter and this time of year! Easter celebrates the joyous resurrection of Christ at a time when flowers, trees and life around us is resurrected from the winter.

In the case of Christians vs. atheists – both sides should show respect as they exercise their rights.

Happy Easter!
 (6) Comments
Tags :  
Topics : Religion_Belief
Social :
Locations : AlabamaChicago
People : John AdamsLydia DavenportThomas Jefferson




 

Scoot: Respect for diversity and religious tradition

Freedom in America means freedom for all, not just for Christians.

A controversy surrounds a 19 ft. cross and a 10 ft. picture of the resurrected Christ in Chicago's Daley Plaza this Easter weekend. Atheist group Freedom From Religion has countered the Christian symbols with 8 ft. tall signs that focus on secularism. One of the signs features a picture of Thomas Jefferson with the words, "In Reason We Trust." The other sign features President John Adams with the words, "Keep State and Religion Separate."

FOXNews.com gave the controversy the headline, "Unholy War on Easter." FOX News has also promoted the idea that there is a "War on Christmas."

VIDEO: FOX News: Atheist group resurrects War on Easter

Christians should have a right to acknowledge their faith during Easter Week, or anytime for that matter. And atheists have a right to promote secularism. Freedom should not discriminate. As a Christian and an American, I am conflicted over the controversy. I respect the expression of Christian faith during religious traditions, but as an American, I respect the freedom others have to express views that differ from mine.

Let us not forget something we talk about often on "The Scoot Show" on WWL – the news media benefits from controversy. Even without the media coverage of atheists countering Christian views during Easter Week, there would be reaction, but the news media magnifies the controversy by finding guests who represent the situation in black and white terms. If we allow ourselves to get upset with a religious controversy – we need to realize that the news media is often motivated to deepen the controversy for the purpose of defining two distinct sides.

It is also important to step back and not allow the news media to brainwash us into thinking that the expression of atheist views robs us of our Christian faith – or any faith. If the media coverage of atheist views in the face of Easter does impact your faith – I suggest that your faith may not have been that strong to begin with.

It is also fair to point out that atheists who wish to exercise their rights to freedom of expression should be respectful of Christians and other religions, and at the same time Christians should be respectful of the views they disagree with. But flaunting atheist views during Easter Week could be considered showing a lack of respect for others.

I celebrate America's diversity and I appreciate our individual freedoms, but our respect for religious diversity is robbing us of wonderful religious traditions.

Last year, the Heritage Elementary School in Madison, Alabama has removed the word "Easter" from all Easter-related activities. Easter eggs became simply "eggs." The Easter Bunny was just "the bunny."

The school's principal, Lydia Davenport, instructed her staff to no longer use the word "Easter" because it might be insensitive to others. Davenport said, "Kids love the bunny and we just make sure we don't say 'the Easter Bunny' so that we don't infringe on the rights of others because people relate the Easter Bunny to religion. A bunny is a bunny and a rabbit is a rabbit!" Wow – what words of wisdom from a principal!

The attacks on celebrating Christmas and Halloween have been present for years, but the attack on Easter is a reminder that attempts to make America more sensitive are actually creating a soulless America.

Easter and Christmas have both religious and pagan roots, but until some people pointed that out, most of us distinguished between the religious and pagan aspects of both holidays. Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, has the tree, which is a pagan symbol. Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, has the bunny and the eggs. It is possible to blend religious and pagan meanings, while also distinguishing between the two.

Acceptance of diversity in America should not mean that we dismiss the traditions that are part of the fabric of American society. Celebrating Christmas or Easter does not take away any individual's right to recognize and celebrate their religious beliefs. No one is denied their religious rights as a result of some religious-based celebrations and the mere celebration of Christian beliefs in schools or anywhere in public does not force religious beliefs on anyone. Recognizing and celebrating a traditional religious date in America has gotten confused with an attempt to instill specific religious beliefs in others.

I am a Christian and I love Easter and this time of year! Easter celebrates the joyous resurrection of Christ at a time when flowers, trees and life around us is resurrected from the winter.

In the case of Christians vs. atheists – both sides should show respect as they exercise their rights.

Happy Easter!
 (15) Comments
Tags :  
Topics : Religion_Belief
Social :
Locations : AlabamaChicago
People : John AdamsLydia DavenportThomas Jefferson




 

Scoot: Anti-sodomy laws are an invasion of our privacy

Politics should be about substance, not symbolism.

As the 2014 Louisiana legislative session continues in Baton Rouge, we are again reminded that state politicians are often motivated by symbolic gestures rather than a true interest in advancing the state of Louisiana into modern times.

Among the ridiculous legislation that has surfaced during the current session, the Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have removed the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law from the books. With a law that defines sodomy as a crime still on the books - Louisiana embraces the political dark ages.

Baton Rouge-area police had been using the antiquated anti-sodomy law to arrest gay men, but the district attorney refused to charge the men because the law cannot be enforced. So why is it still on the books?

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Lawrence vs. Texas, that any law banning sodomy is unconstitutional. Sodomy is defined as "unnatural sex." Without resorting to graphic descriptions, how should "unnatural sex" be defined? A strong argument can be made that sodomy applies to any sex act outside of the basic missionary position, which would be a very prudish definition of intimacy between consenting adults.

It is important to know how the case of Lawrence vs. Texas reached the Supreme Court in the first place. In the Houston area, a neighbor didn't like the gay couple that lived next door, so he spied on them by looking in their window and caught them having sex. The man called police and claimed he saw a weapon. Police arrived and apparently caught the men engaged in sex or concluded they had sex and they were arrested and charged with the crime of committing sodomy.

The case that put anti-sodomy laws before the U.S. Supreme Court started when a neighbor maliciously and blatantly invaded the privacy of his neighbors and then called in a false weapons charge for the purpose of having them arrested for activity he disapproved of.

The Supreme Court ruled that any laws banning sodomy are unconstitutional based on right to privacy. The reason the sodomy case went to the Supreme Court reveals the desire to control the behavior of others that an individual or a group deems inappropriate. But since sodomy also defines physical acts between consenting heterosexual couples, why is it only applied to homosexuals? The most accepted definitions of sodomy do not restrict "unnatural sex" to homosexuals.

The definition of sodomy is not orientation specific – it applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals – unless the motivation is to support an anti-gay agenda.

The House vote to reject a bill that would take the logical and constitutional step of removing the anti-sodomy law from the books tells us a lot about the mentality of some of our legislators who are acting on behalf of the voters that put them in office.

The mentality of those who continue to look for reasons to judge others by their specific moral beliefs shows that many citizens in this state have not evolved from the political Neanderthals that once roamed this area. As the battle against banning same-sex marriage appears to be over – there is now an effort to use religious beliefs or anti-sodomy laws to resurrect the moral battle against homosexuality.

The Constitution and the basic understanding of freedom in America guarantee equality for all – not just those most like us. There was a time when blacks were discriminated against and the justification was based on a sense of superiority. Today, discrimination against homosexuals is also based on a sense of superiority that is achieved through the condemnation of the "homosexual sins." Our sins and the sins of our family and friends and people we most identify with are accepted as "falling short" and those sinners accepted. But those who desperately cling to the notion that homosexuality is an abomination fail to see their own hypocrisy.

Louisiana has wonderful traditions and a rich and colorful culture and everyone should encourage the perservation of our traditions and our culture. But no one in Louisiana – citizens or politicians – should be allowed to support the tradition of discrimination even though it was part of our history.

Refusing to remove an unconstitutional law from the books represents a political ignorance in our state. The more we denounce the judgment and hate that justifies discrimination of any kind – the more likely we are to shame those who continue to support discrimination.

It is true that some people will never change – but it is also important for those of us who believe in equality to speak louder than the voices of those who continue to support the attitudes of the dark ages.

If the anti-sodomy law is unconstitutional – therefore meaningless – keeping it on the books in our state only satisfies the small-minded citizens of this state who fear change. It does not change behavior.
 (9) Comments
Tags :  
Topics : Law_CrimeSocial Issues
Social :
Locations : HoustonLouisianaTexas




 

Scoot: Do you have "American values?"

Politicians, talk show hosts and even citizens all use the term "American values" – but what are American values exactly?

Last week, two news stories centered on the issue of values in America, and I wondered if the many people who use or support the term freely can actually define what it means.

The announcement that Stephen Colbert from "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central would be David Letterman's replacement next year drew instant criticism from radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. On his radio show, Limbaugh said, "No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatism." A few days before the announcement that Colbert would replace Letterman, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said that Stephen Colbert was leading the destruction of America, which seemed to imply that Colbert represented an attack on American values.

The other news story that raised the issue of American values was when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Roger Villere, chairman of the Louisiana GOP, called for the resignation of Representative Vance McAllister (R) following the release of video showing the married congressman making out with a married congressional staffer.

Representative McAllister's political campaign was based on his set of values, which he promised to bring with him into office.

So, exactly what are American values? Do people who use that term to get elected or to promote themselves as virtuous, upstanding individuals ever think about what it specifically means when they talk about American values? We hear the term, we say it, and we accept it without defining what it means.

Rush Limbaugh related American values to conservatism. Are American values conservative? Would that mean that those who define themselves as liberal or independent do not have American values? Are American values based on a specific political ideology?

There also seems to be a tendency to link American values with Christian beliefs and conservative ideology. Politicians like Vance McAllister and Newt Gingrich are among the many politicians who promoted their patriotism and Christian values in a way that suggests they are the politicians who can be trusted to uphold the values of America while serving in office.

The stereotype that is most likely to promote the idea of American values is an individual who is white, conservative Christian, married with a family who lives in the suburbs. That suggests that a Democrat who is single, a Catholic and lives in an urban setting does not support American values. Catholics are Christians, but many of those who describe themselves as Christians separate themselves from Catholics, Episcopal and other religions that are not considered Bible-based religions. Attempts to exclude those outside of the group of white, married, Christian conservatives from believing in American values are arrogant and judgmental.

Are "American values" reserved for white, married, conservative Christians who live in the suburbs? I am white, single and I am not a staunch conservative. I do not fit the profile that many right-wing Christians believe you must fit into in order to call yourself a "Christian." I also live downtown, rent an apartment, and do not own a home. Are individuals like me exempt from having American values?

I think I represent American values. I work hard. I have worked for opportunities and can't think of much that has been given to me without hard work and commitment. I believe that life is not always fair and that when you have setbacks, you must accept the setbacks and work to overcome them. America does not guarantee riches or success, but does guarantee opportunity. I believe in family and in parents raising their children to understand the difference between right and wrong and that there are consequences for negative behavior.

I believe in freedom. Not just the freedom that I enjoy, but the freedom of others I don't like or agree with. I believe in equality. Not just for me, but also when it comes to those who do not share my specific beliefs or ancestry. I believe equality even for those who are different from me. I believe in freedom of religion, and not just for the religion I believe in. I believe the idea that the "American Dream" is not the same for everyone. I strongly believe that personal accountability is a crucial concept to any civilized society. And I believe that America is a welcoming nation, and that we should all celebrate our diversity and be tolerant of it.

Do I have "American values?" Do you have "American values" – even if you do not fit into the specific category that many Americans think you must fit into in order to say you have "American values?"

If the term "American values" is going to be used in political campaigns and to define individual political and social ideology, then it is imperative for everyone who uses the term to understand what "American values" really means.
 (16) Comments




 

Scoot: Criticism of Colbert replacing Letterman is ridiculous!

Stephen Colbert from "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central will replace David Letterman when Letterman retires next year! And not everyone is happy with CBS' decision.

Ultra conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said, "CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America." Limbaugh rambled on, "No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatism. Now it's just wide out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny, and a redefinition of what is comedy. They're blowing up the 11:30 pm format... they hired a partisan, so-called comedian, to run a comedy show."

A few days ago, FOX News' Bill O'Reilly said Colbert an "ideological fanatic" and a "deceiver" and he is leading the destruction of America!

Limbaugh and O'Reilly are among those who denounce Colbert replacing Letterman because Colbert's show on Comedy Central often mocks the conservative right and Colbert is considered by many to be a liberal. The criticism from Limbaugh and O'Reilly is particularly ironic because both men have benefited from the freedom to express their right-wing political views. Limbaugh has admitted that his show is "entertainment!"

Late-night talk show hosts, like Letterman and Leno, have always been criticized for leaning "left" politically - so, if Colbert is liberal – what will change?

Rush Limbaugh's condemnation of Stephen Colbert replacing David Letterman is another example of Limbaugh reflecting the attitude of his audience and his illogical prediction that Colbert represents the redefinition of comedy and is an attack on the heartland of America is designed to create hysteria among his flock. It is a ridiculous prediction, and yet that is exactly what his faithful followers believe and, therefore, what to hear from their leader.

Bill O'Reilly's opinion that Stephen Colbert is leading the destruction of America is laughable and if he really believes that – he lacks any understanding of the real problems in America.

I often talk and write about "hysteria" in America and how many media personalities use the technique of instilling fear in people to promote the idea that they are the only ones who can be trusted to alert their audience when there are ideological threats to our country. There should be more people in the media talking about the fear tactics used by the media to fed their audiences.

Both Limbaugh and O'Reilly's inane condemnation of Stephen Colbert and their dire predictions about what this means to American society would be funny – if they didn't represent America's tendency to accept idiotic observations as credible.

Stephen Colbert was selected to replace David Letterman because he reflects a younger audience and CBS may have felt the need to skew toward a younger audience following NBC's decision to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon - who has a younger appeal.

Stephen Colbert was not chosen to change America or to spread liberal views – he was chosen because he represents the views of the coveted audience that the network is hoping to attract. And that's exactly what Limbaugh and O'Reilly do – they represent the views of their audiences.

Stephen Colbert is funny and shame on any Americans who can't laugh – even when the humor takes a shot at their own social and political ideology. Reaction to Colbert replacing Letterman and the fear that he's too liberal and dangerous – further proves that too many Americans take everything too seriously. Take seriously real problems and real issues – not the political leanings of a late-night talk show host who are considered comedians.

The Baby Boomer Establishment is struggling with the reality that younger voters and viewers that support issues, like the legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage and the right to choose are beginning to inspire changes in mass media. And the fear of losing the power to influence everything is leading to a sense of hysteria on the part of those who fear the opinions that differ from their opinions.

What is even more frightening than the ridiculous criticism and fear expressed by Limbaugh and O'Reilly is the reality that many Americans will buy into it and spread the fear.

Talk shows, entertainment and the media, in general – reflect the desired audience.

What scares the Limbaugh's and the O'Reilly's of America is the idea that Stephen Colbert's comedy and ideology are becoming more mass appeal and more acceptable. It is the audience that tells the media what it wants – not the other way around!
 (8) Comments




 

Scoot: Politicians, please stop running on "Christian" values!

When politicians run campaigns that are based on Christian, family, or moral values, I always get the impression that they are saying they are better than everyone else. Touting moral values is a self-righteous implication that you are the only candidate with such vales – and we are again reminded that is not true.

Freshman Congressman Vance McAllister is now asking for forgiveness following the release of the video showing him kissing a congressional staffer. It is obvious that this was a sensual kiss and not just a friendly gesture.


Republican Representative McAllister ran his campaign on "faith, family and country," and as a Republican, he promoted that his Christian values would guide him as an elected official. Known for their Christian values, the Duck Dynasty family endorsed him.

Since the video of Representative McAllister kissing a congressional staffer has gone public, the congressman has said, "There's no doubt I've fallen short and I'm asking for forgiveness. I'm asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff and my constitutes who elected me to serve." McAllister also promised "to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I've disappointed."

Should a politician who promoted Christian values and got caught kissing a congressional staffer be forgiven? Of course, he should be forgiven. But this is yet another example of why it is wrong to run a campaign on Christian, family, or moral values. The temptation to do so is usually overwhelming for many republican candidates who are trying to appeal to the moral right, and the moral right has been guilty of believing that one of their own is better than others.

It is not wrong to have Christian values. It is not wrong to be a moral person. But it is wrong to campaign on moral values as if to suggest that you are a better person than your political opponent. And it is also wrong for voters to accept the words of a politician who promotes morality as a campaign issue.


The arrogance of many right-wing, Christian Republicans who have broken moral decorum should serve as a lesson that politicians must stop acting like they are morally superior to their opponets - and voters must stop accepting talk that is cheap.

I have always been bothered by politicians who run on Christian, family or moral values because I know they are all human and not without sin. But I don't blame them for using morality as a campaign theme because many voters are so willing to accept it as truth. The other problem I have is, exactly what are Christian, family or moral values? They obviously don't mean loyalty to wife and family – they don't mean honesty in representing voters. So, exactly what does the issue of moral values mean?

Representative McAllister promoting his Christian and family values and getting caught kissing a staff member should tell us that no matter what politicians say about their moral values – they are just human.

Whether it is about homosexuals or anyone else, the Christian right that is so quick to judge the sins of others should take a look at themselves and realize that their harsh judgment of others is wrong.

Congressman McAllister should be forgiven for falling short – because we all have. But it is time for voters, even Christian-right voters, to stop bragging about how they are morally superior – when we know they are not!
 (12) Comments




 

Scoot: Wrestlemania fans are people, too!

I knew Wrestlemania would be great for the city of New Orleans, but I didn't know what to expect in terms of the crowd that would show up. After the Wrestlemania fans spent the past three days in my neighborhood – I would invite them back anytime!


Since I had never been around a concentration of wrestling fans, my preconceived images of the crowd were based on stereotypes. There was a stereotype that did fit my preconception – but there was surprising diversity, too.

The people who came to New Orleans to experience Wrestlemania, sometimes called the Super Bowl of wrestling, were from rural America, urban America – many were bodybuilders. I was most surprised by the number of young, edgy people with tattoos and extreme hairstyles who would instantly be described as "punk rockers." Wrestlemania also attracts people from all over the world and late last night I talked to a few guys who had come to New Orleans from Australia!

I admit, I had a condescending image of the fans that are so passionate about an event that is more staged theatrics than a sport, but as I shared the streets of my neighborhood with them – I quickly accepted their passion and dedication even if I couldn't relate to it.

In a way, I admired how they allowed themselves to become so deeply invested – both emotionally and financially - in an entertaining event that obviously provided a great escape from whatever problems or pressures they face in their daily lives.

It seems that human instinct inspires us to bond in groups with other humans even if we are confident individuals. We bond with groups over politics, social issues, sports teams and bands, along with countless other shared interests.

There was intense camaraderie on Bourbon Street last night when the Wrestlemania fans poured into the French Quarter after the big event. It was different from fans hitting Bourbon Street after a football game because within the Wrestlemania crowd there was not just two allegiances – but many different groups each supporting their favorite wrestler with great passion!

As I walked down Bourbon Street with the post-Wrestlemania crowd, I saw T-shirts of support, Mardi Gras-like costumes imitating a wrestler's image and heard numerous chants and cheers that were initiated by one group and instantly join in by other groups in support of their favorite wrestlers! The chants and cheers might as well have been in Chinese for those of us who are not part of the wrestling culture.

About 12:30 am in the 300 block of Bourbon - between the Royal Sonesta and Rick's – an impromptu wrestling match broke out between two young fans! As the two threw fake punches and kicks – as if planned – a bystander played the part of the referee and seemed to know exactly what he was doing. And when one of the mock wrestlers pinned the other on the street – the crowd that had gathered counted down "1 – 2 – 3" – and the referee raised the hand of the victor and the crowd cheered as if they had just witnessed another wrestling match.

The crowd that stopped to watch this mock wrestling match on Bourbon Street witnessed the obvious fake punches and kicks – which are part of professional wrestling. But that didn't seem to matter because the crowd didn't know who would win in the end. And that's what helped me understand the whole wrestling phenomenon – the audience may know it is not all real – but they don't know who is going to win!

When I talked to fans on Bourbon Street last night – there was one common disappointment – Undertaker lost! After over 20 wins – Undertaker lost! Some fans were visibly upset and some expressed the fact the event was great – except Undertaker lost. But what better way to create drama than to have a crowd favorite lose. Imagine the buzz around Wrestlemania next year!

Wrestlemania proved to be one of the most lucrative events to ever be held in the 'Dome, and considering the major events this city has hosted, that is a an amazing honor! There is now talk of putting New Orleans into a regular rotation to host Wrestlemania and from what I saw with the fans that were here – we should welcome them back anytime!

I may not have understood that personalities of the wrestlers or the passion for the event – but I did understand and come to admire the fans to whom wrestling was their escape from reality. And I am no longer critical of the theatrics of professional wrestling. The punches, kicks and head slams that do not actually connect could be compared to the fake violence we see in movies or on stage in a play. We know the violence is fake – but we are compelled by the unfolding drama and an ending that is not yet known.

In a sense – Wrestlemania is not that different from other forms of entertainment we accept as legitimate – a football game, a movie or a play.

So, how can any of us be critical of Wrestlemania?
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Topics : Sports
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Locations : New Orleans




 

Scoot: Still haunted by my night in the ring with a midget wrestler

I hope this does not prove to be a "spoiler" for anyone, but there is a strong possibility that WWE wrestling is staged! I have caught a few moments of matches over the years and while I can't prove it, I think it might be great theatrics and not really a sport!

This weekend, the WWE's Wrestlemania is in New Orleans. It is the Super Bowl of professional wrestling, and this event will have a huge impact on the local economy. Wrestling maniacs and celebrities will fill downtown and the French Quarter this weekend, and it will be an exciting time in New Orleans.

There has been a longstanding debate about whether or not professional wrestling should be classified as a "sport." Should the wrestlers then be referred to as "athletes?" The wrestlers are in amazing shape and obviously train hard for what they do in the ring. There is competition in the ring between two individuals, and sometimes teams, and doesn't that define it as a "sport?"

If you actually think about the debate over whether or not the competition in an event like Wrestlemania is "sport," and whether or not it's fair to consider the participants "athletes," it is all pointless because it doesn't really matter.

There is competitive drama in NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB games and fans cheer for their favorites with the outcome unknown. Doesn't that describe Wrestlemania?

An honest analysis of why any fans go to any sporting event leads to one conclusion – it's entertaining! And doesn't that describe Wrestlemania?

In professional sports, like the NFL, there is actual competition based solely on preparation and head-to-head performance toward an unknown outcome – which are not part of the spectacle of Wrestlemania. But there are enough parallels between Wrestlemania and any professional sporting event to blur the lines when the question is asked, "Why do people watch Wrestlemania?" The answer may be they watch for the same reason people go to any sporting event.

Professional wrestling is theatrical and provides entertainment for those who choose to attend or watch on television, and the same can be said of any professional sport. So what if it's staged? Wrestlemania gives the fans what they want, which, again, is true of any sporting event.

And now for my personal experience in the ring with a professional wrestler.

I think it was 1980, and part of a big wrestling event in the Superdome was "Midget Wrestling!" I was asked to interview one of the "midget wrestlers," who were actually dwarfs – not midgets.

I thought it would be great publicity if I challenged one of the "midget wrestlers" that night in the dome, so it was arranged, and in advance of the interview, it was worked out that I would challenge midget wrestler Cowboy Lang on the air to face me in the ring!

There was a lot of taunting during the interview with me saying things, like: "I can beat you in wrestling – you don't have a chance!" And Cowboy Lang would say something like; "You will never beat me in the ring!" That went back and forth and the taunting actually became aggressive.

The night of the big wrestling event in the Superdome, I pulled up in a white limousine and I was wearing a white top hat and a red cape. A bodyguard escorted me to the ring. I do recall Cowboy Lang looking rather angry at the spectacle I was creating – but hey, this was fun publicity for Scoot!

The bell rang, and Scoot and Cowboy Lang sized each other up as we circled in a crouched position. It was prearranged for me to allow the midget wrestler to pin me and win the match.

Now, since the midget wrestlers were dwarfs – they had strength – particularly upper-body and arm strength. I'm sure he would have beaten me even without the plan, and I knew it would be bad for my image if I did beat up a midget wrestler, so I wanted to be the loser and that was clearly arranged in our meeting.

And then as we both continued to assess each other in the ring – I suddenly noticed that Cowboy Lang's attitude had changed. He began snorting and grunting and the look in his eyes was terrifying. All of this sounds hysterical now – but it wasn't funny for me as I sensed that our predetermined plans were no longer part of the staged event in the dome!

Cowboy Lang made first contact and he immediately maneuvered himself behind me with his arm around me neck, which was locked in the crevasse of his arm. As he used his other hand to pull tightly the arm around my neck – I knew this was not going well!

The pressure on the front of my throat continued to increase – the referee was there, but I was on the verge of passing out. I wanted to pin myself, but the midget wrestler had positioned himself behind me making it impossible for me to get my back on the mat in order to end this horrifying moment in my career. The pressure on my throat was so intense – I was rendered incapable of even reaching out to grab the referee, who was next to me watching this drama unfold. I remember the crowd was screaming and cheering – apparently for Cowboy Lang to beat me in the ring.

I started to see the lights in the dome going out and realized I was about to become unconscious. At that moment, I felt my eyes start to roll back in my head and that was an obvious clue to the referee to stop the match! He did – but not until after the harrowing experience.

Afterwards, I struggled to stand up and seem to recall needing help to walk out of the ring and back to my big white limo. I really don't remember much more about what happened right after I was losing consciousness in front of a large crowd of wild wrestling fans in the dome, but I did know that Cowboy Lang turned on me in the ring that night!

The next morning – I had a difficult time talking and I immediately went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with trauma to the larynx and was off the air for 3 days while I healed!

I guess I can say that in the case of the only wrestling match against a professional wrestler in my career, it was real. Cowboy Lang did not follow the choreographed moves, and I was nearly rendered unconscious in the Dome that night!

I haven't seen Cowboy Lang since he tried to kill me in the ring – but if I EVER run into that b*****d again, I will keep my distance!

That night for Scoot – professional wrestling was real! As I think back on that night and how the attitude of Cowboy Lang suddenly changed in the ring – I realized that he took offense with my taunting him on the air and with pulling up to the ring in a white limo and he was going to put me in my place – which he did!

I guess you can understand that it is difficult for me to watch Wrestlemania because I am still haunted by the night in the ring with a midget wrestler!
 (25) Comments
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Locations : New Orleans




 

Scoot: Is Ft. Hood shooting a call for more guns or more laws?

Even before all the facts are known, some will be tempted to use the shooting at Ft. Hood in Killeen, TX to promote stricter gun control. Others will be tempted to promote the need for more gun ownership. These instinctive reactions to mass media coverage of a shooting expose the ruthless nature of both extremes in the gun debate in America.

Once more facts are known about the motivation for the shooting at Ft. Hood, I will be surprised if stricter gun control laws or more armed citizens would have prevented the attack.

Recent shootings at the elementary school in Newtown, CT, the Navy Yard in Washington, DC and the movie theater in Aurora, CO quickly become political pawns in a heated chess match of gun controlgun rights agendas. But a common sense analysis of the shootings leads to the realization that neither gun control laws nor more armed citizens would have had an impact on the individuals who were determined to commit acts of violence. Laws do not control deranged minds.

If a chess game is a metaphor for the gun debate in America, then the media acts as the chess board, giving each side in the debate designated opportunities to strategically defeat their opponent. The media benefits from the conflict of debates, and eagerly pits one side against the other in order to incite further debate, which inspires an emotional bond with the viewing audience.

Through the media, America now sees itself as a nation of individuals divided by political debate. There was a time when Americans were more private about their political affiliation. Today, many Americans brag about their political positions, not simply to express themselves, but to actually incite others. Using our precious right to free speech should be more about protecting that freedom than about taunting others to disagree.

Boasting about political affiliation or strong positions on issues through signs, T-shirts, bumper stickers or calling talk radio shows have become a means to antagonize the other side, rather than tacitly express individual's views.

Many Americans seem to have lost the confidence to stand as individuals in their thinking and actions, and look instead to gain perceived power and status by aligning themselves with a group. Reinforcing a belief system through membership in a larger group becomes so important that even with disagreement over some of the group's beliefs, individuals still claim membership in the group.

We as individuals should challenge ourselves to find the confidence to be independent in our thinking and actions, and refuse to cling to a larger group for reassurance that our thinking and actions are righteous and shared.

When a public shooting occurs, many will immediately seek refuge in their group and will work to advance the idea that stricter gun control is needed – or more citizens must be armed.

In Louisiana, the legislature is considering a new bill that would allow citizens to carry guns into establishments that serve alcohol. Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Bossier) has proposed the bill making it legal to carry guns into restaurants that serve mostly food, but also serve alcohol - arguing that people should be allowed to protect themselves and their families when they go out to eat at a restaurant, like Applebee's or Chili's.

In theory, it makes sense to have trained gun owners everywhere in the event a mad gunman appears, but in reality, many of those who want to carry a gun everywhere are more interested in promoting their 2nd Amendment rights than they are in becoming highly-trained gun owners who are prepared to take down a shooter near the table by the window!

The idea of more guns in the hands of individuals in public settings is a fantasy solution for stopping crazed gunmen. We have all heard about recent stories where the presence of a gun led to an individual taking a life under circumstances where their life may not have actually been threatened.

Whether it is gun control or gun rights or any other issue – rather blindly align yourself with one side in the debate – rationally think about your views and resist the instinct to join a cheering crowd.

From the standpoint of a talk show host dealing with the issue of guns in America, it might be convenient to be an extremist as so many talk show hosts are. But my radically logical mind forces me to apply common sense in assessing whether less guns or more guns would have prevented a shooting, like the one that occurred late yesterday at Ft. Hood.

We should all be bold enough to advance an agenda of common sense!
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Topics : Politics
Locations : AuroraConnecticutKilleenLouisianaNewtownWashington, Dc
People : Jeff Thompson




 

Scoot: Assaulting sports referees a symptom of no respect for authority?

The growing lack of respect for authority cannot be blamed only on kids and teenagers. Adults are responsible, too.

The Louisiana legislature is considering a bill that would increase the penalties for assaulting sports referees. The fact that such a bill has been proposed clearly demonstrates that adults are showing an increasing lack of respect for authority and doing so where they are setting a bad example for young people.

In a story at WWLTV.com, soccer referee Glenn Prechac said that assaults against referees in all sports is at an "epidemic proportion." Prechac said there was an incident last summer at Pan American Stadium where one of his assistant referees was "jumped and beaten by a fan who jumped over the fence." In his 30 years as a soccer referee, Prechac said that he has witnessed violence against referees increase throughout the New Orleans area.

Rep. Cameron Henry, (R-Metairie) introduced the bill that would increase the penalties for attacking referees saying, "Just by increasing the fines, increasing the prison sentence if the individual is injured. I think it sends a stronger message to parents that they really need to stay in control."

House Bill 227 would raise the fines up to $5,000 for assaulting a referee and would add a maximum 3-month jail sentence if a referee is injured. The bill would also require 40 hours of community service and anger management classes.

Last summer on The Scoot Show on WWL, I talked about a 17-year-old soccer player who punched a referee because the player was anger over a call made by the referee during a game in a suburb of Salt Lake City. After the punch in the face, the referee, Richardo Portilla, 46, fell into a coma for days and then died. The 17-year-old, who was not identified, pleaded guilty and is now serving time in a juvenile jail.

The judge ordered the teenager to keep a picture of the referee who died from the punch in his cell for the duration of his time behind bars. The judge also ordered the teen to write a letter weekly to the Portilla family explaining how he plans to change his life.

Daily news reports reveal that there is a growing lack of respect for law enforcement on the streets of America, but when the lack of respect for authority bleeds into the civilized world of youth sports in suburban America, the magnitude of the problem becomes even more alarming.

The percentage of assaults on sports referees relative to the number of young people participating in sports and the number of parents in attendance is not as significant as that fact that this is a problem on the rise.

The instinct to attack a referees over a penalty call, a disagreement about playing time for a child or any other dispute reflects an increasing propensity to manifest anger in the form of assaults. Stories of road rage and shootings over a disagreement about loud music or texting in a movie theater prove that rage in America is not only increasing, but that the spontaneous ease with which many people are willing to act on a moment of rage is frightening and begs the question – why are so many Americans getting angry at things that are basically insignificant?

America has lost patience. This is a country where instant gratification is treated like a constitutional right. We demand to be satisfied instantly at every level of life. As a nation, we have been conditioned to expect what we want now – whether it a tangible item or our state of mind.

The state of instant communications, the instant availability of so much of what we desire and the media have all contributed to our expectations of instant gratification.

So, when someone cuts in front of us in a car or challenges our requests to change behavior in public or makes a call we disagree with in sports - rather than make an effort to put the moment in perspective – we react on our instincts that are driven by a desire for instant gratification.

I support legislation designed to create harsher penalties for assaulting sports referees – but we can only hope that it will alter how people respond to the rage and anger that is looming so close to the surface in a growing number of Americans.

When you are faced with that moment when the demons of rage and anger possess your body and mind over what, in relation to the world, is an insignificant problem – think about all the people who are in jail or dead because they did not control their moment.

And before you criticize a young generation for their lack of respect for authority – think about the times you show a lack of respect for authority.

Are you setting a good example for your kids?
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