Racism is real.

I have written about it many times–Here on this blog, in sermons, and in my novel “How Great Is The Darkness.”

It is a problem that continues to haunt our society, and my prayers are for healing and reconciliation, justice and peace.

The causes of justice and reconciliation, peace and healing are hindered when the issue is trivialized, or worse yet, mislabeled.

Of course I am referring to Usain Bolt and Ellen DeGeneres. Specifically, I am referring to this picture and tweet that have been causing quite the firestorm.

Screenshot 2016-08-17 09.48.29Disclaimer #1:  I am not a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres. Mrs. Greenbean and the sprouts like her, but me, not so much.

Disclaimer #2: I have watched about five minutes of the Olympics. It was fencing. I felt like I’d paid my patriotic obligation and turned the channel to something that interested me far more.





There is no way, in any universe, that what Ellen did was racist. If she doesn’t celebrate Bolt’s incredible achievement then that could be racist–not giving him his due–but this, this is just the way people interact with each other.

But enough already about the facts of this specific circumstance. There are two factors at work here that are detrimental to the fabric of our society. I know that sentence is frightening, but I think it is true.


Factor One: Free Speech

The desired effect people who claim this is racism want is to shut Ellen up. The call on the Twitterverse was not so much for an apology from Ellen, but a call to remove the ‘offensive’ image. The use of terms such as offensive, racist, homophobic, mean-spirited, hate speech, sexist and other labels has grown to have a stifling power on speech.

It is undeniably true that people say racist, offensive, homophobic and other mean things. Yet, if our society is to continue as a free one, people must be free to be jerks. No one has the right to not be offended. You do have the right to change the channel, close the book, walk away, argue the point, or be a moron.

What we have is a kind of new McCarthyism in which certain elites have control of what people can and cannot say. Will we ever learn from our past?


Factor Two: The Real Issues

By focusing upon trivial issues like a Photoshopped picure of an Olympic athlete and entertainer, people vent their anger about racism without addressing the real issues. We have deep problems of violence, unequal access to the law, education disparity, income inequality, little or no access to medical care, a housing gap, not to mention the violence done to people of color by the inequities of the criminal justice system.

But let’s not deal with that. Instead let’s conflagrate a non-issue so we can feel like we’ve done something significant, like Tweet obscenities and calling people names.


I should be working right now–working on my science fiction story–but I can’t because I am irritated.  Bothered is more like it.  To link my irritation to science fiction, I should quote Guy Montag from the Bradbury classic Fahrenheit 451.

We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?

Yeah, I’m that kind of bothered, bothered about that cartoon contest Sunday night near Dallas where two gunmen showed up, intending to do harm (Update–ISIS is now claiming responsibility for the gunmen) but they were stopped before they ever got started  (click here for CNN) because one Garland traffic officer with a pistol took out two terrorists with automatic weapons and body armor.  And yes, in case you’re wondering, that is how we roll in Texas.  When they make this movie, Bruce Willis will no doubt play the role of the traffic officer.isis-garland-fox-screenshot

What bothers me is that by the next morning people all over the media were blaming the people hosting the cartoon contest for the incident.  For an example of this type of gross equivocation click on this link to read a hatchet piece over at the Huffington Post.  It is rather nauseating, because people can’t seem to tell the difference between words and weapons, and the result is that over and over and over again pseudo-intellectuals and media types were blaming the people at the “Draw Muhammad” contest, those people who would have been Charlie Hebdo-ed had the police not been there.

I have no doubt that the people who organized the “Draw the Prophet Muhammad” contest, or whatever it was named, are odious and mean, even hateful.  However, people who are exercising their constitutional right, however distasteful it might be, can never be cited as the victim or as the ones who brought it upon themselves.  I’ve used this analogy before, but it needs stating again–this reasoning is akin to blaming a woman for being harassed or raped because of the way she dressed or behaved.  Need another example?  If someone is burning the United States flag in protest, but an offended patriot tried to kill them, no one would ever blame the flag burner even if we all disagreed vehemently with what the flag burner was doing.

As a pastor, preacher, writer, and historian free speech is dear to me, and it is sad to watch it fall upon such terrible times.  We are told what words we can’t say, we are told who we have to be nice to, and we are warned constantly not to offend anyone.  The net effect is that liberty is retarded in the United States.

Free speech in our nation is almost dead, and you can hear its death rattle every day on the news.

Other free speech posts from Pastor Greenbean

Charlie Hebdo

Koran burning

Google Searches/Spying

NSA T-Shirts

image from jewishpress.com


Je Suis Charlie

These thoughts have been brewing all weekend, and come in no particular order.

1.  Thursday I was making potato soup while listening to NPR.  Keep in mind, the attacks were still only twenty-four hours old, but already people were saying things like, “Well, this is terrible and all, but Charlie Hebdo really shouldn’t have made those Muslims angry and should have exercised better judgment.”  I paraphrase, but that is the gist of it.  Je Suis Charlie

That kind of thinking makes me sick, because it is roughly equivalent to the line of thought that blames a rape victim for dressing provocatively.  Charlie Hebdo was a poor taste, lowest common denominator satire that I do not appreciate or enjoy, but they were doing what free people do–expressing themselves.  To put any of the blame upon them is cowardice and makes me sick.

2.  The best analysis I have heard on the whole thing was from Rachel Maddow on her Friday night program.  I have embedded it for your convenience.  It is lengthy.

3.  David Brooks wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Friday that struck a nerve with me.  He wrote:

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

I find his arguments to be compelling, and a little unsettling.  We, and by we I mean western culture, have gotten seriously too thin skinned.  People do not have the right to be not be offended, and all opposition to the politically correct terminology is not hate speech.  I think we need to take the muzzle off.

4.  The first time I saw “Je Suis Charlie” on a sign I thought it said “Jesus is Charlie” and it really confused me.

5.  I have posted on terrorism many times, but I will say it again, we are facing worldview issues.  It would be wrong to label all Muslims with this broad stripe, but those radical jihadists such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others reject out of hand pluralism in a society, while pluralism is one of our cherished values.  The worst thing we can do is to concede liberties of freedom of speech, travel, assembly, religion, and press in an effort to stay safe.  We have already lost too much because of fear.  It is time to stop being afraid and to start acting like the same people who defeated Hitler and Communism.

6.  What happened in Paris at Charlie Hebdo and at that kosher grocery store is horrible, but every day ISIS is doing evil things.  It was recently brought to my attention at church that they are actively seizing Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves.  If you have time, check out the Twitter hashtag #Yazidiwomen.  It will break your heart.  Why has reporting of this travesty been so neglected in the United States?  Do the lives of women and children who belong to a peculiar, yet interesting, religious sect matter less than Parisian Satirists?

So, yeah, those are some of my thoughts.

image from www.timeshighereducation.co.uk


There is a lot of work today for me, plus it is election day and there are some constitutional amendments I need to weigh in on, but I am never too busy to complain about the continuing erosion of personal liberty.

It has come to my attention this morning a small business operator named Dan McCall has been ordered to stop selling a parody t-shirt because it offends the NSA–the National Security Administration–you know, the ones who are keeping tabs on all your metadata?  Yeah, them.

This is the t-shirt in question:

pic from dailymail.co.uk
pic from dailymail.co.uk

In case you can’t read it–it has the NSA logo with the fake motto, “Peeping while your sleeping” and then below that it has a cute little satire that says, “The NSA–The only part of government that actually listens.”

He was selling this t-shirt all over the place, including Zazzle.  Zazzle is one of the online retailers I know about because I bought a coffee cup with a cockroach picture on it for a loved one last year from Zazzle.  But I digress.

The rationale behind their scary Orwellian “Cease and Desist” order is that it is copyright infringement.  Really?  The NSA is copyrighted?  Does the NSA seek to make money off it’s logo?  Besides, this is a parody.  Go to any shopping mall and you will find parody t-shirts in half the shops.  Go to any church youth group and you will see religiously parodied t-shirts that take a secular logo and put a spiritual or biblical twist to it.

It happens everyday and most of us chuckle and move on.  But not the NSA.  Not our government.

I am not saying it is good taste to print that t-shirt and I’m not saying I would buy one.  However, this is an epic government overreach.  What is next, will the NSA go after The Onion.  Actually, that would be a great Onion story about how the NSA is trying to shut them down.  In fact when I first saw this I thought it was a rogue Onion story some took for being real, but then I checked it with real news sources like NBC.  I wish it were satire, but this is Jon Stewart.  This is our government.

For what it is worth, I am sure my tax bill will go up now after they read this blog.  If there are no further postings found, or my blog suddenly goes dark, you will understand what happened.