When I was offered a job on the Grand Strand back in 1987, I looked at several different things before I said 'yes'. I looked into the company, what kiind of radio station it was, what my responsibilities would be..you know, all the basics about a new gig and whether or not it offered me a move up the ladder from my last job in North Carolina. The station was kind of a pit and the pay wasn't great, but it was a move up, so my quest for mediocrity and middle management began. Of all the things I researched before saying yes, I never once looked at the state of South Carolina to see who they voted for in previous presidential elections, who the Senators were or if it was considered a 'red' or 'blue' state...even though those terms weren't used in 1987. I was going where the job was. So, when I make mention about how 'red' South Carolina is and someone tells me to move to a more liberal state if I don't like it, I laugh, because my job is here...it's not in NY or Cali.
But my question is, why should I move? I don't consider myself to be an Illinoisian even though I was born and raised there....or a South Carolinian even though I've been here since the late 80s. I consider myself to be an American. And that's where the problem starts. I guess I have the mistaken assumption that people in Congress have everyone's best interest in mind when considering new bills, laws and legislation...not just the people who believe like they do. Wrong. I assume that the Congress and the President would be able to get together to do what best for all Americans, like me, rather than petty bickering and political one-upsmanship. Wrong again. I'd like to think that in the 21st century, my vote for president would count the same as anyone elses, but with the antiquated electoral college still in effect, unless you live in a state that thinks like you do, you vote doesn't count. My vote should count. I'm an American...and having your vote count is one of our most sacred rights. A right that I've been without since I moved here.
So....why don't I move somewhere else? Because my job's here....in Myrtle Beach.....in South Carolina......in America. But apparently being an American isn't good enough. I guess some rights stop at the border. The state border, that is.
Earlier this week, I went to the memorial service of a friend and co-worker, Phil. Phil was a great guy, smart, hard-worker, a no BS kinda guy. Phil got cancer. He fought as hard as any person could fight, especially against a foe that, in the end, couldn't be beat. But he never gave up or lost faith. He was inspirational.
We didn't hang out after work, but I've got an unusual schedule, so honestly, I don't hang out after work with too many people. That's my loss. At the service, several things struck me. First, how many people Phil geniunely touched during his life. The sanctuary was filled (actually over-flowing) with people from all walks of life, and not just there out of a sense of being there because they have to be, but rather because they wanted to remember, mourn and celebrate his life. That led me to the second realization...that it's possible to have a life outside this radio station. I learned that Phil coached baseball and soccer for the last 20 years. That he had friends outside the business, in the community and elsewhere. That he was able to keep in touch with friends he made in college, even high school!
I've always been a total work-aholic. Three and a half years ago I had a heart attack and almost died here at work. Alone. I don't want to die alone. I've been in radio for 30+ years and I guess I just assume that the job consumes everyone else's free time, just like it does mine. I guess I'm wrong. I guess I need to do a better job in balancing work life with real life. Like Phil did.
In about a decade, while you're watching an 80-year old Alex Trebek on Jeopardy, you'll probably hear someone say the words, "Who is Michael Sam"? If the question was "Who was the first openly gay player in the NFL", then the contestant will win some cash. Because honestly, in about 10 years, hopefully less, Michael Sam will probably be the answer to a trivia question...unless he has an above-average football career.
Let's back up. In case you didn't hear the news this week, All-American linebacker and co-SEC defensive player of the year, Michael Sam came out of the closet. He told reporters that most of team knew anyway, but he officially told them last August....that was last August...right before the Tigers went on to their best season ever, finishing 12-2, winning the Cotton Bowl and finishing #5 in the country. So, for everyone who says a player like this would be a distraction to the team....I think he proved you wrong. Now he's gearing up for the NFL draft this Spring, and whoever picks him will be picking a solid player and a piece of history.
Lets do some Q&A of questions I always hear.
Why does he feel the need to "come out"? Like most lesbians and gay men, they have to live a lie until they come out. Because there are so many people in this world that can't accept someone in the LGBT community, they try to conform to 'normal' standards and be someone they're not. Not a nice way to live.
Dave, why are you always pushing 'the gay agenda'? First of all, I have no idea what a gay agenda is. To me, this is simply a question of civil rights. I've been criticized by plenty of listeners who say I try to shove this down their throat. I'm not gay, a member of GLAAD or have any close friends that are gay or lesbian, but I believe that everyone deserves equal rights.
What about people who switch between same sex and opposite sex relationships? Easy answer....bi-sexual....next question.
And once again, I have to repeat, being gay or lesbian is NOT a choice. When did you decide to be heterosexual? That's right, you didn't choose...you were attracted to the opposite sex because you were born that way. I don't know why people have such a hard time understanding that fact. Yes, I said fact. Would you choose to be an outcast, ostrasized and make your life infinitely more difficult? Didn't think so.
I michael Sam the Jackie Robinson of the gay community? Kinda. The only difference is that there were no blacks in baseball before Jackie Robinson, but there have been gay players in the NFL...they just haven't been out in the open yet.
Since we're in the vicinity of the Super Bowl, let's talk football to start things off. When Art Shell was hired as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, every story written about him had to include some variation of the line "the first black head coach in NFL history". Of course since then, there have been many more, but the next few black head coaches also had numbers associated with the....like the 2nd, or 5th to achieve that position. Doug Williams was the first (and so far only) black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. If Russell Wilson wins this Sunday with the Seahawks, I'm warning you right now that someone, somewhere will bring that fact up and dub Wilson number 2 on that list. I've heard plenty of people in the African-American community say that you'll be able to tell that 'we've' made it when you stop differentiating between black quarterbacks and quarterbacks in general. I think we're getting close to stopping the count, but we're not there yet.
The question of race was brought to mind after seeing a product that will be releasing a new commercial during the Super Bowl...Cheerios. About 9 months ago, Cheerios produced a commercial featuring a white mom, a black husband and a biracial little girl worried about her daddy's heart-health. At the time, the ad raised quite a stir because it had the nerve to reflect a significant part of our society. How significant? According to 2008 census data, 15% of all American families are classified as multi-racial or multi-ethnic. The people in our society that supported that ad far outweighed the closed-minded bigots that didn't like what it portrayed, so in the end it was a win for society and probably a win for free speech. Now they have another ad being released this weekend, and the simple fact that it's out there has made it into a story. There will be more to follow, either from Cheerios or from someone else. You can stop counting now.
In Vegas, when nobody wins...the player and the House tie....it's called a Push. We've seen too much of this in national news lately. In Oakland, 13-year old Jahi McMath has been brain-dead since early December after complications form a routine surgery. The hospital wanted to pull the plug since she has no chance of regaining conciousness. The family fought and won the right to take her to another facility where they can hope and pray for a miracle that most likely will not come. They won the fight, but there are no winners here.
In Forth Worth, a young mother was just taken off life-support in what was a 180 from the last story. She's been brain dead since late November, and the family has begged to take her off life support but the hospital refused because she was pregnant at the time. Last Friday, a judge ruled for the family, and on Sunday, the hospital complied with the order and pulled the plug. For the record, the fetus was found to be 'not viable' before the ventilator was turned off.
In both court cases, there were winners and losers...but there really are no winners. Two young women are dead, only one is still on a ventilator.
In the Texas case, the judge's ruling could open the door to further cases. The family argued that the state law that requires hospitals to continue to give extrordinary life-saving meaures to pregnant patients did not apply to Marlisa Munoz, since she was dead, and thus, no longer a patient. The judge agreed with that logic. Even though I believe in a woman's right to choose, how far will the judge's order go? Science today CAN keep a woman 'alive' for hours or days until a fetus is viable outside the womb. So what's the cut-off point? A week? 3 weeks? Even on 'life support' a brain-dead body will start to break down eventually, so there has to be a time limit. Just one more ethics question to be answered and argued in another court-room somewhere in the very near future.
First of all, I actually watch Duck Dynasty. I think it's fun and I think the family dynamic is strong and a great example for all of you who decry the lack of family values on TV...like in the Leave it to Beaver era. The Duck Dynasty crew is rich. They don't need a reality show...and if you watch, you know the patriach, 71-year old Phil, isn't the main character of the show and basically doesn't care if he's on the show or not....it's not his thing....it's his son Willie's thing. Last year, the network, A&E, came to them and told the Robertsons that they were uncomfortable with the family ending each show with a prayer. The family told the network....no prayer, no show. The network caved...after all, DD is the #1 show on the network and probably the #1 show on basic cable. Now, Phil says some uncool stuff about gays and blacks in a magazine interview and gets suspended by the network indefinitely. He says he's just spreading the word of the Bible...and several thousand people who believe as he does have come to his defense saying he should be able to express his views and the suspension is an attack on his faith and Christians everywhere. Here's what I think:
- 1st amendment has NOTHING to do with this. He has the right to say anything he wants to, but when you're a representative of another entity, like A&E in this case, they also have the right to act in what they think is their best interest. It's all about money...not 1st amendment rights.
- This is not an attack on his faith. Even if he didn't say anything about gays in that interview, I'm sure A&E would have had something to say about his assertion that blacks where happier before the civil rights movement. Besides, I even saw interviews with clergy...on Fox no less...that said he went to far in his condemnation of gays and should have just said he doesn't agree with it on a biblical level.
- Also as far as faith goes...the Bible also talks about loving thy neighbor....let he who is without sin cast the first stone....do unto others....judge not, lest ye be judged. How about that it's easier for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Phil has more money that everyone who reads this blog, combined. And in the same chapters that condemn homosexuality, it also says eating shellfish, like the piles of crayfish he eats, is an abomination.
I've talked about gay issues before. A person is born gay or straight, just like someone is born black, Asian or Hispanic. As a society, we don't put up with people talking bad about any of those minority groups, so why should we put up with talking badly against gays and lesbians? And even if you don't hew to the Bible verses, how about what the framers wrote 200+ years ago....about all men being created equal....and that we all are endowed with certain inalienable rights, like life, liberty and the persuit of happiness. It seems like a lot of the people saying Phil is right on a biblical level are the same people that say the framers were incapable of saying anything wrong. Which is it?