I think the Founding Fathers of this country and the Framers of the Consititution are some of the best, brightest and bravest people this country has ever known. Thomas Jefferson stands by himself. Ben Franklin is one of my heroes. They were all visionaries, but even the best and brightest can't see 240ish years into the future. There's no way the Framers could foresee all the technological and sociological changes we've gone through in the past 2+ centuries. Many of the tenents written into our Constitution are evergreen and will never stale. Much like the commandments in the Bible.....thou shalt not steal or kill are pretty universally accepted, even today. But, when someone dares to suggest that changes should be made to that document, watch out.
Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, just released his second book and outlines 6 things he'd like to see changed in the Consititution. Two of them have to do with the 2nd amendment, one about abolishing the death penalty and another couple about campiagn finance. Granted, Stevens was on the Liberal side of the bench, so the subject matter of what he wanted to change would be unpalatable for Conservatives anyway...but I'm not looking his his specific changes...I'm just looking at the prospect of change in general. I don't think he wants to take out a bottle of white-out (remember how indispensible that stuff used to be?) and do away with big parts of the Constitution, but rather making some amendments to it. You know, there are 27 amendments already....17 if you don't count the Bill of Rights. That means there have been 17 times when the country thought the Framers either did something wrong with the original document, or ommitted something that became important at a later date. It wasn't important for women to have the right to vote in 1787, but it was later. It wasn't necessary to address slavery 240 years ago.....less than 100 years later, it was. Changing the Consitution has been done to make it, and our country, better and stronger...not to weaken it.
Now, lest you think I'm of the opinion that the Constitution should be trampled on....no. Actually, I think the talk of adding amendments like making same-sex marriage illegal, is actually pretty frivolous and cheapens a great document. And now that I think about it, the same people that want to add such an amendment are the same ones who bristle when you call the Constitution a 'living, breathing' document, that should change with the times. It's been living and breathing and changing with the times since 1787.....why should it be any different today?
This past weekend,we were looking at the possibility of another Waco happening in Nevada. A cattle rancher had a dispute with the federal government over what land his cows were grazing on. The Feds say it was their land and he owes them money, while he says he doesn't recognize the feds and their authority in this matter. After several hundred of the rancher's well-armed friends gathered for a showdown with the Feds, blocking the highway for miles, the government officials decided to back down rather than force the issue. Anti-government types cheered....but then again, so did anti-Obama types. Would you have been cheering if it were Bush in the White House and the ranchers were thumbing their nose at a GOP president? They would have done the same thing because ALL government is bad in their opinion.
Some people liken what just happened in Nevada to our founding fathers, rebelling against the tyrannical oppression of the British government. Those people have started their own movement called 'soverign citizens". They don't feel as though US laws apply to them....everything from land deals to paying taxes. Are these people resolute in their beliefs....or are they just looking for a way to stir things up. It doesn't matter how idyllic a society is, there are going to be some people who don't like how things are run, and want to see them changed or abolished. Most society's can handle dissenters, but when does it turn from good honest difference of opinion...into revolution? It did in 1775. I don't believe we're heading back in that direction right now, but it does worry me how many people feel that they are above the law and want to separate themselves from society....fully stocked with supplies and lots of guns. I hear the cries all the time, "...if you don't like it, move." Well, that would be my advice to everyone who wants to form their own compounds and put down their country. If you hate it so much, why are you still here? Go somewhere else....plenty of globe to choose from.
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.