Jesus H. Christ!

In December I wrote a piece about Jesus’ suspicious birth. This being Lent and leading up to Easter, I’d now like to speculate on his mysterious life and the circumstances surrounding his questionable death.

For the record, since I have no concrete proof to the contrary, like the Jews and some Christian sects, like the Unitarians, I, too, am a psilanthropist, which means that I believe that Jesus was a mere mortal man and not of divine birth or legacy. Well, think about it. If the Jews themselves don’t even claim their own soul brother as being the Messiah or the “King of the Jews,” why do Christians accept him so readily as “All That”? In fact, Judaism does not acknowledge Jesus at all, at least the services in which I have participated. I would think that he would be accepted for the mere fact that he was a practicing Jew like themselves. He was even a rabbi!

Some people can be so fickle. The story goes that on the day that Christians commemorate as Palm Sunday, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem amid much pomp and ovation by the people. They’re cheering him, weltering him with palm fronds and calling him “Hosanna, Son of David” and “King of the Jews,” and only five days later (liturgically speaking), it’s probably these same people who are clamoring for his hide, wanting to kill him.

A Latin passage from the Nicene Creed is often translated as, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate…“ Jesus’ subsequent suffering was not Pilate’s doing, according to the Scriptures. The Roman governor didn’t want anything to do with him. He tried to pass him off to Herod, but Herod didn’t want him either, so he was sent back to Pilate, who still couldn’t find any valid reason to detain him or have him killed. So he turned him over to the people to let them decide Jesus’ fate. They are the ones who demanded that he be crucified. See how quickly people will turn on you? By the way, was it the Jews who named it “Good Friday”?

Incidentally, even though I don’t regard Jesus as divine and such, like Thomas Jefferson I do agree with his Biblical philosophy and try to follow his teachings. You know, it’s rather ironic that so many people who call themselves Christians are such judgmental racists, homophobic hate-mongers and advocates of war, which is so anti-Christian, and I who love everybody, but because of my beliefs, or rather lack thereof, I cannot be considered a true Christian. Is that fair? I am a follower of Christianity as a way of life, but I can’t be a “Christian.” So I guess I am more of a philosophical Christian than a denominational one. These faux Christians like to redefine Christianity to suit their own purposes.

Here is a reminder for the anti-Semites, those who hate all Jews but claim to be Gentile Christians, like some of your Klansmen, Nazis and Skinheads. They try to justify their bigotry by reminding us that it was the Jews who killed Jesus. But since Jesus himself was a Jew (and probably not all that white either!), why should they even care? They don‘t like Jews either, do they? And people of like persuasions are always killing each other. So, what‘s your beef? “Blessed Mother” Mary and all of the original Apostles also were Jews. The scriptures that they like to quote are all of Jewish origin, as well as most of the Biblical characters. The aforementioned all practiced Judaism, too, and it wasn’t Jesus himself who founded Christianity. It was established later on in his name, by Jews! It is they who were the original “Jesus Freaks.”

My point is that these people cannot be both. It’s hypocritical to bear hatred toward another fellow human being, including Jews, and still maintain their devout Christendom. But since these people’s attitude and sentiment is most likely based on their own ignorance, they haven’t even considered and probably are not even aware of what they are protesting against. They just accept what their parents tell them. They don’t bother to think for themselves.

In the widely-circulated King James version of the Bible, and others, too, I’m sure, why are there written accounts only about Jesus’ birth and the few days before his alleged death and resurrection? For somebody this important to humankind, I would think that his every move would have been observed and followed and documented and that there would be complete records somewhere of his entire life. Where were all the reporters and paparazzi when we really needed them? Why did they lose track of him for all that time? I guess he apparently was not considered to be all that special until much later on. It was the people around him who made him what he was. A person normally doesn’t declare themself a hero, for example. They are proclaimed so by someone else.

In 1966 when John Lennon made that offhand comment about The Beatles being more popular than Jesus ever was, he received much public outcry and criticism from religious zealots, at least in this country, calling him disrespectful and sacrilegious and campaigning to boycott the group’s records and concert appearances. Some people take minor things so seriously. In my opinion, that was nothing to get all bent out of shape about. John was just stating a fact, and although I consider his remark uncalled for and totally unnecessary, it is not at all untrue. The Beatles at that time were more popular than Jesus. Jesus never made 25 million dollars in one year’s time or sold millions of copies of his sermons and performed to sold-out crowds. But why state the obvious? Some opinions should be kept to oneself. It was just the subject reference Lennon used that caused the controversy. If he had said that they were more popular than, say, Adolf Hitler, I don’t think anybody would have minded.

There were originally some eighty Gospel accounts written for the New Testament, most of them telling a very different story about Jesus. One of these is the Gospel of St. Thomas, which relates the childhood of Jesus. Although I don’t know if he considered himself divine, at an early age Jesus was already displaying attitudes of self-importance and worth. He was even described as an arrogant brat, a real “Dennis the Menace.” He argued with his teachers and fought with his playmates. There is a report of him pushing another little boy off a roof where they were playing and killing him! It was Constantine the Great who set about to rewrite and edit the New Testament, omitting all of those books that regarded Jesus to be a mere mortal man and instead turned him into a divine entity who could do no wrong.

The Gospel of Mary tells of Mary Magdalene’s relationship with Jesus and of her role as the true founder and proponent of Christianity, not Apostle Peter, as other versions contend. There is the recently-discovered Book of Judas, too, that depicts the disciple as a misunderstood hero rather than the hated traitor that he is believed to be by most people. What did he do that was so wrong or terrible? Jesus told Judas what he was about to do, so he chose not to make a liar out of him. Why should he have turned down the money offered him? Wouldn’t most anyone have taken it? Maybe he figured that Jesus could take care of himself.

And why is Peter let off the hook? He was just as traitorous as Judas. Several times he denied even knowing Jesus when asked directly. Why? Was he afraid of guilt-by-association, that he would be hauled off, too, as an accomplice? Did any of the other disciples intervene when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus? So I don’t think it’s fair to single out Judas as the only betrayer. They are all guilty, it would appear.

It seems that all of our unanswered questions and speculations about some Biblical characters and events are the result of suppression and can be found in those omitted Gospels, and the version with which most of us are familiar is all a whitewashed and biased fabrication.

I relate in my On the Road with Cliff blog, that during my tours in Israel in 2008, I was dismayed by the fact that many of the Biblical historical landmarks have been obliterated and replaced with a church or some other edifice, to make them more tourist-worthy, I suppose. Just about everywhere that Jesus walked or did anything noteworthy, there is a church on the very spot to commemorate it. I would have preferred instead to see how all these places looked originally, to get some sense of the historical integrity of the locations.

(# O sacred ‘head’ now wounded… #)
January 1, being a week after Christmas, has also been designated the Feast of the Circumcision, the day that Christians celebrate Jesus’ circumcision. I tell you, everything that involves that man is a big deal. Since we know so little about Jesus’ life, I suppose that everything he did is deemed to be important. I’m surprised that they haven’t designated the day that Jesus first became potty-trained and celebrate that event every year, with a church on the spot where he took his first dump! But I am wondering why was it necessary for Jesus to be circumcised anyway? I know it’s a Jewish thing and all, based on prospective procreation practices (see my For the Bible Tells Me So essay for the explanation). But if he was destined to die young and remain a purported lifetime celibate (for those who don’t accept the following married-with-children scenario), what difference would it make if he kept his foreskin? Who was even going to see it? That right there, for me, questions his supposed divinity. But how do we know if Jesus actually was circumcised? Who performed the procedure? Might Joseph have been his mohel? There are too many unwarranted assumptions about a lot of things related in the Bible. Who actually witnessed all of those events? Just because it’s written somewhere does not make it so.

Someone so important to our humanity, I would think that somebody would have taken a closer account of Jesus’ life and activities. Without those missing gospels that we have not been privy to all these years, we know next to nothing about his growing-up years and young adolescence, only of the few months (or possibly few years) before his subsequent crucifixion. Where was he and what was he doing during all that time? Some scholars have conjectured that Jesus might have gone to India and studied Buddhism there. He apparently was quite educated in religious and spiritual matters, which I’m sure he didn’t learn from anyone in Nazareth, or wherever the hell he grew up.

Now, thanks to Dan Brown’s mystery novel The Da Vinci Code and other publications, a long-buried, much more controversial account of Jesus has finally come to light. For those who are not familiar with the book or the movie made from it, it involves the legend of the Holy Grail with a new twist. You see, the Spanish word sangreal can be divided in two ways. “San greal” means “Holy Grail,” but “sang real” means “royal blood.” Until I read the book, I always thought, just as most of us, that the Holy Grail referred to the cup, or chalice, that Christ and his disciples drank from during the Last Supper. Other accounts claim that it’s the cup which held his blood at the Crucifixion, which may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. You see, it turns out that the Grail is not just a cup, if really that, but so much more. The Grail holds symbolic and metaphorical proportions.

According to Brown and other theological historians, the Grail is actually Mary Magdalene, as it involves her marriage to Jesus Christ and their royal lineage, since Jesus and Mary M. both were descended from kings. So the Grail did contain the blood of Jesus, or rather his bloodline, but in the guise of a person, namely Mary Magdalene, not a tangible chalice, although the chalice is the symbol for the sacred feminine, or more directly, the woman’s womb. See how it all ties together?

Now, although the present Bible does not state that Jesus was married, his being an orthodox Jew, it certainly would have if he were not. There was a legal requirement for the heir to the Davidic throne to marry and produce further heirs. That would mean, then, that Jesus didn’t die how and when we have thought, but lived a full life with his wife and family. But even if their association ended with Jesus’ alleged death, Mary could have already been pregnant with their child during the time of the Crucifixion. They go on to say that she fled to France, then known as Gaul, and had the baby there, a girl named Sarah.

The Holy Grail, therefore, can also refer to the set of protected, secret documents that record the bloodline lineage of Sarah and her subsequent offspring, which certain people believe have survived to this very day! And this is what everybody is looking for. I find this evidence to be conceivably plausible. You have to read the book for all the fascinating details. The point of the story is, the reason that we didn’t know any of this is because of the elaborate, centuries-old conspiracy to cover it all up. But as with everything else, with conflicting accounts and without actual eyewitness proof, it all comes down to what we choose to believe.

Now, if you don’t buy that married-with-children scenario about Jesus but instead the commonly-accepted Biblical version, there is another aspect of denial among many Christians. And that is their resistance to the notion that Jesus might have been a homosexual, or at least bisexual. Well, why not? Let’s consider the circumstantial evidence. If you want to believe that he didn’t ever marry and had no romantic attachments with any women—except for Mary Magdalene, which doesn’t mean that he was having sex with her—then he must have preferred the exclusive company of other unmarried men. Jesus was human, so he must have had natural sexual urges. Whether he acted upon these urges with his male companions is open to conjecture. There was no reason for him not to. And being gay is not always about the sexual act anyway. Even if he was celibate, who would deign to wash a bunch of men’s old dirty, nasty feet, unless he was really into them?

In St. John 13:23 he is actually making out with “one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved” (scholars say that it is John himself). Why is John singled out over the other disciples? It appears that John was Jesus’ main man. It says that John had his head on Jesus’ breast, but what does that mean? It sounds as if they were necking. Even while Jesus was allegedly dying on the Cross, he made John the guardian of his mother, a situation reminiscent of what would happen if one half of a partnered couple dies before the other.

There are those who like to think that Jesus denounced homosexuals in the Bible. Where? He never did. There is no mention at all of homosexuality in the New Testament. On the contrary, Jesus always tried to impart to his listeners of his sermons to “love thy neighbor.” He didn’t qualify it with, “except your sinners, lowlifes, degenerates and homosexuals that you may come across.” Jesus repeatedly declared his undying love for his disciples and tried to get them to love each other as well. He never made a similar appeal to his girlfriends. Brotherly Love is a peculiarly gay philosophy.

It is written that when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas identified him by planting a kiss on him. Why a kiss? He could have merely pointed out Jesus or shook his hand. He didn’t have to kiss him unless he wanted to. Maybe that’s where the Mafiosa got their “Kiss of Death” thing from. You know, just before they have you killed, they will give you an apologetic, farewell kiss.

Just before Jesus allegedly “ascended,“ he three times asked Simon Peter, his other favorite, if he loved him. He sounds a bit insecure, doesn’t he? These Bible fundamentalists don’t want Jesus to be married and they don’t want him to be gay. They seem not to want to accept either notion. They don’t care what kind of person he actually was, I guess. People are going to believe what they want, but how much proof do they need? Do they have to catch them in the act to be convinced? Since the Bible’s writings are all about individual interpretation, I, too, can take certain passages to mean what I want them to, just as everyone else does.

It’s not unusual for someone to refer to God as their Father. We hear it all the time. When people pray, they call on “Our Father, Who art in Heaven…”—thus begins the popular Lord’s Prayer. One problem that I have with Jesus’ being divinely conceived is in deciding what the “Son of God” should be. Of all the people who existed at the time, why did God choose a Jewess peasant to have His child? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I still wonder, why her specifically? That would suggest that God is a racist or white supremacist, thus making It a gnostic person rather than a mindless, indiscriminate spirit. It causes me to conclude that Jesus’ conception and birth was all a natural occurrence and not of any mystical, planned prophecy.

We all suppose that Jesus loved animals and regarded them all equally. So why would he say (if he actually did) during his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:15), “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep‘s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”? This has been paraphrased as a deceiver being “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” That’s saying that the wolf is a predatory villain to the honest, trustworthy sheep. But aren’t all animals, including humans, “ravening” when they get hungry, not just wolves? Jesus is trying to make a point, of course, but would he willingly disparage one of his Father’s creatures over another? I think something may have gotten lost in translation. It is modern Man who frequently gives wolves a bad rep.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only [?!] begotten Son, that whoso believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Oh, really? “He“ doesn‘t seem to love the world so much when “He“ keeps destroying it all the time. “Jesus Christ, our Lord, God’s only Son, was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.” But isn’t that everyone’s situation? I consider all embryonic conception to be begotten by God, therefore we are all “God’s Children.” So how did Jesus get that unique distinction? As far as the known Gospels go, he himself never said so. It must be a manmade pronouncement, because God Itself couldn’t have told anybody such a thing either. Moreover, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, one of his Beatitudes states, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God.“ Well, I have been a peacemaker all of my life, so then am I not a Child of God?

But for the sake of discussion, no matter how often this has been quoted, sung or explained, it still doesn’t make any sense to me. Since people have given God human personification and attitudes, why would “He” have “His only begotten son” killed for the purported purpose of saving the souls of humankind from damnation in the afterlife? What does the one thing have to do with the other? And what does Jesus’ suffering and Crucifixion have to do with any of us personally? Was he doing us all some kind of favor? Who asked him to?

I also hear all the time that “Jesus died for our sins.” What does that mean? There is also, “O Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world…“ Oh, really? Where did it all go? Everyone is still sinning just as much as they did before and even since Jesus came along. Then are we now absolved whenever we do something bad, not like before? So if we are all absolved of all our sins, what’s stopping people from doing anything that they damned well please? That is what they are doing anyway. But how is his purported dying supposed to accomplish this absolution? And then to add to my confusion, if he allowed himself to die in order to save us, why didn’t he stay dead? What kind of sacrifice is that if he’s going to get right back up again? A martyr needs to remain dead in order to retain their martyrdom. I just don’t get it.

(# Were you there when they crucified my Lord?… #)
Well, were you? I wasn’t. How can we be absolutely sure that Jesus actually died on that cross? He might have been only rendered unconscious from sheer exhaustion and lack of food and water, exposure to the elements, whatever. A person’s pulse and heartbeat can slow down so much as to be undetectable. There was no mention of any doctors or a coroner at the scene to determine if he was really dead. How did anyone know for sure? Many people have been known to have been buried alive. Or consider the possibility that he faked his own death. That has been done, too, you know. One way to stop someone from torturing you is to play dead.

This is not solely my idea either. Dr. Hugh J. Schonfield suggested this very notion way back in 1965 in his book The Passover Plot. And Jesus had performed magic tricks in public before. Its being the Sabbath and all (how convenient!), they couldn’t do anything with him until Sunday, which is what he was counting on, so they just wrapped his body and laid him on a slab in a tomb. If he had been subject to our modern postmortem techniques, such as being drained of all his blood, pumped with embalming fluid, then put under the ground, or even cremated, I guarantee you that there would have been no getting back up three days later, or ever, I don’t care whose son he was!

The same goes for Lazarus. There is some documented evidence that he wasn’t dead either. What if all the lame people that Jesus made walk already could walk? Maybe they didn’t know that they could, because they hadn’t tried in a long time. Jesus told them to have faith in themselves, and it worked. I’m sure that all of those so-called “miracles” in the Bible can be explained scientifically, too, that is, if they even happened at all. Nope, I don’t take much stock in blind faith when it comes to Biblical matters. Without any real proof of anything, again it all depends on what we choose to believe.

Still keeping an open mind, however, as I like to consider all possibilities, suppose that I contend that Jesus did die as a result of his crucifixion? Then this newly-risen Christ that everybody thought they were seeing could have been only a spiritual apparition, a ghost, if you will. As it is even now, I’m sure that even in those days, people didn’t readily believe in ghosts. So instead of admitting that’s what it was, they chose to believe that Jesus was alive and well. He wouldn’t let anybody touch him, because he knew that they couldn’t. Some, however, like Jesus’ homeboy, Thomas, at first didn’t believe that he had returned from the dead. He had to show him his nail holes and pierced side before he would accept it. Why didn’t Thomas recognize him? His appearance apparently had changed drastically in just a few days. I think it was probably because his ghostly image would have been vague and undefined.

During the forty-day period between his “resurrection” and “ascension” Jesus appeared here and there several times. One of the Gospels reports that once while Jesus was breaking bread with his disciples, he miraculously vanished from their sight. Well, ghosts are known to be able to manifest themselves and vanish at will. So then his ultimate, so-called Ascension must have been really his “passing over” or “going into the Light.”

Or perhaps he is really an extraterrestrial from another planet and proceeded to go back to where he came from. Maybe that’s where he was during those missing years when we didn’t see him. He might have come back here to take care of some unfinished business, then went back again. (“J.C., phone home.“) What did Jesus mean when he told his gang, “I am going away, but you cannot go where I am going. You are from below, but I am from above. You belong to this world, but I don’t.”? They wouldn‘t have reported that Jesus disappeared into a spaceship, not knowing that there was such a thing. So instead it‘s said that it is a cloud that Jesus disappears into.

A ridiculous notion, you might be saying? I don’t consider that explanation any more ridiculous than the one that’s in the Bible. At least my scenario has some element of plausibility, if you accept the probability of alien space travel, whereas the other story borders entirely on the supernatural. “He ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father.“ Really, now! Who has actually seen him there? Jesus’ being an alien would explain how he could do those miraculous public displays of faith-healing, fantastic illusions (like walking on the surface of the water) and prestidigitation (changing water into wine). Maybe that is why they couldn’t kill him. Despite my original contention that Jesus was a mere mortal, what if he was the original “Superman“?!

Once the disciples were convinced of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, they went about the land relating the story to others. Then they, in turn, proceeded to spread the word, and many were killed for spouting such nonsense. So, you see, religious genocide is nothing new. People have been killing each other for their religious beliefs for all times. (See my A Critique of Catholicism for more horrific revelations.)

Religious zealots are always talking about the Second Coming of Christ (that is, if it would be only his second return), but what do you think would happen if Jesus did come back to Earth for a visit? First of all, almost nobody would believe it. Think about it. Some guy comes along and claims that he is Jesus Christ Incarnate. I mean, he would have to identify himself, wouldn’t he, for who would recognize him? “Hey, look, isn’t that the real Jesus Christ there?” “Well, it must be. He looks just like all his pictures!” How would anybody know, unless he himself told us? You know that very few, if any, are going to take him seriously. He must be either a charlatan or a nutcase. It’s just like when somebody claims to be the real Santa Claus. They didn’t respect him the last time, what makes you think anything will be any different next time? I imagine that he would be ridiculed, persecuted, arrested, incarcerated and lynched, just as before. The idea! Somebody’s claiming to be Jesus Christ! How dare he!

Well, what do you know? I stand corrected. I have been proven wrong somewhat about my The-Return-of-Jesus theory recounted in the last paragraph. It has since come to my attention through the media that there is a guy going around today claiming to be Jesus Christ Incarnate! And I must have human nature all wrong, too, because instead of next-to-nobody buying this guy’s claim, he has thousands of believers worldwide, who follow him around everywhere and give him regular donations for his “Creciendo en Gracia” (Growing in Grace) ministry. He is a sexagenarian evangelist who goes by the name, José Luis De Jesus Miranda and lives in Doral, Florida, near Miami. His disciples don’t seem to mind that he is Puerto-Rican(!), divorced, became a heroin addict at age 14, and served time in prison for theft, before he received his “divine calling.”

I guess that the common people are more gullible, more easily-influenced and accepting than I gave them credit for. Some people just seem to need to have something and/or somebody to believe in, no matter how improbable or impractical they may be. Of course, there are those, too, who do take the cynical approach and think that this Miranda guy is more like the Devil or even the Antichrist. He constantly receives death threats which compels him to have bodyguards with him at all times. So actually, I wasn’t too far wrong before after all. I just didn’t count on the mindless lemmings in the world who tend to believe anything they’re told.

(# …Those dear tokens of his passion still his dazzling body bears, cause of endless exultation to his ransomed worshippers; with what rapture gaze we on those glorious scars!… #)
How romantic! The lyrics of some of our Christian hymns sound like an admirably amorous love affair going on with Jesus. His dazzling body? (Ooh, baby!) Glorious scars? Come on, doesn’t that seem a little weird? And rather sadistic as well, constantly glorifying Jesus’ cruel suffering and purported death. Whenever I see crucifixes displayed in churches and other places, Jesus is always almost naked except for a sash or something draped around his midsection, covering his genitals. I would think that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, he must have been butt naked. That’s part of the humiliation. They wouldn’t even give the man water to drink when he requested it, but they were so concerned about his modesty? I don’t think so. I can imagine an onlooker exclaiming, “Christ, are you hung!”

Here is one final thought. Jesus’ seven last utterances from the Cross have been recorded in the Scriptures, starting with “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” and ending with, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” But I suspect he might have said one last thing before he allegedly croaked, and that is, “I’ll be back.” So Arnold Schwarzeneggar didn’t originate that famous movie line. He stole it from Jesus!

[Related articles: A Critique of Catholicism; For the Bible Tells Me So; Heaven and Hell; I Believe…; Let’s Have an Outing; Nativity Negation Redux; Oh, God, You Devil!; Sin and Forgiveness; The Ten Commandments]

Drug Legalization, Use and Abuse

I don’t like this Governmental bias about which controlled substances should or should not be legal. If some are legalized then I think that all should be, no exceptions. Why are some dangerous drugs, like alcohol, nicotine and some prescription drugs, okayed and accepted by the Government and Society, in general, when others, some less harmful, are not? I think it should be a matter of personal choice, just like everything else is. The excuses given for anti-legalization don’t hold up with me. “If we legalize all drugs, then everyone will want to do them and become addicts.” How absurd! Most people don’t govern their behavior according to what’s legal anyway. I don’t smoke cigarettes even though they are legal, and I wouldn’t take up heroin just because it became so. People who want to do these dangerous drugs, do them anyway, regardless of their legality.

We hear the meaningless buzz-phrase “the war on drugs” thrown around all the time, but it’s a futile battle because nobody is trying to win it. Come on, don’t you think that the Government could stop illegal drug trafficking if they really wanted to? I can’t get a little bottle of plain tap water through airport security, but people can manage to smuggle kilos of cocaine and heroin through on a daily basis! But why would they prevent the drug trade when they are being paid off by “organized crime” to keep it illegal? Legalization would destroy the black market and take away all that revenue from the crooks. It’s always about money. Why pay your local pusher $200 for an ounce of grass when you can buy a pack of 20 joints at the 7-11 for only $5?

But legalization would also encompass regulation. Safety standards would be implemented as well as cautionary health warnings on the containers. “Caution: This substance is highly addictive and has been proven to be quite injurious to your health and well-being. The manufacturers cannot be held responsible for its detrimental results. Therefore, abuse it at your own risk. Not to be sold to minors or pregnant women.” Just tell people what it is and let them govern themselves accordingly.

It seems rather hypocritical to me that alcohol is a legal substance, but it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle while “under the influence” of it. The need to drive has a much higher priority in our society than the need to drink. If it is so dangerous to drink and drive, then why it is okay to drink in the first place? Maybe it’s because alcohol has been known to muddle and confuse the senses and cloud your judgment. Marijuana, on the other hand, tends to heighten the senses and make one more alert. A stoned motorist is going to be more careful and aware about their own safety and that of their passengers and try to keep from being stopped by a law officer. They tend to be more in control with what they’re doing. A drunk driver is usually unable to keep it together even when they are trying. We are always hearing about traffic fatalities involving drunk drivers but hardly ever, if any, about those caused by drivers who were stoned on grass at the time.

Now that marijuana has been deemed beneficial for treating a number of medical ailments, like glaucoma, and has been found to relieve the nausea and discomfort associated with chemotherapy, I would think that it would be legalized for the mere reason of its medicinal benefits for a lot of people. It is certainly less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. So why are those substances still legal when they have been proven definitely to have often fatal effects with excessive use, and the non-fatal, even beneficial, marijuana is still deemed illegal in most places? What is up with that?

Again, I say, let adults be responsible for their own actions and choices in life, without arbitrary, especially Governmental, intervention. You must realize, too, that our biggest and most blatant drug-pushers are protected by the law. They are your physicians and your pharmacists. There are more people hooked on prescription drugs in this country than there are potheads. They sustain themselves on diet pills, pep pills, painkillers, stimulants, antidepressants, all sorts of potentially-addictive substances, but they’re all perfectly legal.

There was a time in our distant past when the most dangerous drugs were all legal and used by the common public on a regular basis. The taking of morphine and smoking opium was as common a practice as cigarette-smoking is today and the recent past. These and other drugs were marketed as secret “patent medicines.” This was before the Food and Drug Administration was established, and manufacturers were not required to list the ingredients of any product. So people willingly ingested these elixirs and tonics without knowing what the hell they were taking. They just knew that these medicines did indeed make them feel better, although the eventual side-effects was often addiction. Coca-Cola, or “Coke,” originally contained cocaine, hence the name. Heroin was originally introduced as a commercial cough syrup! Clueless mothers were unwittingly getting their children as well as themselves hooked, turning them into inadvertent, unaware junkies. It was this widespread addiction epidemic that eventually brought about the FDA, stricter regulations and even Prohibition.

Both TV news programs “60 Minutes” and “20/20” have recently reported about the present heroin epidemic in this country. And it’s not in the big cities’ ghettos either but in the small towns and suburban areas in states like Ohio and New Hampshire, of all places. And it’s not the older generation but high school teenagers and younger that are the primary junkies. Some athletes and others get injured and their doctors prescribe addictive pills to manage their pain. But then these kids discover that heroin is not only more available but is cheaper in the long run and provides a much better high than the pills do. And it’s so easy to come by. Those interviewed said that it was easier to get heroin right there in their little town than it was to score marijuana.

The reporter said that there are 26 deaths every day from overdoses of heroin! And that’s only those that are reported. Those distraught parents have learned not to say, “My child would never do heroin,” because they have discovered that it’s their kids who are the town junkies! They say, “But Johnny is a good kid,” as if they assumed that all drug abusers are bad people, until it’s their own “good” son or daughter who has became an addict. They all used to think that this sort of thing happens only to other people, not realizing that they, too, are “other people.”

Discarded needles and syringes are turning up just about everywhere. Young kids have found them on the playgrounds, in the parks and on the street while walking to and from school. The dealers, too, can be found everywhere, soliciting and recruiting new customers. There is an available drug called Naloxene, which can counteract the effects of a drug overdose, and now grade school kids as young as ten and eleven are being taught how to administer the drug, in case the need arises. With all that kids have to deal regarding their regular studies, now they have to worry about saving their sister or brother or parent from ODing on heroin. It certainly puts a new perspective on important parental concerns. I imagine that discovering your kid is gay is not as bad anymore as founding out that they’re a heroin addict! If you had your druthers, I guess you don’t feel so sorry for your sissy son now, do you?

The common over-the-counter cold remedy, Coricidin HBP (geared for people with high-blood pressure), which contains dextromethorphan, is not harmful if taken as directed, that is, one or two tablets at one time. Well, somebody discovered that the drug taken in large amounts carries with it hallucinogenic, mind-altering properties, and many teenagers are now taking it to get high. It’s relatively cheap, and they don’t need a prescription or a pusher to score it for them. They can just get it right off the shelf at their friendly neighborhood drug store. The kids have learned to disguise the pills as Skittles candies; there’s nothing to smoke, snort or inject, and the pills don’t make the eyes red or puffy, so their parents are none the wiser. It’s not until the reckless youngster ODs one night and has to be rushed to the hospital that their parents even realize that the kid has been doing the stuff for many months without their knowledge.

One boy on a TV news report admitted that he once had upped his dosage of 16 pills (which, in my opinion, is already ridiculously and dangerously too many) to 72 pills at one time! Of course, it almost killed him. So, you see, legalization of all drugs is not going to make things any worse than they already are. Humans can and do abuse any substance, regardless of their benefit, detriment or legality. If someone badly enough wants to kill themself in a pharmaceutical manner, there are plenty ways to do it, without breaking the law.

There was a public announcement campaign on TV, with parents trying various ways to talk to their kids about drugs. One had a mother using the “rap” approach. “Don’t do drugs. Drugs are bad…” That advice is about as valid as the “Never talk to strangers” mantra that I debunked in another article (Parenting 101). Most drugs are not bad, only just a few. So not to do any drugs whatsoever would mean to forbid all doctors from prescribing any sort of medication to their patients and to do away with pharmacies altogether. That admonition is also vague and confusing. Don’t do which drugs? Be specific. Do you mean that I shouldn’t take a Tylenol if I have a headache or some penicillin to treat my gonorrhea infection? They should either cite which specific substances that they don’t want their children to “do” or amend the advice to “Don’t abuse drugs.” The fact is, one can overdo anything, no matter how harmless, or not, it may seem. I contend that moderation is the key to personal safety and relative non-harm.

I have heard hypocritical friends and acquaintances berate your hardcore drug addicts while I watch them light up another cigarette, order yet another martini and gulp down one after another cup of coffee or can of cola. They don’t consider nicotine, alcohol, and even caffeine, potentially-dangerous drugs, because they are legal, you see. But my dictionary says that a drug is “a substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body.” I think those three therefore qualify. The individuals who have to have coffee as soon as they get up in the morning and drink many cups of it throughout the day must be addicted to the caffeine. I can’t imagine that it’s the flavor of the coffee that they just cannot do without. I love eggnog, but I don’t have to have it all day every day.

Another TV ad shows a kid asking his parents, “Did you ever try drugs?” How can anyone answer that question truthfully in the negative? Who has not ever ingested a single drug in their entire life? What, no coffee or an aspirin? You have never puffed on a cigarette? Again, they need to specify which drugs. “Dad, have you ever done crack?” for example. I have heard of people drinking themselves to death and killing themselves with doctor-prescribed pills (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and others!), but I don’t know of anyone who ever tried to overdose to the point of death on marijuana alone. There are quicker and easier ways, to be sure.

Age Is Just a Number

This is a continuation of my discussion about gender issues and appearances as they pertain to age.

What is with this obsessive preoccupation with youth and aging? Aging is a natural and unavoidable process in the progression of life. If we stay here long enough, we will get old. That’s just the way it is. Why not accept that fact and just deal with it? I happen to think that age is not all that important, but it apparently is to our societal and moral structures, and I do realize that people are quite judgmental and opinionated about people’s ages.

There is a lot of age discrimination out there, especially with regard to gender. A man between 50- and 60-years-old is said to be “distinguished” and “coming into his own,” while a woman over forty is already “over the hill” and “all her good years are behind her.” That may be what causes women, in particular, to have such hangups and apprehension about their age. Many women never want to admit their real age, as if the passage of time is not going to tell off on them eventually anyway. They are just deluding themselves. Who do they think they’re fooling?

Who is going to believe that a woman with grown children already in their 30s and with grandchildren even, is still only 39? Some of them are even younger than their own daughters! Although it’s not as bad with female celebrities anymore, whose exact ages tend to be public record, there are still those who consider it rude or in poor taste to ask a woman her age. I don’t understand that. Why the reluctance and denial? Are they afraid that they will be judged if they think that they look older than they really are? But what if they’re self-assessment is wrong? I think that the older a person is, and especially if they still look good and take care of themself, will solicit more compliments from people if they admit their real age, rather than trying to put it back several years.

I am told all the time that I don’t look my age and that it’s hard to discern most black people’s exact ages. It’s true in many cases that “black don’t crack.” In 1982 when Lena Horne was playing on Broadway, she turned 65, and people were saying, “Boy, she sure doesn’t look 65!” ‘And why not,’ I asked them? ‘Maybe that’s what 65 is supposed to look like.’ Just because she was still fabulous-looking with clear, smooth skin and in good health and not all broke-down and decrepit, she didn’t look her age? Sixteen years later she still was looking good and still had a voice. When they ran her TV ad for Gap then, I thought, ‘Bless her heart. I hope that I’m still doing singing commercials when I’m 81!’

Just as with physical height, I think that white people perceive age from their own viewpoint. If any of us look better and hold up longer than they do, then they think it’s something special or remarkable. I have noticed that in general, white people seem to age earlier and at a faster rate than blacks do. White women mature sooner but they seem to retain their youth longer than the men, however. Most of the white men I know or encounter in life who are the same age or younger than I am, appear to be older.

When I browse through my high school yearbook, I notice that the black seniors look like teenagers, which they are, but many of the white girls look like 30-year-old women! Of course, I’m generalizing, but there is some validity to my observations. At my 30th and 35th high school class reunions, for example (the only ones that I have attended so far), the few black former classmates who were there looked basically the same. Our bodies had changed, of course, but we still had the same recognizable faces. The white alumni, however, had aged and changed drastically. Many of them bore no discernible resemblance to their yearbook pictures. And since we are all the same age, I think it is a fair assessment.

Seeing how movie stars age further illustrates my point. Compare some actors when they were in their twenties and thirties to when they were in their sixties and beyond. Here is a random sampling: Marlon Brando, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Tony Curtis, Bette Davis, Dorothy Lamour, Laurence Olivier, Mickey Rourke (what happened to him?!), Jane Russell, Frank Sinatra and Lana Turner. When Judy Garland died, she was only 47, although she looked 70, hardly any resemblance to her younger self. Some exceptions, that is, those who look, or looked the same up until they died, and without facial surgery assistance, are George Burns, Dick Clark, Jackie Cooper, Olivia De Haviland, Sally Field, Bob Hope, Robert Mitchum, Maureen O‘Hara, Shirley Temple and Betty White.

No matter what people do to themselves to make them look younger, it doesn’t change their true age. Just like a 70-year-old woman who gets a facelift, she is still just a 70-year-old woman with a facelift! She may look younger, but we know that she must be much older, or else why would she need the facelift?! I really don’t understand the philosophy behind this irrational prevalence of cosmetic surgery. Has “Society” brainwashed these people to be ashamed of their deteriorating appearance, due to aging? Are most of humanity really that superficial and harshly judgmental about other people’s looks retention or lack thereof? I suppose they are, but that doesn’t mean that we have to play into it. If it is the attractive youths who are the ones setting the rules and standards of physical beauty, don’t they realize that someday their turn will come and others will judge them the same way they did when they were young and attractive?

Aging is an unavoidable fact of life, and no amount of plastic surgery is going to prevent that fact. Any surgery is only temporary anyway. It lasts only a few years, if that, then they have to keep doing it again and again to retain that desired look. It’s futile, in my opinion, and blatantly dishonest besides. Just like the balding men who wear fake hairpieces, we can always tell when somebody’s had a face job, and I, for one, don’t think any more or less of someone who chooses not to have work done on themself. I always liked Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers because they were funny, not because they kept wanting to look younger than they really were.

Of course, we are all critical and judgmental about everything, myself included, but that should be our own problem, not anyone else’s. Sure, that actor is looking a little haggard these days, and that other one is really showing her age, too. Oh, yes, I will talk about you, but so what? Don’t go through all of that trouble on my account. I’m not anybody that you need to impress. For myself, too, and not that I need it, I refuse to subject myself to the pain and discomfort and expense of cosmetic surgery just to receive possible universal acceptance. And you’re not going to please everybody anyway. What you see is what you get. This is it, honey!

In the 1973 film Ash Wednesday Elizabeth Taylor feels that her husband, Henry Fonda, has lost interest in her. So she has a facelift, thinking that it will help restore her marriage. But after she goes through the operation–the whole procedure is depicted in the movie–hubby Henry couldn’t care less. It was all for naught. His disinterest has nothing to do with her face. He just doesn’t want her anymore.

A colleague of mine once told me that I should color my hair to cover the gray, presumably to make me look younger. I told her, ‘What do I want to look younger for?’ Everyone who knows me knows how old I am. What would that prove? Betty White was still a blonde up until she died, but we know that the woman was 99! Besides, age deterioration is more apparent in one’s face and body, not their hair color or presence of same. There are people in their twenties who already are bald or have gray hair.

People seem to have a fear and dread of getting old but usually feel quite differently when they get there. As I am one who is aging relatively gracefully, I am not all that apprehensive about getting older. My age has affected my health more than it has my appearance. I never lie about my age. I am thankful for every birthday I make it to. Instead of dreading that I am another year older, I celebrate and rejoice in the fact that I survived another year of life. So many of my friends didn’t make it this far. Singer Patti LaBelle is grateful that she was the first and only of her siblings to make it to age fifty. I, too, consider growing old to be an accomplishment, certainly not a curse.

Realize that age is only a number, and you’re only as old as you feel. I know people much younger than I am who are always sick and in pain and all broke down long before their time. I have more stamina than some guys in their thirties. A woman I know once expressed to me some years ago her desire to go back to school to pursue a nursing career, but she was worried about the amount of time it would take. She said, “I’ll be fifty by the time I finish my schooling.” I gave her this to ponder. ‘How old will you be if you don’t do it?’

There is something to be said for aging. With age comes wisdom, experience and hopefully, respect. It gives one a different perspective of life and your priorities change. Little things that I used to obsess about and bother me when I was younger, I don’t give a shit about anymore. What can you tell a centenarian, someone who has outlived everybody they know and has probably seen and done it all? I wouldn’t dare try to advise or contradict such a person. Of course, one is never too old to learn something new, but that’s different than some young whippersnapper telling a much older person how to live or criticizing the way they choose to do something. My way seems to have worked for me this long, so how dare you try to make me change for your benefit. Make it to my age and experience everything that I have gone through in my life, and then you may be able to offer some useful advice. Otherwise, shut up and leave me be.

Here is more double-standard hypocrisy. It is perfectly and sociably acceptable for an older man to be involved with a much younger woman, but not so when an older woman is with a much younger man. Age of Consent certainly is a controversial issue with many people. It is difficult for us not to generalize about how old a person should be before they are legally responsible for their own sexual activities, proclivities and attractions. The exploits of sexually-active teenagers who are approximately the same age—except for their parents’ possible disapproval of their having sex at all—are not subject to any particular legal intervention. But if a teen chooses, as should be their right, to have sexual relations with a consenting adult, then the relationship is looked upon by many as sick and perverted, on the part of the adult, referring to them as a pedophile or child molester. It’s not molestation if the so-called child is a willing participant. That’s why I consider the imposed notion of statutory rape to be unconstitutional. I never gave the Government permission to determine by law whom I can or cannot have sexual attractions for. Therefore, I think that Age of Consent should either be redefined, or because of its mere unconstitutionality, be done away with altogether.

A fact is, you can’t rape the willing. Realize, too, that statutory rape is a sexist imposition. The dictionary’s definition applies only to females, which would infer that young women don’t have the right to choose their own love interest, based on his age, as young men do. Now, I don’t mean to imply that people don’t rape or molest children, but those are specific criminal acts that should have nothing to do with age. A man who sexually abuses a young girl against her will is no worse than one who rapes a grown woman against her will. They both are serious violations. But when it is qualified with the “statutory” designation, that means that someone else other than the couple having the sex is objecting to the union. In probably every case, the girl is being sexually-active by her own doing, and it is her parents that are in denial about their “innocent little girl” and choose to blame everything on the man instead. He should know better than to take advantage of a child. But what if that child is a precocious little slut who seduced the man? It’s not always the man who is the aggressor.

I have found that even some word definitions take on new meanings to reflect modern times. The word pedophilia, from the Greek, used to mean simply, a fondness for children. There’s nothing wrong with people liking children. I would think that all parents and especially anyone who works with children–schoolteachers and administrators, camp counselors, scout leaders, day care workers, etc.–must like them, or why would they be having them and working at those jobs? But as humans tend to do, we always have to reduce everything to sex. The more recent dictionary definition of pedophile now states, “an adult who has a sexual attraction to children.” I think that is negatively judgmental and blatantly presumptuous. So now if a man says that he likes children, some take it to mean that he is a sexual predator. If they are going to change the original meaning of an innocent word to mean something with aberrant connotation and criminal intent, then they need to give us another word to use that is less accusatory.

Having an attraction for something or someone and acting upon it are two different things. And then many of the aforementioned may love children for their mere being but do not desire them sexually. That’s an unfair stigma to impose upon someone. A person is what a person does, not necessarily how they feel about something. We can’t help how we feel about something, we can only control our actions. A person may contemplate murder, for example, but does not become a murderer until they actually carry out the deed. When an adult molests a child against their wishes, call them what they are, a child molester. Michael Jackson never denied being a pedophile, per se–so, the man enjoyed the company of children–he only denied having sexual relations with them. There is a big difference in sentiment, which the current definition does not acknowledge. Now when someone is deemed a pedophile, it is automatically assumed that they are sexually molesting underage children, which may not be the case at all. Having positive feelings towards certain people doesn’t always have to involve the sex act.

That being said, the widespread incidence of child molestation against young boys has recently come to public light. Men by the droves have finally come out to admit that as children they were sexually abused by adults. Not surprisingly to me, many of these predators are your trusted local parish priests who went on for years undiscovered, because the parents were unaware and unsuspecting, and the boys themselves never told anyone what was being done to them. Some were and are victims of family members, including their own parents and older siblings. And when the perpetrators are those who the kids love and trust, their actions tend to go unreported and they often get away with what they’re doing. They don’t want to send their own father to prison. I mean, other than “that,” he is a loving, providing parent. In the case of those priests, even when they are found out, they are never convicted. They are protected by the Church. They are merely reassigned to another parish where they can continue their seductions on a new batch of innocent, impressionable little boys. I discuss this topic in more detail in my blog A Critique of Catholicism, or check out the Best Picture Oscar-winner of 2016, Spotlight, for the inside scoop.

I hope you don’t think that pedophilia is some new reality. Adult men have been lusting after children for all times. Author Lewis Carroll loved little girls and boys, as did James M. Barrie. Artist Edgar Degas was apparently into them, judging from his countless works of art depicting young ballerinas. Edgar Allan Poe married his own cousin before she was 13, as did singer Jerry Lee Lewis.

Other musical artists from the rock ‘n’ roll era seem to have been obsessed with youths as well. Chuck Berry sang about children often. To name a few, “Johnny B. Goode,” “Little Queenie,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and his “Memphis, Tennessee” is about a 6-year-old girl! Dee Clark sang, # Hey, little girl in the high-school sweater, gee, I’d sure like to know you better… # Oh, you would, now? Since he is not another student, he must be a teacher or perhaps the school janitor. Del Shannon also had a song called, “Hey, Little Girl.” Steve Lawrence once warned, # Go away, little girl, before I beg you to stay. # No restraint, huh, Steve? There is the Beach Boys’ “Little Girl, You’re My Miss America”. The Beatles observed, # Well, she was just seventeen; you know what I mean… # Uh, not really, guys. What do you mean, exactly? Since you just “saw her standing there,” you must have been cruising.

Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs gave us # Hey, there, Little Red Ridin’ Hood, you sure are lookin’ good… # Sam is being a predatory “wolf” and is not even hiding that fact. Neil Sedaka did “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen” and the Crests put “Sixteen Candles” on the birthday cake of some young sweetie in their life. Johnny Burnette sang, # You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine. # I hope that’s his daughter rather than his love interest. How old is “Little Darlin'”? Is she an adult little person or a child? The list goes on and on. These blatant declarations of pedophilia are apparently overlooked and accepted, whereas they certainly wouldn’t be in real-life situations. It’s more hypocrisy. Musical humorist Anna Russell used to say that in opera you can get away with anything, as long as you sing it. I guess that would apply to childlust as well. So it’s all right to display your desire for underage children, as long as you express it in a song.

What about the pedophilic-themed novels Lolita and Death in Venice? During Greek and Roman times, when love between males was a common occurrence, older men usually took on beautiful youths as the objects of their affection. Many of the famous homosexuals throughout history maintained boy lovers. If there was some objection to the relationship, it was because they were gay, or even a matter of class distinction, not because of their age difference.

Along with statutory rape, Age of Consent is a modern institution, created so that the Powers-That-Be can have more control over everybody’s lives. We can’t have sex with just anybody. Somebody has to monitor our irresponsible behavior. Then we have your self-righteous hypocrites (I know a few myself) who are really “chicken queens” at heart themselves, but because of the so-called Age of Consent laws—and that is the only thing that’s stopping them—will not act upon their desired inclinations. Although I admire their restraint, these same people will then condemn and badmouth anyone who does have the courage of their convictions and who might actually act upon their desires, and will talk disparagingly about pedophilic organizations, like the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). By their own admission, if there were no age laws, they would be doing exactly the same thing. So what these apparently jealous guys are actually doing is vicariously punishing themselves by attacking and persecuting others. “If I can’t have this beautiful little boy, because of my own personal hang-ups, then I forbid you to have him either!”

I would like to say a word here in defense of NAMBLA, which is commonly held in public disfavor. I understand the premise of the organization to be that sexually-aware male children, who are considered “underage” by certain segments of our society, have the right to have sexual relations with men older than themselves without a moral judgment attached to it, because of the age difference. It’s a consensual thing. The club is for men who like young boys and boys who prefer older men, which should be both their options. A boy old enough to be aware of sex and his own desires should have the right to choose with whom he wants to do it. Unfortunately, there are men who do indeed prey upon little boys against their will, and will use the organization as a means to fulfill their unwelcome fantasies. So now what happens is, that convicted child molester is discovered to be associated with NAMBLA, therefore NAMBLA must be made up entirely of child molesters. That is an unfair conclusion.

It is the same with racism. The news media regularly reports that drug-related crimes are committed by black youths. So then any black youth that you encounter on the street should be regarded with fear and suspicion, because they are all drug-dealing thugs. If one person from a Moslem country commits a single act of terrorism, then every Muslim in the world should be considered a terrorist. As with every social group, it only takes a few to damage the reputation of all the others. Why should one (or even a few) bad apple spoil the whole bunch? Oh, incidentally, former juvenile actor Corey Feldman has publicly reported that although he was sexually abused by several industry child molesters as a youth, his close friend Michael Jackson was never one of them. So there!

So you see, one should not automatically assume that an “underage” person involved with an adult succumbed against their will. Juvenile seducers abound just as adult ones do. Some of your prostitutes and street hustlers begin as teenagers, some as young as 12-years-old. In my own case, for instance, ever since I became sexually aware, at the tender age of 14, I was always attracted to older guys. I did play around with my schoolmates and such, but when I went out street cruising, I was looking for a man! But I never was molested or abused by anyone. I was always the instigator and the seducer, or at least a willing participant, as is often the case. All children aren’t as innocent and naïve as their elders think they are, or would like them to be. Even as I got older, I still preferred older gentlemen than myself, but now at 76, I prefer men who are within my generation and younger. For an ongoing relationship, however, I don’t want them to be too young. I want to be around people that when I mention the names Tom Lehrer or Laura Nyro, they don’t say, “Who?!”

There is a certain irony involved in that a man can be much more easily convicted of statutory rape, even when the girl was totally willing and the charge was made by somebody else. But a man who sexually assaults a grown woman against her will often gets acquitted or not convicted at all because of lack of proof or because the woman is reluctant to press charges, due to the harassment and persecution that she herself is put through by the court system. So that young girl’s consensual older lover gets sent to prison while her mother’s rapist gets off scot-free. What kind of justice is that?

Why should everyone have to stay within their own age group when it comes to romantic relationships? Adults can make their own choices. Some people go for men and/or women older than themselves, while others prefer them to be younger. In the same respect, adolescents should have the same rights as an adult. There is nothing wrong with a 40-year-old man involved with a 30-year-old woman. But people think differently when just 15 years ago this same man was 25 and the girl was only 15. It’s the same 10-year age difference, so why should the moral standard be any different?

Recent news tells of 26-year-old schoolteacher Debra LaFave who had been displaying a romantic interest in several of her younger students, much to the country’s disapproval. Americans are still outraged about then 36-year-old Washington teacher Mary Kay LeTourneau’s torrid love affair with a then 13-year-old boy, and although the two claimed to be in love with each other (their union has even produced two children), people just cannot accept theirs to be a viable relationship. What could they possibly have in common? Well, offspring, for one thing! But Mary Kay is regarded by most as the sick one and is the one who had to serve prison time, even though the affair was consensual. The couple even married when she got out of prison. In fact, at last report, they were still together raising their children. She is 50-something now and the guy is in his 30s. So it’s no big deal now. Mary Kay did not seduce the youngster. In fact, the boy was the instigator, so why was he not being punished, too? If he is old enough to father a child, then he should take equal responsibility for the act. It takes two to tango, you know. Why should it be anybody’s business with whom two people choose to procreate? Now if they want to get her for adultery, since she was still married at the time of the initial affair, then that’s another story. But as of yet, adultery is not punishable by imprisonment. If it were, there would be a whole lot more incarcerations and a lot fewer people protesting.

As I said, people tend to place too much emphasis and importance on age. People are “too young” for this or “too old” for that or “not old enough” to do something. Age is merely a state of mind and completely a matter of individuality. Everyone has their own rate of growth and maturity. How and why can we arbitrarily decide that someone has to be at least a certain age to accomplish something that could possibly be achieved at an earlier age? The same thing goes for forced retirement. If a person is still productive after the age of 65 and wants to continue working, they should be allowed to. If certain requirements or standards are established for a particular privilege, skill or activity, then anyone should be allowed to apply, regardless of their age. Everyone who drives a motor vehicle must pass a test to get their license, so why does one have to wait until they’re 16 to drive when a kid might be ready at, say, age 13 or 14? As long as the child is tall enough to reach the pedals, operate the vehicle properly and pass the driver’s tests, why shouldn’t they be allowed to drive like someone much older? All traffic mishaps and violations, if hardly any, are not caused by beginning teenage drivers, you know.

There was a boy who piloted his father’s plane and flew across the country, when he was only 9-years-old! How old should a person be to be able to begin public school or vote or serve in the military, get married, have sex, have children? I think that it’s up to the individuals involved. And then, too, just because someone is of “legal age,” it does not necessarily mean that they are ready or able to perform certain functions in life. One couple could be mature enough and be responsible to marry while they are still teens and make it last for many years, while another couple, in their 30s, may not yet be mature enough to take on the responsibility of marriage and child-rearing. How old should you be to vote? Some of those that do, frequently make stupid decisions, don’t they? High-schoolers could have better insight and political knowledge than your veteran voters. How old should one be to die for one’s country? At 76, I’m still not old enough for that!

There are children who are more talented and have higher intelligence quotients than some adults. Child genius Michael Kearney graduated from college at age 10, the youngest ever. So, as I said before, age is merely a number which does not necessarily have anything to do with the amount or degree of a person’s knowledge, ability or life experiences. All human beings should be judged solely on those aspects, nothing else. When someone says that everyone is created equal, it does not mean that they first have to be a certain age, male, Caucasian and heterosexual. Even the last line of our Pledge of Allegiance says, “…with liberty and justice for All.” As if!

[Related articles: Gender Issues and Sexism; “How Do I Look?”]

Sexism and Gender Issues

Sexist attitudes are not inherent. They are instilled in us by our parents and society in general. They start on us as newborn babies to establish some kind of arbitrary sexual identity. Little babies are dressed a certain way, according to their gender. Blue and green are for boys and pink and yellow are for girls. Playthings are designated “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys.” Only girls are supposed to play with baby dolls. Why? Because girls need to learn how to take care of their real babies when they get them someday. So there is no circumstance where a man ever would be required to know how to care for a baby, to bathe and dress and feed it? Childcare is strictly a woman’s job? How about when the mother dies in childbirth or while the child is still an infant, and the father has to raise the baby alone?

I think that’s one of the problems of paternal child-rearing right there. Instead of teaching parental values to a young boy that will be useful to him and his family later on in life, fathers, especially, attempt to instill aggression and relative insensitivity in the child by giving him war toys and brute activity paraphernalia to play with. We’ve heard fathers refer to their baby boys as “Slugger” and say, “That’s my quarterback!” Come on, it’s a baby! He may not have any future interest whatsoever in baseball or football.

If the truth be told, though, realize that little boys actually do regularly play with dolls; they just don’t acknowledge it as such. Those little toy soldiers and superheroes that are popular with boys are not referred to as dolls, but as “action figures.” Well, Barbie and Chatty Cathy can be considered action figures, too, but they all are dolls just the same! A doll is “a small-scale figure of a human being used especially as a child’s plaything.” Okay? Then that would include your puppets and marionettes, too, as well as ventriloquists’ dummies. So there are grown men who play with dolls for a living and get paid lots of money for it, too! What I think these fathers’ main objection is, they don’t want their sons playing with girl dolls. It’s the same with real people. Ugh! Yucky girls! They don’t mind so much if the dolls are male action figures, however.

Consider this scenario. A man is toy shopping with his young son, and the boy asks his dad to buy him a Barbie doll. The father is dismayed and outraged at his son’s request and suggests that he get him a Ken doll instead. Do you get what I’m saying? This guy seems to be worried about his son’s being an aspiring faggot. I mean, if he plays with a girl doll, that must mean that he wants to be like a girl, right? No, it could be that maybe he already likes girls. So Dad steers the boy away from that Barbie bitch and towards the more appropriate male role model, Ken?! I guess he doesn’t realize what a big ol’ queen Ken is. Interestingly though, in the Child’s Play (1982) horror thriller, it is a young boy who begs his mother for a Chucky doll, and she readily gets him one without any of the usual sexist criticism from his peers. But since the doll is in the form of a little boy, I guess that makes it all right then.

My new doll is squooshy soft,
She dimples when I touch her;
I love my old doll very much,
But I love my new doll mucher.
–Ogden Nash

There is the old nursery rhyme, which sounds to me that it might have been written by a woman, because of its negative bias on one side, that tells what boys and girls are made of. Little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” while little boys are made of “snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails.” What in hell is a snip, by the way?

The sexist indoctrination is continued by informing children what activities and occupations are suitable, or not, for their particular gender. All boys are supposed to love rough-and-tumble play and getting dirty, while girls should be confined to their dollhouses and E-Z-Bake Ovens. Boys go out for team sports, and girls, since they cannot play themselves, become cheerleaders. Boys take machine shop at school, girls take home economics. Boys enroll in martial arts classes, girls take ballet lessons. Boys play the tuba, girls play the flute. Girls don’t have low voices, boys after a certain age, don’t sing soprano. Certain household chores, like cleaning, ironing, doing the laundry, and even cooking, that some men just cannot be bothered with themselves, by default become “woman’s work.” Real men don’t ever cry or display their affections to another man. Men have to resort to pugilism to prove their manliness. Only a wimp or a sissy would walk away from a fight. Women are weak, defenseless and helpless. A woman cannot feel complete without the love of a man, and vice versa.

Of course, all these platitudes are meaningless and have nothing to do with gender. Any and all of the aforementioned activities and preferences can be experienced equally by both males and females. Humans are always trying to point out the differences between men and women, but the differences occur between individuals, not between the sexes themselves. A man is not one thing and a woman is something else entirely. This particular man and that particular woman might be totally different, or they both could be virtually the same. My definition of sexism is bias of human difference based on gender alone.

Parents are especially responsible for perpetuating male chauvinism in children. There’s not as much pressure on girls, though, as there are on boys. If a girl is somewhat of a tomboy, that’s not such a bad thing. It’s even considered cute and sometimes encouraged when a little girl wants to play sports, wear baseball caps and overalls and get into scraps with her schoolmates. But if a boy is not interested in sports, wants to stay in the house to play with his dolls and help his mother with the housework, then he’s deemed a sissy and is given a hard time by his family and peers.

Why is doing “girly” activities such a terrible or shameful thing? The message they are giving boys is that females are inferior, second-class beings, not worthy of any respect, that any activity that is associated with girls are not worth doing and should be avoided at all costs. And why in the world would you want to be or act like one if you were fortunate enough to be born male? Who in their right mind would want to be a woman if they didn’t have to be?

This chauvinistic attitude is used all the time to belittle or insult males. “You throw just like a girl! … He drives like an old lady!” So what’s wrong with that? Your point being? What girl are you referring to anyway? The pitcher on the girls’ softball team? The national freethrow champion at some time was a 13-year-old girl. Which old lady? I know old ladies who are excellent drivers. If you mean that there is not much power behind his throw or that he drives below the recommended speed limit, then say that. There is no need to bring gender into it.

So boys grow up with this attitude toward all women, and even girls are taught to feel the same way about themselves. We often hear the comment, “She was behaving just like a schoolgirl.” What does that even mean? How do “schoolgirls” behave? And what kind of school are they referring to? Nursery school? High school? Medical school? Law school? Beauty college? Convent? What the phrase is really implying is, “She was acting like some silly white child,” and leave it at that. Her gender and/or scholastic status is inconsequential.

Another girly trait is showing one’s emotions. Only females are free to cry and show their soft “feminine” side. Males have to hold it all in. Crying is a sign of weakness, and as a man, we can’t have that, can we? “Stop that crying, Billy! I forbid it. Be a man.” Consider the restraint and inner turmoil a young boy has to endure when he is not allowed to cry or display his vulnerability. That is why a lot of these boys harbor pent-up rage and aggression. They have to get their frustrations out somehow. It’s done with females as well. “Please don’t cry, Sis.” Why not? If someone is crying, there is a reason for it. Leave them alone. Let them cry if they want to. The need to cry is a human right, not reserved for only one sex. Everybody cries, regardless of gender. Crying is cathartic, a welcome release, just as laughter is. Suppose we were forbidden to laugh or even to smile? What a joyless world it would be.

A young mother is Halloween costume shopping with her 10-year-old son. When the boy expresses to his mother his desire to go as a princess for Halloween, she freaks out. “You can’t be a princess, Timmy. That’s a girl’s costume.” But why not? He’s only pretending. He’s not Spider Man either, but she wouldn’t object to that. Instead of supporting her son’s decision and preference, I think she is more concerned about what other people will think about it. Maybe the kid doesn’t care what other people think. He much more cares about what his parents think. It’s they who have a problem with it and are passing the buck to protect the feelings of strangers. His mother is the one who told him that he couldn’t be a princess. He didn’t hear it from anyone else. She is blaming her own bigotry on the world at large. If the boy is attempting to express some preliminary gender identity awareness, it would behoove his parents to take heed now, but let the child be. They can’t stop him from being who he thinks he is.

I believe that it is this arbitrary gender delineation that causes transsexualism in certain individuals. Of course, everyone is different and has their own story to tell, but I think that most transgendered persons may be a bit confused, and/or harbor certain feelings of homophobia and self-hate. I have heard them complain that they feel that their problem is that they are of the wrong gender and were born into the body of the opposite sex. But that would imply that they have a pre-conceived notion of what each sex is supposed to be like. Why should common human feelings be exclusively reserved for one sex or the other?

A transgendered woman reports that when she was a little girl, she hated wearing dresses and preferred to engage in “boyish” activities. Well, that doesn’t make her a boy. She was just a girl who didn’t like to wear dresses! This same girl hated it when she developed breasts. She found them totally unnecessary, as she had already decided that she didn’t want to bear children, therefore would have no need to breastfeed—which is what they are for in the first place. There are many women who don’t want to bear children even though they are able to, but that doesn’t mean that they must be a man mentally. Just like there are men, I’m sure, who would like to experience actual childbirth, although they can’t, but that doesn’t make them a woman.

I think that male and female identity are strictly a basic, physical factor and not all that psychological. When a child is born, its gender is determined by its reproductive organs alone. If it has a penis, it’s a boy, and if it has a vagina, it’s a girl. The attending birthing participants don’t look at a just-born baby and declare, “Hmm, outwardly this looks like a boy, but I expect he was born into the wrong body.” The sex organs are what determine one’s sex, nothing more. Boys and girls both cry when they are spanked at birth. Their early development is the same, and they have the same bodily functions. Men go through their own “change of life” (referred to as “andropause“), just as women have their menopause. But only a woman menstruates and is capable of childbirth, and only a man can produce sperm. That’s what makes you what you are, not what you think you are.

It is parents and society in general that teach and condition children to regard the sexes differently and that each gender has to follow a certain criterion. And if we should dare deviate from this arbitrary set of rules, then there must be something terribly wrong with us. How can someone be born “into the wrong body”? I don’t think that God makes that kind of mistake. “He has male genitalia but a female brain.” How absurd!

Maybe there is more to this that I just don’t understand, or maybe it is as simple as I am making it. When a man says that he feels like a woman, what is he basing that on, having never been one? How does a woman feel anyway? How does a man feel, for that matter? Feelings are an impulse of all living things, that have nothing to do with a specific gender. Anyone can feel any way that they want to.

Many contend that men and women think differently about certain things, but do they really? If so, often it is just a biased double standard at play. When a man knows his own mind and takes charge of a situation, he is a forceful and respected leader. If it is a woman doing exactly the same thing, then she’s a bossy bitch. When a man is indecisive, we give him a break. He is just considering all aspects of the situation. If it’s a woman, however, it’s expected, because they can never make up their mind anyway, you know. If men and women do think differently, however, that could stem from their individual life experiences. Women have certain problems and personal issues to deal with on a regular basis, which may cause them to regard things differently than a man might. A man doesn’t know what it’s like to have to endure the menstrual cycle for most of their life or what it feels like to be pregnant and bear a child. So, it could be how our perception of things and how we cope with issues influence men and women’s thought processes.

Gender bias can stem from parental influence, conditioning, circumstance, personal treatment and upbringing. When a mother continually chides her young daughter with, “Don’t do that, dear. It’s not ladylike,“ the girl might think, “Well, gee, I must be a boy, then.” What, girls never fart? That is strictly a male thing? Again, where is it written that all human activities and behavior must be relegated to a particular gender?

Here is another case of life imitating art. One season of “Saturday Night Live” (which inspired a 1994 feature film as well) introduced a series of comedy skits, starring Julia Sweeney, called “It’s Pat!” about an androgynous being, whose plots always involved the other players’ trying to discover Pat’s true gender. One of my former church choir positions was at an Episcopal church in Brooklyn Heights. The first Sunday I was there, the rector who came out to officiate at the service was this androgynous person of indeterminate gender. My first thought was, It’s Pat! When I checked the church bulletin, I discovered that the rector’s name is Patricia Wilson-Kastner. Too much! I thought. Well, how do you like that? It really is Pat! I wonder if Julia knows her, and if she was the inspiration for the character.

Gender mis-identity could possibly be a matter of a hormonal imbalance in certain individuals. I believe it is possible to have too much of the opposite hormone, that some men can have an overabundance of estrogen in their physical makeup and that testosterone can predominate in some women, giving them the delusion that they are of the wrong gender. Sure, he’s rather fey, but he’s still a man, and she is quite butch, but she’s still a woman. How I think that homophobia plays into it is when, let’s say a man this time, has strong romantic feelings towards other men, but rather than consider that he might be gay, he decides that he is really a woman born into a man’s body! I mean, a man can’t be attracted to other men, can he? But to go through the traumatic ordeal of a sex-change operation just to avoid being labeled a homosexual or so that one can experience or “be” the other gender seems rather extreme, don’t you think?

I’ve met a few “trannies” in my day, but I don’t have any as close friends whom I can talk to about their particular orientation. I have heard some of them claim after their transition that they are happy with the change. But why did they need to change their gender? If you don’t like who you are, how is changing your sex supposed to fix it? As I discuss in another blog, personal happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy and accepting of yourself or you can choose to be miserable.

“60 Minutes” did a report on the subject, focusing on the current trend of adolescent individuals who desire to change their sex. What I found interesting and disturbing is that many of these kids are being influenced by internet sites propaganda and promotion, then when they proceed with their transition, even to the point of irreversible surgical procedures, they often change their minds, regretting their decision and feeling much worse about themselves than they did before, even contemplating suicide. They are also subject to mistreatment, physical abuse and public ostracism.

Listening to Chaz Bono (formerly Chastity) talk about their transition, I found to be quite revealing. You will indulge my use of various pronouns. “They” admitted that other than our genitals, boys and girls are basically the same. Well, duh! They reported that even when “she” came out as a sapphist at a young age, it wasn’t enough for her that she preferred women. She got it in her mind that she wanted to be a man. So she went through the procedures as far as mastectomy and hormone injections go, but when asked if they were going to get a penis to complete the deal, as it were, they actually said that having a penis was not of any concern to them. Say, what? Our penis is what defines us as men, as any man will tell you, just as a vagina is what defines a woman. That’s what made me realize that his thinking that he is a man is just in his deluded mind. How can he call himself a real man if he doesn’t have a dick?! And doesn’t at all care about having one!

I can understand their reluctance, though. It was explained to them that penile construction is a complicated and not always effective procedure. It’s not as difficult for trans men, since it’s easier to remove something than to replace something that was not originally there. If they use clitoral tissue to try to reconstruct a penis, it’s never very big, and if they try to build an artificial one, it will be just that, fake, and won’t have any feeling. The truth of the matter is, they haven’t yet figured out how to create a real, functioning penis on a woman. So, I say, Why even bother with all the rest then? All that trouble and expense to what end? After her/his double mastectomy, Chaz said, “This is the first time I feel like a whole person.” What?! Most women who undergo a mastectomy say the exact opposite, that they don’t feel like a whole woman anymore, and that one (or two) of the main things that define her as a woman is her breasts.

Chaz as a woman is now without breasts and as a man without a penis but considers themself a whole person. How twisted is that? It’s just another “Pat,” in my opinion. I try not to be judgmental, but really now! Also, their longtime girlfriend, who is a real sapphist and fell in love with “Chastity” because she was a woman, pretty much admitted that she has remained with Chaz and has accepted their choice to become more “manly,” but only because she still has the luxury of a pussy to play with. If she wanted dick or to be with a man, I suppose she would get a real one. To add to his identity confusion, Chaz is still calling himself gay, although his romantic partner is a woman. (::Cuckoo! Cuckoo!::) I learned that “Caitlyn” Jenner, too, has not gone all the way and chose to retain his penis. So he did not have a complete sex change. He is just your basic run-of-the-mill transvestite/drag queen, or what I discussed in my article, On Being Gay, a chick-with-a-dick!

It seems that certain people always have to have someone to discriminate against. Why can’t they accept everyone and let people be? Transgender individuals, including and especially youths, already have enough to deal with, just being who they are. They don’t need the added problem of not being allowed to use whatever restroom they choose. There are now public schools around the country that are implementing this hateful policy with the excuse, “What if a guy pretends to be a woman so that he can gain access to the women’s restroom for the purpose of molesting a woman in there?”

I hate how the Powers-That-Be are always making monumental decisions for groups of people, based on hypothetical what-ifs and just-in-cases. It has not happened yet and probably never will, but what if it does? Well, you can apply that notion to any situation. “The reason I carry an umbrella with me at all times is, what if it should rain?” “I wouldn’t live in San Francisco. What if there is another major earthquake?” “Never venture into Central Park after dark. What if somebody is in there lurking about?” “Don’t let those kid trannies use the school’s restrooms. What if they are in there only to stalk innocent prey?” You get the idea. But, so what if? I don’t live my life considering all the bad things that could happen in any given situation. If I thought that way, I wouldn’t do anything. But one is not absolutely safe anywhere. What if my ceiling or floor collapses while I am sitting here in my apartment? I just take my chances and hope for the best. Que será será. What will be, will be.

Pardon my somewhat digression. We were talking about restroom discrimination. Why need there be separate facilities anyway? Everybody does the same thing in there, regardless of their gender. Of late, unisex restrooms have been cropping up in some public venues. It doesn’t bother me. The women use the private stalls to do all their business, and the men have a choice of using the urinals or the stalls. So those using the stalls, it shouldn’t matter who is in there or what they are doing. Consider that, unless they have their own private toilet, the bathrooms in people’s homes are used by everybody in the family. Some people try to make so much of a big deal out of nothing.

Commentator David Susskind used to have a late-night talk show in the ’70s. One night he had on a group of individuals who seemed to be going through some sort of identity crisis. I’ve already expressed my views about so-called transvestism (in my blog, “How Do I Look?”), but for the sake of explanation, let’s say that these guests on the show were men dressed as women. They explained to David that the objects of all their affections were women, which isn’t so unusual, as many cross-dressers are, in fact, heterosexual. But these particular drag queens chose to identify themselves as “male lesbians”! Hunh?! They were men who had sex exclusively with women, but rather than be “straight,” they preferred to impersonate women and call themselves sapphists! What a world, huh? It takes all kinds, doesn’t it? I even heard of two man-to-woman trannies who became domestic partners and parents. But are they sapphists now that they have become women? It’s all very confusing.

Society also should be blamed for contributing to the unhappiness and negative self-image of a sexually-confused individual. Their being persecuted, ostracized and considered freaks by the general public sure doesn’t help their well-being, adjustment and self-worth. Even with hermaphrodite births, the parents are encouraged by physicians to decide which predominate gender the child should be raised as. Why choose for someone else one sex over the other? Suppose the parents tell the doctor to make their child into a boy, and then when the child gets old enough, “he” decides that he would rather be a girl instead? As a parent, I would not make such an arbitrary decision for my sexually-ambiguous child while they are still a baby. I would leave them alone and allow them to grow up to decide for themselves which gender they want to be. After all, it’s their life.

Therefore, hermaphrodites (or what is the current more-PC term: “intersexuals”), are your true bisexuals. Maybe they won’t choose one sex over the other but will decide to experience both camps. I think it all goes back to individual self-image and accepting yourself as you are. I was born male, black and gay, and that’s the way I intend to stay. I don’t want to be anything other than what I am. If anybody does not like either of those identities, then it’s their problem, not mine!

There was a time not so long ago when a real man was not even allowed to carry a shoulder bag, which is, in reality, a purse, even though long ago purses were originally used by men. It’s only the matter of the design of the thing anyway, as they all serve a similar purpose. But now the sexual barriers are breaking down somewhat, because, in addition to sporting purses, now men can wear high-heeled shoes, perfume, makeup, earrings and other jewelry in public without it being considered effeminate or sissified.

This is the dictionary definition given for the word effeminate, by the way: “having feminine qualities, as weakness or softness, inappropriate to a man; not manly in appearance or manner; marked by an unbecoming delicacy or over-refinement.” Wow, that’s a loaded one! Since the word feminine definitely applies to women, I guess we are to assume that effeminate applies only to men, because of the phrase, “inappropriate to a man.” So brute strength and coarseness are manly traits and to be weak and soft is “inappropriate,” just as to be a man is to be offensive and uncultivated because to be the opposite is “unbecoming.” I think that’s insulting to both sexes. Again, the message is, to behave “like a woman” when you are not, is inexcusable. I think that a definition of this sort should simply describe without being judgmentally biased.

There is even some chauvinistic sexism associated with a particular aspect of music theory. There are two types of cadences (musical endings) that are classified as masculine and feminine, the masculine being one that ends with a stress, while the feminine cadence is one that has an unstressed, or weak, ending.

On TV and in the movies some characters are so reluctant to use the word date. A guy will ask a girl out to have dinner with him or go see a movie perhaps, but will then assure her that this is not a date. Why isn’t it? It happens even in real life. Two people are seeing each other and going out on a regular basis, to parties and concerts and ball games and such, but they claim that are not dating. What’s wrong with calling it what it is? I suppose they think that someone will want to read romantic intentions into it, which the word itself has nothing to do with, necessarily.

As I am always curious about the real meaning of words, I looked up date in the dictionary, and I was surprised and appalled at what I found. Of course, the word has multiple meanings, but in this particular instance, it reads, “an appointment for a set time for a social engagement with a person of the opposite sex” and “to have social engagements with persons of the opposite sex.” It doesn’t mention anything about romance or affection between the persons involved. But how irresponsible is that to define a common word with such heterosexist connotations. So two people of the same sex cannot go on a date? It applies only to male-female couples? That’s not right.

And it doesn’t always have to be a “social engagement” either. Two people can have private one-on-one trysts without others around. I go on dates with men all the time with guys who are not my boyfriends. I often go to dinners and movies with more than one friend, but I still consider it a date nonetheless. When a person goes on a “blind date,” they don’t know what the outcome will be, having not yet met the other person. How can they even be sure that their date is of the opposite sex?

Fortunately, the antiquated notion that women are not allowed or expected to participate in certain occupations or activities that are more common to men is passé, and nowadays women can do everything that a man can do, and more. Females are never, or hardly ever, referred to as “woman doctor” or “lady cop” or “lady truck driver” anymore. She’s simply a doctor, cop, truck driver or priest. But I still hear people say, “He is a male nurse” or a “male model” or a “male prostitute,” or if a man takes care of the house while his wife works elsewhere, he is referred to as a “househusband.” After one’s gender has been established by an appropriate pronoun, the occupation itself does not need further gender designation. He can just be a nurse, a model, a prostitute or a homemaker, just like a woman.

Firemen and policemen are now firefighters and police officers. We have also done away with the sexist “-ess” and “-ette” designation on some professions that have become common to both sexes. Flight attendant has replaced stewardess, she is a server rather than a waitress, an usher instead of an usherette, and a person who acts for a living is an actor, whether they be male or female. Jane Lynch and Neicy Nash are TV game show hosts, not hostesses. I suppose, however, that women of royalty and nobility (baroness, countess, duchess, empress, princess) must remain so in order to distinguish them from her male counterparts.

Unlike most of the contributions by Afro-Americans that have virtually gone unacknowledged by White America, at least women’s historical achievements have not been completely disregarded, that is, as long as they are white. In most nations of the world, there have always been female rulers and heads-of-state. Queens, Empresses, female Prime Ministers and such are no novelty in other places outside the United States. So to elect a woman for U.S. President could have been a reality in a recent past election–it just didn’t happen. It was more the candidate than the fact that she is a woman. A lot of voters just don’t like Hillary Clinton. Now with Kamala Harris, a women-of-color, as our Vice-President, it could happen sooner than we think.

The modern Feminist Movement grew out of the desire for equal rights for women in a male-dominated society. What’s in a word? The very name given to the female of the species as well as the species itself are male-oriented. We are all members of the human race. The word woman is an acronym for “w(ife)-o(f)-man.” The word female stems from male. Even the pronouns she and her contain a “he” in them. It’s as if women cannot have their own identity without the man’s influence. I can understand why the feminists have changed the spelling of the word to “womyn” and “wimmin,” just to get that “man” out of there.

Now feminists have their own recorded account of past events that they call “herstory,” which can be studied right along with history. But it’s men who usually have hernias and it’s women who menstruate, go through menopause and have hysterectomies. He can have herpes and be guilty of heresy, too, and a female actor also may give a display of histrionics. Mannequins are made in women’s images as well as men.

Consider some of these advertising practices. In your supermarket you will find Manwich Sauce and Swanson’s Hungry-Man Dinners. What about all those hungry women out there in the world? Sony Walkmans, Discmans and Talkmans were purchased and used by probably as many women as men. It’s always a snowman that you build and a gingerbread man that you bake. Females can participate in the game of Blind Man’s Bluff right along with the males, just as women who work on street construction or in the sewers can make use of manholes and their covers. In folklore we always deal with the Boogeyman, Candyman, the Muffin Man, the Sandman, the Wolf Man, and the new movie baddie, the Bye-Bye Man. All first-year high school and college students are referred to as freshmen, although there are probably just as many women in attendance. We hear reference only to cavemen, but the women must have been living there with them as well.

Remember Animal Crackers, those little flavorless cookies in the form of various animals? Well, there is a version for dogs called People Crackers. These tasty pet treats take the form of mailmen, milkmen, firemen, policemen and dogcatchers—nary a female in the bunch. And of course, all the figures have obvious Caucasoid features, not that my sister and nieces would consider it any great honor to be depicted as dog food.

How about those annoying (to me, anyway) television ads for Sports Illustrated magazine? Especially around Christmas and Father’s Day, they would do a big subscription campaign by offering a special Swimsuit issue featuring scantily-clad, buxom, white women models. The promoters promise that this is “the perfect gift for every man.” (What about your sports-minded sapphists?) How insulting and offensive that is! My friends would not dare give me such a gift. And I know many men who have no interest whatsoever in sports, or nekkid women, for that matter. They are also implying that you have to be heterosexual to like sports and that even those who do, all prefer big-breasted, white women over all else. It’s sexist, racist, looksist, exploitative, all of that.

That tradition of the woman taking her husband’s surname upon marriage is another demonstration of male ownership. “You belong to me in every way now, so you have to share my name as well.” Of course, nowadays, wives can retain their maiden names or use both their and their husband’s name, but it wasn’t always that way. Women had to fight for that right, too, just like everything else. They all were not like Katharine Hepburn, who, when she married Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1928, made him change his name to S. Ogden Ludlow, so that she would not be confused with the other Kate Smith. What a control queen! That was hardly even necessary, since she did retain her professional name, which was also her real name anyway.

I consider myself a feminist and I am all for equal rights for women. I don’t condone any kind of discrimination, including sexual. I don’t think it’s fair for women to be treated differently, just because of their sex. They should receive the same pay as men for the same job, for instance. They should not have to pay more than the men for the same consumer products and services. Do you know, for instance, that car salesmen deal with women (especially women-of-color) differently than they do with men? They admittedly try to take advantage of the woman’s imagined ignorance in such matters by making their bargaining rate much higher than they would a man’s, because they presume (or hope) that women don’t know any better.

There has been considerable protest from certain people, especially feminists, concerning the exploitation of women in beauty contests and other situations where they are ogled, whistled at, manhandled or used merely as sex objects. Well, the truth of the matter is that these women put themselves into those situations voluntarily. It’s they themselves who agree to compete in beauty pageants and pose for magazines and films, pornographic or otherwise. They work as models, strippers, exotic dancers and prostitutes because they want to. They don’t have to do that, you know.

So the feminist protesters should just shut up and mind their business. Just because they don’t like it, they shouldn’t forbid all women to do certain things. It’s like people who protest demeaning sports like dwarf-tossing. But if the dwarf doesn’t mind, then let them be. Many women are exhibitionists, just like men are, and they enjoy displaying their wares in public arenas. So why shouldn’t they get paid for it, if they can? They are providing a welcomed outlet for your horny voyeurs.

Up to this very day, women have been constantly victimized and degraded in movies, mostly at the hands of male writers and directors. But these actors willingly take those roles and do whatever the directors tell them to do. If they don’t want to be exploited like that, then they should refuse to do those things. If every working female actor simply refused ever to allow herself to be a gratuitous victim, then these writers would have to stop including those scenes in their scripts, because there would be nobody to play them. But I doubt that they will ever do that. As long as these women continue to agree to play these roles, they are always going to be there.

Women are aware of how straight men are and how they treat women, so why should they be surprised or outraged by men’s behavior? Why do women get all dolled up and always are so concerned about their appearance, if not to be admired and revered by the men they encounter? She’s not wearing all that makeup and perfume just for herself. Oscar Hammerstein wrote this lyric for “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Flower Drum Song: # When I hear a compliment’ry whistle, which greets my bikini by the sea, I turn and I glower and I bristle, but I’m happy to know the whistle’s meant for me. # Of course, you are. If a woman dresses provocatively, in skimpy clothing, she must want to be noticed and is trying to attract male attention. So they shouldn’t get all indignant when a man flirts and tries to come on to them. Isn’t that what they want and expect from guys?

Of course, some women argue that they should be able to present themselves attractively without being harassed. But that’s not how things are in the real world. They can’t have it both ways, expecting men to read their minds or to know what their real intentions are always. If you present yourself as a hooch, expect to be perceived as one. Country singer and actor Dolly Parton tells how she models her professional persona after the town tramp, where she grew up. She admired the woman so, who purposely set out to make herself the center of attention. Dolly proudly tells people in interviews, “It takes a lot of work to look this cheap!”

The news scandal du jour is the male celebrities and men in powerful positions being accused of sexual harassment of women. First, it was that isolated incident back in 1991 with Chief Justice Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. Then a few years ago Bill Cosby was called on the carpet for his inappropriate behavior. Then the next more recent big story dealt with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Now it seems that the floodgates have been opened, and they are coming out of the woodwork.

Roger Ailes, Aziz Ansari, Scott Baio, Mario Batali, Tom Brokaw, Billy Bush, Louis CK, Michael Douglas, James Franco, Al Franken, Morgan Freeman, Mark Halperin, Dustin Hoffman, Garrison Keillor, R. Kelly, Matt Lauer, Peter Martins, Danny Masterson, Leslie Moonves, Roy Moore, Larry Nassir, Bill O’Reilly, Brett Ratner, Charlie Rose, Russell Simmons and Jeffrey Tambor so far all have been accused of sexual misconduct. There seems to be a new offender every day. These men’s public outing has resulted in their losing their jobs or positions, some of them.

Bill Clinton was impeached from only an accusation, and in his case it was consensual. And although former President Donald Trump was added to the list for similar, but non-consensual behavior–he outwardly admitted publicly to some of his past indiscretions–no disciplinary action has been imposed on him yet. Has he (or somebody) paid some of these women to keep their mouths shut? Does Trump think that he is above the law? He must be. He should be held up to the same scrutiny as everybody else. Only time will tell.

Some of the aforementioned have in fact denied the charges, and I don’t believe that they all are actually guilty, but for those who are, what I don’t get is, why are these women “victims” just now reporting what was done to them–it’s many years ago with some of them? They claim that they were taken undue advantage of and they had no choice in the matter. That seems a bit naïve to me. You always have a choice. I have said before that the only thing we have to do is die. Everything else in life is a choice. You either do one thing or you do something else.

Although I don’t condone any of those guys’ actions, I think the women have to take at least some responsibility for what happened to them. They can’t all be so innocent. Most have made the claim that if they did not succumb to these guys, they would lose their job. I don’t buy that. No one can legally be fired for not having sex with their boss. And come on, most of the men on this list are not exactly disgusting old trolls. What straight woman would object to Scott Baio or James Franco, for instance, coming on to her? I would think that she would welcome the attention. (I certainly would!) Does she think that she is “all that” and/or therefore off-limits?

Women throughout history have been relentless seductresses to men. I, myself, have been a victim of their wiles from time to time. I don’t believe for a moment that all of those accusers are completely innocent of any compliance whatsoever. But then, if they don’t like the guy, just tell them, “No, I am not interested” and move on. They shouldn’t blame him for asking. How will they know if they don’t make the attempt?

I always contend that people will get away with what you let them to get away with. I am pretty sure that these lechers did not succeed in seducing every woman that they tried it with. They succeeded only with the ones that allowed it. Some of these women willingly accepted the advances, went home with the man, let him have his way with her, some even more than just once, and then years later feign remorse and try to convince us that she was an innocent victim. So many of these women must have been complicit. If it was such a traumatic ordeal for them, they would have told somebody at the time. If they had turned these guys in the first time they tried something, someone might have stopped them from doing it to other women. Now it’s, “Oh yeah, he did that to me, too.” And you are just now complaining about it? I wonder if any of these alleged victims have been offered money to tattle on these guys at long last?

Of course, to be fair, I shouldn’t leave our gay brothers out of the equation. After all, they are men, too, and therefore guilty of the same sort of behavior. The vast number of Catholic clergy discovered of committing child molestation doesn’t get as much public attention because they are not famous, even though it is so prevalent. We want to know about the celebrities, like the late James Levine and Kevin Spacey, who were recently outed for sexual improprieties with male youths. (Spacey has since been cleared of all charges.) Although it might be a little different in the gay men’s cases, in that I believe it is often a consensual situation with them, therefore not always reported. It’s only when one of these kids or their parents want to get some money from of these guys that they will choose to go public, when they refuse to make a private settlement, perhaps.

These alleged victims have started a protest movement–“Me Too.” This looks all too much like the McCarthy-Hollywood-Communist witch hunts of the 1950’s when all it took was to mention someone’s name to get them discredited and blacklisted. Now when a woman (or man) wants to get someone in trouble, all they have to do is accuse them of sexual misconduct. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. All it takes is an accusation, because the proper thing to do is always to believe the accuser.

For years women have been doing this to get back at certain men. A good and well-liked high school teacher flunks one of his female students on a test, and out of spite the girl accuses the teacher of sexual molestation. There is no way for him to prove his innocence, so he is fired from his job and even made to register as a sex offender. Even if the girl eventually confesses her deceit, the damage has already been done. After people have made up their mind about you, it doesn’t matter whether you are guilty or not.

What I find to be disturbing about this whole thing, because of its hints of unfairness and hypocrisy, is that none of this is anything new. Straight men have been disrespecting and coming on to women for all time. That’s what they do! Why now all of a sudden is it not being tolerated? Construction workers, for example, have been known to make “mancalls” and use inappropriate language to passing females, but since they are not famous, they never get the business about it. It’s only the celebrities that now are not excused for doing what regular joes do on a daily basis. If we don’t know you, the media doesn’t care what you do, apparently. Women, as a rule, have always welcomed men’s attention to them and even trash talking. They didn’t mind it and rather expected it. Now it seems that almost anything a man says to a woman, she takes offense to it.

I don’t agree with the common notion (perpetuated by men, of course) that women are of the “weaker sex.” Please! That is so condescending. A person’s physical stature does not necessarily determine one’s strength. A woman is perfectly capable of committing every dastardly deed that a man is capable of, including violence and murder. There have been movie titles and themes that suggest: “Deadlier Than the Male”. Just to be a female in this society requires incredible strength, and I commend them for it. They have to deal with men, for one thing, and their chauvinism and disrespect every day, plus they have their own special situations with which to cope as well, including menstruation, pre- and post-.

I think that anyone who can endure the ordeal and utter pain of childbirth again and again must have remarkable stamina. That fact alone makes Woman superior, in my opinion. To start a baby requires little to no real work for the man. In fact, with today’s conception methods, the physical man is not even a requirement. And even when he does actively participate, it takes only a few seconds on his part, while to make the baby and carry it to term for nine months is quite a bit of work, as any mother will tell you. I heard about a woman who was in labor for 36 hours. I wouldn’t like to do something that feels good for 36 hours! I’ll bet you that the majority of men would balk at the possibility of experiencing actual childbirth. Most men are such wusses when it comes to real pain.

I think that women are sexually superior to men as well, due to the fact that they are able to achieve multiple orgasms, which I imagine can be more intense than a man’s. It doesn’t require as much effort, and they don’t always need penile or other phallic stimulation to accomplish it. With most men, it takes more work, and once they come, they’re finished.

Once, while flying back to Newark from the West Coast, I was made aware of a woman sitting directly behind me on the plane who, every minute or so, would sneeze and then do a little giggle. This sneeze and giggle routine went on for some time, until one of the flight attendants came over to her to see if she could be of some assistance. “Excuse me, Miss, but I’ve been watching you and I am curious to know what is so funny about this chronic sneezing of yours?” The young woman explained, “Well, you see, I have this very rare allergy condition that whenever I sneeze, I experience the most incredibly fabulous orgasm!” “Oh, I see. So are you taking anything for your allergy?” “Heh, heh, I sure am,” she replied. “Ragweed!” (You go, gurl!)

Theoretically, a woman can do everything a man can do, plus bear children, thus creating actual life, which a man is not capable of, yet. Therefore, that makes Woman the superior sex, doesn’t it? I have male friends who vehemently reject that supposition. They just can’t accept the concept of female superiority. I have no problem with it myself. I have gotten used to my second-class status in our society as a person-of-color, so playing second-fiddle in the scheme of gendered species is not going to degrade my dignity any further.

In the animal kingdom, too, it’s the female that is the dominant of many species. Insects, especially, have your queen ant and queen bee and black widow spiders and praying mantises, it’s the female mosquitoes who are the bloodsuckers, and lionesses are the hunters for their prides. The simple fact of the matter is, the chauvinistic concept of human superiority of any kind is a self-imposed, theoretical phenomenon anyway, not based on any reality. Actor/dancer Ginger Rogers used to say, “I can do everything that Astaire can do, but I do it backwards, and in heels.” (::Snap!::)

But although I do admire and respect women, I am so glad that I was born male. I don’t envy women one bit, and I have never desired to be one. My identity and psyche are definitely male, whatever that really means. I love the fact that I have a penis and a male’s physique. I can appreciate that one’s sexual identity and behavior can be influenced by Society’s regard and response to the individual sexes. But Woman as the weaker sex? I think not. So I don’t think too much of women who like to work that weaker sex mystique to their advantage when it suits them, or when they employ their feminine wiles to get men to do their every bidding. All a woman has to do is bat her eyelashes and throw her crotch up in his face, and a straight man will do virtually anything she asks of him. He will betray his family, friends and his country, even commit murder for her, just for the expectation of getting that pussy! Of course, that tactic is completely wasted on me, so don’t y’all even try it!

Just as I am for equal rights as it pertains to women, on the other hand, and in all fairness, we could do with some equal rights for men, too, in some instances. Why is it always “ladies first,” for example? A woman can hold a door open for me when she gets there first. She can also give up her seat to me if I want to sit down. Why should I stand up when a woman enters or leaves a room, or when I am introduced to one? She’s not required to stand for me. Perhaps the men are trying to show these ladies some respect? Well, respect them in more important ways that matter to them rather than those meaningless social proprieties. Stop sexually harassing them, for one thing, and if they are employees of yours, pay them what they’re worth. Most modern women don’t care if a man stands for her, tips his hat to her or kisses her hand. Just show her the money!

Women can have both boyfriends and girlfriends. A girl hangs out with her girlfriends, but she dates her boyfriend. A guy can have more than one girl friend, but his having a “boyfriend” takes on a different meaning. A woman can compliment another woman’s looks—”Heather has really got it together; I think that she is so pretty”—and it’s no big deal. But a man commenting that “That man over there is too fine,” must mean that he’s sexually attracted to him. Shouldn’t men be allowed, just as women are, openly to acknowledge masculine beauty as well as feminine beauty without there being an ulterior motive?

When I was growing up, girls could dance with each other at parties and school dances and nobody thought anything of it, but only sissy boys dance together. Girls and women also can hold hands, embrace each other, even kiss in public, and it’s socially acceptable. But two men doing the same thing must be homosexuals, although innocent male affection doesn’t seem to be so taboo on the screen and in real life nowadays, as it was in the past.

I’ve seen this done only on TV and the movies, never in real life. Why do purported straight guys have such a feigned aversion to the human penis? Whenever a character’s dick is exposed in the presence of another, especially if it’s a friend, they always act so disgusted by the sight of it. “Cover yourself! I don’t want to see your junk, man!”–“Get that thing out of my face!” It’s something that they all have themselves, but the sight of one, other than their own, they find to be utterly repulsive. How stupid is that? It must be that if they feast their eyes on a man’s cock or admires it in any way, they will be thought of as gay. Come on! I find that to be such an unrealistic reaction whenever I see that. In reality I think that all men are curious of how they measure up with other men. How would they know unless they make studied comparisons? Most straight women don’t have a problem looking at another women’s breasts. I can’t believe that men are that squeamish either.

As always though, there are exceptions. On TV’s “Rescue Me” the cast of male firefighters, one day while sitting around the firehouse with nothing to do, agreed to have a contest to see who of their crew has the biggest dick. They even award a prize for the winner. It is Daniel Sunjata who wins, by the way. And I can personally vouch for him, because I actually saw his impressive wares when he appeared naked on the Broadway stage in the baseball play, Take Me Out. Even when I was a young teen, my homies once had a Let’s-See-Who-Has-the-Biggest-Member display at my house one day. I remember that it was little, skinny Larry Mays who reigned supreme at the time.

Why are women allowed to wear their hats in church and other edifices when men are not (except in the Orthodox Jewish religion where men are required to wear their hats inside)? On more than one occasion I had been asked to remove my cap in public places where other people, namely women, were allowed to wear their hats in the exact same situations. Always ready for an argument, I would ask, ‘But why? Those people there have their hats on.’ “What do you mean? They’re women,” they would tell me. So? Your point being what, please? That sounds like sexual discrimination to me. For whatever reasons that women are allowed to wear their hats indoors, I should be afforded the same privilege for the same reasons.

Fortunately, things have changed in my favor, as my wearing a cap indoors, even in church, is not the terrible infraction today as it once was. People don’t seem to care anymore. More often than not, my cap is part of my ensemble. When I color-coordinate my clothes, I wear a matching cap to complement the outfit. There are many male celebrities who wear hats all the time, even when they make TV appearances. So if it’s all right for them to do so, why not for me as well?

Also there was a time, not anymore thankfully, when shopping in certain stores, only the male shoppers were required to check their shoulder bags and packages at the door, when females were not required to check their bags and purses. I didn’t object to checking my bag (although it was a bit of a nuisance), but if I have to check mine, then everybody else, including the women, should have to check theirs, too. What, women don’t ever shoplift? So, equal human rights should apply to everyone, regardless of gender, not just when it suits one’s particular purpose.

[Related articles: Age Is Just a Number; Gay Pride and Homophobia; “How Do I Look?”; Let’s Have an Outing; On Being Gay]

A Critique of Catholicism

Now, I don’t mean to pick on any one religion—well, actually I do—but if I had to be anything, a Catholic would be the last thing I would choose. The Catholic faith is so hypocritical, egotistical, elitist yet self-deprecating, sexist, avaricious, mercenary, superstitious, judgmental, intolerant, vindictive, arrogant, bigoted, narrow-minded, bullying, controlling and chauvinistic, as well as misogynistic. In the following paragraphs I intend to illustrate and validate all of these claims.

For the last few hundred years the President of the United States has been the highest position in the land and one to which many white men aspire. But there was a time when the Pope was the guy who many wanted to be. The Pope had more power and influence than most kings, and he was allowed to make monumental decisions for the entire world, whereas a king has only limited, regional jurisdiction. In those early days all of western civilization and Society in general were ruled and controlled by the Catholic Church. The Pope excommunicated Henry VIII because he would not allow the King to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, as if their marriage, or anybody else’s marriage, was any of his business. I will have more to say about that particular Pope a little later.

When a man gives an account of something that involves both sexes but makes him the prime element over all else, I tend to be rather dubious. It appears that my personal theory about female predominance over the male is not mine alone. My convictions have been confirmed after reading The Da Vinci Code. Although a work of fiction, much of its historical background is based on fact, which I have verified from other sources.

It’s true that the ancient pagans were proponents of goddess and nature worship, Mother Earth and all that. It was the early Christians, and especially the Catholic Church, who successfully converted the world from matriarchal divinity to patriarchal preponderance by waging a campaign of propaganda that demonized the “sacred feminine,” obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever. Their three-hundred-year conspiratorial crusade to “reeducate” feminine-worshipping religions was brutal and horrific, to say the least.

The Catholic Inquisition published an evil book called Malleus Maleficarum, or The Witches’ Hammer, which indoctrinated the world to “the dangers of freethinking women” and instructed the clergy how to locate, torture and destroy them. Those deemed witches by the Church included all female scholars, priestesses, gypsies, mystics, nature lovers, herb gatherers and any women “suspiciously attuned to the natural world.” Midwives also were killed for their heretical practice of using medical knowledge to ease the pain of childbirth—a suffering, the Church claimed, that was God’s rightful punishment to women for Eve committing the Original Sin, which is a major indication of their misogynistic attitudes. But Adam committed the exact same sin as well, so where is the men’s painful punishment? In that they are basing this action on a ridiculous myth, makes it even more inexcusable. During these witch hunts, the Church burned at the stake over five million women! Why, they are just the Christian Taliban! How are they any different than that Afghani militant movement or ISIS that are so greatly maligned and feared nowadays?

But as there is always an exception and being the hypocrites that they are, there is one woman that the Catholics think really highly of. And that’s Jesus’ mother, Mary. They just love them some Mary, don‘t they? She gets as much attention (maybe even more) as her Son. There are countless images and statues of her as well as churches and other edifices, colleges and universities, even cities all over the world are named in her honor. Anything called “Our Lady” or “Notre Dame” refers to her. There is much music written about her as well. There are numerous settings of “Ave Maria” and “Stabat Mater,” for example. Remember, they gave her that special Immaculate Conception distinction (See my Nativity Redux blog for the explanation). They even made her a saint. When Catholics go to Confession, they appeal to Mary to absolve them of their sins. In Titanic (1997), as well as other movie versions, when the ship is sinking, they show some passengers praying to Mary! I thought, What are they praying to her for? Do they think that she is going to save them?

I was watching some religious channel on TV one day, where a theologian was discussing Catholic tenets with a priest. This guy made the observation to the priest that the people of his faith worship Mary. The priest denied it by saying that they didn’t exactly worship Mary. It was more of an honor or “veneration” to her, he said. I thought, Uh, isn’t that the same thing? He’s just mincing words. The definition of worship is “to show religious devotion or reverence for; to adore, venerate (hello?!) or idolize; devotion, love or admiration of any kind.” So, why can’t they just go on and admit it? They worship Mary! Incidentally, if Heaven is supposed to be off-limits to all persons of the Jewish faith, according to the Catholics and other Christian sects, how did Mary, a practicing Jewess, get to be the “Queen of Heaven” (aka Regina Coeli)?

The Catholic Church was and still is to some extent the component of power and world control, and at some point in its notorious past also even went so far as to put to death anyone who would not convert to Catholicism. Their imposed Spanish Inquisition, which lasted from 1478-1834, campaigned to convert not only Jews, Muslims and other non-Christian sects, but even baptized Christians were considered heretics, and many thousands more were burned at the stake for refusing to convert. Isn’t that the same thing that some of our political leaders accuse certain Muslim fanatics of doing? I suppose that they hadn’t forgotten how only a few centuries before, the Catholics themselves were held in abject lowest esteem to the point of genocide, by being fed to the lions as public entertainment. So now that they have acquired some degree of power, I guess they decided to take mortal revenge on others, as if that is the Christian thing to do. That’s their vindictiveness.

Even when they weren’t killing everybody, there were your proselytizing missionaries who went all over the world attempting to make everybody Catholic. They pretty much succeeded in much of Europe by making Catholicism the primary religion in several countries, like Andorra, France, Ireland, Italy, Monaco, Portugal and Spain, but which subsequently spread to Central and South America, the Philippines and other island nations throughout the world as well.

The Church has a worldwide organization that they call Opus Dei, which means “God’s Work” in Latin. That is so arrogant. They can, and do, make that anything they want it to be, and say that they are merely operating on God’s behalf. God doesn’t need them to do Its work. It can manage quite well without their help. Do your own work, why don‘t you?! Their goal is to inspire everyone towards sanctification, that is, to live your life according to Catholic mores and beliefs.

Besides that, they even meddled in the Hollywood film industry during the ‘30s and ‘40s when they created a watchdog committee that monitored every movie that was produced, to decide if it was suitable for public viewing or not. Yes, they just have to be in everybody’s business! As most movies already tend to be unrealistic as it is, this group considered practically every aspect of normal life to be taboo. There could be no premarital sex on screen, certainly no extramarital sex, no depicted or even suggested sex at all, if they got their way. Of course, they preferred that all visual images and dialogue be positive and non-offensive. Sure, just take all of the fun and interest and controversy out of all movies, why don’t you? That sounds just like the world of “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s 1984 or even South Africa’s Apartheid era. Fortunately, the studios ignored these strict pooh-pooh naysayers when they could and managed to get by the censors and produce their films like they wanted to.

I was surprised to learn that there are native black people in Ireland. Well, they are of mixed race, actually, as a result of African and Irish interbreeding. But the thing is, after these often unwanted children are born, they are given up, abandoned and subsequently taken in by the local orphanage, which was established and is maintained by the Irish Catholics. The place is run more like a Dickensian workhouse, however, where the children in their care are mistreated and abused by the nuns and priests in charge. So much for your “Christian charity.” There is never any chance of adoption for any of these interracial kids, so they are doomed to remain there and suffer the abject indignities until they age out of the system and are allowed to leave, but even then are still subject to prejudicial disrespect and social apathy by the gentry.

So, do you think that the Church condemns homosexuality? Well, maybe they do now, or claim that they do, but that hasn’t always been the case. Actually, as I will illustrate in a moment, they don’t really condemn it even now, they just want us to think that they do. The fact that they will outwardly protest it while they are actually guilty of it themselves shows you what hypocrites they are. They and other Christians haven’t always been against same-sex marriage either. As early as the 12th and 13th centuries, churches not only sanctioned unions between partners of the same sex, but some of their wedding ceremonies were actually performed in the Vatican, by the Pope himself! It was probably only when the Nazis came into power that this practice was looked down upon and outlawed thereafter.

And how do they explain and justify their several Popes (only nine are cited here, but there probably were many more) who were notoriously queer and/or corrupt besides? How is this for your papal infallibility? Pope John XII [937-964], aka “John the Bad,” ran a brothel out of St. Peter’s, ordained a 10-year-old boy as bishop, used the papal treasury to pay off his gambling debts, and was finally murdered by a jealous male lover.

Party animal Pope Benedict IX [1020-1055] held lavish homosexual orgies in the papal palace. He also was a murderer who dabbled in bestiality, witchcraft and Satanism. His riotous conduct was considered appalling, however, and he was eventually deposed. This also points out the fact that the current sexual indiscretion among your Catholic priests is not a new occurrence either. It’s been going on for centuries.

Pope Sixtus IV [1414-1484] took his beautiful young nephew as his lover and made him a millionaire by plundering the papal treasury. He is best remembered for appointing Torquemada as inquisitor-general for the Spanish Inquisition. Hey, now that was a real Christian gesture, wasn’t it?

Pope Paul II [1417-1471], known to his cardinals as “Our Lady of Pity” for his tendency to cry at the slightest provocation, had a fondness for glitter and finery; he even wore an expensive papal tiara. He allegedly died of a heart attack while being sodomized by one of his favorite altar boys. So I guess he was literally fucked to death!

Pope Alexander VI [1431-1503], the father of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, had a lifetime history of murder and corruption. He even killed members of his own family. He died as the result of ingesting the poisoned food that he had intended for someone else. In the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “Hoist with his own petard.”

Pope Leo X [1475-1521] acquired the reputation of being wildly extravagant. This dude would play cards with his cardinals, allow the public to sit in as spectators, and would toss huge handfuls of gold coins to the crowd whenever he won a hand. His expenses for both cultural and military endeavors, along with his taste for increasingly ornate papal gowns, drove the papal treasury into bankruptcy.

Pope Julius III [1487-1555] was lovers with his two sons (Aha! Pedophilia and incest, too? Quel scandal!) and made both of them, as well as numerous other handsome teenage boys, cardinals. He allegedly enjoyed bringing them all together for orgies where he would watch them fuck each other. Giovanni Della Casa’s poem In Praise of Sodomy was dedicated to him.

Pope Paul III [1534-49] is best known for excommunicating Henry VIII. Paul also poisoned several of his relatives, including his own mother, to gain control of a family inheritance and enjoyed an incestuous relationship with his daughter. He killed a couple of cardinals and a Polish bishop over a theological point and was the greatest pimp in Rome’s history. He kept a stable of 45,000 prostitutes, who paid him a monthly stipend.

Now, you know that I’m not one to gossip, but… I have it on pretty good authority from a guy who lives in Rome near the Vatican. I recently learned that one of the reasons why Pope Benedict XVI [2005-2013] was asked to step down, is because he became a disgrace to his office. He was spotted on many occasions frequenting the gay bars in town and picking up young men. It appears that today’s Pontifical College is not as lenient or forgiving as they were in the past, at least on the surface. They used to tolerate and excuse all sorts of criminal and immoral behavior and indiscretions, including murder, but now mere bar cruising is grounds for termination? Tsk, tsk! The rule is not to display your controversial activities out in the open but to operate on the down-low, like any good Catholic.

The current Pope Francis recently gave gay Catholics permission to be gay. Wasn’t that white of him? Man, they don’t need your permission! That’s like when Anita Bryant first told us by TV commercial that orange juice is not just for breakfast anymore. Really? You mean that we can drink it any time that we want to? I would think that the Pope should embrace gay acceptance, since he took his name, after all, from St. Francis, a sissy.

Other popes have advocated, even participated in, major wars and the killing of their so-called enemies. I thought that Christians were supposed to love their enemies. For one, the papacy ordered the complete annihilation of the Knights Templar because they had become more powerful than the Church, when they once had been revered by it. I told you what they did to all the women who threatened their indoctrination and authority. How dare these modern Catholics sit back in moral judgment of anybody!

Just as the local police departments anywhere tend to protect their own, unlike them, the Catholic Church does not employ an Internal Affairs unit to investigate, reprimand and punish those in the diocese who do something criminal or merely unethical. The Catholics, as a rule, like to settle any wrongdoing in-house, without any outside interference. That way they have managed to get away with all sorts of underhanded shit over the centuries. I just told you what some of their popes were guilty of. But sexual hanky-panky goes on everywhere, not just at the Vatican.

Their biggest and most inexcusable indiscretion, however, is the acceptance and cover-up of their rampant molestation of children, mostly boys but girls as well. These priests use their influence and position to seduce innocent, lonely youngsters, and their actions go unreported because of fear, shame, guilt and intimidation on the part of the victims. When these predators are eventually discovered, they are never prosecuted or convicted, but merely transferred to another parish, where they are allowed to continue their deviancy.

This issue is given a great, comprehensive treatment in the critically-acclaimed, Oscar-winning film Spotlight (2015), when a Boston newspaper team sets out to expose the true events of the local scandal and cover-up by the Catholic Church. What was found out during their investigation is staggering. The news guys were so shocked. I, however, was not surprised at all, since I already knew what was going on. Practically everyone involved, too, knew what was going down, including various lawyers, the press, even the kids’ parents, but nobody did anything about it. One mother wrote a letter to her parish priest, telling him that she knows all about her seven sons being molested. But she will keep quiet about it, so as not to cause any trouble for the priest. What?! Is it any wonder that this activity has occurred for as long as it has? The conspiracy of silence is a regular and constant perpetuator.

The Church does not want any of its members to think for themselves either. There was a time when practitioners of the faith were forbidden to read the Scriptures. Their local clergy would tell the folks what they needed to know, you see. To confuse and keep the people in the proverbial dark even further, they conducted their masses in Latin. I can’t imagine attending regular church services for years and not knowing what the hell anybody is saying! What is the point of that? Even today every decision that they make in life has to be approved and cleared by the Almighty Pope (infallible, indeed!) and his Chain-of-Command of assorted cardinals, monsignors, archbishops, bishops, priests and nuns. They lay down a whole set of life rules for you to follow, and if you don’t, you have sinned and “you will burn in Hell.”

But that doesn’t stop them from doing anything themselves that they want to do, however. You know, it’s do as we say, not as we do. They like to hang heavy guilt trips on everybody, too, especially the children, to keep them in line. I have heard many horror stories from my Catholic-raised friends about growing up in parochial schools with those frustrated, sadistic, deranged nuns they had for teachers. They often resorted to severe corporal punishment on their charges, which now is considered child abuse, but which the Church and the public allowed to go on for many years. Maybe they still do in some places. It seems as if anything goes with them, as long as they keep quiet about it.

But wait, there is always a convenient escape clause! As long as you confess your sins (not to God Itself, mind you, but to a mediating priest), you may be absolved of any wrongdoing. So the Catholics learn that they can do anything that they damn well please, because they can go to Confession, admit their misdeeds, say a couple of “Hail-Marys,” the priest will absolve them, and all is forgiven.

There is a movie (one of several with a similar plot) about a Catholic priest trying to track down a local serial killer. At the end, when the killer, during a fight, falls to his death, the priest bends over him to give him his Last Rites and to absolve him of his sins. I thought, What are you doing?! The man was a despicable, remorseless mass murderer! Why are you blessing him?! Why don’t you damn his soul to Hell instead? If anything they do is forgiven, including murder, why even be righteous and law-abiding in life?

Ignoring the Ten Commandments is a common Catholic infraction. With the various Italian crime syndicates, therefore Catholic, the taking of human lives is a regular occurrence, for example. So is stealing and covetousness (extortion and procuring for themselves what others have), among other vices.

In Cop Out (2010) a Latino character, therefore purportedly Catholic, but is a gang leader and drug runner, is in the church praying when one of his gang members shows up and tells this head guy that he botched an important drug deal. The guy prays, “Father, forgive me, for I am about to sin.” Then he turns and shoots the other guy dead right there in the sanctuary! What is the point of confessing? There is such gross hypocrisy involved.

And why do you need to tell some man, who is not a licensed therapist, mind you, all your business and personal secrets and such? You can deal with the Lord directly; you don’t need a middle man to intervene for you. I think that they set up this whole Confession thing just so they can keep tabs on what everybody in their parish and see is doing. And what is preventing any priest from using or revealing the information that they receive from their confessors for their own ends? Of course, they are not supposed to reveal anything they learn in the confessional, but just like with doctors and lawyers, you will pardon me for not being that trusting. They may not willingly divulge somebody’s secret, but everyone has their price for betrayal. Would a young parish priest, for example, be willing to give up his life to protect the secret that some errant stranger told him in the confessional? Who is that noble?

We already know how they manage to get around everything. He doesn’t have to say outright what he knows. He could leave some incriminating clues lying around for the police to find for themselves. Then the priest is off the hook. “I didn’t tell them anything. They figured it out for themselves.” And now that the Church’s scandal about pedophilic priests has finally come to light, I expect that their general trust quotient has been lowered even further. I might mention that this confidentiality proviso applies only to the actual church confessional, by the way. If you are anywhere else, however, anything that you tell a priest is not protected and could be divulged without his breaking any self-imposed restrictions. See how they manage to circumvent any limitation that they impose upon themselves?

Of course, there are priests who actually do honor the sanctity of the confessional by keeping everything that they learn from their parishioners secret. They cover up the most heinous of misdeeds, like murder, incest and child molestation. With the aforementioned serial killer, for instance, the local priest knows who it is but won’t help the police, out of his sense of moral duty to secrecy. He also knows about the young girl who confessed to him that she is having regular sex with her own father against her will but keeps quiet about it. When the girl’s mother eventually finds out what’s going on, she goes to the priest and blesses him out. “You knew, didn’t you, Father? You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” Excuse me, but how is any of this the priest’s fault? She is your daughter. Why don’t you know what is going on under your own roof? Don’t be blaming him. He did advise the girl to tell you. You expect him to keep your secrets, but he is supposed to divulge everybody’s else’s then? You can’t have it both ways. It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Catholics even take liberties with the institution of marriage. They tell joined couples that marriage is forever, but they allow their followers to divorce if they desire. Then if they want to get married again to someone else, the Church allows them to get an annulment first, so that they can have a church wedding. This is being done with people who have grown children and even grandchildren! An annulment signifies that the previous marriage never took place, and the kids don’t even exist. What did I tell you about their always finding a way out of anything?

Catholics always manage to justify everything that they do, too, no matter how unsavory. Take, for instance, the centuries-long practice of castration for the alleged purpose of serving God in song. A Catholic dictum declared, “Let women keep silent in the churches.“ None of them had anything important to say, apparently. “Just sit there and keep your mouths shut!” So since no women were allowed to sing in the church choir (or the stage) during the 16th century, their high pitch of voice had to be provided otherwise. Young boys could do so, but they eventually grew up and their voices changed. (So why not just replace them with other young boys?!) But somebody got the bright idea that by cutting off their balls, they could preserve these boys’ precious soprano voices for “the glory of God,” you see.

There soon opened up a number of “eunuch factories” in France, which supplied these castrati to the Roman church choirs and stages of Italy and Spain. I suppose that the wealth and fame that these young men achieved outweighed their genital sacrifice, because nobody seemed to mind or thought that anything was wrong with this barbaric practice. So this went on for about 300 years (!), until Pope Clement XIV woke up one day in 1770 and thought, “Hey, you know what? Instead of mutilating all these boys, why don’t we just let women sing in their place? What‘s the harm?” (Well, duh! Gah, I coulda had a V-8!) But the practice still was not outlawed completely until another hundred years later.

By the way, I refuse to address any priest as “Father.” I am not being disrespectful. It’s just that I am not Catholic, so their conventions don’t apply or mean anything to me, and I consider the epithet to be inappropriate besides. He is not my father, or anybody else’s (presumably), so why should I call him thus? It makes no sense for a 75-year-old person to call a 30-year-old man “Father.” I have known some who are young enough that they should be calling me Father! I don’t at all object to terms like “Pastor,” “Reverend” or “Rabbi,” which means “teacher,” but I think that it’s rather elitist and arrogant to adopt hierarchical titles like “Father,” “Monsignor” (which means “my Lord”), “Excellency” and “Mother Superior” for themselves, being mere mortals like everybody else, and, ironically, alleged childless celibates besides. It could prove to be confusing and ambiguous at times, too. When someone prays to “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” are they referring to God, to Jesus, to their parish priest or to their pious, biological parent who just died?

A more appropriate and less chauvinistic term for priests would be “brother,” just as their counterpart nuns are called “sisters.” To me it comes off more humbling as one’s peer rather than their superior, and I would not have a problem with that. “How are you today, Brother Patrick?” The Episcopalian priests that I know, on the other hand, don’t mind at all being called by their first names. The mere fact that Catholics still won’t allow women to have any real major authority in the Church is one indication of their sexist chauvinism. From what we have read, Jesus welcomed women into his fold, and some accounts even have Mary Magdalene as the one that he appointed to succeed him and carry on his ministry.

The highest rank that a woman can ever attain in the Church is the Mother Superior of a sexually-segregated convent. But she is still merely a nun. They are not allowed to be priests, bishops, cardinals or popes, for example. At some point, however, this position must have gotten a promotion (or demotion? in name only), because in The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) the head nun, played by Ingrid Bergman, is referred to as “Sister” Superior. Why do the men object so strongly? What’s their problem? For years now the Episcopal Church has welcomed women in authoritative positions.

I have often wondered what would possess a young, fertile woman to want to become a nun anyway. What a life’s sacrifice that is! In The Nun’s Story (1959), starring Audrey Hepburn, we are given a glimpse of what it is like to become a nun. The novitiates have to give up all worldly desires. Anything that derives any kind of pleasure is a mortal sin. In essence, life is not to be enjoyed at all. They must give up the notion of self-worth and pride and learn abject humility. They are taught to consider themselves to be worthless creatures, not deserving of any respect. They are made to denounce their families and friends and give up all personal possessions. It’s like a captive cult.

They also participate in a ceremony where they get married to Jesus Christ, a long-dead Jew! It’s a multiple wedding, too, and the novices are all wearing white bridal gowns! But doesn’t that make Jesus a polygamist, which is supposed to be against their own moral law? What is so silly about it, is that it is merely a symbolic marriage anyway. Their being Jesus’ wives compels them to be sexually faithful, even though they know that they are not really married and that their “husband” is already dead. But I guess it helps them to justify their carnal sacrifice. See how absurdly ridiculous that all is?

There is another scene in the film which shows Audrey’s hair being cut off before fitting her in a habit. But isn’t that one of the inexcusable “abominations” cited in Leviticus that I mentioned before? (See my For the Bible Tells Me So blog.) So it’s all right for them to cut their hair, which is a definite no-no, but I am not allowed to “lie” with my boyfriend! I think that a woman who will willingly subject herself to such a life, does not hold herself in much high regard. She is controlled by men and is not allowed to think for herself or enjoy any of life’s vices, but must do whatever she’s told to do and must not mind the disrespect afforded her. No wonder so many of them are frustrated and angry. If she wants to be a teacher or nurse or just wants to help people, why not do just that? She doesn’t have to be a nun to pursue a career in public service.

The men, too, put themselves into a sacrificial situation when they enter the priesthood. They cloister themselves away in abbeys and monasteries, cutting themselves off from the outside world. What purpose are they serving humankind? How are they helping anybody in their seclusion? Some orders of monks don’t speak, some don’t eat for long periods of time, don’t laugh and deprive themselves of all earthly pleasures. Some even indulge in self-flagellation for penance. Penance for what, I ask? They never do anything to be sorry for! It’s as if they feel the need to be punished merely for existing. And as with the nuns, they all choose this life voluntarily, since nobody has to do any of that. They make up these ridiculous and restrictive rules for themselves and others and then willingly abide by them without question or protest.

Oh, by the way. This same Roman “dirt” source of mine tells of an order of nuns, whose convent is located just across from the Vatican and consists entirely of sapphists! They enter the order as couples and live together, two to a room. It must not be a secret, since more than a few people know about it, including the person who told me, and now you know, too.

I find most of the Catholics’ Eucharistic rites—like genuflecting and bowing to the altar every time they pass it, prostrating and crossing themselves to make the Sign of the Cross, and especially washing people’s feet during Holy Week—to be pointless and stupid. But that’s me. Who are they doing all of that for? What do they think will happen if they don’t? Here is where the superstitious aspect of the religion comes into play. Do they actually think that God chides and scolds them if they forget or neglect to cross themselves when they pass the altar? “Aha! You did not genuflect, my child! I shall now sentence you to eternal damnation!”

They also apparently believe that the rite of christening is a sure guarantee for personal salvation. Some are firmly convinced that by sprinkling or pouring water on a baby’s forehead will guarantee their place in Heaven. And not to do it, then that person is doomed for Hell. Of course, the Baptists are just as bad with their full immersion ritual. Why do people believe such inanities? And what about that so-called “holy water”? They take plain ol’ tap water, and a priest says a prayer and blessing over it, and it then becomes holy. The water itself doesn’t know that it is special, but it will severely scald a vampire when it’s thrown on them. How silly is that?

Many, if not all, of the Christian religions practice a little ritual known as Communion, which commemorates the so-called Last Supper of Christ. In my home church and in other Protestant services that I have attended, Communion is taken only once a month, usually the first Sunday of each. Once a month, every four or five weeks, that seems reasonable to me. But not every day! The Catholics and most Episcopalians hold Communion at every service, every time they get together, even at weddings and funerals. I mean, come on! Isn’t that overdoing it a bit?

Whatever the ritual is supposed to accomplish, it must not have any lasting effect. It’s apparently only good until the next time they get together. I consider the ritual itself to serve no real purpose and is a complete waste of time. I mean, really, what’s the point? “Do this in remembrance of me”? Did Jesus really say that? The whole thing is based on some accepted myth. But even if he did say it, he was talking to his disciples there with him. What does it have to do with any of us these many centuries later? If it is meant to be some kind of solidarity thing with them and us, then why don’t they all allow themselves to be crucified in remembrance of him?! Go all the way, why don’t you, or don’t do it at all.

Somebody told me that he knew of a Catholic man who brought his dog to church with him one Sunday and then took him up to receive Communion! They do try to be accommodating, don’t they? Did that guy actually think that his dog knew what he was doing, or even cared?

Mercenary, too, I did say? A man approached a Catholic priest requesting that he do a Mass for his dog who had just died. The priest flatly refused. “I can’t do that, sir. That is simply unheard of.” The man then said, “But I am willing to give the church $5000 for the service.” The priest replied, “Oh, well, my son. You didn’t tell me that your dog was Catholic!” So that changes things, then? Not that it should have made any difference. For that amount of money, that priest wouldn’t have cared if the dog had been Atheist!

Now consider for a moment this aspect of cannibalism and vampirism that is at the heart of Communion, which is what caused much of the criticism and disapproval from the early non-Christians. Of course, the act is merely symbolic, but transubstantiation is the Catholics’ belief that the wafer and wine actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. “Eat of my body, drink my blood”? Yeah, it’s easy for them to say that and go through the ritual because they know that it’s really bread (or wafer or matzo crackers) and wine (or grape juice) that they are consuming.

Did you know that the term “hocus-pocus,” commonly used by magicians and conjurers, is said to be based on the Latin phrase, “Hoc est corpus meum–This is my body”, which is uttered during Communion in masses conducted in Latin? So they even have associated magic and witchcraft with the ritual. “Good people, I will now turn this bread and water into the body and blood of Jesus Christ! Hocus-pocus! Abracadabra!” “Wow, that’s amazing! How did he do that?”

I wonder what their attitude would be if actual blood and human flesh were used for the Eucharist? Would they all be so eager to partake then? Somehow I doubt it. The main characters in Armistead Maupin’s More Tales of the City certainly were horrified when they discovered a group of worshippers engaging in that very thing. One guy shocked himself into self-imposed amnesia because of the traumatic experience.

I don’t care much for their modus operandi either—everybody sipping from the same vessel, exposing themselves to each other’s germs and diseases. At my home church, for one, they used grape juice, in individual little bitty shot glasses, and crumbled matzo crackers. Then only after everyone had been served, would we partake all together, like a toast. “Here’s to King Jesus! Long may he reign!” (::gulp!::) To me, this seems to be a more “communal” way to do it than the other way.

And then they have the nerve to be restrictive about it. If you are not Catholic, you cannot receive Communion in their church, as they consider only their taking of Communion to be valid. The ministers of all those other sects, including the Episcopal church, are not properly sanctioned by “The Big Guy” (the Pope) to administer Communion, so none of them count. I’ve heard it said, “Giving Communion to non-Catholics would imply that there is some union between religions, which does not exist.” But Jesus was a Jew. These people have changed the man’s religion and have claimed him solely as their own! Can they stop?!

(# When I survey the wondrous Cross… #)
Did you ever think about the fact that “Christians” have adopted an instrument of torture (the cross) as a worshiping icon? There are a number of love songs written about it. At some churches during Holy Week services, they include a “Veneration of the Cross” ritual, where they bow to, touch adoringly, and even kiss an old dirty plank of wood! Who knows where that thing’s been? I would no more do that than I would touch my lips to the Blarney Stone!

I suppose that if Jesus had been executed in 18th-century France, devotees would be wearing little guillotines around their necks! And I wonder then if the common trinket that corresponds to the Crucifix would depict Christ without his head? But then I guess they would have to leave his head (face up) in the bucket so that we would know that it’s supposed to be him. How morbidly absurd, you may be thinking, as if any of that other stuff makes any practical sense!

Most religions are maintained on tradition and rituals and such, and Catholicism is no exception. And whereas everything is for a reason, certain Catholic conventions, too, had to have gotten their start somewhere. Why are the Catholic clergy not allowed to be married and, moreover, required to take vows of celibacy? It was a matter of economics, but don’t most decisions in life ultimately have to do with money in some way? This “vow of poverty” stipulation was set up so that any and all monies collected from the people would go directly to the Church, that is, the Vatican. If any of these priests were married, they would probably have children, grandchildren and their in-laws’ families to support. They would also own land and property. So when a priest dies, who gets his estate, his family or the Church? Naturally, the Church would want it. “Instead of paying all those clerical salaries, let’s give everything that we get to the Pope himself.” Think of all the money they save. So then, since they are not married, it follows that they are not allowed to have sex either. You do know that one cannot have sex unless one is married, right? At least, if they are having sex, His Eminence certainly doesn’t want to know about it.

(# Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great; If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate #)
So in order to keep the Papal coffers brimming, as it were, they opted to put the monetary responsibility and obligation on the common gentry instead. They needed to sanction a way to breed as many Catholics as they can by outlawing every type of birth control and convincing their followers that marriage and procreation are next to Godliness, and that every sexual union must produce issue, or else, why bother? There is no such thing as recreational sex, heaven forbid!

This is another case where the Pope needs to get with the times. The Church has enough money now. Let your priests and nuns and everybody else get married, those who want to. What’s the harm? Religious reformer Martin Luther [1483-1546] was a rebel. He was a Catholic priest and his wife was a former nun. He probably said, “To hell with this celibacy bullshit! I like sex. If I have to quit the church and start my own religion, I’ll do just that.”

Even if the Catholic clergy choose not to marry, they should be allowed to have sex with whomever they want (they’re doing that anyway, behind each other’s back, of course), and be permitted to raise families, too. This was not always the case, as I have told you that many of your past Popes were fathers and some probably even married. It’s hypocritical for the modern-day Popes and their minions to insist that their followers keep having more and more children when they are not having any themselves. I don’t see them helping that poor family with ten children, when the husband dies suddenly and the mother, who is unskilled in any kind of lucrative endeavors, is forced to go on welfare. What is Father O’Malley’s position now, the one who encouraged them to have all those damned kids in the first place?

The Church imposes upon their parishioners several Days of Obligation throughout the year, like Christmas and Easter but some other days as well, when they are required to attend Mass. If they fail to show up on one of these compulsory days, they have to go to Confession and beg for forgiveness. They tend to be flexible and very accommodating, too, as I said. Many Catholic churches hold an extra service on Saturday early evening to accommodate those parishioners who just can’t make it to Mass on Sunday, due to a hangover, perhaps, from Saturday night carousing, just wanting to sleep in, or whatever.

Also, I know of a Catholic church in the Bronx that holds their St. Patrick’s Day Mass the night before, because the priest thinks that very few of his Irish members and revelers will show up for the holiday service. Why should they care if somebody does not come to Mass or not? What’s in it for them? My guess is that they don’t want to miss out on that offering that they don’t receive when people don’t go to church. I suspect, and try to prove me wrong, that they’ve always been more concerned with taking people’s money than about their so-called salvation. That again exemplifies the mercenary aspect of the religion. Of course, all religions take up a collection in their services–after all, the church does have weekly expenses with which to honor–but the others don’t demand that everybody attend church. It’s completely voluntary. They have to get what they can whenever.

What about the burning of incense during the Mass? How did that come about? I believe it was a matter of diplomacy. In the olden days, before there was deodorant and attention to personal hygiene (bathing was a rarely-done activity), can you imagine the rampant B.O. that must have permeated through the church during services? But even as stinky and dirty as they were, the clergy still wanted people to attend Mass regularly. So in order not to offend anybody, you see, somebody got the idea to start burning a fragrant incense as part of the Eucharist ritual, to help blot out the bodily odors that they had to endure previously. That makes a lot of sense to me. Otherwise, what does incense have to do with anything sacred?

Of course, to justify it, they came up with something about the smoke rising up as a symbolic sacrifice to God or some such nonsense. Then to elaborate further on the use of incense, at some point a queen must have been put on the case. “So if we’re going to use this stuff, let’s really work it!” If anything, the Catholics are resourceful and adaptable, as closet gays tend to be. (Oops! Did I say that?) There is an Episcopal church in midtown Manhattan, called St. Mary the Virgin, that uses so much incense on a regular basis that the church has acquired the epithet of “Smoky Mary.”

(# Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on… #)
The Catholic religion also practices other anti-“Christian” attitudes. By our Biblical accounts Jesus Christ was a humble, itinerant peasant. The Catholic Church operates on wealth, power and control. The clergy wear elaborate vestments and put on a spectacle of a show in the form of their Mass services, while Jesus went about wearing the basic dress of the common folk of his day and preached on the street, on country hillsides, wherever people would gather publicly. He was more like an errant evangelist. He preached about loving your fellow man and that those who made peace with their enemies are the blessed ones. He was a confirmed pacifist. His disciples were not “soldiers” on his behalf.

The Catholics and other so-called Christian groups have been involved with war and persecution and genocide for all time. The Knights Templar and the Crusaders, for example, were real soldiers who went to war in the name of Christianity. Francis Duffy [1871-1932], whose statue stands in Times Square in Manhattan, was an Irish-Canadian Catholic priest who served as a soldier and chaplain in the Fighting 69th Regiment during the Spanish-American War and World War I and was highly decorated for his service. The fact that he willingly participated in those wars must mean that he condoned the fighting and killing that occurred. A chaplain can work anywhere. He doesn’t have to be on the front lines of a battlefield, unless he chooses to be.

They say that they are against abortion and murder but they don’t seem to mind killing those whom they deem heretics, who don’t follow the same religion that they do. They support all sorts of human punishments, capital and otherwise. Avowed “Christian” former President Bush’s purported preoccupation with global terrorism activity and making it his personal mission to combat it was not what Jesus was all about.

The name Peter, or the Greek “Petrus,“ means “rock.” So when Jesus purportedly told his disciple Peter, “Upon this rock I shall build my Church,” most likely it was his intention for Peter to carry on his ministry in his, that is, Christ’s name. The Catholics arrogantly and with disregard of the Greek pun, proceeded to build a cathedral over the spot of Peter’s purported grave, developed it into an entire complex, The Vatican, and made it the seat of the entire Roman Catholic Church. But as Jesus and his minions were all Jewish, why wasn’t a massive synagogue/Temple built on that same spot instead? They didn’t honor Jesus’ wishes but their own. He meant his church, not yours!

So whether you are Catholic or not, I don’t think that anyone can refute any of the claims that I have made about the religion. As unbelievable as some of it appear to be, I have not made any of it up. Everything I have said has been thoroughly researched and can be verified. Catholic practitioners may not like what I have said about you, but the truth needs no justification. I just calls ‘em as I sees ‘em! Try to prove me wrong. If more practitioners knew the history of the Church as I have just laid it out for you, maybe they wouldn’t be so accepting and devout.

[Related articles: For the Bible Tells Me So; Gender Issues and Sexism; Heaven and Hell; I Believe…; Jesus H. Christ!; Nativity Redux; Oh, God, You Devil!; Sin and Forgiveness; The Ten Commandments]

“How Do I Look?”

Humans tend to be discriminatory in terms of gender, age, race and appearance, which includes physical stature. We belong to a very superficial, looksist society, I’m sorry to say. This is another way in which we differ from the animal kingdom. As far as I know, animals don’t have any appearance prejudice towards their fellow creatures or humans, and we don’t judge them like we do each other. But even if they do, they can’t do anything about it. Since animals can’t help the way they look, we accept them just as they are, but we are not so lenient with our own human counterparts. If we don’t like the way we look, we have ways and means to change it.

Everybody seems to be regarded and treated according to their outward appearance. And of course, objectively speaking, beauty always predominates over unattractiveness.  Good-looking people get special breaks and privileges in life just because they are good-looking, as if one’s looks determine their character and abilities.  “Mr. Smith, your wife is very beautiful.” “Yeah, it’s too bad that she is an empty-headed, no-talent, domineering, ball-breaking harpy, though.”  Woman (and men too, in some cases) who never have been told that they are beautiful might go through life with very low self-esteem and a sense of worthlessness.  It seems that perceived beauty is the hallmark of human acceptance.  If one is regarded as beautiful, it excuses all their shortcomings and foibles.

People’s looks and outward appearances influence our judgment, our trust and treatment of them. But what is so unfair about that is, who decides what is pleasing to the eye or not? Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Nobody should have the right, or power, to establish the standards of human attractiveness, because their opinion will always be biased and prejudicial. Everybody wants to be white, everybody wants to be thin, everybody wants to be tall, everybody wants to be youthful-looking. Well, everybody doesn’t want to be those things, even if they are or could be.

Plus, some assume that everybody prefers only those particular traits in people. The human race is made up of every conceivable physical type, and there is someone somewhere who is attracted to every physical type.  Short, fat, old, deformed and/or ugly people have relationships just like tall, slender, young, physically-fit and/or good-looking people do. They even marry and have children. Please realize that any adjectives I use to describe people and things are completely objective and are not meant to be judgmental.  I don’t know what is universally beautiful or ugly and you don’t either.  I only know what is preferable or pleasing to me.

Supposed beauty is aided by the unnatural body application known as makeup. But why is it okay, even expected, for women to wear cosmetics but not for men?  Gay punk rocker Boy George gave Joan Rivers something to think about when he was on her TV show years ago.  She asked him (I’m sure she was just trying to throw shade), “So George, why do you wear makeup?”  Without missing a beat, he looked right at her and replied, “Why do you wear it?”  I thought, Good for him!  Although George’s rebuttal was meant to be more rhetorical, it’s still a very good question.  Why do women traditionally wear makeup? And of course, like everything else involving the sexes, there is a double standard at work.

Did you ever think about the fact that human facial beauty is judged differently for men and women? A man is considered handsome and attractive on his own merit.  He doesn’t wear makeup, as a rule.  He doesn’t even have to shave if he doesn’t want to.  But from early adolescence, young women start applying cosmetics to their face, and most are never seen in public without it for the rest of their lives. Why is that? I suppose it’s because they want to look the best they can at all times, and cosmetics certainly makes them look better, even if it is artificial. Whenever I hear someone comment, “That sure is a beautiful woman,” I often think, Yeah, but what does she look like without all that gunk on her face?  And if she were really all that beautiful, as you say, she shouldn’t need it.  Most men look better with makeup on, too, but we seem to get by without it (discounting performers and drag queens).  What, don’t we men care about looking our best, too?

Humans are so vain. We are so concerned with our looks because everybody else is concerned with our looks.  It is no accident that a woman’s dressing table is called a vanity.  So masculine beauty is judged in its natural state while feminine beauty is determined by how good a makeup job or hairdo or facelift or rhinoplasty the woman does on herself. Does that mean then that men are naturally more beautiful than women are? I wonder how many of these “beauty” pageant contestants would qualify if they all competed with no makeup whatsoever? In actuality, that’s false advertising. When a woman does choose to go without makeup, she’s deemed to be “plain” or “homely.”  And when a man wears it as a regular occurrence, like the aforementioned Boy George, he is also subject to criticism and effeminate implications.  So then, why aren’t men who don’t wear makeup considered plain?  See the double standard?

In our society there is a weight bias that influences people’s behavior and their self-image.  Thin is beautiful, fat is ugly.  “You can never be too rich or too thin.”  It’s ridiculous platitudes like those that cause some people, young women, especially, to become victims of self-imposed eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia, because of their neurotic fear of gaining weight.  These poor, misguided people sacrifice their health and would even rather die than have the world perceive them as overweight.  It has been conjectured that if Karen Carpenter had eaten the sandwich that Cass Elliott choked on, they’d both probably be alive today!

Nasal-voiced actor Fran Drescher did a commercial for Three Musketeers candy bars, in which she makes this rather un-PC comment: “Everybody asks me how I stay so thin.  When you sound like this, you better look good!”  So Fran is equating looking good with being thin, as if saying that if one is not as thin as she is, they couldn’t possibly look good.  There is also an imposed correlation between youth and beauty, and like love and marriage, “you can’t have one without the other.”  Only young people are beautiful, and everyone loses their beauty when they reach a certain age.  Two women approach a portal together, and the younger one says, “Age before beauty,” as if the two were mutually exclusive.  I know many good-looking people over the age of fifty—and they ain’t all white, either!—and I know some very unattractive young adults and children as well.

Another aspect of our personal appearance that subjects us to more discrimination is our height.  There have been studies and tests conducted which have concluded that there is a definite bias with regard to how tall or short a person is. And there is a double standard in this case, too. It is socially preferable for men to be “tall,” that is, at least 5′ 9″, which is the designated standard average height for men. Now that just shows that everything is relative, because we all determine other people’s shortness or tallness by our own height.  I consider 5′ 9″ to be short because I am 5′ 11″ myself (I used to be 6-feet, but I seem to be shrinking with age), and there are many men shorter than that, of course, but there are also many men much taller than that, so I consider mine to be the average, middle height.

Your taller men are considered strong and masterful and are held in high esteem, looked-up-to, so to speak, while “short” men are considered weak and unassuming and are usually overlooked, even ignored, and disrespected.  Little guys tend to be bullied and picked on by the bigger guys, and most women almost exclusively prefer a taller man to a short one. Did you know that short men are discriminated against in employment, in hiring practices and in salaries, too?  They will be the last to be hired, the first to get fired, and they get paid less than their taller co-workers.

Women, on the other hand, being the “weaker and inferior sex,” are supposed to be short, so a woman who is over 5′ 9″ is considered a physical abnormality, subject to pity and derision.  The dilemma that these people set up for themselves is that men don’t want women taller than they are, even if they happen to be short, and women don’t cater to short men, although they themselves may be taller than “normal.” I think that it’s utterly absurd to judge a person or treat them a certain way because of their height, something over which we have no control.  But then, I think that all appearance prejudice is stupid and unfair.

My size and appearance, for instance, are regarded in different ways by people.  Some find me formidable because I am “big and black.”  I’ve told people that I’ve never been attacked or mugged or anything like that on the street, and they will tell me, “Well, you’re so big and black, nobody’s going to mess with you!”  I suppose in one respect I should be grateful that that is how I am regarded, because it indeed keeps people from messing with me.  I mean, I can go anywhere I want to, even into your so-called “rough neighborhoods,” and I never worry about being accosted or mugged, because it has never happened.  But it’s their reason to which I take offense, for it seems that I am feared merely because I am big and black, therefore, some kind of ogre up to no good.  Never mind that I am absolutely non-violent and would not lay a hand on anybody, my size and color serve as a deterrent to prospective aggressors but incites fear in the meek and helpless.

Why is physical stature often equated with brute strength and/or criminal intent?  The gorilla, for example, is one of the gentlest creatures there is, but they were always depicted and portrayed in the movies as fearful, murdering beasts.  Well, actually, movie gorillas are usually actors wearing gorilla suits, so they can do what the director tells them to, things that a real gorilla would not be inclined to do.  And you must already know how black men are regarded in this society, but that’s a whole other issue.

People and animals are not responsible for their corporal size, in most cases.  Our brains don’t tell us that if you are a big person, then you must be a trouble-making brute who throws your weight around, and if you are small in stature, then you have to behave demurely and weakly defenseless. But then again, some people that I encounter look beyond the “big and black” persona and can somehow discern that I am a kind and loving person with no malice aforethought.  Children, especially, readily take to me.  They seem to be able to see past one’s outer façade and into their true nature.

The media are the worst culprits for presenting arbitrary, specialized images to the general public, with regard to fashion, personal grooming and physique.  Television and magazine ads tell us how to look and how to dress.  And if we don’t look and dress the way they tell us that we should, then we must be prepared to suffer the consequences of harsh judgment, ridicule, persecution and discrimination.  I suppose that Joan Rivers, in one of her standup routines, got her comeuppance when she made this sarcastic remark about Boy George. “That’s just what England needs—another queen who doesn’t know how to dress!”

I think that too much is made of clothing and dress—”Clothes make the man,” and all that rot. The phrase is inappropriately sexist, too, since generally speaking, it’s women who are more concerned about what everybody and themselves are wearing than men are. You will hear a woman utter the query, “How do I look?” more often than a man will.  The question also suggests insecurity, as if they are asking for reassurance and approval.  I never ask that.  I can see what I look like by consulting a mirror, and I don’t require anybody’s approval or want their opinion.  I dress for myself, not others.

It’s the women who get most of the attention at weddings, balls and other social functions.  At all of the televised awards shows, everyone’s attention is always on what all the women are wearing, whereas the men get hardly any recognition at all. Fashion and costume designers direct their ideas more to women than men. But fashion trends and emphasis on dress are such a superficial convention.  I have concluded that one of the reasons that we wear clothes, other than for reasons of modesty, is so that we will have something else by which to judge and assess each other. If we all ran around naked, we’d have only each other’s bodies to talk about. With clothes, we have a whole other aspect to work with. The material used, style, how much we paid for our garments, even the frequency with which we wear our clothes, come under close public scrutiny and criticism. “You know, Mabel, I just love that outfit that you wear so often.  I never get tired of seeing it!”

People are constantly being judged by what they wear, but what should it matter? We are all naked underneath our clothes, after all. Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, what a person wears is no indication of their character or inner being.  But you know that a man wearing a suit and tie is generally afforded more respect and recognition than one wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt.  Anybody can put on a suit, even Adolf Hitler, but how does that make them a better person? I am one who likes to dress for comfort rather than formality.  I usually don’t mind dressing up for special occasions, where the particular job or event requires it, but if I am allowed to wear whatever I want to, I will do just that.

I once had to read a colleague of mine, who is considerably younger than I am, but thought that his own particular style of dress and fashion sense were the paragon for all to follow and would frequently criticize other people’s clothing choices. “Who would wear something like that?! … Cliff, I hate that shirt that you have on.  It’s polyester, isn’t it? … You know, those two shades of green that she has on just don’t match!” His judgmental snobbery finally got to me one day and I asked him, ‘Jimmy, who died and appointed you the fucking Fashion Laureate of the World?!  I don’t care if you don’t like what I or anybody else is wearing.  Why do you think that your opinion is so all-important?  Look, somebody went to a lot of time and trouble and work to design that particular garment, and it is being bought and worn, so somebody must like it, even if you don’t.  If it is not to your taste or liking, then it is not to your liking.  You don’t have to badmouth it or turn your nose up at it.  I wouldn’t wear half of that shit that you wear either, but I certainly don’t have the right to tell you not to.  We all are of different generations and cultures, so why would I, or want to, dress just like you?’  He never berated my clothing again, at least not to my face.  And for the record, by the way, I happen to like polyester.  It’s easy to maintain and it feels comfortable.  So, fuck you, Jimmy!

That goes the same for those self-proclaimed fashion critics, like Mr. Blackwell and Steven Cojocaru, even Tim Gunn (from “Project Runway”), who have taken it upon themselves to express the dos and don’ts of what celebrities choose to wear in public.  But that’s just their own opinions.  The outfits that they hate, others may like and conversely not care for the ones that these guys consider to be all that.  What right do they have to tell people how they should dress or consider what they have on to be wrong or in poor taste?  I don’t think that Tina Fey thought at the time, “I’m going to get the ugliest dress I can find to wear to the Golden Globes, so that I can make Cojo’s Worst-Dressed List.“  She probably thought that she was looking fabulous. I don’t care what anyone wears. It’s entirely their business.  I may not like a particular garment, but I’m certainly not going to tell the person that they should not be wearing it.

Although ironing clothes is not my favorite activity, I didn’t mind it so much when on tour with The Flirtations I had to iron my costume shirts (some were silk) before our shows. But I don’t like to iron at home, due to lack of proper space and convenience, so most of my wardrobe is Wash ‘n’ Wear or “wrinkle-free.”  But sometimes a favorite dress shirt of mine will come back from the laundry a little wrinkled, or from hanging in the closet, and some time ago I decided, why does this shirt have to be neatly-pressed for me to wear it in public?  Don’t judge me harshly.  It’s clean and it’s serving its function.  So what if it’s wrinkled?  I could start my own fashion trend like others do all the time—you know, “The Wrinkled Look.”

Who really determines what is proper attire and guides the fashion trends? I think that we do that ourselves or are greatly influenced by the movies and television.  The common folk like to adopt the look and image of their favorite stars, and the fashion designers are forever all too willing to comply with our wishes.  I’ll bet if Brad Pitt or some other big name made a public appearance with a wrinkled shirt on, you wouldn’t mind at all, and it would probably start a trend.  “Well, he’s Brad Pitt.  He can do anything he wants.”  Well, I’m Cliff Townsend.  Shouldn’t I have the same rights as that Brad guy?

At some time in our history just about anything and everything has passed as acceptable fashion fare.  Just look at what has been deemed in the past as haute couture.  We have seen bustles, hoop skirts, fan collars, zoot suits, jump suits, tie-dyed and see-through garments, platform shoes and high-heel sneakers, very thin neckties and very wide ones, suit jackets with patches on the sleeves and worn with just a T-shirt, hot pants and miniskirts, raggedy, torn blue jeans with actual holes everywhere, overalls worn backwards and baggy trousers worn several sizes too big and below the waist.  I think that all those things look a lot stranger than a shirt that’s only slightly wrinkled.

I suppose that we humans’ need for conformity is what perpetuates these fashion trends, strange as some of them may be.  We tend to behave as lemmings, just going along with what the majority, or even not, is doing.  I, for one, pride myself on my individuality.  I purposely avoid conformity.  I don’t feel a need to “keep up with the Joneses,” as it were.  I would rather try to bring them down to my level instead!  I am one who does not follow the changing fads and trends of the day.  “Oh, that’s out-of-style now.“  Who says?  I don’t let any of those self-appointed assessors tell me what’s in or out at the moment.  I buy new clothes so seldom. I have not purchased a shirt in many years. I suppose that everything in my closet would be considered “out of style.” But I don’t care. Some people will hold on to a favorite garment of theirs, hoping that it will “come back someday.”  Come back from where?  If I’m wearing it, then it’s already back! I don’t need anybody’s pronouncement or permission.

This brings me now to the concept of “cross-dressing” or “drag” (aka transvestism). First of all, what is it exactly? As we are all born bare, clothing is merely a covering for our bodies.  What primeval sexists took it upon themselves to assign specific gender to articles of clothing and decided what was to be “men’s clothing” and “women’s clothing”?  Why does it even need gender distinction, since it all serves the same purpose?  Now I suppose a brassiere would be considered a woman’s garment, but then again, there are men who may require to wear one as well.  No article of clothing is exclusive to only one gender, the exception being a jockstrap, for obvious reasons.  So then, the question remains, what is drag?  A “drag queen” is identified by their outfit, makeup, hairdo and jewelry.  The way I see it, since it’s all unnatural superfluity anyway, anything that we don can be considered drag.  Both men and women wear makeup and jewelry in varying degrees.  Both genders wear hairpieces.  A toupee is a type of wig, so it’s merely a matter of hairstyle, isn’t it?

What exactly is a dress? Women certainly are not the only people who wear them.  The Roman toga was a sort of dress, worn by men.  The kilt is a skirt, worn by men.  Kaftans, robes and ecclesiastical vestments are kinds of dresses, worn by men.  As the name itself implies, when one is dressed, they more than likely are wearing some type of dress.  It’s that old double standard again!  Women can wear pants, shirts, suits, caps, athletic socks and shoes (traditional “men’s attire”) on a regular basis, and no one thinks anything about it.  But if a man puts on lace panties, a girdle, a blouse, skirt and high heels, then he’s going “in drag.”  I don’t see a difference.  Again, it’s all just a matter of vestmental choice and style, isn’t it?  Some women say that they feel more comfortable in pants, so maybe some men feel more comfortable wearing a dress.  What’s the big deal?  Why should people be so bothered by other people’s personal fashion preferences?

Hair growth, too, is a natural bodily function that men and women handle differently.  Hair grows on every part of the human body except the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.  It’s a hormonal factor that determines how much hair grows on the body and where.  Whereas with men, hair on any part of their bodies is expected and accepted, and they almost always have the option to remove it or to retain it without societal harsh judgment.  If a man wants to keep his moustache, beard, hairy arms, back or even pate, it’s okay, it’s a matter of personal preference.  But “Society” dictates that a woman cannot do anything that she wants with her bodily hair.  Hers should be found only on the top of her head and nowhere else.  Women with hair growth on their faces (other than eyebrows) are looked upon as oddities.  “The Bearded Lady” is a sideshow freak.  Nobody would make a big deal out of “The Hairless Man” or even the other extreme, “The Hirsute Man.”

Who decided for all humanity which aspect of hair growth is unnatural? Why are women expected to shave their legs and armpits when men are not? Because to retain the hair on those places is considered masculine. And a man who shaves his legs and plucks his eyebrows is considered feminine.  Even the length of the hair on people’s heads takes on sexist connotations.  Long hair is feminine while short hair is masculine.  A man with long hair may “look just like a girl,” while a woman sporting a crewcut looks real butch and is probably a sapphist.  A despicable woman who is hated by her peers will tell you, “Yes, I know that I am such a bitch, but I have such fabulous hair, don’t I?”

Even hair color is subject to standardization, whereas only certain colors are socially-acceptable.  Who says that the hair on people’s heads should be restricted to only the natural colors of black, yellow, gray, white or various shades of brown?  Since our clothing comes in all colors and hues, as well as body applications like makeup, tattoos and nail polish, I think that people should be allowed to dye their hair any color they want to without harsh judgment attached to it.  A mother, whose natural hair color is black, decides to dye her hair blonde but criticizes her teenage daughter when she comes home from the beauty parlor with purple hair.  “Lisa, I forbid you to leave your hair that appalling color!” “But Mother, you dyed your hair yellow.  I just happen to prefer purple.”  The girl has a point.  Shouldn’t hair-dyeing decisions be guided by one’s own personal color preferences?  Then, too, it’s only a matter of shades.  So-called “red” hair, for instance, is not really red but some degree of orange or brown.  Really red hair, like the color of a valentine, is deemed just as strange as blue or green.  Even orange itself comes in varying tones, from dull to bright.

And then some consider that even the so-called normal hair colors should be reserved for certain people.  Now white people can wear their hair in any of the natural colors, mentioned above, that they choose. But blacks and other People-of-Color as blond(e)s or redheads are sometimes regarded as odd and strange. Why is that? Commercial hair dyes are in the public domain, to be used by anybody who wants them. Certain eye colors seem to be reserved for certain people, too. Are only white people allowed to have blue and green eyes, for example? (“Can you really dye my eyes to match my gown?”)

There definitely is a gross contradiction of attitude about hair. There are those who don’t want it on parts of their body and obsess about getting rid of it. But then there are others who don’t have it on certain parts of their body (especially on their head) and obsess about getting it back! I have come to wonder of late how this widespread condition of peladophobia (fear of becoming bald) among men came about.  Why are a great number of men so apprehensive about losing their hair?  Hair loss is as common an ailment as dandruff or failing eyesight.  Not everybody in the world gets it, but it’s certainly not anything to be ashamed of.  Men go to great lengths and expense to save their receding hairline. Why? I blame the advertising media for brainwashing the public into thinking that baldness is unattractive and/or associated with aging.

Even so, it’s more okay for men to be bald than women. A woman who loses her hair is to be pitied, or if she deliberately cuts it all off, is deemed to be strange. When will people come to the realization that hair is a useless commodity anyway. It really serves no necessary purpose. They who have become bald or shave their head on a regular basis seem to get along very well without it. So why even have it at all? Have you ever noticed that the common modern screen depiction of extraterrestrials is shown to be these hairless beings, and whether this rendering is based on fact or mere conjecture, it would suggest to me that in their more highly-evolved state—after all, they have figured out how to get to our planet when we have yet to visit theirs—these creatures have realized the uselessness of body hair. Their ears don’t protrude out the side of their head either, which suggests that with their excellent eyesight they don’t need anything on which to support eyeglasses, as we do. It makes no sense to me to obsess, stress oneself over and spend all that money to maintain something—that is, hair—that serves no useful function whatsoever.

[Related articles: Age Is Just a Number; Gender Issues and Sexism]

Sin and Forgiveness

Let’s talk about sin, shall we? First of all, what is it? People, myself included, have different ideas and interpretations of what sin is. My dictionary defines sin variously as “an offense against religious or moral law; an action felt to be reprehensible; transgression of the Law of God,” and finally “a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.” Then in addition to your basic sin, we have your mortal sins and your venial sins. Mortal sins, like murder, “deprive the soul of sanctifying grace,” whereas venial sins are less serious in nature, therefore pardonable.

I regard sin as I do victimless crimes. If no one is caused any real physical or serious emotional harm, then it’s not a sin. So then, any form of consensual sex is not sinful, in my opinion, and that includes sodomy and homosexuality. Those who contend that homosexuality is a sin must also acknowledge that heterosexual sex is also a sin. According to them, it was Adam and Eve who committed the “Original Sin,“ that is, having sex with each other. So then, if sexual relations in itself is a sin, it shouldn’t matter with whom we do it. Same-sex coitus, therefore, is no more sinful than het intercourse. So there!

I consider the only real “mortal sins” to be crimes against nature, which does not include homosexuality. I’m referring to actions that upset the natural order of things, like murder of any kind: homicide, abortion and killing animals for sport. The jury is still out on the matter of suicide, however, for although it causes physical harm only to the person who commits it, it may cause emotional harm to the person’s surviving loved ones as well. The same can be said for adultery. I don’t consider the act itself to be sinful, but if the cuckolded spouse finds out about it, it may cause emotional harm for them and their children. My most abhorred venial sins would be large-scale gambling and wasting our natural resources, especially food and water.

“Lord God, who takes away the sin of the world…” Really! Where did “He” take this sin to then, since it’s still here and always has been? During each service at the churches where I worked, the congregation recites a “Confession of Sins,” in which they apologize for and ask forgiveness for all the sinful things that they have done during the past week. The priest (or minister) even goes so far as to say that in order to be forgiven of our sins, we need to confess to God directly. But since they say the same thing every time, the prayers must not be doing them any good, because they constantly keep right on sinning, don’t they? So I say, what’s the point? Since you can’t stop yourself from so-called sinning, apparently, then just go on and do it and shut up about it!

I never recited it myself, by the way, because I don’t consider anything I do at all sinful, at least nothing that I need to ask forgiveness for. And then I‘m not a hypocrite either. When I happen to do something that I am sorry for, I don’t want or need God’s forgiveness. I want the forgiveness of the person whom I have wronged. And anyway, if you ask God to forgive you for something, how do you know if you have been forgiven? God’s certainly not going to tell you. What you end up doing ultimately is forgiving yourself, if at all.

“…And forgive us our sins (or debts or trespasses) as we forgive those who sin against us.” That is my favorite passage from “The Lord’s Prayer,” which I agree with wholeheartedly. I expect that most of your law enforcement officials—cops, prosecutors, judges—even jurors, plaintiffs and common accusers themselves are churchgoers or at least accept the Bible’s word (when it suits their purposes, of course). They make us swear on it in court. All the Protestant and Catholic religions that I know about include the Lord’s Prayer in all their church services. People hear or utter that passage every week, some probably every day of their lives, but it seems never to sink in what it actually means. They are so determined to make other people pay for their transgressions, they hold grudges forever and are obsessed with revenge and retaliation, as if they themselves have never done anything wrong or never expect to.

We all need to learn and practice forgiveness. When someone is hurt or wronged by another person, by hanging on to the anger and resentment, it only empowers the other person. They have probably already gone on with their lives, to hell with you! But you are still upset and distraught about what’s been done to you. I have heard people say, “I will never forgive you for what you’ve done!“ But that means that they will spend the rest of their life in mental torment. If you would just let it go and forgive the person, it relieves you of the pain and anguish that has been plaguing you. You don’t have to forget what they did to you, but you can forgive them. It has been my lifelong experience that everyone in my life who has wronged me eventually gets what coming to them. So I don’t worry about getting even. I just sit back and wait for them to receive their own atonement or punishment. And for some reason, they always do. “Karmic Justice” is a real thing. What goes around, comes back around. I truly believe that.

This should be the “Hypocritic Oath”: “Only they who are without any sin whatsoever may cast the first stone.” No one is absolutely guiltless. Therefore, no one has the right to punish another person’s misdeeds, as they are at times most likely guilty of the very same actions themselves. Don’t be so quick to judge. God is my ultimate judge, not you. You should always keep in mind that people are the way they are for a reason. When I encounter an ill-tempered, grouchy, misanthropic person, whom I don’t know, instead of dismissing them or criticizing their demeanor, I always consider how unhappy they must be themself and what they must have gone through in their life to be in the miserable state that they are in. No one is born that way. We all become victims of personal circumstance. That goes for unruly, incorrigible children, people who commit crimes, are homeless or have mental problems, too. I’m not excusing these people’s aberrant behavior; I’m just saying that there is always a reason for people’s actions. When you see someone in trouble or distress, imagine yourself in their position, then try to show them the same compassion and understanding that you would want to receive if you were in a similar situation. It’s the Golden Rule, which I firmly try to uphold.

Of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins—Avarice, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Pride, Sloth and Wrath—I have been guilty of only a few of them, three, to be exact. In my opinion, those three are not necessarily bad or sinful, unless taken to the extreme or used in an abusive manner. I am not a greedy person. I don’t have to have more and more of anything, like money and material possessions. I’m not really envious of anybody. If you have something that I don’t or can do something that I haven’t done, more power to you. I don’t begrudge anyone’s abilities or achievements. I have been known to overeat on more than one occasion, which is the main indication of gluttony, but I do have great self-restraint as well, otherwise I would weigh a lot more than I do. Just like with avarice, moderation is the way I choose to go.

I expect that every normal person, including myself, has feelings of lust from time to time, which is defined as excessive sexual desire. Sure, I get horny, but I don’t always act upon it. It may not be convenient at the time or inopportune. But that’s human nature, not a bad thing in itself. The same can be said of pride. Pride is variously defined as “an over-high opinion of oneself; exaggerated self-esteem; conceit; the showing of this in behavior; haughtiness; arrogance.” But it can also mean “a sense of one’s own dignity or worth; self-respect; satisfaction in one’s achievements.” What’s wrong with that? I certainly recognize my own self-worth, I have self-respect and appreciate and acknowledge my life’s achievements. I think that positive pride is a good thing, whereas false pride or the lack of any humility is not. I’m not too proud to accept help or charity if I need it, and I can admit when I’m wrong and will offer apologies.

I don’t consider myself a truly slothful person. I hate just lying around not doing anything. I do spend a lot of time at home, but I’ve never been a “couch potato” (even if I actually had a couch). Even while watching TV, I’m always working at something—on music, my writing, endless computer projects, stimulating my mind with puzzles, games and reading material, preparing meals, something.

The one thing I definitely don’t do is wrath, which is intense anger, rage, fury. I do find some things in life to be upsetting at times, who doesn’t? But nothing makes me angry enough that I resort to punishment, vengeance, destruction or physical violence to myself or to others. I can’t imagine putting my fist through a wall, for example. For one thing, I would probably injure my hand, and then the wall would have to be repaired. Why would I break or destroy my personal property? I need or want everything that I have. Plus, I would have to clean up everything afterward. It’s not like in the movies when someone trashes a set, because they have people there on hand who are paid to clean up the mess. Besides, whatever it is that made you that mad in the first place, is still going to be there. Your irrational lashing out like that is not going to change anything. Get over yourself!

(# …I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints; the sinners are much more fun… #–Billy Joel)

[Related articles: A Critique of Catholicism; For the Bible Tells Me So; Heaven and Hell; “I Believe…”; Jesus H. Christ; Nativity Negation Redux; Oh, God, You Devil!; The Ten Commandments]

The Ten Commandments

Let us analyze the Ten Commandments (also known as the Decalogue), shall we? These were merely a set of rules suggested by Moses, probably, or whomever, by which to govern his people. Now that the freed Hebrews were starting a new nation in Canaan, they felt that they needed some sort of moral code by which to abide. As idealistic as they may be, each edict is virtually impossible to obey, at least in this day and age, and people’s often futile attempts to abide by them only creates more gross hypocrisy. Why would “God” command such pronouncements? To me, these platitudes sound all too human-inspired.

1. “…Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” If “before” means in front of or in addition to, what’s the matter, doesn’t God like the competition? That is so silly. It doesn’t even make any sense. How can we be held responsible for anything that occurred before the fact? It’s like if you started a new relationship with somebody, and they told you, “You shall not have any other boyfriends before you met me.” What’s already done is done. You can’t change the past. Get over yourself.

2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth.” (Oh, so the Jews do acknowledge heaven!) But then the countless number of statues of Jesus and Mary and every other sculpture and depiction of religious icons, as well as those of regular folks, should never have been. It goes on to say, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them, for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God…” Well, your Catholics, especially, don’t follow that one either, what with all the bowing and genuflecting that they do during their worship services, and displaying reverence when they encounter what they consider to be a holy image. And why would the Lord be jealous, and of what? How could God be that insecure? That’s another human trait, not a Godly one.

3. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…” What does that mean, and why not? If a person calls the Deity by name, a name that we humans have assigned to It in the first place, by the way, then they must be using it for a reason. God has never told us what Its real name is or what It wants to be called, so how is that disrespectful in any way? Another version of this one reads, “You shall not invoke with malice the name of the Lord…“ But just as we ask God to bless people and things, we can also ask It to damn them. What’s the difference? Do you think that God really cares whether or how Its name is used and for whatever reason? I don’t think so. Some people also think that to utter a curse word in a house of worship is a no-no, as if to do so offends God in some way. It’s not God who decided which words are profane or taboo. That’s an entirely human assessment and imposition. It’s God who gave us language and words with which to communicate with one another, and not on the condition that we use only certain words for certain occasions. Drat! Zounds! Gadzooks! (Look them up.)

4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (whatever that means; how does commemorating a certain day safeguard it from evil or sin, and why designate only one day for deep reverence and adoration?); six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, nor thou children, servants, cattle or any stranger that is within thy gates.” How impractical and hypocritical is that? Most Christian religions designate Sunday as their Sabbath Day (I tell you why in my Nativity Redux blog). But it wasn’t God who picked Sunday as the specific Sabbath. That was arbitrarily decided at a much later time. Sunday is a major workday for many people, myself included, and the officiating clergymen, musicians and staff at all the services and in all the churches and worship houses all over the world are working on that very day. Even the Pope himself works on Sunday. Students have assignments to prepare for school the next day. Horses, sheepdogs and other beasts of burden and work animals don’t know what day it is, or care. How are we going to stop them on certain days from doing what they do? Let’s not forget transportation personnel, commercial and business venues, food and drink outlets and the nonstop entertainment media. What, a whole day of no TV or radio?! The world cannot just shut down one day (or more) every week. If you want to take a day off not to do any work, then that’s your business. Don’t expect everybody in the world to follow such a restriction. Life goes on.

Realize that this Commandment is based on a stupid myth anyway. Since God allegedly created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh day, we should all do the same thing in respectful commemoration, I guess. How dumb is that? And then too, Sunday is not the only “Sabbath Day.” Some religions recognize both Friday and Saturday as their Sabbath. That’s already three days out of every week that would be off-limits. But look at the wording of the Commandment again. It says that six days shalt thou labor, but does not designate which specific six days. People all have different workweeks, depending on their particular job and schedule. For those who work in Broadway shows, for example, normally their day off is Monday. So then each person‘s “Sabbath” could be any day of the week, not only weekend days. That in itself renders this entire Commandment pointless and invalid. Next!

5. “Honor thy father and thy mother…” Well, that’s all right for those parents who merit it. But how about those parents who neglect, abuse, abandon, disown, hate and/or even murder their children? Honor and respect are a two-way street. It doesn’t say anything about parents honoring their children, which I think is more important. No child asks to be born, so I think it’s the parents’ obligation to honor their children for the privilege of being born. The parents are the ones who must set the example for their children. I wouldn’t honor a parent who has treated me like shit all my life just because they’re my parent. Unfortunately, we can’t choose our relatives.

The sixth Commandment simply and succinctly states, “Thou shalt not kill.” It’s not qualified with, “…unless it’s in retaliation for someone else’s death or self-defense” or “…except in cases of unwanted pregnancies, nonhuman pests, self-preservation or in times of war.” Are certain acts of murder acceptable when others are not? How should we interpret the statement? To whom does “Thou” refer? The common person? Only those in lowly, powerless positions? Apparently, most people think that “thou” certainly does not apply to them. Should executioners and hired assassins, for example, be exempt, because killing people is their very job? Police officers in the line of duty and homicide detectives, too, during their investigations, will often make a killing while they are apprehending a suspect (and even when they’re not). Our legal system even employs a convenient defense when it suits their purpose: justifiable homicide. “Oh, yes, I killed him, Your Honor. But he deserved to die.” “Oh, well, then. Case dismissed!”

Some versions of this Commandment have been revised to read, “You shall not commit murder.“ So then, what is murder? Murder is defined as the taking of a human life, regardless of the circumstances, period. Some have said that self-defense, for one, is not murder. But I say, why isn’t it? The intent is still there. But even if it isn’t, the result is the same. “I killed him to keep him from killing me.” Given that you have a choice, you could allow yourself to be killed instead of taking the other person’s life. Of course, you’d be dead, but you wouldn’t be guilty of willful murder yourself. If every single person obeyed the rule, then there wouldn’t be any need to defend yourself. So the concept of self-defense seems hypocritical to me. Since you are not going to heed the thou-shalt-not-kill agenda, why should I? That makes us both guilty then.

This commandment can never be achieved anyway as long as there is any type of warfare between humans, since killing each other is the sole purpose and result of war. Some claim that they “didn’t mean to do it.“ So what if you didn’t mean it? They’re dead by your hand anyhow. Moreover, do the victims of killing, per se, apply only to human beings? But then which human beings? Who decides? Is compassionate euthanasia of person or beast allowed, and then is it all right, too, to abort developing fetuses, to slaughter animals, swat flies, step on ants and roaches, chop down trees, pick flowers, pull out weeds? Don’t weeds have the right to proliferate as any other plant? To me, the terms murder, homicide, suicide, genocide, herbicide, insecticide (and all the other -cides), manslaughter, euthanasia, abortion and even warfare all mean the same thing–death by intentional means. Killing anything is still killing. Who can honestly claim that they have never killed a single, living thing in their entire life?

7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Well, now. Most married people have not been able to get around that one. I go into a more detailed discussion of this little indiscretion in my Marry, Marry, Quite Contrary blog.

8. “Thou shalt not steal.” This one is similar to the killing thing. It’s a nice one to follow, in theory, but probably the most difficult one to uphold. Stealing is defined as taking something that does not originally belong to you. Who can honestly say that they have not stolen anything in their entire life? I, myself, am not entirely guiltless. It can be considered stealing when we keep an item we found that someone else lost, misplaced or left behind. School cheating is a form of stealing. You’re stealing the answers from someone else’s paper or from some outside source, and in the case of plagiarism, you’re stealing someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as your own. The people who copy music and visual media items for their own use are stealing the profits from the original creators of said items. Baseball players steal bases. A man might steal a kiss from his beloved. It could mean to seize, gain or win by trickery, deception or fraud, as in, “George W. Bush stole the Presidential election.” One can gain advantage on someone by stealing their thunder. “Nathan Lane stole the show!” Are most of these acts of stealing serious sins? Most would think not.

9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” That seems kind of vague. I suppose it means that we shouldn’t tell lies on anybody. But then is it all right to utter falsehoods about oneself? I can make up anything about myself, whether it’s true or not, but anything that I say about anybody else is the absolute truth. What?! Try getting through life without telling a single, deliberate untruth.

10. (I summarize here.) “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, spouse, servants, household pets or anything that is thy neighbor’s.” This takes the 8th Commandment a step further. Not only are we not to take something that does not belong to us, we are not even allowed to desire someone else’s things! How stupid is that? What’s wrong with merely wanting things that we don’t yet have? Okay, Envy is said to be one of the “Deadly Sins,” but this commandment destroys all human ambition and aspiration. It’s telling us to be content with whatever we are dealt in life and never try to better ourselves. My neighbor has a nicely-manicured lawn and beautiful garden, but mine looks like shit. So I should just leave it like that, because my property shouldn’t look as good as my neighbor’s. There is nothing virtuous about that ordinance and has nothing to do with morality.

Notice that physical assault, rape and other undue aggression are not on the “Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit” list, but we mustn’t take the Lord’s name in vain? That’s a much more heinous infraction, apparently. So you can beat the shit out of your wife as often as you want, but don’t you dare ever utter “God damn you, you fucking bitch!” while you’re doing it.

I believe that every one of these Commandments is violated by most people in the world on a regular basis. How can it be avoided? I think that they just should be ignored all together, which all of us tend to do anyway. And since they were created for the Jews by them, we Gentiles don’t have any moral or religious obligation to abide by those laws. One exception might be No. 5, but I show respect to anyone who deserves it, not just to my parents or just because they are my parents. I, myself, have disobeyed only a few Commandments on the list, and some, like Nos. 1, 2 and 7 don’t apply to me. I haven’t created any graven images nor worship those that already exist. Since I am not married, I can’t be guilty of adultery per se, although I have been an accomplice to it. I don’t consider myself unrighteous or sinful by any means, and I’m not an immoral person either.

I have heard people refer to the Ten Commandments as a Christian proclamation. Christianity has nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of the Commandments. Therefore we have no religious obligation to heed them. Those laws were intended for Moses’ immediate flock. I am sure that he did not expect, or cared, that people would be abiding by his edicts for future millennia and beyond. What it comes down to, ultimately, is the fact that all of these Commandments and any other rules of life that humans are subjected to, are all our own doing and not at all advocated by God. We all are given the concession of free will, and God does not give a shit what we do. We all have to take responsibility and make the proper atonement (as well as endure and accept the consequences) for our actions and misdeeds that we commit in life.

[Related articles: A Critique of Catholicism; For the Bible Tells Me So; Heaven and Hell; Jesus H. Christ; Nativity Redux; Oh, God, You Devil!; Sin and Forgiveness]

Kids Say the Darndest Things

History as reported by 6th Graders
(These are actual unedited answers to a 6th grade history test.)

Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies, and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

Solomom had three hundred wives and seven hundred popcupines.

The Greeks were a highly-sculptured people, and without them we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth. Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.

Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline. This may be true!

In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java.

Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out, “Tee hee, Brutus.” Eventually the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for long.

Joan of Arch was burnt to a steak and was cannonized by Bernard Shaw. Finally Magna Carta provided that no man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

Queen Elizabeth was the “Virgin Queen.” As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops, they all shouted “hurrah.”

It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking. Sir Fransis Drake circumsized the world with a 100-foot clipper.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Romeo’s last wish was to be laid by Juliet.

Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained. This also has a logical ring of truth.

One of the causes of the Revolutionary War was the English put tacks in their tea. Also the colonists would send their parcels through the post without stamps. Finally the colonists won the war and no longer had to pay for taxis. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backwards and declared, “A horse divided against itself cannot stand.” Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth’s career.

The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Louis Paster discovered a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species. Madman Curie discovered radio. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.

The first World War, caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by an anahist, ushered in a new error in the anals of human history.

Another story was William Tell who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son’s head.

[The following quotes are from an elementary music appreciation class. It should be noted that young scholars have expressed their rapture for the Bronze Lullaby, the Taco Bell Canon, Beethoven’s Erotica Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Cracknutter Suite, and Gershwin’s Rap City in Blue.]

“A harp is a nude piano.”

“Gregorian chant has no music, just singers singing the same lines.”

“All female parts were sung by castrati. We don’t know exactly what they sounded like because there are no known descendants.”

“At one time singers had to use musicians to accompany them. Since synthesizers came along, singers can now play with themselves.”

“Henry Purcell was a well-known composer that few people have ever heard of.”

“My favorite composer was Opus.”

“Agnus Dei was a woman composer famous for her church music.”

“The principal singer of nineteenth-century opera was called pre-Madonna.”

“Contralto is a low sort of music that only ladies sing.”

“Refrain means don’t do it. A refrain in music is the part you’d better not try to sing.”

“Music sung by two people at the same time is called a duel. If they sing without music, it is called Acapulco.”

“It is easy to teach anyone to play the maracas. Just grip the neck and shake him in rhythm.”

“A virtuoso is a musician with real high morals.”

“Diatonic is a low-calorie Shweppes.”

“Probably the most marvelous fugue was the one between the Hatfields and the McCoys.”

“The main trouble with a French Horn is that it is too tangled up.”

“An interval in music is the distance from one piano to the next.”

“The correct way to find the key to a piece of music is to use a pitchfork.”

“Agitato is a state of mind when one’s finger slips in the middle of playing a piece.”

“Sherbet composed the Unfinished Symphony.”

“Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present.”

“”Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large.”

“Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.”

The Blame Game

For Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, the ancient Hebrews would take two goats—one to be sacrificed to the Lord, the other to carry the sins of the people away into the desert. So it was this “’scape goat” who, although it did escape sacrifice, bore the burden of the people’s sins. It seems that any closely-knit group has to have their designated scapegoat on whom to dump all their shit.

Most people find it hard to admit to any wrongdoing on their part, so they need to blame somebody else, anybody or anything, except themselves. Check out, for instance, what historical events that gay people have been blamed for: the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the fall of the Roman Empire, the plague in Constantinople (A.D. 543), the fall of Visigothic Spain to the Muslims, the decline of medieval Arabic civilization, the Black Plague, the decline of Renaissance Italy, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, as well as earthquakes in California, the rise of Nazi Germany, the mid-1970s drought in the western U.S., the 9/11/01 attack on the World Trade Center, and, of course, AIDS. You know all the hurricanes and other national disasters that befall the state of Florida and its environs on a regular basis? Well, evangelist Pat Robertson says it’s because of Gay Day at Walt Disney World! But earthquakes and droughts? Come on! Although, I have been told by my lovers that I have made the earth move on occasion.

We could look at it in another way. Instead of blaming the innocent gays, maybe all these regular natural disasters are meant as a wake-up call to the evildoers and misanthropes in this country and abroad. Maybe they are the ones who prompt all those unfortunate events. It’s too bad that those undeserving individuals have to suffer, but there are always resultant casualties, I’m sorry to say.

Haven’t you noticed that when Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Irma wreaked their havoc on Louisiana, Texas and Florida, the country came together to offer financial aid and relief to the storm victims? We had neighbors helping neighbors and strangers helping other strangers without any regard to color, ethnicity, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. Why can’t we do that all of the time? Why does it take a devastating storm or earthquake for people to be kind and civil to each other?

But why no telethon or relief appeal only a few days later when Mexico was hit by a major earthquake and Cuba and Puerto Rico were virtually destroyed by Hurricane Maria? Or they could use part of the money raised from the telethon–over 44 million dollars–to help those other people as well. Why the biased neglect? Aren’t those neighboring Latinos entitled to the same help as our own people here on the home front? We are not discriminating, are we?

People are often unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions. Like when somebody commits a serious crime, all their family and friends will do all they can to get the perpetrator off and will be upset with anyone who interferes. “Don’t you realize that your testimony could send my daughter to prison for life? How could you do that to her? If she is convicted, it will be all your fault.” “My fault? But the bitch killed five innocent people! We should let her off the hook just because she‘s your daughter?”

A man intercepts an assassination attempt by a group of terrorists and kills one of them in the process. Now the man and his family are targeted for death by the brother of the slain terrorist. “I’ll make you pay for killing my brother!” But, excuse me, what was your brother doing when he got killed? Some people think that they can do anything they want to and get away with it, with no repercussions. I think if anyone commits a misdeed, they must take responsibility for it and must suffer the ensuing consequences—relative, child, parent, friend, loved one or self, I don’t care who they are!

There are those who accuse others of ruining their life. Your life is what you make of it; nobody can ruin it for you. Bad things happen to everybody. If you don’t like the way your life is going, then change it. Some people have a single goal in life, and if things don’t work out as they would like, they think that their life is ruined. Don’t despair. Just get on with it. Do something else. Next! It’s ruined if you just lie around wallowing in self-pity and blaming everybody else for your own failures.

Then on the other side, we have those who tend to harbor feelings of guilt for things that they have nothing to do with. They want to take a person’s actions as their own personal affront. “It’s all my fault! If I had stayed home today, none of this would have happened! … I must be the reason Daddy drinks. It’s all my fault … My parents got divorced because of me … How dare you die on me!” Well, maybe it’s not about you at all. Don’t flatter yourself. People do things for their own selfish reasons which may not even involve you.

While I believe that everything happens for a reason, it does not mean that certain adversities in life cannot be prevented. One of my staunch contentions is that there are no accidents, in the sense of things happening that are beyond our control. We all have choices and free will in life, and while things can happen to us unexpectedly or unintentionally, we are always somehow responsible. The choices we make in life bring about the things that happen to us. Carelessness, unawareness and deliberateness on our part are what cause what we like to refer to as accidents. Accident, therefore, is something people invented as a scapegoat so that we don’t have to take any or partial responsibility for our own actions. People are so quick to call anything an accident, if it will let them off the hook. For example, “I didn’t break your window on purpose, Mr. Wilson. It was an accident.” “But, Dennis, you threw the ball at my house, didn’t you? That was no accident. If you had made the choice to throw it in another direction, you wouldn‘t have broken my window.”

If people did not choose to drive automobiles, there would never be any traffic “accidents.” How does one accidentally have a head-on collision with another vehicle? That requires very specific action on both drivers’ parts. Did each driver expect the other to swerve out of the way in time? “She was involved in a hit-and-run accident.” Oh, you mean that somebody accidentally ran her down in the street and then accidentally fled the scene? “I didn’t mean to shoot him. The gun went off accidentally.” Guns don’t go off by themselves. Somebody has to pull the trigger. If you didn’t mean to shoot him, why were you pointing a loaded gun at him? Just like you can’t accidentally shoot yourself in the head while playing Russian Roulette or accidentally get somebody pregnant.

Rock star Janis Joplin was said to have died from an “accidental” heroin overdose. Maybe she didn’t mean to die at that time, but she wouldn’t have OD’d if she hadn’t being doing an excessive amount of heroin, would she? That goes for all the other “accidental deaths“ that we hear about, due to drug overdosing. “That torrential rain that we had created a mudslide that accidentally caused my house to roll down the hill into the sea.” But you are the one who chose to live in a house built on stilts on the side of a dirt hill. The house didn’t just happen there all by itself. “Oops! My dog just had an accident on your new couch.” That was no accident. He meant to take a shit there! Otherwise he would have done it somewhere else or waited to be taken outside. We all take certain chances and risks in our daily lives and just hope that nothing bad happens as a result of the choices that we make.

There is another convenient scapegoat and watchdog that we humans have to blame all our foibles on and who cannot defend itself, and it’s called “Society.” Society sets all the rules and standards of all human behavior, morals, protocol, etiquette, style and fashion. Everything that we do, we have to answer to Society for our actions. “Society does not approve of that … by Society’s standards … In our Society, that just isn’t done.” Society seems to be analogous with God. We think that it will take care of all our problems and situations for us. But who is this Society person that we are always kowtowing to? I thought that I was part of Society. Then aren’t we all Society? Answering to Society is, in essence, answering to ourselves. If I enjoy having sex with my boyfriends and it’s all right with them, why should I have to consult this Society creature to get its permission?

They do a similar convention with “America” and even “the World.” “The News That Shocked America.” Nothing shocks me. “’Three’s Company’ was America’s favorite sitcom.” It was? I didn’t even like that show. Aren’t I a part of America? A few people may have an opinion about something and it becomes all of America’s concern. “Entertainment Tonight” actually made this announcement one night. “The world (!?) is anxiously waiting to get a glimpse at Jennifer Anniston’s wedding ring.“ Whew, that’s a relief! It’s good to know that I was not the only one who was waiting for that. Can you believe such ridiculous hyperbole?

Then we have the arrogance of knowing everybody’s mind and what they like or don’t like. Progress has often been stifled by Society. We used to get, “Society is not ready to accept People-of-Color or gays in positive TV and movie roles,” for example. Well, how would “It” had ever gotten ready if “It” was never exposed to these and other things?

Many would agree that one of the most hated men in history is Adolf Hitler because of the 8 million or more people he supposedly had killed during the Nazi regime in 1940’s Germany. Now I am not saying that it didn’t happen and I am not defending or excusing Hitler’s personal agenda or his campaign to eliminate the Jews and other “undesirables,” but let’s think about who is really at fault. Hitler himself did not actually murder all of those people. He only expressed his desire to have it done. Just because somebody wants something, it doesn’t mean that they will always get it. (The people in Hell would like some ice water, too!) It was Hitler’s disciples and minions who did the actual killings. So they are really the ones to blame, along with all those who stood idly by and let it all happen. I consider it utter bullcrap when those Nazi soldiers and SS officers say that they had to do what they did under superior order. “We didn’t have a choice.” Of course, they did. We all have the power of free will always to make choices in our lives. Nobody has to do anything, except die some day. Everything else that we do in life is a matter of choice.

What would have happened if nobody had complied with Hitler’s wishes? If he had gotten rid of all his subordinates who defied him, there wouldn’t have been anybody left to work for him. They could have called his bluff. Things would have turned out very differently. He’s only one man. How could he have accomplished that all by himself? Somebody could have stopped him for even trying. It’s one thing only to think evil deeds, and another to carry them out. I have learned that Hitler was just a capricious blow-hard anyway. He would come up with these stupid ideas about harming innocent people, and his fawning sycophants would obligingly go along with it. “Duh, okay, Mein Führer, I’ll do it. You can count on me.“

Likewise, King Herod didn’t murder all those babies. His soldiers did all of the killings for him. “With all due respect, Your Majesty, instead of murdering all those innocent babies, why don’t we get rid of your ass instead?! That would be far less trouble and effort.” Just like I don’t blame the Rev. Jim Jones for getting all those more than 900 people in Guyana to commit suicide with him. The man was obviously a nut. I blame the people themselves for listening to his crazy butt. So then I can’t fault Hitler for having such nefarious notions. People can think what they please. I resent more the ones who put his misanthropic ideas into action and allowed it to continue for as long as it did, and there were many who complied and accepted the situation.

This was no covert operation. The German and other nations’ citizens knew exactly what was going on. I learned that some of the massacres were not done in secret, but in broad daylight with crowds of people witnessing the proceedings. They have it all on film! It became a social event, with people gathering at the lynching sites, and they would stand on the sidelines hooting and cheering as men, women and even children were being dispatched. It was no different how they behaved at other public executions over the centuries. They wouldn’t even bury the dead bodies properly, but leave limbs and heads sticking out of the ground as reminders of what was done. Hitler can’t be blamed for any of that.

Some still even consider Adolf Hitler to have been a great man. I would agree with that in the sense that “great” does not necessarily mean “good” all the time. Alexander the Great’s “greatness” was his military ability for national conquests, which required killing a lot of people in the process. And although Peter the Great did a lot of good for Russia during his reign, he was also deemed a sadist and tyrannical despot. A great person can be one with major influence on the world at large and with much political power. Hitler certainly had that, to get all those followers to do his every bidding, misguided as he was.

I am curious if future history accounts will determine George W. Bush Jr. to be our modern-day Hitler. Look at what all he got his people to do for him during his Reign of Terror as Governor of Texas and then President of the United States. His Let’s-Go-to-War-and-Destroy-Our-Enemies speeches were awfully similar to the ones Hitler made during his leadership. His concerted campaign to “wipe out all the evil in the world where it exists” is the same thing Hitler said about the Jews and other non-Aryans. Just because those Jewish victims didn’t fight back, it doesn’t make this other situation less heinous.

All that war is really is disguised, sanctioned genocide. Bush often lied to the American public in order to justify his actions and decisions. Evil has always existed in the world, so why does Bush think that it was his sole responsibility completely to eradicate it? Why didn’t he clean up his own house first before worrying about other countries and the world at large? Consider that people were not on to Hitler either until it was too late. Only time will tell. Keep in mind that there was another time when somebody listened to a Bush, and the people ended up wandering around in the desert for forty years!

People can be so apathetic about other’s woes, as if nothing will ever happen to themselves. And some seem to be under the false impression that people they know personally are incapable of any wrongdoing. It’s only strangers that commit all the crime in the world, you see. I don’t put anything past anybody, I don‘t care who you are!

Here is one film scenario. A young housewife, who is normally law-abiding, is driving on a country road when she inadvertently runs down a child on her bicycle, putting her into a coma. The driver tried to call it an accident, although she had just been drinking, and she wasn’t watching the road at the time. So since the woman has no phone to call anyone, she leaves the girl by the side of the road and drives away to get help, with the intent of returning to the scene. But while she is gone and before she can tell anyone what has happened, the injured girl is discovered by another motorist who reports the situation as a hit-and-run. Now the woman who hit the girl is afraid to come forward as the one who did it. So she keeps quiet about it.

When the news gets out to the media, her friends and family are outraged and proceed to lambaste and badmouth the “despicable person who did that. I hope that they catch the guy and throw them in jail for the rest of their life!” Of course, they would say that only about some unknown party, because nobody they know could do such a thing, right? But I doubt if their sentiment would be the same if they knew their close friend or relative was the actual culprit. Their moral standards radically change then. And that is where the hypocrisy comes in. A bad action is apparently unacceptable and inexcusable when a complete stranger does it, and not so when a loved one is the guilty party. But if you have such a strong, negative opinion about a misdeed, it shouldn’t make any difference who commits it.

A couple discovers that their teenage son has killed his pregnant girlfriend. Should the parents keep quiet and try to protect the boy or should they tell what they know? Of course they don’t want to get him convicted. After all, it’s their kid. But if it was their own child that was murdered, and the killer’s parents knew it, I’m sure they would want them to come forward. Always put yourself in the other person’s place. A mother claims to be a staunch advocate of capital punishment, until her own son ends up on Death Row. Cold-blooded murder is far less heinous when Daddy is doing it. Every criminal and victim is somebody’s relative or loved one. Just because they are not yours personally, does not change the situation.

Here is a situation which is not criminal but hypocritically judgmental nonetheless. I saw a teleplay about a wartime soldier (portrayed by Jacques Bergerac) whose term is up and is about to be released from active duty. When he phones his family to alert them of his arrival, they all are overjoyed about his homecoming. The soldier then tells them that he has a friend with him, who saved his life, and he would like to bring him along. They were all for the idea until he added that his friend had been wounded in action and is now missing a leg. Oh. Now they all change their tune. Oh, dear! Do they really want to spend time with a disabled person? “Uh, son, we appreciate what your friend did for you and all, and he is most welcome here, but don’t you think that he will be out of place? He won’t be able to ride with us or swim or do anything. We will help him in anyway we can, if he needs further treatment or financial assistance. But don’t bring him with you, dear. It just wouldn’t be convenient. You understand, don’t you?”

When he hangs up the phone, the guy tells his friend that he has changed his mind and will not be going home after all. Then he gets up to leave, and we see for the first time that he is the one with the missing leg! So his family revealed their true colors! They couldn’t be bothered when they thought the poor, unfortunate crip was someone they didn‘t know. I don’t think they would have expressed those sentiments to their son directly, even though now we know what they really think about it. I think he must have already suspected how his parents would react, which is why he first put them to the test.

We might consider changing the way we express certain things, too. Those aspects about ourselves that we had nothing to do with and, in most cases, can’t do anything about—that is, our gender, our ethnicity, our sexual orientation, and the mere circumstances of our birth—we should not be held responsible for. If a female is being subjected to sexual harassment or mistreatment, it’s not her fault. People say, “She was treated that way because she’s a woman.” No, she wasn’t. She was treated that way because of sexism. She can’t help it that she was born a woman. “He was discriminated against because of his color.” No, he wasn’t. He was discriminated against because of racism. What, we should all change our color at will to please certain people? “He was a fine worker, but we had to let him go because he’s a homosexual.” No, that’s not the reason. You let him go because you are homophobes. He was a homosexual when you hired him.

In all of these instances, they make it sound as if certain people are liable by their very being and deserve the mistreatment that they receive. “She’s an illegitimate child, you know.” Why is the stigma of illegitimacy always placed on the innocent child? It’s the parents, not the child, who are “illegitimate,” if you want to use that word. I don’t think that childbirth should be a matter of legality anyway. It’s not against the law to be born or to give birth, and a child is not responsible for its own birth. If you have to say anything, I think that “out-of-wedlock child” is a better term to use. It explains the situation without being morally-judgmental about it. But even that terminology is now outdated and inappropriate. A woman does not have to be married to have a baby. In fact, there are probably as many children worldwide born out-of-wedlock than those who are not. Let’s put the blame where it lies—on the accusatory bigots, not on the innocent subjects.

People need to realize, too, that we are all connected in some way, and anything done to somebody else is going to affect ourselves at some point. No one is exempt from global adversity. Some people think that nothing bad will ever happen to them. Bad things happen only to other people. So as long as it’s not their own problem, they don’t worry or care about anybody else. And when something bad does happen to so-called “good” people, it’s often questioned. “Why me, Lord? What did I do to deserve all this misfortune?” Well, it may not be something that you did, exactly, but rather something that you did not do.
Maybe you denied help to a fellow human in need or allowed a fellow classmate to be harassed and bullied. Maybe you sat quietly by and said nothing when your co-workers made an ethnic slur or said something that was disrespectful to women or gays. Things that affect seemingly only a few people, affect everybody. So then everyone is affected by racism, sexism and homophobia, not just People-of-Color, women and homosexuals. If you put any degree of hate or intolerance out into the world, and that includes the act of willful indifference, it will eventually come back to you. You know, what goes around, comes around. I firmly believe that. And I have seen definite indications of it throughout my life, too.