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WTF Wednesday

If you look at the ratings, the crazed fans (“regular Suzy homemakers” many of them) in the audience, the 4.5 million followers on Twitter, her No. 3 position on the Twitter ranking (behind Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears *Yes, I know* BUT ahead of POTUS), you’d be convinced that Ellen DeGeneres has gone mainstream. For goodness sake, Ellen is a CoverGirl! She is able to mention her wife Portia de Rossi in the mundane way that spouses mention each other in their conversations with other people without raising any eyebrows.

Wanda Sykes has a show on Fox.

The primetime TV show “Modern Family” on ABC includes in its main characters a suburban couple with an adopted daughter who happen to be gay without any trace that would possibly remind you of Jack from Will and Grace.

If you put your blinder on (and force yourself to forget about Prop 8), you can tell yourself that, yes, gays and lesbians have been accepted as “one of us”. Or at the very least, homosexuality is now broadly accepted as yet another piece of fabric weaved into this complex, multi-faceted world that we live in.

You would be wrong.

First of all, as you are well aware of, there is a fight raging on in Washington over “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. I can’t do my frustration justice without simply asking you to watch my beloved Jon Stewart proposing a ban on Old People from serving in the Senate. Naturally “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” would apply also should this ban go through…

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The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
A Few Gay Men & Women
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Reform

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Earlier we were outraged by what happened to Constance McMillan, the lesbian high school student in Itawamba, Mississippi who wanted to wear a tux and bring her girlfriend to the prom and was denied this request by the school board. At the same time we were amazed and impressed by this young woman’s poise, resolve and courage when she didn’t take the easy way out by simply backing down and instead took her case up with ACLU. Such a story naturally hit close to home for Ellen: She invited Constance to be on the show to tell her story and presented Constance with a scholarship of $30,000 (from an anonymous donor) at the end of the interview. Later when a federal judge ruled that the school board violated her rights by cancelling the prom (without ordering the district to hold the prom as planned), Ellen sent yet another strong message to Constance, and also to her viewers.

You’d thought such outrage would have taught the school district, the parents and the students involved to rethink their position and learn a lesson from this. But no…

Last Friday, Constance was sent to an effectively “fake” prom which was only attended by 5 other students. The principal and teachers were also there as chaperons. Two of these students were reportedly disabled. (One had to assume that they have also been directed to this “fake” prom). In the mean time, a privately-held party organized by parents was held in another location attended by, you guessed it, the other students. “The parents didn’t want Constance there, and they didn’t want to get sued.” Some reports said.

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The "Secret Prom" Constance McMillan was not invited to. She lucked out judging by the photo...

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You’d think that people would eventually wake up one morning and realized such cruelty is unbecoming of a human being and relent. But no…

The other students have been identifying themselves as victims because Constance ruined the prom and their memories of senior high school. As a normal teenager would do when they have an ax to grind against somebody, they started a Facebook page called “Constance quit yer cryin.(I just spent an hour reading some of the things being posted on that Facebook page. My jaws are still on the floor…)

All this is unbelievable isn’t it? Well, no worries. Because our fellow human beings never disappoint. What is even more unbelievable, more outrageous, more horrifying, and more saddening is the case of Phoebe Prince in South Hadley, MA, who killed herself in January after cyber and emotional bullying. The most un-fucking-believable part of this? Her tormentors went to her Facebook the day after she hung herself (and discovered by her 12-year-old sister!) and mocked her. Right there on the memorial page.

It’s been two months and every time when I think of her and this story, I cannot stop cursing and crying.

Finally on March 29, nine teenagers were indicted for their involvement in this case. I sure hope I will not hear about Facebook page set up by supporters of the Hadley 9 bemoaning how Phoebe Prince has ruined their lives.

What happened here?

The teachers have been blamed for Phoebe Prince’s death; the school district/board has been blamed for the prejudiced decision against Constance McMillan.

How about the parents?

What I am seeing is a severe case of Undeserved Sense of Entitlement and Lack of Accountability.

Teachers don’t teach you this at school. Nor should they be responsible for building characters and moral fortitude for the kids. It is the parents’ job, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong: I am not so smug as to assume that I will be able to understand my children when they turn teenagers. But as a parent, you have got to try as hard as you could. Now I know you did not try hard enough if you were organizing a private party just so you could exclude the gays and the disabled. The disabled? WHAK? Does the Bible say something against the disabled too?

Candace Gingrich-Jones on HuffPost put out a call for action:

“We can all learn a lot from Constance McMillan and how she has handled herself — when we see something that doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. And it is the responsibility of every one of us to take some kind of action on behalf of fairness. Whether you bring up bullying at the next PTA meeting, write a letter to the Itawamba County School District, or call out your friends or co-workers when they say ‘faggot’ or ‘that’s so gay,’ you are improving the climate for queer youth — and adults. Do something.”

DO SOMETHING.

Let’s tell our kids that “the buck stops here.” The buck has got to stop with them. Let’s tell them that we understand peer pressure and how hard it is to survive high school, but they have to be the one that speak up. If not to their peers, then to an adult. If malicious rumors are being circulated about someone, the least they have to do is to NOT continue the chain. Break the cycle of cruelty. Sometimes all it takes is one person to stand up or stay back or speak up.

LET’S DO SOMETHING.

Baby steps. All of us.

One Ellen DeGeneres is not enough.

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Let’s start with the word “Gay”.

Let’s start with banning the usage of the word “gay” as a substitute for “stupid, dumb, ugly, undesirable, etc.” from your schools.

Since I wrote “That’s so Gay” is NOT so funny! This has nothing to do with sense of humor… last February, “That’s so gay” has been gaining popularity as just another common expression. I am hearing (and seeing on Facebook) this phrase more and more often, from children younger and younger who have no idea what “being gay” means. As the phrase takes on the facade of familiarity, moving into the realm of the vernacular, taking on the identity of an idiom (because what exactly does it even mean in this context?! Children or the immature adults only know to prevent this phrase from ever being used on them… but what exactly does it mean?!) it is becoming harder and harder to fight it off.

I am tired of hearing “That’s so gay.” I really am. There are so many words in English to choose from to denote your distaste for something. Get a thesaurus. Get a book of classic insults by Shakespeare. Wilde. Because when you are so concerned about being called “gay” that “That’s so gay” becomes a popular insult, you know, you sound like a Homophobe to me. And you know what they say about Homophobes… How about this, let’s give “That’s so Beck” a try.

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p.s. Here’s my angry musing on the increasing popularity of the usage of “Gay” as an insult…

The increasing popularity of the usage of “Gay” as an insult is indicative of the underlying homophobic mentality permeating in our society, despite decades of working towards acceptance by the “mainstream”. This is, the way I read it, part of the backlash against the gains made by gays and lesbian. They have co-opted the word “queer” so that now it conveys pride in self-identification in some specific uses. It is then not too far off to see the co-opting of the word “Gay” as revenge by the not-so-enlightened amongst us: they are trying to turn the previously neutral and PC “label” (for lack of a better word) into a slur. “You took an insult word from us so that we can no longer hurt you with it. Guess what? We are going to turn how you have been identifying yourselves with into a insult equivalent of anything undesirable…”

Clever maneuver by the not-so-tolerant.

What does this say about how we really feel about those who are different from the “norm” deep down, behind the door, if we allow the use of this word on the playground and in the school hallways as part of the litany of insults that our kids can hurl at each other?

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And, like a bad infomercial on TV, THERE IS MORE!

The drama continues here on the Facebook page set up by the adults from Itawamba, Mississippi. It is easy to see where the kids have learned their prejudices and bigoted attitudes. I don’t want to sound naive to say that I am shocked by the ugliness found there. But despite all my cynicism, I am still shocked.

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Thanks to the straight (and stern) talks from you, I went to see a doctor today. Just a random doctor since I don’t really have a family doctor. My Ob-Gyn is the only doctor that I “keep in touch” throughout the years. And oh, yes, my dentist. I have been forced to drop quite a few family practitioners in the past when they 1. suggested that I get my tubes tied after I had my second child, 2. ordered expensive tests that still cost thousands after the 80% insurance pay when the disgonosis turned out to be Achilles tendinosis (So no, nothing to do with my nerves), 3. mis-diagnosed my blood clog as a muscle tear.

I gave the good doctor the litany of my symptoms: nausea & vomiting, dizziness, headache, sinus discomfort (but not pain nor pressure), stuffy feeling in my ears. I shared with him my theory of this being allergy-induced since my “condition” started a month ago when Spring supposedly arrived. I appreciated his gallant efforts in not rolling his eyes in my presence. I also informed him of some new development: running nose, a fever, and possibly the worst chill I have ever had in my life.

After all this, his diagnosis? “Are you suffering a lot of stress lately?”

I am a working mother with two rambunctious boys working full time commuting downtown with the company headquartered in another state 800 miles away and a boss that is scheming to either get me to move there or to get rid of me and a husband that travels 50% of the time for work. So yeah. I guess I am stressed.

“Have you suffered from any head injury? Did you hit your head somewhere?”

Why? You read my blog or my tweets?

“I think this is tension headache.”

Hello? What about the nausea and the vomiting?

“Are you married?”

Do I look tired and not care how I look? Yes, I am married.

“You should ask your husband to rub your neck.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Ha ha. Yes. I should write you a prescription to get him to do this, and if I submit it to your insurance, they may even pay him! Ok. Here is what I want you to do…”

Miracle drugs?

“I want to get some blood tests done to rule out the usual: thyroid, glands…”

Really? Why am I NOT surprised?

“And then I want you to get an MRI. I am worried about the headaches. The MRI is going to come back clean, but I want to rule anything out before I talk to you again. So after you get your MRI, call me, and I can talk to you about Tension Headaches.”

Seriously? Is an MRI even remotely necessary in my case?

Like a good Chinese girl (brought up in a Chinese society let me emphasize this), I did not question the good doctor. And really, should I even question my good fortune? I am blessed enough to be covered by a top-notch health insurance plan: the free health insurance provided by my company is a Cadillac plan. It covers everything. No pre-certification required for most of the expensive tests. If the doctor does not even want to wait and wants me to get an MRI before he even talks to me more, which I am actually able to get right away without having to call the insurance company and go through the labyrinth of paperworks, unlike say people on Medicare, should I not be grateful?

Fine. Call me an ungrateful bitch. But here is what I thought as soon as I walked out of the doctor’s office:

Son of a bitch. He is worried that he may get sued if something happens to me and he did not order me an MRI.

How much of the root cause for the rising health care costs in the U.S. is due to the fear of lawsuits?!

(Yeah, I know. You will be wanting to see me eating my foot if the good doctor was right and the MRI does detect something. THAT will solve all the questions about “What the F is wrong with you?!” in more ways than one. And seriously, if something is growing inside my head, you cannot fault me for being a bitch so would you really still want to see me eating my foot?… So the way I see it, either way, my foot will stay as far away from my mouth as humanly possible. Ha!)

All this rambling reminded me of a post from February 18, 2009, “Americans pay $650 billion more for health care than comparable countries…” when there was absolutely no traffic to my blog…  Reading the conclusion I drew more than a year ago,

“In the United States, the ‘average’ consumer of health care pays for only 12 percent of its total cost directly out of pocket (down from 47 percent in 1960), as well as for 25 percent of health care insurance premiums, a share that has stayed relatively constant for the last decade.  Well-insured patients who bear little, if any, of the cost of their treatment have no incentive to be value-conscious health care consumers.”

This sounds familiar but now we have the numbers to back up our suspicions:

In order for any health care reform to work and stick, it is important that we carry out the education and cultivation of a new generation of patients that are “value conscious” and treat the burden of health care, even when they do not have to pay for it DIRECTLY, as ultimately their own INDIRECT cross to bear.

I am saddened and a bit ashamed, seeing how I will be getting an MRI after all, albeit begrudgingly. I am only human – I do not want to bear the unnecessary risk of not getting this MRI just to make a point, especially since it is readily available to me. So that puts us in a bit of a conundrum, doesn’t it?

Foot in my mouth after all.

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I am honored to welcome Velva from Tomatoes on the Vine to participate in the WTF Wednesday feature in which rants and foaming are conducted and strong opinions are shared on things that bother us, that just won’t go away until we get on our soap box and let it rip.

Velva celebrates the deep, communal meaning in food, through her wonderful blog: Tomatoes on the Vine – sustaining our bonds with one another through the simple grace of sharing a meal. What makes me respect her even more is that, in the midst of the gorgeous pictures she takes and the delicious plates she shares with her friends and families,  she did not forget where the food came from, and how it got to our table. The Politics of Food Production and Distribution. We don’t want to think about it. But it is there.

Now let’s give a round of applause and welcome Velva to WTF Wednesday! (And you can be NEXT!)

The Price of Tomatoes

by Velva Knapp @ Tomatoes on the Vine

I was born and raised in South Florida where the landscape and food are as diverse as its people. I don’t want to take you to the part of South Florida where you pass million dollar houses and shopping malls that include Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany’s. I want to take you on a journey to the other side of the tracks to Immokalee, Florida, located 120 miles Northwest of Miami. When you arrive, the highway suddenly shrinks from six to two.

Welcome to the Tomato Capitol of the United States.

During the months of December through May most of the tomatoes consumed in the United States come from this impoverished, gritty, dusty town filled with potholed streets and trailers that are almost uninhabitable, or at a minimum in permanent disrepair. Not only is this the Tomato Capitol of the United States but according to Douglas Molloy, the chief assistant U.S. attorney, “Immokalee Florida has another claim to fame: It is “ground zero for modern slavery”.

How does slavery occur in the United States in 2010?

The condition in which these migrant workers live and work is appalling and sub-human. Since 1997, over 1,000 men and women have been freed by law enforcement in Immokalee, and these were only the cases that led to conviction. A well-known fact is when you are undocumented, mistrustful and speak little or no English; you are not likely to report the crime. This allows the crew bosses who exploit these workers to go uncharged and the big growers who hire them, simply turn a blind eye and go unnoticed.

As I write this post, I am not referring to a few incidents of unscrupulous crew bosses, what I am writing about takes place everyday, and not just to a few but to many migrant workers who do jobs that most Americans cannot even fathom.

I am not trying to stir-up a debate about U.S. immigration policy but, to look on the human side of the people who work our fields to ensure that our grocery bins and fast-food chains are filled to the brim with tomatoes and most other produce. The fact remains that big companies under the guise of labor contractors and crew bosses, recruit, lure and hire migrant workers. Promise them basic necessities such as food, shelter and medical care, if they should become injured on the job. Instead, many migrant workers are provided appalling housing conditions, virtually no medical care and there is a cost for everything.

The migrant worker working in Immokalee’s tomato fields, rummages through staked vines looking for hard green tomatoes-when the 32-pound basket is filled, It is then hoisted upon their shoulder and then trotted up to large dumpster the size of a gravel bed of a truck. The basket of tomatoes is then dumped, and the process starts all over again. This is usually done at break neck speed. On a good day, for each basket that is picked, a worker can earn a token worth about 45 cents. A young fit worker could pick a ton of tomatoes a day, netting about $50 per day-that is if the worker actually receives what they have earned. A known practice is that when piece workers are paid their work is routinely falsified.

Oftentimes, their pay is also docked for everything from drinking water from a hose, a meager meal of tortillas and beans, or using the bathroom. An average trailer that literally leans in the wind and houses on average ten migrant workers usually costs about $800 per month. Want to take a cold shower $5 to use a garden hose and $20 a week for urinating and defecating outside because there is no indoor plumbing. In a relatively short period of time, the workers are in debt to the crew bosses and in a situation in which they cannot pay off their debts, and are forced to live in involuntary servitude.

Next time, you head to the grocery store and are placing your tomatoes or other produce in your cart you can reasonably assume that your produce was picked by the hand of a slave – as it is not an assumption. It is a fact.

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How I relax

February 9, 2010 a picture is worth a thousand words

Tweet To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me, and I’ll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism: it’s my least favorite quality, and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody […]

22 comments

Wanker Wednesday: My problems with “The Help”

January 20, 2010 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

Tweet I probably don’t need to publish this post on my blog. It is not appealing. It is not good writing. It will not make you laugh out loud. It is not even a proper rant. Besides, it is friggin’ long – I am amazed at how much I tapped out on my iPhod, and […]

20 comments

WTF Wednesday: Eye? Aye!

January 13, 2010 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

Tweet It is Thursday (and actually soon will be Friday…) Yes, I am cheating again by backdating my post. But it IS Wednesday somewhere in the world, right? Oh. Who cares. It is a WTF post by me when I’ve got my WTF glasses on. (Yeah, this line is for you my Wicked Kitchen Lady…) […]

18 comments

WTF Wednesday: Year-End Clearance

December 30, 2009 a picture is worth a thousand words

Tweet I have all these wonderful posts ideas for posts lined up for before the end of the year. Alas, I am in turbo-boost Catch Up mode: In less than 10 days, I had the wonderful experience of flying on 6 different airplanes. Not accustomed to being a road warrior, to rapidly adjusting to different […]

4 comments

WTF Wednesday: Christmas Presents Don’t

December 23, 2009 a picture is worth a thousand words

Tweet Your pending divorce. Or the future bildungsroman written by your children. Courtesy of CVS. While you are at it, get one of those cards strategically positioned by the cash register at any liquor store to go with an item you carefully selected from this section.

29 comments

WTF Wednesday: Fighting “I Guess I’m a Racist” with “I Guess I’m a Lazy Ass”!

December 16, 2009 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

Tweet UPDATE (12-17-2009): I realized that my attempt at satire actually makes it even more confusing. My apology. I will lay it out straight: The “I’m a Racist” ad is ridiculous also because it predicted on the faulty assumption #1 HCR is mostly about the African Americans #2 Ergo I have been accused of being […]

20 comments

Really!?! I will show you how inscrutable I am in plain English…

November 9, 2009 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

Tweet Warning: This post should be filed under “Psychotic Ranting and Anonymous Foaming”, a category available from NaBloPoMo, (Thank you to whoever was wise enough to create this category…) in which I whine about stereotypes that caught me by surprise.  Please feel free to ignore me when I am behaving like a rabid dog.  Come back […]

12 comments