The Chick Fil A controversy blah blah blah

My Facebook newsfeed has been exploding this week from friends on both sides of the debate over Chick Fil A and statements made by their CEO, Dan Cathy.  Well, here is my take.

(I should preface this by saying that I’m an evil, awful, God-forsaken liberal and if you hate liberals as much as you should, take this with a grain of salt…speaking of which, Chick Fil A needs to put more salt on their waffle fries).

I’ve been addicted to the chicken at Chick Fil A as long as I can remember.  My brother used to love McDonald’s McNuggets and I told him once he had a Chick Fil A nugget he would never go back.  As far as I know, he never has.  I’ve been a loyal customer for decades.  I have to say this so that you’ll know I’m biased when it comes to Chick Fil A.  There can be no other chicken substitute for me.

So when I say that Dan Cathy can say whatever the hug he wants because that right is protected by the 1st Amendment you might think that it’s because I salivate at the mere mention of a Chick Fil A Chicken Sandwich please hold the pickles.  Not true.  It’s because I believe that freedom of speech is a living breathing thing and it cannot exist when only one kind of speech is acceptable.  A long time ago this really smart dude named Voltaire said, “I may not like what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

On the flip side, as a consumer I have the right to not spend my hard-earned money at businesses where I disagree with their political values/affiliations, where or how they produce their goods, their business practices, their employment practices, etc.  Which is why I won’t shop at Wal-Mart.  So, if someone who hears Dan Cathy’s comments about marriage equality and disagrees, finds them abhorrent and hateful, well they have the right to not spend their money at Chick Fil A.  They have the right to protest and boycott against CFA because that’s how we do in the United hugging States of America.

Obviously Dan Cathy has some pretty strong religious beliefs.  I mean, Chick Fil A closes on Sunday (which frankly I never noticed because I live in Utah and a lot of things close on Sunday) and the statements he made were to a Baptist magazine.  In the United States you can believe whatever you want and that’s one of the great things about this country.  We have freedom of religion, even if other people find your beliefs and/or religion stupid, ignorant, or hateful.  My religion is regularly called a cult and I just smile and put back on my tinfoil hat.

Just like I find the beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan to be abhorrent and disgusting and something that if it were in paper version I would wipe my read-end with.  But if I look down into the deepest part of my soul and say with conviction that I believe in the freedom of speech, I have to say that the KKK should be allowed to have their marches, spew their hate, and clean the highway.  And I have the right not to attend their marches, listen/read their hate, or drive down the highway they clean.

Just like when Rush Limbaugh, who I find to be piggish in every sense of the word, called Sandra Fluke a “slut” for trying to testify before a Congressional committee, as disgusting and repulsive as I find Rush, he has the right to get on the radio and spout off whatever ridiculously misogynist bull crap he wants.  And I have the right to call him a sexist pig for his comments and not listen to his show.  If others want to go so far as to pressure his advertisers to drop their sponsorship of his program, they can.

Just like if the “Million” Moms want to protest against JC Penney and not shop there because they have Ellen as their spokesperson, they can.  And I have the right to call that action homophobic and hateful and shop even harder at JCP to counteract that.  That’s what we do as Americans.

“The solution to bad speech is more speech.”  -some smart person

I saw this controversy compared to the Dixie Chicks brouhaha of 2003 and not only did I laugh because they both have the work “chick” in them, I think some people who are supporting Chick Fil A now totally vilified and made death threats against the Dixie Chicks back then.  Ah how life is a glorious circle.  Dixie Chicks had the right in 2003 to say, “we’re ashamed President Bush is from Texas” and those who disagreed had the right to not buy their albums, go to their concerts, etc.  (Interjection to say the things I was saying back in 2003 were way harsher but no one pays any attention to me because I can’t play the banjo).  But let’s be honest…was it really that simple?  Nope.  Those ladies had their lives and families’s lives threatened.  Their records/CDs were smashed and set on fire in some sort of Nazi book-burning re-creation.  They lost their once at-the-top-of-the-world careers.  Do I think this is going to happen to Dan Cathy?  I hope not.  If anyone threatens his life over this they are ridiculous and need to take it down a huggin’ notch.  Will he lose his business?  I doubt it.  There are enough people who agree with Cathy to keep the CFA coffers filled.    I hope no one abducts a Chick Fil A cow and sets it on fire.  That is crossing a pretty big line.

To wrap this all up I have to come out as a gay ally.  I believe in freedom of religion and separation of church and state.  If a church chooses not to recognize gay marriage, that’s its right as per freedom of religion.  But  a church does not have the right to legislate the laws of the land per separation of church and state.  I have many beloved LGBT friends or as I like to call them, just friends.  I cannot in good conscience tell them that my marriage and partnership with my spouse deserves more rights and legal recognition than theirs.  Some of them have been with their spouses longer than I’ve been with mine.  So if one of my friends tells me that Dan Cathy’s words hurt them and they choose not to buy anything from Chick Fil A, I say that’s their right.

And just in case anyone doubts it, I have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  I believe it when he told me that the second greatest commandment is to love one another.  I’ve never had a problem with homosexuality and I never will.  And if having a problem with it is a requirement to be “a real Christian” well phooey on you.  I don’t believe it.  I was a senior in high school when East High School had their big fight over a gay-straight alliance club.  To say it was the talk of every class would be an understatement.  The only thing that sticks out in my mind about it 16 years later (shut up, I’m old) was a Seminary teacher who said that the Jesus he knows would not shun, stone, or hate homosexuals.  The Jesus he knows would wrap his arm around them and love them as they are.  I strive to be like that Jesus.

So that’s my take on the Chick Fil A controversy, not that it matters.  I just had to get it out, because like usual, I have an opinion on it.

Book Review – The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner

A Young Adult science-fiction suspense thriller isn’t usually something I would read, but after the first book in the series, The Maze Runner, was selected for my book club, I was hooked.  I started the second book in the series, The Scorch Trials, the same day I finished the first book.  I couldn’t leave it at the first book.  I had to keep reading to find out what continued to happen.  I actually read book two and the third book, The Death Cure, in about three days.  They are not short books so to say I read three books in less than a week means this trilogy if thoroughly engrossing.

Dashner’s books are short on character development, but long on action and adventure.  This is why they were such quick reads for me.  The main character, Thomas, is not really fleshed out throughout all three books other than he is always the hero.  And I didn’t mind because I really did end up caring about Thomas and his friends, which is hard to do when there is more action than dialogue.   What I loved about this series is that I was left guessing the entire time.  And every time I thought I had something figured out, the books went in an entirely new direction.  Even after I finished the last book I sat there and contemplated everything just to make sure I had everything figured out.  Mind blown.  I don’t know how an author can construct a world so believable and real that is so unreal and so unbelievable at the same time.  I don’t even know if that make sense.

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Maze Runner is a thrill ride of a book that keeps the reader guessing at every turn.  From the first chapter you are thoroughly engaged wanting to know more.  The book begins with Thomas waking up in a metal container having been stripped of his memory.  He knows his name and knows that the metal box he is in is moving.  Suddenly the box stops and opens and Thomas is surrounded by 50 teenage boys.  The boys reside in what they call “The Glade” and Thomas is their newest member.  None of the boys have a memory of their lives before coming to the Glade.   The boys who have been there the longest believe they have been there for about two years.  They call themselves “The Gladers” and each boy has a different job.  In the Glade is a working farm where the Gladers raise their own animals and crops for food.  They’ve established their own hierarchy known as The Keepers.  Soon Thomas learns about the Maze, which every day a group of Gladers, known as Runners, explores trying to find a way out.  Terrifying creatures live in the Maze making escape an almost insurmountable task for the Gladers.  Thomas has a strong feeling he was sent by “The Creators” of the Glade and the Maze to be a runner and to help the boys find a way out of the Glade and back to their old lives.

What I loved about this book, and what also frustrated me, was how much information was kept from Thomas because that information was also kept from the reader.  As a reader you really experience the journey through Thomas’s eyes and experience and learn things at the same time he does.  I felt like the beginning was a little slow as it had to establish where Thomas was and how things in the Glade worked, but once the action started it never ended.  And just when you think things are finally going to be alright for Thomas the other Gladers, Dashner throws you a curve ball at the very end.  It was that curve ball that made me want to finish the series.

The only thing I grew tired of was the overuse of the Gladers slang.  They call each other “shanks.”  Their swear word of choice is “shuck.”  I felt like the slang was overdone in the first novel, and while it was present in the following novels, it wasn’t pervasive.  Also the violence and the death of children bothered me, but it also made real the dangers the Gladers faced and why they wanted to escape so badly.

Overall, The Maze Runner was an adventure I enjoyed and would definitely recommend.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***  It’s hard to review the next two books without spoiling the first one.  Proceed at your own risk.

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2)The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Scorch Trials picks up exactly where The Maze Runner leaves off.  Thomas and friends believe they had been rescued from WICKED and are now safe only to wake up the next day locked in a dormitory with their rescuers dead.  Worse yet, Teresa is gone and everyone has a strange tattoo on them claiming to be the property of WICKED with a weird role assigned to each.  While being rescued the Gladers learn that before their memories were wiped clean, the Earth was hit by sun flares decimating the population and sending the Earth’s climate into upheaval.  With that a disease was released, called The Flare, which is a terrible brain malady that makes those who catch it turn slowly crazy while their body is eaten alive.  Those who have the disease are known as “Cranks.”  In my mind Cranks are very similar to living zombies, although that word was never used.  Soon Thomas and his friends learn that The Maze was just the first phase of WICKED’s trials and they have another test to put the Gladers through.  WICKED’s representative tells Thomas and friends they all have the Flare and WICKED has the cure.  If they want to be cured they are to run 100 miles North through The Scorch (the place hardest hit by the sun flares)and survive.  In the Scorch the Gladers encounter more death, scary crazy Cranks, scorching temperatures (hence the names), and for Thomas, the betrayal of his best friend.

First what I didn’t like about this book.  More than twenty chapters end/begin with Thomas passing out or falling asleep.  It felt like Dashner couldn’t move the plot along without his main character being unconscious.  Also, the betrayal was never explained as to why WICKED would have Thomas’s best friend conspire against him.  What was the whole point of the gas chamber?  I’m still left wondering even after completing the series.

What I liked about the book was it was fast paced and the action never stopped.  There were so many twists and turns, even at the end, I could never guess what would happen next.  I liked how with The Maze Runner I thought I was reading a book about a bunch of scientists doing experiments on teenage boys.  With The Scorch Trials I realized I was reading a post-apocalyptic “zombie” novel.  

I read this book the fastest out of all the series and thought it did well in establishing itself not only as a sequel but a stand alone from the first book.  Dashner does not rehash The Maze Runner and instead puts his characters in entirely new situations continuing the saga and action on a whole other front.

The Death Cure (Maze Runner, #3)The Death Cure by James Dashner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Death Cure begins much the same way The Scorch Trials does…Thomas and friends believe that all is well only to learn WICKED has more planned for them.  Thomas wakes up after completing his 100 mile run through the Scorch at WICKED’s headquarters separated from the rest of his friends and in solitary confinement in an all white room.  Soon Thomas and the Gladers learn that WICKED has lied to them — they don’t have the cure to the Flare.  They also learn that some of them are immune and some are not and WICKED wants the Gladers and the girls from Group B to help them discover the cure.  WICKED wants to accomplish this by restoring their “subjects” memories.  Thomas and a few friends refuse not wanting WICKED to have more access and control over their brains.  They escape WICKED headquarters and head to Denver to look for a former WICKED employee who can help Thomas and his friends remove the device in their brains that allows WICKED to manipulate and control them.  There they meet up with a WICKED resistance movement known as The Right Arm.  Thomas and friends decide to join forces with them to take down the cooperation they believe has taken their lives from them.

Part of me wished that Thomas had regained his memories so that I would have all of my questions answered right away.  However, I understood why Thomas rebelled and refused to be a pawn of WICKED.  He does this wanting to atone for his sins after learning he helped WICKED design and orchestrate the Maze trials.  I liked the resolution at the end of the book, which I felt made more sense in WICKED trying to preserve the human race.  The hard part in reading this was how in trying to stop WICKED Thomas has to kill to save his life, and the lives of his friends, something that goes against everything Thomas believes in.  The most excruciating scene in the book for me was when Thomas killed one of his friends in mercy.  Coming to know Thomas in three books, a reader knows that Thomas will never be the same after that.

I felt this book was a nice conclusion to The Maze Runner series.  It left me wanting more while providing resolution.  The good news is Dashner has written a prequel that I am considering reading when it comes out next month.  I would recommend this series to anyone who likes science fiction, action/adventure, and Young Adult Literature.

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Let it die and leave me alone

I wrote what I wrote on the fMh blog on July 17th to prove that I was still being blog-stalked, which was proven right.  I haven’t written a comment on there in months to try to get the stalking to stop and it hasn’t.  Anyone who would say about my family and my innocent children that if we all died tomorrow they would laugh is toxic and not someone who will ever be in my life.  Period.

Sexual Assault in broad daylight

I recently read this article in the Washington Post by Liz Gorman and how she was sexually assaulted in the middle of the day on a street in a “safe” neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

It got me thinking and I can bet that every one of my female friends can relate to me an incident where they were harassed on the street, or worse sexually assaulted.  When it is estimated that one in four women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime, it’s a safe bet that lesser incidents of harassment of a sexual tone has happened to every single woman I know.  Gorman has received a huge out-pouring of emails and comments from other women telling her of their own assaults.  Clearly, this is a not spoken about enough epidemic.

The first time I can remember being “catcalled” on the street happened when I was about 13.  The junior high bus dropped me off and I proceeded to walk home.  I took a different bus than I was supposed to (in order to be with my friend) and therefore had to walk several more blocks by myself.  The high school bus drove past me and about three boys leaned out the window and yelled “nice ass” at me.  Now, I don’t know if they actually were giving me a complement or engaging in the male activity of trying to belong and prove their collective manhoods by degrading a girl.  But it was a significant enough event in my introduction of “this is what it means to be a woman” that I remember it clearly 20 years later.

A woman who doesn’t have a car who walks or uses public transportation is probably really used to catcalls and degrading comments.  I highly doubt that when a woman walks out the door for frozen yogurt she expects some predator on a bike to come up behind her and think he has the right to stick his hands in her private places, like what happened to Gorman.  But every woman I know of purposely chooses what she wears, how she walks, what times of day she is outside, whether to walk to her car alone, and other behaviors based on trying not be sexual assaulted.  Ah rape culture…how I hate you —  you teach the victims to be in charge of preventing their own victimhood instead of teaching perpetrators not to assault other human beings.

When my two oldest were very young I decided to take them in their strollers on a walk to the grocery store to buy diapers instead of wasting gas driving two blocks away.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and I thought they would love to get out of the house.  I was a block away from my destination, and crossing the street, when a car full of young guys turned right passing me.  They did it slowly so they could assault me with sexual language letting me know how attractive they found me and what they’d like to do to me.  I was shocked because I erroneously thought that being a Mom somehow rendered me exempt from this kind of street harassment.  I got very upset and yelled at them, “I’m with my children asshats!” and one of them said, “that doesn’t matter.”

The “that doesn’t matter” has always bothered me since.  It doesn’t matter what I do, as a female my body is considered public property that creeps feel they have the right to comment on.  It doesn’t matter what I wear because I’m still at risk of being sexually assaulted just for being a woman.  It doesn’t matter that I’m a mother and I have young children with me, I don’t have the right not to expect to be verbally assaulted and humiliated in front of my children.    It’s also been insinuated to me that how I dress could not only get me raped, but someone else.

Sigh.

I mean, does it really need to be said that it doesn’t matter what any woman wears she doesn’t deserve to be treated like a piece of meat?  Does it really need to be said that a woman has the right to dress to her own comfort and satisfaction without having to worry about the reaction of the thousands of men she might encountered in a day?  Does it really need to be said that a woman should be able to walk down the street in broad daylight and not become a victim of sexual assault?

Judging from a few incredibly sexist and victim blaming Facebook memes going around lately it’s unbelievably obvious that those above statements DO need to be said.

And that to me, in 2012, is incredibly sad.

Book Review – Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg

Her Last DeathHer Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I usually enjoy reading memoirs but I found this one to be so tedious.  I’m actually amazed I finished the book.  Sonnenberg’s memoir is about growing up with her drug-addicted and promiscuous mother, Daphne. Daphne grew up a privileged, well-connected (and there is A LOT of name dropping in the book) spoiled young girl who never quite seems to grow up.  Sonnenberg can never trust her mother because she’s caught her in so many lies, from pretending to sleep with one of Sonnenberg’s boyfriends to having cancer or being raped.  Daphne gives Sonnenberg her first hit of cocaine and was physically abusive on occasion when she was high.  I grew so tired of hearing of Daphne’s antics and explicit and frank talk with her very young daughters about sex, it was no wonder to me why Sonnenberg had eventually tried to break all ties with her mother.

After reading about Daphne’s lying, drug-use, promiscuity, spending money without consequences, manipulations, and non-stop talking I began to wonder if she had ever been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  Later in the book Daphne says that she is now on Depakote, a Bipolar drug, and Sonnenberg mentions that her mother is finally stable.  Until she stops taking them.  Being raised by an unmedicated person with BPD would be exhausting, frustrating, and emotionally damaging for any child.

Half way through the book, the narrative stops focusing on Daphne’s behavior and Sonnenberg switches gears to her own promiscuity.  She even has a chapter entitled “Sex with Everybody.”  It leads the reader to believe that Sonnenberg has become just like her mother.  She admits she lies constantly and doesn’t know how to have a real, long-lasting, emotionally intimate relationship.  She uses sex as a way to feel alive, real, and powerful.  Eventually Sonnenberg meets a stable person, who for some reason is attracted to someone who perpetually lies and even cheats on him with a one-night stand with a woman.  They move to Montana, get married, and have two children.  Despite her childhood, Sonnenberg is determined to be a better mother than her own.

I was waiting the entire book for the big insights from Sonnenberg that never came.  All I came away with was a story of a crazy mother and how her daughter emotionally removed her from her life.  No lessons learned, no how she is moving forward.  The entire story felt very empty to me.

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Book Review – Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

Broken for YouBroken for You by Stephanie Kallos
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos.  It is about Margaret Hughes, a woman in her 70s who has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Since her son’s death and divorce from her husband, she has lived a sequestered life in her mansion in Seattle, looking after her “things.”  Those things turn out to be antiques that her father use to sell in his antique shop.  After Margaret learns the origin of these antiques, she closes the shop, moves all of those things to her mansion and locks herself away as punishment for the sins of the father.  After her diagnosis, Margaret decides to do something she’s never done before – take in a border.  This is how Wanda Shultz, a professional theater stage manager, comes to live with her.  Over the course of a few years, we see how Margaret’s, Wanda’s, and one special woman’s life intersect over the secret of Margaret’s antiques.

I really enjoyed this book.  It did take me a while to get into it, because it’s a very different kind of book, but after a few chapters I found myself invested in Margaret and Wanda’s stories.  I really enjoyed the imagery Kallos paints in this book.  I felt the over-arching theme of this book was about finding family, even when that family is not blood related.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good fiction story, but for those who do not like an f-bomb dropped every once in a while, I would not read this book.

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