May 22, 2013

Tiger and Sergio Sitt’n in a Tree… (or Grown Children Acting like Little Adults)

Filed under: Uncategorized — sbj @ 9:12 pm

I’ll preface this by saying that I buy the sincerity and believe genuine Sergio Garcia’s apology. I completely believe that his comment was not meant with malice of forethought and that his regret was both (at least nearly) instant and overwhelming. If I’m wrong about that, you might want to print this and use it to kick start your fire-pit because what follows has little value if that is not true…

For you non-golfers (or golf news followers) out there, here is the mini version of the events in question:

  • Tiger Woods grabs a club a little early (while Sergio Garcia is still swinging). Sergio, distracted by the crowd responding hits a bad shot and glares at Tiger
  • Sergio, interviewed after the round alludes to the fact that Tiger may have done it on purpose and comments on how tiger is not “the nicest guy in the world”
  • tiger counters with something like “it’s no surprise he is whining about something” (Sergio has a reputation for looking outside himself for explanations for his less than stellar moments)
  • For the remainder of the last two weeks the media has consistently kept the story alive seeking (and getting) comments from either golfer whenever possible
  • This reaches its zenith when Sergio, sarcastically asked if he would entertain Tiger for dinner during the next tournament they played together in, responded (in jest) affirmatively… including disclosing the menu for the soiree… “fried chicken” (oops)

Now, if you’ve ever read any consecutive string of my posts containing more than three or four posts, you know my position on reaffirming stereotypes (you know this because I won’t shut up about it). If you have never read anything else I have written, in short, I think it is one of the leading causes of racial, gender, and most (if not all) other types of bias, inequality and bigotry. Therefore, the following will probably come as a bit of a surprise to many of you.

While I certainly do not condone Sergios comment or any other similar comment by anyone, I also do not condemn him to the ranks of racist, villain, or bigot as so much of the media and general public has done.

Why, you might ask, the sudden “tolerance” for this sort of outburst? I’ll tell you…

Because, while for the past two weeks Tiger and Sergio (at the encouragement and to the delight of the media) have acted like petulant children having a spat, for the last 24 hours or so, after Sergio’s Kentucky-Fried F*%# up, both of our protagonists (I’d call them antagonists, but I think that’s the media in this story) have risen above the muck and mire and conducted themselves like self-respecting adults.


Starting with Sergio, he issued a (relatively) instant apology. He didn’t follow the standard “I’m sorry to anyone I might have offended with my remark that didn’t mean what you thought it meant” script (well, he did that… but he did more… I’ll continue), but instead stepped up to the plate in a very personal way to take accountability for his transgression. He called himself and his actions “stupid,” he said he felt “sick about it,” he tried to call Tiger (through is agent) despite both him and Tiger saying over the past two weeks that no reconciliation was going to happen. Sergio has spent the past two weeks trying to paint himself as a victim (many would say he has spent his entire career doing this). This week, when excuses and deflections would have best served him, he eschewed them and stood tall in the face of his egregious error. This is admirable, and is the most valuable lesson I can see coming out of this whole fiasco.

Tiger, for his part, (correctly) refused to diminish the effects or importance of this type of racial stereotyping:

While acknowledging Sergio’s earnest effort to demonstrate his regret (read: his apology):

And finally, directing the attention of everyone where it really should have been for the past few weeks (which, if it had been, would have prevented this unfortunate incident from every happening):

That last point really resonates with me. If the media had just let this story die, and not poked and prodded each golfer at every chance for another pissy soundbite, Sergio would never have been in position to make his blundering buffoonish remark.

Again, I’m not excusing the remark, however I do refuse to ignore the circumstances leading up to it. If you let (condone/encourage) people to act like children for weeks on end, someone is going to say something colossally stupid. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say this is nearly universally true. I can’t even have an extended argument with a loved one without saying something I regret, and yet we are somehow shocked when two rivals with no love lost between them wind up resorting to sordid personal attacks? Sorry friends, but Sergio is not the only “stupid” one in this story (although, he is the only one who has admitted as much about himself).

Which brings me back to my big takeaway from this. My hope is that people will look at Sergio’s response and see how a person can (and arguably should) respond to a huge mistake and bout of monumental irresponsibility. Further, that they will look at Tigers retort and see the importance of acknowledging the real issues these situations represent while also recognizing regret and a sincere effort at apology, and finally moving on from there without taking the baggage of the situation along with you.

The media doesn’t appear to have changed it’s tack and I’ve seen no sign – based on reading comments from a few online articles (never a pleasant task) – that the general public has had it’s appetite for conflict curbed. However, from Sergio and Tiger, I have seen actual responsible adult behavior. I find some level of comfort in that, and a real life example I can use the next time I’m giving my “it’s not the messes you get yourself into; it’s how you handle them that defines you” speech to my children (or myself).

May 8, 2013

What’s wrong with porn (three numbers to keep you up at night)…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , , , , , — sbj @ 12:36 am

When I was younger, I gave subscriptions to Playboy to some friends and even (gasp) family. So, right out of the gate, I want to be sure everyone knows I am not preaching from a pristine pulpit. However, not having a perfect past should not preclude someone from advocating for what is right going forward. I’ve made lots of mistakes in my life, I like to think I learn from them. In fact, I’d like to think we all do…

There will be more than three numbers in this post, but, the three I refer to in the title will be in bold and the others Will simply be supporting figures. This post is not meant to be entertaining, it will be completely bereft of my normal attempts at humor. It will be factual and to the point… what you do with it from there is up to you.

Without further ado, the numbers:

74% of … sex buyers reported that they learned about sex from pornography. Meaning that pornography can be safely viewed as a “gateway drug” to purchasing sex. Okay, so why do we care so much about what some would call a victim-less crime? First of all we probably need some idea of what we might include as a victim. For example, we have statutory rape laws in this nation to protect children from being taken advantage upon by sexual predators. So lets call anyone selling sex under the age of 16 (18 in most places but I’m feeling generous right now) a victim. A survey of 169 women working in prostitution showed that the average age they were first sold for sex was 14 (other data show a starting age of 12-13), I’m going to go out on a limb and call them victims. The following results also came from those same women: “75% reported being abused as children, 58% have been assaulted and an overwhelming 92% of women said they would quit if they could afford to.” Prostitution is not (for the most part) a victim-less crime and the (vast) majority of sex buyers get started with porn.

Sex buyers were more than 7 (seven) times more likely than non-sex buyers to acknowledge that they would rape a woman if they could get away with it and if no one knew about it.. Multiple studies have produced results like this: Of working adult women in the sex trade, 82% have been physically assaulted; 83% have been threatened with a weapon; 68% have been raped while working and 68% of women interviewed in 9 countries met the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (the 68% PTSD rate is the same as combat veterans and torture victims); or this: nearly a third of the sex buyers told surveyors that the acts they sought out from women in prostitution gradually changed and increased in violence, including more sadomasochistic sex acts (mind you, much like the 7X more likely to rape if they could get away with it, these were the buyers being surveyed, not the prostitutes… it is not much of a stretch to imagine that the percentage would be much higher from the sex workers point of view).

The average life span of a woman being sold in the sex trade is 7 years. Seven years and you are dead. Police have an average mortality rate (number of deaths per 100,000 people) of 16.8; firemen 16.6; loggers 87.4; fishermen (the worst rate I could easily find) 147.2. Prostitutes are estimated to have a ** homicide rate** (not all deaths, but homicides only) of 204. By contrast the highest mortality rate, by state, from Vietnam was 84.1 (West Virginia). Meaning you are 2.43 times more likely to be killed as a prostitute than you were in the Vietnam war (**IF** you were from the state with the highest mortality rate… compared to any other state or the national average that number grows even higher).

To me, those are some pretty staggering numbers. I’m not saying that the Playboy subscription I bought my brothers when they were younger has led directly to the deaths of any sex workers; however, the link is clear and undeniable. Pornography is the market maker for sex workers, and is the “gateway drug” for sex-buyers. The sex industry kills women at a rate that is nearly 3 times that of soldiers in Vietnam and 12.75 times that of the first-responders that we all acknowledge put their lives on the line for us every day. This is the very real price women pay for our sexual pleasure and entertainment… the question you have to ask yourself is… is it worth it?

May 6, 2013

Why stupidity is worse than porn…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , , , , — sbj @ 4:53 pm

Actually, stupidity may not be worse than porn, but since I was going to write about some of the evils of porn today and that was usurped by this stupidity, I guess, at least for today, I think that is the case.

Rather than attempt to restate ABC’s news report better than them, I’m just going to include it right here… as they presented it:

First of all, kudos to Josh for being dialed in enough to recognize street-harassment when he see’s it (even from a child’s plaything) and moreover for doing something about it. I’d be happy if most people simply recognized this type of sexualization/commodification, given that so many of us spend our days in some blissful oblivion about being surrounded by it.

After the above, the article goes on to point out how he went back and forth with Lego, and they eventually apologized and have taken steps to remove the product from the market and (more importantly) ensure nothing like it will make its way to store shelves again. Should be the happy(ish) end of the story, right???


Here is a clip from the top of the comments section on that story:

Take a moment to note that these are the “Popular now” comments (highlighted in yellow at the top of the image). Not the most recent, not the most distasteful, not the most replied to… no, the most popular. I can only screen capture so many, but let me assure you it goes on (the next one down reads as follows “Wow. dude i think you might want to look around cause I am pretty sure your balls fell off somewhere”).

So, now we have compounded our sexualization of women with gross gender stereotyping; and this, right here, is why I harp on and on about stereotyping. This is the insidious nature of the beast. Would-be defenders of decency are shamed by idiotic gender bias into silence (or at least that is the attempt). “Take his man card away,” “peed sitting down,” and “shouldn’t he be doing laundry or the dishes” are all comments meant to demean Josh for his stance. Why are they “insulting” because they all mean you are more like a woman than a man, and what could be worse than that?

I have confidence in Josh… I believe his response to that question (“what could be worse than that?”) would be something like “if being a man means berating other people for having the courage to stand up for what’s right, I’m pretty sure I’d rather be more like a woman.” He might also go on to say “however, I don’t think being decent is a hallmark of either sex; rather, I think it is a defining trait of someone with character and integrity.”

The problem is, there are a lot more not-Josh’s than Josh’s out there. People – most of them – are cowed by shame, confrontation, lack of approval and any number of other disabling human interactions. Life can be challenging enough without having insults thrown your way or being treated like a social pariah (I’m looking at you “Kat” and your “American needs a sense of humor” comment). You see, while I didn’t choose to highlight them in the image above, “Kat’s” comment along with “G. Manitley’s” “thicker skin” observation they are just as damaging, perhaps even worse at times.

While many reasonable people are capable of looking at the “peed sitting down” comment and dismissing it as being rude, bigoted, or asinine far fewer are able to take a strong stance against someone saying “have a sense of humor.” No one wants to be the drag, the party pooper, or boring. As such this little “helper” comment gives legs to the more egregious ones, it chips away at the defenses of good people, and it emboldens (and as such empowers) the “Michael P’s” of the world.

A good man (Josh) did a good thing, and has since been pilloried for it. If that is not the poster child for stupidity, I don’t know what is. The result of that stupidity is a foundational furtherance of institutionalized bigotry. So, yeah, I guess I do think stupidity is worse than porn… in fact – as what I believe to be the true root of all evil – it just might be worse than pretty much everything…

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