Monday, May 25, 2015

Rejoicing in the downfall of the Duggars...

Hey, Ralphie, wanna watch tv?
This is tv, Sox.
Photo by Katie Baxter-Kauf via flickr

I wrote a post some time ago, on another blog, about the Duggars and how I liked them. What sparked that post was the hatred I saw toward them from liberals and atheists. This hatred wasn't new. It seems that a lot of liberal-minded people disliked the Duggars from the beginning simply because they were very religious, had a lot of children, and were on television. But I liked them.

It was much the same with Duck Dynasty. Certain people got riled up about it and had to let everyone know how much they hated that show even though most admitted they never watched it. They said they couldn't understand the appeal of it.

Well, I've watched both shows and I'll tell you what they're about: families. The shows aren't about religion. They're about wholesome, well-adjusted, kind, decent families living their lives. Duck Dynasty was more set up than the Duggars. But certainly many parts of the Duggars' lives were set up for the show.

The Duggars were not on television because of their religion or their extreme, conservative political views. They were on television because they had a lot of children. They were put on television because TLC knew we'd all like to gawk at them.

I found them to be very nice people. Wholesome, soft-spoken, well-adjusted, kind, etc. Of course we only got to see what TLC wanted us to see. I'm not stupid. That was all I had to go by. But I still believe that, for the most part, the Duggars are who they appeared to be. I've yet to see any footage, Tweets, or posts in which Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, nor any of their children, act any differently than they did on the show.

Before they started speaking and acting publicly about their conservative politics, I'd heard them called "freaks of nature" and I'd heard Michelle Duggar called a "clown car." After they started going public with their views, the vitriol increased.

My view was always that it is every woman's decision how many children she has. It's not my business. It's not yours either. The hypocrisy was staggering in women who called themselves pro-choice snidely suggesting Michelle Duggar be sterilized or celebrating the woman's loss of a baby as proof that she was too old to have children and ought to be stopped.

Aside from both genders foaming at the mouth over how many kids the Duggars had, once their views went public, they were attacked for being vocal. This is also the rankest hypocrisy. We all have the right to voice our views and to support those politicians and bills we believe in. To say that the Duggars should shut up, or to attack them personally over their views is base.

Fight against their views all you want, but when you start to get personal, you've shown yourself to be vile and irrational. I think people ought to examine what gets their hearts racing, what spurs them to call someone disgusting names. They might learn something about themselves.

Why do you hate them so much?

Why do you see them as awful and I see them as a loving family?

In my original blog post, I wrote about my pervert sense. I wrote about a test that went around online a long, long time ago in which we were asked to guess, by picture, who was a serial killer and who was a normal person. I got all the serial killers right. But I labeled way too many normal guys as guilty. I'm not a naturally trusting person. I tend to think most people are nefarious.

But when I look at the Duggars, I just see nerds. I'm not saying I'm right (and clearly, in one instance I'm not), I'm just saying that, if someone like me, who normally sees creepiness where it isn't, just saw this family as nerdy...why do all of these liberals and atheists in my social media circle see them as creepy?

Religion? Is it just that? Is it that these people can't let themselves see anyone who is radically religious, radically conservative, as nice?

That's almost certainly it.

Well, that's their problem I guess.

Here is what I know to be true:

1. Michelle Duggar is not a hypocrite. Stupidly believing (and saying) that transgender people molest children does not preclude her from handling her son's behavior in the way she did. Hypocrisy is when you say one thing and do the opposite. Her behaviors are not opposite.

2. The Duggars as a family are not hypocrites, exactly.
The Duggars never said they were perfect people. The Duggars didn't push their religious or political views through their show. The show is about a couple with a lot of children, not about a couple who have perfect children. That being said, it had to be understood by them that their portrayal on the show was one of a happy, well adjusted family with no serious problems. And they knew that, while they may have dealt with the problems their children have, the show was presenting a false view.

This is hard to fault them for, however. Many families struggle through terrible, heart-breaking issues: drugs, criminal behavior, depression, failed relationships, etc. And yet, they keep on supporting one another and working through those problems and no doubt, that is how the Duggar parents viewed their roles in this. They believed they handled the situation and worked through it.

3. People who are celebrating this turn of events regarding Josh Duggar are vile.

4. Josh Duggar didn't do whatever he did because of his religion. And he didn't do it because of any kind of repression of sexuality in the Duggar family due to their religion or conservative "values."

Many, many men and women struggle with this tendency and they come from all types of homes, all types of backgrounds from poor to rich, extremely religious to religion free, loving homes and abusive ones.

5. While the Duggar's religion is bizarre and repressive, it is their right to believe in it and to raise their children in it. It's not your job or mine to decide how other people's children are raised, so long as there is no criminal abuse. And I'm sorry to disappoint you, but teaching young men and women that being molested or raped can result in strengthening them and their relationship with their god is not criminal. It's sad, and it has quite a bit of "blaming the victim" going on with it. But it's not criminal.

We live in a society that blames women for being assaulted and raped and here we are ranting because this particular religious teaching does the same thing. What are you so surprised about?

6. Society is made up of unruly mobs that form and disperse and reform. Doesn't matter if people are liberal or conservative, religious or not, some of them (most?) love nothing more than attacking those who are different from them, who don't live in the "approved" manner, who are on television, who are wealthy or beautiful or talented. And they rejoice in the downfall of those they perceive to be idols. Holy hell, do they rejoice.

As a mother, my reaction to this latest news about the Duggars is far from a triumphant "I told you so!" My reaction is sadness and concern. Yes, concern for the victims--the girls who were molested. But also concern for the Duggars. All of them. I hope they are all doing well and getting through this very tough time.

As someone who fully supports freedom--freedom of speech, freedom of religion--I stand by the Duggars' rights to speak up and lobby for their worldview. I believe they are very wrong about a lot of things. But one thing they are not is vile.

If there is one thing I've learned from this and other crazy viral news stories, it's that liberals and atheists who claim to be tolerant and supportive of individual rights and freedoms can be just as vicious, repressive, and hypocritical as the conservatives they abhor.

I'm finding that tolerant people, reasonable people, loving and kind people can be found all along the political and religious spectrum. And I'm so glad for that wonderful diversity among my acquaintances. Not only does it make my world richer, it makes my view broader, my understanding much larger.


7. I don't ever want to be on television.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Year of the Office: Inspiration

This inspires me...I don't know why
photo/poster by Brett Jordan/Feelines via flickr

There is a lot to be said for inspiration. I'm talking about that feeling in your chest, the swell of possibility and anticipation. You've got this great idea! It's got everything! You're going to be Big Time soon! This is your ship and it's coming into port!

Then you sit down to work out the particulars and you find that somewhere in the distance between your imagination and the screen, something went awry.


Where was that wonderful, fabulous, exceptional, brilliant thing you had in mind? What's all this mess you've spewed out?

I was going to say that it's probably at that point that most people resign themselves to their non-brilliance and realize the ship was someone else's or a mirage--born out of ego. But, the truth is, most people probably never get the brilliant idea out of their heads and onto the screen in the first place. So, look at it like this: the fact that you've written (or planned or composed or drawn or painted or recorded or whatever) a bunch of worthless crap means you're already ahead of the game.

There's your inspiration right there. You're on your way. Now take that giant turd of yours and work it.

I'm working on a romantic comedy right now, and I have to say, it comes and goes. I think my books are like children*. You know how it is, right? You love your children. But sometimes, you look at them and think, geez, what's that? Did I spawn that?

When that happens, good parents don't toss their children out of the house. No. Don't be silly. They just wait a few days and suddenly, the kid does the most amazing thing and then we laugh and realize how fabulously brilliant we are and look what we have created!

Perseverance. It works in writing as in parenting.

What I'm saying is that, with any endeavor, you have to just keep at it and that inspiration will return. Then you work like mad, run with it, until it lags. And when it lags, you trudge through it, knowing, remembering, anticipating that moment when everything will be great again. (It's probably like a gambling addiction and those of us who succeed are the true addicts.)

So, with that in mind, and knowing that pictures make for good blogs, I will share some pictures of Historic Downtown Melbourne, my inspiration for the as-yet-unreleased-title-because-I'm-paranoid series, book one of which ought to be out by the end of the year.

If downtown Melbourne isn't the cutest place in Brevard, I don't know what is.

Old buildings, kitchy shops

They put out cute wrought iron tables and chairs when they're open

Always hoppin'

The view into town from the railroad tracks

It's always busy. And there are two chocolate shops. What more do you want?

*Not my children, of course. I love my children ALL the time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A weekend at OASIS: Nerds convene!

That's my "If you must take a picture, at least let me make a weird face," face

I had a great weekend at the OASIS convention in Orlando. If you recall my previous post on book signings, What am I doing here?, you'll know that I approach these events with a bit of trepidation...fear?...already wanting to go back home before I arrive. But I really enjoyed this event.

The vendor room was lively and populated with interesting people and their wares. As author Glenda Finkelstein told me, for her, OASIS is like a reunion. And it seemed that way. Most everyone knew each other. Hubs and I probably stood out a bit--sticks in the mud--content to watch most of the time, rather than engage. But you do what you're comfortable with, for the most part.

The convention seemed geared toward sci/fi fans as well as writers. I sat in on a couple of workshops. I tried to attend Julie Czerneda's workshop on world building, but bless her heart, the first thing she did was ask us to find a partner and inform us she would be lecturing for only about six minutes in the entire two hours. I stood, turned, and fled. I can laugh about it now.

At the Myriad Fae Creations table, there was a woman named Kelly selling soaps in all sorts of sci/fi and gaming related shapes. You could fill a soap dish with little Darth Vaders and Han Solos in carbonite. I bought a Saving Throw Soap, about the size of a small orange. I'm not even a gamer! Kelly's a soap genius.

William "Bill" Hatfield was next to us, giving away homemade pineapple, white chocolate, walnut cookies and key lime tarts. Nom nom. He was also selling his books, and his wife's custom jewelry.

I also met Rochelle Maurer of Femme Fallout. She makes very cool vintage jewelry, as well as custom clothing, art, and accessories.

I learned about The Peninsula of Horror. It's a "channel dedicated to Florida Horror Hosts and Florida Horror Hosting." I'm like...what? I am such a noob. Check it out. You'll understand. Anyway, at their table was this guy dressed like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He was in persona as Professor Gillman. He hosts the channel with Oliver, Doctor Xombie, and Master Vyle. Vyle gave me a copy of one of his books: Frog Nog and Other Horror Day Tales.

I bought a shiny at the Welton Rocks, Gems & Jewelry table. Donald does the rocks and Roni makes the jewelry. It's beautiful! She'll be at Space Coast Nerd Fest in Melbourne, May 23 & 24.

Ben Bova was there, signing books, along with the aforementioned Julie Czernada and Jack McDevitt. They had a gaming room in which people were...playing games, and a video room where they played movies all day.

And next door, on Saturday, was the Imperial Beauties of America pageant (It's a "scholarship" pageant...uh huh).

Book-selling-wise, it was a success. I'd totally do it again...just for the free key lime tart.

For some reason, though, nobody went for the $850 Yoda.