Thursday, September 21, 2023

Talking the harm of ROLLING STONE's sexism and racism

The complete rundown includes a mystifying “you could have just stayed home” moment from Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, who had to be removed from a performance of Beetlejuice for disruptive behavior. Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher each incensed fans when they announced they would be crossing the picket line and restarting their talk shows just as the Hollywood strikes pass Day 100. (They ultimately both changed their minds after backlash.) That ’70s Show actors Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis also absolutely did not have to write character letters in support of their former co-star and convicted rapist Danny Masterson, nor post a video response to the entirely predictable backlash.

Then there’s Russell Brand, who faces multiple allegations of violent sexual assault. But it’s not Brand who is on this list: That honor goes to Anna Khachiyan, co-host of the popular (and contentiously “dirtbag left”-ish) podcast Red Scare, who responded to the allegations against Brand by tweeting, “Lol lmao I stand with Brand obviously,” prompting handwringing among her fanbase about the dirtbag left’s apparent hypocritical love of itself and its own proximity to power. Khachiyan has since doubled down repeatedly.

What all of these incidents have in common is a kind of tone-deaf self-assuredness that comes when a person’s level of societal insulation from criticism is so cushiony, so velvety and soft, that it becomes part of their worldview. These are the mishaps that result when so many people have affirmed a person over the years that they start to believe that if they want to do a thing, that thing must be right and justified — because they’re the one doing it, and they’re a good, correct person.

To see the full extent of this limited worldview on display, let us look at the coup de grace of les erreurs du mois — the remarkable, jaw-droppingly obtuse decision of Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner to include zero Black artists or women in his forthcoming book, meant to represent the depth and breadth of Wenner’s career and his place in the legacy of rock and roll. The book, titled The Masters, releases September 26, and features seven interviews with rock legends like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. What speaks louder than the interviews themselves are the breathtaking gaps in Wenner’s concept of “mastery” and who is capable of attaining it.

New York Times columnist David Marchese grilled Wenner this past weekend about his choice to spend a career that spanned five decades refusing to interview women and Black artists. (“I read [other] interviews with them,” Wenner told Marchese.) His myopic vision cuts a giant swath through the legacy of 20th- and 21st-century rock, omitting everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Cyndi Lauper. As Marchese notes, Wenner self-effacingly writes that Black and female creators simply weren’t part of his “zeitgeist,” as if that justifies his unwillingness to include them.

Elaine wrote about the issue this week "The embarrassing Jann Wenner and Lauren Boebert."  So read that.  I called C.I. just for some guidance on writing and she asked, "Do you need to talk to me for the post?" Yeah, if she didn't mind so here's our exchange.

Stan: So we're talking about ROLLING STONE.

C.I.: We are.  About ROLLING STONE.  I don't want to dogpile on Jann so I'm not going to be addressing him.  He's responsible for ROLLING STONE during it's glory days and the content I have no problem calling out but we agreed I am not speaking of Jann personally.  I've known him for years and he did me a solid that few did -- he's done me many -- but in one specific case, Lt Ehren Watada, I begged everyone I knew in media to cover him.  He refused to go to Iraq.  He said as a Lt, he would be failing those under him because this was not a just war.  I'm simplifying but Ehren needed support and instead we got Mommy's Pantyhose on MSNBC condemning Ehren.

Stan: For clarity, Mommy's Pantyhose is what you dubbed Paul Rieckhoff.  Because, among other things, his attempts to rip off my race by wearing that ridiculous doo rag.  

C.I.: Right.  Erhen was being court martialed and needed attention.  I begged a lot of people I know.  I only had to beg Jann once.  So I'd rather not talk about Jann for this post.  Anything I say about ROLLING STONE is professionally about Jann when he ran the magazine.

Stan: Gotcha. Over the phone, I read the entire article from VOX to you.  I know you disagreed.

C.I.: I do.  The cover of the magazine is the least of it. It was the reviews and it was so much more.  I think we need to point out that a woman reviewed a Heart album and her original draft praised the album but she was told to go back and trash the album.  I believe she's spoken of that publicly but I know it from her own mouth.  Stuff like that happened all the time.  And it was always when it came to females.

Stan: Not to men?

C.I.: I've always advocated for more coverage for various artists, phone calls and face to face.  In 1985, I advocated for more coverage of younger artists -- in the 80s when it seemed to think only baby boomers created music.  I gave a list of artists and the magazine --

Stan: Jann?

C.I.: I'm saying the magazine under the ground rules we established earlier, so the list of artists were all known, 10,000 Maniacs, REM, etc.  I kept going on and finally came to Corey Hart -- a Canadian singer-songwriter.  He'd had hit singles from his first album but his second album had gone deeper and young people were responding to it.  Months after the conversation, FIELDS OF FIRE then comes out and it gets a positive review from ROLLING STONE which had previously dismissed and ignored Corey.  This would happen over multiple conversations provided it was a male artist.  It did not happen with female artists.  Lauryn Hill, for example --

Stan: I was hoping you'd bring that up.

C.I.: I loved that album and advocated for it in print --

Stan: Jess tells that story.  I'm cutting you off for a moment.  He's helping you clean one of your closets and he comes across a magazine with you on the cover and he makes a joke about vanity and you say, "Read the interview."  And you're bragging about Lauryn like crazy, the album has just come out, THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL and you say it's the best of the year and will be an all time classic.  

C.I.: Yes.  And with ROLLING STONE over the phone, I made those comments as well when it was getting to be  time for the year-end awards.  Despite this, RS gave the rap album award to the Beastie Boys.  Their day really passed for me after they lost the sense of humor, however, I know some consider PAUL'S BOUTIQUE to be a classic. This album, however, was HELLO NASTY which was a forgettable album.  And they gave it to that and not Lauryn.  So I kept that magazine because I was right and history was going to prove me right.  ROLLING STONE two or so years ago did their latest best albums of all time list, 2020, so three years ago.  Guess what was in the top ten?  Lauryn's THE MISEDUCATION.  Where was HELLO NASTY?  No where on the list.  It's not a lasting album.  The difference?  ROLLING STONE has a different owner and different editorial guidance.  

Stan: Jann's been gone since about 2017.

C.I.: It's not just who made the cover, though that is important as well.  It's the anti- at the heart of it all.  It's why so few women are in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  All the Beatles are in The Hall as a group.  They are also all in the hall as individuals.  But Diana Ross is only in the Hall as part of a group.  She's one of the few artists of the rock era to have a solo career.  Martha Reeves didn't to name one and I have no problem naming Martha for an example since she's trashed Diana for years -- something that J Randy Taraborrelli admitted years after CALL HER MISS ROSS first came out.  Had people known that the allegations were coming from bitter Martha, they could have factored that in.  Martha has hated Diana since 1963.  But Diana's not in The Hall and they need to explain why that is.  THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS declared her the most successful female artist of the 20th century with over 70 hits.  She needs to be in The Hall.  So does Cher.  Grasp that.  Cher is not in The Hall.  Her career is as long as The Rolling Stones and she's not in The Hall.  She was folk-rock with Sonny -- "I've Got You Babe," "The Beat Goes On."  She was rock with Dylan's "All I Really Want To Do."  She's had hits in every decade.  You can never count her out unless you're counting her out of The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.  Cher belongs in The Hall.   Tori Amos is not in The Hall. She was eligible in 2017.  It is now 2023.  She is not in The Hall.  Why?  And don't give me the nonsense of "We had to induct Kate Bush."  The only reason that had to be done recently was to correct the fact that for over two decades she's been denied.  Fixing these oversights should not prevent females who are eligible from being inducted. Diana's a friend and I hope she's inducted and I hope she lives for 20 more years or longer. But Diana is five years younger than Tina -- who passed away this year -- and Diana needs to get her flowers now.  That's why I do things like the piece with Ava where we celebrated Diana for being the first African-American actress to make it into the top 20 moneymakers of a year -- she did it twice -- for LADY SINGS THE BLUES and MAHOGANY.  That's how they determine stars, if you bring in the money.  And that's an accomplishment that she never gets credit for or recognized for.  She needs to be in The Hall as a solo.  And her induction shouldn't be, "Okay we've got Diana so we can do one or two other women only this year."  No.  It's been imbalanced since day one. The first year of The Hall?  No female performer was inducted, it was all men.  There have now been six years when no woman was inducted -- more if you focus just on female performers -- and that most recently took place in 2016.  There has never been a year where only women were inducted.  But, let me repeat, six years where no woman was inducted.  It's not fair that Tori or Liz Phair of Mary J. Blige have to wait ten or twenty more years because The Hall is attempting to fix their oversights made since The Hall first started.  This imbalance is the result of who sat on the board and it is the result of the sexism and racism built into ROLLING STONE.  In the now notorious interview, you learn that women and African-Americans were not considered "thinkers" by one of the deciders who shaped the music canon.  You should have known that long ago.  Look at the list of ROLLING STONE interviews.  Women never weighed heavy on the list.  And the ones they chose to note in publications -- there are at least two soft cover books of ROLLING STONE interviews issued by ROLLING STONE -- rarely include women or African-Americans.  The attitude has also been to dismiss African-Americans and women as "singles artists" and not "album artists."  That means we are not to take them artistically serious.  That's the translation on that.  And they have enforced that since the beginning.  Readers of THE COMMON ILLS are aware of this because I've spent however many years online raging about how the canon was created by sexists and racists.  Only a token could be included.  If you were an African-American woman?  That became Aretha.  And you can see that in the reviews of Diana and the press on her -- reviews and press in ROLLING STONE -- the moment they elevate Aretha.  They rip every other African-American woman down.  But you know what, we can applaud Aretha and we can also applaud Diana.  It's strange that there's no single slot in the canon for a White man but for everybody else there can only be one token.  Joni Mitchell is an original who has earned her place in the canon.  But never forget that Laura Nyro was in the canon before Joni and that the 70s were all about kicking Laura out since there can be only one in the canon.  That also harmed Joni well into the 80s because a woman can't have multiple great albums.  As late as the mid-80s, these people were downplaying BLUE to elevate COURT & SPARK.  Both are classics and so is FOR THE ROSES and others by Joni.  But they have resisted opening the canon over and over and over.  Today, Stevie Nicks is seen as an original artist. But in the pages of ROLLING STONE in the 70s, 80s and 90s, she was a "ditz," a "space cadet" and so much more.  Heart was run into the ground for years -- Ann and Nancy Wilson's band.  Nona Hendryx did not get her due.  Sly Stone, due to drug issues and the need to elevate Stevie Wonder, was knocked out of the canon.  I love Stevie's art and I love Sly's -- they are both artists and they both deserve to be in the canon.  No publication had a greater say in shaping the canon than ROLLING STONE because of its reach due to circulation and it being one of the first.  The magazine did not play fair.  The magazine did not like The Mamas & The Papas and they attacked them every chance they had.  The magazine was started in San Francisco and the music critics -- and some artists -- did not like Monterey Pop -- the concert staged and organized by Lou Adler and John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas --  felt it was commercialized LA coming in to co-opt the Bay Area and it dates back to that and to some other squabbles between two men.  This is why most people do not know that one of the first ROLLING STONE interviews was with Cass Elliot.  They've never seen fit to put that into any book of their interviews that they published.  It's why they savaged the band's music.  It was nothing but pettiness.  The 5th Dimension deserves to be in the canon but, along with others, ROLLING STONE repeatedly insulted them as "the White Mamas and the Papas."  This stuff has gone on for decades.  I'm glad it's getting some attention this week but it needs better attention.  These attitudes that need to be called out --

Stan: Which you have repeatedly called out at THE COMMON ILLS and you've sometimes attached Jann's name to.

C.I.: Yes.  Especially before Ehren Watada.  But these attitudes need to be called out, yes, but it also needs to be understood how these attitudes go to who we think are the greats from the past.  If someone's in the closet, for example, they're not going to be part of the group acclaiming Chris Williams' THE CHANGER AND THE CHANGED.  That deserves to be in the canon.  Can we do a link to Chris, by the way.  I think most of the women above and all of the men I've mentioned above are well known but if someone doesn't know Chris a link might help.

Stan: Absolutely.  

C.I.: Substandard males just had to be a friend of ROLLING STONE to earn praise.  Boz Scaggs?  I mean, come on.  He's not Prince, he's not Stevie Wonder, he's not Aretha Franklin.  But there was always a reach around for friends of the magazine.  There's a reason, please understand, that Carly Simon's scene in PERFECT works so well.  She snarls at the reporter for ROLLING STONE (played by John Travolta), "I read that s**t you wrote about me."  And there were multiple pieces that could be said about.  In fact, if it's a good Carly article, you're probably looking at a period when Harriet Fier was in charge, After that, sexism returned within three years -- hard sexism.  It's why Carly's TORCH got a five star review in the magazine but when it was included in ROLLING STONE's album guide it was downgraded to three stars.  This was not by accident.  And I'm not the only one speaking out about this.  Joni Mitchell's talked about it in the past publicly, Nancy Wilson has talked about it in the past.  And privately?  Everyone talks about it.  ROLLING STONE made a big show about MTV's racism with a cover story on the topic in 1983 but let's remember that Michael Jackson's OFF THE WALL was released in 1979.  In 2020, ROLLING STONE -- the new ROLLING STONE -- ranked it 36 on the all time great albums.  But Michael was not worthy of a cover in the eyes of ROLLING STONE.  And he wanted the cover for OFF THE WALL and tried to get it.  He's just starred with Diana Ross in THE WIZ the year before .  OFF THE WALL sold in the millions in 1979 and 1980 and has gone on to sell nine million copies in the United States alone.  But Michael Jackson wasn't worth a cover in 1979.  Failed and fading James Taylor got another RS cover that year -- actually two, he shared a cover with Carly Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, etc for NO NUKES. Paul McCartney and many others made the cover that year.  1980 rolls around, OFF THE WALL is still selling and singles from it still charting -- "Working Day And Night," for example and still no cover story. But look at all the people in 1979 and 1980 who got the cover and shouldn't have and note how many are friends of ROLLING STONE.  Note one actor in particular -- a friend so I'm not naming him -- that did not deserve the cover.  A supporting actor in a hit movie.  Might have made sense to put the two stars of the film -- both Academy Award winners for other films and both nominated for Academy Awards for the film the supporting actor was in, but it made no sense to put the TV actor who had left TV and was now trying to make a place in film.  He would do so in the 80s but in 1979, he had no reason to be on the cover other than who he was friends with.  But Michael Jackson didn't qualify.  For that matter, nor did Diana Ross. 1979 saw the release of her hit album THE BOSS which was a dance classic and charted many dance hits as well as a top forty hit.  Nope, not successful enough for a cover, said ROLLING STONE.  The next year she releases diana -- lowercase, please -- and it sells millions and has the number one hit "Upside Down" as well as the top ten hit "I'm Coming Out."  In 2020, it made ROLLING STONE's 500 best albums of all time.  But in 1980, it wasn't enough to land Diana a cover.  All African-Americans and all women have been repeatedly downgraded and it's been with covers, it's been with articles, it's been with reviews, it's been with the magazine's year-end awards and it's been with placement in the canon.  The attitude that is being called out needs to be; however, it goes way beyond who got the cover and who didn't.  It impacted careers and legacies and that needs to be factored in.  

Stan: Good points.  I don't want to keep you long, I know we're about to start the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin so thank you.

C.I.: Thank you, Stan.


Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, September 21, 2023.  Two US senators make clear the United States really isn't their focus, MOVEON joins the efforts to stop book banning, veterans suicides, and much more.

We have a lot of idiots in the country so it's no surprise that we also have them in Congress.  No, i'm not talking about the hate merchants, just the deeply stupid.  Dan De Luce (NBC NEWS) reports:

Two U.S. senators are urging the Biden administration to appeal to the Iraqi government to help secure the release of a Princeton University graduate student believed to have been abducted by an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq six months ago.

In a letter obtained by NBC News, Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, who both represent New Jersey, home to Princeton, conveyed their “grave concern” about Elizabeth Tsurkov’s plight in their appeal to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

They called on the administration “to use our close and abiding relationship with Iraq to raise Elizabeth’s abduction and call for her release at every opportunity and level.”

Oh, a Princeton graduate student, let's drop everything for the non-citizen then.  Did she shop at COSTCO too?

Reality, she's probablya  spy for either Russia or Israel.  And those are the two countries that she's a citizen of.  Let her countries make whatever case needs to be made.  She is not a US citizen.

This week, Joe Biden is supposed to meet face-to-face with Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani -- the prime minister of Iraq who NBC NEWS didn't see fit to name in their article.  This will the first face-to-face meeting of the two if it takes place.  It will not be an all day meeting.  It will be quick.  Hopefully there will be a photo op with the three or so questions they allow now at a photo op.  

There is not time to address everything.

She is not a US priority.  A priority for the health of Iraq is Kirkuk.  The US should have seen that issue resolved back in 2007 -- per the Iraqi Constitution.  Just as Brookings predicted, playing kick the can only made things worse. 

It needs to be resolved and the US helped create the problem so that's an area the US needs to focus on.  

With climate change taking place, I wish that would be focused on.  With some Iraqi legislators trying to make being gay a crime -- and a death penalty crime -- I wish that would be focused on.

But it is their first meeting and for the good of all of Iraq, the Kirkuk issue is probably the one to focus on.  

And pretend for a moment that this was an American citizen?  By all means, she would need to be discussed but even then you would have to be very careful.  "We are distressed over the kidnapping of Diane . . ."  Worded wrongly, it quickly becomes in the prime minister's head, "Joe Biden just accused me of kidnapping?  Me?"  

The woman is not an American citizen.

If Cory Booker is suddenly interested in women, I suggest he find one for himself.  Yeah, I went there.  And, Bob, you've had enough scandals involving foreign countries.  You've had more than enough.  As you enter what is probably your last years in office, you don't need to be advocating for citizens of other countries with your long history of being investigated for corruption.  And it's not just ancient history.  As NBC NEWS reported yesterday.

As Matt Friedman (POLITICO) reported last month, "shady" is the term that best describes your career in Congress:

About every 10 years, like clockwork, news articles pop up reminding New Jerseyans about that time in the early 1980s when Bob Menendez donned a bulletproof vest to testify against his former mentor at a federal corruption trial.

The story, when told by Menendez’s allies, is intended to portray the senator as a hardscrabble Hudson County politician who did what’s right in the face of the powerful Democratic machine — the same machine that nurtured him and launched his career.

It’s come up again and again because, well, Menendez has found himself the subject of similar investigations again and again — about once every decade. It happened in the 2000s, the 2010s, and it’s happening now.

It says something good that out of **100** US senators, only two were willing to waste time and energy on an issue that has nothing to do with the United States.  If Israel and Russia want to save their citizen, then they can step up to the plate and work on that issue.  Again, if Joe and Mohammed do have the meeting this week, it will be a brief meeting.  They will have to be formally introduced, make some small talk to establish something of a bond.  There will be no time for a wish list from either of the two.  They will probably only address one key issue.  And by address, I mean mention in passing.  Then they may or may not do a photo op.  

The two senators look like they were paid off to raise this issue.  Maybe in the future, Cory, don't co-sign with someone who has a shady reputation.  

Again, there are very serious issues to address and there's not time for something as silly as an idiot who chose to go to Iraq and make a spectacle of herself.  There was no reason for that -- unless she's a spy.  

Again, Iraq wants to institute the death penalty for the LGBTQ+ community, Cardinal Luis Sako has been stripped of his authority in Iraq (besides the importance to Iraq, Sako's Catholic and Joe's Catholic so it's a natural issue for Joe), Kuwait is rightly upset the their border in place with Iraq has just been tossed aside by Iraq's court, the list of worthy topics is endless.  Some little idiot who wants to travel to Iraq despite the long post-invasion history of the country's animosity to Jewish people?  She's not a US citizen, her countries need to make her case.  

If you're not getting it, The Gulf Cooperation Council issued the following this week:

 GCC Foreign Ministers issue statement after meeting in New York

18 September 2023.

The Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, have called on the Republic of Iraq, to take seriand urgent steps to address the negative effects of developments over the Khor Abdullah maritime agreement.

The Ministers made the call in a statement following a meeting held on Sunday, at the headquarters of the Permanent Delegation of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations in New York. The meeting discussed a ruling of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court issued on Monday and published on Thursday.

The statement says the ruling is based on inaccurate, out of context, historical reasoning regarding the agreement concluded in 2012 between the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Iraq about the regulation of maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah.

The statement says the agreement was ratified by Iraq in 2013 and was deposited with the United Nations.

The Ministerial Council said that these developments do not serve relations with the GCC countries, and violate international charters, treaties and agreements, including UN Security Council Resolution 833.

In yesterday's snapshot, we note this body's joint-statement with the US State Dept.  This may be minor to some but it's big news in Iraq and Kuwait.  And it's a lot more important than someone who stupidly made the choice to go into Iraq and then was such a spectacle that she was kidnapped by a group believing she was a spy for Israel.  

We noted climate change.  ALJAZEERA has a video report, "Iraq's Water Wars Pt. 1," and they note:

Iraq is running out of water. It is the fifth most vulnerable nation to the impact of climate change, according to the United Nations. Temperatures have risen by more than 2.5 degrees Celsius (36.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since the end of the 19th century, double the global average. The impact has been particularly visible in the last two years. Water levels in the Euphrates and Tigris rivers have dropped by half. Iraq’s government blames upstream water use by its neighbours as the primary culprit but has been criticised for not taking any steps at climate mitigation or adaptation strategies. And many Iraqis say oil industry water use is just exacerbating the problem.

Again, there are real issues to address and, again, that woman has citizenship in two countries and those two countries are the ones who need to be making appeals, not the US government.

Picking up from yesterday about Moms For Bigotry and others attempt to ban books, LGBTQ NATION notes:

Beloved actor and LGBTQ+ ally LeVar Burton -- and over 175 other artists and authors -- have signed an open letter encouraging people to fight back against anti-LGBTQ+ book bans that are sweeping the nation.

“Far-right politicians like Ron DeSantis are championing draconian laws to ban books and the teaching of accurate multicultural American history in favor of upholding a homophobic, transphobic, and white supremacist vision of our nation,” the letter’s website, Artists Against Book Bans, reads. The website and campaign were spearheaded by the progressive political group MoveOn.

Here's the letter:

As artists, creators, entertainers, and activists, we recognize and are horrified by the threat of censorship in the form of book bans.

This restrictive behavior is not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field. The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.

We cannot stress enough how these censorious efforts will not end with book bans. It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment, to further their attacks and efforts to scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. 

We refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans. As artists, we must band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.

We are calling on everyone to join us in pushing back against these book bans, support free and open creative industries—regardless of personal or ideological disagreements—and use their voice at the local level to stop these bans in their school districts. There is power in artistic freedom, and we refuse to allow draconian politicians to take that from us.


Abigail Disney
Adina Porter
Aisha Tyler
Aja Monet
Akilah Hughes
Alimi Ballard
Alysia Reiner
Alyssa Milano
Amanda Gorman
Andie Freeman
Andy Cohen
Angie Thomas
Ann Patchett
AnnaSophia Robb
Ariana Grande
Ashly Burch
Ava Max
Ava Philippe
Barbara Joosse
Bellamy Young
Bex Taylor-Klaus
Bill Nye
Billy Porter
Brandon Dermer
Brittany O’Grady
Busy Philipps
Cara Mentzel
Cave In
Chad Coleman
Charlotte Clymer
Chelsea Handler
Chelsea Wolfe
Chris Mosier
Chrissie Fit
Christie Brinkley
Christina Michelle
Clark Gregg
Constance Wu
Dan Andriano

Dying Wish
Elaine Hendrix
Elizabeth Gillies
Ellen Barkin
Emma Roberts
Escuela Grind
Eve 6
Fatimah Asghar
Felicia Day
Gabrielle Union
Garden Films
Garrett Russell
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Grace Gaustad
Great American Ghost
Greg Grunberg
Guillermo del Toro
Guy Endore-Kaiser
Idina Menzel
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Jaime King
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Jason Collins
Jason Ritter
Jazz Jennings
Jeff Rosenstock
Jesse Ferguson / Gale
Jessica Capshaw
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Jodi Picoult
Joel Birch
Joel McKinnon Miller
John Leguizamo
Jose Ramos
Judd Apatow
Judy Blume

Kaci Bollx
Karah Preiss
Kathy Najimy
Katie Rich
Kay Cannon
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Kelly McCreary
Kelly Zutrau
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Nick Adams
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Nik Dodani
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Padma Lakshmi
Patton Oswalt
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Rob Ackroyd
Rob Corddry
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Ron Perlman
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Sadie Dupuis
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Sarah Paulson
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Stick To Your Guns
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Two Minutes To Late Night
Ue3 Promotions
War On Women
Zaria Forman
Zoe Lister-Jones
Zooey Deschanel

A report from the Florida Department of Education (DOE) has revealed that approximately 300 books were removed from schools across Florida during the 2022-2023 school year. Many of the books included LGBTQ+ content or characters, including This Books is Gay by Juno Dawson, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, The Family Book by Todd Parr, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, and Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings.

Despite all of this, Florida DOE spokesperson Caily Myers told NBC News that”Florida does not ban books.” 

It's not just about banning books.  It's banning knowledge and context and ideas because heaven forbid anyone should ever actually think. That's made obvious by the response to a talk by Marc Tyler Nobleman.  For those who don't know, he is the author of BILL THE BOY WONDER: THE SECRET CO-CREATOR OF BATMAN, a biography of Bill Finger who, along with Bob Kane, created Batman.  You can see him in the HULU documentary BATMAN & BILL.  Some students in Atlanta were able to see him briefly until the school decided that Marc couldn't mention that Bill Finger had a gay son.  AP reports:

“We’re long past the point where we should be policing people talking about who they love,” Nobleman said in a telephone interview. “And that’s what I’m hoping will happen in this community.”

State laws restricting talk of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools have proliferated in recent years, but the clash with Nobleman shows schools may be limiting such discussions even in states like Georgia that haven’t officially banned them. Some proponents of broader laws giving parents more control over schools argue they extend to discussion of sex and gender even if the statutes don’t explicitly cover them.

They want to disappear LGBTQ+ people.  This had nothing to do with any sexual act.  It was noting that the co-creator had a gay son.  The same basic family background you'd provide on anyone.  

The schools spokesperson insists that she and the school weren't bothered by "gay" but that they were worried that the use of the term might result in questions.

Maybe ones like, "Mr. Nobleman, do you think our school spokesperson is a homophobe?  And, if so, what should we do about it?"

Can we ponder these parents for a second?  They're lying hypocrites who falsely scream 'groomers.'  So you think they're not already talking to their children about LGBTQ+ people?  You know they are.  But they're lying and spreading their hate and can't risk the kids realizing that at school.

Take a moment and grasp how much harder the Civil Rights era would have been if hate merchants had been allowed to hide behind religion (some tried) to excuse their racism.  This is not what this country is supposed to be.  These hate merchants need to be sent packing.  

In other news that you can't mention in Forsyth County schools, AP reports:

The Pentagon began a new effort Wednesday to contact former service members who may have been forced out of the military and deprived of years of benefits due to policies targeting their sexual orientation, starting with those who served under “Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Under DADT, which was enacted in 1994 by President Bill Clinton and in effect until 2011, service members who had other than heterosexual orientation could serve — as long as they kept it quiet. That led to years of discrimination, undue pressure, discharges and lost benefits.

Under DADT and previous military policies forbidding gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer personnel from serving, at least 32,837 service members since 1980 were forced out of the military for their sexual orientation, according to Department of Defense data.

More than 2,000 of those service members received general, other than honorable, or unknown discharge characterizations "that may have denied them access to veterans benefits, like home loans, health care, GI Bill tuition assistance and even some government jobs," Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said.

So get the word out -- unless you work at Forsyth County schools because, you know, questions.

Out gay Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and other Congress members marked the 12th anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) — the 1994 law that banned gay and bisexual service members from serving in the military — by proposing a commission to study the impacts that DADT had on queer and non-queer military members.

The proposal, introduced on Wednesday, coincides with an announcement by the Department of Defense (DOD) to contact military members who were forced out under the discriminatory policies and help update their discharge documents in order to restore their access to benefits that they lost.

Takano’s proposal, called the “Commission on Equity and Reconciliation in the Uniformed Services Act,” would create a 15-person commission to study past Department of Defense (DOD) actions “policing sexual orientation and gender identity in the uniformed services, from the beginning of World War II and onward.” The commission would also gather testimony and hold hearings on the effects these policies had on discharged soldiers’ physical, mental, psychological, financial, and professional well-being, including their ability to access military benefits. 

 We'll wind down with this from US Senator Bill Cassidy's office:

(Click here to download and here to watch on YouTube.)


WASHINGTON  U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) grilled the Executive Director for Suicide Prevention at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Matthew Miller, after an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report found that a 2021 veteran suicide was improperly handled. The report also found that VA employees interfered with the OIG investigation into the death. VA responded to the OIG findings by moving the executive director of the VCL to a senior position in the secretary’s office.


“We’ve passed accountability measures for people who don’t do their job,” said Dr. Cassidy. “And it sounds like interfering with an investigation of a suicide, which may have been inappropriately handled on a veterans’ crisis line, is incompetence.”


“It sounds like somebody was asleep at the wheel,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Now the question is was it just incompetence or was it just a cover-up.”


After being stonewalled by Miller, Cassidy called for VA officials to be held accountable.


“That veteran was ill-served, and there was as best as I can tell, an attempt not to hold people accountable,” concluded Dr. Cassidy. “And my gosh, that is a pattern.”



The OIG report published on September 14th found that the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) staff failed to take appropriate action with a veteran who died by suicide the same night he contacted the VCL. The VCL leadership then interfered with the OIG investigation, coaching staff prior to speaking with the OIG, according to the report.


The OIG also uncovered systemic issues, lack of standard operating procedures and policies for the VCL, and overall inadequate oversight. The report also discovered that the VCL Director for Quality and Training acted inappropriately and provided advice and information to the VCL responder prior to interviews with the OIG that potentially compromised the candidness of the interview.


This summer, Cassidy led the passage of a congressional resolution to support veterans struggling with mental health challenges.


Last year, the Senate unanimously passed Cassidy’s Solid Start Act to strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Solid Start program to contact every veteran three times by phone in the first year after they leave active duty. The program helps connect veterans with VA programs and benefits, including mental health resources.


Cassidy also introduced the Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022 to reauthorize and improve Cassidy’s historic 2016 mental health reform package.


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