Each weekend, Gawker contributing editor Kiese Laymon posts an essay from readers. I usually enjoy ’em, but this week’s, not so much. Now I’m no Hunter Thompson, but I do feel qualified to comment on writer Ruth Fowler’s treatment of French cocaine and dirt-sex since they relate to personal responsibility, the consequences of one’s actions, and, of course, justifications and excuses — my daily obsessions.
I can’t post Gawker’s content, so I’ll just have to hope you return to see how I weigh in.
Special Olympics “Global Messenger” John Stephens’ response to Ann Coulter’s Obama “retard” tweet is one that I’d love to see her fans brush aside. Forget Coulter’s literary conveyor belt, where is this guy’s book deal!?
Dear Ann Coulter,
Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?
I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.
I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.
Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.
Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.
Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.
After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.
I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.
Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.
No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.
Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.
A friend you haven’t made yet,
John Franklin Stephens
Special Olympics Virginia
Eugene Jarecki’s deconstruction of the War on Drugs in his documentary, The House I Live In, initially pissed off the white, dreadlocked pothead sitting in front of me at the theater. I think he and his friends expected to pump their fists with other persecuted weed smokers (a.k.a. privileged Caucasian stoners who got suspended from school once), so he was less than stoked to be hit with a message of personal responsibility instead.
It wasn’t long, though, before The House I Live In turned his grumbling to rapt attention: the movie was thoroughly compelling. And I DON’T LIKE PRISON GUARDS, ‘ya feel me? Yet I fell in love with the turnkey at the center of this story.
Racial hierarchies and the economics of incarceration are the two strongest arguments for seeing the film – and for recommending it to others. From fantastical sentencing to deplorable healthcare and the prison-for-proft lobby, we can no longer rely on local or state governments to know what to do with us if we break the law. At the same time, we live in an age where our laws are like tuna nets. Decisions about our criminal courts are driven by the needs of our jails, and our jails are being built to accommodate increasing desperation in our economy. Recidivism, it turns out, is highly profitable, and thus essential to the incarceration industry. (more…)
Debate #2 of the 2012 election: Obama and Romney answer town hall style questions from undecided voters. Personally, I think I have better chance of convincing Aretha Franklin to give singing lessons to Lana Del Rey than I do of having even one of my questions answered, but here they are anyway.
Oh, and if style, body language, and poise are intended to trump substance, don’t worry – I’ve got that covered too.
Question #1 – Mr. Obama – Reuters is reporting today that a CIA captive and Guantanamo prisoner wrote a note criticizing NBA star LeBron James’s 2010 decision to leave the Cleveland Cavs for the Miami Heat. The note was treated as a top national secret for two months. If these are the kinds of headlines the Guantanamo Bay detention camp generates at this point, don’t you regret your failed pledge to close the camp within your first 100 days in office? (more…)
My nominal cynicism was extinguished when friends started callin’ with reports of a Space Shuttle on the 405. For months, we’ve known about Endeavour being hauled from LAX to the California Science Center, but it wasn’t ’til it jumped into the mosh pit of Los Angeles and became “one of us” that my heart started racing. Forgive us, but we don’t have a football team and we’re too busy acting all been there, done that to feel “a part of” something very often. So when Angelenos do come together, particularly in celebration of a worthy contribution to the world, I get happy for my hometown.
I wish Americans had more reasons to look at each other with goosebumps on our arms and say, “Damn! That’s fuckin’ COOL!” But for everyone right now braving the schlep, the crowds, the cops, and the unfamiliar neighbors, that’s just what’s happening: folks are sharing the sidewalk and making room for goosebumps. For what it’s worth (and cursing aside), God bless the parents who’re bringing their kids. They may not understand it now, but later they’ll feel lucky and proud that their parents made the effort to share in something bigger. Right there is where excuses go to die: at the point of getting over your reasons for not trying.
If there’s one thing our country doesn’t need, it’s people claiming to be more patriotic than the next guy, and that’s so abundant now it can be difficult to stomach having “USA! USA!” screamed into my ear. This event is opposite of that. This is for those us who are proud of where country can go when it wants to, not in how much we’re entitled to get.
Welcome to the inaugural 2012 Excuses of the Year Awards, in recognition of the San Andreas Fault lines running through the justifications of our favorite national newsmakers!
What better time to launch a contest with special emphasis on whose bullshit is the most moist than in an election year? We know already that two of our “Shame Candidates” will get extra attention in the coming weeks — as will, apparently, some of their supporters. Even late-comers like Al Gore, with his high-flying, high-brow, and just plain high “altitude defense” of Obama’s limp dick showing at the Denver presidential debate last week, makes the cut here — no excuse goes unconsidered. So stay tuned for these other nominees while I go ahead and bypass the whole contest by giving top honors to…
Of course our first champ is former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period! Yesterday Sandusky was officially banned from spending eternity in Hell by the Devil himself when he accused his judge of rushing his trial, his victims of conspiring against him, and the rest of the planet of making money off of his being a monster in time for Halloween.
You read that right, folks: the day before Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison for luring small boys into a game of “Tickle the Old Man’s Penis,” his lawyer actually released an audio statement from his jail cell wherein he claims to be the victim. He’s confident, Sandusky says, that “we” will continue to protest his innocence, and in a particularly glaring sign of soft-headed delusion (plus a fascinating window into inhuman levels of denial), he refers to the very crimes for which he was convicted as “disgusting acts.”
Now THAT’s the mark of a winner. Our winner! I can’t imagine anyone topping this one between now and the end of the year, but I’ll be on the look out.
By the way, Sandusky’s lawyers said they’d appeal his case because they weren’t given enough time to prepare his defense. Ha! That this P.O.S. himself would wind up at the mercy of an excuse is funny and fitting.
On September 28, 2012, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence released its official report on what the L.A. Times called, “a lack of meaningful oversight” within the County jail system, as well as “an institutional culture of arrogance and impunity” with regards to the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.
‘Course, when you’re one of the “bad guys,” you think twice about mentioning crappy accommodations and the uppity desk clerk. In part, that’s how things in L.A. got so bad – some people needed to forget, others questioned their right to say anything, and most doubted the likelihood of their being listened to. (more…)
"Where Excuses Go to Die is an insightful and hilarious piece of work. I can’t think that prison is anyone’s idea of a good time, but it definitely gave John something with which to apply his very obvious talent."