I don’t know about you, but I sure am confused about all this current debate over gender equity, gay rights, and transgenders. I keep reading in the newspaper about LGBT. I had to look up the lettering to even know what the abbreviation means. Being “politically correct” has become an obsession with much of the country as well as right here at home in Louisiana.
Now personally, I don’t have a dog in this hunt. Carry on your personal lifestyle as long as you don’t interfere with my way of life or my personal freedoms. Live and let live. But too often today, one lifestyle interferes with that of another. If a baker is in business to make a living, why turn down anyone who wants a cake baked for his or her wedding? On the other hand, if it’s a gay wedding and the baker refuses to bake a wedding cake, why would the gay couple want to do business with someone they consider bigoted?
And this whole transgender bathroom thing? How did transgenders go to the bathroom for the past 100 years? I never really check out someone using the stall next to me. And why all the need for separate men and women’s bathrooms in the first place? Many restaurants in New Orleans have one bathroom for either sex to use. Have you gone to a sporting event and seen a long line for women and none for men? Architects ought to be more creative in designing safe and clean restrooms that can be more efficiently shared by everyone.
I wrote in my column recently about the hypocrisy of hate crimes. Why should any criminal be given a greater sentence because he or she committed crimes based on race, sexuality, sexual identity, or physical ability? If a child is tortured and murdered, is that to be considered less of a crime than if an Asian or a handicapped person is killed? Political correctness should not be a factor.
In Natchitoches Parish this past Christmas, a school principal was suspended for allowing a student-led prayer to take place. There was no sponsorship by the school. The students were just allowed to pray. But this wasn’t politically correct in this day and age. Kids can pray under their breath but not out loud? Nonsense!
I wanted to order the wonderful Disney film “Song of the South” recently to watch with my grandchildren. Remember all those enticing songs like “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “That’s What Uncle Remus Said?” Uncle Remus was an American Aesop, full of delightful stories (“Don’t throw me into the briar patch”). But the film has been out of circulation since 2000 because some critics say it glorifies slavery, even though the story takes place years after the Civil War. But not to offend anyone, so our kids miss out on a delightful tale of magical fables.
And for goodness sake, don’t attempt to bless anyone if they sneeze or for any other purpose. Up in New Hampshire, an election worker was recently fired for telling voters as they left the voting booth “God bless you.” It was supposedly a form of electioneering. I guess election officials were afraid a voter might have so disconcerted over the candidates running that they might go back into the voting booth and vote for the Good Lord instead.
A person can be sensitive to how others might feel without worrying that their every utterance may cause someone to take offense. Some of us feel it necessary to be more politically correct than do others. But a vibrant and strong country is only as courageous and agile as the sum of its parts.
I’m willing to go just so far to appease the P.C. crowd. Look, I’m a redneck, not someone who is rustically inclined. And we are always going to have hurricanes down here in Louisiana, not "himmi"-canes. Sometimes, things are said where you take personal offense. But we can also go overboard by assuming a “victim mentality.”
You can be polite, but in doing so, you don’t have to shy away from telling it like it is. I try to do just that in offering you my perspective in my column each week.
The 2019 Chicago mayoral election was held on Feb. 26th but since no candidate received a majority of votes, a runoff election was held on April 2nd between the two candidates with the most votes - Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.
Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, won the runoff election by a 50 point margin and will become the city’s first black woman and openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago. Lightfoot ran on a platform that she would clean up Chicago’s well known, historic level of corruption. And she is not wrong. I mean, did you know that four of Illinois’s last ten Governors were or are currently in prison? For corruption. Seriously.
Otto Kerner, Governor from 1961-1968 - sentenced to three years in prison for bribery.
Dan Walker, Governor from 1973-1977 - spent a few years in prison for bank fraud.
George Ryan, Governor from 1999-2003 - spent several years in prison for racketeering.
Rod Blagojevich - Governor from 2002-2009, impeached and currently serving a 14 year prison sentence for corruption.
And even though Rahm Emanuel has never been actually accused of a crime his tenure as Chicago’s mayor has certainly not been scandal free. As Rick Perlstein points out in his excellent, “The Sudden But Well-Deserved Fall of Rahm Emanuel” for the New Yorker,
“….Emanuel had became the mayor of Chicago, elected with fifty-five per cent of the vote in the spring of 2011. Since then, there have been so many scandals in Emanuel’s administration that have failed to gain traction that it’s hard to single them out.”
Well, Rahm decided not to run again and opened the way for Lightfoot. Lightfoot has never held public office but as a former federal prosecutor she certainly knows how to go after crime. The city has actually only had one black mayor, Harold Washington Jr., who was elected in the early 80’s but only held office for a few months before dying of a heart attack at the age of 65.
Lightfoot certainly has her work cut out for her as Chicago universally wins yearly “most corrupt city in the US” awards from all the right and wrong places. Even their very own University of Illinois releases a yearly report on corrupt cities and Chicago is always number one with either L.A. or NYC (Manhattan) switching places back and forth for the second and third spot.
Lori Lightfoot will assume the office of Chicago mayor on May 20th, 2019.
The #MeToo Movement got its start in Hollywood, but the still-moving movement for equal rights for women got its start from Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. Colette penned the bestselling series of Claudine novels under her husband’s name before breaking away to win the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature for her novel Gigi. She was also an actress and journalist. She was the true genius behind her husband’s success and boldly challenged both the sexuality and gender identity status quos. Colette is the real Wonder Woman women deserve.
Colette is portrayed perfectly by Keira Knightley; it’s the best performance of her career. She truly is “the real Claudine” as well as the real Colette. Even while her husband received credit for the writing of the books, it was her who was credited with creating “a type.” Women upon reading the Claudine novels became Claudine—dressing like her, cutting their hair like her, even adopting her words as a regular part of their everyday vocabulary. Claudine was a literary phenomenon bigger than Harry Potter, and more in line with Madonna. Colette’s face was on hair products, cigarettes, everything.
Colette wasn’t always an empowered author, though. The film tells a most intriguing and often hilarious story of her growth from quiet, heterosexual housewife and letter writer to emboldened, bisexual novelist/actress and happy divorcee. She might not have been violated sexually like those women in Hollywood who spearheaded the #MeToo Movement, but she was violated by men nonetheless. None more so than her husband, who repeatedly used her writing to dig himself out of debt, going so far as to lock her in a room for four hours to write words he’d later claim as his own using the status quo and not his ego as the reason her name could not accompany his on the manuscripts.
Colette constantly challenged the status quo, whether it was women writing or the generally-accepted running around of husbands with mistresses and looking-down upon of wives doing the same. "Infidelity is a matter of gender to you?" Colette angrily asks her husband, Willy (real name Henry Gauthier-Villars, portrayed very well by Dominic West), at one point. She eventually falls in love with a transgender woman, Missy. When her husband refuses to acknowledge Colette's insistence that Missy be referred to as "him" instead of "her" despite Colette correcting him three times, you see exactly how far ahead of her time Colette really was. It would sicken her to see Donald Trump's administration looking to change the legal definition of gender back to what is or isn't swinging between your legs rather than what you see yourself as regardless of genitalia.
Colette includes one of the funniest montages you’ll see in cinema and doesn’t dull with dialogue. The conversation, especially with her husband, comes more quickly and more wittily as Colette’s character grows more and more emboldened. The moment she becomes aware of her genius isn’t as celebratory as the moment she allows herself to embrace it and enjoy it without her husband. Like a perennial, Colette blooms every year, but it takes years to fully realize her radiance.
Critics (86 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (75 percent like it) alike are loving Colette. It deserves better than the $3.7 million its made at the box office. With Colette, the New York-based Bleeker Street has given women, especially those brave women of Hollywood, the #MeToo movie their movement deserves. Reward them for doing so and you’ll be rewarded yourself.