November 25, 2015

Deep East Texas notes 1

OK, the community where I'm now the newspaper editor is even more deep-fried conservative religious than central Texas. Given that the United Pentecostal Church has a college in Lufkin, I guess that's not too surprising.

Anyway, I had a story a couple of weeks ago about the first car accident at the first section of a new loop highway.

I used the phrase "baptism by fire" in the story. And got a call the afternoon that issue came out.

I was an hour away from taking off to drive to Houston to start vacation. So, I was a bit hasty, but without being short or curt.

I simply told her that I was sure I was not the first person in the world to ever use the phrase "baptism by fire" outside of an explicitly religious context. Indeed, I think the online-only "competitor" "newspaper" used it in its shorter story.

And, our first-ever gay or lesbian engagement announcement has brought out the bigotry.

People saying we shouldn't have run it because:
1. He has no connection here (he grew up here and graduated high school here)
2. He has no current connection here (best as I can determine, at least until just a few years ago, he had at least one grandparent here, and he likely still has friends here, plus his parents are just on hour away
3. By not taking a stand against the "gay agenda" or whatever, we're promoting it (I have bit my tongue for public consumption)
4. We have no backbone, because we're worried about lawsuits (Besides it being the "right thing," and people besides me saying that, but also me feeling that, it is the legal thing to do, as one Texas paper's already been sued over refusing to run gay and lesbian announcements)

And, yes, it's bigotry.

If you don't like gay marriage? Don't get gay married to somebody. Oh, and even though some gays push the findings too far — some research indicates that on average, the strongest homophobes may just be repressed gays.

I don't doubt that newspapers in areas like this, 45-50 years ago, faced some pushback when they ran their first interracial wedding announcements.

On the other hand, while studies indicate that homophobia in men may in some cases reflect repressed homosexuality, I've not seen any study that says "Afrophobia" reflects repressed yearning to be black, Rachel Dolezal (heh) aside.

Also, African-Americans, or Caucasio-Americans marrying them, weren't prepared to sue over this issue 45-50 years ago, either, as far as I know. Too bad. Maybe it would have, by force of pocketbook, speeded tolerance, if not necessarily acceptance.

Beyond that, to the degree gaydar is true, to the degree that there is some degree of feminization of some gays, as I talk about generalizations, not stereotypes, folks, I'm sure a lot of Williams' classmates took a gander that he was gay, even if he wasn't out of the closet then. How "bashed" he was for it, I don't know.

Beyond that, even for a town this size, I'm finding it has a ready population of control freaks.

This will be a challenge to my project of becoming an ever more honest Neo-Cynic in years ahead, but I'll do what I can to meet it.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of fall beauty in this part of the world, as this photo of mine shows. Even that, though, is illustrative of other things.

I was driving around doing fall colors photography last Saturday, and stopped in the road to take a few pictures of this site. The home and land owner comes running out of his house, whistles at me.

Lest he have a gun in hand, I backed up. And, he started grilling me, in his slow but intense Deep East Texas way. After he finally realized that I was actually taking photos of fall colors, and not eyeballing his land for either Jade Helm or Agenda 21 purposes, his paranoid cooled off 5 degrees, at least.

Just like youth is wasted on the young, beauty is sometimes wasted, too.

After I unwound a little bit, I drove a little bit more.

It's sad as well as disgusting, attitudes like this. But that's not all.

It's also hypocritical.

The wingnuts say they just want the government off their backs.

But, whether it's opposing the rights of gays to marry, keeping loitering laws directed at blacks and poor whites on the books, not wanting government to protect the land, water and air for the betterment of all of us, rather than corporate polluters damaging it, they only want the right for the government to be off THEIR backs.

As for paranoia? "What's it good for?" Breeding more paranoia, usually.

That said, as the likes of a Ted Cruz show, many paranoiacs LIKE breeding ever more paranoia.

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