Last year, the New Jersey legislature voted on a measure that prohibited the infliction of “sexual orientation reparative therapy” on young individuals of our state. This is the frequently torturous “treatment” designed to turn the gay straight. Although I abstained on the vote because of a potential technical issue, I vocally supported the initiative. Recently, the debate on this issue has re-emerged as several high-profile national and local Republicans have discussed both this issue and homosexuality. Their words demand comment.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, taking issue with policies prohibiting this “treatment,” justified his position last year by suggesting that homosexuality was simply a destructive lifestyle choice, which he went on to say was just like alcoholism. Perry managed to insult and infuriate the entire gay community along with every member of every family who has ever dealt with addiction issues – all at once. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon also vying for the Republican presidential nomination, suggested that being gay was a choice – as evidenced by supposed prison conversions. The most recent commentary came from Congressman Scott Garrett (R-5th District), who expressed a refusal to support gay candidates and said the Republican Party shouldn’t either.
These men each have a long list of substantial accomplishments and I bet I agree with them on most policy issues. But on the issues of homosexuality and addiction each of them has demonstrated a stunning level of closed-minded ignorance that – notwithstanding their apparent inability to genuinely embrace reality – most people of average intelligence would instinctively know to try to conceal.
During the same week that his administration diluted the commitments required from newly naturalized Americans, President Obama in word and deed baited the scorning of American Jews. Let’s take a look at these issues one at a time.
On July 21, 2015, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services modified its naturalization policy to allow immigrants to become citizens while refraining from committing to military service if the country called upon them. With the stroke of a pen, the standards and obligations for becoming an American were lowered. Maybe the intention was to foster a bigger melting pot. A melting pot, the administration would like us to believe, where all Americans will be treated equally. A melting pot where no religious or ethnic group will be the target of government invective and stereotypes. A melting pot where no group will have its, even heretofore higher standards of, loyalty to the United States questioned solely as a function of their religious convictions.
Now that the 2016 budget debate is over, we must get back to the most pressing state issue of our time. The suggestion of some in the public worker sector that those of us who voted against the budget are in favor of our abandoning our commitment to ensuring their pensions is completely false. For any responsible elected official, and decent human being, it is imperative that we meet our commitments in a way that protects our pubic workers – and the NJ economy at the same time.
The reason we couldn’t make a payment larger than the $1.3 billion one included in the Governor’s budget has nothing to do with a lack of will or integrity. It’s about devoting as much $ as possible without inflicting massive, economy-killing, tax increases on an economy just now showing signs of real growth. Without economic growth there will be no chance we will be able to meet our commitments to the system in the many years to come – so ensuring growth is as important to public workers as anyone else. We don’t simply have a $1.8 billion deficit this year. We have a $6 to $7 billion hole over the next few years. Taxing the life out of our economy this year, with no plan going forward – and leaving us in a $2 billion hole next year as the Democrat’s proposed budget would – is bad policy, for all New Jerseyans.
But it is true as well that we can’t foster growth to the exclusion of our obligation to our dedicated public workers. And I can’t state that point vehemently enough. Our teachers and other public workers are decent, devoted, professional people. Generalizations to the contrary are without merit.
The July 4th weekend is a great time for gallery hopping. Many new exhibitions opened their doors last weekend, and I’m going to give you a run down on some of the most interesting—and provocative. The wide variety of artwork may surprise you, and some of it may even shock you.
A good place to start is at AJ Dillon gallery in Atlantic Highlands. The gallery has an exhibition that has been running all month called “Stars and Stripes Forever.” It ends on July 4th, but is well worth squeezing into your schedule.
Gallery owner Frank Leahy asked local artists to come up with their own interpretation of the American flag, or what they think of when they ponder the American flag. One interpretation that grabbed my attention was a large America flag hung sideways with Jimi Hendrix face painted on it. It’s called Don’t Tread on Red by Jana Moriarty. You’ll find it hanging in a place of distinction—a pillar-like wall to the right as you walk in the gallery.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” — Juliet of the House of Capulet
I’ve written columns for many outlets over the past 15 years, and one practice I’ve always maintained is to spell out the whole “N” word when it is being used in an historical context, as in, “Slave owners referred to blacks as “N.” I do the same when quoting another person, as in, “He called him a “N.” I’ve also reserved the right to spell it out in condemnation of the word itself, as in, “It’s wrong to call anyone a “N.”
My thinking was that the “N” word is an insult when intended that way. I owe my American brothers and sisters with superior protective pigment the courtesy of not using that word as an insult, because it is worse than other words on the insult scale.
However, I don’t owe anyone a distortion of history. I don’t owe anyone less than exactitude when it comes to a quote, lest I be distorting history myself.
Yet every single editor I’ve had changes the spelled out word to the abbreviated “N word” before my column is published (I’m using the abbreviated “N” word now instead of spelling out the word, in recognition of Ricochet’s past practice).
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t use the word casually. I don’t use it in my own conversations and have not done so in decades. I think the only time I ever really used it was during a fistfight on the playground. There are different rules when throwing down — I would get called a cracker, a honky, etc. and I would yell out as many reciprocal remarks as I could. None of the white or black kids watching considered it racist. Afterwards, even the combatants did not. When you are in a fight, the rules of decorum are suspended. You’retrying to insult the guy you’re punching in the face.
“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual–or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country. ” – Samuel Adams
By Monmouth County Freeholder Tom Arnone
Freeholder Tom Arone
The primary election is over and I want to extend my sincerest congratulations to all the candidates that won. Now as you prepare for November, I look forward to seeing positive campaigning over the next couple of months – let’s keep the focus on the issues concerning our constituents.
Voter turnout in Monmouth County was 2.9%, based on the number of eligible voters in the county. We need to improve this number! Your vote is your voice as an American citizen – you need to show up at the polls to have that voice heard. If you are unhappy with how things are being run in your municipality, our county and throughout the state of New Jersey, it is your duty to make a difference by voting. Our right to vote in the United States is a privilege that was granted to us hundreds of years ago by the founders of our great country. If we do not exercise our civic duty to vote, then we fail to create a government that epitomizes the voice of the people, and therefore we will not have representatives that reflect our opinions. So each vote is important, each vote counts.
“I never thought I’d see so much of your anatomy” –The Camel Toe Movie
By Art Gallagher
Respected columnists on both the left and right have come to Governor Chris Christie’s defense against the viral social and new media reaction to the ridiculously embarrassing photos of Christie in a way too tight softball uniform last week.
Star Ledger sports columnist Steve Politi writes that we should give Christie credit for not being ashamed of his body and applaud him for putting on the skin tight uniform that revealed both girth and a lack thereof and getting on the field to raise money for a very good cause–the families of slain New York City police officers. Politi noted that he was fat in high school and that he’s covered high school sports. Therefore, he argued, we should not ridicule Christie because fat kids might stop participating in sports.
A Star Ledger editorial, presumably written by Editorial Page Editor Tom Moran who launched Christie’s YouTube career when he lectured to Governor on his manners, lectures his readers for acting like fifth graders, asks if we’d tolerate such nastiness if a female politician dressed like Christie did last week, and like Politi, asked if it would have been better if Christie had not taken the field in his tight white pants, as if Christie did not have another choice. Moran, if he wrote the editorial, did not mention if he has ever been fat.
Ken Kurson, publisher of The Observer and a friend to many MMM regular readers, writes that he used to be fat and probably will be again while dubbing the social and new media’s reaction to the Governor’s appearance as “Disgraceful and Stupid Fat Shaming.”
June isn’t just for weddings, beach time or boating. The month has also brings with it a rebirth of creative energy and a potpourri of fine art openings, exhibitions, street art and murals. In fact, there’s so much to see—and so many exhibition openings— that it may be hard to decide what to see each weekend or even during the week. Let me help you decide by giving you a preview of what’s going on during the first half of the month.
This coming weekend there are two key openings taking place on the central part of the Shore. One takes place in Red Bank (June 6), the other in Shrewsbury (June 7).
Saturday June 6 head for the Art Alliance in Red Bank which is holding its final exhibit of the season—The Ebba Osborne Memorial Award Exhibition. A reception runs from 6 pmto 8 pm opening night with music and refreshments in the back room. The exhibit focuses on two themes—“Dreamy” and “Interior”—and a $100 prize will be awarded to the Best in Show. Asbury Park photographic artists Tom and Lois White are judging the exhibit. Their work will be on display in the Alliance windows.
The 2015 New Jersey primary election came and went without me. That’s right: I didn’t vote, so sue me.
I live in the 29th Legislative District, which hasn’t supported anyone to the right of Henry Wallace or George McGovern since the Johnson administration – the ANDREW Johnson administration – so why bother? Additionally, there were no contested races – both the Republican and Democratic legislative nomination ballots featured candidates put up by the official party organizations and nobody else.
Since the last thing in the world I want to do is to further political party stranglehold control over the nominating process in New Jersey, I elected to pass. As P.J. O’Rourke entitled one of his books, “Don’t Vote It Only Encourages the Bastards.”