Tag Archives: Politics and Stuff

The Circus is In Town – Ferguson, MO

After a seemingly endless stream of news articles, Facebook posts, and other forms of media coverage regarding the last week of events in Ferguson, it was finally time to sit down and hopefully expose some of the truth that has been washed out by glare of the lights of national media. There is more to this story than most people realize, and there are so many issues I want to address that I am going to go through this whole thing chronologically, supplementing with Facebook posts from my own news feed. I have also included several videos in this post, which you should not watch if you are offended by violence, language, or poorly shot iPhone footage. I will warn you again before we get to those videos. This post is also long, because this whole thing makes me angry. Grab a drink and let’s get started.

1) The Shooting

We all know this part of the story. Last Saturday, Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. I won’t rehash this, because we all know what went on that day and everyone has their own opinion. I’d like to point out a few facts that people seem to be missing. First of all, the robbery that went down immediately before he was shot happened at 11:50am on a Saturday. How many crimes are committed before lunch on a Saturday morning? This guy walks into a convenience store, grabs some Swisher Sweets, and walks on out in broad daylight. 

So when he is confronted by an officer just moments later, something happens that results in him dying from multiple gunshot wounds. The preliminary story is that he is shot multiple times in the back, with a final killing shot to the head. Some witnesses report that he was even on his knees in surrender, and the cop executed him right on the sidewalk, because that sounds like something most cops do on Saturday before lunch. Despite the obvious problems with this story, it was nevertheless the story than ran during the early parts of last weekend. Michael Brown, a gentle giant, a boy scout volunteering for his community, mercilessly murdered by evil cops.

brown robbery stroe

Then other parts of the story started coming out. We saw the photos of him robbing the store (above). We heard that he had marijuana in his system (that fact doesn’t really matter, actually. Marijuana is metabolically detectable for weeks after use, and the swisher sweets he stole are very commonly used to roll blunts, so that’s all fairly straightforward). Then we heard the cops side of the story, and realized maybe he was being attacked. In fact, maybe his orbit was fractured during the encounter. Then the autopsies came out and showed that he was shot in the front, not the back. 

Of course, this all happened days later. While we waited for all of this, we had to deal with:

2) The Protests

Ferguson is a rough part of the world. Poverty, crime, gang and drug violence are all unfortunately common. So immediately following the shooting, we saw the beginning of the protests, with the familiar “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” chant that became so popular. This is the part of the story where I can really understand the protests. This young man is shot, and it symbolizes the harsh and unjust realities of their lives, so they start protesting. This is a community mourning the death of a young neighbor and protesting against the circumstances that brought it out. 

Then things got crazy. National media start showing up. The protests turn violent, with people looting their own businesses, burning down the convenience store that was robbed, and the whole environment turns dangerous. This is the part I don’t understand. If you are angry enough to go out and protest, why would you ever begin to loot and destroy your own city? There’s a video linked farther down in this post, where a man sits outside a business and tries to dissuade looters by saying “I need to live here. My son needs to live here. Why do we need to do this?” Days later when the initial autopsy comes back and the world realizes that Michael Brown wasn’t exactly a boy scout and maybe we should think about this differently, the protests continue regardless.

So there’s a few things I want to mention here, at least regarding the autopsy. The first autopsy was performed by Dr. Mary Case, the St Louis County Medical Examiner. To say she is a capable professional is a gross understatement of her abilities. She is a well respected physician, both nationally and internationally. Her autopsy was the first to reveal that he was shot in the front of his body. The family requested another autopsy, and the government wants a third. This won’t change the findings at all. If Dr. Case said six wounds, the man had six wounds. The second autopsy came out and confirmed. This isn’t a game of interpretation. Medical pathology is pretty precise. If they continue to request autopsies, the body will decay to a point where by the 15th autopsy the quality of the exam will be so low that some schmuck will come back and say “You know, there could be 10-20 shots here, but it’s hard to tell because he is actively decomposing in my morgue”. The only pertinent part of this story we are still waiting on is medical toxicology, which should be another 4-6 weeks. It would not surprise me at all if some Doc comes out in six months at a trial and tries to sell us some alternative story, but it will basically be fiction at that point.

So back to the protests. The news channels are showing everyone pictures like this. 

And not showing you clips like this one (don’t watch if offended by language). That’s the kind of unrest that is happening every night. 

3. Where We Are Now

So my nightly routine of watching Jimmy Fallon has been interrupted by the Ferguson coverage, so I’ve seen essentially every single minute of local news on Ferguson. First of all, the number of protesters over the last few nights is very small, and they are dwarfed by the swarms of media members lined up on the sidewalks. In fact, last night each reporter probably could have been assigned their own individual protester to interview, with a few left over to film the police. 

Second, we’ve got all of these people from out of town. Al Sharpton is here. The New Black Panthers are here. A group of Tibetan monks is here and actually helping out. New Communist Party members are here. Why is everyone here? Because the circus is in town. Every night the police gear up, the protesters head out to do their thing, the media turn their cameras on, and the stage is set for a lunatic to do something really dumb and create a bunch of headlines. None of this is about Michael Brown, at least not anymore. How do I know? Because kids in Ferguson can’t go to school yet. Because Ferguson is getting lit up by news cameras every night so that people can throw rocks, yell and shout, and get arrested, all on camera. I bet you all of the money in my wallet ($4.75) that if the press goes home, the violence goes away.

4. Everyone Has Their Thing

So everyone reads this story, or sees the video, and uses it for their own thing. Even this article from Time manages to slip the racial factors in this case into the very first sentence. I have a friend on Facebook who posted stuff like this for days after the shooting, because his “thing” is hating the police.

Photo: "There's a reason you separate the military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people.  When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people." - William Adama http://illmethodology.com

“Pictures with quotes them form the backbone of intelligent knowledge.” – Me

Based off of his news feed and the opinions of many, the problems in Ferguson are entirely the fault of the police. The only reason a cop would shoot a person is because they are mindless, barbaric, and also have a quota to shoot people to keep the population repressed, because that’s a thing. 

Remember that picture from earlier? Did you see how big Michael Brown was? Can you see why Officer Wilson might have felt threatened? If not, try to stop picturing a cruel hearted officer with a gun that he uses to cap thugs on the weekend, and instead picture him as a normal guy with a wife and kids and a job that makes him work nights and weekends. He probably has a dog and a lawn to mow. 

I’m purposefully not answering the question “Why did he have to use his gun? He should have used his taser! Or his nightstick.” I’m not answering that question specifically because I’m not in that position. I am not going to indulge in the intellectual ignorance it takes to sit on my couch and write on the internet about how that cop made the wrong decision, in the heat of the moment while Michael Brown came at him. Here’s the facts that matter though. Most cops go through their entire career and never shoot anyone. If a cop does shoot someone, he is immediately placed on administrative leave and an investigation is conducted. Even if he shot a serial killer that was actively threatening a troop of girl scouts, they still do an investigation. As a society, we have decided that our officers can carry firearms, so it should not be a surprise that they occasionally use them. As Kevin Hart so brilliantly explains, your risk of being beaten by the police can be easily modified by your own actions (don’t watch if offended by language or hilarious comedians). I am well aware that cops are capable of going too far, I’m trying to illustrate that this is an exception rather than the rule.

The police are also not militarized. Thinking that they are is just ludicrous. Let me show you a picture that popped up when I Googled “Ferguson Police”.

Looks like they’ve got some pretty crazy stuff there, right? I mean, those aren’t police cars. That’s some gear! They are militarized! First things first, this isn’t their stuff. It belongs to the county of St Louis, which got it from the Pentagon, who gave it to them because of a grant program that provides equipment to cash strapped police departments who may at some point need to respond to masses of potentially violent people while keeping their officers safe. Ironic, right? At least they can use it. The alternative is a mob of protesters actually succeeding in injuring or killing an officer, causing the cops to get angry and fight back, creating an actual Battle of Ferguson. At the left we see a converted ambulance, and some sort of tactical Jeep looking thing on the right. The officers are all protected by Kevlar vests and helmets, and armed with Airsoft guns (not all of them, calm down and don’t email me). The man in the front is armed with a menacing row of zip ties. The point I’m making is that they have acquired a bunch of specialized equipment whose purpose is to NOT KILL PEOPLE, making them the least effective military group in the world. If you get bombed with tear gas, you will not like your life. It is a severe irritant to your eyes and throat, and it will very much make you want to leave and rinse your eyes. Just like it’s supposed to. My same friend who graced the world with that picture up there also posted a status about how the world had somehow banned tear gas use in armed conflicts because it was inhumane (it made no sense, so I can’t really help explaining that). It was not long ago that Syria used Sarin gas on its population. Sarin gas will make you die a painful death. Keep things in perspective here people. There are people who legitimately want to kill cops, so this stuff is as much for their protection as ours. Second, they don’t cruise around on Sunday evenings in this stuff. They only drag it out when, for instance, crowds of angry people are throwing broken glass bottles at them.

military soldiers in combat

I included this image, which popped up when I googled “combat soldiers”, to contrast with the picture above. You will notice significantly more ways for them to kill people, and significantly fewer zip ties.

On to the next thing that makes me mad. Apparently I committed a crime earlier in my article. Indeed, by showing you the picture of Michael Brown robbing the convenience store, I am participating in the character assassination of Michael Brown. Yes. The Ferguson police are staging a campaign to make Michael Brown seem like a bad guy, some sort of evil human being. This isn’t character assassination, it’s evidence. Let’s flip this situation around and look at it the other way. Video surfaces of Officer Wilson beating up a kid a few days before the shooting. What happens now? When that video comes out, is it character assassination? NO WAY. Now all of the news channels (and CNN) are running stories on how this sets up a pattern of behavior for Wilson. Maybe he was unstable, but either way he was prone to violence. Also, news coverage is always leveraging their choice of words to insinuate different ideas. When USA Today reported that “….Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shot an unarmed black teenager six times…” they are shaping the way you read that. First, is six an unreasonable number of times to be shot? Nope. If you think yes, you need to spend some time around people who actually know about guns. There is no “bullet quota” for officers. The algorithm is simple. If you need to shoot, you shoot until you don’t need to shoot anymore. That could be 1 bullet, or it could be 10. Also, that headline adds the angle that somehow the fact the Brown was unarmed means he was not threatening. There are many reasons why Brown, who was a pretty hefty man, could possibly make a police officer feel threatened (especially if he fractured his orbit)

The last thing that annoys me here is the media coverage. This isn’t about Michael Brown anymore. This is about agendas, and the truth that will surface in six months doesn’t matter nearly as much as the angle that can be spun to advance an agenda today. The faster the news is breaking, the more likely it is to be wrong. I can’t even begin to count the tweets that have prematurely reported more people shot, stabbed, killed, arrested, or looking weird that ended up not being anything. This is an issue bigger than Ferguson, or even bigger than just our generation. The conflict brewing in Ferguson is deeply rooted in history, and I don’t trust a journalist with an iPhone and 140 characters to accurately tell me anything except whether or not the sun is shining.

Finally, the ultimate message here. Nobody is winning. Do you understand that? You may be on Michael Brown’s side, convinced he was executed in broad daylight for being black. You may be convinced he was a some sort of lowlife that somehow deserved what he got. Either way, the resolution of this issue isn’t ever going to be “my side won”. At least it shouldn’t be. Before Michael Brown was Trayvon Martin, and there will be another after Michael Brown. We live in a broken world and we have to deal with a broken system, but it’s the best system anyone has come up with for a long time, so let’s try to make the best of it. I doubt that this tragedy will somehow singlehandedly fix the problems in Ferguson and America, but I hope that this horrible event becomes a defining moment in someone’s life. I hope that person dedicates their life to their community and through their leadership changes the world as we know it. 

Thanks for reading.

sortadrwordpress@gmail.com

 

Careful What You Read

So I probably did not fail my exam today. That’s as certain as I can be. Only a few more weeks before we launch into Anatomy, where I anticipate that things will start to get a little crazier. Good news: the anatomy course is “streamlined” and “redesigned” this year. I should hope so, since the last time they “updated” it was back in the 1990’s.

This is the follow up to “The World is Hilarious and Sad”. I talked about a few current events, but left out a glaring one that had happened not a day before. This is (probably) old news by now (three days later), but I will use it to make a few points. In an effort to keep this post both trendy and technologically advanced(ha!), here’s a iPhone pic of USA Today’s cover the day after the shooting.

Image

Notice the quote there at the top? That’s some excellent journalism right there!

Mass shootings like this are just about guaranteed to get people actively all wound up about guns, violence, drugs, religion, “kids these days” or whatever else they see as the main factor involved in the shooting. In every single case, they are wrong. This is an instance of over-simplification, people seeing what they want in an issue and using it to further their cause. As tragic as all of these shootings are, they will be used shortly afterwards for political/economic/social gain. Anyone who claims to have a “magic bullet” solution for these mass shootings is seriously misinformed.

So let’s look at some of these silly ideas. The most obvious fight is the “guns are the problem” people versus the “everyone should have guns” people. One side believes guns to be the very tools of Satan, and the other side carries their gun EVERYWHERE because they can and they like to. So here’s the funny thing about guns and violence. Ready? It’s been decreasing a lot. Since 1995.

Yup. Weird. My observant readers will notice that this graph cuts off at 2005, and argue that it goes up after the graph ends. Not true. It’s down even more after 2005. That same data shows that gun violence accounts for 5-8% of all violent crime. I should point out that the more violent crimes are often shootings, but they are not alone in that category. Bombings and mass stabbings are also capable of producing large numbers of fatalities. What those numbers mean is that if we could somehow eliminate every gun from the world, we would see a 5-8% reduction in violent crime. Lame. Hence the problem with gun control support. What do you do with the millions of existing guns? Why impose new laws on people intent on breaking them anyway? Another strong point against that argument is the fact that these events are often stopped/averted by other people with guns, and these events are less prominently reported. Also, guns are pretty cool.

Even Obama thinks so. By the way, this photo has some hilarious photoshopped copies floating around the internet. Just saying.

So the guns aren’t the problem. The next thing people will talk about with our latest shooting is probably violent video games. This most recent shooter played Call of Duty, because he was a guy with an Xbox. It is very tempting to correlate violent video games with violent behavior, but it’s lazy and ill-founded to do so. Why? Here’s one reason. In a recent presentation, the CEO of Activision boasted that around 10 million people per day play Call of Duty. That number jumps up to 40 million people who play it once a month. That’s a ton of people playing a video game (or doing anything, really). If a hundredth of a percent of those daily gamers (a fantastically small portion, .01%) ended up being violent shooters, that’s like 1,000 people. There haven’t been that many mass shootings in the last few decades put together. Video games didn’t really exist until the early to mid-1990’s, when the industry really took off. Does that correlate with increased gun violence? Nope. In fact, the graph above shows that gun violence drops hard right at that same time. Weird. I think a better assumption is that Call of Duty (or video games in general) helps stop these events from happening by giving people a virtual outlet for real world problems. Also, non-gamers would probably be surprised at the extend to which video game skill does NOT cross over to firing an actual weapon(full disclosure: I’m quite good at Call of Duty, and lucky to hit the earth in real life).

What about religion? That’s another hot topic. Terrorist attacks have brought attention to Islamic fundamentalists. The Columbine shooters were not religious (as far as I know), and the Naval Yard shooter was Buddhist. Yup. While commonly seen as a peaceful religion (most people think of the fat Buddha statue meditating), some Buddhists just wrapped up a decade long civil war in 2009. No one would suspect Buddhism of turning out shooters, however.

Those are a few of the issues that stir the greatest controversy, but we are still missing some factors that make a huge difference. Here’s a common thread no one wants to talk about: mental illness. In nearly every shooting I can think of, the shooter exhibited a form of depression, substance abuse, or personality disorder. Our public health system is underfunded and poorly equipped to take care of the Adam Lanzas in this country. What about the link with drugs and medication? How about the fact that the perpetrator often gets a temporary spotlight? That may be a motivating factor for those who are trying to make a point. What if we shifted coverage from documenting every aspect of the shooters life and motivation to extensive reporting on the victims, their families, and those who survived? What about all of the “almost shootings”, like this and this and this? Let’s learn from these cases that could have happened and figure out how to stop the next one.

There will be a next one. It may happen in the next few weeks, and it will certainly happen again in the next year. When it does, all of these issues will raise their ugly heads. The news will get it wrong, but hopefully we continue to learn and improve our efforts to stop these events from happening.

If you’re reading this, maybe I earned a like? As always, I welcome your feedback in the comments or directly at sortadrwordpress@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

The World Is Hilarious and Sad

NOTE: It’s been a week since my last post. My bad.

I made an honest attempt at reading my entire inbox today. I get exactly 3 million emails a day on my medical school email, as well as a surprising amount of emails on my undergrad email (which I am slowly cutting off) and my personal email. Having gone most of the weekend without checking any of those accounts, then not catching up during Monday and Tuesday, I finally made an effort to catch up. See, while a majority of the emails I get are blasted to my entire class, and are mostly advertisements for events, classes, socials, etc, there are a few IMPORTANT emails that have to be detected. So I missed the one telling me NOT to come to my small group workshop today because the faculty member was sick. Just great.

So, faced with an unexpected afternoon off, I had several options. The most logical choice would be attempting to catch up on the library of biochemical pathways thrown at us during lecture this week, in a last ditch effort to pass Friday’s quiz. More attractive options included going home and sleeping, perhaps later followed by a run. Instead, I found myself reading the newspaper on a bench, enjoying the gorgeous weather outside today. While I may be a millennial, I do have this habit of reading the newspaper every single day (especially the comics and crossword). And so, ironically, I am more caught up on current events than I am lecture material, a situation medical students rarely find themselves in.

This happens all the time, actually

While I have the same chance of beating the average on Friday’s quiz that the Jaguars do of beating the Seahawks on Sunday (less than zero, for my non-NFL readers), there’s a lot going on outside the walls of my medical school that is ridiculous/tragic/interesting enough for me comment on. I promise this will be interesting even if you don’t follow the news or current events.

Let’s start small. My medical school is hosting a “poverty simulator” in a few weeks (I actually read that email). Some faculty noticed that most medical students have no experience living in poverty or low-income situations. Really? Gee, who could have known that a bunch of 20-somethings attending a private medical school likely came from middle class families? I picked up on that in my first week of medical school, before I even knew where the cafeteria was. To help us gain empathy for those with lower income, we will do a simulation where we have to pay bills, find childcare, contact agencies, and arrange transportation to a job (as well as maybe finding a job) based on scenarios that are given to us. So how long does the scenario last? 60-90 minutes. The sad part is that many patients in our city are living in poverty, but the best our school can do to help us learn to help them is a 90 minute class on a Friday morning with free breakfast. I’ve spent enough time in free clinics and outreach centers to know that there’s more to poverty than a lecture, but I will still probably go because there will be free food.

Next topic. There was much discussion among my iPad wielding friends last week about a certain article published in the New York Times by one Vladimir Putin. While many were impressed at the open tone of the article, I found it hilariously hypocritical and misleading. He references our alliance during World War 2 as if we were pals back then. We may have been allies, but we certainly weren’t friends. Allies of convenience, if anything, but mostly we shared a common enemy. He also references that the conflict in Syria is fueled by “foreign weapons”. And just who could possibly be supplying weapons to Syria? Who gets implicated every time North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, or other unfriendly countries begin acquiring weapons? RUSSIA! Despite this article, we are not friends with Russia. Period. The list goes on, but I will cut to the chase.

He makes one last point that will help me transition to the broader context of this article. He says that it is “dangerous” to encourage any people to consider themselves exceptional. Specifically, he means the idea of “American Exceptionalism”. In my mind that’s an adjective, not a theory. To argue that we aren’t exceptional is a little bit silly. Everything we have done in the last 100 years has been exceptional. We put men on the moon, won a bunch of wars, and provided the driving force for progress in science, medicine, technology, and civilization as we know it. Even things we do poorly are done horrifically. Not only are we the fattest country in the world, we are getting fatter FASTER than any country in the world. Not only are we spending our money quickly, we are spending MORE AND MORE money FASTER than other countr- you get the idea. Even Assad himself said in 2009 that there was “no substitute for the United States of America”. True story. There are very few countries in the world that can blow something up anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours, and no countries that could spend more money doing it.

When you step back even more is when it gets even weirder. It becomes more and more obvious that Obama is terrible at foreign policy. This second term has caused him to wade into the shallow end of international diplomacy, and he is already in way over his head. I like to think of his strategy lately as “leading from somewhere”. First, he declares that we will certainly do something about Syria. Then, he decides to ask Congress first (reversing a 150 year old precedent). Then, when he goes to Britain for help, they say no. Mind you, this is the first time since 1782 that Parliament has said no when the government asked for a declaration of war. That’s crazy! England has a long history of invading countries because there wasn’t anything good on TV.

The countries in red are ones that have NOT been invaded by England

The next step of hilarity came when an accidental remark turned into serious policy. Kerry (or maybe his hair) mentioned that Syria could just give up the weapons, and suddenly Assad (and suspiciously Russia) seemed ok with it. What? What? Since when has any country ever stockpiled illegal weapons against international law, then decided to just “give them away”. What is going on?

That’s really the crux of the issue. There’s a lot happening here that we don’t know. Lots of the intelligence is classified, and so the reasons that various governments have for making their decisions can’t always be public. It’s in situations like this where we need to be able to trust the people we elected to weather this storm and protect our interests. The problem is that I don’t trust Obama. I have seen enough in his last five years to doubt his motives and ability to handle a situation like this. If he would have appeared on the news in June to announce that Syria was stockpiling chemical weapons and we knew it, so we went in and blew them up, I could have supported that. I could also have supported a similar press conference two weeks ago where he explains that we won’t blow anything up in Syria, but that we will be watching closely and actively working to confiscate the weapons. I have a hard time supporting whatever Obama is trying to do right now. Side note: Putin used to be the director of the KGB, which is a nastier, meaner version of our CIA. Obama was a community organizer in Chicago. Who do you think will out maneuver the other?

Well that went longer than expected….and I’m not even done. If you are still reading this, perhaps I earned a like? Tune in later today for the rest of this long post.

I love this show.

I’m Predicting the Future

Friday was a good day for me. I received good feedback from a very intimidating surgeon who facilitates our small group project and scored well on our first exam thus far. I typically finish exams earlier than most of the class, which gives me time to sit around, read, and just generally waste time until everyone else finishes the test.

And so there I was, sitting in the lobby outside the lecture hall after my first exam, still shaking slightly from the extra cup of coffee I drank that morning, returning to all of my normal time wasting habits (Facebook, surfing the internet, etc). That is when I saw another trailer for Ender’s Game. Click the link if you haven’t heard about it yet. The movie is based off a fantastic series of science fiction novels published in the 1980’s. There are four in the series, and each one is distinctly different from the others. I highly recommend all four of them, even if you don’t think you like science fiction. My sister read them, and she doesn’t care at all for science fiction, but she thoroughly enjoyed them.

It also has Han Solo in it, so you have to go see it.

Not only is the book amazing, the movie looks like it was done really well. It has all of the ingredients to be a hit at the box office, except for one little detail. Orson Scott Card, the author of the series, is decidedly anti-homosexual. He has gone on the record and made multiple comments regarding his views on homosexuality and politicals, and that has created controversy in the past. Of course, until recently, he has been only the author of a (relatively) obscure collection of books in science fiction. That is all about to change. His first book is about to become a major movie, and there are billions of dollars on the line, as the success of his first movie could well dictate whether or not the next three are made. Which they should. But that’s an entirely different discussion.

So here is what’s going to happen. I’m predicting the future right now. As we get closer to November, we will first begin to see articles about this upcoming movie, with little blurbs about how the author of the book is homophobic. This will morph into newspaper editorials, blog posts, and news specials about how his intolerant views just aren’t acceptable in modern society. Eventually, a boycott movement will be started, and we may even see people with signs at the theater during opening weekend. In fact, the storm is already brewing.

Everybody loves signs!

I can predict this months in advance because it follows a well established pattern. Do you remember the fiasco with Chick-fil-a last summer? I do, since I head there at least six times a week for delicious chicken sandwiches. The boss of CFA is Dan Cathy. His dad started the first CFA, and it remains a family business to this day. The family is openly Christian (and very generous as well). It should be no surprise that, when asked about their views on gay marriage, they were not exactly supportive of it. Not only did they support traditional marriage and Biblical beliefs, the non-profit arm of Chick-fil-a had given money to lobbying groups that fought against LGBT organizations. Several LGBT groups organized “kiss-ins” at local restaurants as a protest, but with the support of Mike Huckabee, everyone and their mom ate at Chick-fil-a on August 1st to support the company. Since I know several people who work at CFA, I also happen to know that they broke exactly every sales record ever set that day. Many places ran out of food, and still people lined up to buy waffle fries and drinks.

So I predict the same backlash against Ender’s Game later this year. What I can’t predict is the response. I don’t know if the Chick-fil-a mob will all go see the movie in a sort of counter-demonstration, or whether the controversy will generate more hype (and more profit), or whether the backlash will actually succeed in keeping people from the theaters, but either way it sucks. The CFA incident and Ender’s game both show a hilarious double standard in society today regarding homosexuality (and expressing your opinion, really).

I’m not supporting either side in this debate, either. Don’t get worked up over that. Get this. Orson Scott Card is a Mormon. It should be no surprise to anyone that he doesn’t support gay rights. Additionally, Ender’s Game really has nothing to do with homosexuality. At all. Even remotely. In fact, the major themes in the story will make those who see the movie think long and hard about the way they see the world. So when gay rights activists pick up on his beliefs and decide to organize a boycott of the film, they get coverage and support. Consider an opposite scenario, where I decide that Tom Cruise and his crazy practice of scientology is too much for me, so I organize a boycott of his film. Even if I got all of the Mormons in the state to boycott the film, I doubt I’d generate the firestorm that is surely coming this fall. That’s one half of the problem.

Now I arrive at my main point. Orson Scott Card could believe he worshiped a giant panda in outer space and I’d still see his movies, if they were good. The same first amendment rights that allow musical “artist” and general douchebag Macklemore to sing/talk his way through seven minutes of his own opinion is the same first amendment that lets Orson Scott Card or Dan Cathy express their own opinion. If you plan on skipping Ender’s Game because Orson Scott Card is “intolerant”, I hope you see the irony in refusing to acknowledge his view out of your absolute belief in your own. Tolerance, after all, is not a one way street. Get over yourself and try to enjoy a good movie.

Or don’t. Go make signs and demonstrate at your local theater. Who knows….you just might make it on the news.