Does anyone in this country think before they speak anymore? Maybe it's because I work in public relations by day, but I can't fathom how stupid some people can be. Take Stan Weatherford, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, who very recently told an African-American couple — two days before their wedding — that he couldn't marry them in his church, which they attend, because some of the congregants were uncomfortable with black people getting married there.
Did he not foresee the public outcry and the backlash the entire state is experiencing now? Did he think, in a time where everyone is under a microscope and every move you make can be tweeted, posted on Facebook, and uploaded to YouTube, that this move would go unnoticed and not cause a mythologically sized stink? Could anyone really be that ignorant? I guess the deeper question is, why in the world did he acquiesce to the apparently few congregants who complained? And why have they not been publicly outed? I would like to know who they are. My hunch is that they are major donors to the church, but I could be wrong.
And speaking of donors, I am no tax expert, but shouldn't this church lose its tax-exempt status because of this discrimination? Shouldn't it start having to pay its share of property taxes? I realize this would punish those in the church who aren't racists, but maybe the ones who are and who blocked the wedding should pay the taxes out of their own pockets. If I lived in Mississippi, I would refuse to pay one more penny in taxes until this happened.
And speaking of the other, non-racist church members, did Weatherford not expect that they would feel total and complete humiliation? Mississippi governor Phil Bryant is not much better, calling the incident "unfortunate" and saying any couple should be allowed to be married in any church as long as it's a man and a woman. "Unfortunate"? Really? How about "totally, f-ing, miserably racist, idiotic, moronic, hillbilly, Neanderthal crap"? And why does he think it's bad to discriminate against African-Americans but okay to do so against gay people? Governor, for your information, being gay is not a choice, and I doubt your family would be torn to shreds if a man married a man or a woman married a woman in Mississippi.
The sad thing is that the entire state will take the brunt of all this from around the world, and Mississippi is actually a very cool place. Think of all the people it has given the world: Rufus Thomas, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Morgan Freeman, Parker Posey, William Faulkner, Sam Cook, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, B.B. King, Eudora Welty, Elvis Presley, Tennessee Williams — the list goes on and on. Mississippi has probably contributed more to American culture than any other state in the country and produced some of the most forward-thinking people in history. It's a shame that the little pea brains of a few racists are now causing this ugly shadow to hover over the state. I hope they are satisfied with themselves. Or not. Maybe they will actually learn something from this. I have my doubts.
Same with the current gay/chicken wars. You know, you just gotta love the old U.S. of A. when the debate about equality, gay rights, and the right of any two people to get married boils down to which nasty fast-food restaurant to boycott and which one to support. I haven't kept myself totally abreast of this new battle over the bird, so I'll have to wing it, but the best thigh-slapper I've seen so far was on the local news, when one prominent Memphis minister said on air and standing in front of a Chick-fil-A that he was there to support the "freedom-loving, chicken-eating Christians." They flocked together like birds of a feather and lined up for blocks around Chick-fil-A franchises in 100-degree heat to get 'em some of what the pastor referred to as "gospel bird," in support of the company's CEO Dan Cathy coming out publicly against gay marriage. Pretty fowl, if you ask me (okay, okay) and another very strange public relations move on his part.
If your business is selling chicken sandwiches to the public, why do you need to espouse your personal beliefs on gay marriage? You already give money to anti-gay organizations that try to "convert" gay people. Is that not enough? Why divide a nation over gay chicken vs. straight chicken? And why do we let ourselves be divided when it comes to chicken? Is no one embarrassed by anything anymore? Hath y'all no shame? Do you not care that you're making this country a laughingstock all around the world? Do you care so much about being against gay marriage that you feel compelled to clog your arteries with fried food just to prove it? Whatever. Just keep on keeping on with your freedom-loving, chicken-eating Christian selves and have a grand old time. Just don't have a cow if you eat too much.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...