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6:27 am EDT 64°F (18°C) in South Rockwood, MI
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Finally, after a month of May that has been consistently ten degrees (or about 6°C) below normal, we are beginning to see warmer temperatures here in southeast Michigan. We’re not by any means done with the cold, as tomorrow night’s low (technically in the wee hours of Wednesday morning) is forecast to be below 40°F (4°C) with frost possible a bit north of here. That is definitely not normal late-May weather in these parts.
In my last update, I said that I was going to write an update about how progressives need to start doing a much better job of taking their message to the grass-roots level. This post has been inspired by a billboard that I pass semi-regularly while working; it is located along eastbound Interstate 94 near milepost 154 here in Michigan, just barely west of the Jackson/Washtenaw county line, between the towns of Grass Lake and Chelsea. A Jackson-based anti-reproductive-freedom outfit rented the sign a couple months ago, and has posted the following unsubstantiated lie: “What if you’re wrong? 90% of women who had abortions say they were wrong!”
Beyond pointing out that this 90% claim is based on a pseudo-scientific, non-representative sample — that is, maybe 90% of post-abortive women into whom the Christofascists manage to get their claws will say under torture that they were wrong — I’m really not even going to address the claim. Instead, I intend to hold it up as a perfect example of how conservatives and Christofascists do a far better job of getting their Satan-filled message out to their grass roots. If progressives ever hope to actually influence the direction of this country, beyond maybe winning an election or two when people get tired of the Rethuglicans, this is a lesson that must be learned quickly and well.
Take a drive anywhere on the Interstates in rural, conservative America, and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Interstate 70 in Missouri sticks out in my mind as a great example: every third billboard is some kind of Christofascist anti-choice propaganda, especially in the more rural parts of the route. Turn on your radio while you take the said rural drive, and particularly east of the Rockies, I would challenge you to find a station that isn’t one of (a) country music, (b) conservative political talk, or (c) Christofascist propaganda — believe me, it’s not easy to do. If you’re lucky, you might even see conservative and/or Christofascist operatives committing crimes against property, such as they did in Indianapolis a year ago to billboards rented by a gay-affirming church.
What do progressives, liberals, and Democrats do? They give speeches and press conferences, and then they figure that the media will take care of getting their message out for them. This worked in days past, perhaps, but one must bear in mind the three-decade Rethuglican campaign to push the myth of a so-called “liberal media” in revenge for the resignation of Richard Nixon. That, combined with a virtual media ownership monopoly by large multi-national corporations, has given the media a solidly conservative, pro-Christofascist, pro-Rethuglican bent — yet the Democrats continue in this utterly self-defeating strategy.
This must change. We must start getting our message out to the grass roots of America, in ways that are just as ruthless and shocking as those used by the Reich wing. In order to promote reproductive freedom, I would recommend billboards that show a silhouette of a woman with a coat hanger in one hand and a pool of blood between her legs. Hell, for that matter, use a real image of that — it’s not as if Christofascists have any compunctions about using real images of fetuses. It would also work wonders to deface and/or vandalize Christofascist billboards; for example, “LIES LIES LIES” on that billboard on I-94 would get the message across nicely.
On that note, I would recommend that we focus our efforts on billboards that are high off the ground and difficult for those not in the sign industry to reach. That way, we do two things: (1) we prevent vandalism of billboards containing our message, and (2) we force Christofascists and conservatives to rent the boards that are lower to the ground, where we can much more easily correct their untruths.
Mind you, I don’t intend that this be a one-medium PR campaign confined to billboards on freeways. We can make far more effective use of print and broadcast media, such as newspapers and television, than we are doing right now. In fact, on the topic of gay equality in America, I have sort of half-formulated scripts for a series of TV ads that can be run by our advocacy organizations, and I have the crazy idea to spend $6 million to run the first of the series at halftime of the Super Bowl — which is exactly when those who most need to see that message will be exposed to it. That would also be perfect timing in the year, because the Daytona 500 is two weeks later — believe you me, the NASCAR crowd really needs to hear the message that we’re here, we’re an integral, necessary part of society, and we’re tired of third-class citizenship. I might begin to detail those scripts this morning if I had more than 25 minutes left before heading to bed, but that will have to wait for another time.
I also promised I would say more about the recent California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the Golden State. Again, time is short right now, but I did want to mention one thing that struck me about the dissenting opinions. Running all through the dissents was a visible undercurrent of Christofascist talking points: things like “millenia-old tradition,” “re-defining marriage,” “activist judges,” and so forth. What the three dissenting judges are implicitly admitting is that the only case against marriage equality is an explicitly Christofascist one — in other words, a constitutionally invalid one, given the First Amendment’s prohibition of laws respecting an establishment of religion.
OK, I have to be off to bed. Enjoy all your Memorial Day barbecues today, while I get to work hauling fuel around.