On a dark, cold evening in Manhattan, I was sitting with a friend in the back of a mini-van. Jammed between us in the way-back, in a huge luxe car-seat, sat my friend’s four-year old daughter. The sliding door was open. We were waiting for her other Mom.
They were visiting from California. The kid was miserable, off-schedule, and over-tired from a long day of Manhattan. Her eyes were glassy with tears she was too tired to squeeze out. Suddenly she pushed back in a rigid get-me-out-of-this-car-seat arc. In the dark, the whites of her Mom’s eyes had that “She’s gonna blow any second” panicked look.
I whispered to my small friend, “You want me to tell you a story?” She whimpered yes and relaxed back in her seat. I asked, “Do you want hear the one about the good little girl? Or the one about the bad little girl?”
Not to brag, but my bad little girl stories are post-Disney awesome. I was already storyboarding a narrative arc about how the bad little girl made her other mother’s life a living hell when she finally got in the freezing, friggin’ van. Without the friggins of course.
But my small friend had locked me in a puzzled look. Her Mom leaned in and explained, “In our family, we don’t say people are bad or good. They’re just people. She’s confused.”
I was not confused. I asked semi-sweetly, “Would you like to hear the story about Hitler?” Her mom gave me a vicious clip to the back the head. I saw stars.
That dear girl is grown up and is going to college next year. She wants to major in political science and then work in international peace and social justice. I’m not sure if she has maintained the “Up With People” ethic of her youth.
I’ve tried a few times since that night to learn from the children and give people the benefit of the doubt. But it turns out I’m no good at it. I could never emcee a Benefit of the Doubt dinner. People are good or they are bad, they are not just people. And chances are if they do not have a sense of justice, they are bad people. I am willing to be wrong, happy to be shown differently.
Despite rosy pictures of the American people’s shifting shine on LGBTQ people, there are plenty who still hate our guts.
In an interview on a trade junket to Europe Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker said he would have to punt a question on evolution. He who himself is living proof that there is no evolution, was roundly mocked. Back home to show his conservative street cred in his bid for the presidency, Walker announced he would block hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples. I am quite comfortable saying he is a bad person who will do anything to become President Evil.
Arkansas GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson said he would not veto a bill that would protect a group already protected under state law. Sound okay? In fact the mealy mouthed bill would ban cities, towns and counties in the state from protecting LGBTQ people in housing, employment or public accommodation. I am happy to call out the banality of his badness.
The thing about bad is that it never stops. Just when you think you can sit back on your LGBTQ victory laurels, the zomboids come back at you in full frontal assault or relentless chipping away. As you might suspect I am sad that the blowhard character Stephen Colbert created is off the air, soon to be followed by Jon Stewart from the Daily Show. I wish them well. They didn’t cotton to the lazy fair notion that people are neither good nor bad. We must continue to heap steaming piles of ridicule, mockery and revulsion upon bad people.
Do you want to hear the story about Jeb Bush?