Freedom Summer? Oh, please

Pride month

From the National Endowment of the Humanities (Steve Johnson -

The Washington Post (behind a paywall) notes: “As part of what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is calling ‘Freedom Summer,’ his Transportation Department has told cities across the state that if they want to light up their bridges at night, they can only use the colors red, white and blue.”

Yeah, I know it’s symbolic, and all that. Still, to dub an anachronistic policy after the activism of 1964 means, to quote Inigo Montoya in the movie The Princess Bride, “I do not think it means what you think it means.” 

Sixty years ago, people traveled through Mississippi to register Black voters who had been thwarted from voting because of punitive laws and fear of retribution. Volunteers also established Freedom Schools, libraries, and community centers for the Black community in small towns.

(One of those volunteers was David Kabat, whose sister Julie – who I know  – wrote about him and the movement in Love Letter From A Pig, which she talked about before a performance of Three Mothers.)

“The[Florida] order — which was shared by Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue on social media recently — means that bridges across the state that normally illuminate in colorful arrays of light to mark holidays or awareness events won’t be able to use any other colors from May 27 through Sept. 2.”

During the 1964 summer, scores of people were arrested, some beaten. Black churches, businesses, and homes were bombed or burned, and several folks were murdered.

“‘As Floridians prepare for Freedom Summer, Florida’s bridges will follow suit, illuminating in red, white, and blue from Memorial Day through Labor Day!’ Perdue wrote on X. ‘Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida continues to be the freest state in the nation.'”

The sound you hear is me gagging

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar notes in his Substack column: “It is clear that DeSantis especially wants to target the LGBTQ+ community by denying them the ability to display Pride colors during the Pride month of June. But his ban also affects other light displays during the summer: orange for National Gun Awareness Month; yellow for Women’s Equality Day; and red, black, and green for Juneteenth.” 

I looked for articles that showed what I’ve already seen: a concerted effort to roll back gains by LGBTIQ+ folks, and a palpable fear in the community. Many are from 2023.

GLAAD: “Each of the previous two years—2022 and 2021—were record-setting years for anti-LGBTQ legislation, and the public rhetoric around these issues has increased since then.”

SPLC: “A central theme of anti-LGBTQ organizing and ideology is the opposition to LGBTQ rights or support of homophobia, heterosexism and/or cisnormativity often expressed through demonizing rhetoric and grounded in harmful pseudoscience that portrays LGBTQ people as threats to children, society and often public health.”

The Trevor Project: “75% of LGBTQ youth say that both anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and threats of violence against LGBTQ spaces often give them stress or anxiety.”

Homeland Security(!): “To protect against these increasing threats, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with support from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has launched the LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership.”


From UN Women in May 2024: “State and non-state actors in many countries are attempting to roll back hard-won progress and further entrench stigma, endangering the rights and lives of LGBTIQ+ people. These movements use hateful propaganda and disinformation to target and attempt to delegitimize people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and sex characteristics. ”

As in other civil rights arenas, fighting against bigotry is arguably more important now than ever. Also true: you think you’ve won the day, only to find out that you still have to fight the battle that you thought had already been litigated.

Meh. It’s exhausting. And necessary, unfortunately. 

July rambling: False Equivalence

Concert by Peter Sprague and Rebecca Jade

No Labels: The Party of False Equivalence

djt’s Attacks on the Legal System Are a Preview of How He Plans to Govern, so Authoritarianism Will Be on the Ballot

The Steep Cost of Ron DeSantis’s Vaccine Turnabout and Republican Deaths in Florida, Ohio Linked to COVID vaccine Politics

Nikki Haley Calls for ‘Generational Change’ Then Declares She Would Support a Second djt Term

The Rogue Court vs. Modern Democracy

Arrgh. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) argued at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that a tweet from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about baseball legend Hank Aaron’s death after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine was “just pointing out facts.” 

My Sister Lucy’s Death and Life: Picturing an Alternate Timeline of Recovery By Amy Biancolli

Irish Singer Sinéad O’Connor Dies at 56

The Emotional Recession Is Here

More Americans Are Living Alone

National Marriage and Divorce Rates Declined From 2011 to 2021

F-Rated Charities Receive Top Ratings & Seals From Nonprofit Trade Associations

Streaming Giants Have a Local TV News Problem

Comic books took center stage for the first time in more than a decade at Comic-Con

Bruce Lee & Me: A reflection on the 50th anniversary of my friend’s death by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Why We Say “Pardon My French,” “It’s All Greek to Me,” and Other National Idioms

The CJ Cregg Memorial Globe

Now I Know: How iTunes Saved Dunder Mifflin and The Third Little Pig’s Guide to Computer Hardware and Where There’s a Way, There’s a Will?


Two recent events have merged in my mind.  One was the video for Jason Aldean’s Try That In A Small Town. A right-wing online site I follow – so you don’t have to – calls it a fake controversy.

The song was released in May, but “not a peep from the perpetually offended. Another two months passed before his label released the video, and then the left unleashed the Kraken.” Bands and labels release videos so that more people listen to the song. Duh.

Not incidentally, after the controversy, streams for the song jumped 999 percent.

“If the words were offensive and scare-wordy ‘racist,’ why didn’t they seize and pounce on them when the song was first put out? Because there is nothing offensive or racist about the lyrics.”

Or because most racism exists without anyone using the N-word or whatever. Modern bigotry is coded with dog whistles. As someone wrote, “The lyrics alone are coded just enough to maintain plausible deniability.” Conversely, the video centered on a Tennessee courthouse that was the site of a famous lynching

Indeed, the song is part of a long legacy with a very dark side. “Betsy Phillips, a writer for the Nashville Scene…  explains: ‘There were at least two lynchings in Columbia, but I can’t stress enough that there were many, many lynchings in the surrounding counties.’

“Asked whether she believes Aldean had direct knowledge of the Maury County Courthouse’s frightening history, Phillips points to interviews where Aldean has boasted, ‘I haven’t read a book since high school.'”

An editor for a small-town newspaper notes: “While Aldean’s lyrics may seem flattering to small towns, they do the opposite. They do damage to our efforts to be welcoming communities. The song doesn’t inspire; it divides. It doesn’t promote small towns; it stereotypes and diminishes them.”

Several people on social media mentioned Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who tried jogging in a small town and was murdered by gun-toting racists. I immediately thought of Arbery, Emmett Till,  Trayvon Martin, Mathew Shepherd, sundown towns, and other manifestations of bigotry that Aldean may not be familiar with. 

Only heroes

This segues into the DeSantis-approved version of American racial history. “Florida wants to tell a story about race in America that has heroes but no villains. This is in line with the demands of DeSantis’ Stop WOKE Act, which requires that students be indoctrinated with an upbeat narrative.”

A Florida textbook publisher disallowed mentioning Rosa Parks was Black in one of their books because of the act.

“By banning an AP course on African-American studies, banning books about race, sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity in various school districts… DeSantis is showing he intends to not only purge Black history — he intends to rewrite it so that the ugly parts sound beautiful. This is a deliberate effort to gaslight citizens and teach children to believe the U.S. was always great, not because chattel slavery didn’t exist, but because it did.”

It’d be like saying Jews could avoid the Holocaust by being useful. Wait, someone from Fox news essentially did say that.

To the degree that enslaved people learned skills, they were designed for the enslaver to exploit further. An 1856 editorial in the Richmond Enquirer tells the truth: “Democratic liberty exists solely because we have slaves … freedom is not possible without slavery.” OK, “freedom” for those of power and privilege.

Also, in 7 of the 16 examples described by Florida education officials,  the people were not enslaved at all. Lewis Latimer was born to free, self-liberated parents in 1848 before he worked on the development of the telephone. Henry Blair, Paul Cuffe, John Chavis, and entrepreneur James Forten were other examples provided by Florida, despite them being born free.

Aldean said, “What I am is a proud American. I’m proud to be from here. I love our country, and I want to see it restored to what it once was before all this bulls— started happening to us. I love our country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that. I’ll tell you that right now.”

In the “good old days,” ignorance was bliss… at least for some people. “They won’t listen. Do you know why? Because they have certain fixed notions about the past. Any change would be blasphemy in their eyes, even if it were the truth. They don’t want the truth; they want their traditions.” ― Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky.


Live(ish) at SpragueLand Episode 34 —Peter Sprague and Rebecca Jade – How Will I Know concert

Sinéad O’Connor’s Best: 12 of Her Finest Musical Moments

Andre Watts performs the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor by Camille Saint-Saens.

Coverville 1449: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees 2023 and 1450: Cover stories for Joan Osborne and Rufus Wainwright and 1451: Sinead O’Connor Tribute and Rolling Stones Cover Story

A selection of music about the moon

Hey Nineteen – Kent Nishimura on Solo Acoustic Guitar 

Common Tones in Simple Time – John Adams

For What It’s Worth –  MonaLisa Twins

News stories I’m not commenting on (much)

Disenfranchisement in Virginia

There are lots of news stories I’m following. But some I’m not commenting on (much) because I don’t know what to say that others haven’t said. Or that I haven’t said before.

ITEM: The shooting of three children and three adults at a Presbyterian church school in Nashville, TN. What can I say that I didn’t write about Sandy Hook or Parkland – undoubtedly more than once?

Friend Chuck noted regarding his weekly musical playlist, “This is an edited – and sadly, updated – broadcast from May 2022.” Because, as I saw in a Boston Globe headline, these repeated, repeated, repeated headlines – only the names and places change -risk making us numb to the madness.

I will note that “solving the mental health crisis” is an objectively good thing but a damn difficult thing to achieve.  When a Denver, CO, high school student was searched for weapons, he shot two administrators. He fled the scene and was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Interesting fact: “From 1980 to 2021, the US automobile fatality rate declined by 64%. From 2000 to 2021, American gun deaths increased by 56%.” We CAN do something. Bring back the 1994-2004 assault weapons ban. It’s not THE answer, but it is AN answer.

I won’t even get into the obviously bogus transphobia that spinners of the Nashville story have tried to insert.

Orange crush

ITEM: djt was indicted. I’m not jumping up and down for joy. For one thing, it’s merely an indictment. For another, I’m more interested in other possible indictments, which on the surface, appear to be more substantial cases about more significant wrongdoing, such as the attempt to manipulate the 2020 Presidential election in Georgia or fomenting insurrection on January 6.

SO many people pointed out that the government got mobster Al Capone for tax fraud.

Maybe I’ll do a happy dance if djt is CONVICTED of something. Still, I don’t mind if the New York Post calls him Bat Hit Crazy. 

ITEM: Virginia now has the harshest felony disenfranchisement voting regime in America. Thanks to Gov. Glenn Younkin, a Republican as though you couldn’t guess, Jim Crow is back! Depressing but unsurprising.

ITEM: “They banned Dolly Parton: Republicans want the dumbest parent at the school to control the curriculum.” The conventional wisdom is that people my age should become more conservative. But as the stories – some of which are linked in the story, such as banning a banning a movie about Ruby Bridges – get more inane…

ITEM: I LOVE how the Disney folks outmaneuvered the board that Governor Ron DeSatan, oops, I mean Desantis (R-FL) imposed on the company’s special district. “The agreement restricting the new board’s rights is ‘in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England living as of the date of this Declaration.'” And it is such an arcane maneuver that I laughed out loud when I read about it.

ITEM: Baseball season is here. As someone who still dislikes the designated hitter (instituted in 1973) and DESPISES the rule putting a runner on second base in extra-inning games(instituted in 2020), I find that I LIKE the pitcher/batter clock that was instituted in MLB spring training.

Ron DeSantis is a snowflake

Dreams from Our Founding Fathers:

DeSantisHaving spent too much time thinking about the Republican governor of Florida over his book bans and other nonsense, I had privately concluded that Ron DeSantis is a snowflake. As I looked up the term’s meaning, you might think, “Well, maybe.”

Wikipedia defines it as “a derogatory slang term for a person, implying that they have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are overly-emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions.”

On Last Week Tonight this month, John Oliver pointed to “a recent advertisement created by DeSantis and his team based on ‘Top Gun,’ which DeSantis’ camp called ‘Top Gov.’ In it, DeSantis is shown teaching new ‘recruits’ how to deal with the media, showing clips of how DeSantis himself has ‘never ever [backed] down from a fight.’

“In one clip, DeSantis seemingly stops a reporter from giving a ‘speech’ during a press conference. DeSantis is constantly complaining about the media taking him out of context. But in that particular clip, ‘he’s removing some pretty important context from the media,'” not letting her do her job.

Oliver notes, “He doesn’t hate all media – ‘even by Republican standards, the mutual affection between him and Fox is pretty extreme.’ During one four-month stretch, the network asked him to appear on air 113 times, nearly once a day, which is ‘just pathetic.'” Even a softball interview he did was pretty weird. 

Entitled, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing views? Check.

Diminishing freedom

DeSantis, and the Florida legislature, are leading forces in what Weekly Sift rightly describes as Imaginary problems, real laws, real victims. The  Stop WOKE Act and the Parental Rights in Education Act (a.k.a. Don’t Say Gay) have led to a functional book ban that DeSantis denied; he lies.  He has taken over the trustee board of the New College of Florida.  (Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, is offering admission to all NCF students to match their current cost of tuition. )

Not that Desantis is alone in his overreach. “To my knowledge, there has been no drag-queen crime wave. So why do legislators in 15 states find it necessary to pass anti-drag laws their states never needed before? The answer has more to do with changes in Republican politics than changes in American society.”  Mark Evanier noted that “the current move to restrict drag shows and people dressed unlike the norm for their gender — whatever that is these days — is ridiculous.”

The author

From Business Insider: DeSantis’ first book was his 2011 tome, Dreams from Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama. The book’s title aimed to criticize Obama by playing with the name of the president’s first memoir, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. “DeSantis even used a similar cover to the one Obama had…

“DeSantis was also critical of Obama personally, calling him ‘first in his own mind’ and saying, ‘he actually believed that he was a historically special figure.’ In one section of the book, DeSantis wrote that Obama lacked the humility of George Washington, the first US president.

“He wrote that Obama had a ‘palpable cockiness’ and ‘made outlandish claims about his own significance as an individual.’ “He accused the Obama campaign of having a ‘messianic posture.'” All of that is his right, even as he seemed as obsessed with BHO as DJT was/is.

“Eleven years later, the DeSantis campaign ran an ad during his 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign that intimated DeSantis was uniquely chosen by God as a ‘fighter.'” DeSantis seems to despise Obama and yet emulates the traits he said he hated in the 44th President.

White House

I don’t know whether he’s actually running for President, let alone how he’ll do.  Interestingly, some Republican members of Congress dissed him over calling the Ukraine war a “territorial dispute.” They must assume he is seeking higher office. 


Abortion access, #MeToo, and plastic surgery

Drivers of inequity are not simply the result of individual acts of discrimination

Here are some items I’ve come across recently that I thought were helpful. The first is a page from the Guttmacher Institute called Roe v. Wade Overturned: Our Latest Resources. The most recent piece: “Abortion access in the United States has long been inequitable, due in large part to systemic racism and insufficient protections for low-income individuals. This analysis shows that these disparities are widening following the fall of Roe v. Wade and compiles additional evidence on a wide range of topics related to inequity in abortion access.”

I was also interested in this: “Much of the US abortion debate has focused on whether state abortion bans include exceptions that allow the procedure in some circumstances, such as rape, incest or life-threatening pregnancy complications. In a new op-ed for Ms. magazine, Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute breaks down why focusing on these exceptions misses the bigger picture and even works to further the agenda of the anti-abortion movement. “

A useful site.

ITEM: One “Kentucky lawmaker… has proposed legislation that would allow the state to prosecute a person for criminal homicide if they get an illegal abortion.

“While the state has a trigger law banning abortion, the law in place targets doctors for performing abortions, as opposed to pregnant people who receive them. This new bill would subject all people involved to prosecution…

“Outside of abortion rights activists, the bill also received surprising backlash from anti-abortion groups and the state attorney general, who noted it would be wrong to charge women with homicide for terminating pregnancies. “

With such opposition, I don’t see this being enacted, fortunately.


ITEM: How Les Moonves and His CBS Loyalists Worked to Discredit Accuser: “It Was Sort of a Mafia Culture.”

“On Nov. 2, 2022, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she’d secured a $30.5 million settlement from CBS and its former president and CEO Leslie Moonves for misleading the company’s investors about his misconduct, concealing sexual assault allegations against him and related insider trading by another top CBS executive. Her office also released a 37-page report detailing how members of Moonves’ C-suite and others unsuccessfully sought to neutralize the crisis before it knocked off the top boss, tanked the share price, and gummed up a then-nascent merger with Viacom. It’s a damning case study in corporate complicity, control, and cover-up.”

Most predators need accomplices, either active or passive, to continue to exploit others.

Material Girl

ITEM: You’re Not Offended That Madonna’s Had Plastic Surgery—You’re Offended That You Can Tell

“I’ve noticed a number of prominent female-focused organizations posting on social media in defense of Madonna’s right to do what she wants with her body, only to face criticism from their followers, who have called the singer ‘hypocritical,’ ‘ disgrace,’ and someone who ‘needs help’…

“The fact is, we’re all victims of the toxic pressure to ‘make the best’ of ourselves and not ‘let ourselves go.’ But there’s also a double standard that emerges if we’re seen to care too much— ‘how sad that she thinks she has to do that to herself.’ If you don’t try to look younger, it’s an admission of defeat. But if you do, and it’s obvious, that’s an even greater crime—one that other famous women, from Demi Moore on the Fendi catwalk (‘gone overboard’) to Kristin Davis in And Just Like That (‘awful’), have also committed.

“Naomi Wolf wrote The Beauty Myth three decades ago, pointing out how women were being held back by unrealistic beauty standards. Yet a 2019 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that—surprise, surprise—we still face a Catch-22. “

I was a little surprised by my level of irritation toward those criticizing Madonna for making her own choices.

“We are all one in Christ”

ITEM: “Two years ago, an Orange County megachurch took a stand that pitted it against conservative members of its denomination. It ordained three women as pastors. The Southern Baptist Convention has now ousted Saddleback Church, its second-largest congregation.

“Saddleback was among five churches found not to be ‘in friendly cooperation’ with the convention because they ‘have a female functioning in the office of pastor,’ according to a statement from Jared Wellman, chairman of the convention’s executive committee.

“In 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention made its ban on female pastors part of its doctrine.”

What century is this again?

Yet another reason not to vote for Ron DeSantis

ITEM: “Right-wing think tank the Claremont Institute allowed [Scott Yenor of Boise State University] to serve as a fellow with its Center for the American Way of Life.

“Claremont—whose stated mission is ‘to save Western civilization’—installed him in Florida as a Tallahassee-based “inaugural” senior director of state coalitions opposed to ‘woke leftism.’

Claremont President Ryan Williams announced the appointment “after he met with [Florida governor and potential Presidential candidate Ron] DeSantis in Tallahassee. Williams afterward praised ‘the bold executive and legislative leadership in the Sunshine State,’ adding that DeSantis had established ‘the first template of any red state in America.’

In a 2021 talk, Scott Yenor said women with careers are “medicated, meddlesome, and quarrelsome.”

“He said society should stop thinking of a girl ‘as a future worker or a future achiever, and start thinking of them as future wives and mothers.’

And, he advised, ‘if we want a great nation, we should be preparing young women to become mothers. Not finding every reason for young women to delay motherhood until they are established in a career or sufficiently independent.’

“If that isn’t alarming enough, Yenor also declared that great nations ‘are ultimately built by strong, responsible, sacrificial male leadership.’

Feminism? He sees it as a dire threat to the American way of life because ‘it teaches young boys and girls that they are motivated by much the same things and want much the same things.'”

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