Author Archives: gregory

In Belated Memorium For Billy Preston 1946-2006

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September 5, 2011 – by Gregory Franklyn

I was out looking for things to take pictures of with my new camera yesterday and I was driving up Martin Luther King Boulevard when I spotted a dear friend with whom I had fallen deeply in love about a decade ago. He was hot and sweaty because it was about 90 degrees out and was carrying a rubber trash can over his shoulder, which seemed strangely fitting. You see, my friend suffers from Crack Addiction. One of the most severe cases of the disease I’ve seen so far.

Legend has it, the last time he was well was in High School. He was quite the BMOC at the time and married early. No surprise there, he was a magnificent sight even in the deteriorated condition he was in when I met him. Any young girl, or boy for that matter, would have fallen all over themselves trying to get with him. He ‘s a tall emaciated string of knots now, but in the day I hear he was a mountain of graceful sculpture. He’s intelligent, observant, and makes friends easily with a charm that makes him seem even bigger than he is. He has always lit up any room I was in, at least in part because of the love I feel for him.

He didn’t notice me as I waved so I pulled over to the curb nearly 2 blocks behind him. I was going to speak with him because I missed him and hadn’t seen him in a while. But I stopped myself because as I sat there watching him walk away I realized how sick he is and how miserably I failed to help him out of his unfortunate life a decade ago.

At that moment, sitting there in my car, I felt sad for both of us. Him, for the life he has to live because of the politics of addiction, and me because, try as I might, I was never enough to him to be of any real help. To his credit, and mine I suppose, when we were together he was making some real effort to deal with his disease. But, that was 10 years, of sucking on that glass dick, ago. Among the many things I love about this guy is his work ethic and his integrity. Even in the face of what a crack head has to go through to keep feeding that beast, he was still able to maintain some dignity about himself.

His character as a man has always amazed me and I wish I had known him before he got sick. It’s kind of sad that had he not been sick, we probably never would have met. As I hear it, he was way way up there on the “A List” of the cool kids and I was, clearly, not!

Later that night I was flipping through channels when I came upon a documentary about Billy Preston. Those of you who were born Post-Beatles will probably not remember him, but he has a huge impact on my growth and development with an album he did called “I Wrote a Simple Song”. His claim to fame was his moniker of being the 5th Beatle. He played keyboards on their last two albums and was likely the reason they stayed together long enough to finish them. He also toured with the Rolling Stones as a sideman and was in Ray Charles’ and Little Richards’ bands for years. At 9 years old, he was a guest on Nat King Cole’s TV show and played piano FOR Nat, while Nat sang. NINE YEARS OLD!

The Album I’m referring to, “I Wrote a Simple Song”

I was 20 years old and living in Phoenix Arizona with about 6 others in a little 70s drug commune type of arrangement on Solano Drive. I had just been to the record store and was clutching my prize close to my chest on my way home. I put the record on and dropped a hit of particularly good LSD and laid down on my waterbed to listen.

Somewhere near 9 hours later my room-mates burst into my room and demanded that I change the record. I fell in love with Billy Preston that day. What I felt, and still feel, when I listen to that record is a kind of fun, joy, excitement and not a little bit of stirring down in my nether regions.

I’ll spare you the intimate details, but let’s just say that it’s possible to have an orgasm without touching yourself. To this day I’m grateful that didn’t happen while my house-mates were storming into my room to demand that I play something else for a while. It was one of those records like Brenda Russell’s  “Piano In The Dark” that once I heard it, I couldn’t bear the sound of anything else for WEEKS on end.

What I didn’t know until last evening is that my hero, in addition to being a genius musician who played with the A List of people of his time and whom we now consider legendary geniuses, was also gay! Not many people talk about that and it’s unfortunate. Partly because guys like me, and it turns out Billy Preston himself, had to struggle so deeply with our sexuality and self esteem because no one was talking about it. We had to make it on our own, mostly without help.

Looking back on that experience I can ‘t help but think that Billy Preston reached me so deeply because he was able to communicate through his genius in music that what I was feeling inside was not just OK, but an actual gift that not everyone gets to have. He was a kindred spirit even though I didn’t know it at the time. It’s clear that he didn’t know what he was saying at the time either. I learned from the documentary that he struggled with being gay for his whole life because of his upbringing in the church. Wow, me too!

As you know, God is said to look down on the idea of same gender relationships that include sex. God is SAID to look down on such, by people who don’t understand homosexuality, or are struggling with it themselves. The documentary talked about Billy’s struggle with the same disease my friend from earlier yesterday had, as well! Same one I have, too. With my cigarettes!

However, I am here to testify that somewhere inside of Billy Preston, coming out through his music, was the knowledge of how much of a gift being selected to go through this life as a gay person really is and I will always hold a special place in my soul for his trying to tell me that on his album “I Wrote a Simple Song” way back then. Maybe he was trying to tell himself too, but it changed what I felt about myself on an subconscious level, if not a conscious one. I hope it had the same effect on him.

Looking back, it was around that time in my life when I stopped doing drugs and started looking at my life as if there were a future for me in addition to a past that I’d rather not revisit, and I believe to this day that album had some part in that discovery. I may not have realized it at the time, but another like soul was reaching out to mine. I learned from the documentary that he eventually, if too late, did settle with his sexuality and recovered from his illness with crack shortly before his unfortunate demise in 2006.

I thought it was strange, and maybe a bit of a signal, about what had happened to me earlier that day while sitting in my car thinking about speaking with my friend who was sick, and then seeing this documentary about one of my personal heroes who suffered from the same disease. Here’s what came up for me:

I don ‘t like Crack! It ‘s nothing personal, I just don ‘t like it and I’ve never held bad feelings about people who think they DO like it. I have some friends who have been doing it for years and they’re still my friends and I still love them. I love them from a bit of a distance now because of some of the more unsavory symptoms of the disease but I do love them still.

I also have some friends who have done it and have been able to leave it behind and I cheer for them, inside. I consider it a blessing to have been there to see that happen for them. I just don ‘t want it in my life because you don’t even have to suck that glass dick for it to ruin big swaths of your life. Just being an innocent bystander is enough. If you’re nearby, you’re going to feel the effects of the symptoms of addiction.

BUT, addiction is not a criminal justice issue. It is a MEDICAL one. These people are sick, not criminal. In every case I’ve seen, criminal activity is a symptom of the disease, not a cause. People who are sick commit crimes BECAUSE they are sick, not because they are criminals.

We are fighting a war with crimes we have created by misunderstanding the nature of illness in general and the disease of addiction in particular. I favor legalizing ALL of it even though I have little personal interest in doing drugs anymore (aside from my cigarettes, of course).

We should be putting our money into treatment for a medical disease that is eating my friend alive. Our response to drugs destroys way more families and individual lives than any drug ever dreamed of. It’s like our War on Terror. We’ve done most of the destruction to our country ourselves by acting out our fears instead of our vision for peace or healing.

What also came up for me is this: Religion is the single most powerful force of evil in the lives of my fellow GLBT folks, probably everyone else too, but that ‘s a discussion for another day. I can testify, personally, to that truth and I can point to Billy Preston and any number of other heroes right here in my life who live tragic lives of self doubt because someone in the church, that they looked up to for guidance and direction in times of confusion, told them that who they are as a person is wrong in the eyes of God, and they believed it because they thought they were SUPPOSED to! That is the single biggest, most destructive, lie I have ever heard and it is STILL being told by people who SAY they are speaking in the name of a loving creator, in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

And lastly, What came up for me is that maybe my judgment was a little off yesterday when I let my friend with the trash can on his shoulder keep walking without stopping him to speak for a while. He’s worth it as a human being and I still love him and miss him so much. Maybe I should have stopped him and tried again. It’s 10 years later, he’s surely been through a lot in that time. Maybe now, after all that, I might be enough to reach his soul like Billy Preston was able to do for me at what turned out to be a critical juncture in my life… Maybe….and while I ‘m thinking of it; (Aside to Billy Preston) Happy Trails my brother, and thank you for everything! Will It Go Round In Circles? I certainly hope so, Billy!

With Much Love From Gregory Leon Franklyn, A kid you helped become a man!

Corporations, Free Speech & Avocados

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January 24, 2010 – By Gregory Franklyn

This week the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision that removes any restrictions on the amount of money a corporation can expend in a political campaign. I was able to get through a small portion of the 183 page dissertation but had read enough to understand its fundamental flaw. As Supreme Court decisions are supposed to be, it was limited to very narrow considerations of intricately limited facts at issue based on an existing premise. The case involves a Documentary by Citizens United that is relentlessly critical of the Presidential Candidacy of then Senator Hillary Clinton.

The court ruled that previous restrictions on contributions to political elections by corporations were constitutionally faulted and made corrections to “Clean House” of conflicting rulings from the past as regards the First Amendment Right to free speech. They, in essence, threw out select decided law by choosing one, of two or more, conflicting decisions they preferred and overturning the ones that contradicted them. The decisions were subjective as evidenced by the split between conservatives and liberals on the court. There are more conservatives on the Court than liberals so the conservative subjective won. This is what is called Judicial Activism.

My argument with this decision is even more fundamental than anything the Court considered. The Court relied on a premise that a corporation, in the same way as a person, has first amendment protection of free speech. The Court appears to approach the First Amendment from the ethereal position that free speech is protected regardless of the identity of the speaker. Placing the protection before the protected. Another way of putting it would be that the Court sees the right as applying universally to all. Under this reasoning, if an avocado could communicate in a way that could be processed or understood, that avocado’s right to free speech would be protected by the Constitution. This is really good news for robots and droids and artificial life forms like corporations.

My disagreement with the Court is this. I approach the First Amendment from the position that the speaker, must have the capacity, of his or her own volition, to speak (or communicate in the case of someone who is differently abled) independently. The intent of the First Amendment is to allow and protect dissent. Dissent requires reasoning. The “protected” is the direct cause of the “protection”. In short, an avocado’s speech is not protected because an avocado cannot communicate in a manner that can be processed or understood.

I cannot conceptualize how an avocado has the capacity to dissent. It could be argued that an avocado dying because of global warming is a form of speech, of protest, if you will. But I argue that the avocado dies as a result of global warming and not out of reasoning to dissent against the forces causing global warming.

A corporation is a legal entity. It is created by law. It cannot vote, it cannot be arrested or put in jail, it cannot be counted in a census so as to be represented by a senator or representative. It is, at its core, ethereal. Its only existence is dependent upon our thoughts about it and, outside our thoughts, has no existence what-so-ever! Although a corporation IS a being, it is a purely artificial one, created out of nothing, that exists only because we say it exists. It does not have the capacity to reason or dissent independently.

I also disagree with the ruling that money is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment, but that’s a whole other discussion for another day and probably wouldn’t matter much if corporations were not protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. The Court has acknowledged the corruptive influence of money in politics. They limited the amount of money an individual can contribute to a political campaign to $2,500. That is unless you ‘re a corporation, in which case there is now, no limit. Although a legitimate tool of communication and advocacy, money should be considered different from other communication tools under the law because of that influence. Money impacts the affairs of state in a different manner than any other communication tool and should be considered differently under the law for that reason.

Here’s where this ruling gets REALLY crazy for me. The Court holds that a corporation, which is an artificial being, has the same rights as an individual, but I, who can vote, who can be arrested and put in jail, who can be counted in a census so as to be represented by a Senator and a Representative, who is, in fact a living breathing being that can reason and dissent independently, do not!

I ‘m a gay man and the Court still holds that I do not have the right or the freedom to marry whom I choose based solely upon my gender. If I’m not mistaken, gender is specifically spelled out in the Constitution as a protected class being singled out so there won’t be any gray area about the fact that I should be included in all rights and freedoms granted by our Constitution! WTF?

According to this Court, not only do I lack the same rights and freedoms as an ethereal concept, like a corporation, I don ‘t even have the same constitutional protection that this Court, by its own reasoning, gives to a frigging avocado!

Much Love,

Gregory

Mother Theresa V God

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5/6/2009 By Gregory Franklyn

I don’t know if I ‘m alone here or not, but the passing of Mother Theresa last month coupled with the release of some of her letters and other writings brings up a couple of significant points that I HOPE is making people think a little differently about religious teaching in general and (because it ‘s the tradition I ‘m most familiar with) Christianity in particular.

I feel like I need to mention that I am not an Atheist even though a legitimate argument can be made that I often sound like one! I do share a disdain for “Religion” with Atheists and agree wholeheartedly with the lion ‘s share of what they say about the worship of God. It appears, from Mother Theresa ‘s writings, that I ‘m in pretty good company on this Sunday Morning!

This remarkable woman was a GLOBAL Icon of FAITH in God! She won a Nobel Prize for it, for Christ ‘s sake! (Literally!) She personified proper adherence to the “Religious” teachings of Christianity. She followed the Christian playbook so closely that she became the Icon, the living example, of how it should be done. Not even the POPE, ANY Pope, has had the Christian “Street Cred” that Mother Theresa had!

Because of these writings I have a LOT more respect for Mother Theresa now than I ever had while she was alive. I had pretty much written her off as a religious robot. A woman who responded with near perfection to what Christianity teaches right down to the last letter in the playbook. I could recognize it in her because I had spent the bulk of my youth doing the same thing! Not NEARLY as well, mind you, but that was my intent and I was good enough at it to have to spend the rest of my life, so far, recovering from the damage caused by it!

What I never suspected of her was that she was a living breathing THINKING human being underneath all that Christian propaganda. She got screwed by what I call “The Romantic Christian Fantasy”. Every religion has it ‘s own version of it. The trappings of religion, that being, what the proponents of that particular religion created around it to recruit for the religion and advance its worldly cause. You might equate it to the platform of a political party. At its core, that is what a religion IS, after all. A man made political platform for a world view.

I believe her very heart was in what she was reflecting to the world. However, it was all based on a story and a socio-spiritual structure that had been twisted, molded, reconfigured and manipulated over two millennia into a grotesque assault on the core of what the story was really about. I ‘m so delighted that she recognized that before she left! It ‘s had a tremendous impact on me to know that. I feel a little bit less alone this Sunday because I had a sister all these years and didn’t even know it.

Mother Theresa became so totally disillusioned about the Christianity that she was taught by the Church that she decided that she didn’t believe in God at all. Having gone through much of the same training, I agree with her. The way God is portrayed by religions is unbelievable for a very good reason! IT ‘S NOT TRUE! That ‘s why all religions rely on the concept of “Faith” to keep folks in the fold. If they didn’t push the “Faith” button all the time, people would realize that they are being fed a political agenda about a particular world view and likely start looking for truth. Truth is not a very good thing for religions. It challenges their political platform.

God Bless you Mother Theresa, for recognizing that you had been screwed before you left. I think more of you because you trusted yourself, and had enough strength of character to even consider the possibility that the church may have been wrong about God all along. But, my dear sister, you were not screwed by God, you were screwed by an organization that presents itself as representative of God. You were screwed by PEOPLE with a political agenda for a world view.

The fact that Mother Theresa did NOT stop doing what she was doing because of her epiphany about the existence of God, is equally important to me. It brings up an issue that all religions push as part of their agenda. “Without faith in God there would be no reason to do good works and the entire planet would descend into selfish chaos and bloodshed!” All religions teach that if you do not believe in God then you are automatically a homicidal sociopath.

Also not true and Mother Theresa came to my rescue on that point too! There ARE Natural laws at work in the world that CAN be proven. Karma is a law that states that what you create, or bring forth in the world will, at some point return to you. Good will and bad will are both included. Charles Manson is getting his and Mother Theresa is getting hers too!

Mother Theresa put love, care and work into the world and she is now at peace and her memory is loved, appreciated and imitated by uncountable people the world over (today, including me) and Charles Manson suffers the fate of existing in his own twisted mind for the rest of his life followed by a memory of disrespect and abhorrence.

Mother Theresa found a reason OTHER than God to continue a life of service to her fellow inhabitants of earth. Who knows what that reason may have been, but it disproves the teaching of ALL religions that I mentioned. If you do good works, you create a more loving place to exist. That can be proven. If you do bad works you create a more hostile environment in which to exist. That, also, can be proven and the existence or absence of God is not central to its truth.   Let the debate begin!

Much Love,

Gregory

Bah Humbug!

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December 10, 2008 – by Gregory Franklyn

The top news stories today were certainly juicy and tantalizing. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is burning up airtime like a spring break bonfire for his attempted sale of the US Senate seat formerly occupied by President Elect Barack Obama. He got arrested and jailed yesterday and has the unmitigated gall to show up at work today like nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

It turns out nothing out of the ordinary HAD taken place. Politicians in Illinois being escorted into judicial custody is hardly out of the ordinary for Illinois. Nor is slinging blame, there’s plenty for everyone in Chicago politics!

The other big story would have to be the 14 Billion dollars under congressional consideration for US Automakers. Not that that would be news either, we’re having 70s flashbacks about US Automakers getting bailed out of financial ruin. Lee Iacoca must be chuckling under his breath right now. There’s also the unfolding soap opera in New York over Caroline Kennedy and, of all people, Fran Drescher, Seeking the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State, to be, Hillary Clinton.

Amidst this feast of juicy pabulum the story that really captured my imagination is this little aside on “Countdown with Keith Olberman” this evening about Australian astronomer Dave Reneke who has discovered that there is very serious scientific support to question whether December 25th is, or is not, Jesus Christ’s birthday! WHAT???

Ok, we all know that the day we celebrate Christmas was probably NOT the actual date of the birth of Christ. Science has pretty much demonstrated that according to the description of events described in the Bible, the birth of Christ could not have taken place in the winter. Interestingly, this scientist was able to pinpoint the exact date of the event. Ready? June 17, 2 B.C.. Let that twist your mind for a minute.

Jesus was born on June 17th 2 years before the birth of Christ. Those of you who, like former President Bill Clinton, didn’t inhale may be having some difficulty with this concept, but, for the record, I did   Inhale, and I did so repeatedly. It all makes perfect sense to me.

The reason why I mention this story is to illustrate my long held aversion to Christmas. Christmas is a season I’ve never participated in as a matter of choice. I get dragged, kicking and screaming, into it like it was a trip to the medicine cabinet where mom keeps the Castor Oil. If you are a Christian, you, in particular, should be outraged at the desecration of the memory of your lord and savior. What would Jesus do? Think money-changers at the temple. If I m not mistaken, Jesus was a tad bit annoyed at the prospect of Macy’s setting up a little shop on his dad’s porch.

Reneke’s astounding discovery will come as no surprise to the Vatican. They’ve known about this for quite some time. A couple millennia to be exact. As a matter of fact, it was the Vatican, or whatever it was called at the time, that changed the date of the blessed event to “coincide” with the already strong tradition of the Winter Solstice celebrated by most other religions, and, frankly everyone else in the known world, other than Christians. And, as standard operational procedure dictates, Christians even got the date wrong. The Solstice is actually the 21st not the 25th. But I digress! “Coincide” is way to diplomatic of a term to use for the intent of changing Jesus’ Birthday to the Winter Solstice Celebration. “Obliterate” was more the actual intent.

When you’re decorating your Christmas Tree and roasting your chestnuts on that Yule Log you’ll likely be oblivious to the fact that these two traditions, like most Christmas Traditions, were lifted from those terrible heathen Pagan Winter Solstice Rituals and sanitized for your protection. The intent of the Christian Power Structure at the time was to absorb Pagan traditions, sanitize them and give them a decidedly Christian spin so they would have an easier time convincing the world that Pagans were “So Last Year” and that Christianity was the happening religion of the future.

It’s kind of like Rock and Roll! Since Little Richard and those Muddy Waters era musicians melded a handful of down home musical genres into a virtual revolution of world culture, Rock and Roll continues to eat everything that attempts to compete with it. They must have learned that technique from early Christians who have been applying the very same marketing campaign for centuries. Christianity was the James Dean to the rest of the world’s Pat Boone, at the time. It was the young rebel religion full-throttle, hell bent on eating everything in its path to glory.

So this month we are celebrating the victory of Christianity over everything else in the world on a day that is misrepresented as the day their Christ was born, by celebrating with rituals that were stolen from Pagan Religions and turning the whole nine yards of it over to financial interests who created Santa Claus to be the world s deity for a month so they could sell enough product to earn literally a third of their yearly profits in a single month.

Right here would be a good time to mention that I am NOT an atheist, although a good case can be made that I am, by hearing me rant and rave about Christianity. I believe in God, as I perceive it to be and I love that I do so in my own way. I like to think that God, who, or whatever, that may end up to be, appreciates that I love it so much and am so deeply grateful for the width and breadth of the creation that I experience.

There’s this scene in “A Color Purple” by Alice Walker. It’s near the end of the movie version where recently reunited nellie and Celie are casually walking together through a field of daisies on a gloriously beautiful spring day. They stop for a moment and Nellie picks a little purple flower, shows it to Celie and says, “God made the color purple and, you know, I think he gets pissed off if you don t notice”, Call me weird, but I find that little scene deeply spiritual and I will never forget its truth. That has a LOT more to do with my relationship with God than anything I’ve ever read in any scripture, Bible or otherwise.

I agree with the spirit of giving that we use to excuse our deeper knowledge of the truth of what I m talking about this evening. Giving is a good thing, and lest I be guilty of the same fiction mongering I’m distancing myself from right now, so is receiving! I like that we have a whole season of giving. It starts with Thanksgiving, (my personal favorite because it is about people and love and family and togetherness,,, and food, but alas, also fiction) and ends with Christmas, my least favorite because it pretty much trashes everything Thanksgiving is about.

I say Bah, Humbug because everything about Christmas, as we know it, down to its very roots, is one big jumbled messy misrepresentation (translation = Frigging bold faced LIE!) dressed up with a bow and presented to YOU as something of value. None of it is real, it’s all political, financial, religious power struggling insanity and it always has been. We are a pretty resourceful and creative people. I like to think we can come up with a way to honor the life of this truly remarkable teacher, other than this overwhelmingly grotesque affront to everything he stood for. Surely, we can do better than this!?

Merry Christmas,

Gregory

Sarah Who?

Published by:

8/31/2008 By Gregory Franklyn

The dust hasn’t even settled on a remarkable DNC mini-series in Denver when John McCain set off his media distraction bomb. I was at work when a client came rushing in to announce that John McCain had selected Freshman Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential Running mate. Sarah Who? McCain s bomb worked!

The mainstream media has spent precious little airtime working over what happened this week in Denver because every one of their reporters and commentators are frantically busy trying to figure out who Sarah Palin is and why John McCain might think she could be a good Vice President.

McCain told us, “Once you get to know her, you’re going to love her!” I’m at a loss for how he would know that, given the fact that he had only met her once before signing her up as the person that will be a 72 year old heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States. I’ve already seen a video clip, recorded about a week ago, of this strikingly beautiful woman asking, “Exactly what does a Vice President do?”, and I sincerely hope, with all my heart, that quote was taken out of some specifically relevant context! Otherwise, I think I’m going to need a bit more than a Bourbon and Coke!

My theme today is going to be about prayer! Sarah Palin is a very conservative Republican Freshmen Governor from Alaska. What little credentials she has, politically, include being a sports reporter for a local station, a school board member, the mayor of a small town, and then a little bit shy of 2 years as Governor. Oh Yeah, she came in second in a pretty significant beauty pageant in Alaska!

It appears that Alaska is in love with this woman and she has a reputation as a reformer. She’s an evangelical Christian, a mother of 5, a dramatically anti-abortion crusader, a card-carrying member of the NRA, likes hunting and fishing, wants Christian Creationism taught in science class, and, it would appear, has shown little interest in foreign affairs.

One commentator on FOX News says she has plenty of International Political experience because she is Governor of Alaska, right there just a stone’s throw away from Russia! I m not kidding, he actually said that out loud! While trying to imagine what this striking lapse in judgment on John McCain s part is intended to accomplish, I can only guess that he wants Hillary Clinton’s disaffected voters to come to the Republican Ticket and to soothe the troubled waters of the radical Christian right.

If that’s the case, he’s going to need those prayer groups. I just don’t see died-in-the-wool Clinton feminists flocking to the Republican tent over this particular choice. However, the fundamental Christians will like her because she’s all about each and every one of their hot button issues that have relatively little impact on the problems discussed around the kitchen table every night.

Or, perhaps this is a feeble, last ditch “Hail Mary Play” to get the Christian Right vote and the woman vote in one fell swoop! The Republican Party is going to need those Fundamental Christians for more than a vote, come November, they’re going to need some serious prayer group action as well!

If, and I’m going on record as hoping this NEVER happens, John McCain were to win this election and the unthinkable should happen to him while in office, Sarah Palin would become the leader of the free world! Let that sink in for a minute.

Let Us Pray,

Gregory

We Got It Right This Time

Published by:

October 28, 2007 – by Gregory Franklyn

 

I’m feeling a little better about justice in America today while watching the Genarlow Wilson case in Georgia unfold. You’ll remember that Genarlow Wilson was the 17 year old who had consensual oral sex with a 15 year old a few years ago and got sentenced to 10 YEARS in prison for it. It appears that while Genarlow was incarcerated, the law was changed because his case made it clear that 10 years was cruel and unusual punishment for a teenage indiscretion. Well, I guess so!

First of all, the sex was consensual AND no one in the scenario was over 18 and no one is suggesting that either party was forced against their will to participate. In addition, young Wilson isn’t a thug or a criminal type (we don ‘t know who the young woman is and I can understand that). The young man is an Honor Student and Football Hero at his High School. Of course being a Football Player or good student shouldn’t excuse anyone from accountability for criminal activity, but in this case I don ‘t understand what the crime is. Shouldn’t this have been an issue for both sets of parents or maybe a Pastor or two rather than the police, much less the Georgia Supreme Court?

I’m delighted that our legal system recognized how utterly insane this whole thing is and I sincerely hope that young Wilson doesn’t have to live with what goes with having to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, for this youthful indiscretion. Since the statute of limitations on my own indiscretions is long since expired I can admit to having sex before I was 18. Can I have a show of hands here?

Not only was I not traumatized by it, I believe I may be a better, more balanced, person for having had the experience. In my case it was consensual too, and it was with another boy who was also not 18 yet. Looking back, if I had to make the same decision under the same circumstances, I would!

But our “Mature Adult” response to this incident is pointing up an issue that we, in the US, steadfastly refuse to have an informed, intelligent and rational discussion about. The idea of young people having sex is a discussion we seem to ONLY have with a knee-jerk emotionally charged sense of fear, loathing and often even shame.

Let me say, for the record, right here that I believe pedophilia is a bad thing! It’s predatory and almost universally results in serious damage on a number of levels for the victims and predators alike. I’m not talking about 30 year old people coercing 12 year olds into sexual situations.

I feel that we disrespect our young people when it comes to the subject of sex and, because of our own fear and shame about sex, refuse to equip them to make informed decisions about sex at a time when they are called upon, by nature, to make them.

If we educate our young people about sex at all it rarely begins before the onset of puberty when it would be of the most use. Most school districts that have any sex education at all start Sex education with 15-17 year olds. That s about 2, and sometimes as many as 3, years after young boys are already having very natural sensations and feelings of a sexual nature.

In those few school districts where sex education IS part of the curriculum, the education is sorely incomplete because of the things teachers are NOT allowed to talk about! A perfect example is “Abstinence Only” sex education models.

You might remember what happened to US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders when she suggested that masturbation should be part of a balanced sex education model and so should the use of condoms. You and I know that the use of condoms can prevent unwanted pregnancy and can prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS!

Right Wing Morality Thugs had a textbook MELTDOWN at the very suggestion. They claim that by teaching them about the use of condoms we encourage teenagers to have sex rather than wait until they’re married.

Jocelyn Elders was humiliated out of a job for suggesting that we equip our young people with what they’ll need for their very survival should they decide to disagree with us and have sex anyway! Teenagers truly aren’t ready to have sex, but not because all young people are too irresponsible at that age to make such a decision, but rather because we are too twisted up and polarized about sex to equip them with what they need at a time when it could make the most difference.

Here’s a little shocker for you in case you didn’t already know. Check my facts with any well-respected biblical scholar about this one. You might want to sit down for a minute! …Ready?

The Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, the teenager chosen by God Himself, to deliver His only Son was a mere 14 years old when she gave birth to Jesus! God Almighty chose a 14 year-old girl!

Exactly who do we think we are by disrespecting young women’s choices when God Himself felt a 14 year-old girl was ready to be the mother of his only child. She could have said no, but she made the decision to do so and GOD respected her decision!

I m not suggesting that we lower the age of consent to 14 because God thinks it s appropriate, notwithstanding the fact that he clearly does! I’m suggesting that some young people are going to make that decision one way or another whether we like it or not. I just don’t think they should have to die from AIDS for making a choice that you and I wish they wouldn’t.

So far, all studies that I m aware of say that “Abstinence Only” sex education has the opposite effect to what is intended; increased teen pregnancy and increased sexually transmitted diseases including HIV! When we teach our youth that abstinence is the ONLY option, when they make ANY other choice, we have left them hanging out there twisting in the wind. That simply does not make sense and disrespects them as people!

Which brings me back to young Genarlow Wilson. He got his sexual education the hard way because we didn’t give him the proper options to make informed decisions when he was called upon to make one. Whose fault is that?

So, God Bless America, our system of Justice got it right this time. young Genarlow Wilson is not going to spend the next 10 years behind bars because someone in our system of justice did their job with courage, with honesty and WITHOUT political partisanship! And, God Bless young Genarlow Wilson for helping us open a RATIONAL discussion about our responsibilities to the education of our young people. Let’s continue on this roll of getting it right for once. Let’s talk about this and have a little faith in how we have raised our children and respect their choices a little more.

It has always puzzled me that it’s technically a FELONY SEX OFFENSE, carrying a life sentence of registering as a sex offender and all that goes with it, when a person who is 18 years and one minute old has consensual sex with another person who is 17 years, 11 months, thirty days, 23 hours and 59 minutes old! Yet it’s completely legal if they do the very same thing 61 seconds later! Maybe we can start to look at this issue on a case-by-case basis and make decisions in the same way we expect our kids to!

Much Love,

Gregory