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THE FLOG

Fear and Loathing in JAX-VEGAS

Hunter S. Thompson wrote in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, “You better take care of me Lord, if you don’t you’re gonna have me on your hands.” It’s a terrific line. Since the origins of this country, we have used religion to justify many forms of discrimination and prejudice. Grounded in self-determined moral high ground, our society has used fear and a myopic view of “God’s image” to justify actions which probably would lead one to be denied entry at St. Peter’s gates.

The most recent battleground is Jacksonville’s lack of a Human Rights Ordinance protecting sexual orientation and gender identity. Everyone from Desmond Tutu to Shad Khan has weighed in on it. In 2012, Desmond Tutu specifically compared Jacksonville to South Africa, saying, “…We quite deliberately ensured that gays, lesbians and bisexuals were included in South Africa’s Constitution. Having ourselves suffered terribly, we did not want to inflict discrimination on any group that lived within our borders.” Last year, Khan told Florida Politics, “It’s like civil rights. It’s so late that it’s not even worth talking about.” He's been more vocal recently.

It is worth talking about. We must talk about it.

I want to address some of the common misconceptions and use of fear and loathing to oppose passage of an inclusive Human Rights Ordinance.

“The HRO Caters to a Minority Group”

These ordinances are designed to prohibit discrimination by employers, prevent discriminatory housing and stop unequal treatment based on age, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, and even marital status. Proponents of the human rights amendment seek to add sexual orientation and gender identity, essentially. The science is clear that sexual orientation is genetic, unlike say, marital status or some handicaps and disabilities. Yet opponents urge …   More

FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, BAKE THAT CAKE.

In the ongoing effort to pass a fully inclusive human rights ordinance in the city of Jacksonville, it seems one proverbial example continues to exemplify the dissonance between the call for protection from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and those who, out of religious beliefs, see this as an infringement on their own identity: whether a family bakery has the right to refuse baking a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. Now, my understanding of God’s grace leads me to the full inclusion of LGBTQ people, but even if another Christian doesn't, this article seeks to provide a religious argument that it is not only acceptable, but imperative that we, as a Christian community, bake that cake.

“Sanctification involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in man. (1)...[The Holy Spirit] dwells in believers, not merely as to His gifts, but as to His substance.” (2) These are the words of the great theologian Martin Luther, the founder of the protestant reformation. It is a profound and true statement. God’s very self, through the Holy Spirit, dwells in us and takes up residence in our very lives. What is particularly miraculous in this action is that it shouldn’t be possible. God, who is without sin, resides in every human being, who can’t help but sin. The pure and sinless is intimately a part of the sinful. This should not be, and yet it is what God does.

As followers of Jesus Christ, and recipients of His Holy Spirit, we long to be transformed by God (sanctified), and as a part of that transformation we seek to follow Christ’s teachings and example (discipleship). Jesus, the Word of God, took on flesh and dwelt among us (John Ch. 1), and so Luther tells us, “[J]ust as he himself did all things for us-not seeking his own good, but ours only…, so also he desires that we also should set the same example for our neighbors.” (3)

And so, as Christians who long to be …   More

THE FLOG

Pay Me to PROTEST

So, where can I get paid? Where are those millionaire benefactors who are paying other protesters? Because I have put in countless hours making phone calls, writing emails, marching, blogging, rallying and organizing. I am, in fact, losing money by protesting as it takes away from my freelance work. I’d like to find out how I can get paid, so I can let all the other people who are protesting for free know how they can get paid as well.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, I took part in two rallies outside of Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Jacksonville, Florida. They were organized by MoveOn.org and Indivisible, and attendees represented a broad range of ages, from a young boy to senior citizens. The protestors came from all over Northeast Florida, and we numbered about 50.

We were given comment forms to fill out, which we took and filed with Sen. Rubio’s office in groups of four at a time. We spoke with the receptionist/aide, dropped off our comments, then left and continued our rally outside.

While in line, I listened to people pouring out their hearts about dire health issues like breast cancer and leukemia, about the environment and immigration. I cried when I spoke about my father being an immigrant and how voting to confirm Jeff Sessions would be a signal to people of color that the government did not care about white supremacy.

Outside we chanted, talked, bonded with the local police department who checked in on us to be sure we were not being harassed (thank you, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office!), and felt that, if nothing else, we had done our civic duty and exercised our right to freedom of speech.

Therefore, I was truly shocked to see Sen. Rubio’s response to our heartfelt comments:

“The leftwing extremists at MoveOn.Org and their paid protesters are entitled to express their opinions, and like all presidents, Trump is entitled to nominate his cabinet." (“Momentum Grows for Locals Opposed to Trump’s …   More

Playing for Something Better than a Trophy

If you identify as a bad ass, football-loving woman interested in showing off your skills on the field, look no further than Jacksonville’s newest sports team, the North Florida Pumas. This women’s semi-pro football team utilizes the same rules as the National Football League - with the exception that they are able to have just one foot down in the end zone to get a touchdown. There is already one local team in the league, the Jacksonville Dixie Blues.

The Pumas are a part of the Women’s Football Alliance. According to the website, “The Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) was designed to create the largest and most competitive women’s tackle football league in the world.” The website notes that women’s tackle football teams and leagues have been around for over 40 years, but the last several years have seen the sport take off nationally. 

The Pumas’ journey began in July 2016 when Kim “Rocky” Brown decided to take her 18 years of experience playing women’s football and coach a team. In recent months, the Pumas have taken shape. So far 22 women have signed up to play for the Pumas and the team is actively seeking to fill the rest of the roster. 

“We’re building this from the ground up so we’re constantly taking new players. We have about 22 on the roster and I would like to have around 30,” Brown said.

Brown says the Pumas want to empower women on and off the field. They are actively seeking women at least 18 years of age of any body type who are passionate about the sport and eager to play. 

“Football is a type of sport that is for every size, every body type, and every weight. You need everything because every body type has a different position on the field. That is what makes it a winning team,” said Jordi Granger, the team’s general manager.

Prior experience is not necessary; the Pumas are more than willing to teach …   More

THE FLOG

Momentum Grows for Locals Opposed to Trump's Policies

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

In the brisk, sun-washed mid-morning, today citizens from five Northeast Florida counties gathered outside Senator Marco Rubio’s office on the Southbank to urge the senator to oppose Betsy DeVos’ and Scott Pruitt’s confirmations as Secretary of Education and head of the Environmental Protection Agency, respectively, and to express their disapproval of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order that temporarily banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.

In an email to Folio Weekly late yesterday, Indivisible Nassau County co-founder Chad Brockman wrote that they believe that the order “created a backdoor ban on Muslim immigrants.”

As to DeVos, Brockman wrote, “We believe her lack of experience, plans of vision along with outdated policies would be harmful to public education.” Their opposition to Pruitt’s confirmation is based on the belief that “his allegiances to big oil and other dirty energy along with his choices to sue the EPA to block important public health protections prove that he is the wrong choice to lead the EPA.”

Many people outside Rubio’s office held signs of protest, but theirs was not merely a message of opposition; several indicated that they have previously been impressed by Rubio, but said they are concerned that he has been too willing to obey the Republican Party and the president.

“In the end, he folds and falls in line with the party,” Brockman said.

Representing Indivisible groups from Nassau, St. Johns, Duval, Clay and Flagler Counties, the people outside Rubio’s office today were primarily, but not all, white and middle-aged or older. They held signs that read “Save ACA,” “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to break free,” “Say No to Sessions and DeVos!!!” and more; their chants …   More

The Flog

Peter Pan Prequel Soars, Carried by Ron Shreve and Taylor Kearschner’s BREAKOUT PERFORMANCES

Few characters are as timeless and ageless as Peter Pan.

Few authors can concoct their fantasies as senselessly and breathlessly as Dave Barry.

Theatre Jacksonville takes on the challenge of staging Peter and the Starcatcher with their stars performing double duty. And delivering indubitably.

Fans of Pan, of Dave Barry’s silliness, and of fantasy will find much to like during the final four shows of this production — January 26 through 29 at this theatre in San Marco, now in its 97th season.

For those who simply must ship off completely spoiler-free, stop now, buy your tickets here, and board Theatre Jacksonville blindly without learning any more about Black Stache and the origins of the boy who lives without ever growing up.

Ron Shreve plays that titular character who just wants to be a “boy for a while” — who is an orphan without a home and a name (for now) — and who hates those lying grown-ups.

Taylor Kearschner’s precocious Molly offers that stunning contrast to Shreve’s Boy — she’s a leader who knows exactly where her moral compass points and is intent on doing right.

As for thoughts of aging up, we learn right away that when she sees him, “Something about the boy makes Molly feel like she just grew up a little.”

They each rise to craft a memorable performance.

Shreve — the ultimate supporting player as stage manager and artistic director in other productions — goes under the brightest lights here. He crows with the best of them, and more importantly, he deftly handles the challenge of a coming-of-age turn for the ageless Pan.

Kearschner’s wide-eyed Molly proves to be the right counter to Peter — stern but curious and revealing vulnerability as she copes with the pressure of doing the right thing, and what that is.

Boy and his orphan friends Prentiss (Jordan Born) and Ted (Malik Bilbrew) are pulled into this adventure — …   More

UNITY in the Community

Saturday's Unity in Community March in St. Augustine was one of hundreds held across the U.S. and world that day in solidarity with the record breaking Women’s March on Washington.

The Women’s March on Washington’s website states, “The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths, particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.”

In St. Augustine on January 21, demonstrators said they were seeking respect, acceptance and equal rights for all humans.

Sister marches took place in more than a dozen other cities in the state, over 600 across the county, and on every single continent in the world.

Like the Women’s March on Washington, the march in St. Augustine was not merely an anti-Trump rally, it was an opportunity for members of the community to support each other, publicly and fervently.

Marchers of all ages, genders, races and sexual orientations patiently mingled at the foot of the Bridge of Lions as they waited for the march to begin at 1 p.m.

Supporters were still arriving as chants of “Love trumps hate!” rang through the air. Cars driving past the crowd honked in solidarity; two women in a vehicle flashed the crowd, cheering on their fellow protestors. The atmosphere was positive and refreshing.

Millennials were well represented at this event, leading chants such as, “My body, My choice!” and “No Trump, No KKK, No racist U.S.A.!”

St. Augustine native and University of North Florida political science major, Seth Campbell, said, “The problem is red county Democrats are more …   More

Fernandina Beach Marchers Help Break National Record

January 20, 2017 may go down in history as the day Donald Trump was elected, but January 21, 2017 could be more monumental and memorable for thousands of people.  On that day women, men and children came together to stand up for immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQIA community, women’s rights, black and brown people, natives, sexual assault survivors and people with disabilities. People came together for peaceful marches that displayed solidarity and a vision of equal rights for all. The marches were held worldwide.

Although some believe that the marchers at the Women's March on Washington and the sister marches across the country and world were merely protesting Donald Trump becoming president, at the sister march in Fernandina Beach, people said they were marching as a sign of solidarity, to show that they will stand up for what has been fought for by the many fearless people before. Marchers said they will not let anyone take away rights earned over decades, that such rights should not be seen as a “special privilege.” They believe everyone, no matter what, deserves the same rights, respect, and dignity.

On this day, an estimated 1,000 people attended the Amelia Island Solidarity March, a sister march to the Women’s March on Washington D.C. The march began with a Facebook event page created by local community members. By march time, in this town of roughly 12,000, on Facebook 498 people had indicated they would attend. Far more showed up. Events started at 10 a.m. in downtown Fernandina Beach and participants followed the route normally taken during the annual Shrimp Festival, concluding at Central Park.

The streets filled with people of all ages, genders, and colors, holding signs that said things such as “Grab him by the Putin” and “We stand for equality.” A brave woman proudly walked down the street topless, her chest and stomach boldly emblazoned with strong black letters reading, “Laws that …   More

Kerri Stewart Accidentally Emails SMACK TALK to Press

For many months, Dr. Juan Gray, board chairman of the Jacksonville chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has been campaigning against Mayor Lenny Curry's Chief of Staff Kerri Stewart.

Gray specifically takes issue with the ethics of her conduct several years ago while employed by the city as head of the Neighborhoods department before she took a position with Infinity Global Solutions. Last year, an auditor's report found that capital district bond funds were improperly diverted to a consulting contract with IGS.

Stewart was cleared of wrongdoing by the Ethics Commission in November, but that hasn't stopped Gray from pressing for further investigation.

Well, at 12:04 p.m. today Folio Weekly was surprised to receive this email from Stewart, which was at the top of an email chain that ended with an email from John Winkler, president of the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, congratulating SCLC for their "direct action" against Stewart, "an enemy to every principle of good governance and public transparency preserved to the People in the Florida Constitution."

In the email, Stewart writes "He then enlisted the help of his new-found (sic) friends at Concerned Taxpayers to weigh in on me."

 

 

The email was particularly surprising because we hadn't sent her any congratulations; in fact, we hadn't sent her any email at all. The only logical conclusion seemed to be that she had - whoopsy - hit "Reply all" by mistake. Who hasn't been there?

Twenty minutes later, we had our answer when Stewart recalled the message "Congratulations!"

That's a Doh! moment if we ever saw one.   More

Local Progressives Take Page from TEA PARTY Playbook

This morning, about a dozen citizens drove an hour through the morning fog to meet with staff at the Jacksonville offices of U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and discuss their concerns about several of Donald Trump’s cabinet picks as well as his legislative priorities.

The group, Indivisible Nassau County, which has 188 members on Facebook, is part of a national network of independent groups that sprung up in the response to Donald Trump’s election. “Indivisible” groups utilize “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda,” a guideline written by former congressional staffers on how to organize and oppose Trump’s policies utilizing tactics employed by the Tea Party during Barack Obama’s presidency.

At Rubio’s Southbank office this morning, the group was prepared with a letter highlighting the items they wanted to discuss today, which individual members signed. They shared a similar version of the letter with Senator Nelson’s staff at his office several blocks away.

“We are here to introduce ourselves and to bring up some of the concerns we have about some changes in policy,” Paula Ferreira told Folio Weekly. Ferreira was chosen to act as the group's spokesperson in today’s meetings. Members told FW that her intelligence, articulation and experience living under a dictatorship in Africa inspired them to select her to speak on their behalf today.

Trump nominees they voiced opposition to today include Rex Tillerson, who is tapped to serve as secretary of state; Scott Pruitt, whom Trump has selected to head the Environmental Protection Agency; and Betsy DeVos, who is up for secretary of education.

Ferreira said they are concerned about Tillerson’s ties to Russia and potential conflicts of interest stemming from his time as CEO and chairman of ExxonMobil, which they believe inhibits his ability to effectively serve as secretary of …   More