On Caitlyn and Costumes…

I love Caitlyn Jenner. There. I said it.

Never have I ever been a fan of The Kardashians. I don’t keep up with them. I can’t stomach Kris.

But Caitlyn is a different story. I like her humor. I like the fact that she is choosing to help younger transgender people by telling her story in a responsible way. And I love the fact that, even in her 60’s, she had the courage to become who she truly is. I’ve learned so much and gained such respect for the transgender community from her reality show.

Those that spoke out when Caitlyn received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs were wrong. Are there other acts of courage that might be more courageous than stepping out as a transgender person? Of course. Is she still courageous for doing this? Is she still a hero? You ask that question to a transgender teen that has contemplated suicide.

Recently, another firestorm is brewing over a Halloween Company creating a Caitlyn Jenner costume. Here it is, if you haven’t seen it shared 50,000 times on your newsfeed:

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Apparently, this costume is, “offensive” and, “transphobic.”

Now George Takei, of Star Trek and Facebook fame, has weighed in:

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I am convinced, Mr. Takei. Name me a pop culture phenomenon that hasn’t been replicated come Halloween time. Do you know how many little Donald Trumps, complete with fish lips and combovers, are going to be running around this October? Is the controversy about the costume itself or the fact that a company is producing it? I’m sure there will be much better homemade Caitlyns at Halloween.

Can I see how someone could be offended by this? Sure, I can. I have a nuanced opinion about lots of things that could or should be offensive.

But it all comes down to who is wearing the costume…

Last month, a controversy erupted in Toledo, Ohio about this billboard:

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People were genuinely offended by this, including me. Denny Schaffer is a bigot. He’s made homophobic remarks on his radio shows. He wraps himself up in the pages of the Bible. In fact, when I was 19 and applying for an unpaid internship at his radio station, he conducted the “interview” live on the air, while making fun of my hair and my voice, even going so far as to play an audio clip of Barbara Walters asking, “Do you wear women’s underwear?” (I got the last laugh and was hired by the station less than a year later— in a paid position.)

Denny wasn’t just having fun with this billboard, which has since been removed. Denny was being blatantly offensive. If he came trick-or-treating while wearing the Caitlyn Jenner costume, I would agree with anyone who found it to be “trans-phobic.”

On the other hand, I have a whole world of friends that could wear this costume and pull it off. Friends that are supportive and understanding and funny. Not judgy.

I like Caitlyn. I support Caitlyn. But I think even Caitlyn would have a little giggle at seeing grown men walk around dressed like her Vanity Fair cover.

Speaking of offensive Halloween costumes… do you really want to be offended? Really, really, really offended? You would have been last year, when I saw Ebola patients at Halloween parties. You would have been in 2001, when I saw postal workers wrapped in plastic, at the height of the Anthrax scare. And you will be right now, when I share with you these two photos that I found while researching this article:

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Folks, this is offensive. Particularly the kids. Some parent thought this was acceptable.

Next time, before we get all up-in-arms about being offended, let’s take a deep breath and put things in perspective.

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When news people become the news…

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The breaking news this morning about two news professionals being shot dead, while completing a live broadcast, is utterly heartbreaking. I went to broadcasting school… I wanted to be on the news, just like Alison Parker. I wanted to film the news as it happened… just like Adam Ward. These people were doing their job… jobs which I’m sure they loved.

I’ve been lucky for the past few years to regularly appear on several morning news shows in my hometown of Toledo, Ohio to talk about my books. I cannot imagine an incident like this happening to one of the professionals that I’ve met in my journeys. News people should never become part of the news.

Which brings me to what this blog post was originally supposed to focus on, before this breaking news story intervened: Jorge Ramos.

Mr. Ramos, according to Wikipedia, is a journalist. Yes, journalists have a right to ask questions— that’s their job. But, in an organized press conference setting, so that each broadcasting organization is given their fair time, journalists are also asked to respect the process. And respect the individual that is answering the questions— regardless of whether or not you like or agree with what they have to say.

The actions of Jorge Ramos at Donald Trump’s press conference yesterday were ridiculous. Yet, they both got exactly what they wanted. Ramos was looking to insert himself into the national conversation that Trump started. And Trump gave him that gift by discharging him from the event.

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On that same note, Trump also got what he was looking for: more free publicity. I had recorded CNN last night to watch Anderson Cooper’s special on the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Yet, it was preempted by an hour of “Breaking News” coverage with Don Lemon. The news? Trump and Ramos.

And this tidbit of information, as well: The daughter of Jorge Ramos works for the campaign of Hillary Clinton. That’s right… the Democratic frontrunner. Now, conspiracy theorists will go to work. I’ll bet they say that Jorge Ramos was a plant by the Clinton campaign, placed there to disrupt the Trump press conference. Or placed there to ensure that Mr. Trump continues to suck all of the air out of the Republican race.

At any rate, the actions of Mr. Ramos were unbecoming of a journalist. News people should never become the news. Ms. Parker and Mr. Ward didn’t have a choice in the matter. They were sitting ducks and it’s a tragic story of two young lives cut short.

Mr. Ramos did have a choice… he could have waited his turn to ask a question, perhaps catching The Donald off guard. Instead, he placed himself in the story and gave Trump time to prepare for the fight. It’s all good for ratings, right?

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A Visit to Aaron Murdick’s Fudge in Mackinaw City, Michigan

As you know, I am happily carving out my little space in the world of Children’s Literature… one book, one message at a time.

To do this, I’ve begun partnering with well-respected, family-owned businesses from different parts of our country. From Tony Packo’s in Toledo, Ohio… to Campbell’s Sweets Factory in Cleveland, Ohio… to The Popcorn Cellar in Naples, Florida… and Smok’n Pig BBQ in Georgia… I’ve had a world of fun.

But my favorite part about all of this is when I get to visit the business and learn a little bit about how they operate. Sometimes, co-author Joe Kelley and I are even invited to help! Check out this video of our recent visit to Aaron Murdick’s Fudge in Mackinaw City, Michigan:

You can purchase our book Murdick’s Mackinaw Mystery online at Amazon.com.

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