Deride the Lightning

Homer

Capital punishment is one of the most hotly debated and polarizing issues in America. For example, when Tennessee decided to bring back the electric chair earlier this year, liberal Tennesseans argued this might increase the number of innocent people on death row, whereas conservative Tennesseans argued this might increase their electric bills.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma wants to abolish lethal injection because it’s not covered by Obamacare.

Oklahoma botched an execution by lethal injection several months ago. They used the wrong chemicals so it took about an hour to kill the guy.  (In fact, while he waited, he had a new pair of glasses made at Lens Crafters.) But, although the media made a big deal out of it, I don’t think the guy they were executing really minded all that much:

“No, really, take all the time you need. I’ve got nothing planned for the rest of the day. If you want, we can break for lunch and try this again in a couple of decades….”

The kicker is that the guy never got his last meal. Apparently, he requested steak with A-1 Sauce, shrimp salad, a baked potato and dessert. But since that meal would have cost more than $15, his request was denied. Call me a bleeding heart, but if we, as a society, are going to end the life of a fellow member of society, the least we can do is send an intern over to Applebee’s for some takeout. How better to help a convicted murderer learn the error of his ways than by showing him how wonderful life can be for $8.99 on Tuesdays and Thursdays? One basket of all-you-can-eat riblets before dying and even the most cold-blooded psychopath will realize that killing is a no-no.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s totally useless to debate the death penalty with friends who support capital punishment. No matter what you say, they always have a knee-jerk response locked and loaded:

“You know, the death penalty, both in the U.S. and around the world, is discriminatory and is used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities. Since humans are fallible, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated.”

“It’s right there in the Bible: ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out!”

“Furthermore, the astronomical costs associated with putting a person on death row – including criminal investigations, lengthy trials and appeals – are leading many states to re-evaluate and re-consider having this flawed and unjust system on the books.”

“If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime!”

“Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death rows throughout the country due to evidence of their wrongful convictions. In 2003 alone, 10 wrongfully convicted defendants were released from death row.”

“Yeah, well, I just saved a ton of money on my car insurance!”

When it comes to the death penalty, I consider myself both a conservative and a liberal: I’m for the electric chair but only if it’s solar powered.

I’m kidding. Truth be told, I’m no fan of the death penalty; because, the longer I live and work on a cruise ship, the more I want to kill somebody.

They say that the death penalty is a deterrent to murder. But if anything should be a deterrent to murder it’s plain ol’ prison. In prison, you’re forced to go “number two” in the middle of a tiny cell, on that metal prison toilet, with no privacy whatsoever. I don’t care how badly you want somebody dead; all it should take to stop you from pulling the trigger is to picture yourself dropping a deuce with a big, bald Aryan ape with a dragon tattooed to his head staring you down as you nervously try to wipe. Anytime you find yourself compelled to act-out some ultra-violent adolescent, woe-is-me revenge fantasy, just dial up that bowel-tightening scenario in your noggin and you’ll immediately switch to envisioning a better tomorrow, wherein you buy the whole world a Coke and teach it to sing in perfect harmony.

Okay, let’s say the death penalty can deter premeditated murder. But then what about crimes of passion? Who’s thinking of the death penalty in the heat of the moment?:

“Yo, play-a! You stole my cocaine, you burned down my drug lab, and you blew up my Escalade!” I should kill you, but I don’t want Al Sharpton to be disappointed in me when they fry me like a catfish at the church social!””

For those of you that think the preceding joke is racist because I made the criminal’s dialogue read like some clichéd African-American stereotype, allow me to rewrite the passage, this time making him sound like some clichéd white-trash stereotype:

“Hey, boy! You stole my moonshine, you burned down my still, and you blew up my El Camino! I should kill you, but I don’t want Nancy Grace to say mean stuff about me after they fry me like a funnel cake at the state fair!”

While we’re at it, let’s piss off some Hispanic-Americans:

“Yo, Holmes! You stole my Chiclets, you burned down my taco stand and you blew up my donkey! I should kill you, but I don’t want George Lopez to make bad jokes about me after they fry me like a churro at a flea market!”

And let’s not forget Gay-Americans:

”You bad boy! You stole my Lady Ga-Ga CD’s, you burned down my walk-in-closet shrine to Neil Patrick Harris, and you blew up my powder-blue Prius. I should kill you but I don’t want to end up on death row with a bunch of sweaty, horny men. On second thought, maybe I WILL kill you—BANG-BANG!”

The reason why I think capital punishment doesn’t deter murder is that murder doesn’t seem to deter crappy human behavior. The world is filled with hair-triggered psychopaths who could kill us in a blink of an eye, yet we continue to flip off others in traffic, steal parking spots at the mall, cut in line at the supermarket, talk and text in movie theaters, stiff waiters, cheat on lovers, and angrily tell panhandlers to “get a job!”

“Excuse me, brother, can you spare some change for something to eat?”

“Get a job, you lazy bum.”

“Careful—I could have a gun.”

“Yeah, well, if you can afford a gun, then you can afford a sandwich.”

Can you imagine how cool it would be if people stopped treating others like crap just because they were afraid to be murdered?

“Harold, I can’t believe you just tipped our waiter twenty percent for a change.”

“Beats getting stabbed in the neck with a fork, sweetheart.”

“Oh, come now, Harold. That nice young man would never do something like that. Who wants to spend the rest of his life pooping on a prison toilet?”

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Gun Nuts and Love Guns

Gun Nuts and Love Guns

Although I’m a meat eater, I’m neither a gun owner nor a hunter. I’m not against killing defenseless animals; I’m against getting up at 5:00 am to do it:

 “Hey, Jeff—how about we get up at the crack of dawn, freeze our butts off and shoot at some deer?”

 “I’ve got a better idea: How about you leave me an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine and I’ll sleep till noon, brew some coffee, scarf some Crunch Berries and then get all “Scarface” on the neighbor’s poodle that’ll be yapping its damn head off all morning?”

And although I love my country, I’m embarrassed by our incessant, ridiculous quarreling over gun laws and same-sex unions.  America is so behind the times. There isn’t one licensed dentist in all of Great Britain and yet their Parliament is progressive enough to make gun ownership difficult (Wanna kill somebody? Start a soccer riot!) and gay marriage legal. (God save the queens!)

Two of the most polarizing issues in American politics are gun rights and gay rights. Gun nuts won’t let you have their gun until you “pry it from their cold dead fingers,” and I’m pretty sure gay men feel the same way about something else.

I feel about gay rights the same way I feel about gun rights: Do what you want; just don’t point that thing at me. I have no desire to own a gun and I have no desire to have sex with a man. I would, however, buy a gun if that’s what it takes to keep me from having sex with a man.

I just wish that flag-waving fans of the Second Amendment would show a little more concern for the Constitutional rights of all Americans:

 “America is the land of freedom! Except for Muslims and butt pirates! Nobody’s gonna tell me how to live my life—hey, fella, don’t you dare marry that fella! Nobody’s going to tell me what god to pray to—hey, Akbar, don’t  you dare build that mosque next to my church! Nobody’s gonna tell my woman how she can dress—hey, babe, lose the burka so I can see some boobies!”

 “Congratulations, Skeeter, you just put the ‘dumb’ in ‘free-dumb’.”

 “But, Jeff, the Bible says Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

 “Yeah, well, the Second Amendment says muskets, not Uzis.”

 “But the Second Amendment gives me the right to bear arms!”

 “Then wear a tank top, you homophobic hick! (Bare arms—get it? Hee-haw!)”

If you’re a gun-toting patriot who wants to fight for your rights, then stand up and fight. But then, when you’re done, sit down and shut up while glitter-throwing Americans fight for their rights. You can’t be both for gun rights and against gay rights. The Second Amendment or Proposition 8—pick one and stick the other up your butt. (Don’t worry, that won’t make you gay.)

 But, Jeff, the thought of two men having sex is disgusting.

 Then stop thinking about it! Just because you find gay sex disgusting doesn’t mean you have the right to stop same-sex couples from getting married. Hell, my fiancée finds straight sex with me disgusting and yet we’re still allowed to marry.

Just because I’m for gay marriage doesn’t mean I enjoy the company of gay people. In fact, I find most homosexuals rather annoying. Gay men annoy me because I sound gayer than they do, and gay women annoy me because I look gayer than they do.

And just because I don’t have the right to discriminate against or harass my fellow Americans based on their sexual preferences doesn’t mean I can’t exercise my First Amendment rights to joke about how much flamboyantly gay people irritate the hell out of me. I can say what I want just as long as I don’t use homophobic slurs, such as “homo,” “queer” or “Clay Aiken.”

For example, the other day, a gay colleague of mine, whom I both like and respect, comes sliding down the banister of a crew area staircase, lands at my feet, and then proceeds to swish around, snap his fingers, do little showgirl kicks and sing:

It’s raining men / It’s raining men / Hallelujah / It’s raining men 

I hate it when my gay friends act like that around me. Because, for the rest of the day, I found myself swishing around, snapping my fingers, doing little showgirl kicks, and singing:

It’s raining men / It’s raining men / Hallelujah / It’s raining men 

Hey—gay or straight, a catchy number is a catchy number.

America is a great country. But I think we could be even greater. The thing that’s supposed to be so great about America is we’re supposed to be able to criticize our country without the fear of being punished for our opinions. Yet, the more a patriotic a person claims to be, the angrier he becomes when you exercise your freedom of speech as an American. Of course, the less somebody respects your opinions, the more pointless it is to argue with him:

 “America’s the greatest country in the world! Yee haw!”

 “Actually, we lag behind in many areas, such as education, healthcare and treatment of our war veterans. In fact, Canada is ahead of us in all three.”

 “Well, if you don’t like it here, then why don’t you move to Canada?”

 “Because I’m a homophobic, gun-toting American – they don’t want me!”

 I hate to sound like a broken record but if gun nuts think that freedom is what makes America so great and so different, then why don’t they think it’s great when their fellow Americans exercise their freedom to be different? I would love to see that, wouldn’t you?

 “Hey, Timmy. Whaddya say we get liquored up and go on down to that Gay Pride parade with our shotguns?”

 “Hell yeah, Bobby. We can blast the hell out of anyone who threatens those glitter-throwing Nancy boys with physical harm while they’re marching up and down Main Street in defense of their civil liberties as tax-paying Americans.”

 “True dat, Timmy. This is America; we have to be tolerant of one another or else we’re no better than Russia. Vladimir Putin banned homosexuals from the Winter Olympics and he’s a socialist, right?”

Damn right, Bobby. And if everyone on the right in this country is so against socialism, and Vladimir Putin is a homophobic socialist, that means anyone who’s against civil rights for gay people is not only a homophobe but also a dog-gone socialist. So if socialism is wrong, then so is homophobia in the so-called ‘Land of the Free’.”

 “Know what, Timmy? I get turned on when you start talking all logical and stuff and, you know, showing love and respect for your fellow human beings just like it says in the Bible even if their values and lifestyle choices differ from your own. Hell, Timmy, maybe you and I should try being homosexuals sometime.”

 “Aw, shucks, Bobby, I ain’t no butt ranger. But if it’ll help win the war against socialism, hell, I guess I can polish a knob or two for America—yee-haw!”

Why do opponents of gay marriage always seem so obsessed with gay behavior? It’s a little homoerotic, if you ask me. For example, the other, day a straight man wearing a leather vest with both an American flag and an NRA patch on it told me that he was against same-sex marriage because it’s a sin against nature (much like the grey, over-60 pony tail he was sporting). He then started playing one of those hypothetical question games with me:

“Tell me, Fun Dude,” he said. “If a gay millionaire offered you a million dollars—in cash, tax free—to sleep with him, would you do it?”

“No way,” I replied. “I’m not falling for that again.”