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Well, I expected that the local Oklahoma City-based media would pay attention to the lawsuit I filed against The Oklahoma Tax Commission. I figured some outlets from around Oklahoma would also pay attention. I even thought that I might get a few “Attaboy!”s from a few concerned homos across state lines. But I did not expect CNN to call me about Nancy Grace possibly being interested in the case nor did I expect celebrity gossip blog Dlisted to turn the case into a referendum on my fashion choices by naming me “Hot Slut of the Day”. But all of those things have happened today, and many others.

Something else has happened as well. I have received dozens of communications from folks telling me what kinds of plates they have seen around or had issued to them. Its become a discussion about license plates and the phenomenon. I am convinced now – more than at any other point in this whole fiasco – that the OTC has lost this case. They may as well tape all applications up on the wall and throw darts at them to decide who gets a plate and who doesn’t. Its all based on, well, who knows what its based on. I don’t even think they know.

Here are two observations from those communications:

  • A fellow Norman resident called to tell me they granted his tag “ATHEIST”. Odd, since they have denied “GODLESS” and others. So not only do they engage in viewpoint-based discrimination, they are not even consistent in their discrimination within a single topic.
  • From a comment on the News 9 Story: “I don’t see anything wrong with the tag. There is a guy in Norman that has a tag that reads NOFTCHX. Which means NO FAT CHICKS, he can have that but an outwardly gay man can’t have an IM GAY tag. Get real people whatever happened to freedom of speech???”

Oh, and last – but certainly not least – there is this:

Media coverage in the case has apparently reached a nationwide level already, as I have some lonely, single (presumably, gay) guy who thinks I am cute and wants to get to know me in a really hurry. He is 22 years old, works at Sams Club and is from some town I have never heard of in New York. He found my cell number somewhere (probably the damned press release) and started texting me telling me he wanted to be friends on Facebook. I approved the friend request he sent and he immediately started chatting me up.

I was on the phone with a reporter when all this happened, so I had to ask him to stop messaging me on my Facebook chat like a dozen times so I could concentrate on my call and not sound like a stuttering idiot to the reporter on the other end who was trying to get me to come on his radio show (which I will be appearing on this Friday from 7 to 10 PM, I am sitting on the entire show). He would stop for about a minute and then start back in and ask me if I am still there and such. He was half groveling and half worshiping me, while asking what I thought of him looks wise.

It was a bit over the top and I finally snapped and swore at him out of frustration (and immediately felt bad for doing it, how was he supposed to know I am not a patient person) and told him I was looking for the block button on Facebook. He asked why and I told him, point blank: he was annoying the hell out of me. He then freaked out and begged for forgiveness and for me not to block him. It was at this point that I realized a measure of humility was needed here.

Honestly, I felt sorry for the guy. Clearly, he was happy to have found a friend. He doesn’t have many on Facebook and I wonder if I am the only gay guy he knows or who will talk to him. The world is a cruel place for a homosexual when you are all alone. Even when you are around folks who understand and support you, its not much less cruel. Some of the things being said about me in the comments sections of various news sites are completely uncalled for. There are areas of New York that are every bit as conservative as Oklahoma, so I can understand and appreciate some of what he is facing. Hell, I was there not so long ago.

I don’t know his situation, but I’ll try to find out and help if I can. He’s offline now and the reporter is off the phone. I just hope he doesn’t kill himself or something. He did strike me as perhaps a little unbalanced and/or desperate for human contact and he said something about him having ADHD. The way society treats gay people, its a wonder that they manage to survive at all, much less some of them become truly awesome. Bigot Sally Kern once made light of how gay kids have high suicide rates. I wonder if it ever occurred to her that maybe thats the case because society – led by people like her – so often treat these people like utter trash to the point that they as human beings just shut down and lose all desire and reason for living.

Overall, I feel very good about where this case is headed. The media is covering this story fairly and accurately, which surprises me a little bit. I figured we’d have some outlet come out with a hatchet job of a story, spun around to fit some biased viewpoint. But they don’t seem to be doing that. The Oklahoman ran a factual story, followed closely by The Associated Press’s take on it. I take that in and of itself as a sign of progress. We’re going to open some doors in Oklahoma with this one. Now, some folks are not going to want them opened, but they will be opened none the less.

I say all this is all a good thing. We’re moving forward. Attitudes are changing here.

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Like most Americans, I was shocked when I heard that the Supreme Court decided to obliterate the regulations that kept corporations from directly spending money to influence elections. At first, this decision looked like a flaming disaster for liberty from the perspective of the average person. I was ready to call for assassinations and do all of my usual rantings, but I stopped to think about this for a little while and what it meant. This case is very far-reaching, on the magnitude of Roe v. Wade. It’s hard to imagine a recent case with implications that are more broad or far-reaching. If you’re wondering where various groups stand in all this, The Washington Post did an admirable  job of compiling the opinions of the various factions in a succinct format for all to digest in a single page. This is the last time I’ll praise the Post herein, though – as you’ll soon see.

The first reality check we need to get through to understand this issue is to realize that corporations have always influenced elections in this country. There was never a moment in time when they didn’t and I’d be wiling to stake my life on the fact that there never will be. This is not a new revelation, one would have to have been living under a rock to have missed this memo. But judging by the uneducated opinions I have been hearing on this topic, its pretty darn clear that more than just a couple of folks did – in fact – miss the memo.

Under the old law, a corporation had to form a PAC in order to run ads on an issue. The PAC allowed the corporation to basically hide its involvement in a given message. Either that, or the managers or directors of a corporation had to use their own salary to put a message out there, after taxes were taken out. The former option is time-consuming, chock full of red tape and expensive, which ensures that only the largest corporations (which are usually the most conservative) undertake the effort. The latter requires directors to sacrifice after-tax pay to do engage in activism, which for many smaller managers and directors at smaller corporations is a deal breaker. Both allow the corporation doing the influencing to hide their involvement to all but the most knowledgeable researches who know their way around FEC campaign finance databases.

Even after the decision, corporations still cannot give money directly to campaigns for specific candidates. However, they can now use their money to buy airtime and target those unfriendly to their causes and they can do it easily, without having to invest in the infrastructure and deal with the red tape of setting up a Political Action Committee (PAC). They still have to mention which corporation is behind the message, just like they had to identify the PAC sponsoring a media blitz. Under the new rules, it will be easier to see who is behind the message and associate them with the source of the money.For instance, instead of having ads by some generic-sounding industry lobby group named something like “The Plastics Council” running ads which could be coming from any number of plastics manufactures, we might now see that Dow Chemical sponsored an ad.

While its likely that the use of PACs will not fall out of favor anytime for this very reason – they allow companies with the resources to set them up to divorce their name and brands from a message which they hold but may offend certain customer segments – there is another effect of this decision that’s worth considering – and celebrating. Most small companies – and yes, a lot of them are incorporated – don’t have the time, money or resources to start a PAC to fight for interests near and dear to them or their leadership. Until now, they were locked out of the process. Completely. That’s obviously changed with this decision, so what we may see is a surge of involvement by small businesses on a level never seen.

As for how this can help us queers, we outright control lots of corporations – most of them the ones described above who until this decision have been locked out of the process. Many of us own stock in various corporations even if we don’t own controlling stakes, and that gives us a chance to make our voices heard. Most people are completely ignorant of how corporations came to exist, ignorant of how they work, ignorant of the all-important rule of the shareholder, ignorant of the value of voting with dollars and ignorant of how corporations stand with the law. Not surprisingly, they therefore misconstrue this as the handing over of Democracy to the corporations and fail to recognize that this is a new tool for us activists to add to our arsenals.

Often times, the queer community seems to take Democratic party positions, even when doing so is not in their own best interest. Barak Obama’s recent attacks on the Supreme Court over this decision are downright foolish. For someone who is supposedly one of the smartest people in the country, he sure is failing to miss several key advantages of the decision. Of course, in the typical hypocritical fashion popularized in US politics, Obama and the Democrats have chosen to bitch, moan and groan – while at the same time plotting as to how they will make use of this latest so-called “loophole” to eviscerate and destroy their opponents. Gee, what a surprise. American politics aren’t called hypocritical for no reason.

But while the Democrats are acting like idiots, this time they have friends on the conservative side, too. The Washington Post, well-known for its apologetically conservative commentary, ran a piece blasting the Court that contained this little nugget of stupidity: “It was the height of activism to usurp the judgments of Congress and state legislatures about how best to prevent corruption of the political process.” This brings me to one of my favorite pieces of caselaw of all time. I am not sure if it is still “good” caselaw (as in it has not been overturned since being written way back in 1886) or not, I don’t honestly care. The wisdom expressed in it is as irrefutable as it is easy to understand.

“An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed.” — Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425 (1886)

The Post piece also decries the fact that the Court went further than the Plaintiffs asked them to in striking down laws – laws that Congress passed. So what? Nearly all petitions for relief include a phrase similar to “… and for all other relief as the Court may find just, proper or equitable.” as part of the standard boilerplate. Even if this particular petition did not, the Court always has the right to grant relief on its own motion. Obviously, a majority of the Court felt it was just and proper to do what it did. Its the job of SCOTUS to strike down laws that are unconstitutional, and a court that is doing its job is by definition not engaging in judicial activism, its just being judicious. Its still their job even when (and I’d argue especially when) Congress passes laws. Just because you disagree with a decision does not mean that judicial activism has occurred or that legislation is being passed from the bench. This entire concept is often lost on the folks who cling to the lower runs of the intelligence ladder in our society.

But love it or hate it, the ruling is already having an effect in Oklahoma, as the Ethics Commission met to revise its rules to comply. “We don’t really have a choice. This is the decision of the Supreme Court,” Ethics Commissioner Karen Long astutely observed. While the Supreme Court’s ruling applied only to candidates for federal office, the Constitution (and the Constitutional issues that SCOTUS dealt with and decided) applies to all elections for all offices and all speech. Therefore, its likely Oklahoma and other states that have laws abridging corporate speech are similarly unconstitutional. I do have to say its breath of fresh air to see Oklahoma officials complying with the decision rather than taking the approach Steve Russel (HD – R) did with Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (an approach which Democrats loudly decried – as did I). Of course, not everyone is happy. All of the usual Democrat groups in the state are hymning and hawing at the notion of changing the rules so soon, most likely hoping that Congress can cook up some sort of bill to effectively opt out of the new way of doing things. Its not hard to see the irony in this latest approach if you have even a small amount of intelligence.

You know who I blame for all of this symphony of stupidity? Teachers. That’s right, red apple toting, teachers union card carrying, my union rep will sue the school district if you try to make me accountable public school teachers. After all, they are the ones graduating kids these days who clearly don’t even understand the basic role of The Supreme Court in the process of running our government. Its really scary to see that one of them has gotten himself elected as our president, right after another idiot who couldn’t read or talk who pulled off the same feat. If you want to change the world, invest in education.

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For those unaware, The Daily Oklahoman was named America’s Worst Daily Newspaper by the Columbia Journalism Review in 1999. I believe I recall hearing that they have won this distinction more than once. Read the article for a laundry list of reasons why this is the case. You’ll read the history of how the paper has fought to be led into the ground by its ownership and the manner in which the Gaylord family smears its name all over the front page regularly for non-newsworthy events like a child smears feces on a wall. In fact, the newspaper is often refereed to locally as The Daily Disappointment.

Well, I have one more reason to add to the pile of why The Daily Oklahoman sucks: they lie their asses off in news coverage. In recent coverage of Sarah Palin’s visit to Norman to sign her book, they said:

A group of about 12 protesters lined up on the west side of Hastings and held signs in the air saying “Winners never quit, quitters never win” and “Gay is OK.”

Now – as those who were there know – there were about seventy-five protesters at the Sarah Palin picket that I recently organized. Did I count them? No, I did not. It could have been sixty-five, or even fifty-five. But hell, you can count more than twelve faces and signs in the Oklahoman’s very own news video coverage which they published! It wasn’t about a dozen. Not even close. Hell, every other photo of this event I have seen shows far more than a dozen people present.

This has to be one of the best examples I can find of coverage that was purposefully skewed by this paper. I forgave KOCO-TV for their story, so why is it different with the Daily Oklahoman? Because TV news is made on the fly and once you run a story, you can’t update it and you can’t go back and redo it to present a better angle. But in the newspaper business, you have all night to get the story right until newsroom deadline anyway. And obviously, they weren’t at deadline when there were clearly more than a dozen folks there as evidenced by their other conflicting coverage. This story wasn’t published until the day after the protest.

I think this is just another example of how the Daily Bigot (as I call it) is continuing old traditions of marginalizing homosexuals. If none of the other media had mentioned that gays were picketing, they wouldn’t have either. But since every other outlet ran with the story, they had to say something. So they just minimized it to the greatest possible extent, by saying that only about a dozen homos came out. If you can’t ignore it, then minimize it. I and other event attendees will be writing a joint letter to the editors of The Daily Oklahoman calling them on their mistake in the near future.

But not to worry, folks. Today, The Daily Disappointment ran a story which began as follows: “New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman was awarded Monday the Gaylord Prize for Excellence in Journalism and Mass Communication.” Oh, boy. I’d really be worried if that was me. I think thats Mr. Friedman’s career dissipation light flashing.

P.S. – Special thanks to Victor Gorin for bringing this matter to my attention.

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Some might be surprised to learn that the Sally Kern/Sarah Palin picket was the first major event that I have single-handedly organized without any real assistance. Sure, there were those who helped get the word out and print our signs, but as far as making the decisions, this time I did it all by myself.

To be sure, this event kept me awake several nights worrying. Would it rain? Would it be cold? Would it be too windy? Would it rain while being cold and windy? Would the police give us issues? Would a riot erupt? What would I do if a riot erupted? How can I make sure it remains peaceful? Will there be trouble-starters and if so how will they be dealt with? Have I done everything that I can to ensure participant safety? How can I generate positive, favorable media coverage for the event?

These are some of the questions that weigh on you when you organize an event. Keep in mind, this event was not anything elaborate, it was a picket with signs. Show up, hold signs. We didn’t have to feed anyone, put on a concert or anything else. All we had to do – for the most part – was show up. Not that making that a reality was any small undertaking as anyone who has been any part of anything in Oklahoma will tell you.

Like most intelligent people doing something for the first time, there is always that one big lesson that you take away from the whole thing. Something that you recall and say “Ya know, if I could do it all over again, I sure as hell would change [insert lesson here].” My lesson for this one was as follows: never, ever show up to your event numerous hours early and make yourself available for the press. I decided to show up at about 4:30 PM for an event scheduled to begin at 7 PM to catch any stragglers and early birds. Since the media was already there, I gave interviews and lots of them. Having nothing else to do, it seemed like a good idea.

A few hours later, I would learn the error of my ways. I gave an interview to KOCO-TV, the ABC affiliate in Oklahoma City. They ended up running a lengthy little piece on me, in which I was painted as the lone wolf holding a sign, despite the fact that 75 people or so came out. While I don’t mind being the only one to attend an event (if I put an event on, if no one else shows up, the show still goes on) when the interview closes with the anchor mentioning that its a one man show, it does tend to discredit the event in the eyes of the public.

Moreover KOCO’s reporters never came back to get footage of us massing as they said they would. Now, I am not claiming that KOCO tried to skew coverage, because they do have pictures of many protesters in the form of stills in a gallery on their website. I think they never got back to us with the camera because they only had one cameraman and anchor and a small support staff, I think they were too busy shooting images of Palin and such which arguably was the larger story at that time. But what ran on TV presents the illusion of one nutjob coming out and waving a sign.

So the lesson here is to not talk to the press until the event is in full swing. That way, the story they get and run with matches whats really going on in the field. This is an error in judgment that I wont be repeating.

P.S. – I actually admire the way KOCO covered this event. It was innovative. Thats to say, they went two levels back. They have an anchor and a camera man producing the video, then they have someone else taking stills of that going on. Its like having reporters reporting on reporters. For this event, they had a Live Blog on their website so folks could stay at home (where it was much warmer) and watch whats going on in real time. Unfortunately for me, they published a photo of me giving the interview described above (with a caption underneath reading “The image you see is Reporter Mark Opgrande and [Paul Harrop] interviewing Keith Kimmel. Keith is a protester who says he organized a group of folks on facebook who aren’t happy to have Sarah Palin in Norman.”) so I now have a permanent reminder of this lesson learned.

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So on December 3rd, 2009 – at about 6:30 PM CST – it happened. She arrived, big blue tour bus and all. She would be Sarah Palin. Sally Kern also came, but for once, Sally was not the topic of the day and no one really seemed to notice or care that she was there. She had about 1,000 supporters there to welcome her, and about 75 of us. Us would be the protesters. Some of those present that I know of included Floyd Martin, Caitlin Frazier, John Cloud and Hunter Phillips. If I missed anyone and you are on facebook, friend me, then message me and I will tag you.

Many of the media interviewed us before the bulk of the protesters showed up. So be sure to take a look at photos taken by our folks which provide an in-depth look at the event and closeups of alot of signs.

There have been rumors (started by NewsOK) circulating that Palin planned to speak but canceled the speech because we decided to picket the event. So for those of you who claimed that our protest would be pointless, take this proof and shove it. Not sure if this is true or not, but if it is, its safe to say she heard our message. Here is the news coverage of the event. I will update this as I locate more coverage, if you know of something that’s not on here, please send me a message with a link. Newest coverage will be added to the top of the list.

Oklahoma Gazette: Sarah’s Circus – Mention of protesters towards the end. Print edition had two nice color photos of picketers.
Gossip-Boy: The Dumb One is in the Middle – Homepage Photo Gallery.
The Oklahoma Daily: Scores of Palin fans brave cold at event – OU Student Rachel Singley mentioned and quoted. The print edition had a picture of an unnamed protester next to the Palin photo. The story ran on the front page, above the fold.
CNN: Sara Palin in Norman Oklahoma – CNN iReport.
Tulsa World: Scores of Palin fans brave cold at event – Showed the AP photo of the picketers with a brief mention on page A18. Click Newspaper View to see how it looked on the printed page.
News 9: Photo Gallery – Several pictures of the protesters.
News 9: Palin Book Signing Draws Big Crowd – Interview with MetroStar’s Victor Gorin.
Associated Press: Photo – AP has a photo of our protesters.
News OK: NewsOK Video – Caitlin Frazier interviewed. Great pan shot of the protesters.
News OK: Photo Gallery – One early picture of us starting to mass.
Norman Transcript: Palin makes book tour stop in Norman – Paul Weider, a Norman High School senior mentioned and quoted.
News 9: Palin Welcomed by Hundreds of Fans in Norman – Brief mention of the picketers, coverage starts at about 1:40 in the video.
Channel 5: Protestor Talks About Palin Visit – Interview of me before the picketers got there (it was still light outside).

If you have photos, videos or whatever of the event, please send me links via message. You can e-mail photos to keithontap@gmail.com. Thanks to all of you who came our and made this event a success. While a number of folks would have rather you stayed home, you braved the absolutely frigid temperatures to come out and make a difference. I love you for it. I don’t care what anyone says, our gay community is beautiful and we should be proud of it. And we should show it off at every opportunity we have.

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For those who aren’t aware, I have organized a picket of Sarah Palin’s book signing in Norman. As with any public event, you always have a few naysayers and those with uneducated viewpoints. But I am really tired of hearing from a certain class of them right now. I have mentioned them before in past notes, but clearly they aren’t getting the message. So allow me to debunk the falsehoods about Sarah Palin and my picket once and for all.

Palin Picket Myth #1: If We Don’t Show Up, Palin Will Get Less Attention

Dream on. If picketers don’t show up, she’ll get even more attention. Anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot, uneducated, burying their head in the sand, taking queues from Cimmaron Alliance Foundation or a combination of the above.

You see, the way the news media (which is coming regardless – I have talked to alot of editors and station managers region wide in the last few days, all of them have it on their agenda to cover either themselves or through their affiliate network) works is this: they allocate slots of airtime (or column inches in the printed world) to stories they know for a fact are going to be runnable. They also usually lead the newscast with them and fill in with other stories as they happen. A former vice-presidential candidate coming to the area is one of those types of stories.

So lets say the stations give her a three minutes or 180 second slot. This is probably the amount of time she will actually get. Most news stories are either 30 or 60 second slots. And the newspapers give her, oh, 30 column inches. Now, if no protesters come, the only thing to write about and talk about and show photos of is Palin. Keep in mind the story is going to be written or aired regardless. If you don’t honestly believe that, like I said… time to wake up. Now, lets assume some protesters come and make alot of noise and the newscasts spend 60 seconds talking to them and the papers five column inches writing about them.

Guess what? That’s space and airtime that would have carried a Palin-sponsored message, but now carries our message. Palin just lost attention. Her message got diluted. And since its common to write/talk first about the event and then about any picketers, we also get the last word on the topic. People have short attention spans and short memories, first and last impressions are most powerful and most recalled.

Palin Picket Myth #2: Sarah Palin Isn’t Really Going to Run in 2012

She may not. But most experts feel she is getting ready for a run based on the areas she is visiting. Most areas are in battleground swing states that make or break presidential elections.

Palin Picket Myth #3: Sarah Palin Can’t Win in 2012

This is just good, old fashioned stupidity showing its ass. This same kind of thinking gave us George HW Bush for a president and Sally Kern for a representative. At other times in history, it gave us Adolf Hitler and two world wars. After all, we all knew Hitler wouldn’t really kill all those Jews, right? He was just joking about it in Mein Kempf. Obviously, he did kill the Jews and those who underestimated him were clearly proven wrong.

The fact of the matter is many Republicans find Sarah Palin to be sexy and intelligent. Right or wrong, that’s what they think. Many have compared her to Rush Limbaugh. If Rush were to run, do you think he could win? Most conservatives consider him a hero. He wouldn’t even have to work for their votes. Could he turn a few disgruntled Democrats and promise a few favors to various faction leaders to secure enough votes to take the cake? Yeah, he would have a damn good shot of being successful if he tired. But he has refused to run in the past, despite pressure to do so. Palin hasn’t.

Sarah Palin is a dumb, hateful, stupid bitch. That much we all know and most of us agree on. But it doesn’t matter what we think. People we have felt exactly this way about before have run for office and won. But the party has shown its willing to support her. In fact, she became more popular than her running mate, a sign of a dangerous candidate who is poised to break out of the box and go on a tear. I am sure there were plenty of people who thought Hitler would never go anywhere as a politician too. Opps.

I don’t ignore potential problems, I look for ways to rid myself of them sooner rather than later. And allowing Palin to win the oval office and then dealing with her only then is about the dumbest idea I have ever heard in my life. This is a problem that should be nipped in the bud now.

Palin Picket Myth #4: If We Picket Sarah Palin Now, Barak Obama Cant Easily Get Re-Elected

I have been contacted by several members of the Democratic party who I won’t name (not yet, anyway) who have asked me to please call off the picket. Their line of thinking: if Palin decides not run, Obama might not get re-elected because the Republicans may run a more moderate, intelligent candidate who can spin more convincingly.

First off, Obama has been a worthless president and just as bad of a liar as Palin. So him not being re-elected may be a good thing. But even if we assume that Obama is worth being re-elected, why would we let a dangerous homophobe like her have a shot at getting the largest platform in the world from which to spew her hateful rhetoric? I have a better idea. Lets not let either one of them on the ballot.

Palin Picket Myth #5: The Republican Party is on the Decline, They Can’t Get Palin Elected

Yeah, right. Republicans still have many, many die hard supporters. Most of them are in rural America which controls a huge amount of electoral votes in key swing states. Republicans are still the favorite party of big business and its megacorps that have all the money, not the Democrats welfare moms, illegal immigrants and environmental groups. Need we be reminded that a nuclear bomb, even after having been deactivated and turned off for a time, is still a very dangerous item indeed. The same with the GOP. Despite the fact that they have some issues in their house, they can still raise money and they can still get candidates elected to office.

Palin Picket Myth #6: Everyone Sees Through Palin’s Lies, No One Will Elect Her

Gee, then how did she become the governor of Alaska? Somebody must have voted for her. And lets remember what a couple of hundred million dollars in spin and media buys can accomplish for a candidate. People like Carl Rove are pros at turning bullshit into golden soundbites. And the last time I checked, Rove was on the GOPs team. He damned good at what he does.

Palin Picket Myth #7: Even If Elected, She’s Too Stupid to Get Anything Done

That’s what alot of people thought about George HW Bush and look at all he managed to get done. He destroyed the economy, started two wars, toppled a foreign government, gave away billions to his banker buddies, exported millions of jobs and raised taxes. If that’s what a stupid person can accomplish, I’d hate to a smart one in action.

The bottom line is this: Sarah Palin is a growing threat to freedom now and later. If you sit on your ass and pretend like you are solving problems by ignoring her, then you are only making matters worse. Silence is consent. If you don’t like what you see going on around you and you say nothing to oppose it, you are deemed to have consented to the activities that took place in full view of you. So in other words, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

I’m tired of talking to people who are part of the problem. I don’t care what you have to say, nor do I care what you think. Go away. Leave me alone. Spread your negativity elsewhere. Sit on your ass and while I fight for the rights you don’t deserve, continue to try and discourage participation and turn folks against steps undertaken for real change.

Because together, you “lets pretend like she can’t win and doesn’t hurt anyone” idiots are undermining the cause for rights of all gay people, including me. And you know what? I take that pretty fucking personally. So don’t get upset when I call you on it.

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Dear Editors, Owners, Investors, etc. of Star Media, Ltd. a/k/a MetroStar,

I am writing this open letter to you in response to a web poll that appears on your website. The question asked gives me great cause for concern that you may be about to embark on a course of action that could ultimately destroy the MetroStar newspaper.

As a regular monthly reader of your newspaper (as well as having been occasionally featured in same) who looks forward to each issue hitting the stands, I feel I have a stake in the viability of MetroStar and the outcome of your webpoll, which asks readers if they’d prefer to have a standalone paper covering Oklahoma City only. I presume this poll is in response to a quietly held opinion by a few disenchanted souls that MetroStar is too Tulsa-centric. I have never found any truth to this viewpoint. Rather, it would seem that Tulsa just has more going on most of the time, in large part due to the fact that Tulsa sports a well-organized gay community.

As you are likely aware, the newspaper industry has been going through a rough patch over the last few years. Printed publications focusing on gay life have been hit very hard. Just the last few days has seen over a dozen publications fold as Window Media closed its doors, taking with it top quality publications such as The Washington Blade and sister publications when Avalon Equity Partners was placed into receivership when the Small Business Administration called its loans. Regent Media recently scaled The Advocate back massively, reducing it to an insert to be included with another publication and laid off a substantial portion of its staff. Most feel that Regent is not long for this world, either.

While the industry scales back and consolidates, now is not the time to diversify and launch a paper for each city MetroStar currently serves. From a financial standpoint, its impractical in today’s business climate. I have regular contact with Star staffers (Chaz Ward on occasion, Victor Gorin far more often), who tell me they are stretched pretty thin as it is with regard to reporting duties. No one is faulting them for it or complaining, they are doing the best they can and the result is a quality publication thats free of charge to readers.

But putting out two papers with the same number of staff is twice the work and I fear that the quality of the publication will suffer. The task may even border on the impossible without hiring additional staff. While I am not privy to the financial details of StarNews, Ltd., I get the impression that its a low budget operation that works primarily on a combination of volunteer spirit and ad sales. Adding additional staff may be too much of a strain for the publication to take, this has certainly proved to be the case throughout the industry.

For these reasons, I ask that you please do not undermine and eventually destroy the only newspaper serving this five state area in an attempt to appease the complaints of a handful of ignorant people. There is no newspaper of record to replace the MetroStar should it fold and its unlikely that anyone would step in to resume publication. I feel confident that I speak for many when I say that we as a community value the MetroStar publication and the news it brings us. If it were to be lost, it would be a great loss to the entire community far beyond simply losing a printed document to read.

Thank you for considering my viewpoints as you receive the results of your poll.

Sincerely yours,

Keith Kimmel
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

(Revised and edited 11/19/2009 at 8:30 AM CST)

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