Publisher: What’s going on in America?

When I watch and read the “news,” I often ask myself, “What the hell is going on? Have people gone nuts with no filters?” Below are just a few recent stories in our nation, reported by the media, that have made me pause to ask, “Is this for real?” 

But before I criticize the actions of these Americans, I should note there are days with news of tweets by President Donald Trump that make me cringe and question in amazement, “Did the commander-in-chief really say that?” His brash, and sometimes crude, comments may “hit back” and get action, but they coarsen the discourse and lower the bar for both the office and the national conversation. He should set the example.

That being said, read these “news” stories and ask yourself what they say about our country and culture:

• A teen in Utah was “called out” on Twitter for wearing a Chinese dress to prom that she bought at a vintage store because she thought it was beautiful. (It was.) It started with Jeremy Lam, a Chinese-American, tweeting, “My culture is not your … prom dress.” Others, including Chinese-American women, supported her and said she “rocked the dress.” The student wearing the dress got 137,000 likes for her tweet. Does it matter? There is a long-running debate over “appreciating” and “appropriating” a culture. It was simply a prom dress she liked, and she had every right to wear it. It wasn’t about Lam or his culture. Get over it.

• Stripper and adult film star Stormy Daniels files a defamation lawsuit alleging that a Trump tweet intended to call Daniels’ credibility into question. What is the standard to defame a stripper? Of course, it is Trump that put her in the news—and now we all have to deal with it. But the media salivate over another story about the “big” blonde stripper from Baton Rouge. Why would they treat her latest PR stunt as “news?” (By the way, the weather forecast for the Capital City shows it will be “stormy” this week as her tour rolls into her hometown. Lucky us.)

• Celebrities line up to stop following musician Kanye West on Twitter because he said some nice things about President Donald Trump. Why does anyone care what West says—and why do they think we care who follows him on Twitter? Get a life.

• I am sure you read the news about comedian Michelle Wolf’s performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner. I thought she was repulsive, mean and vulgar—and she was panned by most after it was over. She clearly wasn’t going for laughs—but headlines. A few defended her and said she gave the media what it wanted. It was a new low in D.C. for these media correspondents.

• I saw the new “Dancing With the Stars” includes Tonya Harding as a “skating legend.” TV has reached a new low. And the public watches this garbage. Anything for ratings.

• A Fresno State University professor tweeted in celebration of Barbara Bush’s recent death calling her an “amazing racist.” Of course, technology gives a platform to such despicable people and the media then increases the volume. Sadly, the university president condemns it but claims it is “free speech.” Such critics of America and all its ills are the same ones who lavishly partake of the many freedoms it provides. I just wonder if this university would be like so many on the West Coast that refuse “free speech” to outsiders they disagree with? Hypocrites.

• Eric Reid, a former LSU star now playing pro football, has joined his former teammate, Colin Kaepernick, and filed his own collusion claim against the NFL. Reid is a free agent and has not been signed by any team yet. Reid was the first to join Kaepernick and kneel during the national anthem. Sorry, Eric, but welcome to the real world, where attitude and actions impact people’s decisions on who they want to work with. This goes in football, business and life. Why don’t you and Colin quit complaining and accept that? Do you have any proof? It’s a free country and we can all make our own choices—including the NFL owners.

• After 108 years, the Boy Scouts program is changing its name to “Scouts BSA” and will allow girls in 2019. The Girl Scouts organization says it will continue its mission.

• We are now having debates about allowing school teachers to carry guns and children to wear bullet-proof backpacks. What happened to the days of innocent children going to school to learn and parents knowing they are safe? Troubling times in America.

Zoo has become circus

As many look for economic development for north Baton Rouge, it appears they will continue with the delusion that a better zoo will be the cure, bringing jobs and development. Proponents choose to ignore the reality of location, access, demographics and drawing customers. (Consider Cortana Mall.)

But to make sure it stays put and loses money, Rep. Barbara Carpenter, Sen. Regina Barrow and Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks even teamed up to ask the state to intervene, since they don’t trust EBR residents to handle local matters. These three tried to get the state Legislature and the Metro Council involved in passing state laws to ban BREC from moving the zoo out of its current location. Seriously?

Fortunately, the Legislature and Metro Council didn’t take their actions seriously and ignored such changes. Sound judgment prevailed.

This embarrassing spectacle with BREC and many elected officials was the equivalent of a magic act—in which we all watched the zoo turn into a circus. But maybe they are onto something—a circus would draw more people.

If we choose to ignore the zoo experts and follow the advice of our “local visionaries,” then maybe it is time to abandon the idea of a zoo and spend its funding on a year-round circus or waterpark inside Cortana Mall—and kill two birds with one stone.

Our downtown success

While we often can get frustrated with the pace of change right here at home, it is nice to read our current cover story and reflect on where we were in downtown—and how far we have come—when most said it would never happen. If fact, one candidate for mayor in 2000 said the effort to bring back downtown was like “putting lipstick on a dead woman.” Take a look at her now. Wow. Congratulations to all who made it happen.

The story tells of the cooperative effort by many after creating a big vision and committing to see it through. Downtown was not only “Revitalized” but is also our face for the future and an example of the possibilities for the Capital City and region. Success is not a destination—it’s a journey. 

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