Monday, March 27, 2017

Words About Wind

Polecat Bench Overlooking Badger Basin
27 March 2017

The wind is strong and steady, but there are no visual clues. No tree branches whipping in the air up here—no flags flying, no tall grasses swaying in the breeze.

Everything is stunted and low to the ground. The harshness of this environment has no appreciation for ornate or abundant extremities. The world up here is all about modesty—except for the wind.

You have to look close at short blades of Buffalo grass—specifically the cured out growth from last season. There you can see the wind’s power. 

But you’ll never see it driving at 65mph, or 45mph, or 25 mph—not even at 10 mph. You must be still, and only then you can hear it.

You’ll hear it whipping along the contours of your vehicle. Turn off the engine and you can even feel it rocking the truck. As strong as it is, the sensation inside the heavy machinery is gentle and soothing.

Step out into it and you hear even more. Feel it navigate around your body and head, creating audible turbulence as it works around the odd shapes of your non-aero-dynamic ears.

You sense a lull, perhaps it has finally tired. But no, it is only inhaling another breath of atmosphere into its Wyoming-sized lungs. This next blast is even greater. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Flagpole of Spurn/Squat

There’s this flagpole on our campus that seldom flies a flag—of any kind. On graduation day, an American flag is hoisted up the mass of straightened metal and flies for the day. I’m told that it flies again sometime in the summer when Girls State is in town for the week. So, in all, it might fly a flag for a total of 1 week out of the entire year.

This flagpole of spurn is located in front of our gym which is also the same building of the art offices and classrooms. This January, my office was moved to the art department and it was then that I became acutely aware of the flagstaff’s abandoned state.

I contemplated its under-appreciated existence several times as I pulled up to the building on my Sears single-speed bicycle in the mornings. And then slowly, I started considering the idea of what it would take to dress it up—short of requiring the attendance of a color guard everyday.

These thoughts were totally innocent and had nothing to do with making a statement when it comes to flag-flying. It was a proposal rooted in bringing color to an empty and under-appreciated space on our campus—nothing more. However, if someone had accused me of being “politically correct” in this proposal, I suppose I would have absorbed that charge as well.

Flag Laws
The first thing I did was look into the legality of flying a non-American flag on a college campus. I didn’t think there was anything illegal about it, but nevertheless I did a bit a googling.

There were a few things I didn’t know and many things I already knew. The new knowledge I gained about flag flying had to do with the flag-flying laws of each state—and almost all of it was in the context of the American flag. For example, did you know that…

• On Memorial Day, the flag is to fly at half-mast until noon.

In my search to find anything wrong with my proposal, I found only the following:

• The American flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.

• In North Dakota, public display of other than the U.S. flag, a State flag, or flag of a friendly foreign nation is prohibited.

• In California, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Idaho the display of the red flag or any other flag in a public place is prohibited. A plain red flag is associated with socialist or communist rallies—think International Workers’ Day. It is also an unofficial symbol for socialism, communism, and left-wing politics—going all the way back to the French Revolution.

However, when it comes to Wyoming, I could only find the following: “prohibits state military organizations from carrying other than U.S. flags.”

The Proposal
Following my semi-exhaustive research into any flag laws that might bite me in the arse, I sent my proposal out in an email to the campus community:

If there are no objections, the Art Department would like to be the caretakers of the flagpole in front of Cabre Gym. In case you’re wondering, it only flies a flag (the American and Wyoming flag) on graduation day. We would like to give it something else to do for the remainder of the academic year (perhaps even summers) as well.

As its caretakers, we would like to fly a number of different flags—a new one every week if we can muster it. National flags where some of our students come from, other states where our students come from, professional organization flags that are active on our campus, flags that represent humanitarian causes, and of course, flags that simply celebrate art—hopefully generated by our students. (Hey Del Nose, how about sending us a NIRA flag for this spring?) We’ve even considered having a contest to see who can identify a not-so-common flag now and then.

And fear not, we’ve established a checks and balance system: any flag that flies must be agreed upon by all members of the Art Department before it is hoisted up the pole.

Lastly, during the entire week of graduation, we agree to fly Old Glory and the Wyoming flag only while lowering them each day at sunset (unless we get lights for it).

So, if you have a flag that you believe is worthy of this cause and you’d like to see it fly in front of Cabre Gym, send it our way and we’ll fly it some upcoming week. Let’s put some colorful leaves on that tall, gray tree.

—Morgan Tyree
Asst. Prof. of Graphics

The Reception
As expected, the responses from this timid, little campus were few—probably about five percent of the entire campus faculty and staff (if that). The first responders were all very favorable. But one community member was against the idea unless there was another flagpole. Another chimed in saying that flying other flags “would be asking for some unwelcome response.” One staff member wondered if the flagpole and whatever flag was flying might “become a bully pulpit for any particular way of thinking.” He also asked, “Is the Art Department willing to offend both sides by giving equal time on the pole?”

But the biggest stink came from a middle-management administrator, who was vehemently opposed.

Despite her opposition and informing me that it was illegal, she proved to be no better than our President Trump when it came to citing facts. Here’s the back and forth via email that transpired.

She said:
I do have an issue with other country’s flags being flown on the American soil without the presence of the Old Glory….it is downright disrespectful and I take offense to it.

There is a code of conduct when it comes to displaying other nations’ flags on American soil….as was suggested in your email regarding international students’ country of origin flags being displayed without the American flag. 

There is a code of conduct when it comes to flying the American flag and as Americans we need to respect the symbol of our nation.  Keep in mind the people of this community provide financial support to our College and I am sure many will be offended if they don’t see the Old Glory respected properly.

You may want to refer to U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7 regarding the display of other nation’s flags on American soil.

My response:
I couldn’t disagree with you more. There’s no law that says you can’t fly another flag of nationality on a Wyoming college campus. Those laws have to do with flying other nation flags alongside the American flag. The flagpole in front of Cabre Gym is not an “American only” flagpole. This isn’t about being disrespectful to the American flag or marginalizing it in any way, and I’m sorry if you take it that way. It’s simply about flying other flags for the sake of brightening up a campus eyesore. But, if there’s enough noise about this, it’ll stay barren because I don’t have the energy for making this into a political/patriotic debate.

She said:
There are laws ESPECIALLY for public buildings such as our College and it would be beneficial for you to research it a bit.

My response:
Show me the language. Cut and paste it.

She said:
Research flag code for the state of Wyoming

My response:
This is all I’ve uncovered…

Wyoming “prohibits state military organizations from carrying other than U.S. flags.” See section on “forbidden flags” by state. http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-law.html

She said:
Research further on the code regarding the flag for public buildings.

My response:
Quit wasting my time. You show me. You say it’s there, cut and paste it for me.

She said:
As a scholar you know how to research so enjoy researching. : )

My response:
I’ve looked and found nothing that verifies your claim. Time to put up or shut up about it. Prove me wrong.

She said:
Morgan, I don’t appreciate your rudeness towards me. Your email started with “if there are no objections”…….I had objections and shared them with you in a civil manner and have tried to hold a discussion with you. I don’t appreciate being told to shut up.

My response:
My apologies, but you still haven’t supported your claim.

She said:
Morgan, whenever I want to start any project, I make sure to do my research before I present it.  I am not obligated to prove anything. However since this is your project, the burden is on you to do thorough research.

My response:
Ha! So, you really have nothing. I shared with you the little bit of related research I could find on this subject. The onus is on you now to prove otherwise since you have disagreed with my findings—skimpy as they may be. I’m sure if you really had something concrete and convincing, you would have schooled me properly on matters of research by now—which I would humbly accept. You would have done well to simply object on your own merits without referencing some obscure/mysterious/non-existent flag law that you are unable to verify.

She said:
Morgan,
you made me laugh out loud.....you are funny :)

My response:
You’re pretty hilarious too.

What a time-waster. In the end, having this “civil” discourse with one of my educational colleagues was an educational bust. Instead of just simply saying that she would find it offensive, she defended her blind patriotism with a made-up-in-her-mind flag law, all the while citing the importance of doing educational research. Yet, in the end, she couldn’t produce a shred of evidence that backed up her claims. Reminds me of a defenseless parent who resorts to saying something like, “Do what I say, not what I do!” 

A part of me has embraced this outcome because it’s pretty much what I expected from such a weak-kneed and unimaginative community (as a whole). All it took was a minuscule, but vocal few to drown out whatever numbers of quiet support there may have been.

No doubt I should have listened to a friend who texted me and told me to stay out of it with the following…

I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer here, but if you’re serious about a career move you don't need to be distracted by shit like this. Focus grasshopper. If you’re getting out of NWC, it’s time to turn your back for good. Don’t post this flag stuff on your blog either. And yeah, I expected some sort of reaction like this when u told me about it. 

And, I don’t always make the right choices either. 

Folding it up
In the end, I suppose it’s truly symbolic (since we’re talking about flag-flying) of this community that an empty, barren and cheerless flagpole turns out to be preferred over flying a few harmless rags of color. Think about that symbolism.

Ironically, this brief discourse has come and gone with very little input from a significant membership of the community—it’s students. But, since the newspaper has been taken down, what other means do we have to engage the student population on such matters?

There’s much to read into about a community that is hesitant/unwilling to fly any flag other than the national flag. Perhaps they don’t want to be labeled unpatriotic, but if I were a betting man, it strikes me as textbook xenophobia. Nevertheless, I suppose it’s a fine line between the two.

Lastly, in contemplating political correctness, in the run-up to Donald Trump’s presidency, he and his followers in the national spotlight railed on the whole political correctness “thing,” claiming it was getting in the way of looking out for America’s best interests (albeit “White America”). I wouldn’t have thought the same message would resonate so far down the food chain to our minuscule, local level—but indeed, it has.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Death to the GOP

Donald Trump has delivered. We can not act surprised in this man of action and the promises he has made and carried out thus far. However, just because someone makes promises and delivers, doesn't make them noble, ethical or magnanimous. He is simply a man of action with a diabolical agenda—not a role model for any decent human.

Despite my unhealthy views for the orange-faced dictator, I have even more contempt for those who continue to support him and prop up his agenda in what is known as the Republican party.

I’ll confess here, that I've never gone out of my way to vote Republican, but I've never ruled them out completely. And yes, I have voted Republican a few times in my voting life. But, after today—after the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education—I never will again. No more. Nada. I’m finished voting for these political whores of the rich and powerful. I’ll vote an independent-write-in before I vote for another Republican. I’ll make up an opponent before I vote for a fucking Republican again. Anyone who chooses to run under the same flag that is propped up by scoundrels and frauds like Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence, John Barrasso, Mike Enzi, Paul Ryan—and yes, Donald Trump—are guilty by association in my book. The GOP has become a shameless party fueled by pure unapologetic deceit and unabashed hypocrisy—camouflaged in Christian values and the American flag.

The Republicans have become a desperate bunch who know the glory days of the “grand old White party” are waning, and they’ll do anything they can to hold on to power. Welcome to the early stages of America’s Apartheid. Hopefully it is short-lived.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

He Is My President

Donald Trump is my President, and I think he is a fuck-wit.

I may not like Trump, but I really do have to accept him as my President just like he may not like me calling him a fuck-wit, but he’s going to have to accept that too.

So, for the next four years (and hopefully it won’t be that long) I intend to doubt everything about him based on his past. Give him a chance? No way—he’s a calculating jackass. And who gives a calculating jackass a second, third, or fourth chance? I saw all I needed to see during his campaigning—which was disturbing to say the least. I have all kinds of adjectives for Trump—none are favorable, and I don’t see anything on the horizon that will make me think differently. I’ll never rule out the possibility of having something good to say about the douche, but I’m doubtful. He’s dug himself in pretty deep as I see it.

But, for the record I am willing to admit I’m wrong about anything to do with Trump if it ever comes to that. In fact, I would prefer such an outcome. This is one time I don’t want to be right.

Which reminds me; people don’t like to admit they are wrong and they don’t like to say “I’m sorry.” In this day and age, it seems more true than ever. And that’s the scary part. Too many of the proud Trump voters will probably stick to their guns even when the most casual observer has concluded Trump is every bit the fraudster we said he was. When the economy tanks, when the good-paying manufacturing jobs never materialize, when crime starts rising again—and God forbid—the nukes come raining down on the world, the mouth-breathers of the United States will find someone else to blame. I betcha Obama will be the scapegoat. 

As a voter who voted for the loser, it’s important for me to point out here that the uproar over this President, isn’t about Republicans winning and Democrats losing. It’s about an asshole running the country. It’s about an asshole fooling a lot of good people. It takes a fool to vote for a fool, but Trump roped many others with his little feat of political sorcery—competent, smart, and reasonable people. Nevertheless, I suspect many of them will come to regret that choice someday.

Had Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, or even Ted Cruz won the election, nothing would be going on like it is today—nothing like it at all. Oh sure, there would be some cracks at one of those new Presidents (no worse than G.W. Bush or Obama), but Donald Trump is in a class all on his own, and it’s a very, very low class—where the greasiest, double-dealing snake-oil salesmen dwell. You voted for Rubio over Hillary, I get’cha. But, you voted for Trump over Hillary (or anyone)! What the fuck, man!

So, as this shit-show of a Presidency unfolds, I will remain optimistic as I anticipate the day when Donald Trump is a broken and demoralized man—more so than the day of Dylan Roof’s execution.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Membership Has Its Privileges

Racism isn’t just politically incorrect, it’s wrong. And sadly, this still has to be said as 2016 comes to an end.

I’m not an expert on racism, but sooner or later we all end up in conversations about it, and like it or not, we end up speaking our mind. I’ve done so before on this blog and after watching a disturbing video recently, perhaps this is a good time to say something about it again—in particular, “reverse racism” since it is gaining traction in light of our new President and his followers.

Over the years, I’ve heard my share of White folk now and then talk about “reverse racism”—stating events where they or someone they know (also White) have experienced it. It kind of makes sense if you don’t think too hard about what they are saying, but I’ve never bought into this fabricated concept, and here’s why.

Racism is something that is dealt out by a majority. Now, if you are White and living in a neighborhood where a minority of our country’s citizens are the majority, you might experience racism at the local level, but you won’t have much to worry about beyond that neighborhood. However, if you’re a minority of our country, you probably have plenty of stories in your life where you have experienced the ugliness of racism no matter where you live.

Many see minority and majority in terms of numbers only. But, those who possess the greatest power easily become the majority as well—see Apartheid South Africa circa 1960s. Here in the United States, Whites make up over 60% of the population and the closest contestant to that are Latinos at a paltry 16%, with Blacks coming in at 12.2%. Given this math and the excessive distribution of power doled out to Whites in government and business, it’s safe to say that Caucasians are indisputably safe as our country’s majority.

It’s also important to keep in mind that racism is based on two important concepts that minorities don’t have much of, and therefore can not exercise: power and privilege. Look no further than the disproportionate arrest and sentencing for people of color vs. Whites when it comes to… say, drug crimes. Further, Whites are certainly less likely to experience racial profiling and when arrested, will almost certainly have superior legal representation compared to those of color. Finally, the odds favor Whites when it comes to talking themselves out of an arrest—especially if it is a White police officer.

The bottom line is this: you can’t make a legitimate claim as a victim of racism providing you’re a member of the majority. 

And while you’re at it, don’t get confused when it comes to angry words, protests or fights for equality as some form of racism. This is simply (and understandably) an unpleasant response from centuries of White privilege and power. Civility is nice if you can get it, but not everyone who has experienced racism is going to be nice about it when it comes up in discussion. Being a pollyanna about such discussions will only confirm how comfortable you truly are in your White privilege—which probably means you are a racist.

Lastly, I read this not long ago:

Making a racist statement is a manifestation of racist culture; being “mean” isn’t. For Whites, it can be difficult to be confronted with the reality of racism, and with comments from people of color about how privilege and power operate. It’s tempting to take such comments personally and to insist that people of color are being “mean,” which is often a hop, skip, and a jump away from an accusation of reverse racism. —S.E. Smith


I’m unsure if there will ever be a time in the future when being a member of the majority won’t be a privilege. However, as long as that’s the case, along with your privilege you should include several good measures of accountability, compassion and an ability to absorb criticism or insults that may not be as personal as you think. It’s a puny price to pay.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Critics Unite!

It’s a fine line between being a critic or being a complainer. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who isn’t too afraid to speak out and offer up a critique on any given issue that I encounter. As a result, and over the years, I know many in my community and workplace see me as a complainer.

For the record, here’s some definitions that I scrounged up on these two terms:

Critic: a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something, the practice of judging the merits and faults of something.

Complainer: one who states a grievance, an expression of displeasure.

I’ve certainly  “shot my wad” as the expression goes. Translation: I’ve spoken up enough times—especially in those instances when no one else did—that anything I say from here on is for the most part greeted as, “Oh, that’s just Morgan complaining again. He’s always complaining about something.”

In contemplating these two terms, I’ve stumbled onto many famous quotes that defend and attack the critic/complainer. 

In the corner attacking criticism/complaining, there are the following:

“Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.” —Emmet Fox

“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.” —unknown

If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant.” —Chris Brogan (Akin to “If you don’t like it, leave.”)

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” –Benjamin Franklin

“Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.” —Joyce Meyer

And in the corner defending the critic/complainer, we have these:

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” —Frank A. Clark

“I like criticism. It makes you strong.” —LeBron James

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” —Winston Churchill

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president... is morally treasonable to the American public.” —Theodore Roosevelt

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” —Norman Vincent Peale

“I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.” —Johannes Kepler

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I relate more to those quotes that defend the critic while those who attack it strike me as thin-skinned do-gooders who are actually up to no-good.

In the last four years or so, I’ve been relatively quiet in my critiques, which can be verified by looking at the frequency of posts to this blog. Some friends have even noted it as well saying things like, “You’ve been pretty quiet lately—what’s going on?”

I must confess that the election of Donald Trump and everything that he brings (and doesn’t bring) to the Presidency has awakened me. Yep, critical posts to Facebook and my little circle of like-minded friends (mostly) isn’t good enough any longer. So, here I am.

Further, rather than critiquing something about the President-elect here or some other important issue in our world or nation, I’d like to offer up this critique to those who are a little closer to me—those who have patted me on the back at some point in the past and told me quietly, “I’m so glad you said that, I feel the same way.”

Well, the time has come and Morgan has used up a good chunk of his “cred”  in all of his critiques. Which means it’s time for you to speak up and say those things that you have been content with only hearing from those like me. Yep, imagine… just imagine if you are the one who speaks up before me, or along with me, instead of sitting on your hands. Imagine yourself and a few others speaking up instead of being silent. Suddenly, it’s not, “That’s just ‘Tirade Tyree’ spouting off again,” but now there are several who feel this way and maybe, just maybe others will consider the critique and take it seriously and perhaps even get behind it as well. And the next thing you know, change is unfolding before us all.

So, quit patronizing me or others when no one else is around. Get off your ass and speak up for those things you believe in and call out wrong when it is sitting right in front of you. Quit caring about how you come out in the local or national popularity contest and make a stand.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Abusing a New President

America Becomes Great Again
Those who proclaim “Not My President” in light of the recent Presidential election outcomes, are catching quite a bit of shit these days—and most of it coming from those who supported the winner, Donald Trump.

I’m not sure when, where, or who came up with this popular phrase, but it certainly wasn’t conceived as the election results poured in on the night of November 8, 2016.

I remember after the election of 2008 seeing newly minted bumper stickers with this phrase in my community. Now, it would be easy for me to stop here and lay the blame on the Republican, conservative-minded folk for coming up with this brand. Further, it really felt racist given how we had just elected the first Black President (even if half Black). But, I live in a heavily Republican state—so heavy that it would surely vote for a turd excreted from a Republican over a highly-qualified Democrat—and in hindsight, I suspect it was only new to me back then. Surely this same slogan was being tossed around in Democratic strongholds following the election of George W. Bush.

So, as to the origins of this phrase, it probably isn’t as new as many of us think. And like all things that become popular, wherever it truly originated, it probably didn’t get much fanfare when it was first blurted out, but over the years—with the election of each new President—it has gained some traction.

Akin to these slogans, Presidential “nicknames” have become quite popular as well. Ones that come to mind are “Slick Willie” for Clinton, “Dubya” for George W. Bush, “Obummer” for Obama, and surely something is brewing in the wings for Donald Trump—“The Donald,” “Pussy-Grabber,” and “The Dump” are surely strong contenders as I write this.

I know these phrases and nicknames are somewhat new relative to our country’s existence. There was a time when almost all people respected the President and considered him (but sadly “never her” ) their President. But those days are gone. Are we less respectful today than say, the 1840s? Perhaps. But, I would simply lay the blame on our greater connectedness and that more people have a voice today thanks to the vast and economical communication networks that are in place. Like Gutenberg’s metal moveable type invention that lead to greater literacy for the masses, the same has taken place providing a greater voice for the individual.

As far as a unified respect for the President… we may never see that again.