The Pencil Today


The family and friends of our town’s Nancy Hiller are grieving today. No details are necessary. Only that they’ve suffered a great loss. They need peace and time to heal.

They’re awfully lucky they have someone near them as strong as Nancy. She’s been one of my heroes since I first heard of her here in Bloomington. It may be a while before I hear her cackle again at the Book Corner. Her loved ones will know time is passing, and they are healing, when they hear her laugh once more.


To Out Or Not To Out

Let’s say there’s a United States Senator who’s gay. He doesn’t want it known because he represents a conservative state, oh, South Carolina, for instance. He feels he can lead his state and vote for its best interests and that his sexual feelings are irrelevant to that end. He also knows that should his sex life become public knowledge, he’ll be drummed out of office quicker than a pol who believes Barack Obama was born in this holy land.

This Senator is, naturally, a conservative. That’s alright in my book. Free-spending, free-thinking liberals, progressives, and borderline radicals such as the kingpin of this media empire need to be balanced off in public discourse by those who are more in favor of belt-tightening and tradition. That’s how I view a good conservative: One who watches our pennies and is prudent and cautious in terms of societal and moral change.

Scene from "It's a Joke, Son"

So, our So. Car. Sen. is a good conservative. He throws federal nickles around, to borrow football legend Mike Ditka’s reference to his boss, George Halas, like manhole covers. He calls for time to ponder legislation that upends dearly held conventions.

When a national issue affecting homosexuals arises in the Senate, our fictional legislator keeps mum. He advocates for neither side in the debate. He may even absent himself when votes on things like a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution come up. He is terribly uncomfortable when put in that position. But he feels his other work on behalf of his fellow S.C.-ers outweighs any need for him to take a stand on an issue in which he has such a profound personal interest.

Now, I would rather him come out in a press conference tomorrow morning. I would rather him shake his fist and holler that all people deserve rights and respect, no matter whom they sleep with.

But coming out is such a thorny proposition. I can accept someone making the apparent moral compromise that this putative Senator has made. Therefore, if someone got the idea to out him against his will, I would find that to be a dirty, rotten trick.

Fair enough?

Okay, let’s take the example of another Congressbeing, this one on the other side of the Capitol, in the House of Representatives. This legislator, too, is gay. He also keeps his sex life well under wraps. Just like our imaginary Senator, he’s afraid his constituents in his conservative district would yank him out of office in the snap of a finger if his choice of sex partners became known.

In fact, this Representative is so afraid of losing his position of power and authority that he adopts a stance that is completely contrary to his own sexual lifestyle. He loudly rails against homosexuality. He’s all in favor of a Constitutional marriage amendment. He fights against every piece of legislation intended to broaden the rights of lesbians, gays, and other sexual outlaws.

His homophobic stance actually draws more voters to him in his very conservative district. It can be said one of the reasons he remains a US Representative is his tireless work to stymie advances for the homosexual community.

What if reporters and investigators were to air evidence that this man is gay? Would they be doing him wrong?

I just flipped through my moral code book and right there on page 23 it says, plainly and clearly: “He has absolutely no room to complain. Out away!”

Fair enough?

No matter. This latter scenario may not be imaginary. Illinois 18th District Congressbeing Aaron Schock, a Republican (what else?) was essentially outed against his will this week by freelance gay reporter Itay Hod. Schock, who’s been the object of gay rumors for ages, has gone so far as to switch his Instagram account from public to private in an effort to ward off the onslaught.

From The Smoking Gun

The Faces Of Aaron Schock

I won’t say we hate hypocrisy in this great nation, considering the fact that we tolerate it every day, 24 hours a day. We not only tolerate it, we demand it. It’s truer to say we love it. Most times.

In a case like Schock’s, the rumors and evidence (if true and accurate) are sure to inflame observers of both sides of the fence. The Left will attack him because he’s closeted and a homophobe. The Right, simply because he’s gay.

Either way, Schock’s political career looks to be dead in the water. But if those asserting “proof” that he’s gay are wrong, I can only hope their careers are just as dead.

Huzzahs For Parking Meters

A coupla guys kicked my petite, sensitive, and delicate posterior yesterday via the comments section of this communications colossus.

I’d written that Bloomington’s new downtown parking meters are “universally despised.” Peter Kaczmarczyk yelled at me to “get out of [my] echo chamber.” He sez he digs metered parking because “I can now find parking when before I could not.”

Loyal opposition Minister of Truth, David Paglis of “The Region,” wagged his finger at me, writing, “What alternative source of city funding do you propose?”

I gather I should have clarified my position once again. I’m not at all against the meters. I know the city needs dough. I also know the city wants to crack down on college students monopolizing precious downtown parking spaces with their mom-and-dad-paid-for, aircraft-carrying SUVs.

In fact, I’ve written that those calling for the heads (and seats) of Mayor Kruzan and the City Council Six are acting awfully drama-queenish. Most of the outcry against the meters has been of an exaggerated, hyperbolic, the-sky-is-falling nature.

My take is the meters will contribute in only the teensiest way to an already extant metamorphosis of the courthouse square from that of a collection of quaint, independent merchants to loud, expensive watering holes, many of which likely will be financed by outsiders.

As for me living in an echo chamber, I can only say that I based my broad brush stroke pronouncement on the everyday discussions I have with customers, restaurant owners, and merchants who are very nearly unanimous in their distaste for metered parking. And, as a matter of fact, I regularly tell customers that finding parking is a hell of a lot easier around the Book Corner now.

Thanks for commenting, guys and gals.

That’s all for today. Peace, Love & Soul.

One thought on “The Pencil Today

  1. nrhiller says:

    Damn, Mike. I hadn’t seen this until now. The Internet is weird. Thanks for this.

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