Diane von Furstenberg Receives International Rescue Committee Freedom Award

Diane von Furstenberg was recognized by the International Rescue Committee on Thursday evening with the organization’s Freedom Award at its annual gala, the Rescue Dinner. The designer visited refugees in June at the IRC’s offices in Alexandria, Greece, where she met IRC staff members and Syrian refugees, who were recovering from traumas experienced on their journeys while trying to reunite with their families in Northern Europe.
Earlier this week, von Furstenberg visited the New York Resettlement Office to participate in a refugee business development workshop, where she met with a Congolese woman who is committed to starting an ice cream business.
The IRC notes they award the Freedom Award to “individuals who have made extraordinary contributions in support of refugees, and who have championed the cause of liberty, individual freedom and dignity. Diane von Furstenberg, a legend in the fashion industry, is a dedicated philanthropist and an outspoken advocate for vulnerable people.”
It has previously been awarded to the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Sen. John McCain, George Soros, Kofi Annan, Madeleine Albright and Winston Churchill.

Diane von Furstenberg at the IRC office in Greece. 

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Ode to Freedom – Bernstein in Berlin: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Choral” – Leonard Bernstein, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra & New York Philharmonic

Leonard Bernstein, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra & New York Philharmonic - Ode to Freedom - Bernstein in Berlin: Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125

Ode to Freedom – Bernstein in Berlin: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 "Choral"

Leonard Bernstein, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra & New York Philharmonic

Genre: Classical

Price: $ 9.99

Release Date: January 1, 1990

© ℗ 1990 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

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# Summer 2018: Driving with Jazz – Holiday, Freedom, Happiness – Jazz Music Collection, Instrumental Jazz Music Ambient & Classical Jazz Academy

Jazz Music Collection, Instrumental Jazz Music Ambient & Classical Jazz Academy - # Summer 2018: Driving with Jazz - Holiday, Freedom, Happiness  artwork

# Summer 2018: Driving with Jazz – Holiday, Freedom, Happiness

Jazz Music Collection, Instrumental Jazz Music Ambient & Classical Jazz Academy

Genre: Instrumental

Price: $ 5.99

Release Date: July 13, 2018

© ℗ 2018 Mood Jazz Ambient Rec

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New Hymn to Freedom – Szun Waves

Szun Waves - New Hymn to Freedom  artwork

New Hymn to Freedom

Szun Waves

Genre: Jazz

Price: $ 4.99

Release Date: August 31, 2018

© ℗ 2018 The Leaf Label

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Freedom Summer – Translee

Translee - Freedom Summer  artwork

Freedom Summer

Translee

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Price: $ 7.99

Release Date: August 28, 2018

© ℗ 2018 Digital Native Culture / Grand Hustle

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FREEDOM Legends – Stephen Arseneault

Stephen Arseneault - FREEDOM Legends  artwork

FREEDOM Legends

Stephen Arseneault

Genre: Science Fiction

Publish Date: September 10, 2017

Publisher: Stephen Arseneault

Seller: Smashwords, Inc.


The exciting first book of the FREEDOM series. For 500 generations Humans have been addicted to a drug called Shackle. We are slaves to the alien species of the galaxy. Bought, traded, sold, and hunted for sport. Our value is measured only in credits. But a virus is sweeping through the Human population, altering a gut bacteria and making Humans immune to Shackle's addiction. As we become aware of our condition, we begin to yearn for freedom. Will the legends of our past be enough to show us the way?

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The Freedom of Camming With a Chronic Illness

At the age of 19, I found myself hospitalized in critical condition from a severe flare-up of Ulcerative Colitis, a colon-specific autoimmune disorder. I was temporarily blinded and unable to use my hands due to acute anemia.
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Jay Z 4:44 Concert, Philadelphia Freedom For Meek Mill

[[tmz:video id=”0_52ng0d7p”]] Jay-Z was on Meek Mill’s home turf Friday night and showed rousing support for the “Free Meek” movement. Hova played the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia as part of his 4:44 tour, and played Meek’s song, “Dreams and…

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Freedom Child – The Script

The Script - Freedom Child  artwork

Freedom Child

The Script

Genre: Pop

Price: $ 10.99

Release Date: September 1, 2017

© ℗ 2017 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited

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Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers (Unabridged) – Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman - Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers (Unabridged)  artwork

Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers (Unabridged)

Nick Offerman

Genre: Comedy

Price: $ 26.95

Publish Date: May 26, 2015

© ℗ © 2015 Penguin Audio

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Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival (Live) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival (Live)  artwork

Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival (Live)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Genre: Rock

Price: $ 12.99

Release Date: August 28, 2015

© ℗ 2015 Experience Hendrix, L.L.C., under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

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Slavery vs. Freedom?: A Cost Analysis

Is there an advantage to being a slave rather than a minimum wage worker, who lives on a subsistence salary? A slave is a piece of property that needs to be maintained, just like a car or tractor. Hence from a health point of view, the situation of the slave is better than that of many workers in America, who still struggle with health costs, despite the advances of Obamacare.

A slave, like a pet, also has to be fed and treated with plenty of TLC, otherwise it will become squirrelly and indolent. Repeated punishments and beatings have not been found to increase the effectiveness of slaves. Minimum wage workers, however, require little TLC. If a worker in a fast food joint doesn’t perform his job, there’s always a replacement waiting in the wings. Of course, freedom is the one thing that slaves don’t have. Everyone talks about freedom and dreams of it, but once it arrives its benefits fall far short of the promise that was once held out. Sure it’s nice to be free, but freedom like independence means that you end up having to fend for yourself. It’s nice to be free if you can hack it, but if you end up having a hard time in an increasingly competitive marketplace, then you may want think about relinquishing your freedom.

In general, when you create a spreadsheet and list all the pluses and minuses of freedom versus slavery, you’re going to find that it’s a very close call. Would you rather be enslaved by a relatively nice owner, say a Thomas Jefferson type, or work for McDonald’s for the rest of your life?

This was originally submitted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy’s blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.

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Communion Music Announces U.S. Residency Tour Featuring Conrad Sewell, Freedom Fry, and Clara-Nova

2015-08-18-1439941982-4626889-communionresidency.jpg

Though summer is coming to an end and festival season is dying down, music junkies needn’t worry as fall will bring a new season with plenty of music. The artist-led music organization, Communion, announces their fall U.S. residency tour which will be visiting 11 cities across the country and showcasing multiple genres along with established and emerging talent. The touring September artists will include Freedom Fry, Clara-Nova and Conrad Sewell, who sang on Kygo’s track “Firestone” and will soon be releasing his debut album. Notable acts of past residency tours include Walk The Moon, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Magic Man, Sturgill Simpson, Vacationer, Rubblebucket and Bear’s Den.

Communion Music was founded in London by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, Kevin Jones of Bear’s Den and producer Ian Gimble in 2006. Created in the basement bar of Notting Hill Arts Club, the crew’s network of musicians quickly grew alongside their organization. Their nine years of existence has seen a meteoric rise in success having released records for major artists such as Ben Howard, Gotye, Michael Kiwanuka, Tennis, Nick Mulvey, Willy Mason, Rubblebucket, Matthew and the Atlas, Bad Suns, Deap Vally, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Bear’s Den, Daughter and many more.

Essentially the Communion Residency is the oldest aspect of what we do at Communion. The idea is to host a monthly party where we highlight a handful of our favorite new and breaking artists, introducing them to a group of open-minded music enthusiasts, audience members, other musicians, record industry executives and the rest! We keep the lineup eclectic, with the hope that there really is something for everyone, but my favorite stories over the past 9 years have been when people have bought a ticket to check one thing out and come away loving three artists they’d never heard of, or never imagined would be their cup of tea!

As far as how it all ties into what we’re trying to achieve in the big picture sense, I guess this residency platform provides a platform, both for international artists to grow a U.S. audience for the first time, but also local artists to actually get noticed amongst all of the noise that exists out there these days. I hope we can help discover and launch the career of the next great band to come out of Louisville or Atlanta or Boston. And they may well not be an overnight sensation, or particularly hype friendly, but we’re building structures that don’t rely on any of that. All we rely on is people who love music, genuinely investing energy, time and a few dollars to supporting new music as it’s introduced to them.

– Ben Lovett (Founder/CEO)

The release of Conrad Sewell’s debut album will mark a major pinnacle in his career. Though the 25-year-old Australian native has already written numerous songs for other artists in Australia, had a European hit with his previous band, and recently garnered millions of streams singing on Kygo’s track “Firestone,” this will be his first solo recording to date. His powerful voice is reminiscent of the soul era but fits nicely in the electronic music world. Paired with Sewell’s radiant vocals, his upcoming creation will swathe the hearts and ear drums of many as fans anxiously await the release of his debut. “I am extremely excited to be joining my first U.S. tour next month and coming out to play all of this new music I’ve been writing and recording for the album for everyone on the East Coast,” says Sewell in regards to the residency. “It’s going to be a sick show, I’m bringing my whole band out to play with me for our first-ever full band tour.”

French/American duo Freedom Fry have been self-producing and releasing music since 2011 which dances between pop, folk and indie-rock. Their effervescent single “Shaky Ground (Hey Na Na Na)” started the year at number one on The Hype Machine and Spotify ranked them on their list of “100 Emerging Artists From SXSW.” Freedom Fry’s musical chemistry happily dances and tickles its way through the neurons creating a fully immersive and upbeat live performance.

The ethereal soundscapes of Sydney Wayser’s creation, Clara-Nova, is a name and concept that was born in a dream. Sweeping strings, discordant interludes, bubbly beats, electronic sounds and alto vocals take the listener on a sonic journey through pastel landscapes. Both celestial and earthly, the upcoming Clara-Nova EP draws inspiration from deep sea dance parties, ancient Egyptian rituals and Martian folklore. There is no doubt that her otherworldly sound will resonate with all who experience it.

Communion Presents, the live promotional aspect of the company, also produces headline shows and tours. They offer concerts in over 20 cities within the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia that vary in genre and size, ranging from venue capacities of 150 to 10,000. In October, Galimatias and Alina Baraz will be stopping at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, New York as a part of their first tour. Mysterious and alluring, the Danish/American duo will be showcasing their album Urban Flora which has already gained a vast fan base.

Year after year, Communion continues to curate a unique array of artists to indulge in. They are not just growing as a company, but they are growing as a community by connecting artists which each other as well as with their fans. Dive into fall with the Communion Music family and welcome in the many colors of autumn through the many colors of music.

Website: www.communionmusic.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CommunionMusic

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What Next on the Slippery Slope to Freedom?

One of my female friends has the view that monogamy is tantamount to slavery of men. Once you control a man’s access to sex, you own him. 

This discussion requires some background briefing. 

Fact: Men are happy when they are rubbing their penises on pleasant people or things. Or if they think they might soon. Or if they recently did. During other times, men are not as likely to be happy. But men are also human beings, and so they blame their bad moods on things like “stress” or a bad day at work.

Women can fact-check that claim by querying a man about his mood immediately before, during, or after sex. Now compare that answer to any randomly picked minute of the rest of his day. You might see a pattern.

That’s the Moist Robot idea in a nutshell. Our bodies and the environment jack our body chemistry, the chemistry changes what we think and how we feel, and the result is our moods. The more common view of the world is that our moods are somehow a mind-generated problem that can be fixed by thinking better, resolving annoyances, or by taking prescription meds. But sometimes the world is simpler. I can’t speak for women, but most men are going to be in a good mood if you offer them a sandwich and oral sex for lunch. Even if they say no. It just feels good to be asked.

And ladies, if a guy thinks he has a chance of getting that sort of lunch now or any day in the infinite future, and you ask him to hand-wash your car, he will probably rearrange his schedule and maybe power-wash your driveway too. Just in case. Because it might be a good investment in the future. 

Hence, some people would say monogamy is male slavery disguised by words such as soul-mate and “good man.”

The man might tell himself that he does nice things because he is a nice guy, or that no one can wash cars as well as he can. But in reality the man just loves sandwiches for lunch and he doesn’t want to die lonely. He’s not a liar; he just doesn’t know that his body is driving his moods, not vice-versa. We are all under the persistent illusion that our bad moods are caused by the “problems” in our lives as opposed to the chemistry inside your skulls.

But here’s the interesting trend I see emerging. This is where we get to the good part.

Monogamy and marriage made economic sense when the family model involved a working (or hunting) dad and a child-rearing, cooking, mom. In this arrangement the man gives up his option to pursue multiple sex partners and in return he gets the benefits of a mate who can do the things he can’t. The two halves of the marriage make a whole. Plus you get the soul mate thing, love, heirs, and other good stuff. And obviously married women are also giving up their options for lovers and whatnot as well.

Fast-forward to 2015 when gender distinctions are narrowing. The economic value of spouses has been reduced because of the rise of alternatives. Today women can do all the hunting and working they want. A man can hire a surrogate to carry a baby to term. A woman can go to a sperm bank for a father. The man can hire nannies, drivers, tutors, cooks, and more. So the job of “spouse” is simply less important than at any time in history. Women don’t need spouses for income or protection, and men no longer need a spouse to carry a baby, so long as a willing stranger wants to do it for money. And obviously there is adoption.

Today only the rich can afford to outsource the work of an entire spouse. But most of those “spouse functions” will soon be automated and less expensive for all. Food will arrive at your door by inexpensive drone, with perfectly balanced meals customized to each person. Self-driving cars with cameras are probably the safest way to transport a kid, and someday probably the cheapest. And I expect apps to come along that match bored senior citizens with neighborhood kids that need to be watched while a parent works. My point is that the option to outsource a spouse – either male or female – is moving down market quickly. I think it will be a middle-class option in ten years.

And then what happens to monogamy? Obviously many people will prefer monogamy and the traditional family unit for personal or religious reasons. It has its advantages. But monogamy will no longer be the economic and social necessity it once was. And at that point you might see a social movement to free men from the biological oppression of monogamy so they might seek happiness for the first time in modern history. 

Everyone is different, but generally speaking, men aren’t happy without a sex life. And monogamy usually leads to a sexless future (typically defined as sex once per month or less.) Science tells us humans lose sexual interest in a mate over time, and no amount of magical thinking can stop biology’s slow march. 

In 2015 men have the option of either giving up happiness to monogamy or being lonely and childless. I think we will see better options emerging now that the majority of adults in the United States are single. I predict that you will see an emergence of more complicated multi-person virtual “tribes” of single people who are taking care of each others’ needs in various areas so a spouse is unnecessary.

The only gating factor I see is the added health risks of multiple partners. But I’ll bet science can fix all of that in ten years with nano-robots, stem cells, and Indogene* skin. And let’s be honest about the negative health impact of a sexless marriage, recognizing there are trade-offs in all things.

Scott

In Top Tech Blog, here come the nano devices to play doctor inside your body. 

And it raises my usual question: How many nano devices can a human have inside its organic frame and still remain a human? A few nano devices is no big deal. But if the nano technology evolves in time from simply fixing health problems to making your body work better in general, you might be gulping handfuls of nano robots for breakfast. You’ll be more nano device than human at some point, offloading the tasks of your internal organs and eventually even your mind to the tiny robots that are, collectively, you.

In time (decades) I would expect the nano robots to handle your body’s basic needs better than your natural organs, thus making your human parts unnecessary one organ at a time until we are mostly robot and a little bit of skin.

The robots don’t need to conquer us. We will evolve into them as soon as they do a better job than our natural organs.

The good reviews keep coming for this book.

—-

*Fans of Defiance will appreciate that reference. Great sci-fi show, by the way.


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‘Metropolitan’ 25th Anniversary: Whit Stillman, Stars on “Freedom,” “Fun” of Filming and “Exquisite Bullshit” of Dialogue


As the indie hit gets re-released, Chris Eigeman and Dylan Hundley talk about the lingering impact of teenage memories, like the experiences that inspired Stillman’s script.

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The 25th Anniversary of George Michael’s “Freedom” Music Video

Twenty-five years ago, George Michael refused to star in his own music video. Instead, he gathered five of the most beautiful women in the world for a six-and-a-half-minute film that would make video history.
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Rick Ross “Family Ties,” Pharrell Williams “Freedom,” Juicy J “Breathe” & More | Daily Visuals 7.22.15

In the midst of his artist, Meek Mill firing Twitter shots at his boy, Drake, Rick Ross drops visuals for the aptly titled “Family Ties” off last years Hood Billionaire album. Playing the Bawse role as only he can, the robust rapper does what he does best: rub his jewel encrusted hands together while rapping about the lavish life that we thought 50 Cent was living this whole time. Apparently his whole life has been a Rent-A-Center commercial.

Speaking of living, Pharrell Williams releases another upbeat song with a message accompanied by visuals that span the world and takes a look at different cultures and ways of life in “Freedom.” Missing from this video was a cameo from his old partner, Chad Hugo. How you travel the world and not drop in on your old drum machine chum?

Check out the rest of today’s visuals which include work from Juicy J, Trina, and more.

 

RICK ROSS – “FAMILY TIES”

 

PHARRELL WILLIAMS – “FREEDOM”

 

JUICY J FT. G.O.D. – “BREATHE”

 

TRINA FT. RICO LOVE – “REAL ONE”

 

BOSSTOP FT. WAKA FLOCKA – “BET HE WON’T”

 

FREEWAY & SCHOLITO – “BE REAL”

 

JACK PRESTON – “FUTURE’S END/FUTURE’S BEGINNING”

 

SHY GLIZZY – “I DID IT”

 

PROBLEM – “50 SHADES OF GREY”

JONAH CRUZZ FT. MACEO – “GANGSTA GANGSTA”

 

GERALD WALKER & THE FAMILY – “NO HEART FEELINGS”

 

REJJIE SNOW – “I WILL STILL KEEP YOU”

The post Rick Ross “Family Ties,” Pharrell Williams “Freedom,” Juicy J “Breathe” & More | Daily Visuals 7.22.15 appeared first on Hip-Hop Wired.

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Freedom – Akon

Akon - Freedom  artwork

Freedom

Akon

Genre: R&B/Soul

Price: $ 9.99

Release Date: December 2, 2008

© ℗ 2008 Universal Records & SRC Records Inc., a division of UMG Recordings

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Joey Graceffa Explains New Sense Of Freedom

At Comic-Con 2015, Joey Graceffa discusses coming out in his ‘Don’t Wait’ music video as well as his book, ‘In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World.’


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Freedom & Surrender – Lizz Wright

Lizz Wright - Freedom & Surrender  artwork

Freedom & Surrender

Lizz Wright

Genre: Jazz

Price: $ 9.99

Expected Release Date: September 4, 2015

© ℗ 2015 Concord Music Group, Inc.

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One Fart From Freedom on the Fourth of July

Fart. Poop. Underpants. I’m betting right now you’re chuckling. Or at least you have a smile on your face. Because according to any kid under five, those are some of the funniest words in the English language. And let’s face it, we all have a bit of “kid” left in us. Men probably more so than women.

Why, ask any mom with sons and invariably she’ll have a story about the night her boys told fart jokes at dinner, cracking themselves up so much that they started farting right then and there.

Women are a bit more subtle. We sometimes pretend that we don’t possess the bodily function of passing gas. But when someone accidentally cuts a tiny fart in public, we all giggle. Remember that scene with Miranda in the first Sex And The City movie?

I’ve never understood why these actions make people laugh. Perhaps because it’s an embarrassing situation and we tend to snicker when embarrassed. And never in a million years did I think that fecal matter would dominate my family’s conversation for days on end.

But it did.

It all started when my father became ill. Not to be too graphic, there was a miscommunication between the elimination systems in his body. We thought things were under control until suddenly, shit hit the fan — literally. The situation required a simple surgery. But operating on an 89-year-old man always involves some risk. Fortunately, it was a success.

And then there he was, several days later, lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by his entire family, waiting to be discharged. And waiting and waiting.

Because as everyone knows, you can’t leave the hospital until you perform two main functions: that of eating and that of pooping.

The eating part started with liquids, of which he consumed very little. After a few days, he graduated to that yummy hospital Jello. And then eventually on to the next stage — that of passing gas.

So, here there I was, telling my father that “gas is good.” Any kind. The “silent but deadly” type. The “loud as a rumbling train” variety. The “juicy fruity” sort. Just let it rip, I urged.

As did my sister, our kids, our husbands, my mother.

The days passed slowly with a little gas here and there. Which meant that surely, the poop was about to come.

By day ten, you could cut the tension that weaved itself into our family dynamics. We’re all very close and it was a beautiful hospital, as far as hospitals go. It offered fine cafeteria dining in an outdoor setting, Wifi, and an assortment of vending machines that only charged a little more than minimum wage for a few bottles of water. But too much togetherness can cause friction in the best of families.

What we needed was some good old farts to cut through the air. To release my father and to set our family back on the path to normalcy.

By day fifteen, we had met all the RNs, CNAs, orderlies, team doctors, administration personnel and cafeteria cashiers. The only place in the hospital that I didn’t visit was the gift shop. Although I was tempted to buy the “farting” pillow featured in the window.

And then it happened. On the Fourth of July, while fireworks lit up the sky, popping and crackling in the air, my dad’s internal organs opened up with explosives of their own. Our family cheers rivaled those of the partygoers on the street.

As promised, he was discharged from the hospital.

Life went back to normal, with one small difference. I now have a “fart” story of my own, should the need arise.

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11 Religious Americans Who Fought For Freedom

 

 The Fourth of July commemorates the United States declaring its independence from Britain, but the Revolutionary War did not win freedom for all Americans. The 10 activists and religious leaders below are just a handful of people throughout American history who spent their lives working to extend freedom to all. The liberty to worship, vote, love and pursue happiness are rights that had to be fought for and won — and we are by no means done with the struggle. 

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year, we honor the fearless individuals who turned to faith to advocate for freedom for all people. 

 

Roger Williams

Although born in England in 1603, Roger Williams lived almost his entire adult life in the American colonies. A deeply spiritual man who started the first Baptist church in America in 1638, he founded the colony of Providence Plantation on the premise of religious freedom, envisioning it as a refuge for religious minorities.

Williams may have been partly inspired by his close relationship with New England Native Americans, having learned the Algonquin language and engaged in trade with the Narragansett and the Wampanoag tribes. A staunch advocate for Native American land rights, Williams believed that there were no inherent differences between Native Americans and Englishmen, and that all should be respected and treated as equals. 

Richard Allen

Richard Allen was born a slave in Philadelphia in 1760. He became a Christian at the age of 17 after hearing a white Methodist minister preach against slavery. The experience was so powerful that he later wrote, “My dungeon shook, my chains flew off, and glory to God, I cried. My soul was filled.” He purchased his freedom for $ 2,000 and started preaching to white and black congregants in South Carolina, New York, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. He became an assistant minister at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania. It was a racially mixed congregation, but discrimination still persisted. As more black converts were drawn to the church by Allen’s preaching, the white ministers and parishioners of the church began to act with hostility toward them — at one point pulling praying members off their knees in the middle of a service.

With the help of other leaders in the community, Allen raised the funds needed to purchase a plot of land so that black Methodists could worship freely. That congregation, now known as Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, became the mother church of the first independent black denomination in America.

Lucretia Mott

 It is hard to imagine there was a time in American history when women were not free to vote, and couldn’t even do what they wished with their own property. Lucretia Mott, born in 1793, was among the brave Americans who fought for women’s rights, drawing from her Quaker faith to argue that all people are created equal in the eyes of God. Mott was one of five women who organized the landmark Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, which drew roughly 300 people to address the need for women’s civil rights.

In addition to her role in the women’s rights movement, Mott spent much of her life fighting for abolition, and in 1833 organized the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society with roughly 30 other women. Mott did not live long enough to see women win the right to vote in America, and she was already in her 70s when slavery ended in this country. But her efforts set a precedent for religiously inspired civil rights activism that would resonate for generations to come.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth is best known for being one of the most prominent 19th century leaders fighting against slavery and fighting for women’s rights and human rights. She fought for freedom for all people because she herself was born a slave and did not experience freedom until she was 30 years old. Truth was a deeply spiritual person, having experienced a vision of Jesus that inspired her to become a preacher. In her iconic “Ain’t I A Woman” speech at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, Truth used her faith to argue for women’s equality, saying:


“That little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.”

Sitting Bull

 Sitting Bull, also known as Tatanka-Iyotanka, was a Hunkpapa Lakota chief and a holy man who bravely fought to preserve his people’s way of life, despite facing hostility from the United States government. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 officially prevented whites from settling the Black Hills of Dakota Territory, which many Native American tribes considered sacred. But the treaty was set aside after gold was discovered in the area. Fortune seekers began rushing in, and the government attempted to purchase the land. When the tribes refused to give up their sacred space, the government demanded that all Lakota in the area resettle into reservations.

True to his name, Sitting Bull wouldn’t budge. Instead, he called neighboring tribes to his camp and led them in a sun dance ritual dedicated to the Great Spirit. It was during this ritual that he saw a vision predicting that he would triumph over the white soldiers. Sitting Bull went on to wipe out Gen. George Custer’s troops during the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. It would take several more years before the chief surrendered to the U.S. Even then, he did so begrudgingly, saying, “I wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle.”

Dalip Singh Saund

 Dalip Singh Saund was the first South Asian American elected to Congress. Born in 1899 to a Sikh Indian family, Saund came to America in 1920 to study at the University of California. He reportedly removed his turban soon afterwards, but stayed deeply connected to his religion. In his autobiography, he wrote, “My religion teaches me that love and service to fellow men are the road to earthly bliss and spiritual salvation.”

For years, he was frustrated by the fact that his ethnicity barred him from becoming an American citizen. He organized a coalition to fight against this rule, which eventually led to the Luce-Celler Act of 1946 and opened citizenship up to immigrants of South Asian descent. In 1949, Saund become a citizen himself. Soon after, he was elected as a local judge. He went on to serve three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

 Human rights activism was deeply embedded in the life, history and spiritual philosophy of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1907, Heschel lived through the rise of the Nazis and narrowly escaped the horrors of the Holocaust by fleeing to London in 1939 and later arriving in New York City. By the time he entered the Civil Rights movement, Heschel had already established himself as a professor of ethics and Jewish mysticism and had what his daughter, Susanna Heschel, called “a heightened sensitivity to  the suffering of all people.”

After marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1965 Selma march, Heschel famously remarked: “Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying.” Fighting for the rights of all people — as he did in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements — was a key component of Heschel’s faith. As his daughter Susanna wrote: “He said [the Selma march] reminded him of the message of the  prophets, whose primary concern was social injustice, and of his Hasidic forebears, for whom compassion for the suffering of other people defined a religious person.”

Yuri Kochiyama

 Yuri Kochiyama was a visionary whose activism crossed racial boundaries. Born in 1921, Kochiyama lived a typical suburban American life, excelling in high school and becoming a Sunday school teacher at a California church. Her political awakening came during World War II, when she was sent to an internment camp with her family. Kochiyama spent the rest of her life fighting for the rights of poor blacks, Latinos and Asian Americans. She campaigned against the Vietnam War and advocated for the rights of prison inmates.

Activist Deepa Iyer wrote that Kochiyama’s “life and legacy is a reminder to Asian Americans and to all those who believe in social justice, of a basic value: To show up whenever and wherever injustice occurs and to engage in acts of resistance and solidarity.”

 Malcolm X

 

 Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925, Malcolm X emerged as a prominent leader of the Nation of Islam, promoting black nationalism and challenging racial integration as the goal of the Civil Rights movement. He broke from the Nation of Islam in 1964 but remained committed to religious life as a vehicle for human rights activism. While on the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, he wrote a letter remarking on the “spirit of true brotherhood” he had witnessed.

“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world,” he wrote. “They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”

 Malcolm had a deep compassion for humanity that carried him around the country preaching equality, his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz wrote. He was just 39 years old when he was assassinated in 1965.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 Civil rights leader and preacher Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream — not only that black Americans would be granted full equality but that all people, regardless of race, religion or creed, would have the right to life and liberty. King is perhaps best known for promoting nonviolence and peaceful resistance as avenues for human rights activism, frequently putting his own life on the line by demonstrating, organizing and speaking out against bigotry and discrimination.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” King famously said in his 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

In 1964 at just 35 years old, King became the youngest person at the time to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, he championed “unarmed truth and unconditional love” as the ultimate victors in history. King was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39.

Rev. Mineo Katagiri

Rev. Mineo Katagiri was a United Church of Christ minister who fought for minority rights. He was born in Hawaii to parents of Japanese ancestry, and experienced discrimination during World War II.  After moving to Seattle in 1959, he acted as an advocate and defender of the city’s gay community. He later founded the Asian Coalition for Equality, which brought Asian Americans together to campaign against intolerance and joined with African Americans who were also seeking equality.

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Freedom – Single – Pharrell Williams


Freedom – Single
Pharrell Williams

Release Date:
July 1, 2015
Total Songs:
1

Genre:
Pop

Price:
$ 1.29

Copyright
℗ 2015 Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment


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The Hypocrisy of ‘Religious Freedom’

It’s not freedom when you are advocating taking away the liberty and rights of other human beings. It is not religious, especially not “Christian,” to be intolerant and bigoted against your fellow citizens.

And while I admire Kirsten Powers for being a reasonable and at times progressive voice at Fox News (and calling out Bill O’Reilly on his show for his stance about racism not being a substantial problem in our society), I have to disagree with her premise in her recent book, The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. We are not killing free speech, only calling out hate speech.

As a member of the LGBT community, I can say we are not silencing the religious right, but standing up for our own God-given rights. Having grown up a gay American in the 1950s and ’60s, I can tell you that silencing is what was done to us in those decades. It has been said that “a child should be seen and not heard.” We were taught to be neither. We lived in the shadows, hiding our imposed societal shame, leading secret lives that we hoped no one would find out about.

Looking back, I forgive myself for not being more open and true to myself. I was bombarded by school, friends, family and my Baptist church with a silent, deadly belief that who I was deep down inside was sinful and perverse.

After all, as Brian McNaught so deftly points out in his book, Growing Up Gay and Lesbian, we didn’t have any role models to look up to then. Ellen hadn’t come out yet. It was before Stonewall. There were no gay characters in the movies, or if there were they were portrayed as losers.

They first gay film I remembered watching on TV as a teen was 1961’s “The Children’s Hour.” Based on the play by Lillian Hellman, it starred Shirley McClaine and Audrey Hepburn as friends who owned and ran an all-girls’ boarding school. One of the residents started a rumor that Audrey and Shirley were intimately involved and it ruined them and their reputations and forced the school to close. Turns out that Shirley’s character really was a lesbian and she ended up committing suicide in the end. Although, this film touched me deeply inside (I think seeing a woman profess her romantic feelings of love to another woman stirred something in me), it was hardly a movie that would make one want to come out of the closet.

As McNaught points out in his book, we had no one to turn to discuss our attractions growing up. Not the school teachers nor administrators, not the Church leaders, not even our own parents. If a child of a different race or ethnicity got bullied they could go to their parents for sympathy. But if a gay kid did that the parent might ask: “Why were you called a queer?” And they may not really want to hear the answer to that.

Indeed, there is an old joke that goes: “Which is easier, being black or being gay? Black, because you don’t have to tell your parents.”

As for racial relations in the ’50s and ’60s, there was a term called “separate but equal.” Problem was it was segregation with inequality. But at that time, African Americans had an identity. They had separate bathrooms, movies, radio programs, TV shows, music, Negro baseball league, and Armed Forces battalions. They had their own culture and still do to this day. Homosexuals were invisible.

I remember certain clues I was given growing up that were meant to guide me into a “normal” heterosexual lifestyle. When I was in the fifth grade, I shared with my mom that I really liked a fourth grade girl who was a piano prodigy. She gently reminded me “you mean you admire her.”

When I was around twelve years old I had a best friend from the church that I hung around with at the community pool. Driving home with my whole family in the car, my older sister said “I couldn’t believe Joan and Courtney were holding hands at the pool.” This shocked me because for the first time I had to question an innocent gesture of affection I showed to a close friend.

My dad used to tell us he always considered homosexuals deviants who would were looked down upon in the military. Happily, my parents and siblings evolved on the issue and continued to love me when I came out to them at the age of 29. I know other gays were not as lucky as me in that regard.

I knew no gays in high school (this was before the gay/straight alliances), nor college, nor even graduate school.

As McNaught writes, back in the day, you couldn’t even go to the library and find any books on Homosexuality (this was before the Internet.)

And the Baptist Church, though I loved the people and the Pastor there, scared me the most into staying in the closet. I remember in a pre-teen Sunday School class we were given a booklet that described homosexuality as an addiction or disease. There were pictures of deformed couples holding hands and the pamphlet said that most homosexuals do not want to be that way and presented it as a choice. Basically, I was taught by the church that it was a crime against God and nature.

I was creeped out by the whole thing and the indoctrination worked as I decided then and there I didn’t want to go down that path even though I really liked the piano prodigy and loved my friend from church and had a crush on my gym teacher in Junior High school. I didn’t want to go to Hell.

In essence, I stuffed my emotions and attractions and tried to fit in. I dated guys but had enough sense to never get married even when presented with an engagement ring. I drank too much in college, I think because I was so conflicted and finally came out to myself after I moved to California (for a music gig in the San Jose Symphony) in the late ’70s.

It was easier to declare being gay in California than the East coast in those days. It is remarkable how the country has changed through the years and now gay marriage is a reality in many states and may soon be legal in the nation.

I believe the Internet and TV and movies and the current administration have influenced this new generation to come out with pride. Intolerance is quickly becoming passé and that’s a good thing.

But we must not forget our history and the sacrifices my generation made to allow this to happen. Stonewall, the gay rights movement, Harvey Milk, PFLAG, and the fight against AIDS and DADT and DOMA all contributed to lay the foundation for our finally being given our basic human rights.

Some in the religious right want to cling to “traditional” values and view our liberation as an abomination. Unfortunately, that is the same thinking I was indoctrinated into as a young teen in my Baptist church. Apparently, not all have evolved on the issue. I say we will no longer be shamed or silenced.

Coming out to me was a mental, physical, and yes, spiritual process. For a number of years in the late ’90s, I was a member of a Metropolitan Community church that was founded for LGBT folks and their straight allies. It brought me back to my faith and made me realize that I am gay by God. And no so-called “Religious Freedom” can take that away from me. Our ancestors escaped persecution to achieve true religious freedom in the new world. This included the right to worship and I do not see the gay movement as taking this away from anyone.

Rather, LGBT people want what past generations came to this country for: the right to marry, have and adopt children, worship as we please, serve in the military, equal job opportunities, protection from persecution in the workplace, and the pursuit of happiness.

The genie is out of the bottle and we can never go back to being invisible again.

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The Freedom to #SimplyBekini

The celebration of the birth of our nation is upon us, and we are all breaking out the red, white and blue to celebrate the fact that we’re able to live free in this great country.

But how many of us are really feeling free this Fourth of July? And how many of us are feeling ashamed to get out there and be who we are because of the number on the scale? Shouldn’t we all feel free to rock our stars-and-stripes bikini, even if we don’t have the perfect “bikini body?”

Tess Holliday’s new #simplybekini campaign is a great reminder to us all that there’s no such thing as a perfect body and that we should start enjoying our lives to the fullest, no matter what kind of shape we’re in.

“There is no such thing as a perfect body and the hardest barrier for women to overcome is themselves,” said Holliday in a recent People Magazine article.

Why spend the best months of the year hiding and feeling ashamed of who you are, even if you’re not in the best shape of your life?

2015-07-01-1435768341-1926982-Insta_SimplyBekini.png

I put this principle into practice on a recent tropical getaway, feeling more comfortable in my bikini than ever before, despite the fact that I’m heavier than the typical “bikini body” prototype.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to start a new diet or fitness routine in order to become more healthy. It’s also totally amazing if you want to take a few weeks — or months, or years — off from the gym because that’s not working for you right now. Each of us has a right to be the person we are in the body that we have, here and now. Feeling “bikini ready” is something that everyone has the ability to do, not just those who slave away at the gym (although there’s nothing wrong with doing that!).

The definition of independence is “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid or the like, of others,” according to Dictionary.com.

Being an independent citizen means that no one, not that bully from grade school, your disapproving family member, your pushy friend, that scary trainer from the gym, your rude coworker or anyone else has the right to make you feel like you aren’t free to be who are and to flaunt that body loud and proud.

Every body is a bikini body, and every person has a right to feel beautiful, happy, and loved in their own skin. Whether you have a six pack or just downed six donuts — we are who we are, in this moment. Nothing more than that is guaranteed.

We are so lucky to live in a country where we are free to be who we are, wear what we want, love who we want, and do what feels good for us.

Rather than getting caught up in body shaming yourself out of a good time this Independence Day, get out there and enjoy life. Soak up every second of it, and share it with the people in your life that you care about. Forget the haters and let freedom ring!

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Forever Young, Gifted & Black: Songs of Freedom and Spirit – Nina Simone

Nina Simone - Forever Young, Gifted & Black: Songs of Freedom and Spirit  artwork

Forever Young, Gifted & Black: Songs of Freedom and Spirit

Nina Simone

Genre: Jazz

Price: $ 5.99

Release Date: January 1, 2006

© ℗ Originally Recorded 1967, 1968, 1969. All rights reserved by BMG Music; (P) 2006 BMG Music

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Freedom – Refused


Freedom
Refused

Release Date:
June 26, 2015
Total Songs:
10

Genre:
Rock

Price:
By Song Only

Copyright
℗ 2015 Refused, under exclusive license to Epitaph


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40 Oz. to Freedom – Sublime

Sublime - 40 Oz. to Freedom  artwork

40 Oz. to Freedom

Sublime

Genre: Alternative

Price: $ 11.99

Release Date: December 31, 1991

© ℗ 1992 Gasoline Alley Records Inc.

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Freedom & Dreams – North Mississippi Allstars & Anders Osborne

North Mississippi Allstars & Anders Osborne - Freedom & Dreams  artwork

Freedom & Dreams

North Mississippi Allstars & Anders Osborne

Genre: Blues

Price: $ 9.99

Release Date: February 17, 2015

© ℗ 2015 NMO Records

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Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers (Unabridged) – Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman - Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers (Unabridged)  artwork

Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers (Unabridged)

Nick Offerman

Genre: Comedy

Price: $ 26.95

Publish Date: May 26, 2015

© ℗ © 2015 Penguin Audio

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Faith No More’s Mike Patton: ‘You Create Your Own Freedom’

The lead singer of the mercurial rock (and funk and rap and whatever else will fit) band talks about the long path to Sol Invictus, the first Faith No More album in 18 years.

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Bobby Jindal Vows To Enforce Religious Freedom Measure Through Executive Order

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said Tuesday he plans to issue an executive order “to accomplish the intent” of a religious freedom bill that died in the Louisiana House hours before.

The Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act (HB 707), introduced by Louisiana state Rep. Mike Johnson (R) earlier this year, would create protections for individuals who oppose same-sex marriage. Under the legislation, the state would be prohibited from taking “any adverse action against a person, wholly or partially, on the basis that such person acts in accordance with a religious belief or formal conviction about the institution of marriage.” The measure drew comparisons to controversial religious freedom bills advanced in states like Indiana, where Gov. Mike Pence (R) was pressured to amend the legislation after national criticism that the law would allow businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

On Tuesday, the Louisiana House Civil Law and Procedure Committee voted 10-2 to return the Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar, effectively killing the bill. But less than two hours later, Jindal announced his plan to resurrect the spirit of the legislation.

“We are disappointed by the committee’s action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar,” Jindal said in a statement. “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB 707 to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The statement continued: “This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Jindal, who is eyeing running for president in 2016, has maintained a hardline stance against gay marriage, and has thrown his full support behind the Louisiana bill. In a New York Times op-ed published last month, the governor said Republicans had been “bullied” into toning down similar legislation in Arkansas and Indiana.

“As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath,” Jindal wrote.

“It is shameful that Gov. Jindal has decided that abusing his executive power to accomplish the goals of House Bill 707, even after it was tabled indefinitely by our legislature today, is worth more effort than fixing our disastrous state budget,” Equality Louisiana said in a Tuesday press release. “In his time in Iowa, he may have forgotten what everyday Louisianians value, but the testimony today against HB 707 should have reminded him. Discrimination is not a Louisiana value.”

JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign’s vice president of policy and political affairs, also condemned Jindal’s plan in a Tuesday statement.

“Bobby Jindal showed today why he’s consistently named one of the nation’s least-popular governors: by ignoring his constituents, members of his own party, and business leaders who correctly understand that legislation that endorses discrimination is wrong and should be rejected,” the statement reads. “Gov. Jindal made it clear that he’s so desperate to advance his longshot presidential campaign that he’ll say or do almost anything, including enable discrimination in the name of religion.”

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Indiana Republicans Look For Path Forward After Mike Pence ‘Religious Freedom’ Mess

WASHINGTON — In Indiana these days, no one, including the GOP, is happy with Gov. Mike Pence (R).

On April 2, Pence signed a revised version of Indiana’s widely denounced “religious freedom” law, closing the door on a controversy that had brought national scorn to his state and cost local economies valuable tourism dollars.

“It didn’t do our brand any good, for sure. One, it didn’t do the state brand any good. Two, it didn’t do the Indiana Republican Party brand any good. And three, it didn’t do Mike any good. And that’s pretty obvious,” said former Indiana GOP Chair Jim Kittle.

Since that time, Pence has kept his head down and largely stayed out of the spotlight. But behind the scenes in Indiana, many Republicans are still seething and looking for ways to retake control of the party’s direction. And the results of those discussions are likely to become more public in the coming days, now that the Indiana General Assembly has wrapped up its legislative session.

One Republican operative in the state, who declined to be named in order to speak openly, said the Religious Freedom Restoration Act controversy brought to the forefront “a simmering disconnect between the [former Gov.] Mitch Daniels-era people and the Mike Pence people.” Others took issue with that description, saying the real divide is broader: between Pence and, essentially, the rest of the state Republican Party.

Daniels, who served from 2005 to 2013 and is now the president of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, still inspires intense loyalty among many Republicans in the state. He helped bring the state party out of the wilderness after 16 years of Democratic governors. Daniels made fiscal issues his focus, declaring a “truce” on social issues (although he did sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood in 2011).

Pence, on the other hand, was known as a strong social conservative in Congress, where he served from 2001 to 2013. When Pence ran for governor, he followed in Daniels’ footsteps and largely stayed away from social issues. But the RFRA controversy has seemingly confirmed many people’s lingering fears that Pence would revert back to his old self and steer the party, and the state, far to the right.

“There’s always been kind of, in the back of people’s heads, a concern about what Mike Pence could end up doing to hurt [the successful state GOP] brand,” the Republican operative told The Huffington Post.

RFRA was not on Pence’s agenda. Rather, it was pushed by the GOP leaders who control the state legislature. But Pence essentially became the face of the bill — and, for many in the country, the face of discrimination in Indiana.

On March 29, Pence went on ABC’s “This Week” to try and mitigate the growing controversy over the law he’d recently signed. He repeatedly refused to answer the question of whether the measure would allow businesses to deny service to same-sex couples, and his evasion turned the simmering controversy into a full-blown mess. (Pence later said he didn’t believe the measure would allow for that, although he acknowledged that the law had to be clarified to make that explicit.)

But the damage was done. Organizations pulled their conferences from the state, musicians canceled concerts and businesses said they would give Indiana a wide berth.

“We continue to be stunned by just how wide and deep the animosity is — in Republican strongholds — against Governor Mike Pence (R) and the Republican Party, in that order,” wrote Ed Feigenbaum, who covers the ins and outs of Indiana state politics, in the April 13 edition of the newsletter Indiana Legislative Insight. “While undoubtedly there is a different narrative in out-state rural areas that were not subject to the same intense media coverage and social network squawking as in Central Indiana, urban areas, and college towns, the big takeaway is that the Governor and his party are in deep trouble.”

That trouble shows in the polls. A recent Howey Politics Indiana (HPI) poll shows Pence’s favorable rating at just 35 percent, and his unfavorable rating at 38 percent. And in a recent poll from the Human Rights Campaign, 53 percent of Indiana voters said that Pence’s signing of RFRA made them feel unfavorably toward the governor. Only 38 percent said they felt favorably.

“I’ve been covering Indiana politics for three decades, and I don’t recall a sitting governor experiencing that kind of decline over this short period of time like we’ve seen here,” said Brian Howey, publisher of HPI.

The dissatisfaction with Pence spilled into public view on April 15, when Bill Oesterle, the CEO of Indianapolis-based Angie’s List, announced his resignation and his intention to return to politics. Oesterle ran Daniels’ 2004 gubernatorial campaign, is a major donor in the party and was a vociferous critic of RFRA.

Immediately, speculation in Indiana centered around whether Oesterle would challenge Pence in a primary, presenting a pro-LGBT candidate who would no doubt have strong appeal — and fundraising potential — in the business community.

Oesterle is still figuring out his plans, but he recently told Indianapolis Star political columnist Matthew Tully that he may instead look to shape the party from the outside, with a new political organization to counter the influence of social conservatives.

“The primary chatter underestimates the work that is needed,” he said. “It diminishes the magnitude of the work that has to [be] done. That’s the work of putting the party in a position once again in which it has the support of the majority of the voters in this state. We have, because of what has been done, the very real risk of permanently alienating a large bloc of Hoosiers. That’s going to be hard to overcome.”

Kittle called Oesterle “a fabulous guy” and “a good friend.” He said Oesterle could have an impact on the Indiana GOP by perhaps serving “as a conduit for some folks who, at this point, think this party has gone too far to the right.”

But it’s not just the moderate wing that’s mad at Pence — he has managed to anger the right as well. Many conservatives who supported RFRA were incensed when the governor agreed to the legislative “fix” that prevents businesses from denying services to same-sex couples.

Twenty religious leaders, including a pastor who had literally stood behind Pence at his private signing ceremony for RFRA, held a rally this week, where they rebuked the governor for his “betrayal” of them. And there is speculation that Pence could even face a primary challenge from the right when he’s up for re-election in 2016.

“I think it would be very hard for anyone — assuming Mike’s going to run, and I’m virtually positive he is — so assuming he runs, I think it would be very difficult to win a primary [against him],” said Kittle. “I don’t think it would be helpful, either, because it could then put the Republican Party at an even further disadvantage [in the general election]. We didn’t win by a landslide last time.”

Neither Pence’s campaign nor the Indiana GOP returned requests for comment.

On Thursday, Pence received his first Democratic challenger: former Indiana state House Speaker John Gregg, who narrowly lost to Pence in 2012. In his announcement, Gregg said that under Pence, “Indiana has been given a bad name.”

In the meantime, Pence is picking up the pieces. The state recently spent $ 2 million to bring in a public relations firm to help rebuild Indiana’s image in the wake of the RFRA fiasco. Feigenbaum told HuffPost it was a good sign that Pence recently hired Matt Lloyd, his communications director from his time in Congress, to run his press shop in Indianapolis.

“Matt is a big-time, big-picture guy who knows how to maneuver Pence around petty politics and through serious politics,” said Feigenbaum. “[He] understands the politics of policy, unlike some other Pence aides.”

“I think Mike’s really going to have to reach out to diverse communities, whether it’s the business community, which has been very supportive of him up to now, or it’s the LGBT community,” said Kittle. “I think he does understand that this was not the right time and the right thing to do. It was a mistake. I believe he feels that way. I think he’ll have to express that.”

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Indy Star Blasts Gov. Mike Pence Over ‘Religious Freedom’ Law: ‘Fix This Now’

The Indianapolis Star is holding Gov. Mike Pence (R) accountable for the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law.

On Thursday, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows businesses to discriminate against people by citing religious beliefs if they get sued. The LGBT community is often targeted by this type of discrimination.

Tuesday’s bold front page features an editorial blasting Pence for signing the law, and urging him to fix the damage it has already done to the Hoosier State.

We are at a critical moment in Indiana’s history.

And much is at stake.

Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.

Major companies, such as Apple, Walmart and Salesforce, have since announced they will boycott doing business in Indiana. Two states, Washington and Connecticut, said they will ban state-funded travel to Indiana.

The newspaper’s editorial board is calling for the passage of a statewide human rights law that would protect the LGBT community and take a clear stand against discrimination. Indianapolis’ Republican mayor Greg Ballard took similar measures on Monday by signing an executive order that forces businesses to abide by the city’s human rights ordinance, which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation.

So far, the state’s Republican leaders have defended the law and remained steadfast in saying it does not discriminate. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Pence said the law is “not a license to discriminate” and “simply reflects” federal legislation. Other state GOP leaders said they were “shocked” that their religious freedom law was seen as anti-gay, and that they simply didn’t anticipate the backlash.

But Indy Star has a strong message for these political leaders:

We urge Gov. Pence and lawmakers to stop clinging to arguments about whether RFRA really does what critics fear; to stop clinging to ideology or personal preferences; to focus instead on fixing this.

Governor, Indiana is in a state of crisis. It is worse than you seem to understand.

Read the full editorial at Indy Star.

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Indy Star Blasts Gov. Mike Pence Over ‘Religious Freedom’ Law: ‘Fix This Now’

The Indianapolis Star is holding Gov. Mike Pence (R) accountable for the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law.

On Thursday, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows businesses to discriminate against people by citing religious beliefs if they get sued. The LGBT community is often targeted by this type of discrimination.

Tuesday’s bold front page features an editorial blasting Pence for signing the law, and urging him to fix the damage it has already done to the Hoosier State.

We are at a critical moment in Indiana’s history.

And much is at stake.

Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.

Major companies, such as Apple, Walmart and Salesforce, have since announced they will boycott doing business in Indiana. Two states, Washington and Connecticut, said they will ban state-funded travel to Indiana.

The newspaper’s editorial board is calling for the passage of a statewide human rights law that would protect the LGBT community and take a clear stand against discrimination. Indianapolis’ Republican mayor Greg Ballard took similar measures on Monday by signing an executive order that forces businesses to abide by the city’s human rights ordinance, which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation.

So far, the state’s Republican leaders have defended the law and remained steadfast in saying it does not discriminate. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Pence said the law is “not a license to discriminate” and “simply reflects” federal legislation. Other state GOP leaders said they were “shocked” that their religious freedom law was seen as anti-gay, and that they simply didn’t anticipate the backlash.

But Indy Star has a strong message for these political leaders:

We urge Gov. Pence and lawmakers to stop clinging to arguments about whether RFRA really does what critics fear; to stop clinging to ideology or personal preferences; to focus instead on fixing this.

Governor, Indiana is in a state of crisis. It is worse than you seem to understand.

Read the full editorial at Indy Star.

Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Apple CEO: Pro-discrimination ‘religious Freedom ’ Laws Are Dangerous – The Washington Post

There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.

Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Charles Barkley Calls Indiana’s New ‘Religious Freedom’ Law ‘Unacceptable’

A new “religious freedom” law in Indiana has NCAA basketball analyst and NBA legend Charles Barkley calling foul — and calling on officials to move next week’s March Madness Final Four tournament out of the state.

“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” Barkley said in a statement Friday afternoon. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”

The legislation, signed into law Thursday by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), does not explicitly mention discrimination against gays or anyone else. Rather, it “prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion,” according to The Indianapolis Star.

But critics say the bill could give businesses a legal foothold to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the name of religious freedom.

Barkley’s remarks echo the NCAA’s own position, which President Mark Emmert voiced Thursday in a prepared statement.

“The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events,” said Emmert. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill.”

“Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce,” Emmert’s statement continued.

Reggie Miller, a former NBA star who spent 18 years playing for the Indiana Pacers, also voiced concerns over the law, sending this message Friday to his 651,000 followers on Twitter:

Many other prominent figures have spoken out against the law, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who promptly canceled the company’s planned events in the state following the bill’s passage.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence Seeks To ‘Clarify’ ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he would support legislation to “clarify the intent” of a new state law that has attracted widespread criticism over concerns it could allow discrimination against gay people.

In an interview Saturday with the Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1MhuY1d), the Republican governor said he’s been in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend. He expects that a clarification bill will be introduced this coming week to the religious objections law he signed Thursday.

He declined to provide details but told the newspaper that making gay and lesbian Indiana residents a protected legal class is “not on my agenda.”

Pence disputes the law allows state-sanctioned anti-gay discrimination, as some Indiana businesses, convention organizers and others have argued. He says he didn’t anticipate “the hostility that’s been directed at our state.”

___

Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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First Freedom Tower Stair Race To Help Build 200 Homes For Vets With Disabilities

NEW YORK (AP) — The first stair-climb race at One World Trade Center — the nation’s tallest building — will raise money for military veterans struggling with combat-linked disabilities, two foundations formed after the 9/11 attacks announced Monday.

Officials of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Captain Billy Burke Foundation detailed plans for the athletic event at Burke’s firehouse, Engine Company 21 in midtown Manhattan. Burke lost his life on 9/11 along with Firefighter Stephen Siller from Squad 1 in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Proceeds from the May 17 tower climb will support service members who’ve been catastrophically injured in war and help educate children who’ve lost a parent. The money also will help build 200 new homes for veterans with the worst disabilities, mostly triple or quadruple amputees. About 40 houses have been completed.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Siller was off-duty when he ran with over 60 pounds of gear through the blocked-off Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center. “Our foundation couldn’t be more honored to be chosen to hold the first stair-climb event at One World Trade Center,” said his brother Frank Siller, foundation chairman and CEO.

There’s also a “virtual stair climb” — using elevators — for people who want to participate but are unable to handle the stairs.

Participation is limited to the first 1,000 people who register by May 10. They’ll all wear computerized chips that will record their finish time. The entry fee is $ 100, and there’s a $ 250 minimum fundraising requirement.

Sept. 11 first responders will lead the way into the building for the climb, which is to the 90th floor — 180 flights of stairs — of the 104-story building.

Burke led firefighters on the day two terrorist-hijacked planes pierced the twin towers.

His brother, Michael Burke, said Monday that even though Billy knew that the south tower had already fallen, he chose to remain behind to rescue two workers, one in a wheelchair.

When the captain was urged to leave, he responded, “‘this is my job, this is who I am.’ Then he went on and the tower collapsed,” said Burke, who stopped talking several times, his voice breaking.

“What he did that day should be inspiration for us to keep going,” the foundation board member said.

In May, as climbers reach the higher floors and their knees and backs “are killing them,” he said, “just think of the words of Captain William Burke to his men: ‘keep going, I’m right behind you.'”

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Dr. Phil – The Huffington Post

What Fundamentalists Are Missing About Religious Freedom Bills

I grew up in southern Indiana right where the Ohio River makes a curly seam against Kentucky. I was a Southern Baptist boy, at first by tradition and then by choice. That’s what we Southern Hoosiers did in those days.

Those circumstances were the perfect yet unfortunate set up for a lot of heartache. As my teenage years progressed, I gradually discovered that I was the devil in disguise, so to speak, for everyone around me. I was a homosexual, the despised and mythical creature about whom the Sunday school teacher warned us. I’m being dramatic about it now, but back then the stakes were quite high.

Nothing seems to change in my home state. It seemed a bit of a miracle when the marriage ban was struck down, then perhaps a bit predictable when Indiana became the latest state to pass a religious freedom act. On Monday, the state became the latest to pass such legislation. Gov. Mike Pence has said he’ll sign it.

I’m no longer a Christian, but I very much remember the mindset of the fundamentalist. Modern American fundamentalism is a faith of mean-ness — of exclusion — of turning your fears into God’s will and your gossip into prayer requests. I remember it well.

The irony is they completely think they’re doing the right thing…what Jesus would do.

The Jesus Christ of my imagination gladly makes flowers and cakes for gay people. I mean, that seemed to be his M.O. in scripture, hanging out with and helping people regardless of what they believed. Alas, the Jesus Christ of my imagination is irrelevant. What matters now is the savior in the minds of those pressing for the protection of their so-called religious freedom.

It seems an easy realization, that this religious freedom comes at the cost of oppressing another. But in defense, they would very much say the same applies to them, and now we are in a Catch 22 of prejudice.

The answer (and I can’t believe I’m about to say this) is Jesus. The man who who loved all unconditionally. For those so concerned with the inevitable coming of gay marriage, is it not time to sincerely ask, “What would Jesus do?”
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Gen Con Threatens To Take Popular Convention, And Millions, Out Of Indiana Over Religious Freedom Bill

Organizers of Gen Con, said to be the largest gaming convention in the U.S., have threatened to take their event — and potentially millions of dollars — out of Indiana if Governor Mike Pence (R) signs a controversial religious freedom bill into law.

Senate Bill 101 will prohibit state and local governments from “substantially burdening someone’s religious beliefs, unless that entity can prove it’s relying on the least restrictive means possible to further a compelling governmental interest,” MSNBC reports.

Supporters of the bill say that the legislation will protect people and business owners with strong religious beliefs from government interference. Opponents contend that the law could sanction discrimination, particularly against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

“Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds,” Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con, wrote in a letter sent to Pence this week. “Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.”

Gen Con claims to be the “longest-running, best-attended, gaming convention in the world.” According to Swartout, more than 56,000 people attended the convention at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis last year. Swartout added that the convention pumps “more than $ 50 million dollars [into] the city” annually.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Gen Con is under contract to host the event in Indianapolis through 2020. A spokesperson told the news outlet that though there are currently “no plans to break the contract,” the state’s decision on the religious freedom bill “would factor into future decisions.”

Indiana’s Republican-controlled Senate gave the measure final approval on Tuesday with a 40-10 vote. The bill is now awaiting Pence’s signature.

In recent days, several personalities, including Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee, first openly gay pro athlete Jason Collins and “Star Trek” actor George Takei, have spoken out against the bill.

On Facebook Tuesday, Takei wrote:

The Governor of Indiana has indicated that he will sign SB101—a law that allows businesses to discriminate against…

Posted by George Takei on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Visit Indy, the tourism bureau for Indianapolis, has expressed concern that the legislation could greatly impact tourism to the city. Losing Gen Con, in particular, “would be a huge loss,” Visit Indy vice president Chris Gahl told WXIN.

“Anytime something impacts our ability to market Indianapolis and drive convention business, we of course get concerned,” Gahl said.

Pence appears determined to sign the bill. Responding to Gen Con’s letter, a spokesperson told the Indianapolis Star: “The governor has been clear on where he stands on this issue and we don’t have anything to add at this time.”
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Supreme New Year’s Resolution: Stop the Harm to Families of Denying the Freedom to Marry

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Photo by Jeffrey S. Trachtman

The Supreme Court will decide shortly whether to review and decide a marriage equality case before its current term ends in June. Many are praying for this, eager to wrap up an issue long past the tipping point that folks are sick of discussing.

But there is a more important reason the Court should act now: to halt the severe harm that continuing denial of the freedom to marry inflicts every day on countless same-sex couples, their children, and their extended families and friends. It matters whether this harm ends in June 2015 or lingers into the future.

The long-building national consensus for marriage equality reached critical mass after the Supreme Court’s 2013 Windsor decision held it unconstitutional for the federal government to refuse to recognize the lawful marriages of same-sex couples. A flood of state and federal court decisions over the last eighteen months has applied Windsor to invalidate the marriage bans of the majority of states.

The first batch of these cases reached the Supreme Court in September, in the form of requests for review by states whose laws had been struck down. But because all the decisions went in one direction, there was no legal conflict for the Court to resolve — the usual basis for granting “cert.”

The Court’s denial of review delayed the nationwide elimination of discrimination and its harms — but it also made all those favorable decisions final, allowing marriages to go forward in five more states (up from 19) and setting off a ripple effect that has now brought the freedom to marry to thirty-five states (with Florida coming on line in a few days as number 36), plus four with pro-equality rulings on appeal. In comparison, only thirty-four states permitted interracial couples to marry when Loving v. Virginia was decided in 1967.

More recently, a handful of courts have gone the other way — most significantly, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in one fell swoop in November reversed pro-equality rulings in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Marriage rights advocates are now asking the Supreme Court to review this decision and one issued by a federal district judge in Louisiana upholding that state’s marriage ban. Their chances are good, because the Sixth Circuit created a classic “circuit split,” though it is still possible the Court will opt to let litigation play out first in the remaining states.

Denial of review now would have no silver lining. It would simply entrench discrimination in five states, perpetuating needless injury to thousands of families. That’s why several organizations advocating for the rights of same-sex couples and their families (including Freedom to Marry, Family Equality Council, and PFLAG) filed a brief (prepared by my law firm) urging the Supreme Court to grant review and halt the ongoing harms of marriage discrimination.

In the 15 states without the freedom to marry, families suffer concrete harm every day, deprived of literally hundreds of government benefits and protections as well as private benefits awarded based on marital status.

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Steven Rains and Don Condit courtesy of Freedom to Marry

For example, Steven Rains and Don Condit of Fort Worth, Texas, together for 31 years, married in California in 2008 but were treated as unmarried back home in Texas. When Don died unexpectedly, Steven was omitted from his death certificate, excluded from making decisions about his cremation, and is now deprived of surviving spouse benefits based on Dan’s military service and private pensions.

Another couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse of Hazel Park, Michigan, have been together more than eight years and are raising three adopted special needs children. Because Michigan bars same-sex couples from marrying and all unmarried couples from adopting together, Jayne adopted two of the children herself and April adopted the third — but neither is recognized as a parent of the other’s children. This deprives all three children of the protections and stability of having two legal parents.

Exclusion from marriage also inflicts severe dignitary injury — the impact of being treated as second-class citizens with second class relationships. These injuries can be quite tangible, particularly the psychological harm to children of being told by society that their families are less real and worthy of respect than those of different-sex parents. In Windsor, the Supreme Court recognized that failing to respect existing marriages “demeans” couples and “humiliates” their kids. Total exclusion from marriage is at least as demeaning and humiliating.

Even couples deemed married in their home states are harmed by continuing marriage discrimination in other states. Every time they travel to a non-recognition state they risk being treated as unmarried in the event of a medical or other emergency. They need to obtain second parent adoptions or create living wills and powers of attorney to try to replicate the rights they would have automatically if their marriages were respected. Couples who fail to anticipate these problems may face grievous results, such as exclusion from the hospital bedside of a dying spouse.

These harms happen every day and may be catastrophic — robbing a surviving spouse of a lifetime of earned retirement benefits or leaving a child parentless when the biological or adoptive parent dies and the state does not recognize the surviving partner as a parent.

There is simply no good reason to inflict these risks and harms on American families for another day, much less another year. The country is ready for full recognition of the freedom to marry. Let’s hope the Supreme Court is as well.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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The Interview Movie – Freedom Prevails!

Christmas came early and you can now get The Interview on digital HD! See Seth Rogen and James Franco in their hilarious new comedy.

Watch the Full Length Movie:
http://www.theinterview-movie.com

Places to Watch:
Google Play: http://play.google.com/
YouTube Movies: http://youtube.com/movies
Xbox: http://video.xbox.com/
Kernel: http://SeeTheInterview.com/
-For the best mobile experience check out Google Play or Kernel
-Currently available in the US only

See The Interview in select theaters:
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Audiences ‘Let Freedom Ring’ At ‘The Interview’ Screenings In New York City

“The Interview” probably should have been called “The Honey Pot.”

It’s a term and idea frequently referenced in the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg co-directed film, in which Rogen’s character explains, “It’s an attractive spy woman who lures men into doing shit they’re not supposed to do.”

At the 10 a.m. Christmas Day screening of “The Interview” at Cinema Village — the only theater currently showing the film in Manhattan — it was hard not to feel like audiences had been honey-potted in some respect. In this case, they were lured into showing up with notions of protecting free speech and and the sexiness of sticking it to the hackers who, last week, dared to evoke the memory of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in their threats.

The idea that seeing “The Interview” in theaters was important or even patriotic was only amplified by the scene in and around Cinema Village. Many media members (myself included) pounced on moviegoers as they purchased tickets. Inside, theater manager Lee Peterson introduced the comedy by quoting “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

“Let freedom ring,” Peterson said to the crowd of around 100 people. “No one can tell us what we can or can’t see. So enjoy the film.”

It’s a seductive narrative, mostly because people don’t like being told they can’t see something –especially by hackers that may or may not be working for a brutal dictatorship in North Korea. It’s likely one of the reasons that all of Cinema Village’s afternoon screenings are sold out — even after Sony made the film available to stream online for half the price of a theater ticket.

It’s all this buzz surrounding the movie, and Sony’s flip flop on releasing the film, that was what brought Jacqueline and Anthony Goodling to the movie theater.

“I wanted to come down here and see all the hype around something,” said Anthony Goodling. “But, in reality, it’s a movie, and for everyone to blow it out of proportion like they did, I just think it’s going to be really good and really funny.”

Jacqueline, his wife, added that they didn’t have any plans to see “The Interview” before Sony pulled it from theaters last week, but decided to after it became an issue of free speech.

Other theatergoers, such as Karen Shea and her husband, planned to see the film all along, but admitted they came out today due to “curiosity” and due to the “novelty” of Sony briefly pulling it from theaters.

The movie itself is everything you’d expect from a movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco –dick jokes, fart jokes, celebrity cameos and even the delightful integration of language from the Internet’s favorite Deranged Sorority Girl Email. It’s not exactly ground-breaking stuff, but audiences are at least now able to make the choice to see those dick and fart jokes for themselves.

“We live in an area where we have freedom of speech, and can see anything as far as movies and media,” Jacqueline Goodling said. “And this was shut down for a period of time, just because of the hacking and because of the fear that we had. That’s not what we’re about.”
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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