Last week, I posted Guitar Girl #14, shared it like always on the FaceBook and Twitter pages, and I did a “FaceBook Boost.” That’s where you give FaceBook twenty bucks to share your stuff in people’s news feeds. I’ve done this in the past. It means that a couple thousand, rather than a couple hundred, see the cartoon and maybe end up liking the page so they can follow the exploits of Katie and Company. I’ve done it only a couple of times, and FaceBook shows “people reached” between one and three thousand.

Pretty impressive, eh?

Then this happened:

Screen Shot GG 14

That’s right. Thirteen thousand plus. And several comments, mostly people who disagreed with the cartoon’s premise. I responded, and I confess not gently, and I deleted some of the worst comments. I won’t reprint any of it here; if you want to read for yourself, understand that triggers abound and click here.

On one hand, I really don’t mind that some folks were angry at me. Governor George Wallace used to respond to aides’ reports of bad press by asking, “did they spell my name right?” Thirteen thousand people reached isn’t “viral,” but it’s exposure. Even the pissed-off people will remember the cartoon’s name.

On the other hand, though, it shines a spotlight on a terrible problem with human beings. It’s this: We believe that there are two kinds of people, “us” and “them.” I say “we” because I am just as guilty as anyone.

The “us” camp contains people like me: we share political views, theology, favorite sports teams, preferred entertainment choices, often have similar age ranges, race and gender. Over there, those people, well, they think differently. They have different political ideas, believe different things about God, they root for a rival team, watch really awful TV shows, they’re too young or too old, too dark or too light, or the wrong gender for “boy’s night out.”

Politicians, like the ones in North Carolina, feed on this differentiation. They build it up, with the cooperation of mainstream media, and foment fear. “See those Mexicans over there? They’re gonna take your jobs!” “See those Muslims over there? They’re gonna bomb your church!” “See those gays? They’re gonna recruit your children!” “See those transgenders? They’re gonna go in the ladies’ room and rape your women!”

Never mind that the facts don’t bear their allegations out. When politicians or mainstream media tap into our fears, they trigger emotions in our reptilian brains, where logic can’t apply. We go into “fight or flight” mode, and the big losers are whichever scapegoat-du-jour the Donald Trumps and Roy Moores of the world have picked.

How many trans women have been murdered so far this year? How many Muslims have been kicked off flights? How many have been beaten? How many gay and trans kids kill themselves because of bullying? How many are homeless because their parents kicked them out?

I could go on, but hopefully my point is made.

So yes, I delete comments on the Guitar Girl page. Yes, when I respond, it isn’t always in a manner people expect from a preacher, even a part-time preacher. I need to do better at that part, I guess –  real-life Tylar sat me down and had a long talk about that, and as usual she is right. But I will continue to respond because – and this is important – even now, while less than two hundred people “like” the Guitar Girl FaceBook page, and while four hundred page views on the website is cause for uncorking the imaginary champagne, people are watching. And while there is a chance that, because some fat cartoonist in Alabama speaks up for them, a trans woman or a gay kid won’t commit suicide, I’m going to keep speaking up.

No, there isn’t a group of people who need my voice. Trans people have their own advocates, gay people have theirs, African-Americans and immigrant groups have theirs. One of the diseases that white liberals like myself contract very early on is a habit of finding a camera or a soapbox and kicking people out of the way to get the attention.

WhiteMaleHelping1

I don’t want to be that guy. But I can lend a hand in promoting advocates, in signal-boosting voices. “Guitar Girl” isn’t intended to be political commentary; it’s meant to be the adventures of Katie and Company, a fun little diversion that (I hope) people drop by and look at as they browse web cartoons. But the political stuff has happened, and will continue to happen, because I really can’t help it. Sometimes things need to be said, and why not use a redheaded high-school girl, or one of her friends, to say them?

And you are welcome to disagree with what she says, but remember that words mean things, and if you use violent or abusive words, they’ll disappear. Simple enough, eh?

Let’s wrap it up by sharing some awesome advocates and links and such:

Assigned Male” – someday I hope to be able to draw this well….

Central Alabama Pride – My local Pride organization, full of amazing people.

Parker Marie Molloy – Trans advocate and great writer.

PFLAG – An advocacy group for parents, friends, and LGBTQI persons.

Let me know if there are others you’d like me to add.