Blacksburg: City of Protests / Hokies Football / Archie Comics Blows It / Burger-Eating / Gay Guide Dogs / Little Dogs in Cute Sweaters / Taking Aim at Starbucks / Guns and Gay-ness / Michael Vick Returns

First we had the fine folks known as the Phelps family here to protest America’s descent into homosexuality (which apparently began, unbeknownst to Karka, long before Ryan Seacrest and Clay Aiken). The Phelps clan is so sure that “God hates fags” (which I’m sure he does, if by “fags” we mean cigarettes) that they are willing to parade around in public carrying placards to that effect. Some of their assertions are clearly absurd. I mean, global warming the result of America tolerating homosexuality? Virginia Tech’s tuition increase the result of. . . . Well, obviously that can’t be the case, since Virginia’s current regime is so openly anti-gay.

But some of their claims may have some merit. For example, their claim that America’s toleration of homosexuality has been the real cause of the Hokies’ dreadful offensive performance the last few years. I mean, something has to explain why we can have such good athletes and yet play so poorly. (And here I’ve been blaming Bryan Stinespring’s play calling! To the point where I’ve even considered marching through town with a placard proclaiming “God Hates Bryan Stinespring’s Game Plan.” I’m quite sure I could find a snippet of Scripture to back me up. Isn’t there something in the Ten Commandments like “Thou shalt not be predictable”?)

And now I find out—as if the Phelps’ family’s dire predictions and the impending apocalypse known simply as 2012 were not alarming enough—that according to an AP report “Riverdale High is getting its first gay character.” (A fitting way for Archie Comics to celebrate its 69th birthday. Care to read anything into that “69”?) And his name is Kevin. I swear to god!

The announcement is somewhat cryptic, in that Kevin is going to be the strip’s first “openly gay” character (my emphasis). So what am I supposed to conclude from this teasing tidbit? That I was right all along, that Reggie really is gay and that his fanatical pursuit of Veronica was always a cover for his deviant ways? And that he always had a thing for “Big” Moose? And does this give me license to unashamedly re-visit my adolescent fantasies about Veronica and Betty and Midge and their “innocent” slumber parties? (Girls Gone Wild: Riverdale Confidential?)

The “gay community” is apparently quite pleased. As David Moye writes on,
Pop culture observers say that introducing a gay character is only the first step. Following up with interesting story lines will determine the future of Kevin Keller as a viable character.

However, the plot of the debut story, titled “Isn’t It Bromantic,” centers around the fact that Veronica doesn’t have a clue why he’s not interested in her.

Having a gay character in a comic whose readership tends to be females between the ages of 7 and 14 is groundbreaking enough, but what is pleasing pop culture writers like Dennis Ayers is how nonchalantly Archie, Reggie, Betty and especially Jughead react to the news.

“When Jughead finds out, he acts like it’s no big deal,” Ayers said. “It’s great that a comic book that is so wholesome and white bread is treating being gay as if it’s a perfectly normal American thing.”

Ayers also says that focusing the plot around Veronica’s cluelessness is the best way to handle introducing a gay character to the series. [Karka is quite disappointed in Ronnie, by the way.]

The story actually begins when—hold onto your hats, symbol-lovers—Kevin arrives in Riverdale and promptly beats Jughead in a burger-eating contest. (We all had our suspicions about Jughead, did we not?) I’m sure those were “all-beef” burgers. Nestled between two shapely white buns. And about that “special sauce.” Well, perhaps it’s best not to go there, especially in a family-oriented blog.

Co-CEO of Archie Comics Jon Goldwater (lord, what kind of kinkiness is suggested by that “gold water”) explained that the introduction of an openly gay character is “about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive.” Maybe the next step in staying “current and inclusive” will be adding a “Phelps family” to the mix. That would put the Phelps family right where they belong: in a comic book.

These shocking developments follow that extremely disturbing story about the seventh-grade girl who saved a friend who was choking and then credited “SpongeBob,” a character on a TV show that Karka feels certain is infested with gay characters, even thought he has never watched it. (Bob Dole’s got nuthin’ on me.)

You don’t have to be an expert in Freudian symbolism to be revolted by this AP story: our heroine “believes she saw SpongeBob use the Heimlich maneuver to retrieve a clarinet lodged in the throat of another character, Squidward.” A clarinet? Really. If you are going to work a phallic symbol into your show, of course you will use the clarinet, which is only the gayest instrument ever (beating the flute by a mile). And lodged in someone’s throat? That is sheer pornography! No wonder America is going to the dogs, and by the dogs I mean those openly gay fru-fru dogs like Poodles and Pekingese and Pomeranians.

Karka would be remiss here if he didn’t if he didn’t point out that sexual orientation is in reality a hot topic in the canine world. I’m not joking. In a story filed by Sarah Mennie, we read, “The (Adelaide) Sunday Mail said Ian Jolly, 57, was barred from dining at the Thai Spice restaurant in May 2009 after a staff member mistook his guide dog Nudge [shouldn’t that be Nudge-Nudge?] for a ‘gay dog,’ a tribunal heard this week.” According to a statement given by the restaurant’s owners , Hong Hoa Thi To and Anh Hoang Le, “one of the restaurant’s waiters said that Mr Jolly’s partner Ms Chris Lawrence stated ‘she wanted to bring a gay dog into the restaurant.'” (Don’t you wish you had been the one taking this statement?)

But as they say, all is well that ends well. The restaurant has “agreed to provide Mr Jolly with a written apology and attend an Equal Opportunity education course, in addition to paying him $1500.” (Karka isn’t exactly sure how a restaurant is going to attend an Equal Opportunity education course, but he will say no more on this matter, not wanting to be accused of restaurantism. But clearly, someone can use some education here, because according to the report “The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog.”)

Sometimes these matters become downright comical, as we see in this question submitted to Yahoo! Answers:

My friend who recently came out to me as gay lives in Atlanta and he would like a dog so he can walk to the park with and I guess meet other guys. I know that he doesn’t like big dogs. What kind of dog should he get. What are the dogs that most people like or is there no particular kind. I think that Pomeranians are cute. He has cat that he likes to cuddle so the dog has to be cuddle-able I guess. We both think it’s really cute for dogs to wear little sweaters.
Any help?

Karka suspects that you can’t find the kind of help this person needs on the Web. (Or anywhere else, for that matter.) And that there is a special province in Hell for people “who think it’s really cute for dogs to wear little sweaters.” (Cardigans, I presume.) But I digress.

A final note about the  SpongeBob case. The girl who saved her friend must have been picking up on the subliminal homosexual propaganda (clarinets lodged in throats and I shudder to think what else) embedded in the show. (Why isn’t the Phelps family protesting this? I wonder.) Because, as the AP notes, “One little hiccup in the heartwarming story is that a Nickelodeon spokeswoman says there was never an actual episode of SpongeBob performing the Heimlich.”

I can’t remember: Did Reggie play the clarinet back at Riverdale High?

But let’s get back to serious matters. Our fine town saw another protest last week, as more than twenty people turned out to protest against Starbucks allowing open and concealed weapons in their stores. Now Karka doesn’t much care, since he never goes to Starbucks. (Companies whose mission statement includes world domination make him nervous.)

But this protest, coming on the heels of the Phelps family protest (they had only six protesters, by the way, three of them kids), got Karka to wondering. How does the Right Wing fundamentalist mind parse these matters? I mean, if a gay male goes into a Starbucks packing heat (as God, being a card-carrying NRA member, wants him to), does the fact that he is carrying a gun negate the fact that he is gay?

Is there some complicated sliding scale at work here? Meaning, will a .357 Magnum negate more gayness than, say, a .25 Browning? And if so, exactly what kind of weaponry would Clay Aiken have to carry to make himself an acceptable man in the eyes of the Right Wing fundamentalist god? And what would be the result if a heavily armed Clay Aiken sauntered up to the counter at Starbucks and ordered a really gay drink? (Say, a  Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino® Light Blended Coffee.)

Would even the Right Wing fundamentalist god be confused at this point? (Maybe not, thinks Karka. Maybe everyone who patronizes Starbucks goes to hell regardless of sexual orientation or firepower quotient. That would certainly make God’s job easier.)

Finally, to complete the Blacksburg protest trifecta, we had the return of Michael Vick for the Hokies spring game and the predictable response to that return. Vick is here, as a Roanoke Times writer put it, as yet another step on his “road to redemption.” And to make some cash: Vick plans to sell autographs for $25-30 a pop. I have been attempting to find out if God hates dog killers as much as he hates fags, but my calls to the Phelps family headquarters have so far gone unanswered.

Stay tuned.

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