By now, I’m sure many of you have read the rant by self-proclaimed “Investigative Journalist” Stephenson Billings entitled “As Valentine’s Day Approaches, Are Americans Thinking About Sex Instead of the Suffering in Haiti?”.
Before I elaborate further, I’ll take a moment to answer Billings’ question: yes, Americans are thinking about sex, as are the people of every other country on earth. No, not every single one of us is thinking about sex, but, as animals, humans have the natural instinct to reproduce. Now that that’s said and done, I’ll move on.
Poorly conceived and confusing, the “article” was Billings’ latest attempt to demonize Americans, (particularly non-Christian democrats, even though he doesn’t directly say it), while climbing onto his high horse once again. It consisted of a photo montage of seemingly influential women with the words “Shame on You!” in the center. This was confusing, as it appeared as though Billings was scolding the women pictured (the Virgin Mary, Sarah Palin, etc) rather than using them as examples of the enlightened, which was his intent. In addition, the reason why he chose to use only women remains a mystery to me. The rest of the “article” consisted of three lines, the first of which berated Americans with the unfounded accusation that, with Valentine’s Day approaching, we have become apathetic, that our minds are consumed with thoughts of candy and sex.
What makes you so high and mighty, Stephenson Billings, that you feel you can accuse the rest of the population of America of being selfish? Are you simply unaware of the fact that as of January 14th, over $5,000,000 had been raised by American text messages alone? (1) As of January 19th, U.S. cellphone users had donated a total of $22,000,000 to help Haiti (2). If every text donation is worth $10, that means that approximately 2.2 million Americans have donated money to help Haiti. Does that mean that the remaining 304,059,722 Americans are selfish and lazy? Of course not. There are dozens of charities that Americans can give to, from Doctors Without Borders to the Red Cross, from high school fundraisers to paying an extra dollar on your Whole Foods purchase that will go to the relief efforts. Americans give what they can afford to give, and should not be judged for dropping several quarters into a fundraising can instead of sending a $50 check to the Red Cross.
The hypocrisy of Billings’ words is simply overwhelming. Receiving chocolates or sexual favors on Valentine’s Day, the holiday of love, is no more selfish than eating twice one’s share of food during every meal.
I have nothing against overweight people, but the idea of someone of Billings’ body mass index accusing other people of being selfish, uncaring gluttons is simply unacceptable. Valentine’s Day is a holiday that lasts one day and consists of (usually) small gifts, such as a box of chocolates or a stuffed animal. I’m probably the last person you would have expected to be defending consumerism, but an annual holiday that celebrates love is not harming anybody. If a boyfriend wants to fork over $15 for a teddy bear for his girlfriend, so be it. If a husband and wife exchange boxes of chocolates, so be it. What’s confusing is the fact that Stephenson Billings, Mr. Capitalism, is so opposed to this holiday.
In response to a comment made by me in his article, Billings admitted to having just eaten two (count ’em, 2) “cheeseburgers with onions”, yet he found the whole thing rather amusing, perhaps because I had guessed correctly that they comprised a large part of his diet. In the same article where he had the audacity to accuse other Americans of being selfish, Billings admitted to being the epitome of American gluttony – and laughed about it. Perhaps you shouldn’t cast stones, Billings, until you modify your own behaviors.