TMC Administration Notes - February/March 2015

Letter from the Chair

The phrase "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) became popular in the wake of the massacre at the offices of the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo as a way to show support for free speech and to show opposition to the mindset behind the killings. But while the killings were of course reprehensible and incomprehensible, and while free speech should be an ideal worth fighting for at any cost, I'm not sure if I am Charlie.

Charlie Hebdo is a sophomoric and racist publication that looks like what might happen if the Ku Klux Klan started publishing Mad magazine. It seeks to offend for the sake of offending, and probably appeals to a young, disaffected, and mostly male audience. The killing of its employees for any reason is indefensible, but killing to silence free expression is especially heinous. Condemnation of the perpetrators and those who support them should be (and mostly has been) stated in no uncertain terms. But in expressing support for the victims, must we identify so strongly with the magazine and its juvenile brand of hate? Must we all be Charlie?

Ironically, it was a Frenchman, Voltaire, who said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." With this in mind, isn't it possible to empathize with the French and support free speech, while not embracing the repellent vitriol of Charlie Hebdo? Blindly embracing this publication solely because it was viciously attacked by radical Islamic terrorists seems like a version of the questionable proverb, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Of course no clear-thinking person supports terrorists, so they are our enemies. And obviously, radical Islam considers Charlie Hebdo to be an enemy. So therefore, we must be friends with Charlie Hebdo?

Isn't this the same kind of thinking behind t-shirts like, "My two favorite teams are the Vikings and whoever is playing the Packers"? Life is never so simple that we can afford the luxury of such broad sweeping judgments. To jump to such conclusions just because it saves us the trouble of thinking does a disservice to all involved.

Ultimately, I think the problem is that we are uncomfortable experiencing what seems like conflicting feelings. I remember hearing worried men in the Thursday night Divorce and Uncoupling support group say that they thought they were going crazy because they still felt love for their wives even though their wives had left them for other men. How could they still feel love in those circumstances? Wasn't this a sign of mental instability? Humans are complex creatures and we are perfectly capable of holding seemingly conflicting feelings. The key is what those feelings are based on. You may still love your estranged wife for the good times you shared, while hating her for her actions at the end of your marriage. Similarly, you can empathize with Charlie Hebdo and its staff for the unimaginable trauma they have suffered, and you can support their right to continue publication because you believe in free speech, but still feel repulsed by what they publish.

I encourage you to be open to conflicting feelings, and to be suspicious of attempts to herd public opinion on the basis of simplistic reasoning. Life is complex, so the feelings you have as you go through life will be complex too. This isn't a sign of weakness. It's means you're alive.

Joe Szurszewski
Board Chair


Library Corner

–– Jim Heaney, Librarian

We have a unique and extensive collection of books on men's and general topics which can be checked out by members of the Men's Center. Our periodicals include:

  • Fathering Today
  • Men's Health
  • Men's Journal
  • Lavender
  • Transitions
  • Voice Male.

The books in the Men’s Center Library are sectioned off into 14 categories.  These categories are: Fathers, Children & Families, Fiction, Gay & Lesbian, Health & Therapy, Humor, Men’s Movement & Masculinity, Men’s Stories & Poetry, Miscellaneous, Relationships & Friendships, Reference, Relationships & Friendships, Sexuality, Spirituality, Valued Elders, Women. 

The Men's Center is proud to have a signed copy of Timothy Young's recently published To the Palace of Kings. Timothy is very active in the mens movement. This is the book which was referenced in the last Men Talk.

The Men's Center Staff and Key Volunteers

Office Manager -- Randy Genrich
Office Assistant Mgr-- Bryon Wistrom
Anger Mgmt Director-- John Hesch
Office Volunteers -- Rick Charlson, Jim Heaney, Dick Madigan
Librarian -- Jim Heaney
Donation Pick-up Volunteers --
See chart in kitchen area

Board Chair -- Joe Szurszewski
Board Vice Chair -- Tom Weaver
Board Secretary -- Norm Petrik
Board Treasurer -- Rick Charlson
Board Member -- Jim Heaney
Board Member -- Ken Knoll
Board Member -- Andy Mickel
Board Member -- Damon Starks
Alternate -- Todd Fogelberg
Alternate -- Harry Greenberg
Alternate -- Malik Holt
Alternate -- Dave Webb

MenTalk Editor -- Bill Dobbs
MenTalk Production -- Bill Dobbs
MenTalk Here/There -- Andy Mickel
MenTalk Advertising -- Bill Dobbs
MenTalk Mailing Coord -- Scott Benson
MenTalk Labels/Database -- Scott Benson

Program Committee, Chair -- Norm Petrick
Wednesday Present Coord --Randy Genrich

Wednesday Present Publicity -- Rick Charlson

Finance Committee, Chair -- Rick Charlson
Finance Committee Chair -- Rick Charlson
Fin Comm Grant Writer -- Malik Holt-Shabazz
Fin Comm Memberships -- Andy Mickel

Outreach Committee, Chair -- Rick Charlson
Pride Festival Coord -- Ken Knoll
Media Publicity Coord -- Rick Charlson
Outreach Booth at Shows -- Randy Genrich, Andy Mickel, Malik Holt-Shabazz
Librarian -- Jim Heaney
Web Site/Technology -- Bill Dobbs, Andy Mickel, Ken Knoll, Joe Szurszewski
E-mail Responders -- Scott Benson, Rick Charlson, Bill Dobbs, John Hesch, Andy Mickel, Joe Szurszewski

Anger Mgmt Director -- John Hesch
Anger Mgmt Grant Writer -- Bob Anderson
Anger Mgmt Publicity -- John Hesch
Anger Mgmt Steer Commit -- Bob Lundberg, John Hersch, David Giancristforo
Anger Mgmt Facilitators -- Tom M, Michael K, Jim K, John H, Art H, Bryce K, Pat G, Dean G, David E, Hoske R, Cory C, Michael I, John C, Lee C, Norm P, Bob L, Bob A, Harry G, Howard B, Tom F

Support Group Coord -- Norm Petrik
Support Group Database -- Dave Webb
General Men's Issues -- Randy G, Jerry O
Addiction Busters -- Tommy J
Gay Issues -- Pat K, Bruce K, Ranslow Z
Transitions --Scott, Richard S.
Divorce/Uncouplng -- John M, Greg D, Gerry W
Sexual Trauma & Abuse Survivors -- Jerry B, Kathleen M
Bi-Men & Gay Issues -- Leo P, David W, Damon S.
Healthy Sexual Boundaries -- Bobby S, Tom J
Healthy Sexual Boundaries East -- Bobby S
Retirement -- Norm P

Call our Office Manager at 612-822-5892 and ask how you can help.
We have been a vital part of the Twin Cities community for decades,
and almost all of our services have been provided by volunteers like you.