Toxic Comments: Normalizing Atrocities, a Resistance Post

Bomb-Cool-iconHave you ever been in a public place minding your own business when a stranger makes a rather loud offensive statement?  They didn’t make a statement pertaining to you, but it was a sexist, prejudice, or propagandist statement.  It’s a statement so offensively toxic that it even offended you!

Words were on the tip of your tongue.  You wanted to tell them their rhetoric was hurtful, wrong, and disrespectful of those around them.  Yet, you didn’t say anything.  You think they had a right to voice their opinion.  Besides, if you confronted them, something bad could happen.  Then you have the worst thought of all:  It wasn’t your problem.

Guess what.  It was your problem.  Furthermore, if you’re an American in the age of 45, it’s most definitely our problem.

As it happens, I heard an educator (unrelated to my academic institution) talking at a Starbucks and she made a horribly disagreeable comment:  I make students stand for the Pledge since my husband fought in Vietnam for their right to say it.

I forced myself not to comment, and yes, it was the worst thing I could have possibly done.

Bio-hazard-icon

In the current climate of highly charged hateful rhetoric and actions, I’m learning from my inaction, and I encourage people to calmly and logically shut down ignorantly toxic comments.  Call them a gateway drug to homegrown terrorism (or for a man to stab their fellow countrymen and call it Patriotism).

~Continued after video~

While the educator’s comments aren’t hate speech per se, it’s still a dangerous comment specifically for pure ignorance, which happens to lead to dangerous nationalism, authoritarianism, indoctrination, and even brainwashing.

Paraphrasing from the above Huffington Post video, Americans let those comments slide, we are helping to normalize such thinking.  Kids who hear it will think that toxic perspective is fine, or normal, and we encourage those few of like, small-minds to voice the same opinions.

Here is why that educator’s comments are so disagreeable.

First, the part claiming her husband fought in the Vietnamese war so American students can say the Pledge of Allegiance is revisionist history and has absolutely no basis in fact.

France-Flag-iconThe Vietnamese War had nothing to do with American freedom nor the Pledge of Allegiance.  America entered the war to help the French retain control of their Indochina colony.  When the French lost control and Communists took over Northern Vietnam, the American government found the situation disagreeable and stayed to help Southern Vietnamese take back the North.

Second, anyone who claims they, or their spouse, fought for the American right to say the Pledge drank the crazy people Kool Aid.  Our government’s Enlightenment Era Creators in the American Revolution were those who truly fought for our freedom.  They fought for the colonists’ right to have an equal say in government as part of a living document that also includes instructions for two methods of revolting against those in power.  Not of the idiocy to say a simple Pledge.

Hypothetically, in some bizarre dimension the Vietnamese War had been about American freedom, that freedom would encompass a wide range of freedoms we enjoy in the real world.  They would include the freedom to choose to say or not to say the American Pledge of Allegiance.

As Americans, we take pride in our First Amendment:Paper-icon

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

These days, Americans refer to the First Amendment as freedom of speech or freedom of religion.  In the 80s and 90s, I remember it was referred to as freedom of the press.

The original Thirteen Colonies were formed on the promise of religious freedom and a haven from political upheaval.  Basically, their own countries persecuted (i. e., imprisoned or penalized) them because of their beliefs either in religion or politics.

Even today, there are countries – a few more liberal than America – that still penalize people for criticizing their leaders.  Here are twelve of them:

  1. Azerbaijan
  2. Lebanon
  3. Venezuela
  4. Poland
  5. Turkey
  6. Netherlands
  7. Cameroon
  8. Bahrain
  9. Kuwait
  10. Thailand
  11. Iran
  12. Indonesia

The American Constitution was written so all American citizens have governmental say without the threat of persecution, which is also covered in the First Amendment (…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances).

We have the right to protest peaceably.  If Americans wish to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance, they can without penalization.  Hell, even in the 20th Century, people burned the American flag at protests without legal repercussions.  Why?  Because that is also covered under the First Amendment.

When I substitute in a classroom, I don’t force the students to stand and recite the Pledge.  Any students who choose to sit, respects the rest of the class by staying quiet through the Pledge.  Those who choose to say the Pledge, respects the classmates who choose to sit – as in not shaming those who sit through the Pledge.

Personally, I stopped saying the Pledge because I disagree with the under God part, which wasn’t added until the 1950s as a convoluted way to combat the political concept of Communism.  (Anyone else confused by that?)  Plus, I don’t recite the Pledge as a protest against the current political stupidity in the White House and Congress.  Although, I still stand and face the flag out of respect for my family history.

(By the way, anyone else think it’s overkill to say the Pledge everyday in school?!  Why don’t we say it once at the beginning of the Academic year or each semester?).

Typically, I resume working after the Pledge and ignore the moment of silent reflection.  I think taking a moment to silently reflect – which is code for pray – is a waste of time when people should do that in the privacy of their own home before going to school or work.  In addition, the Pledge of Allegiance is a prayer since it incorporates under God and was originally written by a minister.

I’m not saying the misguided educator was a follower of the Far Right, but I’m going on the assumption based on her comment.  Aside from the confusion over the term freedom, the Far Right (who proclaim themselves Patriots) get a lot of things wrong.

The Far Right likes to take their Nationalism to the extreme.  Perhaps, they believe the Pledge was always recited by school children at least once everyday across the country dating all the way back to America winning independence from England.

bag-books-iconActually, the Pledge wasn’t a classroom ritual until 1892, and America didn’t have an official pledge until the first half of the 20th Century.

It was not until 1942 that Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance. One year later, in June 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced to recite it. In fact,today only half of our fifty states have laws that encourage the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom!

Forcing children to say the Pledge in school is not Patriotic since it’s considered a form of authoritarianism in a country that’s supposed to be a Republic.  While forces are attempting to change the foundation of our government to an oligarchy and 45 treats his position as a dictatorship, I believe wholeheartedly that this country will always remain a republic, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

I wish I would have said something to that educator, yet I would have done more harm than good.  Unfortunately, I would have yelled at the woman instead of calmly explain to her the wrongness of her statement with logic.  Perhaps, it would have been a futile attempt.  At least, I would have demonstrated that there are Americans who won’t stand for a dictatorial revisionist history.

However, I’m mainly writing about this experience to encourage other fellow Americans with cooler heads to curb both hateful and blind nationalist propaganda.  The more we make these comments abnormal, the less we have to deal with open hate, Patriotic stabbings, and the fear of homegrown terrorists.

A Resistance Post: Is anyone else scared?

star-trek-the-next-generation-iconFrom people displaying memes of the character Jean Luke Picard from Star Trek the Next Generation that reads “Every morning I wake up, I’m like ‘Damage report'” to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s epic Trump burn saying if he were president, maybe most Americans can once again sleep at night.  There is truth in both those statements.  Since Mr. Trump has taken office, the sale on sleep aides has likely skyrocketed.

Tea Partiers always seem angry and negative.  Before the inauguration of Mr. Trump, they spent most of their days listening to blow-hards peddling false news to an audience who lapped up every word.

Then there are other Americans who simply spend their lives in a constant state of negativity.  Unfortunately, that is life.  Unless they find the courage to change it, negativity will always be a part of them.

So far this president has worried Muslims (Americans and immigrants alike), refugees (at home and abroad), Latinos (legal and illegal), most women, the LGBT Community, and other American’s for various reasons.  Unlike some of my fellow Americans, I can still sleep at night, but reading the daily news keeps me in a near constant state of anger and worry.  An American president, his cabinet, and Congress should not cause the American people sleepless nights, anger, worry, sadness, and any other strong, negative emotions.

dazzled-iconI am sure that past presidents have caused these emotions.  Former President Andrew Jackson creating the Federal Banking System likely caused some American negativity along with Abraham Lincoln overseeing troops during the Civil War, or Franklin D. Roosevelt prior to World War II.  Have they done it to this heightened extent, or to so many American people?  It seems the only people who are not worried are apathetic Americans and Tea Partiers.

Monday (February 13,2017), I gained a new, intense negative emotion caused by Mr. Trump:  Fear.

America has come close to nuclear war before.  There was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and close calls with the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) now known as Russia.  How many times have we come to nuclear annihilation by our own missiles?

As a former GOP candidate, Mr. Trump stated he would not take vacations.

“There’s just so much to be done,” Trump said after winning the presidential election. “So I don’t think we’ll be very big on vacations, no.”

Not only was the weekend before last his third straight weekend taking a vacation, his trips cost the tax payers $3 million dollars each time he travels via Air Force One to his Mar-a-Lago golf resort.  I do not care if he calls it his “Winter White House,” he is playing golf, which – to me – definitely counts as a vacation.  Perhaps he thinks it does not count because he brought the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with him.  Although, dragging a Prime Minister around a resort to show off to his Super PAC mega donors, schmoozing with his one-percenter pals, and rubbing elbows with other CEOs willing to “pay to play” for a top government position (Betsy DeVose anyone?) is known as a huge conflict of interest.  Do not forget the $200,000 membership to Mar-a-Lago includes an up close and in person view of Mr. Trump being “president” on the weekends.  They can pull Mr. Trump aside to have a say on policy and who he should choose as a Cabinet Member.  If they are super lucky, Mr. Trump will ask their advice on how to cheaply build his pointless wall.

Real estate executive Bruce Toll told the New York Times that he does occasionally discuss national policy issues, particularly when it comes to Trump’s plans to increase spending on infrastructure projects, when he sees Trump at Mar-a-Lago. According to Toll, Trump sometimes receives advice from other club members about what to do policy-wise.

Developer Richard LeFrak, a close friend of Trump’s, recounted a discussion at Mar-a-Lago last weekend during which Trump asked him for help with the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico. Trump was unhappy with the projected cost of the wall, wanted to come up with a way to build it more cheaply, and suggested that the head of the Department of Homeland Security would give LeFrak a call to talk about it.

And according to an audio tape obtained by Politico from one of Trump’s New Jersey clubs that was also published on Saturday, Trump has asked his club members for their guidance selecting his cabinet appointees.

Smilie-money-iconA member can even take pictures with his cabinet members out on the scenic patio.  If a member is really lucky, they might watch Mr. Trump handle a National Security crisis usually requiring the White House Situation Room, or a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).

SATURDAY EVENING, NORTH Korea launched a ballistic missile that traveled over 300 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan—far enough to hint at the ability to drop a nuke on one of the US’ closest allies.

Naturally, President Trump discussed the matter with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was visiting the US, and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. But here’s the problem: He did so in full view of guests at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, with smartphone cameras and flashlights pointed at presumably sensitive material.

It was perfectly fine for Mr. Trump to discuss matters of National Security with the Prime Minister of Japan since it does involve his own country, and we are allies.  What is not okay are the Mar-a-Lago civilian guests who were present with their cell phones, flashing pictures, and possibly capturing sensitive material for the world to see.  That is correct.  Not only are there pictures, but they were posted to Facebook.  I will give my readers a moment to reread that last sentence.  If that was not bad enough, a guest also posted a picture of him and someone who should never have his picture posted on social media let alone his name.

…Mr. Trump’s military aide responsible for carrying the nuclear “football” — the briefcase that contains codes for launching nuclear weapons.

So there is now a picture of the guy in charge of carrying our nuclear weapons codes floating around the internet.  It does not matter that the photo is now “sanitized.”  When it was first posted, it was not.  What is placed on the internet will always be on the internet.  Several media organizations and – I am sure – nefarious people likely took plenty of screen shots of the original picture.  (Anyone else notice that it was an old rich white dude who posted that picture to Facebook?!)  I do not know about you, my dear readers, but after reading the above quoted line I turned white from shock.  Later, I definitely felt a fair amount of fear and extreme anger.  I am not even afraid to admit I cried over the egregiously blatant disregard for our Country’s wellbeing.

Mr. Trump appears to enjoy presenting the spectacle of his presidency to those at his privately held club…

Mr. Jackass Trump is basically putting us all in danger to make a buck.  I feel completely justified in my fear when an idiot and his rich (also morally questionable) cronies are leading the country.  (I guess you have to be severely stupid and greedy to have more money than most of the globe).

Smiley-grumpy-2-iconWhat makes my blood boil are the aides, cabinet members, Secret Service, National Security Members, Speaker of the House, other members of Congress, and even the civilian guests.  None of them thought this was a problem?  Not one person spoke up.  No one said, “Gee, this is a national security issue, those documents and the whole scene I’m witnessing seems serious so I really shouldn’t take a picture”?  Not one security member or aide thought to mention to Mr. Trump, “Hey, this deals with the security of the American people.  Maybe we shouldn’t discuss these things outside?”  How about the aide carrying the nuclear “football?”  Why did he not say, “No you cannot take my picture because of National Security” and perhaps, “I don’t want to die”?  Whatever happened to the power of a simple “No”?

More and more people are losing respect and trust in Mr. Trump.  Those last two quotes I presented are from the New York Times.  Notice they use “Mister” as Mr. Trump’s title and not “President?”  It is not just corporate print media (excluding Faux Fox News) have little to no respect and trust in Mr. Trump.  Neither do American Intelligence agencies.  We are talking the spy community, people.  They alert us to potential threats so we can be ready.

There is more consequential IC pushback happening, too. Our spies have never liked Trump’s lackadaisical attitude toward the President’s Daily Brief, the most sensitive of all IC documents, which the new commander-in-chief has received haphazardly. The president has frequently blown off the PDB altogether, tasking Flynn with condensing it into a one-page summary with no more than nine bullet-points. Some in the IC are relieved by this, but there are pervasive concerns that the president simply isn’t paying attention to intelligence.

Everything I have laid out is worse than a horror movie or a particularly chilling thriller.  If this does not make most Americans more concerned, apathetic Americans start to get concerned, or raise a flag or two to the white supremacist Tea Partiers, maybe a nuclear fallout with our own weapons will.  That is, if anyone other than the one-percenters survive.  (Seriously, people might have found money to build bunkers in the 50s, but who can find that kind of cash laying around these days)?

Furthermore, there is the issue of the potential Russian ties to Mr. Trump, his cabinet members, and the Republican party.  On Valentine’s Day, Michael Flynn was “forced to resign” (a. k. a., fired) from his National Security post for calling the Russian Ambassador the day former President Obama placed sanctions on Russia for hacking an American election.

Mr. Trump blamed news media leaks for Michael Flynn’s dismissal.  He might think media leaks are bad, but in this budding “worse than Watergate” situation, media leaks are my new favorite thing in the world.

This whole circumstance brings up one big question:  How many of America’s top government officials are involved in the Russian conspiracy?  The government is controlled by the Republicans who, I suspect, also have ties to Russia.  The Senate did launch an inquiry into the Russian hacking allegations, which will take a while.

Republican leaders are not promising a quick turnaround.

Burr surmised that it would take months to “aggressively” comb through all the intelligence pertaining to the suspected hacking, given that the scale and extent aren’t yet clear. And Republican leaders are clearly waiting on the intelligence panels to take the lead.

As for the Michael Flynn case, Senate Republicans are oddly reluctant to investigate.  Now, the American people are starting to ask who knew about Flynn’s Russian involvement.  Enter Rep. John Chaffetz (R-UT).  Last post I mentioned his accusations that his town hall meeting constituents were replaced with liberal organization paid rabble rousers.  Their main purpose was to bully him.  Surely, none of his constituents would be disappointed in his work?

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Tuesday that his panel won’t investigate the circumstances that led to Michael Flynn stepping down Monday as President Trump’s national security adviser.

Instead, Chaffetz deferred to the House Intelligence Committee, which is already investigating Russia’s attempt to influence the presidential elections, a scope that includes campaign communications with the Russian government.

“I think that situation has taken care of itself. I know that the Intel committee is looking into the hacking issue,” Chaffetz told reporters.

Since the House Intelligence Committee is already looking into the Russian hacking case, why not give them more work?  Where is the passion and drive?  Where is the righteous indignation that Russia might have a big influence on top officials within the American government?  No worries, “that situation has taken care of itself.”

What does Senator Rand Paul have to say about the situation?  Surely, he would have something scathing to say about the Trump administration and demand swift action?

Republican Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday an investigation into the resignation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn would be excessive and it would not make sense to investigate other Republicans.

I guess not.  Lately, Sen. Paul has been going against his Libertarian leanings by voting for Sen. Jeff Beauregard Sessions as Attorney General.  Sessions is for the “War on Drugs,” and he is a staunch supporter of mass incarceration (which means he is likely being paid by the private prison industry), and Libertarians are generally against the War on Drugs and mass incarceration.  I thought they would also be against a Russian influence on the American Government.  Apparently not.

While growing up, American children learn a lot of things:  Respect the flag, American military service members are heroes (even though the government does not treat them as such), and Russia is bad (even though the Cold War ended in 1991).

Now we have a president who ignorantly endangers the safety of the American people for money, has possible ties to Russia, has aides communicating with Russia, Republicans obviously unwilling to investigate any of these travesties appearing to aid and abet these treasonous people, and people staunchly supporting Mr. Trump.  None of them see any reason to “Drain the Swamp” the 99-percenters live in.  Please tell me I am not the only one concerned.

Men, Religion, and My Ovaries…

Gavel-Law-iconAs if Thursday’s Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling was kick in the vagina lady parts to women’s rights, today’s was a punch to the ovaries.  Understand SCOTUS is made up mostly of women hating men.  It should have come as little surprise to me that in a 5 to 4 vote SCOTUS upheld the stupid religious rights of employers who believe that most forms of birth control are a form of abortion.  Basically, the employer also has say over a woman’s reproductive organs – something that should only be between a woman and her physician.

What gives these goons the right to have a say in the type of birth control women should use especially when they have never done research over various forms of birth control and how they work in the bodies of women.  Birth Control, Plan B, and IUD’s are not forms of abortion.  Anyone can Google or go straight to WebMD for the answers.

I’m so angry that I don’t know what else to say.  Instead, I’ll say that the men who ruled in favor of “religious freedom” for corporations are a bunch of misogynistic f*$&% nuts who are free to pop their insurance covered viagra.  To make things more entertaining, here’s Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent in song format.

Religious Zealots Acting Monstrously

Legalized_BullyingI’m sure most of my readers know about Thursdays Supreme Court ruling regarding buffer zones in front of Women’s Clinics.  If you don’t, let me fill you in along with reason why I (and most sane people) think they’re necessary.

The Supreme Court on Thursday decided that Buffer Zones in front of Women’s Clinics impeded the free speech of religious nut job protestors.  (Even if they aren’t religiously affiliated, a laughably “pro-life” protestor in front of a Women’s Clinic is still a nut job).

Buffer Zone laws were designed to protect clinic patients (women) from overly aggressive protesters.  These protesters from zealoted religious origins would like the American public, possibly the world, to believe that they’re little old ladies talking to patients quietly and calmly about why they shouldn’t get an abortion.  That’s not true.

For reference, I offer the stories told by volunteer clinic escorts.  Their job is to escort the clinic patient safely into the clinic and sometimes, to keep protesters from violently touching the patient when she’s trying her best to ignore their overly vile vitriol.  Sometimes they even keep the boyfriend, spouse, or parent from going after protestors when their harsh language has made the protector’s loved one cry.

DSCN0491These protesters aren’t just guilty of physical and verbal abuse of patients regardless of their reason for going to a clinic.  (After all, women have other feminine needs other than getting an abortion).  The protestors obstruct traffic, clinic entrances, and block close parking spots.  They intentionally make it so the patient has to run through a violent a verbal (sometimes violent) obstacle course of abuse before making it through the door of a clinic.  Some patients don’t even make it to the door before they’re turning around and running back to their car.  Sometimes they reschedule their appointment and sometimes they don’t go back at all.  Hence the importance of the Buffer Zone at Women’s Clinics.  

Furthermore, the next ironical point has been hammered into the ground, yet I think it still bares repeating:  The Supreme Court has it’s own Buffer Zone.

Still can’t believe religious protesters are abusive bullies despite the numerous stories and video evidence to the contrary?  I have my own run in with religious zealots.  It wasn’t to an exasperated degree as the insanity outside Women’s Clinics.  Yet, it was surprisingly verbally abusive.

I was a teen at the time when I went against religious nut jobs…twice.  They called me illiterate, idiot, slut, and they even threatened me twice.

When I was fifteen, I attended a school board meeting where a group of religious activists tried to get educational R rated movies banned in classrooms.  I had just completed U. S. History (from the Pilgrims to the 1980’s) in summer school and watched an R movie in Early American History.  (That’s how I learned about the intended ban.)

My mom was happy to take me to the meeting and participate.  She’s all about unobstructed knowledge along with political and intellectual activism.  

The board meetings were generally held in the cafeteria, a massive room where one side was set up with chairs with a pathway between the chairs.  That pathway was set up for people who wish to voice their opinion wait in line to speak.  

On one side of the isle were the religious group and their supporters, on the other side were educators and parents against the ban.  Mom and I were standing in the back of the seated group since we didn’t show up early enough to grab a seat.  

It was definitely a spectacle, I should have brought popcorn.

The religious activist to speak was a lady seated in one of the front seats.  She daintily rose from her chair, holding a shoebox.  In dramatic fashion, she opened the box placing the lid under the box and pulling out sports medals.  She proceeded to plop a medal in front of each board member.

I don’t remember much about her speech.  Essentially, she said R movies ruined her teen, turned her daughter down the wrong path of life.  She said that R movies give teens bad ideas, movies like Schindler’s List with pictures of naked people gave teens highly sexual ideas. 

bubble-plastic-icon copyHer last point, teens finding Schindler’s List sexual was highly insulting.  I remember thinking any teenager who found scenes of emaciated, skeletal individuals in a concentration camp sexual needed sever psychiatric help.  This woman likely never saw the movie since it went against her religion.

My mom was up next.  She spoke her mind and used her allotted time wisely.  Each point she made was met with a combination of cheers, boos, and hisses.  What struck me were the derogatory and argumentative comments being yelled by the religious group.  They were so filled with hate, I was surprised that a religious group would do something so negative.  Weren’t they supposed to respect others?

After that, a long line of volunteers from the crowed lined up down the middle isle to give their opinions.  We heard from other religious parents, other parents, teachers, one former student, etc.

It was the former student that motivated me to stand in line.  She stood behind the podium to give her opinion.  In the middle of her speech, the religious organization began with their comments.  

They called her slut, taunted her, and laughed at her.  This religious group verbally bullied this poor girl.

These comments were so filled with hate and venom that the former student started crying to the point she couldn’t finish her speech.  I saw her walk swiftly out of the room.

At that point, I took a good look at the line and wondered where the current students were.  I saw some in the audience watching everything.  Yet, no one intended to go up to speak.  

I walked to the end of the line and waited my turn.  After all, I was no stranger to bullies and had since developed a touch skin to combat their stupidity.  That’s what bullies are, stupid people who hate themselves and need to control others to feel better.  

It’s great that a former student attempted to speak in favor for educational R movies.  The board members might pay more attention to a current student’s perspective.  It was an aspect of my education they were arguing and the affected students should be the ones to speak.

There’s a reason people don’t like the speak in public.  All those “What if’s” running around your head and fear of audience criticism.  This venue was the epitome of hostile.  It took a lot for me to stay in line.  Of course I was scared, yet the most important thing was I stuck to my goal.

When it was my turn, I walked to the podium, placed my shaky hands on the sides so no one saw my nervousness, and cleared my mind.  For my allotted time, I became an impenetrable shield to negative comments.  I heard them, yet they had no affect on my emotional state.  Some comments I even answer in my speech.

I spoke of my History class and watching Glory.  How the movie was beneficial because the role of African Americans in the Civil War was only covered by a small paragraph in the book.  

A man sitting in the front shouted at me, “You have no clue what is in that paragraph!  You didn’t even read it because you were watching a stupid movie!”

I replied to his comment, “I did read the paragraph.”

It didn’t adequately describe the condition the African American’s lived in nor the extent of their almost nonexistent supplies.  Furthermore, it didn’t take into account what they had to endure, and their tremendous bravery.  Glory, while Hollywood dramatized, illustrated the points better than a small paragraph.

When I was done, I walked to the back of the room where my mother stood with my head high.  People were watching me, some with glares and some with smiles.  It sucks to put on false bravado for the audience when you’re freaking out on the inside. 

After everyone looked back to the front of the room, I breathed a sigh of relief and my body shook.  That was the most gutsy thing I had ever done in my young life.

During the conclusion of the meeting, a reporter came up to me.  (I didn’t know she was a reporter at the time.)  She asked me a question regarding my speech and my name.

The next day, my grandmother called me excited.  I ended up in the newspaper.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time I had to fight for my right to be educated the way I and my mom deemed appropriate. 

When I was sixteen, they tried to have a book and the accompanying class banned.  It was during the summer again and it just so happened that I was signed up to take that class my Junior year.

We knew about the upcoming board meeting a few weeks before.  Mom requested to see the book up for discussion, she spoke with the teachers who taught the class.  Then she made up fliers for me to pass out at school.  

As the future mother of a child with a Masters in Lit degree (even if she had no clue I would eventually have one), she took book banning very seriously.  She correctly thought the public had a right to know what a religious group was doing at a Public High School.

So we found ourselves in the same cafeteria with the same seating.  (We did have seats in the back this time).  

A member of the religious group was first to speak.  (Didn’t want to offend their religious freedom by making them speak second or anything).  They spewed the same tripe concerning the book and class giving teens negative ideas. 

They needed to come up with new material instead of rehashing the same grievances they had for R movies.  This is what happens when you read one book continuously for your entire life:  Lack of imagination for plausible arguments.

Mom spoke second with the same group doing the same boos, hisses, and nasty comments.  There was another long line for volunteers to give their opinions.  The whole thing was shaping up to be a strange deja vu moment.

However, this time there wasn’t a former student brought to tears by harsh comments.  The harsh comments were still there, yet most people attending were old hats at the antics of this particular religious group.  I imagine those not made of sterner stuff stayed seated.

Regardless of championing someone’s hurt feelings, I decided to wait in line again.  This time, banning books didn’t sit well with me.  Besides, I deserved a class that gave me a much needed reprieve from the humdrum seriousness of Hemingway and Steinbeck.  (Really?!  Two straight years of Steinbeck’s The Pearl?  I’m surprised I grew up to love reading the way I do).

When it was my turn at the podium, I stated that the class was a great idea for students who don’t like to read or found the staunch reading material arduous.  

“There’s only so much a student can take of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl.”  My statement produced a few laughs even though I was dead serious.

The class offered students a chance to get to know another genera and a different list of authors while teaching much different works from authors we were academically familiar.

DSCN0493The book contained Macbeth by Shakespeare, Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe, works by Ray Bradbury, etc.  

Apparently, religious crazies consider Ray Bradbury an evil satanist along with H. P. Lovecraft.  At least Lovecraft didn’t invent a “new religion” that turned into a freaky present day cult.  (Hello, L. Ron Hubbard)!

While I was speaking, I received the same scathing remarks as last time I spoke at the podium.  

This time I made it a point to say teenagers weren’t idiots.  If their children took those books as reality than their parenting skills were woefully inadequate or their children were mentally unstable.  

Perhaps, that’s the line that had religious parents giving threatening “you’re going to burn in hell” notes to their kids to deliver to me.  What parent does that?!  The answer: religiously, unimaginative, and fanatical parents that hate to lose.

If religious fanatics behave that way towards a teen speaking her mind, it’s easy for me to imagine that they would be one hundred times worse at Women’s Clinics.  

I have a friend that’s a pastor and is serious about her faith.  She’s one in a million because she’s also open minded.  We had discussions about the major topics I consider friendship killers.  When we spoke of protestors yelling at female patients walking into abortion clinics, she said something that really stuck with me.  

She said, “Those women don’t need to be yelled at.  They need a hug instead.”

It wasn’t judgmental, it was very supportive.  I’m ashamed to say that while I’m severely annoyed at those religious nut jobs, I’m more annoyed at myself for not thinking of the patients and how they likely need a hug from an understanding individual. 

Further Interesting Stuff

 

***Edit: Checked embedded links and added Jamie DeWolf YouTube video.

Zombie Jesus’s Christmas Glory

I’m sorry this particular post is so late.  There were a few artistic difficulties.  Instead of making the same Christmas Grinch post, I was going to couple it with another Zombie Jesus concoction.

zombie_santaEveryone loves Zombie Jesus especially Megyn Kelly from The Fox New Channel who insists that Jesus was white.  Hypothetically, if Jesus was real, he would have been Jewish living in the Mediterranean.  Hence, he would have been a nice tan color not European white.

It stands to reason that Megyn Kelly was talking about Zombie Jesus.  Surely, Zombie Jesus is white…or whitish…since his skin cells are dead.

While attempting to write the Zombie Jesus post, I surmised that “faithful” Christians, Catholics, Evangelicals, and Tea Partiers couldn’t possibly follow the teachings of hypothetical Jesus since he was a stickler for curing the sick (universal healthcare), feeding the poor (no moping school floors required), and disliked capitalism.

Despising greedy bastards was hypothetical Jesus’s modus operandi since they believed that poor people who couldn’t afford healthcare and food should die.  Which happens to coincide with beliefs of most zealot Christians, Catholics, Evangelicals, all Tea Partiers, nasty people with bad attitudes, and capitalists.

Hence, all those lovely people worship anti-Jesus (a.k.a., Zombie Jesus).  They still worship the same God since he’s a sadistic jerk.

I attempted to come up with cleverly sarcastic phrases about Zombie Jesus whispering encouraging words to capitalists who’s wallets are too big for their britches.  Greed seems to make the brain taste like the finest filet mignon from the best five star restaurant.

Then I went on to say how the aforementioned Zombie Jesus worshipers had no brains making them the worst Zombie Jesus dish, but they make perfect followers.

Somehow I would tie in the greed of children carelessly ripping open meticulously wrapped gifts and make another sarcastic joke.  By the way, the brains of greedy children taste like veal.

For some reason, the unreality of Christmas cheer and hypocritical religious people couldn’t sum up my usual pithy phrases of sarcastic disgust.

My comedic talents are nowhere near the genius of Jon Stewart.  When I watched and read the news reports regarding Black Friday mob riots, I was horrified.  I’m still horrified.  There’s no possible way I can comically iterate the stupidity of people fighting others for useless things marked down to their regular price.  (Does anyone else feel that regularly priced items are ridiculously overpriced?)  The whole ordeal defies my imagination.  Thank the Creator for people like Jon Stewart who’s able to display his disbelief in a funnier way.

Near the beginning of the year, there was a meme going around Facebook that stated A civilized society has no need of guns.  I am a civilized person who, unfortunately, lives in an uncivilized society.

When people get into fist fights over towels, it’s hard not giving up on society.  I hope we have another Era of Enlightenment where most zealously religious people leave their beliefs in the dumpster and embrace reason.  At least put their beliefs in a different perspective, find the compassion of hypothetical Jesus, and embrace reason.

Here’s to a better 2014.

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Part II- The Violent Crime People Ignore: Rape

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The use of ignore in my last post might be wrong.  Most Americans misunderstand rape.

This summer I was assisting with high school registration.  My job was to make appointments with the parents of incoming Freshmen.  Some calls were over quickly, and other calls were very conversational.

I had no problems with letting parents talk, most conversations were very enjoyable.  There were a lot of subjects I had in common with the parents.

One parent, who recently switched to the night shift at her job, talked about the hard times she’d fallen upon, but she didn’t bemoan her situation.  Instead, she remembers how lucky she was and there were people who were less fortunate than her.  That’s the same mentality I have.  I might be a lowly high school substitute still living with her parent yet there are people in the world who are in worse situations.

Then there was another parent.  I asked her if she would like me to give her a summary of the school dress code.  She told me that she was used to strict dress codes since her son’s middle school had one too.

The parent went on to talk about the kids she saw waiting for the bus when she went into work.  She spoke of the types of clothes that the girls wore.  I agreed with her that some of the clothing choices were unfortunate.  Yet I think the students are unfortunate because the girls think dressing scantily, or in sheer clothing showcasing their animal print bras, gives them the attention they lack at home.  Some think it’s normal to dress in tight, minimalistic clothes everyday because their mothers, sisters, and aunts dress similarly.

This parent didn’t share the same perspective.  To use her exact quote, she said, It’s almost like these girls are asking for it.

She repeated a phrase that is overused and egregiously misused.

Maybe she sensed her comment went too far when I was completely silent.  She quickly finished her business and we hung up.  For my part, I was flabbergasted.  I viewed the teenage girls’ fashion ensemble as a reflection of their home life.  Never would I see it as asking for violent physical and emotional harm.  The girls don’t get up in the morning, dress in their scant clothes, admire their mirrored reflection thinking that it was the perfect rape outfit.

The American – mostly global – misunderstanding of rape centers around the victim not the rapist.  Most people think that women dress in a fashion that would gain less attention.  Rape isn’t about what a person looks like.

As Tara Culp-Ressler states in her article:

The idea that [Rape is] about sexual desire. In fact, rape doesn’t happen because men are wildly attracted to beautiful women, even though that’s been society’s longstanding approach to female sexuality. Rape is about power and entitlement. That’s why teaching women to cover up isn’t actually an effective rape prevention strategy.

If rape involved the way a person dressed, then what about the rape of young boys?  Should young boys stress a certain way, wear chastity underwear, and make sure they don’t draw attention?

Another rape article caught my attention today.  This one involved a 16 year old girl who was viciously beat up, held to the ground, and raped.  After I read Culp-Ressler’s article, I could see how this teen nightmare was about power and not how the girl looked.

Police say Montes asked the girl to Woolfork’s home, where they listened to music and watched TV until Woolfork, Singleton, Henry and Avery joined them from another part of the home and demanded that the girl have sex with “Jay” or face a beating.

When she refused, they punched her, kicked her and dragged her by the hair into the backyard, where they pushed her down stairs and smashed her head on the concrete.

When they dragged her back inside, Henry allegedly blocked the front door and said: “If you leave, I am going to f— you up!” She was next dragged into a bedroom, where the teens stripped off her clothes and held her down while Woolfork raped her.

The report says that after the assault, the girl was allowed to leave — minus her shoes — and she made her way to her grandmother’s nearby home.

A group of classmates told the 16 year old to have sex with Jay or face a beating.  They didn’t say, have sex with Jay because he digs you.  These students were out to prove they could force the 16 year old to do anything they wanted.  If she didn’t comply with their demands, they would force her to submit to their power.  What could she do against them?  She was one girl against five or six classmates.

In this case, rape was just another malicious form of bullying.  Bullying is about power too.  Kids who are abused at home bully weaker children at school to make them feel better.  The bully is under the control of their parents while the weaker classmate is under the control of the bully.

Changing the popular global understanding of rape is a step in the right direction.  When people understand it’s the fault of the rapist and not the victim then we can better protect the victims.

Culp-Ressler notes:

There are very real ways to tackle rape culture. Sexual assault prevention advocates believe that it starts with comprehensive sex education, to help educate kids about how to recognize when someone is violating their consent. And when kids age, the education campaigns should continue. College activists are attempting to implement more bystander intervention programs to teach students how to get involved when they see something that might turn into a sexual assault. Strong criminal justice policies that make it easier for victims to report crimes, and that actually hold the perpetrators accountable for those crimes, are another important area ripe for policy change.

The Violent Crime People Ignore: Rape

I’m a passionate anti-bullying advocate.  Fellow Americans who think bullying is fine, or it isn’t a problem in our schools, are turning a blind eye to the harsh realities.  In a civilized society, Americans would take far better care for the future generation whether they were a parent or not.  They would willingly spend money to give our children every chance at a better future beginning with the wellbeing of our students in public educational institutions.  School should be a safe, healthy place.  It should never be understaffed or look like this.

Children should not be faced with the harsh realities of life, they should be made aware.  Most children aren’t lucky enough to view life from a distance.  Some are surrounded by it in their homes.  A few are aware their world is wrong and attempt to make others feel their pain through bullying children who are weaker.  The rest remain unaware, and think that’s the way the world is.  They bring the wrongness of the world to the sanctuary that should be school or to the homes of their unsuspecting peers.

Worse, adults physically teach children how harsh the world can be through violent abuse.

Smilie-silence-iconFor centuries, women tried to stamp out rape with little progress.  Rape is still prevalent in our society and unfortunately, schools.

When I read about rape, I’m horrified that someone could do something so fundamentally wrong to another person.  I continue to read these articles, and there’s more I don’t understand.  Why do communities feel the need to cover up the crime, shame the victim, and celebrate the perpetrator instead of being enraged?

There are two articles that come to mind as I write this post.  The most recent involves a girl in Missouri.

At the time of the rape she was 14 years old.  She snuck out of the house with her 13 year old friend and they were picked up by a 17 year old football star who was the son of a prominent family.

He took the young girls back to his house where he plied them with alcohol until they were inebriated.  They were obviously unable to give consent (not that they could even if they weren’t intoxicated since they were juveniles) yet the boy and his friend of the same age sexually assaulted the girls.

The boys left the 14 year old, Daisy Coleman, for dead out in the cold in front of her house.  That’s how her mother found her.

twitter-shop-iconWhile the Coleman’s went to the hospital and pressed charges, the case was dropped.  In the time between Daisy being left in the cold and the case being wrongfully dropped, Daisy was maliciously shamed through social media.  Her peers, community, and strangers were so vile that the Coleman’s moved away.

What makes Daisy and her mother so extraordinary is they are willing to fight for justice.  Daisy is willing to live through more ridicule and cyberbullying.  Perhaps more heroic than facing a society gone wrong is the bullying by media gone wrong (Fox News).

As I read Daisy’s story, I couldn’t help but wonder how people could be so vicious, vile, unrepentantly evil to someone who needed justice.  Why did they defend her rapist(s)?

Who cares about his background?  I know from experience that the popular kids in school are not angelic, that they’re often masking their evil personalities.  I know that teens coming from a prominent family, or a family that seems perfect, doesn’t mean that they’re perfect specimens of teenage personhood.

Daisy’s story is the same throughout America.  The only things that change are age, gender, and institute.

Jerry Sandusky was a football coach at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State).  Sandusky wasn’t just a celebrated football coach, he had an affinity for young boys.

American-Football-iconThe story gets worse, Sandusky was allowed to rape several boys over the expanse of roughly ten years (maybe more).  The University at least knew about some of his victims, but proceeded to burry the accusations.  He was such a good coach and a valuable asset to the University.  Who cares if he touched a few boys the wrong way?

It took years and Sandusky’s victims are finally receiving justice.  Sandusky is behind bars, high ranking Penn State officials took early retirement or fired, the school’s sports team was historically reprimanded, and the victims will receive reparations from the University.

While there seems to be a happy ending to Sandusky’s victims and Daisy’s receiving support on the state level for her case to be reopened, everything seems like cold comfort.  The rape that happened years before should have been stopped, or at least prosecuted in the year that the crime occurred.  Daisy and Sandusky’s victims coming forward to garner support outside their respected communities is wrong.  I’m happy most Americans back the victims yet I’m ultimately saddened that the victims’ communities supported the rapists.

I will never understand the mentality of people who support rapists.  It’s hard to get into the mind of someone who says they’re religious, yet supports a priest who rapes and alter boy.  How can a person shield a prized sports player or coach from rape accusations they want their beloved team to be the best?  It all seems so shallow and apathetic.

Helpful Links for Victims

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