By Way of Introduction

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him vote. They would have to modify the booth to accommodate his horse shape.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Empathy, Anger, Sorrow, Compassion and Love.

December 14, 2012:  Expounded upon in slipshod fashion.
Source

I, like millions of other parents out there this weekend, am at a loss. In a pleasant little town in Connecticut there are twenty homes that three days three days ago were just like mine - filled with loving families and Christmas trees and carefully wrapped gifts under those trees. Homes bustling with the normal chatter of life, of the coming holidays, and of young children doing the things that young children do. Wondering where the Elf on the Shelf might be hiding today, what might be in the ginormous box that appeared under the tree last night with their beautiful little name written on the tag. The enormity of the loss that those families are enduring right now cannot be imagined by anyone who has not personally experienced it. Of that I have no doubt. But if the paralyzing sadness invoked by the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School is any indication, I don’t know how those people are managing.

How does one recover from such horror? How do you trudge on when your soul has been ripped from you so violently and senselessly? People talk about motive. That is a joke. There can be nothing that passes as a motive for slaughtering completely innocent children. I do not want to forget the teachers and faculty that died Friday either. Their stories carry the same weight and their lives were cut short in the same brutal fashion. They died trying to protect the children of others, and they should be honored and memorialized as such. And the last cowardly act of the deranged piece of shit murdering bastard fuck was to take his own life, so that not one of those parents or spouses of the victims will ever have any real answers, never get to confront the animal that stole so much from their loved ones and from them. So how do you go on? How do you deal with the fact that you will never ever get to hold your child’s hand again, never get to kiss them goodnight, never get to hear them laugh, never get to see them grow up? No prom, no teaching them how to drive or how to cook, no soccer games, no… anything. What just yesterday was a primary aspect, a defining feature, of your life is gone. The person that occupied the vast majority of your time and your attention? Gone. What do you do with those presents under the tree? How can you ever enjoy anything ever again? I start to cry every time I imagine it, and my imagination isn’t that good. The events of Friday will fade over time, the acuteness of the pain dulled by years, but the casualties of that day are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Those directly effected by these events? Their lives will never be the same. That town will never be the same.

All of these thoughts keep leading me back to outrage at the shooter, followed shortly by thoughts of vengeance and retribution. I know it isn’t politically correct, but I really don’t care. Those weren’t even my children, but as a parent... We spend so much of our time nurturing our offspring, getting up at all hours to comfort them, reading them book after book, walking around and around the house half bent over, holding little itty bitty hands, delighting in every achievement, no matter how minor it is. “She almost fell over, but then she caught her balance!” or “She said ‘squirrel!’ I mean, it sounded like ‘skerl’ but she definitely said it.” We watch them play and think about how fast they seem to be growing up. And then they look over their shoulder and see us watching, and they smile the kind of real and pure smile that only a child can smile, and they feel safe and secure, because they know we’re there for them and we’re going to protect them and keep them from harm.

And then we can’t. Because harm is everywhere, and a life locked in your house is not really a life. But when something happens to your baby, you always end up second-guessing everything you did that led to the harm. Some tool I attended high school with posted some asinine comment that suggested the Sandy Hook teachers were somehow culpable because they weren’t toting firearms. I un-friended him. Blame the teachers. Blame the principal. Blame the gun laws. It is no one’s fault but the filth that shot those people. I will not name him. He should be anonymous, and should forever remain so. I saw a quote from Morgan Freeman that basically says as much. My own father has preached the same thing for years for those who would murder someone else to gain any kind of notoriety. No assassin shall ever have his or her name recorded or reported. They will be cremated and their ashes scattered to the four winds, or stirred into concrete for sewage tunnels. It is the victims and their families whose names should be remembered.

Those people need all of our empathy, all of our compassion, and all of our love. They don’t need us soap-boxing and using their pain and suffering for political purposes, and they don’t need someone labeling the asshole that carried out this attack “evil” or “insane.” Those are cheap and easy outs, and I’m not feeling any charity or compassion for that guy. I noticed that some in the religious quadrant have taken this opportunity to make snarky comments regarding how these things happen due to the lack of prayer in schools, as if their version of God would somehow be limited by man’s laws. As if He/She/It would turn his back on innocent children because of a beef with legislators. That’s real spiritual and healing. Nice work. I’m not what you might call a “believer.” I do not believe in the mythical Greek, Roman, or Norse gods. Nor do I believe in the Hebrew god or the Christian god (sorry Mom and Dad) or the Muslim god. However, in much the same way that I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I do believe in the spirit of this season of giving, what I do believe in is humanity, and in its incredible capacity for love and healing.

May we all strive to be a little bit better, shine a little bit brighter, love with a little more abandon, and hug our loved ones a little bit tighter – for all those who cannot.

In Memoriam:

Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6
ADULTS
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Rachel Davino, 29

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bachmann Takes One for the Team

In order to help take attention from the fact that Mitt Romney's campaign is in a self-induced tailspin, Representative Michele Bachmann has graciously agreed to launch unsubstantiated attacks against Muslim-Americans.  When questioned about the move, Bachmann replied, "Well, that clown (Romney) won't release his tax returns, he's lied from the get-go about his years at Bain, and unfortunately the Batman thing isn't distracting folks as much as we'd hoped.  Sheriff Joe and I decided that we'd double team the thing.  You know, pull some of the press off the trail until something else pops up.  We're kind of hoping for a massive hurricane, or maybe a volcanic eruption near a major city.  Earthquakes might work, too.  Don't quote me on that.  Oh, go ahead.  I've said crazier things! (laughs)"

"AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!"           "AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!"
Though widely panned, even by leaders in her own party, Ms. Bachmann is sticking to the plan.  "What a true-blue American hero.  She's a real Ollie North," gushed Glenn Hubbard, one of Romney's top advisers, following a recent campaign fundraiser in Hong Kong.  When pressed about the possible anti-Muslim backlash that could result from such irresponsible accusations, Hubbard was unapologetic: "If it helps  get Obama out of the White House, then who gives a shit?  I realize that comes off as harsh, but hey... them's the berries."

In related news, the Muppets are turning our kids into communists, and Sesame Street is a haven for liberal political insurrection.  The most shocking part of this news is that anyone is still worried about communists.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Newsflash: President Thinks All Americans Should Have Rights

We've all heard the phrase "I don't have any skin in the game," and I'm tempted to use it here, in reference to President Obama's revelation that he believes gay folks should be allowed to marry here in the Land of the Free.  However, my recent decision to run for my local district's seat in the Michigan House makes it a bit tougher to do.  People expect their elected officials to have opinions on everything, regardless of the bearing on local issues.  Upon closer scrutiny, I have come to the conclusion that we all have some skin in this one, but not for the reasons that some might think.

I like you too Old Ironsides, but you are not relevant to this post.
Allow me to elaborate.  I am a fan of the U.S. Constitution, and I'm not referring to Old Ironsides. That would require another "S."  I will address gay marriage first as a matter of law, since that is the tack most states are taking in attempting to modify their own individual constitutions to ban the practice.  We all know that State Constitutions are subordinate to THE Constitution.  We also all know that our founding document guarantees equal rights for all, even if it did take some amending to get there (women, black folks).  So, what on Earth makes anyone think they can deny another group the same rights they enjoy?  Apparently, it's the Bible.  I'd like at this point to refer the reader to the infamous "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment.  Rick Santorum, you may feel free to vomit now.  Bags for such have been provided for those of weaker constitutions.*  No offense, but a religious basis for creating laws, especially exclusionary ones, is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Now, as far as I'm concerned that should be the end of the discussion.  You are free to have your own opinions on whether things are right, moral, etc., but you are not allowed to deny someone else their rights because of your religious beliefs or tomes.  Simple.  Some of the same people who would march on Washington, rifles in hand, should anyone suggest altering the Second Amendment to exclude, say assault rifles, will stand there with a perfectly straight face and sense of moral superiority and in cavalier fashion talk about trampling the First Amendment - because they disagree with what it guarantees ALL Americans.

We all know we can't have this discussion without addressing the Bible specifically, even though that should NOT BE THE CASE.  So I will address it.  Christianity is the religion based on the teachings of Christ.  The teachings of Christ are contained exclusively in the New Testament.  We've adopted the Old Testament as a  preamble of sorts to the New, but Jesus wasn't alive for any of that.  Jesus didn't hate anyone, he didn't exclude anyone from His salvation, and he was not judge and jury for anyone.  He preferred to leave those things between God the Father and the person in question.  Nowhere does He personally address homosexuality, nor does He ever condemn anyone for anything.

Religious talking heads will scrape about for any sign that Jesus condemned homosexuality, but the proof just isn't there.  Jesus didn't endorse the law of Moses, He just said that if someone wasn't religious, or didn't believe the law of Moses, how would they believe Him, as He was speaking from the standpoint of the religious-minded.  For such an important topic, one would think the Son of God might make specific mention of it.  Of course, we as mere mortals cannot truly know what the divine mind thinks, but all evidence suggests that He was not the type to single out a group for derision or exclusion, and it's getting a little old listening to people who want to put such words into His mouth and thoughts into His mind.  As if you could possibly fathom the motives of God.  "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" is one of my favorite sayings of His.  He also excoriated us to follow His example - to love our neighbors and treat them as we would like to be treated.  End of discussion. Seriously.  Now get on with making your own life reflect that of Christ's as He asked you to do.  That is the commitment you make when you call yourself Christian.

If none of this has convinced you that you have no business in other people's business, then you are not the type that changes their mind based on valid argument, but that is not going to stop me from taking one last stab at it.  If marriage is an institution of religion, and you think the church should have a say in matters of the state (outlawing gay marriage) then what gives you the right to tell churches they cannot marry gays?  Sounds to me like you're okay with infringing not just on the rights of a whole class of Americans, but also on the churches that do accept and welcome them.  Something's rotten in Denmark, I say.

On the side of the Constitution yet?  One last try:  Suppose a whole mosque-load of Americans got together and voted to institute Sharia Law in their state.  Since the people voted "yes" would it be okay, even though to do so would directly contradict the principles of equal rights, not to mention the establishment of religion clause of ...here it is again, the Constitution?  Methinks an ugly double standard would rear it's head here because of the insertion of a non-Christian religion's beliefs into the equation.  Take a long, hard look in the mirror, and ask yourselves, WWJD (What would Jefferson do?)™
*pun fully intended.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tolerance

I was going to try and post something funny, but funny isn't what's on my mind lately. It seems to me that things are awry in the world, and some things need pointed out. So I'm going on a rant. And don't forget to follow the links, in orange, or you're missing the full HD-Extreme experience of these blog posts.

"Showoff." they tittered to each other.

First of all, there is the Occupy Movement, which really needs a new moniker - perhaps one that doesn't sound like a Legendary Stool. The Tea Party didn't do much better, hi-jacking a name from history that now sounds more like an obscene colloquialism, whose wiki page I won't be linking to, due to the fact that my parents may read this.

The actual Boston Tea Party, of course, was primarily a protest against taxation without representation. The colonists felt that they should be helping elect the people passing taxes on them, and since they had no seat in Parliament... well, you can go read up on it if you'd like. But that's the gist.

Now, since most of our politicians are being bought in one way or another, and the people (and Corporation People) with the most money get to influence the laws being passed, both by funding election campaigns and by lobbying, then it seems to me that the people being under-represented in this country are the poor and the middle class. And I mean the real middle class, not the middle class that eats out (at a real restaurant) every night and has a three car garage.

Yes, it appears as though a three car garage boosts your status considerably from the two car. It's not as big a jump from a one to a two, but when you get to three, by God, you've finally made it. Unless your three car garage looks like this:

The slums just aren't what they used to be.

At any rate, if you have one of the aforementioned nice three car garages, then you are not being under-represented in your governance. You are the governance.

On a new, if titular note, I'm tired of hearing the word "tolerance" as it relates to Religious Tolerance, Racial Tolerance, etc. It just seems presumptuous. Like, the best we can do as Americans is to tolerate each other. I understand the message, and it's better than intolerance, but what about acceptance? Why do we even need the delineation? I am not defined by my color, by my appearance, my religious views, or my politics, or even by all those things put together. I'm talking about nuance. We are all capable of sameness, but we are not the same.

On that note, the other day I was talking to my Dad, who I disagree with politically on some fundamental levels, and I told him that I would love to have him as my speech writer, should I ever decide to run for office. It was too bad, I said, that he and I weren't more on the same page. He replied that I would be surprised to find out how many things we did agree on. So, why can't we focus on the things we have in common? Or claim to have in common, as a Nation?

Abortion. Yep, I'm hitting this topic tonight as well. I'm not going to get into what my views on the subject are, but I am going to address practicality. This is a two-pronged argument, so bear with me.

Prong 1) No one believes that people want to get abortions, or even that they should get abortions, just that the option should be available in case that is what a woman decides she wants. What a horrible spot to be put in. It's a shame we put our fairer sex in the position to have to make that kind of call so often. But I digress.

Prong 2) There are a lot of folks in the anti-abortion camp that also feel as though contraception is wrong. Some believe this because of their religious affiliation. Some think that encouraging the use of contraception is tantamount to endorsing promiscuity. In either case, The birth control pill has to be a better alternative than the "morning after" pill.

I submit to you that people are going to have sex. I could offer evidence to back that up (pun noticed), but I don't think you need any convincing. So, if we all agree that it's going to happen - not that we necessarily want it to, or encourage it, but that it is GOING TO HAPPEN - and we all agree that an unwanted pregnancy is the worst possible outcome, then why can't we agree to supply the proper sexual education and FREE CONTRACEPTION to everyone?

It would be a hell of a lot less expensive than the alternatives, and before you get all prudish on me...  you don't have to use it, and you may have your children excluded from the classes, should you be one of those types.

Is that her "grindin' axe?"
But you can't say it's all or nothing. Every day you say that, more abortions occur that could have been avoided. No, it's not the change to Roe v. Wade that you want, but if your goal is truly to stop abortions, then be practical. You take the wins where you can get them. Truth is, the more the number of abortions declines, the more likely you are to get that decision overturned. Think about it.

Back to tolerance. I don't imagine that some people consider themselves the ones that need to be tolerated. These people are often the same ones doing all the Tolerating. I have to tolerate bad drivers, ignorance, idiocy, stinky people, dirty people, stinky-dirty people, rudeness, my neighbors' busted up fence, butt-inskis, busybodies, nosy Nellies, the local evangelicals, the national evangelicals, and work. "So what?" you say. Exactly.

Mind your own damn business. If someone isn't infringing on someone else's rights, leave them the hell alone. Don't you have anything better to do? We're in the middle of a recession and the only laws I hear being proposed that have any legs involve infringing upon some other group of peoples' rights. Like the judge in Cali said, you don't get to vote on that. It's embarrassing.

Here's my problem with the evangelical Jesus Jones Fan Club: Did you really think I may not have heard of Jesus Jones? And if I want my children to know about Jesus Jones, I will tell them about Jesus Jones. How dare you hand my kids literature at a fair, on the playground, or any damned where else. I don't know you, and I have NOT given you my consent to approach my child with your... anything; literature, beliefs, ignorance, arrogance, or otherwise. That's the kind of thing that you don't do. That's the kind of thing that riles a man up.

You stay away from my kids.
I can't begin to imagine how incensed you would be if someone went around handing your kids (or even kids that weren't yours) the Quran. Holy Moses, but there would be laws on the books against such things so quick it'd make your head spin.