Minefield

 

I’ve been more than a little hesitant to broach this subject, but I feel compelled to say something about it; given all the attention it’s gotten lately, it just feels wrong to stay silent. So, here goes.

Abortion. There, I said it. Of all the hot-button topics there are, this one may be historically the hottest.

And it’s front and center these days, with states from Michigan to Texas and Alaska to Alabama crafting new legislation to abolish it, feeling emboldened by the conservative Supreme Court to challenge the landmark Roe v Wade decision from 1973, which protected a woman’s right to privacy in regards to abortion.

Just check out the anti-abortion measures being considered in several states or, in the case of Alabama, already signed into law. By a female governor. (!!) Punishment not only for the woman who has the procedure, but for the doctor who performs it. Severe punishment.

(By the way, where’s the punishment for the guy who impregnated her to begin with? It does take two, you know.)

 

Let me be clear: I’m not here to debate the morality of abortion, itself. Whether I believe it’s right or wrong is irrelevant. I’m taking issue with the choice to have it done being taken from the woman. That just makes no sense to me. It’s her decision, nobody else’s. Certainly not the state’s.

And it’s incredibly naive for anyone to believe that making abortion illegal is gonna put a stop to it.

Anyway, that’s as much as I’ll say about it. If a woman is facing the decision of whether or not to abort, let’s offer her education, counseling, spiritual guidance, whatever, but leave the final decision to her. Don’t legislate it.

I know some of you will agree with me and some of you won’t, but I’m gonna say what I feel. You’re welcome to do the same. Thanks for your time.

 

Break Time

 

I like to think of myself as, at least, a semi-informed chap, a guy who has some idea, anyway, of the goings on of the world. As such, I try to stay on top of the news of the day.

But I may have to rethink that.

I truly believe, if I try to keep up with the news these days, it may drive me to a nervous breakdown, or worse. The anger it stirs in me might blow out a blood vessel, I don’t know.

Because it is so overwhelmingly depressing. So bleak. So hopeless. It leaves me with a dim view of the present, and an even darker one of the future. And feeling helpless to do a damn thing about it.

And the sheer weight of it all becomes almost too much.

Am I the only one who feels like this?

 

Part of this, I understand, is due to the media’s propensity for focusing on the bad news. But, we’re to blame for that; bad news consistently pulls in good ratings, which are what the news business is all about. Like the philosopher Don Henley once said, we love dirty laundry.

I guess, if I had some other belief system, perhaps it wouldn’t get to me like it does. But I believe what I believe, although even that’s shaky these days. Maybe I’ve been wrong all this time. Don’t think so, but I’m not quite as sure as I once was. I don’t know…

I just know that, for the sake of my sanity, I don’t wanna know. My head just needs to be in the sand for awhile, good or bad.

But, if someone drops a bomb on us, can someone please give me a heads-up? Thanks.

 

The Straight Poop (or, Excrementally Yours)

 

NOTE: To you-know-who, don’t let Jason ever read this.

 

So, as many of you know, I drive a shuttle bus in a part of town, all day, five days a week. Actually, I drive from one town to another and back, which is funny when you consider I just drive one mile each direction.

Anyway, both these towns are home to some very well-to-do people.

Which, as occurred to me today, explains the prevalence of pickup trucks rolling through the neighborhood, advertising pet poop pickup service.

I wouldn’t lie about something like this, although “pet poop pickup” is kinda fun to say, I must admit.

I mean, obviously, these well-off folks would never stoop (literally) to doing such a vulgar, disgusting chore so, thank God, there is someone available to do it for them.

Naturally, this raises a few questions:

  • First of all, where were these guys on Career Day in school? They could have seriously altered the trajectory of my life.
  • Who was the first person to say, “Hey, I can get paid for picking up this stuff!”
  • Likewise, who was the first person to say, “Hey, I can pay someone to pick up this stuff!”
  • What kind of experience lends itself to this kind of career? (I’m thinking, ex-Trump staff member, perhaps.)
  • What must the training process be like for this work?
  • Do you get to wear a suit, like those HAZMAT guys wear?
  • What opportunity for advancement is there? Can you get promoted, maybe to Master Scooper? Expert Scooper? Super Duper Scooper?
  • Would you even feel like taking a lunch break? Ever?
  • And why have I seen ads for more than one company? Is there seriously competition for this job?
  • What does it sound like when these guys “talk shop?” Example:

MOE: How’s business?

CURLY: Oh, it’s picking up, how about you?

MOE: Oh, I’m cleaning up, man!

  • Do the dogs get to know you well enough to plan for your visits?
  • Have I really written over 300 words on this topic?

 

I obviously have way too much time to think.

 

The Siren’s Song

 

Note: I’m telling this story from a heterosexual viewpoint, because I am one, but I feel pretty certain it’s basically the same, regardless of your sexual preference.

 

This one is tough to write. It makes me uncomfortable, but I’m hoping it leads to a bigger conversation I think is worth having.

When you’re a guy, the pull of pornography is a strong one.

It starts even before puberty, the looking at “nasty pictures” of naked girls. It’s not about stimulation then, it’s about just being naughty. It’s in our teenage years that the motivation behind looking at them changes.

Now they’re stimulating. Now they’re exciting. And they’re naughty.

Those pictures, along with our now hormone-fueled brains, inform the way we look at every nubile female in our line of sight. What were once germ-infested, alien life forms suddenly become objects of overwhelming, insatiable lust.

And we tend to look at them that way for the rest of our lives.

As if that’s not bad enough, porn is the gasoline we sometimes like to throw on that fire.

And, I believe, is what has gotten us to where we are in our attitude about women, which has produced this whole culture of sexual assault.

 

Because the appeal of porn for guys, of course, is the vicarious thrill of having any woman, anytime, anywhere, for any sexual encounter. And since society largely finds porn to be, at the very least, distasteful, there is the additional appeal of engaging in something forbidden, taboo. We all like to be bad sometimes, don’t we?

Well, is it any stretch to think that if some guy watched enough of that, it would carry over into how he viewed women in real life? How he treated them? How he regarded them sexually? No doubt, he would feel justified in having any woman he damn well wanted.

Because, as far as he’s concerned, they all want it. Even the ones who say no.

And that’s what sexual assault is about. Not the actual sex. It’s about the feeling of power, of control.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying every guy who looks at porn wants to go out and rape a bunch of women. But, it’s not tough to see how one behavior can lead to another. In fact, there’s plenty of research to suggest that sexual objectification of women often leads to aggressive behavior toward them.

And yet, women who are sexually assaulted are seldom believed, often grilled and, in one instance, mocked by the President of the United States, of all people. Society seems to have this twisted idea that the woman must have asked for it, in her manner, in her wardrobe, something. Why is it so hard to believe she could be telling the truth?

Does our culture now view women to generally be horny, sex-crazed sluts who want it all the time, even when they say they don’t?

And what part has pornography played in shaping that view?

 

So, back to my original point:

As I said at the beginning, pornography has a strong attraction to guys, like the sirens of Greek mythology, whose seductive singing from the shoreline lured many a sailor to certain shipwreck on the rocks. There’s probably not a man alive – myself included – who hasn’t, at some point succumbed to its attraction. And no matter how much they tell themselves that it’s demeaning, and degrading, and disrespectful of the women in their lives, the sirens remain in their ears.

Not that men are totally helpless. Self-control does still exist. But when even some mainstream advertisements skate right on the edge of soft-core porn, and push their products using objectified images of women; when pornography is so much more accessible on cable TV and the Internet; when, besides topless and nude bars, we now have these chains of “breastaurants”, intentionally staffed with curvaceous women in deliberately revealing outfits…

It sure does make resistance tougher, you know?

Now, just as an aside, if porn is used by couples to help/enhance their sex life, as long as both partners are on the same page about it, that’s different. Where porn becomes harmful, as it does in many relationships, is when it’s a secret, when one partner is unaware of the other’s indulgence. Because, if and when the secret comes out, it makes for serious strife, damaging the relationship badly, perhaps irreparably.

I apologize; I got a bit long-winded. But, as I said at the outset, I think this is something we need to talk about if we’re going to bring change to our culture that is more respectful of women.

And, I feel pretty safe in saying, unfortunately, that’s gonna be a slow process. So, we need to get started right away.

 

It’s Been a Year

 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida.

It’s one of those places now that, just by mentioning its name, evokes vivid, horrifying images for us all.

One year ago today, that school lived its worst nightmare.

An eighteen-year-old former student showed up on campus with a semiautomatic rifle and shot seventeen people to death; fourteen of them, students.

Most of us can’t possibly imagine what that experience was like; to helplessly watch the surreal scene of a gunman randomly killing people, killing your friends. 

And you wait, paralyzed in utter shock and terror, for your turn.

Can you imagine?

And today, all the surviving students, teachers, families and members of the community who have lived with this horrific tragedy every day for the last year, will commemorate this anniversary by honoring the memory of those who were lost, and by renewing their commitment to putting an end to the senseless violence that forever changes the lives of all who are affected by it.

Which, incidentally, is all of us.

 

So then, let’s all honor the memory of those who died tragically a year ago. Let’s remind ourselves of how precious the people in our lives are, and how we need to let them know that every chance we get, because the time could come when we run out of chances.

I was listening to a man on the radio this morning recalling his experience that day. He was at a Starbucks just blocks away from the school when the shootings happened. He clearly remembers all the parents’ phones ringing at once. He remembers the horrified screams, the panic and chaos.

And he remembers one mother’s tearful regret over not telling her daughter goodbye that morning before she left for school.

Remind the people you love that you love them. Today.

 

And let’s also honor the memory of those who died by letting our lawmakers know very clearly that there is no longer any excuse for weak and inadequate gun control laws. This insanity has to stop, and they have the power to make it happen, if they can just stop kissing the arse of the National Rifle Association.

Let’s all speak out. The Stoneman students are; let’s support them. Let’s join them.

Today, we are all Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 

#MSDStrong

“WAP2”

 

As I’ve said before on this blog, I believe that it’s time that we men do a serious reassessment of how we look at, and talk about, and treat women.

Apparently, judging by their recent ad that generated so much controversy, Gillette feels the same way. I salute them for putting the message out there, that men can be better than they are in several ways, including their behavior towards women. I hope more companies follow suit.

Guys, you know we’ve always excused our treatment of women with a shrug, a smile and a Whaddya expect? We’re guys!

Well, if you’ve been paying attention the last couple of years, you’ve surely noticed that women are up to here with that. They’ve made it very clear the way it’s always been will no longer be tolerated. And they are taking a stand for the respect that is due them in both their professional and personal relationships.

So, I just want you to know, ladies: I’ve been listening, and I am trying to change my mindset, but it’s an almost 60-year-old mindset, and the process is slow.

Because, man, I see a lot of beautiful women where I work, and it’s easy to look at them just as bodies, and not as complete people, with actual lives. And not just at work either. At the mall, at the fast food restaurant, anywhere there are women, basically.

So, to help me, I’ve created this little acronym, WAP2, to remind me that Women Are People, Too. I haven’t fully absorbed this lesson yet, but maybe, at some point, I’ll get there. I’m about as far away from perfect as it gets, believe me, but I am trying to make some improvements here and there.

Like the Nobel laureate Bob Dylan once said, “The times, they are a-changin’.” For the better, in this case. Women are finding the courage to speak out against men’s disgraceful, demeaning treatment of them, and it’s been a long time coming.

Fellas, time for us to act like men, not boys. Men respect women. Remember, WAP2.

Tired

 

I’m tired, boss…mostly, I’m tired of people bein’ ugly to each other.

John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), “The Green Mile”, 1999

 

I’m tired, too, John.

By now, I’m flat wore out, as we say around here.

Lately, as you know, people are being ugly to each other in all kinds of ways, and I’m plenty tired of all of it, but especially…

I’m tired of people taking it upon themselves to go and shoot several other people, for any reason or for none at all.

You can’t go to church, you can’t go to the grocery store, you can’t go to a bar, you can’t go to school, you can’t f****ng go anywhere that there isn’t the possibility of getting shot to death.

The American flag may as well be flown at half mast from now on.

And the sadness of that is absolutely overwhelming.

This is how bad it’s gotten: One of the survivors from this week’s shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, was also in Las Vegas, Nevada a year ago, when that shooting occurred.

But another survivor of the Vegas shooting was killed this week in Thousand Oaks.

When people are present at more than one mass murder event…

The really cynical among us probably wonder what these gunmen have against country music, around which both these events centered.

The rest of us know it’s no laughing matter at all.

 

All these people. All these precious, beautiful, innocent people. Attending their classes. Worshipping their god. Enjoying a night out with friends.

Unaware.

Then, in the blink of an eye…

Utterly incomprehensible, unspeakable tragedy. My God, the tragedy.

I’m not gonna trot out all the gun violence statistics we probably could all recite by now. I’m not gonna bring up the gun owners and their Second Amendment rights. I’m not gonna rage against our government’s continued impotence over this crisis as the body count just keeps going up. I’m not gonna point out how the phrase “thoughts and prayers” is, by now, as empty and hollow as the barrel of a spent gun.

Because I’m tired.

I’m not numb to it, mind you. I haven’t quit caring about it; not at all.

I’m just…tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally tired.

First, the horror, then the sorrow, then the anger and frustration. Over and over and over. It wears you down, I tell you.

John Coffey, I’m right there with you, brother.

 

This Is It

 

Okay, friends and neighbors, today’s the day. Election Day!

As you may or may not have heard, this one is very important. It will determine, among other things, the makeup of our Congress, the body of government charged with making our nation’s laws.

You have a voice in who occupies those seats in Congress.

If you haven’t already voted, by golly, GO DO IT! The time for sitting out is over. America’s government has gotten to the shape it’s in, on both sides of the aisle, due in no small part to citizens’ lack of participation in the process.

And yes, I own my part in that.

Well, if donald trump has done anything good for America, he’s gotten a lot more people interested in voting, so thumbs up for that.

So please, take the time and go cast your vote today. And don’t let anyone intimidate you into not doing it. Don’t let anyone get in your way. You have the right to vote. The Constitution of the United States says so.

You have until 7:00 PM, local time. Let your voice be heard.

Then we’ll see what happens.

Split Decision

 

I see no way around this, folks.

I see no hope for reconciliation. I see no hope for compromise. I see no hope for even coexistence.

These past few years have revealed an ugly truth to me: the United States of America can no longer exist in its present form. No matter the outcome of this upcoming election, there’s no denying the fact that the fabric of this country has a very large tear, one that is beyond the point of sewing back up, I’m afraid.

Therefore, I think the time has come for a divorce.

America must split into two smaller nations: MAGA Nation and The Rest Of Us.

It’s perfect. MAGA Nation can then surround itself in a tall, fortified, secure wall, keeping it safe from all those it hates/fears, such as nonwhites, non-heteros, non-Evangelical Christians and non-Fox News “journalists”.

Everyone in MAGA Nation can keep his or her own arsenal of weapons, automatic and otherwise, as protected by the Second Amendment, the only one that matters.

Environmental protections will be completely irrelevant in MAGA Nation because, of course, there’s no global warming there.

The guys (not men) of MAGA Nation can just do whatever they want to the women, with absolutely no worry of any future consequences. Hell, they may even end up as Supreme Court justices.

donald trump, A.K.A God’s Annointed Man, can attain the Dictator for Life title he so openly covets from Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. There’ll be no need for elections, you see, because in MAGA Nation, he would always win unanimously!

And no more fake news. The Big Orange can be MAGA Nation’s one and only source for trusted, reliable news, primarily via Twitter.

Meanwhile, The Rest Of Us will live in a land that aspires to the highest ideals of freedom, diversity and equality, takes climate change seriously, trusts the media while holding it accountable for the veracity of its reporting, and treats every person with the dignity and respect to which we are all entitled.

And the two nations can just leave each other alone.

I think this is the best solution. It’s either that or a brutal, violent, bloody war, culminating in either America’s reunification or its utter collapse.

I really don’t see any other options at this point. Do you?

P.S.: VOTE!!

Have Your Say

 

Election time is upon us, America.

I’m not here to endorse any candidate, or any party, or any other item on your ballot. That’s strictly your business.

I’m here to endorse voting. I want to encourage you to do that.

This is when you get to have a say in what kind of government, what kind of America, you want to see.

This is when you get to use your superpower as a citizen of this country; you can determine the direction it will go.

You may like how things are going, and want to vote for keeping it just humming along. You may be deeply dissatisfied with the current state of affairs, and want to vote for change.

What you cannot do, and must not do, is be apathetic, and not vote at all.

But, apparently, a lot of us do just that. (Yes, I said us, including me.) We just don’t show up, especially for these midterm elections; typically, about 40%. Barely more than 36% of us voted in the last midterms.

And that’s a shame.

Voting is our privilege, our right, and our responsibility. We shouldn’t skip it because we just don’t give a $#!t, or because we think our vote means nothing. What if everybody felt that way? Do we really want 40% of us to decide what happens to 100% of us?

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th. You have time to learn where to go to cast your vote. If, like me, you can’t make it to the polls that day, you have time to find where to go and vote early. If you can’t make it there at all, go to https://www.vote411.org to learn how you can still cast your vote.

I’m gonna vote this year. I sincerely hope you do, too. 🗳