Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day 2013. Grandpa's letter's from Italy 1944 and 1945

It's Veteran's Day, and as a change of pace, I'm dedicating a piece to my Grandparents Tom and Edith Luce.  Grandpa served in the 10th Mountain Division in WWII in Northern Italy in 1944 and 1945.  He left my Grandma home with my Mom aged 4, Uncle Joe 1 and Uncle Roy on the way.  He felt it was his duty to serve and my Grandma went to work at a factory, Rosie the Riveter style.

People often compliment me on being a good dad and a good husband.  I come from a long line of people who had good strong marriages and raised me right.  Grandpa by the way was an amazing athlete, played baseball and football and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds as a pitcher. He also was an sharp shooter and could hit a golf ball a country mile. Grandma, all 5 foot 2 of Irish fury kept my Grandpa 6 foot 4 and country strong in check.  He called her Babe, Honey and Squirt. I  honestly can't remember what she called him, but she gave him the stink eye like nobody's business.  They were made for each other.

Here's a picture in the late 60's





Any way while he was away at war, Grandpa wrote a letter every day.  I picked out two to share.   This willmake the blog a little long, but it's an amazing read.  At the end of the piece I'll add photos of the originals. These are the folks that helped make me who I am.  I added emphasis in places I thought were funny or touching.



Letter 1:
                                                                                                     Somewhere in Italy
                                                                                                      November 30, 1944

Dear Babe,

  Well Honey here I am again, I'm a little late to nite but I guess it is better late than never.  Boy I never saw such writing conditions as these, there I go crabbing right off the bat. Well Honey another day and no mail aint that hell, boy I ought to go all night when I start getting them again, hadn't I hon? How have you been feeling Sweetheart, sure hope you are okay.

  Doggone it do you know what, we worked all day making a little stove and then some blokes went and burned their tent down, so all we had to do was go and tear it down again, aint that hell? And we were just figuring on keeping nice and warm to nite, if you ever saw some mad boys, you should have saw us. Dam Hon it sure is hard to find anything to write about if I would just get a letter maybe I would have some questions to answer you see honey. I know that you can still ask questions cant you?

  How are my two or three younguns getting along, God I'd to know for sure which it is for sure.  But I suppose someday I'll know all about it , won't I.  Well Hon, here it is the last of November already, the old time is moving along pretty fast at that. It can't go fast to suit me if it will bring me back home faster, thats all I care about is getting back where I belong. Sounds like I'm trying to write a song, don't it. How are all the folks back home hope all of them are okay, is Edith ( grandpa's sister), still getting around a little, it sure would be swell if she would get going again wouldn't it Babe, I suppose that the folks have their place fixed up pretty good by now haven't they. I'll bet they are glad of that.

  How is the old man doing is he still griping about everything in general, him and I are going to have a date with a barrel of beer when I get home, and you are going to be right with me, how will that be Babe, you are never going to get out of my sight again as long as I live, if I can help it and I don't me maybe. Say Hon I know we've got some birthdays in December but Im damned if I can remember who they are, can you help me out.

  You know days and dates just seem hard to remember over here, we can't hardly remember what day it is, I guess it dont make much difference anyhow, theres only one day I want to see roll around anyhow.  Well Honey it is getting late and my eyes are getting sorta tired, it isnt too easy to see by these damned lights so I guess I'll have to close for this time. So for this  time I'll have to say Goodnite and God Bless you and the little ones I love  you all very much.

                                                                              Your Loving Husband
                                                                                                   Tom
  Bye till tomorrow Sweetheart, I can't put down any X's anymore cause the think we might be talking in code, aint that the nuts

                                                                                  Bye Now
                                                                                         Tom

Letter 2

                                                                                              May 28, 1944
                                                                                                     Italy

Dearest Babe,

       Well Darling the dam thing is almost over around here, aint that something to shout about but they are doing plenty of that aren't they.

       Seems as the boys birthday was a busy one wasn't it. How are my three little ones, growing like weeds I'll bet. did I ever tell you that I love you Squirt, well I do, so there.

       Now I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm in the field hospital, sleeping on nice white sheets with a pillow and everything, its the life of Reilly Babe, Ha! Ha! I'd just as soon not told you about it, but I'm afraid The War Department would, and then you would be worried.

I had a little fragment in my leg, and they took it out, it is only a scratch and I'll be back with the outfit in a few days, so don't worry about it will you Darling. I'm going to gave to close for now so I'll write tomorrow. Good Bye and God Bless you all.

                                                                                             Your loving husband Tom.

Here's the copies of the letters:




What Grandpa didn't write in the second letter is that his buddy was cleaning his M1 and there was a round in the chamber.  The gun went off and killed his buddy and the round ended up in Grandpa's leg.  He was awarded the Purple Heart.

I never had the chance to have a date with Grandpa and a barrel of beer, but I'd like to think he and Grandma are enjoying one somewhere.  Here's to them and here's to all the Veterans, today and every day.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bully Pulpit

Fat Pat, Cherion, Fat Albert, Perkins, Three eyed fag. Cry Baby. That's a short list of the names I was called as a child by classmates, school mates and even some adults. I was bullied mercilessly for many years. It didn't really end until college.  That's why the tale of Richie Incognito and Jonathon Martin of the Miami Dolphins strikes a nerve.

If you haven't heard, Incognito is a bully who made threats and slurs towards Martin to the point that Martin left the team, and Incognito has now been suspended indefinitely. We're hearing anecdotes that Incognito was bullied as a child and his father, who has been posting slurs of his own, is said to have been a cruel man to his son.

Whatever  the reason for Incognito's behavior, its time for the NFL and other sports leagues to ban the hazing of rookies or severely curtail it. Perhaps there's still room for some mild teasing like making rookies carry the pads or buy donuts or sing their college fight songs, but there's no reason rookies should buy 40000 dollar team meals or be taped to a goal post.

The bullying and hazing in the NFL is a national story now, but the bullying that is going on every day in schools across the country is insidious and has caused many kids to take their own lives. This is becoming a crisis.  Due to the prevalence of social media, bullying is now carried out every waking hour of the day. When I was being bullied, I could at least leave the bullies at the door of the school and go home to peace and quiet.

At the open of this piece I mentioned a few of the names I was called.  Fat Pat was pretty obvious, cause you know I was fat.  Cherion is a play on my last name and being a "cherry" (aka pussy).  Fat Albert was the name given me by the lunch lady when I was in 1st grade and had a Fat Albert lunch box.  The fucking lunch lady.

Perkins was again a play on my last name and the character Perkins from Sheriff Lobo.  See Perkins was a bumbler and also fat, so there you go. Three eyed fag came in High School when I had a zit between my eyebrows.  Cry Baby was due to the fact that when I was teased, which was often I cried. My Junior High School Principal referred to me by that moniker.

The point of sharing these things is not a play for pity, because I think I'm doing pretty damn well. Instead it's an example of what kids take with them from bullies.  All of these things happened to me 30-40 years ago, but I still remember them all.

Take the time to take interest in  your kids day at school.  Ask them about their friends. Make sure that they understand that the can tell you anything, and feel safe.  Make sure you're monitoring and limiting your kids on social media. They may find it intrusive, but you're the still the adult.

If the school calls you and suggests that your child may be a bully, don't scoff and dismiss it. It may be unpleasant for you to deal with, but it must be dealt with. You're kid is in need of some redirection if they're bullying other kids.

The Incognito-Martin dust up has opened a necessary dialog, but they're both grown adults and will no doubt land on their feet.  The suicides of so many young people are far more concerning to me.
Bullying is not a joke, not a passing thing and often not easily overcome.

I was lucky, I forgave a lot, but I haven't forgotten.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Poor Excuses

I've waited a few days to weigh in on Congresses decision to cut SNAP funds as part of trying to pass the Farm Bill.  It was hard enough to not splutter on in impotent rage on Twitter and Facebook, so a few days delay seemed like a good idea.

In the intervening days, I've seen what can only be called an assault on the poor by a lot of people on the right. One friend, Herb Lawrence, over on Facebook wrote persuasively about the need for programs like SNAP and his mentions included a number of people who generally think that lazy no-goods get all the free food they want.

I have a special empathy for poor people.  Part of it is because I work daily with people who are poor and are just scraping buy. True some of these people have issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, but most do not.  They're just people who lost a job, or are working for minimum wage and trying to raise kids.  Contrary to popular belief they're not all deadbeat people of color looking for a handout from Uncle Sam. In fact a significant part of the population I see are white. National statistics bear this out as 60 percent of SNAP recipients are white.

The other reason that I'm particularly sensitive to the issues of the poor, is that for a significant portion of my childhood, I was poor.  Not just white people poor, not able to get Nike's every 3 months, I mean government cheese poor. My parents were hardworking people who did everything they could to improve our station.

My earliest memories of my parents working was when I was 5 or so, Mom worked at Pennys and Dad was a tire salesman.  They worked long hours to put food on our table and that was supplemented occasionally by my grandparents giving us meat from cattle they had slaughtered.  We had cars that barely ran and rented places that were cheap and drafty. Mom made my velour shirts and there were plenty of yard sale pairs of pants.

Dad continued on at the tire store and mom worked at Penny's until I was in the 4th or 5th grade. Dad got a job at a corn refinery in Clinton IA, Clinton Corn, which later became ADM.  He worked rotating shifts but made a good wage and mom didn't have to work if she didn't want to.

Then came 1982 and the Farm Crisis.  Dad along with a lot of other people lost their jobs,  the economy of Clinton, IA took a massive hit.  We lived on unemployment, borrowed from family and accepted government handouts of cheese, butter and peanut butter. I remember how tormented my parents were about accepting handouts. These were proud people who felt that they somehow failed.

About a year later, Dad did get a job in housekeeping at the local hospital and mom went to work as the TV rental lady at the same hospital.  Later she hooked on as an admissions clerk at the hospital.  Total combined salary was a little over 20K per year.

The current crop of me first Republicans and Libertarians don't have the first idea about poor people.  They think and by extension their constituents think that poor people are lazy, stupid and black.  They're wrong. An overwhelming number of poor people are white just like my parents. No matter what their race, poor people are proud and hardworking but need assistance getting back to middle class, to help their kids get ahead and maybe retire before they're 90.

Stripping 4 Billion dollars a year from SNAP is a infinitesimal amount of the Federal Budget. This is a symbolic shaming of poor people for being poor.  They claim that people need to take responsibility to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  How in the world are poor people supposed to do that when like my parents they go through times that they have no bootstraps left?

Congress and especially Teaparty conservatives might see all of this as excuse making for poor people.  As my dear departed mother once said, "for being so called leaders, these idiots in Congress are a poor excuse."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Richard Dawkins is Wrong About the Effects of Sexual Abuse.

It seems that not a week goes by that somebody doesn't say something completely wrong about child sexual abuse. This week's winner is Richard Dawkins, noted biologist and atheist. He's also woefully uninformed about the lasting trauma of child abuse in general and child sexual abuse in particular.

(The following paragraph includes Dawkins description of his abuse, if this may be triggering, please skip to graph 3)

In a recent interview with Time Magazine he tried to defend what he termed "mild pedophilia" as not having a lasting harm on children. He quoted his own experience in Boarding School when a school master pulled him on his lap and put his hand down his pants. He dismissed this as "mild touching up", and went on to say this same teacher abused some of his friends. He proclaimed: "I don't think he did any of us lasting harm".

First off, how would Mr. Dawkins know who suffered lasting harm and who didn't?  The psychological scars of child sexual abuse manifest themselves in myriad ways.  Maybe he nor any of his mates turned into pedophiles, but that doesn't mean there was no harm.

Before I continue on, I'd like to clarify something.  I'm using the terms pedophile and pedophilia because Mr. Dawkins did. In point of fact pedophile is a DSM V diagnosis. True pedophiles are only sexually aroused by by children. Most child molesters aren't pedophiles. That's why we use the terms, child molester, child sexual abuser or in more unguarded moments "Baby raping fucks", but never pedophile.

For Richard Dawkins to casually toss off a riposte of "it's not so bad, I didn't have lasting harm" is as repugnant as it is arrogant.  He claims to be a man of science. A man who uses empirical data to reach a conclusion, in fact a visionary in the field of biology. Yet he uses anecdotal and emotional "evidence" that he's okay so no big deal? That doesn't just make him wrong, it makes him a hypocrite.  

A quick perusal of the statistics of alcoholism, drug abuse and other mental health issues, show a a shocking correlation with child sexual abuse.

A March 2012 Study published in the Journal Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research reported the following.  "Sexual abuse was associated with an increased likelihood of Anxiety Disorders as well as Alcoholism." "Previous studies have found that alcoholics have higher self-reported rates of physical and sexual abuse in childhood than people in the general population", Markus Heilig, clinical director at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in the journal news release.

A 1997 release from the Journal on Addictions reported that 75% of women in alcohol treatment programs report being sexually abused as children. 75%! 

This is clearly lasting harm and I got those statistics from a simple Google search. I don't have to search Google to see the lasting harm of sexual abuse. I see it daily when I go to work. Children who suddenly start bed wetting because of abuse. Children who cut because of abuse. Teens who smoke, drink, engage in unprotected or commercial sex or both because of sexual abuse. 

Back before I was a Child Protection Specialist, I worked for 3 1/2 years as a caseworker in a special program called Treatment Foster Care. It was basically a behavioral modification program in a foster home setting. The caseload was small just 7 kids per worker. These were the kids who were the most difficult to maintain due to behavior etc.  In the three years I probably had 25-30 kids cycle through. In my very first caseload of 7 all 7 had been sexually abused.  All of them got treatment and therapy for sexual abuse, yet all of them still had significant behavioral issues. 

I've written before of the 17 year old boy I interviewed who was sexually abused by a teacher and later committed suicide.  I'm sure Mr. Dawkins would qualify this as 'mild touching up'.  I dare him to tell that boys parents that "mild pedophilia" had no lasting effects.  



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Further Response to Betsy Karasik and the Washington Post.

Over the weekend I wrote up a piece a on why Betsy Karasik's Op-ed for The Washington Post was flat out wrong.  She opined that cases, like the Stacey Dean Rambold teacher rape case in Montana, should be decriminalized for several reasons. You can read my response here.  Suffice to say letting teachers get by with grooming and raping students is not a popular opinion in my profession.

One point that Ms. Karasik made, and has continued to make in social media, dealt with the stress of the criminal justice system and trial on the victim.  She believes and maybe rightly that the victim in the Rambold case, Cherice Morales committed suicide due to that stress.  There's no way to know for sure, but a reasonable inference could be made.

In almost 20 years of work as a Child Protection Professional, my ability to identify and understand the stress on victims has evolved.  When I first started I thought that every sex case should go to trial. That every perpetrator should get the maximum sentence and every kid who testified would feel better when justice was served.

Over time, I've come to understand that this is not always the best course of action.  Too many trial losses because the jury just couldn't be convinced that anyone could do that to a child. Too many defense attorneys finding the smallest flaws in a statement and turning that around on the child. Things happen and justice isn't always best served.  So when the State's Attorney makes a deal and gets a plea bargain, I'm all for it.

It is completely wrong headed to assert that the victims don't have stress, if the case doesn't go to trial. The stress of  the victimization is still the overriding factor in the victim's recovery. The best way to deal with the stress of a trial is to provide support and counseling during the process.

In the counties I work in, the victim support services have evolved along with my understanding of victims issues. When cases do go to trial, we have a wonderful counseling service the specializes in child sexual abuse that works with the Victim Coordinator at the State's Attorney's office to prep the child for testimony. The counties I cover include one fairly large urban population and two with rural populations. All three have made great strides in protecting and supporting the victims through the trial.

This protection and support starts at the outset of a case. Children here and all over the country are interviewed by forensic interviewers like myself at Children's Advocacy Centers.  The Advocacy Centers provide parents with support, counseling referrals and other services. Further, our Advocacy Centers have done presentations for the Judges in our Circuit to educate them about victim sensitivity. If it's done in three counties on the Mississippi river in Illinois, it can be done anywhere.

Bringing this back to Ms. Karasik's argument about decriminalization.  No. No. No. The victim is not better served by the perpetrator not facing justice in some form.  The victim is better served when we demand that the court process be more sensitive to victims, when we demand that readily available counseling services and victim support services are available in every jurisdiction not just those like mine that are forward thinking and lucky.

Victims deserve a voice. They deserve a fair and safe process. They deserve closure.  None of these things happen if as Ms. Karasik suggests, teacher/student rape be decriminalized.  That doesn't protect the victim. It only makes it easier for these predators to keep hunting.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Consent Decrees: Why Betsy Karasik and The Washington Post Are Wrong About Teen Aged Girls

I've been an investigator of child abuse for almost 20 years. I've investigated over three thousand cases of abuse and hundreds of cases of sexual abuse.  Many of those cases involved sex abuse of teens by teachers. To say I know a thing or two about Teacher/Student sex and consent is an understatement.  That's why the Washington Post Op-Ed penned by Betsy Karasik about Stacey Dean Rambold is just flat out wrong.


If the subject of the op-ed doesn't ring a bell.  Rambold was convicted of raping a 14 year old student, Cherice Morales when he was 50.  He was sentenced to 30 days in jail by judge G. Todd Baugh.  Baugh saying that Morales was "as much in control of the situation".  Karasik argues that teen aged students can consent to adults. More on that presently, but first, an example of why the Judge, and Karasik just don't  get it. 

In the course of my career, I investigated a case of child sexual abuse between a respected teacher and a 16 year old boy.  The boy disclosed shortly after his 17th birthday.  He gave a credible statement that his teacher fondled his penis multiple times.  

Since the family requested no prosecution, it was left to me to speak to the teacher and inform the school. I did so, and when confronting the teacher, he admitted that he had fondled the boy.  I indicated the report and the teacher resigned.   

Several months later through the official DCFS appeal process, the teacher won his appeal. The DCFS attorney and Manager who reviewed the case said that the incidents were not "sexual abuse" because of the age of the child, the fact there may have been consent and the fact that it did not happen at school. This decision was made even though according to IL Statutes, a teacher is always a teacher. 

Sometime there after, the victim committed suicide. 

The heart of Ms. Karasik's opinion seems to be that teen aged girls have sex on the mind as do teen aged boys. This is true in the abstract.  It's also true that girls have had affairs with teachers for millenia. She conflates sex between teens and teachers and sex with college professors, however. That is a false equivalence and frankly just kind of dumb. College students who have sex with professors are adults, and therefore able to consent. 

It's true on its face, that teenagers are maturing/mature sexually. They have sex on the brain as Ms. Karasik points out.  The gray hair in my Van Dyke can attest to being the father of a quickly developing 13 year old daughter.

What Ms. Karasik fails to understand, or maybe she does and she's just not saying, these developing teens have normal appetites for each other. For other teens, kids their own age and maybe a little older. My daughter may think that Mr. X the science teacher is cute, but she is not eyeing him with the idea of dating and possible sexual relations. 

On the other hand, teachers who have sex with teens, are looking at the child in nothing but sexual terms. They use their position of authority over the children and gradually groom them until they are in an intimate situation, of which the teacher takes full advantage.  

I think most people agree that teens can "consent" to that first fumbling in the back of 1974 Chevy Caprice Classic, with another teen.  That's not what we are talking about here. A teacher using a child for sex is no different than a priest doing the same thing.  No different from Jerry Sandusky.  

Ms Karasik seems to think  the trauma of going through a trial doesn't help the victim and in fact delays their healing. She's as wrong about this as she is about everything else in the work.  Especially in cases like this where the perpetrator confessed and plead guilty, the closure for the victim is vital to their ongoing recovery. We'll never know how Cherice would have responded because she, like the boy in my case, committed suicide. 

Finally, Ms. Karasik closes with a pretty ridiculous reason we should excuse teachers who sexually abuse students: "If religious leaders and heads of state can’t keep their pants on, with all they have to lose, why does society expect that members of other professions can be coerced into meeting this standard?" 

So holding people to account for sexually abusing children is a ridiculous standard because religious people and Bill Clinton can't keep their pants up?  I seem to remember Clinton being impeached and at last tally the Catholic Church is bankrupt paying for priests who abused children. In my world those are pretty severe consequences.

A better question is: how can we not hold teachers to  a "ridiculously high standard"?  



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The DudeBro Bill of Rights

It's been a while since I've written.  The subject of Dudebros and their faux outrage at President Obama, the NSA, and the west in general got me to thinking.  Maybe the dudebros need to form their own nation. If they're going to do that, the need a Constitution, and a Bill of Rights.

For those wondering about who the Dudebros are, they are generally the far left libertarians in the vein of Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden. Some call them Utopian Left, some call the Emo-progressives.

Tom Nichols at his blog The War Room describes them as nihilistic millenials, who got a ribbon for participating and thought they won something. He further says they're incredibly self centered and immature and have no concept of how things work in the real world.   

So here follows the Dudebro Bill of Rights. I took liberties with the constitution by adding a preamble, but if the Kenyan Marxist Socialist Nazi President Blackenstein can trample on the Constitution, anyone can. 

The DudeBro Bill of Rights

Preamble:

We the Dudebros , in Order to form the most perfect Union, establish Just Us, disrupt domestic Tranquility, Disdain for The Common and Defense, Disdain for Welfare, Secure the blessings of Libertarians to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for Dudebros but not Evil America.

Amendment 1

Dudebros shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, except for the cult of personality as evidenced in the divine visage of Julian Assange and his prophet Edward Snowden. or abridging the freedom of speech, unless its the speech we don't like especially if it comes from brown people. No abridgement of the Dudebro Press Glenn Greenwald and David Sirota , but the evil Mainstream Media totes abridged. The right of the people to peaceably assemble, unless they're brown, then they'll be frisked. And to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, but  only our pet grievances, yours don't matter.

Amendment 2

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed, except those pesky Chicago thugs, they give gun owners a bad name.

Amendment 3

No Soldiers 

Amendment 4

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. So stop listening to my calls President Obummer.

Amendment 5

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, even if they steal state secrets and give them to bloggers, cause FREEDOM BRUH!

Amendment 6

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, except data thieves (See Amendment 5)

Amendment 7

In Suits at common law, frankly, we don't care about anything common. Our parents taught us all that we are special and precious and perfect and never wrong.

Amendment 8

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted, cruel punishments like hiding in an Ecuadorian Embassy is travesty.

Amendment 9

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people unless they're women, blacks, the poor, and centrists, then we can disparage them, cause they just don't get it man...

Amendment 10

The powers not delegated to the Dudebros by the Constitution,  don't really matter, because our Dudebro Utopia doesn't care about non Dudebros. 



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Allies

I've been thinking about how to write this piece since Saturday.  I've started and restarted it 3 times. I finally got a frame when I read Chez Pazienza's fine piece about a young man who took his own life, Carlos Vigil. Carlos committed suicide because he was bullied, called fat, made fun of because he had acne and because he was gay. A tragedy played out every day.

Chez's work made me reflect on the bullying I suffered as a child, and suddenly I knew how I could write about being an ally to African Americans, Women, Gay people and any other minorities.

Being a white male in America is a pretty good gig, and it's hard to articulate where and how I was able to learn how to be an ally.  For me, being an ally has been molded by several things, childhood bullying, growing up poor, good parents and working as a social worker.

As a child I was mercilessly teased and bullied by my peers.  I was fat. I had a Fat Albert lunch box. To this day I remember being made fun of by the lunch lady, an adult. All the kids joined in. It was 40 years ago. As I got older, because I wasn't a fighter, I got spit on, my ears flicked, books grabbed away and hidden.  I was mocked as Fat Pat forever.

We also grew up poor. While the other kids had Levis and Nikes I had Sears Huskys and Trax from KMart. These differences were again a source of constant mocking and teasing.

Things improved slightly in High School, because I played football and I turned my anger inward and made myself the first person in the history of my high school to get a 4.0 GPA.

The bullying gave me a profound respect for others who have traditionally been considered "other". People who have been demeaned and downtrodden for no other reason than  they are black or female or gay. I just can't stand injustice to anyone, but especially to those folks who look different or have different sexual orientations than what is considered "normal".

My parents raised us to be nice people. Not just nice to people who looked like us or acted like us. Nice  to everybody.  My mom was the nicest person I ever met. My dad is a crazy old dude, but he's unfailing the nicest guy in any room he enters.

When a mixed race couple moved into our neighborhood in the early 80's mom and dad put the skids to a group of neighbors who were essentially pointing and staring.  Both mom and dad had friends and colleagues at work who were African American and Hispanic, even a few Vietnamese refuges. So we had good roll modeling regarding different races and cultures.

I went to college and wanted to be a physicist.  I found out the psych majors had more fun and switched majors.  Through a series of coincidences and good fortune, I ended  up being a child abuse investigator for the last 20 years.

As a social worker, I have learned that the most important skill I have in most situations is listening. Just listening. Not offering a solution all the time, not telling people how they ought to do it. Listen. Be present for people.

I used this skill a lot these last few days after the Zimmerman verdict. All of the African American friends I've made on social media were to some extent angered and saddened. I notice several white people who should know better trying to tell my black friends how they should be.  That's not being an ally, that's being privileged.

It's not okay to point out to your black friends that "not all of us (whites)" are like that.  Your black friends know. Just shut up and let them vent unless they specifically ask you for advice. That's good advice for a lot of situations.

If you truly want to be an ally for minorities, it isn't hard.  Be nice, don't condescend, don't look at those relationships for what you can get out of them.  Listen. Learn. Support. Don't be afraid to stand up for your friends, but don't do it to be a glory hound.

Be an ally because it's right.




Saturday, June 22, 2013

Spies Like Us

It's been a while since I sat down and wrote.  Frankly life has been busy and I didn't find anything worth writing about that I couldn't accomplish in 140 characters on Twitter, or a random smart ass quip on Facebook.

I pointedly stayed away from writing about Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald and the NSA revelations.  Other people have been doing a much better job of debunking the non story than I would have dreamed of doing.  Bob Cesca, and Charles Johnson among others have been doing yeoman's work in reporting the facts of the Snowden case without Greenwald's disturbing bias towards the President and his Administration.

I chose today to jump back into the fray because Snowden was charged in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Virginia.  Per the AP he was charged with two counts under the Espionage act and one count of theft of government property.  Glenn Greenwald and his hoard of navel gazing fan boys are already crying foul and accuse the government of "over charging".

As somebody who is a both a Government employee (State of Illinois), and someone who routinely seeks criminal charges, I have some perspective on Snowden's charges.

If you work for the Government, whether it's Federal, State, or Local, there are some pretty strict rules about what you can take out of the office.  By strict I mean: You can't take ANYTHING out of the office. The only exception for us is State of Illinois pens, but much like the legislature they work fine for about 20 minutes, then get gummed up and useless.

In addition to working for the man, I'm also a union steward for AFSCME.  In that duty, I have represented co-workers in numerous grievance and discipline meetings.  People get disciplined up to and including dismissal for all sorts of things involving misusing Government issued phones, computers, what have you.  I represented a guy who got a day off with no pay for downloading 1.99 game to his work cell.

Lest ye think that I'm above it all. I once got a verbal reprimand for sending an office wide email that my daughter was selling pizza's for her school.  The point of these anecdotes is to underscore the fact that when you work for the Government there are certain things you don't do.

Taking classified documents is right at the top of that list.  What Snowden did would be like me bringing home a client file and giving it to the media. I would be fired on the spot and because client confidentiality is codified in Illinois, I would be charged with crime.

Which brings me to the "over charging" issue.  I have no idea exactly what Snowden is charged with but speaking to prosecutors charging suspects, issuing multiple charges is nothing new.  As a matter of fact,  I have been involved in cases in which an adult had sex with a minor.  The Assistant State's Attorney on the cases issued a discrete felony count for every single act. The ASA charged each individual act of intercourse, each individual fondle etc.

The reason that prosecutor's over charge as well as including lesser included charges is pretty obvious in dealing with sex cases.  A perp may be charged with 8 counts, plead guilty to two counts and do 10-20 years as apposed to the 160 years if he was convicted on all 8 counts.

I suspect that the Federal indictment of Snowden is similar. He and his jongleur Greenwald can claim all they want that the Government is going too far, but they've already admitted that Snowden broke the law.  In the end the Government may drop the Espionage Act charges if he pleads to stealing property.

If he does plead to a lesser charge, he'll probably end up serving a couple of years at a country club prison camp like Marion.

Who knows maybe he'll end up on a beach in Brazil with Greenwald drinking an ice cold bohemia style beer.  Although knowing Greenwald, I'm sure beer is something that "you people" drink.  Too bad for Snowden that when he's no longer useful to Greenwald, he'll be "you people" too.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An Investigator's View of the DoJ/AP Dust-up


There's trouble a foot in DC for President Obama and Attorney General Holder, or so the the usual assortment of hacks, wannabes and never weres that make up the beltway media would have us believe.

You see, back in 2012, the Associated Press ran a story about the CIA thwarting of an Al Queda plan to bring down a US passenger jet.  In so doing they used information that was classified that they had gotten from a source.  Congress responded by asking Department of Justice to find and stop the leak.

Beltway pundits, politicians and their hangers on got all kinds of butt hurt about the revelation that in the course of the investigation the Department Of Justice obtained the telephone records of reporters for the Associated Press.  Words, like wire tap and bugging, ran rampant throughout social media and blogs all across the internet. 

People immediately called for Eric Holder’s head.  Even people like Charles Pierce whom I admire a great deal dashed off a thousand words on how this was overreach and DoJ was out of control and Holder must go. 

Funny thing happened on the way to storm the castle.  As it turns out Eric Holder recused himself as he had already been question by the FBI about the leak investigation.  It should also come as no surprise to anybody that phone records of the reporters were obtained by subpoena.  This is a very common practice in investigation.

As a child abuse investigator for the last 20 years, I have gathered evidence, including using subpoenas for records.  I emphasize that I am not law enforcement, but I have worked closely with law enforcement and have received much of the same training in regards to collecting evidence and following leads. 

In the press conference today, Attorney General Holder said that the content of the subpoenaed phone calls was not turned over, just the phone numbers, times, dates, etc.

You may ask why they did this with the reporter’s phone information. The answer is very simple.  It’s much easier to go through the phone records of 20 people to find a lead on a government employee, than it is to go through the phone records of over a hundred thousand employees at the Department of Defense or CIA.

I have had similar experiences with phone records, albeit for an entirely different type of case.  I helped a co-worker and police on a case of a teacher who was having sex with a teenaged student.  We combed through 30,000 text messages between the two because there was a concern that there were other victims.  We also looked through emails of the perpetrator looking for clues as to other trysts he may have had. 

That particular case ended well, but it illustrates what I was talking about re: the volume of information we had to go through.  We could have subpoenaed the records of all of the students the teacher had interactions with but it was easier to go through the teacher’s records. 

In the AP case, Congress directed the DoJ to find the leak.  There was really no other way to get a lead on the leak, without going through the phone records of the recipients of the leaked information. In fact the use of the subpoena per DoJ rules was a last resort which explains why the phone records weren't immediately looked at.  In fact the records were requested in April and May of last year, several weeks after Holder was directed by Congress to investigate.

I completely understand the fears of interference with the media and a free press.  In the case of the AP investigation, the Department of Justice is not going after a member of the press for possible prosecution.  They are using readily available and commonly used law enforcement tools to develop leads on the real criminal.  The person who leaked the information could have gotten a CIA asset killed and at very least tipped off our enemies that they had a mole in their operation.  

If the forth estate plans on continuing to abet criminal activity, they better damn well be ready to be party to the criminal investigation. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Heroes


By now most everyone has at least a passing understanding of who Charles Ramsey is.  If the name doesn't ring a bell, he was the neighbor who helped rescue three women in Cleveland who had been held captive for a decade.

Upon hearing screaming from his neighbor's house, he went to the door and a woman asked him to help her. He told reporters that he at first thought she was a victim of domestic violence.  He quickly became an internet meme because of his awesome interview with local TV.

The aftermath of all this has been rather strange to observe.  Some people are worried that Ramsey is being treated like the "funny black neighbor".  Not understanding that we can laugh a funny guy without mocking him. I'd love to talk to him. He's a good story teller, and a character.

Today it was revealed by the omnipresent media that seems to find the bad side of everybody, that Mr. Ramsey has a record including an assault on a woman in his past.  National media especially seem to love to find the dirt to tarnish a heroic act.

As many of you know, I work for DCFS in Illinois. In the last 20 years I have interviewed thousands of people a lot like Mr. Ramsey.  People who may have had a bad past, or made bad choices but who have grown from those experiences to become better people and better parents.

It may be bone headed optimism, but the fact that Mr. Ramsey initially thought the victim may have been a DV victim, could be because he learned from his past.  Most men who are convicted of Domestic Battery have to take classes in anger management and other counseling to help them recognize their own triggers.  Is it so far off base to think that Mr. Ramsey internalized what he learned and put it to good use when needed?

It's easy to be a cynic, but people can change.  I've seen it countless  times. While there are really bad people in the world who will never change (mostly White Sox fans but I digress), the capacity for positive change exists in us all.

I recognize that Mr. Ramsey has a checkered past, and I've certainly called out abusers in this blog before, but for now, he did a heroic thing.  On top of his heroism, when Anderson Cooper asked about the reward money, he said give it those women, give it to that little girl who was out here crying last night.

Maybe karma isn't always a bitch.

Friday, April 5, 2013

What Can the Browns Do For Us


I’ve been struggling with how to get a hook for this piece about white privilege without repeating what I wrote two months ago.  While I was thinking about what I was going to write, I learned that Roger Ebert had passed away.  Richard Roeper said when it was time to write, Roger would just start writing, so taking that to heart, here's my latest.

In my previous piece I took Joan Walsh and David Sirota to task for being dismissive at best and down right bitchy at worst to Goldie Taylor.  Ms. Taylor for the uninitiated is a commentator on MSNBC, a former Marine, a mother and brand new grandmother, who also happens to be black. 

After taking a firestorm of criticism for that work, Ms. Walsh seemed to walk back some things, (easier to ask forgiveness no doubt), and it seemed like the point that white privilege is alive and well was understood by her and other liberal pundits.

Then came yesterday, Walsh penned a piece that drips with the privilege that she seems to revel in.  In it she bemoaned the shrinking white hegemony in the Democratic party,  stating falsely that whites will be a minority by mid century. 

Population estimates predict that all minorities combined will be around 52%, whites will be 48%.  When you break out the numbers after Whites, Hispanics will be around 20% Blacks around 12%.  If you’re not a complete moron you’d see that  2.5 times as many Whites as Hispanics and 4 times as many Whites as Blacks DOES NOT MAKE WHITES A MINORITY.

Walsh went on to discuss the coalition that got President Obama elected and highlighted the fact that the coalition stayed home in 2010.  She didn't mention that professional lefties like her actively encouraged people to stay home to teach the President a lesson.  Again, teaching the black President a lesson by sabotaging his agenda because it's not yours reeks of privilege

She even gave insightful instruction on how to talk to  "America's newest minority".  My guess is that she doesn't know how people of color should speak to her if they’re not turning down her bed or dusting her mantle (that’s not a euphemism).

To be fair she did admit that white privilege exists but she likened it to other types of privilege, completely missing the point about the pervasiveness of white privilege by acting privileged! Of course when this was pointed out to her on Twitter by another woman of color that I admire, Imani Gandy, it was sloughed off as "ironic snobbery".

Now if we're keeping score at home, Walsh has been dismissive of the valid concerns of Goldie Taylor, Imani Gandy, and Melissa Harris-Perry, and those are just instances that I'm aware of.  I'm sure there are others.  I just couldn't find any in which liberal white women were dismissed thusly.

If the column on the poor oppressed white folks wasn't bad enough, late yesterday she led the charge in being outraged and aghast that President Obama called Kamala Harris the California AG "by far the best looking Attorney General".

It my have been a poor choice of words, but of course Walsh and her many supporters hectored the President about it until last night, according to his press secretary, the President called Harris and apologized for all the attention the comment garnered.

It seems that Ms. Walsh and her cohorts in the elite liberal punditry have no problem holding men, especially the President, to account for objectifying women.  Odd that they are silent when that woman happens to be a 9 year old black girl. Walsh and other so called feminists barely spoke up when the Onion tweeted an insult of Quvenzhan√© Wallis.

I find it beyond insulting that the same people outraged that the President dare call a pretty woman, "the best looking AG" sat idly by as Wallis was called a c---.  

See that's what privilege is all about, you can't take up the cause for a 9 year old girl because after all it was a "joke",  but you can sure as fuck jump down Blacky O's neck when he does something you disapprove of. 

I'm not asking for miracles, I'm sure there'll be plenty more pearl clutching over the President. There will be more columns bemoaning how people of color just don't get how the liberal white folks really know what's best for them.  

My advice to Walsh and anybody else who tries to explain privilege to people of color, or write columns about how oppressed white liberals are? Pull up your sleeves look closely at the pasty white flab of your under arm, realize you've got it pretty fucking good, and please just shut the hell up. 


Monday, March 25, 2013

The show that never ends.

Welcome back friends to the show that never ends. Today's post has to do with what in my opinion has been a banner day for rape culture in America. A veritable victory lap for victim shamers.

Let's start with one of my pet projects, Jerry Sandusky and Penn State.  In what has to be one of the all time journalistic blunders, NBC aired a partial interview with Jerry Sandusky from prison.  They did not produce the interview or do the questioning.  They let arrogant douchebag and Conservative huckster John Ziegler do that.  Chez Pazienza wrote two scathing pieces here and here in which he sums up the journalist malpractice much better than I could.

I'd like to focus on the victims for a minute.  Every time Sandusky or Penn State apologists get air time, it affects the victims.  As observers we can be outraged, we can rail at people like Ziegler.  We can boycott the Today show, but those are just to make us feel better.  There is really nothing other than years of therapy and maybe a revenge fantasy or two that can make this better for Sandusky's victims.

I see the effects on victims every day in my job.  I've currently got cases in the court system that involve pretty heinous acts of sex abuse.  The victims are in therapy, but every time the court case is mentioned on TV one victim in particular gets so upset she can't function, wets herself or pukes and goes to her room and hides. I can only imagine that Victim 2 who was called out by Sandusky and Ziegler today feels something akin to this.

We've read recently that the victim in the Steubenville was very intoxicated and possibly drugged.  This gave rise to a whole bunch of nonsense about consent as it relates to rape.  Progressive commentator Zerlina Maxwell made the point that we can stop rape culture by teaching men not to rape.  She took a ton of evil crap about her statements including rape threats.

Today, on twitter she posted a retweeted picture of an ad for liquor exhorting a young man to ply a young woman with liquor to "Avoid the friend zone".  This is the ad in question. When she pointed out that this picture is what rape culture looks like, she got a lot of blow back from people who basically don't know what consent is.

Since I'm a white straight man, I can whitesplain and mansplain like nobody's business.

Let me break it down. When Ms. Maxwell says we need to educate men not to rape this is what she's talking about. Date rape, acquaintance rape, having sex without consent. Most people think of rape as the guy leaping from the bushes and beating and assaulting a woman.  Having sex with someone who's too drunk to consent is rape too.

That's not to say that if you have a few drinks with a date and go home and knock it til dawn, you're raping someone, if consent is given, great.

Having said that, if the only way you can bed her, is to get her drunk, you're doing it wrong.

I'd love for this to be the last thing that I post about rape culture, Sandusky, et al, but unfortunately, rape culture in America?  It's the show that never ends.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PopaCabana

Sung to the music of Copacabana by the legendary Mr. Barry Manilow 

His name was Jorge, he was a Cardinal, 
with a tonsure in his hair and red vestments for daily wear, 
he would absolve you, and give communion
Tho his parents came from Rome, he call Argentina home, 
He prayed from 8 to 4, god could ask no more,
He was chosen by his brothers  
To open the Sistene door!

At the Popa, PopaCabana,
The hottest spot south of Ravenna
At the Popa, Popacabana
Pederasty and passion were always the fashion
At the POPA.... They made him Pope

His name was Joseph, he was Nazi,
Elected in Ought Five Saying Grazzi,
He liked the papal car, but was not a star
When senility hit, he knew that that was it,
Resignation he did give, in cloister he shall live

At the Popa PopaCabana
The Hottest Spot South of Ravenna 
At the Popa, PopaCabana
Pederasty and Passion were always the fashion
At the POPA.... They made him Pope

His name was Jorge, he was a Cardinal
But that was 3 days ago, when they met to replace Joe
Now it's a crisis, confronting Jorge
In the white dress he has to wear, and Mitt's magic underwear
He sits on the throne of Pete, prayers for him replete,
He lost his See, in Argentine
But my friends he's doing fine


At the Popa PopaCabana
The Hottest Spot South of Ravenna 
At the Popa, PopaCabana
Pederasty and Passion were always the fashion
At the POPA.... Don't be the Pope

Don't be the Pope
PopaCabana
PopaCabana

You're welcome









Friday, March 8, 2013

War on Women: Stupidity About Rape Edition

"If your first reaction to a rape survivor is "you shoulda done" you're a short sighted fucktard. The rapist shoulda kept his dick in check."

I tweeted that earlier in response to a torrent of abuse that Zerlina Maxwell has taken for her comments on Hannity the other night.  

For those who are currently lost, let me bring you up to speed.  Ms. Maxwell was on Hannity discussing gun control and rape culture.  A really stupid Democrat form Colorado named Evie Hudak said the following to  a rape survivor: 

I just want to say, statistics are not on your side, even if you had had a gun. You said that you were a martial arts student, I mean person, experience in taekwondo, and yet because this individual was so large and was able to overcome you even with your skills, and chances are that if you had had a gun, then he would have been able to get than from you and possibly use it against you …

Colossally fucking stupid, clearly the GOP doesn't have a monopoly on short sighted and uncaring opinions for rape survivors.  

Ms. Maxwell pointed out that arming all women to protect themselves from rapists isn't the answer, teaching men not to rape is something that needs to be done.  For that, she has received a shit storm of threatening tweets, Facebook posts and comments. She's actually been threatened with rape. Yes, Hannity viewers and others are that fucking evil. 

So let's just take a moment and think this through.  Arming women to defend themselves is the answer to rape? Really? Have we as a culture become so used to such a heinous crime that we accept it's going to happen so be prepared? 

I have two daughters whom I will worry about incessantly when they start dating, or move out on their own. I'm not saying that women should not be prepared to fend off a rapist.  I'm saying that perhaps if we didn't allow the idea that rape is simply a thing to be dealt with, if we teach our young men not to act on their base impulses, maybe women wouldn't have to be so cautious.  

Think of it this way.  I work with children who have been raped. We call it child sexual abuse, but it's rape. Can you imagine telling one of these children they should fend off the attacker with gun? Can you imagine telling a child they shouldn't have dressed in their Dora pajamas because they were too sexy and they were asking for it?

When we tell women to dress in a certain manner, when we tell them "you should carry a gun to protect yourself" we're doing the same thing. And no, I'm not calling women, children. So shut up. 

The best way to stop rape, is to stop rape culture.  Teach young men that women aren't property to be used as they wish. Stop blaming victims because they were too provocative.  Stop trying to solve the the violence of rape with the violence of guns.  

We live in a purportedly enlightened era.  The idea that rape is just "one of those things" is fucking ridiculous. If you're blaming the victim, or arming the victim, so are you. 


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Caution Strong Language

I posted a while back about privilege, and I updated it tonight, but as I have been following the twitterverse one thing has become apparent: there are a lot of people, mostly white, who don't understand the power, the anger, and the willingness to demean  that goes with the word "cunt".

This whole flap started over the Onion tweeting the word "cunt" about Quvenzhan√© Wallis. Since then people, have tried to explain away and defend the Onion even though the Onion apologized.  It's really unfathomable to me. 

I have investigated child sexual abuse for 20 years.  In those years, children have referred to the vagina by every word you can think of.  Not once in over 500 and approaching 1000 interviews, has a child referred to the vagina as "cunt".  

Coochie, pocketbook, sea shell, woowoo, hoohoo, private, front butt, cookie, 'gina, geegee, hootchie, pee spot, pee pee, vagina. Every word you can think of I've heard from children, yet never "cunt".  That's because despite what Jezebel contributor Katie J. M. Baker may write, "cunt" IS a bad word.  

It's a word so loaded that people who sexually abuse children don't use it.  Let that sink in....

When  you factor in the race issue with calling a 9 year old black girl "cunt", even in purported jest, the word "cunt" takes on the same power as the word "nigger" (hereafter referred to as n-word).  It's that vile. It's so vile that that it should never be used.  

People who throw around the word "cunt" don't deserve our time any more than people who casually use the  n-word.  

My wife and I have two daughters aged 12 and 6.  They can be at turns precocious, naughty, bitchy (12 year old LOL), and deserving of discipline.  I have news for anybody defending the word "cunt", if you call either of our girls that, you better call a mother fucking ambulance. 

So I'm terribly sorry if I call out people like Katie Baker and anybody else who thinks calling kids "cunt" is satire.  You're wrong. It's also clear that you have no idea what power certain words have. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Absent" Mindedness


On Friday, President Obama gave a speech in Chicago regarding a myriad of issues including gun violence, educational opportunity, bringing people out of poverty and moving the country forward.  It was a sweeping speech that touched on many of the same themes that he discussed in the State of the Union.

Unfortunately, a few members of the pundit class on the left, most notably Melissa Harris-Perry, for whom I have a great deal of respect, took exception  to a portion of the speech that spoke about absentee fathers.  Saying in a tweet:

"Sigh...the fatherhood thing is distressing for me President Obama. I know you don't mean to say single moms cause gun violence, but..."

Now this came around 10 minutes into a thirty minute speech and the President was indeed lamenting  that his father was absent, but in no way was he blaming single mothers for poverty and gun violence.  Here's the actual quote from the speech:

Now, that starts at home. There’s no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families -- which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood. (Applause.) Don’t get me wrong -- as the son of a single mom, who gave everything she had to raise me with the help of my grandparents, I turned out okay. (Applause and laughter.) But -- no, no, but I think it’s -- so we’ve got single moms out here, they’re heroic in what they’re doing and we are so proud of them. (Applause.) But at the same time, I wish I had had a father who was around and involved. Loving, supportive parents -- and, by the way, that’s all kinds of parents -- that includes foster parents, and that includes grandparents, and extended families; it includes gay or straight parents. (Applause.)*

That passage in no way demonizes single mothers nor does it say that single parenting is the cause of gun violence. It speaks a truth that many don't want to acknowledge.  Two supportive parents do make a difference in a child's life.  Single mothers are heroic. There is no mistaking that, but I just don't see that passage as blaming single mothers for gun violence.  In fact it acknowledges all different sorts of parenting as being important. 

On today's show, Ms. Harris-Perry and her panel had a lengthy discussion of her tweet and the response it got.  They also discussed the idea of government wanting people to be married.  If you read the President's words on the issue, again from the speech, you'll see he said government should work to make easier for people who want to get married, to do so. 

So we should encourage marriage by removing the financial disincentives for couples who love one another but may find it financially disadvantageous if they get married.

He also spoke specifically to absent fathers by saying "Because what makes you a man is not the ability to make a child, it’s the courage to raise one. "  Raising one doesn't mean marriage or cohabitation, it means supporting your child when and how you can.  Many fathers can't support their child financially to the extent they want to but they can always be present emotionally for their kids.  

The thing that I think is missing from the discussion as the panel tried to parse out words and accuse the President of "Daddy Politics", is that absentee parenting is not just a daddy issue, a race issue or a socio-economic issue.  

Many of you know that I investigate child and abuse and neglect.  I've been in social work for 25 years and almost 20 of them have been spent in the  trenches seeing first hand the devastation of absentee parents on children.  President Obama was speaking of fathers who were absent physically, emotionally and financially.  Children are just as devastated by parents who are physically present but otherwise absent due to alcohol, drugs, domestic abuse, and mental illness. 

I've got cases on my desk right now that encompass all of those issues.  My colleagues and I go into poor neighborhoods where crime is high due to poverty and absent parents. We also go to middle class and wealthy neighborhoods where children are harmed by the 'present' but absent parents that I mentioned above. 

While single mother's in and of themselves don't cause gun violence and there are thousands of cases single mothers raising wonderfully well adjusted children, there are also thousands of cases in which children of single parents do fall into poverty and crime.  There are thousands of cases where addiction, violence and mental illness distance a parent from  their children.  

There are no easy answers to ending gun violence and raising people out of poverty.  There is hard work to be done in a comprehensive way, which is what I heard from the President on Friday.  To accuse President Obama of blaming it all on single mother's and his own "daddy issues" does a grave disservice to his message.   If you're looking for people to jump on that bandwagon, count me absent. 



Friday, February 8, 2013

Misogyny: According to Jim.

Today, Jim Belushi, 'actor' 'comedian' and budding relationship advice expert, penned a column for the for the Chicago Sun-Times about the roles of men and women, and "what women secretly want".  To say it was the a pile of misogynist dog shit an insult to dog shit.

Now, I never had the good fortune of having my superstar brother overdose and die thus propelling me to a career, but I have been in relationships with women for most of my adult life.  Frankly I think that qualifies me to respond to Belushi's advice.

His opening salvo:

Some men today have turned into women; they are constantly discussing their problems. And women reinforce it by telling men, over and over, that that’s what they want: someone who is cooperative, fair, considerate, wants to share and have discussions about things, saying, “Let’s work this out.”

So, discussing your problems makes you a "woman", as does being cooperative, fair and considerate. Wanting to work things out is womanly too apparently.  Way to gender stereotype dude, please proceed: 

But here’s the truth. Say you’re in a bar. Some guy starts talking to your girl, and she says, “I’m with somebody.” The guy calls her the “b” word. So you go, “Hey man, that’s not appropriate, that’s really hurtful, you shouldn’t talk to people like that, that’s not how community works,” I guarantee on the drive home your wife will say, “Why didn’t you stand up for me?” And your answer is, “I thought you liked it when people discussed their feelings. Discuss.”

I've actually had such exchanges in bars three times over some dude hitting on my girlfriend or spouse.  I pretty much handled by saying "that's not appropriate, knock it off".  On the ride home my girlfriend or spouse said something to the effect of  "what a fucking jerk, I'm glad you spoke up".  Then we went home and had lots of sex, but I digress.

Belushi goes on to describe an exchange he had at the House of Blues when a guy was getting handsie with his then girlfriend:

He put his hand on her shoulder again, and I come over to him. I said, laughing, “Hey, you touch her one more time and I’m going to beat you.” He laughed, thought I was joking. I said, “No, not a joke my friend. Keep your damn hands off my girl.” 

He continues, describing the exchange with his girlfriend on the way home:

That’s not how you handle differences. He was just being friendly. We were just talking. I can handle myself.” And I said, “If anyone ever touches you like that, I will beat them.” She said, “You are an animal.” I said, “Yes, I am. You entered the animal kingdom when you entered my life.”

Yes, I am a manly animal!  Here me roar.  What a fucking joke. Threatening to beat somebody up doesn't make you tough.  It makes you an entitled prick.  Treating your girlfriend like property isn't a long term strategy for success in a relationship.  

He then offers this as a penultimate paragraph of penis-ness. 

I believe men in relationships should constantly make sure that their wives feel pretty and loved. Our wives don’t want best friends. They say they do, but no, they want men. They want a husband. They want a father for their children. They want a lover. Given the opportunity, every woman will try to make their man into their best friend, like their cousin, their buddy. And that kind of thinking slowly takes the edge out of the relationship.

In what world can being your spouse's best friend be mutually exclusive from being a good husband and father? 

My wife and I are about to celebrate 10 years as a couple on May 12. Dated 3 years, married for going on 7.  We've been through many trials and tribulations.  We've both grown individually and as a couple. We are best friends, and not surprisingly that enhances our relationship. I try to make my wife feel pretty and loved (on that I agree with Belushi), but it's not from being a pretend tough guy.

What Jimbo fails to see in his defense of the douche-ly arts, this is 2013, women are tough and accomplished and can hold their own with men, and always have been. Look at the women I live with.  Look at the women I'm friends with both on Twitter and in real life. All of them have a grit and spine that I admire the hell out of. 

This is not to say that I won't kick a motherfucker's ass if he crosses my wife or girls, but I don't walk around like the lord of the manor to remind poor little wifey that she has a protector. 

Belushi's brand of faux tough guy bullshit is slowly becoming a thing of the past, much like his career. So tonight curl up with your spouse, touch him or her by being kind, communicative and respectful.  Be a man who's not afraid to be these things and you won't lose the edge to your relationship.  

You can thank me later.