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Stand Your Ground

Everybody is talking about the the murder of Trayvon Martin. I for one, am overjoyed that the public is paying attention. But as with most things, there’s an aspect of the way this story is being reported that is escalating my already overactive bitchiness.

The reporting on this story suggests that George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested because of the heinous “stand your ground” law that was passed in Florida in 2005. That’s just flatly not true. George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested because the police department in charge of the investigation, didn’t care to investigate. Whether their incompetence was racially motivated or not, is something that will eventually come out (I hope).

Here’s the deal with “stand your ground”. It applies to situations where a person is confronted with mortal danger from another person. Normally, when you’re confronted with a mortal threat, it is your duty to do everything you can before using mortal force yourself. This includes running away. The “stand your ground” law removes that obligation to flee, but it doesn’t remove the requirement that you be confronted with mortal danger. In other words, if someone is waving a butcher knife in your face, and you happen to be armed with a gun, you can shoot them without first trying to get away. It does not give you the right to shoot someone who is waving a bag of fucking skittles in your face. Skittles are not a mortal threat so this law doesn’t apply to such a situation. At this stage in this story, “stand your ground” does not apply.

I bring up that it doesn’t apply yet because I’m concerned that focusing on it now will have two potentially adverse affects on the eventual outcome if this situation. The first thing I’m concerned with, is that talking about the law deflects from the inaction on the part of the police force. We need to stay focused on their actions and the motivations behind those actions. If their actions were a product of inherent racism, we need to make sure to expose that. Secondly, I’m worried that going after “stand your ground” now leaves advocates for it’s repeal open to criticism from the NRA and the politicians they’ve bought. The criticism will be framed by accusing liberals of wanting to repeal a law that we never wanted in the first place. As I said, this law doesn’t play into this story yet. The time will inevitably come to scrutinize this law, but it’s too soon.

“Stand your ground” was cited by the Sanford police department as being the reason why for why they just accepted Zimmerman’s claim of self defense. They’re lying to deflect. We need to keep advocating for an investigation of the police force instead of focusing in on the law. If you’re running around talking to your friends about how this law led to Trayvon Martin’s death, you would be wrong. And you would be wrong in a way that allows for proponents of this law to accuse you of pushing this agenda.

Don’t worry, you will have the chance to shine a light on this law. That opportunity will come if the police stick to their initial excuse of using this law not to do their job, or when the defense will invariably use this law as part of their strategy. I’m not sure the police will stick to their story. The backers of these laws (yes, they’re trying to pass them all across the country) must by now, see that letting the police use it as their excuse jeopardizes their precious neanderthal law. I don’t believe they will allow that to happen. But I do believe that Zimmerman’s defense attorney will use it.

My point here is that you should stick to the facts when discussing this case. Making false claims about how this law played into what happened opens you up for legitimate criticism. We can win this debate by focusing in on the facts at hand. We risk losing it when we distort the facts.

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The Game

One of my favorite movies from David Fincher, but that’s not what I’m writing about. I’ve been stewing on something for a week now, and I’ve finally processed all of the layers of bitchy that the issue has evoked in me so I’m ready to write about it. Last week Ken Mehlman, the gay former chairman of the RNC, apologized for his part in advancing the (then) particularly vitriolic attack on gays in America. Here’s what he said,

As I’ve been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things I’ve learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved. I apologize to them and tell them I am sorry. While there have been recent victories, this could still be a long struggle in which there will be setbacks, and I’ll do my part to be helpful.

To which I immediately said, “Fuck you, asshole. It’s too late”. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my loathing for Ken Mehlman and his apology are much more nuanced than a simple “fuck you” can convey. His apology actually pisses me off in eighteen different ways. Let me just illustrate a few.

Let’s begin with the fact that I believe his apology is fundamentally rooted in his desire to live a happy life as an openly gay man. It’s hard to do that when you’re reviled by the gay community. If you want to be more open minded than I by giving him the benefit on that one, go ahead. My other reasons are far more damning.

The next thing that makes me want to rip his miserable fucking head off, is his anemic ability to empathize with people unless he finally experiences the cause of their pain firsthand. Better late than never, I guess but this makes me want to do a number of things to him.

I want to send him to Baghdad to chat with a few hundred thousand Iraqi families so that he can empathize with them by fully appreciating how badly we decimated their country. I want him to experience the tears of a person who lost their entire family for no goddamned good reason.

Then I want him to spend a couple of years at Walter Reed talking to horribly injured soldiers returning from the wars that his party started for no fucking good reason. I’m hoping that will impart some empathy for them in him. He’ll also have to visit with families of dead soldiers, in an effort to eventually garner some empathy for the state of their lives for the past ten years.

After that, I want him to stay with our returning soldiers until they’re able to find a job in this shitty economy that his president created. I want him to go with them when they apply for food stamps, unemployment insurance, medicaid, and whatever else they need to apply for in order to survive. Maybe then, he will develop some empathy for people that have to swallow their pride resorting to turning to the government for help. This will be awesome, since it’s a twofer. He might develop some empathy for the soldiers we throw away after we’re done with them, and for hard working Americans that have been reduced to depending on government help. Maybe he, unlike his fellow republican brethren, will finally understand that they’re not lazy parasites.

If Ken Mehlman is the type of person that needs to see suffering firsthand in order to feel anything for the sufferers, then I hope that my plan for him will eventually turn him into a decent human being.

The next thing that  really pissed me off about his apology is that I realized that for him, politics is just a game to be won. A game in which actual people don’t suffer consequences as a result of what their government is doing to them. It seriously takes a special kind of asshole to live life in this way. Let me clarify what I mean when I say special. I mean special, in relative proportion to most humans on this planet. I don’t believe that most of us are special in this way. I don’t mean special in relative proportion to politicians. Because among politicians, viewing politics this way is probably pretty normal. My theory is that a good portion of the special assholes among us are drawn to politics like moths to a flame. It takes a special kind of psychopathy to shut the victims of one’s actions out of one’s mind. Ken Mehlman is definitely that kind of special psychopath.

That brings me to my hopes and dreams for Ken Mehlman. I hope that Ken Mehlman dies alone in a cold, sterile hospital room knowing that his partner is a few hundred feet away from him, but can’t be with him to hold his hand in his final moments because his partner isn’t considered a family member. Yes, I want Ken Mehlman to experience what so many gay people have had to experience, as a result of Ken Mehlman’s victory in the game. I want Ken Mehlman to die childless because he couldn’t adopt any kids. And I want him to anguish over his loneliness in his final moments of life in that hospital room. I want Ken Mehlman to soak up as much empathy as humanly possible.

Let me add that I’m not gay. I’m just not special in that way that Ken Mehlman is. I have the capacity for empathy toward groups to which I don’t belong. I think I despise Ken more than anything, for evoking so much hate for him from me. It is not in my nature to despise people in the way that I despise Ken Mehlman. But every once in a while, someone is so completely loathsome, that I just want them to get what they deserve from the universe.

We are ultimately going to win the game that Ken Mehlman played. It makes me sick to my stomach to know that he’s going to benefit from our victory. Die alone, Ken. It’s the least you can do to even the score.

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Pro Life, Really

I’ve spent the last few weeks listening to the right wing blather on about their so called pro choice views. I’ve watched as they have passed (or tried to) anti-choice legislation all across the country. Something just occurred to me; they need to put up or shut up. Being pro life doesn’t begin and end at opposing abortion. No, there’s much more to it than that.

If being anti abortion is the totality of your advocacy for life, then we need to start referring to that opinion as “pro breathing”. Being pro life should be about advocating for a life. When people talk about their lives, they’re not referring to their ability to breathe. They’re usually talking about their emotional entanglements, professional situation, financial standing, family, and about a million other things. As a legislator, if you’re not working to increase the stability in these areas for your constituents, and your “pro life” advocacy begins and ends at preventing abortions, then you’re not pro life. You’re a simpleton and an asshat.

Let me give you some examples. You can’t be anti-union and pro life. If your legislative agenda is to neuter unions, then your goal is to lower wages for workers. Lower wages equals a shittier life, which is the whole second half of your “pro life” slogan. Lower wages increase the necessity for two wage earners in a household. Two wage earners means that there’s nobody at home to raise and create a meaningful life for your kids. We used to be able to raise kids on the wages of one parent. We can’t do that anymore because wages are either flat (if you’re lucky enough to be highly skilled) or going down. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but we’ve got a generation of assholes on our hands now. That’s right, America is raising a generation of self entitled, spoiled, rude, fucking assholes. I’m of course, not referring to your kids. Your kids are fabulous. It’s everyone else’s kids that are assholes. They’re assholes because no one has the time or the energy to raise them properly. Kids need attention and guidance. They don’t receive the attention required to turn them into thoughtful human beings when both parents have to work, just to feed them. Here’s a quote from Rick Santorum, circa 1994,

“What we have is moms raising children in single-parent households simply breeding more criminals,” he said. When Santorum wasn’t comparing single mothers to animals, he still pressed the issue of out-of-wedlock births and crime. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1994 that “we will never solve the crime problem unless we solve the welfare problem. They are deeply intertwined.” […]

That’s a pretty fucked up thing for Rick Santorum to say. Why the emphasis on Rick Santorum in that sentence? Because I would find that statement significantly less offensive if it came from a legislator who spends their career working on ways to improve people’s lives, thereby creating more stability and decreasing the number of “broken” homes. Financial woes are a big factor in driving divorce rates up.

You can’t be “pro life” if you’re pro cutting taxes for the wealthiest among us, while raising “fees” for everyone else in order to make up for that revenue loss. That’s how republicans like to do it. The fee for me to get my first driver’s license was $15. The fee to renew my driver’s license this year will be $160.  They love fees, but “hate” taxes. Sixty years ago, US corporations paid 40% of the total tax revenue collected in America. Today, they pay 9%. You wanna guess who pays 42% of the revenue collected?

This didn’t happen accidentally. That happened because of actions taken by our legislators. If you’re a legislator that espouses pro life views while enabling this to happen, then you’re a lying sack of shit, and you’re anti-life.

If you’re anti-contraception and anti-choice, your goal is clearly to punish women for having sex, and you’re definitely not pro-life. But you’re definitely a fucking moron since, in your quest to punish women, you forget that you’re also pummeling men. Nothing erodes the self esteem of a man as effectively as feeling inadequate. And nothing makes a man feel more inadequate than not being able to support his family. Let’s not forget that the GOP isn’t taking a stand against giving single women access to contraception. They’re taking a stand against denying any woman access to contraception, which diminishes the notion of family planning. Sorry couples, you must accept that every time you have sex, you may end up with a child, whether you’re in a position to have one or not. So men, you’d better get to working harder and earning more if you want to hang onto your dignity and masculinity. And if you’re a man whose wife suffers from endometriosis, you’re going to have to work extra hard to pay for your wife’s birth control pills because if you don’t, those ovarian tumors might make it impossible for her to ever have your kids.     

I am totally fucking fed up with anti-life advocates calling themselves pro-life, simply because they work toward making abortion a nearly impossible procedure to have. People don’t choose to have abortions because they’re fun. They choose to have abortions because circumstances make it too difficult to actually have that child. These so called pro-lifers need to stop pretending that women have abortions on a whim, or simply because they’re assholes that enjoy having their uteri vacuumed out for kicks. That is a bullshit position taken by people that are too fucking lazy to think beyond their self-loathing fueled beliefs.

If you’re not working toward making people’s lives better so that they don’t have to choose abortion out of necessity, you can go fuck yourself. I’m sick of listening to your hypocritical bullshit. And I’m not letting you get away with referring to yourself as “pro-life” just because you’re anti-abortion. If you’re a voter who is genuinely appalled by abortion, you should be demanding the same thing I’m demanding. And if you’re not, you can go fuck yourself too.

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