Friday, March 1, 2019

A guide for using "I have black friends" as proof that you're not racist.

The amazing theater that was Wednesday's Michael Cohen hearing hit a few rough spots, courtesy of congressman Mark Meadows continued attempts to prove that neither he or the president are racists. Meadows first mistake was bringing out a black woman who works for the Trump administration to prove that Trump isn't racist. 

And like a lot of people who do a racism and want to defend themselves rather than just apologize for their misstep, Meadows refuted the claim that the black employee was just a "prop" by telling the court that he has black nieces and nephews. I laughed out loud. 

The only time one should use the "But I have black friend, family, etc." defense when they're accused of being racist is if their goal is to illicit laughter.


It seems, on the surface, to be a somewhat reasonable defense. Would a racist be friends with a black person? Would a racist hire a black person? Would a racist be nice to a black person?

The answer to all three questions is "yes".

You can absolutely befriend and like a person of color and still think their race is "less than" your own. You can employ black people and believe that they're competent at their jobs, but still beneath you. It is not uncommon for racists to have exceptions for people of color who they know personally. It's a "well, you're ok, but the rest of the black people are <insert a racism>. Black people know this, and I've learned this from them. Twenty years ago, I probably would have pulled the same defense. 

The problem is, if you can't pull out your token black friends, family, and employees to refute the dreaded "you're racist" accusation, how do you respond?

Acknowledge that you did a racism.

Apologize for doing a racism.

Ask questions to understand why what you did or said was racist.

Worry more about the person's whose feelings you've hurt than your own pride.

Learn more about racism.

Stop doing racisms.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Why I won't be participating in the 2020 presidential election

First, calm down. I'm voting.

Everyone can agree that the 2016 election was a disaster of almost comical proportions. It was a disaster for the Democrats and Republicans alike. It was a disaster for ordinary citizen's relationships with their family, friends, co-workers, and online acquaintances. The racism, sexism, and general hatred for each other has not even remotely started to subside since we watched (mostly in horror)  Trump be sworn in as our next president.

I was extremely active on social media during the election ("yay, Bernie!", "boo, Trump!", "sigh, Hillary!"). I shared recycled memes uplifting my candidate of choice and tearing down the ones I didn't like. I commented on other people's posts with "you're wrong!" and "you're right!" when (what I felt was) necessary. I was really unhappy during this time. Really, really unhappy. And scared. And angry. The specific reasons for my unhappiness will be in my memoir that I will almost certainly never write.

Not too long after the election, I took a big step back from social media and politics for quite awhile. I spent months completely unaware of what was going on in the world around me. And that was ok. The world was surprisingly still able to continue revolving without my input or awareness. I am not very powerful or important in the grand scheme of things (or even in the minor scheme of things).

Since then, I've occasionally ventured timidly back into the cesspool of social media (and real media) only to find that the pool is still too diseased for me to stay afloat. So I leave again, and live a life of relative peace for awhile. When I am active, I stay away from politics 99% of the time. I try to avoid political posts, though I admit that I'm not always able to resist sharing some things that people (Trump supporters) may find offensive. For example:

In my defense, this was an epic insult that would have greatly amused me no matter who the target was.

So what's my problem (you may be asking)?

I can't stand how we treat each other. I can't stand the insults. I can't stand reading the same arguments over and over. I can't stand the entitlement that a lot of people have that leads them to feel other people had/have a responsibility to vote the way they want/wanted them to. I can't stand the hatred towards third-party voters. I can't stand the hatred for non-voters. People are still grumbling about the 2016 election at the same time Democratic primary candidates for 2020 are being announced. All signs are pointing to 2020 being even worse than 2016.

No thank you.

People don't go to comment sections of posts to have their minds changed. They go there to hurt other people's feelings (both with and without intention). Insulting a person's candidate of choice, or the person themselves has zero value. It accomplishes nothing. Berating someone who didn't vote for Hillary because of her ties to Wall St. (for example) is never going to result in that person changing their minds, agreeing with you, and voting for who you want them to in the future.

I am one person. One voter. I can't change people's mind with a Facebook meme. I probably can't even change someone's mind in a civil face-to-face conversation.

It has taken me about 2 years to evolve (or devolve, depending on how you look at it) to my current political stance. Which is as follows:

  1. Your vote is your vote. No one else can claim your vote.
  2. I do not think you are racist and or sexist if you voted for Trump.
  3. I do think that if you are racist and/or sexist and happened to have voted, it was probably for Trump
  4. There is a difference between a Trump voter and a Trump supporter, and I am no longer comfortable demonizing either as a matter of course.
  5. I regret being unnecessarily critical of Hillary.
  6. I forgive you for being unnecessarily critical of Bernie. 
  7. Everyone (should) have the right to vote.
  8. Everyone has the right not to vote.
  9. I believe you have the right to complain about our government even if you didn't vote.
  10. I believe the media is largely responsible for the hate on both sides, because it is profitable.
  11. I believe our politicians indirectly encourage us to treat each other like enemies, instead of neighbors.
  12. I believe our politicians have a responsibility to lead by example and treat each other with respect.
  13. I believe that we're all more alike than we think.
  14. I believe that we're all capable of lifting each other up, instead of tearing each other down.
  15. I believe that everyone should take time to breath, watch some Mr. Rogers, and remember that we're all in this together.
So with these tenets, I am declaring myself free from the politics game. I will continue to vote because I personally feel it is my responsibility. I will continue to donate money to causes that help people. I will continue to donate my time to causes that help people, when I can. 

But the rest of it? Game over, man.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Why I always believe rape victims

On October 31st, 1997, I was raped. I cannot prove it. I cannot provide physical evidence that it happened. I apologize to the internet jury that the only thing I have to offer is my story, which is linked at the end of this blog.

When a woman comes forward accusing someone of raping them, I assume they are telling the truth. Getting hard data reports of rape is difficult, given that roughly 70% of rapes go unreported, but for the 30% of men and women who have the strength to go through the ordeal of reporting their assault, it's estimated 2-10% are false claims. In this scenario, if there are 1000 rapes, and only 30% are reported, 6-30 of those claims might be false. If there are 1000 rapes, and 100% are reported, 0.6-3  of those claims might be false. 

So yes, false claims happen. And the people who have done this has made it possible to accuse every. single. woman. who comes forward with a rape allegation of being a liar. Interestingly enough, this doesn't seem to be as big of a problem for people who report other types of crimes, despite the statistics of false claims being pretty similar:

"The rates for false allegations are no higher than those reported in other categories of crime, yet the victims of other crimes (such as theft or burglary) are not so routinely treated with suspicion as are the victims of sexual violence" - Independent
I would have found it odd that when my dad had his GPS stolen from his car for people to assume he was lying. That the internet would have torn him apart, doxxed him, accused him trying to ruin someone's life, and just wanting attention, money, fame, glory....all the things that happen to every rape victim who speaks out publicly.

Of course, rape is one of the hardest things to prove in a court of law, so if you are the type to have a strong belief in our justice system when it suits your agenda, you can sit back and confidently talk about due process, evidence, and "innocent until proven guilty" and not feel like a complete asshole for not believing women.

In fact, the way our justice system handles rape cases probably helps to propagate the misconception that false rape claims are practically an epidemic.

Graphic demonstrating that out of 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. Out of every 1,000 rapes, 310 are reported to the police, 57 reports lead to arrest, 13 cases get referred to prosecutors, 7 cases will lead to a felony conviction, 6 rapists will be incarcerated.

The page I got this image from goes on to compare the stats on other types of crimes (robberies, assault & battery), and not surprising (to me), justice is served far less in rape cases than other crimes. 

So yes, I do, by default, believe a woman when she goes public with a rape claim - it is far more statistically likely that she's telling the truth than lying. When Bill Cosby's first accuser came forward, I was devastated. I loved him - I grew up with him, he was everyone's favorite TV dad in 80's and also did some killer stand-up. But I believed his accuser. She had to deal with a lot of abuse from the internet jury who assumed she was lying, because "c'mon! It's Bill Cosby! He's a great guy!", but we all know how that turned out. 

Since the #metoo movement, a lot of people I like have been named, and in every single case, I have believed their accuser from the start. I love(d) Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, and Chris Hardwick and definitely didn't want the accusations to be true, but I just don't look at women who do this in the same ugly light that so many other people (mostly men) do. 

70% of rapes don't get reported for many reasons, and one of them (and probably the biggest since the advent of social media) is being judged by the court of public opinion. The same people who attack rape victims by calling them opportunists also criticize them for not reporting the rape immediately. It's paradoxical, and leaves no scenario where the woman can actually feel safe reporting her rape.

Part of  why I hold these views is of course the fact that I am also a rape victim. When a woman comes forward with details about a sexual assault, I can relate. I can also relate when keyboard thugs go after her with the "where's the proof??" nonsense, because I never could have proved my rape in a court of law. I "may" have had a small chance of getting justice if I had acted immediately, but I didn't, and for same reasons millions of other women don't. So when you (general you), attack women who come forward, you may as well be talking to me. You may as well be calling me a liar, an opportunist, and a fame whore. If my rapist was in the public eye, and I came forward 21 years after the fact with my story, I'd be treated exactly the same way as Christine Blasey Ford. 

If you choose to read my rape story and you are the type to instantly assume women like Dr. Ford are liars, it would be dishonest of you to believe me, even if you know me. If your attitude is always "innocent until proven guilty" when the victim isn't someone you know, you're being a hypocrite if you instantly believe your daughter, mother, sister, friend's stories. However, if you do believe my story because you know me, maybe it would be more practical and helpful to society to withhold judgement of someone you don't know in the future.

Disclaimer: Obviously there are triggers in my story. It is mildly graphic, and brutally honest, and was completely draining to put into words. 

My Rape Story

Monday, March 26, 2018

Some of the good guys with guns are rather terrifying

If you've been on the internet this past week, you've probably seen this image:

It shows school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez ripping up a shooting target on the left (true) and a Photoshopped version showing her ripping up a copy of the Bill of Rights (obviously not true).

I had not, until today, seen the image on the right shared as "fact". Here is a sampling of what some gun enthusiasts said about Emma:

He misspelled "ho".

He's threatening a teenage girl with violence.

He is also threatening a teenage girl with violence

This gentleman called Emma a "failed abortion"

The haulocost is different than the holocaust because of the spelling.

Get it? Because she has short hair? It's funny.

Thanks for the update.

The sentiment of "I don't care if it's real or not! I'm outraged!" was somewhat pervasive in this thread. 

Another transgender joke! 

Yet another man threatening a teenage girl with violence. 

This woman would like to have Emma Gonzalez, who survived a school shooting, lynched for not actually ripping up the Bill of Rights.

Another "it doesn't matter if it's not real" rant, this time with libtards.

Ok, so I keep hearing threats of a "civil war" in response to guns being "taken away", or the idea of 45 being impeached. Who are the two sides in this "civil war"? The gun-enthusiasts against the sensible-gun-law-enthusiasts? The latter is not going to fight you. We wouldn't need to. That's why we have such a massive military (unless you think the bulk of the military would defy orders and join you, in which case I'm guessing you've never served in the military). 

Here's the thing, gun enthusiasts. When you insist  that you're a "good guy with a gun" to the point where you're practically frothing at the mouth and saying we should be damn grateful that you're toting your guns around Kroger and Chipotle, all the while acting like an internet thug and threatening the life of a school shooting victim, I really need you to shut the fuck up and just eat your burrito. 

Emma survived something truly horrific, and it's something that will effect her for the rest of her life. She made a choice to fight back, and I can say with some certainty that I probably wouldn't have had the strength to do the same thing (and no, that doesn't make her a paid actor - it just means that there's no one "right way" to respond to trauma). Do you actually think this is how she wants to be spending the rest of her time in high school? Do you think she wouldn't trade her new-found celebrity in for the 17 lives lost in that shooting in a heartbeat? I don't care if people are annoyed that "kids are making the laws now", but to see this much disrespect towards someone who has experienced something no kid in this country should ever have to go through is perverse. 

The most traumatic thing the assholes in these comments have probably seen is the sweaty mess left inside their toilet after their last trip to Chipotle.

Friday, February 16, 2018

I just wanted to read about cats in Turkey

In a deliberate act of self-preservation, I have been very out of touch with current events for the past several months. Realizing that I don't (currently) have the stomach for activism or the ability to deal with the state of this country has resulted in me living a life that's almost completely free of the internet. Yes, I have the luxury to ignore literally everything. Yes, I feel guilty about it. I do what I can with my pocketbook, but beyond that I've basically been in hiding off and on since late 2016.

Yesterday morning, Madscutter sent me this:

Cat: No f**k given

I wanted to learn more about this cat who gives zero fucks, and someone in the comment section was actually able to identify the location (Turkey!) and the cat. Someone else linked to an article in the Guardian about Turkey's overall relationship with cats (it is grand), and it made me smile.

I glanced at a list of other popular articles in the sidebar and saw a headline about the Florida school shooting. My reaction was:

*heavy sigh*


Then I thought about how different my reaction to this was from my reaction to Columbine. Like many people, I'll never forget watching the news about Columbine and having no words. No one did. This was unprecedented. It was unbelievable. I couldn't really comprehend what I was seeing, because it made no sense. The nation mourned that tragedy together.

Afterwards, the gun laws stayed the same, and the schools responded by widening their "zero tolerance" to include disciplining kids for doing anything even vaguely violent. The murderous snowmen my brother used to doodle during class in the 80s would earn him a suspension now. Repeating the most famous quote from "The Princess Bride" ("My name is Inigo Montoya...") did result in my son being disciplined for behaving in a "threatening manner".

But we kept the guns. We kept the actual danger. In fact, we increased the danger by buying more and more guns. We are at the point that there are more guns than there are people in this country. When I google information on gun stats in this country, I don't bother include "United States" in my search. I don't need to. Most other countries don't have a gun problem. The U.S. is one of only four countries where the right to gun ownership is guaranteed by the constitution, and we have the most lax laws of the four (Mexico, Haiti, and Guatemala are the other 3).

The rest of the world thinks we're fucking nuts. I can't disagree.

Wednesday's mass murder hit me harder than usual. Instead of getting tangled up in the circular meaningless arguments about whether it's a gun problem, mental health problem, or both, I couldn't stop thinking about the 17 sets of parents who lost the biggest part of their world in seconds as a result of one person's indiscriminate rampage.

Then I thought about the survivors, and how they will have to live with this trauma for the rest of their lives.

We do have a mental health problem in this country.

We do have a gun problem in this country.

Every mass murder produces hundreds of new mental health patients suffering from PTSD.

Last night I cried for the victims, their families, and the survivors of the mass shooting. I usually don't. We're so used to this happening in our country, that I'm numb to it all. I don't know why this one was different for me, but it was. Maybe it's because I don't think I could survive something like this happening to my son. Madscutter agreed that it would ruin his life as well. But all we seem to be able to do as a country is fight about it, and change nothing.

Note for Millennials: 

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry the older generations (Boomers & Gen-Xers) can't figure out how to keep you safe in your schools. I'm sorry that our government is so corrupt that passing any sensible gun law is impossible because your lawmakers rely too much on receiving money from the NRA to fund their campaigns. I'm sorry that our government responds to the mental health crisis by making cuts to the programs that may actually help. I'm sorry the citizens of the older generations aren't willing to have their tax dollars go to these programs. I'm sorry that a common response from older people about these mass murders is to cluck their tongues and say "nothing could have prevented this". There is no excuse. We have failed you.

Note for NRA-Owned Politicians:

There were several students in that Florida school who responded to your "thoughts and prayers" platitudes with anger, disgust, and demand for action. Do you realize that every time something like this happens, more and more young people get more and more angry? They're already yelling at you on Twitter. Can you imagine what they're going to do to you when they're old enough to vote and run for office?

Personally, I can't wait.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Party loyalists make me tired.

I've never paid as close attention to party politics as I did during the 2016 election. While I've always considered myself a Democrat, I've never actually given a shit about the party itself or the loyalty to it that I'm apparently supposed to have. After the primaries, I decided that I can no longer call myself a member of any political party (Ohio doesn't allow me to make it official, so you'll have to take my word for it). These days I call myself an Independent Socialist, but this is just a label, and it's not important. My opinions are mine - not some party's that I'm blindly following.

Party loyalty, in my opinion, is a great way to prevent rational discussion and understanding of "the other guy's" viewpoint. For the past several months, I've observed such an insane amount of hypocrisy from both Republicans and Democrats that can only be explained as a complete unwillingness to put country (or more specifically, Americans) before party.

When a politician from "their party" does something questionable/objectionable/wrong, a party loyalist will always find some way to defend them. The most frequent and by far laziest defense is "but the other guy did it too". This is done to prevent having to admit that someone in your party made a mistake. I don't understand blind loyalism. Bernie was my candidate of choice in 2016, and I readily admit that he was not a perfect candidate, nor did I necessarily agree with his entire platform. I voted for Obama twice and don't regret it, but he absolutely did things that pissed me off. This is ok. This is normal. This is healthy. You're not admitting weakness by acknowledging that another human being is imperfect.

Every single politician is flawed in some way. Every single politician makes bad choices. Every single politician misses the mark on occasion. If I'm talking to a Trump supporter who rabidly defends his many trips to Mar-a-Lago but despised Obama for taking some golf trips, there's no real conversation to be had, because this isn't a rational stance. I'm tossing around the idea of starting a series called "Reasons to shut the fuck up". It would be all about the endless examples of hypocrisy from both sides; a situation which leads to fuck all getting accomplished in what is currently the dumpster fire that is our country."

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trump supporters: why u mad, bros?

Dear Trump Supporters,

I'm having a hard time understanding how angry you are right now. You're angry every time Trump is criticized in any way. You're angry when you feel someone is being "disrespectful" to Trump. The keyboard warriors among you are ready to defend your new leader at a moment's notice, with your very compelling suggestions to "get over it" and "give Trump a chance!".


Why do you care?

You do realize that you won, right? Like, completely won? Republicans literally control everything right now. How are you not excited, deliriously happy, and still celebrating the extremely surprising results of our last election?

When Obama won in '08 and '12, I was happy and relieved. I did not care that a lot of people were furious and scared. I did not need Obama-haters to have a sudden change of heart and "get in line", nor did I expect them to. We're not North Korea - support for our leadership is not compulsory. Do you actually expect everyone to support Trump? Do you realize that will absolutely never, ever happen, very much in the same vein that it never happened for Obama? Our recent history has shown that the severe division between the major two parties will continue to prevent any chance for a middle ground, and a president like Trump is not likely to do anything but further widen that division.

Had Hillary won this election, I would have been relieved. If Bernie had won (my god, can you even imagine??), I'd still be celebrating, and millions of people would be showing him a tremendous amount of disrespect, as is their right. My joy would not have been diminished by the very predictable response from the right.

So why is yours? Why aren't you ignoring people like me the way I ignored people like you when Obama won? Didn't you get everything you wanted? Or is that the problem?

You're not getting what you wanted, are you?