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The Loss of Shame (2019): An American Fairy Tale

 

*(I feel the need to preface this story with a genuine warning.  This is one of the darkest things I have ever written, a cold, harsh, brutal tale of the here and now in the United States.  It is very vulgar, extremely violent, and deals, in a brutal manner, with several of the awful things that seem to keep happening over and over again.  If satirical cruelty on very serious issues is upsetting to you, I would advise you skip this one.  For those of you hopefully willing, please offer some feedback.  This second draft feel slightly incomplete.  Thank you for your continuing interest–)

 

“The Loss of Shame”

(2019)

 

Once upon a time people could do no wrong.  It was impossible, the complications of life exploding all around them on their tiny screens.  People could look around outside of themselves and see the mistakes only of others, their flaws in handling behavior or misunderstandings over their speech.  Nothing was ever going to be our own fault because, after all, in the age of social media it was easy to reframe and restate reality to align with how you wanted things to be (and ‘easy’ is the key word to everything in life).  Truth itself had become a controversial term because it was now accepted that this could mean many different things.  Facts no longer mattered.  Actual witnesses were immediately questionable if you didn’t want to believe whatever they saw.  Everyone had an agenda and the precarious nature of reality was now skewed, transformed into a side show of ranting carnival barkers, each trying to outsell their nearest competitor.  A cynical wave overwhelmed society and it was not just truth that was lost, but the idea of decency.  The very concept of shame.

 

On Kayla Mackenzie’s sixteenth birthday her father was killed in a car accident.  Kayla thought the man was selfish for picking that day to die.  “Why couldn’t it have happened tomorrow?” Kayla texted to Amber, the girl who for the moment was her “BFF” (later that evening Kayla would call her “a cunt,” viciously laughing with another of her momentary friends).  “I fucking hate him.”

 

Kayla’s mother, of course, was devastated, but not because she had loved her father (she hadn’t since the year after Kayla was born), but because of how much his death inconvenienced her life.  “Why did you do this to me?” her mother shouted, pounding her fists into the chilly corpse on the hospital slab.  “You fucking asshole!  All you think about is you!”

 

Her birthday almost ruined, Kayla decided to head over to Argyll’s house instead of pretending to care about her mother and brother’s tears (her brother was only twelve years old and, for some reason, still cared about their parents).  From the moment she got there Kayla was annoyed.  All these people kept trying to give her hugs, telling her how sorry they were for her loss (how had they even heard about it?  It’s not like her dad was famous, like on Instagram—wait!  Was there a YouTube video of the crash?).  Didn’t they remember that it was her birthday?  That she was sixteen?  Sweet sixteen?  Why were they all so fucking stupid and selfish?

 

On the news that day there was an endless repetition of the same story over and over again.  Some mass shooting in Texas, a crazy person screaming about Mexicans and Jews. and then randomly killing fourteen people outside of a Wal-Mart.  After the brief condolences of Argyll’s family, they returned to their excited watching of the tragedy turned into tabloid TV.  “My God,” Argyll’s’s mother said, “Why don’t those people just stay home in their shithole countries?”

 

“They better not come for my guns,” Argyll’s father barked, secretly pleased that so many people were dead.  The world was too crowded anyway.  Someday we might look back on the shooter as a hero, he almost nearly said out loud.

 

“Oh, it isn’t time to talk about that anyway.  What we need to do is pray for the victims–or at least the ones here legally.”

 

Argyll rolled her eyes and pulled Kayla’s sleeve, urging her to go downstairs to get away from her boring parents.  “That’s all they can talk about, guns and Mexicans and all that other bullshit no one cares about.  It’s all so fucking boring.”

 

Kayla had been busy texting Colton, who had actually remembered her birthday.  Colton was such a horndog.  Ava told her that he had a big dick too, so she was interested.  Kayla was smiling over the evilly flirtatious language she was using to respond: “WAT U DOIN’ LTR?  U WANT 2 CUM OVR?”  The “cum” was the key, not that she knew how to spell it any other way.  Brad was so desperate to fuck her.  Maybe tonight was the night.

 

Once downstairs Argyll started texting too, also to Brad, whom she was secretly in love with.  Argyll had been putting on weight recently and she felt like a blob all the time.  Kayla—who was definitely hot!—called her fat all the time.  She must be fat.  She already weighed almost 130 pounds!  Argyll hadn’t been eating because summer was coming soon and she didn’t want to carry around all that extra weight.  How could she fit into her new bikinis?

 

Argyll’s mother called down the stairs, clearly agitated.  “Girls?  There’s been another one!”

 

“Huh?” Argyll asked, barely listening.

 

“Another shooting!  In Florida!”  No response, a silent pause.  “They say at least seven people are dead, including a baby!”

 

“I don’t care,” Argyll said, not looking up from her phone.  After a few seconds they heard the woman padding off, murmuring something to another person who also wasn’t listening.

 

“They care about such stupid bullshit,” Argyll said, annoyed.  She had been distracted.  Brad hadn’t texted her back yet.  Did she say too much in the last one?

 

“Yeah,” Kayla said, unaware what she was agreeing with.

 

“I mean,” Argyll continued, “this sort of shit happens every day.  Who gives a fuck anymore?”

 

This briefly caught Kayla’s attention and, still not looking up from her phone, said “I never cared.  I mean, I don’t know any of those people.”

 

The girls laughed.  Kayla put her phone down, deciding to play hard to get now, cutting Brad off.  Her phone kept bonging with increasing desperation.  Argyll, meanwhile, kept glancing down at hers while the two of them tore into Amber to pass the time.  Argyll never said “Happy birthday.”

 

*

 

Her birthday ruined, Kayla finally made it home.  Her brother was there by himself, staring at the TV and watching some kid scream at the top of his voice while playing Fortnite.  She stared at the screen for a minute wondering if the shouting boy was cute and how much money he made.  She asked “Is that Savage Stan?”  Kevin glared at her like she was stupid.  “Stop talking!” he hollered.  “I’m watching this!”

 

“Where’re Mom and Dad?”

 

Kevin stopped short, glaring at her.  She was really just taunting him (what did she care where they were?)  She expected him to tell her to shut up again, which would make her laugh.

 

“Dad’s dead you stupid bitch,” Kevin said, turning back to his video without another word.  The guy on the TV was shouting, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  Yeaaaaah!  Oh my God!  Oh my God!  Yeaaaaah!  Git some!  Let’s goooooooooo!” and a few other sound effects.  Kayla shrugged and walked away.  She went downstairs into the basement and switched on the television, pulling her phone out simultaneously.  Mia had sent her a picture on Instagram of the cutest puppy riding a mangy old horse.  It was hilarious.

 

On TV someone was talking more and more about the latest shooting (apparently a third one had happened, this time at a school in New Jersey.  No one was killed in that one other than the kid who did it, although several of the students were shot).  “Boring,” Kayla said without looking up.  She switched channels, inadvertently to a weather report warning about the merging of two tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean, heading for Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and later the US.  The hysterical news woman was stating that it was going to be a “Category Five Hurricane,” which would supposedly cause “Apocalyptic devastation.”  Kayla turned the TV off and watched some videos on her phone.  When her mother got home and called for her Kayla pretended she was asleep when she heard the clump clump of the cow stomping down the stairs.

 

“Kayla?” came the quivering voice, always on the verge of tears.  When there was no response she moved closer, gently shaking her daughter.  “Kayla?  Honey?”

 

Nothing, although Kayla was getting annoyed.  Why couldn’t the bitch just leave her alone?

 

“Kayla?  Why don’t you go up—“

 

“Whaaaa?” Kayla finally said, pretending to have been jarred awake.  “Why did you wake me up?”

 

“I just thought you’d be more comfortable if—“

 

“Like I care what you think.”  Kayla turned back to her phone.

 

Her mother took a deep breath, suppressing an urge to slap Kayla.  She huffed out some air and said, “Look, I know this has been hard for all of us and I just thought that maybe we should all . . . are you even listening?” finally came out, the woman flustered and no longer able to conceal her rage.”

 

“Mmm-hmmm,” Kayla replied, typing something with the barren rapidity of a master of the abbreviated language of texting.

 

It was hours of this, the three of them stashed into their separate places, each one out in the open and yet entirely cut off from one another.  Things were better than way.  Eventually, after mom went back out and then came wobbly back home, (sometime around midnight; she had been out at a bar commiserating with a friend, secretly looking to find a man for the night.  Both efforts were futile.) her mother barked that it was a school night.  Her brother grunted and sloughed off to bed, having already fallen asleep with a game module in his hand.  Kayla did not hear, her headphones cranked to high.  It didn’t matter anyway.  No one came to get her.

 

*

 

     At school the next morning Kayla noticed about seven different protests scattered indifferently across the front lawn.  It was hard to make out what all the commotion was about, but it was obvious that most of the people weren’t taking it all that seriously.  Behind the handful of students (and few self-righteous teachers) with signs blaring something Kayla could not have cared less about, most of the kids were laughing and staring into their phones, using the chaos as an opportunity to hopefully miss class.  She saw Persephone Clark standing near the front, shouting slogans:  “No justice, no peace!” and “Make America safe again!”  She was apparently protesting guns.  Kayla rolled her eyes and walked over to where Missy and Ambrosia, the two Jennifers (one a Jenny, the other Jen), and Kayla Morgan were standing.  Three of them had their phones out, held up high, recording the scene.

 

“What’s all this about?” Kayla asked, squinting.  Oh shit, she thought to herself.  I forgot my contacts.

 

Without waiting for Missy’s answer (“They’re protesting something?”) Kayla called her mother.

 

“Mom!” she said, annoyed.  “You didn’t remind me to put my contacts in!”

 

“I—“

 

“Just bring ‘em to school and drop ‘em off in the office.

 

“But I have things I need to do.  Your father’s—“

 

“Just fucking get them here!  I need them!”  Kayla hung up.  “God!” she said to Missy.  “She’s such a fucking bitch!”  And then, “I bet she won’t even bring ‘em.  She’s such a bitch.  I mean . . . whatever!  She doesn’t care if I fail.”

 

Missy was staring into the crowd, not listening.  “OMG!” she said, tapping Kayla on the arm, almost hitting her in the face with her elbow.  “It’s Greg Masters!   Holy shit!  He’s so fucking hot!”

 

Kayla glanced over.  She wasn’t impressed.

 

Kayla searched the crowd for the boys she liked, hotties like Smith Quinn and Broxton Jimmie and Holden Andrew and Alden James and Brodie what’shisname and Byrd and Colby and Noah G.  All those guys.  They were around but there were, like, a million people there and Kayla just didn’t have the patience to keep looking through all the losers busy pretending like anything mattered.

 

The sides at the protest were mostly for and against: Gun Safety versus Open Carry (some of the adults were actually brandishing their guns on school grounds); Environmental Activism versus it was all the liberal lie; LBGTQ versus All Fags Go to Hell.  There were cheap shots at politics and outright calls for anarchy.  Eventually, right around the time the bell rang for first period, most of the crowd dispersed.  Only the serious people were getting detentions for their trouble.  One girl was suspended when she refused to leave the lawn, her sign “Do Something!” deemed inflammatory by the principal.  She was eventually escorted off the lawn by the police twenty minutes later.

 

School itself was the same tired bullshit, several students asleep at their desks, a group of boys playing cards at the back of the classroom for money, a majority of bored kids staring at nothing or into their phones, and two nervous, awkward teacher’s pets refusing to look at anything other than the back of their teachers, who were silently scribbling names and dates in marker onto the smeared white board.

 

One student was brazenly wearing a hat in class, something that was against the rules of the school.  This boy’s was a red “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” cap that he had worn just to irk the whiny, probably liberal social studies teacher talking about blacks and civil rights or some other bullshit.  When the teacher politely asked him to remove the hat they boy smiled.  “You can’t suppress my free speech motherfucker!  All you liberal pussies want to do is take away my rights!  Wait until the conservative press hears about this!  I hope you suspend me!  Come on!  Do it!  Suspend me for supporting our president!”

 

Kayla was still on her phone when the chaos struck.  She had been reading about an earthquake in California that had downed power lines and started a huge wildfire near Bella Vista, the place where her favorite actor lived.  She scanned the story for news of their house and then, finding nothing, she huffed and clicked over to Snapchat to look for updates about Ena Peters and Kiara Hamashindieka being lezzies.  Suddenly there was a loud noise in the hallway, somebody shouting.

 

It was Lennox Brown, a tall, hyper thin art-type, tremendously unpopular and bullied even by other kids used to being bullied themselves.  Lennox, wearing a black trench coat, was holding a grenade in each hand, and had an AR-15 hanging from his back.  He had ammunition crisscrossed across his chest and had three handguns and assorted loose bullets stuffed into the pockets of his coat.  He shouted:

 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school

 

He flipped the safety levers off each grenade with his thumbs and tossed them in either direction.

 

We have murdered all the teachers, we have broken every rule

 

Mr. Hanson, a math teacher who had embarrassed Lennox in class numerous times, a brute with hardly any knowledge of his subject said, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”  Lennox pulled the AR-15 in front of him and unloaded, shattering the man’s chest and splattering his insides all over the lockers.

Lennox continued:

 

The principal’s a faggot, we will drown him in the pool

 

BOOM!  BOOM!  Bang bang bang bang bang!  Lennox began spraying the hallway stragglers.  People were running and screaming and an alarm suddenly sounded, an eardrum shattering shriek.  They main lights went off and blinking, epileptic flashes of red were in syncopation with the droning, electric bleating.

 

Our truth is marching on!

 

Lennox started kicking in doors; most of the teachers were slow on the uptake and forgetting their endless training on what to do in such situations.  Most of the students were screaming, not cooperating, and shoving each other out of the way to get into the furthest corners of the room.  The teachers were on the most part hiding under their desks, other than the handful who had been expecting this, those pretending to be generals and pointing and directing the students to places in the room with angry barks—“listen or die!”

 

The gunshots rang out, a pause over a onetime reloading the AR-15, until Lennox tossed it on the floor, settling for the handguns.  When a classroom door was locked he shot the handle off and knocked the thing from its hinges, spraying the room and then later targeting individuals, mostly the teachers, with the handguns.  One time he emptied both clips from the guns and paused for fifteen seconds to reload.  The one brave student who eventually got up to try to save everyone was too late and was shot in the head.  His brains splattered on the floor, some of it going so far as to land on quivering students’ shoes, including Uggs, Vapor Maxs and Jimmy Choos.  These would later be included in the price of the lawsuit against the school.

 

Lennox kept singing, his rhythmic understanding of timing the gunshots to the song growing:

 

Glory, glory hallelujah

Teacher hit me with a ruler

I shot her in the head

And now she’s fucking dead

My truth is marching on!

 

Sirens were howling outside the school now, many students having raced out, screaming and trampling on one another.  One boy with cerebral palsy was knocked over and had his glasses crushed, shards going into his eyes.  People were crying.  One person was killed.  Of the teachers outside most of them were not thinking about gathering their students into the proper spot.  Several of them raced to their cars and sped away.  And still, many students were busy on their phones, texting their parents or friends who were home from school that day, telling them the exciting news.  Kayla, who was among them, was texting several people, some of whom were standing beside her, about how awesome this was.  “No school AND I’ll get to be on TV!”  She added, “Imma gonna be a fckn star!”

 

As the situation was winding down Lennox attempted to rap his next verse, starting off

 

Aw aw aw aw

Yeaaah!

I be rapin’ all da bitches

Til they pussies feel like gruel

An’ I fuckin’ all day pussy

‘Cause I’m motherfuckin’ cool

An’ I gonna be so happy

Gonna live my life in–

 

And that was it.  Suicide by cop, as Lennox had planned.  The previous week Lennox had scaled to the top of the school and tied an electrical cord around his neck, the other end to satellite receiver.  Hanging himself did not work, although he had deep purple spots around his throat.  He then tried to leap off the building, but had been discovered by one of the security guards (who, by the way, every last one of them, ran outside even before the students the moment they heard the gunshots), who pulled him back from the ledge.  “Are you fucking stupid?” the guy had asked him.  When his parents were called Lennox’s mother refused to retrieve him from school, snapping that she “had more important things to do.”

 

One hundred and fourteen people were injured in this attack, with twenty-one initially dead (including the girl who had been trampled to death).  Six more would die in the hospital.  Among the injured, less than half had been shot.  The bulk of them were stepped on or had fainted or curled up into psychologically broken balls on the floor.

 

Kayla was unmoved by any of this.  She was checking herself out on her phone.  She was primping her hair, putting on looks.  She was smiling from different angles to see which pose looked best.

 

“This is awesome!  I’m gonna be so fucking famous,” she said aloud, convinced that her natural beauty would make her the international voice of this tragedy, and not one of those gross overachievers who were already gun activists.  She was the one America wanted.  She knew it, she just knew it!  America would love her to death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Many Shades of Lying About Racism

 

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Let’s get it out of the way before diving into controversy: racism is a very real, very violent, hideous toxin, a stain on the worthiness of humanity.  It is the true mark of Cain, that symbol defining who we truly are.  Racists are low down animals, whining and moaning and finally finding excuses for their decision to point the finger of blame not at their own failures and miserable lives, but at people who never knew nor even cared that they exist.  This is a definition of racism and it is important to start off with that point.

 

However . . .

 

Yes, it’s a big however in an age of hypersensitivity.  People find themselves suddenly offended by anything, masking their own prejudices in the guise of ill-fitting victim-hood.  As with any racist (and yes, people whose primary focus on the social conditions of life, no matter who they are and what their experiences might be, are racists), blaming other people is how most of us convince ourselves that whatever went wrong is not our own fault (see the first paragraph when considering all those things that do not fit this mold).

 

For the purpose of this piece we shall focus mostly on black and white relations, although any diversion of race, including all varieties of mixture, certainly applies.  The cheap, bald stereotypes that dismiss all sorts of people are never a valid argument, nor even a condemnation, of who another person might be.  The truth of the matter is that every race has its collection of assholes.

 

I find it startling that someone being an asshole or calling another an asshole can be transformed into a racial issue.  “Quit being such an asshole,” a person might say, or they scream from their car about somebody cutting them off.  “Asshole!” they holler, blaring their horn.  In this model of road rage it sometimes descends into separate name-calling, even devolving into racial lines.  “White motherfucker!” one asshole might say, or “Stupid nigger!” drools out of the mouth of another asshole.  And yet the whole point is deluded into this senseless, meaningless blather.  The fact that one or both of these people are being assholes gets lost once these lingual codes are mouthed off for no discernible reason.  In fact, it is possible that neither of these assholes is actually a racist, merely a bully, or someone desperate to offend the person they feel has wronged them.  The color-line language drips out and becomes superfluous given certain contexts.  Hell, it is likely that all the person meant by calling each other names is, “Hey!  You’re an asshole!”

 

Several years back now I was once a high school English teacher.  I worked at a very large school in a poor neighborhood on the north end of a huge east coast USA city.  Often I was the lone white guy in the room.  As each school year started I was usually eyed up with suspicion.  I could certainly understand why, these kids having faced a good deal of overt and institutional racism, their parents and grandparents denied opportunities that would otherwise be open to their children had they been allowed the chance to thrive.  And many of the other white teachers were, in fact, racist.  You could hear them talking about the students–most often the actual assholes–and discrediting their own outrage with racial language.  As for me, I was really just impatient and intolerant with the issue before us.

 

Some of the more inquisitive students would even ask me about my racial views.  I would laugh.  I would say, “To me we’re all equally worthless.”  This got me a few laughs, and then I would dive in, seeing a mostly receptive audience.  “Listen,” I continued, “I really don’t have any tolerance for racism.  I mean, get to know someone.  You’ll find a much better reason to hate them.”  I told them that racism was lazy, was the thoughts of a cowardly mind.  I would sneer at people who barked out such nonsense.  And then I would call one of the students interrupting what was conceivably the most important lesson I had to teach the class, I would say, “Shut up, asshole.”  (I really did too, and far more than once.  This, instead of getting me into trouble actually made me more popular with the students.  “Yo, Mr. —– tells it like it is!”)  One of the most significant points I tried to make, I believe, was that given where most people live, given the general lack of diversity within neighborhoods, chances were that the people in the world that each of us hate the most are members of our own race.  I received quiet nods of agreement before we moved on to talk about MacBeth or 1984.

 

And yet some of these students would blame everything on racism.  Didn’t do their homework?  The assignment was racist.  Failed a test?  Racist.  Embarrassed a student in class, whether intentionally or inadvertently?  “You’re a fucking racist!”  I would never get fired for saying ‘fuck’ in class (another thing I frequently would do–demanding obedience to a language code was a losing battle and, since I was trying to teach every one of them to find their own voice, I would allow them to express themselves openly, their ideas often spectacularly vulgar), but even the suggestion that I was being racist would not only cause me to lose my job, but I might even get sued.  None of this ever happened to me, but I had heard stories of terrible warning from other teachers.

 

Often things are misunderstood, a joke or a play on words causing a person to believe something that was never intended or even never actually said was a slur.  And yet it is a truth to the victimized.  Of course this asks the question, who is the actual racist?

 

As for white people, shit.  White people certainly have a terrible history of race relations.  The dominant conquering species of humanity throughout most of our recent history, the white man literally fills volumes with his awfulness.  And yet the deeds of some can never define the whole.  It might be easy to do, but that returns us to the idea of racism.  Generalizing everyone as one thing is the functional definition of racism.  White people are sometimes targeted for racial reasons, but so many white folks today, living in this age when so many thousands of years of race-mixing has finally deluded the idea of racial purity, the white man sees himself as no longer the vast majority.  He starts shrieking “Reverse racism!” (an incredibly stupid term, seeming to acknowledge that their own racism is being undermined by another’s more virulent hatred.)  There are some people today who even believe that anti-white racism is far worse than the age-old traditional form.  They believe it is the “new racism” (again, an acknowledgment of their own prejudice).  Somehow they have convinced themselves that everyone is out to get them and that, eventually, every white person will be put into chains and raped like some KKK fetish, a deep early morning masturbation session that sees them feeling disgusted with themselves afterwards, blaming the Jews or liberals or somebody for implanting such thoughts in their head.

 

People who are obsessed with race see everything in a racial light.  Even those who proclaim themselves “anti-racist,” or declare that “they don’t see color,” are dishonest racists.  Of course they see color!  How would they know that they were anti-racist if they were unable to make such distinctions.  I mean, when you are asked what someone looks like that you just met, how do we describe them?  “Short hair.  Tall.  A flat nose.  Piercing green eyes . . . a black guy . . .” (or African-American, or however people choose to designate someone culturally and superficially different from themselves).  And to be “anti-racist” seems to miss the point.  Young white liberals–college kids, mostly, who stand around at Black Lives Matter protests are often far more outraged than the sincere individuals announcing themselves.  These are the same people who condemn “old white men”

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It is certainly valid to be against racism, to protest against it.  But there is something else in a declaration that some people are not welcome in a nation.  These are the words of a racist.  The hypocrisy is amazing.  Some people seem to get it

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while others allow their prejudice to overwhelm them, undermining their cause and merely displaying the lies they keep telling themselves about how the world is in the unrealistic place they imagine themselves deserving:

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These dipshits

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really aren’t all the different from

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They shout the same stupid things.  They have so much in common that it is becoming harder and harder to tell such people apart.  I mean, other than the uniforms

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They all look the same, right?  All of them.  Can’t tell ‘um apart.

 

The crying victim-hood of all sides of this problem is not a solution, but the cause of an even deeper rift between people.  Self-victimization is not a protest movement.  It does not achieve any positive goals.  All it does is inspire more hatred.  People walk around with self-righteous messages plastered all over themselves:

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Intolerance has transformed drastically in the age of social media.  Now it is so easy to express your mostly deeply rooted prejudices with no actual consequence.

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And so “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” as some tired old bigot once said to justify their continuing hatred.  Perhaps the following clever wit has the “final solution” (an apt phrase, unfortunately, to this dilemma of petty foolishness and deflective self-hatred.)  I am clearly a pure and absolute free speech proponent (the first amendment is first for good reason.  Every other right–even the numerous misinterpretations of them, are a product of the freedom of independent thought), but

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Words to live by, pussy-cat . . .

 

 

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(I Don’t Want To) Preview(—) the Democratic Presidential Debates (Part Seven)

 

Ugh.

 

I know that many of you right now have this sound bouncing around your heads.  “Ugh!  Not another one of these fucking debates!”  We get overwhelmed–all that noise noise noise!  The horrible thing is that it starts to cause us to stop caring at all.

 

Most of us already know who we’re voting for (or at least who we want to win.  Being a member of no political party I am exempt from voting in a primary).  There isn’t much new that any of the candidates have to offer.  All they can really do is comment on current events like an editorialist, trying to impose their views on public consciousness.

 

I never want to do this, the imposition.  So yes, I will watch the horror show tomorrow night and come Friday make some comments, but for today I’d like to talk about something else.  Please click ahead for an entirely different discussion . . .

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Republicans Versus Democrats: A Story of Childhood

 

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Children grow up to become either rebels or subservient followers.  They trail behind or renounce their parents’ worldviews, sometimes arguing and other times accepting whatever it is they have to say on how the world is.  Of course it is hardly that simple, belief itself being a far more complicated thing than simple acceptance and refusal.  Various nuggets simmer down into the unconscious, forming ideologies that, regardless of the outcome, resemble their parents’ tone.

 

Here is how most people remember childhood these days (and perhaps always) in this current era of victim hood:

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Now before we take an obvious side, I want you to reflect for a moment and be absolutely serious with yourself as your privately and quietly read this: which side were you on?

 

Personally I was a little bit of both, certainly the asshole making another person feel like shit.  I never actually descended into physical violence except as a method of self-defense, but surely I had a cruel wit and would occasionally harass those I did not like for fun (we all regret our youth).  But my targets were less specific, not focusing on the awkward or the shy or the weak.  I thought myself a warrior, a delusion that my comic book reading helped to inspire, fighting for justice of the oppressed.  I would bully the bullies and this would occasionally lead to my getting my ass kicked.  Sometimes with satisfaction I could make them cry, or even get their friends, too, to laugh at them.  Of course most of my efforts were failures, not taken seriously.

 

It is very hard to be indifferent to the endless taunts and lying whisper campaigns that ruthless individuals start about someone.  You tend to either believe or deny the allegations, whether they are true or not, based upon whatever partisanship you share with others.  If your friend is getting bullied you tend to stand up for them.  (Unless you think you are fearfully outmatched:)

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But bullies learn it from somewhere, don’t they?

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And the parents are often forced to endure this too, everyday, all day long:

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How does this impact their children?

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What sort of monsters do nearly all of us create?

 

But I wanted to talk about politics, as some of the above metaphors hopefully allude.  The Democrats and Republicans, each featuring their own bullying victim hood.  Let’s look at some cliches first:

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And yet, deep within the partisans there are opposing ideas.  The left is domineering and demanding, in favor of social engineering and control, according to some:

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And liberal perspectives of the right?

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Which side is bashing the other harder?   Does it even matter?

 

Here is a more moderate opinion:

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It seems pretty fair, rather accurate.  But then the partisans get a hold of the idea, get offended, and try to prove the morality of their own views:

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and

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And fringe groups arise, inflaming society and denying the actual reality of people on every side:

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They says stupid things like

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and

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And people feel bullied and bully the opposition right back, like the children such small-minded people are.  Those who try to avoid such tactics tend to fall victim to the echo chamber of nastiness and victimization that seems somehow instinctual.  “Did you hear what they said?” someone asks.  “How can those idiots believe such things?

 

The truth–and I state this based upon listening to the policies being expounded by party leaders from far left to far right and those handful of lingering moderates in between (or at least those with a rational understanding of different opinions)–the truth narrows down to a handful of things.

 

The Republican Party is obsessed with money.  They are overwhelmed by personal greed.  Believing themselves to be in favor of something that within such a corporately controlled society no longer exists–“self-determination–“, the party squawks about every little thing that might impact whatever selfish, personal goal the individual has, the nation itself be damned!  They refuse to fund important things–“protecting the climate is too expensive;” “universal health care is too expensive;” “protecting your job is too expensive;” “giving you more freedom is too expensive.”  This seems to be the bottom line with the Republican Party (and this does not incorporate every person who declares themselves Republican or Conservative, of course, but only those running the corporation that their side of politics has become).  Can we afford anything if we want to keep all the money for ourselves?

 

The Democrats are every bit as selfish (again, in their corporate structure), although their agenda pretends to be something that it really isn’t, or at least not successfully.  They want to be social justice warriors (now a pejorative terms to describe some douchebag in college always shrieking about whatever cause of the moment has inspired their ire), protecting every person regardless of how worthwhile.  They generalize all people into classes, based upon race, religion, economic status, and whatever other categorization that keeps people apart instead of bringing them together.  The Democrats fire up their base every bit as much as the politics of rage on the right.  They even employ many of the same tactics–the outrage, both real and invented.  They scream about how nothing is fair, that they are being cheated, and that the bullies on the other side are the reason everything is wrong.

 

Look, we all side with our personal beliefs.  We either share or have our separate moralities.   Everyone has an idea on how the world could be a better place, regardless of whether they think it possible or not.  And so we play victims.  We either follow along or rebel, like frustrated children listening to their parents scream.  Do we nod our heads and refuse to think for ourselves, or blindly reject everything we have been told is true?

 

The times in which we live are an age of terminal childhood, both words being very important.  “Childhood” is obvious, and the general direction of this commentary.  But “terminal?”  Yes, this partisan absolutism or outright, cynical indifference, is the poison that is killing us.  Nations are no longer nations and people are hardly people.  Here, in the United States, I wonder about the value of that first word any longer.  “United.”  As in “United We Stand.”  And yet we seem to forget about the other half of this once inspiring phrase.  Remember it?

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Uncategorized

Wrapping a Few Things Up

 

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Sometimes you lose interest in a project.  Sometimes you run out of time, leaving the work unfinished.  These are ultimately inevitable consequences of the active and often brutal world we live in.  I mean, how many of you were absolutely giddy when undertaking something with passion only to be bogged down by the grind, realizing that what you were aiming for simply isn’t worth it?

 

With this in mind I would like to wrap up a number of lingering serieses that have long been stamped as the very definition of Recording Editorial History:

 

The first one to mention is a very long and dedicatedly researched project that has not appeared on this site for quite some time.  It is entitled Recording Presidential Editorial History.  Numerous rough drafts of pieces appeared early on in my efforts on this site (might I direct you to those on Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, William G. Harding, and FDR in particular, although in the form they were published here they are somewhat incomplete).  But I later withdrew publishing these studies (and thoroughly revised many of them after much more research).  The reason for this is that I have decided to turn it into a book.

 

The basic premise is a historical essay for every President in the history of the United States (including revolutionaries like Sam Houston and traitors like Jefferson Davis).  The study itself is partially biographical, but deals primarily with both their contemporary and transformative public views as major figures towards the development of not just our nation, but the entire world.  Contrasting opinions, rumors, hero worshipping tall tales, and generational reconsiderations of certain ideas and actions dominate the stories.  As an author I attempt to withhold my own opinions (sometimes more difficult than others) and focus exclusively on the “editorial history” of how these world leaders have been painted.  This is a major project of mine and I have gotten up to Eisenhower.  Once we get to Kennedy the crazy rumors, the divided partisan animus, and endless suggestions of conspiracies (and I have no doubt that he was killed by more than just Lee Harvey Oswald), overwhelm historical discussion all the way up to the present, the swinging division of opinions becoming a shattering picture of patriotism and national pride collapsing.

 

Next we can look upon Elsewhere, an extremely important series to me.  This is a wide-ranging and densely researched historical study of numerous places throughout the world that are not my own.  As with everything I do, these narratives tend to focus on the darker shades of reality, discussing the barbarism of the past and how our views of such history have changed with every following generation, concepts of pride often devolving into deepest shame.

 

I happen to love the Elsewhere series.  They are the most joyful pieces I have written on this site.  They are endlessly fascinating to me, discovering all of these things that I did not know.  From discussions of prehistorical speculation all the way up to contested elections from the week before the narrative was written, there is so much one could learn by paying attention to others places that operate in unfamiliar or parallel ways.

 

Series 4 of Elsewhere kind of ended abruptly, a twice promised final study of Greenland being prepared.  Of course I became occupied with other things, other ideas, and decided to put this on hold while I studied, once more, the politics of my home country, the social atmosphere of paranoia and rage sweeping the world, the cruelty of people towards one another and, my personal passion, a defense of animals in a world of violence and indifference, lamenting and mourning the destruction some people commit from entirely selfish motives.

 

Elsewhere Series 5 will come along eventually, hopefully starting with Greenland (with the strange effort of President Trump to “buy” the nation adding another twist to this curious history), and then continuing to tour the northern most populated parts of the globe.

 

Finally there are the continuing journalistic-styled editorials on the Democratic Presidential Primaries, which is an often torturous study, listening to the same things coming out of sometimes indistinguishable candidates, all covered in the cynical nothingness of professional politics.  With the recent climate change town halls I had planned to write a comprehensive study on the different ideas and opposing views each candidate has on the issue (another important topic for me, repeated numerous times as an occasional weekly theme).

 

But I just couldn’t . . .

 

God were the discussions monotonous.  This is not to say that many of these people had nothing worthwhile to say, no.  But the format, the gruesome display of variant showmanship drooling out of each candidate’s mouths started to bog me down and eventually drowned me.  I mean, how many of you actually watched these things?  All of them?  I watched all of them.  Eventually it became far more interesting to contrast the CNN moderators and how they questioned the people instead of what response anyone had.  It was fun to figure out which person in the audience asking a question was a plant, either of the candidate talking or someone else looking to trap them.  Most of the speakers even went off topic, returning to their regular platforms, winking at the already forgotten Jay Inslee for his dedication to our environment, and then suggesting, alongside dollar signs, what they intended to do about the problem wrapped up in the dollar store ribbon of a proposed solution.

 

Also, with another debate (I believe with the same ten candidates) coming up later this week, I decided to incorporate whatever comments and analysis I have into that barb-throwing shit storm that all of these goddamn things have become.  The cynicism of the candidates–and most especially of President Trump himself–has created such a skewed atmosphere of politics that it is no wonder people fear the outside world, and the dawn of dictatorial tyranny on the horizon.  Books like 1984 (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780452284234&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used) and, perhaps more relevant to the United States’ current aloof indifference, Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780451525826&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used) continue to sell all these many years after their publication, giving people a picture of what the future might be.  And we stop watching, stop listening to what anyone different from us have to say.

 

I have gotten comments that the fact that I number the pieces (“Previewing the Democratic Primaries (Part Seven), for example, and “Evaluating the Democratic Primaries (Part Nine Hundred-Four)) telling me that such a thing is part of the problem.  The fact that so many people say so many things when most of us have already made up our minds not so much on who we support, but who we will vote against should give you an idea of just how exhausted with the decline of social discourse we have become.

 

Yes, I will continue with the analysis (those pieces earn me the most money of any of the others, much to my horror), and I will do my best to merely comment and predict.  But it is getting hard–harder–and there are times I do not want to do it anymore.

 

And so, prior to the preparation and discussion of the next debate, I think I will write about less tense issues.  There are other things to talk about after all.  Tomorrow–tomorrow let us talk about parents and their children . . .