Has the World Gone Mad?

I think the obvious answer to that question is YES.

I haven’t posted on this blog in over nine months. It’s not because I’ve been lacking in opinions or things to say. I should start keeping a list of all the things I mean to blog about. If the app for WordPress was better I might even try blogging on the fly. So why today? What finally tipped the scales?

Two things.

This is a long post full of personal opinions. There will not be an option to comment. If you don’t want to read my ranting and venting, by all means feel free to skip over reading what is under the cut. I promise I won’t be offended.

The first being a meme I saw about how kids with behavioral disorders weren’t always labeled as such; they were labeled as “little brats”. Apparently the old label is the better one, according to the meme.

Okay, maybe it’s not better. Perhaps it’s more “fitting”? I don’t know. What I do know is that the comments I read from some people really show just how ignorant a lot of people in the world can truly be. I don’t claim to be an expert on mental health or parenting, but I do know a thing or two about people being a citizen of the world and all.

Let me start by saying that I don’t advocate for hitting children as a form of discipline or behavior correction. I believe in using your words not your fists (or whatever object might be handy to hit your child with because that’s how you were raised and you can’t be bothered to try something else). If you take offense to that, well, too bad. Personally, I think it’s wrong to hit children. You don’t get to hit another adult when they don’t do things you want them to do so why is it okay to hit a child? Didn’t your parents teach you to pick on someone your own size? Mine sure did. So why would it be okay for me to hit a baby who doesn’t know better? It would be my job, as a parent, to explain to them why their behavior is unacceptable and teach them the right way.

I’m sure there are a few people rolling their eyes and thinking Meg, you just don’t know until you’re a parent. Maybe you’re right. Maybe, if I ever have kids some day, I will see things differently. From where I sit right here, right now, with the experience I have with children I can tell you that I have never had to hit one and I’ve been given permission from parents of the children in my care to do so. I don’t feel comfortable with it and would never raise my hand to a child, especially one that wasn’t mine.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term eugenics, you should do yourself a favor and look into it. It’s one of the things Americans like to pretend they never participated in. Being unhealthy mentally was undesirable. It was easier to call your kid a brat and smack the “brattiness” out of them than it was to try and understand why the behavior was happening in the first place. How many people went undiagnosed because no one wanted to admit that Autism was a thing or that Attention Deficit Disorder or Hyperactivity Disorder are real? Hell, homosexuality was considered mental illness for a long time. It used to be criminal to be gay.

Sure, there are misdiagnoses when it comes to behavior disorders. Yes, some kids are brats. Here’s the thing: I don’t necessarily blame kids for that. If you’re a shitty parent, your kid is going to be an asshole. I read so many comments about how the generation coming up now – particularly the Millennials who were voting for Bernie Sanders in the primaries this year – are a bunch of lazy, entitled whiners who want handouts and “free stuff”. Assuming that’s true, which it isn’t, who raised that generation to believe they’re entitled to all that free stuff? It’s like Frankenstein’s monster.

If you gave your kids everything they ever wanted and never bothered to teach them the value of hard work, then what the hell do you expect? Who forced you to give your kids iPhones, laptop computers and cash on demand? I didn’t get those things from my parents when I was growing up. My first cell phone came when I was eighteen, graduated from high school and had a job so I could pay for it myself. Granted, that was back in 2000 when cell phones were still considered a luxury item and not really your main source of communication. I don’t know the stats but I think landlines are rare these days since internet is wireless. We had one family computer in the living room. If my sister or I wanted money and it wasn’t our birthday or Christmas we either did chores to earn it or got jobs. Mom didn’t make enough money to just go handing it out whenever we decided we wanted to go to the mall with friends or out to a movie on Friday night. So who’s to blame for these entitled brats running around demanding free stuff? Who let them get the idea that they could get everything for nothing?

I read comments all the time about how if people hit their kids like they used to in the “good old days” kids would have more respect for their elders. Yeah. Okay. That’s interesting coming from generations who were capable of getting a good job straight out of high school without a college education, buying a home, a car and being able to support a family on their lone salary. Maybe you weren’t rich, but you got by. Why? Because we had a middle class back then. What do we have today? Today we have 1% and the rest of us. I wonder how many people understand how the wealth is truly distributed in this country.

Watch that video. It’s shocking to me. Absolutely shocking. And there are people who believe that trickle down economics are the answer. They’ve been waiting since Reagan first proposed it over 30 years ago. Has it worked? No. Not even a little bit. Trickle down is a scam to keep the rich richer and the poor poorer.

What does that have to do with hitting your kids or behavior disorders? Well, it’s a convoluted web. Some studies suggest that socioeconomic backgrounds can be indicators of whether or not someone is more likely to hit their kids. Education of the parent can also be a factor. I would also deduce that less educated people are going to look to a medical diagnosis to explain an unruly child’s behavior, and instead just assume the child is a “little brat” who just needs a good spanking to get them in line.

Here’s a hint: You can’t beat the Autism out of a child.

Ultimately, I find it fascinating that parents are blaming a child for bad behavior rather than admitting that they, as a parent, failed to teach their children better. I guess all that spanking didn’t work after all, huh? There have been so many studies to back that very claim up. It’s a short-term fix. Discipline is a daily struggle with children. You have to say what you mean, mean what you say, and stick to your guns. Kids need rules and routine. They thrive in stable environments. All they learn from being hit is that it’s okay for them to lash out when they’re angry, at least that’s what this Time study on the subject concludes.

The bottom line is that meme pissed me off because it suggests that kids don’t have legitimate issues with anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity, among other things. To say they’re “little brats” is to oversimplify it. And if your kid is a little brat, think about why that is. You’re the boss. Act accordingly and take some responsibility for the monster you created.

The second thing that got me going was this:

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I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain my feelings when it comes to Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Do all lives matter? Yes, of course they do. This is a complicated issue. It’s easy to say that people should listen to the police and they won’t get shot, but first it’s crucial to understand that it has been shown that people of color are more likely to be stopped by police for no good reason than a white person is. Look at the portrayals of white shooters in the media versus people of color. White people are mentally ill while people of color are thugs or terrorists. I believe it was that church shooting in South Carolina, there were news agencies unwilling to admit that the shooting was racially motivated, even though the shooter outright said that it was.

How anyone can deny at this point that we have a gun problem in this country is beyond me. Is it also a matter of disregard for human life? Absolutely. Someone who is intent on killing a multitude of people will always find a way to make it happen. Any item can be used as a weapon if that’s what you choose to do. The difference between a car and a gun is that a car’s main purpose isn’t to run people over and cause death. Guns pretty much have one purpose.

Kill something.

At the very least, a gunshot wound is going to hurt like a motherfucker. There’s a reason why our military is armed with high powered, high capacity rifles and not throw pillows.

My position on gun control is that there are loopholes that should be closed. I would vote yes on a ban of assault rifles. I’m not in favor of the 2nd amendment being reversed or overturned or anything like that. I understand wanting a handgun for personal protection or home defense. I understand there are parts of the country where a rifle or shotgun are necessary because of the wildlife that can come onto your property and potentially harm your animals that might be your livelihood, or your children who might be playing out in the yard. But who needs an AK-47 to defend against bears? I’ve been watching a lot of shows on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet as of late, dealing with people who live in the bush out in Alaska. I have yet to see any of them go hunting with an automatic rifle, spraying a full clip of bullets into a wolverine when their life is in eminent danger.

I grew up with a police officer father. My dad wasn’t the most responsible with his service weapon. I remember him leaving it laying around on the kitchen table like it was no big deal, and that was with sometimes four small kids in the house. We knew it wasn’t a toy or something to play with and I don’t recall any of us ever touching it. Even as a kid, I didn’t like having a gun in the house. I knew it was something my dad needed for his job because bad things happen. Sometimes things go wrong and the protection is necessary. It’s a big responsibility to be a gun owner, whether it’s as a private citizen or because you’re required to have a gun for your job. The fact that my dad didn’t see anything wrong with leaving a Glock 19 (I think that’s what he was issued) sitting on the kitchen table… it just blows my mind, even to this day. Actually, it’s even worse now because at the age of 34 I have full understanding of just how tragic it could have been had my sister, who is 2 years younger than me, picked that up as a toddler and accidentally shot herself or a member of our family.

I also remember being scared as a kid that something bad could happen to my dad; that a bad guy might decide to test whether or not the “pig” who pulled him over was wearing his Kevlar that night. My dad worked the graveyard shift. The town he worked in butted up against Chicago. Literally one side of Irving Park Road is Norridge and the other side is Chicago. From what I remember growing up it wasn’t a terribly high in crime area. Lots of kids got picked up for shoplifting at the HIP. That was interesting when I got to high school and I’d see the licenses of kids I went to school with that he’d picked up. Why they weren’t in an evidence locker or something like that was beyond me, but I was sworn to secrecy about the things I saw. I never did go around and spread rumors or tell what I knew, and I knew a lot more than people thought. But I remember worrying about people retaliating for being arrested, or some hothead deciding to pull a gun and open fire on my dad for writing a ticket because the person failed to come to a complete stop at one of the many stop signs in town.

I’ve been pulled over before. Twice, actually. The first time was because I was driving a friend’s car while she was drunk and it turned out some fuses had blown, knocking out her tail lights and brake lights. It was late at night, so I was stopped and issued a citation for it. I complied with the officer and went on my way with two tickets since she didn’t have proof of insurance with her at the time I was stopped. The second time I was stopped was because my plates were expired. Again, I pulled over into the nearest parking lot and complied with all of the orders and requests the officers made. Both of these stops happened in Rosemont, Illinois. On both of these occasions a second squad car arrived on scene. There was no drama. No one was injured or pepper sprayed or resisted arrest or even got rowdy. I was polite to the officers, even though I was a little shaken. No one pulled a gun on me.

Of course I did what I was supposed to. I had no guns, knives, bombs, drugs or anything illegal in the car that I shouldn’t have had. I had no outstanding warrants for my arrest. I understood why backup was there, because an officer never really knows what they might encounter on a traffic stop. People are crazy. Those two stops happened more than a decade ago, by the way, back before it was a daily thing for there to be a mass shooting somewhere.

I had a friend who, like me, is white. She was dating a Mexican guy. To get into the community where I used to live there were guard shacks. Never once did they ask her where she was going beyond the gate. Then one day her boyfriend was driving when they were bringing me home. The gate came down and there was a mini interrogation until I rolled down my window and showed them identification to prove that I lived there and he was just bringing me home. Yet, to this day, no one in that town will admit that they racially profile drivers coming into the community. It’s bullshit. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Anyone who says racism doesn’t exist is either ignorant or racist themselves.

I used to say that I don’t see color, but I’ve come to realize that’s even an ignorant statement. It’s okay to see color. It’s not okay to treat someone differently because of it. Everyone deserves respect and kindness. I have known too many people who say on a regular basis, “I’m not racist, but…” But you’re about to say something terribly racist, aren’t you? Anyone who starts a sentence like that is someone I don’t have time for anymore. Racist jokes aren’t funny to me. Working at the garage I worked at was an eye opener. There was a lot of racial humor there. I tolerated it because it was equal opportunity. It wasn’t just one group that was targeted, although some people obviously had their prejudices.

The interesting thing about it was that these same people who would stand around telling racist jokes were the first ones to make comments about the people in Ferguson “playing the race card”. It completely evaded them how their own behavior feeds into things. Do they really think there aren’t guys just like them in Missouri, telling the same jokes and perpetuating the same attitudes, only to turn around and tell people of color to stop playing the race card? Racism exists. There are communities in the south known as Sundown Towns. It sickens me that this still exists. We like to think America is past this. Well, it’s not.

There are a lot of people who think Black Lives Matter is divisive, that all it does is further drive a wedge between us. I suppose, in some respects, I can see why that’s true. Or at least I can see why it’s perceived to be that way. The rebuttal that All Lives Matter is obtuse. Of course all lives matter. When is the last time you heard about white officers killing white men during traffic stops because someone failed to put their hands up? Since when is not listening cause for an automatic death sentence? I got into an argument with a girl I went to elementary school and then high school with over this. She was of the opinion that Alton Smith and Philando Castile wouldn’t have been shot had they complied with what officers told them to do.

I’m not going to argue that people don’t have to listen to police. If a cop tells you to put your hands up, you should do that. However, in some instances when it comes to police stopping people of color, I have to wonder if there was really cause for it. According to the girl I went to high school with she dug up some article that claimed Philando was a suspect in an armed robbery. SUSPECT. Not under arrest for, not convicted of, but a suspect. So now police just get to shoot someone for being a suspect? What were the odds the officer who shot him knew that he was a suspect? Minneapolis isn’t as big as New York of course, but I doubt every officer on roll call is familiar with every suspect in every open case. Maybe I’m wrong about that, I don’t know. But he was reaching for his wallet when he was shot. That’s a fact. So how did he end up getting shot so many times?

The friend that I argued with, I reminded her that when she was younger she had quite a mouth on her. In fact, she was removed from our freshman year biology class because she threatened the teacher (who was perfectly nice) and called her a bitch. She made the argument that cops work high stress jobs and you can’t know what it’s like until you’ve walked in their shoes. She’s not wrong about that. Here’s the thing: if you can’t handle the stress of the job, you probably should find another line of work. A friend of mine was an MP when she was in the Air Force. She realized the job was changing her personality, making her over into someone she didn’t want to be, especially as a new mother. So what did she do? She applied for discharge. She’s proud of her service and I’m proud of her for serving, but I’m even more proud of her for getting out before the job made her into someone she didn’t want to be.

If you want to be a cop and you think it’s just sitting in a squad car playing with sirens and radar guns all day or directing traffic, you have another thing coming. Being a police officer isn’t easy. Yes, it’s stressful. Yes, it’s dangerous. You could get hurt in the line of duty in any number of ways. There’s the potential to change lives for the better or for worse. There are so many unknown variables that come with the job. I could see how it could cause anxiety issues or even PTSD.

I’ve heard so much from officers caught up in scandals after shootings about how they’re not at fault because they’re simply going by the training they’re given while they’re in the academy. They don’t think; they act.

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So let me get this straight. Officer pulls POC over. Draws weapon on POC because POC might be a “thug”. POC is expected to remain calm and follow orders, even with a loaded gun aimed at their head.

HOWEVER…

Officer pulls POC over. POC has a weapon in the vehicle and tells the officer as much. While reaching for his wallet to show identification, POC is shot because officer panics, thinking POC might be reaching for their licensed gun. Huh.

If you’re a cop with an itchy trigger finger, I hope I never meet you on a bad day. I hope my friend who had a nasty attitude as a teenager has angelic daughters who don’t inherit their mother’s potty mouth and penchant to act like as spoiled brat in the presence of an officer who isn’t in the mood to deal with that shit. I am tired of seeing grieving families on the news, whether it’s because of police brutality or because someone took it upon themselves to open fire on a crowd or because of some stupid stray bullets. We got a lot of that shit here in Chicago. Lots of innocent people have been shot and killed by stray bullets thanks to gang activity. It’s heartbreaking every time.

That screenshot up there is from Reuters (read the full article here). The police chief in Cleveland has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. It’s a big job to run the department and to maintain order and civility in the city of Cleveland, and to watch out for the safety of the officers in his command. It probably goes without saying at this point that I think open carry is a really stupid idea.

The general notion, of late, is that the “good guy with a gun” is obvious because he’s the one who isn’t shooting. The “good guy with a gun” is supposed to take down the bad guy with the gun. But if the good guy isn’t shooting, then how is he taking down the bad guy? Additionally, during a live shooter scenario, the police aren’t going to stop to ask too many questions about whether or not you’re the good guy or the bad guy. As so many people seem to be advocating for these days, they’re going to shoot first because they see you with a gun.

The good guy with a gun argument is another one of those GOP trains of thought that never really leaves the station. It’s pretty easy to shoot holes in that theory. Maybe my liberal leaning brain is just wired differently. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, I don’t understand a lot of the GOP logic floating around out there.

What I do think is it’s interesting that their chickens have come home to roost. For years they’ve been spewing hatred and vitriol via the propaganda machine known as Fox News. Before anyone accuses me of watching too much CNN or MSNBC, I’ll have you know that I don’t watch either. The only “talking head” I ever watched on a somewhat religious basis was Jon Stewart. Who, by the way, will be covering the RNC with Stephen Colbert this week and I am so fucking excited I can hardly stand it. I used to go to BBC News, but their bias is even showing as of late. The quality of journalism is in the shit there as well. Too much fucking speculation. A few weeks ago I downloaded the Reuters app. So far it seems to be straight reporting.

Facts are good, even when they don’t fit your argument.

But I digress… In a state where open carry exists, I find it interesting that they’re suddenly worried about gun violence. But why would they be? Good guys with a gun are going to be able to help if a bad guy with a gun shows up, right? Oh wait… maybe it’s because it’s impossible to tell the difference between a good guy with a gun from a bad guy with a gun until the shooter is already shooting. In Dallas, for example, with the policemen that were recently killed by the sniper. How many “good guys with a gun” were on-hand and didn’t return fire? It’s a bullshit theory to assume that the Average Joe is going to stick his neck out to save people. Whether or not I have a gun with me, if someone opens fire, I’m going to get as flat and as hidden as I fucking can to avoid getting shot.

There are a lot of people who like to think they would be the hero in the situation but you’re more likely to be Barney Fife than you are Batman. Let’s be real. I respect that the chief wants to make sure his officers are safe, but what about the people who live in Cleveland for the rest of the year when this convention isn’t happening? What about the people who will be attending this convention? Do they not deserve safety measures as well? Or does the chief only care about special precautions for those behind the thin blue line?

I’m tired of the notion that being anti-police brutality means you’re anti-police. I’m not. I’m tired of thugs with badges getting away with murder. It happens. Lately, it seems to be happening on a weekly basis. Now states are signing laws into effect making it illegal for footage of body cameras to be released to the public. Why? What are you hiding?

I’m tired of gun violence altogether. I’m tired of hearing terrible stories about a baby being shot in his crib because he lived in the wrong house on the south side of Chicago, and his family lived next door to someone with gang ties. I’m tired of children worrying all the time that their mom or dad might not come home like I used to when I was a little girl. This needs to end, and how anyone can think that more guns is the solution to the problem is something that I am never going to understand. There isn’t an argument in the world that would make any sense to me to explain why that is a good idea.

If ever there was a time I wished I lived on some uncharted island in the Pacific somewhere, this is it. I’m so done with the bullshit in this country. Something needs to change, and it needs to happen soon before we all end up dead.

If you managed to read through all that and follow it, God bless you. You deserve a cookie. Or maybe a shot of tequila. It wasn’t light subject matter. I’m not going to allow comments on this entry because I don’t really want to argue with anyone. I said what I needed to say and that’s that. This was about venting. Now I’m done.

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