“I’ll Give You a ‘Trigger Warning’ About Uber…” and other observations

“I’ll Give You a ‘Trigger Warning’ About Uber…” and other observations

A few observations this week…

  • The NFL Draft is this week (Thursday night). I don’t know when it happened, but I stopped caring about the incessant draft over-analysis and speculation of who is going to where. I don’t know which player will be drafted and what draft order they will be selected in. I only care about one thing…will the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets find a way to screw it up again?

 

  • The biggest, and most important, news story in Iowa isn’t Chris Soules (not even close). It’s the Jane Meyer vs. University of Iowa civil suit case in Des Moines. Meyer is suing UI for discrimination. Meyer was a top assistant athletic director at Iowa. Meyer was reassigned in the athletic department. This took place after Meyer’s partner, Tracy Griesbaum, was fired as Iowa’s field hockey coach. You can follow the trial here from Des Moines Register’s reporter Grant Rodgers.

 

 

  • The topic of free speech on college campuses is one that is messy, but it needs to be had, regardless if many go out of their way to censor it. The same goes for sensitive and uncomfortable topics. Dayna Troisi on Bright (through Medium) pens a piece about how using “trigger warnings” to give students advance warnings about distressing topics are meaningless. (Side note: as much as many try to block out the discussion of topics and individuals who do not reflect your views, you need to hear them. You don’t have to agree with them. That’s not the point. The point is individuals have viewpoints that are favorable or unfavorable).

 

Unpopular opinion: the “shutting down” of people on social media. That term is stupid. If you oppose a view, you oppose a view. It would be beneficial for sites like Twitter and Mashable to stop using “shutting down”, and for people to stop trying to act like they’re doing a public good in attacking back.

 

  • Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to reconsider public transportation, taxis, or someone you know to give you a ride. At the rate that Uber is going, I doubt if Lyft and other entities can withstand such backlash. (Yes I linked a Mashable story. I’m guilty of using clickbait).

 

Judging others is easy. It puts them in a category that makes us comfortable, it gives us excuses to either do or not do something with or to a person, it helps us convince ourselves we “understand” people better this way. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking of truth. It asks you to listen, learn and think, rather than making an instant judgment.

The Longer I Look Online, The Worst I Feel

The Longer I Look Online, The Worst I Feel

I have been listening to “The Hidden Brain”, a podcast produced by NPR (National Public Radio). There are many thoughts and ideas I can take from these podcasts, but this week’s podcast was a startling, yet unsurprising, revelation.

The episode (#68), “Schadenfacebook”looks into how people react and feel when they use Facebook.

Does Facebook make us happier or sadder about our own lives, based on the Facebook posts of others? 

For the last two years, I have spent an inordinate time online. When you are homebound by a chronic illness/disease, and when you leave a city that you have spent the first part of your adulthood in, you pine for the established connections, the activities you were involved in, and an identity.

Most of my week are spent in dialysis (3 days/week multiply by 6 hours each visit = 18 hours a week). When I arrive home after treatment, I am physically and mentally drained. I am at home most of time, trying to recharge.

Before I was sick, if I got 6 hours of sleep in my bed, it was a miracle. I was doing something, or finding something to do: looking for work, volunteering, connecting with friends and acquaintances. I hated going home at the end of the day. It was a lonely feeling because I was returning to the reality of my “real” life as a struggling young professional without a compass to follow. My “online” and “social” life was my lifeline to be distracted from lamenting my own life and struggles.

As I spend time alone recuperating from dialysis, I check into Facebook to see what I missed. I’ll post something quirky, or informative (like the podcast in question), but I spend most of the time reading and seeing how the “grass is greener on the other side.”

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I have fallen into the all-too-common trap of comparing my life to those who appear to be living better lives online.

One acquaintance and his girlfriend spending a weekend in Europe, a party being planned at the local art center where I used to volunteer at. One friend on a business trip. Another one moving into a new house. Several are trying out the new restaurant on Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines popular thoroughfare west of downtown.

When I read and see my friends’ posts, I don’t think about how I have survived major life challenges over the last ten years (unemployment, kidney failure, depression). I only think about the the activities and life events that I haven’t, or may never, achieve because everyone else is living or enjoying those moments.

The fear of missing out, or FOMO, as it is called today.

Trapped behind a keyboard, worrying about how life is passing us by through images and words.

The fear I am experiencing is that the people I knew in Des Moines have moved on. They have moved on with their own lives, which is what we should do, but they have moved on from me. I’m not there. What ever accomplishments or projects I have done is forgotten. If I’m not there, would anyone notice? Would they miss me?

Man walking alone

Studies show that the more we spend on Facebook, the less positive we feel about ourselves and our lives, the more depressed we are, and in turn, we post more on Facebook to receive validation from others.

I have stayed away from Facebook on occasion for various reasons (tragedies, politics, needing a mental break). However, I have realized that I go to Facebook to “feel good” because on most days, I’m not feeling so good about my status.

I have some friends who are on Facebook, but they do not post, comment, or take pictures everyday, or every week. In fact, some do not post for several weeks at a time.

Reframing how I view and use Facebook is something I need to consider . I need to learn that I do not need to post and publicize things on Facebook and Twitter. Do I need people to know what I think, what I do, and am I making people feel “bad” about themselves with the pictures and the posts I put up on sites like Facebook?

Life is not always pastels, bright colors, or syntax errors. Then again, that’s what we go to Facebook for…to feel better about ourselves.

 

A Name Change (I’m finally figuring out how not to confuse people with different titles and webpages)

A Name Change (I’m finally figuring out how not to confuse people with different titles and webpages)
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“A pleasant good day to you where ever you may be. We have an announcement to make. Please look to the left of my picture to read it.”

I created this blog in the summer of 2009. I sat on it for a few months before I muster enough nerves to write. I didn’t realize that I had a talent for writing until later in life (late 20’s). Honestly, I wished I knew that when I was younger. It would have helped me communicate better since I am a stutterer. If I couldn’t get the words to come out of my  mouth smoothly, I would struggle and get frustrated.

I took a chance and signed up for a blog contest through Juice during its early stages, and ended up being a community blogger. I learned pretty fast that content and the ability to write was paramount to be relevant.

My goals were not lofty. If one person read anything I wrote, it was a small victory. I didn’t need anyone to agree with what I wrote. I wanted people to read what is being written, think about it, and then ask themselves “how do this apply to me and my surroundings?”

The one problem about starting a stand alone blog, for me, wasn’t the content or what I was going to write.

The problem was coming up with a title.

My original title was going to be “Civility Is Not Dead”. I strongly felt at that time, and to this very day, that civility has been dumped for irrational juvenile behavior when it comes to talking about topics, serious or insignificant.

However, as I was building this blog site, I had a change of heart. My blog was not going to be about civility all of the time. I had other ideas and observations that I needed to flesh out. Hence, “The Convoluted Mind of a Single Man” was a better title as I was taking all information that I have read, listened, and stored in my complex mind. At first, it was a bit odd for someone to find this website due to a title which was different than a website address.

Since September 21, 2009, I’ve written over 400 posts. There were more misses than successes, but many folks would say otherwise. I’m very hard on myself because I take writing a blog seriously. I am offering information and offering observations through the prism of my eyes. Tossing “hot takes” and writing things to get attention bothers me. So is lazy writing.

It is with that that I’m going to do something that I struggled with for eight years…

…retiring the title of “The Convoluted Mind of a Single Man”. I’m very sure that anyone who interacts with me knows that I am a complex single man living in the Midwest.

It’s time to use the title that I wanted to use in 2009, but was afraid of the pushback and the misinterpretation of what this blog would entail. When I view civility, I don’t view it as a sanctimonious high horse to admonish bad behavior. Hell, I’ve had my share of behaving badly. I wanted to point out the absurdity and foibles of how we view things on this planet. Most of it is in sarcastic and witty tone.

I felt it was a catchy enough title to get readers to stop and read what a schmuck like me is typing about.

“Civility Is Not Dead….Yet” will continue to be a cornucopia of observations of topics that I find to be interesting and worth exploring.

No, this is not a “come to Jesus” moment with respects to the current state of affairs. The current state of affairs have been a constant mess since the beginning of time.  Secondly, I have no interest in espousing our crazy unsynced social political economic infrastructure. I’ve written about that in the past. It’s just adding to the “noise” cycle.

I have other things to think and ponder, like what is it like to live with a stutter and two chronic illnesses. Unpopular opinions, pointing out absurdities in daily life, and highlighting the contradictions that makes us act and do weird things will always get my attention.

Going forward, “Civility Is Not Dead…Yet” is what we will go by. I will intermittently post, as I am battling my chronic illness.

As I said in my first blog, “I’m a wordy guy.  I promise not to bore you.”

Mary Richards Wasn’t Alone…

Mary Richards Wasn’t Alone…

Actress Mary Tyler Moore passed away on January 25th at age 80. Moore was synonymous with two character roles that cemented her place into television history: Laura Petrie from “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, and the iconic fictional WJM-TV producer Mary Richards in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (MTMS), both were on CBS.

Moore’s role as Mary Richards has been lauded for opening doors for women during a very important era in American history. The role of women in the 1970’s was starting to evolve from housewife to living independently, taking on non-stereotypical careers, and having a larger role in society.

As important as she was, whether on television or in real life as a role model, Mary Richards wasn’t alone during the era of the 70’s as it relates to influential and groundbreaking TV female characters.

Ever heard of Alice Hyatt, Maude Findlay, or Julia Baker?

You should.

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Cloris Leachman, the late Mary Tyler Moore, and Valerie Harper.

Let’s start with the supporting cast on MTMS. Des Moines, Iowa’s own Cloris Leachman was Phyllis Lindstrom, Mary’s snobbish landlady, Valerie Harper played Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary’s best friend and neighbor, the amazing Betty White as the sharp-tongued man-hungry Sue Ann Nivins, and Georgia Engel as Georgette Franklin, the loyal girlfriend (and later wife) of dim-witted and vain weatherman Ted Baxter.

MTMS made Harper, Leachman, Engel, McLeod, Anser, and Ted Knight superstars. MTMS was one of the first television series with an ensemble cast that was as talented as they come, and was one  of the first series to create successful spin-offs series for Rhoda, Phyllis, and Lou Grant (character played by Ed Anser).

MTMS wasn’t the only show that featured a female as a star and living a life that was unconventional during that time.

“Early to rise, early to bed, and in between I’ve cook and cleaned and went out of my head, going through life with blinders on is tough to see, I had to get up, get out from under and look for me…” – lyric to “Alice”(version 1) sung by Linda Lavin

“Alice” was another significant series, in my mind, as it relates to the changing roles of women.

Linda Lavin played Alice Hyatt, a widowed mother who moves from New Jersey to Phoenix to start her life over again with her son while she pursues a singing career.

She takes a job as a waitress at Mel’s Diner, working for Mel (Vic Tayback), a grouchy bombastic owner and cook. She works alongside shy and awkward Vera (Beth Howland), and Polly Holliday as the sassy whip-smart Flo (of “Kiss my grits!” fame). Diane Ladd later joined the cast as Belle Dupree and Cecila Watson played Jolene Hunnicutt. Alice produced a spin-off for Holliday, titled (of course) “Flo”.

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How do you keep Mel in line?  Flo had the answer:  “Kiss my grits!”

“Alice” was important because she was “starting over” after a tragedy by moving away from home to pursue her dreams and a better life for her son Tommy and her. Along the way, Flo, Belle, and Alice helped Vera grow from an awkward and less-confident person to one who could stand up for herself during one of Mel’s put-downs and then falling in love and getting married to police officer Elliott. They met when Elliott gave Vera a ticket for jaywalking.

If Mary Tyler Moore was the gold standard, then “Maude” was not far behind. Bea Arthur played the “uncompromising, enterprising, anything but tranquilizer” Maude Findlay, an older woman who was never shy to speak her mind, much to the consternation and admiration of her fourth husband Walter (Bill Macy). “Maude”  was groundbreaking in several ways. The series tackled topics such as “women’s lib”, abortion, and the clash of cultures.

The abortion episode is worth watching (Part I and Part II) if you want to see how Maude and Walter handled Maude’s pregancy.

Maude” was spun off from “All in the Family” where Maude clashed with Archie Bunker and driving her conservative neighbors the Harmons (Conrad Bain and Rue McClanahan) crazy with her liberal viewpoint. Arthur and McClanahan would reunite nearly a decade later, with Betty White, to do “The Golden Girls”.

Her relationship with African-American housekeeper Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) was insightful in that she clumsily tries to show how liberal and open-minded she is when interacting with Florida, to which Florida usually gets the last laugh at Maude’s expense.

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As progressive as Maude Findlay was, Florida Evans suffered no fools and got the last laugh at the expense of Maude.

Florida ended up having a spin-off series of her own:  “Good Times”.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. There are other shows below that, along with “MTMS”, “Alice”, and “Maude”, were shows, in my opinion, that showed women in starring roles and in turn becoming role models during the 70’s for women through television.

The Liver Birds: British series about two single women living on their own in Liverpool, England during the 70’s. Carla Lane and Myra Taylor, two Liverpool housewives created and wrote the series. (Sidenote: the alternative theme song is catchy.

 

“Julia”: Diahann Carroll stars as a widowed nurse Julia Baker. The series was one of the first to cast an African-American in a white-collar professional role.

 

“Laverne and Shirley”: We all know about these two. They were the American version of “The Liver Birds”. Schlemiel! Schlimazel!

“The Partridge Family”: Shirley Jones is persuaded by her five children to quit as a bank teller to form a band. Yes, we have the theme song.

Who’s Running This City Anyway??

Who’s Running This City Anyway??

Two stories over the past two weeks have called into question over “who really runs the city.”

An anonymous source leaked to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier of a heated email exchange between Mayor Quentin Hart and councilman Tim Lind over the process of hiring a part-time communications director. By all accounts, Hart followed the rules, and had authority, to hire a part-time position…without seeking the city council’s approval.

While that was going on, the city of Muscatine has themselves a soap opera brewing. Their city council has filed impeachment charges against their mayor, Diane Broderson. Broderson filed suit against the city council for attempting to strip her powers as mayor over a similar situation: the appointment of board and commission members.

Yes, Hart and Broderson are facing elements of racial and gender factors (Hart is black, Broderson is female), but the crux of this is usually a long-running issue: who has more power…the mayor, the city council, or the city manager/administrator.

When I moved to Davenport in 2015, it’s city administrator Craig Malin resigned as former mayor Bill Gluba was canvassing votes for Malin’s ouster over the planned move of Rhythm City Casino to a location near the intersection of Interstate 80 and 74. The fiasco cost Gluba dearly, as he lost to Frank Klipsch in the mayoral election that fall.

This is not a surprise. Nor should it be.

Local governments, much like Congress, can turn citizens into power hungry egomaniacs hell-bent on forcing their own personal “Manifest Destiny” once they get elected.

I don’t much know about Muscatine (only what I have read), but I do know Waterloo. It’s my hometown.

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Mayor Quentin Hart of Waterloo, Iowa. (Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier)

From what I can gauge with Waterloo (and I could be wrong), there is a city councilman, Steve Schmitt, that has ran for mayor several times and have lost each time. Hart was a city councilman until he ran and was elected mayor. The problem is that Schmitt has a reputation of questioning the mayor’s office and the competency of Hart and his predecessor, Tim Hurley, That has only intensified with Hart now in the mayor’s office.

Last summer, Schmitt engineered a council vote to reject footing the bill for Hart to attend a mayor’s conference in Washington, D.C.. Hart had to pay for the trip out of his own pockets, along with a little help from a Kickstarter campaign from several of his supporters.

This isn’t the only time Schmitt has placed himself as a “wannabe” mayor. He acts like a mayor, talks like a mayor, tries to do business as a mayor….but he isn’t the mayor. The mayor has authority, and that authority is being undermined. The email flap between Hart and councilman Tim Lind has exacerbated matters.

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Mayor Diane Broderson of Muscatine, Iowa (Quad City Times)

In the Broderson matter, the Muscatine city council has worked feverishly to strip all of Broderson’s authority as mayor, citing “habitual neglect” of her “fiduciary duties.” This stems from last August when the city council began the process to change the appointment authority for boards and commissions to a nominating committee, and the ability to appoint and remove the fire and police chiefs to the city administrator, subject to the approval of the city council.

A nominating committee comprised of two council members, the mayor, and the city administrator or appointed staff member was created to review applications for boards and commissions and bring recommendations to the city council for approval. Previously, the mayor held appointment and removal powers, subject to the approval of the council.

A letter was sent to Muscatine citing that the changes could be in violation of the Iowa Code. According to the Code, a city with a population of 8,000 or more should appoint three civil service commissioners to handle the appointments if there is a paid fire and/or police department.

Upon learning of the city council’s attempt to strip her powers as mayor, Broderson filed a suit against the city council to block them from moving forward with their plans.

And all we care about is what is going on in Washington, and there is trouble in our own backyards. 

As Strother Martin said in “Cool Hand Luke” “What we got here is failure to communicate.” Since when do city councils, school boards, or any other elected forms of council decided that they know how to run a city better than a mayor, city administrator, or a city manager?

Quentin Hart and Diane Broderson has to be thinking to themselves what Bill Parcells famously said about coaching and running a football team:

If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.

These are power play moves in politics. When voters keep re-electing people, the less likely those incumbents are willing to upset the status quo. When someone new arrives and attempts to change the culture, there will always be pushback.

But these pushbacks that are being waged at Hart and Broderson looks like a Sunday School picnic where everyone wants to hand out a slice of pound cake, but they’re unwilling to slice an equal amount of cake to share.

But, what do I know? No one is going to read this blog. I talk about topics no one cares about…unless if it’s about protest marches and building walls.

Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions
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“Duuuude, I have an unpopular opinion. Is it cool to say it here?”

It is a scary proposition when you offer an unpopular opinion (or UPO on this blog going forward). For one, you worry about the instant reaction of people (who don’t read the “why”), and two you worry about how your interaction with people will go moving forward.

There are far too many folks carrying grudges, past and present, that will ultimately kill them. Karma has a way of doing that.

There are those who, agree or disagree with you, who are willing to let you offer your opinion and your rationale, without getting pissy about it. For me, I will give an opinion and I drop it after that. I said what I needed to say and I move on.

It’s called civil discourse. Sadly, way too many people doesn’t think that being civil does anything. I disagree with that. It depends on the individual and how they respond to it.

If you interact with an overly emotional person, they will talk with their hearts. With an irrational person, they will be all over place. A person who will think about it without haste and offer a salient observation, might offer some points that you may not think of.

As a way to get back into my writing mode (and start rebuilding content), I will offer some unpopular opinions and a reason for them.

Remember, you don’t have to read them, if you don’t like them. There are plenty of other blogs and written materials you can read. Or, you can write your own blog.

UPO #1: Pseduo-celebrities like Mr. Sulu (George Takei), Matt Walsh, D.L. Hughley, Henry Rollins , Shaun King, and other who feel the need to offer an opinion on everything. Chill with the Facebook posts, fellas. It’s alright to take a “topic” off once in awhile…or maybe a few more.

UPO #2: I’ve never watched Jon Stewart, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann (post-ESPN) or Stephen Colbert. It doesn’t make me a conservative nor a liberal. I was never interested in them, just as much as I was not interested in “Friends”, reality television shows, and various people and things.

An observation came to mind: are there viewers like me that are tired of hearing middle-aged white men (on both sides of the ideological aisles) bloviating to no end about how the world should look like in their own eyes?

UPO #3: Award shows for entertainers. It has become social media troll fodder for people who aspire to be Siskel and Ebert, but they tweet more like Waldorf and Stadler.

UPO #4: Barack Obama isn’t the greatest President we ever had, and I’m not a fan of the incessant lovefest.  Each president is just a guy who was elected to keep us from being one step closer to going nuts as a nation. History will determine Obama’s tenure in about a decade. To add, the presidents, in my view, are just humans. Not perfect, not completely flawed. I only vote for the person who I view can do the best job, not who’s more “presidential” based on looks and presence.

Best Presidents: Washington (he was the first, so he had to set a precedent), Lincoln (for the Civil War, freedom of slaves), Franklin D. Roosevelt (WWII, WPA, and Great Depression), and John F. Kennedy (NASA, and introducing a new generation to public service).

UPO #5: This isn’t “Trump’s America” Cut that shit out. This is AMERICA. We’ve been through wars, tragedies, bad decisions, and everything else since our existence.

We will get through this. If you doubt that, then you doubt yourself.

I feel better now. Okay, on to other stuff that isn’t political, divisive, and tiresome.

Wait…I sort of lied. I need to get this off of my topic pile.

Colin Cowherd, who is notorious for “hot sports takes”, from time to time will offer something about his profession that can be considered as “ugly truth”. He laid out something that most Americans are too lazy to figure out, especially when it comes to political and sports shows: it’s not about information. It’s about being “interesting”. Saying something outrageous turns more heads than a sabermetrics geek talking baseball numbers and a policy wonk explaining nuances of a bill. Viewers only care to see what you will say next, and if it’s more outlandish than the next.

The idea of substantive and nuanced discussion with subject matter experts certainly exists, but doesn’t work as well as selling certainty and hot takes to a droll mainstream audience clamoring for more buffoonery.

Clemson being a fraud (or any team getting that label) is what the audience wants to hear. People tweet it, post it on message boards, and talk about it in their social circles and on talk radio. It reverberates. Agree or disagree, it’s something to talk about, and regardless if he’s wrong, you’re going to keep coming back if you like this particular flavor of hot take.

The idea of him (Cowherd) and others saying something like “Clemson has had an up and down and year and I think they’re going to have problems against Ohio State or Alabama. I don’t know, we’ll see……should be a good game”, does not payoff in the sports media world. – Ben Koo, Awful Announcing, Jan 10, 2017

As Koo pointed out, sports isn’t the only place where this tactic takes place.

Politics is loaded with this. Koo finished with this line in his column, “Until people opt to tune out personalities and shows that make noise for the sake of making noise, this is what you get.”

Several years ago, I wrote suggesting that people “tune out” Iowa congressional representative Steve King. A good number of Democrats thought my suggestion was dumb. “WE HAVE TO MAKE PEOPLE NOTICE ABOUT  HIM!!”

How’s that going, Democrats, RAYGUN, and everyone else?  He’s still in Congress, so your efforts to “bring light” about his antics backfired.

It’s Psychology 101: the less attention you give to an attention-seeker, the less relevant that person becomes, because people will stop listening.

If the story of Senator Joe McCarthy doesn’t ring a bell….Google it up. Read what happens when attorney Joseph Welch calls McCarthy out over the Communism “blacklist” hearings. No one paid attention to McCarthy after that.

That’s how you handle an attention-seeker. Not printing t-shirts with catchy slogans, jumping on social media and retweeting statements.

But telling that to a Democrat or a Republican is like talking to a…ahem…wall. They’re too obsessed to let go from a mental aspect.

But, what do I know? No one’s going to read this blog post anyway. I write about topics that no one is “interested” in.

Pretty much the case with any blogs.

 

Being A Voter Doesn’t Give You The Civic Duty to Be A Jerk

Being A Voter Doesn’t Give You The Civic Duty to Be A Jerk

Being “a self-important clown” isn’t something that most people will like to hear, but as someone who spends time observing and evolving, your views do shift.

As in the case of the election last week. One of the common themes about voting is that if you don’t vote, then you should not have a voice or an avenue to talk about the issues.

This is a clown. A "self-important clown" is someone who think and act like they're better than anyone else. When it comes to voters, we tend to act like elite jerks, all in the name of "civic duty."
This is a clown. A “self-important clown” is someone who think and act like they’re better than anyone else. When it comes to voters, we tend to act like elite jerks, all in the name of “civic duty.”

I used to be one of those people, as this post in 2010 can attest to.

Therefore, I am a “self-important clown”, and I deserved it.

Here is my “mea culpa”.

Over the past 10 months, my view has changed with regards to how we treat and dismiss people who are do not follow politics and do not vote, and when they speak out about issues that are important, voters dismiss them for not doing their “civic duty.”

This took shape over the past week when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (Kaep for short) announced that he did not vote because he had deep reservations about both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, alluding to the “systemic oppression” that continues to be prevalent in the United States with respects to African-Americans.

Kaepernick has been critical of both candidates for months. “You have Hillary [Clinton], who has called black teens or black kids super predators,” he said in August. “You have Donald Trump, who is openly racist.”

“I’ve been very disconnected from the systematic oppression as a whole,” he told reporters. “So, for me, it’s another face that’s going to be the face of that system of oppression.

“And to me, it didn’t really matter who went in there (to be elected), the system still remains intact that oppresses people of color,” he added.

-Michael Sebastian, Esquire Magazine, November 10, 2016

Colin Kaepernick. (Jake Roth, USA Today)
Colin Kaepernick. (Jake Roth, USA Today)

The reaction, no surprise, was one of furor…by voters.

Stephen A. Smith, ESPN’s resident loud-mouthed “hot take” troll, spent nearly 13 minutes calling Kaepernick a ‘hypocrite”, because he did not vote. Ironically, Kaepernick is on the forefront of speaking about the escalating and long-running issue of race and police brutality.

That is when it struck me. Here is a dude who felt compelled to take a knee to protest and elicit conversation about the current treatment of African-Americans in this country, and the people who supported him are admonish him for not voting.

Several days later, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Mike Evans sat down during the national anthem to protest the election of Trump.  When asked if he voted, Evans said no, citing that he is not a political person. On the following day, he apologized for sitting down and offered to find another way to address the situation.

Evans received the same vitriol that Kaepernick received.

Evans and Kaepernick are individuals who are not political or follow politics by any means. And yet, they were chastised for not voting by people who did vote.

“If you don’t vote, don’t complain.” 

That is the stupidest line ever uttered.

Voters, including me, are the ultimate hypocrites.

I’ve written this in the past about my perspective on politics and viewpoints: I don’t tell people how or who to vote for. Anyone who does that, isn’t a very confident person and uses bullying to get their way.

I will amend this with the following: if someone is not interested in politics, they should not have to vote for the sake of voting.

That is what nearly 47% of the nation did….not vote. They’re fed up with the state of affairs in this country. That was their protest vote, if that’s how you want to spin it.

Mike Evans of Tampa Bay. Evans didn't get the attention that Kaepernick received, but it didn't go unnoticed with some, like ESPN's Bomani Jones. (Athletes Speakers)
Mike Evans of Tampa Bay. Evans didn’t get the attention that Kaepernick received, but it didn’t go unnoticed with some, like ESPN’s Bomani Jones. (Athletes Speakers)

Clinton and Trump had way too much baggage and their actions speak for themselves.

But, of course, what do I know? No one wants to read what I’m writing. And I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. Both groups are grandstanding jackasses.

What Kaep said drove home the point: it didn’t matter who was elected, it was going to be business as usual, and neither Clinton or Trump was going to seriously address racial relations.

Bomani Jones of ESPN talked about the Evans story on Monday afternoon and debunked the so-called narrative about the importance of voting as it relates to someone having an opinion.

The monologue begins around the 10:20 mark.

Voting gives people the false sense that they are making a difference, when they are really not, as Jones pointed out (and rightfully so). Putting on a “I Voted!” sticker, to show people how “patriotic” we are and our obligation to perform a civic duty, and then flaunting in the face of others reeks of elitism and hubris.

When did having a “vote” gives you the authority to tell people who didn’t vote that they shouldn’t complain or say anything that they see as an issue?  

It is not a civic duty. It is a choice.

If it is such a civic duty, then why do we vote, if we have no interest to vote for two candidates that America was unhappy about?

So we can get a sticker and feel individually empowered without any guilt? Does voting empower us to act like raving lunatics and lose our shit over an election?

If that is the case, then all of us are fear mongers.

What does that prove?

If you had a choice, who would you not see vote? A conspiracy theorist, a racist, a misogynist, someone who leans toward a third party candidates, or someone who is not well-informed about the issues and yet have an opinion?

Many of you would prefer that all of them don’t vote.

Bomani Jones of ESPN. An underrated rational voice of reason. (ESPN)
Bomani Jones of ESPN. An underrated rational voice of reason. (ESPN)

But…they do vote. If you try to keep them from voting, you are in fact suppressing them from voting. Jones’ argument is that voters go out of their way to dismiss the view of those who are not political, by using the “did you vote?” rationale as an excuse.

There is a lot of places around in America that are trying to suppress voters these days. You will talk about that, but we ignore our level of suppression towards those who may vote for someone who you oppose, or doesn’t vote at all.

Just because we vote, it does not and should not make us feel entitled and privileged to tell those who chose not to vote that their opinion and their causes do not matter.

We, the voters, are suppressing people’s voices, all in the name of a “civic duty” that we are “obligated” to do.

That’s being a hypocrite.

We live in America, where we are free to make choices. Third world citizens would do anything to live here and be free to live however they choose.

To tell them that they have to vote for the sake of voting, is hollow.

If people do not see any reason to be politically active or take part in something they are not crazy about, then they are free to do what they want.

They pay taxes too.

I will no longer dismiss anyone who are interested and concern about the issues that are important to them, without holding a pithy obligation to perform a civic duty over their heads.

Oh, and voters, stop being assholes (including me).

But what do I know…no one is going to read this anyway.