In Need Of…Anger Management

On Wednesday, I pulled up an entry I wrote in December 2012 about America’s mental fascination with guns and violence.

We haven’t a learned a thing about it. When I looked at the stats, a total of 31 people clicked on the blog to read the post.

Thirty-one. Five years since it was written.

Nevertheless, I’ll link this entry again, this time with some added observations below.

It has become unnerving to read the many narratives, the dismissal of narratives, and the over-emotional shaming that people have resorted to on social media about the latest incident in Florida. The listed reasons are plenty.

“It’s a parenting problem.”

“It’s mental illness”

“Gun control”

“Angry white male”

“The boys are not all right (this from the NYT op/ed piece)

I got news for all of you…it’s not one specific thing.

It’s everything.

Parenting, gun control, isolation, disconnection, bullying, labeling, and on and on.

All of the vitriol is a perfect storm. How we behave, think, and view others and the world around us is predicated on how we react.

We are a bunch of angry people, plain and simple. 

The common denominator to all of this is anger.

When I sift through all of the factors, it isn’t too hard to see.

Being angry about anything that sets us off.

Anger didn’t occur when the gunmen were able to get access to guns. It started in the classroom, in the home, the office, where ever.

It started with the kids. There are kids who are bullied, picked on, slighted, and ignored, because they are different

Adults, on a daily basis bully, harass, and demean other adults. At work, in the store, and on the streets. In the bar, at a concert, and in front of the kids. Kids pick up the traits of their parents. If a parent was a bully in school, it’s likely their children will be one. If a parent was picked on at school, their children is likely to emulate their parents, or become bully themselves.

It’s about control and a self-sense of power.

When adults and kids are made fun of, bullied, and rejected, the resentment grows to where there are two ways to resolve it: internalize it, drive themselves out of control, and give up…

…or lash out as a means of revenge. “I’ll show them. No one will laugh/harass/talk about me like that anymore.” The seeds of violence were already planted before the irreversible decision to walk into a hallway and open fire.

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Michael Douglas, as William Foster, in “Falling Down” (1992). (Cineplex)

Anyone remember the movie “Falling Down” starring Michael Douglas? Douglas played William Foster, an unemployed defense worker, on his way to visit to his daughter’s birthday party at his ex-wife’s house. He encounters a series of events, trivial or provocative, that sets him off and he goes on a shooting spree. This is where the “white male anger” narrative got tossed around for the first time.

The “angry white male” narrative, though prevalent, has given way to people of all walks of life feeling like William Foster. The real narrative is that we are angry. Whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, lesbians, straight, man, woman, and child.

Everyone is angry as hell about everything.

Angry about a breakup, being fired, being laughed at, losing a game, facing discrimination. Angry over an election didn’t go their way, a tweet, an opinion…

Everyone’s pissed off about something.

Most of us don’t know how to handle our anger. Some of are not violent, but we go on social media to attack people as a way to unload our anger. The scary part, as sports talk show host Steve Czaban pointed out (48:10 mark), it’s smart educated people with good jobs and lives who turn into monsters behind a keyboard, going apeshit about anything that sets them off daily, small or big.

The “dark side” of social media is an expose of people who feel that they are losing control of the world around them and feel the need to say whatever they want, without filters. They forget that there are consequences with words and actions. It doesn’t matter if they are white or black.

These are the people who have lost all sense of reality. Demeaning those who are not as smart as they are (anti-intellectualism), labeling others for having opinions that are not aligned with theirs, and shaming people for small or egregious mistakes.

This stood out to me in that blog: “We can pass tougher laws, but making it harder to prevent the wrong people from having them isn’t going to stop them.” We can’t stop all wars, robberies, and murders , and we can’t stop all violence, unless we don’t look at how mentally screwed up we are in our actions and behavior.

The above tweet was at the heart of my counseling session this week. I overheard my therapist and the office manager talking about the past week’s events. I felt comfortable enough to tell my therapist my thoughts about all of this. I’ll get to this tweet later on.

Thank goodness I’m not telling this to an irrational emotional angry person who will fly off the handle without giving it an opinion a considerable thought.

In reviewing that 2012 blog, I brought up something that should be of concern: our mental fascination on using guns as a way to resolve our problems. Breakup with your girlfriend? Hunt her down with a gun. Lose your job? Shoot up the workplace. Get bullied and treated like a misfit? Gun down the jocks and the homecoming queen. Someone spill a drink on you at the bar? Walk out to you car, and come back “packing heat.”

How can we be a nation that want gun control, and yet when we go to the movies or watch television, we celebrate and glorify the bad guy who gets shot up or a machine gun takes out a fighter jet? Our need to have a weapon in our hands gives our ego and confidence a boost. 

Which leads me to repost a important scene from the comedy movie “Friday”. Craig (Ice Cube) tells his dad (John Witherspoon) that he is carrying a gun to protect his pal Smokey from being roughed up.  Craig’s dad shakes his head, and tells his son that there is another way to protect himself and to resolve a conflict.

We’re so quick to pick up a gun to resolve problems in this society. When was the last time you witnessed two people squaring up to settle something…with their hands?  “You win some and you lose some, but you live to see another day.”

The tweet above is very important to me. I have battled mental illness for a better part of 25 years. While I do think that there are individuals with mental illness who are likely to commit violent acts, there is a difference between “mental illness” and “mental health.” Mental illness is a condition that a person has that affects them. Mental health, in general, is how we mentally view things and act upon those feelings and actions.

America has a mental health problem with gun violence, and violence in general. We see it as the ONLY way to end a dispute, get revenge, and feel good about it.

All because we are angry about everything. People makes us angry, issues makes us angry, that damn remote control that doesn’t work propels us to hurl that against a wall.

A former colleague posted on Facebook that that he’s tired of being told to “calm” down about the latest school shootings. It took a lot of restraint from me not to reply back. Only because I do not want anyone to tell me that I need to show “anger” about something I can not control. I understand his anguish, but that is not how I deal with a sensitive topic like this one. I need time to process the information, look at it in a calm manner, and then offer a thought.

In which I did by typing this entry. Flesh out what I know to this point, read and understand it, and write my observations.

I don’t know everything. Neither do you.

I am in counseling because I have internalized being slighted, discriminated, and being verbally abused for most of my life. When I was younger, I was prone to losing my temper. Later on in my life, I kept all of that miserable crap to myself. I had no outlet to unload my anger.

I was too afraid that my anger could do harm to myself and others.

I had to find help. I made a choice, as an adult, to get help. Kids are not that lucky.

By hearing the stories my niece tells me about junior high today, I understand why students in today’s schools are stressed, disillusioned, and angry. Many resort to going online to find a community that accepts them for who they are when those in real life (IRL) rejects them. Then when those online starts to reject them, they are faced with “fight or flight”. Some will take their own lives (flight) to end the bullying. Other commit acts of violence against others (fight) to stop it.

The adults experienced those feelings as well. Who uses Facebook or Twitter more?  Adults. Who gets upset more easily? Adults? Who refuses to get help?  Yeah…you got it.

There is no middle ground.

That’s where we need to start at, whether anyone wants to or not.

The middle ground when it comes to understanding how to handle our anger and stop taking it out on others and on ourselves in a destructive manner.

Which is far too often these days.

 

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The “Creative Class” Ideology Going Backwards

The “Creative Class” Ideology Going Backwards

Last week, there was an editorial that should have had more attention and discussion about race and socioeconomics than marches and statues.

That puts me in the minority, pardon the pun, to rehash this topic again.

The Des Moines Register published an editorial on Sunday, August 13th about the racial gaps that African-Americans continued to face in Des Moines.

This might be a dumb question…did they come up with this conclusion on their own, or did they read this and this, and figured out that a no-name hack (me) knew what the hell he was talking about?

Coincidence? I’ll you figure that out on your own.

I asked this in October 2014, and I will ask this again: why is Des Moines is so “progressive” and “diverse”, and yet continue to ignore the “urban core” of their city?

For a city like Des Moines who will organize a protest to stand down against hate, misogyny, and racism, it feels like the people (progressives) who say they are against “hate” are the same ones who must hate the idea of poor individuals living next door to them and would prefer to have those people shepherded off to a different part of town so that their pristine condos and brick house neighborhoods look attractive to new visitors.

In some circles, the “urban core” is code for “black neighborhoods”, “ghettos”, and run down areas that are ripe for enterprise zones and gentrification. The term gentrification today doesn’t strike fear in Millennials and upwardly mobile individuals. There is little to no objections to “white-washing” former blighted areas with high-priced housing, but plenty of demands to jettison statues for symbolic gestures.

The economic disparities and policies that are affecting the minority populations and the so-called “urban core” is real, not propaganda.

American urban studies theorist Richard Florida recently realized that his “creative class” ideology did not pan out the way he anticipated. The “creative class” he envisioned is homogeneous, upper class, and financially well-off (in layman’s terms…white). It was quite obvious, to this writer, that there is a sentiment that most minorities (African-Americans in particular) are not considered as “creative” and not many are part of the “creative class” that Florida and his legion of followers swore by.

I can’t confirm that assumption, but it sure has the smell of it.

It’s about opportunities and affordability (say it with me here, white and black “privilege”). Many in the urban core do not have both, unless you are an elected official representing those areas. I experienced this myself for several years after the recession of 2009. I was seeking opportunities, but I wasn’t a “fit” for businesses, leaders, and individuals in Des Moines. It wasn’t just that I was black, I stuttered, went to a small college, and I was an introvert who wasn’t for small talk and brown-nosing.

I also could not afford to attend events like the Principal Charity Classic, Winefest, and others, despite my love for golf, wine, and art. I had to be in my 20’s, white, upper class, and be someone who would most likely be groomed as a community or business leader. I wasn’t in any of those categories.

I couldn’t afford to live and work downtown, or own a house, if I was a vice president of a bank and paid my bills on time.

Des Moines and other Midwestern cities have fallen into the trap of trying to be “hip”, “progressive”, and “cool”, to entice the “creative class”, Millennials, and rich empty-nesters to move into these cities. If there was a list of current or new condos being built in Des Moines, how many of those current or new residents are African-American, Hispanic-American, or non-white? And out of that list, how many are above the income median range to live there? Let’s see if the Des Moines Register will work on getting those stats.

If it is less than 5%, we have a problem. It’s not diverse. It’s not progressive. It’s the status quo.

How many citizens can afford a $300,000 + condo when they can hardly keep the lights on in a run-down home in the Drake neighborhood (where students attend a private university that many children living in the neighborhood will never be able to afford to go)?

Our zeal to be progressive has caused unintended consequences that has further progressed the gap between a city and it’s minority residents.

I have plenty of thoughts about the editorial and my previous posts, but I’ll stop here.

I don’t want to disturb you from The Solheim Cup, protesting statues, and blaming Russia for our recent troubles.

 

 

A Missing “Core”

A Missing “Core”

Two stories in the Des Moines Register recently caught my eye, and it tied into a piece 2014 piece I wrote.

The Brookings Institute published a report on metro areas that has seen economic recovery after the recession. Des Moines was one of the cities that enjoy “inclusive” economic growth that benefited a diverse range of the region’s population, however, Brookings also indicated that also the greater Des Moines economy is leaving some workers behind, namely poor workers.

The second story was a release of a study from The Directors Council, a local non-profit group, on the widening racial disparities in Polk County and Des Moines.

In October 2014, I wrote on how Des Moines is so progressive in many areas and yet ignoring the African-American community within the urban core. Surprisingly, some groups are finally getting around to addressing these issues. The urban core is poor and most of the citizens of this core are African-Americans.

There are a two questions that I have…

  1. I have never heard of this The Directors Council or the affiliations underneath TDC. I had lived in the Des Moines area for 13 years and not one person of color, or anyone else, has mentioned this group to me. For the record, I am African-American. I have been seeking organizations like these as a way to connect to possible mentors or to establish new networks.
  2. What was this group doing when Ako Abdul-Samad told the National Journal in 2014 about his frustration on how Des Moines has viewed and treated its predominantly black urban core?

There is a lack of African-Americans in (political) leadership, in arts and nonprofits, and in the Des Moines business community. The only time I hear of a prominent African-American in Des Moines, that person is in the business world.

I hear of their names, but I never see them in person.

They must be hard to track down. It’s better to not be seen than to have people recognize you, that is my guess. And no, attending the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s diversity receptions do not count as an official appearance.

When I look back at my experience living and working in Des Moines. I continue to question the willingness of Des Moines to address actual problems regarding the socioeconomic disparities within its city borders, without slapping paint on it and say “everything’s fine”.

The new wave of “gentrification” in the downtown area, unemployment rates for African-Americans, safety for those who live in poorer neighborhoods, and food scarcity with regards to affordability to buy fresh food over cheap junk food are vital topics for the urban core, beyond the common topics of race, unemployment, and economics.

I don’t have an answer to how all of this can be fixed. I’m no policy wonk. I do know that in order for Des Moines (not just city leaders, but business leaders especially) to be actively “inclusive”, they need to do a better job of addressing what it means to be “inclusive” and effectively supporting groups and individuals who are disadvantaged from a socioeconmic standpoint.

Beating The Dead Horse Over And Over

Beating The Dead Horse Over And Over

Unless you have been hibernating since fall, the only thing that America and the world can’t stop tweeting, Facebooking, or talking about is the guy who is in charge.

I’ll save you the agony of not mentioning the name. I don’t really care what you think, but there is something to what content marketer and author Christoph Trappe tweeted above.

You can keep telling the same story, but that story will stop resonating to people. You can spin it, recycle it, and add more to it. But at this point, it’s starting to fall on deaf ears.

What is striking is that once people have a narrative that everyone else has or are using, the less relevant it becomes.

When you keep beating the dead horse into the ground, there isn’t anything else to say or do.

Time to get a new narrative.

It becomes an echo chamber that no one wants to leave. We don’t want to give up the narrative.

Let me save you wasting your time with this:  you’re telling me something already know. Tell me a different story. I’m tired of hearing the same thing day in and day out. It has lost its relevance. I’ve moved on.

I’ll leave you with this from Tully Corcoran from The Big Lead. The crux is that everyone is saying the same thing, but we’re not saying much either about what we already know.

Inside the echo chamber, that is. Outside of it, these words barely even register as interesting, much less persuasive.

The rub is not that (name redacted) voters haven’t realized (name redacted) is cynical and selfish. They know that. Every American has known that for 30 years. The rub is that the temperament of the president is not among their political priorities. Neither Gregg Popovich nor anybody else is going to convince them it should be by grumbling it into a set of microphones just so he doesn’t have to answer another stupid question about momentum, no matter how gold the halo the sports media paints over his silver head.

Popovich is shouting into an echo chamber, and he’s not even shouting anything interesting. The president is a jerk. We get it. Now what?  

We get it. Now what? The story is old.

You’re not going to change anyone’s mind about it.

Tell me something new, or stop telling the narrative. That ship sailed months ago.

And I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. You can keep that hot garbage in your pocket.

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.

mtm2
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”.

alice
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.

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 various stuff and learning how to evolve with the times, 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 deserved to be called a hypocrite.

We love to point fingers at people, when we should be pointing the finger at ourselves. Isn’t that what a hypocrite does? I’m guilty of it too. At least, for this post, I’m admitting that.

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 to them. Voters dismiss them for not doing their “civic duty” in voting.

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 15 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 supports 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 there is 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 given a choice, who would you not see vote? A conspiracy theorist, a racist, or a misogynist? Someone who leans toward a third party candidates, or someone who is not political or 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.

Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans love to use that “card” to show how “great” they are.

Assholes. All of them.

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.