Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…

Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…

Early this year, in the mad grab for Hamilton tickets, I decided to go ahead and get a full subscription to the Hippodrome in Baltimore. I invited a friend to join me, and we got a pair of tickets for the coming season. Continue reading “Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…”

How we process the news from Santa Barbara…

How we process the news from Santa Barbara…

In this world, too many people see discussions as only about one topic or another, and these folks shun the idea that topics have many subtopics and sources.

The world of Elliot Rodger is by no means exclusive, but if his actions bring these multiple threads of discussion to a head, perhaps we can have the discussions we need to that will help us get past what corporate interests prefer not to discuss for the sake of continuing to generate revenue at the cost of human lives.

In this discussion, but by no means an exhaustive list: Misogyny, misandry, gun control, mental illness, autism, entitlement, politics and more. Every single one of these topics has something to do with the murders and injuries in Santa Barbara, but not the way you might think. And for me, this post has been coming since Sandy Hook and Aurora, but until now I couldn’t wrap my mind around the pile of implications and threads without being afraid either of outing myself or offending someone else, so I’ll say this first and get it out of the way, because you need to know.

It all starts with

#YesAllWomen

And it ends with

#NotAllMen

Now before you blow up all over me and say I’m interested in taking away ALL TEH GUNZ, as some now-unfriended people have done in the past, let me share some facts with you:

1. I have been in therapy on and off since I was a teenager. Losing a parent early is bad enough, but I also suffered bouts of depression and headaches and cramps that were bad enough to put me out of commission for a couple of days. Add to that being unable to get organized because I would start one process and then ten hours later find I’d gotten sidetracked and only partially finished the original goal, but forgot those 15 other things that also needed doing (along with the food I was supposed to eat regularly), well, that’s ADHD in a nutshell. Add to all this a separation from my husband and how to handle his behavior and the aftermath of the break-up, and death of a parent, and it’s not a surprise. I have been on medication but am not now and have not been for the better part of a year, and in that year I’ve accomplished Dean’s List two semesters running. My ability to cope has been tested sorely and I’ve come out okay on the other side.

Mental illness comes in all forms and so do other mental issues. I’ve never considered myself a danger to others. I used to think it was all on me, that I was broken, but no more. Having watched my ex-relationships and how they handle their current relationships, I’ve come to realize my biggest fault is in the relationship choices I’ve made and not so much with me. Some of the problems I’ve had could be chalked up to immaturity, narcissism flawed logic on the part of the opposite sex. I’m tired of playing romance roulette and I’m not looking anymore, mostly for this reason. And I’m mostly okay with that.

2. I grew up in a household with an NRA member who also smoked. I never picked up either habit, though I am a fair shot with a .22 rifle. I have spent time with people who were doing drugs, but never knowingly took drugs on my own or sought out more than alcohol and I don’t drink much now because I don’t like the effect or (in many cases) the taste.

3. I have suffered sexual abuse, above and including the “dirty phone call” variety. In more than one instance I was not a consenting adult. Only one time did someone of the opposite sex hit me, and he’s been out of my social circle for an extended period of time. No, I won’t go into details. The statute of limitations ran out a long time ago.

4. I like movies quite a bit, but am increasingly uncomfortable with what I see in them, especially when they revolve around relationships between men and women. The Bechdel Test is weighing particularly heavily on my mind just now.

So, when the news broke about Santa Barbara over the weekend, I had plenty of thoughts on the subject, but until I started seeing responses on my Facebook feed, I was willing to ignore them until I could get my thoughts to gel.

What follows are a number of articles and videos, in what I think are appropriate order. You can feel free to follow my path down through the material or just take my word for it: We have a major problem on our hands and we don’t even know how to talk about it because these issues are coming up and getting in the way of the conversation.

We can start with Ann Hornaday’s response (auto-launch video warning!) to the critical feedback she received on her scathing article published May 25, 2014, in which she indicts the Hollywood movie machine as a foundation for the problem of male entitlement.

What follows here are four reactions, every one of them written by men. I want you to read what these four men have to say on the subject. I am excluding from this conversation the father of one of the male victims in the Santa Barbara rampage because he’s addressing his questions to congress. In the end, this is what you must do, as well, or the conversation will not change.

First, regarding the shooter’s mental health condition, a subject that should really be investigated further because we do NOT treat mental illness the way we should and we never ever have. Worse, assumptions by the police that it isn’t as bad as observers have seen has much to do with lack of training, coupled with a lack of beds in hospitals and the lack of trained medical staff for dealing with violent mental illness.

Washington Post: Sheriff: Calif. shooter Rodger flew ‘under the radar’ when deputies visited him in April

That the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance companies restrict access to care and shunt everyone to drugs first is a failure to address the fundamental problem: We are not equipped to handle mental illness because it’s not in the interests of drug companies to fix a problem that nets them billions of dollars annually.

These situations exist because we have failed both the families of our most fragile citizens who know better and try to warn about the dangers and those victims who likely never knew what hit them or why. There is but one target for this: Our laws fail us and our lawmakers fail us because they answer to the industry and not the people.

But then, there are those in congress who prefer to blame the mentally ill and regulatory failures instead of looking at why those gaps exist:

Washington Post: GOP’s Rep. King calls for more background checks in wake of Calif. killings

Rep. King’s views aren’t new, but they are politically motivated, and it’s still easier to point a finger at background checks without recognizing that without a universal database to check, such a system will fail, and such infrastructure simply doesn’t exist because of the taboo discussion regarding mental illness in the first place. So sure, go ahead and talk as if a background check might have kept the violence from happening, but it’s a smokescreen on a much larger problem.

And on top of all this, there’s the dreaded “Autism = Murder” issue that came up with Sandy Hook. I read the article below when it came out, and I think it bears rereading. I know at least a dozen people in my social circle who fall somewhere on the spectrum. Everyone wants something to blame to try and explain the actions of murderers. Consider these words before you become part of the problem:

Psychology Today – Asperger’s, Autism, and Mass Murder: Let’s stop the rush to judgment.

Two more articles, and I’m done for now. I’ve posted at least one of these on my Facebook feed already, but both bear reading and further reflection.

First:

Slate – Not all men: How discussing women’s issues gets derailed

and second:

Patheos.com – John Beckett: Dude, It’s You

If you want to have the discussion here, you’d best spend the time and read these last two articles because I will boot you otherwise.

You can feel free to share this information. We can’t have the discussion if we don’t recognize the foundation for the problem.

Did I hear you right…?

Did I hear you right…?

You know, aside from the questionable benefits of drinking overpriced coffee or (in the case of last Friday) tea, and solid support for Marriage Equality – among other things – I gotta give Starbucks credit for hiring people who are generally literate.

Last Friday, I walked in fresh from a philosophical lunchtime discussion that was about to get a lot deeper, about the detrimental effects a professor whose delivery method lacks quite a bit in terms of clarity but who claims to be an authority, and what his impressionable students take away with them having encountered his authoritarian views on the subject.

The subject came up because I was simply appalled at the description said prof gave of a historical British figure, Benjamin Disraeli, the only “Jewish” prime minister of Britain. (a technicality, because Disraeli became a member of the Anglican Church at the age of 12).

It wasn’t the mention of Disraeli but the racial description that caught me off guard. I imagine the point was that this is what people thought of him, but the stereotypical framing of Disraeli’s features, his “annoying voice” (as seen in the movies…yes, really) were classic. And (IMNSHO) dead wrong. How do you prolong a stereotype? Repeat it. In class. When students are hanging on to every word as if it might appear on a test, which is possible.

So we talked about this, at length, at lunch. I know the guy means well, but if I hadn’t been running late, I might have stopped and given my prof a piece of my mind. I’ll be over it again by Wednesday, so I’ll let it rest for now, but on Friday we continued to discuss the subject, up to the point where the barista was working on filling measuring cups with hot steamed milk. She overheard the conversation and pointed me to the article below.

TED Talks: Chimamanda Adichie:
The danger of a single story

I’ll admit, I’ve been on TED a few times, and I’m pleased that NPR is picking up on these stories as jumping off points, so I get to hear about them more often than I have in a while, but she caught me off guard by agreeing with me on the subject. Bravo for her!

If we only hear one point of view, we might never know there are other points to believe. If the only stories we read are about people who are not us, we lose our own stories and we lose our frame of reference. It’s the danger I see in religious-based homeschooling as well. If you restrict the teaching so you never cover science, if your only sources for truth are intentionally omitting  important data, you’ll never know what you’re missing.

And if a professor draws a conclusion that Disraeli is the epitome of a Jew because he has short dark curly hair, small, beady eyes and a big nose, then that’s what you will come to expect. If you opt not to open your eyes to reality, you’ll be surprised to find people of African descent with blue eyes because it never occurs to you that blue eyes are recessive, not impossible. (I made that mistake 20 years ago and never forgot the look on my doctor’s face when I expressed surprise. I should have known better. Now I do.)

This point was so shocking, I lost a portion of the lecture in trying to wrap my mind around what he said.

If we are surprised at the political leanings of the White Student Union of Towson, we should look to our educators. These kids had to learn it somewhere. But that’s not all. Take a gander at the comments in this article from Towson’s Patch.

White Student Union Speaker Preaches Racial Separateness
More than 200 people visited Towson University to hear Jared Taylor, a self-described “racial realist.”

We’re on shaky ground in my class. We’re getting ready to talk about pre-Nazi Germany. Just as it’s easy to fall into the trap of self-diagnosis when one is a medical student, it’s also too easy to see Nazis everywhere. Trouble is, the Tea Party has built much of its party line on the foundation of racial supremacy, intolerance and nationalism, the same foundation on which the Nazis rose to power.

It’s hard not to see them everywhere. The only question (and I think it’s a good one) is whether we have enough of a balance to keep the wolves at bay. There’s an awful lot of paranoia out there right now, and a whole bunch of it is armed to the teeth, supported by the NRA and by power brokers like the Koch brothers.

“Just because you’re paranoid
doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

–Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Theme: Elation by Kaira.