Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, abolitionist, anarchist who likes the letter A

Archive for December, 2012

Stuff You Read 2012

December 28, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

I feel like I hardly posted at all this year. But it turns I actually managed to spew stuff out. You even read some of it. So the top 10 for 2012 are:

And there are a few oldies that are still in the top ten and getting some reads.

Thanks to those of you who have stuck around. Looking at the list, it seems you all want to read about sex, drugs, music, that special brand of bullshit that comes from liberals/feminists, and things referencing my lady parts.  Why am I not surprised?

Degenerates are my people.

P.S. Came across that movie poster looking for a graphic to go with degenerate. How have I never heard of that before? It must be so awful/great. Just don’t make the mistake I did and try to play the trailer at the office.  Ummm. Oops.  NSFW.

2012 – Damn

December 26, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

When I was fourteen a schoolmate of mine hung himself, my father had a stroke, my family lost our business, and the IRS came after us. When I was twenty-six, my father died (something I may finally be ready to write about). Those were by far the two hardest years of my life. 2012 is now added to that list, which is why I have been absent a lot this year.

Not to say that everything in 2012 was horrible. There were some incredible highs too. I also know that those previous roller-coaster years were defining years. I came out a different person each time. Kinda of curious as to who I am going to be after this.

Sometimes I think we may need to screw up our lives and put the pieces back together. It’s just too easy to trade joy and sorrow for safety and contentment. But avoiding pain only causes more pain in the end. That said, I’ll be quite happy to take a break from the roller-coaster for a bit.

One thing I have definitely re-learned after this year is how important and incredible my friends are. Some of them have been there for me for twenty-five years. And I am not always easy to be friends with. Turns out there is such a thing as unconditional love. Took me forty years to believe it. (Even cynical me can be convinced. Who would have thunk it.)

My roommate was talking about bucket lists the other day. I don’t have one. I used to have a whole lot of things I wanted to check off having done with my life. Not anymore. There are lots of places I would love to see and things I would like to do. But I only really have two goals in life now – to be fearless and to be a really good friend.

So goodbye 2012. Much thanks to my friends and to vodka tonics for getting me through this year. No idea what 2013 has in store. But we’ll muddle through it together.



Thanks NRA

December 24, 2012 By: Mel Category: Conflict, Criminalization, Stratification

On Friday, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA held a press conference about the school shooting in Sandy Hook. Naturally, his suggestion was to put armed guards or police in every school. The liberal internets were immediately abuzz slamming one of their favorite bad guys. But nobody seemed to be mentioning the fact that this “crazy” idea from the “far right” NRA isn’t an idea at all. It’s already here.

“In 2009, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68 percent of American students reported the presence of security guards or police officers, or both, in their schools,” says the NYT. But those students aren’t being protected by the “good guys” with guns. They are being abused.

A Houston cop broke a kids jaw on the school bus. Another Texas 12-year-old was arrested for spraying perfume. In Connecticut, a kid was tased for allegedly trying to steal a Jamaican patty in the lunchroom. A California 5-year-old was arrested and charged with battery on a police officer. (Yes. You read that correctly. A 5-year-old.) Another California child, this time 7, was pepper sprayed for climbing on a bookshelf. A New York 12-year-old was arrested for the terrible crime of doodling about loving her friends.

These are not isolated incidents. During a three month period in 2011, an average of 5 students per day were arrested in New York. The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing Birmingham schools for their consistent use of pepper spray on students. Civil rights attorneys are suing Meridian, Mississippi for abusing their students’ civil rights so egregiously that even our sad justice department had to intervene. And then, of course, there are all the students and parents who end up in truancy court.

I could spend the rest of my year finding and posting stories like this, despite that fact that most of the incidents don’t get media attention and juvenile cases are sealed for their “protection”. Not that getting rid of school police and security would make all the abuses go away. The Government Accountability Office found hundreds of cases of kids being abused or killed by school staff.

Some students are far more frequently targets for school cops and administrators. More than 90 percent of arrests in New York in the 2011-12 school year were of black and Latino students. All over the country, students of color and students with disabilities are arrested and disciplined at higher rates“Gay and transgender youth, particularly gender nonconforming girls, are up to three times more likely to experience harsh disciplinary treatment by school administrators than their heterosexual counterparts.” 

And if those kids are unlucky enough to end up in juvenile detention, the abuse will only get worse. 12 percent of youth in juvenile facilities say they have been sexually abused, most often by staff. They are also beaten up, denied access to medical care, denied education, put in restraints, locked in solitary for days or weeks at a time, and sometimes killed. This state by state summary is just the tip of the iceberg.

After everyone started commenting on the NRA press conference, I tweeted that New York Times article and said, “Hey buttheads: 68% of students already have sec guards or police in their schools and it is a fucking disaster”. It got more retweets than anything I’ve ever put out there – by a landslide. I followed that up with some of those incidents above and people even tweeted those.

The thing is, I tweet and blog about these things all the time. In fact, almost everything in this post I have put out before. Nobody pays any attention. It seems people only care about this stuff if the NRA says it is a good idea. So thanks, NRA. Perhaps if you had a press conference every day to suggest that we inundate schools with police, arrest all the students of color, and torture kids for not being perfectly socialized automatons then people would notice. Maybe they’d even want to do something about it.

Things You Might Have Missed

December 20, 2012 By: Mel Category: Misc

If you pay attention to nothing else in this post, please read this piece on how the government created residential segregation in our cities. De facto my ass.

Red Emma’s in Baltimore is expanding. Please help.

Is giving homeless people cigarettes an ethical dilemma or are Swedish health groups full of shit?

Excellent interview with Victoria Law on The Struggles of Incarcerated Women.

The sexual abuse in prisons is just beyond words.

But hey, at least some nonprofits are getting money from prison labor. (Someday I really need to write a book on nonprofits.)

Yup. Obama is a liberal.

Education is not the answer to poverty.

You have probably read The Woes of an American Drone Operator, but just in case.

Incorporation is collusion.

The inside scoop on how Walmart trains managers to keep the workers in line.

I’ve posted this before, but I feel like No One is Innocent needs a repeat.

And happy end of the world. Looks like Michigan closed 33 schools early in preparation. Hope you all have fun plans.


Really, Laura, Really?!

December 19, 2012 By: Mel Category: Conflict, Politics

I had no intention of writing anything about the school shooting in Connecticut. Maybe Pablo Neruda could have found words to talk about something like that, but it is beyond my capacity.

I understand the desire for people to ask how it could happen and how we can prevent it from happening again. But there is a fine line between asking why and using a tragedy to push your pet policy positions or promote your philosophy. It isn’t a line I want to walk.

But then I read this piece on Jezebel and I just can’t let it go.

Some incredibly brave woman wrote about being the mother of a child with serious mental health problems. If you haven’t read I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother yet, do it now.

Try to imagine what it would be like to be that mother. Imagine trying to cope with your kid’s behavior. Imagine the terror every time you hear about a serial killer or mass murderer. Imagine having to wonder – Will I have to put him in prison? Will my kid kill himself? Will he kill me? Will he kill somebody else? What if my only option to stop him from killing me or someone else is to kill him? You know that thought has to have gone through her mind.

If that child ever does anything horrible, the first thing anyone will ask is where the parents were. No. Scratch that. They will ask where the mother was. They will want to assess blame. They will want to dissect every action that woman has taken. They will want to know why nobody was warned.

Well, we have been warned. And we have been pleaded with. That mother put all her anguish out for the world to see. But instead of thinking about how hard that was, how hard it must be to live like that, some compassion-challenged asshat at Jezebel called the woman’s torment a distraction.

A fucking distraction.

According to Laura Beck, we are supposed to leave mental health diagnosis to the experts. But someone whose last posts included World’s Best Airport Pianist and Alison Brie Loves to Rap, Danny Pudi Loves to Beat Box is fully qualified to declare that mental health care needs to take a back seat to gun control. And if that means using someone else’s tragedy and shitting all over a woman’s cry for help. Fuck em.

No. Laura. Fuck you.

I rarely blog anything truly personal, at least not the details. It is so difficult to dig up the most painful things that happen to you and lay them out for the world. And there are too many Lauras out there who can’t even see what it is that they are shitting on.

So when I read something like I am Adam Lanza’s Mother, the only thing I am thinking about is what it would be like to experience that. I’m thinking how fucking hard it would be to share it and how hard it would be to not share it. And I’m thinking – Whatever you do, lady, don’t read the comments!

So, Laura Beck, how about this. How about you take the most awful thing that has ever happened to you in your life and write about it. How about you dredge up all the pain and splay it out for the internets to use and to tear apart and to tell you how your pain is completely besides the point. Maybe then you might find some tiny bit of compassion in there somewhere?

No? Well then stick to writing about airport pianists.

Shut Up, Be Perfect

December 18, 2012 By: Mel Category: Conflict, Stratification

This weekend I got into an argument about music. The person I was arguing with was blasting gangsta rap for glorifying behavior that was ruining their own communities. He even went so far as to say that the music, and everything it stood for, was causing racism.

I went a little apoplectic.

I may not be a huge fan of music that is often violent, materialistic, and misogynist. But I’m not going to blame a musician for white flight, urban decay, omnipresent policing, mass incarceration, the drug war, shitty schools, racist employers… I’m not going to hold a musician responsible for racism because a white supremacist uses them as an excuse. And I am sure as hell not going to accept that kind of blaming coming from someone at the top of the privilege food chain – which he was.

I thought of writing about how racist and classist that shit is. I thought of writing about how difficult it is to balance individual responsibility with structural oppression. But what I really want to write about is having an outlet.

We live in a world that is completely fucked up and filled with pain. Yet we aren’t allowed to express how fucked up it is. We have no strategies for coping with pain. We don’t even want to hear about people’s pain, much less help them deal with it. We don’t want to know what goes on in people’s homes and neighborhoods if it isn’t shiny, happy, and uplifting. And if you have thoughts that fall outside the spectrum of what is socially acceptable, you better hide them or else.

I was filled with rage when I was a teen. And I had a lot less to be raging about than some people. There were times when I had incredibly violent thoughts. There were times when the targets of my anger were wildly off the mark. The only coping mechanisms I ever learned were denial, sarcasm, booze, and flight. I learned to internalize the rage. I drank it, smoked it, snorted it, and walled it off. And I walled off a lot of other emotions with that rage too.

And that’s the way a lot of people like it.

People don’t want to know about your anger, righteous or not. Just take a Xanax and numb it so nobody has to see it. Don’t say anything inappropriate. Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve  Don’t cry in public. Don’t yell. Don’t make a scene. Don’t be destructive. Don’t be embarrassing. Don’t be perverted. Don’t admit that some things might not be fixable. Don’t show people things that they don’t want to see.

And whatever you do, make sure whatever coping mechanisms you have don’t get in the way of you being a good worker bee. Cause if you can’t manage to find and put up with a degrading 9 – 5 that pays your rent and rehab bills, we don’t want to know you.

I may hate violence, but I understand rage. I may hate materialism, but I understand the desire to have things when you’ve had to struggle. I understand that it is hard to live in a society where you gain status through violence and money without internalizing it. And I really understand how difficult it is to even acknowledge a maelstrom of emotions, much less channel them into something constructive. I understand that sometimes you just need to scream some shit out and have some person somewhere acknowledge that what you see is real and it is fucked up.

I’m not saying that cultural products don’t matter. They influence the way we look at the world. We should criticize them. But we can’t blame them for our social ills. Sometimes the most offensive things can start useful discussions. Sometimes a person just needs an outlet to express their emotions, horrible as they may be. If singing about something keeps you from doing it, that’s a good thing. If singing about something makes someone else think they should do it, the problem isn’t the song but the fact that the other person didn’t have an outlet themselves.

We are never going to have a world where nobody thinks terrible thoughts, hates irrationally,  or is just unable to deal with their pain. I don’t think any of us will be alive to see a world without poverty, violence, and oppression. Maybe if we gave people a little more space to express their fuckedupedness, instead of pretending like people pop out of the womb with all the answers and have perfect understanding at age 18, we could minimize the harm we do to ourselves and others.

But instead of trying to understand where the rage comes from and why so many people identify with it, we just tell people to shut up.