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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Little Monsters

Image from Google

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago entitled There Will Always be Monsters. In that article, I wrote about adults who exhibit sociopathic behaviors, but one of the men featured, Edmund Kemper, committed his first atrocious crime as a teenager. Kemper murdered his own grandparents and was sent to a maximum security psychiatric facility. He was released and sent back into society uncured, unrepentant and more disturbed than before.

On February 7th, two boys ages 10 and 11 were arrested at an elementary school in Washington state. A fourth grade student alerted school officials when said student noticed one of the boys playing with a knife on the school bus. Searches of the boys and their backpacks revealed a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun, ammunition and notes, revealing a plan to murder other students. The majority of their rage was focused on a girl they both knew-she was to be their first victim.

Reports from numerous media outlets state the boys are being held on $100,000 each and a judge determined they are competent to stand trial in juvenile court. One of the most telling statements has come from two sides who normally do not agree: the defense psychologist and the state's psychiatrist. Both believe that these boys, a 10-year old and an 11-year old, are a danger to the community.

According to CNN, the two boys planned to kill at least 6 other students but wanted to murder the female classmate first. Court papers reveal the older boy showed no emotion or remorse during the police interview where he admitted their murder plot. The semi-automatic handgun was stolen by the younger boy from his older brother, who had stolen it from the home of their dead grandfather.

We know absolutely nothing about either of these boys. We know nothing of their home life, their medical history, any genetic testing that may have been performed. So, at this point, we need to enter the realm of speculation.

Are these two boys sociopaths? Diagnosing antisocial personality disorder in kids is extremely risky, and most clinicians will not accept information about anyone under the age of eighteen. However, with what little we are learning from the mainstream media about these two boys, it begs the question at the beginning of this paragraph-are these two boys sociopaths? If so, what can be done?

Treatment for antisocial personality disorder is difficult at best. You are looking at a person who typically has no empathy, no concept of emotion or feelings, does not understand the difference between right and wrong and in many cases, simply doesn't care. They are extremely manipulative, even charming. And they're incredibly smart. In order to navigate a world where the majority of people are nothing like you, you have to be able to "act" normal. Which takes intelligence.

In an episode of "Law and Order: SVU," a psychiatrist points out "You can't grow a conscience," speaking about a young boy who has murdered another child. Maybe, but can you teach someone to control their darkness? Jeff Lindsay, the creator of Dexter, writes about a sociopath who calls his urges the "Dark Passenger." Yes, this is fiction, but what if it's possible to teach these two boys (if they are in fact sociopaths) to control their own "Passengers?"

This story affected me as a parent. I have no idea what kind of families these kids come from, but I know that if the households are normal, their own parents are going through hell right now. Imagine looking in the mirror and realizing your child is incapable of remorse or any feeling at all. Who do you blame if not yourself?

Thank you to The Washington Post, CNN and The Mayo Clinic for information contained in this article.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

And lo, the Easter Bunny did appear

Image from Google

Bill O'Reilly and the cavalcade of talent that passes for whatever they are over at Fox News are all lathered up about the War on Easter being waged by secular Marxists in America. Father Bill has gone so far as to claim we liberals are so evil, so warped that we would completely disrespect this most sacred of Christian holidays by going after its primary symbol: the Easter Bunny.

After all, it is written in the Book of Peeps that the angel rolled away the stone from the cave and discovered a giant rabbit, festooned with glittery fur, carrying a pastel colored wicker basket filled with plastic grass and brightly colored eggs. And in passage four, verse twelve, the Apostle Steve writes:

"Mary ran to us, tears of joy streaming down her face and said 'He has hidden eggs behind bushes and rocks and if we believe, we are charged with finding them!'"

Maybe because Jesus was in a cave, Pastor O'Reilly has confused the resurrected Bunny with the evil rabbit from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The rabbit with "huge, pointy teeth!" also lived in a cave, but if that's the Easter Bunny, parents better be prepared for missing limbs and a lot of blood.

Fox is also entertaining the notion that nasty, mean liberals are attacking Easter Egg Rolls all over the country, because some schools are calling those rolls "Spring Egg Rolls." Okay, wait a minute. A spring egg roll is a Chinese appetizer. Are there really schools tossing Chinese egg rolls down hills? And what the hell does that have to with the resurrected Bunny?

To sum up, anarchist liberals are waging war against the Easter Bunny because according to Reverend Bill-O, that's the primary symbol of Easter. We are also bound and determined to turn Easter into a Chinese buffet. Since Jewish people eat Chinese food at Christmas, it's easy to see how Mr. Bill would get confused. Someone tell him about Passover.

To sum up again, because we need more summing, Jesus isn't as important as a large rabbit hiding hard boiled eggs in a ficus, egg rolls are actually Chinese spring rolls, Jews eat Chinese food during Passover and this is all our fault.

I'm not even going into the War on Lumpy Rug Day.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Why do some on the left support Rand Paul?

Image from sayitaintsoalready.com


I will be the first to admit there are things in this world that confuse me. Quantum physics. Neuroscience. The Kardashians. But at the moment, the idea most perplexing to me is the far FAR left's support of Rand Paul.

Do you know what Rand Paul did this past week? He introduced a "personhood" bill. And this is what he said about it:

“The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known – that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward,” Paul said in a statement. “The right to life is guaranteed to all Americans in the Declaration of Independence and ensuring this is upheld is the Constitutional duty of all Members of Congress.” (From Raw Story)

Rand Paul believes life begins at conception, and in a week that saw Utah and Kansas battling it out for the title "Worst State in America if you're a Woman," his bill is particularly noxious. What this would do is criminalize all abortion. How is that smaller government?

It turns out that Rand Paul, much like his daddy, only supports smaller government when it comes to regulation, foreign aid (especially to Israel) and discrimination. Rand Paul would like to do away with federal laws prohibiting businesses from discriminating against minorities. He doesn't think that's fair, you see, and disagrees with much of the Civil Rights Act. According to a statement made during an interview with CNN in 2012, Rand Paul equates not being able to have a "cigar bar" with not being able to tell black people they can't eat in your restaurant.

Senator Rand Paul also has issues with the Supreme Court, especially regarding the Affordable Healthcare Act (Remember-it was during Ron Paul's answer at a Republican presidential debate that one of his supporters screamed out "Let him die!"). He has taken it upon himself as a former eye doctor to bitch slap SCOTUS, saying "Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be 'constitutional' does not make it so." In Rand Paul's world, it's Rand Paul, dammit, who decides what is and isn't constitutional, kiss his ass, pass the Water Buddha.

Is it the pot? I mean, really, is that it? Are herbal teabaggers willing to ignore the racism and the vote against VAWA and the "state's rights" coded language and the personhood and his belief in creationism just for marijuana? Oh wait, it's drones. About that. In an oped Paul penned for the Washington Times, he wrote that border security needs to include drones. And in response to the senator's 13-hour filibuster on drones, Eric Holder sent him a nice letter telling Senator Rand Paul that he was in fact wrong. Oh the indronanity. 

If you want to support Rand Paul, fine, but don't call yourself a liberal. Call yourself a right wing libertarian, because that's what you are. You're as much a liberal as Glenn Beck, and trust me, he's no liberal.

Thanks to Raw Story, Daily Kos, Huffington Post and The Washington Times.

Your FEMA Re-education Camp

Image from Facebook


I was honored and slightly terrified when The Director of Your FEMA Re-education Camp agreed to an interview with me. Honored because FEMA Camps are popping up all over George Soros's America, terrified because if I don't do a good job, I will end up somewhere dark and unpleasant, covered in K'Ayle™. Please like this interview-I can't watch another Carrot Top movie. Presenting *10 Questions and Answers from The Director.


Thanks for doing this interview! The gist of this is Your FEMA Re-education Camp is an actual camp, you are some sort of totalitarian leader and we are all slaves to the new regime.

That is not the “gist”. That is the reality.

1) Tell us a little about Your FEMA Camp-is it sanctioned by the new regime? Do you receive federal funding? Do you have to pay Carrot Top royalties when you use his movies as punishment?

FEMA Camp is a wholly owned subsidiary of the US Government, which is to say it's paid for by George Soros. We do not pay Carrot Top. Carrot Top is allowed to roam. He is what is referred to as a UI or Useful Idiot. The number of guns we can confiscate goes up dramatically when he is on the television.

2) What are some of the transgressions that result in being sent to The Trotsky Building? And what is The Trotsky Building?

Questions like that one will get you into the basement of the Trotsky Building. And the first rule of the Trotsky Building is insuring that the Trotsky Building is not introduced into casual conversation.

3) Why is the only food served kale, and do you have a patent on K'Ayle™?

I will not comment on kale, K'ayle™ or kale/K'ayle™ products given a case pending before the 9th circuit court.

4) Has anyone ever tried to escape, and if so, what happened to them? What was their punishment?

Yes. And you'll have to ask them that when they get back from their Mortal Re-assignment Service. 

5) Do you envision FEMA Camps all over America at some point? If so, how would you "recruit?" Is there a questionnaire?

Envision? You're adorable. We currently have 429 FEMA Camps up and operational. Once DLPO starts his third term, the mass purges will begin. There is no questionnaire. There are only our squads of jack booted urban thugs and atheists.

6) How did you become aware of George Soro's plan to take over America?

It was called the 2008 election. 

7) What media are "residents" allowed to read or view, if any? 

Obviously, the FEMA Camp Primer which must be memorized and recited when a Citizen is singled out. The works of Lenin, Marx, Chairman Mao are required as is Philosophy In The Bedroom (DeSade). Elective reading includes Sinclair Lewis, Michel Foucault and Erma Bombeck. As for movies – Eisenstein, Goddard, Kim Jung Il and the Police Academy series because sometimes funny is just funny.

8) What does DLPO stand for and why?

DLPO stands for Dear Leader President Obama. Because he is our Dear Leader and because that is his name.

9) And finally, if one wishes to tour Your FEMA Camp, visit the gift shop and pick up a tee shirt, how would one find you?

You will not find us. We will find you.

*There were 10 questions originally, but question number five was deemed anarchistic in nature, banned and I was given voluntary shock treatment. For further information on Your FEMA Re-education Camp, please visit The Director's Facebook page.

Friday, March 22, 2013

From the desk of Stacey Campfield (draft)

Image from MSN.


Dear Conservative Tennesseans,

It is with great pleasure that I write to you today, letting you know of the cancellation of Sex Week at the University of Tennessee.  That

You can become gay by being around gay people. Did you know that? If a normal woman has a friend who's a lesbian, in less than a year that normal woman will be wearing flannel shirts, have a crew cut and stop listening to country music.


Why did my mom give me a girl's name?

This is something I've never told anyone, but I think Lorenzo Lamas is a really good looking man. I mean, look at his hair and his chiseled jaw. He must work out, because you could bounce quarters off his stomach. I wonder where he gets his teeth whitened.

I hate my life.

When everyone under the goddamn sun came after me about my Don't Say Gay Bill, I really thought about starting up with the Everclear again. I mean, holy shit. All I wanted was for kids to be straight, since it's a choice and all, but NOOO. Jesus, Sulu even got involved with that whole Just Say Takei crap. People do not have a clue how hard it is to be a guy named Stacey and have people always think I'm gay. I'm NOT GAY.

Why do people hate me? I just try to hate the same people Jesus says to hate, which is really difficult since technically, Jesus didn't hate anyone. He should have. Like whores and sluts and those adorable men at my wife's hair salon.

I want a pair of cashmere socks. To go hunting.

Maybe I need therapy. I had no idea how stressful being a congressman would actually be. I thought I'd cut ribbons in front of restaurants and kiss babies and play touch football and shoot shit. No one told me I'd have to work. Or get hated so much. Or deal with all the gay stuff. There are a lot of gays in Tennessee, which makes absolutely no sense to me. It's the SOUTH for God's sake. Oh and now we have Negro gays. How much can a man be expected to take?

I gotta go. Love in Christ and all that shit.

Stacey.

Note: This letter was discovered in a trash bin outside Congressman Stacey Campfield's office. It was found underneath a dogeared copy of "Playgirl," two ticket receipts to "Les Miserables" and an empty box of condoms.

Also note: It's satire. No really.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Steubenville, Ohio: Learning Misogyny

Image from mislabeled.wordpress.com

Thursday, as I sat in the hair salon, I overheard an older woman next to me talking about the Steubenville rape victim. I didn't catch all of her comments, but the one I did hear made my stomach flip over. She said "Well the way these girls 'trump' themselves around..." Now "trump" was obviously her attempt at the past tense of "tramp," and frankly, the fact that I am typing this and not in jail is a testament to my own self control.

What's interesting is her opinion is fairly common.  We've all heard "If parents didn't let their daughters dress like that," or "Boys can't control themselves," or my personal favorite, "If you're drunk, what do you expect?" I'll tell you what I expect: I expect to not be raped.

In America, and other countries, "good girls" don't get raped. Whores get raped, sluts get raped, drunks get raped but good girls just skate through life because they're, well, good. If a girl gets raped, it's her own fault for not being good enough.

Steubenville is a conservative town. This is an excerpt from a 2012 article in The Washington Post about Rick Santorum wooing voters in Ohio:

"Steubenville is home to precisely the combination of religious conservatives and blue-collar Rust Belt voters..." 

When it comes to rape, conservative pundits and politicians have a poor history at best. Legitimate rape. Rape is like the weather-if it's inevitable, just lie back and enjoy it. Some girls rape easy. VAWA is a waste of money. Look at what happened to Zerlina Maxwell-she appeared on Sean Hannity's program, spoke to the fact that we should be teaching men not to rape, and in response, Fox viewers sent her death and rape threats. 

Unless Steubenville has the largest concentration of natural born sociopaths on the planet, someone is teaching kids in that town to think about rape the same way many on the right do. And who is charged with raising children, teaching them right from wrong, pointing their moral compass in the correct direction? Parents. Parents who have failed in Steubenville, Ohio.

Earlier this week, two teenage girls were arrested for sending death threats to the young woman who was raped in Steubenville. Read that again: teenage girls threatened to kill a girl their age who was raped by football players. Someone raised those two girls, someone told them either directly or indirectly that rape victims are sluts who ruin people's lives. 

Rape culture starts at home. It doesn't start with social media or right wing pundits, it starts with parents. Parents who listen to Rush Limbaugh call a college student a slut and Glenn Beck call a senator a prostitute and Dana Perino blame Kassandra Perkins for her own murder pass that onto their kids. Their kids end up raping a teenage girl, or defending the rapists or threatening to kill a victim of rape. Their kids grow up, have kids of their own and the cycle of hate and misogyny continues.

Yes, we need to blame the young men who laughed as an unconscious girl was urinated on and joked how she was "deader that OJ Simpson's wife." Yes, we need to blame the coach who knew what happened and covered it up. We also need to blame the parents of these monsters. To rape this young, to be unwilling or unable to empathize with the victim tells of a deeper problem in Steubenville and in America. We as parents are charged with a heady task. We are supposed to raise children who bring light into the world, not darkness. It is our job to help create wonderful, kind and loving people, in spite of Facebook and Reddit and 4Chan and in spite of the rape culture so prevalent in this country. 

If we cannot do that, all is lost. I have had the most uncomfortable talks with our son over the past year about rape and violence and language. But I know that my husband and myself are raising a young man who brings light into the world. I wonder if the parents in Steubenville can say the same.

Image of high school poll from fearus.org


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why conservatives really want to overturn HIPAA

Image from Cafe Mom.com

A week after the slaughter of twenty little children in Newtown, Connecticut, NRA rabid dog Wayne LaPierre held a no questions allowed press conference. During his commercial speech, Mr. LaPierre blamed everything but guns for gun violence, including mental illness. And they were off.

Over the past few months, many on the right have called for the end of HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. They decry the rights of people who may suffer from mental illness to be afforded the same kind of privacy the rest of society enjoys. Conservatives will tell you that getting rid of HIPAA would ensure the safety of our children, because "crazy people" would not have access to firearms. 

The young man who murdered those twenty children did not purchase any of the weapons he used. He stole them from his mother, who by all accounts was probably emotionally unstable, but had no medical history of mental illness. HIPAA had no bearing on Sandy Hook, but conservatives and gunnuts (remember, it's one word) refuse to see that. The reason? HIPAA protects another group of Americans, a group so vile and evil that to speak its name is tantamount to treason in this country. Women who receive abortions.

Pro-fetus organizations are no longer content with standing outside women's health facilities, waving photos of late-term aborted fetuses and trying to pass them off as first trimester abortions. Screaming and shaming young women trying to exercise their right to choose has lost some of its luster. What's a zealot to do? Why, lobby for the end of HIPAA so those women's names and addresses are available for public viewing. 

Imagine the following scenario (I bet pro-fetus groups have): Late into the night, Operation Save the Fetus Starve the Child searches medical records for the local women's clinic and eureka!, a name appears. We'll call her Jane Slut, because you know they would. Using Google maps, the leader of the group, Pastor Dick in the Closet discovers Jane Slut's home address. Leaping into their minivan covered in pro-fetus bumper stickers, they hightail it over to Jane's house, grab their picket signs, photos and Holy Stoning Stones and proceed to scream into her house with a bullhorn. When Jane turns on her porch light, Pastor Dick in the Closet's wife, Annie Quiverfull lobs a large rock into Jane's front door. Praise conservative Jesus, pass the Thunderbird wine.

The next time a conservative member of the pro-fetus brigade begins preaching about ending HIPAA, remember-it's not the kids they're worried about, it's the zygotes. Twenty dismembered first graders mean nothing to the right wing. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The angel who paints angels: An interview with Anne Rice

Image of Anne Rice from Wikipedia.

When Anne Rice sits down to begin a book, she sees her characters as if she is looking at a "three wall stage set." She sees Lestat walking, brooding, thinking, She hears her characters' voices, she thinks what they think. Anne Rice creates the most powerful stories by envisioning everything she is about to write, by putting aside all conscious awareness and entering the world in which her characters live.

For the millions of us who have loved Anne's books, we know the wonder of her words. We know the common theme that runs through her novels-the need and desire to be loved and accepted. I asked Anne about that theme, and she shared with me a bit about her childhood. Anne never felt as if she belonged; she felt like a freak, she was a freak. She and her sisters were "outsiders," never quite fitting the class into which they were born. It's that vulnerability, that humanity which draws readers to Anne's work. We see a piece of ourselves in her characters.

Anne's books are filled with romanticism, passion and mystery. She remembers falling in love with New Orleans as a child, especially the homes and the gardens. In many of her novels, the houses and dwellings become characters of their own, with distinct quirks and personalities. When Anne finally purchased her own home in New Orleans, it was a fulfillment of all her childhood fantasies.

Raised in the Catholic church, Anne found herself often at odds with the teachings and doctrine of her religion. She recalled telling a nun she wanted to be a "Bohemian," and the nun looked at Anne, telling her that lifestyle was "wild" and "full of sin."As she grew and learned and lived, Anne realized that there were many aspects of Catholicism with which she simply could not, and would not agree. Her faith challenged, Anne left not only the church but Christianity, embracing Atheism. In her heart, she knew she believed in the message of Christ; she simply did not want to follow the "followers." In 2010, Anne Rice discovered the kind of "Christian" she needed to be, writing on her Facebook page:

“In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

We spoke at length about her decision and the motivation behind it. Anne has studied theology as a lay person, and she has spoken with religious scholars about the life and true message of Christ. What she has discovered is extraordinary. Today's Christianity is the work of the followers. Jesus did not create a religion, He was God made man, born of a woman, placed on Earth to tell us about ourselves. 

Fundamentalists cling to the old law and lie about it at the same time, Anne told me. They use God to frighten Christians into believing in original sin, even though the resurrection of Christ nullifies the old laws. Anne believes that God never turns His back on His people, not even when we sin. Conservatives have convoluted Christ's message to support their own fear and paranoia, especially in regards to the LGBT community.

What right wing Christians don't understand, Anne explained, is that they are being used. Republican politicians realized decades ago that in order to garner the conservative vote, they needed something for Christians to fear. So they took LGBT equality and used it to feed the beast of hate. Anne truly believes that we are nearing the end of this period and that we must make certain gay teenagers understand this. She told me this was a huge political and tactical mistake on the part of Republicans-blowing LGBT rights so far out of proportion-because more and more people are seeing that marriage equality will not be the end of civilization. 

As she learned more about the true Christ, Anne felt compelled to write what she believed His life would have been. In 2005, Anne published Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, followed in 2008 with Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. Out of Egypt tells the story of Jesus's childhood, while The Road to Cana charts His journey into manhood. Her love of Christ and her understanding of His life resonate throughout both books. It is Christ she follows, and in walking her own path, Anne continues to spread His true message of love and acceptance. Anne is currently working on the third novel in the Christ the Lord trilogy.

Anne Rice will always be a Bohemian. She will never fit in, but we love that about her. Anne is a writer of exquisite talent, a wild child with a heart of gold and a true believer in the message of love and equality given to us by Christ. Anne Rice will never "follow the followers," and for that we are eternally grateful.

{Note: The title of this piece is a play on words. It comes from Anne Rice's book Lestat, and the original quote reads "Doesn't matter now, devils who paint angels."]








Rules for falling apart

Image from Tumblr.

I know. Rules? For falling apart?  Just follow me for the duration of this piece, and I will teach you how to fall apart without destroying yourself or others.

Sunday sucked large, pus filled donkey balls. Survivors of sexual violence watched in absolute horror as mainstream media vilified a teenage rape victim and bemoaned her attackers' punishment. Men and women all over America sat in wide eyed wonderment, reading Yahoo's articles that consistently mentioned the "alleged" victim as "intoxicated." We struggled not to put a golf club through our televisions when Candy Crowley practically wept on air over the two rapists "ruined" lives. 

Survivors have been through hell and we're still here. Jane Doe, the rape victim (yes, CNN, the rape victim) in Ohio will be okay eventually. And on top of Sunday, we all have our normal Monday stuff, or maybe added fun like a child being bullied or the flu or a parent with Alzheimer's or whatever else is floating through our lives right now and we will be okay. We just have to follow the rules.

Rule 1: Do not hurt yourself. Don't start drinking if you've been dry for a decade. Don't go looking to score dope if you're been clean for 15 years. Don't binge eat. And don't cut. A lot of survivors also have borderline personality disorder and we cope with stress by carving up our own bodies. Don't do that. Call someone, anyone-a hotline, your therapist, a friend who knows what's going on-and talk yourself down. 

Rule 2: Rule 2 is more fun. Dance. Sing. Leap. Write down 10 fantastic things about yourself. Take yourself to lunch. Wear fancy perfume. Paint or draw. Read poetry by Shel Silverstein or The Restaurant at the End of The Universe by Douglas Adams. Watch a comedian you love. 

Rule 3: Don't try and get through this alone. Reach out. Vent online, join a social networking group for people who've gone through the same thing, find people. Go where there are people. 

Rule 4: If it's too much, if the tears won't stop and the memories won't go back to their little compartments, go to RAINN. They will help.

There are the rules for falling apart. I came up with a fifth rule, but it's a little weird, or as our son says "TMI, Mom." Ah hell, here. Hug a stuffed animal. I tried hugging the cat, but WHOA, she's not a fan of that much affection. If you have a dog, lucky you, hug the dog. Rumor has it you should also not hug a ferret. 

Breathe. We'll be okay, I promise.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lessons from Steubenville

Image of Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond from The Atlantic Wire.com

On Sunday, a judge handed down sentences for 17-year old Trent Mays and 16-year old Ma'Lik Richmond in the rape of a 15-year old girl. Mays received at least two years in a juvenile detention facility, Richmond received at least one year. After sentencing, Trent Mays made a statement to the court, saying "I'd like to apologize to her family, [the] community. No pictures should have been sent. That's all sir." (Quote from NBC.com)

I wrote a portion of Trent Mays's apology in bold to point out that he did not apologize for raping an unconscious 15-year old girl, or taking videos of that girl or photos of the assault. He apologized for sending out the photos and publishing the video online. Trent Mays is a sociopath in the making. Ma'Lik Richmond's statement after sentencing was accompanied by tears:

"I'd like to apologize to you people. I had no intentions of doing anything. I'm sorry to put you through this-I'm sorry, I didn't..." Richmond broke down at the end, unable to continue. Richmond strikes me as redeemable. Trent Mays does not.

Where in the world would two kids, not much older than my son, learn that this is okay? That raping a 15-year old girl who is unable to consent, much less move, is perfectly all right? There are many pieces in this puzzle, and I'd like to deal with just two: our obsession with sports and the onslaught of victim blaming and shaming in America.

Both Mays and Richmond were stars of their high school football team. We live in a small town that closed school last year because the football team made state finals. Our son got home from a semi-final basketball game this past Thursday at 12:10 AM, along with the rest of the high school band. Sports is everything, especially in small towns. Steubenville rallied around Mays and Richmond and shamed the victim. The case received national attention due to the town's support of the rapists and their denigration of the 15-year old girl. Many people watching wondered if justice would be served. We're still not certain it was.

Over the past few years, a dark and dangerous message has been slithering across the airwaves, through social media sites like Reddit, 4Chan and Facebook and out of the mouths of politicians and pundits, especially on the right. That message is rape isn't really rape unless certain parameters are met. If you do not crawl into an ER with a broken nose or jaw, two black eyes, blood streaming down your legs and bruises over at least half of your body, you weren't really raped. Date rape isn't rape. GHB rape isn't rape. If you have cerebral palsy, it isn't rape. If you are intoxicated, it isn't rape. If you're a gay man, you can't be raped. What were you wearing, did you look at him, flirt with him, why were you in that part of town, did you really fight back, you were on a date, that's not rape.

And then we have the pages, thousands if not tens of thousands, dedicated to rape "humor." Rape jokes, victim shaming, photos of women tied up, gagged, being brutalized, snuff photographs, references to torture, gang rape, stalking and extreme violence. Pages celebrating the brutalization of human beings, so much so that a 14-year old boy named Ben defended a death threat received by a close friend of mine. Ben wrote to my friend that "rape is funny." Ben believes that because that's what he and millions of teenage boys and girls see every day online. Ben didn't write the death threat, he just thought it was funny. The threat was nauseating-it referenced horrible acts of violence and made me physically ill. And a 14-year old boy defended it.

How do we change the message? How do we force society to stop glorifying sports to the point that the players can "do no wrong?" Jovan Belcher was honored by the Kansas City Chiefs, his jersey retired in a blaze of glory. Where was the ceremony for his victim, Kassandra Perkins? Belcher murdered his girlfriend, the mother of his child, and was still treated like a hero while people like Wayne LaPierre and Dana Perino blamed Kassandra Perkins for her own death.

How do we change social media? Reporting pages to Facebook results in a message telling you the page or photo or comment or video doesn't violate their community standards. A photo on a page entitled "Being an asshole" shows the image of a severely beaten woman with wraparound text reading "Once you go black, you tend to get raped and beaten." I know for a fact this photo has been reported to Facebook, and yet it remains. 4Chan is rape joke central, with hateful little men giggling maniacally as they share some of the most disturbing images online.

The lessons are difficult to learn, because they say such awful things about us as a society. If we want to learn and grow and change, we have to accept that there are people in this world who see others, especially women, children and LGBTs as prey. Predators use their bodies, weapons and words to assault us and we just take it. We keep voting them in, we keep defending them, we keep watching cable news and we keep blaming the victim for their own assault.

When Candy Crowley broke the news of the sentencing on CNN, neither she nor the other contributors to the coverage spoke more than 1-2 sentences about the 15-year old rape victim. No one during the segment called Mays or Richmond rapists. Mays and Richmond were the victims, promising star athletes and good students whose lives were ruined. Do we really wonder why our society thinks blaming the victim and defending the predator is the right thing to do?

It's not the right thing to do. High school sports hero, celebrity or politician-it's not the right thing to do. Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond are certainly not the first teenage boys to think this is okay, but it is almost guaranteed that with the dark message now oozing into the cracks of our society, there will be more and more young men just like them. And we need a way to stop the future predators, now.

Watch the CNN breaking news segment here, courtesy of Raw Story. Then watch "Blue Blanket."

Thanks to NBC for details on the Steubenville verdict and Think Progress.

The Bachmann Diaries: Happy St. Patrick's Day from CPAC


Image of the Bachmann house from celebritydetective.com


Dear Diary,

Today is Saint Patrick's Day! As you know, I am 100% Irish, so St. Patrick is my favorite saint. He drove all the snakes out of Belgium. We are having SO much fun at CPAC! There are no black people, except for Allen West, and he doesn't really count, so no one's been mugged or anything. Sarah Palin was here. Diary, I know it's not nice to make fun of other conservative women, but holy moley she's dumb. She brought this giant plastic cup on stage with her and told everyone it was pop. I mean, sure banning all pop is a stupid liberal idea, but really? I smelled that cup before she gave her stupid speech and it was total bourbon. Marcus says that's what white trash drinks.

I gave a speech at CPAC. Everyone told me it was wonderful, as usual. The big point I made was how much that uppity Muslim couple in the White House is costing American taxpayers. They have chefs on Air Force One, and a dog walker and people to run the movie projector and it's crazy! Yes, other presidents have had all this, but it's not okay for Obama and his nanny-state wife to have all that. I mean, come on! Marcus and I live very modestly out in the country in Stillwater. Our house is super cute and more like a cottage than a house. We barely have enough room when our 893 613 28 foster children come to visit. You know, Diary, they were all bulimic girls, so we did need more bathrooms than the average home.

My one million Tweeter fans are insisting I run for Queen of Godlandia in 2016. I don't know, to be honest. Jesus has been visiting me a lot over the past few months, and He says He has something big planned for me. I hope it involves spending more time with Steve. Oh Diary, you know how much I love Marcus. He's so nice and kind to all those homeless male underwear models, but he's so darn busy. Even at CPAC, he got a call from someone named Antonio, and had to scoot off to New York for a "therapy session." Marcus loves those sessions-he always comes back glowing!

I am SO sick of people making fun of my marriage! I have no idea why liberals think Marcus is a HOMO. We have five children, we had sex in 2009 and it was great (I think) and he's a fantastic husband. In fact, before he left for New York, he made me my very own St. Patrick's Day vitamin drink. It's called the Four Leaf Clover and it has some sort of minty cream stuff in it, chocolate liqueur, which Marcus told me is French for "calcium" and wheat grass. It makes me feel so alive, and my lips tingle.

Diary, I am so grateful for my life. My heart is filled with pity for HOMOS and dead babies, and love for white people everywhere. Well, except poor white people, unless they vote conservative! I have such perfect hair and I found another manicurist named Natalia. She's from Russia or Greece or somewhere cold, and she is so grateful for her job that we only have to pay her $50 a week. She lives in the garden shed behind the house. Boy, this vitamin drink is super yummy!

The night before we came to CPAC, I woke up in the backyard. This hasn't happened in a really long time, but I think it's okay. I was wearing my full-length lynx kitten coat, a pair of galoshes and I was burning pamphlets from the NAACP. Marcus slept through everything, even when I set part of the porch on fire, God bless him.

Well, I need to rest up! I'm visiting with a group of white nationalists tomorrow and I'm going to try and woo them away from Ron Paul. Wish me luck!

Love-Queen Michele, hopeful future ruler of Godlandia! xoxoxoxoxo

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Is Facebook a breeding ground for violent predators?

Image of The McDonald Triad from Tumblr

Note: Photo below contains possible trigger and obscene language. Photo is from a Facebook page entitled "Sorry that my jokes are offensive. And by sorry, I mean you're welcome."

In 1963, a man named J.M. McDonald posited a theory that a connection exists between three specific childhood behaviors and sociopathic behavior as an adult. The three behaviors are enuresis, setting fires and cruelty to animals. That theory is known as the triad of sociopathy. The triad of sociopathy has been debated by forensic psychologists and behavioral specialists for decades. If a child is a latent bed wetter, or sets fires or abuses animals, will that child grow up to be a violent predator? Are there other signs that a child, or an adult, is a sociopath?

With the creation of Facebook, people who might never have had an audience for their violent fantasies now have veritable free reign to post and share the most horrific photos and text. The photos are typically "rape fantasy" images: women hog tied on a couch or a bed and gagged, tears streaming down their faces, with accompanying text about how it's not rape if they don't say no or stop. The "joke," of course, is that the woman is gagged and therefore cannot say no or stop. Much like the young woman in Steubenville who was unconscious during her videotaped rape, it's not rape if the victim cannot tell her attacker (s) to stop.

There are other pages on Facebook with a racist tone. For example, last year a page popped up using a photo of the dead body of an African American man, lynched and hanging from a tree, as their profile photo. The page was filled with horrible and disturbing images, all promoting hatred and violence against black people. The page was reported many, many times, but it took Facebook almost a month to finally pull it down. A month.

Facebook allegedly has "community standards." Those standards seem to protect hate speech, credible threats of violence, online stalkers, harassment and obscenity. By obscenity, I do not mean pornography. I mean pages dedicated to child rape, crush videos, snuff films, murder, adult rape and torture. What Facebook's "standards" do deem offensive are pages dedicated to shining a light on hate and violence, protecting survivors of sexual violence and photos of women that are not violent or sexually explicit.

Photos of women breastfeeding are frequently removed by Facebook, and the posters are punished. Several photos of women who had undergone double mastectomies and bravely posed without their shirts on were immediately banned by Facebook. Artistic photos of nudes, both male and female, are seemingly not allowed on Facebook. Perhaps if someone took a nude painted by Rubens and Photoshopped it hog tied and gagged on a mattress, Facebook would let it remain.

Should Facebook be added to the triad of sociopathy? I think so. Anyone obsessed with violence, especially sexual violence, is dangerous. Facebook allows people to stalk and harass with no fear of recrimination, and makes it very easy for said stalker to find information on their target.

What will happen when the inevitable occurs? When some violent predator, allowed to run free on Facebook, finally takes his or her fantasies to the next "logical" place-reality? We had the Craigslist killer; when will we see the Facebook rapist?

Given the bizarre "community standards" Facebook uses to not police itself, my guess is very, very soon.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Your hearts were in the right place, but...

Image from Veteran's News Now

Friday morning a new blog appeared on my radar, thanks to numerous friends. Liberals I know were sharing a link to a particularly noxious article written about the First Lady, and their friends were clicking on the link, reading said noxious article and sharing it themselves. As someone who shines a giant light on the hate and bigotry that is rabid within the right wing, I understood the desire to make sure people saw this horrible piece of writing. As someone who understands ad revenue (there are no ads here, but I've written for a site that does make money from Google Adsense), and the ego boost that comes when something you're written gets noticed by a lot of people, I cringed a bit as Radio Patriot's bigotry went viral.

You'll notice there's no link to the article contained within this piece. If you want to take precious time out of your day and hunt it down, go right ahead. But I am not going to give this piece of jetsam anymore publicity than he or she has already received. The article is racist, bigoted, badly written, poorly constructed and basically just awful in every single way. I am of the opinion that the "writer" is a woman, simply because of the obvious envy and jealousy displayed within the text. Whatever wrote it takes several pages out of Jerome Corsi's paranoia manual, mentioning the insane theories promoted by World Net Daily regarding President Obama's last name and his sexual orientation.

Let me explain what happened when liberals, again well meaning, shared that article. A Word Press blog that was probably read by less than 500 people over the past month is now accruing hit after hit, view after view.  Even if the owner of that blog does not use Adsense or some other revenue generating tool, he or she is over the moon.

There is a difference between shining a light on the darkness and hate in the right wing and giving that darkness and hate publicity. When I write about Stormfront or the Tea Party or some horribly hateful fundamentalist, I rarely if ever link to their site. I'll post excerpts from a speech or a link to a You Tube video highlighting whatever it is I am dragging out from under a rock, but I refuse to give anyone like the author of that piece of garbage about Mrs. Obama any more hits, views or shares.

Your hearts were truly in the right place. I get it, I do. But we have to be careful when exposing the nastiness on the right. We have to walk the fine line between exposing it and helping it grow. Maybe next time we see something like this, cut and paste the article, add your own comments, and just type the name of the blog or website. If people want to go find it, they can, but you are not encouraging them to do so.

Articles like this hit piece on our First Lady deserve derision and scorn. What an article like this does not deserve is publicity.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Louie Gohmert muses about Vietnam-it must be CPAC!

Image from mariopiperni.com

Oh goody, it's time for CPAC again. Conservative Politicians Against Christianity gather every year to out-stupid each other, get drunk and worship at the altar of ALEC. If Rep. Louie Gohmert's speech is any indication, the stupid is thick in 2013.

I follow a brilliant artist and writer named Mario Piperni. He creates some of the most stunning and profound political graphics online and often accompanies them with biting and satirical commentary. Thursday, Mario shared a wonderful creation featuring Rep. Gohmert wearing a jester's hat in honor of Gohmert's astonishing statements about Vietnam. Louie Gohmert who, in recent months, has proven that he may be dumber than a box of hair, stood before attendees of Caucasians Promoting Aryan Causes and said this:

"I'm not going to debate the merits of whether we should or should not have gone to Vietnam, but what I will tell you is, Vietnam was winnable, but people in Washington decided we would not win it!" 

Louie Gohmert is too young to have served in Vietnam, as he was born in 1953. Gohmert did serve in the Army, where he made it to the rank of captain and worked primarily as a defense lawyer for the U.S. Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps. So one would think he might have a more factual view of Vietnam than a civilian. One would be oh so wrong.

During the twenty year Vietnam war, close to 500,000 civilians were killed in North and South Vietnam. North Vietnamese civilian casualties are harder to verify since many military members of the Viet Cong disguised themselves as civilians. Of those approximately 500,000 civilians, it is believed that the American military was responsible for about 120,000 deaths, not including the 400,000 people the Vietnamese government claims were either killed or maimed by Agent Orange. 58,282 American soldiers were KIA or in non-combat situations, including those killed in captivity. Over 300,000 American soldiers were wounded in action, and 30% of all wounded died.

A winnable war. During the peak war years, the Viet Cong were responsible for almost one third of all civilian casualties. They captured, tortured and murdered over 15,000 people, the majority from South Vietnam. Our military used Agent Orange indiscriminately, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths (again, according to the Vietnamese government) and long-term birth defects. And then there are the more "famous" events, like the May Lai Massacre.

Rep. Gohmert has no idea what the Vietnam War was, what it did to Vietnam, how it divided America and the horror and pain still visited upon the survivors, both civilian and military. I've been to the Vietnam Memorial. I've watched men weep as their calloused fingers ran over and over the names of the brothers they lost. My own father found his best friend's name on that wall, and I had to turn away from the pain etched on his face.

Rep Gohmert is one of the far right politicians banging the Iran war drum. He cannot wait to bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, as John McCain sang. He even mentioned Iran during his speech, stating that Jimmy Carter should have gone to war with Iran in 1979.

"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in." George McGovern.

Thanks to Raw Story and Wikipedia for contributions to this piece, and Mario Piperni for his brilliant graphic. I highly recommend a visit to Mario Piperni's website.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Faith

Image from aaablogs.uoregon,edu

The College of Cardinals, not to be confused with any actual college, elected a new pope on Wednesday. His pre-pope name is Jorge Mario Bengoglio and his papal name is Pope Francis. He is the first Jesuit pope and the first pope to take the name of Francis. Bengoglio is from Argentina, the son of Italian immigrants. He is a staunch ally of the poor and staunchly does not support same sex marriage or allowing same sex couples to adopt.

I was raised Catholic. Baptism, First Communion, Mass every Sunday (or Saturday afternoon), the parade on All Saint's Day, you name it, I did it. At the age of 14, however, I was not confirmed. My parents were going through their own stuff regarding the church, and I really didn't care. Catholicism was never a huge part of my life. God was and still is.

The rebuke poured on liberal Christians from all sides is quite daunting. We get slammed by fundamentalist Christians for supporting the LGBT community, for supporting a woman's right to choose, for trying (and often failing) to follow the message of Christ and for understanding and championing evolution and scientific theory. We get slammed by fundamentalist Atheists for believing in "an invisible Sky Daddy" who "lets children starve," for having faith in something inexplicable and for being, in their opinion, "stupid."

First, the far right Christians. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus ever say "Lo, I have come to show you who to hate, who to kill, who to beat and who to discriminate against in My name." What Jesus actually says is love one another as He has loved us, give all you own to the poor, the meek shall inherit the earth and dig the plank out of your own eye before you go looking for the speck in your brother's. He does have some interesting things to say about adultery, but fundamentalists ignore that. Are there some weird things in the New Testament? Yep. The demon pigs. The fig tree. The whole thing about witches. Find me a liberal Christian who says "Oh no, it's all literal," and I'll find you a conservative Christian donating their time to Habitat for Humanity.

Second, the Atheists. God doesn't "let children starve," we do that. God doesn't let people get raped, monsters do that. God didn't move pedophile priests from parish to parish, or my family's predatory priest-men did that. Yin and yang, good and evil. Most of us have the freedom to choose what kind of person we want to be. Do we want to be charitable and loving, thinking of others before ourselves, or do we want to be cruel and vicious, making others' lives miserable? You do not have to believe in a deity to have a moral compass, so why does God get blamed for things horrible people do? If He's not necessary to do good, how is everything bad His fault?

It would never occur to me to make fun of someone who doesn't believe in God. I do go after fundamental Christians fairly consistently because, frankly, they make actual Christians look bad. And maybe that's one of the problems. Perhaps non-believers see the word "Christian" and assume we're all like Pastor Worley or Bryan Fischer or Michele Bachmann. Another problem may be that belief is somehow tied to religion. Religion is a thing, a construct created by humans. Spirituality is a personal relationship with a god or deity. I am spiritual, not religious. I call myself a liberal Christian because I believe in God and I believe in the message of Jesus Christ. That's it. I have no plans to ever beat anyone over the head with my faith or condemn someone because they either believe in something different or in nothing at all.

As long as you are kind and giving and not a giant bigoted tool, it doesn't matter. Many of the Atheists I know are better Christians than self-professed fundamentalists. Which drives right wing Christians absolutely crazy with frustration. Fundamentalist Christians believe you must be saved in order to know right from wrong. Oddly enough, quite a few fundamentalists keep getting themselves in a lot of trouble due to their lack of moral compass.

We can have completely opposing views about God and faith and Jesus. It's America-we get to do that. We can poke fun at right wing Christians who wouldn't recognize Jesus if He was standing on the hood of their car. But what we cannot do is simply denigrate and demean people for having faith. Faith brings me peace and makes my life better. I don't use it against anyone, so why is it used against me?

Newt Gingrich: The man who could be pope


Image courtesy of Fr. Purvis's fevered imagination


With the sight of white smoke billowing from the Vatican, one must wonder who the cardinals have chosen as the new leader of the Catholic church. One man, a humble man of the cloth, hopes the choice is Newt Gingrich.

Please join me in welcoming guest blogger, Fr. Fergus Purvis to Poking at Snakes.


As more black smoke billows from the chimney at the Papal Conclave, I am left wondering, when will their Eminences' come to their senses? When will they vote for the man who will transform Mother Church and lead a billion Catholics deep into the 21st century.?

There is only one man capable of being The Supreme Pontiff, The Vicar of Christ, The Servant Of The Servants Of God. That man is Newt Gingrich.

For the past two weeks, I have frequented every brothel and bath house in Rome, leaving Pope-Elect Gingrich's' picture in the bathroom, knowing that every Cardinal will see it.

The Pope does not have to be a Cardinal or even a Priest. It helps if he is a Catholic and reached the age of reason. There is no more reasonable man than Newt Gingrich. Mr. Gingrich approached me when Pope Benedict was forced to quit, or retired, and stressed his desire to try for the job. I asked him what he would bring to the Papacy, he told me this:

"I would bring true Conservatism back to the Vatican, that liberal Ratzinger did nothing for Catholics. Those Nuns who are caring for the poor would be hunted down and excommunicated. All Catholic women who who have abortions would be executed, so would child-abusers. I don't abuse children, I abuse grown-ups. I would probably move the Vatican to Washington D.C., let's face it, that's where the real power is and I would have a better house than the President. No health care for Priests, after all, who is a better doctor than God. I'm sure opponents will point out my numerous marriages and infidelities and also that fact that I was once a Methodist and a Southern Baptist, but if I promise to declare war on all branches of Protestantism, I'm sure I can win them over. I would increase military spending, a handful of Swiss Guards is not enough, I want to be Commanderin-Chief of an army with guns not pikestaffs. I would bring back the 12th-century in all its glory."

Any day now, pilgrims will see white smoke drifting from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, to be followed by a portly man in glorious red robes waving from the balcony overlooking Vatican Square. May God bless Pope Newt I.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Over in Eight Seconds

Image from Daily Kos.

Paul Ryan doesn't seem to understand how a press conference works. What someone neglected to tell the blue-eyed, widow-peaked Eddie Munster lookalike from Wisconsin is that during a press conference, when you speak, people record you. Whatever you say becomes public record. If you sneeze, the press corps hears you sneeze. If you cough, they hear you cough. If you say you and your party want to destroy health care in America, the press corps records that, posts it as text, video, hieroglyphics, in Braille and other languages and that quote goes winging 'round the world.

He did say that. During a speech about how much President Obama's budget sucks, Rep. Ryan brought up his personal nemesis, Obamacare. He frowned as he mused how awful the Affordable Healthcare Act is for America, and how he, because he's on an oversight committee, knows things about it we don't. Oooo, scary.  Two Stepford-type women behind him nodded dutifully and looked pained, as if their pantyhose were riding up. Then he said:

"This is something we will not give up on because we are not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people."

This poses a problem, especially for those of us who like to nickname politicians. For years, Paul Ryan has been known by the affectionate title Lyin' Ryan. Well, that's over; he told the damn truth! Destroying health care for America is a priority for his party, the new and unimproved version of the GOP. See, to a conservative, the only people who will need Obamacare are the poor, and we all know how conservative Christians feel about the poor (hint: they're icky). Remember the charming man who bellowed "Let him die!" at the Republican presidential debate? That's a conservative, and they are over the moon that Paul Ryan finally told the truth.

Alan Grayson said Republican health care means if you get sick, die quickly. Paul Ryan confirmed that with his statement today. Now, he will pop up on Hannity or O'Reilly, grinning sheepishly and point out he misspoke, of course no one wants to destroy the health care system in America, Republicans love sick people, just keep them away from the rich folks.

If our country was still normal, Paul Ryan would have just destroyed his political career and would be begging Papa John for a job. America isn't normal anymore. My guess is this statement guarantees Ryan's presidential bid in 2016.

Now I feel sick.

Watch the 8 seconds right here.

One: Number 31


Image of One: Number 31 from moma.org
I visited The Museum of Modern Art in New York when I was 18. My parents and I were in New York to see "Madame Butterfly," meet friends and I was scheduled for an interview with Julliard's Stage Intern Program. My mother, being an artist, wanted to wander through MOMA, and my dad and went along. Modern art wasn't really my "thing," or so I thought, until I turned a corner and fell in love with One: Number 31 by Jackson Pollock.
One: Number 31 was hanging directly in front of me. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I just stood there, staring. Walking towards the painting, I stumbled back and sat down on a hard, wooden bench. You could have set off a firecracker next to my head and I would not have noticed. I had just discovered Jackson Pollock.
Jackson Pollock was one of the most celebrated modern artists of the 20th century. He was leaps and bounds ahead of his contemporaries, and he was slightly mad. He drank like a fish, chain smoked, swore, cheated on his wife and had an extremely self destructive personality. He was the Ernest Hemingway of the art world. His wife, Lee Krasner, gave up her own career to promote Pollock, and he rewarded her with verbal abuse and adultery. Most believe that he was incapable of loving anyone, because he could not love himself.
Jackson Pollock was killed in a car accident when he was 44, two years younger than I am. He was accompanied by his mistress and a friend. Pollock’s mistress, Ruth, survived, but the friend was also killed. When he died, he was without a doubt one of the most influential artists in America, if not the world. His last paintings, Scent and Search, were painted five years after One: Number 31. He was dead a year later.
There is a fine line between genius and madness, especially when it comes to artists. By artists, I mean writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, even dancers. Gelsey Kirkland’s book, Dancing on my Grave describes horrific bouts of depression, eating disorders and destructive relationships. Diane Arbus killed herself, as did Sylvia Plath. Edgar Allen Poe was insane. Van Gogh, my favorite painter, spent time in an asylum, and his madness can be seen swirling across the sky in Starry Night. And Jackson Pollock drank, drove and killed himself and another person, because he could not figure out how to live a life of peace. His peace was painting, but his work is anything but peaceful.
One: Number 31 is bold, brash and gorgeous. But if you look at it, I mean really look at it, you can feel the madness. You can see it in the drips and the pattern, or lack thereof. No, that’s not quite right. There is a pattern, as there is in all madness. We cannot see it because we are not mad. Would we want to be, just for a moment, if we could create something as stunning as One: Number 31, or Starry Night, or write a poem as moving as "Among the Narcissi," or take a photograph like "Identical Twins?" Would I give up my sanity to write the novel of the century? Would you descend into madness to create the greatest work of art in 50 years?
Jackson Pollock didn’t have that choice, he was mad, and he created some of the most beautiful modern art in the world. He died tragically young, but I wonder if some of us aren’t destined for that. If a fire that burns so hot with talent and creativity is meant to burn for a very short time. The true tragedy is that while he spiraled further and further away from the light, he took innocent people with him. All of that, the pain, the destructiveness, the anger, the sorrow and the angst, pour from the canvas when you really look at One: Number 31. It’s an extraordinary painting; it proves that line exists, and it tells the story of Jackson Pollock’s brilliance and madness better, in my opinion, than any other work.
If you find yourself wandering the halls of MOMA, and you come upon One: Number 31, pause. Study it, peer into the depths. Examine it with both your eye and your heart. You may find yourself changed forever.

Originally published at Mad Mike's America.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What were you wearing?


Image from WeKnowMemes
Many people, mostly conservative men, believe that women are raped because of something they do. The way they dress, the way they walk, the people to whom they speak, their actions are all partially if not totally responsible for their assault. I was drunk, I admit that. I was wearing surfer shorts and a t-shirt. I did not deserve to be raped.
I have many friends who have been raped, both men and women. And in none of theses assaults did one of my friends “ask” for it. Not one of my friends did anything to provoke a rapist, because a rapist does not need to be provoked. Rape is not about sex, it’s about power.
My rapist disappeared, and since I had been intoxicated during the attack, I knew I had no chance. Our society looks down on rape victims for the most part, labeling us “sluts” or “easy”. Defense attorneys dig through our pasts with a fine toothed comb, searching for anything to prove we asked for it. Oh, she parties a lot; she must have wanted it rough. That one? She lost her virginity when she was still in high school, she’s easy. Miss, were you even raped?
Victims often become advocates, trail blazers, and risk takers. We strive to enlighten and teach not only victims but also perpetrators. Men do not simply wake up one morning and rape. I do not believe that. A rapist is a hunter, a stalker, obsessed with the rush of power raping gives him. My rapist must have felt incredibly powerful that evening, choking a severely inebriated girl in her 20’s, 5’4” and 100 lbs.
I often wonder if he raped again, and if I could have done anything to stop him. I didn’t know his name; I remembered he had brown hair and was much taller than me. That was it. I had nothing. And my guess is that’s exactly how he planned his attack. This was not a man who would woo you and date rape you. This was a stranger rapist, and he wanted to remain a stranger.
Rape counselors are true heroes. These people, usually women, take the most wounded creatures and help them regain their strength, their power and their lives. I didn’t go to a counselor, in fact I never even told my own therapist. I thought I deserved it because I was drunk. This is what society does to rape victims. It demeans them to the point where rape counselors have to work twice as hard just to talk about going to the police.
Why should we? Our entire life will be laid out, we will most likely be labeled horrible things by not only the defense but possibly by the police, and we might have to face our rapist in court. I’ll tell you why. If I had, on that night, one smidgen of detail, one piece of information that would have caught my rapist, I would have risked it all. I would have dealt with the humiliation, the embarrassment, the pain, all of it, if there was even a chance that bastard could have been caught. I would have relived that night over and over and over again if I could have put him behind bars.
I was wearing surfer shorts and a t-shirt. What were you wearing?
Edited version originally published at Mad Mike's America.