Could there possibly be a more judgmental time period than election season? In the past week, I’ve been indirectly accused of the following things, based on my possible choices:
–If I vote for Obama, I’ve endorsed the deaths of hundreds of civilians through drone strikes.
–If I vote for Romney, I’m greedy and against equal rights.
–If I vote third party, I’m wasting my vote.
–If I don’t vote, I’m a bad American.
Those are my options, boiled down to blanket statements. They all suck to varying degrees. But I’m an adult, so I’m going to pick one of my sucky options and not feel great about it, because (I think?) that’s what adults do.
Your opinion of my vote is not important. You are more than entitled to your own opinion and I hope you feel strongly about something because you probably should. But you should know that making blanket statements about your neighbors based on their personal choices is universally a Dick Move.
Knowing that, I also realize that my opinion of your vote is not important. So, you know, do whatever you want. Go vote, stay home, whatever. I care what you do, but I’ll shut up about it. If you’re over 18, a taxpayer and cleared of all charges, nobody has the right to tell you what to do or how to do it. Just try not to hurt anybody in the process.
In summary, this is how I feel about elections:
Here’s what would make me feel better about the next election:
–More viable candidates. Obama and Romney said “I agree” more times in a third debate than I’d like to hear from two millionaires with the reins to the nation.
–More discussion. I watched all four debates, and the frequent topic was jobs. It’s arguably the most important topic, but it dominated the discussion to the point that in six hours the candidates pretty much avoided other incredibly important issues. If you were looking for discussion on women’s rights, gay rights, gun control, the housing market, poverty, climate change, religious freedoms, veterans benefits, then the debates were not for you.
–Less celebrities. I thought the Clint Eastwood thing was hilarious, but I was over it after two days.
The good news is that Wednesday is one of my favorite days. To rephrase Lisa Simpson, it’s the longest time until more elections. I am so happy to be part of a system where we have some say in how the future progress, and I’ll try to be less judgmental next time, but I’m going to get so hopped up on comic books and dance music this weekend because I’m burnt.
[Note: Edited 3:39pm]
I consider myself part of the Columbine Generation. I’ve never lived in Colorado. I didn’t know anyone who went to Columbine High. I wasn’t a jock, emo, a put-upon nerd, or goth. I wasn’t even in high school yet. I was, however, a 14-year-old who was part of a new wave of Americans that thinks about guns at least once a day, if not by the hour. 15 dead, 21 injured.
Since 1999, I’ve never existed in a room for more than three minutes without forming an exit strategy. When I moved into my current office, I noted that the office door had a lock but a vertical window next to it, so I’d need to hide under my desk to be truly safe. I can jump down three steps in a typical stairwell. I know where the four fire alarms are on my floor. When I started dating, I would consider a person’s personality, potential for a long-term relationship, and how quickly they could escape a crowded screaming mall. Whenever I was newly single, a tiny part of me felt better that I wouldn’t have to shield a partner from bullets. I can probably escape the window of my second-floor apartment without only minor injuries. These are all things that pop into my head five minutes before I realize they exist and try to bat them back down. They’ll be back.
In a strange way, 9/11 helped. I was too busy worried about explosions and orphan packages that I didn’t have time to worry about guns. Eleven years later, Aurora brought me back. 12 dead, 58 injured.
Two weeks later, a white supremacist walked into a religious temple with a gun. 7 dead, 6 injured.
On Monday, a man facing eviction near Texas A&M University fired at law enforcement officials and bystanders. 3 dead, 4 injured.
On Tuesday night in Detroit, a three-year-old girl received a shotgun wound. 1 injured, expected to survive.
To list every act of gun violence in the U.S. in the last few weeks would probably take me the rest of the month. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says around 268 people are shot in the U.S. each day. But the most disgusting story I’ve read is this: D.C. Resident Orders TV on Amazon, Receives Gun Instead
The man got an assault rifle in the mail.
I’ve never touched a real gun. I’ve never lived in a house with a gun, or in a place where I felt safer if I had a gun. I don’t know how guns work. I know they can be kept and used safely. But above all, I know they can kill people, and they’re too easy to get, especially because it is a device that can easily kill people.
The truth is, I have nothing to contribute to this conversation that hasn’t already been said, other than that I’m willing to have the conversation. Guns are revered in this country, but they aren’t respected. They are sacrosanct, but not treated with wisdom. I don’t totally understand how the Constitution relates to private gun ownership. It’s a reasonable assumption to me that most legally-owned guns in the U.S. probably will never be used other than for maintenance and never for violence. But too many guns are used for theft or greed or murder, and too many of those guns were bought within the standards we’ve set. Simply put, we’re messing around with killing utensils that we don’t fully understand.
It’s a problem we’re not discussing enough. I know we’re not discussing it enough because over 12,000 people will die this year from gun violence, and a three-year-old was almost one of them.
A reader made an excellent point: While an estimated 12,000 people will die from gun violence, another 18,000 will die from suicide-by-gun. Other methods of suicide may be easier, but guns are more lethal. Suicide might be another topic, but 18,000 gun-related suicides per year says we have a problem with control.
(Note: Edited at 3:17pm)
Last week, I learned that Chick-fil-A is a company that exists. Really, I thought it was a fictional fast food joint from a TV show I’ve never seen, something like Krusty Burger or Los Pollos Hermanos. Turns out, it’s a real restaurant with a very Christian founder named Dan Cathy.
Last week, Cathy made some comments about using Christian values to spearhead aspects of his business. When writers and bloggers dug a little deeper, they found that Chick-fil-A is a prominent donor to anti-gay groups. Here’s what Cathy said specifically about the marriage equality debate on a conservative family radio show.
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about””
Take a look at that Equality Matters report, and you’ll see that Chick-fil-A’s donations contribute to some recognizable hate speech against the LGBT community. However, Cathy didn’t really make any hateful speech, did he? Most of what he said was baseless (by my terms) and probably a bad business move, but he wasn’t advocating violence or direct discrimination.
Barr later walked back that tweet, saying it was not motivated by the anti-gay component, but how fast food has links to cancer. I still don’t think that justifies a tweet wishing cancer upon strangers, but she’s trying like hell to make that point.
Now that’s just mean.
Yesterday, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who I guess is on sports leave, posted on Facebook that he supported Chick-fil-A:
“I stand with Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A is privately owned by the Cathy family. The company president, Dan Cathy, drew the wrath of gay rights advocates and supporters when he made recent statements that some have alleged are anti-gay.”
First, yes, Cathy’s comments are definitely anti-gay. If you are against gay equality, you are anti-gay. Although I’m not sure why we’re worried about what a hockey player on sabbatical thinks, Thomas didn’t do much else in that post to incite a riot. He quotes Cathy from the same two sources I’ve used above. He didn’t even take a stand on gay issues. He might be in the growing contingent that supports gays but is against government interference. We don’t actually know based on that post, do we? Here’s what he got in return, captured by Towleroad:
EDIT: The VP of Chick-fil-A Public Relations died of a heart attack, and the comments are unbearable.
Let’s compare all this with what country singer Carrie Underwood received after she came out in favor of marriage equality a few months ago. BuzzFeed compiled a list of some negative reactions:
I don’t agree with any of these comments, but I can’t find hate there. Dogma, definitely. Serious threats or insults? None.
You guys, what the hell are we doing here? We’re in the middle of a civil rights movement that will define the century, and this is how we look. You can’t tell someone they “have a fat jello ass” and say you’re against hate speech. You can’t wish cancer upon strangers, then tell them to stop bullying your brothers and learn to recognize love when it’s right in front of them. You can’t do all that when the other side responds with “We love you.”
The LGBT community faces horrible acts of violence every day, but nothing comparable to what this country has seen in other moments of social upheaval. Fifty years ago, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., (you saw this coming) helped to lead a movement of nonviolence and activism that inspired an entire planet. Protesters were beaten in every way imaginable, verbally and physically, and responded with dignity and came out better for it. Women in the 1920s literally starved to death rather than resort to insults and violence. Maybe we’re spoiled by what other minorities went through before us. I don’t have a choice in this, but I have a hard time siding with the guys who are defined by as much vitriol as the other side.
Simply put: We Look Bad. Are you angry? Good, you should be, but grow up and learn how to channel that into something other than hyperactive sniper attacks at no one of real importance. Focus. Plan. And if you don’t have anything productive to say, kindly get the hell off the internet.
Hey! How are you? Are you okay? I’m worried about you. I hope I’m not overreaching, but in the past few years, you’ve seemed… shaky. On edge. Desperate. Let’s be honest, you’ve always been a little weird and out there, but lately… something’s up. It’s like you stopped caring. Frankly, you look a little sloppy.
You used to be a little calmer, more reserved. Even when events were so mind-blowing, you showed some professionalism. Now, you jump to conclusions quite a bit. It’s like you’re paranoid or something. You used to be really interested in the economy, the law, education. Now you talk about the Kardashians a lot. Like, a lot. You used to travel quite a bit, too. Have you been to Africa lately? Syria? Iraq? I see you share a lot of photos and videos that others have taken, but you seem to spend a lot of time in LA. I think you should get out more.
Your friends bother me, too. Piers Morgan? When did that start? I didn’t even know you guys had anything in common. I guess that Joe Scarborough fellow is okay, but, you could do better. And Wolf! He’s not a bad guy, just… he’s not very bright. Not really your type. Remember Christiane? She was great! So smart and knowledgable, such poise. I don’t see her enough. How is she? Do you still talk? Oh, and I heard what happened with Mr. Nye the other day. You guys used to be friends! Different circles, I know, but you would still get together and chat. Listen, you were rude, and you should apologize. That wasn’t like you! That wasn’t the you that I grew up with.
I’ve been meaning to say something. That mess with the Supreme Court was hard to watch. I really thought that would be your low point, but you followed that up with that Gotye nonsense just a few days later. iReports? User uploads? You barely know those people! That is dangerous and can lead to the type of thing you shouldn’t be wrapped up in. I think you know that. Just this morning, you kept showing a video from that horrible Colorado shooting. You know which video, I’m not sharing it. It was a bit gruesome and really didn’t provide anything substantial. You always steered clear of that when we were younger, but now you just dive into that nonsense. No class.
We haven’t had the strongest relationship. Maybe I don’t check in enough, or I’m not as honest with you as I should be. But honestly, you’re just not as dependable as you used to be. You’ve always been my annoying buddy, easy to poke fun at, sometimes just absolutely frustrating, but you were there when I needed you. When I needed intelligent, honest advice, you were there. I used to share your stories. “Did you hear what Major News Outlet said?” Now… I just can’t trust you. No one trusts you. “Better wait to hear what Jon says.” Jon? Nice guy, but… this guy?
We all change as we get older. I get that. But, look at you. You’re a mess. Please. Think about getting some help. It’ll be better for both of us. I just hate to see what could happen if you don’t turn this around.
I miss you,