Longest Ramble In A While…

I’m not gonna link to either of them, but yesterday evening when I was catching up on the news on Twitter, I came across two different things that really bothered me. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ Both of them were in Michigan, and both were part of a protest against the physical distancing / stay at home orders that have been put in place due to Michigan being one of the most affected states in regards to coronavirus / COVID-19.

I wanna start by saying that I do get why people are frustrated and want to be heard. ๐Ÿฅบ In fact, they’re more frustrated than I can even empathize with because they’ve been off work, losing their jobs, their businesses going under, and that’s obviously gonna take a toll on people. ๐Ÿ™ I know that I have days where it even gets to me more than I’d expect it to, so when people are unable to pay their bills, their rent, medical bills, etc.

But the first part of the protest that caught my eye were the hundreds of people who forced their way into one of the government buildings. I’m not sure if it was the state house, but it’s where the politicians were trying to do their jobs while protesters were shouting and screaming at law enforcement, banging on doors and walls, demanding that they bet let in. ๐Ÿ˜ณ I think most people would expect a protest like that eventually, but this one went further – because many of the protesters were also dressed up like militia and were carrying loaded semi-automatic rifles. ๐Ÿ˜ง

When you look at the video footage, I hate to say it, but those people looked and acted like you’d expect those kinds of folks to look and act… meaning, people who show up with guns when there’s no apparent reason to do so. ๐Ÿ˜’ And the ones who didn’t have guns, it’s not like they were discouraging the ones who did. Common sense says they brought their guns with them so they would be more intimidating, but I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the only protests they’ve really paid attention to are ones regarding gun control issues, where it would sorta make sense to “bear arms” while protesting… and maybe that made them think that all protests require dozens of armed people. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ 

But yeah, you can look it up if you wanna see or read more about it. But with the way tensions were, I think they’re very lucky that there wasn’t even an accidental discharge of a weapon – which would have lit the very short fuse on that powder keg. It’s just sad, the smug look that you could see on some of their faces as they stood with their rifles, in the area above where the politicians worked. ๐Ÿ˜” And if their goal was truly to be heard, their stunt backfired… because all that people are talking about are the “white guys with guns” who occupied that building without so much as a ticket for ignoring social distancing rules, and questioning what may have happened if that group had been young black men instead. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

I don’t like doing those “what if” scenarios normally, but the way all those folks chose to act… ๐Ÿ˜’ oh, and because of something that I saw in the second topic that caught my eye. For another part of the protest there was a stage set up where people were speaking against the current rules, talking about the damage that it has done… understandable stuff. But then they had a performance by a couple of girls who looked as if they couldn’t have even been teenagers, wearing skimpy little dance outfits and halloween type masks. ๐Ÿค” One of them being of a black man with exaggerated features. (Looks like they could have been Trump & Obama masks.)

They were doing a dance routine to the old song “Candy Man” but it sounded as if the lyrics had been changed to comment on the current situation. That’s unfortunate enough, where children are essentially being used by their parents to make political statements… but as these little girls were dancing, you could hear men and women in the crowd hooting and hollering as if it were some kind of burlesque show – with people even shouting “TAKE IT OFF!” as these poor little kids did their routine. ๐Ÿ˜ง๐Ÿฅบ๐Ÿ˜”

It honestly made me sick to my stomach. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ Not just because the kids were being used in that manner, or that gross people were shouting sexual things at them, but also because nobody else in the crowd said anything, stuck up for them, or did anything to show their disapproval. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ (At least not in the clips that I saw.) I understand that people can start “thinking as a group” when caught in a moment, but even when it comes to something as disgusting as that? It’s not a good look for whatever message you were trying to send. ๐Ÿ˜ 

If you’d ask a bunch of those first folks why they felt the need to bring rifles to a peaceful protest and dress in camo… the answers would probably be of the “bEcAUsE wE CAn!” variety. ๐Ÿ˜ But that display with the girls, I wonder if any protesters would try to defend or normalize that as well. It makes me feel bad for the “normal” citizens of Michigan, because it makes the state look pretty awful – and I know they’ve got to be angry and embarrassed by all of it, the way it makes their citizens look to the rest of the country. ๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

One might ask why I allow myself get caught up in “news” like this. I ask that of myself too, honestly. ๐Ÿ˜ But I dunno… I do try to limit my exposure in general, since 99% of what gets reported seems to be negative, but I guess I just feel like everyone should try to keep up on the more important things – especially if they want to have an opinion and have conversations with others about any of it. ๐Ÿคจ So with things being as wacky as they’ve been over the past four years, even just “normal” news can trigger someone’s anxiety… and stumbling across “extra” stuff on Twitter, like the topics in this entry, is almost unavoidable. ๐Ÿ˜•

But I look back on old news articles and broadcasts from when Mom and Dad were young, and I see different protests, via different methods, at different locations, for different reasons… and I can’t remember learning about any of them and thinking, “Good grief… those people were idiots.” ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ I’m sure “dumb” protests did happen, so maybe the news was just less interested in covering sensationalism back then? ๐Ÿค” But hell… Today? I don’t think a day passes where I don’t read about or see something that makes me grumble, “Good grief, those people are idiots.” I think they were also lucky back then, getting their news (and only a couple hours each day) from either ABC, NBC, or CBS – and that was it. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ Not enough “room” to cover the stupids. Thanks to the internet though, we now have an endless supply that we have to work to avoid.

Bullying Hypocrisy

I wanted to make a separate post about this because it’s such a glaring contradiction that seems to be widely accepted among the “supporters” of the Parkland students and their movement. And like many other things, it seems to be something that people cling to solely because of how it makes them feel rather than there being definite truth behind what they are saying. The students don’t like clear backpacks because it makes them feel like they are in prison… their words… and the students and supporters fail to acknowledge that bullying could have played a part in what Nikolas Cruz did. Possibly because it makes them feel (or at least concerned) that people are somehow putting at least some of the blame for what he did on them.

First of all, the decision was his. Mental illness, bad childhood, bullying or not… the final choice fell on him. He is to blame. Having said that, of course there were a ton of contributing factors – and him being picked on or bullied would be one of them. But if you even bring up the topic with students or supporters, they’ll either say you are “victim blaming” or they’ll reply with something like “Well,ย I was bullied in high school… and I never killed anybody.”ย That’s fine, and I’m happy for those people… but acting as if everyone’s school experience and mental struggles should be judged the same is about as useful as going up to someone with lung cancer and saying “Well, I smoked a pack a day for decades and I didn’t get cancer.”

Go check it out for yourself. When someone is bullied and lashes out violently, look at how the people will try to remove the bullying as any kind of motivating factor. I don’t know if it’s because they have a guilty conscience and are subconsciously dwelling on what they might have done to that person, or if they legitimately believe that bullying is never a factor in causing someone to snap or what. If it’s the second option there, that’s scary… because if people don’t think that bullying someone could ever push them to do something awful, they’ve got little reason to not bully that person. I guess while some people feel like it is victim blaming, it makes me wonder if those people are just trying to relieve themselves of any potential feelings of responsibility.

Now, think about the role of bullying in the context of suicide. When that happens, the reaction is almost completely reversed. When someone kills themselves, all you hear is about how they were picked on, bullied, ostracized, etc… and that’s “obviously” what caused them to eventually take their own life. Hell, there are even protests or activism or whatever you wanna call it… campaigns about “mean girls” or things to force students/people to think about how they treat others, stories about how they were verbally or physically abused at home and how it needs to stop… anything that can possibly turned into motivation for suicide, relating to verbal, mental, or physical abuse, will likely be acknowledged and discussed.

Now, I wasn’t the most well adjusted kid during junior high and even into my high school years. Any bullying or “picking” that I may have experienced wasn’t even that bad… but you can bet your ass that it had an effect on me. Did I ever think about bringing a weapon to school? Did I ever think about who deserved my revenge and how I’d do it? I’m not saying I that did, but I’m sure not saying that I didn’t. I never crossed that line – but even today I’m not sure that I could tell you where that line was, or what might have caused me to cross over it and turn into one of the stories that you would have heard on TV back then. And let me tell you… my home life was fine, my family was fine, my time away from school was fine… and the only thing that was pushing me closer and closer back then was the shit that I endured from the few asshole children at school. So, from my own experience, I can tell you that bullying can indeed be a contributing factor towards someone lashing out – if not the main cause.

Are there really that many stupid people out there though, who honestly can’t see the link between bullying and lashing out? I mean, Christ, everything we do in life is based on the stimulus that we get from interacting from other humans… good, bad, mean, nice, happy, sad… and you’re an idiot if you think that only in the case of someone snapping and doing something violent, that those negative interactions didn’t have anything to do with it. It could just be a matter of most people never having experienced that feeling, where you don’t know if you’re going to be able to control yourself or what you’ll end up doing if you can’t. So, I’m glad for that, for them… but if you look me in the eyes and saying that bullying plays no part if that person lashes out later, I’m going to think that you’re either full of shit or that you’re a fucking moron.

It’s a sad to see so many people refusing to acknowledge that there could be a link between bullying and school violence, because for every voice that denies it – that’s a voice that could be making some other student’s life feel like hell… one more voice that could be unintentionally pushing someone towards something awful. And when you are immediately shut down when you bring up the subject, or even made to feel like you are doing something wrong by bringing it up, that shows that there are thousands and thousands of people who are unable or unwilling to learn. Unwilling to even allow the possibility that it’s true, what people like me are trying to make them understand. And, obviously, when people don’t learn from a tragedy, there’s not a whole lot that’s gonna stop it from happening exactly the same way again.

The people who were involved in the shooting… the “survivors” as they are called… they really do seem desperate to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again, but as with all of the security measures that they reject – they reject the idea that their actions or the actions of their friends could have even possibly played a part in what happened. I don’t think of that as victim blaming, I just think of it in terms of humans evolving and just being a little more self-aware, and more aware of the cumulative results of their combined words or actions. For people to treat that as something bad, disrespectful, or even bullying in itself… I just don’t get it.

That’s another point where their argument loses impact. A thorough argument of “bullying didn’t do this” when it comes to someone that lashes out, but go on Twitter and search “parkland bully” and just look at how many people have their hair on fire about how adults are allegedly bullying the students. Granted, in some cases it’s definitely true, but claims of bullying include simply disagreeing with the students and trying to discuss the differences with them or their supporters.

But here’s the thing… if bullying isn’t a big deal, never leads to anything bad happening, and is something that “normal” people should just get over… then why are so many people crying about people “bullying” the survivors? (By the way, they are called “survivors” just from being in school that day… it doesn’t matter if they weren’t even in the same building as the shooter, or never even heard a shot fired.) But yeah… you better not suggest that bullying had anything to do with Nikolas Cruz snapping and murdering 17 people, because that’s just insane nonsense, right? But also… DON’T YOU DARE BULLY THOSE POOR SURVIVOR CHILDREN! STOP! JUST STOP!!

All these folks who want change. Most of them can’t even say, “Yeah, I mean, it wouldn’t have affected me if someone picked on me like that… but I guess I can see how someone with other mental issues might handle things differently. Hell, even without additional mental issues, maybe I should just try to be a little nicer to people.” And no, nobody is suggesting that you force your kids to be friends with the scary, troubled kids at school… and nobody is saying that you, as a student, shouldn’t feel okay by hanging out with just your friends and not necessarily trying to make buddies with the entire school body. Everyone acts like this is a fucking trick question or unreasonable idea. Don’t think about it so hard, and if you feel like maybe you’ve been more of a dick than you needed to be… maybe just knock it off. Is that too hard for humans these days?

Willfully Ignorant / Indignant

The overwhelming amount of ignorance surrounding the shooting at Stoneman Douglas and the resulting activism… it’s simply staggering. ๐Ÿ˜‘ It falls anywhere on the spectrum from people just not realizing that they’ve been misled, to people who are straight up morons. And most of them are really angry as well… like, so angry that even when people are expressing sentiments that are supportive of the students and their security, they’ll still attack those people if the thoughts don’t exactly parrot what they or the students are saying. ๐Ÿ˜  Free thinking has already become a much lacking trait in society, and boy does this movement demonstrate that over and over again.

I’m sure that I’m like a lot of people who generally support the things the students have been asking for, but who is also growing tired of being attacked by the people that we’re trying to support… so much so that their activism now feels more like a bunch of kids complaining and making noise, but not actually seeking solutions to the problems at the center of it all.

The point where the kids started to lose me was when a slew of new security measures were put in place at their school, to provide additional protections while the students continued to strive for bigger changes via gun control laws. Limited access points to the school buildings, student IDs, increased security personnel, new backpack/bag rules, etc. ๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Not only did the students not appreciate these changes, but they actively rebelled against them – and are still doing so to this day. Most of the complaints revolve around the bag rules, which prohibit anyone from coming into the building with bags or backpacks that weren’t issued by the school. And because they are clear backpacks, the kids and their supporters have lost their damn minds. ๐Ÿ˜ญ

A woman on Twitter, when I said that I supported the clear backpack rule and noted that Nikolas Cruz used a duffel bag to bring his rifle into the school, just replied to me: “Umm… then maybe ban bringing DUFFEL bags into the school??? An AR15 will NOT fit in a backpack. Good grief!”ย This is an example of that angry stupidity. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ The school is now banning people from carrying in bags other than the school-provided ones… something that could have prevented Cruz from even making it past the gate if the rule was in place back then. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ But this woman was mad that I pointed it out, then called for duffel bags to be banned (which they are), and followed it up with a “Good grief” as if my logic was exhausting her.

But yeah, the kids are mocking the backpacks, saying that the increased law enforcement presence makes them scared, equating having to carry student IDs to being in prison, complaining that additional fences and barriers only give the appearance of security, saying their 4th amendment rights are being violated and people will be able to see their tampons in their bags now, and bitching because they have to show up to school a little earlier to get through security. ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป All the while complaining that none of those changes do anything to protect them, with several of them going so far as to say that all of these new measures should be removed – leaving their school in exactly the same state as when they were originally attacked. ๐Ÿ™‡๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

None of those changes, in their minds, provide any additional security. Instead, their minds are laser focused on banning “assault rifles” as the change that is needed. In interview after interview, you can see that these kids don’t even know what guns the term “assault” rifle should include, with some of them not even knowing the difference between a semi-automatic and automatic gun. I’m not faulting them for this, since they’re just kids, but these are also the people that we should be listening to for answers, according to their movement. The kids who reject any and all security measures as being a “false sense of security” while also believing that banning some semi-automatic rifles will make them completely safe.

In trying to have discussions with the humans on Twitter, I’ve learned that if you want to “be a supporter” of these kids and their goal of more safety, you can’t say any of the following: ๐Ÿ™Š

  • You can’t suggest that they try to understand that the new security measures are “better than nothing” while they continue to fight for gun control. They don’t accept the increased school security, so neither can people who claim to support them.
  • You can’t point out that the clear backpack rule, if in place when the shooting happened, could/would have prevented the shooting from happening since Cruz and his bags wouldn’t have been allowed through security. You’ll be told that an AR-15 can’t fit into a duffel bag. (It can.) You’ll be told that he’d have found a way in anyway. (So all security measures should be just thrown out as being worthless?)
  • You can’t tell them that mocking the new security measures may be off-putting to people who want to support them. You’ll be told that they don’t want or need your support then. They’ll say that they didn’t ask for the new security. They’ll say that nobody has a right to say anything to the students about their opinions. (YOU WEREN’T THERE! THEY WERE!)
  • Their goal, when it comes to gun control, is to ban assault rifles. But you can’t question anything about that goal. I support some of what they’re trying to achieve, but I don’t believe that banning one particular type of gun will make them that much safer than they are now. But to support them, you have to support their goal of banning a small subset of guns, because they believe they’ll be safer.
  • And even when you are suggesting things that could help them achieve their goals, you’ll usually be told that your input isn’t needed… not by the kids, but by other supporters. “I don’t remember her asking you for your opinion!” “He seems to be doing just fine without your help!” “Your generation didn’t help when it had the chance, and we don’t need it now!” And they wonder why they’re getting less support, less media coverage, and a more apathetic response from the public in general.

One more thing to mention… they love using the age of the student activists to manipulate the whole situation. When people are dismissive of what the students are saying because of their age, hordes of people will come forth and comment how they are almost adults, almost able to vote, almost able to join the army, and are more mature than most “grown-ups” are these days. But if you disagree with something the students have said, or just appear to disagree, you’ll be blasted with post after post of people being “shocked” and “horrified” that adults would bully these children, that you can’t expect them to not act like kids sometimes because that’s what they are, and that people should be ashamed for how they are treating someone’s child. Yeah, it doesn’t matter if they’ve thrust themselves onto the public stage, and it doesn’t matter how foul-mouthed and insulting they can be… people attempt to portray them as untouchable. โ™ฟ Like a kid in a wheelchair who verbally bullies his classmates, because “Nobody will hit a kid in a wheelchair.”

I even had people get mad at me the other day because I commented about the school newspaper putting out a memorial issue, featuring the names and stories of the 17 people that died that day. I said that it was great to finally have a resource like that with all of the information in one place, because despite the activist students being on TV almost non-stop for a while, I rarely heard them mention the names of the people who were killed or get to talk about them. Part of that is because there is a limited amount of time in a TV segment, so it logistically just couldn’t fit most of the time… but yeah, I was praising the students who produced the memorial issue. One fella just wouldn’t let it go. He was legitimately mad, despite me praising the newspaper and being happy that I could learn more about the people who were killed. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ I imagine it was because he doesn’t like when something potentially makes “the people that he supports” look uncaring or whatever. So despite talking about something that 99.9% would agree with – being happy to learn more about the fallen… he just kept replying and replying, pointing out that the kids said the names of the dead at the march in DC. Yeah. They did. That’s fine. I’m glad they did. But as I pointed out to him – I didn’t say they never mentioned the people that died, I just said it was rare enough that weeks later I still didn’t know much about them. I’m surprised he didn’t start sharing YouTube clips where their names were said, or demand that I share clips where they didn’t. People are just fucking nuts, man…

I’ve never seen a group of people that actively tries to eat their own as much as this bunch of humans. ๐ŸงŸ๐ŸงŸ๏ธ Half of the people barely know what they are talking about, and half of them don’t even care if they are wrong as long as they are being loud and people are hearing them. ๐Ÿคฌ The whole goal of student safety / safety for humans in general has been lost in the cult of personality, with movement leaders wasting time on boycotts when someone hurts their feelings – even when not related to gun control or the shooting… and then when security measures are put in place to protect them, they reject it – and in a way that magnifies how immature they really are, while they shout at the world that “WE TOLD YOU TO LISTEN TO US!” etc. I know they’ve had all kinds of behind-the-scenes help when it comes to PR, finances, and organizing things, but someone is dropping the ball right now – and something that could have produced real, positive changes has a chance of being forgotten like every other tragedy. ๐Ÿ˜”

Disheartening

I had to go in town for a few things, and of course I had to encounter people that represent the worst and “bleh” of our town. Driving down one road I saw an overweight woman with far-too-revealing clothes walking with a stroller… and two other toddlers following shortly behind her. Apparently they weren’t keeping up though, as she was screaming and throwing her hands around as she addressed them.

Then at the thrift store there was another young mother with two children, and she was obviously on some type of drugs because she couldn’t stop talking and describing everything she picked up, getting more and more excited and animated with each crappy thrift store toy that she would see and examine. The boy was old enough that when he made eye contact with me as I walked past, he had this embarrassed look on his face… you could tell that he knew his mom was tripping on something and that it was something she shouldn’t let the public see.

Outside one of the stores I had to stop at, there was nearly a fender bender as an older woman was backing out of a parking spot without looking, and nearly hit a car that was pulling in. The thing is, the car that was pulling in… she could have slowed down or stopped. But instead, she chose to drive right up to the point where she almost got hit, and then lay on her horn and make all sorts of gestures at the old woman. It’s like she wanted the conflict, she wanted to be angry.

There were of course other folks that I drove by… ones that I could make judgments about based on the way they looked, but I’m not even going to go there. People can look rough and not necessarily be bad or assholes or anything… but Christ, this town sure ain’t what it used to be.