Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Imagine Hamsterdam

2013 is nine days old, and already 13 people have been murdered in Chicago.    Here's a list of the names of the dead who most often remain nameless.  12 of the dead were black.  12 were male. 7 were under 30.

I feel pretty safe in the Chicago where I live, where I work.  I'm gun violence-adjacent, but I don't live in one of *those* neighborhoods.  And even when I did live in one of *those* neighborhoods, I wasn't one of *those* people.  You know... the gang people, the people who live in that other America.  This kind of gun violence has never been my problem.  It's always been *theirs.*

The heartless, possibly brainless NRA types love to tell us that these young, black men died of gunshot wounds from illegal guns. So, you know... whaddya gonna do?  It seems that in the fictional universe these NRA assholes have created, guns spring whole into existence, forged by God out of Adam's boner.  In the real world, guns are legally manufactured and legally distributed and, at some point,  legally purchased.  It's just so stupid to throw your hands up in defeat over what happens in between that and the dead 15 year old in Englewood. Jesus, it's such a stupid argument! I'm hard-pressed to understand how anyone with sense enough to tie their own shoes and get across the street alive would ever pose it.  And yet a good chunk of our national gun control philosophy seems to be based exactly on that manipulated "whaddya gonna do" bullshit.  Maybe tracking the guns will be part of the gun control action that the Obama administration is thankfully taking on.  I hope.

But guns are only a part of the problem, the toxic flotsam on the surface. At the core of the problem is an endless cycle of poverty, which begets an endless cycle of violence, which quite likely stems from one place: drugs.  Well, racism and drugs.  I think we're getting slowly better about the racism.  We remain mired in stupid about the drugs.  To be clear, I'm not talking about the junkies or the dealers, I'm talking about the goddamn, motherfucking, useless, senseless, endless War on Drugs.  The "war" that bears far more responsibility for the grotesque parade of dead young men than the drugs themselves do.

I ask you to imagine a world where drugs are legal - all of them.  I reject this pantywaist "legalize weed" nonsense.  Heroin, cocaine, crystal meth... all of it is legal and obtainable from government run pantries.  If you think that this world has more addicts than the one we live in  now, it might be time to go hang out with the "whaddya gonna do" crowd.  It's a tepid, facile morality that suffocates clarity.  I maintain that right now it is easier for a 12 year old kid in the projects to get his hands on crystal meth than it is for him to get some vodka.   I'll even scare the shit out of you by saying this is also quite likely true for the Freshman class at New Trier.

Now imagine the countless billions we spend on this useless, endless, goddamned pointless war on drugs... imagine that money spent on community outreach, afterschool programs and staffing inner city schools with counselors and social workers.  Imagine it spent on anti-drug campaigns and free rehabilitation centers.  This is a world with fewer addicts.  This is a world where a kid has place to turn to other than a gang.  This makes sense.  And, this COSTS less than the War on Drugs

Which we lost, by the way, before it even started.  What we're doing now is like dropping bombs on our own soldier's barracks and claiming that the high body count is the cost of victory.  It's time to fight the smart war.  And it's time to acknowledge that young black men matter, that they don't live in their own country, and that we are all in this together.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Unsolicited Advice for the Dads

Over the weekend, I encountered an unfortunate post over by there at the Facebook which purported to help women protect themselves against rape.  Here's a link to an article that explains pretty well how toxic and wrong the post was.  But the thing I want to talk about here is how the vast majority of sexual assaults are not committed by masked strangers who grab your ponytail (seriously... this post advised women not to wear ponytails.  Sigh).  The vast majority are perpetuated by someone the victim knows. And the vast majority go unreported because we've spent so much time and energy telling girls and women that it's probably her own fault it happened.

So what I'd like to say here is that while self-defense, muscly, strong stuff is a valuable and worthwhile skill (for both genders, not for nothing), arming your daughter with a fundamental appreciation for her own sexual agency is likely going to be much more beneficial.  Teach her stuff like this:

1. There is no such thing as blue balls.  He will be fine.  And he's being a dickhead manipulator by trying to make her feel guilty.
2. If she feels weird or uncomfortable in any situation, she should not be quiet about feeling weird and uncomfortable.  She has a right to feel uncomfortable.  She has a right to her own feelings.  If he's a good guy, he will stop what he's doing because he is also interested in the person attached to her body.  If he's a bad guy, he will not stop what he's doing and will instead try to persuade her that she shouldn't feel weird and uncomfortable.  This is a bad guy.  She should smack him upside the head and leave.  And then tell her friends about what a giant loser he is.
3. Sex is not currency.  It cannot be owed.
4. Sex is something people share, not something one party gives to another.
5.  And, Dads, here's a big one:  do not ever, under any circumstance, refer to a woman as a whore or a slut.  These words are violent, they are hateful, and their only function is to undermine female agency, to diminish women as a whole. Think of them the same way you think of the "n" word.  They are not good words.
6. And last, but not least, don't be mean to her boyfriends when you meet them.  That's so not cute.  It just means you don't respect her ability to make good choices.  If you respect her choices, then she'll learn that her choices should be respected.  See 1-4 for why this is important.

There you go.  Knowledge is power and all that. Respect your daughters, respect your sons.  And don't call that lady who cut you off in traffic a dumb whore.  Give her the respect she's due: call her an asshole.