I’m learning how to use a gun.

I’m not thrilled about this.  I wish this wasn’t the reality I was living in.  But reality is what it is, not what I wish it would be.

Now, I’m about as far away from a fanatical gun nut as you can get.  I was raised in Europe, and there were almost no guns around when I was a kid.  The countries I lived in had very strict gun control laws, and I’m glad they did.  I continue to be a strong supporter of strict gun control laws.

But the American culture I live in is full of guns.  My neighborhood is full of guns–almost all of my neighbors have them.  Even though Portland is very progressive, there’s a strong gun tradition here in Oregon.  It doesn’t seem smart to be the only one without.

And there’s something scary brewing in this country.

Maybe this feeling has come over me because I’ve been watching the BLM protests, and the armed militias which have started showing up–and which seem to be supported by the police.  There is, of course, 17-year-old (!!!) Kyle Rittenhouse who killed two people and injured one person at the Kenosha protests, after having been given water and thanked for being there by the local cops.  In my own neck of the woods, Portland police basically allowed Proud Boys and other right-wing groups to run wild last weekend, to beat people up and point guns at them, including one guy who had a warrant out for his arrest…but was permitted to show up at the protest and then walk away.  Once the right-wingers were gone, the police declared a riot and tear gassed the protesters who remained.

Maybe I’m feeling this way because I’ve made the painful mistake of actually listening to the Republican convention this week.  I’m hoping this grave error doesn’t cost me my marriage, by the way.  Every time my poor husband walked into my office and heard one of the Trump-bots talking, he would clutch his head in horror and flee.  Thank goodness it’s over.  But it didn’t improve my mood to hear the President’s fans making hysterical speeches about how he is the only one who is standing between America and the country’s destruction by the radical left.  That is cult of personality talk, that is dictatorship talk.  It raises the temperature, and it makes me suspect that even if Joe Biden wins, we will have crazies on our hands who will be on a mission to “save America” from the rest of us.

Back in the day, when I was a bit more naive, I was one of those people who would have said “Well, if anything happens, I’ll just call 911, right?”  Unfortunately, everything that has happened recently has made me question how much we can trust our policing system.  Obviously, I realize that since I’m white, I don’t even know the half of it.  And I’m also pretty sure there are individual police officers who are genuinely wonderful people.  But when I see that instances of police brutality against black people just keep coming, and then when I see the police seemingly taking the side of armed vigilantes at protests, that worries me.

And if you visit any Facebook group or other online forum where these militia-type groups gather, you will see them discussing, with great excitement, the possibility of civil war and violent conflict in our near future.  This certainly didn’t start with Trump–I remember these same types threatening secession and armed insurrection all through the Obama years.  And I’m sure there are many big-bellied keyboard warriors involved, who may talk a lot, but would never get off their couch long enough to start a war.  Still, one theme is repeated over and over again in these discussions–it’ll be great when the shit hits the fan, because we’re the ones who have all the guns, and the “libtards” will be sitting ducks.

I used to dismiss that as idle chatter from incels stroking their own egos, but now that fanatical Trump-worship has been added to the mix, my perspective has shifted.  If the fascists ever decide to come for me, I don’t want to be defenseless.  Now, I’m not about to start doing stupid, showy things.  I’m not going to start showing up in public places or at public events wearing large machine guns.  That is just plain dumb and it’s asking for trouble–kind of like that St. Louis couple who decided to come out of their large mansion and wave their weapons at protesters, with their finger on the trigger.  But I will have a chance to defend myself if anyone ever enters my home with ill intentions.

I’m interested to hear opinions from others about this.  More and more, my point of view is shifting to the belief that the left should be armed, so that if the country slides into some ugly form of totalitarianism, we’re not completely helpless.  Or is that something that will just cause more problems and stoke more violence?  Obviously, my preference would be that we just vote Biden into office and the Trumpster phenomenon quietly dies away.  And that is what I will be working for all this upcoming fall.

But at least for now, I’m a reluctant gun owner.

 

 

 

 

I’m beginning to think that Tucker Carlson’s main function in the world has become to tell white conservatives scary bedtime stories about black and brown people.

His storytelling first got my attention a couple years ago, when he was railing about immigration and demographic shifts in America, claiming this was “more change than human beings are designed to digest.”

More recently, this is the guy who envisioned a frightening dystopia ruled by BLM mobs:

Imagine if the Diversity Inclusion Department at Brown University had the power to arrest you. Imagine if the Black Lives Matter rioters had weapons and immunity from prosecution. That’s what they’re talking about. Partisan law enforcement and partisan law enforcement, incidentally, is hardly without precedent. In fact, it’s the rule in the third world. This is an attempt to bring it here.

…This may be a lot of things, this moment we’re living through, but it is definitely not about black lives, and remember that when they come for you. And at this rate, they will. Anyone who has ever been subjected to the rage of the mob knows the feeling.

I have to admit, I’m really not that scared of the Diversity Inclusion Department at Brown University.  But if you don’t buy that threat, how about those “violent young men”?

Well, violent young men with guns will be in charge. They will make the rules, including the rules in your neighborhood. They will do what they want. You will do what they say. No one will stop them. You will not want to live here when that happens.

Tucker doesn’t specify what color these young men are, but he doesn’t have to.  If these were young white men with guns, Fox News would be calling them “patriots.”

Tucker got into some massive trouble, and lost some sponsors, over those comments.  But you’ve got to give it to him, he knows what his schtick is and what his audience expects from him, and he’s not giving that up.

So here is his latest, now about Joe Biden’s VP pick, Kamala Harris:

Consider this tape in which she explains how the federal government should respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Again, whatever you think of Affirmative Action, it’s likely you never imagined Affirmative Action would be applied to life-saving medical treatment. But Kamala Harris thinks it should be.

So we make decisions about where the resources should go to keep people from dying on the basis of skin color. So only people of a certain color get the vaccine, for example. That’s what she’s arguing. Now, this is a lot of things. It’s immoral. It’s unconstitutional, obviously. But above all it is definitely not moderate.

Now, mind you, in the interview Tucker mentions, Kamala was talking about the fact that communities of color were disproportionately affected by COVID, and that some of our resources should focus on helping those communities. She did not suggest that only people of color should get the COVID vaccine.  Well…of course she didn’t, because that would be insane and not something a serious person says.

But it is Tucker Carlson’s job to sell his Fox audience scary stories about what will happen when that brown-skinned woman with the weird name gets to be the Vice President…so that’s what he does.  Expect to see a lot more of this as we get closer to November, unfortunately.

Coincidentally, one of my neighbors has a dog named Tucker.  He is a round-bellied little creature which yips pointlessly all day at cats and squirrels and other animals that are not afraid of him and completely ignore him.

I would like to think the other Tucker has just about as much effect and influence.

 

 

Somewhere in America, a young man sits at the breakfast table, eating his cereal.  He’s getting ready to go.  His backpack and coat are in the chair next to him.

His parents are nervous and excited for him.  He’s told them that he’s going to the city for a job interview.

Before he leaves, he gives his sister a hug.  She tells him to be careful.  The big city is not a safe place.  He gets into his truck and takes off.

He sits in horrible traffic for hours.  Slowly, he crawls his way downtown.  He looks out his window at the dirty streets and the crowds.

He finally finds a parking spot, and then he walks, in the noise and the shadow of the towering skyscrapers.  He hates it here, but he’s willing to do this.  He’s here to save his country.

For a while, he hangs out in front of a store window, staring at a display of the latest phones.  Across the street, a slim figure strides down the sidewalk.  It’s easy to recognize her.  She’s a female journalist, and he has read online that she walks to work every day.  He agrees with his President–she’s one of the enemies of the people.

Pulling out his gun, taking the shot–it all happens in a flash, and she crumples to the ground.

The next bullet is for him.  He doesn’t mind dying.  He has fulfilled his mission, done what he believes his role models and leaders wanted him to do.

Maybe–he thinks in his last moments–maybe, thanks to his sacrifice, America will continue to be free.

 

I turn my laptop on in the morning already knowing that the battle continued raging even while I was asleep.  Indeed, shots were fired in the middle of the night.

“You have to ask yourself, are you here for the revolution?  Are you a revolutionary or what?”

I’m definitely a “what.”  And the correct category is…?

“Are you a patriot?  Are you fighting for liberty?  We are continuing our fight against the useless bureaucrats in D.C.”

“How can any liberal support Hillary?”

“How can any conservative support Kasich?”

“Bernie will smash the banks…”

“Trump will keep those illegals out…”

Remember when the Internet used to be all about posting pictures of babies, lunches and kittens?  Believe it or not, I really miss that time.

“You people are privileged and don’t know what it’s like to struggle…”

Hey, everyone!  Here’s a video of Chirpy!

“You people have never had a real job or paid taxes–you don’t what it’s like out there in the adult world…”

“Old and square…”

“Young and dumb…”

Chirpy is a parakeet.  He likes to play the synth…

“Racist…”

“Politically correct sheeple…”

“Fascist…”

“Communist…”

Watch him play the Game of Thrones theme!

“You Nazis should get sent to camps…”

He even whistles along!

“You SJWs should get shot into a ditch…”

And isn’t it hilarious how the cat is watching him from below?

Right?

Guys?

“Let’s burn everything down!”

“Let’s burn everything down!”

It’s not too late.  We don’t have to burn everything down.

 

Yeah, it’s only Facebook, or “Loserbook” as some here may call it. But “Loserbook,” like everything else, reflects trends in the larger society it’s a part of.

One of the most irritating–and effective–ways of going after people on Facebook is to report their content for being inappropriate. Pictures of breastfeeding mothers have been removed because of the dangerous boobie visuals involved. Likewise, photos of topless couples embracing, etc etc. Facebook is great at protecting us from random nipple sightings.

If you’ve been anywhere near social media lately, then you’ve likely come across the picture of hunter Rebecca Francis stretched out next to the dead body of the unfortunate giraffe which crossed her path while she was on safari. The pic stirred up controversy, as Rebecca is smiling happily next to her kill. This caused some Facebook users to question whether or not it would be possible to report sites devoted to posting pictures of hunted animals for inappropriate content. I can see their point, especially since the links to the sites would sometimes pop up as ads in the middle of the newsfeed. If you’re not expecting to see a bloodied animal corpse wrapped around a grinning hunter’s shoulders, it may be a bit disturbing.

But it so happens the hunters in the pictures were fully clothed, so Facebook’s response to the complaints was all too predictable. The users who reported the sites received a stock reply–Facebook had reviewed the content of the pages for graphic violence, but found none of the posts violated its terms of use.

Naturally, Facebook has the right to make its own decisions about what it does or does not consider to be inappropriate. But an issue which has always puzzled me resurfaces here. In America, nudity is unacceptable, but violence–whether administered to human or animal–is perfectly fine.

Where does this come from? Is it that this culture is so in love with the Old Testament, in which a vengeful God has no problem wiping out entire cities, but has huge issues with human sexuality? Is it a consequence of our mixed Puritan/cowboy heritage?

Whatever the case, just remember that if you finally get to take that dream trip to Greenland to club little baby seals to death, and you want to post your vacation pics, for the love of all that is holy, WEAR A BRA.

Some immigrants are luckier than others. We were embraced by complete strangers when we came to the States. “Welcome to America!” “God bless you!”

Then there is the Iraqi man in Texas who went outside to look at his first snowfall and was shot dead in front of his home. His welcome wagon was, shall we say, a little less festive.

What makes one person a target and not another? Was it simply that the color of his skin was darker than ours? Or were we lucky to be dealing with people slightly less crazy than the ones in Texas?

When we lived in Idaho, our neighbors pointed their many guns at everything else that moved–the squirrels, the birds–but not at us, at least as far as I can remember. Not that there was any love lost between us. They didn’t like us because we had an accent and spoke to each other in our native language. Actually, they were drug dealers, so they were paranoid and didn’t like anybody very much.

I was told when I came to America that I should fear the big cities with their muggings, but the scariest time I’ve experienced here has been the five years we spent in Boise. Still, we didn’t get shot. Since America is portrayed around the world as the country where people get shot, this was a big deal for us.

I guess this rambling post is to reflect on the randomness of fate. What decides which human beings live and die? Whether or not you look like the type of person who gets killed. And if you do, whether or not you are doing something “suspicious”. Whether or not you live somewhere where weapons get waved around in public, or a more civilized area like the one I currently inhabit, where the residents keep their weapons hidden in their homes. Whether or not the nutjob down the street finally reaches his tipping point. So many things can go wrong.

Some of us just happen to be lucky.

The radio is already playing Christmas carols, and Ferguson is still smoldering. And the head shaking about what happened in Ferguson is continuing. It’s sad to watch businesses that have been part of a neighborhood for years be destroyed. And I won’t lie–I’ve become an old, comfortable suburbanite, so the thought of civil unrest of any kind mainly makes me nervous. Yet even inside my middle-class bubble of safety, a question lingers…

If the protests had been completely peaceful, would anyone have cared? If not a single fire had been set, would anyone have noticed?

The news media pretty much gives us the answer. The peaceful protesters in Ferguson–and there was a large group of them–were mostly ignored by the cameras. The rioters and looters got all the attention. And the TV channels were waiting with their tongues out, panting for something “bad” to happen. That’s why it’s so galling now to see the CNN experts taking on a “tsk tsk tsk” finger wagging role. This is exactly what they wanted! Peaceful protest doesn’t make for very entertaining television.

We did have some protesters here in town who got media coverage, but only because they blocked the roads, resulting in furious rush hour drivers. And what if they had stayed out of the traffic? We have the answer to that question too. The night of the grand jury announcement itself, a group of activists gathered in front of the Justice Center downtown, chanting and singing songs. The local news anchor gave them about ten seconds of his attention before moving on to Timmy the tap dancing cat or whatever other human interest story he had lined up.

We like to tout the philosophy of non-violence, the example of leaders like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr–who’s being quoted a lot these days–but how much respect do those who follow the non-violent way actually get? And does peaceful protest even work? I’ve been involved in a couple protest marches myself (I think you’re required to do that before you can get official Portland resident status). I was at one of the Bring Back Our Girls rallies, and couldn’t help thinking that being there was, more than anything, about making ourselves feel better. If the Boko Haram kidnappers could have seen us reading our poems about justice and sending our positive vibes out into the universe, they probably would have laughed their asses off. And, judging from at least one Youtube video, they did.

And this plays out on an even grander global scale. Vladimir Putin has been spending his free time making threatening military gestures. President Obama tried–at least at first–to establish a foreign policy of diplomacy and negotiation rather than war. Obama was dismissed as weak, whereas Putin was praised for being a super macho male, and the conservatives of the world are all but doodling little hearts on the snapshots of his bare-chested horse rides.

So is peace the way of the losers? This is an appropriate issue for me to ponder, especially as I get closer to celebrating the symbolic birth of my symbolic spiritual teacher, who preached about turning the other cheek and then got killed off by the powers that be. As a child of hippies, I would like to continue to believe in non-violence. But it’s very obvious to me which path the world I live in values more.

Ironically, right after I posted my gun conspiracy blog, we had our very own local school shooting here in the Portland metro area.  A high school freshman who was armed to the teeth entered Reynolds High School in Troutdale, OR, killed a fellow student and wounded a teacher and then, once he realized police were entering the school, shot himself.

What scared me just as much as the event itself was my reaction to it.  I held my breath in horror as I listened to the breaking news coming in on my radio at work.  But then, as I learned the extent of the shooting, I breathed a sigh of relief.  “Oh good.  Only two people dead.”  I caught my own reaction and was horrified all over again.  This is how used I’ve become to a world of spectacular acts of violence.  I expect to hear of 20, 30 dead–otherwise it’s not as big of a deal.  These are two individuals gone, one because of a random attack, the other seemingly because of mental illness.  Their families are grieving, the teenage boys won’t get a future, but hey, this was only a “small” shooting.

I can’t say that I really have good answers to any of the questions here.  Guns are a part of the problem, but only one part.  Clearly something inside of the kids leads them to feel that taking multiple lives is an acceptable response to the situation they’re in.  Something is broken there, but I don’t know how it can be fixed.  But regardless of what we think the solution is, the one thing I do know is that we cannot allow ourselves to get used to these shootings.  We can’t let them become a normal part of our daily life–although perhaps we already have.

Oh, the bizarre logic.  Republicans in Maryland talking about how something just has to be done about video games:

“These video games are out of control.  They are way too violent,”  Parrott said.

But they are against any gun regulation in the state.  Right, because it was the video game packaging that was used to kill in the Newtown massacre.  

Republicans are adding to their weird list of deadly objects every day.  Cars are just as deadly as guns!  Pencils!  Spoons!  After all, stabbing 20 people to death with a spork is so much easier than shooting them.  But move right along, everybody–no gun problem to see here.

I’m assuming guys like Parrott would like to propose warnings or restrictions for video games.  I don’t like violent video games either–but if we’re going to say they contributed to the problem and something needs to be done about them, what about the actual weapons used in the shootings?  A cartoon portrayal of violence is more dangerous than the real-life tool used to do violence?  Conservatives like to poke fun at liberals for not being logical, but this makes no sense to me.

I’m back at work after Thanksgiving break and that can only mean one thing…listening to Glenn Beck in the morning for amusement.  This week, Beck went on for a while about how wonderful and peace-loving his followers are.  He recounted an anecdote about a book signing at which he was protested by mean-spirited, table-climbing Occupy radicals–and in response, his supporters sang Christmas carols.  He talked about how the liberal media will smear them and say they are horrible, when in reality, these are the good people.

I spent quite a bit of time after election night on The Blaze, Beck’s online forum, so something about this didn’t sound right to me.  And lo and behold, here are some quotes from Glenn’s peaceful fans:

“This country or at least half the people in it are a lost cause.  It doesn’t matter who wins at this point if we are forced to live with these vermin.  It’s time we start eliminating them now.”

“I for one will no longer give to charity in the event that my money would ever help someone who voted for Obama or worse someone who didn’t get off their lazy azz to go vote or decided that it didn’t matter.”

“I like Rush’s idea:  kick all of the Liberals out of the West Coast (and shoot them if they try to come back)”

“I’ve lost all faith in america I hope she burns”

“May the coming nuclear strikes hit the big blue cities.”

“Enjoy your trip to the concentration camp and don’t ask for my help, I voted for the American.”

About Californians:  “I don’t want to sound crazy, but why does it seem like they need to be contained or eradicated to control their disastrous spread.”

About libertarians:  “We might as well have shot them all to death.”

“Oh yeah, New York and New Jersey…have fun with the noreaster.  I hope you all freeze.  I hope the rats eat your children while they spread the plague to the dim-witted adults who for years have embraced left-wing politicians that have made your states the disasters they are.”

“I hope you’re regulars at soup kitchens because money troubles wrent your families apart.”

“I hope that Obama gets cancer.”

Ah yes, these are the good folks.  Now, I get that not everyone on The Blaze acts this way, but every discussion thread I went to on this site included multiple comments either threatening violence or wishing suffering and a slow death to those with opposing political views.  And these are the people I’m supposed to go to for Christian love…?

Links to the discussions I’ve culled these quotes from, if you’re brave enough:  here, here, here, here and here.