Family of Friends

You’ll find there’s a family of friends living here,
A small group of minds, and of hearts;
With some of us clever and some of us not,
At times you can’t tell us apart.

There’s one who is cranky, and one who is shy,
And one who is really uncouth;
And just when you think you’ve discovered who’s who,
You’ll really uncover the truth.

The truth that we’re all just a little of each,
A group of imperfects are we
And sometimes I might criticize them to you,
But don’t ever knock them to me.

‘Cause the one thing that ties us together for life-
no matter how far we’re apart,
Is love for each other, a family of friends
A small group of minds, and of hearts.

Judy Blume

Dear Tragedy Hipsters

In the wake of the Paris attacks (and just about every other issue that makes the front page) a lot of people are asking, “Why isn’t anyone talking about ________?” These people are also critical of others’ use of the Facebook photo filter bearing the French flag. Well, I have a message for those people:

Instead of trolling comment sections under articles on Paris in an effort to divert attention from that to whatever you think others should be equally concerned about, perhaps you should  be posting or even writing articles on those issues. That would be a far more effective way to spread awareness than trying to hijack other topics of discussion to solicit attention for some other issue — a tactic which is petty and juvenile, and does very little to promote your cause.

To be clear, I am not talking to people who do post articles about other things, or who simply choose not to use the photo filter. I’m talking to people who take a morally superior stance; to the people who Jamiles Lartey of Guardian US refers to as “Tragedy Hipsters” and their holier-than-thou comments that amount to, “I care about suffering and death that you’ve never even heard of.”

I’m talking to people who rebuke others for using the photo filter and/or talking about Paris when there are other tragedies taking place in the world. Your thinking on this is completely irrational because you’re basically saying that if we don’t talk about everything we shouldn’t talk about anything. This line of thought is childishly demanding and completely unrealistic.

Some things hit closer to home and resonate more than others. This is part of human nature and anyone who claims to be equally concerned about every injustice on the planet is flat out lying — lying to themselves and lying to the world. As Lartey also pointed out:

“It simply isn’t possible to treat every individual tragedy & moment of suffering with objective or equal consideration, and no one does this. There is robust neuroscientific research into how this works in the human brain, and how poor a job we do at weighting suffering and tragedy.” [emphasis mine]

I refuse to be manipulated into keeping quiet about things that resonate the most with me, or into spreading myself too thin in a futile effort to be all-inclusive. This does not equate to apathy or racism, as some have erroneously charged. I am a human being with limited time and energy, and the same goes for all those social justice warriors striving for the moral high ground through pretending to care about all things equally — something which is absolutely humanly impossible.

Writer and Director, Terry McMahon, made a similar point by asking the following questions:

“When we grieve for someone with whom we have a personal connection should we feel guilty that our grief does not extend to every stranger we have no connection with? When we go to the funeral of a loved one should we feel guilty for not having attended every fucking funeral in the history of humankind? When we connect should we feel guilty because it is personal?”

My answer to those three questions is a resounding NO, NO, and NO!

Whenever you feel the urge to troll comment sections to shame others for discussing something that resonates with them, resist the urge. Instead, focus your energy on productive ways of bringing awareness to issues that resonate with you — not by hijacking other topics of interest and scolding people who aren’t talking about everything you think they should. That’s like crashing a funeral and demanding that mourners express equal grief for someone else buried yesterday in a cemetery across town. It’s offensive and in poor taste, and demonstrates the same level of insensitivity that “Tragedy Hipsters” decry in others when they focus more on one thing than another.

Open a new topic of discussion by posting relevant links, or even writing your own piece on issues that you feel aren’t getting enough attention. The Internet and social media offers everyone that option equally, so instead of criticizing people for exercising that option, try doing the same to a more productive end. Imagine how much attention could be brought to the under-reported tragedies in the world if all the ‘funeral-crashing’ social justice warriors would focus more on that and less on finger-wagging, which accomplishes very little apart from alienating the very people they presumably wish to sway.



Aujourd’hui, nous sommes tous français

On September 12, 2001, the French newspaper Le Monde proclaimed, “Today we are all Americans”. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris yesterday, this American proudly proclaims:

Today I am French

Cry Baby Cop, Michael Holsworth

So, there I was minding my own goddamned business, drinking coffee and trying to read the news when my actual news reading was completely disrupted by a pathetic, self-serving sob story from one of Kansas City’s finest. His name is Michael Holsworth and according to his Facebook page, he has been a cop for thirteen years and proudly proclaims that, “When guns are outlawed, I will be an outlaw.” Here is the profile photo that Holsworth used to publicly declare that he will do what the fuck he wants, the law be damned:

Outlawed Guns

Not surprising from a cop these days — don’t like the law, just fucking break it. No skin off their asses. They’ll all just lie and cover for each other and never face any consequences for the crimes they commit.

Full disclosure: I don’t like cops. I don’t trust them and I don’t call them when I’m in trouble. I’ve witnessed, first hand, far too many cases of police misconduct and brutality, and as I read the news every single day, my contempt for them is validated — by them. Today was no different. And don’t even try to convince me that there are still “good cops” out there because as long as the ones who aren’t actually killing innocent, unarmed people or otherwise abusing their authority continue to turn a blind eye or make excuses for the thugs in uniform, they are as complicit as said thugs in the crimes they commit.

But I digress.

So, Officer Holsworth was meeting his family for his birthday lunch at Olive Garden when he was approached by a hostess:

As I was sitting there waiting, one of the employees told me ” Sir, we don’t allow guns in here.” Now mind you I am in full police uniform and on duty. I actually thought it was a joke at first so I asked her ” Are you serious?” She replied back with ” Yes”. So I told her ” well I can leave I guess.” She then replied back ” yes please leave”

Did Holsworth ask for a manager to help clear things up? No, he volunteered to leave and then went crying to Facebook, asking people to share his story to let “everyone know how this establishment is treating their local law enforcement.”

Mr. Holsworth, “this establishment” didn’t treat you or anyone else in any way at all. You didn’t give them a chance to! One hostess told you what the gun policy was and you offered to leave, by your own admission. You claim that you “posted on Facebook about [it] because [you] did not want other officers to be subjected to the same embarrassing situation.” And I’m calling bullshit!

This could have been easily and quietly resolved, never to happen again, if you had simply asked for a manager. You went to Facebook to get attention and probably to try doing a little damage control and garner sympathy for your profession. You are the one who took it to the media, and then had the nerve to say this in a follow-up statement:

I ask that the media and others respect my privacy and devote their attentions to altering the general narrative about police officers in a more positive direction so this type of situation does not occur in the future.

See? Damage control for the profession. It’s almost as if Holsworth didn’t want the issue resolved amicably. It seems that he saw an opportunity to make a fuss and have his moment in the spotlight to play the victim and whine about the media’s “general narrative about police officers” and ask them to “alter” that narrative as if it’s somehow the media’s responsibility to repair the image of cops across the country — a horrifying image that cops in the United States have created for themselves!

So, Holsworth, how about appealing to your Brotherhood across the nation to stop acting like a bunch of goddamed gangsters and repair their own fucked up image? Or would that be too much like placing the responsibility exactly where the hell it belongs? Talk about victim blaming and shooting the messenger!

The knee-jerk responses in the comment sections of the news articles pissed me off even more. “Boycott Olive Garden”, and various expressions of police worship which always makes my skin crawl. The more people treat these guys like celebrities, the bigger their heads get and the more rounds they fire, and with no consequences. Cops are public servants! Stop the fucking drooling, people!

Michael Holsworth is a whiny bitch whose fragile ego was bruised when a little girl didn’t treat him like the superhero that he imagines he is. That is why he didn’t deal with the situation like a fully developed, emotionally stable adult. He’s not one. Any normal adult would have either left and taken their business elsewhere — without throwing a public tantrum — or asked to speak to a manager. But Holsworth is a cop, you see, so poor service in a restaurant is somehow newsworthy. But now he wants his privacy. And being a cop, he apparently thinks he’s entitled to run screaming into the media spotlight and then demand that the media respect his privacy. Self-important fucking ass wipe.

As to Olive Garden, fuck them for apologizing. I may very well boycott them just for that. Holsworth made absolutely no effort to resolve the matter right then and there, but instead took it public without even giving management a chance. If anything, Holsworth owes Olive Garden an apology for blowing such a petty isolated incident completely out of proportion! I’m sick to death of businesses falling all over themselves to kiss a bunch of smelly cop ass. But they do it because they worry that if they don’t, the cops won’t do their jobs if ever called to their establishments. And the sickening part is that they’re probably right, which would further validate my distrust and contempt for police.

In closing, I challenge Michael Holsworth to support his claim that he sees this kind of thing happen “all over the United States”. If Mr. Holsworth can cite even half as many cases of shit like this as I can of police killing unarmed, innocent people across the nation, I will chop off my right index finger and post a video of the amputation for your viewing pleasure. Or perhaps Michael Holsworth would like to alter his own bullshit narrative to include some actual facts. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Michael Holsworth

Things That Matter

“Earlier in my life I thought the things that mattered were the things that you could see, like your car, your house, your wealth, your property, your office. But as I’ve grown older I’ve become convinced that the things that matter most are the things that you can’t see — the love you share with others, your inner purpose, your comfort with who you are.”
― Jimmy Carter

Amen and amen!

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter attends a news conference in New York

Don’t Like Socialism?

Far too many of my fellow Americans toss around the word “socialism” with an obvious misconception of what it actually means. I have struggled to explain the difference between socialism and communism, but my efforts thus far have been in vain. That being the case, I will now spell it out in the simplest terms I know how:

Don’t like socialism? Then get off the internet. But read the rest of this first:

Don’t use public streets or highways.

Don’t use the U.S. Postal Service.

Don’t call 911 in an emergency, and never use the services of the police or fire departments.

Don’t use the public library or go to tax-funded museums.

Build your own landfill and haul your own garbage there.

Don’t purchase or consume anything that was produced on a farm.

Don’t use health insurance of any kind.

Don’t use public schools or colleges, and do not accept student grants or loans.

Don’t ever collect Social Security or use Medicare.

If you lose your job through no fault of your own, do not file for unemployment benefits or food stamps.

Never sue anyone for anything or even defend yourself against a lawsuit because you will have to use our public court system to do either.

Never go to a public park, city zoo or state run beach.

If disaster strikes, do not rely on FEMA.

Do not take public transportation of any kind. And since you won’t be using our public roads, you should probably invest in a good pair of hiking boots.

Other “evil” socialist entities:
National Weather Service, Department of Justice, Peace Corps, Secret Service, Dept. of Education, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, OSHA, Department of Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control, State Construction, FDA, G.I. Bill, Veterans Healthcare, EPA, FBI, Military and Defense… And this is a short list.

Now, if only we had a presidential candidate who wants to make corporations and the billionaire class chip in for some of this shit! Oh wait…

If you really hate socialism, then go live in a cave somewhere and be truly self-sufficient.

Letter to Editor & Star Tribune’s non-response

I was so disgusted by Dennis Anderson’s piece (of shit) following the poaching of Cecil the Lion that after emailing him and receiving no response at all, I sent a letter to the editors. Almost immediately following the Star Tribune’s non-response to my email, the account I had registered just a few days ago had been restricted. Not only am I not allowed to post comments or replies, now I cannot even “up vote” other people’s comments.

My full letter to the editors:

To Whom It May Concern:

Before beginning my response to Dennis Anderson’s article regarding the poaching of Cecil the Lion, I read your guidelines for what makes a good commentary. I was surprised to learn that the Star Tribune holds its readers to a higher standard than it does its own columnists. Of the ten guidelines listed, Anderson violates half of them in a single piece. I ask for a little leniency with regard to the word count of my email, since, for the sake of context and clarity, a significant portion of it includes quotes from Anderson’s piece, as well as questions from the aforementioned guidelines.

5. Is the writing clear and efficient […]?
No. Anderson begins with five paragraphs of fluff and clunky purple prose before getting to the point.

6. Is the commentary engaging?
No. It is preachy, accusatory, arrogant and a flippant dismissal of the global outrage over the brutal poaching of Cecil the lion. Not at all engaging, but in fact quite alienating. Anderson’s sole purpose seems to be to shame and discredit people who are grieving the death of Cecil the lion and its greater implications; to minimize and trivialize the tragedy of it in favor of being an apologist for Walter J. Palmer and poaching in general.

7. Does the submission offer a clear point of view?
Anderson’s view is clearly that the international outrage is without merit, but his rationale is unclear because it contains a plethora of fallacious reasoning — and violates the three remaining guidelines provided to your readers:

8. Is the argument being presented logically sound in its construction and conclusions?
No, it is not logically sound in its construction or its conclusion. One example would be Anderson’s false comparison between deer hunters in Minnesota and poachers in Zimbabwe. His conclusion is that the same standards would apply to both. For the sake of brevity, I will not belabor this point despite several other relevant examples.

9. Does the commentary avoid hyperbole and fallacious reasoning?
Absolutely not! It is riddled with hyperbole and fallacious reasoning, including red herrings, non sequiturs, false dilemmas, false comparison, moving the goalposts, poisoning the well, appeal to questionable authority, strawman arguments and ad hominems. And that’s just off the top of my head! Claiming that mourners of Cecil’s death are just “perpetually agitated”, have no use for facts, and don’t “really care what actually happened” is nothing but ad hominem attacks designed solely to shame and discredit us. Anderson also states that “if perspective is important” the size of the protected park is only one sixth of the size of Minnesota – with no explanation as to the relevance of that statement. That is a red herring and non sequitur, among others. I can explain the rest in greater detail upon request, but for now I am trying to keep this as brief as possible. Alternatively, for a more detailed explanation, see my personal blog entry, Open Letter to Poacher Apologist, Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune.

10. If outside material or data is being presented, is it appropriately sourced?
No. Not only does Anderson make numerous dubious claims without citing any sources at all, he conveniently omits multiple verifiable facts that don’t fit his preferred narrative or obvious agenda — while simultaneously claiming that other sources have omitted relevant facts — again with no citations. He states that we know nothing about the incident apart from what Palmer has told us, when that is absolutely, verifiably factually incorrect. Furthermore, he refers to “what is known” about “Minnesota archers who hunt in the evening” and what “is legal in Zimbabwe and the way most lions are hunted there” without citing a single source. He then goes on to say that “[t]hose countless reports [of what happened to Cecil] I am told by someone who knows, are wrong.” Anyone can make the same claim about any issue, but without credible sources and verifiable facts, it’s just a bunch of hot air.

Anderson’s entire piece violates at least half of the guidelines set for readers who want to respond. It’s insulting to readers and damaging to the Star Tribune’s credibility.

In closing, I want to address the last paragraph of Anderson’s segment entitled, If things were reversed…:

Anderson asks, “What’s the chance that reporters from Zimbabwe, half a world away, report this story — and the intentions, motivations and agendas of its many characters, Rogers and the landowner included — accurately?”

The implication here seems to be that we should not trust even our own media — which has to include the Star Tribune — because it is relying on information received from “half a world away”. It seems that anyone working anywhere near the field of journalism would never seriously suggest in this day and age that facts and information cannot be accurately reported and shared globally and in real time. With that in mind, I can’t help thinking that an alternative interpretation could be nothing more or less than a bunch of crypto-racism, passive-aggressively suggesting, “Don’t trust the Africans!” Either way, Anderson doesn’t exactly come out of it smelling like roses.

How Dennis Anderson’s article made it past any responsible, ethical editor is beyond me. It is shameful to the Star Tribune and a disgrace to responsible, ethical journalism and journalists around the world. He owes his readers and the general public an apology and should be made to publicly admit his multitude of ‘errors’.

The Star Tribune’s non-response:

from: Opinion
to: Charlotte Knight
date: Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 9:12 AM
subject: RE: Response to Dennis Anderson re: Cecil the Lion

Thank you for sending your work to the Star Tribune opinion pages. Your article has been reviewed. Because we are offered many more commentary submissions than we can accommodate, we have to turn away many writers. We don’t anticipate finding a spot for your article, but we do appreciate having been given the opportunity to consider it.

The editors

So, in other words, they didn’t read a word I wrote. Or they did read it, and simply do not care about the dishonest and unethical work of Dennis Anderson. I did not ask for a “spot” for my “article”. I don’t want my name anywhere near theirs. All I wanted was to bring attention to Anderson’s piece (of garbage) and the fact that the Star Tribune hypocritically holds its readers to a much higher standard than it does its own columnists. Since they refuse to actually respond to a single point I made, then I can only assume that the Star Tribune doesn’t care about integrity or ethics. As a courtesy, I gave the Star Tribune a chance to answer to and rectify the situation, but they’ve basically said that you don’t really care about their lying columnist.

Thanks, Star Tribune, for confirming what I have suspected all along — that the Star Tribune is a washed up rag that cares more about selling papers and advertising spots, than it does about the integrity of its “journalists” or the sub par garbage they publish. Keep up the crappy work and you just might find your own spot — right next to Fox [not] News.