Life in America and Other Drugs

by And the White Lion Roars!

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What a week for the liberals among us! We got a beat down in the midterm elections, even in places where the republican candidates are hated. The dumbest thing is that in every single state, whether describes as red, blue or purple, every single liberal ballot initiative passed by HUGE margins. So, raising the minimum wage and legal marijuana won even while the states in which they were on the ballot elected very conservative representatives who most certainly don’t believe in those things. Sheesh!!!

This entire autumn has given me many things to roar about, and once I get some more coffee brewed, I’d like to share some of them.  The only question I have is, should I share them in order of oldest to newest or in reverse? Does it even matter? Nah. Well, maybe. Would a true white lion be so wishy-washy? Okay, here goes:

1. There were a couple of scandals involving professional football players in the early part of the season, one for a video of the player hitting his fiance` so hard that she was rendered unconscious, the other for a player who whipped his four year old with a switch so hard that the child needed to go to the hospital. In the former the player’s (now) wife stood beside him, and criticized the public for getting into their personal business and affecting their lives in such a way. The latter claimed that he was simply disciplining his son the same way that he was disciplined as a child. I’ll address that one first. Being from a family that believes hitting children is an acceptable way to discipline, every child of my generation has been whipped with a switch at one time or another. I am not a believer in corporal punishment, and don’t really wish to have that discussion here. The thing is though, that each and every time I or my siblings or cousins were whipped with a small, long piece of a tree, it was over clothing and on the butt. There was no chance of harming us enough to need emergency medical attention. If anyone is beaten with a stick, no matter how large or small, that there are deep welts, it is abuse and cannot be tolerated. This is not simple discipline, and that man deserves to be charged with child abuse. But regarding the wife beater who trotted out his victim to criticize everyone else for interfering in their private business, he has stated that he is in “anger management classes.” That’s great, and I hope it helps. But I’m not sure that anger management is all that wife beaters need. There is also a need to deal with control issues, but more than anything else, it is needed to teach these men not to disrespect others to the great degree that they think they can violently exert control over them. This man needs to learn to respect this woman, his life partner, as an equal who does not need to be controlled by him, or punished by him. I have personal experience with a physically abusive man, and after that relationship ended I did a great deal of research about this particular pathology, and there are several things that are always true, including that non-physical abuse typically precedes the hitting. There is a beating down of the partner psychologically, there is trying to isolate the partner from friends and family (don’t want anyone to know what is happening at home,) these men (in most cases it is men) often want stay home wives-easier to control, no competition from men at work who might be less controlling or violent. The hitting is not usually in anger, it is about control. The culture that tells men that how they treat their wives and children at home is no one’s  business is also the one that leads to much of the rape culture of our society. It is one that devalues women and tells men that “no” means you need to take what you want by force. This is all so tied together that it should not be discussed separately, and needs training for boys to start early on that women are equal members of society. Women are not the property of a man, and if a man and woman wish to live their lives together, neither one belongs to the other and neither is allowed to be “controlled” by any kind of abuse, whether psychological, physical or sexual.

2. In mid September Jon Stewart was talking about stereotypes on his Daily Show, and he got upset about the character Shylock, in Shakespeare, who was a Jewish money lender willing to take a pound of flesh from borrowers who couldn’t pay him back. Stewart said he needed to have a talk with Shakespeare about that. Now, I love Jon Stewart, so this is not a critique of his feelings about Jewish stereotypes. What I am growing tired of is the whining about what any particular character in a work of fiction represents. Think back to high school English. Shakespeare wrote plays and sonnets. His plays fell into three categories, history, tragedy and comedy. Shylock was a fictional character in a Shakespearean comedy, not a history. Movie producer Tyler Perry gets criticized all the time for his fictional characters because they allegedly conform to negative black stereotypes. But people, THESE ARE FICTIONAL CHARACTERS!!! Think back even further in school to elementary school, where most of us were taught that non-fiction is true stuff and fiction is not true stuff. Get over yourselves and stop thinking that fiction is about you or your group. Now, being a fat chick, I have sometimes been offended by the ubiquitous fat kid in kids movies who can’t eat enough, and then they eat so much that they vomit and it’s really funny to the age group that is targeted by such films. I don’t usually go see those movies, I’m not a part of the demographic targeted by those film makers. But from now on I think I’ll be able to remind myself that this character is a fiction and not be offended by it. I’ve also been bothered by television police procedurals which always show environmentalists as ecoterrorists, willing to kill or maim to make points about environmental damage. Tree huggers, which is a name I proudly wear, are presented as people who care more about the environment or about animals than about people. But no! These television programs are showing a story with fictional characters and outcomes. If I were a college boy, or fraternity member, I could also get upset, because those groups are always shown as entitled, sexual criminals who stand behind their fraternities no matter what. But that’s not my group, so until now I hadn’t thought of being offended by those stereotypes. I never read Moby Dick or Robinson Crusoe until I was an adult, and when I did I thought, “Wow! These books could never be published today because of their racism. Anyone with dark skin being described as a ‘savage?’ This would never be accepted today. But they are FICTION. Remember, that means it isn’t true. This argument needs to be applied to all fiction-even Mark Twain’s writings, which are often either banned or edited for the words written a hundred years ago to be acceptable to current sensibilities. Thicken your skin. Fiction means not true, and a fictional character can be allowed without getting our back feathers up. Now, if a white man wrote a story today about a black man who is going around raping white women, there could be some discussion about that. But fiction is fiction. And it’s not true. Not even Shylock.

3. I need a break from roaring. My throat is getting sore. So a couple of really dumb things that I heard this week. Maybe I should stop criticizing people for dumb things they say impromptu around the press. But I heard the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, say this week that if the president acts “unilaterally on his own…” And it struck me as repetitively redundant. And silly. The second, and probably worse one, was that there is now a new medicine available for MILD headaches. We need another medicine on the shelves with which to medicate ourselves into taking even more medicines than we already do. I’m sorry to Huey Lewis and the News, the pop group from the 1980’s, we do not need a new drug. How many more new pills do we need to stock our medicine cabinets with that we can take too often when there is another possible way to handle these things? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.