September 18, 2006
In fifth grade, my teacher Mrs. Ford ordered the class to be silent. She said that anyone who spoke in the least would be taken to the office and our parents would be called.
I was a good kid, so I didn't say a thing. After I finished my assignments, I sat looking around the room, watching the other children work. Suddenly, Mrs. Ford called my name, "Trey, I said no talking."
"I wasn't talking."
"I saw you talking just now."
"No, I wasn't. I didn't say a thing."
"I saw you."
"No, you didn't. I didn't say anything."
"Trey, I'm not going to discuss it. We're calling your parents after class."
I was livid.
Fifteen minutes before the end of class, she lined up everyone she had called out and started to march us to the office. Most if not all of the other children admitted to talking. I did not, however, and I was last in line because I was not happy about having to go to the office.
I had never gotten into trouble in school before apart from a mild verbal reprimand. I never had detention. And my parents were NEVER called. I knew that if my parents were called, I would be spanked when I got home.
It's important for me to point out at this point that my father was physically abusive to me when I was younger. He never broke any bones or anything like that, but he did spank us visciously. I don't care to go further than to simply state the fact in order to explain the level of fear I was experiencing at the thought of my parents being contacted by the school.
I will add this: using physical violence like spanking is not only inappropriate but ineffective as a means of correcting a child's behavior. I also think it's easy for an angry adult to go beyond any reasonable standard when violence.
And there was Mrs. Ford was calling everyone's parents.
I got to the front of the line and I said, "Mrs. Ford, I wasn't talking."
"Trey, I saw you talking."
"But I wasn't."
"What's your phone number."
"I wasn't talking."
"What's your phone number."
"I'm not going to tell you because I wasn't talking. You can't call my mother for this."
She got a phonebook from the office ladies.
"Mrs. Ford, I WASN'T TALKING!" I pushed the button on the phone to force her to disconnect. She pushed my hands away and dialed again. "I WASN'T TALKING!" I was terrified of getting into trouble at school and I was terrified of getting into trouble at home. The injustice of what was happening overwhelmed me.
"Mrs. Peden? Hello. This is Mrs. Ford, Trey's Science teacher. I'm calling because Trey was talking in class today and --"
"MOM! DON'T LISTEN TO HER! SHE'S LYING! I WAS NOT TALKING! I WAS NOT TALKING! I WAS NOT TALKING!" But I was screaming at the top of my lungs at this point.
I don't even clearly remember what happened after that. I didn't do anything more violent than pound on the table, I think. I was forced to sit in the principle's office crying and my mother had to come to the school to pick me up.
I was given a "referral." I don't know what that meant exactly, but I was a firm believer in the "permanent record" and I thought for sure the police would forever see me and think I was a criminal because I had been written up.
My principle saw how upset I was and agreed that because of my previous good behavior that he would throw away the referral and I would not be in trouble for my outburst.
My mother, for her part, was astonished and confused by my bahavior. I was a good kid. I didn't get into trouble, so she knew something was very wrong. Even so, she made me go back to Mrs. Ford and apologize. I refused because I thought I had done nothing wrong. My mother forced me, though.
Mrs. Ford, in all her "kindness," accepted the apology and I went home for the afternoon and remained in a huff about it for the rest of the day.
Before this incident I was very friendly with Mrs. Ford and considered her one of my favorite teachers but I hated Mrs. Ford from that day forward. I refused to engage her in any extemporaneous conversation ever again. And I generally regarded her with disgust and disdain. She was a liar.
I still get angry about the whole thing. You'd think that even though it was almost 20 years ago that I would let it go, but I haven't. Part of the problem, I think, is that I don't believe it was ever made right by me. Mrs. Ford owes me an apology, not the other way around. It was a grotesque injustice and no one supported me.
Granted, I should not have lost my temper and screamed at my teacher, but I also had no recourse because my dad operates on the assumption that children are liars. So, I believe I would have been spanked anyway.
Anyway, my point is that I was insane with outrage at the incident. It was only physical force that compelled me to apologize to Mrs. Ford. It's just so weird that someone would accept guilt for nothing.
I guess those elders think that if someone is indignant about their innocence, then they will glady submit to a painful test in order show how determined they are to maintain their innocence. The problem is that the test in itself is a punishment. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
I'm glad those 50 guys refused to submit to the test. I probably would have just freaked out and turned over the pot of boiling oil.
September 16, 2006
I still can't watch the video clips of the planes hitting the World Trade Center or watch the towers fall without tearing up. In my mind, it is proof irrefutable that those mobs of chanting muslim slaves begging for a tyrant really do what to destroy us.
"Bomb! Bomb! USA! USA!
Bomb! Bomb! USA! USA!
Bomb! Bomb! UK! UK!
Bomb! Bomb! UK! UK!"
That's what they chant sometimes.
But here are these people who deny the very nature of the event.
They deny that it was islamic terrorists.
They deny that planes even hit the towers.
They deny that a plane hit the Pentagon.
They deny that a plane crashed in Pennsylvania.
That's right. They deny all of those things. Instead...
They claim the government planned it all.
They claim satanists are behind it.
They claim a missile hit the Pentagon.
They claim flight 93 landed in Cleveland.
They claim that the WTC was destroyed by a controlled demolition.
They claim someone wanted to steal $160 Billion in gold from the World Trade Center.
They claim neocons wanted to revolutionize... something.
They claim that advanced holographic imaging was used to fool eye witnesses.
The list is quite long and all completely asinine.
Seriously, every single theory is absurd enough on its face to reject it out of hand. In light of the avalanche of physical evidence, eye witness accounts, video footage, and everything else, no other claims are reasonable.
But I brought this up to one of my coworkers and he was like, "Yeah, those are pretty crazy, but..."
As soon as he said "but" I started edging toward the door.
You can't talk to people who can spout even a doubt regarding the general course of events on 9/11.
But he chased me back to my desk telling me that he is skeptical about the collapse of WTC 7. Oh, you remember that one. It's the 46 storey building that collapsed "mysteriously" after having 16 floors severely damaged and burning uncontrollably for several hours. Gee, the collapse is soooo... mysterious and inexplicable.
But my coworker doesn't understand why that one fell and none of the other buildings fell. This is a difficult thing to explain what with the falling towers not hitting any of them like WTC7 and none of them burning like WTC7. What could possibly have caused it to fall like that?!?!
I just stared at him and said he was ridiculous and his skepticism is absurd.
I just can't get over these people, though. I even bought that book by the Popular Mechanics guys.
It's like looking beyond the looking glass where walking away from your destination brings you right to it.
What boggles me is what these people gain from believing these wild flights of fancy. 9/11 was a devastating event, yes, but (most of) these people aren't folks who narrowly escaped the horror and remain traumatized by the horror and as a result have suffered a break from reality.
In many cases, these folks are career conspiracists. They ALWAYS think there's a conspiracy involved. It's like they reject a story JUST because it's the easiest or most widely accepted explanation.
I don't know but it's like a circus sideshow and lately I can't get enough.
September 11, 2006
But, before I do, here's a transcript from a chat session with a friend of mine that contains more of the things that bother me about the goings on today:
Trey Givens: Every year they read ALL the names of all the people who died.
Trey Givens: It takes over 3 hours.
Trey Givens: They started at like 8:45 this morning.
Trey Givens: I hate it.
Trey Givens: I absolutely hate it.
Trey Givens: Folks are spending so much time and energy crying rather than living.
Trey Givens: A cottage industry of sympathy givers and getters exists today
Trey Givens: Movies, television specials, t-shirts, museum exhibits, lobbying groups, special laws, memorial-building, posters, postcards... everything.
Trey Givens: All to celebrate death.
Friend: Well, sitting and listening to names be read for the sake of your own "healing" takes less effort than going to work.
Friend: Sarah Silverman has a joke.... She explains that her boyfriend has two kids from a previous marriage, she explains that they are aged 9 and 11. She says her boyfriend made them those ages in order to commemorate 9/11, because really, it says a lot more than a pin.
Trey Givens: HA!
Trey Givens: Check out this quote from mayor Michael Bloomberg's speech this morning:
Trey Givens: "We come back to this place to remember... each person who died here, those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us."
Trey Givens: "Whose absence is always with us."
Trey Givens: I heard the speech this morning live.
Trey Givens: And I just know he meant and it was understood that the families who lost someone were always just standing around hurting.
Trey Givens: Just existing in pain.
Trey Givens: Their lives are now defined by loss.
Trey Givens: It is horrible.
Trey Givens: repugnant.
Friend: I've heard several people say that exactly.
Friend: On the news.
Trey Givens: I don't even have the words to describe how sad and angry it makes me to think of such a thing.
Trey Givens: I'm steaming with anger over it.
Trey Givens: And all the stuff on the news today just brings it all into focus.
Trey Givens: Why I'm angry about it.
Trey Givens: It's terrible and evil.
Friend: I don't really think these people are defined by loss, but I think there is a big gaping hole that justice was suppose to fill.
Friend: And it didn't.
Trey Givens: That could be.
Friend: And so now, people are trying to get something. Money, recognition, a TV spot.
Trey Givens: That's a much more positive view of all those criers than I have right now.
Friend: Well, I heard a woman this morning crying and saying that she wanted to be able to tell her little boy that Daddy died here, meaning the site of the attack. And really, the only reason she feels that way is because the last chapter, so far, is that we were attacked. It's the only thing she can tell her son. Daddy died. What she really wants to be able to tell her son is that Daddy was killed and we stopped the men who killed him. We're safe. But that's a bigger problem.
Trey Givens: I hope you're right about them, then.
Trey Givens: It's hard for me to believe, though, that Dubya and the rest of the politicians are an extreme minority of people
Friend: I think they're pandering to the masses. It's a lot easier to encourage people to mourn -- you basically don't have to do anything -- than it is to encourage people to fight and live. We don't have any politicians today who can do that, which is a shame.
Friend: Our politicians are lazy too.
Trey Givens: mm hm.
Trey Givens: But people are accepting it.
Friend: You're not.
Trey Givens: "Evil wins when Good refuses to act."
Trey Givens: I'm not, but loads more people are.
Trey Givens: It makes me angry with them is all.
Friend: Yeah, I understand.
Trey Givens: And I know that they're ruining things.
I'm glad I have good friends who keep me reasonably sane most of the time.
I can't believe there are human beings who have blinded themselves and turned off their minds to such an extent that they would level so much destruction on the best, most beautiful place on earth.
Almost 3,000 innocent people died that day.
This hideous crime deserves nothing less than the complete and utter annihilation of any and all who played a role in the act as well as those who sympathize and support them. Justice permits no warning, no negotiation, and no mercy to them.
The world needs to know that Americans stand proud, strong, and unwavering for justice and individual rights.
Sadly, the world and particular the perpetrators of this evil have received no such message. We've all heard quite the opposite message in the meandering, unfocused response of the American military, the plaintive mewling of those on the right who claim to be defending America's ideals, and screeching of those on the left who deny the nature of the event and oppose justice.
Five years later and the primary actors who launched this and other attacks against Americans are still at large.
Other groups who have similar goals thrive.
And America stands by for hours listening, again, as people read the names of the victims. We look at the shining jewel of human accomplishment, New York City, and the gaping wound, while cleaned up, remains gaping and sucking at our time, money, and souls.
Americans have superstitiously, irrationally, disgustingly outlawed the use of that land for anything BUT a, oversized headstone to those who died. Americans are standing around sobbing anew today. Americans, who are supposed to be proud, strong, and unwavering in their love of life, stand around enshrining death.
I know the families of those victims hurt and will always hurt. They have lost irreplaceable values. Americans, like me, who lost no one close are also hurt and angered that those barbarians would think to even step on our holy ground -- made holy by the blood and sweat we commit daily to freedom -- let alone do something so horrifying as this.
The outrage continues for me and should for others as well. Outrage toward the ideology of violence and death that is Islam and its adherants.
I'm outraged at the constant state of mourning some of my fellow Americans are maintaining. I'm outraged that anyone would suggest that our response to this crime be to set aside the property never to use it for anything but "thoughtful reflection" on that horrible crime.
Should a woman who is raped refuse love and the accompanying physical intimacy and live the rest of her life in solitude, fear, shame, and hurt?
This memorial and the ceremonies that are sure to persist for years and years to come are as unholy, irreverent, inappropriate, unjust, and disgusting a response to the horror of September 11, 2001 as I can imagine. This is not how people who love life act.
With our jaws set firmly in grim determination, we should be overcoming our losses and defying those who hate us for being good by being not just good, but even better than before. New York should be well into building the greatest, most righteous memorial to those victims possible: a building or superstructure larger, more grand, more elegant and more beautiful than the world has ever seen. Better by no small margin, either.
But people stand around moaning and crying instead.
I am shocked, saddened and outraged and the silly speeches and cowering prayers I see on television today are the most irreverent and shameful way people could be remembering what we lost that day five years ago.
In these irreverent memorials I see the death shroud of America the beautiful. I don't mean the physical entity of America, her people and land. I mean America the idea. America, a nation built and powered by the love of life and freedom in her people.
I'm crying today, too. Not for the victims of those islamo-fascists who died five years ago today. I'm crying because I know what it all means -- our fundamental rights to property, speech, and even our person and liberty are being eroded away on a daily basis. I know what it means: America is dying and it's not Islam that is killing her, but the ideology of death that pervades her people. And it's being illustrated in New York City and across the country today.
September 10, 2006
A good example of this is the frustratingly common argument that the War in Iraq was launched so that the US could take some of Iraq's oil reserves.
For people who use these sorts of arguments, it doesn't matter if there isn't any supporting evidence for the claim. It also doesn't matter if there are other possible motives and, of course, any motive that is claimed by those being blamed is rejected outright.
Usually, the motives people prefer to believe are the most craven and dishonorable, such as a power-mongering, greed, or to protect their image.
The amount of finger-pointing, screaming and hollering, spin-doctoring, and outright lying that goes on around events as complex as the War in Iraq and 9/11 is frustrating and disheartening. It also lends itself to partisanship.
Where people cannot discern the nature of the facts, they lend the benefit of the doubt and their passion about the principles involved to those they're familiar with.
September 05, 2006
I've caught crayfish, snakes, worms, frogs, bugs, birds, rabbits, armadillos, squirrels, mice, and lots of other critters. I've shot marbles at alligators and been banned from kindergarten show-and-tell for bringing certain animals to school with me. (We still blame/thank my dad for several incidences that led to extended recess.) We had fish, cats, dogs, birds as pets. We raised chickens and goats. I worked on a rabbit farm for a while. There used to be cows, but they were all sold/slaughtered when my grandfather died when I was 5, so my exposure to cows was limited to the times they wandered through our yard from the neighbors' pastures or when I wandered through the neighbors' pastures on my way hither, thither, and yon.
Other things aside, I learned through experience that animals have specific identies. Just like how people can't flap their arms and fly or breathe under water, most animals can't do more specifically human things. Dogs can't write novels. Snakes can't deliver pizzas.
I know it's obvious to say something like that because EVERYTHING has its own specific identity.
But lots of people act like animals are these completely unpredictable little clouds of chaos that are waiting in the wings for the perfect moment to frolick into a picnic area and spray poison into our eyes.
That is not how animals are.
Seriously. I have only known of one or two animals -- TOPS -- that would like to spit poison into your eyes at a picnic and I'm related to most of those.
I bring this up because of the unfortunate death of Steve Irwin. I am very sad about this because I loved how exhuberant Steve Irwin was. He was so unabashedly joyful about life and his adventures.
I think a lot of people took his quirky enthusiasm to be irrational and a sign of poor judgment. I think some people even felt that Steve Irwin was really just some uninformed yahoo wandering the outback snatching up dangerous animals on film. On the contrary, he was an experienced and knowledgeable naturalist with years of direct experience with dangerous animals.
There's a certain grim irony in his death by stingray given that death by stingray is rather rare next to death by crocodile and the other deadly animals Irwin regularly handled.
That irony aside Steve Irwin was a man intimately familiar with the identity of the animals with which he worked. He didn't fear them because he knew exactly what they were and what they were capable of doing. I pointed this out in the discussion of the much decried incident in which he held his son whilst feeding a 12ft croc.
This is in stark contrast to most people, particularly those accustomed to urban life which insulates them from the flora and fauna of the world. This lack of experience leads to cringing and screaming at the thought of snakes on a plane. It also leads to people drawing erronoeous conclusions about the level of risk involved when dealing with animals even domestic ones.
Some people have taken Steve Irwin's tragic death to be an opportunity to point and say, "See? I told you so." As if the mere fact that Steve was killed by a wild animal supports the conclusion that he accepted an unreasonable amount of risk and that we should all give a wide berth to wild animals.
No one (except maybe PeTA radicals) say that Madonna should have learned her lesson when she was thrown from a horse. No one says that because of the millions of deaths by car wrecks we should stop driving cars. No one says that because of all the people who suffered in Hurricane Katrina we should flee in front of all tropical storm systems.
The categorical condemnation of all undomesticated animals or even specific species (although I reserve the right to regard chimpanzees as horrid, disgusting little monters) is haphazard and unfounded.
It reminds me of the people who think all firearms should be outlawed because some people get killed by firearms.
The reality is that all things in existence have a specific identity and as such it is the challenge of the human mind to find ways to deal with those things. That may mean just staying clear of those animals, but it may also mean learning how to handle them safely as one might handle a gun, a car, or the fists of Chuck Norris.
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