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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Put Away Childish Things

 

“I am sure you have come across older people who behave like children. They want everything, whine for attention, bitch about the smallest things and argue about virtually everything. They stopped growing up at some point but continued growing older.”
― Saidi Mdala, Know What Matters


The day began in the usual fashion:


I'm not entirely sure what this was in response to -- if indeed it was a response to something I actually said and just not some spontaneously generated Budweiser fueled 2AM outrage at something he thinks I might believe.

Let's take each point in order:

"Hey coward, you're also a self righteous prick."

Also?

I mean, you start out with a conjunction? A connector to another thought? Also what? Why do I feel like he's been in this conversation longer than I have?

Maybe he forget an introductory paragraph? Also.

Grade school English aside, he might be right.

I might be a coward. I have a bunch of medals here from my military service that say otherwise, but I admit anything is certainly possible.

I've been called worse.

By better people.

That said, I comfort myself with the fact that coward though I might be, I at least don't send anonymous hate mail to random strangers on the internet.

I actually own what I say. I put my name on it, in front of half a million people every day.

I don't know if that's courage or not, but I can tell you that it very often makes me wish I was back in Iraq. As dangerous as that job was, it was often a great deal less shitty, insane, and soul draining than dealing with my own countrymen on the internet every day.

As to being self righteous prick, I admit that is likewise a possibility.

Others have made similar observations. Perhaps I should endeavor to be more humble, friendly, and less self-confident like my modest critic?

No?

No, I suppose not. And frankly, I'm not sure my readers would respond well to a suddenly unassuming and self-effacing Jim Wright.

Self-righteous prick suits me.

"You're happy to bully people who will be screwed under. Biden administration into voting for your own interests. [sic]"

Ah, now we're getting somewhere.

Again, he might be right.

Yes, he just might be.

You see, my interests are liberty, justice, and equality for all.

I want a poor black woman to have the same exact rights, respect, and opportunity as a rich white man.

I want the hungry to have enough to eat.

I want the sick and infirm to have medical care. I want the hale and healthy to have it too.

I want the homeless to have shelter and comfort.

I want the wealthy to pay their fair share.

I want the working stiff to have a living wage, good benefits, a safe and modern workplace, an expectation of a decent and timely retirement, and a say in how things are done.

I want every student to have a comprehensive quality education in a safe and violence-free environment and the realistic chance at higher education without a lifetime of crushing debt.

I want corporations to share equally in the risks they force onto the public, and I want the public to share in the vast profits businesses reap from the exploitation of public assets, land, and resources.

I want a nation that holds the peacemaker in higher regard than the warrior and employs the reasoned skills of the diplomat before the violent physicality of the soldier.

I want a society that tears down statues of generals and raises up instead monuments to the teacher, the artist, the engineer, the healer, the bridge builder, the homemaker, the mechanic, and the garbage man -- those everyday invisible unknown heroes who keep the wheels of civilization turning.

And most of all -- most of all -- I want a government that is accountable to its citizens and I want rational citizens educated, willing, and determined to hold that government to account every single day without regard to political party or ideology.

What I really want is a better nation, a better world, dedicated to a better future for all and not just a privileged few.

THOSE are my interests.

So, yes indeed, if you stand against those interests, if you're one of those selfish sons of bitches who get "screwed" under a new administration that seeks to make those interests a reality? Why, yes, then I'll gleefully mock your impotent fury every single day without pause.

I will.

Just as I mock the failure of Confederates, the Klan, Nazis, racists, bigots, sexists, and florid toothless little haters just like my critic.

"Nothing worse than a piece of shit who believes his own interests make him righteous enough to justify his bullying."

Heh heh.

Though I have no proof -- because as previously noted, he left off the introductory paragraph that would have explained the impetus of his complaint -- I strongly suspect this is in response to something I said the day before. To wit:

(A commenter complained that I wasn't showing the proper respect to recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and that I shouldn't make her death into a political statement because that makes those liberals and progressives who didn't vote, or who threw their votes away, feel guilty)

I respected Justice Ginsburg just fine.

It's people like you, you miserable son of bitch, that I have no respect for. People like you who put the burden of your duty on an 87-year-old cancer patient so that you could have the luxury of throwing your vote away, of not showing up, of using your precious franchise for some idiotic protest, instead of doing your goddamned duty like a citizen. You screwed us all. You fucked over the most vulnerable members of our society solely so that you, you smug asshole, could pretend you have principles. You fucked not only us, but generations.
Now? Now you can own it. This is on you and nobody else. You don't deserve the Republic.
So, don't you dare come at me, you fucking ghoul, and demand respect. Because I'm fresh out.
Harsh?

Perhaps. But these are harsh times we live in. Sugar-coating it and coddling those who steadfastly refuse to do their civic duty doesn't seem to be working.

And to be honest? These people piss me off. Here we are on the very brink of fascism if not already over the edge, on the very verge of losing everything these perverse sons of bitches claim they care about, and they still won't accept responsibility for their own actions.

So, yeah, I'm a little harsh.

If you see my comment as bullying, well, that's just too goddamn bad.

No one is making you read my comments or hang around my social media feeds. I don't seek you out. You came to me, to boast about how you refuse to do your civic duty. So, if you don't like what I have to say or how I go about saying it, shove off. If you don't, that's on you. I'm not going to pull my punches for a bunch of shitty self-involved little snots who can't be bothered to show up.

OR for a bunch of wannabe fascists.

Because frankly, at this point, there's not a lot of daylight between the two.

If you think that's bullying, well, then you should perhaps have a talk with your president -- and he is your president and make no mistake, but we'll come back to that. Your president who daily uses the most powerful platform in the world to bully his political enemies, the weak and helpless, the crippled, the hungry, the tired, the homeless, and the soldier alike, all of those people you claim that you care about -- just not enough to actually show up and pull the handle for better leaders. And then he goes golfing.

Perhaps you should look to those of your persuasion who march on the capitol with their guns and their bibles and threaten to visit violent murder upon their neighbors.

Perhaps you should see to those who would kneel on a black man's throat while those like you righteously cheer on that oppression in the name of "law and order."

And while you're at it, have a talk with your miserable small capricious god about how his shitty followers, people like you, think they have the right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body, who think they have the right tell others who they can love, who they can marry, and what they can do in the privacy of their own homes. So long as we're accusing others of being self-righteous and all, I mean.

And perhaps instead of sending hate mail and threats to others on the internet, perhaps you should spend a few minutes looking into the mirror and ask yourself who the real bully is.


What's that?


You're a not a Trump supporter?

Huh.

Oh, I see, you're a Democratic Socialist, are you? With your little rose and your framed picture of a sparkling unicorn. Yes, I see.

And you stayed home, right?

A lot of your fellows, they went to the polls and they voted for a candidate they didn't particularly like. But not you. You stayed home. You threw your vote away.

You know what?

Those who stood silent while the Nazis herded Jews into the gas chambers may not have been card-carrying fascists themselves, but they might just as well have been.

And that's you.

You refused to make the adult choice, and so it was made for you, by those you claim to despise the most.

You're not a hero.

You're not righteous.

You're just another complicit stooge.
"People like you, wretched, entitled, boomer filth, is the reason 50% of the country didn't vote in 2016 and will sit out 2020."
And now we're down to it, aren't we?

The bitter crux of the matter, yes.

Somebody was mean to you on the internet and so you stayed home and pouted with your little bottom lip stuck out. The Nazis are marching in the streets of your nation, and there's you, sitting on the bed, arms crossed, holding your breath until you turn red.

Your candidate wasn't the nominee.

You didn't get what you want.

So you stayed home in petulant fury.

Boy, you sure showed us.

But here's the curious thing about your rage: According to you, I'm a horrible, self-righteous cowardly prick, right? "Wretched entitled Boomer filth," that's what you think of me, those are your words.

And yet -- and yet -- that's who you expect to do your job.

That's what you're saying here, isn't it?

Cowardly wretched entitled Boomer filth that I am, and yet I showed up.

I show up every time.

Where the fuck were you?

You don't show up.

By your own account: YOU. DON'T. SHOW. UP.

And you wonder why the world never goes in the direction you want?

Those like you don't show up, because those like you never do.

It's got nothing to do with the candidates.

It's got nothing to do with the choices.

It's got nothing to do with the system.

And it's for goddamn sure got nothing to do with me.


You don't show up because that's just who you are.


And this bluster and outrage? It's just an excuse.

Because that's all you've got, excuses. That's what defines you. Excuses. Not showing up. You can write hate mail, you can rage on the internet all goddamn day, but you just can't find the time to go vote. Instead, you expect somebody else to fix the world.

Somebody like me. A person you despise.

Why?

Because you're a child, that's why.

You're a child.

You want to talk about entitled? You expect everybody else to do the grunt work of democracy for you -- like your mom picking up your dirty laundry scattered all over your room and washing it for you and putting it away in the drawer all neatly folded and smelling of fabric softener.

You throw a tantrum when the world gives you choices you don't like, when you have to work for what you want instead of having it handed to you.

So you sit home and pout and blame everybody else.

Hell, you can't even be bothered to do the bare minimum as a citizen. Instead you dress yourself up in some imaginary "Resistance" like a kid playing at Star Wars and pretend you're actually doing something by sending hate mail to random strangers on the internet.

Because you're a fucking child.

You're an immature little turd whose life will never amount to a goddamned thing, nothing but daydreams and outrage and endless excuses. Your mom will be picking up after you your whole damn life. Your entire worldview is that of a child. Your politics are those of a spoiled little brat. You call me a coward, but you expect an 87-year-old woman with metastatic terminal cancer to do the heavy lifting for you and you can't even put forth the bare minimum effort of showing up to vote -- and then you announce that dereliction of duty as if it's some sort of accomplishment.

You seem to think nonperformance is a statement.

And it is.

But your petulant impotence is very likely not the message you think it is or much of a reflection on the generation you claim to speak for.

You, you fucking child, you're why the world is what it is.

Yes, others and other generations fell down on the job too. But that doesn't excuse you, because you could look to their pitiful examples see the cost of your cowardice. You saw that and still you elected this cretin, and it hardly matters if it was with right wing MAGA hat wearing malice aforethought or out of some pot smoke scented far-Left indolent spite.

You want a better world, but you won't do even the minimum work necessary to make it so.

You claim to care about others, but you'll sacrifice the most vulnerable if you don't get what you want. Burn it all down, you shout. You're not a patriot, you're just another goddamned arsonist. You blame others, play the victim, and watch from the bed while your mom picks up your dirty clothes.

And because of that, that's all you'll ever be: a victim of your own failure and selfishness.

Your threat to stay home isn't much of an ultimatum. Go on, stay home. Leave the world to those you despise. That'll show us.

We'll be out there, holding back the fall of night, without you. Same as we always do.


“With President Trump, however, the masculine archetype seems to have regressed. Trump is less the strict father than the petulant child: a boyish figure who rejects advice, shirks discipline and refuses to be beholden to behavioral norms. He is rarely even seen as the patriarch of his own family; as Melania Trump said after he was caught boasting about assaults on tape, “Sometimes I say I have two boys at home.” ― Amanda Hess

 

“Trump taught us how easily seemingly serious people can become profoundly idiotic. He turned career politicians into circus freaks.” ― Thor Benson

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Going Offline for a Bit

You might have noticed that I haven't written much in the way of long form around here lately. 

No, I haven't given up writing.

No, I haven't abandoned the blog.

No, I haven't moved to a remote island without internet and gone back to nature -- though that is still a distinct possibility. 

The truth is: I've been having health problems and that has affected my ability to write longer pieces. Or complete the novels. Or write creative short stories. Or do much of anything but shout on social media at the latest idiocy by our government.

Pain will do that do you. 

It taken the doctors a while to figure it out. I've been scanned, X-rayed, probed, and had my blood tested in a dozen way. 

Yesterday I finally got a definitive diagnosis. 

The good news that it's fixable.

The bad news is that it's something that needs to be done right away, or it won't be fixable. 

So, in a few days I'm going in for surgery. Should be fairly quick. Recovery should be relatively short, a day or two, and I'll be out of the hospital and back to work. Hopefully back to writing long form here in addition to my usual copious social media output. 

That said, on the same day I'm scheduled for surgery, there are two hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast because, of course, there are. 

One of those hurricanes is aimed more or less directly at us here in the Florida Panhandle. 

I need to secure the house and property, prep the generators, lay in supplies, etc, so my family is safe -- including members that can't evacuate -- while I'm in the hospital.

All of this is the long way around of saying: I'm going offline for a week starting today. Prepare yourselves accordingly. I may check in periodically on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, let you know how things are going, but don't count on that. If surgery is delayed due to the weather, then I might be offline for a bit longer. I'll let you know. 


In the meantime: 

As previously noted, every once in a while I have to ask for money.

I don’t have to do it very often these days. But, this has been an expensive year and I’ve got bills to pay and people to take care of.

Having given up military consulting work and having shut down my woodworking business and art studio (hopefully temporarily) when I left Alaska, I subsist for the moment primarily on income derived from my social media sites and this blog – including the various merchandise I sell under my brand.

A few years back, I wouldn’t have believed this possible.

A few years back it wouldn’t have been possible.

But despite the sneering complaints of certain vocal critics, it is possible for a writer to make a reasonably decent living this way.

Yes, writer.

It used to be “writer” was defined as somebody who assembled words and ideas into books, short stories, articles, and perhaps screenplays, fact or fiction, and submitted those efforts via various means to editors at publishing houses or various presses or various media outlets, and then lived on cheese sandwiches hoping a check of some modest amount would come back. Traditionally the profession of “writer” meant you repeated this cycle without healthcare or adequate hygiene or presentable clothes until you died, or gave it up for a real job.

That model, that definition of writer, still very much exists.

And a lot of writers make varying degrees of living from it.

If you’re a Stephen King or a John Scalzi, you might make millions and live in a golden mansion high on a landscaped hill in the middle of a private island waited on hand and foot by an army of nubile olive-pitters (this is totally true and I heard it directly from one of George R.R. Martin’s gardener). But more likely you’re a stringer for the local paper, and you might make enough to buy a cheese sandwich or two providing you’re not particular about the definition of “cheese” or those weird green spots on the bread.

Various degrees of success exist between those poles.

Me? I wanted to be a writer since I was kid. It’s a sickness, writing. A weird mental disorder that makes you sit in front of a keyboard for hours, daydreaming and playing with ideas and wondering why anybody would read the blather on the screen. But my grandmother gave me a Hardy Boys book (#8; The Mystery of Cabin Island) for Christmas one year when I was about 8 or 9. I’d been an indifferent reader up to that point, but that book captivated me and my lifelong obsession with words began right there. Somewhere shortly thereafter, in a staggering moment of epiphany, I realized there were actually people out there who got paid to sit in front of a keyboard and daydream and those people didn’t have to put on pants every day. Hell they might not even own actual pants – unless you consider pajamas legitimate work apparel.

I knew then that’s what I wanted to do.

I’d always intended to go the traditional route, cheese sandwiches and all.

I’d never intended to write about politics. But evidence would suggest that’s where my talent lies – if you’re charitable and agree that it is indeed an actual talent and not just something you could train a chimpanzee to do (they taught ‘em to fly spaceships, so I imagine political pundit wouldn’t be that difficult).

But by the time I was free to write what I wanted (upon my retirement from the military) and I started writing in earnest with the idea that someday somebody would give me actual money for it, the world had changed. How we connect to it had changed and continues to evolve at a rapid pace and a new type of “writer” became possible – well maybe not new new, but perhaps a more modern version of the political broadsides and pamphlets penned by the likes of Thomas Paine.

It’s amazing to me how fast this has gone.

Ten years ago, hell five years ago, I would never have guessed that Facebook would become my primary platform for day to day short form.  Facebook is a horrible platform for the kinds of things I write. It’s a bastard cross between a blog and public forum and doesn’t do either very well. It’s subject to arbitrary and random censorship. There’s no protection for intellectual property at all. It lacks the most basic of editing tools and formatting functions, its search capability is ridiculous and all but useless. Facebook’s interface, timeline management, and display are one of the single most infuriatingly horrible experiences in an age of limitless customization – limitless to everybody but Facebook users that is. It’s impossible to get any kind of help from the operators and it’s subject to every kind of cyber-abuse from bullying to trolling to sexual assault.

And Twitter, where I spend many hours every day, is – if anything – worse.

If Facebook is a dysfunctional community, then Twitter is Monkey Island in that community’s horrible zoo, a screeching riot of flying shit and bared fangs. Twitter is a chemical plant for distilling out the absolute worst elements of human existence, like some sort of highway where every driver is armed and in the throes of howling road rage and they don’t care if they die if they can take everybody else with them.

And yet – and yet – these platforms do one thing very, very well.

They do the one thing that traditional publishing venues cannot do.

Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram and Snapchat and CoSo and so on) connect writers to people in an organic, viral, geometrically expanding manner that is completely impossible anywhere else.

Now, interacting with readers on a real time basis for hours upon hours every single goddamned day isn’t for every writer. It takes a certain degree of masochism to do it, see my previous comments about road rage and flying monkey shit.

In point of fact, a lot of writers become writers because they are anti-social bastards who enjoy living on moldy fake-cheese sandwiches and sitting around all day in dirty pajamas and who tend to break out in a cold sweat when they actually have to put on pants and go outside where all the other people are.

So real time interaction with their audience isn’t something they consider a feature.

And that’s okay. “Writer” is a loose enough definition that it accommodates the gregarious right alongside the hermit.

But, if you write well, if you write the things people are interested in, and if you’re willing to interact with your audience directly and in real time, then social media makes it possible for your work to spread far beyond the size of audiences normally available to traditional writers. For example: A few years ago, when I started doing this full time, Stonekettle Station averaged maybe 20,000 visitors per month – and that was after 8 years of writing every single day.  Maybe 3,000 people followed me on Facebook, maybe another 1000 or so on Twitter, and like one weird guy on Instagram.

Five years later, with some considerable effort, my daily Facebook audience is coming up on 200,000 subscribers, 170,000 on Twitter, and a single long form essay on Stonekettle Station can exceed 200,000 unique pageviews in a few hours.

That’s not connectivity traditional publishing, even things like newspaper columnist, can do.

Social media, for all its ills, has created new opportunity, an alternative to traditional writing models. Not a replacement, a supplement.

And that’s where I ended up.

I admit that in my case there is some degree of luck. I happened to be in the right place just as opportunity opened with the right experience and skillset and enough free time to take advantage of it.  It suits me. It’s not easy. Really it’s not. It sometimes (often) takes 14 to 18 hour days, research, writing, swearing at the screen, it can be incredibly frustrating at times for reasons you never imagine or anticipate. It requires constant attention, a constant presence, and everything becomes grist for the mill, making much of your life public – something that is often less than thrilling to your spouse.

It’s work.

And it is … writing.

I’ve had a number of critics sneer at me, you’re not a real writer! Well, okay. Fair enough. I’m not particularly put out by that and I’m willing to go with whatever description you want to call it.  Sincerely.

But what do you call it?

I sometimes crank out a quarter million words in a month for a dedicated audience larger than that of many highly successful novelists. Hell, news sites steal my work on nearly a daily basis, and publish my stuff as their own for profit – that’s got to mean something, right? Now, I’m willing to accept any label you want to slap on that, but before you do, I’d like to suggest you try it. Start a blog, social media sites, assemble words every day, build an audience without gimmicks or tricks solely on the basis of what you write, and then tell me what you call that effort.

As a cautionary note: no matter what you call yourself, no matter how much adoring admiration you manage to inspire in your audience, no matter how many people send you fan mail and messages of respect, no matter how successful you eventually manage to be and how full of yourself you become as a result, your family and friends still think you’re a putz and remind you of it as often as possible.  Ideally this keeps you grounded and from turning into a complete ass. Ideally.

And every day, every single day, no matter how well you’ve done, everyday, you’re sure that’ll be the day it all falls apart and you’ll have to go get a real job again.

I’ve been invited to a number of writer’s conventions to talk about this with other writers – or those who want to become writers under this new paradigm. That’s something I’m happy to do. I’ve been pretty lucky and I’m glad to pay that forward. The world is a big place, there’s plenty of room for many, many more writers – or whatever you call ‘em – in this new arena. More on that as plans firm up.

But, here’s the downside – or at least the part I like least.

Every once in a while I need to ask for money.

I don’t like this. I really don’t like this. I don’t like asking for money.

I’m getting more used it, especially since it doesn’t seem to bother readers at all – well except for that one guy who shows up periodically to call me names and generally make an ass of himself. But ideally, I write something and if you like it enough, you’ll kick in.  And thankfully, you do so often enough that I can mostly survive on that part. Mostly, but not quite.

So when I began this I found a way to assuage my conscience.

Any subscriber who donates any amount via the donation button or as a Patreon during the next 30 days, August 22, 2020 to September, 22, 2020, will be put in the running for a giveaway. Every few days over the next month, I’ll give away loot. I’ve got at least a hundred of my handmade ink pens, engraved with Stonekettle Station. I’ve signed copies of books that my work appears in. I’ve got signed copies of my photography – and given that I generally don’t sign those prints, these will be unique. And randomly, I’ll give away a couple of Stonekettle Station T-shirts (If you win one of those, I’ll have it made to your requirements, size, color, sex, etc).

Winners will be announced every few days until I run out things to give away.

To donate, click on the “Donation” button on the upper right side of this screen and follow the directions or click on the Patreon link for additional options.



Edit: Readers viewing Stonekettle Station on mobile devices sometimes can’t see the side-bar. As such, I’m attempting to embed the donate function code here in the text.







My Patreon is here



You may enter more than once. Each donation will be counted as a unique subscription. 

Those of you who already donate via an automatic monthly payment, you’ll be entered automatically in the giveaway.

I’ve discovered that winners sometimes, often it seems, do not want their names made public. I’d like to tell readers who got the various art pieces, but if you want your name kept private I will certainly do so. One time when I did this, the first person I selected to receive a prize refused because they lived on a boat and had no room for addition items. The alternate also refused for personal reasons and requested that the artwork go instead to a charity for auction to raise money for a cause important to them. They wanted it kept anonymous. So, that I did. I will honor any reasonable request when it comes to such things.

Legal Disclaimer: To be clear, this is not a lottery or a raffle.  Donations are voluntary subscription fees specifically in support of this blog and the associated social media feeds and conducted in accordance with state and federal requirements.

That is:  you’re paying for content not a chance to win something.

I am not claiming any tax-exempt status or charity. Donations are considered business income and I pay all applicable state and federal taxes on that income and I have the records to prove it.

The items I give away are my artwork, created and paid for by me.  As such I chose to randomly give them away to supporters, just as I gave away my custom made pens to my fellow writers.  The giveaway list is generated from voluntary subscriptions, since I have no other way to determine who readers are.  You are not donating for a chance to win a prize, you’re paying for the content of this blog and my associated social media feeds and I’m using this opportunity to give something back other than just my usual blog essays, Facebook posts, and Tweets.

As always, thank you for your support // Jim





Thursday, June 11, 2020

Down With Slogans!



Make America Great Again! 
-- Donald Trump, 2016 campaign slogan and policy statement

I said a thing. 
It didn't go well. 
Or, on second thought, maybe it did. Days later, I'm still not sure one way or the other. 
It began, as it usually does these days, on Twitter:


Hang on. 

Just wait. Don't start screaming yet. 

If you let me explain, I'll probably give you even more reason to be mad and outraged. Won't that be nice? 

So, anyway, that's what I said. 
We don't want to defund the police.
We want to fund police training, de-escalation, community outreach, oversight, and especially police ACCOUNTABILITY.
What we want is to defund police brutality, abuse, racism, escalation, and militarization.
Fund protect and serve EVERYONE.

Outrageous, right? 

In my defense, Twitter is a lousy platform for political commentary. Tweets are limited to just under 300 characters, which doesn't allow for much in the way of detail or nuance. And sure, you can thread tweets, i.e. link them together into a longer message -- and I do that, a lot, and am in fact somewhat notorious for it -- but the truth of the matter is that not very many people read beyond the first tweet in the thread anyway.

And frankly, I thought this mostly a throwaway comment. 

I posted that at 8:35AM on a Monday morning. First tweet of the week, while I had my first cup of coffee and settled in to get a feel for what was happening in an America on fire, burning from both ends and right down the middle. 

But this was a Monday morning after two weeks of protests following the murder of yet another black man at the hands of police. 

This was Monday after a weekend of the president throwing gasoline on the fire from the safety of his bunker, under a fortress, behind a wall, surrounded by a brand new fence, guarded by an army. 

This was the day after police across the nation declared war on American citizens, a weekend of dogs, escalation, gas, tanks, and bullets -- some rubber, some not -- and yet more murders, more racism, more abuse by those who should be protecting Americans instead of killing them. 

I want to say this Monday was unusual, but, you know, it's starting to feel like it's not. 

Maybe that's where I went wrong -- if indeed I did. 

Rage has become the norm of American existence and this just seemed like more of the same.

Because it is


And that's the problem. 


See, on that Monday, my various social media timelines were full, tens of thousands deep, with people shouting "Defund the Police!"

Defund The Police?

That's the message we've settled on, I guess. The shouted slogan, the unifying narrative that has emerged in the wake of the protests, the riots, the rhetoric, the war on American citizens waged by those sworn to protect and serve and openly led and encouraged by those supposedly elected to support and defend the Constitution for all. 

Defund the police!

There were thousands of requests, demands, entreaties, for me to use my platform to push that message: Defund the Police! Come on, Jim! Join us! Use your voice to get others to join us! Defund the police! 

Sure, but ... defund the police? 

Defund?

What does that mean? 

The day before I saw a handful of people shouting this. Now? Monday morning it was thousands. Tens of thousands. 

So, anyway, I...

What? 

What's that? 

Oh. I see. 

You're mad. It was way before Monday morning, you say. You've been shouting it for years. Well, you know, maybe it was being shouted long before Monday. But maybe we don't all have the same view, the same input, the same shared experience -- and we're going to come back to that. So, for me, it was Monday when I really noticed the slogan "Defund the Police," when I realized it had become some sort of national movement, when people began demanding that I join up. 

You? Your mileage may vary. 

As I way saying: You want me to join you? You want me to push the message? 

I might, but I'm going to need more than a slogan.

Defund the police? 

What does that mean? Get rid of the police? Abolish the police? Or just ... don't pay the police anymore? What are we talking about here? 

I looked at what my readers were saying, over half a cup of cooling coffee at 7AM. 

I looked at the thousands of comments and messages, and I  listened to what people were shouting in the street, and it seemed to me they were saying they didn't really want to get rid of the police. 

Instead, again it seemed to me, they wanted to reduce the things which lead to institutional bias (such as, you know, racism, for example), abuse of power (like kneeling on a man's throat until he dies, for example), unnecessary use and/or escalation of force (like tear gas and rubber bullets used on peaceful protesters outside the White House), militarization, lack of accountability, etc. 

That sounds good. 

I can certainly support that, and in fact, I have been shouting that very message myself for more than a decade right here. 

And, again it seemed to me, they wanted to reward, fund, and/or increase the things which lead to better policing. Such as: community outreach to help cops and citizens see each other as people and not enemies, i.e. make policing local, community based and less like an invading army; programs which move some of the burden for non-policing matters (such as mental health intervention) away from law enforcement; increased oversight of police departments by community, state, and federal entities; significantly increased accountability of police officers and departments, training (which can be everything from de-escalation to civil rights to sexual harassment), etc.

That also sounds good to me. At least as a starting point. 

Again, since it seems I might need to repeat myself on this, I've been preaching exactly that message for more than a decade now, right here on this blog, and on my various social media feeds -- and I haven't been exactly shy about it recently either. 

I think "defund" might not be the best choice of words here, but you go to into revolution with the slogans you have and so I boiled what I was seeing down into a single summary small enough to fit into a tweet. 

Monday morning and a throwaway tweet of agreement and, even now, this doesn't seem like a controversial statement to me. 


But it only seems that way.


As it turns out, that's not what everybody meant. 

See, some people really did mean "abolish" the police. 

A lot of people, as it turns out. 










 


















There are thousands more. 

Three days later, it's still going on. 

You can take a look at my Twitter feed if you don't want to take my word for it. And tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of similar comments on Twitter outside of my feed, and on Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, etc. 

Fuck you, defund the police. 

Fuck you, abolish the police. 

Fuck you, eliminate the police. 

Fuck you, defund means defund. 

Well, okay. Fuck me. Whatever. Not exactly the first time Lefty social media has told me to go fuck myself. I try not to take it personally. But about the hundredth "fuck you" from people who I'm supposed to be sharing a side with, well, like the man said, it kinda feels personal. 

Maybe I had it wrong. 

It happens.

I was once -- allegedly -- trained to hold a full cup of coffee, while standing in a canoe, in the middle a hurricane, without spilling a drop. Something about attention to detail and focus, or so Navy Chiefs would have you believe. But, this? This makes a hurricane at sea in a canoe look pretty good. There are one hell of a lot of moving parts lately. Lot of people yelling. Lot of rage. Lot of hate filling my feeds. We're still in the midst of a pandemic, record numbers of new cases, record number of people dying -- and here in Florida, I'm right in the middle of it. Meanwhile, there's an economic crisis, a looming recession, a collapsing energy sector, a trade war, an election. Right now, half my social media is lit up with very angry people yelling about the Harry Potter lady...

So, maybe somewhere in that tempest, I missed something. 

Unlike Trump, I don't claim every word I speak to be perfection. Maybe I got it wrong. Maybe I needed to apologize. 

So I went to look.