Shackling the Pen
Should someone be allowed to write characters of other races and nationalities? Though a timely question, to demand that people not write from the perspective of someone of another race, culture, gender, or religion is absurd for multiple reasons. At its core, it cuts the writer's creativity off at the knees. Suddenly, the human experience is religated to one perspective, making the world two dimensional and devoid of reality. It also denies the humble writer the opportunity to make important statements. In my opinion, some of the most important early statements ever written on racism were written by white people. Let me be clear, these authors did not presume to know all the nuances of the African American experience. What they did know was that what they were seeing was wrong and they used the African American characters in their works to call out the evil that is racism. As far as this pasty Irish boy is concerned, so long as the characters are written with the humanity they deserve, no difference should be off limits.
For my first argument I ask the reader to imagine trying to write a story about early twentieth century New York. However, you are not permitted to write about anyone except for those of your race and cultural background. Your work would not be able to convey New York at all. New york is a city of immigrants and this was especially true at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many of these immigrants lived in close proximity to those from different parts of the world which often led to a mixing of cultural nuances. Of course, the close proximity of different cultural groups could also lead to tensions and violence. Either way, without characters of differing cultural experience, you wouldn't be writing about New York, you'd be writing about a super-sized Mayberry U.S.A. In short, if the writer is denied the multi-cultural sights, smells, music, tensions and true character that is this great city of immigrants, they simply cannot convey the reality that is New York.
For my second argument I would remind the reader that some of the first, "Main Stream" works regarding racial injustice came from white authors. Mark Twain's, "The adventure's of Huckleberry Finn" and Harper Lee's, "To Kill a Mocking Bird" helped to bring the reality of racial injustice to white America and the world. Though I hated the way Huck Finn looked at the runaway slave, Jim at the beginning of Twain's novel, I could see the subtle change in the boy's opinion of his escaped slave companion as they traveled the Mississippi. Jim went from being a source of humor for Huck and a target for his jokes to being a valued friend whose quest for freedom became a righteous cause. Jim cared for Huck despite the cruel treatment he endured at the hands of the boy. Jim's nobility, compassion, and devotion to the cause of freeing his family from slavery taught Huck what it truly means to be human. I also remember reading Mockingbird and cheering on the noble lawyer, Atticus Finch's stand against the injustice his African American defendant faced when falsely accused of raping a white girl. Atticus knew he would likely lose, but he could not stand to see an innocent, good man railroaded simply because he was made a scapegoat for the true rapist, the girl's own father. Twain and Lee's works sparked curiousity and a sense of righteous indignation in the hearts of the reader. This curiousity led many to read the writings of Fredrick Douglas and W.E.B Dubois which gave African American writers and thinkers a greater voice. It also created a sense of empathy for those who were forced to endure racial injustice in the Jim Crowe south. Twain and Lee never claimed to fully understand the plight of African Americans, but they knew wrong when they saw it. This is what they wrote about and they portrayed the African American characters in their works with humanity and compassion wrapped in a cloth of harsh reality.
My opinion may not be popular, but there it is. No sector of humanity should be off limits to a writer. So long as the writer embraces their characters with a sense of empathy and respect they should be able to use characterizations of every race, culture, ethnicity, gender identity, or religion in existence.
It’s okay, you don’t have to love me. I can admire you from afar. I can sneak into your home, install hidden cameras, and watch you while you sleep from the comfort of my mom’s basement.
You don’t have to know I exist. I can go through your trash while you're at work in search of your toe nail clippings. I am sculpting a life size, anatomically correct replica of you from those sensual, rose scented toe clippings.
You don’t have to worry. I’m not dangerous. I take my Latuda, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Risperdal, and Geodon even when the voices aren’t telling me to cover myself in the left over food that you throw out. I am all about health, both physical and mental. Just ask anyone. The past objects of my affection only had to file one order of protection for me to get the hint. Only a wacko would need more than one restraining order to know it was time to move on.
Please don’t password protect your computer, phone, and Tinder account. I need to access your seductive digital footprint. I want to protect you from those who don’t love you enough to, try to change their blood type to match yours. In the event you ever need a transfusion I can be the donor. That way I can truly become one with you. A part of me will flow through your heart, send oxygen to your mommy parts, and make sure that your intestines can expel the waste from your perfect body.
It’s okay, you don’t have to love me. Just being close to you is enough. I’ve already moved my mattress to the crawl space directly beneath your bed. Snug under the floor, beneath your slumbering body, I’ll be able to hear you sigh and giggle in your sleep. On those nights that you have one too many glasses of wine and sleep the sleep of the intoxicated, I may even wipe the drool off your tipsy, dreaming face. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. It works as a wonderful adhesive for your toe nail sculpture.
The One: Romantic Bull Fritters
The romantic notion that there is , “The One” for everyone in search for love is probably the most selfish delusion there is. It promotes the falacy that I am so special that the universe must stop everything it has to do in order to create another human being that somehow meets my various emotional, psychological, and sexual needs.
Is there any wonder why divorce rates are so high? The notion of, "The One" has conditioned us to believe that there is a celestially constructed match for us who will allow us to live in bliss. If my partner or spouse for whatever reason suddenly doesn’t conform to my narcisistically conceived notion of "The One," then I should simply give up on them. If there is friction with my partner, if they crave emotional recipricity, if their view of the world doesn't conform to mine, then they simply aren't, "The One." With this arrogant thought in mind, I can quit my current relationship and resume my search for the custom-made person who will meet my every vapid need.
The notion of, "The One" allows us to believe that no matter what our flaws may be, there is someone out there who will love us because that is what they are designed to do. Bull shit! After thirteen years of marriage I can honestly say that my wife isn't, "The One" for me. I can also say that I am not, "The One" for her. Instead, we see the goodness in each other and choose to work towards making ourselves worthy of that goodness. Ultimately, I don't want to be seen as, "The One." I want to be seen as the man who works to be a better person for the woman who sees the good beneath the multiple layers of coruption.
Harry Potter Blows
J. K Rowling is a wanna-be Tolkien. Simply put, Rowling wouldn't know good fantasy if Sauron walked up and slapped her with it. Her premise is lame. A wizard school for prepubescent little whiners? Really? The early novels are like Saved by the Bell, but with wands. The later novels are like, Beverly Hills 90210 only instead of BMW's and Corvettes, the teens ride brooms. This garbage sold millions of copies? Rowling created a world where the hero is more likely to have a wet dream or whine about a pimple than he is to do something heroic. Would Harry be able to take the One Ring to the depths of Mount Doom? I doubt he could carry it to the depths of Sugar Plum Mountan.
Then there's the tired fantasy theme of the hero is somehow the, "chosen one." Rowling takes this worn idea out of the been-there-done-that box and then promptly beats it to death. This theme is the $10 hooker of fantasy. Only the despirate would embrace it.
As far as fantasy goes, Rowling's Harry Potter series is the Milli Vanilli to Tolkien's Led Zeppelin. Everyone likes it now, but eventually people will see it for the packaged garbage it is. When the realization sinks in, the Harry Potter fans will be rightfully embarrassed and deny ever liking it in the first place.
A Different Road
I work as a Service Coordinator for infants and toddlers with developmental delays within California’s Regional Center system. The types of delays we provide early intervention services for range from simply monitoring the development of preemies all the way up to providing support for children who will be bed ridden and on a ventilator for their entire lives. In my experience, of all the developmental delays we help with, autism is probably the most stigmatized. Many people see it as an end to human potential. We see it as taking a different journey through human experience.
I won’t lie, optimism isn’t always easy, especially when you are dealing with parents.The hardest part of providing early intervention autism services often happens before the interventions even start. You see, many parents bring their little ones to us due to concerns surrounding speech delays. While the parents or the pediatrician may just see that the child isn’t developing communication skills, the speech pathologists, infant development specialists, and service coordinators doing the initial needs assessments may see signs of autism in the kiddo. Based on these observations, it is our duty to relate our concerns to parents who are often expecting to hear that their child just needs speech therapy. Frankly, I would rather be punched in the gut while being simultaneously kicked in the groin than tell loving parents that their kiddo is showing some signs of autism. Unfortunately, that is exactly what my job and the job of the wonderful speech pathologists and infant development specialists doing the needs assessment entails. We get to bring up the, “A” word.
Thankfully, the early start autism intervention programs (ESAIP in Service Coordinatoreese) that work with these little ones do wonders in both addressing the identified delays and providing the family with strategies that will help their child overcome whatever their obstacles may be. A formal diagnosic assessment for autism is often provided (by a child psychologist) while the child is participating in these programs. Understandably, the formal autism assessment is terrifying for many parents, but we always try to reassure the parents that even if the child is found to have autism they are still their child. These wonderful children are just as capable of laughing, learning, having friends, and loving their mommys and daddys as any other kiddo.
I guess the big take away is that having autism is not the end of childhood and the promise of a, “normal life.” What having autism is, in short, is a path through childhood and life that looks a little different. I look at it as taking a more scenic and eclectic route to get to where everyone else is headed. The good news is that the more we learn about autism the better the interventions become. So, there is no reason to write a human being’s potential off based solely on a few words taken from the DSM V. Oh, and for fuck’s sake, vaccinate your kids! There is no legitimate, scientific evidence that links autism to vaccinations.
Valentine’s Day: Heart Shaped Prostitution
Poor St. Valentine. The guy is martyred by Emperor Claudius for helping early Christians marry and how do we commerate his sacrifice? Cheap cards, flowers that die, and chocolate all in the hopes of getting some! Like most "Christian" holidays it has become about money...or sex...or sex and money. Ask the average schmuck (I admit I had to Google its origins) what Valentine's Day is about and they'll tell you it's about spending copious amount of money in the hopes of getting laid. Um... That's not romantic, that's prostitution. It's money for nookie. The only difference is that a prostitute doesn't need Halmark or Hershey to act as pimp.
Healthy Children and Light Weight Revenge
You should vaccinate your kiddos for three reasons.
1. You have no right to risk the lives of other people's children because you believe the bull shit conspiracies and refuse to take off your tin foil hat.
2. It's small payback for everytime the little shits eat the last of the ice cream. No mint chip ice cream for me? Let's take you to the pediatrician so you can say hello to Mr. Syringe. Maybe next time you'll leave me some.
3. If you don't, you won't be able to enroll them in school and no one wants that!
A Farewell to Evil
You don’t know me. Not really, but my reputation should precede me. I go by many different names Beelzebub, Satan, Lucifer, the Devil, and my favorite, the Prince of Darkness. I’ve been the nemesis of good since before Adam popped Eve’s cherry, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time for me to retire. It’s hard for me to admit this, but the students have surpassed the master. The Prose web team has been kind enough to provide me with the stage to announce my swan song as the master of evil. Of course, the fact that I have more than enough dirt on the whole Prose staff to blackmail them until the next ice age was enough to get them to give me the whole site if I wanted it. I got to tell you, some of you literary types are into some kinky shit. I am ever so proud.
Anyway, when my career started, I had to work pretty hard to get human’s to let their dark sides out. It took all of my considerable charisma, talent, and cunning to set you meat bags onto the path of sin. You had a sickly sweet core of goodness and desire to love that I thought I might never subvert. But I’m a persistent bastard and I love a challenge. Oh, how I remember that first major win. When I finally convinced Cain to whack his pussy brother Abel it felt like eating a hot fudge sundae wrapped in an orgasm! I loved getting one over on my old man! Of course at the time I had no idea just how well you mortals would take to evil. Once you got a taste of badness, you took to it like a priest to an altar boy.
In the beginning, you listened to my guidance. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? Good times were had by all! With my tutelage, you mortals created a masterpiece of debauchery! Orgies, rape, idol worship, the occasional knife in the back, it was a beautiful thing to behold. We both reaped the rewards! Sorry I was late with the memo that messenger angels are prudes and it’s no Bueno trying to invite them to the party. Color me embarrassed. Oh, and I also want to apologize for the whole fireball destroying the cities thing.
But what eager students you were! With your enthusiasm and my consulting we raised great empires at the expense of the innocent. The Roman Empire was a blast! It was a true collaborative effort. Between giving that twisted fuck Caligula power and the whole feeding Christians to the lions thing, you made me so proud. It’s true when they say that teaching is the most rewarding job.
Alas, who knew that your God-given free will would make you want to branch out to become my competition and not simply my protégées’? I wanted to teach you that evil is an art and making art is as much about the process as it is about the end result. The best kind of evil takes a skilled hand and finesse. The seduction, the lies, the false promises are the tools of a true artist. The results should be built to last so that they may be savored! You? You meat bags take to evil like a psychopath takes a chainsaw to a litter of puppies! It’s all about making a mess and the adrenalin rush.
To prove my point, I suggested to Hitler that he should just evict the Jews from Europe and send them on another forty year journey into the wilderness. You know, make them miserable. Make them die of hunger, illness, and the elements. It would have been a slow and delicious end. Did he take my advice? No! The next thing I know, the little German gremlin is building concentration camps and tossing people into ovens like take and bake pizzas! Where is the artistry in that? Don’t get me wrong, it was effective, but it’s been done before. Genocide is at best, paint by numbers evil. All that little German did was follow the path paved by the Europeans that fucked over the Natives in the New World. He just used fast food methods that allowed him to kill millions in a matter of years instead of the slow more sultry results enjoyed by the Europeans. They used a palette full of disease, superior technology, and dishonesty to wipe out the original owners of the Western Hemisphere over a few centuries. Now that was a true masterpiece!
Of course, the whole world war thing with Hitler, Japan and fucking everyone else seemed like a good idea at the time. I didn’t realize that it would be my last great hora as the master of evil. I figured that it would remind mortals that I had more to offer. Usually, wars provide me with teachable moments for you mortals. You know, combine anger, politics, greed, and arrogance, let simmer, and enjoy. I figured that after the Blitzkrieg and the atomic bomb you would realize that smaller scale destruction would provide you with opportunities to destroy again in the future. It would inspire you to hone your craft. Oh how wrong I was! Instead, you built bigger, badder bombs with the ability to turn the world into a giant cinder. It was at this point that I realized that my advice was no longer wanted or needed. You have your own agenda and my ways just don’t give you the instant results you want. I tried to explain that if you want to enjoy the fruits of your evil harvest you can’t cause your own extinction, but my guidance is ignored.
So, this is farewell. I am going to take some time for me. It’s been a while since I picked up the old harp. I also promised the Whore of Babylon that I would show her where I put Atlantis. Nothing makes a woman wetter than showing her the kind of destruction your capable of. Oh, by the way, that article in Time Magazine that claimed that God is dead? It’s wrong. God isn’t dead. He’s just too embarrassed by you mortals to show his face much anymore.
Overpopulated Earth: Tie a Knot In It Already
The world is definitely over populated. The problem is that when it comes to procreation, we have a very dark ages view of things. There was a time when the, "Be fruitful and multiply" mandate that was central to many religious and cultural beliefs insured that humanity would not become extinct. Today, this mindset is antiquated and dangerous. If you need proof, just consider that there is currently over seven billion souls inhabiting this small spinning blue ball that is orbiting a modest star in an even more modest galaxy. Given the numbers, I'd argue that we have the whole procreation thing figured out and we can now figure out how to find a balance. However for the sake of argument, let's compare and contrast the historical period where fertility and survival were an absolute necessity to the circumstances that exist in the twenty-first century.
The early societies and faiths understood that life was tough. So tough, you were lucky to live to the ripe old age of, "Died during childbirth at the age of twenty-two trying to bring your sixth child into the world." The lack of medical knowledge and high infant/mother mortality rates meant that society had to fuck towards a surplus. It took a lot of people to farm the land which meant labor had to be both plentiful and cheap. There is no cheaper labor than Junior and his five siblings. Thus, having a lot of children meant that you would be able to bring in the crop. Conceiving the children also provided you with something to do during that ten minute break between eating your dinner gruel and going to bed so you could get up before dawn to till the earth and fertilize it with your own fecal matter. Given these circumstances, the church and government leadership needed to remind the peasantry that they needed to breed. A lot! So, policies that promoted constant procreation were created. As far as the church and aristocracy was concerned, "Every sperm was sacred." It was the sticky fuel that kept humanity at the top of the food chain.
Of course, the unending baby assembly line had another purpose. It provided surplus against those pesky diseases and wars that made life so interesting for the mideaval human. When the blood letting, demon exocisms, and holes drilled into skulls didn't cure the plagues and entire villages had to be burned to the ground to prevent the spread of disease, it was important that the latest generation was already germinating. The religious leaders and governments knew that it was all a numbers game. Babies had to be made in greater proportion to the peasants who kicked off from the latest plague. Thus is was a woman's duty to crank 'em out, wean 'em, and send them to work at constant rate. If you died, your husband would just marry your sister and continue production.
Of course, breeding was also the source of men used to fight the various wars started over such critical socio-political reasons as,"My bloodline is slightly less inbred than your bloodline" and "My God can beat up your God." If baby's weren't being made, how could Lord Douche Bag raise an army to take over the domain of Duke Ass Hat? More importantly, babies were needed in case some royal dick head wanted to start a war fifteen years from now. Being a political leader meant that you had to supply the soon to be corpses not only for the current war, but also for the next time you wanted to prove that your spear was bigger than your political rival's.
Thankfully, things are a little better in the twenty-first century. Farming corporations insure us that there is always enough genetically modified and steroid-enhanced foods to keep us fighting type-two diabetes into old age. We also have medical technology that has reduced infant/mother mortality to the point that mom's usually live long enough to become disappointed in their children. Kinder-gentler killing machines have allowed our leaders to surgically eliminate human beings from thousands of miles away with the push of the button, thus reducing the need to breed current and next generation cannon fodder. These circumstances, coupled with our penchant for wanting fuck each other on a regular basis has created a hyper human surplus. There are too many of us to continue thinking that we need to breed beyond the one to one ratio.
Thanks to modern technology, I think we can cozy up with the condom, treasure the tubal ligation, master masterbation, and venerate the vasectomy. We owe it to our planet.