It was hitting me on Saturday night as I sat at Dempsey’s attempting to learn sports by osmosis, my fleshy frame’s surface area exposed to discussion of basketball statistics, attempting to draw the knowledge in through my cell membranes, that my life has turned into something I didn’t really expect. I am becoming friends with professional fighters. I’m looking at getting a motorcycle. The thought of donuts makes me sick to my stomach (I will still totally eat them though, lets not get too crazy). I think about running two miles and I get a mild buzz of excitement and not dread. I have business cards, they even have my name on them. It’s a bunch of little strange things that confuse me, and of course that makes me think about where I have been. So a brief recap of the last year:
A year and a day ago, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Linguistics. My sister got married the day before. I was never as upset about it as the other people I knew. I started talking to my girlfriend about getting married. Eleven months ago I switched anxiety medications and everything seemed like it was going to be great. They were actually helping instead of making me feel worse, all of which came from the fact that I was still anxious after grad school ended. Ten months ago, my girlfriend left me in the middle of the night, my life started to fall apart. Nine months ago, I adopted my kitten. Shadow has been, well, my shadow ever since. Eight months ago, with no prospects of employment after getting a significant amount of debt and doing a lot of work to prove I could be an academic success, and reeling after being left by someone I thought I wanted to spend life with, I thought very hard about the benefits of no longer existing. Seven months ago, I got a part time job that paid a ridiculous amount for being a part time job, but still wasn’t quite enough to make ends meet on my own. But it was something. I turned 27 and I could get out and do things occasionally again. My dad retired, they named a building after him. Six months ago, I had a brief encounter with someone who had meant a lot to me before my girlfriend, and who still means a lot to me today. 5 months ago, I kind of screwed that up. Neither of us were in the right place to even be thinking about dating someone. This made Christmas kind of rough. Four months ago I got my camera. Instead of sulking I started to go out and practice shooting. I wanted to explore and get better. Three months ago, I made it 5km on the elliptical trainer for the first time ever in my life. I was starting to actually get in shape instead of just punishing myself at the gym for being a fuck up in his late 20s. Two months ago, I got my motorcycle license. I had gotten up to doing 5k three times a week on the trainer and could do 3k on foot without stopping. I knew I could go further, I don’t stop because I’m out of breath, but because I’m hell on my knees. Last month, I decided I wanted to get serious about becoming a fashion/alt photographer. I’m slowly collecting gear and kit to make that work. I actually did some work painting for the first time in a long while. I had forgotten how much I liked painting little mans, and how good I was at it. This month, I hardly believe its been a year.
The truth of the thing is that eight months ago, I may have really died. Whoever I was stopped existing, because he was defeated. All the work he did and all the plans he made fell apart and failed, and he had to let go and admit that none of that was solely his fault. It takes two to tango, and I admit I screwed up a fair number of times in that relationship, but you can’t control how someone else feels. She just wasn’t feeling it any more. I couldn’t have fixed it. The economy and politics have been severely mismanaged by a small group of greedy individuals, especially here in Kansas. I am not alone in the substantial amount of debt that I left school with, and am not alone in the fact that it will crush my ability to function in society for years to come. Things in this country have stagnated, and the work I do now, funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, is threatened further by short sighted budget cuts and anti-intellectual agendas. How many students out there are now highly trained scientists and problem solvers that can’t get hired because they lack job experience? How will we ever get job experience if no one is willing to train us or let us train ourselves? Every graduate student in America, unless they finished their degree by being a mindless sycophant, has demonstrated that for a minimum of two years that they are capable of learning and adapting to any situation under their own direction. They can identify and deconstruct problems and work through innovative solutions by doing research and through systematic inquiry and investigation.
And hell, even the mindless sycophants have proven that they are spineless and well documented yes-men, and there are people who want that, too.
There are plenty of people feeling guilty today because they are in their 20s and they had to move back home after school and society says that is a sign of personal failure. Well guess what, we are becoming a majority of people, we get to decide what society says, and I think we should be saying “No, fuck you, we never got a chance to buy cars and houses like you said we should. The problem isn’t us, it’s you. We haven’t failed you, you failed us. You told us the only way to get ahead in life is to go to school and get an education, and then hung us out to dry after you got our money. You sold us into slavery, and we refuse to go quietly.”
Point being, I hit an extreme low, and I think because of it I have started to think and feel significantly differently. I have become a person I did not expect to become. I’m an activist and an advocate, an artist and kind of a bad ass. If people want to call me a self important internet asshole, or cry “Social Justice Warrior!” let them. What people think about you is not important, but what you think about yourself. I’ll keep volunteering and donating, making calls to the FCC Chairman everyday until he fixes the net neutrality rules, and you can make your own decisions. You always have been able to, and that’s what I’ve wanted my readers to do all along.
I hope you stick around, though. We can get a lot more done together then we can alone.
Second of all, why is it even on television? Today, we are tossing a link to a Facebook group that can go over the goings on in more detail. Quick recap: There are a pair of gigantic assholes that have prominent places in Viacom’s cable television station Spike! TV. Pretty publicly in their television show, they are somewhat abusive and sexist. Apparently behind the scenes they are bordering on criminal and largely indecent.
In a surprise turn of events, Viacom, when asked by a female employee to mediate a dispute over sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, refused to intervene and then terminated the woman.
This is a good day for the doctor, because I get to stand on two different soap boxes. AT THE SAME TIME! I am beside myself. It’s like Christmas when I get a double feature; Viacom networks are part of the increasing crush on free speech and the war against net neutrality. So when they go ahead and open themselves up to some substantial legal trouble, I am pleased.
Forces at work here are two fold; we have in one hand two highly publicized misogynists perpetuating a culture that is violent towards women, which we have talked about as being equally destructive to the men that perpetuate it, and we have a telecoms giant attempting to supress someone that is protesting the sad state of their external message. It’s an often referenced adage from a book that a lot of people adhere to in their daily lives; “You shall be judged according to the least among you.” Normally, I get this tossed around a lot when struggling against wage inequality, but here, here we something a little more awful. Viacom is represented by the content they decide to broadcast, so they have received one black mark for condoning this sort of behavior on national television. Alright, so no one would ever consume any media if we boycotted every outlet that contained a misogynist or a homophobe or a racist. Modern society would collapse. What a company should do is terminate those people, or at a bare, bare minimum fine, demote, or otherwise censure the specific problem individuals. Remove the cancer from their organization. Instead, they have tipped their hand. They don’t find this offensive. The money is too good, the cancer is the product, and instead of correctly vilifying the offenders and their behavior, they suppress and punish someone with the courage to speak out against them.
This is something that we have to make clear is unacceptable. With the rampant conglomeration of media outlets, consumers and activists must send a very clear message now, not later, now that these behaviors will have repercussions for companies. Support the boycott, stop spending money with Paramount Pictures, stop watching Viacom television, and stop supporting their advertisers until they put pressure on Viacom to make this situation right.
You want to know which advertisers to pressure? Well have this:
Verizon, Skittles, HealthCare.gov (BECAUSE WHY THE FUCK NOT, LETS GET THE GOVERNMENT IN HERE TOO!), US Army, South Park, Red Cross, Subaru, Jim Beam, Paramount Pictures, Guinness, Allstate, and RelativityMedia.
I promised pictures from ComiCon. They will come, fear not. First, I have to talk about this madness first.
I want this to be the fiction that it sounds like. Apparently, one Susanne Atanus had decided to run for House of Representatives in Illinois. Great, good for her, even if I don’t agree with you, go you for getting out there and trying to be the change you want to see in the world. Oh wait. You’re insane.
Insane to the point that the rest of the GOP revoked their support of her. Apparently publicly stating that God is killing Americans for allowing gays to have rights is a step too far. Well have any rules for stopping her from saying that or running. Good thing we have this whacked two party system. For once, this is going to help out; when there is more than one interested person running, inside the party there will be a primary. That will weed out this crazy woman.
But then she went ahead and won that. I used to really like Chicago. Liberals and democrats are dancing on their desks this morning. They are convinced that they have this one in the bag, surely no one in the general will vote for this woman.
There is a more disturbing trend here, however. This woman, who is on record saying that Autism and Dementia as well as severe weather, are direct interventions by our loving God to punish us with indiscriminate slaughter and degeneration because some of us support that people should be allowed to spend their life with whoever makes them the happiest, has won a major election. She. Won. No one is recognizing the serious threat that that actually is to all of us. The majority of her constituents agree with her standpoint to have voted for her to oppose the incumbent liberal satanist. This woman, who has openly stated that the great depression and stock market crash in 1929 didn’t actually happen, is a symptom. Everyone is confident that she will loose to congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in the general election, as am I, but that is only treating a symptom.
Do you know what happens when a doctor only treats a symptom and not a cause?
Dead patients. Patients with low quality of life. Patients that don’t have hope of getting better, that know the next symptom will come along or the side effects of the treatment will make them worse.
This woman and this kind of thinking and the support that it has clearly gathered is the result of a disease. The treatment has been the progressive battle cry from time immemorial, and that is provide better education. An educated populous is a progressive and powerful populous. The more understanding of issues, disease, mental health, sexuality, the less we will have to deal with repercussions of people not understanding how these things happen. STD’s will drop, unplanned pregnancies will dwindle, prisons will cease being overpopulated, drug use will diminish, people will spend money and spur the economy. When we refuse to educate, we get this, we get the blind devotion and the refusal to take responsibility for things like climate change and for the care of people who are ill and for the fact that we can’t provide human rights to everyone.
This is some sick shit people. Everyone wants to laugh this off as an oddity or an outlier of some sort, that this perosn is a joke. Well here’s the punchline: This sort of thing is not going away and will continually get worse unless we do something about it.
I had a good weekend. I went to a show that had music I enjoyed. I had a lot of tasty beers and hung out with a lot of cool people. I made a new friend. Less good, I lost an hour of sleep.
And then I got to work and I read this press release from the University of Kansas.
I was a little stunned. This is the Culture of Silence at work. Over one million violent crimes have gone unreported and investigated. That’s approximately 0.3% of the entire population of America that has been the victim of a violent attack and violation of their person, and that number is likely small. Reading this article, it is likely that this is simply the number of failures to investigate and prosecute but otherwise reported to authorities. If that is the track record for law enforcement to investigations, how many people simply refused to acknowledge their own attacks? It suddenly doesn’t become difficult to imagine that percentage creeping upwards of 1%, 30 million people, that have been the victim of a sexual assault.
“Society has an obligation to stop rape and prosecute rapists. The current practices are incredibly far from that basic precept. What is worse is that the extent of rape in America has been covered up— rape victims have been denied basic dignity, so that some police could manipulate statistics to simply achieve artificially designated crime benchmarks,” Professor of Law Corey Yung states in his press release. He’s clearly right, but what has happened that this has so grossly become commonplace in our culture? The effectiveness of the system for recording these crimes is flawed. This data is used to make policy and budget decisions, which I know as a scientist, is a recipe for disaster. Ideally any sort of statistical reporting needs to be free from bias, and a diligent record of the actual, observable nature of things. The minute that money and ego come into play, here in this case continued law enforcement funding and re-election of our woefully under equipped and variably inept political representatives, their is an enormous pressure to doctor the observed measures of your data. In my field, this has a low cost. I would lose personal credibility, and any claims I could make would be questionably valid unless someone could repeat my results. Only me and my pride suffer. But this? This is a situation where police and politicians are playing fast and loose with human lives.
In another post, I talked briefly about a case where a girl ended up committing suicide because of a lack of response to her claims of rape, and the general backlash of victim blame that she got from a police department that didn’t care or found the behaviour of the accused acceptable. This was a preventable death. I don’t find it reasonable to place blame on others for suicides in most situations, but would that girl be dead if someone had simply done the job that they were hired and expected to do? Rather than do their job, they wanted the problem to go away, to make the community appear safe by covering up an ugly problem.
This is not even a woman’s problem. Sure, the most frequent victims of sexual assault and abuse are women, and are by far at greater risk. Now think for a moment. If a woman is afraid to report that she has been a victim for fear of the report being dismissed or that she’ll get victim shamed, how likely is a man to report that he has been the victim of a sexual assault? How likely would it be that he gets laughed out of the police department? You are supposed to be tougher than that, how did you let yourself get raped? Suddenly 1% seems small.
We need to focus less on the failed war on drugs and other high profile initiatives, because we have falsely reported a decline in a violent crime that is festering in the soul of our culture. Instead of supporting and helping victims we blame them or disregard them. We covered it up. We are all complicit in this when we claimed we lived in safe communities, that we were turning the tide on crime. Worse, we hid a real cost in human lives to protect those claims, those delusions of a healthy, strong nation.
This, this here. This is the sickness and the silence that has taken root.