Guest contributors run the gamut, but they all pretty much rock.
Guest Contributor Bryan O’Nolan
Human civilization has done pretty well arranging the holidays and civic observances in its various calendars. In America, we get it right, for the most part. We have, however, a glaring error that ought to be fixed. Now, I’m no Euro-fetishist — “Fahrenheit, Feet and Ounces” is my “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight” — but in remembering the war dead Europe gets it right. The United States needs to reform her calendar so that Veterans Day — celebrating the living — is the last Monday in May, and Memorial Day — honoring the dead — is observed on the 11th of November.
We have an incredible opportunity before us, an opportunity to right this calendrical error. November 11th, 2018 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended World War I, the day which gave birth to our Veterans Day. What better time than this to realign our public calendar to the reality and mood of the seasons?
For thousands of years, man has plotted his seasons and days by stars and floods and has attached special, reverential meaning to the variations he has observed. Nearly five thousand years ago, the Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland was digged and carved by earnest hands so that the rise of the Winter Solstice, when the day begins to grow long, would shine through a carefully aligned and hewn roof box and then down the stone and earthen passage to fall, bright and distinct, upon the tomb or altar carved, shaped and reverenced by its makers. Man has made, at great cost, calendars of stone and wood the world round in order to know and tell the movement of the seasons. The ancient Egyptians designed their lives, calendar and holy festivals around the seasons of Inundation, Growth and Harvest.
Christmas is similarly well timed, the Light returning to a world in darkness. I consider it no coincidence that Hanukkah falls similarly in the year.
Easter, the season of rebirth, is in the spring, as is the Jewish Passover. Spring is the season of emergence, the deliverance from winter into the promise of summer and harvest.
Eight of the ten federal holidays are similarly well-arranged. They are of two types, though there are certainly more of the latter: Seasonally Appropriate holidays, and holidays of Specific Remembrance. Thanksgiving, at harvest time, is of both types. Columbus day is timed with the anniversary of Columbus’ arrival to the New World on October 12th. Presidents’ Day — when we honor the profane god-kings whom we suffer to monarchize, traveling with their small, empowered personal paramilitary force from the White House to Camp David, to the Southern Palace at Mar-a-Lago, to the Island Palace at Martha’s Vineyard, etc. — is of the latter kind, nestled between the birthdays of Lincoln and Washington, technically celebrating the latter. Independence Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, are similarly date-dependent. The last of the eight is an outlier; Labor Day is placed, seemingly, where a decent end-of-summer three day weekend ought to settle and laudably celebrates organized labor on a day other than May Day, when communists and other labor-fetishists celebrate the working man.
The remaining two are complicated. What we call Veterans Day today was declared by President Wilson — or, perhaps, his wife, given his incapacity — in November of 1919 to be observed on the 11th of that month, being the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles which ended the first World War. It was then called Armistice Day, by which name it was still by habit yclept by my grandfather to his dying day. After the Second World War, the holiday was translated to Veterans Day: from a day celebrating the end of the Great War to a day celebrating those who fought in all wars. To this day it is thus.
The distinction, it should be said, is instructive. Armistice Day was an annual day of giving thanks to those who had died in a specific war. There are the so-called “thankful villages” in England, each notable for its rarity, who sent men to war in World War I and returned every one of them home safely. Our Memorial Day is, similarly, for those men who made it home.
It would be well to note, here, that in Europe the November holiday is analogous to ours of May. This is owing, in part, to the fact that European nations suffered exponentially more than we did from the First World War and bear the after-effects to this day. The Great War was a violent rift political, social, geographical and religious; an aching, festering wound not since closed.
Memorial Day has its origins in the Civil War years as Decoration Day, initially celebrated in the South to decorate the graves of the fallen. As the holiday was appropriated by the North during and after the war, the day came to be called Confederate Memorial Day in the South. In the North, a day in late May was chosen as in that season the flowers used for grave decoration were most likely to be in bloom. Practice tended towards calling the day Memorial Day through the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries until the day was formally nationally declared in the 60’s and anchored to its present date of observance in the 70’s. This, on its own, makes sense.
Where this all goes wonky is when one tries to square the timing of the holidays — one based on flower bloomage and another on a firm date — with the oft-confused modern understanding of the days themselves and the practice of observing them.
I love and will defend tradition as reflexively as anyone, but does it make any damn sense to be having a cookout, downing brewskies in the sun and setting off fireworks in recognition of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country? No; the bright promise of summer ought to be spent with those who were willing to make summer of winter’s violence and lived. Historically, winter was a time of scarcity, when survival was far from guaranteed. Spring, summer and plenty were the fulfillment of the cycle of death and rebirth. We should be celebrating survivors, then, in the sunlight and promise of summer, not in the gloom of autumn.
Does it make any sense to celebrate the living in the creeping chill, under ashen, laden November skies? Or ought we honor the fallen in the darkening gloom, honoring their sacrifice, when the season is low and congenial to sadness and loss? In autumn the year is growing cold, the leaves fall and the trees are barren and even a relatively nice day carries, at least here in the Northeast, the far-off nose of winter.
I will not ever say that reason should always reign supreme, however common good sense at the very least ought to obtain when it comes to celebrating and remembering those who fought and those who gave all for our country.
The living deserve high-fives, cold brewskies, grilled meats, newly-open swimming pools, sunshine and fireworks in the sun.
The honored dead should have our undying gratitude in the dying of the year.
Wouldn’t it be just and right and honorable for our country to recognize this in 2018, the hundredth anniversary of the end of a cataclysm which so scarred, so deeply wounded the Western world that it has scarcely recovered?
In Britain, poppies are worn in remembrance of that day. We should wear them as well in November, and in May celebrate the living.
Guest Contributor Cal
If the Weinstein sex abuse allegations have proven one thing, it is that projection of guilt is rampant among the American left. Not only among the Hollywood elite but journalists and left-wing politicians. That is not to suggest that the right does not project guilt. I am looking at you Tim Murphy, you piece of garbage.
However, Americans should have seen the warning signs of the left’s indifference to sexual harassment and abuse. For nearly a century, Hollywood has used sex as a tool of power and access. During the Academy Awards, a standing ovation was given to convicted yet unpunished rapist Roman Polanski. Furthermore, the left continues to hail serial predator President Bill Clinton as one its most popular presidents.
This month has been a huge unveiling of left-wing hypocrisy, many of whom chided Fox News for Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. Hollywood, Vice, Vox, and even the California’s State Capital have not been spared from what appears to be a pervasive culture of rapey “feminists.” However, I am not optimistic things will permanently change for the better.
The left continues to claim they are the champion of women’s rights. Some have claimed Republicans are to blame for Harvey Weinstein. Journalists and editors have been fired from news outlets due to their behavior, but nothing has been announced on how to prevent future sexual harassment.
Even the opinion article which shined a light on the abuses in California’s Capital does not name names. Its signatories claim they want to change the system, yet do nothing to root out known abusers. One signator claims there is a sitting state legislator who assaulted her but she does not want to name that vile individual. That is how Weinstein was outed for his abuses, people talked, yet no one seems to follow that brave example. My cynical side believes they will not name abusers for fear of hurting the Democrat brand and fear of never working in the lucrative world of California politics.
California’s Legislature is like Hollywood. They claim they want to do something, but refuse to give details, and later they will take a victory lap. Wash, rinse, repeat. There will probably be a temporary spike and then sudden drop in sexual harassment and assault claims. Mostly due to the fact predators will go into hiding until public interest has fallen.
By 2018, Hollywood elites will pat themselves on the back for ridding themselves of Harvey Weinstein and rooting out this monster. California Legislators will congratulate themselves on updating policies and laws to stop abuse, but both institutions will still be rotten.
Until the next Weinstein-esque controversy, the left will continue to project and claim that it is the right who are the oppressors and abusers of women because we dare oppose the killing of the unborn. They will continue to claim people like Vice President Mike Pence are dangerous men who promote “rape culture” and “toxic masculinity,” because he refuses to meet women alone. All the while ignoring their own or even suffering in silence for fear of losing their jobs.
Guest Contributor Jeff
It is a day every year that I take time to honor my twins with a lighting of a candle at 7 p.m. I remember them always in my head, but for this day, I light two candles for my remembrance of my boys and a candle for all others who have lost.
As a father, a first-time father at that, the loss was hard and compacted nearly daily after the fact as well. Everyone knew we were expecting a child; most knew it was twins. When we would encounter friends or family, the condolences were given freely, mostly to the twin’s mother. One out of every ten encounters would give me a pat on the shoulder, a hug, or a simple “I’m sorry.” All those times were great, but not the same. I thought maybe it was my circle, but quickly found out it was happening to other fathers as well.
As a result, we clam up, we become numb to things, and we just grow to accept that we are only there physically. To this end, when I finally was able to open up about the experience, I began sharing this freely, especially every year on their birth (and death) day. Sometimes that male gene or brain causes us not to be as open as we should, so seeing others open up about it can help, because there are a lot of us out there that could use some attention and comfort (even if we are highly reluctant to ask for it). The number in this awful club grows every year.
A staggering number of pregnancy and infant loss occurs each year. Approximately 24,000 pregnancies result in stillbirth, about the same amount die within the first year, and about 2,000 pass away due to SIDS. (1)
The loss of life is never an easy thing, especially with ones so small, so beautiful, and so helpless. It haunts your dreams, your thoughts, and impacts you in ways that you will never fully understand. My twins died nearly 11 years ago, it still hurts and affects me, even with prior knowledge that their birth at 25 weeks with them having TTTS (2), that one, though likely both, would die. You are not prepared for it when it happens.
But stepping outside of my circle of pain, I am reminded of the pain that those around us felt as well. The NICU doctors, nurses, and staff become all too familiar with loss. Then there are the friends and family members that have to deal with the hole their friend, brother, sister, mother or father now are experiencing. Many within that circle find it difficult to express ‘proper’ feelings toward the parents. (The use of ‘proper’ here is a word of convenience.)
There are groups out there that attempt to help with those who have suffered loss, with most doing great work in assisting individuals with coping and finding ways to keep to going. Not every location has resources for face-to-face therapy, so sometimes turning to online communities can help.
It is a subject that we all have troubles approaching with ease and comfort, which I am thankful for, as it is not a frequent event as it once was. So tonight, if you know someone that has lost a child, whether during pregnancy or as an infant, give them a quick message of support, light a candle for them and others at 7 p.m., and hug your child a little extra hard tonight.
1. CDC Stats via https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/stillbirth/facts.html
2. TTTS: Twin-to-Twin Syndrome (For more information go to https://www.tttsfoundation.org)
It seems all anyone can talk about lately is Harvey Weinstein. Social media has been positively glutted with coverage of the fallen movie titan! This is for numerous reasons. One is that he possessed such an entrenched position that he seemed untouchable. (Ahem.) Another is that he is a figurehead of Hollywood, that social stratum that loves to tell us how to conduct our own lives. To see that industry revealed as being far more guilty of its own accusations leads to this coverage.
One of the many pathetic explanations made for his decades of satyriasis is that this is emblematic of one of our society’s supposed problems – “toxic masculinity.” Feminists and media have hurled this charge like birdseed at a wedding, and the laughable aspect is their entreaties come off like those of the anti-gun lobby; the louder they rage the more evident it becomes they do not know their subject. A feminist hectoring men on how they need to conduct themselves holds all the import of an atheist lecturing on the nuance of the Gospels.
As a testosterone-infected male, allow me to say: Harvey Weinstein is hardly the paragon of masculinity. He’s as masculine as a plush panda toy with a vulgarity-laden voice box. He represents my gender no more than a jodhpur-adorned shepherd in the Alps, a guano farmer in French Polynesia, or a hipster in a drum circle at Burning Man. They are male all, but none is the figurehead of masculinity. Telling me Weinstein represents me in any fashion is to expose your ignorance of manhood like Harvey did with his expansive genital-shielding belly.
My favorite reaction to the decades-long sex scandal was the call for men to stand up and halt these aggressive actions on behalf of women. Oh really?!?! Funny, since feminists and the media have spent the past generation attempting to tamp down this very behavior. Men who cherish and protect women have been cast in the role of the enemy. Holding a door open for a lady has been called demeaning. Any chivalrous or traditional act is regarded as casting the female in a subservient role. Treat women as equals, and don’t pay them preferential attention, has been the lesson plan.
It has been a lesson I have long ignored. Showing a lady deferential treatment is not an aggressive social statement. Holding open doors, carrying their parcels, and aiding in ways that are helpful or polite is not the result of a sexual caste system. It is the pinnacle of positive human interaction. I gladly take items from the top shelf, and I still buy drinks for unknown women with whom I have no intention of speaking further. It is the fertilizer that nourishes humanity. I revere women, and if my actions generate an aggressive response that is more on the recipient than on me.
What the feminists and reactionaries this week calling for my intervention fail to understand; I already do look out for the ladies’ well being. That poisonous tendency I have to treat females with elevated respect means I will also step in when they are treated lowly. I have known a number of abuse victims, and I react viscerally each time. I have had altercations as a result of seeing mistreatment in my periphery. Even this week, while messaging a friend, she revealed enduring bouts of similar abuse, and I found I was practically typing with a fist.
Yet here are the intersectionalists, who have spent time demonizing my charitable acts, now commanding that I change course and take action.
PRE-WEINSTEIN: Don’t you dare treat women like damsels!
POST-WEINSTEIN: When are men going to come to the rescue?!
This would all be so very confusing, were men the type to listen to the lectures in the first place. There is a stark reality in this interaction of the sexes involving feminists. They view males as a toxic entity and thus feel the need to dictate changes and policy upon our lives, and yet if I followed every one of their dictums and commands, in the end, I’d become a neutered hamster. And they would STILL resent me, just based on my plumbing alone.
This is where the feminist agenda becomes worthy of a laugh-track. They hate men so much that they want nothing to do with us and thus have no clue what makes us operate. The result? They attribute Weinstein with alpha-male qualities. His Hitchcockian silhouette, the ever-present hapless 3-day partial beard, and his diesel engine-with-a-thrown-rod demeanor all represent a person who has largely given up on himself. His only saving grace was his professional power base, and he cloaked himself in it entirely (save for when he opened it for French Actresses in Cannes).
Weinstein is that guy in the cigar bar who relies solely on his career and net worth to exude masculinity. Too larded to actually engage in activities, when he sees other men doing things he starts braying about how he could buy all their objects in cash if he desired. Look at how Harvey acted when he was ultimately caught. He blamed his actions on his upbringing in the 60s, and on the nature of his industry. Then he kited off to Europe to evade the law and seek treatment, blaming “sex addiction.”
Utter horseshit. I have a bourbon addiction; that doesn’t mean I force myself into other people’s liquor cabinets and guzzle their Knob Creek against their will. The deflections and excuses are the acts of an impotent character. A real man would fess up, would face his accountability, and take action to repair the damage he caused, and then handle his own business.
Weinstein has acted like a privileged lout, and once exposed, he scurried with his tail tucked. Nothing about this lecher has approached manliness. To hold him up as an example while blaming my gender is an abject contradiction. It is also yet another reason not to listen to those making the accusation.
Guest Contributor @ProperOpinion
A few nights ago I drove out to a dark parking lot to help my nephew with a car he couldn’t start. Now, I’m a jerk, so I mainly enjoyed laughing at his understanding of how an engine works. Imagine a Rube Goldberg device powered by Flintstone animals. Fine, I’m a jerk, but I’m not a dumb jerk, so I realized between laughs that this kid knows nothing because he was never taught anything. I don’t know everything, but I know that first 20 percent that covers 80 percent of the issues. The Pareto Principle of engine repair. So, I started with the battery…
This episode came to mind just now while reading more about the Weinsteins of the world. How does this happen? And it made me think of a talk I should maybe have with my nephew about helping protect the women in his life. It’ll go something like this:
See them to the door
Let’s start with the easiest of easy. There are places criminals like to strike because it’s convenient. These are called doors. It only takes a second to follow a woman through her door and then she’s alone and off the street. It used to be a rule that you’d take a date or a female friend to her door or at least wait on the street until she’s safely inside until you left for the evening. It should become a rule again.
This doesn’t just apply to houses or apartment buildings. It also goes for parking lots and garages. If you see a woman going to her car take a second or two and see if there are any sketchy creepers lurking around. Doing so takes a second. Not doing so should keep you up a few minutes that night.
Leave no woman behind
You know what’s annoying? When our friends get tipsy and won’t stop talking to some rando at the bar or party. You know what you can’t do? You can’t leave them. You wait and sit through a couple minutes of too loud conversation about God knows what and you ask how they’re getting home. And you don’t leave until you know. Now, we’re all adults, and we all know that sometimes they’re going to go home together. So you do the psychopath once over and if the guy passes that, you introduce yourself and you find out their name and talk enough so there is little doubt in their mind that you know who they are and that they are leaving together. Guess what? Sometimes that girl might even get annoyed with this. Who cares. Worry about that tomorrow if they still remember.
Deal with not knowing what to say; it’s a man’s curse, so get used to it.
Okay, young man, this one is harder. You’re going to have a female friend come home from a date or an evening out one night and she’s going to be crying. Yes, a crying woman. The tears are terrifying but it’s mainly because you’re afraid you will have no idea what to say. The bad news is that you might never know what to say. The other bad news is this is no excuse, so suck it up. Sometimes you’re going to hear some extremely disgusting things that will make you so enraged you feel like you’re going to burst because your adrenalin has nowhere to go. Such is life. You still have to do it. No one said being a man is easy, and it’s seldom because of all the bears we’re fighting. Be there for them and be ready to do something if necessary.
Don’t think sometimes
This isn’t legal advice but that’s okay because I’m not a lawyer. Sometimes you’re going to see things that simply require action. Maybe it’s hearing what that crying friend just told you. Maybe it’s a woman being jerked hard on the arm on the street. We live in an age when you’re told a lot of things about what a man should and shouldn’t do. In these instances, a good rule is: don’t think. If you feel like you need to take action to protect someone, then do it and worry about the consequences later. Maybe you’re afraid of things getting physical because you’ve never been in a fight. Well, for one, you’re already winning even if you’re losing teeth because you’re the one getting beat in that scenario and not the woman. For another, even the most one-sided fights aren’t that bad at all when you consider the alternative, which is thinking about what you didn’t do from that moment forward. Scars are much easier to look at in the mirror.
And… that’s it. That’s the bare minimum of what to know and do.
Regular Contributor Raymond
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that reduces penalties and sentencing for those who are HIV Positive and knowingly engage in activities that put others at risk of infection. Those include engaging in sexual activity with someone and donating at local blood banks.
There is fear and disdain from those who vehemently oppose this rollback who believe this could cause another nationwide HIV epidemic. There’s excitement from those who are in favor of this law, who believe this effectively ends the stigmatizing of those with HIV/AIDS and those who are at high risk of being infected.
I’m in that high-risk category. I don’t donate blood or organs. I am regularly tested. I take Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the prevention of HIV. And I had to overcome a lot of my own prejudices, ignorances, and even hypocrisy to ask my doctor about PrEP. I will be the first to admit I still have a lot to learn about HIV/AIDS and how the blood and organ donation process works.
But based on what I do know, a rollback on some situations that are deemed HIV criminalization should not be an issue. There are thousands who are HIV Positive and still have absolutely no idea they have become infected. They are either asymptomatic once they are infected or they pass off symptoms of new HIV infection as a cold/flu, lethargy, or something that (to them) seems more plausible. Because, as we’ve heard so many times, “It could never happen to me.” Decriminalizing HIV crimes in these cases protects those who are not deemed a threat to the medical community and keeps from punishing those who are ignorant of their status.
Also, most everyone these days are thoroughly tested once they walk through the door of any medical clinic or emergency room, blood donation banks thoroughly test blood before using it for transfusions. Most state/local governments have a database collected of those folks who are diagnosed with any sexually transmitted disease or chronic bloodborne illness (HIV/Hep C). And while there is a window between someone being HIV negative and HIV positive where the antibodies may not show up in the most sophisticated of testing for weeks or months, checks and balances still exist and should continue to exist. But, as previously mentioned, donations are also taken from the “It could never happen to me” population, that may or may not be at high risk, have never had an HIV test, and may also be in that newly infected category too.
For what it is worth, I don’t have an issue with not being able to donate my blood or organs. Half of it is due to needle phobia and the other half has to do with the fact that if taking myself (and others who are HIV-, healthy, on PrEP, but still engage in what is deemed high-risk behavior) out of the bank means peace of mind for others and for the medical community, then I’m perfectly okay with that. The medical community’s standards will never have a bearing on my personhood. And there are millions of other virile, healthy Americans out there that can and should donate. Let’s just hope they’re all telling the truth about their sexual activities, needled drug usage, and are aware of their status.
I previously mentioned that there are some cases of HIV criminalization where either the accused did not know they had HIV or or had low risk/no risk activities, that were grounds under the law for criminalization. But I am not completely sure the answer is to completely decriminalize HIV transmission.
The normalization of stealthing (the act of removing a condom and or ejaculation without a partner’s consent) is a valid concern for many of those who are sexually active and for those in the health community who have to deal with new cases of HIV transmission, pregnancy, and other STDs as a result. There is legitimate concern to be had, particularly when there are many groups who use HIV transmission as a weapon or as a rite of passage to unsuspecting individuals. There is a known subculture of individuals (known as bugchasers) whosearousal for sexual activity partly stems from passing HIV along to others, even those who are completely trusting and have not been disclosed the person’s positive status.
All of that being said, Governor Brown, who signed decriminalizing HIV transmissions into law, is the same one who signed a mandatory vaccinations bill to protect the health and safety of all individuals. I find it to be a contradiction that Governor Brown and other California lawmakers believe that mandatory vaccinations are important to the medical community, yet also believe the mandatory disclosure of one’s health status to his/her sexual partner or at a blood bank is not at all a concern for the medical community
At the end of the day, I do believe that we, as responsible, mature adults, should be in charge of our own health and know our own risks before engaging in any sexual or drug-related activities. It’s one of the many reasons I use PrEP as a tool in my personal health and safety. Sexual activity with random strangers, introducing vetted (and unvetted) different partners into your monogamous relationships, condomless sex, and sharing needles are all things our parents, the medical community, and our consciences have warned us about since we realized what our erections were capable of. And I honestly don’t think the government has any business regulating our decisions or protecting us from our own actions, regardless of how foolish and stupid those decisions appear to be. My position isn’t an attempt to normalize HIV; the fact is that it already exists among the people in our normal lives from those who are vocal about their status, those who live in silence with or without treatment, and in those who have no idea.
By attempting to shield its undetectable HIV population and those who live in fear of being tested, liberal California lawmakers hearts are somewhat in the right place. The science for those who are on a daily drug regimen and are untransmittable is there and they should not be jailed or deemed as a threat. But what some fail to grasp is that the complete decriminalization of HIV transmission (speaking specifically of those who are involved in a subculture of stealthing and bugging unconsenting conquests) sets the stage for an epic Us vs. Them culture war that will do way more damage to the HIV/AIDS community, those at high risk, and allies than any defunding of drug regimens/research, Michael Weinstein slut-shaming or Pat Robertson quotes from his 700 Club chair.
Guest Contributor @LLMajer
In the wake of Betsy DeVos’s Title IX announcement, social media looked something like Houston after Hurricane Harvey. Destruction and debris clogged the channels of Twitter as both sides of the debate spewed their arguments with gale-force emotions:
“Due process for the accused!”
As someone who spent the last two years looking into the sexual assault cases at Baylor University, I understand the frustration. Reading the allegations of how a university failed its students who allege they were assaulted resulted in a breakdown of my own emotions. Namely, I found the lack of support for victims astounding. The school, and others in Title IX investigations, remained as inefficient in providing assistance for victims as they were twenty-five years ago, when I was sexually assaulted as a coed.
Back in the day, I did not know I had any rights. I attended a school committed to Old South principles, meaning terrible things never happened to nice girls and you do not talk about said events if they do. But, they don’t, because nice girls don’t get in those messes. Consequently, when the word got out that my attack was “my fault” and my attacker’s fraternity brothers called me a “whore” as I walked to class, I did what a Southern girl with a tarnished tiara was supposed to do: I transferred and never mentioned it again.
It’s safe to say my compassion, and my passion, lies with victims, whom I call survivors. I feel their need to be heard, and to be believed.
That’s not where the story ends for me, though. Today, I have children. Sons, to be exact. Watching the ESPN 30for30 special, Fantastic Lies, featuring the Duke Lacrosse case, terrified the mom in me. I found myself tearing up for the mothers of the men who were falsely accused of rape.
So, whose side am I on, anyway?
The victims…and the accused.
I know police departments and universities fail the victims. Clearly, Title IX needs some work. However, in the interest of fairness for all, due process for the accused is imperative. Allowing schools to adjudicate cases moves the schools into a place they do not belong, and convict falsely accused men. Title IX then serves as a weapon for women with nefarious intent. For those survivors who have real claims of assault, these false accusations make your fight even tougher. Your real claim is seen with skepticism as someone seeking a payout when false claims lead to false convictions. You do not deserve that treatment. You have suffered enough.
I know the pain from sexual assault. I do not want your pain diminished because an environment is created where all survivors are seen as opportunists. Your pain is real. People will believe you. Please let this system be reworked so that the nightmare scenarios you faced do not happen for other survivors. Let’s make sure your attacker is given the basic civil rights accorded to any citizen in our nation. That will make his conviction that much more satisfying when it happens, because the facts of your case will not lie.
Our culture has come to believe teenage sexuality is the norm. We assume teens are essentially adults capable of the same reasoning and decision making we, as mature adults, take for granted. Liberal child psychology has long insisted upon sexual autonomy for teenagers, often insisting anything less is harmful to the healthy development of a young person’s sense of self. We are simply expected to accept that teenagers will have sex regardless of their parent’s intervention or wishes .
But there is a consequence the liberal world has never recognized. This consequence is especially tangible in gay males. I could go into statistics, studies, issues with drugs use, homelessness, sex work etc. But for this discussion I feel the most relevant perspective is my own experience. I have discussed my experience in early sexuality on many occasions, but this in particular is for the parents who may not fully realize what their child is going through.
As you may know, I began engaging in sex with adults when I was 14. An unexpected encounter at a college library where I, alone, found myself being molested by a much older man initiated me into this world. I would return to that same library basement several times a week, driven by my father and often dropped off on my own, seeking something more than just the thrill of the encounter. Every man I engaged with told me how handsome, beautiful, sexy and special I was. Each touched me in a way that, for a moment, made me feel validated and even cared for. And each man left me alone once the encounter was over without a thought to the impact they had.
My craving for this validation pushed me into situations I cannot even imagine risking today as an adult. Riding my bike at midnight across a river, down to a dark and secluded riverfront area to get into a car with a stranger I had spoken to online just an hour before. Spending hours in a dark, dingy stall waiting and holding my breath every time the door opened. Walking down a highway at 2 a.m. to fulfill the fantasy of a man who wanted to pick up a hitchhiker. All in a futile attempt to find that sense of meaning and to believe I was worth something.
I had never felt the way I did in the first moments of a kiss or a touch and in my obsession with my own identity and my difference from my peers, that validation meant everything. But it was always fleeting; always just pretend. It is a curiosity in the gay world how two men who have never met before can become instantly and passionately intimate in body and soul and then walk away without thinking of the other again. But as a teenager I interpreted it as love.
My father had his suspicions when I was 15, after he discovered I looked up gay porn on his work computer. But he could never really talk to me about it. In my mind, I was an adult in a world that rejected me and I was trapped in my teenage years just waiting for an opportunity to escape. I held a several month-long relationship with a man in California with whom I fully intended to run away with the second I turned 18. He turned out to be an older man who lied about everything he told me he was. I nearly convinced my father to let me travel 3 hours away to Columbus, Ohio for my 16th birthday to visit a 45 year old man I had been chatting with for only a few days.
But it was the time in-between that tells the real story. When I was with these men I felt desired, important, confident and mature. When I got up to go to school the next day I felt ashamed, afraid and paranoid that everyone would somehow know. Sitting in class with my peers I felt out of place, not just because I was gay but also because I felt my experience was so drastically different from theirs. Overhearing the other boys brag about making out with their girlfriends seemed incredibly odd when I had, just the night before, been sitting in a parking lot with a complete stranger having sex.
I was deeply depressed and anxious. As a freshmen I had been a top performer. I barely graduated 87 out of 89 in my class. I could never develop friendships because I felt I had to hide myself and my secret life so completely. When I tried to go to church I would sit alone in a pew and nearly shake with the anxiety and paranoia of judgement all around me. I could tell absolutely no one. And yet every few nights I would find myself craving the attention and the validation of a man again and each time I believed I was on the brink of discovering my one true love. I truly believed if I were just good enough at sex, one of them would eventually love me back.
The constant ebb and flow of extremely intense contact, thrill, danger and euphoria and then loneliness, depression and isolation was emotionally exhausting. At age 15 and again at age 17 I attempted suicide. On more than one occasion I spontaneously burst into sobbing fits I could not control in the middle of class. I was deeply obsessed with the darkness of the goth trend for a year and then reverted to a childlike state the following year with a Rugrats bookbag and a pop-music persona. I dyed my hair a different color every week, sometime multiple times in a night. I was desperate to perfect the right persona.
My erratic behavior and genuinely bipolar emotional extremes made me the school freak and when I finally came out at 16, my entire Junior year became nothing but that singular experience. Ironically at the same time I was taking care of my grandfather, whom I lived with, and maintaining a house, dinner, cleaning and managing the bills. I was an adult trapped in the emotional and irrational mind of a teenager, but living with the responsibilities of someone much older.
After high school, I found myself reverting to an adolescent, unable and uninterested in holding a job, living with my father and doing absolutely everything impulsively. I am genuinely grateful my friends were not into the bar or drug scene because I would have been absolutely lost to it had I been exposed. My obsession with finding that secret combination of passion, validation and love escalated during that time and ages 18 to 21 were essentially lost to me. All I did during those years was indulge every desire I found myself wishing.
I started college at 21, older than most and only with extreme prompting from my grandmother. I struggled through it as I was essentially living my teenage years by that point emotionally. And emotional is the best way to describe the person I was then. From 21 to about 25 I existed in a near constant state of emotional crisis with legitimate things like the loss of my father to suicide and the growing sense of emptiness I found in sex with strangers. But I also found I seemed incapable of building relationships.
I never learned how to date or hold a relationship. I only knew how to have sex. To this day I deeply struggle with the ability to emotionally connect to other people.
We seem to live in a binary world of the Right lecturing on the dangers of moral decay and the Left mocking the backward thinking of it all and celebrating revolution after revolution of social identity. But the truth is somewhere in-between. In my case it is the realization that I lost vital years of social development and the sheer weight and stress of adult decision-making nearly pushed me over the edge. But this isn’t a morality tale. This is not a lecture on gay culture or oversexualized media. This is simply a look at one man’s experience being a teenager unable to handle the responsibilities of an adult.
Unfortunately, the LGBT world would rationalize this by arguing if I had only been accepted and affirmed I wouldn’t have needed to sneak around. They would say that my sense of shame and anxiety was due to homophobia and intolerance. They would demand my experience is due to the lack of LGBT resources and accommodation. But the truth is, I mentally broke down. I was delayed in development and nearly lost my life because I realized I was an object of temporary desire to older men with whom I expected love, validation and acceptance from.
I am not one to wallow in self-pity or allow life situations to excuse choices or behaviors. I grew up, built a life, overcame my emotional and intellectual insecurities and fears and learned to validate myself over time. I am not a victim. But I am an example.
A teenager is incapable of understanding or appreciating meaningless sex. I don’t care how mature or confident they believe themselves to be, they cannot handle this level of adult consequence. Looking into the eyes of someone you put your absolute trust in and seeing passion and excitement followed by disinterest and avoidance is devastating. Repeating that experience over and over crushes the soul. It can be argued that teenagers engaging in sex with each other in relationships can be positive, but I cannot overstate the dangers of adult-teen sex.
My message to parents? If you have a gay son, he is most likely engaged in sexual talk or activity with men online and he has absolutely no idea how dangerous this is. Young gay men do have the ability to find each other much easier now and, unlike my time in 1998, can date other gay guys their own age. But if they are ‘hooking up’ online it is likely with an adult. I can remember trying to get my dad’s attention without really understanding why. I remember thinking ‘how can he not know what I am doing? Doesn’t he care?’ And in truth I believed he didn’t. It is your job to intervene.
The LGBT world is doing everything in its power to separate young gays from their families and integrate them into the LGBT ‘family.’ While well-meaning from a stand point of outdated ideas of family rejection and social stigma, today it only fosters resentment and risky behaviors. Teenagers should not be deeply depressed. They should not be hiding their online life from you. They should not have mysterious friends you don’t know about. In a better world, they would be told ‘No’ by the men they are attempting to hook up with.
If just one of those men had told me ‘No’, imagine what that might have changed. Imagine if one of those men had told me ‘You are 15, don’t you see how dangerous this is? You don’t need to throw yourself to men like this to be valued. You don’t have to risk your entire future for a 15 minute encounter that means nothing to either of you. You need to be a kid right now.’ Sadly, this never happened to me.
You cannot assume your teenager is making good decisions or knows how handle the decisions they have made. I was lost and felt overwhelmed and buried daily. I needed someone to stop me. I needed someone to guide me. I needed faith and community. But most importantly, I needed an adult to tell me ‘No.’ Don’t be afraid to tell your son ‘No.’
Last week, President Trump announced that he was giving Congress six months to “legalize DACA,” or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This controversial government program was created by President Obama’s executive order that delayed deportation of illegal immigrants who had entered the country at age 16 and younger. Trump threatened that if Congress took no action, he would “revisit the issue.” Given other remarks from members of his administration, many took this as a signal that Trump would end DACA within six months.
Preemptive protests against this assumed action began almost immediately. National figures from both sides of the aisle stressed the need for the young illegal immigrants covered by DACA to receive protection, as many of them had simply accompanied their parents to America and had otherwise done nothing wrong. However, from this point of agreement on policy, the debate devolved into a referendum on DACA itself.
We think this is the wrong direction for our national discussion on this important issue, and we chose to write this article to explain why. We differ in our ideology: Connor is a conservative on most matters of policy, while Andy leans to the left. Nevertheless, we agree that Republicans, Democrats, and centrists alike should be on board with ending DACA and replacing it with a legislative solution to our ongoing immigration problem.
America is unique among other nations due to its foundation on the rule of law. Since its beginning, our country has taken as its first principle that “all men are created equal.” As American citizens, we are all accountable before the law. By electing representatives and participating in the political process, we participate in the crafting of the legal rules and regulations that protect our freedoms. Well-made laws provide stable guidelines for the exercise of our liberties that do not vary from person to person. The even measure of our law ideally allows us all to pursue happiness from the same starting point.
In order for us to maintain an fairly applicable system of law that is accountable to the American people, Congress should make the laws that govern us. The Framers of the Constitution understood this when they explicitly granted Congress “all legislative powers.” In contrast, the President’s job is to execute the laws Congress has passed.
We choose not to speculate about President Obama’s motivations in signing the executive order that created DACA. He may well have considered DACA to be within his constitutional purview, as a matter of executive discretion regarding enforcement priorities. The fact remains that DACA does affect the legal status of a certain class of illegal immigrants by allowing them access to many of the rights of American citizens. As such, it has the force of law while in effect.
This situation requires a remedy. Those who are currently under DACA’s purview deserve better than a flimsy executive decree that is unconstitutional at worst and easily repealable at best. DACA increases uncertainty and decreases quality of life for the illegal immigrants it seeks to help. The far better solution is the one proposed by our nation’s founders: the rule of law.
By implying that he will end DACA, the President is forcing Congress’s hand on a hotly contested policy issue with Election Day implications – exactly the sort of issue that Congressmen enjoy talking about but never acting on. A legislative solution to our immigration woes is a long time coming, however, and is beyond necessary.
Some in our country would prefer that DACA be legalized in its current form by Congress. Others argue that Congress should allow the President to end DACA and commit to strictly enforcing existing immigration law barring illegal entrance into the United States. But embracing one of these tactics over the other will deepen our country’s sizable political divide on this issue. Moreover, both approaches are markedly flawed. Legalizing DACA would likely incentivize future illegal immigration and increase the incidence of “anchor babies.” Alternatively, strict enforcement comports with the rule of law, but mandates deportation for all illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States – a solution that is impractical and costly, at minimum.
As two individuals from opposing sides of the aisle, we would like to offer a bipartisan model solution that should satisfy both parties. To replace DACA, Congress should pass a law featuring a limited period of amnesty for all illegal immigrants residing in the United States who have not committed felonies. For a year following the passage of this bill, illegal immigrants could visit a website, fill out a form, pay the applicable fee, and begin the process of becoming a United States citizen or acquiring a temporary visa or green card.
After that year, this model bill would require the United States to strictly enforce its existing immigration laws, deporting any undocumented immigrants discovered within America’s borders who chose not to come forward during the amnesty period. The bill would also provide for the appointment of a joint select Congressional committee to investigate and recommend solutions for better border security, like a U.S.-Mexico border wall or increased patrols. In addition, the law would remove bureaucratic and monetary barriers to speedy authorization of citizenship for those who apply, making legal immigration easier.
This model law would satisfy the major stakeholders on immigration, and would be a better solution than the legally shaky, politically divisive system created by DACA. As a liberal and a conservative, we agree that it is time for Congress to come together and act to solve our immigration crisis.
Connor Mighell and Andrew Smith are both third-year law students at The University of Alabama School of Law. Connor earned his undergraduate degree in Political Philosophy from Baylor University. He is a regular contributor at Merion West and the curator of “Five in a Flash,” a weekday newsletter. He may be found on Twitter at @cmigbear. Andrew graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor's degree in History and a minor in African-American Studies. He has previously worked in the South Carolina House of Representatives and for South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. He can be found on Twitter at @myandrewisname.
Chupacabras. Terrifying blood-sucking creatures that keep many kids in line and following the rules in order to keep safe. As a Californian, I grew up hearing much more about Chupacabras than about the boogeyman. I also recognize a good Chupacabra story when I hear one. For those of you who don’t know, the mythological (or is it?!?!) creature is typically a dog-like, vampiric beast that sucks the blood out of goats. Most of the country sees California as a Chupacabra. Why did I not use boogeyman and just get on with it? The draining of life force is important to note. Most of the other states see California as a drain due to its massive entitlement programs, oppressive laws and regulations, and uniformly Democratic representatives such as Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, and new darling Kamala Harris. Events of late in Berkeley aren’t helping moderate this narrative either.
“We together can fight liberal agendas and stop our state from becoming California… just click here for a one-time donation to” and so on and so forth. California is fantastic for fundraising, throughout the state and all over the country. In my inbox I have invitations to swanky fundraisers for candidates from the primaries that were held in Southern California. California ranks in the top five states for Republican fundraising. Last I heard, there are more registered Republicans in California than in Texas. We have a lot of people in our state. This is where the ‘rule following’ thing comes in. For Californians, our fundraising letters and emails talk about fighting specific battles within the state that are rarely actually fought. An example of this would be restrictions on firearms above and beyond the federal regulations. If you are out of state, I am sure you’ve heard plenty about us. Not the blonde babes on the beach, the produce for much of the country, or the craft beer. Instead, we have the reputation for siphoning off federal resources. Chupacabras are quite hungry creatures.
I didn’t vote for Trump in the 2016 general election, and it is not a surprise to anyone that California went for Hillary in November. In fact, the lack of organization and funds from the GOP really reinforce both the results and my ease of leaving the top of the ticket blank. This is where the ‘purple’ part comes in: As a state, we have not voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988 with George H. W. Bush, the same year Pennsylvania also voted red. However, every other governor in California for the past 3 decades has been Republican. What? California is solid blue, no way it oscillates consistently! It does. What shapes this? Name recognition and organized investment into the state. I will admit, name recognition matters more as of recent elections and one could argue this is true nationwide after Donald Trump became our 45th president. Why? The RNC and GOP don’t care about California enough to invest resources into the state. If you look at district maps, most of the state is actually quite red. In fact, the House Majority Leader is Kevin McCarthy, Representative of California’s 23rd Congressional district. The same recipe could be used for any conservative candidate or party.
I am not a Republican Party loyalist. I care about the Constitution, freedom, and reducing the oppression of government on the people here and nationwide. I couldn’t care less if we turn red if we aren’t doing good by the people here. The point I’m making is that California is not solely a solid blue block. It appears the reason is because the past 30 years the RNC (and the GOP in general), have capitalized on demonizing a state. Yes, it is very expensive to run a competitive campaign in the Golden State. What is incredibly doable is building and maintaining an organizational machine with volunteers to gain seats in districts including mayoral races and city council seats. From there, you build up to statewide races like the U.S. Senate and Governors’ mansions.
The infrastructure I’m speaking of could flip California red. I know I’m not the only one who personally couldn’t stomach a Trump vote in November and used the Electoral College as an out for a difficult choice. What would November 2016 have looked like had California had a great conservative political infrastructure? Our Senate race in November was a run off of the two top primary finishers. Harris had all the endorsements and full support of the DNC political machine and she received the lion’s share of votes with 40.2% The second-place candidate finished with 19% of the vote. My ballot had over 10 official candidates running as Republicans and many more running as independent candidates. The Senate section took nearly an entire page. This crowded field of many hopefuls split the vote. I have no doubt that a non-Democrat could have easily gotten at least 20% of the vote and gone to the run off in November. Could the candidate win the seat? Absolutely. However, that person can’t be a bad candidate; they need that infrastructure and name recognition. It comes down to money, time, and effort. All would be doable and attainable with the resources the RNC has. Sadly, the RNC has been more than happy to use California as a tale of woe to keep the rest of the country in line.