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Demons, Demons Everywhere, and No Exorcist In Sight

“Nazi.”

The very word inspires fear and enmity from those who hear it, evoking emotional responses that leave rational discourse behind in ashes like those of the Reichstag Building. The “Nazi” is the Go To enemy for video games, movies, television shows, and literature, whenever an unambiguously evil enemy is needed, and no further justification for killing them or defeating them is necessary. They are Nazis, and so they deserve death. It’s that simple.

It would appear, based on widespread reactions from otherwise normal and rational people, that this mentality has carried over into the real world, and real people are reacting to the presence of Nazis in Charlottesville with the disgust and hatred typically reserved for cartoonishly evil supervillains, which is dismaying, because one look at any of the photos or videos circulating of these Nazis will reveal that they are just cartoonishly comical.

This is what happens when a word, a label, is demonized to this extent. Yesterday, I was repeatedly called a Nazi Sympathizer, and even blocked by one person in the liberty movement, for having the audacity to point out that it is required, if we are to have peace, to actually listen to these people and acknowledge their concerns. This is a foolish interpretation of my position—I’ve long been anti-authoritarian, and that will not change simply because many of my allies are demanding that I become authoritarian to forcefully stop the other authoritarians. And that is, in essence, what many libertarians are demanding.

After all, the libertarian idea is that the state is an institution of force and coercion, and they wish to use force and coercion to eliminate the Nazis, from suggestions of widespread murder of them to just beating them all unconscious. It is not in any way different from what the actual Nazis of Germany did to Jews—a comparison I made last night on The Call to Freedom—except that, as of right now, most of the anti-Nazis have not yet carried out their plans to round up and exterminate everyone who disagrees with them to that extent.

Co-host of the show Thom pointed out that the Nazis have chosen their ideology, while they targeted people who were born with a certain heritage. Ironic, isn’t it? Especially given that so many of these Nazis are flying Confederate Flags and throwing around that word “heritage” with reckless abandon. There is also the fact that Judaism is a religion, and that not all of the Jews killed by the Nazi Regime were Jews by heredity; some were converts to the religion, and were exterminated all the same.

It shows a remarkable disconnect, since the position is basically that the Neo-Nazis (the term I’m going to use to continue differentiating these people from, you know, actual Nazis who actually exterminated people) are basically told that they can have their heritage—as long as they aren’t proud of it, as long as they don’t expect any monuments to their heritage to remain standing, as long as they don’t try to protect it from being erased from history, as long as they don’t take pride in it, and as long as they roll over for the “progress” of society.

I spent most of Saturday sharing memes mocking these people. Because, absolutely, they are worthy of mockery. These poor, pathetic basement dwellers with pedo ‘staches and tiny dicks can’t get laid, and so they figured, “Well, fuck it. I guess I’ll become a Nazi.” They’re terrified of everything and everyone that isn’t exactly like them, and they’re so meek and afraid that they refuse to allow their cultural values to be stacked in fair competition against other cultural values—because they know they will lose, because they are losing. It wasn’t long ago that I wrote this critique of “traditional values,” and pointed out that the beauty of the United States is that we are a cultural buffet, where a person can take dishes from whatever culture they want, grabbing only the dishes they like and leaving the ones they don’t. The net result of this, over a period of time, is that the dishes that very few people like fade away, as we are seeing with homophobia, transphobia, and racism.

Racism is on the decline, of course, with even the KKK, despite its resurgence in the last few years, basically defunct, and the reason is simple: racism is stupid. A businessperson who refuses to hire anyone but white people will not hire the best except by sheer coincidence. It is entirely possible that the best person he could hire is a black man, but instead he would hire an inferior white man, and his business would suffer as a result. This is why diversity is a good thing, and why diversity quotas are a bad thing—merit should be the sole determining factor. Using skin color, gender, orientation, and other things as factors is fundamentally flawed, even if we have twisted it such that it’s a positive thing to have your black skin factored into the equation because the company will hire you to meet its quota. It’s bad for the company if you’re not the best person for the job, and this is what the “Google Memo” was all about: these other, unimportant considerations have supplanted merit, such that a woman who is less suitable for a position is more likely to be hired because of her sex than a man who is more suitable for the position. Just as it is not good or acceptable for a company to refuse to hire a person because she’s a woman, so is it not good or acceptable for a company to choose to hire a person because she’s a woman. This should not be a controversial statement.

Yet it is.

And so extensive is the demonization that pointing this out results in one being called anti-diversity, misogynistic, bigoted, and hateful.

And this is what so very many people are getting wrong about the current political climate.

I watched former vice presidential candidate, Muslim activist, libertarian activist, and all-around awesome guy Will Coley have his work repeatedly spit upon and rejected solely because he is white. I’ve seen people say to him, “No, you are not my brother. You are a white devil.”

Yet this vile vitriol is considered acceptable, and it is a sentiment that is echoed all over the United States. The Southern Baptist Convention can’t even come together and vote by an overwhelming majority to condemn racism without being called racists. That’s the position we’re in today, and nothing is going to change if we pretend like that isn’t true, or that it isn’t a problem. It is. In fact, it’s the root of what the Neo-Nazis complain about. As I said, the root of their grievances is legitimate. They have, in their desperation to wear the Victim Badge that everyone is welcome, taken those grievances and blown them to ridiculous degrees, but what American group has not done so? Hardly a week goes by that I don’t see a trans person crying foul because they couldn’t use the restroom of their choice, and they present this as though it’s just the height of discrimination, and as though it’s just one step removed from extermination of trans people. It’s hard to take these people seriously, and I don’t think they should be taken seriously. But, as with the Neo-Nazis, there is a legitimate core to the grievances expressed by these misguided trans people: there is resistance among institutional powers to restrict one’s gender identity and sexual identity to whatever it happened to be at the moment of birth.

During the course of discussions yesterday, someone assured me, “I’ve been observing these people before you even knew they existed!” The exclamation point, of course, was part of his emotional rant–a rant so emotionally charged that he ended up unfriending me, calling me “he/his” purposely and deliberately to try to elicit an emotional response from me, and finally blocked me when these efforts failed. The conversation was quite interesting, because I provided sources directly from these Neo-Nazis to back up what I was saying, and he repeatedly declined to do so, saying only “Stormfront!” and “Google it!”

It really shows a remarkably myopic viewpoint, though, to say something like that to me–the Anarchist Shemale, born and raised in rural Mississippi to fundamentalist Christians who are openly racist Trump supporters. My grandfather and uncle own a gun and confederacy store called “Confederate State Arms.” In fact, I’d speculate that some of the flags waved in Charlottesville were purchased from my grandfather and uncle. I was born to these people. I grew up around these people. When I was 11 or 12 years old, my family was training me to fight the Anti-Christ, and telling me things like, “When we’re patrolling, if you hear something, turn and shoot. Don’t hesitate, don’t call out. Turn and shoot.” We had actual compounds for when the Anti-Christ took over. It would be really hard for someone to be more exposed to these people than I have been.

I’ve written an entire book about the brainwashing and abuse these people inflicted upon me. They are solely the reason that it took me to my mid-20s to come to terms with being trans, even though, as early as three years old, I preferred wearing female clothes and preferred women. Don’t even get me started on the many, many ideological problems these people have, or the grotesque abuses of which they are capable. There is, naturally, no dispute: the majority of these Neo-Nazis are white southerners and cling to their Christianity-inspired “traditional values,” despite anything that Jesus actually said.

So during the course of saying all of this–I, the transsexual atheist anarchist with a long history of arguing against authoritarianism and identity politics–was told that I was a Nazi Sympathizer, virtue signaling to the alt-right, a boot-licker, and then, when those claims proved wildly inaccurate, I was told that I couldn’t possibly understand the people we’re talking about as well as Random Guy #13 who occasionally browsed Stormfront. After pointing out that I have been around these people literally my entire life, fully exposed to their ideology and reasoning, and firmly rejected their positions, and that these are the reasons (aside from being trans) that I lost my entire family and many of my friends, predictably the phrase “Stockholm Syndrome” started getting thrown around.

Whatever it takes to discount what I’m saying, right?

Kangaroo done hung the juror with the guilty.

After spending Saturday laughing at and mocking these people, I spent yesterday attempting to build a bridge, because a bridge is necessary. We know how the alt-right and Neo-Nazis came into existence and prominence. They told us so. For years, they expressly stated their fears. They reluctantly accepted the social changes, but they routinely stated that the feared the changes would go too far. They reluctantly tolerated homosexual marriage, but stated the fear that churches would be forced to provide same sex marriage ceremonies. They stated they were worried that Christians would become oppressed by the state, forced to service people with whom they didn’t want to associate. They stated that they were worried that any random guy could claim to be trans in order to gain access to the women’s restroom. They stated that they were worried “LGBT Equality” would become “LET’S ALL RAVE NAKED IN THE STREETS AND BE DEGENERATES!” They stated that they were worried that Affirmative Action would become “Well, this person is a woman, and this person is a man, so… Hire the woman. Who cares that the man is more qualified?” and “Well, this person is Hispanic, and this person is white, so… Hire the Hispanic guy. Who cares that the white guy is more qualified?” They stated that they feared expressing their conservative positions would become demonized, and that their right to free speech would be trampled, that they would lose the right to say that they personally don’t approve of gay people–and they worried that they would lose the right to act in accordance with those beliefs. Because, whether we like it or not, the right to believe something necessarily includes the right to act in accordance with those beliefs.

Yes, Bob has the right to dislike homosexual people. He also has the right to act in accordance with that belief by refusing to associate with homosexual people. The two things are inextricably linked, because behavior, as we all know, is a function of beliefs and environment. A person’s behavior cannot be separated from their beliefs without threatening their right to belief.

Anyway, so that was what these people were saying in the mid-90s. Though they gritted their teeth and weren’t happy about it, they went along with it, for the most part, and didn’t do much to actively resist it, even here in the south. They did this because of their hope that it would be limited to tolerance, and “gritting one’s teeth and allowing the behavior in question” is literally what tolerance is. We’ve twisted it to mean “acceptance” these days, and have decided that Bob saying “I don’t like gay people” means that he is intolerant. However, he isn’t. In fact, “tolerance” strongly suggests disapproval. We don’t tolerate things that we like. We like them and embrace them. We tolerate things that we don’t particularly care for. I don’t enjoy having the cats sharpen their claws on the back of my furniture, but I tolerate it. It makes me grind my teeth, and it makes my skin crawl, but I tolerate it. When did we forget this? And why? Seeing “tolerance” twisted into “acceptance” put the writing on the wall–they were not going to be required to tolerate people whose behavior they didn’t approve of; they were going to be required to accept people whose behavior they didn’t approve of.

Meanwhile, the various identity politics groups allied together under the left’s banner repeatedly put on the Victim Badge, over any and every possible slight, no matter how trivial and inconsequential it was. This continues happening today. Trans people, of course, love crying about “oppression” and “discrimination” if they can’t use the restroom of their choice. In the grand scheme of things, that issue is wholly asinine, not to mention that it absolutely pales in comparison to the trans women who are placed in men’s prisons, where they are raped a reportedly 2,000 times in a handful of years. Additionally trans people pretend like they don’t have to tell romantic partners that they’re trans, and then they cry “I’m a victim!” when their romantic partner finds out and, quite understandably, rejects them. I know of one trans girl who purposely put herself in that position, where she was attacked, and used the excuse, “Why should I have to tell him I’m trans? It’s just normal to me, so I don’t think about it to tell people!”

Bullshit.

Let’s look at this from a related angle.

In essence, you’re a woman who can never give your partner children. Imagine a woman who is sterile going out on dates. How many dates are required before the woman confesses to the man that she is incapable of giving him children? I’d say “Before they had sex, at least.” Before there was too much emotional attachment, certainly. Because, for whatever weird reason, most people do want kids, and being unable to provide those is very often a deal-breaker. It is certainly the woman’s responsibility to tell the man that she cannot bear children, because there’s a very high chance that he will one day want children. As a trans person, she was incapable of providing children, and should have told him that. This would have led him to ask why, at which point the only acceptable answer would be the truth: “Because I’m trans.”

But despite all of this, she and others wear the Victim Badge. It’s not their fault that a man expects to take off a woman’s pants and find a vagina, not a penis. They’re the victim here, not the man who was deceived by omission of important details.

Then, of course, there was the disastrous attempt last year for people on Twitter to use the hashtag “Straight Pride.” Goodness, what a fiasco that was! The single most common response that anyone received for using that hashtag was “Die” and “Kill yourself.” What is the message here? “You’re allowed to be proud of your sexuality, unless you’re straight. Then fuck you.”

I recently saw a Tumblr post from someone who said something. One person replied, “Or, you know, straight people exist?” To this, someone else replied, “Ugh. Don’t remind me.”

Such hateful, divisive rhetoric. What did people expect?

You’re allowed to have LGBT Pride, Asian Pride, Hispanic Pride, Black Pride, Muslim Pride, and Female Pride. And asinine though all of these things are, and asinine though this response is, if you dare try to take pride when you’re not in one of these groups, you will be condemned as a bigot. People will gleefully tell you to kill yourself.

Now we see a good employee, and certainly a qualified employee, dismissed from Google because of his dissenting opinions. He went against the status quo, and the status quo is “LGBT Pride, Asian Pride, Hispanic Pride, Black Pride, Muslim Pride, and Female Pride are good. And it’s perfectly okay to hire a woman who isn’t qualified over a man who is, or a minority who isn’t qualified over a white who is.” That status quo is wrong and needs to be changed. We shouldn’t take pride in the fluke conditions of our births, and this is true whether one wants to take pride in being LGBT, being white, being 6 feet tall, being brunette, being black, being female, being male, or whatever.

That is egalitarianism: sexual orientation, race, and gender shouldn’t be determining factors in things. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated. He never said, “I dream of a world where black men are hired because they are black.” He explicitly and repeatedly said, “I dream of a world where a man is judged not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character.” And giving someone a job because of their skin color… is judging them by the color of their skin, even if you’re doing it to their advantage. Just as it was racist and messed up to give people jobs simply because they were white, because this actively harmed qualified people who weren’t white, so is it racist and messed up to give people jobs simply because they aren’t white, because this actively harms qualified people who are white. Skin color shouldn’t freaking matter to any of this. We should all be treated as individuals with our own merits, abilities, thoughts, and gifts, not as monolothic entities defined by arbitrary flukes of birth.

The alt-right saw this, too. They saw these changes. They saw how “skin color shouldn’t matter” became “this black person should be hired, because he’s black.” They saw how “gender shouldn’t matter” became “this person should be hired, because she’s a female.” All of this shit happened in plain sight for anyone with the intellectual honesty to look and see it.

Some small portion of them resisted, certainly, and clung to the past, to what they thought were the “glory days” of racism, sexism, and sexual orientationism. But these people were very small in number, and they continually waned over the last few decades. By and large, most of them came to tolerate the changes, even if they didn’t like it. But it doesn’t matter if they like it or not. That’s up for them to decide personally. It’s not up to us to tell them they have to like it, to make them like it. We can choose to disassociate from them if we don’t like the fact that they don’t like it, sure, but that’s not what we did. We went further than that, as they feared we would.

Their response to this has been to play the Identity Politics game themselves, and to clamor after the Victim Badge that everyone else is wearing. They want to be victims just like everyone else. They want to feel like martyrs, like they’re oppressed and treated like dirt because of relatively small and almost imperceptible slights. And, ironically, many on the left demand specific examples of this institutional assault on straight, white, normal, Christian men, which is an inevitable byproduct of shooting past equality and going straight to elevation of all non-straight, non-white, non-normal, non-Christian non-men, even though, if you ask them for specific examples of the “institutional racism” that they talk about, they scoff at the idea. Yet there they go, demanding that same thing of the right.

They were being called “Nazis” long before they really started looking and talking like Nazis. Do you remember when Hillary Clinton referred to Trump supporters as “a basket of deplorables?” Do you remember how they responded to that? They adopted the moniker proudly, getting it emblazoned on hats, and happily called themselves deplorable. Since they disagree with the left, there is no greater honor for them than being called “deplorable” by the left. That, to them, means they’re on the right track. “If you’re a degenerate, disgusting maggot and you call me deplorable, then I guess I’m on the right track!” was their take on it, and this is why they consciously took on the label.

But they weren’t just called “deplorable.” Goodness, no. Through the last two years, it’s been almost non-stop attacks from the left, with increasingly hyperbolic and vicious insults thrown at them. Racist, misogynists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, bigots, fascists, xenophobes, Nazis… Again, what did people expect to happen? We didn’t listen to their relatively benign and genuine concerns that they expressed meekly twenty years ago, when they said they feared it would become a celebration of degeneracy, anti-white racism, anti-male sexism, anti-Christian hatred, and so on. We laughed at them and mocked them, saying, “Yeah, equality only feels like oppression when you’re privileged. Hurr dee hurr dee hurr!”

Even today, the overwhelming majority of Americans insist that we haven’t even reached equality–and we haven’t, in many places, but this isn’t a dichotomy–in any meaningful sense, and that straight, white, Christian men still have so much privilege that no amount of wrongdoing done to them because they’re straight, white, Christian men could possibly matter. “Fuck them. They’re privileged. Who cares that he didn’t get the job because someone less qualified had a vagina? Who cares that he didn’t get the job because someone less qualified is black?*”

I’ve been through it–twice, in fact. I was the only white person in the Pizza Hut that I worked at, and I faced minor slights regularly. The most egregious example was when I worked 10a to 6p one day, and other drivers began showing up at 4:00. There hadn’t been a delivery the entire day. The girl who came in and started dispatching assigned deliveries back-to-back-to-back to the other drivers, even though I was first in the queue to do a delivery, since I’d been there 6 hours before anyone else, and yet they took several deliveries. I didn’t get a delivery until I brought it up to her and pointed out that I had been there all day and she gave the deliveries to people who were behind me in line. The distinction? The other two drivers was black, and so was she.

I went through it even moreso when I worked at Sam’s Town in the hotel housekeeping department, because I was literally the only white person in the entire department. There, the most egregious example came about one New Year’s Eve. Everyone had to work on New Year’s Eve, that was the policy for the first year. By the time the second one rolled around for my employment there, I was second in seniority, and business had slowed down considerably–people were actually going to be allowed off. So even though New Year’s Eve fell on my regular day off, I was told to come in and work, while one of the newer guys was given the day off, even though it was, for him, a regular work day. There were countless smaller examples, like how I was always given a secondary set of keys instead of one of the primary sets, even though I had seniority, and I was always the one sent to the backdock to unload the truck. Always. What’s particularly odd about that is that one needs the primary set of keys to get into the backdock. Their argument for having me unload the truck every day that I worked was that I had seniority, of course, but the backdock required the primary keys. But that “seniority argument” didn’t matter then, and I routinely had to call someone who had been there a full year less than I had to come and open the back dock for me. It’s insulting to be treated that way, and so I have the greatest sympathy for anyone who has experienced racism. But if you think the fact that I’m white and experienced racism somehow discounts it, then you are the problem here. You are the racist.

All of these things are real, and they actually happen. It doesn’t mean that anti-black racism has ceased to exist. Certainly, it still exists, and it needs to stop. How do we stop it? By treating people as individuals, and by not having skin color as a factor. That’s how we stop using skin color as a factor, which is the definition of racism.

Now I’ve been demonized for having the audacity to treat the Neo-Nazis as anything other than detestable scum who need to be shot and killed. I’ve committed the groupthink heresy of daring to admit that the core of what they’re saying is a valid point, and it’s their solution that is wrong. Many of them are simply idiots who are throwing out Nazi salutes and flying swastikas for the same reason they wore t-shirts that said “Deplorable,” and have no interest in killing anyone, forcing anyone to leave, or any of that other shit that the more extreme ones–who do exist–want. But we’re not talking about those extreme fools who have always been white supremacist idiots. We’re talking about the ones who begrudgingly accepted diversity in the 90s, and who have since warped into Neo-Nazis.

Those types can be talked back from the edge, and they should be talked back from the edge. We’re not going to achieve anything by continuing to push them, by continuing to insult them, and by escalating it into violence against them, because they will perceive it as a violent attack against straight, white, normal men. They will. If you attack them, you will reinforce their position. What are you going to do? Kill them all? Kill everyone who has even the smallest seed of these ideas in their heads? If you’re proposing that, then I would suggest that you are the actual Nazi here.

Stop demonizing them and listen to them. Go back to the source of their arguments, put aside the hyperbole, and put aside the emotions. It didn’t have to come to this. It did not have to come to Neo-Nazis marching in the streets. It came to that because no one listened back when they reluctantly went along with the social changes. Instead, they were mocked and derided, and slowly pushed into a corner. Now they’re in that corner, and they’re beginning to lash out, as cornered animals do, and as terrified people do. We will achieve nothing by pushing them further.

If we’re to resolve this situation peacefully, it’s going to take doing something that apparently few people are wiling to do: listen to them. Already, though, that’s nearly impossible, because of that word–that demonized word that invokes so much emotion that people instantly and vehemently reject the idea that they could have anything worthwhile to say. But we can’t forget the critically important fact that, ten years ago, very, very few of these people were Neo-Nazis. They were pushed to that, because they embraced Identity Politics and Victimization–the left’s tactics–to use against the left. This is, of course, wrong.

They can be shown that.

But to show them that, we have to drop our own Identity Politics and Victim Complexes. We have to start advocating actual equality, not this shit that people call “equality” but is actually just a reversal of the power structures. We have to start advocating that skin color, sex, orientation, and religion should not matter, not that “they should matter, as long as historically disenfranchised groups are benefited by it.”

It’s not an easy road ahead, and it may already be too late, considering that I can’t even say this without being accused of being a Neo-Nazi, or being a Nazi sympathizer, of being on their side, licking their boots, and so on. Because when you’ve demonized people to that point, you split the world into Us and Them. You dehumanize Them into a homogeneous blob of pure evil. This has been going on for a long time. Just last week, I read someone on Quora who said, “I can’t for the life of me figure out why these otherwise moral people can still support Trump…” I couldn’t help but wonder, “Did you consider asking them why they still support Trump?”

No, of course not. Because Trump supporters are pure evil, and nothing they say matters. We don’t want to hear what they have to say, because they’re pure evil.

I once pointed out to a girl that the confederate flag does not represent racism to the people who fly it. It really does just represent an anti-government heritage for them. She disagreed. I asked whether she had actually asked some of these people what it means to them. Naturally, she said she had not, and that she wasn’t going to.

It’s a widespread refusal to given any credence whatsoever to the other side. We’ve seen how refusing to acknowledge the validity of someone’s grievances results in escalation. It’s what caused 9/11. If we had listened to Al Queda and others who told us for years and years and years that their issue was that we wouldn’t leave them the hell alone, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened. But instead, what happened? People booed Ron Paul when he got on-stage and pointed out that the United States was in the wrong.

“I’m in the wrong? INCONCEIVABLE! The people who are saying I’m wrong are evil and clearly in the wrong themselves!”

Refusal to listen.

We absolutely must start listening to the other side. And we must start now, before this shit escalates further.

* Obviously, qualifications are independent of skin color and sex. It’s sad that I have to say this, but a person is more or less qualified regardless of their skin color, and there are plenty of examples of women who are more qualified for jobs than men, and plenty of examples of black people who are more qualified for jobs than white people. This is a given, and there’s no reason I should have to say it to ward off cries of sexism and racism.

 

Thoughts on Trump’s Military Ban of Transgender/Transsexual People

To steal a line from Will Coley:

Oh no! Transgender and transsexual people are no longer allowed to murder brown people in foreign countries!

We should ban everyone from joining the military.

Meanwhile, transgender and transsexual people in prisons and jails continue to serve sentences in their birth sex’s cell block, where they are raped hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of times, and this grievous issue continues to go ignored, because the average trans person can’t pretend to be a victim of that. Instead, they’ll focus on the lesser issues of bathrooms and military service, because all they want is to cry about being a victim, and fighting for trans prisoners doesn’t allow them to pretend to be victims.

Being Audacious & Courting Disaster

You ever do something that you know, beyond almost any doubt, is going to have severely negative consequences? Because I’m about to do that. And I’m really not sure what the fallout will be, but it’s going to be an interesting ride.

First, I was successfully voted into the Audacious Caucus of the Libertarian Party. In fact, I was voted in unanimously with 18-0, and am the second prison to have been voted in with no dissent (The other was Starchild). Even Arvin Vohra isn’t likely to be voted in unanimously.

Second, speaking of Arvin, he was chosen as the first inductee into The Call to Freedom’s “Libertarian Drama Hall of Fame.” It was decided that Arvin is basically the LeBron James of Libertarian Drama, and that’s true, although the drama around him has been pretty mild lately. It’s sort of like South Park–once upon a time, people were outraged, but not it’s just like, “Well, that’s just South Park being South Park…”

That’s the trick of being audacious. If you’re audacious all the time, it becomes almost passé. It’s like the left protesting constantly and marching all the time; eventually, people stop paying attention, because it’s just expected. It’s not exciting or interesting. Arvin seems aware of this (hence his place in the Hall of Fame), because he’s generated no controversy lately, but I’m positive that he will. He’s Arvin. It’s what he does.

In other interesting news, perpetual dickbag Augustus Invictus followed in Austin Petersen’s footsteps and left the Libertarian Party to join the Republican Party. As with Petersen, actual libertarians celebrated the development.

This seems to be the beginning of the exodus of the paleo-libertarians and alt-right fascitarians from the party, including the likes of terminal idiot Jared Howe, Molyneaux, Cantwell, and others who thought the Libertarian Party meant “liberty for me, not for thee.”

And, on that note, the stupid thing I’m about to do: I’m forming an affiliate for the county I live in. The first meeting is July 29th, but I don’t expect it to generate much buzz. The second meeting is when things will begin to get interesting, because by then word will have spread.

I’ve no intention of peddling being transsexual to any sort of advantage or as any tool for getting publicity, but I’ve been a resident of Mississippi long enough to know how this is going to play out. Once that ball gets rolling, it’s going to snowball to unknown degrees, but I expect that at least half the county will be buzzing about the transsexual atheist chair of the county party. This, of course, will motivate many of those people to learn about libertarian philosophy and, especially, how a transsexual person isn’t a Democrat and actually advocates for the right of free association (and has years of history doing it).

It will surely warrant a statement at some point, to which I’m looking forward, which will allow me to change a lot of people’s minds about trans people and liberty. I’d rather the transsexual matter never be brought up, but it will be–persistently. I will be the #1 thing people bring up when they discuss the Libertarian Party of the county, because the chair of the county party is a transsexual atheist.

This will create many problems. Many of my clients are old school, and needing to earn money to not die has left me in the awkward situation of having to continue working as a male, but it’s the elephant in the room. Everyone has noticed. Dudes don’t typically dye their hair vibrant red. Some employees at various clients have even discussed it with me or my colleague; it’s not exactly hard to notice for people who only see me once every few weeks.

I think that’s going to go better than other people expect, though, because the effect of rapport cannot be denied. I discussed this recently–relationships are the destroyers of bigotry, and I’ve got existing relationships with the clients and their employees. They like me. They already know that I’m strange (everyone knows I’m weird), and they don’t mind. The revelation for some of them will just be that I’m more weird than they knew.

Yet there is at least one client for whom it will present an irreconcilable problem, because the client is managed by a couple with a gay son, whose sexuality they are in denial about, and who pulled him out of school to shelter him from the corruptive agents of mainstream society. I could be reading that entire situation wrong, but that assessment is based on my conversations with the guy and with my own experiences with oppressive guardians. So I don’t think that I am.

The remaining two members of my family whose opinions somewhat matter to me will learn the truth, but that’s just as well. I sheltered them from it, but the bell is going to ring, and it really doesn’t matter to me any longer.

There is a real risk of danger and attack. I’ve been attacked before, both for being trans and for being an atheist. A year ago, someone was trying to find out where I lived so that they could pay me a visit. Oh, well. My shotgun stays loaded.

I fully expect the message of liberty to form a bridge between me and most people, because that’s what liberty is: a truce. From there, personal relationships will pick up the slack and allow people to at least rely on cognitive dissonance to not fire me as their I.T. contractor. Or I could be wrong, and they all fire me. I could very well be digging my own grave almost literally.

But I don’t think so. As I said, most of them already know. They can only make so many comments about how I remind them of their step-daughter before it gets to the point of, “Yeah, just go ahead and say it.” Like I said, in most cases it’s the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.

Let’s have some conversations about liberty, and let’s disabuse people of some incorrect ideas.

Cultural Buffets: I’ll Debate You, Michael W. Miller

I’ll spare you all the details and give a brief summary. Arvin Vohra criticized Liberty Hangouts publicly, and members of Liberty Hangouts defended themselves. This led Arvin to apologize and correct himself, and on this thread of comments there appeared a discussion between Jason Weinman (with whom I’ve had disagreements with the past because, if I recall correctly, he went hard for Gary Johnson) and Michael William Miller of Liberty Hangouts about various things I don’t really care about. During the name-calling and pedantry, Michael said:

If you mean we support traditional values, yes, but we have never called once for legislation forcing anyone to do anything.

And, moments later:

[D]o you want to debate this on a livestream? [W]e’d be more than happy to host it on Liberty Hangout. 🙂

While, from what I can gather, the debate invitation was to discuss whether or not Liberty Hangout had called for legislation of traditional values, Jason Weinman declined the invitation. However, I would gladly debate anyone at Liberty Hangout on “traditional” values, and whether it’s a concern that they’re being eroded.

My Values Are My Values, and Therefore Correct

Everyone believes this to be true. It’s an application of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, in fact. Just as we use our ability to play the guitar to understand how skilled another guitar player is, so do we use our own values to judge the values of other people. When we look at uncontacted tribes that segregate girls from their tribe when they hit puberty, we reject the idea as backward and immoral, because our values tell us that it’s wrong to treat people that way, it will have severe permanent damage on the girl’s self-esteem, and there’s nothing magical or mystical about periods. Yet this assessment itself is built on our values that it’s bad to cause severe permanent damage to people’s self-esteem, and our values that positive self-esteem is a good thing. I’ve discussed this countless times before and won’t go into it in full detail. Instead, just check out this article on the subject. Or check out this one.

Cultural Competition

More importantly, the reality of the situation isn’t just that “traditional values” are being eroded from within, although many right-wing figures would deny this and focus their efforts on controlling immigration, in full disregard of the fact that America influences the rest of the world, not the other way around, but also that we are seeing cultural competition, and it functions exactly the same way as economic competition. Worldviews compete in the market in exactly the same way that businesses do, and the one that proves to be most efficient wins out in the long-run. In terms of culture, efficiency appears to be measured primarily in inclusiveness. This also makes sense in economic terms, as exclusiveness reduces a business’s customer base.

For example, acceptance of black people as equals won out the culture war when the two sides pitted against one another: one side advocated continued open racism and segregation, and the other side advocated an end to these things. Motivated by self-interest, the majority of people would have put their personal feelings aside, in the event that they were racist, to advocate for equality, because this, in Mississippi for example, increased their customer reach by 37%. An openly racist business in Mississippi immediately loses 37% of all customers, and more, when it’s considered that many people who aren’t black would refuse to do business with such a company. Many others are motivated simply by empathy, which is also self-interest, since no one wants to be filled with negative emotions like guilt and sorrow.

I have no desire to argue whether one side is right or wrong, even when it comes to “traditional values” (one assumes this to mean heterosexuality, anti-transgenderism, etc.) versus contemporary values, because both sides are subjective. Each can be demonstrated as desirable by its own parameters, and each can demonstrate the other as undesirable by those same parameters. Someone who thinks that transsexualism is a mental illness will obviously think that the normalization of transsexualism is a bad idea, because it openly accepts what they consider to be a mental illness, and they find treating mental illnesses as normal to be a bad idea.

Cultural values change over time, and they clearly move in some direction that I won’t try to name. The arc of human history is pretty evident, though, in that we’ve moved toward secularization and acceptance, rather than toward heightened religiosity and bigotry. We’ve also moved from despotism toward liberty and individualism, at least until the rise of fascism in the 20th century that has set us back so drastically. I’d hazard the guess that there is a common thread that connects these things–the move away from bigotry, the move toward secularization, the move toward liberty–but it’s something to think about some other day. The fact remains: cultural values change over time. Whether they are improving or getting worse is up for argument.

It would seem obvious that a stagnant culture would self-destruct in very short order, but it’s equally obvious that there has never been such a thing as a stagnant culture. Today, our culture changes at a shocking speed and is incredibly robust–so robust that many people don’t consider the United States as having a culture. Compare that to the relatively defined culture of Venice, France, and Saudi Arabia. Here in the United States, we have a culture that includes hateful assholes like Steven Anderson (a pastor who openly says that he wishes more trans teens would kill themselves), wonderful nameless Christians who don’t give a shit if someone is trans, atheists like myself who take no part in religion, people who openly believe themselves to be witches, people who openly worship the devil, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and even scientologists. The only description that will fit these many disparate beliefs and worldviews is that the United States’ culture as a whole values religious freedom.

In another sense, we have goth culture, emo culture, jock culture, snob culture, cheerleader culture, Christian culture, white culture, black culture, Japanese culture, Mexican culture, and so many others that it’s immaterial whether every single individual actively enjoys and embraces all of these different sub-cultures, because, again, on the whole the result is that the Unites States’ culture values cultural differences. This literally allows us to pick and choose what we like from each culture and incorporate it into our lives for personal fulfillment.

I think Michael and I both will agree that “cultural appropriation” is a positive thing, and that SJWs can fuck off.

This allows even the most ardent transphobic Christian to watch and enjoy Japanese anime, to eat burritos, and to have a goth son who listens to Megadeth (though the parent, because of the cultural conflict, won’t be happy about it, hopefully the parent realizes the futility and counterproductive nature of denying the teenager the ability to embrace their own preferences). The United States is basically a gigantic buffet of different cultural elements, and we are actively encouraged (nevermind the lunatic progressives) to take only the dishes that we like, while ignoring the dishes that we don’t like.

My wording in my willingness to accept a debate with Michael isn’t accidental. I have no desire to argue with him about the utility and value of “traditional values.” He has gone to the buffet and taken different dishes–that’s fine. I have absolutely no standing to tell him that the dishes he took are inferior, bigoted, hateful, or narrow-minded. They’re the dishes he likes, and that’s okay. My argument is that it’s not a problem that the Accepting Trans People Dish has been placed on the buffet. I’m not arguing that the “traditional” dishes should be removed from the buffet, and, evidently, Michael isn’t arguing that contemporary dishes should be removed from the buffet (so, really, there’s not much of a debate there).

However, it remains true that anyone who subscribes to traditional values will consider those traditional dishes to be superior to the contemporary ones–and that, in my estimation, is wrong. Not only is it a subjective assessment of different values that is based on the values that go into the assessment (it gets really hard to explain), but the closest we have to “objective” criteria (economic growth, prosperity, and peace) suggests that it’s a positive thing when culture shifts from “whatever it is” along the unnamed thread toward liberty, secularization, and acceptance. This becomes subjective because I value economic growth, prosperity, and peace, and I have absolutely no objective reason that I can point to in order to suggest that economic growth, prosperity, and peace are good things (see Darkside Philosophy for an idea of how deep that rabbit hole gets).

So the questions are ultimately:

  • Does the presence of contemporary values on the Cultural Buffet in any way decrease the value of traditional values?

The answer is “No,” but, to be fair, I don’t think Michael would make that argument in the first place. This is sort of counterintuitive. If we laid out a buffet of ten different currencies, all of them equal to 100 of whatever currency they are (one hundred dollars, one hundred pounds, one hundred euros, etc.), it would seem to cheapen the value of the 100USD if the USD customarily were the only option. However, given that monopolies are inherently wasteful and inefficient (whether cultural, currency, or business monopolies), the presence of competition would more likely increase the value of the USD.

  • Is the presence of contemporary values on the Cultural Buffet a negative detriment to the traditional values?

This is very similar to the first question. If a child of one of the traditional diners is intrigued by the look of some contemporary values dish, it could be argued that the mere presence of the dish piqued the child’s imagination, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. But here we have to point out: if the traditional dish is superior, then there is no harm in allowing the child to taste the contemporary dish. If we place a bowl of chocolate ice cream, and a bowl of sprinkle-covered shit on the buffet, it wouldn’t really be a problem, no matter how much one didn’t want one’s child to eat sprinkle-covered shit. If the chocolate ice cream is better, then even if the child does get the chance to taste the shit, the child will surely go running back to the ice cream at the first opportunity. This is the cowardice and weakness that underlies cultural protectionism: if their values were truly superior–as they profess to believe–it would be unnecessary to prevent others from being exposed to other values. I have no issue with my clients trying out other I.T. companies, because I know they’ll come running back to me in very short order.

  • Are traditional dishes likely to survive the diversity of the buffet in any noteworthy sense?

The answer here is “no,” just as the traditional dish of “divine right of kings” hasn’t survived the buffet. Sure, a few people every once in a while can be found eating that dish, but the total impact that dish has on the overall culture is negligible. Greek Mythology is another traditional dish that hasn’t been treated well by the buffet. Even though we can find people today who worship Zeus, Greek Mythology is widely considered mythology rather than a religion, and the total impact that Zeus worshipers have on wider society is negligible. As long as no one comes along and removes the dish from the buffet, it’s up to the people who like and prefer that dish to convince other people that it’s a dish worth having.

If one can’t do that, then I guess the dish isn’t that good after all. I don’t have to convince people to try my chicken enchiladas, because they’re freaking delicious, and smelling them while hearing everyone raving about them (no joke, my chicken enchiladas are amazing, but it’s not my recipe) will entice them to try them. I don’t have to convince people to not eat the beef burrito; I just have to convince them to give my own dish a shot. And if my dish is really as good as I say it is, after that it will speak for itself.

Libertarian Developments

In a series of awesome developments, Austin Petersen defected (I wish him well but I’m glad he’s gone) from the Libertarian Party to the Republican Party, as I and countless others predicted he would, while Vice Chair Arvin Vohra signed up for the Audacious Caucus and announced his own Senate campaign, and while the Audacious Caucus released its proposed platform.

Show them no mercy, my dude.

There unfortunately is little that I can do to help Arvin Vohra with his campaign, but I’ve signed up to do so as a general volunteer and offered my services as the owner of a tech consultant firm. My only regret is that he’s not running for my state, because I can think of no one better suited to be in the Senate than Arvin “Pull No Punches” Vohra.

Transphobia

I’ve seen many people accuse Arvin of being transphobic. This is abject nonsense stemming from the idea that anyone who doesn’t toe the social justice warrior line is some kind of phobic. Arvin is not and has never said anything that was remotely transphobic.

The primary point of contention is that Arvin dared point out the glaring conflict of interest that pharmaceutical companies have regarding transsexualism. This is an observation, not a judgment. Getting medical advice from pharmaceutical companies is like getting diet advice from Burger King. Pharmaceutical companies are trying to sell people stuff, and their advice is going to be biased toward selling people stuff.

It’s true that pharmaceutical companies would love the entire population to be lifelong purchases of cheap and easy-to-produce hormones. A transsexual person is a lifelong customer, and that’s going to remain the case until medical science advances to the point that we can use stem cells to grow a person their own replacement testicles or ovaries or whatever. In other words, it’s going to remain true for a very long time–decades, at the very least.

John McAfee once remarked that he spent an evening wining and dining a stunningly beautiful woman, whom he described as, “One of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.” And she turned out to be a drag queen. Although McAfee didn’t say, it was left implied that he walked away, and he remarked about it, “Once you’ve experienced that, you realize how mercurial perception really is,” or something to that effect. I’m sure some lunatics accused McAfee of being transphobic, but he clearly isn’t.

Earlier today I saw an article written by a trans woman about how straight men “should” be attracted to transsexual women, and that they’re homophobic if they aren’t. That’s the sort of SJWism that runs rampant, and anyone who disagrees with any aspect of their worldview becomes some kind of phobic. However, it’s bullshit. I’m not attracted to guys and find the notion of two guys kissing to be gross. It’s not because I’m homophobic; it’s because I’m not attracted to one guy, much less two. Meanwhile, there’s nothing more awesome to me than two women kissing.

I love chicks. I consider myself a lesbian. Technically, that makes me both sexist and homophobic. Although the reality is that everyone who isn’t omnisexual is sexist. If you’re a straight man or woman, then you’re sexist. If you’re a gay man or lesbian, then you’re sexist. The trans woman who wrote that article is sexist, because she didn’t point out that women should be interested in trans women. That sort of thinking is a rabbit hole of hypocrisy, because the truth is that everyone is sexist, and it doesn’t really matter. Why would she specify that men should be interested in trans women? Such a contention is automatically sexist itself, and an attempt to dictate her sexual preferences (noting her usage of that terrible word “should”) of heterosexuality (with her provision that trans women “should” simply be considered women) onto others. In effect, she was stating that men should be straight. So how dare she accuse anyone of homophobia while arguing such a blatantly homophobic thing.

And those are the kind of people who accuse Arvin of transphobia, so it’s best to take their accusations with a grain of salt.

Audacity

Arvin will fit in well with the Audacious Caucus. I’m up for Full Membership right now and expect to be voted in successfully, although I’m worried that my disagreements about identity politics with Outright Libertarians is going to hurt me. It shouldn’t, since the caucus exists to inspire audacity and not force 100% agreement among its members (if anything, one’s willingness to disagree should earn “Yea” votes, as long as the disagreement isn’t about the NAP), but one never knows.

The provisional platform is:

Platform of The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus

Preamble

The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus (LPAC) is an audacious group that puts principles first, setting personalities free. We assert the primacy of the Principle of Non-aggression enshrined in the Libertarian Party’s Statement of Principles. Our silence here pertaining to any particular subject should not be interpreted as indifference, but rather as an acknowledgement that our stance on the issue can be easily derived from our firm stance of non-aggression.

Instead, we choose to use this platform as a tool to set ourselves apart from other factions within the party. We choose to use this document to boldly proclaim what other Libertarians dare not whisper. The intent of the planks found here is to provoke and inspire those who fear a world set free in our lifetimes. Our goal is not to parrot those who have come before us, but to delineate what makes us unique.

We, the members of the Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus, proudly adopt the following platform:

Statement of Principles

The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus holds firm to the Principle of Non-aggression. Around the globe, people live, work and die under the shackles of the state. We stand as not only a challenge to the cult of the omnipotent state, but a threat to it.

We hold one goal above all others, a world set free in our lifetimes. We will not limit ourselves to one tactic, instead, we set individuals free to choose their own paths, asking only that they hold firm to the Non-aggression Principle.

We wish to see the Non-aggression Principle as a valuable vehicle for reshaping society into one that respects the rights of individuals. We know that replicating the failed ways of the old parties that dominate political discourse is a recipe for stagnation, not growth.

All we ask is that you lose your chains, and join us in our fight to liberate mankind. Be audacious!

I. Rothbard’s Button

The Audacious Caucus accepts incrementalism only as a last resort. Recognizing that social change can occur gradually, or through massive upheaval, we favor the method of change that gets us to our goal as quickly as possible. If we are to achieve a world set free in our lifetimes, we cannot fear change, we must embrace it. While the abrupt elimination of the state may have a negative impact on many of those who depend upon it, we see this as an acceptable trade for eliminating it as an impediment to achieving liberty. We advocate maximum freedom, achieved as quickly as possible, by any means necessary. The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus considers temporary chaos to be an acceptable risk, if the reward is a chance at a world set free from the tyranny of the state.

II. Criminal Justice

We believe that the state is an invalid institution, and thus we believe all convictions and punishments meted out by a state sponsored criminal justice system are equally invalid. We call for the immediate release of all persons currently incarcerated by the state and federal government, regardless of the nature of the offense for which they were convicted. We also demand the immediate expungement of all criminal records created by state and federal courts.

III. Drugs

The LPAC supports an end to the war on drugs. Our support is not limited merely to legalization of marijuana, we support the full removal of all government intervention in any drug usage, production, sale or distribution. We encourage individuals to reject the war propaganda that surrounds drug use. We support the individual right to experiment with any substance consumed voluntarily.

IV. Unions

We support the right of the people to voluntarily associate in, or to establish, labor unions. We believe that an employer may recognize a union as the collective bargaining agent of some or all of its employees. We oppose governmental interference in bargaining, such as banning of closed shop contracts. We demand that so called “Right to Work” laws be repealed. We recognize voluntary contracts between employers and labor unions as being legally and morally binding on the parties to such contracts.

V. Immigration and Borders

The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus is not for closing or opening national borders, it is for eliminating national borders. Borders exist only as the limit of the jurisdiction of gangs, competing over control of territory, resources and people. Until those gangs are tossed into the trash bin of history where they rightfully belong, we will tolerate them staying out of the movement of people across these arbitrary lines. We will fight against any attempt to enforce the tyrannical dictates that tear apart families and punish peaceful people for not asking permission to cross an imaginary line.

VI. War, Violence and Military

War, being state sanctioned mass murder, is steadfastly opposed by the LPAC. Its ramifications, economically and morally, are never justifiable. We do not accept the need for violence outside of defense, and disavow all those who voluntarily support the military, war or who participate in violence outside of defense.

VII. Policing

The police exist as the domestic enforcement arm of the gang known as the state. Without their constant aggression, the state would be powerless to enact the theft, coercion and degradation that is it’s modus operandi. There is no such thing as a “good cop” because by their very nature police are compelled to enforce edicts that even full blown statists would consider immoral. The LPAC rejects the Nuremberg Defense that “just following orders” is a valid excuse for immoral actions.

VIII. Children’s Rights

We believe that “children” are human beings and, as such, have the same rights as any other human beings. Any reference in this platform to the rights of human beings includes “children.” We believe that “children” have the moral authority to live their lives independent of externally imposed authority, and challenge the right of anyone to impose restrictions on them based solely upon their age.

IX. Reproductive Rights

Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good faith views on all sides, we believe that the state should be kept out of the matter. The state must repeal all existing laws that restrict, regulate or impose civil or criminal penalties on providers and patients for the production, distribution, or use of contraceptives, abortifacients or abortion procedures. Additionally, the state must not require medical professionals to provide their patients with any controceptives, abortifacients or abortion procedures. Furthermore, we oppose public funding of any controceptive or abortion procedure for the same reason we oppose public funding of any medical procedure or service.

X. Sex Worker’s Rights

Sex workers are the unsung heroes of freedom in America, many of our social freedoms were pioneered by prostitutes, strippers and porn stars throughout our history and continue today as the sex industry moves to capitalize on modern innovations. As such the Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus will take up the banner of sex work as a genuine and worthwhile profession that puts food on the table in thousands of American households. We oppose the regulation and banning of any area of this industry by moralizing busybodies. We support the repeal of all laws regulating or prohibiting the possession, use, sale, production or distribution of sexually explicit material. We reject the tying in of human trafficking with sex work and recognize that by pushing what could be a lucrative industry for millions of Americans into the shadows, it is those who oppose it that fuel human trafficking.

XI. Intellectual Property

Intellectual property exists as a form of government fiat over the ideas and property of all those under its jurisdiction. As technology advances through the innovative sharing of ideas and digital goods, it is up to those creating such goods to innovatively guarantee their own revenue stream, without reliance on government to protect their monopoly. We support an end to the war on file sharing and “piracy” which is both an immoral, and an ineffective, means of preventing the sharing of ideas.

It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it?

I included links to show that my position on these issues predates my membership in / exposure to the Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus, and to provide my reasoning to support those positions. Others may provide better reasons, but those are mine. I’ve intentionally not written about sex here, since I’m using the alias “Anarchist Shemale,” it’s important to me to maintain that distance, but I suppose I’ll have to now.

Anyway, so awesome stuff is happening! Join the Libertarian Party today. Our Vice Chair is about to rock the political arena.

Destroying Bigotry Through Relationships

One of the most interesting things that came about because of Porcfest 2017 is that I realized just how ignorant I am of “average” Muslim behavior. Given that I’m an atheist and have no more interest in Islam than I do Wicca or Zoroastrianism, I’m okay with that. I’m also an individualist, so I also make it a point to treat each person as an individual, not a homogenized blob because they happen to have this or that characteristic. I knew intellectually that all Muslims couldn’t fulfill “the stereotype,” but what stereotype is that? Certainly, there’s the “OMG TERRORIST” stereotype, but everyone except the most idiotic conservative knows that not all Muslims are terrorists. However, some idiotic conservatives do think that. I quote a local writer who recently gave me a copy of his book (yes, the book is trash) (and yes, the motherfucker signed it):

“There are no Peace-Loving Muslims, no Moderate Muslims, no Indifferent Muslims. No Radical Muslims. Just Muslims. A Muslim is a Muslim. Period.”

Yes, someone not only wrote that, but got it published in a book.

While most people wouldn’t go that far, it remains true that familiarity is the destroyer of stereotypes–which is the primary reason that I’m currently considering staying in Mississippi*. But before we get into that, let’s talk about paleo-libertarianism. The question of free markets and discrimination is one that a lot of people would like the answer to, because “let the free market deal with it” is not a satisfying answer when discussing people like me who could end up in situations where they can’t shop at critical stores because everyone in the area is transphobic/racist/homophobic/etc.

They have a point.

It doesn’t really make a difference that 50s era segregation was enforced by the state, because many of the business owners of that day would have carried on that policy regardless–and did so well into the 70s in some places. It’s a nice cop-out to be able to say, “There was nothing ‘free market’ about American segregation; it was legislated and enforced by the state, not the market.” Such a statement is true in a limited sense, but we can’t pretend like segregation and discrimination magically disappear if there’s a free market in place, because they don’t.

Last night I spent a while thinking about a friend of mine who immediately identified someone else as Jewish by their last name. Until this “someone else” told me so, I had no idea that he was Jewish, and even afterward it was worthy of nothing but a mental note. When I asked him how he identified the guy as Jewish, he said it was the last name, and that he knew most/all of common Jewish last names. Then I thought of the many borderline anti-semitic things this friend has said in the past. While he doesn’t deny the Holocaust happened, he does take a position closer to mine, that the truth is lost to history and that wartime propaganda twisted the story until it bears unknown  resemblance to the truth. It also occurred to me that, if asked, I would insist to people that this friend isn’t racist. Finally, I wondered whether that was true. Perhaps my own whiteness keeps me from being able to see his racism.

However, I was also repeatedly interrupted during every conversation at Porcfest a few weeks ago, and, when I mentioned this to someone, I was told that “Women traditionally didn’t have a voice at the politics table,” and that was why I was being interrupted. However, this was demonstrably false. It would have been all too easy to play the victim card and cry about sexism (it would also have been nonsense, given my voice), but instead I observed, and what I saw was everyone interrupting everyone else all the time, without regard to age, gender, or race. Seeing sexism in the interruptions would have been confirmation bias; if I went into it expecting to find that, that’s what I would have found, even though the issue is something larger and much more serious.

In fact, the idea that it was sexist struck me as odd from the start. Although hormones have certainly begun to affect my face and body, my hair still isn’t that long, and from some angles I don’t look very feminine at all. On top of that, my voice is certainly on the deeper end–an issue I haven’t yet worked out. Even wearing a dress, some people instinctively called me “he,” something else that I didn’t and don’t get worked up about (although, as I said to someone Friday night, there will come a time when calling me “he” must be intentional, but that’s after more physiological changes and, ideally, vocal surgery), and people tuning into Call to Freedom would have no idea that the person they were listening to identified as a chick. The idea behind the “They’re sexist” argument is that they’re sexist instinctively and without their conscious awareness, but that falls apart when instinctively they consider me a dude.

All that said, the entire reason my rant at Porcfest was so successful is that I’m transgender. How much power would my rant have lost if that wasn’t the case? Many people told me afterward that I broke through their stereotype of transgender people. One of the judges even said that he’d pre-judged me, and was surprised to have that prejudice shattered. I’m no stranger to stereotypes, and they aren’t really a problem; the only problem is when we cling to them and refuse to allow individuals to break them.

I’ve experienced this more than simply at Porcfest. A friend of mine has a grandmother who strongly disliked transgender people, and this friend handled it by showing her grandmother my posts on Facebook from a year ago about just wanting to live in peace. Stereotypes are built of straw people, and they very rarely apply fully, and sometimes they don’t apply at all. The reason they persist is due more to unfamiliarity than anything else. They imagine in their heads some amalgam of all the terrible things they’ve heard about this or that group, and various factors lead them to believe that their imagined person is representative of everyone in that group. It’s just human nature, and it’s not something to condemn people over.

I wouldn’t be able to fully explain my Straw Muslim. The Straw Muslim wasn’t a terrorist, but they were extremely devout–uncomfortably devout. Your Straw Southern Baptist is pretty much what my Straw Muslim looks like, and I’d go even further and suggest that your Straw Muslim also looks a lot like mine. And while the faith of the people involved with Muslims 4 Liberty cannot be doubted, they don’t fit the stereotype at all. Prior to meeting and spending a week with Will Coley et al., I had no idea how pervasive that perception of Islam was, but why else would I have been surprised by the generosity they showed during Ramadan? I’ve been equally surprised by some of the Christians I’ve met within libertarian circles, such as Thomas Knapp, and I’ve been surrounded by Christians most of my life. Prior to meeting some of these people, I probably would have said there’s no such thing as a moderate Christian. In fact, I’m sure I’ve said that in the past. And there’s no doubt: people like Thomas Knapp are entirely the reason I’ve eliminated anti-Christian rhetoric from my repertoire.

However, even as vehemently anti-Christian as I used to be (and I’m still anti-fundamentalist), I was more than willing to allow people their right to free association, and have been arguing in favor of that for years. I look back on an article I published about a year ago and badly want to remove it, because it’s so close to being anti-Muslim in its tone. And that came from myself; it came from within. There was no talk of individualism in that article. It was a lot of bullshit about social customs, integration, and assimilation. I’m positively embarrassed that I wrote that spiel, although that sentiment was present before I met people of Muslims 4 Liberty and goes back at least 7 months, to the first time I re-read the article.

Under no circumstances have I or would I ever deny service to someone because of their characteristics, it must be stated unequivocally, but most people aren’t like that. The same people who condemn Trump for his ban of Muslims also praise Canada for refusing to allow entry to members of the Westboro Baptist Church; the Westboro Baptist Church, on the other hand, would adamantly refuse to allow me into their building, and people like Steven Anderson (not with the WBC, but every bit as hateful and vile) whine and bitch when companies don’t want to do business with them, even as they explicitly refuse to do business with others.

We saw the same thing when Obama became president, and everyone who wanted to see his birth certificate was dismissed as a racist. The reality for most people, however, was something different: through their entire lives, an old white man had been in charge. Suddenly, a black, relatively young man was in charge. They were uncomfortable and afraid, not hateful. And while it’s true that fear often motivates horrific behavior, it didn’t on this occasion, and manifested primarily in cries that Obama was a Muslim or wasn’t from Kenya. It was a knee-jerk reaction to an unfamiliar situation, and one by one these people adapted and realized their world wasn’t coming to an end. Anyone still going on about Obama being a Muslim or a Kenyan is probably just racist and attempting to mask their racism with those allegations, but the birther movement died out because people adjusted and moved on, leaving behind only the racists.

It’s ultimately a matter of cognitive dissonance.

When Bob is told his entire life by his fundamentalist church that gay people are evil abominations, he’s going to experience cognitive dissonance when his best friend of 17 years, Jim, confesses to Bob that he is gay. At this point, Bob is presented with several choices for resolving the dissonance:

  1. My church is wrong. All gay people cannot be evil abominations, because Jim is gay and isn’t an evil abomination.
  2. Jim is wrong and isn’t really gay. He isn’t an evil abomination, and my church is right; ergo, Jim isn’t really gay.
  3. My church is right. All gay people are evil abominations. Therefore, Jim has managed to hide his evil from me for the last 17 years.
  4. On rarer occasions, Bob might craft a special exemption for Jim. “Jim is different… He isn’t like all the other gay people.”

Which of these Bob lands on is ultimately going to come down to trust and relationship importance. If his friendship with Jim is more important to him, then he will decide on #1. If both are equally important to him, he will decide on #2. If his relationship with his church and his religious beliefs are more important, he will go with #3. We can immediately see, then, that Jim has his work cut out for him; there aren’t many things that will be more important to Bob than his religious beliefs, because religious beliefs are “core beliefs” that form the foundation of other beliefs. Asking Bob to accept that his church/religious beliefs are wrong is a much greater thing than simply accepting that Jim is wrong, because Bob’s entire worldview stems from his religious beliefs. If we pull the foundation out from under his worldview, the entire thing collapses.

“Muslim call to prayer while hula-hoppers [sic] groove nearby.”

…And?

That’s a pretty awesome event to be at, if you ask me. People hula-hooping, people stoned, people drunk, people tripping, people dancing, people praying… Everyone getting along, everyone celebrating, and no one hating anyone else over squabbling differences… That sounds to me like a fucking utopia, not something that should be mocked or looked upon with disdain. Indeed, that’s how our entire society should be. I fail to see how anyone has a problem with “Everyone is doing their own thing, and everyone is friendly with everyone else. If they can’t get along, then they just leave each other be.”

In fact, Porcfest is proof that you can put Muslims, Jews, atheists, Christians, transgender people, straight people, gay people, black people, white people, Asian people, and all other people with various characteristics into a society together and end up with something that is really awesome. Yet this douchenozzle from CNN said this with disdain and contempt, and people who replied to the tweet made even more contemptuous remarks: “They don’t pay you enough to attend that crap.”

There are only three ways that liberty can work: homogeneity, diversity, and individualism.

Homogeneity is obviously broken as an idea–it’s simply impossible. There will always be differences between people, and those differences will always be highlighted. Hitler wanted to basically produce an all-white society, and what happened? The differences among white people were immediately targeted as points of divide: those with blond hair and blue eyes were considered superior to someone who had brown hair and brown eyes. By definition, a society can never be truly homogeneous. Even if Hitler had succeeded in eliminating everyone but white people with blond hair and blue eyes, the divisiveness wouldn’t have ended; instead, it would have become “tall people are superior to short people” or something else. I’d venture the statement that the more homogeneous a society is, the more petty are its points of division.

Diversity is flawed for other reasons. A homogeneous society of 99% white people (in addition to still being divided, as the previous paragraph contends) discriminating against the 1% black population can’t be fixed by “the free market” alone. However, what if the society is 75% white and 25% black, and the white population is uniformly racist? With these numbers, it’s true that the black population could simply shop at black-owned stores and work for black-owned businesses, but at this point we aren’t dealing with one society; we’re talking about two societies that just happen to reside in geographic proximity. This is still true if we add in an 80% straight population that doesn’t want to associate with the 20% LGBT population; we aren’t “uniting” society. We’re segregating it into many different societies.

It’s similarly true that diversity fails to take hold in homogeneous societies because of social pressures and economic concerns that often conspire to make it impossible for a person to “come out.” This is a problem that never magically vanishes, and there will always be one group or another who cannot openly admit to being in that group because of the adversity they will face upon doing so. Suppose our society was 99% Christian and 1% atheist, but no atheists were even allowed to speak out without being put to death (as was the case until about 300 years ago). Atheists would not be able to band together to create their atheist stores because coming out as an atheist resulted in death. Diversity requires openness, but there will always be disenfranchised people who simply aren’t allowed to be open about who they are.

Instead we could take the approach of individualism, that a person’s characteristics shouldn’t matter, and that a person should be judged by their actions and behavior rather than being judged over what characteristics they happen to have. This is precisely how Jim breaks through Bob’s anti-gay bigotry. Instead of being lumped into that foreign group that has been painted as a bogeyman by Bob’s church, Jim has an in-road directly to Bob’s heart by being his friend–someone he personally knows. When Bob accepts that Jim isn’t an evil abomination, it is because he isn’t lumping his friend into that group and therefore isn’t applying that group’s alleged qualities to his friend.

Often, we aren’t aware of what stereotypes we harbor, and we’re capable of harboring them regardless of how individualist we are. The destroyer of those stereotypes is the individualism that allows us to have a relationship with someone regardless of their characteristics. Only then can we see how wrong we were.

* As stated elsewhere, the state arresting me and extorting me for nearly $2,500 six months ago ravaged my bank account and basically put me back at square one, albeit with $250~ or so. If I pursue this avenue, all funds contributed to that campaign will be returned, either directly or via matching donations to donors’ campaigns.

LP Shenanigans & Live From Anarchist Shemale Fest Part 1 (Podcast)

As I mentioned previously, Will Coley (of Muslims 4 Liberty, www.lrn.fm, former Vice Presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party, and host of “Call to Freedom”) invited me with him to Somalia Fest and Porcfest this year. It took a bit of work, but I was able to wrangle up the funds to go and have the cushion for incidental problems, so expect articles to slow down through the next week.

However, I will be doing daily podcasts to pick up the slack, because I totally forgot to put together a laptop for the trip, writing articles from my phone is very slow, and I’m not entirely sure whether the laptop i grabbed at the last moment even works.

Those who know me probably know that I’m a bit anti-social, and if there was any reason I was going to back out (aside from being embarrassingly unable to afford what was basically a free vacation), it would have been that, or missing my cats. Oh, man, do I miss my cats.

Anyway, even barely knowing Will, I couldn’t pass up the chance to actually put in some work on the ground (especially since the MSLP, now that they’ve gotten money from me, has gone back to ignoring me), and it’s more or less exactly as I expected. This, of course, is Somalia Fest, considered the pre-Porcfest party, and is when most of the more audacious and anarchist types will arrive.

It does again make me wonder about the LP’s intention to, later this week, have an online meeting to discuss delegate rules and similar things, since many of the more audacious people are up here in the New Hampshire mountains, where, if you don’t have Verizon, then you don’t have service. Most people are officially off the grid.

The Audacious Caucus is actively working to stack the 2018 LNC, after all, and I’ve no doubt there are spies within the LPAC. It’s odd that, not long after we were discussing swarming the convention, the LP scheduled a meeting about delegate rules (and other things) at a time when many of the more radical and audacious types will be off the grid. I have no idea if that’s coincidental or not, but it’s highly suspicious.

There is a battle being fought for the heart of the party, with two distinct sides lining up for the fight: those who think the goal is to win elections, and those who think the goal is to use the enhanced coverage to spread the libertarian message, without much concern for actually winning or losing elections (I fall into this latter camp, obviously).

Only a few weeks ago, Larry Sharpe (who is probably fairly pissed at me presently, since I called him out for paying lip service to forgiveness, while acting more like a wife who “forgave” her husband for cheating, yet brings it up again every time there’s an argument–a claim he denied, but he failed to provide links to these discussions, and I provided links to support my assertion) insisted on “The Call to Freedom” that the purpose of the party is to win elections, and that it’s that simple.

Of course, much of this is due to the Dallas Accord and the Portland Massacre–in 2006, there were tremendous changes to the LP’s platform, and anarchists began leaving the party en masse because of the betrayal of the Dallas Accord. Even now, many moderates speak of trying to purge us from the party, or, at minimum, to change the rules of delegation selection to minimize our impact and voices.

This, of course, is how you end up with James Weeks doing a strip on stage on live television. There is much talk about purging or silencing anarchists and the audacious caucus; naturally, the harder they push, the more audacious we’ll become. I once did my work as I/E (Intellect over Emotion), and now I’m the Anarchist Shemale. And, as of about three weeks ago, have membership in the national and state parties. I’m a Libertarian. Know that, Republicans, before you swarm in and try to take over.

We’re not going to let another Bill Weld happen. I don’t think we’re going to let even another Gary Johnson happen.

That said, it’s hilarious that we are actively trying to build a compromise ticket of Sharpe/Coley, even though we don’t particularly care for Sharpe. He’s not bad; he’s alright. We can tolerate him. The question remains whether the centrists can meet us in the middle–they get Sharpe to head the ticket, and we get Coley to make sure that libertarian principles are represented.

“Compromise” is a word they love to use, but they tend to use it in its more modern liberal sense–“I get what I want, and you get to shut up and sit down, or go away if you don’t like it.” Yet, despite the ongoing hostility, we’re still willing and trying to forge a compromise.

It’s amusing, and it highlights the difference between Somalia Fest and Porcfest really well. Last night while trying to do an episode of “Call to Freedom” with Will, a fully naked chick wandered into the van from which we were doing the show. That’s Somalia Fest.

I also recorded the first of several podcasts, this one featuring Bill Paxton, Ian of Free Talk Live, Will Coley, and myself.

Identity & Conflict

Through most of my life, I considered myself a boy. I was such a dude that it still bothers me to see men wearing pink, and I’ve said countless times that the shirt that says “Real men wear pink” is stupid–real men avoid wearing pink at all costs. I wore boxers, shaved my head, and had a bad ass goatee. No one in their right mind would have looked at me and suspected that I was anything but ordinary heterosexual male.

I drank beer, ate steaks, had a wife, knew how to work on automobiles, knew how to repair washing machines, and all the usual stuff. Yet the person there in that pic–that’s me. That person in that pic who five minutes before or after would have laughed at a guy for wearing a pink shirt–that’s me. That person who would have sneered if someone offered him a wine cooler over a Bud Light–that’s me.

Recently, Caryn Harlos has called me a revisionist making the party look silly because I say that Nolan was, and always was, an anarchist, even if he identified in the past as a minarchist. Speaking as a transgender person, I know exactly how this goes, and that’s why I bring all of this up. There is a lot of truth to the idea that a M2F trans person will embrace the most masculine aspects of being a male. It’s not an accident that I shaved my head, had a goatee, lifted weights, wore muscle shirts, and all the other shit. One might say I was overcompensating.

Yet the truth always bled through, often unbidden and without conscious intent, and I wondered about it for years. I remember remarking to a friend several years ago that I am, and always have been, an enthusiastic supporter of LGBT rights, but that I wasn’t sure why. I’m not gay or bisexual, so why should I be such an Ally that it consumed probably 10% of my political discussion? It didn’t make much sense. This was the transgenderism bleeding through subconsciously, without my knowing it or realizing it.

Of course, you could ask my ex-wife (from whom I divorced for reasons entirely unrelated to any of this) about other ways my transgenderism bled through. I mentioned in Dancing in Hellfire that my cousin enjoyed wearing makeup when we played various games, but as early as kindergarten I loathed makeup. Our kindergarten teacher forced us all to put on lipstick to kiss a paperplate (making a thing for our parents), and I resented her from that day forward. Makeup was for girls, and I wasn’t a goddamned girl. Only because I was a freak (what people today would call “goth”) did eyeliner get a pass, and only then because it looked so freaking awesome, and that was much later.

There were always periods, though, no matter how masculine I presented myself, and no matter how generally conformist I was to sexual stereotypes of heterosexuality, it always bled through. I’ve described being transgender and having to repress it as desperately needing to breathe, but being able to breathe only in short, very sporadic gasps. But no matter what I did, no matter how I attempted to hide it–often from myself–it always bled through. My grandmother would find women’s clothing hidden between my mattresses. I wore them when I could, while at the same time hating myself for wearing them, knowing that I was betraying some other part of me.

It was conflict, pure and simple.

Conflict between who I was and the identity that I proclaimed–the identity that I believed in.

And now look at me.

Who would ever have guessed that the person in the above pic was not truly the person he identified as? Who would have guessed that the goatee, the shaved head, the muscles, the Bud Light, the steaks, and all the other things… were just ways of masking the true behavior that underwrote so much of what I said and did?

Because it’s true. I wore my girlfriend’s prom dress before she did–and she thought it was hot. I had long hair through most of high school, too. At one point, my hair fell below my breasts. This same girlfriend gave me tons of panties, yet at every given moment I’d have insisted that I was not even a cross-dresser, that I was adamantly against the notion of transgenderism. I’m sure that I’ve in the past said “Boys are boys and girls are girls, and that’s that.”

When the True Self conflicts with the Expressed Self, there are contradictions–often glaring contradictions.

It would be the height of transphobic ignorance to look back at that first pic, of me with a goatee, and say that I was clearly just a male, that I was only a male, and that I was not, even then, transgender. I most certainly was. I was even female then. I simply repressed it because, for various reasons that are often unique to the individual, I could not accept it, and I was not ready to accept it.

Several, several years ago, I mentioned to a friend that if my ex-wife and I ever divorced, I would move to California and get a sex change operation. I told this to another friend, too–one that you could almost call a boyfriend, except that it wasn’t like that for me. When he brought this up again a year later, I adamantly denied it. Even though I had told him to his face that I felt like a girl and wanted to pursue that, when he mentioned it later, I abjectly refused to admit that I’d said that. I told him he was taking it out of context and making it to be a much bigger deal than it was. Readiness often comes in phases, rarely does it come all at once.

Nolan’s early writings, particularly his written declaration of the case for a Libertarian Party, have anarchism bleeding through it in exactly the same way that transgenderism bled through so much of my life, even as I identified as a male and sought desperately to hide any indication that I wasn’t quite normal. We see in Nolan’s other writings exactly the same conflict that we saw in me when I said “real men don’t wear pink.” Coming to term with oneself and making that final leap is often extremely difficult, but it shines through, and nothing can dim the inner light of the true self.

When such a conflict arises, how shall we form an understanding of the person? Through their often-confused and often-contradictory expressions and positions, or through the inner light that bleeds through no matter how adamantly it is denied, and is only embraced much later in life? Should we embrace the identity of the person as they express themselves while clearly embroiled in internal conflict, or should we be more understanding and accept their internal conflict as just that–internal conflict that was only resolved much later in life? Nolan denied being an anarchist and expressly stated that he was a minarchist with exactly the same fervor and tenacity with which I stated that I was a normal heterosexual male.

But I was never a normal heterosexual male, and Nolan was never a minarchist.

So, no. Caryn Harlos is wrong. Nolan was an anarchist, even back then, and it clearly bleeds through in his early writings in exactly the same way that female clothing bled through my otherwise-normal male adolescence. That I claimed to be a normal male didn’t make me one; that Nolan claimed not to be an anarchist didn’t prevent him from being one. It merely prevented him from coming to terms with what was already then shining through.

But apparently I’m a revisionist for saying that, clearly, Nolan was always an anarchist. If so, then I’m a revisionist for saying that I was always transgender.

Moreover, I can claim right now to be a minarchist. That won’t make me one. I could just as easily call this site “The Minarchist Shemale” and write pretty much the same things, though occasionally throwing out contradictory articles about how we need a state to protect us from a state. None of that would make me a minarchist, though–it would only make me confused about who I am and what I believe.

I’d rather take the word of the person who has worked through that confusion and expressed an identity that is in accord with their inner identity than to arbitrarily cling to the confused contradictions of someone struggling to come to terms with their identity.

But that’s just me…

Rest in Peace, Sleeping Dogs & Mariner Durant

Libertarian mayoral candidate for Meridian has been shot to death in the woods outside of his home, according to Mississippi’s local paper The Clarion  Ledger, and there is a bit of confusion regarding the circumstances. See, not long ago, Mariner Durant withdrew from the mayoral race, citing law enforcement officials who had advised him to withdraw because of death threats–there is no evidence of this suggestion, or indication of what law enforcement officer or official he may be referring to. Meridian is about three hours southeast of where I live (I’m right at the Mississippi/Tennessee border, so generally am more a Memphisian than a Mississippian), but I supported his candidacy nonetheless. Even though he supported Johnson/Weld–at the local, mayoral level that isn’t a big enough deal for me to refuse to support a candidate. Only in the national spotlight would that be a point of concern for me. While it did bother me that he never liked, replied to, or shared anything I wrote to him, I understand why, and held no grudge against him for it–being a libertarian in Mississippi is hard enough without having an openly trans ally.

C’est la vie.

Photo courtesy of the Clarion Ledger.

But now he’s dead.

Here are the facts as we know them:

  • Mariner Durant withdrew from the mayoral race, citing threats to his safety and the advice of unknown law enforcement.
  • Mariner Durant was found shot to death in the woods outside of his home, shortly thereafter.
  • Local police are ruling it a suicide, though are bringing in the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Most people seem to take the local police’s word for it that it’s a suicide, and that Mariner likely had some sort of psychosis or paranoia where these threats were imagined, and that this psychosis ultimately led to his suicide. That’s certainly a valid interpretation, and we’ll probably never know.

Now let me tell you some stuff about Mississippi.

Several years ago, we had a murder (on a street where one of my best friends lives) occur that was so barbaric and horrific that it made national news. This 18 year old girl was forced to imbibe lighter fluid (or gasoline), and was burned alive. All evidence suggests that she was with someone she knew and trusted, and the last visible sign of her was at a gas station where she bought gasoline and showed no signs of distress, and the other, unidentified person, was in the car. You may remember this, because it was truly a horrific crime.

Now let me tell you some other stuff that the national media missed.

The girl’s father is a police officer who served time in prison for cooking and selling methamphetamine before becoming a cop. Read that sentence again, because nothing shows how strongly filial attachments can pull the strings of people in Mississippi than the idea that a former meth dealer came out of prison and became a police officer.

Now let me tell you more stuff the national media missed.

The girl was a drug-addict and prostitute (when she needed the drugs or the money to buy the drugs), and had recently stolen $400 from a man by selling him fake pills. I used to be addicted to pain killers myself. I know that game well. One of the people I bought pills from was found several years ago in a ditch, with a bullet in his head, and neither I nor my father have any doubt: he screwed over the wrong person. It only takes once. And he screwed me over repeatedly*. Now, when you’re a drug addict, that won’t keep you from going back to them if you can’t find anyone else. My dad and I once took him to a trailer park around midnight, and he wanted us to give him $100 while he ran in to get the pills for us. We knew better than to do that. We’d give him the money, and we wouldn’t hear from him for months.

Yet there’s more to this “person who was robbed for $400” than most people know. For one, he’s a known arsonist, and helped burn down a building for its owner to collect the insurance money. Everyone around knows and knew it was arson, and knows exactly who did it–even the police. But this person… This person is above the law. This person has very high connections in politics extending at least to the governor of the state. This person has also been involved in at least one murder.

So let’s have a recap.

18 or 19 year old girl (I don’t remember her name) who is a drug addict and hooker and whose father is a cop who went to prison for cooking and selling meth before becoming a police officer was found murdered in one of the most awful ways imaginable shortly after stealing $400 from a known arsonist and person known to be “above the law.” Additionally, many, many people suspected that the girl was an informant–wouldn’t you?–and I know damned well that this accusation is often enough to get you killed. If you do heroin and your dealer thinks you’re an informant, he’ll lace your next batch, you’ll die, and no one will ever know it happened. There are few things as lethal as being accused of being an informant.

Oh, we need to also mention that the girl’s parents were racist and that she had a history of dating black men, often to the point that she’d been kicked out on several occasions and ended up living with her black boyfriends and their families. This isn’t a thing in and of itself, but it’s something to consider about the girl’s parents. Let’s see… What else…? There are so many Sleeping Dogs in this story that it’s hard to remember them all, and I followed it very closely–like I said, one of my best friends lives on the street that she was murdered on. This happened like fifteen minutes from where I live.

How does this story end? It doesn’t. Eventually, the murder was “solved!” rather innocuously last year–or the year before–when a seemingly random black guy who was already serving time in Louisiana was pinpointed as the murderer, despite his name never having been mentioned before or since in any context related to the girl. Because the Internet Detectives went to work, man. They dug up all her ex-boyfriends, harassed them on Facebook, and all kinds of shit. This dude’s name never got mentioned. No news article, no Internet Detective, no whisper among the community…

You know what the whispers around the community were?

Everyone knew who did it, but no one was going to say it. “They went too far,” was what people said. “They went too far with what they did.” Everyone knew who, and everyone knew why. But, if you knew, would you talk, knowing that everyone else knew already, and knowing what had happened to the girl?

No.

So the sleeping dog sleeps.

I know of a family who lives on the edge between two counties with a similar “above the law” status. No one touches them, no matter how horrific their actions have been. They’ve been known to openly torture and murder dogs and cats, tying them to trees and to four-wheelers, and quartering them in a more Modern American way. The sheriffs know about this. They know about the allegations of rape, of people going missing, of child abuse. They know the property extends back mile after mile of woods and empty tankers that contain God-knows-what, and they know there may very well be victims in those tankers screaming right now. But County A says they’re in County B, and County B says they’re in County A. So no one does anything about the crimes alleged, much less known.

I don’t know what happened to Mariner Durant. I have no idea if he has a history of paranoid or schizophrenic behavior, but, if he does, this is the first anyone will have heard about it (which wouldn’t really be the case, since they’d have used that against him in the mayoral race, but, hey, let’s forget that for the moment).

But I do know that Mississippi has lots and lots of sleeping dogs. And if he posed a threat of accidentally or purposely waking one of them, then it’s not at all beyond belief that he’d have been killed for it, whether he withdrew from the race or not. Once you threaten one of those dogs, that’s often all it takes, even if you back down.

Just ask the man who went to prison for cooking and selling meth and then became a cop.

Regardless, it sucks that this libertarian candidate is dead, and I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish he hadn’t withdrawn, and I wish he had won the election. I wish there weren’t so very many things wrong in Mississippi.

* That sounds freaking awful. My point is that he had a known history of screwing people over. He was found dead long after I got out of that game.

The Blood I Cried

Want to read the whole story? Well, now you can! For a limited time (until June 15), Dancing in Hellfire is finally available for sale, for only $3.49. You can buy it here, through this very site, using PayPal or a typical credit/debit card (payment is processed by PayPal, so I don’t see the info), after which you’ll be given access to the book as both a PDF and an ePub.

Introduction

Whether being four years old and watching one of my parents’ friends shoot up peanut butter on our couch and dying before my eyes; whether being effectively kidnapped at the age of eight by my meth-addicted mother and forced to endure a summer of being too poor to buy food, with our water turned off due to non-payment, and with mom being beaten mercilessly by a violent alcoholic; whether coming to terms with her disappearance like something out of a murder mystery show; or whether being transgender in the midst of all of this and trying desperately to come to terms with it while surrounded by a fundamentalist Christian family that forced me to not merely repress who I was but also to forget who I was, I have seen a great deal of tragedy.

It’s strangely easy to forget how devastating all of this must truly have been, even as I was the one who experienced it, because it’s easy to forget how it truly felt to lie awake, crying and listening to the sounds of shattering glass as my mother was thrown brutally through windows. It’s easy to forget how angry I have the right to be at my father and grandmother, for forcing me to oppress myself and attempting to turn me into something that I am not.

Today I am a transgender woman and resident of the state of Mississippi. This is as frustrating, difficult, and dangerous as one would expect, but I survive, and I roll with the punches. I have no choice, just as I had no choice those early mornings as I bore witness to horrific domestic violence.

So this is my story–a story of how low human depravity can sink, but also how the human spirit can stand resilient and refuse to surrender. However, I know that I am one of the lucky ones. The majority of people who endure such childhood trauma, and who are forced by religiously oppressive authorities to repress their own natures, are not so fortunate. Most of the former lose themselves in a sea of drugs that allow them to forget, while the latter often lose themselves to the blade of a razor. Yet I know, because I have lived it, that we can survive the struggles–and not merely survive, but become stronger through them.

Where to begin, in this sordid tale of devils and demons?

My family is exactly what one would expect of a north Mississippi lower middle class / upper lower class white Christian family; it was only a few years ago that I first heard the acronym WASP, but I have to admit: aside from its redundancy, there is no more apt description of my family. They are almost stereotypical in how typical they are of an ordinary white fundamentalist Christian family from the southern United States.

Everyone in Mississippi isn’t like that, however, which is a point I’ve tried to stress in the past: Mississippi does contain many people like myself. As a friend recently put it, “We grew up in an area that is run-down, poor, and stupid, over all, where most of the populace is indoctrinated by religious nonsense to the point where they can’t even recognize rational thought. We pushed through what it takes to fit in here, and we defined ourselves. That’s something to embrace and be proud of.”

My friends and I have reached the end of a long and grueling journey that was filled with adversity and people who would use any means at their disposal—terrorism, fear, violence, and coercion—to bend us to their wills, and we’ve looked back at the paths we traveled and rejoiced that we survived and stayed true to ourselves. Friends are priceless when one is transgender in a family full of fundamentalist Christians.

Both of my paternal grandparents would reject me entirely—they do not yet know, and they will be among the last to know, since I see them only a few times a year. “You don’t know how they’ll react,” I’ve had people tell me. “Give them a chance. Sometimes people surprise you.”

With all due respect, those allies and friends have no idea the type of people we’re really dealing with. My Mississippian friends know better, too; they know that there is no chance that my family will ever welcome me at Christmas dinner as a female. When my grandfather (who, for the record, is on his tenth or eleventh wife) learned that my sister was living with her boyfriend, he wrote her a lengthy letter, wherein he quoted Biblical passages and called her a whore. When my grandmother found girls’ clothes hidden between my mattresses, she wanted to send me to a foster home and asserted that she would not have that in her house. If they had thought I was gay, they would have sent me to one of those awful “pray the gay away” camps.

This isn’t to say that I’m perfect, and acknowledging my own faults and mistakes will be the most difficult part of writing this. I have made plenty of mistakes and stupid decisions that brought people around me severe difficulty and hardship, particularly regarding past relationships.

My memory is also not perfect, and I am likely to make mistakes, and, given that some of the information comes from extremely unreliable sources (like my father), some of that can’t really be helped. It doesn’t matter, though. The point of this is to show how awful parenting shaped me, and the countless lies that my dad told me are part of that. I strive for honesty, integrity, and sincerity in all things. Consider this my vow that everything within is, to the best of my knowledge, the unaltered truth, except that names have been changed.

South Pontotoc

I was born premature, thankfully, since the umbilical cord had wrapped around my throat and I was choking to death. This was surely a result of my mother’s cigarette smoking and eating painkillers while pregnant. My father insists that she didn’t do drugs while she carried us, but… Yeah, she did.

I certainly don’t remember my birth, but I do remember some things from shortly after my birth. Though my family says there is no way I could remember it, my introduction to the world came with overwhelming confusion: I was in some sort of cradle, and the back of my right hand hurt because a number of needles and tubes penetrated my flesh. The details are blurry and fuzzy, as one would expect from such early memories, but the needles burned and itched. They irritated me, and I wanted them out. I was afraid and confused, with no idea why these things penetrated my hand and no understanding of what was going on. I knew only that I was hurting and helpless to do anything about it.

Confusion—pure confusion. I didn’t even have a sense of self. I had no idea that I existed, that I was a baby in a hospital, and that I was a being. I could feel the needles in the back of my hand, and they hurt. The pain, however, was not unbearable, and wasn’t the main facet of that moment. It was confusion. I was not afraid—I didn’t have enough self-awareness for the confusion to make me scared. I simply knew nothing. I was a blank slate, onto which was being written reality in the ink of experience. I didn’t even know that I was a blank slate. I knew only that I hurt, and that I was confused. I was not in the arms of a loving mother whose warmth brought me comfort. I did not stare up and into the eyes of a nurse who was delighted to see a baby growing healthier by the hour. I was not being cooed by an older brother, or rocked in the cradle while a loving grandparent read a story. I was alone and hurting in a room bathed in fluorescent light.

That was my first experience with the world. That was how I was introduced to the universe—in the sterilizing, emotionless light of an empty hospital room, not the gentle and soothing light of a home. I heard the beeps and sounds of monitoring equipment, not the joyous laughter of a loving family. I lie alone in a hospital contraption with the shrill, uncomfortable hospital sheets, not wrapped in a blanket and the arms of a doting mother.

And the worst part—the indisputable worst part—is that I remember this.

The first few years of my life were probably normal, about what anyone would expect from a southern, lower middle class white family that subsisted more on the successes of previous generations than the merits of its own. There were some oddities, though, and signs even then of who I really was, but it was the mid-80s. It wouldn’t really be fair to blame my parents for not recognizing and embracing that I was transgender.

Of course, I was born male, “with a penis and everything.” But whenever all of my underwear was dirty, my mother would put me in my sister’s panties; it wasn’t a punishment, to clarify. Being the clever child that I was, I began hiding all of my underwear, just so that I could tell my mom that I didn’t have any, and so that I could wear panties instead. Somewhere around three years old, I took all of my underwear and threw them into the back of a closet that no one ever opened, and then I reported to my mother that, strangely, all of my underwear was suddenly gone.

So when I say that I’ve been transgender since birth, it’s as close to “since birth” as one can get. I couldn’t have been older than three years old at that point, because my sister hadn’t begun kindergarten herself. I knew then that I preferred women to men: I loved my mother and sister, and, even at that age, I had a deep appreciation for feminine beauty. I also thought that my Aunt Diane was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, and my mother used to make fun of me for my enamorment with my aunt.

My experience with men at this point was limited to my father (who was fat and not overly pleasant to look at), my brother (who was thin, but who had nothing on my mother), my grandfather (who was also overweight, and a jerk), and my Uncle Danny (who has always been an asshole). Although it’s typical for young boys to love their mothers, I wanted to be just like mine, and I suspect that had a lot to do it with, but who can say? I was three when it began, and I simply wanted to be a girl.

I had a blanket (what most people would call a “blankie,” though I never called it that), and it was one of those cotton-threaded ones similar to fishnet. I refused to sleep without it and my pillow. The pillow actually wasn’t that important, but the pillowcase certainly was. I rubbed the pillowcase between my finger and thumbnail, sleeping on the central heating vents in the floor and driving my father crazy with all of it.

A Look at My Father

I would love to say that my father isn’t a bad man.

But he is.

That’s a difficult thing to say and accept, but I have to stress that it doesn’t really make me love him any less, and that the dominant emotion I have for my father is pity. Even so, I would be lying if I said that he was a good man who simply made some mistakes; that isn’t the case at all. He’s a bad man who has made some good decisions, not a good man who has made a few bad ones.

His own childhood was no walk in the park, damaged by my alcoholic and abusive grandfather beating the hell out of my grandmother. Though not much of that has been shared with me, I can certainly relate to what he has said, and it’s clear the recollections are as painful to him as it is for me to recall the abuse my mother endured at the hands of alcoholics.

At some point, my grandparents divorced—Go, grandma!—because my grandmother wouldn’t put up with the abuse. My grandmother is easily worthy of her own story, because she is an unsung hero of the feminist movement without even trying. In the sixties and seventies, she left her violent husband and blazed her own path in Mississippi, won the house in the divorce, and then worked at a college until she retired at the age of 67.

True to the family history, my grandmother endured her own screwed up childhood, and was even sent away by her mother to live with Uncle Bill and Aunt Edna on their farm. Evidently, Aunt Edna didn’t like my grandmother one bit, and was very unkind to her. What internal strength caused my grandmother, in what must have been the 40s, to graduate as the valedictorian of her class? What quiet resolve allowed my grandmother to learn the necessary skills to work in the administration section of a college during the 60s?

These are questions to which I would love answers, but I’ll never have them, because they are not things that my grandmother is willing to discuss. Questions about her past are met with short answers, and I can’t blame her for not wanting to talk about it.

On one particular drunken rampage, my father held a gun on my grandfather so that my grandmother could limp out of the house. While I truly hate that he had to do such a thing in the first place, I’m also jealous that he was old enough to do something about it. When my mother suffered under Everett’s hands, I was in the second grade, and too young and weak to do anything to intervene.

For years, my father insisted that he was drafted to Vietnam, and he even talked about how he was called a murderer and spit upon when he returned. Eventually my sister and I realized that there’s no way this is true. Either he was actually the oldest between him and his brother (and thus wouldn’t have been drafted), or the Vietnam War ended when he was 16. In this little alternate reality he had constructed, he had to be older than our mother was (which was blatantly false—she had always been recognized as the older one), his brother had to be lying about his own age, and almost everyone had to have falsified birth records.

He changed his story to say that he was in Vietnam during the 80s, through another offensive that we did, but I have been unable to find any military record for him. Whether he actually fought in Vietnam, he did mislead us into believing he’d fought in the Vietnam War, which is a lie of such magnitude and scope that one has to marvel at it.

He is a religious man, though it’s hard to tell by his behavior: heavy drug usage, constant lies, and steady manipulation. Although he is less religious than other family members are, his secularism is applied selectively, and he’s generally as fundamental as everyone else is. He continues to believe that President Obama is a Muslim, is more or less openly racist, and is a diehard Republican, despite that he’s effectively a ward of the state who benefits substantially from liberal policies.

I obviously don’t see eye-to-eye with him, but we do have some similar interests. It was he who introduced me to Fantasy literature and tabletop gaming, both of which almost immediately became passions for me. In turn, I exposed him to the tenth installment of a popular roleplaying video game, and I’m still happy that I was able to show him to something that he enjoyed so immensely. He must have played through it a dozen times, and he certainly discovered more of its secrets than I ever would have.

There is some kinship between us, and I do love him, despite the numerous differences, and in spite of the fact that he has done me far more harm than good. More than anything, I pity him, because his childhood evidently destroyed him; he is one those who did not escape unscathed. He was swallowed by the mentality that the world owes him something, and oblivious to the reality that the world will never give it.

The rifts between us began because I was not the son that he wanted. He hated that I loved sleeping on the heating vents—I’ve always loved heat. I wouldn’t sleep anywhere else. I had to sleep on one of the floor vents, and the heat had to be on. There in the floor, I had the pillow and pillowcase that I refused to sleep without, and the blanket that I required as I slept.

My father hated all of these things. We went to visit some relatives at one point, and I left my blanket and pillow at home. With no other way to shut me up, my parents took me to a store to get a new pillow, and there I went from one to the next, tearing open the plastic just slightly, and “testing” it until I found one that was satisfactory. When we got back to our trailer a few nights later, dad went outside and told me to bring my pillow.

As I stepped out into the night air, I saw him kneeling just outside the small stone circle beside our front steps. It had once been a flower garden—conceived during one of mom’s highs, when she was bolstered with energy from painkillers. The high wore off, but the flowers remained in that little circle of rocks—at least for a while. Then they died, shriveled, neglected, and forgotten.

Almost like a demon out of a child’s horror story, there was my dad, grinning devilishly and eagerly, urging me to throw my old pillow onto a mess of crumbled newspapers soaked in lighter fluid as he held his flaming lighter above it. “We need to burn it!” he said, but I refused. There was no need to burn it. They were already making me throw it away—they were already making me discard this pillow that I loved and had slept with every night for years. Was that not enough?

“We need to burn it!” he said again, as I ran inside and cried to mom that dad wanted to burn the pillow that I loved. It may seem strange that I had such attachment to a pillow, but I did, and both of my parents knew it. My father certainly knew very well that I loved that pillow.

That’s why he wanted to burn it. Because I loved it.

We didn’t burn random things, and I doubt that we ever burned anything there at all. He wasn’t content to force me to throw away this pillow, the symbol that I was an emotional person and not the crass son that he apparently wanted. The pillow had to be destroyed in flames because I loved it, and because “real men don’t love.” This silly, feminine weakness, this emotional attachment to an object—it had to be gotten rid of, and in the most dramatic way possible.

It was not the pillow that my dad wanted to burn.

It was my heart.

My mother intervened, though my father came inside and continued insisting that we needed to burn the pillow, because he was afraid that I would be able to talk my mother into letting me keep it. One has to wonder why it was an issue that I wanted to keep it. In the end, I placed it gingerly on top of the garbage can in the kitchen and told it goodbye. I hated to do so, and I cried, because it didn’t make sense to me.

It’s understandable that I developed such strong emotional ties to objects, as neither parent spent much time with me, and there was not much hugging in the family. Mom and dad were always high on one drug or another, lying on the couch and borderline comatose. I don’t know how Brandi handled it then, or what she did in order to get through the long and miserable days, but it was surely as awful for her as it was for me. Unlike our older brother, we didn’t have friends with whom we could go hang out. Or, at least, I didn’t. Brandi was friends with a girl who didn’t live too far from us, and I hope that my sister was happy then.

Aunt May and Kay-Kay

For a while, mom did work, as did my father. While Brandi and Eric were gone to school and my parents were at work, I was babysat by our great aunt who lived next door, a relatively kind woman who I remember as mostly humorless. My father fleeced her out of most of her money, just as he did to my great-grandmother, and just as he is currently doing to my grandmother. However, I was too young to comprehend that, and there isn’t much that I remember about Aunt May.

It was horrendously boring at Aunt May’s. There were few places worse for my pre-school self. I wasn’t allowed to take my Nintendo, which left me there alone with an eighty-year-old woman and very little to actually do, because there was no one to play with and nowhere to play at. Aunt May wasn’t unkind, but she was also not particularly joyful. I don’t blame her for that—she was a very old woman, and probably not happy to babysit a four-year-old.

I should have been outside having fun, rather than sitting in a living room with an eighty-year-old woman and playing with paper dolls that she cut out of a magazine. Of course, such things seem droll only from a modern perspective, but I was accustomed to video games and cartoons, the heightened entertainment possibilities of the late 1980s. In the 1880s, a child would have been thrilled to sit on a couch in an air-conditioned house and idle away the hours with paper dolls.

However, imagine the horrified response one would get if a modern child was asked to spend day after day in that environment, with only a very old woman as company. There would probably be allegations of child abuse, though I’m not making that claim. However, many modern parents would likely consider that to be, at the least, borderline child abuse. To me, it was simply boring, and the time passed so slowly that I probably lived more moments there at Aunt May’s house than all the moments I have lived since.

I don’t intend any of this to be disparaging to Aunt May. I have no doubt that she did the best she could, and significantly better than many people in her position would have. Still, I dreaded those days when both parents had to work, and it was routine for me to ask mom each afternoon, “Do you have to work tomorrow?”

Aunt May had a moustache, as well, but I never noticed it. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and I was shown a picture of her that I learned she had a moustache. I was pre-kindergarten when I spent time with Aunt May, so the idea that a woman didn’t have facial hair wasn’t in my head yet, so it seemed perfectly normal to me. My father had a moustache and Aunt May had a moustache. Cars had tires, and houses had walls.

One horrible day, as Aunt May sat in her recliner, concealed from view of the kitchen as I sat on the couch near the front door, there was suddenly a crash in the kitchen. The backdoor entered into the kitchen, and I will never forget the fear that fell over this old woman’s face. Someone had broken in through the back door.

She and I hid in the living room, cowering in the corner behind her chair. I don’t believe she ever called the police (she didn’t have a phone), or did anything about it, but my memory of that ordeal is vague. I recall only the noise, the unmistakable terror in her eyes that I was able to recognize even at four years old, and the hiding.

Because she was very old, it simply wasn’t possible for Aunt May to always babysit me, and I had another sitter called Kay-Kay—a hefty, middle-aged woman who seemed to be doing pretty well in life. She had a house, at least, which I recognized to mean that she was okay—we lived in a trailer, and most of the people we knew lived in a trailer. Living in a house… That was a grand thing to me. I didn’t mind that we lived in a trailer, and I was much too young to know that being the child of two fast-food workers (even if they were supervisors) who raised Confederate flags, shot up heroin, and ate Xanax made me the definitive example of “trailer trash,” but I knew that it was a great thing to have a house.

Kay-Kay was an ordinary woman, and there was much going on beneath the surface that most people never saw. As I sat in one of her bedrooms, playing a video game, there was suddenly a banging on the door and people shouting, demanding to be allowed inside and promising that, if Kay-Kay refused, they would tear the house down.

Although I was shocked and scared at first, Kay-Kay put my fears to rest by handling it expertly. She answered in an almost aloof way, as though she had no concern about it. Even as they banged and screamed, I was unafraid, because Kay-Kay didn’t appear to take it seriously. After a minute or so, the banging stopped, and then the rhythmic pounding echoed through her home, coming from somewhere in the back.

“They’re going to tear the house down!” I shouted to Kay-Kay, scared once more. In my head, I had the image of two enormous, burly, and angry men outside with huge hammers, smashing away the bricks and crashing through the walls.

“Oh, no, they’re not, sweetie,” came Kay-Kay’s reply as she dropped to a knee and hugged me. “They’re just mad. They’ll get over it and leave in a few minutes.”

Sure enough, Kay-Kay was right: they did leave shortly thereafter. In actuality, they probably just had given up on the front door and gone to try the back door. Finding it locked, they banged and shouted some more, and then left. I never learned what it was about, and Kay-Kay asked me not to mention it to my parents, which made sense: that isn’t the sort of thing a mother wants happening at the selected babysitter’s home. I didn’t stay quiet, though, and that was the last time Kay-Kay ever babysat me. It was also the last time that I saw her.

The Rise of Tumult

There was a “friend of the family” called Doc, and I liked him a lot. Everyone liked Doc—he was a friendly, charismatic person. Being my parents’ friend, he was heavily on drugs, but Doc was also in a motorcycle gang, which created a problem, because shooting up was explicitly against the gang’s laws. Just to be clear here: this is the world I grew up in. This was normal to my three-year-old self. On any given day, I was likely to see one or both of my parents shoot up heroin with a buddy who was in a motorcycle gang, smoke a joint or two, and collapse onto the couch in a stupor and droning out “Yeah…” to no one.

I watched my mother, laid out on the loveseat, look to my father on the other side of the living room. She held up, toward my father, a syringe full of some red liquid, and then she asked in a seductive voice, “John, do you want some of this?” And as she spoke, she pressed in the syringe and sent a jet stream of this stuff—whatever it was—flying across the living room. They were both out of their minds, just high as hell.

Disheveled, frantic, panicked, and terrified, Doc stopped by our trailer and wanted to sell my father a half-pound of weed for fifty bucks. My father had twenty dollars he could pay. Knowing my father, it’s amazing that he had any money, but he did, and he explained to Doc what he had.

Doc in turn explained that he had to get out of town. “Had to,” he said, and my father understood what that meant. The gang somehow learned that Doc was shooting up, so Doc had to get out of town before they found him and forced him to run “The Gauntlet.” Because, apparently, that actually happens. My father bought the weed, and Doc fled, but it was to no avail, and he was later found dead.

We frequently drove north to visit my Aunt Diane and Uncle Danny (the man who would later go to prison for murder and, in all likelihood, killed my mother, though there is no body or evidence), as well as our cousins. One of these trips proved to be one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood.

As Brandi and I rode with dad in his yellow truck, in a secluded area where the road was surrounded by steep ditches that spelled death for anyone who lost control and went over, a truck driver decided to pass us. The trucker blew his horn a few times, and then he went for it. As he passed, he veered to the right—or dad swerved to the left. The enormous side view mirror of the rig crashed through the window beside dad and sent a spray of glass shards through the cab of our truck. Luckily, neither my sister nor I sustained any injuries.

The fault was probably my father’s (driving under the influence of one drug or another), but the reason officially given was that the highway wasn’t wide enough to pass. This excuse came much later in the day, after the trip got significantly worse.

We passed through Memphis as we traveled, and came upon an intersection. Not paying attention, I couldn’t tell you exactly how it happened, but there was shaking and noise. We rear-ended another vehicle. It’s possible that my father didn’t stop quickly enough, and it’s possible that he pressed the gas too hard and too quickly after the light turned green. Regardless, we hit the vehicle hard and sent it careening into the intersection. Reportedly, it traveled fifty feet from the impact.

The woman driving that car died on the spot with a broken neck.

Someone obviously called the police, and they arrested my father. The police placed Brandi and me in the back of the police car with him, which made us feel as though we were also being arrested, and that is terrifying when you’re four or five years old and have no comprehension of what is going on. As though we were playing out a scene in a movie, the very same trucker who had hit us earlier happened upon the accident, and presumably told the police that dad was driving erratically. The next thing I knew, the trucker was banging on the glass beside me, shouting obscenities at us—not just at our dad, but honestly at the five-year-old children, too. I was terrified, confused, and frightened out of my mind, and it didn’t help that dad, with his hands cuffed behind his back, was frothing at the mouth, rocking the police car, and demanding to be let out so that he could fight the truck driver.

My sister and I were taken to the hospital, and police, doctors, and therapists repeatedly questioned us about the accidents. We were separated from our father, but also from each other, and that made the experience more traumatic than it had to be. We were finally told that we would be going into the care of Aunt Diane and Uncle Danny briefly, and they were the ones who picked us up from the hospital. My grandmother acquired a good lawyer for my father, and he was able to go to rehabilitation rather than prison, or something to that effect.

For a long time, my nerves were absolutely shot, and it was nearly impossible to get me into a vehicle, which is probably the normal response of a four year old child after being in two accidents in a single day, one of which resulted in a death, all because the parents didn’t mind driving after eating a bunch of pills. Naturally, their solution was to shove pills down my throat, giving me what they called “nerve pills” that were probably Xanax or Klonopin. This was the only way to get me into an automobile for several months after the accidents, because otherwise I would scream and throw fits. Eventually the anxiety faded, but knocking me out with drugs was the only way to get me into a car for a while.

Things returned to what we considered normal, though that isn’t to say that either of my parents stopped doing drugs. I doubt either parent was clean for any notable period, and they continued inviting friends over. These parties, while they were more or less tame and consisted of people drinking, doing drugs, and playing spades, would not constitute “normal” for most kids.

On one such occasion, one of the people with whom they were hanging out decided that it would be a brilliant idea to inject peanut butter. Presumably, he’d heard that “The high is incredible, man!” and wasn’t much interested in maybe asking a doctor before doing something so horrendously and creatively stupid. According to my father—who is a known pathological liar, it’s worth remembering—the man died on the spot, so they took him home and left him on his couch, dead. I have no memory of this, but it allegedly happened sometime around my fifth birthday.

I started kindergarten, and I loathed it. Up until that point, my life was fantastic. I could wake up whenever I wanted, spend the entire day watching cartoons and playing videogames, snacking whenever I desired, and just doing anything I pleased. Then suddenly I couldn’t do that any longer; I had to wake up at a specific time, go spend the entire day in a boring school, and then only had a few hours afterward to do the things that I enjoyed doing. As early as kindergarten, it struck me as absurd: if the point of life is to be happy, as everyone constantly insisted to me, then why did I have to go to school?

We were poor—dirt poor, as you might expect, given the heavy drug usage. Although both parents were managers at various fast food restaurants at times, my mother eventually quit working altogether and got onto disability for her migraines. It was with tremendous excitement that we were approved for food stamps, and we waited for weeks with palpable eagerness in the air, though I had no idea what it even meant. There are two times that I distinctly recall the entire family waiting anxiously for something to happen, and the anticipation was identical on both occasions; we waited for food stamps and we waited for our cable to be activated with the same sense of impending thrill, as did I, even though I had no understanding of what either meant.

Being approved for food stamps felt like having a birthday, and so did the cable company finally coming out, after weeks of waiting, to connect our cable television. While I understood that having cable meant that we would have Nickelodeon, there was no way that I understood the concept of food stamps, so my excitement was surely nothing more than a mirror of my parents’ own eager anticipations. It was just months after this that I began school, and that mom became convinced that dad was not really working, that he was only disappearing while he was supposed to be at work.

It was a school day when it happened, because we were supposed to be in class, but mom kept us at home. My much older brother, my slightly older sister, and I were told that we were leaving dad, and I’m sure I handled that as well as any six year old child would, which is to say with naked emotion untempered by the jaded self-control we are taught to exercise in later years. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I was devastated nonetheless. First, the life I had come to know and love was wrecked by having to go to school, and then what little semblance of it remained was being irretrievably shattered by this upheaval. I spent the entire day in tears, as did my sister. Whatever was going on between our parents had nothing to do with us, and our lives were being cast into the hurricane because of it.

Too young to truly understand what was really going on, my primary concern was whether to leave my father “the good Nintendo” or the bad one. They both worked, but one of them was much more difficult to get working. Both my dad and I were big on video games, and so was my older brother, and even my mom and sister played occasionally. There were lots of family moments when we all took turns, and we even had a device that allowed four controllers to be used.

I agonized over that decision far more than a six year old should, and my mom didn’t give the situation nearly as much attention as it deserved. My entire world, prior to school, consisted almost entirely of playing video games. That I even debated which one to leave was a tremendous indicator of how much I loved my father, how much I didn’t want to leave, and, above all, how poorly equipped I was to cope with the chaos I suddenly was confronting. Mom was tearing our family apart, breaking it into two pieces, and she never sat down with my sister and me to explain what was happening, to assure us that we’d still see our dad, or to promise us that it would be okay. While to some extent that’s understandable, since she had to pack and load things up, the utter failure to remember that she was literally wrecking her youngest kids’ lives is very difficult to excuse.

To make matters worse, she was cowardly about it, too, because all of this happened while my father was at work. We lived in a trailer on my grandfather’s land, and it’s very likely that my grandfather was the one who alerted my father to the moving truck that was at his home. However, seeing as my grandfather later offered to shoot my mother for my dad, I doubt he would have showed the restraint simply to inform my dad of what was happening.

Regardless, dad pulled up while we were finishing and preparing to leave. The next little bit is a blur of anger, hostility, and shouting from which I am able to pull very few details. In a flash, dad went from anger to pleading, but mom refused to listen; her mind was made up, and she cranked the car, put it into gear, and hit the gas. Dad threw himself into the side of the car and then hit the ground, fell onto his back, and then lie there in the grass. My sister and I screamed and cried—our dad had just been run over!—and mom shouted at us to stop yelling. I gazed out of the back window at my father as we drove away, and there he was, lying unmoving in the grass, and all I could think was the horrible thought, “Dad is dead.”

There in the back of the car, crying quietly, having just watched my father die from being hit by a car, I sat at the age of six years old, being shouted at by my mom to shut up because I freaked out when I saw her kill my dad.

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