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The Morality of Penises

I’m not even trying to be funny with the title for this article–more is the pity, really, because it means this has to be discussed en sincera, which is a black stain on the intellectual rigor of our entire species. However, in the last week or so–since the Navy pilot drew a penis in the sky with the conntrails of his jet–the word “immoral” has been thrown around a lot. To be clear, the word “immoral” generally gets thrown around a lot anyway, usually at things that have nothing at all to do with morality (like homosexuality, transsexuality, etc.), but seeing it tossed with reckless abandon at someone having drawn a part of the human anatomy in the sky is among the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen, and seems most likely to be a remnant of a culture that once viewed sex as unclean.

#RiseOfTheMillennials, I like to say, because it’s true. That’s the kind of thing a millennial would do. The better question, at least for me, isn’t “Why is that immoral?” but “Why would someone do that?”

The answer should be obvious–to subversively attack the old school mentality that sex is unclean and that genitalia must be hidden at all costs. This is a mindset that millennials, for the most part, simply don’t have. Yet it is one shared by our grandparents and parents, usually. Without overly romanticizing what has happened (because there was indisputably an element of “Let’s troll people” involved), this was done primarily a gesture to say exactly that: “This is our world–or it will be soon.”

Honestly, there probably aren’t too many better symbols that represent the rise of the millennials than the penis. People thought the hippies were sexually liberated? The hippies wish they could be this sexually liberated. We’re talking about a generation for whom “gay” almost has no meaning–a generation that sees absolutely nothing gay about giving your friend a blowjob. This isn’t to say that every millennial would engage in that, but it is to say that even something like that would not make a person “gay” in the millennial paradigm. It’s hard to explain. “Gay” is just this word… Do you have relationships with men? Then you’re gay. Do you have sex, but not relationships, with men? You can still be straight. I’m neither condoning nor rejecting these definitions; I’m just pointing them out. These hard delineations of past generations are received by millennials with eye-rolling scoffs.

So what is the penis, in this context? Because it’s so much more than the male anatomy–but it is the male anatomy, too. The cartoon-ish, simplistic genital–the two circles attached to a rounded-end cylinder–caused people to flip out. Most millennials are not nudists–in this sense, future generations will be vastly more liberated than the average millennial, and make no mistake, widespread nudism is coming within a few generations–but also are not bothered in the least by depictions of penises. The millennial mindset is that having a penis is nothing to be ashamed of, and neither are penises things that must be hidden, whispered about, and mentioned only in quiet darkness. Say it with me now: Penis.

Our parents were notoriously uncomfortable talking about sex. My own “sex talk” with my father consisted of twelve seconds of conversation, with my father making the classic “index finger going into the other hand’s ring” gesture, and that was it. We’re a generation that was raised on porn and Cosmopolitan. Where our parents failed horrifically to provide any useful information about sex, the Internet and magazines picked up the slack, and, as a result, the average millennial probably knows more about sex than the preceding generations combined. Compare the porn of today to the porn of the 1960s, when our own parents would have been gleaning what information they could from porn because their own parents had taken them to watch cows have sex to give them “the talk.” To say the least, porn today is “liberated” compared to porn fifty years ago. You couldn’t find Japanese women doing bukkake fifty years ago. Today it’s just a 0.003 second search away. Past generations may have gotten a naked woman tastefully posed so as not to be too revealing.

Of course, porn should not be a primary source of sex education, but it has worked out that it is. I’d wager that, for 95% of people, their first encounter with sex was through pornography. It may even be 100%. I was in the fifth grade the first time I saw a woman spread eagle in a magazine. I didn’t know why it was so great, but I knew that I liked it. It wasn’t until the eighth grade that my father said a word to me about it–long after the stirrings of puberty had raised my interest in sex, and long after my initial exposures to sex. But porn is about masturbation–“Wam, Bam, Thank you, ma’am,” as they say. Porn is kinda contrary to the whole principle of sex education, because it’s not about showing boys and girls–and there’s no need to be coy, because let’s not pretend like it’s not 11 year olds and twelve year olds watching porn as their introductions to sex–how to properly have sex, how to seduce, how to be romantic, and, above all, how to give the female sexual pleasure. These are topics not typically covered in Lord of the G-Strings and Bang Brothers’ shorts.

Sex is not an uncomfortable subject for us. In fact, we rather like it. Many millennials have “fuck buddies,” not even of the opposite sex. It’s just natural to us. And one’s older sensibilities may say it is or isn’t natural (but I think we can reject such a claim as being unfounded and taking liberties with the definition of “natural” and “unnatural”), but most millennials just don’t see what the big deal is. People like fucking. In fact, people need to fuck. We’re biologically programmed to want to fuck. Fucking is critical to our existence. Look at your family tree. At every single one of those branches? There was fucking.

Apparently, previous generations treated this like it was some great secret, and sometimes like it isn’t even true. But oh yeah. Nanna got the “old in-out, in-out.” If she hadn’t, ol’ dad wouldn’t be here. And if mom hadn’t laid on her back once or twice, I wouldn’t be here.

Does this seem crass? Crude?

Not to most millennials. It’s just a fact of life, dude.

And that’s why the penis was drawn in the sky. And, for the most part, on the pillows shown above, although it does have to be pointed out once again that there is also a heavy trolling element to it. But it’s not just trolling. Trolling for the sake of trolling is just being an asshole.

But the penis is a symbol of that liberation. So asking “Why would someone draw a penis in the sky or on pillows?” is kinda a stupid question. “Why would someone get upset about a penis?” is a more intelligent question. Your existence required a penis. The reader would literally not exist if not for the penis*. That is what people are getting worked up over, it’s worth mentioning–a natural part of the human body that nearly half the world’s population has.

But the Children!

No one has ever demonstrated how seeing a penis or a vagina harms anyone’s “innocence” or sensibilities. In fact, the problem here is the prohibition of nudity. If you take someone and start clothing them since before they’re even able to talk, and you constantly beat into their heads that nudity is wicked, wrong, sinful, and shameful, then of course they’re going to freak the hell out the first time they encounter nudity. If you told a child from the time they were born that chocolate is a deadly poison, then they’d freak the hell out the first time they saw someone eating a bar of Hershey’s Chocolate, too.

It’s not the nudity or the genitalia that is the problem there–in those instances, the person is creating the very circumstances to cause the child to be freaked out. And there is no telling what effects it really has on normal human behavior to be popped out of the womb and immediately put into clothing–clothing that is worn at all times, unless one is totally alone. Yeah, someone raised like that would probably freak out and “have their innocence ruined” by seeing someone without clothes–because, to them, clothes have become normal, and seeing someone without clothes is the least normal thing they’ll have encountered at that point in their lives. But what made clothing normal and nudity abnormal?

Clothing did. Nudity, in and of itself, isn’t normal or abnormal. We made it abnormal. And I’m not even a nudist, because I was conditioned through all of my formative years to believe that wearing clothing was normal and natural, and that one should never, ever be naked, unless one was about to bathe (or, later, have sex–hint, hint). I could get past that, if I really cared to, but I don’t particularly care to.

As a point of reference, ask yourself why men are so much more likely to be shirtless around the house than women. It’s the same answer: conditioning. We’ve been conditioned that men being shirtless is mostly okay, but it isn’t for women. This applies to all clothing–we’ve been conditioned to think that wearing clothing is okay, and not wearing clothing isn’t. So yeah, seeing the other sex’s genitals for the first time could freak someone the hell out, by violently coming into conflict with years and years of psychological programming. Stop programming human beings to be freaked out by nudity, and they’ll stop being freaked out by nudity.

If any part of this discussion deals with morality, then it would be at this juncture–the morality of programming human beings to believe things before they are able to think, speak, reason, or walk. I would contend that this is probably immoral, but not enough to actually care to defend that position. But if something has to be justified, that would be it: programming humans (because it is programming) and brainwashing humans into believing that nudity is in some way shameful or disgraceful, from practically the moment of their birth.

But the penis?

It hardly gets more natural and normal than that.

 

* Obviously, if penises hadn’t evolved, some other mechanism of procreation would have, but it would be facing the same absurd scrutiny.

Corporate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

As part of the “moving to Keene, New Hampshire” process, which you can speed up by buying my ebook for $2.99 or the paperback for $7.49, I’ve also been seeking a job there, since that will speed up the process far more than anything else. After receiving a series of promising emails, I found myself conducting a phone interview, at the end of which the person said, “Thank you, sir.”

Now, this is a bit more serious than “RAWR DID YOU JUST ASSUME MY GENDER?” I’ve of course applied to the job as myself; one of the primary reasons for moving, actually, is that I’m transsexual, although I know that, realistically, I need vocal surgery and minor cosmetic surgery. Despite my best efforts, and use of very expensive vocal training regimens, I’ve met with no success (though I have become a much better singer, so good that I’m considering picking music back up) in feminizing my voice. Hell, eating large amounts of Hostess mini donuts is doing nothing to help me gain weight, either, which is badly needed.

So I was faced with a problem. Realistically, I know that it can create problems in a service-driven industry. Whether the employer has an issue with it or not, clients might, and individual businesses can never be compelled to continue using one vendor or another. It’s why I continue to work as a male: the clients would unanimously fire me here. Will that problem exist in New Hampshire?

Because I can’t expect the employer to risk losing clients by having an employee who makes them uncomfortable. And my voice is clearly still so off that I was called a “sir,” though I’m not surprised by that. There’s a huge mental block there that I’ll get into some other time. Realistically, I know that I need to continue working as a male until I’ve made the money (which shouldn’t be much of an issue in NH) to afford the needed surgeries. Until then, it has the potential to create issues with clients.

But what about once I’ve had those surgeries? Being a male to them one day and female the next is likely to create even more issues.

“Thank you, sir.”

Motherfucker.

How to handle this delicate issue when the vast majority of potential employers will simply refuse to discuss it in any meaningful sense, for fear of saying the wrong thing and inviting myriad lawsuits?

Yet it had to be discussed: “Thank you, sir.”

I know the SJWs out there would contend, “At most, you should have corrected him and requested he refer to you as ‘ma’am,'” and, yeah, perhaps. But that doesn’t sit well with me, and never has. It’s disingenuous and dishonest. And it invites even more problems. Following that correction, they’d certainly have googled me (honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t already). And I don’t know, but I imagine reservations would be extremely high about hiring someone who felt they had the right to be treated as a female despite not conforming sufficiently to gender expectations.

I unambiguously take the stance that being considered a female is something that I have to earn, not something to which I am entitled. Other people have expectations of female and male, and their expectations are as valid as anyone else’s. Since I’m the one who wants to be considered female, the onus falls to me to conform to their expectations, not to make them conform to mine in full disregard of their own. And this served as proof that I haven’t achieved that. Hey, no biggie–it means I have more work to do, which I already knew anyway.

But how to handle the matter now?

It immediately became clear to me that I should have sent my resume as a male, but I didn’t. Again, that’s the primary reason for the move, so I didn’t think twice about it; when I applied for a job, I did it as Aria. It just seemed normal and natural to me, not worthy of second guessing. But even if I had, I’m transitioning, and the day is inevitable (and not as far away as it used to be) that the male persona is forever put to rest. There is an entirely different, and heightened, degree of difficulty transitioning in a single job–being a male (albeit unusual) to the employer and clients one day, and a female the next. It’s actually easier to be a non-passable (I’ll not apologize for that phrase) female one day, and a more passable one the next. People are already prepared for it at that point, are already getting used to it, and it’s much less jarring.

So, ultimately, I think I made the right choice: apply as a female and tough it out, unpassable in several critical regards, and, in time, get those issues handled (cosmetic surgery is likely limited to brow bone decreases, so it’s not major and shouldn’t be expensive). With many of the employers clients being government agencies, it’s actually not terribly likely to be a problem for clients. But there is still a problem at hand:

“Thank you, sir.”

Merely mentioning my gender identity could be enough to cost me the job, for exactly the same reason that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell existed in the military; it immediately creates the danger of legal action. By mentioning it, I’d put them instantly into a No Win situation. Either they don’t hire, and then there’s the threat of lawsuit on the basis that they didn’t hire me because of my gender identity, or they do hire me simply to avoid the risk of that lawsuit. Of course, I’m an anarchist. Government is a weapon, not a tool. I didn’t sue a realty company who let their dog bite me twice in a service call, and that was the most solid lawsuit most people have ever heard. But I don’t think that’s right. But while I know there’s no chance I’m trying to bait them, a la Dale Gribble in King of the Hill applying as a waiter to Hooters, there’s no possible way they could know that. A company I’ve worked with for seven years asked me to put in writing that I would not seek any legal action, after all–the threat is very real, too real, and cannot be discounted. I know it exists, and they know it exists. Though I’d never, ever use such a vile weapon to force others into certain actions, they have no way of knowing my principled stance against such things, nor any reason to believe such claims. Yet there it was.

“Thank you, sir.”

In their zeal for anti-discrimination protections, liberals have created Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Even mentioning this disparity between my birth sex and my gender, the mention of which became necessary (as I don’t think anyone would dispute), violates that policy and places everyone into a minefield that is impossible to navigate. Say the wrong thing, bam. Lawsuit. Don’t hire me, bam. Lawsuit. Don’t respond, bam. Lawsuit. Suggest clients may have an issue with it, bam. Lawsuit.

I need them to be open an honest about whether it could impair client relationships, but they can’t be. Even if it would cost them half their clients, they simply can’t tell me so. They have to lose those clients with a smile on their face, resenting me all the while, because I’m protected by the violence of government action. They can’t fire me, because then, however roundabout, they’d be firing me for being transsexual. Nor can they use fear of that for reason not to hire me, for the same reason.

Yet it’s completely true. No amount of denial will change that, and no amount of good feelings would change my I.T. company in Mississippi going under because I worked as a female. All the liberal protestations that “gender identity shouldn’t matter” won’t make it not matter. It will matter. It does matter. And we can work on that, sure, but we can’t outlaw it, not as we’ve done, because that closes off honest communication. That conservative woman to whom it matters is as right as the liberal man to whom it doesn’t. Now, though, that woman simply can’t discuss it, and we can’t talk to her. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell reigns. She must grit her teeth and act with secret motives to avoid lawsuits and government bludgeoning. If she doesn’t want to work with a transsexual person, she has to keep that to herself, and fire them over something else. The issue goes unaddressed, and she continues unreached and unpersuaded.

“Thank you, sir.”

The reality is simply that it matters to some people, whether it matters to the potential employers or not, and we all know that. A client needs to give no reason for firing a vendor. They simply stop calling, and start calling someone else.

“Thank you, sir.”

But I can’t mention it, can I? At most I can inform them that I prefer to be referred to as a female. No further explanation, no consideration of their wants and needs, and no recognition of the fact that, you know, I share this planet with seven billion other people, many of whom disagree with me about various things. We have to deny the existence of those people. We have to deny reality itself, and behave as though x is true when we know very well that x is false.

So what did I do?

I laid it out in an email that friends criticised as being overly long. But they don’t understand. This is a matter that I live. It’s tertiary to them; they’re spectators. I live and breathe it, and I know it’s a sensitive and delicate issue, not to mention that bringing it up at all places everyone involved into a minefield where the slightest misstep, as far as they knew, was a legal explosion.

And even despite my lengthy email (it wasn’t really that long–three paragraphs, which I consider damned good for an issue of this complexity and sensitivity), they asked for clarification on a few things.

Because I expressed a willingness to work as a male. Though I don’t like it, I recognize that it may be the path of least resistance for them, and that’s a fair compromise, I think. Maybe they could still employ me post-transition, and maybe they couldn’t; we could cross that bridge later. But I recognize that being a non-passable female could create problems for them, and could harm their business. It’s WRONG to demand them unilaterally take that risk.

But they can’t even admit that it could create problems. Whether it would or wouldn’t, they can’t admit it, nor can they openly factor it into the decision of whether to hire me. Would it be a factor? Who can say? Rest assured, it wouldn’t be their personal issue with transsexualism, but their recognition that clients may have an issue with it. Therefore, hiring me would not be good for their company, because it wouldn’t be good for their client relationships, because their clients may have problems with it.

Nothing can be done about that, because they aren’t allowed to say, “Okay, yes, we think it’s prudent that you work as a male for the time being.”

They aren’t allowed to say that.

I’d rather work as a female, but I’m aware that stepping stones are a thing, and we must sometimes be uncomfortable today to secure comfort tomorrow. It’s why I’m a capitalist. That notion of investing in the future–it’s exactly the same here. Working as a male for a strong, vibrant, well-paying, successful firm in New Hampshire is an investment in my future, and one that I don’t mind making, although I’d rather avoid it. Working as a male for six months there while I save up the money for vocal and cosmetic surgery is a small price to pay considering the rewards–a much better job, a much better area, freedom to be me…

But I can’t make the decision. Government and liberals have made the decision for me. I’ll work as a female, because they can’t tell me otherwise. The only way I could make a choice at all would be if I chose to work as a male. I can’t choose to work as a female now; working as a female now would be a product of government coercion, not my personal choices. And yet, without them being able to admit even the existence of potential problems, contacting them and telling them to consider me a male by another name would be construed as flaky, uncertain, and unstable; it would be far more damaging to my employment prospects than anything else.

“Thank you, sir.”

When they replied, it predictably contained mention of Equal Opportunity Employment, and the assurance that being transgender (I went with transgender because, generally, it’s more palatable) would not factor into their decision. Upon reading it, inwardly I sighed. I know enough to know that my email was very clear in those regards, but the gauntlet was tossed back to me: “Are you saying you wish to delay the interviewing process until you’re finished transitioning?”

Motherfucker.

Thank you, sir.

No, and they knew I wasn’t saying that. And I know they knew I wasn’t saying that, and they know I know that they knew I wasn’t saying that. They were more cleverly saying that they’d have nothing to do with it, that they would under no circumstances say “Don’t transition yet, then, if you feel it could create problems.” Instead they were saying, “We have no comment.”

Because they’re not allowed to comment, regardless of the reality in New Hampshire. Is it as big a deal there as it is here? I don’t know. If it is, they can’t admit it, and we can’t address that problem together. They airlifted themselves right out of that minefield, but the mines remain there. If it could be a potential issue for clients, that’s something that, at most, they’d have to discuss among themselves in secret, or keep to themselves entirely.

Instead of working through the problem together, if there is a problem, then they’ll simply not hire me, and will give any number of other reasons for that. Because they aren’t allowed to state the reason, if that’s the case, and so we can’t compromise to deal with it.

It’s not “Thank you, sir.”

It’s “Thank you, liberals,” said with a deep-seated, resentful anger for creating an environment where potential pitfalls and issues can’t be discussed openly and honestly.

 

Why You Should Crypto

It didn’t take much thought for me to realize what changed between my initial crypto purchases and the more recent ones that turned me into a Cryptocurrency evangelist: Porcfest. By sheer coincidence, I happened to have my laptop with me, which gave me access to my meager amounts of crypto, but the drive had also been damaged in the drive, so I wasn’t actually able to use them (and will never be able to recover them). But I saw there something I didn’t expect: cryptos in use as currencies.

Since, I’ve been paying more attention to that, and I’ve noticed that we are not far from the threshold of widespread crypto acceptance. In Keene (to where I’m soon moving), many brick-and-mortar businesses accept it, for example. This all caused me to really consider them as viable currencies–ones that will ultimately shatter state power over us.

So why should you begin moving money into Cryptocurrency? There are many reasons, but let’s start with the obvious.

Profits

Are profits guaranteed? Of course not. Nothing is ever certain. But the indestructible and immutable nature of cryptos means that the wealth can’t be destroyed by any government or any coalition of governments. The internet unleashed a power that we haven’t really begun to harness, but one thing has been repeatedly made clear: the governments of the world can’t stop anything on the internet. Scientific research papers leaked and given away for free, software, The Pirate Bay–which is centralized and has been repeatedly and directly attacked by governments–continues to stand, undefeated. It has become a hydra, they learned; cutting off the head caused thousands of copies to spring up (of varying legitimacy). Now there is LBRY (tell me before you join, and I’ll send you an invite, so we both receive 3 LBRY credits, valued at 22 cents per presently), which is like a decentralized world wide web. It’s like Tor, except it has a built-in currency that rewards contributions. In all their efforts, the state never took down the Tor version of The Pirate Bay, because they can’t. Not without shutting down the entire internet, which would cause instant revolt. Ditto for cryptocurrencies.

So your wealth is imminently safe, as long as you don’t make stupid decisions. The government can’t and won’t bail you out if you buy Scamcoin. And while there’s no guarantee of short or mid-term profits, one is virtually guaranteed long-term profits.

Cryptos Inflate

Contrary to much confusion, almost all cryptocurrencies are inherently inflationary–to a point. This is because they are Proof of Work based (It’s not really important to know what that means), which means miners that verify transactions are rewarded for their intensive calculations by spontaneously-created coins. Each transaction, therefore, increases by some small degree the total number of coins in circulation. This is verbatim inflation, as no new wealth is created–only new tokens spread across the same amount of wealth.

However, people are adding value to cryptos in the form of Demand. As long as this demand, represented by people purchasing cryptos, is higher than the rate of inflation, the value of the coins increases. Say one new coin is created each day. This would make everyone’s currency less valuable unless people out there wanted to buy more than one coin each day. If people want to buy ten coins each day, then values will increase despite the inflation. That’s a bit simplistic, but the reason it works is that prices and values are generated dynamically by all these factors, not by a central authority making educated guesses.

However, each new block (basically, a set of transactions) involves a lot of complicated calculations, and these calculations are steadily becoming more difficult in labor-intensive. Additionally, hard-written into many of these currencies is a soft limit and a hard limit. As more coins are created, the number of coins created spontaneously by miners decreases, which obviously slows the rate of inflation. This decrease in supply increase means the Demand and Supply ratios change, allowing Demand to further overtake Supply. What happens then? Value increases exponentially. Once the hard cap is reached, there is no more inflation, so Demand causes even further value increases. This, of course, is years away for most currencies. Technically, they may never hit the hard cap for the same reason humans are unlikely to ever drill 100% of the oil on the planet–eventually it stops being cost effective to drill (or “mine”).

No one can predict what will happen around that time, but I expect that Bitcoin, like Blackcoin is and Ethereum is doing, will move to Proof of Stake. But given that Bitcoin can’t go through with a plan that nearly everyone signed, maybe such a shift is beyond its capabilities. Anyway, crypto values increase because more people are acquiring them with other money (work) than there are people spending them. Growth appears to be exponential, as well; Bitcoin took years to get to $600, but just a few months to go from $600 to $3,000.

Anti-War?

If you’re against war, then the best course of action is to begin defunding the war machine by diverting money from USD to cryptos. There is a strong libertarian and anarchist ideological dominance among cryptocurrencies, and it’s by design that they’re resistant to hacking, theft, corruption, spying, and centralization. Use of HD wallets such as Jaxx and Coinomi allow no one else to know how much you actually have, because “you” to outside observers are dozens or hundreds of random strings of characters, which are linked to one another only by the software itself and the local copies of your private keys. No one but your software can tie your many wallets together.

The Cusp of Change

It should be clear to anyone who has been paying attention to national and world events that we are on the cusp of change, and that changes have been happening for twenty years at a quickening pace. When personal computers first made their way into the home, it was revolutionary. Then there was the modem, which was revolutionary. Then the smartphone, which was revolutionary. Then torrenting (actually, BitTorrent came before smartphones, but it doesn’t matter), which allowed every single computer on the Internet to be a server. Then came the blockchain, a remarkable innovation the full scope of which I, a tech person, cannot fully grasp. It’s like the General Relativity of technology–yes, it’s that serious.

Imagine you have a spreadsheet that two or three people can work on. That’s a bit of a problem, isn’t it? Being a tech person, I know this problem well. Clients tend to throw the spreadsheet onto a shared drive and, oops, it turns out to be locked by another user who left it open. Different versions come into existence, one person overwrites another person’s data accidentally, someone’s computer crashes and there’s now an Auto-Saved version and no one is sure which is the correct and most recent… Take it from someone who has no less than thirty copies of Dancing in Hellfire on her harddrive–it’s a real problem.

The blockchain is like a spreadsheet that everyone shares, while it also solves the version difference problems. Imagine what this will ultimately mean. Take democratic elections, for example. The government should be at the forefront of this, because blockchain could be used to record votes. The data, the calculations are complete and stored in a block, is immutable and unhackable. It will remain in that block untouched until the end of human technology. It’s called a “chain” because each block points to the block in front of it and the one behind it–like if one spreadsheet ended 00003 and the next one began 00003, which ended in 00004 while the next one began 00004, only the “numbers” are much more complicated. So it’s a chain of these spreadsheets, really, and, once stored, they cannot be changed. This is what causes “hard forks” to happen. When a change is made to the protocol and technology, it creates a distinctly new thing–that “change” doesn’t apply to older blocks before the change, and it never will, because those blocks cannot be changed.

So if your vote is in 00003, it’s there forever–no changes to the vote process or anything else can ever change your vote. It’s permanent, immutable, fixed, and safe. And this is just one such application. There are countless others. One company is using blockchain technology to verify that all fish are safe or something like that. Another is using blockchain to monitor for ebola in realtime. The underlying technology that is the blockchain is the greatest breakthrough in technology since the invention of the Internet itself, and we’re still trying to fully incorporate the Internet, thirty years later.

Golem uses blockchain technology to share computing power for 3D rendering software Blender. I hate Blender. But it’s a proof of concept, especially for complex animations. Imagine being able to use five thousand processors all at once to compile your animation–Golem is making that happen, and Blender usage is its proof of concept. What further uses will we see this put toward? Password cracking? Probably–and hopefully, since that’s my only hope for getting into my encrypted backups that contain, I believe, a number of Litecoins (perhaps as many as ten, but I don’t recall, because I wasn’t really into it then, because I hadn’t seen… the proof of concept at Porcfest).

The world is changing. All throughout the world, people are deciding that they don’t want to be ruled by others, and, yes, this is even happening in the United States. The only thing holding us in our current system is our addiction to ruling over others. California won’t secede from the union because they are too eager to have the power once more, they are too eager to get a Democrat in the White House in 2020 and “make the Republicans pay” for four years of Trump. It is true that they don’t want to be ruled over by Trump and a Republican-controlled federal government, but they won’t secede, and they won’t demand decreases in state power, because they’d rather bide their time until they are, once more, the ones with the power, and can then make the GOP pay for the years of President Trump. Conservative states did the same with President Obama–that’s why we have Trump now, in fact.

We saw it with Brexit. We see it with Kurdistan, Catalonia. We are slowly reawakening to the reality that we don’t like being told what to do by governments who aren’t us and who don’t have our best interests at heart. Meanwhile, the American behemothian military machine is weakening, losing its grip, with its only hope of survival being continuous warfare–warfare that Americans (and the rest of the world) are losing their patience for. The USD will inevitably collapse (the national debt is already beyond twenty trillion dollars), and some politicians are floating the idea of making the raising of the debt ceiling an automatic process. That’s not much different from how it currently is, since the whole “Will they or won’t they?” question is a dog and pony show, but once that is erased, hyperinflation will quickly follow. And if the Democrats succeed in a national, socialized medicine scheme, that hyperinflation will be immediately necessary to pay those costs, because no American is going to submit to 80% taxes.

We live in interesting times. The state’s power is slipping away from it, and it can do nothing to stop it, because we aren’t fighting it with guns and tanks. We’re fighting it with ingenuity, creativity, and brilliance. We are, as the market always does, working around the state and its unlawful, immoral impositions. Anyone who has noticed the strange trends of the last several years should probably be investing in four things: themselves, gold, cryptos, and lead. The Age of the State is coming to an end.

Okay, I’m In. Now What?

The easiest way to transfer your wealth from United States Dollars into cryptocurrencies is via Coinbase. Some people have problems with them; I don’t. The people who dislike Coinbase are angry primarily because Coinbase, like all exchanges, keeps people’s private keys for themselves, so the user never actually owns the money in the wallet. It’s complicated, and we’re getting to that.

Think of a wallet (also called a “ledger”) as a bank account. It serves exactly the same purpose. It is a unique identifier that you, and only you, have, and comes in three parts: the public key, the private key, and the address. This is where the “crypto” part of “cryptocurrencies” comes in–encryption is heavy here. Every encryption has two pieces, the private and public key. Having the public key allows people to see the balance of the ledger and the transaction history, but they cannot send funds out of that wallet. It is the private key that is necessary for that. Coinbase and other Exchanges (places to buy cryptocurrencies) keep the private keys on servers, and you sign up to them with email addresses and stuff, and they match your email address and other information to the private key.

So you’ll need to create an account at an exchange like Coinbase. From there, you can use a checking account or debit card (some states prohibited, because fuck freedom, that’s why) to buy cryptos. Coinbase offers only Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum, but I’d still recommend using them primarily. It’s easy to get mixed up in a bunch of scamcoins otherwise. Coinbase locks in the value of your coins at the time you make the purchase, so if Ethereum is $300 each when you make a purchase of “1 ETH for $300,” it won’t matter if Ethereum has gone up to $900 when the purchase completes 5 to 7 days later–you’ll still get 1 Ethereum, not 0.33 ETH. This is a big deal. Be wary of exchanges that do not do this. Some of them will give you just 0.33 ETH, since that would be what $300 would get at the time the purchase completed. This also goes both ways–if ETH drops to $100 by the time the purchase completes, you’ll only get 1 Ethereum, not 3.

All of this is totally legal, and simple to do. Just go to Coinbase and sign up, link a checking account (the only option in many U.S. states), and start buying.

Once your coins arrive, though, you won’t want to keep them in your Coinbase wallet. Note that you can also use the Coinbase Android (iOS perhaps?) app. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to Coinbase’s website. With Coinbase, you don’t truly own your money, just like you don’t truly own your money when it’s in a bank account. Especially in the EU, the bank owns it, and legislation gave banks in the UK the “right” to take up to 35% of the money out of anyone’s accounts at any time. So yes, exchange wallets are very much like bank accounts. However, most exchanges won’t allow you to buy crypto and automatically deposit it into another wallet; you’ll have to have it deposited into your exchange wallet.

I would recommend Jaxx or Coinomi. I use Jaxx primarily, and Coinomi only for more obscure coins like LBRY and Blackcoin. For Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, DASH, Golem, and Ethereum Classic, I use Jaxx. Install the Jaxx application on PC or Android, open it, and copy your wallet address. Jaxx puts a “copy” button right by your address to make this easier. Go back to Coinbase, choose the “Send” option, paste your Jaxx Wallet address into the “To” field, choose the amount you want to send (almost all of it, minus about 0.001 or so, to pay for the transaction fee), and confirm it. A minute or so later, your funds will show up in your Jaxx wallet, where you and only you control it.

It’s really that simple. It used to be a lot more complicated. My first Bitcoin purchase was for a client who had been hit with ransomware. I ended up sending $548 through Western Union to freaking Tel-Aviv. It was an ordeal. It took an entire day to get that one Bitcoin. It’s no longer anything like, but that’s part of why there’s the delay in Coinbase. It’s all about liquidity, after all–in the grand scheme of things, if you want to buy, then you have to find someone willing to sell, right? Coinbase cuts out that labor by acting as the middleman. People sell their coins to Coinbase (more or less), which has given Coinbase a nice cache of them. But yes, that’s really all there is to it. Exchanges have made the process so much easier than it used to be.

If you do want a riskier, more obscure coin (if you’re operating under the idea that any given crypto could shoot its way up to $50, so getting 100 of a currency for $0.15 is a great idea), you can instead use the Coinomi app instead of Jaxx. Jaxx and Coinomi both include a feature called Shapeshift (which is an unrelated, independent company) that, for a small fee (usually it’s a small fee, but nothing involving Bitcoin has a small fee anymore), will allow you to turn your Litecoin into Dogecoin or DASH or Ethereum Classic. Coinomi has more options, such as Belacoin, LBRY, and Blackcoin. So, to do this, here would be the basic steps:

  1. Create account at Coinbase, link a checking account (probably, unless you’re in one of the few states that will let you use a debit or credit card, you lucky devil).
  2. Purchase some amount of Bitcoin, Litecoin, or Ethereum. Litecoin has the lowest transaction fees right now.
  3. Wait for the purchase to complete. 4 to 8 days later, your coins will be deposited into your Coinbase wallet.
  4. Immediately send them to your Jaxx or Coinomi wallet. This will involve a small fee.
  5. Hit the fox head-looking thing. It will show you the maximum number of coins you can shapeshift, and will allow you to choose which currency you want to shapeshift them too. This will involve a small fee.
  6. The Shapeshift will automatically send your new coins to the corresponding wallet in whatever software you’re using. If you shapeshift Litecoin into Dogecoin using Jaxx (for some ungodly reason), it will automatically send the Dogecoin to your Jaxx Dogecoin wallet.
  7. Hold onto the currency until you’re ready to spend it or sell it.
  8. Selling it is basically these steps in reverse–convert it back into LTC, ETH, or BTC (be mindful of the relative values of these currencies! If Blackcoin goes up to $1 apiece but Bitcoin has gone up to $500,000, then Blackcoin relative to BTC will have gone down in value, even if it’s technically worth more in USD). Send the currency to the Coinbase wallet, and hit the Sell button.

So good luck out there. The state is going to come down. Bruh, do you crypto?

Let’s Clarify Something About Casino Hotel Bellpeople

There is a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and downright stupidity going around these days regarding the tragedy in Las Vegas as well as the expectation that someone, specifically the bellpeople, should have noticed that Paddock was carrying far too many bags and that they likely contained weapons. Seeing as I used to work at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Tunica, Mississippi, in the hotel as a custodian, and that I regularly worked as a bellperson because the bellpeople liked to leave early (and it was the only way for me to get regular tips) and I covered for them, I think it would be a good idea for someone to clarify a few things. So take this from someone who has literally been a bellperson in a casino’s hotel.

High Rollers

Rule one of any casino is that you don’t piss off a highroller. Once upon a time, a guest requested an ashtray. I don’t remember why, but I was in a tremendous hurry, grabbed the first ashtray that I saw, and took it. A few days later, I was called not to my supervisor’s office, nor to my manager’s office, but to the office of a casino host, whereupon I was handed a written referral, a formal reprimand, for taking a high roller a dirty ashtray. The significance of this should not be lost to other considerations, but I do have to defend myself and point out that this isn’t something that I regularly would have done. I have a much better work ethic than that, and the ashtray in question had a small, gray stain in the center from where someone had routinely put out cigarettes. Yes, I should have cleaned it first–there is no doubt of that. But given that it was a small stain and the guest was immediately going to stain the thing anyway, I weighed the choices and took the risk. That proved to be a bad decision, as the guest was a high roller who expected everything to be perfect.

So let me explain what a Casino Host is. These are personalized PR people for the most part. Each one is dedicated to perhaps a dozen or so high rollers, and it’s basically their job to be the high roller’s friend. They go golfing with them, will drink at the bar with them, and will do whatever else with them is necessary to keep them happy–and therefore coming to the casino. If you’ve ever seen the show Las Vegas or whatever it was called, then you know basically what these people are and what they do–if the high roller asks for a hooker, then you find them a hooker. You just don’t talk about it and tell people that you did it.

You don’t fuck with a highroller. This is why it was the casino host who lectured me and served me the write-up, to re-stress the importance of pleasing the high rollers. It’s not like they called and requested an ashtray, and said, “Oh, and I’m a high roller, so make sure I get good service.” No, in most cases, they expect us to already know that. The systems aren’t in place for that to happen (at least, they weren’t at Sam’s Town Tunica), and so unless the person was staying in one of the deluxe suites, there was really no way to know. Best to err on the side of caution, then, and assume that any and every guest was a possible high roller. Because if that high roller threatened to leave the casino and never come back, you were fired. No questions asked, no appeal. You were gone.

The Expectations of Bell People

Now, when a high roller arrives at the hotel, you generally know, usually because there will either be a casino host already with them, because a casino host will greet them, or simply because you’re familiar with the regular high rollers. Your job depends on you being familiar with the regular high rollers. If you arrive at an elevator at the same time as one of these high rollers, and you’re carrying something that would prevent them from getting on, then you wait, and you let them go. If you’re walking past them in the hallway, you step to the side. So it’s extremely important to learn who the main regulars are, and to respect that–failing to do so, after all, is a firing. You get ridden up over an ashtray–what do you think will happen if you accidentally bump into them? Or if you make them wait for the next elevator while they were heading up to their room or down to the casino floor? You’re gone.

#1/24-TREND#2/24-120V1BOX #3/24-120sp

It’s like people think bellpeople are treating guests’ bags like Christmas presents, shaking them around and trying to guess what is inside. This is absurd. It’s the job to protect and deliver the guest’s luggage, and you are responsible for it. You specifically undertake responsibility for it. We’re not tossing them around like a golf caddy in Happy Gilmore. We’re treating each and every single bag like it could contain a $4,000 bottle of wine, because any single one of those bags could, in fact, be containing a $4,000 bottle of wine. If you break it, you’re gone. You’re fired. And you might get your ass kicked on your way out to the parking lot while carrying your termination slip. It is, after all, the host’s job to deliver 100% satisfaction to the high roller. You don’t think shit like this happens? Then you’ve never worked at a casino.

I can tell you from first-hand, real experience being a bellperson that it never once occurred to me to even be curious what a guest was bringing up to their hotel room. If you shake that bag around trying to guess what is inside, and you break something, you’re done. Even if the guest isn’t a high roller, you’re likely to be fired for that. If the guest is a high roller, then you’re certainly fired. You load up the bags, push the bags on the cart, and unload the bags as gingerly as possible, because you don’t know what is inside them. If you hear anything inside clanking around, then you’re being too rough with the bags, and you’re going to be fired before the week is over. That “clanking” is far more likely to be a bottle of wine, perfume, or cologne than it is a gun, by a ratio of millions to one, and you’ll eventually break one by acting like a little kid a few weeks out from Christmas trying to guess what is inside.

And may the gods help you if you touch that zipper. Are you out of your mind? You unzip that bag and you might as well call the police to come arrest you. If you find something “suspicious” and get security involved, they absolutely will not under any circumstances search that bag without the guest present. So congratulations–here is your pink slip when that clanking turned out to be two bottles of cologne, and you caused a freaking high roller’s bags to be searched by freaking security. You will stand there looking like an idiot as the casino host, the security guards, and the high roller pull items out of the bag one by one–and if there is a vibrator or dildo in that bag, or anything sexual for that matter, then you caused the high roller so much embarrassment that nothing will save you from a firing. When they find nothing, as they will 99.999999% of times, and the 0.0000001% of times they find a weapon it will only be to endanger others 0.0001% of the time, you will stand there looking like a paranoid, nosy, suspicious liability to the casino and its ability to keep high rollers happy.

They don’t want an employee who poses a significant risk of disappointing or hassling their high rollers.

None of this crap being directed at the hotel employees is realistic. Neither the hotel clerks, the valet drivers, nor the bellpeople are interested in finding out what is in the guest’s bags, especially not a high roller’s, and especially not a regular high roller’s. If you’re sitting there saying, “Well, clearly they should be! Because this could have been averted!” then you will never, ever own a casino or hotel–or, hopefully, have any position of authority to set policies. Because for every one random lunatic out there, you’ll end up with tens of thousands of people who are just going about their lives. Seriously, just start looking tomorrow for “suspicious behavior.” Consider each and every suspicious person you see to be a possible mass murderer just minutes away from murdering 59 people and wounding several hundred more. Do you feel like a raving, paranoid lunatic yet? Because you should. If you don’t, then consider calling the police on each and every one of those people and ensuring that they are hassled, searched, and questioned because you found it suspicious that the guy was standing around the side of the gas station for a strangely long amount of time.

That kind of rampant paranoia quickly gets you dismissed as a lunatic–as it should. It’s hysteria. Sure, it’s easy now to look back and say, “OMG, why didn’t anyone notice?” But if you think for one solitary second that, had you been the bellhop who delivered those bags, you’d have given even a moment of consideration to the possibility that he was carrying up dozens of guns and untold ammunition, then you are, without a doubt, full of shit. Because you wouldn’t have. It is lunacy to suggest that one would have been that attentive, that suspicious, that rough with the guest’s bags, that paranoid of a high roller, and that hysterical about the behavior of someone you saw fairly often. It is abject, hysterical lunacy.

And Another Thing

If you think that it’s even possible to ban guns of any time, then you are badly out of touch with the capabilities of modern technology. Guns can be 3-D printed now, and this has been true for a few years. It is not possible to ban something that can be created spontaneously by unskilled laborers from raw materials that are far too useful to ban. To ban guns in 2017 CE, you’d have to also ban 3D printers and aluminum. I hope it’s not necessary to point out to anyone that banning 3D printers or aluminum is a fool’s errand, and something that would never, ever happen. You can buy a 3D printer and the plans for a gun, and you can do it all in basically untraceable cryptocurrencies. Come join us in the future; the technology here is jaw-dropping.

And unstoppable.

Oh, and LITERALLY Hitler Trump?

If you think Trump is LITERALLY Hitler, then why in the name of sanity would you want to disarm anyone? You do realize that guns are literally (in the literal sense of the word, not the figurative sense of people who say Trump is LITERALLY Hitler) the ways that we resist fascism, right? If a fascist dictator actually took over, you wouldn’t be able to vote them out of office. You would need guns. Not just any guns, either–good ones. Assault rifles, at a minimum. Realistically, you’d also need tanks, drones, cluster bombs, and, yes, nuclear weapons. I can promise you this: an American citizen who owned a nuclear weapon would be the very last citizen to be killed by the American government. Why do you think North Korea wants one so badly?

The liberal position on this whole thing makes absolutely no sense to me.

  1. Trump is LITERALLY Hitler.
  2. The police are brutal murderers who unfairly target minorities and are unaccountable.
  3. We should let LITERALLY Hitler tell the unaccountable police to take all the defenses away from the minorities.

Am I missing something? Besides the emotional motivations that allow them to believe all these things because they want to really, really hard, and facts and logic be damned? Conservatives are no better, of course, and many are now stepping up to say that bump stocks should be criminalized (though half of them have no idea what a bump stock is, or only know because they read a hysterical lunatic article in USA Today about how they are responsible for 97.3% of all kitten murders). Hell, Ben Shapiro said that they should be outlawed while at the same time he admitted that this wouldn’t keep them from making their way into the hands of mass murderers. So… Um… What is the point, then?

If one puts the basic liberal position, as I’ve recounted above, into logical form, it creates an inescpable conclusion: liberals are racists who want minorities to be defenseless while they are murdered by police. In other words, liberals’ own positions suggest that they want a fascist dictator in power who uses the police to murder minorities:

  1. Trump is LITERALLY Hitler.
  2. The police unfairly murder minorities.
  3. The only defense against someone with a gun is a gun (hence, why we send armed police officers to take down shooters, not people wielding knives).
  4. Therefore, if we want minorities to be defenseless against LITERALLY Hitler and the police who unfairly target them, we must take their guns away.

But I’ve now let this derail the post away from the main point, which is that people are forming completely unrealistic expectations of what bellpeople do.

Transtrending

Everyone is suddenly a gender and sexuality expert when it comes to transgenderism and transsexualism, just as everyone is suddenly an economist when it comes to “price gouging.” Obviously, one doesn’t have to be transgender or transsexual to understand gender and sexuality, but one does have to evaluate things rationally and scientifically, and, in my experience, it’s less likely that this has happened among the cisgender. Nor does it help the situation that even trans people are muddying terminology and making the whole thing more confusing than it has to be. So, one more time, let’s have a thorough analysis of this topic.

Gender & Sex

First, it must be observed that there is a difference between sex and gender. Gender is a matter of culture, while sex is a matter of biology. Gender is sort of an extension of sex, but there is not a perfect correlation; there is even plenty to be said that biological sexual characteristics predispose one sex toward certain gender behaviors. For example, that women wear makeup is a statement regarding gender–it is a behavioral and appearance norm–yet it stems from biology, ultimately, as it is traditionally the female who attracts the male, and the male who is the hunter (or “seeker” if you prefer). This is not unusual among humans; many animals have the responsibility of attracting a mate falling to one sex or the other. Men engage in grooming to help their chances of being approved when they approach a mate, primarily. These biological tendencies that stem ultimately from some genetic hard-wiring that leads men to predominantly be hunters and women to primarily be “the hunted” ultimately morphs into women wearing makeup and men not.

The brassier is another example. That women wear bras and men do not is a gender norm, but it quite obviously stems from biological sex characteristics. One of the two sexes has something there that benefits* from the additional support. It is like the jock strap and athletic cup in a way–that male athletes wear cups is a gender norm, extending from the fact that men have something there to be supported and protected. It is still arbitrary, though–if nature had decreed that men have breasts, then men would wear bras; that they don’t is essentially a fluke of nature.

I’m not going to attempt to define what the male sex is, or what the female sex is. It would be a good idea, and it would be helpful, but I’m not convinced that such a definition exists. As I wrote in my upcoming book Beyond Words & Labels, a set definition must include all members of that set while excluding all members not in that set. If we could produce a definition of “the male sex” that included every single person we consider male and excluded every single person that we don’t consider male, then I suspect the definition would take 4,000 pages of legalese texts, 3900 pages of which would be exceptions and exclusions. I think it’s a futile task, and that every person will ultimately come to their own understanding of what the male sex is and what the female sex is.

That’s fine, as long as they recognize that their definition is their definition, and that they have no authority or right to force other people to recognize their definition as valid. Just this week, I had someone tell me that I would never be a real woman because I cannot have children (not true–I cannot carry and give birth to a child, but I am most certainly capable of impregnating a woman). I naturally pointed out that there are plenty of women who similarly cannot have children, some of whom were born barren. He stated, “That’s a different reason, though.” So his definition of woman isn’t just “can have children.” In fact it is, “A person is a woman if she can have children, except those women who can’t have children, and who can’t have children because this particular reason and that particular reason, but not this other particular reason.” It’s asinine and arbitrary, isn’t it? He’s just using his gut to tell him who is and isn’t a woman, and, now that he believes this distinction is real, he scrambles to find some way of clearly defining it–a task that cannot be done.

Sex

So sex is a matter of biology, though I’ll not attempt to define what parameters distinguish one sex from the other. For every example we find who fits within our definitions, we’ll find one who doesn’t, and this will require the sort of exceptions I just mentioned. In the end, the definition will be enormous, and still incomplete. Sexually,  whatever you think a woman or man is is what a woman or man is. Sure. There’s really no other way to handle it, unless someone out there wants to produce that gargantuan definition. It’s no problem if you believe a woman is “someone who can get pregnant,” as long as you don’t attempt to turn that definition into law through the state, by forcing me to have “male” on my identification because your definition is the one that the state uses, when the state has no business weighing in on the matter at all. As long as you don’t do that, what definition you use is of no importance to me.

However, if we are to communicate, we must have some sort of common definition, however vague and generalized it is. In fact, we do have such a definition, but it is terribly flawed. The common definition is that men have penises, and women have breasts and vaginas. Obviously, this definition has plenty of problems, but in ordinary conversation there isn’t usually a reason to drag a fine-toothed comb through delineations. If I tell you to get out of the way of a car, it wouldn’t really matter that it was a van coming to hit you. I would technically be wrong, but I was still able to communicate to you the gist of what was happening. That’s the best that our definitions of the sexes will do–they’ll generally communicate the gist of what most people consider to be male and female. This is, again, necessary for us to communicate, although we should certainly keep in mind that our definitions are not the End All, Be All of Sexuality.

Gender

Gender is also not some neatly-defined set of archetypes and cliches. “A man has a beard, has a favorite beer, and eats his steaks rare!” is one such gender statement, and it’s certainly true for some men–and some men genuinely believe this–but it isn’t the definitive criteria of what a “man” is. Neither is having long hair, wearing makeup, wearing skirts, and playing with Barbie dolls the definitive criteria of what a “woman” is. These are all cultural tendencies of one gender or the other, but they’re certainly not universal. And, one will notice, they’re not all extensions of sexuality.

A preference for beer and having a beard, for example–one is completely arbitrary, and the other is an effect of testosterone that is present in both males and female. My great Aunt May had a mustache. An even better example is the notion that women don’t have hairy legs–this is flagrantly false, as demonstrated by women who don’t shave. Their leg hair is generally as thick as any man’s. That women shave their legs is a gender norm–it could just as easily be men who customarily shave their legs. Even so, not all women shave their legs anyway, and are still considered women by gender.

While many aspects of gender are extensions of sexual characteristics–such as women wearing makeup to attract mates–not all of them are, and some are either totally arbitrary or are actually customs pushed onto them by the other sex. This is the primary feminist complaint regarding bras, in fact: that they were not designed to provide support, as is so often suggested, and were actually designed simply to conceal what men thought had to be hidden. That it remains socially unacceptable, and often outright illegal, for women to be topless while no such restriction is placed on men, suggests that this is the case, especially given that wire bras are a relatively new thing.

Gender Identity Disorder / Gender Dysphoria

This is a condition that afflicts some individuals, and it occurs when a person’s expected gender norms and behaviors do not sit well with the individual, and when the individual has an inclination toward the other sex’s gender norms and behaviors. It is an illness, in effect. It is not equivalent to being transgender or being transsexual.

I find myself having to repeatedly point out that observing the differences between “having GID” and “being transgender” does not in any way demean a person’s Gender Identity Disorder (GID). “Being transgender,” however, is the most common treatment for GID–it is not the only treatment, and it is not universal. Having Gender Identity Disorder does not make a person transgender; being transgender is a choice as a way of coping with Gender Identity Disorder. To be sure, the GID needs to be dealt with one way or another, and a person does not get a choice about having GID, but how one is going to address it is a choice, and not everyone chooses to be transgender.

It is fast becoming a pet peeve of mine to see everyone with GID describing themselves as “transgender.” I recently read an article from someone who stated, “I am transgender and, no, I am not coming out or transitioning.” What this person meant is that they have Gender Identity Disorder, and calling that “transgender” is little more than a way to jump on the bandwagon. It’s like they consider “transgender” to be “like having Gender Identity Disorder Times Ten!” Gender Identity Disorder certainly sucks, but it is not synonymous with “transgender.”

I’ve had Gender Identity Disorder at least since I was three years old, as I described in my book Dancing in Hellfire, which is available as an eBook on Amazon for $2.99 or in paperback for $7.49. However, I have only been transgender for a little over two years, and have only been transsexual for a little over a year.

I want to state, before going further, that there is an enormous difference between Gender Identity Disorder and cancer, and that I do not in any sense stack the suffering of GID against the suffering of a cancer patient. I’m using it only as a quantitative analogy, and not a qualitative one. To be sure, I’ve seen trans people suggest that having GID is as bad as cancer, but we can’t take such “Oh, poor me!” people seriously.

Gender Identity Disorder is akin to cancer, and being transgender or transsexual are akin to chemotherapy. One is the disease, and the other is the treatment. It’s readily apparent that they cannot be synonymous. Having cancer doesn’t make one a chemo patient, and undergoing chemo doesn’t mean that one is a cancer patient. Having Gender Identity Disorder doesn’t mean that one is transgender, and being transgender honestly doesn’t mean that a person has Gender Identity Disorder–see the transtrender people out there who are doing it “for the fun of it” on college campuses. Or play World of Warcraft, and you’ll quickly learn that 25% of the people you know as females are actually males, and many of them simply state that they’re females (we’re not talking simply playing as female characters)–that’s transtrending. They don’t have Gender Identity Disorder, but when they throw hearts in chat all the time, they’re adopting the gender chat standards of the other sex as their own. It’s a minor thing, and not an irritant, but it’s crucial to observe: one can be transgender without having Gender Identity Disorder, and one can have Gender Identity Disorder without being transgender.

Transgender or Transsexual?

Now that we’ve pointed out, and demonstrated logically, that having Gender Identity Disorder is not equivalent to being transgender, there’s one area left to dissect: transgenderism and transsexualism. They are also not synonymous, just as gender and sex are not synonymous.

Being transgender involves adopting the other sex’s cultural norms as one’s own. A male who acts like a female, wears makeup and dresses, listens to Beyonce or whatever–that is an example of transgenderism. It is rather like a drag queen, except that it is done perpetually, not occasionally. It is limited to behavioral and cosmetic changes, such as crossing one’s legs like a woman, wearing makeup, or growing one’s hair long. It includes no biological or physiological changes.

Being transsexual is a bit more nuanced, and there are three varieties of it: pre-op, post-op, and non-op, and these divisions depend upon Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS). A pre-op transsexual is someone who intends to have SRS, and is, to some degree, in the process of doing so, perhaps by starting with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). A post-op transsexual is someone who has had SRS. A pre-op intends to have their penis cut off and replaced with a vagina, or have a penis added to them; a post-op has done this already. A non-op transsexual is someone who undergoes physiological changes excluding SRS. I’m a non-op transsexual, and I do not intend to ever have SRS. People are right to observe, then, that I will not ever sexually be a woman, and this is a point that I gladly acquiesce, hence my use of “S” for my sex–“Shemale.” I have the biological characteristics of both sexes (what many would call “Intersex,” but I won’t, because “transsexual” already covers it).

Besides which, “Intersex” raises more questions than it answers, and the terminology is sloppy, awkward, and clumsy. When I tell you that I’m a shemale, you immediately understand what that means, and no further questions are necessary. If, however, I said, “I am intersex,” then that raises a ton of questions. Did I start as a male or female? Do I have a penis or vagina? Which direction am I going? Even someone steeped in LGBTQIAAAP+ALPHABETSOUP culture is going to have to pause and think about what “I’m a male-to-female non-op transsexual transgender lesbian” means. When a friend of mine said that they were transgender, it confused me–me!–because this person appears to be an ordinary male, and is doing absolutely nothing to transition toward female. So… is this person F2M? Does this person have a penis? Did this person have breast reduction surgery? In actuality, the person has gender dysphoria, but is not transgender or transsexual–confusion that should never have risen in the first place.

This tendency of people with GID to call themselves transgender is conflating the issue and confusing people, even other transgender and transsexual people, and it needs to stop. It’s happening because of transtrending. They think it makes them more special, more unique, more snowflakey to call themselves trans rather than accurately calling themselves sufferers of GID. These words mean things. Being transgender isn’t a statement. It’s not a label. It’s a series of actions, a bold choice, a way of life.

Trans-ism is WORK

…which brings me to what I really wanted to write about today, because I have met many people at the local LGBT club who claim to be transgender, yet who are doing nothing to transition. That’s fine, in a sense. They don’t have to transition to take care of their Gender Identity Disorder. Transitioning isn’t for everyone. It’s arduous, difficult, and, often, painful. However, if they are not transitioning, they cannot seriously expect people to use the other sex’s/gender’s pronouns for them. If they just look like an ordinary dude and even have a 5 o’clock beard, they can’t seriously expect to be called “she,” and neither can they get all offended when I call them “he.”

I know a dude who does this, though I told him about a month ago to stop texting me. The guy has a mustache, doesn’t shave any of his body, has short hair, doesn’t wear makeup, doesn’t wear any female clothes, or anything. Yet he claims to be transgender, and wants to be called “she” and “her.”

I’m just not going to do that.

Being called the other sex’s pronouns is something you earn, not something that you are given. You want to be called a “she” as I am? Put some work into it, sweetie. You’re not entitled to that, not from me. Other people can call you that if they so choose, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s something you have to earn. The dude I’m talking about is named Randy, but wants to be called Rebecca, and wants to have female pronouns used. When anyone points out that he presents himself as an ordinary dude, he cries, “But muh feminism! Women don’t have to shave their faces and wear pretty dresses!”

No, true, they don’t. But you know what else? Women who dress like men, don’t shave, don’t wear makeup, and all that… are going to be called “butch,” and, in a lot of cases, they’ll be referred to with male pronouns.

I couldn’t even guess how much work I’ve put into being transgender and being transsexual. Because it is work, my goodness. I’m wearing a waist trainer right now. I wear it every single day, from 9:00 am to 2:00 am, taking it off only to sleep and putting it on just before I leave for work each day. I shave my body every single day, and shave my face twice a day if need be. I’ve dyed my hair a more feminine color, and am growing it out. The one area I’ve lapsed is in voice training, and I’ve only lapsed there in the last two months, and resumed it earlier this week. Want to see an example of how much work I’ve done?

This shit doesn’t happen by itself, man. The “trans” people who demand to be called by the other sex’s pronouns who haven’t put in the work–you know what they remind me of? They remind me of the socialists who want the Minimum Wage increased because they want to make more money. They want to earn $15 an hour, but they don’t want to put in all the work, the training, the learning, the research, the effort to actually earn what I busted my ass to earn. They just want it given to them. You want to have what I earned? Then start earning it. Start shaving. Grow your hair out. Do pilates. Get a waist trainer. Soften your voice. Put one some makeup. Put on a dress. These stereotypes are the basis that we use to distinguish the genders and sexes. It’s true that you don’t have to submit to them, but perhaps being a M2F trans person while fighting the 60s feminist battles is a poor combination, you think?

I don’t care how passable you are or aren’t. God knows I’m not as passable as I’d like, and still have more work to do. What I care about is effort. You put in the effort, and I will happily encourage you and respect your pronoun preferences. But if you don’t want to put in the effort…? If you don’t want to put in the effort to be a “she” or “her,” then why in the hell should I put in the effort to call you a “she” or “her?” Demanding other people call you “she” and “her” when you’re putting in no work to be a “she” is like demanding that other people do your work for you. No, cupcake, it doesn’t work that way.

I have my own ideas of what “he/him” is, and what “she/her” is. So do you, and so does everyone else. However, as stated before, there is some commonality among our understanding–enough that we can communicate. I’m not going to put aside my understanding of “she” and “her” to call you that, and neither do you have any right to demand that I do so. And I can tell you this: neither will most people willingly put aside their own understanding of what “she” means to accommodate your mustache and call you a “she.” I’m not evil, wicked, or bad because I have my own (already far more versatile than the average person’s) understanding of what defines the genders and sexes, and that I will use my definitions and not yours. You can disassociate from us, have at it, but you cannot use the state to force us to use your definitions “to avoid offending you or hurting your feelings” any more than we can use the state to force you to be called “he.”

But it’s the worst of entitled behavior to stand there in a mustache and expect people to just know that you prefer to be called “she” when you aren’t transgender and certainly aren’t even transsexual. I get that you have Gender Identity Disorder, Randy, and that it hurts you to some degree to be called “he” and “him,” but that’s your problem to deal with, not everyone else’s. If you want to deal with that problem, do so, but don’t expect other people to deal with it for you. Maybe it damages us psychologically to have to refer to a dude in a mustache as a chick. “Damage” is certainly too extreme, but it most definitely causes dissonance and awkwardness.

Demanding that we accommodate your Gender Identity Disorder while you aren’t even accommodating it is bizarrely entitled. I’m sure most people would gladly work with you and begin calling you your preferred pronouns if you started transitioning–if, indeed, one chooses to transition in order to deal with it–because for most reasonable, compassionate people it’s not about being passable or non-passable. It’s about effort. Just put some damned effort into it. Don’t expect everyone else to cure your Gender Identity Disorder by using certain pronouns for you when you haven’t done a thing to address the GID yourself. And if you’re not going to transition, then you have absolutely no justification for demanding the other sex’s pronouns in the first place, as doing so would only exacerbate your GID. If you have GID but you’ve decided to stick it out as your birth sex of “male,” then it’s not going to help you one teeny-tiny bit for people to call you a female, is it? No–it will perpetuate the dysphoria.

Having Gender Identity Disorder doesn’t entitle anyone to anything, and having it doesn’t make a person transgender or transsexual. We should all be compassionate enough to assist and accommodate our brothers and sisters and others who are transitioning, but if they aren’t transitioning, then there is nothing to accommodate, and being “well-intentioned” by trying to accommodate them anyway will only exacerbate their Gender Identity Disorder. Being transgender isn’t for everyone, and going even further into being transsexual certainly isn’t for everyone. They are difficult decisions, deliberate and willful courses undertaken as ways of handling Gender Identity Disorder, and they are not the only ways of doing so.

But I’m going to use the pronoun of the sex you’re presenting as, and so will most people who aren’t dicks.

When you stand there with a mustache and cry that it’s offended to be called “him,” you are insulting me and everything I’ve done in my transition, just as fully as the Minimum Wage workers who assert that the rich didn’t “earn” their wealth are insulted by those entitled, bratty demands. I am not offended, but I am most definitely insulted. If you want what I have, then you better be ready to put in the work that I’ve put in–and have yet to put in. You think it’s been a walk in the park to acquire estrogen? You think it’s pleasant to wear a waist trainer? You see all those marks on my stomach? Do you think it’s fun to shave my face every single day, sometimes twice a day? Did you think that plucking my eyebrows was something that I do for fun? Or that I’m force-feeding myself more food than I want in an effort to gain weight? No. All of this stuff sucks, and is between “very painful” and “very unpleasant.” And I do it because I don’t expect random strangers to call me “she” and “her” unless, you know… I appear to be a “she.” I’m not entitled to be called “she” even though I don’t look, act, or sound anything like what they understand “she” to mean.

And neither is anyone else.

Put in the work, or don’t. Be transgender or transsexual, or not. Deal with your Gender Identity Disorder. Don’t demand other people deal with it for you.

* Arguable. In fact, a recent study revealed that women who don’t wear bras have perkier breasts than women who do.

The Free Market is not Omnibenevolent

I know it’s considered heresy among libertarians and anarchists, but I feel it’s important to remind people that “The Free Market” isn’t always an acceptable answer. Says the anarcho-capitalist, right–what many would rightly call a “free market anarchist,” in fact, given  the history of the word “capitalism” and whether the market as advocated by anarcho-capitalists actually is “capitalism,” but it’s not important. I’ve written loads praising the free market, and now that we are seeing widespread cheering for the firing of white nationalists, I’m going to write something condemning the free market as the solution.

But let me explain, before you get all worked up and say that I’m abandoning the market now that it’s targeting Nazis, because, in fact, I’m not, and I’ve written this exact thing before targeting traditional values“” and other Nazi-style aphorisms. So, you see, rather than contradicting myself, I’m actually staying true to what I’ve said before, and am now applying the same logic and principles now that the shoe is on the other foot. In this article praising the virtues of personal relationships as the destroyers of bigotry (by all accounts, a positive thing), I said:

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

I also said this on Facebook, drawing attention to the inherent absurdity of attempting to use homogeneity to achieve liberty–we would recognize this as a direct attack on paleo-libertarianism, a weird and twisted school of libertarian philosophy that, in essence, argues that liberty is only for white people:

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.

The idea that any group of people can be truly homogeneous is laughable. If that divisive mentality is there, then it is there regardless of the characteristics of the people in the group. With the divisive mentality in place, paleo-libertarians, the alt-right, and Neo-Nazis think that all non-white people are the problem. Let’s presume for a moment that they somehow manage to get rid of all the non-white, non-straight, non-cisgender people. Do they suddenly stop hating people? No. They merely redirect their hatred to some other minority. Redheads become the target of their hatred, or people who are under 5 feet, 6 inches tall, because the core of their hatred–that there are differences within their group that cannot be tolerated–remains. As long as that idea remains, they will identify any and every difference and pinpoint it as the problem, and will continue on until only one person remains standing and everyone else is dead.

The point I’ve been driving at since I began thinking and writing about this subject a month or so ago is that neither homogeneity nor heterogeneity can deliver on the free market promises of “ultimate equality,” despite its ups and downs. The market, as any market advocate will tell you, swings like a pendulum, and it isn’t always fair or just. It does, however, tend to come to a point of equilibrium, one that is based on the dominant positions and ideologies about what constitutes “justice” and “equality.” If a market comes to rest indefinitely* on inequality, then it is merely a reflection that the majority of people in that society do not value equality.

As written in Fight Club, “on a long enough timeline, the survival rate of everyone drops to zero.”

Just as that is true, so is it true that “on a long enough timeline, the values embraced by a free market are reflective of the people who support that market.” This is why it’s so damning to see that so much child and sweatshop labor continues to go into much of the gimmicky, cheap bullshit bought by people at Wal-Mart; that these things have not vanished in the last few decades since we learned of the child and sweatshop labor is a tacit endorsement of child and sweatshop labor. We know that Indonesian children are making our Nikes. We just don’t care. We know that diamonds are steeped in blood. We just don’t care. We know that the cobalt that goes into our phone and laptop batteries, and soon into our Tesla electric cars, is stepped in blood and horrific child labor. We just don’t care.

With this enormous preamble out of the way, let me get to the point.

People are cheering the firing of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I’m actually inclined to view this as a Pandora’s Box–one that we painstakingly managed to close in the 60s and 70s, and one that we should not, under any circumstances, open again. It was arduous, difficult, and unjust for black Americans, Asian Americans, women, homosexuals, transsexuals (ongoing), and all of these others to have to fight an uphill battle to take back their jobs, to not be fired for these things. Thirty years ago, we all (those of sound mind and reasonable ideas–I didn’t even exist then) condemned the idea of firing a man because he was a drag queen two Fridays out of the month, because he and his wife were swingers, because his wife was black, because he was living with his girlfriend and they weren’t married, or because he was gay. How far have we truly come, if we now revisit these ideas, but simply reverse the power structures so that, instead of the white supremacists firing the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual for being a transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual, the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual fires the white supremacist for being white supremacist?

I’d argue that we haven’t changed anything. We simply turned the table around.

It’s important to remember that swords like this cut both ways, which we should damned well know from the history of American injustices against black people, LGBT people, Hispanic people, women, Asians, and everyone else. We know how this shit feels when it’s done to us, and we know that it can be done to us. As it stands, “we” have the cultural power–there is no doubt of that. We are currently the ones holding the reins of power, freely able to bend society to our will in whatever ways we want, with very few exceptions. We will not always be the ones holding the power. Less than a century ago, we were not the ones holding the power.

It so perfectly mirrors the growth of the executive branch that it’s staggering. For years, Republicans gave their approval to the growth of the executive branch, apparently never considering the possibility that it could end up in the hands of someone they didn’t like. Then Democrats did the same. Now we have Trump in power, and people are like, “You know? Maybe we shouldn’t have created this power structure that is now ripe for abuse against us instead of in favor of whatever we happen to want at that particular moment.”

More bizarrely, we’ve already been through this. We’ve already been on the receiving end of discrimination, and it’s still the case that there are tons and tons of “non-protected groups” with whom we are allies to some extent, and who are free to be fired by their employees for upsetting someone’s personal moral sensibilities.

Drag queens aren’t protected.

Swingers aren’t protected.

Interracial couples aren’t protected.

Women who have had abortions aren’t protected.

Former partiers, musicians, rappers, and the like are not protected. In fact, we see this already with colleges and employers searching through people’s histories and firing them for getting a little too wild at a party 6 years before.

Polyamorous people aren’t protected.

In fact, if we look at things rationally and objectively, we’ll find that not a whole lot are protected from anti-discrimination laws. And while I don’t think we need anti-discrimination laws at all, and certainly not more of them, the overall sentiment appears to be that “It’s okay if we discriminate against them, because the law prevents them from doing the same to us,” and this simply isn’t true.

There is no protection for contractors, of course. You could wreck my entire life by finding out who my clients are and informing them that I’m transsexual. This was actually my biggest concern with forming the Libertarian Party in my county. Even if I was an employee, and not a contractor, there is still very little protection for transgender and transsexual people, legally or socially, and none at all in the state of Mississippi.

Do you think that the white supremacists and traditional valuists in positions of authority will not retaliate? Do you think that secret KKK member Bob Greenwich, head of the marketing department in some firm, won’t suddenly begin finding reasons to fire his black employees?

Unlike many people who seem to be talking these days, I reject both. I fully recognize the right of an employer to fire anyone that they want for any reason that they want. This does not mean, however, that having the right to do something makes it the right thing to do. I have the right to fire someone for being gay, for being a white supremacist, or for being lazy. But this doesn’t mean it’s right, just, or moral to fire someone for being gay, or for being a white supremacist. The only factors that should go into employment are the person’s capabilities to do that job. I said this exact thing two weeks ago when arguing against Trump’s proposed trans military ban, and people applauded. I say it now, and I’m called a Nazi sympathizer.

On July 27, I said this:

Banning trans people from a job is dumb.

As an employer, you shouldn’t be interested in what characteristics a person has; you should be interested in their ability and skills to do the job. If you hire them according to any other criteria, you won’t be hiring the best unless it’s by complete accident.

This applies to every job.

If you want the best military in the world, then you have to hire the people who are the best. If you hire the people who are second-best or third-best because they have whatever characteristics you prefer, then your military will be second-best, third-best, or worse.

People are looking at this thing all wrong. Perhaps, on average, the extra medical and psychological needs make trans people inferior to other potential employees. But then you have people like me, whose only “need” is to be left the hell alone by people with more free time than common sense. “Can this individual do the job? Is this individual the best person for the job?” The hardships and struggles of the collective are fictitious. We are dealing with individuals.

I don’t give a damn if I hire a guy who seduced his dog, if he’s the best damn tech in the area. The “best” are usually pretty quirky, to put it kindly.

No one disagreed. No one took issue with it. It was common sense, and I was obviously right. Earlier today, I said this:

People are cheering the firing of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I’m actually inclined to view this as a Pandora’s Box–one that we painstakingly managed to close in the 60s and 70s, and one that we should not, under any circumstances, open again. It was arduous, difficult, and unjust for black Americans, Asian Americans, women, homosexuals, transsexuals (ongoing), and all of these others to have to fight an uphill battle to take back their jobs, to not be fired for these things. Thirty years ago, we all (those of sound mind and reasonable ideas–I didn’t even exist then) condemned the idea of firing a man because he was a drag queen two Fridays out of the month, because he and his wife were swingers, because his wife was black, because he was living with his girlfriend and they weren’t married, or because he was gay. How far have we truly come, if we now revisit these ideas, but simply reverse the power structures so that, instead of the white supremacists firing the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual for being a transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual, the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual fires the white supremacist for being white supremacist?

I’d argue that we haven’t changed anything. We simply turned the table around.

… which you’ll find written above. I do that often, where I write something in an article and preview it on Facebook. Anyway, I was immediately accused of being against freedom of association. That’s quite remarkable, considering that I have a long ass history of arguing in favor of freedom of association.

On an individual basis.

I wholly reject as immoral, reckless, stupid, and irresponsible the idea of disassociating from an entire group of people because of the actions of some, the words of some, ostensible similarities among its members, or whatever-fucking-else is proposed. If someone wants to fire the racist asshat Bob because he treats black customers like crap, I have absolutely no issue with that. But if someone wants to fire the racist asshat Bob because he’s a KKK member even though he’s never displayed any tendency for treating black customers differently, I have to take issue with that. Sure, they have the right to do it, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

And it’s really just a back-handed, passive aggressive forceful coercion, when it comes down to it, especially in these hypothetical numbers I gave above, where 99.99% discriminates against the 0.01%. As someone pointed out, “Then the 0.01% of people who are racists need to change their minds.” Yes, and that’s a moral hazard. “If the 0.01% don’t want to die, then they need to get on board with my ideas and stop disagreeing with me.” I’m not saying that it violates the NAP. Nor does it violate the NAP if 99.99% of people are cisgender and insist, “Then the 0.01% need to stop being transgender if they want to work.”

I’m kinda surprised that I’m saying this, but the NAP isn’t the ultimate standard on what is and isn’t moral. It’s only the standard of what must be tolerated and what must not be tolerated. It’s not a moral guide. It’s a minimal level of acceptable behavior guide. One’s morality is something for one to work out themselves, and I have many thoughts on morality–many of which would you would disagree with. I’m not saying that my moral proclamations that collectivist discrimination is morally wrong is objectively correct. I’m saying that it’s subjectively correct, and here I’ve outlined the subjective criteria for making that assertion.

It has also been stated that the 0.01% are more than welcome to form their own little society, despite that I’ve pointed out that, even in the United States, this would produce a society of only 30,000 people–nowhere near enough for a self-sufficient society in any modern terms. Besides which, the nature of leaving a society where food is bought from stores to form one where there are no stores from which to buy groceries, and where food would have to be raised and farmed, is effectively a death sentence without outside help–do we need to be reminded that the only reason the Puritan settlers survived the first winter in the New World was the benevolence of Native Americans? There’s a rather large gap there between “leaving society” and “growing one’s own food” that results in rather a lot of death.

Now I’ve got someone who says he’s closer to anarcho-communism than anarcho-capitalism suggesting market solutions, while I’m pointing out that a free market, in order to achieve liberty, requires either pure heterogeneity (practically impossible), pure homogeneity (theoretically impossible), or individualism. You know–the same thing I said a month ago, when another group–*cough* trans people *cough*–were being treated as a collective instead of as individuals with their own merits regardless of these characteristics and behaviors that had absolutely nothing to do with their ability to do a job and function within the confines of a free market.

And though I was right a month ago… Now, I’m wrong. In fact, one of the people who liked my status about this very subject when I wrote it about trans people in the military is not arguing with me, because I’ve had the audacity to say the same damned thing about individuals who, regardless of their ability to do the task they are required to do, are also white supremacists. And, in so doing, this person–who alleges to fall closer to AnComs than AnCaps–is suggesting market solutions.

I will be debating this person–presumably–on the 25th, where we will use Lincoln-Douglas format to discuss “The nature and scope of self-defense.” Honestly, I don’t think the debate is going to happen. I’ve not heard anything about it since I challenged and Matt accepted. This isn’t the way I do things, you know? I iron out the details beforehand, and I still don’t know the venue where we are having this debate. But, as soon as I have that info, I’ll share it.

I made that crappy thing. Someone is, again presumably, making a better one. Since they’re doing it for free out of kindness, I’m not badgering them about it, but it doesn’t seem to have been made, and that further makes me wonder whether this debate is actually going to happen.

* Markets never rest indefinitely, but that’s not the point.

A Psychopath’s Responsibility

I’ve been asked repeatedly my thoughts on the girl who cajoled her boyfriend into killing himself, and I’ve been hesitant to really say much on the subject, but I’ve given the matter enough thought now. So strap in–we’re going to cover many different angles very quickly.

Prison?

Whether the girl is guilty of murder or not, prison is not the answer, because two wrongs don’t make a right. Whatever the girl may or may not be guilty of, prison is not the answer. So it goes without saying that, whatever my thoughts on what the girl did, I am not saying that she should be kidnapped and imprisoned against her will by the state.

With That Said…

I’m frankly stunned by the number of libertarians I’m seeing who express the sentiment that the girl bears absolutely no responsibility for the guy’s death, and, without being overly generalizing, I suspect that most of these people have never witnessed nor experienced psychological abuse. It should go without saying, though, that psychological abuse… is abuse. Not only is psychological abuse abuse, but it’s a critical tool in the psychopath’s toolbox, if not the most important tool at their disposal. It is, after all, psychological abuse that prevents men and women in violent relationships from leaving. It is what causes one to continually go back to the abuser, no matter how flagrant the abuses are. I’ve written about this before, having gone through it with a psychopath, and won’t spend a lot of time on it here.

I’ll say, however, that only someone who is ignorant of the damage that a psychopath can do to a person’s mind could allow someone to absolve psychopaths of the consequences of their psychological abuse. It is psychological abuse that causes teens to kill themselves. It is psychological abuse that causes transgender and gay teens to kill themselves. Psychological abuse, while not as obviously a violation of the NAP as punching someone yourself, clearly is a form of violence. I would argue that it’s a more horrific form of violence than physical abuse, because it is the psychological abuse that causes victims of violence to return to their abuser, and that causes kids in abusive homes to believe they are wicked and filled with demons, even if they have done nothing wrong, which may manifest in the person’s mind for decades to come, longer after the scars of any physical violence have healed.

It was long-term psychological abuse that caused me to be in the third grade and begging a devout Christian friend to stand before me and say, “Get thee behind me, Satan” to exorcise the demons from me–demons that I firmly believed possessed me because of the desires and needs that I had to repress. It was that same psychological abuse that caused me to be in my late 20s before I was able to come to terms with something that had been true at least since I was three years old and hiding my underwear so that I had an excuse to wear my sister’s. More than two decades of self-loathing, doubt, confusion, strife, and suicide attempts followed before I was able to come to terms with everything, and the psychological, religiously-motivated abuse is the reason why–a fact to which the scars on my wrists will testify.

I was in the fifth grade, I think, the first time I attempted to hang myself. Young and inexperienced, I used a braided leather belt. It snapped. For the next several years, I cut myself regularly. They were not suicide attempts by any means, but neither were they cries for attention; I did everything that I could to hide them. I wouldn’t be able to explain why I did it, but I did. My body is marked with scars from razor blades. My wrists, my upper arms, my chest, my legs… And, of course, there were the sincere attempts, the hospitalization in a behavioral ward, and all that fun stuff.

Testaments to the tremendous damage that extended psychological abuse can cause.

If you don’t think that the girl who texted her boyfriend and stayed on the phone with him as he cried out and choked to death bears any responsibility for that, then you don’t have any ground to stand on to lament what my father and grandmother did to me, because they are two manifestations of the same thing: psychological abuse.

The Psychopath’s Toolkit

The psychopath is an expert at manipulation. David Karesh, the Church of Scientology, and countless other cults around the world are experts at manipulation, but there are also those whose ambitions are smaller, and bloodlust more controlled. They seek out damaged people and then destroy them. They know exactly how to worm their way into your mind, and how to bend you to their will.

If you think you’re immune to it, you’re not.

The only thing a person can do to arm themselves against it is to gain knowledge in the psychopath’s tactics, to learn the manipulation techniques, to stay alert of them. However, in learning those techniques, a person will find out exactly how much damage a psychopath can do to a person’s mind, and I find it hard to believe, to be completely honest, that anyone aware of the manner in which a psychopath can manipulate a person’s mind and destroy their agency would go on to deny that the psychopath has responsibility for what this destroyed person does.

Where shall we draw the line?

Is it morally wrong to type out “kys” in World of Warcraft’s Trade Chat? Should a person be considered guilty of murder if, having typed that out to someone, that person then kills themselves?

Why do we have to draw a line?

“One size fits all” justice is fundamentally flawed, because the circumstances of actions matter, infinitely more than the actions themselves.

If I push someone down, and they break their arm, then I am guilty of assault.

However, if I push someone down and out of the way of an oncoming train, and they break their arm, then I am a hero.

What’s the difference? There isn’t one. In both scenarios, I pushed the person, they fell, and they broke their arm. The only thing that’s different are the circumstances. Since the circumstances are different, the hypothetical result if I had done nothing have changed. If I had done nothing in the first example, the person would have continued on through their day without a broken arm–a superior consequence than what came about when I pushed them. If I did nothing in the second example, though, the person would have died–an inferior consequence than what came about when I pushed them. We are comparing hypotheticals here, and we’re making our assessment of morality based around that. That is always how we assign our moral values.

The alternative, had this girl not taken her actions, are that the guy would still be alive. Because of her actions, he is dead.

I see no way of escaping the conclusion that she is responsible for that. We’re not talking about someone who opted not to run into a burning house to try to rescue someone else. We’re not talking about hateful children who laughed as they watched someone drowned, and who couldn’t have saved the drowning victim anyway*. We’re talking about a girl who explicitly told her psychologically vulnerable and long-term victim of psychological abuse boyfriend to get back in the vehicle and finish dying. I am stunned that so many people are arguing that she did nothing wrong simply because she didn’t physically hold the door shut.

Group Responsibility?

While discussing this with someone on Facebook, someone said that only the individual is responsible for their actions. I pointed out that, by this reasoning, Hitler was not responsible for the Holocaust, and Stalin was not responsible for the murder of twenty-five million Christian farmers. To my shock, she said that was correct–the individuals who carried out those orders were responsible.

I don’t deny that the individuals who committed the actions are responsible. I’ve pointed this out in the past. However, the person who gave the command is absolutely as responsible. That’s what it literally means to have authority, to have power over someone, to have the responsibility of making decisions for someone. The psychopath takes this power slowly and with systemic psychological abuse, but they take the power all the same. Even so, the brainwashing tactics of the military are shockingly similar to those used by psychopaths: destroy their individuality and make them dependent on the command structure. That’s at least as much the point of boot camp as is physical training. The stated purpose is to break people down as individuals and build them back up as a part of a machine. This is done through psychological abuse.

No one is saying “Group responsibility.”

I am saying that all individuals who play a role in making sure that an action is undertaken bear responsibility for that action being undertaken. Quite the opposite, I’m the one arguing for individual responsibility. I’m not absolved of responsibility if I order a friend to kill someone and that friend does it. “Woah! I didn’t kill that person!” I could argue, and these NAP-advocates, evidently (the ones with whom I’ve spoken directly) would agree. I didn’t kill that person.

Even though I’m literally the one who caused it to happen…

Yes, the soldier who drops the bomb bears responsibility for that. So does the commander who ordered the bomb to be dropped, though.

“They could just disobey orders” is an inadequate answer. And it’s true that, if everyone refused to obey orders, war would cease to exist. But who is advocating group responsibility now? For the individual, refusing to obey orders results in arrest, kidnapping, and imprisonment. Through coercive means, that individual has most, if not all, responsibility for the action waived, in the same way that we American citizens bear no responsibility for what the state does with our tax money because, through coercive means, we are forced to obey and pay taxes. You can’t have it both ways, where Americans aren’t to blame for how tax dollars are used because we could just choose to not pay taxes, but other individuals are to blame for the results of actions they take under duress.

To say that only the person who personally executes a given action is responsible for that action is short-sighted and extremely narrow. It is tunnel vision on the minutae of the action. There is a lot of cause and effect that goes into every single action that a person takes, and not all of that is the person’s fault–much of it is beyond that person’s control. To suggest that only the person who personally executes the action is responsible is to say that a man who wakes one day to find a gun to his head and someone telling him, “If you don’t find and kill one person right now, I will kill you,” is the only person responsible for the action he commits, and that the person who put the gun to his head and gave him that ultimatum bears no responsibility.

“He still made the choice, though… He could have chosen to just die. He didn’t. He chose to murder someone, so that’s on him!”

It’s such a narrow way of viewing… reality. Cause and effect. Actions and consequences. Responsibility.

Suicide Isn’t a Violation of the NAP

No, it isn’t, and a person of sound mind has every right to take their own life. I’ve argued before, and will again, that suicide is not indicative of mental illness. However, this guy in question was clearly mentally ill. He was clearly unstable and incapable of making the decision to kill himself. If he was capable of making that decision alone, he wouldn’t have gotten out of the vehicle, for fuck’s sake. That he did get out of the vehicle is ipso facto proof that he did not have the agency required to soundly make the decision to kill himself.

I think a lot of the people arguing that the girl didn’t do anything “that wrong” don’t know what the girl did. They seem to think she just sent a few text messages. If only that was the extent of what she did… But it isn’t. He got out of the vehicle and called her, and she told him to get back in and finish killing himself. Then she stayed on the phone with him while he cried out in agony and died, because she wanted to ensure that he did see it through. That’s a FAR cry from typing out “kys” in a chatroom.

Through the verbal persuasion that is the gift of the psychopath, she held him in that vehicle until he died.

You can’t possibly think that a guy who got out of a vehicle, having decided that he didn’t want to go through with killing himself, called his girlfriend, and then climbed back in and stayed on the phone with her while he died was “of sound mind” to be making decisions about whether he wanted to live or die. The girl was clearly a poison to him.

If someone called you and confessed that they had been about to kill themselves, but gotten out of the vehicle, would you, under any circumstances, tell them to get back in, and then stay with them on the phone while they died? Absolutely not. Every single one of us would say, “Where are you? I’m coming to get you. Stay on the phone with me while I drive to you. Don’t get back in the vehicle.”

Because we’re not psychopaths.

No, we shouldn’t let the state set precedents in its One Size Fits All legal system that would allow it to prosecute anyone who ever said “kill yourself” in a text message, phone call, or chat room. Yet there’s an enormous gap between these things and what this girl did. And just as we should not allow the state to set precedents like that, neither should we set the precedent that psychopaths are not responsible for the consequences of their psychological abuse because it technically doesn’t include physical assault.

But abuse is abuse.

The NAP does not specify that violence has to be physical.

* Those who are not trained divers or trained lifeguards should never attempt to rescue a drowning person. Cold though it is to say, attempting it will ensure only that two people die. Drowning people thrash wildly, panicking, and are extremely likely to knock you unconscious. If you do not have a lifejacket and a rope or boat, you should never attempt to rescue a drowning person yourself, unless you’ve explicitly been trained to be a fantastic swimmer. Not only that, but if you do manage to get behind the person without being knocked unconscious, do you know how heavy another human being is when you’re pulling them through water? The average person doesn’t have the stamina to swim a hundred yards alone, much less when dragging someone else through the water.

That Summer in Arkansas

This is an excerpt from my book Dancing in Hellfire , which is a true story of my life, basically. I am posting it here because I was about to say something derivative on Facebook, but I stopped because I realized that no one would know what the hell I was talking about.

Undoubtedly, the worst four to five months of my life, bar none. There is so much ground to cover here, and it’s highly unlikely that I will get the events in the correct order, but the chronology isn’t terribly important, for the most part. In my mind, it’s all blurred together, encapsulated by the words “That Summer in Arkansas.” There’s only one such summer that I could be referring to—that one between the second and third grade. A nightmare that didn’t seem like it was ever going to end.

It began as an ordinary visit. Mom came and got Britt and me, and this was probably the first time since Easter that we had seen or talked to her, since two visits within a few months was very high frequency for her. At some point over the weekend, she announced that she was not going to take us back, and that she was just going to keep us. Legally, she was more or less within her rights to do that: the agreement that my grandmother would keep us was a largely informal one, because the courts hadn’t settled the custody issue and didn’t seem about to settle it. Even though it had been nearly three years since the separation, the court was no nearer to settling things. In fact, the courts never did rule one way or another. What happened? How come none of the people who are paid to handle such matters was handling it? The divorce finalized, but the question of custody was never settled.

Mom was in full-blown denial about her situation, as would become evident very soon, but I didn’t realize it then—of course, I didn’t know it then. I was eight years old. It was true, though: we never had any money or food, our electricity was cut off due to non-payment several times, and even our water was cut off at one point. And she seriously thought that she could raise two kids in that environment. Plus, she was being beaten pretty much every weekend by that drunk man-child.

Second grade had passed without much of significance happening. We didn’t see mom every other weekend, of course, because she never had gas or a reliable vehicle since she always bought $600 cars. She was always having flats, or some other car trouble. We would receive a letter from her telling us to be by the phone on a certain day at a certain time, and we would sit eagerly by the phone all night. She never called. A week or two later, we would receive another letter that offered up some kind of excuse why she hadn’t been able to call, and she would throw out another day that she would call, or she would announce a day that she was going to get us. Then Britt and I would sit at the front door, hanging out on the garbage can, all damned Friday night, waiting eagerly to see headlights pull into the driveway.

They almost never did.

But she finally managed to get together the whopping ten dollars needed to cover the gas to make the hour-long trip, and decided early that summer that she wasn’t going to take us back.

It was then that we met David, another one of Everett’s four kids, much older than I was but also much younger than my brother. He was a decent enough guy, I suppose, except that he never did anything about Everett’s violence, either. In some ways, I can understand—I know firsthand how hard it can be to confront your father, and Everett was prone to violence. But no one ever confronted Everett about his violence, not even my own brother, which is one of the reasons I’ve never fully been able to forgive Eric.

Mom still lived at that house in Trumann next to the elderly couple, and Everett lived there too. It was an older house, but respectable enough, and had a dilapidated shed in the back that I liked to play in. Everett had a fascination with pocketknives, he gave me a few, and then he taught me how to throw them. I spent hours playing in the battered shed, flipping my knives and throwing them into the distant wall. At the age of eight, between the second and third grades. There were many occasions when I nearly stabbed myself.

As though there was something worse than nearly stabbing myself in the eye with a rebounding throwing knife (because mom or Everett had given me a set of throwing knives they found at a pawnshop), the shed was in poor condition anyway and not stable. The rafters were low enough that I could jump and grab hold of them. So I would—I’d jump and grab the rafters, climb onto them, swing around on them, flip upside down and hang precariously while I practiced throwing knives. It was wild, dangerous stuff that no one should have been doing, but certainly not a second grader, and my mom was well aware that I was doing it. But, in a strange way, she also trusted that I knew my abilities and limits, and that I wasn’t going to hurt myself.

And you know what? I never did hurt myself.

If all that wasn’t dangerous enough, Eric built a tree house for us in an enormous walnut tree in the backyard. Being a cool brother, of course, he built the tree house very high above the ground. No matter how high he’d built the house, though, I climbed up well past it and higher, swinging freely from one branch to the next, and I was higher even than the house’s ceiling when I did this stuff—a fall that would almost certainly have killed me. A fall that did happen that summer, but not to me.

I still loved playing Nintendo, and I did so regularly, but it would be unfair to say that I never did anything else. We lived only a few minutes from two parks, I frequently walked to both, and Britt often accompanied me. One of them was pretty boring, but the other had swings and other cool things—it was further away, though. Mom let us go to these places without supervision, of course, but I only bothered going to the distant one a few times.

I’ve often wondered, when looking back, whether my mom was trying to get my sister or me killed, because she did some reckless things when it came to parenting. I say that mom trusted in me and trusted that I knew my limitations, but that’s purely speculation on my part. Because the fact is that I was in the backyard, throwing knives and swinging from the rafters of a crumbling shed, and shifting wildly among the branches of a tree well above the tree house. Mom did, at one point, tell me to stop swinging from the limbs, but she made it clear that she was only telling me so because Everett’s younger son (who I haven’t mentioned yet) looked up to me and would copy me, and he was likely to get hurt. She didn’t say, “You might slip up, and we can’t afford a hospital visit.” She said, “Charlie will imitate you, and he will slip up.”

Mom’s car stopped working, as her vehicles often did, so we walked everywhere that we needed to go. Eventually, Everett’s parents let us borrow their two-seater bikes, but we didn’t have those for a while, and so we walked.

We went to the store one day, and Britt and I opted to stay and play outside while mom went in and did her shopping. After ten or fifteen minutes, she came back out and said that she had one more store to go to, told us which one it was, and Britt and I again decided we would just stay where we were. Mom left to walk to the other store, and I got bored a few minutes later, and then I went down the street to find mom. It wasn’t hard, and I quickly found her. After she finished her shopping, we came back outside and started heading back toward the initial store, the place where Britt and I had been playing.

And Britt was nowhere in sight.

“Where is your sister?” mom demanded as we rushed toward the store.

“I don’t know!” I cried, feeding off the panic and hostility in mom’s voice. “She was right there!”

As we jogged back, I shook my head, crying, and I mumbled, “I shouldn’t have left her alone…”

“No, you shouldn’t have!” mom snapped at me.

As we neared the store, though, we had a better view of its front, and it turned out that Britt was standing back in a corner, and we simply hadn’t been able to see her from the angle we were at. Years later, I realized what a horrendously foul response that was from my mother. “No, you shouldn’t have!” she said to me.

I was eight years old.

Assuming the worst, what in the hell would it have accomplished if I had stayed with Britt and someone kidnapped her? It would have meant only that Britt and I both were kidnapped. I was freaking eight years old, and Britt was the older one, at nine. I could have no more fought off someone than Britt could have. Still, “No, you shouldn’t have!” she hissed at her eight-year-old son who was already blaming himself.

“No, I shouldn’t have!” is what she should have said. She was the adult who left her eight and nine year old kids playing outside a store.

Britt’s birthday was horrible that year, and was probably still the worst birthday of her life. I’m not sure what caused things to go so badly, but they did. Britt and mom got into a fight—they were actually fighting quite often—and the most vicious one came near the end of That Summer, when mom threw a burning cigarette butt and hit Britt in the leg. I don’t think Britt ever forgave mom for that.

That was the year that Britt got the Polly Pocket toy that she had wanted for Easter, so I’m not sure what spurred the fight. I just remember that Britt cried a lot, and that I wanted her to be happy. But she wasn’t. And though I don’t recall ever seeing anything odd, there’s no telling how deep Everett’s abuses ran, and I certainly wouldn’t put any particular abuse beyond a monster like him. I don’t believe that’s the reason that Britt and mom fought so much, but I honestly have no idea why they did, and it’s clearly too painful of a subject for my sister for me to bring it up now.

I believe it was just that Britt was as miserable there as I was. The electricity was cut off a few times, but we weren’t allowed to run the air conditioners anyway. Arkansas summers are hot, but all we could do was open the windows and use box fans. That doesn’t help very much when the temperature is in the high nineties and the humidity isn’t far behind.

Then, of course, was the fact that mom got the hell beaten out of her regularly by a drunk piece of shit. And this is why I say that Eric would not have stood idly by if he had been forced to witness the abuse as Britt and I were—there’s only so many times that you can watch and hear your mother getting the shit beaten out of her before you’re ready to take matters into your own hands, regardless of your size and regardless of your age.

It was horrible.

You’ll forgive me for not going into elaborate descriptions of what it’s like to see and hear your mother being viciously beaten by an abusive alcoholic, but it’s every bit as awful as your imagination suggests, and so much worse when you’re witnessing it at eight and nine years old.

And one night I could no longer take it.

“[My name], don’t!” Britt whispered as I got up from the couch.

I don’t blame her. We were terrified when this abuse happened. We were too scared to move, too scared to speak, and even too scared to breathe loudly. If we had to go to the bathroom, then we held it. Mom was a lot bigger than us, and she couldn’t protect herself—how could she have protected us? Everett had already thrown a pair of scissors at one of us, so we had no idea if he would hit us. All we could do, at two in the morning, as their shadows danced on the floor, spilling in from the bedroom where they fought, listening to such sickening words as—

“Everett, I can’t breathe…”

–being choked out by our mother, was cower in fear and silence.

But I could cower no more. I had been pushed to the brink. I had seen this too many times; I had heard this too many times. This had been going on for too long, had been happening too often, and my mind snapped. For too long, I’d listened to my mother choking and rasping that she couldn’t breathe. For too long, I’d heard her being slammed into a wall, pushed through a window, punched in the stomach and face, jerked around and slapped. I knew only that I had to act, that something had to be done, and that I was going to do it because no one else was going to.

Someone had to put a stop to this, and there was no one stepping up to do it. And that meant it fell to me. It didn’t register to me that I was eight years old and about to step up to a grown man with a long history of violence. I didn’t care, because I was going to do what no one else was stepping up to do. It didn’t occur to me that I was eight years old, or that it wasn’t fair that I was way too young to be faced with the situation that I was faced with. Besides, no one ever said that life was fair.

No police were coming. My dad wasn’t coming. My brother wasn’t coming. My mom couldn’t handle it. And that meant it was on me, and only me.

I pulled two sharp knives from the kitchen drawer.

“Mom, I’ve got a knife!” I screamed.

Silence fell for a moment, and I was ignored as the horrific abuse continued. I immediately fell into tears, sobbing uncontrollably and whispering, “I’m sorry, mom. I’m sorry.”

I was sorry because I didn’t have it in me. I was sorry because I didn’t have the courage, the strength, or the age to do anything about it. I was sorry because I could do nothing to help her. I went back to the couch that was adjacent to the loveseat that my sister was sleeping on, and I continued crying until long after the violence stopped, because there was nothing else that I could do.

No one was coming, and I couldn’t stop it.

 

Hell Continues

Everett’s other two kids came that July to stay with us, and they were about mine and Britt’s ages, though Anne was slightly older than Britt was, and Charlie was slightly younger than I was. The first Power Rangers movie also hit the theaters, and I badly wanted to go. Mom suggested that I go around picking up cans so that I could earn the money, and I didn’t object at all to that. So that’s what I spent a lot of that summer doing: walking around with Charlie, picking up empty cans so that I could pay my way into the movie, because mom didn’t have the $5 to spare for the admission.

Charlie had some weird issues, though. Mom forced me to put up my Nintendo while he was there, and I was told that it was because he had a history of destroying them. He also burned down a house when he was much younger, by putting a sheet of paper onto a gas stove, or something like that. I never knew the details, but none of the adults ever disputed his claim about it, so it seems that it was true. And Charlie was, of course, proud that he’d burned a house down.

It simply made the summer worse than it already was. I didn’t spend all my time playing video games, obviously, but I did play them a lot, and then I suddenly wasn’t allowed to at all, for an entire month. One morning before Charlie woke up, mom let me connect and play it. I played Mega Man 4, one of my favorite games, but I was only allowed a few minutes before Charlie woke up. He walked through, rubbed his eyes, and mumbled, “There’s a Nintendo?” He kept walking to the kitchen, though. I furiously unhooked it and put it away, and we never discussed it again.

One day I was left home alone, and a man from the water department came by and did something outside. Keeping in mind that I was eight years old, I merely ensured that the door was locked and then watched him from the window. When mom returned, she learned that we didn’t have any water, and I told her about the man who came by.

“Why didn’t you stop him?” she yelled at me, as though her eight-year-old child was really supposed to have been able to handle a responsibility of that magnitude—or even understand something of that magnitude. I’m sure the city would also have been quite interested to learn that she had left an eight year old at home alone, and I sincerely doubt that I’d have been able to accomplish anything if I had talked to the man.

But, as usual, something had gone wrong, and I was just the convenient target to blame it on. Did she really expect her eight-year-old child to go and meet a stranger who had come into the yard? “Are one of your parents home?” the man would have immediately asked, a question that I would obviously have answered honestly. And this was a stranger to me. I had no understanding that this was a city or government employee—it was just some stranger, some strange, grown man in the yard. When I saw him, I verified that the door was locked; I definitely wasn’t about to open it.

Thank goodness, I had more sense than my mom did.

So there in the middle of June—because this actually happened before Charlie and Ashely arrived—we had no water at all. Each morning, Britt and I walked up the street to a nearby gas station, and filled up a five-gallon bucket with water from their faucet behind the building. We were only able to do this a few times, though, because the clerks found out and came out yelling at us, chasing us off, and telling us that we weren’t allowed to do that.

It goes without saying that it was awful, to not have water or air conditioning in the Arkansas summer, but it was even worse than that, because we never had anything to eat, either. Anne remarked once that I ate the equivalent of two biscuits a week, and she wasn’t wrong—I rarely ate anything. Because on top of having nothing to eat, my nerves were absolutely fried. I was always nauseated and on the edge of vomiting, and mom’s “solution” to this was to take me to the doctor for my “anxiety”—something that never happened anyway. Of course, the real solution would have been to get us out of that nightmare where we had no food, no water, and no cooling, and where my early morning wasn’t interrupted by the sounds of horrific violence.

Biscuits are also an apt comparison because I ate a lot of biscuits—there was never much else to eat, and biscuits were the primary staple. We would cook biscuits, then everyone would get two, and we’d dip them in this horrible concoction of peanut butter and maple syrup.

Then there was Treet Meat. It’s essentially a generic version of Spam, and it was the only meat that I ate through that summer. And, sadly, that name was also appropriate—it was a treat to have, because it was actual food. We didn’t even get it that often, because we couldn’t; we were poor as dirt. We didn’t even have water. Our food situation was no better. Throw on top of that the alcoholism and abuse, and it was an absolute nightmare, a true living hell. That, it seems, was what mom considered best for her kids, since she undoubtedly “only wanted what was best” for her kids.

And, unbelievably, it actually got worse.

Because as though all that wasn’t bad enough, the property owners tasked us with tearing down the shed, which we did. We then lit a bonfire with the wood from it in the backyard, and all that was fine. A few days later, however, we also lit a bonfire in the front yard. And from then on, we were under attack by fleas—fully under attack. Mom said that the fire in the backyard chased them into the front, and then the fire in the front yard chased them into the house. That seems likely, because we had a total infestation. Fleas were everywhere. No matter where we went or what we did, fleas where all over us, biting away.

Mom’s solution to this was some flea powder and anti-itch lotion, but that was woefully inadequate to deal with an infestation of that scale. Bug bombs wouldn’t have been enough. Only an exterminator would really have been sufficient, and it would likely have taken multiple visits from an exterminator.

The situation was beyond terrible, and it’s hard to imagine it being any worse and still leaving the victims alive and sane. How much more could my sanity have taken? How much more could my sister have taken? Hunger, thirst, miserable heat, domestic violence, and constantly being bitten by fleas. These are the reasons why it will always be “That Summer in Arkansas” to me, and why it will (hopefully) always be regarded as the worst summer of my life.

During the day, Charlie, David, and I went through the neighborhoods and picked up cans from the side of the road. That was probably the only bit of good parenting that my mother ever did—if I wanted to go to the movie, then I needed to earn the money. I would say that she might have been pushing it a bit, since I was only eight years old, but it’s also true that it was the only way I could have gone anyway.

Then the glorious day came that we called the person to come and buy the cans from me. It was a little over three dollars, and to my horror, he handed half of it to me, and the other half to Charlie. I threw a fit. And, looking back, I was right to throw a fit, because I was the one collecting the cans and had been from the beginning. I wasn’t being a brat when I said that Charlie didn’t help, because he really hadn’t—he simply came along because there was nothing else to do, and because that’s what I was going to do whether he came or not. I carried the garbage bags, I asked people for their cans, and I picked them up from the side of the road. Undoubtedly, Charlie picked up a few, but he wasn’t asked to, and he certainly hadn’t picked up half of them. I can understand, I guess, why the man presumed it was best to split the money between Charlie and me, but it still seems it would have been better for him to give it to my mother for her to handle. I worked all through that summer doing it, and three dollars was already not enough to go to the movie, but a dollar and fifty cents was nowhere near enough.

I was eventually given all the money—which, as I say, is good since I was the one doing it—but obviously still was not enough to pay for the movie. In another display of surprisingly good parenting, however, mom gave me the other two dollars that I needed, and I was able to buy the ticket and watch the movie. I didn’t get popcorn, a drink, or anything else; I just watched the movie, and it was great, because I’d spent the entire summer working to pay my way into it. I wasn’t entirely successful, but no one could say that I didn’t try.

One afternoon as we played in the tree… I don’t recall exactly what we were doing, but Charlie was swinging around in the branches as I did before my mom asked me to stop. And Charlie made a mistake. He fell almost in slow motion, and the three of us could only watch in shock as he fell, slamming into branches as he plummeted. We screamed as he screamed, and then there was a loud and sickening thud as he slammed against the ground.

Mom and Everett got him inside and called an ambulance. Charlie was able to move and able to stand, and the paramedics asked about taking him to the hospital to check if he had a concussion. To me, it seemed obvious. Dude fell out of a tree. His back was lacerated from the branches that had whipped against his flesh as he fell, and he had pounded against the ground. Why were people discussing whether to take him to the hospital? The ambulance was already there, after all—get the boy some medical attention.

But they didn’t. Because it would have been too expensive.

Charlie swooned at the door and nearly fainted, but caught himself on the jamb. Mom and Everett agreed to keep an eye on him for signs of a concussion, but he still didn’t go to the hospital, and none of us climbed the tree again.

Charlie proved more or less okay, though, and he and I stood in the front yard one day as I prepared to show the whole world once more what a jackass I was. A small, purple truck came through as I hoisted up a very tiny pebble—very tiny. Smaller than a piece of cat food, and very light—far too light to cause any damage. As the truck drove past, in full view of everyone and everything, I pulled back my arm and released, hitting the truck with that pebble.

Brakes screeched. Charlie and I bolted inside.

The man driving the truck, understandably pissed off, said that it was the short one who threw it, and that meant Charlie. Mom and Everett yelled for Charlie as the man left, evidently content to let them handle it, and I stayed hidden in the back, fully prepared to let Charlie take the fall for it. Because I was terrified, too. Charlie wouldn’t have that, though, which is good, and he told them that it was I. When asked directly, I did not deny it. There was a reason, after all, that I was hiding in the back.

That I was going to let Charlie take the blame just pissed Everett off more, but it’s not like there was ever much chance for that to happen. The dude mistakenly told them “the short one,” they called for Charlie, and Charlie told them it was me. But Everett was furious, and I suspect he had been waiting for such an opportunity all summer. He wanted to beat me.

Mom wouldn’t allow that, though, which is good. Because, honestly, if Everett had laid a hand on me, my dad would have killed him. As I said earlier, I never held the delusion that my dad was a superhero, as so many young kids do, but my dad wouldn’t have needed to be a superhero to take on Everett, or to kill him—and there is no doubt: my dad would have done both. Everett was the kind of man who hit women; the last thing he needed was to fight someone who was, at the very least, a real man. And my dad would have been so enraged that there probably wouldn’t have been a fight; he probably would have just shot the asshole.

Or stabbed him, as I had once been ready to do.

Mom took me into the bathroom, and I was crying hysterically, because I knew I’d done something wrong, and I didn’t typically do things like that. I really didn’t. I was just showing off in front of Charlie, and mom knew it, too. She also knew that there was no chance that I was going to do it again—it was all over my teary face. She had already promised Everett that she would whip me, though, and I’m sure that she intended to, until she got me in the bathroom with the doors shut.

Mom knew me better than that, though. She surely understood exactly why I had done it, and she and Everett were both aware that the thing I’d thrown was tiny—far too tiny to do any damage at all. And the guy checked his truck extensively, but there was no damage to it whatsoever. The tiny little pebble almost certainly hit one of his hubcaps, in fact, given the distance involved and the very low mass of the pebble. What I did was wrong, I knew that, and my mother knew that I knew that— and she knew that I had known it at the time that I threw it.

But there was also the fact that no damage was done, and that I undoubtedly would never have thrown something that would have broken a window or caused a dent. What I did simply caused a noise. There was no damage, and she knew that was not by accident. She made it clear to me that I wasn’t to do something like that again, but there was no chance that I was going to anyway, and she told me that Everett wanted to get at me.

In hindsight, I somewhat wish that he would have. Oh, sure, it would have hurt then, but when my dad found out, he would have beat the ever-loving hell out of Everett, and if there’s anyone who deserves to be beaten fifteen-sixteenths to death, it’s Everett Barber. And if Everett had ever laid a finger on me, my dad would have torn him to pieces. Everett did later say, “You’re lucky you ain’t my son, or that hide would be tanned and you would be able to talk for a week!”

Instead, mom spanked the toilet, and we both pretended that she’d spanked me. In fact, she lightly tapped me with the belt, but she grinned when she did it—that way we weren’t lying. That was the way that my mom and I handled things—she respected me, and I respected her. She didn’t have to roar and command me to stop swinging high in the tree; she asked me, explained her reasoning, and I respected her enough to obey. And she had been correct. Charlie had gotten hurt doing it, but it wasn’t because he wanted to do what I was doing.

Of course, Charlie didn’t believe that she’d spanked me, being a little snitch who was double-checking for Everett, and he asked me repeatedly. I consistently answered that she had, and she said the same. But she didn’t, because she was my mother, and she knew me better than that. I was no longer a rebellious kindergartener forced to adjust to a separation and trying to cling to the only normalcy that I had by eschewing school and staying with my mother. I was the kid who had just spent an entire summer collecting cans to pay his own way into a movie.

But no, Everett Barber. Violence is not the way that my mother communicated with me. Weak, ignorant people like you communicate with violence.

There is never a reason to spank a child. Talking to a child and reasoning with the child will earn the child’s respect, and will give the child a reason to respect and trust the adult as an authority figure. Resorting to violence will not earn the child’s respect; it will only earn the child’s fear. But I never again came close to throwing a rock or pebble at a vehicle, and violence wasn’t necessary to make that happen—simply talking to me was. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that an asshole like Everett immediately jumped to violence as the solution to misbehavior.

Everett was a violent asshole, and it’s proof that the universe doesn’t care, that he lives on while my mother has been dead for nearly two decades. This man directly responsible for untold amounts of pain and suffering, and who inflicted violence upon numerous people. Obviously, he doesn’t deserve to die by any means, and my mother was no saint, but, between the two, one of them deserves to be alive a lot more than the other.

Eric forgave Everett. I imagine that was easy, since Eric never witnessed the horrors that Britt and I did.

I nearly saw Everett again, that first weekend we spent with Eric after reconnecting with him, and I told Eric that it would be a very, very bad idea for Everett to come anywhere near me. Eric offered a weak excuse about how Everett is the grandfather of his son, and that they have to be civil, but I did not and do not care about that. This man relentlessly beat my mother in fits of alcohol-induced rage because he couldn’t face his own failures and inadequacies, and he never apologized to my sister or me. Eric said that Everett is clean now, and that he went through Alcoholics Anonymous. That may be, but he missed a step. He missed a few people that he was supposed to apologize to for some of his wrongdoings. My sister and I should have been pretty close to the top of the list.

With dysfunction of that scale, it certainly wasn’t only during the day that they fought. They fought almost constantly, and one of the many lessons I learned from mom is always have my car keys attached to a belt loop on my jeans. She did so, and it was extremely handy one day when they got into a fight. We planned to leave—probably to go to Aunt Diane’s—but she forgot something inside. By the time she turned around to go back in, Everett had already locked the door.

I will never forget that asshole’s stupid, childish grin as he parted the blinds and gave my mom the finger.

Britt and I stayed in the car for the next few hours as they fought inside, because there was no chance that we were going in there while that was happening. One walks on eggshells when there’s a lot of domestic violence, regardless of whom it is targeted at, because one is constantly afraid that something is going to set that violent son of a bitch off, and no one wants to be the person who causes it.

Charlie and Anne soon left with their mom to go back to Oklahoma, and that sucked, because I did enjoy hanging out with Charlie. I was happy to have my video games back, of course, but it wasn’t fun that a friend was leaving. I would never see him again, either—or Anne, for that matter.

It was soon time to register for school, and that was totally weird. I’d already changed schools several times. I started in South Pontotoc Elementary, but spent a few days in the city school—that was an awkward and unpleasant experience. I wasn’t there long enough to make friends, and the vibe in that school was strangely different from the county school. There was a lot of snobbery, and the playground sucked. Then I went to East Tate, and suddenly I was transferring to a school in Arkansas.

Dad and grandma came, to try to get us, before school started, and they weren’t trying to work within the legal system, mostly because we all knew by that point that the case was a total joke to the state. But mom was served with some kind of papers—it wasn’t a summon, and it seemed to be something that grandma paid a lawyer to write up and make it look official and scary. It was also filled with lies. For one, it asserted that we lived in a mobile home, that mom and Everett were doing crack and other things like that, none of which was true, but I understand in hindsight where they were coming from. But I refused to lose my mom again.

Dad promised us that he had gifts for us in the backseat of the car, and all that we had to do was climb in and get them. He held the door open, and it was all too easy for us to see that there was nothing in the backseat. The elderly couple next door knew enough of what was happening that they wanted to ensure things didn’t get out of control, so they came out and sat on their porch whenever dad was there and pulling his stunts. Britt and I weren’t stupid, though, and we told them that they could hand us the gifts, because we weren’t climbing in to get them.

They were trying to kidnap us, in effect, and I have to wonder what legal grounds they had to do so. What would have happened, if they had shoved us into the backseat and drove off? Someone would have called the police, and there would likely have been a roadblock—then what? Clearly, mom wasn’t in violation of any legal order, or they wouldn’t have had such a difficult time trying to go the legal route.

On one of these several “visits,” I stood near mom and Britt on the porch, as dad and grandma stood by their car at the road, shouting back and forth with mom because they had been firmly told to get off her property. “Does this look like a mobile home to you?” I shouted, because I was furious that they were again trying to take us away from our mom, and Britt evidently preferred to stay, too.

Life was borderline unbearable there in Arkansas, but it’s curious to think about what implications that would have had for me being transgender. I wouldn’t have had to struggle with it nearly as much, because my mom would have gladly accepted me. Everett would have gotten out of the picture at some point (he was removed from the picture later), and he would have certainly made it impossible for me to be transgender—more so than grandma and dad did, really. But Everett’s days with our mom were numbered, even if I didn’t know it then.

Mom is the only family member who I know wouldn’t have taken issue with it, because she was bisexual herself, and out of all the things I can question about my mother, I have never doubted that she loved me. Being transgender would have meant nothing to her, and she would have accepted and supported me. That she is not a part of my life is all the more tragic because of that: she is the only family member who would have accepted and supported me. Maybe back then, my sister would have as well, but with the way it went down, even my sister, with whom I went through all this bullshit, refused to accept my transgenderism.

In the grand scheme of things, though, it was certainly for the best that I did end up back with my grandmother, because I would have ended up dropping out as a teenager. I would never have been exposed to fantasy and would never have started writing; I probably would never have picked up a guitar and become an accomplished musician. My life has certainly not been great, but it would have been worse if mom had won that war.

“Dad, I hate you!” I shouted.

For just a brief moment, silence fell. Then my dad narrowed his eyes and pointed at my mother, and then he said in a low voice filled with icy anger, “Pat, if you ever tell him to say that again, I will kill you.”

So there, at the age of eight, I watched my dad threaten to kill my mother.

Obviously, they left quickly after that, because the elderly couple next door had certainly heard that little line, and it’s illegal to stand just on the edge of someone’s property, point at them, and threaten to kill them. For a while, I was in shock over that; it’s unusual to hear your dad threaten to kill your mom, and to mean it, and mom hadn’t told me to say anything. I spoke of my own accord, because I did hate him at that moment. He was once more a force of disruption, but also the only person who could save us—I just didn’t realize then how badly we needed to be saved.

And I was willing, I think, to endure all of those nightmarish things because they were the price of being there with my mother.

I didn’t understand mom’s laughter later that evening, when she bragged to Everett about what I had said. I was unable to understand that she liked how it hurt my dad to hear, and that she was happy that I stood against him—that I stood firmly with her. She didn’t tell me not to hate him, or even not to say it, as any good mother would have. She encouraged it, because she thought it was great.

For the first time, Britt and I suddenly went to different schools. We were two grades apart anyway, so it’s not like it made much of a difference, but… it did make a difference, and I didn’t like it. I don’t remember much about that school, except that people concluded that I was a talented artist, because I was able to draw something that was on the cover of a book. I did get into Gifted Art during the fourth grade, qualifying by drawing a boot. I have no idea why I made it in, because I saw the boots I drew years later, and they were awful.

They had GT at that school, which stood for Gifted and Talented, but only one person in our class was in it. Again, at East Tate I was allowed into TAGS halfway through the third grade (Talented and Gifted Students), but I was too depressed to have qualified for it there in Arkansas. I didn’t make any friends there. I didn’t want to make any friends there. The teachers would also frequently ask me what was wrong, too…

How was I supposed to answer that? Fucking everything was wrong. Between being hungry through the entire summer, sweating and burning up through the entire summer, not even having water through a substantial chunk of it, being blamed for my mom’s mistakes, watching and listening to my mom being beaten once every other week (on average), what in the hell wasn’t wrong? Oh, and I was having to lie to cover up for my mom, because she was shooting up—of course she was shooting up. Since everyone trusted me for some reason, she had me insist that it was for her headaches, when obviously it wasn’t.

“You know the shots I take for my headaches, right?” she asked me one morning.

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. She didn’t make it a habit of shooting up in front of me, and I didn’t recall then her ever doing so—not since Pontotoc, at least.

“Sure you do,” she cajoled. “The shots that I take for my headaches.”

“Oh,” I convinced myself. “Yeah.”

“You know they’re for my headaches, right?” she pressed, and I nodded. “Good. Everett might ask you, and just be sure to tell him that you know they’re for my headaches…”

“You’re going to have to participate,” the teachers told me. “You can’t just sit there and mope all the time,” they said.

Then there was walking to and from school every day, at a time when I constantly felt nauseated and was always on the verge of throwing up, because we didn’t have a car and because Everett’s parents were weird about their bikes. We were there for about four months, possibly five, and they were by leaps and bounds the worst four months of my life, and I’ve actually been homeless before. But nothing else I’ve experienced comes close to That Summer in Arkansas.

It was worse than ever one night—so bad that the elderly couple told mom that they would call the police if they heard it again. And, as usual, mom told them that it wouldn’t happen again, the same thing that she told Britt and me. Of course, this left my nerves more frazzled than ever, to the point that I wouldn’t even eat, and mom knew that she had to do something, and her solution was to take me to the doctor. Britt also needed to go to a dentist, so mom scheduled both things for the upcoming Thursday.

On that day, since we would be in the city, mom also planned to stop by and see an attorney who wanted a two thousand dollar retainer “to even look at the case.” Mom seemed to think that implied he was a terrific lawyer, and that may have been true, but she was never going to come up with that kind of money, and she must have known that, deep down inside. Just a few weeks prior, she’d received and unexpected check from the government, which she used to buy a $600 car that broke down almost immediately.

Britt and I were playing at the closest park when I looked across the street and saw, to my horror and dismay, dad standing and talking on the payphone while grandma stood beside him. Dad happened to see me, as well, and I told Britt that we had to go home, and that dad was there. We immediately ran home, since we weren’t far in the first place. We told mom what we’d seen, but she wasn’t overly worried about it.

A few minutes later, dad and grandma pulled in front of the house, but they were not alone. They had the police with them, and they had some legal document signed by a judge that gave grandma legal guardianship of us. They accomplished this through some creative distribution of money (bribes, one might say). Dad never denied this, and it’s certainly strange that they managed to get a judge to sign something so major without a hearing actually taking place. So someone’s pockets surely got a little heavier.

It was heartbreaking, and we were conflicted about it. This was our mother, and we loved her and didn’t want to leave her. But, at the same time, the situation was terrible, and no child should have been anywhere near that mess. Britt and mom fought nearly as often as did mom and Everett—I loved my sister and didn’t want her to be unhappy, and she wasn’t any happier than I was. And while I know now that it was for the best, that didn’t make it any easier then.

It all ended as suddenly and inexplicably as it began. Just as we didn’t expect mom to randomly declare that she was going to keep us, neither were we expecting dad and grandma to show up that day with the law on their side. The police oversaw everything as we packed our stuff, coldly standing by and grilling mom, as Britt, mom, and I cried and said our goodbyes, because there was no telling when we were going to see each other again. Mom’s visitation rights had been revoked, which meant that… legally, we weren’t allowed to see her anymore.

There was no turning around that time, though, even as we answered their questions honestly about what had been going on. Dad repeatedly said that we were going to simply forget what I said to him—as though we could do anything else, or as though punishing me for it had been a consideration. I’d just gone through hell for months with my sister. What could he possibly have done to punish me?

Suicide is Not For the Coward

So the lead singer of alternative rock band Linkin Park is in the news, because he killed himself by hanging. While I haven’t liked Linkin Park since their first album, and since I was in the 9th grade, a lot of people are coming forward to call Chester a coward for committing suicide, primarily because it means he left six children behind.

Regardless of whether you approve of his choice, it is stupid, and a horrific misrepresentation of the situation, to call someone a coward because they killed themselves.

Suffering is Relative

First, it must be pointed out that suffering is relative, and none of us has any insight into the inner turmoil within anyone else, and so none of us have the authority or information to accurately assess whether the person chose the “easy” route of suicide and was wrong to do so. We simply don’t know–because we can’t know–how a person feels, unless they tell us, and Chester did come pretty close to that, through his lyrics. These lyrics, incidentally, were those that angst-filled teens adored and identified with, because their own internal suffering was reflected back to them. But that isn’t really important.

Courage & Cowardice

I know many people who have “attempted” suicide. I’m among them, and the scars on my wrist bear it out. I was hospitalized in a behavioral ward several years ago because of it. Even after extensive research, I still didn’t cut deeply enough to hit the veins–no, seriously, the veins in your wrist are much deeper than you’re thinking–and I didn’t have any guns at the time. Today, I know a scary amount of information about suicide. Because of this, I’m well aware that the recent old Republican who “killed himself” with helium actually did commit suicide, and that there couldn’t possibly have been any foulplay. I know that, because I once owned a helium tank for exactly that purpose.

But I never did it.

Why not?

Because, as a method of suicide, it’s almost instantaneous. There is no time for second thoughts. Once you exhale and lower that bag over your head, that’s it. You pass out, and about half an hour later, you die, unconscious. I’m simply not struggling with depression badly enough to pursue that en sincera. I don’t want to die.

With very few exceptions, that is the same thing that nearly everyone who “attempts suicide” decides. There’s a reason that successful suicide rates are low. It’s not an easy thing to do. Substantial biological programming and the desire to survive outweigh most forms of depression, and, even when the depression is heavier, the person must face head-on their fear of death.

Anyone who has ever sat there with the barrel of a gun in their mouth, the blade of a razor against their wrists, a noose around their neck, or any other such situation and who still lives faced their fear of death head-on.

And they buckled.

They can make all the excuses they want. They can say that they realized that they were loved. They can say that they realized their problems would pass. They can say any-damned-thing that they want. But I know it, and they know it: the reason they live is that they are cowards. They stood on the precipice of oblivion and feared to jump, and so they backed away from the cliff. Some of these people are now calling Chester a coward because he didn’t back down from the precipice of oblivion.

Are you kidding me?

An Animal’s Instincts of Self-Preservation

There is tremendous resistance to death. Anyone who has seen wild animals chew off their own limbs (or humans saw off their own limbs) to escape from deadly situations knows that there is a powerful Will to Live inside every organism. Humans and non-humans are capable of incredible things in the interest of self-preservation, something that modern “horror” movies love exploiting for shock value. Put two people in a room together and tell them that one of them must kill the other, and then the survivor will be free, and they will almost immediately attempt to kill each other (Fun note: this is what Nietzsche described as Middle Class Morality). Saw off their own leg? No problem, once they have pursued other options.

Here’s a cold, hard fact for you: almost everyone out there–at least 99.999% of people–would cry and beg profusely as someone else lowered a noose around their neck. They would do anything, say anything, and promise anything to be spared. Disgusting amounts of tears and snot would run down their faces as they panicked, prayed to every god they could think of, and begged everyone nearby to “Please, I’ll do anything…” These are the same people calling Chester a coward because he lowered the noose around his own neck.

It would be funny, if it wasn’t true that, evidently, that’s how they see it.

There is an enormous difference between “thinking very hard about suicide” and gathering the means to do it, and actually proceeding with it. Even if the attempt is a failure, there is such an enormous gap between “thinking about suicide” and “legitimately trying to kill oneself” that most people can’t even fathom the divide.

It’s the same divide that exists between people who imagine how brave they would be if they faced down a criminal with a gun, and the people who have been there, and who gladly handed over their wallets and were terrified. Fear, after all, is what keeps people alive. It’s what kept human beings out of the darkness where there were lions, wild dogs, and hippos. That same exact fear keeps people from putting the gun in their mouth and pulling the trigger. It’s easy to say “I could have. I would have. I just changed my mind.”

In fact, it reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer says he’s going to build “levels” in his apartment, and Jerry bets him that it will never happen. In the end, Kramer renegs on the bet, and says that Jerry didn’t win, because, “I could have done it. I just didn’t want to.” Jerry vainly attempts to remind him, “That’s the bet! The bet is that you wouldn’t do it.” Kramer again reiterates, “But I could have.” Frustrated, Jerry says, “The bet wasn’t that you couldn’t. The bet was that you wouldn’t,” but it’s to no avail.

This is what people are saying when they say that they could have committed suicide, and they would have–if they hadn’t considered the loved ones they were leaving behind. The loved ones that they remembered were the panicked product of innate biological tendencies within an animal to preserve itself because it was afraid. It doesn’t matter what their reason for changing their mind is–why were they considering such things in the first place? By that point, they are already second-guessing whether they want to commit suicide. What propelled that? What caused them to stop and think about anything instead of just taking the gun, putting it in their mouths, and pulling the trigger? Why weren’t they just thinking about that?

Because their brain was desperately afraid and trying to stop to them using the last tool it had at its disposal. Compelling one to stop and think about all the loved ones being left behind is how it does that.

Anyone who ever attempted suicide–or “thought about” attempting suicide–and who still lives is a coward. They stood on the edge of the precipice, and they backed down. They can offer up any excuse they want, but, at the end of the day, what stopped them was fear. There’s no other reason why they’d have stopped to consider loved ones in the first place. That’s the brain’s last defense mechanism against self-destruction.

Consider this: the person who is about to commit suicide and stops because they think of the pain and suffering it will bring the loved ones left behind are aware, at least in some ways, that the fact that they even care about the pain and suffering they’ll leave behind will vanish the moment they’re dead. Sure, “If I commit suicide, I’ll leave behind so much pain and suffering.” Yet, also sure, “But I’ll be dead, so… there won’t be even a single solitary second of my existence where I feel the pain of having left people behind by killing myself, because I’ll have killed myself.” They didn’t think about that, though. I’d bet that thought didn’t occur to the overwhelming majority of people who attempted/thought about suicide. And why not? Because their brain was looking for ways to talk them out of it, not looking for ways to talk them into it.

Thoughts & Control

We tend to think of “our thoughts” as something we control, and our brains as something that is fully at our mercy, and that’s simply not true. Sentience is a curious thing, but your brain absolutely does things to try to convince “you” of things. The human brain is countless parts communicating with one another, not some collective unit that the “I” controls. You’re breathing right now–you are not in control of that. Your heart is beating right now. You can no more make your heart stop beating than (and this is important) you can make yourself stop thinking. You don’t control your thoughts. A thought comes when it wants to, not when “you” want it to. When some part of your brain decides to generate it, that’s when the thought occurs. You can no more create that thought than you can stop it. It’s coming. The only choice you have is how “you” deal with that thought. Whatever you are thinking about when the clock strikes noon after reading this, you won’t have any power to prevent.

The “I” takes these thoughts coming in from various parts of the brain, and assembles them into some form it can process, and then makes a decision. Maybe the “I” can control the decision that it makes, and maybe it can’t, because the decision itself is merely a product of the information sent to it by thoughts that it cannot dictate–it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the “I” doesn’t control what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. Even extensive training by Buddhist monks cannot allow one to indefinitely take control of what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. However focused the Buddhist monk is, and however in control of their thoughts they are, the moment they have to get back to life, they surrender control back to other parts of their brain. What will they think about while they slice potatoes in the monastery? While they till the ground?

You can do it, too. Think about an elephant, and try to keep thinking about an elephant. How long does it take you to realize that you’re not longer thinking about an elephant? Your thoughts will stray–a conga line of random thoughts perhaps not even related, until finally you’re thinking about John McCain’s brain cancer and realize, after forty seconds, “Oh, shit, I was supposed to be thinking about an elephant!” and direct your thoughts back to a pachyderm. Try to keep that elephant in your mind all day, as you go about work, as you eat lunch. You can’t do it. No one can. It requires exhaustive energy and focus to control one’s thoughts, and it simply cannot be done for any substantial period of time. You may think about the elephant several times an hour throughout the day, but through those instances, you’ll think about colleagues, food, friends, family, driving, money, and countless other things that you can’t control.

Those thoughts of loved ones that the person contemplating suicide has… They can’t control those thoughts, either. The question we have to ask is why the brain generated those thoughts. Why did some part of one’s brain conjure up an image of a son or nephew, and say, “But look how sad he’ll be…” and create vivid imaginings of the future of that child, raised without his father or mother? We can find the answer easily, by asking “What did the conjuration of those thoughts achieve?”

Well, it achieved causing the “I” to back out of committing suicide.

Why would a part of the brain want that?

Because it’s afraid of losing existence.

Conclusion

Maybe you don’t approve of what Chester did. Maybe you think it’s screwed up he left his family behind, and maybe you just think that suicide is immoral (I’ll save that for another day). Maybe you’re more like me, and you don’t really care one way or another, but you’d like it if there wasn’t so much confusion and misunderstanding surrounding suicide. Making the statement, though, that Chester was “wrong” to make the choice that he did is saying “He valued release from his pain more highly than he valued the pain he was leaving with others. His values are wrong, and the pain he left others is much greater than whatever pain he felt.”

I hope we can all immediately see what an asinine statement that is.

We don’t know what pain he felt, or what his personal suffering entailed. We can never know what it was like to live within his head and to feel what he felt. We can never know how deeply in That Place he was. Neither can we know how his children and wife/ex-wife will feel about it. We can guess, and we’d be right to some degree when we’d guess “They’ll be really sad,” but we can’t quantify that. We can’t even quantify our own suffering. Ask any person how much hardship and suffering they face and I’d bet wholeheartedly that you’ll see a graph identical to what we’d expect based on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Everyone will rate their personal suffering and past hardships at 7.5, or thereabouts. I’d love to see a scientific survey done on this. In fact, I’m going to do one.

But if we cannot properly assess the value of his suffering and how bad it was, or the suffering of his family and how bad it’s going to be, how can we justify making the arrogant claim that he was wrong to make the choice that he did?

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.