No one (least of all libertarians) wants mass shootings to happen. In fact, libertarians are among the loudest of the people who speak out and condemn violence, whether it’s orchestrated by random lunatics, police officers, or soldiers within the military. The libertarian position has decades of consistency and history that reveals itself to be loudly and explicitly pro-defense and anti-aggression. The means by which a person commits aggression, and the means by which a person exercises their right to self-defense, are not terribly important, as long as the Defender has weapons equal or greater to the weapons held by the attacker.
One day, that attacker will be the United States Government, and the more we allow them to disarm us, the sooner that day will come. When the Germans surrendered their weapons to the Nazi Regime, they did not expect that their government would ever turn so viciously against them, and this has been the case repeatedly throughout history: very shortly after a population has been disarmed, the illusion of government benevolence is wiped away, revealing a nightmarish, brutish totalitarian thug underneath.
In an era when Nazis are marching, when leftists ransack businesses, when the police murder more than a thousand people every year, it is lunacy to surrender our guns. Don’t the people who suggest this say that Trump is a fascist? Why in the name of all that is good would anyone surrender their means of defense to a fascist regime? It’s certainly true that a shotgun or 9mm pistol is not going to do a lot of good against the true might of the military, once it comes to that, but one stands a much better chance with even a 9mm than one does with a baseball bat. Just because you’re unlikely to defeat Mike Tyson if you step into a ring with him is no reason to have your hands cut off.
I wrote The Power Gap about exactly this reality–when push comes to shove, it’s true: we won’t have much chance against the military. They’ve already effectively gutted our defensive capabilities, and we let them do it in full violation of the Constitution. The Second Amendment protects your right to own claymore mines, drones, cluster bombs, and, yes, even nuclear weapons; it makes absolutely no distinction between one type of weapon and another type of weapon. Further, contrary to popular belief, there was a range of weapon power back then–if the founders had intended We the People to own guns of lesser power than those held by the government, that could have been achieved even in 1787. They didn’t ban cannons from the public, which had already existed for centuries, though, because they never intended the government to possess weapons that the people didn’t. To do so would defeat the entire purpose of the Second Amendment.
Imagine if, today, We the People were still under British rule and sought our independence. Would our shotguns, AR-15s, and revolvers do much good against the awesome power of the UK’s military? No. Our rebellion would be crushed, decimated within minutes as jets we couldn’t even see soared high overhead and dropped bombs on the location of our forces. Whisper, Signal, Wire, the Onion network, cryptocurrencies–even these are not yet enough to allow us to successfully circumvent their awesome technological might, not if push came to shove, because these technologies rely upon satellites that they could (and would) blast from the sky, or simply shut down. EMPs would wipe out our laptops and other communication equipment while we resorted to primitivism and what would be recognized as “terrorism” by most people, because those would be the only tactics left available against such a juggernaut. And we would ultimately be unable to do much damage to the behemoth, just as Al-Queda, ISIS, Boko Harram, and other terrorist groups have been unable to do much damage to American military power.
I’ll even cede, at this point, to let the American government regulate who can and can’t acquire things like fighter jets, nuclear weapons, cluster bombs, and the like–but to have them banned entirely makes us infants before Mike Tyson. But none of this is my point, not really. I’m just explaining my position, and the importance of having weapons capable of truly defending ourselves against the government. Our entire nation was founded by people who did exactly that. And now you want to throw away our ability to do so?
No One Wants Mass Shootings
The question isn’t, “What should we ban?” Anyone who thinks that is the question is being disingenuous. The question is “How can we stop mass shootings?” The answer is difficult to hear, but it’s one that people have to face:
Today, four people in China killed 29 people and injured 130. They didn’t use guns to do this. They used knives. Could it have been worse, if those four people have had guns? Certainly. But you know what else? This little incident wouldn’t have happened if the citizens of China had owned their own military-grade weapons:
It’s simply a part of the human condition. Sometimes, people do bad things. There’s never a way to know beforehand that an otherwise ordinary person is about to do something horrific and evil. Even though I’ve warned extensively about the dangers of data mining and putting every bit of information about ourselves out there into the open, because this can lead to terrifyingly accurate predictions, no predictive algorithm will ever be 100% accurate. We’re already at a point where algorithms can predict whether a person will turn out to be gay, or whether they are on drugs, and they do this with accuracy better than human intuition, but they’ll never be accurate enough. Chasing after the red herring of preventing some Ordinary Joe from losing his mind one day with 100% success will result in each and every single one of us being watched, monitored, probed, and explored by the government at all times. What you’re asking for is, and I hate to pull up the cliche, Orwellian.
Because that’s what it takes to identify which of the 60,000,000 Americans who own a gun is about to lose their mind and shoot someone–and to be sure that everyone who has a gun is registered with the government. Because…
Gun Control Requires Closed Borders
It’s not just people coming across our borders, and that’s a fact. Drugs and guns also come across our borders. If you want to control guns in the United States, the only way to do this is by ensuring that each and every gun in the nation is registered with the government, and this means preventing any new guns from coming across our borders. This is why the UK has been more successful with gun control than other nations–they’re reasonably isolated, with water on all sides. The only way to get in is through an airplane or a ship, and both of those will involve metal detectors at some point. This isn’t the case in the United States–we have lengthy borders to the north and south, and there are many ways into countries on the other side of those borders without passing through such screening processes. To control guns in the United States, you must both control the borders absolutely (again, a red herring) to ensure that no guns get across, and you must have a reasonably tough, watchful eyes on all countries in North and South America.
How effective is this? Not very. We can’t even keep guns and drugs out of our tightly controlled prisons, which are much smaller and much more contained than “the entire country.” But the prison system is the only one even theoretically capable of achieving this task, so we must turn the entire country into a prison to achieve gun control. Once this is done, you might be more successful at keeping guns out, but you won’t be successful enough to justify having imprisoned yourself and everyone in the country.
And even if you manage to do all of that, you have to carefully monitor anyone who is even capable of making a gun. My grandfather has made guns. Even if someone lacks that level of expertise, in modern times all they need is a 3D Printer, some aluminum, and the blueprints. This, while expensive, allows them to create their own totally untraceable gun. How do you aim to stop that? By banning 3D printers? In a world that has P2P networks and the Onion network, it’s not possible to round up and eliminate every copy of the plans to “print” a gun.
In purely logistic terms, the idea of gun control is ludicrous and impossible. It can’t be done. It’s not government regulations that are keeping nuclear weapons out of citizens’ hands–it’s how damned expensive they are. Even so, there are rumors that there are, in fact, nuclear weapons loose within the borders of the United States. We know that the U.S. government has lost some nuclear weapons. Yes, lost. As in, misplaced. Or, far more likely, sold to Pakistan or stolen.
Back to the Question
If gun control isn’t the answer, then what is? Well, as I said, there really isn’t one. People sometimes do bad things, and if they don’t have a gun, they’ll use a knife. The 9/11 hijackers, after all, did not have guns. They had airliners that they improvised into weapons by smashing them into buildings. Even Paddock had improvised explosives that he intended to use. Several people in recent years have used automobiles as the means of mass murder–are we going to ban automobiles because some lunatics notice that they can be used to murder people?
No. That’s insanity. That some lunatic used their vehicle to drive through a crowd and murder people doesn’t in any way suggest that vehicles are the problem. There’s a much larger problem, and one that we would be ignoring if we attempted to ban automobiles: humans sometimes do bad things.
No one ever said, “I really enjoy having the government telling me what to do, and I don’t think I should be free.”
Or, if they do, it’s such an extremely rare occurrence that it’s not really important to the discussion.
When people challenge the ideas of liberty and freedom, it’s never the speaker who has the problem; it’s never the speaker who can’t be trusted with liberty–it’s all those other people. It’s everyone else. I’ve talked with countless people who want freedom for themselves yet immediately recoil at the idea of freedom for others, handing out responses that range in ridiculous from “What about murderers?” to “What about those who would dump poo in your water?”
It’s telling that we’ve become so conquered by fear that we’d meet the idea of freedom with intransigence and build from the assumption that not only could someone dump poo in your water, but that it’s inevitable that someone will do so. The existence of murderers, rapists, and thieves is hardly a matter of concern to the libertarian or anarchist, because such people exist today, and all available evidence (as well as logic) suggests that the state and its laws do nothing to prevent such behavior, and instead simply exist as frameworks for punishing the behavior. Since the state has not managed to eliminate crime, it isn’t necessary for anarchists and libertarians to propose an alternate social structure that would eliminate crime before anyone can take it seriously.
It would be like if I proposed a new version of American football that has slightly different rules than the current set, and people rejected my idea on the grounds that I didn’t propose any way of preventing head injuries and brain damage caused by years of physical trauma. Even if my modified rules would reduce the number of fractures and other injuries, people would gleefully reject the proposed changes because, “What are you going to do about head injuries and brain damage?” in full disregard of the fact that their rules similarly fail to do anything to prevent head injuries and brain damage.
It’s simple mathematics to realize that something that affects two sides of an equation can be reduced. If we have an equation that reads “2x + 4y = 2x + 9,” we can immediately see that “2x” doesn’t factor into things at all–we are, instead, dealing with “4y = 9”. Crimes such as murder are never going to be eliminated from society, and we have a hundred thousand years of human history and societies that range from despotic tribes to fascist police states to serve as evidence, and not only have all of these societies failed to eliminate murder, but there is a noticeable correlation between the murder rate and the power of the state–the more powerful a state is, the higher its murder rate. It wasn’t a fluke that caused Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lincoln, and Mussolini to murder millions of people; this is actually a feature of the state. It also remains true that no Charles Manson or Ted Bundy ever came close to approaching the murder rate of various states.
This is because society deals with murderers, rapists, and thieves before they can organize to the point that they can commit crimes against thousands and hundreds of thousands of people–unless those murderers, rapists, and thieves call themselves a government. Take, for example, the American Government, which murdered more than 1,000 Americans last year, as well as the year before (and are thus far on the path to surpassing last year’s record). Even the most barbaric and bloodthirsty mobster would look at those numbers and be impressed, because this works out to nearly three murders per day for the individual, if the person wanted to be more bloodthirsty than the government, and anyone who murdered three people each day would leave a trail of bodies and evidence that would take us directly to them for punishment. Without even including the 100,000 Iraqi civilians murdered by the American government since 2003, and the similar number of murdered civilians in Afghanistan, it’s readily apparent that if we want to reduce murder, there isn’t a better way of doing so than abolishing the government.
But these excuses for allowing the continued existence of the state persist.
The reality, however, is that the overwhelming majority of people aren’t murderers, rapists, and thieves. I cross paths with tens of thousands of people every single day, and none of them are murderers, rapists, and thieves. This notion that “It’s okay if I have freedom, but I can’t trust anyone else with it, because they might be a murderer!” is blatant fearmongering, and every bit as bad as suggesting that we should reject all refugees because one among two hundred thousand might be a terrorist, or that we should regulate immigration because one in millions may carry a deadly disease. In fact, the arguments are exactly the same:
“We need to have laws against open borders because some immigrants may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
“We need to have government, because some people may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
“We need to ban refugees from entering the country because some people out there are bad people and are terrorists!”
“We need to have government, because some people out there are bad people.”
It’s amazing how easily we recognize blatant fearmongering when we’re not the ones peddling it, and how blind we are to our fearmongering when we are.
Liberty is trust and faith in your fellow human beings, and an end to fearmongering. It’s time we stopped living in fear of everything and everyone.
Want to read the whole story? Well, now you can! For a limited time (until June 15), Dancing in Hellfire is finally available for sale, for only $3.49. You can buy it here, through this very site, using PayPal or a typical credit/debit card (payment is processed by PayPal, so I don’t see the info), after which you’ll be given access to the book as both a PDF and an ePub.
Whether being four years old and watching one of my parents’ friends shoot up peanut butter on our couch and dying before my eyes; whether being effectively kidnapped at the age of eight by my meth-addicted mother and forced to endure a summer of being too poor to buy food, with our water turned off due to non-payment, and with mom being beaten mercilessly by a violent alcoholic; whether coming to terms with her disappearance like something out of a murder mystery show; or whether being transgender in the midst of all of this and trying desperately to come to terms with it while surrounded by a fundamentalist Christian family that forced me to not merely repress who I was but also to forget who I was, I have seen a great deal of tragedy.
It’s strangely easy to forget how devastating all of this must truly have been, even as I was the one who experienced it, because it’s easy to forget how it truly felt to lie awake, crying and listening to the sounds of shattering glass as my mother was thrown brutally through windows. It’s easy to forget how angry I have the right to be at my father and grandmother, for forcing me to oppress myself and attempting to turn me into something that I am not.
Today I am a transgender woman and resident of the state of Mississippi. This is as frustrating, difficult, and dangerous as one would expect, but I survive, and I roll with the punches. I have no choice, just as I had no choice those early mornings as I bore witness to horrific domestic violence.
So this is my story–a story of how low human depravity can sink, but also how the human spirit can stand resilient and refuse to surrender. However, I know that I am one of the lucky ones. The majority of people who endure such childhood trauma, and who are forced by religiously oppressive authorities to repress their own natures, are not so fortunate. Most of the former lose themselves in a sea of drugs that allow them to forget, while the latter often lose themselves to the blade of a razor. Yet I know, because I have lived it, that we can survive the struggles–and not merely survive, but become stronger through them.
Where to begin, in this sordid tale of devils and demons?
My family is exactly what one would expect of a north Mississippi lower middle class / upper lower class white Christian family; it was only a few years ago that I first heard the acronym WASP, but I have to admit: aside from its redundancy, there is no more apt description of my family. They are almost stereotypical in how typical they are of an ordinary white fundamentalist Christian family from the southern United States.
Everyone in Mississippi isn’t like that, however, which is a point I’ve tried to stress in the past: Mississippi does contain many people like myself. As a friend recently put it, “We grew up in an area that is run-down, poor, and stupid, over all, where most of the populace is indoctrinated by religious nonsense to the point where they can’t even recognize rational thought. We pushed through what it takes to fit in here, and we defined ourselves. That’s something to embrace and be proud of.”
My friends and I have reached the end of a long and grueling journey that was filled with adversity and people who would use any means at their disposal—terrorism, fear, violence, and coercion—to bend us to their wills, and we’ve looked back at the paths we traveled and rejoiced that we survived and stayed true to ourselves. Friends are priceless when one is transgender in a family full of fundamentalist Christians.
Both of my paternal grandparents would reject me entirely—they do not yet know, and they will be among the last to know, since I see them only a few times a year. “You don’t know how they’ll react,” I’ve had people tell me. “Give them a chance. Sometimes people surprise you.”
With all due respect, those allies and friends have no idea the type of people we’re really dealing with. My Mississippian friends know better, too; they know that there is no chance that my family will ever welcome me at Christmas dinner as a female. When my grandfather (who, for the record, is on his tenth or eleventh wife) learned that my sister was living with her boyfriend, he wrote her a lengthy letter, wherein he quoted Biblical passages and called her a whore. When my grandmother found girls’ clothes hidden between my mattresses, she wanted to send me to a foster home and asserted that she would not have that in her house. If they had thought I was gay, they would have sent me to one of those awful “pray the gay away” camps.
This isn’t to say that I’m perfect, and acknowledging my own faults and mistakes will be the most difficult part of writing this. I have made plenty of mistakes and stupid decisions that brought people around me severe difficulty and hardship, particularly regarding past relationships.
My memory is also not perfect, and I am likely to make mistakes, and, given that some of the information comes from extremely unreliable sources (like my father), some of that can’t really be helped. It doesn’t matter, though. The point of this is to show how awful parenting shaped me, and the countless lies that my dad told me are part of that. I strive for honesty, integrity, and sincerity in all things. Consider this my vow that everything within is, to the best of my knowledge, the unaltered truth, except that names have been changed.
I was born premature, thankfully, since the umbilical cord had wrapped around my throat and I was choking to death. This was surely a result of my mother’s cigarette smoking and eating painkillers while pregnant. My father insists that she didn’t do drugs while she carried us, but… Yeah, she did.
I certainly don’t remember my birth, but I do remember some things from shortly after my birth. Though my family says there is no way I could remember it, my introduction to the world came with overwhelming confusion: I was in some sort of cradle, and the back of my right hand hurt because a number of needles and tubes penetrated my flesh. The details are blurry and fuzzy, as one would expect from such early memories, but the needles burned and itched. They irritated me, and I wanted them out. I was afraid and confused, with no idea why these things penetrated my hand and no understanding of what was going on. I knew only that I was hurting and helpless to do anything about it.
Confusion—pure confusion. I didn’t even have a sense of self. I had no idea that I existed, that I was a baby in a hospital, and that I was a being. I could feel the needles in the back of my hand, and they hurt. The pain, however, was not unbearable, and wasn’t the main facet of that moment. It was confusion. I was not afraid—I didn’t have enough self-awareness for the confusion to make me scared. I simply knew nothing. I was a blank slate, onto which was being written reality in the ink of experience. I didn’t even know that I was a blank slate. I knew only that I hurt, and that I was confused. I was not in the arms of a loving mother whose warmth brought me comfort. I did not stare up and into the eyes of a nurse who was delighted to see a baby growing healthier by the hour. I was not being cooed by an older brother, or rocked in the cradle while a loving grandparent read a story. I was alone and hurting in a room bathed in fluorescent light.
That was my first experience with the world. That was how I was introduced to the universe—in the sterilizing, emotionless light of an empty hospital room, not the gentle and soothing light of a home. I heard the beeps and sounds of monitoring equipment, not the joyous laughter of a loving family. I lie alone in a hospital contraption with the shrill, uncomfortable hospital sheets, not wrapped in a blanket and the arms of a doting mother.
And the worst part—the indisputable worst part—is that I remember this.
The first few years of my life were probably normal, about what anyone would expect from a southern, lower middle class white family that subsisted more on the successes of previous generations than the merits of its own. There were some oddities, though, and signs even then of who I really was, but it was the mid-80s. It wouldn’t really be fair to blame my parents for not recognizing and embracing that I was transgender.
Of course, I was born male, “with a penis and everything.” But whenever all of my underwear was dirty, my mother would put me in my sister’s panties; it wasn’t a punishment, to clarify. Being the clever child that I was, I began hiding all of my underwear, just so that I could tell my mom that I didn’t have any, and so that I could wear panties instead. Somewhere around three years old, I took all of my underwear and threw them into the back of a closet that no one ever opened, and then I reported to my mother that, strangely, all of my underwear was suddenly gone.
So when I say that I’ve been transgender since birth, it’s as close to “since birth” as one can get. I couldn’t have been older than three years old at that point, because my sister hadn’t begun kindergarten herself. I knew then that I preferred women to men: I loved my mother and sister, and, even at that age, I had a deep appreciation for feminine beauty. I also thought that my Aunt Diane was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, and my mother used to make fun of me for my enamorment with my aunt.
My experience with men at this point was limited to my father (who was fat and not overly pleasant to look at), my brother (who was thin, but who had nothing on my mother), my grandfather (who was also overweight, and a jerk), and my Uncle Danny (who has always been an asshole). Although it’s typical for young boys to love their mothers, I wanted to be just like mine, and I suspect that had a lot to do it with, but who can say? I was three when it began, and I simply wanted to be a girl.
I had a blanket (what most people would call a “blankie,” though I never called it that), and it was one of those cotton-threaded ones similar to fishnet. I refused to sleep without it and my pillow. The pillow actually wasn’t that important, but the pillowcase certainly was. I rubbed the pillowcase between my finger and thumbnail, sleeping on the central heating vents in the floor and driving my father crazy with all of it.
A Look at My Father
I would love to say that my father isn’t a bad man.
But he is.
That’s a difficult thing to say and accept, but I have to stress that it doesn’t really make me love him any less, and that the dominant emotion I have for my father is pity. Even so, I would be lying if I said that he was a good man who simply made some mistakes; that isn’t the case at all. He’s a bad man who has made some good decisions, not a good man who has made a few bad ones.
His own childhood was no walk in the park, damaged by my alcoholic and abusive grandfather beating the hell out of my grandmother. Though not much of that has been shared with me, I can certainly relate to what he has said, and it’s clear the recollections are as painful to him as it is for me to recall the abuse my mother endured at the hands of alcoholics.
At some point, my grandparents divorced—Go, grandma!—because my grandmother wouldn’t put up with the abuse. My grandmother is easily worthy of her own story, because she is an unsung hero of the feminist movement without even trying. In the sixties and seventies, she left her violent husband and blazed her own path in Mississippi, won the house in the divorce, and then worked at a college until she retired at the age of 67.
True to the family history, my grandmother endured her own screwed up childhood, and was even sent away by her mother to live with Uncle Bill and Aunt Edna on their farm. Evidently, Aunt Edna didn’t like my grandmother one bit, and was very unkind to her. What internal strength caused my grandmother, in what must have been the 40s, to graduate as the valedictorian of her class? What quiet resolve allowed my grandmother to learn the necessary skills to work in the administration section of a college during the 60s?
These are questions to which I would love answers, but I’ll never have them, because they are not things that my grandmother is willing to discuss. Questions about her past are met with short answers, and I can’t blame her for not wanting to talk about it.
On one particular drunken rampage, my father held a gun on my grandfather so that my grandmother could limp out of the house. While I truly hate that he had to do such a thing in the first place, I’m also jealous that he was old enough to do something about it. When my mother suffered under Everett’s hands, I was in the second grade, and too young and weak to do anything to intervene.
For years, my father insisted that he was drafted to Vietnam, and he even talked about how he was called a murderer and spit upon when he returned. Eventually my sister and I realized that there’s no way this is true. Either he was actually the oldest between him and his brother (and thus wouldn’t have been drafted), or the Vietnam War ended when he was 16. In this little alternate reality he had constructed, he had to be older than our mother was (which was blatantly false—she had always been recognized as the older one), his brother had to be lying about his own age, and almost everyone had to have falsified birth records.
He changed his story to say that he was in Vietnam during the 80s, through another offensive that we did, but I have been unable to find any military record for him. Whether he actually fought in Vietnam, he did mislead us into believing he’d fought in the Vietnam War, which is a lie of such magnitude and scope that one has to marvel at it.
He is a religious man, though it’s hard to tell by his behavior: heavy drug usage, constant lies, and steady manipulation. Although he is less religious than other family members are, his secularism is applied selectively, and he’s generally as fundamental as everyone else is. He continues to believe that President Obama is a Muslim, is more or less openly racist, and is a diehard Republican, despite that he’s effectively a ward of the state who benefits substantially from liberal policies.
I obviously don’t see eye-to-eye with him, but we do have some similar interests. It was he who introduced me to Fantasy literature and tabletop gaming, both of which almost immediately became passions for me. In turn, I exposed him to the tenth installment of a popular roleplaying video game, and I’m still happy that I was able to show him to something that he enjoyed so immensely. He must have played through it a dozen times, and he certainly discovered more of its secrets than I ever would have.
There is some kinship between us, and I do love him, despite the numerous differences, and in spite of the fact that he has done me far more harm than good. More than anything, I pity him, because his childhood evidently destroyed him; he is one those who did not escape unscathed. He was swallowed by the mentality that the world owes him something, and oblivious to the reality that the world will never give it.
The rifts between us began because I was not the son that he wanted. He hated that I loved sleeping on the heating vents—I’ve always loved heat. I wouldn’t sleep anywhere else. I had to sleep on one of the floor vents, and the heat had to be on. There in the floor, I had the pillow and pillowcase that I refused to sleep without, and the blanket that I required as I slept.
My father hated all of these things. We went to visit some relatives at one point, and I left my blanket and pillow at home. With no other way to shut me up, my parents took me to a store to get a new pillow, and there I went from one to the next, tearing open the plastic just slightly, and “testing” it until I found one that was satisfactory. When we got back to our trailer a few nights later, dad went outside and told me to bring my pillow.
As I stepped out into the night air, I saw him kneeling just outside the small stone circle beside our front steps. It had once been a flower garden—conceived during one of mom’s highs, when she was bolstered with energy from painkillers. The high wore off, but the flowers remained in that little circle of rocks—at least for a while. Then they died, shriveled, neglected, and forgotten.
Almost like a demon out of a child’s horror story, there was my dad, grinning devilishly and eagerly, urging me to throw my old pillow onto a mess of crumbled newspapers soaked in lighter fluid as he held his flaming lighter above it. “We need to burn it!” he said, but I refused. There was no need to burn it. They were already making me throw it away—they were already making me discard this pillow that I loved and had slept with every night for years. Was that not enough?
“We need to burn it!” he said again, as I ran inside and cried to mom that dad wanted to burn the pillow that I loved. It may seem strange that I had such attachment to a pillow, but I did, and both of my parents knew it. My father certainly knew very well that I loved that pillow.
That’s why he wanted to burn it. Because I loved it.
We didn’t burn random things, and I doubt that we ever burned anything there at all. He wasn’t content to force me to throw away this pillow, the symbol that I was an emotional person and not the crass son that he apparently wanted. The pillow had to be destroyed in flames because I loved it, and because “real men don’t love.” This silly, feminine weakness, this emotional attachment to an object—it had to be gotten rid of, and in the most dramatic way possible.
It was not the pillow that my dad wanted to burn.
It was my heart.
My mother intervened, though my father came inside and continued insisting that we needed to burn the pillow, because he was afraid that I would be able to talk my mother into letting me keep it. One has to wonder why it was an issue that I wanted to keep it. In the end, I placed it gingerly on top of the garbage can in the kitchen and told it goodbye. I hated to do so, and I cried, because it didn’t make sense to me.
It’s understandable that I developed such strong emotional ties to objects, as neither parent spent much time with me, and there was not much hugging in the family. Mom and dad were always high on one drug or another, lying on the couch and borderline comatose. I don’t know how Brandi handled it then, or what she did in order to get through the long and miserable days, but it was surely as awful for her as it was for me. Unlike our older brother, we didn’t have friends with whom we could go hang out. Or, at least, I didn’t. Brandi was friends with a girl who didn’t live too far from us, and I hope that my sister was happy then.
Aunt May and Kay-Kay
For a while, mom did work, as did my father. While Brandi and Eric were gone to school and my parents were at work, I was babysat by our great aunt who lived next door, a relatively kind woman who I remember as mostly humorless. My father fleeced her out of most of her money, just as he did to my great-grandmother, and just as he is currently doing to my grandmother. However, I was too young to comprehend that, and there isn’t much that I remember about Aunt May.
It was horrendously boring at Aunt May’s. There were few places worse for my pre-school self. I wasn’t allowed to take my Nintendo, which left me there alone with an eighty-year-old woman and very little to actually do, because there was no one to play with and nowhere to play at. Aunt May wasn’t unkind, but she was also not particularly joyful. I don’t blame her for that—she was a very old woman, and probably not happy to babysit a four-year-old.
I should have been outside having fun, rather than sitting in a living room with an eighty-year-old woman and playing with paper dolls that she cut out of a magazine. Of course, such things seem droll only from a modern perspective, but I was accustomed to video games and cartoons, the heightened entertainment possibilities of the late 1980s. In the 1880s, a child would have been thrilled to sit on a couch in an air-conditioned house and idle away the hours with paper dolls.
However, imagine the horrified response one would get if a modern child was asked to spend day after day in that environment, with only a very old woman as company. There would probably be allegations of child abuse, though I’m not making that claim. However, many modern parents would likely consider that to be, at the least, borderline child abuse. To me, it was simply boring, and the time passed so slowly that I probably lived more moments there at Aunt May’s house than all the moments I have lived since.
I don’t intend any of this to be disparaging to Aunt May. I have no doubt that she did the best she could, and significantly better than many people in her position would have. Still, I dreaded those days when both parents had to work, and it was routine for me to ask mom each afternoon, “Do you have to work tomorrow?”
Aunt May had a moustache, as well, but I never noticed it. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and I was shown a picture of her that I learned she had a moustache. I was pre-kindergarten when I spent time with Aunt May, so the idea that a woman didn’t have facial hair wasn’t in my head yet, so it seemed perfectly normal to me. My father had a moustache and Aunt May had a moustache. Cars had tires, and houses had walls.
One horrible day, as Aunt May sat in her recliner, concealed from view of the kitchen as I sat on the couch near the front door, there was suddenly a crash in the kitchen. The backdoor entered into the kitchen, and I will never forget the fear that fell over this old woman’s face. Someone had broken in through the back door.
She and I hid in the living room, cowering in the corner behind her chair. I don’t believe she ever called the police (she didn’t have a phone), or did anything about it, but my memory of that ordeal is vague. I recall only the noise, the unmistakable terror in her eyes that I was able to recognize even at four years old, and the hiding.
Because she was very old, it simply wasn’t possible for Aunt May to always babysit me, and I had another sitter called Kay-Kay—a hefty, middle-aged woman who seemed to be doing pretty well in life. She had a house, at least, which I recognized to mean that she was okay—we lived in a trailer, and most of the people we knew lived in a trailer. Living in a house… That was a grand thing to me. I didn’t mind that we lived in a trailer, and I was much too young to know that being the child of two fast-food workers (even if they were supervisors) who raised Confederate flags, shot up heroin, and ate Xanax made me the definitive example of “trailer trash,” but I knew that it was a great thing to have a house.
Kay-Kay was an ordinary woman, and there was much going on beneath the surface that most people never saw. As I sat in one of her bedrooms, playing a video game, there was suddenly a banging on the door and people shouting, demanding to be allowed inside and promising that, if Kay-Kay refused, they would tear the house down.
Although I was shocked and scared at first, Kay-Kay put my fears to rest by handling it expertly. She answered in an almost aloof way, as though she had no concern about it. Even as they banged and screamed, I was unafraid, because Kay-Kay didn’t appear to take it seriously. After a minute or so, the banging stopped, and then the rhythmic pounding echoed through her home, coming from somewhere in the back.
“They’re going to tear the house down!” I shouted to Kay-Kay, scared once more. In my head, I had the image of two enormous, burly, and angry men outside with huge hammers, smashing away the bricks and crashing through the walls.
“Oh, no, they’re not, sweetie,” came Kay-Kay’s reply as she dropped to a knee and hugged me. “They’re just mad. They’ll get over it and leave in a few minutes.”
Sure enough, Kay-Kay was right: they did leave shortly thereafter. In actuality, they probably just had given up on the front door and gone to try the back door. Finding it locked, they banged and shouted some more, and then left. I never learned what it was about, and Kay-Kay asked me not to mention it to my parents, which made sense: that isn’t the sort of thing a mother wants happening at the selected babysitter’s home. I didn’t stay quiet, though, and that was the last time Kay-Kay ever babysat me. It was also the last time that I saw her.
The Rise of Tumult
There was a “friend of the family” called Doc, and I liked him a lot. Everyone liked Doc—he was a friendly, charismatic person. Being my parents’ friend, he was heavily on drugs, but Doc was also in a motorcycle gang, which created a problem, because shooting up was explicitly against the gang’s laws. Just to be clear here: this is the world I grew up in. This was normal to my three-year-old self. On any given day, I was likely to see one or both of my parents shoot up heroin with a buddy who was in a motorcycle gang, smoke a joint or two, and collapse onto the couch in a stupor and droning out “Yeah…” to no one.
I watched my mother, laid out on the loveseat, look to my father on the other side of the living room. She held up, toward my father, a syringe full of some red liquid, and then she asked in a seductive voice, “John, do you want some of this?” And as she spoke, she pressed in the syringe and sent a jet stream of this stuff—whatever it was—flying across the living room. They were both out of their minds, just high as hell.
Disheveled, frantic, panicked, and terrified, Doc stopped by our trailer and wanted to sell my father a half-pound of weed for fifty bucks. My father had twenty dollars he could pay. Knowing my father, it’s amazing that he had any money, but he did, and he explained to Doc what he had.
Doc in turn explained that he had to get out of town. “Had to,” he said, and my father understood what that meant. The gang somehow learned that Doc was shooting up, so Doc had to get out of town before they found him and forced him to run “The Gauntlet.” Because, apparently, that actually happens. My father bought the weed, and Doc fled, but it was to no avail, and he was later found dead.
We frequently drove north to visit my Aunt Diane and Uncle Danny (the man who would later go to prison for murder and, in all likelihood, killed my mother, though there is no body or evidence), as well as our cousins. One of these trips proved to be one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood.
As Brandi and I rode with dad in his yellow truck, in a secluded area where the road was surrounded by steep ditches that spelled death for anyone who lost control and went over, a truck driver decided to pass us. The trucker blew his horn a few times, and then he went for it. As he passed, he veered to the right—or dad swerved to the left. The enormous side view mirror of the rig crashed through the window beside dad and sent a spray of glass shards through the cab of our truck. Luckily, neither my sister nor I sustained any injuries.
The fault was probably my father’s (driving under the influence of one drug or another), but the reason officially given was that the highway wasn’t wide enough to pass. This excuse came much later in the day, after the trip got significantly worse.
We passed through Memphis as we traveled, and came upon an intersection. Not paying attention, I couldn’t tell you exactly how it happened, but there was shaking and noise. We rear-ended another vehicle. It’s possible that my father didn’t stop quickly enough, and it’s possible that he pressed the gas too hard and too quickly after the light turned green. Regardless, we hit the vehicle hard and sent it careening into the intersection. Reportedly, it traveled fifty feet from the impact.
The woman driving that car died on the spot with a broken neck.
Someone obviously called the police, and they arrested my father. The police placed Brandi and me in the back of the police car with him, which made us feel as though we were also being arrested, and that is terrifying when you’re four or five years old and have no comprehension of what is going on. As though we were playing out a scene in a movie, the very same trucker who had hit us earlier happened upon the accident, and presumably told the police that dad was driving erratically. The next thing I knew, the trucker was banging on the glass beside me, shouting obscenities at us—not just at our dad, but honestly at the five-year-old children, too. I was terrified, confused, and frightened out of my mind, and it didn’t help that dad, with his hands cuffed behind his back, was frothing at the mouth, rocking the police car, and demanding to be let out so that he could fight the truck driver.
My sister and I were taken to the hospital, and police, doctors, and therapists repeatedly questioned us about the accidents. We were separated from our father, but also from each other, and that made the experience more traumatic than it had to be. We were finally told that we would be going into the care of Aunt Diane and Uncle Danny briefly, and they were the ones who picked us up from the hospital. My grandmother acquired a good lawyer for my father, and he was able to go to rehabilitation rather than prison, or something to that effect.
For a long time, my nerves were absolutely shot, and it was nearly impossible to get me into a vehicle, which is probably the normal response of a four year old child after being in two accidents in a single day, one of which resulted in a death, all because the parents didn’t mind driving after eating a bunch of pills. Naturally, their solution was to shove pills down my throat, giving me what they called “nerve pills” that were probably Xanax or Klonopin. This was the only way to get me into an automobile for several months after the accidents, because otherwise I would scream and throw fits. Eventually the anxiety faded, but knocking me out with drugs was the only way to get me into a car for a while.
Things returned to what we considered normal, though that isn’t to say that either of my parents stopped doing drugs. I doubt either parent was clean for any notable period, and they continued inviting friends over. These parties, while they were more or less tame and consisted of people drinking, doing drugs, and playing spades, would not constitute “normal” for most kids.
On one such occasion, one of the people with whom they were hanging out decided that it would be a brilliant idea to inject peanut butter. Presumably, he’d heard that “The high is incredible, man!” and wasn’t much interested in maybe asking a doctor before doing something so horrendously and creatively stupid. According to my father—who is a known pathological liar, it’s worth remembering—the man died on the spot, so they took him home and left him on his couch, dead. I have no memory of this, but it allegedly happened sometime around my fifth birthday.
I started kindergarten, and I loathed it. Up until that point, my life was fantastic. I could wake up whenever I wanted, spend the entire day watching cartoons and playing videogames, snacking whenever I desired, and just doing anything I pleased. Then suddenly I couldn’t do that any longer; I had to wake up at a specific time, go spend the entire day in a boring school, and then only had a few hours afterward to do the things that I enjoyed doing. As early as kindergarten, it struck me as absurd: if the point of life is to be happy, as everyone constantly insisted to me, then why did I have to go to school?
We were poor—dirt poor, as you might expect, given the heavy drug usage. Although both parents were managers at various fast food restaurants at times, my mother eventually quit working altogether and got onto disability for her migraines. It was with tremendous excitement that we were approved for food stamps, and we waited for weeks with palpable eagerness in the air, though I had no idea what it even meant. There are two times that I distinctly recall the entire family waiting anxiously for something to happen, and the anticipation was identical on both occasions; we waited for food stamps and we waited for our cable to be activated with the same sense of impending thrill, as did I, even though I had no understanding of what either meant.
Being approved for food stamps felt like having a birthday, and so did the cable company finally coming out, after weeks of waiting, to connect our cable television. While I understood that having cable meant that we would have Nickelodeon, there was no way that I understood the concept of food stamps, so my excitement was surely nothing more than a mirror of my parents’ own eager anticipations. It was just months after this that I began school, and that mom became convinced that dad was not really working, that he was only disappearing while he was supposed to be at work.
It was a school day when it happened, because we were supposed to be in class, but mom kept us at home. My much older brother, my slightly older sister, and I were told that we were leaving dad, and I’m sure I handled that as well as any six year old child would, which is to say with naked emotion untempered by the jaded self-control we are taught to exercise in later years. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I was devastated nonetheless. First, the life I had come to know and love was wrecked by having to go to school, and then what little semblance of it remained was being irretrievably shattered by this upheaval. I spent the entire day in tears, as did my sister. Whatever was going on between our parents had nothing to do with us, and our lives were being cast into the hurricane because of it.
Too young to truly understand what was really going on, my primary concern was whether to leave my father “the good Nintendo” or the bad one. They both worked, but one of them was much more difficult to get working. Both my dad and I were big on video games, and so was my older brother, and even my mom and sister played occasionally. There were lots of family moments when we all took turns, and we even had a device that allowed four controllers to be used.
I agonized over that decision far more than a six year old should, and my mom didn’t give the situation nearly as much attention as it deserved. My entire world, prior to school, consisted almost entirely of playing video games. That I even debated which one to leave was a tremendous indicator of how much I loved my father, how much I didn’t want to leave, and, above all, how poorly equipped I was to cope with the chaos I suddenly was confronting. Mom was tearing our family apart, breaking it into two pieces, and she never sat down with my sister and me to explain what was happening, to assure us that we’d still see our dad, or to promise us that it would be okay. While to some extent that’s understandable, since she had to pack and load things up, the utter failure to remember that she was literally wrecking her youngest kids’ lives is very difficult to excuse.
To make matters worse, she was cowardly about it, too, because all of this happened while my father was at work. We lived in a trailer on my grandfather’s land, and it’s very likely that my grandfather was the one who alerted my father to the moving truck that was at his home. However, seeing as my grandfather later offered to shoot my mother for my dad, I doubt he would have showed the restraint simply to inform my dad of what was happening.
Regardless, dad pulled up while we were finishing and preparing to leave. The next little bit is a blur of anger, hostility, and shouting from which I am able to pull very few details. In a flash, dad went from anger to pleading, but mom refused to listen; her mind was made up, and she cranked the car, put it into gear, and hit the gas. Dad threw himself into the side of the car and then hit the ground, fell onto his back, and then lie there in the grass. My sister and I screamed and cried—our dad had just been run over!—and mom shouted at us to stop yelling. I gazed out of the back window at my father as we drove away, and there he was, lying unmoving in the grass, and all I could think was the horrible thought, “Dad is dead.”
There in the back of the car, crying quietly, having just watched my father die from being hit by a car, I sat at the age of six years old, being shouted at by my mom to shut up because I freaked out when I saw her kill my dad.
Want to read the whole story? Well, now you can! For a limited time (until June 15), Dancing in Hellfire is finally available for sale, for only $3.49. You can buy it here, through this very site, using PayPal or a typical credit/debit card (payment is processed by PayPal, so I don’t see the info), after which you’ll be given access to the book as both a PDF and an ePub.
I was thinking this morning about how Trump hadn’t even lasted a week before he had blood on his hands–which, of course, isn’t surprising, more is the pity–and it really occurred to me what an extraordinary amount of power American presidents hold, so it’s no wonder they all become mass murdering lunatics.
These are people who can kill someone with only a nod. One nod, and a drone drops a bomb in Yemen, killing the target and probably a few civilians with it. One nod, and the military invades a sovereign nation. One nod, and an enemy combatant is sent to Guantanamo Bay to be tortured and incarcerated without a trial.
I can’t even imagine essentially having the power to point at someone and then watch them die, with no one able to do anything about it. The only people who possibly could do anything about it are overwhelmingly uninterested in the whole affair, even when 230 civilians are murdered, while they have no problem showing interest and devoting attention to the firing of a random waitress from a Cracker Barrel. And even if the American President did have to explain his actions to Congress or the American People, all he has to do is say “ISIS!” and that’s it.
Press a button, enter a launch code, hundreds of thousands die.
Nod, hundreds die.
Give a thumbs up, dozens die.
My world is unaffected.
That’s the most dangerous part of all of this. There is a reason that Trump wouldn’t nod his approval for a drone strike in China or Russia–those nations could fight back. China and Russia could return the “favor” by dropping bombs on American cities. Oh, it would be a bloodbath, and no one would have an easy time of it, but it would certainly happen. Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, and all these others that we’ve attacked, however, are incapable of striking American cities. But if bombs started falling on American cities, we would sue for peace quickly against these nations. The only reason that we’re so uninterested is that we are unaffected.
Even North Korea, perhaps the most advanced of our self-created enemies, doesn’t have the ability to strike American cities. There’s no chance that any of these less-advanced Middle Eastern countries in whose affairs we’ve interfered for decades, often via wars that devastated their economies, could possibly retaliate except through guerilla terrorist tactics.
The invading aliens are too advanced to be destroyed with weapons. The only hope is to infect them with bacteria.
When I’m God, everyone dies.
Considering how much like a religion statism is, and the faith we place in government that it holds the answer to all life’s problems, and given how extraordinarily powerful the American head of state is, the metaphor is more appropriate than one might think.
Of course, all of this was true for Obama, as well–notorious winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who went on to be responsible for more deaths than Fidel Fucking Castro. It applies to every American President going back a very long time. They’re omnipotent, for all intents and purposes, sitting at the very top of humanity’s pyramid. If it truly came to blows, it’s doubtful that China and Russia could combine to take out the United States, after all, and individually neither stands a chance.
The biggest, toughest, strongest man in the prison, and he’s also a black belt.
And the only people he must answer to are only semi-resistant of this atrocity, with only about 7% of them resistant to it regardless of who is making the world smaller. There’s another 15% or so that are resistant to it, but their resistance depends upon who is exerting the power. If a Republican, then Democrats resist. If a Democrat, then Republicans resist. Nearly half the population doesn’t care enough to find out what’s going on.
Meanwhile, the world just keeps getting smaller.
I’m no Constitutionalist, but we do have constraints within the Constitution that would actually prevent the president from having this power to assassinate pretty much anyone he wants: Congress has the authority to create Letters of Marque and Reprisal. These are used in lieu of declarations of war, and are much more limited in scope. A letter of marque against Osama Bin Laden, for example, would have prevented the 16-year-long War in Afghanistan and the 14-year-long War in Iraq. It’s basically Congressional permission for authorized people–privateers, although, in an era of the standing army, it’s not inconceivable that the marque could be carried out by the military–to capture or kill someone, if capture is impossible.
I don’t know about you, but when someone says, “Hey, we could have avoided this war that has lasted sixteen goddamned years,” my interest is usually piqued. This war has lasted more than half of my life. Throughout more than half of my life, we have been fighting in Afghanistan, and the situation doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon. It’s worse now than it’s ever been–truly a victory for statism, since now we must keep the military there in an insane attempt to fix the problems caused by our military fighting there.
Congress really shouldn’t have the power to point at people and say, “Die!” either, like Lord Soth or something, but at least we know how dysfunctional Congress is. The dysfunction is a good thing, because it prevents these power-hungry lunatics from accomplishing anything. It’s more egregious than ever, too, with a reasonably decent Supreme Court Justice having a hard time getting the cloture vote. These people can’t agree on anything. There’s no chance that the Senate could get sixty votes authorizing an invasion of another country, or authorizing a drone strike. It would be considerably easier to authorize a letter of marque, given how much less responsibility that places directly on them, but they’d still have a difficult time accomplishing anything.
And when we’re talking about the power to point at a spot on the map and drop a bomb there, we want there to be lots of roadblocks built into the system, almost so many that it’s impossible to get them actually drop the bomb. Personally, I’d prefer it to be legitimately impossible, but…
Regardless, we should all be able to agree that no one person should have this sort of power. We’re worried about the power that Kim Jong Un unilaterally wields in his own nation, yet the power our president wields absolutely dwarfs that of North Korea’s. Kim Jong Un can point at a North Korean citizen and sentence them to death for whatever reason he wants, and that’s terrible, but the American President can point at anyone and sentence them to death for whatever reason he wants. And the only people to whom he has to justify it are overwhelmingly uninterested in even hearing the justification, because waitresses are getting fired from Cracker Barrel and transgender people are having a hard time finding restrooms.
Please forgive me if I’m not quite up to date with the latest in the Christian world.
When I was in junior high and high school, we received a notebook every year around January that contained on its cover the Ten Commandments. There were even occasions (at least once when I was in the tenth grade) that we were given those little New Testament Bibles. So naturally our school had no sex education program–abstinence or otherwise, which is fine since it’s a parent’s duty to explain procreation to their children, not the state’s–and only barely had a drug education program.
I’m speaking for… basically all… Mississippians when I say that the Bibles and notebooks were unnecessary. In a pragmatic sense, the notebooks were fantastic, because they always came around the time I needed a fresh notebook to continue my writing and not doing schoolwork. Teachers often loathed me for that, because they knew I was not paying attention, that I was writing some story, but when I passed the tests it didn’t leave them many ways to chastise me.
I’d wager that maybe one in two hundred kids didn’t have their own copy of the Bible, though, and I had at least two.
There was controversy surrounding the Ten Commandments, though (because of course there was), specifically whether it was stated that Thou shalt not kill or Thou shalt not murder.
This is an important distinction for a few reasons. First, God kills a number of people in the Bible by any translation, and, if you really want to split hairs, is inadvertently responsible for every death by creating life (unless you subscribe to the literal interpretation of Genesis, in which case he’s still responsible for putting the tree in the garden, but it’s not my intention to attack theology). Second, large portions of the Bible prescribe killing people as the punishment for everything from witchcraft to adultery. In order to avoid a conflict between “Thou shalt not kill [period]” and “Thou shalt kill these people,” it was necessary to draw a distinction between killing (The taking of life) and murder (presumably the unjust taking of human life).
It’s worth mentioning, though, that if our universe has a creator, then its moral mandates to us are not commandments to itself. Such a being has a perspective on human existence that we simply cannot attain, and is sure to abide what would seem to us as Blue & Orange morality. We silly mortals are unlikely to understand the value system of this creator, its criteria for assessing value, or its reason for doing so. Mandate from such a being would be perfectly acceptable, because we couldn’t even grasp its reasoning.
But the “Do as I say, not as I do” thing isn’t really a point of contention for Christians anyway–whether they’ve given it sufficient thought or not, they understand this. It’s mostly just a masturbation exercise for atheists (The Atheist Experience comes to mind, as they do it a lot) who refuse to accept that the existence of a god would instantly invalidate all moral values that weren’t its own. But he who makes the rules determines who is just; he who defines morality determines who is moral.
So the true importance of this distinction isn’t whether the creator of the universe must abide the moral proclamations it passes down to us; the true importance is whether the state has to.
Whew! What a leap, right? Here we were discussing theology, with no mention of the state, then BAM!
It’s not a leap at all, though, because what is the institution that would be responsible for outlawing and punishing heretics and adulterers? It would be the state.
Obviously, the church and state were not always separate things; if they had been, we wouldn’t today have the phrase “separation of church and state.” However, we’d be delusional to suggest that the separation of church and state has been total, throughout the world or throughout the United States. In fact, many sects within Christianity attempt to legislate based on the moral values that they (correctly or incorrectly) say stem from their religion. North Carolina’s transgender restroom law comes to mind, and anti-sodomy laws have only recently been repealed.
In order to carry out and enforce this fundamentalist morality, it is often necessary to break that morality, as we mentioned above. In order to carry out the moral proclamation “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” it is necessary to break the moral proclamation “Thou shalt not kill.” This is why the state, much as the deity we mentioned earlier, gets a pass on its own moral statements.
We do this with euphemisms. “Thou shalt not steal” doesn’t apply to taxation for some inexplicable reason. “Thou shalt not murder” doesn’t apply to war, the abomination of capital punishment, or a police officer killing someone. “Thou shalt not keep slaves”* doesn’t apply to forced military conscription or prison labor. “Thou shalt not rape” doesn’t apply when you send someone to a place where you know they will be raped.
The knee-jerk reaction is to say that taxation isn’t theft, that conscription isn’t slavery, and that being an accomplice sending someone to a rape factory doesn’t count as rape. But no arguments can be put forward to back these positions. One can only say, “Nuh-uh!” and leave it at that, because the position is indefensible.
It is called “theft” when a large group of people gather together and decide to take money and resources from other people who don’t consent to having their money taken. It doesn’t really matter whether three hundred million people agree and only one objects; it’s still theft to take money and resources from the one who objects. We cannot consent to taxation on his behalf any more than one can consent to sex on his behalf.
We recoil at that analogy, and rightly so. The mere thought of consenting to sex on a woman’s behalf, even though she is expressly against it, strikes us as vehemently immoral, but it’s really only a stroke of luck that we don’t live in a world where “sex” is alongside slavery and murder as things we consent to for other people while they object. There appears to be no limit to what we may mandate for other people. We kidnap them against their will, steal from them against their will, enslave them against their will, and kill them against their will. It’s only a matter of fortune that “have sex with them against their will” isn’t on that list.
We can give an omniscient creator of the universe a pass on our morality, because its perspective is too wide for our tiny minds to grasp, but we cannot give the state a pass. The state, after all, is filled with people of no particular greatness. They are not wiser, smarter, or more considered than anyone else, and that rulers are not special was the great revelation that set forward the rise of governance “by the people.”
We can’t have it both ways, of course. We can’t say in one breath that “we are the government” and then say that our government can violate moral values because it is special and exempt. It must be that trying to do such a thing is merely an attempt to give ourselves a pass on morality, to make ourselves into official hypocrites, because “we are the government” and “The government is exempt from our morality” means literally that “we are exempt from our morality.”
So are we? Are we exempt from our morality?
Of course, the truth is that “we” aren’t the government. Even if we buy into the conceit that our representatives actually represent us, “we” still wouldn’t be the government; our representatives would be.
What use is a morality system if we establish loopholes and exemptions that allow systemic violations more horrible than anything an individual might do? Despite our philosophy that killing is wrong, governments last century managed a body count above 160,000,000–a staggering number of dead people. Despite our maxim that theft is wrong, the American Government steals huge chunks of everyone’s money.
We established this moral system. If we judge ourselves by our own rules and standards, I don’t think we’d like the result.
What role do I play in the atrocities committed by the state? Very little, but I could certainly do more to fight it beyond writing articles and arguing with people. Shouldn’t I be out marching in the streets, demanding an end to war, theft, kidnapping, and slavery? By this measure I’m as guilty as anyone.
What role does the average voter play? Well, the average voter is more of an accomplice than a weakly active resistor. The average voter doesn’t just allow it by not resisting strongly enough; the average voter encourages and legitimizes it. The average voter is the rubber stamp that legitimizes the euphemisms and allows the theft, murder, kidnapping, and slavery to continue.
It’s one thing to perhaps-be-not-as-adamant-as-one-could-be about seeing a moral tragedy ended. At least we Pen and Paper Anarchists do something, even if we don’t do enough. Then again, what more can we do without violating the very moral tenants we are trying to spread? We cannot zerg rush DC with guns–the entire point of anarchism is that violence cannot be used to prevent violence. If we use violence, we cease being anarchists immediately and become statists, because its exemption to violate morality is what defines the state. That’s how authorities always function. “For the greater good, we must do evil.”
Fear is what I think compels us to embrace the state and its lies. “Government is a necessary evil,” went the advocates of classical liberalism. “Government is a necessary evil, except ours. Ours is a good one,” states the modern liberal and modern conservative. They arrive at this conclusion by different roads, but they reach it all the same. For the liberal, the government is mostly good because it protects us from ourselves; for the conservative, the government is mostly good because it protects us from others. And the miraculous thing is that these statements can be flipped without problem.
Any skilled chess player will tell you that there are huge differences between defence and offense, and between protecting and attacking. This isn’t to say that the two are always exclusive, because in chess they aren’t–the best attacking moves are those that defend, too.
But we’re not chess pieces to be moved about on a board and sacrificed to gain the upper hand. The pawn would never advocate a pawn sacrifice.
Unless the king had convinced him it was the only way to win.
* Although, to be clear, the Bible never states this.
In a shocking turn of events that I honestly didn’t see coming, a few weeks ago I received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service telling me that I had about ten days to pay them an absolutely ridiculous sum of around $2,000. Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Based on what the letter says, I’m assuming it’s a mistake on their end, but it’s not like it makes very much of a difference, does it? Right and wrong are meaningless in this matter; if right and wrong mattered, then under no circumstances would someone put a gun to my head and tell me to give them two thousand dollars. With right and wrong discarded long ago, it’s irrelevant who is actually right.
If the IRS checks and insists that I owe them this money, then I have two options:
Pay them this ridiculous sum.
Go to prison.
O’er the land of the free… and the home of the brave…
I received this letter shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, and I attempted to call the IRS, only to be told that they were too busy and that I needed to call back. That’s well and good, except I work the same time the IRS is open, so there aren’t a ton of opportunities for me to call them and find out what the hell is going on. 2014 was a simple year, as far as my taxes are concerned–I worked for Harrah’s as a slot tech, filled out a 1040EZ, and that was it. You can’t screw up a 1040EZ–it’s like Paint By Numbers. Yet somehow “changes to my W-2” mean I owe them a figure that is about 1/4 of what I even made last year.
This is a shitload of money we’re talking about. It may not be for everyone, but that’s half of my Move to Vegas money. With my car currently in the shop–again, this time with a busted fuel injector, busted intake manifold gasket, and busted head gasket–it’s not like I’ve been adding much to the savings account through the last two months, but it will be a cold day in hell before the IRS gets that money.
Honestly, it will be a cold day in hell before the IRS gets this money from me period, regardless of what they say.
What’s really amazing about this is that the IRS has my income records. They know as well as I do that $1,979.60 simply isn’t going to happen. If it was that or jail, I could probably pay $400~ without it absolutely bankrupting me and leaving all my bills unpaid, but they should know better than that. I’m not just bitching, though. I am going somewhere with this, and I am making a few different points. This one being that the IRS, better than anyone else–other than myself–knows exactly how frankly impossible it is for me to pay that amount of money. So what the hell do they want from me?
Meanwhile, President Elect Donald Trump isn’t paying that much, right? I don’t know, because I never pay any attention to the candidates’ taxes or income.
I knew this was going to happen. Not because I did anything wrong, but because rumors began circulating of threatening letters from the IRS sent to everyone who hadn’t purchased insurance, and that certainly included me. I have an exemption that means I don’t have to purchase health insurance, which is good because I’m young and in great shape, have no health issues, and no need of health insurance; since no companies are offering rates that a young, healthy person like myself can find agreeable, I am not purchasing health insurance.
Through the last few months, I’ve been expecting to get one of those letters. Instead, I got one of these. And I am almost positive this has something to do with the Affordable Care Act.
Our government is in debt for twenty trillion dollars, a figure so large that not even the most insane mathematician can wrap their mind around it. Our government is absurdly broke whether it harasses me and imprisons me over this paltry figure or not. Moreover, I don’t owe the government this money. I don’t. The government proclaimed that I owe it this money, and because it controls the courts it can have a judge rule that I owe it this money. So let me paint this little picture for you.
I’m going on about my life, working and trying to move to Las Vegas where I can put my degree to use, be transgender in peace, and live out my life happily. I’m a relatively normal, law-abiding citizen. One day I get a letter from the IRS telling me that I owe them two thousand dollars, which is to me a very large amount of money. I contest it, but the IRS insists that I do owe it and that I have to pay it; if I don’t, I’ll be arrested for contempt of court or tax evasion or some other charge. Even under the best of circumstances, I can’t come up with that kind of money. I’m arrested and thrown in jail.
How is that not among the most fucked up things ever?
While you’re going on about your life, I’ve got paperwork that says you owe me $2,000. You insist that you don’t owe me that money, but I take you to court. At court, the judge agrees with me and tells you that you have to pay it; if you don’t, you’ll be arrested. Unable to pay, you are then arrested.
This is the true nature of the state, and I’d be becoming an anarchist right now if I wasn’t one already. This… is… ridiculous.
It’s like, “Damn. I knew the state was a group of predators robbing, killing, and kidnapping people, and I’ve long been speaking out against that–and now this group of robbing, killing, kidnapping predators have turned their attention onto me. Shit.”
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Let’s not be unclear or ambiguous about this. It is the government’s Mission Statement to protect the lives, liberties, and happiness of American citizens. And rather than doing that–rather than protecting us from all manner of wicked humans we are told are lurking in the shadows, eager for the destabilization of the government so that they can rob, kill, and kidnap us, my very own government is declaring that I owe it a debt, and will use the existence of that “debt” to rob, kill, and/or kidnap me.
Any pretense of government goodwill falls utterly apart in this scenario. Just who in the hell do they think they are? They passed a law that said I had to pay them, invented some magical figure that I can’t possibly pay, stated that I owe them that large figure, and will rob, imprison, or kill me to get it. This is our government. This is the American government.
This vicious group of thieves, kidnappers, and murderers who have sworn to protect me, who managed to work up a twenty trillion dollar debt ostensibly in my name, have now turned their hungry eyes onto me. They don’t exist to protect us; they exist to predate us. Here are all the possible relationships to the government you can have:
What I mean by “no one” is that the government is mostly leaving you alone. It’s not sending you threatening letters and telling you that you owe them a giant chunk of cash. You will never be under the government’s protection because the government doesn’t exist to protect you. It will leave you alone–probably if you bow to every arbitrary demand that it makes–but it will never protect you. It will either victimize you or leave you alone.
A lot of people like arguing against anarcho-capitalism by saying, “What’s going to keep me from robbing you, kidnapping you, whatever, since I’m rich and have better weapons than you?”
Do you see what an asinine question that is? There are good people out there who would protect me from you if you attempted to kidnap me. It happens every single day; we’ve got entire groups of people who dedicate their lives to stopping that kind of behavior. Yet who is there that can protect me from the IRS? What’s going to keep the government from robbing me or kidnapping me? Who even can come to my defense when the government sends its soldiers to take me hostage and kidnap me for not being able to pay its extortion fees? There is no one stronger than the government, and definitely not stronger than the American Government.
The ultimate warlords, the ultimate thieves, the ultimate kidnappers. That’s our government.
And if they decide that I owe them this money, there isn’t a goddamned thing that anyone can do about it.
I’d take my chances against you any day, if the alternative is to take my chances with the “benevolence” of the government.
The title is incorrect. This is not an article about how virtue signaling has usurped genuine empathy; it is, instead, a statement that it did, and, as always, I am going to provide examples of what I’m talking about. Stay with me for a bit, because some groundwork has to be laid first.
I wrote yesterday that libertarians are frequently told that we lack empathy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a liberal who didn’t tell me at some point that I lack empathy. That’s a hell of a thing to say to someone who spends so much of their time and energy trying to do whatever they can to make society a better place, with more love and liberty for everyone. Telling a libertarian they lack empathy is like telling a Christian they lack Jesus.
Let’s be real for a moment. None of the stuff that happens “out there” affects me. My life is unchanged by the election, and it will remain unchanged as Trump takes office. The bitter war being fought between Republicans and Democrats because they refuse to come to an agreement and leave the other side alone has nothing to do with me. It doesn’t involve me, and I stand to gain nothing by wasting my time and energy writing articles trying to defuse the social bombs. It really doesn’t have anything to do with me, and my personal interests would probably be served better if I stoked the fires of hatred and let them rip each other apart, since my personal interests are what I like to call “being left the hell alone,” and I’m most likely to be “left the hell alone” if 95% of the population kills each other.
It sounds horrible to say, of course, but that’s because it is a horrible thing to say. Well, not really. It’s a statement of fact, and we can’t let ourselves get into the habit of assigning values to statements of fact. “Two plus two is four” should never be considered a good or bad thing to say, because it’s simply a true thing to say, just as it’s true that if what I want is to be “left the hell alone,” then that’s best served by letting conservatives and liberals get back to their bloodbath. Even if they don’t kill each other, they’ll be so busy gouging out each other’s eyes that they won’t even be able to see me, so it’s win/win no matter what.
Though it’s not really a horrible thing to say, it would certainly be questionable if I allowed that narcissistic desire to govern my actions. That could lead to utterly unforgivable behavior, of course. If I was worried about being left alone, and that was my only worry, then it would make sense for me to kill everyone else. It would be a brazen lack of empathy for me to kill everyone else just because I wanted to be left alone.
How much more empathy is really involved, though, if, rather than killing everyone myself, I munched on popcorn while I watched everyone kill each other?
I was recently told that I lack empathy for this hispanic woman’s plight. She was huddling in fear, terrified of President Trump, and feared for her life. She is right, of course, to say that I feel no empathy for her plight, but that’s because her “plight” is a figment of her imagination, and it’s ridiculous. Not only is it ridiculous, I think most of America also thinks it’s ridiculous, and I think that’s why they elected Trump. I have enough empathy for these people to realize that they’re not to blame because they have been convinced that the monsters under their bed are real, just as I’m aware that my father and grandmother aren’t to blame for the religiously-motivated damage they did to me. Like me, they are victims of their own religiously-motivated damage, and they simply paid it forward because they didn’t know any better.
I’m not special. If anything, I was probably lucky to be at the right place at the right time with the right mindset at that particular moment to have my worldview challenged. I refuse to let myself think something like, “No, it’s still their fault, because they should have asked questions and challenged the worldview that they were taught to believe!” I refuse that, because that is a statement of arrogance itself. It places me into a tier of people who are particularly strong/intelligent/reasonable/whatever, and it leaves them behind, those dumb, ridiculous people who never challenge what they are told.
I refuse to believe that, just as I refuse to believe that I’m smarter than anyone else. I refuse to be governed by my ego, and, believe me, my ego doesn’t like that. Earlier today I emailed someone:
I forgot that I’m so awesome I set up K. to be able to access the program from anywhere even though [the people who made the program] said they didn’t think it would work.
I was, of course, joking but not really. It was awesome, and it was far from the first time I did something really awesome like that. But it wasn’t awesome because I’m special, and that’s why I’m okay with making jokes like that–it was awesome because I was in the right place at the right time with the right perspective and the right knowledge to do it. Anyone could have done it. I was simply the one who did.
Liberals have been in their echo chambers for so long that they’ve simply lost all perspective on everything. Look, I read an article earlier about how–and I am not kidding about this–college professors allowed their students who were so traumatized by Trump’s victory to skip mid-terms and instead spend the day laying in the floor, coloring, and playing with Play-Doh. It’s such an astounding thing that I thought it had to be from a satire news site. Then I decided that the professor had to have been trolling when he offered his class full of grown adults the opportunity to play like five year old children. However, I followed the trail until I came to the original post, and it may still not be true, given that it’s from a blog at the Wall Street Journal, but I’m betting it’s true, because I know some colleges have established “safe spaces” where they have coloring books and liquid for blowing bubbles.
Kinda lends an entirely new dimension to my statement that they’re little babies pitching a fit and trying to cry and get their mom to buy them the candy bar that she said they couldn’t have, doesn’t it?
It’s nothing short of astounding. All of the mockery we get for saying that universities have become pandering, expensive daycare centers, and this is what happens–at a university today, students laid in the floor, colored, and played with Play-Doh. But no, these aren’t grown man-children and woman-children.
I was told earlier to have empathy for the old women who wanted to live to see a female president. I was told this because I said to someone that I’d rather see gender not matter. Then this happened.
That is the post that made me realize that virtue signaling had replaced genuine empathy. See? It took me a while to lay the groundwork to get to the point, but I was getting here.
I was mistaken initially when I said that it’s not a matter of empathy. It is a matter of empathy, as I ultimately realized and stated at the end. There was something off about his reasoning. I initially was going to say that I felt bad for all the Magic: The Gathering fans who didn’t live to see the day that we elected a president who played MTG, but I deleted it a few times throughout the thread without ever sending it. That’s what it’s all about, though. If someone is caring about something that shouldn’t matter so much that they become dejected and depressed about it, then the position of empathy is not to express sympathy but to help them get past that so that they are no longer sad and upset.
Empathy drives you to help someone, without exception and without fail. If one is not driven to help, then it is Virtue Signaling and empty sympathy. Oh, that’s it. See, they don’t mean empathy. They mean:
See, when we say “empathy” we mean it in its actual, literal sense: feeling compassion and having the ability to identify with other people. When they say it, they mean empty sympathy, and they say “empathy” as short-hand, the same way people say “lol” as short-hand for “that’s funny.”
That’s what this person meant. He said “empathy” by mistake, but at best he meant “sympathy.” I’m coming to the conclusion that “empathy” is the least understood word in the United States–literally. I say “literally,” of course, because “literally” is at least tied for that position. I use the word “literally” a lot, but I always mean it literally, and that’s where things get weird, because when people say “Trump is LITERALLY Hitler”–it is mandated in at least 17 states and the Dominican Republic that if you use the phrase “literally Hitler,” then the word “literally” must appear in all caps, of course–they don’t mean the word “literally” literally.
And when you find yourself writing that someone doesn’t use the word “literally” literally, it might occur to you that you have gone way past the point of return into the liberal’s head, and there’s no turning back now.
I present to you this hypothetical scenario. There is an old woman crying on the bench as she waits for the bus, mumbling to herself that she was really looking forward to seeing the first female president. You can:
A. Express sympathy and essentially cry with her.
B. Try to help her get past her sorrow by accepting that gender shouldn’t be a characteristic of significance when we assign values to things.
Which of these is genuine empathy? Which is virtue signaling?
It gets even worse if you remove this “empathy” from any real person and instead make a post on Facebook about it. That’s right. One now shows “empathy” by posting useless platitudes on social media. You know.
To help people who may or may not exist deal with being maybe or maybe not upset about something that may or may not be a problem but shouldn’t be anyway.
What could possibly be a better expression of empathy than posting on Facebook to help people who may or may not exist?
They have been so confused for such a very long time that they don’t see how a group of adults laying in the floor and playing with Play-Doh is pathetic in at least seventeen thousand different directions all at once. If you asked me if I needed to take the day off to color in a coloring book and process the trauma of Trump winning the election, I would ask you to repeat that because I couldn’t hear you over the sound of your ovaries drying up. Then I would ask you at what age you were when you decided that being a pussy wasn’t enough, and that you wanted to be a fucking fag. Then, if you hadn’t been reduced to a crying mess in the floor trying to crawl to your safe space to blow bubbles, I would tell you to get your ass up and at least pretend to be an adult who is equipped to deal with the world.
Yet when we say that these people are children, we’re criticized. And there they are… playing with Play-Doh.
Their entire world is Orwellian. Black is white; white is black. Strength is weakness; weakness is strength. Obviously, this leads directly into the glorification of victimization. How could it not? If a person believes that strength is bad and weakness is good, they will immediately fall in love with the Martyr Complex. A victim is, to speak in the most general terms, a weak person who was harmed by a strong person. To them, the victim is the realization of the Uberman, a living embodiment of all the traits they admire; of course they would glorify victimization. To them, there is nothing more beautiful, precious, noble, and virtuous than a victim.
I have no idea how we can reach people who have spent so long in their own echo chambers that they’ve become that confused, but their ideal society is clearly one where the average person has to be protected from reality itself. That’s what happened with these people coloring and playing with Play-Doh as they cried. Brittle, special little snowflakes that have to be coddled and protected from absolutely anything and everything.
“Pet,” by A Perfect Circle, of course, was written regarding George W. Bush and his War on Terror. I wonder if Maynard–who by all accounts is a smart guy–has noticed that it’s far more appropriate if taken as a message from liberals than conservatives.
Pay no mind to what other voices say. They don’t care about you like I do.
That could straight-up be Hillary Clinton referring to Wikileaks and its alleged “Russia” ties.
I don’t know what to do, guys. All of my personal interactions with liberals, as well as what I see in the media, suggest that they are hopelessly lost. The reality check that will come when Trump becomes President despite their hissy fit will not be anywhere near enough to begin pulling them back from the cliff they’ve marched up to. They dream of a world where the government does everything and solves all problems, where they are totally relieved of individual responsibility, where they are all victims and the precious government protects them from everything, where everything they want is provided to them free of charge and the entire working class becomes their slaves–to stop those wicked slaves from oppressing them. They want that. They need that.
They believe this shit so fervently that they want middle America to die.
I’m starting to think I was far too generous in my message to liberals.
Their worldview is dependent upon the idea that middle America is racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, and all that other crap, and that middle America is a bloodthirsty tyrant-in-waiting who must be held on a tight leash at all times, because otherwise they will LITERALLY set up death camps. This is the lie that justifies all of their other crap.
Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe having the person they consider LITERALLY Hitler in charge and having none of that shit happening can get through to them and make them realize that they’re jumping at shadows that aren’t even there because, despite what they imagine to be happening in their heads, they’re actually sitting in darkness and playing with Play-Doh like children while the world goes on outside their self-imposed isolation chamber, leaving them totally oblivious to everything that’s happening because they want to be protected from it.
I’ve been a bit shaken for about ten minutes, since I remembered suddenly that I had a dream about my mother last night. I don’t remember what that dream was really about, but it was significant, and I don’t often dream about her. Why should I? She’s been gone from my life for 17 years–well over half of my life, since I was 12 when she vanished inexplicably in the summer of 1999.
I told my sister last week that I plan to file the paperwork to have her officially declared dead. That’s long overdue. We need to put this matter to rest. While my sister agreed, I also realized by her tone and how she put things that she isn’t convinced that our mom is dead. Even more unbelievably, she believes the story that she “left with a truck driver named Tim” and thinks that our mom probably was murdered some time after that.
No. No, my poor, denying sister. Our mother was killed by the man she was living with, the one who put out the statement that she “left with a truck driver named Tim,” the one who was suspected of killing his parents, and the one who just got out of prison for killing another woman in Arkansas. It’s not exactly rocket science. When I said this, she remained unconvinced. I tried explaining that the murder was 6 or 7 years old when D. was finally arrested in Memphis and charged with it, and that it takes a lot of overwhelming evidence to find someone guilty of murder 6 years after the fact and then to sentence them to ten years in prison.
I wasn’t aware of how broken our justice system is until I began looking into that. Apparently, ten years is a huge sentence for a murderer to receive 6 years after the murder, and it’s apparently really hard to get a judge to be that harsh. How amazing. You can kill a human being in the state of Arkansas, live free for six years, be sentenced to only a decade in prison, and then get out on good behavior without even serving that entire sentence. While no sentence would ever have brought justice to the family of the woman he killed in [withholding the location to protect my identity–we are talking about a murderer, after all], it’s a damned shame that you can serve only about 75% of a weak sentence for murder.
My sister wants to apply for the survivor benefits that would have been due to us if her body had ever been found. I don’t really agree, because I don’t think I should be given money because someone murdered my mother. In hindsight, from that point of view, though, it’s good that no one ever found her body–our father would have ended up receiving the checks, and would have spent it all on drugs.
I’ve often felt guilty for using this story as such a major part of Dancing in Hellfire–for which it seems I’ve found an agent!–but I vastly prefer that over having the state write me checks. I’d rather tell the story in a fascinating, emotionally jarring way and earn money through the story-telling than have it gifted to me after other people were robbed to give it to me. But I no longer feel guilty, because my mother’s story is my story to tell. In fact, there is no one else who could tell it.
Even knowing as I do that she is certainly did–see above–does nothing to bring me closure on the matter. How could it? Her body is buried in the woods in some random place in Arkansas, rotted to the skeleton, forever lost. She has been given no memorial, no tombstone, and no real burial. These are things I intend to rectify. I will talk with D. somehow, and I will do everything in my power to convince him to give me the location of her body. Perhaps I can work with law enforcement to promise him immunity from prosecution. I don’t care. There’s no chance of having justice delivered anyway. For 17 years I’ve lived not knowing whether my mother is alive or dead–there’s no way to bring justice to that. So why bother?
But even if that can’t be worked out, I’m going to arrange a memorial service, difficult though that is to process and think about, once she is declared dead.
I don’t really want to do that, though. I don’t want my dad and grandmother there. I don’t want them patting me on the back or pretending to express sympathy. They didn’t show any goddamned sympathy seventeen years ago when she vanished. They would come, but it’s got nothing to do with them. It’s between me, my sister, and our brother. And our brother is dead, so it no longer involves him, either. He was killed in a car wreck about a year after we reconnected with him, after about five years of estrangement because he wouldn’t come to see us–because we asked “difficult questions about mom.”
So he wouldn’t deserve to be there, either.
No one on my mom’s side of the family deserves to be there. Her own mother would, but she’s dead, too. Her sister, my aunt? Hell no. My aunt knows exactly what happened–she knows damned well that her ex-husband killed her sister. She’s known it all along; everyone on that side of the family knew it all along. It’s the great elephant in the room, the sleeping dog that no one dares to wake. It would be an insult to have them there.
It’s ultimately between my sister and me, and, honestly, that would just be more awkward than anything, because we don’t share emotional moments. We’ve only hugged once in our entire lives, and that was awkward. How could we be comfortable showing emotions, after the bullshit we went through as kids? We trust no one with our emotions, not even the other. Then you have just me and my sister standing around, probably with her husband there, saying goodbye to a mother that isn’t there, in spirit or in death. It would be pointless, as neither of us would be willing to say what we were really thinking, and neither of us would be willing to shed a tear over it.
Carry on, weary soldier. Carry on.
Atlas must never show that the weight of the world is breaking his back.
Yesterday I became aware that “Libertarian Socialists” are a thing, proving that nothing is sacred, and that people will twist and contort any word they want to mean whatever they want it to mean, despite glaring contradictions. I would point out that libertarian ideology is inseparable from Austrian economics, but I don’t think there would be much point discussing it, considering it is almost a tautology.
I recently unfollowed Youtuber Tyler Preseton on Twitter, because he simply wasn’t listening. I’ve written extensively about it, and I’ve got a 4,000 word article dissecting his behavior (complete with tweets from him that demonstrate my exact accusation–he was never interested in learning; he was interested in reinforcing his own positions while calling it “skepticism”).
When it became clear to me what the problem is, I attempted to rectify it. The problem is that Tyler doesn’t know what the state is. He’s still clinging to the idea that the state is a great and marvelous thing that protects us from rape, murder, and theft. What is anarchy? Anarchy is the condition where there is no state. See the problem? If someone believes that the state is the thing that protects us from rape, murder, and theft, then, to them, anarchy is the condition where there is nothing protecting us from rape, murder, and theft. The question we have to ask, then, is (yet a-fucking-gain): What is the state?
a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.
But it’s not really helpful, is it? It basically defines it as itself; it also misidentifies the “nation” with “the territory” and with “the state,” all of which are clearly not equivalent. “An organized political community under one government” gets a little closer, but it raises its own problems. We know that “organized” isn’t really part of the definition, don’t we? Two people working together are organized (and a political community under one government, it’s worth noting) but are quite obviously not a state.
This is the problem we run into with definitions of the state: they are broken fundamentally. Here the best dictionaries on the planet have essentially defined the state as itself, or as a thing that applies to literally any two people who do anything together. Such a definition is clearly broken and inadequate, so we must go further. “Under one government”? Fine. What is a government?
the governing body of a nation, state, or community.
Oh. Okay. Well. That’s perfectly useless, then.
A state is a government, and a government is a state.
By this point in the journey of trying to define the state, you should be positively alarmed. What is this thing that rules us, if it cannot even define itself?
This is critical. We cannot define “anarchy” until we know what the state is, because “anarchy” is the absence of a state. So let’s look at our definition of government a bit more. “The governing body of a … community”? What? Are you kidding me? So IEEE, which effectively governs the tech communications industry, is a state? MPAA is a state, because it governs the community of cinematography? “Nation” and “state” can both be discarded from the definition for being obviously circular, for saying that a state is a government, and a government is a state, and for misidentifying the nation overseen by the state as the state itself, which is equally inapplicable.
What is a community, then? Perhaps we’re being too liberal in our understanding of community, to include the tech industry, film industries, and the like.
a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
No, we were exactly right, then.
So by the definitions that we are officially given for the state, government, and community, it is inarguable that IEEE is a state of the tech industry, and the MPAA is a state of the movie industry.
Since we know that IEEE and the MPAA are not states, we also know that we have “some other criteria” that we use to determine what is and isn’t a state. Everyone who reads the statement about these bodies being states will reject it, because we know that they are not states. This indicates that we know what a state is, because otherwise we would have no criteria by which to reject the notion that IEEE and MPAA are states. If I told you that 2 + 2 = 5, then you could only dispute that statement if you had some sort of understanding that 2 + 2 could not equal 5.
These definitions are clearly insufficient, as they leave labeled as states things that are clearly not states.
This is it, by the way. This is where the rubber hits the road. This is where decades of brainwash by the state that it is kind, benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent kicks in, wholly resisting and trying to prevent you from looking at what you know you’re looking at. Every fiber of your being is telling you that it cannot be so, that these definitions must be functional and accurate, yet you know that they are not–we have amply demonstrated that.
The reality is that the state has lied to you about what it is. The entire system we have set up has lied to you about what it is. This is not a conspiracy theory; look at the definitions that have been provided to us. They are clearly inapplicable. How can it be that so many great thinkers, intellectuals, politicians, and leaders could give you a definition of “the state” that isn’t applicable? Am I suggesting to you that it’s some great conspiracy, of people sitting in dark rooms smoking cigars and wondering how they’re going to suppress information? No.
They don’t have to do that.
Mutual self-interest propels them, just as it propels us. They do not need to conspire, because none of them are aware of what the state is. The state just kinda happened as we were bamboozled by its promises of solutions and answers, going all the way back to the earliest human tribes and their installation of states, when the need to mislead people was imminent. From then, the lie simply got repeated over and over, relying upon cognitive dissonance and willful ignorance to perpetuate itself. Does this sound like a conspiracy theory? It shouldn’t. Do you honestly believe that Hitler ever told the German people, “Oh, lol, btw, we’re gonna have sum sekret police, and their gonna kill yous. Kthxbai”? Of course not.
Yet look what Hitler accomplished with deceit.
How pervasive is the utter brainwash that is the notion that the state protects us from rape gangs and murders? Why, just go here and read most of the answers. Without a single solitary thought, people parroted the answer that they had been brainwashed to believe, without a single way of substantiating their answers. They simply assert it.
I shouldn’t have to point this out, but this guy demonstrated that large societies produced the state, not that the state produced large societies.
Between society and the state, people put the cart before the horse regularly, like this guy did. It is obvious and indisputable that society produced the state; the state did not produce society. This is like asking whether a painter produced the painting, or whether the painting produced the painter. It’s stupid in every sense. We know that the painter produced the painting. The painter is society; the painting is the state. This is not a “chicken and the egg” argument; it’s common sense, as Rothbard observed in Anatomy of the State. And now you’re going to just badly assert that the painter cannot exist without the painting? It’s utter nonsense.
Worse, it’s unthinking nonsense. It’s Mr. Widdison parroting back brainwash bullshit that he’s been taught to believe without giving a moment of thought to any of it.
Here the answer is so ridiculous that it shouldn’t have to be pointed out how absurd it is. In order to protect ourselves from having to protect ourselves from being at the mercy of people who are bigger, stronger, or better armed than we are, we have to submit ourselves to a group of people who are supremely bigger, stronger, and better armed than we are?
What kind of logic is that called?
But this glaringly obvious point goes unaddressed; it doesn’t even occur to him that his argument, if anything, is an argument against the state. To keep us from being at the mercy of people who are bigger, stronger, and better armed, we must be at the mercy of people who are bigger, stronger, and better armed than anyone else could even possibly be? What?!
He has answered the question by asserting that there will always be a state, but has not provided any evidence for believing that. “Anarchy” is the removal of the state; ergo, in an anarchy there would be no state. Why is he answering the question if he doesn’t understand this basic idea?
I want to add that it’s beautiful and encouraging to see so many other anarchists step forward to actually answer the question–you’ll find my answer there as well, of course. But others answered it, too, correctly pointing out that the state is simply a possible solution; it is not the only one. They even used an analogy that I used elsewhere (coincidentally).
Carry this all the way back to the birth of the state, independently throughout the world, as selfish and immoral humans all saw the same opportunity ripe for exploitation. The lie perpetuated through the entire planet, from one generation to the next, with everyone just taking it for granted that the state spoke the truth when it said it protected them. It’s not that there’s a conspiracy trying to keep us from looking. It’s that the lie has been carried for so long that we have forgotten that we aren’t looking. So do one thing to begin your journey in figuring out everything that is wrong.
Define the state.
Take as much time as you need. Do all the research you can. Think as much as you can. And then sit back, because I’ll give you the actual definition.
A state is a type of government that exists as a cabal of rulers who use force, violence, and coercion to achieve their ends.
Does that really sound like something we can’t live without?
President Obama has added North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to a U.S. sanctions list, and cited human rights abuses as justification. Of course, this caused the retarded dipshit in North Korea to start blustering, and they’re saying that they view it as an act of war, but I don’t really care about that. Realistically, he’s not wrong, and Ron Paul pointed this out years ago: sanctions are not an alternative to war. They are a prelude to war.
Anyway, what strikes me as amazing as that this is quite clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I don’t know if Mr. Obama has noticed, but he has quite a lot of blood on his hands. In fact, I would wager that Obama has more blood on his hands… than Kim Jong Un has. We know that Obama has personally ordered airstrikes that killed as many as 64 people, and the figure as of July 1 was 64 to 116, but most other governments (read: not the Obama Administration) place the number much higher, at around 900. I don’t know about you, but I don’t expect the Obama Administration to tell us the truth about how many civilians it has killed.
Some people say this makes me paranoid. I say that makes them stupid.
We have Obama saying “No, look, I only killed like 116 people, tops.”
Then we have other governments saying, “No, he killed more like 900 people.”
Are you seriously so naive that you think Obama is likeliest to be telling the truth here?
“Casualties,” they call them, as though there is something casual about the unjust murder of 28 people, a crime for which Obama will never be held to account. Let’s take a moment to remember and appreciate the fact that Barack Obama has a Nobel Peace Prize. The man who authorized a drone strike that killed 28 civilians in an area that we had killed civilians in the week before–that man has a Nobel Peace Prize. The man who authorized a drone strike at a wedding that killed 12 civilians in Afghanistan–that man has a Nobel Peace Prize.
If the Nobel committee cannot retract its prizes, then this should serve as a stern reminder that they should never give out Peace Prizes in anticipation based on what they think someone will do. I was an Obama supporter in early 2009, but the only promise he kept was to end torture; he didn’t fulfill any of his other promises, and thus I stopped supporting him. When he received the Nobel Peace Prize, I was still a supporter, but even I was shocked and embarrassed that it had been given to him. It was such a transparent and gross political statement, and now look what we have. The man who is responsible for the murder of 28 innocent people… has a Nobel Peace Prize adorning his mantle.
Today’s family members of civilian “casualties” are tomorrow’s terrorists.
Women and children were just murdered in Syria by American bombs guided by American aircraft piloted by Americans, and the attack was authorized by the President of the United States. Whatever delusions people harbor that allow them to persist in their insane belief that we have some sort of moral high ground must be fully jerked out from under their feet.
I would not ever make the foolish and false argument that “we” are the government and thus “we” are responsible for what Obama and his military have done, but it is time that we took a serious look at examining our Commander-in-Chief and impeaching him. If this was an attack that killed 28 Americans, how would we react?
Not nearly as kindly, I think, and Republicans would be screaming impeachment. Yet because they’re not Americans, we’re not going to hold our President to the same high standard, and that’s messed up. These were people, human beings, innocent men, women, and children. They are now dead, and they are dead by our President’s hands.
It is not fearmongering to say that Hillary would be even more liberal with authorizing drone strikes than Obama; Hillary is a well-known hawk when it comes to foreign policy, and I would urge anyone who supports her to take a look at what she and Bill did to Haiti, Sudan, and Rwanda. Neither Trump nor Hillary will solve this problem in any way that would satisfy a just and compassionate heart.
All I want… is for the United States to stop murdering people.
People are so fixated on things happening within the United States. Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, feminism, wage gaps, education costs, health care, immigration, unemployment, inflation, racism, police brutality… And I’m as guilty as anyone. Most of my content in the past three months has been directed largely at one of these issues.
Part of the problem is that our media doesn’t spend much time talking about the civilians left murdered by American bombs. The murder of innocent people has just become… a casual matter. Our media will tell us about it, and the headlines will have the front page for a few minutes, but then Trump will tweet something, Kim Kardashian will set a wine glass on her fat ass, or police will shoot someone, and everything will get pushed to the side as the new story is brought to the front. The story of the 28 dead civilians is pushed into the background, and no one hears about it.
28 people had their lives mercilessly, brutally, inhumanely, viciously, and barbarically cut short by the United States, its military, its drones, its bombs, and its President.
That is a statement that should not be pushed from our minds by something trivial.
The murder of 28 innocent people should be the primary factor when people determine for whom they will vote, and they should all look at the matter objectively, accept the facts, and be honest with themselves. After all, lives are on the lines. Lots of them.
And the truth is that Trump is unlikely to be very restrained with the drone strikes. Trump would surely be more liberal with the attacks than Obama, but probably attack less frequently than Hillary. Between Hillary and Trump, Hillary is by a wide berth the most hawkish. Trump is no non-interventionist, but he does have some non-interventionist policy running through him, and it comes out on occasion.
I can’t say that I would trust Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate, on foreign policy matters, either. The official Libertarian answer to Isis is not a particularly good one–“Leave them alone and stop bombing the Middle East” is essentially the Libertarian Party’s position on the matter, and that’s not really applicable to this situation. Isis is not Al-Queda, and treating them as though they are will leave us weaker. Al-Queda was a rebel group resisting foreign occupation and using religion as a front. Isis is a religious group; Islam is more than a front to them, and it is their primary motivator.
To be honest, the only one who I’d really trust (other than McAfee) to handle Isis would be Jill Stein. This is because of her character, and not because of any particular policy. Alas, however, a candidate like that doesn’t exist.
Trump and Hillary are our de facto choices.
Let the oceans boil red with the blood of the innocent.