movies, politics, religion

Colonia– how a 2015 movie helped me understand a Sting song from 1987.

Yesterday, after writing my second and mostly original rant, I decided to watch a movie. iTunes has a bunch of them on sale, so I often look to see what I can get cheaply. A lot of times, I get films I’ve already seen a bunch of times– guilty pleasures that never get old. Every once in awhile, I find a movie I haven’t heard of, but I’m intrigued by the description. Colonia, a 2015 film that was mostly made by Germans, Brits, Frenchies, and Luxembourgers, was one of those films I hadn’t heard of, but got sucked into because of the description. Plus, it only cost me $4.99 to buy it, although at this writing, someone has uploaded the whole film to YouTube.

A trailer for the film, Colonia.

The plot

It’s 1973, and Lena (Emma Watson), a German flight attendant for Lufthansa, and her German boyfriend, Daniel (Daniel Brühl), are in Chile at a time of political unrest. The Chilean president, socialist Salvador Allende, has been forced out of power due to a military coup. Allende would die on September 11, 1973, as the government was taken over by General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet would seize power from civilians, suspend the constitution, and impose martial law.

Daniel supports former President Allende and has given speeches to Chileans. Pinochet’s secret police, Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), rounds up people who are loyal to the deposed president. Daniel gets abducted by DINA. Lena decides to track him down, eventually finding out that he is being held by a secret organization called Colonia Dignidad, which turns out to be a religious cult run by a German lay preacher named Paul Schäfer (played by the late Michael Nyqvist). Against the advice of wiser people, who warn her that if she joined the cult, she will not be able to escape it, Lena decides to join Colonia Dignidad in an attempt to find her boyfriend.

The UK Trailer for Colonia.

Lena does find Daniel, who has been tortured with electric shocks and acts as if he’s disabled in order to escape scrutiny. But she’s abused by the leaders of the cult, to include a vile old woman named Gisela (Richenda Carey) who calls the women “cunts” and forces them to work without food or water. The couple befriend a nurse named Ursel, who is pregnant. They try to escape the compound, which is a heavily guarded fortress. Ursel is killed, but Daniel and Lena manage to get to the West German embassy, where they are betrayed. However, against the odds, they manage to leave the country with incriminating photographs of Colonia Dignidad, as the Lufthansa pilot takes off without official clearance from flight controllers, and spirits the couple back to Germany.

Paul Schäfer

Adding to this film’s intrigue is the story of Paul Schäfer. If you read this blog regularly, you might know that I find religious cults fascinating. I think a lot of them are just plain evil. Paul Schäfer was born in Bonn in 1921. Due to an accident with a fork, he lost his right eye. He later told people that he lost his eye due to a war injury during World War II; as Schäfer did serve as a medic in a German hospital in occupied France. Later, he was influenced by the American Baptist preacher, William M. Branham, who also influenced Jim Jones. Branham advocated a strict adherence to the Bible, which Schäfer also demanded of his followers.

Schäfer became a lay preacher and opened a children’s home in Siegburg, but was later run out of Germany because he was accused of molesting two boys in his care. Schäfer subsequently relocated his ministry to the Middle East, where he met the Chilean ambassador to Germany, who invited him to Chile. By 1961, Schäfer had moved to Chile, where his cult took root. The Chilean president at the time, Jorge Alessandri, granted him permission to launch the “Dignidad Beneficent Society” on a farm outside of Parral, in southern Chile. The society, which was founded on Baptist principles and anti-communism, eventually turned into Colonia Dignidad– the place where Daniel and Lena ended up in the film, Colonia.

The character, Paul Schäfer, appears just after Daniel has been tortured with electric shocks. Daniel is shown strapped to a metal bed frame, naked except for his underwear. As Daniel recovers from being beaten and repeatedly shocked, Schäfer shows up and comforts him, hugging him and speaking soothingly to him. As a viewer, I am led to believe this is how the cult leader gets Daniel into the compound, where he and the rest of the followers are forced to work. Males and females are kept apart, and children are separated. Although it’s not explicitly shown in the film, it’s implied that Schäfer molests boys. Indeed, the real Paul Schäfer was found to have molested hundreds of boys over his forty years leading the cult. But Schäfer colluded with the Pinochet regime, arranging to smuggle in weapons from Germany, since shipments bound for his ministry were never inspected by customs because they were for a “charity”.

Schäfer also conducted torture and took care of executions for the Pinochet regime, as he also ran a hospital. After a hunting accident, which required Schäfer to undergo medical care at a hospital in Santiago for months, Schäfer came back to his fortress and forbade all festivities. In 1966, a teenager named Wolfgang Kneese managed to escape the fortress and spoke to the press. Schäfer got another teenager, name of Hartmut Hopp, to accuse Kneese of sexual misconduct. Hopp was rewarded by Schäfer, who allowed him to study medicine. Hopp served as a physician in the hospital; he also prescribed sedatives for Schäfer, who would use them to subdue his victims, boys he raped who were sent to his colony.

In real life, Schäfer duped locals into following him until he finally lost favor when Pinochet stepped down in 1990. The next leader, Patricio Aylwin, stripped Schäfer’s ministry of its charity status and cut off funding for Schäfer’s hospital. In 1997, Schäfer disappeared, as he was up on child sexual abuse charges. He was tried in absentia in 2004, and found guilty. Schäfer was also wanted in Germany and France, having also been accused of child abuse in both countries. In March 2005, Schäfer was finally found hiding out in a townhouse in a gated community about 25 miles from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was arrested and sent back to Chile. In 2006, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing 25 children. He was also fined 770 million pesos, which was to have been distributed to his victims. He died on April 24, 2010 at age 88 of heart failure.

Lena gets verbally abused.

I wish Colonia had gone more into detail about Paul Schäfer. In fact, I think they should make a movie about him, to show how a charismatic man who preaches about Christianity can turn out to be pure evil. In the film, Schäfer is explicitly shown abusing women– forcing them to listen to a boy soprano sing “Ave Maria” in front of a room full of angry men. Schäfer would make a woman sit alone in front of the men, then viciously debase her in front of the men, who would grow more hostile until they were driven to attack her. He would sniff her, calling her a harlot and a slut. He forced the women to bind their breasts. The child abuse was sort of alluded to, but in the film he appears to have been a misogynist, more than anything else.

My thoughts

Before yesterday, I knew nothing at all about Chilean politics. In fact, the only thing I knew about Augusto Pinochet was that his name is in an old song by Sting. His song, “They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)”, was on the 1987 album, Nothing Like the Sun, which was released when I was fifteen years old and in the tenth grade. I didn’t know anything about American politics in 1987, let alone what was going on in Chile. But now that I’ve seen Colonia and was curious enough to learn more about the film, that song makes a lot more sense.

Gee… now I know what this song is about.

They Dance Alone by Sting

Why are there women here dancing on their own?
Why is there this sadness in their eyes?
Why are the soldiers here
Their faces fixed like stone?
I can’t see what it is that they despise

They’re dancing with the missing
They’re dancing with the dead
They dance with the invisible ones
Their anguish is unsaid
They’re dancing with their fathers
They’re dancing with their sons
They’re dancing with their husbands
They dance alone They dance alone

It’s the only form of protest they’re allowed
I’ve seen their silent faces scream so loud
If they were to speak these words they’d go missing too
Another woman on a torture table what else can they do
They’re dancing with the missing
They’re dancing with the dead
They dance with the invisible ones
Their anguish is unsaid
They’re dancing with their fathers
They’re dancing with their sons
They’re dancing with their husbands
They dance alone They dance alone

One day we’ll dance on their graves
One day we’ll sing our freedom
One day we’ll laugh in our joy
And we’ll dance
One day we’ll dance on their graves
One day we’ll sing our freedom
One day we’ll laugh in our joy
And we’ll dance

Ellas danzan con los desaparecidos
Ellas danzan con los muertos
Ellas danzan con amores invisibles
Ellas danzan con silenciosa angustia
Danzan con sus padres
Danzan con sus hijos
Danzan con sus esposos
Ellas danzan solas
Danzan solas

Hey Mr. Pinochet
You’ve sown a bitter crop
It’s foreign money that supports you
One day the money’s going to stop
No wages for your torturers
No budget for your guns
Can you think of your own mother
Dancing with her invisible son
They’re dancing with the missing
They’re dancing with the dead
They dance with the invisible ones
Their anguish is unsaid
They’re dancing with their fathers
They’re dancing with their sons
They’re dancing with their husbands
They dance alone
They dance alone

Turns out Sting was right. Mr. Pinochet left power just a few years after this song was released.

But anyway… while I think Colonia could have been a better film, and it was really just based on true events, it did lead me to learn more about Chilean politics. And now, I finally have more of an understanding of what “They Dance Alone” is about. I may or may not be moved to learn more about this subject, which isn’t a bad accomplishment for a film. A lot of people gave Colonia bad reviews, but I think if a movie inspires someone to do research, it’s done something pretty amazing. So, for that reason, I can’t pan it. I do think it’s kind of misleading, though, and I think it would have been a better story if the focus had been more on Schäfer, rather than Daniel and Lena. Also, bear in mind that a lot of the movie was filmed in Europe, with only a few scenes filmed in Argentina.

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bad TV, complaints, condescending twatbags, modern problems, politics

Canceling Pepe Le Pew really stinks…

You know, I’ve been eagerly awaiting new leadership in the United States. For the past four years, we’ve had a bonafide sex offender in the White House, embarrassing and humiliating Americans around the globe. Donald Trump is, without a doubt, someone who truly ought to be canceled. This is a man who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy. In his first divorce trial, his first wife Ivana described a disturbing incident in which he forced himself on her sexually. And there are COUNTLESS accusations from women over decades accusing Trump of molesting them. One disclosure famously came from a woman named Katie who claims that she was raped by Trump as a teenager at Jeffrey Epstein’s house of horrors. Just today, in my Facebook memories, there was an article from 2017 about some of the horrible “rapey” things Donald Trump has said.

Thank God Trump didn’t win a second term in the White House. I know a lot of people are upset about it. I’m sure many of those people don’t believe the dozens of women who have accused Trump of assault. Even though Trump has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself, these folks are doggedly still supporting him. And he’s still in the news as he does what he can to run decent Republicans out of office so he can hijack the party and turn it into Trumpism.

We should probably be focusing on getting rid of Trump. We should be focusing on getting rid of COVID-19. But what are a surprising number of people upset about right now? Pepe Le Pew. They say he needs to be canceled because he’s “rapey”.

When I was growing up, I used to watch the French skunk on Saturday morning cartoons. The running gag was that the amorous skunk wanted to make sweet love to a cat (a pussy)? He’d grab her and snuggle with her, kissing her without consent, not taking “no” for an answer, and being relentless in his pursuit of her.

Yikes!

I’m not saying this is behavior anyone should be modeling. As a kid, Pepe’s cartoons weren’t my favorites. I didn’t like the Road Runner either, or Speedy Gonzales. I was more of a fan of The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, and Bugs Bunny. But I never thought of Pepe Le Pew as “rapey”. I always figured the pussy cat didn’t want to get with him because he stank. As I got older, I forgot all about him. But now Pepe’s in the news, mainly because The New York Times ran an op-ed by columnist Charles M. Blow entitled “Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias”.

Blow’s column was in response to the recent decision by the company that publishes Dr. Seuss’s books that six titles would no longer be made available because they include “racist and insensitive imagery”. In a statement, a spokesperson said that the six offending books “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Blow was cheering on the decision, and in his piece, had referenced cartoons that a lot of us had grown up with, saying they had promoted ideas that were wrong. From Blow’s op-ed:

Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture; Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans; and Mammy Two Shoes, a heavyset Black maid who spoke in a heavy accent.

A lot of people are upset that six of Dr. Seuss’s books are going to go out of print. Many people bemoaned “cancel culture”. To be honest, I am personally not a fan of cancel culture myself. I am uncomfortable with whitewashing history, burying language, and political correctness run amok. However, I think it’s absolutely fine to recognize that some relics of the past are hurtful and stop highlighting them in popular culture, and I don’t think the decision made by the publishers of Dr. Seuss’s books is necessarily “cancellation”, per se. I think it was more likely a business decision.

Hey– this issue is inspiring talented people, even though I don’t quite agree with this dude’s take on it. He plays guitar well, though, and his message resonates with the salt of the Earth types who never went to college.

However… I do think it’s absolutely crazy that people are calling for Pepe Le Pew, a cartoon character from decades ago, to be canceled. I really do. Because we’re talking about a fucking cartoon character, not a real person. Less than three months ago, a legitimate sex offender was running the country and influencing the free world. Many people are still cheering him on. He almost won a second term in office. Why the fuck are we up in arms over a cartoon skunk from the 1940s?

“They’re gonna keep the fuckin’ real ones!”

It reminds me of a classic George Carlin rant from the late 1980s, in which he went off about all of the ludicrous inconsistencies in American culture. In the above clip, he reminds us that gun shop owners have a list of stolen credit cards, but not a list of criminals and maniacs. And he adds, “now they’re thinking of banning toy guns… but they’re gonna keep the fuckin’ real ones!”

As usual, Carlin was right.

That rant was from 1988, and I can remember watching 90s and 00s era shows like 7th Heaven, in which the characters Ruthie and Simon aren’t allowed to play a game called “Baboom” or play with toy guns, and yet look at all of the shootings we’ve had since the late 1990s! To be sure, having grown up in a relatively innocent time, never having had to confront a security guard at school and seeing my classmates bringing their hunting rifles on school grounds, we didn’t worry about random acts of violence like we do now. And yet in those days, people weren’t trying to cancel things because they were politically incorrect. Or, at least a lot fewer people were trying to do it.

Does cancel culture really work? I don’t know that it does. I think it makes some things “forbidden fruit”. I’ll bet the six Dr. Seuss books that are no longer going to available are in high demand on eBay and Amazon now. In fact, last night as I was looking for something to watch, I noticed one of the trending shows on iTunes was a show that highlighted Pepe LePew’s cartoons! I haven’t thought or cared about Pepe LePew in probably 40 years. But suddenly, he’s relevant again, because people are calling for him to be “canceled”.

I honestly think a lot of the reason why so many conservatives are resistant to liberal ideas is because a lot of liberals come across as heavy handed, all knowing, and insulting. Which is not to say that the conservatives aren’t guilty of the same thing. Read any article about abortion, women’s rights, or the rights of LGBTQ people and you’ll read a lot of insulting, heavy handed, and just plain offensive conservative opinions. But liberals do the same thing, shaming conservatives for liking things like Pepe Le Pew, or The Dukes of Hazzard, or certain books by Dr. Seuss. At the same time, they tout themselves as being better people and look down on those who don’t agree with them. They show no willingness to understand why some people agree with conservative views. Instead, they simply mock them, and the conservatives respond in kind, and we have an “us versus them” situation. No understanding is ever reached; therefore, we can’t be open-minded and come together to accomplish things that will make the country better for EVERYONE. To me, it makes no fucking sense.

I’ll be honest, too. I’m a lot less concerned about certain offensive words and symbols than I am the dangerous and influential people behind those words and symbols. I grew up watching racist cartoons on a Christian television station. I was once a dedicated fan of The Dukes of Hazzard. I grew up in a place where people proudly displayed the Confederate flag. I even went to graduate school in a place where that flag flew over the Statehouse and I could see it from my window… at least until it was finally removed from the dome in 2000 and removed from the Statehouse grounds fifteen years later. I’m not saying it wasn’t time for the flag to come down. I’m not even saying that it’s wrong for the Confederate statues to come down. But I think the outrage some people have over those symbols is way out of sync with the real causes of the problem– that is, dealing with the negative attitudes and stereotypes that promote them. It’s a lot easier to cancel inanimate objects, though, than it is to deal with real people who make those items relevant.

In my view, someone like Donald Trump should have NEVER been allowed to run for president, for the very fact that he bragged about molesting women, was sued for racial discrimination, and has a long history of being a fucking creep. Put it this way. If he were going for a regular government position, he wouldn’t pass muster. He wouldn’t be able to get a security clearance. And after the attacks on the Capitol in January, we can see why he wouldn’t. But instead of STOPPING Trump and his cronies, we’re spending precious time and energy talking about Pepe Le Pew and Dr. Seuss. It’s ridiculous!

Look… at this point, I simply want things to get to a point at which we can have some semblance of peace and normalcy. I want to be able to go downtown and not worry about getting deathly ill. I want my husband to be home with me. I want my president to be a normal person who cares about the people he’s (or she’s) serving. I want to be able to go to a concert or a mall sans face mask, and without worry that someone will randomly shoot me. I want to be able to seek healthcare without worrying about going bankrupt. It would be nice if I could find a job with a living wage, if I needed to. I want all of those things for everybody else, as well.

ALL of those things are a hell of a lot more important to me, personally, than Pepe Le Pew’s rapey tendencies circa 1945. I don’t remember reading a lot of Dr. Seuss’s books when I was a child, although I do distinctly remember reading “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street”, which was included in a book of stories I inherited from my older sisters. I was influenced by all kinds of questionable things in the media that many people worry will warp kids and ruin them. I’ll be honest. Having been around for going on 49 years, I don’t think this practice of canceling words, symbols, books, movies, tv shows, music, and cartoon characters has done anything to keep kids from being more fucked up than they were in my adolescence. If anything, I think things have gotten markedly worse than they were back then. Maybe we should rethink trying to change people’s beliefs and thoughts and do more to make life better and more fair for everyone… and keep narcissistic rapey assholes out of the White House, rather than banning fictional French cartoon skunks who sexually harass cartoon cats… Hey, at least Pepe wasn’t biased against different species, right? He has that going for him.

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condescending twatbags, politics, poor judgment, true crime

File this under winning stupid prizes…

I probably should have written about the latest insurrectionist dumbfuck yesterday, but I felt too compelled to write about that Missouri pastor who think women need to “pretty up” for their fat-assed, sexist, evangelical Christian, Trump loving husbands who smell like week old smegma. But now that I’ve written about Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark and gotten all of that out of my system, I need to move on to another Republican shithead. You know who I’m talking about…

And before I get too cranked up, I want to apologize in advance for the cursing and name calling that will happen in this post. I’m highly irritable right now, for a number of reasons… and people who think they need to be cut a break when they’ve clearly been in the wrong are people who are not getting much of my patience or sympathy these days. But I don’t like hypocrisy, even when I’m guilty of it. I often preach about civility in my blog, but this guy just makes me feel decidedly uncivilized…

Damn… I love the way Rachel Maddow talks about these assloaves…

Remember January 6th? That was the day thousands of Trump supporting chuckleheads showed up in Washington, DC, prepared to storm the Capitol. These idiots came wearing red MAGA hats, bearing weapons, and sporting bad attitudes as they forced their way into one of our nation’s most venerable and recognizable buildings. They were intent on disrupting Congressional proceedings to oust their orange hero out of office and stop his maniacal assault on the United States and its allies.

Among those morons was a sixty year old man from Gravette, Arkansas named Richard Barnett. You’d think a 60 year old man would know better, right? But no, Richard Barnett was full of piss and vinegar on January 6th. And he invaded Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office while wearing a cattle prod-like stun gun, sat in her chair, and put his fucking feet up on her desk. He stole her mail, took selfies, and basically acted like a fucking jackass, then shared his dumbassery with the world.

Well, now Barnett is sitting in jail cell. He’s really pissed off about it. And a couple of days ago, he had a virtual court hearing regarding his case. Mr. Barnett is apparently not so tough anymore, having sat behind bars for awhile. The moment he was taken into custody, Mr. Barnett campaigned to be released on bond. At this point, he’s been unsuccessful in his bid to be freed, if only temporarily. And when he had his hearing with Judge Christopher Cooper, a federal judge in Washington, DC, he lost his temper and had a full on tantrum! That’s right– a sixty year old man with balls big enough to storm the Capitol can’t hack being in prison. He says “it’s not fair”, because other people who were involved in the attack have been released.

Judge Cooper seems to have been quite polite and respectful in his dealings with Mr. Barnett, at least based on the way Rachel Maddow describes it. He says “please” and “thank you” and is courteous toward Barnett, who is in the process of replacing his attorneys. The judge says he would like a continuance until May 4th. Barnett then unmutes himself and has a bonafide fit! He screams that he’s been in jail for a month! And it’s NOT FAIR! According to The Daily Beast:

“They’re dragging this out. They’re letting everyone else out,” Richard “Bigo” Barnett yelled during his Thursday court hearing, insisting that “it’s not fair” that he is still in jail while a slew of his fellow rioters have been released pending trial.

“This has been a bunch of crap,” he added. (um… yes, crap that you could have easily avoided by not raiding the Capitol, you racist fuck.)

Barnett could end up going to prison for years for what he did. I would suggest he learn to deal with his situation. As it stands today, Barnett is facing several charges, including theft. He proudly posed for an infamous photo in Pelosi’s office, shared it publicly, and armed himself with a stun gun as his fellow MAGA morons attacked the Capitol while Congress met to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

It’s true that Barnett was one of the first of at least 300 people to be arrested for participating in the riots, and is among the few to remain in jail. But what the hell does he expect? There’s no question about his guilt. This man took it upon himself to go to Washington, DC armed and dangerous. What was he going to do with that stun gun? How would he like it if someone broke into his place of business and took selfies of themselves violating his work place? Barnett bought a 950,000-volt stun gun walking stick at a Bass Pro Shop in Arkansas five days before he traveled to Washington. That was proven by prosecutors who did some checking. What would a 950,000-volt stun gun to do a human being? I don’t want to find out.

Barnett was also bitching about how others had been let out– mainly because they were not being accused of violent offenses and judges deemed their offenses unworthy of incarceration. I don’t think Barnett was planning to be peaceful. If he was, he wouldn’t have brought a stun gun with him. Originally, the Magistrate Judge wanted to put Barnett on home confinement, but prosecutors rightly objected because Barnett was seen carrying a stun gun. They successfully argued that he might be dangerous.

Screenshot of Richard Barnett in Nancy Pelosi’s office. He ain’t smilin’ anymore, folks.

Barnett has also referred to himself as a “white nationalist”, and in another photo, was shown with an envelope addressed to Nancy Pelosi. Barnett took the envelope from her office. According to The Daily Beast, he explained himself thusly:

“I did not steal it. I bled on it because they were macing me and I couldn’t fucking see so I figured I am in her office. I got blood on her office. I put a quarter on her desk even though she ain’t fucking worth it,” Barnett told one news outlet, according to the complaint. “And I left her a note on her desk that says, ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch.’”

A couple of months ago, I was willing to cut Skylar Mack a break for breaking the law in the Cayman Islands. Skylar has youth on her side, and she owned up to what she did while sincerely apologizing. Richard Barnett is just a spoiled brat who doesn’t want to face the very real consequences for breaking the law. Consider the man is 60 years old, acting like a toddler. You would have thought he would have been raised better. Play stupid games. Win stupid prizes. Enjoy your time in the big house, Barnett. You earned it. Oh… and FUCK YOU.

Weird Wilbur, who probably would like Richard Barnett fine, has words of wisdom for him…
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Ex, mental health, politics

When QAnon brings estranged family members together…

Yesterday, I read a sad article in The Washington Post about how people have lost family members to QAnon. It began with a compelling description about how 24 year old Tyler watched as his mom stocked up for an imagined armageddon. She brought home ammunition, a water purifier, camping gear, and shelf stable food. She started wearing a holstered pistol just walking around her house, believing that there would be days of power outages and civil unrest.

Tyler’s mom told him that on March 4, 2021, there would be massive chaos. That would be when Donald Trump would return to power. March 4, for your edification, is the original Inauguration Day prior to the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1932.

Tyler had been living with his mother since he graduated college in 2019. They were located about an hour north of Minneapolis. As the 2020 elections approached, Tyler watched as his mom became more and more entrenched in baseless conspiracy theories and outright lies. Based on the WaPo’s article, I can assume that she turned into someone he no longer knew. Complicating matters was the presence of Tyler’s stepfather, who is apparently just as entrenched in QAnon.

The confusion in the household and worry Tyler experienced prompted him to seek help online. Last month, Tyler found the Reddit group, QAnonCasualties, which was founded by people who had watched their families fracture over the political climate in the United States. He explained to the moderators of the group that his mother and stepfather have a lot of weapons and are convinced that World War III is about to commence.

Making matters worse is the fact that Tyler hasn’t been working. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a mild form of autism, Tyler had graduated from a local university with a degree in manufacturing engineering. He quit his job in early January because he hoped to find work that would make use of his newly minted degree. As of yet, he hasn’t found new work. As Inauguration Day approached, he watched his mom grow ever more unhinged.

An old friend had stopped by with a wedding present, since Tyler’s mom had just remarried. Noticing the pistol, the friend asked Tyler’s mom if she planned to shoot anyone that day. And Tyler’s mom reportedly replied, “You never know what’s going to happen with the Democrats. They stole the election.” The friend told WaPo reporters that Tyler’s mom had once been a “wonderful” person who had invited her over for tea and gone kayaking with her. But now, it seems she’s gone completely off the deep end. According to the article:

To protect his family’s anonymity, The Washington Post is only using Tyler’s first name. In an email, his mother blamed her son for the tension in the house, writing that he was disrespectful and refused to look for work after leaving his job earlier this year. She added that she “never even heard of Qanon until very recently” and doesn’t “follow it,” but declined to discuss why she had begun purchasing survival gear and whether she believed Trump would return to the White House in March. “My beliefs about Trump are actually none of your business,” she wrote.

Tyler said he and his mother discussed QAnon one time; a bizarre conversation in which his mother insisted that QAnon prophecies were the product of artificial intelligence. He described an atmosphere of growing conspiracy and fear that pervaded his home. “It started a month before the election,” Tyler said in an interview, “and it kept growing until it felt like she was preaching the Bible to me.”

At first she insisted that Trump, not Biden, would be inaugurated on Jan. 20, and for a while Tyler held out hope that Biden’s swearing-in would jolt his mother back into reality. She would put away her gun and life would return to normal. But, the ceremony in Washington seemed to make little difference at his house in Minnesota.

Tyler truly hoped his mom would be more normal once Biden was inaugurated. He even posted online that she had seemed more “normal” on January 21st. But very soon, she went back to her old ways, insisting that Trump would be back in the White House. So Tyler decided to confront his mom, and that confrontation ultimately led to his being ejected from her home. She even threatened to have her new husband “hurt” Tyler.

Which brings me to the title of today’s post… up until this point, it sounds like Tyler’s family fell apart due to QAnon. But he found help from his other parent– his biological father and stepmother. Tyler had lost contact with his dad when he was a child and they had only recently reconnected. And Tyler’s dad and stepmother were willing to take him in, once Tyler’s unhinged mom tossed him and his belongings out of her house. On February 3, 2021, Tyler texted his stepmother, Heather, and told her that he’d confronted his mom, telling her that he didn’t believe in QAnon or any of his mom’s whackadoodle theories.

Half an hour later, Heather picked up Tyler, who was waiting in the front yard. When he got into Heather’s car, Tyler started to cry. Tyler is now sleeping in his 7 year old half sister’s bedroom. She sleeps in her parents’ room. Not long after the confrontation with Tyler’s mom, Tyler was contacted by his new stepfather, who wrote “When your daddy gets sick of you living there (and he will) don’t bother calling us.”

Those of you who regularly follow my blog might already know that my husband lost contact with his daughters after he and his ex wife divorced. A few years ago, one of Bill’s daughters finally reconnected with him. The other one remains estranged, and is apparently hopelessly entrenched in her mother’s sick, culty world. Last year, just before COVID-19 shut everything down, Bill visited his younger daughter for the first time since Christmas 2004. When she opened the door, Bill said the two of them stood there and shared a long overdue hug. And then they spent the whole two days of Bill’s visit debriefing each other about the events of the fifteen years they had spent apart.

I don’t know anything about Tyler’s mom, but although Tyler’s mom’s friend describes her as a “wonderful” person, I have a feeling that she’s another one of those people who hates her exes more than she loves her children. I come to that conclusion, not just because she fell into the QAnon cult, but because of a comment Tyler made to his stepmother. When he texted Heather that his mom had threatened to have his new stepfather “hurt” him, he also explained that he wasn’t actually worried about his safety. He wrote, “I’ve been dealing with this for years. It’s normal for me.

When Bill and his daughter met last year, Bill heard in more detail what it was like to grow up with Ex. There were many threats and promises made. There was a lot of “culty” thinking, not just in terms of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which Ex had insisted on joining a few years before she and Bill split, but also in terms of her own mini narcissistic cult. The girls were forced to write Bill letters disowning him and demanding that he allow their stepfather, Ex’s third husband, to adopt them. Ex had reportedly stood over them and made them write the letters, which she sent Bill just in time for his 42nd birthday.

Something tells me that Tyler’s current stepfather is not his first, since he wrote to Heather that this was not a new thing. Tyler’s mom evidently has a history of coming unglued, and probably sees Tyler as an extension of herself. And when Tyler didn’t want to fall in with her QAnon fantasy, she cast him out… the same way Ex does to anyone who won’t play along with her fantasies. I don’t know enough about Tyler’s mom to say I think she’s a narcissist, but my guess is that she has a “high conflict personality”. And as Bill and I have observed with his ex wife, who also has a high conflict personality, these types of people often get sucked into things as they blame everyone else for their issues. With Ex, it was everything from multi-level marketing scams to the LDS church. Granted, the Mormons didn’t turn out to be all bad. They did help Bill’s daughter escape her mother. But the church doesn’t give things without strings attached.

Younger daughter no doubt feels indebted to the church, and believe me, it’s not unlike the leadership to capitalize on that human need for reciprocity— that is, feeling obligated to reciprocate “kind actions”. There’s nothing wrong with that on its surface. Sometimes, however, “reciprocity” can be abused, and people wind up trapped by the need to pay back a solid, even long after the “emotional debt” has been repaid. This is how groups get control over people and stop them from living their own lives and thinking for themselves. Pretty soon, the lovebombing that occurs at the beginning of the relationship can turn into something sinister and toxic.

I have long believed that my husband’s ex wife runs her life like a mini cult. Anyone in her sphere has to accept whatever her conditions are, no matter how nutty or destructive they are. She’s allowed to do anything she wants, even if it’s criminal, because she had a shitty childhood and no one recognized how “special” she is. She’s allowed to abuse her husbands and her children because she was abused, and she’s allowed to take that abuse as far as she wants with no repercussions, whatsoever. Meanwhile, those of us who have been affected by her behavior and dare to speak out about it get raked over the coals and smeared. She went as far as to alienate Bill’s children, but she also did her best to try to destroy his relationships with his own parents!

Like Tyler, Ex has at least a couple of children who are on the autism spectrum, which makes them more vulnerable to her toxicity. Bill’s older daughter supposedly has Asperger’s Syndrome, and younger daughter has said that Ex’s youngest child, a fourteen year old son, is non-verbal due to autism. Bill’s older daughter, who will turn 30 this summer, still lives with Ex and has supposedly devoted her life to caring for her brother, who will likely never be able to live on his own. Meanwhile, whenever Ex gets pissed off at older daughter, she threatens to throw her out of the house, even though older daughter does the heavy lifting involved with caring for Ex’s son. Sounds a lot like what Tyler went through with his mom.

Incidentally, Tyler went back to his mom’s house about a week after he moved out to pick up his stuff. All of his belongings were thrown out on the front lawn, where they soon became covered with snow. He still hopes that his mother’s Trump fervor will fade and he will eventually be able to reconcile with her. He said, “I just don’t see the humanity in this. I wanted my family back, not this hatred.”

For Tyler’s sake, I truly hope he can reconnect with his mom. I hope she is, deep down, a reasonable and decent person who can grow up and wise up, and see what she stands to lose by continuing to submit to the QAnon bullshit. I don’t know what made her fall down the rabbit hole, but it would not surprise me if Tyler’s mom had some trauma in her life that somehow made her feel ostracized and persecuted. And the siren call of QAnon, which is full of butthurt delusional people must have been much too hard to resist– so hard that she’s willing to kick her own son out of her life.

It’s not that I don’t empathize with the abused. I have no doubt in my mind that my husband’s ex wife was severely abused by many people when she was a child. I can understand why she’s so traumatized. What I can’t abide is her habit of throwing away family members and forcing her children and husbands to disconnect with those of whom she doesn’t approve. It’s possible, or even probable, that Tyler’s new stepfather is partly to blame for Tyler’s mother’s actions. However, reading that he has only now reconnected with his father and his father and stepmother, who have apparently been together long enough to have a seven year old daughter, have welcomed him into their home, gives me a feeling that Tyler’s mom has some serious issues. And those issues, like Ex’s, make her vulnerable to falling into cults from which they never escape.

Sadly, more often than not, the best thing to do in such a situation is go no contact and cut all ties. I don’t think younger daughter has gone completely no contact yet, but she has definitely come out of the F.O.G. since she moved away from Ex. As hard as that is, and as sad as it initially was, in the long run, it’s the only way to find peace, autonomy, and freedom from chaos and drama.

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celebrities, obits, politics, racism

Rush Limbaugh is finally dead… shit makes the flowers grow.

A few months ago, my husband lost a “friend” over his “hatred” for Rush Limbaugh. I put quotes around the words “friend” and “hatred”, because I’m being facetious. Anyone who knows Bill knows that he doesn’t hate anyone. He doesn’t even hate his ex wife, who probably deserves his hatred more than anyone on the planet. The point is, my husband isn’t a hater. But he never liked Rush Limbaugh. Neither did I.

Last night, we found out that Rush finally kicked the bucket at age 70. He’d been suffering from lung cancer, having announced his illness in February 2020.

Back in October 2020, Bill was labeled a hater by a former friend because he had noticed that the very organ that had allowed Rush Limbaugh to spread hatred and bigotry toward large groups of marginalized people was also going to be the death of him. Bill had posted his thoughts about Rush’s illness on his Facebook timeline, and some of his friends went freakin’ nuts. One even accused him of being a “bad person” for stating this:

I know what I’m about to say is the result of unskilled thinking, but this appears to be an example of Karmic Justice. The organ used to spew years of hate, vitriol, and self-centeredness will be his undoing.

We weren’t rejoicing in Rush’s illness in October, and we’re not rejoicing in his death now. I don’t generally celebrate when people die, even people I think of as highly contemptible, and worthy of disdain or even outright hatred. I think Rush Limbaugh qualifies as someone who, in life, was highly contemptible. And while I’m not particularly happy that he’s dead, I am relieved that he won’t be spreading his toxic negativity, ignorance, and bigotry anymore. He won’t be saying or writing hurtful things to or about people who aren’t like him and don’t share his opinions.

In the aftermath of Rush’s death, we’ve also seen yet another falsely attributed quote arise from the dead. If you’ve been on Facebook lately, you’ve probably seen people sharing this meme.

According to The Atlantic, Mark Twain NEVER SAID THIS.

I know a lot of people like to share these kinds of cute and clever memes, and many people don’t actually care who said it. I care, though, because I like to give credit where credit is due, and I don’t like false attributions. So where did this quote come from? According to the article from The Atlantic I linked above, no one important actually said or wrote it in that precise manner. Alex Eichler, the person who wrote the article for The Atlantic, writes:

Matt Blum at Wired has the fact-check: the quotation actually comes from Clarence Darrow, the lawyer of Scopes Trial fame. Here’s a fuller version of the quote, which appears in Darrow’s 1932 work The Story of My Life:

All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.

Clarence Darrow

I know some people are glad Rush is gone. Some are actually jubilant about it. And I would never tell them they don’t have the right to feel whatever it is they feel. I’m not in a group that Rush openly mocked, unless you want to call me a liberal. I’m not actually that liberal, but I don’t like the way the Republican party has gone in recent years. I think their embrace of both evangelical Christians and Donald Trump is confusing and wrong. And Republicans often say regrettable, heartless things to people who are in trouble and need help.

Case in point. Yesterday, I read about former Colorado City, Texas mayor Tim Boyd, who basically went off on his constituents for begging the government for help. Texas, as you probably know, is in serious trouble right now, thanks to a terrible winter storm that has disrupted the power grid. People are suffering because of power outages. Some people are even dying! They’re either freezing to death, or poisoning themselves with carbon monoxide by doing things like running their cars in closed garages or using barbecue grills indoors to generate heat. But Mr. Boyd, proud Texan conservative he is, had this to say in a poorly written and now deleted Facebook post:

Typical Republican ASSHOLE!

And then he continued with this:

To be clear, I don’t agree with issuing death threats or even so-called “cancel culture”, but what the hell reaction does Tim Boyd expect? He was an elected official and it was his JOB to help his constituents and show some fucking compassion!

I’ll bet Tim Boyd is sad that Rush is dead. I’ll bet Boyd was a Limbaugh fan. I don’t know for certain that he was, but what he posted is the same kind of hateful, mean-spirited shit that Rush Limbaugh was spewing for YEARS on the airwaves. And ignorant, compassion challenged people who are deeply saddened that the raucous voice of their belief system has died don’t seem to understand that Rush hurt a lot of people with his snarky, hateful rhetoric.

This has been a very difficult year for so many people– from the deaths and illnesses caused by the pandemic, to the many natural disasters, to the massive job losses, and complete upending of of normal life for everyone. It’s really sucked on many levels. And so, when an elected official like Tim Boyd mocks and lectures people for their valid complaints, it stings a bit. Rush Limbaugh was of the same ilk, and people like Tim Boyd looked up to him. He had no compunction about saying awful things to and about anyone, especially people who have historically suffered and been marginalized by privileged people.

Seriously…

Let me remind Rush’s supporters of a few things. Rush Limbaugh mocked Michael J. Fox for having Parkinson’s Disease and accused him of exaggerating his symptoms. Rush Limbaugh called women “sluts”, and referred to Barack Obama as the “magic negro”. And he wouldn’t have thought much of me, either…

Bwahahaha… maybe he wouldn’t have thought of me as “overeducated”. But I don’t think that Rush was a very good judge of intelligence.

Anyway… I’m not glad Rush is dead. I don’t care enough about him to rejoice in his death. Besides, everybody has to die sometime. It was simply his time to go. I’m not going to celebrate his death. But I’m also not going to shame or blame anyone who is glad to see him gone. I figure they have their reasons, and many of those reasons, while perhaps hypocritical, are understandable. We all have our own karma to tend.

Bye now.. enjoy the next life..

In other news, our heating went out last night. It’s not as bad here as it is in Texas, but I am a bit chilled. Hopefully, the landlord will have it fixed soon, so my hands, feet, and nose won’t be so cold. And Bill has to go away for three weeks next Saturday. Hopefully, he won’t bring any COVID-19 viruses back with him. Otherwise, people might be cheering about my death.

So long, Rush… You served a purpose and now your work is done. And, as Folk Uke reminds us, even shit has a purpose.

“You’re not good for nothin’…”
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