complaints, condescending twatbags, poor judgment, rants, Trump

Tennessee school board bans book on Holocaust due to “objectionable language”… now the book is on backorder!

Have you ever heard of the “Streisand effect”? It’s a phenomenon named after the famous singer, Barbra Streisand, whose last name, I notice, is not counted as misspelled as I type it in the editor. I guess she’s arrived, since the dictionary recognizes her name as an actual word!

Anyway, the story goes that back in 2003, Barbra Streisand got good and pissed at the California Coastal Records Project’s decision to photograph her residence in Malibu, California as they were documenting the effects of coastal erosion The photos were intended to influence government policy makers. Streisand was apparently more concerned about her privacy, than the environment. She attempted to suppress the photograph of her estate via legal means, suing photographer Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia for violation of privacy. Before she filed her $50 million lawsuit, meant to get the aerial photo removed from the collection of 12,000 photos of the California coastline, the photo of her mansion had only been downloaded six times. Two of six downloads were by Streisand’s own lawyers.

Word got out about Streisand’s attempts to quash the photo, and over the course of the month following news of the lawsuit, over 420,000 people visited the site where it was posted, and downloaded the picture of Streisand’s coastline property. Instead of managing to suppress the image, the public became much more interested in the photo than they would have if Streisand would have just STFU about it.

That amusing end result of Striesand’s privacy case caused a writer named Mike Malsnick to coin the term, “Streisand effect”, back in 2005, when another notorious photo made the news and became much more popular than it otherwise would have. In that case, the owners of a holiday resort objected to a picture taken of a urinal at their resort, which was uploaded to a site called urinal.net. They sued, and the urinal pic became a lot more noticeable. Malsnick wrote:

“How long is it going to take before lawyers realize that the simple act of trying to repress something they don’t like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see (like a photo of a urinal in some random beach resort) is now seen by many more people? Let’s call it the Streisand Effect.”

The phenomenon of controversial or “objectionable” things growing in popularity or notoriety after someone has tried to repress or quash them, is now known as the “Streisand effect”. And now, we’re seeing the Streisand effect at work again, thanks to some extremely conservative and misguided school board members in McMinn County, Tennessee, who are in the news because they banned a Pulitzer prize winning comic novel from their school’s 8th grade curriculum. I don’t think their school board vote actually went the way they intended it to go. Now, the Streisand effect is in full force, once again.

Put it this way. Much to my shame, twenty four hours ago, I had never heard of author, Art Spiegelman, nor did I know anything about his much acclaimed 1996 comic novel Maus. As of this morning, not only have I heard of the book, but I have just purchased a copy of it, and it’s now on the way to my house. I will have to wait a short while, because probably thanks to the recent controversy surrounding the McMinn County school board’s decision to ban Maus, there’s been a run on copies of Maus, even in Germany. This means that I am not the only one who felt moved– disgusted– downright pissed off enough about this news to buy the book. I have a feeling Mr. Spiegelman and his publisher will be enjoying the Streisand effect, as people rebel against censorship by purchasing, borrowing, and reading Maus.

I feel really good about buying this book. I am always interested in learning more about the Holocaust, especially since it was not an event that was extensively covered when I went to public school in Virginia, back in the 80s. I have learned a lot about the Holocaust on my own, having read a lot of true stories about it and watched many videos made by survivors and their descendants about that very dark period in world history. I don’t usually read a lot of novels anymore, mainly because I prefer non-fiction. However, as a former English major, I know that novels can and do have their place in teaching people about the human condition. This is a graphic novel, so that means there are comic illustrations, which I know Bill will appreciate. I probably will, too, although I am not as much into art as he is. Spiegelman has used cats to depict Germans and mice to depict Jews during the Holocaust, which I think is a very intriguing concept.

But even if it turns out I don’t learn from or enjoy reading Maus, I still feel fine about buying it, because seriously, fuck that school board in McMinn County. Below is the passage from the news article I linked that made me say to Bill, “That does it. I’m buying a copy of the book!”

As reported by The Tennessee Holler and The Guardian, the McMinn County School board voted 10-0 to ban Maus from all of its schools, citing the book’s inclusion of words like “God damn” and “naked pictures” of women. Apparently, the school board discussed the possibility of simply redacting words and images it found inappropriate, though ultimately opted to ban the book outright. When reached for comment by The Tennessee Holler, the board claimed that the book being about the Holocaust had nothing to do with why it was banned.

“Why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff, it is not wise or healthy… I am not denying it was horrible, brutal and cruel,” one board member said. “It’s like when you’re watching TV and a cuss word or nude scene comes on it would be the same movie without it. Well, this would be the same book without it… If I had a child in the eighth grade, this ain’t happening. If I had to move him out and homeschool him or put him somewhere else, this is not happening.”

I am so sick of these types of small-town, power-wielding, world-perspective limited people, who feel like they need to censor or ban things for everyone, because they are personally “offended” by language or nudity or things they consider “gross”, “inappropriate”, or “pornographic”. Especially when it turns out that the things they wish to ban aren’t actually any of those things, but instead offer real opportunities for education and enlightenment. Instead of trying to understand the “objectionable” viewpoint or perspective, they opt to just ban it and label it indecent or offensive.

Regular readers of my blog may recall that last month, I got good and fired up when popular YouTuber Mama Doctor Jones got mentioned in an Alaska school board meeting because a progressive educator linked to some of her videos as a means of teaching youngsters about sex. People in that meeting were equating Mama Doctor Jones’ very informative and scientifically based videos to porn! It was outrageous and offensive to me, and if I were a parent in that school district, I would be raising all kinds of hell about it locally, instead of just on my blog.

What really puzzles me is that these folks in Tennessee and Alaska, so outraged by books like Maus, which is a comic representation of Art Spiegelman’s father’s experiences in the Holocaust, or videos by actual board certified OB-GYN Mama Doctor Jones, are NOT AT ALL OFFENDED by Donald Trump’s disgusting treatment of women, minorities, employees, or anyone else who can’t do anything for him. Seriously, y’all… their hero, Donald Trump, had no trouble whatsoever offending the world with his narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, lying bullshit. Where was their outrage when they heard about Donald Trump grabbing women by the pussy?

The conservatives in Alaska and Tennessee who are clutching their pearls over words like “God damn”, nude illustrations, and frank and fact based discussion about sex, pregnancy, birth control, and abortion, don’t care at all that their orange, tiny-handed, hero would happily grab the younger and prettier women in their midst “by the pussy” if he felt like it, because he’s a “star”. Below is an actual transcript of what former President Donald Trump said in 2005 about a beautiful married woman he once pursued:

Donald J. Trump: You know and …

Unknown: She used to be great. She’s still very beautiful.

Trump: I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.

Unknown: Whoa.

Trump: I did try and fuck her. She was married.

Unknown: That’s huge news.

Trump: No, no, Nancy. No, this was [unintelligible] — and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.

She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture —

I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

Billy Bush: Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple.

Trump: Whoa! Whoa!

Bush: Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man!

[Crosstalk]

Trump: Look at you, you are a pussy.

[Crosstalk]

Trump: All right, you and I will walk out.

[Silence]

Trump: Maybe it’s a different one.

Bush: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s, it’s her, it’s —

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Am I really to believe that Maus is more offensive and inappropriate than Trump is? Am I to believe that thirteen year olds, who have already heard all of the bad words from their own former president, no less, and are now at an age at which they can reproduce, should be “protected” from Mama Doctor Jones’ content because some claim it’s akin to “porn”, or Art Spiegelman’s brilliant book about one of the worst tragedies in human history, because of nudity and words like “God damn”? Um… I’ve got a news flash for these people. Censorship does not prevent people from being exposed to objectionable content.

Look at Josh Duggar. He grew up in a famously conservative family that was chronicled on reality TV. His parents were held up as paragons. They claimed to be very strict about keeping their children from objectionable content in television, books, music, and yes, the Internet. Need I remind everyone where Josh Duggar is right now and why he’s there?

Seriously…

I’m not trying to imply that Josh Duggar wouldn’t be a sex offender if his parents hadn’t been so controlling. He might just be wired that way. What I am saying is that banning “objectionable content” tends to make it forbidden fruit– more attractive to the masses. Perverts are gonna perv. I think it’s better for parents and educators to be open-minded and provide constructive and supportive guidance to their children when they are presented with challenging or potentially offensive material, rather than just quashing it. And that goes for both sides of the spectrum. I don’t like the “cancel culture” so often embraced by left wingers, either.

Censorship doesn’t work. Throughout history, people who have championed book banning are not remembered as the “good guys” who truly have everyone’s best interests at heart. The timing of this decision is especially offensive, as yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I expect to have Maus in my hot little hands next month. I look forward to reading it for myself and sharing my thoughts about it. I’m glad that, at least for the time being, I still have the right to make that decision for myself. And I am heartened by people like Wil Wheaton, who have pledged to make this book available to people in McMinn County by buying a couple of copies and asking the book store owners to give them freely to people who ask for them. It was Wil Wheaton’s thoughtful post on this situation that got me to learn more about it this morning.

Many thanks to Wil Wheaton for being one of the “good guys”.

So cheers to the Streisand effect. I hope Art Spiegelman enjoys the unintended consequences of small-minded people serving on the school board in Tennessee. Like Wil Wheaton, I get pissed off by “authoritarian bullshit”. I try to fight the power whenever I can. I hope many other people will join me. I’ll help by providing an Amazon link to Spiegelman’s masterpiece, Maus. If you purchase through the link on my page, I will get a small commission from Amazon. That would be nice for me, but even if you just want to check it out of the library, I would highly recommend doing that. Fuck the powers that be!

A little mood music for this post.

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condescending twatbags, law, politicians, politics, poor judgment, stupid people, Trump, YouTube

Jenna Ryan’s positive thoughts about her upcoming prison lifestyle…

Josh Duggar is not the only one staring down a prison sentence after the new year. Come January, Texas real estate broker, Jenna Ryan, will also be headed for a stint in the jug. Last night, I read a story about how she’s trying to think positive thoughts about spending time locked up for her part in last year’s attempted insurrection. She even took to TikTok, dressed in leggings and a sports bra, to talk about what she hopes to accomplish during her planned sixty day stay at a federal prison.

I was astonished to see Jenna step on a scale, revealing to the world how much she weighs. She says that while she’s locked up, she plans to lose weight. She figures the food will suck, and she says she won’t be able to drink alcohol or eat snacks. Because the food will be terrible and Jenna figures she’ll have nothing but time for exercise, she thinks she can lose up to thirty pounds during her sixty day stint.

I’ve got to hand it to Jenna Ryan. She’s definitely got some moxie. And there’s something to be said for trying to maintain a positive outlook. There’s nothing she can do about her upcoming prison stint. She’s going to have to report and do her time. Then, when it’s over, she has the rest of her life to live. So kudos to Jenna for realizing that. But… I am still very surprised that Jenna Ryan thought she could do what she did last January and get away with it. And she’s still putting herself out there, showing everyone her naked and extreme self-regard and lack of a clue. In fact, she’s pretty much almost naked in her video. The arrogance and lack of insight she shows is incredible.

@dotjenna

Keep Positive- Prison Fit Check #jennaryan

♬ original sound – Jenna Ryan

I must say, Jenna Ryan’s nerve astounds me. Ever since I first became aware of her last January, I’ve been repeatedly surprised by the things she says and does. She doesn’t seem to have any shame. I guess that’s a good quality in someone who sells houses for a living. But it also makes me think that she’s not a very honest person, nor is she particularly decent. I sure wouldn’t want to do business with her, especially since she doesn’t seem to understand just how serious this situation is. I hope, for her sake, she gets a clue. Not that I’m hoping for it, but I suspect that if she doesn’t wise up, someone might want to beat the crap out of her while she’s locked up.

I would imagine Jenna Ryan is the type of person who has no consideration for anyone but herself. Jenna probably has a lot in common with the very first roommate I had when I was in college, who would go out partying with the girl across the hall and come in at 3:00 in the morning and turn on the overhead light. She didn’t care that I was sleeping and had an early class the next morning. She was only concerned about herself. She rather ruthlessly forced me out of the room during our first week of school, even though it was as much my room as it was hers. She didn’t care. She had no shame.

Likewise, Jenna Ryan didn’t care that Donald Trump didn’t win the election. She wanted to force the rest of the nation to continue to endure him, even though Trump lost. HE fucking LOST. And he totally deserved to lose. Many of us were DELIGHTED and extremely relieved that Trump lost. Jenna didn’t care that a lot of voters were happy to see Trump leave office. She showed up in DC, trying to thwart the political process that would enable Joe Biden to take his rightful place in the White House. It didn’t matter to Jenna that Donald Trump is an obviously terrible person. Apparently, what the rest of us want didn’t matter to Jenna and her fellow insurrectionists. While Trump supporters told us to “get over it” when Trump won the White House, Jenna Ryan and her ilk weren’t able to take their own advice last winter.

I remember last January, thousands of people converged on the Capitol building in Washington, DC, hoping to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Jenna Ryan was there, dressed in a souvenir hat and scarf, sipping white wine, and screaming “we are armed and dangerous!” She was caught on video, advertising her real estate business, announcing that she needed to go to the bathroom, and very proudly screaming “We are not going to be quiet! We’re fucking pissed!” She later tweeted, “We just stormed the [Capitol]. It was one of the best days of my life.” Yep… and it was also the day that has led Jenna to her current predicament.

Mmm’kay… so you were pissed, Jenna, and apparently, you also needed to take a piss. Where did screaming about being “pissed” in Washington, DC while also needing to take a piss get you? Remember how you bragged about flying in a private plane with a cute guy? Remember how you posed for pictures and starred in videos as thousands of Americans, emboldened by Donald Trump, tried to derail the government? Remember how you, and thousands of other crazed Trump supporters, tried to usurp the will of the people? And then you had the nerve to ask Trump to pardon you for your part in endangering the lives of lawmakers, police officers, and everyone else who was tasked with seeing that the U.S. election results were certified? Quite predictably, Trump didn’t do shit for you, just like he doesn’t do shit for anyone but himself. Was supporting Trump worth spending time locked up in prison? We shall see at the end of your time in the joint.

My guess is that Jenna Ryan is going to be hearing a lot of screaming and cursing in prison, too. And she correctly points out that prison food is notoriously horrible, although former prisoner Jessica Kent has pointed out in her many YouTube videos about prison that some items aren’t too bad. My guess is that Jenna Ryan is probably going to lose her resolve to subsist on prison chow. She’s gonna want some commissary, and from what I’ve seen, a lot of the food that is available from prison commissaries consists of junk food. Yeah, she’ll be denied booze, although some prisoners have figured out ways to make hooch (aka Pruno). If Jenna is smart, she’ll stay far away from Pruno. Not only is partaking of it likely to get her punished, it’s also reportedly pretty disgusting stuff.

Maybe Jenna will have the opportunity to take a class. Maybe she will learn a new life skill. Jenna says she looks forward to “working out”, “doing yoga and cardio”, “reading books”, and “detoxing”. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, I guess. It’s not a bad thing to try to live a healthy lifestyle. But prison is an inherently unhealthy place to be. Even if she manages to stay out of trouble, eat less junk food, and stop drinking, the stress of being there won’t be easy. And while she says she’s worried about the quality of the food, she says she hopes there will be protein shakes and protein bars available. Um… what does she think prison is? A spa?

Most prisons aim to feed people as cheaply as possible. That means a lot of carbs will be offered– they’re cheap and filling. Also, carbs help keep people more compliant and docile. I don’t know if the commissaries in federal prisons offer protein bars and shakes, but it’s my guess her choices will be limited. Jenna Ryan ought to approve of that. She is a Republican, after all, and Republicans aren’t usually in favor of treating prisoners like human beings with needs. A lot of Republicans are fond of saying, “You do the crime; you do the time.” and it doesn’t matter to them that prisoners have to deal with inhumane treatment, bad food, unpleasant accommodations, and disrespect. A lot of people who viewed Jenna’s video were laughing at her. Some were clearly disgusted at her lack of humility. I noticed at least one person declared that Jenna was showing off her “white privilege”.

A few days after she posted her controversial TikTok video, Jenna was back with another video. This time, she tried to clarify her position, reminding everyone that her charge is a misdemeanor, not a felony, and when she gets out, she can go back to work. She says she has a “beautiful life” awaiting her after she goes through “hell” temporarily. Nice attitude, and I guess, technically, she’s not wrong… she can come out of prison and enjoy the rest of her life. But I think she may be underestimating the potential effects of prison and her notoriety. She certainly doesn’t seem to be taking it very seriously, at least at this point.

@dotjenna

Prison Sucks

♬ original sound – Jenna Ryan

I think I would be a lot more impressed with Jenna Ryan’s positive attitude if she seemed genuinely contrite about what she did and realized how very wrong she was to participate in the “festivities” of January 6th, 2021. She absolutely deserves to go to prison. No, I don’t think she needs to spend years there, nor do I wish any violence on her while she’s there, but I do think a taste of life in the big house will do her some good. I do hope she learns from it, comes out healthier, and lives a better life within the confines of the law.

MOVING ON…

On a somewhat related topic, yesterday Bill and I watched Fundie Fridays’ latest video, which happened to be hosted by James– boyfriend of usual host, Jen. James says he’s going to resign from his job so he can help Jen create YouTube content. It amazes me how many people make money on YouTube– so much so that they can quit their jobs and make videos for a living. I have a YouTube channel myself, but it’s not a popular channel. I use it to make music– try songs written by other people that I want to see if I can do, and to make travel videos for my travel blog. I don’t have a lot of subscribers, and most of my videos have copyright claims, so I don’t make money from YouTube at all. And, after seeing some of the ridiculous dramas people get into on YouTube, I don’t think I’d want to make it my job. However, I do enjoy several channels, as well as some of the truly talented personalities who share their stuff on YouTube.

Anyway… Fundie Fridays’ latest video is about Marjorie Taylor Greene, the repugnant Republican from Georgia who is so proud of being a Trumper and carries big guns, which she poses with in her ads. I seriously cannot stand this woman. It pisses me off that she prances around with large weapons and tries to ram her reprehensible politics down everyone’s throats. She has no shame. She and Jenna Ryan, as well as Lauren Boebert, are all clueless twits who are helping to lead America down a very dark and undemocratic path.

I cursed a lot while watching this video. James sure has pretty eyes and teeth, though. He’s prettier than Marjorie is, that’s for sure.

I get being conservative. I understand wanting to be a Republican and voting for Republican candidates. But why not show some fucking class? Why harass victims of school shootings? Why champion Donald Trump, who has openly expressed his disdain for anyone who can’t do anything for him? Where are these women’s brains? Why do they only care about money, prestige, gun rights, and fame, instead of the people they are supposed to serve? I’m so tired of these unhinged people making names for themselves by being insufferable assholes who inflict their obnoxious behavior on the rest of us.

Meh… well, it’s another Monday, and I’ve got other shit to do, to include picking up the dog shit that is no doubt waiting for me in the backyard. So I guess I’ll close today’s post and get on with the day. I hope everyone has a productive Monday, and stays off of TikTok and out of jail.

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bad TV, obits, religion, Trump

Another one bites the dust…

Yet another song from my childhood that has great relevance today… It will always remind me of roller skating, though.

This morning, Bill is working from home. He got a Moderna booster shot yesterday afternoon. By the evening, he had chills and was feeling kind of rotten. By 4:00am, he had a headache and a fever. Today, he’s a bit tired, but the fever is down. Since he and a bunch of his colleagues got their boosters this week, a lot of them are teleworking. I expect I’ll be boosted soon, since today marks six months since I got my last shot. I don’t look forward to feeling rotten, although I didn’t feel terrible after the initial vaccines. Maybe I’ll get lucky and not have a bad reaction.

Some people still aren’t on the vaccination bandwagon. Some people still think COVID-19 is a hoax– some kind of world domination scheme intended to enslave the population. Well… I think that thinking is a special kind of stupid. But some people are stubborn and they have to learn the hard way. Enter Marcus Lamb, the latest Christian “media mogul” who has “gone home to be with the Lord”. Yep… Mr. Lamb, who was 64 years old, was a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist and vaccine skeptic. And now, he has no more worries about his health. In fact, he HAS NO HEALTH anymore. He’s DEAD. Another one bites the dust!

Marcus Lamb was a founder of Daystar, the second largest Christian television network in the world. From the beginning of the pandemic, Lamb and his cronies focused heavily on the virus, calling it a “satanic attack” and denouncing vaccines. Daystar reaches 2 billion people worldwide, and according to Michelle Boorstein, a reporter with the Washington Post, appeals to the masses with “a fluid, modern, charismatic faith, more about general good vs. evil, miraculous healings and religious freedom than any specific denominational theology.”

Earlier in the pandemic, Lamb invited many vaccine skeptics to promote their conspiracy theories on his network. They hosted daily interviews with these pro-religion/anti-science folks, during which they discussed how vaccines were being pushed by “hidden satanic forces” and “stealing Christians’ freedoms”. I just want to ask Lamb and his buddies– what the hell good is “freedom” if you’re dead?

Now, in fairness to Marcus Lamb, he did reportedly suffer from diabetes. Diabetes can worsen COVID infection. Lamb also had other risk factors that were likely to make his illness more severe. Mr. Lamb was over 60 and male. And it’s obvious that he was hanging out with other people and ignoring safety protocols. I would be very surprised if anyone working at Daystar was taking precautions against contracting COVID-19. Clearly, they had the “answers”, right? Maybe not, since according to Lamb’s wife, Joni, Marcus Lamb got “COVID pneumonia”, which helped lead him to his untimely death.

In a Facebook Live video, Joni explains why and how Marcus Lamb died. Apparently, his heart gave out while he was in the hospital, receiving oxygen. Joni explains:

“We were trying to treat the covid and pneumonia with the different protocols we use, including the ones we talk about on Daystar,” she said on the show. “We used those — I myself used them and had breezed through covid.”

His blood sugar spiked and he needed oxygen, she said. “He 100 percent believed in everything we talk about here on Daystar, things that help so many people around the world with early protocol treatments for covid,” she said. “We still stand by those, obviously.”

I watched some of the people on the above Facebook Live video who spoke about Marcus Lamb. They all appeared to be genuinely grief stricken that he’s dead. And maybe they take comfort in the belief that Lamb will be a lamb of God, up in Heaven with all of the other Christian wingnuts who have been promoting anti-vaxxer and government conspiracy bullshit. I just don’t know what it will take to convince people that this is not a joke. COVID-19 is killing people, and while faith and hope is all well and good, God gave us science for a reason. Obviously Lamb was a believer in medicine, since he went to the hospital for care. So why wasn’t he a believer in vaccines?

What really disturbs me about the case of Marcus Lamb and the other so-called Christian media moguls who have gotten sick with COVID-19 and died, is that there are so many people who watch and listen to what they say and do. Many lonely, sick, or elderly people who are isolated watch programs on Daystar or similar networks. And they are influenced by these people who give them hope, or at least a narrative that they agree with and can use to bolster their false beliefs against science.

According to the Washington Post article I linked, “White evangelical Christians resist coronavirus vaccines at higher rates than other religious groups in the United States, a phenomenon experts say is bound up in politics, skepticism about government and the consumption of alternative media and unfounded conspiracy claims about vaccine dangers.” When I think about the kinds of people who watch Daystar and its ilk, I think Daystar was giving evangelical Christians exactly what they wanted. And they were doing it, not because it’s the best thing for their followers, but because it brought in more money and power.

Not surprisingly, Lamb was a Trump supporter. Last year, Lamb appeared in a photo with Trump, at an “Evangelicals for Trump” rally. Honestly, anyone who calls themselves God fearing Christians, but support Donald Trump– who is about as un-Christlike as a person can get– has missed the point entirely. I mean, supporting Trump and being “Christian” is kind of contradictory behavior, isn’t it? And yet, a lot of people are doing it, and ignoring the facts. I don’t understand and can’t abide it, but hey, at least it’s obviously hastening their chances to find out if Heaven is real.

I am not a big fan of televangelists. At most, I am kind of fascinated by their nerve. So many so-called religious leaders are really more interested in power and money than they are promoting God. As I wrote yesterday, organized religion has ruined many people, and many families. So many people have killed or died over religion. So many families have been ruined over clashes in religious beliefs or lack thereof. But I don’t equate religion with a belief in a higher power. The fact is, I don’t think of myself as a very religious person, but I do have a belief in God. I don’t know why I do, but I do. That, to me, isn’t the same as being “religious”.

Daystar has faced some controversies, too, as have many “prosperity gospel ministries”, which promote the idea that in order to get God’s favor, one must give money. And of course, the televangelists promote the idea that they are the ones who should benefit from the largesse of hopeful followers of Christ. They promise that you give them money, you will be blessed. But so often, it turns out all that happens is that the people who donate their “grocery money” only get poorer. It’s sad that so many people who follow “false prophet” televangelists and corrupt “leaders” like Donald Trump never see that they are working against their own interests.

But anyway… condolences to Marcus Lamb’s friends and family members. Truly, I am sorry to hear about Lamb’s death. I can see that he had some people in his life who are sad that he’s gone, and I don’t want to discount their pain and grief at losing him. I take heart in the realization that maybe some people will learn from Lamb’s sudden passing.

Now to get on with my day… gotta do the vacuuming, practice guitar, and walk the dogs, since the sun actually peeked out from behind the clouds for a few minutes. Hope everyone has a nice Thursday.

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Duggars, Ex, narcissists, psychology, Trump

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear…”

This morning, I’m reminded of the popular saying that serves as today’s post title. It’s a lesson we’ve learned again and again. The universe will give you opportunities to learn lessons. In our case, we have apparently needed to learn more about narcissists and narcissism. And we have had several teachers who have appeared. It’s only been recently that we’ve been learning the lessons and changing our approaches to dealing with these types of people.

Yesterday’s post turned out to be more popular than I was expecting it to be. I’m sure part of the reason it was so compelling is that it included a somewhat “sordid” true story. Even three years on from our last move, it still made me nervous to share that post. It occurs to me that some people might read my posts and think I’m just whining. Maybe I do “whine” more than I should. It would be nice to have more of a “get on with it” attitude about more things.

I have what Dr. Phil would call a “psychological sunburn” about certain issues. That means I’m unusually sensitive about some things. In my case, it’s dealing with abusive people. I’ve mentioned before that I feel “saturated”, especially when it comes to verbal abuse. I just can’t abide it anymore. I don’t willingly engage with people who are like that, and writing helps me process it. I realize it probably comes off as a little “off-kilter” to some people, although I also know that some people can relate and appreciate these posts. So I keep writing them.

Narcissism is a hot topic these days. Spend a few minutes on YouTube and you’ll find so many videos about narcissism and narcissistic people. Some people are as tired of hearing and reading about narcissism, as I am of hearing about the pandemic. I don’t know why others are so interested in narcissism, but I know I am, because I’ve spent a lifetime being subjected to the general fuckery that can come from being around abusive and exploitative people. It’s a lot to unpack.

The first time I ever heard the term “narcissism” was when I was a senior in high school. I was taking a psychology class, and my teacher was the kind who loved to show “made for TV” movies to demonstrate certain psychological disorders. We watched the 1989 film Small Sacrifices, which starred Farrah Fawcett and was based on true crime writer Ann Rule’s excellent book. Fawcett portrayed Diane Downs, a woman who shot her own children and then claimed that she was carjacked. I remember my teacher saying that Downs had narcissistic personality disorder.

At the time, I thought nothing of it. I was seventeen years old and really didn’t know a lot about the world. Hell, at that time, I didn’t even realize that my father was an alcoholic, even though it was pretty obvious. I was used to seeing him drink excessively, and was accustomed to the erratic and sometimes scary behavior that resulted from his drinking, PTSD, and depression.

It never occurred to me that, years later, I would marry a man whose ex wife was extremely narcissistic, or even that her shockingly abusive behavior, as egregiously selfish and damaging as it was, would be something that a couple of my friends would also experience with people in their lives. I started to look around and realized that I was seeing narcissism all over the place.

When I started to realize how common and pervasive narcissistic behavior seemed to be, I wondered if maybe I was imagining it. Like, maybe I was akin to a physician in training with a little knowledge, suddenly seeing the signs and symptoms of a disease I’d just learned about in a class. I do have degrees in social work and public health, but narcissism isn’t something we necessarily learned about in school, except when I took an undergraduate course in abnormal psychology. I did very well in that class, but I am certainly no expert.

I started learning a lot more about NPD years ago, when I watched my husband’s ex wife treat my husband like literal shit. I was absolutely dumbfounded by the disrespect she showed toward him and his family, and ultimately, her children. I couldn’t believe her nerve. I was very surprised that so many people let her get away with the things they let her get away with, like denying Bill access to his children and telling outrageous lies about him to everyone, including his own parents and the children. Then I learned more about the physical and sexual abuse that occurred, and saw the proof of it.

I knew there had to be something very wrong with Ex, because her “reasons” for her actions didn’t make any sense to me. They did not fit the man that I knew, and have now known, for over twenty years. She made claims that he hates women and was abusive to her. And yet he has never as much as raised his voice to me, let alone a hand. He’s literally one of the kindest, most gentle, and agreeable people I’ve ever met, in spite of his long career as a soldier.

At first, I thought maybe Ex had borderline personality disorder. I read a lot about it and realized that her behavior ticked a lot of the boxes. But people with BPD are usually somewhat treatable, if they realize they have a problem and want to get help, and they aren’t as cruel as Ex is. Ex has been hospitalized on a few occasions, and I’ve seen her spouting off about dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which is a treatment used for people with BPD. However, her behavior doesn’t seem to change, and there are still many signs that she’s got other issues– namely with narcissism. I have studied narcissism for years, and I am convinced that’s her main problem, at least at this point in her life.

Of course, it’s also certainly possible that she has both disorders. Sometimes cluster B personality disorders do overlap. Or maybe she’s got another problem entirely. I can only guess, based on what I’ve witnessed, heard about, and experienced in my years with Bill, and my own educational pursuits.

All I know is that when I started to read about narcissistic personality disorder, Ex’s behavior started to make a lot more sense, and was much less shocking. In fact, once I learned about personality disorders in general, Ex started to become more predictable. While it was still terrible to observe, and awful for my husband, who was denied contact with his daughters, there was something almost comforting in knowing that it wasn’t just our imagination that she was so incredibly controlling, and shamelessly self-centered and hurtful. Indeed, later when Bill started talking to his daughter, she confirmed that she was treated as badly as he was. Younger daughter recently announced that she’s expecting another baby. She wrote that she was much more nervous about telling her mother than telling Bill. Bill always reacts with kindness. Ex doesn’t.

Some might wonder why I write so much about Ex. To that question, I can only answer that it helps me process and unpack. People often assume she’s a normal person and I’m the problem. I would like to ask people who automatically assume that I’m the problem, to stop and think about what they would think, and how they would feel, if they were married to someone who was DENIED access to their own children by the other parent. I would expect a loving parent to want the other parent to be involved, if only for the sake of the children, who deserve to have access to their parents and should not be saddled with an unnecessary stigma of being the child of an abuser.

If there was a legitimate reason for the other parent to be denied access, there should have been documentation as to why that was necessary. But in Ex’s case, she was apparently married to two men who were not fit to be fathers to their children. She denied her first husband access to their son, and only helped them reunite when it suited her toxic agenda. She did it solely to be cruel and punitive to Bill, who was asserting himself because his former stepson was quite obviously using him for money. When Bill busted the young man for hiding the fact that he was changing his name and didn’t bother to tell Bill, but kept accepting child support from him (at age 21, no less), Ex suddenly decided that the young man should be in contact with the man she claimed was “crazy” and “abusive”. And now we know she said the same things about Bill, although as his second wife, I can attest that he’s not the one who is “crazy” and “abusive”.

Once I learned more about narcissism, I found out that a lot of people are dealing with narcissists in their lives. I wonder how that is possible, since it’s supposedly a “personality disorder”. But then I realized that one doesn’t have to have NPD to exhibit those behaviors on occasion. Narcissism seems to be an epidemic in western society. In fact, it seems to be somewhat celebrated and even normalized in American culture. Obviously narcissistic people are the ones who often end up being “stars”. They often have powerful jobs and lots of prestige, or they have a lot of money. But then you look at their personal lives, and examine things they’ve done to get ahead, and you realize they aren’t people you’d necessarily want to know.

Donald Trump, to my mind, is a VERY obvious grandiose and malignant narcissist. He’s had a string of unfaithful marriages and business failures. So many people who have been associated with him have ended up in trouble with the law, ranging from his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to people who invaded the Capitol building last January. There are many stories of him abusing women and being racist. He doesn’t seem to care beyond the superficial for anyone, except maybe his daughter, Ivanka, whom he’s said he would like to date. He’s been friends with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, as well as Steve Bannon. And yet, we made him President of the United States, and many people– some of whom I consider decent and basically intelligent– are still fooled by his icky, superficial and totally fake charm. They see his selfishness and crazy behavior as strengths.

It was my husband’s ex wife who made me realize how dangerous Trump is. Once I started studying narcissists and saw how these people put on public faces, but are toxic nightmares behind closed doors, I realized how terrible Trump as a leader is. And then I saw the proof of it in the aftermath of the 2020 election, which thank GOD he lost. I only hope that he can’t run again, because I’m not altogether sure he wouldn’t win. And if he wins, God help us all, because he would have no reason whatsoever to curb his behavior. He wouldn’t be able to run for another term and would be even closer to the end of his life, anyway.

But Trump is an extreme example of a narcissist. The truth is, they’re everywhere, and that’s why so many people are obsessively reading about them and watching videos about their behavior. Most of them don’t reach the terrible extremes of Trump. Most are probably not even as extreme as Ex is. I would say most narcissists are mainly just what we’d call inconsiderate assholes. They aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they are very unpleasant and toxic to be around. Some go to more extreme lengths and are incredibly dangerous and harmful, particularly to innocent people.

I look at Josh Duggar, whose trial is set to begin tomorrow. This is a man who was lecturing the masses about family values several years ago, as he was meeting and brutalizing a sex worker, cheating on his wife, and apparently, viewing illegal pornographic images. I have never met Josh Duggar, but he definitely has a lot of the signs of NPD, and he’s been raised in a culture where his selfish, destructive, abusive behavior is tolerated and even celebrated.

Meanwhile, since he’s been caught with illegal images that were described as the “worst of the worst” that experienced investigators have ever seen, Josh and his equally narcissistic father, Jim Bob, have been doing everything they can to get out of being held accountable for this behavior. Hell, Jim Bob is even running for public office again, even though his son is probably about to go to prison. Go figure that decision, except that Jim Bob is also extremely controlling and self-centered. Why should we care about these people? By all rights, we shouldn’t, but their story is compelling, because they have that yucky charisma and charm that a lot of narcissists have. I only hope that this time, they finally get held accountable for the things they do.

I come by my fascination with narcissism honestly, because it has affected me personally. I know that I’m not alone. I really think our culture has a lot to do with why this issue is so prevalent. Sadly, narcissists really hurt people, and they cause damage that is not easy to overcome. Whether it’s dealing with an abusive ex spouse who uses children and other people to maintain control, or it’s just a boss or a landlord who lives to make someone’s life hell, or it’s a person who is running the country and refusing to play fair, narcissists do a lot of harm to decent people. And I think the high number of books, videos, and blog posts about this subject only show that many students are ready, so the teachers have appeared.

Now… I’m going to dive back into my latest book by Les Carter, and I hope tomorrow, there will be a fresh book review. I’ve got several new books that I’m dying to start reading, but I can’t tackle them the way I used to. I hope everyone has a great Monday.

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narcissists, politicians, politics, Trump, Virginia

It’s nice to be out of the United States on the day after Election Day…

Bill and I woke up to the typical reactions to the results of Election Day. It seems like in the past few years, those reactions have become ever more extreme. It used to be that the candidates running weren’t often that wildly different from one another. Or, maybe that’s just how it seemed to me, back in the day. I think I started noticing the stress of elections in the year 2000, when George W. Bush became president. At that time, I was a Republican voter most of the time. It was what I knew, and it didn’t seem like it was so entrenched with evangelical Christians. I remember when Al Gore insisted that the election was “stolen”. After that, things got wilder and wilder come election time.

Donald Trump ruined the conservative viewpoint for me. I will never look at that party the same way as I used to… and it’s pretty doubtful that I will ever vote for a Republican again. Anyway, Texas didn’t have any really big issues this year, and I don’t really think of it as my home, anyway. I lived there for a year and am legally a resident, even though I live in Germany. Virginia is my home, and it’s sad, but not surprising, that Glenn Youngkin won the governor’s race. I don’t think Terry McAuliffe was a very popular candidate, and Virginia is a very conservative southern state, even if it has been going “blue” recently.

I still have a lot of friends and relatives in Virginia, and most of them still vote Republican, no matter what. So it doesn’t shock me that they flipped back to red. Personally, I like Ralph Northam, but I can see how some of his decisions were extremely unpopular with Virginians. Plus, there was that troublesome past of his, posing in blackface for a med school yearbook photo in 1984. People want to hang on to that issue, not taking account in the fact that Northam was a young man at the time, times were less politically correct, and sometimes, people do change their attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

However… some people are NOT capable of change. Narcissistic people, like Donald Trump, never change, and usually get much worse as they age. A year after the presidential election, Trump is still trying to fight the results. People are still spun up over him, and the audacity he showed when he baselessly accused the election of being rigged against him. The reason he did that is because, as a narcissist, he is incapable of losing gracefully. And that is one of his worst flaws, because it means that he’ll do anything to win.

Unfortunately, a lot of Americans enjoy that in a leader… and they don’t realize that that kind of bravado is only great until it’s directed at them. Americans love the theatrics, especially when it involves some guy who they think is just like them. But he’s not like them at all, and wouldn’t deign to give them the time of day. And he certainly doesn’t care about America. He cares about himself, and himself alone. I wish more people could see this truth and stop allowing toxic leaders like Donald Trump to influence them, and their choices for leaders.

But people are still spun up on Trump, and they hate seeing things like Confederate statues, erected during the Jim Crow era, taken down. They hate being told they have to be vaccinated against a deadly virus. But they don’t mind forcing women to give birth, even as they take away any resources that might make family planning and management more feasible for parents. They scoff at the idea that people should have any support from the government for the good of the community. It’s every man or woman for themselves… unless the woman happens to be pregnant.

I haven’t been in the United States in seven years… and I can’t say I miss it very much. It’s changed a lot since I was a young woman. There’s a lot more violence and polarization, and people aren’t really free to live as they wish. I used to be a lot more conservative about a lot of issues (although I have ALWAYS been pro-choice), but I don’t see myself going back down that path. Being abroad has changed me irrevocably.

I am glad to be away from the United States today. It’s good to be in Slovenia, a place that used to be forbidden to Americans. It’s so beautiful here, as the featured photo suggests… I’m not sure what we’re going to do today, since it’s raining. Maybe we’ll go to the Aquapark. In any case, I’m going to try to ignore the elections. I’m sure many people I know in Virginia are delighted to see a new Republican governor. I just hope he doesn’t ruin everything good that was accomplished during Northam’s reign. And… I do think Northam did a lot of good things, even if he wasn’t even close to perfect.

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