book reviews, true crime

Repost: A review of Until the Twelfth of Never- Should Betty Broderick Ever Be Free?

Yesterday, I started watching the Netflix show, Dirty John- The Betty Broderick Story. I was not familiar with the show until recently, when I noticed that my reposted review of a book about Betty’s daughter, Kim, was getting tons of hits. I investigated, and finally found out about the second season of the original Netflix drama. Season 2 is about Betty Broderick, who famously murdered her physician attorney ex husband and his new wife, Linda Kolkhena Broderick, in 1989.

Betty Broderick is a controversial figure. Lots of books, blog posts, and messageboard posts have been written about her. She’s been the subject of made for television movies starring Meredith Baxter and Stephen Collins. Lots of women held Betty up as a heroine, even though she’s in prison. Personally, I empathize with Betty’s story, but I think she is (or was) mentally ill, and she definitely had no right to kill her ex husband and his second wife. No matter what a scumbag Dan Broderick might have been, that does not give anyone the right to murder him. Also, as a second wife myself, I had empathy for Linda Kolkhena Broderick, even if I don’t condone dating a married man. The fact is, she didn’t make a vow to Betty; Dan did.

Anyway… I have read and reviewed a couple of books about Betty Broderick, so I am going to repost them today. The first review is a book by Bella Stumbo, which was used as a basis for the Dirty John series. I reviewed it on August 29, 2014, and my thoughts are presented as/is here.

I purchased the late Bella Stumbo’s book, the exhaustive Until the Twelfth of Never- Should Betty Broderick Ever Be Free? in April of this year (2014).  I have just now gotten around to reading it.  I normally breeze through books in a matter of days, but this one took me about three weeks to finish.  This book is the story of the tragic relationship between former San Diego malpractice attorney Dan Broderick and his first wife, Betty.  It’s one of several books written about this controversial case of an enraged woman scorned who resorts to murdering her ex husband and his second wife.

I must admit to being something fascinated by Betty Broderick.  She was born and raised in New York State, the daughter of respectable Catholic parents who had brought her up on the idea that being a wife and a mother was of utmost importance.  When Betty and Dan married in April 1969, it looked like Betty was going to be one of those women who married well.  Dan had graduated from medical school and then decided to become a lawyer.  Given his dual degrees in medicine and law, he was a powerful force in a courtroom.  He became very successful and was quite wealthy by the time he died at the hands of his ex wife and mother of his four children, Betty.

Betty Broderick had been a beautiful, educated, gracious woman.  By her account, she had helped Dan Broderick become the success that he was.  Dan repaid her by fooling around with his 21 year old secretary, Linda, then deciding that he wanted to dump Betty for Linda.  Dan’s actions enraged Betty, who began to refer to Dan and Linda in the most vile, vulgar terms possible.  She also vandalized Dan’s home and possessions, ruining his clothes, smearing Boston Creme pie on his bed, and driving her vehicle into his house.  Dan retaliated by fining Betty, refusing to give her access to their children, and using his extensive legal training to keep her from getting what she felt she was owed.

Things got to a fever pitch on November 5, 1989.  Betty went to Dan’s and Linda’s home with a gun.  She shot them as they slept, then ripped the phone from the wall.  She was tried twice; the first trial ended with a hung jury.  She was convicted during the second trial and sentenced to 32 years in prison, where she remains today.

Bella Stumbo wrote Until the Twelfth of Never years ago, but it has been updated with the edition I own.  There is an analysis of Betty’s handwriting included as well as some statements by friends of Dan Broderick’s.  I’m not sure the extra material made this book better.  Frankly, I thought it was way too long and, at times, rather redundant.  Stumbo includes a lot of detail in this book, but some of it was probably better left omitted.  For example, I don’t need to be reminded umpteen times how profane Betty was when she called Dan on the phone.  But Stumbo included a number of transcripts that explicitly spell out the filthy language Betty uses to the point at which it becomes tiresome.

I did think that Stumbo did a good job in presenting a somewhat even look at Dan and Betty Broderick, although if I had to guess, I would guess Stumbo was slightly more sympathetic to Betty over Dan.  To be sure, Dan Broderick comes across as a real jerk in the seemingly callous way he dealt with his ex wife.  However, Betty Broderick had absolutely no right to kill her ex husband and his wife, Linda.  Had the gender roles in this case been reversed, I seriously doubt people would sympathize with Dan and claim he was driven to kill, no matter how awful Betty was to him.  I’m not one of those people who thinks women should get a break when they turn murderous.  Betty Broderick was not being threatened when she killed.  Dan and Linda were sleeping when she shot them.  There is no other reason why Betty should be in prison now, other than because of her own selfish actions.  At the same time, I did have some empathy for her on one level.  It does sound like her ex husband was a jerk.

I thought the information Stumbo included about Betty’s behavior in jail was interesting.  Apparently, Betty Broderick’s antics in 1991 were so outrageous that they upstaged news about the fall of the Soviet Union.

Bella Stumbo’s Until the Twelfth of Never is basically well-written, but I think it could use an editor.  It’s maybe 100-150 pages too long, does not include any photos, and there are some typos that could be corrected.  I’m kind of relieved to be finished with this book because I’m ready to move on to the next subject, but I would recommend it to those who are interested in the war of the Brodericks.  Just be prepared to read for a long time.

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book reviews, celebrities

A review of Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up, by Naya Rivera

A few months ago, I finally binge watched all of Glee. I was an early fan of the show, having watched the premiere for free on Apple iTunes in May 2009, when we lived in Germany the first time. I was quickly hooked on the quirky show about high school show choir and the musical theater geeks who are usually in them. I was not involved in music when I was in high school, but I did become musically active in college. I had lots of friends who were music and theater majors, and a couple who were Longwood’s first musical theater majors. Plus, both of my parents are/were musicians, as are a lot of my relatives. Add in my love of snarky, crude humor and you know I was a super fan… at least at first.

A series of life events caused me to quit being a regular viewer of Glee sometime around 2013. I think I quit watching around the time Cory Monteith overdosed and died. That was also about the time the show had kind of jumped the shark, as the original characters were obviously too old to be in high school and the jokes were getting a bit stale. The new people they brought in didn’t have the same chemistry, and to be honest, Lea Michele really annoys me, even though I know she’s extremely talented.

Naya Rivera’s death was tragic.

Anyway, I decided to watch Glee thanks to the pandemic and the fact that German Netflix has the whole series available… and I’m paying for Netflix and rarely watch it. Sometime during the period when I was watching Glee, I became aware of Naya Rivera’s 2016 book, Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up. Naya Rivera, as you may know, tragically died last summer at the age of 33 when she and her then four-year-old son, Josey, went on an ill advised boating trip at Lake Piru, a manmade reservoir in Ventura County, California. Naya, who had been a good swimmer, evidently went swimming with Josey and, it’s theorized that she and her son got caught in a rip current. Josey wore a life jacket, but Naya did not, and evidently, the effort of saving her son by getting him back on their rented boat sapped all of Naya’s energy. She slipped under the water while her son looked on; he was found sleeping along on the boat. Naya was declared missing on July 8, 2020 and her dead body was found five days later.

Lately, Naya Rivera is back in the news, as her father, George Rivera, has publicly called out Glee creator Ryan Murphy for failing to set up a college fund for Josey, which Murphy had reportedly vowed to do when Naya suddenly passed away. She’s also in the news because she was left out of the “In Memoriam” segment at the recent Grammy Awards show, and many of her fans are reportedly outraged.

Naya tortured that poor M&M…

To be honest, I probably would not have read Sorry Not Sorry if I hadn’t recently binged on Glee episodes. Naya played Santana Lopez, who was originally a minor character who later took on a bigger role. Santana probably wasn’t my favorite character on Glee, but I did recognize her talent. And she got better as the show went on, while other characters became more irritating (ahem– Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel). I hadn’t seen Naya’s other shows, either, so I wasn’t otherwise familiar with her work, except for on Glee and that creepy M&Ms ad she did in 2013. But as I watched her on Glee, I decided I liked her. She was a very talented woman and quite beautiful, with an interesting racial makeup that made her surprisingly versatile. And I guess I had a feeling her book would be a trip.

One of my favorite Santana scenes… next to the one where she comes out as a lesbian to her very conservative grandmother.
Heartbreaking… and definitely showed her talents as an actress.

I finally finished reading it this morning and I’m left with mixed feelings. Overall, I found Naya’s book entertaining and somewhat juicy. She comes off as a fun and loving person, who was both down to earth and earthy, like me. I enjoyed reading some of her anecdotes about being in show business, as well as some of the dishing she did on her Glee co-stars. Naya Rivera dated Mark Salling, who famously committed suicide in 2018 as he was facing sentencing for possession of child pornography. Apparently, he wasn’t a very good date, and she adds a snide quip or two about his legal issues, although the book was written before his suicide. She mentions Lea Michele a couple of times, as well as Cory Monteith, adding that filming his tribute on Glee was very difficult. She’s also candid about her upbringing and family life, as well as some of the people she dated and almost married. Being an old fart, I don’t know too much about Big Sean or Ariana Grande. But they’re both mentioned in the book with no shortage of sass and candor.

On the other hand, I wasn’t all that impressed with her writing, at least at first. At the beginning of the book, she repeatedly uses certain phrases, like “to this day”. I got the sense that she was writing the book as she spoke, which can make the writing seem personal, but can lead to overusing certain phrases and words to the point of annoyance. The writing seemed to get better as the book continued. I also wasn’t all that wild about the “sorry, not sorry” premise, as if she was offering life advice to her readers. Some of what she wrote was actually kind of wise, but then she’d add lists of things she was sorry, not sorry for. I guess I’m too old for that kind of a gimmick. On the other hand, I’m probably not in the target audience group for this book, anyway.

Wow… prophetic song. She did this for Cory Monteith’s memorial.

I found a lot of Naya Rivera’s comments very poignant. For example, at one point, she writes that she intends to live a very long time. This book was published in September 2016. No one could have known that Naya was going to be dead less than four years later. Given the way that she died– really through what seems to be negligence and overconfidence– it seems odd to be reading a book full of advice by her. But then, as I said, some of her advice is sound and makes sense, and there are times when she is surprisingly articulate and insightful. She did also pay her dues on her way up the showbiz ladder. She worked at Hooters for awhile, and when producers would praise her talent, she would occasionally mouth off at them, asking them why they never gave her the parts she wanted. Above all, she comes off as a good person with a lot of talent who worked very hard to get where she was. It really is a pity that she wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of her hard work for longer than she did. I feel especially sad for her young son, who was the last person to see her alive. He’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his life.

Overall, I think Sorry Not Sorry is a fun read. In my younger days, I probably would have finished it in one or two sittings, but lately I tend to fall asleep when I read. Maybe it has to do with Arran making us take him outside in the middle of the night. And given that Naya Rivera is now deceased, maybe the book is less fun and more poignant than it was in 2016, but it’s a nice tribute to a young woman who was taken much too soon. I get a sense that this book is authentic and comes straight from Naya Rivera, rather than a ghost writer. It was not a bad thing to leave behind. Maybe I would have thought she was too young to write her life story in 2016– she repeatedly reminds readers that she’s almost thirty in the book. But as it turns out, her life wasn’t going to continue to the old age she expected. So I’m glad she wrote this book, and I’m pleased to have read it. I will recommend it to those who are similarly interested in Naya Rivera’s story.

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rants, true crime

Getting out of jail early…

This morning, I read that Skylar Mack got out of jail and came back to the United States. Skylar Mack is the young American woman from Georgia who made headlines last month after violating COVID-19 quarantine rules in the Cayman Islands. She was there to see her 24 year old boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, in a jet ski race. People at the race saw her violating quarantine and turned her in to the authorities. Skylar was initially given a light punishment, but some Cayman officials decided to make an example out of her and re-sentenced her to four months in prison.

Skylar is now out of jail.

Lots of Americans were outraged by Skylar Mack’s behavior and fully supported the tougher sentence. I went on record to say that I thought it was too harsh. Cooler heads in the Cayman Islands prevailed, and Skylar got a reduced sentence of two months. And, thanks to the local custom of letting well-behaved prisoners out after they serve 60% of their sentences, Skylar and her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, have both been released. Skylar Mack is said to be at home and very happy to be back in the United States, having survived her ordeal in a Caribbean prison.

I, for one, am glad she’s out. I hope she’s learned her lesson and will not offend again. I’m sure she won’t soon forget what she went through, and may now have more appreciation for what she has. I don’t think having her sit in jail for more time would have changed much of anything, and would only give her nightmares and personal setbacks. Life is tough enough right now, for EVERYONE.

While some people seem to think that anyone breaking COVID-19 rules is “murderous”, I, for one, think that’s a bit of virtue signaling hyperbole. COVID-19 is very contagious and potentially very dangerous, but it’s caused by a virus. Viruses are tiny, wily, and built for survival. People have to live their lives, and some folks will get sick no matter what. What Skylar Mack did was irresponsible, disrespectful, and very foolish, and she definitely deserved to be punished for it, but she’s not likely to become a habitual criminal. Doing what many 18 year olds would have done doesn’t make her a terrible person. Her life shouldn’t be ruined for breaking the rules… and thankfully, it looks like it won’t be.

I’m not a huge believer in lengthy incarceration as punishment, especially for non-violent crimes. And that’s why I’m also thinking that Lori Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, should also be allowed to serve the rest of his sentence for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud at home. Giannulli was sentenced to five months in a minimum security prison for his part in a scam that got his two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California on false pretenses.

I don’t think he’s wrong to complain.

Giannulli was supposed to go to FCI-Lompoc, a minimum security federal lockup near Santa Barbara, California, after he turned himself in back in November 2020. However, after he completed his two week COVID-19 quarantine, he was moved to a small cell at the adjacent medium security penitentiary. For 56 days, he was kept in solitary confinement, only allowed out of the cell for three twenty minute breaks per week. He was finally moved to the minimum security camp on January 13th, probably because his lawyers have been making a stink and word has gotten out in the press.

Solitary confinement is a harsh punishment. It’s inappropriate, given the nature of Giannulli’s crime. He should not have been locked down like that for 56 days, especially if he was supposed to be incarcerated at a minimum security camp. I know people want to scream about privilege, but I don’t think they’ve stopped to think about what it means to be locked in a cell for 24 hours a day for weeks on end. The punishment ought to fit the crime, even if the confinement is, supposedly, for his “own protection”.

Many people think Mossimo Giannulli deserves some abuse. They cite his “white privilege” and “wealth”, as well as an attitude of entitlement, as they haughtily claim that it’s fair for him to rot in solitary confinement. I guess it’s a crime to have money, in some people’s views. It always makes me shake my head when people armchair quarterback these cases and think someone’s prison sentence isn’t harsh enough. When I’ve called people out on their high and mighty positions, asking them if that’s how they would want to be treated if they should ever get in trouble, they always tell me that they would never do what the person has done. But sometimes shit happens, and people find themselves on the wrong side of the law. I think, in a civilized society, we must temper justice with mercy.

I absolutely think it was right for Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli to have to face consequences for what they did. I don’t even think being in jail was inappropriate. But when it comes down to it, their crimes weren’t violent. Their daughters are now outed, and won’t be getting over anymore. They won’t be committing this crime again. There’s no need to force them to rot in a cell for long periods of time. I don’t think that’s appropriate for ANYONE, regardless of their race, class, or creed, when the crime isn’t one that resulted in injuries or deaths of other people. Americans are way too enamored with putting people in prison to punish them, rather than investing in humanity.

Given the fact that Giannulli has now spent two months in prison under much harsher conditions than what was agreed upon in court when he was sentenced, I don’t think he’s out of line for requesting home confinement. However, I also know that what I think and a nickel will get us nowhere. 😉

A lot of people are big believers in making examples out of others. They don’t seem to realize that someday, someone might want to make an example out of them or a loved one. Someone might think they need to be made an example out of for everyone else. Believe me, perspectives always change when the shoe is on the other foot.

I don’t condone breaking the law. I just don’t think that incarceration for long periods of time for non-violent crimes is the answer. I especially feel that way in situations when it’s a first offense or likely to be an only offense. In both Skylar Mack’s and Lori Loughlin’s and Mossimo Giannulli’s cases, the crimes were non-violent and unlikely to be repeated. If someday, Skylar Mack decides to reoffend in the Cayman Islands, I think it would make sense for her to get a harsher punishment for breaking the rules. But I highly doubt Skylar will be going anywhere anytime soon, and I doubt she’ll cause any more trouble, at least not in the Caribbean.

Likewise, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli probably won’t get caught up in another legal situation anytime soon, at least not involving their daughters going to college. So I won’t be upset if Mossimo gets out of jail early. I think it’s appropriate, under the circumstances. And I would feel that way even if he wasn’t a rich, white guy. Incarceration isn’t a good idea during a pandemic, anyway. We’re all pretty much incarcerated as it is.

And… just because I’m happy about it– one more day to go before Trump is out of office. Yea!

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musings

Offensive fashion statements… or, who was that hooded, masked man?

As Patrick Starfish would say, “Good morning, Krusty Krew.” This morning, in contrast to yesterday morning, I am actually itching to write something of substance. Before I get cranked up with today’s post, I want to thank those of you who took the time to listen to my musical offerings yesterday. I truly appreciate it when anyone listens and comments on my recordings. I don’t put them out there very often because I hate making videos and I never know how they’re going to be received. But it does bring me great joy to sing songs and share them with others. So if you took the time to click on my channel, thank you very much. It means a lot to me, even though I did lose one subscriber on YouTube (bwahahahaha!). It’s okay. I’ll stay humble and stick to my day job.

Now, on with today’s controversial topic, which I hope readers will read and consider with an open mind.

Yesterday evening, I came across two news articles that caused me to react in different ways. After thinking about both of these issues, I realize that they’re two pieces of the same “puzzle” that faces everyone on the planet today. The first article that upset me was in the Washington Post. It was a piece by Robin Givhan about how face masks are “here to stay” and have now become a fashion accessory which may, very soon, become as essential as undergarments. Givhan writes:

Fashion always finds a way. Human beings are undaunted in their search for ways to stand out, to communicate, to thrive in a treacherous environment. And so the face mask — once purely functional, once perceived as an exotic accessory — has evolved at breakneck speed into something more.

It’s more essential because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans wear a mask when interacting with others. It’s more aesthetically pleasing. It’s also a more complicated cultural proposition. And, of course, the face mask is political because both the president and the vice president have refused to wear one on highly public occasions and because some protesters have insinuated that masks are un-American.

As the country moves toward reopening, masks are assuredly part of our future. And in some ways, their evolution is the perfect encapsulation of how much life has changed in a blink of an eye — and how challenging, both intellectually and emotionally, it will be for us to go forward.

I have written in previous pieces about how, personally, I don’t like seeing face masks being normalized and turning into fashion statements. I realize that I can’t stop them from evolving in such a way. Some people like wearing them and feel safer with them with them on. However, count me among those who have no desire to be mandated to wear a face mask for the rest of my life. In fact, I don’t even like that the masks are being pushed on everyone via peer pressure. I would hate to see them become like seatbelts, which most everyone is compelled to wear nowadays.

When I was a child, seatbelts were entirely optional. I have many memories of riding without them in those days, lying in cargo areas in my dad’s many vans or riding in the back of pick up trucks. At one time, my dad had a Volkswagen pop top camper, which had a bar across the ceiling that we had to push to get the camper top to go up. I used to swing on that bar like a monkey when I was a kid. It was very unsafe and unthinkable today, but great fun back then. I don’t regret the experience of swinging on that bar as we cruised down the interstates.

Now… as a sensible adult, I understand why all U.S. states and many developed countries require people to wear seatbelts. New Hampshire, the one seatbelt law hold out, currently doesn’t require seatbelt use for adults, but does require people under age 17 to wear them. It also looks like New Hampshire will soon require seatbelt use for everyone. However, generally speaking, I am opposed to “nanny” laws in principal. I think people should wear seatbelts because it’s the smart thing to do, not because they might get a ticket. I also wear one because if I don’t, my husband turns into Pat Boone.

I have seen face masks being compared to seatbelts. I don’t think they’re the quite same thing. Riding in a car without a seatbelt has always been inherently dangerous. Being in public without a face mask has not. Moreover, facial expression is a big component in effective communication and identification. A lot of things can’t be feasibly done in public if a person is wearing a mask… things that bring joy, like eating, drinking, lip reading, and smoking (although smoking is not something that brings me joy) or playing woodwind instruments or horns. Although speaking and singing are possible while wearing a mask, they aren’t as easy to do. Breathing isn’t as easy to do while wearing a mask, either.

I imagine that when summer is fully upon us, people who don’t routinely wear masks will realize what being forced to wear one at all times could mean. The thought of it really depresses me, especially since there is still some debate as to how helpful the masks really are. Face masks in 90 degree weather sound like a recipe for a lot of sweat, smelling of one’s own bad breath, and possible tan lines, not to mention kind of a creepy dystopian feel to society in which we won’t be allowed to see each other’s smiles in every day society.

I was a bit perturbed after reading Givhan’s article about how masks are becoming a fashion statement, especially since so many people commenting seem to be all for it being a permanent fixture. I don’t think a lot of people have thought about it very deeply. I intend to resist that trend as much as possible and only wear masks when I absolutely have to in order to avoid harassment or legal trouble. I posted about it on Facebook and my friend Sara, who is a nurse at the Mayo Clinic and has to wear a mask all day, fully agreed with me that wearing masks full time should be a no go. Especially since the coronavirus epidemic hasn’t been an issue for that long. Some people are now pushing for laws… and I know that I’m not the only one upset about the prospect of face masks being as necessary as underwear. In fact, another article drove home the idea that requiring face coverings at all times could be a very slippery slope.

Just before I was about to go to bed, I noticed a news item posted by a friend in California. A man in Santee, California went into a grocery store wearing a white, cone shaped hood. The San Diego Union-Tribune referred to the hood as a “KKK hood”, which it probably was. However, the man was not identified by name by the newspaper. In fact, other than a picture of the guy demonstrating his choice to wear the hood, along with shorts, t-shirt, and shoes, not much information about the man was provided at all.

I shared the article on Facebook, and a few friends automatically labeled the guy a racist. And, to be honest, he probably IS a racist. However, there is no way to know for sure. I suspect the guy wore the mask to make a point about the requirement to wear face masks. The rules are pretty broad right now. Your nose and mouth are supposed to be covered. The white hood accomplishes that. Because a hateful group of racists have co-opted the white, cone shaped hood into a symbol that immediately identifies one as a white supremacist, it’s taboo to wear a hood that looks like that in public. This guy chose to wear one anyway. He technically followed the rules by covering his face and mouth, but he did so in a way that was sure to offend other people.

I brought up the fact that since I’ve lived in Europe, I’ve noticed the Confederate battle flag being flown or otherwise displayed in various places here. When I’ve shared my observations with American friends, they almost always react with shock and dismay. To many Americans, the Confederate battle flag (which was actually only one of many used by Confederates during the Civil War) is ALWAYS a racist display. I grew up in the South and saw that flag all the time while growing up. Hell, when I was in South Carolina going to graduate school, there was a Confederate battle flag on top of the Statehouse. It was later relocated to the grounds of the Statehouse, where it stayed for years before it was finally put away for good. Yes, many people see that flag as a racist symbol, but others still insist that it’s about southern pride and a spirit of rebellion.

I once had an Italian Facebook friend. I guess we’re technically still friends, but he left Facebook last year, claiming that people didn’t want to engage in healthy debates with him. I’m sorry he left, especially since we have lost touch. Although he could be very obnoxious and even kind of mean at times, I liked the perspective he presented. He is an intelligent and articulate guy, and I miss getting his input on some topics. One time, he explained why it’s not really uncommon to see the Confederate battle flag displayed in Italy. That flag doesn’t have the same connotations to many Europeans as it does to Americans. A lot of people in Europe see that flag as only a symbol of southern rebellion. In fact, there’s a Harley Davidson garage located not two kilometers near where we live, and they proudly fly the Confederate battle flag. I’ve also seen it on a cab driver’s bumper in Ireland. To many Europeans, it doesn’t stand for racism like it does in the United States.

While the white hood and, especially, the swastika are definitely taboo in Europe, as they are in the United States, I would imagine that those symbols, when taken to a place where they have no meaning at all, would not inspire outrage. When it comes down to it, they’re just symbols, and they only have the meaning that people give them. Personally, I think we should pay more attention to the racist attitudes that actual people have rather than the symbols used to promote those attitudes. It’s also not lost on me that when those symbols are presented, they identify those who have those sentiments. That makes it much easier to choose not to associate with them… although a lot of them are simply ignorant, and their ignorance doesn’t necessarily make them horrible people. At least not in my opinion.

Does “God” feel the same way about Confederate battle flags and white hoods made of cloth?
Isn’t this a blip? My father was a proud flag carrying conservative, but he never hesitated to wear ugly clothes inspired by the American flag. I think Americans should probably think longer and harder about this issue.

Back when football player Colin Kaepernick was regularly in the news for “taking a knee”during the “Star Spangled Banner” to protest racism, a lot of conservatives were upset because they saw his actions as disrespecting the American flag. Curiously enough, “God”, the popular Facebook page, even referred to the American flag as a “piece of cloth” and the national anthem as just a song. I remember blogging about this subject, and to make my point, I included the photo below.

I am not at all condoning the actions of the “very fine people”. However, one could argue that the Confederate battle flag and, in fact, other symbols made of fabric, such as white, cone shaped hoods, are also just “pieces of cloth”, as “God” claims the American flag is.

So anyway… all of this led me to conclude that the guy who walked into the grocery store in his white hood is possibly more of a pissed off Trump supporter, rather than a flat out racist. He’s pissed off because he resents government overreach, and he sees having to wear a face mask at the grocery store as a violation of his personal liberties. He may also be pissed because Trump may very well (hopefully) get his ass kicked during the elections this November, and that may mean more left swinging laws. Remember, Trump and Pence don’t willingly wear masks, either, and Trump has gone as far as to encourage citizens to rise up against their state governments and demand that restrictions be lifted so life can get back to “normal”.

So instead of grudgingly wearing a regular face mask like a good citizen would, he decided to cover his face in a different way. He wore a white, cone-shaped hood, which to many people is an extremely horrifying symbol of racism and hatred. He made a lot of people very uncomfortable. However, he wasn’t violent and didn’t physically hurt anyone, and after being asked repeatedly to remove the hood (and probably what was his nose and mouth covering), he did comply. He paid for his items and left the store without incident, although local law enforcement is “looking into the matter”. Santee, California reportedly has a “checkered past” when it comes to racism, and its mayor has gone on record to denounce the hooded shopper’s actions.

It occurred to me that ultimately, the white cone hat guy was expressing himself. Granted, he was expressing hatred, disrespect, and disdain, which are ugly, antisocial expressions. But when it came down to it, he was expressing himself, which in the United States, he still has the right to do. Then I thought about it some more. Judging by the photo in the news article, I’m about 99.9% certain this dude probably is a racist on some level. But– is it possible he wasn’t? What if he was just a smart assed troll trying to rile people up? What if he was from another country and wasn’t aware that the hood would offend (highly unlikely, but technically possible)? Maybe someone paid him to wear the cone shaped hood on a dare? Not knowing anything about the guy, I can’t know for sure what his story is, although I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume he’s a racist. Or maybe he’s just a frustrated, pissed off American making his feelings known in the most offensive way he can think of, not unlike when Melania Trump wore her “I really don’t care, do U?” jacket. I am certainly not condoning that the man chose that way to express himself… but I can see how that explanation could be a possibility.

The fact that the man wore the offensive KKK-esque hood into the store, technically complying with the order that he cover his mouth and nose, may seem like a bad thing. But, as I sat at the breakfast table talking about this with Bill, I concluded that his actions were not necessarily such a bad thing overall. Because it’s getting people thinking and talking about this issue. If face masks do become the law for the foreseeable future, people are probably going to have to come up with some guidelines. The guidelines aren’t going to suit everyone, and it may take some time to come to a consensus. By then, maybe a vaccine will be created and we can move beyond this pandemic without forcing another nanny law on the populace.

The first article I referenced in this post is about how the face masks are becoming “fashion”. Well, fashion is frequently distasteful. That’s part of the reason fashion is a thing, just like any art is. Art isn’t always beautiful or simple. Sometimes, it’s ugly and offensive. And if we want to mandate face masks for people, we should probably be prepared for those who will use their masks to make their feelings known through offensive fashion statements. I know a lot of people got a kick out of Mindy Vincent, the lady in Utah who made a face mask out of cloth that had penises on it. Plenty of people found that funny, especially when she told people that if they could tell her face mask has penises on it, they were too close. But other people, no doubt, were offended by it. Mindy Vincent has been selling the masks and has reportedly donated a lot of money to charity. That’s probably a good thing, depending on the charity. Some people would probably criticize her for that, too… or for the charity she’s chosen to donate to. The nice thing about America is that we can still have these thoughts and discussions… at least for now.

It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of the hood wearing guy and whether or not his stunt will have any legal repercussions, especially if we do have to wear the fucking face masks from now on.

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complaints

I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you…

Back in the 1980s, I remember reading a news story about a disgruntled man named James Huberty. Huberty had a bumper sticker on his car that read “I’M NOT DEAF, I’M IGNORING YOU.” At age 41 in July 1984, Huberty was known for being cranky and “sour” and raging at his wife, Etna, and their two daughters, Zelia and Cassandra. Originally from Canton, Ohio, Huberty had a degree in sociology, had learned how to embalm people in mortuary school, and often worked as a welder.

For some reason, on July 18, 1984, Mr. Huberty was in an especially foul mood. He visited a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California and went on a shooting spree, killing 21 people and injuring many others. Huberty was the 22nd person killed that day when he was fatally shot by a SWAT team sniper.

A news report remembering James Huberty’s rampage. At the time, gun violence wasn’t nearly as common as it is now.

The day before he went off the rails, James Huberty had called a mental health crisis line. The receptionist misspelled his name on intake as “Shouberty”. He had not indicated that his situation was an emergency, so his call was never returned. The morning of his shooting rampage, Huberty and his wife had taken their two daughters to the San Diego Zoo. Afterwards, they ate at a McDonald’s– different than the one where Huberty went on his spree. Later that afternoon, Huberty was leaving his home, and his wife asked him where he was going. He said he was “hunting humans” and that “society had its chance.” Mrs. Huberty never reported this behavior, bizarre as it was. A witness saw Huberty leaving his apartment and heading down San Ysidro Boulevard with two firearms. The witness notified the police, but the dispatcher gave the reporting officers the wrong address.

At 3:40pm, Huberty began his massacre. It went on for 77 horrifying minutes. Huberty discharged 257 rounds of ammunition before he was finally killed by a sniper. As he was killing people, Huberty declared that he’d killed thousands of people in Vietnam. However, he never spent any time in the military. A couple of years later, Etna Huberty unsuccessfully sued McDonald’s and Huberty’s employer, Babcock and Wilcox. She claimed that the unlucky combination of McDonald’s food and the heavy metals Huberty was exposed to at work had caused him to go crazy.

What has me thinking and writing about James Huberty today? I’m not sure. I remember when that shooting occurred. I was twelve years old, and my parents subscribed to Newsweek magazine. I remember reading an article about the massacre and seeing pictures of the horrified people who were involved in the attack. I didn’t remember the details of the shooting until I read up on them this morning. What I did remember was the testy bumper sticker Huberty had on his car– “I’M NOT DEAF, I’M IGNORING YOU.”

I’m feeling kind of like Huberty today. No, I don’t have any plans to shoot up a McDonald’s. I’m not that off kilter. I don’t own any guns and don’t feel like getting dressed, anyway. But I am feeling sort of testy. I think it’s a combination of being bored and being perimenopausal and hormonal, and spending too much time connected to electronic devices. My allergies are acting up, my boobs are itchy and sensitive, I’m ragging, and I’m hungry. On top of that, my Facebook feed is alternately riddled with annoying comments by overly helpful people and ads for “cute” face masks being marketed as gifts. How bizarre is it that a year ago, fashionable face masks weren’t a thing. Now we have people marketing masks with Bea Arthur and various dog breeds on them. And it just reminds me of how irritating things can be… especially when we have leaders who don’t really care and are only interested in lining their pockets and staying in power.

For some reason, these kinds of ads are irritating to me today. I guess I should just remind myself that styles change.

Back in the 80s, the phone was really the only device where people could invade your home and irritate you at will. Nowadays, we have email, a plethora of social media platforms, instant messaging, Facebook groups, and, of course, blogs. And when I’m already feeling irritable due to my special time of the month, I have less patience for people than usual. I should probably exercise some self-control and do something old fashioned, like read an actual book or watch television. The skies are cloudy this morning which means that there could be rain. I think I’d like that. The air is full of pollen, which is making me hack, wheeze, and cough, even though I’ve had no close exposure to other people and am definitely not sick.

Anyway… even though James Huberty was a total bastard for killing so many people, maybe the sentiment on his bumper sticker wasn’t such a bad idea. Perhaps it’s time I logged off and plunged back into the offline world. If I don’t respond to an unsolicited PM, “overly helpful” Facebook comment, or text message, just know– “I’M NOT DEAF, I’M IGNORING YOU.” But then, none of those novel modes of communication require the ability to hear. I guess that makes the sentiment expressed in Huberty’s quaint bumper sticker even more interesting.

Hope you have a healthy and annoyance free Monday, wherever you are.

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