Arran let me “sleep in” until about 5:30am. I finally got up because his stomach was gurgling so much that I couldn’t ignore it. He’s been having some issues lately with his stomach and bowels. The vet reports that he has no parasites, so there must be something else going on that will probably smack us in the face soon. He was happy to eat his breakfast, though, and went back to bed. I am now wide awake, having just read more articles on the Internet that have me feeling a bit triggered.
Just because Texas no longer has a state mandate requiring face masks, that doesn’t mean individual businesses aren’t going to require people to wear them. So the onus will be on low paid workers to enforce the rules. Also consider that Texas is loaded with people who carry weapons, many of whom are a bit unhinged. I don’t have the scientific data on this, but I did used to live in Texas, in a relatively liberal part of the state. I saw a lot of crazy shit, and that was during the somewhat sane Obama era. So it’ll be interesting to see where this decision leads.
I did have a good time reading the comments, though… One person described himself as a “front line worker” who was glad to see the mandate go. He wrote that he doesn’t like wearing masks and he thinks people should be able to decide for themselves. Naturally, that upset a lot of people, who just piled on this guy. One dude cited his own experience in the military as he went after the mask free front line worker. But then it turned out the front line worker had also been in the military and got out. The first guy assumed front line guy couldn’t “hack it”. Front line guy said he was tired of being deployed to Iraq. I can’t blame him for that. Below are a few of the best comments in response to this statement:
“My heart goes out to all of the frontline workers impacted by these decisions. Their work has been hard enough. They deserve better.”
While I personally do think it’s a bad idea to re-open everything completely and live as normal, I do think it’s cool that “Mario” calmly took on all the virtue signalers and their tired arguments. I don’t understand why people feel the need to spout off the same crap when someone is obviously going against the grain. I mean, I’m sure Mario has heard that masks supposedly protect other people. I’m sure he’s heard the stupid seatbelt analogy (which, in my opinion, is truly not a good comparison). All he’s said is that he doesn’t like wearing masks and supports people’s rights to choose for themselves. For simply stating that, he gets a whole shitload of blowback, some of which was pretty embarrassing for those who swung and missed.
Why is it that so few people can simply let someone voice an opinion? Why do we have to quash comments by those who go against the grain? Is it really so dangerous for people to speak their minds? You’d think COVID-19 safety measures are akin to the Bible. Going against what the so-called experts say is akin to actual sacrilege to some people. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to stay away from people as much as possible. That’s what I do. I comply with the mask rules, but I hate them and expect that they’re temporary. But God forbid I say that out loud. I’ll get a whole load of people who are graduates of the Google School of Public Health trying to school me on COVID-19.
How is it that I, someone who has actually gone to graduate school and earned a MPH from an accredited program, can’t be on the “masks and closures forever bandwagon” with everyone else? Well… truth be told, I have a feeling that if you were to poll people with healthcare backgrounds, you might find that their personal opinions on this issue probably run the gamut. But the ones who disagree with the official opinions don’t say so, because if they do, they have to deal with backlash like that above and people questioning their competence and intelligence. So while I don’t necessarily agree with Mario’s opinions, I give him credit for having the guts to speak up and take on all of the people who feel the need to correct his opinions and quash his freedom of expression.
The truth is, even if everyone on the planet wore a mask 24/7, people would still get sick and die. And being masked up 24/7 is not a great way to live, for so many reasons. I think people really need to think seriously about that. It doesn’t mean I’m non-compliant, immature, stupid, or selfish to say that, either. But so many people have a knee jerk reaction to anyone who says something that isn’t the norm, especially when it comes to COVID-19. It’s ridiculous, and it shows a serious lack of critical thinking skills. Yes, masks are a good idea for now. But they shouldn’t be a permanent solution. That’s why I think they aren’t akin to seatbelts. And even if I’m totally wrong, I think it’s a mistake to discourage people from sharing their opinions. Information can’t evolve if everyone always says and only believes the same things. Someone has to think outside of the box for innovation to happen.
I also don’t like how people make assumptions about perfect strangers who dare to speak their minds. I don’t know Mario at all. He could be a fabulous guy. So could all the other people commenting. But we’ve gotten so accustomed to just ripping people’s heads off because we’re behind screens and can’t stand dissenting opinions. It’s alarming how uncivil people are in the Internet age.
Anyway… moving on, because I’ve written about this ad nauseam and I’m tired of it.
The next article I want to comment on is about how scientists are concerned that there hasn’t been a COVID-19 baby boom. Apparently, experts expected that there would be a big increase in babies born thanks to the lockdowns. That didn’t happen. In December 2020, which was nine months after the lockdowns began, health departments in the United States reported a 7% drop in births. And this is causing upset, because of our aging population. From the article:
“We need to have enough working-age people to carry the load of these seniors, who deserve their retirement, they deserve all their entitlements, and they’re gonna live out another 30 years. Nobody in the history of the globe has had so many older people to deal with.”
Okay… first off, when I was getting my MPH, I heard about our “aging population”. I distinctly remember hearing that when smoking fell out of fashion, it put a strain on our healthcare system. People were living longer and developing more chronic diseases. That was causing them to use the healthcare system more, which ran up costs and crowded the hospitals. Yes, it’s a good thing overall that people are smoking less, but now we have a new problem. I finished my MPH in 2002, so it wasn’t that long ago…
Now, it’s 2021, and we have a public health crisis. It won’t be the last one. However, I’ve been hearing for YEARS how overpopulated the Earth is, and how we don’t have enough resources for everyone. I have also seen how shitty things are getting… from global warming and the ensuing natural disasters, to the lack of social justice, to children being forced to go to school at home to avoid a deadly virus. Why in the hell would any sane person want to have a bunch of kids now– sane being the operative word?
I am 48 years old, and I paid off my student loans in 2018. I have yet to own my own home. Imagine if I’d had children and they were trying to launch at a time when there’s massive unemployment and disease. When I was a young person, I could always go work in a restaurant or service industry if I needed to make some money. Right now, people in the restaurant and service industries are hurting because there aren’t any jobs for them during a pandemic. A lot of those jobs depend on tips. If no one is allowed to go out to eat, there go the tips. And I’m sure finding a job is very difficult right now. People go back to school to avoid shitty job markets, run up bills and take out loans… and then they graduate to this shit and wind up financially ruined.
I am fortunate that my mom and Bill’s mom are both very independent. I have friends who are not only trying to raise kids and pay off their student loans, but are also having to support their elderly parents. Children and the elderly are also groups of people who need supervision, and that costs money, too. Both childcare and senior care are very expensive. So I don’t blame people for not reproducing. I always wanted children, but in retrospect, it’s probably a blessing that I never had any kids.
I mentioned this in the Duggar Family News group, and someone basically responded to me with what I quoted above. Not having enough babies means there will eventually be no one to take care of the “old folks”. Well, pardon me, but I think that’s a really stupid reason to have kids… just so there are people around to take care of the elderly. People should have kids because they want to be parents and are up to doing the job of raising them well and providing for them. They shouldn’t have kids just in case one or more of them might want to work in healthcare. That’s ridiculous. Moreover, we all have to die. Maybe we should rethink saving lives at all costs. Dying isn’t the worst thing to happen to a person.
I think there’s little to worry about, though. Justin Duggar just got married. He’s 18, and his wife, Claire, is 20. They’ll probably start popping out kids soon. His siblings, likewise, are pairing up and popping out babies. Yes, those kids are going to grow up Quiverfull, but maybe some will break out of the fundie cult and be “normal”. Anyway… all of this makes me think I might want to look again at buying longterm care insurance. But even then, chances are, I’ll be alone when I’m an old woman… if the virus doesn’t get me first.
Joe Biden has stated that doing away with mask mandates is “Neanderthal thinking”. I think that’s a poor choice of words, given how many of us have close ties to Neanderthals. I found this out thanks to 23andMe. He might want to rethink disparaging the Neanderthals… they’re probably craftier than the average Trump supporting Texan.
This morning, as my eyes were opening to another Friday, I checked my Facebook notifications. I noticed I got a comment from someone I don’t know. It was in response to a comment I made five days ago on a conservative friend’s meme.
I usually try not to comment too much on other people’s political posts. The reason why I have that policy is because I’ve found that I don’t enjoy getting sucked into arguments with people I don’t know. I also think it’s kind of rude to try to impress my opposing views on someone else’s page. I’d rather do that on my own page or on my blog. But I couldn’t help myself… because not only did I disagree with the meme, I also got triggered by poor spelling.
My response to this meme was “*your… and many people hate him for good reason.” When my friend wrote that she hadn’t written the meme and knows the difference between “you’re” and “your”, I explained that one of my pet peeves is when something is supposedly shared as “wisdom”, but isn’t even properly written. Ordinarily, I do scroll past, but sometimes I slip.
I think this particular post was about Trump, although this same friend also posted how disgusted she is that people are “celebrating” Rush Limbaugh’s death. That post has, at this writing, swelled to over 119 comments, with some people trying to justify their negative opinions and feelings, and others shaming them for having and expressing them. A healthy smattering of “I wasn’t his biggest fan, but…” comments were also included.
This morning, I noticed the comment I made on the above post five days ago got a response from some confrontational guy I don’t know. He wrote:
Hate who and what good reason?
And my response was, “You should have asked me five days ago. “
I don’t like it when people revive stuff that died ages ago. It’s like having a conversation with someone and, a few days later, having some uninvolved stranger ask me about it. I also don’t like it when some stranger confronts me for my response to a friend. Dude, I wasn’t talking to you, and if you wanted to address my thoughts on Mr. Trump, you should have done it before the discussion effectively ended days ago.
I think this guy was just feeling energized and wanted to stir up some shit. My hunch was confirmed when I noticed his comments on the aforementioned Limbaugh thread. I did not comment on that thread myself, but I can see that it generated a lot of controversy. Most of the comments were made by women, and most of the women are quite intelligent and articulate. Naturally, intelligent and articulate comments from women sometimes invite dumb commentary from mansplaining men. One lady wrote this:
I adore you, but I don’t think it’s fair to condemn people that hate Rush and celebrate his death. This is a man who celebrated the death of gay people from AIDS on air with whistles etc. That is just one example of his heinous behaviour. Some people are entitled to their hatred of him and that is a good and healthy thing. My brother in law is gay and men like Rush have attacked him intending to cause harm. So no pity, no sorrow or sympathy for him and his family. He had no sympathy for other people’s families when he mocked and celebrated their deaths. Everyone has a story and we shouldn’t judge before we know it.
The same guy who confronted me about my comment had this to say to the woman who defended those who disliked Rush Limbaugh and are glad he’s dead. He wrote:
Have we become so polarizes that we no longer offer grace to those who repent publicly. He apologized and said that that was “the most regretful thing Ive ever done. “He was on radio waves 3 hours a day for 30 years. Of course, he, like anyone else, is going to say something regretful. Can you honestly say that you didn’t say something 20-30 years ago that today would be considered hateful? More than that, have you ever been offered the gift of forgiveness? Maybe I’ve got you all wrong. Maybe you are the shining jewel of perfection in this sea of scum and villany in the world…idk..maybe you’ve never had to have been forgiven. But if you have, maybe, for the sake of unity, stop celebrating the death of human or promoting it. Hatred only produces more hatred.
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. There is a HUGE difference between saying something regrettable once or twice 30 years ago, and saying regrettable things EVERY DAY for over 30 years. Apologies are all well and good, but they are absolutely meaningless if the bad behavior continues. I don’t think Rush Limbaugh ever seriously repented. He still said a lot of really offensive and fucked up shit that hurt people. As someone who clearly honors the “good book”, the dude who was shaming those who were cheering about Rush’s death might want to remember that age old proverb from the Bible. You reap what you sow.
Personally, I didn’t follow Rush Limbaugh. I remember hearing his program at my granny’s house and my father watching his show on TV in the 1990s. I could barely stand to listen to him, so I didn’t pay attention to, and consequently wasn’t affected by, the more inflammatory things he said. Other people did listen, and a lot of them didn’t like what they heard. They were hurt and offended by Rush Limbaugh. Conversely, some people loved what Rush said, and are genuinely sad that his life is finished.
I think both groups have the right to have and express their opinions. I’d want and expect people to respect my right to have and state my own opinions. I can’t, in good conscience, want and expect that for myself and not for others. I can understand why many people legitimately hated Limbaugh and are glad he’s dead. I can also understand why others loved what he had to say, even if I disagree.
In yesterday’s post, I wrote that I am not in any of the groups Rush openly mocked. One of my readers corrected me, saying that as a woman, I am in a group Rush mocked. She says he was a misogynist. She’s probably right about that, but when I made that comment, I meant that I’m not in any of the groups that Rush had a special habit of tormenting, like homosexuals and people of color. But then, I do call myself the “overeducated housewife”, and I realize that Rush probably would have ridiculed me for that. Lots of people do. In yesterday’s post, I included a video of Rush insulting a woman he considered “overeducated” as opposed to “intelligent”. I disagree with Rush Limbaugh that the woman wasn’t intelligent, as well as educated, but kudos to him for sort of understanding the term “overeducated” as I view it.
I have gotten LOTS of shit from people about the name of my blog, especially in the military community. Many people in the military community like to laugh at those they think of as “butthurt”, although they don’t seem to like it so much when they get labeled and laughed at the same way. They also like to make fun of anyone who doesn’t fit the norm. God forbid you’re an intelligent woman who went to graduate school and dared to marry a man in the military. The people who are offended by my blog’s title probably hate people like me even more than they hate so-called “dependas“.
Smart women can be most threatening to men in the military culture because they’re not as easily controlled or impressed by them. And despite their bravado and the hot air they spew about their service, I have found that underneath that exterior, a lot of them are closed-minded cowards. For instance, instead of actually talking to me and finding out the origin of my blog’s name, these narrow minded folks will simply make assumptions about the kind of person they think I am.
They’ll assume I’m arrogant and disdainful, looking down on them for not going to college. They will hate me for existing and having a voice. They have no problem trying to put me in my place, sometimes aggressively, and with hateful, misogynistic language like Rush Limbaugh’s. And then, when I respond in a way that ends up embarrassing or humiliating them, many of them do, indeed, get quite “butthurt” about it. I’ve been blocked by them so many times! It’s not just the men, though. Some of the women hate me, too. Not only do I have three degrees and work as a “housewife” (horrors), but I also never managed to have any children! I’m also fat, not particularly pretty, probably a lousy lay, and I don’t put out very often. So what the hell good am I? (/facetious)
The people who have given me a hard time about the name of my blog are mostly folks who haven’t stopped to wonder why anyone would call themselves “overeducated”. For those who do wonder about that, here’s an explanation of why I titled my blog “The Overeducated Housewife”. I am a housewife. I have three college degrees. I don’t need three college degrees to do what I do every day. I am literally overeducated for my lot in life.
People have pointed out to me that it’s “impossible” to be overeducated. It may surprise them to know that, in theory, I agree with them. The name of my blog wasn’t meant to be taken so seriously or literally. And I never thought it might cause annoyance or offense, because when I first started writing it, I didn’t share it with others. The title was meant to be taken tongue in cheek, and was just something I came up with one day. I’m not the first or even the only person to call a blog “the overeducated housewife”, either. However, I probably am the most persistent and prolific one.
I was cleaning the toilets one day in March 2010. We were living in Georgia, and my husband was still on active duty. We had only just moved to Georgia, having come from Germany, and I knew we would soon be moving again, as Fort McPherson was going to be closing. I knew our time at the next installation, which turned out to be Fort Bragg, would also be short. So there was really no reason to try to get my career launched, because I knew I might spend months job hunting, only to have to move yet again.
As I squirted blue toilet detergent into the commode and commenced to cleaning and disinfecting, it occurred to me that I’d spent seven years in college, fully expecting to launch a paying career. Then I fell in love with a soldier, married him, and commenced to moving multiple times. It would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for me to launch a career in the field I trained for in graduate school and still be with my husband, so I eventually decided to just be a housewife. Then I started writing, which is what I’d wanted to do in the first place. I don’t make a lot of money doing what I do, and some perspective challenged people would say I don’t really have a job or even a “purpose”. But it’s all worked out fine, even if it’s not what I planned for myself.
If I had known that I would be vacuuming and scrubbing toilets instead of being a public health social worker, I certainly would not have gone to graduate school. Not that I regret the experience, mind you. I learned a lot, proved to myself that I could do it, and had some truly excellent experiences. But I would have preferred to save the money. It seems like I wasted a lot of time on something that didn’t come to fruition in the way I hoped it would. On the other hand, I can’t truthfully say that I don’t use that education. So maybe it wasn’t such a waste.
I think the guy who called me out and took another one of our mutual Facebook friend’s friends to task is a bit “perspective challenged”. It’s obvious that he’s one of the people who liked Rush Limbaugh’s messages. Or, even if he wasn’t a Rush Limbaugh fan, he feels compelled to check and correct the thoughts, opinions, and behaviors of other people. He’s obviously uncomfortable letting people be who they are. I wonder why that is.
It may be time to close this post, as I’ve pontificated quite a bit already. However, in the interest of annoying those who don’t like that I get “hung up” on comments and like to criticize me for that, I’m going to relay another story. I hope you’ll bear with me, even though this part probably warrants a new post.
This morning in my Facebook memories, I noticed a post that got quite contentious. It was from seven years ago, when Bill and I lived in Texas. He was just a few months from retirement and we were about to experience one of the worst summers of our lives before we finally moved back to Germany. At that time, I was still kind of fixated on Mormonism and resentful of people who felt it was their duty to “correct” other people’s morals.
I had shared an article from the Salt Lake Tribune about a woman named Judy Cox. She was in the news because she’d been shopping with her 18 year old son at the University Mall in Orem, Utah, when she noticed some t-shirts on display at a store called PacSun. Cox didn’t like the t-shirts. She found them “indecent” and akin to pornography. So she complained to the store manager, requesting that they be removed from the window display. The manager told Mrs. Cox that the shirts couldn’t be removed without approval from the corporate office. So Cox decided that she would take matters into her own hands. She bought every single t-shirt, spending about $567. She vowed that she would eventually return them at the end of the store’s 60-day return period.
The photo that accompanied the news article was pretty funny. Judy Cox wore an expression of utter disgust. She looked like someone had just taken a dump in her living room or something. I thought it was funny, so I proceeded to make fun of Judy Cox’s photo. I will admit, it wasn’t particularly mature behavior on my part, but I have never claimed to be a super mature person, especially on social media. A few others joined in and we enjoyed some laughs.
Well… it wasn’t long before we felt the wrath of Papa Smurf. His name wasn’t really Papa Smurf. I just called him that because a lot of us knew him from Epinions.com and he often acted like he wanted to be everybody’s daddy and the voice of reason. If you’ve read my blogs for any length of time, you might know that I disdain “overly helpful voice of reason” types. I may act like an adolescent sometimes, but I already have a mom and dad and I’m 48 fucking years old. If I’m not grown up yet, it’s probably not gonna happen.
Anyway, Papa Smurf, who was visiting my page, wrote this:
Talk about teen kids bullying on a web site. Some of you need to look at yourselves. Just because this woman took an action you may not believe in, doesn’t mean you need to disrespect her in personal ways. Just sayin’.
Horrors! I just got upbraided by Papa Smurf. I wasn’t impressed, so I posted “Thanks for the lecture.”
A couple of other people chimed in, rejecting Papa Smurf’s self-righteous discipline. One person, who had insinuated that Cox had a stick up her ass, wrote “You mean like the sharp pointy stick? I confess I don’t know for a fact that she has one.”
Papa Smurf came back, still a bit butthurt, since his attempt to check us hooligans hadn’t worked and we weren’t suitably chastened. He wrote:
You mean about disrespecting this woman in many ways because she has a different mindset than many of you. No, I don’t believe the ends justifies the meanness. I could respect those who would express why they differ in views in regard to her actions but this petty vindictiveness shows a dark side to our supposed new and enlightened world.
Incidentally, Papa Smurf is a card carrying Trumper and probably mourns Rush Limbaugh. He’s no longer a “friend”, so I don’t know if he is or isn’t a Limbaugh fan. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if he is upset that Rush died and people are dancing in the streets about it.
I wrote this in response to Papa Smurf:
I’m sure she is a very nice lady when she’s not scowling over piles of t-shirts that she claims are indecent. In the above photo, she genuinely looks like a barrel of laughs. Frankly, all she’s done is draw more attention to the product she seeks to have banned which kind of defeats her stated goals. I don’t see what is respectable about that. I also tend to be disrespectful toward people who presume to tell other adults what is and isn’t appropriate. It’s her choice to waste her money if she wants to, but I don’t have to respect her for it.
And Papa Smurf wrote, “Please spare me. Be well.” (ugh… where’s my violin?)
You would think this would be the end of the shamefest, right? But it wasn’t. Although he kept saying he was leaving, he continued to read and respond to the comments. One person eventually called Papa Smurf out for bullying us with his overbearing shaming and lecturing. Not willing to honor his comment that he’d be taking his leave, Papa Smurf wrote:
…if you read the article you would know she had no plans to keep the merchandise. Upset? You ask. I suppose reading she needs to get laid. Needs beers. Has a stick supporting her and all just didn’t sit right. As you were. Enjoy yourselves. I spoke my mind and now I’m atta here.
(actually, I didn’t say she needed beers… I said she’s a “case”– as in, one needs a case of beer to wake up next to her every morning… I suspect Papa Smurf is also a “case”.)
My friend hilariously quipped, “Aw, c’mon–please *stick* around. “
And Papa Smurf wrote, “I see you fidget to finally read the article. Again bye to all .” (huh?)
I tried to send him off with this… “Have fun riding your moral high horse off into the sunset.”
Another commenter wrote she thought it was funny that Papa Smurf got “chased off”. Papa Smurf didn’t like that, either, so he wrote rather maudlinly:
Chased off? Hardly. I just know I don’t belong at the “cool” table. (yeah, I’d say so…)
Then someone else attempted to validate Papa Smurf’s concerns about how “adolescent” we were being about this subject. Papa Smurf appreciated that, so he wrote this:
Your word, “adolescent,” is definitely a better discription. My point and yours seem to agree in that though we may disagree with someone, there’s no need to revert to “adolescents.” Cheap personal shots to me is disrespectful, doesn’t strengthen an argument and adds to divisiveness. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts in a clear thoughtful manner. (He’s thanking her for “stopping by” on my page? Does he go to other people’s homes and thank random visitors for “stopping by? What is he, a sovereign citizen?)
Ooh! A treat for the commenter who was giving Papa Smurf some credence! But it didn’t last long, because I finally got completely fed up and wrote this comment, which effectively shut down the tit for tat mansplaining bullshit:
Oh for God’s sake. I confess I often act like an adolescent and am generally not the most polite person in the world. Anyone who knows me well, already knows this about me. This is my Facebook page, though, and I feel free to post whatever I want on it and make whatever snarky comments I want to make. If you have a problem with that, hit the unfriend button. I guarantee that much worse things about this woman have been said and written elsewhere. As a general rule, I don’t go on other people’s pages and leave them self-righteous comments about the things they post. As rude as my comments may have been, I think publicly shaming someone on Facebook is also very rude.
Seriously… it started out as harmless funny banter about a woman’s over the top reaction to t-shirts that she thought were obscene. Judy Cox took it upon herself for decide for everyone else what is or is not morally acceptable. Who appointed her judge and jury of what is appropriate in fashion merchandising? While she was within her rights to buy up all the t-shirts, I take exception to her attitude that she needs to be the morality police for everyone else. It looks like she fully cooperated with being in the news, too. She’s probably the one who called the media, and it’s obvious that she willingly posed for the above photograph, complete with disgusted scowl. Moreover, her action was futile, because PacSun doesn’t care why she bought the shirts. They care that they got her money, and they no doubt sent a new shipment of shirts to the Orem store. And even if she did return them, all she really did was give them free advertising and make herself look like an uptight busybody. So yes, it was stupid on her part, and her “church lady” fart expression does make me think she badly needs to get laid. But then, I probably need to get laid, too.
Either way, no one wants or needs some random guy to come along to lecture everyone about their thoughts and opinions. Save that crap for your (minor) kids. Papa Smurf has much in common with the guy up post who was appealing to our sense of shame about Rush Limbaugh’s death. You may find it vulgar and disgusting to laugh at people, particularly those who have died. I often feel that way myself. But when it comes down to it, especially if you’re a religious person, your opinions about me are none of my business. God is the ultimate judge. I am not a particularly religious person anyway. Moreover, I guess it’s alright if you think I’m an asshole. I can’t help what you think. You have the right to your opinions, too. Please respect my right to my opinions and spare me the confrontations. I’d rather have a pap smear than be constructively criticized by some random guy who thinks I should be ashamed of myself. My days of tolerating that from anyone are OVER.
Yesterday’s post about Skylar Mack has attracted a lot of attention. Or, it’s attracted a lot of attention by this blog’s standards. This blog doesn’t usually get that much traffic. Ever since I switched platforms from Blogger to WordPress, my hit counts have been down. I’ve been slowly rebuilding my audience since February 2019, but if I’m honest, I’m not in a hurry to do so. I don’t blog for popularity or money. I blog because I feel compelled to write down my thoughts.
I have always been a writer at heart. I’ve always kept journals, even if I haven’t always been in the habit of writing every day. Feeling compelled to write is just one of my innate quirks. I choose to leave most of my posts public because I genuinely enjoy interacting with most people, even if they don’t agree with me. I often learn from comments and interactions with people. But sometimes my thoughts and opinions attract contention, and while a little bit of that is okay, too much can be distressing.
Yesterday’s post about Skylar Mack came about after I’d had a Facebook discussion with some friends about her case. I had posted about it because I read an article about Skylar Mack’s predicament in The New York Times. Then I read some of the comments posted on The New York Times’ Facebook page. The vast majority of the responses left by the masses were really negative. Some of the comments were personal, mean-spirited, and nasty, with some judgments about her character that I felt were unfair. I also read that she and her family were getting hate mail and death threats. That seems very wrong to me.
I started thinking about how I would feel if I were in Skylar’s shoes back in 1990, when I was her age. Like Skylar, I am white and blonde, and come from a relatively privileged family from the South. I can’t help any of those things. They just are what they are. Skylar also can’t help being white or privileged. She’s prettier than I was, and I certainly couldn’t have been a pre-med student because I don’t have a head for math and science, or a stomach for looking at blood and guts. But other than that, we have things in common.
First, it occurred to me that when I was 18, I had the benefit of relative privacy. There was no widespread Internet usage in those days, so people who were arrested could enjoy a lot more anonymity than they can today. Yes, your name might appear in the local newspapers, but not everybody reads the paper from cover to cover and there was no social media feed. Had Skylar Mack been 18 in 1990, she probably would have been arrested in the Cayman Islands and no one would have ever known about it. She also probably would not have gotten a four month prison sentence, because there would be no reason to make her an “example”. Americans would likely not be reading about what was going on in the Cayman Islands and thus would not likely be affected by how strict the local authorities appear to be.
Next, I imagined how I would feel if I were Skylar Mack, being arrested for the first time and having it happen in a foreign country. It would have been mortifying enough if this had happened in 1990, when I was 18. I would have been ashamed, humiliated, devastated, and horrified, without any of what happened being leaked widespread to the media. But in 1990, I would have had the ability to take my punishment without dealing with the court of public opinion chiming in.
Then I started thinking about what it must be like for Skylar and her family to be reading the vitriol being spewed about her case by total strangers around the world. So many people, who have never even met her and know nothing about her, were making sweeping negative statements about what kind of person she is. It occurred to me that while Skylar Mack made a huge mistake, she’s also done a lot of things right. I don’t think it’s right to condemn a person simply for screwing up. Everybody screws up sometimes. I wouldn’t want people to treat me or someone I care about in that way. It’s also not lost on me that Skylar’s family is likely responsible for putting this story out there.
Then I realized that Skylar Mack still has something to offer the world, despite having made a blunder. She has reportedly wanted to be a physician since she was a child. She’s been on the way to making that lofty goal come to fruition. But she’s also 18, and 18 year olds don’t magically become adults with common sense or maturity simply because they have become legal adults.
I have known a lot of teenagers who were very mature for their ages. And I have also known people well into their 30s and 40s who still act like children. I suspect that Skylar Mack is a typical 18 year old, who hasn’t quite crossed the bridge to maturity and is a bit self-absorbed. But, prior to this incident, she’s been on the right track. She still has so many years to go. To read some of the responses on The New York Times, you’d think she should be beheaded for simply wanting to have a good time.
Next I started looking at what actually happened. Skylar chose not to quarantine, but her choice not to quarantine did not harm anyone, as she was not infected. Yes, she could have spread COVID-19 by attending that jet ski competition. She also could have spread it by going to the grocery store or riding a bus. COVID-19 is, unfortunately, a very wily virus that spreads like crazy. I don’t think traveling right now is a smart decision, and I agree that she should have followed the guidelines set to slow and hopefully stop the virus from spreading. But when it comes down to it, she wasn’t a spreader. She could have been one, but she wasn’t, and she was tested twice, then quarantined for the two weeks she was supposed to quarantine. I think that point deserves consideration.
Then I started thinking about the length of the sentence and what it would accomplish. Skylar Mack is a productive young woman who is (or was) on her way to becoming a physician. There could be a day when she’s treating people with COVID-19. Right now, we need people who are willing and able to work with the sick. She did not show the best judgment last month, when she chose to ignore the quarantine regulations. But again, she’s 18 years old, and apparently not fully baked yet. Science has shown us that most people’s brains aren’t fully developed until they are 25 years old. Skylar still has another seven years before she’s 25. It’s perfectly normal for her to have lapses in judgment. From the link:
The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.
In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.
In teens’ brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.
Four months to someone who is 18 will seem a lot longer than it does to someone my age. Having had a look at the conditions of the jails in the Cayman Islands, it occurred to me that Skylar could have lasting psychological damage from being incarcerated down there. A 2018 article about the Northward Prison in the Cayman Islands describes the facilities as “filled to capacity”. An accompanying photograph shows a rather grim looking facility. Another 2018 article describes the women’s prison at Fairbanks as “overflowing”. I see no reason why those conditions would be different in 2020, although they could be.
So here we have a young woman who has never been in trouble with the law and is working toward becoming a much needed medical professional being locked up for months because she had a lapse in judgment– something that is scientifically proven to be very normal for 18 year olds. Her lapse in judgment, while disrespectful, irresponsible, and immature, didn’t actually harm anyone. She was not infected with COVID-19, as far as I know. So sitting in a prison cell would probably not do much more than give her nightmares and ruin what was a bright future.
Last night, just before I went to bed, I saw that the powers that be in the Cayman Islands agreed with me that Skylar’s punishment was too harsh. They reduced her sentence to two months, which I think is reasonable and sensible. She will get a taste of being incarcerated, but won’t have to languish in a jail cell until March. Plenty of people still think she should just sit and rot in jail and have her future ruined. I wonder if they would take an active interest in this case after reading the headlines. When February 2021 rolls around, are they still going to think Skylar Mack should rot in a cell? Or are they just blowing off steam and/or virtue signaling?
I could have added my own comment to The New York Times’ Facebook post. I opted to write a blog post instead, because I have found that people who comment on Facebook are not usually very deep thinkers. They have a knee jerk reaction to something, form an opinion, and spout off. And I am not interested in getting into a pointless argument with someone, especially a stranger, who makes sweeping assumptions about people without knowing the facts or even considering another perspective. That’s a waste of my time and energy, and does nothing more than raise my blood pressure. But I still felt the need to write, so I did.
One of my friends, whom I think leans conservative but wrote that she thinks Skylar should sit in prison, told me that she didn’t think my opinion was unpopular. She based her perspective on what her friends were saying. I could be wrong, but my guess is that a lot of “pro-Trump” types are aligning themselves with Eric Trump’s Tweeted comments about this case.
I think Eric Trump’s Tweet is likely less about genuine concern for Skylar Mack’s welfare and more about being a privileged and entitled American. That is NOT why I think Skylar’s sentence was rightfully reduced. I genuinely feel that Skylar’s originally amended sentence of four months was unfair and unproductive and could do more harm than good. I think she would get the point just as easily with two months in jail as she would with four months, and there might be fewer lasting effects that screw up her life. And my impressions of what people were thinking weren’t at all based on what my peers were saying; they were based on what total strangers by the thousands were commenting. I think many of those comments were made more out of anger, frustration, and not wanting to look like a “privileged American”, than any real thinking about what actually happened.
As an American who lives in Germany, trust me– I am very aware of how Americans look to others. I don’t want to look like that, either. But I also don’t think it’s right to punish Skylar more harshly simply because of where she came from and what she looks like. I have never met Skylar Mack, but I think she should get the benefit of the doubt, especially since she’s very young and this was her first offense. I’m sure she won’t make this mistake again.
I also became so resolute about this case because I don’t feel like I should be expected to agree with others, simply because others have an opinion that is more popular. Yesterday, several people seemed to be trying very hard to change my mind or convince me that my perspective is wrong, ill-considered, or flawed. Believe me. I have read why so many people think why Skylar Mack should rot in a cell. A lot of those people seem very focused on retribution rather than rehabilitation or genuine correction. I don’t think that is useful, especially since those who are assuming she’s an entitled little shit won’t even care about this in a few days, but this will affect Skylar’s future from now on.
All I did was share my opinion. At the end of the day, that’s all it is… an opinion. My opinion has no bearing on Skylar Mack’s case whatsoever. I never once said she should get off “scot free”. It seems that the local authorities in the Cayman Islands must have agreed with me, to some extent, because they did reduce her sentence by two months. I think that was a reasonable compromise. But the way some people behave, you’d think that sharing and defending my contrary opinion merits some kind of “re-education” effort, as if I can’t possibly see how wrong Skylar was to do what she did. I agree that she was wrong. I just don’t think her mistake merits public flogging and character assassination in addition to a jail sentence and a fine. Several people tried to “correct” my opinion about this case, even though an opinion is all it is. I think the world would be a very dull place if people weren’t allowed to make up their own minds and express themselves.
Like I said, in a matter of days, virtually no one will be talking about this case anymore. But if that four month sentence had stuck, Skylar would still be rotting in jail and potentially exposed to dangers that could permanently affect her health and livelihood. I think that’s worth considering. So that’s why I’ve written so much about this case and expressed myself so stubbornly as somewhat of an ally for Skylar. Plenty of people think she should rot. I want to be among those who think she still has something to offer the world and can redeem herself. I think she could use the support.
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