music, obits

Come Monday… a little tribute to Jimmy Buffett…

The featured photo is a screenshot of a photo I took in Key West, Florida, over Labor Day weekend in 2010.

I was pretty surprised the other day to read about Jimmy Buffett’s passing. I didn’t know that Jimmy had been ill. I get the sense a lot of regular people didn’t know he’d been ailing, although the singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop had posted on Facebook that he had a friend who was dying and he was going to pay him a last visit. Someone asked Stephen, who is very engaging on Facebook, if it had been Jimmy he’d gone to see. He confirmed that he did visit him on Friday and sang him a song, but he also had another friend (it turned out to be Gary Wright, of Dream Weaver fame, who died yesterday morning at age 80) who was dying that he planned to go see. Sir Paul McCartney also reportedly visited Mr. Buffett and sang for him one last time.

We sure have lost a lot of music legends this year. It’s reminding me a bit of 2016, when a whole host of amazing performers passed away in a short period of time. As a music fan, it’s sad for me, but I imagine it’s worse for those who know these luminaries in person, especially if they’re around the same age.

But yes… lots of great singers from my growing up years are moving on to the next big thing, whatever it is. I’ve been reading so many tributes to Jimmy Buffett, some from fellow celebrities who knew and loved him personally, and some friend my friends who loved him from afar. I have quite a few friends who were devoted Parrotheads and were genuinely distraught at the news that Jimmy Buffett’s rare skin cancer (Merkel cell) had turned into lymphoma. In Gloucester, Virginia, where there are many boats and people are decidedly southern, Buffett’s music was a natural soundtrack.

I always enjoyed Jimmy’s music, although I never managed to make it to any of his shows. I did have the chance to go a few times, but I think I was overwhelmed by the idea of so many people partying when I’m focused on the music. I’m not one for big crowds. However, so many of my friends went to his concerts and had a marvelous time. My college suitemate was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which is also where Jimmy was born. She happened to be there this week, as her beloved aunt who still lived there passed away. Apparently, my friend’s family lived in Jimmy’s old neighborhood and knew his family. She was really gutted to hear that Jimmy Buffett had joined her aunt on the other side.

As for me, whenever I hear Jimmy Buffett’s music, I’m reminded of being a student at Longwood University, a small school in a rural area, where, at least in the 90s, there wasn’t much to do but party. We played a lot of drinking games with Jimmy Buffett’s music in the background. It always reminds me of being in the South, which is, like it or not, my home… even if it is overrun with MAGA cretins. There was a time in my life, though, that I loved the South very much. I equated it with good times, southern drawls, laid back fashion, fattening food, fun music, and easy living. I still have those nostalgic memories, and Jimmy Buffett’s music is the perfect soundtrack for it.

Maybe it sounds strange to mention this, but when I heard of Jimmy Buffett’s skin cancer turning into lymphoma I was reminded of our last two dogs, both of whom had mast cell cancer (a type of skin cancer in dogs) that eventually turned into lymphoma. In fact, both dogs were diagnosed at this time of year– and one died just a week later on August 31, 2019, while the other got chemo for five months and died in the spring of 2023. I don’t know if skin cancer becoming lymphoma is a common thing in people, as it is in dogs, but it did cross my mind.

I guess Jimmy’s death from skin cancer one more reason to be very careful when you’re out and about in the sun, especially if you’re fair skinned. Bill had his first dermatology exam this year, because of some suspicious looking stuff on his skin. It turned out he’s okay. I probably should break down and get an exam, too. Maybe encouraging people to use sunscreen and get checked for skin cancer could be one more thing Jimmy does for humanity, besides writing gentle, poignant, funny, and comforting anthems for the world.

Anyway… I did enjoy a Margarita on Saturday, remembering Jimmy’s music, and how it made my youth better. Some of his songs never fail to make me smile, especially the live versions. I know it’s not the same as being there in person, but I can tell by the roar of the crowd on those live albums that Jimmy was one hell of an entertainer. He wrote books and ran restaurants, too. In fact, Bill and I had the chance to visit his Key West Margaritaville outlet, over Labor Day weekend in 2010. Naturally, I enjoyed a Margarita there.

From our trip to Key West, ages ago…
Of course I had my Margarita in a hurricane glass…

And below is one of my favorite Buffett songs, ever… This one always makes me laugh.

Jimmy says he wrote this song with Glenn Frey… and now they’re probably partying up in the heavens.

And no tribute would be complete without this infamous song… ๐Ÿ˜€

I heard this so many times when I was in college… but I didn’t heed the suggestion until 8 years after graduation. ๐Ÿ˜€

I do like the music, but those crowds are insane! He made so many people happy, though! It just seems like the world is a dimmer place without a little Buffett in it. He had such a tremendous gift for spreading the fun to everyone. That is such a rare thing. So I can see why so many of my friends are so sad to lose Jimmy. He was one of a kind.

All weekend, I’ve been thinking about whether or not I wanted to do a musical tribute. I decided today I would try one of Jimmy’s songs… So here it is. I hope a few people like it.

I figure it fits, since today is Labor Day…

As a child of the 70s and 80s, it’s hard for me to see so many great singers from my youth passing on. It’s a grim reminder that I’m no longer a spring chicken myself… especially as my sister, Sarah (who is 8 years older than I am), and I have both seen members of our high school classes pass away recently. In her case, the person was her first boyfriend when we moved to Gloucester County in Virginia, back in 1980. In my case, it was a guy I knew because we shared a lot of classes. I don’t think he liked me very much back then… and probably never thought of me again once we graduated. But I was sure saddened and surprised to see that he’d been ill and passed away at just 51 years of age. I guess these things are just a reminder not to sweat the small stuff or take things for granted. Because, before you know it, it’s time to move on to the next big thing yourself.

Somehow, it seems fitting that Jimmy Buffett would pass away on September 1. His music has always epitomized summer and good times to me… and especially Labor Day weekend, which is also special to me, because that was when Bill and I realized we were in love, back in 2001. So, wherever Jimmy is, I hope he’s at peace. His music will always bring back golden memories for me… and remind me of home. May God bless his soul.

Standard
animals, family, nostalgia, YouTube

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Mmm’kay… now that the drama of the past few days has passed, it’s time to get back to “work”. I know not everyone considers what I do “work”, but what do they know? Maybe I’m just one of those people whose true worth won’t be known until after I’m dead. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s just after 9:00 AM, here in the land of Beer, Brats, and Broetchen. I’ve already gotten a few things done. I washed the sheets, cleaned Noyzi’s food and water bowls and refilled the water, did some more work on migrating and organizing my massive music collection to the newer computer, and paid a bill. And now I’m sitting here wondering if I want to upset my stomach by thinking about the news of the world.

I know I haven’t been writing as much about current events lately, but trust me, I’ve been watching what’s going on. I suppose it depresses me too much to comment on the epic political shitshow that is projected for 2024. I hate the idea of DeSantis or Trump in the White House. I’m not overly excited about another four years with Biden, either, mainly because he is so elderly and people say such awful things about him. I know it probably wouldn’t be any different with another candidate in power, but at least someone younger and more dynamic would seem more like a fair target. I have respect for Joe Biden. He truly inherited a circus when he entered the White House. It can’t be easy cleaning up Donald Trump’s messes… especially give his penchant for Big Macs and Whoppers.

I was never a fan of politics. Today’s political scene is especially heartbreaking to me, when I see idiots like Lauren Boebert holding court. I’m not proud of it, but whenever I hear her speak, I have a tendency to hurl insults at the TV. I respond to her much like I respond to hearing Trump speak. It’s safe to say that I despise her, and her ilk. But I didn’t used to be anti-conservative at all. In fact, for well over half my life, I identified as a Republican. Not anymore.

This morning, as Bill and I were having breakfast, we talked a bit more about what went down over the past few days. I wrote down my honest and candid thoughts in my blog, as if I were writing in a diary. I upset someone in my family, who in fairness, upset me first. It’s regrettable when people are negatively impacted by the things I do. However, I think I can glean some good stuff from my posts… and if I can, I’ll bet others can, too.

For instance, yesterday I wrote about the “Bless your heart” mentality so prevalent in the South, and how it leads to excessive bullshitting. Some years ago, I remember hearing an interesting metaphor about the different types of people one encounters in life. I don’t remember exactly where I heard this concept, but it’s stuck with me. And, forgive me, but I’ve also written about this previously. In the interest of full disclosure, here’s a link.

Some people are like “peaches”. They are soft, fleshy, fuzzy, and sweet on the outside. They look and smell delicious, and they attract everyone with their mainstream appeal. But, deep down, they have hearts of stone. I picture the stereotypical mean Queen Bee bitch who’s all “honey lippin'” sweetness and light to everyone to their faces, but then stabs them in the back. I think some southern people are kind of like this by nature– or by virtue of that whole “Bless your heart” mentality that we have down there. Be “nice”, no matter what… even if you’re being profoundly disingenuous.

Other people are more like coconuts. They have rough, tough, hard outer shells that are abrasive to the touch. They aren’t easy to crack, nor are they easy to enjoy, but beneath that rough exterior, there’s exotic sweetness that can be very refreshing. I picture the weird, grouchy, eccentric old lady on the corner who is a wonderful, sensitive artist or talented musician… or tells wonderful, vivid stories to enchanted children. The lady who collects homeless cats or dogs and lovingly cares for them as she screams at people to get off her lawn might be more of a “coconut”. I think of certain northern folks as coconuts– the people who are very gruff in the subway station as they help you validate your ticket.

And then there are people who are just plain nuts, like me… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Crunchy, salty, and occasionally oily, maybe? I don’t know. Or maybe I’m more like a crab… or a lobster, like Leon, the lucky crustacean who was rescued from a grocery store by an enterprising YouTuber who makes educational videos about him.

The latest on Leon…

I like peaches, and I like coconuts and nuts in moderation… I’m not a fan of eating crabs, although it’s fun to catch them in rivers. It’s probably fun to catch them from certain sexual partners, too, but the aftermath isn’t much fun. I suppose I could say that I enjoy people who resemble those types, too. I have some friends who are like peaches, and a few who are like coconuts. Having a hard “stone pit like” heart doesn’t always mean someone is inherently evil. And being sweet and fluffy on the inside doesn’t always a person is easy to love, once you break the shell.

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in Gloucester, Virginia, which is a small, conservative, southern town in Virginia. I didn’t like Gloucester when we first moved there. Even though I was born in Hampton, which isn’t that far away from there, moving to Gloucester in 1980 was a big culture shock to me. It took a long time for me to appreciate Gloucester. I don’t think I ever really liked it when I lived there, although I did eventually fit in better, and other kids finally stopped bullying me. Now that I’m an adult, I appreciate it a whole lot more. Not enough to move back there, mind you… but more than I did when I was a child. It is a beautiful place with really good people… many of whom are very religious and politically conservative, and like to catch and eat crabs.

Unlike my sisters, I had the experience of mostly growing up in one town. I lived in Gloucester from the age of eight until I went to college at age 18. Then I boomeranged there back a couple of times before I finally left for good at age 27. Like it or not, that place had a huge effect on me. Even today, there are still a lot of people there who know me. One of them left me a comment on my link to yesterday’s post. She and I have probably known each other since 1981 or so… Her mom and my dad used to sing duets in church. We are the same age, and graduated in the same class. She also went to Longwood for awhile, although she didn’t graduate from there.

My old friend had kind words for me yesterday, which I really appreciated. Another friend also had kind words, even though we have never met offline. I think both of those ladies, who are living in the South, might understand the whole “bless your heart” thing… where you are expected to be nice, even if it means being dishonest. The weird thing is, I was always proud of being southern… but now, I feel divorced from the culture.

In fact, I feel divorced from my family, too. It would be easy for me to blow off what happened the other day, with my cousin’s wife. But it’s not the first online altercation I’ve had with people in my family, and I’m feeling pretty estranged now… like, most of them are now strangers and don’t care about me. It makes me glad there’s an ocean between us… even though there are lots of times when I wish I could live in my own country. I don’t know when, or even if, we’re going to move back there. Situations like this make staying abroad more appealing. I don’t want to fly eight hours on a plane to go home to people who are shitty to me because of petty Facebook dramas. But, like I wrote yesterday, most of them don’t understand me anyway… and seem unwilling to try. The bright side is, I don’t feel guilty when I plan lavish Nordic vacations instead of not having gone home to see my mom for the past 8 years. Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing my mom. She’s got common sense, and a sense of humor.

A couple of years ago, Bill and I met a German woman at a Christmas market. It turned out she had lived in the United States for some time, working for Seagrams in Tennessee. We traded a couple of stories about our experiences living in different countries from our origins. She looked at us with empathy and said, “The United States will never be the same for you again. You have now become Europeanized.”

She’s right. I don’t see the USA the way I did when I was younger. I don’t see “home” in the same way, either. Germany’s not quite “home”, but it’s been where I’ve lived for over half my marriage. I don’t even speak the language, but it’s become a familiar and comfortable place to me… and in many ways, it’s more welcoming than home is. At least here, no one knows that much about me, or where I came from. And no one cares that much, either, except they usually do want to know what state we’re from. Germans, by and large, seem to love Florida… but I’m sure it’s strictly because of the beaches and beautiful (hot and sunny) weather. If they had to live there under Ron DeSantis and religious wackos, I suspect a lot of them would hate the place.

Well, it’s now getting close to 11:30 AM. My work on this post has been interrupted a few times by music migration breaks. I think I’ll end this entry and get on with the other activities of the day. Noyzi needs a walk, and my guitar is calling me for a quick practice session. Hopefully, I won’t alienate anyone with today’s musings… but if I do alienate anyone, I suspect they’ll just shitcan me without a second thought, too. Oh well.

Standard
true crime, videos, YouTube

YouTube introduces me to another compelling prison v-logger…

The unaltered featured photo comes courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I have always loved reading and hearing true stories. When I was growing up, I also loved reading fiction. I think I lost my love for reading most fiction when I was an English major in college. It was further eradicated when I lived in Armenia and most of the only reading material available in English was of the trashy romance novel type. I was so desperate to read something in English that I read the bodice rippers, anyway. I found a lot of the romance novels kind of depressing, probably because I didn’t have a love life to speak of in those days.

Nowadays most of my reading is all about biographies, autobiographies, current events, and the like… I like documentaries, too. There are still a couple of fiction authors I enjoy, but I have so many non-fiction books that I stay pretty busy… especially since I tend to fall asleep pretty quickly when I read these days. I need to buy a chair for reading, because I usually try to read in bed and it’s not long before I’m dead to the world.

I think my tendency to fall asleep when I read has also led to me watching more YouTube videos. YouTube has caused me to discover other true stories… many of which would have never been told in days past. YouTube can also offer a new beginning to people who otherwise might not have ever had one.

Take, for instance, Jessica Kent. She’s a popular YouTuber who has a channel all about her experiences in prison. I discovered her via Mama Doctor Jones, an OB-GYN who makes really excellent videos about women’s health issues. Someone asked Dr. Jones to react to Jessica’s video about giving birth when she was incarcerated in an Arkansas prison. I was so impressed by Jessica’s heartbreaking story that I checked out her channel and subscribed. In the old days, Jessica might not have been able to carve out a successful career after being in prison. But now, she has a thriving channel with 992k subscribers. She creates original content that people find compelling. I assume that’s allowed her to live a more law abiding life.

Jessica Kent has carved quite a career out of YouTube…

I write that “I assume”, because I really don’t know. She did make a few videos recently indicating that she’d had some issues lately with her (apparently former) significant other. I don’t want to speculate too much on the details, except to state that I think it’s pretty hard to go straight after an experience like prison. Jessica has a lot of empathy for prisoners, which is totally understandable. She was one herself. But a lot of people who have been incarcerated were incarcerated for good reason.

While many prisoners are basically decent people, the truth is, the majority of them did something that put them behind bars. They don’t always learn their lessons when they’re behind bars, which can make consorting with them risky, even if they seemed to have turned over a new leaf. See my book review on Shannon Moroneyโ€™s book about her ex husband, sex offender Jason Staples, for more on that.

Christina Randall is also a popular prison v-logger. She has 1.38 million subscribers, and covers true crime topics as well as her own experiences being incarcerated in Florida. I don’t watch her channel as much, but it looks like lately, she’s been focusing on recent true crime cases in the media, rather than telling her own stories. I know she and Jessica Kent have also collaborated. Personally, I prefer hearing the true stories from the people themselves, which is why I don’t follow Christina’s channel. But obviously, she’s compelling, and she has a lot of dedicated followers. If that keeps her out of prison, I say “more power to her”.

One of Christina’s videos about her own experiences.

Lately, I’ve been watching another channel, this time by a guy named “jumpsuitpablo”, who spent ten years in prison in South Carolina. He’s an up and coming YouTube talent, with 27.1k subscribers, at this writing. I find his content very compelling for a few reasons. First, I think he has a really nice speaking voice. It’s pleasant to listen to. He’s intelligent, and a good storyteller. Secondly, I lived in South Carolina for three years, so I’m interested in his experiences doing time in that state. And thirdly, he covers Alex Murdaugh. I don’t actually care that much about Murdaugh’s case, but that was what initially hooked me to jumpsuitpablo’s channel. I kept getting YouTube suggestions for the channel, based on Murdaugh’s case.

Alex Murdaugh’s case is a reminder that the mighty can fall pretty rapidly. Murdaugh was once a very successful attorney living the high life in South Carolina. Now, he’s a convict, being evaluated before he gets shuffled off to do his time. It so happens that jumpsuitpablo has actual experience being incarcerated in the same prison where Murdaugh is, and he knows people who are still there. So that gives him access to some very interesting content. But jumpsuitpablo also shares his own stories from his days as a prisoner. It’s fascinating stuff.

This is quite a harrowing story.
Yikes!
Then, when you get out, become a v-logger…

I guess in the old days, before we had YouTube, these folks might have written books about their experiences. But it takes a lot of time to write a book, and back before the Internet, it wasn’t so easy to get published… even if you self-published. Nowadays, anyone can write a book, or become a video star, or even a music star. I know some people lament this form of progress, because it makes it harder for people who do things the “old-fashioned” way. But frankly, I’m glad to see people who were once incarcerated making money in a legal way. I also think their experiences matter, and they have stories that ought to be told, and HEARD, by regular folks.

Like many people, I used to assume that the incarcerated were all dangerous, bad people who deserved what they were getting and more. That was an opinion based in ignorance, and perhaps on what I had seen and heard on television or read in books. YouTube videos that star actual convicts put human faces on the prison experience. No, I don’t condone what prisoners have done to get locked up, but I also realize that there but by the grace of God go I. It’s very easy to get arrested and/or locked up in the United States. All you have to do to realize that is to watch one of the many cop videos on YouTube.

I’m sure this guy never thought he’d get busted…

When I watch the cop videos, I tend to vacillate between feeling sorry for the police (because the public can be incredibly disrespectful), to feeling really sorry for the arrestees (because cops can also be incredibly disrespectful). I often yell at the cops, too, because a lot of them genuinely appear to be on power trips and blatantly deny people their civil rights. On the other hand, a lot of people are total assholes and have no respect for the law, or other people’s safety or property. I probably shouldn’t watch as many videos as I do, for the sake of my blood pressure… but they are so compelling! And I have a pretty boring lifestyle, so I tune in and enhance my knowledge of true crime. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I definitely don’t think I could stand to go to prison, but obviously, I probably would adapt. It appears that most people do. Some people adapt better than others do. Some people even become institutionalized, and can’t function outside of prison. We’ll never see any videos from those people.

I’ve seen other prison v-loggers, too, but to me, their content isn’t as interesting or professionally done. Which just goes to show you that it takes talent and skill to make good content. It’s too bad prison is what led some of these folks to their YouTube careers. Maybe under different circumstances, they would have been able to avoid those unfortunate experiences. Obviously, they survived, but there are lingering costs associated with going to prison. I sure wouldn’t do it to boost my own very modest and tiny YouTube channel (with 130 subscribers).

Anyway, if you find prison content interesting, I’d especially recommend watching jumpsuitpablo’s channel. His content is very interesting, and I’d like to see him stay out of prison. I also recommend Jessica Kent and Christina Randall, although I haven’t been keeping up with their channels as much lately. If anything, these folks remind me to stay on the straight and narrow path.

Standard
ethics, politicians, politics, safety

I honestly don’t know how Republicans sleep at night…

Now that I’ve had some time to settle back into daily life, I’d like to address the latest school shooting. This time, there were six victims at The Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school in Nashville. I read that the school is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). I was raised mainstream Presbyterian (PCUSA), but I have some relatives who are PCA. They are more conservative, like Southern Baptists, while mainstream Presbyterians are more akin to Methodists.

It was the morning of March 27, 2023 when 28 year old Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who evidently identified as a trans man, shot open a locked door and stormed the hallways. She killed three nine year olds and three adults, including the school’s head, Dr. Katherine Koonce. I don’t know much about Audrey Hale, other than the fact that at one time, Hale was a student at The Covenant School. A lengthy manifesto was left behind, where Hale mentioned “having to go to that school”. I don’t know anything about Hale’s actual experiences at The Covenant School, but I do know that PCA believers insist that homosexuality is a sin that will send believers to Hell. I can only assume that maybe Hale was feeling condemned by church officials, whether or not that thought was ever expressed to anyone out loud.

Recently, Audrey Hale was under the care of a mental health professional, was using male pronouns and going by the name Aiden, and made a living as an artist and cat sitter. Just before the tragic events of Monday morning, Hale contacted a friend on Instagram and warned her that she would soon be reading about Hale in the news. The friend tried to report Hale’s comments to the police. Inexplicably, the police did nothing.

Those who once knew Audrey Hale describe the shooter as “shy”, “quiet”, “sweet”, and “good”. But something happened, because for some reason, Hale turned into a murderous monster. As politicians in Tennessee ban drag shows, and parents in Florida compare great works of art to pornography, and many people insist that women should not have the right to bodily autonomy, more innocent people are losing their lives over the ridiculous gun laws in the United States.

I don’t understand how Republican politicians can declare abortions “murder” and then yammer endlessly about how “precious” life is, as they refuse to do anything about the terrible gun violence problem in the United States. They talk and talk about the need for a smaller government and more liberties, but their policies seem to grant more liberties for criminals and crazies than regular folks.

This morning, Bill shared a video with me, showing a shouting match between Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie and New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman. Bowman was yelling about how three innocent nine year olds had been murdered, and Massie was insisting that we should have guns here to “protect us”. Yeah… but where the fuck are the good people with guns when someone like Audrey Hale goes off the rails? And why should everybody be expected to stay “safe” by carrying weapons?

I’ve mentioned before, I used to vote Republican as a matter of course. I didn’t know any better. Conservatism is what I grew up with in my small, southern Virginia hometown. Getting out of that environment is what opened my eyes to the truth… Some people are true “ammosexuals”. It’s like they get a sexual charge of owning firearms. I don’t know about Audrey Hale, who apparently legally owned seven guns… Who the hell needs that many weapons? If a gun is needed for personal protection or hunting, why not just own one? But one gun can still be deadly… especially to growing children.

I recently got into an argument with a stranger on Facebook, who insisted to me that anyone who isn’t pro-life should also be in favor of gun rights. The person claimed that guns don’t kill as many people as abortion does. I found that comment absurd on many levels. Developing embryos and fetuses have no concept of life or death. They aren’t conscious of impending doom. They don’t know the fear of being in what should be a safe place, and suddenly hearing gunshots.

I certainly don’t cheer for abortions. I think they should be avoided whenever possible. But to compare an abortion of a very early pregnancy to a nine year old child being shot in school is absolutely ridiculous. I might be more onboard with the pro-life movement if the politicians promoting it were more serious about protecting already born children from being shot in school. How many more already born children have to die before Republicans will admit that something must be done?

I have never been pregnant, and I don’t have children of my own. However, my husband’s daughter has been sharing her children with us. She recently shared a video showing her two oldest children playing. They were so full of life and energy, and she was very patiently supervising them. She’s a wonderful mom who loves her kids, and has suffered several miscarriages. I can’t imagine how absolutely devastated and horrified she’d be if she lost her children to gun violence.

I think about my sister, who needed medical help to get pregnant– not IVF, but something less intense. Her son, an only child, was very much wanted. Luckily, he managed to survive growing up going to American schools and is now in college. I imagine how awful it must be for parents– especially those who worked very hard to become parents– when something like this happens. Why aren’t the Republicans thinking about those people– who fought for and wanted their children so badly, and now risk losing them to gun violence? Why is their focus on forcing people to have babies they don’t want or can’t take care of, instead of protecting the already born babies who were very much wanted by their parents?

The whole thing is absolutely crazy! And while I don’t know what specifically caused Audrey Hale to go nuts on Monday, I think I can understand why so many people seem to be losing their shit. Things have been on a downward spiral for some time… and the past three years have been especially bad. Clearly, Hale had some terrible mental health issues, and I am always an advocate for helping the mentally ill. But as long as we allow anyone and everyone to carry firearms, this horror is going to continue. It seems to me that a lot of people are operating on a thin strand of sanity. It’s time we disarmed more people and did more to help them regain their grips on reality.

Rep. Thomas Massie seems to think the answer is arming teachers… how sad that is. Teachers shouldn’t be expected to use lethal force to defend their students and themselves. Instead, we should all expect to be able to go places and do things without taking our lives in our hands… especially on school campuses. I hope our very divided politicians can soon come to a consensus on this issue and do something to stop the carnage. But, as I am fond of saying sometimes, “people in Hell want ice water…”

Standard
controversies, healthcare, law, true crime

Florida attorney argues that fetus is being unjustly jailed…

You know how some people in certain states think that developing fetuses should have all of the rights to personhood that already born people get? I’ve noticed that some people have been doing their best to get over, based on that line of thinking. Personally, I have no qualms with it, since it offends me that some people value the unborn over the already born.

In fact, I laughed pretty hard last summer, when I read about, Brandy Bottone, a pregnant woman in Texas who contested a ticket for driving alone in the HOV lane. According to her, she wasn’t actually alone. I see that Brandy Bottone’s first ticket was dismissed, but then she got another one the following month for the same offense. The cop recognized her and asked when she was having her baby. She told him the baby girl would be born the next day, as he handed her another ticket.

When this situation first occurred, Bottone reportedly wasn’t trying to make a political statement. But then the question of what constitutes actual personhood really did make her wonder. When Roe v. Wade was overturned and Texas adopted very strict laws against abortion, some unintended consequences arose. One of them has to do with crime and punishment. Whether it’s a woman trying to get out of a moving violation citation, or a woman who has been accused of murder trying to get out of jail, denying pregnant people the right to bodily autonomy and acting like a developing fetus has rights means that there will be some new wrinkles in the laws.

Last night, I read another story addressing this phenomenon, when I stumbled across a Huffington Post article about Natalia Harrell, a pregnant woman in Florida who has been jailed since last July. Attorney William Norris filed an emergency petition last week on behalf of his client, Ms. Harrell’s fetus, currently at eight months gestation. Mr. Norris claims the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has not provided Ms. Harrell with adequate prenatal care.

Mr. Norris told NBC Miami:

โ€œAn unborn child is a person. A person has constitutional rights and one of them is the right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law.โ€

โ€œI am asserting the right of someone who is a person who has not been considered in the decision to incarcerate his mother.โ€

According to the Huff Post article I read, Ms. Harrell has not seen an OB-GYN since October. Norris asserts that the corrections department has not provided sufficient prenatal vitamins or nutritious food. Ms. Harrell has not been taken to scheduled doctorโ€™s appointments, and at one point, the pregnant woman was forced to sit in a 100-degree transport van that lacked air conditioning. Norris filed the petition when he was contacted by the baby’s father, who was concerned about his unborn child’s well-being.

Ms. Harrell has been incarcerated without bond since last summer. She’s accused of “fatally shooting fellow Uber passenger Gladys Yvette Borcela amid an argument after a night out in Miami.” Harrell’s trial is set to begin in April; she has pleaded not guilty.

It should come as no surprise that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has argued for the petition’s dismissal on the grounds that there is no evidence that Ms. Harrell has been mistreated. Officials at the jail have also “disputed the allegations about its care for the inmate, saying in a statement that itโ€™s ‘committed to ensuring all inmates receive professional, timely medical care and all appropriate treatment.'”

However, Mr. Norris reminds us that Ms. Harrell has not yet been convicted of a crime; she has only been accused. He also adds, “she has a stand-your-ground immunity defense that her criminal attorney is going to assert. So her conviction is by no means certain.โ€

I am not familiar with the incident that put Ms. Harrell behind bars, however, I do think that if states are going to declare the unborn as persons with personhood, Norris’s petition ought to be examined. I know that on the surface of this case, some people will laugh. They want to grant rights to the unborn, as long as it suits their highly controlling and anti-woman agenda. But both the ticket situation and the more serious murder accusation highlight the unintended consequences that have come up since abortion has been pretty much outlawed in some places. An astute attorney is going to challenge the new laws, and rightfully so.

I do, however, have some concern that this kind of legal maneuvering could potentially backfire. More than once, I’ve written about how pregnant people inherently have different civil rights than non-pregnant people have. For instance, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and drinking a beer in a restaurant, there is a chance someone might call the police on you.

A few years ago, I blogged about Marshae Jones, a pregnant woman who was jailed because she got in a fight that resulted in her being shot in the stomach. Her baby did not survive. Police reasoned that since the woman hadn’t kept herself out of harm’s way, she was responsible for the unborn fetus’s death. The woman who actually did the shooting, Ebony Jemison, was not indicted; therefore, she remained free, while Jones was jailed and later released on a $50,000 bond. The charges against Jones were eventually dropped, but still, it’s pretty scary how easy it is for pregnant people to wind up incarcerated. And there have been other disturbing cases of women who have been incarcerated because of miscarriage after they’d allegedly done something that put the unborn fetus at risk.

So… what concerns me about Ms. Harrell’s case is that besides the murder charge, she might also be charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, child abuse, or something of that nature. Judging by the comments by MEN on the Facebook post about this story, I can see that a lot of MEN think that Ms. Harrell shouldn’t have any rights because she’s an irresponsible woman who put her unborn baby in danger. But if she’s been jailed since last July, that means she might not have even realized that she was pregnant! Moreover– I must reiterate– she has not yet been convicted. She has only been accused.

I think it’s unsettling to see how gleeful some people are to see others put behind bars. There are so many Americans who seem to rejoice in watching certain people lose their liberties. Personally, I don’t like to think of people rotting in prison, especially when they’re pregnant. Jails and prisons are not good places for anyone to be– especially those who are gestating a baby.

Jessica Kent, a popular YouTube v-logger, has heartbreakingly spelled out what it was like for her to be pregnant when she was in an Arkansas prison. She didn’t know she was pregnant when she got arrested. If you are interested in that subject, I highly recommend watching these two videos…

Jail and prison are not good places to be if you’re pregnant.
This video is HEARTBREAKING.

And again… lots of pro-life MEN, who seem to be very misogynistic and lacking in understanding about why a woman might want or need to have an abortion, are commenting on Ms. Harrell’s story. They’re fine with declaring the unborn a “person with rights” when it comes to putting pregnant women behind bars, but they don’t like to see the same logic used to get women out of legal trouble or released from incarceration. And I’d wager that the VAST MAJORITY of them want and expect the right to privacy when it comes to making their own medical decisions, right?

One particularly prolific Facebook commenter– a man named Nicholas– clearly thinks that late term abortions are very commonly done on a whim. That simply isn’t true; late term abortions are actually very rare. There aren’t very many doctors who will do late term abortions, and the ones who will do them are typically doing them in situations involving tragic medical complications that are no one else’s business. They are very expensive and traumatic, and they involve actually giving birth. So no, they aren’t done for “convenience”.

Moreover, if legislators want to grant rights to the unborn, then they should also make sure that pregnant people have all they need to give birth to healthy babies and be able to raise healthy children. That means access to nutritious food, competent medical care, and adequate rest and exercise for ALL pregnant people– including those who are behind bars. It sounds like Mr. Norris is arguing that his client, by virtue of still being in utero, is being denied his rights as a person– albeit an unborn one at eight months gestation. So yes, it’s good that someone is having a look at this dilemma.

While I don’t know the specifics of Ms. Harrell’s case or whether or not she’s guilty, and I do worry that this case could backfire, I also think that double standards are bullshit. If you want to incarcerate people for crimes against the unborn because they have personhood, you must also consider that the innocent unborn should not be incarcerated for crimes committed by their mothers. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this case.


Standard