bad TV, celebrities, nostalgia

Repost: The evolution of Lifetime TV and the regression of Kirk Cameron…

This post was originally written on December 5, 2017. I am reposting a slightly edited version of it because it’s about a fun subject that has nothing to do with current events.

Back in the 1980s, when cable television was still fairly new, we had some very interesting programs to watch.  The mid 80s saw the birth of the now female friendly network called Lifetime.  Many people recognize Lifetime as a channel for women with lots of women centric television shows and movies about bad men.  But if you were around in the mid 80s, you might remember that Lifetime used to be a health channel. 

February 1, 1984 marked the first day of Lifetime TV.  Prior to that, it was known first as Daytime, which was a channel dedicated to “alternative” women’s programming.  Then, for about nine months, it was called Cable Health Network.  Then, in November 1983, it was Lifetime Medical Television.  I remember the programming aired on that network was mostly medical stuff… I mean, stuff doctors would be watching.  I remember the channel’s logo featured an apple…  an apple a day keeps the viewers away, I guess.

Some of the clips in this video came from Lifetime Medical Television.

Something had to be done…  the new network was losing a lot of money.  Some people even thought it was a religious channel.  That’s when Lifetime started its incarnation of what it is today.  It was around 1985 that it started featuring Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the tiny German sex therapist who hosted a call in sex advice show on Lifetime.  Her show was called Good Sex!  With Dr. Ruth Westheimer.  In the 80s, it was cutting edge stuff… scandalous, even.  The tiny woman soon became a huge star.

I don’t know why, but for some reason, I thought of Dr. Ruth last night.  It was right before I read a nauseating story about Kirk Cameron, also an 80s icon who underwent a massive makeover (and in his case, not for the better).  Kirk made a statement about how wives are to honor their husbands…

“Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband’s lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband. When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage.”

I made the mistake of sharing the story and immediately got a comment from someone wanting me to know about the Bible verse from which this directive comes.  For the record, yes I know that the Bible says women should follow their husbands the way their husbands follow the church.  However, I think many “Christian” men misunderstand or misuse this passage and end up abusing their wives.

I’m not so sure Cameron or others like him do a good job of explaining it.  Moreover, my initial comment was more about how Kirk Cameron changed from a goofy, boyish, funny, likable guy to a religious zealot.  He probably could use some advice from Dr. Ruth.

Dr. Ruth’s show was saucy!  Even in the 80s, she had progressive ideas about homosexuality.

I didn’t watch Dr. Ruth’s show because it aired at 10:00pm and I was about 12 or 13 years old.  Although my parents probably would neither have noticed nor cared that I was watching her program, at that age I found it boring viewing.  Most talk shows that would probably fascinate me today were dull when I was much younger.  I couldn’t be bothered to sit and listen to anyone who wasn’t a musician.  However, she did become very famous when her show was on Lifetime.  I think she and Regis Philbin helped put the then fledgeling cable channel on the map.

Here, Dr. Ruth counsels Richard Lewis, whom I well remember as Rabbi Glass on 7th Heaven.  God, he looks so young!  

For some reason, I used to love to imitate Dr. Ruth’s voice.  It’s so distinctive.    

This poor guy is a 21 year old virgin.  I was a 30 year old virgin, so I can relate to his angst.  He seems kind of sweet, though.  It was brave of him to be on Dr. Ruth’s show.  I hope he has since gotten laid.

Dr. Ruth was born in 1928, which makes her quite elderly.  She still has a channel on YouTube and, if she’s the one who is actually running it, appears to have a pretty good sense of humor.  I notice she favorited one of Robin Williams’ routines about her.

Bwahahahaaha!  This is pretty damn hilarious.

Anyway, I can’t help but miss the good old days sometimes.  Sure, the Internet is great and television has even become somewhat obsolete.  But I do miss some of the stuff that made it on the airwaves back in the day.  Lifetime and other cable channels like Nickelodeon used to be fun to watch.  Then they kind of evolved into crap… but then, that’s kind of the way of the world.  Radio used to be cool, too.  

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politics, Trump

I feel like someone poured water on the Wicked Warlock of the White House…

“Who would have thought a little girl like you would destroy my beautiful wickedness?”

Well, it’s been four days since the U.S. election and we’re still waiting for the winner to be announced. It’s beginning to look more and more like we’re about to say goodbye to the Trump era. If Trump does, in fact, lose the election, and it looks an awful lot like he will, there will be a long recovery from his disastrous stint in the White House. But it does sort of inject some hope into a year that has been very strange at best, completely heartbreaking at worst.

I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions this week. I was disgusted on Tuesday, as Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham were both re-elected. I was especially disgusted to see that Mitch got another term. I think he’s worse than Lindsey Graham, even though I met Mitch’s wife once. Back in the 1990s, Elaine Chao was briefly the director of the Peace Corps, and she visited Yerevan (after she’d left the post) when I was a Volunteer. Because I lived in Yerevan, I was invited to visit the Ambassador’s house and talk to her about what we were doing. I didn’t know who she was, nor did I know who Mitch McConnell was. I didn’t care about politics in those days. What a blissful time… I remember her to be pleasant enough, although I find her husband’s politics completely disgusting.

I was also disgusted to see just how many Americans apparently don’t care about Trump’s incredibly bad behavior. They don’t care about his constant tantrums and lies, nor do they care about the way he blatantly cheats as he bleats about having his power stripped. He’s just another one of those people who thinks the rules apply to everyone but him. But still, many people I thought were basically decent, caring, kind, and fair people are willing to give Trump a pass for this obvious disrespect for the American people and the world at large. Check out this post my German friend shared:

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted his father should open an “all-out war” around the election. Even Goebbels was more polite and at least asked.

The comments on the original post by Germans are very interesting. I’m glad to see that a lot of them realize that not all Americans are for Trump. And although many more Americans still accept Trump’s disastrous behavior and catastrophic failures as a leader than I expected, in the end, it does look like the better man will prevail (not that it’s hard to be better than Donald Trump is). I truly hope Joe Biden will help mend all of the relationships Trump has done his best to destroy. Especially with Germany.

Then, someone was mean to me. It’s always upsetting to me when someone is deliberately mean. I don’t react to mean people the way I used to. Now, when someone is really blatantly rude to me, I just cut them off. It makes me sad to do that, but I don’t have time for unapologetic assholes. If someone feels emboldened enough to be blatantly horrible to me without any reason or remorse, that’s a sign that we don’t need to be in touch. So, while I’m a little sad and disappointed to say goodbye to this person, I’ve resolved to come away from that experience a better person. In this case, I also hope to become a better guitar player. I doubt he’ll even notice, anyway.

At least Kanye was gracious enough to concede.

As the week wore on, things improved. I became reacquainted with an old college friend. And then the mail in ballots were counted and it became clear that Biden got more votes, even as Trump continued to wail, threaten, and complain about corruption. If anyone knows about corruption, it’s Donald Trump… and now it’s time for him to pay the piper. But he is determined to make the process as painful, complicated, and expensive as he can, and he’s going about it all in the least dignified way possible. Really, it’s pathetic. He’s talking about calling in favors to the Supreme Court, which is now stacked with justices he selected. There’s no doubt that they will be pressured to do what he wants them to do. Hopefully, they will uphold their responsibility to be fair and impartial and follow the law. No matter what, I anticipate many weeks of a shitshow as Trump and Biden duke it out over who will lead the country.

Now it’s Saturday, and Bill is cooking our usual Saturday breakfast. Looks like the weather will be nice, although thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown lite, we probably won’t do anything. We did have a fire last night– first one of this side of 2020. The weather is finally chilly, too… Winter is coming.

It’s disturbing to watch a world leader melt down the way Trump is, kinda like the Wicked Witch of the West did. But it’s more disturbing that people with supposedly normal intelligence can’t grasp why he so badly needs to go. If he doesn’t go, I have grave concerns for the future. Everybody says that. I know many Trumpers feel the same about Biden. But in this case, we’ve already had four years of life under Trump. He may not have directly made my life worse, but his seagull leadership style has definitely affected many people who aren’t as privileged as I am. Below is a copy and paste job shared by my cousin’s ex wife… She’s obviously out to lunch on this.

People are so scared. Anyway, wasn’t it Republican George W. Bush who got us into those “endless wars with the Middle East”? And aren’t Republicans more interested in making money than treating their workers fairly? This thing confuses me.

Sigh… and the final thing that has happened this week is that an elderly close family member is very ill and on a ventilator, although not because of COVID-19. We’re a bit concerned about that, especially since it’s not so easy to get back to the United States. But with any luck, the ventilator will help more than it harms. Unfortunately, when it comes to the elderly and serious illnesses, sometimes these situations can go south rather quickly. In 2014, my dad went to the hospital with an inflamed gallbladder. Most people think of gallbladder removal as pretty straightforward. The gallbladder was successfully removed, but my dad was unable to recover from the anesthesia. That was his exit. I kind of knew it was going to happen, too, but at least I was able to see him one last time before he passed. I’m not sure that can happen this time, if it comes down to that.

Bill will be back to teleworking next week. COVID-19 is getting worse here. Fortunately, Germany is led by people who mostly care more about people than money. And although Bill works for the United States, we’re obliged to follow the host country’s rules. And that suits me fine. Germans enjoy a better lifestyle anyway.

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Military, modern problems, social media

Your shit stinks too…

I didn’t post any fresh content yesterday because I didn’t have anything on my mind that I was just burning to write about. Ever since I moved my blog from Blogspot, I’ve decided it’s better to post quality content over quantity. I realize that some readers may not think the content is necessarily better on this blog. I used to post less about politics and more about Mormonism and steplife issues than I do now. I no longer need to write as much about either of those topics, so I have noticed some formerly loyal readers have moved on. Some people used to like reading my posts about true crime. I do still write about that, but not as often. Maybe it’s because the president is a criminal and writing about him is kind of like writing about true crime, too.

As time passes, priorities change. Right now, I’m fixated more on politics than I’ve ever been. I used to not care at all about politics. Donald Trump changed that. I often like to say that good things can come out of almost every situation. Maybe one thing Trump has done is make people less complacent about their leadership. As people are less complacent about leadership, they also become more vocal about other issues.

Last night, I saw an article on Military Times about how Iraq War veteran Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md. introduced a proposal to ban the display of the Confederate battle flag on all Department of Defense sites. Exceptions would be made for museum exhibits, state-approved license plates and grave sites of Confederate soldiers. However, the ban would include military work spaces, break rooms, living quarters, bumper stickers and personal apparel. Disobeying the order could lead to disciplinary action.

This measure comes up as the Marine Corps recently banned the display of the Confederate Battle flag. The Marine Corps’ decision was actually fresh news in April of this year, but it’s recently come up again as the Army has not followed suit. Ten Army installations are named after Confederate generals and many servicemembers, particularly those who are from southern states, identify the “rebel flag” as a symbol of regional pride and their heritage.

The battle flag issue also coincides with the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been raging for the past few weeks as people have been protesting police brutality toward people of color as well as the general issue of racism that still pervades American culture so many years after the Civil War ended. There have been lots of protests and riots, but I’ve also noticed some good conversations amid ridiculous displays of false bravado. I’m sure a lot of people reading this post have seen the pictures of St. Louis lawyer Mark McCloskey and his wife, Patricia, in their bare feet as they brandished weapons outside of their historic mansion. McCloskey claims that he and his wife were frightened for their lives as they pointed loaded weapons at about 500 protesters on their way to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house.

I only know what I’ve read in the news and seen in pictures. For all I know, Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey really were terrified for their lives. However, if the crowd was really that huge, it seems like the McCloskeys’ two guns wouldn’t be enough to stave them off for long if the crowd actually threatened them with violence. If it came down to it, maybe the McCloskeys would have managed to pick off a few people before they were overcome by the huge mass of people. Moreover, in the photos I’ve seen, the McCloskeys don’t look especially frightened. They look angry and aggressive. But I will grant that I wasn’t there and I’m not them, so what they were actually feeling and experiencing, I don’t know.

After I read the Military Times article, I read some of the Facebook comments. I noticed one posted by a German woman. I knew she was German by her first name, Hannelore, but she also identified herself as such when she rather smugly pointed out that Germans are doing better because Nazi symbols such as the swastika are illegal to display in Germany (unless it’s part of an art exhibit or civic education).

I have noticed this self-congratulatory attitude quite often among many Europeans, but especially Germans. They are quite proud of themselves for confronting their past history and trying to make amends. And I would be the first to congratulate them for doing that. I do think it’s admirable that Germans are not afraid to express their shame regarding their not so distant Nazi past. However, just because they’ve banned Nazi symbols, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem with racism in Germany. Moreover, I have actually seen the Confederate flag displayed in parts of Europe. So far, I’ve seen it in Italy, Ireland, and Germany. In fact, there’s a Harley-Davidson garage in the very next village that has recently had a “rebel flag” prominently displayed.

This flag is in the village next to where we live here in Germany. Harley-Davidson is an American brand, but this flag is flying here on German land. Or, at least it was a year ago. I haven’t recently checked to see if it still is.

So I pointed this out to Hannelore, who came back at me with vehement defensiveness. She pointed out that it’s not illegal to display the rebel flag in Germany. That may be so– and, in fact, it’s not illegal in the United States to display the rebel flag or swastikas, though that may soon change in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, even in America, if you display one of those symbols, it says something about you. I wouldn’t say most Americans would be alright with a business displaying a swastika, whether or not it’s “legal”. And although I do recall seeing businesses in the Deep South flying the rebel flag, nowadays it’s not a particularly smart business move.

Another German woman piped up, claiming that the Confederate flags were brought to Germany by American G.I.s. But even if that’s true, it’s not like Germans don’t have access to the Internet. It’s not like the owner of the Harley-Davidson garage in Wallau, who is mostly likely German or a resident of the European Union, doesn’t have access to information about the Confederate flag and what it stands for… or what it means to many, especially black, Americans.

I remember this ad from 1981 very well. It aired all the time when I was about 9 years old. Funny thing is, the actors who played Bo and Luke Duke weren’t even from the South.
And one from 1982…

I don’t think less of Germany or Germans because I’ve seen the Confederate battle flag displayed here. It doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to Europeans as it does to Americans. They don’t have the same history with that flag that Americans have, just as many Americans don’t have the same history with the swastika that Germans have. Moreover, it really hasn’t been that long that the Confederate flag was that controversial. I grew up in the southern United States seeing that flag everywhere, not just in my neighborhood and at school, but also on television.

When I was a child, one of the most popular shows on prime time television was The Dukes of Hazzard, which featured a 1969 Dodge Charger with a rebel flag on the roof dubbed “The General Lee”. The show was so popular that there were toys, games, and other merchandise sold everywhere– I remember having a Dukes of Hazzard TV tray (exactly like the one pictured) and a board game based on the show. I seem to remember McDonald’s even had Dukes of Hazzard themed Happy Meals for sale. The 1980s may seem like ages ago to younger people, but I remember that time well, and I’m still under 50.

I got this game for Christmas one year. I don’t remember playing it more than once or twice. Looks like Ideal didn’t include the stars and bars on top of the General Lee.

I went to graduate school at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. I had an apartment on campus and could see the Statehouse from my window. In 1999, when I began my studies there, the Confederate flag still flew on the Statehouse dome. I watched from my window and on CNN as the flag was finally lowered on July 1, 2000, only to be moved to the Statehouse grounds, where it remained until just five years ago. Republican Governor Nikki Haley ordered it moved to a museum after white supremacist Dylann Roof shot up a church in Charleston, killing nine black church members. As of July 10, 2020, it will have been just five years since the flag was moved… and the United States still has a state that includes the battle flag on its state flag, although it looks like Mississippi has finally decided to change their state flag to one that is more acceptable for modern times. Georgia also used to have a Confederate symbol on its state flag, but that changed in 2001.

I also remember that when I was in graduate school, Maurice’s Piggie Park, a South Carolina barbecue chain restaurant, had Confederate flags in front of its locations. I believe Maurice Bessinger has died since I left South Carolina and his descendants have taken down the flags. But I didn’t finish grad school until 2002. That’s still less than twenty years ago.

An episode of Alice that aired in the 1980s. Boss Hogge and Enos of The Dukes of Hazzard paid a visit to Mel’s Diner, which was decked out with little Confederate flags.

Many people are changing their hearts and minds about the prominent display of racist symbols like monuments and flags, but meaningful change takes time. Some people will never change their minds, and we’ll just have to wait until they pass on to the next existence. The United States is also a much younger country than Germany is. It’s only existed for a mere few hundred years, and there are bound to be “growing pains”. Germany has a much longer history and has already had a lot of growing pains. Moreover, while Germans don’t display the swastika because of their deep shame regarding Hitler’s era, the fact that some Germans embrace the Confederate battle flag tells me that they’re not necessarily any “better” than Americans are. However, to their credit, they do seem to be willing to check themselves when their hypocrisy is pointed out.

Hannelore and I managed to end our discussion on a friendly note, especially when I told her that I’m grateful to be in Germany, especially right now. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had this opportunity to experience living abroad. I have really loved living here, and have made some friends and memories I hope will last for many years to come. But racism is a worldwide problem. It’s not just a U.S. problem. And just because swastikas are banned in Germany, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem with race based hatred here.

I told a German friend about my conversation with Hannelore and another German lady last night, and how they claimed that the battle flag was introduced by American G.I.s. My German friend, who is a research superstar, provided me with a link to a German news article about how the Confederate flag is being embraced in East Germany, particularly by bikers and truckers. There’s a great love of 19th century North American culture in the east… and there are no American G.I.s posted there. They love cowboys, line dancing, and yes, some of them love the Confederate flag, which is less of a cowboy thing from out west than it is a southern thing. I think sometimes Germans forget how huge the United States is. Yes, Texas is considered a southern state, but it’s a different kind of southern, particularly as you head west, into the newer part of the country.

When we lived in Germany the first time, there was even a (laughable) American style restaurant near where we lived, which featured the German interpretation of American style Old West food and decor. It was once called Sitting Bull, but when we were there, it was known as “Buffalo Bill’s Saloon”. That restaurant eventually closed down, but I seem to remember there were two flags flying in front of it. One was a German flag… the other was American, I think. Bill used to get very upset every time he saw it, because it was extremely threadbare and worn. As a Soldier, he wanted to retire it properly. We ate there once or twice and it didn’t necessarily satisfy our cravings for American style barbecue. But it was fun seeing the western style decor. I don’t remember if it included Confederate flags, although it does seem that some Germans think the Confederate flag is an Old West thing. It’s really more of a southeastern US thing, which isn’t necessarily cowboy land.

Anyway… I’d really like to see people focus on being less hateful and judgmental all the way around. I think that significant progress toward equality can’t come until people have honest discussions with each other and learn to be more accepting of visible differences while also understanding that, underneath it all, we really aren’t as different from each other as we think we are. We’re all made of the same stuff, and when it comes down to it, your shit stinks just as badly as mine does.

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psychology

German style toxic passive aggression…

Part of the reason I moved my almost nine year old blog to a new site is an indirect consequence of passive aggression. It’s been on my mind lately, as Bill and I reflect on the four years we spent living near Stuttgart, dealing with the frankly toxic effects of people who refuse to clear the air in a direct way. It’s hard to live in a situation in which a person is obviously angry, but refuses to confront that anger constructively.

What is “passive aggression”.

Most people are passive aggressive sometimes. There are times when it doesn’t feel “safe” to be directly confrontational, so angry feelings are pushed beneath the surface. Sometimes, being passive aggressive is a matter of self-preservation. For instance, when I was growing up, I was often very angry with my father. However, I learned very early not to confront him directly, since it would often lead to painful physical and emotional consequences. So I would often seethe when he was around… anger festered, and I must admit, it’s still an issue today, almost five years after his death. In fact, I would even venture to guess that some of my problems stem from unresolved issues with my father, who often treated me with contempt and disdain. I was rarely allowed to address my issues with him and I almost never got validation when I did address them. The end result is that I have a lot of baggage and very little tolerance for people who show me disrespect.

I think “German” style passive aggression, is kind of different than “garden variety” passive aggression. I think it comes from German culture, which gives it a particularly nasty quality. I’ve noticed it a lot during this stint in Germany. This week, I read about two true crime cases that illustrate it quite well. The first case took place in Fischbach, a hamlet near Kaiserslautern. A lot of Americans live near there, since there is an Army installation close by. An American woman, now living in the United States, had rented out her house to other Americans. Prior to renting out her home, she hired gardener Bernhard Graumann to design a garden for her.

Evidently, the homeowner didn’t like Graumann’s work. They had a dispute. Graumann was angry enough that he booby trapped the woman’s carport with a log that had a bomb within it. The landlady moved back to the States before the trap harmed her. Fortunately, the trap was found before anyone else was hurt; presumably, that would have been the innocent American tenants who were living there. Police determined that if the log had detonated, it would have destroyed a wood stove. They detonated the explosive in a safe way, so no one was harmed. However, other people who had dealings with Graumann were not so lucky.

In Otterberg, a woman and her small child were injured by a similar device left to be discovered by an unlucky person. A 64 year old physician in Enkenbach-Alsenborn died last Friday when he touched a booby trap. Police believe that these incidents were also perpetrated by Graumann, who is now himself dead as of last Sunday. The cause of his death is currently unknown. Police are saying that Graumann purposely made these booby traps to deliberately hurt or kill people with whom he had issues. He’d leave them in places where they might or might not be discovered, completely taking his victims by surprise and injuring or even killing innocent people in the interim.

Police set up a hotline to find out if other people had problems with Graumann in personal or professional relationships. Sure enough, over 100 references have been recorded, some of which is information about Graumann’s life and some which regard personal conflicts people had with Graumann, a man many described as “withdrawn”. Graumann, who was 59 years old when he died and was a member of a medieval club where he worked with “black powder”, was married and had two grown children, one of whom is now a police officer. The son who is a cop is not working on this particular case.

The second case I read about is even more sinister. In the northern German city of Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock, a 23 year old man fell into a persistent vegetative state after ingesting high levels of mercury. Investigators were at a loss as they tried to determine how the man had fallen ill.

Another man, who had worked with the 23 year old on the same shift, also got sick and visited a doctor at least five times, complaining of mysterious symptoms. He was later found to have severe kidney damage. A third man, Klaus Radke, went to the police after several instances of noticing a brownish substance in his sandwich he’d brought from home. Hidden cameras were finally installed in the break room where these three men had worked. That’s when they discovered their colleague, Klaus O., was poisoning them.

Why was Klaus O. poisoning his co-workers’ food? Well, it wasn’t because he was necessarily angry with them personally. A psychiatrist who interviewed him explained that Klaus O. was “interested in watching the effects of poisons on his victims’ health”. Klaus O. had his own home lab, which included lead, cadmium and mercury. Klaus Radke, whose sharp eyes had noticed the “brownish substance” on his sandwiches, had brought one to the police for sampling. Lab tests discovered over 71,000 micrograms of lead within it. The police later discovered that Klaus O. had ordered more poisons online just before he was arrested. Investigators also found extremely high levels of mercury on the man’s property.

What caused Klaus O. to so callously harm his co-workers, with whom he’d apparently had no real or obvious conflicts? It’s hard to say definitively, although the court did hear testimony from Klaus O.’s estranged siblings and other family members. They described his upbringing, which was evidently traumatic and marred by poverty. Was this the reason why Klaus O. felt the need to strike out at innocent people by surreptitiously poisoning their food? Maybe… or maybe he’s just a sociopath who would have turned out this way regardless.

Many people are uncomfortable with openly expressing hostility. It’s as if being angry and expressing that emotion is some kind of sin. But anger is a very natural and normal emotion. Sometimes it’s even a motivating and constructive feeling. Bottling it up is unhealthy. On the other hand, expressing it can also be hurtful. I moved my blog, in part, because I was openly expressing anger that was making other people uncomfortable and they were confronting me in a way that was making the situation worse.

Germany is different than the United States is. Things are done by the book. I now live in a country where a person can be sued for verbally insulting another person and flipping someone the bird in traffic can lead to a very expensive fine. I am not German, so I don’t know what they learn when they are growing up in this society where it’s illegal to be insulting. However, knowing how challenging and frustrating life can be, particularly when you must deal with people with whom you don’t mesh, I can see how the habit of being passive aggressive could develop in a place where venting openly can lead to the courtroom. On the other hand, in the United States, expressing anger and engaging in conflict sometimes leads to violence. Here, people insist on civility… at least on the surface. In the United States, civility is less important and, I think, that sometimes leads to real tragedies.

I notice a lot of jokes about German passive aggression. In fact, just Googling it led me to this humorous blog post written by a fellow expat who has observed it. I have also noticed that Germans are also openly aggressive in some situations. If you do something that isn’t “right”, you can expect to be yelled at by someone. It’s happened to me more than once. This is a very “rules oriented” society, and people are very open about telling you when you’ve messed up. But if they stay angry with you, you might start noticing little subtle things that eventually become less subtle.

A good example of German passive aggression spotted in a public toilet. The sign requests that users not throw things on the floor and to use the toilet brush. The handwritten part beneath it requests that the people cleaning the toilets do something about the stench.

Don’t get me wrong. I do love living in Germany and I have developed a real affection for most German people. I’ve made friends here and there’s a lot to love about the German lifestyle. But I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to the German style of passive aggression. I find it maddening.

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