sex, sexism, silliness, stupid people

Woman freaks out when confronted by a trans woman in a locker room…

The featured photo is of the Friedrichsbad, perhaps Germany’s most famous nude spa… where everyone is naked. They do have days when the genders divide by sides, as well as co-ed days, when people can go through the spa on either side. Bill and I went on a co-ed day, and had a blast. No one bothered us.

One of the things Bill and I have come to enjoy, since we’ve been living in Germany, is the availability of nude spas. I will admit that it took us a long time before we got brave enough to try them. We never tried them when we were here the first time, and it took us almost three years to go naked once we moved back here. Once we finally did the deed, there was no turning back. Now, being nude at a spa is just not a big deal anymore. Not all spas in Germany are nude, but quite a number of them do have nude areas. Saunas and steam rooms all require patrons to be nude, and there are a lot of wonderful spa facilities here where bathing suits aren’t allowed at all.

I guess, in this way, Bill and I have kind of gone “native”. I don’t think we’d mind a nude beach. I know I wouldn’t. I don’t worry about perverts. Here, I’ve seen many people– especially men– urinating in public, although it’s technically illegal. But get caught in a Stau on the Autobahn, and if it’s bad enough, you can count on seeing someone pissing on the side of the road. They just don’t care. I’ve seen a lot of public urination at rest stops, too, whether or not facilities are available. Many of the rest stops over here require payment. Some people don’t want to pay, so they don’t.

I’ve also seen women openly breastfeeding. I’ve seen children change clothes or simply undress in the open air at Freibads. I’ve even seen kids in the nude spa areas, which personally I don’t agree with, because people go to spas to relax. Almost nobody cares. Maybe my ex landlady would. I don’t know. I would think she’d be smart enough not to go to a spa where there might be nudity if it bothered her.

To date, I’ve been to eight different spas in Germany, most of which had optional nude areas in them. Three of the spas were completely nude, meaning no bathing suits were allowed there at all. People carry towels and robes for sitting on things. Most of the dressing rooms at the spas are also unisex. They do have cubicles that allow people to change in private, but the lockers are all in one big room accommodating everyone. And in the nude spas, once you go to where the pools are, everyone’s nude, except for the people who are working there. And nobody cares.

There are people of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, and persuasions running around at German spas. You are liable to see people sucking face in the pools. They’re mostly young people– teens or young adults– who can’t keep their hands off of each other. But I promise, the spas are mainly for health and relaxation purposes. It’s not a place where perverts hang out. If they are there, they’re below the radar.

Americans, as a whole, are very prudish about nudity. They aren’t the only ones. Brits are pretty shy about baring all, as are Swedes… or, at least the spa we went to in Sweden was very much bathing attire required. But here in Germany, I’ve seen signs with bathing suits and red lines crossed through them… and I’ve also seen signs that say “proper bathing attire required.”

Today, I read an article in the Washington Post about a customer at the Wi Spa, a facility in Koreatown in Los Angeles, who was “traumatized” when a trans woman changed in the women’s dressing room. The trans woman evidently still had male equipment, and the sight of it really upset another customer and her daughter. She confronted the spa staff about the intrusion. The spa manager asked the client if the trans woman had done anything specifically inappropriate. The client responded that the person’s genitalia was displayed, and that was “traumatizing”. This, in a spa where the “lack of modesty” is disclosed ahead of time. I wonder what the hell the upset client was doing checking out other people’s junk, anyway?

For some reason, many Americans seem to equate nudity with perversion. There’s this pervasive fear that child molesters and creeps are lurking at spas, just waiting to rape someone. Those who subscribe to this fear especially seem to believe that perverts are wanting to pose as transgender people so they can prey on women and girls.

I can’t pretend to be an expert on transgender people or sex offenders. But from what I do know, trans people aren’t necessarily sexual deviants, just as cisgender people are not necessarily sexual deviants. And I don’t think that hanging out in bathrooms or spas and pretending to be transgender is a reasonable MO for a person who is sexually deviant. I really don’t think a trans person in the locker room is the issue, anyway. I think it’s the attitude among many Americans that there’s no such thing as transgender people.

In any case, I haven’t seen or heard of a lot of people being victimized at German spas, where modesty is not the word of the day. I just don’t think transgender people are out there attacking people. They simply want to change clothes or do their business in rooms where they feel safest. I don’t believe most men are rapists. I think even fewer people of the transgender persuasion are sexually deviant. And I cringe when I read the many frightened and angry comments by ignorant people who seem to think that people who are different than they are are somehow dangerous.

Sadly, the incident in Los Angeles led to a protest, which eventually turned violent. Transphobic people brought guns to the protest and brandished them at counterprotestors. Another person was hit on the head with a lead pipe at the protest. Personally, I’m a hell of a lot more frightened of all the American idiots with weapons than I am of a trans woman in the ladies room. I think they are a much bigger threat to my safety than people who identify as a non-binary or transgender.

The woman who caused this ruckus made an Instagram video and said she wouldn’t be at the protest, because she’d heard Antifa would be there and she worried about her safety. Um… Antifa isn’t a group. It’s a movement. It’s an idea. This lady is grossly misinformed.

Thanks to my friend, Julie, for sharing this.

It would be one thing if someone actually saw another person doing sexually inappropriate things at the spa. It’s quite another if someone is just minding their own business, changing their clothes or using the toilet. Every single one of us has sex parts. The presence of those parts aren’t what make someone a deviant. Germans have figured this out. Why can’t we figure it out in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave? Grow up. And stop looking at other people’s private parts. Frankly, I think the woman who complained is the pervert in this case.

I hope the German nude spas reopen again soon.

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mental health, modern problems, true crime

Americans are both awesome and awful people…

There has been quite an interesting array of news stories lately. Last night, I read a truly heartwarming story about a young man in Alabama who showed up to work the morning shift at a Waffle House on his graduation day. He’d had the day scheduled off, but his mom had to work and couldn’t take him to the ceremony, and he is not in touch with his dad. So he went to work, instead.

The 18 year old, whose name is Timothy Harrison, wanted to walk across the stage to get that diploma he’d worked so hard to earn. But since there was no way to make it happen, he resigned himself to going to work and making some money, instead. Timothy’s boss, Cedric Hampton, wasn’t having it. He and the assistant manager, as well as other co-workers and a couple of customers banded together to see to it that Timothy could have that rite of passage experience that is so important for so many.

By the time I’d finished reading this uplifting story, I had tears welling in my eyes. I was truly moved to read this story about good people doing great things. Americans love to help an underdog, and they are capable of great support and largesse for people who have a good story. Timothy Harrison’s story was so good that he also got a full scholarship from Lawson State Community College, whose faculty members got wind of his work ethic. Now, instead of following his plan continuing to wait tables at the Waffle House and, perhaps, later joining the military (which isn’t actually a bad plan for many people), Harrison will be going to college to study business and computer science.

As you know, I have nothing against people who join the military. It’s a great career for plenty of folks, my husband included. BUT– it’s not for everyone… and thanks to the kindness of Timothy Harrison’s “Waffle House work family”, Harrison will have another choice that could potentially change his life’s course forever. And that change could have significant ripple effects for other people in Timothy’s life. Thinking about that made me feel great and hopeful for the future.

But then I woke up this morning and read another sad and senseless story about violence over face masks… I was reminded that Americans can be awesome. They can also be awful!

Although a lot of people are ditching the masks as COVID-19 infections are waning among the vaccinated, not all areas are yet finished with the mask requirements. Such is the case in Decatur, Georgia, where Victor Lee Tucker, age 30, had stopped to pick up groceries at a Big Bear Supermarket. Mr. Tucker was not properly wearing a mask when he approached the cashier (now identified by police as Laquitta Willis, 41) to pay for his items. Tucker and the cashier got into an argument about how he was wearing his mask (according to the Washington Post, Tucker was wearing a mask, but not correctly). He got pissed off and left without buying the items. But then he immediately came back and shot the cashier, killing her.

Tucker also shot 54 year old Danny Jordan, the off duty police officer who was moonlighting as a security guard at the store. Fortunately, Jordan was wearing a bulletproof vest, which probably saved his life. Another cashier was slightly wounded by a bullet that grazed her. She was treated at the scene, while the cashier and Tucker, who was shot by the guard, were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Tucker is listed in stable condition. Deputy Jordan, who was shot twice, went to Atlanta Medical Center, where he is also listed in stable condition.

I have not made it a secret that I despise the face masks. I think that while they are helpful in preventing the spread of virus particles, they also cause a lot of problems for many people. For that reason, it’s my hope that they go away soon. Too many people are being inconvenienced by the masks, but more troublingly, people are also DYING over enforcing their use. Imagine trying to avoid getting COVID-19 and dying anyway because you asked someone to wear a mask properly and they shot you! Edited to add, June 16th– the indoor mask mandate was in effect in Decatur, Georgia on Monday, when Willis was killed. It’s due to expire next week.

But people definitely shouldn’t be killing and dying over the face mask issue. Of course Tucker was absolutely wrong to kill the cashier over something so utterly stupid. He probably shot her because he felt the need to “protect his freedoms”. Maybe he felt like the mask was oppressive and was finally fed up with being “oppressed”. Maybe that was why he felt justified in killing an innocent person. But that was an erroneous notion on his part. And now, he will lose his freedom and be forced to wear a prison uniform and, it’s very likely, a face mask, along with all the other stuff prisoners are forced to wear.

In all seriousness, it does make me sad to think about Tucker going to prison over this. He’s a 30 year old man, who had his whole life ahead of him. I don’t know what kind of a person he is when he isn’t losing his cool and blowing hourly wage earning cashiers away over face mask rage. I’d like to hope he’s not all bad, as I don’t think most people are all bad. But it’s hard to understand why someone would be so unhinged that he’d just callously snuff out some innocent lady’s life because of a face mask. It’s tragic and ridiculous on so many levels.

Personally, I think if I were in the States, I wouldn’t confront anyone over the masks. It’s just not worth it. Our culture is so strange– people are encouraged to be “nice”, and we hate confrontations and conflict. And yet, so many of us are carrying weapons! And so many are apparently on the edge of insanity! Would Tucker have killed anyone two years ago, before COVID-19 face mask requirements was a thing? I honestly think that the risk of getting the virus may be lower than the risk of being shot in some parts of the USA. There have been so many stories about people killing and dying over face masks! It’s crazy! It baffles me that so many Americans seem to enjoy busting people over the masks. The New York Times called it a “new American pastime.” I think I’d be too scared to say anything to someone about the masks. I’d rather just get away from them.

I don’t know if the cashier was required to enforce the mask policy or she just decided to on her own. I would certainly never say that she shouldn’t feel free to enforce the mask requirements in a private business. BUT… there is a real danger in doing so, as her story, as well as so many others, have shown. I hope there will come a day soon when the mask requirements go away so this particular issue won’t be something people continue to die over.

And that makes me think of something else… does it seem to you like America has gotten way more extreme? It seems like fewer people are moderate nowadays. I feel like I run into more extremely “woke” people and extremely conservative people than I used to. I still tend to be pretty middle of the road– leaning a bit more left lately, but not extremely so. But the past five years, which I have not spent in the States, make me a little scared to go back home. I feel like today’s America is not the America I knew.

According to the Washington Post, 2020 was the deadliest year for shootings and, so far, 2021 is even worse. Within the first five months of 2021, 8100 people in the United States lost their lives to gun violence. Much of the violence seems to come from frustration and anger over the pandemic situation and all of the problems that are affiliated with it. The Washington Post reports that the violence started to edge upwards from April 2020, when the virus started to become a real problem. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to “normal”… but it sure is sad to me that a deadly virus killed so many people and so many citizens are also dying because of gun violence… or they’re being hit and run, like my old friend Matt was last month. The week Matt died, another person was also killed in a hit and run in the same area. It’s also a problem on the rise, perhaps caused by very angry people who have no regard for other people.

Well… at least I was able to start this post with a feel good story. I wish Timothy Harrison much luck as he embarks on what could be a very bright future. I hope he avoids gun violence and the virus. I hope he goes to school and sets the world on fire as he puts his promising work ethic to the test in a tough world. I, for one, would not want to be young again for anything! But I have high hopes for Harrison and his Waffle House family. His story, coupled with the cashier’s story, really show how awesome and awful Americans can be.

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politicians, politics, stupid people

Marjorie Taylor Greene… one of many people who have ensured that I won’t be voting Republican anytime soon.

I was hoping to avoid recent politics today, hence the two reposted book reviews I added this morning. I actually had another idea in mind for this morning that was kind of akin to my current interest in redemption. And yet, this morning, as I read about how Republicans are refusing to support people like Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney, who have publicly supported convicting Trump on his second impeachment, I can’t stop myself from commenting. I never thought I’d support Mitt Romney on anything, but he’s turned out to be a fairly decent person, compared to his fellow Republicans. Ditto for Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who voted with Democrats in spite of heavy pressure from the Republican Party to excuse Donald Trump for his part in riots that went on at the Capitol three weeks ago.

This morning, as I was having a conversation with Bill about redemption and wondering if it’s really worthwhile to apologize for anything, since so many people are hellbent on crucifying others, I realized that I probably won’t forgive the Republicans anytime soon. It’s the party that gave us Donald Trump and, more recently, brand new Representative Marjorie Taylor Greeene, of Georgia. Ms. Taylor Greene was only very recently installed in the federal government, having been elected in November 2020. During that time, she’s made quite an impression.

What the hell is this woman doing in a leadership position?

In 2018 and 2019, Marjorie Taylor Greene, then apparently just a regular QAnon moron, made some shocking statements on social media indicating that she thinks Democratic leaders such as California Representative and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, ought to be executed. In a January 2019 post, Greene “liked” a comment advocating “a bullet to the head” of Nancy Pelosi. In April 2018, when a poster asked if we could “hang” former president Barack Obama and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Greene responded:

“Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene has also harassed victims of the Parkland school shooting. She’s all about maintaining her “Second Amendment rights”, sparing no thought or feeling for actual victims of gun violence. David Hogg didn’t respond to Greene’s harassment. She doesn’t warrant a response. She has no compassion, no empathy, and absolutely ZERO business leading people. What a vile, contemptible, shameless person she is. I wonder how she’d feel if she or one of her loved ones were killed or injured by gun violence? Doesn’t it make sense that people like David Hogg, who have truly suffered due to this issue, would want to change the gun laws?

Marjorie Taylor Greene is a despicable person, and yet she’s being rewarded by Republicans for her disgusting violent views.

To add insult to injury, and perhaps the reason that I’m joining the chorus in writing about this woman, is the fact that she evidently thinks journalists shouldn’t be allowed to do their jobs. At a town hall meeting two days ago, reporter Meredith Aldis wanted to ask Greene about the backlash she’s gotten this week due to her poorly considered social media posts of the not too distant past. Greene’s response was to rebuff her, saying “I’m talking to my constituents.” Then, Greene’s staff complained to security that Aldis was “causing a disturbance” and demanded that Aldis leave the public proceedings, which Aldis and other reporters had been invited to attend. A sheriff’s deputy even threatened to arrest Aldis and her crew for trespassing at the town hall meeting.

And finally, when Greene was confronted about her questionable social media posts, she had this lame excuse:

“Over the years, I’ve had teams of people manage my pages. Many posts have been liked. Many posts have been shared. Some did not represent my views. Especially the ones that CNN is about to spread across the internet,”

Nope. It’s YOUR page, Marjorie. It’s YOUR responsibility. If other people are posting things using your name that you don’t agree with, you should do something about it. Otherwise, people are going to conclude that they’re your thoughts and opinions. And based on the video I watched this morning, it’s clear that you’re full of shit. You don’t have any regard for other people and you should be expelled from public office. You are obviously someone who puts your “right” to own a gun over other people’s right to live without fear of being shot. You should be ashamed of yourself, and so should your supporters. Unfortunately, you belong to a party that is contemptible and will not do the right or decent thing to purge itself of corrupt and inept individuals like you.

I watched body cam videos taken on January 6th. They were included in an article by The New York Times about the riots. On those videos, 34 year old Rosanne Boyland, who was there to protest with her friend, Justin Winchell, is shown being trampled by rabid Trump supporters, who were hellbent on beating up police officers trying to control the situation. These folks, who are usually the ones screaming about how blue lives matter and abortion should be outlawed, were beating on the cops and sounded pretty intent on killing and maiming. They had no regard for a fellow supporter who was being mowed down by the crowd. Likewise, four other people were killed on that day. One woman, Ashli Babbitt, was shot as she tried to break into the Capitol. Two others had medical conditions that were triggered by the excitement. And, a police officer also lost his life to the violence, while another committed suicide a couple of days later.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is apparently all for this kind of behavior. She isn’t shocked or horrified by what’s in those videos. If you have access to The New York Times, I highly recommend watching the videos from the body cams. They are absolutely extraordinary. I can’t believe anyone with a shred of decency would be cheering on this kind of behavior. But apparently, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who wears face masks that read “Trump Won”, is all for it. She actively promotes QAnon theories, which have led to this craziness being unleashed in the United States. It’s absolutely appalling. I can’t believe this is the America people want to live in. I sure the hell don’t. Shouldn’t legislators be law abiding and law respecting individuals? I guess not in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s world.

Anyway… I am disgusted and revolted and I just needed to share it. Maybe later, if I’m feeling energetic, I’ll be back to write about something else.

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complaints

I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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true crime

In Spain, you can be sentenced to prison for being an asshole…

But in America, we let any nut with a chip on his or her shoulder wield weapons.

Okay, so maybe this is an oversimplification of things. However, I couldn’t help but take notice when I read a news story about YouTuber ReSet (otherwise known as Kanghua Ren) who made over 2000 euros on a video he made in 2017. Mr. Ren, who was 19 years old in 2017, filmed himself offering an Oreo cookie filled with toothpaste and a 20 euro bill to a homeless man sitting outside of a supermarket in Barcelona, Spain. The man, who was probably really hungry, ate the cookie and vomited.

Chinese born Ren, who acknowledged that maybe he went a bit too far in carrying out this prank, then quipped, “This will help clean his teeth– I don’t think he has cleaned them since he became poor.”

The video got plenty of views, which helped Ren make some money. He had made the video, in part, as a response to challenges set forth by his followers, who evidently wanted him to raise the bar on being an asshole and taking advantage of vulnerable people. However, a lot of people found his dirty trick completely reprehensible.

The homeless man, in his early 50s and identified as Gheorge L., was born in Romania and was once a shepherd before he wound up in Barcelona. He has a daughter. Mr. Ren offered her 300 euros not to file a lawsuit after having filmed himself visiting her father again, offering him another 20 euro bill.

Clearly, Gheorge’s daughter was not moved by the offer of 300 euros. Mr. Ren was forced to answer for his callous behavior in a Spanish courtroom. Noting that Ren had done other videos depicting himself being cruel to vulnerable people, Judge Rosa Aragonés found Ren guilty of violating the moral integrity of the homeless man. She sentenced Mr. Ren to fifteen months in prison and handed down a 20,000 euro fine, which is to be paid to the homeless man.

Because this is Mr. Ren’s first offense, and the sentence is less than two years, he is unlikely to go to prison. However, he has also been ordered to shut down all of his social media channels, including YouTube, for the next five years. I guess this means Mr. Ren will have to find another way to make some cash.

It’s interesting to read about this case, especially in the wake of the most recent shooting in the United States. On Friday afternoon, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, 40 year old DeWayne Craddock, who had just resigned his position as a city engineer that morning, brought a weapon into his former workplace and started firing indiscriminately, killing 12 people and injuring others. Craddock, who died in the shootout, was reportedly a “nice guy” who had quit his job for “personal reasons”. And yet, there he was with a gun on Friday, ending the lives of 12 people, including Keith Cox, who led seven people to safety before he was killed. Before he went on his rampage, my guess is that most people didn’t think of Craddock as an “asshole”.

In Europe, a person can wind up in trouble with the law simply for being an asshole. Granted, what Kanghua Ren did could have been dangerous. It’s not recommended to eat toothpaste and his victim did vomit after eating the Oreo cookie. But ultimately, what he did was mean spirited and cruel, and that was what he was punished for. He wasn’t punished for potentially poisoning someone.

In the United States, it takes a whole lot to deprive people of certain rights. One right far too many Americans enjoy is the right to bear arms. Lately, the shootings have become so common that I no longer really feel shocked when I hear or read about them. Something is causing ordinary people to simply snap and start murdering people.

Christi Dewar, who was employed at the Virginia Beach utilities office and had worked there for thirteen years, said that Mr. Craddock was well dressed and soft spoken. She had no reason to fear him. She said he was a bit introverted, but gave no signs of being the type or person who would go on a shooting rampage. But on his last day living, Mr. Craddock came armed with handguns, high capacity magazines, and a silencer device. He cracked off at least fifty rounds at his former co-workers before he was finally taken out himself. Dewar says that she thinks all of the government buildings need metal detectors and security guards. She says she would happily tolerate daily searches if it means never having to go through another shooting. I would rather not give up more of my personal liberty in the name of stopping gun violence. I don’t think metal detectors and security guards will necessarily protect anyone. Security guards are people too, and if someone is that determined to kill, they’ll still kill… even if it means killing someone else who has a gun.

Seems to me a better solution is to stop making guns so accessible to everyone, make it easier for people to access and afford mental health care, and make eliminating classism and racism a priority. Also, I think there should be more emphasis on not being an asshole. Here in Germany, a person can be fined for flipping someone off, particularly if that person is in a position of respect, such as a police officer or government official. Of course, that doesn’t mean people don’t shoot the bird on the Autobahn. I have seen it happen. But there is an emphasis on not harming other people here– and not being uncivilized to others.

It’s been nice to live in Europe for the past few years, even though I’ve been watching my country disintegrate from afar. It makes me heartsick, and worried about what it will be like when we do move back home. I mean, yes… you can have neighbor disputes in Germany. You can have issues with your co-workers, your landlords, and other people. You can even end up being murdered in a particularly passive aggressive way in Europe. However, random acts of violence against perfect strangers is a lot rarer here than it is in the United States. There are a lot of pissed off, fed up, angry people there who are on the verge of snapping and have lost their senses of decency and humanity.

Anyway… while I’m not sure I think sending a prankster like Mr. Ren to prison is all that constructive, I do think it’s commendable that he’s been held accountable for being mean spirited. Maybe Americans can learn something from Mr. Ren’s case. It’s entirely possible that Europeans have simply had more time to become civilized than Americans have. Maybe, if the Earth is still around in 1000 years, America will be more like Europe is now. Or maybe Europe will be more like America is now. Glad I won’t be around to find out for sure.

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