poor judgment, religion, slut shamers, Twitter

Inappropriate stickers leave youth pastor in a sticky situation…

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m very grateful that my parents weren’t really into religion when I was coming of age. Yes, I did go to church when I was growing up, and my parents were/are lifelong Christians, but church wasn’t the center of our lives. Well… except maybe the musical part of it. My mom was a church organist, and my dad was always in the choir. But while I never had a long chat with either of them about this, I get the sense that neither of them were into the musical part of church solely because of their devotion to religion. My dad loved to sing. My mom loves music, too, and she was/is a talented musician. Being able to play the organ was a nice side job for her– another source of her own money, besides running her own business.

Consequently, I grew up in a mainstream Presbyterian church. I won’t say there were never any tears at church, because there were. But that was mainly due to being bullied by my peers, not because I was exposed to some creepy youth pastor or being asked inappropriate questions about my sexuality. On the whole, my parents didn’t force me to attend “youth groups” or engage in activities with youth pastors. Once I was old enough to work, they quit forcing me to go to church at all. I never had to deal with a young, charismatic “man of God” who did things like hand out stickers like the one below:

Ugh… this is so very inappropriate and disgusting.

The Washington Post shared an article about 35 year old Cory Wall, a now former student pastor at Fairview Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch in Greer, South Carolina. According to the Washington Post, Mr. Wall has “been placed on administrative leave and will not be involved in student leadership while it conducts an investigation.” The church has also put out statements on its website and on Facebook indicating that Wall “acknowledges that he made a poor decision and a mistake by making a sticker available that was offensive to some…” 

Who was supervising this “student pastor”, anyway? Shouldn’t someone have been making sure he didn’t do foolish stuff like this?

Um… “offensive to some”? Really? This is a man who was working with impressionable adolescent girls and felt it was appropriate to hand out stickers mimicking the “I <3 hot moms” social media trend. I think it was offensive to the vast majority. I’d also love to know who made these stickers. What kind of company would manufacture such a product? Obviously, that was a unethical company that values making money over decency. Although– I suppose there could be legal adults who <3 youth pastors, too. Still, what are the odds that the person ordering these stickers is going to be handing them out to soccer moms? I’d say the chance of that happening is pretty close to zero.

I remember what it was like to be 14. That was not an easy year for me. Between hormonal fluctuations, growth spurts, and metamorphosing from child to teenager, I remember a lot of tears during that time. Fourteen year olds need mature, understanding, compassionate, and stable adults leading them. At my most generous, I could describe Mr. Wall as being extremely tone deaf. At the worst, maybe he might be someone akin to Josh Duggar. I hasten to add that I don’t actually know if he is that bad– but it does seem to me that handing out stickers like these to girls makes him appear predatory.

I know some people might conclude that Wall is definitely a “dangerous pervert”. I can’t come to that conclusion simply based on what little I’ve read. I would need to know Wall before I could make a judgment that serious. He might just be very immature and socially delayed. However, given that he was studying for a leadership position in a very large church, and was presumably choosing to work with children, he definitely shows a lack of good judgment and character. He’s clearly not ready to work with the youth.

The article I read in the Washington Post was informative, but the Twitter thread about this was even more telling. Many people were posting about their own experiences in churches with creepy youth pastors. Some were pointing out that church is where children should be the safest. And yet, there’s a lot of evidence pointing to how unsafe churches can be, especially the ones where pastors and other church staff intrude into subjects like sexuality. There are many churches in which church leaders feel perfectly fine about asking young children about their sexual habits and will defend their right to do so. I know there are many churches in which sex, even just masturbation, is considered dirty and sinful, and yet these churches are the ones that often end up in the news because children are victimized by church leaders.

I used to live in South Carolina, and I grew up in Virginia. I have also lived in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. I know church is a big deal to a lot of people in the southern states. It’s a huge part of the culture. It seems like some people down there think the more pious and churchgoing a person is, the better their moral character is bound to be. These folks invariably vote Republican, too, which is definitely not among the more “Christlike” of American political parties. They talk about morality and family values, being “decent” and clean cut, and working hard for a living. But then behind closed doors, there’s a lot of dark, creepy, illegal, and abusive behavior toward which many people turn a blind eye because these are supposedly men of God. It’s especially egregious when this is done to defenseless children, many of whom are easily manipulated, threatened, charmed, and victimized– particularly by “cool” adults who, for their own perverse purposes, make them feel admired, appreciated, or loved.

I have no doubt in my mind that if someone hadn’t tweeted about how gross these stickers are, being handed out by a “youth pastor”, it probably wouldn’t have been addressed. Because, as I pointed out above, apparently no one was actually supervising Mr. Wall, the “student pastor”. If he’s a student, he ought to be monitored, right? And then weeded out, if he can’t pass muster… or does really stupid shit like this. Imagine what would happen if a pediatrician gave out “I <3 hot kiddie docs” stickers. Or a teacher gave out “I <3 hot teachers” schwag. Or hey, what about a babysitter passing out “I <3 my hot babysitter” merchandise? It would be deemed completely beyond the pale. And this youth pastor is supposed to be a man of God? Sounds to me like he’s looking to be “worshiped” and “idolized” by young girls who have been conditioned to pray and obey, and have probably been “slut shamed”, to boot. It’s a recipe for abuse.

Some people are saying that Mr. Wall should go to jail for handing out these inappropriate stickers. I am not yet ready to go that far. I mean, if he’s done something besides handing out gross stickers that indicates that he’s really not safe in society, then yes, send him to jail. It could be that he needs counseling, and to be steered away from work with young people, at least at this point in his life. On the other hand, if a person is already 35 years old and they don’t know how yucky this is, I don’t know if there’s much hope to hold out for their reform. Someone probably should, at least, check out what he’s viewing on the Internet. I hope Mr. Wall will consider a new career path.

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condescending twatbags, narcissists, stupid people, videos, YouTube

The “Karen” channels: monetizing bad behavior on YouTube…

Yesterday, I got my third COVID shot. My arm is a little sore today. It was very sore yesterday, so this is an improvement. The sore arm is really the only side effect I’ve had, other than being a little chilled yesterday. I’m not sure if that was a result of the vaccine or a cold house. We turned up the heat and I felt better. My third shot, like the first two, was a Moderna vaccine. I wrote about the whole sordid experience on the travel blog yesterday. The one thing I learned is that the COVID lifestyle seems to have eroded my social skills.

After my vaccination “ordeal”, I came home and got in bed, which had nice, fresh sheets, then watched a couple of videos by my favorite YouTubers… and somehow, I ended up on a channel called Xenoshot. This channel features videos about people behaving badly in public. The guy who narrates the videos sounds like he’s channeling Donald Trump, complete with a disinterested, snarky, kind of snooty quality to his voice. To be honest, that vocal quality kind of turned me off, mainly because I think Donald Trump is the ultimate “Karen”.

I will admit, however, that a few of his videos are kind of interesting and entertaining… Like, for instance, the one below. I was especially glad to see it was about a man– I guess the male “Karens” are called “Kevins”. I have not made it a secret that I don’t like the trend of hijacking perfectly good given names to describe bad behavior. But I can’t deny that the woman in the below video got herself hooked up with a pretty terrible asshole. I would call him an asshole, though, not a “Kevin”.

She’s a pretty woman… she doesn’t need to give this guy another chance. What a psycho. He even got his mom to call.

I have noticed that most of this guy’s videos feature obnoxious women behaving badly. Below is one of the first videos I happened to see when it came on autoplay.

Actually, this makes me glad I’m not in the States. I think this behavior happens more often there than here.

The video below brought back flashbacks of my childhood in Virginia… not so much because of the yelling, but because of what the woman is wearing. Ugh… what a nightmarish situation. I would hate to have to live next to someone who acts like this. I don’t like neighbor (or landlady) drama.

This makes me want to move out to the woods. This one includes a lot of profanity.

Xenoshot’s channel led to other channels with similar content. I was suddenly reminded of my Italian friend Vittorio’s many frequent comments about the “weird-o-rama” culture in the United States. I’m sure that a lot of Germans would find this content amusing, but I can’t imagine a lot of people here acting like this here. For one thing, you can get in a lot of trouble filming or photographing people without their consent here.

And finally, there’s this lady, who called the cops because she didn’t like her son’s haircut. I like the barber, though. He seems like a nice guy. I got a kick out of his dialect. He sounds straight out of the northeast.

I can’t listen to too many of Xenoshot’s videos, mainly because his deadpan delivery is a turnoff. But, so is the channel’s content, which reminds me of just how out of control some people are in the United States. It also reminds me of how out of touch I’ve become with my own culture.

Seriously… I remember being in Europe the first time and feeling offended when Vittorio would comment on how strange the United States is. Now that I’ve been in Europe for seven years, I can totally understand how he came to that conclusion. And just to put things in perspective, Vittorio is a naturalized American and lived there for about 25 years. He moved back to Europe some time ago and married a German woman. I say, good on him for doing that. To be sure, Europe has its problems, but I can definitely relate to those who think the USA has a very odd culture compared to the rest of the world. It’s like a non-stop shit show.

I know for a fact that there are “Karen” types in Germany… even though I would never call them “Karens”. However, this is not behavior I see very often anymore. It actually makes a me a little scared of the prospect of moving back home someday.

So I think I’ll go mine for more mindless YouTube content…

Incidentally, I read that Jenna Ryan– Karen extraordinaire at last year’s insurrection– turned herself in to prison in Bryan, Texas on December 21, 2021. She’s already done a little over two weeks of her two month sentence. But she couldn’t enter prison without making a ridiculous comment comparing the treatment of “rioters” to treatment of Jews in Germany (I’m assuming during the 1940s). She whined:

“They’re making fun of my skin color. They’re calling me an ‘insurrection Barbie,’” she said.

“They have no idea who I am as a person, what my beliefs are, what I’ve been through, who I am,” she added. “They see me as a one-dimensional caricature. They don’t see me as a human.” 

“And so, that is the epitome of a scapegoat. Just like they did that to the Jews in Germany. Those were scapegoats. And I believe that people who are Caucasian are being turned into evil in front of the media.”

Are you serious, Jenna? Really?!

I’m all for trying to keep things in perspective when it comes to how the media spins a story. I am definitely against “mob mentality”. I don’t like “cancel culture”, and I totally believe that people should be allowed to redeem themselves. But Jenna repeatedly says and does ridiculous things, and justifies her very bad behavior. She is a very obvious narcissist, and narcissists are not good people.

What a dumbass.

I remember when Jenna Ryan made the news last year. She was promoting herself and her business very openly, as she also openly broke the law. And she and thousands of her Trump supporting “friends” did their best to overthrow the 2020 election results. Donald Trump LOST the election. He deserved to lose. And Jenna and her ilk had absolutely NO right to go against the will of the majority to try to keep him in office. She deserves to be in prison for what she did. It was a bad choice, and she should stop justifying her bad decision and the consequences that came out of it.

Comparing her situation to anything resembling what Jewish people in Europe faced 80 years ago is beyond ludicrous. Liberals haven’t been violently rounding up conservative voters and jailing or imprisoning them, simply for who they were, or their political or religious beliefs. They have been arrested and, in some cases, incarcerated, because they broke laws and put people in danger. And then I think back to what she said during her “two minutes” in the Capitol…

“You guys, will you believe this?” Ryan said on Facebook Live while inside the Capitol, according to the sentencing memo. “I am not messing around. When I come to sell your house, this is what I will do. I will fucking sell your house.”

Does this sound like someone who believes deeply in preserving the Constitution and maintaining the integrity of the election system? It doesn’t to me. Sounds like someone trying to make some money… and maybe a name for herself. She succeeded in making a name for herself, at least.

And then, according to NBC News:

On the Capitol steps, she declared that she was “tired of paying taxes” to “crooks,” prosecutors said in the memo. But she has not consistently paid her taxes over the years, according to the memo, and at the time owed $35,000 in back taxes. (She settled her debt in April.)

That doesn’t not even remotely sound like someone who cares about being a law abiding citizen. She’s just upset because she’s being held accountable and, rightly, is stuck in the federal jug for a few more weeks. She’s at a minimum security facility, too.

Was getting this photo worth it?

I won’t be surprised if Jenna doesn’t try to profit off her prison experience. She’ll probably write a book or something. People like her have no shame whatsoever. I’m sure she’s not 100 percent terrible. Few people are that awful. But I will say that in the year since I’ve “known” her name, she has shown incredibly bad behavior, extreme entitlement, some shockingly poor judgment and immense self-absorption. I truly hope she learns from her prison stint, but I have very slim expectations.

Anyway… I’m grateful that I don’t feel too poorly today. I usually vacuum on Thursdays, but I think I might wait until Saturday, which is when I plan to take down the Christmas trees. That will be messy, and I will need to get the vacuum out anyway, since the process of taking the trees down always results in dropped “needles” everywhere. And since vacuuming is basically a waste of time, I might as well save up my energy. Also, my arm does hurt a bit. Not a lot, mind you… and not as much as it did yesterday, but it is pretty sore. So I think I’ll fuck off and move on with the day. By tomorrow, I expect to be back to my old curmudgeonly self.

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law, true crime

My thoughts on Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial…

This morning, Bill and I were talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, who’s been all over the news this week. Rittenhouse sobbed during his testimony about the night of August 25, 2020, when he killed two men and wounded another. Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time, had traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin from his home in Antioch, Illinois. The teenager had gone to Kenosha to help “protect” property and act as a medic as protesters flooded the street, angered that police had shot and wounded a Black man named Jacob Blake.

From what I’ve read, the protest had become violent and chaotic. Protesters burned down several buildings and were destroying police cars. And yet, there was Kyle, driven by his mother over state lines, and carrying an AR-15 rifle, purchased for him by a friend who was over 18. At 17, Kyle Rittenhouse was too young to buy the weapon himself.

According to his testimony, Kyle Rittenhouse was being chased by the protesters he ended up shooting with the AR-15. He says he was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and later injured Gaige Grosskreutz. Although Rittenhouse has maintained that his actions were done in self-defense, prosecutors have argued that Rittenhouse “created the peril through his own reckless actions that caused others to fear for their own lives and led directly to the violence.” However, according to the article I linked, “mountains of video and photo evidence appear to show Rosenbaum acting aggressively and chasing Rittenhouse, Huber striking him with a skateboard and Grosskreutz pointing a pistol at him.”

So this wasn’t a case of a person cold-bloodedly walking up to someone and shooting them. This wasn’t a situation in which the victims were completely blameless. No matter what I might think about Kyle Rittenhouse’s actions or the wisdom of his decision to attend the protest with a weapon, the fact is, there’s evidence that he was being attacked by the men he shot. And that really weakens the prosecution’s case, in my view.

When I first heard about this case, I wondered what in the hell made Kyle Rittenhouse think his “services” were needed at a protest in another state? Why did he feel like he needed a weapon, when he was supposedly there to “help” protect property and tend to the injured? What was his mother thinking when she brought her 17 year old son to Kenosha and turned him loose on the streets?

According to an article published by the University of Rochester Medical Center, “the rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.” Kyle, at age 18, still has several years to go before he’s “fully baked”. The article continues:

…recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.

In teens’ brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.

I have read that Kyle Rittenhouse has been associating with white supremacists. Even if that’s true, I remember that he’s still a teenager, and is likely highly impressionable and impulsive. That doesn’t make his actions right, nor does it mean that I think he should get off “free and clear”. But I do think it mitigates his case somewhat. There must be a reason why Kyle Rittenhouse has ended up in this situation. There is a backstory that leads up to his decision to try to offer “help”, where clearly it wasn’t in his best interests to do so. Again, he’s still a teenager… and he obviously doesn’t yet have the more solid judgment or reasoning skills that most responsible adults have.

According to the NPR article I linked earlier in this post, a number of legal experts are saying that they think Kyle Rittenhouse will be acquitted of most of the charges. Prosecutors are now trying to get Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to allow jurors to consider lesser charges. This is because the prosecution’s evidence has been as useful for the defense as it has been for the prosecution.

In fact, Gaige Grosskreutz, who, as the lone survivor, was supposed to be the prosecution’s “star witness”, has made several inconsistent statements. He’s also admitted that he was, himself, carrying a pistol on an expired permit on the evening Rittenhouse shot and wounded him.

Defense attorney, Corey Chirafisi, cross-examined Grosskreutz, and asked “It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him — advanced on him with your gun, now your hands down, pointed at him — that he fired, right?”

And Mr. Grosskreutz responded, “Correct.” as one of the prosecutors put his head in his hands.

Yeah… I wouldn’t say that’s a good look for the prosecution. It doesn’t excuse the fact that Kyle Rittenhouse had no business being involved in the protest, but Grosskreutz doesn’t exactly inspire sympathy when he admits that he had a gun, too, and wasn’t carrying it legally.

Yikes.

Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense, and sobbed so hard that Judge Schroeder called a recess. He testified that he reached for the rifle as “Rosenbaum chased him and reached for his rifle, as Huber struck him with the skateboard and as Grosskreutz advanced on him with the pistol.” Rittenhouse said that he feared for his life. Frankly, based on that description, and especially considering his age, I can’t blame him for being terrified that the three men might kill him.

When Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger cross-examined Rittenhouse, he asked, “You understand that when you point your AR-15 at someone, it may make them feel like you are going to kill them, correct?”

And Rittenhouse responded, “Mr. Rosenbaum was chasing me. I pointed my gun at him, and that did not deter him. He could have ran away instead of trying to take my gun from me, but he kept chasing me. It didn’t stop him,”

My guess, not having been there, but having personally experienced being hopped up on adrenaline, that none of the people involved in this altercation were thinking straight. They were probably all in a state of “fight or flight”, brought on by extreme fear, aggression, and an overload of testosterone and adrenaline.

Given that, I don’t see Kyle Rittenhouse as a cold-blooded murderer who is undeserving of mercy, even if I am personally disgusted by his politics, and I realize that he’s now killed two men. I also don’t believe that most people who commit serious crimes when they are minors should have their lives ruined. While I’m certain Kyle knew that killing is wrong and against the law, he didn’t, and still doesn’t, have the mind of an adult. He proved that his judgment wasn’t very sound when he decided to attend the protest alone, stayed out after curfew during a protest, lied about being an EMT, and carried a weapon that he wasn’t legally permitted to have.

But the case hasn’t gone very well for the prosecution, which is why they’re asking the judge to allow jurors to consider lesser charges. I think the lesser charges are probably reasonable, but based on what I’ve read about the judge, I have a feeling he might not allow it. He seems somewhat sympathetic to Rittenhouse. Edited to add, Bill says the judge is allowing the lesser charges to be considered. Of course, the final verdict is up to the jury.

Hmm… this doesn’t look so good for the prosecution.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this case. A verdict is expected next week. Based on what I’ve read, both about the case itself, and the judge involved, I have a feeling Mr. Rittenhouse will not be spending long years in prison, as a lot of people seem to hope he will. While I agree that he was wrong to kill two men and wound another, and he had absolutely NO BUSINESS being at the protest in the first place, I don’t think he should rot in prison. I also hope he wises up about the right wing white supremacist types who have championed his cause. If he continues to hang around with them, there’s a good chance he will end up in trouble again. And the next time, the case against him might be much more compelling.

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