true crime, wingnuts

Repost: Couple shocked when they are arrested after their baby dies of starvation…

Most of this post originally appeared on my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife on August 9, 2018. I am reposting it today, because I just don’t feel like writing anything fresh right now. I’m a little depressed today. This case has been updated, so I will offer what details I uncover about it, as of the present.

Shocked!  Shocked!  I tell you!

Meet Seth Welch and his wife, Tatiana Fusari of Solon Township, Kent County, Michigan.  Together, they are the 27 year old parents of three children, with a fourth evidently on the way.  Seth and Tatiana are currently sitting in jail.  Why?  Because one week ago, their ten month old daughter, Mary Welch, died of malnutrition and dehydration.  On August 2nd, Mary’s parents found her dead in her bed.

Mary was their third child and she had been failing to thrive.  Seth and Tatiana had noticed her “skinny” appearance and low weight for at least a month prior to Mary’s death.  Instead of taking her to a doctor, Seth and Tatiana decided to avoid seeking competent medical help for Mary.  They claim they did so for “religious reasons”, although Tatiana Fusari also said that they feared that child protective services would take their kids.  Their worst fears have come to pass.  The couple’s two older children are now in the care of their maternal grandparents and Seth and Tatiana are now charged with felony murder and first degree child abuse.

I first read about this couple on a site called LADbible.  I don’t generally like to use sites with obvious agendas as my primary sources, although it seems that author Mike Wood did a fair enough job reporting about this case.  The Washington Post has also printed an article about this couple who feared CPS more than losing their daughter to malnutrition and dehydration. 

Someone in the Duggar Family News: Life is not all pickles and hairspray group wrote that this couple is from their hometown.  Seth Welch is a farmer who also posted a number of video sermons against vaccines, “bad medicine”, and doctors whom he described as “priesthoods of the medical cult”.  He also has an 8 year old child from an earlier relationship and, according to his public Facebook page, his wife may be pregnant again.  ETA: As of 2023, that page is not working anymore.

Most damningly, Welch explains why he didn’t vaccinate his kids:

“It didn’t seem smart to me that you would be saving people who weren’t the fittest. If evolution believes in survival of the fittest, well then why are we vaccinating everybody? Shouldn’t we just let the weak die off and let the strong survive?”

It’s hard for me to read that comment and reconcile that with the look of utter shock on Welch’s face as the charges against him and his wife are read.  On his Facebook page, he writes of Mary’s death:

Heart is about shattered right now. 

Woke up to Mary dead in her bed this morning – this evening had our children removed and placed on “no contact” because Tati and I are the worst parents ever – Thankfully they are with grandma and grandpa

Just numb inside right now. And I’m really enjoying the loving embrace of an isolation cell from the cops and government employees who keep assuring me “they are only here to help”.

Really?  I would say that if your helpless infant daughter is clearly not thriving and you do absolutely nothing to help her, you would rank as among the “worst parents ever”.  According to his Facebook page, Seth prefers eating a “natural diet”.  Well, Seth, good luck with that while you’re in the jug.  I suspect you will be carb loading from now on…  

People are understandably horrified about Mary Welch’s untimely death.  Lots of folks have posted hateful and profane diatribes on Seth Welch’s Facebook page.  I’m not going to follow suit because I don’t think calling him and his wife “pieces of shit” is very constructive, even if I understand the sentiment.  I have noticed that a lot of men have gone off the rails, though, and become hyper-religious.  One of my friends is originally from Sweden but now lives in Texas.  He’s very intelligent and extremely well-educated.  His comment was:

Steven Weinberg the Nobel Prize winning physicist from Texas said “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

I wonder though if religious fanatics/fundamentalist like these people, really are good from the beginning?

Personally, I think a lot of the extreme religious wackos tend to be very narcissistic men who have a lot of charisma and use religion as a means of satisfying their needs for adoration and attention.  They prey on empathetic people and use them, often hoodwinking them into their diabolical schemes.  Religion probably makes these deeds more palatable.  I shouldn’t say it’s always men who do this.  For example, my husband’s narcissistic ex-wife similarly used religion to satisfy her narcissism.  However, she chose a patriarchal religion to do it.  Most western religions are pretty patriarchal.  

I don’t know what Seth Welch’s beliefs are, other than what I read in the couple of articles I’ve seen about his case.  He does have a Facebook page for his “ministry” (ETA: as of 2023, it is still up and functional. People have left awful comments on it.), but it doesn’t appear to be very popular.  There must be a reason why he turned out the way he did.  Maybe there will be more information as the case proceeds.  I’m already seeing some indication that perhaps the other two children aren’t Tatiana’s.  An article from a news station indicates that she was wrongly identified as the mother of the two living children. 

I see that he’s also a Trump fan…  or, at least he liked Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal

Maybe a little less time spent reading Trump’s drivel and a little more time spent tending to your children is in order, Seth.  Don’t you think?

And he has pictures of his farm and garden on his page, indicating that he does know how to nurture plants.  It’s a pity he didn’t nurture his baby daughter.  He also has a couple of Nubian goats whom he says probably would be turned into meat.  Perhaps their lives will be spared, now that Farmer Seth is cooling his heels in the county lockup.

I know this isn’t funny, so I probably shouldn’t make subtle jokes…  It’s just hard to fathom the ridiculousness of this situation.  It’s truly a very sad case.  I feel horrible for the other children whose lives are going to be upended by all of this.

On another note…  I wonder when this photo will be turned into a meme…

Maybe by tomorrow?  Hell, maybe I’ll make a meme out of it myself.  

As of 2023…

Seth Welch and Tatiana Fusari are now divorced. In 2020, Seth Welch was convicted of murder and first degree child abuse in the death of Mary Welch. In October 2021, Tatiana Fusari was also convicted of murder and child abuse. Fusari claimed that she was abused and tortured by her ex husband, Seth Welch, and that made her unable to take care of their ten month old daughter, Mary. During her testimony, Tatiana recalled waking Seth up to feel Mary kick:

“He got mad at me because I wouldn’t let him sleep,” Fusari said. “So…he asked me ‘what the (expletive) was wrong with me’, and he rolled over to face me, and he started punching me in the face. And then I tried to roll over onto my right side, to face the wall, so he would just leave the front side of me alone, but he put his weight on me.”

The next day, Tatiana went into labor. She thought Mary was small because she was born prematurely. She didn’t think anything was wrong with the baby. When she was arrested in 2018, Tatiana Fusari didn’t disclose that she had been abused by Seth Welch. In October 2021, her story was very different. She claimed that she “needed to tell the truth” and that Seth raped her “day after day”. She also stated that Seth controlled her phone and timed her to see how long it took for her to get to and from her job. He printed out a master schedule and demanded that Tatiana stick to it to the minute.

Tatiana Fusari testifies…

Tatiana’s mother-in-law, Judy had mentioned that Mary didn’t look well, and asked Tatiana when she was going to take her to see a doctor. Tatiana stated that Seth thought Mary was fine. He didn’t trust doctors and didn’t want the “government involved in the family’s business.” When Tatiana brought up taking the baby to see a doctor:

“He smacked me across the face,” Fusari said. “He said ‘you know what the (expletive) I think about doctors. Do you want to keep bringing these people into our home?’ And I dropped it.”

Tatiana Fusari also alleged that Seth only wanted Mary fed with food grown on their farm. He would not allow her to be fed with store bought formula. Anytime she questioned him, he would beat her.

Prosecutors argued that Mary’s autopsy showed that she wasn’t feeding Mary. At the time of her death, Mary weighed just 8 pounds. Both Seth and Tatiana were sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for murdering Mary Welch.

Tatiana Fusari’s sentencing.

This is a really sad case. It didn’t have to end the way it did. I hate to think of people rotting in prison for the rest of their lives, but in this case, it’s probably warranted. I would definitely say Seth Welch is where he needs to be. Tatiana Fusari may have very well been his victim, but she had a responsibility to act. It’s tragic that she didn’t ask for the help she obviously needed, for herself, and for her helpless, innocent baby girl.

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memories, movies, social media

Repost: White people who lack empathy… or, I’m glad I never met “Margaret’s” racist brother…

This is a repost. I wrote this hybrid movie review/story entry for my original Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife on June 15, 2017. I reposted the first part of this story on May 28, 2021. I’ve decided to repost this follow up today, because I’m not quite ready to post fresh content. It might be advantageous to read the first part of this story before reading this one. I’m leaving this mostly as/is.

Last night, I watched a movie I hadn’t seen in probably thirty years or more.  The film was called Carbon Copy.  It was released in 1981 and starred George Segal and Susan St. James.  It also featured a young and talented Denzel Washington, who was making his film debut.  I used to watch that movie on HBO all the time when I was a kid, though I didn’t understand it as well back then as I do today.

A trailer for the film, Carbon Copy…

I was moved to purchase Carbon Copy because it had a very catchy theme song that I got stuck in my head.  With music by Bill Conti and lyrics by Paul Williams, the bouncy tune was definitely an ear worm, if not a bit dated.  Having watched the film last night, I can honestly say I enjoyed it.  It’s basically a satirical look at racist white people and the stupid things they say and do.

The story begins with Walter Whitney (Segal) in bed with his frigid wife, Vivian (St. James).  She’s not into him and he’s frustrated.  He gets out of bed and we immediately see that he lives in a fabulous mansion in fictional San Marino, California.  Whitney is a wealthy ad executive and has all the trappings of success.  He has a pretty wife, a beautiful home, a well-paying job.  But money doesn’t buy everything.

Walter’s wife is a snob.  His stepdaughter, whom he apparently adopted, treats him with contempt.  His father-in-law is his boss and treats him with condescension.  Even his job was handed to him with strings attached.

One day, Walter gets a blast from the past.  A young black guy named Roger Porter (Washington) shows up at his office asking for him.  He mentions that he’s the son of Lorraine.  Lorraine is a dear friend of Walter’s, though he hadn’t seen her in many years.  Walter’s face lights up at the mention of her name.  He asks his secretary to send Roger in for a visit.  Roger comes in, parks his ass at Walter’s desk and drops a bomb on him.  He’s actually Walter’s son!

At first, Walter doesn’t believe him.  I wouldn’t believe him, either, since Roger/Denzel doesn’t look like he’s biracial; but hey– it’s the movies, right?  Roger then convinces Walter than he is his long lost 17 year old son and his mother has just died.  Walter, being somewhat decent, decides he has to help Roger.  He brings him home after pitching the idea of hosting a black kid to his racist wife.

Both Walter and Vivian are extremely ignorant, condescending, and racist to the point of ridiculousness.  They wrongly assume Roger is a high school dropout who has no idea how civilized people live.  He’s served fried chicken as they tell him he’ll be attending the Presbyterian church, even though Roger says he’s a Baptist.  They force him to stay in the garage instead of their home.

Then, when Walter and Vivian have an argument, Walter tells his wife he’s really Roger’s dad.  Vivian’s reaction is extreme, to the point of needing a doctor and a minister.  In short order, Walter finds himself tossed out on the street with his son.  He’s abandoned by his friends, his family, even his doctor, lawyer, and minister. 

Walter and Roger move into a cheap motel, then a crappy apartment and Roger soon finds himself shoveling horse shit.  As he’s knocked off his powerful white station in life, Walter supposedly learns something about what it’s like to be black.  He realizes that his former life was a very fragile sham– an illusion of decency and decorum.  Walter develops empathy and appreciation for his son.  He rejects his shallow existence and becomes a much better person.

Funny scene about assumptions some white people make about black people…

Carbon Copy is kind of a silly movie and it makes its points with over the top gags that require viewers to suspend their disbelief.  There were parts of the movie that were actually a little offensive to me today, although they probably wouldn’t have been in the less politically correct early 80s.  And yet, after yesterday’s post, I realize that it was kind of appropriate that I was watching that movie.  I realized that many white people still have a long way to go.

Yesterday, because I was curious about “Margaret”, my very first roommate at Longwood College, I went into obsessed fan mode and looked up her brother.  I wondered if he was anything like her.  Granted, almost 27 years have passed since I was last in the same room with Margaret.  For all I know, she may have evolved into a decent person.  Still, her behavior in 1990 was very strange, even for a stupid 18 year old.  I went looking to find out if Margaret’s brother– also adopted– was as big of an asshole as his sister was. 

Looking at his Facebook page and the page made for their father’s business, I can see that Margaret’s brother works for their father.  He’s got a bunch of public stuff on his Facebook page.  Some of it’s fairly innocuous.  Like, for instance, I learned that Margaret’s brother– let’s call him Chip– is a proud father of four.  He’s happily married and a Christian.  He loves being Southern and living in the South. 

I also learned that Chip is a firm believer in Donald Trump’s genius.  He thinks that transgender people should be forced to use the bathroom corresponding to their genitalia.  He obviously considers himself a “gentleman” and promotes attitudes reflecting conservative values.  He’s probably pretty sexist, too. 

Further down the page, I find the following…

Chip expresses some very ignorant and rather offensive views about the Civil War and the Confederacy.  I can see that he’s clearly very proud of his Southern heritage and he’s against the recent moves to get rid of Confederate war memorials. 

Having lived in South Carolina myself, at a time when the stars and bars were still flying over the South Carolina Statehouse, I can see where these opinions formed.  To be honest, I am not a fan of trying to whitewash history.  The fact is, there was a Civil War.  The South lost, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t great leaders from the Confederacy.  Should we still be publicly celebrating them in 2017?  Perhaps not.  But I can understand why some Southerners want to hang onto their memorials, even if I don’t agree with them.  They do have a right to their opinions, ignorant as I might think they are.

On the other hand, the Civil War has been over for a long time.  The South is a part of the United States, not an entity unto itself.  And while I’m sure Chip is “nice” to black people he sees face to face, I have a feeling that deep down, he’s quite racist.  Maybe that doesn’t matter to him.  Since I don’t know him, I can only base an opinion on what I can see in the messages he broadcasts publicly on social media.

I read that Chip’s father served on some board at UVa. that celebrates diversity.  He also served as a Peace Corps Country Director in Jamaica.  How does that jibe with his son’s evidently racist views?  These attitudes don’t form in a vacuum.   

I read up on Chip’s mother, evidently a woman very proud of her Greek heritage.  She and her husband met on a blind date when she was working for Senator Strom Thurmond.  I happened to be living in South Carolina at the tail end of Thurmond’s time in the South Carolina legislature.  Although he was much celebrated in South Carolina, Mr. Thurmond had some pretty racist views, especially in his early political days.  If Chip’s mom worked for Mr. Thurmond in the 60s, she probably has some racist ideas, too.  I know that racist ideas often die hard, especially in older people.  On the other hand, maybe she’s evolved.  Based on her Facebook page, which also celebrates Donald Trump, I doubt it.   

According to Wikipedia: During his 1948 campaign, Thurmond said the following in a speech, being met with loud cheers by the assembled supporters:  listen (help·info)

I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.[6]

There was a time when Chip’s views weren’t that strange to me.  I grew up in Virginia, which despite being geographically pretty far north, is a very Southern state.  I spent time with people like Chip, although I don’t think most of the people I hung around with regularly were quite as drunk on the southern pride Kool-Aid as Chip appears to be.  But his attitudes are not unfamiliar to me.  When I was younger, I probably even agreed with them to some extent.  Then I left the country a few times and started getting to know people from other places.  My opinions began to change, hopefully for the better.  I like to think I have a broader mind now than I did twenty years ago, although I’m sure I still have a ways to go.  

It’s funny that a silly comedy like Carbon Copy, which was made in 1981, is still so relevant today. If you watch the film, you can see that it goes to extremes.  Walter Whitney tells his wife he’s the father of a black son and, just like that, he gets ousted from his cushy lifestyle.  We all know that it wouldn’t actually happen that way.  In reality, Walter’s downfall would probably be a bit more like Dan Aykroyd’s was in Trading Places, a 1983 film also starring Eddie Murphy.

Trading Places’ plot was somewhat like that of Carbon Copy’s.  Basically, a rich white guy gets knocked off his pedestal by a black guy.  He ends up living in a way he never thought he would, while the formerly broke black guy takes his place.  It’s not quite the same execution, but the message is similar.  Many people have a lot to learn about empathy.  

Trading Places trailer…

Anyway, if you haven’t seen Carbon Copy, I’d recommend it.  It’s a bit dated and kind of silly, but it does drive home a point that is still valid over 35 years later.  And then, when you’re done watching Carbon Copy, you can watch Trading Places, which was a more famous and successful film about the same thing.

As for Margaret and her dysfunctional clan, I think I’m done peeking into their lives.  My curiosity is now satisfied, probably for at least another 27 years.

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book reviews, family

Repost: 20 years… or things I have in common with Pat Conroy

This is a repost. I composed this on December 7, 2013, when we lived in Texas. A lot has changed since I wrote this post. My father died in July 2014. My husband now has contact with one of his daughters and they have done a lot of reconciliation. This post was true as of 2013, at least from my perspective. It’s now 2023, so please bear that in mind… I’m just reposting this because it includes a book review. Incidentally, I believe Pat Conroy’s daughter, Susannah, eventually came around, too.

Yesterday, was my husband’s daughter’s 20th birthday.  Surprisingly enough, we didn’t talk about her.  We usually talk about my husband’s kids on significant days like their birthdays or on Christmas.  I don’t know if he thought about her at all, though I did, in a fleeting way.  I have only met her once, but she’s still my husband’s kid and he loves her, despite her painful rejection of his affections. ETA: My husband’s daughter is a totally different person since she got away from her mother.

I don’t like my husband’s kids.  I liked them when I met them and I know they’ve been used as pawns and were lied to.  But that doesn’t change the way they’ve behaved.  I never had enough time to get to know them and understand why they are the way they are.  I’ve only seen the aftermath of their actions, which were devastating and deeply painful to their father and to me, simply because I happen to live with and love their dad.  And so, as curious as I am about them and as sorry as I am that things are the way they are, I don’t want to know them. ETA: I’m glad I know younger daughter better today.

Curiously, as I write this, I am also thinking about Pat Conroy’s latest book, The Death of Santini.  Pat Conroy and I share some common experiences.  We are both children of alcoholic, abusive military officers.  Pat and I were both born and raised in the South.  We have lived and spent time in some of the same places.  We both have Celtic origins.  And like my husband, Pat Conroy has a daughter who doesn’t speak to him. 

Conroy’s daughter, Susannah, is a product of his second marriage.  She was born in Italy, where Conroy and his second wife, Lenore, were living at the time.  If you read Conroy’s novel, Beach Music, you get a sense of her.  It seems to me it was around the time that novel came out that Susannah quit talking to her father.  I’m sure the book and her parents’ divorce had a lot to do with that decision.  As I don’t know what it’s like to live with Pat Conroy, I can’t say whether or not the decision was ultimately justified.  I will say that based on what Conroy writes in The Death of Santini, his second wife had things in common with Bill’s ex wife.

Conroy’s latest book also deals a lot with the divorce and death of his parents.  He adored his mother, though admits that she was a very flawed person.  Conroy’s books always feature a beautiful mother figure who is both vain and ambitious.  He had a complicated love/hate relationship with his fighter pilot father, whom he alternately describes as a heartless tyrant and a comical, larger than life, hero of a man. 

While my own parents aren’t quite as vivid as Conroy’s parents apparently were, I am familiar with the roles.  My dad was an Air Force navigator who had ambitions to be a pilot and once told me that had he done it over, he would have joined the Marines and been a fighter pilot.  My mother is a beautiful, classy woman who always seemed to aspire to better living.  Without benefit of a bachelor’s degree, she ran her own business for about 30 years and played organ for local churches.  They are still married and will celebrate 56 years of marriage three days after Christmas.  Or… maybe my mom will remember it. My dad has pretty severe dementia these days.

Conroy’s book has him sort of reconciling with his parents.  I don’t know if it really happened the way he describes it, though it makes for a hell of a story.  It’s unlikely I will reconcile with my dad because my dad is not in his right mind and lives about 1500 miles away from me.  I mostly get along with my mother, when she’s not in a mood. ETA: My mom is a totally different person since my dad passed.

I have three sisters, too.  They are much older and we’ve never been very close.  I have a cordial relationship with two of my sisters and pretty much avoid talking to the third one.  Like me, Conroy has a sister who is at odds with him.  However, my sister is not quite as brilliant or batshit crazy as Conroy’s apparently is.  Carol Conroy is a poet and, reading her brother’s book, I’m led to believe that she’s brilliant.  I see on Amazon.com that she has one book currently available called The Beauty Wars and on the book’s cover, she’s called Carol “Yonroy”.  I don’t read a lot of poetry, but somehow I don’t doubt that Pat’s sister is talented… though not nearly as famous as he is.  She might deeply resent that. 

On the other hand, Conroy seems to have a mostly convivial relationship with his brothers, two of whom worked at “Bull Street”, which is where the state mental hospital in South Carolina was located. I am familiar with that complex because I, too, worked there when I lived in South Carolina.  It was when worked for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) as a graduate assistant.  I want to say the state mental hospital had been relocated by that time… I think it’s now on Farrow Road.  But the buildings are still there and if you read Conroy’s novels, you will read his references to it.  It’s where they used to send the crazy folks. 

Pat Conroy’s youngest brother, Tom, had schizophrenia and spent a lot of time on “Bull Street”.  He spent a lot of time as a crazy derelict, wandering around Columbia, getting into legal trouble, and eventually taking his own life.  Pat writes about this in his book and it was eerie to read, since his brother killed himself by jumping off the 14th floor of the Cornell Arms apartment building, which is just kitty cornered to the South Carolina Statehouse.  I used to walk and jog around that area a lot and I know just where that building is located.  Tom Conroy died in August 1994, just months after I finished my college degree at Longwood College and only a few years before I would matriculate at the University of South Carolina, where Conroy (after earning a degree at The Citadel) and his siblings also studied. 

In one part of his latest book, he writes about delivering a eulogy for James Dickey on the campus at USC… in the Horseshoe, where he could easily see the building where his brother died.  I spent a lot of time on the Horseshoe, a beautiful, historic, lush part of campus.  And when I was a student at Longwood, I had a couple of professors who earned their doctoral degrees at USC.  One of my professors studied under Dickey and went drinking with him.  

Though I didn’t study English at USC, I often felt a tug toward that department when I would see writers come to speak there.  Pat Conroy spoke at USC in 2000; he was a last minute replacement for the late Kurt Vonnegut, another favorite writer who had to cancel because of a house fire.  I would have gone to hear either of them speak, but I was delighted that Conroy visited… I even flunked a healthcare finance exam so I could attend.  Granted, I probably would have flunked the exam regardless, but Conroy gave me a good reason to quit studying.  In the grand scheme of things, passing the exam ultimately wouldn’t have made a difference in my life.  Technically, I got a D on the exam, but ended up passing the class with a suitable grade.

Anyway… this post has rambled on long enough.  I just wanted to put in words these thoughts, which don’t really belong in a book review, but are still in my head.  I really feel a kinship with Pat Conroy, not just because he’s a southern writer, but because his life has many parallels to mine.  And we both share a love of ribald humor.  If you’re a Conroy fan, I recommend reading his latest non-fiction effort.  In fact, I would say that as much as I like his novels, his non-fiction books are far better in my opinion.  But I guess he had to become famous by fictionalizing his life story in several novels before people would care about the real story.

And below are the comments on the original posts…

AlexisAR

December 10, 2013 at 8:29 AM

I took a class in regional literature last year. The only thing of value I took from it that I didn’t have going into it was exposure to Conroy’s writings. I’m not a southerner but enjoy his works nonetheless. 

Replies

  1. knottyDecember 10, 2013 at 3:16 PM Most of Pat Conroy’s books are basically the same story. But he has such a way with language that his novels can be a joy to read. I didn’t like his last one, South of Broad, so much, but the others are very entertaining. I love his non-fiction books even more, though. He has led a very interesting life. I imagine he’s not too easy to live with, though.

The Author

January 22, 2019 at 4:32 PM

Pat Conroy’s brother didn’t jump from the 14th floor. I lived there at the time and was with a friend on that floor at the time and actually saw him fall past the window. He may have jumped from the 15th floor as he was helping a wheelchair-bound tenant there. But more likely the roof, as it was easily accessible at the time. After the suicide they made it virtually impossible to access the roof.

Replies

  1. knottyJanuary 22, 2019 at 5:02 PM Interesting… and very sad. Thank you for commenting. This post gets a surprising number of hits. Pat obviously meant a lot to many people.

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first world problems, healthcare, sex, slut shamers, social media

Repost: I could jump on the FYI bandwagon tonight…

Here’s a repost of my reaction to Kim Hall’s viral blog post about braless teenaged girls in towels or pajamas. I’m sharing it to go with today’s partial repost. It was written for my original blog on September 5, 2013, when I was living in Texas. I’m mostly leaving it “as/is”. I think it’s a pretty good post.

Yesterday, my Facebook feed was positively littered with links to a certain blog post written by a Texas mother of four who wrote an open letter to all the slutty girls out there not wearing bras and taking selfies before they go to bed.  I could link to that post, but I don’t see the point of doing that.  It’s all over the Internet.

To be honest, I’m of a mixed mind about this woman’s post.  I am generally not a fan of people taking slutty looking selfies.  If they are teenaged girls, I figure it’s because they are caving to some kind of external message that they need to be “sexy” in order to be desirable.  I think that’s sad, but I sort of understand it.  Growing up is hard.  Still, if I were a mother, that would not be something I’d want to encourage.  On the other hand, I don’t think “slut shaming” is good, either.  I think it’s best to encourage common sense. 

Of course “Mrs. Hall” immediately made her post the subject of scorn when she included photos of her handsome sons in their bathing suits at the beach.  Her daughter was wearing a modest one piece tank suit and it looked like they were just having clean family fun.  But if you’re going to be complaining about “scantily clad teenaged girls” who might give your sons boners, you ought not post photos of your boys dressed in a similarly scantily clad fashion.  Yes, I know that on the beach, it’s perfectly acceptable to be wearing a bathing suit, while most people don’t think of pajamas or nighties as clothes you’d see in public.  But the fact is, we still see a lot of skin on those boys… and if your point is that girls need to cover up, you’d best take care with your own photos.

Apparently, Mrs. Hall then thought better of it and posted another version of her post with photos of the kids covered up.  But the damage had already been done and lots of folks began posting rebuttals.  These days, America is pretty polarized when it comes to morality.  We have a lot of really religious folks out there who are trying to take back the country, as it were, and at least by my observations, seem to be taking things to extremes.  We also have a lot of folks who are proudly atheist and are also taking things to extremes.  The people in these two groups may not be as many strong as those of us in between, but they are very loud, and some of them are very articulate.  Consequently, the Internet becomes inundated with viral posts that both speak to and repel people who identify with these two groups.

I have friends on both sides of the spectrum, so I’ve seen the FYI post for girls a number of times already.  I have also seen rebuttals and parodies.  I found the initial blog post hypocritical, smug, and ill-conceived… but I also understood where the mom was coming from, even if she came off as quite sanctimonious. 

You know, the one thing that I really came away with is that I’m sort of glad I didn’t have kids.  I wanted them, but raising kids is so complicated.  Even without the FYI blog post, there was an article about how overweight kids are having “fat letters” sent home.  Childhood obesity is no doubt a big problem, but shaming people is rarely the way to get them to reform.  And there are just so many reasons why people get fat.  Could be a simple issue of too many calories, not enough exercise.  Could be because the kid is lonely and eats to soothe emotional pain.  Could be because the kid is being bullied or abused by other kids, their parents, or someone else. 

I just don’t see how sending home a letter about the kid’s BMI is the school’s role.  Unless the school’s staff is going to help the parents do something about the problem, I don’t see why they are more qualified to “diagnose” obesity more than a medical professional is.  Medical professionals also have the added ability to determine how obesity is affecting the children in question.  Moreover, kids whose parents don’t care aren’t likely to care if they get a letter, though the kid probably will. 

Of course, if the school sent home a letter about my BMI, my parents would have been embarrassed and would have taken it out on me.  I remember being in 9th grade and weighing about 115 pounds.  I was weighed in front of everyone and the coach made some comment about how I must have had a big lunch.  I was humiliated, even though now I realize that I was nowhere near fat at that point of my life.  I would love to be that weight today.  Maybe after I’ve been dead a few months…

I got a lot of “fat shaming” from my parents even when I wasn’t overweight and struggled with fucked up eating habits for years.  I’ve reached a point at which I don’t care as much as I used to, but the memories still hurt… and probably had a lot to do with why I was so old when I finally had a real relationship with a man.  Fortunately for me, he turned out to be a great guy who treats me like gold.  It could have easily gone the other way, though.

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is that there are an awful lot of people self-righteously sticking their noses where they don’t belong.  Mrs. Hall’s open letter may have resonated with a lot of people, but she probably should have addressed boys and girls, not just girls.  And she should have practiced her own counsel.  And the fat shaming asshats are not doing anything but making childhood more miserable with their letters home.  Adolescents are vulnerable, especially when it comes to matters pertaining to their self image.  Eating disorders are serious problems that can wreak havoc on those who  have them and those who love them.  

Childhood obesity is a problem.  Teen sex, especially when it leads to consequences like pregnancy or diseases, is a problem.  Something does need to be done about these issues.  I just don’t think shaming is the way to go about it.  Growing up is tough enough. 

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controversies, nostalgia, slut shamers, social media

Partial repost: Let’s keep ’em closed (and covered up), people…

Today’s entry is a partial repost, some of which I originally composed on September 5, 2015. I am reposting part of my blog today, because I feel like being kind of funny, and I’m not in the mood to write about Kevin McCarthy’s ridiculous Speaker of the House vote. I also don’t follow football, so I can’t opine about Dahmer Hamlin. And I’m not quite done with Jamie Lynn’s book… so here goes.

Before I repost what I wrote in 2015, here’s a brief briefing. The repost was based on a 2013 era viral blog post that was written by an Austin, Texas based mom, Kim Hall, who complained about teenaged girls posting pictures of themselves in various stages of undress. It went viral, with many people sharing it, and quite a few people writing snarky rebuttals, about what they considered “slut shaming”. This morning, I’m struck by how innocent we were in 2013, when so many of us were up in arms about pictures of scantily clad girls on Facebook and Instagram. Kim Hall wanted teenaged girls to cover up their bodies if they were going to share photos and videos on social media that her sons might see. Little did she know that a few years later, people would want them to cover up their faces, too. She had no way of knowing about the challenges that teens would face when a novel virus came to town. It’s almost comical…

Anyway, below is my 2015 post. It’s relatively brief by my standards, and most of the links still work.

***Two years ago (in 2013), a woman’s blog post about “slutty” looking teenagers went viral.  The post was called “FYI– If you’re a teenage girl…”  Why am I remembering this?  Because I checked Facebook’s “On this day” app and noticed that I had posted a link to a blogger’s funny rebuttal (I highly recommend reading the snarky rebuttal, which is still up. It’s hilarious!).  The post that had spawned the rebuttal was removed, but not before it was viewed millions of times and shared all over the place.  Indeed, I even responded to the post myself– but my rebuttal is on the old blog… maybe I’ll repost my rebuttal. Why not? 

A couple of days ago, another blogger wrote a post about an entirely different teen related topic.  Her post obliquely referenced the FYI post that has now been deleted but still exists all over the Internet.  Christine Organ writes:

Don’t worry; this isn’t going to be one of those letters. You know the kind. Some well-intentioned and wise adult writes with a just-trying-to-be-helpful shrug about how you should stop doing this or change that. Usually it has something to do with your clothing choices or selfie-taking habits or flirting protocols. Believe me, I’m just as sick of those “letters” as you are.  

Two years later, I’m remembering that post and how it caused such a stir.  An Austin, Texas mom named Kim Hall wrote somewhat eloquently about how she was going to block girls who post inappropriate photos and YouTube videos from her sons’ Facebook pages, because she didn’t want her boys seeing girls in their pajamas without bras, or wrapped in just a towel.  She didn’t want her boys to be unable to “unsee” the sexy teens in their midst, and think of them in a sexual way.  I’ve never been a teenaged boy, but my guess is that it matters little how girls are dressed when boys are at a certain age.  A good stiff breeze can make them think of sex. (I remember Mrs. Hall got in some hot water, too, because her post was originally littered with pictures of her shirtless sons, flexing their muscles in their swimming trunks. People thought that was very hypocritical, and it was! She later reposted it with the boys in street clothes, did some creative editing and rephrasing, and then took the post down altogether.)    

For the record, I don’t necessarily disagree with all of Mrs. Hall’s points.  I don’t like looking at scantily clad girls, either.  However, I think it’s pretty hard (heh heh… I wrote “hard”) to prevent people from seeing those images.  Humans are naturally curious beings and they like to see the forbidden.  So even if Mom scours her sons’ Facebook pages every day, they will probably still see some stuff she doesn’t want them to see.  They may end up with hardened dicks, too.  Perish the thought.

What amazes me is that I had totally forgotten about this incident and was suddenly reminded of it due to another blogger’s oblique mention of it.  I don’t know if she wrote her post about teenaged girls at the swimming pool almost exactly two years later on purpose, but it does seem kind of strange.  

I also wonder if Kim Hall knew that her blog post would take off like it did.  I mean, when she wrote her “open letter” to girls two years ago, did she know that it would be the subject of so many blog rebuttals, Facebook arguments, videos, and online magazine articles?  I wonder why she took it down, too.  It made her kind of famous.  Her blog is still up and was recently updated.  My guess is that she got tired of the attention.  Taking the post down was kind of like closing the barn door after the horse has already gone… but hell, it probably made her feel better.

The overwhelming message I got was that people should keep their legs closed… and their minds closed.  Because sex is bad.  Thinking about sex is bad.  And teenagers in towels are bad.  Especially on Facebook and Instagram.

My thoughts are a little scattered this morning.***

Now, on to my fresh post…

This morning, I noticed that someone in Alabama hit a post I wrote in late June 2020. It was about face masks and the totally nuts– over-the-top– reaction a lot of people on social media were having to COVID-19. At the time I wrote that post, I was feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and hopeless about the future. I was giving serious thought to getting rid of Facebook… a notion I’ve had a bunch of times over the years. It was mainly because I felt inundated with the prospect of a bleak, dystopian world, post COVID. I was tired of all of the annoying, sanctimonious preaching being done by all of the Google experts on social media. In 2020, COVID was very scary, but so was the public’s polarized reaction to it. I was genuinely feeling a bit crazed by it. I’m sure I wasn’t alone.

In the post someone hit today, I noted that I expected face masks to be a temporary measure. Fortunately, my predictions and expectations regarding the pandemic have mostly come to pass. Even here in uptight, but stoic, Germany, people have calmed down a lot about COVID. I was afraid that we would all be forced back into masks this winter, but that hasn’t come to pass. Masks are still required on most buses and trains, although Bavaria– which had the strictest regulations for a long time– recently dispensed with them on local trains. The masks are no longer needed on flights. They are still required in any medical office, including veterinary offices. But, I suspect, they will eventually be phased out, even though COVID is still a problem and there are new mutations. Life has mostly gotten back to normal, and that is a really good thing. Thank GOD.

I guess the one message I take from reading my post about face masks, before reading about a mom who was concerned about her sons seeing girls in towels and braless in pajamas on social media, is that our battles have a way of changing. There was a time, not so long ago, that people were all upset about a woman admonishing girls about being too “sexy” online and asking them to cover their bodies. That was what a whole lot of people were thinking and talking about, blissfully unaware that they would soon be angry about people not wanting to cover their faces. And there was a time, not so long ago, when the topic of the day was face masks, and how we not only needed to cover our bodies, but we also needed to cover our faces… forever. How very depressing. I’m glad most of us have moved on from that idea, at least for now.

In 2015, Donald Trump was still just a very rich and famous guy talking about running for office. No one had ever heard of COVID-19. The idea of wearing a face mask in public was just for germ avoidant freaks. In 2023, we’re all older, wiser, and wearier. I’d say most of us lost some innocence.

Just for shits and giggles, I went to see if Kim Hall is still blogging. It looks like she still is. Her blog was updated within the past few months, anyway. It appears that she’s a dedicated conservative Christian, and lately, her posts seem to be about the evils of allowing transgender teenagers to access treatment that would allow them to transition. She writes about how devastating it is when some of these folks wind up “de-transitioning”. To be honest, I don’t know much about how many people decide to de-transition. It’s not a subject I spend a lot of time researching. Apparently, Kim Hall is upset about it. I see in the summer of 2020, she posted about the “hysteria” over COVID, and how God has “lovingly” numbered our days. So we all might as well simmer down… those were not her actual words, but I think it was kind of the attitude she imparted. I don’t think we were in disagreement about that, based on what I wrote in 2020, although my reasoning has a lot less to do with God’s plan and more to do with how extreme reactions often do more harm than good.

Anyway… Kim Hall is probably better at blogging than I am. She has a Facebook following of about 11,000, while I recently took down my Facebook page for this blog. So what do I know? 😉 Looks like her kids are pretty much grown now, too, so that means she doesn’t have to concern herself with what they see on Facebook anymore. See? Battles change all the time!

And, what the hell… I think I’ll repost my 2013 commentary about Kim Hall’s post. Stay tuned.

 

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