communication, complaints, controversies, modern problems, social media, true crime

Sometimes it’s okay to complain…

Yesterday, I wrote a couple of posts that were kind of on the same theme. I wrote the first one for this blog. It was about how surprisingly hateful some people are about Brittney Griner being released from a Russian prison, while Paul Whelan stays in custody. Griner, who endured ten months of incarceration in Russia, was sent to San Antonio for medical treatment before she goes home to her wife in Phoenix, Arizona. Many, many people are apparently pissed off about this. They’d rather Brittney rot in a freezing cold Russian prison, where she’s too tall for a regular bed and her hands are too big for the usual labor of sewing. Most of these folks who are so salty toward Griner, and to Joe Biden for helping her, also claim to be Christians.

If you ask these people why they’re angry about Brittney Griner’s release, they’ll tell you it’s because she disrespected the flag by taking a knee during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner”. They think she hates her country, and for that reason, she should endure years of inhumane conditions in a prison behind the borders of our biggest enemy. I suspect they also don’t like Brittney because she’s not like they are. She’s 6’9″ tall. She’s Black and queer, and has a deep speaking voice. She uses marijuana. Deep down, people who espouse that much hatred are terrified by people who are different. They see Brittney as an immoral freak, and they want her banished for it. They also seem to think that she has no right to complain about racism. They tell her, “America– love it or leave it.” If something is wrong, you have no right to gripe. Because in their eyes, she’s less than they are.

Of course, Brittney has already shown us that she’s definitely NOT like the the people who want her to suffer. That’s a good thing. We need fewer people in our country who can’t embrace diversity. And we need fewer people who want to silence those who have legitimate concerns about the way things are going in the United States for anyone who isn’t a Christian, white, conservative male with a gun.

The other post I wrote yesterday was about how Bill and I complained about bad service we got at a wine shop in France. That entry was inspired by the reactions I got in a Facebook wine group I run. I posted about that experience because it was about wine shopping. The reactions I got initially blamed Bill and me for our bad experience. No one said it outright, but I got the sense that some people thought maybe I was being a “karen” (for lack of a better word). Somehow, ever since the term “karen” became popular, people seem to think that anytime someone complains, particularly if it’s a middle-aged, white woman of means, they’re acting like an entitled whiner.

In response to my post, I got some not so subtle chastising about my so-called lack of cultural sensitivity, lack of language skills (because I took Spanish instead of French when I was in school), and overall bad attitude. Another person assumed I had somehow “misunderstood” what had happened. They wanted to excuse the salesperson for serving straight up bad service, with generous side orders of disdain and disrespect. All we were trying to do was spend some money on local wines. For our efforts, we got the wrong wines, and egregiously rude treatment.

Then, when we complained, we got even more rude treatment, dismissing, discounting, and blame. I guess we shouldn’t have said anything? What really astonished me, though, was that the American people who were blaming ME for my bad experience were people who have never met me and don’t know the first thing about me. Why would they assume it was my fault that I had the misfortune of doing business with someone with a very obvious STANK attitude? All I did was go into a wine shop for a few minutes because I wanted to buy wine. Isn’t that what the wine shop is for?

I think it’s because in America, we’re quite fond of pushing toxic positivity. We discourage people from being negative, even if they have every right to complain. We like to blame the victim, even in situations that are egregiously unjust or horrific. Brittney Griner was arrested at the airport for having a small amount of hashish oil and vape cartridges in her luggage. Yes, it was against Russian law to have those items in her luggage, but it’s not like anyone was killed. I also highly doubt that the people who felt the nine years in prison was a just sentence would say the same thing if it was them or a loved one who got such a sentence, even in the United States. Mention harsh penalties, though, and you’re no doubt going to hear “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” Some people seem to think that if you do something wrong, no punishment is too harsh… especially if you’re different and dare to speak up about things.

This morning over breakfast, I was reading about the world’s most “welcoming” countries, in terms of which countries will allow visa free visitors from the most nations. Singapore was mentioned as a very “welcoming” country. I’m sure Singapore is a beautiful place with kind and interesting citizens. But when I think of Singapore, I can’t help but remember the 1994 case of Michael P. Fay, and how he wound up getting four strikes with a rattan cane for vandalizing cars and stealing road signs. When he committed his crimes, Michael Fay was 18 years old and had moved to Singapore to live with his mother and stepfather.

I remember, during Fay’s fifteen minutes of fame, a lot of people were saying that Fay had asked for the caning, which was originally set to six strokes. He also got four months in jail and had to pay about S$3500 (Singapore dollars). The United States government intervened in that case, too, and Fay wound up getting only four strikes of the cane, which caused bleeding and scarring on his buttocks. Then he was deported, and when he got home, he promptly got into more legal trouble.

I don’t think Brittney Griner is going to do what Michael P. Fay did, once she’s been released from the hospital. Moreover, I don’t think Brittney’s initial crime was of the same magnitude as Fay’s was. What Griner did ultimately didn’t harm anyone. Fay and his friends actually did significant harm to other people’s property, costing them money and inconveniencing them. Personally, I thought the caning was barbaric, and it obviously didn’t teach Fay anything. But Griner’s punishment was much worse, and not only did she endure inhumane conditions, but her own countrymen are hurling abuse at her. I wonder if they’d be this vicious if Brittney Griner was a straight, white woman with conservative proclivities.

Besides being male and Caucasian, Michael Fay had something going for him that Brittney didn’t. He committed his crimes at a time when social media didn’t exist, and the Internet was only just getting started. He also became infamous at a time when our country was less polarized and weird. Or maybe it just seemed that way to me. I do remember though, at the time of Michael P. Fay’s crime, some people were calling him a spoiled brat. But they weren’t gleeful about the prospect of his ass being literally shredded by the caustic strikes of a rattan cane. They weren’t calling for him to rot in a foreign hellhole. They weren’t telling him he had no right to complain.

Sometimes, things are just plain wrong. Sometimes, they’re flat out terrible. People should always have the right to point out the bad things, because that’s how things get better. Keeping silent when there’s been an injustice sends a message that everything’s okay. Sometimes a complaint might seem “silly”. I’m sure some people in my wine group thought I was posting about a first world problem. I’ll admit that getting the wrong wine isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things… although I mainly wrote that post because my wine group is pretty dead lately. Brittney Griner’s situation is, of course, much more serious. Before she went to Russia to play basketball, she had the gall to “take a knee” against racism. She had the nerve to speak up and be noticed, and point out that America isn’t all that great and needs improvement. For that, there are people who literally think she should be suffer for years. I’ll bet that a lot of those folks, fine upstanding Christians that they are, also secretly hope she dies. That’s how warm and tender these supposed “Christ loving” people are…

Anyway… I suppose I’ve gone on long enough. I feel inspired to do a little music today, so I think I’ll sign off and get to work on that. Have a great Saturday… and embrace your inner “karen” if you are so inclined and a situation merits it.

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condescending twatbags, silliness, social media

A little April Fool’s Facebook fuckery… you know what they say about what happens when you “ASS-ume”…

I’m writing another fresh post because I want to preserve this memory. I think it’s quite funny, actually. I hope it might inspire whoever reads this to stop and think before they respond to strangers with negativity.

I just read a news story in the Washington Post about how Singapore just lifted an outdoor mask mandate that has been going on since April 2020. That’s right. In Singapore, until last week, one could be fined or jailed for not wearing a face mask outdoors. Naturally, they still have to wear masks indoors, but the powers that be finally relented on outdoor mask usage.

In the story, there was an anecdote about a young man who went outside barefaced. He was exhilarated! This was what he’d been waiting two whole years to do! But he looked around, and almost everyone was still wearing a mask. It seems that people in Singapore are devoted to covering their faces, no matter what.

I’m kind of bored today, and feeling my oats. I also had a feeling this story would bring out the virtue signalers; so I decided to post a test comment. I simply wrote “Ridiculous.” I didn’t elaborate. I didn’t specify what I thought was ridiculous. I mentioned nothing about communism, brainwashing, sheep, or anything of that nature. I just wrote the word “Ridiculous.”

Sure enough, within a few minutes, a woman named Mary left me a nasty comment. She basically wrote that I’m the ridiculous one. Instead of lashing back at her, I asked how she managed to come up with such a personal comment about someone she doesn’t know.

She responded with another insult, writing something along the lines of how I don’t know anything about Singapore. On that point, she’s mostly right. I do know a few things about Singapore, but I’ve never visited there, or anything. Claiming that I know nothing at all isn’t accurate, though. So I asked her how she knows that I don’t know anything about Singapore. She came back and wrote that my comment was “uneducated”. Oh, and more than once, she accused me of being “triggered”. Intriguing… especially since I wasn’t the one who was hurling insults at strangers. Hmmm…

I wrote that I thought her comment was interesting, and asked her to imagine the assumptions I could make about her, based on her very negative, insulting comments to a perfect stranger. Not catching on to my little game, she came back with more insults and blind assumptions, to which I observed “You’re making assumptions again. All I wrote was ‘ridiculous’, and here you are, telling me off for writing that, making all kinds of sweeping judgments about my character. These last two years must have been very hard for you to respond with so much negativity.”

There was one more insulting comment, to which I pointed out that once again, she was making very personal, negative, insulting comments toward a perfect stranger, which made me assume that she’s unkind. I ended by writing something along the lines of, “I’m sorry you’re having such a bad day. I hope it gets better.” And I ended it with a smiley.

Mary left one more really snide comment about “whatever helps me sleep at night.” Then, she blocked me. Wow! Is this how she deals with people she knows offline? Her decision to block me struck me as very funny, so I posted “Was it something I said?”

In all seriousness, I DO think it’s ridiculous to be expected to wear a face mask outdoors, unless one is in a crowd of people who are mostly unvaccinated. I understand that face masks are common in Asia and many people wear them when they’re sick. It’s been that way for awhile. But I also do think that it’s “ridiculous” when a young Singaporean man is enthralled with the idea of legally being allowed to be bare faced, only to face extreme peer pressure to conform to the group, even when the authorities have relented. That is genuinely astonishing to me. But that’s just my opinion. Am I not allowed to share my opinion?

Now, that doesn’t mean I think Singapore as a whole is “ridiculous”. I never made a single derogatory comment specifically calling Singaporeans out as a people, as “Mary”, my mean spirited correspondent claims. I just think it’s crazy that someone goes outside without a mask and feels compelled to cover up because everyone else is covered up, even though the mandate for masking outdoors has been lifted. And, in my view, it’s even more ridiculous that so many people in the West are holding up Asian cultures as superior. I mean, in some ways, they probably are superior, but they have their issues, too. I think group think is one big negative issue in Asian cultures.

I just thought it would be interesting to see what kinds of comments I would get from random people in the comment section. I notice that no one else has chimed in, although one guy went through and liked all of my comments. I think maybe that’s the best way to respond to people… try to keep things matter of fact or even exceedingly polite and kind. Wish them well, while also discouraging them from being mean and nasty, and making erroneous assumptions about people whom they don’t know.

Maybe it wasn’t very “nice” to play games with Mary. I did give a thought to ignoring her. But I really did want to see how long it would take before my empathic comments pissed her off. I mean, she acted like I insulted her, but she called me “uneducated” and implied that I’m a bad person, all because my response to an article was the word “ridiculous”, instead of heaps of praise for the relentlessly masked citizens of Singapore. As it turned out, Mary didn’t have much patience with my assertive comments about her apparent tendency to make assumptions about strangers. I think Mary needs to take a deep breath. She might be surprised if she took the time to get to know me. I’m really not so bad.

I think that as someone who appears to want to be seen as “empathetic”, “cooperative”, and “with the program”, Mary is failing. How is her treatment of me different than any other form of discrimination? Especially since all she had to go on was my profile picture and a single word, with no vocal tone or body language to clarify my meaning. Does she routinely go around making hasty judgments about others? And is this the virtue signaling she wants to engage in?

Before Mary blocked me, I noticed she had pro-Ukraine profile and cover pics. I wonder if she’s ever served in the Peace Corps, as I did, in the former Soviet Union? I wonder if she’s ever gone weeks without electricity or running water, as I have? I wonder if she has master’s degrees in public health and social work, as I do? I mean, those are not fields that typically attract the self-absorbed. I wonder if she’s rescued as many dogs as I have? Surely that’s what “triggered, uneducated, ridiculous, people” like me do, right? Nah… she must be right. I’m just a right shithead. 😀 I shouldn’t share my opinions where people might read them.

Anyway, as Beau on YouTube says, “It’s just a thought.” I truly do hope Mary has a good day and her mood improves. Too bad we couldn’t end our conversation as friends. And I’d sincerely like to thank her for playing. 😉

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ethics, healthcare, politics

A most unproductive attitude…

Last night, a Facebook friend shared the following meme.

Hmmm… I’m not sure this works.

I understand people not wanting to see medical care being “wasted” on the non-compliant. It’s heartbreaking to read stories about people with cancer being turned away from hospitals because of unvaccinated people taking up beds as they die of COVID-19. I get that, in spite of overwhelming evidence that the vaccines help prevent severe illness and hospitalization, some people just aren’t on the bandwagon yet. They have this idea that there’s a conspiracy going on and that Democrats are trying to grab power and quash individual liberties.

I’m also not so naive that I don’t understand the concerns of people who are against mask and vaccine mandates. Personally, I don’t like the idea of being forced to wear a mask or be vaccinated against my will. But I also don’t like the idea of being hospitalized, helplessly gasping for air while my husband wrings his hands in anguish. I may not mind exiting the world as soon as possible, but COVID-19 is not the way I would like to go. So I was all for getting vaccinated as soon as I could, which in my case, was in May and June. I will also willingly get a booster. And while I still hate masks and find them depressing to look at and wear, I do cooperate.

Every day, I read another story about someone who was preaching against the vaccines getting COVID-19 and dying. Last week, it was conservative radio talk show host, Phil Valentine. Like several others before him, Phil Valentine had the false idea that COVID-19 is a hoax. He wrote on his blog that if he caught it, he’d have “way less than one percent” chance of dying. Sure enough, on July 11, 2021, Mr. Valentine announced that he had COVID-19. But he was upbeat, and vowed to be back on his show within a day or two.

“Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it,” [Valentine] wrote. “Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow, but I may take a day off just as a precaution.”

Within two weeks, Valentine was hospitalized and in serious condition. His radio station, Nashville based 99.7 WTN, announced that Valentine had changed his mind about the vaccine and was urging people to get the shot(s). Unfortunately, it was too late for the late radio talk show host. He died this past Saturday. Interestingly enough, I see that Valentine was born in Nashville, North Carolina, and died in Nashville, Tennessee. He had been ventilated since July 28th, all to no avail.

So anyway… after reading yet another tragic story about a dead vaccine skeptic, I had a look at the comments. A woman named Nicole wrote this:

Comments here just show how fine the line is between dems and reps…as in there in no line at all. Hateful people hate, no party affiliation necessary.

At this writing, Nicole’s comment has over 1100 reactions, some of which are “laughing”. I honestly don’t see what’s so funny about someone else dying of a virus. Many people also responded to Nicole in a rude and disparaging way. I noticed that she kindly and patiently answered some of the people who “laughed” and “raged” at her, preaching about how they no longer had any “sympathy” for people like Phil Valentine. My heart went out to her, so I wrote this:

I get it. I feel the same way. Whether or not people want to acknowledge it, he had loved ones who are grieving. I have a hard time accepting people on a moral high horse when they are literally laughing and cheering about a man’s death. I am vaccinated and believe in science over foolishness, and I get tired of the craziness spewed by the ignorant. But I also hate seeing how mean people have become, especially as they preach to others about compassion and forbearance.

Thanks for being brave enough to speak up. I am with you.

The truth is, Phil Valentine is not going to read or care about the hateful comments. But he’s got loved ones and friends who are seeing all of this stuff. I don’t think reading hateful, derisive, mean spirited comments are going to convince them to change their views. Moreover, I also don’t think the idea of denying medical care to people with communicable diseases is the best way to convince cooperation. All being “mean” does is shut down communication and make people feel angry… and hopeless.

Also… by denying medical care to people with COVID-19, we would simply be prolonging the pandemic. COVID-19 is contagious. Even if a person is totally recalcitrant and belligerent about COVID-19, they can still spread the disease to others if they get it. Not helping that person is only going to put other people at risk. Some of those at risk will include children, elderly people, those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons, and those who are vaccinated, but immunocompromised. So, I would never be onboard with denying medical care to people with COVID. I think that attitude only puts other people at risk. I do, however, understand the sentiment. It’s frustrating to see so many people not understanding the very serious risk COVID poses to everyone and not wanting to do their part to end the pandemic.

What I think could eventually happen if things don’t get better soon, is that non-compliant people will be arrested and either forced into isolation, or compelled to accept care and vaccination. I know that’s a chilling thought for people, but it has happened before with other pandemics and it still happens with certain communicable diseases. I have seen that it’s starting to happen in certain countries, like Singapore, where personal liberty is not as important as the welfare of the whole community.

For example, when I was getting my MPH/MSW at the University of South Carolina, I was classmates with a woman whose field placement was working with people who were being detained because they had tuberculosis and refused to get treatment. These folks were not being held by law enforcement, per se. They were “locked up” because they had a communicable disease and would not cooperate with public health authorities by either isolating, or getting treatment.

I remember my classmate talking about what it was like to deal with these folks who, for one reason or another, decided that they would not voluntarily take the very powerful antibiotics used to treat TB. I distinctly recall her telling our class that the people were “pissed off”. And yet, there they still were, locked up, not necessarily because they had committed a crime, but because they put other people at risk.

Here’s a more recent example. About seven years ago, Ebola was the communicable disease that was in the news. A nurse named Kaci Hickox had returned to the United States from Sierra Leone, where she had been caring for people with Ebola. She supposedly had a fever upon arrival to the United States, so she was forced to quarantine in New Jersey for three days. She then returned to her then home state of Maine, where she was requested to self-isolate at home, which she also refused to do, as she had tested negative for Ebola.

A year later, Hickox sued then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former state Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd and other Health Department employees for false imprisonment, violation of due process and invasion of privacy. She claimed that there were no medical or epidemiological grounds to hold her. Interestingly enough, Chris Christie is a Republican. At the time she was in the news, Hickox was “loathed by Republicans.” The late Rush Limbaugh had harsh words for her after Hickox returned to Maine, where she very publicly flouted voluntary quarantine. Meanwhile, she got praise from more liberal outlets.

“Is this not a little bit sanctimonious?” Limbaugh said at the time. “I mean, here you volunteer and you let everybody know, by the way. … ‘I am a good person. I have volunteered to go to Africa, and I am helping Ebola patients. Look at me. See me? I am a good person.’ You come back, ‘I have just returned from Africa helping Ebola patients, and you are not going to quarantine me so that I can’t be noticed.’”

Hickox eventually settled the lawsuit, and new protections for quarantined travelers were introduced. I’m sitting here shaking my head, though. In 2014, Republicans were screaming for Ebola quarantines and Democrats were lamenting the potential loss of civil liberties. And now, in the COVID era, the opposite is happening. It really shouldn’t be controversial or political, though. It’s a matter of basic decency and consideration for other people, isn’t it? I guess some people are fine with denying other people their civil rights, as long as it doesn’t affect them personally. And some people are fine with flouting public health rules, if it’s they who are being asked to quarantine.

I wrote about Kaci Hickox on my old blog. At the time, I was of a mixed mind about her situation. I was definitely understanding her points about civil liberties. However, at the same time, my background in public health made me concerned about her risk of spreading a deadly disease to Americans. I looked up Kaci Hickox last night. I see that she, too, has a master’s degree in Public Health. I wonder how she feels about COVID-19. In this article from March 2, 2021, a reporter states that Ebola is deadlier than COVID-19 is. That was before the virus had mutated to what it is today. Moreover, according to the article, unlike like COVID-19, asymptomatic people don’t spread Ebola. But Ebola is still a very nasty disease, just as COVID has proven to be.

Anyway… I just think that we should all try to be as compassionate as possible. I don’t think it’s ethical to deny medical care to people, even if they behave in a foolish or offensive manner. I get being offended or annoyed by the willfully ignorant. God knows, I post all the time about my irritation with people who have unhelpful attitudes. But when it comes to getting people to cooperate, I don’t think it’s helpful to laugh at them as they die or express hatred for them. All that does is divide people. It’s in everyone’s best interests to be cooperative. At least for now, people still have the right to choose whether or not they will be vaccinated. It would be good if some of those who hesitate figure it out for themselves that not getting the shot could really mess up, or even end their lives.

As for Phil Valentine… it is a shame that he didn’t comply sooner. But at least at the end of his life, he tried to change hearts and minds. For that reason, I think people should be kinder regarding his memory. When it comes down to it, this issue is really NOT about politics. It’s about health, and potentially life and death.

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