Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Searched Soul

Recently there was a high-profile news story about the murder of a 17-year-old boy here in Florida. It seemed to me to be an open-and-shut case and when the trial began I didn't pay it much attention since I was putting up a show and didn't really have time to follow the news closely. When the not guilty verdict was announced I was outraged, and vented much anger on Facebook and twitter. I labeled it a miscarriage of justice, and defied anyone to disagree with me. As time went on, and people I respect told me things about the trial that I did not know, I began to see that while I still felt that the situation was the defendant's fault, the jury had no choice but to acquit him. This kind of short circuited my brain. I tried to equivocate a bit on Facebook, but that quickly brought hints of ire from those who championed the cause of equality and justice, as I had, and still do. This sent me further into a mental conflict between beliefs, guilt, and the desire to assess facts rather than opinions. Eventually I locked up, and withdrew. I couldn't continue on my course of decrying the verdict, but I couldn't announce that I had changed my mind without seeming to betray the cause I so deeply believe in. I groused about trivialities, bitched about royal babies, and generally became a curmudgeon for a couple of days. Then, yesterday, I took the day off.

  It may not seem like that radical a thing, but I don't get many actual days off. Sure, there are usually at least two days a week when I don't go to work, but since my wife's schedule is so weird (she works 4am-12:30pm) even on my days off I get the lion's share of the baby handling. And no, I'm not grumping about the baby, it's just that caring for a two-year-old is not the most relaxing thing. So yesterday, after dropping the baby off at day care, to took a true day off. I did a little bit of housework, mostly dishes and laundry that desperately needed doing, but I also watched grown-up shows on the TV (a delicious luxury) played on the PS2 (don't judge me and my ancient console ways) drank a couple of beers in the late morning (oh, such hedonism) and essentially did nothing I didn't want to until it was time to pick up the baby in the early evening. I didn't realize how much I needed such a day, or how energizing just chilling out can be. Today will be more of the same, with a bit more housework thrown in, before I must needs go back to work tomorrow to fix a few things and clean the shop in preparation for next week's strike.

So why am I telling y'all this? I'm glad you asked. One of the most important realizations I came to yesterday was that if I try to shape my opinions and beliefs based on the way people will react to them, I'm going to drive myself insane. I believe in equality for all, be they black, Asian, Hispanic, White, Gay, Straight, Bi, Transgendered, Intersexed, Nongendered, tetrapod, amputee, handicapped or handicapable, or whatever the pc term for whomever you are happens to be. I don't care what you do in your own home, so long as no one is hurt against their will. I don't care who you love, or if you love. I don't care who or what you worship, or don't, so long as you don't inflict your views on others who don't wish it. I don't care what your political affiliations are, until those affiliations negatively affect others. I will defend the weak, the impoverished, the marginalized, the trivialized, the abused, the ignored, the forgotten, and the damaged. I will rail against the powerful when they tread on the powerless, and I will accept your criticism when it is constructive, and valid. One thing I will not do anymore, however, is allow myself to become rigid in my beliefs and opinions out of fear of upsetting someone else. For example the fact that I've come to accept the Zimmerman verdict does not change my stance on racism or inequality in the slightest. Nor does it reflect approval of the verdict. It merely means that given our legal system as it is, the jury had no choice but to acquit. I still don't like it. I still think race played a major role in the events of that evening, and I will still do my best to stamp out racism whenever and wherever I can.

Here are a few other things I believe:
Government is necessary, but our government is very broken.

Government regulation of business is, to a certain extent, necessary to prevent the abuses of workers that were rampant in ages past. This system, too, is horribly broken.

Governments, both federal and state, have no business being involved in medical decisions, nor do they have any right to legislate morality. What goes on behind closed doors, so long as no one is being victimized, is not the business of anyone but the participants.

Our military, while necessary, is way too big, too expensive, and too bloated. We need to reduce our presence in the Middle East, and stop trying to inflict our ways and values on people who don't want them.

Politicians, aside from Elizabeth Warren, suck.

Most conspiracy theories presuppose a level of competence from the government that just isn't there.

9/11 was not an inside job.

While it is possible that there is a large, heretofore undocumented simian species inhabiting the deep woods of the United States, the continued lack of hard evidence leads me to believe that there is no Bigfoot.

Or Loch Ness Monster, for that matter.

And on the whole, the Western world has its priorities so screwed up that we care more about Twinkies going out of production than we do housing, feeding, and educating those who have nothing.

I could go on with more things, but I think I've made my point. Please feel free to agree or disagree with me. I may not always agree with what you say, but I will defend unto my last breath your right to say it, and I will always do my best to consider any informed opinion, especially when it differs from my own.

Hey, it's almost 10am. Beer time!!!! ;-)


Actually I just want more coffee.


Gordon Hewitson said...

(a) You don't believe in the Loch Ness monster? Shame on you, sir! Tee hee hee.

(2) A true day off. That, sir, is a luxury and I'm glad you got to enjoy it to the full, and

(d) This part of my comment was originally much longer and I got on a soapbox for a minute. Then I do what I find myself doing more and more often lately. I just highlighted it and pressed delete. I really need to work on my articulation in comments and probably self esteem. The basics was this. I applaud you, sir. I wish I was in an environment where there were 100 of you and you could play a role in the upbringing of my children. I struggle with the adult influences that they have and whilst I'm not perfect in any way I try to play devil's advocate when I can. Sometimes it's just to be a dick but I'm just one of those people that like to question everything, especially when I can see that the person has no real or justifiable basis behind them. They just love me at work!

Anyway, ramble over. Back to work I go.

Love and hugs and kisses


Rick Tetrault said...

Googsy, your opinions/comments are always welcome, and you need not censor a single 'fuck you'. ;-)

Scott Redman said...

+1 for amputee.

flurrious said...

Well, I can tell that someone has never seen Harry and the Hendersons.

I've tried not to talk about the Zimmerman trial too much because I didn't follow it all that closely, and based on what I have read, some aspects of Florida criminal procedure as they pertain to claims of self-defense (and I'm not just talking about Stand Your Ground) differ from jurisdictions that I'm familiar with and so I didn't want to talk out of my ass. If only lack of expertise had stopped more people's asses from talking.

The discussion of the case -- aside and apart from the actual facts of the case -- was comprised of two of my least favorite things: people with no legal training explaining the law to me, and white people (on both sides of the argument) explaining racial issues to me. It does me no good to point out to them where they've gone off the beam because they feel their many years of watching Law and Order and having black coworkers (see also, listening to salsa music) qualify them to hold forth in either area.

This case, like every single other interaction between human beings, is nuanced and deserving of discussion. But so far, all I've seen is people taking an all-or-nothing position, holding onto their position like grim death, and screaming at the people who've taken the opposite all-or-nothing position. So while I think there are good discussions that could take place, they probably won't because people are the worst.

Which is my long-winded way of saying I agree with your sense of things, except I think I'm less disillusioned with government than you are and also you are kidding yourself if you think there is no Bigfoot.

DontBothertoKnock said...

This post contains so many of the reasons why I love you.:)

Anonymous said...

An interesting post, Rick. Good for you for taking a day off -- those are so critically important, I've discovered, for refreshing the brain and one's attitude. ;)

RE the Zimmerman verdict... well. I know my beliefs are not shared by the majority in this country (as my rambling 5-part review of Phil Zuckerman's fascinating book Society Without God amply demonstrates), but I still maintain that law and justice are very different things. The Zimmerman verdict upheld the law, true... but I maintain it made a travesty of justice. Further, it concerns me that as a people we have become so complacent and comfortable that we appear to have forgotten our legitimate right of jury nullification for unjust laws. Check it out, and then pass it along -- more people should know about this, and the "law mafia" is trying to get it lost, outlawed, and forgotten.