Monday, May 28, 2012

Now, it's my turn to talk

I’ve just completed my most laborious week to date, apparently due to the arrival of the first haul of Copper River Salmon. Fresh seafood caught off Alaska waters accounts for nearly a quarter of the dollar amount of the cargo that the airline I work for flies out. Nevertheless, I still felt dissatisfied, because the 332 carts I handled were less than the 341 I could have done. It may sound mundane, but you have to find some way to motivate yourself—particularly when I haven’t had a raise, on top of a very modest base pay, in three years. I don’t know if I believed it then, but I remember when President Jimmy Carter told us that by now we’d all be “millionaires”—before Ronald Reagan scolded us for being “envious” of the super-rich and made “greed is good” a moral imperative. Still, a job is a job and paying the bills is the first consideration in life. Since this blog isn’t a paying gig, what I regard as “compensation” has to be of a more personal nature. It’s not easy; sometimes I spend twenty hours a week doing research on some topic even before I start writing, sometimes juggling a half-dozen at a time before discarding them all and starting over on something else that catches my attention.

In two years I must have written at least 600,000 words, or about 1,200 pages worth. In some ways I have to thank self-proclaimed “#1 progressive” Thom Hartmann for this toil, after he or his producer banned me from his website—apparently because I wandered off the script on his Daily Topics blog and annoyed his loyal followers with comments on what I perceived as anti-Semitic and anti-Latino predispositions; Thom also liked to say that we lived in a “post-racial” world while at the same time perpetuating gender victimology myths, which I couldn't stay quiet on for long. Naturally, I see the world much differently; if people I encounter do not always suspect that I am an “illegal immigrant,” they certainly do not feel they need to concern themselves about the way they interpret my humanity—and when I say “they” I don't distinguish by gender. More to the point, if white men are 1A in this country, the status of white women is 1B, and everyone else follows down the ladder.

What persons like myself think hardly matters; someone recently asked me why I named my blog “To dare the gods.” He thought it had some anti-religion connotation; I suppose his education did not include a discussion of the Western world’s classical origins. My real purpose in choosing the name (besides not being able to think of anything else at the moment) was because I saw myself, like millions of other people, as just another invisible person whose viewpoint goes unheard and ignored while a self-serving, self-appointed cadre of elitists ("gods") lord over the information highways and byways, feeding us a daily dose of obfuscation and diversion.

And so it is that for me, this blog represents an outlet to express opinions that are not sufficiently heeded; of course, I can tell by the amount of “hits” this site receives that I might as well be pissing in the wind, but in my own little universe, there is a catharsis to be had when I can at least have a chance to say my piece. Hypocrisy is perhaps my favorite target, and the Seattle Times this past Friday as usual presented a perfect target or two. First there was a story about the participation in the “race for the cure” sponsored by the breast cancer advocacy organization, Komen, which saw a 30 percent or so decrease from last year. This constituted a “protest vote” against the Komen’s temporary injunction against donating some of its proceeds to Planned Parenthood, after a congressional committee charged the organization of illegally funding their abortion hobby with federal tax dollars through “creative” accounting, which no doubt it is doing; the fact that abortion advocates probably think the funding ban is illegal anyways would suggest that Planned Parenthood’s probable law-breaking is encouraged with a wink and a nod. Komen was assaulted for playing “politics,” but in my view it is the fanatical activists and advocates who are using women’s health issues for partisan political reasons. Frankly, Komen was asking for trouble when it used some of its funding for projects outside of breast cancer research. For one thing, people who are coerced into giving-up their change at Safeway every February are probably not expecting to see their hard-earned money going into the coffers of abortion mills like Planned Parenthood—and would be disturbed to discover that it is.

Some local “advocacy journalists,” like the Times’ Nicole Brodeur, would respond to such critisms with sarcasm and belittlement. But not on this particular Friday, because she was too busy announcing her “reassignment” to another part of the newspaper. Brodeur says that she will be covering stories on musicians, artists and “parties, fundraisers, kickoffs and whatever other weirdness Seattle tends to stir up.” Her explanation for her new assignment is that the paper doesn’t do a good enough of job of “rubbing elbows” with the local populace, so she’s “decided” that this will be a great gig for her. But who is she kidding? The Times’ publishers must be well aware of the fact that it didn’t help sales when she regularly offended readers (particularly male readers) with broad generalities dividing the world into one of two camps: Male as victimizer, female as victim. Of course there was plenty of “anecdotal” evidence to “suggest” such simplistic notions, but like many egotistical paladins, Brodeur felt that people did not take her seriously enough because, as she liked to say, she was “merely” a “woman.” Despite the fact that the Times gave her a soapbox from which expectorate the darkest recesses of her mind, she never could understand that most people in this world—males as well as females—are just barely getting by with little time to think about how they are going to “oppress” someone. On the other hand, it is a very easy thing to sit back and wallow in self-serving self-pity.

Brodeur made numerous fascinating pronouncements in her final "news" column. “My name and mug might be up at the top, but this was never my column. It belonged to all of you, thanks to your stories, struggles and victories, and your willingness — or unwillingness — to share them.” Really. Perhaps to those who share her self-servitude, but to those looking for enlightenment, it has the hollow ring of mendacity, because she never tried to look at both sides of a story—when she smelled female “victim” and male “victimizer,” she didn’t stop to ask questions. Brodeur reminds me in many ways of that publicity/money hound lawyer Gloria Allred, who never shrinks from the most bizarre cases and most disreputable clients if there is millions to be theft from some foolish man. Her latest client is a woman who was fired from a lingerie distributor because she was wearing clothing that was accentuating her gigantic, grotesque fake breasts. But her previous client (a Latina who claimed that Citibank fired her because her “curves” were too “distracting”) attacked Allred for merely using her as a vehicle for to fuel an insatiable lust for media attention, and settling for the quick out-of-court buck before moving on to the next easy mark.

It wasn't that the anecdotal evidence Brodeur uncovered wasn't true in of itself; it was the broad generalizations that she interpreted from that wasn't necessarily true. For Brodeur, the people in her discourses were caricatures and stand-ins who fit into the shoes that in her simplistic notions of the world she expected them to wear. It didn’t matter that shoe didn't always fit, or if the “victim” was a deceiver, or the “victimizer” was unfairly condemned; Brodeur never got past her preconceived notions that dispensed with objective analysis; thus she was the very essence of that old chestnut “Opinions are like assholes—everyone has one.” As a purveyor of opinion, she was interchangeable with thousands of other people you could pick off the street, who also wallowed in self-servitude. One comment on her announcement spoke for many: “I can't think or another columnist that is less deserving of a column.” Although her purpose on the paper, it would seem, is to be the “voice” of women, in reality she spoke for the self-obsessed feminist and the “feeling good about feeling bad” crowd.

In her assessment of herself, Brodeur felt the need to remind us once more how disingenuous she could be. Here are some of her “parting shots” and my comments about them:

“I've gone to a Christmas party for a houseful of sex offenders; learned how to shoot a gun, and liked it. I've walked around the halo of the Space Needle and sat in more courtrooms than I can count.”

Talk about a glutton for self-induced “punishment.” Brodeur wasn’t looking to learn anything about their actual level of guilt or see if these men were trying to correct their lives—she’s trying to “imply” that she’s had the “courage” to wander into a party of the most dangerous men on earth. She gets a gun (and “likes it”) not because this increasingly rotund female (don’t let the mug shot fool you) actually should fear being a “victim”—according to FBI crime statistics, white women like herself are the least likely demographic to be the victim of a violent crime, by a large margin—but because she is consumed with her stereotypes and paranoia.

“I defended women and children, who always seems (sic) to get short shrift when programs and funding are being doled out.”

It doesn’t take much effort to discover that this is an obviously deceitful, self-serving statement. Check out the community services section of the telephone book; it is filled with pages and pages of services for women and children, and almost nothing for men. Even the YMCA caters to women “with children” and girls, rather than its original mission—to provide assistance for the “young man” down and out with the blues, or so the song went. And if you are an “able-bodied, single male” don’t expect any help from DSHS no matter how down on your luck you are. The aforementioned breast cancer accounts for the greatest share of cancer research funding (ten times per death than lung cancer), and there seems to be a disproportionate amount of studies on women’s health concerns generally, or so it appears from news reports.

“One of the last columns I did for news was about the shooting death of Courtney Taylor in the parking lot of the Rainier Beach Jack in the Box. It was an awful scene; a pool of blood drying in the sun while people stood around, saying little.”

Sometimes people expound without doing their research first; the incident occurred after an altercation, and the fact that a “hostile” crowd—rather than standing around and saying little—prevented paramedics from reaching the victim for five minutes. The devil on my shoulder tells me that Brodeur initially thought that “Courtney” was a female, but became so entangled in the story that by the time she discovered that he was a male rapper, she couldn’t do a backtrack. Of course, if she wanted to make a “statement,” she could have noted that nearly 80 percent of all murder victims are male, and that black males have 23 times the murder victim rate of white females.

“I'm leaving news with a caveat: That I can come back and weigh in on issues that strike close to my heart, and that don't ever seem to retreat from the public conversation: Women's rights, family-planning funding, birth control, abortion.”

So she really isn’t “going away.” The reason why these issues don’t “retreat” is, as I mentioned before, people like Brodeur don’t want them to go away because they “feel good about feeling bad.” None of these issues are under “threat”—it is just people like Brodeur demand more, more, and still more while millions of people (including men) suffer real privations in day-to-day life. Forget the fact that in the courts today, women seem to have more “rights” than can be honestly justified, or that racism knows no gender, or according to FBI statistics “mothers” account for most of the killings of children under five—the most innocent and vulnerable victims of all—or the fact that abortion is a fact of life and going nowhere. People like Brodeur simply want you to feel “guilty” about women’s “needs” at the cost of your own.

“How can I leave completely, considering the Catholic Church's recent laser-point focus on their own nuns, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops going after the nation's Girl Scouts over their relationships with groups that conflict with the church's teachings?”

The Catholic Church has always been a useful punching bag for anti-religion types. The real problem the church has is that it has too many in the “flock” who tend to ignore doctrine they don’t wish to follow. If people don’t want to follow the dictates of morality, ethics and long-standing doctrine, then they should go to one of those one-size-fits-all churches that demands nothing of the conscience save what you feel comfortable putting in the till. “Laser focus?” The only person here with the “laser focus” is Brodeur, who only sees what she wants to see, to the exclusion of all else. If it doesn’t fit her worldview, it is either “bad” or doesn’t exist.

Of course, I realize that Brodeur partisans would call me a “misogynist,” but such exclamations look increasing like pathetic, lame excuses for refusing to look at the bigger picture and facts one doesn’t like. It’s like a story I read in the Times that claimed that only 18 percent of Pakistani girls had a “high school level” education. Sure it’s low, but it’s not that much lower than the 23 percent of Pakistani boys who have only that level of education; the real story was about class distinctions, not necessarily gender. And nobody wants to examine why this country is producing fewer and fewer people out of college who have the skills that employers are looking for, who are instead looking to foreign-born skilled professionals; I’m not saying, of course, that the reason for this is that whatever kind of education is being taught in high schools these days, it seems to benefit females more than males in college enrollment.

Anyways, I couldn’t help myself. I composed an email which I sent off to Brodeur, in which I opined that a paper that has been consistently losing circulation doesn’t need a columnist who on a regular basis offends readers’ sensibilities, and that she used people to justify her own paranoid, insular worldview, and that rather than speaking the truth, it was only her version of it. As an example, I pointed to the CDC report on intimate partner violence, from which the media and gender advocates cited only the parts that benefited the prevailing victimology, while ignoring the parts about domestic violence—where the study revealed that 80 percent of men as women reported being the victim of domestic violence in their lifetimes—but especially the more revealing fact that 25 percent more men than women reported being the victim of domestic violence by their partners in the previous 12 months. The recent dust-up in Congress concerning some of the provisions of the “Violence Against Women” act again ignored the real shortcoming with the law—that it completely glosses over the reality of female-on-male violence; “size” should matter less than opportunity and predisposition to commit violence.

Of course, it was too much for me to expect Brodeur to accept any faults in her own gender. I did, in fact, receive a response from Brodeur, which was more informative than I’m sure she intended it to be: “What an awful, angry note.” End of quote. It is telling that when you confront certain people with such a tunnel-vision perspective with their own hypocrisy, all they can do is offer a sarcastic remark. Sarcasm is an attitude, not an argument, and adds nothing to our understanding of the world—only of one’s own inner darkness.

I didn’t think my “note” was so much “angry” as an expression of the facts of the matter as I saw it, but to most people who reads her columns, Brodeur’s anger frequently undercuts her credibility. Her “Politics playing tough with women’s bodies” column from last March was the kind of hysterically self-righteous and thoroughly discreditable puff piece that angered hundreds of commenters on the Times’ website; she insulted readers who could see through her bogus accusations, exclaiming “Is that logic too much for some people? Am I talking too fast? Or is it that I'm a woman? Don't answer that.” Such behavior likely hastened the paper’s “nudging” her off her “news” soapbox; however, like all blind fanatics, she warns readers that she will be back occasionally to offend our sensibilities.

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