Of Human Altruism

Watch where you point that civil liberty

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

We're living in a time where people routinely hang their noses at the constitution; they think home protection is a joke, and that the U.S. deterioration into a complete police state is not over the next horizon. What has become of this nation when you can’t even bring a handgun into a coffee shop? These weak minded individuals want to take away our guns and they'll exploit any mass killing of children to trot out this unpatriotic notion yet again. While incidents involving the 2nd amendment trickle in weekly, what is needed is not a knee-jerk reaction, like tightening gun laws, but courting a different perspective, a tad more training, and polishing up our unofficial spokesmen.

Each week there is a new publicized incident by the anti-killing, I mean anti-gun lobby. The best way to alleviate these trivial concerns is not to waste time and money ruining a perfectly good amendment that already has plenty of laws on the books. No, the best way of smoothing things over is to make these highly reactive people see how these events should have transpired. A three year old shoots himself? Upsetting yes, but what if despite what was just statistically proven, it was an intruder at the other of the gun? Now that's a positive spin. Teenagers shoot a jogger out of boredom? If that jogger had been smart he would have been packing heat next to his mp3 player. There’s another gunman in a school down south? Well no one was killed so that's kind of a no-news type situation. The emphasis must be placed on how guns can do so much good when they're in the right hands.

The best pair of hands is the well trained pair of hands. An article in Time magazine stated that police officers hit their target around eight percent of the time. The typical salt of the earth American has not had the same training as a police officer so it stands to reason that these individuals just need more training. As the average American demonstrates semi-regularly; be it a gun-in-schools advocating politician, who accidentally shot a teacher during a gun safety lesson, or the man who tried to show his wife the gun was unloaded by oops, proving it was loaded, proving it right into her legs, or the girlfriend who twirled the loaded AK-47 towards her boyfriend with the safety off. The first words of advice would come from Homer Simpson “you point this end at the thing you want to die” would at least get people to stop pointing these transcendent objects at undeserving victims.

No matter where you stand on shooting unarmed teenagers, we can all agree that Zimmerman is going through a bit of a rough patch in the media. How quick the media is to forget all his heroic exploits. He tried to be a cop, he volunteered for a neighborhood watch, he rescued a family from their over turned car! So if Zimmerman occasionally shoots a teenager in cold-blood, or has the police called on him for a suspected domestic altercation don’t let the media fool you into thinking this man is the sum of his parts.

What about the massacres the peaceniks whine about; the movie theaters, the public schools, and government property? Factually, school-shooting sprees are rare occurrences given the amounts of schools in the U.S. and other factors, as documented in 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology. So when a teenager posts death threats and details how he’s made pipe bombs online, or he’s been stalking classmates and diagnosed as mentally ill, or is in the process of being committed to a mental hospital by his mother, we must remind ourselves that we didn’t vote in background checks, so let’s not start playing favorites. If the convicted criminals can bear arms, so to should the mentally unstable.

The gay mafia

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

America has a new Don Corleone and with him comes a new criminal syndicate. They’re administering their particular brand of destruction with neither bullets nor beatings. They’re not tempted by money, property, or any conventional means of status or power. But they may be America's gravest threat as they’re ripping up the moral fabric of this country right out from underneath our feet. They want the most fearsome thing of all, equality, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

The identity of this don is unknown but what is known is there allegiance, they are the Gay Mafia. We would still be in the dark to this threat if it wasn't for one fearless man: Rush Limbaugh, who recently disclosed the existence of this mafia and the world was rendered mute with fear.

According to Limbaugh this mafia has "inflected the fear of death, political death in the Republican party." While the reports have yet to roll in on burning rainbow flags left on lawns, we can only assume it’s a matter of time. After all, if "marriage is only a slippery slide towards bestiality" as some astute observers have reported on their hand held signs, what aren't they capable of?

America has enjoyed a lengthy history of denying homosexuals the basic liberties that most citizens enjoy, i.e. holding hands without fear of being left to die on to a fence post, or serving their country, but this proud tradition of oppression may soon be coming to an end. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed and homosexuality was removed from the DSM as a perversion. Yet this was a mere snack to whet this shark’s appetite. They’re after bigger game.

Ostensibly the group’s main plot is to marry one another. Fortunately America has many self-appointed custodians of all things family and bible related. The National Organization of Marriage, Florida Family Association and American Family Association have all worked tirelessly to insure that their beloved nation is not about to be beleaguered by acceptance. These proud organizations have gathered thousands of signatures to forward the cause of America staying in the past and never advancing towards some sort of moral “enlightened age.” Unfortunately their fight is up against powerful foes.

While not directly contributing to the Gay Mafia’s machinations, it is not without its inadvertent corporate sponsorship. The likes of Cheerios, Oreo, Levi's, Betty Crocker, American Apparel, Starbucks, Wheaties, Tide, Home Depot, Pampers, Pepsi, Safeway, Crest, J.C. Penny, Pillsbury, Ford, and Gap have either donated money to relevant causes or opposed marriage amendments. The mafia's far reach apparently extends to the courts as well with ACLU sweethearts and famous funeral crashers, the Wesboro Baptist Church being dealt a painful blow with a ruling to "dismiss a lawsuit by the congregation."

What's next? Will the Gay Panic Defense disappear into the ether? How will frightened heterosexuals protect themselves then? What about the whistle-blower, will he be forced to abscond from his homeland? Perhaps Limbaugh would be more comfortable living in Russia where the Gay Mafia wouldn't stand a chance against the angry mobs that routinely brutalize people suspected of being homosexual.

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Jack Gayer writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

Eat first, ask questions later

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

In the wake of Paula Deen's career, the autopsy is offering some provoking insights. Paula Deen justified her proclivity of causally using the n-word and planning a wedding with black servers dressed as slaves by way of her southern roots.

That's like saying, "Yes, I persecuted the Jews but it was all the rage! You can't blame me without blaming everyone."

While we certainly can, and will judge her regardless of where she's from, and freedom of speech issues aside, a wedding with slaves? This is more something a Sacha Baron Cohen character would devise not a beloved, if duplicitous TV star. You'd think someone who injects her cooking with a tub of butter would have better taste.

This use of culture as a scapegoat for indiscretions throws how we view our identity into question. It’s comforting to understand your identity, to know who you are. Yet there’s a big difference between knowing your identity and excusing your behavior by way of geographical-proxy.

I know I'm American, but I'm neither ashamed nor proud. It was the place I was born, raised, and reside. I had no say in the matter to begin with so how can I claim to be proud of something I had no role in? Is our identity esoteric to our blood? Maybe if we're from a long line of Albinos. Does our ancestry really play such a huge role in our current circumstances? The choices we make? In cases such as our familial history, do we study the past to learn from it, or dwell on it?

The fact that I'm part Polish means to me that if there was ever a nuclear holocaust or any sort of post-apocalyptic scenario, my family might fare better than most. This is not because I associate Polish people with great survival skills; rather we're prone to eating anything that isn't nailed down.

Here's a brief summation of things I've heard family members say over the years.

"It was only in the cat's dish for a second"

"I noticed the milk was lumpy, I told myself I'd give it another day then throw it out"

"cut around the mold"

"I'm eating rancid meat right now”

“I split my leg open saving a waffle from an upturned lawn mower"

Our diets could sometimes be described as a cross between third world country provisions and what the survivors of The Road might have eaten. This is not because we are destitute by any means. We simply love food, and we're not always so fussy about its condition or resemblance to plant or animal.

This doesn't mean I would cop-out if I ate my friend's entire birthday cake by way of "well, I am Polish so it was kind of your fault leaving it on the counter." Paula Deen can't shed her crocodile tears while blubbering that its common where she’s from and that she's so sorry for ever using such a hurtful word. All the while in the interview with Matt Lauer, Deen is digging herself deeper and deeper into a hole by first denying she's said the n-word multiple times, and contradicting herself later by confirming in her deposition that it was as freely used as the heart-attack inducing indigents in her cooking.

America will begrudge you a generous amount of slack but you have to admit you were in the wrong wholeheartedly. See Letterman's apology after sleeping with women from his show or Christian Bale's apology after his infamous tantrum on the set of Terminator Salvation. Mel Gibson went to great lengths to repair his image but his virulent voice mail to an ex-girlfriend did him no favors and he’s still very much in the red. At least Gibson was drunk the first time speech-of-questionable-taste was recorded, and it wasn’t a premeditated affair like say, planning a major event with slave roles. Some missteps in speech can be chalked up to lapses in judgment but there’s no defending bad taste.

It’s just Rape

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

Einstein said that the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits. The easiest way to test this theory is to listen out for politicians and radio personalities as they discuss rape. They seem to be having a contest on how severely they can put their foot in their mouths. After all, rape is a morally ambiguous issue, right?

Radio-hothead and all around maker-of-terrible-claims, Michael Savage interviewed former congressman Alan West for a lively discussion about rape, particularly how it’s eroding our military. That is, how the women being raped erode it, not the men perpetrating the rapes.

A sample from the highlight reel: “Hey honey let's go for a beer? Could this be considered sexual assault because it’s an unwanted advance? How many rapes were fraudulent claims? We don't know how many of them are female on male assaults, or male on male assaults. Why are we focused on such trivial nonsense? What about the penetration of radical Islam into the military? I know that most of the sexual assault cases are invented for a fact.... Where does it end? It ends with the death of the military.” As a self-professed “non-military man”

Savage seems to have an acute understanding of the intracies of the military and as a non-rational male, he seems to have a peculiar grasp of how rape claims are made. Sexual assault in the military is as prevalent as it is detrimental, but not in the way Savage is inferring. The only thing erosive about these sexual assaults are the effect they have on these women’s lives.

There's a big difference between an innocent question and a passive aggressive come-on. A professor from the ideally named Slippery Rock University learned the distinction when he was fired for implying a little fellatio couldn't hurt a student's chances in his class. Hey maybe he was joking? Joking at a bar while encouraging his students to open up about their sexuality is what makes this classifiable as harassment and not an innocuous, if licentious choice of small talk. When it’s not sensitivity that’s under fire its other relevant facts; like whether they were asking to be raped in the first place. Women, even pre-pubescent ones are supposedly aware of the effect they have on men, and no matter their age, are bestowed with the responsibility of the act.

When aren't 11 years olds asking to be raped? If girls are conforming to a culture that encourages flaunting their sexuality as soon as possible, aren't they also consenting to rape? Who wouldn't initiate themselves sexually by involuntarily copulating with 18 men? Since we've established that 11 year-olds are deviants, have we given the rapists, I’m sorry, consenting partners, a fair shake? I mean this one thoughtless act will haunt them the rest of their lives that hardly seems fair! They must come from various dysfunctional home lives. Had these boys been in therapy years ago this never would have happened to them. “Its just a waste”.

This seems like the type of mentality a caveman or someone equally deranged might have come up with, but its not. Its regular citizens who think like this, and have expressed their outrage after an 11 year old was raped in Cleveland, Texas. They were bemoaning the loss of their star athletes, and other promising young men, shackled by one "incident".

If anyone in my family was sexually assaulted the first thought to jump to mind wouldn't be, well she had makeup on and was walking alone, and clearly wanted to be scarred physically and emotionally for the rest of her life. My heart wouldn't go out to the rapist. I wouldn't lose sleep agonizing over the stigma they'd face. It'd be easy because I wouldn't view them as a person but an animal. Humans have the ability to control impulses, animals generally do not. No one ever says about prison rape, well he's been working out an awful lot lately, just strutting around without his shirt on, all tanned and ripped, it serves him right he was raped.

We've been treating rape as if it’s a character building exercise or a lesson in common sense for far too long. If you're asking to be raped, its by definition not rape. If you're expressing identity with your clothing, or have had too much to drink as we're all wont to do, you still have no desire to be raped. This is not a desire that's open to fluctuation. It’s as static as it gets. You'd seen more of a spike in males enjoying an unexpected strike to the groin than females requesting full-body assault.

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Jack Gayer writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

Stealing the limelight

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

What better way to promote your cause than to interrupt some of the most important and powerful people in the world. Recently Michelle Obama was heckled at a DNC fundraiser by a protestor demanding equal rights for the LGBT crowd. Was her voice heard? Unmistakably so. Was the cause heard? Not so much. That Michelle Obama is married to one of the most important men in the country, the comparisons are inevitable. Not long ago president Obama was repeatedly interrupted while delivering a speech about Guantanamo. With his characteristic cool, Obama politely attempted to deflect the loud-mouth, addressing the woman's rudeness with thank yous and "please let me finish...if you'd let me finish I'll get to that." Where are the Taser happy security guards when you need them?

Back in 2009 Obama was also heckled at a health care rally. He attempted to ameliorate the situation by saying "relax...we're all right". Throughout the video available on YouTube, a long haired man is seen to be standing up and delivering some sort of diatribe unheard by us. We don't know what this person is saying, and frankly we don't care.

Its not gutsy to butt in while someone else is talking, its incredibly rude, and only serves as a detriment to your issue of the day. How do you think the audience is going to react? Are they going to think your issue is the most important issue facing America at this present moment or that we’re all secretly here to listen to your garbled shouting while someone who has been laboring over a speech that will be seen by millions is just blathering on with all our glazed-over-eyes on them. Now is your time to throw them off their mark and stand up for what you believe, now may be your only chance to simultaneously look like an inconsiderate jerk and put the speaker in an awkward position. Screech now or forever hold your peace!

The audience applauded Michelle Obama's take-no-prisoners approach to the heckler but the media was less than kind. Numerous news sites claimed it was bad tact, that she should expect these things, or that she was condescending in her reproach. It must be difficult to criticize someone for their approach to being heckled, when you're constantly being shouted at how lousy your article is while you type it. Oh wait, that doesn't happen.

Get off your high horses. Obama reacted splendidly. Everyone knows how they would have reacted in a given situation because they have had time to ponder it and formulate a well-informed decision. Its easy to claim that soldiers who flee from battle instead of fighting are pathetic when you've never had a gun pointed at you. Real-time decisions are not flush with introspection, you need to make a choice and you don't have an abundance of time to make one.

Was Michelle Obama's attitude towards being heckled all that different from her husband's? Yes, it was much more aggressive and direct. In a word, it was perfect. She admitted her limitations then offered the woman a chance to actually speak to the audience instead of bleating at them. With the tables turned, the woman chose silence. In a later interview the bad apple of the night claimed Obama tried to intimidate her and that it didn't work, that her cause is in important one and she couldn't sit idly by any longer while blah blah blah. Clearly she was intimidated because she declined to speak to the audience when given the opportunity. This is why she should have stayed in her seat and kept her mouth firmly closed.

Yes, it was a different approach then her husband, but this only serves to emphasize how they're different people. Michelle Obama’s not an Anne Romney or Laura Bush who don't seem to have a voice of their own. She advocates for her causes, like childhood obesity with tenacity. If she wants to tell an audience member to go [expletive] themselves if they interrupt, more power to her. What she's saying is important not because of who she’s married to, but because of who she is, a well-accomplished individual in her own right. Even if she's only trying to raise money, bellowing at her from the safety of your anonymity and the protection of your righteousness is inexcusable.

Public speaking has been rated as a greater fear to Americans than dying. As Jerry Seinfeld put it, "to the average person, you'd be better in the casket than doing the eulogy." So if you think you're sitting on an earth-shattering revelation or you're the voice of a generation of the overlooked, organize a march, hold a demonstration, actually do something rather than horning in on someone else’s attention. After all, if you were so important you'd be the one behind the mic.

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Jack Gayer writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

Hello Old Friend, part 1

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

Nearly a decade has passed since the indefatigable Arrested Development went off the air but never out of our hearts. It was entertainment of the tallest order. The show squeezed in an incredible amount of laughs, both high, and low brow in every episode. It was a show that was intellectual, packed with in-jokes, innuendo, and double entendres, making it the closest modern day equivalent to Shakespeare we've had in years. It had enough mental illnesses to fill a DSM and enough sexual perversions to give a room filled with Freuds a lifetime to discuss; analogous to the analyses paid to Ulysses, except no one has had to pretend to enjoy Arrested Development. Well here's to you, you first ever "analysts and combined therapists," magicians barred from performing at the "magician's alliance," and more famous for gaffes than stunts, self-aggrandizing alcoholics, put-upon martyrs, young con women who know how far a pretty face can carry them, and ruthless patriarchs who place an emphasis on family, if only to exploit them, and take advantage of their likeness, because your desultory heroes are back, but are they better than ever or better than the alternative?

There are enough Two and A Half Men style sitcoms, i.e. formulaic and idiotic. Are the jokes telegraphed a mile away? As the The Dude would say "does the pope defecate in the woods?” There are the dime a dozen American Idols that have gone on for a hundred seasons, produced maybe a handful of stars and spawned maybe one reputable career. Survivor finally met an inevitable conclusion with a death of a participant. Surprised? Maybe you'd be taken aback to realize the stars of Jackass, while filthy rich, are riddled with who knows what diseases and will be having more doctor appointments than they've all had hot meals combined.

Three episodes into the return of Arrested Development and the range has varied widely. Am I overjoyed to be watching A.D. again? Would a paraplegic like to walk again? Then again, what if there were some strings attached their "walking," say they had to spend a quarter of the time skateboarding everywhere and if they wanted to work out they had the choice of treadmill or Stair Master. Disorienting? Unreal? Unfair? Yes to all of the above but both of us would feel ungrateful to express consternation at the turn of events. The handicapped have a better leg to stand on but us A.D. fans have our own crosses to bear. To criticize is blasphemy. Did Moses come down from the mountain to be greeted with "those are pretty good, but how 'bout putting one in about littering? Not touching kids? Keeping your employees pensions intact?” They're all good points but ten's a nice round number, and give Moses a break, those things must have weighed a ton as is.

Then again, the reverence paid to Arrested Development has always bordered closer to the praise of a cult, rather than a cult hit. It could do no wrong. Every show before and after it were ludicrous attempts at entertainment. The seven long years have done little in the way of abating A.D. fever but it still presents a unique challenge. Large gaps in film are rare, but not unheard of. Terminator 2 was released eight years after the first without any major jarring of the senses. It was a great film and the cast nailed their old roles. Then again how hard can it be to play an emotionless cyborg? There was a 25 year gap in between The Hustler and The Color of Money. We saw a more mature Fast Eddie but not a completely new character. How did the movie fare? It wasn’t bad but it was certainly no Hustler. Large gaps in television are much rarer and are usually comprised of remakes into film (The Dukes of Hazzard,) or rebooted into new television series (Dallas, Beverly Hills 90210). We’ll have to wait and see if the creators should have left on the high note, or strike while the iron was hot and the fans still wanted to see more Arrested Development.

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Jack Gayer writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

Topless revolutions

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

Implicit in the plethora of recent "topless demonstrations" by women protesting various issues, ranging from International Jihad Day to the objectification of women that Barbie perpetrates, is a lack of thought towards protest, a double-standard , and the milieu of much attention is paid to women's bodies. It's protest at its laziest.

The intention of being subversive by liberating yourself from Islamic morals, your tops, with a message smeared across your chest is nothing new and has proven its efficacy at getting the message across. Albeit it's protest at it's laziest. The equivalent of a bake sale or car wash, always go-to ideas but not exactly the most original. Would a fully clothed march or parka-adorned sign holders bring as much national attention? Of course not. So why not make any stand a topless one? "I don't care for the way you parallel parked, here's a diagram of a good parallel parking job, rendered on my chest".

Yes, the female form is nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, it’s unfortunate that women’s bodies often speak for them more than the minds inside them do. Turning that on its head and using the leering to your advantage is clever, but not exactly brilliant. A nude male also generates attention but there's no headlines decrying "pant-less men march" because they wouldn't receive a slap on the wrist and or/a small fine. They'd be put on a special list and would have to go door to door greeting their neighbors with with some unpleasant news. The only time you see nude men in large groups outside, they're without fail surrounded by nude women protesting a common plight, say nudism in San Francisco or something else equally pressing.

Why are we so obsessed with breasts? Kim Kardashian's pregnancy and the royal family’s have gotten more news than any two pregnancies in history. It's as if they have captured the first unicorn and its now in captivity. So that's what happens to a belly when there's a life inside it, it grows! Women gain weight while they're eating for two or more? Let's put this on the front page stat. Not one American citizen will remain ignorant on how big Kim Kardashian's breasts are getting as a result of swelling with breast milk or as journalists, we have failed. Isn't some animal being fished to extinction? Well we very well can't put something ugly on the cover.

The practice draws attention to our fascination with the nude form. Its not a terribly new visual, we can google it for free, we can browse an art book, or in days of old flip through a national geographic to spot it. I remember watching a movie once and everyone in the room became excited and giggly because there was a naked woman on the screen. This was junior high, many years ago. The situation hasn't changed much since. We'll put an article about Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy on every newspaper’s front page, high profile magazine, and every website that is dedicated to celebrities or breasts, there's no shortage. What about the IRS scandal? How're the gun debates going? In what new ways are veterans from Iraq suffering and how are we shortchanging them? Ah, but these stories have grown stale, the public has had their fill on them. But the naked body, that's something fresh, let's give that another go.

In an ideal world a woman showing skin would not make the five o'clock news. Except this isn't the world we live in. We live in a world rife with famine, war, and five dollar cups of coffee. Sometimes it outright sucks, but it’s the world we got.

As Putin put it "it's best to be clothed when discussing politics". And the look on Putin's face when confronted by a topless protestor is evidence enough of how serious males tend to take the cause of the topless-ness as opposed to the topless-ness itself.

Geek Insurgence

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

The rapture must have come and went as it appears the meek have already inherited the earth. They have at least saturated pop culture. Nerdy and geek are no longer pejorative but coveted labels. Some of the most popular comedians like Louis C.K. and Larry David capitalize on their uncouth demeanors. Unpopular is the new popular. For every stylish and feminine Carry Bradshaw character, there is now a Liz Lemon or a Lena Dunham to grace the small screen with their beloved social ineptness, and sexual shortcomings. The nerds have proven with their wallets that they are not a silent minority, the highest grossing movie of 2012 was about superheroes.

Taken individually these are not bad things, but as a whole our culture has embraced the outcast to the extent where to fit in is the exception not the rule. The nomenclature is shifting. Words like "geekdom" and "fanboy" are ubiquitous. From there we have neologisms like "geeking out." Everyone wants to be an iconoclast and no one wants to wear uninteresting glasses. And it’s about time we started embracing "real women's bodies" as Huffington Post and feminist icon Gloria Steinem have been eager to point out. This statement that is both a weak compliment, and a condescending reproach. Not to mention hypocritical, this is coming from a news source that has been reporting on celebrities "great bikini bodies" quasi-daily.

It can be argued that these are not new phenomena. Self-deprecation is no stranger to stand-up comedy and the largest demographic for theaters are 14-25 year old boys.

Is this a fad or trend that's here to stay? It used to be that sometimes the underdog won and sometimes he lost. The playing field has become a murky one. The field can give the illusion of success as 30 Rock did with critical acclaim, all the while it is being sucked into the depths by low ratings. Sometimes the playing field can be kind and spit out a defeated warrior; I'm referring to the likes of popular cartoons Family Guy, and Futrama, and the live action Arrested Development. All became cult classics after they went off the air and the legions of pale-skinned and un-athletic scored major victories when they went back on.

The instance of being a majority is a curious achievement and not necessarily a positive or influential one. The majority of Americans supported back-ground checks for firearms but the law wasn't passed. So while us video game playing, sports avoiding, humans may be scoring points towards national influence, it may not be as lasting, or decisive as we may think.

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Jack Gayer writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

Bullying

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

Theories abound about bullying. The attention paid to it is unavoidable. The questions asked of this problem are not easy ones to answer. What are its origins? How can we stop it? How long will it go on for? How do we go about tackling it?

The root cause of bullying once was thought to be the bully’s lack of self-esteem.  We now know that the opposite is true.  You can’t turn around in a junior high or high school today without seeing a poster decrying a “no bullying zone” or “zero tolerance towards bullying.” The truth is you can never stamp out bullying. It’s here to stay.

Bullying is part of human nature. Enacting tougher anti-bullying laws or policies is futile. Indeed, as  adolescents mature into adults, bullying only becomes more sophisticated and abstract. Instead of wedgies, wet willies, or stealing someone’s lunch money, adults bully with extortion, voter intimidation, and ultimatums that can’t be met.

It goes beyond naiveté to think that we can eliminate bullying with can-do-slogans and reporting bullying acts. Like functioning alcoholics, kids and adults use their ingenuity and resourcefulness to continue their malevolent actions. They take to the Internet and use their cell-phones to disparage people around them.

People don’t grow out of bullying; they grow into it. Their bullying acts often become subtler. We ask questions like, “Is Chris Christie too fat to be president?” We question the veracity of someone having Native American ancestry when the person “looks” Caucasian.  And, who can ever forget a Congressman calling the President of the United States a liar during a State of the Union Address? We have people with big names proving their small brains by attempting to either bribe/extort the president for birth records.

Bullying operates globally. Want to invade a country, but make it seem like it’s their fault? Just issue an ultimatum that is impossible to meet. Want to punish a country for beginning a war when the facts show otherwise? Besiege losing nations with a “peace” treaty that makes its citizens’ life impossible to live, setting the stage for the next war.

Sometimes bullying is done as a social coping mechanism. For example, experts involved in the high-profile Steubenville rape case believe that the two teenage girls who threatened the rape victim did so to distance themselves from what happened. The experts claimed that the girls might have been trying to fit in with their classmates on the assumption that their convicted rapist friends were the real victims. By making the victim out to be loose, she was asking for it and they would not bring the same hostility on themselves.

Not only is bullying here to stay, bullying works. When the Catholic Church got up in arms over the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, the director, Ron Howard, decided to “tone down the controversial elements.” When the South Park creators were facing threats from Islamists for depicting Muhammad satirically, they heavily edited the content to appease them. Memoirs of fraternity alumni speculate that they couldn’t endure the pervasive bullying by their “brothers” without the very real expectation of inflicting that abuse on others in the very near future.

Bullying is as ugly as it is ubiquitous. It drives alienated teens to suicide and nations to war. We can’t solve with meaningless gestures like declaring a funeral for a racial slur, signing anti-bullying pledges, or otherwise boisterous, but ultimately meaningless gestures.

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Jack Gayer writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

Days to come

by Jack Gayer. 0 Comments

For the first time since it was published The Onion has gone on the defensive, publicly apologizing for a recent tweet about Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis. The tweet was taken down within an hour of being posted but the damage was done. Bloggers and media personalities emerged from the woodwork to sound off on their disgust.

The satirical news publication has been online for over a decade and through that time they have made light of a range of subjects including domestic abuse, child molestation, rape, suicide, and bullying, either subtlety or spelled out blatantly. Albeit this is the first time they have faced a major public outcry that they had gone too far.

Have these people been reading The Onion for the last ten years or so?

I can’t help but fear the worst now that the hilarious Onion has caved in. Was the tweet vulgar? Yes, there’s no getting around that. Was it below the belt? Well, as so often is the case with The Onion nearly everything they write hovers over that line.

Now that they have offered a public apology and broken their up-till-now silence I wonder what impact it will have on their future publications. Will they take fewer risks in the future pushing the envelope?

Several years ago I had the good fortune to attend a forum by two of the writers from The Onion. As to be expected they were hilarious and shared some insights into what they publish and what they might hold back on. The moderator asked if there was any subject that was considered off limits. She must not have been an avid follower of the publication considering the aforementioned subjects were just to a name a few of the issues they skewered. Their reply was succinct and without hesitation “nothing.”

What can we expect now that they are being more stringent with what gets published? What will we be missing out on now that they are self-censoring; have we entered a new era of The Onion? Are they losing the strongest thing they had going for them, holding nothing back and sparing no one?

Perhaps the apology was more tongue-in-cheek than sincere. I am thinking of the part “”It was crude and offensive — not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.”

Was the CEO implying this was just another “biting” piece of satire that was misconstrued? I can only hope the latter is true and can expect The Onion to remain as it always has. Please let the humor continue to be outrageous and hysterical with not a wink-wink you know we’re just kidding attitude that is so prevalent in our current humor zeitgeist.

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Jack Gayer writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.