Apr 03

God no longer exists, if he ever did.

I haven’t written for myself in far too long. I tried to write Notes on Facebook, rather than long form on a site, but that didn’t work. I tried to write for other publications, and that is a lot of fun, but rarely, does it give you the opportunity to say what you really feel.

So I’m here, and I have a lot to say.

Over the past 4 months, my father has been confined to a hospital. Locally, then in Columbus, then at a “specialty care” hospital, then back to the other hospital, and back and forth, several times. It all started with a massive case of pancreatitis, and a gall bladder that had shot stones into his liver, and kidneys, and the ensuing infection wrecked his lungs and a couple of other organs.

He’s bedridden.
He’s trached.
He’s confused at times.

This has been his existence.

All the thoughts and prayers in the world haven’t changed this. All the prayer chains, and prayer requests, and pastors,and “knee-mail” haven’t changed that. He’s sick. He’s in the hospital. Sure, he has had times when he was looking like he was getting better. Since the week before Christmas, it’s felt like a two steps forward, and one step backward, in succession, to the point where the plan was that he was going to be going to a Nursing Home in the next week or so, with a “plan” to come home, eventually.

Well, Today, again, my dad turned septic, his condition worsened, his abdomen is filling with fluid, and they don’t know what the cause is. They are just telling my mom that he is “really sick”.

Well no fucking shit.

The entire time that my mom is keeping the family posted, the Christians in my family are bleating out: Thoughts and prayers! I’m praying right now! Rick loves God, and God loves Rick!, This is just a test!

NO.
STOP.

Let’s look at this rationally, and only focus on the case of my father, and not the larger world view, and how that totally debunks the idea of a loving God who takes care of his people. Lets just talk about my dad. The former pastor. The mentor of a current pastor. The man who has devoted his existence to God, and has placed his life in God’s hands for the past 18 1/2 years, while dealing with some very significant health issues.

God is not going to help my dad get out of that bed.
God is not going to magically heal him, now.
God is not going to do anything.

Why?

Because modern medicine has kept my dad alive for the past few months, while they try and let his body heal, so that he is healthy enough to undergo surgery to remove AT LEAST the Gall Bladder, MAYBE the pancreas.
Modern medicine has kept him breathing while his lungs were almost useless.
Modern Medicine has kept his kidneys functioning, even when they were producing something that looked closer to a Stout in coloration than urine.
Modern Medicine has kept him nourished, while he has been unable to swallow.

God, has had a good couple of months to decide that he is going to come in, and heal is faithful servant.

And yet, my father persists to lay in a bed, unable to walk. Unable to eat. Unable to completely breath on his own. Unable to stand up and take a piss, and certainly incapable of taking a shit, and wiping his own ass.

There is no miracle coming, that isn’t the product of a hail fucking Mary by a team of very talented surgeons who are currently working him over, trying to make sure that he survives.

 

For those who don’t know, I’ve been an atheist for the better part of 15 years. I haven’t given God the time of Day since my father’s failed brain surgery. It became apparent (to me) that there was no God in the aftermath of that failed surgery. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have stopped caring about a God who plays favorites, and picks and chooses what he is going to heal people from.

Since that failed Brain Surgery, “God” has been given credit for saving my Dad’s life a few times.
But my Dad still has 3 inoperable masses in his head.
“God” was given credit for my dad making it to Christmas, and then New Years, and then his birthday.
But my Dad still lies in a hospital bed, incapable of taking care of his own bodily functions, with a Pancreas and Gall Bladder that are LITERALLY TRYING TO FUCKING KILL HIM, and 3 inoperable masses in his brain.

There is no God.
Maybe a deity existed at some point.
Probably not, but maybe.

I choose to believe that there is no evidence of a deity, and that man created a deity in it’s own image to better understand the big scary world that they lived in, and the concepts that we lacked the skills to comprehend.

I’m certainly not going to wait for him to raise my dad up off that hospital bed now.
And you shouldn’t either.

Nov 25

Homeless Vets, Of course it’s his fault… Right?

 

Another lie about the president.

This is the vile contemptuous meme that makes me want to vomit.

Surely you’ve seen this meme floating around Facebook. It’s been everywhere. It is one of the pillars of the false argument for keeping Syrian refugees out of the country. Since I’ve spent far too much energy talking about Syrian refugees on Social Media, I’m not going to talk about them here.

Here, in this place, I’m going to talk about this meme, and the lie it is selling.

See, everyone wants this to be Obama’s fault. “It’s Obama’s fault that there are so many homeless vets ya see! He hates America! He hates our troops!” This is a pillar of the ideology that they need you to believe. They need you to believe that he hates our country, that he hates our troops.

They? Who is this they? They, would be the GOP, and Fox News.

Why? Because they need you to believe that he is doing the humantiarian thing with refugees to get Muslim extremists in the country.

They need you to believe this, because they need you to be afraid. They need you to be afraid of Obama, and the democrats. They need you to fear them, because it’s the only way that they are going to win the White House.

There is just one problem with this meme, and the idea that it sells.

It’s a lie. It’s all a lie.

I know, it’s easy to claim that it’s a lie, right? I mean, anyone can say anything on the internet, so why should we believe you, on your site, with no sponsors.

You’re right. You shouldn’t believe me. Let me explain who you should believe.

Let’s start with the VA. Veteran’s Affairs. This link will take you to the VA’s website, and their information regarding the plan that the Obama administration has put forward. They’ve been working to end the homeless veteran problem in our country since 2010. Don’t take my word for it. That’s the VA. That’s the people who would tell you about the programs.

Let’s continue with the White House. That’s right. Here you have the blurb on the White House’s website about it. Again, here we are, looking at the Obama White House, talking about this. Here you can see even more about the Obama – Biden plan on the Change.gov website.

Hey look, another government agency! This time, HUD. Here is their coverage of this.

Ok, you don’t want to hear it from the government? House about The National Alliance to end Homelessness? What about The National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans?

That’s a lot of links. I’ll let you catch your breath for a minute.

Good? Good. You see, since 2010, The Obama Administration, including the First Lady, Michelle Obama, have been hard at work, doing what they can, to end Veteran Homelessness in our country. So I guess since they’ve been working at it since 2010, how is it working? You can read the entire article here. Suffice it to say, that they have reduced the population of homeless vets by 50%. Now, with 45 days to go in 2015, I think that they are going to fall short of the plan of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015, but… 50% is pretty impressive.

Now. If this is so damn impressive, why wouldn’t the GOP be PRAISING the President, instead of burying it, and then lying about it?

That, Detective, is the right question (to quote a sub-par science fiction movie) There is actually a REALLY important reason that the GOP is trying to bury the president under this.

The GOP doesn’t care about veterans as much as they want you to think.

BUT! BUT! YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS! WHY SHOULD I BELIEVE THIS! YOU ARE JUST A LIBERAL OBAMA LOVER!

No. I say that, because:

in 2010, The GOP killed a bill specifically about homeless veterans
in 2012, the GOP voted down 7 bills that would have helped Veterans.
In 2014, 41 of 45 GOP Senators voted down another veteran’s benefits package.
in 2014, the GOP killed a bill for Veterans because it dealt with Planned Parenthood
in 2015 the GOP killed a bill for VA Funding

And amid all of this, the Republicans lob more manure at the president, because he vetoed a Defense spending bill because “the bill irresponsibly skirts spending caps adopted in 2011 by putting $38 billion into a war fund not subject to the limits””

Huh. So, they tried to slip a little in the bill to get around the spending caps, and got called on it. But, that’s Obama’s fault.

You know, I’m tired of this song and dance. I’m tired of hearing that this is somehow all the president’s fault. Everything seems to be his fault. And now? The homeless veteran population, is his fault. Even though, since 2010, the Obama administration is the only group actually trying to help them. It’s still his fault.

I don’t expect everyone in the world to have the same political beliefs. I love that we are all varied and different people. But I hate ignorance. I hate willful ignorance.

I recently was commenting on facebook, about how this wasn’t Obama’s fault, and I was greeted with this:

That's awsome hatemail, right?

That’s awsome hatemail, right?

Say hello to John D. Cooper. Mr Cooper here, was so bent out of shape about the fact that I sided with Syrian Refugees, and dared to think that the homeless Veteran problem wasn’t Obama’s blame, that he sent me this wonderful little tidbit, and then blocked me.

Well, It’s a shame that he blocked me. I didn’t get a chance to respond. If you know me, you know I like to respond. I like to have a back and forth. The problem is, I can’t have a back and forth with Mr. Cooper. So, I’ll just have to respond here.

Hello John,
Thank you for the message. I’m sorry that you feel my education was sub-par. I’m a mediocre writer at best, but I can see that you are struggling. You missed your commas, you capitalized Fuck when you didn’t need to (or was the lack of commas also part of a sentence fragment?) The name of the school is Mansfield Senior High School, the words are spelled “you” and “dumbass”. Ellipsis consist of only three periods (like so…) and you shouldn’t use the “n” word. That’s just vile.

In my profile picture, I am the guy with the goatee, that might have confused you. I’m not sure that you’re really my type. See, I’m happily heterosexual, and married. My education at Mansfield Senior High School allowed me to go to college, where I excelled, graduating with a 3.97 cumulative GPA.

And again, that N word. I don’t use the color of one’s skin determine their worth to me. I let the content of their character speak to their worth as a human being. Unfortunately, you have left a bad taste in my mouth, and have no way to change that first impression. That means,  right now, I see you to be about as useful as a festering boil on the underbelly of society. Your inability to speak to me in a civil way, lack of English skills, and racism leave me no other option, but to decide this.

Regards,
Chad,
That asshole, you decided to get involved with on Facebook.

Mar 15

The new Scarlet Letter

FOUL LANGUAGE ALERT
If you are offended by words that are generally four letters, and considered crude, this might not be the post for you to read.

“Hell, almost everyone I know that’s on welfare is a junkie” 

This line is part of a thought process that has been growing in the United States. And it really fucking pisses me off. You’ve heard this line probably a dozen times. Some of you reading this might have even uttered it. Well, someone said it, and in the words of a great character, “Well, allow me to retort.”

What about the people you know, that you don’t know receive welfare / public assistance? Are they junkies? 

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 26

A kick in the nuts.

Do me a favor, and click play on the video above. Just humor me. It’s not an obnoxious song. You don’t have to watch the video. The song’s message will hit you with or without visuals.

As the father of a Marine Recruit, counting down the days until he leaves, this song has really punched me in the nuts over the past couple of days. I am DAMN proud of my son. He made a choice that many wouldn’t. I don’t think he is a hero for doing it. I don’t think that he is anything but what he is. A young man, who has decided what he wants to do with his life.

But god, if I’m not ABSOLUTELY FUCKING PETRIFIED that the verses, and final chorus are what lie ahead.

You will never be just medals and scars to me son. No matter what.

Dec 24

Have a Joyous Chrismahanakwanzivus.

Here we are,  Christmas Eve, and I’m enjoying an adult beverage in my living room. And I do mean MY living room. This year, my wife and I bought a home. I’m tapping out the drafts and revisions of this article with a dog glued to my leg, just taking in the sights and sounds. And dammit, it feels good.

It’s Christmas time here in my house. Stocking are hung on a mantle decorated with Christmas themed knickknacks, Leafy garland surrounds the mirror. There is a Christmas tree in my foyer, and another in the family room. Presents rest under the tree, and the song is right. “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas” here, and I’m perfectly OK with that.

I’m not an overly religious man. At some point down the line, I’m sure I will get into that. But not right now. We’ll just say that I can look at Christmas and see all of the influences, not just the celebration of the birth of someone who wasn’t born this time of year. I see the Babylonian influences, the Christian influences, the secular influences, the pagan influences. And I’m ok with all of it. In my house, we celebrate Christmas.

I know that not everyone does. You may celebrate Hanukkah.  Kwanzaa, Festivus, or nothing at all. I’m cool with whatever you celebrate. Whatever it is, I do hope that you get a time to spend some time with your family this season. It’s a great time of the year to get together with your family if you can.

So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Have a Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus.

I just have one request. Don’t be a dick. Don’t be bill o’reilly. Don’t try to ruin the day for someone, so that you can feel that you have the high ground. Like your mother said; if you don’t have something nice to say, sit down and let the grown ups speak.

From all of us here in the front booth, to all of you with a big drink above your head, have a great end of the year. Celebrate responsibly. Live long, love hard, and be your awesome self.

Dec 11

Lt. Furseth? We need to talk

On Friday, December 7th, In the wake of multiple grand jury bills of no indictment, public protests, and rioting, NYC Fire Wire published a piece written by Lt Daniel Furseth, DeForest, Wisconsin Police Department. The piece was entitled “Why I Stopped Caring

After reading the piece, I was unhappy with Lt. Furseth’s stance. From my perspective it showed a lack of understanding related to the public outcry. I commented on the piece. People read my comments, and I’ve had a steady stream of FB messages (both supportive, and not so supportive) in response to it. I decided that I wanted to elaborate on my position. I’m using my intro comment, and most of my follow up comments as the framework for this.

Before we get to that though, I would like to take a moment, and explain where I’m coming from. Killed By Police, is a group that covers the deaths of the general population at the hands of law enforcement agencies. Each one, backed up with a verified article from a news / media outlet that covered the press release of the death.

From January 1st through December 9th, 2014 Law Enforcement officers in the United States of America have killed 1,034 people. That’s 343 days. That is an average of 3.014 deaths by law enforcement in the United States of America, each and every day. In contrast, 108 Police Officers have lost their life while on the job over the same time frame. This includes auto accidents, heart attacks, and accidental shootings. Dig into those numbers, and you will see that most of those deaths were not at the hands of a violent criminal. For every 1 officer who passed away while doing their job, police have killed 10.

Now, I know people want to use the same old cliches. ‘HOW MANY OF THEM WERE INNOCENT!?” “THE COPS WERE DOING THEIR JOB!”, and my new favorite “DON’T BREAK THE LAW AND YOU DON’T GOT NOTHIN’ TO WORRY ABOUT!”.

How many of them were innocent?

If you want to get technical, they were all innocent. Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, yes? That’s called the presumption of innocence, which is built on the foundation of the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments to one of America’s favorite documents.

But lets move past the technicalities. At the heart of this idea lies a problem. That problem is the acceptance of Law Enforcement Officers acting as judge, jury, and executioner. Last time I checked, I wasn’t living in the pages of Judge Dredd. They are not a judge. They are not a jury of your peers. They are not the executioner. They are human, just like you. A suspect’s guilt has absolutely no bearing on their right to life and due process.

But in case you do want to continue with this line of reasoning, I have a series of simple questions for you.

In the case of Michael Brown, what crime was he guilty of that carried a death sentence? Shoplifting? Resisting Arrest? Assaulting a Police Officer? Jaywalking?

In the case of Eric Garner, I would ask the same question. Does resisting arrest or selling untaxed cigarettes carry with it a death penalty?

In the case of Tamir Rice. Again, same question. Even if the police did in fact see the gun (the video they released proves they didn’t), does brandishing a firearm in public carry a death sentence?

Should I continue? Does being suicidal, and calling for help carry a death sentence? Does Grand Theft Auto carry a death sentence?

Of course, none of these crimes carry a death penalty consideration during the sentencing phase. While they could have been guilty of a crime, at no point can you point to a capital offense. And honestly, if you can show me the crime these people committed that warrants the death penalty, please find the statute of law where we are allowed to put them to death without the need for a trial, or even an admission of guilt.

The cops were just doing their jobs!
I hold the police to no higher (and no lesser) of a standard than I hold my fellow man. If something happens in the course of your job that is illegal, you are going to face an investigation, it will be put to a grand jury, and then you go to trial.

If you shoot a man, and the facts are, sketchy, I would expect that a Grand Jury will indict you. I expect that you will be given the same due process that every other man and woman in the nation is given.

If you choke a man to death, and it is recorded, I would expect that a Grand Jury will indict you. I expect that you will be given the same due process that every other man and woman in the nation is given.

If you drive your cruiser into a park, and shoot a 12 year old, I would expect that a Grand Jury will indict you. I expect that you will be given the same due process that every other man and woman in the nation is given.

If you lie, in an attempt to distort the facts of the case, I would expect that a Grand Jury will indict you. I expect that you will be given the same due process that every other man and woman in the nation is given.

If you shoot and kill a man who called for help because he was suicidal, I would expect that a Grand Jury will indict you. I expect that you will be given the same due process that every other man and woman in the nation is given.

If you, and 2 other officers simultaneously tase a suicidal student, I would expect that a Grand Jury will indict you. I expect that you will be given the same due process that every other man and woman in the nation is given.

If I am forced to prove my “fear of bodily harm” in a court of law, then I would expect that you should have to do so as well. Fair is fair. We are constantly told that Law Enforcement Officers are not above the law. We have heard it from many people, many times. But time and time again, we see that police are treated as if they are.

Just so we are clear: You (the defendant) are required to prove “Fear of Bodily Harm” in a court of law. It is not a reason for a non indictment by a grand jury. This was explained in explicit detail to myself, and my fellow Grand Jurors as we deliberated a case where a crime was committed at the fear/threat of bodily harm during my grand jury time (November – December, 2014).

Fear of bodily harm is a defense strategy to be used in a court of law to exonerate yourself of a charge. The Grand Jury’s sole job, is to determine if there is probably cause to move forward with charges. The job is not to determine guilt. The job is not to determine if there was a reasonable expectation of something. It is the single lowest burden of proof in the justice system. Probable Cause.

If you are a law enforcement officer, and you shoot a man, choke a man, kill a child, shoot a suicidal person, tase a suicidal young man while 2 other officers simultaneously tase him, I would expect that you are held to the same legal precedent, and given the same due process that I, the citizen that you took an oath to serve and protect, would be held to.

And when you aren’t charged with a crime. When you aren’t held to the same standard as the rest of the population, people are going to be mad. People are going to be angry. People are going to protest. Things may get a little crazy. People will feel that you are above the law.

Don’t break the law, and you have nothing to worry about!
Actually, yes you do. If you didn’t these stories wouldn’t keep happening. And those were just the first page of google news results, with over 800,000 more stories listed as results.

I’m trying to not play the race card either. But, it’s a sad world we live in, when this video is very relevant. If you are a minority in this country, you are more likely to be incarcerated for a crime compared to a Caucasian who commits the same crime.  You are more likely to be shot by a police officer.

Don’t break the law, and you have nothing to worry about? That is a fairy tale world populated by rainbows, unicorns, and confetti cannons.

Lt. Furseth. I’m speaking to you.

You are not special because you wear a badge. You’re life is no more precious than mine, my children’s, my father’s, my wife’s, or the life of a man, woman, or child I have not met. Someone is special, great, or worthy of praise, because of their actions, and the content of their character. Not simply because they chose a specific profession.

You aren’t special because you are a cop. Just because you put on a uniform, badge, and sidearm, does not make you special. If that is the sole criteria by which we decide that someone is special, then this guy is just as special as you, and every other cop.

Not every police officer is terrible. There are some absolutely amazing people who wear the uniform. I count some of them among my friends. Unfortunately, their reputation will be marred by those who do harm while in uniform. Unfortunately, as we have learned throughout history, a group is judged by the actions of a few. In this case, many men and women are being lumped together with the bad ones. Is it fair? Absolutely not. But that is life. “Rome IS the mob”. Those words from a movie (Gladiator) ring true. It’s held true for years. Appease the mob, and you’ve appeased the populace. Incite and enrage the mob, and you’ve enraged the populace.

Right now, the grand jury’s non indictments, the riot gear, the tear gas, and staggering body count, have enraged the mob. There is no turning back. There is no way to walk away from this ledge without legitimate change.

We should all be held accountable for our actions. It should not be possible to get away with it because of wearing a badge. And if we truly want the world to believe that, we need to let due process and the judicial system handle things. Let the cops sweat it out a few times in the courtroom.

Maybe they will be convicted. I doubt they will. At least, not at an alarming rate. But, it will re-instill faith in the public that their police, and the justice system are working for them, not against them.

Maybe it will serve as a reminder to officers that the motto is “To Serve and Protect”

Mr. Furseth, you may have stopped caring today, but I have not. I have never stopped thinking that this country can be better than we are. I believe that the true definition of “American Exceptionalism” lies in our ability to learn from, and correct our mistakes. To be progressive. To be an example of “making it better”. And I believe it’s about time that we got back to being exceptional.

Dec 09

Dear Biological Mother of my Son

Dear biological mother of my son

At our age, 10 months doesn’t seem like a long time. It probably doesn’t seem like a long time to an almost 18 year old either. But here we sit, with you just starting to serve a 10 month sentence for yet another drug offense. From what I can find online, you still have some time hanging over your head for several other problems as well. I can’t help but wonder if the next 10 months are going to be the end of your relationship with our son.

10 months. That’s what you are staring down right now. Not a long stretch. You’ve done longer right? You’ve missed plenty in the life of your son to your drug addiction, and your propensity to find trouble. You missed 4th grade, most of 5th grade, you were sporadic in 6th grade, missed all of 7th grade, and by then, he had pushed you off to the side. You were the weekend parent. You were the parent he wouldn’t go out of his way to be around. By High School, you were falling further out of his life, a transient entity in his life at best.

By the time you monumentally botched his 16th birthday (I’m being kind here), you were hanging by a thread. When you failed to show up after school for his 16th birthday, it was a forgone conclusion that you were probably never going to be a part of his life, in a meaningful way, from that moment on.

But, like I often do, I tried to cling to a sliver of hope. Maybe, you would find a way to dig yourself out of the mess you had made. Maybe you would find a way to get clean. Maybe you would find a way to move past the constant legal problems. Maybe in a few years, you would resurface in his life as a different person, one he might even entertain the idea of allowing back into his life.

And then, the summer of 2014 happened. Reading the charges from the local public records reminds me that hope often leads to disappointment. Drugs, Theft, Disorderly, Falsification, Failure to Appear for any and every court related appearance, and oh look more charges, and arrests, and time in jail, and BAM! sentenced to 10 months in Prison, with what looks to be more on the way, once they finalize the rest of your cases.

But I wonder. Do you realize what you’re going to miss over the next 10 months? Do you recognize that your self destructive behavior has probably doomed your relationship with him? Let me explain to you what you will miss.

Christmas.
I had a hope that you might find a way to make your way to your parents house for Christmas. Maybe, you might even see him while you were there. At least he could say that he saw you during the last holiday season of his childhood.

His Birthday.
Let’s be real here. You fucked up his 16th birthday. You had one job. Show up at the school with your grandparents and go out to eat with your son. That’s it job completed! Yay! Confetti and unicorns! No present or card necessary. Just show up.

No. You were too busy getting high, and riding your man into the sunset to bother with your kid.

So here we are. His 18th birthday. I guess at least we can say that you wont be able to fuck up his head or ruin his day. Will he feel you aren’t there? Sure. Will he come home, a puddle of tears dripping with rage, because you didn’t show up for his birthday? No.

Prom.
Senior Fucking Prom. Did I expect you to actually be there for a photo op? NO. I’m not even that naive. I did expect to get some lame bullshit message on Facebook, asking to get some of the pics the way you did freshman year for homecoming, Cry Face Emoji and all. Welp, that’s an awkward situation I don’t have to worry about.

Graduation.
Biggest day so far. He’s going to walk. He’s going to get his diploma. It is THE day that he has been working for. Did I think that you would come, and sit next to me, and be chums? Obviously not. Did I expect you to come with your family? Eh, not really. I think that they are probably fed up with your nonsense as well. I thought there might be a chance of this happening but it would have had to be stupifying odds for me to place a bet on it. I did hold out hope (there’s that stupid word again) you would find a way to make it. Lurking, watching. Maybe you would try to say something to him. Maybe you would watch from the back, content to see him succeed, and then leave, happy to know that you witnessed it.

Boot Camp.
You don’t have to like his decision to go to the Marines. Let’s be honest. It’s a scary fucking thought that he could end up being in the middle of some godawful situation while in the Marines. But, it fills me with pride to know that this is a decision he made, because he wants to be a better man. He wants to do this. He has only wanted to do this for a very long time. Like it or not, he’s going. Nothing anyone can say will sway him from his position. Being that you didn’t like his decision, I didn’t expect you to stand there, and hug him the day that he left. But I again, I hoped that you would have a chance to say goodbye.

Boot Camp Graduation.
I covered your opinion already. I wont cover it again. But seriously, this could be the single most
important day in the next 10 months. I have great friends, who would say that this was “the” day in their life. (up until they had children of their own, got married, etc…). And again, you will be absent.

10 months. Not a long stretch. You’ve done longer. But I don’t think you’ve done any harder time than this.

Nov 30

Love and Evolution

People die. When they die unexpectedly, those who were close to them are left shocked, dismayed, upset, and missing a piece of their heart. That is where my family finds themselves as we mourn the loss of someone who was close to all of us recently. My wife’s uncle passed away from a massive heart attack. He was 57.

To simply state that he was her uncle does not accurately explain how important he was to my wife, or his family. He was the person that brought the family together. He was the father figure that my own father-in-law had failed to be in my wife’s adult life. He was a great guy, one of two people in the world that I ever allowed to call me Chadwick without a cross look of disapproval. No. My wife is not the other.

His role in my wife’s life was revolutionized as she graduated high school. Her own father’s destructive behaviors became embarrassing, upsetting, and at times vile. He stood up to his brother, her father, when she needed it most. He went on to play the buffer role between them. Once space was made, he took on the role of father figure to her, even if it felt like he was so far away. Whenever he was in town, life stopped so that they could have time together.

I have a profound amount of respect for him. He wanted his niece to do more than dream her dreams. He wanted her to achieve those dreams, and be the woman that she desired to be. Without him in her life, I doubt that she would be who she is today. He didn’t mold her to be who she is, but he definitely provided affirmation and support along the way.

I’m not sure if he consciously took on the role of father figure to my wife. I don’t know. I can’t say for sure. I never had the chance to ask him.  I can say that I witnessed their interactions pre and post  the “moment that shaped the relationship”, and there was a change.

He evolved as a man, his relationship with my wife was revolutionized. He was amazing. I thank him for that.

This brings us to my wife, who is somewhat skeptical of my opinion. She changes people. If you spend enough time around her, she will change you for the better. I guarantee it. She changed me. She changed her uncle. She changes anyone that is around her who pays attention. It’s her gift.

I don’t think that was lost on her uncle. I truly believe that was why he “threw down” with his brother. It wasn’t “just” that my wife was his niece. He could have done plenty of other things to stand up for her against his brother that night. But he took the stand that needed to be taken, not the stance that was easy, or convenient. He took a very big stand. And I think that if he hadn’t, my wife wouldn’t be the same person that she is today.

I’m thankful for his place in my wife’s life. My wife changed me. I have evolved as a human being purely from being around my wife. When she is at her best, she will challenge your ideals, she will push you to answer questions that you may not want to answer. She has expanded my horizons. She has expanded how I handle things. She has made me a better man. To an extent, without him, I don’t think I would be who I am.

She helped me evolve. She has made me a more accepting, caring, loving man.
She revolutionized her relationship with her uncle. He became more than a “favorite uncle”. He became her father figure.

But, for the evolution that I’ve seen, I’ve seen de-evolution as well. But that’s not her fault. My father in law is a drunk. At times, an insufferable, crude, teenage drunk. I could go on and on about the things my wife has told me. I could write 1000 words about what I’ve witnessed. I could write you to sleep, and still not cover everything. But, I wont do that. I will try to keep it short and sweet.

When my wife and I got engaged, I sought our her mother’s blessing. I knew that it was more important to have her mother’s blessing than her father’s. So, it came time to tell my father-in-law to be that we were getting married, and oh by the way, congratulations, you’re going to be a grandfather! We settled on going early, the goal was to get him while he was sober. Get him out of the house. Get some breakfast, and have a decent time.

Unfortunately, 8:30 am was too late in the day to catch him sober. We showed up hoping to take him to breakfast, and tell him the news. When we walked in, the pyramid of Natural Lite Cans was already started on the coffee table. He was good and sauced. Not only did we not get the chance to take him to breakfast, we didn’t get to tell him we were getting married. We didn’t have a chance to tell him he was going to be a grandfather. And, we never told him either. That was my wife’s choice.

I believe that day was probably the last chance my father in law had at gaining some foothold in her life as her father. From that moment on, he may have been the man who gave her the DNA that made her who she was, but he was never going to be dad again. He was never going to be the guy she hoped he would be.

Which from all accounts, is almost a tragedy. My Father in Law, was supposedly a pretty good guy when my wife was a kid. He was a good father. He was a funny guy. He was charismatic. He was cool. And my wife was a daddy’s girl. But, when it came time to choose who he wanted to spend his time with, he often chose Natural Lite over his daughter.

The de-evolution of her father, gave rise to the evolution of her uncle, and the revolution of their relationship. And that relationship wasn’t marred by the distance between them. It wasn’t marred by the time that they didn’t get to talk on the phone. It wasn’t marred by anything. If he was in town, normal life stopped. It was time to spend the day, an evening, whatever, with Uncle Larry. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. He was everything that you need in an in law, and not much of what you didn’t.

And here we are. Remembering the man he was. Celebrating his life. Sitting in our home, that we were so excited to show him. While we are happy for the time that we had with him, and I celebrate the man he was, and the impact on my wife’s life, we are deeply saddened by the man we lost.

Nov 26

Ferguson, where are we?

I have tried and failed over the past week to put together my thoughts on what has unfolded in Ferguson. Originally, I thought I would write about the first amendment and how it has been used as a shield to create the terrorist organization we know as the KKK. I’d write about how in the year 2014 we are staring at KKK members giving commentary on network TV. I would wrap it up with the news of the Missouri KKK threatening the safety of protesters in Ferguson. But I couldn’t bring myself to get very far with it. I ended up angry and bitter that in 2014 the KKK was actually relevant in a discussion. The anger and bitterness caused my words to fail. Instead of being able to write a clear, albeit rambling piece, it came out angry and spiteful. It was the antithesis of what I wanted.

So I moved on. I changed course, thinking  I might pen something broad stroke in nature about the racial tensions that seem to underscore the very problem in Ferguson. Because if you get down to it, it is a topic that still impacts our nation some 40 years after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. I thought “Here we are several generations removed from that awful time, and we still struggle to see past the color of someone’s skin to the content of the character.” But again. My words failed me. They failed me, because I can’t believe that we have so far yet to go in this country before we get to a point where race isn’t an issue. I was overwhelmed by the idea of tackling it.

And then, last night, I watched the press conference and ensuing coverage on CNN. I watched events unfold on twitter, and Ustream. I sat there watching this happen, and my heart broke. I have a hard time believing that we as Americans can look at what has happened with Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and the countless cases that haven’t had the same media coverage and say: This, is the country we want it to be. At least, I hope that we can’t sit back and say that.

I wasn’t on the Grand Jury. I wasn’t part of the process. I wont pretend to have combed through the information that was released by the prosecutor after the press conference. I wont pretend to be an expert. With that out in the open, I don’t believe that the killing was justified in this case.

My reasoning is simple, and flawed. I can accept this. I can’t see lethal force being justifiable in the death of an unarmed man under these circumstances. It gnaws at my brain to try and rationalize it. With the training received by a law enforcement officer, I do not see lethal force as the justifiable option in this instance. He wasn’t choking him. He wasn’t grappling with him when the lethal shot was fired. There was no imminent danger when he pulled the trigger the sixth, and final time. Judging by the photos released of Officer Wilson, I just don’t see it.

I also don’t see any way to rationally condone the violent outburst during the protests, that turned into rioting. A Law Enforcement officer shot an unarmed man six times, killing him. When he wasn’t indicted, some used it as an excuse to riot, loot, pillage, and destroy. It again gnaws at my brain to think that people thought the acceptable reaction to the grand jury decision was to burn down a Little Caesar’s pizza, smash windows, and loot businesses.

As I watched it all, one thing was very clear. America has become a place where violence is the answer. Look at the cause and effect. Look at how the altercation between Brown and Wilson went down. Look at how some of the protesters behaved. Look at the riots in LA (Rodney King). Look at the violence in New Orleans after Katrina. Look at Trayvon Martin.

Violence is how we settle things. It is our coping mechanism. Hell, Violence is even how we celebrate. Look at the riots after a major sporting event. A team wins its championship, and there is a riot. Violence, Arson, mayhem. It is our comforter. It’s a warm blanket that we wrap ourselves in. Angry or jubilant, we wrap ourselves in violence, and settle in for the night.

Our violence has led us to this point. Welcome to the aftermath. The Grand Jury didn’t feel that they had the evidence to issue an indictment. And we saw the very worst of humanity play out on our screens in the aftermath. Not everyone protesting was an example of the awfulness. Remember that. Many of those people who were protesting did not burn cars, destroy buildings, or burn things. They were protesting. Not rioting.

And not every law enforcement officer in attendance was awful either.

The violence in the wake of the decision will not bring Mike Brown back from the dead. Destroying a person’s livelihood will not teach the police a lesson. It’s self harm. Nothing more. I wrote about it before. We would take our own rights away instead of extending rights to those we don’t agree with. We will riot, loot, and destroy each other in the wake of a tragedy. We have an ugly habit of doing this.

This behavior has to stop.

We need to stop harming ourselves and each other. We need to look for new ways to handle the enforcement of our laws. Clearly there is a flaw in the system. We need to find ways to ensure that the number of people who die at the hands of our law enforcement falls. We shouldn’t see unarmed young men gunned down by a police officer.

We shouldn’t see our protests become violent, and devastating.  We shouldn’t watch as those standing together to protest what they believe is an injustice used as a cover for violence and destructive rage.

We need to see this as a turning point. A rallying cry.We, as people need to be the voice of change. If we can’t work to change our society, what are we leaving as our legacy? Will we leave the legacy of a racist society? Will our legacy be that fear and mistrust of those whose job it is to protect us is the norm? Will it be that a protest is a chance to destroy, loot, and ravage?

Or, will we leave a legacy of change? Will we leave the lasting impression that in the face of a tragedy, we banded together, and worked to ensure that this will not happen again?

Please, don’t mistake my words. I’m not saying that a protest is the same as a riot. Protest, is important. Protests, in solidarity with our fellow man can be a radical catalyst for change in this country. We have seen it as a means to change. We have seen the power that it can have when many unite as one and protest injustices. Rioting, is not protest. It’s destructive. It warps and distorts the message. In much the same way that a heinous and violent act by a law enforcement officer can lead us to this point, and distract from the job that they do.

I wanted to close with a quote. As I wrote this, I had thought of several quotes that I thought could be poignant. But I scrapped several of them, because they left me feeling less than satisfied with their tone. And then it hit me. There is only quote that fits on a site named after an Everclear Song. I leave you with the words of Art Alexakis.

“Oh, I want to believe in this world
I want to believe in this life
I want to believe in a world that does not seem real
When I read the New York Times”

Nov 18

Adrian Peterson thinks his punishment was too harsh.

WARNING: This post will be laced with profanity. This post may contain grammatical errors. 

So, Adrian Peterson, Running Back for Minnesota Vikings was suspended today for the rest of the season. For those of you who don’t sport, He is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. He’s “sort of a big deal”.

Why was he suspended? Because he beat his 4 year old son with a switch, leaving cuts, bruising, and swelling over his legs, buttocks, gentials, and lower back.

Wait… What? Yes. You read that right. You beat a 4 year old child with a switch, so hard, and so often, that he covered the majority of the lower half of the child’s body in cuts and bruises, INCLUDING HIS GENITALS.

The Child’s mother took the child to the doctor, who did the right thing, and reported it. Children Services got involved, and ended up filing felony abuse charges in court.  And this whole fucking time, Adrian Peterson, is saying (I’m paraphrasing here) “Yeah, I beat my kid, but I got beat that way too! That’s the way we do it in TEXAS!” That’s right. No Remorse. No, I’m sorry. No anything. Yep, I did it, but it wasn’t a big deal.

As soon as the court proceedings were over, AP (as he goes by) decided to apply for IMMEDIATE REINSTATEMENT to play football again. Mind you, at this point, we’ve still not heard him say sorry, or that he might have overstepped the line. Nope. And the whole time, there are reports coming out from those close to him that he just doesn’t get how serious this is.

Congratufuckinglations Adrian Peterson. You are a shitbag. You beat a 4 year old kid, and the minute your court case is over, you decide to apply for reinstatement.

Well, the NFL doesn’t have a good guideline on how to handle this type of thing, so they’re sort of winging it. I mean… What else do you do? You’ve taken a beating on how you’ve handled domestic violence in the past, so you stiffen up the rules, and you are trying to figure out how to handle it as you go along. Yeah, it’s going to look like you’re flying by the seat of your pants. That’s normally what you’re doing when you are faced with a situation that you haven’t seen before.

So, in the midst of a growing crisis of player’s who look like abusive monsters, the NFL says “NO. You’re done for the season. We have a plan in place to get you back on the field, but it wont be this year, and you have to adhere to it 100%, or you can sit longer”

And what does AP do? The only thing he can do. He appeals. Because this punishment is too harsh. That’s cute. You think that you’re punishment for beating a fucking child is too fucking harsh. I wonder how your child feels about the punishment you gave him. I wonder if he thinks that what he did warranted the kind of cuts and bruises that you inflicted on him.

You beat a 4 year old kid. A defenseless fucking four year old kid. Someone who depended on you to keep them safe. Who depended on you to protect them. You bruised his body, you cut his body. And you think, that you are being punished to harshly. Is that irony?

No. It’s idiocy.

And to compound the idiocy? The NFLPA (that would be the player’s union) is BACKING HIS APPEAL. The head of the union is saying playing the “well, the NFL is making it up as they go along!” card, and trying to make this about the process, and deflect away from the real problem.

Adrian Peterson beats kids. This isn’t the first time he’s beat a kid. There were reports of text messages and pictures between the mother of one of his other children, and himself, where he beat another young kid, while they were strapped in a car seat, and he basically said: “Well, if he wouldn’t have moved so much, he wouldn’t have got hurt!”

I don’t even know what to say at this point. This guy has a problem. A real, and very serious problem.  It’s the type of problem that is systemic in our culture. Child Abuse. I’m sure if we go back through AP’s past, we will see that when he referenced his own upbringing, we will find a history of abuse. I guess the only thing I can say, is that he needs to take the plan that the NFL has put in front of him, and do it. Do the counseling. Do the therapy. Be compliant. Learn from this. Become a better man.

But I don’t think that is going to happen. He’s going to piss and moan, whine, and complain and try and make himself into the victim. He’s being bullied by the NFL after all, can’t you see it?

I don’t see it, but after cruising twitter this morning, there are LEGIONS of football fans who see it. And it makes me sad. They point to the NFL’s past discipline, and say “but so and so wasn’t suspended!”, instead of looking to the future, and trying to make the world a better place.

It’s a big problem in our culture right now. We deify people who can sport well, and try to be apologetic when they fuck up. If we want to make our society better, we need to take a look at the reactions to the Ray Rice Incident earlier this year, and the reaction unfolding right now to the Adrian Peterson incident, and realize that by supporting abusers, we are enabling the problem. By wearing Ray Rice Jerseys to a game “to support him” after he was suspended for viciously attacking his wife in a casino elevator, and getting upset because Adrian Peterson violated a personal conduct policy, and BEAT A FUCKING CHILD, we are actually enabling domestic violence and child abuse in our culture.

At what point, do we stand up, and say enough is enough. At what point do we tell someone that they are going to be held responsible for their actions? People say “But, he was sentenced in court! The NFL shouldn’t be able to do this to him!”

Well, when you are a public representation of a multi billion dollar company, and you damage their reputation through actions in your personal life, you play by different rules. And I’m really not sure how different those rules are. Plenty of companies have personal conduct policies. He violated theirs. And now, he’s going to be punished for it.

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