Refugees, Vaginas, and Guns, Oh My!

Last year I took a three month break from Facebook. I even wrote a piece about it but never published it because it was one of those obnoxious “10 Things I learned when I left Facebook” things. Lately I’ve been wanting to sign off, permanently.

I could say it’s the manipulation of my newsfeed to elicit emotion but that’s only part of the problem. Facebook does that, you know? They fill your feed with either negative or positive things to see if you’ll post using certain adjectives. They have a huge psychological research team. It’s not a secret. I’ve listened to many interviews with psychologists who work at Facebook. Last summer my friend posted about her son getting lost at a baseball game and used the story as an example of how easily children can drown at a pool party. For the next few weeks my news feed was filled with stories about children drowning.

Thanks Facebook.

It’s a lot of things, but lately I’m having a very difficult time suffering fools. People sharing articles without realizing it’s from a website that spins propaganda. People posting fake statistics. Just entirely fake, as if facts aren’t a thing. Trump anyone? I mean really, when an entire civilization thinks that facts are up for debate, that we can choose which facts are true, we have a giant problem. This utter loss of intellectualism has happened to the world before. It was called The Dark Ages. Pick up a history book folks. You really don’t want to do this again.

Then there are the Christians using their religion to argue with each other about the whole Syrian refugee debacle. And all I can do is sit there and scratch my head and wonder why religion is involved in that discussion at all. Why do you need to be reminded your Jesus was kind, even showing compassion to lepers and whores? Are you such an awful, self-centered person that the only thing that gets through to you is Jesus? Jesus, love incarnate. But you, you as a human, you’re garbage without that reminder I guess. Without Jesus you would look at those drowning people fleeing slaughter and feel nothing?

This is not about your religious ideology. This is about being human. If you cannot show love outside of religion, then you’re not a good person.

I mean yes, we all get annoyed when someone posts something political that we don’t agree with. But if your world view is based in kindness and facts I will respect it even when I don’t agree.

But if you post propaganda, if you facilitate the spread of ignorance by pushing the ‘share’ button. I’m fucking done. I cannot be nice.

In the last week I’ve unfriended three people simply for posting ignorant shit. And I don’t mean things I personally find ignorant. No, I mean actual ignorance. The misquoting or twisting of facts. The sharing of articles from websites that can only be defined as propaganda. I have no interest in seeing the inner racism and ignorance of my online friends via social media. No thanks, I’d rather read articles about drowning babies.

Then there was the Planned Parenthood shooting.

So yeah, gun control and Planned Parenthood talked about together. What a fucking delight! Hey and while we’re at it, let’s have congress defund Planned Parenthood at the same time and throw in a massacre in California to boot! But wait, oh we’re not done yet!
Wait for it, wait… for… it…

The shooters are Muslim and have links to ISIS, or maybe they just “self radicalized” (because that’s a thing now) the way crazy people do when they get bored raising their beautiful baby girl.

Oh yeah friends, grab the fucking popcorn. Let’s do this shit!

I’m done. I really am.

It’s the first time in my entire life that it’s really getting to me. I’m waking up in the middle of the night. I’ve become every old man reading the newspaper at the breakfast table and muttering, “The world’s gone to shit.” I’m going on acidic rants while standing in the kitchen talking to my husband. He just nods in agreement and listens. Then he tells me that there are these people who actually believe the shooting at Sandy Hook never happened, just like those morons who think the holocaust was a lie. Apparently it was all staged in order to get the public to favor stricter gun control. [Yeah, that worked out]

And my brain explodes right there in the kitchen. Like gasoline on a goddam fire.

I go to bed seething.

I wake up in the morning and like a mental patient I log back onto Facebook to enjoy some more crazy.

Then it dawns on me that it’s not the news. It’s not the refugees fleeing evil while being labeled as having the potential for evil. It’s not the shootings, or even the never ending subjugation of American women.

Nope. That’s just status quo in America.

It’s Facebook.

It’s the ability to actually sit and watch as America brainstorms with their 8th grade reading level and their inability to decipher the difference between entertainment and real news. I’m watching your thoughts friends, and I’m trying to remind myself of what I love about you. I’m trying to be tolerant. I’m trying to focus on your good qualities. I’m wishing everyone had really paid attention in their rhetoric class. I’m wishing you’d taken statistics, or logic and reasoning. I’m wishing you’d taken it, aced it, and remembered how to question information and the media.

monument

But you didn’t. Time to go back to school America.

Educated electorate my ass.

Time for me to log the fuck out.

The Truth About Little Boys and Guns

I’ve been wanting to write this for awhile. Something terrible happened in my town on Friday. It involved a man and a gun. But I’m not ready to talk about that yet. I have too much to say.

Far too much.

Today I want to talk to you about little boys and toy guns. I want to talk to you about my boy, about the truth. Not some politicized lecture on gun control, or men, or how we keep the guns from the crazy men. Or even how we fix a culture that creates so many crazy men.

Not today friends, another time.

Today I’ll tell you about my boy and his love of projectiles.

You see, it all started with a squirt gun.

Since my son was born I knew that we wouldn’t have toy guns. I can’t tell you exactly why I felt this way only that it was a feeling. The sight of a child pointing a weapon at another child; it pulled at something inside me.

I had toy guns growing up.

Lots of them.

When I was a kid toy guns looked real. They didn’t have that little orange piece of plastic on the end. We had a whole arsenal of silver pistols and cap guns. I vividly remember playing cops and robbers, tying the neighbor kid to a chair to interrogate him while waving my Annie Oakley six shooter in his face.

Sometimes I was the cop. Sometimes I was the robber.

I remember shooting coke cans off the fence with my cousin’s BB gun. I remember pointing my plastic, silver pistol out the back window of our Oldsmobile, at the smiling elderly couple driving behind us. They knew they were toys. They thought we were cute.

But time has a way of changing the world. I had a son and resolved that he wouldn’t play with guns. And then when he was two I bought him a water pistol in the $3 section at Target. You know, because summer and childhood and good times.

It wasn’t a gun. It was a water gun.

sguirtguneditIt was also the beginning of the end.

I could tell you that it was a mistake, if only I’d never bought that water pistol. But this would be pointless. The minute he was introduced to toys that have the ability to launch things, he was hooked. I should have known how it would play out. He had recently discovered the concept of pirates and ships, and with that came cannons.

“What is this contraption?!” he seemed to think, “I can load something little into it and it flies out?! Awesome!”

I watched him and discovered that the male brain seems hardwired to love explosives. My husband made the same observation.

Then he saw the movie Wreck It Ralph at a friend’s house, a movie that had laser guns. And then there was the toy gun in a waiting room somewhere that he picked up and quickly figured out.

It was only these three small instances, but little by little, everything was a gun.

If he found a stick shaped like a handgun, it was a handgun.

I was embarrassed, worried that strangers at the park would think I was letting my two-year-old play with toy guns. But mothers of little boys seemed to understand. They got it.

They knew it was unavoidable.

My father came to visit and told me the same story. That my brother was only three and had never been allowed toy weapons. One day as my Dad was raking leaves he looked up to see him holding a stick and “shooting” with it. He said he stood there dumbfounded, wondering how, why. Of course, I would bet money that my brother had most definitely seen a Bugs Bunny cartoon by that point.

You see, guns are everywhere in American culture. In just about every movie geared toward children. Damn, even Despicable Me has a fart gun. Sure, it shoots farts but it’s still a gun.

I take my kids to see The Peanuts Movie over the weekend and they walk past two giant cardboard displays in which men are posed to shoot you. They’re holding 9mms and look totally bad ass doing it. They look strong, in a way we all wish we were. My two-year-old daughter seems intrigued and scared at the same time.

I don’t know what to tell you about this. I don’t know how we can stop something so deeply ingrained in us.

What I do know is there’s no way I can shelter my boy from this. One day I will have to teach him how to shoot. I will have to teach him gun safety. The same way my father taught my brother and I when we became too interested.

This is where things get conflicted for me.

I’m a damn good shot with a .45. I don’t want guns in my life but not knowing how to shoot while living in a country that has enough firearms (in private homes) to arm every man, woman and child, just seems stupid. I want to teach my son the danger without feeding the obsession.

But for now I will continue to tell him what my father told me.

A couple months back he was playing in the backyard and stopped to contemplate something. He turned to me and said, “Mama, why does *Tim have pretend guns?”

“His Daddy was a soldier and he used to carry a gun. Maybe it feels familiar to him. Maybe his parents don’t think it’s a big deal. But for me it’s a big deal. Guns aren’t pretend. They were invented for one purpose, to kill people. I’m not ok with pretending to kill people because I actually know people who were hurt and killed because of guns. Do you understand?”

He seems to understand, for now. He hasn’t asked for a toy gun in a long time.

But my husband has a stockpile of NERF guns in the basement just lying in wait.

nerfguns Old habits die hard.

 

 

 

*obviously not the kid’s name