Here We Go Again

It’s not a perfect analogy, but let’s say you live in a little village on one side of the interstate, next door to the most awesome bar imaginable.

Say that your buddy John lives on the other side of the interstate, directly across from you and the bar.  But it’s rural nowhere, so, if he’s going to actually drive to the bar, he’s got to go ten miles down to the nearest exit, cross the interstate there, and then come ten miles up.

Then, he sits at the bar and gets drunk and has to drive twenty miles home, when his house is just across the road there.

So, he shouldn’t do it.  It’s dangerous and it’s illegal, but he crosses the interstate on foot.

Y’all wish he wouldn’t, but you can see why he does.

If he’s sitting at the bar, no car in the parking lot, do the police have a right to arrest him?  He’s not crossing the interstate at the moment, but clearly, he got to the bar by crossing the interstate.

Would it be weird if folks at the bar started thinking of John as not having a right to be at the bar?  Would it be weird if they started thinking that John was taking up a space at the bar that belonged to someone who didn’t cross the interstate on foot?

Now, here’s where it gets important.  If the police aren’t interested in stopping John from crossing the interstate, do the people at the bar have the right to prohibit him from doing it?  Would it be okay if they shot him?

I assume we’re all in agreement that, if the penalty for crossing the interstate on foot is a fine and possibly a little jail time, having people talking about opening fire on ole John is, perhaps, a little extreme.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when coming into this country illegally was considered about on par with John’s crossing of the interstate.  Sneaking across the border was a crime, but once you had sneaked across the border, you were, for the most part, done committing the crime.

That’s why, even until recently, illegal immigrants could get drivers licenses in Tennessee.  That’s why they can get in-state tuition in some states.  The crime had been committed, but if the border crosser could figure out how to reside here without committing any more crimes, he or she was mostly left alone to be a productive part of the community.

Over the past few years, the rhetoric has changed.  Now we talk about illegal immigration as an ongoing crime.  From the moment you enter the country illegally until the moment you leave, you are in a state of “illegal immigration.”  Everything you do is wrong and might be criminalized because you are committing an ongoing crime.  Your existence in this country is a crime.

I should point out that it’s still a crime with a punishment of either being sent back to your home country or, at the most, given a couple of years in prison.  That’s it.

This “terrible” crime is punishable by a year or two in prison or being deported.

Is there any other crime a person could commit punishable by just a couple of years in jail that you’d be comfortable when people started talking about shooting the offender?

Do you think it should be okay for folks to talk seriously about non-police U.S. citizens shooting shoplifters?  Tax cheats?  Illegal music downloaders?

And yet, damn it, Kleinheider, there’s just such a discussion going on over at Volunteer Voters right now.

Donna Locke says:

As an immigration controller, I am fairly pessimistic on this issue at this point, as far as peaceable, political solutions go. I believe we had windows of opportunity to effect change on this issue through political means, but those windows have closed and passed. There are still laws and changes in laws we must pursue, but many years of inaction have now diverted the United States onto the path of another probable future. A path of eventual revolution. [Emphasis mine.]

Seriously.  She foresees violent revolution in the U.S. because the government’s not doing enough to chase down folks who’ve done nothing worse than shoplifting?

The Blue Collar Republican is just as ridiculous:

We have plenty of laws, but no will to enforce them. I am afraid you are right about it being “too late”, but some are being patient and giving the process a chance. But make no mistake, many are arming themselves to do the job themselves if the government will not.

Really?  The job is deporting people or putting them in prison for a couple of years.  Is that what the Blue Collar Republican is advocating, because, I have to say, it seems to me that he’s not advocating that armed militias round up folks and fly them back to Mexico.  It seems to me pretty damn clear that he’s explaining that soon enough folks will just start shooting people.

This is evil talk.

Let me repeat.  This is evil talk.

Sitting around discussing throwing a tantrum so big that it includes violence against real live people because the government isn’t doing enough to keep the brown people away from you is evil.

And Kleinheider, damn it!  Do you call either one of them on that eliminationist nonsense?  No, you fucking “Good point. Very good point, in fact.”

What the fuck are you talking about?  It’s a “good point” when the Blue Collar Republican insinuates that, if the Government won’t enforce immigration laws to the linking of jingoists, the jingoists will start shooting people?

That’s not a good point.  That’s ridiculousness bordering on psychopathy.  You don’t go around shooting people or even threatening to shoot people because the federal government isn’t dealing with them fast enough for your liking.

As of May 7th, there were just over six million people living in Tennessee.  Just under six hundred thousand of us live in Davidson County.  Three percent of people in the whole state are Hispanic.  In Davidson County, it’s right around seven percent–42,000 people, give or take a few.

How many of them are here illegally?  I’ve spent the evening perusing pro- and anti-immigration sites and I don’t think anyone can say for sure.

But we’re devoting a whole lot of energy and resources to locating these illegal immigrants and purging them from our community.  Shoot, folks over at Volunteer Voters are barely satisfied with a purge.  They have their guns ready just in case someone needs killing.

America, let me tell you something.  We have a habit of doing shit like this.  In this very state, on this very land.  This is not new.  When we wanted the land and resources of the Cherokee people, we reinterpreted our arrangement with them, rounded them up, and sent them off to some “homeland” out west.

Shoot, on the rare occasion when we freed slaves here in Tennessee, we required them to leave the state when we were done with them, even if Tennessee was the only home they’d ever known, even if their families were here.

And here we go again.  We’ve decided that the Mexicans (and let’s not be coy about who we’re singling out.  There’s a reason TnRIP is all “Nashville or Tijuana?”) have resources that we can justify to ourselves belong rightfully to us, so we’ve decided to change the terms of our agreement (immigrating here illegally used to be like shoplifting once, now we treat it like an ongoing series of armed robberies) in order to relocate them someplace where we can’t hear them when they complain about us stealing their shit and destroying their families.

And shoot, if we can terrorize the Mexicans who are here legally, too, all the better.

“No, Aunt B., it’s not about terrorizing all Mexicans, we swear.”

Oh yeah, how do you suppose we’re going to locate those illegals?  We’re going to tolerate the continual harassment of all Mexicans, that’s how.

I mean, come now.  We all know that 287(g) means that every Hispanic-seeming person who comes to the attention of the police in Davidson County is going to get run through the system.

I could forget my drivers license at home and just be given a ticket.  You can’t tell me Tia B. isn’t going to be taken downtown in case she needs to be deported.  What’s a ten or fifteen minute uncomfortable encounter with the police for me is going to end up being an all day thing for some people.

Keep ’em all afraid and all inconvenienced and maybe they’ll all leave–legal or not–our brown neighbors.  At least, that seems to be the attitude.

And shame on you all for embracing it.

But you know what?  Fuck it.  Kleinheider’s all

However, just because the celebration seems hypocritical, we cannot avoid the fundamental questions that Fortuyn brings up. If he had every right to protect his culture and heritage from demographic annihilation, do we, as Americans, not have that very same right?

Seriously, what’s he complaining about?  Our culture and heritage have a strong strain of forcibly removing non-white people from our midst.  He shouldn’t feel any anxiety.  He should be pleased to see we’re continuing that age-old American tradition of fucking as hard as we can with the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

I mean, shoot, if folks can talk openly about shooting people just because they’ve picked the wrong place to live–in a city in a state in a region that ought to know what happens when folks are talking that way–and not one person calls them on how evil they sound, well, shucks, America, I about don’t know what to say.

I’ll be practicing “Lo siento,” though.

Not by the Hair on my Chinny-Chin-Cin

Okay, gentlemen, I must know–when and if you ever pluck out a single beard hair, how long is the root on it?

Because, I have to tell you, I have a whisker that grows on my chin, which I attempt to pluck the moment I can feel it come to the surface and when I do, the part that is exposed to air is probably no wider than the letter “I” right there, but the part that was beneath the skin is about as long as that letter “I” is tall.

It freaks me right the fuck out.  Why does it have such a deep root?!  My chin doesn’t feel that thick.  I press just a wee bit and I can feel the bone.  Where is all that hair hanging out inside my face?!

Is it like a normal beard whisker, just given to me by some weird curse of genetics or is it some freak of nature both because it’s on my chin and because the root is so huge?

Advise me, boys.

Are We Going to Be The Way We Want the World to Be?

This has been nagging me for days. I guess because it’s come up. Are we going to be the way we want the world to be?

I think this is a tough, tough question for feminists to answer, in part because those of us in the third wave have felt the women of the second wave answer that question, often seemingly, at our expense, “no.”

We’ll talk about equality and sisterhood and treating each other with respect and creating that “good ole girls” network and bringing about a world of equality and social justice for all and to all a good night, but have we ever been worked in more ridiculous ways for longer hours for less pay all while cleaning up their dogs’ poop than at the hands of certain second wavers?

And our excuses, I think, have always been two-fold: 1. that the damage done by the Patriarchy is so great that, even when women start to “come to consciousness,” they are bound to be so fucked up by their experiences that we can’t expect them to always match their personal treatment of others to the big ideas they’re trotting out for the rest of us to live by and 2. that whatever we’re doing at this moment is so fragile that, even if what we’re doing is arguing for greater freedoms in some specific ways, we must be willing to curtail our own freedoms in those same ways in order ensure the survival of that fragile thing.

In other words, we must be willing to sacrifice our own happiness and well-being for the sake of “women everywhere.”

It’s not hard to see how this is the same old bullshit we’re always asked to take on, but wrapped in feminist wrapping paper. Women are always asked to put the well-being of the group ahead of our own well-being, to put the appearance of propriety above our own health and welfare, to leave it to future generations to have it better than we do.

I’ve talked before about how Maya Angelou says that most people don’t want change; they want exchange. They don’t want to dismantle power structures; they just want to be the ones on top for a while.

Even though we know those power structures hurt the folks on the bottom. Even though we know those power structures help destroy everyone stuck in them. And so on and so on. Just let us get our digs in first, before we’re all destroyed.

I honestly don’t think that’s what we’re trying to do. I don’t think that feminists want to be the ones in charge, the ones lording over men, for once. I don’t think we consciously want exchange.

I think, though, that we don’t commit to change. Not all the way.

And I get why. It’s hard to imagine what change would look like. Really implementing change leads to confusion and it’s hard to get widespread support for confusing things. And it’s hard to commit to something when you don’t know what the outcome might be.

But I keep thinking about the emails I get from my favorite critics, who are all the time teasing me about how men have to do very little to keep women down, when women are so willing to undermine each other. To paraphrase–sucks to find you’ve traded the jackboot on your neck for a Birkenstock.

I think that most people actually support women’s rights. I think if you sat down even the most curmudgeonly among us here and got them a little drunk and started asking them if they believe that women are equal to men, if there are ways the deck seems unfairly stacked against women, etc., they would all say, sure.

Why, then, don’t they identify as feminist?

I think it’s because they sense the change/exchange problem, even if they wouldn’t put it in those words.

We talk like we want one kind of world; we act like we believe we’re stuck with this one.

I don’t know how to overcome that. I’m sure I’m as guilty of it as anyone else.

But I just don’t think we can keep putting off real change. Nor should we. Feminism is supposed to benefit us. It’s supposed to make our lives better and us happier, in ways that are good for us.

Why would we put that off? Or give it up for ourselves hoping that maybe, just maybe, the next generation of women can have it?

Not all second-wavers are assholes. We wouldn’t have become feminists if most of the second-wavers didn’t make it look like important and fulfilling work (and fun! Sorry, Shannon, but pleasurable, pleasurable work, too).

If anything, we owe it to the next generation of women to be living important, daring, fulfilling, and pleasurable lives. We owe it to them to be honest with our struggles and our failures as well as our successes.  We don’t know what we’re doing.  True enough.

But we know that how we have been doing things doesn’t work.  We can point to that and say for sure.

I don’t know.  I’m just mulling over crap*.


*Ha, my brain is like a giant compost heap and I’m just churning away, hoping to turn all this trash into fertilizer.

That  makes me happy to realize.

Random things–The Being Raised By Hippies is Good for Something Edition

–Mack’s got this person who’s all the time spending time at his house eating his food, drinking his juice drinks, playing his badminton, and this person is, when not mooching off Mack’s food, designing clothes.  The last time I was up there, she designed a dress made out of chili peppers for me.  I would totally wear that, even if I couldn’t figure out how to sit in it and am probably allergic to it.  I have offered to teach her to sew.  I have neglected to tell her that I haven’t ever, I don’t think, sewn a straight line on anything.  But I think she’s talented.  I think, if I show her the basics, she can teach herself to do the rest.  It pissed me off when my mom taught me to sew, but now that I’m older, I sure wish I had a sewing machine.

–When I was little, we used to live close enough to Springfield that I could recite the tour through Lincoln’s house by heart.  Of course, I knew they’d tried to steal Lincoln’s body.  Shoot, I’ve even been to Lincoln’s creepy first grave.  But it’s still a fun story and who does not love imagining them carting a dead body around the Dunes?  Shoot, as if that place doesn’t smell bad enough.

–Speaking of Springfield, one of my favorite stops is the Dana-Thomas House.  Renovated by Frank Lloyd Wright, it contains a room for seances.   Someday, I hope to live in a house with a room devoted to seances.

–My Grandma A. always used to say, “Don’t buy an old house.  You’ll just be constantly fixing other people’s problems.”  Still, in my dreams, I live in a funky, well-loved Victorian with high ceilings and one room just for all my books, with the only furniture being a big leather chair and a table and lamp and a fireplace.  Otherwise, nothing but bookshelves.  And I’d want a huge dining room where all my friends and relatives could sit for big meals.  And a great big kitchen.  And a room just for all my woo-woo shit.  And a big, big clawfoot tub.  And shitloads of windows.

Strange Things Are Happening Every Day

So, this morning, Mrs. Wigglebottom and I are returning from our walk and we’ve just gotten past Dr. Phil’s house and we’re on our way up the hill when all of a sudden I feel something brush against the side of my head, like a rapidly folding and unfolding fan.

Y’all, this just tickled me so much.  A bird divebombing me.  What’s a bird going to do to me? 

Not a whole lot and yet, I was too close to something he cared about (I presume a nest) and he was determined to chase me off, no matter how ridiculous.

Well, we walk by there every day.  I hope he gets used to us being there.

Then, I came home and the tiny cat came in to eat come breakfast and then, I swear, she opened up her mouth and made this noise that sounded like “Let me out.”

Well, slap my ass and call me a baby, when your cat starts making noises that sound like discernible sentences, the very least you know is that you’ve been spending too much time together and so I did indeed let her out.

I will say, though, she seemed highly surprised that her little display worked, so, even if she knows at some level that making noise gets you let out, I think it’s safe to say that she’s not so smart as to exactly get which noises work best.