Women in this State Don’t Count for Much

I’m trying to write a post for Pith about the Governor’s proposal to close down the female juvenile detention center and throw those girls back in with the boys, into a facility where the sexual abuse of the boys is so rampant that it’s received national attention. I’m trying to write about how, because newspapers in this state won’t call rape rape, I had to write Nate Rau and clarify whether the girls in this story were having sex or being raped, because you can’t trust the newspapers to be square with you.

I, instead, wrote about a proposed law to ban the unregulated sale of breast milk in the state. A problem the sponsor heard about taking place on eBay. A problem which doesn’t actually exist on eBay. But, you know, women are scam artists. We’ll sell dangerous breast milk. We’ll bilk you out of child support. We’ll pass of kids that aren’t yours as yours just to get your money. And women hate babies, so the state has to step in and regulate every area of our existence to make sure we’re not killing them off.

And that post was the pick-me-up from the post about closing New Visions.

People, just read this: “‘In these difficult economic times, DCS, like the rest of state government, must live within its means,’ Johnson said.”

Just let that sink in. “Live within its means” means closing New Visions and putting more kids in a facility we know is overrun with sexual abuse. That’s their great budget idea–give these abusers access to more kids.

What? Because we’re betting that because they’re girls and the abusers have so far been abusing boys that the girls will be fairly safe?

Until we have a handle on what’s going on at Woodland Hills, we should be moving kids out of there, not adding more kids to the mix.

I just honestly don’t even know how to process this.

“State Sen. Douglas Henry said it was premature to discuss keeping the New Visions facility open until it could be learned where the $2.5 million would be cut instead by DCS.”

How is this not the equivalent of selling these girls for $125,000 a piece to child rapists?

And how can there be no discussion about how to save these boys from that?

How can we possibly discuss closing this facility? Some things should just be beyond the pale. There should be no financial straits dire enough that we’re handing children over to rapists.

What’s in Your Heart

One thing I find utterly baffling in the whole Walt Baker thing is the amount of people who want to sit around and argue about what’s in Baker’s heart. Like we can’t know that what he did was racist, because we don’t know what’s in his heart.

On the one hand, I get that this is a way that religious language leaks into secular culture without us realizing it. If you can sin by lusting in your heart, even if you never act on it, even if you never even tell anyone, I guess the opposite can be true–that you can act any old way you want, and as long as your heart is pure, no harm no foul.

I don’t understand this, I’m not sure it’s theologically sound, but I see where it comes from.

But it can’t just be religion framing our thinking.

I was thinking maybe it’s just as simple as “I, too, want to be able to do dumbass shit and know that my buddies will step up and smooth things over for me, so I’d better do it for others.”

But the more I think about it, the more I think that this is probably not the case, at least, not all the time.

Because it sounds too much like the “But he loves me” wife-beater defense.

You know, where a person’s outward behavior is atrocious but a person manages to convince herself that there’s some secret inner goodness that can be brought out either by affirmation of that goodness, proper behavior, or just loving said abuser enough.

Which, of course, puts me in the mind of all of the college-rape stuff that came out over the weekend.

And then I realized, I think, what’s going on. Folks have been groomed to provide cover for assholes, to believe that any one of us, at any moment, could be doing something completely ordinary we didn’t mean anything shitty by and someone, somewhere will pounce and declare us racist or sexist or whatever.

And, yeah, that could happen. It does happen. Not very often, but it does.

But then, usually, a decent person says, “Oh my god, I had no idea that doing x was a problem for y reason. Wow. I am sorry.” And then they don’t do it any more.

Or they get weirdly defensive and insist that they didn’t mean anything by it and everybody gets angry and there’s a huge fight, but eventually, once tempers have cooled, they see people’s point.

But the thing is, much like the dude who just doesn’t get that you need to make sure your partner is willing, but who can eventually hear it and get it and grow up and move on, this is a very small minority.

The asshole abusers need us to believe that those groups of awkward mistake-makers are largely the norm and that the asshole abusers are the slim minority in order for the asshole abusers to move around freely being abusive assholes. They shape our beliefs in order to provide themselves cover so that they can have access to victims.

And this is the same, no matter what your political persuasion.

This thing I want to say is a tricky point to make because I believe that play hostility between friends is fine. I engage in it, people I love do it. So, if you have friends you know very, very well, you might be able to joke about a public figure they like being a monkey (either because of stupidity or race or whatever) and they might joke with you in return. I might have a friend or two who could call me “bitch” and still be my friend afterward, but that number is vanishingly small.

Calling President Bush a monkey is mean. Calling Michelle Obama a monkey is mean. Before it is anything else, it is mean. It’s a hostile act. There may be some people with whom you can joke with hostility.

But that number is very, very small.

Most people recognize hostility for what it is. Regardless of what is in your heart.

And that Baker would send this email to this batch of friends, at the very least, indicated that he seriously misjudged with whom he could be hostile in a joking manner.

I called up my dad the other day and read the joke to him to see if maybe it wasn’t some old racist thing that had just had two new folks swapped in to fit current events. And after, I read it to him, he was mad, “Why would you make me listen to that racist crap?” he asked.

And that’s the other piece about the Baker story. If these are his friends, why would he make them read that racist crap?

Some folks have speculated that it’s because he thought they would agree with it. But I think it’s clear from what even Baker said that he expected that he was sending this email to folks some of whom feel positively towards Ms. Obama. He expected they’d be a little put out because he was being hostile towards them (but in a joking manner), but it seems that, in the end, he thought they’d just take it.

That’s a fucked up dynamic.

Ha, you know, it reminds me of Super Troopers, where everyone’s pulling pranks but Farva can’t figure out where the line between funny and scary is. In the end, he’s a bad guy. Even if you can understand how he got there.

There’s a Dog Treat on My Dining Room Floor

People, I repeat: there’s a dog treat on my dining room floor.

Something was very wrong with Mrs. Wigglebottom yesterday. Her gut was making all kinds of terrible noises and she was very, very tentative on the stairs during the millions of times we took her out to see if she was going to, oh, you know, poop all over.

But bless her heart, nothing came of it. Even when I went to bed, she went to her cushion there in the corner and soon was snoring and I could hear the gurgling of her stomach over her snoring and over my CPAP machine.

But, obviously, before we went to bed, I gave her a treat, which she failed to even attempt to catch (and it struck her right in the forehead, at which point she gave me this befuddled look like “I feel like shit and now you’re throwing things at my head?”) but she took it and wandered off.

And apparently hid it where she thought I wouldn’t notice that she hadn’t eaten it.

And my mom just called to tell me that my dad’s surgery went fine and that he’s sleeping soundly, snoring away, and that they’re just waiting now for the anesthetic to wear off, but that all his vitals are fine.

People, my dad told me he was having a minor eye procedure today, just a little outpatient thing, no need for either of us to come up and be there for it. Would I expect him to come down if I was having a wart removed?

Well, hell yes, he would come down here, even if I tried to stop him, if my wart removal were serious enough to call for enough anesthetic that they monitored your vitals and waited for you to wake up.

I feel a little like the magnitude of this nonsense was severely downplayed.

So, I’m glad he seems to be doing fine, but hot damn. I am pissed at them.

I really, really hate and find more and more offensive this whole “Oh, don’t tell Betsy, she’ll just worry” crap. Damn straight I’ll worry, but I find that very preferable to “Find out the true magnitude of shit after the fact.” I mean, when they don’t tell me stuff, it makes me feel like I have to be there for every damn thing, because I have now way of judging which is important and which is not without seeing it for myself.

And fuck them. They’re my parents. I have a right to worry about them when scary things are happening, to keep them in my thoughts, even if I can’t be there, and it’s bullshit to keep me from being able to do that. It’s not better for me. It fucking sucks.


Kids, don’t pull this shit on your kids when you grow up.

Edited to add: This morning, when she got up, she checked to see if it was still there and, when it was, waited until I was in the kitchen, and quickly ate it before we went outside. And then, when she came in, she was all “Ooo, don’t I get a treat for going out and pooping and being such a good girl?” As if I didn’t know she had just had a treat! Still, it was cute, so I gave her another one.

Haslam Tells It Like It Is

There’s this idea that you can’t win in politics if you tell the truth when the truth sucks. This is probably true, but it makes things difficult when the sucking truth is one we all need to face.

So, I was heartened to read over at Kleinheider‘s that Haslam was willing to say this out loud.

Unemployment in the state is about 10.7 percent. Under-employment is probably about the same. The state is lagging in K-12 education, and 28,000 kids a year drop out of school. If a student drops out, Haslam explained, there is a 60 percent chance the student will end up incarcerated, a 66 percent chance the student will be on TennCare and likely to make very little in wages in life.

Of course, he and the healthcare professionals he was talking to then sat around and pissed and moaned about how poor people were ruining healthcare for everyone, so, you know, it’s one step forward, one step back.

I would just like to point out that there is going to be fraud in any system. The point is to minimize it as much as possible without fucking something else up.

Let me put it this way. If I pay an extra $10 a year because there are people who have TennCare who go to the emergency room for every little thing, yeah, that’s aggravating. But you know what’s more aggravating? When they get kicked off TennCare, and now have to go to the emergency room for every little thing, because that’s their only means of getting healthcare, and my doctor’s bills go up $100 a year to cover their inability to pay.

Does it somehow suck less to pay more for these folks to get some healthcare because at least it’s not my tax money? Doesn’t really seem like it to me.