The Frogs Have Come Out To Play

pepe-the-frog-nazi

There is quite clearly a link between the election and a sudden rise in cyber-harassment, which I have personally experienced. In the four days after the election I received more hate-tweets and garbage posts on my Twitter feed that I have in the previous 7 years combined.

My FaceBook wall has been rummaged through by Trolls, Frogs and hateful, spittle-flecked shrieking strangers who tell me to grow up, get over it and to leave the country.

‘Frogs’ is my label for the hate-filled Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) mostly found on 4Chan who are proudly racist, bigoted, homophobes that think women who have been raped have been done a favor. They are open Nazi supporters who use Pepe the Frog as their mascot: An image designated by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate symbol alongside swastikas and burning crosses.

In short: The people who embrace this image are Trump’s red meat base.

Frog is my ‘Fetch’, and I’m trying to make it happen.

It is not a pejorative – because it’s based on something people have control over: Their embrace of hatred, and the willingness to disenfranchise marginalized minorities and women.

pepe-the-frog-kkk-nazi

A no-longer-silent dog whistle was blown when Trump was elected, and now the Frogs think the internet belongs to them.

I had one rude crazy woman go to my FB page and assume my post about a rude crazy woman was about her. She became incensed – took a screen shot. Demanded… I’m not sure what. But, she seemed to think that screen shot was something valuable. It seemed an oddly appropriate metaphor to what has been happening on Social Media these last few days.

I’ve been physically threatened posting in a general forum, being told my mouth was writing checks my ass couldn’t cash – when I was reciting facts. (not ‘truths’)

I’d call them Poor Winners – but that  would imply that there isn’t REAL violence going on right now across the country.

pepe-the-frog-confederate-flag

Regarding my Twitter account, some quick research shows that this is a targeted attack to specific high traffic websites. Yesterday I tweeted 10 times (before the shitstorm – and NO I’m not proud I fed the trolls), yet I received some 50-odd tweets back regarding an original post on that had only received 60 views  in 12 hours. (96 views 24 hours later) That site? The New York Times. The Tweet for which I received the second biggest hate-spew was to USA Today, whence I was told to delete my account, take benzodiazepine, fuck myself and leave the country.

Yesterday’s provocative tweet?  “Yay for Gerrymandering and Voter suppression”, in response to an article about our deeply divided nation that is half conservative and half liberal, but nearly all levels of government are run by the GOP.

That’s pretty normal for me – I’ve been tweeting like this for years with a collective yawn by the internet. Yet, amazingly I’m getting all kinds of negative attention, and the only thing that has changed is the President-elect.

pepe-the-frog-massa

This morning I got up to find a ‘friend’ of a childhood friend has tracked shit on my wall because he didn’t agree with an opinion that I left on my friend’s page – FWIW she and I are horrified at the results. He felt the need to mock and belittle a total stranger. There was no attempt at dialogue or even arrogant fact reciting. It was just pure vitriol: Being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. I’ve had it happen with at least 5 total strangers in 4 days.  Not to mention said crazy woman above.

I had a peer seek out my page to start an argument after I walked away from her utter lack of compassion regarding my taking Trump at his word when he promises to end the ACA, and with it my pre-existing condition exclusion. After telling her in great detail how this would mean bankruptcy, divorce (sign away assets to get Medicaid) or become a medical refugee, her sentiments (if not exact words, because I refuse to bugger myself by going back to that awful conversation to quote her exactly): Your insurance is not my concern.

I refused to engage further with someone who could reduce that situation to: Not My Problem.

I decided to unfollow her for a few weeks until things calmed down – that way she wouldn’t see my posts, I wouldn’t see hers, and we could go back to being civil. Instead, she decided to take the fight to me by seeking out my page to read what I was writing so that she could be offended.

As is habit with these folks, when faced with something they don’t like they change the subject at the top of their lungs. I don’t play the Red Herring game, though.

Her Waterloo was a post where I said that Trump voters fucking OWN the KKK Victory Parade celebrating Trump’s victory. Without irony – this woman who supports a candidate that blames all Muslims for the actions of a few – took umbrage at holding people accountable for voting for a man who campaigned on racism, bigotry, homophobia and misogyny.

She refused to defend any of the dozen or so direct Trump quotes that show what a horrible shit-bag he is – including the one where he pretends he doesn’t know what the KKK is. She sidled right up to an Ad Hominem attack, and decided calling the *conversation* stupid was more diplomatic than outright calling *me* stupid. She then did the most adult thing she could think of to do – she unfriended me.

That should be a comfortable meeting the next time we show up for the advocacy group we both volunteer for and donate to. With her being in a position on the board I don’t worry at all that she’ll be punitive. Nope. I don’t worry that the woman who couldn’t let a disagreement go and needed to turn it into a full-fledged drama complete with unfriending will hold a grudge.

pepe-the-frog-nazi-shirt

I don’t ever remember the trolling ever being this bad. These hate-filled pus bags have been emboldened and their racist, bigoted, anti-Gay MRA agenda has been validated. They emulate the bully they voted in.

Not everyone who voted for Trump is a Neo-Nazi -But, they ARE totally okay with belonging to a group that not only tolerates, but encourages them.

The hate speech will continue because Trump refuses to say during his 3 am Rage-Tweet sessions: “I don’t want the support of the KKK and renounce racism and bigotry.”

He’d still have 72 characters left to tell us how big his hands are or “Grab Them By The Pussy!!”

But, he won’t – and that’s why the Frogs have come out to play.

It’s going to be a long 4 years.

“I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. … I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.” Trump on the Klan 2/28/16

pepe-the-trump

Grab Them By The Pussy!!!

orville-redenbacher

In February of 1994 I spent an evening with Orville Redenbacher’s hand welded to my ass against my will.

I was a talk show host at KHOW in Denver. There was a cross-promotion at the station with Redenbacher and it involved an in-studio interview, and both of us doing personal appearances at the Wyncoop Brewery (Governor Hickenlooper’s place).

When I met Orville he was in a gray suit with a white shirt and the iconic bow tie. I went to shake his hand – he was in his 80s – but he grasped my hand and pulled me forward in the tiny studio, looking for a hug. Surprised, I complied, and found the old coot’s hands all over my ass, and he tried to kiss me. I fended him off, and we did the interview. He flirted with me during the commercials.

Before he left he gave me his phone number and told me he’d love to have me come visit him in San Diego where he lived. He gave me a grin and pinched my ass. I was flabbergasted. Folks at the station ribbed me for the handsy old perv’s behavior – made me feel bad that Redenbacher has harassed me.

That evening at the event I was prepared, but since it was a joint appearance I couldn’t separate myself from him. When I showed up he did another grope-hug, trying to kiss me on the mouth, and put his hand on my ass. There it stayed, rubbing circles and occasionally squeezing my toned 30 year old ass. I really didn’t know what to do. He was a powerful, famous man who was an important client to the station. So I let him rub, pinch, pat and squeeze my ass the whole time.

When the appearance was over and he’d made me promise to call him in San Diego I felt like I needed a Silkwood shower. I disentangled myself from his 17 arms and gaping maw and went to gather my coat and briefcase.

Suddenly Orville’s grandson, who had been traveling with him, was looming over me. “Don’t even THINK of calling Grandpa.”

“What?”

“I saw you all over him and saw him give you his number. We screen his calls. We keep him away from gold diggers,” he snarled. He said again for emphasis, “Don’t even THINK of calling grandpa.”

I was stunned. The old octopus had been all over me for hours, and yet his grandson saw ME as the aggressive party. The obnoxious shit stood there and tried to gaslight me through physical intimidation.

I never called good old Orville. But you can bet your sweet ass I saved his phone number. I have it in a book that served as my phone book from my teens to my 30s. I kept it to remind myself that I hadn’t dreamed the whole disgusting episode.

Remember – this is REAL. It is happening to your sister, your mother, your wife and your friends. It’s time to change the paradigm.

#SexualAssaultIsReal #NotOkay

Patient Zero

Germ

When did people stop covering their mouths when they cough? When did they stop teaching their children to cover their mouths?

And most important – is there a polite way of asking someone to stop spreading their germs?

I was in the doctor’s office last week and watched a little girl of perhaps 4 years-old, with her mother and grandmother, tear about the waiting room with nary a word from them.

She climbed around the room, walking on chairs with her dirty snow boots. That not being enough, she stood with her filthy boots on the play table for little children, stamping her feet all over it.

The crescendo came when she started coughing like a TB patient, just hacking away, no hand over mouth, her maw wide open, sharing all her germs with everyone in the room.

What was I supposed to do then? I let it go because I didn’t know what to do. I finally figured it out when she came over to me with a, “Who are y– hack! Hack! Hack!!” right in my face.

“Excuse me,” I said, covering my mouth hoping to stop the invisible germs. “Excuse me… Your daughter is sick and I don’t want what she has. Can you please call her back?” I asked.

You’d have thought I kicked the little germ-filled urchin. The furious gaze I got from her mother was almost enough to stop me in my tracks. Of course the mother did nothing to stop her daughter, but she did give me the evil eye. The little girl coughed on me again.

“I’m serious. I don’t want to get sick. Please call her back,” I said to the seething mother. To the child I said, “Honey, I don’t want to play. Please go back to your Mommy.”

The little germ bomb raced back over to her mother, not perturbed in the least.

“Stay away from that mean old lady,” the idiot mother said to her daughter, “she’s not nice.”

Yes, that’s right. Because if I don’t want to get sick that makes me not nice.

Your failure to follow simple hygiene and manners is a reflection on me.

That little girl is hardly the only one I see spreading their germs with the whole wide world.

In the supermarket the other day I saw a man sneeze into his hand, and then put that same hand back onto the shopping cart he was pushing. I guess that was better than the woman in the deli who didn’t bother with her hand at all. (For the record, unless you have a tissue, the elbow is where you sneeze while in public)

On the same trip to the store I had a woman doing the smokers hack on my back the whole time I was in line to check out, never once covering her mouth.

What do you say to people? “Thanks for the unsolicited germs, I appreciate it,” hardly seem like that’d be received well. “Ewww… Kindly cover your mouth,” wouldn’t go over much better. Mostly it’s because people who see no reason to be minimally polite don’t appreciate it when you tell them to stop being selfish and filthy.

They’re the same people who see no problem coming in to work when they’re sick. “I don’t want to waste a sick day. I can get through it,” is the most common thing you hear.

What the hell? That’s what they give you sick days for: When you’re sick you stay home so you don’t infect the whole office. They’re not to save up and use as hooky days.

It is the height of selfishness to come into work sick. I’ll bet you half the people reading this have done so. “I’m not so bad,” comes the rationalization. “I’ll just keep to myself,” goes the logic.

That, of course, ignores the whole notion of how germs operate. It’s not just a matter of staying in your cubicle, because germs don’t respect cube farms and their imaginary walls. It ignores how you put your hand on the door knob to get in the building, it ignores everything you touch in the break room, when you used the copier and when you just coughed into the air around all your poor unsuspecting co-workers.

I had a boss who used to come in sick, pretending the whole world would grind to a halt if she wasn’t there to be condescending and bullying. I remember her having the flu and sitting in her office with the door open. Her wracking cough could be heard all the way across a busy news room. It was so loud and deep in her chest that sitting a good 40 feet from her made me uncomfortable. She got at least half a dozen people sick in the first week, and then complained when she was short on reporters.

The horrible example that my former boss set rubbed off on her employees, who came into work while sick and infected the healthy. As a result the whole newsroom ended up getting the flu, one by one. The situation got so bad that the General Manager ended up calling an industrial cleaning company to disinfect every surface in the news room and the coffee room, and leave us with a 5 gallon bucket of industrial grade sanitary wipes to continue disinfecting surfaces over the next several weeks.

This was all brought on by a person who ostensibly had the sense enough to be out in a position of authority. What chance does a little kid have if their parent won’t teach proper manners and hygiene in public?

So, it brings me back to my predicament and original question: Is there a polite way of asking someone to stop spreading their germs and cover their mouth? Because every time I ask I get treated like I have a stick up my ass.

It’s the same dynamic for whenever you want to put a stop to someone’s bad behavior that affects you personally. The people who are acting rudely (or against the Social Contract) don’t want to be told that their selfish behavior is impacting someone negatively because then they have to examine their actions. Examining their actions might lead to the vague notion that they could act like a better person and that’s way out of most people’s comfort zone.

If anyone out there has a better idea I encourage you to share with the class. Otherwise I’ll have to stick with the anemic, “Please don’t cough on me,” and suffer through Patient Zero being offended at my audacity.

In the meantime – stop going to work sick and infecting the healthy. And you – over there – cover your mouth. Please.

This, That and Renewing Social Contracts

New Years Eve 2015

One thing about writing is that it forces you to look at things more deeply. What I’ve discovered over the last month is that it’s very easy to find negative things that people are willing to share. That limitless ability for the negative is, in fact, very limiting for a writer. Negativity begets negativity and it leaves little room for solutions.

It’s so easy to find unbelievably stupid things on Facebook or Twitter, and I don’t want to have to go looking for them anymore.

To put it another way: I’d rather stub my toe in surprise at the idiocy of some people’s vitriol rather than grab a hammer and smash my toes with it by looking for ugly things on purpose.

So, in the spirit of the New Year and new beginnings I’m tweaking the format and presentation of my blog.

I’m no longer limiting myself to the things I’m too polite to put on your wall. I’ll still do that, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a whole big wide world out there to be dissected, and I mean to get to it.

With a new direction comes a new name: This About That.

I appreciate anyone who’s made it this far, and hope you’ll indulge me as I tinker with the format, and try to get it to where I want this blog to be.

Enough, then, on the house keeping.

Let’s get on with this, shall we?

*

IMG_20141230_141142291[1]

New Years is always a time to take stock about things (no this isn’t going to be a listicle). I want to talk about Social Contracts and how important they are to civilized life.

What is a Social Contract? The short version is that it’s the moral and political obligations we, as citizens, have with each other and the state to form the society in which we live. It’s basically what makes us behave and what makes a society liveable. Some are laws, others are rules and manners.

I think the whole rules and manners portion of the Social Contract has been sorely tested in the last decade. Most people have become self-centered and egotistical in a way we couldn’t have imagined at the turn of the century. Those unpleasant traits make for unpleasant fellow citizens.

The problem is they don’t see themselves as fellow citizens because the whole world revolves around them. When you think it’s all about you, you excuse any kind of selfish behavior. Because that’s what bad behavior is – pure selfishness.

There are many different ways you can be selfish and break the Social Contract, and one of the biggest ways is being a bad neighbor. Screwing with the place where people live and are trying to enjoy their days off is inviting trouble.

If you live in a condo or an apartment then a bad neighbor is the one who blares their music or TV. They’re the ones who argue and slam doors. It sounds like they’re practicing Riverdance in clogs upstairs. They’re selfish and bludgeon you with the sounds of their life, and think nothing of it.

The suburbs have their issues, too. Take my neighbor, for instance. She did not mow her back yard all summer, and let the front yard go to weeds thigh high. We put up with it until August, when we finally called the city. She ignored the first notice completely. She got around to hitting some stuff in the front with a weed whacker after the second notice, but never raked it up. She never did another bit of yard work this year. It will come as no surprise that she has not shoveled her walk once this winter, leaving the sidewalk covered in ice that people have to walk over to get to the mailboxes.

What motivates her to be such a bad neighbor? She doesn’t work outside the home, so it’s not an issue of never being there to do it. So what’s the problem with just doing the bare minimum to keep it legal? She knows better, and bought a house in a nice middle class neighborhood and then came in and shitted up the place. She liked the way the neighborhood looked, but was just too selfish to keep her house up like the rest of us, and it affects our property values. She is not keeping up the Social Contract morally or legally.

I’ll tell you who else breaks the Social Contract in my neighborhood: The neighbor 2 blocks away who leaves their dog out all day long to bark and bark and bark. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live next door to that poor, tortured beast. Who does that to an animal they love? Who does that to their neighbors? A selfish person who doesn’t give 2 craps about the Social Contract, that’s who.

One of my pet peeves for Social Contracts is driving while texting or talking on your phone without a hands free device. How could you be so selfish? Even where it’s legal you should not be doing it because it’s dangerous. It is morally wrong to put the life of everyone around you at risk while you stare at a 4 inch screen or hold the phone to your ear unable to respond properly to an emergency situation. Yet, I know at least one person who reads this will do this very thing. Why? No respect for their fellow citizens or the Social Contract. The notion that you’re above it all.

You see it everywhere you look: People bring their dogs into the supermarket or pharmacy. I once saw a woman at Walgreens put her dog on the counter and it immediately sat down. She had no idea why I might be disgusted. She was not only clueless, she was absolutely offended at me and told me to mind my own business. As if it wasn’t my business that her dog’s ass was sitting where I was supposed to put my items to be rung up. Staggering selfishness.

If you’ve traveled by airplane anytime since 2001 you will have noticed how aggressively rude and the-world-revolves-around-me-selfish travelers have gotten. There’s a marvelous Instagram account devoted to pictures of passengers who simply can’t observe a modicum of decorum. It’s called Passenger Shaming. Check it out. It’s wonderfully awful, and shows people at their selfish worst.

Another way people behave selfishly is by angrily wearing their politics on their sleeve, and expecting yes-men agreement from all who read it. It seems the more bitterly divided we’ve become as a society the more the Social Contract becomes strained when it comes to partisanship and being polite. Personally, I’m sick of the unvarnished hatred that’s become the norm in this country. People think nothing of putting hurtful, hateful posts about opposing political views on their Facebook wall, knowing full well that many people who read it will be offended. They’re not doing it to change minds and hearts, they’re doing it to be hurtful. They’re violating the manners clause of the Social Contract, by selfishly expecting people to read their offensive rantings and put up with it silently.

The point is too many people are self-absorbed and have adopted the notion that the rules don’t apply to them. The question I have is this: Are you one of them? Are there small ways that you fudge the contract? Do you ignore inconvenient rules? If you do, take a minute reflect on what it means to society when you put yourself first at the expense of others. It encourages bad behavior in everyone.

If you do uphold the Social Contract I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So, at this time of the year – the time of resolutions and fresh beginnings – lets take the opportunity to renew our commitment to being a better member of society. Be the good example others need and know that you’re doing the right thing. Do it for yourself and because it’s the right thing to do. Do it because it makes the world a better place.

Have a great 2015.