Lone White Gunman

This afternoon I heard one of my husband’s colleagues talking with a co-worker about different places they had worked. He remarked jovially that he taught for 39 years at Platte Valley High School, in Bailey, Colorado.

A female customer who was not part of the conversation said eagerly, “I go to church with Fred Wegener – were you there then?”

His face became serious and he said soberly, “I certainly was.”

“Did you see the shooting?” she asked breathlessly.

“I was in the classroom across from it,” he said quietly.

“You were?!” she thrilled, ignoring his distress, “What happened?”

He paused, having difficulty speaking, “I was the last person they took out of the building after I identified the bodies.”

At this point I disconnected from the woman’s grisly voyeurism and began to vainly wrack my brain, trying to remember the details of the Platte Valley High School shooting. Plate Valley. Platte Valley. Platte Valley…

But, all I could recall were Eric Harris, Dylan Kleebold and Columbine – James Holmes and The Aurora Theater Shooting – and The Youth With A Mission massacre just 3 blocks from my home.

Platte Valley… I simply couldn’t muster the details in my head, and waited hours before looking them up, just to see if they would finally come to me.

On Sept 27, 2006 the proverbial ‘Lone White Gunman’ Duane Roger Morrison entered Platte Valley High School and took 7 blond female students hostage in one classroom on the second floor, ordering the teacher and the rest of the students to leave. Morrison – who had no connection to anyone in the school – sexually assaulted the girls for several hours. As the random deadline Morrison set for the police approached Sheriff Fred Wegener made the decision to storm the classroom to save the hostages. Morrison killed a fleeing 16-year-old Emily Keyes before turning the gun on himself after being shot several times by the police.

I’m not sure which bothered me more: That I had somehow sublimated the shooting among of list of a dozen gruesomely notable killings in Colorado, or that the customer felt entitled to her ghoulish curiosity.

How crazy sick is our society that it’s possible to forget a madman raping girls at gunpoint and dying in a hail of gunfire because there are just SO MANY school shootings to keep track of?

It’s a society just crazy sick enough to encourage strangers to believe it is their god-given right to hungrily demand gruesome details from grieving victims moments after meeting them.

The United States is crazy sick with its multifaceted gun fetish, and it’s getting worse. We’re like the heroin addict who twitchily assures you they’re fine as they eye your silverware.

Perhaps we aren’t thinking and praying enough.

Yeah. That’s GOT to be it – more Thoughts and Prayers

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Forever and Ever, Amen

“You have to ask yourself,” the hospital priest said to me, “what you did to bring this upon yourself.”

His words shamed me, and immediately I felt the crushing weight of responsibility on my chest. The color rose in my cheeks, and I was tearing up.

“But, they arrested him…” I began, lamely trying to defend myself from a second attack I was not prepared for, one I had not expected in the least.

“God will deal with him as he sees fit. Just as God knows what you did to bring this on yourself, and only He can judge your actions. If you do not forgive him God will hold it against you on Judgement Day. What you hold on Earth will be held against you in Heaven.”

I could not believe what I was hearing, propped up in a hospital bed at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, California, in May of 1980, just days after an emergency operation to remove my appendix, which burst as the surgeon removed it.

The night before an orderly had raped me, incorrectly assuming I was sedated. When he realized I wasn’t tranquilized he panicked, and shoved my head face-down into a pillow. When I stopped struggling he left the room, assuming the worst, and continued his duties.

I did nothing – paralyzed in fear, playing dead. I laid in that bed at the age of 16, certain he would come back and finish the job.

Finally, I could hear heels clacking on the tile floor, and knew it wasn’t him. It was the mother of my roommate – another 16-year-old girl, but one who had gotten her sleeping shot – who came back from dinner to check on her zonked-out daughter one final time for the night.

I lifted my face out of the pillow, gasping in cool delicious air, daring to hope.

“Hello?”  I called out to the woman on the other side of the divider, “I… I think I was molested by the orderly…”

“My god…” the woman gasped as she came over, “Then Cheryl was telling the truth about him last night?”

 

***

 

St Joes

Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Burbank, CA

 

Can we please stop pretending that the Catholic Church hasn’t known about the multitude of sexual predators in their midst going back to forever? Can we stop acting surprised?

Pope Francis’ statement about the *latest* revelation that the Catholic Church is rife with sexual predators who prey on and abuse minors is standard Catholic bullshit:

“I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics”.

Blah, blah, blah.

You know what will Change? Dick all.

Absolutely nothing will happen, except a few old transphobic men wearing dresses will pretend to be shocked and outraged – and I guaran-fucking-tee you that as I put these words to long overdue paper that someone, somewhere within the church is at this very moment abusing a child – and NOTHING will be done.

Forever and Ever, Amen.

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up in the Catholic Church, and our parish was Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Sun Valley, California, in the eastern San Fernando Valley. My brothers attended school there until the nuns who were teaching primary school voted to stop wearing a full habit, and were disappeared by the church one weekend.

The Church had no concerns that the full habit the nuns were forced to wear in non-airconditioned classrooms in Southern California were causing them to pass out from heat exhaustion. It did not matter that the priests could dress in clothes appropriate to the climate or the activity. The Church demanded these women continue to wear voluminous clothing indistinguishable from the chadors that ‘Good Christians’ despised Muslim women wearing. They came to school one week wearing modest dresses, and faced the fury of parishioners rabid at the notion their children had been exposed to the arms and calves of a woman who has sworn herself to celibacy.

People openly made jokes about rapist priests and not being alone with Father Pick, a man who was first accused of raping a child in 1947, and whose last assignment was Holy Rosary when he ‘retired’ in 1969. Father Pick left in ignominy, a sloppy drunk who groped the alter boys, including one of my brothers.

 

Father Pick

 

The entire parish tut-tutted about Father Pick before he was forced to leave, but those things were just to be accepted. Use the buddy system around Father Grab-Ass.

But, a nun speaking up for their human rights or refusing to put Church over health? Well, now, THAT was something people could whip themselves into frenzies of outrage about.

How DARE these women married to Jesus give a thought to their own health or comfort!!

The congregation of hypocrites came to a critical mass on the weekend of the annual school fund-raiser Fiesta when one of the nuns wearing a dress that brushed her knees, and short-short sleeves on a hot June Saturday night, was caught swaying to the music, and even moved her arms a bit.

The Scandal!!

After mass the next morning there were knots of indignant parishioners clucking their tongues, and demanding *something* be done about these shameless hussies.

By Monday morning they were gone. Disappeared in the middle of the night. Replaced by various parents who did their best to hold the classroom down until someone acceptable – someone who wouldn’t dance or show their arms – could be secured. Their replacements were humorless nuns with varying grasps of the English language. The important thing was they would keep wearing medieval garb and take orders unquestionably from men they knew to be drunkards and pedophiles.

My brothers were moved to public school shortly after that, and the school never recovered its reputation or the quality of teachers they had before reinforcing the Catholic truth that nuns are chattel.

That episode is what saved me from having to be brainwashed in a school setting by a misogynistic cult that approves of child predation.

Make no mistake, the ‘modern’ Church is no different.

Pope Frankie is no friend of the children – not by a long shot. Never forget he allowed Cardinal Bernard Law to die in Rome, unscathed by the sex abuse scandal over which he presided, and unable to be extradited to face the consequences of his actions.

I mean – the whole reason Pope Benedict stepped down (itself an unprecedented scandal) and Frankie became Pope was because Ol’ Benny just simply didn’t want to deal with the Boston scandal. Which is different from the Los Angeles scandal, which is different from the Philippine Scandal, and the Irish Scandal and the Canadian scandal…

Forever and Ever, Amen.

 

***

 

I don’t know why this iteration of the Catholic Church pretending to be shocked about the child rape they encourage is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. But, it is, and I’m speaking out now, and I’m speaking out Loud.

I realized that my silence about what happened to me is a sort of complicity.

I was threatened into silence by being told I would go to hell if I didn’t keep my mouth shut about what I brought upon myself.

They did SUCH a good job at shaming me into silence that it was only last night that I told my 30-year-old son what had happened to me.

30 years and he never knew that before I had a driver’s license a man raped and tried to kill me – in a hospital bed.

How does that happen?

 

****

 

Father Rick

 

Father Rick was a sensation at Holy Rosary. He arrived in 1973, a young man of 28, full of ideas to engage the young people in the parish. He started a Youth Group, and a Folk Mass on Sunday afternoons that quickly became more popular than Father O’Donohue’s still-drunk-from-the-night-before rambling sermons during morning mass.

Father Rick was dynamic, and engaging. He knew how to work a crowd. One blistering summer afternoon shortly after he arrived, as the congregation was turning into puddles, he got up for the sermon. Surveying the crowd he said, “It’s too hot for you to listen to me pontificate. The moral of my sermon is ‘A House Divided Against Itself Will Not Stand’. Let Us Pray.” With that, we moved on to Communion, and finished mass 20 minutes early.

Another time he regaled the parishioners with a story from his college days. About the time before he’d dedicated his life in full to God and the Church. He was at a county fair with a few friends and he saw a lithe, young, blond woman, and pursued her down the Midway. When he finally got close enough to talk to her she turned around, only for him to find it was a young, bearded man with very long hair. Moral of the story: Things aren’t always as they seem.

Father Rick visited me in St Joe’s when I had my tonsils out, and brought a half gallon of Rocky Road ice cream (my favorite) for my recovery at home. He loaned me The Chronicles of Narnia, and let me hang all over him.

He took my brothers to the batting cage, and I remember the afternoon my mother and I came home from an interview for a commercial to find all of my brothers gone with Father Rick to the driving range. His black cassock hung up in the doorway between the living room and the hall. Something about seeing his clothes in my home set off alarm bells in 10-year-old Me. But, my mother laughed heartily as she pinned a note to the garment that said, “Who left this lovely black dress for me?” When we got home from the store he had written an answer on the note, which he’d left on the kitchen counter: “It goes well with pearls.”

Father Rick was disappeared like the nuns were. One Sunday he was just gone, and a strange priest with a strained smile was there to conduct the service.

The Youth Group swore it was jealousy that caused Father O’Donohue to banish him from the parish. Other people claimed he’d had an affair with a married female congregant. What ever the case, my appeals to the priests to tell me where he’d been sent were fruitless. I needed to return The Chronicles of Narnia – they didn’t belong to me.

One day I called the Rectory and asked the woman who answered the phone if she knew where Father Rick was. I was still searching for my hero.

She put the phone down, and I could hear a conversation between the lay-woman who had answered and a male voice. She asked if he knew where Father Rick had been sent, and he told her Gardena, but that she was not to pass that information along to any of the congregants. She gave me the brush-off, but I had the information I needed.

I used the giant Los Angeles phone book, and searched for Catholic churches in Gardena. I could scarcely believe my luck when I called the Rectory at St Anthony’s, asked for Father Rick, and was told to hold on while he was told he had a call.

“Hello?”

“Father Rick?” I asked breathlessly. “It’s ME. Claudia.”

“Who?”

“Claudia Lamb, from Holy Rosary,” I gushed. “You loaned me The Chronicles of Narnia and I need to return them! You left without saying goodbye!”

As I caught my breath to continue he hung up on me.

I heard the Bakelite receiver clatter in the cradle for a moment before the line went dead. There was no question in my young mind that he’d intentionally stuffed the phone in my ear – I could hear it. I was crestfallen that my hero had deemed me unworthy and had banished me from his world.

 

Father Rick 2

 

 

In writing this piece I accessed a database of priests in Los Angeles accused of sexual abuse between 1930 and 2003. I was curious what I would find about the church in which I was raised.

Besides Holy Rosary hosting a rapist priest in the late 1950s, and letting Father Grab Ass Pick run the place for 6 years, I found that Father Rick was a horrible, terrible predator whose acts were SO egregious the Catholic church defrocked him after he spent 8 years in prison for only ONE of his crimes. Do you know how AWFUL you have to be to get defrocked from the Catholic Church?

He was defrocked, but not before the Church did their damnedest to protect that monster in human form.

Father Rick Henry lasted 13 months at his first assignment, and 15 months at his next, which was Holy Rosary. The Catholic church simply bounced him to a new parish when he was caught raping little boys. He worked in 6 parishes in his first 14 years as a priest, and by 1980 he had a little boy living in his home on the weekends, with the okay of the boy’s parents.

He’d been grooming my brothers when he was shipped of to Gardena to attack a fresh crop of unsuspecting boys.

Henry went to prison for 8 years in 1993, after the church shielded him multiple times at ‘treatment’ centers and retreats. It’s a pity those treatment centers aren’t available for the people whose lives he ruined.

Even though Rick Henry was defrocked and the Mother Church turned her back on him, he only went to prison for ONE crime. All of the people whose lives were shattered and he faced just the one charge. It took 25 years and a prison term for the Catholic Church to FINALLY say Henry was not fit to minister to the public. Even then, when they forced him into the laity, the Archbishop offered prayers of support to the erstwhile Father Rick.

 

***

St. Joseph Hospital

 

You can imagine my complete lack of surprise when I found out that the predecessor to the priest at St Joe’s who sat and coolly told me I’d go to hell if I didn’t forgive the man who raped and tried to kill me, had himself been a sexual predator.

Of course he was.

Of course he was.

I wonder how many other people were raped in Saint Joseph’s in Burbank? I wonder how many of my friends in the neighboring parish of Saint Genevieve were molested by the multiple priests and Monseigneurs (7, I think) who were sued and arrested for molesting boys there in the 1970s and 80s?

I wonder how many people will read this and say, “That’s terrible, but not MY priest.”

Here’s the thing: Yes, your priest.

They’re ALL in on it – all of them.

The priests all know who the abusers are, and they choose to stay silent, close ranks and deal with it ‘in house’. They’ve been doing it for centuries.

These reports about sexual abuse that pop up every few years that involve thousands of children and hundreds of priests? They’re not scandals.

Let me repeat: They are NOT scandals.

The rape and violence, and threats and shaming to keep quiet about them go back centuries in the Church. They are not anomalies or scandals: This behavior is part of the very fabric of the institution. They are what make the Church what it is.

You know what? Shame and threats from a person in a position of power work.

Why else would it take 30 years to tell my son about something terrible that happened to me when I was a child?

Why else would it take nearly 40 years for me to stand up and say, “I was raped in a Catholic hospital when I was 16, and the girl next to me was, too. The man who raped me tried to kill me – and the Catholic church hushed it up. He served less than 7 months in jail only because the prosecutor refused to let it go, and everyone from the priests to my parents told me never to tell a soul – not even to testify against the man who tried to take my life.”

Well, screw that. No more silent complicity.

My name is Claudia Lamb, and I survived the Catholic Church.

Forever and Ever, Amen.

 

Holy Rosary Church

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary church, Sun valley, CA

Endless Thoughts and Prayers

Who can honestly say they’re surprised that America had yet another mass shooting? It’s simply a way of life here to log on to social media and find out about the latest massacre, numbly check to see if it is near anyone we love, and watch the body count and the number of injured rise as the reports come in.

In a twisted way I’m getting used to the massacres from domestic terrorists, but what infuriates me now is how the GOP incessantly invokes Thoughts and Prayers after each fresh dose of hell.

Praying is a highly personal thing between you and your God, and is not a replacement for doing your job – whomever you are. Hiding behind God while you refuse to do your duty is an affront to truly spiritual people who do not use their religion as a prop.

For most people Thoughts and Prayers is shorthand for, “I’m powerless to stop this from happening, and I’m asking the Omnipotent Being of my choice to show mercy on this untenable situation.”

But Congress isn’t powerless to change the situation, and they CAN change the law to require the stricter background checks that 90% of Americans are demanding. They could make gun owners responsible for not securing their guns, or require liability insurance. But, they simply refuse to take any action because there’s too much money gushing in from the NRA.

So, when the GOP offers Thoughts and Prayers it’s just weasel-speak for: “It’s out of my hands because I’m going to keep taking contributions soaked in the life-blood of kindergartners and concert goers – but I will ask my God to keep you in His thoughts.”

For the GOP to proudly proclaim that they’ve given a Thought – they’re THINKING  – about something the rest of us can’t get out of our heads, is *stunningly* self-absorbed.

But, I can’t even wrap my brain around the unmitigated NERVE it takes for the GOP to demand God do the heavy lifting when they refuse to vote on bills that have been introduced. How DARE they pretend God has ANYTHING to do with their addiction to Russian blood money laundered through the NRA!

The GOP’s Thoughts and Prayers about domestic terrorists who mow down classmates, co-workers, and worshipers like an edger takes out errant weeds is an infuriating waste of time. Republicans cynically conflate praying with actually doing something, and pretend they aren’t blocking legislation that would prevent future massacres.

Logical people can see that these massacres aren’t happening in other developed nations on the scale that they are here. Look at Canada, Australia or the UK: We speak the same language, have roughly the same religious demographics, the same number of single parents, and marriage equality. We share television content, video games and music. Yet our murder-by-gun rate is 30 times higher than the UK, and our overall murder rate is higher than all three other nations combined. What’s different? The ease with which one can obtain a gun, and the number of weapons of war available to the general public.

The USA is only 4.28% of the world’s total population, but owns 30% of all the guns that exist. There are 1.20 guns for every man, woman and child in the good old US of A. At the same time we hold nearly 1 in 3 guns on the planet, only 1 in 5 Americans owns one. In fact, gun ownership is concentrated into hands of so few people that only 3% of Americans own half the guns in the country

Let me repeat that: 3% of Americans own half of the guns here.

9.8 million Americans own 130 million firearms; which means .001% of the 7.5 billion people on this planet own 15% of its private firearms.

If that number seems out of whack, take this into consideration: Only 1% of Americans belong to the NRA. The murderous gun policies the GOP backs are nothing more than a ruse to fill their coffers with dark Russian cash, while pretending a dismissible fraction of our population should have their fetish codified into our laws.

 

Homice Rate USA UK AUS CAN

 

So, really, when ANY politician (Democrats, too) takes blood money from the NRA and offers the mealy-mouthed phrase “Thoughts and Prayers” about the inevitable NEXT GODDAM SCHOOL SHOOTING, what they’re really saying is, “There’s nothing I will do. Ever.”

Frankly, I’m done debating the indisputable facts that a vast majority of Americans want tighter background checks, or that we have a glut of guns here, or that school shootings don’t happen in other countries like they do here.

I’m tired of people re-framing the need to reduce our gun violence with the notion we must stop all other forms of murder or violence before we tackle the dumpster fire of our gun laws.

I’m sick of answering disingenuous arguments with, “Yes, certainly, vehicles can be used for mass murder. They are also regulated, and insured, and their primary function is for transportation, not for killing people.”

I have precious little patience for those who unironically screech about their ‘god given right’ to the 2nd Amendment, while never comprehending the word amendment literally means ‘change’, and the word god is not in the Bill of Rights. There’s a reason ‘Well Regulated’ comes before ‘Shall Not Be Infringed’, and it’s not that difficult a concept to grasp that Americans are solidly behind weapon’s of war being ‘Well Regulated’ by a margin of 9-1.

I’m SURE as hell over those people stupid enough to argue for anarchy with, “Why pass laws when criminals won’t follow them?” They seem unable to grok that since the police manage to take so many of the white male mass murderers into custody, it’s super helpful to be able to prosecute them, and make them pay for their crimes.

In short: I’m over the excuses for why our schools are war zones, and we have more than one mass shooting a day in America.

Thoughts and Prayers are all well and good as a means to spiritual fulfillment, but they do nothing to change the very real gun crisis in this country. The only way we can break the endless cycle of Republican Thoughts and Prayers will be when We The People force change through activism and elections, and not by demanding God cure the illness we created ourselves.

Screw Thoughts and Prayers – You need to VOTE, dammit.

The Education of Broseph P Entitlement

I read an abusive Fragile White Male (FWM) the riot act this morning – and it was glorious.

My illness has endowed me with a certain fearlessness in dealing with bullies. I urge *you* not to wait to speak up.

Scene: Interior of a busy Doctor’s Office, where several patients wait in chairs

Two female Medical Assistants are behind the counter: One Assistant is making a first appointment on the telephone with a new patient, while a patient waits in front of her to check out. The other Assistant is patiently explaining to Broseph P Entitlement, a sullen 30-something Fragile White Male in a too-tight V-necked sweater, how it is impossible to know how much his bill will be for today’s visit until after it is submitted to his insurance and they pay their portion. She keeps explaining this simple tenant of health insurance that he keeps pretending he doesn’t understand.

“Yes, but, YOU didn’t tell me that when I made the appointment,” Broseph P reprimands this woman who is old enough to be his mother. Her mouth smiles blandly at him, while her clear eyes do not, and she begins to explain to him again that what he pays is dependent upon what his insurance will pay, and that is spelled out in his insurance contract.

“I don’t *understand* how you can run a business like this!” Broseph P gets loud – and the Medical Assistant on the phone needs to end the call because it’s getting hard to hear, and she checks out the man in front of her.

“Why won’t you do this for me? Why are you being so difficult?” Brospeh P whines.

A middle-aged woman who is there to find out how much her lung function has decreased in the last 6 weeks – let’s call her Claudia – has been watching the performance and is giving heavy side-eye to an oblivious Broseph P. She steps up to the Medical Assistant who was on the phone, and rolls her eyes meaningfully as she checks in, getting in return a look that says ‘Right?’

“You gave me this story when I made the appointment that the tests could run anywhere from $200 to $1,200!! How can you NOT KNOW how much your own tests cost?!!” he continues far too loudly.

“Sir – I know what the tests cost, but I had no idea what tests the doctor would order. It’s not ONE test that is $200 to $1,200 – the different allergy tests he orders all have different costs, as the literature we sent you pointed out.”

Claudia leans in and says soto voce, “How come you can’t tell me how much my whole meal will cost before I’ve even ordered anything?!!” and the Medical Assistant checking her in stifles a chuckle.

“I have a balance from January I need to pay,” Claudia says in a normal voice, as Broseph P pumps up the volume about how UNFAIR it all is. Claudia finds that February’s appointment has processed through as well, and hands over her debit card to take care of the balance for both months.

Broseph P is nearly shouting, enjoying that people are uncomfortable, and starting to stare. “It makes no sense that you have no explanation of what happened today!! This sheet is just numbers and letters. How can you call this an itemized bill?!”

“This is what we submit to the insurance company, the bill you get in the mail will be itemized in a way you can read.”

Claudia is handed back her debit card and given the receipt to sign.

“How do I know you’re not ripping me off?! This is ridiculous – I won’t leave here without an itemized bill, and until I know what I owe.”

“I’ve worked here 16 years, sir, and you’re the first patient I’ve had this issue with,” said the Medical Assistant with the patience of a saint.

At that point Broseph P turbocharged his rage, racing past being loud and obnoxious, and hitting a new land speed record for being flat out abusive. “Yeah? Well, I don’t think you know what you’re doing. YOU aren’t very smart and you don’t know what you’re doing!! How do you stay employed? Why haven’t they fired you?”

Claudia could not bear another moment of hearing Broseph P Entitlement abuse the kind people at one of the only doctor’s offices left in this cold world who still treated her like a human being, and not a Dead Woman Walking. She snapped.

“Oh my god – SHUT. UP!!  Seriously: Give it a rest!!! You’re being an abusive asshole!!”

The collective look of shock on everyone’s face was supremely satisfying to Claudia.

Broseph P made a face like he was smelling spoiled milk, and began to open his mouth, but before he could let more garbage tumble out Claudia continued with righteous indignation, her arm stretched out in the classic ‘Talk to the Hand’ pose, “There is no *reason* for you to speak to her that way. None.

“You’re abusing her because you don’t understand how your own insurance works. It’s not HER fault you didn’t read the fine fucking print!!”

Suddenly employees from all over the office began popping up around the reception area like curious prairie dogs, eager not to miss the excitement. Every waiting patient had looked up from their phone.

Claudia leaned towards Broseph P, never breaking eye contact, “Here’s the thing: I don’t work here, so nobody’s going to fire me when I tell you how much of an entitled little douche-bag asshole you are. You’re bullying this woman because you don’t like how the insurance YOU CHOSE works, and you can’t seem to grasp that the system is based on diagnostic codes they submit for reimbursement, and not the handwritten explanation [Here Claudia briefly broke into flawless Valley Girl-speak]‘Broseph had some itchies we tried to figure out, K? Thx.’

“What is *wrong* with you that you think you’re entitled to treat people that way? I have NEVER spoken to a medical professional the way you’ve just been doing for the last 10 minutes, and my life *revolves* around begging insurance companies and doctors to allow me to have the treatments that keep me alive.

“That bill I just paid is for my January and February appointments – that’s how it works!! You go to the doctor, and 6 weeks later you get a bill telling you what your responsibility is. You’ll get a bill, too – trust me on this, Brah. You’ll get a bill. You always do – they never forget.

“I spent $30,000 out of pocket last year on medical expenses just to stay alive, and you’re up her ass because you don’t have your $200 FUCKING BILL TODAY? Are you fucking kidding me?!! Let. It. Go!!

“I went to the doctor 124 times last year, and I had 81 radiation treatments. I spent every third day in a doctor’s office or a hospital, and I’ve seen a shit-ton of disputes about bills and insurance. I have NEVER seen anyone act so pathetically entitled and make it so very personal the way you just did. You’re a healthy man standing here arguing just so you can bully women who can’t talk back because they don’t want to lose their job. What the *fuck* is wrong with you that you need to do that to feel like a man? Don’t you have some puppies you can go kick, you entitled douche-bro asshole?”

Broseph’s mouth was partially open as Claudia took the clipboard from the stunned Medical Assistant who was helping her, and she pleasantly said, “I’ll update my info and get this right back to you.”

You could have heard a pin drop on the carpeting.

“So.. then… I’ll get an itemized bill in the mail?” Broseph said, looking around the waiting room to see if even one face was encouraging him, but all the other patients were busy texting about the dramatic spectacle that had unfolded before them.

As Broseph P beat his retreat Claudia tried to stare him in the eye, but he avoided her gaze, all the while knowing in his secret heart that he was still the Smartest Boy In The Room.

When Claudia was called back for her appointment she was applauded by the staff and the Doctor shook her hand. The abused Medical Assistant hugged her hard, and the Respiratory Therapist said it was the finest, funniest thing she had witnessed in a dozen years of practice.

Claudia pondered the moment and realized: You take your wins where you can get them.

End scene.

 

 

Broseph and the Amazing Fragile White Male Dreamcoat

There is nothing funnier – and more pathetic – than a Fragile White Male becoming abusive when you point out that they’re not nearly as Woke, nor as much of an Ally, as they think they are.

Fragile White Males (not to be confused with Men) continually demand women acknowledge that they’ve been a ‘Good Guy’ as we are trying to process the latest indignity that’s befallen us, or when we’re disgusted with the latest famous or powerful man revealed to have been abusing his position and the women around him.

Usually it’s presented as Not All Men: a hashtag or sentiment FWMs feel obliged to remind women of when they speak of or point out the indignities of sexual harassment and sexism in school, the workplace, and public, or (worse) the soul crushing burden of rape and sexual assault.

“Not ALL Men!” the Fragile White Males have insisted again and again since #MeToo broke in earnest. “‘But *I* didn’t rape anyone! I’d never sexually harass a woman,” they repeat, needing you to know and demanding you acknowledge it. It’s exhausting.

If there’s any push back by women, or we have the temerity to tell men they’re re-framing the conversation to make themselves more comfortable, it almost always ends up with the Fragile White Male offended to the point of a having a temper tantrum, and that tantrum often turns into spewing abuse when you don’t soothe their fragile ego.

A textbook case of a Fragile White Male hijacking the conversation and shrieking #NotAllMen!! happened the other day, when my friend Tawanda (a perfect pseudonym for this fierce and strong woman)  posted on her Facebook page that she and her husband were skipping their usual Superbowl party. (Note that in the following exchange OP refers to Original Post, JT is Justin Timberlake, and the screen caps show the actual back-and-forth with nothing cherry-picked for sensationalism.)

Tawanda begins the conversation with this post:

 

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I watched the video Tawanda posted, an encouraging 80-second clip where Smith talks about choosing to be with people who will fan your flames of creativity, and not piss on them.

I was about to type, “So much THIS!!” when I looked at the third comment down, posted by Broseph, and it felt like getting a thumb poked in my eye. See if you can spot Broseph’s subtle re-framing in his opening gambit.

 

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Why, yes – he WAS white. How did you guess? Is it because he sounds so Fragile?

I knew as I typed out my response that the Fragile White Male’s fee-fees would be hurt if I tried to clue him in to his transgression. Fragile White Males who take well to hearing how they could be a better Ally are unicorns – that’s why they’re Fragile White Males.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t give a flying fuck anymore about Fragile White Male’s tender fee-fees. Half a century of clapping hands for every morsel of respect they accidentally let fall off the table isn’t cutting it for me anymore.

These days I give Fragile White Males and their feelings EXACTLY as much respect as they give me and mine.

 

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As expected Broseph’s answer was sulky and pontifical. But, before I checked back in to Facebook he decided it wasn’t enough and posted again, aggrandizing himself and strangely attempting to insult me with a patronizing gif.

 

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I wish I could say I was surprised, but Fragile White Males are so damned predictable.

I grinned broadly at Broseph’s lack of reading comprehension skills, and his refusing to acknowledge that the subject WAS NOT, in fact, Justin Timberlake’s diverse fucking fan base.  Clearly, Tawanda’s point was that the Manly Men in attendance would use Timberlake’s performance as an excuse to morph into Douchecus Maximus, and she wasn’t going to waste her precious time on these people.

Note how this fine specimen of a Fragile White Male blithely ignores his re-framing a statement about inherent sexism driving a mutual friend away from her years-long Superbowl tradition, and instead insists we acknowledge his diversity. Even better? Broseph ignoring Tawanda’s liking my post (with a heart, no less) to give himself permission to blow up with indignity.

 

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I laughed when I read his second message. I could see the Fragile White Male huffing behind his keyboard, wrapping his unearned righteous-indignation around him like a well-worn woolen cloak.

 

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Take a moment to savor that whole Ball o’ Privilege and Fragility, while Irony unplugs the phone and weeps like Holly Hunter in Broadcast News.

“I am about as supportive of any issues of any gender or sex as you’ll find a man to be.”

The fucking ego it takes to even think that way.

You could launch a Space-X rocket from the platform of self-importance that big.

Can you imagine thinking so very much of yourself? Or, more likely, not being able to imagine anyone acting better than you, and chalking up your own shortcomings to being the BEST anyone could find a man to be.

Then, to PROVE what a supportive MAN he was, he posted a patronizing gif  telling me to ‘Simma Down Now’. I was really disappointed he didn’t tell me I’d be prettier if I smiled more.

My response contained exactly the lack of deference that infuriates men like Broseph, who believe their every utterance should be hung upon with rapt attention and fluttering eyelashes.

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15 minutes later a flash flood of rage hit:

 

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In refusing to humble myself before Broseph’s almighty bullshit opinion I’d unleashed what he really thought about women, and their desire for self-agency and equality.

My, oh my, how the wheels came off his fragile white wagon, as Dude Bro revealed he has serious rape issues.

 

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You read that right!

Mr. I’m As Supportive Of Any Issues Of Any Gender Or Sex As You’ll Find A Man To Be thinks anything short of rape is a women crying ‘Wolf!’  while simultaneously accusing me of being A-Okay with rape and sexual harassment because I told him, “It’s not about you.”

Never mind that the Bill Clinton rape charges are as bogus as Broseph’s claims of  Feminism: I had the audacity to tell Broseph he was re-framing Tawanda’s original, uncomfortable point on toxic masculinity, and replacing it with a Fragile White Male’s musings on Justin Timberlake – therefore he was justified in claiming I supported the single most damaging thing that had ever happened to me in my life.

Broseph – not content with lying about my condoning rape, and pulling a grand Whataboutism about the Clintons directly out of his ass to change the subject – felt he hadn’t QUITE gotten his point across, so he posted a gif of a woman circling her ear with her finger, in the classic ‘you’re crazy’ mime.

Much adult! Such dignified!!

This is classic Fragile White Male behavior. They believe with all their heart that verbal abuse is an appropriate way to interact with a woman who won’t be cowed, and dares to question their behavior as it relates to the continual need to re-frame everything in a way that makes them comfortable.

What else could I do, but toss a few more logs on to the bonfire of his rage?

 

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Fragile White Males ADORE being dismissed even more than being told “It’s not about you.” They NEVER have to have the last, ugly words.

 

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You really HAVE to admire an ego that has been so tenderly cultivated in the rich loam of White Male Privilege that he believes he is As Good As A Man Can Be, and to question HIM is to attack the very movement I’m asking him to respect.

Put your arms around that: He ACTUALLY equated asking him not to re-frame women’s definitive statements on sexism and misogyny as attacking #MeToo.

The only people capable of attaining and maintaining an ego that GARGANTUAN in this society have the good fortune to born a white male.

Furious that I hadn’t taken the bait, Broseph gave one last, feeble shot that read more like the Ambien had kicked in, rather than the stinging invective he imagined it to be.

 

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Ahh – THERE it is!

‘If you are married to a man, I feel bad for him..’

The final refuge of the Fragile White Male who is powerless to cow a woman who approaches him as an equal: Imply she can’t land a cock, and if by some miracle she did it’s a Pity Fuck.

You know – because ALL women are heterosexual, and we aren’t complete without a good, deep dicking.

Almost the only men who act like this are white dudes privileged enough to grow up with such unquestioned power they believe it’s their just due for the rest of society to put so much stock in their opinion that it cancels out our actual experience.

For those of you Men who would never act like this? Great. Thank you – you’re doing what any decent person should do. But, it’s not enough to see that Fragile White Male behavior is wrong. You need to SAY SOMETHING – tell them to knock their shit off

The uncomfortable fact is: If you don’t speak up against Fragile White Male behavior you are not an Ally – you’re a Silent Accomplice.

I guaran-damn-tee you there are Brosephs all around us, springing up like poisoned toadstools, pushing back against #MeToo, and redefining its meaning to fit their own privileged need not to feel uncomfortable.

Look: Nothing will change until those of you white men who have power (read: ALL of you) demand that their brethren share it with those of us who don’t.

I know this piece will cause most men discomfort. Tough. It’s time you look good and hard and ask yourself if you have been a Broseph, or enabled him with your silence.

If you don’t see yourself here? Great. I appreciate the Ally. Really, I do. But, I don’t want to hear about it.

It’s not about you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Absolutes About Abusers

Those of us who’ve escaped the orbit of a Narcissistic Psychopath are fully aware of how Trump & Company are bludgeoning America into submission with relentless lies and sadistic behavior. We’re all too familiar with watching helplessly as our abuser breaks everything we hold dear just for the fun of it, and then lies to our face about what our eyes can see.

If you’ve never been trapped by a Narcissistic Psychopath you are in very real shock right now at finding a person utterly lacking in compassion or empathy is controlling your life and means you very real harm. The continual Gaslighting and threats to your safety become a steady feedback loop of anxiety, and the sustained emotional assault actually causes physical and mental harm.

Understand that this ceaseless firehose of bald-faced lies and indignities is designed to overwhelm and humiliate, and ultimately to make us all passive by cutting so deep into our soul we beg for the pain to stop, even though we know there is no mercy.

Those of who have walked down this path owe it to those who have not to take their arm and assure them as we walk through the darkness they are not alone, nor are they crazy.

To wit, I offer these irrefutable Truths About Abusers – especially Trump and Company:

  1. You aren’t human – you’re expendable chattel without rights
  2. Your opinion, wants are needs are punishable offenses
  3. You are expected to follow rules and display manners that they deny exist
  4. You will NEVER get them to acknowledge facts
  5. They will never, ever, EVER admit they are wrong
  6. They will steal from you while insisting you’re a duplicitous thief
  7. They will lie so boldly and confidently that you will question your sanity
  8. They enjoy your pain even more when you tell them how much it hurts
  9. They will not stop until they control you completely and capriciously
  10. Anything they can’t control completely they will ceaselessly try to destroy

Now repeat these truths until they are so ingrained they can’t be shouted away.

Trump and his acolytes are soulless entities who will suck every ounce of you out of you if they can, and eventually being around them becomes a fight to keep your sanity and your personality from being swallowed by inexhaustible evil.

The urge is to give up and give in by not looking around to see about how bad things really are. It may be easier in the short term for some to ignore the reality in our collective Home – but you can’t wish away the Authoritarian that lounges insolently in our Parlor any more than you can reason with the termites and rot that infest the walls.

No matter what we do – compliance or fight – understand that there is no depth which Trump and Company won’t plumb, there will be no savagery left undone, no barbarity overlooked, and no opportunity to inflict sadistic inhumanity will be missed.

Accept that none of us will come out the other side of this fight the same, nor is it our fault that Trump and Company are evil. These facts exist together and separately, and all we can do is try to mitigate the damage.

I will do the very best I can to give voice to our #Resistance. I am here.

Embrace the reality that Trump and Company are relentlessly evil and will continue to screw with our heads and our very lives until we are compliant and submit to watching our country slide back 100 years – or until we’ve had enough and fight back like we mean it.

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Preaching To The Choir

It’s best if we accept the reality that Trump speaks to the vacuum of compassion in his followers. All their life Trump Apologists (Trumpologists) have known on an instinctive level that they lack something most other people have, but can’t quite grasp what it is.

Trump is their Jack from Lord Of The Flies because he validates Trumpologists lack of empathy and need to destroy things and take pleasure in other’s pain – they grunt and nod as Trump eschews the Conch and the Rules of Law and Decency.

The sooner we accept this the sooner we will be able to break free from the notion these folks can be reasoned with.

They don’t WANT to be reasoned with, they don’t want a middle ground – they don’t want to live peacefully.

What they want is for you to abase yourself to their God, and mouth their beliefs and surrender your Civil Rights to their religion.

They want to control your life and be in charge of who you can marry and where you can live and when you will have babies – and even WHEN YOU WILL DIE.

To that end I offer my Brothers and ReSisters a basic template of how to respond to ANYONE ignorant enough to insist Donald J. Trump is a good President.

You won’t change a Trumplogst’s mind, but you will help other Resisters who read it to shake off the continual gaslighting from the Administration and Russia (but, I repeat myself), and the numbness from the never-ending fire-hose of terrifying and infuriating news.

Think of the following paragraphs as Colorform Facts that you can mix and match for the Trumpologists in your life. Use them all – or use just one.

Copy, paste, share, and use in good health. It will always be here when you need it. Most people don’t have the time to put together and fact check a list like this that has taken me 2 ½ years to curate.

So, Sing It Loud! Sing It Proud! Raise up your voice and speak the TRUTH my Brothers and ReSisters!

Sure, I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s so damned EASY to forget what we’ve been through – and sometimes the Choir needs practice:

 

Journalists should be jailed and or killed. Mexicans are rapists & Blacks are lazy. POWs aren’t heroes because they got caught & US soldiers with PTSD aren’t strong. A woman questioning him has to be on the rag. Syrians should be put in concentration camps, and deported. Muslims should have to register and wear ID tags and mosques should be closed.

Trump cruelly derided the grieving parents of a Gold Star soldier, while himself taking 5 deferments from Vietnam. When asked which foot had the bone spur that allowed him a medical deferment after playing 4 years on the college tennis team Trump told the reporter, “You look it up.”

During a campaign rally Trump viciously mocked Serge Kovaleski, a physically disabled New York Times reporter, who pointed out that Trump was pretending to have personally witnessed the thoroughly debunked urban legend that thousands upon thousands of Muslims were cheering in New Jersey on September 11, 2001.

Donald Trump incites violence at his rallies and believes protesters deserve to get beaten up by wistfully pining for “the old days when they’d be carried out on stretchers.” Encouraging violence, he promised to pay the legal bills of anyone assaulting a protestor in the crowd.

Before declaring his candidacy Trump faced more than 4,000 lawsuits on everything from fraud to unpaid bills, contract disputes and sexual discrimination.

Trump has been found guilty and fined twice for violating the Federal Fair Housing Act, due to his management company’s egregious policy of racial discrimination against African Americans.

He was forced to pay a $200,000 fine to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for denying blacks casino floor jobs and forcing black employees to be removed from sight when Donald and Ivana visited.

He made fraud, racketeering and elder abuse charges vanish from his bogus Trump University by paying off tens of thousands of plaintiffs, whom he defrauded to the tune of $50 million.

He has contributed no money to charity – None. His Foundation is not only uncertified, it is being investigated by the state of New York due to good-faith donations being misused. Paperwork shows nearly half-a-million dollars in charitable funds were used to pay Trump’s personal obligations of legal bills and fines on his for-profit business, including a $120,000 penalty from the city of Palm Beach for code violations by his prized Mar-a-Lago Club. Beyond that, Trump made an illegal political gift of $25,000 to Pam Bondi – the Florida Attorney General who conveniently decided not to press charges on Trump and his Trump University. He used $40,000 to buy oil paintings of himself and even paid his son’s $8 Boy Scout fees out of the charitable fund.

He lies when it’s easier to tell the truth, claiming to be the first person to predict terrorism in the United States.  Trump continues to flog the lie that his first wife competed as a skier in the 1972 Olympics for Czechoslovakia, even though it’s easily verifiable that the Czechs didn’t even field a team that year. A marker on the third green of his Virginia golf club boasts of the 100% pulled-out-of-his-ass ‘River of Blood’ Civil War imaginary battle – and Trump unironically goes so far as to say of the historians who vehemently deny any fight took place within miles of the course, “Where they there?”

He is a thin-skinned narcissist who rage-tweets about anyone who disagrees with him, going so far at one point as to encourage people to watch a non-existent sex tape of Alicia Machado, former Miss Universe from Venezuela, when she detailed his fat shaming of her.

A raging racist, he spent several years and thousands of dollars ‘investigating’ Barack Obama’s birth certificate, encouraging Birthers, and conveniently ignoring the fact that no matter where Obama was born in this great big wide world, his mother being an American citizen MADE HIM ONE, TOO – with all the accompanying privileges, like being President. Please note that John McCain was born in Panama and Trump didn’t say ‘Boo’ when McCain ran for President because he was a white dude.

 

Beyond all of this – NEVER forget this is a man who has promised state sponsored murder and torture of children, and who thinks the Press exercises entirely too much Freedom.

This self-imagined dictator promises to violate the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 14th amendments, as well as end abortion, civil rights, voting rights, marriage equality and the EPA.

He has proudly broken every Commandment Christians purport to hold dear, except murder – and he brags of being able to shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue without it costing him a single follower.

He is working in cahoots with Putin – and no matter how they try to deny it – Trump is ON TAPE begging straight into the camera for Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, which they did.
A ‘Good President’ wouldn’t sentence thousands of children to death, and let 9 million more lose their insurance coverage – as happened at the end of September, when the CHIP bill was not reauthorized.

A ‘Good President’ wouldn’t let the Pre-existing Conditions clause die, or allow Health Insurance Companies to sell worthless policies, or refuse to tell it’s citizens about ACA policies with subsidies.

A ‘Good  President’ wouldn’t let the people of PR die of cholera and thirst. A ‘Good  President’ wouldn’t golf while the people of California are being burned alive and out of house and home.

A ‘Good President’ doesn’t spend 1 in 3 days at his own properties, exhausting the Secret Service budget in weeks that was meant to last a year.

A Good Man doesn’t make fun of POWs and soldiers who died for our country, or a Mayor who is pleading for the very lives of her constituents.

Oh yeah – A Good HUMAN would never, ever, ever “Grab Them By The Pussy!!”