Monday, August 31, 2015

Week of 08/31/2015

A Need For Justice, Not Attention
I have been really hating the TV commercials being done for American Family Insurance.  Previous commercials from them regurgitated Jiffy-Pop pre-packaged messages with an overplayed jingle from a certain pop song, and they played them over and over to the point that any time the actual song would appear on the radio, I’d have to change the station or turn the radio off.
The most recent commercial they are airing, though, is really pissing me off for a much different reason. 
The commercial features kids playing football in a junior league capacity, each of them saying out loud that they have “plans” and that they’re “going places”.  And then, of course, you get the message that AFI would supposedly “back them up”.  AFI wouldn’t help them make those “plans” happen or help them “go places”.  They just would provide “insurance” in case something were to happen to those families.
It’s deceptive because it implies something that they cannot really promise, but that’s not why I hate it.
I hate it because I had “dreams” and “plans” too at that age.  And mine didn’t become real, no matter how badly I wanted them to.  There were simply too many people who made it their mission in life to destroy my “dreams” and “plans” and to make sure that the “places” I could go to were limited.
I wanted to play varsity sports.  Other people decided that I wasn’t “worthy” of it.
I wanted to be a police officer.  Other people decided that I wasn’t “worth” hiring.
I wanted to be a radio personality.  Other people decided that I wasn’t “mainstream” enough.
I wanted to be a writer.  Other people decided that I wasn’t “good” enough.
Sure I can make do.  I’ve been doing that with this column for almost twenty years now.  I was doing that with the Talk Liberty Network and later with ShockNet Radio.  I still do that with Battlerock Comics.
But those aren’t really living “the dream”.  And those “places” are limited to a very small audience in a microscopic forum.  Nor do they pay the bills.  In fact, they haven’t paid anything.  They don’t even pay attention, never mind currency.
That’s why I hate the commercials from American Family Insurance.  Because they tap into something that I’m sick and tired of being reminded that I don’t have anymore.
But here’s something else for you to ponder, which I’m sure will get under your skin like the AFI commercials have been doing for me:
Do you think that Vester Lee Flanagan had “dreams” and “plans”?  Do you think that he believed he was destined to “go places” and “do things” like those kids playing football in those AFI commercials?
Mister Flanagan is the guy who murdered a reporter and her cameraman during a live broadcast in Virginia this past week.  Without any warning, he shot both of them and then shot the woman they were interviewing.  He would later fax the media his confession and post his video of the killing on the Internet so the whole world would know who he was and why he supposedly did what he did.
Flanagan, a.k.a. former TV reporter “Bryce Williams”, wouldn’t have any way to further explain his actions, of course.  He would later take his own life when the police found him on the highway.  So, as always, the self-appointed “experts” in the air-fluffed ego-driven media would go on writing the narrative. 
And, because this involved one of their own, you can imagine they are quick to dismiss Mister Flanagan as a lone nut case who “needlessly” killed two saintly people.
Members of the Atlanta media pretended to be experts and declared Flanagan to be an “Injustice Collector”, as if that was some kind of profession.  They characterized him as someone who just “collects all sorts of slights, no matter how minor”.
Another member of the media whined about how their own people should stop “glorifying” the killers and focus on the victims, because, according to his own hired “expert”, the killers are simply doing this “for attention”.
Tell you what, members of the media, you take a good hard look at your own damned vocation, because the guy who did the killing was once a member of your own damned vocation, and you yourselves wouldn’t be in your own damned vocation if you didn’t crave some modicum of “attention”.
I’m not validating what he did, or deny that he quite possibly had some problems, but let’s get brutally honest here... the air-fluffed ego-driven media is only doing our society a greater injustice by trying to wash their hands of people like Vester Lee Flanagan and beautify the victims without really answering they question they keep on asking... “Why?”
You really want to stop future tragedies?  Then stop trying to come up with Jiffy-Pop explanations for people like him.
Here are a few truths... a few realities... that you need to accept, and accept them pretty damned soon:
First of all, “difficult people” aren’t just loners and people on the fringe.  They’re also your neighbors, your co-workers, your bosses, your boss’s bosses, and, yes, even contenders for President of the United States.  The trick is how to work with them, not dismiss them outright or find ways to get rid of them simply because they get under your skin.
Second, people in “human resources” are not gods, nor are they impartial.  They are human beings who filter things through their own biases.  If they have two people that are butting heads, and they happen to favor one over the other, or that person is more “liked” than the other person, well, it sucks to be the one left out.  And understand as well that “HR” is not there for the employees, but for the company.  They’re not picking personal favorites.  They’re deciding what’s best for the company, and, yeah, sometimes a little personal favoritism is involved.  It doesn’t make it right.  It just makes it what’s “best” for the business.
Third, no amount of gun regulation or legislation could have stopped Flanagan from lawfully getting a gun.  None.  I do not care how “outraged” you are about this any more than you care how “outraged” Mister Flanagan may have been over his lot in life.  You are not god.  You do not get to decide who should and who should not “deserve” to get a gun.  We do not have precognitives that are able to tell us with absolute certainty what people will do in the future like in the movie “Minority Report”, and you should be thankful that we don’t!
Fourth, contrary to the fiction spun by you and your so-called “experts”, just because your life turned out as you wanted does not mean that other people are so fortunate.  Yes, your plans and dreams can be crushed, shattered, and taken away from you by the mechanizations of others, and sometimes for no other reason than personal entertainment.  It could very well be that Mister Flanagan’s life was ruined by other people.  It doesn’t justify what he did in response, but it also shouldn’t be written off in an asinine way as saying “Oh he’s just looking for attention, boo-hoo!”  In fact that only contributes to the kind of response that you didn’t want happen.  Aren’t you proud of yourselves now?
What would happen if you lost your job tomorrow through something out of your control?  What if you started to lose the very things that help make the worst of your life tolerable?  What if you lost support of your friends and family members?  What if you lost the things that you enjoyed outside of your work?  And what if you were getting continual reminders of what you’ve lost subtly thrown in your face?  Do you really think that you’d handle all of that with grace and optimism for two or three or even five years without end?  Ha!  Keep dreaming!
A person suffering from antisocial personality disorder or avoidant personality disorder or borderline personality disorder are not “born” with their problems.  Their problems are the result of other acts done against them.  And don’t forget that we in our supposedly “modern civilized society” have a piss-poor problem in dealing with mental disorders.  We expect people with such problems to handle them on their own, quietly, and not bother anyone else with them.  Our failure to deal with the problem mirrors our own ignorance and apathy on them.
And, by the way, how the hell do you expect government bureaucrats to somehow magically divine when issuing gun permits that the applicant is suffering from a psychological disorder when everything in our society screams at those that suffer from them to keep that sort of revelation buried deep down so nobody else will know about it?  Go ahead! I dare you to explain that one!
Vester Lee Flanagan wasn’t looking for “attention” when he did what he did.  He was looking for some modicum of justice against all of the perceived injustices done against him.  The systems he was supposed to turn to and put faith in failed him.  That’s not an “injustice collector”.  That’s someone who sees himself at the end of his rope.  His faxes and Internet posts were his failed attempts to control the narrative so the air-fluffed ego-driven media wouldn’t be able to.  And, of course, his hasty suicide was his final method of control over his life when he realized that he couldn’t escape the police like he wanted to.  It turned out to be the one thing that he did do right that others couldn’t take away from him.
If Flanagan was looking for “attention” like the so-called “experts” claimed, then he wouldn’t have killed himself.  He would have instead turned himself in, forced the state to try him in court so he could tell his life story and air his perceived grievances, pushed for the death penalty and then drag the process out in appeals for decades, all at the taxpayer expenses, so he could repeat his grievances endlessly, and maybe even get a book and movie deal out of it, and certainly gain some sympathy down the line.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: we make our own enemies.  When we fail to recognize the mechanizations of others, we make our own enemies.  When we pompously and ignorantly expect the sick and injured to heal themselves in silence and solitude, we make our own enemies.  When we tell others to put faith in a system that later fails them and then say that it’s their own fault, we make our own enemies.  As long as we do these thing, we are partially to blame for the tragedies that have happened, and the ones that are yet to come.

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