Saturday, May 24, 2014

Thoughts On A 22 Year Old Virgin

We have such a propensity for violence and mass shootings in the United States, that over 113 million google results turn up in .63 seconds when you type "top 50 mass shootings in the US" into the search bar. Here Rachel Maddow walks us through 50 years of mass killings . . . in schools, theaters, malls, you name it.

So, in light of this, I was not surprised when I read the following headline: 

I was especially not surprised that the idiot at the center of this scandal, Elliot Rodger, made a stagey, over-the-top video declaring his murderous intentions - entitled, no less, "Elliot Rodger's Retribution" - before setting upon his victims.

In the video (see article above) he's quite explicit: He's exacting revenge on the mean streets of Santa Barbara all because he can't get laid. No one wants to fuck him.

Clearly Rodger was a man afflicted with a gravely betrayed sense of entitlement. Society had denied him his due pleasures. His spurned advances left him no other choice but to drain the life from the bodies most redolent of those who had rejected him. 

Making good on his threats, Rodger is now just one more angry dude to throw on the ever-growing heap of males making history for all the wrong reasons - for externalizing their hatred, for making others suffer the brute force of their moral squalor.

With such lax gun laws, homegrown terrorism is the harvest we reap. It's also why my friend and I jokingly call evening walks in the forested area around her home, "Gunshots in the Dusk." Everybody's gotta a gun out here. 

But luckily, few people's hearts are as icy as Rodger's balls were blue.

Coldly, methodically mowing down pedestrians in the street because the ladies don't like you sounds insane but it's not. (Questions regarding his mental health will surely be trotted out to explain away his savagery as is usually the case with white terrorism. Read: "Top Ten Differences Between White Terrorists and Others"). It's not insane because it's to be expected. It takes more than one sick man to produce an atrocity. It takes a sick society. It takes a village like ours to raise a boy to grow up thinking real men treat women with contempt, especially when they don't defer to male desire.

A woman is beaten every nine seconds in the US; an hour of your life contains nearly 60 sexual assaults; every morning is the last morning for the three women killed daily in acts of domestic-violence homicide.

Rich Boy's rampage was as scripted as the lines in the movies his dad directs in Hollywood. He enacted his sadistic pleasures on the stage of patriarchy, remaining faithful to a social order that instructs men to feel superior to women and claim ownership over their bodies. Rodger is a terrorist of the establishment, not a rogue defending some fringe cause. He conformed to centuries-old thinking about women and sex, putting on full display the worst of our society's woman-hating attitudes.

Above all, he accepted the lie that masculinity is tied to virility. Rodger rather kill and die, than live a virgin at 22.

Such madness is the logical conclusion of the cult of self meets Western misogyny meets first world privilege. His horrendous actions hold a mirror to our culture's worst moral failings, exhorting us to not only rethink our ideas about sex and violence, but to re-examine our criteria for manhood.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gazillionth Letter To The Tacoma News Tribune

Re: “Billy Frank Jr. – activist, icon, environmental giant” (editorial, 5-6).

The editorial board employed a curious metaphor in a deeply moving tribute celebrating Nisqually elder and lifelong activist Billy Frank Jr.

You mention that he is worthy of having his face engraved in stone, like that of Mount Rushmore – a monument carved against Native American wishes into Native American rock. You can probably see where I am going with this, making me wonder all the more how the editors missed it.

Mount Rushmore is a potent reminder that America is a stolen continent made possible only through waves of immigrant settlers enacting their genocidal policies against its original inhabitants. Many people call it a monument to genocide, so I am wagering that this was just an unfortunate choice of figurative language and not a backhanded compliment aimed at a man you graciously call “large-souled.”

One thing is certain, though: The Pacific Northwest, as you conclude, “is a poorer place for his death, but a far richer one for his life.”

(Printed 4/7/2014)

Billy Frank Jr.

The Unthinkable

Can you guess what word comes to my mind when reading this recent piece by NPR, "Poll: Prestigious Colleges Won't Make You Happier In Life Or Work"?

Yes; EVERGREEN! Great job, people!

NPR writes:
The graduate survey released Tuesday suggests the factors that should be guiding college decisions are not selectivity or prestige, but cost of attendance, great teaching and deep learning, in that order.
That's because graduates who said they had a "mentor who encouraged my hopes and dreams," "professors who cared about me" and at least one prof who "made me excited about learning" are three times more likely to be thriving and twice as likely to be engaged at work. In a similar vein, grads who did long-term projects and internships and were heavily into extracurriculars are twice as likely to be engaged in their careers today.

College debt also has a big impact, on the negative side. Only 2 percent of those with $20,000 to $40,000 in undergraduate loans reported they were "thriving." That's pretty troubling, since $29,400 is the national average for the 7 in 10 students who borrow. ­

Gallup and Purdue hope to use these and future surveys to help colleges better focus on outcomes, and to identify "outlier" colleges that are doing a great job delivering quality experiences for an affordable price.

In the meantime, the take-home message for students is clear, says Brandon Busteed, who leads Gallup's education work: "If you can go to Podunk U debt free vs. Harvard for $100,000, go to Podunk. And concentrate on what you do when you get there."

The Evergreen State College is exactly the kind of "outlier" this study is suggesting students seriously consider because it is both affordable and the kind of place where the professors care about you - I mean really care - and will make you excited to learn - I mean really excited. Meaningful, stimulating engagement with deeply committed and talented professors was my experience through and through at Evergreen. I am still in touch with many of my old teachers, one of which has become a life long mentor and whose confidence in me continues to serve as a lifeline.

Undoubtedly though, highly selective, expensive colleges that don't guarantee long-term life satisfaction DO guarantee one thing: access to prestige networks and proximity to institutionalized power. If your idea of success complements the status quo, then sure, Harvard is the place for you and your trust fund. 

(Disclaimer: I hyperlink to TED Talks fully aware that TED Talks are the "successful" person's coming of age story and that it's fucking annoying. Deal with it.)