Bullies Forever

When I was very young—I won’t say exactly when, thereby aging myself—the first books I read were mysteries with kids my age as the protagonists. I started with The Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden, eventually moving up to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as I got a little bit older.

They were great and I liked the fun mysteries the plucky little kids were tasked with cracking. But one thing about them always annoyed me: the bully. There was always some terrible bully who would make things difficult for the main characters, even the teenage characters like Frank and Joe Hardy and Nancy Drew.

I brushed them off thinking that these were clichés the author used to move the plot along and give us a reason to root for the heroes a little bit more. Then, once I got into middle school, I found out the truth. There were not clichés. Bullies actually existed! I don’t think there was one grade from middle school on where I didn’t run into at least one archetypical bully. Contrary to popular belief, the girls were quite vicious. Any new girl in the class was fair game for their terrible verbal abuse. There was always at least one boy bully, too. While the girls were poetic in their nastiness, the boy bullies tended to use physical means to get their rocks off.

When I was in school, teachers rarely did anything about it. Times are changing. But back then, they’d shrug their shoulder or look away thinking, “Kids would be kids.” No real punishment or attempt at conflict resolution. Maybe the teachers just assumed that once these kids got older and graduated (or dropped out) they’d see the error of their ways and stop their bullying.

Well, anyone who watches reality TV knows that just isn’t true.

Kids who were bullies in school often stay bullies and the kids who stood by and watched generally tend to continue getting their jollies like that today.

Take the popular shows like Tosh.0 or Smoking Gun Presents World’s Dumbest. The format is similar. A group of D-list celebrities sit around and watch videos of accidents. Some of them are innocuous, like a husband and wife who fall into a pool at a wedding. No injury, no big deal. But then they watch other videos where people are actually getting hurt. Badly. They’ll show a clip of a skateboarder who lands on his head after falling down. The kid could have a concussion, or worse, and these people on the show are sitting in the studio taking delight in the moment. And people at home must be eating it up too, otherwise the shows wouldn’t keep airing.

Fox News has had a grand ol’ time denigrating the First Lady’s weight of late.  I’m not speaking to the politics of it – but the fact that anyone’s weight and the mocking thereof should make the “news” is just amazing to me. This is bullying, plain and simple.

And of course there are a myriad of shows and so-called celebrities whose sole purpose seems to be coming up with vile insults that pick apart the supposedly horrible way people look. No wonder our society has so many issues today.  This is popular entertainment. This is what we’ve become…millions of people sitting on their couches laughing at others and feeling superior.

Observing this behavior has forced me to come to the following conclusion: People have no empathy and no pride. Mocking others isn’t exactly a prideful moment. The lack of respect for our fellow human beings is shocking.

Need proof? Here’s the latest and greatest in human nature:  Yahoo Article on “People of the Iowa State Fair.”

This isn’t the official page of the Iowa State Fair, but it’s a page someone created to share photos of people attending the fair. Roughly 90% of these photos seem to have been taken by a bully–yes, a bully–looking for overweight people or people dressed in a unique and different way. The photos have captions that ridicule the innocent people who were just being themselves trying to have a fun day.

Of course, not everybody enjoys these photos.

According to the article:   Several visitors who find the site offensive have asked the administrator to take down (or at least take responsibility for) the page’s hurtful content, but to no avail. The administrator posted this response on Tuesday: “People watching is one of the great traditions of the Iowa State Fair, and this site was made to allow people worldwide to enjoy that… The internet is full of offensive and disgusting things, and if I stumble across a website that offends me, I re-direct my browser elsewhere immediately and do not go back.”

The italics are part of the article, but I’d italicize them if they hadn’t been, because that’s a common excuse.

“If you don’t like it, don’t watch.”

Well, the problem is, what about the people who do like these degrading photos and captions?  They are society’s problem…because those adults are going to teach their kids that “fat-shaming” and “different-from-us-shaming” is okay.

Is normal.

Is funny.

And that’s so sad.

Where did the “news” go?

Check out the cartoon below. It came across my newsfeed the other day and it struck me as funny, and sadly, extremely relevant. Where are the accurate news sources? Every day it seems that another outlet has been compromised by political influence and corporate protection.

More and more people are getting their news from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (comedy programs airing on Comedy Central mind you) than Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, or Bloomberg. Does this sound sad to anyone else? Not sad because we look to John Stewart or Stephen Colbert for our facts on what’s going on in the world out there. That’s actually great because they’re both fantastic commentators. Sad because there are less and less places for us to get the unbiased, unfiltered, and transparent truth if we should want it (which we should).

It’s gotten so bad that some people I know don’t even read any American news sites anymore. They go to BBC News or Reuters because they feel they have a better chance of finding out what the US has been involved in and to what extent without the story going through a hefty edit process to make sure no influential billionaires get in trouble.

How corrupt are US news sites? I honestly can’t tell you. What I can say is that, as the comic implies, while we may not know where the “real” news is, we seem pretty sure that what we’ve got isn’t cutting it anymore.

Luckily there are a few bastions of uncompromised news out there. Or at least I think they are, until some scandal comes out that destroys their credibility as well. I’m thinking primarily of NPR. They seem fairly legit and unbiased, but then again I can’t be sure. And this is the point I’m trying to make. The skepticism has gotten so bad that I’m finding it tough to put my trust in any news outlet. There’s always a cloud of doubt looming overhead due to the way so many “sources” alter their perspectives to meet their station’s agendas.

This is why I’m parched, why I think we’re all parched. We just want to get through the business politics to learn about the actual politics. If that oasis will grow anytime soon is yet to be seen but those little pockets we do have had better stay pure lest we all dehydrate from lack of truth.

this is me on any given day my television happens to be on

this is me on any given day my television happens to be on

 

NEWS

this tidbit is NOT vetted by me personally, but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true

 

Horse Rescuers — the Oft Lonely Advocates

Musings from a Tangled Mind:

I love, love, love to see advocates share the love like this writer! I know…that’s a lot of “loves.” But, too often there is divisive behavior that hurts the cause and ultimately hurts the animals. I think it’s great when people can be a voice for a cause — whether they’re at an event in person or just in spirit. We ALL count, we ALL matter and we ALL make a difference. So I say thank you to every advocate out there. You’re all doing a bang-up job!!

Originally posted on Pass the SAFE Act!:

Many devoted animal advocates often attend events and demonstrations that support the cause we’re all backing and we cannot thank you enough! It may be as a part of a strong picket line or a peaceful protest outside a political office, or the storefront of a place that supports inhumane treatment of animals. These activists have the amazingly powerful ability to get together, swap stories, meet each other, and engage earnestly with other members of their like-minded community. They give much needed support to each other and are alleviated of any fear of isolation by being reassured that there are many others who feel just as strongly about the cause as they do. There is a group all too often unable to attend such events but who nonetheless are just as adamant in their stance for animal rights. Of course we’re talking about horse rescues.

become a gift to others and you will always be well received

The people who run horse…

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Child Neglect, Forgetfulness, or a Shift in Priorities?

Fall is almost here and I want to touch on a subject that I have been stewing over for most of the Summer. I’ve hemmed and hawed over doing an entry about this controversial subject because children are a subject that I get incredibly fired up about and I have a tendency to rant (and you guys hear me rant enough about animals on here already).  But — I decided to just jump in and the Devil be damned.

We’ve all had one of those days where we leave the house in a rush and forget something important. I know I’m guilty of it. Phone, keys, wallet, and the like; some little bauble that can have a major influence on how the rest of the day goes. Pretty understandable, right? Normally it only takes five or ten minutes before we notice it’s not there. We get busy, our minds get filled up with all sorts of tasks that we try to organize in our brains as we’re moving through our daily routine. It seems understandable and totally forgivable if someone arrives at lunch and says, “Oh shoot, do you mind spotting me? I forgot my cash.”

Babies, on the other hand, specifically a baby that belongs to you, I have trouble believing as one of these forgettable items on par with say…your Subway frequent buyer card. Yet, it happens. It’s actually quite shocking, but the number of babies forgotten by their parents in cars and dying from hyperthermia (extreme heat) is on the rise. Don’t believe me? Don’t believe that a mom or a dad absent-mindedly forgets that junior was in the back seat and left to bake for 10 hours happens? Just read the paper. It’s happening more and more lately.  There were several cases throughout the summer (another one just last week), and a while back, The Washington Post had a morbidly disheartening piece about this trending phenomenon.

Read it and weep. Literally. Then read it again, and if you’re like me, you’ll probably get a sense of anger, confusion, disbelief, and outright awe swirling around in your head as you try to find a way to rationalize such a horrendous (and apparently growing) act of memory lapse.

Humans are imperfect machines. This I know. Yes, mistakes do happen. But I just can’t wrap my head around a mistake of this magnitude. I forget my phone. I forget my umbrella. I forget my dentist appointments. Hell, I forget sooo many things. Admittedly my brain is a sieve. But I can’t think of a single distraction that is large enough to push out the regular mental check-ins I conduct on my own children. And the idea that I could forget them while they’re actually in my presence?  Uh, No.

I read an article recently that said there is an up and coming disorder called “forgotten baby syndrome.” Yes, the occurrences are so frequent now, certain media pundits and so-called parenting experts have given the “condition” a name. It’s certainly not what I’d call it. But I digress. Anyway, it’s specifically when people forget they have children. The article listed all kinds of reasons why people may forget their children — most were to do with work, mentally reminding oneself of chores such as picking up the dry-cleaning, thinking through the day, etc.  It suggested that you put your shoe, your lap-top, or your office keys with your child so that when you remembered that item, you’d retrieve it, and voilà there would be your child as well. So. You’ll remember your laptop before you remember your child. Hmmm.

The scary thought is, is this where our society is heading? Are conference calls getting top priority? Is the dry-cleaning really more important than the baby? Is Siri becoming more loved than little Susie? Is life really so hectic and our attention spans fragmented into such short spurts of linear thought that without an Outlook reminder to help us, we’re in danger of forgetting the existence of our children?

Have we become so selfish in our lifestyles that our priorities are no longer found in the car seat? I’m sorry, but in my opinion, kids are simply too important to forget; if you do get so distracted that you can’t remember you have a child, maybe, just maybe you shouldn’t have one.

Can we have some gun sense…maybe? Even just a little?

I know this is a hot topic right now, but it seems like over the past couple of years the issue of gun control has come up more and more frequently. Back in the day there might be a heated debate over mimosas at Sunday brunch, then in a fit, you’d slap a new bumper sticker on your car that says “We Need Idiot Control, Not Gun Control” or “Gun Control Means Using Both Hands” (depending on what side of the fence you argue).

Now—and you’ve probably gotten by now that this is a running theme of mine—social media has forced positions to be even more bitterly defended due to the great shield of distance.

The response to the terribly tragic death at the shooting range in Arizona by a little 9-year-old girl who lost control of an Uzi has brought out all sorts of gun control opinions on Facebook forums. A friend of mine recently posted something akin to “oh great, now all the gun control nuts are going to go crazy using this incident to back up their stupidly zealous claims that we need more gun control.”

And I’m over here like “well, yeah, duh.”  I mean, I’m sorry if people are going to pathetically use the accidental death of a human being by a now horribly traumatized juvenile as a reason to maybe rethink our gun laws. Excuse them for being so out of line! Why would they ever think this would be a great time to maybe bring up reform measures to our fire arms policies?

Can you taste the sarcasm? Cause I’m laying it on pretty thick. In all seriousness, it does seem that a point-blank shot to the head brought about by a child would be a great jumping off point for at least talking about the need for more gun control, especially as it pertains to children.

I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a gun control nut who wants to dump every piece of artillery into the deepest, darkest depths of the farthest ocean — because that’s not who I am at all. Gun control does not always mean anti-gun. Sometimes it just means being sensible. I’m all about moderation; moderation that perhaps prohibits a fourth grader from firing military-grade firearms. Is that too crazy of a thought? If someone uses a Dora the Explorer backpack, can we maybe consider keeping them away from Uzis?

I know I’m bringing the questions up, but I highly doubt the NRA is listening. I mean just two days after the incident they tweeted a highly informative article about the “7 Ways Children Can Have Fun at The Shooting Range.” So kids having access to the guns are not a problem in their eyes. Let’s not stop it, they say. Let’s keep it going, tweak it a little, and hope that it doesn’t happen again.  Really?   Was this a sane, or even appropriate, response to such a horrific tragedy?  Many things that people and organizations do these days worry me, sadden me and sometimes leave me with my mouth gaping open in awe.  However, this one…this one took the cake.

At the end of the day,  I can’t help but think that one simple common sense law or age restriction could have prevented such a tragic event… and kept a young child from being scarred for life.

Trading Up

I have an idea! It’s perfect if I do say so myself. Let’s turn in grandma and grandpa for newer models…

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the traditional role of grandma and grandpa. It’s a real treat for young kids to go to the grandparent’s house while mom and dad are working – grandma will bake cookies and other goodies and let the kids eat all they want. Grandpa will take the kids fishing or to the park or somewhere fun.

But sooner or later there will come a time when grandma and grandpa just can’t hack it anymore. Grandma no longer bakes and can’t do certain things anymore because of arthritis. And Grandpa just can’t move like he used to, his knees pop and his back aches…what fun is it going to the park when grandpa has to use a scooter?

Let’s forget about all the wisdom and love grandma and grandpa have provided over the years and can still provide.  No baking, no trips to the park? No need to visit them any more.

But…mom and dad desperately need the time off that those visits to grandma and grandpa used to provide.

So as I said, I’ve got the perfect solution!

Take grandma and grandpa to a shelter where they can be quietly put down (or not so quietly depending on the technique) – after all, they’ve outlived their usefulness – and exchange them for a new grandma and grandpa!  The newer model grandma can cook tasty treats, and the new grandpa will be able to get into a roller coaster with the grandkids and they can all get happily sick together.

Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this. Okay, yeah, I know. I’m melodramatic. But stay with me here for a bit.

I’m talking about people who have had dogs and cats for years and years (the animal’s entire life even), but once the dog gets too old to chase after a ball, or the cat has lost interest in playing with the little laser light and just sleeps all day long, lots of people just take them straight to a shelter – a kill shelter, mark you – because really, who wants an elderly dog or cat? – and replaces them immediately and without compunction with a new impossibly adorable puppy or a kitten.

So, a dog has given a family a lifetime of love, and now when it can no longer run and jump, but simply wants to sit by his master’s side and be petted, the family just gets rid of it? It’s disposable because it’s so easily replaceable, I guess. This is our society now. This is what we do. Aren’t you proud?

What prompts this ridiculous rant you ask?  Well, recently I saw this couple, with their kids in tow, dumping a 13-year-old dog off at a shelter and at the same time were adopting a puppy. There was nothing wrong with the dog except he was just too old.  I could see his confusion and terror, it was written all of over his face. He knew something was wrong but just couldn’t quite figure out what. The woman was even talking about what a great dog he was, he was just “too old.” They wanted a younger puppy around the house. And the shelter had no problem with this!

“Ah, yes, Fido’s outlived his usefulness, we’ll take care of him so you don’t have to (and you know what their idea of “taking care” of Fido will be) and here’s a brand new puppy for you – see you in another 13 years! Have a great day!”

You’ll be happy to know that a rescue friend of mine swooped in to save the day for Bruce (his name is Bruce). But what about all of the elderly dogs that are dumped daily into “shelters” (what a euphemism that is!)? I have a hard time with any animal being dumped at a kill shelter (there are so many alternatives) but it especially breaks my heart to see a dog who has lived with one family his entire life, has given his love, his loyalty, his everything, and that family who supposedly loved him has no qualms about abandoning him.

It’s a shame that those pet-owners/parents can’t be dumped by their kids when they get too old – or maybe they will be. Maybe their kids will learn from this…so much more than the parents ever intended.  And when they get older their kids will dump them in “a home” the first chance they get because they’re “old.”

old dogs

Is it too soon for another rant?

Okay folks, I know it’s early for yet another rant but I can’t help myself.  This latest “shake my head moment” is brought to you courtesy of a news article that just crossed my desk.

Remember the entry I just posted about a zoo’s worth?  And the one prior to that about the fiasco at the Copenhagen Zoo?  Well, it just gets better and better.  Apparently a zoo in Switzerland recently euthanized a healthy brown bear cub to make a point that “nature is cruel.”   I’m including the article below (click on the photo). In addition to making a point, the zoo also claims that the mother has rejected the cub and the father mauled the cub’s sibling and since they were allowing nature to take its course, they decided to euthanize the cub because with all things equal, it would surely die in the wild.

Now, I may be wrong (I’m wrong a lot), but from what I remember of documentary shows on brown bears, the parents do not raise a cub together. In fact, the only time brown bears co-habitat (usually) is when a mother is with her cub or cubs. So if they’re so concerned about the natural order of things, why is the male in with the female and cubs in the first place? It should just be the mother and her cubs. The male’s absence would surely negate any worry over mauling, right? Not to mention the female is probably depressed and rejected the cub because 1) her other cub just died a horrible death and 2) she’s living in an unnatural habitat with an unnatural family unit.

Here’s the kicker.  This zoo, which is so determined to do things naturally, hand-raised the parents of this cub.  Hand-raised. Because that’s soooo natural.  Why couldn’t they do the same for the cub? Simply remove it from the family unit where it was at risk and hand-raise it. They obviously have the experience and capability (as proven by the cub’s parents). Well, that’s where the “let’s make a point that nature is cruel” philosophy comes in.

Yep. Makes sense to me.

Click for news article

Click for news article