Friday Firesmith – The Lion and the Cobra

Back in 1986, I met a very young woman who started out being a friend and it turned into something far different one night. She introduced me to some of her friends, and at a party one night one of those friends was listening to someone I had never heard of before, a young Irish singer named Sinead O’Connor. It was O’Connor’s first album and only one person there had even heard of her before.

“The Lion and the Cobra” O’Connor’s debut album, was, and it still is, a raw and majestic, a manic and thoughtful, an energetic and soulful, masterpiece that drives and beats and soars. Step into it at your own risk for you’ll never be quite the same. I wasn’t and I never will be.

By 1990 the woman I knew was long gone, regrettably perhaps, but O’Connor stepped into the breach once more and released her most famous work, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”. With the impressive and breathtaking album, which would bring her fame and fortune, also highlighted her deep divisions with the mainstream of humanity which culminated with her spot on and righteous attack on Pope Paul II on SNL, in 1992.

From personal experience, I can tell you that attacks on religion aren’t always considered to be freedom of religion from those who are religious.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, O’Connor suffered terribly from the abuse of alcohol and depression. Her personal life became a roller coaster and she has been married four times to date.

On 8 August 2017, less than a month ago, Sinead O’Connor posted a twelve-minute video on Facebook claiming that she is living in a motel in New Jersey, and contemplating suicide. The video is a tough watch, especially for those of us who, back in 1987, listened to this woman scream her way into our hearts.

Take twelve minutes of your life and watch the video. It’s ugly. It’s not the same person, you will tell yourself, who let a tear slip down her face while singing, “Nothing Compares 2 You”. Allow yourself to believe that substance abuse is a personal choice and she got herself into this mess, and she blew a brilliant career, too. Indulge, if you care to, in the luxury of out of sight out of mind thinking, once she’s dead. Another spoiled rich singer, burnt out and flamed out, and so the story goes.

Except it doesn’t.

Now, take twelve seconds of that video, pick any twelve seconds, of that video, and instead of seeing a woman pleading for help because she’s mentally ill, instead pretend there’s a human being right in front of you who is bleeding out because they’ve been cut.

Why is your reaction to a mental illness so different than one where someone has a congenital heart defect? Why is someone who is bleeding out from their soul so very different from someone with hemophilia?

Do this now: Go find someone who’s lost a wife, or a husband, a son or a daughter, a loved one, a friend, a brother or sister, a mother or a father, and sit down and tell that person that suicide is a choice only, and that mental illness is something anyone can work their way through, and you have no sympathy for that sort of thing when there’s substance abuse involved.

Not interested? But were you leaning towards those thoughts during the video?

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
7+

Friday Firesmith – The Mexican Nukes

Back in 2002 or 2003, I worked with a guy who was convinced that 9-11 was an event planned by the CIA to declare martial law and take our guns from us. The “take our guns from us” thing took a life of its own during the Obama years even though there were no guns taken from anyone. That didn’t matter to those who feed on Conspiracy Theories. All that really matters is there be a theory made from whole cloth and for that theory to address some deep and dark fear. The more baseless these fears are the deeper they seem to be. Like people being afraid of snakes.

Seriously, this guy poured a six-inch slab for a doomsday bunker, stocked it with about fifty thousand bucks worth of guns and ammo, and inside that bunker is enough room for he and his family to stand around and stare at the guns. He’s been gone for a while, went off to another part of the world to work, but today he came back.

And he tells us there’s a nuclear missile, left over from the Cuba Missile Crisis of the early 60’s, which is now pointed at the United States. This missile, whose existence is known only to those who believe in this particular theory, is down in Mexico. Who has it, why they have it, how they hide it, why Mexico is allowing this one nuke arsenal to exist, and how this all connects to the attempted assassination of Ronal Reagan and the price of sugary soft drinks in Belgium is a bit complicated. But he has all the time in the world to explain it all to anyone who will sit down and listen.

I won’t. I simply haven’t the time.

Also, this man knows the exact count of missiles that are located in North Korea and can tell you how many of them are pointed at US service personnel in South Korea. He knows the location of the secret Korean launch sites that are hidden from satellites and he can tell you which US cities are most likely to disappear “under a mushroom cloud”.

And then there is this, like an Amway Scheme for Bunker Bros, this guy can get discounts on survival gear if he can talk other people into buying their products. There are drinking straws that will eliminate 99.9% of all biological agents, sarin gas, and the odor from a Wal Mart bathroom. There are radios that are immune from the “EMP pulse weapon” that North Korea has smuggled into the United States. And there’s a gas powered electrical generator that is so quiet you have to have a special tester just to know if it is on or off. There are clothes with special dyes that hide you from night vision and infrared scopes. There are MRE’s and dehydrated food by the pallet. There’s everything you need to protect yourself for what is going to happen soon, very soon, in fact, next week at the very latest, and maybe yesterday. There is everything you need!

Except, perhaps, reason.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
12+

Friday Firesmith – The Great Depressed

What this nation has lost, and the loss is grievous, is the generation who survived the Great Depression. My father was born in 1933, and my mother was born in 1938. Both of my parents lived in the aftermath of the Great Depression, and during the Second World War. The Great Depression was a time of extreme poverty for most of the people in the United States and World War II was a time of rationing and of hard work. My maternal grandfather died in 1970, and my paternal grandfather died in the 50’s. But both my grandmothers lived to be 90, and both of them were people shaped by the Great Depression.

When I was a teenager I was set to work in the fields. I threw watermelons with grown men who needed the job to keep their families fed and off welfare. We started work at dawn and we worked until it was too dark to see, and we did this six days a week until all the watermelons in a three county area were all harvested. I made seventy dollars a week.

I didn’t have the time or the energy to worry about my mental state of mind. For that matter, no one I knew did either. When it rained we would all crawl under the trucks like dogs and sleep until the rain had passed. I came home covered in dirt, mud, watermelon blood, insect bites, and exhausted. I also slept very well at night, usually from about nine at night until six in the morning, and woke up ready to go. But, you see, I never had a choice. My mother couldn’t afford to have me sitting idle all day long and doing nothing but enjoying my Summer vacation. What other kids got to do wasn’t something I could indulge in being envious over. I had to work. It wasn’t something that was an option.

My grandmother helped work the farm she shared with my grandfather, and she also ran a country store. I can remember when they got running water in their house, and the electricity consisted of a single bulb in each room, hanging from the ceiling, with cloth insulated wiring. Everyone had a garden, most people had some job, some skill, that they used to make extra money somehow, and everyone helped their neighbors.

When I ventured into Construction Management, it was the first job, first real job, that I had ever had that required more thinking than physical labor. I did more sitting than lifting. I did more paperwork than I did manual labor. I made a hell of a lot more money, and I never had to get out in the cold or the heat or sleep under a truck anymore. At the same time, I started having problems sleeping. I slowed down and I gained weight.

The last big project I worked, and it was over seven miles long, I never saw the first group of kids, running around exploring the activity. Hell no, I didn’t want them there, but at the same time, where were they? Inside, playing video games and watching instead of doing. In the fields now are people who traveled hundreds of miles to do the work the children of America are not required to do, cannot do, and will not do.

What is really striking to me, what is going to be fatal, is that children today are too lazy to play, and they are losing play as an art form, as a way of communicating with other children, and of pushing their bodies past a normal limit.

The children of the Great Depression had no choice but to live sparely, eat simply, and work, and play, hard.

What we have now is the children of the Great Depressed. We are a nation sad from the lack of purpose in our lives and spring in our steps. While our grandparents worked for a better life we were simply handed that life, and we have no idea what to do with it, and we have no appreciation for it.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
20+

Friday Firesmith – Binged

When cable became available back in the early 1970’s I never thought it would catch on. After all, television was free so who would pay for something that a simple antenna could pull from the air? And television wasn’t exactly a big deal to me back then. We got three channels. It’s was pretty exciting, however, when something really good came on. But mostly, there were vast time slots that had soap operas or old movies. It was better to be outside playing in the woods than sitting in front of a television.

I was ten or eleven years old when one of my friends was sitting in front of his color television, and his family had one of the first, and he would rather have sat there and watched an old “Gunsmoke” rerun than go out and toss a football. The divide between television people and the Anti-television people began that day with me.

I went from 1982 to 1992 living without a television in the same house with me. I lived with one between 1993 and 2010. After my last one died in 2010, I haven’t replaced it. A lot has changed since then.

When a person could rent a VHS movie there were always the late fees and the quality of the movie just might be second best. When Netflix began their DVD service, that was a good thing, really. But then came all the different services where movies, and then television shows, and then self-produced series could be watched on demand. Suddenly, binge watching became a thing. People missed work, came to work sleepy, or simply came to work and kept watching on their phones. There was no stopping this, it seemed.

The shows, “The Walking Dead”, “Breaking Bad” and “The Game of Thrones” seem to be the top binge watched shows. I’ve seen one episode of GOT, one episode of TWD, and not a single frame of BB. Yet I can tell you what all of them are about to a certain degree. People cannot stop talking about these shows, even when you express disinterest or feign death. To be honest, I had a friend who told TWD episodes with great clarity and really good story telling skills, but as far as actually watching it, no, I cannot.

It’s six in the morning, Thursday, August the 10th, the birthday of Robin McAllister, The Woman From Possum Holler. I’ve written about Robin before, long ago, and likely she’s married with kids and grandkids and is living without a second thought about a life she lived when she was nineteen years old. The only difference, the very only difference between the story of Robin and myself, and your story, your life’s narrative, is that I’m writing mine down, explaining what happened and why, and when, and you’re watching.
This doesn’t make me smarter or better or in some way more interesting than you are, no, not at all. The difference is I’m not buying into the idea that my time is well spent appreciating someone else’s story. Think about it; if you spend as much time writing as you did watching television just how well would you write? What stories would you tell? What has happened to you, and someone you once loved, that would strike a chord in someone far away?

Read some of the comments that people write when responding to my stories. You can see it. You can feel it. You can experience their lives in far fewer words than I use. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s magic.

And if you so choose, it is yours.

You are nineteen, or twenty, you are in love, where is that person now? Do you remember the birthday of this person?

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
7+

Friday Firesmith – Lost In Divorce

The porch swing was my first object lesson in divorce. Two friends of mine were splitting up, and I had known them both before they were married. They had two kids, and that’s when it sucks the most, and they slipped from getting a nice, quiet, easy, bloodless divorce to one that was sad, and it was ugly. They began to fight over money, then furniture, and then the damn porch swing, and the kids wound up watching their parents pay two divorce lawyers enough money to pay for a year of college in one day.

Get this: They didn’t even have a porch. The swing was in a storage shed.

I wound up with my sister’s two labs from her marriage. They’re giant dogs and they dig. I don’t like them very much but I am one of the few men who can say they got something out of a divorce they didn’t lose anything in.

I got off light and I know it. I lost one of the two trucks, the one she drove, and she had pretty much driven it into the ground anyway. The woman was hard on machines, I tell you. Other than that, there was some weirdness; she stole some CD’s that I knew she didn’t like or already had one of. She also lifted a drawing done by a friend of mine. I’m pretty sure she meant to destroy the drawing because it was a nude of a woman, and she was jealous of anything female and human. She also stole my yard rake.

Alcohol and I have had a lot of deep discussions about why a woman would take a yard rake, and why I didn’t say to myself when she and I were just living together, “That’s the type of woman that would take a man’s rake and never look back.” But that thought never surfaced before the rake went missing. And so I sat there one night, wondering at what point the woman thought, “My life sucks so bad I’ll take his rake, and that will show him.” But show him what? Rakes are relatively inexpensive things, like the CDs she took, and only the drawing couldn’t be replaced.

I made a list of the CDs she took and I replaced them, slowly.  I made a point of recovering the music I had lost, and I bought a new rake, a metal rake, one of the high-end yard rakes, that was gluten free and cordless, too.

None of this addressed the why. All the alcohol drowned the senses, numbed the feeling that I had been wronged, without looking the issue in the eye and asking the question of how someone I married morphed, somehow, into a rake stealer.

Just as the process of marriage, the ceremony, the public announcement of the union, the combining of possessions, the sharing of a bed and bodily fluids, makes two people one, the process of divorce divides. The lawyers, the paperwork, the public admission of defeat and giving up, the empty space, opens up a gap that is filled with petty feelings that rush into the vacuum. And rakes go missing.

What did you lose in your divorce?

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
5+

Friday Firesmith – The Road To The Wildlife

In front of my house, there is a driveway that runs through the front yard. It runs from east to west, true, from the paved road to my neighbor’s house by the lake, and we’ve shared it in perfect peace for over sixteen years now. He hunts, owns a lot of land around here for that reason, but I do not hunt, and so he’s happy about that. There’s a relative of his that owns some land out here, too, but we see him only very rarely, for he is even more reclusive than I. There is a ninety-five-year-old woman who is everyone’s aunt, and she lives in the house closest to the road, and she takes care of a man we all call “Uncle” but he’s pushing ninety himself. There’s a bevy of relatives who come to cook and clean for them, and to spend the night sometimes. But that wraps it up as far as human beings out here. I can go days without seeing anyone else if I choose to do so.

Back to the dirt driveway in front of my house. When my neighbor isn’t around, and mostly he isn’t, I use the dirt road to see who has come around during the night. I know all the dogs around here so I was surprised to find this track in the early morning dew.

I’ve got two Black Labs that are pushing over one hundred pounds, each, and this track was every bit as large as the ones they leave. But clearly, some very large dog passed through during the night. My neighbor, burly dude that he is, owns a toy poodle.

Large dogs aside, I’ve seen smaller canid tracks that had to be of a coyote and even smaller ones that must have been made by a fox. The Coyotes and I have formed a truce of sorts, and despite the misgivings of some humans, I intend to keep the peace as long as they do. The foxes come in two colors; both red and gray. I’ve seen more grays out here in sixteen years than I have reds, but the reds are always the most stunning to discover. (by the way, I discount the idea of the large dog track being a wolf)

Wild pigs and armadillos have dug in my yard on a regular basis, you know.

I caught a fleeting glimpse of a bobcat one night as I turned on the outside lights, and went out to look at the tracks but the cat left very little for me to see. They’re stealthy as hell, bobcats are, and I’ve seen two in sixteen years. Or the same one twice.

Once, there was a snake track, wide and winding, and I knew whatever it was, it nearly had to be venomous. But we’ve dealt with that before, too.

There have been many turtle tracks, odd looking things they are.

You can see a hole where the turtle dug a hole but didn’t lay eggs.

There have been two turtles that made an impression; the first is the one that made those tracks and was a soft shelled turtle. The other was a massive alligator snapping turtle who was not amused at the camera.

One alligator left tracks down the road. Just keep on keeping on, dude.

What’s the oddest wild animal that showed up at your place? (emus and peacocks do not count)

Take Care,

Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
5+

Friday Firesmith – Don’t Judge A Band By Its Cover

I don’t travel often and I don’t travel well. Just finding a pet sitter is a bitch because I have two pony-sized Black Labs, and I have two Pits. My normal sitter was out of town, the one someone loaned me bailed on me, and I have to go to Rover.com to find someone, at the last moment, who would drive out to the middle of nowhere to feed four dogs and to spend some time with them. That turned out, in the end, to be the easy part. I found a woman who clearly loved dogs and the dogs loved her.

This was my first road trip with the woman I’ve been dating for a while now. We were invited to go see an Eagles cover band and hang out with her sister down in Florida. We started out well, but then I-75 locked down on us because of a wreck. “Right, get off this exit, we’ll go around,” this woman tells me and she digs down into her cell phone and starts navigating like a boss. We popped out of the backroads a half hour later in front of a major wreck and didn’t lose that much time at all. I bring this part up because of the next part.

We got terminally lost.

Siri and her GPS both agreed that we were to go left, turn right, turn right, turn right, and finally we discovered we were being sent in a circle that landed up in a part of the town that we decidedly didn’t want to be in. The venue was nowhere in sight. We arrived fifteen minutes deep into the concert, strangers had stolen our seats, and we were ushered into two empty seats behind a wooden wall that was a meter tall. The wall was there to prevent us from escaping and to keep my knees tucked against my chest.

The venue was an old high school auditorium and the sound system sucked. The drums were too loud, the vocals sounded tinny, and the place was filled to capacity with aging hippies who loved the Eagles back in the 70’s and 80’s. The audience was balding, fat, drunk, and wait, no, that was me, nevermind, but I was one of the younger people there.

Okay, sound system aside, the band, whose name I never did discover, (they do covers, I’m not sure they have a name) wasn’t doing half bad. The crowd was easy and sang along with the more popular songs, but still, the sound system was killing them, or they just weren’t that good to begin with, I couldn’t make up my mind.

So there towards the end, the lead singer, one guitarist, the female background singer, and one of the other guys in the band, got together at the front of the stage, and I knew what song they were going to take a swing at before anyone else did.

“Seven Bridges Road,” I said aloud, and I was right.

If you want to make a complete and total idiot of yourself, Seven Bridges is a good song to attempt. The harmonies in this song, when done right, is an awesome thing. I could see this going badly for this group of people, and I could see it lasting for far too long, and ending only after half the people in the audience sold their souls to Satan to keep it from lasting a moment longer.

The lead singer did this countdown thing with one hand and then the four of them nailed that mother down.

“There are stars
In the Southern sky
Southward as you go….”

OH, MY GOD!

“There is moonlight
And moss in the trees
Down the Seven Bridges Road”

Those four people, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and without microphones laid it down. They clearly had practiced this song until each and every singer could weave his or her voice in with the others, flawlessly.

The audience, at first screamed, went wild, and then hushed. The voices demanded a silence where the pauses spoke as loudly as the lyrics and the lead singer, with his hand motions, as adept as any major symphony conductor, led them through Seven Bridges Road and they owned it, owned every second and every word of it, and when the song ended everyone there stood up and cheered and screamed.

That one song made the entire experience worth it. That one song told me these were people skilled beyond where they were playing. That one song convinced me to take another shot at hearing them live again, and I will.

Take Care,
Mike

Seven Bridges Road

 

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
8+

Friday Firesmith – Auto Pilot

When Toyota was having issues with their “Unintended acceleration” of new cars that sped up, seemingly, on their own, the spin was “floor mats” had caused this. No one really bought into this, especially the families of those killed in wrecks, but no one ever proved it was anything else either. Toyota was very quick to point out “there was no third party involvement” in the crashes which was their way of saying the vehicles hadn’t been hacked.

I listened to an interview with a Toyota engineer and he was as brutally honest about what was going on as anyone I had ever heard. He said that even with the problems with the vehicles, they were still infinitely safer than if all the computers were taken out and humans took over. He predicted that autonomous cars would be legally mandated one day. This was in 2009. I disagreed with him back then, but now, I’m leaning towards his philosophy.

You may not like the idea of getting into a car with a computer at the helm but the newer the car the less control you actually have. Computers brake your car before you can, saving people from being hit, keeping you from backing into things, and predicting accidents ahead of you while you are jamming out to Justina Beaver on your flash drive that holds 64 gigs of music, and songs by Justina Beaver.

Sooner or later, even with the ever-present danger of cars being hacked, and that’s an issue worthy of its own post, we are still all safer on the whole than letting naked apes with guns and alcohol directing where cars are going to go, and how fast they’re going to get there. Humans tend to overestimate how well they drive, and how well they are protected inside a car or truck. In case you missed it, all the major car companies do all of their testing at less than forty-five miles an hour. Anything faster than that and people tend to be killed or maimed horribly and it would be insanely expensive to try to engineer around it.

What will drive all of this, no pun intended, are the insurance companies. When someone pulled out in front of me a few years ago I wasn’t badly injured at all. But they popped me into an ambulance, took me to a hospital, and did a lot of imaging on my back and neck. A few hours with an MRI machine cost the other guy’s insurance company tens of thousands of dollars. You can bet right now the insurance people are pouring a lot of research money into taking that steering wheel out of your hands. Here’s why…

http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2017/06/23/road-rage-california-orig-bpb-vstan.cnn

People do incredibly stupid things on the road and never stop to consider the magnitude of their mistakes. The guy on the bike, by all rights, ought to be dead. The driver of the car that spun out is lucky not to be in prison for murder. The driver of the SUV that flipped didn’t have a damn thing to do with any of this, yet he’s spinning upside down totally unaware that there are morons trying to kill him with their inability to control their emotions or vehicles.

Imagine, if you will, what that incident, which I won’t call an accident, is going to cost. And it could have been a lot worse. The Toyota guy was right; even at their worst computers are still a lot safer than human beings at their worst.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
14+

Friday Firesmith – Prince

Today I sat down for the first time ever and listened to Prince. Most people have heard of him and he had many fans. Honestly, I never liked most of his stuff that was overplayed on the radio but then again, I never liked much of anything I heard on the radio. I had a roommate when I was in the Army who worshiped Prince and honestly, it was more humorous than anything else. Steve was so enthralled by Prince that he accepted an offer to take the handlebars of a motorcycle and ride. The ride ended with Steve having one of the greatest road rashes ever and being written up for a variety of offenses. But those were the day when I was focused very much on hard rock and my tastes were much more limited than they are these days.

Since those days of cassette tapes and boom boxes, the music I listen to expanded in all directions and included a lot of genres that weren’t even invented when I was younger. Except for Country. Country is just plain irritating. Music has come a very long way, and not all of it good mind you. Perfect Pitch has turned mediocre singers into superstars and there for a very long time a woman had to be skinny, half naked and implanted to hit the charts. A lot of that is still true, but there’s some change.

A couple of hours deep into my experiment with Prince and I’m still as underwhelmed as I was thirty years ago. Mostly, when I listen to classical music I can see why people love a certain composer. Beethoven’s work, known largely to the public by three or four overplayed pieces, is masterful. Mozart, who lived and died far too quickly, is genius. Even the lesser known composer produced music I can plug into a write for hours.

I can hit Pandora and listen to New Age music, or Celtic music, or even old FM based rock and work for hours. I can make a playlist of long classical music songs and drive back and forth to work all week and never get tired of it.

Pop music, selected songs from certain times of my life, can be cobbled together for a few hours and it’s a good thing.

Country, nope, still irritating.

Prince’s music seems to have reoccurring themes and most people who make music sound a lot like themselves all the time, but Prince seems to be hooked on certain beats and rhythms. It’s compelling, to be sure, but at the same time, I’m not feeling the love. I’m not feeling the same sense of awe so many people I know felt long ago and still feel today.

Supposedly, Eric Clapton, when asked how it felt to be the best guitarist of all times said, “I don’t know, you’ll have to go ask Prince.”

I don’t hear that either.

Overall, I have to say that I’m likely to like this music enough to listen to it again, but I’m not going to dye my hair purple or start wearing black to honor the day Prince died. Much like most of the fuss that goes on when a celebrity dies, Prince’s music is a product now of nostalgia rather than greatness. It reminds a lot of people of better times when there wasn’t that much great music being played, to begin with.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
0

Friday Firesmith – Freedom Of Speech

Several years ago I sat down to have a few beers with a journalism professor. She teaches senior classes on the ethics and laws regarding free speech, as well as trying to teach an increasingly tech-heavy crowd that one hundred and forty characters isn’t enough to read, or to have written.

She tells her new students about a woman who wrote horror stories that involved the murder of little kids. The tales were so gruesome the woman had a hard time finding a publisher and when the books were published everyone and his brother wanted the books banned. However, the courts ruled that a book being in exceedingly poor taste did not violate any laws. It’s a lot like the billboards that line the Interstate that advertise for strip clubs. They may make you turn bright red when your kids ask what a stripper is, but there is nothing illegal about it. That’s free speech. It’s protected under the law. You protect the fringe so it is easier to protect the mainstream.

Your first amendment rights end where someone else’s rights begin, generally speaking. You cannot stand up in a McDonald’s and start making puking noises. They can and they are very likely to ask you to leave or have you arrested if you do not leave. You cannot go to a library and start panhandling for money with your guitar and pet monkey. You cannot pee in public on the side of a tree no matter how badly you have to go. In other situations, all of these actions are legal. Sometimes they are and sometimes they are not, both legal and not legal.

If Jon decides to pull something I’ve written then he has a legal right to do so. I have no legal right to pursue justice against Jon for pulling an article, pulling everything I’ve ever written here down, or if and when he so chooses to do so, Jon can refuse to let me publish here for a good reason, a bad reason, no reason at all, or even if he thinks Gus wants him to. Jon has the right to publish what he damn well pleases to publish. He’s the owner and operator. He does the work here maintaining the site. My ‘write’ to free speech does not include anyone, anywhere, at any time, owing me a platform from which to freely speak.

Moreover, I have a lot of respect for Jon’s judgment. He’s a proven source of stability on the internet which is hard to find. Even if I didn’t think he was legally right, I would have to respect his judgment because it has proven to be good enough to get me here. We have rights, but we also have responsibilities. We have to behave in a responsible manner. We have to choose how outraged we ought to be when something simply doesn’t go the way we thought it might. Sometimes, outrage is a symptom of irresponsibility. We can learn a lot about a kid throwing a fit because he didn’t get the toy he wanted. Of course, from the beginning, the kid had no rights to the toy. More people ought to teach this to kids, and to some adults.

Stop and think about something for a moment, please. We all, every one of us, live in a world built by other people. Roads, houses, buildings, sidewalks, shelves, coffee cups, spoons, lights, cars, trucks, tampons, and even toothpicks. They get paid to do it. Some to their jobs very well. And everyone has the right to build in this world, or even when the situation calls for it, to tear things down and start over. Democracy, as it is practiced here in this country, or was at one time, works when people come together and make things and they make things happen.

You have the freedom, and the right, to say and do what you want to help this or to change it peacefully, or to do nothing at all.

But you have an obligation to be responsible. And you ought to respect what others have built unless you can do better.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
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