Friday, October 5, 2018

Crest and Fall

Today marks the end of #MeToo and any offshoots that came from this up swell of a movement. I think the only one ever to serve jail time will be Bill Cosby and the odd parallel of Black Lives Matter stands out as while Mr. Cosby was a predator he was no less one than the dozens of other famous men who have since been revealed but almost all of them are white. There is the definitive of White Privilege.  That said Dr. Nassar was an exception but the sheer multitude of women and many of them young, white and privileged led to this but there have been many others since and little has been done.  Remember the male wrestlers and Jim Jordan? Nahh me either.

Kavnaugh will be placed ordained, thrown, confirmed or whatever verb you wish to use into the Supreme Court and that like the one case that preceded decades earlier was again about being White and being in a place of privilege and refusing to face facts and truths to less appear as a Racist. Today it is about sex and power and they are now forever aligned as truth. You can do anything you want and as long as you are white, well connected and a well educated male you are pretty much good to go.

There are more than enough stories about Kavanaugh and his supporters (who apparently are the only ones the FBI spoke with) and many detractors (with whom they did not) whehI found this article in the New York Times who note many members of of Team Kavanaugh,  are women. But let us not forget the privileged set of his alma mater, Yale,  and especially that of another essential alumnus, George W. Bush, also a drunk and an idiot, who was one of his quiet supporters. Had Trump who idolizes the Ivies known that I suspect that would have been the tipping point in which he would ask Kavanaugh to withdraw; which having good taste and intellect should have propelled Kavanaugh to regardless. Instead he will go forward and destroy women's rights and their choices for decades to come. Hell hath no fury and all that.

Trump's mockery is one thing but the real thing is that the crowd cheered. The New York City Ballet rocked with scandal found a vial note attached to the stage door defending the men accused and since released from the company and this is not a singular event.  As Louis C.K. ventures out and others come forward with plans to re-join society they have been met with applause.  I have no problem with that if they are given a short leash and realize that this time the rug won't just get pulled out from under them it will be burned. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice...

But I really feel in earnest that women our time has come and gone and will join the ash heap of Occupy Wall Street and the others that followed. And yes I think Black Lives Matter too is coming to an end. We have so many fights, so many issues I don't even think the kids of Stoneman Douglas have the energy to do more.  And they are kids so they need to find a life before taking on others.  We have short attention spans and even shorter empathy.

The smears, the lack of adequate FBI investigation, all tell the truths that white men in power wish to remain so and they will do whatever it takes to do so. I have worked in Education a long time and if you knew that I never worked for a white man in my entire professional life and only knew of two Administrators in Seattle that were you might be surprised. I suspect that is why all the reformers are white men.   Here in Nashville almost all the entire personnel here are Black and the Board here has only one white male elected; however,  he is known as a well connected bully for powerful white men, particularly Phil Bresden who is running for Senate. The Council here has a diverse component of faces all Black or White as for any of the other diverse population they tout themselves as possessing, it is clearly missing.  I am not sure anyone is even Gay so again, this is the City of It if it was 1950.  And is large as the council is in Nashville it is both a city and county wide office, so the competing interests and bizarre confusion that often results explains why it is the most inefficient of municipal boards.  When I think of Seattle I see its careful composition and from it endless talking which is known as the Seattle Process.  I see the point and in some way is too runs the tide of inefficient but then you have never been to Nashville where it is taken to new heights.  This is Southern rule/diplomacy or just idiocy.   And you wonder if this is due to the decades of poverty and racism and in turn lack of education where those who make it out do whatever it takes to stay out the rest be damned.  But all of the system that empowered this was established by white men and now they are determined to be its saviors from that which they created.

The reality is that Nashville is now being run by a white man with a well established family name and history and that goes far in the South. His predecessor clearly a "carpetbagger" is out for the count and I suspect it will be decades before they elect another woman in the gig let alone one not "from here;" She ensured that the perception of women are nothing but slatterns who given the opportunity will take whatever they want and her seduction of a married Police Officer which led him to lose his job and in turn use City money in which to fund their affair. #MeNot

The last few days I call this the Kavanaugh Affect where women have come forward to share their "truths" about sexual violence. And we have heard from Busy Phillips, Ellen DeGeneres, Connie Chung of late to add their tales to the endless rotation of #MeToo.  And at one point even I have to stop listening and caring. Would they give me the same courtesy? Would anyone give a shit if they were not famous? No.  Dr. Blasey was just a normal woman but the man she accused not, he was of privilege and of connections.  And the end justified the means and the means was debase, defame and ignore.  At one point I expected Trump to go "Liar Liar Pants on  Fire!" Then realize it was his pants that were aflame so that ended that.  But as we have come to learn that the Trump  family history and tradition was to lie, cheat, take and lie again.  Prices are paid for liars just not those rich and well connected.

What courage does it take to come forward?  A red badge? A promise to meet a celebrity? Cash apparently? What does it take?  Guts and the belief that those people, those fine educated people in positions of power that took oaths to protect and serve will at least listen and attempt to help you see the truth and in turn punish those who have harmed you.  Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Right now This American Life/Serial is doing their podcast about the Justice System in Cleveland. They spent the better part of a year covering many types of cases that walked through the doors of the Halls of Justice located in the downtown core.  I know Cleveland has a bad rap but it had some serious issues that truly deserved the moniker Black Lives Matter with the killing of Tamir Rice and the high speed pursuit that led Police to fire 137 Bullets fired into an unarmed car in 2012 which  did little to change the perception of the city as a neglected crime ridden one.    I loved the place and I found it again diverse in ways that Nashville wishes it was but as noted they try hard here to pretend that it is.   This is a city that likes to keep things in place and in history and they will never fail to remind you of such.   I find that a challenge to wonder how you can live in the now and ever move to the future when you are strangleheld by  that of which you had no control or involvement in. 

Listening to Serial I realized that Sarah made a good point that almost everyone in Cleveland is perceived to be guilty and at some time or another you will be brought in as it is inevitable.  That almost everyone who walks in carries an air that is one of stink.   The presumption of guilt enables those who bestow their services in jobs that are to defend, punish or uphold the law as literally saviors, from Judges who lecture endlessly to those who prosecute and in turn defend the accused all with a bizarre symbiosis that is largely co-dependent versus adversarial.  But it is that adversarial component that enables the cranks on this wheel to turn and watching Kavanaugh hearings has drawn attention to exactly how Judges are appointed and often elected without recourse and in Serial even one of the Judges who has been reprimanded several times continues on course to run his Court as a fiefdom. Will this in turn have a Kavanaugh effect where local communities will recall Judges or call them out as they did earlier in California?  There a Judge who was recalled for his sentencing over a rape case and in turn is this just and fair?  Talk about a stink in the air.

 Again when we have a monoculture - where all of the majority are like the other - where legislators are writing laws that often lead to sentencing laws that in turn give little choice to Judges to decide the outcome or in the situation or where there are no guidelines as we saw in the sentencing hearings over Naseff  it becomes at some point a Kangaroo Court.  In  reality most are simply revolving doors and treadmills where the accused and their representative (ever private Attorneys in most cases are upgraded public defenders) hustle in and out with little time to actually invest in what is a monumental situation in one's life. To the accused the first time is just that but to everyone else you are just another on just another day to whom they expect to eventually to appear and reappear.  And that is because the system is set up that way as  the poor,  largely faces of color are usually the largest cohort but there is they idea that everyone at one point will find themselves a guest star in the reality show - Law and Disorder.

We have come I believe to the tipping point and that Malcolm Gladwell defines as:  The moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.  Gladwell believes that any epidemic comes from those with a particular and rare set of social gifts.  In this case celebrity.  And even the reporter who was not breaking new ground regarding Harvey Weinstein was in fact a celebrity in his own right, Ronan Farrow, and without said fame I am sure the story would have been buried with the graves of other writers who tried before to expose the truth - David Carr anyone?

Any regular ordinary plain Jane unless she was raped and/or assaulted by someone of fame or infamy, meaning a local celeb or well known individual, will likely find themselves Kavanaughed.  Being mocked, debased, accused of a crime themselves and their lives destroyed.  Pro Publica investigated such a story about young woman more a girl charged with filing false rape claims only to be found to be victim of a well traveled serial rapist.   And while the young woman has gone with her life the costs of the two rapes, one physical, the other emotional will always be burdens and crosses to bear for life.  And if they do tell anyone it becomes a matter of who did you tell, when did you tell and why.  You cannot share the truth regardless as it will destroy you again.

I carry my bag it is tightly packed and at times like these I feel compelled to review the items within but at great risk to my emotional well being.  Rage is a fire that burns out of control and when you cannot act upon it you are consumed by it.

I am not saying women you need a big dose of STFU but we need a moment here to turn to the white men and ask them to carry this torch and burn this house down. It is right now their responsibility and they are afraid for if they do they know their monoculture will be destroyed.    You are a guest at that party so take it and accept that it is right of passage for all those invited.   So no it will not happen.  The crest of the water rose and it is falling. Accept it or be drowned by it.

Outlook Perspective
The Washington Post

I watched a rape. For five decades, I did nothing.
Many men have stories to tell and confessions to make. This is mine

By Don Palmerine
Don Palmerine is a former reporter and columnist living in Pittsburgh.
October 5 2018

I was both an observer and a participant in a teenage rape. I was 17, and it was 1969, about a year before I would be drafted into the Army.

I went to a small Catholic school in Pittsburgh called St. Justin, for the children of mostly blue-collar workers, and I had been invited to a party by a friend from another Catholic high school. Many football players from that school would be there. I wasn’t very popular with these boys at the time, so I went; I wanted to be friends with them. I knew a few of them and wanted to get to know the rest. These boys were from the suburbs, and their parents mostly had more money than mine.

I don’t remember the month it occurred or the exact town it was in, but I remember that the party was in an upper-class suburb south of Pittsburgh. I don’t remember how I got home. These details don’t matter to me. What I remember clearly was the rape. Watching it, for me, is like remembering where I was when I found out that President John Kennedy had been assassinated. There is a before and an after.

At one point, a boy told several of us to go outside and look through a window into the basement because another boy, a football player, had taken a girl there. (There were far more boys than girls at this party.) When we peered through, we saw the girl passed out on a sofa, her feet facing us. As the boy approached her, he waved to us, smiling. He proceeded to remove her jeans and then her underwear. It was the first time I had seen a girl naked. He climbed on top of her and penetrated her. She immediately woke up and tried to fight him off. At this point, we all scattered in the yard. No one said anything. There was just nervous laughter.

Eventually, we all went back into the house. I don’t remember anyone drinking, other than the girls. I did not drink anything. We must have gone into a bedroom, because the next thing I recall is standing with about 10 other boys around a bed on which a different girl had passed out. Everyone was touching her through her clothing. I placed my hand on her leg and quickly removed it.

One boy kept turning the lights on and off. When they came on, everyone removed their hands from the girl’s body. In the dark, everyone put their hands back on her. Everyone would laugh. It was some kind of game, and we all seemed to understand the rules. This happened four times, and then we all left the room. I’m glad it didn’t go further.

I recall the jocks ignoring me for most of the party, and eventually, I went home. I never saw those boys again, and the friend who’d invited me has since died. I hadn’t known either of the girls, and I never saw them again, either. A few months ago, I attempted to find the boy who had committed the rape, searching for old yearbooks and documents at the public library. But I couldn’t identify him.

I knew then, and I really know now, that I had committed a crime. I have felt guilty about it my whole life. I get angry when I think about my teenage self and those boys I wanted to impress. In recent days, listening to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford brought back these memories. I feel a lot of compassion for her. What she says she went through was so similar, and I know she’s telling the truth.

There were years when I didn’t think about that night. Serving in the Army made me forget about it, as did my college life and career. I was too busy to dwell on a teenage rape I witnessed.

But the guilt always remained, and the memory was still there. Even though I worked as a newspaper reporter and wrote a column for 12 years, I never wanted to write about the incident. Guilt had turned to shame. I began to dwell on it again only when all those women came forward about Bill Cosby, whom I had admired as a comedian. That’s how I told my wife and three boys around the dinner table one night that I had once witnessed a rape. We talked about it and concluded that it could still happen today. We discussed the Steubenville, Ohio, football players who abused a 16-year-old girl.

I wonder what happened to all the other boys who saw what I saw through the basement window. Do they think about it? Do they remember like I do? This could have been a normal weekend for them.

I wonder about the girls, how they survived that night. In 1969, there was nobody to turn to. They certainly wouldn’t have gone to the police — at the time, a subtle notion persisted that an assault was always the girl’s fault, that she shouldn’t have gotten herself into that position in the first place. They wouldn’t have told their parents, who would probably have scolded them. They are about my age now, 67, and I wonder if they had families. If they remember this night. If they told their daughters.

I wanted to tell this story because I believe it’s time for men to tell the truth about the ways they’ve abused women and what our role has been in creating a culture that tolerates this. We all have seen things; we’ve all heard other men talk. I remember sitting in a bar with some acquaintances about 30 years ago when one of the men, a local magistrate in a poor area of West Virginia, bragged about a system he had when pretty girls were charged with a DUI. He said that sometimes he would take them back to his office and offer them a deal. He would drop the DUI charges if they gave him oral sex. I squirmed in my seat. Was he just talking, locker-room style? Did it really happen? It didn’t even occur to me to report him to anyone.

My boys are 19, 17 and 11 years old. What I teach them about the treatment of girls is simple: respect, respect, respect. If they witness something like I did, go to the authorities. This is no time to worry about being a snitch. My two older boys are more aware about consent issues than I was at their ages. I reminded them that I was the same age when I witnessed the rape; my very first vision of sexual contact was a rape. My sons agree I was a foolish, immature teenager. They know I would never do anything like that again. They see how I treat their mother, which might be the best lesson I can give them.

Still, I wish I could apologize to the two girls at that party. I shouldn’t have watched. I should have helped. I hope they read this and take some small comfort from it.

I wanted to be one of the boys, those nice kids from a good Catholic school. And I let that overtake my conscience. What I got instead was five decades of guilt.

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