The Cautions of Censorship

I’m a writer, which means I’m very much pro the concept of “freedom of the press”. I’m aware that this freedom only goes so far. For instance, generally speaking private organizations can do whatever the hell they want and there’s nothing you can do about it from a freedom of speech point of view. This freedom really only applies on a governmental level. The government isn’t shouldn’t be policing citizens on their opinions. The idea that governmental officials can get the false narrative of “fake news” out there is appalling to me. This should be more appropriately titled “opinion news” or “biased news”, and both sides are guilty of only showing the cards that best fits the narrative that they want to put out there.

The notion of censorship bothers me. I write because I want to share my thoughts and opinions. I’m always careful to let people know that what I’m saying is opinions, not necessarily fact. I’m a blogger; I’m here to write opinions based on the facts as I see them. When faced with a real possibility of a slide away from my freedom to write as I wish, I do get scared. I see this shift happening, and it really scares me. When the press is deemed “the enemy of the state”, bloggers and writers are probably not that far behind so long as they don’t “fall in line” as they should. I wasn’t cut out for following blindly; my parents made me that way.

Social media is getting more and more… loose… with their ban hammers. I don’t like the thought that you’re one wrong meme away from Facebook jail. Do I find some things on social media offensive? Sometimes things cross a line that I don’t feel comfortable with. Do I report it or even do more than just scrolling on past it? No. Because whether or not I find it offensive or agree with it, they still have the right to post it. As long as they aren’t specifically calling for mass murders on people or specific groups of people, I don’t see a problem with it. If people want to post racist, homophobic things, then that just lets me see the people I don’t want to associate with. It isn’t anyone’s job to police them. If people want to post awful things on social media, let the real world deal with it.

For instance, a person posts a racist thing on social media and then gets fired. If you were dumb enough to post the thing to begin with, you deserve the real life consequences of your actions. I think the moment you start censoring social media this way, you make it harder for us to let social Darwinism sort itself out. People are going to be racist homophobes; banning their content on social media just emboldens them. It makes them a martyr of their hateful causes. I want to see who people really are, which is the benefit of the cesspool we know as social media.

Let’s ease up on talking about what offends us and work towards teaching the next generations to be better than us. That’s the only real way that we are going to change the world. Not by being anonymous keyboard warriors that hide behind a false sense of security in our blanket forts.

It Isn’t About a Law; It’s What the Law Stands For

When I first read about the now-infamous Georgia law, I thought it was an Onion article. To be fair, most news these days I end up thinking is really just an Onion article. In this case, it wasn’t. While I had a hard time finding what the law actually said without running into articles from both sides of the aisle, the general consensus seems to be the law is ridiculous. (If that part about the miscarriage is true, thanks to law makers for making innocent women feel more invaded after such a traumatic loss. Good on you, guys.)

But what I realize is that people shouldn’t be upset with this law. This law was purposely meant to be ridiculous. They want it to be challenged in the Supreme Court. Why? Because then, they could start their crusade to overturn Roe v Wade. Because now they have the potential to do this with a conservative judge majority. Because maybe next they should find other ways to control what people do with their lives. Perhaps ban people from having sex at all unless they want to be forced to have children. Maybe ban birth control, because we don’t think people should have that either.

You can’t go on a crusade about Sharia Law in other countries or worried about it coming here when you are trying to enact a Christian version in America. Where does the line get drawn? I’m not pro-abortion. When I was a scared, pregnant teenager I never even considered having an abortion. Why? Because it wasn’t something that I felt right doing. Just because I personally don’t agree with it, that doesn’t mean I don’t think there are certain circumstances where I would do it. If I had a child that was 100% going to die right away or have a miserable 2 hours of life where it suffers, I would absolutely get one. It would be the hardest decision of my life, but I can with a clear conscience say that I would never want my baby to suffer needlessly. I’m not pro-abortion. No one is pro-abortion. People are pro-choice. I don’t think it’s any of my business what another person does with their body. Their abortion doesn’t affect my life.

I don’t like the idea of a woman being able to lose control of their own body. It feels like a violation. It feels like you’re okaying someone to violate them and they can’t do anything about it. How many women died because of back alley abortions before abortion became legal? How come it’s all about giving birth to babies, but after that it’s good luck to them? Isn’t it more fiscally responsible to allow women to get this procedure instead of paying for children to stay in foster care forever because they aren’t a “desirable enough baby” or for the entitlements that the parents will need to support it? But go on, talk about life and liberty and all of that.

The law isn’t the scary thing. The fact that this law is purposely made to be awful so that they can force the courts to revisit Roe v Wade is the scary thing. What’s scary is what downward spiral is going to happen. What’s next? You have to leave religion out of making laws. There’s a reason why there’s a separation of church and state. What about banning other religions? Or atheists? Or forcing religion to be taught in public schools? Or overturning gay marriage? This is an attack on civil liberties. This is a scary turn for women, especially those who have been victimized and will have to face that for the rest of their lives. Go on. Let’s let a woman get assaulted, force her to have that child, go through the purpose of a trial that will only lead to the rapist going free because he wasn’t poor or dark enough to go to jail, only to have him turn around and get custodial rights to that child. Don’t believe in abortion? Don’t get one. It’s really that simple. Let’s go back to those draconian days where women are property that people can do whatever they want with. Or… let’s put up a fight.

The Local Government and You

Growing up in school, we were told the biggest fairy tale of our lives: that the government works for the people. We are taught that the government cares about its citizens, making bills to protect us and listen to us. If they don’t, you go out and vote and make a difference. As an adult, you get hit with the crushing reality that the government doesn’t work for us: they work for whatever will get them the most money and re-elected. Yes, on a much grander scale this accurately describes the federal government but there is still the misconception at the local level that us citizens actually have a voice. Spoiler: we don’t. And the thing about voting? The citizens need to educate themselves and have actual choices to make the changes that are necessary. We don’t. The only politician that I follow in Chicopee that seems to genuinely be concerned with its citizens doesn’t even get a second glance from voters.

When you become a homeowner, you realize how terrible your local government can be. For instance, my mortgage went up as it seems my property taxes went up. What did I get in return for these taxes? Are my teachers getting anything that they are asking for so that they can better serve my children? Nope. In fact, they are still trying to negotiate terms of a contract that ended a year ago (Last I saw anyways, I could be wrong in which case feel free to correct me). Also in fact? They are shuffling around teachers/administration in a manner that may negatively impact the education of my children. They were even discussing getting rid of the Pre-AP program at my son’s high school, a move that actually upset my child. That tax money didn’t go to our schools.

Well, at least we kept our free trash pickup right? Except we really didn’t. We were given a trash barrel that fits 2 trash bags in it and then we have to pay $5-$10 for extra bags if we need to. I live in a house with 2 children and my recycling is so full that by the bi-weekly pickup, I have so much recycling accumulated that I can’t do anything with and it keeps building up. I’m certainly not the only family in the city with this issue. Does that matter? Nope. So where did our money go? Well, a conspiracy theorist may point out that the Mayor’s street is getting redone again…

My husband and I are reasonable people. We follow the rules. We donate more than our fair share of supplies to our elementary school because we can afford to and other parents may not be so lucky. We do it because it helps the teachers and by helping our teachers, we are giving our children the best chance to succeed. We don’t even complain about much to the city. Our only complaint has ever been: Can you fix the parking situation on our street?

A backstory. We live on a horseshoe type street. Our house is on one side of the curve, the Inkedparkingsituation_LIside where there is a sidewalk that leads up to the school and playground behind our house. A sidewalk that all the neighborhood kids need to access to get to school or their bus stops. A sidewalk that frequently gets blocked by cars. This curve has cars parked alongside it pretty much all the time, only allowing 1 car to make it around the curve, if they’re lucky (as you can see). Larger vehicles? Those aren’t so lucky. For instance, 3 times trucks have ended up on my property. They drive down the street, which they have no business being down anyways, and end up needing to back up. The problem is backing up with an 18 wheeler. This one incident is a truck that managed to come up several feet onto my property, nearly hitting my tree. In an incident that occurred yesterday, 3 pots and 2 lights were destroyed. Annoying, yes but they were close to the curb so I realize there’s nothing we can do. My neighbor? The tire tracks are further up his lawn than mine. 3 incidences where trucks ended up my property probably exceeds the reasonable limit. If I didn’t have a hill on my property, those trucks could have destroyed my home. There was also this really cool year when my son took a special needs bus to school. 3 times (at least) the bus couldn’t get him because they couldn’t get up the street. Reported it to the city, and got the response of: “Parking on this street is a known issue.” What is a known issue? Does it mean that it’s known and you don’t care to fix it? For the record, other times I just met the bus at a different stop to ensure he made it to school. One time the bus driver kept honking her horn at everyone until people started moving their cars so she could get by. I miss her.

See what also happens because of the parking situation on my street is that fire trucks and ambulances have some trouble getting around the street, sometimes even requiring one of them to get out to help the driver back up and move forward for 10 minutes while trying to get around this street. What happens in an emergency because of those 10 minutes? People could die. Does that matter? No, apparently not. What if my kid is having a medical emergency and the vehicles couldn’t get to him in time and he died? This is a valid concern that I have. There are other kids and elderly people on this street. This is a valid concern that they should have. (Side note: absolute props to the police and fire department. I don’t want to sound like I’ve insulted them because I have never had a negative experience with them. They were always kind, helpful, and they do a lot for our city.)

Now I know…. “instead of ranting on your blog that no one sees about this maybe you should contact the city”. After the first incident 2 years ago with the “Known issue response”, a second report about the sidewalk being blocked where we got a “Call dispatch next time.” (For the record, the car stayed there for another day without any recourse if memory serves me correctly.) I decided to email every official I could think to. Paper trails are a more effective approach I find. They can deny a phone call, but not electronic communications. It’s a safety concern and I worry for the day when something happens because of it. What if my kid was on the lawn when a truck did this? As of the writing of this a day later, I haven’t received any email back. Even a courtesy “we’ll look into this matter” would be less infuriating than no response.

The moral of this story: the government doesn’t care. And the only people that do seem to genuinely care never get the chance to help us. Chicopee needs a change in leadership, a shakeup. I hope it happens soon. Our schools deserve better. Our government employees deserve better. Our citizens deserve better. Most importantly, our children deserve better.


But Boy, Am I Tired

I’m tired. I am tired that we live in the world we live in right now. My latest release, a short story, was supposed to make me feel better about the social climate of the world right now. “How Not to Be a Bully: The Guide to Being Kind That We Shouldn’t Need” was inspired by this hatred we seem to have towards each other. It needs to stop. It has to stop. Our future generations are depending on this to stop now. They are going to be poisoned and the future will be full of people who think that a reasonable conversation is one where people hurl insults because the other doesn’t agree. What happened to that time when people could sit down across from each other and say “Well I believe this and this is why” and the other would say “Well, I don’t and this is why”? Is that really so hard?

Over the weekend, my family (I include my husband’s family as my own) took the annual trip up to this gorgeous orchard in the mountainside for apple picking. After having a great time enjoying the Pats game on my phone while picking apples, we went to the car to drop off the apples to sit around the stunning view and enjoy ourselves. (Even living in Massachusetts, the views here never get old.) As we were walking back, we heard screaming then saw a truck angrily pull over and everyone started piling out of the vehicle. I didn’t know what was going on until I noticed the signature red hat that we are all familiar with. That’s right, two grown men got in a fight about politics in a place where families are trying to enjoy their Sunday afternoon. Apparently the anti-Trump person said something to the Trump truck group and the Trump truck group felt the need to pull over, pile out of the truck, and get aggressive back. I told them to please not swear in front of my child and the Trump person turned on me. “It’s that f_ing snowflake’s fault. He disrespected me.” “When you got out of the car instead of ignoring it, you became just as guilty. Grow the hell up.” The very kind woman at the orchard apologized and asked the group to get back in their truck and to leave. The other guy, just as guilty in this for starting it and continuing it, should have also left for being a nuisance. He said it started over the other guy insulting his wife. My opinion: Ignoring people is a lot better for everyone. I again ask “Is being kind really so hard?”

Instead, we live in a world where people are constantly putting each other down. It is easier, I suppose, to lump everyone in with hateful words rather than being open-minded. We all are entitled to having a specific set of beliefs. I really like to hope that people can sit down with each other and have a reasonable conversation without the terms “racist Republicans”, “snowflakes”, or “libtard” ever being mentioned. It’s a foolish dream, but one that I have no less.

The thing is… this is not something that we can’t achieve. It can happen if people learn to put their pride aside, stop thinking that they are smarter or better than anyone out there, and just listen to another perspective. As the expression goes: “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”

I can start by making this very simple for you. No, not all Republicans are racist, uneducated, misogynistic white men. There are some but that does not mean all of them are. Not all Democrats are “snowflakes”, whiny liberals who are offended by everything. There are many people who are offended by everything, on both sides of the aisle and many “whiny” liberals but not all Democrats are any of those things. Independents are not wishy-washy people that can’t choose a side. These are people who realize that both sides have their flaws and would rather vote on political stances rather than a political party. I am a proud Independent and I know exactly how I feel on every political topic and that is what decides my vote. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Catholics are pedophiles. Not all Puerto Ricans and minorities want to live off of welfare rather than work. Not all cops are corrupt murderers. However, all politicians lie. That is a fact that we can agree with. (Just kidding… there may be one or two out there that don’t.)

The point is that this is getting out of hand. We’re Americans, dammit. We have the right to an opinion without getting insulted for it. If someone is telling you something, you can fact check them. However, that doesn’t mean a person is insulting rather they are just trying to point out that you may be missing some information that can be helpful for making an informed decision on any topic. If you don’t want to listen, that’s your right but in neither case should anyone spend any effort insulting each other. What does that even prove? That the other person is right about their preconceived notion of who you are? We’re better than that. We have to be better than that. (Shameless promotion incoming) This is the whole point of my short story, which is now available in eBook format on Amazon.

Celebrities and Politics: What You Need to Know

You know what’s great about America: freedom of speech. We have it. Our politicians have it. Our celebrities have it. We should appreciate this more than we do. We are lucky to have this, especially as so many people across the globe do not have this luxury.

I’m going to let you in on a secret that you may not know: You also have the freedom to ignore another person’s freedom of speech. They say something that you don’t like? Guess what? You can smile, not, and ignore it. Don’t like what celebrities have to say? Ignore it. I record award shows so I have the ability to just fast forward through things. Don’t like how MSNBC leans their commentary? Find one that leans to your particular bias or interest. We have the ability to choose. Isn’t it great?

Do I think that maybe the celebrities at the Emmy’s laid it on a bit too thick? Absolutely. Am I complaining about it? No, because they have the freedom to do that. I just fast forwarded when it got annoying to me and moved on with my life. I will watch every other awards show for as long as they have them and do the same thing. I enjoy watching shows get recognized. I like the debate of why a specific show should have won. (Though I am quite happy “Big Little Lies” won so much. I loved that show and I need to read that book.)

You do not have to agree with a person’s beliefs. I know, this can be SOOO hard to understand, especially in today’s political and social climate. I don’t particularly care for pretty much anything I have ever seen Tweeted out by James Woods; in fact, the most recent tirades are a bit off-putting. Is “The Virgin Suicides” still one of my favorite movies? Absolutely yes. I thought he was excellent in it and the movie was an overall fantastic piece of work. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it already. (I did read the book, and the book was really also fantastic.)

The point is, suck it up buttercup. The celebrities chose to use their platform to say what they felt. If you had that same platform, you can get up there and say how you feel. I would hope that you would give them the same exact respect that you expected from them. Though, spoiler alert: You will probably get the same exact horrid response that you gave them. As long as you aren’t using slurs, hate speech, or bullying behavior, you can really do whatever you want and I really don’t care. However, I am all for the “Punch a Nazi” movement. It’s as American as you can get. Also bonus points for Spicey, who really seemed to have a sense of humor about everything.

Insert Controversial Political Title Here

I’m tired of hearing about the election. It ended. It’s done. Hilary lost, unfortunately that ended up meaning Trump won, and that’s the end of it. (Before I get “liberal snowflake” commentary, I welcome you to read my posts about the election where I was against both of the major party candidates. I did vote 3rd party and I’m not ashamed of that.) Do I want to hear about it being rehashed all of the time? Nope. There are certainly more important things that should be addressed in the media.

Instead, we have to listen to election stuff. Stuff that happened a year ago. Now, I’m not even going to touch the Russia thing here. If something illegal did happen, then I would hope that justice would take place. My issue is listening to news articles every day about “How Hilary Lost?”/”Why Did Hilary Lose?” I really don’t want to hear her rehash everything with excuses of why she lost. “I should have been more aggressive with Trump.” “Russia did it and I should have been president.”

The fact is that Hilary only got as many votes as she did because she was the Democratic candidate. That is a reality. I don’t think it had to do with women voting. It was a party line that people didn’t want to cross, especially not for Trump. “She was the qualified one.” Qualified means nothing when it comes down to making the American people decide. Just look at all of the past winners on reality television shows. Most of the time the most talented one doesn’t even win.

I can tell you exactly why she lost, as someone who has pretty much voted for every political party at one point or another. It had nothing to do with the fact that she was a woman. There may have been a bit of sexism but not enough to make her lose by that much. She lost because she ended up being a less likable candidate than a reality star that turns different shades of Cheeto. She lost because she seemed to act like she was entitled to the White House. She lost because she definitely did shady things with her emails and perhaps even shady dealings with her foundation. She lost because she thought the celebrities she had on her side were going to be enough to carry her to the win. She lost because she didn’t appeal to the everyperson. She lost for so many different reasons that you can’t even pinpoint exactly one that did it.

Do I think that Russia interfered with the election? I don’t know. I don’t know all of the facts and unlike some people, I refuse to make a judgement without knowing everything. They probably did, but they probably did 10000 times before and not just in America. Does it make it right? Absolutely not. The bigger question is “Did Russia interfere enough in the election to make her lose?” Maybe instead of getting mad at Russia for revealing the shady behind the scenes disaster that was the DNC, maybe you shouldn’t have rigged the election to put a losing candidate on the ticket. Maybe they thought the Clinton name would make the election a sure thing. Maybe they thought they would win because “Look at us, we’re the progressive party that put a woman on the ticket”. The 3rd parties have been doing that for a while, you’re not the special for doing it. Would the election have gone a different way if Bernie had one? I think so, but I’m just a writer spewing opinions rather than a political pundit that lives and breathes political theory.

So instead of complaining about the million reasons that you lost the election, do something else to create change. Volunteer at soup kitchens. Do backpack drives for kids who need school supplies. Support the arts in schools. Raise awareness of genocides, the need for vaccines and medical treatments across the globe. Do something instead of whining about what you could have done differently. Prove all of the doubters, including myself, that you would have been the better choice. (Though to be fair, I did think both major party candidates were awful choices.)


Random Thoughts That Might Make You Hate Me

I can’t help but to sit and let my mind wander. And it definitely wanders all over the place. Elections, current events, whether I have pity for people, and people and their opinions. Then, while my mind ran away from me when I sat down to make my post, I realized I had no idea what to post about. Rather than admit defeat though, I decided to share my wandering thoughts with you. Then I thought, “I’ll probably upset a lot of people with them”. Then I considered that and realized I would probably upset those people in real life anyways. What do I have to lose? So here are my random musings of the day.

To start with, I was watching a morning show I tend to watch and they were discussing about how a ESPN commentator was discussing Jason Collins and his announcing his sexual orientation. He said about how sex outside of marriage was a sin, and so was being gay. I didn’t care, he’s a guy saying his opinion. Everyone who didn’t agree with him about homosexuality being a sin became nasty, spiteful people. Do I agree with him? Absolutely not. But I didn’t see people who disagreed about sex outside of being married was a sin also feverishly defending their views. Last I checked, he was a “commentator” and that means he is paid to give his opinion. Not everyone is going to agree with everyone. If you someone based solely on their opinions, what makes you really better than they are? I don’t agree with him, but he’s not on a soap box, calling for homosexuals to be tossed into a fiery pit. He stated an opinion. Now, if they force their opinion on other people and it affects their business life, then you can get aboard the “fight for your freedom” train. Until then, let a guy who’s paid to give his opinion have his opinion, it’s his right to have it whether you agree or not. Welcome to America, the land where you can tell other people how to think by bullying them. Besides, people shouldn’t think too much into it, I never even heard of either guy until this whole thing happened and I’ll probably forget the commentators name tomorrow.(I did need to look it up, and kept forgetting it so I felt that it wasn’t actually important to the point.)

I thought about pity and the type of person I pity. I realized I don’t actually “pity” anyone, that seems like such a negative term.  I feel bad for people who are forced into a life they can’t seem to get out of because of bad luck after bad luck. I don’t feel bad for ones that don’t try. I feel as bad for people like that as I do a drunk driver that kills himself in an accident. You knew better than getting into that car after drinking, and you died a horrible death. No, I don’t feel sorry for you for causing your own misery. People don’t realize consequences and actions, and these days no one ever makes people face them. Life can be crappy, but are you going to sit around crying about it or are you going to stand up and do what you need to in order to make the situation better? If the answer is “sit on your butt and feel sorry for yourself”, then why should I feel bad for you? The answer is “I shouldn’t”. We were given free will, and no one commands our lives but us. You want that job, work your butt off and get your dream. Eventually it’ll happen, with enough will and effort.

I know, these two paragraphs have probably upset some readers. But I write to put my opinion out there, and if you don’t agree then you don’t agree. I don’t think I should have to change what I think to make people like me, I’m only me. I don’t ask you to agree with my opinions anymore than I ask you to agree with opinions of people I don’t agree with at all. (See above.) Overall, my main point is that everyone should have the right to say what they believe without a fear of people egging their house or stalking them into the streets assaulting them. I don’t want to have people accuse me of being anti-gay because I said someone who believes homosexuality is a sin should be allowed his opinion. The great thing about people talking about their opinions, is if you don’t agree with it you can ignore it. That doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to say it.

It’s Easier to Ask for Forgiveness Than It Is To Get Permission

Every time I see friends of mine with their partners, I always give one bit of advice: It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission. I don’t do it to be serious, but because I find it hilarious. It’s not real advice they should listen to, it’s the rationale you give yourself when you do something you wanted that your partner disapproved of. What kind of relationship is that, when people do whatever they want without any regard to their partner? I sat around considering this idea of relationships when a few of my friends “put a ring on it”, and are embarking on a fantastic part of their life I’m glad I can watch and say I’ve been through successfully.

The real key to success is not letting the other forget the person they really are and allow them to forget who they are. I used to think that my husband changed me, that he calmed me down but allowed me to still be the quirky and neurotic me who still regains a bit of free spirit. I thought about that, and I realized he didn’t change anything about me. The “calm” that I have now has nothing to do with my husband at all; it’s a result of the natural maturity that occurs as we age. Maturity doesn’t mean you because some boring older version of yourself, it just means that you outgrew everything that differentiates an adult and an adolescent. I wonder if that means that getting drunk on wine and not vodka is a part of this maturity.

In this growth, I wonder if that’s what the difference between a “relationship” and a relationship. A “relationship” is where two people come together under the façade of an actual relationship, but really is an ownership or superficial version that most of us go through in high school. A relationship is where two people grow together, where compromise and common ground is the key and you push each other to follow dreams and allow each other to be the person you fell in love with. It’s easy to be with another person, it’s not easy to be a part of another person’s life. As  I near 30, I’m glad I found this person that follows my idea of what a relationship should be. I hate dating, and I’m definitely glad not to have to be a part of the crowd every again. But what better way to go into the “age of actual adulthood”, than with a partner and not an owner or alone.

People will probably disagree with me, that’s perfectly fine. I’m probably narrow-minded to believe that a relationship equals a partnership. I firmly believe that though, and if you’re constantly bending or miserable then that’s really your problem and I don’t feel guilty that I’m not. I should, but I don’t. It’s not easy to walk away; it’s easier to allow yourself to get lost. Some people like the easy way out. I don’t. I don’t like to settle, I don’t like to bend and I certainly don’t like the idea of not being myself. I wish everyone else the happiness I’ve found and I urge everyone to find a partner too. Notice I said partner.