I am a liberal.

I am a liberal.  It’s not a dirty word.

I believe in equal rights for everyone, regardless of color or sexuality, and I don’t believe people getting those rights, or even forming affirmative action groups to facilitate those rights, in any way detracts from the rights you’ve always had and taken for granted.

I believe if the government/tax payers do not want to have to fund any part of women’s reproductive health, and believes a woman is solely responsible for her own birth control, then only she gets to decide what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, should one occur.  The argument that any fetus is “part his” goes out the window unless the responsibility of not becoming pregnant is also “part his.”  It’s not a hard concept.

I believe in feminism as the idea that women should have the same rights as men.  Real feminism, much like liberalism, is misunderstood.  Just because something empowers one group does not mean it has to threaten another.

I am a liberal.

I like to shoot guns and I don’t want your guns taken away. I do believe gun owners should be strickly liable for the whereabouts and use of their firearm at all times, even if they voluntarily lend it to someone. Perhaps then they will be more choosy in how they secure it and to whom they lend it.

I believe in helping the less fortunate, not just when it benefits me, or when it won’t cost me anything.  I believe in helping the poor, even if it means welfare, and I believe in helping the homeless, veterans, and refugees.  I even believe in helping illegal immigrants if they are children, because no child deserves to suffer for any reason.  I’d rather my taxes go to that than a Congressman’s salary or the interest on the national debt.

I am a liberal.  I am also an atheist. I don’t hate Christians and if you say Merry Christmas, I will gladly smile and say it back.  I believe if you can express your religion without fear of reprisal or death, you have religious freedom.  Just because you can not restrict others’ rights based on your religion, or force other people to say “under God” in the pledge does not mean there is a war on your religion.  It means you live in America, where everyone, not just Christians, have freedom of religion.

I am a liberal. I am not your stereotypical “extreme liberal,” and most of us aren’t. I am not intolerant of Conservative views unless they violate another person’s rights.  Again, let me reiterate, your inability to trample the rights of others does NOT constitute a war against you.

I am intolerant of hatefulness and intolerance. And to anyone who knows me personally, if you think that is a bad thing, instead of “agreeing to disagree,”maybe we should part ways.

lib·er·al·ism

 A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil andpolitical liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.

lib•er•al•ism

1. the quality or state of being liberal, as in behavior or attitude.
2. a political and social philosophy advocating individual freedom, representational forms of government, progress and reform, and protection of civil liberties.  (source)

 

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Umpqua: The Mental Illness Panacea as it Relates to Gun Violence

In the wake of another school shooting, people are choosing their bandwagons of blame and as usual, the top two contenders are “gun control” and “mental illness.”

To add some spice, this time, there is the added element of the possibility that the shooter targeted Christians that has the small but vocal segment of the Christian population already on the “persecution” train, practically frothing at the mouth.  But as much as they bug me, today I want to (once again) address the idea of mental illness as the “cause” of this scourge of school violence. Initially, I was going to let my last article speak for my feelings about this subject.  After all, it is very emotionally exhausting thinking about this kind of heavy stuff.  I’m sure you know what I mean.  Being inundated with awful news all the time takes its toll on a person.  But in the comments and discussion (hee hee…”discussion”) section of an article this morning, I came across some comments I felt needed engaging. (Sadly, this happens to me way too much and sometimes I should “engage” less with some of the more cretinous on the internet.)  But these comments weren’t too awful.

To begin with, I really recommend the article  to which I refer to…well, anyone.  It is a well thought out and informative view on the buzz word of “mental illness” in regards to gun violence.

One comment on the above article was actually valid and the others were typical ignorant (as in, underinformed) opinions from people who likely have never experienced real mental illness.

One commenter, claiming to be a retired mental health director, takes issue with the semantics of the article’s claim that “the mentally ill are 60 to 120 percent more likely than the average person to be the victims of violent crime rather than the perpetrators.”

His main point: There is not “The Mentally Ill.”  He states:

We are a diverse demographic, no broad statements can be
made about us.

We earn to the millions, hold every university degree, and
every professional, white, and blue collar job.

I agree. There is no “the” mentally ill, because speaking strictly using the DSM criteria, people with eating disorders would be categorized as “mentally ill” along with a host of other people suffering from afflictions that would have NO causative connection with violence. I myself am “mentally ill,” having suffered with OCD since I was a young child. There seems to be some misconception that because someone shoots up a place or kills someone else, they “MUST be mentally ill.” While I understand the desire to believe there is some answer or some easy way to detect and thus avert crimes like the Oregon school shooting or Newtown, it is a disservice to mentally ill people everywhere.

In a study of crimes committed by people with serious mental disorders, only 7.5 percent were directly related to symptoms of mental illness, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Furthermore the idea that it’s a simple correlation of mental illness ——> gun violence ignores the very big social component to these crimes and the reality that it doesn’t always take much for a “responsible gun owner” to become a criminal. It’s not black and white. The fact that an abused woman is five times more likely to be killed by her abuser if he owns a gun seems to support the idea that you can’t always tell by screening who would or would not become a murderer.  (To stave off the argument that domestic abusers already are criminals, do you think a psych exam or questionnaire could suss that out with enough accuracy to prevent murders or family annihilation?)
As I mentioned to the commenter, I do find the statement in the original article, “gun-owning, angry, paranoid white men,” to be very telling, because these “type” of people seem to be the ones screaming most loudly, to media and anyone else who will listen, for their “gun rights.”  So either facts don’t work in their favor here or the idea that you can predict who will be a mass shooter by a “type” is flawed.  You decide.

Moving on…

Next come the typical comments from ignorant people about medication for mental illness.  They run the gamut from suggesting that people who are mentally ill don’t really “need” medicine to the idea that maybe some kids just need a stern talking to from Daddy or the church pastor.

Well, yes…but that has nothing to do with mental illness.  We’re not talking about under-disciplined little shits who need a whooping or time out.  Although those type of self-indulgent, spoiled, and understimulated kids could conceiveably grow up to be disgruntled or angry adults.

Then there is the more ridiculous idea that drugs typically prescribed for many types of mental illness can actual cause a change in personality sufficient to cause a mass murder spree…

I’ll wait here until you stop laughing…

It’s ridiculous.  For one thing, refer to the above APA findings-  7.5 percent.

Secondly, while I am sure that overmedication has become an issue in our society, and many people think they suffer from any number of physical or mental maladies  (gluten free Prozac for everyone!) there are REAL people out there with these conditions, who are helped by medicines. I myself have suffered with OCD since childhood. Real OCD, not the , “ohh, I like things super clean at my house” self-diagnosed type.

One commenter mentioned that too much in psychiatric treatment with medication is trial and error.  To an extent, I’d give him that.  For instance, after years of trying different meds for efficacy, reduction of side effects, or safety during pregnancy, I have finally come upon one that works for me. When I speak to others with anxiety issues (because OCD is classified as an anxiety disorder) they often tell me they tried the med I am on and didn’t like it or it didn’t work.

Okay, but to address his idea of people as guinea pigs for psychotrophic drugs, let’s put this in perspective.  All people can’t tolerate all anti-biotics or all pain relievers.  People have different chemistries and sensitivities and doctors can’t always say why.  But you’d still likely take meds your family doctor gives you for a physical issue.  Is he using you as a guinea pig? The same idea goes for people needing psychotrophic drugs; different drugs affect people differently.
A commenter questioned the validity of the “theory” of chemical imbalance.  That actually has been proven, but even before there was quantifiable data to support the idea of the chemical imbalance, the theory was essentially proved, ipso facto that SSRIs work for depression and anxiety. SSRI’s are not your gran-mammas little helpers of yesteryear. They aren’t opiods, benzodiazapines, or anti-manics, so they don’t just “blunt” peoples’ moods or make their feelings tolerable; SSRI’s modify the re-uptake of neurotransmitters.

You would not tell a diabetic to go get a good stern talk from their Daddy because it wouldn’t help. Likewise, I never could “pray away” my anxiety and obsessions.  But these common misconceptions add to the stigma of mental illness in today’s society.

To conclude, aside from media coverage turning a killer into a celebrity and giving any disgruntled jerk with a gun a platform, there is no consistent answer for shootings like Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Newtown, the SC church shooter.  The details of the shooters all vary in age, agenda, mental state, social ties.  There is no single diagnosis to be shared between them, so to point a finger at mental illness as the “reason” for these tragedies is, well, a bit irresponsible, in my opinion.  Thanks for bearing with me.

AS always, feel free to comment, but especially given the sensitive nature of this topic, please be courteous.

Peace.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/03/us/how-mass-shooters-got-their-guns.html

You Have the Right to Shut the F*ck Up

I think this is the last I’ll say on this topic (and that includes responses to any irate gun owners.)

Do I think rights are important?  Yes.

Do I think they are guaranteed or owed?  No

Do rights really exist?  One would think a right is something that can’t be taken away or given.  Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, bearing arms… all can be taken away.  They are not guaranteed.

Unfortunately, there is little in this world that can not be taken away.  Most of the “rights” we have are “rights” that were given to us, either by law or religion.

We are born into this world naked.  We don’t come from our mothers equipped with a full set of rights.

According to Wikipedia and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, rights are defined as follows:

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory.

To me, the key word in this passage is entitlement.  I see a fair amount of abuse directed at Americans online, especially by non-Americans.  We’re “bullies,” we’re ignorant, we’re arrogant.

While I do largely agree with that assessment, it still rankles me to see an entire nation discriminated against based on the actions of a few, namely the government.

But, America does have a problem, and I think it comes largely from a sense of entitlement.  I honestly think our problem with violence in this country largely stems from that feeling of entitlement.  And we got that sense of entitlement from our own government and judicial system.  Our country was founded on some “fundamental rights”enacted by Congress.  Fast forward a couple hundred years to the land of frivolous lawsuits, some of which are actually won.

Between laws set forth and court rulings (judgments) on criminal cases and civil suits, our country has set a dangerous precedence.  They have given a lot of people in this country the mentality of a three year old, that being, “I deserve to be happy, I deserve to get my way, and if I don’t, I’m going to have a temper tantrum sue.”

I am sick to fucking death of seeing all the people who have been proselytizing about their “right to bear arms” in the wake of Newtown.  Between the gun rights advocates and the gun control advocates, it seems there can be no middle ground either.  You would think some of the gun control laws being proposed or already in place are common sense.  But lately it feels like people are immune to common sense, or even facts and statistics.

You’re pissed about your “right to bear arms?”  Well, guess what.  Those 20 dead little kids should have had a right to go to school without fear of gruesome death!  I’ve  got news for you; most of the rights you have were given to you by the government, and thus, can be taken away by the government.

Some people would argue our “rights” are what separate us from less civilized people and places.  I agree that rights are important, but what I am trying to get across is that people are letting their perceived rights make them arrogant and ambivalent to the plights of others.  Believe it or not, I actually support the right to bear arms.  That said, I do not think that right should be without restrictions.  My problem is with the people placing their “right to bear” over the safety of our children, with lame arguments that “guns don’t kill people,” and opposition to even statistical data that supports the fact that easy access to weapons means the weapons get used more often in crimes of violence (case in point, the statistics on victims of lethal domestic violence and gun ownership.)**Someone the other day argued with me that by this logic, since his whole family owned guns, I was insinuating that one of them must be an abuser.  Such ignorant misinterpretation of the facts is a symptom of the arrogance I mentioned.  This person simply did not want to acknowledge any factual data that ran counter to his own desire to “keep his guns.”**  What this basically boils down to is, in the case of domestic violence, if a gun is around to be used, there is a higher chance it will be used.  I realize most gun owners are not abusers, but I’m going to extrapolate to violent crime in general and say if a person has easy access to a gun (whether it’s their own or a family member’s or friend’s), they are more likely to use said gun.

Maybe it seems like I’m picking on the “gun people.”  It’s only because the news and social media sites have been flooded with knee-jerk speeches about gun rights and gun control since the Newtown tragedy.  But the basic idea applies to everyone.

Maybe it’s a stretch, but I think if you take the idea of entitlement one step further, you are on your way to understanding the cause of a lot of violence too.

“I want something, you can’t keep me from having it, I have a right to have it, I’m going to take it. “

It seems to be pretty obvious that all the media coverage on mass killings like this seem to encourage other unstable people to air their grievances in a similar manner.  People who are dissatisfied, feel “wronged,” are unhappy with their lot in life, now feel entitled  to be noticed, to force their pain on others.

Anyway, though I digressed (at length) and maybe vented a bit, everyone is entitled to their opinion…and that’s about the only “right” you have that can’t be taken away.

*** Like I said, everyone is entitled to their opinions (the above is my opinion,) and you are welcome to share yours as long as it’s respectful.  Just please don’t expect a response from me regarding “gun rights,” because I think I’ve said all I have to say.  

 

How to Kill a Werewolf

artwork from Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

“Silver bullets. How ridiculous…”

“You mean they don’t really work?”

He snorted. Pale yellow light from inside softly   illuminated their table through the cafe windows, and the ring in his lip glimmered, reflecting the glow, whenever he spoke. His teeth were very white. “Well, yeah. I guess they would…if any of those morons actually knew how to make them.”

Her mouth made a disapproving little moue, but her eyebrows betrayed her confusion and curiosity.

He set his cup of coffee on the tiny cafe table, leaned back in his seat, and settled his hands comfortably on his flat belly. “Well, you don’t think it’s like the movies, do you? Some high-school kid melts down some silver in shop class and pours it into a bullet mold? Loads it into a handgun?” He chuckled and shook his head.

“What?” She sounded slightly defensive.  That was pretty much exactly what she thought.

“You don’t know anything about guns, do you?”

“What do you mean?” Now she was definitely defensive.

He favored her with a bemused look. “How do you think a bullet fires? Magic? You can’t just put a bullet-shaped piece of silver in a gun and pull the trigger,” he said, mimicking the action with an imaginary finger-gun. “First of all, bullets come in casings. You need gunpowder to make the bullet go, to fire it out of the casing. And then you need something to ignite the gunpowder; that’s what the primer is for. The pin inside the gun strikes the base of the cartridge casing when you pull the trigger and –boom!– sparks the primer, which ignites the gunpowder. The energy of the explosion and the compressed gases force the bullet out of the casing.” He paused and lit a cigarette. “It takes skill to make that kind of thing. Not just any idiot can do it.” The hand holding the cigarette described lazy circles in the air.

She stared at him a moment, and then- “Well, wise-ass, do you know how to make silver bullets?”

artwork from Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

“No-oo. But I know the principles behind it.” Then he added, with exaggerated patience, “you don’t need to be a chef to know if your food tastes good, do you? Or a professional singer to know when someone else can’t carry a tune in a bucket?”

Her eyes narrowed momentarily but she had no rebuttal. Finally, she said, “So if bullets are out, what’s the next best thing? Monkshood? Beheading? Silver-tipped arrows?”

He smiled thinly at her. “Did I say bullets were out? No, bullets’ll work-”

“But you just said-”

“I said homemade silver bullets wouldn’t work. That’s amateur kid’s shit. Real bullets would work just fine. They don’t even have to be silver, just aimed into the right major organ and big enough to do the job.”

“Really?” she asked, her annoyance momentarily forgotten.

“Sure.” He shrugged. “They’re freaks of nature…but they’re still just animals. Like people.” He reached for his cup and downed the rest of the coffee.

“What’s that supposed to mean? ‘Like people’?”

He leaned forward and butted out his cigarette in the glass ashtray on the table. “People,” he repeated, speaking slowly, as if to a child. “Man. Human beings. Homosapiens… Scientifically speaking, we all belong to the Animal Kingdom. We’re all animals.”

She rolled her eyes so he added, almost apologetically, “I only meant that they may have the strength and senses of a wolf, and the intelligence of a man, but they’re animals. All animals can be killed, and it doesn’t take a silver bullet to do it.”

“Right. Well, it’s getting late and I have to work tomorrow, soooo…I’d better jet. Thanks for the coffee.”

He only smiled and lit another cigarette, the flame from the lighter reflecting on his white teeth and his lip ring. She thought it was probably made of silver.

© alienredqueen (pencil and Prismacolors)

Diagram of typical

Diagram of typical “bullet” – more appropriately termed “cartridge”:  1-bullet 2-casing 3-gunpowder 4-rim 5-primer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Resident Evil: The Good, the Bad, and the Undead

I’m not going to do an in depth point-by-point comparison or deep philosophical analysis on the difference between the ‘old’ Resident Evil (RE) games and the ‘NEW-er’ generation of RE.  Both have their merits and deserve recognition.  Also, I have JUST finished playing my way through RE 5 for the first  time (yes, yes, I know I’m a bit late,) and though I have played through the original RE (the Gamecube remake) SEVERAL times, it’s admittedly been a while since I broke bad on some O-Z (that’s Original Zombie, yeah yeah.)   The point is, I don’t feel equal to the task of comparing their merits in any detail, given it’s been a while and the details of the original are not as fresh in my head as I would like.  But I do want to discuss a couple of significant differences in the ‘old’ and ‘new’ and how they effect my gaming experience.

Alright…let me collect my thoughts…deep breath…and GO! Continue reading