It’s taken me awhile this week to process a few news events and to decide if they really merited writing about. It’s no secret to those who know me that I stopped watching all news reports several years ago. The unbalanced distorted view of our world projected by any of the news sources today is just not something I want to be exposed to any longer. Over 50 years of it is enough, thank you very much. When we focus on the one sensationalized tragic event we lose the ability over time to remember the true aberration in our society that the event is. We are no longer capable of differentiating the statistical probability of that happening to our loved ones or us. That in and of itself has prevented an entire generation or two of raising children in a manner that truly prepares them for life’s ass kicking that happens to everyone sooner or later by attempting to protect them from everything real or imagined.
Last week’s two events, the Stanford student who raped the unconscious student and the killing of 50 of kids in club by a homophobe brings a few thoughts to this newsaphobe. The Stanford student is an aberration and is not to be viewed as the norm by this generation of college students. I will posit that on any Saturday night during the school year in this country there are millions of girls on college campuses who drink and pass out at frat parties and several millions upon millions of college boys who don’t rape them. That is the statistical truth. So let’s not wring our hands over this boy’s case. Let’s get it off the front pages and forget about it. It has no bearing to reality at all. Let’s shorten that 15 minutes of fame or infamy to 15 seconds if we truly need it. The judge is another issue. This man will continue to preside over cases and that begs the question why?
I have two teenage sons and so this resonates for me on the male side of the equation. Rather than wonder about the raising of this Stanford kid, I challenge parents to instead examine your own house. And that is all we can do in light of these situations. Have the difficult conversations with your sons and daughters. Starting when they were about 14 or 15 I have had three conversations with my sons and depending on the topic, their friends as well. The first and foremost is the NO means NO from a girl. Although not exactly related to the Stanford case as that young girl didn’t even have the chance to answer NO. I suspect this abomination of a college student (and yes abomination is the word) never had the balls to ask the question or received a NO every time he did. Doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of his things, he is still an aberration and we must treat him as such.
Yes we all know the thrill of the boy-girl chase. Well as I tell my sons, it’s too damn bad. Girls with you don’t get to play hard to get. If she says no, you take it as a no-period. Second on my hit parade has been as I’m sure every parent in this country has been doing with this and a previous generation is the don’t drink and drive conversation. Lord knows no parent had that conversation with us in my day. I have always told them I don’t care where you are or whom you are with; if you as the driver or a driver you went with drinks you are NOT to drive at all. And this I said to their friends as well. I will send a cab for you. No, I am not getting out of bed to come get you. I will though get you all home no questions asked. My third conversation was one on seeing a friend passed out at a party or event on alcohol or drugs or whatever the case may be. Do not, I told them, ever leave someone in that condition. Call the paramedics, their parents or me but do not ever leave someone like that alone all night. Judging by the kids my older son took home to sleep it off every now and then, he listened well. This one is a tough one for me and it didn’t take a law to make it ok for kids to do this for me to have that conversation. I was in this position when I was about 20 years old in the home of a friend who was a drug addict at the time along with a few others. He turned blue and passed out. The friends took off in a shot. I couldn’t. I called the cops, gave them the information and left the door open for them. They saved his life. A year later the same thing happened in the schoolyard but no one bothered to call anyone and he died in that yard at 24 years old. He wasn’t a bad person, just a troubled one. My point is this; rather than focusing on the one that goes hopelessly wrong like the Stanford story, focus on making millions of these potential stories go hopefully right. That’s all we can do as parents. This generation today is not stupid or lazy. They are a bright generation that was born under some tragic circumstances with 911. I see a level of responsibility in terms of social interactions with drugs and alcohol that my generation sure didn’t have at that age. This is not a generation that has the market cornered on violence and massacres either. My generation gave you Charles Manson after all.
At a play last night (Big Sky), I loved a line from the 17 year old daughter to her mother and father. She said, you don’t get it, young is the new old. Speaks volumes. I also loved the father saying that marriage was made for when people didn’t live as long, but that’s a whole other blog. The other line that was great from this 17 year old (Yes this is the digression portion of our show for the regulars here) is when her Mom is bearing her soul about how she is being reborn by quitting her job and volunteering at the hospice instead, meeting Lazarus and having her first affair. She says Mom, you are nothing but a girl in an old woman’s body. And there you have it in a nutshell folks. The generation that brought you sex, drugs and rock and roll will not be going gently into that good night. No we’ll still go with sex, drugs and rock and roll but now it means Match or Ashley, Viagra and a thousand dollar concert in the desert this fall. Our generation will justify and rationalize our way into our sunset years. An article the other day illustrates this well. A researcher put out an article that people who talk to themselves are geniuses. Really? I will be enrolling in Harvard any day. I venture a guess that this scientist is now in his 70s and that he was also the one who wrote an article in his 20s right out of college saying that people who talk to themselves need to have a shot of electro shock therapy every now and then. Get the picture. Same as that annoying New York Times article on past Biggest Loser weight loss contestants saying that they gained back all the weight because their bodies were made to do so. Nothing in the article about the Big Macs I’m sure they shoved into their mouths at the speed of light. Ok now back to our regularly scheduled blog.
The second tragedy this week of course is the mass shooting by a pissed off homophobe who also happens to be a Muslin. Wow two for the price of one. Not really watching much on this but I’m sure it took the news like 2 seconds to shift the focus from this kid’s homophobia to making it a Muslin terrorist religious based act. Homophobia is a tough one and so are the gun laws that everyone will be shouting about in the coming days again and then nothing will get done of course. We love our guns and hate our gays. But again, this is one isolated kid. What about the millions that march in gay pride or tolerance parades or vote for marital equality laws to name just a few things.
This isn’t the days of Stonewall. This is an evolved generation in the areas of gays, lesbians, pangender, transgender and other genders I don’t even know of. This wasn’t some 60 year old homophobe ala J.Edgar that did this. This was a 29 year old. So again, while we wring our hands in horror and we should but we must remember this is not the norm. Unfortunately we must resign ourselves to the fact that certain political forces will never take the gay marriage question off the table. So be it. I am a bit ambivalent on the gay marriage issue anyway. On the one hand having been married twice, I don’t understand why they don’t get how good they have it not being allowed to get married. On the other hand, I am all for gay marriage since if I ever do get married again it will be to a gay man. All we can do, though is hope that a future generation will remove it forever from being used as a divisive tool. Interesting to see if this boy had homosexual tendencies. I posit that the most closeted and repressed homosexuals are the biggest homophobes. We had one running this country behind the scenes for years. I won’t even say his name cause he is still alive and still very powerful and scares the hell out of me. And no he didn’t have his own TV show years ago firing people.
I am proud of the tolerance in both gender and racial equality that this new generation holds. I am the most rabid of liberals and my own sons will call me a racist all the time. They have friends of varied races and colors who are always at our house. Yes lucky me. They don’t understand prejudice and for that I give not only credit to their parenting (me) but also to the great diversity of our community and the schools they have attended. The problem is now teaching them that stupid is not a protected class. I get called a racist whenever I point out something dumb one of their black friends does. I then have to remind them that I am NOT racist and that STUPID comes in all colors.
Guns are on the other side of this coin this week. I don’t know about this actually. I do agree we should get rid of all the assault weapons. I do know I do not ever want a handgun in my house for any reason. I do know that people who are severely paranoid because watching today’ss news reports have given them a bad case of the ‘it could happen to me any second” mentality in terms of all sorts of robberies, boogie men and other things like that. I do know that the vast majority of shootings occur between people who know each other in some way or by accident due to gun negligence in the home. The statistical probability of it happening from a stranger is extremely low but if you take the news as an extrapolation that every bad thing can happen to you in a second well then I certainly understand the underlying fear and the need for unnecessary protection. This is truly, I believe, where the ground zero is in getting guns under control. We constantly point to other countries and their success in this area and if we take a look we will see that their news is not the sensationalized in your brain 24/7 that ours is. I think this is a good place to start. Let’s go back to the half hour nightly news. Tell us quickly the events of the day, good and bad and then get the hell off the air. More Kardashians, less news. Begin with not making people so afraid and perhaps they will give up their need for guns. Couple that with making the obtaining of a firearm at least as difficult as getting a job in McDonalds and perhaps we have a jumping off point. This again is my very simplistic humble opinion and I sure there are those who say no, no it’s more complicated than that. Well sure maybe, but complicated so far has gotten us nowhere. Maybe we need to give simple a chance.