Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

December 30, 2017

Guest post: when cliches replace reason

Filed under: Culture — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:24 am

My friend Josh Amos sent me this at my request after telling me the outlines of the story. The story can’t be trimmed to column-size (700 words max) so I’m posting it here. Josh speaks for himself quite well, so without further ado:

An incident happened at my son’s high school in 2005 that had what has been described as a “cracking good tale of stupidity running rampant in the schools.” I wish it were not true but it is.
I was a single dad of a teenage boy at the time
Two teenage boys were playing basketball, and a dispute started. Over what who knows, but like most teenage boys, taunts and insults ensued and a scuffle started. It was determined that taunts and insults had racial over tones to them and the principal intervened. Instead of introducing swift strict and impartial discipline to two deserving teenage boys (see idiots) the principal decided that this was an opportunity to have a “racial dialog” the upshot was the black boy decided that he was justified in his actions and the white boy decided that he couldn’t get a fair shake from the school’s administration. Shortly there after, the white boy’s truck was vandalized and his Confederate Flag sticker was scraped off of his truck box. The matter was reported and after some more of the principal’s “dialog” nothing was done to address the issue. To further enflame the matter the alleged perpetrator (still feeling fully justified) and several of his friends began taunting the white boy over the matter.
So the white teenage boy did what teenage boys often do…he upped the ante. He hoisted the confederate flag on his truck and drove to school with it flying at a time and place where everyone could not help but to see it. The provocation produced results. Four black students three boys and one girl violently attacked the white boy and his truck and a general brawl ensued. The local newspaper took note and headlines were made. Again, the principal decided that instead of swift and impartial punishments for all involved, he would form a “diversity council” and the first four members of the board were….you guessed it, the four black teens who assaulted the white boy. The white boy was not invited. Several faculty members and a few parents were invited (including me, who volunteered), a couple of non-white students, and two paid “diversity specialists” one an older black woman from the Evergreen State College in Olympia(of the recent Antifa riot infamy) and a middle aged Hispanic woman from Pierce Community College.
I attended the first meeting and was appalled at the goings on. The entire meeting was not about inclusion, justice, unity, good manners, respect, or anything that makes an adult be able to function in any kind of society, let alone a multi cultural society like America. The meeting was a cliché’ of cultural Marxism and blatant white bashing. The history teacher literally apologized to the students for slavery. The parents (mostly the black children had white parents) railed against all of their perceived injustices. The students began complaining of imagined racist slights they received from teachers. The paid diversity experts not only encouraged the four black teens for assaulting the white teen, they told them it was the “duty” of black men and women to “confront” racism everywhere they saw it. There were promises of diversity type scholarships made to the students.
No one addressed let alone discussed the behavior of the boy who started this whole chain of events. No one tried to discuss why it was wrong to mob up and attack someone you disagree with. No one told the parents that a great deal of their child’s problem was due to their parenting. No one told the history professor he was teaching incomplete and agenda driven history, and no one discussed how the principal made this entire problem worse by missing several key opportunities to end the behavior problems before they got out of hand. Finally, no one questioned why there were paid social justice warriors telling kids that violence was ok? And what were their qualifications? And how much were they getting paid? Any discussion that was contrary to the agenda was quashed and disagreements were not allowed. The school handed out SJW books with reading assignments. I read and critiqued the assignment.
The next meeting happened and fewer parents were in attendance. So this is when the key part of the agenda was stated “only white people can be racist because white people have power and minorities don’t.” At first I was shocked that this old, debunked, lie was still being told, but here was a room full of academics all nodding their heads in agreement, and the look on the faces of the teens was one of “I just got a license to go hunting and its ok!” Once I heard this, It was clear that there would be no reasoning with this bunch. So I used the time tested method of dealing with self-important tripe.
I laughed at them.
“So are you paid “experts” are trying to tell me that the Nazi party was not racist until the day after they were elected to office, or are you saying that the KKK is no longer racist because they don’t have power anymore?” I hooted with scorn, “This is moral and intellectual bankruptcy.” Minor bedlam ensued, but I refused to yield and sadly nothing was going to change to course of this disastrous panel. I stopped laughing and I turned to the four black kids and directly addressed them. I told them that they were wrong. Period. They had the ability to be better but that the diversity professionals were setting them up for failure or worse. I further went on to point out that the laws governing self-defense and the judicious use of lethal force would have allowed the white boy they mobbed to kill all of them and probably successfully sue their parents into the poor house. Their eyes all got wide. I told them it was ok not to like the truth I was telling them but they had to understand that I didn’t want to see them hurt or killed, but I wasn’t sure that the diversity professionals and the academics could say the same thing.
Rough truth. Could I have delivered better? Yes. But it was clear by the reactions of the academics that my time on the diversity board was coming to a rapid close. Sure enough a day later I received and email from the principal stating because I couldn’t agree (submission) to the agreed upon diversity board agenda and their premise, that I wasn’t welcome back. No surprise.
I enrolled my son in college the next year and moved on from that high school.
About three years later, I went into a local pizza shop and there was the boy/young man working. He saw me and got an embarrassed look on his face. Having made many mistakes as a young man myself, I wasn’t going to kick him while he was down. I asked him how he was doing and how school was going. Turns our that he got the scholarship but lost it and was back working. I told him that that sort of thing happened, “You broke it, but you can fix it” he could be a man, work hard, learn, grow and make his way back. He nodded and thanked me.
I wondered later if the diversity professionals or academics at the high school that had profited off of that young man’s mistakes had ever reached out to him in his time of need?
Josh Amos
Single dad, former Marine, MBA magna cum laude

December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas to you all

Filed under: Literature,Personal — Stephen W. Browne @ 5:17 am

Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year.
There have been some big changes lately, and I expect getting more active on this blog will be one of them soon.
I have an ebook published, a collection of my newspaper columns titled “The View from Flyover Country: A Rural Columnist Looks at Life.” It’s not my first book but it’s my first venture into ebook publishing.
And if you look on my author’s page on Amazon you’ll also see an anthology I contributed to, edited with commentary by my friend Marc MacYoung, titled “Beyond the Picket Fence: Life Outside the Middle-Class Bubble.”
From the book description:

“Rules, traditions of the past, and assumptions… all have been swept away by rapid social change. Instead of freeing people this has left us stressed, confused, unprepared, and unable to navigate different environments and situations that can be more than just hostile. Environments outside suburbia can become dangerous — especially for teens and young adults.

‘Beyond the Picket Fence’ isn’t a self-defense book, but it is very much about what will get you into trouble with people.”

In planning, to get my book on linguistic humor out. Most of it was written years ago when I was teaching English in Eastern Europe. I wrote it to explain linguistically dependent jokes in English. That is, the kind of jokes that can’t be translated, only explained, because they use a feature of the language for humorous effect such as puns, play on worlds, Spoonerisms, malapropisms, etc.
I also have a theory of humor on why we find such jokes funny.
Later. For now I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and share one of my favorite Christmas poems, “Eddi’s Service” by Rudyard Kipling. I’ve presented it on my Youtube vlog, linked in the title:

Eddi’s Service
(AD 687)

EDDI, priest of St. Wilfrid
In his chapel at Manhood End,
Ordered a midnight service
For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,
And the night was stormy as well.
Nobody came to service,
Though Eddi rang the bell.

‘Wicked weather for walking,’
Said Eddi of Manhood End.
‘But I must go on with the service
For such as care to attend.

The altar-lamps were lighted, –
An old marsh-donkey came,
Bold as a guest invited,
And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat on at the windows,
The water splashed on the floor,
And a wet, yoke-weary bullock
Pushed in through the open door.

‘How do I know what is greatest,
How do I know what is least?
That is My Father’s business,’
Said Eddi, Wilfrid’s priest.

‘But – three are gathered together –
Listen to me and attend.
I bring good news, my brethren!’
Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a Manger
And a Stall in Bethlehem,
And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,
That rode to Jerusalem.

They steamed and dripped in the chancel,
They listened and never stirred,
While, just as though they were Bishops,
Eddi preached them The Word,

Till the gale blew off on the marshes
And the windows showed the day,
And the Ox and the Ass together
Wheeled and clattered away.

And when the Saxons mocked him,
Said Eddi of Manhood End,
‘I dare not shut His chapel
On such as care to attend.’

December 11, 2017

Am I paranoid?

Filed under: Op-eds,Politics — Stephen W. Browne @ 6:07 pm

I just read the most extraordinary opinion piece in the New York Times.

In an article dated December 1, Jill Filipovic lays the blame for Hillary Clinton’s defeat at the feet of now-disgraced Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Mark Halperin.

These three allegedly pestered Clinton “with cold, aggressive, condescending questions hyper-focused on her emails, only to pitch softballs at Mr. Trump and treat him with gentle collegiality a half-hour later.”

That is, Clinton lost because male sexual predators were mean to her in interviews.

My first thought was, are they that stupid at the New York Times? That desperate?

My second thought was, wait a minute! Is this what’s behind the rash of sexual harassment scandals? Not that courageous women spoke out and inspired others to do the same, but powerful people who think SOMEBODY is to blame for Clinton’s loss and somebody has to pay for it?

Then my third thought was, am I paranoid? Have I spent too much time in Eastern Europe and absorbed the paranoid style of thinking? That is where vampire legends come from after all.

What do I mean by paranoid style you may ask?

Let me give you some examples.

One year in Poland the country was rocked by the news a former general under the communist regime and his wife were murdered. They were found tied to chairs in their home with their throats cut.

Of course everyone thought, “Ah-ha! Secret struggles among the powerful.”

About a year later police announced the results of their investigation and it turned out it was the result of a home invasion robbery gone horribly wrong.

Nobody I knew, as in not a single person believed it.

So were they paranoid or was I naïve?

Another. I was living in Serbia during the Clinton administration in the time leading up to the NATO bombing campaign. In one of my English classes a student asked me quite seriously, “Do you think (President) Milosevic is working for Clinton?”

(“Well I don’t think he draws a paycheck from him, but I think they both find each other’s existence convenient,” I told him.)

Or consider those vampire legends from the Balkans. Someone you love and trust might return from the grave to drink the blood of the living, with a strong preference for family members. Or a stranger knocking at your door asking to be let in or perhaps just a drink of water might be a vampire, who can only enter a home once they’ve been invited in.

What do these legends teach you? Trust no one! And never trust obvious appearances. Can you imagine growing up thinking like that?

Maybe we should.

A Serbian friend told me, “What you call paranoia, we call experience.”

So am I crazy? Or is she?

Filipovic’s article is paranoid clear through. It’s MEN! All men who want to excuse predatory behavior and quash any woman who gets uppity.

“That is why it’s so egregious that sexual harassers set the tone of much of the coverage of the woman who hoped to be the first female president,” she said.

Then another source said Hillary’s backers were furious with her and wanted to know where their billion dollars went when all the polls said it was a slam dunk – and no you’re not paranoid.
And among the conservative anti-Trumpers a scholar I like whose work I respect is absolutely obsessed with the notion the Russians decided the election. She’s spent a lot of time in the paranoid part of the world too.

One of the characteristics of the paranoid style of thinking is a rejection of anything that seems simple and straightforward. That for example Clinton was a lousy candidate and an overwhelmingly favorable media could do nothing to overcome that.

But now here I am proposing that powerful occult forces are purging the ranks of the news and entertainment networks and wreaking a terrible vengeance on those they believe have failed them.

And I ask myself, I know I’m paranoid – but am I paranoid enough?

And my Balkan friend answers, “The answer is ‘no’. Not even close.”

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