Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Humbugs: Things That Make Me Grumpy

Just because I've been living on the road for 3 months doesn't mean I've had my head in the sand.  (I have been underground, on the coast, in mountains, and even in the desert, but never with my head in the sand.)  Today on Indie Writers Monthly you can read about how Amazon's Offensive Content Guidelines (or lack thereof) made me grumpy.

And here are a couple more things recently:

First there was the bullshit in Ferguson and then the bullshit in New York where cops killing black men were let off the hook without even a slap on the wrist.  I mean not even a trial?  Especially the New York one where there was video?  WTF?!  You have all the people protesting against those and then you get people who support the dirty cops.

On Facebook I have a "friend" whose husband is a cop so she keeps posting these memes about supporting cops.  Which here's the thing:  it's not that I don't appreciate cops or support cops or hate police (except those who give me a ticket for something as stupid as getting in a turn lane too early) or anything like that.   My stance is pretty fucking simple:  POLICE ENFORCE THE LAW; THEY ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW!  Ie, beating someone in handcuffs, or strangling a guy trying to surrender, or being a jittery ass and shooting some kid walking in the road is illegal and should not be tolerated.

The problem is our society anymore is so geared to everything being either/or.  You don't support Darren Wilson, so you must hate cops!  You want chaos and anarchy!  No, I just want a level playing field for everyone.  If you don't hold the police to the same (or higher) standards than ordinary people then we're not any better than banana republics with their secret police forces and death squads.  And I suppose nationally that would apply to CIA torture programs and killer drones and such.

BTW, I made a little commentary about this in the 7th Scarlet Knight book when a veteran office chides a rookie for driving like she's in an action movie even when they aren't responding to a call.  Because seriously, how many times do see cops driving over the speed limit or getting in turn lanes early and so forth when they don't even have their lights on?  All the freaking time!  On a small scale that's the problem where some cops think because they got a badge and gun they can do whatever they want.

Again this isn't to say they're all bad or that we should have anarchy and chaos.  It's just there are a few bad apples in the barrel and if you coddle them, it only creates more bad apples.  I mean if you work at an office and you see a coworker steal office supplies or slack off or whatever and get away with it, you start to think, "Hey, why can't I do that?"  If one person doesn't follow the rules then other people think they don't have to follow the rules either.

Really all I'm asking for is that cops live up to the standards they expect me to live up to.  I can't just kill random people walking in the street or on the sidewalk, so why should they?
Early in my trip there was a week or two where it seemed every day another NFL player was getting busted for something.  There was the Ray Rice video and the Adrian Peterson whupping accusation and a few other players busted for domestic violence.

Adrian Peterson beating his son with a tree branch is not something I agree with, but other people (especially in the south) think that's an OK way to discipline your child.  I'm sure as hell glad my daddy never did that to me when I was four.

The Ray Rice thing was more disturbing just because of the NFL's lame attempts to cover up once TMZ aired the video from inside the elevator.  I mean before that Commissioner Roger Goodell had just given Rice two games and his team, the Baltimore Ravens, were still keeping him on the roster.

The video airs, there's a public outcry, and all the sudden Goodell hands down a full season suspension and the Ravens decide that they shouldn't keep him around after all.  Then of course came the obvious questions about whether Goodell had seen the video or not.  Everyone started passing the buck:  we mailed the video to NFL Headquarters, um, maybe you did but we didn't actually see it, etc.  All while Goodell, who fines people $5000 for wearing funky socks, hid in his spider hole counting his $44M salary.

The sad part was it was so obvious they only added to the suspension and cut ties with Rice because the video came to light.  They would have been happy to have given him a piddly two games (less than people get for smoking a joint) and then let him play again.

It's another issue where you have to have standards.  You can't change your punishment just because there's a public outcry.  If you think 2 games is appropriate for knocking a woman out cold, then stand by it.  Otherwise you're just a wishy-washy wuss.  So actually I supported the arbitrator who overturned that punishment because they should have got it right the first time.  The fact they didn't says a lot about the NFL.

The good thing is that out of these incidents there will be tougher punishments--and awkward PSAs.

Speaking of wishy-washy wusses, Sony recently scrapped the release of "The Interview" after (probably North Korean) hackers hacked Sony and threatened to kill people who went to see it or whatever.  Really it was theater chains who balked first and then Sony threw up its hands in surrender.

And I couldn't help thinking, "WTF?  What fucking country is this?"  To borrow from another movie (and a Robot Chicken skit):  THIS.  IS.  AMERICA!!!  Land of the free.  Home of the brave.  This is the country where we allow the Westboro Church to hang around with "God Hates Fags" signs at soldier funerals and the KKK to parade down Main Street.  This is the country where after 9/11 we were encouraged to go about our normal lives.  And it's the country where people were gunned down in a movie theater and still people went to movie theaters to see "The Dark Knight Rises." (Including me 3 times.)

And now we're backing down from computer nerds?  WTF is that?  It's ridiculous.  Some assclowns are like, "Well what if they made a movie about killing Obama?"  Come on, you don't think North Korea, Iran, etc. talk crap about America all the fucking time?  Those ISIS (or ISIL or whatever) jerks behead Americans on live TV!  Real live people, not actors with special effects.  And among other things America is about, it's also the country where you can air documentaries smearing a sitting president like "Obama 2016" and "Fahrenheit 9/11."  Maybe they don't show the president's head exploding, but the point is this isn't North Korea, where saying something bad about the guy in charge gets you speared on a pike like in "Game of Thrones" or something.  But really real-life dictators have been killed like Saddam Hussein in the "Hot Shots" movies and the "South Park Movie" and Kim Jong Un's father in "Team America."  The latter some theaters (like George RR Martin's) wanted to show in place of "The Interview" but Paramount wussed out on that idea too, not wanting to get involved.

To Sony and the movie studios I offer a little common sense:  how many blackmailers do you think stop at just one request?  I don't have the exact stats, but how many do you think just take their payoff and disappear forever?  I doubt very many, because once you show you're willing to pay out, it's awfully tempting to ask for more.  So now that you've acquiesced to these assholes, the next time you air something they don't like maybe they'll be right back at it.  Or maybe some other group will see that you've accommodated this one group and start making demands of their own.  Next thing you know, you can't release anything.

Honestly, I didn't even want to see "The Interview" and probably would have only rented it from Redbox or watched it on HBO or something, but the point is that this is fucking America and we shouldn't be afraid to say what we want just because some dictator in another country doesn't have a sense of humor.

Maybe North Korea will destroy my blog now.  Though if hackers want me to take down any posts, I'd be happy to in exchange for making my book #1 on Amazon's bestseller lists.


  1. So much for home of the brave. It seems to me that fear of lawsuits is causing the problem in this case, If something happened everyone would say "Sony knew about the threat, but released the movie all these people are dead."

    I wish I could see the proof they have that the hackers are in North Korea because I tend to suspect it's a disgruntled employee who is having a big laugh.

  2. In reverse order:

    I went and Googled "Movies in which a US president is assassinated" and before I even got to the list I saw "Death of A President," a movie which posited what would happen if Bush had been assassinated in 2007. It was released in 2006:

    So obviously we didn't threaten to nuke Canada and Great Britain (Unless... Cheney was around, so maybe we did?)

    I thought the Sony thing was a hoax, and I kind of think it might be one that went too far. I heard they are making an insurance claim, so if it was a hoax it'll unwind pretty fast. If it was, though, MAN, they got the US President fooled, too. But I agree: we can't cancel movies just because someone threatens to blow up a theater. Americans worry about crap like that all the time even though it's so remote, and that is half the reason we've got no civil liberties anymore. (The other half is the Republican party exists.)

    As for the NFL: I'm glad to see that their commitment to reminding people that domestic abuse is real and exists lasted well into this season and in fact was redoubled as the playoffs drew... wait, when was the last PSA? Most NFL fans didn't give a f*** about Rice, and proved it by making him the most picked-up fantasy player when he was allowed back. Most NFL fans are idiot rednecks who probably see nothing wrong with what Peterson and Rice (among many many others) did. As for spanking kids, especially with a stick, I'm with Louis CK: We take the weakest, most trusting people in our lives and say "Yeah, it's okay to hit THEM." You can't beat a dog with a stick but you can beat a kid with one. Stupid stupid stupid.

    The cop thing: In Milwaukee, a cop unloaded 14 rounds into a homeless guy. From the Journal-Sentinel story:

    Manney shot Hamilton 14 times on April 30 during a confrontation at Red Arrow Park.

    Before the encounter, a pair of officers responding to a call that Hamilton was asleep in the park checked on him twice and found he was doing nothing wrong. When Manney arrived, he was not aware that other officers had preceded him.

    As Manney began to pat down Hamilton, Hamilton fought him, and a confrontation ensued. Manney tried to use his baton to subdue Hamilton, but Hamilton got control of it and swung at Manney, hitting him on the side of the neck, according to Milwaukee police internal affairs.

    Manney then shot Hamilton repeatedly.

    The cop, Manney, will not be charged. My dad, defending him lukewarmedly said "He had a baton." I said "Why not back off and surround him?" My dad said "The gun was on auto and went off quickly, like in 3 seconds." I said "Why not back off and surround him?" My dad had to go.

    It IS outrageous. As is the idea that you don't support the cops if you don't want cops to just chokehold people to death over cigarette taxes. I've heard police in Britain aren't even armed. We should just do that. We should overturn the stupid 2nd Amendment and then confiscate every single gun everywhere. Screw gun rights.

    *whew* And I thought i was done with my Xmas rant.

  3. One thing is for sure Pat the Internet and cell phone video have changed the nature of discussions like this. Without the Ray Rice video and Garner's "I can't breathe" video things like this might have been let go. But the public now has access to information they didn't have before and are demanding action. The Interview is getting limited release now. Not that I was planning to watch it, but it's nice to know we have the option. Stay Grumpy bulldog.

  4. Well, I have nothing really to add to what Briane said, but
    I was actually looking forward to The Interview just all on its own but, then, I loved This Is the End.



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