Thoughts For Thursday: Of Rights and Responsibilities

What do you know about your rights, Really?

I hate this. I hate that I have to write this. I am used to trying to stay positive on this blog, but it seems there’s less and less to be optimistic about these days. Some of what’s going on makes sense to me, but a whole lot of it really doesn’t. So, this will be my day-late attempt, once again, to make sense of the madness sweeping the world right now.

I want to apologize to any of you who used to read this blog last year for inspiration and hope. I wish I could give you all that now. I really do. It’s just not in me at the moment, though. Maybe it’s “quarantine fatigue” (I guess we need a different name other than cabin fever for some reason), but I’m finding it harder and harder to stay positive these days. I’m continually astounded by the blatant displays of absurdity all around me by my fellow humans. Some people, in times like these, look at events and point to texts written by people who didn’t even know how to make steel yet, and say it’s proof of the prophecy.

I say bullshit. The social behavior we are witnessing right now is a product of evolutionary malfunction. And if there were a God, and if it were, at the very least, benign, it wouldn’t have designed morons like us. If God made us “in his image,” then God is a nincompoop. That’s the only realistic conclusion to that line of thinking.

Consider the current situation.

In mid-March, I started limiting my public activity, like the rest of us. When I went out, I wore a bandana over my face (see Instagram feed). Then a co-worker was generous enough to sew me a “proper” mask and send it to me. I don’t go into a public place without it. Period.

Unfortunately, in the last two weeks, I’ve started seeing some really disturbing behavior when I leave the house. I, wearing my mask, doing my damnedest to keep a six-foot distance from others, and using sanitary wipes as I push a shopping cart, am increasingly in the minority. There are more and more people out, and fewer and fewer of them are wearing masks. They’re not respecting social-distancing guidelines, and they’re acting like just because they’re tired of all of this, they don’t have any civic respnosibility anymore.

Similarly, I’m seeing reports of armed protesters domestic terrorists in Michigan demanding “their freedom.” It’s easy enough, for me, in Washington state, to say, “Well, that’s there, and this is here,” but unfortunately, I’ve driven past two local businesses who’ve decided to use their reader-boards to plead for their “freedom” to be restored. Both of those businesses were bars.

Fuck you people.

That’s easy for you to say, Brandon… You still have a paycheck!

Again… Fuck you people. Where were you when I didn’t have any practically any income from September 2018-September 2019? Don’t talk to me about money or going through financial hardship. I’ll go toe to toe with you there any day of the week. Of course I was mad. Of course I wanted someone to blame. But ultimately, I had to suck it up and realize that those were the cards I was dealt. Period.

This thing is a virus. It’s a natural phenomenon. It’s something that happens. Do you idiots even realize that at ANY moment, WITHOUT WARNING, a gamma ray burst that left its dying star three billion years ago could obliterate the ENTIRE PLANET? That’s a legitimate possibility. What then? Are you gonna storm the cosmos with your AK-47s and AR-15s?

This is akin to a natural disaster, but it’s worse because the threat is invisible, and, unless you know someone who’s been affected, intangible. Some of my earliest, faintest memories are impressions of the day Mt. St. Helens erupted on May 18th, 1980. Cities all across Washington and the Pacific Northwest were covered in ash. Nobody blamed the governor. Nobody blamed the media. It was just nature. That was it. There were inches of ash on the ground, killing engines, damaging property, and from what I know, nobody bitched about their freedoms being infringed upon (except, famously, a man named Harry Truman who refused to evacuate and died in the eruption). On the contrary, people banded together, shoveled ash, and re-built. Just like countless cities and towns have done after hurricanes and tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, floods, and eruptions every year.

You can’t pin COVID-19 on anyone. It’s a virus. They happen. In fact, they happen a lot, and they’re pretty efficient little bastards. I’m sorry that you can’t go see your hairstylist or shop at the mall. I’m sorry I can’t go have a beer or play shows or go gambling. But you know what? I’d rather forego that shit for a while until we get a handle on this virus that’s already killed nearly a hundred thousand people.

You’re pissed because the “big bad government” isn’t letting you open up your restaurant, salon, or niche retail shop and you’re income’s affected? Again, suck it up, buttercup. I lost everything last year, and I couldn’t even draw unemployment, let alone receive a $1,200 (Socialist, by the way) bailout from the government. I didn’t get even get to blame a virus. I had to sit with it and just realize that I had very little control.

So no. You assholes get NO sympathy from me whatsoever. You’re going to get all kinds of tax breaks and help from the big bad government you’re bitching so much about right now. Just shut up already. You’re not being oppressed.

Which brings me to rights.

Most of you “patriotic” sons of bitches couldn’t even pass a basic civics test, because most of you barely got a GED, or, if you did graduate high school, you did so with a 2.5 GPA or lower…and none of you went to college. And yeah, I’m being an educated elitist. BECAUSE I WORKED MY ASS OFF TO GET A FUCKING EDUCATION!!!!! When you spend eight years in postsecondary school making yourself a more enlightened, well-rounded, and broad-minded individual, then you can talk to me. Until then, shut up and listen because you’re out of your depth.

I’ve written this before, but in the interest of disclosure, I do not have a degree in history. However, I do have a minor in history attached to my Bachelor’s degree, I’m certified by the state of Washington to teach history, and I’ve taught U.S. history, Current World Problems, American Literature, and/or some combination thereof for the last seven years. Unless you have an M.A. or Ph.D. in history, don’t come at me.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”

That’s not in the constitution. Anywhere. It’s not a law. It’s part of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.

Still, it’s a founding document, and it’s similar to a mission statement. When it comes to actual rights, the founders didn’t leave it up to God to protect them for us. They wrote our personal rights into law in the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution—which is law.

The first amendment guarantees five personal freedoms. The FIRST of which is the freedom from religious oppression. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That law gives you the freedom to worship whatever stupid deity you can dream up. It also guarantees me the right to be safe from your bat-shit crazy beliefs by keeping them out of the law. Period. There’s ZERO ambiguity there. The law of the land is separation of church and state.

That’s the thing about rights. You have individual rights. But you also have a civic duty to respect the rights of others.

You might think you have the right to open your salon up, or your gift shop, or thrift store, or any number of other businesses. But I have the right to be safe in public as well. By pressing to rush re-opening the country, you’re putting lives in danger.

So how much is 80,000 or so lives worth? A month of your paycheck? Two months of making 60% of your salary on unemployment?

I went through a year of losing everything material that I held dear. I’d gladly give it up again if it meant that some of those 80,000 lives would be save.

That’s the crux of what pisses me off more than anything else. The idea, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

I criticize Trump on Facebook, and somebody comes back with jobs numbers. How’s that working for you now? Really? The contry’s in metaphorical flames and you’re gonna come at me with JOBS? Piss right off.

The whole push behind “re-open the country” is only about money. If you put money over human lives or even quality of life for the majority of citizens, then I’ve NO use for you. I definitely don’t want to know you, and I’m ashamed that at one point you and I shared the same atoms—but you’re too stupid to know anything about that.

Keep your eyes peeled, boys and girls. These are the times when charlatans and bastards thrive. Stupidity and panic are rampant. Don’t run off the cliff.