Monthly Archives: February 2018

#MeThree

I remember it well. I was working as a grill cook at McDonald’s in the mid-’80s when the incident occurred. I was innocently flipping some burgers when a co-worker left her assigned cash register up front and appeared directly beside me for a quick swig of pop (what Iowans call their┬ásoda). This was a very common practice in our industry because an employee eating or drinking in front of customers was considered non-professional and even a bit rude. The female colleague knelt down, took a sip, and asked “if there was anything she could do for me.” I glanced down at the considerate co-worker while thanking her for her thoughtfulness, but I declined the offer. (I prefer doing things my own way.) My colleague then gazed squarely at my crotch and in a seductive manner repeated, “anything?”

At that point I fully understood the situation was not simply about filling the ketchup dispenser or fetching some cheese out of the walk-in cooler. Once more I declined. I had no interest in the girl beneath me, and she was well aware I had a girlfriend (another co-worker who eventually became my lovely wife). That was that. I’m not sure if I was a victim of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, harmless flirtation, crude humor, or something else that day. At the time I didn’t think much about the unwarranted and unprovoked advance. Looking back, I still don’t. However, I think my experience decades ago surely meets the criteria for joining the #MeToo club.

All kidding aside, I think the #MeToo movement is a joke. I truly am not making light of the seriousness of those who’ve been raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed. The #MeToo campaign itself though is guilty of just that by unwittingly lumping together the unsubstantiated, weak, and even false claims of abuse with the admitted and proven cases of sexual abuse. There are currently millions of members who’ve joined the club; however, I would suggest that legitimate claims of abuse make up only a small percentage of the colossal total. As a society we must be careful not to instantly jump on the bandwagon or play judge and jury.

When an allegation is made publicly it’s impossible for the accused (guilty or not) to escape a life long sentence of being stigmatized. A wise man once said, “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” Actually, that quote did not come from the wisest of men – it came from President Trump – and it, of course, came by way of a tweet – but the content was spot on just the same.

Recently, for every valid claim of sexual misconduct there seems to be just as many lacking in credibility which inevitably tarnishes the entire #MeToo campaign. For example, a Los Angeles filmmaker has just gone on record accusing her former photography professor of sexually abusing her in 1999. She claims she was in his classroom, sitting at a desk, when the renowned teacher asked for her attention. The naked professor then walked directly towards her and placed his erect manhood in her mouth. She said the encounter was very brief before she ultimately pushed him away and left the room. The filmmaker said, “He committed oral rape against me.” Oddly enough, the woman admitted to keeping in touch with her former teacher via e-mail even after graduation. She continued requesting recommendations and asking for advice several years after the incident. That seems more like a #Regret moment to me. Likewise, last month a fairly famous actor was publicly accused online of sexual abuse because he didn’t turn out to be what his date had anticipated leading up to their one night together. The woman deeply regretted the experience since she was left with only negative feelings toward the celebrity after their consensual tryst.

Also muddying the waters a tad, as far as I’m concerned, is a recent decision made by a 2016 Olympic gold medalist. We know for certain she, along with countless other gymnasts, was sexually molested by the U.S. team doctor. The Olympian is now on a crusade to spread a message of empowerment to children who’ve possibly been sexually victimized themselves. She recently said, “I do a lot of school visits. I’m trying to communicate to these kids that they have a voice, and if something doesn’t feel right, they should speak up and ask questions.” The decorated gymnast went on to say, “I feel like I have a voice, and I feel like I have a responsibility.” That is all well and good, but also during this time the crusader chose to model for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue – even posing “tastefully” nude for assumingly a predominantly male viewership. I think the gold medalist gave a losing performance with her recent decision to pose especially considering her desire to be a role model for children. What I glean from the confusing message coming from the Olympian is that being victimized is not okay, but being objectified is fine.

These certainly are confusing times, so I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised to find the subject of sex to be perplexing as well. David Brooks, writer and political commentator, proffered his thoughts on that very topic just last month (1/19/18) in The New York Times. He penned, “Over the past 100 years or so, advanced thinkers across the West have worked to take the shame out of sex, surely a good thing. But they’ve also disenchanted it.” This is clearly evident today with the integration of “friends with benefits,” sexting, and the surge in lovers opting to live together without the commitment of marriage. Then there’s the millennial generation (and beyond) who’ve shockingly determined oral sex really isn’t sex, and they are content with engaging in sexual relationships before committing to a boyfriend/girlfriend status.

The prominent writer concluded his Op-Ed piece with a couple of keen observations and some pretty sound advice: “Sex is seen as a shallow physical and social thing, not a heart and soul altering thing. One unintended effect of this disenchantment is that it becomes easy to underestimate the risks inherent in any encounter. It seems that the smarter we get about technology, the dumber we get about relationships. We live in a society in which loneliness, depression and suicide are on the rise. We seem to be treating each other worse. The guiding moral principle here is not complicated: Try to treat other people as if they possessed precious hearts and infinite souls. Everything else will follow.”

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as well in regards to sex in America. Lately, I’ve been pondering why exactly millions of people would respond to the #MeToo campaign and why they’ve waited until now to come forward. I have concluded all men are pigs. I think a better answer though may be that we are in a season of angst, division, and rebellion. The time is ripe for protesting – regardless of a movement’s legitimacy. I think a great number of the #MeToo club’s members may just be longing for inclusion. Our human nature, at its core, is to belong.

God indeed created us with an inbred craving, but that hunger can only be satisfied by Him. From the time we are born, we errantly search for other things in trying to make us feel whole. I understand it can be extremely tempting to participate in something so big – so trendy – just to fit in. This may be the case for an Oscar winning actress who was recently quoted in People magazine (2/19/18) as saying, ‘I went from thinking, “I don’t have a story” to “Oh, wait, I have 100 stories.” I think a lot of people are having these reckonings with themselves.’ I’m sure most of us have stories of a sexual nature we could tell – whether good, bad, or indifferent – but that does not mean they are all #MeToo worthy.

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Immigration

Immigration is not a topic I’m at all passionate about. I certainly have my beliefs and opinions on the matter, and I surely have concerns about our nation’s safety, but I’m not overzealous when it comes to immigration policy, illegal immigration, and immigration reform like a majority of politicians and their constituents appear to be at this time. President Trump, during his first State of the Union address, presented a plan for conquering a problem that has been debated for many, many years. Trump’s immigration proposal calls for what he deems as the four “pillars”: constructing a border wall, granting legal status for the so-called “dreamers,” reducing the family-based immigration system, and replacing the lottery system-based Diversity Immigrant Visa Program with a merit-based system.

The consensus amongst politicians seems to be that any immigration reform must start with securing our nation’s borders. I would venture to say most Americans agree with that sentiment. How to go about it is where people tend to branch off in different directions – turning the issue into a politically partisan situation. Republicans are generally in favor of a wall being built across our southern border while the majority of Democrats are opposed. A short decade ago both parties appeared to be united in favor of constructing a barrier between the United States and Mexico. In 2006, an overwhelming, bipartisan Senate majority, which included Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama, were in favor of building a fence along the border. Today, it’s about building a wall which apparently is one of the sticking points for Democrats.

What good is either a fence or a wall if it can easily be breached? I recently came across a brief article on that very subject. It was just a snippet and buried deep within the pages of The Washington Times, but it was there (1/19/18) nevertheless. Prototypes of President Trump’s proposed wall has been deemed highly effective. Military special forces and U.S Customs and Border Protection special units spent three weeks trying to get past said prototypes without any success. The tactical teams utilized an array of tools and climbing gadgets including torches, saws, and jackhammers, but they found the walls’ astounding heights and durability too difficult to breach. I’m not too enthused about the cost of “the great wall,” but our government has added to our national debt in the past on more frivolous things (e.g., the Iraq War). Hey, isn’t Mexico suppose to pay for the wall anyway?

The President’s second pillar deals with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. I too have some compassion for the “dreamers.” They had no choice when brought here illegally by their parents. However, I feel much differently about the parents – the ones who blatantly broke the law and are totally responsible for putting their children in the predicament they are currently in. This unfortunate situation is neither President Trump’s nor Congress’ fault. I do not understand why illegals (and those avidly lobbying on their behalf) have so much trouble comprehending that breaking the law is wrong.

I’ve been accused of being legalistic…which I proudly am. I believe we have laws for a reason, and if they’re broken there should be consequences. Not all laws are wonderful, and some may not even make all that much sense, but when they are on the books then they need to be obeyed. Therefore, I think illegal immigrants should not be allowed to vote in our elections or receive in-state tuition at our colleges. How many other nations would go to extreme measures, and willingly risk political division, catering to the illegals in their country? Some would surely argue – but that’s what makes our country so special and America so great. I don’t think turning a blind eye to lawbreakers is what makes America great.

President Trump’s remaining two pillars are mostly about reducing the number of immigrants coming into this country and having a better idea of who exactly the ones are being allowed to enter. I view these scaling back efforts as acceptable tweaks to our current immigration policy. Using the proposed merit-based system should take some of the guesswork out of who we’re actually welcoming in to our country. I’m well aware Lady Liberty possesses an inscribed plaque, attached to the spectacular statue’s pedestal, which indeed reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…,” but don’t we already have enough citizens like that legally living here?

It has been reported that Democrats, and even some Republicans, are repulsed by the possibility of Congress finally resolving the immigration problem with President Trump at the helm. Supposedly, their distaste for Trump supersedes passing any immigration reform, and giving their leader a bipartisan victory, even if they would’ve supported such a plan in the past. I hate to imagine any of our elected officials being that vindictive and petty. When giving his State of the Union speech, the President presented his proposition as “a fair compromise” in which “nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs and must have.” Trump went on to say, “These four pillars represent a down the middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern and lawful immigration system.” I concur, although I’m still not at all passionate about the topic of immigration.