I Was Managing Too Many Blogs At Once: Here’s What Happened Next

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Scribo ergo sumHi friends. I haven’t posted here in a little while because I have been busy with my creative writing. As I’ve said before, I’ve been working to make a go of it. Along with Until Proven, I’ve been working on a murder-mystery stage play entitled What Cricket Knows (you can read one scene excerpt by clicking on the title link).

Since I’m working to solidify my writing, I’ve made a page solely dedicated to that endeavor (click here to check it out). It’s also where I will also house continuing updates about Until Proven and any other writing-related projects. This page will still host my op/eds, rantings, satire and advocacy.

Since you’ve been loyal readers, I invite you to like, follow, and share my new page as well, since most of my blogging and updates will come from there. You can also follow me on my Facebook page @jonrgilbert and on Twitter (@Jon_R_Gilbert), and (of course) feel free to share those as well.

Thanks for your faithful reading and I look forward to your continued loyalty!

~Jon

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Memorial Day vs. Veteran’s Day: There is a difference that should be respected

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We visited a local thrift store this afternoon, and I noted a sign on the door alerting customers that the establishment will be closed Monday for Memorial Day. The sign upset me, though not immediately and not for the sentiment. As a Veteran, I appreciate their acknowledgement and thank them for their wishes. I was concerned about the reasoning for the closure: “To give thanks to all those who have served in the Armed Forces.” This is a common confusion, and I couldn’t shake the misunderstanding. I had to tell someone.

I explained the error to the very gracious cashier. I’ll paraphrase:

ME: “No big deal, but your sign for Memorial Day is incorrect.”

HER: “How so?”

ME: “Memorial Day only memorializes those who have died in combat. It’s Veteran’s Day that celebrates all vets.”

HER: “Oh, okay. I didn’t make the sign.”

ME: “I figured. I just needed to vent.”

Then, from behind me, another employee piped in rather directly”

SHE: “Uhm…my husband is a veteran, and he would disagree with you. He says that Memorial Day celebrates all veterans because a little part of all of them died when they left home. Of course, those who returned got it back. But, still. They and their families all suffered loss. So, yeah.”

MY WIFE: “So, what’s Veteran’s Day, then?

SHE: “Oh, that celebrates all veterans.”

Oh…kaaay. So, SHE was half-right. Because, not only is there a difference, but to not recognize that difference is to trivialize the cost paid by those who fell.

First, Memorial Day was established in 1868, just after the Civil War. It began, as “Decoration Day,” and in some areas of the country, especially the South, Decoration Day celebrations still take place in the middle to late spring. Memorial Day only memorializes those who have died while in active military service. People like me did not earn this highest honor, so we do not deserve the recognition.

Veteran’s Day, on the other hand, honors any and all members of the Armed Forces, dead or alive, whether they served in combat or served potatoes in the mess hall. In recognition of the end of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson initially proclaimed November 11 to be Armistice Day, which was changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954. This is the brotherhood to which I belong, and I/we thank you for your support, honor and respect.

Some might say, “Okay, but shouldn’t we be honoring veterans every day, anyhow?” To this, I’ll agree: 364 days every year, we can celebrate, honor, remember and give thanks to every person who has served, is serving or has given his or her life in service of our country.

However, the last Monday in May has been set aside strictly for those who died while committing that service. This one day is theirs. Please honor them and let them have this day.

Here’s a little helper: there are only two Billy Ray Cyrus songs that I like. One is “Burn Down the Trailer Park” because it’s a great song. The other is “Some Gave All.” Indirectly, it explains the difference between the two: All gave some: Veteran’s Day; Some gave all: Memorial Day.

The 13 Things that WILL Happen to You if You’re Falsely Accused of a Sex Crime

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differenceYou’re a teacher with a great reputation. You have been recognized for your care of others and for the good you’ve done for the community. You’ve always tried to lead by example, and you’ve lived in such a way that your own family and children can be proud. While the type of students you’ve chosen to work with puts you at a greater risk for “injury” in every sense of the word, you’ve always worked transparently and conscientiously. You have always made sure to work in such a way that you would never end up scrutinized or under a microscope.

Until the one day, you are.

The saying is true: What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, you were hosting seminars and teaching cooking skills; today, the day that accusations were levied against you, you don’t want to leave your house. It doesn’t matter that you are adamant the allegations are false. Today is not yesterday, and tomorrow looks nothing like you ever imagined it could.

Even though/if the accusations are false, there are certain things that you can expect to happen. It’s a guarantee that these things will befall you, and, sorry to say, you will have little if any control over any of them. False accusations are rare, but they do happen. That’s one reason why the next part of your life is about to suck badly.  That, and even the mere accusation of a sex crime is looked upon by society as worse than murder.

Here are 13 things you should expect to happen if you are falsely accused of a sexual offense.

  • Especially if you are innocent, you will not want to talk with police and you WILL want a lawyer.

Since you know there is a misunderstanding and you just want to get back on with your life, you figure: I have nothing to hide, so I’ll cooperate fully. The last thought you want is that only guilty people need legal representation. Just because you didn’t do anything, does not mean you will be exonerated. In fact, innocent people need a lawyer as much as, if not more, than guilty people.

  • “They” WILL lie to you (because they can)

Don’t think for a second that law enforcement authorities are your friends. They are not. They have to close cases, and if they’ve accused you, they’re already planning to take this to the end.  They will tell you they only want to help you, and assure you that “just a couple answers should clear things up.” They can tell you anything in order to get a confession or to get you to even slightly incriminate yourself. In their minds, they are sure you’re guilty. Hell, police themselves admit that nothing you say will convince them to change their minds about you. But they can and will do everything they can to get you to change yours.

  • Once you are charged (and you will be), law enforcement WILL share your situation with the media (and, essentially, with the world)

After the point they process you (they take your mug shot and fingerprints), and regardless if you never see a moment behind bars (you’re released on a citation, etc.), a press release regarding your situation will be passed along to the media. Not only will your local news station get the release, but law enforcement will share your situation on Twitter, their own Facebook page, with regional press bureaus and other mass media. Since the community is entitled to freedom of information, this does not violate your rights. As the article says above, the police are convinced you’re guilty, so they’re sharing their opinion about your guilt.

  • The news media WILL get your story wrong (on purpose)

Nothing sells newspapers or airtime like controversy. Your situation has just made the job of the salespeople at newspapers and TV and radio stations infinitely easier. Once your story is released, you’ve just become days of increased newspaper sales and broadcast listener- and viewership. And, since it is law enforcement who is making claims about you, newspapers don’t have to say that you “allegedly” did such-and-such, so long as they preface any claims with “according to police;” as long as they start with those words, then the media can say you did whatever it is the press release says you did. And that’s what people hear.

Of course, there are times when the media embellish upon what law enforcement shared with them. But, that’s fodder for an upcoming article.

  • The social media community WILL vilify you

We’ll assume for the sake of this article that you’re telling the truth and you did not commit the egregious acts of which you’re accused. So what? If the media shared it with Facebook, you are going to become the topic of conversation. And, because the media said (according to police, of course) that you did act like a scum ball, you’re about to become the Worst Person of the Week. The hit-and-run driver who was caught clear as day running over a lady crossing the street will become a saint compared to what you’re about to experience. Comments like, “should be hung by his boy-parts” (it’s usually guys, so we’ll stick with that), “what I’ll do if I ever see him,” or “someone who is supposed to be protecting our kids” will be flung about, often with colorful sentence enhancers attached. Never mind the fact that you’ve not been convicted of anything. The hit-and-run driver gets the “let’s wait until all the facts are in” benefit of the doubt. You, on the other hand, will not get such courtesy.

  • Literally everyone WILL have doubts about you (at least at first)

Even those who know you better than anyone will have a moment where one or another of the purported facts will cause them to wrinkle a brow. Your spouse, your mom, or your best friend, all of whom might be able to account for your every move, will at some point hear something that doesn’t sit right with them…if even for just a second. It’s natural, and there’s likely some psychology behind it. That doesn’t matter; the fact that it happens at all is going to suck.

  • Your list of friends WILL become infinitely smaller (but you’ll learn who your true friends are)

We’ll assume that pretty much all of the people you know are humans. That said, you can count on the fact that, as humans, they’re a pretty predictable bunch. Most people want to live a clean life and call themselves “good people.” What most people don’t want is to be associated with really bad things. So, regardless of what you think even your closest friends would really think about you is irrelevant. Once accusations are made about you, they’re going to scatter like cockroaches to a kitchen light. The guy you’ve known 10 years? Now he’s nowhere to be found. Your kid’s Godparents? They might as well have moved to the other side of the planet.

On the other hand, there will be a small circle of people who know in their heart of hearts that you’re still the person they’ve always known. You’ll know who they are, too: They’ll be the ones fighting your battle in the news channel comments before you even know what’s going on; they’ll be the ones to call you from 1,200 miles away to tell you what they saw on Facebook and that they’ve got your back; they are the ones you previously only considered a casual friend, but then call you every day to check in on you, because they “just know.” Hold on tightly to these people.

  • You WILL want to begin professing your innocence

Maybe that’s okay with the group of friends listed above. With everyone else, though, it won’t matter. If you haven’t figured it out by now, with this kind of situation you’re guilty until you are proven innocent. When you shout, only the people who already believe in you will agree with you. The rest have also made up their minds. Differently.

  • You WILL feel ashamed for something you didn’t do

Sometimes good people get looked upon questionably, simply because they hang around with a certain element. We call this “guilt by association.” There’s a similar term that means you feel ashamed by the things people say about you, even when you know those things aren’t true: guilt by accusation. The mind can be a brutal critic, and there’s little you can do about it. In fact,

  • You WILL become a hermit (or buy a disguise, or color your hair, or grow/shave your beard)

If you’re “fortunate” (for lack of a better word) to have been released on a citation (that is, the court has issued conditions you must meet, but you remain out of jail), you’re still going to be imprisoned. Regardless if you live in a Podunk town in New England, or a big city in Texas, you’re going to have a local community where people know you. They know you at the grocery store, the bank, and Denny’s. And, they likely heard some not-so-good things about you recently. That’s enough to make you want to stay in bed all day.

If you do plan to venture out, you’ll likely consider a hair color, adding a new beard or shaving off an old one, or buying a baseball cap and sunglasses. Even when you should be holding your head up high, that whole “guilt by accusation” thing, and the Facebook banter about you can take a toll. When you’re sure the world is against you, you’ll do what makes you feel safe.

  • Your reputation WILL be destroyed, you will lose your job and you will go broke

Thanks to social media, your mug shot showing up on your local Eyewitness news station, and everything law enforcement has done, whatever reputation you had in the past will be staying there. Then, your job won’t want you around anymore for either safety-sake or their own reputation, so a pink slip is all but in the mail. And now, without a job (or even the prospect for one, because accusation) and the need for legal representation, your money will evaporate quickly.

Remember: while all this is happening, you have still only been accused, you have not been convicted of anything and you’re adamant that the allegation is false.

  • You WILL need mental health counseling

If ever you needed an outside ear, now is the time. You’ll want to keep your mind clean, and you’ll likely have some stress, anxiety and maybe even depression to deal with. Get a good counselor and stick with it. Because (and we’ll put this in a paragraph instead of a heading), you will also contemplate (if even for a moment) taking the easy way out (yes, it can and probably will get that bad).

  • Even though the accusation is false and regardless of the outcome, you WILL be considered guilty until you’re proven innocent (and most likely even after that)

You’ve read this article, and by now you understand that, during this type of situation, the justice system most of us think we understand does not exist. You’re guilty because of the nature of this allegation. There’s nothing you can do about it. Sure, there’s a shot you’ll be exonerated in court, and if so, congratulations. But even after that, it’s a long road ahead. Check out this article to read more: When a Dismissed Case is Still a Life Sentence.

 

Comments? Do you have a similar situation? Let us know below.

Where’s My Refund? Apparently, the IRS Doesn’t Have to Tell You

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Filing one’s tax return electronically is supposed to be The Way to Go. We personally use a popular online service, which costs a few bucks, but it’s quick, easy and we’ve never before had a problem. Fill in the blanks, answer some questions, agree to a couple of disclaimers, and click send. The IRS assures that (nearly) every refund filed electronically will be deposited into your checking account of choice in less than 21 days. We filed January 27.

As any Gregorian calendar (or kindergarten kid) will tell you, 21 days from 1/27 is February 17. We’ve never had an issue in the past, so I trusted the system and waited until 2/15 to check the IRS Where’s My Refund tool. As every year before, I expected to see the status bar that many of us are familiar with:

irsrefundstatus

What I got was this instead:

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It was odd, but I figured maybe there was a system glitch or the status bar just went missing. Because, you know, Government.

Tax Topic 152 noted in the screenshot above says to wait three weeks before calling the IRS for more info. I waited until 2/18 to call. After going through the painfully long, excruciatingly slow “choose your own adventure” that is the IRS phone system, I finally reached a representative. After I answered half a dozen or so identification questions, she left me to look into my account.

The representative came back after about 3 minutes and asked how I’d filed. As I’d done in my introduction with her, I told the rep that I’d filed electronically with a commercial online service. She told me that the system had coded my return incorrectly: instead of marking my return as filed electronically, the system had somehow coded it as a paper filing. As a result, she said, it would be like I’d mailed the return and would have to wait six weeks. Because, government.

While I  was frustrated to say the least, I acquiesced. I mean, what choice did I have? This is the IRS; it’s not like I would get anywhere fighting them. They have you over a barrel. So, I waited.

At five weeks (March 2) I called again, and again chose my own adventure. I went through 8 layers of choices, until I got to one that instructed me to Chicken Dance while I was waiting for the next available representative (And we can tell, so you better be doing it).

When the agent came on the line, she went through the same string of verification questions as February Representative, and then put me on hold to check with the department working on my return. Wait? There’s a specific department working on it? What does that mean? When she came back on the line, she reminded me that the answer was the same as it was when I’d called in February.

I asked her if there was a problem, if I had missed something or if there was anything I could do to help. She told me that, if there was had been an issue I would have gotten a letter by now. She assured me that the department working on my account was nearly finished, and I would have my refund by the 6-8 weeks I had been quoted in February. I didn’t argue with her, either. Again, what choice did I have.

Concerned, I started to do some research. Come to find out, I’m not the only one in this situation. I found other cases where people are experiencing the same concerns. That got me a little worried, so today, at 7 weeks, I called again.

After getting through the Tree of Phone Prompts, I was put on hold for what the system told me would be up to 15 minutes (I wasn’t hanging up for anything). About 12 minutes later, the representative came on, verified my info again, and then asked if I would mind waiting on hold for a moment. What choice did I have?

She came back after a couple of minutes with the answer I was looking for. However, it was not the answer I was expecting, and her response only made me more upset. Apparently, during some previous tax year, there was an attempt at identity theft on our account. Because of this, my tax return is being reviewed thoroughly, and that process alone takes the eight weeks to complete. Then, after that’s done, she said, I’ll have to wait an additional eight weeks for the refund to actually be processed. There was nothing she could do about it.

I asked why it was that I had to call to find this out. I mean, IDENTITY THEFT is kind of a big deal; you’d think a person might want to know that someone had tried to access their tax records. While she kindly agreed, she had no answer. I told her I believe (though this may just be me overreacting) that the IRS should notify customers when there is suspected ID theft on an account; at the very least, they should send a letter at some point during tax return processing (as radical as that sounds). She agreed, but said there was nothing she could do. I asked at what point a representative would have known this information. She said the first person I called back in February would have.

Of course she did.

While I appreciate that the IRS is researching my return to make sure everything is legit, I’m pissed that it took me calling them to find out. I’m pissed that representatives have known this information for months, yet during two exasperating phone calls, no one ever told me. I’m pissed that I have to wait more than five times the original expected wait to get a return that’s owed to me (I filed electronically; after the research is done, process my return in the 21 days it would have originally taken).

Mostly, though, I’m pissed because, if I waited 16 weeks past the April 15 deadline to pay a tax bill, the IRS would bring all manner of pyroclastic flow down upon my head. Yet, I have no recourse when they keep my money from me without explanation.

Because, government.

Comments?

When a Dismissed Case is Still a Life Sentence

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dismissedThe syndrome of putting the rights of an accuser above the rights of the accused is a chronic condition. In at least one previous story, Prompts and Circumstances discussed what little evidence is needed in certain cases, in order to bring charges against a person. As that article reveals, only an accusation and a signed affidavit are needed to initiate proceedings, and, many times, little (if any) investigation is required. Similar to this story about college men accused of rape, even after the accused is exonerated or the case is dismissed, the infectious damage caused by the allegation is irreparable.

While a defendant in a criminal case has the expectation of certain protected civil rights, they are overstepped and habitually ignored by the media, authorities, and the typical, human reaction of “torches and pitchforks.”

Once an accusation is made public, emotions are fomented, perceptions are created, and biases are formed. Wont as we are to believe that law enforcement, government agencies or school authorities wouldn’t mislead or lie to us, and that they would have unequivocal reason to begin a proceeding, we spread the blight. Not knowing that there likely has been very little exploration into the evidence or accusation, the reputation of the inculpated person is instantaneously terminated; her or his life is permanently changed. Presumption of innocence, be damned.

But, the rights of the accuser (I stop short of using the word “victim,” because they are not always) are put first. While a defendant in a criminal case has the expectation of certain protected civil rights, they are overstepped and habitually ignored by the media, authorities, and the typical, human reaction of “torches and pitchforks.” Meanwhile, those on the outside immediately close ranks around the accuser, who few are aware is often protected by law from investigation and examination. Not many know that the “system” to which they entrust their confidence has been purposely disfigured in order to favor condemnation over truth.

Frustratingly, the system that refuses to accept or recognize the possibility of false accusations works in favor of the establishment. Those of little means, or who are unable to fight on their own, often become victims themselves. Public defenders and court-appointed attorneys are underpaid and overworked. For them, it is both time and cost effective to convince their client to take a plea rather than fight a complicated case of fabricated claims that could still lead to trial – even in the face of little evidence and the likelihood of innocence.

The stain that was born from the hemorrhage that the allegation slashed into the blamed person’s life will not wash away with any immediacy.

Sometimes, however, the system realizes that it made a mistake. It recognizes that, while little evidence was needed to bring the charge, it cannot put enough together to make a case that will end in its own favor. The system refused to consider the likelihood that no wrongdoing occurred in the first place. With sheepish reluctance, the establishment accepts that their hand is called and they are forced to dismiss.

That’s good news, right? No, actually; it isn’t for anyone. In this development (as goes without saying), the accuser will have their own cross to bear. The system, though, will do what it can to save face and retain the upper hand. And the accused should not expect immediate (if any) absolution, apology or retraction. In fact, such a scenario could play against the censured person — this foul entity who “got away with it.” The stain that was born from the hemorrhage that the allegation slashed into the blamed person’s life will not wash away with any immediacy.

That is the problem with a system built to favor the rights of the accuser and ignore the equally important rights of the one being accused: no matter the outcome and regardless of innocence, if someone has been accused of certain heinous acts, a life of “normalcy” will heretofore be lost. Aside from the accused’s few remaining ardent supporters, not many outsiders will be willing to shake the “what if” from their brains. And, in this technological age, even fewer will ignore, let alone embrace, the lurking questions stimulated by a Google search.

Authorities are allowed to use just enough information to ruin the life of an inculpated person, and they can just as easily walk away once they recognize the futility of the situation.

A dismissal is not enough to shake those lingering concerns, either; certainly the media will not retract earlier reports vilifying the blamed, and the prosecutor’s office is not likely to admit they may have jumped to conclusions. A lost job will not necessarily be earned back simply because the case went away. Former friends who had previously vanished will not be inclined to send emails saying that they had been supporting all along in silent vigil. And, again, there’s that pesky Internet. The good news is that, eventually, information about the case will fall to page six or eight of a web search. Chances are low, though, that a curative follow-up will ever be found on Page 1.

The sad dichotomy of this type of accusation is that, in the beginning, there was perceived to be enough information to warrant a case, and maybe even an arrest, but there was not enough to carry the case to a decisive end. Authorities are allowed to use just enough information to ruin the life of an inculpated person, and they can just as easily walk away once they recognize the futility of the situation.

Where does that leave the one who was blamed? Typically jobless, friendless, lacking reputation and begging for forgiveness for a situation they did not actually create. Some might find legal recourse and financial remedy. But, with the way the system is set up, it’s rare that the authorities or accuser are found to be liable for the situation. The establishment will claim they acted in “good faith,” and the accuser will stand by their original claim. Meanwhile the wrongly-accused person’s only parting gift is liberation.

Comments?

If the Game is Rigged, What’s the Point in Playing?

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The Republican Congress of the United States won’t consider President Obama’s court nominee to replace deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, though they are obligated to do so by the Constitution.

Certain presidential candidates are allowed to incite hatred and call for violence from their supporters against specified groups, though you or I would be arrested for doing the same thing.

The spouse of a current presidential candidate, who also used to be President of the US, campaigns for his spouse at polling places, even though it is illegal; it is brushed off, though you or I would be arrested for doing so (even if you don’t believe he “campaigned,” per se, his presence was influential and questionable).

A political party committee chairperson continually changes the rules midstream and deliberately sets the system to work against other candidates so that the committee leader’s annointed choice has an easier time in the race; you or I would have been called out long ago for such acts in a workplace.

The media deliberately blacks out the presidential primary run of certain candidates in order to favor those who are more entertaining (ratings and ad revenue) or to whom they are more beholden (corporate and political influence), yet you and I are expected to maintain our honesty, integrity and virtue.

Someone please tell me then, why our (your, my, and the every-person) involvement in the political process matters even one miniscule bit. Tell me why we should give a crap about following the rule of law when those making the laws thumb their noses at those laws. I mean, They only care about Their own gain, and anyone who honestly cares about The People is deliberately shut out of the process.

When the game is so unforgivingly rigged, unethical behavior is condoned (encouraged, even), and certain entities are allowed and expected to ignore their responsibilities, somebody out there please give the rest of us the irrefutable proof and confidence that we do matter, or, at the very least, that we have any influence at all.

Takers?

By Donald Trump’s Logic, Hateful Rhetoric is an Invitation to a Love Fest and Autism is Linked to Breathing Oxygen

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I’m sure that many of those who have been paying attention will agree that this has been one of the oddest, most disconcerting and least professional political campaign seasons in the history of…well…ever! Never before, during a presidential primary, has there been so much talk of criminal investigations, political revolutions, or the candidates’ sexual anatomy. And, in case any of that slipped past you, there’s also been a lot of talk about political rallies, protesters, the definition of Freedom of Speech, and…I think…yeah, I think I heard something about people beating their political views into other people. It’s been different.

Perhaps the most “different” thing about this political season is the Trumped-up vitriol being spewed by one particular candidate. I’m not sure there has been this level of hatred, fear mongering and calls for violence in any U.S. presidential race in the history of our country. The fact that Donald Trump has been recorded encouraging violent action, and then denying that he ever has, is the most blatant display of arrogance one could ever imagine. Either that, or he simply doesn’t listen to the words coming out of his mouth.

Look, I agree that guy was wrong for rushing the stage in Ohio while Trump was speaking (even though I might understand why he thought he needed to do it). But then, Trump saw a random Tweet that implied the guy was an ISIS supporter, instead of vetting the social media report, Trump retweeted it with his own commentary. Turns out, as one or two things on the Internet turn out to be, it was a hoax. The video was of the correct person, but was from a completely unrelated protest that happened almost a year ago.

Did that stop the Republican frontrunner from standing by his message? What do you think? In fact, The Donald’s response shows his special brand of denial and refusal to accept responsibility (we’ll touch more on that in a bit). Instead of saying, “Oops, guys. Sorry I sent that without checking first,” in an interview with moderator Chuck Todd of Meet the Press, Trump said:

Now, I don’t know, what do I know about it? All I know is what’s on the Internet.

Wait? What’s that again? It’s on the Internet is your citation? Well, fact checking be damned! By that logic then, I’m here to finally reveal to you today that we know why autism is at epidemic levels; we also know that there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. That’s because:

A new study shows that autism is related to mothers who breathed oxygen during pregnancy.

No. Wait. It’s mom’s themselves!

Neither one of these articles was written by someone with more or less credibility than the typical Twitter user. Yet, by Trump’s logic, even though he doesn’t “know [anything] about it, both satirical conclusions are on the Internet, so both must be true. Well, alrighty then. Check and check. Moving on.

It’s this absolution from responsibility that follows Trump wherever he goes. And it’s this absolution that is most dangerous. Trump will say whatever he wants to, so long as it incendiates his followers (check out these Rachel Maddow and Kate Snow timelines). Then, he walks away saying that he never encouraged violence, doesn’t condone it, and refuses to accept responsibility.

In fact, Trump feels that he should get credit for how he has handled violence and should not be scorned. In fact, again on Meet the Press, Trump said:

“I don’t accept responsibility, I do not condone violence in any shape.”

“I’m just expressing my opinion. What have I said that’s wrong?”

Well, let me think. On 2/1/16 in Iowa, you’re recorded as saying:

“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”

Then, 21 days later in Nevada, you said:

“I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks. It’s true. … I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

And 2/26, in Oklahoma:

“In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast. But today, everybody’s politically correct. Our country’s going to hell with being politically correct.”

Sure, I’ll give you that those two are just commentaries. But, don’t you think they might just have a tiny scrap of influence on rabid followers? By way of example, Charles Manson never killed anyone personally that we know of. But he was able to get his followers to do it for him.

Like in this case, on March 4 in Michigan:

“Get out of here. Get out. Out! … This is amazing. So much fun. I love it. I love it. We having a good time? USA, USA, USA! … All right, get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it. … We had four guys, they jumped on him, they were swinging and swinging. The next day, we got killed in the press — that we were too rough. Give me a break. You know? Right? We don’t want to be too politically correct anymore. Right, folks?”

You’re right: People deserve to be silenced and thrown out for having differing opinions.

Even silently protesting

Quietly holding a sign that says “Equality” will get you rousted, too

March 9, in North Carolina, Trump waxes nostalgically for the Good Ol’ Days (when was that again? Refresh my memory for me, please. Was it 1938? 1944?):

“In the good old days, this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily. But today, they walk in and they put their hand up and put the wrong finger in the air at everybody, and they get away with murder, because we’ve become weak.”

First, minor consequences for flipping somone a single-finger salute is not letting them “get away with murder.” They, just us Trump claims to be doing, are expressing their opinion toward his vitriolic rhetoric. Then, two days later in Missouri, Trump doubled down on his own opinion regarding protesters (he and his followers are apparently the only ones entitled to have an opinion):

“And honestly, protesters, they realize it — they realize that there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences. There are none anymore.”

It’s true: that pesky Constitution thingy gets in the way of beating non-believers into submission. That’s probably one reason why The Donald would love to get rid of the damned thing, anyhow.

Trump, promising that the US Constitution will not get in the way of his administration

Under Donald Trump’s watch, people like Woodward and Bernstein would have been sued beyond recognition.

In fact, he has interfered with legitimate journalism throughout his campaign as well

Check out this video where a credentialed journalist was arrested for resisting arrest. First, he was never told he was being arrested, and there is no evidence of his resisting (though he did identify as a credentialed reporter).

Or this one, where a Trump-friendly reporter was manhandled (and later resigned, because she was not supported by her own news organization, Brietbart.

While the freedom of speech and expression of those who oppose Trump is suppressed at every turn, The Donald insists that his freedom of expression not be. He has so much as encouraged the violence that results from his venomous speech, including offering to pay the legal fees of any of his supporters who is arrested for assaulting a protester.

The direct result is the “freedom of expression” Trump’s supporters are inflicting upon otherwise innocent people, even outside of the rallies. Take this headline, for example:

White Trump Supporter Violently Attacks Muslim And Hispanic Students In Kansas

And what about when kids begin to emulate and pick up on it?

The ‘Trump Effect’ is contaminating our kids — and could resonate for years

Yet,

Donald Trump Bristles At The Idea He’s Inspired Kids To Act Racist

Even though:

White Students Keep Using Anti-Latino ‘Trump’ Chants at High School Basketball Games

Trump was later asked by NPR reporter Cokie Roberts if he was proud of the way children are repeating his hateful speech and rhetoric. Instead of reflecting on the question and responding with insight and understanding, Trump attacked Roberts, saying:

“Well, I think your question is a very nasty question.”

He brushed aside Roberts’ “nasty” (uncomfortable?) question, ignoring the fact that white children are yelling “build a wall” and “speak English” at children of Hispanic descent (regardless the fact that the children were born in the same hospitals as many of their taunters). Trump didn’t consider that perhaps there should be a conversation with children in order to put his comments into a perspective they can understand. Nope, he just said that “people are responding positively” to the idea of a wall.

Donald Trump is dangerous. He is either incomparably naive (not bloody likely) or he is incredibly arrogant and narcissistic (probably). He encourages hate and stifles speech, then has the audacity to say, “Hey, it’s not my fault. It wasn’t me; it was them!” He creates animosity and deflects responsibility. He invites his supporters to “knock the crap out of” people opposed to his indoctrination, and then calls it a f#(king “Love Fest.”

Well, nothing says “I love you” like a whomping from a body guard (2015)

Let’s close with this sentiment from “The Daily Show”

Thoughts? Questions? Complaints? Do you agree or disagree?
All respectful comments are welcome.

Dangling in the Dark: The True Story of Officers NightVision And TapTap

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PoPoA couple of years ago, we were driving home about midnight after a company Christmas party. More specifically, we were directly on our way back from Lori’s mom’s house; we had just rescued her from what I was sure was a lovely, fun-filled evening with the kids. I was driving, and I had not been drinking (this is not an indictment of those who do; you don’t need me to preach that you shouldn’t – it’s simply background to set up the story – really!). We had just turned the corner from the main road onto our side street.

I was confused: Was this a traffic stop? Did he see me miss the cat? Did I hit the cat? Was there an accident at the back entrance to my driveway? Did he just need me to pull over and let him go around? Was I being “punk’d” by a vengeful coworker?

As turned to the right into our driveway, I was forced to slam on my brakes. A neighbor’s cat had jumped off our porch and ran in front of the car – close call, but I missed! After taking a breath, I finished pulling into the driveway, which squeezed between our house and the nosey neighbor’s to the right. I didn’t even make it to my parking spot in the back, when the rear window of my Grand Cherokee was suddenly awash with white and blue flashing lights.

A cop.

No shit.

In my driveway.

I couldn’t imagine what he thought we had done, but I was sure that barely missing a cat didn’t warrant excessive use of force.

I was confused: Was this a traffic stop? Did he see me miss the cat? Did I hit the cat? Was there an accident at the back entrance to my driveway? Did he just need me to pull over and let him go around? Was I being “punk’d” by a vengeful coworker? It took more than two minutes to find out; meanwhile the strobes continued to flash into the always uncovered window (another story we’ll save for later) of my nosey neighbor’s bedroom.

The wiry cop finally approached my car, squeezing between the vehicles and our house. He shined his flashlight into the rear seat, and the kids (who were buckled snugly) stayed asleep while they squinted against the intrusive light. I noticed in my side mirror that the cop had unclipped his holster. I couldn’t imagine what he thought we had done, but I was sure that barely missing a cat didn’t warrant excessive use of force. With my window already down and Lori rifling through the glove box for the vital papers, I started off the conversation.

“Good evening officer. How can I help you?” I asked with utmost politeness.

Lori had found the insurance card, but was still digging for the registration.

Besides, I thought, the traffic through my driveway at this time of evening is pretty light.

“Your vehicle registration, driver’s license and insurance card please,” he said with no voice inflection whatsoever.

I handed him what papers I had, explained we were still digging for the registration, and asked him again what we had done.

“Just one moment, sir; I’ll be right back,” the cop dismissed as he turned to squeeze back to his car.

“Just a minute!” Lori hollered through my window. The police officer stopped, and his leather belt creaked as he turned back toward the faceless voice coming from the open window. “We have a right to know why you stopped us!” she admonished. I slunk down in my seat.

He returned as quickly as the tight space would let him, scanned the whole interior of our car, and then pointed to the objects hanging from the rear view mirror.

“Those dangly things,” he said. After a sloth-like pause, he continued, “They obstruct your view and are against the law.” With no more explanation, he turned back toward his cruiser.

“Sir?” I asked modestly. He stopped again and dropped his shoulders, obviously frustrated that he was still standing in the cold answering our pointless questions. He turned his head, and I continued. “Since we’re in my driveway, and your lights are flashing into my neighbor’s bedroom, would you be good enough to turn them off? Not like we can go anywhere,” my uneasy voice chuckled. Besides, I thought, the traffic through my driveway at this time of evening is pretty light.

“Find your registration, and I’ll think about turning them off,” he said.

I was confused. How, at night and from inside his moving car, could Officer NightVision have seen the “dangly things” dangling from the rear view mirror of our moving car in the split second that he could have seen us turning in to our driveway?

Lori was pissed. She continued rummaging through the glove box in search of the elusive registration certificate. A metallic “tap-tap” on the passenger side window broke her from her spelunking.

Looking to the right, she and I noticed a second police officer who had joined the first; Officer NightVision had called for back-up … over dangly things! Officer TapTap motioned for Lori to roll down the passenger-side window. As she did, TapTap took note of the random sample of two years’ worth of accumulated glovebox debris clenched in Lori’s fingers.

‘This is mustard,’ she snarked.

‘And this is pepper.’

‘You’re going to get us arrested,’ I whispered through clenched teeth. My protestations went ignored.

‘And this? This is a napkin.’

Shining his Maglite at her hands, the cop commanded, “Ma’am, stop what you’re doing. Right now!”

Lori froze, giving Officer TapTap “that look.”

“In your hand … what is that right there in your hand?” he asked.

“What, this?” she asked, now thoroughly annoyed. It was obvious what the package in her fingers contained; anyone who had ever visited a snack bar would have been familiar with the product inside of the white, scallop-shaped packet.

Without so much as a pause, she condescendingly sang, “This is sa-alt.”

TapTap withdrew. “That’s fine ma’am. You can roll up the window. Thank you.”

“Oh no!” replied Lori. “It’s far from fine.” She began pulling individual items from the storage bin.

“This is mustard,” she snarked.

“And this is pepper.”

You’re going to get us arrested,” I whispered through clenched teeth. My protestations went ignored.

“And this? This is a napkin. And this is a …”

I cut her off.

“Did you find the registration?”

She handed me the white slip of paper, just as Officer NightVision returned to our car. I showed him the certificate; he looked at it quickly, and then handed me back the documents.

“Just take those things off the mirror, sir.” Without another word, he then turned on his heel and got back into his car. The strobes went dark, and the two police cruisers backed into the street.

Watch out for the cat, I thought.

  • Ever had a curious or humorous run-in with your friendly Men or Ladies in Blue? Care to share? Comment and let us know!

Blog Name Change: “Read All You Want” is now “Prompts and Circumstances”

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Hello, all. Since the website for this blog is http://www.promptsandcircumstances.wordpress.com, it only makes sense to me to change the blog title to the same name. Prompts and Circumstances also better describes the essence of this site: “prompts” refers to the writing portion, and “circumstances” describes the “true story” nature of many of my posts.

Also, “prompts and circumstances” is reminiscent of “pomp and circumstance,” which means a splendid celebration.bannerfans_17119341

Working Memoir “Until Proven:” Unjust and Indifferent

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Until Proven (1)

As this novel progresses, I’m encountering situations that even a person with the least amount of legal background would find unjust. For example:

Unjust is when the one who is accused is doing more work on the case than those doing the accusing or those who are supposed to be defending.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who wants to enter into a criminal trial and risk negative judicial action against them. But, at a certain point, the risk of the outcome is better than sitting around waiting for something to happen. Unjust is when the one who is accused is doing more work on the case than those doing the accusing or those who are supposed to be defending.

This is presently my situation. Over 15 months ago, I was accused of a pretty dastardly thing. I maintain my innocence as I have since the beginning. Of course, as the process goes, the case was thoroughly publicized, bringing an end to my once-robust reputation. Unjust is when the agency that accused a person in the first place has lost interest in moving forward.

As a result of the case, other agencies began embedding themselves in the life of my family. Fifteen months later, those same organizations that were once bullying me into submitting to intimidating and arbitrary practices, have begun to ignore me. Still, I am trying to move on with my life. Unjust is when the agency that was once in control of dictating a family’s movements – an organization that (under the guise of insisting they were there to help) brought ruination to a family already seeking normalcy – has all but abandoned them.

Even the person assigned to defend me has chosen to again ignore the case. More than 90 days have transpired since I last heard from my advocate. Calls and letters go without reply, promises of progress go unmet, and dates of expected action pass by without attention. I am the only one looking at a potentially disastrous negative outcome, so I continues to take care of the necessary elements on my own. Unjust is the lawyer who is disinterested and apathetic.

Unjust are those who realize that they ruined the life of an innocent person, and choose instead to take a Vow of Indifference.

I maintain my innocence because…well…I am innocent. It’s obvious now that there are other involved parties who feel the same, yet they refuse to admit it or dismiss the situation. Even so; almost a year and a half has passed, and (even if I wanted to) I am unable to begin rebuilding my reputation. Unjust are the people who level accusations, then become unresponsive in order to save face because they now have something to lose.

In reality, my family and I are the only ones with anything to lose. The others involved who do not support me are content with considering the effects on our family to be irrelevant. Unjust are those who realize that they ruined the life of an innocent person, and choose instead to take a Vow of Indifference.

(Update (4/8/2016): I’ve been told that my case hasn’t moved because it is low priority and will be dismissed.)