Category Archives: Personal

Suicide, the Elephant in the Room

Seeing as it’s National Suicide Prevention week, and it’s still something that doesn’t garner enough conversation, I’d be remiss not point out a few things I’ve come to understand when it comes to suicide, and the contemplation of it, as well as dealing with those in such a situation. Now, if you’ve ever read anything I write, you know I can get a bit long winded, so, you’ve been warned.
1) Don’t be the, “they’re only doing it for attention” person. A) Taking that route might result in the biggest regret you ever have in life. And B) Because OF COURSE THEY’RE DOING IT FOR ATTENTION. They know something isn’t right, they’re absolutely crying out for attention because they know they need help, somewhere, with something, and they don’t know how to do it themselves. Don’t be that callous asshole who just says they’re only looking for attention and turns the other way.
2) When someone is contemplating suicide, or makes mention of possibly considering it, or no longer sees it as the worst option, do NOT go about telling them how selfish they are for that, and how big of a jerk they are, or what a coward they are for feeling that way. That will only reinforce the feelings they already have. Do you think they WANT to feel the way they do? Do you REALLY think it’s something they choose to feel? So don’t go prove them right about themselves by saying things like that. Focus on positive reinforcement, don’t hammer home the negatives.
3) Just remember, in just about every case of suicidal thoughts and attempts, the thought process includes honestly believing those they care about will be better off. In the mind of the person contemplating suicide, they’re doing something selfless. Is that fucked up? Of course it is. But hey, that’s what being depressed is, it’s being fucked up. And that kind of fuckedupdedness needs attention and needs help. So if you unfortunately are a survivor of someone who did commit suicide, know that when they did what they did, they were doing what they felt, in that moment, was the best thing they could do for those they loved and cared about. Thinking of them as selfish is wrong. Is it a selfish act? In black and white terms, yes, sure it is. But this isn’t a black and white issue. What a healthy mind sees as normal, or sees as selfish, or sees as any number of things, differs greatly from what the mind of someone suffering from depression sees. Be cognizant of that. The way someone suffering from depression rationalizes something versus the way someone who doesn’t is night and day.
4) Not everyone is going to say something when they feel these feelings and venture into the darkest of dark places. Some people will keep it to themselves and then all of a sudden out of nowhere they take their life. Except, it’s not out of nowhere. The signs are there. Pay attention to those you care about. When you notice significant changes in behavior, a propensity to listen to and watch sad things ALL the time, a cutting out of things they used to do for enjoyment, appetite changes, solidarity, etc…. don’t hesitate to speak up. Just talk to them. Engage them. But do so positively. Don’t tell them they’re being a debbie downer, or a loner, or simply that they need to stop drinking so much. This will only serve as that negative reinforcement. But be mindful of those you love and care about. Pay attention to the subtle things, because sometimes they’re really not so subtle.
5) This one I can’t stress enough. NEVER tell someone who is depressed to simply “get over it”. For someone who struggles with depression, yes, something as trivial to you as losing a book they had since they were a child, or even a sporting event, can trigger a trip down a dark place. There’s a difference in legit depression and being disappointed over something, but for those who are susceptible to depression, it doesn’t take much. And it also makes it easy to magnify the most trivial of things. If it happens to be something “bigger”, like losing a pet, the end of a relationship, losing a job, going to jail, etc…. “Just get over it”, or simply, “It will get better” isn’t going to work. Telling someone struggling with depression that only causes them to (again, their way of rationalizing things is different than someone not struggling with depression) fall further into their oblivion as they wonder and get angry over the fact that they can’t have that outlook. They would love to feel that confidence. But they don’t. And it creates an even more desolate and dire outlook.
Depression isn’t something you “get over”. It’s not something you ever have complete control of, even when you seemingly have control of it. It’s always there, lurking, waiting, and ready to pounce. It’s something you must always be mindful of, and always be wary of things that might trigger trips to dark places.
Michelob used to run an ad campaign that had the slogan, “Some days are better than others”. This couldn’t be more true for anyone struggling with depression, even those who have a very good handle on it. Some days just suck, and you don’t know why, you don’t have any explanation for it, but they just do. If you know someone who fights depression, understand this about them. Don’t give them shit for being in a “mood” that day.
Some days the sun is bright and the world is a wonderful place. Others, it takes everything inside that outwardly smiling and bubbling person to keep themselves from just hitting the eject button. And there may not have been anything in particular that even caused it, no specific event or trigger. It’s just another day in the life of fighting something that you never completely defeat.
Suicide is still a giant elephant in the room. It’s an uncomfortable topic for many. And I’m willing to bet part of why it’s so uncomfortable is because discussing it forces to people to look at themselves, and that can be scary.
Those who have survived suicide attempts, or those who fight depression on a daily basis can help shed light to prevent others from making the mistakes that they made. But they need to feel as though it’s something they can openly talk about without judgement from others, without being looked down upon, or treated as though they’re beneath others and some kind of weird emo freak.
For years I created a wonderfully entertaining story as to how I got my scars and why I have no stomach or esophagus. And then as I got to know you, and trust you, I would tell the truth.
Not anymore. You ask, I tell. Or, like in the case of a first date, I tell you I will tell you later. But I don’t fabricate an explanation anymore. I don’t take shame in it. I’ve learned so much from it, and know of multiple times my experience has both helped someone contemplating it, and also been of great comfort to those who have lost someone to suicide. It’s a part of who I am. It’s a battle I fight every day. But I don’t need to pretend I got drunk at a pool party and chugged the wrong bottle in the pool shed. I’m also fortunate that I surround myself with good people who surround themselves with good people, so there’s less fear of judgement and scorn.
There are many conversations we need to keep going in society, but this is one extremely important to me, because it’s an issue that in some way impacts so many more people than we as a society are willing to acknowledge.

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Filed under Personal, Society Issues

“The Moment I Knew”.

I feel like I’m all up in my feelings needing to play Taylor Swift songs about having to break up with someone you love because you just can’t justify or rationalize being with them any longer. And no, this isn’t about a woman. Well, kinda, I did equate the Braves to a woman once, and God that was accurate.

(Yes, this is a Taylor Swift playlist to get through today)

(Yes, this is a Taylor Swift playlist to get through today)

But I can’t with them anymore. These latest revelations are too damning, and too egregious. I have made excuse after excuse, and tried desperately to keep this fleeting love alive. I get the feeling that continuing on with the Braves is a lot like dating me. At some point, it simply becomes impossible to justify and rationalize continuing to do so. And this article, these revelations, these practices, reading those things, that was “The Moment I Knew”.

Finally, I  have reached that point and I have to love them from a distance. I wouldn’t even take free tickets to attend a game at this point, as every person in that stadium represents someone supporting what this wretched organization is doing to our beloved Braves.

I’ve dealt with a lot of losing teams in my life. 1-10 Tech in 1994, the 13 win Hawks team, my high school football team won one game my freshman and sophomore years, Bill Elliott’s 1999 & 2000 seasons, etc…. I can, although not always gracefully, handle the losing. Just care. Try. Show me you have a desire to win. Care about the fans. You know, simple stuff that really shouldn’t be that difficult. While I don’t like it, and I expect better, I’m not going to jump ship because my team stinks. I’ve never been that way, and never will be. I’ve been supporting losers my entire life in Atlanta, and really, it’s so ingrained as a part of me, I don’t know that I’d be the same without this long standing practice.

But this is beyond just losing on the field. This is being a horrible organization that makes horrible decisions on and off the field and represents itself in a way that is in no way concerned with its primary consumers, supporters, or fans. Not only are we possibly one of the worst sports teams in history, (which is fine by me, if you’re going to be bad, then be REALLY bad) there is the Hector Olivera situation, the fact that apparently we can’t keep an infield at a Major League quality, the continued employment of Fredi Gonzalez, the shady move to use public money to build an unnecessary new stadium, and now it’s being shown that we are out here fleecing tax payers all over the southeast. In other words, we epitomize everything wrong in sports today. And in many ways, we epitomize everything wrong in American business today. The Atlanta Braves are “big business” on Wall Street.

And I used “we” on purpose there. Because I don’t know when I’ll use it again as it pertains to the Atlanta Braves. I can no longer consider myself as a part of the Braves, because the Braves sure don’t consider me, or you, or any of us, a part of them. “We” is used by sports fans because we’re made to feel a part of the team, part of the organization, and even if it’s minuscule, we feel in some way our presence and our support contributes to the team’s success. These Atlanta Braves no longer do that. When they get their affairs in order, as in, a new owner, call me then. But they are now a they.

In a perfect world the shiny new money maker would be as empty as Turner Field next year, but it won’t be. The sheep will be out in masses lining the pockets of Liberty Media, while under the false pretense that Liberty gives a damn about a quality on field product, and even worse, under the false pretense they give one single shit about the fans or the communities they pillage to make their money. They’ll continue drinking the kool-aid that Liberty is just waiting for the new stadium to start spending, and then they’ll try to improve this team and quickly.

Hey, enjoy all this young talent, because like the bunch that came up at the beginning of this decade, once they’re established, they won’t be long for Atlanta. They’ll be flipped to acquire more “assets” as opposed to being paid to produce and help create a quality on field product that might actually cost Liberty Media some money to upkeep.

See, Liberty Media has figured out that in order to make profits, and to earn revenue, they don’t need to invest in the on field product at all. In fact, they hardly need to invest. They get tax paying citizens to make the investment, and then they get to reap the profits. I thought the Cobb County deal was bad, an ownership group recognizing new stadiums make money, no matter the on field product. Turns out, this is how they do business throughout the organization.

Because that’s all the Atlanta Braves are now, an asset, a part of a larger business, based halfway across the country that cares nothing about the locals that they’ve stolen from by making false promises to. This isn’t a baseball team trying to win. This isn’t a baseball team trying to make a difference in communities. Not even close. I mean, we thought the Yankees were the “Evil Empire”.

“Keep in mind, the Braves now are a fairly major real estate business as opposed to just a baseball club.”- John Malone, Chairman of Liberty Media

I will always love the Atlanta Braves fans, players, and the Atlanta Braves baseball team. But the Atlanta Braves “baseball” team as we knew it, no longer exists. It’s more machine now than baseball team, twisted and evil.

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Filed under Baseball, Braves, Personal, Sports

Falcons/Saints, It Runs Deep

It may be underrated nationwide, but make no mistake about it, the rivalry between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints is as nasty as any in pro sports, maybe sports period. Put quite simply, there may not be two fan bases that hate each other more than the Falcons and Saints.

What started as an innocuous rivalry between two awful franchises who essentially knew that their best chance for satisfying victory every season lie with each other, has developed into a full on 365 day a year cacophony of vitriol, disdain, and pure disgust.

For each person they have a different reason and story for when the hate truly blossomed from a healthy dislike mixed with a tiny bit of compassion into a full-blown disgust for anything relating to the other. I know the very date for me, I know the very place I was sitting, I know the very company I was with, and unfortunately, ESPN likes to constantly remind me of it on a regular basis. Not to mention, so do Saints fans.

You could add up my hatred for the Busch boys, for Jim Leyritz, for the Yankees, the Gators, and the Cowboys, and you’re still essentially putting Pluto next to Jupiter when you compare it to the level of contempt held for the Saints.

I had my hatred for this team, this city, and this state confirmed a couple of weeks ago. I decided to dine at Just Loaf’n. I went due to the fact that there was a scout mob for it, and I’m a cheap bastard. Additionally, in a cruel, cruel twist of fate, and quite possibly God’s cruelest joke on me, cajun food is my absolute favorite cuisine. It’s really not fair.

But I digress.

In any event, I walk into this little restaurant and proceed to the counter to make my order. I’ve never had a muffaletta so I decided this place had the look of something resembling authentic cajun food, so that’s what I ordered. Of course they have no muffaletta bread. So, still trying to stay in the spirit of true cajun food, I order the alligator po’ boy. And of course, they didn’t have any alligator.

So here am I at the counter, my first two options not available, and I’m thinking to myself, “this is why I hate New Orleans”. And if any of you have seen me in a drive through, or at a restaurant when a waiter to comes to take my order, you know I absolutely hate making on the spot decisions about food when I feel rushed. So, it’s safe to say, at this point, I’m not in a very comforting situation. So I make a hurried decision and go with the basic shrimp po’ boy. I’m flustered at this point, so I just out of natural reaction, hand my card over to the lady behind the counter.

Forgetting to use the scout mob. Which was the only reason I’d have set foot in what is turning out to be a truly God forsaken place.

But it gets worse. Upon paying for my food, which was twice what I was expecting, I turn to the right, by the counter, and see one of the most awful creations in the history of man.

This should be illegal in Georgia.

This should be illegal in Georgia.

At this point, I’m like, “Okay God, I get the message, never step foot in New Orleans. I hate it. It hates me. We’re on the same page here”. But no, my punishment wasn’t over yet.

After the less than memorable meal, well memorable in that the special “cajun fries” tasted like they’d been reheated in a microwave, I went to the gas station next door to procure a Mountain Dew.

On Monday morning, while going to work, with said Mountain Dew in my bag, I noticed that my bag seemed to be leaking, and I couldn’t understand why. That is, until I opened and realized everything in my bag (and if you know me, you know I CANNOT STAND when my magazines get crinkled, much less wet, or soiled) was submerged in Mountain Dew. The plastic top to this particular Mountain Dew was punctured, and while laid on its side in my bag, the contents of the bottle poured into my bag, creating a small pond that goldfish could have happily survived in. If only because I assume swimming in a sea of Mountain Dew is a pretty awesome thing.

It took a matter of seconds to remember where I got this Mountain Dew.

Fuck New Orleans.

And while the Saints do have their ring, and I am happy for like one Saints fan on this planet for that happening, though, the joy is tempered the longer we go without one, we still have more wins in this rivalry (49-43), the longest winning streak (10) and the most lopsided victory (55 points). We’ve also won three of the last five and are fresh off a sweep.

So, keep your bounty gate tainted ring New Orleans. When we get one, and we will, you can shut all the way up.

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But before I conclude, I leave with you my 15 favorite games from this underrated, under appreciated tale of two cities.

  1. 1991 NFC Wildcard Game: Atlanta 27 New Orleans 20 in New Orleans – Denying the Saints their first playoff win another year, IN New Orleans?
  2. 1973: Atlanta 62 New Orleans 7 in New Orleans – most lopsided margin of victory in series history
  3. 1991: Atlanta 23 New Orleans 20 OT in New Orleans – It denied the Saints a share of the 2nd best record in the NFC, and set the stage for our beating them in the Superdome just one month later in the playoffs
  4. 2010: Atlanta 27 New Orleans 24 in New Orleans – Overtime games in this series will be the death of me, but overtime wins in their building give me life
  5. 1995: Atlanta 19 New Orleans 14 in Atlanta – Jessie Tuggle, “The Hammer” with an interception near the goal line to seal it. My first in person experience of the Falcons/Saints rivalry
  6. 2002: Atlanta 37 New Orleans 35 in New Orleans – New Orleans, meet Michael Vick
  7. 2008: Atlanta 34 New Orleans 20 in Atlanta – New Orleans, meet Matt Ryan
  8. 2004: Atlanta 24 New Orleans 21 in Atlanta – I was there for this one too when Vick found Crumpler in the endzone late for the game winning touchdown
  9. 1980: Atlanta 41 New Orleans 14 in New Orleans – Beating those guys by 27 in their building during the 1980 magical season? Yeah, c’mon with it.
  10. 1981: Atlanta 41 New Orleans 10 in New Orleans – Following that up by beating them by 31 the next year
  11. 1982: Atlanta 35 New Orleans 0 in Atlanta – second largest margin of victory in series history
  12. 1981: Atlanta 27 New Orleans 0 in Atlanta – the first of consecutive home shutouts against the Saints
  13. 2005: Atlanta 34 New Orleans 31 in New Orleans  – Blowing the lead with 46 seconds left hurt, going down the field to reclaim it with :04 left was exhilarating.
  14. 2012: Atlanta 23 New Orleans 13 in Atlanta – national television defensive dominance of Payton and Breezy boy
  15. 2014: Atlanta 30 New Orleans 14 in New Orleans – Osi waving goodbye to the Saints while strolling into the endzone in their building to finish off the sweep? Give me more of that please.

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Filed under Falcons, NFL, Personal

Racism is Racism

State’s rights, huh? You mean a state’s right to deny human rights to, well, you know, humans? Got it. Values. Priorities. Beliefs. Truths. Hate. Those who make the argument that “state’s rights” was a worthy cause illuminate all of these about themselves in a light that burns as bright as the sun, while being as cold and lifeless as the dark side of the moon.

There, that’s out of the way. I know I can get a little long winded, so I wanted to make sure anyone who looked at this and either didn’t want to read further, or fell asleep trying, read the main point. Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll get into the rest of the reasoning for this.

You all know I’m an opinionated person. When I believe something, I believe it. Usually because I’ve done the homework to make sure what I’m saying is accurate. Usually. This however isn’t like a sports opinion, or opinions on movies, or whether the Braves should have left Atlanta. Not at all. And that’s why my conviction here is stronger than it is with anything else. Last night I came across some more things that just enraged me. And I posted that I was pretty much going to be angry all day, post angry things, angry responses and unfriend anyone who disagrees with me. Well, that’s only very marginally true. The latter is true, but it is going to come without the first actions. But I’m writing this so people will know (if they care) why I unfriended them. Because I promise, somewhere in here you’ll uncover why. I also just want to completely wrap up my stance on this entire issue, and do so in a docile state, without personally attacking people, calling names, or anything else that takes away from the point I’m making by giving any sort of veil or distraction to it.

My heart has been broken over the past few days, weeks, months, even years. The things I’ve seen from people, people I have known my entire life, just hurt, hurt me deep. And there’s no single sect of people (though it is concentrated, that’s for sure) who I see this from, it’s everywhere. From friends I’ve had my entire life, best friends, family members, people I long thought to be very smart, very good people, I’ve seen horrible, horrible things. I’ve seen abhorrent things and mindsets that make me question just how smart you are, or how good a person can you really be. They make me question me for having forged a relationship with someone like that to begin with, and for having kept it so long. You want to know why I’m so angry about this? That’s why. I’m hurt and I’m mad. I’m mad at me. I’m mad at me for the many ways I was a lot like many of you. I’m mad that I’ve stood by silently while you all were busy being, well you, even when I no longer agreed with you in the slightest. I’m mad that I feel betrayed. I’m mad that I feel let down. I’m upset because I have to say goodbye to people I’ve had in my life for the longest time. Because I absolutely have to.

One credence I will always stick to is that you can tell more about a person by what they’re willing to defend, than anything else. The defense of racism, in any way, is racism. It’s that simple. And standing by watching people say racist things, do racist things, and just be racist, while saying nothing, may not be “defending it”, but it’s definitely accepting it, to the point of condoning it. Look, we all have flaws, every last one of us, and we all have shortcomings. And many, many shortcomings, most even, I can “accept” as just, people having shortcomings. But there are a couple that, no, no, it’s not a “shortcoming”. It’s an unacceptable set of beliefs that I can no longer idly stand by in the shadows and give silent approval of. I have to say something. I have to say I will not tolerate it. And I don’t know at the expense of who that will come. Best friends for half my life? Family members? Teachers? Sports fans? I don’t know, and at this point, it doesn’t matter.

I don’t do this with hate or malice in my heart, though sometimes it may seem that way with things I have said, or angry reactions and replies, and foul language, even for me. I do this because I simply can’t stay silent, and because this does make me angry, I’m asking for it to breed hate, and I’m not wanting to do that. But the more I see of it the angrier and angrier I get. There’s really only one solution. A wise little green guy on Dagobah once said that “anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering, and suffering leads to the dark side”. I’m not going to go down that path.

But I don’t want the hate that racism is born and nurtured in in my life. I used to think there were three types of racism; Ignorance, fear, and hate. I’ve since come to the realization they’re all rolled into one. We as humans fear what we don’t know, and we hate what we fear. That black man walking towards your car in the gas station that makes you immediately lock your doors? You don’t know anything about him, yet you fear him. You hate him. Wait, I take that back. You do know one thing about him. You know he’s black.

Bottom line, if you defend or justify the acts of treason committed by the confederate states, you’re wrong. If you take pride in, and honor, a culture where an entire race of humans was dehumanized, you’re wrong. If you argue the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, you’re wrong. If you honor and glorify the men who led the south into this war, you’re wrong. If you make heroes out of men who fought to keep other human beings enslaved simply because they were born the wrong color, you’re wrong. And don’t even try to tell me how there were black people fighting for the south. Stockholm Syndrome, ya heard of it? If you are proud of, and celebrate, a heritage that murdered humans, put humans in shackles and forced them to work for you while affording them no freedom when they have committed no crime (other than being born with dark skin, as sadly, even today, that still is a crime, even if not a “crime”), you’re wrong. If you value the right for a state to rule a federal law null and void within their borders more than you value the God-given rights that every man should have (you know, the very sorta thing we supposedly founded this country on that so many flag worshipers swear they’re so proud to fight for), you’re wrong. If you place more value on flying a flag that honors and symbolizes, well, basically anything, but especially one that honors and symbolizes inhumane injustices forced upon an entire race of people over the amount of hurt that flag causes millions of people, you’re wrong. I could go point by point and specifically point out why you’re wrong, but to many that I’m talking to, that would do no good. But still, there’s a couple I want to go into more detail about if any of you that I haven’t lost yet wish to keep reading.

You can’t call yourself a patriot and fly the rebel flag in the name of pride for your heritage. Simple as that. You simply cannot do both. You can’t scream “Murica” and then on the other side support a confederation that literally, ATTACKED AMERICA.

You cannot celebrate Fourth of July and the “freedom” of being an American while simultaneously honoring people who ATTACKED AMERICA in order to keep human beings from being free. On no planet does it work that way.

Standing in support, or even having pride, in the ideologies of the south, which is what this “heritage” thing is all about (I mean, if you’re not proud of it, why would you boast of it and wear it so “proudly”?) means you go against the very thing we supposedly founded this country on, that all men were created equal. Clearly, you do not think so. Black people didn’t suddenly get “created equal” because laws told us to treat them as equals in the 50s and 60s. They’ve always been equal. You don’t get to justify treating them as inferior people, as not even humans, by saying, “well they were different times”. I don’t care. They were still people then, just as they are today. Just like everyone we share this planet with. So if you at any point in history are okay with humans not being treated equally, then, to this day, you still don’t see all human beings as equals. Because our equal standing on this earth hasn’t changed. Government enforced laws don’t dictate how you personally view other people. But when you support laws that do dehumanize people, then you yourself are the one dehumanizing them. You may as well have owned slaves yourself, because it’s very clear, that if the law allowed it today, you would. Because only the law apparently defines equality, and not your heart. Because in your heart, there isn’t any.

One that gets me the most is watching people I thought to be highly intelligent arguing the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. State’s rights? Yeah, the rights for states to enslave people. Oh, right, it was about an oppressive government. An oppressive government that didn’t want to continue to allow slavery. You do realize that there is NOTHING more oppressive than slavery, right? So please, tell me how the south was on the “good” side of the argument of who was more oppressive. Did the north, I mean, did the United States of America, you know, the little institution that those southern states belonged to, perhaps introduce legislation that might make things hard on the south? Sure. But did you stop and think that MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, if the south hadn’t been so steadfast on continuing slavery, the United States wouldn’t have felt the need to so aggressively try to put pressure on the southern states to back off their stance? That perhaps, had the south been willing to give up slavery, that all these other “oppressive” (I still love how I’ve heard people use that word to justify the south’s position) actions by the north, er, the United States, might not have taken place? Maybe if the southern states weren’t so vehemently against the United States wish to bar slavery in all new-found territories, there might have been more concessions from the United States? But no, the south wasn’t budging on that. All exploration west began in, oh, right, the south. The south wanted to occupy the rest of America, lay claim to it all, and enslave people from coast to coast. And the south had a leg up on getting west, due to simple logistics. They didn’t like that the north, dammit, I mean, the United States, didn’t want to allow them to take their crimes against humanity to places beyond their borders.

If the United States had come off of every other “state’s rights” issue except slavery, do you think war would have been averted? No. In fact, at no point was such a compromise ever even on the table because there was no two ways around it. The south was fighting for one thing and one thing alone, to continue to have slaves. Did their ability to thrive economically depend on that? Perhaps. But whose fault was that? Maybe the south shouldn’t have become a one trick pony built on the backs of enslaving other human beings. Maybe they should have been more forward thinking, and instead of enslaving human beings, all worked together for more prosperity. Nope, they were set in what they wanted to do, and how they wanted to do it. They made the bed, they had to sleep in it. And they couldn’t sleep in it without slavery. Had the United States come to the southern states and offered to keep slavery, but still enact every other “oppressive” act, what do you think happens then? I’ll tell you what doesn’t happen…. the southern states do not attack the United States.

So for the love of God, if you consider yourself a somewhat intelligent human, PLEASE stop saying the Civil War was not about slavery. Because if it wasn’t about slavery, then maybe it should have been. If the south had made it about slavery, but being willing to give that up in exchange for other compromises, then there wouldn’t have even been a war. So, even still, if I grant you it wasn’t about slavery (which I won’t, and not sure how anyone with a somewhat functioning brain can), it NOT being about slavery, still made it about slavery.

I also find it particularly hypocritical, in a so sad it’s funny, but yet horribly depressing way, when the topic of black people still harvesting anger at white people for slavery comes up, the typical response of a white person seems to be, “that happened 150 years ago, it’s the past”. Or even better, “hey, don’t blame me for what my ancestors did, that was them. I was not a part of that, that was not me”.

Funny. Because you glorify those who did it. You glorify those who owned slaves under the guise of “heritage”. Men who literally were willing to kill other human beings so they could have the right to continue to enslave human beings are now embronzed in statues glorifying their actions. And all in the name of heritage. All in the name of, “that’s my heritage, that’s part of who I am”, blah blah blah. Really?

Okay, fine. But just know, you can’t go around waving flags, or idolizing “heroes” that honor this, and promote this “heritage” that you claim is a part of you, and then turn around and tell a black person to stop blaming you for slavery, that you didn’t do it, and that they need to get over it, it didn’t happen to them.

I get it though, you’re allowed to celebrate the past, in all it’s blood stained, gruesome, despicable glory, but other people aren’t allowed to be hurt by it? Your heritage is who you are and a part of you, but the very thing that heritage fought the absolute most for, the thing that makes you apparently proud to be a southerner, isn’t a part of you? Okay.

And this is about the only part where I’m going to get somewhat personal. What amazes me is that the people who think like this, honestly must believe everyone else is just as dumb as they are.

And just how selfish can some of you be? I touched on this yesterday. You don’t get to decide what’s offensive to people and what isn’t. You don’t get to decide what hurts someone else. You just get to decide not to care. Exactly who gets hurt if the flag is taken down from government buildings and public buildings? Who gets hurt, and feels pain because some stores decide the message they think it carries, and the hurt it causes isn’t worth selling it anymore? Seriously, who really feels pain from that? You? You’re really going to ache and be hurt? No you’re not. But millions of people, when they see that flag, they ARE hurt. The fact that people are so selfish in that they can’t just be like, “ya know what, I don’t agree, I don’t understand the big deal, but really, my life is no different if this flag doesn’t fly, but it might ease some of the hurt of my fellow man if it comes down, so, fine, take it down”. Wait, that would mean recognizing everyone else as your fellow man…..

So the list of people I’m having to cut out continues to grow. And that breaks my heart. And I don’t know if even one person has read any of this, or all of this, or gotten to this point. But at the end of the day, I’m not cutting people out of my life because of their beliefs on what caused the Civil War, or whether police use excessive force in conspicuously inconsistent ways, and certainly not because of your beliefs over a flag. I’m cutting people out of my life simply because of their beliefs. Because when it comes to this issue, there is no gray area, there is no tolerance. I don’t want to see that, I don’t want to see those comments, those jokes, that insensitivity, popping up in my life everyday. And the belief set of some people ensures if they’re in my life, I’ll be seeing it. And I’m just tired of seeing it. Because I’m tired of being silent about it. But I’m not going to let it make me angry and take away the enjoyment I get from so many other things in life, and other people in life.I have no place in my life for it, simple as that. And maybe you don’t have a place in your life for someone who thinks like me.

The great thing is, we both have a choice. It’s not like we’re being held captive or anything…..

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Truthful Belief Racism Isn’t an Issue, or Plausible Deniability?

I think I’m beginning to understand more the need for the denial of racism by so many people. Despite this shooter blatantly saying what drove him, there are those who continue to insist this wasn’t racially motivated, as they continue to live in their utopia where racism ceases to exist. I thought it was just a combination of white privilege, ignorance, and a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their fellow man.

No. I think it’s more than that. I think it’s plausible deniability.

See, if these people acknowledge that race is still a huge problem in this country, then they’re forced to acknowledge something else, something of which the consequences (of which there could be many) scare them. They have to look in the mirror. And God, that’s a terrifying place to look, even when you are living right, that still can be a scary place to look.

But by acknowledging the foul stench of racism that permeates its way through our society in many forms, they have to acknowledge that they allow it. Not only do they simply allow it, in many ways, they condone it and practice it. They have to acknowledge they are the fertile soil in which seeds of ignorance and hate get planted and then are cultivated, tended to, and allowed to grow, bloom, and intoxicate the world around them.

The incessant bashing of a president despite having no political rational behind it; the constant and never-ending barrage of racial jokes, that really, aren’t jokes at all; the sneers given to the homeless guy they see on the street, or the complete fear that strickens them when a black man in the city asks them what time it is, or if they have a cigarette; the way they call a black athlete who commits a personal foul on a football field a thug, while when a white player does it it’s simply because they play too hard; the disdain for the NBA because it’s a sport played by thugs; judgmental remarks every time they see an old Cutlass or Monte Carlo; the presumption that a black man in corn rows is a criminal; the constant usage of the words “they”, and “them”; the way you look down upon “them” because they’re on government assistance programs, completely ignoring your white neighbor with an EBT card in their purse; the waving of a flag that’s hardly different from a swastika; the immediate defense and anger you feel about people who bring racism to your attention; the telling “them” to just go get a job (because that’s just SO easy to do); the way they consider good white athletes hard workers but black athletes are just blessed with talent; the way they blast songs by Garth Brooks about a wife shooting an ex husband and sing along at the top of their lungs but vilify rap music that talks about violence; All of these things and more are what creates the perfect atmosphere and environment for these tiny little seeds of ignorant hatred, and bigotry, and mistrust, and fear of people simply because of the color of their skin to manifest into what happened Tuesday night.

So of course people deny it’s racially based. Because if they don’t, then they have to accept some responsibility.

And God forbid they do that.

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The REAL Story of America; A 500 Years in the Works Circle

500 years ago- A people seeking freedoms from an overbearing and domineering government come to a land that’s already inhabited. They force these inhabitants out of their homes, almost in a genocide of both violent and malicious intent, as well as pure happenstance through the inflection of disease. But to establish a home in the new land, there is work to be done. So for the next 200 years, roughly 60% of the people brought to this new world were done so as involuntary slaves.

These brave people were called colonists. And for the next 250 years these colonists and the government back in Great Britain would lay the foundation of political, religious, and social divide that would ultimately direct America’s next quarter millennium.

250 years ago- These colonists have worked hard to build something for themselves, yet they have little to show for it. There is little separation between the low class of slaves and the middle class. Yet there’s a continental divide between the middle class and the upper class.

A reasonably educated, hard working class of people that once seemed on the way to prosperity is now an oppressed people.

Jobs are scarce, and the dividing line between the rich and the poor is growing every day. Every dollar seems only to wind up in the possession of those who already have all the dollars.

Complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. The rich are happy. What do they care if no one else is? They have others to do the work for them. And by keeping them dependant on whatever they do actually give them, they continue to ensure that the colonists need them, more than they need the colonists.

Speaking out against such treatment is treason and acting out, much, much worse.

The totalitarian government has begun using more power, it’s police becoming more powerful and terrorizing. To the point colonists are being killed in the streets by a government that’s supposed to protect them. And THAT is where the final straw gets drawn.

The colonists respond, resorting to illegal activities to make money to be able to put food on their plates. They speak out against their government while desecrating revered sources of national pride for the mother country. As their frustration reaches a boiling point they begin looting and rioting, before finally turning to full scale violence.

These colonists, now even braver, are hailed as revolutionists. These people speaking out and protesting a government that doesn’t care about and protect them, who destroy nationally symbolic items, are labeled patriots.

200 years ago- These revolutionists find being your own country rather difficult. After completing the extermination of the indigenous natives to the land, they realize there’s even more work to be done than ever before. Goods must be manufactured, food must be grown, construction must be done. So they embrace slavery with a fervor. However, to make sure these slaves aren’t confused for the real “Americans”, words like negroe and nigger become more pronounced in attempts to keep the differentiation between “American citizen”, and slave. The class lines that had already been drawn in sand, just got etched in stone.

150 years ago- Slavery is abolished. Well, it’s no longer deemed legal. Has America turned a corner? Are they really going to enable all people to have equal opportunity to prosper?

100 years ago- In the land of the free, equal rights is still a figment of ones imagination. Segregation is still a thing. But who cares? Slavery doesn’t exist, and America is at the forefront leading the world into, and through, the industrial revolution.

The rich are rich, and getting richer. It’s a great time to be an “American”. The lavish luxuries of life are there for the taking. The American Dream is born. Come one, come all. Well, unless you’re already here and you’re a person of color. In that case, find a new dream. Negroe.

The class lines, while blurred without slavery, still exist. And everyone knew it. But only few had the education and heart to begin to think about speaking on it.

75 years ago- Modern patriotism as we know it is born. Two world wars create a fictitious sense of unity and hope.

The depression had effected everyone, they said. It would take all of America working together to come out stronger, they said. Go fight for your country so we can all build a better America together, they said.

They, lied.

50 years ago- Still experiencing a strong recovery from the economic crash and the feigned patriotism from being in multiple wars that proved successful both economically as well as in terms of moral, a new challenge was arising. America, while still trying to insist it’s a protector of a free and democratic world for all men on earth to prosper, faces a new enemy. No, it’s not the communist governments they’re fighting in places like Vietnam where they were protecting basic unalienable rights and freedoms that America stands so tall far, it’s from within.

The oppressed minority is finally growing in numbers, and beginning to buy into the notion that this hope, and equal opportunities, and freedom to chase dreams should be available to them.

They’re tired of a totalitarian government and a police force that terrorizes them while committing brutal atrocities against them. But they’re still lacking a bit in numbers, resources and more importantly, leadership. So America tries to quickly appease them and suppress any real movement and advancement by making a few concessions, hoping talks of change will get swept off the back porch with a broom. Rights are extended, and segregation is legally determined to be unlawful. A small victory for the oppressed minority, but not an unnoticed slight.

While America was trying to sweep domestic issues under the rug by putting a bandaid on it thanks to being distracted due to fighting other people’s wars halfway across the globe, leadership was forming in the unrest. Voices, loud, powerful, historical voices were being heard. This problem wasn’t going away.

Meanwhile, in a territory out of the social conscience of the public,  America has found a new way to further recover financially. Slavery.

Arguing that no minimum wage must be met, because as a territory, the constitution does not apply in Puerto Rico, America finds the cheap labor it needs and the people to oppress while making concessions to those on their own soil.

Predictably, the Puerto Ricans don’t like it. But the American public knows nothing about this. Puerto Ricans who speak out against America are arrested, and worse. The news out of Puerto Rico is controlled and dictated by American officials.

The American people are told there is simply much unrest and turmoil in a violent Puerto Rico, and this simply requires a stronger military and police presence.

Leadership grows within the Puerto Rican population. They begin to resort to violence in their attempt at an uprising to escape the oppression and police brutality and the control of an overbearing government.

These leaders however are captured, often killed. The movements are stifled, with terms like “insurgentsand” being used to describe activity of radical rebels in a state of much unrest. The true plight is only beginning to be known today. Back then though? They were called revol…. err, terrorists.

25 years ago- America finds itself in the precarious situation of soon lagging behind the other powers of the world both socially and economically. But instead of empowering the masses to keep up with the rest of the world on a global scale, which would require money out of the pockets of the rich, the rich realize they can get keep getting richer by simply creating a bigger divide between the haves and the have nots. They realize that by putting more people in the have not category, they make more people dependant upon them, and thus, more people controllable.

The only problem, money still has to come in somehow. Enter the United States prison system. Slavery was abolished 150 years, was in full force 50 years ago with the “terrorists” in Puerto Rico, and takes on a new form today.

Just like in the 19th century, derogatory terms designed to separate the classes are created. These modern day slaves today are known as “criminals”, or perhaps more popularly, “thugs”. A system designed like the Hotel California, ensures the prisons and jails of the United States will stay populated with the minority population, excuse me, the thuggish criminal sect of the population. These jails and prisons remaining populated ensures money continues to find it’s way to those in power.

But that’s not all. There still must be labor. Immigrants. Immigrants not here legally. As non citizens, just as with a non state territory, the constitution isn’t applicable. Taxes, insurance, minimum wages? Non existent. Cheap labor from a people easily controlled under the oppressive thumb of the government? A plethora of it.

And just for good measure, to keep the middle class happy, and to distract them from the fact they too have been squashed into the lower class, vehement guns rights, or religious rights, or health care agendas, on both sides of the democratic pendulum are pushed. The best of these, often pushed by benefactors of immigrants during the early 20th century, is when they stand tall on large scale anti-immigration performs. All the while, lining their pockets with the money from the labor of these immigrants. And if not illegal immigrants within our own borders, they have their businesses venture into other nations, where again, the constitution isn’t applicable, so cheap labor can be found. Often by way of children.

Today- The numbers of the oppressed have grown. So has their ability to see they’re oppressed. And so has their frustration, their anger, and their resolve.

They are a people tired of a totalitarian government where the rich get richer while they get poorer. They are tired of a police force that terrorizes them and harasses them. They are tired of segregation due to sexual orientation. They are tired of being deemed a lesser and invaluable class whose only purpose is to continue to line the pockets of the wealthy. They’re tired of being reliant on government help that is used by the government to continue to shame them and keep them relegated as a lower class. It’s an assistance offered by those in power because those in power want to keep those in need of assistance, in need of assistance. And they’re doing so while pulling wool over the eyes of the middle class who are in just about the same boat in their efforts to keep the lower class divided enough that it can never unite. More people are seeing this, and they’re tired of it.

But today? Most of all, they’re tired of being killed in the streets by the very government that is supposed to protect them. And THAT is where the final straw gets drawn.

So these people respond, resorting to illegal activities to make money to be able to put food on their plates. They speak out against their government while desecrating revered sources of national pride for the mother country. As their frustration reaches a boiling point they begin looting and rioting, before finally turning to full scale violence.

But are these protesters and destroyers of national symbolism considered patriots? Are these people considered revolutionists? Nah, they’re better known as leeches, bums, queers, heathens and thugs. No, they’re not called revolutionists today, but….

Tomorrow- Oh, it’s coming.

THIS is the story of America. How it began, and ultimately how, as we know it, it will end.

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Reaction to Stewart Case Sad Commentary on Society

As the ruling from the grand jury was handed down yesterday and news spread through the country via social media, a very dark confirmation of what I already knew was hammered home. I pray to God that I, nor anyone I love, ever faces a jury of my “peers”.

The legal system is flawed. Everybody and their mother, white, black, brown, poor, rich, you name it, everybody knows that. Unfortunately these flaws extend well beyond the matter of police brutality, corrupt judges, and incompetent lawyers and prosecutors. These flaws lie directly in front of us. We, as citizens of this country, are the flaw.

We live in a world where people don’t care about facts. We live in a world where people think that because they have an opinion, and only because they have an opinion, their opinion is valid, and must be respected. We live in a world where people no longer use facts to form an opinion, rather they form an opinion and then filter through the facts, selecting only the ones that help validate their opinion.

Just last night I read someone say that Twitter is a place for, “Spouting s**t without having a clue but standing strongly behind your opinion.” Sadly that quote rings so ever true. People form completely ignorant, uninformed, uneducated opinions, and then, even in the face of cold hard fact refuting their opinion, stand “strongly behind” their views that have no actual footing. That’s beyond pathetic. I don’t think there’s a word to accurately articulate just how wrong, and irresponsible, and, again, I’m running out of words, how just plain sad and pitiful such an attitude is.

But unfortunately we live in a world where everybody gets a trophy, everybody gets a handout, and as such, we’re to treat these opinions with the same respect we treat those from individuals who have put a great deal of thought into theirs. Talk about a sad commentary on society.

But it goes beyond just that. Oh, it gets deeper, and uglier.

There are people who, to this day, think Tony Stewart should be charged with a crime. However, when asked what crime that should be, the varying answers reads like Michael Vick trying to explain Jon Gruden’s playbook.

There’s the fifteen year old girl crowd who is screaming, “Tony Stewart should be charged with something”. Only, when you ask them what you think he should be charged with, they respond with, “…….”, followed by a blank stare, followed by the chirping of crickets. When you ask again, this time they may find actual words to respond with, such as, “I don’t know, but, but, but, he needs to be charged with something”. You can almost see them stammering around stomping their feet in the ground with their hands on their hips.

You see people trying to find Stewart culpable, saying, he’s the cause of death. When you remind them that Kevin Ward walking down the track is the cause, they try to get cute and technical, and argue that the car Tony Stewart driving hitting Ward was the actual CAUSE of death. I even saw one person use the term “legally”. That’s funny, the official cause of death was “blunt force trauma to the head”. I’m sorry, I’m missing where Tony Stewart’s name is mentioned there. But yes, tell me more about how “legally” Stewart is the cause of death. Oh, I get it, we’re allowed to say Stewart’s car making contact with him is what caused the blunt trauma, but we can’t say Ward coming down the track is what caused Stewart’s car to him. Right. Don’t hold that man accountable for his actions.

Then there’s the crowd that thinks they’re a lawyer. They like to throw terms around like “involuntary manslaughter”, or “vehicular homicide”. You might even come across someone who tries to find a definition of involuntary manslaughter. They might even try to find one for involuntary vehicular manslaughter. Of course, we’ll just ignore the fact that they provide a generic definition, without actually paying attention to the laws of the particular state they want this charge to be handed down in.

Was Tony Stewart in a car? Did someone die? Was it involuntary? One could reasonably say yes to each of these things. Fortunately, most states require you to come with a wee bit more before convicting a man of such a crime. But don’t tell that to the 1.2 million Harvard Law graduates running around these streets.

Let’s also forget that in New York, it’s considered manslaughter in the second degree. But, hey, don’t tell all these lawyers that while they’re throwing around charges like, “involuntary vehicular homicide”. Yes, let’s charge Tony Stewart with a charge, that in the state of New York, doesn’t even exist. Brilliant.

But for the sake of argument, let’s pretend for a second that these future Johnny Cochrans actually knew what charge they were trying to suggest Stewart should have brought against him. So, they want to convict Tony Stewart of second degree vehicular manslaughter. Okay. Well prove it.

And no, “He was driving a car and even though it was involuntary, someone died”, doesn’t cut it. At least not in New York. Yeah, remember that tidbit, he state where this actually happened?

To be convicted of second degree vehicular manslaughter you must be found to have committed second degree manslaughter while operating a vehicle. Let’s concede he was operating a vehicle, we can all agree on that part of the story. So let’s shift our attention to what one must actually do to commit second degree manslaughter. Per the laws as they are written in the state of New York:

A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when:
  1. He recklessly causes the death of another person; or
  2. He commits upon a female an abortional act which causes her death,
unless such abortional act is justifiable pursuant to subdivision three
of section 125.05; or
  3. He intentionally causes or aids another person to commit suicide.

I think it’s safe to rule out number two, and considering intent on Kevin Ward’s behalf would have to be proven to make number three applicable, we can rule that one out as well. So, we’ll focus on the first one, recklessly causing the death of another person.

This is where it gets messy. And this is where I start praying that nobody I care anything about ever faces a jury that includes these people on it.

Is one allowed to be of the opinion that Stewart acted recklessly, even if void of intent, and that’s what contributed to the death of Kevin Ward? Absolutely. Nobody is saying you can’t think that. Granted, the facts presented in this case (more on those later) make such an assumption an awful big leap, and requires a great deal of speculation, and an even more dangerous game of trying to assume the intentions of another person. But, at the end of the day, you’re allowed to have that opinion.

Of course, convictions aren’t supposed to be doled out on, “opinions”. Oh, right, that. That, “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” thing that gets in the way of people’s thirst for blood. Thinking Tony Stewart acted recklessly and proving it are two different things. This is where people’s inability to differentiate in fact and opinion comes back into play. Opinions are fine in discussions. Facts are necessary in court rooms.

There are no facts to state Stewart acted recklessly. In fact, there aren’t even facts to prove that he could have even done anything different to avoid what happened. But hey, don’t let facts get in the way of those opinions people. And for God’s sake, don’t you dare let those facts get in the way of you wanting a conviction for a man based on your assumptions and opinions, that, simply put, cannot, in any way, be proven.

Of course, in addition the 1.2 million lawyers now running around, there are an additional 1.2 million sprint car drivers as well.

“Of course he saw him”.

“He had plenty of time to react”.

“Why’d he hit the gas then, huh?”

“He didn’t know he was there, right, like his crew chief on the radio couldn’t tell him?”

I’ll admit, I was a part of this crowd at first too. I made these assumptions. I asked these questions. Then I waited for answers from people who had them.

The people who had them being experts at accident reconstruction, people who know as much about physics as Sheldon Cooper. The people who had the answers being people who have driven sprint cars. Better than that, people who were driving sprint cars that night, at that track, in those conditions. And even  better than that, people who were driving sprint cars that night, at that track, in those conditions, directly in front of, and directly behind Tony Stewart.

And yet there are people who the only time they’ve ever even seen a sprint car was the grainy video of the accident, that are saying such witnesses are unreliable. They’re questioning their testimony, while, being “strongly behind” their opinion that is based on………….. right, absolutely nothing.

And they want to convict a man over this. Again, please keep them off any jury anyone I know is ever tried by.

To prove Tony Stewart acted recklessly, you must first prove Tony Stewart even saw him there. That alone is next to impossible. Secondly, you must prove he saw him there in time to either a) avoid him, or b) choose to do something out of the ordinary that would be deemed reckless that resulted in the loss of a life.

A D.A. in New York couldn’t even convince a grand jury there was even a CHANCE such proof could be found. But don’t tell that to all the Harvardites. They have their opinion based solely on a grainy video that they saw, with no working knowledge of the conditions in the car, the visibility, or even how a sprint car operates. Like, did you know, for a sprint car to turn left, the direction Stewart needed to turn to avoid this kid running at him, you have to, wait for this part…… hit the gas. As I mentioned, I was a part of this crowd myself. The revving of the engine seemed damning to me. But I let people who know far more about these things than I explain things, and when they did, I listened. And my tune changed.

We’re going to just look over the whole issue of it being determined that Stewart never wrecked Ward in the first place, that Stewart basically had zero way of knowing Ward even had wrecked, or that, with that understanding, and the testimony of other drivers as to the visibility that night, Stewart had no more than 1.5 seconds from the time he saw Ward to the point of impact to make any decisions. Because at this point, that just seems like piling on a bit.

So, the, “Look at Tony Stewart’s past” crowd, they too have lost their leg to stand on. Does Tony Stewart have a history of showcasing a short temper? Absolutely. Except, if Stewart and Ward’s cars never even made contact, as Stewart was passing Kevin Ward, exactly what was Stewart even mad about? Again, carry on with the narrative you want to tell, and continue forth ignoring important bits of information that nullify your argument. You’re right though, Tony Stewart was mad because he passed a car. Because that’s all we can know he knew of Kevin Ward. That he passed him.

The only “facts” that anyone actually has are that Kevin Ward was impaired by marijuana. This alone, is a reprehensible act, and if anyone involved that night did anything recklessly, it’s the man who drove a racecar while impaired. He risked the lives of every safety worker and every other driver out there that night. The only other “fact” we have is that Kevin Ward came down the track to approach Tony Stewart’s moving racecar. An act so egregious that rules were put in place across the country, to the highest level of motorsports in this country, because of the recklessness of the actions of Kevin Ward. If Kevin Ward doesn’t get out of that car and walk down the track, none of this happens. And that, that you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

But it makes perfect sense that Ward’s parents are still suggesting attention should be focused on the actions of Stewart, though, we don’t know what “actions” they’re actually referring to, while nobody should be focusing on the actions of their son, whose actions were pretty cut and dry. With Ward’s parents, there’s still the grieving parent aspect to it, so maybe, just maybe, there’s some understanding there. That said, you’re still accountable for the words that come out of your mouth. All the time. But I guess with the way they don’t think Kevin Ward should be held accountable, they probably don’t think they should either. What’s disheartening though is the number of people without the grieving parent card at their disposal who are still making excuses for Ward, and casting blame on Stewart. Again, no accountability in this coddled, weak, society.

If you think Tony Stewart acted recklessly, or in the least, didn’t do enough to avoid this accident, that’s fine. You’re absolutely entitled to think that. But if you think, that in light of the evidence and testimony that was provided, that you can prove this beyond any reasonable doubt, then you are, and I have zero issue saying this, an idiot. It’s a shame that someone’s life may one day be placed in your hands, on the grounds that you one day learn the difference in opinions and facts.

It’s a messed up scary world indeed.


			

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