Out of Bounds is Always Out of Bounds...
I have been on pain meds lately to help me deal with a constant hip pain issue (it's the reason that I have not been writing very much the last two months), and as per the instructions given by my doctor, I am supposed to take my pill once a day... AT BEDTIME. Unofficial bedtime – as in "lights out" (though not "TV off" or "phones off") for Jen and I is usually around ten at night, but this does not quite jibe with my ability to withstand the pain in my hip. The meds I have been given help me sleep, though in a pretty light way (which is a nice bonus), but the chief benefit of their use for the past couple of weeks is to reduce my level of pain (and the resulting annoyance with that pain) from anywhere to 50-75%, depending on the night. My mornings are relatively comfortable, but by noon the meds have usually started to wear off incrementally. Each day varies, but most often by around two in the afternoon, the onslaught of discomfort and leg spasms begins.
For the remainder of the afternoon and into the early evening, the pain gradually increases. I started out taking my pain medication each evening – after determining a certain amount of time for the pill to start kicking in to at least allow me to settle into sleep – around nine p.m. But I found quickly that I was getting more and more impatient each day to get that pill inside my system, and thus, the time has moved up every couple of days to 8:45, 8:30, 8:20, and so on to the point where I am throwing it down the ol' gullet around 7:45 p.m. So, as I have shifted my pill-taking time, so to has that "AT BEDTIME" time. Last night, this allowed me to seek the downy softness of my pillow just after nine o'clock, where I crashed pretty deeply for nearly nine hours.
The point of this? Well, each evening, I generally stop checking Facebook and other social media sites somewhat early in prime time. I also cannot get onto any news sites at all. The main reason is so that I don't get riled up about something in the news or by something stupid someone says (more often than not lately, the same goddamned thing). If I decide to pick a fight with someone online around 8:30 in the evening, I will go ballistic for about four hours, Jen will never hear the end of it, and my brain will never shut off at all in order for me to get some sleep. Add in another reason being the one-hour time difference between where I am located (California) and where the vast majority of my longtime friends and family are (Alaska), and then mix in yet another reason that so many of my friends seem to get on social media (owing to various family and/or theatre-related concerns) much, much later in the evening – long after I go to bed (and add in that extra hour) and sometimes early in the morning – that it becomes completely futile for me to check Facebook before I go to bed. There just won't be very much there to see until later, so I tend to wait until the morning.
Every once in a while, however, I miss out on something. Last night, people on both sides of the political divide within my group of friends seem to come to agreement over something someone had tweeted about Barron Trump, the ten-year-old son of... eh, you know. The tweet was by Katie Rich, a writer with Saturday Night Live (who has apparently been suspended since this blew up) and the joke was along the lines of "Barron will be this country's first homeschool shooter." Ms. Rich was not the only one to go after the youngest Trumpster, as it seems to have become a bit of a pile-on to come up with cruel things to say about the lad. Even my hero Patton Oswalt's younger brother Matt got into the swing of things.
Of course, the Facebook thread merely discussed that it was not alright to do something like pick on a kid, but they did not elaborate on who it was about (not by name anyway) or what was said. The thread began last evening, right around the time where the news becomes a "Forbidden Zone If You Want to Get Sleep" for me. They mentioned "Trump's son," and I never even thought about the youngest one. I immediately thought Eric or Donald, Jr., and my reaction was, "Fuck those douchebags. Hell, Junior posed with a severed elephant's tail on safari. Fuck him in the ass and mouth with it. The ass first." Nor was the content of the tweet revealed so I had no idea what was said. I know "vaguebooking" was not meant (for once) with this thread and that the people involved were discussing the issue fully engaged and aware of the story's details already. But for someone just dropping onto Facebook early in the a.m. and finding that thread was the first thing in their feed, and then finding no information within the thread that actually revealed who the hell the victim actually was and who the hell the perpetrator was, it was maddening to me.
Luckily, I am great at research, and had the answer in seconds. And yes, I agree with all of my friends on that thread, both on the left and the alt-right (sorry, had to get a dig of some sort in there), Barron Trump is out of bounds. He is a ten-year-old boy. He is not an adult, and he has not put himself in the public eye on purpose. Someone did mention in the thread that the president's wife, children, etc. [I am paraphrasing] should be untouchable, and I do not for a second agree with that, however. Trump's adult children – at least the three who have determined (or are allowed) to take this ride along with him – are legal adults who have placed themselves in both the celebrity and the political world of their own free will. The same goes for the First Lady, who was already in the public eye (in rather revealing ways) before she joined the Trump Circus Train.
I am not saying that people should go after them or have a right to go after them just because they are celebrities, but when your face is constantly in the public eye, it is going to happen more often than not. Every actor, actress, comedian, musician, director, etc. out there has fans and haters alike, and the only real way to make any of that go away is to simply not be in one of those professions. And politics? Half the people are going to hate you no matter who you are, and in Trump's case... well, let's leave that stew for a good while. People should not automatically go after celebrities or politicians just "because". But if that celebrity or politician does or says something stupid or terrible... well, by all means. Tweet away. Fire your barbs if you must.
But his ten-year-old son? Leave him alone. Off limits. He is out of bounds. Let him have his childhood, even if his dad seems to be modeling him in his own image, suit, red tie, and everything. What dad doesn't want their kid to be like them? My dad wanted me to love fishing as much as he did, and I wasn't having it at all. I love my dad, but I had a different agenda, even as a kid. Barron might even be a horrid little brat behind the scenes, but that is not for us to muse upon in public forums. Barron Trump is to be left alone, people.
But there's more to this...
I am saying all of this as a person who has openly and actively despised Mr. Trump for well over thirty years to the point where even seeing his orange-crusted image has me reacting much like Kramer did to Mary Hart's voice on Seinfeld. I do not like the man. I do not want him in the highest office in this country, and I do not want him in charge of anything other than his own worthless businesses. I would rather we built a wall around him more than anything. (And in some ways, he kind of has done that...)
But there is another trend I have been noticing lately – in fact, have been noticing for quite some time – and that has been the calls for extreme violence in response to whoever is sitting in the White House. I don't mean by terrorist groups... I mean by ordinary people on social media or that one encounters in public.
Or by celebrities. The one getting attention right now is Madonna's thoughts about "blowing up the White House," which she says, in the usual half-apologetic, public relations-laden turnaround, was "taken out of context." No, Madge, I think it was pretty clear what you were saying. I don't like Trump any more than you do, but I didn't leave America for years to pretend I had a British accent, and I certainly don't want our political system to become a free-for-all target range for whatever yahoo wants to shoot or blow up the place. We have checks and balances in place for a reason, and Trump has many millions of miles of work to go to actually earn the trust of the American public for real. I'm an atheist, but no one steps on a church in my town. Likewise, no one gets away with saying they would like to blow up the friggin' White House. I don't care if you once had some decent songs...
The same goes for random people commenting on posts on Facebook. I have seen several threads in recent months, some as recently as yesterday, where someone has posted a comment about something political (generally something anti-Trump), and people have most often replied in kind. There is the occasional person from the other side who will provide a counterpoint, and that's fine (as long as it is not obvious trolling). But then, someone will agree with the original poster's point, but then throw in something along the lines of "I think someone needs to shoot him." Wait, what? NO!!! That's not how we do things here in America. OK, yes... that's how most of America operates day to day in the streets, but not in the political arena. Violent upheaval is not how you run a government.
Am I wrong, or isn't it rather illegal (or at least didn't it used to be) to say such things? Or are there just so many people doing it nowadays that our federal agencies have just given up trying to track each instance down? I am pretty certain most of the people who randomly throw such comments out (the most recent instance I noticed was someone who is a housewife day to day, and is probably a pretty nice lady otherwise) are just releasing hot air, and don't really mean such sentiments. Do you really want someone to get physically shot? I mean, shot with a gun, possibly killed by a bullet through their head or decimating their innards. I suppose they could have meant "with a camera," but then why didn't they just say "Hey, I think that person should have some 8x10s taken!" and not sound so violent with their ultimatum?
I think this instance upset me most because it was someone who seemed to have generally the same take as me on the discussion but then they decided to throw in that nasty little tag to their response. No wonder those on the right like to often point out how "violent" liberals are lately when such things are tossed off at random. I am not trying to create an equivalency here in conjunction with this statement, but I am reminded of one of my innumerable doctor appointments about six months ago.
I was waiting to see my allergist in a room shared by a variety of doctors. There was a couple sitting almost directly across from me in the room, and they were watching the news on a television hanging down from the ceiling that was tuned to CNN. The couple – both caucasian – were in their forties, perhaps early fifties, seemingly in the same general age range as me, though they were two different patches of much rougher road. It was a Jack Sprat situation: the lady was obese enough to require a cane and was eating a sandwich from a Tupperware container in the waiting room; the man was pencil thin, wore a ratty T-shirt and trucker cap, and noticeably had what just had to be "meth mouth". They were eyeing the news with suspicion, as it aired an interview with Barack Obama. The TV sound was low enough, and I was far enough way, so that I could not make out most of what the then-president was saying, but I could hear what the couple was saying in reaction to the fact that he dared to be on the television in front of their faces.
The lady said, "Oh, I hate that man so much" and the man replied, "Yeah, that motherfuckin' n----- should be shot! If I don't do it, somebody should!"
Beside myself, there were about a half-dozen other people in the waiting room when this was said. (My mother-in-law was in the restroom.) It was said loud enough that no one could mistake the words, and in fact, the man's voice raised slightly – puffing himself up in about as macho a pose as he could – as he said it. I was the only other white person in the room, and his speech made me feel filthy just by proxy. Everyone else in the room clearly heard what he said, including the three receptionists at the counter about fifteen feet away, and there was noticeable agitation in the room. But no one said anything in response. I glared straight ahead at the couple, and I caught the man's eye, and when he saw I was staring hard at him (I easily had a hundred pounds and six inches on him), he actually kind of withered and lost his resolve. When my mother-in-law returned, I whispered to her what had been said, and she was shocked.
I thought hard about contacting the FBI or Secret Service about the situation, but then let it go. I knew it was just a couple of bona fide assholes letting off some steam, and knew there was nothing behind their stupid threats besides ignorance. And that's how I feel about most of the people, on either side, who throw out such words. There's nothing to it. So why do you have to say it? Do you really want to see someone shot? Or raped? Or blown up? Wouldn't you rather live in an America where no one gets shot, raped, or blown up?
People on both sides are equally capable of saying terrible things about anyone. I am not going to say one side is more guilty of it than the other, because such numbers are unquantifiable and not really worthy of discussion. And I don't care if you are "on my side" or not, talking seriously about killing someone for any reason is not OK. It doesn't matter who they are, what you perceive they have done, and most certainly what position they hold in government. Even if you hate that person beyond all reason, it is not OK. Not one bit.
And if you are an adult, don't pick on ten-year-olds. No matter whose kid they are.
Out of bounds is always out of bounds...