What’s in a Nickname?

Rag doll, livin’ in a movie
Hot tramp, daddy’s little cutie
You’re so fine, they’ll never see ya leavin’ by the back door, mam
-Partial lyrics from Aerosmith’s “Rag Doll”

We, as a society, have always used nicknames as tokens of affection in our most intimate relationships. When my husband was just a toddler, his younger brother once howled with indignation, “Macky hit me!” Matt has been affectionately known as “Macky” by my father-in-law ever since. Like most married couples and parents, Matt and I have a few pet names for each other as well as our daughter.

Being the social creatures that we are, it’s natural to associate nicknames with love and affection. After all, our first nicknames are usually those that came from our parents, and even those of us who had less than ideal childhoods have at least a few fond memories of our formative years. My dad’s nickname for me was “Skookems”. I have no idea how or where that name originated or what it means, but when I think about it, I remember happy times with my dad.

It’s just as likely, unfortunately, that we’ve been called by nicknames that made us feel ashamed or embarrassed. We’re often saddled with less desirable nicknames by classmates at school, and those names often prove to be persistently enduring reminders of how other people thought of us. My grandfather often called me “Wimpy”. He meant no harm by it. He also called my brother “Popeye” and my sister “Olive Oyl”, but I never liked that name because it made me feel weak and inferior. My elementary school classmates called me “Daddy Long-legs” for years until I was no longer the tallest girl in school. Depending on who used that name and their tone, I felt an entire spectrum of emotions from pride to shame.

 What, then, does a victim of sexual abuse feel when she (or he) hears a nickname given by her assailant? Does she remember happy times when she and an adult male coach sneaked off to his apartment or the backseat of his car to have sex? Does she still smile and blush like the schoolgirl she once was when her former coach or any of his friends call her by the nickname he gave her when she was too young to legally consent to having sex with grown men? And if that’s the case, how would she react to someone outside of that circle calling her by that same nickname?

Sexually explicit nicknames are frequently used by bullies to dehumanize their victims, and they’re also used by sexual predators in the process of grooming their victims. CNN recently published an article about the firing of the Ohio State band director. He was reportedly fired for failing to change the ‘sexualized’ culture of the band organization. Apparently, this culture has existed for generations, and the article went on to say:

Nicknames, many sexually explicit, were given to new members each year by upperclassmen as well as a “trick,” an act often simulating sexually explicit acts that usually corresponded with the nickname. These tricks were to be performed by members “on command or at their own volition.

We’ve all seen enough sophomoric TV shows and movies, and we’ve heard enough sexually explicit song lyrics, such as those cited at the beginning of this post, to recognize that sexually explicit nicknames are and always have been an unfortunate part of both the academic world and the entertainment industry. For that matter, we’ve all been subjected to this sort of culture in school.

I chose to single out the Aerosmith song lyrics specifically because one (alleged) sexual predator calls one of his (alleged) victims “Rag Doll” to this day, and I can’t help but wonder how that makes her feel. After conducting an exhaustive internet search on the phrase, I learned that it’s commonly used in the porn industry to describe a woman who is passed around from man to man. That is consistent with the imagery presented by Aerosmith in the official “Rag Doll” music video, which tells the story of a young woman who is sexually abused by her father and goes on to become a promiscuous adult. See it for yourself:

I grew up listening to bands like Aerosmith, but I never gave much thought to song  lyrics when I was a teenager. Today, as a parent with a 10-year-old daughter, I’m stunned by the “Rag Doll” lyrics and horrified by the imagery in the video. It breaks my heart to think of an innocent teenage girl being given such a degrading nickname by a man who manipulated her into trusting him as he lured her into his web of lies and deceit. What’s even more heartbreaking is that, some twenty years later, his (alleged) “Rag Doll” still sees nothing wrong with the way she’s been treated by her (alleged) assailant. Truly tragic.

The culture in the band room at Ohio State is neither new nor extraordinary in any way except that, thankfully, current students and parents are no longer willing to tolerate sexual harassment and abuse disguised as tradition. I am one of those parents. I refuse to accept that my daughter should be forced to endure sexual harassment by her peers and teachers merely because “it’s tradition.” That this-is-the-way-it’s-always-been nonsense might have worked twenty years ago, but not any more. If I ever hear anyone direct a degrading or sexually charged nickname at my daughter, there will be hell to pay.

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Dysfunction Junction, What’s Your Function?

Trinidad Colorado is a deceptively charming little western town. It’s conveniently located on I-25 halfway between Denver and Albuquerque, NM where it’s nestled at the base of a distinctive mesa named Fisher’s Peak. Trinidad’s streets are lined with gorgeous, if poorly maintained, old buildings; and its citizens, who frequently wave to strangers, seem unusually friendly. But beneath all that friendly western charm is a dirty little “secret” that the locals tacitly accept as normal and acceptable behavior.

20120929 Hwy 12 010

Simpson’s Rest – Trinidad, CO. Photo by Matt Reamy

If you’re considering moving there, you should know the truth about Trinidad, CO, and you certainly won’t hear it from the locals. That charming little town happens to be a safe haven for sexual predators with a taste for young girls. The Trinidad school district not only employs multiple sexual predators, but it goes to great lengths to protect them, too. Despite a nearly continuous stream of allegations of inappropriate contact with students that spans decades, most of these predators (primarily athletic coaches) continue to be employed by this school district or neighboring districts within Las Animas County.

My husband and I have written about two of those predators before. You can read about them here and here. I’ve also tried to inform concerned parents about certain resources for researching the chronic sexual abuse of minors in Trinidad public schools. Unfortunately, one of the most compelling resources, a court transcript that implicates the current athletic director at Trinidad High School for the sexual assault of a student, is currently being withheld from the public.

Ironically, the brave woman who first came forward with public allegations against the alpha dog of Trinidad’s pack of sexual predators is no longer employed by School District #1. Yet, her abuser and most of his cronies remain gainfully employed and have unfettered access to minors. There are whistle-blower laws that are supposed to protect people who come forward with this sort of information from the blatant retaliation she’s endured, but people in Trinidad are stubbornly indifferent to laws that don’t serve their personal interests. To say the town of Trinidad is corrupt is a gross understatement.

If you’re thinking about moving to Trinidad Colorado, think again. If you’re thinking about visiting Trinidad, think again. If your young athletes compete against Trinidad, Hoehne, Primero, or Raton schools, monitor them carefully whenever they’re in or around those schools.  If your young athletes participate in the annual TSJC Invitational Basketball Tournament, don’t allow them to do so without close supervision.

Trinidad is so proud of its sports tradition that the community is stubbornly resistant to acknowledging the dark  side of that tradition. The small number of us, mostly victims of sexual assaults that occurred while we were students in Las Animas County schools, who dare to speak out are dismissed as alarmists. Or worse, we’re publicly attacked and harassed by an abhorrent group of people determined to protect Trinidad’s sexual predators. Ironically, some members of that group are victims of the very  men they’re trying to protect. Stockholm Syndrome, perhaps?

The idea of defending a sexual predator in order to spare one’s self the embarrassment of publicly acknowledging past abuse sickens me, but that’s precisely what many victims have chosen to do. Those who aren’t overtly defending their abusers remain silent. Too few have the courage to tell the truth, which is a shame because the truth is infinitely less destructive than silence. Choosing to ignore cancer doesn’t make it go away–it allows it to spread and metastasize until it finally kills you. Or in this case, until it kills your little sister’s, niece’s, daughter’s, or granddaughter’s childhood.

I was born and raised in Trinidad, which I’ve cynically thought of as “Dysfunction Junction” since I was a teenager, and I’ve often wondered why places like Trinidad exist. What is their purpose? One thing is certain: it’s a damned difficult place to grow up–particularly for young women. My hope is that Trinidad will ultimately become a cautionary tale about the dangers of turning a blind eye to the abuse of a vulnerable segment of the population. Presently, it’s a sanctuary and training ground for a close-knit group of sexual predators whose arrogance defies all logic.

I wasn’t assaulted by a teacher or coach while attending Trinidad High School. Although “Coach” Dasko attempted to lure me in with his suggestive note in my yearbook, he didn’t achieve his goal. Instead, I was assaulted by a group of former Trinidad football players. They were all in their twenties at the time. I was sixteen. One of my abusers is the son of a retired coach at Trinidad High School who is believed to have had inappropriate relations with multiple students. Two are brothers who are now employed by the City of Trinidad. The apples don’t fall far from the trees in that town. There are generations of predators, fathers and sons, who have been accused of sexual assault. Yet, nothing there has changed. Not yet, anyway. To coin a phrase from the movie, Gladiator, “the time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end,” Coach.

Chihuly At Denver Botanic Gardens

Over the recent holiday weekend, I took Wendi to the Chihuly Exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  I had never heard of this guy until a few weeks ago when Wendi watched a couple of shows on TV about him.  She’s been a fan for a while.  I can appreciate blown glass, but to be honest, on TV it didn’t look all together that impressive.   If I were always this kind of wrong, I’d volunteer to do it more often because this exhibit was awesome.  We’re definitely going to go back before the exhibit closes.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a photograph post; and I had a pretty hard time choosing which photos to post. I hope the wait was worth it.

Independence Day

This weekend The America Of Now will celebrate our independence from England as only The America Of Now knows how:  gluttony, drunkenness, and consumerism.  There will be barbeques.  There will be watered down beer.  There will be Sales on everything you don’t need from new kitchen appliances to new cars whose only relationship to America is that they’re here for you to buy.

A lot of The Americans Of Now have conveniently forgotten that the reason they’re allowed to subject their neighbors and fellow citizens to their whiny whims is because the original thirteen were tired of tyranny overstepping its bounds.  King George III and his Parliament subjected the colonist to such levels of disrespect for their rights as fellow men that they went to war over it.  The colonists were taxed without any say in the matter.  They were forced to quarter soldiers on their own dime.  They were subjected to trials without representation or juries.

Unfortunately, The Americans Of Now who have been spoiled by the sacrifices of generations preceding them have forgotten and are apathetic to those who have given them the freedoms to wallow in masturbatory self-aggrandizement.  The Americans Of Now are now blissfully ignoring the actions of the worst President since the 1940s.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:  For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers… whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

While these charges were among those levied against King George III by the representatives of the colonists, these are entirely too applicable to our current government, and especially against the Executive Order-Writing president currently occupying the White House.  These are not the actions of a government established by the consent of the governed to secure those certain unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

This is where we are now.  People don’t change.  The man who wrote — and those who approved — the Declaration of Independence understood that people are usually more willing to put up  with tyranny than do anything about it.  And we in The America of Now are doing the same thing.  Unfortunately, The Americans Of Now are too soft, are too uneducated, are too comfortable to do anything about the fact that they — that We the People — are subjects of a tyrannical government.  It’s clear that The Americans Of Now are unwilling to do their duty as a free people.

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.  When a government is guilty of a long train of usurpations, pursuing invariable the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

We cannot continue along this path of destruction this country is currently screaming down.  The affronts to our natural rights echo too clearly in the actions of a government envisioned to make a stand against such tyranny.  These men were willing to go to war to secure their natural rights from a government bent on trampling over them.

I recently posted some quotes made by Thomas Jefferson, the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence.  These observations were made having observed the treatment of subject by tyrants.

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

I don’t have any faith that The Americans Of Now have the guts to do anything about their own tyrant.  Perhaps to them, the evils are still sufferable enough they’re willing to suffer.  Those who think the evils are sufferable are punishing those who do not.  It’s too much to hope that The Americans Of Now will have even the faintest idea of what this holiday is about:  that at one point, men valued the natural rights of mankind more than they valued their own safety, convenience, and comfort.  These men committed acts of righteous treason to ensure their posterity didn’t have to suffer the evils and indignities they were enduring.  It’s too bad our future generations won’t have the same fortune.

To the Patriots: Happy Independence Day.

 

This Isn’t America

I have to admit that I seriously have run out of energy trying to track how many ways our government has overstepped its bounds and put on display for the world its utter incompetence.

The Obama administration claims to have conveniently lost Lois Lerner’s emails (something absolutely no one actually believes); this means the IT department in charge of this should all be fired… except what it really means is that the Obamination (my contraction for Obama administration) is lying.  I know, that’s a shocker.

The name Bergdahl ring a bell?  Yeah, the Obamination let free five terrorists for one deserter.  I bet he offered them jobs too before letting them go, but even the terrorists don’t hate America as much as Obama does.  The Obamination has left a Marine to rot in Mexico but will trade for a deserter; that’s priorities for you.

A full quarter of the supposed eight million Obamacare enrollees are fraudulently receiving subsidies they don’t deserve.

The Obamination runs from scandal to scandal, no doubt hoping that he can escape unscathed from one while the nation recovers.  The useless waste of flesh in the Oval Office wants credit until the backlash starts and then he starts pointing fingers and dodging the shit so appropriately slung in his direction.  And aided by a complicit, compromised, and elitist media, he mostly gets away with it.

And in the latest attempt to show how much more the federal government sucks than any other government in the world, the U.S. Patent office has revoked the trademarks for the Washington Redskins because a bunch of whining wusses can’t control their own feelings.

I hate the policies these spineless left-leaning wet ends put forth.  I hate their hypocrisy and intolerance.  I hate their actively unceasing destruction of the Republic that gives them the freedom to actively destroy it.  I hate ‘Coexist’ bumper stickers because we all know what bullshit message that’s supposed to spread:  you have to live with me, but I don’t have to live with you (I’m surprised there’s no “neener-neener” afterward).  Your intolerance is bad, but my intolerance is righteous.  Private businesses are being forced to operate on public whim; how long do you think that’s going to last?

But it’s not just these leftists sacks of waste that are to blame here.  I hate the fact that the conservative element of the country is letting the left get away with it.  Yes, conservatives, you’re letting it happen.  How unforgiveable is that?  Conservative groups can’t get along with each other because they’re too busy fighting over semantics despite agreeing on the fix as a whole.  How utterly stupid is that?

There isn’t enough energy in the world to keep up with all the ways our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms are being obliterated by the Obamination and the American public who is supposed to keep the government in check.

This America is a fraud, a hologram parody of what this country is supposed to be.  This country is supposed to be a land of freedom, where you can disagree with the government and your neighbor.  America is supposed to be a land of religious freedom, where you can worship or not as you see fit.

Instead what we have is a socialist regime with fascist enforcers.  The America Of Now says you must do what is popularly accepted or pay the consequences.  The America Of Now tolerates only those who agree with the leftist, most vocal minority.  The America Of Now doesn’t see a problem forcing private business owners to do things that someone else will likely gladly do.

The America Of Now sucks.  It’s a laughingstock on a global scale.  It’s a superpower like its money has value: the faith of those in the system; no other country believes it.  Putin isn’t afraid of the US.  China isn’t afraid of the US.  No enemy of the United States is afraid of the US.  The America Of Now is a disgraceful bad joke and not even a good one at that.

Cab Strikes Show Uber Who’s Boss

Let’s look at a scenario.  In this scenario, I will play the role of a service provider in a service that has had little competition or innovation in centuries.  Now after all this time, competition has reared its ugly head at last and this interloper is offering the same service for less money.

Does it seem reasonable to you that I would go on strike to protest the newcomer?

No, I didn’t think so either.  But apparently this is actually the thing to do.  Cab drivers all over Europe caused traffic problems to protest the arrival of Uber.  Now, in the event you’re not familiar with Uber, it’s basically a ride-sharing service.  Drivers get paid to pick up people who request a ride, but it’s voluntary, I believe: the driver can accept a rider based on destination; so if they’re both going the same general direction, it works out well for everyone.  This isn’t a novel concept, really; but it’s a bit more reliable (and probably safer) than posting an ad on CraigsList.  Uber isn’t the only business doing this sort of thing, either.

So the taxi industry in Europe hatched the brilliant plan of essentially striking to protest Uber.  Because it totally makes sense to stop offering a service when the competition comes to play, or offering the service in a much more poor fashion… doesn’t it?

Logically, I have to say the reaction doesn’t make any sense to me.  The reason services like Uber are becoming popular with people is because industries entrenched in tradition and protected by cronyism in lawmakers and lobbyists have become useless.  Cabs are disgusting, service is poor, fares get ripped off; taking a taxi isn’t a great option compared to an understandable price and a feedback-oriented service model.

Informed, intelligent people don’t voluntarily opt for more expensive and less efficient or friendly services.

“Yes this is chaos, its causing havoc in the very center of London, but what other choice have we got?” said Ian Hay, a taxi driver with 14 years experience.

Well, here’s a choice, Ian:  offer a better service.  The bar has been raised and you can no longer get away with the same old crap you’ve been pulling for 14 years.

The stupidity in this response and reaction is astounding.  This type of idiocy can have only been hatched by a union mindset.  It’s certainly hurt Uber:  they’ve seen an 850% increase in service sign ups.  Way to make your point, Cab Unions; that’ll show Uber.

Thomas Jefferson Quotes

It’s really hard not to like this guy.

Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

I would rather be judged by twelve farmers than twelve scholars.

An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.

If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.

(Those last two explain the State’s love affair with Common Core.)

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.

If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.

Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.

When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

All quotes by Thomas Jefferson.  All emphases are mine.