Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trotta Apologizes for Joking about Obama's Death

Yesterday I posted commentary about Liz Trotta's joking on FOX News that she and others hope Obama would be "knocked off." Other bloggers were also outraged and perhaps even a few FOX News viewers. Today I found out through Crooks and Liars that Trotta's apologized for her supposed joke. She said it was a lame attempt at humor:
Trotta: I am so sorry about what happened yesterday. In a lame attempt at humor I really just fell all over myself in making it appear that I wished Barack Obama harm or any other candidate for that matter. I sincerely regret it and apologize to anybody I’ve offended. It’s a very colorful political season and many of us are making mistakes and saying things we wish we hadn’t said. (as quoted at Crooks and Liars)
This is America, land of the apologies, so I suppose Trotta looking contrite is enough for this nation these days. But I can't help but recall the spiritual teaching that what we say matters or as it says in the Bible, "From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matt 12:24)

Trotta and those like her bear watching and I don't mean on FOX News. Uh, why is she on national TV again?

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Monday, May 26, 2008

FOX Contributor Jokes About Wanting Obama Killed

Do we cal it freedom of speech or terrorism with a giggle? Leave it to a FOX News contributor to take the recent bruhaha regarding Clinton's RFK assassination statements, discuss it live, and sink to a new low. As you can see in this short video clip now and as pointed out at The Huffington Post:
During a live interview, FOX Contributor Liz Trotta jokingly wished for the assassination of Sen. Barack Obama.

This latest incident from FOX News continues the trend in violent rhetoric about Sen. Obama from pundits, politicians, and entertainers. (Source: HP)
For the last ten months I've been pretty quiet online about this election, and what I've written on the topic is now offline for other reasons. I've been quiet because the type of rhetoric that's surfaced during the 2008 election process makes me angry, so angry I've got to stop and count to 1,000. It also makes me sad about the state of humanity.

When I say the election's nasty, you know what I mean, the Michelle Obama ugliness, the Rev. Wright blow-up, and standard FOX News crap like this incident with Trotta supposedly misspeaking and calling Barack Obama by other than his name and giggling at the thought of his assassination. In addition, the sexism in which media bathes while covering Hillary Clinton also disturbs me. Humans sink to low levels easily.

There's no doubt where Trotta's heart is when it comes to presidential contender Barack Obama. She talks about "knocking off" the young senator, equating him with Osama bin Laden, and then says she and her allies would knock off "both if we could." Who is this "we" she mentions and will the Secret Service investigate her?

I'll ask again, "Is Trotta practicing freedom of speech or terrorism with a giggle?" She's definitely terrorizing Barack Obama supporters and any other American who fears another assassination in this country. I thought Ken Olbermann went overboard taking Hillary to task on the RFK reference, but much of what he had to say could definitely be applied to Trotta. Does giggling after making a horrible comment diminish the horror?

Trotta's not doing political satire here, so, what's really doing, and will FOX News ever be reigned in?

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

John Edwards, Coulter, and Second Life: High School Forever!

Migrated from the now defunct Confessions of a Jersey Goddess. Originally posted there March 5, 2007.

Over at BlogHer.org, Professor Kim of Professor Kim's News Notes, calls Ann Coulter, "a right-wing motormouth." However, her post is not about Coulter. It's an articulate run-down of recent attacks on John Edwards, like Coulter's slur and the virtual bombing of Edwards' virtual headquarters at the website Second Life.

Reading about these attacks on Edwards made me think of the movie Mean Girls, which is about teenage girls in high school and their vicious natures. We'd like to think it's only high school, but in reality adults, both men and women, still operate this way, and when election time comes 'round it's back to the schoolyard. In the movie, the main character discovers that if you use mean girls tactics to beat mean girls, you become just as nasty.

As for the website Second Life, I'm not surprised by what goes on there. It's just one more website that reminds me of Red vs. Blue's old animation "Real Life vs. The Internet." Whatever behaviors manifest in our brick-and-mortar world intensify online. As we can see from Coulter's antics, nastiness thrives first in flesh and blood; virtual worlds manifest our ugliness.

Some people call Coulter provocative. When they say this I suppose they mean "provocative" as in to simply "provoke," which could be to provoke anything, disgust, anger, laughter. I don't associate her with being provocative in the sense that she provokes deep reflection about the content of her rhetoric. Does she say anything important and constructive? Ann Coulter strikes me more as someone who practices "high-schooly-clique, Queen B bithcery," which is why this post, like Professor Kim's post, is not about Coulter. It's about human nature, the psychology of bullying, and John Edwards' political mistake.

I think it was a mistake for Edwards to put up video of Coulter's slur in an attempt to raise money because the human psyche moves in mysterious ways. Society tends to blame the victim. So, the more he draws attention to how much he's being attacked by the likes of Coulter and virtual opponents, the more likely it is that people will wonder about his nature instead of those of the obvious dirty players.

If this keeps up, voters will never know where Edwards stands on issues but will perceive him as someone who needs protection from the bullies. Sadly such a perception translates to 'Edwards is weak,' and not very presidential, and folks will start to wonder to themselves, "So, what's wrong with Edwards?"

I believed that Edwards was making a mistake by promoting his being attacked and attempting to literally capitalize on being a victim even before I read the following in a Net post that claims the Second Life hackers have been unmasked.
A post on the John Edwards blog claimed credit for an attack on his campaign HQ in Second Life — saying that “We simply did it for the lulz… The fact you were so bent out of shape to make a blog post on the OFFICIAL JOHN EDWARDS BLOG about how some people placed a bunch of shittingdicknipples on your lawn is mighty telling.”

The post was deleted from Edwards blog.
Who knows if the person posting the confession is actually one of the people involved in the virtual headquarters bombing? Regardless, the poster's comment illustrates what I know of humans and what I said earlier: Those who bully and abuse tend to blame the victim. Later, so do witnesses to the abuse blame the victim. People in general start to speculate that perhaps the victim deserves bad treatment.

We see the "blame-the-victim" mindset arise in dealing with racial matters, where the minority underdog is perceived as both weak and deserving of hatred. We see it in rape cases where sometimes even those supportive of the rape victim's rights will still find fault with the victim, saying things like "While I believe rape is wrong, I do wonder what she was doing in XYZ part of the city." It seems to be part of human nature. The Edwards camp should consider human nature when determining the best approach to answering attacks.

Those who suffer the arrows of racial injustice and the trauma of rape cannot afford to distract attention from their plight because they're in for the long-haul and have time to affect changes in society and should affect change in attitudes. By comparison, those who run for political office are on a short run. Society's not going to change its mentality toward those it perceives as victims by November 2008. Edwards cannot afford to draw attention to his being bullied in a way that reinforces an image of him as victim.

Does he want to win sympathy or win the election?

Perhaps Edwards sees placing Coulter's video on his site as one of the ways he can seem more aggressive, but that's not the way this strategy comes off (A more aggressive John Edwards?). The way it comes off is "Look how mean these people are being to poor me." Reminding the public of the attack is not the same as addressing it.

A better tactic for handling this particular type of attack would be to leave it to others not directly associated with his camp to voice their outrage at Coulter and Second Life hackers, while he maintains an aura of presidential dignity, a straight back. He should keep the nonsense off his own website except in the form of strong press release responses. A strong response containing a few pithy retorts for benefit of reporters and pithy retorts that he repeats on camera when asked directly about the attacks would be a more effective strategy. Putting up video of Coutler's insult and appearing to beg for money and sympathy votes was imprudent.
The bigger challenge for Edwards, though, is to get the press to pay more attention to what he's actually saying, and not just what other people are doing for or against him. (from Professor Kim's News Notes)
Professor Kim is right: Edwards has a big challenge. So, I'll say it one more time, "Studies about the psychology of bullying indicate that not only does the bully blame his/her victim, but so do peers of the victim." In a democratic system, your peers are not only other candidates, but also voters. While it would be wonderful to discuss and debate how crazy we humans are for blaming victims, the presidential campaign is going on now, not in some distant Utopian future in which most humans will excel at critical thinking. Until we reach higher ground, presidential candidates must ensure that they are not perceived as a victim.

  • Bullies
  • BlogHer.org
  • Coulter, Edwards, and the Impact of the Insult, NPR

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  • Saturday, May 24, 2008

    Work with me Technorati

    Here I am, trying to get back into the swing of blogging, and claiming my blog here: Technorati Profile

    Prologue to Running Away from Mothering

    I no longer talk about the poop, unless it's the poop of the 81-year-old woman who raised me, my own mother. "Has she had a bowel movement, Dad? You know, we must make sure she gets in water?"

    I'm no longer laying clothes out for a pre-schooler only to have him throw them to the floor and refuse to wear his baby blue shirt because "That's what a girl would wear!" I remember when my son did that.

    And I'm definitely not waiting for my husband to come home so we can discuss how to discipline a teen for viewing adult content on a website. The not waiting for a husband part is what I no longer do. Contemplating appropriate disciplinary actions for offspring are still on my plate.

    I think of myself as out of the loop on mother these days, not checking homework, rarely cooking meals, listening less and less to sibling squabbles. So, I struggle with writing topics sometimes related to mothering or honing in on topics at the pulse of mommy blogging.

    I've got this idea in my head that I'm a new thing. I want to climb into the me that's middle-aged, divorced and hot, don the costumes of a woman who's emerged from the grieving process of a marriage lost as the self-confident rising goddess triumphant. (You will go through a grieving process during and after divorce even if you, as I did, wanted the divorce and know in your heart you are happier unhitched.)

    And for some reason I keep thinking this new person is a not mother.

    Part of my problem is a desire to recapture what I think was lost, I'm guessing. I wasn't supposed to get married and bear a child at 20. As early as 9 years old, I was saying that I would be a lawyer or a writer or something sooooo much more important than "just a mom" in my mind. I said that I wouldn't have children until I was at least 26 years old, if even then.

    Eventually more of this will be posted at BlogHer.

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Blogger Burnout: How Honest Are You?

    I've deleted other posts from this blog, posts never made public, and so this post will be my first official post to Whose Shoes are these Anyway. For almost a year now I've been deconstructing myself, partly because I've moved back to my hometown. Consequently, my old blogs that closely identified me with a different location became defunct.

    I've spent some time looking after my elderly parents, one of whom has Alzheimer's. Observing and caring for them pushed my life through a partial metamorphosis that's caused me to reevaluate why I do what I do, who made me what I am, and really what/who am I? I've also been contemplating faith, not necessarily religious beliefs but the beliefs we consume about ourselves, and I've been wondering how have my beliefs about myself brought me to this place?

    Indulging in inner reflection is how I arrived at the name of this new blog, but I don't know that I'll be writing on these subjects or going deep into any soul issues in my posts because writing honestly can be dangerous. People may misinterpret what's been said even if you say it accurately, and sometimes, misinterpretations aside, the truth hurts .

    Over the last year, I've been drawing myself into myself and becoming less likely to share details of my personal life online because when we blog about ourselves using our real names and real places and lay bare our hearts or humor on the Net, we fling wide open a door to our lives that family, friends, potential lovers or employers, and frenemies may enter at anytime. So how honest can we really afford to be in a blog that can be traced back to us? (I wrote on my now defunct blog about people losing jobs or failing to get jobs because of what they've said in blogs. I've even heard of a woman losing custody of her children because of what she said in a blog.)

    Pondering the perils of being honest on the Web paralyzed me. In the last few years I've been stunned at times how my own words, sometimes even my words in jest, have come back to haunt me. What's most surprised me is how people I thought were fairly intelligent fail to use critical thinking skills when reading and surfing the Net. Some people even read poetry and fiction that's clearly marked as poetry and fiction as fact and believe everything you write even when you write as a fictitious persona.

    This is not surprising when it comes to harmless surfers, trolls, and stalkers. Usually the people who visit our blogs don't actually know us and come from a cross section of the population varying in intelligence and cultural exposure. However, you will still find that people who know you and should know better also draw stupid conclusions while reading online.

    I've had an attorney argue to a court judge that I'm earning lots of money from the Web because I've linked to sites that earn money (divorce proceedings). On some level the judge believed this, I'm sure, because she said in her final ruling that I could earn money publishing a novel some day. (Apparently tales of starving writers escaped this judge.)

    In addition, I've had extended family members spread rumors to other extended family members that I'm involved in nefarious activities simply because an intriguing graphic I've posted on a web page titillated them, one not created by me but by an artist unrelated to me. And it's also come back to me that relatives, people with a high level of education, have gossiped that I run a pornographic website because I linked to a site that sells women's lingerie. (Yes, simply women's lingerie. ) I suppose this is the cyber age version of guilt by association, a link.

    Dealing with people's stupidity takes a toll on the psyche. It's a wonder more humans don't become hermits.

    As someone who wants her only job to be writer, preferably fiction writer, I value the exposure the Net gives my work. Yet, I've spent parts of the last year removing my work from the web--burying blogs, asking website owners to delete my writing or spoken word audio posted by others, and archiving poetry and articles to locked subdirectories. I feel like I've been burying myself.

    Nevertheless, I'm back, resurrected as Vérité Parlant, waiting to see where this new road takes me. Perhaps I'll play it safe this time and write as though all my readers are under the age of 10. Maybe I'll always write as though an ex-husband, employee background checker, or gossiping relative who needs to get a life is lurking in the shadows. Maybe I'll be a journalist blogger and only blog news, movies, TV shows, and political mess. Maybe I won't.

    Photo from All Posters.

    Updated for other purposes on July 12, 2011: The poem is now offline.