I had plans for a longer post tonight– a double book review, in fact– but life appears to have gotten in the way, so this:
I intend to be the type of person who believes victims of violence first, even– and quite possibly especially when– the victim’s version differs from that of the police. As someone who lived in Chicago for a decade, this was the only reasonable way to act.
It is true that this hierarchy of belief may on rare occasions lead me to initially support someone who has behaved dishonestly. That fact changes nothing; I will continue to provide victims of violence with my support and with the benefit of the doubt until specific circumstances demonstrate otherwise.
On a broader level, anytime someone throws a rock at a tank, I am on the side of– or at least more interested in hearing from– the person throwing the rock.
Yes, this could probably have been a Twitter thread; I’d prefer a bit more permanence to it in this case, so to the blog we go.
I seriously thought Ralph Northam’s stupid lying racist ass was the dumbest thing I was going to encounter this week, I really did. He issued what I thought was a pretty decent apology the night that the blackface/Klan picture broke, and I almost– almost– thought that maybe he shouldn’t have to immediately resign.
Well, fuck me for giving a racist a second’s benefit of the doubt, because the very next morning this asshole is not only trying to take back his admission that it was him in the picture, he “defends himself” by saying he wasn’t in blackface that time but there was this other time that he did it and man, isn’t shoe polish hard to get off your face?
So fuck that guy. He can go. Ain’t nobody gonna miss him.
(I won’t be entertaining a lot of debate on this point, for the record. We can lose everybody who ever wore blackface, period. I don’t give a fuck who you are or when you did it. I can’t believe that not only am I still having this fucking conversation, but it’s like the third time in a few weeks.)
And then I log onto Twitter for a moment during my lunch break and I get to play the Dead or an Asshole? game, since Liam Neeson is trending for some fucking reason. A wise man once said that the Internet plays a game where every day a new person is chosen as the Main Character of the Internet, and you win the game if that person is never you. So, Liam lost the game today.
And Liam’s story kinda had me fucked up for a minute, you know? Because– and stay with me, here, because I’m phrasing this carefully– I very much do get the feeling that something terrible has happened to someone you care about, and you weren’t able to do anything about it. I very much do get the idea that in response to that trauma he went a little crazy for a little while. That’s not the problem.
No, the problem for Neeson is that he phrases this whole thing in terms of revenge, which … uh, randomly walking around with a club in your pocket and hoping that somebody black starts shit with you isn’t actually revenge, Liam. That’s racism. It’s not revenge when somebody does something to you or someone you care about and you beat the hell out of somebody who maybe sorta looks like the person who did it. That’s not what that word means. And from what I’ve read, he didn’t seem to recognize that distinction at all during his deeply weird interview for a movie that I already wasn’t going to see because I can’t tell if it’s a revenge fantasy or some sort of weird, fucked-up Fargo-level black comedy shit. Nothing about Cold Pursuit was worth this shit. Nothing.
I mean, ultimately I think Neeson’s gonna skate on this, because the story basically just boils down to I had some terrible racist thoughts for a while that didn’t lead to any actual actions, and that’s not enough to have a serious effect on his career unless it turns out he’s got some stories in his past where he did do some shady shit. I’ll call it 50-50 that that happens, we’ll see. But … dude? Why the hell did you decide to tell this story in the first place? This is shit for your shrink, not a goddamned junket interview!
We also watched the first half of the Netflix Fyre Festival documentary last night, a process so horrifying that my wife legitimately looked over at me and asked if I was okay a couple of times. It’s not even Tuesday, y’all, and I have had enough stories of stupid white people to last me until next Black History Month, thanks. We can be done now.
I am trying very, very fucking hard right now not to write an entire post about how we need to burn down a certain racist shithole of a school in Kentucky and then take what’s left after we’ve burned it down and throw it in the ocean. I am as angry about this horseshit as I have been about anything in a very long time. Martin Luther King Day weekend is always a trying weekend for me, because I am so, so, so very sick of white people (and it is always white people) trying to turn him into The Nicest Man Who Ever Lived, and it just never ever fucking stops.
That the former happened during the latter is not helping my mood one goddamned bit. And let’s be clear here: the boys are assholes, yes, and I suspect that a number approaching but not quite reaching 100% of them will remain assholes as grown-ups. But there’s a reason I’m directing my ire at the school and not at the students.
(WordPress, right now is not the time to start fucking with me about how you can’t handle italics anymore. Not. The. Time.)
No, the real reason I’m pissed is that at no moment anywhere in any of those videos is any adult presence at all seen. I have taken kids on these trips before, remember. Not just as a chaperone; as the person in charge of the trip. You have two jobs on these trips: 1) to get the kids safely home to their parents, and 2) to make sure that at no point during your trip are any of your students showing their asses. And … well. You may have seen the video of the one kid literally tearing his shirt off.
If any one of my students at any point during any of my trips to DC had even had a dream about taking off his shirt and making a fool of himself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, when he woke up he would have been on a bus, by himself, halfway home already, and probably hogtied to boot.
And there is no evidence of any adult presence anywhere in any of these videos. None. These kids are being allowed to do whatever the fuck they want, and what they want is to make asses of themselves in public and shout things about rape at passing women.
And all this was before the blackface imagery came out, and at that point I don’t even care what the fuck happened at the Lincoln Memorial any longer. If this school lets these kids show up at basketball games in blackface it needs to not be a school any longer, and I will not be entertaining any suggestion otherwise from anyone. The Memorial’s almost irrelevant at this point. Gaslight away, assholes. The school lets them show up to basketball games in blackface. We’re done talking about whether they’re all racists or not.
We had … I dunno, six fights in the building today? Let’s say six, it was close to that one way or another. One kid caught what I think is probably the worst ass-whipping I’ve ever seen short of Rodney King. I hope to hell the other kid is in jail right now. I don’t know why they don’t take you to jail when you attack someone at school; school is the only place you can just beat the shit out of someone and then expect to go home afterwards like nothing happened. This kid should be in jail. He should be there until he turns 18, frankly. But he’s not, because he attacked someone at school and not out on the street.
Go ahead; there’s six plus years of damn near daily blog posts around here. Hell, the running average is probably still more than one a day. I wrote a whole-ass book about teaching that you can look through too if you like. See if you can find another post where this kid needs to be in jail for what he just did is the topic. I can’t think of one. That rough of a day.
And I do not have a hard job, guys. I really don’t. There’s a lot of moving parts but I don’t have a hard job, not compared to what everyone else in the building is doing. And today was damn near too much for me anyway. I don’t know how the hell any of these people get up and go to work every day. I do know that there’s no way in hell I return to this building next year. Not if my life depended on it. Which means I get to start jobhunting again. There’s a chance to do the same job just in some other school but for various reasons (which I’ll probably get into eventually, but not now) is not as likely as I’d like it to be, so the best move is to start looking for alternatives now. Because I can’t be in a place with this rotted a culture any longer. I’ve never worked in a school this bad. Not even close. And I’ll make it to June, but I need to be gone after that, and if something good turns up before then I’ll jump ship. I’ll be burning this bridge for the last time, but I think it needs to be done.
(Then again, for fun, especially if you know me in the real world, think back over my life since graduating in high school and count the good decisions. Other than marrying my wife, there aren’t as many as I used to think there are. I’m actually not very good at this being an adult nonsense. I remember when I thought I was good at stuff; it was a while ago.)
And tomorrow I’ll get up and do it all over again. Six more days with the kids and then I get a couple of weeks off. I can manage this, I think. I don’t have much of a choice, one way or another.
I know, typically three posts in a day is a bit on the excessive side. But this is going to get worse tomorrow, and there will probably be another post about it tomorrow, so I need to get this one out of the way.
A moment to provide you with context, for those of you who aren’t obsessive readers: I tried to order books, on October 27th, for an author event I had on November 11th. It was initially a bit of a risk to get them here on time, so on Friday the 2nd I upgraded my shipping to two-day, which guaranteed them to arrive on the 7th, a Wednesday. Then things began to go wrong:
Amazon update: I got a notification from them on Friday that they had shipped me … wait for it … one book out of the 28 or 29 that I ordered. It is supposed to arrive today. The cover will be on upside-down, inside-out, and no doubt on the wrong book altogether.
Welp. I got a buzz on my phone that my package had been delivered about an hour ago, and ran outside to collect it from the mailbox. I showed the package to my wife. “Wanna take any bets on whether this makes me happy?” I asked.
“No,” she said.
And I opened the package:
So. This is the one mystery copy of Searching for Malumba that, for no clear reason, Amazon has sent by itself. I am, remember, ordering these books at author cost (I charge about $15 for SfM, and the cost to me is just over $6) so that I can sell them to people at conventions.
This book is already borderline unsalable, just because of the cover. If it were for me, I’d be kinda pissed, but I’d probably not do anything about it, because books are made of paper and shit happens. This isn’t for me. It’s for someone else. So we are already sending this book back.
(Brief sidenote: another one of the fun stupidities of the new editor? If I try to write something in italics, it tends to erase spaces for no clear reason.)
So. Yeah. This is already going back. But what the hell– let’s look through and see what else is wrong. Because there’s no way that there’s just one thing wrong, right? There’s gonna be a printing error or something in this motherfucker somewhere.
And then I find out why Amazon sent me one copy by itself, before sending me the rest of my print-on-demand author copy books:
I was wrong about one thing: there was apparently one copy of a Luther Siler book out there somewhere at a secondhand bookstore. And, to be clear, I’m not mad at “Taelor,” whoever that is. I vaguely remember being proud of myself that I remembered to ask how to spell his name. I don’t remember what con or how long ago it was that I sold him this book. Maybe he didn’t like the book, maybe he isn’t the type to hold onto books after he reads them, maybe he just moved or came up short on cash or whatever. Taelor and I are cool. He can do whatever he wants with my books after he buys them.
But, uh, Amazon?
I bought this book from you. I sold it at a convention. That person sold it to a second-hand bookstore. I paid Amazon again, much later on, in a different transaction, for additional new copies of this book.
And y’all thought it was okay to send me, not only a used book, not only a damaged used book, but one with my own motherfucking signature already in it?
I am an author and I literally don’t have the words for how fucking angry I am right now.
I’m not gonna bother calling or emailing their fucking useless helpdesk motherfuckers just yet. Because I supposedly have another box coming tomorrow, with the other goddamn 20-some-odd books, and there is absolutely no Goddamn way that I believe there’s even a single chance of them getting that order right. The @ in the post title will ensure that someone sees this and lies to me some more. But we are about to have a motherfucking reckoning about this shit, and when we do, I’d better be talking to a motherfucker who speaks English because they are in America and said motherfucker had better know what the fuck KDP is.