When I was about 14, I decided that everything my mother did was designed with one purpose: to ruin my life. Liver for dinner? She was trying to either poison me or starve me to death. No talking on the phone until after my homework was done? She was obviously trying to destroy my social life and turn me into a 9th grade pariah, unable to enjoy the god-given right to hold the clunky cordless to my ear and talk for hours about how mean Mrs. Porter was and how fine Nikki Sixx looked in those leather pants. Forced to clean the bathroom? Clearly, the toxic fumes from the Comet Scrub were going to enter my brain through my pores and render me a vegetable, confined to a narrow bed with rails, sitting in my own filth while my mother scowled at me from across the room.
She was an adversary on a level with Joan Crawford and what’s-her-name from the Flowers in the Attic series that my friends and I all loved back then. I was convinced of that.
I screamed at her, I yelled, I cried, I slammed doors (until she took mine right off the hinges one day), and no doubt accused her multiple times of all manner of hyperbolic abuse. (Sorry, Mom.) Her response to these episodes was more often than not to roll her eyes and tell me to cool it with the histrionics.
Cool it with the histrionics.
Over the past few years, and especially in the past week or so, I’ve been struck by how many supposedly mature, adult Americans act like hormonal, entitled 14-year-old girls, screaming with outrage over imagined wrongs, and slamming doors on things like logic, and compassion, and rational thought.
We need to take the doors off the fucking hinges, now.
The other day, I posted a status update on Facebook. Here’s what it said:
A flag does not make people kill people. Taking a flag away will not eradicate the racism (or I’m sorry, heritage, whatthefuckever) that it represents. But flying it over a government building and selling its image splashed across t-shirts and trucker caps and baby onesies is an overt endorsement of the “values” the flag represents.
And I hate to break it to you folks, but if you’re more upset about the fact that Wal-mart isn’t selling Confederate flag merchandise anymore than you are about the fact that a young man, practically a child, shot and killed nine human beings as they sat seeking peace in a place that should have been their sanctuary, you are a prime example of why that scrap of cloth is representative of nothing good at all.
There are a thousand other ways to display your pride in where you live and where you come from. If the only way you can think of to do so is to display a symbol of hate, I think that says it all.
This was in response to seeing quite a few of my Facebook friends expressing anger that they could no longer buy confederate flag merchandise at their local Wal-mart. THEY CAN’T TAKE OUR FLAGS!
I grew up in South Florida and then moved to Western North Carolina. I always knew the Confederate battle flag as the “rebel flag,” until I stuck one on my stereo speaker and my dad asked me what the hell that was, and gave me a quick history lesson. I know the history of the flag, and I know that when the civil rights movement started, people opposed to racial equality latched on to that thing with the force of a thousand angry toddlers at nap time, and they made it a symbol of their hate. I realize that to many people, it’s more a brand than anything, now: the Rebel Flag, Southern pride, showing off that you’re a “redneck,” a title that has become trendier and trendier in the past few years. It’s a fashion statement to many people, just like Abercrombie or Nike or peace signs or American flags. But still. People died because of what that flag represents to someone. If you want to show people that southerners are not all ugly ignorant racist pricks (and they’re not, far from it), show some compassion for the people who died. Show some concern for the children who are being raised to believe that that flag is a symbol of their racial superiority. Someone killed nine innocent people in the name of your precious flag, and your concern is that you can no longer buy the flag at Wal-mart?
There might be something wrong with you.
A few friends shared that status update. One person commented, “How did the flag kill anyone?”
Seriously? That’s what you got out of all that?
Another person asked–I’m not even kidding, here–“If they take away the confederate flag completely, what will they call our state? Our state is the Confederate State.”
Well… Two things here, sweet pea. One, your state is the Palmetto State. Two, cool it with the histrionics.
News flash: life is bigger than you. Life is bigger than your ideas–much, much bigger.
We are teenagers stomping our feet and yelling about personal injustice any time something happens that we think is going to affect our right now. We are looking for ways, like fucking always, to make this about how life is unfair to us.
It’s the same as the bullshit gay marriage debate: if the gays get married, then straights can’t marry and priests will self-combust and my god, think of the children, and-no. If the gays get married, then the gays get married. The end. For real, that’s it. That is honest to whatever god you worship THE. END. But it has to affect you, right? Everything does.
It’s the same as the bullshit gun control debate. It’s great that Wal-mart is pulling Confederate flag merchandise, I guess, but are they ever going to stop selling guns? I could walk into that store right now and buy a gun easier than I can refill my kid’s allergy medication. And yet, all over the internet world, people are still screaming, Gun control is bad! They wanna take our guns! Ain’t nobody gettin’ my guns! Gun control does not mean that President Obama is going to walk into your house and steal your guns from you. It does not mean that your guns are going to magically disappear in the middle of the night and be replaced by Michael Franti cassette tapes and books about the power of positive thinking, okay? It does not mean that only the bad guys will have guns, despite what that attractive mustachioed older man in the Facebook meme would have you believe. It’s true, there is no way to ensure that the bad guys never get guns. It’s true, crime will always happen. Even if we did take every gun away from every person on the planet, people would still kill. But that doesn’t mean we need to gift wrap them and hand them out to every deranged asshole that asks for one. People drink and drive. People run over each other on purpose. People drive without the proper license. But we still do our best to try and make sure that people are educated about safety and how to operate a vehicle before we let them behind the wheel. We try to teach about the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving and we make laws to try and inhibit those behaviors. We don’t freak the fuck out when it’s time to renew our license and run screaming out of the DMV about Omigod they wanna take my car! Only the bad guys will have cars! Gimme back my freedom!
Cool it with the histrionics. Stop. Take a deep breath. Think about how your perceptions are shaped by and are shaping the world around you. You share this planet with more than 7 billion people. It is not all about you. It never was.