The Whisteblower…Or Whatever He Is

Edward Snowden.

Ahhhh…almost like a breath of fresh air in the news recently, what with the ugliness happening in the trial of George Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin for no discernible reason I’ve been able to see.

So, I’m a pretty left-leaning guy. I like transparency in government as much as possible. I’m not in favor of people’s civil liberties being trounced. I’m usually in favor of underdogs. So, of course I’d be on the bandwagon of people calling Snowden a hero…after all, a lot of fellow left-leaning folks I see online and outright flaming liberals are singing his praises.

Only I’m not.

I certainly wasn’t jumping on the “hang him for treason” bandwagon at first, either, and I’m still not. But while I adopted a cautious wait-and-see attitude, the more I see, the more I want to see this man in prison.

I mean, first there’s the talk that he was a pretty staunch supporter of government monitoring of civilian communications when a conservative/GOP administration was doing it, suggesting he might be trying to strike a blow against Obama more than anything else. There’s also the way he didn’t just blow a whistle but also hustled out of town with, apparently, some laptops full of classified information (potential money for a rainy day? bargaining chips? other?). There’s also the fact that, like it or not, he was in a position where he pretty much vowed to follow his leaders and keep secrets, and he didn’t…and I’m the kind of guy who likes to see another guy stick to his word.

But, most of all, I am disturbed by how he simply ran.

He ran away. I’ve seen heroes in action in the past, and the real heroes are the ones who say, “I’m doing this because it’s the right thing, and I will stand before authorities, the courts, and anyone else to say that on record.”

Now, I realize that treatment of people who cross or skirt the line of terrorism, treason, espionage, etc. can face some pretty nasty repercussions. So, I totally get not wanting to get tossed into some deep, dark hole in Guantanamo. I really do.

But why did he flee the country, instead of seeking asylum in an embassy here in the States? Why run away from everything, unless…perhaps…it’s really the attention he wants? Or to hurt a particular administration at the expense of national interests (like the GOP in Congress)? Or maybe even to profit from all this while looking like he did a good thing.

Frankly, he’s lucky he’s only being charged with espionage and not with treason. And I suspect if he weren’t a young white guy, there would be a whole lot more effort to bring him back by whatever means necessary.

Also, I don’t feel like what Snowden did really revealed that much about the government that most people with functioning brains didn’t already know it was likely doing. I don’t see how it’s any different than plans (both intended and actually carried out) of the previous administration.

I don’t think Snowden blew much in the way of whistles. But he sure seems to be blowing a trumpet for some fanfare.

An “Apology” Template for Sincere Racists

I’ve piled on Paula Deen with criticism on Twitter yesterday and today already; no need to rub salt in the wounds here at the blog. But, having just seen her apology video, I feel like I need to say something to people in general with racist attitudes who may one day need to publicly apologize.

If you are sincerely sorry, that will probably show. If people ridicule you after your apology, as is already the case with Deen, you probably know you’re racist and didn’t fake your regret well enough, or you’re still confused about what racism is.

You see, being sorry that you’re taking heat, and hurting because of it, isn’t the same as being sorry about what you’ve said and done.

And so, to all of you out there who hold racist beliefs but realize they may be a little screwed up (and you want to begin change but haven’t quite figure out how to yet) or those of you who have said racist things or done racist things recently and don’t understand why people are taking it badly and wish they wouldn’t be so “sensitive,” here is a template for you. Modify as needed. But remember, in the end, to own your feelings, however screwed up they may be, instead of faking contrition or simply asking to be forgiven without giving any indication you’ve done anything to mend your ways or repair the damage you’ve done. I suspect people will respect you more for being yourself, however fucked up, rather than pretending regret you don’t possess.

Template for Public Apology If You Are Racist

Clearly, my actions as reported in the media recently have put me in a racist light, and that may or may not be true. To be honest, I can’t really say I feel sorry for what I did, because I didn’t think that what I did was evil. If I thought it was, I wouldn’t have done it. Honestly, when this mess first started, I felt like people were being oversensitive, and a part of me still thinks that.

Certainly, what I did wasn’t meant to hurt people who don’t deserve to be hurt and for anyone who feels it was aimed at them or that I have unfairly included them under an umbrella of insult or accusation, I’m sorry. Frankly, I simply don’t see most people who look like you in a good light. Maybe most of you are OK, but that’s not the way I’ve seen it.

Now, I never thought I was racist; just figured I was seeing things the way they are. I’m still not sure I think I am racist. But with so many more of you out there saying I did something racist than are saying I didn’t, I may have to reevaluate my opinion of myself and my beliefs.

But the bottom line is, I can’t promise you I’m going to change, and I’m not sure I want to. My friends and family are still who they were before, and these are people who had no problems with my attitudes and views and, in fact, have supported them. I’m still going to be hanging around them. Also, I simply feel more comfortable hanging around people who are like me. Most of us feel that way. I have to decide if it’s more important and comfortable to me to remain as I am and continue to hold the same views, or to change. I probably won’t change, though, because just like you wouldn’t simply change your views because I told you to, I don’t want to change because someone else told me too, either.

However, I can say this: What I did is deemed unacceptable by most people in this country. That’s obvious, because I’ve been called out on what I did—and if there is one thing I am sorry for truly and sincerely, it is having done what I did so obviously, instead of keeping it to myself. And, you’re right, what I did was inappropriate for its blatancy. So, while I cannot promise I will stop holding views you see as racist or stop telling racist jokes to my friends and family, I can say that I will, out a sense of decency that I was clearly lacking, not continue to do this in any public fashion, nor subject people who work for me or with whom I work to the kind of thing I’ve been called out on.

I had no right to be in the faces of the people whose faces I got into, and that includes you, the public. But neither do I feel you have any right to tell me who to be in private, so, honestly, I’m probably not going to change much inside. From now on, though, I will keep it inside and undercover, like I should have done to begin with.

The $1.3 billion ideological football

So, saw a tweet by Sarah Palin someone had commented on in my timeline, talking about President Obama giving $1.3 billion to the Muslim Brotherhood even though Congress told him not to. It smelled like horsecrap from the get-go, but you know what?

It took me going through five or six Google search pages before I finally found one story nestled amongst all the angry repostings at conservative blogs and right-wing “news” sites that actually explained what really happened: It was military aid to Egypt, which we’ve been giving for years upon years upon years…and the only issue was that the Obama administration loosened some “democracy” restrictions so that the money could go where it was supposed to.

Nothing shady. Simply that, technically, Egypt wasn’t democratic enough to qualify. But the thing is, through multiple administration’s we’ve overlooked political and human rights abuses in Egypt (and Israel…and Saudi Arabia) because it would be political, diplomatic, military, security and stability suicide to do otherwise in the Middle East. You don’t start slapping your key allies in a tricky region like that.

But somehow, all that gets twisted into Obama giving a fat load of money to a Muslim group.

This makes me fear for the future of this country that people eat this stuff up and repeat it online without questioning it for even a moment and making an effort to find out what’s really going on.

Does the truth make this $1.3 billion wonderful news? No. There are still reasons to be concerned if it’s the right thing to do, but that’s on top of a lot of other damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t decisions we make worldwide to keep peace, keep the economy going and all that.

Point is that as bad as the left has been at times, I have never seen anything in my lifetime as batshit crazy as the right wing since Obama took office. It’s downright frightening how quickly they cling to obvious lies and reject obvious and verifiable truths. Not even gray areas. Things you can actually look up and see they aren’t true, but the right wing continues to insist they are, so loudly and for so long that they become seen as truth by a good chunk of America.

I mean, if Obama had cut $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt saying that he can’t reward them since they’re moving too slowly on reforms, the Republicans and Tea Party and all the rest would be accusing him of trying to destabilize the Middle East, back away from a key ally and hurt American-based contractors who ultimately supply many of the items that military aid would end up buying.

I criticized George W. Bush for a lot of things, not the least of which was entangling us in a terrible, costly war using patently untrue reasons to justify it. I mostly criticized him for obvious conflicts of interest, like putting people on a committee meant to protect children from lead exposure who had been paid by industry for years to debunk research on lead’s health impact…or giving Iraq contracts to Halliburton, a company his vice president was intimately involved with…or taking long and frequent vacations to Texas during one of the most unsettled U.S. periods (in terms of peace and security) of my lifetime.

I’ve got my beefs with Obama, too. Difference is that for two presidential election cycles now, he’s clearly been the candidate with his head screwed on the tightest and the one who’s most likely to give somewhat of a crap about most Americans instead of solely kneeling to the very wealthy ones. So, while I think he’s done a lot of things wrong and I’m not sure he’s always responded as well as he could to crises, I’m going to mostly side with him.

And when I do criticize him, it will be based on truth, not lies and conspiracy theories…just like I have with any other president.

Privacy? What’s That?

It’s amazing to me that people are all up in arms about the government gathering data on so many of us, so often, that they have to built a whole new big data center to store data about our phone calls.

Considering that most of our addresses, names, places of work and other intimate data are plastered all over privately owned sites online, I’d pretty much consider our government completely clueless if it wasn’t gathering data of its own.

Oh, you can cry all you want about invasion of privacy and tax dollars and boo hoo hoo (and it seems we’ve found an issue here for the far left and the far right to both agree on)…but for years now, most of you have been giving your personal data away online, willingly, to often be sold to companies. Facebook does it all the time, and that’s just the biggest offender.

But you do it because you like the convenience of things like online shopping and you like having social media outlets that you don’t have to pay for. You give away a bunch of really personal, valuable stuff for a pittance (allowing yourself to be screwed over) because it’s worth it to most of you to be screwed over.

Well, guess what? You get a lot of benefits from the federal government, like highways, some modicum of protection of our food supply, regulation of pharmaceuticals so that they’re less likely to kill us while treating the symptoms of a disease, disaster relief, military protection and so much more.

Does it feel good to know the government is spying on all of us all the time?


But why feign surprise now? Why be outraged?

You’ve been giving it away for free for ages already.

I Am Mister Furious

I understand The Hulk. In fact, I’m more like him than I want to admit.

For those of you who have studiously avoided television shows, comic books, movies or pop culture references to The Hulk, the character is simply this: A mild-tempered geeky scientist gets exposed to massive levels of gamma radiation and is mutated so that when he becomes angry, he turns into a hulking, muscular, green creature of superhuman strength that sometimes is heroic but sometimes simply rampages until he calms down enough to revert to being Dr. Bruce Banner.

The Hulk is one of the main characters in the recent film Marvel’s “The Avengers” with Mark Ruffalo playing the role of Bruce Banner and, with the help of digital effects, his enraged emerald-skinned alter-ego. Throughout the movie, various characters question Dr. Banner on how he manages to keep from losing control of his temper and unleashing The Hulk for such a long time since his last “episode” (in the film The Incredible Hulk). Some do so in a teasing/needling manner; others in a more curious/concerned/awed manner, but everyone wants to know his “secret” for keeping the catalytic rage bottled up. But what all that foreshadows is an event in the final act of the movie, in which Bruce Banner arrives at the scene of the climactic battle and one of his superhero compatriots, Captain America, tells him, “Doctor Banner, I think now might be a good time for you to get angry.”

In one of the greatest lines of the movie, Banner says, “That’s my secret, Captain: I’m always angry” and then simply wills himself to become The Hulk even though he seemed so serene a split-second earlier.

I know a lot of people loved that one-liner because of its “zing” quality, even if they didn’t really think about what it meant. Others may have thought that the line makes no sense, because if he was always angry, he’d always be The Hulk.

That line resonated with me from the first time I heard it, though I couldn’t have adequately explained why it makes sense until yesterday.

But before we get to last night, let’s start with an admission: I’m a very angry man.

This will come as a surprise to many who know me in person or who know me online. This will likely come as a surprise to most of my relatives, even my Dad (who likely doesn’t read this blog anyway).

This would surprise people because I’m typically calm and laid-back. I’m rarely visibly flustered. I don’t often yell. I’m not mean or petty. I don’t bully people. I’m not aggressive in my words or actions most of the time. I don’t try to get my own way all the time. I haven’t been in a fistfight since grade school, and even then very rarely. I’ve never struck my wife or even verbally abused or humiliated her. I don’t spank my daughter and never spanked my son. I’ve never even punched a hole in a wall.

But what some people know, most especially my wife, my son and my daughter, is that when I hit a limit or when someone is pushing me too far, I erupt. I become a very scary person. I will yell. My cursing, which can already be a legendary level even when I’m happy and simply shooting the shit (see, just did it right there…), ramps up. My voice raises to levels that can shake walls. And while some rational part of my mind almost always reminds me not to start breaking things that would need to be repaired later or that would make a huge mess, I have been known to go out into our attached barn and literally destroy a resin chair (as just one example) in a few strikes against the floor.

Yesterday, something happened.

The details of what happened aren’t important.

They led, initially, to me making a post on Twitter yesterday that read: Damn, that’s a big damned smoking crater. What the fuck is it doing in the middle of my life?

That tweet was preceded by yelling. Later, it was followed by some more angry outbursts, though perhaps far less dramatic. I hurt no one, burned no bridges (may have singed one or two though) and I was not hurt nor did I destroy anything.

But rarely have I been so angry. That anger abated, but it never went away. I did what I have so often done, which is to push it back down. And before you ask, no, I don’t have high blood pressure. Never have. And that’s amazing, when you consider the tweet I made today: The problem w/ making 25 years of deposits in the Bank of Rage is when someone opens the vault door & it gets jammed when you try to shut it

For at least a quarter of a century, I’ve been pushing stuff down. Frankly, I’ve been doing it longer than that, but the most notable examples of burying my rage have happened over the past 25 years. Some of it is is work related, some marriage or child related, some related to other family members, some due to many other factors in life.

I am always angry. Last night, I was more aware of it than most times. Even when I pushed down the anger, I could still feel it flowing near the surface like a river that might burst its banks if another rainstorm arrives.

This morning, my head was throbbing and my eyes burning (how much from rage and how much from the previous evening’s tears of anguish…for anger and anguish are so closely related…I don’t know). I was no longer furious outwardly or consciously, but even today, the anger was still palpably near the surface.

Like Bruce Banner, I am always angry. There is no place to dispose of the toxic waste that is all that anger I’ve pushed down. It doesn’t ever really go away. It has a half-life, I’m sure, so it fades, but there’s so much of it that I know it’s still at explosive levels. Just waiting for the right catalyst to come along, whether that might be a threat to my family, an unwanted life change, an argument or whatever.

Being an angry person doesn’t mean that you are an unpleasant one. It doesn’t mean you never have periods of happiness or satisfaction. And certainly, everyone is capable of rage. But I can tell you that I’m not like most of you, no matter what you might think or how much you might want to console me that I’m a great guy.

I am a great guy to the vast majority of people. I do enjoy a great many things in life. Overall, I am harmless to living things except for pests that forget they’re supposed to live outside the walls of my home.

But I am more angry than most of you can know. Just as many of you don’t really “get” what Bruce Banner said about always being angry, you won’t really “get” how I feel inside. You can’t know what it feels like knowing that I’m a guard outside of a sealed vault that should never be opened and within which the pressure ebbs and flows but never really goes down to non-threatening levels.

I am always angry. I have been so for a very long time. So long that it’s as natural to me as breathing most of the time. And as manageable. But there are times I have to think about my breathing, like when allergies are flaring or something else make me conscious that I’m not getting quite as much air as I need or want. Just as there are times the heartbeat I take for granted becomes something I can’t ignore because it’s beating so fast from exertion or passion or panic.

With those autonomic functions, I continue because I don’t have to think about them and they mind their own business as I mind my more cognitive pursuits, and so it is with my rage. I don’t know that I will ever not be angry all the time.

I can only pray that I get to ignore the sight of that vault that shudders with the tension of what lies behind the door, and forget that I am so full of rage.



I Am Not My Spouse’s Keeper

Much has already been said on the Internet about heckler Ellen Hurtz and our nation’s first lady, Michelle Obama, including by Awesomely Luvvie, my even more awesome wife and media outlets like the Washington Post.

I’m not going to rehash the points already made on this matter, and whether Obama was out of line (hint: she wasn’t) or whether Hurtz had any right to feel “taken aback” for getting scolded (she doesn’t). I’m going to simply say this:

No matter how good, noble or heartfelt your cause is, if you interrupt me in the middle of a speech to confront me about an issue I have no direct influence over…in other words, telling me to tell my spouse what to do about something…I will not be as nice as Obama was. I will start rapping you over the head with the microphone and ask you what you’re going to do about stopping the Westboro Baptist Church folks from constantly protesting at funerals of innocent victims who have nothing to do with the damned issues the church is foaming at their collective mouths about.

Because clearly, since you use similar tactic of protesting in a completely out-of-context manner, it must mean you have influence over them and should conduct an intervention with them.

It only makes slightly less sense than expecting a person’s spouse to dictate to them how they should approach their job with regard to your issue.

Has Tim Been Un-Wise Lately? How About the Rest of Us?

So, famous and notable white anti-racist thinker, pundit, commentator, author, blogger, etc. Tim Wise has been getting some heat lately, much of it from people of color, particularly African-Americans.

It seems a lot of the criticism comes down to the following:

  • People of color (especially blacks) who speak out about racism in society get vilified or accused of pulling the race card or guilting whites (even liberal ones) even when they say the exact same things Wise is often praised for saying
  • White anti-racists are a good thing, but why don’t black ones get anywhere near as much attention or as much of the pie in terms of book deals, media recognition, respect, etc.?
  • What has Wise done for non-whites who are victims of discrimination daily in a white-privilege-based society, other than to spread information and awareness among some white people (who are more eager to listen to a white guy saying what black people have been saying all along)?
  • Why won’t Wise publicly debate or discuss differing approaches with non-white anti-racists (instead of choosing to go head-to-head only with people at the other end of the spectrum from him)?

I’m not here to defend or attack Tim Wise.

I think a lot of what he does is good and well-meaning. I also think the criticisms against him have a lot of merit.

But what I will say is that this might be a good time for those of us who hold notions of equality dear (or claim to) and are white to actually check ourselves and do some self-review.

For example, when a person who isn’t white points out something they think is racist, is your first instinct to listen to them and see it from their perspective as much as possible (instead of from a position of white privilege), or do you start looking for flaws in their argument?

I’ve been guilty of the latter at times. Not very often in the past 20 years or so, I think, though my wife (who is black) might disagree. There have been times she’s been furious about a discriminatory slight and told me about it, and there have been times I’ve challenged her. In one case, she was ready to stop shopping at an entire chain of stores because of one checker’s assholery. She got mad when I told her that was irrational, but in that case, I was right, because she hadn’t asked for a manager to complain to, and she’d never been treated that way at any other location of that store.

On the other hand, she once got treated badly at the bank and I was finding the potential flaws in her perception and asking if it might have been “this” happening (something not racist) rather than “that” happening (her version of it).

On the whole, I lean to her perception, because it’s kind of stupid for me to tell her what was happening in a situation that she was involved in and I wasn’t. Also, I don’t live in brown skin every day and carry all the baggage that entails with being a potential target…in fact, I almost never have to think about my race or how people perceive my worth as a human being.

Still, I screw up at times. Some of you might screw up way more often than me and if so, stop it. Do better. In fact, do better than me.

Also, as white people, do we treat non-whites with the same level of respect as we do those with our same or similar skin tone (particularly when we are in positions of authority and have an influence on their ability to achieve what they deserve)? Are we making assumptions about them that are unwarranted? Are we talking down to them? Are we seeing them as humans first, or as color palettes? Etc.

I’ve only once been in a position where I had an influence over hiring. I was a key factor in the hiring of two writers at that magazine at different times: one black and one white.

Now, I’m not looking for a pat on the back about the black woman. But I need to make a point here about hiring.

When the position the black woman got was open, there were other candidates for the job, all of them white. During the interviewing process, however, when all was said and done and I considered all the qualifications of the people, I purposefully gave the black candidate the edge in the end, because of her race.

This is where some of you may scream “reverse racism!” or others (black and white alike) might accuse me of acting out of white guilt or simply hiring the woman because I was involved with a black woman at the time.

Not so. Here is what happened, and what I challenge more people with hiring power to consider:

In the end, no candidate stood out in terms of skills. No one had an edge. However, what I knew we had in our department was a whole lot of white folks. And in the organization as a whole, blacks were concentrated in lower-end positions (secretarial, filing, mail room, etc.). I had a chance to hire a black woman for a reporting and writing position on our magazine, and I pushed hard for her to get the job.

It was the right thing to do because to do otherwise would have been to perpetuate the idea of hiring and working with people who are most like us. That’s a terrible thing, because not everyone in the world is like us. If everyone in our department is, then someone has very likely failed in the recruitment or hiring process at some point, and perhaps multiple points. Sure, most people in the country are white, so the fact that most of our department would be white made sense. But to pass on a chance to make the department more representative of the population at large would have been a failure on my part.

Does this make me some saint? Far from it. I’ve had my moments of being quicker to lock the door when a sketchy looking black person is coming than if a sketchy looking white person is. I’ve done and thought stupid things at times. Not often, but often enough to feel some shame (as I would at any other bad behavior or faulty attitude, racial or otherwise). So, I’m not giving this hiring example as a way of showing how great I am.

But I am lifting it up as an example of the things we need to factor into our decision-making.

In the end, as with Tim Wise, the biggest issue isn’t what’s said but what is actually done.

If we get all excited about someone speaking truth simply because it’s a white person, but we routinely tune out the black people who are just as smart or smarter, then we fail. If we continue to gravitate toward or bring into our circles only people who look like us and come from the same cultural background, then we fail. If we promote equality and fight racism, but don’t often team up with the people we are defending, we fail.

As white people, we often ask non-whites to work hard, try harder and to “be patient” as society evolves.

It’s high time many of us whites stopped acting like we’re working as hard as we should be.

Because, by and large, we aren’t.

Your Cleveland Response Checklist

So, it’s a bit late for most of you now, but I’m going to present a list of what priorities should have been following the rescue early this week of three women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade or more, plus a six-year-old girl conceived by one of the victims. With luck, some of you with compassion problems will take this to heart the next time something like this happens (and it will):

#1: Feel a sense of gnawing horror that anyone would abduct three very young women, hold them captive for any amount of time and do God-knows-what to them while they are terrified, helpless and their families think they are dead.

#2: Feel a sense of joy and wonder amidst the horror that a regular guy saw a woman trying to get attention for help from inside the house, broke in to make the escape of the victims possible and called 911…instead of said regular guy simply shrugging and thinking, “I dunno what’s happening there; I shouldn’t get involved.”

#3: Hold your loved ones close and feel gratitude that they are still with you, and hope that nothing horrible happens to them at the hands of a depraved fuckhead.

#4: Resist the urge to look at interviews of the man who was instrumental in the rescue, consider how colorful his words and forthright attitude are, and then turn him into a form of entertainment for the Internet masses by auto-tuning his interview with reporters, laughing at him for his mannerisms, and/or generally joking about shit when three women have spent a decade in slavery inside a house.

Thank you for your attention.

And if you want me to lighten up and want to accuse me of being judgmental with point #4, I have to look at you and wonder how you can be so inured to pain, suffering and horror that you can even think about jokes over this situation when this news is only about a day old (and some people joked about it within hours).

Too Much Power in Those Pages!

I’ve always been a big fan of comic books and comic book-based (or inspired) movies and TV series. This love goes back to even the cheesy movies and television shows of my childhood and young adult years when the special effects weren’t special at all (unless you’re a lover of “cheese”).

One thing I’ve never liked in any of these superhero/supervillain venues, though, is the uber-powered hero. Now, I can deal with uber-powered villains here and there, because the heroes need special challenges at times and in my opinion, if you have the powers of, essentially, a god…well, you’re likely to behave badly or to misuse your powers for what you think is the “greater good,” no matter what anyone else thinks or whose rights you trample in the process.

But I can think of few things more boring than heroes with vast, vast powers and few vulnerabilities.

So, Superman (the classic example of this) is not among my favorites (though the upcoming film rebooting him for the cinematic world looks promising). Nor Captain Marvel/Shazam or Icon. Nor, on the Marvel side, such clones of those DC characters as Sentry or Blue Marvel.

I don’t want a hero with the “power of a million exploding suns.” I just don’t.

Green Lantern has vast power, but his body itself is vulnerable and if you get in a good cheap shot, he’s toast. Wonder Woman has vast strength and can take a major hit, but she’s not bulletproof. A sniper who shoots her from behind so that she can’t deflect the bullets with her bracelets could take her down. Even the Hulk, whose strength and invulnerability are legendary, has (usually) been limited by the fact it is anger that unleashes him, his mind is easily messed with, he can return to human form if you quell his rage, and his feral nature makes him as much a threat to innocents as he is a potential hero. Plus, the Hulk doesn’t have flight, heat vision, X-ray vision, freezing breath or other weird extras—he’s simply raw physical power.

I could go on, but why subject you to a case of extreme geekery? It might be contagious.

My point is that if you have a hero who can hardly ever be hurt and has a vast array of powers, you end up with boring storylines. You have to keep bringing in enemies on a regular basis who are so powerful that it seems ridiculous that the Earth wouldn’t already have been utterly stripped of life or that civilization, at the very least, would crumble. How can a hero with a vast panoply of powers be truly challenged without resorting to anti-deus-ex-machina devices frequently? He or she cannot.

This is one of the reasons I shy away godlike powers in the stories at my Tales of the Whethermen blog. Some heroes and villains are very powerful in my fictional world, but they’re all, ultimately, human and while they may be less vulnerable than normal folks, they can all be hurt or killed in a number of ways. The closest thing I have to a “Superman” is the very troubled and ethically changeable Doctor Holiday, and even though he has access to a limitless selection of powers, he can only express a few of them in any given appearance.

We need to stop with the godlike superheroes. We just need to. Fans of Superman, Sentry, Icon and all the rest may not like what I’m saying, but it needs to be said. These characters present such daunting challenges to making them be challenged that storytelling suffers. At the very least, if we’re going to have heroes who can level mountains with ease, can we at least confine them to cosmic adventures where there is a vast landscape they can tear up, instead of pretending that the Earth would still be livable after a few similarly powered enemies showed up to take out our godlike hero?

Not all heroes need to be a Batman or Punisher, for example. Spider-Man has lots of power but still gets loopy if you knock him in the head or limps if you break a few of his ribs. Iron Man may be kick-ass, but if you hack his armor’s systems, he’s in trouble. These are the kinds of heroes who can amaze us and still we can relate to them.

How can I relate to Superman? In my opinion, he’s less mortally understandable than Jesus Christ. And Jesus brought people back from the dead and rose from death himself.

When I can identify less personally with the Son of Krypton than I can with the Son of God, we have a problem.

Truth vs. Reality

On my Twitter feed today, one of the folks there had retweeted a link to YouTube video of a woman in an abusive relationship who took photos of herself everyday for a year and ran them one after the other like a video timeline.

This is it (and there are some pretty ugly parts, especially the longer it goes on):

Now, in the YouTube comments, there are some who cried “fake!”

Moreover, some who cried fake and then stated or implied that the video was thus pointless.

No, it’s not pointless.

It is real? Quite possibly not. I started wondering myself, thinking, why would someone do something like this, taking selfies as a project to document her abuse and willingly stay in that abusive relationship? I could not fathom how someone would think it important enough to do this and also be willing to risk their health, safety and life to carry it out. So, I myself am dubious. I’m supposed to be cautious and cynical; I’m a journalist and editor.

The bigger question, though, is whether this video is truth.

And, yes, that it most certainly is. What is portrayed is very much the face of abuse (literally and figuratively). This is the kind of thing that happens in these relationships. You’ll have a lot of good days in many of them, followed by very bad ones. And the bad days often begin to occur closer together and get ever more violent.

That is the truth.

Whether the video is real doesn’t matter. It delivers the message very poignantly and effectively.

Sometimes we don’t need reality.

We need a dose of truth instead.