Friday, June 11, 2010

Abuse update, Facebook Stalkers, and a Novel Discovery



Day 27 of 42


    My wife was standing outside our apartment, about to unlock the door when she heard the dog's whining coming from next door.

    "Can't you do something about that!" The woman said, her voice clear through the door.

    "No. The neighbours might hear." He said. (This is the same guy who had protested so eloquently that he hadn't been hitting his dog the week before.)

    When Bethany told me what had happened a couple of days ago, I didn't know what to think. On the one hand, I was happy that at least our presence and willingness to say something had obviously had an impact. My second thought was that neither my neighbor nor his girlfriend actually understood why we were upset. Why many people would be upset. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a reflection of t heir theology. I know, I know, what does God have to do with this. A lot, I think, considering the predominant view of the natural world for the past two thousand years has been, ecologically at least, Dominionism. That is, God gave humanity the right to rule over the creatures of the world. They are under OUR dominion. And it's God approved. This idea was largely unchallenged until perhaps the mid to late 20th Century, and even for people who are not religious, the idea persists. An animal is a possession. If they're noisy, do what you want to discipline them because they should know better than to make noise when you would rather they wouldn't. As your possession, it's the animal's responsibility to learn your every want, need and emotion, and respond accordingly. If they don't, than whatever 'abuse' they suffer, is their own fault.

    By the way, for the better part of human existence, in nearly every culture in the world, that has largely been the attitude of society towards women. Perhaps it's one reason that I hate the term 'bitch.'

    I won't lie. It's awkward to confront your neighbours. They're right across the hall, and every time I open the door to leave now I have to clench up in case I run into them. Do I smile and say hello? Do I give them a stern face to let them know that we're watching them? The thing is, they're both friendly people. It's their idea about animals that's so revolting. To them, it's probably no more serious than a simple spanking to old school parents. It was worth it however, and Bethany and I will keep an eye out as best we can.


    The Facebook melodrama peaked even further this week. For those of you who hadn't heard, let me explain briefly. A couple of weeks ago I entered into a heated argument with someone in my hometown over his status comment on Facebook, a begrudging remark about the way Obama has handled the BP oil spill. My comment was both withering and condescending. Perhaps it shouldn't have been, but I was tired of the Obama comments that I'd seen which, like this one, contained no substance to it. (At least, not in the comment itself. Obama does have responsibility in the oil spill for his lack of regulating oversight.) To me, it was another Republican, Fox news smackdown, thrown out only because Obama was a Democrat, and Republicans hated all things Democrat. This produced a rather heated engagement, at which point he (a guy three years younger who'd attended the same high school) said that I was offended because of his picture. I had no idea what he was talking about. I checked his page, and sure enough, there it was, a picture of Obama with a noose around his neck, under which were the words "Rope." My first response was shock. It was clearly a "lynching" photo. My second was disgust. And so I hammered him for it. He defended the photo by saying that it was from a Lousiana spearfishing forum, and that it had to do with "Obama continued imperialism" and nothing whatsoever with his race. A friend of his from my hometown chimed in, along with a few others, and told me I was self projecting. We went back and forth before I finally pulled the plug. Enough was enough. If they couldn't see what everyone else saw, then there was no point.

Except it wasn't over.

They kept posting on my wall. When I blocked them, they used other people from my hometown, and made new accounts (including one for his cat!), and told me over and over what a "f****** idiot I was." Their language was about as developed as their intelligence. The second one, in particular, developed a particular fascination with me, citing a supposed incident in high school where I, along with the rest of the football team, had knocked off his hat and kicked it. I didn't remember it, or him. I reached out to old friends from high school, but they assured me that there was no way I would have bullied anyone. It'd been twenty years, and the fact he'd remembered it so clearly bothered me. They refused to stop their cyber stalking however. Over on Youtube, they commented about a video I'd made with a friend. "You look like an old porn star faggot." (Yes, they're the sensitive type. Hard to believe that they're both in their thirties and single.) They commented on some of my other videos. Fresh new comments on my personal website, along with more attempts on Facebook. When I finally put their names in my Facebook status as a warning to stop, well, that's when things started to become more clear about who they were. The first clue was from an old friend of mine, much younger than me, who remembered the two guys from elementary school and high school, where they'd bullied him mercilessly. Later came the note from someone who'd found a KKK video on their website. The more we peeled back the layers, the more I realized what sick, cowardly, racist jerks these guys were.

It was amazing. And sad.

    Sometimes I bring these things on myself. I like to stir the pot. I like passionate debate. And sometimes I cross the line. Sometimes I forget that it's more important to be good than to be right, that words don't always make a difference, and that sometimes words replace action. But I also know that it's passion that moves. It's passion that moves us to change, to question, to re-examine. It's passion that makes life worth living. And sometimes we need a push to get there. (Does that make me an, um, pusher?) That said, it's something I need to think about. The goal is not to upset people, but to challenge them and reignite the flame, if you will. What I've found, in every circumstance, whether someone is pleased to be challenged or not, is an insight into the emotional makeup of that individual. In this case however, what we found underneath was nothing but the human rot of festering humanity. Frankly, it is times like this I realize both our need for God, as a species, and also wonder where our Creator is in this mess.


    There are two types of writers when it comes to fiction. Those who outline, and those who use the 'discovery' method. Discovery writers do their work organically. Like Stephen King, they refuse to plot ahead, but 'discover' their story instead. Others outline their books rather strictly. Well, I've always been a discovery writer. It's the fun of doing creative work. But the problem with writing fantasy is that it's so complex, in terms of the world you've created and the promises you've made to your reader, that at some point you have to outline. Well, I spent the last four days trying to outline my final four chapters and got nowhere, and I realized that I simply can't outline. I will have to go back, no doubt, to cover my misses in the re-write, but that's okay. I'm a Discovery writer, and there's nothing wrong with that.



PS I've added two weeks to finish my novel. I'm so exhausted these days, I'll need the extra time. J