Hurt people, hurt people.

The title is a statement about what hurt people do to others. Hurt people in turn often hurt other people. So follow along as we stroll through my mind, surprised by what we might find.

I was driving to my AA meeting this morning and as usual I was watching the car behind me to monitor how close it followed me. I get agitated if I am tailgated. I decided I should really just look forward and wondered why I pay so much attention to the cars around me. It struck me that I have always driven this way. I walk this way. I am in a constant state of vigilance.  I wondered how did I get this way. I had sudden recall back to 1966. I was standing in the hallway of my high school. I was supposed to be in class but I had pretended I was going to the toilet so I could stand in the hallway. 

A young black kid approached whom I recognized from another class. I said hello to him. He didn’t say a word but he quickly struck me in my chest and knocked me down. Some change fell out of my shirt pocket. He picked it up and walked away without ever saying a word. I was stunned by the swiftness and the silence of it. I never told the school just as I never told them about the other assaults on me. Importantly, I was not stunned by the violence of it. 

I have tried to remember the number of times I was robbed or assaulted in high school. I can recall only a few. Maybe 20 or so. A lot of it was black on white crime but I had my fair share of white on white, greaser vs Jew assaults. But the assaults started with my dad when I was about 4. It continued in grade school as I was jumped by other kids starting in the second grade. The assaults increased when I lived on the streets. Most didn’t result in much harm. I either escaped quickly, bluffed my way out or won against the attacker(s). I would guess that I could have avoided some of these encounters had I been where I was supposed to be and generally speaking less openly. Like do not hang out on the streets at night, do not go to the go-carts without an adult, and do not walk by the drug store that the Catholic kids have claimed for themselves. Do not talk back when tough kids threaten, don’t mock hoodlums and don’t scoff at threats.

As an adult I faced dozens of violent incidents working with street kids. Kids that I talked with one day could be dead the next, always from gang violence. What is manifestly clear to me is that hurt people, hurt people. Abused children often become abusers, sexual victims especially men, become sexual predators. It probably always has been and probably always will be.

So, is there a way out of this hyper-sensitivity and vigilance which I practice without intention? If my experience is any measure, the answer is no. At best damaged people will find healthy, new ways to cope. They will find mentors and techniques which will serve them well. Or they won’t. And they will suffer addiction, institutions, incarceration or simply have a gnawing sense of insecurity which follows them into everything they do. 

If you have a friend or family member like me I would look for opportunities to introduce them to 12 steps, or meditation or something which has been shown to successfully be a catalyst for change. I am convinced I will have to live with my demons despite every effort to shed them But I am also sure that my demons serve me well at times. I have known danger was imminent when most others were unaware. I have been heard by very damaged humans who could otherwise not hear. I have intervened and helped facilitate change in the lives of persons believed to be beyond reach.

My demons will go anywhere with me. Physically or mentally or spiritually they have staked a claim to a portion of my brain, heart and soul.  Dark alleys or sunlit mountains, they have treaded fearlessly with me. (Along the road of happy destiny)Always protecting and always threatening my well-being.  And it is this awareness that grants me an ability to understand that hurt people, hurt people. 

You want bully. I’ll give you bully.

Talking with my pal Joe Peek this morning about how I really enjoyed intimidating bullies when I was younger, (up until about 6 months ago). When friends or strangers got bullied I liked intervening. My friend Lynda Christmann Nauseda was being messed with when we were young and she was a visitor to the south side of Chicago from the burbs. Somebody figured that made her fair game for hassling. (Always check who is around before you start messing with folks. Never know who is looking out for whom if you do not properly scope the situation.)

He didn’t ever wish to hassle Lynda again. And the thing is, I am smaller than most bullies. Truth, I was never that strong in my teen years. Honestly, I felt scared when I injected myself into situations. But I was compelled to do it. I never really felt it was a choice. It just had to be done. I didn’t need to be big and muscular. All it took to stop most bullies was someone who had the fortitude to step up.
I once intervened with some young military guys playing cards on Amtrak. They were listening to an old drunk former marine spout racist crap. I injected myself from across the railroad car into their conversation and chastised the older marine for his language and cautioned him not to use the word again. The best part was the young guys thanking me later on for what I did. I think once the crowd thins most men will act responsibly. But so many men find it so difficult to oppose the group. They lose themselves in the crowd. Then there are those who are just plain mean. But while they may have a mental affliction which deprives them of empathy for the victim, they will draw strength and encouragement from the crowd. Take away the followers and you begin to suck the life out of the gang mentality.
Where is an anti-bullying program run by ex-bullies? Why do the TV ads use people like movie stars and Shaquille O’Neal? Get me your most macho ex-con. Get me the former bullies. I say, record advertisements about bullying with the guys who know how a bully thinks. Victims making videos about bullying are just reaching other potential victims. That does not influence the bully. Time to get to the bullies. Teach them how to “man up”. Teach them to speak up. Empower them to say or do what goes against the grain, something you would not like saying or doing it and it is not what you would usually say or do.

Want to know who influenced me to do the right thing? Guys who could bully others but didn’t. Scary guys who stood up for those in no position to defend themselves. They taught me what I could do. I role modeled them. Know my favorite anti-bullying technique, not recommended for the weak of heart? Raise the level of intimidation to a higher intensity. I used to reply to bullies with an attitude of, you want aggression, I’ll show you aggression. You want intimidation, let me show you intimidation. Of course I tended to also role modeled my heroes propensity to commit crimes, but that is a story already told. Scroll the Internet and you will see what videos there are which are intended to prevent bullying. http://www.pacer.org/bullying/video/

Bully prevention does not have to be about being nice. It should be about not being mean. It shouldn’t be about helping the kid getting bullied. It should be about how uncool it is to be the bully. I carry a gun because the nice policeman won’t be there when I need him. So, it is nice the policeman will come when called but better yet, I do not want to need the police.
These videos are very sweet and are voiced by lovely young people, behavioral experts and celebrities. Screw that! If you use celebrities, try using Danny Trejo or Esai Morales in a commercial.  or.

That gets my attention. Drive a stake through the vampire’s heart. Shoot the zombie in the head. Then maybe I can retire peacefully from the need to stop the bully. Maybe the next time, his pals stop him dead in his tracks before there is a real victim. Hey, just my humble opinion. Remember, be humble, you may be wrong.

Civil War in the United States

People who despise guns and wish to control access or ban them altogether have no idea what they are embarking on. The war over abortion and other divisive issues will be minor in contrast to the polarization of this country if you attempt to criminalize and further demonize gun owners. If you could succeed which I do not believe you can, you would lose. You would have a country that mirrors Chicago, where gun  specific courts overflow and the homicides rates are extremely high.

I marvel at how little I feel threatened in Dallas. There are areas to avoid but if I need to go there I take protection and I don’t need to get agitated that I am having to be there. I can enter communities which I could never safely enter in Chicago. There is very little graffiti here in contrast to Chicago. Poverty is always a threat to the stability of a community. Violence is always a companion of poverty it seems.

We allow people who have never had a felony convictions, who have not been convicted of a misdemeanor and who have no convictions for family violence, to carry a concealed gun here. They must pass a 10 hour class, take a shooting test and submit fingerprints to the state police. If they meet the requirements the state must issue the concealed carry license.

Blood does not run in the streets. Persons with CCWs do not randomly shoot people. They do not resolve disputes by pulling a gun on someone or shooting someone. They can defend themselves or third-persons from assaults when threatened with great bodily harm. Police officers who pull over a CCW holder, know instantly, more than they would ever know about someone who can only produce a driver’s license. A DL tells an officer that the bearer has a home address, and has passed a driver’s test. It does not speak to criminal history.

This path of criminalizing the possession of firearms will not succeed and what would be worse is if it did. If I could wave off those on this road, I surely would. If you think the people who own firearms are crazy now, wait till someone tries to disarm them.

Sadly, I am one of those who will resist if my government makes such an effort. Know who I am and where I live. It matters not. I wouldn’t be marched to an death camp given what I know about the Holocaust. I will not be disarmed even if it is mandatory and involuntary.And I am one of the nicer ones.

Second in my 2 part series on gun control which first aired on my show years ago.

What follows was directed at the liberals in my audience. I have excerpted tiny parts in past blogs. This is the wellspring from which it sprung, wordy but I hope worthy.

Why is it that in a country where so many of my friends would zealously guard my right of free speech, so few want to preserve my other rights? If the pen is mightier than the sword, then speech is more dangerous than a gun, and worse in the hands of amateurs. One man with a gun can do only so much damage. Then he is apprehended or terminated. Tim McVeigh, the century’s greatest American criminal didn’t even have a gun, but he killed over a hundred people and injured hundreds of others. He paid the ultimate price for his acts. But the people that preached the hate that the McVeighs hear and take to heart, can’t be executed. In fact many of us who would prosecute McVeigh would protect the Nazi criminals that inflamed him, because their weapon is speech. While you despise what they stand for you respect the right of these militant maladjusted mutants to poison the well that these weak minded McVeighs drink from, while paradoxically spurning my right to protect myself from these 3rd Reich rapping rejects.

It has been argued that I can trust my government to protect me when it can’t protect itself. It is argued that our democracy can’t be thwarted by narrow minded bigots intent on the overthrow of a principled democracy. Yet you stammer in protest at the election of right wing, moral majority politicians who would lay waste to Roe VS Wade. While you stand tall for your recently discovered right to abortion, you have no heart to defend my long established right to bear arms.

You need not embrace my rights for yourself. In fact, you are free to not exercise any of your fundamental rights. But I respectfully request that you refrain from actively attempting to usurp my rights. I know you are driven by fear. It is a valid fear of violent assault against your home and family. I am afraid of the same thing! I fear the violence that visits when bad or good people lose their mental or moral compass and strike violently whether intentionally or negligently into my life. It is not only bad people who do bad things, good people under the influence of mental illness, drugs, alcohol, or passion do very bad things too. I know you want to keep the zombies and demons of darkness from descending on your home and family. We share the fear. You would feel better disarming us of firearms, but I would slip into the chaos of paranoia because I think dangerous people are more prevalent than guns.

Bad things have been happening for far longer than guns have been around. Evil has been with us before we even knew how to craft a weapon. You would ask me to trust you that no harm will come to me if I let you take my guns? Then ask yourself if you can protect me. Can you silence the crescendo of hate that has been directed at Jews, Blacks & other minorities? Can free speech prevent the rise of another Hitler? Hitler rose to power via politics. He took over Germany not by force, but by ballot boxes filled with the votes of people who were drawn to a leader who made them feel better about themselves at the cost of their humanity.

Are we Americans so superior spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually and morally to Germans? They build better cars and guns and electronics than we do. They are better educated. They have survived many more years of alterations to their economy, agriculture and infrastructure. Our 200 years of management are infantile and poor compared to the richness and maturity of the European culture. We aren’t smarter or more sound of mind, body and spirit than they, our language no more articulate or our heritage richer. What we have that all of Europe lacks is a constitution, and its accompanying inalienable rights. All these rights are dependent upon each other. Like the nutritional chart which requires contributions from all the food groups to have a healthy body, it takes a foundation of rights to have a healthy democracy. Many European cities have a richness of dialogue through numerous daily newspapers that is not present anymore in most American cities.  England doesn’t trust its citizens despite the intellectual lip service that flows bohemian like from its media. The media can incite fear which may result in suppression of freedom, or exhortations to violence. So you say, a gun in my hand is a danger. I say hate speech is far more dangerous and explosive. The ability to inflame others through speech is a far greater threat to my well being than a crazed criminal with a gun. I am not a caricature or a cartoon. I am a Jew. and we have been run out of every country we ever resided in, and the bigots followed us here, ready and willing to scapegoat us once again for their miseries. Or just as bad, they are ready to convert us in the name of Jesus Christ, invoking powers greater than Hitler or any human hubris. They would strip me of all I have stood for now, 5,772 years, convinced that you can save me by destroying my culture which is rich in intellect and character and a wealth of spirit.

This will be achieved while you work up a good moral superiority. Sorry, I can’t give up my guns. I won’t give up my guns. I won’t be marched to ovens whether they kill with gas or with religious kindness. I respect your rights to proselytize your religion or your hate. I respect your right to believe differently from me and your right to persuade others to your point of view, whether I agree with it or not. But, I ain’t gonna trust you not to misuse your rights, and you are welcome not to trust me to misuse my gun. I will defend to the death your right to speak freely and in exchange, for you to preserve my right to protect my family and home from the criminals and crazies, dope fiends and zealots.I want you to defend my right to defend my life and liberty.