Stupid Criminals and the Tramp Stamp

Stupid Criminals

Many of my students have had trouble dealing with authority figures. I would often try to teach them effective ways of dealing with authority to avoid going to jail. [See: Punked Out To Authority] People go to jail for many reasons. I always acknowledge that there are unfair laws, unfair applications of the law, racism, bad cops and just plain bad days. I do also admit that the world does contain some very bad people who commit very bad crimes and they deserve our enmity and (for the protection of others) jail. Then I make my students aware of something that surprises many of them. There is a large segment of the prison population that aren’t just criminals; like many of my students (and some of my relatives) they are are stupid criminals. These are some of their stories.

Jailbird Brothers

My brothers liked to laugh at me. Whenever we would talk about police, they would drag up the following story. We had just left a Jethro Tull concert at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.

Read moreStupid Criminals and the Tramp Stamp

My Neighbor’s Gun – A Gun Death

True Story of A Gun Death

Antonio shot and killed himself early in the morning, right outside my kitchen window. I didn’t see it. I heard it, and ran to the window to see what was going on. Antonio was lying face down, bleeding and vomiting into the cement pond. I ran out to see if I could be of any help. And, to be honest, I wanted to make sure the shooting was over.

Antonio was twitching, but it didn’t look like the twitching of life. I moved the gun, a .38 revolver, using my house key. I didn’t want him to suddenly grab the gun and start shooting even though I considered it unlikely. Then I grabbed a wrist that wasn’t bloody and found no pulse.

Other neighbors began to cautiously peer out of their apartments asking, “What happened?” I shouted, “Call 911 there’s been a shooting.” Then I ran into my apartment and called 911 myself. I told them I believed Antonio was dead but to send paramedics anyway, and that the shooting was over. The sheriffs didn’t take my word for it. They didn’t send in SWAT but they did have the paramedics wait until the detectives cleared the scene as safe (except for the biohazard bleeding into the cement pond).

What to do? Responsibility, Repression or Status Quo?

Antonio lived in the apartment next to mine for the last two decades.

Read moreMy Neighbor’s Gun – A Gun Death

Sex Abuse 105: How Hollywood Romances Teach Sex Abuse

Hollywood Romance Movies Actually Teach Sex Abuse!

What do Al Pacino, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Sean Connery, Kristin Scott Thomas, Arthur Godfrey (and too many others to list here) have in common? They’ve all made movies or records which show some sort of sex abuse and/or violence as the path to romantic love.

Sex abuse scandals are in the news daily. There is plenty of outrage but still no one is talking about how to effectively end sex abuse (or at least keep it from being so ubiquitous) other than simply telling the abused to ‘speak up’ (a worthwhile strategy, but limited). No one is asking the right questions. Those who are outraged continually act as if any behavior that they think constitutes sex abuse is obvious, has always been obvious, and everyone knows it’s obvious. Well folks, here on Planet Reality, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

Read moreSex Abuse 105: How Hollywood Romances Teach Sex Abuse

Sex Abuse 104: The Chimpanzee Lecture

Sex Abuse and The Chimpanzee Lecture

This lesson/lecture is amazingly effective at getting students (as well as adults) to reflect on how they respond to social/sexual interactions and how biology plays a hand in sex abuse. It is culled from a wide variety of readings but you can find most of these ideas in two books: The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (1991); [and even more importantly]: Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1997). Both by Jared Diamond the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel.

This post is part 4 of a 5 part series on sex abuse education and what I try to teach my students. Part 1 is about Mixed Messages. Part 2 is about my personal experience with sex abuse in Hollywood. In Part 3 I examined a common misunderstanding of the law (Attractive Nuisance), empathy and social norms. Part 4 (The Chimpanzee Lecture) is my biology teacher’s reason for not being surprised at the misunderstandings or power plays that lead to sex abuse. I have used this lesson in my classroom when teaching about sexual relations. Part 5 is about how Hollywood ‘romantic movies’ actually teach men to abuse women in order to be loved.

This is not about blaming or excusing anyone.

This is not about declaring any one gender or opinion right (i.e. I’m not trying to say that the girls should learn to act or feel like guys or vice versa). It’s about understanding the biological differences in what we feel and what needs to be taught to everyone. This is not intended for those broken souls who are incapable of learning. There will always be those humans who are so crazy, or so convinced that the way they see the world is the way everyone else does or should, that they are not bound by any social norms. But we’ve got to start somewhere and these are things which need to be taught.

As I said before: I do have my own experiences and a few suggestions which I offer here. Make of this what you will. I believe that if we don’t share as much information as possible we won’t ask the right questions; and if we don’t ask the right questions we won’t arrive at the right answers. So I offer these experiences (which I also discuss with my students in the classroom) as additional information in our mutual quest to teach everyone to treat others with dignity and respect.

What got me started on teaching this lesson.

I started developing this lesson after trying and failing to get our girls to think about how they were dressing. It got so bad [see Naive Sophistication] that, one day, in frustration, a female administrator came over the school PA system and said, “You girls have got to start covering up. This ain’t no barbecue and we don’t need the meat!” I used The Chimpanzee Lecture in my life skills classes, my financial planning classes, and any time a student asked a personal/social/sexual question in which I thought this lesson would be helpful.

I always give the following warning to my students. This warning concluded my last post (Attractive Nuisance): we ignore biology at our peril. Having equal rights socially does not mean we have the same goals biologically.

I quoted Rosalind Wiseman from her excellent book The Guide:

Girls are “…trying to achieve the impossibleby pleasing both girls and straight guys,
two groups with competing agendas.”

So what does biology teach us about what those competing agendas really are?

Read moreSex Abuse 104: The Chimpanzee Lecture

Sex Abuse 103: Attractive Nuisance

Sex Abuse and Misunderstanding the Law

This post is part 3 of a 5 part series on sex abuse education and what I try to teach my students. Part 1 is about Mixed Messages. Part 2 is about my personal experience with sex abuse in Hollywood. Here in Part 3 I’ll examine a common misunderstanding of the law (Attractive Nuisance), empathy and social norms. I have used it in my classroom when teaching about sexual relations. Part 4 is my biology teacher’s reason for not being surprised at what happened (Part 4: The Chimpanzee Lecture).

This is not about blaming or excusing anyone. It’s about understanding what needs to be taught to everyone. This is not intended for those broken souls who are incapable of learning. There will always be those humans who are so crazy, or so convinced that the way they see the world is the way everyone else does or should, that they are not bound by any social norms. But we’ve got to start somewhere and these are things which need to be taught.

As I said before: I do have my own experiences and a few suggestions which I offer here. Make of this what you will. I believe that if we don’t share as much information as possible we won’t ask the right questions; and if we don’t ask the right questions we won’t arrive at the right answers. So I offer these experiences (which I also discuss with my students in the classroom) as additional information in our mutual quest to teach everyone to treat others with dignity and respect.

Don’t “SHOULD” on me!

The psychologist Dr. Pat Allen warns against use of the word ‘should’ and I also want to warn you. So when I use the word ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ in the following paragraphs, read it as if it was capitalized, bolded, italicized, and in quotation marks – meaning, beware of this word and your thinking.

I’ve heard males say, “Why do girls (women) wear provocative (tight, short, low cut etc.) clothing if they don’t want to attract attention? Girls shouldn’t dress that way. They’re just asking for it.” Girls will say, “We should be able to dress however we want.” The boys are demonstrating a lack of understanding of the law and good manners. They are corrupting the concept of attractive nuisance. Girls are ignoring biology. Let me explain…

Attractive Nuisance or Girls shouldn’t dress that way.

Read moreSex Abuse 103: Attractive Nuisance

Sex Abuse 102: My Hollywood Experience

Sex Abuse

This post is part 2 of a 5 part series on sex abuse education and what I try to teach my students. Part 1 is about Mixed Messages. This post (Part 2) is about my personal experience with sex abuse in Hollywood. I have used it in my classroom when teaching about sexual relations. I think it shows a common misunderstanding of the law (details in Part 3: Attractive Nuisance) and a biology teacher’s reason for not being surprised at what happened (Part 4: The Chimpanzee Lecture).

This is not about blaming or excusing anyone. It’s about understanding what needs to be taught to everyone. As I said before: I do have my own experiences and a few suggestions which I offer here. Make of this what you will. I believe that if we don’t share as much information as possible we won’t ask the right questions; and if we don’t ask the right questions we won’t arrive at the right answers. So I offer these experiences (which I also discuss with my students in the class room) as additional information in our mutual quest to teach those around us to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Not a Hollywood Sex Scandal Yet…

Early in my West Coast musical career I was living with a beautiful, talented singer named Laura. To give you an idea of how beautiful and talented Laura was, think of Jennifer Lopez in the movie Selena. One day I was returning from a rehearsal and I found Laura crying her eyes out on our living room couch. I asked what was wrong and between sobs she told me.

Read moreSex Abuse 102: My Hollywood Experience

Sex Abuse 101: Mixed Messages

Sex Abuse is in the news again.

Sex abuse is in the news again. We’ve heard very disturbing accounts from the accusers. We’ve heard strident denials from the ‘alleged’ offenders. And we’ve heard outrage from pundits and politicians. But we haven’t heard (much, if anything at all) from those parents and teachers, like me, who are trying to teach appropriate conduct, particularly as it pertains to sex, romance, and preserving each other’s dignity.

I don’t have any clear cut answers. I do have some guiding questions, and I do have my own experiences which I offer here. Make of this what you will. I believe that if we don’t share as much information as possible we won’t ask the right questions; and if we don’t ask the right questions we won’t arrive at the right answers. So I offer these experiences as additional information in our mutual quest to teach those around us to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

So what did I try to teach?

Read moreSex Abuse 101: Mixed Messages

My Trashy Girlfriend: A Lesson on Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll

My Trashy Girlfriend

I always believed that working at occupations other than teaching before I became a teacher was very beneficial. Doing other jobs helped me keep the joys, the challenges, and the frustrations of teaching in a manageable perspective. Those other jobs also gave me a rich background of examples to make my lessons more real and relatable. I’d recommend that all teachers get experience at things other than teaching before entering the field.

I’d done it all: bus boy; service station attendant; cab driver; construction laborer (a member of the Hod Carriers Union) and more and through all of it – professional musician. It was as a musician I learned something I later turned into life lessons for my kids. I learned that no matter how much you love your woman, when she gets banned from the biker bar where you are working you have to face it, “You’ve got a trashy girlfriend!”

Read moreMy Trashy Girlfriend: A Lesson on Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll

HealthCare Reform: How Democrats and the Mainstream Media Can Make It Happen

Improve the messaging.

Why is quality healthcare for all Americans so hard to achieve? Greed, ignorance, and bad messaging. It’s big business, their leaders and their impact on politics that demonstrate the worst aspects of greed. It’s too many Americans who are woefully ignorant of how to reason with facts. And it’s Democrats and the mainstream media who are doing the terrible job of messaging.

The greed of corporations and too many individuals is beyond dispute. Trying to simply legislate greed out of existence is foolish. We can pass some legislation to temper greed but I recommend changing the incentives for greed [read Freakonomics, Levitt & Dubner], more on this later.

After greed, it’s ignorance that is holding healthcare reform back. Too many reports and interviews rely on numbers and impersonal logic. ‘Ten million without healthcare,’ doesn’t compute to the working class as well as ‘Your son can’t get treatment for a life threatening illness,’ does. [Go back and review your Marshall McLuhan.] Here’s what I mean:

Labels:

I’m going to use a few socio economic and political labels in this essay so it’s important to label myself first. I grew up working-class on the Southside of Chicago. I’m the only one in my family who has graduated from college (University of Illinois). I have taught the disadvantaged and at risk here in Los Angeles, California (LAUSD) for over 25 years. I’ve traveled the world and hung in the hood. I consider myself liberal in my views.

Stop calling Obama “Black” and Don’t call the ACA “Obamacare”

Read moreHealthCare Reform: How Democrats and the Mainstream Media Can Make It Happen

Homework Cure: Change the System

The Real Value of Homework

There is a debate about the value of homework. The debate rages in school districts, states, faculty meetings and homes. There are parents who insist on homework and there are parents who feel homework is an unnecessary intrusion in their child’s life. There is no one solution. I recommend flexibility in the classroom and curriculum. What do we do if we are unsure of the value of homework? The following are some (not all) ideas to guide your thinking. If you want to change the system examine your cherished beliefs and promote flexibility in the classroom.

Question cherished beliefs like ‘School should be fun’.

Read moreHomework Cure: Change the System

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