Throwing the Staff Under the Bus – Par for the Course at Applebee’s

Over the last day or two, I’ve been following this story on Yahoo:

If you don’t want to read the whole story, here’s the basic gist: A waitress (Chelsea Welch) from a St. Louis-area Applebee’s posted a picture on Reddit of a receipt from another server’s table where the customer (Alois Bell) scratched out the automatic 18% gratuity added by the computer (there were more than 8 people in the party, which triggers the autotip function on the computer) and wrote “I give God 10%, why do you get 18?” She then wrote “pastor” above her name, and in the place for “additional tip,” she wrote “0.” After the picture of the receipt went viral, the pastor called the restaurant and complained, and Applebee’s fired the waitress who posted the picture.

There is so much wrong with this story, I don’t even know where to begin. First, as a Christian, I am embarrassed by Pastor Bell’s actions. People will use this event to justify saying untrue things like “Religion is the problem, not the solution,” or “Just another hypocritical Christian – they’re all alike.” Indeed, if you look at the comment section under the story on Yahoo and other news sites and blogs that have posted about this story, they are already filled with statements like those above. As Christians, we are called to live Christ-like lives. We all fall short, but we’re supposed to try. We’re supposed to be loving and generous, not snarky and stingy. Additionally, I don’t think this pastor had a very clear concept of how percentages work. God is supposed to get 10% of EVERYTHING YOU EARN. The waitstaff was supposed to get 18% of ONE MEAL. That’s quite a big difference. Just because 18 is the higher number, doesn’t mean the amount received by the waitress is bigger than the amount received by God.

After the photo went viral, a friend of the pastor’s brought it to her attention that her special note was making its way around the internet. The pastor was (rightfully) embarrassed, but rather than owning up to her childish act, she demanded that Ms. Welch be fired. Her remorse was not over her treatment of the wait staff; it was over getting called out for bad behavior. I have seen it reported on a number of blogs that the pastor actually demanded that the whole staff be fired, including management, but I don’t know if that is true or not. Regardless, her initial action and her reaction to the fallout are both appalling.

Perhaps the waitress was wrong to post the receipt online, but I can relate to where she’s coming from. The food service industry is extremely stressful. You are constantly rushing around to get everyone’s food to them in a timely manner. You get hot and sweaty, and go home smelling like fry grease and other unpleasant things. You get burnt (sometimes severely), you slip, run into other people, get hit by doors, yelled at, cursed at, and called names. I have never waited tables, but I work in fast food, and I know how ungrateful people are and how funny they are about food. I worked at the jewelry department in a big box store for awhile and sometimes people would bring back jewelery that they had purchased because it broke. They were usually very nice about it, asking for a refund or to send it off and have it fixed. I’ve also worked in fast food, and people get more upset about a lack of cheese on their sandwich that they paid $5 for than they do over the broken necklace they paid $120 for. It’s a stressful environment, and at the end of the night, you just want to vent to someone about how rude the customers were to you. That’s what Ms. Welch was doing here. She was just venting. No personal information, save for the pastor’s name, was shared on the receipt.

I think Applebee’s overreacted by firing the waitress. IF there is a policy in their handbook about this kind of thing (which the server claims there is not), then a less severe punishment should have been administered. A written warning, maybe, or retraining. But to fire a server because a customer who was in the wrong threw a fit seems like an extreme measure. It also indicates an unhappy, decaying corporate culture that does not value or stand by its employees, who are the face of the company. I am not a big fan of Applebee’s food to begin with and I usually only go there if someone else I’m with picks the restaurant. But I will definitely not be eating there anymore AT ALL after this fiasco.


Breaking News: Virginia Woman Doesn’t Care about Women’s Issues

I have (barely) held my silence about this issue for a few weeks now, but my rage has reached a boiling point and I can contain it no longer. Why in the name of Jesus H. Christ are we talking about birth control when Syria is in the middle of a civil war, Greece is on the verge of financial collapse, our own economy is still in the toilet, we’re in the middle of one of the biggest and most important elections in our history, and Iran is THIS CLOSE to getting nuclear weapons? I think we have bigger issues in this country than who is paying for our birth control.

I’ve been following this obnoxious line of public discourse for a couple of weeks now (vaguely at first, and more intensely after the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke incident), and each week I’ve become a little more outraged. First of all, if you KNOW that a school or company does not share your values, then why would you chose to go there? If the fact that their insurance doesn’t cover birth control is a big deal for you, then go somewhere else. If you need birth control for a medical condition, you can supplement your employer’s insurance with insurance that DOES cover it, or you can get it on the cheap at Planned Parenthood (since that’s what they claim their main business is – supplying health care to under-served women). And why is everyone acting like this is “limiting” access to birth control? No one is saying “You can’t have that.” They’re just saying “You can have it, but we’re not going to pay for it because it goes against something that we strongly believe in.” The government has no right to FORCE someone to pay for something that they believe is wrong. If we just stopped tying employment to insurance, we could solve a lot of these problems.

Second, everyone keeps talking about “women’s rights,” or, to speak more plainly, “abortion.” First, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a “right” to abortion, because it infringes on the right of another human being to live, but putting aside my moral objections to the practice, let’s look at this fairly. If women have a “right” to abortion, or birth control for that matter, then we also have a responsibility to pay for it. I don’t know why we suddenly assume that just because we’ve decided we have a “right” to a good or service means that we don’t have a responsibility to pay for it. We keep saying “keep your laws off my uterus” but the unspoken end of that phrase is “but keep the money, pills, and abortions flowing.” We have a responsibility for everything that we put into our bodies and everything that we DO with our bodies. So how can we expect others to pay for the consequences of our actions? We have a right to free speech, but no one demands that the government pay for us to publish books. Isn’t the government subsidizing our rights with tax dollars in contrast to everything the founders intended? Those rights were enumerated specifically to PROTECT US from the government. If the government is paying for something that is deemed a “right,” isn’t that a precarious situation? Like Jefferson said, “A government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take it all away.”

Smart guy, that Jefferson

Third, there is an enormous amount of hypocrisy in the media over this Limbaugh-Fluke incident, and I find that to be extremely offensive, as both a conservative and a woman. Was Rush Limbaugh wrong to call Sandra Fluke a prostitute? Absolutely. But what really irks me is that Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and even Hilary Clinton were called all sorts of vile names by a number of people in the media, and I heard little to no outcry over that. They definitely didn’t receive an apology phone call from Barack Obama. Believe me, I’m not a big fan of any of those 3 women, but I do believe they have been treated very unfairly by the press. Can we at least PRETEND to be SOMEWHAT outraged when conservative women are mistreated by the media? Where were the feminists when Bill Maher repeatedly called Sarah Palin a cunt? Why are they only outraged when women of their own political leanings are insulted? Are conservative women not worthy of the same respect given to liberal women?

Unless you're conservative, of course. Then eff you.

Fourth, American women seem to be under the delusion that this so-called “right” to abortion is THE most important right that we have and that there is a “war on women” in this country. I’m sorry, but there are women around the world who are never taught to read and who aren’t even allowed to leave their house without a male relative with them. Please don’t act like you are SO OPPRESSED when there are places where it is ILLEGAL for girls to go to school – where you could be killed for trying to get an education. And we’re complaining because we might have to pay for our own birth control? No wonder the rest of the world seems to hate us.

And you think YOU'RE oppressed because you have to pay for birth control?

Finally, there has been a great deal of anger directed at “white men” during this whole debacle. More than usual, I mean. I’m so sick of this cliched political cop-out that I could just vomit. The point of feminism is not to demean men, to speak ill of them, or to put women above men. The goal was to make us equals in the eyes of the government & society. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. Not everything bad in the world stems from this vague, evil group of “white men.” I know a lot of white men. I married one. My dad is a white guy. If I ever have a son, he’ll be a white man. I had a lot of good teachers who were white men, and both of the pastors of my church are white men. I’m quite fond of all these “evil white men,” and I wish the media would get off their nuts. Literally. And can we stop with all the dumb comments about “Where are the laws for just MEN’S health? HUH?? Why aren’t THEY targeted?” I’ll tell you why. Because like it or not, men cannot carry babies. It’s a fact of biology. I know that upsets a lot of women, but you can’t change nature. Getting a prostate exam just isn’t as controversial as vacuuming a dismembered baby from the womb.

So, can we move on now? Can we stop talking about birth control and worry about stuff that really matters? Because the world is kind of falling apart around us, and I think that’s slightly more important that who pays for birth control.

Failing freedom in 2011

Once again, an article I read on Yahoo! has inspired me to write something. I was reading this article about various things that have been banned this year, both in America and abroad. It mentions babies being banned on planes and in restaurants, baggy pants and skinny jeans, too-short cheerleader uniforms, Happy Meals in San Francisco, etc. Three of the items on the list really caught my attention – “happy couples,” “having eyes,” and “brown-bag lunches.”

“Happy couples” referred to a situation in Kentucky where a church voted to ban interracial marriage and bar interracial couples from joining their church. I can’t even believe this type of ignorance is still happening – in a CHURCH, no less. There is no Biblical ban on interracial marriages. Are there Bible verses that could be MISUSED to support this kind of racist decision? Yes. Does this make it right? No. Deuteronomy 7:3 states (addressing the Jews), “You shall not marry them, you shall not give your daughter to their son and you shall not take his daughter for your son.” The “them” referred to in this verse is the gentiles (non-Jewish people). The reason for this was because the gentiles did not worship the same God as the Hebrews. God commanded the Jews to marry only other Jews so that they would not be led to worship false gods by their gentile spouses and families. It was not a RACE issue – it was a CULTURE issue. Another verse that is often misused in this way is 2 Corinthians 6:14, which states, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” This verse says basically the same thing: Do not marry non-believers because they will lead you astray. The part about light and dark communing has nothing to do with skin color. It’s a metaphor for opposite belief systems trying to come together – they cannot exist in the same place at the same time. That a church would treat people this way is unbelievable, and it is most definitely NOT a Christian way to behave. God created people of all colors, and we are all made in his image. For us to show hatred to other people because of their skin color is a sin. The fact that this type of blatant racism is still around in 2011 means that we have not come as far as we thought we had.

“Having eyes” showcases the absolute absurdity that is the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Apparently Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (read: religious police) has decided that women with “nice eyes” need to cover those things up so that the men of Saudi Arabia (who apparently lack ANY kind of self-control) won’t be tempted to think dirty thoughts about women other than their wives. Who defines “nice eyes?” Anyone can have “nice eyes.” Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a picture of a Middle Eastern woman with eyes that WEREN’T nice. They are lovely women, and they continue to be oppressed on a daily basis. The eyes are the only thing left that these women do not have to cover up. They walk around in the oppressive Saudi heat, covered head-to-toe in black head scarves and cloaks so as not to lead any male to stray. The extreme Wahhabi form of Islam that is so popular there is intolerant of anyone who is not a devout Muslim and is extremely oppressive to women. My heart goes out to the women and girls of Saudi Arabia because they are so obviously being abused, both by their government and many times by their families and husbands as well. Why we continue to be allied with a nation that so clearly does not share our values and doesn’t even like us is beyond me.

Finally, “brown-bag lunches” talks about how a school in Chicago now forbids students from bringing a lunch from home. They HAVE to pay the $2.25 for a school lunch, or go hungry. Exceptions are made only for food allergies (and possibly religious reasons. The article doesn’t say this, but I would imagine they would allow a kid to bring halal or kosher food as well). The reasoning behind this decision, according to the principal, is that school lunch is healthier than what the kids bring from home. First of all, why is that the school’s business? Believe it or not, parents have been successfully feeding their children for thousands of years without the benevolent dictatorship of the public school system peering over their shoulder. This is clearly an infringement on the rights of parents to do what they think is best for their child. It is not the schools system’s job to feed my kids. That’s my job. Second, this is not a good move for the kids. Yes, the food MIGHT be healthier than what they bring from home (but not necessarily), but if a child doesn’t like what the cafeteria is serving, they are not going to eat it. A hungry kid does not perform well in school, and that is a scientific fact. It’s hard to focus on a math lesson when your stomach is growling loud enough to drown out the teacher. If I were a parent, I would prefer that I pack a lunch for my kid that I KNOW he or she likes and will eat instead of paying money for food that they might not like and probably won’t eat. This brings us to my third point – buying lunch every day is expensive. The cost of a student lunch in this school is $2.25. Kids generally go to school for 180 days a year. This means that for one child, a family will spend $405 each school year on lunch. If they have 2 kids enrolled in this school, the cost doubles to $810 a year. Many families receive free or reduced lunches, but many families do not qualify for these programs even though they are far from wealthy. This puts a hardship on the families that are not poor enough to qualify for free/reduced lunch, but not wealthy enough to be able to throw away over $400 a year. It’s much cheaper to send leftovers or a sandwich with your kids than to pay for school lunch. This is clearly yet another case of progressive government overstepping its boundaries and intruding on the family in ways that are totally Orwellian and uncalled for.

The trampling of freedom exhibited by these incidents, both here and in other nations, really enrages me. How can man (or woman) flourish under governments, churches, and governmental churches that insist on infringing on the rights given to us by the Creator? What the good Lord giveth, the government taketh away, apparently.

Adulthood, or Something Like It

I still don’t have this whole “being an adult” business figured out. I’m not even sure that I AM an adult. Sometimes I still feel like I’m 16. I mean, plenty of signs point to the fact that I am, in fact, grown. I am almost 25 years old. I can drink, smoke, drive, vote, reserve a hotel room, and rent a beach house (that might might be 26… not sure). I’m married. I live with my husband, 10 hours away from our parents. I’ve graduated from high school and college. I have a real job, kind of. Lots of my friends and people I know from high school and college are getting married and/or having kids. Surely this means I’m a grown-up now?

But other things make me doubt my adultness. I still have (and wear) some of the same clothes I owned in high school. I still watch Disney movies by myself with embarrassing frequency. When someone talks about “a decade ago” or “ten years ago,” I still think of the mid-90s before I think of the early 2000s. I have clear memories of my first day of 9th grade. I am sometimes confused for a dressed up senior in the high schools where I sub. I do things that I know are irresponsible, selfish, and immature, with little or no thought as to the outcome. In addition to all these outward signs that I’m not as grown up as I’m supposed to be, I also have a general nagging feeling that maybe I’m still a little kid playing dress up – a feeling that I still don’t have my shit straight.

I also have a suspicion that I am not the only person from my generation that feels this way. There have been a number of books written and studies done on the “man-child” – surely not a recent societal creation, but one that has definitely gained prominence in the last 10-15 years. They wonder why so many men (boys?) in their 20s and early 30s are opting to opt out of adulthood, choosing instead to work dead-end jobs, play video games, avoid long-term relationships in favor of hook-ups, and other behaviors one would expect to find in 16 year old kids instead of working to become “men” in the ways of previous generations (working good jobs, marrying, having kids, etc).

I don’t know what’s causing this epidemic of immaturity and Peter Pan syndrome among my generation. Maybe it’s the crappy economy forcing many of us to move back home after college, or the way we were raised by our helicopter parents? There has not been as much talk about girls suffering from these same issues, but my friends and I have talked about how strange it is to realize that we’re supposed to be adults now, and how unprepared we feel for such a responsibility. In order to trick myself into thinking I’m more mature or grown up than I really am, I went out and bought some new clothes yesterday – clothes to make me look more like a 25-year-old instead of a high school kid. My general non-work uniform consists of jeans and t-shirts – basically the exact same thing I wore in school, but with the jeans a couple of sizes larger. I’m also planning on getting a more grown-up haircut, because I’ve had the same one (straight, one length, no bangs) since high school as well.

Maybe it’s not that big of a deal. Maybe BEING an adult – fulfilling your responsibilities, working, having a family, etc – is totally different from FEELING like an adult. Maybe they’re not even related. Recently, I talked to my dad about how un-adult I still felt, and asked when I would start feeling like a grown up. He, who had just turned 60 and has worked his whole life to provide for my mom and I, responded with, “I don’t know. I’ll let you know when I get there.”

It Doesn’t Matter What Color Casey Anthony Is

The big news for today is that Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. Now, I haven’t been following this case in depth, but it’s one of those things that you can’t help but hear about. My Facebook News Feed has been blowing up with all kinds of comments about the trial and the verdict since they announced it this afternoon.The consensus among the general American public (aside from the 12 people serving as her jury, apparently) is that Casey Anthony was guilty, and from what I’ve heard about the trial, I’m inclined to agree. Anyway, after I found out about the verdict and whatnot, I decided to check my Twitter*. One of the trending hashtags was #notguilty, unsurprisingly. What WAS surprising to me is that when I clicked on the link for #notguilty, I was treated to tons of tweets about how Casey Anthony was only found not guilty because she’s white. I will copy and paste some of these tweets here for you (with all spelling and grammar mistakes left uncorrected):

DemaniClassic Demani Classic
Would the #caseyanthonyverdict still be #notguilty if she was darker?

doitlike_a_boss J’nae Mackenzie
sooo Casey #notguilty but yet if it was someone black iSwear this case would’ve been too OC . she would’ve been sent to prison

In corparet america if your white your #notguilty

l0wbaby Miss L.O.W.
I wonder how #NotGuilty Casey Anthony woulda been if she was a black woman.

TNiCE252 Terence Warren
Casey Anthony is #NotGuilty But Tiger Woods is hated by millions because he Cheated on his white wife? -____-

TNiCE252 Terence Warren
Casey Anthony is #NotGuilty But Rosa Parks went to jail for sitting at the front of the bus? …..What a fair world we live in -___-

(Mr. Warren – That was over 50 years ago, when America was (shamefully) still segregated. It was nothing to do with anything in the Casey Anthony trial.)

rn1814 ✔Verified® DaBoss
#notguilty for a white women, but would’ve been GUILTY for a black women, I GUARANTEE.

Casey Anthony #NotGuilty but Nelson Mandela went to jail for 30 Years for standing up for his rights

(Mr. Steez – DIFFERENT. EFFING. COUNTRIES. Nelson Mandela lived through apartheid in South Africa. Yes, it’s completely unjust, but it has nothing to do with this trial.)

What shocks me about this is that they took a trial that had NOTHING to do with race and made it into a racial issue AND they seem more concerned about the fact that she was white and got off instead of being concerned about the fact that she KILLED HER CHILD and got off. As if being born white were the bigger crime! How can we as a nation move past the scourge of racism if literally every event in the media is turned into a racial issue, even when it has nothing to do with race? Just something to think about, America.

To round out this post, here are the tweets that I’m inclined to agree with about this whole situation:

Natt_Smiler Natalia Lopez
Casey Anthony found #NotGuilty Of the murder of her 2 year old daughter Caylee, she murdered her child and everybody else know she did.

yASMiN37 Yasmin V ✔Verified®
Now we can move on, I bet you any money someone gunna say kus she white STFU !! NOT everything about if she was black or white #NotGuilty

JBibeliebinyouu вяεε ツ.♥
#NotGuilty? i guess Caylee killed herself, covered her own mouth with duct tape, put herself in a bag, and threw herself in the woods.

Mar4L Ronnie Spangler
Message from Anthony jury to young single mothers: Want to be able to party & have fun, just kill your kid. We will understand. #notguilty

CaLi_Dopeness Quan
Sooo if Casey Anthony is #notguilty shouldn’t she be asking the justice system to find the REAL killer instead of celebrating tears of joy

*Yes, I am guilty of having a Twitter. I got it for my Etsy shop. If the spirit moves you, you can follow me at @SheepsBeads.

Thoughts on Trainspotting, Alice in Chains, and Heroin

I have to start this post with a disclaimer: I have never done heroin, nor do I intend to. I also do not personally know anyone who has ever done heroin (to my knowledge). This post is comprised only of second-hand knowledge gathered from such unreliable sources as Wikipedia. Also, this post contains foul language and disturbing subject matter. You should probably just not read it.

A couple of weeks ago, I read Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. In case you’ve never read or heard of this book, I will give you a brief summary of it here: The story follows a group of young heroin users in Edinburgh, Scotland, and their adventures and misadventures in drug use and petty crime. Some of them get AIDS, some of them witness the death of a baby (probably due to neglect), and some of them just use a lot of heroin. It talks about their withdrawal symptoms, the lengths they go to to salvage some opium suppositories from the grossest toilet in the history of the world, and the feeling of a heroin high. Overall, it’s a pretty depressing book (though it does have a couple of humorous moments), but if you want some insight into the mind of a user, I recommend it. It was also turned into a movie in 1996, which I have never seen (aside from the creepy “baby on the ceiling” hallucination scene), but I found the book on my bookshelf and decided to read it. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to get drawn into the books I’m reading (which is why I don’t read very much fiction) and books that center around a disturbing topic (like heroin use) really get to me. I walked around at work all week depressed & suppressing the urge to speak in a near-incomprehensible Scottish accent, complete with ridiculous Scottish slang. I also kept thinking about heroin use (not as it applies to me, obviously, but just in general). I knew very little about it, since, like I said, I’ve never done it and I don’t know anyone that’s done it. All I knew was that it is injected, you can get the HIV from sharing needles, it’s killed a lot of good musicians, and it’s bad (mmkay?). So, I went to the world’s most reliable source for information on everything: Wikipedia. As I was perusing Wiki for answers to my heroin-related questions, my iTunes (in its creepily-sentient manner ) decided to play “Junkhead” by Alice in Chains, which I have posted for you here (unfortunately no one on YouTube has a version of this song that doesn’t skip):

Alice in Chains is one of my all-time favorite bands (despite my ill-fated concert adventure ), and I remember hearing about Layne Staley’s death back in 2002 when I was 15 or 16. All accounts of the incident stated that he ODed on a speedball (heroin-cocaine combo), which was really not all that shocking, given his history of drug use & addiction. What was somewhat shocking (to me, anyway) was that he had apparently holed himself up in his condo for 3 days straight and did nothing but shoot up almost continuously. According to the other members of the band & and Layne’s family members, he would go days or weeks at a time and not talk to or see anyone, so perhaps this wasn’t a surprise for those who knew him. Everyone who listens to Alice in Chains knows that they used heroin – hell, they named an album after it. Layne particularly struggled with this addiction, and as his life progressed, he seemed to rely more and more on the skag to get him through the day. His fiance died of drug-related problems, and I’m sure that this, ironically enough, fueled his own addiction to the drug that took her away from him. This reminds me very much of the scene in Trainspotting where they discover baby Dawn dead in her crib. Dawn’s tearful mother, Lesley, deals with the situation by asking Mark Renton (the main character) to cook her a shot of heroin. The very drug that caused her to neglect her child to the point of death is the very thing she turns to for comfort after finding the baby’s body. I actually noticed one major parallel between Trainspotting & “Junkhead” – the attitude held by the junkie that “outsiders” or non-users don’t understand the lifestyle or the reasoning behind using drugs, and the resentment felt by users when society tries to “fix” them. In Trainspotting, Renton talks about how society can’t stand to have people who don’t want the typical milestones of life (a job, a car, a home, a family, etc), so they work to try and fit them back into the mold with rehab and government services aimed at getting them jobs & getting them off the smack. Compare that sentiment with Layne Staley’s lyrics in “Junkhead:” First he says, “Seems so sick to the hypocrite norm, Running their boring drills, But we are an elite race of our own, The stoners, junkies, and freaks,” and then “You can’t understand a user’s mind, But try, with your books and degrees. If you let yourself go and opened your mind, I’ll bet you’d be doing like me, And it ain’t so bad.” Clearly, “Junkhead” was written in that very short period of time where heroin was having a “positive” effect on Layne. He tried to get clean a few times, but always to no avail. In a 1996 interview with Rolling Stone, he said “Drugs worked for me for years, and now they’re turning against me, now I’m walking through hell.” By 2002, it was clear to him that he was nearing the end of his life. In an interview that year, he said, “I’m not using drugs to get high like many people think. I know I made a big mistake when I started using this shit. It’s a very difficult thing to explain. My liver is not functioning, and I’m throwing up all the time and shitting my pants. The pain is more than you can handle. It’s the worst pain in the world. Dope sick hurts the entire body.” In Trainspotting, several of the characters try to kick the habit on and off, but they almost always relapse because the withdrawal is so intense. Renton often describes the feeling by saying that his skin was crawling and his bones felt like they were grinding together. While none of the characters in Trainspotting die from an overdose, they do suffer some pretty terrible consequences from using. Johnny Swan loses a leg, several characters end up with HIV or AIDS, and all the male characters, with the exception of Sick Boy, have sexual problems related to heroin use at some point in the novel. They are all pale, covered in scabs & abscesses, and generally unhealthy. None of them get to the point where Layne Staley was when he died, but it seems that they are in the minority there. From what I can tell, most people don’t make it out of a heroin addiction alive. Despite the fact that the book ends a little happier for Renton than real life does for Layne, I think that “Junkhead” could be the theme song for Trainspotting.

Summation & final point? Heroin is probably a bad idea.

Slaughtered by the Internet

I will warn you: This post is long. It also contains topics that some (most?) will find disturbing. There is some language, references to videos, & subject matter that is not suitable for some readers. Proceed with caution.

Okay, so by now, I’m sure you have probably heard the tale of Jessi Slaughter, but in case you haven’t, I will give you a brief overview here. A rumor starts on the teen gossip website StickyDrama that an 11-year-old girl who goes by the name Jessi Slaughter is rumored to be in a relationship with the leader singer (Dahvie Vanity) from a scene band called Blood on the Dance Floor. Jessi posts a video on YouTube entitled “Haters, Piercings, Stickydrama” to address these rumors, but in it she uses more profanity than most sailors, tells her “haters” that she’s going to put a Glock in their mouth & make a brain slushie, tells everyone that she is better than them because she has more fans, more friends, is prettier, etc, and generally says every inappropriate thing imaginable. Someone finds this video and posts it on the infamous /b/ board on 4chan, where the trolls & Anons research her to find out her real last name, her phone number, & her address. They then begin prank calling her house, sending her family death threats, & ordering pizzas, strippers, & police to be sent to her house. In response to this, Jessi posts yet another video, in which her father (who clearly doesn’t use the internet much) tells the harassers that “they dun goofed up” because knows who’s doing it because he “backtraced it”, and has reported them to the “cyber police” & the state police. Jessi & her family are now under police protection because of this situation.

Now I want you to Google these videos (“haters, piercings, stickydrama” and “you dun goofed”) & watch them. Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Back? Great. Let’s continue. I need to add a few details to this story that you don’t get from watching the videos. First, Jessi had at least one semi-nude photo of herself on the web (remember – she’s ELEVEN) and several others that showed her in some fairly suggestive poses. Second, before she deleted all of her online accounts, her Tumblr had very graphic descriptions of her sexual exploits with her girlfriend (ELEVEN!!!). I would like to directly address Ms. Jessi here, because I was just so disturbed by these videos & this whole story in general that I feel I need to say something to her.

Dear Jessi,
I would first like to let you know that I am only writing this because I am deeply concerned about you and your future. I am not writing it because I hate you or because I think I’m better than you. I’m writing it because I think I see you for what you really are: A misguided, attention-starved little girl who desperately needs help. You clearly have been provided with no guidance or supervision in real life or on the internet. There are a few points I want to address with you, and I hope you’ll take these into consideration.
1) YOU ARE ELEVEN YEARS OLD. Most 11-year-olds play video games, play outside, play with Barbies, & have sleepovers with their friends where they watch movies (PG or G only!), paint their nails, and talk about which boys in their class they think are cute. Maybe you should give this a try, instead of spending all your time on the internet talking to creepy people who are much older than you.
2) My husband is in the Army, and you use more profanity than him & his closest 5 friends COMBINED. Lay off the language, kiddo. It doesn’t make you look cool – it makes you look desperate for attention.
3) Have you ever shot a Glock? Have you ever shot any kind of gun at all? My guess here is going to be “no” because if you had, you would know that guns create something called “recoil,” and the recoil from a Glock would knock you on your skinny butt faster than you can say “cyberpolice.” Saying something like, “I’ll pop a Glock in your mouth and make a brain slushie,” sounds way cooler than going to jail for first-degree murder really is. What’s that? You say you didn’t really mean it? Doesn’t matter. You made a threat, and that is also against the law.
4) You are never going to be able to find a respectable job. People are going to Google your name when you’re 25 & just out of college looking for work, and these are the videos they’re going to find. Because your real last name got attached to these videos, it won’t matter that you’re not really Jessi “Slaughter.” You are probably going to have to hire one of those companies that fixes your Google search results to get rid of all the bad stuff, and who knows if they’ll really be successful at eliminating all traces of this incident.
5) I looked up the lyrics to some Blood on the Dance Floor songs. Wow. Not only is it the most sexually explicit garbage I’ve ever heard, it’s just bad music all around. I know that since you consider yourself “scene” you won’t listen to any genre of music that doesn’t end in “-core” so might I suggest some genres for you? I recommend “classic rock-core,” “oldies-core,” maybe a little “country-core,” and I think probably what you REALLY need is some “Christ-core.” At the very least, get some Led Zeppelin – at least their sexual innuendos were KIND OF subtle.
6) On your Tumblr, you posted some pretty graphic stuff about you and your “girlfriend.” A) As we’ve already established, YOU’RE ELEVEN. How can you possibly know your sexual orientation? Aren’t you too busy being worried about boys having cooties to even think about getting into someone’s pants, regardless of gender? B) No 11 year old should know about the things you described on your Tumblr. It is wildly inappropriate for you to be talking about that kind of stuff, let alone be involved in it. I don’t know if it’s something you made up for attention or if it’s real, but if it’s legit, you need to stop it.
7) You are rumored to have been in a relationship with Dahvie Vanity. Again, I don’t know if it’s real or made-up, but if it is real, it needs to stop, and here’s why: A) At one point, someone said to you “I bet you don’t even have your period yet,” to which you responded, “No, I don’t, which means I can **** my boyfriend anytime I want.” If you don’t have your period yet, you are not physically ready for sex. You cannot have children until you get your period. Since the natural & expected end result of sex is babies, a lack of menstruation means that you are not sexually mature yet. In other words, your body is unprepared to have sex. You are not developed enough yet. I don’t know if anyone has ever explained to you how these things work, but my guess is that they haven’t. B) Whether you can make babies yet or not, you can still catch diseases. These diseases, if left untreated, can evolve into much more serious and deadly conditions. Syphilis can literally cause you to go insane, because the virus infects your brain. HPV can cause cervical cancer. Obviously, everyone knows you die from AIDS (clearly you know this much, as evidenced by your video). If you do in fact have any of these diseases, most doctors are not going to think to check you for them because of your extremely young age. They could go untreated for years, and by that time you could have infected thousands of other people (either directly or indirectly) or you could be dead from AIDS. How does that sound? C) Dahvie Vanity is older than you… significantly older than you, if I’m not mistaken. In fact, he’s a legal adult who is over twice your age. Every state has laws that declare it illegal to have sex with someone who has not reached the age of consent. In Florida (your home state), the age of consent is 18 years of age – 16 or 17 if the two people involved are close in age. Note that all 3 of these ages are older than 11, which means that no one can legally have sex with you. It is a felony for someone to have sex with people your age because you are still a child. You are not physically, mentally, or emotionally developed enough to handle sex or its consequences. D) There is a word to describe the people who want to have sex with you – pedophiles. It does not matter their age, their physical condition, or their gender. If they want to get into an 11-year-old’s pants, they are a pedophile, and they are mentally ill people who need to be locked away (castrated? tarred & feathered? thrown into a tank of hungry sharks?) to protect the children in the areas where they live. By posting suggestive photos of yourself, you are only encouraging these monsters. Children are not supposed to be viewed in a sexual manner, and children who intentionally try to publicly portray themselves sexually need help too. E) You posted suggestive photos of yourself. I don’t know if there were any that actually showed things that should be covered by a bikini (and I don’t WANT to know), but if there were, you can be prosecuted for posting child pornography. It doesn’t matter that you posted the photos – it’s still child pornography and it is sick & illegal.
Please get some help for yourself. Stay off the computer, make some better friends. Stop hanging around with scene kids, and stop listening to bad music.
A concerned Sheep

Now that I have that out of the way, I would like to direct your attention to this article . It discusses the Jessi Slaughter situation & then states that the internet needs to be censored by the government to prevent things like this from happening (this article is from Australia, by the way). I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree wholeheartedly with this idea. Maybe this is just my silly Libertarian/classic liberal American way of thinking, but the government does not need to protect people from the interwebs. Does it need to prosecute people who do things like post and/or download child pornography? Yes. Does it need to censor everyone’s contact information and freedom of speech? No. What Jessi needed was not government intervention – it was parental supervision. Clearly, this child had none of that. She wore suggestive clothing that was too old for her, she listened to outrageously sexual music, hung out with people that were much older than her, cursed enough to make a sailor blush, and showed no signs of ever having been disciplined in her whole life. If her parents had been more involved in her life, both on and off the internet, this whole thing could have been avoided. Are the /b/tards completely innocent in this situation? Absolutely not. And before someone accuses me of “blaming the rape on the victim” here, let me say this: People are going to be jerks on the internet – it’s the nature of the beast, and we can’t change that. Anonymity is an important part of the internet, not just for ugly trolls to hide behind, but for regular people (like your woolly correspondent) to protect their privacy while online. If Jessi had not posted all of these unseemly videos & photos of herself, she never would have been targeted. And if she had not posted her phone number, address, and other personal info online, the harassment would not have gotten to the level that it did. YouTube and Facebook both state in their terms of use that no one under the age of 13 is allowed to have an account. Since Jessi is 11, she should not have had accounts in either of these places. Most other online social networking sites also require you to be at least 13. If her parents had been supervising her internet use, all of this could have been avoided. Parental controls make it easy to what your child can and cannot see online, and sweet Joseph & Mary, why does an 11 year old need a webcam?! Despite all that has happened surrounding her daughter’s videos on the internet, Jessi’s mother still claims to have never watched any of them. She is either totally ignorant of her daughter’s activities & genuinely believes her to be an innocent victim in this situation, or she is lying her face off to avoid legal consequences that may stem from this debacle, including child neglect, child endangerment, and (potentially, depending on whether or not Jessi posted nude photos of herself) possession of child pornography. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I hope the whole situation ends very soon for this family and that the experience will act as a wake-up call to all parties involved. Hopefully her parents will pay more attention to her daily activities, and hopefully she will learn that not all publicity is good publicity, despite what Hollywood (and Jessi herself) says.

This whole Jessi Slaughter fiasco contains a number of lessons, and some pretty tragic insight into American culture (or lack thereof?). It has taught us not to post personal information on the web. It has taught parents to monitor their children, both in real life and on the internet. It has taught young girls to act their age, and to consider the consequences (long & short term) of their actions, and it has taught people not to respond to trolls, as it only encourages them. Cultural insights: American music really is getting worse. Kids really are getting worse. Parents really are getting worse. 4chan really is getting worse. It’s not your imagination: we really are in a decline – the Pax Americana, if you want to call it that. If we don’t do something to change our culture, situations like this are going to become more and more common, complete with a crappy soundtrack.