The Different Drummer

By Carl J. Petersen

Politics, Family, Music and other Musings.

Firing In A Crowded Theater

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sadly, the death of two people last week in a shooting at a Louisiana movie theater will not do anything to start a meaningful dialog about gun control in our country. If the 13 people in Binghamton, 13 people in Ft. Hood, three people in Huntsville, eight people in Manchester, six people in Tucson, eight people in Seal Beach, seven people in Oakland, 12 people in Aurora, six people in Oak Creek, six people in Minneapolis, three people in Brookfield, 27 people in Newtown, five people in Santa Monica, 13 people in Washington, D. C., three people in Ft. Hood, seven people in Isla Vista and nine people in Charleston were not enough to spark a discussion about who has access to guns, why should another two lives matter to our politicians? When Obama initially ran for president, the NRA warned that we have never “faced a presidential candidate...with such a deep-rooted hatred of firearm freedoms,” but as President, Obama has only expanded the rights of gun owners. And the carnage continues…

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Trump Card

Stereotype: “A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”

-Oxford Dictionaries

Under President Obama, there have been a record number of deportations. He has also employed the largest amount of border patrol agents. These have combined with other factors to drive a zero percent migration rate from Mexico, a trend that some expect to continue into the future. However, none of this is good enough for the xenophobic wing of the Republican party who still see the value of a good  scapegoat - especially one without the power to vote. According to this point of view, we should ignore the hard working people in search of a better life whose labor is exploited by American businessman and instead claim that “they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bring those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

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Voices Carry

 

It is hard enough to get Americans to fulfill their obligation of voting in elections. In one poll four percent of the respondents would not even take the step of registering to vote because they felt that their “vote wouldn’t make a difference.” Even less of our fellow citizens take a more active role in the democratic process under the assumption that their voice is too small to be heard. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges could not have happened without the grassroots activism that had taken place 28 years ago.

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Building A Room With My Dad

Becca and JessieThrough my childhood, my Dad and I were not particularly close. In a lot of ways the experience of his childhood haunted him and he did everything possible to make sure that mine would be different. In doing so, he left his own minefields for me to negotiate.

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The Hidden Children

Nicole_and_the_Triplets.jpgNicole eased me into the challenges of her family during our first online conversation. First, she casually worked in the fact that she had triplets. When that did not chase me away she mentioned in passing that two of them were on the autism spectrum and waited to see if I would find a way to end the conversation. It did not end and six years ago I married the woman of my dreams. I was now a father of five.

Prior to meeting my daughters, only one child had been introduced to me as being on the autism spectrum. According to the Center for Disease Control autism now affects 1 in 68 children. With such a high rate of occurrence, how is it possible that I had only previously met one child with this disability? Part of the answer is ignorance; without knowledge of what autism is, I probably met a lot more people with this disability and did not realize it. Additional explanation is provided by the fact that included in the statistics are highly functioning individuals who do not present their symptoms in a casual encounter. Unfortunately, the final part of the answer is that many of these children are simply hidden from view.

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Six Little Victories (and One Big One)

In George Carlin’s routine, he says that a house is just a place to keep your “Stuff.” “If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time. Then you go vacation and have to come up with a smaller version of your house that fits into a couple of suitcases. Last weekend my family did just that. We packed enough of our stuff to fit into two cars and headed towards Lake Tahoe.

When you travel with seven people spanning three generations, some of the stuff you inadvertently pack is the baggage of interpersonal conflicts. No one knows how to push your buttons like family and there is little room for escape when you are together for a week straight. As a kid, the time was three times as long as we took marathon driving trips across the country. It is against all odds that someone was not left purposefully behind somewhere around North Dakota.

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