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I found this article through STFU, Parents that tells about a mother of five who is pursuing a master’s degree and brought her infant with her the first day of class, only to be told that bringing infants to class was against college policy. “I just didn’t even think it would be a problem,” she said–so imagine her shock when it was.

The STFU, Parents lady (whose name I forget) pointed out that the mom in question was a BYU graduate, “so that explains a lot.” Ha ha, yes. Yes, it does. Even so, this mom said that back at the BYU, there were “occasionally” children in class. She didn’t say children were a regular feature of BYU classrooms, and yet she showed up her first day of class with an infant and all her baby gear in tow, not because of any childcare emergency, but because she just “didn’t even think it would be a problem,” implying that she was just intending to bring her infant to class every time–presumably because she’s breastfeeding, and that would be more convenient (for her). (And the baby, of course.)

I have mixed feelings about this because on the one hand, it’s nice when people accommodate mothers, particularly breastfeeding mothers. It’s nice when women are able to get some work done along with caring for their infants, who don’t always need intense, one-on-one attention. I learned how to do a lot of things one-handed (including diaper changes) when Mister Bubby was an infant because the little dude always had to be held. I had to hold him always. I call him the “little dude” because “little bastard” seems a little harsh, at least in retrospect. At the time he was pretty much ruining my life. Well, anyway–point being, he was happy (i.e., quiet) as long as he was being held, so in theory I could have gone to a college class and taken notes (I only write with one hand anyway) while holding him. I can see why maybe a mom would think it would work to take a baby to class, especially if the baby in question were one of those “easy” babies I’ve heard so much about. It’s nice when people see babies and children as just part of normal life–rather than the part of life that has to be walled off from all the other parts of life. Say what you will about Sarah Palin (for example), but I loved seeing pictures of her carrying her baby in a sling whilst carrying on the business of being governor. (I often wonder what might have happened in an alternate universe where Sarah Palin remained governor of Alaska and John McCain just picked some random white dude to be his running mate. But that’s getting off the subject.)

So there’s that, on the one hand. On the other hand, I’m hip to the fact that there are some places babies just don’t belong. I’ve never been one of those people who gets upset when folks have adults-only events, for example. (I don’t mean “adults-only” like an orgy or something, but every time I write or say “adults-only,” I feel like I have to clarify that I only mean that just adults are welcome.) Frankly, I have always been the type to prefer adults-only events to bring-the-whole-family events because so often bring-the-whole-family events turn into manage-your-kids-in-a-novel-environment-until-finally-it’s-time-to-go-home-THANK-GOD events. When I couldn’t get a babysitter (which was often), my attitude was “doesn’t it suck that I can’t get a babysitter,” not “doesn’t it suck that people won’t let me bring my kids.” When given the choice, I always opt not to bring my kids. We’re all happier that way.

In general, I think people could stand to be more patient with kids, and also with parents of kids, because kids happen and that’s life. I don’t think people are entitled to a child-free environment at all times. If you want to live in society, you should be willing to put up with some babies and kids, even the ill-behaved ones, because we all start out as kids, some of us were ill-behaved, and most of us grow out of it but not until we learn to behave better (or just get older). Parents shouldn’t be expected to keep their kids at home until they are perfect. Not only is it unrealistic, it wouldn’t result in raising good, productive citizens. Kids need to be out in the world and exposed to different situations, and the rest of us just need to suck it up and deal with some occasional crying, whining, or other disruption.

HOWEVER, parents do need to be considerate of other people’s needs. There are situations where bringing your child(ren)–who are apt to cause some disruption–is just plain rude. Sometimes people bring their babies to movie theaters, which I guess I don’t have a problem with provided the baby sleeps the whole time. (I do wonder about the effects of the Dolby Surroundsound on their little ears–movie theaters can be loud.) I myself would never have dared to bring an infant to a movie theater because a) there was no freaking way a baby of mine would sleep the whole time and b) assuming I did have a baby who slept all the time, it would be just my luck that the one day I choose take them to the movie theater would be the one day they decided they had colic or something. That is how my minds works. In general, I don’t think babies belong at movie theaters or concerts or plays or other entertainment events that are intended for adult, i.e. able to sit still and not make noise, audiences. If they just sleep the whole time, awesome. Congratulations, your baby is awesome! I am retroactively jealous of you. But if they start crying and you don’t leave, you’re being rude.

(None of this applies to a family-friendly movie, concert, or play or whatever. Unless your baby is really really super loud and you don’t leave. Then you’re being rude to all the other babies and kids who are trying to disrupt the show in their own ways.)

Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid disrupting other people’s lives. Sometimes you just have to take a baby or young child on an airplane. I know, I’ve done it. Lots and lots of times. And believe me, karma has paid me back SIXTEEN-FOLD for all the times I, as a young childless adult trying to sleep on red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Greensboro, NC, resented all the babies who were flying (and not sleeping) with me. Sometimes babies cry. Sometimes children throw fits in stores. Sometimes they make messes when they ought not to. Blah blah, I’m cool with the fact that sometimes babies and children just suck. Let me tell you: now that I no longer have young children of my own, there is no greater feeling than to witness a child misbehaving in public and being able to say, “Ahh, not my problem.” IT’S AWESOME. But back to the point–I get that disruption-by-child is a part of life. No one is entitled to escape, even if they never had or don’t plan on ever having children. If you were once a child, you owe some kids and their parents a little slack. BUT if you don’t anticipate the possibility that your baby or child might be disruptive or otherwise somehow inconvenience others, and your attitude is always “they should just suck it up,” you’re being inconsiderate and narcissistic. The world doesn’t revolve around you or your special snowflake.

I don’t doubt that the mother in this article had planned and prepared to make class time with her baby go as smoothly as possible. Maybe it would have gone smoothly. And the more women are allowed to keep their babies with them (and not have to hire a sitter), the more opportunities women will have. So my inner feminist is very sympathetic to letting moms bring their babies to class. But I’m also sympathetic to people who argue that they paid to be in this class too and they don’t appreciate someone just assuming they can bring a baby–an obvious and predictable distraction–to class. (Everyone who commented on this article was sympathetic to people who have childcare emergencies and maybe have to bring their kid to class once, but no one liked the idea of just routinely bringing kids to class, which is the issue the above article and this blog post are addressing.) So I’m conflicted.

Would a baby distract me? Eh, maybe not. I’m used to that sort of thing. Would it have distracted me back in the day when I was not yet used to these things? Not sure, but possibly. I honestly don’t know. I went to a Baptist college and no one brought their babies to class. On the other hand, I go to church with Mormons every Sunday, and say what you will about Mormons, but we’re very accepting of babies and young children. As a result, our services all have a generous amount of background noise. (Unless you’re in one of those rare congregations that is short on young children, in which case it’s like being at a funeral, only less interesting.) I’m not usually distracted by anyone’s children not my own. They have to be really, really loud. But I know other people are more sensitive. (My childless teenage daughter, for example–not that she has any room to complain, as she has historically been the most disruptive individual in the chapel, long after the time when such behavior could be excused as youthful exuberance. But that’s another story.)

So I’m ambivalent. What do you gentle readers think? Is it cool for someone to bring their baby to class, as a matter of course (ha ha, get it, COURSE)? Or should they suck it up and get a sitter, just as common courtesy? I can’t quite decide.

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“I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes. So they’ve driven cigarettes underground… But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.'”–Rand Paul on the Eric Garner case

[If, for some strange reason, you are not familiar with the case of Eric Garner, the New Yorker who died after police used a choke hold to restrain him because he was resisting arrest, you may read about it here.]

I must tell you from the outset, Rand Paul is not my homeboy. I can’t say I have strong feelings about Rand Paul either way. Does he sometimes make libertarianism look ridiculous? Well, most libertarians do that. But I don’t think he’s particularly ridiculous in this case. Some people think his above statement was an absurd point to make, given that a man was killed. Someone dies, and you blame taxes? Sure, it sounds stupid when you say it that way. But I think it is an astute point, especially in light of Eric Garner’s last words, addressed to the police officers who were arresting him for the crime of selling untaxed cigarettes:

“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. […] I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. Please. Please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”

Garner was certainly breaking the law. The police had the authority to arrest him. Technically, he didn’t have the “right” to resist. Regardless of whether or not he was right to resist arrest, why were the police arresting him? Because he was selling untaxed cigarettes, quelle horreur. And why was he resisting? Because the cops had a history of hassling him (which cops have a tendency to do to people who are breaking laws), and he’d reached his breaking point. “It stops today.” If you’re going to call Rand Paul’s comments ridiculous, then Garner’s resistance was also ridiculous, by that standard. You might argue that it shouldn’t matter, given that we’re dealing with a question of excessive force by the police, but actually, it does kind of matter.

The police have fairly wide latitude when it comes to handling crime suspects, for the sake of maintaining public order. If you can’t use force, even deadly force, with an arrestee, you’re not going to be able to detain dangerous criminals. Even if a suspect doesn’t appear dangerous initially, the cops can’t predict if or when he (or she) will become dangerous. Police officers put themselves in danger when they try to apprehend and arrest people. They do it every day. They deal with the worst elements of society every day. They have a proctologist’s view of the world. It’s no wonder they tend to take a hostile stand toward the public at large. If they didn’t, probably more of them would be killed than already are every year.

I myself have mixed feelings toward the police. I understand the difficulty of their position, and I appreciate that there are people willing to risk their lives to keep the community safe. On the other hand, we are trusting these people with a crapload of power–and people with a crapload of power can’t always be trusted not to abuse it. It’s a double-edged sword! (Or something like that.) I’ve had perhaps more than my share of encounters with police officers, and no, I’m not talking about traffic tickets. They were not pleasant. (Except for maybe that K-9 officer I met at the boys’ cub scout camp.) When a cop thinks you’ve committed a crime, they approach you as they would any law-breaking scumbag. They do their best to intimidate you. Some of them are probably just jerks. (I can think of at least one incident from my personal experience that would support that hypothesis.) But I can’t ignore the fact that police officers always have to be prepared to deal with violent offenders, and being prepared also makes you a big meanie.

With all that said, here’s the point: The more things that are illegal, the more crimes will be committed. That’s just arithmetic, kids. The more crimes there are, the more people are going to be put in dangerous situations because the potential for violence is inherent in nearly every police-citizen interaction. There are people who are authorized to deprive you of your liberty, at least temporarily, and then there’s you, not particularly keen on having your liberty curtailed. Are you going to resist? Not unless you want to get hurt, I guess. Are there any circumstances under which you might resist, and risk getting hurt? How oppressive does the government have to be before you start resisting? “It stops today.”

The average law-abiding citizen doesn’t think much about the power the police wield because they don’t expect to be subject to it. And if you’re generally law-abiding and belong to a racially and economically privileged demographic, you probably won’t be (aside from the occasional traffic ticket). But the more things that are illegal, the more crimes will be committed. The more crime, the more police intervention, and the more police intervention, the more potential for violence–and the more potential for the police to overreact and to abuse their power. And the more potential for tragic misunderstandings and accidents, which do happen. So shouldn’t it stand to reason that in addition to police officers being properly trained and following the rules and not being racists and so forth, we should minimize the number of situations where a police officer has to intervene?

Cigarettes are bad for you, which I guess is why we tax them so heavily–or rather, why politicians can get away with taxing them so heavily. Never mind that cigarette taxes fall disproportionately on poor people and minorities. I mean, we’re talking about people’s health here! But Rand Paul is right–the high taxes have created a black market for cigarettes, which means they’ve created more crime. More crime–even non-violent crime–means more victims of police malfeasance. I know I keep saying it, but it keeps being true. There was no reason–that I can see–why the situation with Eric Garner should have escalated as quickly as it did. But I also think there’s no reason that a mother should be put in jail for letting her nine-year-old play at the park by herself. I’m kind of an anarchist, I guess.

Racism may have been a factor in Eric Garner’s arrest. I’m not a mind-reader, so I won’t speculate on how much the police officers in question had against black people. What I do know is that we give police officers a lot of leeway to use force on suspects because we don’t want them holding back when force is really needed; that gives a lot of cover to police officers who use excessive force. Is it possible to restrict their use of force without jeopardizing public safety? Well, I hope so, because putting a chokehold on a dude selling cigarettes is just nuts. But what do you do with someone who’s resisting arrest, even if what they’re getting arrested for is kind of trivial in the grand scheme of things? At what point are you permitted to use more forceful means of restraint? If it’s better to let them go than to risk hurting them, what’s the point of the law in the first place?

I was just on the Facebook posting pictures and tagging people in pictures, and I was thinking about how my brother-in-law and his wife (not the ones who just got married, but the other ones) share a Facebook account under his name, and how if I wanted to tag her in photo and have her know that she’s been tagged in a photo, I would have to tag her as her husband instead of her, which is kind of weird.  And that reminded me that I’ve been wondering for some time why exactly someone would want to share a Facebook account with her or his spouse when it’s just as easy to have one of your own.  But then, I’m the kind of person who thinks it’s more convenient for spouses to have their own e-mails, so what do I know?

I actually think I know why people do this.  I mean, I assume it’s for the purposes of full disclosure, so you know what each other is doing online in the old social networking sense.  I can’t think of any other reason, unless you are extremely, wildly lazy–or alternatively, just not really interested in Facebook.  Either of those latter two reasons would make sense when someone is just piggybacking on a spouse’s account, but it doesn’t explain why married couples set up a joint account as John Jane Smith Johnson or John Smith Jane Johnson or some similarly awkward moniker.  Theoretically John and Jane could have separate accounts but just share passwords so there are no dirty Facebook secrets, but then that feels more like spying on each other, rather than just having it all out there in the open.  I guess that makes sense.  It’s just not how my spouse and I roll.

My husband and I not only have separate Facebook accounts and separate e-mail accounts, but we don’t even know each other’s passwords.  If my husband asked for my password, I’d probably give it to him.  Well, no, maybe I wouldn’t, because when I’ve accidentally kept myself signed in on the computer, he’s done grossly unfair things with my status updates, so giving him my password is just asking for more of the same.  Actually, I think I’ve had him check my e-mail for me and given him my password, but he never remembers stuff like that, and actually I think he doesn’t want to remember.  I mean, certainly he doesn’t want to be bothered with remembering, but aside from that, I think he doesn’t care to know in the first place.  It’s not because we trust each other (although I think we do–except when it comes to Facebook status updates, in which case we definitely don’t), but because we like to give each other space.  Or rather, we each like to have our space and therefore allow the other their space.  Even online, where all sorts of nefarious ne’er-do-welling takes place and destroys marriages (or so I hear).

I know there are some people who think it’s quite dangerous for married couples not to have this full disclosure and full access to each other’s online business.  I just haven’t given it that much thought beyond the fact that my husband isn’t remotely interested in most of what I do online.  He reads my blog(s), but he doesn’t know the password(s) for my blog account(s), and if he suddenly wanted to have that kind of access, I would be kind of creeped out, frankly.  If he wanted access to my e-mail, I would be creeped out.  I reckon most spouses who share e-mail accounts don’t actually read each other’s e-mail but only read what they assume is intended for them, but the idea behind sharing your e-mail account is that theoretically you could read each other’s e-mail, so if one of you is getting e-mail from an ex-lover or something, at least the other is aware of it.  But that brings me back to the fact that if you were inclined to carry on with an ex-lover or the Mafia or whatever, you would do that secretly anyway, not with your joint e-mail and/or Facebook account.  So yeah, I’m back to not getting it.

I guess my problem is that I’m insecure.  I’m extremely fond of my privacy.  Not sneaky, destructive privacy like having affairs or doing drugs, but you know, just ordinary-I’m-not-inclined-to-share-this-with-you-at-this-particular-moment privacy.  For example, if I’m planning your surprise birthday party.  Huh?  How’s that for a benign secret?  But that’s not really what I’m talking about.  When I’m writing a blog or a story or whatever, I like it to be private until I decide I am ready to share it.  Just like I don’t want my spouse to read my thoughts, I don’t want him to read my blog posts or even my e-mail until I decide it is okay for him to read it.  I like to think that there’s a sphere where I can be alone and have private conversations, but even as I type this, I think that sounds suspicious.  “Private conversations”–what does that really mean, Madhousewife?  What sort of “conversations” do you need to keep “private” from your husband?  Well, nothing that interesting, I assure you, so maybe I’m just a naturally closed-off and paranoid individual.  But I think it’s more that I’m persnickety about maintaining an independent identity.

Technically, I’m not an independent person.  I’m a very dependent person.  I’m dependent on my husband financially to an extent that probably ought to scare me (but doesn’t, for some reason).  And here we are, living in the same house and sleeping in the same bed, and he knows when I’m in a bad mood and the vagaries of my menstrual cycle and all this other information that he probably doesn’t even want to have, but there it is because we are married and we share a life.  But I want my space.  I not only want time to myself, but I want a place to think my own thoughts and have my own relationships and yes, have “private conversations” about banal things that aren’t of any concern to my husband and wouldn’t harm him in any way if he knew about them but he doesn’t need to know about them, and so I don’t share them.

The funny thing is that I started out thinking that spouses who share everything are weird, but the more I talk about it, the more weird I sound.  And actually I don’t think of these sharing-everything people as “weird”; it’s just not my thing, sharing everything, so I can’t relate to the experience of desiring that, let alone doing it.  And I actually think I am probably the weird one.  You’re worried about my marriage now, aren’t you?  Well, don’t.  Everything’s fine.

And even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t tell you.  Well, no, I probably would, but I haven’t, so there it is.  It’s fine.

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I have never liked the term “special needs” as referring to disabilities. I dislike it most as an adjective, e.g. “a special-needs child,” because it is inelegant (one of the same reasons I hate “stay-at-home mom”), but the main reason for disliking it is more substantive. Every child has special needs. In our home there are two children with autism and two children who are “typically developing,” but each has needs particular to him or her and one is not more “special” than another.

I don’t like the term “special needs,” but I find myself using it anyway because it is the popular term these days and a convenient shorthand when you’re trying to be inclusive of various kinds of disabilities. But you know what? I don’t like the word “disabled” or “disability” any better.

Last week I posted something about Rahm Emanuel getting raked over the coals for using “retarded” as an insult. I understand how “retarded” has come to be a pejorative and therefore it has to be shuttled by polite society. Apparently they are in the process of replacing all instances of the words “retarded” and “retardation” in government documents with “disabled” or “intellectual disability” or something along those lines. I understand why they’re doing it, and yet I also think it’s too bad that a word that started out as a euphemism for a particular kind of handicap–a nice word, meaning “slow”–is now considered no better than a racial slur, just because some mean people misused it (a lot). That’s what mean people do, you know. They see people’s weaknesses and they mock them. They can turn any word into an insult, and eventually we have no choice but to capitulate to their meanness and designate the word unacceptable. And eventually the word is used exclusively as an insult, with no consideration given to its earlier, benign meaning. (See “dumb” and “idiot.”)

The trick is to find a new term that is cumbersome enough that schoolyard bullies aren’t tempted to co-opt it for their nefarious purposes. Mean people are already using “special needs” the same way they use “retarded,” but “developmentally disabled” hasn’t quite caught on as an insult–probably because it is more tongue-twisty than “special needs.” So maybe it will have staying power as a “nice” term for folks who were once called “retarded” (in a nice way), but I still don’t like it.

“Dis-abled” means “not abled,” so it’s no wonder that the especially PC among us prefer the term “differently abled.” I personally think “differently abled” is ridiculous, but “disabled” has a more negative connotation in my mind than, say, “handicapped.” I mean, golfers have handicaps. I don’t see anything wrong with saying my child has a handicap. My child does have a handicap. It doesn’t make him less valuable as a human being, and I’m not sure how the word “handicap” implies such a thing, but at some point somebody decided that “handicapped” was pejorative. (Remember when they used to say “handicapable”? Thus proving that there is a more ridiculous term than “differently abled.”) Alas, I was not the parent of a handicapped child back when they were deciding to jettison “handicapped.” I would certainly have spoken up for it. But it’s too late for that.

It’s not too late, though, for me to chime in on the word “autistic.” I was surprised and dismayed to learn that people actually object to using this word as a descriptor and insist that instead of referring to people as “autistic,” we should refer to them as “people with autism.” Okay, whatever. Is that not what “autistic” means? Of or relating to autism? My understanding is that they want to emphasize the personhood rather than the disability, but…again, whatever. Of course my children are people with autism. They are autistic people. Are you a white person, or are you a “person with whiteness”? Are you a tall person, or are you a “person with tallness”? Are you a mean person, or are you a “person with meanness”? I can’t get behind this new trend. It’s too dumb, if you’ll pardon the expression. (Rahm Emanuel might use more colorful terminology, but I sure won’t.)

Anyway, what are your thoughts, gentle readers? How do you feel about “disabled” and “special needs” rather than “handicapped,” or for that matter, “retarded”? And what about “autistic”? What the bleep is wrong with “autistic”?

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Against my better judgment, I followed a link to this story in the New York Times about a school strip-search case that has reached the Supreme Court.  (They will hear arguments on April 21.)

SAFFORD, Ariz. — Savana Redding still remembers the clothes she had on — black stretch pants with butterfly patches and a pink T-shirt — the day school officials here forced her to strip six years ago. She was 13 and in eighth grade.

An assistant principal, enforcing the school’s antidrug policies, suspected her of having brought prescription-strength ibuprofen pills to school. One of the pills is as strong as two Advils.

Two Advils–quelle horreur! A strip search.  On a thirteen-year-old.  For ibuprofen.

Ibu.

F***ing.

Profen.  (Pardon my French.)

Question:  What the hell is the matter with people?

About twelve years ago I read about a similar story in McMinnville, Oregon, where they forced an entire eighth grade girls’ gym class to strip because they were searching for stolen cosmetics.  I repeat:  What the hell?

The case will require the justices to consider the thorny question of just how much leeway school officials should have in policing zero-tolerance policies for drugs and violence, and the court is likely to provide important guidance to schools around the nation.
.

Well, I sure hope the hell so!  It must be so confusing to be a school official these days–such tough calls to make when there’s prescription ibuprofen at stake.  God knows how our children’s security could be threatened if that ibuprofen were to get out into the general school population or–God forbid–swallowed by some unsuspecting youngster.  This sort of thing can’t go on.  Long-term kidney damage could occur, not to mention the perpetual threat of anarchy.  It won’t do, I’m telling you.  It simply won’t do.

You know what’s a good reason to perform a strip-search on a child at school?

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A BOMB.

And now I can’t write anymore without using the F-word, which is my signal to stop.


Madhousewife is the new Common Sense Czar for the Obama administration.

Mormonfolk had a discussion recently on BCC about whether it was kosher (in the Mormon sense–hm, what would be a good Mormon word for “kosher”?  note to self:  think on that later, get back to the blog now) to have alcohol served in your home at a holiday party or in some other entertaining scenario.  Actually, the specific question was what you would do if a co-worker, knowing there would be no alcohol served at your party, asked you if it would be okay to bring his own adult beverages.  Last I checked, the responses were about 50-50, Cool vs. Not Cool.  Some said, “Of course I would have alcohol for my guests who want to enjoy it.  It’s only what a gracious host would do.”  And others said, “My house, my rules.”  Do you want to know what I said?  Of course you do, or you wouldn’t be reading!  My response was “Why would I have alcohol in my home when I don’t drink alcohol?”  I mean, if people want to be drinking alcohol that badly, I assume they would be someplace-not-the-Mormon’s-house.  I don’t think of it as “my house, my rules.”  I think of it as…”I don’t drink alcoholic beverages and never have drunk alcoholic beverages, and therefore I don’t think of alcoholic beverages as being an essential component of a holiday party or other entertaining scenario, and therefore if I am forced to think about it, I have to come down on the side of ‘If my company is so insufficient for these revelers’ needs, why would they want to come to my party in the first place?’  Harumph!”  (I threw that “Harumph!” in just for you, sis.)

I can’t say that I’ve hosted a lot of parties in my day, though.  Those parties that I have hosted have tended to be largely Mormon affairs because, well, I know a lot of Mormons.  I’m forced to interact with Mormons, so they tend to be the people I get to know.  I don’t have nearly as much occasion to interact with regular old people to the same extent, and therefore my circle of non-Mormon friends and acquaintances is limited to Sugar Daddy’s co-workers, parents of my kids’ friends, the next-door neighbors, and people I knew in high school and college.  (I suppose I also have non-Mormon friends in my tap class, but I haven’t invited any of them to parties yet.  Maybe I should.  Note to self.)  Anyway, I’ve never hosted some big holiday gala whereunto I would be inviting a significant number of potential social-drinkers.  The last big party we threw was for Mister Bubby’s baptism, and there were exactly four not-Mormons there, only two of whom were of legal drinking age, and I think they would have felt uncomfortable if I had offered them beer just to make them feel more comfortable.  And the more I think about it, the more I think I would feel uncomfortable having beer and wine in my house when beer and wine are taboo for everyone who lives in my house.  I can’t explain why.  I just would.

Let me tell you the extent of my experience with drinking and parties.

I remember going to my first (and last) college party.  It was the week before school started, and I was a freshman, and hardly any students had arrived yet.  Some townies were hosting a party, and someone invited my roommate and me to go, and me being away from home and uncharacteristically not feeling like being alone said, “Sure, I’ll go a party”–not realizing that there would be nothing for a Mormon girl to do at a party hosted by townies for college students.  And truly, there was nothing for me to do.  It was the most miserable, most boring two hours of my life, and you must remember that I had been going to church every week for twenty years, so I knew what boring was.  There was no food.  There was no one (sober) to talk to.  There was no television.  A couple people might have been playing Nintendo in the basement.  There was no fussball, but even if there were, I didn’t play fussball, so that would have been a dead end anyway.  But I don’t know.  I was pretty desperate, so I might have taken it up, but like I said, that’s neither here nor there.  I suppose if I’d wanted to make out with somebody, I could have gotten lucky–but I don’t think that thought ever crossed my mind.  Also, as the only sober person, I felt pretty invisible.  Actually, I eventually found another sober person; he was the designated driver and he drove me and some other (drunk) people back to the college.  (My roommate stayed and got plastered and threw up.)  So that was an experience.  I vividly recall thinking, “I totally understand why people drink at parties even if they might not particularly want to.  Because this is freaking depressing.”

Obviously, I have since been to more interesting parties that just happened to have alcohol at them, rather than parties that existed solely for the purpose of alcohol consumption.  And those parties didn’t depress me.  Nor did I notice anyone getting drunk at them.  But those parties also had plenty of food and sober-enough-to-talk-to people.  To me that is what’s essential to a party.  Of course I can see why others think differently.  Lots of people enjoy drinking wine (or whatever), not to get drunk but to, you know, relax and loosen up or whatever.  I guess for a lot of folks, having a couple drinks makes them more sociable.  I’ve never had a couple drinks, so I don’t know for sure, but knowing the extent of my social anxiety versus my tolerance for alcohol, I reckon that there is a very fine line between what would make me more sociable and what would make me fall asleep.

When I was eighteen my office had a little cake-eating party for a co-worker whose birthday it was, and the cake was a rum cake.  So I had this little sliver of cake soaked in rum, and I thought it was, eh, whatever.  Then I spent the next few hours feeling a tad…off.  I kept thinking, “What on earth is the matter with me today?” and then I realized it must have been the rum cake.  Maybe I ate it on an empty stomach.  (The idea of me having an empty stomach is somewhat laughable these days, but when I was eighteen, ‘twould not have been that unusual.)  Anyway, I didn’t enjoy the experience.  Not only was the cake not very good, but I didn’t like this “off” feeling.  I guess you could call it a “buzz.”  It was very annoying.  Perhaps I would have felt differently about it if I had been in a social situation instead of at work, but then again, if I’d not been at work, I would have been sorely tempted to go to sleep.  The sleep would have been nice for me, but I doubt anyone else would have found me more sociable.

Anyway, I like to know what I’m thinking and feel what I’m feeling.  Well, listen to me.  I opted against anesthesia during childbirth, so why would I enjoy a good buzz?  It just doesn’t stand to reason.

(Look, I know there are plenty of folks who enjoy the occasional drink as well as the occasional natural birth, so don’t hassle me here.  Lighten up.  Maybe you should have a couple drinks before you read my blog.  Or don’t drink.  Whatever’s preventing you from taking a joke, remedy it.)

So here’s the thing.  I don’t connect drinking with anything in my life, either for good or ill, because I don’t drink.  Therefore, I don’t connect it with the ability to enjoy oneself at a party.  It just wouldn’t occur to me that a lack of alcoholic beverage would correlate to a lack of social enjoyment because my brain just doesn’t work that way.  To me, any situation which proffers the opportunity for conversation with people not my children (no offense to them) is a party.  And if you throw in food, ta da!  You have achieved Super-Party.  So the standards are low, I’ll admit.  But that’s how my brain works.  If you came up to me and said, “Um, would it be okay if I brought my own beer/wine/Mike’s Hard Lemonade/gin/vodka/whiskey/etc. to the party, since you won’t be serving any?” I would be taken totally off guard and think it was a weird thing to ask.  And I would probably end up saying, “Um…really?  No.  Not really, no.”  And then our friendship might become strained, and that would be uncomfortable too.  But truth be told, I’d rather you just didn’t come than come and feel like you were being deprived of an essential partying factor.  That would be uncomfortable for me, too.

So now I sincerely and with some trepidation ask the following question:  Is it normal behavior to bring your own alcohol to a party where you know alcohol isn’t going to be served because your host doesn’t drink alcohol?  Because to me that seems a little weird.  I don’t bring my own roast beef to my vegan friend’s dinner party, even though she’s perfectly fine with me consuming meat in front of her.  Am I remiss in my social propriety?  Discuss.

And here’s a poll.  (Stupid PollDaddy isn’t working.  Harumph!)

Here’s a totally messed-up story:

Mix-up at OHSU fertility clinic leads to flurry of lawsuits

A man gave a sperm sample at the fertility clinic; it was supposed to be for his fiancee, but someone at the clinic made a big boo-boo and gave it to a woman who wanted to be inseminated by an anonymous donor.  (This entry is already too indecorous for my tender sensibilities.)  The clinic realized the mistake and asked the man, M.H., to come back to the clinic and give another sample; they didn’t explain why at this time.  They told the wrongly-inseminated woman, Jane Doe, and her husband that they gave her the wrong sperm; she says they coerced her into taking the morning-after pill and offered to give her a free abortion if she became pregnant, or two free inseminations if she did not.  (This part is confusing to me.  Shouldn’t they have offered her free inseminations even if she did have an abortion?  Whatever.)  Eventually they told M.H. about the mix-up, and M.H. immediately set about trying to find out if Jane Doe became pregnant and if there’s a child out there with his DNA.  He wants to assert his paternity rights.  Jane Doe and her husband want to be left alone.  It isn’t known whether or not Jane Doe has had a child.

This is one of those unfortunate scenarios in which acting ethically resulted in acting cruelly.  Of course the clinic was obligated to disclose what really happened, and I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t have.  But wouldn’t it have been much better for everyone involved if they’d done the unethical thing and said, “Whoops!  Ahem–what sperm?  I didn’t see any sperm.  Did you see any sperm, Gladys?  Me either.  Hey, look over there–is that a turkey baster?”

I’m very interested to see how a judge rules on this.  M.H. never intended to be a sperm donor, so he is understandably miffed about his sperm being donated to a complete stranger.  (Would that all men were so picky about where their sperm ended up.)  However, it isn’t Jane Doe’s fault that the clinic gave her the wrong sperm.  She has the right not to have an abortion; she also has the right not to gestate a child for the benefit of a complete stranger.  It seems unlikely that she would have become pregnant if she took the emergency contraception; however, if she didn’t become pregnant and didn’t have a child, why doesn’t she just tell M.H. just that so he’ll leave her and her family alone?  I suppose it’s the principle of the thing.

It also isn’t clear from the story whether or not M.H. and his fiancee were ever able to successfully conceive; perhaps it doesn’t matter.  If I were M.H.’s pregnant fiancee, I think I would be miffed that he was spending money on lawyers to track down his lost sperm instead of helping me get the nursery ready.  If I were his not-pregnant fiancee, I think I would be miffed that he was spending money on lawyers to track down his lost sperm instead of planning our wedding or getting me pregnant.  I mean, theoretically he could do all these things, but since men are such notorious single-taskers, and mothers-and-brides-to-be are so notoriously self-centered (and crazy), I would imagine that the accumulated distractions would have a detrimental effect on the relationship.  Perhaps M.H. and his fiancee are no longer together.  Who knows?

I have to wonder, though, just what this man hopes to accomplish, should it turn out that there is a child out there with his DNA.  That’s not a family situation I’d volunteer to be part of.  But I’m a woman, and my eggs more or less stay put.  I guess it’s possible that I could be in a situation where fertility clinic workers were extracting my eggs to be fertilized by my husband’s sperm in a petrie dish, or whatever, and some doofus makes a mistake and fertilizes my egg with some strange(r) person’s sperm–what would I want to do in that situation?  Maybe it would depend on what the unwitting sperm donor looked like.  Just kidding.  I don’t know.  I’m grateful I’ve never had to deal with infertility, let alone fugitive DNA.

What is your take, gentle readers?

So your yorel–or is it our yorel?–has been doing Christmas polling at his site.  Right now he is asking for nominations for worst Christmas song ever.  A couple weeks ago he asked readers what they thought about Target’s decision not to allow the Salvation Army to stand outside their stores with their kettles and bells.  Was Target Scrooge?  Most of those who expressed an opinion said no.  That didn’t really surprise me.  I, like many people, really like Target, and unless they were hosting Al Qaeda recruiting posts, I would not be inclined to boycott them or call them names.  As much as I like the Salvation Army, I understand and appreciate that Target is just trying to avoid letting every Tom, Dick & Harry solicit donations at their storefronts.  It’s all good, people.  My check’s in the mail.

What surprised me is how many people said they were actually annoyed by the bell ringers.  They didn’t like feeling pressured to donate and feeling guilty for not giving when, for whatever reason, they either couldn’t or didn’t want to.  I understand feeling pressured and guilty and how that leads to resentment.  That’s why I hate it when people show up on my doorstep or call me on the phone to solicit donations for their worthy causes.  It’s not that I don’t care about their worthy causes, but I like to put a little more thought into my donations than is afforded in the ten seconds they give me to make up my mind.  One is not always in the mood to make that decision.  I understand all that. The thing I like about the SA kettle is that it seems to me such an innocuous way to ask for money.  Actually, no one really asks you for anything.  You can give or not give and be on your merry way.  No pitiful little girl scouts saying, “Excuse me, would you like to buy some cookies?”  No one asking if you’d like to save the Tillamook forest or help kids stay off drugs.  Just some cat standing by a kettle and ringing a bell–and he doesn’t even always make eye contact.  What’s to be annoyed by?  You don’t even have to do any hard math to determine your compassion-to-cash flow ratio because the SA will take whatever you give them and wish you a merry Christmas any which way.  I’ve never met a bell ringer who didn’t thank me for even the most trifling of donations.  Or one who gave me a dirty look when I just smiled and walked on by.  Either way, I don’t feel guilty unless I think I have something to feel guilty for.

Truth be told, I feel worse driving past those cats with the cardboard signs at the freeway on-ramps.

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