Friday, October 24, 2008

Obnoxious Coworkers

A friend of mine with a primarily blue-state outlook, has told me that her red-state coworkers sometimes annoy her immensely, partly because of their inability to ever acknowledge the possibility that anyone could possibly hold an opposing point of view. V., I totally feel your pain. With colors reversed, that is exactly the situation I went through for five years in Bethel. For example, I can understand that people find Texas' record on capital punishment in general, and George W. Bush's actions while Governor deeply troubling...especially the case of Karla Fay Tucker. (Every bit as horrific as Bill Clinton's treatment of Rickey Ray Rector).

Incidentally, if you believe that as a born-again Christian Karla Fay Tucker was destined to spend eternity in Heaven after death (I quite emphatically do NOT), wasn't W. doing her a huge favor by approving her execution? I mean, really, where would you rather spend 30 years or so- Heaven or a Texas prison? OK, in six years as Governor, W. signed off on 152 executions...that's 25 a year. Texas' population is a bit over 20 million. OK, so George W. Bush's Texas was hell on earth. So, what would you call a place with a per capita rate of executions ten or twenty or a hundred times higher? Pop quiz: who was it who said, 'All that we need to execute a man is to show that it is necessary to execute him. It is that simple.'? Hint: it was not George W. Bush. Well, actually, it was 'Che' Guevera. In 1960, Cuba had a population of about 6.5 million. In 1963, after 4 years of communist rule, the Cuban government announced that they executed 2,875 people after trial, and 4,245 without trial. By my math, the a Cuban had more than a hundred times better chance of being executed by Castro's government than a Texan had of being executed by George W. Bush's.

If you're wondering why I bothered doing those calculations, it's because a coworker in Bethel, my one-time boss, John Cashion, had a poster from a coffeeshop on his wall- that contained an exerpt from Castro's eulogy for Che Guevara. Hmmm...why didn't he have one of Lawrencia Beria too?

Next story: back in '04, we got a new attorney named Liz Pederson, who happens to be gay (that's neither here nor there). First day, a group of us have lunch. The subject of Iraq comes up. Things rapidly get heated. Using my amazing powers of diplomacy, I think, I know what I'll do- I'll change the subject. Let's talk about dogs instead. I'd just read an article about American soldiers adopting Iraqi dogs (since Arabs regard dogs as 'unclean', some of those pooches have enjoyed a dramatic improvement in their standard of living). So I say, 'You know, American soldiers have always been kind to dogs...' And Liz Pederson interrupts and says, 'Oh YEAH! They kill CHILDREN, but they're kind to dogs!' Four years later, I still regret that I did not break a chair over her head. And say, 'Gee, Liz, if any American soldier killed a child, it must have been that those soldiers were gay...because everybody knows gays kill children. I mean you've heard of John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Wayne Williams, and the original Bluebeard. All gay, all killed children.'

In case any slow learners are reading this, if I had made that statement, I would have been being horribly unfair- every bit as horribly unfair as Liz Pederson slandering every person who has ever worn an American uniform. (That November, I refrained from asking her why she was supporting a Child Killer for President...or maybe she only slurred American soldiers and not sailors.) Pop Quiz: Since I was in the Navy, announcing that you're gay gets you a honorable discharge; you're not getting back in. Does anybody want to guess what the Navy's policy on homosexual conduct as back during WWII? Anybody what to guess?

About a week after that lunch incident, I overheard Liz comment that someone she knew was in Iraq, and the general effect of her words that he and his buddies probably were enjoying themselves, because that way they could do all the drugs they wanted to. I managed to check my initial urge to break a chair over her head, and instead said, in as calm and level a voice as I could manage, 'Uh, Liz, you are off by one hundred eighty degrees.' (I think that is a very diplomatic way of saying 'YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG')

I kept my cool, and told her that in the mid70s, drugs were a TERRIBLE problem- there was a plane crash on a carrier that killed something like 20 crewmen- autopsies showed that more than half of them had cannabis in their system. When I as in Language School at Monterey '80-'81 we were having a bunch of people getting busted for pot. In 1983 the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Heywood came out with a really strict program of testing, and the percentage of pot users declined further. By the time I was teaching onboard US Navy ships with the Program for Afloat College Education '88-'90 and '93-'95, drug tests were so common that the chance of getting away with using pot was just about nil- one strike and you're out the door. If even *one* man in a four hundred man crew tested positive, it was an unwelcome surprise. (This is where obnovxious left wingers are totally schizophrenic. They make really bad jokes about service people using drugs. 30-plus years ago, those jibes had foundation, but when you point out that drug use is now certain to bring an other-than-honorable discharge, and maybe some brig time, they get all weepy for the poor druggie. No sympathy from me at all. And they won't get any from the rank and file either.) I managed to get along tolerably with Liz, making allowance for the fact that a racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist is anyone who disagrees with her.

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