Bad Neighborhood


Manila, The Philippines

In the mid-1990s I had an African American coworker with two sons. She had recently moved here from California. Not knowing Tacoma, she moved to Tacoma’s East Side because it was affordable. She had been living there about six months when she started working with me. Her sons were ten and eleven. She explained that she was moving to another neighborhood that was going to cost her significantly more money, but that she recognized the gang activity on Tacoma’s East Side was increasing. She said raising two black teenagers in that neighborhood at that time would result in one or both of them joining gangs. It was inevitable.

I mention this because when looking at the past 120 years of events in the Philippines it seems like the Philippines is like a kid growing up in a bad neighborhood. They never had a chance.

Looking at the present day Philippines run by a dictator who proudly murders his enemies and compares himself positively to Hitler, it’s easy to wonder how such a leader could possibly exist in the 21st century. But like discovering that the abusive father was himself abused, a look at what’s gone before is illuminating.

Taken from the Spanish by the Americans at the turn of the 20th century during the Spanish American War, the Americans then went out of their way to hobble any attempts at true independence for most of the next hundred years. Elections were made sham elections only electing who we want despite America’s proud reputation as a bastion of Democracy. When we occupied the Philippines and were basically treating it like a colony we would fake elections and lie to get our guy in office whenever necessary. So is it any surprise that left to their own devices strong man dictator sorts would behave exactly the same way? When has the Philippines ever experienced true democracy?

It did not matter what sort of parenting my coworker did for her children because she knew the neighborhood. She knew there were hours that she would be at work and times they would be at friends’ houses. It did not matter how inherently good her children were. There were forces surrounding them she could not control. Similarly, the people of the Philippines have literally never known anything else beyond a power uninterested in their wellbeing taking advantage and exploiting their country for their own benefit. Whether it was the Spanish, the Americans, the Japanese during WWII, the Americans again, or the series of despots that have taken charge since then, none of them have had the will, desires, or wellbeing of the people of the Philippines as their primary concern. In this way, the Philippines is like my coworker’s sons in that neighborhood without their mother, without anyone who genuinely cares what happens to them. And they have never known it any other way.

Given such circumstances, what is the path forward? Is the Philippines doomed to be ruled by strong arm dictator after strong arm dictator? I really wish I could end this with some great idea that might fix things, but it’s like trying to get a hardcore gangster to get a day job. Like so many problems in this world, there is no simple answer. If a true democratic rebellion swelled up, would Americans support it? If we did, could we support it in such a way that doesn’t include us occupying the country? Given that Donald Trump is a great admirer of Duterte, would Trump send troops to help him fight off the rebellion?

Unfortunately, the Philippines cannot move out of the bad neighborhood like my coworker. They are stuck. And no one seems interested in helping them. Like always.

– Jack Cameron


The Cult of Trump


Treason. A dictionary definition says, “The crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.” It is a fairly simple definition. One can note how it does not say that one has engaged in treason by not clapping for the President’s speech. And yet President Donald Trump referred to the Democrats who did not applaud during his State of the Union speech as ‘treasonous’. What’s going on here?

It would be fairly easy to dismiss this as yet another lie from a man who has a tenuous relationship with the truth. I have seen some who say that his calling the Democrats treasonous is just Donald Trump projecting his own sins. Either of those is an obvious possibility. But I think it is something else. Rather than assuming that he is lying, I am assuming he is telling the truth as he sees it in this case.

How could failing to applaud at Trump’s speech in any way be considered betraying one’s country? If we substitute the word ‘country’ with the word ‘leader’, then suddenly refusing to applaud could be seen as a betrayal. Why would we do such a thing? Because for Donald Trump the only country he represents, the only power he portrays, the only thing he really cares about is himself. There is no doubt in my mind that he would let every single American man, woman, and child be killed if it benefitted him in any way. Donald Trump is a cult of personality.

There are benefits to thinking this way. It is easier to protect a person than it is to protect a country. It is said that the Presidency ages you, but Trump does not seem to be a victim of this. The burdens and problems of a nation do not bother him as President of the United States because in order to experience that burden one must not only be President of the United States, but one must also care about the United States and there is no evidence whatsoever that Donald Trump has any affection for the country he is supposed to be leading.

Of course Donald Trump sees people not clapping for him as treasonous. He even applauded himself multiple times throughout his own speech. To Trump the only part of the United States that means anything at all is himself. He demonstrates this on a daily basis. Who he is and what he says is more important in his head than reality itself. He will say he had a larger audience for his State of the Union than any other President despite this being an obvious lie that can be easily checked for the simple reason that to him, the only thing that matters is what he says. He considers the office he holds not to be President of the United States, but God/Emperor. He is incapable of wrongdoing. He is incapable of lying. He is incapable of being fallible, for he is perfect. This is the Cult of Trump.

This would all be disturbing enough, but worse than this is the fact that there are literally millions of Trump supporters across the nation the buy into this cult. He tells them he had the best ratings ever and that the Democrats are traitors and they believe him. A couple weeks ago Fox News anchor and Trump fanatic, Sean Hannity insisted that the New York Times was lying that Trump tried to fire Mueller back in June. He said that he checked with his sources and they all say it is not true. Then minutes later, when Fox News had confirmed that it was true, Sean Hannity explained how it turned out that it was true, but that Trump had every right to do that and that it’s not a big deal that he tried to fire the FBI guy investigating him. In order to be part of the Cult of Trump, one must never admit that Donald Trump has ever done anything wrong at all. Every lie is true. Every scandal is not a scandal. Every pussy grabbed wanted to be grabbed.

Despite being elected to the office of President of the United States, occupying the White House, and being treated like he is President, Donald Trump is not the President. He is a dictator in waiting. He is a man who sees the law as something that should not impact him as he is beyond it. He sees lack of loyalty to him as lack of loyalty to the country because to him they are one and the same. The only positive note is that dictators tend to have violent endings

– Jack Cameron

Enthusiastic Consent


Guys, we’re in a situation here. The #MeToo movement has not only exposed countless men in positions of powers who have been harassing, assaulting, and raping women, it has also exposed men, who, for many of us seem way too much like ourselves. We read the account of Aziz Ansari’s date, ‘Grace’ and thought about every date that didn’t go right and wondered if we were ever pushier than we should have been. Most women I’ve talked to about it can recount more than one occasion where Grace’s story mirrored their own.

Despite the story only being a few days old, much has been written about this. The New York Times says the only thing Aziz Ansari is guilty of is not being a mind reader. Others say that his actions are symptomatic of a problem with our culture. But all of these are missing the point. The point here is that Aziz Ansari says he believed everything was consensual. His partner makes it clear that it wasn’t. Given that he doesn’t dispute her version of events, it’s worth noting that whatever consent was given was reluctant at best.

When I was a far younger man my go-to move was that once we started making out, I would say, “Stop me if I go too far.” and then respect when and if she told me there was a line she didn’t want to cross. Of course I was young and inexperienced and not bright enough to realize that for a variety of reasons, a woman who doesn’t want to do something might do something anyway just to avoid an awkward, hurtful, or potentially dangerous situation. This isn’t something that immediately makes sense to a guy like me who isn’t used to partners that are larger and stronger than me, who is never going to be called ‘easy’ or ‘slut’, who is never going to be told I’m playing ‘hard to get’, or that I’m frigid. It took time and experience for me to realize my mistake.

The problem we face is that consent can be a very tricky thing. As coercion, even unintentional coercion, can make apparent consent not real consent. You can’t control the factors that might make someone reluctantly agree to sexual activities. But you can refuse to engage in sexual activities with someone who is reluctant to agree.

Part of the problem is the idea that has been ingrained in men practically since birth that the absolute best thing in life is getting some. We learned this around the same time we were learning about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and like both of those, it’s complete bullshit. Having successfully had sex with a woman who was at best marginally interested in what you’re doing is not any sort of accomplishment. Listen to the countless women who read Grace’s story and completely related to it. It’s common. All too common. Worse, it’s scarring for women and alienating for men.

This is why I think we, and by ‘we’ I mean men, should not require consent. We should require enthusiastic consent. You shouldn’t be spending your post-coital moments wondering if she really wanted to have sex with you. You should be spending those moments well aware that she wanted you as much or more than you wanted her. There should be no gray areas here. It’s simple. If a woman hasn’t made it absolutely clear that she wants to have sex with you, don’t have sex with her. That’s it.

We need to accept that there will be times where we could have had sex and don’t because it’s not the right thing to do. And guess what? If a woman really wants to have sex with you, she will let you know the next time there’s an opportunity. Enthusiastically even.

Enthusiastic consent* gets rid of any ambiguity because while it’s easy to fake acceptance, it’s difficult to fake enthusiasm. Someone who is willing is not enough. They need to really want it. Not to mention, having sex when everyone involved really wants to have sex with each other is the best kind of sex there is.

– Jack Cameron

*As with any talk about consent, it’s worth mentioning that consent is not like buying a car. It’s not one decision. It’s countless decisions. Enthusiastic consent can be withdrawn at any time. Keep this in mind.


Regarding Us Flawed White Guy Allies

I’ll start by saying what this isn’t. This isn’t #NotAllMen. This isn’t whataboutism. This isn’t me going out of my way to prove how right I am or how wrong anyone else is. What I want to do is point out a danger in the ongoing social justice war.

I am a Caucasian, heterosexual, male. I share this commonality with most mass shooters, most rapists, most child molesters, most murderers, and most of the worst people in the history of humanity. The #MeToo movement is largely due to the terrible behavior of people who share my gender, my race, and my sexual orientation. This is not an opinion, but sad fact and I recognize it as such.

When I see that it is Caucasian men in positions of power who are victimizing women, when I see that it is Caucasian men in police uniforms murdering unarmed black men with impunity, when I see that it is a Caucasian man in the White House threatening the world with nuclear war while lamenting about how much he wants to have sex with his daughter, I am ashamed and want to do whatever I can to help victims of these terrible things. So mostly I listen. I listen to women tell their stories. I listen to people of color when they tell me something is racist. I listen to transgender and non-heterosexual individuals and their experiences. I know that I can never truly feel what they feel, but I’d like to understand and so I listen.

I also speak up. When I encounter bad behavior or encounter someone accepting or encouraging bad behavior I speak up. When I hear someone make a weak argument based on hate or fear I try to come up with an argument based on fact and reason. When someone I agree with comes up with a weak argument I tell them how they could make the argument stronger. When there’s a chance to inform or debate a smart person I usually take that chance.

I also fail. I fail to make my point. I fail to keep emotion out of it. I fail to keep my temper. I fail to have all the relevant facts. I fail to see things from another perspective. Sometimes I fail to allow that I might be wrong about something.

And the problem with that is that the moment I fail, all too often people who I agree with 95% of the time suddenly pounce. Suddenly I’m told I’m encouraging rape culture or I’m racist or I’m sexist or I’ve failed some sort of purity test that has now made me ‘the enemy’. And as luck would have it, I’m a Caucasian, heterosexual male like all the other bad guys.

Now this is not me saying, ‘Please feel sorry for us straight white guys.’ or any sort of ‘poor me’ bit. As behaviors go, if that’s the worst us straight white guys get, then we’re lucky. My concern has little to do with me or how I’m treated. I can take it and I don’t care too much. My concern is that doing this alienates people who would otherwise be allies. But when you call people assholes and tell them they’re part of the problem, they aren’t likely to back you when you want a solution.

I can recognize that the behavior of a few is not the same as the behavior of many. I can separate cause from people who support the cause. But ultimately if every time a straight Caucasian guy like myself says something we are told to shut up and go away, we’ll do just that and you will lose. You cannot win in the fight for equality if you refuse to accept flawed allies. You simply can’t.

I’m not going to make the right choice every time. Neither are you. Accept that and allow your allies to mess up. Allow them to say things you don’t agree with without deciding they must be the enemy. We all make mistakes. Those mistakes rarely define who we are or what we represent or care about. We don’t need to be in perfect harmony to be on the same side of a fight.

– Jack Cameron


My First Book Is Going Out of Print And That’s A Good Thing


It was 2006. I wrote a book about all the mistakes of my 20s. It was fun to research, write, and release. I had dozens of conversations with people I might never have met otherwise. At one point, I even had a meeting with a producer from Hollywood about making a Ruin Your Life movie.

Ruin Your Life is meant to be a humorous manual of bad but not hurtful behavior. For the most part I think it still succeeds in that.  But there are portions of the book that I find myself unable to defend. Initially I thought this would mean cutting the objectionable parts and reissuing it, but I think cutting parts out of Ruin Your Life runs contrary to the spirit of the book. So I think the responsible thing for me to do at this point is stop publishing it. I have contacted my publisher to have the book be taken out of circulation. It will be out of print and I doubt I will be putting it back in print.

Ruin Your Life had a good run. It sold hundreds of physical copies and thousands of digital copies. I’m happy for the experiences that happened as a result of that book and apologize to anyone who was hurt by anything I said in the book. As always, the reason I portrayed things one way or another was I thought it would be funny. No harm was meant.

For anyone still wanting to get a copy, it is still available on Amazon as I write this. By this time next week it definitely will not be and it could be gone any time between now and then.

Thank you, everyone for your support. Rest assured that my next book, a novel will be out by this time next year at the absolute latest.
– Jack Cameron


Blade Runner 2049 and its Fatal Flaw


I was excited to see Blade Runner 2049. I went to see it with my girlfriend, her mother, and a lifelong female friend of mine. I purchased the tickets for all of us. Many of my friends had said it was one of the best movies they had ever seen. Chris Stuckman on YouTube gave it an A+. Word was that Harrison Ford said it was the best script he had ever read.

So I sat down in the reclining seats of the theater ready to be dazzled. And it was dazzling. There are special effects throughout this movie, but they’re so flawless that I did not spend any time thinking about the CGI. The production design is incredible. Like the original, it looks like a lived in world full of casual amazing technology. Roger Deakins is the director of photography. He’s the best in the business and the way he makes this film look deserves an Oscar. Performances by nearly all of the cast feel grounded in reality and make for an engaging movie. There’s a plot element involving implanted memories that I think is genius. You can find plenty of reviews that will correctly go on and on about how great so many aspects of Blade Runner 2049 are. There is so much to love in Blade Runner 2049.

Sadly, Blade Runner 2049 also has a fatal flaw. The 1982 original Blade Runner had its own flaws. Any movie where your protagonist rapes someone is problematic, but part of the whole point of the original Blade Runner seemed to me to be an experiment in what you can allow the protagonist to do if you just say the people he’s doing it to aren’t ‘real’. It’s one of the things that makes Blade Runner so damn dark. And the culture of the world of 2019 in Blade Runner is fairly misogynistic. (There are literally no female characters in the original Blade Runner who aren’t fake people.) For whatever reason, the creators of Blade Runner 2049 decided that in the 30 years following the first movie that misogynistic side of their culture has been turned up to eleven.

Instead of scenes with women as prostitutes or strippers, BR 2049 chooses to have 200 foot statues of naked women in various sexual poses, it chooses to have giant nude hologram women enticing men. They have a protagonist who has a holographic girlfriend who merges with a prostitute replicant he finds attractive so that he can have sex with both of them at the same time. They have a scene where our antagonist views his latest creation, an adult nude woman who clearly appears afraid. He touches her belly and then he guts her. Some may say these scenes develop character or show off a world that is misogynistic, but sitting next to three women I care about watching these scenes I felt awkward and disturbed.

I am not someone who shies away from graphic scenes in movies. I recognize that some stories require graphic violence, rampant nudity, or even sexism and misogyny, but when these things are presented with no real negative judgment about them, when they are presented simply as a matter of course, when they are presented in such a way that none of the male characters die and most of the female characters die in graphic ways, it becomes something else. There is a responsible way to present unpleasant misogyny in a dysotopian future (see Mad Max Fury Road). Blade Runner 2049 fails to be responsible in this way.

It is really unfortunate that such an incredibly well done movie chose to be among the most chauvinistic movies of the 21st century. For some this won’t be a problem. There are those who are much more comfortable with misogyny than I am personally. Maybe I would have had a different experience if I had not gone with three women I saw cringing and bothered throughout the movie. What I know is that in the year 2017, there is little excuse for a movie that goes so far out of its way to degrade a gender.

– Jack Cameron


A Response To Trump’s Anti-Gun Control Talking Points

So NBC got their hands on Donald Trump’s talking points for his visit to Las Vegas in the wake of the worst mass shooting in America this century. They read like a Greatest Hits of pro-gun bullshit. These are the arguments you see again and again from gun fetishists. And since they are so common and I encounter these so often, I figured I would do myself the favor of countering these all right here so I can just refer the next gun enthusiast who regurgitates this stuff to this page where they can find the appropriate piece of propaganda and see my response to it without me having to type the same thing over and over again.

“Let’s gather the facts before we make sweeping policy arguments for curtailing the Second Amendment. The investigation is still in its earliest stages.”

This is a classic trope. We don’t know enough. It just happened. Have some respect. The investigation is just beginning. Of course none of this actually matters. It could turn out that the guy was from ISIS, obtained his guns illegally, and that no amount of gun laws or regulations would have ever stopped him from his attack. So what. Does a recent mass shooting somehow negate what we already know about gun violence? Of course not. Anyone who wants gun control doesn’t want it because of one incident. They want it because they’re aware that over 120,000 people are killed or wounded by guns every single year in America. I get that 558 of those are in the news right now, but again, even if it turned out that attack could not possibly be stopped by gun control, there are still the other 100,000+ shootings that may very well be cut down by gun control. By pretending that our conversation on gun control hinges on this one incident is to ignore all of the other victims of gun violence.

“The Second Amendment has endured for more than two centuries for a reason: it is a key constitutional right that is meant to protect people’s freedoms, and the President understands that.”

It’s cute how they say ‘the President understands that’. This is the only point at which they say that. Does that imply he does NOT understand the other points? They are correct that the Second Amendment has endured for more than two centuries, but for the most part it wasn’t used to defend the private ownership of guns until very recently. It wasn’t until 2008 in District of Columbia v Heller that the Supreme Court used the second amendment to justify ownership of guns.

I suppose it could be argued that the second amendment is a ‘key constitutional right’, but it’s less clear that it is or was meant to ‘protect people’s freedoms’. People have been arguing about the intention of the second amendment practically since its founding.

“The President believes that our founding principles, like freedom of speech, freedom of religions and the right to bear arms must be protected while maintaining public safety.”

Well that’s great, except that he doesn’t. His administration’s Justice Department is looking into Facebook pages that are anti-Trump with in an effort to identify dissenters. That doesn’t sound like believing in free speech. His Muslim ban makes it clear that if he does believe in freedom of religions, it’s certainly not all religions. And the fact that there are over 100,000 people shot in America every year shows that public safety is NOT being maintained.

“We welcome a reasoned and well-informed debate on public safety and our constitutional freedoms, but we reject the false choice that we can’t have both.”

No, they don’t. If they welcomed a well-informed debate they’d allow and fund research on gun violence. Instead they fight against it. It’s also worth noting that we have quite a few gun laws on the books right now that are not considered even by Trump’s administration to infringe on our constitutional freedoms. Arguing that any new gun control legislation automatically must being infringing on our constitutional freedoms is like saying whatever I’m planning on making in the kitchen must be poison. Until you hear the plans, there’s no way to know if that’s true or not.

“And when it comes to gun control, let’s be clear: new laws won’t stop a mad man committed to harming innocent people. They will curtail freedoms of law abiding citizens.”

Stephen Paddock was a law abiding citizen…until he opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 people and killed or wounded over 500 people. There is this myth trotted out by gun enthusiasts that somehow law abiding citizens and criminals are entirely separate kinds of people and one can never change into the other. It is, of course, like so many of their arguments complete bullshit.

That said, this particular talking point does have some truth to it. A mad man committed to harming innocent people will not likely be stopped by new gun laws. A mad man committed to breaking into your house isn’t likely to be stopped by locks no matter how many you put on your door, but that doesn’t mean you leave your doors unlocked, does it?

New gun laws will not make mass shootings in America a thing of the past, but it could mean less people die. Sure, the new laws won’t stop some determined people, but it will stop others. Just like a locked door stops some burglars but does not stop others.

 “We’ve seen terrorist attacks with knives, by people driving cars into crowds, by hijacking airplanes”

First off, since these are Presidential talking points, does this mean that the Trump administration is finally willing to admit that the Nazi march in Charlottesville was a terrorist attack? About damn time.

Secondly, yes, people have been attacked using knives, cars, and hijacking planes, but that does not somehow negate the 120,000 people who are shot every year. This is like insisting you don’t have a problem with heroin because other people are addicted to cocaine and meth. It makes no logical sense the moment you think about it for a moment.

“Some of the cities with the strictest gun laws have the highest rates of gun violence.”

“This shows that more laws on the books may not work. The problems in these cities and many others isn’t too few gun laws.”

It’s true that the problem in these cities is not too few gun laws. The problem is being surrounded by areas that have too few gun laws. Most of the guns in Chicago come from surrounding areas where the gun laws are lax and thanks to strict gun laws in Chicago, mostly criminals have guns. This is not showing that gun laws do not work. It’s showing that in order for gun control to work in America, it needs to be on a national level. Otherwise you get places like Chicago and Baltimore. Essentially, the Trump administration and many gun enthusiasts simply draw the wrong conclusion about gun violence in cities like Chicago. Whether they do this because they don’t know what they’re talking about or that they assume we don’t know what they’re talking about doesn’t really matter. The fact is that they are wrong.

“Also, we’ve had examples where concealed carry has allowed people to protect themselves and stop a mass shooting in its tracks, such as last month in a church in Texas.”

A recent study shows that for every time a gun is used in self-defense, 34 innocent people die. The fantasy of some John Wayne-type law abiding citizen stopping a gunman intent on committing harm is just that, a fantasy. It hardly ever happens. In fact, if you own a gun and you fire it killing someone, the odds are 2 to 1 that you shot yourself as suicide accounts for 2 out of 3 gun deaths.

“Again, we welcome this debates, but in the wake of Sunday night’s tragedy, we shouldn’t rush toward compromising our freedoms before we have all the facts.”

They do not welcome this debate. Trump has no interest in debating gun control. There has never been a time that he wanted to talk gun control.

As for ‘compromising our freedoms’, it’s worth noting that gun control laws already on the books are not considered by the Supreme Court to be compromising our freedoms. And without talking about specific gun control proposals any allegation that any new gun control law automatically compromises our freedoms can be dismissed as paranoid nonsense.

Finally, let’s put to bed the idea that we are ‘rushing’ to do anything at all about gun control. It has been 18,693  days since 15 people were killed by a gunman at the University of Texas-Austin. It has been 12,132 days since 21 people were killed by a gunman at a McDonalds in San Ysidro, California. It has been 11,369 days since 14 people were killed in Edmond, Oklahoma. It has been 9,486 days since a man drove a car into a restaurant in Killeen, Texas and shot and killed 23 people. It has been 6,743 days since the mass shooting at Columbine where 13 people were killed. It has been 3,825 days since a man at Virginia Tech shot and killed 32 people. It has been 2,887 days since the mass shooting at Fort Hood where 13 people were killed. It has been 1,756 days since the Sandy Hook massacre. It has been 673 days since San Bernardino where 14 people were killed. It has been 480 days since a man went into a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and murdered 49 people.

The LAST thing we are doing is ‘rushing’ to solve the gun problem in America.

– Jack Cameron