I Want No Part of Your Bloody Revolution

In 1991 I was a right leaning teenager who did not want to go to war. I was pro-death penalty. I was anti-abortion. I was anti-gay. I was also anti-getting-shot-at-on-the-other-side-of-the-planet. Eventually I met up with some acquaintances that wanted to firebomb the local Army Recruiting station after hours. They called me up to see if I was interested. I turned them down because it seemed like a stupid thing to do and it would not solve anything.

Despite my conservative leanings, I ended up looking more and more at the whole political structure. I started reading Noam Chomsky. I went up to Seattle and watched the documentary Manufacturing Consent based on Chomsky’s book of the same name. And then I had this epiphany: The Republicans were corrupt. So were the Democrats. The whole damn system was corrupt and had been for decades if not longer. We needed a new American Revolution.

1992 was an election year and I would not be able to vote because I would not be 18 until a month after the election. This did not lower my interest in the election. I was angry at George Bush for getting us into a half-assed war. To my mind at the time we should have done nothing or gone right into Baghdad and declared Iraq the 51st State. This kicking them out of Kuwait but keeping Saddam in power and not really stopping them from doing the exact same thing again bugged me. Besides. George Bush Sr. used to run the CIA and was involved in everything from Iran Contra to the plot to sell crack in inner city neighborhoods to help fund more wars in Central America. He was a walking talking piece of the big machine.

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I still have my copy of Bill Clinton’s interview in Rolling Stone from 1992.

When Bill Clinton became the Democratic frontrunner, I had a subscription to Rolling Stone. They did an interview with him involving all of their top writers including Hunter S. Thompson. Each of the writers did an article about the interview. Each of them mentioned how Bill Clinton said he wanted more cops on the street while looking at Hunter. I liked Bill Clinton’s optimism. I liked that he was not an old man. I liked a lot of what he said. But he was a Democrat. That meant he was part of the corrupt machine.

 

And then there was Ross Perot. Perot wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican. He was a short firecracker of a man. A businessman from Texas who was somehow a billionaire. He was using his own money and insisted he could get America running the way he got his businesses running. He wasn’t afraid to say things that were not politically correct. He seemed pragmatic. I liked him. I bought his little book and read it. All I remember from that book is that he said that as a kid he wanted a job where he didn’t have to work outside. He was not part of the machine as far as I could tell. The establishment did not like him and I liked that. But he was a billionaire from Texas and probably not the guy who was going to help the common man. Still, there was something to be said for voting for a guy who was not a Democrat or a Republican because fuck the two party system, man.

I went to see Bill Clinton speak in Seattle during the election. It was an outdoor venue near the waterfront. They played David Bowie’s ‘Changes’ just before he took the stage. Regardless of your opinion of Bill Clinton and his politics, it is impossible to deny his ability to work a crowd. By the end of his speech I was all about this guy. When Ross Perot did a campaign stop, I saw him too and felt disappointed. That guy just didn’t have Bill’s charisma and seemed a bit unsure of himself. I didn’t quite believe Perot actually believed the things he said. I wanted so much to like Perot but I just couldn’t. I liked Bill Clinton, but he was part of the system and the system was totally screwed up and corrupt and needed to be destroyed.

As I said, I was not able to vote in 1992. So I did not have to make a decision. I watched all the debates. I watched Ross Perot quit, then come back, then quit again and completely implode. I watched Bill Clinton win and I thought about how it felt like a turning point for America. There was optimism in the air even though I was pretty sure it was bullshit. I mean I did not expect Bill Clinton was going to do a damn thing about the atrocities in East Timor for example. He probably didn’t even know where East Timor was.

Time passed. I learned more. I watched as Republicans started attacking Bill Clinton for fooling around as if he was the first President to ever do such a thing and saw their hypocrisy for what it was. Sure, the Democrats were part of the system, but at least they did not resort to this sort of character assassination. By this time I had changed my views on gay rights and abortion. I still thought the death penalty was necessary for some people and that everyone had a right to have a gun. But I really could not get past this ‘holier-than-thou’ crap pedaled by Congressional Republicans.

I started thinking about the system. The big corrupt machine. The eradication of the Middle Class. The completely hypocritical and useless drug war. The ‘tough on crime’ bills that ruined lives and did nothing to lower the crime rate and everything to increase the prison population. College was becoming so expensive that your parents had to make six figures or you needed a scholarship or a loan you would be paying back forever. The rich getting richer and richer while the poor weren’t just getting poorer. They were dying. Welfare recipients were cut to five years of service. After five years, you were on your own and could die for all they cared. The safety net for human beings was being erased.

I looked at all of it that I was aware of and came to a fairly disheartening conclusion: I cannot stop it without a lot of people helping me kill a lot of people. You aren’t going to convince the head of Walmart to stop keeping so much money. Talk to any seriously rich person and they will tell you how they are terrified of losing their money. It does not matter how much they have. I could see no way to create the revolution that I felt needed to happen without a lot of blood. And there was no way that blood would be one-sided. There were people who were alive right now who might have otherwise lived okay or even good lives who were going to die in such a revolution. And that’s when I made a personal decision.

I would not fight for the revolution. I understood those who wanted it. I wanted it. But if you seriously fuck with the system, the system will fuck you back. Every time. History is littered with examples. Look at Henry Wallace. Look at JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Look at George McGovern. Look at Edward Snowden. The revolution is tough. It will destroy your life. It will kill you. And each of those people had more money and more power than I will ever have. I am a bug to be squashed compared to those men.

I like Bernie Sanders. I agree with almost everything he says. I donated to his campaign. I have a bumper sticker with his name on it on my car and it’s been there for months. He is right that we need to get money out of politics. He is right that we need a political revolution away from never ending war and towards actual progress for the people of this country. He is most definitely a guy who does what he feels is right regardless of consequences and I respect that. If I were the young man I was in 1992 I have no doubt that right now I would be telling you how Bernie Sanders is our only hope for a sane outcome in this election and that a vote for Trump or Hillary is just more of the status quo in varying degrees. I would be shouting it to anyone who would listen and commenting on any Facebook thread of a friend silly enough to disagree with me because the big corrupt machine needs to be brought down and sure, we can all agree that Trump is terrible, but Hillary Clinton isn’t going to destroy the machine any more than her husband did. I would have ‘B-E-R-N-I-E’ on my forehead in permanent marker.

I am not the young man was in 1992. A few weeks ago I looked at the electoral count and realized that Bernie Sanders simply did not have the votes he needed to become the nominee. In every state he lost someone complained about it being rigged or about some sort of corruption or cheating. Maybe some of it was true. Maybe not. It did not matter. Not really. I was around in 2000 when I watched George W. Bush actually steal an election. This was how American politics worked. It’s like bedtime when you’re a kid. You might not like it or agree with it, but it is what it is and sure, you can change things but that’s not going to actually matter until next time anyway. They are not going to retroactively give it to Bernie.

And so I put my support behind Hillary Clinton. This move upset quite a few of my friends. They did not understand it. They thought I was compromising my values. Their mistake was thinking that just because we endorsed the same candidate we had the same values. That simply wasn’t true. My values are fairly simple. I want to be able to live my life with as few uncomfortable moments as possible while helping as many and hurting as few people as I can. I do not have any interest in being a soldier and I never have.

Hillary Clinton will likely lead us in what will basically be a more conservative version of Obama’s administration. The drone strikes will continue. Guantanamo will not close. And the use of force will always be on the table. But we will get a modest minimum wage increase, continued healthcare, continued gay rights, equal pay for women, and some actual infrastructure funding that is sorely needed. None of those good things will happen under Trump. Trump will not work with the Democratic Congress on anything he doesn’t care about. I drink Coke, but if you’re all out of Coke, I’ll take Pepsi because Diet Coke is terrible. I’m not going to burn the store down because there is no Coke.

Yes, the big machine is still out there making the trade of human lives for profits. In many ways it is stronger than ever. And for that very reason I do not have a lot of interest in directly fighting it. Back in 1992 you had to firebomb a recruiting station to get arrested. These days if you go to the wrong website, you can be put on a list, you can be detained indefinitely without ever being charged with a crime. Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen who spoke out against America, who advocated violence towards American people, who conversed with terrorists, but he never actually killed anyone. He mostly talked and wrote. That did not stop the Obama administration from killing him. It did not stop them from killing his 16-year-old son two weeks later despite his son being suspected of nothing at all. He too was an American citizen. Neither of them had a trial. We live in a very dangerous world where money is the only goal or God and suspicion is all that is needed to have you incarcerated indefinitely or killed. If you want a revolution, fine. But changing things takes time. If you want a revolution right now then it’s going to be bloody and people you care about are going to die for it. And I want no part of it because there is absolutely nothing pointing to that revolution being successful and even if it were, what guarantees are there that it would be any better?

I realize that you could read all of this and simply determine that I am a coward too afraid to stand up for what I believe in. I doubt anyone who really knows me would agree. But to make it clear, yes, I am aware that the entire political structure is corrupt and in desperate need of change. Yes, I am aware that Hillary Clinton does not have a spotless record and does not share every opinion I have. Yes, I am aware that for most of us our wages have gone nowhere, our job prospects are minimal, and in just about any way you look at it our lives could be better than they are. I am also aware that none of this will be resolved before November. You can go on and on about ‘What if this..’ and ‘What if that..’ and tell me all about how Bernie is the only real choice and how anyone who is voting for Hillary must be asleep and not awake like you. Go ahead. But Jill Stein and the Libertarian guy’s name that I can’t even remember aren’t popular enough to win and Bernie is not going to win anything if he isn’t the Democratic nominee. In November your choices are a former First Lady of Arkansas, former First Lady of the United States, Former US Senator, Former Secretary of State and current Democratic Presumptive Presidential Nominee who happens to have a former President of the United States as an advisor and spouse OR you can choose a person who publicly said women need to be treated ‘like shit’, a person who has said he is willing to nuke Eastern Europe, a man who encourages his audience to beat protesters, a man who calls Mexicans rapists, a man who makes fun of people with disabilities, a man who raped his first wife and said it was okay because spousal rape was legal at that time, a man who suggests we should keep lists or have people wear something to signify what religion they are, a man who failed to make money while owning a casino, and a man who repeatedly talks about wanting to sleep with his own daughter.

I know for some of you nothing I say will make Hillary Clinton someone you can vote for. That’s fine. If you want to vote for Trump. That’s fine too. If you want to vote for a third party candidate or write in Bernie Sanders or Minnie Mouse, you can do that too. We at the very least like to pretend it’s a Democracy and no one should take away your right to cast your vote however you want even if that means not voting at all. You have that freedom. As do we all. It your choice.

However, you do not have the freedom of absolution from the consequences of that choice. You do not get to say, “It’s Hillary’s fault I didn’t vote for her because she didn’t court my vote enough.” No. You did not vote for her because you did not want to. People fought and died to make sure you have the right to vote. The least you can do is own that responsibility.

It is easy to get discouraged. It is easy to feel like maybe the world needs a horror like Trump to wake up. Such feelings are understandable but ignore the human cost. It ignores the people who will suffer and die under Trump. Right now bullies are hassling kids and using Trump slogans to do it. If he were President it would be even worse.

I understand that to some Hillary is the enemy and always will be. But you have to choose your battles. You want to fight with all your might to get Bernie in? Go right ahead, but that’s a battle you will not win. I personally think it would be better to vote for the person most likely to work with Bernie when he goes back to the Senate and that is not Donald Trump. It’s Hillary Clinton who voted the same as Bernie 93% of the time.

But damn, isn’t that kind of bleak for a leftist revolutionary? We can’t get the progressive in office so we have to go for the establishment candidate who is just going to give us more of the same of what we have had the last eight years? We can’t take down the machine because it will destroy us? We have to live actually live with this? Yeah, it can be depressing and disheartening if you look at things in a certain way. But I don’t.

Instead I look at this simple truth: There is more good than bad. Don’t believe me? Let me leave you with this story.

I have a good friend named Kristopher Brannon. We went to high school together. He was the one driving the car that took me up to see Bill Clinton back in 1992. For the last ten years he has been tirelessly advocating for the return of the NBA Super Sonics to Seattle as the human mascot, Sonics Guy. He has been to thousands of sporting events, parades, grand openings, festivals, and council meetings. His work is so prolific and inspiring that a documentary was made about him called Superfan. It premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival three weeks ago. After spending the weekend in Seattle for the premiere, Kris came back to his home in Tacoma to find it ransacked. His collection of Sonics jerseys and memorabilia were stolen. So was his late father’s ring. It was devastating. You want to talk about discouragement? Imagine spending a decade making thousands of appearances, collecting hundreds of unique and rare items, and then it’s all gone.

And then something happened. A friend of his started a crowdfunding campaign. She set the goal at a modest $1,000. It would not replace what was lost but it could help get him back on his feet. The $1,000 goal was met in hours. In two weeks that the campaign has been up, over $7,000 has been raised by over 200 people. (You can still donate to his campaign by clicking here.) There’s a benefit concert happening later this month. Kris had his possessions stolen by one person. He was helped by hundreds of people. Yes, the machine is out there and fighting it is near impossible. But there is good right here right now. This will be true regardless of who gets elected in November. It’s important to remember the basic goodness of humanity.

I’m not writing this to convince anyone of anything. I just had some stuff I needed to get out. If it resonates with you, great. If it doesn’t, oh well.

– Jack Cameron

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Bernie über alles

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It is no secret that I am a Democrat. I am fairly vocal about it on my Facebook page, on this site, and elsewhere. In 2008 and 2012 I donated to Obama’s campaign. In 2016 I have donated to the Bernie Sanders campaign. I have a Bernie bumper sticker on the back window of my car. If you ask me who I want to be the next President of the United States out of the current people running, I will tell you Bernie Sanders. And yet that is not enough.

Unlike many of my fellow Bernie Sanders supporters, I believe that Hillary Clinton is an incredibly accomplished woman with the best resume a Presidential candidate has had in my lifetime. I also believe that if Bernie fails to get the nomination, Hillary Clinton is a fine second choice who I will be happy to endorse, support, and help elect. This, for many, is falling short of being a True Bernie Supporter.

To add insult to injury I also feel that what the Republicans want more than anything since they failed to find a viable candidate is for Democrats to rip each other apart and so I refuse to bash Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. I do not see any reason that I should do what the GOP wants me to do unless they pay me. It would seem many Bernie supporters I personally know would prefer to work for them for free.

In the last two days I have been personally approached online and off by multiple friends of mine who are Bernie supporters. Each of them has tried to convince me that Hillary is a terrible Presidential candidate and seem genuinely upset when I refuse to agree with them. Keep in mind these are personal friends who know that I am already a Bernie Sanders supporter. Given the chance to vote for Bernie in the election I will and they know that. And yet, that is somehow not enough.

When I tell people that I feel Hillary is a near equal candidate to Bernie, far too many Bernie supporters get angry. It’s important to note that I said ‘near equal’ not ‘the same’. Bernie and Hillary while both being Democrats are very different. Hillary is a terrible substitute for Bernie. However she is a fine candidate in her own right. I could explain why, but I do not feel the need to. Plenty of others have done a far better job of that than I can.

My point in writing this is to point out that if you treat your allies (who are already voting for your candidate) like the enemy, you are failing at supporting your candidate. In November I will be voting for Bernie Sanders or I will be voting for Hillary Clinton. And I am fine with either choice regardless of how many people might want me not to be.

– Jack Cameron

UPDATE: I was reminded that there is a contingent of Bernie fanatics who believe that Bernie should run as an independent if he fails to get the nomination. This of course is the only hope for the Republican Party to get the White House in November. Splitting the Democratic vote will only help someone like Trump get in the White House. It will not result in a Sanders Presidency. When I point this out these people typically say that Trump as President will just make ‘the revolution come sooner’. These are living, breathing, and allegedly thinking Americans who genuinely want a violent revolution of the United States with apparently no regard for the loss of life that may result. The breadth of the short sighted stupidity on display in this scenario is amazing.

Luckily, Bernie Sanders himself is far smarter than many of his followers no matter how fanatical they may be. He’s said so himself that he’s not running as an independent.

When It Comes To Abortion, There Should Be No Controversy

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The last abortion clinic in Mississippi

 

Abortion is an issue that polarizes people. Anti-abortionists do their very best to restrict a woman’s access to legal and safe abortions all over the country. In Mississippi there is only one place in the state you can safely and legally have an abortion. The state has almost three million people. It also rates second in the nation in teen pregnancy.

Those who advocate for a woman’s right to choose will often argue that since it is the woman’s body and life that is most closely impacted by being pregnant, she should have the choice of what to do about it like any other health issue.

The problem is that those against abortion see the unborn fetus as a living being and think of abortion as murder and there is no argument to be made that will convince most of them that the fetus does not deserve every bit of protection we would give any other human life. This argument has been used again and again both in legislative buildings and in the defense of killing doctors who perform abortions. Given that this fundamental difference is so significant, I will not be arguing for or against it. What I am going to do instead is make an argument about abortion that I believe can be adopted by those who feel abortion is a woman’s right and those who feel it is no different than murder.

I know this sounds like a tall order, but I’m a liberal Democrat and my Dad is a Born-Again Christian who voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and when I explained this to him, he and I agreed. I am genuinely hoping I am able to sway some more people with this because as I see it, there should be nothing controversial about abortion whatsoever.

Before 1973, abortion was not legal in much of the United States. This does not mean that abortions did not occur in the United States. They did. They occurred in unsterile environments with unqualified people who often left the pregnant woman permanently injured or dead. They occurred with women trying home remedies that often left them sick or dead. The only time they occurred with any semblance of safety for the pregnant woman was when the wealthy would hire a doctor to perform them. We know these things happened. We have hundreds of women and relatives of women who have bravely told these stories.

We also know the lengths that some pregnant women will go to in order to have abortions because there are states where anti-abortion laws are so strict that women have had to go to great lengths to get an abortion, including driving out of state, trying one of those home remedies, or getting butchered by an unscrupulous doctor. This is not something that only happened in the past. It happens today.

It is curious to me that the same conservatives who tell me that gun control will not work because criminals don’t follow laws are under the impression that laws restricting abortion will stop abortions. There’s a certain cognitive dissonance there. But if we know laws will not stop or lower abortions, maybe it is time to look at what we know works.

For starters we need to look at the cause of every single abortion ever performed: pregnancy. If we can limit the amount of pregnancies, we limit the amount of people who might want an abortion.

A popular idea among conservatives is to just tell anyone who does not want a baby to not have sex. This is a roundabout way of imposing antiquated religious beliefs on poor people. Sex is not simply for baby creation and it is not something you should only do if you have enough money. Sex between consensual partners is a human right. More to the point, we know that telling people to abstain simply does not work.

If we look at states where abstinence-only sexual education is mandated we find that there is a significant increase in teen pregnancy and STDs. This is because getting teenagers to avoid something by telling them not to do it, is like putting a steak in front of a dog and telling him not to eat it. It doesn’t work. It does not take an expert to understand why those with little cash and lots of hormones might engage in sex. It also does not take an expert to understand why a young woman who becomes pregnant who is poor might choose to have an abortion.

I would love to point to a state where there is solid nonjudgmental, non-religious sexual education, but there really isn’t one. So instead let’s take a look at Sweden where sexual education has been mandatory since 1956. Sweden’s pregnancy rate per 1,000 people is less than a third of ours.

It is clear to anyone paying attention that giving children accurate sexual education helps lower the pregnancy rate and as mentioned earlier, less pregnancies means less abortions.

Even when people are properly informed and educated about sex, they may still engage in unsafe sexual activity, especially if it is difficult to get birth control. This is why we do not just need good sexual education. We need access to free and low cost birth control. Studies have shown that when women have access to free birth control unwanted pregnancies go down. These two things lower the pregnancy rate dramatically and when there are less unwanted pregnancies, there are less abortions.

Now, let’s review:

  • Abortions happen whether or not they are legal.
  • Illegal abortions often put the life of the pregnant woman in danger.
  • Nonreligious, non-judgmental sexual education and access to free and low-cost birth control lowers the abortion rate more than anything else.

Given these facts the only logical thing to do is provide good sexual education, free birth control, and offer safe, legal abortion services for those women who choose to have abortions.

Any other alternative either increases the abortion rate or puts the pregnant woman’s life in danger. In either case, you can’t call yourself ‘pro-life’ while putting a woman’s life in danger or deliberately blocking something you know will lower the abortion rate.

Nothing I have said here is opinion. Each of the things said here can be verified. I’ve included links and there is more information out there if you are so inclined to find it. I welcome discussion, but if you are going to say that anything in this article is not true, please cite your sources.

Ultimately, those in favor of cutting funding to Planned Parenthood or creating new laws that restrict a woman’s right to choose are at best misguided and at worst simply anti-woman. Hopefully this article helps make sense of an emotional issue.

– Jack Cameron

Other Sources:
http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/publications-a-z/597-abstinence-only-until-marriage-programs-ineffective-unethical-and-poor-public-health

My Very First Published Story

It was 1984. I was in third grade. We were given an assignment to write and illustrate a story. Each story would be published as a little book. There would be exactly one copy of each book. Those books would reside in the school library.

I wrote a story called, “The Genie”. It was the first time I’d ever written a story. My teacher looked at it and said, “This is good. You should write more.” I thought she was saying it wasn’t long enough. I offered to make it longer. She said, “No, no. You should write more often.”

“Is it extra credit?” I asked.
“No. That’s not what I mean. You’re a good writer. You should write stories for fun outside of school.”

This was the first time I’d ever even considered such a thing. It was that teacher who made me pursue writing. And it The Genie was the story that started it off.

On the last day of my sixth grade class at my elementary school, I went to the school library and stole my book. I’ve had it ever since.

And now, after spending an evening scanning the pages, for the first time in thirty years, you can read my very first story that I wrote when I was nine years old. Since then my writing has gotten better. My artistic skills have not.

Jack Cameron

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Going Viral

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Exactly one week ago I read an article on the News Tribune website. The article said the following:

A possible suicide attempt at the South 48th bridge over Interstate 5 snarled traffic in both directions Friday afternoon.

The individual jumped or fell from the overpass, and was taken to a local hospital, Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

The individual’s condition was unknown.

Police were investigating the incident, Cool said.

After some digging I found the identity of the person who jumped and a link to a public shaming video. You can read all about this over at my other site TacomaStories.com. Or you can read about it at Daily Kos or the New York Daily News. In the seven days since I posted the article, my post has been viewed over 250,000 times. (To put that in perspective a busy day on TacomaStories.com previously was 500 people in a day.) Dozens of other news sites have quoted from it. There are over 300 comments before I chose to shut the comments section down. For a while it was trending on Facebook. In short, my post about a young girl killing herself has gone viral.

This has been a fairly educational experience for me. After the first day, I was contacted by three television reporters and one newspaper reporter. They all asked me for information I’d dug up on my own that they just as easily could have dug up. One of them asked me for the victim’s family’s home address, a piece of information I don’t have and wouldn’t share with anyone if I did. All of them asked for a copy of the public shaming video I’d mentioned, but by that time the link I had to it had been taken down. I asked around and eventually found someone who posted it on youtube.

The thing that immediately happens when your post goes viral is that you lose all control of anything except the post itself. I chose not to share the public shaming video on my page. I chose not to include the name of the victim or the names of her family members. I didn’t mention the school she attended. I didn’t mention who originally posted the video online (because I didn’t and still don’t know that). Other websites had no such decorum or respect. In some cases the articles mentioned rumors as facts. In the Jezebel article they incorrectly mention my name as ‘John Cameron’ and say I said things in my original article that I never said.

The Daily Kos article unfortunately cites the Jezebel article. (To its credit, the Jezebel article does link back to my TacomaStories.com article.)  The New York Daily News doesn’t cite any other online source at all.

All this attention has resulted in more than a few emails. Some of them are angry and/or threatening. Most of them are thanking me for talking about the issue. I’ve received some emails from the family of the victim. They asked me to shut down the comments section and I agreed. There were also emails from counselors and people who’ve lost someone to suicide and started or joined anti-suicide foundations. I’ve talked to dozens of people I wouldn’t have even known about otherwise.

I’ve also done quite a bit of research on the topics of suicide and public shaming since I posted the article. I’ve learned a lot. And while there’s a part of me that is impressed with all the attention and the conversations about how public shaming is abuse, I would rather it not all have to center around the death of a 13-year-old-girl and the unimaginable pain and hardship her death has caused her friends and family.

I run a website that talks about crime and death among other things so I suppose it’s inevitable that if something went viral, it would involve someone’s death. I have very mixed feelings about that.

Some people have asked me if I’ve received any job offers after all of this attention. I haven’t. And while I wouldn’t mind a new writing gig, I think my feelings on such a thing would be more mixed than ever.

– Jack Cameron

Me and My Dad

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Me & My Dad 1988

My Dad is very important to me. My entire life he has been the moral center of my life. I learned right and wrong from my Dad. I have my Dad’s name. I have his voice. I do not have his values. Despite my upbringing, we have distinctly different moral compasses. This is due in no small part to the fact that he’s a Born Again Christian and I’m an atheist. I’m a former Believer but thanks to my parents, I was encouraged to think for myself.

A few years ago I wrote a book called Ruin Your Life. It was a tongue-in-cheek guidebook on bad behavior. I gave a copy to my Dad because he’s my Dad. When I came by the following week he handed the copy back to me and politely asked that I remove the book from his house. I knew that the book wasn’t going to be his cup of tea. I had no idea he was going to treat it like a brick of cocaine.

This month my second book, 15 Minute Stories was published. It’s a collection of the short stories I wrote in January on this site with illustrations by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas. I told my Dad about it this weekend. He asked if it was ‘R rated’ material. I explained that it was whatever was in my head that day and that it wasn’t all suitable for children. He expressed no interest in having a copy. This did not surprise me. I hadn’t planned or expected that I’d be giving him a copy of it any more than I plan or expect that he’ll read this.

When I tell people about my Dad’s lack of interest in my writing, they tend to think that such behavior reflects bad on my Dad. Why doesn’t he just smile, take the books, and be done with it? I know that it’s because he doesn’t want to lie to me and I can appreciate that.

However, I’d be lying myself if I said I didn’t care. I’ve been thinking about it and I wonder if I’m ever going to write a book that my Dad would be proud of. I’m not one of those people who spends their whole life trying to get their Dad to be proud of them. I know that he loves me and that’s really enough.

A few years ago he had a medical condition that put him in the hospital for the summer. There was a very real chance he could die. I visited him every day. We talked more than we ever have in my adult life. You know those things you’ve always wanted to say to your Dad? I’ve already said them. We’ve had those final talks that so many people don’t get and I’m aware of how supremely lucky I was to have that opportunity and for my Dad to recover the way he did.

Still, it’d be nice to create something he liked. I’m not sure what story that would be or what form it would take. I rarely write fiction with the thought that I should try not to be offensive. I go where the characters and story take me.

Is there a story I need to tell that would suit my Dad’s taste? I doubt it. My Dad likes books, but I’ve never seen him read a novel. At one point I asked him if I could write his biography, but there is much in his past that he does not want to revisit or recount. It’s too bad because he has some great stories from those days, few of them aren’t ‘R rated.’

– Jack Cameron

Want To Lower The Abortion Rate? Provide Free Contraception

ABORTION PROTESTWhen it comes to abortion, most debates hinge on the fundamental disagreement about when life truly begins. Most anti-abortion proponents contend that life begins at the moment of conception and that at that point, the fertilized egg must be treated with all the rights of a human being. Most pro-choice sorts contend that a fertilized egg isn’t a human being any more than a pinecone is a pine tree. This disagreement isn’t the sort that can be definitively resolved because no amount of evidence is going to change either side. And so the abortion debate has gone on for years and years with no end in sight because of this irreconcilable difference.

And so in this article I will not attempt to persuade you one way or another when it comes to when life begins. In fact, for the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that somehow we know for a fact that human life begins at conception. With that point conceded, let’s take a serious look at the issue of abortion.

If abortions truly are killing human beings then it is in everyone’s best interest to make the abortion rate as low as possible. The reflexive response and the response by most Republicans and conservatives is to ban abortion entirely. This is understandable but it fails to pay attention to history.

The first abortions in America were not performed after Roe v. Wade. At the time that abortion was legalized thousands of abortions had already been performed. Most were performed under terrible conditions by unqualified ‘doctors’ that charged far too much money. Many mothers died under these circumstances. The important take away here is that making abortion illegal did not stop abortions. It simply made them much, much more dangerous. People who want to make abortions illegal may have their hearts in the right place, but if their intent is to lower the abortion rate, this isn’t the way to do it.

The absolute best way to lower the abortion rate is to make sure that unwanted pregnancies never occur in the first place. Again, the knee-jerk reaction to this is a sensible one: If people don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex. Naturally, that makes perfect sense. But much like some people will get abortions regardless of what you want them to do some people are going to have sex regardless of whether or not they should have sex.

The problem with many standard Conservative responses to abortion is that they tend to assume that all people will behave a certain way. They assume that if abortion were illegal all women with unwanted pregnancies would not seek out illegal abortions. They assume that if people cannot afford contraception and don’t want to be pregnant they won’t have sex. But the reality is very different.

If you’re looking for something that will lower the abortion rate but still account for those who have sex and do not want children, the best option is to provide contraception. When contraception is free and easily available, the abortion rate plummets. This isn’t just opinion. Studies have shown this to be true.

A common Conservative argument against providing free birth control is that sex is not a human necessity and that tax dollars should not be spent on something like birth control. But if this is your argument against providing free birth control, the question has to be asked: Which is more important to you, saving money or saving the lives of the unborn? Regardless of your answer, providing free birth control is still the correct answer.
Most women who have unwanted pregnancies do not have health insurance. This means that if they give birth, the state is going to have to pay for it. A quick look at the cost of child birth vs. the cost of birth control pills reveals that the cost of one child birth is enough to pay for birth control pills for twelve years. That cost isn’t including all the additional healthcare costs associated with having a new child. It’s astronomically more expensive to pay for a woman to have a child than to pay for a woman’s contraception. If you’re looking to save money and lower the abortion rate, providing free contraception is the simplest and best solution.

–          Jack Cameron