Here's an email I got this morning before the show even ended:
Thought Nine was a little harsh on the man on War of the Roses today with the girlfriend & the bounced check. I agree it sure seemed like he has a problem & it's probably a drug problem. Just wasn't too cool to put that pressure on him. He's the one dealing with it & its important to be understanding & compassionate & Nine seems like he would get that. He seems more educated and caring than that when you guys talk about addiction problems on your show. Caught me off guard & disappointed me some. Just wanted to let you know & see what Nine has to say about it.
I like an email like that! Anytime somebody calls me out but doesn't get all mad about it, I get happy because it's an opportunity to discuss some differences of opinion in a civilized manner instead of yelling like dummies. That's how we make progress in the world, y'all!
P1 Brat-21 was not alone in thinking I was harsh on the guy this morning. Maybe I came off harsher than I wanted to. That'll happen from time to time. Especially with me. I always had that pre-pubescent kinda voice on me. Still kinda do. But the last 15 years or so spent smoking and drinking have eaten away at the throat enough that sometimes my normally feminine tones can carry a little more weight.
But seriously, I sincerely hope I wasn't a dick to that guy on the show today. He seemed like a nice enough guy. We've all known plenty of addicts who were very nice, good people we loved and cared about. That's the problem. Without that firm accountability, people they love start to become victims - like a girlfriend covering a bounced rent check because there wasn't enough money to pay for the month.
I've probably dealt with addiction more than most non-professionals you'll ever run across. Friends and loved ones here and there have always fought some pretty tough problems. I come from a long line of alcoholics. Personally I'm blessed. I've never shown too many addictive tendencies besides to cheeseburgers. I've always been able to pick it up and put it back down, no matter what it was. A big part of that is being so terrified of the gripping control addiction has held over people close to me.
I can't claim to be an expert. I don't want to be an expert, for the record. Not on addictions and dealing with them as a third party. I'd rather go to my own funeral than have to see someone through an addiction again. It's the least fun thing I've ever done.
Everything I said to the guy this morning was meant to hold him a little accountable. Not to me, or the show, or the P1's necessarily but at least to the live-in girlfriend who's paying all the bills because he's short on money. That's a telling sign how far an addiction has gone - no matter what the addiction may be. Once you start taking advantage of those close to you, putting them in compromising positions, taking from them what you otherwise wouldn't - you're becoming a parasitic addict and you must find help for it. Everybody knows the first step to recovery is admitting to yourself you have a problem. Shortly thereafter is accountability.
In short, my goal was to help him help her help him. Sorry if it didn't come off that way.
This here's a bit of a Rise Guys secret. It's a thing you hear over the years from people who come clean on War of the Roses or Truth & Consequences or just the other people on the show. I firmly believe it to be the truth.
There's a soul-cleansing, weigh-lifting-off-your-shoulders, utterly freeing, liberating sense of relief when you can bare your soul to everybody all at once like that. Your friends might hear. Your co-workers might hear. It might lead to trouble. But getting something heavy off your shoulders and out in the air is good for you. It's one of those really hard things to do. You can walk up to it, but taking the plunge takes a fair amount of testicular fortitude. Once you take the plunge, you come to realize it's hard for the same reason anything else is hard - it's good for you and it's worth the effort.
The George Zimmerman verdict came down at an odd time. Seems like it would lessen the impact, but the word spreads just as quickly on Saturday night as on Monday morning in this day and age.
We talked about it some on the show, but we never made much of it. We don't regularly talk about ongoing murder cases because we want to send people off to work and home from work in a good mood. The news is bad every time you see it, hear it or read it. We aim to have a more positive impact on everybody's frame of mind in the morning.
Basically, news people can't make their own news. It is what it is. We can choose to do whatever we want and it seems to us people are in a better mood talking about cartoons and where that girl put that boa constrictor.
With these special cases, things can get way out of hand. It doesn't take a genius to realize every news network is making truckloads of money with their Zimmerman trial coverage. It's an all-out ratings battle with all of America dragged right into the middle of competition and greed fueled by a real tragic incident in our society. The lines begin to blur. The tragedy is lost and it's become a cultural event.
For the record, I am of the mindset that ten guilty men walking free is better than one innocent man serving time. I value freedom over security. I always think it could be me on trial before a jury of my peers. Only, a jury of my peers is not a jury of my peers. My peers would be similarly aged men of similar mindset & I'd never be guilty of a crime I didn't commit. The reality is, one of the only things that comes to mind when someone asks me what I'm afraid of is that possibility I could one day find myself on trial for something I didn't do. Not just that. I could be found guilty of that crime! A nightmare.
Being of that mindset, I can see where there is a reasonable doubt in the Zimmerman case. Considering the charge and the trial and the case, I conclude there is a reasonable doubt.
So, if you ask me if George Zimmerman is guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin, I'd say not guilty.
Ask me a different question, though. Did George Zimmerman do something wrong? Quite possibly. Could the conclusion be reached that George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin? Certainly, but there is a reasonable doubt and I've been told he's innocent unless proven guilty...beyond a reasonable doubt.
Am I saying George Zimmerman is right and Trayvon Martin is wrong? No. That has nothing to do with what the jury has been asked to decide.
Do I agree with the law in Florida that leads to George Zimmerman being not guilty? Well, it doesn't matter if I agree with it. It doesn't matter if the jury agrees with it. That is the law. That is the law their decision must be based on. They can't intentionally misinterpret it. They can't re-write it. Their job is to decide, given the facts of the case, if George Zimmerman is guilty of murder according to the laws of the state of Florida.
Most important question...Did it even have to happen? Of course not. And there are a million billion things we all can do to get better. Instead, we will argue. Guilty! Not guilty!
The one thing we can all agree on is it sucks that people are being shot dead in our streets. It sucks that situations lead to shootings. Self-defense shootings suck for the very fact someone has to defend himself from another person. So we'd all like it if things like this didn't happen. It would make sense if people came together over something like this. We could do that. We won't do that. We don't pull our own puppet strings.
Ultimately, we are the ones who decide if Trayvon Martin's memory means anything. If it brings people together, it does. If it makes us argue, we've lost it and it really is a life wasted. Wasted entirely by us.
Here's a thing on guns!
In 2011, 323 people in America were killed with rifles (assault or otherwise, the FBI doesn't specify) while 1,694 were killed by knives and 728 were beaten to death with fists and feets. Handguns were responsible for 49% of all US murders in 2011. I'm beginning to think we'd be safer if we only had assault rifles. Handguns killed around 6,200 people in the US in 2011.
Gun murders are down 50% in 20 years, another 20% in just the last 8 years, and lower than at any point in the last 40 years.
On the down side, nearly two-thirds of gun-related deaths are suicides. Having a gun in the home significantly raises the suicide risk, because shooting yourself is a lot easier than slitting your wrists. Instant, and no looking back or changing your mind once it's done.
A Harvard study of firearm suicides looked at the 15 states with the most guns (39 million people, 47% gun ownership) Vs the 6 states with the fewest guns (40 million people, 15% gun ownership) - the states with the most guns had 9,749 gun suicides as opposed to 2,606 in the states with the fewest guns.
In total, 14,809 suicides in the states with the most guns and 8,056 suicides in the states with the fewest guns.
To see guns as a problem isn't totally wrong, but it may be short-sighted and a failure to see the bigger picture.
To see assault rifles as a problem is...utterly unfounded.
Not viewing guns as a symptom of a greater problem is as foolish and short-sighted as thinking guns are the entirety of the problem.
The problem is obvious. It's staring us in the face and it afflicts everyone in one way or another. Be it directly or indirectly, you've seen it, faced it, and most likely ignored it completely because it's so very difficult to understand.
Mental illness is the problem. Mental illness is the entirety of the problem. Guns are a symptom of that. So are scars on kids' arms, diaries they leave behind, things they say, things they write, the way they act. Guns are a final symptom of a problem that has been ignored because it's happening right in front of plenty of people who choose to ignore it rather than face the reality that a friend or a loved one is mentally ill. Parents don't want to admit their children are mentally ill. Wives don't want to admit their husbands are mentally ill. We ignore the coworker who seems a little bit "unbalanced" or "off-kilter" or "just not quite himself lately."
It's a lack of humanity that leads to this. There are symptoms before anyone picks up a gun, either to turn it on himself or to harm others. Those symptoms are evident at some point to someone - but no one did anything about it.
You can look at mass shootings in history. Adam Lanza showed symptoms to the people close to him. So did James Holmes. Charles Whitman sought medical help before murdering his wife, mother, and 15 other people while injuring another 32 at the University of Texas in 1966. His own doctor thought nothing of his headaches and violent mood swings. His suicide note requested they examine his brain to see what was wrong with him. They found a tumor compromising a part of the brain involved in emotional regulation.
There's a discussion we should be having, but we aren't. We're busy arguing extremes with opposite extremes.
On one side, you have people who make money off the firearms industry. On the other side, you have people who've been deeply, personally victimized by crimes involving guns. I mean Gabrielle Giffords and the parents of the Newtown children. Clearly, the people who stand to make the money from the guns are not the ones to listen to. Neither are the people who've been directly and permanently scarred by gun violence. Neither of these parties can view the debate objectively. One side has a very large monetary stake while the other side has an even larger emotional stake.
It's right now that the 90% of us in the middle need to stop watching politicians play this game in the senate and the house and eventually the supreme court. We need to hold accountable our senators and congressmen. We need to force them into have the discussion we need to have and address the state of mental health in America.
Not only that, we need to hold accountable every political commentator trying to treat this like sports. If it's somebody on Fox News acting like Jim Rome or somebody on MSNBC acting like Skip Bayless, or some talk radio host putting on a Smith & Wesson hat and perpetuating the problem every day of his life - this is something we can easily impact. We can hold these people accountable. We can call bulls&*t on their bulls&*t and tell them this isn't Around the Horn. This is high-stakes real-life and it even outweighs football.
We can strong-arm them into not treating this like a football game where one team wears red and the other wears blue. It wouldn't be hard to do. Just start asking the question. Instead of picking a side on Facebook, ask the question. Instead of regurgitating what pundits say on TV, ask the question. Call them, write them, tweet them, facebook them. Just ask the question. They'll be forced to answer it because we'll just keep asking us.
This gun control issue is, effectively, like going to the emergency room after being shot. You're bleeding to death. The doctor is concerned your blood pressure is low. It's low because...you're bleeding to death. Rather than stop the bleeding, he gives you something for the blood pressure. You're still going to bleed to death.
I like to think you'd call your doctor out on that one. Someone standing there would. One of the nurses. Your family. An EMT. Someone with some sense.
That's what they're doing to us, and we just nod along because who are we to question our doctor? We're the ones who will bleed to death if we don't ask that question.
You're being lied to and you know it. You're being misled and you know it. Do you want to pick a side to fight on when no one is right, or do you want to stand in the middle, with 90% of your fellow Americans, and steer this ship in the right direction? All you have to do is ask that question. I'm going to. Every chance I get. Anybody who bothers to listen.
This goes for people on either side of the argument. There is a clear problem. It's obvious what it is. If you're pro-gun, your side of things refuses to acknowledge that problem. By doing so, the NRA is doing you a disservice and failing to be basically socially responsible.
If you oppose guns, you can hopefully see they are a symptom of a much larger problem we should deal with before we continue this debate. Failing to address a problem as large as the mental health crisis in America is also a complete lack of basic social responsibility.
Clearly guns are not the whole problem. Susan Smith didn't have a gun. Neither did Andrea Yates. That video of the lady in Texas running over her husband, then backing up over him, then running over him, then repeating that a few more times? She was not driving a gun.
Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Dennis Rader, even Lizzie Borden - none of them were known for using firearms, but you know them all for brutally murdering people.
The Manson Family used guns, but they preferred to stab, cut, bludgeon, beat, and brutalize people in a far more personally physical manner.
Chris Benoit didn't have a gun. He strangled his wife to death with an electrical cord and killed his son with a wrestling hold before hanging himself with the cables on his Bowflex.
The Unabomber never shot anybody.
No one at the Boston Marathon was shot.
Mental illness will find a way. A gun is a highly effective tool. Modern-day pistols and rifles and shotguns are all real genuine marvels of engineering and design. They're highly functional, incredibly reliable tools. They're an unfortunately easily accessed, easily accessed tool that can be dangerous in any hands. But even without guns, mental illness has always found a way and it always will.
The gun conversation needs to continue. It needs to be a conversation, though. This shouting match will get us nowhere. No one will be happy. We'll all just hate each other a little bit more.
Joining together, though, and addressing mental health in America is the kind of thing that shows us how much we have in common with the people we disagree with. It gets us talking rather than arguing and that's the key to it all.
Start with, "Why aren't we doing anything about this?" "What about mental illness?" "Isn't mental health the real issue we're facing?"
Once those questions can't be ignored, we move on to the next round. "Why do these people feel like outcasts?" "Why are these people so deeply depressed and disconnected?" "How can we help these people?"
Before you know it...progress! Let's just try it and see. I guarantee it won't be any worse than what we've been doing.
DISCLAIMER: I'm not a lawyer. I have no authority in the realm of constitutional law. I come to you only with common sense and a general ability to read English and interpret the words presented to me. On the bright side, the 2nd amendment is only 27 words. If it were to come along today, it'd be attached to 40,000 pages of miscellaneous whatnots. Luckily, 27 words! This, I can handle. Maybe.
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
There's the complete text of the amendment. What does that tell you? Does it appear vague in any way? Many ways? It kinda is, I suppose.
One thing people seem to agree upon today in America is: My right to bear arms shall not be infringed.
Always a but.
In this case, what constitutes that well-regulated militia? Who regulates this militia? I have questions not being answered by anyone. The reason no one has answers to these questions is because this was never addressed at any point in the history of America as far as I can tell. So, it's up to us to ask ourselves what constitues a well-regulated militia. Now, me and my buddies carrying AR-15's through the woods - we would be responsible gun owners and I bet no one would get hurt. But in what way would we constitute a well-regulated militia? Take them out of it. Let's say I have a personal arsenal. Am I a well-regulated militia? I'm not being regulated by much of anything. I'm not a militia, am I? I'm just one dude. For that matter, where does it say anything about assault rifles or semi-automatic handguns or high-capacity magazines, or pump-action shotguns or...any specific type of firearm? When it was written, they had black powder. Muskets. I don't believe they even had flintlock pistols, but maybe! So, who's to say this applies to an assault rifle more than one lone gun? It could be that I, not belonging to any well-regulated militia, have no right to bear arms...right? It could also be interpreted that same way to say very few people have any right to bear any arms as very few of us are members of any type of well-regulated militia. We're just dudes who own guns. So you tell me how much you know about that, based solely on the text of the amendment. Not on what anybody told you. Not on how you want it to be, but how it is. Please, lemme know what you come up with.
It's Friday evening in Spartanburg, if you hadn't already figured that out. After freezing rain and sleet all day, the roads are pretty bad in a lot of places and everyone is home trying to keep warm on the coldest day we've had all winter. It is what it is.
I left a bottle of Jack Daniels in the toolbox on my truck. I don't have much use for tools at the moment, but I have some ideas in mind for that bottle of whiskey.
There's only one thing that could get me out of this house right now and she ain't calling. Here's to the night, the ice and the smile on my face I can't quite explain. Y'all be careful. Stay safe. And Rob Ianuario has your back if it ever gets too hairy. He's good at that.
We are really, really dumb. It seems to me that America's primary forum for political discourse is now Facebook. It makes sense because dumb people are way more into politics than smart ones. The only smart people into politics are the politicians. Everybody with yard signs, car stickers and tooooo much time devoted to the cause...they just need a hobby. Especially the other 3 years of the cycle. Or maybe they just enjoy misery. I'm sure some of them just enjoy misery, but most of them need a hobby.
Facebook is where gun control is playing out! The argument! The argument where no one listens to the other side. Or responds to the other side. Or talks to the other side.
In case you're one of these people, I'll give an example of how a discussion goes.
You: Look, I feel this way about this.
Me: Well it is too bad you feel this way about this. Hopefully we can ease your fears and find some middle ground because I disagree with the way you feel about this.
You: I kinda think we should do this.
Me: I don't agree with that. I think we should do this.
You: Well I don't agree with that, but how about this?
Me: At least we're making progress. Not quite. How about this?
Eventually, you get a result out of that. Eventually you get results out of discussing anything. As long as you're an adult discussing something with an adult. Facebook gives us the opportunity to be mean and hateful and really lose the argument. So does Twitter. TV news. The internet in general.
Meanwhile, we are allowing politicians to do exactly as they wish because, as usual, they are smarter than the people they're playing like puppets.
I guess what I am getting at is pretty simple. Stop being childish and ignorant. If you see someone doing it, stop them from doing it too. Negativity only breeds more negativity. Remember that next time you're being a jerk just because he can't punch you over the internet.
Death pools are a pretty morbid concept. We brought ours back to the show this year and I enjoy it, but at the same time I realize what it is we are doing and I have some internal questions about it. Then I thought about the texts people send us wishing death upon us when they've disagreed with us. Its a regular occurance at 72341 when we discuss certain things. The only thing I can gather from this is that we are living in a negative time and place. Not really a mystery there if you ask most people. Our death pool is just a reflection. Most anything we've ever done to offend anyone has been a reflection of the world in one way or another. It may be getting under some skin because the truth, or a vague reflection of it, can sometimes suck. So we root for old people to die?
I saw yesterday where a friend made a Facebook post about having a mean old snake in her living room. I told her I was unimpressed by her snake-handling skills because I figured she wouldn't be the type to be afraid of a snake.
I am not afraid of snakes. Cautious for sure, but not afraid of them. I dig them. They interest me. So I armed myself with a bucket and a broom and a machete and went calling to see if I could remove the reptile.
The monster in question was approximately 18 inches long and about as big around as a dime at the fattest part. Also, it was already dead from an attack by the family cats. So I scooped a dead snake into a bucket with a broom and left that house a hero! I felt like St. Patrick, but less Irish and totally sober at the time.
If you've listened to our show for a while, you know I draw a college team from a hat each season as my official team to root for. I have a bit more fondness for the Gamecocks than for the Tigers, but I never swore allegiance to either because warring family (house divided, brother!) tugged at me to go both ways till I finally went neither way as a kid. That brings me to drawing it out of a hat!
Last year, Purdue. This year, Florida State. Years past, Presbyterian, UNC and a team or two I don't really recall.
With Purdue last year, I had a mediocre team struggling to go for .500. With FSU this year, I have almost a sure thing now that they've beaten Clemson. Looks like nobody else in the ACC is going to have much for them. Sadly. I like when it's interesting, like last year with Purdue. This year, it's just beating people up and it takes all the drama out of the wager between Maffew and myself.
I haven't heard much from FSU fans this year. I know they're out there. I know some of them, but man they don't socialize much with football fans as best I can tell.
The Purdue fans last year were super friendly. They'd go to Bailey's to watch all the games and they invited me out to watch with them. When I saw them out in public, they were friendly and excited and super nice. This year, FSU fans have been silent while they watched the Noles run up the polls and dominate everybody, including Clemson. I think a tradition of winning will do that to you. A tradition of mediocrity and struggle builds character. Winning too much robs you of it.
I've been thinking about this because I think about things in my spare time and I have more spare time than most people can ever dream of. If you have the spare time to read this, I'm shocked. I have the spare time to read the complete works of Shakespeare once a week. And go fishing twice.
I have a very minor young guy who isn't flat broke problem on my hands. It concerns my free time.
I have a vacation coming up in a few weeks. Once again, I can't figure out where I want to go or what I want to do with myself for that week I don't have to work. I have a truck, myself, and I can go anywhere. I can do anything I want that week.
So, naturally, I struggle to figure it out given the infinite number of possibilities for my leisure week.
I see the girls I know on Facebook. They take vacations together when they are single. Men operate a little differently. We'll go off for a weekend, but we know better than to spend a week straight with our buddies because we wind up temporarily hating them when we do that. You ladies, though. Y'all can go to the beach for a week, on a cruise together. Pretty much anywhere you wanna go, and you always have friends who want to do it with you.
For a single man, what is a vacation? You're gonna go try to meet women, and you might get lucky one or two nights, which is still pretty lame since you've been on the prowl for the better part of a solid week. You're gonna drink. Probably a lot. You're gonna sleep a lot. You're gonna eat by yourself at bars. It's what we do as men.
Last time I had a week off, I never decided where to go, so I spent the week in Greenville doing pretty much the same thing I would've done had I gone somewhere else. I guess Hedonism is the answer, but the nudist colony in Chesnee is more in my price range.