A Call to Christian Men (and to Decent Human Beings)

I am privileged to welcome my friend Erica to Accepting Responsibility for a guest blog post. The Isla Vista mass murders resulted in a vigorous discussion about femicide, misogyny, and the persistent disrespect that–according to the #YesAllWomen tweets–men show to just about every woman on the planet. Erica is a devoted follower of Christ and a student at a college known nationwide for its traditional conservative values. Her words are courageous, perceptive and show a wisdom beyond her years.

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 You might remember the blog entry I wrote, telling women they are not responsible for how men think of them and reminding men that they cannot hide behind the excuse of “boys will be boys.” I find myself going back to those thoughts now, in the wake of the Isla Vista shooting and the number of articles, tumblr posts, and #yesallwomen tweets I’ve read recently.

So, Christian men, listen up. I am addressing you, not all men ever, because you have a responsibility here that I would like very much for you to think about.

As a Christian man (and, honestly, as a decent human being), you have a responsibility to call out any maltreatment of women around you. When you are out, you have a responsibility to watch out for the women around you. I don’t know where you spend your days, but I can tell you it’s not only at bars and parties that women are made uncomfortable by men. I was riding my bike to the library a summer or two ago and at least one man whistled at me, possibly because I was wearing shorts. That is not a compliment. If you try to tell me I should take the jeering of men as a compliment, we are going to quarrel. Because I was not complimented. I was scared. I was scared, and this was in the middle of the day, in the middle of town. It was unlikely that the man who whistled at me would have done anything else, and perhaps he truly thought he was complimenting me.

But here is why he was not: There is a really high chance he was bigger and physically stronger than I am. I was also on a bike, and I was stopped at the train station because there was a train coming. I could not go forward, and he was behind me in a car, so I could not go back. If he had really wanted to, he could have forced me into his car and I would probably have been able to do very little.

Yes, that is an unlikely scenario, especially considering it was the middle of the day. Yes, I understand that not all men are like that. The point, however, is that I was scared, I was uncomfortable, and if you are a Christian man and you ever catcall, whistle, or make any kind of remark about a woman’s body, you are not behaving in a Christ-like manner at all. Furthermore, if you see someone doing that and you do nothing, you are validating and normalizing that behavior. (As a side note, here is an excellent article called What Men Can Do to Stop Street Harassment, which, as stated, tells you four things men can do to help stop street harassment. There’s a comic included that has some language, so watch out for that.)

The other thing I need to point out is that you have the responsibility to look after women because you, as a man, are much less like to get raped or killed or physically/verbally abused for standing up for a woman than a woman is for standing up for herself, and the man doing the harassing is much more likely to respect you, a fellow man. (I can’t find any research for that, though I’ve looked extensively, but… it’s the truth. Saying “I’m not interested” somehow translates to “Please try harder,” while “I have a boyfriend/I’m married” translates to an actual “no.” Here is an article that further explains this phenomenon.)

Also, if you need another reason, Jesus’s ministry was startling positive towards women, especially considering the times. You’ll note, I hope, from His treatment of women that He thinks them worthy of protecting even when society says they are not (John 8:1-11).

And before anyone says it, it is not my fault for getting whistled at. Do not ask me how short my shorts were. In the first place, I was biking four miles from my house in June or July; was I supposed to wear pants? But the greater point is, of course, that while yes, less is more and all that, no woman gets dressed with the hope that they will be made uncomfortable by a man/men in any way, shape, or form. I was wearing the clothing I was wearing because it was the most practical, and not for any other reason.

Women are not to blame for the bad behavior of men. Men are responsible for their own behavior. Yes, I understand it is harder for you, men, to maintain purity of thought when women show off their bodies. I don’t think that, as a girl, I can understand exactly how difficult it is for you, and I’m sorry for the times I’ve made it more difficult than it already is. But I have not caused you to sin. Your sin is on your own head, just as mine is (James 4:17). We will all stand alone on Judgement Day, and God will hold us accountable for our thoughts and our actions (Romans 14:12). God will not allow you to place blame on another person for your conduct.

Obviously, you are also not responsible for the conduct of other men. But I am asking you, as a sister in Christ, as a female, and as a person who is so tired of being afraid of men until they prove me wrong, to point out to other men their hurtful and harmful behavior, to listen when women say no and have compassion for their fears, and to show me and every other women with your actions that it is, in fact, not all men.

I should add that men also face street harassment, abuse, rape, etc., and I do not intend to belittle their pain in order to bring attention to the pain of women. Perhaps I should say as a close, then, that where we can safely do so, we should call out harassment and abuse for what it is and help the victim. Where we cannot safely do so, we should notify the proper authorities. We should always, always, always provide support to the victim, because it is never their fault. We should also teach our children, especially, (but also as many others as we can) to respect other people and other people’s bodies: “Just because I move through a public space does not mean my body is a public space.” Which is to say, please be a decent human being and encourage others to do the same.

Click here to see Erica’s original blog post

For a related Accepting Responsibility post, see a piece I wrote a couple of years ago called My Lust, My Fault.

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We Are Not Responsible

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We were driving down the Interstate at 70 MPH. (OK, maybe it was 72 or 73.) Just ahead of us was a dump truck with a big sign on the back. I pulled a bit closer so I could read it, assuming that if a sign was posted on the back of a truck, the sign contained important information for anyone following the truck. This is what the sign said:

Not responsible for objects falling from truck

I immediately slowed, trying to put some distance between us and the truck. But not fast enough. A clump of dirt landed with a thud on the windshield. Thankfully, it caused no damage.

First, I caught my breath and tried to will my heart down to my normal 65 beats a minute. Then I considered the irony of the sign’s placement: one could read the sign disclaiming responsibility for falling objects only if one got close enough to be at risk of damage from debris sailing out of the truck’s bed. Finally, I wondered if the truck owner’s attempt to absolve himself of liability for careless conduct would catch on and become a trend. I considered the possibilities.

Is there anyone who hasn’t seen their share of those we-are-not-responsible signs posted in retail establishments across the country. How about this sign in a restaurant: “Watch your hat and coat! We are not responsible for stolen or damaged clothing.” Or this sign at the dry cleaners: “Not responsible for damage to suede or leather.” How about this sign at a motel pool: “Swim at your own risk.”

It’s bad enough that stores turn somersaults trying to lure you inside to take your money and then once you’re inside they engage in even more contortions to avoid liability for any bad thing that might happen to you while they’ve got you inside. I suppose once I finally get a thumbs-up from the restaurant hostess that she can seat me and my wife, I can turn around and walk right out once I see the sign telling me that the place assumes no responsibility to care for my personal items while I’m paying them big money for a meal. I suppose I also have a choice to pack up my family and check out of a motel–a motel that lured us in with the promise of a swimming pool–once the kids and I are about to jump in the pool and I see that the place is assuming no responsibility for our safety while we use the pool that they built and maintain. It’s not much of a choice, but I guess I do have a choice.

But what about that dump truck? Do I really have the ability to make a choice to avoid harm from the truck owner’s failure to cover the load and protect me and other motorists from falling-object damage? Not really. Can one free oneself from the duty to take reasonable care to protect others from a danger one creates simply by posting a sign that disclaims any such duty?

So, will the truck owner’s attempt to absolve himself of liability for careless conduct catch on? If the attempt to extend the we-are-not-responsible principle becomes a trend, I can see all sorts of avoidance-of-responsibility possibilities. Maybe I can get a sign myself and attach it to the rear of my car:

Not responsible for careless, reckless or drunken driving

If that works I may get another sign and attach it to the back of my shirt:

Not responsible for thoughtless, hurtful or slanderous remarks

And perhaps my Facebook page could announce to all the world:

Not responsible for unwise, ill-considered or malicious choices

I’m not sure what those signs would do for those people who are forced to come in contact with me in the course of a day, but it sure would make my life a whole lot easier.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? When I post a sign on the back of my dump truck telling the world I’m not responsible for any damage to you or your car from junk flying out of the back of my truck, it makes my life easier. I no long have to buy a tarp to cover the load. I no long have to train my driver to firmly secure the tarp to the truck bed. My life gets easier–and less expensive too! But it exposes the public to a danger which it cannot reasonably avoid. Life gets a little harder, a little more dangerous for everyone but me.

Hear the words of one of the great philosophers of our age:

A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.
–Winnie the Pooh

If, instead of looking for ways to avoid responsibility for our conduct, we take reasonable care to protect others, the world becomes not only a safer place but also a friendlier and more civilized place. That makes all the difference.

Mistakes in the Land of the Supreme Leader

Being Supreme Leader is not a bad gig. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un got the job after his father, Kim Jong Il, died two years ago. Dad had been Supreme Leader for 18 years, getting the job after his father, Kim Il Sung, passed away after 46 years at the helm. A Kim has been the totalitarian state’s Supreme Leader ever since the Korean Peninsula was split into North and South after World War II. It’s great to be Supreme Leader. Your picture is plastered all over the country. School children sing your praises daily. The country is always throwing parades and declaring holidays in your honor.

No, Supreme Leader is not a bad job at all. Except when things go terribly, tragically wrong. There’s no good way to explain mistakes in the land of a Supreme Leader because Supreme Leaders do not make mistakes. But under the communist rule of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK), there is no shortage of bad news. Two years ago a United Nations report generated a boatload of bad news. It found that under the Supreme Leader’s watch:

  • “[S]ystematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In many instances, the violations found entailed crimes against humanity based on State policies.”
  • “The State has used food as a means of control over the population. It has prioritized those whom the authorities believe to be crucial in maintaining the regime over those deemed expendable.”
  • “Military spending – predominantly on hardware and the development of weapons systems and the nuclear programme – has always been prioritized, even during periods of mass starvation.”
  • “The key to the political system is the vast political and security apparatus that strategically uses surveillance, coercion, fear and punishment to preclude the expression of any dissent. Public executions and enforced disappearance to political prison camps serve as the ultimate means to terrorize the population into submission.”

There are two ways that Supreme Leaders deal with bad news: (1) Ignore or (2) Deny. Except that last week there appeared a third option: Apologize. An apartment house under construction in the capital city of Pyongyang collapsed. For some reason, more than 90 families were already living in the partially-constructed building. In what may win the award for 2014 Understatement of the Year, the official North Korean news release revealed: “The accident claimed casualties.” 90 families. A North Korean family typically numbers four. Do the math.

Uncharacteristically, a parade of highly-placed North Korean officials stepped up and apologized.

  • Minister of People’s Security Choe Pu Il “said the responsibility for the accident rests with him as he failed to uphold well the [WPK’s] policy of love for the people. He repented of himself, saying that he failed to find out factors that can put at risk the lives and properties of the people and to take thorough-going measures, thereby causing an unimaginable accident.”
  • General Officer of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces Sonu Hyong Chol insisted that it was he who “was chiefly to blame for the accident as he was in charge of the construction. He expressed heart-felt consolation and sympathy to the victims and the bereaved families and said he was making an apology, his head bent, to other Pyongyang citizens who were greatly shocked by the recent accident.”
  • Chairman of the Pyongyang City People’s Committee Cha Hui Rim “said that the party has always called on the officials to become genuine and faithful servants of the people but he failed to have the proper control over the construction of the apartment houses as a man responsible for the living of the citizens of the capital city, thereby causing such a serious accident.”
  • Chief Secretary of Phyongchon District Committee of the WPK Ri Yong Sik “said that seeing for himself the victims in the scene of the accident, he felt as if his heart were falling apart and was too shocked to cry. He added that he could not raise his head for his guilty conscience as he failed to protect the precious lives of the people so much valued and loved by the party.”

As admirable as it was to acknowledge the tragedy and accept responsibility for it, note what these officials did NOT do: Blame either the Communist Party or its Supreme Leader who together have held North Korea in their iron grip for more than six decades. To the contrary, the government news release began with this assertion:

It is the consistent stand of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the state to prioritize the interests and conveniences of the people and hold them absolute and protect their lives and properties.

And the Supreme Leader himself? The news release assured the world that Kim Jong Un “sat up all night, feeling painful after being told about the accident … .” President Harry Truman famously had a sign on his Oval-Office desk that read: “The Buck Stops Here”.  My guess is that no such sign has found its way to the Supreme Leader’s desk. Supreme Leaders do not make mistakes. And they don’t apologize.

Top Ten Ways to Raise a Damaged Kid

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10. Criticize the person, not the action. When she bends the rules in a board game, loudly exclaim: “You’re such a cheater!” Never indicate that you know she’s capable of doing better by saying something like: “I’m disappointed in you. It’s not like you to break the rules.” Let her know you expect the worst from her, and she’ll work at being the best. Kids like to prove their parents wrong.

9. Praise the action, not the person. Never say “Thank you for being a good helper.” If you do, your kid might start thinking of himself as a person who helps others; helping others might become imbedded within him, a part of his character. Instead, say this: “Why should I thank you? You’re just doing what you’re supposed to be doing.” Best case scenario: Ignore his helpful behavior altogether and speak up only when he’s being selfish.

8. Demand conformity. Say stuff like: “Stamp collecting! You’re such a weird kid. Why aren’t you playing video games like everybody else your age?” Her life will be easier if she goes with the flow and follows the crowd. And, after all, it’s your job to make her life as comfortable and pain-free as possible. A round-hole world is not kind to square pegs.

7. Schedule his every moment. Childhood is brief, and how kids spend those childhood hours is way too important to be left to kids. After all, he’s got a lot to learn. If you leave it up to him, he might waste those years laying in the grass watching clouds roll by or taking your kitchen clock apart to see how it works. A programmed kid is a productive kid.

6. Live vicariously through her. Thank goodness for second chances! Life unfairly prevented you from realizing your dream of dancing on Broadway, but let nothing stop you from getting your daughter there. She might think she wants to be a marine biologist, but you know how happy she’ll be when she’s a big New York star. And the road to stardom begins with dance practice before school and gymnastics afterwards. Your kid is a sculpture: you can chisel her into the person you know she’ll want to be. She’ll thank you later.

5. Protect him from failure and unhappiness. You hate to see him unhappy. And isn’t it your job to make him happy? To keep him from pain? To ease his way? To catch him before he hits the ground? He’ll have time when he’s an adult to learn how to deal with a challenging and difficult world. And he’ll find out soon enough that he won’t succeed at everything he tries. Right now you’d better call his college professor and fix things: Baby got a B- in calculus!

4. Praise intelligence, not effort. If you constantly tell her how smart she is and ignore how hard she works, she’ll learn that effort is worthwhile only if it results in victory and achievement. Challenges must be avoided at all cost because she might fail. She’ll learn that looking smart is more important than learning.  And who doesn’t want a kid who looks smart?

3. Reward only success. Let him know that failure is not an option. Discourage experimentation; it might end in failure. The world hates losers. (Do you want your kid to go through life with a big “L” stamped on his forehead?) If his worth is totally tied up in his success, he’ll make sure he never fails because that’ll make him unworthy of your affection. So he’ll only try things when he’s sure of success. And he’ll never fail. Mission accomplished!

2. Make her the center of your universe. Let her know she is the most important part of your life. That’ll send her self-esteem sky-high. Say things like: “My daughter is my whole world!” When it comes time to pick between her and your spouse, always pick her. When she whines about going to Sunday School, stay home from church with her. And never leave her with a baby-sitter; there will be plenty of time for spiritual growth or romantic moments with your spouse when she leaves home. At age 30. Or 40.

1. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Make it clear that you want him to be a better person than you, and so he should listen to what you say and ignore what you do. He needs no model to show him how a mature, emotionally-healthy adult acts; all he needs to do is shut up and listen carefully to you. After all, kids invariably listen attentively to parental lectures–no need to back up those words with actions.

Full disclosure: The author is the parent of two children who somehow turned into well-adjusted adults despite him and his mistakes.

Top Ten Words to Keep Out of an Apology

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Almost everyone feels to need to make an apology at one time or another–no one of us is perfect–but surprisingly few of us know how to do it well. A good apology should be direct, sincere and pure. It should contain three elements: (1) a clear and unqualified admission of what I did wrong, (2) an expression of sorrow for what I did to you (including an acknowledgment of the harm I caused you) and (3) a commitment, to the extent it’s possible, to make things right (including a description of my corrective actions). But it’s hard to spit out those words. I want to make myself look good. I want to make my bad choice look not-so-bad. And I want everyone to know that I’m not as big a jerk as my actions make me appear. So I tend to let these ten words sneak into my apology. None has any place there.

10. Apologize. Ironically, the word “apologize” does not belong in a good apology. “I apologize” is a lukewarm substitute for “I’m sorry”. Even worse is its black-sheep cousin: “I want to apologize”. Instead of saying that I want to apologize, why don’t I actually apologize by saying “I’m sorry”? Even worse than “apologize” is yet another close relative …

9. Regret. Just say “I’m sorry”. “Regret” is a weasel word I use when I choke on the word “sorry”. If “sorry” was a beer, then “regret” would be “sorry lite”. “Sorry” means: “I feel bad that I did this to you.” “Regret” means “Gosh, I wish that hadn’t happened.” Which leads me to another blacklisted word …

8. Happen. A poor apology obscures my responsibility for the harm that resulted from my bad choice. “Happen” is my ally in that  effort, as in “I’m just sorry all this had to happen.” Using the word “happen” implies that the harm done to you was the end result of an unavoidable chain of events, not anyone’s fault–bad luck, really. Better to say it this way: “I’m sorry I talked about you behind your back and betrayed our friendship.” Also avoid the use of happen’s good pal: “occur”. And those two bad boys like to hang out with …

7. Incident. This is another good word to add to my avoidance-of-responsibility arsenal. It can be effectively used to mask my thoughtless actions, as in: “I regret the incident.” It helps me evade responsibility by failing to describe what I did and failing to identify me as the culprit. Just an unfortunate series of events. Close by “incident” in the dictionary is yet another word to avoid …

6. Inconvenience. This is a great word to use when I want to minimize the seriousness of the harm I caused you. Businesses are notorious for using it to downplay the impact of their mistakes, as in: “We may have failed to keep your personal financial information safe and secure from hackers. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this may cause our valued customers.” That reminds me of another word never to use …

5. If. When I apologize, it’s not a question of IF I made a bad choice, it’s a question of WHAT bad choice I made and HOW that choice hurt you. “If” is frequently paired with its evil cousin “offend” to come up with this non-apology: “If I offended anyone by saying that NASCAR fans are beer-swilling idiots, I am truly sorry.” Is there anyone on the planet who thinks that statement would provide the least bit of comfort  to stock-car aficionados? It not only repeats the insult but fails to acknowledge its undeniable offensiveness. But the real fault lies in the way it throws the burden back on the victim, saying in fancier language: “If you are so thin-skinned that you took offense at my humorous remark, then I guess I have to apologize.” It reminds of another word that often fouls up an otherwise good apology …

4. Sincere. Or its partner in crime, “truly”. If I have to say that I “sincerely apologize” or am “truly sorry”, then chances are that the apology is not at all sincere and the sorrow is far from true. One cannot make an apology sincere by saying it is so. It is up to the apology’s recipient to decide whether the apology is sincere and the sorrow is true. If I use those words in my apology and then I’m called out on it, I may be tempted to say I …

3. Misspoke. Politicians use this word a lot. I’m not sure what it means, but I think this is it: “I accidentally said what I really think, and it’s landed me in hot water.” If one means to say “cooperate” but says “copulate” instead, that’s a true misspeak. Don’t laugh, I did that. In front of my pastor. Twice in a row. True story. I was tempted to blame someone else for my embarrassing error by using one of these unacceptable words …

2. He, She and They. Third-person pronouns have no place in an apology. It’s about two people only: me and you. Sure, I might not be totally to blame for what was done to you, but an apology is no place to bring that up. It’s a place for me to acknowledge my part in the harm you suffered and to ask forgiveness for it. Those pronouns are often followed by a conjunction, the #1 word that should never be found in an apology …

1. But. Just as apology is no place to introduce third parties who may also be at fault, it is no place for me to introduce extenuating circumstances that might mitigate my fault. “I’m sorry I ran the red light and T-boned your car, but the sun was in my eyes.” Even worse is to use “but” to argue that the recipient of the apology bears some of the blame too. “”I’m sorry I ran the red light and T-boned your car, but you should have known that nobody stops for red lights anymore.”

There may be a time and a place to discuss others who may be at fault. And perhaps at a later date the victim of my poor choice might be interested in hearing how I came to make such a choice and why I’m not really the heartless human being that my current conduct seems to indicate. Just maybe the recipient of my apology might be generous enough to initiate discussion of his or her part in the entire incident. But when making my apology, I need to set those aside. It’s about me, what I did to you, how sorry I am, and what I am going to do for you to try to set things right. Don’t diminish the quality of an apology–and thereby diminish its potential to effect reconciliation–by cluttering it up with any of these ten words.

Accepting Responsibility for “Dangerous Behaviors”

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I ate a chocolate donut Saturday morning. It had chocolate frosting. And a rich creamy filling. I didn’t need to examine a nutritional label to know that it was lousy with sugar, probably corn syrup. No doubt it contained bunches and bunches of trans fats too. But it was good. Oh so good. I washed it down with a hot cup of Starbucks coffee, dark roast loaded with caffeine, a robust brew that gives me a jolt with my first swallow.

Should I be able start my weekend with a delicious donut and a hot cup of eye-opening coffee? Or must the government step in and protect me–after a hard week at the office–from my Saturday-morning urge to eat a sugar-infused ball of fried fat? I’ve been an adult for decades now. I’m reasonably intelligent. I work out six days a week. I’ve had an annual physical ever since I started seeing age 50 in the rear-view mirror. I have run more long-distance races than I can count. And nothing hangs over my belt when I zip up my jeans. Can I be trusted with responsibility for my own food choices?

Some people say “No”. A recent New York Times op-ed piece, “Rethinking our ‘Rights’ to Dangerous Behaviors”, argues that government needs to take responsibility to make food choices for me and the rest of us. The author ominously begins his essay with these words:  “It has become increasingly clear that food companies engineer hyperprocessed foods in ways precisely geared to most appeal to our tastes.” In other words, the businesses that supply me with food are making products that taste good so that I will buy them. This, apparently, is evil.

And what’s a do-gooder scare story without some dark corporate conspiracy cast as the villain. In this tale it’s “an alliance of corporations, banks, marketers and others that essentially promote and benefit from unhealthy lifestyles”. In other words, they make money by giving me the food I want to eat. This cabal “designs products that are difficult to resist and sometimes addictive”! This tactic–Warning! Hyperbole Ahead!–“poses greater threats to our existence than any communicable disease you can name”. (Really? My chocolate donut is more dangerous than smallpox? Polio? HIV? Ebola? The Plague??) The remedy: “[R]eturn to the public sector the right to set health policy”. In other words, get the government to stop companies from selling me food that I want to eat.

How about trying another strategy that not only respects our freedom but also promotes good health and personal responsibility? Why not educate the public about healthy foods? Why not encourage easy-to-understand food labels so I know what’s in the food that companies are trying to sell me? Why not explain to me how good food choices are directly linked to longer life and more years to spend with the people I love? And then let me take responsibility for my own food choices. The problem, I fear, is that do-gooders don’t like the food choices that I–and the rest of you–are making and want to make those choices for us.

And another thing: corporations are not inherently evil. They are just amoral devices designed to give us what we want. If we decide that we want highly-caffeinated, over-priced beverages, Starbucks rises up and turns a profit. If we decide that local-produced, organic food is what we want, Whole Foods springs forth and makes a bunch of money. Apple just made news by rejecting a stockholder proposal to eliminate Apple’s environmentally-friendly initiatives. Perhaps one reason it did so is that consumers are rewarding Apple for its stewardship of our earth by purchasing more iPhones, iPads and iPods. It has learned that green is good for business. Corporations are organizations designed to make money by efficiently giving us what we want. They will offer us healthy and humanely-produced food–and make money in the process–if we demand healthy and humanely-produced food from them.

A government does its citizens no favor by accepting the responsibility to make good choices for their supposed benefit. In a free society the government educates its citizens about the impact of their choices and encourages them to make good ones. But it leaves to its citizens the responsibility for those choices. And that entails accepting the consequences of those choices if those choices turn out to be ill-advised.

I know those orange gumdrop slices have no nutritional value. But they bring a smile to my face when I treat myself with them every once in a while. And I’m not a big red-meat guy, but a good hamburger every now and then adds quality to my life. And here’s my little secret: I bought two of those chocolate donuts. I saved one for later. It’s calling to me from the kitchen. I just may say yes to that call. Right now.

Top Ten Prison Demands of Anders Breivik

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Anders Breivik is a mass murderer. On July 22, 2011, he bombed a government building in Oslo, killing 8 people, and then proceeded to an island youth camp where he stalked and killed 69 children. His goal was to get publicity for his anti-Muslim, anti-woman views. He was convicted of the 77 murders and sentenced to the maximum prison sentence Norwegian law allows.

Apparently prison is not to his liking. He is threatening to go on a hunger strike if the warden doesn’t meet his 12 non-negotiable demands. Among them are a larger gym, a comfy sofa for his cell and a replacement for the obsolete PlayStation2 on which he’s been forced to play his video games. The Washington Post article I read doesn’t reveal the other nine complaints, but this is my guess of what they are–with one more to make it an even top ten.

10. Dancercise class offered only three times a week.

9. Prison chef failed to graduate from Ecole du Cordon Bleu with high honors.

8. Valet leaves too many wrinkles when ironing hankies.

7. Inadequate supply of those paper umbrellas for pool-side Mai Tais

6. Wait staff persists in serving from the right and clearing from the left.

5. Broadband speed too slow (took an agonizingly-long ten minutes to download Shawshank Redemption).

4. Beaujolais is served at a nauseatingly warm fifty degrees.

3. Evening chocolate on the pillow is a prosaic Swiss variety, not Belgian prime.

2. Martinis are stirred not shaken.

1. Justin Beiber on the prison sound system!

DISCLAIMERS:

–Yes, I am aware that 77 murders are no laughing matter.

–Yes, I am aware that all prisoners–even convicted mass murderers–deserve humane prison conditions.

—-But, really. A sofa and an updated PlayStation? Part of accepting responsibility is working one’s way through the consequences of one’s choices.