Way back in 1992 it was considered deviant to have a tattoo.

People with tattoos fell into categories like punk, artist, biker and the formerly incarcerated. This meant that I wore a watch over my wrist tattoo until roughly 2015 when it had became de rigueur for women to celebrate their 50th birthday by getting a lower back tattoo.

In a world filled with sleeve tattoos my tiny wrist bracelet doesn’t even register.

With our current 24/7 social media access it now seems nearly impossible for anyone to separate the “personal” from the “professional”, let alone hide a tattoo that probably hits Insta while its still raw.

We caution students from the moment they own a phone that everything online is permanent. So savvy students and adults alike learn to block photo tags, or try to scrub all evidence of red solo cups, vape pens or too much skin from their various accounts. But as we see in the news every day a screen shot by a friend (or enemy), a comment on a post, a snarky retweet – nothing ever gets completely deleted.

This is one reason I’ve never made any attempt to hide my blog. My rants and ramblings range wide and far: from my work with clients, to my family relationships, to politics, my childhood and all sorts of general frustrations & irritations.

Folks don’t need to dig too deep to find out about me. I want them to know up front the kind of person I am. The flaws I have (that I’m currently aware of), and the feelings that I am not interested in hiding. That way everyone knows what to expect when they hire me – enthusiasm, strong opinions, living out loud and living in color.

Those folks out there who engage in doxxing can unveil and excerpt and drive all kinds of outrage both online and in real life. I’m not sure what the desired outcome really is for the doxxers when they “out” someone, I just know when I see one of these incidents play out it always seems like a perfect opportunity for conversation.

But conversation often becomes irrelevant in the face of the outrage machine where everything is right or wrong, you’re either with us or against us. Nuance has become elitist, changing your mind is selling out and every hill is the hill to die on.

This is another of those rambly posts that may or may not enhance my reputation, but writing serves its purpose as I mull over whistle blowers and folks being asked to resign over a tweet, and those who humbly apologize when their “blackface photo” is revealed, and those retreat into their white fragility.

Way back in 1992 – the same year I got that tattoo & wore my hair in braids for a while – I used this song as an anthem to open (and close) a show I directed. The question “What’s Going On?” is just as relevant today even if the fashion now look quaint.

amanda with braids 1992
dressed to MC a Battle of the Bands

The discussion, debate, screaming and posturing over the Edward Snowden leak   about the NSA Prism program is at a fever pitch. I haven’t met anyone yet that doesn’t have an opinion on what “trade offs” are acceptable for the ongoing safety and security of the American people.

I don’t happen to come down on the side that thinks you should willy-nilly violate civil liberties with laws, policies and presidential powers that will never, ever be undone. If you have read my previous political rants this isn’t news. My inherent liberal biases aside, the case against Snowden deserves extra attention for a number of reasons.

First, for some perspective, its important to know that the Germans are accusing the US of Stasi-style surveillance which gives you an idea of the gravity of the choices our government is making right now. These folks know from privacy invasion! They think our government is getting into dangerous territory so perhaps we should take note. When Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel  scolds Obama later this week, because of political pressure or because of her real concerns, there will be no ambiguity about how folks over in the EU feel about these developments.

The folks who are downplaying the gravity of the NSA trolling through massive amounts of data are doing so by saying Google & Apple are already looking at every key stroke to sell you stuff so whats the big deal? This is a very weak argument that will still manage to reinforce the attitude of millions of average US citizens who just don’t give shit about privacy or civil liberties. I think of this as the “Nothing to Hide” crowd. Their letters to the editor invariably conclude with “If you have nothing to hide, it wont matter if [the government swabs your DNA, taps your phone line, puts you on a terrorist watch list etc.].”

Short-sighted thinking like this is best cured by personal experience.

Most disturbing to me is the post 9/11 idea that we cannot have security and civil liberties at the same time. This is a false dilemma. How can we continue to allow the government to continue to make choices to violate our liberties based on the vague fear of “future harm”? The absurd American privilege of being complacent and uninvolved in politics is changing the landscape of who we can be as a nation in the future.

I anticipate a run of political rants on this blog in the next few weeks.

And just between you and me Diane Fienstein calling Snowden’s leak “an act of treason” is grandstanding. Because she cannot reveal the information deemed treasonous (we just have to trust her) she should be more circumspect with the name calling. Future harm is speculative at best and does not constitute a reason for hyper vigilance in my book. I’m sure I am not the only one reminded of the “Minority Report” poster.

The Future Can Be Seen. Murder Can be Prevented. The Guilty Punished Before the Crime is Committed. The System is Perfect. It’s Never Wrong. Until It Comes After You.

Its really hard to miss the coverage of the damning evidence uncovered about Joe Paterno’s complicity in the Penn State sex abuse scandal. I even read the sports page today to see what would be said now that it was clear a winning record does not, in fact, absolve sins.

Many people are still reluctant to allow that “one act” to interfere with their hero-worship, even though it turns out that “one act” was a 13-year cover-up. His family released a delusional, if expected, statement about what Paterno would have done “if he had understood what Sandusky was”. Of course Paterno never actually talked to Sandusky about his actions or the allegations, so he never had to understand. Pretty typical denial behavior, followed by a denial of the deniers intentions. This snake could eat its tail all day.

I have written about Sandusky and Penn State before. There are many, many problems with how all the adults behaved from 1998 – 2001 when Sandusky was finally instructed not to shower with children at Penn State, not the least of which is the fact that no one – Paterno, the university President,  Athletic Director or the VP – thought to protect a single child. The culture that made this not only possible but expected is what should be under scrutiny now.

Its not just about football, its about power and fear. Doing the right thing is punished as often as its rewarded. Even if its not public whistle blowing, coming forward after the fact like Roger Boisjoly, the messenger usually experiences retaliation. When the janitors and McQueary saw criminal behavior being committed against a child, they knew they were in a culture of power and protection. And in that culture, weighing their own risk, they had to make a moral decision. At least McQueary rattled the lockers to make Sandusky stop that one time.

How do you shift a culture like that? Those janitors knew without a doubt they would be fired if they said anything against the Sandusky or made the football program look bad. I know McQueary didn’t do all he could but he did something.

Will Penn State be forced to advertise their ethics Hotline? Will anyone use it? These Hotlines are usually so buried that workers have to be truly motivated to find the number, understand how to be anonymous, make a report and then follow up that it was investigated. Will they find a way to support the reporting of child abuse? Educate their students, staff and faculty?

More importantly will they go beyond a Mea Culpa to transform what they expect ethically of everyone at the institution? As of July 12th Mike McQuery is out of a job.

There’s a start.