On Cakes, Masks, and Coming Full Circle

As usual, it all comes down to ‘freedom’.

Freedom—that elusive catch-all that Americans (and others) so adore bandying about when they can’t have everything they want.

Not unlike a toddler wailing about the world’s injustices because he was sent to his room for hitting his sister, the concept of freedom is all too often used as a self-serving cudgel against the opposing needs of all other people.

Not too long ago, it was about wedding cakes. A significant group of mouth-breathing idiots felt that they were wronged for being ‘forced’ to make wedding cakes—their job mind you—for homosexual couples, because it violated their sense of religious freedom.

Well, they got what they wanted.

While there was no shortage of protests and boycotts, the general consensus was that a business has a right to serve who they see fit.

A glorious day for ‘freedom’, no doubt.

Perhaps predictably, the muddled minds of the masses have since shifted, and they now want exactly the opposite.

In the age of COVID-19, more and more businesses are opting to require customers to don a mask before entering their store.

Tyranny!

In a turn of fortune that surprised no one, the troglodytic morons are now crying that this choice by businesses is a violation of their precious freedom.

So, I suppose it goes something like this:

When it comes to baking a loving couple a cake, it is essential that businesses have the right to refuse service…because freedom.

However, when it comes to keeping the community safe and enforcing the recommended guidelines of medical professionals, businesses have no right to decide who to serve—the customer’s freedom to spread the plague through their slack-jawed maws trumps all other rights.

To be fair, maybe this isn’t really about freedom. Maybe, just maybe, it’s all about another hot-button word that gets thrown around all too often—entitlement.

There are certain groups—in America and abroad—who are not used to hearing the word ‘no’. Tragically, these are not the toddlers from our earlier example, but fully-grown adults in all but mind and temperament.

We’ve written before about what it takes to live in a society—the give and take, the respect for others, and the understanding of differences. Freedom is not the right to do whatever you please whenever you want, and if it is, then there is nothing to stop your neighbour from exercising her freedom by smashing your skull in. That’s not a free society—it’s the utter lack of a society. Society is about compromise.

Simply, you are not free to hurt others, or put them at undo risk, and if a business has a right to deny service to lifestyles they disagree with, then they damn sure have a right to deny service to selfish assholes who think only of themselves at the expense of those around them.

The mask debate was never about liberty, it’s about a lack of perspective—a failure to consider the experiences or needs of anyone but themselves. It comes from a place of privilege, an expectation that everything should revolve around them. It isn’t about God-given and inalienable freedoms, it’s a reaction to the feeling of frustration that comes with not getting their own way for once.

In short, it’s myopic, misanthropic, and fundamentally miserable.

It’s a pathetic state of affairs, but perhaps the previous analogy can still shed some light on the situation. Like the boy sent to his room for putting his freedom to hit over his sister’s freedom to be safe, perhaps a time-out from society is in order. If a person is unable or unwilling to consider the needs of others—if they are so pig-headed and paranoid that they will openly flaunt their disregard for the well-being of the society in which they live, then perhaps they don’t deserve to participate in that society at all. After all, if they are free to infect and jeopardize others, there must undoubtedly be a corresponding freedom to respond in like-kind.

The wheel never stops turning, and our actions for good or ill inevitably come back again. Just like the fight to refuse service has now come around to bite these hateful ne’er-do-wells, so too may their spite and self-focus smite them in the end.

What do you think?

-Brad OH Inc.

‘That’ Guy at the Bar

 

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

I’d arrived early for my flight, so naturally I found myself at the airport bar having a few last beers before calling it curtains on another fine vacation.

With the thrill of travel still having hold on me, my eyes shot about the room, this way and that, taking in all the different sorts of people gathered. Now, they were no longer the fascinating locals of a strange land, but a mixed assortment of likeminded travellers coming or going to where I would never know.

It was a fairly typical crowd. Young couples with diamonds in their eyes, old men with coals. People exhausted from long treks and people eager to start new ones. And of course, there was ‘that’ guy.

We’ve all seen him before.

Red faced and talkative. Talking too loud, talking too much. Talking too forcefully—too absolutely certain of the value of his long-winded rants, and utterly convinced he was the life of an otherwise non-existent party. He was the kind of idiot you see all the time.

The kind I do my best to avoid. And I certainly tried.

I scrolled through my phone and sipped my beer while waiting on my burger. Still, I’d glance up now and then, taking in the annoyed but patient expressions around him.

He’d already shouted out a young couple sitting on the side of the bar near him. They laughed and waved as they hurried away. I saw his laugh melt into a leer as he watched her take her partner’s hand and leave. Then he fell into blathering to a bunch of young ‘bros’ at the bar, and I figured that would keep him occupied for a while.

My burger arrived, and I thought that was the end of it.

As I finished my meal and got to work on my next beer, I noticed that the young men had been abandoned by their loud-mouthed old counterpart. He was on the other side of the bar now, clawing at some young lady as he bellowed about his life and worth and ‘stories you wouldn’t believe’.

I wondered if she could be his daughter. That would explain the perturbed expression on her face and the patience she showed as he leaned his red face in over-close and tried once more to catch at her arm. How many times had she found him like this?

Or maybe she was just another poor stranger. Perhaps she knew the younger men and was trying to make her way past him to join her companions.

They were staring at their phones now though, and their lack of recognition seemed almost intentional.

She glanced about nervously as he spoke. I felt concerned, but maybe she was just late for a flight and struggling to remain polite.

I caught her eye at one point, and it seemed the look held overlong. Nervously, I glanced away, hoping she didn’t take me for another idiot ready to cast my hand in on the action.

Was he trying to kiss her there, or just leaning in too much under the weight of his drink?

Everyone else stared intently at whatever screen was nearest at hand. But now, I was worried.

He offered to walk her to her gate and she said she would be fine.

He persisted, and she joked that she was a big girl and could handle herself.

She laughed nervously and cast her eyes downward as she tried to step around him. That didn’t work either.

Finally, I felt guilty. I’d waited too long, thought too much.

That’s the point of all this. ‘No’ is a word to be respected. And she’d said it in every way possible while avoiding making too much of a scene.

He was circling around and cornering her near the exit by the time I stood up. I caught her eye again, but spoke this time, loud enough for the bar to hear me above his commotion. “Are you ok there?”

Until that moment, she had held her countenance in a nervous, meek mask of worry and embarrassment. Now, it threatened to break as she leaned desperately around him to answer me, “…no.”

That one did the trick. I turned to him now, giving her my back and clearing a way to the door. He looked up at me with the wry confidence of a man who has been told he was special all his life and finally came to accept it as sacrosanct.

“You need to leave her alone.” Bereft of his banter, I imagine the whole bar heard me. Still, few looked up from their phones. But she took the opening, and darted through the exit.

He held my gaze for a moment in challenge, his ruddy face wrinkling with the supreme disappointment of a toddler being told they couldn’t keep the toy they’d torn from the shelf. Then he shrank back.

“Ok,” he said with a churlish sneer, and slunk off to his seat. He sat back down with the young guys, and soon they were all laughing again.

People kept scrolling on their phones.

I wondered if I was too aggressive, and sat in uncomfortable silence until the bar tender slid over a free beer. “Good man,” he said with a conspiratorial nod.

My vacation was over. She was, presumably, safe. He, I assume, would be unaffected by the encounter.

As I finished up my second beer before moving onto the free one, I reflected on the questions I’d asked myself before acting. The justifications for my potential silence.

Was she his daughter? No.

Was she just a patient stranger? No.

Was she amused by the banter but in a rush to catch a flight? No.

It was clear enough now. It wasn’t about her shyness, or her effort to be polite. Her patience in avoiding a scene didn’t matter, and my reticence to be part of one didn’t either.

She’d said no. At least four times. That was all that mattered, and that should have been the end of it. She should not have had to repeat herself, and if she did the whole bar should have risen loudly to back up her statement and support her choice. But that’s not the world we live in.

It should not have come down to one lone person accepting they would have to be the one to stand up. But I guess that’s where we are these days, and it’s probably well ahead of where we were not so long ago.

I slid the empty cup across the bar and started on the free one. It was cold and smooth.

‘That’ guy at the bar. I thought about the term. It should mean something different. Not the pushy idiot who has no place in the bar to begin with, but rather the ones willing to speak up for those going unheard.

I wondered, if I ever saw the moment to be ‘that’ guy again, would I hesitate?

No.

-Brad OH Inc.

Brad OH Inc. Featured on ‘GonzoToday’

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgToday on Brad OH Inc., we have a special item for all our dear readers. Rather than a new weekly post, we’re happy to share this article we’ve published through our good friends at GonzoToday.

Writing about the Insane Clown Posse and their ongoing legal battle against the FBI is nothing new for us, but when we were offered a chance to write something for a site like GonzoToday, we were happy to take the opportunity. Needless to say, this is a GonzoToday exclusive, and cannot be posted here (see publishers…we’re open to negotiations!), so follow the link below and check out our new article, ‘The Clown in Chief and the Juggalo Army’.

Click Here for Article.

-Brad OH Inc.

Homeless

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI press my back against the cold stone of the bridge and take a long breath. Soon, I hope, I will rest.

The night is cold, and the fragile white light of the moon settles indifferently upon my open bed.

Tonight, I am homeless.

It isn’t the first night, and it won’t be the last. The day’s warmth still lingers in the grey cement of the support beam, and I know that despite everything, this night will be better than others.

It’s been coming for a long time. I’d been drifting—circling the drain for longer than I can recall. I knew where I was headed, but not the way to change the course.

All my life, I’d been told that working hard would get me ahead.

My hands are calloused, yet I feel far behind.

I’d been told that treating others with kindness and dignity would surround me with friends.

When I smile at strangers, they look away.

The homes around me are bright and warm.

The heat bleeds out of the bridge, and the chill sets into my bones.

I can talk to anyone—and do more often than not. People tell me that I’m so very like them—like I could be one of their friends, or someone they grew up with. I’ve heard it from vagrants, and students, and businessmen and politicians and cooks: ‘You’re just like me.’

But I am alone.

I have no tribe, and nowhere to go.

I have a reckless devotion to duty, but no one to serve.

I can walk with anyone, but rest with no one.

I’m very much like them, yet not quite enough.

I have owned property, held jobs, and loved well. I’ve never felt at home, found my purpose, or been certain of being loved in return.

The world can be cold indeed, and as the sun sets, it is sure to be colder still.

It’s not shelter I long for. Not in the end.

They say that ‘home is where the heart is’. They say it all the time.

There is nowhere I could call home, and so this bridge will do.

Tomorrow, I may find those things, and have my doubts dissolved. Tomorrow I may find that the promises of my youth were, at long last, true indeed, and that there is love and kindness and decency in this world. I may discover that virtue still burns in the hearts of man, strong enough to warm the depths of even the most frigid night.

Tomorrow, all those things may finally happen.

But tonight, I am homeless.

It is the least of my concerns.

-Brad OH Inc.