As the State Turns: All the Same Things, Expecting Different Results

stateturnssymbolState Ballot Measure Seeks to Ban Thing That Should Already Be Banned
Despite federal bans on elephant testicles, tiger balls, rhinoceros horn, cheetah… cajones, and similar parts of jaguars, sea turtles, and whatever the bloody hell a pangolin is, Oregon officials say that the stuff is getting into the state anyway. Apparently there’s a legal loophole that stops agents from opening a can of whoopa*s, involving some kind of inability for the Federales to operate on a state level… yadda yadda yadda, we’ve heard it all before, homies.

Anyway, this new measure is supposed to fix all that, but it’s worth noting that a similar measure was shot down last time around because some people were concerned that it would interfere with the “legal” trade of elephant ivory, which is used in guns, instruments, old jewelry, etc. I mean, maybe we should just stop bandying about with our animal part-tipped antique dildos, but that’s just me thinking out loud.

Hopefully the new law will mark a clear difference between legal monkey dongs and illegal chimpanzee udders.

Oregon School Report Cards… Huhwut?
This year, the “report cards” for Oregon schools won’t have grades. That seems kind of effed up, considering elementary, middle, and high school students are still getting them, but whatever.

Basically, the feds had this to say to Oregon: “Look, bro… you don’t have to get rated this year. We know those new standardized tests are a bitch. Additionally, tons of kids opted out of the Smarter Balanced exams, and… oh my lord, I’m so bored with my job.”

So what do we get instead of grades? A lot of numbers. I’m serious folks, one of them was 297, another was 14, and another was even 81. There was rumor of a 177, but I didn’t see it myself. What do they all mean? Sorry, I don’t get paid enough to interpret the data. They had something to do with tracking student mobility (::radio sounds:: “We have eyes on Billy Smithers, he’s moving northbound to the 7-11”), looking at percentages of students qualifying for free lunch, etc. There’s class size information, too, which we’re all very excited about.

Oh hey, they found out poor people move a lot. That’s new, right?

Governor Appoints New Corrections Secretary
That’s right, folks, Governor Jay… Inslee. Wait a second, of Washington. Never mind, nobody cares what he just did. See: Washington.

Multnomah Homeless Deaths Stack Up
Back in 2011, Multnomah County started counting homeless deaths. So far 191 people have died on the street, 56 of which were just last year in Portland. Those issuing the report say that there have likely been more deaths than the numbers reflect.

The county chair, Deborah Kafoury, called the deaths preventable but… well, there’s really no good news here. These are people dying out on the street, alone.

Homeless experts had a bunch to say about it, but it’s the same stuff they’ve been saying for decades.

Seeking a Clearer Picture
Chris Mintz, the man shot several times in defense of his classmates during the recent Roseburg mass shooting, recently released a heartfelt statement. It’s actually one of the most intense things I’ve ever read, both horribly sad and scary as hell. The way he articulated things made me sick to my stomach. I’m not going to go into the statement itself, but there is part of a single line I want to pull out and discuss before I finish up this edition of “As the State Turns.”

“He had a black shirt on, a shaved head, was tan and wearing glasses, he was so nonchalant through it all, like he was playing a video game and showed no emotion.”

I was a junior in high school when the Columbine massacre went down. I experienced firsthand the kind of discrimination and misdirection that came from statements made by fear-mongers at the time linking things like video games to the violence—a rock that easily obfuscates ulterior motives. Study after study has found no link, but it’s too late… it’s a part of the narrative. It has become an absent-minded description to help explain away something we aren’t sure how to by any other means. Like “evil.” Words and phrases and ideas get eaten up like this sometimes.

That said, please don’t get me wrong: this has nothing to do with Chris Mintz… his words were inspiring, honest, and very human. I’d love to buy him and everyone else there that day a beer. The misappropriation of blame, or whatever you might want to call it, was obviously not the intention of his statement… but it does illuminate the broken way in which our culture has adapted to deal with these tragedies, and it gives us another opportunity to look at how we’re coping. Even if it might seem a trivial point, it’s something tangible to examine.

And frankly, I’m not ashamed to analyze this into dust. People are walking into schools, malls, theaters… and shooting people. That’s a fact. It’s something people are actually doing and it’s totally bonkers. They say we have a cultural problem, and I absolutely agree, but culture only changes when those of said culture change… and that only happens when we escape all of the false dichotomies and distractions, stop summing up horrible acts as senseless “evil,” and truly take a look at the nuts and bolts of our society.

By Johnny Beaver

(Sorry, Beaver, but blame and innuendo make for political fundraising success, awesome Facebook memes, and the false sense of security that one can know what the hell is happening before the painful work of some actual examination. ~ Ed)