Despite a generation of sensitivity trainings and multicultural studies, an astonishing number of people still feel emboldened to express their misbegotten bigotry in very public arenas. Cops and vigilantes alike are caught on tape throwing down racial slurs before they kill, Rush Limbaugh has no compunction about “slut-shaming” for a national audience, and classroom bullies drive a steady stream of gay youth to suicide. In the face of such madness we may be tempted to question the wisdom of the old nursery rhyme:
Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.
That’s what we were taught as children, but as adults we’ve learned a more nuanced understanding of the power of words. We recognize that to call an African-American a nigger, a woman a cunt, or a gay man a faggot is not only insulting and bigoted, it wounds the psyche of the person who’s been verbally accosted.
I been killin’ snakes all my life
copperheads and water moccasins, mostly
and every so often, when I’m ridin’ in the brush
a rattler’ll slide on out and spook my mule
Don’t matter what kind, a’course
I shoot ‘em all with my sawed off shotgun
or use whatever else might be handy
shovel works just fine
I kill them snakes without a thought
Man’s got to protect his family
It was one of those utterly perfect East Bay days. The air so balmy, the sun so bright, people and their dogs walking oh-so-happy, you could easily forget the world was falling apart at the seams.
Brad Browning had been among the happily oblivious until news through the wireless jerked him from his reverie. Now he’s walking down Alcatraz, iPhone pressed up against the place where you get radiation tumors. He’s going for it, neck craned forward, eyes narrowed and blinking like an actor in some gritty film noir.
“Are you ready?” he asks, all terse and manly. “Is this how you want it to end?”
But Brad doesn’t want it to end, not at all. Working with Luna Templeton on the solar-powered car startup was the dizzying high point of his young life. And if Raptor Fund wanted to be their angel investor, well, he was all over that shit. Read the rest of this story »