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
Amy’s father had recently expired while swimming laps in his retirement community’s pool. There was no lifeguard on duty so his body waited patiently until a fellow swimmer noticed it and alerted authorities. Something of a lonely death, true, but he went out doing what he loved to do. No IV drips, interminable dementia or ass-baring hospital gowns. Just — poof — you’re done. Everyone agreed it was a good way to go.
Amy’s last lap was likely to be more turbulent, according to the neurologist in whose office she sat, listening to him yammer on about her options. Read the rest of this story »