This Lovely Southern State of Mississippi

So, there’s several things happening (or not) right here in this lovely southern state of Mississippi.  I am being insincere with that lovely bit.  This state may be where I’ve lived out my entire life so far, where most of my memories are, where I feel a great connection to the land… but this state is far from lovely on a lot of points.  The weather, for one, has never been my cup of tea, and it’s only getting worse, but technically that’s not the fault of the state as in land and trees just doing what they do.  Besides, one good thing about Mississippi is how rural it is; as we hardly have any factories, so have hardy any of that type of emission… and we’re not big cattle people.    So, the weather is just a technicality, most people residing here love it.

However, barring any unsavoury history, because we all know the atrocities of Mississippi, historically speaking; but on most counts it seems just as backwards as it ever did, sadly.  People do make strides, but then other people like to take it back about fifty steps.

First off, we still have controversy over our state flag.  We did vote back in the early 2000’s on a proposed design.  I did speak about this before, but after the Charleston church shooting, this came to the forefront again.  I wrote about how I voted to keep it the same, because the proposed idea was just as bad.  An equal hark back to the “better” times of the antebellum south and it was a really stupid design.  Once the issue came up again in 2014, however, pictures circulated on the proposed flag from that time, which as I wrote, was not the flag that we voted on.  No one in my family ever saw that flag.

It’s also not the first time I’ve written about voter suppression in this state or cock-ups regarding voting in this state, in this precinct or that, or in my city.  I speculated whether that new flag was never put on the ballot and something else that no one would ever vote on was added because the ultimate goal was to keep the current flag.  I wouldn’t put it past Mississippi.  Or was it just an erroneous mistake for my area of the state, getting the wrong ballots.  That wouldn’t surprise me either.

So, the old flag overwhelmingly won in that early 2000s vote, which if everyone else in the state saw the flag my family and I saw, it’s no wonder.  It looked like a kid drew it in the dark.  Anyways, since then, our legislature refuses to open this up for discussion, citing that “the people” voted on this already, so “the people” have spoken, and that’s that.  First of all, it’s been fifteen or so years.  A lot can happen in that long amount of time.  Voters die, new voters become of age and register, voters move away, new people move in to the state and register.

Besides the fact that people can change their views on matters.  Or besides the fact that “the people” are requesting a different flag.  So, it’s fifteen years.  Yes, that’s a short amount of time compared to fifty, one hundred, or two hundred years.  But, you can’t use the past as an argument.  That’s like saying, “Well, the wealthy people of Mississippi agreed with slavery back in 1861, so we should still have slavery.”  I’d understand if we’d just voted on the matter of the flag anywhere from six months to five years ago, but anything over five years should definitely not count against a re-vote, especially if a large portion of “the people” wish for a re-vote.

Are “the people” clamouring for a re-vote?  Absolutely.  People have been wanting a new flag since before that early 2000s vote, and they wanted a new flag after the vote.  The number did grow after the Charleston shooting.  A lot of cities and universities in our state simply stopped flying the state flag.  Others of “the people” were incensed that government buildings weren’t flying the flag; stating how it always has to be flown.  Just in my own city, the state flag hadn’t flown on any government buildings for two years.  “The people” who support the flag, only became angry after anything Confederate was being removed after that shooting.  They hadn’t even noticed that our own city hadn’t had the flags up for two years.  Also, no where in our states constitution or laws is it required that anyone fly the state flag; government, public, private, or civilian.

Our state government keeps refusing to listen to the growing & large numbers of “the people” who want a new flag.  Bills fly through the house and senate with a resounding no stamped on them.  Our house and senate are Republican majority by the way, as is our Governor and his cabinet.

Recently 22 different flag-related bills hit the house.  Two bills filed by democrats wanted to leave it up to Mississippians in a new ballot vote.  Twelve bills proposed a new state flag entirely.  These bills were drafted by black democrats.  Seven bills supported the current flag and a new bit about forced flying of the flag; that all government and state universities would have to fly the current flag or receive punishment.  These bills were drafted by white republicans.

All of those bills are dead now.  It didn’t even take them a month.  The seven republican bills all had the forced fly tacked on and because it would cause us to change our constitution and was a bit of a kerfuffle, that part would have to be taken out.  The republicans would rather see all the bills die, than change what they want.

Since we’re on the topic, let’s take a quick look at other current bills in the Mississippi legislature.

SB2469 | BLUE LIVES:  Any crime committed against police officers, any emergency first responders, will be seen as a hate crime.

Mississippi already has severe penalty laws for crimes against police (assault, death, etc) and this would only serve as more protection for police that is not needed; double penalties for that crime.  Someone who kills a police officer gets the death penalty in this state.  Why would we really need a Blue Lives bill?  We don’t.  It’s fear mongering and control.

This new bill only increases protection for police without a balance for civilians.  There’s already a he said/she said balance of force between police and people.  Policemen do abuse their power; whether it’s not stopping at stop signs, speeding well over the speed limit for no reason other than they can, to abuse, intimidation, and trumped-up charges.  Not all of them do all of these things or any at all, but far more police are above their own laws than are not.

If I’m a white woman; a law-abiding citizen who minds her P’s & Q’s, has seen, first hand, the power-driven side of police, on multiple occasions, then you know that people of colour with the same attributes, are more apt to receive more police injustice.  Race certainly does come into it.  I have seen the privilege that whiteness affords me.  I don’t have to keep my hands on the steering wheel or announce that I’m going for my wallet or ID.  I was seen as white and not a threat; even if I was wearing a hoodie or was nervous (because cops do make me nervous).  As a woman of colour, that hoodie and nervous energy would have gotten me into a world of trouble.  Hint.  It’s not the hoodie or nervous attitude as I’ve just illustrated by my very real life example.  It’s the colour of skin and false attributes assigned to them.

But I’ve also seen the flip side, where I’ve been seen as other.  Not white, not black, some mixed thing of undiscernible origin.  Have I been unfairly targeted when the white police didn’t see me as white enough?  Yes.  I have.  Many times, in fact.  I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum and is why I believe a person of colour when they’ve been abused, singled out, or mistreated by people of authority.  I’ve never been much for police lives being worth more than non police lives either.  Say a person ends up killing a police officer and a civilian in the same shoot out; that person gets more of a penalty for the cops death than for the innocent bystanders death.  That’s not right.

I’m not saying we should kill cops, or even that their work isn’t hard or dangerous.  It is.  I’m not even saying all cops are evil.  But am I touting the 1950s PSA of “When in trouble, find a cop”?  No.  I wouldn’t go to a cop for safety.  Why, because it’s also dangerous for the civilian.  Cops are people, and you have good and bad people everywhere.  Lots of people join the field who have their own hang-ups, issues, and prejudices and don’t realize that you’re supposed to check that shit at the door.  To be a police officer in a more perfect world means that you can’t hate all Latino’s because you’re grandpappy taught you that Mexicans were subhuman and you think all Latino’s are Mexican, or because that guy from San Salvador slept with your wife.  You’re not supposed to use any of your personal baggage to serve justice, because you’ll just end up a bully… and a bully with the keys to the kingdom to boot!  Also, when you are the law, it’s easy to become above the law.

No, one calls cops on their shit; for flying through stop signs or writing unfair tickets or speeding for no reason because you, as a civilian, will have no back up.  Cops stick with cops, and cops are the law and if they say that you needed a ticket, then you needed a ticket, and that’s pretty much the end of the discussion.  Or if you needed a beating or to be shot, it was justifiable because you had a gun or were threatening, whether you were or not.  If they rape you, it didn’t happen and they aren’t fired.

Police don’t need more protection, civilians need more protection from cops.  Cops need better training in order to keep their personal issues out of the job.  Besides police violence is at a low, where violence from police is the same as it’s always been or worse.

Before moving on to another big topic, that is on that list of current bills, we’ll skip ahead to the next one that died.

HB818/SB2697 | EQUAL PAY:  These bills would have closed the gender pay gap.  Equal pay for equal work.

There’s this myth circulating that women are equal and have all the rights that men do.  Which is why people have come out of the wood-work wondering why in the hell women marched on Washington in January for equal rights “that we already have”.  The myth that men and women are paid equally for equal work here in the states.

Women and men are most certainly not paid equally for the same work.  There is most certainly a pay gap, whether you deny its existence or not.  And white republican men just overwhelmingly voted against (again) Mississippi women having the same amount of pay as a man.

I’ve touched on this before, so I won’t go into full details, but the pay gap does vary state by state, and it varies depending upon your race.  A black woman won’t make as much as a white woman.  Take a look at this website.  They have a few pretty colour coded maps for you to look at.  Be sure to use the drop down menu to take you from “Women Overall” to a break down of the various women of colour and what their pay rate is compared to a man of any race.

Mississippi’s state minimum wage is $7.25.  For every dollar that a white man makes, a white woman will only make 75.7 cents of that.  Sure you might be thinking, “but it’s only a quarter.  Hell it’s less than a quarter with that .7 tacked on there.”  You’ve heard the old adage that it adds up.  Those pennies add up.  Save them and you’ll have loads of money.  That quarter for every dollar adds up too.

If a white man takes home $500, then a white woman, doing the exact same job for the same amount of time, will only take home $352.50.  That’s a loss of almost $150.  You work hard and have your employer hold back $150.00 that you earned (we’re talking post income taxes and net profits and 401K and all of that), and see how well you take it.

And that’s just white women.  A black woman in Mississippi, on average, only makes 55.8 cents to a white man’s dollar.  She’s losing almost half of an entire pay check for a white man… for the same damn job.  You imagine getting your pay check chopped in half and see how you would feel?

The next time you want to say that women should stop worrying because it’s not even a quarter or fifty cents, remember that that’s only on $1 and it adds up.  Besides, when you work, don’t you want all of your pay?  I would bet you the left side of my body that if the tables were turned and men were only making 75 cents for every $1 a woman made, men would be livid.  Actually if the tables were turned on a lot of situations, men would be furious.  You try imagining a group of women prompting regulations on what men could and couldn’t do with their bodies and try to deny yourself the outrage that you know very well would be there.

Now, we’ll hit the next bill.

HB638 | DEATH PENALTY:  The addition of the gas chamber, the electric chair, & the firing squad as forms of execution.

So… the death penalty.  I’ll just go ahead and link my two articles about this bill here & again here.  There’s already a lot of debate about the death penalty in general.  People are for it and against it.  Some like citing select passages from The Bible (as they do) to either condemn or condone their view points, whether it makes sense or not; in particular the whole eye for and eye bit in regards to the death penalty being just and holy.  However, the eye for an eye bit is revenge, which is illegal in the US.

If you are unfamiliar with the passage I’m talking about, it basically states that if someone takes your eye, you can take theirs.  So, if someone murders your sister or rapes your daughter you can murder or take the person to them that is equal to a daughter or sister.  Only, you can’t take revenge, legally.  I state this because Mississippi House Republican, Andy Gipson, states the following, “”I have a constituent whose daughter was raped and killed by a serial killer over 25 years ago and that person’s still waiting for the death penalty. The family is still waiting for justice.”

The reason Gipson is stating this and believes in the death penalty is the whole eye for an eye thing.  However, his constituent, by this logic, should be able to kill the killers daughter (or someone else of equal value to the killer).  But, he can’t, so the US has the death penalty for his constituents’ revenge murder.

And murder it is, and is a good point to bring up.  All of those Christians that are for the death penalty and believe in revenge murder, will also turn around and shout that all murder is wrong.  I wonder why?  Oh, yes, it’s because Jesus told Jewish people to disregard everything in the Torah; everything God had told them, and to only follow what he says.  Then later Christians just threw that bit out the window, adopted everything in the Old Testament (the Torah) as well as the new that fit with what they felt was correct; and these white Christians (men) have been debating and changing laws based on their interpretations of both of these books for centuries.  When really, as a Christian, they should only be following one of those books.  Hint:  It’s the New Testament.

If all murder is murder… and Jesus taught you that two wrongs don’t make a right… then why are you for the death penalty?  You are choosing to have someone murdered… and you’ve hired someone to do that killing for you, so you have turned someone into a murderer; a sinner; and you are a murderer by proxy because you’ve essentially hired someone to do your revenge killing for you, which Jesus admonished the eye for an eye bit.

[Anyone who might read this and want to throw abortion into this mix, I’ll go ahead and say again that to actually call yourself a Christian, means to follow what Jesus said for you to do; how he said you should think, which means you shouldn’t be digging around in the Old Testament at all.  As for as babies and abortion goes.  Anytime a baby is mentioned in the bible it’s always a born baby.  And the murdering of innocents refers to born babies that were killed.  Born.  As in birthed.  As in out of the mother and breathing oxygen on their own.

There is also only one reference to an unborn fetus in any part of the bible.  It is in reference to a man beating someone’s wife and the pregnancy was lost due to this.  The outcome was that the man who beat the woman had to pay the husband for his lost property.  Property.  As in not a person, but a thing.  The fetus wasn’t considered a person by anyone in the Bible; and the incident wasn’t even close to being considered murder; of the innocent or otherwise.  Not by God, not the people.  It was property.  So, there’s absolutely no correlation to abortion being considered murder, except by you.  And that’s all I’m going to say, because this topic is about the death penalty and not abortion.]

So, there’s that whole kettle of fish.  And if you’re wondering, then no I’m not for the death penalty, but if we’re going to have it, it should be humane.  However, the three ways of execution that Mississippi wishes implement as a back up to lethal injection.  They issue that a back up is warranted since the drugs for lethal injection are not easy to come by because they are not humane, though initially were thought to be.

Mississippi first implemented execution in 1818 with hangings, but not just any hangings, but public one’s.  A botched incident in 1932, had people wanting a better form of execution than the gallows. In 1940, Mississippi switched to the electric chair, but public execution was still so popular, that we had a portable one made so the executions could come to you!  We were also the only state to ever have a portable electric chair, just so people could come and have a good time viewing old sparky in action.   The state then adopted the gas chamber in 1955, with its first execution being botched.  We wouldn’t adopt lethal injection until 2002.

I’m surprised Mississippi isn’t looking to revive hangings, or start up the whole drawn and quartered form of execution while we’re at it.

I obviously have a problem with hangings, and I’m surprised Mississippi didn’t tack that one on.  It is cruel for two reasons.  If not preformed correctly, it is a horrible way to die, and more times than not in it’s entirely history as an execution (not merely in this country) it was preformed incorrectly.  Also, with white people taking matters into their own hands and stringing up black people all willy nilly, leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth.

I, too, have a problem with the gas chamber.  I also have a problem with the fact that Americans, in general, saw this as OK post WWII.  If we’d been using it prior to, it wouldn’t be so bad, but, Jewish people were murdered, in droves, via gas chambers, and we said, “Whatever, let’s kill our convicts in this manner too!”, which incidentally makes us no better than Nazi’s with this inception.

Electricity isn’t much better.  It’s inhumane even when it’s preformed properly, and when it’s not?  Well, if you saw that scene in The Green Mile, then you have a pretty good idea about a botched execution via electric chair.

As for the firing squad?  Well, this is only kind of cool in a bad ass way because it belongs in the annals of history… or that sketch bit on You Can’t Do That On Television.  Meaning that one finds it fanciful and never imagines it as real, because who does that besides far off random tales of Spanish Colonials in their New Spain of America’s Old West?  No one, that’s who.

Oklahoma and Utah are the only states who have death by firing squad listed as a form of execution, and mainly because it’s a relic from an earlier by-gone era.  Oklahoma has it as a back-up for lethal injection and the electric chair, and only if those are deemed more inhumane than firing squad.  Utah on the other hand had only implemented it three times and are very wishy washy on their stance.  They use something else and then go back to it, then phase it out and last year just put in a new bill to keep it alive and well.  OK.

Though it is gruesome (read bloody) compared to suffocation by gas or death by injection, the guillotine is still seen as the most humane form of execution.  It’s not merely humane by beheading standards, it’s the quickest and most painless death one can receive in terms of any execution, with no chance for a botched job.  However, because of it’s overtly bloody nature it is seen as barbaric, besides the fact that experts also cite that because of its efficiency, one runs the gamut of over doing it, as was once seen in France.

It was just so easy and effortless that France just kept killing more and more people.  It’s not to say that it would go that route again, I mean they were coming out of a Revolution, but they warn that there is the penchant for over-kill because of how easy it is to implement.

However, if we have to have the death penalty and we have to choose something barbaric like firing squad, we might as well just have execution by guillotine.  The only real foreseeable problem, from my standpoint, is that I’ll be beyond annoyed that no one can pronounce guillotine correctly and I’ll just throw myself under one so as to not have to hear the botchery of that word on a near daily basis.

Since we’re on that topic, it’s a French word, so it is never gill-uh-teen, but always and only gee-yoh-teen.

Moving on to our last topic hitting the Mississippi legislature, is whether or not students should be allowed to have water on the bus.  You might be from a region of the country where no drinks (or food) are allowed on the bus, and you are thinking the same should apply to school students here.  But you also have actual winter and snow and you have absolutely no idea what high heat and humidity are (unless you’ve been this far south in the middle of August), or that it’s this way most of the time these kids will be on the bus.  School buses do not have air conditioning and rolling down the windows doesn’t mean an influx of cool wind coming in, it only means an exchange of hot, muggy air wafting around.  You’ll still sweat and it’ll still be hard to breath.

It’s gross down here.  Trust me, I’ve lived here my entire life in the southern part of this state.  Even in the middle part of the state they get more winter than we do; better temperatures and weather.  They even get snow sometimes.  But they still understand hot and humid.

This legislation is coming directly from Mississippians… but it was like when people in the north recently had all of these opinions and wanted all air conditioning banned because it’s damaging the ozone layer… and because no one needs air conditioning anyway.

And that’s because you’ve never been to or lived in the south.  I’m not talking northern Virginia or people in southern states with mountainous regions.  I’m talking Florida, Texas, and the southern portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia.  Obviously one can argue that we can live with out it because we always have since settling here.  Yes, but the earth is warming up, so it’s… what, 20 degrees hotter in the summers here now than it was in the 1800s, or the turn of the last century.  It was barely tolerable then and is beyond tolerable now.  You don’t acclimate to it this.

Not having air condition down here is about the same as all of those Parisians who died recently (the last few years) during a heat wave because the way their buildings are built retain heat and they had no air conditioning.  You think I’m kidding, but it’s very serious down here.  There’s constantly warnings to check on the children and the elderly; and even for able-bodied adults they remind you not to go outside and work during the hottest part of the day, to drink plenty of water, keep hydrated, keep cool, eat ice, sit in ice, go inside to an air conditioned room.  Everything so you won’t die of heat stroke just from walking to the mail box and back.  Everything so that you won’t die of dehydration from simply taking out the trash.

Heat indexes are as important as a severe winter storm for you.  With the high humidity, the heat index could jump by 5 – 25 degrees.  So, that why the temperature is reading 92, it’s really 99 or 102.  You guys in the north report that you’re having a heat wave and how horrible it is and I laugh and envy you for your heat wave of 84 degrees with 40% humidity, while I’m down here eating ice in my air-conditioned house and I’m still puddling sweat and red in the face.

Hell, you can’t even go for a walk or a jog in nice weather.  There’s no such thing as nice weather during the summers (that’s May-October) here in the deep south.  It’s muggy and swelteringly unbearable early in the morning and once the sun as gone down.  You will sweat and can become over heated just from a leisurely stroll even at these hours when some would assume it would be tolerable or even nice.  You would be wrong.

Not to mention that the higher the humidity, the harder it is to breathe.  We’re used the higher humidity, just as someone who lives in the mountains is used to the high altitude or someone from the north is used to the cold.  It doesn’t mean that it’s easy for us to breath during the summers; even for absolutely healthy people.  It’s like trying to breathe in a warm, damp blanket.  It’s not pleasant.

So, back to the bus.  Being cramped into a crowded hunk of metal with no air conditioning where the breeze from all of the open windows is akin to someone blowing a hot hair dryer on you, you’ll want water.  You’ll need it.

So, it baffles me that this is even an argument – “Democratic Rep. John Hines of Greenville asked what would happen if kids filled bottles with vodka instead of water. Currie said that would, of course, be illegal.”

Qua?  (Which is French for what?)  Greenville is in the Delta and is in the northwestern portion of the state.  They will experience more gross summer temperatures than people in states further north than them, but they’re summer weathers are better than ours further south in the state.  Perhaps, he has the luxury to think about what if’s to why a kid might need to drink water on the bus ride home (or to school).

As far as hidden liquor, it’s not unheard of, but it’s rare.  I was not a good kid in some regards, while in others I was, compared to my classmates.  I didn’t have sex (or do anything sexual – not even kissing) in high school, I didn’t bully people, I didn’t get arrested, I wasn’t sent to alternative school, I didn’t spend time in juvie, I didn’t hack the planet, I didn’t cheat on homework or tests and in fact was actually a model student and pretty much a total Hermione Granger with my high grades and studying and raising my hand to answer all of the questions.

However, I did drop acid a couple of times (twice at school), I did smoke weed, cigarettes, drink, sneak out, listen to music I wasn’t allowed to listen to, skip classes, and beat people up who attacked me.

I didn’t smoke anything at school, but I did drink.  To my knowledge I was the only student in the years of 1993-1999 to bring alcohol to school and to drink it.  I could be wrong, but if there were others they hid it very well and I’m still betting there were only 2 – 4 other people tops.

My parents would buy wine coolers or new drinks (like Zima), and if they didn’t like the drink in question, they’d shoved it in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator and just hope that it went away.  They didn’t care if it was magical elves, they just didn’t want to know and they didn’t want to see it ever again.  I knew this, so I drank everything that ended up in that drawer.

And because I felt like testing authority, I saw just how far I could push the limits at school without getting caught, and apparently to a fifteen year old, bringing alcohol to school and drinking it in front of teachers was the way to do that.

A wine cooler?  It went into a Coke bottle.  Zima?  It went into to a Sprite bottle.  Vodka was reserved for a water bottle.  I did this off and on during my entire high school career.  Never keeping a set pattern and sometimes going months without bringing my stash to school.  Only one time did any teacher even think that I could possibly be drinking something other than what I was advertising.

It’s not that I was bragging, it’s just that this particular teacher didn’t much care for me.  He was just certain that I was up to no good, because kids don’t drink that much soda?  Or they never drink soda and water in the same day?  Which was never two types of alcohol.  I either had my covert wine cooler in a Coke bottle and would purchase a bottle of water later that day.  Or I would have my water bottle of vodka and later purchase a coke.

Anyways.  During that one week I did drink in his class and outside of L-Building waiting for my next class.  He was getting too nosy, so on Friday I brought an actual bottle of water and an actual bottle of Coke from home.  He came over to me and swiped the bottle of water out of my and smelled it, then smelled my face for signs of alcohol on my breath.  Demanded me to open my bag.  He opened my new bottle of Coke because he was in a frenzy to catch me.  If he’d been thinking logically, he would have known that if he had to break the seal on the Coke, then there wasn’t anything in that bottle except actual Coca Cola.

And being the belligerent teenager that I was, pushing authority, I said I’d report his actions to the principle since you’re not supposed to grab and take things from students (only ask them to be handed over) and that he owned me a buck for my coke that he opened.  He didn’t police me after that.  I pushed the system and won.  It’s not something I’m proud of, nor are certain aspects of the issues that I was dealing with as a teenager which led me to do some of the things that I did, but I do have real life experience of what it’s like to be an angry loner teenager trying to push the limits of authority who actually did bring vodka to school in a water bottle.

Is it something to worry about?  I can’t honestly say.  I have nothing to do with the school system since I’m well out of it and have no children or even know children who are in this school system.  I’d put a wager that no, it’s not something to worry about.  You’ll probably always have that one random kid (or a few) who do this or things equally as stupid, and I’m betting that just as in my case, they’ll have a slew of friends who also think they are stupid for doing that.

 

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