Archive for May, 2015

If you believe porn you’re watching isn’t hurting anyone, you’re wrong

by David McElroy

Hot Girls wanted poster

When I was 19 years old, I’d never seen any porn, but as a hormonal teen-ager with a normal sex drive, it sounded like a wonderful forbidden fruit. So I decided to buy a copy of Playboy to see what I had been missing.

I was nervous about it, but I went into a convenience store on Green Springs Highway in Birmingham and asked for a copy (since it was kept behind the counter). This was the first and only time I’ve ever bought any porn.

At first, I was amazed at what I saw. These were physically perfect women who were clearly ready to have sex with me — or pretty much anyone who would pay them, presumably. But after the initial rush of hormonal excitement died down, I quickly realized that the pictures didn’t arouse me in the same way that my own girlfriend did.

Let’s be honest. The women in the magazine were physically perfect in a way that my girlfriend couldn’t be. (I didn’t understand at the time that not even those women were actually physically perfect.) Physically, everything about them was just right. But I realized that I was far more attracted to my own girlfriend and to other women who I knew — women who couldn’t possibly be that “perfect.”

Why?

It didn’t take me long to learn something that I’ve never forgotten.

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Before you can rescue other folks, you have to learn to save yourself

by David McElroy

Narcissist hero

I used to want to be placed onto a pedestal as a hero.

That might not be too surprising. After all, our culture is filled with tales of grandiose heroism that invite people — especially young men — to insert themselves into the stories as the hero. So what’s the big deal that I used to have a burning desire to be a hero?

It’s hard to explain and the full story isn’t pleasant. In fact, there are parts of the story I’m not yet ready to tell publicly. The time will come when I’ll talk about the ways that my life has been affected by the influence of narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Expect a book when the time is right. Until then, here’s what I’m ready to say.

After I moved recently, I started unpacking boxes and going through papers that hadn’t been touched in decades — some since my teen-age years. The things I found were fascinating and they forced me to see early evidence of emotional problems that I eventually had to deal with in counseling.

One of the most fascinating troves of notes and papers consisted of things I wrote over a three-year period starting when I was 13 years old. They dealt with my first serious crush on a girl.

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How would we see the gang war in Texas if the faces had been black?

by David McElroy

Biker gang suspects

This is more of a thought experiment than anything else.

These are the mug shots of a few of the 170 people arrested related to the gang war this past Sunday that left nine people dead in Waco, Texas. How would we be seeing this story differently if this had been the same confrontation between two black gangs in an inner city?

I suspect the reactions would have been different all around. I’d like to consider it briefly.

In the wake of the Baltimore riots — almost exclusively by blacks — I heard condescending things from friends. I’m not talking about nasty Archie Bunker-type racists. I’m talking about middle-class white Americans who simply don’t have a lot of connection to black people.

“That’s just the way those people are,” I remember one woman saying. Another friend said he wasn’t surprised at criminal activity from blacks, because about 80 percent of black men were in prison. (The real figure is closer to 4 percent, if I remember correctly.)

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John Lennon had ‘wrong ambitions,’ but became cultural icon anyway

by David McElroy

John Lennon's 15-year-old report cardWhen John Lennon was 15 years old, the smart people in authority at his school didn’t see him as a world-changing artist.

The headmaster wrote this on Lennon’s report card that year: “He has too many of the wrong ambitions and his energy is too often misplaced.” (Click the graphic above to see a larger version.)

Although he was seen as intelligent, a science teacher wrote, “His work always lacks effort. He is content to ‘drift’ instead of using his abilities.”

In math, he missed the final exam and the teacher wrote, “He is certainly on the road to failure if this goes on.”

His teachers clearly didn’t think much of him. By the accepted standards of the world, he was heading toward failure. Surely he would become a nobody — because he refused to fit into the box that the world was trying to push him into.

Because of his work with the Beatles, though, Lennon turned out to be a pivotal cultural figure of the 1960s. He will be remembered long after everyone has forgotten those experts who judged him.

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Police threaten to seize my camera for crime of public photography

by David McElroy

Canon T3i

It’s one thing to read articles over and over about police harassing innocent people for taking photos in public. It’s quite another to experience it yourself and have an angry cop threaten to seize my camera, but that happened to me Saturday.

It’s all for the children, you know.

I was at the Buck Creek Festival in Helena, Ala., taking photos on a freelance assignment from a newspaper. The managing editor of the paper had asked me to get “candid shots, photos of kids enjoying the event’s attractions, etc.” In other words, it was very typical photography for a public event. It wasn’t a big deal.

After I’d been shooting a little more than an hour, a police lieutenant from the Helena Police Department approached me. He said that he had received reports that I was taking pictures, including pictures of children. Considering the fact that I’d been walking around with my Canon T3i for the past hour — openly taking pictures and talking to random people — it’s clear that this wasn’t exactly something I was trying to hide.

I acknowledged it and asked what the problem was.

(In recounting the narrative from here, I am reconstructing it to the best of my memory’s ability, but since I didn’t take notes or record it, the details might be jumbled or out of order, mostly because I was rattled by the incident. The essence of the narrative is correct, though.)

The cop said he had gotten four reports that I had been taking pictures — including pictures of kids. He said he hadn’t done anything about it the first three times it was reported, but he had a duty now to find out what I was doing and “send you on your way.”

I asked why that was and what law I was supposed to have broken. He couldn’t answer that, but he didn’t like me asking. I told him that I was shooting pictures for a newspaper and I told him which one. That shouldn’t have mattered, because public photography is perfectly legal whether you’re a newspaper employee or just shooting pictures for yourself.

It was about this point that he threatened to seize my camera.

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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