Unless you’ve been there, just shut the fuck up!

This is a dramatization of a home invasion, but it’s a scene not unlike the one I lived through with my parents in New Jersey.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Skye Hunter has been an active member of The Shinbone Star for some time, producing the banners for our weekly Trumplandia feature. This article marks her debut as a writer for our site.

By SKYE HUNTER

I can’t believe I had to write this, but on what was supposed to be the most peaceful day of the year, gun violence decided not to take a holiday.

Love was in the air and everything was right with the world at sunrise on Feb. 14, 2018, when Ash Wednesday and St. Valentine’s Day hooked up to form one beautiful day of peace and love.

Hopeless romantics and the religious faithful alike were in the midst of celebrating their respective traditions when at about 2 p.m. EST, the lives of students and teachers at a high school in Parkland, Fla. were forever changed.

You know the drill.

Just another day in the United States of America, where guns again claimed the lives of the innocent. Just another day and another headline about a mass shooting.

While the outpouring of grief, prayers, thoughts and emotion over another senseless tragedy was understandable, we were also served another round of right-wing platitudes about how now is not the time to talk about it, how we shouldn’t politicize the deaths, and how we need to focus on the shooter, who couldn’t have been in his right mind.

If you haven’t gathered from my title that I’m angry, you’re an idiot.

I’m not just angry, I’m FUCKING angry.

After Sandy Hook, I talked to several of my Facebook friends about the need to make things better in regard to our gun laws and of course, the same old statements found their way into the dialogue:

“You need a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.”

“Criminals won’t abide by the gun laws and if they want guns will get them.”

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

ARGH!!!

Seriously?

This rhetoric is getting old.

You’d rather keep your guns, your precious guns, which you probably treat better than people, while these mass shootings go on and on and on???

When is enough bloodshed enough?

No matter what is brought to the table, the Right boohoos about their god-given Second Amendment rights to bear arms, and nothing ever changes.

For your information, GOD didn’t create guns!

Shoot, GOD didn’t offer any blessings on the use of guns, and had absolutely nothing to do with these violent incidents. GOD has much more important things to worry about than whether you can complete your 50-plus gun collection.

You’re probably wondering, “Who the hell is this libertard?”

This snowflake was the victim of a home invasion at the tender age of 14.

It was the 1990s and I was a high school freshman and band geek from northern New Jersey who had just returned home from an amazing marching band/choir trip.

I am part Vietnamese, so my mother didn’t exactly trust the banks after the fall of Saigon and collapse of the currency. She worked in direct sales at the time, so whenever she couldn’t get to the bank, she would keep her earnings in her room.

That night, I remember watching “Stand By Me” in the spare bedroom while polishing my Keds into mandatory “freshness.” In the bathroom, my dad was taking a shower.

Mom was downstairs cooking dinner when the doorbell rang and a group of Asian men gathered on our front stoop. The men told Mom they wanted to purchase some products from her business, and before I knew it, she invited danger inside and let innocence out.

While polishing my shoes, I had accidentally got some polish on my hands, so I walked out of the bedroom to the bathroom across the hall to wash them. When I walked back, I noticed a stranger coming up the stairs. I’ll refer to him as the “man in the gray cap.”

I had no idea who this person was, but I wasn’t scared. Don’t ask me why.

However, I did walk back into my room and lock the door.

Dad and I were the best of friends, sometimes it seemed like he was more like my brother than my father. We would routinely do silly things to piss off my mom, who can be pretty serious.

One of the goofy things we used to do was knock on doors in a way that would sound like a bunch of people were knocking at the same time. Since we were the only ones who would do that, my dad and I would know it was the other when we heard our “group knock.”

Soon after locking the door, I heard that very distinctive knock. I thought it was my father, and thought he must have finished his shower. But when I opened the door, I saw it was not my dad, but the man in the gray cap, and he pointing a gun at me. I thought it was a joke and laughingly smacked the barrel and asked who he was.

He started speaking angrily in Vietnamese, stuck the barrel of the gun back in my face and forced me into the closet. I didn’t speak Vietnamese since abandoning my mother’s native tongue amid the taunts of my mostly white classmates. After demanding to know why I didn’t speak Vietnamese, Gray Cap proceeded to duct tape my eyes and told me in English not to make any noise. I heard the closet doors shut.

In the darkness I began to pray, asking God why this was happening. I was so scared and was crying uncontrollably at this point. I grabbed my legs, put my head on my knees and just rocked back and forth. I had no idea what was going on with my parents, and was so scared that I would never see them again.

It was then that I heard my dad yelling, “Who are you? Where is my daughter?” I learned later that the man in the gray cap placed his gun in the small of my father’s back and forced him down the stairs.

It was just me then, sitting in the darkness with all the crazy thoughts running in my mind. As I was contemplating death at 14, the closet doors opened again. Someone yanked me up and forced me to walk. Through the bottom slit of the duct tape, I could see the red wall-to-wall carpeting. That soft, fluffy carpeting always felt so wonderful under my bare feet.

As the man forced me to the stairs, covered in the same red carpeting, I remember walking down, carefully trying to memorize how it felt in case it was the last time I would experience it.

For the next two hours, my parents and I lay bound with duct tape, our lives hanging in the balance while the thieves ransacked our house in search of money. Mom was eventually whisked away upstairs to the master bedroom, where she pleaded for her life and ultimately gave up the cash she’d stashed away. The sound of the men’s scuffling feet and threats seemed to linger long after they finally fled.

After what felt like an eternity, one of us called the police. Units came to the house to take our statements and fingerprint the scene. I can still remember the black powder everywhere.

For those who have never had their lives threatened, fantasies about what you would do usually boil down to scenes from that movie, “A Christmas Story.” Maybe you’d have been “pranging ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hip shots.”

But in reality, when you’re in the heat of the moment, all bets are off.

There was no time to imagine ourselves as the good guys in a Wild West movie. There was only time for praying and fear.

Some people have asked if we had a gun in the house. Yes, Dad owned a gun years ago, but not at the time of this incident. But what if he did have a gun?

Would he have been able to take out four or five bad guys before one of them turned his gun on me or my mom? What if Dad fired a shot and accidentally hit one of us? Dad was a Navy veteran who grew up with guns, and even though he was comfortable using them, he could have make a mistake. Haven’t you heard the term “friendly fire?”

I don’t know why this happened to me and my family, but I do know we were grateful to have made it out alive. We have internal scars that will never heal, but manage to place one foot in front of the other every day and live life to the fullest.

Times have certainly changed in the last two decades, and I can’t believe how much anger and hatred are running rampant. Due to the growth of social media and technology, we have forgotten how to communicate face to face or “belly to belly,” as they say in the sales industry.

Instead of looking someone in the eye, we cast downward glances at our mobile devices. Instead of calling someone on the phone, we send a text message. Subtle nuances that occur during the course of a normal conversation — like tone of voice, facial expressions and body language — are lost and what is left are characters in a tweet or posts on Facebook.

Common courtesy and decency are gone. We no longer communicate effectively or solve problems civilly. Some people don’t know how to handle their anger, and resort to other means in which destruction is the only outcome.

Too many innocent people get caught in the crossfire of violence and hatred. Too many innocents die at the hands of those who no longer feel a connection to humanity. Too many innocent lives are forever changed in ways that only people like me can truly understand. It’s membership to a club that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

What to do?

To be honest, whatever I suggest will probably be frowned upon as being “too emotional,” “too irrational,” or the rants of a “Bleeding Heart Liberal.”

I would remain silent, but I am so fucking tired of being silent. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem, so here is what I feel should be done:

  1. Require all firearm manufacturers to stamp or etch the serial numbers of weapons onto places within the gun where they cannot be easily scratched off.
  2. Write laws that treat the ownership of firearms the same as obtaining a driver’s license or a CDL. Mandatory testing on proper gun ownership, usage training and storage, with required refresher testing every few years that also includes testing of the owner’s current mental state.
  3. If a person wants to own ANY type of military firearm or weapon, they must pass the same training given to law enforcement and military personnel.
  4. Make mental health a major priority of healthcare (like the Head First campaign in England), re-establishing facilities to make care readily available.
  5. A uniform system across all law enforcement and military databases to identify offenders and prohibit them from purchasing firearms, with maximum sentences handed down to those who would assist in providing weapon(s) illegally to those offenders.
  6. Limits on the amount of ammunition or firearms anyone can own without an investigation as to why anyone would need to maintain an arsenal.
  7. Stricter rules from social media companies against those who bully or troll other users, especially those who threaten bodily harm, with a requirement that law enforcement be notified.
  8. Posting on any platform of social media of videos that depict violence of any kind should trigger immediate reports to law enforcement.
  9. Programs in schools to promote empathy and inclusion so students can help other students who might currently be excluded or bullied. Acknowledgment of those students who stand up to bulling should be encouraged.
  10. If a child reports bullying incidents and the school administration does not instigate an investigation, severe fines and/or penalties should be enforced.

My list might seem extreme to some people, but we live in a trigger-happy society that is quick to anger. Yes, it’s also meant to be a free society, but there are some with no regard for societal standards and who exhibit a blatant disregard for human life. We must make sure that change happens for the better, and we must make sure that those who choose violence and hatred are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

My mother is a very wise and strong woman. She has a saying, “When you look up, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself. When you look down, there are so many people worse off than you’ll ever be. The best thing you can do is look straight ahead and keep going.”

Mom has another saying, too: “You will never truly understand how much it hurts until you cut your own finger.” My finger was almost severed, but I am still here.

Remember that one day it could happen to you.

I hope you never cut your finger, but unless you’ve been there, shut the fuck up!

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29 thoughts on “Unless you’ve been there, just shut the fuck up!

  1. you know… as much as I agree with the vast majority of this post, you blew it with that “libertard” comment. I don’t care if you were imitating someone else. It is NOT ok.
    As the mother of a middle aged woman with intellectual disability (with an old diagnosis of mental retardation) it’s just offensive. For her. For me. For people with intellectual disabilities in general.

    If you think I’m “overreacting” them you might want to check out http://rword.org to see how you can educate yourself a bit and perhaps educate others.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You know, that’s the label we all get slammed with and I hate it too. Let’s not take it out on the write r of this piece, but on the right wingers who think it’s clever to brand someone with that awful made-up word.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I appreciate your comment Anne-Marie, but slocreative has some valid points. I hope that she reads my apology & knows the backstory why THAT word was in play here.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I want to sincerely apologize to you for any hurt feelings that this word has caused. When I originally wrote my over 4,000 word piece, the word that I had used during that particular passage was asshole. The first of 2 editors had changed asshole to THAT word to be ironic, since many times my fellow Liberals have been called that during heated debates on issues that affect us all.

      You are not over reacting at all and have every right to feel the way you do, considering you are the parent of a child with an intellectual disability. With so many hurtful words that are thrown around for our viewpoints, my editor wanted to be ironic, using a hip-hop battle technique to call oneself a hateful word, taking the power away from the person that might use it in response.

      I appreciate your honesty & the link you provided. When people don’t know each other on social media, they feel that the typed word has no impact than a spoken word would. But they both have the same impact. It’s a learning moment that needed to be shared.

      Thank you for reading & for sharing your story.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. EDITOR: The Shinbone Star will always correct errors in fact. However, disagreements over specific words or phrasing will only be changed at our own prerogative, and in this instance we choose to leave the offending word as it is. While most blogs are written by individuals, this one is a collaborative effort by many writers and editors, much like what you might find at a real newspaper. Although Skye Hunter wrote this report, a change was made by the initial editor, and I understand why he did so. All that has also already been explained. Unlike a real newspaper, our tone here is frequently unfiltered, and it’s not unusual for readers to be tweaked or downright upset over our use of a particular word. In fact, we thought long and hard before allowing the word “FUCKING” to be used in this story, and were surprised when an objection came not about that, but about “libertard.” While we regret that you were upset by its usage, we hope the overall message about the need for sensible gun control also came through. Seventeen people are dead, and we believe that should be the focus. Thank you for reading The Shinbone Star, but if it is not to your liking, there are many other sites that offer more plain-vanilla insights to current events. We wish you all the best in seeking them out. — D.P.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And Skye… I read the response from the editorial team. IMHO they were wrong to have replaced the word you chose and they’re wrong for leaving it that way because it APPEARS that it’s your word. I do appreciate your response.

        Like

      3. I’m pissed off right now. And I’m probably going to regret writing this. First of all, absolutely fucking phenomenal article. And to the woman that was offended. I’m sorry that you have a child that suffers. I really am. I am one of the most compassionate people you’ll ever meet. But right now? Fucking children are being killed. People are being killed. She was making a point. No wonder people look at us “libs” as a bunch of pussies. In the face of trying to address a fatal issue. We are arguing over a word. It is a word. I am quite certain the author meant no offense. So instead of talking about what really matters? Us “pussies” are going to argue over a word.

        And I’m quite certain I am going to offend many people. Right now? I really don’t give a fuck.

        Many years ago, when I was 100 pounds overweight. I joined a really old school gym. And I was really nervous, because I was really fat, and I wanted people to like me. I was. I was a FAT FUCK. And I am talking only about myself, lest I offend anybody But I got the best piece of advice I’ve ever received in my entire life. As I was worried that people were looking at me and thinking I was too fat to be in the gym. This is what the owner of the gym told me. I don’t think I’ve ever received a better piece of advice in my life.

        “GET OVER YOURSELF”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. First of all… Skye has been apologetic. That’s really all I needed to hear. SHE didn’t write that word. Some asshole(s) on the editorial board decided to add it.
        Second… my daughter doesn’t “suffer”… she HAS an intellectual disability… and cerebral palsy… and a seizure disorder… and mild paranoia… and she is nearly 2 years post chemo with no evidence of disease for her uterine cancer. But she doesn’t suffer. Through all of her chemo, she didn’t miss a day at work, and I think she missed ONE of her Krav Maga classes.
        Third… comparing being overweight (which I am also), which you have some control over and having an intellectual disability and a whole list of developmental disabilities, which you have NO control over is ridiculous.

        You have NO IDEA how I reacted to the shooting of those kids. I was, and still am, pissed as hell. You see, when Columbine happened, I lived overseas with my kids, working for Department of Defense. I decided then and there that I wasn’t coming back to the states with them until they were all out of HS – because I wasn’t going to submit them to that kind of terrorism. I still believe it was a good decision because my kids were safe.
        I don’t want to hear “thoughts and prayers” after one more school shooting (or really any mass murder). There are solutions to this. I don’t give a fuck if the NRA doesn’t like the solutions. I lived in Japan. Gun control works. I have a bunch of friends in Australia. Gun control works. The second amendment doesn’t guarantee that people can walk around the neighborhood with AR-15s and it’s time that people hear that. I’m GLAD Skye wrote this piece. I wish the editorial board had left her piece alone instead of trying to be “cute.”

        I’d suggest to you that if you don’t like a comment someone makes on a post, you simply scroll on by. I was trying to help a writer be more socially aware of the power of her words… and to understand how that word affects people with intellectual disabilities. It’s disgusting that the word and all of it’s derivations have become a favorite put-down of the left and the right. If you truly want to describe someone negatively, then use a word that actually describes what they do that you find offensive, horrendous, whatever. It just might increase your vocabulary.

        Like

    1. Thank you so much Glenn for having me share my story. Most people have no idea that I was a victim of a violent crime. I just praise God that I am still here & hope that one day the obsession with saving guns instead of people will stop.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Really??? Are you being sarcastic? I was in a really bad mood. I probably should not have written what I did. I knew that as I wrote it. Anyway. I’m sorry if I offended anybody. That was not my intention at all. It really wasn’t. Ummm…anyway. At age 50, I have given up my dreams of law school. I’m now enrolled in the Key West community college for welding and boat motor repair. I’m going to weld some stuff in class right now. . I really didn’t mean to offend anybody. I just feel that people look at us on the “left”, as a bunch of babies. There is a time and a place to argue about semantics. I guess I just felt in the face of children being killed? Now’s not the time to argue about semantics. I’m sure none of us here would intentionally make fun of anybody. I know I certainly wouldn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glenn. I apologize. ..;)). I just assumed that people would jump all over me for saying what I did. OK. I’m off to cut some metal with an Oxy acetylene torch. …💋💋

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Glenn…. i’m so sorry. I’m sorry I miss read your comments. Thank you for supporting me. I live in big Pine Key. Ground Zero for hurricane Irma. I’m a bartender. And I’ve been helping entire community to a collective state of PTSD. Emotions are kind of all over the place. thank you so much for your kind comments. Things of just been really really strange lately.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Anne-Marie for taking the time to read this. I can only hope that one day the endless slaughter of innocents will end.

      Like

  2. Powerful piece. Few people know the reality of violent crimes. Especially, it seems, those advocating the good guys with guns nonsense. Talk to cops, MEs, trauma unit medical professionals and the victims and their families to really understand or at least hear some truth. Otherwise, as you do sccintly put it Skye, “shut the fuck up.” I hope to see more of your writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was the main focus of why I wanted to share my story; until you are in the thick of it, you have absolutely have no idea of what you would do. It burns my toast when I hear people say, “Well if it were me I’d do this or I’d do that.” Life doesn’t work that way & trauma affects people differently.

      Thank you so much Murray for taking the time to read it.

      Like

  3. Nothing wrong with the word fucking. It doesn’t negatively identify a group of people.
    I think it’s unfortunate for Skye that the editorial group made the decision to change a word for her when the word she chose was acceptable an the one you chose was not. Would you have replaced it with the word Nigger?? I think not (nor would I have found that acceptable).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow–lots to see here, and yeah, common decency and the value of life have all gone out the window.

    I think we all operate under the umbrella of “someone else’s problem.” As a basic example, our power used to go out all the time because of trees and power lines swaying and all that, and one day I got home from school and the lights were off. My neighbors told me it’d been off for three hours by the time i made it over (there were several around one person’s deck) and I asked if any of them had heard from the power company or called them.

    NOBODY had called. I was in high school and these adults hadn’t thought to call. So i went home and after some digging (with a flashlight) found the number on one of dad’s bills. The company didn’t even know the lines were messed with. An hour later the power came back on. So now, I don’t care if my neighbors are all at home–we get a power outage lasting more than 5 minutes, I make a call. I don’t wait on anybody else to take care of it anymore. We all think that somebody else will handle it, that they’ll know what to do about it. If you know, freaking do it.

    That’s what I hate about all these “warning signs” that come out of the woodwork after most events. Where were they before? Well, somebody didn’t think it was that important, or the person didn’t mean it, or they didn’t think it was their problem. When the bodies hit the floor, it becomes EVERYBODY’s problem.

    I’m glad you were okay through that home invasion. That’s scary, and hope we all get our sense of watching out for each other back. We’ll have to do some major societal overhauling, though.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. When the power outage situation occurred with you & your neighbors, even though you were younger, you used common sense & took the matter into your own hands, made the call & resolved the issue. It’s sad that most people have to wait for someone else to take care of the problem when they are more than capable of doing it themselves.

      You’re right, we do need a MAJOR societal overhaul. We need to get back to the basics of the Golden Rule & loving thy neighbor. If something doesn’t seem right, we need to say something.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read it & for your empathy. Goodness knows more people need to learn that.

      Like

  5. Pingback: Unless you’ve been there, just shut the fuck up! — THE SHINBONE STAR – Philosophy Redux

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