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Thread: Stereotypes of Urban Youth (Rant)

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Stereotypes of Urban Youth (Rant)

    I admit that I did not grow up in a dense urban area and may not fully understand the customs or social hierarchy that is always changing in our cities, however there are some cases where I wonder where the hell the parents of these kids are. Yesterday while driving down a dense urban commercial street, with several cars, I noticed a group of three youths (one guy and two girls) walking some distance in front of us on the sidewalk. The male wearing baggy jeans, hanging down far enough to show most of his boxers, and a football jersey (Raiders), noticed traffic coming, decided to walk down the center of the auto traffic lane. Not to cross to the other side of the street, but just to walk down the street. Our eyes met and he gave me the “hey, I’m walkin’ here” look. As I approached and slowed down to around 5 miles per hour, I firmly pressed on the horn and continued until at length he relocated to the sidewalk. The two girls that he was walking with stayed on the sidewalk and were laughing thinking that the incident was funny. All I can think was I hope that investors don’t see actions like this, because it hurts the image of the city.

    Over the past few weeks, several urban youth were arrested for fighting at the central bus station in downtown. They had to close the station (making people wait outside) for a few days in hopes that it would quell the issues, but they just re-sparked.

    Last week (today in fact) in a less affluent section of the city, several urban youths were sitting on a porch with friends, when a car (with several other urban youths) drove up, and opened fire, killing a 17 year old. The police suspect gang violence.

    WTF???? *(&@$ (*@^#_ ^#^@)% It is no wonder that so many youth in our older urban core areas have acquired such a bad reputation. What is wrong with these cases that so many kids are out causing problems, getting in fights, and even killing each other? More so, are we, as residents of a city, going to respect or fear these pathetic little brats?

    I think that a big part of the problem is that these kids have no role model to look up to. “No body from here makes it big, so why bother” is a common response when asked why they don’t stay in school or do anything productive. Recently, on a local radio talk show they where discussing this problem with callers and there were all these excuses from “Oh the kids are bored”, “The City holds them down”, “They don’t get the same opportunities as the suburban kids.” GET REAL... parents and kids themselves need to step up, grow up, and take responsibility for their actions, or the actions of their kids.

    Do you have the same problem? Do you agree with this or disagree, and why? What are your thoughts? Is this just another example of the continued degradation of our society as a whole, or just a sample from a common idea of a rebellious youth?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Cyburbian statler's avatar
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    If you really want a better understanding of the mentality of these 'urban youths' I highly recommend the book 'Code of the Street' by Elijah Anderson.

    While definitely biased (the author has very obvious sympathies for the people he is studying), it is an excellent look at the underpinnings of the attitudes and actions of these kids.

    I came away with mixed feelings on the issue. While there are a lot socio-economic things that they can't control which affect a lot of their decision making, there are still a lot things they can control, and just chose...not to.
    But I suppose by the same token I make and have made a lot stupid decisions too..especially at that age.
    "So, if a city has a personality, maybe it also has a soul. Maybe it dreams." -Gaiman
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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    GET REAL... parents and kids themselves need to step up, grow up, and take responsibility for their actions, or the actions of their kids.
    I absolutely agree with this statement. It is an issue with kids in general, whether urban, suburban, or rural. A lot of parents are not accountable for their kids any longer and make excuses for them. People need to get real and take control and not be afraid to say no, or to even discipline their kids.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by statler View post
    If you really want a better understanding of the mentality of these 'urban youths' I highly recommend the book 'Code of the Street' by Elijah Anderson.

    While definitely biased (the author has very obvious sympathies for the people he is studying), it is an excellent look at the underpinnings of the attitudes and actions of these kids.

    I came away with mixed feelings on the issue. While there are a lot socio-economic things that they can't control which affect a lot of their decision making, there are still a lot things they can control, and just chose...not to.
    But I suppose by the same token I make and have made a lot stupid decisions too..especially at that age.
    And I think that you hit it right on the bulls eye... people are where they are at because of the decisions that they make. Just take a look at many of the immigrants who have moved to the US and became legal US citizens. Statically, they are more likely to become first generation millionaires then are people who are born in this country. Too often, too many people say that luck has given them a bad hand and they just need some help. I say that is a load of crap. We make our own decisions and we need to live by them.

    Unfortunately, I would bet that the kid who walked down the drive lane of the road was raised in a house hold that has irresponsible parents who refuse to grow up.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    The personal experience you described sounds like it was all about youthful bravado – a young stud trying to impress the ladies with his ‘tude - both in dress and behavior. The attire you describe is akin to a ‘uniform’ – the young man was simply mimicking the style of dress that he’d seen in others – really the same reason 99% of us dress and act the way we do. This is not something that will change anytime soon, if ever.

    The violence you mentioned is a more serious matter. I’m sure a number of folks on these forums know a lot more about the dynamics of gangs and gang violence than I do, so I’ll let them comment on that part of the equation.

    What to do about poverty in our urban cores? The folks on the political right say that all the poor need to do is set specific goals, work hard and everyone can achieve success (the unspoken subtext behind this position is it’s really just another way of saying “if only you’d think and act more like ME – that is, adopt MY culture/attitudes/opinions - you could enjoy the same material prosperity I do.”). The folks on the left point to a number of factors such as history, racism, various institutional practices, and lack of opportunities to explain the causes of poverty and maintain that we need to alter the institutions and fabric of society to ‘fix’ the problem (again, the unspoken subtext is that it’s another way of saying “these people are entirely victims and share no personal responsibility for either their current state or future well-being”). These are, of course, both gross characitures of the extreme polar political positions. Reality probably lies somewhere in between and any successful strategy to eliminate poverty must somehow synthesize elements from both views; it must be recognized that someone’s culture needs to change and that individuals must assume personal responsibility for improving their lot in life, while also acknowledging/altering the various societal biases and attitudes that help both lead and contribute to conditions of poverty - it needs to be accomplished both on a personal AND societal level.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Welcome to my world.

    To think I used to be one of those idiots. Sure we didn't wear our pants down around our knees (we had skinny leather ties and baggy pants back then!). Styles change, it is not much sense fighting them. Eventually people grow up, though I do see more and more folks around my age (40) dressing that way, I laugh.

    Violence is very much part of city life in the United States. Places like GR are just big enough to have a lot of drug activity.

    The fact is, a lot of these kids come from homes where their parents are drunks, on drugs, or are just plain losers. They have no direction.

    Unfortunately you can't help all of them so what can you do? First of all, keep yourself together. The fact that the kids see that there are people that live around them that actually have professional jobs and not selling dope makes you a role model for them, even though they do not realize it.

    Look for volunteer opportunities. About a half mile from my home a new boys and girls club is opening up. This is something the neighborhood has never had before. I am going to try to volunteer there as soon as I hear about opportunities. Believe it or not, I've logged onto their website and can't find jack on what programs they will offer or how to volunteer, but I am keeping my ears and eyes open. This way I can interact with the neighborhood kids on a more social level without looking like a "Dateline child sex offender" and be more of a role model.

    I alway think of the modern parable about the little girl on the beach where thousands of star fish have washed ashore. She was seen picking up the star fish and throwing them back into the ocean. When told it doesn't matter, she explained back that it mattered to the one that she saved.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian martini's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    I absolutely agree with this statement. It is an issue with kids in general, whether urban, suburban, or rural. A lot of parents are not accountable for their kids any longer and make excuses for them. People need to get real and take control and not be afraid to say no, or to even discipline their kids.
    To take this a step further, parents NEED to stop trying to be "friends" with their kids. They need to stop being the "cool" parents to get their kids higher on the popularity scale. Of course, as a parent, I would like to maintain a sense of relevance, maybe even 'coolness', but at the expense of my daughters behavior? Nah. I'll be the old fart gladly.
    You're more boring than you know.

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    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    I doubt if there is a simple answer or solution.
    I have had young people brag about doing "time" in a major prison. When I would check it out, they had never been incarcerated, but this was part of their value system, wanting to belong and wanting to be looked up to. Their way of achieving status.
    I agree with Detroit Planner, Mrs Katt and myself try and volunteer as much as we can, especially with the Boys and Girls Clubs. We meet other volunteers who escaped the "street and the drug culture" and want to give back and try and help others. Because of this I know that we are doing the right thing. We will probably never personally know if we helped some one or not. But we will continue to volunteer. The look on the kids faces when they accomplish something is one of the greatest rewards that one can have, but we don't do it for that reason.
    I agree that we have to be role models.
    I have also watched pro athletes donate time and money to the Boys and Girls Clubs, but do not want the publicity for whatever reason. So they are doing it because they care. This goes a long way towards changing the street value sytem to a positive value system.
    As I said before, I don't think there is a simple solution or answer, and I will never know if we made a difference or not, but that does not mean we will quit volunteering or trying

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    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I admit that I did not grow up in a dense urban area and may not fully understand the customs or social hierarchy that is always changing in our cities, however there are some cases where I wonder where the hell the parents of these kids are. Yesterday while driving down a dense urban commercial street, with several cars, I noticed a group of three youths (one guy and two girls) walking some distance in front of us on the sidewalk. The male wearing baggy jeans, hanging down far enough to show most of his boxers, and a football jersey (Raiders), noticed traffic coming, decided to walk down the center of the auto traffic lane. Not to cross to the other side of the street, but just to walk down the street. Our eyes met and he gave me the “hey, I’m walkin’ here” look. As I approached and slowed down to around 5 miles per hour, I firmly pressed on the horn and continued until at length he relocated to the sidewalk. The two girls that he was walking with stayed on the sidewalk and were laughing thinking that the incident was funny. All I can think was I hope that investors don’t see actions like this, because it hurts the image of the city.
    With the exception of the fashion you just described my teenage years in the suburbs. I wasn't known as a trouble-maker by anyone but i definitely did sh** way worse than walk down the middle of the street, yet no one seemed to be threatened by it because i was just some suburban white kid.

    We annoyed the crap out of childless households in our neighborhood, we annoyed all adults at the mall, downtown, or at the beach. We were loud, obnoxious, and generally ran around and acted crazy. We were also territorial. I was never much of a fighter but that's not to say we didn't get in any and didn't get in a lot of pushing and shouting matches. The jocks at school were always figthing each other and kids from other schools (they just usually knew better to do it outside of school). The annual Fair Haven Fireman's Fair was well known for years as a high school battleground. Homecoming games were notorious for their fights that would clear the stands. The two Catholic school rivals would fight whenever and wherever they met.

    This isn't unique to the US. I've seen the same groups of kids hanging out in London, Lyon, and Montreal. I've had to work with French teenagers for the last 3 summers and every year my patience gets tried a little more.

    Do you have the same problem? Do you agree with this or disagree, and why? What are your thoughts? Is this just another example of the continued degradation of our society as a whole, or just a sample from a common idea of a rebellious youth?
    Now, the difference between me and the dozen or so teenagers that hang out on my steps every day after school is . . . well, they're better behaved than most of the kids i went to high school with, for that reason i don't bother them and try to shoo them away; The "older kids" in the neighborhood that they have to deal with aren't finishing up community college, they're dealing drugs, and most of them have done a few years in prison; They almost universally come from single parent households with that single-parent working 50+ hours a week to keep the household together; They don't have the same access to jobs that i did and even if they did, they're likely to be "clowned" by the older, drug-dealing kids in the neighborhood for getting a straight job; They never go anywhere, they don't go on vacation, they never see the suburbs, the farthest they probably go is to South St. or to Center City., maybe they have a cousin that lives in a neighborhood that's worse than this one, that other world, the one they see on TV all the time, it's a fairy-tale to them; and still, they're all well behaved when they're on the corner (where my house happens to be) because their parents (and aunts and grandparents) can see them and they can definitely hear them. What they do when they're not "on the block" is anyone's guess.

    All of the kids i went to high school with had hard-working parents, most of whom had been to college, the only danger we ever faced was from our peers and trying to cross the highway. We still managed to cause a lot of trouble but at some point, (probably around age 25 or 26 ) i realized it was time to grow up and pursue a future. It was by no means easy but at least i had role models. I knew what a successful household looked like. I knew that CDs didn't necessarily refer to music. I can't say as much for the kids around here and i certainly know they're not getting any of that in school.

    Teenagers are stupid and impulsive. That's their job. It's the job of all adults to remind them of where their boundaries are (and there are non-confrontational ways of doing it).

    I wouldn't bestow special attributes upon kids from the city just because they talk and dress differently. Lest you've forgotten it's suburban white kids who bring guns to school and shoot as many people as they can.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post

    GET REAL... parents and kids themselves need to step up, grow up, and take responsibility for their actions, or the actions of their kids.

    Do you have the same problem? Do you agree with this or disagree, and why? What are your thoughts? Is this just another example of the continued degradation of our society as a whole, or just a sample from a common idea of a rebellious youth?
    Welcome to urban America!

    Saying the parents need to take responsibility for the kids is a simple answer to a complex question. It’s like trying to solve the illegal immigration problem by deporting all the illegals. It sounds like a good idea but in reality the underlying issues are much more complex.

    In many urban cores you have single parent families where mom workers multiple jobs (or has a drug problem or does not care or does not know how to raise a child or a combination of the four) has little money and is gone from home and can not properly supervise her children. These unsupervised youths get into trouble and become society’s problem.

    That is why us urban lefties like social programs because you can tell parents all we want that you need to be better parents but in the end its us that deal with the consequences of their parental failings.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  11. #11

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    Another source for finding out what makes our youth this way is HBO's "The Wire", possibly the most realistic show on TV about urban life.

    I have long believed that poor, inner city black residents (black has not been mentioned here yet, but I think it is implied) are among the most isolated people in our country, almost on par with Native Americans on far-flung reservations. They are economically isolated, socially isolated, culturally isolated from the broader mainstream society that has its base in the suburbs. The extent of their being disadvantaged is due to their isolation.

    I didn't come from this environment, but I see it and work in it everyday. I'm a black man who was a product of a middle class environment on Detroit's northwest side. My parents went to college and got good jobs; I went to college and got a good job. I saw more of the world than just "the 'hood". But many kids in our inner cities simply see a mainstream life as unattainable, or selling out. So they rebel against mainstream symbols (like white guys driving down the street) by showing some defiance (like impeding progress).

    I think this isolation is behind the "keepin' it real" attitude that so many kids - and their equally isolated parents - have today.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I think that a big part of the problem is that these kids have no role model to look up to. “No body from here makes it big, so why bother” is a common response when asked why they don’t stay in school or do anything productive. Recently, on a local radio talk show they where discussing this problem with callers and there were all these excuses from “Oh the kids are bored”, “The City holds them down”, “They don’t get the same opportunities as the suburban kids.” GET REAL... parents and kids themselves need to step up, grow up, and take responsibility for their actions, or the actions of their kids.
    What parents?

    How can you expect kids to just "grow up"? Kids are by nature irresponsible. That is why they are in the care of their parents.

  13. #13
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    [mod hat on] By the way folks, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Mskis or any other poster's views on this thread my hat's off to you. This thread has had a number of thoughtful responses so far. This gets the nod for the FAC thread of the day in my book![/mod hat off]

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    You should take a drive down Diamond Street in Philly during the spring time. You'll begin to wonder if it is the car that belongs on the sidewalk, and the peeps in the street.

    I nearly kill someone at least once a week driving to school.

    "look both ways before...." crossing the street, driving your ATV through the redlight, riding your bike against traffic, etc....has no place in the urban dictionary.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    What parents?

    How can you expect kids to just "grow up"? Kids are by nature irresponsible. That is why they are in the care of their parents.
    Most parents would slap this kid upside the head, but because of the nature of this, I don’t think that they would do any ‘parenting’ in this case.

    While I agree that it is a shame that this is typical in many urban cities, I guess that my frustration about the first encounter that I listed above is that this kid purposefully walked into the road because traffic was coming. Now, I agree kids will be kids, boys will be boys, but what he did was just proof that he was trying to deliberately be disrespectful in a feeble attempt to assert some sort of power over me with his projection of authority. I would like to have projected him across the street with the front of my car for being stupid. (But then I would be to blame for not stopping in time)

    I don’t think that I would have had as much of a problem if he was painting a profanity laden statement on the side of a vacant building, but because this was purposefully directed at me, without the attempt to hide it, that is just arrogance.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    As mentioned earlier, what your are describing is not unusual youthful behavior. I think most adults look back on things that they did in their youth and are amazed at just how stupid, arrogant, etc. they were. There are things that I did that I hope my kids never ffind out about, not because I am ashamed, but because I don't want them to think that it is okay to do because dad did it.

    Saying it is an issue with parenting is an easy answer. It is a combination of many different things, and yes, some of the things you heard on the talk show are contributing factors. Like most things in life, there are multiple causes to certain reactions. I do think that it is a combination of absentee parents, lack of activities, lakc of interests, lack of role models, and the efect ofthe current popular culture. These things have been targeted for generations as the causes of wayward behavior of youth.

    Or, just blame video games.

  17. #17
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Perhaps we just need a good old fashioned economic depression. If one has to work hard labor to live, one tends to "growup" faster.

    This whole issue is, to be honest, too big for me to even attempt to analyze on a macro level. When confronted with it at a mirco level (aka personally) it's pretty straight forward - I choose not to live in the "dangerous neighborhoods where people shootup each other, if the kid decides to walk in the street I jsut drive around him, if my kid or my kids circle of friends started exhibited such behavior (regardless of the cultural signifiers) I would confront my kid and talk about it.

    I do think that it is no more or less prevalent now than in the past, it's just exhibited with different clothes and music.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cololi View post
    Or, just blame video games.
    Let’s not forget TV, Movies, and Music.

    Thanks 50 Cent, you @^#@$% *()#$)^%
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  19. #19
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by martini View post
    To take this a step further, parents NEED to stop trying to be "friends" with their kids. They need to stop being the "cool" parents to get their kids higher on the popularity scale. Of course, as a parent, I would like to maintain a sense of relevance, maybe even 'coolness', but at the expense of my daughters behavior? Nah. I'll be the old fart gladly.
    Quote Originally posted by off topic
    this reminded me of something my dad would say- he is the best old fart around- its awesome ha ha
    This is a really fascinating thread guys!
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    A few weeks ago in a rough neighborhood of Toledo (the north side) a teenager (about 15 or 16) struggled with a plainclothes policeman. During the struggle the kid pulled out a gun and shot and killed the officer. It was the first policeman to die on duty in Toledo since the early 1970s.

    This past weekend the local rag, The (Toledo) Blade ran an in-depth article about the kid, as the justice system debates whether or not to try him as an adult. The kid was from a very rural area of NW Ohio. His parents were always in some sort of trouble.....drugs, family violence. Eventually the kid and his mother moved to north Toledo.....a stark contrast to the lake area the kid grew up in.

    He morphed into a typical street kid, doing dirty whiskey, stealing to support a drug thing, walking the streets in a manner just like michaelski's description of the GR kids.

    But.....this Bear is old enough to remember punks and thugs in any decade I have lived through. It seems that the more things change.....the more they stay the same.

    Oh well....time to go watch BOYS DON'T CRY, followed by WEST SIDE STORY.

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  21. #21
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    [mod hat on] By the way folks, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Mskis or any other poster's views on this thread my hat's off to you. This thread has had a number of thoughtful responses so far. This gets the nod for the FAC thread of the day in my book![/mod hat off]
    Shut your piehole old man


























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  22. #22
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Let’s not forget TV, Movies, and Music.

    Thanks 50 Cent, you @^#@$% *()#$)^%
    So you and Hillary Clinton do have something in common afterall...
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  23. #23
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    So you and Hillary Clinton do have something in common afterall...
    That and neither of us think that Bill will ever be faithful to her.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  24. #24
         
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    Not sure we can completely blame everything on the parents. Are we to live being afraid of punks like this? (I think that was someone's question here) ...a few weeks ago, a gang was on the front lawn of a woman's house (looking for her son) she told the kids to leave, they wouldn't, SHE shot at the kids on her lawn, in self defense of her own property, SHE is in jail now and being tried for murder. I do not know any facts beyond that but I think its crazy that she would be tried when only trying to protect herself and her property.
    So yes, perhaps that is what authority wants us to do right now, be afraid and continue to live in fear.

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