race racism rant

Stop Saying “All Lives Matter”


There have been plenty of explanations on social media about why you should stop saying “all lives matter.” Yet I continue to see it shared by well-meaning friends who think they are adding balance and reason to a debate that has gone off kilter. Despite deep misgivings about my ability to sway anyone’s opinion, I have at least to make clear why I believe saying “all lives matter” does not add balance or reason and actually shuts down the conversations we need to have about race if we are going to make any progress toward a more just world.

Here is the best analogy I’ve heard.

Suppose you and your brothers and sisters have just come in from a day outside playing hard. You smell dinner, and you all sit down around the table—after having washed your hands, of course. Your mom comes in and starts ladling food onto plates, starting with your oldest brother and working her way around the table. When she gets to you, she skips you and continues with your sister who is sitting next to you. Everyone acts as if nothing unusual has happened. Your dad says a brief prayer, and everyone starts to eat.

“Hey!” you say, “I’m hungry!”

Your oldest brother looks at you. “We’re all hungry, bro,” he says and goes back to eating.

Of course, you have no quarrel with the literal truth of your brother’s statement. It’s obvious to you that everyone is hungry. But you are still angry because everyone else acts as if you have food when you don’t. In saying, “We’re all hungry,” your brother is implying that you have the same capability to satisfy your hunger that everyone else has. Or perhaps he is implying that you believe your hunger to be somehow special, so you deserve special treatment. In fact, all you want is to be treated the same as everyone else.

When you respond to “black lives matter” with “all lives matter,” it sounds like you are saying either, “blacks have no reason to complain because we got rid of racism in America,” or “blacks want special treatment.” In fact, however, racism is still a continuing threat to black lives, and what they want is to be treated like whites. They want not to be killed with impunity by white police officers or white vigilantes. They want not to be seen as a threat because of the color of their skin. They want not to be treated with suspicion or alarm when they are birdwatching in a park, shopping at WalMart, or entering their own home.

So stop saying “all lives matter.” Until black lives matter as much as white lives, all lives do not matter. You are not being reasonable or adding balance. You are being infuriating.

culture death logic probability rant

Implausible Murder


I’ve become a fan of NCIS. I watch an episode almost every night. I like it. (I’m currently on season 7, so don’t worry about reading any spoilers for a recent episode.) Every once in a while, however, they come up with a plot that is so full of holes, it should never have seen airtime.

Case in point, this episode, called Code of Conduct. At the end the episode it is revealed that the murder was committed by the victim’s step-daughter, a short, teen-aged girl. She planned the murder and intended to frame her step-mother. She bought duct tape and a garden hose using her step-mother’s credit card and used those items in a somewhat clumsy attempt to make the murder look like a suicide. All of that is fine as far as it goes, but there are lots of details that do not make sense.

If you are going to take the trouble to deliberately murder someone, you certainly aren’t going to leave anything to chance. Along with your planning and preparation—making sure you have an alibi, throwing suspicion on someone else—you certainly will not neglect to use a method that will guarantee your victim ends up dead.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing but admiration for the writers of crime dramas tasked with coming up with ever more innovative, even bizarre, ways of divorcing souls from bodies. Nevertheless, I can’t help thinking that one crucial criterion for a planned murder is this: Is the plan certain to succeed? Does it depend too much on chance?

In this episode we are asked to believe that this girl was smart enough to make a plan to make her step-father’s death look like a suicide. She bought the necessary supplies. Yet the means she actually used to kill him was to bring him a thermos of liquid nitrogen, telling him it was coffee. She apparently gave no thought to the possibility that he would pour it into a cup before drinking it or that he would simply look at it and wonder why it didn’t look like coffee or that he might take a tentative sip (thinking it was hot) instead of taking a fatal gulp. It’s not that I can’t imagine a Marine gulping down coffee without looking at it. It’s that I can’t imagine a murderer relying on that behavior to commit the murder.

But that’s not all.

The murderer was discovered because she drove her dad’s car and left the seat adjusted for her small body. She brought him the fatal drink, waited until he was dead, then manhandled his six-foot corpse into the car parked in the driveway, attached the garden hose to the exhaust pipe and threaded it through the window and plugged the holes with duct tape. She did all this in the driveway where everything she did would be visible from the street. In fact, there were kids next door throwing TP into a tree and laughing the way only teen boys laugh, and they were the ones who discovered the Marine’s body. Again, it’s not that I can’t imagine a teen girl having the chutzpah to put a corpse in a car where any passerby could see it. It’s that I can’t imagine that being part of a well-designed plan.

adult rant sex

Adult What?

Okay, I wasn’t going to write anymore on Chip’s Rants, but now I find myself with a rant, and it just belongs here.


Last week I was in Wisconsin, which appears to have more adult-themed businesses than any other midwestern state. I got to thinking that it was really a misappropriation of the term “adult.” We talk about adult movies, adult bookstores, adult magazines, and even adult superstores. What we really mean is sex. “Adult” is supposed to refer to someone who has become mature enough to know that not every desire should be gratified, that in fact, the gratification of some desires is harmful to oneself or others.


Of course, sex is supposed to be for adults, but even here we send mixed messages to our children. Most sexual activity between adults and minors is criminal, yet even a cursory look at what we teach in sex ed classes in the schools reveals that we expect our kids to be sexually active (but only with other minors, of course!) before they reach adulthood. And it’s ridiculous to expect a young man or woman to be suddenly ready for the absurd mish-mash of “adult” sex when he or she turns eighteen. But being eighteen is all that’s required to subscribe to (or even participate in producing) the most disgusting porn imaginable. There’s nothing mature or grown-up or really adult about it.