The Less-Dead

The Less Dead

I’m one of those writers who require background noise while I write. In a perfect world, I’d do most of my writing in a bustling coffee shop in the middle of a vibrant neighborhood. A French Quarter balcony in New Orleans preferred, but I’m currently in my sleepy seaside village of Pass Christian, Mississippi, so I subsidize the lack of noise with music or television.

The other day I had The Thom Hartmann show on Free Speech TV. Full disclosure: In my opinion, Hartmann is one of the brighter social contemporary minds there are and I highly recommend his books.

While I only half listen while working, I was riveted when he said, “We still practice human sacrifice in America…”

I was like, “What? Come on, Thom! You’re really living up to your ‘shock jock’ reputation!” Then I sat back, listened, thought about it, and almost called him, but the idea is too complex. It’s too maniacal and nuanced for a short conversation. Here’s the clip. http://www.thomhartmann.com/bigpicture/we-still-practice-human-sacrifice-america-and-why-and-how.

Here are my thoughts: About 12 or 13 years ago, I took an undergrad victimology class. It was one of the most interesting classes I have ever taken. The title of the text book was The Killers Among Us: An Examination of Serial Murder and its Investigation, 2nd Edition by Steven A. Egger. Gotta love that! Now you know why I got a Behavioral Science degree to augment my writing!

In his book on page 88, Egger introduces us to the idea or the theory of The Less-Dead. In other words, people deemed less meaningful or valuable in life by society are, therefore less valuable or meaningful in death aka, the Less-Dead. To Egger’s way of thinking, the Less-Dead are targeted more by serial killers and other serial criminals because we, the people as a society deem them less valuable or even bad. They are mostly female, but not limited to that particular gender; prostitutes, LGBTQ, addicts, homeless, people of color, and generally poor people. Egger refers to these “marginalized groups of society who compromise the majority of the serial killer’s victims” as the Less-Dead because “before their death, they ‘never were’ according to society.” He goes on to explain that as a result, law enforcement feels “less pressure” to investigate properly. “They are not ‘like us’, so their deaths do not matter.” Which, to this writer’s way of thinking perpetuates their societal devaluation and continued disadvantaged victimology; a horrendous and vicious cycle. It also goes a long way to explain police brutality in certain neighborhoods. Incidentally, the 2nd edition of Egger’s book was published in 2002, so this explanation is nothing new. It’s just been devalued to great travesty.

Think about it. If a victim is white, affluent, and especially beautiful, the media will spend days reporting on the crime. Where is the media when that victim is poor or black or from an urban environ? Where are the media if the victim is a member of the LGBTQ community? How about if the victim is homeless or addicted? Are these people somehow less deserving of the attention? If so, why?

Ours is to ask why and have the courage to learn. In essence, to become more human.

In this context, Thom is very much on the mark. He’s on to something too when he mentions economic disparity as well as mass incarceration and the death penalty that are part and parcel to our Criminal Justice System. These contemporary issues illustrate how we sacrifice millions of our fellow Americans every day. They may not be quick bloody sacrifices as in our past, but slow ones are oftentimes more brutal.

This begs the question. Are we the killers among us?

I continue my work on The Zombie Company Series. I’ve just finished the final rough draft of Part 3 of Book 2, Illusion of Power. My collaborator, Thad David wrote some phenomenal action scenes. He creates a visceral distinct line between the living and the not-so-living that draws us in and makes us think about what it means to be alive, to fight every battle every day to not be the Less-Dead.

As the zombie hordes grow in Illusion of Power and the political collapse and ensuing intrigue mounts, I can’t help but think of the reality of today’s Less-Dead. After all, in the time of The Zombie Scourge, they will be the first to succumb.

In the post zombie apocalyptic world, who will become the new Less-Dead?

Be mindful, my friends. Life is precious and so very short for too many.

J.

Pass Christian, MS

 

Just a moment for myself…and millions of other American women!

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A personal note about a certain long term and recently very public anxiety.

I’ve not been feeling well for quite some time now, so I made an appointment with my health care provider. On my way to see her, I had time to reflect. I am thankful to have her in my life, a Healthcare practitioner that has known me now for over a decade. She knows my history, my quirks, and helped me bring my own two daughters through their adolescent years. She is still my elder daughter’s care giver. She knows me and my family. I am fortunate.

Some would say I am blessed.

I drive the curvy Northern New Mexico roads of the Palo Fletchado mountain pass nestled high in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the Southern Rockies.

I drive with a grateful heart thinking about all the women who aren’t fortunate like I am who don’t have a longtime friend and caregiver and decent health insurance, so instead of just saying a prayer of thanks or carry on as so many do: “I have mine, so what do I care about others?” I vow to actually work with people who share my value and goal to help make more women fortunate like me and continue my support of organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Prayers are but empty vessels unless accompanied by action.

I arrived at my practitioner’s office about an hour later feeling a little better because feeling grateful has that effect.

After some catching up, demonstrative (at least from my end) conversation, and a brief exam, she assured me it’s nothing too serious, certainly not life threatening and gave me her initial diagnosis, and various treatment plans, but suggested more diagnostic testing before moving forward. I was now even more grateful that I’ll be OK.

Life is a gift that can too often be cut short.

I left her office feeling light of heart and stopped at the front desk to pay for the visit. My health insurance covered it and I know it will help cover the follow-up tests. Another moment of thanks.

Money can define the nature and quality of how we live in too many ways.

Now, having had multiple moments of gratitude, I got in my car to drive home. Light of heart with peace of mind, I fumble with my car keys. My phone beeped, so I checked it.

Too often we give in to technology at the behest of our balance.

The screen on my phone informed me that every single thing I felt grateful for that afternoon was in jeopardy. All the blessings I felt were in danger of disappearing because of lies and conspiracies!

 “Obamacare (the reason I am insured) must be repealed!”
 “No more Planned Parenthood!” The only healthcare option I will have if they take my insurance away.
 “Religious freedom allows corporations to decide if female employees can or cannot use birth control!” Which, by the way, treats my health issue.

And now, some lunatic fringe wants to shut down the entire US government to try to take all these things that I am so fortunate to have away from me!

This is personal because it is my reality. This is why I oppose the oppressive Republican Party, especially those on the fringe who are hell bent on ruining my and millions of other women’s lives.

This is the reality of today’s American woman.

J.

This female’s perspective.

at work _resized

 

I came across this HuffPo tweet today. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/07/mark-ruffalo-joss-whedon-feminism_n_7231636.html?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067 I have to admit that I have not seen Age of Ultron yet, so I can’t comment on the actual depiction of the Black Widow character in particular. It’s really beside the point of this post, anyway.

After reading the article, I began to wonder how many women actually create and direct female roles. My hunch was that maybe if more female characters were created by females there’d be fewer complaints about how female characters are depicted. I’m not a screen writer, or a director. I’m just a character-driven fiction writer who, at times wrestles with trying to figure out how a character of the opposite sex would react in a given situation.

Feminists, don’t hate me, but here’s the reality. Men and women are different because of our biology and our shared culture. Being different from men doesn’t make women inferior, though. In fact, it can be empowering. This scares some men, which is part of the problem. I think it’s this fear that drives men and women to do terrible things. Men that I know don’t call me a bitch anymore because I am a bitch. I embrace it and am free to exercise my bitch potential anytime I see fit. What are you gonna do about it? Is calling me a name all you have? How about stop being afraid and hear me? I don’t think you’re an asshole, yet. Women ought not be so quick with their epithets, either.

Men, when you appreciate feminism, it means you’re getting it, or at least trying to. My hat’s off to you with all due respect! Thank you, but your understanding is limited because you’re men. Now wait. Don’t hate me, fellas. I love you guys, and I appreciate your struggles as you do mine. I try to empathize, and even sympathize with you. I think I do a decent job of it, but I don’t know what it’s like to be you any more than you know what it’s like to be me, but I love the challenge of it, don’t you?

My hunch proved to be correct. There aren’t enough women involved in the creative process in the film industry. http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/01/13/study-93-percent-of-top-films-in-2014-lacked-a-female-director

http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/women-directed-17-of-the-top-250-grossing-films-of-2014-20150108

We need more women writing, directing, and taking on other leadership roles. To me, this is the only authentic way to bring realistic female perspectives to the table. Men who are courageous enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with women and women who are equally courageous to stand with men should be commended (and rewarded equally) no matter what kind of work they do. Let’s not vilify each other for our attempts at understanding, even if they aren’t up to snuff. Everyone flops once in a while, no matter their gender.

How about we all get over ourselves, muster some courage, stop the nonsense, celebrate and explore our differences, and make them work for us to create awesome stories? Sounds pretty cool to me. I know it’s possible. I do it every day that I work with Thad David on The Zombie Company Crusade Series. It’s not difficult. It starts with respect…from both genders.

J.