33 Years On, A Tragedy That Still Causes Me Much Anxiety


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Marines Clear Up the Carnage of the Bombing

Marines Clear Up the Carnage of the Bombing

Thirty-three years ago yesterday, October 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a van loaded with explosives into the barracks of the US Marines in Beirut, killing 241 of them and wounding many more. The marines were sent into Beirut over a year earlier to keep the peace between Israeli forces and Lebanese militias. Therefore, the bombing of the barracks had a great impact for many Americans. Flags were flown at half mast for a week and there was a genuine sense of mourning during that time. Then when America felt it had mourned enough for the fallen marines, it went back to its business and seemed to forget about it.

Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t forget it that quickly. Reason was that the unit that got hit over there was the one I had spent nearly three-quarters of my military life with, First Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment. I served, lived and partied with many of those marines who were over there at the time. They’re loss weighed particularly heavy on me. My problem was that I felt I had no one really to talk about it with. I remember before the bombing that I mentioned to someone that my old unit was over there at the time but it appeared that person didn’t really believe me. That where certain anxieties started.

The worry of people not believing anything I said goes back to the time period which influenced me to write “He Was Weird.” Like Mark in the story, I was accused of telling loads of lies and fake stories. True, a good number of those things were gross exaggerations and fantasies which I converted into reality but I wasn’t the liar I was made out to be. I know now that in many cases, the people hearing those stories took what I was saying the wrong way and totally blew it further out of proportion. Often times, their version was completely different to what I had said originally. Still, it resulted in me being very guarded in the things I said and wouldn’t say anything unless I had concrete evidence to back it up. While I could back up the fact that it was indeed my old unit that was blown up in Beirut, my anxieties told me it was best not to make it common knowledge.

As a result, I swallowed how I was feeling about the loss of my friends in Beirut. However, I did mourn in the way I knew how. Many of my closest friends from my old unit were big Cheech and Chong fans, so one evening at work, I found myself doing a monologue from a scene in “Up in Smoke.” I got a lot of weird looks that time. A year later, when Ronald Reagan was running for re-election, I stated that I couldn’t vote for him because he ordered my friends to their death. In a separate scene, a friend, who was a devout Born Again Christian, said he was voting for Reagan because he wasn’t afraid to use the military. My response was that because of that, many of my friends are dead. He didn’t have an answer for that but not long after, he pontificated on how the evil heathens that made up America’s military back then had corrupted me. My guess, that was the reason why he wasn’t too bothered about Lebanon was because It was a bunch of heathens who got killed. Then again, that’s often how America’s peace time military is viewed.

Scene from Up In Smoke

Scene from Up In Smoke

The burden that this was placed upon me began to be lifted three years after the event when I came to the UK. There were people who were willing to listen to me without judgement. In fact, I married one of them. What I hoped the final nail in the coffin came when I saw a documentary on the 10th anniversary of the bombing. That did give me a lot of absolution, however, the anxieties still haven’t gone away and I still think that most of America chooses to keep it swept under the carpet. Three years ago, I posted a question about the 30th Anniversary of the bombing on an opinion site and only one person stated he remembered the event but confessed that he didn’t know it was the 30th anniversary. It is now the 33rd anniversary and I will stop and drink a toast remembering my friends who were killed on that day. I hope those who read this will join me. However, I still believe that the United States owes the Lebanon veterans an apology.



To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477338249&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird




















Does Society Itself Create a Bullying Culture?


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This morning I have discovered this piece by Mark Karlin which gives a very interesting and alternative view of bullying. No matter what your personal politics are, I think everyone should have a read of this.

What causes bullying in the United States? In Bully Nation, Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass show how US inequalities of power, militarism and aggressive capitalism make both personal and institutional bullying commonplace. Click here to order the book from Truthout and learn what we can do to stop this insidious trend!

The following is an interview exploring the systemic problem of bullying in US society. Truthout speaks with Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass, authors of Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society.

Mark Karlin: We often approach bullying from a single perspective. For instance, someone might start a campaign to stop bullying in the schools. The subheadline in your book, however, indicates that bullying cannot be stopped by isolating it: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society. How did you come to see this as a systemic cultural problem?

Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass: Bullying has been a means of controlling people, putting them in “their place,” for perhaps as long as there have been humans. Until about 20 years ago, it was dismissed as “normal,” a rite of passage that children and adolescents must go through and “get over.” Some endure relatively little of it — perhaps they are bullies themselves — and it leaves little long-term impact. For others, it is a trauma that leaves lifelong scars.

For the most part, the discourse on bullying has been controlled by psychologists, who see it as a problem for individuals who need therapy, but we need to look at why it is so entrenched; do powerful people and institutes have an interest in encouraging and perpetuating it?

We live in militarized capitalism. Capitalism assumes competition — winners and losers. Militarism requires violence, aggression and submission to authority. Bullying builds these very traits. Psychology is inadequate to understand the cause and power of bullying. Indeed, bullying is about power, and psychology hardly has a concept of power. It is all about individuals changing their attitudes. Sociology and politics are much better at understanding power. The 1950s sociologist C. Wright Mills spoke of the “sociological imagination,” where he argued you cannot separate “personal troubles” from “public issues.” We need the sociological imagination to understand bullying — how are children raised to blend into militarized capitalism? What kind of school system does militarized capitalism need? How do school authorities encourage a student culture which prepares for militarized capitalism and sees bullying as a “normal” part of life?

I am intrigued by the phrases in the book: “militarized capitalism” and “capital bullying.” Can you explain the difference?

Not all capitalist societies are militarized (think Costa Rica or Sweden), and not all militarized societies are capitalist (think Russia or Saudi Arabia). We sometimes forget this because the US has so seamlessly melded militarism and capitalism, creating “militarized capitalism.” Militarism is, inherently, a bullying force, and independently, capitalism is very much a bully system. So all militarized states, even those not capitalist, are bullies. And the same is true of capitalist states which are not militarist.

Charles Derber (left) and Yale R. Magrass. (Photos courtersy of Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass)Charles Derber (left) and Yale R. Magrass. (Photos courtersy of Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass)But when you have a militarized capitalist system, the effects are multiplied. Both the militaristic and capitalist elements of the system create bullying — and the synergy creates super-bullying. That is one of the reasons the US is the most powerful and dangerous bully nation.

The term “capital bullying” — which is the title of Chapter 2 — refers to the bullying inherent in capitalism. Capital bullying refers to the bullying carried out by capitalist elites even in non-militarized societies. The capitalist class (including corporations) bullies workers, consumers, suppliers, corporate rivals and suppliers. Of course, Marx built his whole theory of capitalist exploitation as a bullying relation between the capitalist class and the working class. Since he developed this in his masterpiece,Capital, we thought it apt to call such bullying “capital bullying.”

How does the 2016 election, and specifically Donald Trump, provide an illustration of “bully nation”?

Donald Trump embodies most people’s image of a bully. With his insults, put-downs and even violent threats, he looks like an over-sized, over-aged schoolyard bully. But again, we must be careful not be overly psychological.

There is a more important sociological-political question: why is he so popular, at least in some circles? People often say Hitler was crazy, but that begs the question: how did a lunatic gain millions of followers and take over one of the most advanced countries in the world? Although they are brutal and cruel, bullies are often admired. When Trump had his reality show — “The Apprentice” — people cheered when he announced “You’re fired!” In a time of anxiety, when wages have been stagnant for decades, when white males fear their status threatened by women and people of color, when third-world peoples can defy the United States in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, some may feel a need for a protector who will “make America great again.” By “great,” Trump means America must feel free to go anywhere it wants, do anything it wants, anywhere in the world, with impunity. Nobody can be allowed to mess with America. A strong-man — a bully — is needed. In order to protect you, he must make sure no one can challenge him — he must be able to destroy you. The more effectively the bully bullies, the more secure you will feel. You can even feel empowered in his glow; you can be part of the dominant caste, the winning team. Personally, your life may not be great, but at least you can be part of something great — the world bully.

Can you discuss a bit about racial and class bullying?

Capitalism is bullying; it is competition — winners and losers. Class inequality is at the core of capitalism. The weak deserve their fate. Anyone who can be bullied deserves to be. The poor don’t have the stamina and the will. They must submit to the power of those who have the strength to build industries, fortunes and empires. The strong are meant to rule the weak. For the economy to thrive, the 1% must be free to bully the 99%.

Racial bullying is not essential to militarized capitalism, but it is useful. The United States began when Europeans crossed the Atlantic to seize the lands of Native Americans and annihilate them. They were free to do so because the Natives were defined by Europeans as inferior uncivilized people, unfit to be free, have their own culture and their own land, maybe even unfit to live. The Europeans were chosen by a higher force. They had “Manifest Destiny” to bully, dominate and prevail.

At first, the Europeans tried to enslave the Natives, to bully them into doing their work for them, but that proved impractical as the Natives died out or escaped into lands that they knew better than the Europeans. Instead, the Europeans turned to Africans who again they defined as less-than-human, child-like creatures, incapable of taking care of themselves, who needed the European’s civilization and protection. They had to be bullied for their own good but 20 million were forced to cross the Atlantic in the “Middle Passage,” with half dying on the way.

Black slavery may have made poor whites even poorer, deepened class divides and may have enhanced class bullying, but at least poor whites could feel they were part of the bullying race. However, it made a select few very rich, with more wealth coming from slavery than from land, crops, railroads or factories. Racial bullying has reinforced class bullying. It has divided the 99% and brought many within the 99% to identify with the 1% rather than challenge them.

When slavery ended, racial bullying against Blacks continued in the form of Jim Crow segregation, and even when that ended, racial bullying subsists with evidence like police brutality against Blacks. Racial bullying helps account for the popularity of people like Donald Trump.

Many people probably don’t think of environmental bullying. Can you explain the concept?

In our era of catastrophic climate change, it is hard not to think about “environmental bullying.” But while all militarized capitalism creates devastating environmental effects, we did not find any works that use this term.

In everyday life, of course, most know that some people bully their dogs or other pets. People also realize that there is a culture of animal bullying — like the deadly dogfighting business that Michael Vick turned into a huge news story. And most people are also aware that agribusiness — whether Purdue, Tyson or Cargill — turns bullying of animals into a merciless profit engine.

But while it is quite obvious that animals are bullied, it may seem less clear that plants or soil or rocks can be bullied. Bullying implies the victim can experience some form of consciousness. While many Indigenous cultures believe all of life and nature have spirit or consciousness, Western societies have constructed a nonsentient view of plants and all nature, permitting humans to attack and destroy all forms of life.

Science now shows that many plants do, indeed, have remarkable forms of consciousness and communication. Recent studies of trees show that they communicate by intertwining their roots, and actually survive and prosper by building “tree communities.” Scientists studying forests now talk of “lonely” trees which become isolated and die quickly.

But what about rocks? Can you bully a rock? If you hack it apart or blow it up, will it suffer or feel pain? This seems less clear, so we introduce the concept of “environmental bludgeoning.” It is our term to describe human violence against natural objects that may not have consciousness. The book explores the relation between environmental bullying and bludgeoning — and shows how militarized capitalism fuels both, now threatening to destroy not just humans but all species and perhaps, nature itself.

In your epilogue, you discuss some new ways to think about reducing bullying. Can you describe a few of your ideas?

The conventional psychological view — that bullying is simply a form of personal disorder or mental illness — leads to the idea that therapy is the only solution. This leads to a virtual industry of school counseling — giving jobs to shrinks, psychologists, social workers and teachers — in an effort that has not stopped the persistence of bullying by kids (in the schoolyard or online).

We are hardly surprised, since the therapeutic approach overlooks the main root of the problem. When kids or adults bully, they are responding to the norms or incentives of their companies and their militarized society. They are not “sick” or maladjusted or “under-socialized;” they are rather already well adjusted to the larger system and don’t need therapy to become further adjusted.

We discuss the rise of a significant “anti-bullying” movement in the schools and the larger society that has good intentions but remains plagued by its psychological focus. Bullying will remain rampant until we throw out the conventional wisdom and focus on the roots of the problem.


Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying SocietyLearn how the American establishment creates a bullying society.

Click here now to get the book!

That means using the “sociological imagination” and seeing that many personal troubles — and bullying is a prime example — are actually social problems. The best way to reduce bullying is to change our society by reducing its militarism and moving toward a less capitalist system.

Social democratic countries, such as Sweden, have low rates of bullying. That is because they are not militarized and can be viewed as what Bernie Sanders called “democratic socialism.” Their universal social welfare, and strong labor movement, reduces the inequalities of wealth and power that are the systemic causes of bullying.

Such “regime change” in the US will happen only when social movements against militarized capitalism and social hierarchies based on race, class and gender grow stronger. Such movements are widespread in the US, but they are fragmented and need to work together (what [Derber] calls “universalized resistance” in a forthcoming book). Since bullying is a systemic problem, it takes movements seeking broad systemic change to reduce bullying.

Some anti-bullying groups in the US — growing out of targeted groups, such as women, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community and the disabled — are beginning to build recognition that bullying is a social problem. But to be effective, they must universalize their movements. This means working together to reduce all social hierarchies and create an alternative to militarized capitalism that ensures equal rights and power and respect for everyone.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Mark Karlin is the editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout. He served as editor and publisher of BuzzFlash for 10 years before joining Truthout in 2010. BuzzFlash has won four Project Censored Awards. Karlin writes a commentary five days a week for BuzzFlash, as well as articles (ranging from the failed “war on drugs” to reviews relating to political art) for Truthout. He also interviews authors and filmmakers whose works are featured in Truthout’s Progressive Picks of the Week. Before linking with Truthout, Karlin conducted interviews with cultural figures, political progressives and innovative advocates on a weekly basis for 10 years. He authored many columns about the lies propagated to launch the Iraq War.


Bullying and the Power of Pity

By Max Eternity, The Eternity Group | Opinion

Militarism and Violence are So Yesterday: It’s Time to Make Peace the Reality

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, Truthout | Opinion

Bully Nation

By Yale Magrass and Charles Derber, Truthout | Op-Ed
To buy He Was Weird go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476696472&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

What Could He Have Done?


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Anytime I learn of a bullying injustice, I always highlight it here on Peaceful Rampage and add my two pennies worth to the story. Those who have followed me for a while are probably aware of this. Well, it saddens me to say, but it has happened again. This time it happened in the world of American Football. A youth team coach got his team together and told them bullying would not be tolerated on the team. After his talk, it was pointed out to him that one of his players was still bullying. In true football fashion, the coach made the player concerned run extra laps, a common sanction in football where players are sometimes made to do extra running when they drop a pass, miss a blocking assignment or a tackle and so on. I know, I did my fair share of running when I played. After the bullying player, finished running his laps, the coach congratulated him for doing so without complaining, another coaching technique in the sport.


One would think that that would have been the end of it, right? No, the coach, who was a volunteer, was told by the team’s governing body that he was fired as coach over the incident. One member of the board asked him what qualifications he had to handle such a thing like bullying. The coach responded, “I’m a parent.” As a result, the team is now without a coach and now the coach along with several other parents, have pulled their own children off the team. For the full story, click the link below:


Is this another victory for the bullies? I would say yes and am backed up by the fact that a mother of one of the other boys pulled her son off the team, citing that the governing body is saying that bullying is okay. It also nullifies everything the coach told the team about bullying not being tolerated because now, you can and if any of the coaches step in to end it, they themselves will be dismissed.

While I don’t mention it much in “He Was Weird,” I did experience some bullying when I played football in the town where the story is based. The worse case was when two teammates ripped my personal jersey and basically got away with it because the one boy was the son of the varsity coach. However, like Mark in the story, the worst bullying came when I quit the varsity team a year later. In the eyes of many adults, I had brought it on myself because I quit the team. Really, do you think I did?

I have said from day one, that bullying is something that should never be tolerated. True, it will never be eradicated but then it never will be if those who try to take steps against bullying are the ones who are punished for it.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476096400&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird







Some Autistic Abilities


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It has said that everyone has them, it’s just autistic traits aren’t as prominent in most people as they are in with who do have genuine Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Some of these abilities can be quite fascinating if the person who has them is allowed to express them in a way that benefits that person. Unfortunately, most people tend to simply branded that person annoying or at the very least, use the person with autism’s unique ability for their own amusement.

Often times, the ability would come from an interest that a person has. In many cases, the person with autism would throw themselves head first into that interest and learn everything there is to know about it. My first instance of this was when I was seven. For a limited time in 1968 and 9, you could buy little figures of all the American Presidents. Note, Nixon was president at the time but that’s just a side point. Not only did I collect all the figures, I read books about them too. So not only can I name all the presidents from Washington to Obama, I could tell you when they served, what number president they were, if they died in office and with a good deal of certainty, what political party they were a member of. My experience is typical of someone who is on the autistic spectrum.


Another ability/obsession came in my early adolescence when I was playing sports. Because American sports media seems to like to make a big deal of sports statistics, I became a big pundit on my own statistics. In gym class in junior high school, I could tell you how many pass receptions, interceptions and touchdowns I had in touch football. How many baskets and free throws I made in basketball and compute my average per game. It was even more detailed in baseball where I could not only compute my batting average, but how many singles, doubles, triples and home runs I hit. Oh, if anyone tries to joke that I know how many home runs I hit because it was none, then the joke would be inaccurate.

Book relation alert: I do give Mark a similar ability in “He Was Weird.” From when I first learned it in fifth grade, a piece of US and British history has been stuck in my mind. Note: in 1754 both countries’ history was intertwined. It was the reason why British General Braddock lost the opening battle of the French and Indian War and his life. It was because he ordered his soldiers to stand shoulder to shoulder like they would have in an open field battle. I confess that I cheat a little in the story. Not long ago, I learned that the reason why generals arrayed their armies in tight formations was down to the fact that the smooth bore muskets that most soldiers used at the time were largely inaccurate. Therefore, they were all grouped together in the hopes that with all of them shooting at the same target, they might hit something. Mark points this out in his history class, unfortunately his classmates use it as an excuse to bully him and though I didn’t say it in the story, their justification would have been that Mark was showing off. Another problem that people with ASD have.

18th Century battle formation

18th Century battle formation

That leads nicely to the point I am trying to make here. There are many people with autism who do have some rather special abilities but people aren’t very perceptive of it. They can work out things quickly in their head or make links that so called normal people can’t or they can astound you with their knowledge of a given subject because their fascination with that subject has led them to research it thoroughly. These people should be encouraged, not seen as annoying or irrelevant or derided for having a one track mind. They should be listened to and taken more seriously and most importantly, appreciated for who they are.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475659628&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

The Versatile Bloggers Award


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I have had the honour of being nominated for the Versatile Bloggers Award by Maria who writes the blog Serene Aspergia. I would like to personally thank Maria for this honour and pass it on.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and pass it on.
  2. Share the award on your blog
  3. Share random facts about yourself
  4. Tag on 10 bloggers and tell them that they are nominated.

Seven facts about me:

  1. While I have never been formally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome or DAMP, (Deficiencies in Attention Motor Skills and Perception) I am convinced I have the symptoms of both.
  2. While I referee and love American football, my favourite sport is actually ice hockey
  3. I will be voting for Jill Stein of the Green Party in the upcoming US Presidential election
  4. I am married with three children, seven step children and 12 step grandchildren
  5. I love heavy metal music but am open minded about all forms of music
  6. I think the 1980s was the golden age of heavy metal
  7. I love cooking and find it destressing at times.

10 Blogs I would like to nominate for the award:

  1. WindSweptChildOnAShootingStar
  2. Anonymously Autistic
  3. Mikeldano
  4. Kamertunes blog
  5. 1537
  7. resurrectionsongs
  8. Heavy Metal Overload
  9. Metal Excess
  10. David Snape

Have I Offended You?


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This is something that I have always worried about all throughout my life. Reason why is because in my past, I have unintentionally done so because of not seeing a social situation on account of my Aspergers Syndrome. I have misread many a situation and ended up causing offense where none was intended. Although these days, I realize that some of those “offenses” were not actually offenses but the supposed victim of my unintended offense chose to simply take it as such. Furthermore, bullies of my past have often used this to justify their bullying of me. The result is the constant worry that I might have offended someone when I didn’t mean to at all.

This occurred again very recently. Twice a year, I organize a softball tournament where teams from all around the Southern UK come to play. We did have a team come from Leeds and one from Manchester but that was only once. Anyway, one team who has come to every tournament for the last five years without fail, isn’t coming to my one this Sunday. My first thought was that I must have offended them and I worried about it for far too long. I emailed them letting them know there was still a space available and apologized if I had offended them. Turns out that I didn’t at all. Their team captain explained the reason why they aren’t coming to this tournament is because one of their teammates is getting married on the Saturday and half the team are going to the wedding. I felt relieved.

With that said, my social bungling did upset another team. I had promised the captain of that team that I would contact them if a team pulled out of the tournament. One did and that sent me into overload as I was panicking about filling the vacated place. Also, I had heard that the team captain I had mentioned was now playing for another team. So what I did was open the invite to everyone. That team captain started getting a team together. However, another team had gotten in with their entry form so I accepted them. Obviously, the team captain was very angry with me and I can’t blame him. I have very humbly apologized to him but I haven’t heard anything back, plus I have made him special offers for next year’s tournament. I hope that helps. Still, I believe that my Aspergers caused me to bungle the situation and end up offending someone I didn’t mean to.

In this instance, I can’t draw any links with “He Was Weird,” because there weren’t any mentioned in the book. Saying that, there were plenty of bullies who were willing to find any excuse to bully Mark that there wasn’t any need for him to worry about unintentional offense. Still, I think that experience which I wrote about also has influenced the fact that I do worry so much about causing offense. It is something that comes up in my life quite a bit but I still don’t think I adequately handle it.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475004278&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Glasses Make the Person


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Last week I had to get a new pair of glasses. The frames from my previous pair were too mangled to continue wearing so I had to choose new ones with the new prescription. After looking at several pairs, the female sales assistant pointed out a couple that I might be interested. I tried on a few pairs and one pair that seemed to work looked a lot like the black horn rimmed glasses I wore until I was 13. This brought back flashbacks to that time and lots of anxiety. While I don’t think I’m vain, I did ask the sales assistant to tell me what they looked like from a woman’s perspective and she said she liked them. Therefore, those were the ones I got.

These were a bad memory from my youth

These were a bad memory from my youth

To many people, my anxieties were over nothing. After all, why get all obsessed over a pair of glasses? The answer is that wearing glasses like those above, contributed to a lot of the bullying I received back then. I remember one time someone said hello to me while he was with someone else who didn’t know me. While they were walking away, I heard the person who didn’t know me ask the other, “Is he as uncoordinated as he looks?” There were also teasing comments like, “You’re really good looking” and when I did eventually switch to wire framed glasses, my friend confessed that I looked like a fool in the old ones above. After that, I vowed that I would never get those glasses again.

Getting the new glasses did a lot for my self esteem, especially after some people complimented me on how different and better I looked. I would have liked to say that the new glasses solved all my problems but unfortunately, they didn’t. The seeds that produced all the bullying I was going through had long been firmly rooted. In fact, one bully threatened to ram the new glasses down my throat. Fortunately, I moved out of that town a few weeks after and I would like to think that showing up to the new school on the first day wearing those wire frames kept me from being identified as an easy target. It also contributed to the fact that I only suffered one-one hundredth of the amount of crap there than I did in my previous town. So, I think that I can draw a conclusion that perhaps glasses do make a difference. If anything, they do wonders for self esteem.

This is probably why I highlight the glasses in “He Was Weird.” Mark also has glasses like the above at the start of the story and maybe that leads to him getting bullied on the second day of school. Like me, when he does get new glasses, it doesn’t end the bullying he’s suffering and unfortunately, he never gets to move to a new town. If he did, maybe the new impression would have helped him like it did me.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474485228&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird






Intolerance Has Made Me More Tolerant


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In my last post, I talked about the intolerance I received as a youth and young adult over my clothing. Briefly, I caught a lot of grief from people because I still wanted to wear a baseball jacket when I was eleven and for growing my hair long when I got out of the marines. While it wasn’t as severe as the grief I got for my hair, I also caught a lot of intolerance over my chosen footwear, my Native American moccasin boots. The experience left me feeling rather bitter in many ways and kick started my angry young man phase, whose peak was reached the first year I came to Great Britain.

I loved these boots and wore them most of the time

I loved these boots and wore them most of the time

One good thing, if you want to call it that, arose from all that intolerance. It made me learn to be more tolerant towards others, especially in the realm of clothing. For many years, this tolerance wasn’t tested much but recently, with all the talk about women’s dress and Islam over the past few years, that tolerance has been tested a lot more and it hasn’t always been easy.

First, let me join in the burka debate. Like so many well meant Westerners, I thought that this item of clothing was a means of suppression. I will agree that in some sects of Islam, it is. My eyes were opened quite a few years back when I was supply teaching at a school not far away. The school secretary was a Muslim woman in full burka. I have to admit, my personal stereotypes here had me around the edges until the woman initiated a conversation with me. After about 0.3 seconds of conversion with her, I realised that there was an actual person under the clothing and any prejudices I had rapidly vanished. So, I don’t think the burka should be banned, after all, it’s only an item of clothing and if a woman really wants to wear it, men have no right to object.

To head off some of those who are now flexing their typing fingers in response, I am the first person to acknowledge that their are Muslim men who want all women to cover up and if they had the power, would ban the mini skirt. I too was a little incensed when I read about gangs of Muslim men patrolling the streets of East London, calling themselves a Sharia patrol and ordering women to cover up. Furthermore, I have never agreed that a woman is asking for sex just because she chooses to wear such and item of clothing. She too has a right to wear what she wants and that even includes a woman who wears a mini skirt whom some men think she doesn’t have ‘the legs to wear one.’ That shouldn’t matter.

Maybe the Mormons are on to something here. Many of them claim that a woman can be beautiful without having to either hide it or flaunt it. A point to ponder here.

I have no problem with a woman wearing this

I have no problem with a woman wearing this

Or this

Or this

I think that the French shot themselves in the foot recently when officials at a beach banned a woman because she was wearing a burkini. When she was kicked off the beach, along with her children, I seriously doubt that she went home and changed into a bikini or even a one piece swimming costume and returned. No, she will probably never go to the beach again and that’s not fair for her. So France, I think you need to have a rethink on that one. While I don’t ever recall seeing a burkini, I would have no problem if I did see one.

Maybe because I was brought up seeing them that I’m used to it but while a woman should have the right to wear the burkini, she also has the right to wear a bikini. Yes, the more religious will claim that she is showing herself like a piece of meat but I don’t see it that way. I just see a woman wearing the necessary clothing to have a swim.

Both are fine on this beach, they're fine with me

Both are fine on this beach, they’re fine with me

Now, I know that I have been mainly talking about women with religious views to clothing here but that has been the area wear my tolerance has been tested. For too many years, men of all persuations have been trying too hard to dictate to women what they should wear. I think that people have the right to wear what they like and that even includes men who like to wear dresses. It doesn’t effect my life so who the hell am I to judge. The same goes for body piercings, hair cuts or anything else that person fancies. I will endeavour to be tolerant of it because I have felt what it is like to suffer intolerance because of it.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473873538&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird














Intolerance is Intolerance!


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Not too long ago and not in a galaxy far away, I responded on some other blog about the 1980s. On this blog, I commented about my memories of this decade. I wrote something along the lines of:

“I remember the 1980s, everyone having to work three jobs because they all paid minimum wage,  people wanting to censor music and all the intolerance I suffered for the heinous crime of having long hair.”

I wish I could have gotten my hair like this but it was long enough.

I wish I could have gotten my hair like this but it was long enough.

The blog in question was for the conservative type Americans and the particular post was against someone who wrote a book criticising the Reagan administration, so naturally, I got a few responses. The most memorable one was from a woman who wrote:

“Criticising hair styles is really intolerance. Poor victim, maybe you can get some money from the government for it.”

A man commented that if my only problem was people dissing me over my hair, then the 80s couldn’t have been that bad. Both of these missed the point. Let me begin by giving the definition of intolerance. It is: unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own. In short, a great mass of people, especially those who attended my community college, were unwilling to accept me on account of the length of my hair. Therefore, they were intolerant! Plus, there was further intolerance because those same persons did not seem to accept my reasons for growing my hair long in the first place. For those who don’t already know, the reason why I grew my hair long was because I had spent four years in the US Marines. That meant I spent four years forced to wear very short hair while in the service of my country. People were either deaf by choice or simply just didn’t want to hear my reasons. That to me is the ultimate intolerance. When someone is willing to give reasons behind a certain behaviour and people don’t care to hear that someone.

That wasn’t the first intolerance I suffered and yes, I do go over this a bit in “He Was Weird.” In sixth grade, I wore a baseball jacket. (See picture below). I admit, I didn’t get a whole lot of grief over it but I was told by one classmate that the reason why nobody liked me was down to the fact that I wore babyish things. Again, we have more intolerance. After all, an eleven year old boy wearing a baseball jacket is a very good reason not to like him, NOT! Not accepting someone because of their clothes also follows the definition of intolerance.

My baseball jacket looked a little like this

My baseball jacket looked a little like this

Intolerance is bullying, plain and simple. Throughout the ages, people unwilling to accept others for their beliefs, actions and even clothing or hairstyles has resulted in many of the human catastrophes which have taken place throughout mankind’s history. It has taken intolerance towards me for something some might call trivial, to me it wasn’t, to make me more tolerant of others, especially in the field of hair and clothing.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473101724&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird






Billy Yes Mates


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Around three months ago, I wrote a post called “Billy No Mates,” where I explained how the lack of friends during the period that inspired me to write “He Was Weird,” has given me much anxieties over the years that passed. I was and sometimes am still worried that nobody is going to like me and no one is going to be my friend. Recently, I realise that there is another aspect to these anxieties that I didn’t think about then. So, I’ll post about that now.

Last week, I had a small vacation with my wife and two of my step-granddaughters in the Northern British city of Newcastle Upon Tyne. My wife goes every year (she loves the city) but this was the first time, I accompanied her in four years but that’s not important. Our routine is that at night, she settles down by reading and spending quality time with the grand-kids while I go out and have a few pints. I usually toddle home sometime between 11 or 12 and never intoxicated.

Well that was before our first night there. Now, before I go on, what you are about to read is not an attempt by me to make any excuses. I went to the only rock bar left in Newcastle and was enjoying my beer while listening to good tunes. A small group of people were nearby and the lady in the group points out my t-shirt and says it’s cool. (My shirt displayed pictures of George Bush and George W Bush about a caption that read ‘Dumb and Dumber.’) Anyway, I join these people and we get along famously. The pub closes and it is suggested we go to a place that’s open longer, so I follow them. When that place closes, we hit another place and then another. It turned out that the one guy was determined to drink Newcastle dry this night. When we hit another bar, it is now three AM and I am thinking that I should return to my hotel but this guy states that he just paid for me to get in the place so I went in. In the end, I didn’t get back to my hotel room until after five in the morning. My wife wasn’t best pleased especially as I wrongly assumed that she would be so tired from our trip and the day that she would be asleep. She was worried that something happened to me and yes, I did have to do a lot of apologising that morning.

Why did I do it? Everyone says that that was completely out of character for me. Here’s my explanation which is not an attempted justification. On reflection, because of my worry about having no friends, I have been known to respond to anyone who shows the slightest hint of friendship towards me. Like so many times in my life, these people on the night offered their friendship and in my mind, I was so grateful of this that I had to take them up on it. Furthermore, wanting to be a good friend, I was willing to stay out to the wee hours of the morning, although I didn’t consume nearly as much alcohol as the gentleman who wanted to drink the town dry. When that guy paid my way into the one club, I thought it unfriendly to then go and leave, so I stayed even though I knew deep down it wasn’t the right thing to do.

Another related topic was that throughout my early life, bullies and others would exploit my desire for friends. They would have me do things for their amusement or that would get me in trouble. While, I didn’t engage in any such activity this night except for staying out late, nor do I think that those persons would do such things, it did happen in the past. I do touch on this in “He Was Weird.” When Mark is in sixth grade, many of his classmates use his desire for friends to make him a laughingstock and then a target.

I think that friendship is a mine field with many people who contend with Asperger’s Syndrome. Like me, they want friends but don’t always have the correct social reading skills to make friends correctly. The results of this can often times be disasterous. While I wouldn’t say that about this experience because that was quite positive, I can see the potential danger it can cause.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472674930&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird