Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The U.S. Image Abroad

     I have noticed a fair-sized contingent of Russians reading my blog.  There are also readers in China and South America.  Blogger provides a map of people in the world who are logging onto my site, along with pageview numbers.  It's more than you'd expect.
     I don't know people in any of these places.  Why have they latched onto my blog?  Are they brushing up on their English? 
     I think they're looking for information from average Americans about what life is really like in the United States.
     In my world travels over the decades I have always been impressed by the fascination most foreigners have for Americans.   What's life really like in America?  They want to peel back the make-believe images from TV and magazines and find out how average-Joe citizens experience daily life.
     "Do you really drink ten or twenty cups of coffee a day, over there?" I was asked, in Scotland.
     "Does everyone carry guns?" an Egyptian asked, incredulously, because guns are illegal for all but the police there.
     "Do you guys still execute people?" someone asked, in Italy.
     "You mean, you have the best health technology in the world, but patients have to pay for check-ups?  And can't get medical care if they don't have money?"--from a Canadian.
     "You guys are workaholics!" exclaimed an Englishman.  The Brits' workday starts at 10 am, gets interrupted for leisurely lunches, and stops for tea in the afternoon.
     "Why would you need a doctor to tell you whether you should use birth control pills?" I was asked in a Thai pharmacy, when I remarked to people in the aisle that they had access to the pill (cheap!) over the counter.
     In Guatemala, free condoms were dispensed from containers in the airport, and in most public restrooms.  No visits to Planned Parenthood, no health department shortages.  No $1.25 each Magnum Extras--why do we make people pay to prevent public health hazards, and epidemics?  Why will the American government cover $40,000/year HIV medication--but won't issue free condoms in all public facilities?  I'm sick of having to inform unsuspecting patients that they have HI V, and should sign up with Medicaid for expensive treatments covered by the state.
     What is my experience communicating to people in other countries?  How is it adding to the impressions they form from television, or from what they deduce by our often-reckless foreign policy?
     For one thing, it says the Wild West image is real:  people take the law into their own hands.  The government can come in, hold up a doctor's office, take everything of value from the place, and leave without a word.   We exercise ruthless power.  We "believe in" the death penalty.  We fight for liberal access to guns, despite statistics that prove guns lead to violence--which in turn exacts largesses from our healthcare and penal systems.
      We're acting out of our primitive brains--the hippocampus, the amygdala--and failing to make connections with the modern prefrontal cortex.  We're a sociopathic country, at the corporate and governmental levels.  No one's listening much to the more developed brains out there, the Ph.D.'s, writers, artists, and law professors.
     Therefore, any efforts on my part to "reason" with my prosecutors, or the FBI, or even my lawyers, and tax-supported legislators and governors, are likely to fail.  They all have primitive brains, they want victims, they want blood, they want lurid images of people who broke the law and are forced to suffer horrible sentences.  Guilt and innocence are irrelevant.
     And they want cowboys who get away with murder, and whose idea of "the law" is government agents breaking into peaceful places of business with glinting badges and holsters loaded with weapons, ready for a shoot-out.  They want to take down ordinary-looking citizens, like me, to demonstrate their power.  They're taking me down.  They've put me on the pillory-block.
     They're tearing at the very fabric of our culture, the everyday people who go to work, pay taxes, do some good.  There you have it, my blog-readers in Russia, China, South America.  Why don't you post some comments?  Why are you reading this blog?





  2. Very well written and informative Dr. C. I quite enjoy your daily blogs (though from FL not from Russia etc.)

  3. It may be that the people reading your blog are not where you think they are. Our administration today does not want the American people to know what is going on, which is why my previous comment just disappeared off the screen. In other words Freedom is at risk, Period. Use your Brilliance to help this situation, and Vote for Romney-Ryan.

  4. What was your previous comment? Perhaps you should re-send it. I would be surprised to learn that our government was going to so much trouble to protect its identity from within my blog. However, one local reader suggested that Rinker might be a government agent posing as a very interested party and baiting me to say incriminating things. I can't very well say something incriminating, however, if there isn't anything incriminating going on. Sorry, government agents, wherever you are. If there ain't somethin' wrong, there ain't somethin' wrong.

    1. Meaning my comment was deleted before I could click on the publish button, as in who is reading and editing this blog.

  5. Part 1
    I’ve been called Rinker for almost sixty years. How long has Anonymous been commonly known as anonymous, I wonder? Why do your “anonymous” readers want to know my name? I think their reason must be that they want to look at my mug shot.

    Law enforcement agencies in Florida release inflammatory statements about arrestees to publicly shame and humiliate arrestees in an explicit effort to deter crime. You’ll notice that the Gainesville Sun carefully includes a disclaimer that the “individuals depicted on their site are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”. Why do you think the Gainesville Sun does that? But if there’s a chance that the people on display in the Gainesville Sun haven’t committed a crime, why are they being punished?

    A lot of people tend to overlook this fact because frankly, it spoils the mood, doesn’t it? It is much easier to justify laughing at crack whores and bug-eyed misfits sporting striped smocks if you assume guilt. After all, they deserve whatever treatment they receive---they’re criminals! I don’t think my mug shot is particularly flattering so I’m keeping it under wraps.

    Just like you, your readers don’t have to accept what I deemed pertinent in my experience.

    You’ve probably heard the folk tale about the woman who was charged $250 for a Neiman-Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe…. it went something like this: A woman and her daughter were at Neiman-Marcus and they decided to have a small dessert so tried the cookie. It was so good the woman asked if Neiman-Marcus would share the recipe, and the waitress said with a small frown, “I’m afraid not.” The customer then asked if she could buy the recipe. The waitress replied that the recipe would cost “two fifty.” The customer requested that it be added to her bill. Thirty days later, the customer received her credit card statement and she noticed a $250 charge at the bottom of her statement from Neiman-Marcus. She called the billing department but they refused to remove the charge saying that the recipe was special and not be afforded by all. The woman decided to share the cookie recipe with the world so that no one would ever have to pay $250. Well, that’s my feeling when I look at all my hard-earned money that went towards defending myself against false accusations. I’m sharing my experience with you and your readers and I will probably keep sharing until I feel whole again when I look at the bottom of my bank statement. I may have to share with the entire Universe and beyond for that to happen however and, of course, I am willing to do that.

  6. Part 2
    False accusations and gossip destroy lives, even when the accused is innocent. You can never erase what has happened to you. There is nothing anyone can do about that. I don’t blame anyone who is paranoid and suspicious. I’ve become that myself as the result of being falsely accused.

    I’m just a poor schmuck who was watching TV on my own patio when the Alachua County Sheriff drove up in my yard and arrested me. The remark made by the arresting officer made no sense at all so I asked, “What are you talking about”? He said that he didn’t have to tell me why I was being arrested…. I found out later on that he was correct. A deputy is not under any obligation to tell you why you are being arrested. That is by design of course. Just think how hard it is to defend yourself when you don’t have any information about what they might have against you. I believe Lawyer Duane said to say “no comment” “I want to speak to my attorney”…repeat as necessary and that being the only words you say. Your local reader is confused. It is law enforcement that bates the suspect. They would never tell you to say, “I want to speak to my attorney”.

    If I were guilty of anything, it would be for sympathizing with your plight. To me, the whole arrest thing was very exhausting to live with and could have been maddening had I allowed it to be. It takes up so much of ones’ daily resources in terms of time and attention. People will feed your insecurities. My court services handler suggested that I would have been better off had I hired a local attorney who had some friends. Everyone has a bigger better idea. It irked me every day that the prosecutor kept me on house arrest and kept charging me a $76 per week court services fee for months after he knew he had no sustainable evidence. In fact, he had nothing what so ever against me. I didn’t do anything wrong. In a criminal case the prosecutor has 175 days to indict after you’ve been arrested. The prosecutor did not drop my case until he absolutely had to. Law enforcement is indifferent to the way in which they cheat due process. Their purpose is to normalize the idea that the government has a right to punish you without bothering to convict you of a crime.