Sheep in the Air

What does a dead puppy say about sheep?

We’ve all heard the news by now. A puppy was forced into an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight, and it died.

The universe rightly went into a meltdown, although it was interesting watching the different reasons for it.

Half the people put all the blame on the flight attendant, who was adamant the woman put her dog in the overhead locker. Then there was a bunch of people who also held the owner to blame, asking why she didn’t stand her ground. Then there was all the people who hate dogs, and wondered why it was on a flight to begin with.

Now, it’s early days, and I’m sure there’s more to the original story. There’s always a couple different spins, but given that United has actually taken blame for it, I’m guessing the FA was at fault here.

Here’s the thing about the US. They are very dog friendly. Much more so than Australia. A dog isn’t something bought for the kids, and left in the backyard. It’s a member of the pack. People treat them like family, because, they are. If you’re not willing to treat your dog like a child, then I suggest you don’t get one. Your dog depends on you. It loves you. It basically lives for you, just like your human children do. You need to feed it, groom it, provide it with shelter, and just like a human child, teach it manners. You might have a lot of people in your life, but your dog basically just has you. So treat it with the respect it deserves.

In the US, many hotels are pet friendly, there are restaurants that have special doggie menus, and generally, it’s just way more dog inclusive, especially in the more affluent areas.

There’s pampered pets, then you’ve got dogs with jobs.

A lot of people don’t understand the difference between Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs and Emotional Support Animals.

Basically, it’s about what it does, and what rights you have with it.

A service dog performs a service. Most people immediately recognise a seeing eye dog, but many people don’t know that there’s literally donzens of different types of service dogs, and not all people’s disabilites are visible. There are dogs for people with epilepsy. The dogs can sense before a seizure, and alert the owner, giving them time to find a better spot, or seek assistance. There are dogs for diabetics, who can sniff when their owners blood sugar is low. There are hearing dogs, for people who are both completely deaf, or like me, partially deaf. The dog will alert their owner of sounds, and can lead them to it. Whether it’s the timer on the stove, or a fire alarm. There are dogs that help service members with PTSD. The dog can see when their owner is getting agitated, and redirects them. They can also wake them from nightmares. There are so many more examples, it’d need a post just for that…

Except for the blind person, none of these other people have visible disabilites, yet they all use service dogs. You can’t tell by them walking down the street if they have a service dog, or are just a person walking their pet, and a lot of people with disabilites like it that way.

Just like all disabilites are different, so are the animals. People always think of golden retrievers or german shepards, but it’s not a requirement. In England one of the biggest hearing dogs training facilites uses poodles. A seizure or diabetic dog can be any breed, as long as it’s well trained. “Small yappy dogs” can actually make exceptional service animals.

Then there are therapy dogs. You might have seen one at a nursing home, or at a trauma center. They even have them at some airports now. These dogs are basically like furry therapists. It’s been shown that petting an animal can lower a persons blood pressure, and relieve stress. So these guys are out there to help people feel good. They work with lots of different people, and have to have a very loving temperament, and be good at meeting lots of new people.

Then there’s an emotional support animal. This is an animal that is basically a pet, but provides their owner with comfort. It’s like a personal shrink.

Now, in the US, a service dog has legally protected status. Well, technically the owner is protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilites Act) They can take their service animal with them anywhere they go, including restaurants, supermarkets and airplanes. They can live in places with no animal policies, and they can fly for free with their owners.

There is no requirement for the animal to have been trained in a special facility, although many are. It’s very expensive though, and many people successfully train their own service anials to their specific needs. So many people have been faking service animals though, that the FAA has made it so you now have to show some sort of training to fly with your dog. It can fly at your feet or on your lap and doesn’t need to be in a carrier.

A therapy dog has obedience training, and has to pass veterinary tests before it can be used in a public setting. They don’t have any rights on aircraft.

An ESA is a pet. It has no rights, except for when people get a letter from a psychiatrist or therapist stating they need their dog with them when they fly. It dog doesn’t need to stay in a carrier, since you theoretically need the dog where you can access it while flying. They get to fly for free, but you do have to contact the airline at least 48 hrs in advance to let them know you have an ESA, and provide a copy of the letter.

Then there are pets. Depending on the airline, most dogs under 20 lbs (about 9kg) can fly with you in the cabin, in an approved carrier, for a fee. Most airlines charge between $100 – $200 for a pet fee, each way. They also count as one of your carry on bags. It has to fit in under the seat in front of you, and you cannot take the dog out of the bag at any time during the flight.

It’s expensive, and the reason so many people are faking service and therapy dogs is probably because it is so expensive. If airlines made it cheaper, people would probably pay to fly their dog. There’s also a limit on how many dogs can be on each flight. Most airlines max out at 5. They also know in advance when a dog is on a flight, so people who do have allergies can request an animal free flight.

Now, people complain about dogs on flights, but honestly, I’ve never had a problem with a pet on a flight. It’s inside a bag, so it’s not spreading dander everywhere. It’s not running around and slobbering on anyone, and it’s definately not biting anyone. I can’t same the same thing for some children.

Genuine service animals are a delight. They are so well behaved, unless you saw it, you probably wouldn’t know it was on a flight with you. They are always well groomed, never beg for treats, go up to strangers, or annoy anyone. If you see a service animal, please don’t go up and try to pet it. It’s working. Leave it be to focus on it’s owner, no matter how adorable it is.

The ESAs are usually the problem. Not all, but some. Most people have well trained dogs, keep them groomed, and keep them contained in their lap. Other people though have dogs that really should be kept in a carrier, but there’s a lot of selfish entitled people out there, and they don’t really care if their dog bothers anyone.

Larger dogs can be put in the cargo hold, but only certain breeds of dogs. Snub nose dogs like pugs, boston terriers, etc cannot fly in the hold. It’s also weather dependant. It can get very hot  or very cold, and most carriers won’t take dogs in the hold in the middle of summer or winter. It’s not safe.  Dogs don’t have an inner ear like humans, so unlike us, they don’t need to pop their ears in flight. So while that baby is crying (understandably) the dog is just fine.

Dogs are so frequent now that many airports are putting in designated Pet Relief Areas so that you can take them potty between flights, without having to go outside security.

Which all brings me back to the puppy on United.

A lot of people are complaining about dogs on planes, and especially about service/ESA dogs. Apart from the fact that ESA dogs are giving service dogs a bad name, and making it difficult for people with service dogs, there’s actually no reason to bring that up with this particular dog. There is no indication that it was passed off as a service or ESA dog. It was brought on as a pet, inside an approved carrier. The dog wasn’t bothering anyone, except apparently the flight attendant, who may have been tired of fake service animals or ESAs. Or they just didn’t like dogs. Or were on a power trip. We don’t know.

But given this woman PAID to take her dog on board, inside an approved carrier, shows that she was genuinly trying to do the right thing. She spent money to do the right thing. She had a child and a small baby with her as well as the puppy. She was probably already overwhelmed traveling with a kid and an infant, without some FA fighting with her over a dog.

Which brings me to the sheep.

Other people on this flight watched this happen. They saw a woman with a child, a baby, and a dog. They saw the FA fighting with her. They watched the mother stand up for her pet, before finally relenting. She probably didn’t want to get dragged off the flight. United doesn’t have a good track record with people or animals, and she was probably scared.

But what about the other passengers? Are we all so passive now that nobody thought about standing up to the FA? Did anyone else think to speak back to them and just watched as the dog was put in an airless bin? Did nobody else think about what they would do if it was their own dog? People said they heard the dog barking, and then it stopped. Why didn’t anyone help her get the dog back down again once they took off?

People are sheep. They are so scared of the wolf, they won’t step out on their own. But if we stand as a pack, if multiple people stand up, they can’t hurt us all. Even if one or two other people had stepped up and said something, this situation could have been prevented. Someone could have called for the captain. They have the ultimate say on a flight, and I’m guessing they wouldn’t have been ok with a dog being shoved up above.

If we won’t stand up for a dog, who else won’t we stand up for? I’m tired of people standing by and watching bad things happen, and not having the balls to step up and say something. Yes, sometimes it comes with risk, but what happens when you’re the one who needs someone to stand up and help you? Do you accept that people won’t, or do you hope someone else will take a chance on doing the right thing?

If you see a scared young girl on a flight, do you check up on her, and make sure she’s ok, or do you just think, “it’s none of my business” and keep going. How do you reconcile that later when you find out she was a human trafficking victim? Or that she was a minor flying alone, and the guy sitting next to her was touching her inappropriately?

It costs you nothing to be a good person. It free to give someone a smile. It takes a minute to give someone a comforting word, and ask if they need help. Be the hero in someone’s story. Don’t be the one to post a picture on Instagram crying saying you did nothing.

Maya in her TSA carrier. She loved traveling with us.

The Academy doesn’t care about kids

The pinnacle of awards season, the Oscars, was last night.

I didn’t watch. I had no desire to watch a bunch of people who live in gated communities, wearing gifted gowns and jewellery, get up on stage and pat each other on the back between political speeches.

The Oscars have descended into the most boring political event on television. I was especially wary this year about the hypocrisy of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. If I had to watch Meryl give a speech about standing up for women in the industry after seeing her give a standing ovation to Roman Polanski just a few years before she called Weinstein God, I may have punched the television.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no beef with #MeToo or #TimesUp. I think both are long overdue. I’m glad we’re standing up. But, at the same time, why are we giving such loud voices to those who weren’t really with us before, and we’re totally ignoring those who were actually screaming for help and equality before it became the cause du jour?

The Coogan Law, which protects the money children earn while working in entertainment, is only enacted in four US states. California, New York, Louisiana and New Mexico. Meanwhile, Georgia has become the new hub of the movie industry. No child labor laws or money worries there. And don’t get me started on reality TV….

Minors employed as actors or performers in motion pictures or theatrical productions, or in radio or television productions are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) coverage. Therefore, FLSA rules regarding total allowable number of work hours in one day and allowable times of day to work do not apply. Basically, this means that while you can’t have your kids work in your restaurant, on the farm, or thankfully send your kids to work in a sweatshop, you can have them working at 2am, in the freezing cold, on a movie set.

So basically, you can work the hell out of kids on set, and they’re not even guaranteed to keep any of that money they’re working so hard for.

While Paul Petersen and Alison Arngrim have been fighting in the trenches, going to Washington DC, campaigning for safer environments for kids, where were all these A List stars? There are minors working on so many films. Where were their co-stars when kids were being abused? I don’t see any of them trying to help enact laws, trying to make change. They’re calling for safer places for adult women, but they still don’t seem to worry too much about the small kids working with them on set. The little people who actually need help and protection from other people. They haven’t learnt to speak up for themselves yet. Or worse, because they’re kids, they’re told to be seen and not heard.

Then, last night, the Oscars confirmed they don’t give a shit about kids.

I woke up to all my friends on FB talking about the “In Memoriam” section. It’s always controversial, and people are always left out. But there was two that were particularly glaring.

Heather Menzies, who played Louisa Von Trapp in the Sound of Music was snubbed. This makes her the second of the Von Trapp kids forgotten by the academy.

Maybe it was an oversight. Maybe the academy felt she wasn’t in enough films to warrant a mention. Maybe they felt she was better known as a TV actress, since she went on to a lot of television. Still, Sound of Music is a pretty timeless classic, so one would expect a star of that film to get a moment.

But then there’s Rose Marie.


Rose Marie started her career in 1929, the year the Oscars started. She was at the first one, with her first film. She has been working ever since. That’s right, she had been a working actress for 90 years. She was so famous, she doesn’t even need a last name.

In 1951, she had her musical numbers cut from the film Top Banana, after she refused a producers sexual advances. She later said it was thankfully the only time she had experienced sexual harassment in her nine decades in the industry. She was however active on Twitter, offering support to other women who had experienced harassment.

But after 90 years of singing, acting and dancing, you’d think you’d at least get a mention in the “In Memoriam” right? Well, maybe someone forgot her? Maybe the people choosing the names were too young to know her. Um, no. Her former publicist submitted her name three times to the Academy to make sure she wasn’t forgotten.

So was it a mistake? Was it a snub? Was it because she had publicly outed a producer all those years ago? Or was it because she started out as “Baby Rose Marie” and people who start as kids never seem to get remembered. – They also forgot to include Corey Haim back when he passed.

Here’s the thing, if you want kids in your movie, then you’ve got to give them the same courtesies you give adults.

Fair pay, a safe workplace, and some respect. If you can’t give them that while they’re working, at least light a candle for them when they go.

If you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to help kids on set, look into charities like A Minor Consideration. Paul Petersen started AMC with the intent to change laws, and help those ones who have already been through it all.




Who do you believe in?

All the deities are bullshit.

I just don’t understand people killing in the name of some magical sky fairy that no one alive has ever actually seen. All this “my god is the only true god” makes no sense.

They used to slaughter people to appease Xolotl. Not anymore.
They used to slaughter people to appease Xolotl. Not anymore.

How do you know your God even exists, let alone is the “one true God’? There have been over 2000 different “gods” throughout history. Do you think yours is the only real one because your parents told you he is? The same parents who told you about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus? Why is it as we grow up being lied to by our parents about these mythical beings in order to keep up well behaved, it’s ok to find out they’re not real, but we keep up the facade about deities? They are also made up to keep people in line. But we have laws and courts now. We don’t need organised religion to rule the masses.

What we really don’t need, is people thinking their special invisible friend is the one and only special invisible friend, and going around trying to slaughter other people who choose to believe is a slightly different invisible friend.

People used to believe in Zues. Apparently he fell out of favour for some newer trendier Gods.
People used to believe in Zeus. Apparently he fell out of favour for some newer trendier Gods.

If the whole point of religion is to teach people peace, and love, and compassion, then you’re all failing miserably at it. Whether you’re a christian, muslim or believe in Zeus. (To be fair, I can’t remember the last time someone who believed in Zeus killed someone for them, or refused to bake someone a cake, or picketed a funeral)

I get that some people find comfort in religion. Some people need that belief that there’s something bigger and more powerful than them. They need someone to blame when shit goes wrong, and someone to thank when things go right.

I choose to believe in myself. I know I have power within me, and I don’t need to believe in something that I can’t see, hear, taste or feel to give me the strength to carry on.

I don’t need to donate money to a church thinking I’m helping feed the less fortunate, when in reality they’re simply going to build a bigger church, or buy the pastor a new plane or to pay off some sexual assault victims. Actually, I’m ok with the church giving compensation to victims, I’m not OK with them needing to do it in the first place. The church has been protecting their own for too long, using the name of some “magic deity” to rape and torture kids. Not that that’s new either. They used to go into whole countries and kill people off if they didn’t convert. (Which appears to be happening again)

Osiris, another God people no longer believe in.
Osiris, another God people no longer believe in.

Basically, if you need an invisible friend, then have at it. Cherish them. Love them. Whatever. But keep it to yourself. Don’t try to convert others. Don’t try to tell others that your god is better than their god, and for fucks sake, don’t go around killing people in the name of your god.



Vale Erin Moran

The indignity of dying away from the spotlight.

Erin Moran

This week, the world lost Erin Moran. Erin was best known as Joanie from Happy Days, and then Joanie Loves Chachi.

A lot of my friends simply knew her as Erin, a fellow former child star, and good friend.

I never got to meet Erin personally, as like me, she didn’t live in LA. She had stepped away from the spotlight, and moved to Indiana. She did keep in touch with all of her friends in LA though. Many of them knew she had cancer, as Erin had told them, but asked them not to share it with the world.

Erin, like many of us, went through some rough patches. ALL of us have had shitty moments, or bad times. The difference when you’re famous is, is that the whole world knows about it. There’s something about being a child star that the tabloids are just drawn to when it comes to having a bad moment. I think some editors find it orgasmic to show a Disney star looking drunk, or being sloppy. They expect us to have drug problems, DUI’s and bad relationships. If you’re one of the many child stars who move on and go about life quietly, there’s almost a sheer disdain for how boring you are. Places like TMZ would have you believe that every child actor is a train wreck, but in reality, there are hundreds that end up just fine. You just don’t hear about them. But if you’re a kid star that fucks up even once, the public is going to hear about it forever. That one night that most people can hide and move on from will come back and haunt you constantly. People will bring it up over and over. In Erin’s case, even when she died.

Erin died of cancer. She knew she had it. Her friends knew she had it. The public didn’t though, and neither did the tabloids. So when she died, the media immediately brought up her past, and speculated that she died broke and penniless and from a drug overdose. These days, it’s not about getting the story right, it’s about being first. Fuck the memory of the person you’re covering, and screw the feelings of her friends and family.

Its tragic that as a child star, you can’t even die with dignity.

Its sad for Erin. It’s also a sobering moment for all the other child actors out there. Watching the speculation over Erin, I imagine every other child actor having that moment of “when I die, will they bring up every bad moment of my past?”

Child actors are people too. We have feelings. We have souls. We have good days and bad days, just like regular people. (Cause we ARE people, we just had jobs as kids)

Just because someone no longer works in Hollywood doesn’t mean they can’t work anymore. Many actually choose to leave, and they also choose not to share every moment of their lives with the world. We should respect that. We should also respect that when someone dies, we say nice things about them, like we do all the other people you know, and not assume they bottomed out and died disgracefully.

Erin Moran and Scott Baio

Don’t be like Scott Baio and put your foot in your mouth when a former co-worker dies. Even if they DID once have a problem, you can still be polite. It’s hard when someone sticks a microphone in your face before you know the facts, but maybe take a deep breath, say something kind, and sit back and wait for the truth. You don’t need to be the asshole.

It’s only April, and I’m sure there will be more celebrity deaths this year. Maybe we can all honor Erin’s memory by learning from the coverage of her death, and be a little nicer to the next person who goes.

RIP Erin. May all your future days be happy.


Trump Won. Now What?

So last night was the US election, and this morning, you’d think that the world was about to end. On my facebook feed, there was a never ending stream of The Sky is Falling! and other such scaremongering.

Yes, Trump won. People had to know this was a possibility. I mean, he was on the ballot. The other choices were Hillary, Johnson, or as many people chose to ignore, another woman, Jill Stein. Let me start with that. There are a bunch of people crying about how we hit a glass ceiling, and how the world has gone backwards, because a man won the election. They made it sound like Hillary was the first women to ever run as a head of state. Never mind that there has already been 26 nations that have already had a woman run a country, people ignored that there was another woman on the ballot. Nobody cares that she lost. Then again, it seems nobody cared she was on there in the first place. I think a lot of people only voted for Hillary because she owned a vagina, which I think is a terrible reason to vote for someone. Vote for them based on their policies, or their record, not because of what’s in their underpants. Hillary didn’t lose because she’s a woman, she lost because people didn’t want another four years of the same thing.

Trump isn’t a true Republican, and he’s not a Democrat. I’m not really sure what he is politically. He’s a businessman who was also a reality star. He offered the people something different. Lots of people weren’t in love with what he was offering, but Americans truly believe that voting third party is a complete waste, and so while Gary Johnson had some good ideas, he really didn’t stand a chance. Much like we all loved Ron Paul back in the day. It just wasn’t going to happen.

So this morning I watched my friends lose their collective shit, crying over how they’re going to lose their healthcare, or get deported, or having their same sex marriages annulled, and I want to tell everyone to take a deep breathe, and relax.

Think back to every other election you’ve lived through, and especially since the advent of social media. Every single time, half the country loses their minds, crying it’s armageddon, that the economy will fail, that they’ll lose their rights, basically that their life is over. Then, a couple years later, those same people are complaining that the elected official hasn’t fulfilled any of their campaign promises, and that nothing is being done.

Presidents are figure heads. They can make executive orders, but they can also be struck down. Nobody walks into office and within a couple years has done all they said they would. That’s why you have the senate. There’s balance. Trump isn’t going to walk into office in January and annul your marriage, or take away your right to birth control. He has said he’ll make changes to Obamacare, but he hasn’t said what those changes are, so before you cry that you’re going to lose your healthcare, maybe wait and see what he’s actually trying to do, and then if what he wants will even pass congress, and then access your options. Who knows, since about the only thing I’ve heard him say about healthcare is that he’s going to make it tax deductible, it might actually be better for those self employed people who have to purchase their own and don’t get it through an employer. The thing is, we don’t know, so don’t give yourself an ulcer over it. Premiums already went up a ridiculous amount before he was elected, so you can’t blame that on him. I also highly doubt that insurers are going to go back to denying people with pre-existing conditions. If your insurer does, find another one who doesn’t.

As to the posts about foreigners feeling scared to be here in the US now, I haven’t met a single foreigner in real life who actually feels that way. I’m a foreigner myself, and I have plenty of other expat friends. (and no, they’re not all anglo.) We’ve all concluded that as long as you’re here legally, there’s absolutely no reason to be freaking out. Trump isn’t going to deport people here legally. I’m not sure why people think he hates foreigners, I mean, his wife is one. Is he going to start with her? No. Probably not. Will he get tough on people who are here illegally? Maybe. Do I think that’s a bad thing? Well, I spent three years working on a border program. I spent three years watching cameras, processing reports, analyzing data on the drugs, money, people and weapons that went back and forth. I saw Border Patrol agents who had a harder and harder time doing their job. I have a completely different perspective than most civilians. There’s a reason the USBP endorsed Donald. I do think that legitimate refugees have a place in society. I don’t think that paying a coyote to smuggle you across a border from a country that has no problems entitles you to live here when so many of us went through the legal process just fine. Basically, as long as your papers are in order, you’re fine. No different from the last guy.

I’m not scared of WWIII breaking out. I was actually more scared of the never ending war we could have endured if Clinton had won. She was very pro-war, and anti Russia. I don’t have a problem with a guy who actually wants to be friends with other heads of state, and who isn’t interested in another Cold War. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Trump will start shit, but I’ll worry about that if and when it happens.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve spent the last couple of years really trying to teach myself to breathe and be calm and not get hysterical over every little tweet or FB post, or cause du jour, that I can sit back and watch this calmy. Maybe I prefer to take a moment and see the bigger picture, or let shit play out before I get my panties in a wad, but I really think people are way overreacting.

Don’t let crying celebrities and the 24/7 news media let you get all worked up.

Trump will be sworn in, and just like every other President, anything he tries to do will be blocked in the senate. It will be years before he can realistically achieve anything. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.



Victim Impact

If you haven’t read the Victim Impact Statement yet that was written by the woman who was raped by Brock Turner, please, take the time to do so. It’s on the BuzzFeed Site. Yes, it’s long. 7000 words in fact, but it’s incredibly well written, and very moving. I challenge anyone to read it and not feel some kind of new found empathy for rape/assault/molestation victims. It should be required reading for all people charged with rape, and all their families who try to defend them.

I read some pretty shitty comments on articles related to the Stanford Rapist, Brock Turner. I had written a piece about him yesterday, after his father released a statement, saying his poor son just didn’t feel like eating steak anymore. The Daily Mail picked up my blog post, and while I was reading other articles about him, I was simply amazed at some of the comments. I was amazed at how many rape apologists there were out there, and how many people thought that the victim should just move on. Many thought that since she was unconscious during the assault, and she couldn’t remember the attack, that she was being a cry baby, and shouldn’t be upset at all in the first place. Isn’t that kind of like saying that if your house in robbed, but you’re not home when it happens, that it’s ok, and you shouldn’t really care? Or that when you’re under anaesthetic during surgery, and they amputate your leg instead of removing an appendix, you weren’t awake, and didn’t feel it happening, so it’s all good? No? Don’t think those are good analogies? In each case, something fucked up happened, and you lost something you shouldn’t have. Oh, you think your material possessions are worth more than someone’s dignity or self worth? It’s ok, most people simply can’t comprehend the effect of sexual assault until they’ve lived it.

What I personally connected with in the letter written by the victim was the process of what occurred after the event. She was taken to a hospital, and was subjected to hours of rape kit testing. Her whole body photographed. Her body entered again with instruments. Having to speak to multiple people about the ordeal. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do that. I can’t imagine how hard that would have been. I did experience what happened after that though.

What people don’t tell you when you finally find the balls to start the legal process of getting some kind of justice from your attacker, is that it isn’t just going to be them that is on trial. The victim is also on trial. Maybe more so.

We all know the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” and the courts, rightly, treat the defendant that way. Even people who have been caught in the act, maybe even on tape, but who plead not guilty, and drag their victims through court, are given the presumption of innocence. Not so the victim. The defendants lawyers will spend an insane amount of time, effort and money to dig up every piece of dirt on a victim. They will research your entire history, looking for anything that could possibly make you look less than trustworthy. They will read your entire FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram feeds, looking for the smallest thing they can bring up. Dare to post a smile on Instagram a month after your attack? Well, shame on you. How could you possibly ever smile again after such an alleged event? Go to a party? Busted! Oh, there’s a picture of you on the beach four years before the attack, and you’re wearing a bikini? Well, you’re just going around scantily dressed and inviting people to hit on you.

What’s your sexual preference? How many people have you been with? Any one night stands? Be prepared to share those details with a courtroom full of people. What color shoes were you wearing two weeks before the attack? You can’t remember? Well, if you can’t remember that, how come you can remember all the other details of what happened that day you were raped? You must just be making it up. Had consensual sex once while drunk with your boyfriend? If you could consent with your partner, why couldn’t you consent with the person you had never met before?

It amazes me how the defence is allowed to badger victims on the stand. They’re allowed to completely emotionally assault the victims, calling them all kinds of names, insinuating all kinds of things, or just outright calling them money grubbing, attention seeking sluts. They don’t have to prove their client is innocent, they just have to prove you’re not believable. You’re not credible. You’re not worthy of being believed. Going to court is the most soul destroying experience. Assuming you even make it that far.

After going to the police, there’s the investigation. Which could take years. Some people find just that part to be so bad, they they rescind their statements. Often when people “take it back” it’s not that it didn’t happen, it’s just that they want it to all go away. They don’t think they’re strong enough to go through with the process. Especially when there’s a huge power balance between the perp and the victim. There may be outright threats, but it could also be small stuff, like your family disowning you, your friends all distancing themselves, the police asking you to make phone calls to your attacker to try to get a confession on tape. Everyone in town who has been questioned in relation to the event judging you. Even if you are able to make it through the initial investigation, it may never even lead to an arrest. If he is arrested, it could take years before a trial, during which time your life’s on hold, waiting, waiting. Court dates are constantly moved, and each time, emotions are crazy. You have to re-live the event over and over. Then, you get to court, and even if the bastard is found guilty, it’s still not over. You still have to live with what happened to you. You have to live with the process, and the trauma of court. If your case was public, you get to have it be the first thing people think of when they think of you. I hope this girl gets to keep her anonymity. People can read her powerful statement, and not have to know who she is. She sounds incredibly strong and brave, and I hope she finds some sense of peace. Others who are public will always live with it, publicly and privately. Two years after Robert was found guilty, and I should be enjoying peace, I’m still dealing with a high court appeal, and the occasional dickhead who decides to hero worship Robert and try to ruin my day by popping up on my social media accounts, applauding the pedophile, and threatening me for speaking up. Imagine if two years after you went to court, you still have to deal with this:


So to all those idiots who think that victims of sexual assault should just be happy that their attacker got a slap on the wrist and should move on, get a grip on reality. The victim can’t just move on. Even if they were unconscious when it happened, they had to live with the trauma of getting through the court process, and they continue to live with the feeling they may never be safe again, or that their whole life is being judged, or that they may never just be their old selves again.

I hope none of those internet trolls have to learn empathy the hard way, or have to read the same type of comments about themselves that they once wrote about others.


Could Roman Polanski finally face justice?

The Polish Government is looking to overturn extradition hearings for Roman Polanski.

Well, it certainly seems to be the year that Celebrity Sex Offenders are getting hit with the spotlight. I woke up to news this morning that questions are once again being raised about Roman Polanski, and the hope that he might finally have to pay for raping and sodomizing a 13 year old girl back in 1977.

Roman Polanski drugged and raped a young actress/model at Jack Nicholson’s house after inviting her over for a fashion shoot. He gave her alcohol and drugs, and then sexually assaulted her, while she cried and told him no. She told her mother what happened, and Polanksi was arrested. He initially denied it, but then pleaded guilty, in exchange for a plea bargain. After undergoing court ordered psychiatric tests, he fled the US, fearing he would get serious jail time. He went to France, where he was also a citizen.

The US courts sought to extradite Polanski, but France refused to extradite him.

Now, even though he admitted raping a 13 year old child, he continued to make movies, and big stars continued to work with him. Because, we all know by now that Hollywood types don’t give a fuck about kids getting hurt, as long as they get a fabulous role, and keep making money.

Fast forward many years, and people forget that Polanski fled the country to avoid doing time after he admitted raping a child, and everyone is still fawning over him. Because, you know, he’s an artiste, and that’s way more important than the girl getting some form of justice. The poor guy even had to miss the Oscars in 2003 when he won for “The Pianist”. There was a huge pity party for him, and everyone thought it was unfair he couldn’t be there. Hollywood took the side of the rapist once again. Don’t worry about the victim. “It was a long time ago and we should all just move along”

In 2009, Polanski went to a film festival in Switzerland, and was arrested. The US was still trying to extradite him. The extradition request was denied, and Polanski was safe once again. By 2010, the victim, Geimer, asks the court to drop the request, due to health problems surrounding the constant publicity of the case. She was probably sick of hearing people like Whoopi Goldberg declare that it wasn’t “rape, rape” and she should get over it. Everyone had an opinion on it, and I can’t imagine how badly it must have affected her. I only had to deal with listening to a few millions Aussie’s have an opinion on whether Robert did it or not, and whether I should care so many years later. Geimer had the US and Europe discussing her case, for decades. I think at some point you’d go bat shit crazy and ask to have it dropped too.

Fast forward, and after a couple more extradition attempts, and Hollywood still praising Polanski, and today, someone in Poland, who probably has a conscience, has decided to look at overturning the denial of the extradition order.

What gets me is that it’s not 38 years since he committed the act of raping and sodomising a young girl. As lenient as courts are to famous people, and the fact he took a plea deal, he wouldn’t have gotten a slap on the wrist. He would have served a very minimal amount of time, been released, and allowed to carry on with his life. He’d be back out directing, and nobody would give a shit. (Just look at other Hollywood people who get jailed for child sex offences, like the Director of Jeepers Creepers, who is out and working with kids again) However, by constantly avoiding doing the right thing, he’s now spent 38 years on the run. 38 years of fleeing, and having to work overseas. Not being able to go to certain countries or face arrest and possible extradition.

Now, if he does get extradited, he won’t just face the original time for rape, he’ll also get done for fleeing and avoiding justice.

Hopefully, this time the extradition sticks. Maybe he’ll finally face prison time, and be not rape raped in prison….

I’m sure when he gets out, everyone will rally around him and help him get back to work as quickly as possible. Because, Hollywood.



Cincinnati Zoo – What went wrong?

harambeDid Harambe have to die?

Unless you’ve been living in isolation the last week, you probably couldn’t have missed the news about Harambe, the Gorilla who was fatally shot by staff at the Cincinnati Zoo, after a young kid ended up in his enclosure.

It seems like there’s only two sides. Either you think the mother was a worthless bitch, who wasn’t able to watch her kid, and that the Gorilla was killed needlessly. The other side seems to think “accidents happen” and kids are squirmy, and it’s the zoo’s fault for not having enclosures that could have prevented a kid from getting in.

Many people are also questioning why they used fatal force on Harambe, instead of a tranquilizer dart. The whole incident has also brought up a lot of debate about Zoo’s, with people claiming they’re cruel, and animals shouldn’t be imprisoned their whole life in cages.

PBZooToday is Memorial Day in the US, and Matt and I went to the Zoo. We went to the Palm Beach Zoo, which had it’s own death last month. This time though, it was a human who was killed, and the animal lived. A zookeeper was in the cage with a Malaysian Tiger, and something went wrong. They used a tranquilizer dart on the tiger, and the female zookeeper, Stacey Konwiser, was still alive when she was transported via helicopter to the hospital, but didn’t survive. They said she died of neck injuries. They haven’t identified publicly which tiger did the attack, and her husband, who is also a tiger keeper at the same zoo, has backed the decision to not name the tiger. They said Stacey wouldn’t want the tiger to be unfairly targeted. The zoo did state they it was zookeeper error that led to her death. The tiger lives on, but a human died. Many people questioned why they used a tranquilizer, and didn’t immediately shoot to kill. The zoo had to defend the decision to NOT kill the tiger.

Back to Cincinnati. It’s reported by observers that they heard the kid in question repeatedly state that he wanted to get inside the exhibit, and the mother told him he couldn’t. Apparently he really wanted in, because he then went under a rail, through wires and over a moat wall to get into the enclosure, according to the zoo. So it’s not like he just “fell in”, as some outlets are trying to say. I’m guessing this wasn’t a 3 second escapade, so at some point here, the mother is negligent. He stated his intentions, she dismissed it, but then didn’t keep the kid in check, and he managed to get inside the enclosure.

Now, many people are claiming that he shouldn’t have been able to get in. But going under a rail, through wires, and over a moat wall doesn’t sound like they’ve made it super easy. But here’s the way I understand it. Years ago, animals were kept in crappy little cell like cages, and it was like they were prisoners. Zoos have come a long way, and are doing their best to create beautiful environments, that seem like a natural habitat, and less like a prison. The enclosures are designed to keep animals in, not to keep humans out. Because, humans are supposed to be smarter than animals. Humans are supposed to enjoy observing the animals, and understand that although inside a zoo, that they are still wild animals at heart, and you’re not supposed to try to climb into their enclosure with them. Unless you’re suicidal, like the guy in Chile, who got two Lion’s killed, when he tried to commit death by big cat. The only deaths were that of a male and female Lion. The obviously mentally disturbed man was rescued.

So this kid, who was three or four years old, depending on the media outlet, got away from his parent who knew he wanted in. He gets through a fence, wires, moat wall, and then splashes into the actual moat surrounding the enclosure. At this point, Harambe goes to see who is intruding in his space. He seems to drag the kid around through the water a few times, and of course, people are worried the kid may drown. When the kid screams, Harambe helps the kid stand up. There’s all kinds of screaming and commotion coming from above, and you can hear the mother say “Mommy loves you” and I’m sure at this point Harambe is pretty freaked out. He moves the kid to another part of the moat, away from the commotion.

At some point, the zoo keepers move the female gorillas out of the enclosure, but Harambe doesn’t want to leave his new toy. People are freaking out, and the zoo keepers have to make a decision. Do they risk the kid being killed, or do they sacrifice Harambe? They can’t use a tranquilizer, because Harambe has the kid between his legs, and tranquilizers take several minutes to go into effect. While they do, you’ve got a startled 400 lb Gorilla holding on to a small child. He could freak out and snap the kid in two, or he could pass out peacefully, onto the kid, and kill him anyway. So they decide to save the human child. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision, but they didn’t really have time to mull it over. They sacrificed their gorilla to save a human.

The kid is pulled from the enclosure, and taken to the hospital, where he was found to have a concussion and some scrapes. No cuts, breaks or serious injuries. The mother then makes a post on FaceBook:

michelle gregg statement

So the mother says, Oops, accidents happen, but it’s ok, ’cause God protected him. At which point I lose all patience with her. Any sympathy I had, understanding that kids can be slippery little shits goes right out the window. Why didn’t her chosen deity not stop the kid from “falling” into the gorilla enclosure to start with, and how come he gets the praise the kid lived, and not the staff who had to make the decision to put down a member of their zoo? Maybe instead of thinking your invisible friend will watch over your kids, you need to start taking charge of that duty yourself. Remember, God helps those that helps themselves. – Meaning, protect your own damn kids.

So, the kid is fine. The mother thinks it’s not a big deal. No “sorry about your dead Gorilla”, or anything like that. Just a thanks to the imaginary guy in the sky.

So, whether the mother was negligent or not, the zoo pretty much did what they had to do. The kid, being a kid, doesn’t know better. (Although at that age, I’m pretty sure I knew better.) The Zoo loses a beloved animal, and now all the lawyers are rubbing their hands together, wondering who is going to sue who first. Should the mother be made to compensate the zoo, since she was negligent in keeping a handle on her kid, or is the Zoo at fault for letting the kid get in? So far, the zoo has managed to go 38 years without anyone else “falling in” to the enclosure, so I’m on the zoo’s side with this one.


So now we come to the question about whether zoos are necessary? Is it really a prison sentence for an animal to be in a zoo? Should animals be in the zoo, or should they be out in the wild?

There’s a few ways to look at this.  I kind of feel that growing up on television, I feel a sense of understanding. Growing up on TV is like growing up in a zoo. It’s loud, crazy, people are always watching you, and you’re confined to certain spaces.

Most zoos these days don’t hunt wild animals and transport them to the zoo to be imprisoned and put on display for the rest of their lives. Harambe for example was born in captivity, at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX. He was transferred to Cincinnati where it was hoped he would breed. Some animals are only not completely extinct because of zoos. The breeding programs, and protected environment, is the only thing keeping their species alive. Having been bred in captivity, these animals don’t know anything outside the zoo, and it could be argued that they don’t know what they’re missing.  Just like kids raised on reality TV, it’s the only thing they know, and they are relatively happy – just like Honey Boo Boo.

Other animals, like many of the ones we saw today at the Palm Beach Zoo were injured animals that were rescued, but could not be re-released into the wild, because they wouldn’t survive. Mardi, the white alligator lives at the zoo because he couldn’t live on his own.


Many of the birds were also kept there as exhibits because they wouldn’t make it if they were set free. hurt birds sign palm beach zoo owl

The monkeys were all on their own little islands, and many of them were species that were on the endangered lists. They are happily swinging from tree to tree, surrounded by lush vegetation, with a small river surrounding them. They are given food and shelter, and excellent veterinary care. Yes, some of them could be living in the wild, but if you’re living in a rainforest, where you’re being poached for your fur, or to be some rich persons pet, or having your home cut down for timber, are you really any better off?

Then there’s the people who argue that zoos don’t need to exist because you can learn about animals from books or the internet. Well, yes, you can read about an animal, or you can watch a documentary on TV, or see pictures on the internet. But it’s really not the same as seeing an animal in person. Not everyone has the funds/time/energy/ability to go to the remote places that some of these animals live in the wild. Yeah, it’d be amazing to go to China and see a panda bear in its natural habitat, or go to Costa Rica and see macaws and monkeys in the wild. I’d love to be on “I’m A Celebrity, Get me out of Here” and live with baboons in South Africa, but it’s not going to happen. For the majority of people, the only way they will ever see a real exotic animal is in a zoo. Which isn’t a bad thing. Some kids, especially inner city kids think that steak comes from the supermarket. They don’t connect meat coming from a cow. So what hope do they have of understanding elephants being poached for their tusks? Many conservationists started their love, and eventual protection of animals, with a visit to the zoo. They see a real life animal, and it touches something inside them. They hear the animal, watch it, feel a connection to it. That inspires people to care about animals in the wild. It helps some people make better decisions, whether they be as small as making sure to cut up their 6 pack rings so turtles don’t get stuck in them, to some CEO deciding not to harvest a rainforest because they know that a monkey is living there – a monkey they fell in love with at the zoo when they were a kid.

So while we all like to make a snap decision and tweet our anger when something tragic like this event happens, we need to understand that we weren’t there. We didn’t have to make a snap decision like the zoo management did. We didn’t have a plethora of kids with us like the mum did. We can’t shut down all zoos because of one incident. We can mourn the loss of Harambe. We can learn from the mistakes of the mother, and keep kids on leashes, or get a nanny or babysitter, or stay home from the zoo if you can’t control your kids. If you’re at the zoo and see some kid scaling a fence, reach out and stop them. You’re allowed to stop other people from making bad decisions. What if one of those people filming the whole thing had put down their camera and stopped the kid from getting into the exhibit to start with? We can donate to our local zoo, so they can create even better enclosures, and facilitate breeding programs that keep endangered animals alive. Direct your anger into something useful, not just generating internet memes that don’t solve anything. Oh, and if you insist on sending hate mail to Michelle Gregg, make sure you’ve got the right one. Some other poor woman with the same name is getting all kinds of threats. Most of all though, if you see stupid happening, stop it, before it ends up like this.

A monkey enclosure at the Palm Beach zoo. Just a small fence, and shallow moat. It's expected that stupid people won't try to enter the habitat.
A monkey enclosure at the Palm Beach zoo. Just a small fence, and shallow moat. It’s nice and open for the animals, and it’s expected that stupid people won’t try to enter the habitat.
Old school enclosure at the Palm Beach Zoo. The Koalas are kept in a small exhibit, behind glass. People can't get in, but it's not much fun for them.
Old school enclosure at the Palm Beach Zoo. The Koalas are kept in a small exhibit, behind glass. People can’t get in, but it’s not much fun for the animals.

Faux Intellectualism

Also known as the Emperor’s New Clothes.

Actress Blake Lively, left, director Woody Allen and actress Kristen Stewart arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film Cafe Society and the Opening Ceremony at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Actress Blake Lively, left, director Woody Allen and actress Kristen Stewart arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film Cafe Society and the Opening Ceremony at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

With all the media hype this week surrounding Woody Allen, what with his movie opening the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, and his (maybe) son, Ronan Farrow writing another thought piece about how entertainment types like to continue to praise Allen and ignore the allegations of abuse, or the fact that he married a child who was raised as his own daughter, I wondered why people choose to overlook his indiscretions.

For the most part, people seem to ignore Allen’s creeper factor because, like Polanski, who raped a child and people kept working with, it’s because he’s an “artiste”. I’ve never liked Allen’s movies, and I stopped bothering to watch them a long time ago. Maybe it’s because after coming home from a year in Honduras and seeing Allen’s movie “Bananas” and thinking the guy had no clue, I was jaded by his later offerings. Most of his stuff has the same premise, much like his real life. Old guy, young girl, pseudo intellectualism, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ve asked other people, and they tell me it’s supposed to be intelligent humor, and if you don’t get it, it’s cause you’re not smart. However, I think most of his stuff is simply seen as intellectual, and so people pretend they like it and understand it, because they don’t want to be seen as not getting it. It’s the whole emperor’s new clothes thing. Nobody wants to point out that it’s stupid, for fear of being the one pointed as being stupid. I guess actors work with Allen because of the same reason. There’s some kind of street cred in having been in an Allen movie. Then again, Hollywood is a place where everyone only uses mac’s because everyone else uses Mac’s, and they don’t want to be seen using something different, incase people think they’re inferior. Same reason they all tout the same political beliefs, or even use the same stylists. They’re all desperate to fit in, and don’t want to rock the boat.

I don’t care how much people like to pretend he’s a creative genius. The fact is, a child said he molested her. He used his influence and popularity, as well as wealth to afford a team of legal and publicity people to smear the child and the mother. He then went on to take nude photos of another child that was raised as his own, (yes, I know she’s not biologically his child, or that Farrow and Allen lived together, but he still raised her like his own) and then he married her. His latest interview about how he has given her opportunities she didn’t have in Korea is especially uncomfortable, because he really does speak about Soon Yi the way a father would about a child, not like a man talks about his wife. “She had a very, very difficult upbringing in Korea: She was an orphan on the streets, living out of trash cans and starving as a 6-year-old. And she was picked up and put in an orphanage. And so I’ve been able to really make her life better. I provided her with enormous opportunities, and she has sparked to them. She’s educated herself and has tons of friends and children and got a college degree and went to graduate school, and she has traveled all over with me now. She’s very sophisticated and has been to all the great capitals of Europe. She has just become a different person. So the contributions I’ve made to her life have given me more pleasure than all my films.” Another interview points out he didn’t intend to marry her, he was just cheating on Farrow with her, and then it developed into an actual thing. “I started the relationship with [wife Soon-Yi Previn] and I thought it would just be a fling,” Allen tells Sam Fragoso about Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, whom the filmmaker started dating while still in a relationship with Farrow.” Ugh.

Whether you like Allen’s films or not, or think he’s an exceptional artist or not, it shouldn’t stop people from asking the hard questions. Being a director doesn’t mean you can get away with things a plumber couldn’t. If you wouldn’t refrain from questioning the local brickie who was accused of kiddly fiddling, you shouldn’t stand idly by while a Hollywood person is accused of the same thing. Being famous isn’t an automatic hall pass to incestuous relationships, police interviews, or even jail.

I applaud Ronan Farrow for once again speaking up. I say fuck you to all the anonymous internet trolls who rear their twitter egg heads whenever someone speaks up against abuse and types the same boring lines. “They’re after money, or fame”. “Why did they wait so long” etc.

Watch Allen’s movies if you like, but don’t try to justify his actions simply because he can make a movie. Separate the man from the job. Don’t say that the press trail isn’t the place to ask questions. It may be the only place he has to answer them. Don’t be a part of the cycle of silence. Don’t point the finger in outrage at the guy who opened the show in Cannes with a rape joke. He didn’t rape anyone, he just pointed out that certain Americans directors did. (and continued to work)

I’m not saying you have to hang and quarter Allen, or judge him as guilty, but I am asking you to at least consider the possibility that he did was Dylan said he did. Have a little sympathy/empathy, whatever, and don’t just sweep the allegations aside because you like his shitty movies.



Can someone give me a reason to NOT have a sex offender registry?

It’s a few years now since Derryn Hinch came to the US, trying to get support for an Australian version of Megan’s Law. Unbelievably, it’s still not a thing in Australia. Western Australia has a form of a publicly accessible list, and while it’s a start, I still don’t think it’s as good as the ones I have available here in the US.

At the time Derryn came to the US, I was in Texas. Texas has a phenomenal Sex Offender registry. You can search by name, address, or see the most wanted sex offenders. When we had an exchange student, we were able to look at the map, and see names, photos and addresses for sex offenders on her route to school. We didn’t alarm her, we just told her there was a couple places she should avoid. There was no vigilantism, there was no picketing, there wasn’t burning bottles thrown at people’s houses. It’s just a tool, like any other, that lets you stay informed, and keep your kids safe.

We’ve moved to Florida, and they are way more pro-active here. They put up signs out the front of people’s houses in some counties. There are hundreds of pretty licence plates for cars here, with everything from the space shuttle to manatees on them, but if you’re a registered sex offender, you have one choice. Lime green. Makes it pretty easy to spot a sex offender cruising past a school… Their driver’s licence also identifies them. Schools here make visitors sign in with ID. This clearly identifies an unwanted.

I want someone to give me a valid reason Australia doesn’t have a sex offender registry. A real reason. Not some bullshit excuse about vigilantes. There’s 300 million people here, and everyone has access to the sex offender registry, and there is NO hunting of pedophiles. There’s no burnings at the stake. There’s no vigilantism. I call bullshit on that excuse.

The other excuse I constantly hear is about how some poor 18 year caught sexting with his 16 year old girlfriend ends up on the sex offender registry, and has to pay for life for their one indiscretion, and you know, “kids are kids”. I’m going to call BS on this one too. Every single sex offender tries to play this card. They were all some poor teenager caught with their girlfriend. Nobody ever admits they raped a kid. Matt’s mom had a kid who moved in next door to them, who was on the sex offender registry. In Texas, they’re legally obliged to tell the neighbours they’ve moved in. They tried to pull the whole “it was a misunderstanding with his girlfriend’s parents” crap, but a quick look at the sex offender registry, which actually tells you what the person did, let us know he raped a 12 year old.

Here’s the other thing about the US registries. They actually list what the offence was. They don’t name the victim, or go into explicit detail, but you can see whether someone really did get caught with their close to consensual girlfriend, or if they violently raped a child, or a man, or a woman. If you really did get popped for sexting, wouldn’t you want people to be able to see that, instead of just being a general sex offender?

Seriously, there is no reason to object to a sex offender registry. It’s a tool for keeping everyone safe, not just kids. Australia needs to step up and start protecting the innocent, not the offenders. People should be allowed to make decisions on how to keep themselves and their families safe, and you can’t do that without information.

Here’s the interview with Derryn from a few years ago. It’s all still relevant now.