Once when I was living in Maryland, I was driving at 11 pm down a road with a very confusing intersection. There were three different roads all crossing at one spot at odd angles that would have made H.P. Lovecraft horny for the old ones. This meant that there there a tangle of traffic lights.

I was tired, it was night, and I ran a red light because I thought the road I was travelling down had a green light.

If you’ve ever lived in Maryland, you know the struggle is real.

I was immediately pulled over. So I turned on my hazard lights, slowed down, and pulled into the empty parking lot of a business. I rolled down the window, stopped the car, and put my hands on the steering wheel so the officer could see my hands.

When he walked over, before he could speak, I said, “well, officer, I see that you witnessed the dumbest thing I’ve done in about 8 years.” He laughed, asked for license and registration, went back to his vehicle, came back, and gave me a warning while chuckling. He let me off.


What hit me on the ride home was this: I had NO fear. I had no concern that I was going to be questioned about driving my vehicle, I knew that there would be no assumption that I was out for any bad reason, there was no search of my vehicle, I was never asked if I had a weapon and was let off from an MD Transportation Code Title 21, Subtitle 2 violation that carries a $140 fine.

My expectations of the encounter were met: I expected the police officer to act dispassionately and with respect. I got exactly that. My joke saved me $140, but I also knew that if I had more melanin in my skin, the encounter would have been more fraught.

I don’t think at all that if I were black the police officer would’ve immediately assaulted me or would have been a terror. I feel completely certain that officer would have approached me in a very professional manner.

But I DO think that the encounter would have been different. It would have been more fraught, the officer would have been more nervous when approaching me, and the need for me to justify my being out at 11 pm would be more necessary. I think that my joke would have fallen flat and that I would’ve owed the state of Maryland $140. 

If I were fined as a white man, it would have been just. It’s on the books that way. I definitely ran the red light, only recognizing the offence when I was more than halfway past the light. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I DID IT, so although it would have been an inconvenience to pay that money, it would also be the logical conclusion. I broke the law. I pay for it.

My white privilege here wasn’t how the law applied to me, it was how the law wasn’t applied to me. Privilege comes from the Latin privilegium, or “private law.” That is a set of laws that apply to a set of people that doesn’t apply to others. Or in my case, don’t apply.

That might not have been the only factor in this encounter. The officer could have been tired and didn’t want to do the paperwork. But my privilege was, I feel, a very strong factor.


I was inclined to speed in my 20s and in many encounters with the police, I got exactly four tickets. In two cases, I went to the court and the traffic officer never showed, so they threw out the ticket. In one case where the officers showed up, I paid the fine and took the hit on my driving record.

In the cases where I was let off with a warning, the officer was friendly and professional. There was a “boys will be boys” attitude about the whole thing.


Once, I tried to outrun a police officer. I was speeding down an interstate and I heard the sirens start off in the distance. Instead of slowing, I gunned it for the nearest exit, hung a hard right, and parked my car at a college.

The officer found me (of course). I had shut down my car, had the window rolled down, and had my license and registration out.

He walked up to my car with a smirk and said, “you tried to run, didn’t you?”

I said, “yep” in a matter of fact way.

He laughed and said, “I woulda done the same thing. Let me let you off with a warning, partner.”


There is one case in my whole life (so far) was I treated poorly by the police. I was driving from Austin to Houston in what turned out to be a heavily used drug corridor. I didn’t know this until that very night when I was pulled over. The officers were rude, cruel, and ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN my body and car were made out of Angel Dust. 

They were pretty pissed to find only meat and metal. They insinuated, tried to entrap me, and didn’t like the fact that I was very carefully watching them search my car.

That’s it. I was not scared for my life. I was severely put out. I was indignant. How DARE the police treat me this way!

And the fact I could feel that way shows my privilege. I didn’t fear for my life, I was thinking about lawyers. I knew they weren’t going to haul me off to jail. They originally threatened to do so. One said “you know, we can impound your car and do a thorough search. We can take you to jail at any time.” So I said, “yes, and I can sue the town for false arrest because I don’t have so much as an aspirin in that car or in my system.”

I played with fire because as a white man I knew my life was protected with metaphorical oven mitts. I could be as “uppity” as any other white man.

They gave me a ticket which I never payed because I decided to use a new route from Houston to Austin and because screw those guys.

I called up the court of that town a few days later and asked if they had a ticket in the system with my driver’s license number. The lady said, “no, would you please tell me the nature of the infraction” and I said “nope” and hung up. I was not about to help them find a ticket that slipped through the system.

I checked my driving record later and it was never recorded, so the cops probably never submitted the ticket because it seems to be legal to drive the speed limit at night. Yes, even in Texas.

You see, the law didn’t apply to me. I got away with it because I COULD get away with it. I was a white man in Texas. That is pretty much the top of the cow patty pile.

(NOTE: I am STILL a white man, just not in Texas.)


My privilege is not something that I’ve willed into being. I didn’t MAKE my white privilege. That’s not how it works. I was born into a system made by white men for white men. I was raised in it blissfully ignorant that I was not only given an advantage in life; I was given cheat codes.

I was a baby Buddha still in the protective castle walls of his father.

Only later when I actually listened to people outside of my “tribe” and read history not taught to me in basic elementary, middle, high school, and college history that that I found out that my tribe has done and is still doing some very shady and cruel things.

Americans are deprived of history. White people ignore it because we can and black people have had theirs taken away.

I have gotten away with a LOT of little things over the decade, most often in the most cavalier manner. I shrugged off minor infractions like they were nothing more than a cloud of gnats flying in my face while on a walk.

That is the immense amount of privilege I have inherited from my white, racist ancestors – a world where the laws bend to us, where we can ignore suffering because that shit gets in the way of shopping, where we can live an entire life without feeling an ounce of the weight of an entire system that says to the other, “we are not for you. You are at most tolerated or used for entertainment.”

Some white people might have stories about how they were discriminated against, but that again is a privilege. They can be upset about it, enraged even. They have the privilege to do that. With black people, that experience is so woven into their lives that it is “just the way it is.”

We can look at the murder of a white man and feel the profound injustice. We don’t have look at the murder of someone with our skin color on television and think, “it happened again like it always does, and again nothing will change.”

About Them BLM Riots…

On Facebook, there is this man who went to the same school as I did – and before I go on, this has to be said: the high school I went to was terrible. It was an extreme-right parochial Christian school aimed to stamp out people cookie-cutter-like and seed them into the world so as to cover the planet in brambles and nightshade. And I should say here: #NotAllChristians. I’m specifically talking about the horror show I was raised in.


This was about the BLM riots. He (the high-school person, not someone with the initials BLM) said that the police should surround the rioters and force them to rebuild at gun point. So, of course, I had a response but (again, of course) it turned into some lengthy thing too long for the format. What I wanted to say to this man was this:

Thank you.

Each day, Christians like him showed me the shallowness and hypocrisy of their convictions. Each day, Christians like him showed that they care more about property than people. Each day, I see Christians who support a system that kills black people for minor infractions and easily forget the Jesus who held a riot against the moneymakers in the temple. I see entitlement instead of mercy, moral posturing instead of love, fantasize of violence against the “other” instead of hope, false certainty versus faith.

Thank you.

You have shown that my path away from that flavor Christianity was the right one. My path started with listening to people instead of preaching at them. I learned from my “enemies” and found friends instead. It continued with learning compassion for those who suffer, whether I “agreed” with them or not. With checking what I heard via third-party sources and statistics rather than let anyone interpret “truth” for me. With seeing the togetherness of humans and realizing that their injustice is mine, even I sought to hate and instead found people so capable of love and in so much pain.

It is evolving in me – not perfected, NEVER perfected, but always being built.

You have given me a gift. I am not being sarcastic. I mean this from the bottom of my heart. I am glad, because rarely does anyone get so clear a view that one did the right thing. We are mostly living blindly in this life. People like you show me what I left behind – how dead and cruel that faith was. How devoid of mercy or love of other people – only for the people who agree with what you say and look like you.

I am liberated. You and yours gave me a place to run from until it turned into something I can run towards. I never learned to really love others until I left your Christianity. And I do this not because I am afraid I will be damned if I don’t. I do this because I only receive this life, and I don’t want to spend it in hate.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

The Weekend Redirect: Reditus – Amanda Mininger

Amanda Mininger discusses coming back to writing after a long delay in this wonderful blog post. This is something that is universal for those of us who love slinging words together. I myself took a nearly year long break for one reason or another and the factory has only just started up again.

Read the post, but don’t just read the post. Savor the whole thing. This person can write!

Source: Reditus

And We’re Back

Hello, World.

Okay, the move is complete, the packages unpacked, the boxes unboxed, the prisoners released, the wires wired, the birds de-catsed, the rabbit imprisoned, and the last rabid dog ambling down the street has been shot by Atticus.

Now that the move is completely complete and the massive stack of boxes are hidden in the garage to make a new abode for the Brown Recluse Spiders, I can get back to typing. Whether that is good or bad is completely dependent on how you feel about what has happened so far.

In the meantime, moving is painful but cathartic. We take the same view as NASA concerning freight – there is a certain cost per pound. We are stingy with that cost because, like the beginning of the show “Fame,” we are paying in sweat. The question we ask ourselves is “do I want to carry THAT up three flights of stairs?” Very often, the answer is “um, no.”

Yet however much we shed, we seem to have too many things when we unpack. Was the Buddha right? Are our possessions merely contributing to our sense of unhappiness? Are they weighing us down? Is our desire for things leading to frustration at our inability to get said things?

Or was the Buddha a very poor person who had no stuff and it was all just a case of sour grapes?


Sure, he had tranquility and attained nirvana, but did he have a PS4? I think NOT! #earlobes. 

Anyway, we still have too much stuff. As Maria Bamford said, we’re not rich, but we have a lot of shit that we’re not willing to share.

There are still fiddly-bits and odds and sods that are still piled up in ways that my wife hates, but we’re carving a home out of this mess. We’ve already had two dinner parties and a babysitter visit!


In the meantime, here is the view from outside my office.


Not bad at all. Suck it, Buddha!