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This is a diary prompted by an act of vandalism/hate speech/idiocy, two weeks in the making because I really didn't know how I wanted to write it. Over the past few days it's taken shape in my head, so here's to hoping the Muse lets me write what my brain intends.  Follow me below the dingledoodle squigglie dKosagnocchi dividerthingie fold after a word from our sponsor...


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We share a double-width driveway with our next door neighbors, and two weeks ago we got a phone call from them at 7am as we were getting kids ready for school: the police were on their way because someone had scrawled obscene things on the snow covering their cars. They were concerned that one of the things might be directed at us.

I went out and took a look. It was a collection of racial and ethnic slurs along with a generic "Fuck you" and one that I figured out later but everyone who saw the picture recognized immediately as an orgasmic penis. I took a few pictures. The cops came, looked at footprints in the snow that indicated which way they'd come from and went, but couldn't tell more because there were LOTS of footprints on the sidewalk. They said to keep an eye on things, and call if anything else happened. My neighbors are a very private family, and did not want the press involved so as soon as the cops had gone, wiped the cars clean.

I am not putting those images in my diary, but you can see them here and here.

Let me tell you a bit about my neighbors. We've known them for 15 years, an Orthodox Christian (leaving nationality out of it for privacy reasons) priest and his family. Wonderful people who, though we have religious and political differences, are some of the nicest kindest most beautiful people you could ever hope to know. The wife was shaken, as you might expect, but kept apologizing to me for the trouble. Apologizing. To ME. For cretins vandalizing their cars.

The epithets themselves? Given the neighbors are neither black nor Jewish, it's not even relevant hate-speech. But you can understand why they thought it might have been directed at us... hint, we're not Jewish either. The neighbor woman was trying to figure out what might have attracted the vandal's attention, and nothing came to mind. We were all wondering if they meant OUR car and were just stupid hatespeech-mongers, although it does seem a bit redundant.

I spent much of that day in a state of shock, but by the end of it managed to convince myself the perpetrator was some guy (footprint size suggests it was a guy, or a woman with really big feet) who finally figured out how to read his Hate-Speech ABC book and spewed all his newfound words out in the fresh snow. Yes, it bothered me that there were footprints, suggesting it could be someone local. OTOH, we live on a big street so someone could have stopped. The conditions made it clear we weren't going to find the vandal unless they were stupid enough to post something on Facebook and get caught. Mr. Brillig and I considered putting a camera pointed at the driveway and decided it was a one-off and we'd be overreacting.

Last week I was out shoveling the driveway with my neighbor and I asked her how things were. She told me that they'd been vandalized again; someone threw a bucket of dirt and slush over their car. The likelihood of that being a second, totally random incident, probably is quite low. They called the cops, who didn't seem as interested in dirty slush as compared to swastikas and epithets. Thankfully they pushed and got someone out to take a report.

Mr. Brillig and I now have a camera pointed down at the driveway, running each night from when we go to sleep until 7am when our neighbors generally go out to their cars. We've asked them to tell us if anything happens so we can look at the footage. We don't know how long we'll keep this up; nothing further has happened so far.

Here's the part of this whole incident I want to highlight... we are now concerned enough of a repeat act of vandalism that we're videotaping our driveway each night. I don't want to use the word "fear" but I will say my neighbor is relieved we are doing this. She didn't want to be alone last week in the house while most of her family was away visiting relatives during school vacation week.

Fear. Fear is what drives people to install hi-tech security systems, and fences, and gates around houses and clusters of houses. Fear is what makes us look nervously at people who don't Look or Act Like Us. Fear is what drives people to fall prey to the "protect yourself!!!1!1!" hype and buy that handgun, for self-defense don'tcha know.

Fear is what drives people to use those weapons not in self-defense, but in pre-emptive offense. Makes a man see a gun where none exists, or a thug when it's a teen on a snack run. Makes a woman in hijab as frightened of US as we are of HER. Fear is the hammer that makes everything and everyone look like a nail.

Frank Herbert wrote in his novel Dune the Litany Against Fear:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
I feel in a way I haven't really experienced before, how easy it is to slip down that slope into the rabbit-hole of "I was just protecting myself."  I am not worried my next step will be a handgun; no, we're already asking ourselves whether we can take the camera down. And if someone does commit another act of stupid vandalism again, I won't go all vigilante; no, I'll call law enforcement. And probably the press. In that order, mind you. But I understand how easy it is to Go There. And how horrible it must be to live in that mindset every single day, where someone is always out to get you.

So maybe the way through to even one of the fearful is to find ways to assuage that scared mentality. To make them feel safe enough to face their fear. I don't know how to do that. But it's worth a shot, rather than head to the hardware store for motion sensitive lights and a really big hammer.

OK. The Muse did ok. She can stay inside my head til next time.

Brillig's ObDisclaimer: The decision to publish each nomination lies with the evening's Diarist and/or Comment Formatter. My evenings at the helm, I try reeeeallllyy hard to publish everything without regard to content. I really do, even when I disagree personally with any given nomination. "TopCommentness" lies in the eyes of the nominator and of you, the reader - I leave the decision to you. I do not publish self-nominations (ie your own comments) and if I ruled the world, we'd all build community, supporting and uplifting instead of tearing our fellow Kossacks down.

Let me restate in other words: I am not taking part in your pie fight. I can assure you I don't have a side whether it's yours, or the other guy's. I publish what you send me, and if I personally think it's a suck-ass comment, I leave it for you to decide. I believe if a comment is truly horrid, then shining a nice big spotlight on it shows the writer and possibly the nominator for who they actually are. I check that the link works, not that I endorse the comment you've nominated. You think one of the nominations sucks? SAY SO. I promise I can't have you banned. Think I'm censoring your side? Then nominate comments YOU find worthy. That's how it works here.

Oh, and this: We here at Top Comments are not speaking for the DailyKos Staff. Nomination to TC does not imply kos agrees with it. Or that we do. mkay?

From LOrion:
From Meteor Blades' diary Supreme Court lets stand lower court ruling against law that would have defunded Planned Parenthood comes this Arizona top by ontheleftcoast.

(brillig's note: yes, it's a comment from yesterday afternoon but wasn't submitted until this morning. I'm including it because we can't all read comments immediately, and also because Desert Scientist's reply this morning is a must-see, IMHO)

From recoveringConservative:
nosleep4u, responding to suggestions that North Korea's military is so under-supplied that it would not withstand an assault
From thankgodforairamerica:
cskendrick explains trolls. i love how he writes. this comment is exceedingly awesome.
From Progressive Witness:
campionrules turns the comments section of Markos' epic, gourmet slice of meta pie to comedy in the best way possible, whilst very nearby Remembering Jello makes quite possibly the best Jefferson Airplane reference ever.
From Yours Truly, brillig:
Hunter has a diary in which I really want to nominate his above-the-fold statement "I'm just suggesting that perhaps every news outlet in America does not need to chase the tennis ball just because somebody threw it." Instead, Vita Brevis gets my nod for her aww cute.

In weatherdude's weather hoax diary, blue aardvark started a hilarious thread that also had Crashing Vor and railfan playing.

Top Mojo for yesterday, February 24th, first comments and tip jars excluded. Thank you mik for the mojo magic! For those of you interested in How Top Mojo Works, please see his diary FAQing Top Mojo.
  1) to anyone who knows about the fbi by Laurence Lewis — 207
  2) "Militia"?  Can't we just say "terrorist" and by misslegalbeagle — 132
  3) So by his "logic" by Vita Brevis — 126
  4) Ain't no cure for stupid. by CwV — 116
  5) When Have We NOT Faced This Choice? by Gooserock — 105
  6) I work for a big company by blue aardvark — 98
  7) I brought this up in Ray Pensador's diary. by Bob Johnson — 94
  8) FIRST... Report this to police by NonnyO — 82
  9) Hmmm. by Inland — 80
10) Yes, this is the very definition of Terrorism. by elwior — 80
11) Let me get this straight by trillian — 80
12) Well by Steven D — 79
13) Obviously not. by Tom Tomorrow — 78
14) :) by Pam from Calif — 76
15) Oh, Ken. I hope you were at least checking your by teresahill — 76
16) hsrfvdkhwkhfbmsd!!!! by LaFeminista — 74
17) Lifetime caps really matter by jfromga — 72
18) No. Leeches have modern medical uses by FishOutofWater — 69
19) These 'grafs surprised me by RFK Lives — 65
20) iz hug by Debbie in ME — 62
21) Not sure if they're hugging or by koosah — 57
22) A "cheap shot" by Tom Tomorrow — 57
23) How nice... by J V Calin — 56
24) Andee doezent overdo by KrazyKitten — 55
25) Ah teh furst shootz uff Spring... by Horsefeathers — 55
26) Now who we gonna call? by kenwards — 55
27) What a bizarre mixture of news/laws/decisions by Smoh — 55
28) The takeaway isn't "a few bad apples" by Puddytat — 55
29) There Are Scores of Millions of These People by Gooserock — 54
30) Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith by Kitsap River — 54

Top Cats (because really, who are we kidding with this one) for yesterday, February 24th.  Click any image to be taken to the full comment. jotter we gotta work on filters for your amazing image quilt!
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