Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I struck a bit of a nerve with yesterday’s rant.

The HedyBlog commitment to you:

1) I will always publish your comments
2) I will admit when I am wrong
3) I will never, ever get personal when responding to your opinions

Regarding those last two, I sure hope you’ll do the same.
I was wrong to say that given their living conditions, those six children who died so tragically were probably better off.

That was me being stupid and angry, and I’m very sorry.

And it’s not a lame-ass ‘I’m sorry if you were offended’ either.

I’m sorry I said it. It was offensive and wrong.
It’s called personal responsibility.

I’m taking responsibility for my actions and my choices and I’m not looking to anyone else to shoulder the blame or cost if I occasionally find myself in deep shit.
Some folks would like to make this about poor people. It’s not.

If you work hard and do your best to take care of your family – no matter how many kids you have – that’s fabulous. And if you have a large family and working hard doesn’t quite cut it (not surprising these days) I hope you’re getting the help you need to make ends meet.

Because there’s help out there if you need it.

But ya gotta say something. Ya gotta at least ask.
I have a big problem, however, with parents who don’t do everything they can to keep their children safe and happy.

And I’m sorry, but those kids didn’t have to die.

Let’s break down the situation: Six children died from smoke inhalation. There was no smoke alarm to alert the family to the fire. The fire was caused by a candle. The candle was lit because the power was turned off. The power was turned off because the bill wasn’t paid. The bill wasn’t paid because the family didn’t have enough money.

Now at this point, we could say that the family didn’t have enough money because our Evil Capitalist Society keeps them in an endless cycle of poverty.

Or we could say that the family didn’t have enough money because they had eight kids and that’s an ass-load of children who need feeding, clothing and care.

The answer isn’t that easy. It sits somewhere on the continuum between our government and personal responsibility.

If your government isn’t doing its part to offer programs to help you, then yes, there’s a problem.

But if you don’t even bother asking when help is readily available, who’s responsible then?
Does being poor prevent you from keeping your children safe?

Not today. And certainly not here in Chicago, one of the most compassionate cities on earth.

The fact is, it would’ve cost the family nothing but their pride to have that electricity turned back on if they’d only contacted Chicago’s Department of Human Services. Or the Illinois Department of Human Services.

(And to you smartasses who will say they didn't have Internet access, I'm providing the links for you, not them. There are other ways to get in touch with these organizations besides a computer.)

It would’ve cost nothing but time for them to get a free smoke detector from their neighborhood fire department (a little more than a mile from their home according to MapQuest) to replace the one that was mysteriously missing from their apartment.

And most smoke detectors don’t even require electricity, just a 9-volt battery (also provided by the fire department.)
"Why didn't they say something to me" about their power being turned off, said Beatrice Hutcherson, a social worker who knows the family. "All this time. Since May? I am sad and hurt and mad all at the same time. That is something that could have been resolved."

That was from the Chicago Sun-Times.
Why do we have to blame anyone, Heather?

Because children suffered and died needlessly.

And there’s only one thing that makes me Fuck-You-God angry more than anything: When kids are hurt.

But rather than looking at our society or our government or the landlord to take responsibility for it, this time, I’m saying the parents were negligent.

Sure they’re poor. But that doesn’t mean they’re exempt.
Easy for you to say, Heather.

Like Mr. Barrett said, “Are you just another well-to-do American who thinks homeless people have no right begging for food?”

Let me give you a little Hedy history lesson.

I was the working poor.

When I first moved to Illinois, I had nothing. No job. No money. No credit cards. No degree. And for a little more than a week, nowhere to live.

Moving to Illinois was my choice and I didn’t expect or want anyone to help me.

So I found a job. Three, to be exact. Because I had very little experience, these were minimum wage jobs with no room for advancement.

I worked these jobs – one during the days, one in the evenings, and one on Saturdays – so that I could pay my rent, buy food and get gas.

I struggled.

But working my ass off and making good decisions was key to getting out of that situation.
So your heart bleeds for all those tired illegal Mexican immigrants, but you’ve got no compassion left for the parents of those dead kids?

Those tired Mexican immigrants want to work to take care of their families. If I lived in Mexico and coming here illegally meant that my kids would have a better life, you bet your ass I’d break the law. In a heartbeat.

The parents of those six dead kids have been living in the U.S. for 16 years according to the Associated Press. They had resources available to them and for whatever reason – pride, ignorance, or apathy – they chose to put their children at risk. And now their children are gone.

Personal responsibility, dear friends. That’s all I’m asking for.

A little personal fucking responsibility.

Those kids deserved better.
I am listening to: Green Day – American Idiot
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Still pissed off