Last revised 4/15/01

The Things That Make Brad Hicks Angry

As I said in a recent update to the Brad FAQ, I'm not angry all the time, even if I may look angry to you. But that being said, there are a couple of things that can be counted on to make me angrier than a wet cat. (And I don't mean Persians or tigers.) So let the following serve as fair warning. I naturally assume the worst of athletes, especially popular team athletes. I have no use for chronic liars. Small-group dirty politics, especially office politics, riles me up. And people who are anti-intellectual are simply a waste of space.

None of these things make me angry enough to hurt anyone. But no force on earth could persuade me to lift a finger to help anyone who meets the following descriptions, and I rejoice whenever I hear of something bad happening to them.

Jocks

From September 1972 to May 1974, I attended C.R. Kirby Junior High School in north St. Louis County. For almost that entire time, I was being threatened by athletes. Several times, I was beaten; more often, I escaped by wit or speed. On more than one occasion, I was shown knives or other deadly weapons and threatened with death.

In early 8th grade, I was ambushed in the locker room by a group of jocks, and I only escaped by feigning life-threatening injury. When the one who hit me in the ribs with a pipe saw me faking a punctured lung, he yelled, "All right! We killed him!" The entire group, about 10 of them, cheered, and ran away to avoid getting caught.

When the harassment started, I complained to school officials. When the beatings commenced, my parents complained even more loudly. Neither they nor I were believed. To the extent that I was believed, it was explained to me that it was my own fault, and I needed to stop doing what I was doing that was making them angry.

What was I doing that was so awful that teachers and school officials were condoning violence against me? Blowing the curve. I shared several classes with school athletes. Teachers were grading on the curve, which is to say (for those of you who've luckily never encountered this perversion) that scores were normalized, with the worst score being transformed to a 50 and the best to a 100.

Since I test well, and was paying attention in class and doing the reading, I routinely got raw scores of around 95-98 on tests. Consequently, several atheletes in the same classes with me were flunking those classes. This resulted in their being placed on academic probation, and losing their eligibility for interscholastic sports. This resulted in Kirby losing football and basketball games.

That I was unwilling (and honestly, unable) to blow off tests and score more poorly "for the good of the school" meant that, as school officials explained it to me, that I had "no school spirit," and therefore "naturally" people hated me and were willing to go to any lengths to stop me from "hurting the school."

I never got so angry over this that I wanted to kill them all. But I don't blame Eric Harris or Dylan Kleibold, who according to their best friend faced the same abuse,for trying to do so. When their school principal said on 60 Minutes, "Our athletes wouldn't do that, because they're champions," I knew exactly why Columbine happened. Are (or were) you a popular athlete? If not, are you a big sports fan? If so, then as far as I'm concerened, Eric Harris and Dylan Kleibold (and their victims) died because of you.

(And don't even get me started on the bogus hagiography of Cassie Bernal.)

And so when I see professional athletes getting away with drug abuse, assault, rape, or even murder, I think of the athletes who got away with attacking me. When I see people who ought to know better identifying with the sports franchises that nominally reside in their town, and basing part of their own self-esteem on how well "we" are doing in the playoffs, I think of those incidents. And don't tell me to get over it, because it's not going to happen any time soon.

Needless to say, it wasn't his putative skin color, nor even my feelings towards wife-beaters, that convinced me that O.J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson. Of course he did. And of course he got away with. He probably would have gotten away with it even if that idiot Mark Furhman hadn't botched the case with a warrantless search. Getting away with murder is a privilege extended to all winning athletes.

Chronic Liars

My late father (whose son I very much am) used to say all the time, "If a man's word is no good, he's no good." I say it all the time, too.

Let me give you an example. Being an occultist of some years' experience, I have seen plenty of people blow in with obviously bogus stories about their past. That's annoying, and it instantly lowers my opinion of the people who think that the rest of us are idiot enough to fall for their tall tales. I remember a woman named Dawn, who told everyone that she was a Cherokee Princess.

But the worst example I've seen of someone lying about his past was Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Scott, an obviously fake Scotsman (from Tennessee) who told everybody that he was a hereditary Druid Prince, and that his (Black Watch) kilt was his family tartan, and that the big (blackwork) pentacle tattoo on his back was put there when he was initiated in a stone circle at the age of 5.

Now, when somebody comes into the group with a story that obviously bogus, I blow it off -- once, while politely and sometimes even subtly letting the person know that I'm not buying it. If they recover well, and back down, and the subject never comes up again, they can even regain my respect.

But Jo-Jo not only didn't back down and apologize, he more than once sat in a room full of scholars who knew how full of crap he was and told us all that we didn't know what we were talking about. At that point, disgust turned to hate, and from then on, I shunned and snubbed him enthusastically and vigorously. I mocked him in front of his peers. And I personally rejoiced in every screwup that made an ever bigger mess of his life. If you were to tell me he'd committed suicide, my joy would be perfect.

By the way, the example to the left of this sidebar reminds me of one of my disagreements with society's values.

Most of society disapproves of adulterers in principle, but typically tolerates them. If you have sex with someone other than your spouse and lie about it, that's a bad thing -- but not one that will cost you the custody of your children, or your job, or whatever. Especially if you claim to feel bad about it.

Tell people on the other hand that you're polyamorous, and that's another story altogether. If you have sex with someone other than your spouse and don't lie about it, if you tell your spouse, if your spouse is OK with it, well, then you're so morally depraved that anything bad that happens to you is fair game.

Why? Because it's "bad" to "fail to live up to" society's standards -- but forgiven, because society's standards are so screwed up that nobody can live by them. Challenge those standards, though, declare that the standards themselves are wrong but you're right, and you become an Enemy of the State.

I disagree. More fool me, I guess. But I don't think it dignifies a behavior to lie about it.

Similarly, I am reminded of a married man who was cheating on his wife with my roommate. I started out with a dislike for him over this. But when I was sitting in the library reading and he came in to use the phone, and lied and lied and intentionally lied to his wife, my dislike turned to a fiery and lasting anger, and I still can't stand him. He didn't just lie about where he was; you expect that sort of thing from an adulterer.

No, he lied even more blatantly about when he'd be back. Having no intention of leaving my home before morning, he told his wife he was on his way out the door and would be home in a few minutes. That's not even a respectable lie. That's one he was going to be caught in in less than an hour. That's a lie that doesn't even dignify itself by attempting to pass for truth.

I have no trouble understanding why a snake like him would do that. He'd rather tell her (or anyone) what he thinks will end the argument now than endure the (earned) emotional distress that would come from telling the truth. I understand. But I hate it. And I do not sympathize. And I think that the kind of person who'd lie like that, over and over again, is just no good. I have no use for them as a person.

Office Politics

Nobody likes a brown-noser. A suck-up. A back-stabber. A boot-licker. A yes-man. Right? Everybody hates that guy in the office who has no talent, who contributes nothing to the company, but who politics and schmoozes his way up the ladder. Right?

If so, then as far as I can tell, everybody but me is lying. Most of you don't hate that guy. You just hate the fact that he's better at it than you.

Well, I actually do hate him, and I'm not terribly fond of the rest of you who're trying to emulate him.

Maybe it's jealousy on my part. I don't suck up worth a fiddler's f--k. It is just not how I was raised. My father was a beatnik, a bohemian, an anti-authoritarian who raised me to kneel to no one. He treated everyone he met as an equal (at best) and he raised me to do the same. I never learned to grovel or brown-nose.

When I was at MasterCard, the last manager I had patiently tried to explain to me just how important this skill was. He even sent me to expensive classes in it. (See my seperate rant on that subject.) But it never took. Oh, sure, I could pass tests on the subject. I know, more or less, what's expected of me.

But I can not get over my resentment of it long enough to actually do it.

So in both of the large corporations I worked for, I watched all the money, and all the prestige jobs, and all the rewards, and all the perks, go to people with half of my talent. They said that sure, I was the one doing most of the productive work, but I wasn't a "team player." BS. I was more dedicated to the team than they were. I cared about the success of the team. I valued the contributions of my team mates. I went out of my way to help them. I was a very productive team player.

When managers say that someone isn't a "team player," what they mean is that he isn't a brown-noser.

Consequently, I have learned over the years to hate brown-nosing, back-stabbing, suck-up office politicians with a fiery passion. That the best of them are also all pathological liars, a separate hot button of mine, only makes it worse. This smoldering resentment has increasingly rendered me incapable of working in an office environment.

Again, don't tell me to just get over it, because that's not going to happen any time soon, either.

Anti-Intellectualism

I am infamous among my friends for being an intellectual snob. And it's more or less true; I do think more highly of people who are more knowledgeable.

But I don't hate, or get naturally angry, around people who are ignorant. I may think less of them, but not knowing anything much isn't enough to make me mad.

But once in a rare while I run into someone who finds out that I've read a lot, and says something about how books are stupid, learning is stupid, people who think they know stuff are stupid, education is stupid ... and my blood boils.