Welcome to the Not Guilty No Way Podcast Episode 121 – Brian Cuban
This week Mirriam sits down with Brian Cuban. Brian is an author, an attorney, an activist and an authority on male eating disorders – just to name a few of his many talents and qualifications. The discussion is varied covering everything from bullying, growing up, Twitter, Brian’s books, his brother Mark Cuban, gun rights, immigration, politics, eating disorders, addition and recovery, keeping secrets and relationships.
Brian can be found on Twitter @bcuban
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What a strange thing, to wake up to news of killing in my homeland here, the same way I do to killing in the land of my birth. I assume that the people who are killing didn’t read my post from Sunday, wherein I said killing is wrong. Maybe they only read the headline of the last post and believed it meant go ahead and engage in homicide and then figure out a way to justify it. Â I mean, that’s what happens anyway, right? Who says I killed that person and there was no good reason for it – whether it’s 70 virgins, or a bump in your gang status, or just pure, unadulterated anger – the justification exists somewhere in your mind.
Here’s a secret: I’ve taken some time off recently. I haven’t made it public (until now), but I’ve had a chance to sit back and think about the world we live in, and life in general.* It’s been a luxury and a privilege, but it’s also been a fairly difficult time of unraveling ideas and beliefs I’d held true for so long, that I figured out are just mechanisms for keeping my on my hamster wheel, for making sure I remained unhappy yet terribly committed to my status quo. (not THE status quo, because I don’t give a shit about that. It’s fortunate that my status quo means being incredibly productive and doing good work for my clients and my family. Yet, it’s also been incredibly draining.)
During this time off I’ve had the chance to talk to and meet so many different people from all walks of life, to think about who we are as a society and what motivates us as a culture and as individuals. Look, I’m not a pundit or an anthropologist or some sort of social sciency person. Â I don’t get paid to do anything other than represent people in cases against the government. That’s it. But one way to get very good at what you do is to learn everything you can about your subject. I can be good at the law itself, but that only gets me so far. I could write appeals probably. As long as I never had to interact with a human I’d be ok. But, honestly, no one but a stick up the butt prosecutor cares that much about the rules as they are written in a book. Â That’s just the beginning of it all. I think of it this way: the law is the poison on the tip of an arrow. Without being skillful at pulling the quiver, releasing it and sending the arrow to the target, the poison itself is worthless.
If I don’t know how to get to your heart, how can I slay you with my amazing law knowledge?
Now, where were we? Right, we are killing each other.
Here’s a thought that may be sort of controversial, but I don’t know for sure until I say it. Black folks are tired of being discriminated against.( I know that’s not the controversial bit, just wait for it.) White people are tired of being blamed for all the racism that has ever existed against blacks, even though they, themselves didn’t have anything to do with it and would have chosen not to have it ever exist. Black people are unable or unwilling to give white people a chance to prove themselves on an individual basis because of this history (and present state) of racism and discrimination, so the beginning stance is one of anger and distrust. White people don’t get it, so step into situations thinking “Hey, I’m going to say something here that sounds helpful and like I understand.” And when the white person does it and the black person says “You don’t understand what it’s like” the white person gets upset because they were trying. The controversy is here:
Everyone is wrong.
Blame is a wonderful thing. It distracts you from the problem solving part of life. And man, solving problems is really hard. Blaming, well, that gets you riled up or sad or you cry or are relieved that it isn’t your fault. It makes you feel all sorts of things and if you convince yourself you need to get to what caused the problem then you will never ever get to fixing the problem. Fixing requires work. You don’t get to sit in a room and think thoughts and write them in your journal all for yourself. You don’t get to sit at your computer googling the latest events that will justify your feelings. You have to, holy shit – you have to DO SOMETHING. And I don’t mean in the congressional sense of passing a law or some other sort of nonsensical do something that does more harm than good, but you may have to get out of your comfort zone and do a thing to solve a real problem that really exists.
This isn’t just about police.
This isn’t just about prosecutors or judges or welfare.
This is about us. Me and you. Yes, you reading this. You as a human individual person named Jim or Ahamd or Sarah or Lindsey. You.
We know what the problem is already. We know why it exists. Slavery, jim crow laws, poverty, drug war, elitism, affirmative action, KKK. We know.
Now, everyone get to work on fixing it. We’ve spent decades on figuring out the why. Who is going to step up and figure out the how. You don’t like Black Lives Matter because you think everything is now peachy keen? Well, that’s a dumb reason to not like them because it’s not peachy. Nope. Sorry. You don’t like them because you think they go about their mission the wrong way – ah, good. Go tell them. And organizers and activists, shut up for a second. You have allies. They exist and you actually affirmatively push them away. Yes, you do. People have questions, they are cautious and confused. They feel like they are invading a space where they don’t belong but maybe they’d like to know how to help.
No movement is successful without the will of the powers that be, and if you tell yourself otherwise you are wrong. There is always someone on the inside who knows what motivates people. There is always a masterful archer. The rest of you are out there in you Saturday night drunken dart leagues.
I do not believe my country here is doomed. If I can have faith in my country there, where the situation is much graver, then I am clearly a person of endless optimism.
Just stop killing each other. And fix it.
* Song by Depeche Mode and one of my favorites. I do love Martin Gore:Share on Facebook
I wrote a few days ago about how killing is wrong. I gave two examples of when it is justified. It appears as if we, as a society, are willing to open up those two examples to many, many others.
We’ve destroyed any semblance of freedom we have in this country. You know who rules you, right? The government. You’ve given in to their every whim and wish with their promises of safety. You make excuses for the behavior that doesn’t fit your narrative. It’s almost like they can just do whatever they want and then watch the rest of us go at it to defend what should otherwise be inexcusable. We don’t want to be wrong.
I get it, we all fall into that way of thinking. Let me tell you about me:
I am a criminal defense attorney. My inclination is to be pleased when there is a not guilty verdict no matter who it is. It happens so rarely, that I applaud each time we get a win. Sometimes this might mean that an ‘injustice’ occurs. That’s what they say, anyway. But my job isn’t to seek justice, it’s to defend my client and make the government prove it’s case. Every time there is a not guilty I cheer inside. Even when it’s cops. Or accused child killers. I like it when people get low sentences. I wonder ‘how did that lawyer do that?’ I know! Crazy right! But when a police officer or a wealthy person or a politician is found not guilty I am glad. That’s my narrative. It is wrong-thinking because we know the system is rigged so that police officers, wealthy people, politicians, etc. get the benefit of the doubt that you and I would never get. But I don’t care. A win is a win.
But I know this is wrong. And then I have to step back and re-evaluate my position. This is not easy to do. I am frequently in conflict with my emotions when police officers or politicians walk on charges that my clients would be strung up for years on. I know it’s not because those guys have better lawyers, because we are pretty fucking good. I know it’s built in that some people are given more latitude. But what I would like is for that same sort of grace to be given to my clients. I don’t want it taken away from police or pols. Share the wealth, as they say. Look at things from my clients’ perspective the way you do from a police officer’s. If police almost always engage in justifiable homicide, why can’t it be the same for us? If we agree the streets are dangerous, why is it that only police are allowed to shoot people they feel might be a threat to them?
Honestly, America is not that dangerous. We aren’t that dangerous. We are all allowed to have guns. It’s kind of in the constitution. If the idea is that everyone is armed therefore we can shoot anyone because they might have a gun – well, how do you even exist in a place like that? Your decision then becomes either creating a prison for ourselves or chaos. I prefer neither.
If we want the United States to continue to evolve into a police state, well, that sucks. I know it’s because you never think they will come for you. I’ve written about that extensively also. But when we fail or refuse to keep those who are supposed to serve us in check, well, don’t the inmates then take over the asylum?
I’m going to leave this here.Share on Facebook
I am going to tell you something that is not a secret. If you know me, if you’ve read this blog, you’ll know, but I will say it again because some of you seem to need reassuring from me and my kind:
Killing is wrong.
This is a rule that has exceptions. If someone wants to harm you or someone around you, kill them. Don’t shoot them in the leg. The legs are small and move. It is probably prudent to try to kill them in any manner you can before they kill you. This seems self-evident. There are times when there needs to be war. You must kill the enemy according to the rules of war. Again, duh.
I feel I need to tell you this because I carry with me a name that speaks of my heritage as a muslim. And, to far too many these days, I am the enemy. Some even say my religion teaches me to kill. That I MUST kill. This is preposterous. It makes for good tweets and memes, but it displays an ignorance that is the source of the mockery of Americans around the world.
Killing is wrong.
I don’t care why or who or what. Don’t kill. Just. No. (Subject to the exceptions above.)
And no, you can’t make up that we are currently in a war with Islam. That’s just not true no matter how much you want it to be true. I know, it would make you feel so much more justified in your vitriol and anger. I mean, I just said that in a war you can kill your enemy, but I also said war has rules.
I am against the death penalty. I am vocal about it. I will not change my mind about it even if you say “what if a person killed someone you love?” I would want to kill that person and, if I had the chance, I probably would. But the state should not do it. They are supposed to be the cool headed, rational ones, right? No one would blame me (except that very same state) if I took a sledgehammer to someone who hurt my kids. I mean, regular folks wouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean I should. I should not kill. It’s wrong. The state should not kill. It should behave better than me.
It is wrong to kill in the name of religion. Look, you don’t have to believe Islam is a religion of peace. I don’t believe any religion is a religion of peace. I think Islam is a tough religion. The demands of it are onerous, particularly for women. I’ve spoken on these issues in my real life and on this blog for decades. Just like with black lives matter, I’m glad you guys have finally woken up to injustice as you see it. Because a lot of the muslim world has grave injustices in their systems. They must be changed. But much like with black lives matter, you are doing it all wrong.
I grew up with daily talk of who was killed in war. Since 1979 – and it hasn’t taken much of a break since then. Trust me, you don’t want that life. Even if you aren’t the one in the war, when people around you are devastated at the loss of – well, everything, it’s not something you’d wish on anyone. Those who believe that war is simple are lucky. You’ve never seen it except on tv and your heart has been hardened by the 24/7 news cycles where this is just what you watched while eating your lucky charms. It isn’t your fault that you honestly don’t get it. Your ability to toss aside humans who aren’t like you comes from privilege. It will never be you. I mean, you don’t really think you’d be the one killed in a gay bar in Orlando, do you? No one really believes it will happen to them. And, if you are truly afraid it is because it gives you a sense of importance – you are important enough that someone wishes to do you harm. And our government has convinced us to keep giving up freedom in order to feel even safer. (You realize it’s a trick, right?)
Killing is wrong.
War can kill even those who survive. I am lucky that my parents left before the Soviet invasion. But so what? I am not better than all those children who died during that time, or the young adults brutalized by the Taliban. I would not have been a child bride because my parents are well-educated, but being educated made you even more susceptible to being murdered. I probably would not have memorized the Quran, so the killers in Dhaka surely would have slaughtered me first. I know these things. I know that my existence is pure luck. This makes me less prone to fear things I should otherwise fear. Like random gunmen. Or my second amendment. Or Donald Trump. When you realize your life is a gift, that it could have been taken away just like the lives of millions of others who are just like you, who look like you and speak the same language as you, you tend to believe that killing is just really, really wrong.Share on Facebook