Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Mutilation


My so called neighbor two houses over from me decided day before yesterday to come onto my property and chop up one of my agave cactus without one word to me or any thought as to how I might feel about it. I'm quite angry about it and rightly so and wonder how they would feel if I decided one day to come into their yard and destroy something of theirs. I would never do such a thing because I have morals and I know right from wrong...but apparently they missed that lesson in life.

It wasn't an act of kindness or neighborly caring that drove this man to mutilate my poor agave, it was an act of a bigot who holds nothing but disdain for us because we believe differently from him. He is a Christian(the kind that gives Christianity a bad name) and we are atheists. In his mind he has all the justification he needs to break the law by not only trespassing, but to vandalize as well, because we don't matter as far as he is concerned. He views us as the lowest of the low and we don't deserve to be treated with respect.

Anyone who knows us can say without hesitation that we are good caring people, but for the past several years this neighbor and his wife have treated us differently since the day they realized we didn't believe in their god. I get dirty looks from them on a regular basis, and any time I wave and smile at them they turn their backs and ignore me. Not only do they treat us differently, but so do the neighbors on either side of them. I hate living in this neighborhood because of people like them. It's too conservative, too bigoted, and not a kind environment by any means for a liberal atheist, but I'm stuck with it and have to try to make the best of it.

This evening Russell went over to their house to inquire about the cactus because I asked him to. I was too angry to do so and knew I probably wouldn't give atheists a good name either. Russell didn't quite believe me when I told him that I knew who did it and why I thought so. It was very obvious to me who did it, but Russell thought I was being a little overly dramatic and jumping to conclusions because he hadn't been subject to their attitude the way I have over the past several years. I've mentioned to him in the past that I thought our neighbors were being unfriendly to us because they knew we were atheists but he didn't put too much stock into my gut feelings until tonight...

He went over there to politely and diplomatically inquire about the cactus and immediately realized he was in hostile territory. The neighbor's wife told him several times how we made her sick...she didn't like the bumper stickers on our car...that made her very sick, she didn't like how our yard looked...it made her sick, and it made her sick how the neighbor between us had a hard time selling their house because of our bumper stickers and yard.

Let me be clear, there isn't anything wrong with our yard. I pay someone to come mow and edge weekly. It may not look as beautiful as the hateful neighbor's yard, but they are both retired with no small children or teenagers to look after and devote most of their time to their yard. If they are so sickened by my yard, why did he make my cactus such an eyesore? What is the purpose of making my yard look bad?

And as far as the bumper stickers go, this is supposed to be a free country we live in. It's not like they have foul language on them or anything, but even if they did, we'd have a right to display them. One sticker says "Freedom From Religion" but you'd think it said "kill kittens" or something equally terrible the way they reacted over it. If it weren't for people like them, there would be no need for bumper stickers that display a free thinker's sentiments. Maybe I should go get a new anti religious bumper sticker and put it on my car...give those nasty neighbors something to REALLY be sick about. I'm kidding of course. I think as angry as I am over this, I should turn the other cheek so to speak and show them how nice people behave. Thoughts anyone?

34 comments:

Ginny said...

btw, if you think the cactus doesn't look that bad, you didn't see it before being chopped up and having the leaves bent over and broken. I've got pictures of it somewhere on my blog...maybe I should find those so everyone can see how bad it really looks.

Joe said...

If you can prove it, call the police. At least call them and make a report that your property was vandalized. Mention your problems with the neighbor. I wouldn't pussyfoot around with this if I were you. And, I'd give the good Christians a cherry wave each and every time I saw them, just to give them acid indigestion.

pussreboots said...

File a police report and note down everything they said to you and your family. Include before and after photos of the cactus.

Sharon said...

Prejudice and bigotry is everywhere in this world. One cannot escape it. Where I live, there is a high degree of these sentiments towards the Hispanic population. Your own grandparents were very prejudiced in their own way. It seems to be human nature to reject anyone that does not believe or look the same. There are those that are exceptions, but these people that hacked away at your cactus are obviously not part of that exception.
I vowed at an early age NOT to become like my parents in this regard, and to be excepting of others and not be a "sheep". I am proud that all of my children are members of the "exceptions".

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Under Australian law they would have to return the leaves to you as it is your property.

You should all move here. Economies running hot and people really don't give two shits if you're religious or not.

I have a fundamentaist Christian in my dance group, I dance with his wife he dances with mine, not a problem.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Alternatively, you could just spray their lawn with glyphosate, in patches using a high powered water pistol.

Ginny said...

I have decided to report the incident to the police department but I'm going to be very generous and not file charges against them even though they probably deserve it.

The more I think about it, I wonder why he only chopped down the side facing the street and not the back side that faces the sidewalk. He claimed he was worried children would poke an eye out on our cactus, but children around here are never in the street, they use the sidewalk. So something doesn't add up with his story and this makes me feel like the target of a hate crime to some extent...especially after all the hateful things they said to Russell about us being atheists.

I'm waiting for the sheriff's office to call me back...will keep you all updated...

Sharon said...

Hate crime...who would have ever thought you and Russell would be the victims of such??? But, I guess to an extent, that is what this incident could be.

I still don't understand why he wouldn't have expressed his concerns regarding kids getting hurt by the cactus, and asking you to cut it back. If this were his true motive. Given the location of his "hacking" it would not appear to be the case.

kimberly said...

What a terribly ignorant so called Christian. Being an knowledgeable Christian myself I can truthfully say that your neighbor is not! Saying they are Christians and not acting like one is hypocritical not to mention Un-Godly!!! I'm sorry someone would do and say such mean and terrible things to you. You know I would never do that to you.

I would report them, you know they would report you if you had done something like that to them.

Poodles Rule said...

I hope I am not duplicating this comment, my computer crashed just as I hit "publish".

I agree that you need to file a police report. This ass shouldn't be allowed to get away with what he did. The sad part is that you need to take the high ground to prove that "your kind" is better than they are.

You should be able to just file charges not be afraid of the reprocutions of that.

UGH. Poor cacti.

Kazim said...

Click here for more on my perspective of this story.

Kazim said...

By the way, I was informed by some people on the Motley Fool that the agave is not a cactus, nor even related to a cactus.

Ginny said...

Heh, I learn something new every day...I always thought it was a cactus of sorts...but I guess it's a succulent? Too lazy to go look it up right now...

Kazim said...

Well, wikipedia says it's related to the lily.

Mandi said...

I'm really sorry this happened to you. There is absolutely no reason for behavior like that.

Ginny said...

Thanks everyone for your support and kind words. I'm trying to get past the hard feelings and think of productive ways I can approach the neighbor. I'd like him to compensate for the damage he has done.

I need to find out how much the plant was worth. I'll be calling a couple of nurseries tomorrow to try and get an idea. If the neighbor wants to replace it he can, or maybe he can talk me into some other kind of plant that he can purchase and put in the ground himself. This will make me feel a little better I think...that and perhaps an apology.

Ginny said...

You should all move here. Economies running hot and people really don't give two shits if you're religious or not.

Where do I sign up? Sounds like a great place, plus I could hike out in the outback!

Davey G. said...

This would all go away if you just trusted Jebus..or something like that.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Actually I have some office mangement jobs in the middle of nowhere if you like desert scenery.

Ben said...

Sorry to hear about your situation, if it was I, then I'm sure I would be absolutely livid!!

I would say go to the police, but you'd probably find that they are bigoted fundamentalist religo-nuts as well! They might side with the vandals!!

I agree with the earlier comment by joe urging you to smile and wave everytime you see them. After all, they are the children here..! Might as well make them feel it.

Good luck!

Ginny said...

Actually I have some office mangement jobs in the middle of nowhere if you like desert scenery.

I love the desert, but I don't think it's Russell's cup a tea.

I would say go to the police, but you'd probably find that they are bigoted fundamentalist religo-nuts as well! They might side with the vandals!!

Actually we did report the incident and the officer that came to talk to me was extremely nice and took our side. He said he had seen me before around the neighborhood in my car and wondered what my bumper sticker meant. I had the opportunity to explain it to him and do a little PR for the atheist viewpoint. He didn't see a thing wrong with it. Quite refreshing if you ask me. It's nice to know there are still some "Peace" officers on the payroll.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that plant is within your property boundaries?

It clearly looks like it's on the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street.

In most areas, that grass strip is a public right-of-way.

If the plant is not actually on your property (check your survey or call the town to find out for sure), then I think you owe your neighbor a BIG apology.

Ginny said...

Are you sure that plant is within your property boundaries?

It clearly looks like it's on the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street.

In most areas, that grass strip is a public right-of-way.

If the plant is not actually on your property (check your survey or call the town to find out for sure), then I think you owe your neighbor a BIG apology.


To be honest I am not up on the laws of "right of way". Regardless, why do you think I owe my neighbor any kind of apology, particularly in light of the fact that they've been quite unfriendly to us in the past because we are atheists?

The bottom line...the plant is mine, it's in front of my house, etc... If it was considered a menace, who do you think would be responsible for it? The whole neighborhood? A neighbor? No, it would fall on me. The city would ask ME to do something about it.

Also the police officer didn't seem to think I was out of line either by being upset and he was the one that said I had the right to press charges of trespassing and vandalism...wouldn't he know the laws in our area to suggest such actions?

Btw anonymous...you should make up a user name or something. Welcome to the blog.

Josh47 said...

To be honest I am not up on the laws of "right of way". Regardless, why do you think I owe my neighbor any kind of apology, particularly in light of the fact that they've been quite unfriendly to us in the past because we are atheists?

--

Well if it wasn't actually on your property, then the neighbors weren't actually trespassing. I don't see how them being unfriendly has anything to do with it. Either they want on your property or they didn't. If they didn't, then they're not trespassers. That's all.

---
The bottom line...the plant is mine, it's in front of my house, etc... If it was considered a menace, who do you think would be responsible for it? The whole neighborhood? A neighbor? No, it would fall on me. The city would ask ME to do something about it.

---

Well frankly, I've looked at the pic a couple of times, and it looks like what your neighbor tried to do was to try and trim the part of the plant where the leaves might have been growing out into the street. That's a possible explanation for why he only trimmed on the street side, not on the side facing your house. If he meant to be malicious, then it occurs he would have either chopped down the entire plant or certainly the part facing your house.

There's probably some ordinance or other that says shrubs have to be neatly trimmed and not going out into the street, which would make sense. Unfortunately, there's a past history of friction between you, I'm sorry for that. He might not have wanted to approach you directly before doing it so as not to offend or insult you, i.e. hurting your feelings, due to the past misunderstandings/friction. Maybe he thought he was doing you a favor by taking care of it for you.

You know old people can have pretty strange ways about things. Everything has to be "just so." The garbage bag has to be tied a certain way, the old newspapers have to be tied up for recycling in a certain way, etc. Maybe this neighbor just was sort of OCD about this.
---
Also the police officer didn't seem to think I was out of line either by being upset and he was the one that said I had the right to press charges of trespassing and vandalism...wouldn't he know the laws in our area to suggest such actions?

---Well I don't know if it's always a good idea to follow a police officer's suggestions on legal issues. It doesn't really sound like you were being encouraged to press charges, just that the police were telling you you could if you wanted, not that you should. It's probably a good idea that you didn't, no good can come from legal quarrels with the neighbors.
--
Btw anonymous...you should make up a user name or something. Welcome to the blog.

Thanx. Have you considered baking the neighbors a nice pie to smooth things over a little?

Ginny said...

Thanks for posting again Josh...you make some valid points, although I don't entirely agree with every thing you mentioned.

In any case, I thought about baking them some cookies to show that I am a live and let live type and don't hold grudges...I doubt they'd eat them though...which would be a shame because my cookies rock. ;)

Kat said...

I read about this on the Friendly Atheist, and followed the links.

I'm really sorry this happened to you, but it doesn't surprise me.
I'm a single mom, atheist, raising my sons in an atheist home. (OH the horror!) I've been called names, had people throw things at my house, had my children called names and many more things.
If we aren't like them, we aren't worthy of breathing, and it's amazing what these people are capable of doing all in the name of their god.
They do hateful things to others.

"Thanx. Have you considered baking the neighbors a nice pie to smooth things over a little?"

LOL! Because a home made pie solves everything. hahahahaha

Ginny said...

Hi Kat, welcome to my little slice of internet.

After further pondering Josh's words, I think the bottom line is that the neighbor doesn't like us at all. Because of his dislike of us, he didn't use actions that are more in line with someone who respects someone else. He wasn't a bit concerned about not hurting my feelings, or helping us out. I guess you just have to be in my shoes to know this.

We've done NOTHING to this neighbor ...not in the past...and not now. We've always been kind to those around us and don't deserve the treatment we've gotten from these folks. If it had been any other neighbor, the man would have knocked on their door and had a friendly chat about any plant that might be considered overgrown.

One would think that if my plant was a problem for the city they would have given me a notice. Each garbage day my trash cans sit in front of that plant...if it was hazardous or a problem plant, I imagine the garbage men would have been complaining to me about it.

Psychodiva said...

I've just caught up on this- I am sorry for what has happened to you and your family- hateful behaviour from neighbours is very distressing- I do forensic psychology for a living and the fact that he made a concerted effort to go over the road with a tool and actually physically do something is concerning- it wouldn't be so concerning if he had not made a decision to physically do something- I would please watch out for further incidents and report absolutely EVERYTHING to the police no matter how minor it could be considered by other people. These types of criminalds- who don't think of themselves as criminals- often start small - I would also get cameras for your property.

tune said...

I stumbled upon your site while doing research for a book. I'm just coming to terms with my beliefs (or lack thereof), and stories like these weird me out. I often feel like I'm one of the people in the Body Snatchers movie from the 70s. 'What will they do if they find me out', I think to myself! I fear the backlash about my book, and it isn't even written yet! I go to forums and find that there are people who are 'out' with their thoughts, and others who are 'in' because of what they fear could happen. I hope to write something that will help the isolated ones of the world find each other out and find comfort/strength. Good luck.

Joel said...

Maybe they are furtively trying to brew tequila? If so, they're going about it the wrong way.

No, this kind of holy war committed by any party for any reason is disgusting. Those agaves have been around since before you were there, no, so why did they not act before?

Yes, joe has it right. This is a matter for the police.

Ginny said...

Welcome Tune and Joel...your comments are appreciated. :)

Good luck with that book Tune...let me know when it's finished.

We had another neighbor stop by and ask once if they could take some of the leaves...they said they wanted them for cooking? Anyone ever hear of using agave to cook with? Anyway, we let them have some.

Ivy said...

I always find it interesting how people who do not profess to be Christians have a tendency to behave in a manner more consistent with the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth than do those who claim to believe in His divinity.

I am very sorry that happened to you; you can come live by me! I promise not to invite you to church or attack any agave you might have (though I find them aesthetically distressing). It is very kind of you to not press charges or even have the cops go talk to them. One can only hope that they will learn from your example.

Anonymous said...

whoever said the plant was not on your property and could be vandalized is a jackass. By the same reasoning when you place your garbage can on the curb, then it is free game and can be stolen. Come to think of it I am going to cruise my neighborhood tonight with a shovel and remove all plants I like that are on my neighbors property line, remove them and place them in my back yard. Thanks for the wonderful legal advice.

Sam said...

I dont even live there anymore, but that really pisses me off. This wasnt the first time that the cactus had been threated to be cut right? didnt what's his face try to "trim" them up back when they were trying to sell their house?
I read russell's blog and there they said our yard looked horrible. Have they not even seen the yard to the left of ours, theirs is far worse.