Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Feb 22, 2018

See you at 2!

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. We'll start in a few.

Isn't part of the problem advertising yourself as a "Gun-Free Zone"? Obviously no one who has murderous intent and access to guns will be deterred. Since America is awash in guns, doesn't it make sense to harden soft-kill targets like schools? I don't think we can afford a "School TSA" model, so why wouldn't we want to arm some school teachers or administrators? Whatever, we should do what the Israelis do to protect their schools and airlines, including behavioral profiling.

Throwing this out there, because why not start with a question that hits us all where we're raw and confused right now?

Hi, Monica - This may be more of a question for Carolyn Hax, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on a conundrum with which I'm struggling. I'm the stepmom to three terrific kids, who are all tweens and teens. I typically get along really well with their mom, although we don't always see eye to eye on everything (she's an evangelical Christian and I'm, well, not; she's conservative, I'm pretty liberal). This week, one of my kids asked me if I had seen their mom's Twitter feed. I hadn't, but what I saw shocked the heck out of me. She likes and retweets really vile, hate-filled messages -- like Russian bot, fake news, Info Wars-esque conspiracy theories. She even retweeted derogatory messages about the kids from Parkland, which made me so angry I had to go take a walk around the block. The question is, what should I do about this? My husband advised me not to engage. He thinks the kids are old enough that they just roll their eyes at their mom's political views. I don't want to do anything that could potentially drive a wedge between the kids and their mom, but man, this is hard for me to stomach. What do you think? Do I butt out? Do I tell the kids that they can talk to me if they ever have questions about politics or current events? What's sad is that I think it would be advantageous for the kids to be exposed to an array of political views -- just not anything that is mean or bullying in tone, or patently false.

Oh goodness. This is definitely a Hax question, and I'll throw it out to the audience so we can get a wide variety of opinions. 

My first instinct is that this is a time for open, neutral questions: "How do you feel about that tweet? How do you feel about that position? How do you think we can tell when things are true and when things aren't? Should we do some more research?"

I imagine the last thing you want to do is create a situation where either home is stressful for the kids, or to create a situation where you're suddenly in the middle of stepkids relationship to their mom.

Anyone out there have experience in this field?

Watched it on a whim this week. Amazing film, the kind where the ending sticks with you for days. Some people get turned off with what happens in the first three minutes... as I almost did... but stick with it. Also, don't let anyone tell you anything about the ending. It's more fun to find out on your own.

It's still on my stragglers-list of things I need to see before the Oscars (I'm covering them in L.A. this year), along with The Shape of Water and Phantom Thread.

How saddening is it that when I read "The Florida Project" in your subject line, my first thought was that you were referring to the Parkland student-activists.

How does their dad handle their questions or remarks about Mom's hateful posts? Does he shrug and say, "ignore her" or "don't engage" to the kids, or does he hold substantive discussions with his kids about right and wrong, about kindness and hatefulness?

Yes, obviously I need remedial Hax training, because the first questions should have been, "what is the biological parent, your husband, doing about this?" (I think I assumed, "He's doing nothing, so let's respond to the stepmom because she's the one who wrote in.")

Turn the U.S. into an armed camp, the way Israel is? As for "behavioral profiling," this shooter was reported to various authorities numerous times and we see where that got us. The answer is a mandatory buyback of all such weapons that no civilian needs.

Yes, let's do what the Israelis do, INCLUDING massive restrictions on gun ownership. It's ironic that people claiming to protect the 2nd Amendment (it's my God given right!) will overlook trampling on other Amendments to do so (separation of church and state, illegal search and seizure, freedom of press and assembly, etc.).

Until the assigned gun-toting teachers are out sick and oh, the person who's been casing the school knows it. There are so many reasons this won't work. And could cause more harm than good.

I regularly feel so lucky that when I was in high school, school shootings happened, but we all thought they were aberrations. We talked/joked about who we thought the shooter would be at our school. We didn't really think there would be a shooting at our school.

Tomorrow's Friday so let's submit stepmom's question to Hax.


One warning: Great film about kids, but definitely NOT a kid's movie. Be sure to see it before you decide to let your kids watch it.


For the stepmom, I think your response is correct. Ask the kids what they think about the current events? What do they know or not know? What do they care about? I think sometimes adults (me included) spend too much time screaming at each other, and not enough to ask and listen to our kids.

I've recently come off a stretch spending a lot of time with toddlers and their parents. First, my friends are awesome parents. Second, the phrase that seems to come most out of the parents' mouths are, "And what do YOU think about that?"

THIS! The older they get, most likely the more eye-rolling they'll do. Just stand back and let 'em roll.

It's funny, though, how even the things we rolled our eyes at as teens manage to infiltrate our brains and come back as adults. Sometimes it's silly stuff, i.e. "Water glasses must be stored opening-down because that's how my mother did it," and sometimes it's, "I am woefully miseducated and actually believe this conspiracy theory."

As the stepmom there is no way that your interference in the mom's politics, social media, parenting of her kids etc. will end well. No one will believe your intentions are good, you will receive a purely emotional reaction, and any opportunity for open discussion will end. What are the kids even supposed to do with your criticism? Confront their mom? Kids in divorced families need less conflict between the parent groups, not more. My wife has a mother and stepmother, and although both have their challenges, no criticism of the mom by the stepmom (even implied) would be received well.

I agree with that perspective to a point. Like, there is no benefit to a stepmom saying, "Unlike in your mother's house, WE don't eat only crazy vegan gluten-free food." But if the mom is telling the kids factual inaccuracies that could make the world an unnecessarily scary place, I do think there's a place for conversation. 

True, but only in order to reject them.

I can't be the only one here who still does a few things that appear to have no rational basis other than, "I don't know; that's how my parents did it."

...but only because it's more sanitary that way, not for any aesthetic reason or rigid adherence to tradition.

(But if you decided not to follow this, it probably wouldn't be the end of the world. Like, you might get a little dust in your glass, but that's a choice you can make for yourself).

I have observed people asking their toddlers lots of questions too. I think we have it backwards, where we give toddlers/pre-K too many choices, and then micro-manage their lives in the teenage years. My current parental hack is "benign neglect"!

Nooooooooooooooooo. WE ARE NOT A PARENTING CHAT.

they also have mandatory military service over there. You think that's a good idea to roll out here too?

If troll farms are so successful in swaying public opinion and impacting elections, can someone start a gun-control troll farm, please?

It is fascinating, how much better one side seems to be at this troll-factory concept. I have zero doubt that there could be left-wing troll factories up the wazoo, but they haven't been nearly as successful and/or visible. Why is that?

Stepmom: There is one thing you can do that is probably harder than it sounds... stay off their mother's twitter feed.

Stepmom, one of your kids ASKED you if you'd seen it! Why did they ask you about it?

...just exploring what another adult has to say about what their mom says? Maybe they're thinking, "is this why Dad left Mom?" We need more info. And I'd still rather leave it to Hax.

And yet, we all have Thoughts about it.

AND the fundamentalists rule the country, which means you can't get a bacon cheeseburger, or pepperoni on your pizza. Come on, people, priorities!

Bacon is gross. In 20 years of vegetarianism, bacon is the one meat I have never missed. Y'all are nuts.

My father, who was a staunch atheist, had the habit of leaving a dollar in the bible every time we stayed in a hotel. The standard answer was "I dunno... just something I do." (no, I don't do it myself).

The idea being that anyone who perused the Good Book would get an extra surprise? That makes me feel tender toward your father.

Sidenote: I stayed at three hotels last week, and unless they were really tucked away, I saw no evidence of Bibles.


Your colleague Hank S just wrote and article and chatted about the dearth of good scifi TV compared to (in my opinion) good scifi books. So, excluding fantasy (e.g., no magic, no dragons), what scifi books should be made into TV shows (let's say at least 8 episodes).

I dunno, I'm so depressed by how cruddy I think The Alienist has turned out to be (my favorite book as a teenager), I now want to protect all my other favorite books from being dragged into terrible tv developments. Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake could be good? Or terrible.

My sister who's been a vegetarian for more than 40 years says that bacon is the only thing she misses. So there.

She has become enamored with the memory. Can you convince her to try a bite and see if it's as good as she thinks it is? What if it turns out she hates it, and she's spent all of these years completely needlessly pining?

I'm sad to say, I need to end our relationship. It was good while it lasted, but this new info means I just can't continue.

It was always going to be something, wasn't it?

First we cover gun control, then stepparenting, and now you're insulting bacon? Are you just trolling us now? Is it possible that you're really a troll farm and not actually a reporter?


While I don't subscribe to that kind of extremist position, do think that bacon is wildly overrated. If I were vegetarian, here are the types of meats i would miss most: Fried chicken, BBQ, grilled steak, and cured/smoked meats.

(All of you who were complaining that this chat had gotten too Hax-ian, is this what you wanted? We are ranking meats.)

Because it's, well, fiction, about science, so presumably there has to be some scientific stuff that looks like magic.

I think the OP meant, it's one thing to say, "In the future, we all have brain implants that allow us to check our email by closing our eyes." It's another to say, "With this wand, I will make a golden computer appear out of thin air."

Steak, bacon, brisket, ribs, grilled chicken, pork shoulder/butt, sausage, fried chicken wings. A rough list, to be sure.

This idea is a bad one from the get-go. How can this possibly be implemented? Speaking as a retired teacher, I would NEVER want a gun in school. It would give the illusion of safety, but that is all. Unless the teacher were combat-action trained (because that is what it would be), it would put the students in MORE danger, not less. Imagine how you would feel if one of the students in your school were killed as collateral damage from YOUR weapon. It would be better to "harden" the schools with bullet proof glass, stronger building entrance points, more security cameras, etc. than to have weapons in a school. One woman's opinion.

What do we have to pack in order to survive, or fit in

What is "an offer to do route 66?" Like, you have some friends who said, "we are driving route 66 for our vacation; do you want to come along?"

Regardless, all you need are lots of snacks.

My mother and I go to Windsor on Thanksgiving week to gamble and avoid any dinners (making or attending). On our last stay my mom went to put something in the bedside table and stored in there was the Bible and some sex toys and baby oil. The maid seemed to find it pretty funny and we gave her an extra tip to remove it.

Remove the sex toys or remove the Bible?

I figured that's what the Washington Post headline writers were here for.


You need to stop in small towns all along the way, seeking out troubled residents whose problems you can get tied up in and yet solve within an hour every week.

Ooh. Route 66, the television series. I like it. Would watch.

We drove most of US 66 back in 1968 (oh, to be young again!). If you're camping, you'll need appropriate gear, including perhaps canteens (or recycled milk cartons) to store water. Back then we brought along plenty of film, but nowadays it's memory cards for digital photos and videos, right?

Now it's just an iPhone.

I knew there's a reason I come here every Thursday.

I'm glad you feel that way, because others among us might be questioning our life choices right now.

I've read several thoughtful (important word) pieces on why arming teachers is a bad idea, but the one that stuck with me this week was by a friend of mine who is a NYTimes bestselling mystery/thriller author. She's done the FBI shooting training (Hogan's Alley, Quantico) where you have to decide in a split second whether to shoot or not, and the bottom line is that we don't have the resources to train teachers adequately to do this job without killing the wrong person or persons. Another author friend (ex-SPecial Forces) talks about the training needed to be willing to kill someone (takes the military quite some time to teach people to do it). When you add it all together, banning semi-automatics seems a whole lot easier and more effective.

I completely agree with your advice. I'm a mom to older teens and the people who impress me the most are the ones who ask kids questions and just listen to their answers or ask follow up questions--without ever telling their own opinion. I ask, but end up sharing my opinion also, which may be fine in some cases, but this is not one of them.

Frankly, the kids probably already know the stepmom's opinions. They're not blind. They've got to notice that the stepmom doesn't herself post those kinds of videos.

Wasn't there a Simpsons episode where a bunch of snakes were released in Springfield, and so to fix that they ended up releasing a bunch of wolves to eat the snakes, then to fix that, they ended up releasing a bunch of bears to eat the wolves...? Metaphor for the gun lobby.

But where do beat meat and wolf meat fall in the rankings of bacon?

Couple of ideas on why they don't really exist (but they do in limited quantities)... Liberals tend to be more cynical and less trusting as compared to the conservatives (e.g. evangelicals) and those who are prone to believing fake news move so far left they meet up with the right.

(This is one of those questions that we raise here, but I'm 90 percent sure we could come up with actual researched answers within a few minutes of Googling)

True, and that's a reason not to inject your opinion. You know yours and they know yours, but only they know theirs. And you can ask how they feel about what mom wrote and maybe what they want to do about it. Maybe even ask if they believe what she tweets, etc.

They taste like chicken. (I'm assuming you meant "bear meat" and not something to do with those sex toys and baby oil.)

What I like about this chat is that every time I wonder where there will be a good place to end, inevitably, something happens and I think, well, there you go. The chat must end right there.

So let's end it. But meet back here same time and place. GSTQ

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Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

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