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Don’t boo! Register to vote, confirm that you’re registered, show up, and vote!

“Your excuse sucks: 1. My vote doesn't matter, 2. I don't have time to vote, 3. Voting is too complicated, 4. Not voting is my way of voting against the system.”

“Your excuse sucks… ” (click to embiggen)

Many years ago, before my state switched to all mail-in voting, I was walking from the bus to my office on a Tuesday morning that happened to y Election Day. And I had walked over to the polling place (two blocks from my place at the time) and voted before I caught my bus to work. My office at the time was in a building that was literally across the street (in different direction) from the offices housing two of the local television stations. And I saw on the sidewalk ahead of me a cameraman and a young woman holding a microphone.

When I got to here, she stepped up and said, “Excuse me, sir, may we ask you a few questions?”

The camera was now pointed at me. I said, “Sure.”

“Did you know there was a primary election today?”

“Yes, of c–” I answered.

She interrupted me. “And did you vote this morning?”

I grinned. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.”

“I’m sure you know that many people don’t vote in the primary, sir. Why did you vote? Was there a particular issue on the ballot that drove you to vote today?”

I know that I blinked dumbly at her for a moment before I said. “Um, I always vote. I have never missed a primary, general election, or special election since I was old enough to register. Voting every time is what you’re supposed to do…”

But before I had finished that answer, she had dropped the microphone, turned to the cameraman and made a slashing motion across her throat. “Thank you, sir” she said perfunctorily, and turned her attention to someone else walking down the sidewalk.

Apparently that wasn’t he answer she was looking for.

I was reminded of this story because a lot of people I know are re-tweeting and re-blogging a comment from a blogger who I have frequently quoted before about how important it is to show up and vote. Except he doesn’t quite say it that way. In an earlier draft of this post I quoted him and then picked apart his arguments, but that isn’t really useful.

While it’s true that some demographics show up less consistently to vote, that isn’t the only problem. There are a lot of people pointing fingers at the voters for not showing up, but doing so ignores at least two other major issues:

  • Voters who do show up, but cast their votes for third-party candidates who can’t wint
  • Voters who look at the choices and are appalled that they get to choose between an ultra-conservative and a moderate conservative, so they don’t show up.

Both of these are different aspects of a big blind spot that most people suffer from and that the major media outlets completely ignore: The center is not where anyone pretends it is. The Democratic party is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a liberal party. The two major parties in this country are not sitting at opposite ends of a spectrum. The Republicans, yes, are super, neanderthal-ishly conservative, but the Democrats, are also conservative. Going by voting records, 90-some percent of the elected democrats in congress are more conservative than the majority of the U.S. population on topics of: gun control, health care for all, gay rights, women’s rights, tax policy, Social Security funding, and allowing businesses to discriminate against people for religious reasons.

And the establishment Democratic operation keeps endorsing candidates in that right-of-center realm. Which makes a lot of the natural Democratic base roll their eyes and either not show up, or come to the polls and throw away their votes by voting for third-party candidates.

There have been a number of primaries in various states in the last month or so where unprecedented numbers of Democratic voters are showing up. Some precincts ran out of ballots, so many more people than ever have before showed up! And in a number of these races the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending money endorsing a candidate who they think will appeal to the Trump voters. And in a lot of those races, all those extra democratic voters showing up are voting for candidates that actually espouse a few liberal policies. And they’re winning.

I don’t buy the line from the DCCC that those extra voters are picking losers. I think it’s the DCCC that keeps picking losers. Of the excuses I hear from people who either don’t vote and throw their votes away other ways is that they don’t feel they have a real choice. Even in races where the Republicans are fielding a foaming-at-the-mouth racist, and the Democrats are putting up someone who looks middle of the road. And that’s because the middle-of-the-road guy keeps making conciliatory remarks about the blatant racism, et al, of his opponent. And while there actually is a difference between the two, to a lot of folks looking on, it just doesn’t seem that way.

And we’ve been bitten before. The Democrats had solid majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of Obama’s presidency, and they didn’t enact any liberal policies. They spent two years begging and pleading with a few slightly less rightwing than Attila the Hun Republicans to get them to support a half-assed watered-down version of a couple of their promised initiatives. Even with more than 70% of the voters approving it, they didn’t even try to repeal Don’t-Ask- Don’t-Tell (allowing queer people to serve openly in the military) until the lame duck session after they lost their majority in the first midterm.

Yes, I agree with the blogger I alluded to above that it is on us to show up and vote. It’s on us to encourage others to show up and vote. But one of the ways we can encourage them to do that, is to give them candidates they actually believe in.

I’m looking at races this week where the milquetoast right-of-center candidate backed by the establishment Dems lost to a left-of-center candidate who enunciated some progressive ideas. I’m noticing that those are the races where people are turning out. I’m noticing that turn out is typical or less than typical in races where the only choices progressive voters are getting is several right-of-center safe bets.

That’s why, after a rather long discussion with a poor schmuck working the phone bank for the DCCC trying to convince me to increase my monthly donation to the DCCC because taking back the House is important, that I stopped my monthly donation to the DCCC, and increased the amount I’m giving every month to Run For Something and Let America Vote. And I’m going to keep picking actual progressive candidates to donate to directly.

And don’t bark at me about showing up. I’ve been showing up at Primary and General Election since 1978. Every one. I confess that I have missed about three Special Elections that happened way off-cycle in that time.

Now, we just need to get the rest of the liberals to do the same.

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Bigot Bulletin: Principal and Police Officer who harassed students at Oregon high school are both fired

“Good news: An oregon high school police officer and principal have been fired for anti-LGBT discrimination, including telling gay students they were going to hell, and forcing them to read the Bible as punishment for being gay.”

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I decided that this can’t wait until Friday. This is an update to a news story I shared as part of a previous Weekend Update: Oregon School Officials Who Discriminated Against Gay Kids Fired.

For some background: Gay teen says she went to school resource officer after getting bullied — and he told her she’s going to hell. The “resource officer” is a local police officer assigned to the school supposedly for the purpose of protecting the students. But he wasn’t the only problem. The principal of the school punished gay kids who reported incidents of being harassed (including at least one incident where the principal’s son nearly ran two of the other kids down with his car while yelling anti-gay slurs). Teachers who tried to help the kids in varying ways were retaliated against by the Principal and the district Superintendent, and so on.

So the Oregon Department of Education sent in an investigator. The local officials admitted to several issues, including that they had forced the gay kids to read and recite passages from the Bible as part of their punishment. The ODE investigator issued a report finding that the actions of the officials probably constituted illegal discrimination under Oregon law as well as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of separation of church and state. A final finding was pending, but the state ordered to school district to come to a settlement with the kids and their parents by the end of April. They didn’t.

During that time, many more former and current students came forward, with more incidents of anti-LGBT and racial discrimination. Meanwhile, the ACLU was pursuing a lawsuit against the district.

Monday things came to a head: ACLU OF OREGON REACHES SWEEPING SETTLEMENT WITH NORTH BEND SCHOOL DISTRICT OVER LGBTQ DISCRIMINATION AND BIBLE READING.

How sweeping?

  • Principal fired
  • District dismisses Resource Officer and requests local police assign a new officer
  • District will create a diversity committee (keep in mind that teachers already tried to set up a Gay-Straight Alliance and were stopped by the principal) which will hold celebrations for Coming Out Day and Ally Week and will issue an annual report on how the school is doing on issues of diversity, inclusion, et cetera
  • District will hire an anti-discrimination expert to help them craft policies to appropriately respond to harassment and discrimination
  • District will donate $1000 to a local queer support group

Additionally, as a result of the state investigation, the district will be under supervision of the state ODE for at least five years while all of this is monitored. The remaining bit of less than awesome news from my point of view on this is that even though the state’s investigation and the discovery process of the lawsuit found that the district Superintendent knew about all of this and committed some of the retaliation from teachers who tried to help the queer kids, he isn’t being fired. Maybe everyone assumes with the state breathing down his neck he’ll behave?

I get such a bee in my bonnet on these stories because of my own experiences being bullied as a kid. More than one teacher and administrator told my parents that until I acted like “the other boys” or “normal” there was nothing they could do to prevent the bullying incidents. Never mind that some of the worst bullying came from teachers. In middle school I was called “faggot” and “sissy” by four specific teachers far more often than most of the other kids. And then there was the time I was the one threatened with expulsion for being bullied again and again, unless I attending regular counseling sessions where, apparently, the counselor was trying to teach me to act like a normal boy.

A lot of people think that those kinds of days are behind us, but these incidents happening for the last several years at this school are merely one of many such cases. Fortunately, the ACLU keeps coming in to represent the students, and again and again the districts wind up paying big penalties for their discrimination, bigotry, and bullying. As Dan Savage has asked (many times) when will public school administrators get it through their thick heads?

And I agree with Dan on another thing. This story is a good reminder to go make a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon!

Weekend Update 5/12/2018: At least some good news

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Yep, it’s a weekend.

Even though I love the show and have watched it faithfully for five years, I wasn’t very surprised when Brooklyn 99 was canceled by Fox. One of the things the show excelled at (besides doing diversity right) was tackling important issues in a thoughtful way that was still funny hell. And let’s face it, diversity, thoughtfulness, and nuance are not exactly in Fox’s wheelhouse. Which isn’t to say the Fox’s entertainment network doesn’t carry diverse show. What I mean is that the people who make the business decisions are less likely to feel sympathy for such shows. No matter how much executives (at any network) may insist that it’s just about numbers and the bottom line, you can point to many examples of shows with worse numbers being kept around. Bias and sympathy do figure into how they see the numbers.

Goodbye, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine.’ And thank you. It is a great show it is funny, and I agree with Mark Hamill who said on twitter that it was one of the great workplace comedies of all time, up there with shows such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi.

Fortunately, the twitter storm and fan petitions and praise from famous actors and comedians seems to have paid off: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ saved by NBC and Brooklyn Nine-Nine Cast Praises Fans After NBC Saves Canceled Fox Show: ‘You Did This!’.

It is worth noting that among the NBC executive comments quoted in the various articles about the show is a reference to the fact the Brooklyn 99 was a show created and produced by a division of NBC-Universal, and sold to Fox originally. Not being a show that Fox made internally means that profits from syndication deals for reruns are not as high as they would be for a show of similar popularity that had been wholly owned by Fox. This also probably figured into NBC’s decision to give the show a 13 episode sixth season. They get a lot of good PR out of the move, will presumably get acceptable ratings for those 13 episodes, and will get just a little bit more out of syndication having these additional episodes int he can.

I fully expect this to be the final season of the show. I suspect the writers and show runners will think of it that way: write a good send-off that leaves a possibility for continuing, but don’t count on it.

Related: I think it was not good that a number of fans who were screaming, before the NBC announcement, about their fave show being removed were doing so by denigrating other shows. First of all, come on, don’t attack things other people like merely because you don’t. It doesn’t matter how much you may dislike another series (whether it be movies, TV shows, books, whatever), that doesn’t mean that there are not people who genuinely like it. It’s okay to critique, especially if a show is overtly racist (I’m looking at you, Roseanne reboot) or gratuitously misogynist (and now looking at you, Supernatural), but dismissal is not the same as critique.

There other thing, it isn’t really relevant. The shows most people were mentioning were not Fox shows. At least if you’re going to make an observation about, “How dare they cancel my fave while keeping X on the air” choose something that involves the same they. Pick something that Fox is keeping on the air to make your comparison to, like the very derivative 9-1-1, for instance.

Anyway, at least those of us who love the show will get some more Brooklyn 99. I can just quietly sob in the corner over hear that we can’t say the same for another of my favorites: Fox Cancels Fan Favorite Lucifer After Three Seasons.


Now let’s have a couple things that are more typical for a weekend update: Anti-Gay Former Michigan Assistant AG Loses Appeal To Keep His Law License. I’ve written before about this self-loathing closet case who target, stalked, harassed, and encouraged others to harass and send death threats to a young gay man who had been elected student body president of the same university the assistant attorney general had graduated from years earlier. Note that the guy used state equipment to do the stalking and to post the online harassment, as well as doing a lot of it when he was supposed to be working. In one incident, when neighbors had called in the suspicious car that had been circling the block where the student lived, the guy lied to police saying that he was staking out someone for a legitimate investigation.

Originally the Michigan Attorney General claimed to have investigated the instances and said the guy was merely expressing opinions. Then, after the parents of the harassed gay student were interviewed on TV about the incident, a prosecutor announced he would run against the AG to clean up the department (and polls showed he might win), then suddenly the AG asked an semi-retired judge to perform an outside investigation. While that judge couldn’t reveal the specifics of the original internal investigation, his own report indicated that all the evidence necessary to justify firing the assistant AG had been contained in the first investigation. Anyway, the anti-gay assistant AG was fired, then disbarred, and now he’s lost his last appeal of the disbarment.

Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

Now, let’s hope that something similar happens to some school officials: Oregon school allegedly forced LGBTQ student to read Bible as punishment. Before anyone points out that there is a hearing coming up, please note that in the initial official report, the administrator who is disputing that these incidents constitute discrimination has admitted that the student was forced to read the Bible as punishment. So there isn’t really an “allegedly” there. The administrator and supervisor are only disputing that this and other incidents don’t count as discrimination. They aren’t denying that the things happened.

This is a public school, therefore a government-run institution, and the Constitution conservatives claim to love prohibits the establishment of religion, which means while acting in your official capacity you can’t use your religion to justify actions, and you sure as hell can’t force people to read your holy book to try to convince them to agree with you. Which, when you make a queer kid read the parts of the Bible you think condemn homosexuality as “punishment” of the crime of complaining about being called a faggot on school grounds, is clearly what the school official was doing.

The Oregon Department of Education has already made the finding that these incidents probably (duh) violate the state’s anti-discrimination law and the Constitution. I sure hope the ACLU is involved and these administrators get sued into oblivion.

Weekend Update 4/28/2018: A lot going on here…

© Tom Toles. Clcik to embiggen.

Ryan’s Dismissal Of House Chaplain Sparks Outrage And Suspicion. One of the chaplain’s prayer’s included the line: “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Yeah, the Republicans can’t stand that kind of radical religion!

Asking you to stop punching us in the face and stabbing us in the back isn’t being disrespectful… (click to embiggen)

NPR: Conservatives Are Sad Because No One Likes Them.

I’m just going to turn this one over to Dan Savage:

The “average American conservative” spends the day attacking women, people of color, gays and lesbians, illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, trans people, non-Christians, leftwing Christians, Democrats, progressives, liberals, sex havers, sex workers, people who’ve had abortions, people who use birth control, single moms, football players, basketball players, late night talk show hosts, teachers, actors, singers, Olympians, “Hollywood,” high school students who survived mass school shootings, the poor, the disabled, Gold Star parents, Gold Star widows, environmentalists, news reporters, cable news anchors who don’t work for Rupert Murdoch, rappers, college professors, college students, union members, scientists, non-scientists who believe in science, the elderly, “takers” on Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare, people who live in big cities and blue states… and then they run to NPR to whine about how nobody likes them. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

I don’t know how many times we have to say this: there aren’t “both sides” to this thing. One side is constantly attacking the other, and then insist that even if all we do is protest being constantly dehumanized and worse, that we’re the aggressors.

And it’s no longer just queer people they’re going after. Again, I’ll let Dan explain it:

I’m old enough to remember when most of the attacks were directed at queers. Or that’s how it felt in the 1980s, anyway, when I was a young queer. The AIDS Crisis, Robert Mapplethorpe, Anita Bryant, Jesse Helms, and Ronald Reagan. It felt like—what’s the expression? Oh, right: like we were being bombarded daily with murderous disrespect. That I can sit down and make list of the people being attacked daily by conservatives now and that list includes football players, to say nothing of late-night talk show hosts, teachers, and the FBI… it blows my fucking mind. They don’t like ANYBODY and they can’t figure out why no one likes them?

“Can you name all 59 women who came forward against Cosby? Can you name half of them? Can you name 5? Would you recognize them out of context? Do you want an autograph? Cool. So can we agree that women don't make rape accustions to become famous?”

(Click to embiggen)

Bill Cosby convicted on three counts of sexual assault.

Five universities revoke Bill Cosby’s honorary degrees after sexual assault conviction.

I used listened to some Cosby comedy albums my parents owned so much, that I could recite entire routines from memory, with appropriate pauses and verbal sound effects. After reading some of the stories of the 59 women who came forward… well, I can’t bring myself to listen to his voice.

Always shifting the blame… (click to embiggen)

The “Incel Rebellion” Is Misogynist Terrorism. So Why Do So Many People Still Put the Blame on Women?

The Toronto Van Attack Suspect Was Obsessed With Rejection From Women. He Is Not Alone Among Violent Men.

Why are ‘incels’ so angry? The history of the little-known ideology behind the Toronto attack.

Unfortunately society brews a toxic stew of slut-shaming women, telling young men that the only way to be a man is to never feel empathy or treat others with respect, and then we wonder why things like this happen. That’s not all that’s in play, here. It takes an incredibly big mass of hubris to keep insisting that nothing that is wrong in your life could possibly be your fault. Think about the cognitive dissonance that has to be going on: on the one hand most of these guys have embraced the notion that they are not as attractive as other men and so forth, but they also believe that they can do nothing wrong. It ought to make their heads explode.

Now, me bringing up the toxic double-standards of society is not to say, in any way, they these guys are victims. There comes a point where a person should learn to question their assumptions, to question and examine the things they’ve been taught, look around at the world and all the evidence in it, and ask themselves if maybe some of those things are f—ed up. It’s called growing up.

These guys have no one but themselves to blame.

That’s enough about that. I have errands to do and an Avengers movie to see. Time to go be productive!

One person can only do so much... or cross out the only, and One person can do so much.

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Oppressed Oppressors: Hateful, Angry Men

"Stop making excuses for hateful, angry men"

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I’m a news junkie who bookmarks stories all the time, which is why for years I posted a weekly round up of those bookmarks in a Friday Links post. I’ve scaled that back to the Friday Five, in part because by limiting the number of stories I post I don’t have to share quite so many outrage-generating stories. But sometimes it’s useful to share some of the less than happy news. If you don’t know about the people who are trying to take your rights or livelihood away, you can’t do anything about it, for instance. So this post is going to be about a couple of different seemingly unrelated stories of angry, hateful men in the news lately, along with some commentary. If you don’t want to read about that sort of thing, don’t click through. Otherwise… Read More…

Weekend Update 4/22/2018: Attacking child survivors of school shootings

NYSFOP withdraws endorsement of GOP Senate candidate Julie Killian  Hicksville, NY (April 18, 2018) The New York State Fraternal Order of Police is formally withdrawing our endorsement of the State Senate 37th District Candidate Julie Killian. This decision has been made after Killian’s Fund-Raising host took to twitter attacking Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg.  The New York State Fraternal Order of Police will never support a candidate or campaign that condones the attack on child survivors of a school shooting.

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Once again, stories that I either didn’t see in time to consider for the Friday Five have turned up and I feel a need to comment. This is what we’ve come to. Republicans have been attacking the high school students who survived the Parkland shooting, because those students have been rallying for gun control: Conservatives Still Can’t Stop Attacking Parkland Shooting Survivor David Hogg. Well, at least a couple of these despicable Republicans are facing some consequences. The nation’s largest law enforcement union mad a dramatic announcement this week:

NYSFOP withdraws endorsement of GOP Senate candidate Julie Killian

Hicksville, NY (April 18, 2018) The New York State Fraternal Order of Police is formally withdrawing our endorsement of the State Senate 37th District Candidate Julie Killian. This decision has been made after Killian’s Fund-Raising host took to twitter attacking Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg.

The New York State Fraternal Order of Police will never support a candidate or campaign that condones the attack on child survivors of a school shooting.

Unfortunately, later that day they re-endorsed her after she denounced the fund-raiser and returned the donations. I say unfortunately because it isn’t just the fund-raising host who made the comments. As the story I linked above points out, she has attacked David Hogg herself many times. So apparently they will endorse someone who attacks child survivors of school shootings after all.

It’s not just state senate candidates: Sandy Hook Parents Sue Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Over Claim Shooting Was ‘Fake’. Personally, I hope they win big and put him out of business for good. Of course now that he’s facing possible consequences, after ten years of badmouthing these parents (and in my opinion, essentially desecrating the memories of murdered children), he’s suddenly saying, Alex Jones, Backtracking, Now Says Sandy Hook Shooting Did Happen.

I just keep shaking my head that these people are prioritizing gun manufacturer’s profits over the lives of children: Florida Leaders Keep Embarrassing Themselves by Attacking Parkland Survivors

Editorial Cartoon by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

False Flag: February 22, 2018

Words, Pictures, and Thoughts

Once again, I’ve gathered a lot more images as possible illustrations of blog posts than I have managed to use. Here’s a few that need to be shared:

“When you boss's income has risen 937% since 1978 and yours has increased by only 5.7%, it's time to stop blaming minorities for your woes.” —David Yankovich

“When your boss’s income has risen 937% since 1978 and yours has increased by only 5.7%, it’s time to stop blaming minorities for your woes.” —David Yankovich

“Quick note: your brutal honesty? Ain't nobody asking for that. “Where is you clever honesty? Your compassionate honesty? Your insightful honesty? Uplifting? Poetic? Empowering? “Take your brutal honesty and go sit in the back with all the devil's advocates.” —Quinn Murphy

“Quick note: your brutal honesty? Ain’t nobody asking for that.
“Where is you clever honesty? Your compassionate honesty? Your insightful honesty? Uplifting? Poetic? Empowering?
“Take your brutal honesty and go sit in the back with all the devil’s advocates.”
—Quinn Murphy

As one friend likes to point out, everyone who claims to be brutally honesty seems much more interested in the brutality than the honesty.

“Trump Evangelicals: 'The President's sex life is between him and God. It's not our business.' “Thenwhis is the sex, marriage, or poopy-time of LGBTQ folks your business? Why are you so fanatically engrossed in the whereabouts and goings on of other people's pants parts?” —Silence Dugud

“Trump Evangelicals: ‘The President’s sex life is between him and God. It’s not our business.’
“Then why is the sex, marriage, or poopy-time of LGBTQ folks your business? Why are you so fanatically engrossed in the whereabouts and goings on of other people’s pants parts?” —Silence Dugud

I become more and more convinced that no one who claims to be advocating for morality understands what morals actually are.

“Trump in West Virginia: 'In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to so 'oh, that's a conspiracy theory.' Not a conspiracy theory folks. Millions and millions of people.' This is an insidiuous lie. Tens of millions of people now incorrectly believe voter fraud is a widespread problem. It's not. George W. Bush's Department of Justice studied it and found it occurs on 0.00000013% of ballots. Another recent study found 31 cases across a billion ballots from 2000 to 2014.”

“Trump in West Virginia: ‘In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to so ‘oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory folks. Millions and millions of people.’
This is an insidiuous lie. Tens of millions of people now incorrectly believe voter fraud is a widespread problem. It’s not. George W. Bush’s Department of Justice studied it and found it occurs on 0.00000013% of ballots. Another recent study found 31 cases across a billion ballots from 2000 to 2014.” —Brian Klaas

“My favorite part of this is they felt the need to specify which on is the President.” A news still of Trump on the balcony of the White House with a person in an Easter Bunny costume while the President was shooting off his mouth with more nonsense. “My favorite part of this is they felt the need to specify which on is the President.”

“My favorite part of this is they felt the need to specify which one is the President.”

I saw another person sharing the video to the President’s weird Easter comments and they noted, “My new hero is the cameraman who kept the bunny in the shot the entire time.”

No one likes a bully

No one likes a bully, they say. But the perception of who is bullying who can go to rather ludicrous points. When Laura Ingraham, long time radio talk show host, past editor, TV talk show host, et cetera, tried to portray one of the Parkland shooting survivors as whining when he mentioned that he’s been rejected by four of the colleges he applied to, she apparently didn’t expect that comment to go viral in a negative way. She certainly didn’t expect advertisers to start pulling out of sponsoring her show. She then issues a pretty ridiculous (half-assed) apology. And then headlines started coming out some places that made the high school students she ridiculed seem like the bullies.

Let’s get something clear. I hope Laura’s advertisers keep pulling out. I’m glad that some people have finally noticed that she’s a bully. But she has been a bully for years: Cyber Bullying is a bit new. But Laura Ingraham was a real bully long before the internet. From February, before this incident: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon on Fox News Host Laura Ingraham: “She Comes off Like a Bigot”. Or two years ago: How Laura Ingraham has attacked Latinos, civil rights groups, and more. Or this gem from 2014: Laura Ingraham Mocks Sick Immigrant Children With Terrible Taco Bell Joke. And this is a good sum up of some of her antics in the 1990s and early aughts: Laura Ingraham: Right-Wing Radio’s High Priestess of Hate.

That’s enough about that hateful person.

In related news: Black Students at Stoneman Douglas High Want Gun-Violence Solutions to Address Police Violence. While at events they had control over, the survivors of the Stonema Douglas shooting had tried to include all of their peers and present a diverse front, the media has tended to focus on a few of the white kids (and one light-skinned Latina). And lots of people have pointed out that these kids aren’t asking for anything more than the Black Lives Matters folks have been asking for all along.

So it is more than fair to ask why the killing of someone like 12-year-old Tamir Rice didn’t get the some attention as the Stoneman Douglas kids are. Part of me would like to hope that we’ve just reached a tipping point. But (particularly seeing both the racist and homophobic attacks made on Emma Gonzales) I suspect that there is more than a bit of racism in play here.

I have to agree with these kids: Black Parkland students worry: What happens to us when schools are over-policed? Putting more police officers into schools won’t help stop mass shootings, and has historically resulted in cops abusing and arresting kids for things that should never have involved a cop, and not surprisingly disproportionately targeting kids of color. The answer isn’t more cops or more guns in school, and anyway paying attention would already know this: CHILDREN OF COLOR ALREADY FACE VIOLENT DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOLS. ARMING TEACHERS WILL GET THEM KILLED, Why having police in schools is a problem, in 3 charts, and Black Students More Likely to Be Arrested at School.

Things that actually would help:

  1. Raise the minimum age to buy guns to 21
  2. Universal background checks to buy guns (a measure supported by 97% of the general population and by 96% of gun owners!)
  3. Licensing gun owners the way we license drivers, including requiring more rigorous testing and evaluation for different classes of guns (just as commercial driving licenses have more stringent requirements), and including periodic re-certification
  4. Requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance, again just like we do for car owners
  5. Voluntary gun buy back programs

That won’t prevent every shooting, obviously; just like changing drunk driving laws didn’t eliminate all drunk driving. But we’ve been able to bring down the rate of car crashes that result in death or injury in which alcohol played a factor by 35% by enacting some common sense drinking-and-driving laws. If we reduced shootings by even a fraction of that, that will still be thousands of people saved every year.

Veterans for Gun Reform

I’ve been doing housework today. I have a bunch of errands to run while my husband is off doing convention committee stuff. So I wasn’t going to post a Weekend Update. But then I saw this, so I have to share it:

Veterans For Gun Reform PSA – March For Our Lives:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

It still isn’t unfathomable!

“Stop quoting people saying the bomber was a nice guy... he was an angry, hateful person— the bombs themselves are proof enough!”

Click to embiggen

It was bad enough that mainstream U.S. media didn’t start covering the story of the exploding FedEx packages being delivered in Austin, Texas until a white person was injured. Black man killed? No big deal. Black teen-ager killed (and another black woman injured by the bomb that killed the kid)? Again, no big deal. Even after the third bomb went off, injuring a hispanic woman, what did the FBI do? They issued a request for the bomber to call them.

The asked the bomber to please call them.

Two people killed by bombs in unexpected packages in less than two weeks, with local police saying they didn’t believe the attacks were random, and the FBI just says, “Well, maybe if we ask nicely the guy will turn himself in.” The Unabomber only killed three people with his bombs (over the course of 17 years), but he warranted the “largest manhunt in FBI history”?

I realize that it they might have been doing more than that behind the scenes, but given how several federal officials said they saw no link to terrorism and otherwise made very dismissive comments, I suspect not.

And now the bomber blew himself up after a short police chase (we don’t know if he killed himself on purpose or if his next explosive went off accidentally). And authorities are making more, “There’s no more threat” in the same breath that they admit they haven’t figured out if he had accomplices, nor how he picked his victims.

And headlines and subheads are mentioning how neighbors described the bomber as a nice guy.

First of all, several of those stories also quote friends reporting that he was “rough around the edges” and that he “would be intimidating and dominate every conversation.”

Apparently headline writing editors and such don’t understand some simple facts:

  • Nice guys don’t intentionally kill people with bombs
  • Nice guys don’t put on disguises to go into FedEx centers and mail bombs that are intended to kill the unsuspecting recepients
  • Nice guys don’t intimidate their way into dominating every conversation
  • Nice guys don’t post angry bigoted screeds about gay people being evil abominations
  • Nice guys don’t post angry screeds about women who get abortions or who take birth control
  • Nice guys don’t post angry screeds that some women deserve to be raped and argue that guys who commit rape shouldn’t be labeled sex offenders for the rest of their lives

And journalists, don’t say that you’re trying to be fair, or give both sides. He was a cowardly, hateful killer. There aren’t two legitimate sides to these incidents. There are victims, and there is the killer who was obviously a bad guy.

Also, stop with the “why did he do it” laments. He was angry. He was hateful. The bombs alone prove that. When you dig into the bigoted rants he posted online, the friends who describe his bullying behavior, and so forth—all of that corroborates the initial characterization as an angry, hateful, bad guy.

In one of the stories I read, the friend who described him as intimidating and dominating every conversation during High School, opined that since then he must have “succumbed to some sort of hate.” No, buddy, that intimidation and other behaviors you describe were clear signs of anger already there.

I understand why people often wind up describing the mass shooters and other killers of this type as a nice guy. Some don’t want to speak ill of the dead. Some don’t want to hurt the feelings of the family of the killer. Some are trying to absolve themselves of not having seen him for the danger he was. We don’t want to believe someone we know is a monster. Particularly when they are someone we are obligated to spend time with (we’re students at the same school, we are co-workers, we are related to them, we are friends with someone related to him, et cetera) we will make excuses and tell ourselves he’s just “rough around the edges” but under that we’re sure he’s capable of being a nice guy.

Now, I’m not saying that every angry high school boy is going to grow up to be a multiple murderer. Some of us discover the source of all the anger and learn to be better people.

That’s right, I said us.

I don’t claim to know all the sources of this guy’s anger, but part of me was cringing when reading that description of him dominating conversations by intimidating the other people in it—because I did that a lot. And it’s a form of interaction I can easily fall into to this day. I was lucky enough to first get out of the toxic environment caused by my abusive father when my parents divorce while I was a teen, but I didn’t understand for a long time that I was still carrying all the toxicity around. I was in my early twenties when a good friend was brave enough to call me out as being a verbal bully. Making me see for the first time just how much of the abuse I had internalized. It was a couple years after that before I was ready to admit that another source of my anger (and self-loathing) was being a closeted queer man. And it was during my coming out process that I was able to identify just how toxic the evangelical churches I was raised in were. It wasn’t just my abusive dad who filled me with all that poison.

Which gets me to one of the articles that pissed me off most: the New York Times describes the killer’s family as a tight-knit, godly one. That description, plus knowing he was homeschooled—plus those anti-gay, anti-abortion (complete with the usual slut-shaming plus ignorance of biology), pro-rape posts tells me what kind of religious background he came from, and therefore at least one source of that hate.

We don’t have to ask why. We already know, it’s just mainstream America doesn’t want to admit how much hate and anger is being cultivated in this country. It isn’t about the foreign so-called extremist groups recruiting. Because we aren’t willing to recognize the extent to which fundamentalist Christian churches are engaged in manufacturing these angry young men.


Edit to add: I found more information about some of his angry rants on line, so I updated the bullet list above.