Category: politics

Urban Raccoon Legend (Not Really)

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Not entirely sure what to say about this one. Cartoonist Kelly O’Grady weaves a surreal tale of dumpster-diving men with raccoon life companions, gentrification, and the joys of biscuits n’ gravy (although that’s mostly skipped over.)

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A Tale Eternally Retold

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I railed against the boycott of Chick-Fil-A and Ender’s Game so I guess going into a lot of detail about the recent kerfuffle will seem a little redundant.

I’ll do it anyway. People are rarely smart enough to learn a lesson the first time it’s taught, and just as the same ridiculous scenario plays itself out repeatedly I will have to contribute my part to the cycle to hopefully enlighten those engaged.

In summary: Brendan Eich, creator of JavaScript & co-founder of Mozilla who was recently promoted to CEO, had to almost immediately resign from the company amidst protest from customers over a donation he made to Proposition 8 back in 2008, which was the extent of any anti-gay sentiments he’s ever exhibited (in all the material I’ve read on the subject, I haven’t even seen an anecdote about him being anti-gay.)

There are plenty of things wrong with this story:

  1. The inherent hypocrisy of sites based on JavaScript, which I remind you was created by Eich, while boycotting the Firefox browser because he was the CEO of Mozilla.  Why wasn’t JavaScript also horribly tainted by him?  Oh, because boycotting JavaScript would have been too difficult, and political action is all about convenience.
  2. At least similar boycotts (the previously mentioned Chick-Fil-A and Orson Scott Card ones) were based on the currently stated beliefs of those targeted. As I mentioned earlier, aside from the donation to Proposition 8, six years ago, Eich hadn’t done anything else to indicate he was anti-gay. So is this a zero-tolerance matter?  Also, is there a stature of limitations?  Should we question people if they ever used “faggot” in a derogatory sense to assess whether they’re fit to be a part of society (or earn a living)?  That might exclude a big part of the population, if my experience growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was any indication. Hell, should the movie Monster Squad be purged from all media?
  3. One unanswered question is whether he’s donated to other organizations.  Would that have mattered?  The fact that several other Mozilla employees donated significantly more to support gay marriage didn’t spare the company from the wrath of boycott.  Can one ever repent to the satisfaction of the gay rights community or is there no hope for you once you’ve transgressed them?
  4. I wonder if anybody who supported the boycott has heard of McCarthyism and the related practice of blacklisting.
  5. A particularly ignorant comment related to all this was: “My internet browser should not have a political agenda.” This person probably meant “My internet browser should not have a political agenda other than my own.”  Because Google has certainly made their agenda clear, which would exclude their Chrome browser and especially their search engineMicrosoft’s Internet Explorer is also excluded.  Besides which, at what point can one draw the distinction between the CEO of a company and the political agenda of it, let alone all of its products?  I suppose the taint can go all the way down, as Chick-Fil-A’s product was turned into the poultry of pure hate by its CEO’s views.

I think Big Gay Al said it best in the episode of South Park titled “Cripple Fight“:

It’s up to us to persuade, and help them see the light, not extort them to.

RACCOON (OWNERS) IN THE NEWS: Brown for Governor

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Political Graffiti in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico
Source: Poole

I recently told you all about a redneck known for dancing with his raccoon, which was taken away from him by a cold, unfeeling world. Well, Mark Brown, the human in the pair, has decided to fight back by aiming all the way for the top; he’s running for governor of Tennessee. It seems like kind of a single-issue candidate, seeing as the only political matter he has a voice on is making it a little less stringent to have a wild animal as a pet in that state.  Still, you can’t argue with his campaign slogan: “This is all about the raccoon.”

Sadly, while that would be compelling to me, it doesn’t seem like the makings of a winning campaign. Good luck in the primaries, though!

Source: The Tennessean

No One Ever Sees Themself as the Villain

The Ender’s Game movie releases to theaters in a few months and with it begins a new round of an old controversy.  Those who play video games might remember when Shadow Complex was boycotted because Orson Scott Card, noted anti-homosexual, wrote the storyline for it. Less publicized was people boycotting the comic book tie in for Dragon Age, which was also written by Card. A surprising number of people on my Facebook friends list–who I would have thought were more knowledgeable about science fiction and media–are just now discovering that Orson Scott Card holds some unpopular political beliefs.  Raging about this revelation, they jump on the boycott bandwagon (much as they did last year with Chick-Fil-A.)

The beauty of all this righteous indignation is the complete absence of self awareness.  That’s one of the benefits of mob mentality, by giving away your individuality to be a fashionable member of the cause you needn’t worry about thinking about your actions.  In this case, as they rally to quash all opposition before them (and sometimes succeed) none of them have to take the time to appreciate the cold, hard truth: that the bullied have successfully become the bullies.

I don’t mean literally; not everyone who supports gay rights has directly (or indirectly) suffered from homophobia. But as a group, and for what they represent, they were historically bullied.  But now they find they have the societal upper hand and, so empowered, they will coerce everyone into agreeing with them.  Because they feel that if you don’t agree with their cause then you don’t deserve to earn a living.

But the “you” part is where everything gets confused.  There’s a lot of people involved in making a movie.  Are all of them hateful homophobes who deserve to see their hard work crash and burn?  That’s unlikely.  As with last year’s Chick-Fil-A fiasco, the caring people don’t care about collateral damage when there’s a boogeyman bent on using all his money to spew nothing but hate speech.  You know, like Ender’s Game is.  Except it isn’t.  Not at all.  In fact, people generally find it … kind of gay.

Which brings this all back to an issue I’ve broached before: the (perceived) need to consume an artist’s personality in addition to their output. All of the “Orson Scott Card Hates Gays” stuff comes from essays, articles, forum exchanges, and things that are outside of his fictional work.  In fact, my facebook friends being so shocked to learn that he hates gays shows how little his personal views cross over to his work.  I wouldn’t be arguing with the boycott supporters if Ender’s Game was about an evil race of mincing extraterrestrials called the Homosexumonsters that sought to rape all of humanity to death.  At that point, sure, it would be something with a clear message to fight against and nobody could question their motivation for doing so.  As it is now, they just don’t like him for being him, and want to tear apart anything he touches because they can’t (or won’t) draw a line between an artist and his work.

So have at your boycott, you noble people who won’t tolerate intolerance.  But be sure never to distinguish between a person’s work and unrelated aspects of their personality! Don’t swing your hips to a song by Chris Brown, buy a vehicle from Ford, or use a Capital One credit card.  Also, go out of your way to snub the business efforts of any and all Mormons (the same religion as Card.)   They’re probably donating money to the Mormon Church, which still considers homosexual behavior a sin (and supported Proposition 8.)  Come on, now, do it for the cause! You may have been all-too-eager to be just as bad as your enemies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any integrity!

Idiocy Spreads Like VD

Oh, wow, man, that’s like so reflective of every developed nation ever!

So this has been making its way around Facebook, coming from those guys who made the very factually incorrect Zeitgeist “documentary.”  Among the less rational it’s an eye-opening call-to-arms against … something.  I find it rather unfortunate that so many of my “friends” were susceptible to this list of things that can be applied to any place ever, but are convinced it’s so telling about what’s happening right now right here (“here” being wherever they are, but for the sake of this discussion let’s limit it to the United States.) But of course the list is so applicable to present day U.S., because–like a Nostradmus prophecy–it’s so generically worded that one can’t help but apply any and every connection they can to give it more meaning than it warrants.  Let’s go down the list:

  1. Powerful and Continuing NATIONALISM – From ancient Rome to modern America, the humblest tribe to the most oppressive cult, there is a sense of nationalism/patriotism.  That is to say, pride in belonging to one group (THAT group) over another.  In fact, I’d wager that the only groups that had a markedly blase attitude toward encouraging enthusiasm for being a part of that group probably didn’t last long.  Looking at America, we had a sense of nationalism when we declared independence from the British and when we fought ourselves in the Civil War.  In fact, both the North and the South had strong senses of Nationalism (for their own groups.)
  2. DISDAIN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS – Well the Americans famously didn’t respect the Native Americans’ rights, of the black slaves, or Chinese immigrants, or people of Japanese descent during WWII, and these days of course there are some issues with people of Middle Eastern descent.  When haven’t we engaged in “disdain for human rights” to one degree or another?
  3. IDENTIFICATION OF ENEMIES/SCAPEGOATS as a Unifying Cause – Interesting use of the slash there.  Are they implying that all identified enemies are scapegoats?  Or do they just mean that sometimes the unifying cause are scapegoats and other times it’s a genuine enemy?  Again, the British were enemies, the Native Americans were enemies that threatened the ability of the nation to expand, the North and South were enemies of each other, and let’s not forget the Nazis!  To smaller extents, organizations like the Ku Klux Klan used Jews and blacks as scapegoats to unify their own group.  In the modern days we have terrorists as the ever present boogeyman, but also illegal immigrants (mostly Mexicans when identified for this purpose.)  Of course we’ve always had issues with certain classes of immigrants, the Italians and Irish were discriminated against in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Oh! Let’s not forget McCarthyism back in the 1950’s! 
  4. SUPREMACY OF THE MILITARY – I have no idea what this means.  That someone has an effective military?  Well they’ve got us there; the U.S. has always had a strong military on the world stage.  We did famously beat the British and the Axis.  Or do they mean that there’s an emphasis on building and maintaining the military?  There’s a school of thought that the only purpose of government is to maintain a military (ensure national security) because it’s the only thing that couldn’t properly be done through privatization.
  5. RAMPANT SEXISM – It would be incredibly difficult to argue that our society is more sexist than it was 50 years ago, let alone 100 or 200 years ago.  For starters, women can vote, get jobs (besides nurse/teacher/secretary,) and serve in the military. 
  6. CONTROLLED MASS MEDIA – Again, what does this one mean?  Controlled by whom?  How?  How big is “mass”?  How controlled is “controlled”?  As it is, there are a few major corporations in charge of a lot of the media in the country right now.  Is it bad that it’s controlled by companies?  Who else would control it, the government?  One of the influential newspapers of the Revolutionary period was the Pennsylvania Chronicle, which was run by Benjamin Franklin.  You know, one of the founding fathers.  That’s the definition of propaganda!
  7. OBSESSION WITH NATIONAL SECURITY – Now, I agree, people ought to be concerned with how far individuals’ rights are curtailed in the pursuit of national security, but it should also be pointed out that there is little else the government ought to be more concerned about than national security.  Today if you’re a terrorist sympathizer you fall under severe scrutiny, in WWII if you were of Japanese descent you got sent to an internment camp, during the Cold War the government was keen on sniffing out Communist sympathizers, during the Vietnam war they hunted down draft dodgers, and during the civil war there was a constant paranoia about spies on either side.  
  8. RELIGION AND GOVERNMENT are Intertwined – Despite the separation clause the laws of the land and religion have always had a funny relationship.  Even when I was a kid in Connecticut, many stores were closed on Sundays due to “blue laws” that were on the books.  Basically, businesses weren’t allowed to operate on Sundays because … uhm … God said that was the day of rest?  The connection was never blatantly stated in the books, but everybody knew that was the cause.  Religion was used to justify slavery.  Religion was used to justify expanding west (Manifest Destiny.)  Sure, the religious right is using the bible to discourage gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, and other things … but that’s nothing new.  At the moment, there’s less religion in the law books than their used to be (businesses that are closed on Sundays do so only because they want to be … usually because they’re religious organizations.)
  9. CORPORATE POWER IS PROTECTED – As opposed to?  And do they mean “corporate” as in the legal definition of a “corporation” or do they just mean “business?”  Because I’m confused about where the line gets drawn.  Do they not want businesses to be protected?  Is a government that discourages the existence of entrepreneurs preferable?   Or only when a business becomes a big enough corporation should it lose any protection?
  10. LABOR POWER IS SUPPRESSED – By whom?  How much?  The government rarely gets involved in labor issues these days (unless it’s a union of Government workers, of course.)  I’m drawing a blank on any recent examples.  I’m sure people will be eager to declare “Twinkies” but the matter between Hostess and the Bakers’ Union was just that; between those two parties just as it should have been. 
  11. DISDAIN FOR INTELLECTUALS AND THE ARTS – Another incredibly vague one.  I suppose people will be eager to point to Romney’s famously anti-PBS bent, but he kind of sort of lost the election … which wouldn’t really happen in a fascist society.  Almost any example of an anti-arts/intellectual agenda will have more to do with culture than a government imposed agenda.  If people are more eager to see the Superbowl than go to a modern art museum then that’s the culture’s own collective fault.  These days, people hail the Beatles as a genius band of artists.  What was the best selling album the year that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band came out? It was a Monkees album.  This is chosen by the people; we’re nowhere near Nazis goose stepping through the town’s square and burning books. Although Americans did have a problem with comic books in the 1950’s. 
  12. OBSESSION WITH CRIME AND PUNISHMENT – Again, this is just so vague as to be meaningless.  Name me a society that doesn’t engage in a some form of legal system.  Whether rules are imposed and enforced by elders, councils, courts, or peer pressure this is an inescapable aspect of any society. 
  13. RAMPANT CRONYISM AND CORRUPTION – It would be a challenge not find this. Again, so vague as to be meaningless.  From the suck up at school who gets an A to nepotism in the corporate world I think this is an inescapable aspect of the human experience.
  14. FRAUDULENT ELECTIONS – Well the Democrats claim this happened in 2000.  The Republicans claim this happened in 2008 and 2012.  This kind of thing happened a lot in the early 20th century (Jim Crow laws.)  Arguably, any election before blacks and women were allowed to vote was fraudulent.
So, as I’ve illustrated, according to this list the United States has been a horribly oppressive fascist government since FOREVER.  Or, this list is completely meaningless.