communication, complaints, humor, rants

It’s a messy morning for me…

If you’re squeamish about sickness, you might want to skip the first few paragraphs of this post.

So, I think I brought home a souvenir from Belgium. I wasn’t feeling 100 percent yesterday. I had a sore throat and a runny nose. I was sneezing, too. It all culminated last night. I had been really hungry, because we didn’t have much food in the house after our brief trip. I didn’t have much of a lunch. So when Bill made bacon cheeseburgers for dinner, I was all for it.

Just as I finished my burger, my body erupted into a violent coughing fit that nauseated me. I froze, looking horrified, and Bill asked me what was wrong. I said I felt like I was going to vomit. I got up and made a move toward the bathroom.

I didn’t quite make it to the toilet and, let’s just say, it was quite the Technicolor yawn. I spewed puke all over the bathroom and the rug outside the door. It took some time to clean everything up, because everything got doused– the floor, the toilet, the walls, and any items that were in the strike zone. Since this house doesn’t have closets, that meant a few things got sprayed. Bill had to go to the grocery store to buy more sponges and I had to do a sudden load of laundry.

Then, after I got most all of the surfaces cleaned, I got out my steam mop and started to give the floors a once over to get the last residue from my sickness. In the process of doing that, I scalded the fuck out of my toe. Naturally, that led to a lot cursing and an urge to burst into tears, which I somehow managed to avoid doing.

I would definitely feel better if Bill did this nurse’s routine…

This morning, I woke up after a reasonably decent sleep, but my nose is running and I’m sneezing… This could be my allergies, or it could be a cold. Either way, I don’t feel well. However, I still have my senses of smell and taste, and I don’t feel overly tired or achy. So whatever this is, I’m sure it will pass. I’m still horrified about last night’s vomit fest, though I know it could have been worse. At least I didn’t also have diarrhea. I just have a very sensitive gag reflex and will hurl at the slightest provocation, just like the Maggie Blackamoor on Little Britain.

I relate.

And now that I’ve brought up Little Britain, it’s time to move on to today’s topic… because Little Britain offers a fine segue into what’s on my mind this morning.

A little while ago, I ran across an article in The Atlantic about comedy and comedians. The article, titled “When the Punishment Doesn’t Fit the Joke”, was written by Conor Friedersdorf, is partly about the comedian Dave Chappelle. Mr. Chappelle is no stranger to making jokes that sometimes go over like turds in proverbial punch bowls, as my Aunt Gayle would put it. Personally, I think Chappelle is often funny, but I’m not a super fan of his work. I never saw the Netflix special that got him into hot water, during which he made fun of trans people. Chappelle’s special was pulled from Netflix, and many people were talking about how insensitive and “bullying” he was toward a marginalized group. Some people tried to take it even further, attacking his career, trying to ruin him.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I’m not a fan of “cancel culture”, especially when it comes to comedians. I may not like every joke I hear, but I am a big proponent of free speech and letting people vote with their wallets and consciences. Also, I like provocative content that makes people think. Sometimes so-called “offensive” humor is thought provoking. Even if a joke is cruel, if it gets people talking, it’s not all bad, in my opinion. Moreover, I enjoy being able to make decisions for myself about what is, and what is not, acceptable humor. I don’t need “help” from the masses.

In his article, Conor Friedersdorf begins by writing about Chappelle, and the performing arts theater at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC. Mr. Chappelle is a former student at the school and has donated a lot of money to it, so the theater was going to be named after him. But then Chappelle got into trouble for his jokes about trans people. The renaming ceremony was postponed, and Chappelle eventually told everyone “that for now, the venue will be named the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.”

Friedersdorf wrote that his colleague, David Frum, had attended the event and offered an interpretation of what happened.

In sophisticated comedy, comedians play with the tension between formal and informal beliefs, and Chappelle’s is very sophisticated comedy. The function of humor as a release from the forbidden thought explains why some of the most productive sources of jokes are authoritarian societies, because they forbid so much. In the squares of Moscow today, protesters physically reenact an old Soviet joke, demonstrating with blank signs because “Everybody already knows everything I want to say.” That same function of comedy explains why “woke America” is the target of so much satirical humor today, because so much of wokeness aspires to forbid.

When Chappelle deferred adding his name to the theater of the school to which he’d given so much of himself—not only checks, but return appearances—he was not yielding or apologizing. He was challenging the in-school critics: You don’t understand what I do—not my right to do it, but the reason it matters that I exercise that right. Until you do understand, you cannot have my name. Someday you will understand. You may have it then.

The article continued with Friedersdorf’s thoughts on modern comedy and what the role of a comedian is supposed to be. Comedians make jokes and offer humorous positions on any given topic. The great George Carlin once did a bit called “Rape Can Be Funny”. In it, he talked about how comedians run into backlash over “tasteless” jokes all the time, with people who try to tell them what is or isn’t funny, and what can or can’t be joked about. Back in 1990, Carlin said:

I believe you can joke about anything.

It all depends on how you construct the joke. What the exaggeration is. What the exaggeration is.

Because every joke needs one exaggeration. Every joke needs one thing to be way out of proportion.

Now… I want to state right away that, on many occasions, I’ve heard Carlin’s routine about how rape can be funny. I own a copy of the CD it comes from, and have listened to it enough that I can recite it from memory. Personally, I don’t think “Rape Can Be Funny” is Carlin’s best work. He makes some very tone deaf jokes about rape that, to me, just plain miss the mark. Carlin’s rape jokes aren’t funny to me, though, because he seemed to think rape is about sex and sexual attraction. In my view, rape is about people who want to take power over another person. It doesn’t have to be a man who does it, either. Women are capable of raping men. I know this because it happened to my husband during his first marriage. He trusted his ex wife, and she rewarded him by violently assaulting him when he was not capable of defending himself. I don’t think she did it because she was turned on, or wanting to turn him on. She did it because she wanted to hurt him, and show him who was in control. That had nothing to do with love, sex, or bonding. It was an act of violence and, to me, it was definitely NOT funny.

However– even though I don’t agree with Carlin’s opinions about rape, I will admit that he made a very good point in his routine about how anything can be funny to certain people. The most skillful comics can make the most horrifying topics funny. I think Carlin was one of the best comics ever, but sometimes even he flubbed things. I didn’t find his rape routine that funny, but I appreciated the one pearl of wisdom within it, in which his main point is that comedians should be free to tackle all topics. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to laugh. We don’t have to watch the show or buy the album. That would be a fitting consequence of not being funny. Trying to ruin comedians’ careers over one or two bad or offensive jokes may not be a fitting consequence– especially when a certain community presumes to make that decision for everyone.

This is the best part of the routine, in my opinion. The rest of it, not so much. But it would have been a tragedy if George had been canceled for saying this. Because most of the other stuff he said was genius!

As is my habit, I went to the Facebook comment section, just to see what people thought of Conor Friedersdorf’s article. As usual, plenty of people who didn’t read it were chiming in. There were also some virtue signalers in there– mostly white guys– trying very hard to prove to everyone how sensitive and “woke” they are, by calling Chappelle a “bully”.

First off, I don’t think that merely joking about someone or something makes them a bully. In my mind, the term “bullying” connotes abuse and harassment that includes threats and intimidation, not merely insults or ridicule. When I think of bullies, I think of people who use their positions of power to control or coerce others. Simply joking about a group, tasteless and mean as the joke may be, isn’t really acting like a bully. Now, if Dave was also trying to force trans people to give him money or property, or threatened to beat them up after the show, that would be more like bullying, in my view.

Secondly, the main virtue signaling offender in the comment section was being very insulting himself. Anyone who disagreed with him was labeled an “asshole”, among other derogatory terms. It seems to me that if one believes comedians should be kinder and gentler, one should be the change they want to see. Name calling those who have a differing viewpoint, especially when you’re pushing the view that people should be pressured/forced into being politically correct, is quite hypocritical. Below are just a few comments made by this guy. I thought about pointing it out to him that his habit of name calling isn’t very PC, but decided I’d rather frost my bush than argue with him.

…life would be better people were nicer to each other and didn’t try to fill the empty voids in their miserable lives by punching down at people more vulnerable than themselves. And it’s okay to call people who do that assholes and say you don’t want to be associated with them.

We’re having that conversation, and a lot of it is “wow, Chapelle really seems to be an asshole who delights in saying hurtful things about marginalized people from atom his giant pile of Netflix money”. But the Atlantic doesn’t like that conversation so they’re trying to shut it down. Fuck that.

…you say “that’s not the world we live in” like this is some divinely ordained state. But it’s a choice. Powerful assholes get away with attacking marginalized communities because others choose to accept it (as long as it’s happening to other people). But we could chose not to just brush off this kind of hate. We could be better.

There was one very sensible woman commenting who brought up that if people in the trans community want to be recognized as “mainstream”, they should be “tough enough” to be made fun of on occasion. One can’t ask to be treated like everyone else, and also demand “special” treatment or membership in a protected class. I totally agree with that notion.

I don’t find all attempts at humor successful, and some jokes really are tasteless, offensive, and too close to the bone, in my opinion. But it’s just MY opinion. Other people have different opinions, and personally I prefer having the right to speak freely over being threatened with being canceled if I express the “wrong” thing or have the “wrong” opinion. And to be clear, I don’t consider refusing to attend a show or buy a DVD to be “canceling” someone. Canceling someone is when a person or group tries to shut someone up or punish them by attempting to ruin their lives. That goes too far, in my view. Especially in a society that is supposed to be “free”, allowing freedom of expression and open exchanges of ideas.

ETA: I had to comment to the virtue signaling guy who was insulting everyone with name calling, as he also called for kindness. I wrote:

“Does it not strike you as slightly hypocritical that you keep labeling people ‘assholes’, as you preach about how we should all be more sensitive and kinder to others? Shouldn’t you start by being the change you want to see? Name calling isn’t the best look if you want to convince people that you’re a good person.”

I just had to do it. This guy seems to think that he should be the one who decides what is– and what is not– appropriate humor, and what jokes we should find acceptable. To quote him, I say “fuck that.” I can make up my own mind about what I find funny, and I can also vote with my wallet, and my feet. Moreover, I don’t respect someone demanding that we treat everyone with kindness and decency as he dehumanizes those who disagree with him by calling them “assholes”. He’ll probably come at me hours from now. Hopefully, I’ll be in an antihistamine induced coma by then.

I will hasten to add that I know I use the word “asshole” a lot myself. The difference is, I try really hard not to presume to “set an example”. I try not to tell people what they should be saying, thinking, or finding funny… or, at least I hope I don’t. I definitely don’t think anyone should necessarily look up to me, or value my opinions… I just like to express myself sometimes. I usually confine my expression to this blog, though, because otherwise, I’ll find myself engaged in a dialogue with someone preaching about being kind to the marginalized, as he calls me an “asshole”. Moreover, simply finding a joke funny– even if it’s vulgar, tasteless, or crass– doesn’t equate to “hate”. I can still laugh at Avenue Q or South Park, after all…

I saw this show in England a few years ago, and was crying at the end of it, it was SO good… it was basically about MY life as a Gen Xer! Should I not have found this funny? Some people might think that. Why don’t I get a vote, too?

As someone who loves humor, I don’t want to see comedians being canceled. I want them to be free to come up with jokes on any topic. I’m smart enough to decide for myself if I think something is funny or not, and I can choose for myself if I want to consume what they’re selling. I don’t need guys like the woke dude above, calling Dave Chappelle an “asshole”, as he condemns his comedy for being too “mean” and marginalizing groups that he deems “at risk”. I want everyone to have a vote, and I want them to be allowed to choose for themselves. That’s freedom, to me. And dammit, I love irreverent humor, even if it sometimes hurts.

Now, if I could only free myself from this runny nose, headache, fatigue, and sneezing, I’d be batting 500…

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, poor judgment, rants, Trump

Tennessee school board bans book on Holocaust due to “objectionable language”… now the book is on backorder!

Have you ever heard of the “Streisand effect”? It’s a phenomenon named after the famous singer, Barbra Streisand, whose last name, I notice, is not counted as misspelled as I type it in the editor. I guess she’s arrived, since the dictionary recognizes her name as an actual word!

Anyway, the story goes that back in 2003, Barbra Streisand got good and pissed at the California Coastal Records Project’s decision to photograph her residence in Malibu, California as they were documenting the effects of coastal erosion The photos were intended to influence government policy makers. Streisand was apparently more concerned about her privacy, than the environment. She attempted to suppress the photograph of her estate via legal means, suing photographer Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia for violation of privacy. Before she filed her $50 million lawsuit, meant to get the aerial photo removed from the collection of 12,000 photos of the California coastline, the photo of her mansion had only been downloaded six times. Two of six downloads were by Streisand’s own lawyers.

Word got out about Streisand’s attempts to quash the photo, and over the course of the month following news of the lawsuit, over 420,000 people visited the site where it was posted, and downloaded the picture of Streisand’s coastline property. Instead of managing to suppress the image, the public became much more interested in the photo than they would have if Streisand would have just STFU about it.

That amusing end result of Striesand’s privacy case caused a writer named Mike Malsnick to coin the term, “Streisand effect”, back in 2005, when another notorious photo made the news and became much more popular than it otherwise would have. In that case, the owners of a holiday resort objected to a picture taken of a urinal at their resort, which was uploaded to a site called urinal.net. They sued, and the urinal pic became a lot more noticeable. Malsnick wrote:

“How long is it going to take before lawyers realize that the simple act of trying to repress something they don’t like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see (like a photo of a urinal in some random beach resort) is now seen by many more people? Let’s call it the Streisand Effect.”

The phenomenon of controversial or “objectionable” things growing in popularity or notoriety after someone has tried to repress or quash them, is now known as the “Streisand effect”. And now, we’re seeing the Streisand effect at work again, thanks to some extremely conservative and misguided school board members in McMinn County, Tennessee, who are in the news because they banned a Pulitzer prize winning comic novel from their school’s 8th grade curriculum. I don’t think their school board vote actually went the way they intended it to go. Now, the Streisand effect is in full force, once again.

Put it this way. Much to my shame, twenty four hours ago, I had never heard of author, Art Spiegelman, nor did I know anything about his much acclaimed 1996 comic novel Maus. As of this morning, not only have I heard of the book, but I have just purchased a copy of it, and it’s now on the way to my house. I will have to wait a short while, because probably thanks to the recent controversy surrounding the McMinn County school board’s decision to ban Maus, there’s been a run on copies of Maus, even in Germany. This means that I am not the only one who felt moved– disgusted– downright pissed off enough about this news to buy the book. I have a feeling Mr. Spiegelman and his publisher will be enjoying the Streisand effect, as people rebel against censorship by purchasing, borrowing, and reading Maus.

I feel really good about buying this book. I am always interested in learning more about the Holocaust, especially since it was not an event that was extensively covered when I went to public school in Virginia, back in the 80s. I have learned a lot about the Holocaust on my own, having read a lot of true stories about it and watched many videos made by survivors and their descendants about that very dark period in world history. I don’t usually read a lot of novels anymore, mainly because I prefer non-fiction. However, as a former English major, I know that novels can and do have their place in teaching people about the human condition. This is a graphic novel, so that means there are comic illustrations, which I know Bill will appreciate. I probably will, too, although I am not as much into art as he is. Spiegelman has used cats to depict Germans and mice to depict Jews during the Holocaust, which I think is a very intriguing concept.

But even if it turns out I don’t learn from or enjoy reading Maus, I still feel fine about buying it, because seriously, fuck that school board in McMinn County. Below is the passage from the news article I linked that made me say to Bill, “That does it. I’m buying a copy of the book!”

As reported by The Tennessee Holler and The Guardian, the McMinn County School board voted 10-0 to ban Maus from all of its schools, citing the book’s inclusion of words like “God damn” and “naked pictures” of women. Apparently, the school board discussed the possibility of simply redacting words and images it found inappropriate, though ultimately opted to ban the book outright. When reached for comment by The Tennessee Holler, the board claimed that the book being about the Holocaust had nothing to do with why it was banned.

“Why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff, it is not wise or healthy… I am not denying it was horrible, brutal and cruel,” one board member said. “It’s like when you’re watching TV and a cuss word or nude scene comes on it would be the same movie without it. Well, this would be the same book without it… If I had a child in the eighth grade, this ain’t happening. If I had to move him out and homeschool him or put him somewhere else, this is not happening.”

I am so sick of these types of small-town, power-wielding, world-perspective limited people, who feel like they need to censor or ban things for everyone, because they are personally “offended” by language or nudity or things they consider “gross”, “inappropriate”, or “pornographic”. Especially when it turns out that the things they wish to ban aren’t actually any of those things, but instead offer real opportunities for education and enlightenment. Instead of trying to understand the “objectionable” viewpoint or perspective, they opt to just ban it and label it indecent or offensive.

Regular readers of my blog may recall that last month, I got good and fired up when popular YouTuber Mama Doctor Jones got mentioned in an Alaska school board meeting because a progressive educator linked to some of her videos as a means of teaching youngsters about sex. People in that meeting were equating Mama Doctor Jones’ very informative and scientifically based videos to porn! It was outrageous and offensive to me, and if I were a parent in that school district, I would be raising all kinds of hell about it locally, instead of just on my blog.

What really puzzles me is that these folks in Tennessee and Alaska, so outraged by books like Maus, which is a comic representation of Art Spiegelman’s father’s experiences in the Holocaust, or videos by actual board certified OB-GYN Mama Doctor Jones, are NOT AT ALL OFFENDED by Donald Trump’s disgusting treatment of women, minorities, employees, or anyone else who can’t do anything for him. Seriously, y’all… their hero, Donald Trump, had no trouble whatsoever offending the world with his narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, lying bullshit. Where was their outrage when they heard about Donald Trump grabbing women by the pussy?

The conservatives in Alaska and Tennessee who are clutching their pearls over words like “God damn”, nude illustrations, and frank and fact based discussion about sex, pregnancy, birth control, and abortion, don’t care at all that their orange, tiny-handed, hero would happily grab the younger and prettier women in their midst “by the pussy” if he felt like it, because he’s a “star”. Below is an actual transcript of what former President Donald Trump said in 2005 about a beautiful married woman he once pursued:

Donald J. Trump: You know and …

Unknown: She used to be great. She’s still very beautiful.

Trump: I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.

Unknown: Whoa.

Trump: I did try and fuck her. She was married.

Unknown: That’s huge news.

Trump: No, no, Nancy. No, this was [unintelligible] — and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.

She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture —

I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

Billy Bush: Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple.

Trump: Whoa! Whoa!

Bush: Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man!

[Crosstalk]

Trump: Look at you, you are a pussy.

[Crosstalk]

Trump: All right, you and I will walk out.

[Silence]

Trump: Maybe it’s a different one.

Bush: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s, it’s her, it’s —

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Am I really to believe that Maus is more offensive and inappropriate than Trump is? Am I to believe that thirteen year olds, who have already heard all of the bad words from their own former president, no less, and are now at an age at which they can reproduce, should be “protected” from Mama Doctor Jones’ content because some claim it’s akin to “porn”, or Art Spiegelman’s brilliant book about one of the worst tragedies in human history, because of nudity and words like “God damn”? Um… I’ve got a news flash for these people. Censorship does not prevent people from being exposed to objectionable content.

Look at Josh Duggar. He grew up in a famously conservative family that was chronicled on reality TV. His parents were held up as paragons. They claimed to be very strict about keeping their children from objectionable content in television, books, music, and yes, the Internet. Need I remind everyone where Josh Duggar is right now and why he’s there?

Seriously…

I’m not trying to imply that Josh Duggar wouldn’t be a sex offender if his parents hadn’t been so controlling. He might just be wired that way. What I am saying is that banning “objectionable content” tends to make it forbidden fruit– more attractive to the masses. Perverts are gonna perv. I think it’s better for parents and educators to be open-minded and provide constructive and supportive guidance to their children when they are presented with challenging or potentially offensive material, rather than just quashing it. And that goes for both sides of the spectrum. I don’t like the “cancel culture” so often embraced by left wingers, either.

Censorship doesn’t work. Throughout history, people who have championed book banning are not remembered as the “good guys” who truly have everyone’s best interests at heart. The timing of this decision is especially offensive, as yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I expect to have Maus in my hot little hands next month. I look forward to reading it for myself and sharing my thoughts about it. I’m glad that, at least for the time being, I still have the right to make that decision for myself. And I am heartened by people like Wil Wheaton, who have pledged to make this book available to people in McMinn County by buying a couple of copies and asking the book store owners to give them freely to people who ask for them. It was Wil Wheaton’s thoughtful post on this situation that got me to learn more about it this morning.

Many thanks to Wil Wheaton for being one of the “good guys”.

So cheers to the Streisand effect. I hope Art Spiegelman enjoys the unintended consequences of small-minded people serving on the school board in Tennessee. Like Wil Wheaton, I get pissed off by “authoritarian bullshit”. I try to fight the power whenever I can. I hope many other people will join me. I’ll help by providing an Amazon link to Spiegelman’s masterpiece, Maus. If you purchase through the link on my page, I will get a small commission from Amazon. That would be nice for me, but even if you just want to check it out of the library, I would highly recommend doing that. Fuck the powers that be!

A little mood music for this post.

Standard
poor judgment, social media, videos, YouTube

More on Leon the Lobster… and a tasteless holiday greeting makes me crabby!

Once again, I’m struggling to decide what to write about today. I have a few topics in mind, but I wonder if want to go there so close to Christmas. Maybe I’ll wait until the first week of 2022. I’ll probably be extra cranky, since that’s when I plan to get my Moderna booster. I suppose it could end up being a Pfizer booster, too.

Anyway, I was happy to see that Brady Brandwood, who rescued Leon the Lobster from the grocery store, has posted a brand new video. I just discovered Leon on Sunday, so it was nice to get this update while he was still fresh in my mind (see yesterday’s post).

As you can see, Leon is doing very well!

Brady still doesn’t know if Leon is a girl lobster or a boy lobster. Brady is planning to get a new aquarium soon, so when it comes time for Leon to move to a new tank, Brady will find out what team Leon plays for. He does say that he will keep the name Leon, regardless. But if it turns out Leon is female, he says maybe he’ll call Leon “Celene Leon”, instead. I watch this, and now I want to rescue a lobster, too, but I don’t have easy access to lobsters, nor do I have the equipment or know how. So I guess I will just be content with watching Leon’s progress.

I’m astonished by how much I enjoy YouTube, especially some of the more creative original content. Who would have thought videos about a grocery store lobster would be this interesting? And, as I pointed out yesterday, I even went to the point of learning a little more about the bizarre mating rituals of lobsters! Who says you can’t learn new things as you get older? Brady does say that he can’t take Leon back to the wild, since he doesn’t live near the right habitat for lobsters. Maybe he’ll get him a friend soon.

MOVING ON…

Last night, as Bill and I were about to tuck in to our salmon filets, I noticed a photo in the Duggar Family News group. Someone had shared a potentially scandalous picture of a family at a Christmas tree farm. The dad and toddler aged son were smiling, and dad was holding up a chalkboard that read “Peace on Earth”. Mom and two little daughters were “gagged” with bright green tape and “tied up” with Christmas lights.

Naturally, there were a whole lot of comments about this photo. I will admit that I was shocked when I first saw the photo. I figured it was probably a joke, though, and didn’t take it too seriously. Other group members were a lot more outraged than I was, claiming that the photo was sick and abusive.

I decided to go Googling, and sure enough, I found out more about the source of the photo, which went viral in 2015. It seems this family had posed for photographer, Hannah Hawkes, who was based in Rosephine, Louisiana, and used the image for their 2015 Christmas card. The image promptly went viral, with many people seemingly very upset because they claim the picture promotes domestic violence, misogyny, and overall devaluation of females.

Personally, I would not go that far… I mean, yes, it’s a shocking image and, on some levels, I would call it potentially very offensive and problematic. But I can’t conclude that “the Johnsons” are necessarily a family in trouble, simply due to the controversial photo that floated around in 2015 and has now resurfaced in the Duggar Family News Group. I would need more information to come to that definitive conclusion. What I will state is that I think the picture is tone deaf, and it wasn’t a smart idea to put it on social media. Even if it was meant jokingly, supposedly as a dig at the stereotype of women nagging too much, when it comes to these kinds of images, particularly when children are involved, people are going to get upset.

Hawkes posted the following (now deleted) comment on Facebook in 2015:

I’m not sure this explanation necessarily helped her case…

There were also some responses to the photo back in 2015. For example, I found this blog post written by a woman named Deborah Cruz. Her opinion was titled “Why the Peace on Earth Holiday Photo Doesn’t Infuriate Me”– clever enough, I guess, since the photo did infuriate a lot of people. People, no doubt, eagerly clicked on that post just to read about, and indignantly comment on, what a misogynistic jerk Deborah Cruz really is (for not being infuriated)… only to find out that Cruz was on the negative side of the issue. She wasn’t “infuriated” about the photo; she was “saddened”, because she couldn’t imagine how anyone would think taking that photo was okay.

Again… I don’t think I would necessarily jump to negative conclusions about this family based only on the photo. It could have simply been posted due to ignorance or a serious lapse in judgment. But, the fact is, this joking image is reality for a lot of women in the world. There are many out there who are literally or figuratively bound and gagged, and they have no voice, because of their personal circumstances, bad luck, or even voluntary choices.

On the other hand, there are also women out there who actually enjoy this sort of thing– seriously— and are enthusiastic participants. But then, that particular “kinky” lifestyle choice does not seem to be what the photo is about. It seems to be about the joys of silencing women and girls, and that’s not cool, or politically correct, even in jest. I am not a big fan of PC culture, but I understand that it’s kind of the way of the world nowadays. If you don’t want to be PC, you can expect that a bunch of people will pile on you, especially on social media. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a tendency to react first and think later.

Regardless, I do not think it was a good idea to involve children in staging that photo. I’m not really a fan of kids being in a lot of photos online, anyway, but to show little girls being depicted as bound and gagged, even as a “joke”, is just a terrible idea on many levels. Especially when their little brother is not bound and gagged, and is shown seemingly cheering on his mother’s and sisters’ “predicament”.

It seems clear that the family was trying to make a lame joke and it really flopped, big time. I’m not sure I would make the automatic leap to domestic violence that some people made in 2015, and are now making since the photo resurfaced, at least not without more information. One person commented that it looked like this family kept having kids until they got a boy. I don’t know how that person jumped to that conclusion, not knowing anything about this couple. It’s entirely likely they always planned for three kids. Or maybe he was an “oops”, like I was. There’s really no telling, and I can’t make the leap based on one tacky holiday photo.

I have a friend who had two sons from her first marriage, then got remarried and wanted to have just one more baby with her second husband. Surprise! She got pregnant with twin girls, then in the six months after they were born, she got pregnant again with a son. She had her tubes tied when he was born, because she certainly never planned for five kids, and definitely didn’t want any more babies. But, based on that one commenter’s observation of that photo, my friend might have been trying for a boy. Even if it that were true, what’s wrong with it? Sometimes, I think people really go too far with the armchair analyses, although I suppose I am as guilty as anyone is when it comes to that.

A lot of people reacted to the photo with extreme negativity, and claimed that it “promoted abuse”. Even from a money making standpoint, it was a pretty bad idea. I don’t know if Hannah Hawkes is still in business, but it does look like her Facebook page is deleted. Based on her comment, it sounds like she got a whole lot of heat and the wrong kind of attention for taking that picture.

It may have gotten to the point at which Hawkes was canceled, or she may have decided to cancel herself. If that’s what happened, I think it’s a shame. I’m not a big fan of “canceling” people, since canceling people can have devastating effects on people’s lives that might not fit their “crimes”. I also dislike mob mentality, since I don’t think it should be up to private individuals to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Hawkes is probably a perfectly nice person who had a lapse in judgment. Hopefully she learned from it, and didn’t let this setback derail her career.

But yes, just for the record, I don’t think the photo was in good taste at all, and regardless of the family’s intentions, I agree with whose who deemed it a very bad, or at least unwise, concept. However, as shocked as I was when I first saw that photo last night, I can see on Pinterest, that it wasn’t even an original idea. Other families have posted similar photos of wives and daughters bound and gagged during the Christmas season, along with a sign reading “Peace on Earth” or “Silent Night”. And in one photo, the child is the one who has bound her parents in Christmas lights, but everybody’s smiling.

I guess this situation just goes to show that one bad idea preserved online can last forever…

AND FINALLY, ONE LAST TOPIC…

Sorry I didn’t mention this in the post title, but yesterday, I watched this outrageous video by Mama Doctor Jones, aka Dr. Danielle Jones, OB-GYN… She’s being taken to task in Alaska for her so-called “racy” content that “promotes abortion”. I’m not going to opine more about this video in this post, since I think this topic deserves its own post and plenty of rantings from yours truly. However, I did want to share the video with the interested, to give you all a chance to see it before I go off about it. I’ll probably write about it later today or maybe tomorrow, because people are just plain stupid. Especially conservative white men who have an anti-woman/pro-life/pro-gun agenda to push as they claim how much they “love freedom”.

People in Fairbanks, Alaska who are shitting on Mama Doctor Jones’s outstanding and informative YouTube channel need to get a life.

Standard
celebrities, musings, narcissists, social media

Phylicia Rashad’s head on a platter…

Phylicia Rashad is in the news for supporting Bill Cosby on Twitter. When he was suddenly released from prison a few days ago, she tweeted “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

That tweet led to a lot of backlash. Rashad, who was appointed the dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts in May 2021, is now being pressured to resign from her job. Her response, so far, was to delete the offending tweet, then issue this apology “This week, I tweeted a statement that caused so much hurt in so many people — both broadly and inside the Howard community… I offer my most sincere apology.” As far as I know, she’s still got a job at Howard University. Regarding Rashad’s comments, Howard University has stated that “Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies.”

We’ll see what comes of this.

Many people, obviously upset that Phylicia Rashad would dare to publicly support her old friend, Bill Cosby, feel like her support of Cosby should equate to losing her job. It’s as if all of the great things Phylicia Rashad has done over her long career as an entertainer should be erased, simply because of a tweet supporting the man who was her co-star on a groundbreaking 80s era sitcom, as well as a 90s era show. This is obviously a complicated issue for Rashad, although I am surprised that she didn’t realize people would be up in arms over any public support for Bill Cosby.

Phylicia Rashad six years ago. She supported him then, too. Are we really surprised that she still supports him today?

Phylicia Rashad shared the experience of making The Cosby Show and, later, Cosby, with Bill Cosby. They’re obviously still dear friends. I don’t like the idea of punishing people who exercise their right to speak freely. Phylicia Rashad, to my knowledge, hasn’t sexually assaulted anyone. Moreover, she’s known Bill Cosby for many years. They have a long history together and she’s always supported him, no matter what. I don’t know what’s in Ms. Rashad’s head… and I think her first tweet was very ill advised and considered. I don’t know how a person can be a celebrity in this day and age and not realize that publicly supporting a sex offender is going to lead to being canceled by the public. Still, while I would have expected her to be savvier about voicing unpopular public opinions and backlash, I think her comments about Cosby are disappointing, but not particularly surprising.

On the other hand, Phylicia Rashad is human, and sometimes humans get carried away and do things that are ill-considered. In terms of her career, Rashad shouldn’t have tweeted. But as a friend to Cosby, obviously she felt moved to do so. Whether or not she should be friends with a convicted sex offender should be up to her. As much as some people think Bill Cosby should lose everything, the reality is, he won’t. There will always be people who will support him– family members and friends– and they aren’t going to be swayed by what the Internet thinks. There are few people in the world who are truly alone, especially people like Bill Cosby.

Phylicia’s sister, Debbie Allen, talks about Bill Cosby’s attitude toward pregnant Lisa Bonet.

I kind of get the confusion, though. At one time, Bill Cosby could do no wrong. People my age grew up on his brand of family friendly television. I watched Bill Cosby on TV every week when I was growing up, having been introduced to him on 70s era shows like Fat Albert and his classic comedy film, Bill Cosby: Himself. But it wasn’t just his work on television sitcoms that made him so powerful and influential. Cosby had books, films, albums, and commercials. He had dozens of honorary doctorates and other awards. He made speeches and championed causes. He sermonized about being an involved father. He was called “America’s Dad”, and that persona transcended race. People of all colors and creeds looked up to him as “America’s Dad”. That’s probably why it took so long for him to fall out of favor with the public. Maybe if he hadn’t been “America’s Dad”, he would have been prosecuted when he was much younger and would have done a lot less harm. We probably shouldn’t be so quick to make the charismatic among us into heroes because almost all of us have clay feet.

In those heady days of the 1980s, Cosby seemed charming, intelligent, and funny. I noticed that he incorporated a lot of the routines from his film into plots on The Cosby Show; but they were still humorous, especially when performed by talented actors. The Cosby Show was very well written, family oriented, and high quality entertainment. Phylicia Rashad was a huge part of the reason why that show was so relevant in my youth– from the time I was 12 until I was 20. The Cosby Show opened doors and broke down barriers. It’s heartbreaking to realize that the character, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, is not the same man as Bill Cosby is, even though Cosby’s real life comedy routines inspired the show. So many of us who grew up with him on TV have had a hard time separating Cosby from his kind and wise alter ego, Heathcliff Huxtable. Of course, now that we know more about Cosby as a man, it makes sense that Cliff Huxtable was an OB/GYN.

Eddie Murphy got chastised by Bill Cosby for being too foul mouthed…

I never saw a single episode of Cosby’s next show with Rashad, entitled Cosby, as it aired at a time in my life when I was too busy for network TV. From 1996-2000, I was in the Peace Corps, working nights, or in graduate school. But Cosby lasted four years, and The Cosby Show was on for eight years, so that means Rashad worked with Cosby for twelve years. Incidentally, Bill Cosby also had another 90s era show called The Cosby Mysteries, and a 60s and 70s era show called The Bill Cosby Show… I think the fact that he’s had four series named after him is pretty telling about the massive size of his ego. And while he put a lot of Black actors on the map by giving them jobs, he also destroyed a lot of people– particularly the scores of women who were his victims. Meanwhile, he was hypocritically berating and chastising people like Eddie Murphy for using the f word, or Black people as a whole.

Bill Cosby talking about people crying when their sons are in orange suits… Wow.

I do believe the many women who have accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them. Yes, Cosby got out of prison, but that does not make him innocent of the crimes that put him there. He got out of prison on a technicality. He’s even admitted to drugging women he was pursuing for sex. That is criminal behavior, and it was right for him to be punished. I agree that Cosby didn’t spend enough time behind bars, even though I doubt he will re-offend, given his age and fall from grace. I wish that he had been prosecuted years ago, much like I wish Donald Trump could be held accountable for his disgusting sexual attacks on women. I don’t know what it is about men who are destined to be powerful. So many of them turn out to be incredibly predatory when it comes to sex, money, and political power. And that hunger for sex, money, and power is often married to a charismatic exterior that fools many people. For years, I thought Cosby was one of the good guys. I can see that a lot of people still believe Trump is a good guy, despite so much evidence and actual proof to the contrary.

The first account I read about Cosby’s sexual dalliances was Janice Dickinson’s. I read her book and was surprised when she wrote that Cosby had raped her. I mentioned it on Facebook, and several of my friends discounted her comments, mainly because of her “bitchy” persona. Several years later, all of these other women came forward with their claims. I gained new respect for Janice when I read her book.

That being said, personally, I don’t like the “cancel” aspect of our culture, which has come about thanks to social media. In fact, I think it’s chilling that a person can make a statement on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube that leads to Internet mobbing and financial ruin, particularly when the vast majority of people don’t have a personal stake in whatever has them in a tizzy. Phylicia Rashad actually knows Bill Cosby as a person, not as someone she’s seen on TV. Most of the people who are maligning Rashad’s character don’t know her or Cosby, nor are they even among his victims. Unless, of course, they feel victimized because they fell for Cosby’s charm in the 1970s and 80s. I wonder how many people have sent Phylicia Rashad death threats over her tweet. I would not be surprised if she’s gotten a few threats… and perhaps her family members have gotten them as well. For some reason, many people think it’s okay to get so angry over what someone dares to communicate that they literally call for the offender’s head on a platter. I think that’s taking things a bit too far.

Today is July 4th. It’s a day when Americans celebrate liberty from British rule. I grew up very close to where the Revolutionary War was won, so all my life, I’ve heard about how special and wonderful the United States is, particularly because we have so much freedom. But clearly we don’t have that much freedom. While a person can say whatever they want to say and, generally speaking, don’t have to worry about the government jailing them, there’s a very good chance that if it’s not what people want to hear, and they are “big” enough, they will experience cancel culture. And so many people get riled up over these things. They think a person should suffer for the rest of their lives over their thoughts, deeds, and comments. No matter what, there’s always going to be someone who thinks that lives should be ruined, or even ended, over a tweet. Then, after the next news story breaks, they forget all about that person they felt should have their head on a platter. Meanwhile, that person is still living with the aftereffects of being canceled.

I honestly don’t know if Phylicia Rashad is qualified to be a dean at Howard University. It seems to me that she might have been hired because of her fame, accomplishments, connections, and ability to influence donors. She doesn’t appear to have the usual educational background that university deans typically have. It may turn out that by publicly supporting a sex offender, she’s permanently disgraced herself and Howard University. It could be that because of the tweet, she won’t be able to do her job. If that’s the situation, then yes, maybe she should be fired or resign. But I don’t think she should be fired simply for an ill advised tweet. She has personal feelings about Bill Cosby based on actual in person experiences with him that the vast majority of other people don’t have. Her personal feelings about Cosby are not so cut and dried.

Look at Governor Ralph Northam. In the 1980s, he posed in blackface for a medical school yearbook photo. When that photo was unearthed a couple of years ago, many people called for his resignation. He resisted, and has gone on to do marvelous things in Virginia. Or, at least I think he’s done marvelous things to make Virginia more liberal, which suits me fine. I know a lot of my Republican friends can’t stand him. The point is, I’m glad he didn’t resign over social media backlash and cancel culture. And I don’t think Phylicia Rashad should be forced to resign, unless it becomes clear that she can’t do her job. Ultimately, that will be for Howard University to decide, not the general public. It should be up to the students Rashad serves and her co-workers and bosses, not random people on Facebook. No matter what, people should not be sending her hate mail or death threats. People who send hate mail and death threats must think that would be alright for others to do to them, if at some point, they do something that society deems unacceptable.

Anyway… experience has taught me that these things can and do blow over eventually. Five years ago, Josh Duggar was outed for being a sex pest. One would think the Duggars would have been finished in 2015 over that revelation. But no, it’s taken six years and accusations that Josh Duggar was viewing child pornography to finally get the Duggar family canceled. Like it or not, some people will still like Bill Cosby. They’ll ignore what he’s done. I figure, Phylicia Rashad has as much right as anyone to support her friend, Bill Cosby, even though it may turn out that her public support of Cosby will make it impossible for her to do her job as a university dean. But not being able to do her job should be why she gets fired… not what she tweets on social media. At this point, it’s not yet clear if she’s now incapable of doing her job. I, for one, think Rashad should have the chance to redeem herself.

Standard
bad TV, complaints, condescending twatbags, modern problems, politics

Canceling Pepe Le Pew really stinks…

You know, I’ve been eagerly awaiting new leadership in the United States. For the past four years, we’ve had a bonafide sex offender in the White House, embarrassing and humiliating Americans around the globe. Donald Trump is, without a doubt, someone who truly ought to be canceled. This is a man who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy. In his first divorce trial, his first wife Ivana described a disturbing incident in which he forced himself on her sexually. And there are COUNTLESS accusations from women over decades accusing Trump of molesting them. One disclosure famously came from a woman named Katie who claims that she was raped by Trump as a teenager at Jeffrey Epstein’s house of horrors. Just today, in my Facebook memories, there was an article from 2017 about some of the horrible “rapey” things Donald Trump has said.

Thank God Trump didn’t win a second term in the White House. I know a lot of people are upset about it. I’m sure many of those people don’t believe the dozens of women who have accused Trump of assault. Even though Trump has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself, these folks are doggedly still supporting him. And he’s still in the news as he does what he can to run decent Republicans out of office so he can hijack the party and turn it into Trumpism.

We should probably be focusing on getting rid of Trump. We should be focusing on getting rid of COVID-19. But what are a surprising number of people upset about right now? Pepe Le Pew. They say he needs to be canceled because he’s “rapey”.

When I was growing up, I used to watch the French skunk on Saturday morning cartoons. The running gag was that the amorous skunk wanted to make sweet love to a cat (a pussy)? He’d grab her and snuggle with her, kissing her without consent, not taking “no” for an answer, and being relentless in his pursuit of her.

Yikes!

I’m not saying this is behavior anyone should be modeling. As a kid, Pepe’s cartoons weren’t my favorites. I didn’t like the Road Runner either, or Speedy Gonzales. I was more of a fan of The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, and Bugs Bunny. But I never thought of Pepe Le Pew as “rapey”. I always figured the pussy cat didn’t want to get with him because he stank. As I got older, I forgot all about him. But now Pepe’s in the news, mainly because The New York Times ran an op-ed by columnist Charles M. Blow entitled “Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias”.

Blow’s column was in response to the recent decision by the company that publishes Dr. Seuss’s books that six titles would no longer be made available because they include “racist and insensitive imagery”. In a statement, a spokesperson said that the six offending books “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Blow was cheering on the decision, and in his piece, had referenced cartoons that a lot of us had grown up with, saying they had promoted ideas that were wrong. From Blow’s op-ed:

Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture; Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans; and Mammy Two Shoes, a heavyset Black maid who spoke in a heavy accent.

A lot of people are upset that six of Dr. Seuss’s books are going to go out of print. Many people bemoaned “cancel culture”. To be honest, I am personally not a fan of cancel culture myself. I am uncomfortable with whitewashing history, burying language, and political correctness run amok. However, I think it’s absolutely fine to recognize that some relics of the past are hurtful and stop highlighting them in popular culture, and I don’t think the decision made by the publishers of Dr. Seuss’s books is necessarily “cancellation”, per se. I think it was more likely a business decision.

Hey– this issue is inspiring talented people, even though I don’t quite agree with this dude’s take on it. He plays guitar well, though, and his message resonates with the salt of the Earth types who never went to college.

However… I do think it’s absolutely crazy that people are calling for Pepe Le Pew, a cartoon character from decades ago, to be canceled. I really do. Because we’re talking about a fucking cartoon character, not a real person. Less than three months ago, a legitimate sex offender was running the country and influencing the free world. Many people are still cheering him on. He almost won a second term in office. Why the fuck are we up in arms over a cartoon skunk from the 1940s?

“They’re gonna keep the fuckin’ real ones!”

It reminds me of a classic George Carlin rant from the late 1980s, in which he went off about all of the ludicrous inconsistencies in American culture. In the above clip, he reminds us that gun shop owners have a list of stolen credit cards, but not a list of criminals and maniacs. And he adds, “now they’re thinking of banning toy guns… but they’re gonna keep the fuckin’ real ones!”

As usual, Carlin was right.

That rant was from 1988, and I can remember watching 90s and 00s era shows like 7th Heaven, in which the characters Ruthie and Simon aren’t allowed to play a game called “Baboom” or play with toy guns, and yet look at all of the shootings we’ve had since the late 1990s! To be sure, having grown up in a relatively innocent time, never having had to confront a security guard at school and seeing my classmates bringing their hunting rifles on school grounds, we didn’t worry about random acts of violence like we do now. And yet in those days, people weren’t trying to cancel things because they were politically incorrect. Or, at least a lot fewer people were trying to do it.

Does cancel culture really work? I don’t know that it does. I think it makes some things “forbidden fruit”. I’ll bet the six Dr. Seuss books that are no longer going to available are in high demand on eBay and Amazon now. In fact, last night as I was looking for something to watch, I noticed one of the trending shows on iTunes was a show that highlighted Pepe LePew’s cartoons! I haven’t thought or cared about Pepe LePew in probably 40 years. But suddenly, he’s relevant again, because people are calling for him to be “canceled”.

I honestly think a lot of the reason why so many conservatives are resistant to liberal ideas is because a lot of liberals come across as heavy handed, all knowing, and insulting. Which is not to say that the conservatives aren’t guilty of the same thing. Read any article about abortion, women’s rights, or the rights of LGBTQ people and you’ll read a lot of insulting, heavy handed, and just plain offensive conservative opinions. But liberals do the same thing, shaming conservatives for liking things like Pepe Le Pew, or The Dukes of Hazzard, or certain books by Dr. Seuss. At the same time, they tout themselves as being better people and look down on those who don’t agree with them. They show no willingness to understand why some people agree with conservative views. Instead, they simply mock them, and the conservatives respond in kind, and we have an “us versus them” situation. No understanding is ever reached; therefore, we can’t be open-minded and come together to accomplish things that will make the country better for EVERYONE. To me, it makes no fucking sense.

I’ll be honest, too. I’m a lot less concerned about certain offensive words and symbols than I am the dangerous and influential people behind those words and symbols. I grew up watching racist cartoons on a Christian television station. I was once a dedicated fan of The Dukes of Hazzard. I grew up in a place where people proudly displayed the Confederate flag. I even went to graduate school in a place where that flag flew over the Statehouse and I could see it from my window… at least until it was finally removed from the dome in 2000 and removed from the Statehouse grounds fifteen years later. I’m not saying it wasn’t time for the flag to come down. I’m not even saying that it’s wrong for the Confederate statues to come down. But I think the outrage some people have over those symbols is way out of sync with the real causes of the problem– that is, dealing with the negative attitudes and stereotypes that promote them. It’s a lot easier to cancel inanimate objects, though, than it is to deal with real people who make those items relevant.

In my view, someone like Donald Trump should have NEVER been allowed to run for president, for the very fact that he bragged about molesting women, was sued for racial discrimination, and has a long history of being a fucking creep. Put it this way. If he were going for a regular government position, he wouldn’t pass muster. He wouldn’t be able to get a security clearance. And after the attacks on the Capitol in January, we can see why he wouldn’t. But instead of STOPPING Trump and his cronies, we’re spending precious time and energy talking about Pepe Le Pew and Dr. Seuss. It’s ridiculous!

Look… at this point, I simply want things to get to a point at which we can have some semblance of peace and normalcy. I want to be able to go downtown and not worry about getting deathly ill. I want my husband to be home with me. I want my president to be a normal person who cares about the people he’s (or she’s) serving. I want to be able to go to a concert or a mall sans face mask, and without worry that someone will randomly shoot me. I want to be able to seek healthcare without worrying about going bankrupt. It would be nice if I could find a job with a living wage, if I needed to. I want all of those things for everybody else, as well.

ALL of those things are a hell of a lot more important to me, personally, than Pepe Le Pew’s rapey tendencies circa 1945. I don’t remember reading a lot of Dr. Seuss’s books when I was a child, although I do distinctly remember reading “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street”, which was included in a book of stories I inherited from my older sisters. I was influenced by all kinds of questionable things in the media that many people worry will warp kids and ruin them. I’ll be honest. Having been around for going on 49 years, I don’t think this practice of canceling words, symbols, books, movies, tv shows, music, and cartoon characters has done anything to keep kids from being more fucked up than they were in my adolescence. If anything, I think things have gotten markedly worse than they were back then. Maybe we should rethink trying to change people’s beliefs and thoughts and do more to make life better and more fair for everyone… and keep narcissistic rapey assholes out of the White House, rather than banning fictional French cartoon skunks who sexually harass cartoon cats… Hey, at least Pepe wasn’t biased against different species, right? He has that going for him.

Standard