It’s Sunday morning, so I think I’ll write a post about wacky social media posts by Christians that go viral. Why is it that Jesus loving, God fearing, Christian types are so often white males who want to declare everything fun and fantastic as evil and satanic?
Yesterday morning, as I was cracking open my bloodshot blue eyes for the first time of the day, I opened Facebook and noticed that a college friend had commented on a viral post. My friend had written her reaction to a picture of a plastic toy that was put in a “Sonic Wacky Pack” for a Mississippi man’s daughter. The Mississippian father, name of James Charles Phillips, had written a lengthy post about how his daughter felt that the toy “felt evil”. Because her father has obviously indoctrinated her with right wing religious bullshit, the child was afraid of the fluorescent green spoon, modeled after the scepter carried by Masters of the Universe character, Skeletor. She threw it out of her dad’s truck… evidently opting to litter and befouling God’s beautiful creation, Planet Earth. How very Christian.
I decided to share the post with the comment, “This is fucking stupid.” At this point, a number of my friends are laughing with me about this guy’s wackaloon post about the evil spoon from Sonic. Some have agreed with me that this man’s post is also kind of skeevy, since it’s a dad praising his good little daughter for recognizing a piece of plastic as “evil”. One friend pictured the guy wearing a MAGA hat. Another said she got “Jim Bob” vibes, as if the daughter is his property.
My first thought, upon looking at the “scary and satanic” spoon, was that the top of it reminded me of a woman’s reproductive system. Maybe dad was skeeved out because the horns on the scepter look like fallopian tubes. They live in Mississippi, and that’s a place where a woman’s reproductive rights are likely to be stripped away any day now.
I was curious about this guy, so I went to the original post. I noticed that, at this writing, he has well over 16,000 followers on his Facebook page. Who in the hell is he to have so many followers? Especially since he doesn’t write particularly well and lives in Mississippi? So I did a Google search, and discovered Revival in Courage, a Web site that is connected to him. Weirdly enough, the site appears to be based in North Carolina, but when I read the description of the self-described “Constitutional Cowboy”, and look at the person in the pictures, I’m pretty sure it’s the same dude. A link to his very public Facebook page confirms it.
Mr. Phillips appears to be a political activist, who does “motivational speaking and teaching”. He served in the United States Marines, and raises Longhorn cattle and “nine little patriots” with his “bride” on their farm. I looked around the site and wasn’t surprised to find that it’s basically advertising right wing political beliefs, with dire warnings about the United States’s inexorable slide into communism. Once again, I can only shake my head at the lunacy. I don’t think this dude even knows what communism is.
From what I can see on their home page, members of the Revival in Courage group believe that public health mandates are left wing strategies to take away our liberties as Americans. They deny that COVID-19 is a public health emergency, and that ivermectin really does effectively treat the virus. They are vehemently against wearing face masks, and they’re especially against children being required to wear masks.
They are against vaccines for children, even going so far as connecting them to abortion and declaring them “genocidal”. Naturally, they’re against abortion, and want it completely abolished.
This group believes that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” and the results were fraudulent.
This group is against gay pride, and gay rights. They are for forcing children in school to pray and read the Bible, even though not everyone is Christian. They think the schools are full of “filth”… I guess things like the satanic Skeletor spoon from Sonic are “filthy”, as is any discussion of sex education, any books that might actually give children liberal ideas or help them think critically.
I see that this group deems itself “patriotic”, and refers to members as “patriots” and “minutemen”. And, looking under the speakers tab, I see there’s a list of people– James Charles Phillips among them– who are promoting the idea that they can “save” America from liberals who want to “take away their rights”. One of the speakers is Dr. Jeffrey Barke, who wrote a book titled Covid-19: A Physician’s Take on the Exaggerated Fear of the Coronavirus. The book actually gets pretty good ratings on Amazon, probably because it caters to the many people in the United States who are frighteningly wedded to the extremely conservative “Trumpian” mindset. However, there are only five reviews posted, so my guess is that the ratings are inflated.
I’m sitting here amazed, since a viral Facebook post written by some religious wingnut with extremely right wing ideas, has caused me to fall down yet another rabbit hole, when I could be reading Jennifer Grey’s life story. Still, I was amused by the many posts on the guy’s Facebook page. A lot of people were telling him, in no uncertain profane terms, how fucking stupid this is… and how he shouldn’t be teaching his children to be so terrified of plastic spoons that look like women’s reproductive organs and glow in the dark. In fact, many people have rightly called what this dad is doing as emotional abuse. Isn’t life scary enough without kids being afraid of satanic influences at Sonic? I guess it’s only Chick-Fil-A for this guy’s family from now on, since he’s so afraid of his kids being desensitized and influenced by evil demons at Sonic. If you have some spare time and need a laugh, I recommend reading some of the comments. They’re hilarious. Many people are pointing out that it’s just a plastic spoon!
Mr. Phillips has even posted a video in which he calmly tries to explain himself… I’m not sure he quite makes the mark with what he said in the video. I’m not going to post it here, but it’s on his Facebook page, and at this writing, is still public. He doesn’t sound like Marguerite Perrin of Trading Spouses, at least… but like her, he probably thinks tarot cards and gargoyles are “dark sided” and satanic. What a bunch of nonsense.
On a more serious note, though… I am a bit scared of these crazy right wing nutters who think they need to “save America” from communism. These people have the unfortunate combination of inherent stupidity, hyper-religiosity, no critical thinking skills, and no experience beyond what they’ve known their whole lives. Add in their love of weapons, and you have people who really could make America a dystopia akin to Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale. Now, to me, that is scarier than Satan ever could be…
It’s quite understandable that a lot of people are still expressing outrage and grief over the most recent school shootings in Uvalde, Texas. I have a lot of friends who are teachers, and every day, they face the reality of school shootings in the United States. I also come from Gloucester, Virginia, a rural, southern, down home kind of town, which means that I’m affiliated with a lot of southern, conservative, White people. Some of them are still my friends, even though I departed the Republican mindset a long time ago. Some are my relatives. And some are friends of friends.
A couple of years ago, a woman with whom I went to high school died. Her death was during the thick of the pandemic, although she did not die because of COVID. The way I understand it, a few years ago, she had been in a car accident that caused significant injuries. Infection somehow set in as she was healing, and it never completely went away. The infection eventually got out of control, and she went septic, which caused her death.
I remember this woman in high school, as we ran in peripheral circles. The last thing I remember of her when I knew her, was when she sang a song called “Love Will Be Our Home” at a talent show. At the time, I wasn’t a singer myself. I remember her telling everyone that she was nervous, just before she sang her song in what I thought was a pretty soprano voice. Years later, I was surprised when I heard of her death. Then I noticed where she was living. Her husband, who also went to our high school, evidently was originally from Lexington, Virginia, which is about ten miles from where my parents grew up. It’s also the town where Bill and I got married in 2002.
My high school classmate and her husband, also apparently a classmate, though I don’t remember him, were making their home in tiny Natural Bridge, Virginia, which was where my dad grew up, and where I still have lots of relatives. I never knew we had this connection. I remember that when my classmate died, there wasn’t enough money for her funeral. I donated a couple hundred bucks to her family’s GoFundMe to help bury her, even though we weren’t really friends. No one ever said “Thanks” or anything, which is no big deal, I guess. I’m sure they were overwhelmed by the sudden and tragic loss, and the fact that they weren’t able to be with her when she died, thanks to COVID precautions.
And what has this got to do with my opening paragraph? Bear with me.
One of my friends from my hometown, now a schoolteacher in North Carolina, is absolutely devastated by the school shootings in Uvalde. Even as someone who isn’t a teacher, and doesn’t have children, I am sickened and horrified by the details coming out about this terrifying event. What makes an 18 year old teenager so consumed with rage, hatred, and contempt for others that he storms into a school and kills innocent children and teachers? The colossal mistakes, made by law enforcement who failed to act decisively, are especially egregious. The more I hear about what went wrong, the angrier I feel for the victims, and the sadder I feel for the people who were left behind. This shit has been going on for over 20 years! When is it going to stop? When are we going to learn from these dreadful events and do something that STOPS angry boys from getting access to weapons and killing innocent people?
My friend, the teacher, posted the photo below.
A couple of her like minded friends added their agreement to the above sentiment. I’ve been saying this myself. How can our government presume to force people to have babies when they don’t want to be pregnant? But then, we do NOTHING to make sure those babies grow up into functioning adults? It makes no sense. And then I saw this beaut of a comment, made by the husband of our classmate, who died a couple of years ago… this guy, living in my father’s hometown, who needed GoFundMe to pay for his wife’s burial. This is the exchange they had:
Wow… First off, what he wrote is kind of hard to decipher. I think what he’s saying is that he thinks having access to weapons keeps people “free”. But how free are you, if you constantly have to worry about your child being blown up by a crazed, angry, 18 year old kid with a semiautomatic rifle? How free are you, if you only feel safe when you’re packing heat, even if you’re at church or shopping for groceries?
He also seems to think that we should just accept that people are going to be violently killed, because “people have been killing people forever”. So, he thinks that we should all be able to arm ourselves, so that when some nut with a gun comes at us, which is, according to him, “the way of the world”, we might have a prayer of killing them before they kill us. Next, he seems to think that the fact that more people are realizing that violent discipline methods, such as “whopping ass” (as he puts it), aren’t very effective and cause children to suffer psychological damage, is actually making people more violent. Because what we really need, when we’re much younger and smaller than the adults in our lives, is someone to knock the hell out of us. That, according to this mental giant, is the way to “instill respect”. Jesus Christ.
I really felt like responding to him. I wanted to say, “Careful, guy… your ‘Q’ is showing…” But I didn’t want to get into an argument on my friend’s page. I also didn’t think it would accomplish anything, other than make a few people laugh. As we have all found out with heartbreaking clarity this week, life is SHORT. It’s a lot shorter for some people, than it is for others of us. And I don’t have time to argue with idiots who can’t or won’t be convinced that their logic is seriously flawed.
I already annoy enough people on Facebook, particularly when I disagree with them or point out logic failures. One lady named Miriam got annoyed with me last night, because I disagreed with her comparison of ultra pious people, like the Duggars, to kids in high school who take harder classes. She wrote that she gets a kick out of seeing religious people get knocked off their high horses. I can see that. It is kind of satisfying when people like Josh Duggar, who presume to try to tell other people how to live, and preach to them about family values and so-called “high Christian lifestyle standards”, turn out to be lying hypocrites.
But I disagreed with the analogy she made– and she specifically stated that this was her analogy. She likened upstanding Christian types, like Josh Duggar, holding themselves out to be above reproach as needing to adhere to higher standards. Like high school students taking AP courses. The work is harder, so smarmy religious people who think their shit doesn’t stink need to “step up”. When they fail, it’s kind of satisfying to see. But do we like to see brave high school students fail when they try something harder? I hope not.
That comparison struck me as nonsensical. Hardworking high school students should be encouraged to take harder classes. They should be commended for challenging themselves, and trying to get a better education, especially if they are blessed with a fine intellect. Yes, the work is more difficult, and the expectations are higher, but there are rewards for that kind of hard work.
Besides, most people I know with keen intellects are not ultra religious or pious; that is the opposite of being logical, right? On the other hand, it doesn’t take a great brain to accept some of the batshit religious dogma peddled by fundie Christians and their ilk. A lot of weak people, looking for a blueprint to Heaven, will swallow all kinds of ridiculous bullshit to achieve what they think will be that end. So to me, comparing ultra pious people to high school students taking harder classes is a poor analogy, and I dared to say so.
Her snippy reply to me was, “It was an analogy, Jenny.”
To which I responded, “Okay, Miriam.” Because I didn’t feel the need to argue with her. I thought her analogy made little sense. Maybe I could have couched my comment in some nice, flabby language to comfort her ego more, but as I just wrote a few paragraphs ago, LIFE IS SHORT. It’s much too short for that mess.
In light of that exchange with Miriam, and knowing how I tend to get carried away with overthinking when I engage in those kinds of discussions, I decided to exercise some self-discipline. I didn’t engage the Q guy from my hometown, who now lives in my dad’s hometown, and is pretty much EXACTLY like the people I know from both places… including people in my own family. I know, by this point, that trying to discuss these things with them is pointless, and will only lead to pain and frustration.
I can understand why a lot of conservative people don’t like liberals. Liberals can be condescending and rude, and some of them lack any understanding for what the “salt of the earth” types live with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a lot of conservative people, who are also sometimes lacking tact, have poor or absent critical thinking skills. They mostly just think about what affects them. They don’t often consider how thinking about all people can make things better, and safer, for everyone.
Like, for instance, the “Q” guy quoted above, who needed a GoFundMe campaign to pay for his wife’s burial, and didn’t even think to say “Thank you” to those who donated. That guy is probably against welfare. He probably doesn’t like the idea of universal healthcare. He’s probably pro-life, and he’s definitely pro-gun. He sees these ideas as just and moral… we should all be responsible for ourselves. The government needs to stay out of it. Except public safety is certainly within the domain of the government. Especially if the government expects to force women to stay pregnant and birth babies. I wonder if the government is going to force women to take care of themselves while they’re pregnant… or even capable of being pregnant. It makes little sense to me that some people will do ANYTHING to stop women from accessing abortion services, but once that baby is born, they don’t want to do ANYTHING to make sure the baby turns into a beloved child, a happy teenager, and a healthy adult, who is ready to have a career and a family.
Nope… I think a lot of these Q types are interested mostly in controlling women, and making more babies for fundies to indoctrinate into religion and conservatism. It’s disgusting, and it’s quite frankly, deadly. I will end today’s post by encouraging everybody to have a look at the video below, posted by Fundie Fridays.
I wanted to also include an excellent video made by Dr. Les Carter of Surviving Narcissism. I watched it yesterday, and I thought it was very insightful. He talked about his frustration as a mental health professional, watching how our system emboldens people like Salvador Ramos. Unfortunately, Dr. Carter made the video private. I guess he got some heated comments, or maybe YouTube flagged it. It’s a shame. I really appreciated his thoughts on this crisis we’re all experiencing. Maybe he’ll repost it at some point. Or maybe not. I’m glad I watched it, though. Since that video isn’t available anymore, here’s one Mr. Atheist did. I think he did a good job with his video about the school shootings.
Other than that, I wish you a pleasant and safe Saturday… may God protect you and yours from the likes of gun toting whack jobs and perverts.
Today’s featured photo is of Josh’s booking photo at the county jail. Pretty soon, he will be trading in that county jail cell for a prison cell.
Apologies in advance for writing about Josh Duggar again. I feel like there’s so much else I should be able and willing to write about today, but I can’t seem to settle on a topic. And I know that people are following the Duggars, plus for some reason, I am still marginally interested in them.
Back on December 9, 2021, Josh Duggar was found guilty of repeatedly downloading and viewing child pornography. Since then, he has been held in administrative segregation at the local jail in Washington County, Arkansas, as he awaits sentencing for his crimes by a federal judge. At this writing, Josh’s date with destiny is April 5, 2022. Originally, it was said that he could get up to 40 years in prison, but the reality is, he’ll probably get no more than 25 years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets less than that. And that’s even though Josh was looking at some of the worst stuff seasoned investigators had ever seen. He’s relatively wealthy, and prior to this, did not officially have a police record. Of course, everybody knows that his issues were a problem for many years before he finally got busted.
Josh is currently being held in solitary confinement, in part, to protect him from anyone who would want to hurt him. Josh Duggar is famous, smug, and has been convicted of charges that involve sexually abusing children. A lot of inmates would probably enjoy beating the shit out of him. I suspect a lot of people who aren’t incarcerated would also like to kick his ass. But it’s better that he’s held away from others, because knocking the hell out of him is really not worth taking on legal charges. Like it or not, Josh still has basic human rights, and beating him up or killing him is still against the law. But I won’t be surprised if Josh spends a lot of time alone, once he’s sentenced. That will be difficult.
Yesterday, I read a story about a man in Texas named Dennis Hope, who has been in solitary confinement for 27 years. His crime? A string of armed robberies. He went to prison in 1990, and was sentenced to 80 years. In 1994, he managed to escape, and was on the run for two months before he was recaptured. From then on, he has been kept in solitary confinement. Hope is now 53 years old, which means that he’s spent over half his life with very little human contact. He hasn’t received a personal phone call since 2013, when his mother died. His only contact with other people is when guards come and handcuff him, then take him to an exercise yard, where he can spend an hour, alone. This is his life, even though in 2005, he was deemed no longer an escape risk.
Many people seem to feel that Mr. Hope’s lengthy sojourn in solitary is fitting, and he should not have committed the crimes he did if he didn’t want to be kept in such harsh conditions. However, my personal belief is that Hope’s lengthy stay in solitary is cruel and unjust, and I would really like to see prison reform in American prisons. Like it or not, prisoners are people, too. Hope has sued the state of Texas, and last month, asked the Supreme Court to consider whether such prolonged isolation violates the Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishments.
I think a lot of people who aren’t in prison, or don’t have loved ones in prison, never consider just how horrifying and demeaning the experience is. While I would never say that I think prison should be “pleasant”, I do think some of the procedures I have read and heard about, done in the name of security, safety, and punishment, are inhumane. For instance, when prisoners are transported, they are cuffed, shackled, and usually have to wear a black box on the cuffs, which hold the arms rigid. They get boxed food, and sit for many hours on buses, in vans, or on airplanes. They aren’t allowed to use the toilet, which causes accidents. For security reasons, they aren’t allowed to know when they will be moved. Do I think prisoners should be getting luxury transportation? No, of course not. But I do think their transportation should be more humane. No one should be forced to sit for hours in urine or feces because restroom stops aren’t allowed. People who aren’t violent shouldn’t be forced to wear restraints that physically injure them for hours on end.
As far as Josh is concerned, yes, I think he needs to go to prison. I hope he will get some form of treatment for his obvious issues. I did read a comment from someone who wrote that she hoped the court would “make an example out of him.” Sadly, I doubt that it would make any difference to most sex offenders how long Josh goes to prison. A long and harsh sentence for Josh Duggar will not deter them from their perversions. We’re talking about fighting against a very strong drive. Sex is a very strong drive– like eating and drinking and sleeping. And some people, I’m afraid, simply aren’t wired in a way that makes them curable. But maybe they can be treated, and the more we know about what makes sex offenders tick, the more likely the treatment could have some kind of positive effect.
Even though I think Josh Duggar has done vile things, and is a lying, abusive, scumbag, I still wouldn’t wish for him to be beaten up or murdered. I think he, and other inmates, should be handled professionally and humanely. Treating prisoners like dangerous animals just makes them more dangerous, especially if there is any chance that they will one day walk the streets again. Josh will probably one day get out of prison. So, it’s in our best interests to see that he gets out as mentally healthy as possible. The world doesn’t need another violent sex offender on the streets. Unfortunately, I think that even if and when he does get out, providing he survives prison, he will eventually go back. Sex offenders are notorious for recidivism.
It will be interesting to see where Josh does his time. Federal prisons do have some facilities that offer sex offender treatment. There are two federal facilities in Texas that offer treatment; they are the closest to Arkansas. I would hope the Bureau of Prisons would send Josh to treatment, but whether or not they will do that, I don’t know. I assume they would, but you know what happens when one assumes. According to this link, the inmate has to volunteer for treatment. I’m sure where he ends up will depend on whether or not space is available for him, and his own security and treatment needs. He could go anywhere. I have also read that getting treatment in prison can lead to unexpected and unpleasant consequences. So we’ll see where that goes.
The Duggar family is a prime example of how pursuing fame and fortune, especially on reality TV, can lead to unexpected consequences. Their earliest specials are on YouTube. Who would have thought back in 2004, the eldest son, who spoke so easily and wore khaki pants and polo shirts, would wind up sitting in prison. He had already molested his sisters by the time that show aired. His parents knew he had problems. Nevertheless, for seventeen years since the first special aired, he’s been a ticking time bomb. I wonder if Jim Bob and Michelle are still feeling like God has blessed them…
In other fundie news…
I’m only mentioning this because I’ve already written about Josh today, and the people involved are Josh’s relatives by marriage. Josh’s wife Anna’s brother, Nathan Keller, and his wife, Nurie (Rodrigues) Keller, were recently in a pretty bad car accident. They had their infant son with them. Evidently, none of them were seriously hurt, but Nathan was cited because his son, who was born in October 2021, was not properly secured.
Nurie’s mom, Jill Rodrigues, took to social media to extol God’s love and mercy that her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson weren’t injured or killed. Jill has a sister, and her husband, David, has a brother, who can no longer walk because they were injured in car accidents. Jill’s sister is a quadriplegic, and David’s brother is in a wheelchair. I suppose safety isn’t a priority in these families. They leave it up to God. It’s more important for them to hang around other believers who don’t influence them to use the brains God gave them, than it is to practice common sense interventions like using car seats and seatbelts… Even though I hate seatbelts, Bill turns into Pat Boone if I don’t wear them. 😉
Well… at least they weren’t seriously hurt this time. But I sure hope they’ve learned a valuable lesson and do better next time they transport their precious cargo. Otherwise, it might be time for them to meet the Lord sooner than they otherwise might have.
That about does it for today. Time to play my guitar and read more of my latest book.
The featured photo is a screenshot from Greg Locke’s book burning video on YouTube.
Last night, I finished reading Maus, the graphic novel by Art Spiegelman that the McMinn County School Board of Tennessee decided to remove from its curriculum for eighth grade students last month. As I have mentioned in several recent posts about Maus, I had not heard of this brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning work until it made the news. It was originally published in its entirety in 1991, having taken Spiegelman thirteen years of work to complete. Portions of the book were published sooner than 1991, with comic strips having been published in the defunct magazine, Raw. I mentioned yesterday that the first volume of Maus was published in 1986. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until Maus was banned by a school board that I finally decided to read it. I’m so glad I did that. I have the good people of McMinn County, Tennessee’s board of education to thank for that, as their decision to ban Maus only made it more attractive to me.
Yesterday, my friend Mary Beth commented that she, too, has ordered a copy of Maus to read. She read one of my blog posts about it and discussed book banning with her fifteen year old son. It turns out Mary Beth’s boy is a World War II buff, and Maus is about The Holocaust. When Mary Beth told her son that Maus is a graphic novel, meaning that there are many comic styled pictures, he asked her if he could read it. Mary Beth agreed, and she says they will read the book together.
I passed my copy of the book to Bill, and now he’s just started reading Maus. By my count, that’s already four people who have decided to read a book that school board members in Tennessee have opted to ban. Remember when I wrote about the Streisand effect? Looks like it’s happening. Maus is selling like gangbusters, and lots of people are reading it and passing it on to others. We have Tennessee to thank for that. In a way, those school board members are inadvertently educating people well beyond the borders of McMinn County. In their attempts to quash a remarkable work of literature, the school board has only made it much more popular. Mary Beth says that Maus is still backordered. I see on Amazon.de, it’s no longer backordered, but there aren’t many available copies. It may not be long before Maus is out of stock again.
How did I like the book? I loved it. But it wasn’t just because of the story about The Holocaust. I’ve read a lot of books about The Holocaust, most of which were non-fiction accounts of people who experienced prison camps. What set Maus apart from those books, besides the fact that it’s done in comic strips, was the way Spiegelman managed to capture his father, Vladek, and how his experiences during World War II changed him. First, there was the syntax of Vladek’s speech. Spiegelman managed to capture the broken English that often comes from non-native speakers. One thing I’ve noticed, living in Germany, is that a lot of Germans are quite fluent in English. But sometimes, in spite of knowing English well, their syntax is like it would be if they were speaking German. They use certain expressions and constructions that English speakers don’t typically use. For instance, I notice that a lot of Germans say or write “therefore” and “already” more than Americans do. Or they say things like, “I don’t dare to” instead of “I don’t dare”, or they write “who”, instead of “whoever or whomever”. I remember hearing a German tour guide say, “Who wants to go to the WC can do so now.” A native English speaker would phrase it differently.
Likewise, Art Spiegelman manages to capture the voice of someone who isn’t a native English speaker. He had a lot of experience listening to his father, so he knew just how his dad would put things. He doesn’t write the dialogue the way an American would speak, even though his father spoke English from even before the war. He writes it the way a Polish person would speak English. That technique made Vladek come alive for me. I could practically hear his voice in my head as I read. Not only did I hear his voice, but I could imagine the mood, as if I had him in my head, speaking aloud.
Art Spiegelman also captures many of the quirks that would come from someone who had experienced the trauma of losing everything and being force to live on whatever he could find. As I mentioned earlier, I have read a lot of Holocaust stories. One common thread is that many people who survived the Holocaust could not bear to see things wasted. I read one Holocaust account by a man who used to get furious at his children when they turned their noses up at food that was offered to them. Likewise, Vladek Spiegelman drove his son crazy because he could not throw things away… except things that really were priceless. Vladek throws away Art’s mother’s precious diaries when he has a bad day. But he collects odds and ends– piece of wire, scraps of paper, used nails. He is extremely miserly and doesn’t want to hire anyone to help him with odd jobs around the house, even though he’s not capable of doing the work that needs to be done. Instead, he asks Art to help him, even though Art is busy with his own life and isn’t particularly as handy as Vladek was forced to become. Even as Art expresses annoyance at frustration with his father and his father’s constant demands and idiosyncrasies, his love and concern for Vladek comes through in a moving way.
I think the very truthful interactions between father and son, depicted as mice and rendered in illustrations, are what really touched my heart. There are also elements in humor in Maus that make it less grim than it could have been, even though there are many sad and tragic events in the story. There was so much loss and grief that came from The Holocaust, and yet sometimes there were happy and even humorous moments that kept the human spirit alive. The people who managed to survive the camps and lived to tell their tales were endowed with resilience and luck. Or maybe they weren’t actually the luckiest ones. Art’s mother, Vladek’s first wife, Anja, couldn’t cope. She committed suicide in 1968, and Vladek remarried another Holocaust survivor, Nala, who constantly complained about Vladek’s quirks.
I’m happy that I read Maus. I’m glad others will read it. I’m heartened to know that I influenced at least three people to read the book through my blog, even as I was influenced to read it because some people in Tennessee decided it should be banned. It just goes to show that actions have consequences, but sometimes the consequences turn out to be good things. As I sit here marveling at what I’ve just read, again, courtesy of a school board in right wing Tennessee, I also shake my head at the news that came out of Mount Juliet, Tennessee yesterday. “Pastor” Greg Locke, head of Global Vision Bible Church, is in the news again. This time, it’s because he hosted a massive book burning last week.
I’ve written about Greg Locke a couple of times. A few years ago, when I was still running my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife, I wrote about how Greg Locke cried on camera after he got disgraced in the wake of divorcing his wife after cheating on her with her best friend. Locke called adult film star Stormy Daniels a “hooker”, as he reminded everyone that Trump was still president. I reposted that entry from 2018 last summer, when Locke was in the news again. In July 2021, Locke was in the news again for demanding that his followers attend services unmasked. Locke vowed to kick out anyone in his congregation who showed up wearing a face mask. Then, halfway through one of his videos, Locke launches into an absolutely bat shit crazy anti-liberal rant.
Well, Greg Locke is in the news again because last Wednesday, he invited followers to burn their copies of Twilight and Harry Potter books. Locke claims that the books, as well as any young adult fantasy books, tarot cards, crystals, and voodoo dolls, are of the occult. Locke said,
“Bring all your Harry Potter stuff. Laugh all you want haters. I don’t care. IT’S WITCHCRAFT 100 PERCENT,” Locke said in an Instagram post Monday. “All you [sic] ‘Twilight’ books and movies. That mess is full of spells, demonism, shape-shifting and occultism.”
Why anyone with sense listens to this hateful moron, I will never know. But again, it’s Tennessee, land of Trump love. I mentioned in previous posts that these are the people who clutch their pearls at the word “God damn” in Maus, but will enthusiastically endorse a man who obviously disdains the poor and brags about sexually abusing women. They claim to love Jesus Christ, and yet they behave in ways that are not Christ-like. And they denounce books about supernatural fantasies and creatures, as they believe in the Bible, which is full of stories about violence and supernatural occurrences, and has led to many people being killed in gruesome ways. See Maus for a lesson on that, as Jewish people died for their beliefs.
I was glad to read that there were counterprotestors who showed up at Locke’s book burning. At least one person threw a Bible into the fire. It’s not that I support burning books of any kind, nor am I an atheist. I just think book burning and banning is stupid, and simply leads to the dumbing down of populations. And as I learn more about what’s going on in Tennessee, I realize that in a way, it’s kind of a sophomoric place. You know that word, sophomore, right? It stems from Greek. The word is a blend of sophos, which means “clever or wise”, and moros, which means “moron or fool”. The news out of Tennessee has made me smarter and enriched my life by prompting me to read Maus. And it’s also making me shake my head as I consider the stupidity of a supposed “man of God” live streaming his event that highlights burning books.
“We have a constitutional right and a Biblical right to do what we’re going to do tonight,” Locke said in the livestreamed video. “We have a burn permit, but even without one a church has a religious right to burn occultic materials that they deem are a threat to their religious rights and freedoms and belief systems.”
Indeed… and how interesting that this comes up now, as Tennessee has made news over Maus, a wonderful book about a man’s experiences in The Holocaust. Many people who heard about Greg Locke’s book burning were reminded of Nazi Germany, where books were routinely burned. It’s no secret that Greg Locke is a huge supporter of Donald Trump and his ilk. And it’s not lost on me that Trump works a room much like Hitler did, back in the day.
I know people get offended by the comparison of Trump to Hitler. They think it cheapens the horrors that people like Vladek Spiegelman endured in the 1940s. But dammit, Hitler didn’t start his madness by murdering people. He started by whipping up “us vs. them” sentiments and hatred, promoting other-ism and ignorance, and making people think they had the right to be destructive and divisive. Hitler got his start by throwing a figurative lit match into a seething inferno of disenfranchised people who feared losing power and were pushed to the point of murdering those people they considered “undesirable” in the most vicious, horrifying, and brutal of ways.
I really hope an event like The Holocaust doesn’t happen again, but when I read stories like the ones that have been coming out of the United States lately, it really makes me fear for the future. I worry so much about where our country is going, as obviously terrible people like Donald Trump are put in power. Otherwise decent people ignore how terrible he is, just because they get a few extra bucks in their paychecks and, maybe, a lower gas bill at the pump. They ignore his history of fucking people over and being hateful to anyone who doesn’t do his bidding. But what makes me even more frightened is that even if Trump isn’t re-elected, there is no doubt someone younger, more handsome, and much more intelligent waiting in the wings for the right time to emerge. And people like Greg Locke’s followers will be all too ready to embrace that person.
Don’t believe me? Consider that Adolf Hitler got his ideas about The Holocaust after seeing how the world ignored the Armenian Genocide. Armenia, as you know, also has a place in my heart due to the two years I spent there. I had never heard of the Genocide before I lived in Armenia. I now live in Germany, where Hitler carried out his monstrous plans for world domination. If we don’t learn from the atrocities in history, we are doomed to repeat them. See below:
I hope that people will remain vigilant and keep reading good books… and not necessarily the Bible. Resist movements that discourage thought, compassion for others, and personal growth. Book burning is not an activity that kind, intelligent, compassionate people engage in doing. It’s certainly not “Christ-like” behavior. As NBC News points out:
Locke’s book burning event comes amid a growing effort to ban certain books from schools. Books about racism and sexuality are being pulled from Texas school shelves in record numbers — a majority of books targeted feature LGBTQ characters or explicit descriptions of sex. Some of the books that aren’t explicit include picture books about Black historical figures and transgender children.
Why is this happening now? Why are schools being targeted? It’s the movement of so-called Christians who want to take over the country. These people– so-called Christians– are really only Christians in name. They aren’t behaving in merciful, compassionate, and kind ways. They are promoting hatred, ignorance, and violence in order to push their moronic agenda.
I mentioned that I think Tennessee is the “sophomore state”. I think there are wise people in Tennessee who can stand up to this craziness. Unfortunately, Tennessee also seems to be a hotbed of people like Greg Locke, who encourage book burning among those who seriously need to read a lot more. Locke and his ilk just want people to be stupid, so they’re easier to manage. So I would certainly advise everyone to keep reading. And yes, I think you should read Harry Potter and Twilight, if that’s what you like to read… and read Maus, too, while you’re at it. I have provided a handy link below. You’ll learn more from reading almost ANYTHING than you ever could from listening to Greg Locke.
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As a rule, I don’t follow The Transformed Wife, aka Lori Alexander, working woman turned 50s era evangelical housewife guru. I find her views short-sighted, offensive, incredibly stupid, and infuriating. However, someone in the Duggar Family News group shared news of her most recent post, and that led me to take a look at it myself. The poster in the Duggar group had taken someone following Lori’s page to task over misinterpreting an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Since I am, myself, a fan of Little House, I took notice of that post, which was really about how worried Lori is about Joe Biden’s choice of a replacement justice for the Supreme Court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires this summer. Below is a screenshot of Lori’s post:
I wish Lori and her ilk had more concern for people who have already been born. However, I understand that the unborn make for a convenient cause, since they can’t be disloyal. And, on the surface of it, who supports “murder”? People like Lori use loaded legal terms like “murder” to describe abortion, but they don’t seem to have the same concern for children who have already been born and don’t have the basic necessities of life. They preach about Democrats being “socialists” who don’t care about unborn babies, but then they vote in selfish, incompetent, narcissistic asshats like Donald Trump, who do everything they can to penalize people for being poor, which makes it much harder for babies and children to thrive.
I look at the world today, and all of the many problems we have… the many people who suffer because they don’t have what they need, and have no means of getting what they need. Why do we need more people in the world, competing for scarce resources? Why should we encourage people who aren’t ready or don’t want to be parents to reproduce? Why should we shame people who can’t or won’t have children? According to Lori, my whole life has been wrong, since I don’t have any babies to nurture. It’s not because I didn’t want them. That’s just how life worked out for me.
Then I look at Lori’s followers, many of whom are just nuts. Below is the screenshot of the discussion about Little House on the Prairie— seriously? Does the world need more people who think like this?
I was feeling crappy and unfulfilled yesterday, but felt better when I woke up this morning. Then I saw Lori’s proclamation that my life should have been spent pumping out babies who would grow up coping with COVID-19 and climate change, among many other depressing issues to deal with in life. I used to want to have children, but now I’m glad I didn’t have them, because things just keep getting more and more extreme and weird, with people like Lori promoting their anti-woman platforms to the masses.
Before anyone points this out to me, I realize that by writing about this, I’m helping to expand Lori’s platform. But, as I mentioned above, I don’t follow Lori at all, except for when people who do follow her point out her more egregiously ridiculous statements on life. And then I see that there are people out there who take her seriously. She has thousands of followers, and most of them aren’t there to snark on her nonsense.
And on and on it goes… and this is just ONE of her posts.
The stupid hurts. It really does. Gosh, she’s just so dumb.
No matter who Joe Biden chooses, the Republicans will do what they can to delay the new Supreme Court Justice from being confirmed until midterm elections. It doesn’t matter that Trump pushed two wholly terrifying and inappropriate people into the Supreme Court so that Roe v Wade might be quashed. It doesn’t matter that Amy Coney Barrett took a seat just weeks before the 2020 presidential election and was an actual “handmaid” before she was a judge. God forbid progressive people have a voice in the Supreme Court instead of people who want to pull us back to the 15th century. It doesn’t matter that Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault and heavy drinking during his youth. Seems to me that the Supreme Court should be made up of people who are above reproach, and with the number of Americans who have law degrees, there ought to be qualified people who fit the bill better than Trump’s choices. Joe Biden better have the chance to find someone to balance out Trump’s disastrous picks.
In spite of my complaints, I’m glad Lori has the right to speak her mind, even if I think her mind is completely fucked and her opinions are frightening. But it disturbs me that so many people, male and female, seem to agree with her. Am I really an outlier? Did our mothers and grandmothers really fight all those years for freedom, just so Lori and her followers can demand that women get back into the kitchen and on their backs with their legs spread for impregnation? It just boggles the mind. She really should read up on Romania in the 70s, 80s, and 90s… you want to talk about sad? That’s pretty sad… and that was a “socialist” state run by a madman who wanted women to have babies instead of living fulfilling lives.
Not everyone wants to be a mother (or father). Not everyone should be a mother (or a father). And many of us would rather not live in a culture dominated by religion. It seems to me that if that’s what Lori wants, there are places around the world where she can go that route. I’ve written about some of the cults that promote her views. Why doesn’t she join one of them and shut up? After all, she’s a woman, and women don’t have the right to work, have an opinion, or express themselves. They were put on the earth to breed. /sarcasm
What I really need is an educational Facebook post, like this one… I think I learned more from the squirrel than Lori Alexander’s feed.
Meh… after yesterday’s angry post, I can barely summon the ire to write about The Transformed Wife today. I’m feeling kind of apathetic and over it all. It didn’t help that Howard Hesseman, aka Dr. Johnny Fever of WKRP in Cincinnati died a couple of days ago. I loved that show when I was a kid. It was genuinely funny, and had great music, and was so well-written that it stands up even forty years since its last episode aired. Granted, Howard Hesseman was 81 years old, so he had a good run. We all have to die someday. But still, I genuinely liked him, so it sucks that he’s gone. I liked him in Police Academy 2, and on Head of the Class, too. May he rest in eternal peace.
Bill will be gone in a few hours, and hopefully I’ll see him Friday. Maybe I’ll do something worthwhile this week. Maybe the sun will even come out long enough to dry out the backyard and I can work on destroying the rest of the tree that fell over a few weeks ago before it kills the grass. I’m ready for spring. If I make it to spring…
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