politicians, politics, Trump

“Twin bed Jed”… pro-life and pro-gun, and can’t hold a candle to his opponent, the queen…

I had a good laugh this morning as I read an admittedly fluffy news article about state politics in Arkansas. Jed Duggar, aged 21, is running for a Republican seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives. This young man with a cheesy grin and a soul patch, has taken on the Democrat incumbent, Dr. Megan Godfrey, who is 35 years old, a mom, and worked as a schoolteacher before she ran for office.

Jed, who sleeps in a twin bed in the same room as his twin, Jeremiah Duggar, is being slammed for calling Dr. Godfrey a “princess”. Godfrey’s young daughter, obviously astute like her mom, reportedly said “But Mama, you‘re the queen.” Indeed, Megan Godfrey is not only very smart and experienced, but she WAS also homecoming queen at the University of Arkansas. And she had a very witty retort for Twin Bed Jed.

You go, Megan Godfrey! I truly hope she kicks Jed’s ignorant ass.

Jed Duggar, on the other hand, is a graduate of the School of the Dining Room Table and says he wants to “grow jobs”, although he’s never had a job that didn’t involve working for his father. He’s been called out for accepting illegal campaign donations from a guy who lives in Louisiana, and his own dad, our very own Jim Boob, only donated $300 to his campaign, while some of his brothers and brothers in law each donated $500.

Jed never went to college and will never be pregnant, but he thinks he knows what’s best for women and wants to force pregnant women to give birth. He champions denying women the right to have abortions as he encourages people to buy weapons that may put already born people who have an actual concept of life and death at grave risk. Yep, he follows that well-known Republican mantra that the only lives that matter are those of the unborn. As Carlin said of Republicans, “If you’re pre-born, you’re fine. If you’re pre-school, you’re fucked.” Jed is following that observation to a tee. And as a Republican, Jed doesn’t support helping those pregnant women, especially once they’ve given birth.

“I grew up in Springdale all my life”… I don’t think the job is quite done yet, Jed. By the way, his channel has only 44 subscribers! That’s nineteen fewer than I have!

Sadly… the fact that Jed Duggar can’t hold a candle to his political opponent in terms of education, experience, and class is meaningless to a lot of people. He’ll get votes because he’s a young white man who is “pro-life” and “pro-gun”. He’s from a famous fundie family that is on reality TV. He’s somewhat good looking, I guess… the cheesy smile and relation to a notorious sex pest is somewhat of a turn off. But he’ll still get votes.

Many people don’t even care if a political candidate has any real experience. In fact, many people have no idea who or what they are voting for when they hit the booths. At least if you vote absentee, you can look up the candidates before you choose, right? Unless you’re fed up with Republicans and just vote straight blue, like I did. It isn’t the wisest strategy, since there are presumably decent people who are Republicans… but right now, I am super pissed off at the Republican Party for giving us Donald Trump and his ilk and voting blue is the only way I can make my point… besides writing another pointless blog post.

Moving on…

Something kind of funny happened yesterday. Thanks to the sudden rise of COVID-19 cases in Germany, Bill has decided to do his part to help stem the tide by working at home yesterday and today. At around lunchtime, I went down to the dining room and was looking at Facebook. A woman was asking about living in Stuttgart and taking care of the dog she was bringing. Since Bill and I spent six years living near Stuttgart, I responded to her.

I said, “I just advised a woman to…”

And Bill cut in with, “Fuck off?”

I had a good laugh. Obviously, it’s time I cleaned up my language! We’ve been married awhile, too, so he knows me well. But no, this time I didn’t use the f-word. I told the woman she should join Stuttgart Friends, which is a local Facebook group that has a lot of information for newcomers. It didn’t exist when we lived down there the first time (I actually joined Facebook when we lived in Germany the first time), and was the source of much irritation for me when we were in Stuttgart the second time. But it is a good place to learn about moving to Germany, and it’s also a good group to leave once you get the hang of things.

I do enjoy having Bill at home during the day. I’m glad we still get along so well, especially since our anniversary is coming up.

And… in fairness to Bill, I DID just tell one of his ex friends to go fuck himself. So I guess it makes sense that he thought I’d tell some random lady on social media to fuck off. But this time, I swear, I’m innocent!

As for Trump and the presidential debate… I missed it. I wouldn’t have watched it even if I had been in America and not sleeping while it was going on. It doesn’t matter what either of them say because I’ve already voted. If it weren’t so glaringly obvious to me that Trump needs to be ousted, I might have tuned in. But, in my mind, Trump’s time in the White House has been about four years of sheer embarrassment and foolishness, and I truly fear for the future if he wins again. The man is becoming more and more unhinged as the days pass and his followers are becoming more emboldened and entrenched in fascism.

I know not everyone agrees with me, but I think anyone who still supports Trump is some combination of crazy, stupid, and selfish. Sadly… there are many people like that in America who will keep voting for him and his ilk, so I’m steeling myself for what happens in November. But, at least Bill and I will celebrate another anniversary! Hopefully, I won’t tell anyone else to go fuck themselves.

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condescending twatbags, politicians, politics

Fun with trolling men who have “correctile dysfunction”…

I don’t often troll people online. I think it’s disrespectful to screw with people, even strangers who ask for it. However, sometimes I do get a bug up my ass… or a bee in my bonnet. And I must admit there are times when fucking with the stupid among us is a lot of fun.

Yesterday, I was reading The Washington Post and ventured into the Facebook comments section. There, I ran across a man named Justin who referred to Kamala Harris as “kameltoe”. Below is the comment that caught my attention and provoked a response.

The mental illness joe biden has, will prevent him from being president and We will reject kameltoe like a bad glass of milk.

So I wrote this:

Don’t be a misogynist, Justin. It doesn’t suit you.

This isn’t a really mean comment. I figure Justin must be really scared, though. If you have to refer to the future vice president as “kameltoe” instead of explaining rationally why you don’t think she’s a good fit for the office, I figure you’ve got nothing. Moreover, he clearly doesn’t think women belong in leadership positions. He probably mansplains a lot.

Justin didn’t like my response. So he wrote this:

…neither does a pedophile dementia case for a president. Trump2020. You will see and I’ll make sure i remind you I said that in a few weeks.

Hmmm… Justin must be scared. He’s clinging to that bullshit Wayfair conspiracy theory like it’s Linus’s blanket.

Then he continued with this… not even two minutes after his last comment:

 I mean Nancy is already using the 25th to remove him. Geez 30+ nominees and down to creepy Joe, now Nancy wants to replace him with kamala who is a complete political failure. Your party has killed itself.

I must admit, I didn’t bother to read his comments as he was posting them. In fact, I am just now actually reading what Justin wrote. I was drinking wine and feeling sassy, so I just kept egging him on. This type of person can’t stand it when a woman backtalks him. There’s no point in actually addressing their non-sensical posts, either. And… he makes an assumption that I am a Democrat. I’m actually not registered with any party affiliation. I just decided to vote all blue this year because the Republican Party deserves it. So I responded thusly:

You really are drinking the KKKool-Aid, aren’t you? Poor baby.  😞

This is neither an original or particularly clever comment. I mainly posted it because, in my experience, Trumpers can’t stand it when you call them racist, even if they obviously are. I don’t actually know how Justin feels about people of color, but he made it quite obvious that he disdains Kamala Harris, who is a very bright, capable, black woman who could mop the floor with his feeble minded retorts. In any case, anyone who supports Trump obviously doesn’t mind racism, classism, or sexism. Justin bit on the KKK comment with this:

joe biden has direct ties to the KKK. He even read a eulogy at a klansmans funeral. There are dozens of photos of joe surrounded by KKK klansmen. Keep trying silly woman.

Really Justin? I don’t believe you, with your “correctile dysfunction”. So I wrote this:

Personal attacks… what a weak argument. Why not just see who wins?

Seriously. What good does namecalling do? Does Justin really think that being insulting is going to change my mind? He comes off as scared and desperate, and more than a little bit pathetic. Poor baby, indeed! But he still thinks Trump is a winner… and he can’t walk away gracefully.

we will, and I’ll remind you I knew that outcome already.

What if he doesn’t, Justin? What if Trump loses by a landslide? What will you do then, little boy? I was getting tired of chatting with Justin, so I decided to shock him. I wrote this:

Keep on commenting. It makes me wet.

Crickets! How do you respond when a woman you’re arguing with says something like that? Twenty minutes later, I wrote this:

Funny… I guess the prospect of making me wet was too much for the guy who referred to our future VP as “kameltoe”… I guess I don’t know my own strength.  😉

I decided to look up my new friend. It appears that he lives in Texas, is eight years younger than I am, and graduated high school. He really admires Donald Trump. He doesn’t seem to realize that Trump wouldn’t give him the time of day. Trump would think he was “disgusting”. In any case, here are some choice screenshots from Justin’s page. He’s not exactly a mental giant.

Anyway… I did think it was funny that telling Justin he was turning me on was enough to get him to fuck off. I don’t know what he’s doing reading the comments on a Washington Post article. He clearly isn’t a thinker. He hasn’t read this, from The New York Times

Several people who have dealt extensively with Mr. Trump have suggested that he takes a dubious, even disdainful view of his most loyal followers. He takes them for granted because he knows they would forgive him for anything: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

“The people Trump despises most love him the most,” said Howard Stern, who hosted Mr. Trump on-air for years, in May. His voters, Mr. Stern said, are people he would not want in his hotels. “He’d be disgusted by them,” he said. “Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there’s any people who look like you. I’m talking to you in the audience.”

Special thanks to the cartoonist, whose name I can’t read…

Yeah, that means you, Justin. Your hero thinks you are disgusting. So do I. Nothing about you makes me “wet”. I just enjoy messing with people like you.

Now… Donald Trump might very well win re-election. But if he does, you can count on him being impeached again. And honestly, people who continue to champion Trump will get the leader they deserve, although unfortunately, it will be at the rest of our expenses. I hope and pray enough people in the United States have wised up since 2016. I truly get being Republican, but we need someone competent and caring in charge. Almost anyone would be better than Trump is.

But… I must admit, it’s kind of fun watching Trump melt down every day, just as his ardent followers are. His ego can’t take the prospect of losing… and if he does lose, he may very well end up in a place he really doesn’t want to be. Either way, November 4th will be a hell of a day. Either way, it’s going to be rough going. I hope Justin is prepared.

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healthcare, Military, rants

Repost: EFMP… There’s nothing “exceptional” about it.

I am rerunning this post that appeared on my original blog, back on March 10, 2013. I am no longer an “Army wife”, since Bill retired in 2014. However, we know the lifestyle and this post got tons of hits… plus, it came up last night as we were remembering how I was FORCED to join EFMP because I had taken antidepressants. And then, once we got to Germany after I had dutifully enrolled in EFMP, Bill got a shitty email from some uppity guy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, wanting to be “apprised” of my “condition”.

We were laughing about it, though, because unlike “Big Army”, the National Guard didn’t give a fuck about EFMP. They cut Bill’s orders for Germany before I ever visited the medical people in DC, so I probably could have skipped the whole thing and totally gotten away with it. Of course, that was in 2007, and things have probably changed.

Anyway… Bill was funny last night as we were remembering that time because he said, as we remembered the email, “No, you don’t. We’re already here. Fuck off.” He’s obviously benefiting from my “charms”, which have rubbed off on him. To clarify, no… that’s not what he actually said. Bill is very good at politely telling people to fuck off. He basically told the guy to leave us alone and they complied. But thirteen years later, he might say it. That makes me proud. So here’s the post from 2013. Maybe it will be interesting/helpful to someone while I wait for fresh inspiration.

Back in 2007, my husband was deployed to Iraq.  We were also planning to move to Germany.  Because Germany is not in the United States, I had to do some things to prepare for the move.  One of the things I had to do was get a physical.  I was really dreading having to do this for a lot of reasons.  First off, I’m not a big fan of going to the doctor’s office.  I especially hate going to military doctor’s offices.  It’s a pain in the ass to set up the appointment.  Military medical providers tend to talk to their patients as if they are either children or in the military, even if they are civilians.  I also had a very traumatic incident with a military provider in the 1990s that continues to haunt me today.

Anyway, I had to get this physical and then I had to be screened for the Exceptional Family Member Program, a supposed benefit for military families.  Basically, what EFMP does is allow a servicemember’s command to consider the medical and educational needs of a family member before moving their “sponsor”.  I have already ranted about the term “dependent” to describe spouses.  My husband is considered my sponsor.  How’s that for demeaning?

So I got a friend to help me set up my appointments.  I saw a physician’s assistant who turned out to be really kind and patient with me, especially after I told her about my first and last disastrous attempt to get a pap smear when I was 22 years old.  She thought I had high blood pressure, but it turned out my high readings were caused by white coat hypertension.  That was proven by 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, which involved wearing a sphygmomanometer for 24 hours.  As soon as I stepped out of the military hospital, my blood pressure readings dropped to normal.

Finally, I arranged to be screened for the EFMP, which I had been told involved having a doctor look at my records and determining whether or not I had any conditions that warranted special consideration as to where my husband could be assigned.  From 1998 until 2004, I took antidepressants and went to therapy for depression and anxiety.  The worst of my issues were from 1998-99.  I chose to stay on antidepressants while I was in grad school mainly because I didn’t want to feel shitty while I was dealing with such a stressful time of my life.  At the time, I had no idea I would ever marry a military man.  I could have gotten off the antidepressants earlier than 2004.  I got off them because I dropped civilian health insurance and was hoping I might get pregnant.  I got off the drugs with no incident and didn’t even miss them, except they helped me keep my weight down.

What I didn’t know was that my time on antidepressants would come back to haunt me.  The EFMP required that I submit ALL of my medical records for the past five years.  Those records included my therapist’s notes about my depression, which were very personal.  I suppose in retrospect, I could have removed the records from before 2002.  I didn’t think to do that.  I showed up for the EFMP screening and was left sitting in the waiting room in the pediatrics department of the local military hospital while the doctor looked at my paperwork.  She finally came out and told me I needed to be in EFMP because I’d had depression and it might be risky to send me to Germany.  She listed the reasons she thought I was at risk.  I might have trouble adjusting to culture shock.  I might get depressed if my husband got deployed (even though he was already deployed when I met with this woman).  I might have problems with the fact that Germany isn’t as sunny as the USA is. 

Our conversation was laughable.  Here was this young doctor in a military uniform telling me that it was a good thing we were bound for Germany, since if we were going to Hawaii, I probably wouldn’t get to go.  She claimed there weren’t enough therapists in Hawaii.  I looked at her dumbfounded and said, “You know, I have an MSW.  The Army could hire me.”  Moreover, this move to Germany would be my third overseas.  I had already survived clinical depression while in Armenia.  I knew Germany would be a piece of cake for me.  But that didn’t matter… my thoughts about my own stability and personal desire to stay out of EFMP meant nothing.  It was fruitless to argue with the doctor, who was just covering her own ass.  She said I could try to disenroll in 2009 and maybe the EFMP would grant my request.

She then told me that if I didn’t comply, my husband could get kicked out of the Army.  And she said he wouldn’t get his orders if I didn’t do what she said.  Her face registered shock when I pulled out a set of orders, already listing me as having command sponsorship.  Apparently, the National Guard couldn’t care less whether or not I have depression.  She spluttered, “You’re not supposed to have those yet!”

It was truly ridiculous.  But because my husband was in Iraq and I didn’t want to cause issues, I complied with the demand that I join EFMP.  I filed the paperwork and we went to Germany.  Some months later, my husband got a nastygram from the very pushy EFMP coordinator in DC, demanding my status.  They needed to be “apprised of my condition”.  My husband sent him an email letting him know that I had no desire to be in the EFMP and didn’t need it.  We never heard another word about it and I got through my time in Germany without incident.

The military is pretty intolerant of head cases… even though if you read my articles about nutty Army folks, you know that the military is rife with them.  The official policy requires that servicemembers who are depressed seek help for their issues.  The unofficial policy is that if you or a family member see a therapist or take psychotropic drugs, your career will probably suffer.  You might lose your security clearance or be stuck in some shitty assignment indefinitely or get sent somewhere you’d rather not be.  I sought therapy for my depression and anxiety when I really needed to.  I’m glad I did it; it probably saved my life.  I had no way of knowing that making the very mature decision to seek help would end up in a ridiculous conversation with an intractable doctor who didn’t know me from Adam and was basing her medical opinions of me on three year old notes from other providers.

I understand why EFMP screening is mandatory for people going out of the country.  I just wish the process involved more subjectivity and people using common sense.  I wish that competent adults were treated more like stakeholders in their own healthcare and given more of a partnership in the process, rather than given the bullshit line about how the screening is for their own good.  The screening is about covering asses, saving money, and controlling people.  Moreover, you can get around the EFMP.  A lot depends on who you are and who you know.  I personally know someone who had her paperwork changed so the EFMP restrictions would be lifted and she could take her kids to Germany.  In her case, it worked out fine.  I know of other people who were not allowed to go abroad because of EFMP and they could not get their EFMP status changed. 

I don’t mean to say that EFMP is not a valuable program for those who need it.  There are families who have kids with special needs that need that special consideration.  It’s not good to go to a new duty station and find there are no suitable facilities to handle someone’s medical or educational issues.  That tends to lead to the family having to be sent elsewhere, which costs a lot of taxpayer money and causes lost productivity.  It’s also a pain in the ass for the family. 

However, the EFMP requirement is not good when it’s forced on a family, particularly when the “exceptional member” is a competent adult.  People know that EFMP can cause plum assignments to get cancelled.  Supposedly, this is not true… the military will tell people that EFMP won’t mess up a person’s career.  But in reality, being limited in where you can go can mess up your (or your sponsor’s) career.  Because of that, some people won’t get help for depression if they need it.  I mean, it’s hard enough to get help for depression because there’s so much stigma.  If it might also mean you can’t go to Germany with your husband, you might also hold off on calling for help.  And that can lead to tragic consequences.

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Trump

Trump is a total madman…

Alright… just finished writing my latest travel blog series. New dog, still named Noizy for now, is doing fine. He’s as sweet as he can be. Someday, he might even leave the living room so we can give him a bath.

Now, back to my usual complaints and rantings. A few days ago, I wrote about the news that our dear “leader”, Donald Trump, was diagnosed with COVID-19. The initial news that he’d “tested positive” was soon followed up with news that he actually has the virus. Many people, including yours truly, wondered if this was yet another line of bullshit designed to distract everyone from Trump’s shortcomings before the election next month.

Then he ended up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for the weekend. Interesting side note– Walter Reed, who discovered that yellow fever is spread by mosquitos– was born in Belroi, Virginia. Belroi is part of Gloucester County, which is where I grew up. I have passed his birthplace many times, and in fact, our hospital in Gloucester was also named after him.

Anyway… Trump was airlifted to WRAMC in Washington, DC, even though the White House itself is pretty well equipped for medical emergencies. He spent the weekend in the “presidential suite”, and doctors said that his respiration rate had dropped dangerously a couple of times. But now, he’s been released and is supposedly “feelin’ great”. He went for a joyride in a hermetically sealed vehicle, masked, but locked up with people transporting and protecting him. He waved at the people, then got released.

Trump tweeted triumphantly (as I knew he would)… from the New York Times:

“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” he wrote. “Don’t let it dominate your life.” When he arrived at the White House a few hours later, Mr. Trump removed his mask before joining several masked people inside. The president was probably still contagious, as many patients can pass on the virus for up to 10 days after symptoms begin.

So… either Trump lied about having COVID-19, or he’s now willingly putting himself and many others at risk by mingling among the masses without any sort of face mask or other personal protection equipment. Doctors have said that days 7 through 10 tend to be the worst/most risky in a COVIF-19 infection. I have a nurse friend who works with COVID patients and confirms that he’s not yet out of the woods… if he was ever sick in the first place. For the record, I believe he was sick, and I believe that COVID-19 may still be his undoing. I don’t particularly relish the idea, nor does it depress me. As Trump says, “It is what it is.” Lots of people are lecturing others about what they should be saying and doing, though. I even got blocked by someone who was upset that I said Trump reminds me of Hitler. He does. Sorry… no, we’re not in a Holocaust, but he acts a lot like Hitler. The truth hurts.

This last month before the election promises to be totally crazy. Trump’s base is ever more riled up by the idea of Trump’s re-election, while those who are “ridin’ with Biden” are also campaigning hard. I just voted a week ago via absentee ballot. I voted Democrat across the board, something I have never done before. I have a feeling I am not the only one. Hopefully, it will make a difference. Like a lot of Americans, I’m pretty fed up with Trump’s circus and his complete disregard for everyone but himself. I am also tired of seeing and hearing gloating from Trump’s base.

Seriously… there are some true jackasses out there. Here are just a couple of links to the winners of the dipshit parade:

Trump Supporter Eyed by Law Enforcement After Viral Video Threatens ‘War’ if Biden Wins Election: ‘Us Rednecks … We Comin’ and Comin’ Strong’

Shocking video shows MAGA supporter punching man who refused to stop playing anti-Trump rap song in Texas parking lot

Not to be outdone, here’s a hilarious and curse heavy video from someone who thinks Trumpers are not the brightest:

My ears are burning!

Anyway… I am really glad to be here instead of there. I think the next month is going to be a total clusterfuck. Either way, I’m sure on the first Wednesday of November, I’ll feel like drinking.

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language, overly helpful people, rants

Hey Digga!

Here comes another one of my rants about overly sensitive language cops. It comes this morning as my friend from my hometown shared a news article about a professor at the University of Southern California, who went viral for teaching about pause or filler words in China and using a word that sounded a lot like the n-bomb.

Professor Greg Patton, who teaches communications, was talking about the Chinese equivalent of “err” and “um”, you know, what we in English speaking countries say as we’re thinking about the next thing we’re going to say, but we don’t want “dead air”. It turns out that in Chinese, the “filler” language akin to our “ums” and “errs” is the Chinese word for “that”, which is evidently “na-ge”. And spoken out loud, “na-ge” sounds a bit like the taboo n-bomb.

Naturally, someone was filming the professor, and the footage made it to the Internet. Several students complained to Geoffrey Garrett, dean of the University of Southern California. And now, Professor Patton is no longer teaching the course. According to the article, Patton voluntarily stepped away, as Garrett stated:

“It is simply unacceptable for the faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,”

News of the debacle reached China, where native speakers posted on social media that the backlash was discriminatory toward speakers of Chinese. Interestingly enough, I have another friend who lived in China for awhile and she frequently told me about how racist their society is. In fact, in the Toytown Germany thread I reference later in this post, someone wrote this:

Silly and sad, just shows you how people are tripping over themselves to show how not a racist! they are. Big smiiiiiiles, eeeeeeveryone’s happy, no one’s racist here, nosirreee… All a little different from actually not being racist.

As an aside, China is an objectively far more racist society. Pot, kettle, black. The Chinese government knows full well what resonates in foreign media for political effect. Their diplomats will criticize America’s racism, while within China, Africans are called chocolate or monkeys and many restaurants or hotels forbid entry. Not to mention the current Uyghur concentration camps. There are no self-reflective large anti-racism movements.

A few months back, veteran Canadian news reporter Wendy Mesley for the CBC (like the BBC) got in deep doodoo for betraying her secret racism. While in a conference room with producers (apparently none Black?), discussing a specific episode of her show and how they should cover BLM protests and racial issues, she said that word while discussing how they should refer to this work here. It’s the title. The discussion was about that and she said the title. She was (temporarily?) removed as host and issued an apology, etc. Confession and repentance, 50 Hail Marys and 50 Our Fathers.

Obviously the word shouldn’t be used, but it’s hard to see what this kind of official censure for using it in (closed door) academic/historical contexts achieves. The reporter is known for her progressive liberal stances. Of course, CBC as a state broadcaster had to do something… 

My reaction to this? Big sigh. I have already written more than once about my strong aversion to burying language and banning words, particularly when they are words that only sound like offensive words. I am also extremely irritated when people don’t have their facts straight and attempt to ban words based on untruths. But, most of all, it disappoints and offends me that people who attend a prestigious school like the University of Southern California are not intelligent enough to understand the difference between someone deliberately being hurtful by using clearly derogatory and racist language, and a professor who is actually trying to educate them about another culture and language.

Seriously? My opinion of the California USC (as opposed to the “original” USC, my alma mater, the University of South Carolina), has now dropped considerably. With all of the other crap going on right now, one would hope a famous and storied school like USC, where parents are going to prison and paying fines for cheating their kids’ ways past the admissions office, could rise above something as petty as this without it making the news. I certainly don’t think a man’s livelihood should be threatened over this incident. And it should not be international news, either!

What the hell are colleges and universities for if there can’t be a free exchange of ideas without people getting offended? Colleges and universities are supposed to be places where ideas can be born and hashed out, and language can be used in an instructional way. Professor Patton was not trying to be offensive. He was trying to educate! That’s his job!

You might be wondering about the title of this post. It comes from a recent thread on a Web site called Toytown Germany, which I joined in 2008, when we lived in Germany the first time (pre-Facebook days). I still hang out on Toytown Germany on occasion, as it’s a very useful source of information about living in Germany and the information isn’t strictly for the U.S. military affiliated population. That site has many people on it from all around the world, including Germans. The one thing they have in common is the ability to speak English.

Anyway, recently, a woman who teaches in a German school started a post about the German slang word “digga” and how she finds it offensive. The original poster teaches in an inner city school in Cologne. She’s a native English speaker from an “ethnic minority background” and she writes that she doesn’t generally try to prevent her students from using slang. However, she tried to draw the line at the word “digga”, because it sounded a lot like the n-bomb and she felt her students were using the word in a derogatory way. Clearly, it was triggering her a lot.

“Digga” is a word that originated near Hamburg. It’s basically akin to the English slang terms, “dude” or “bro”. She wrote:

I banned the word ‘digga’ in my class and I told the students that they should be ashamed to be using such language whilst considering themselves anti-racist and progressive. Now I have had a bit of pushback from a few parents who say I shouldn’t stop kids from using their German language slang.

I have had to bite my own tongue and hold back. I think  parents need to listen to the music their kids are listening to, they need to pay attention to the media their kids are consuming but most are quite naive or really don’t want to know.

This lady also got quite a pushback in Toytown Germany, which isn’t surprising. That forum is not exactly “politically correct” and people will not hesitate to tell off anyone who comes off as ignorant. Many people told the teacher she was wrong to ban the word “digga”, as it is not a racist epithet. This was the first of many comments she got:

digga comes from “dicker” (a kind of fond way of addressing someone who is your friend, and it also has nothing to do with them actually being fat), it has no associations to nigga whatsoever and I agree with the parents that you are overreacting as well as overreaching.  It is also not a new phenomenon, has been popular at least as long as I have lived here although back in the early 2000s it seemed like more of a Hamburg thing that kind of made its way over.

In any case it really has nothing to do with nigga.  

One person was sympathetic to the teacher’s plight and wrote this:

Verbal violence is a form of abuse and precursor to other violence. It all starts somewhere. Sigh. Fighting it is an uphill battle. Letting slip leads to the abnormal becoming normalised. Saying nothing condones this undesirable behaviour. This possibly escapes the attention of the parents. However, their and your energy is limited and you have to choose how to use it. The insider connoisseurs claim the expression is harmless… but you see it in context. You don’t have an easy job!

Okay, but words are always evolving. I can think of a half dozen of them right off the bat that once were totally innocuous and later turned into insults that need to be banned. The word “faggot”, as well as its abbreviated form “fag”, for instance, has a few meanings, only one of which is derogatory. And yet if you say that word in certain places, you will face a huge backlash.

Ditto for the word “retard”, which is a perfectly innocent word with forms that are used in many languages. In fact, we heard it correctly used in France and Italy– it had to do with the train schedules. But now it’s pretty much banned in the United States.

It seems to me that we focus way too much on words and not nearly enough on attitudes and context. Instead of banning words and firing hapless professors who use certain words in their classes, we should take a moment to consider the context. Was the professor trying to be hurtful when he used that word? Was the professor being oppressive? In the case involving the USC professor, I don’t think so. In the case involving the teacher in Germany, I would argue that trying to impose the standards of one’s own language and homeland to people from another country is overreaching.

Banning words or making them taboo doesn’t change negative attitudes. A person can be racist and never drop the n-bomb. A person can be non-racist and use the n-bomb in an instructive way. Think it can’t be done? Try reading a slave narrative and banning that word. Try listening to certain musical selections where it’s referenced. “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder immediately comes to mind, as it has in my previous rants about this topic.

To the teacher’s credit, she did come back and thank everyone for setting her straight. Ultimately, she was looking for clarification and the right way to handle this situation, even taking into account that she has an “obvious walking disability” and is a person from “an ethnic minority background”. The thread continued for several pages and was revived when the news came out about the professor at the University of Southern California.

Again, I reference what Dean Geoffrey Garrett said in response to the uproar about the Chinese filler speech that sounds like the n-bomb…

“It is simply unacceptable for the faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,”

Wow. So he’s very concerned about the “psychological safety” of students in a world where they have been regularly threatened by school shooters, terrorists, cops who kill innocent people, and deadly rogue viruses like COVID-19? I mean… people are getting killed or dying by the day in the United States, sometimes while just sleeping in their own beds! And he’s worried that his students will be permanently scarred by the Chinese word “na-ge”, which just happens to sound like the n-bomb, an English slur? Seems to me that the dean needs to gain a global perspective and stop being so politically correct. Don’t be so open-minded that your brain falls out. That’s my motto.

Right now, many people are focused on simple SURVIVAL. The people who are lucky enough to attend the University of Southern California ought to know the difference between someone being hateful and derogatory toward a group of people and someone who is talking about another culture with another language. They need to grow up and wise up. In the vast majority of cases, if they’re at USC, they obviously have had a lot of things go right in their lives.

They’re in a class where they’re learning about something that most people would never have the opportunity to study because they’re too busy learning skills that will keep them alive and able to pay their bills! They are probably the last people who need to be up in arms over a professor teaching them about Chinese filler words that happen to sound like a racist epithet in some parts of the world. And if they’re offended in the classroom in California, God help them if they go to China and actually hear Chinese people saying “Na-ge” over and over again. There will be many special snowflake meltdowns!

Jeez!

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