Salon and Jezebel: Honey Boo Boo and 8 reasons you should be ashamed of yourselves

Honey Boo Boo is a child, not a monsterAs you know, I spend a lot of my time with Honey Boo Boo because of my dissertation, and people often say disparaging things about the show and the weight of the family and other things.  And for the most part, I keep my cool, but occasionally, I read something that makes me incredibly angry.  I am loath to even link to this article, because it is so unfortunate, but here it is: “Honey Boo Boo is a monster: What reality TV did to the pint-size pageant queen” and the Jezebel uncritical repost: “Honey Boo Boo Has Turned Into a ‘Visibly Troubled’ Monster Child.”  (UPDATE: Since this article was posted, Salon has changed the headline to remove the world “monster.” Small victory!)

I am not, in general, a defender of Reality Television.  I find it fascinating, yes, but not always ethical.  That said, blaming ills of the world on Reality Television is ignoring the fact that the world created it in the first place.  Reality Television might reflect societal problems, but it’s very rarely the cause of them.  Unsafe workplaces, brutal contracts, and terrible pay, sure, but they don’t create societal wide poor education, poverty, or violence.

So when I see articles posted that use the word “monster” to describe a real little kid, I find it upsetting.  When those articles purport to be doing it because they care about the girl and come from sources that I generally find reasonable and feminist minded, I become slightly apoplectic.  Here are 8 reasons that the article on Salon, and Jezebel using it for hits without saying anything critical about it, were terrible.

1. Calling a little kid a monster is severely uncool.  Doing it in the headline to get hits is exploitative and uncool.

2. Calling a little kid a “monster” for having a temper tantrum because she doesn’t really like doing interviews on TV and for not wanting to give away her property is blowing things well out of proportion.

3. “The quick wit we’ve come to expect from Honey Boo Boo…” Have you ever even watched the show? The quick wit is from Mama June, Alana is just weird in a charming and amusing way.  Just because she’s in some of your favorite gifs, doesn’t mean she’s quick-witted.

4. Fallon intervening and trying to discipline Alana wasn’t ” Finally someone is addressing this child’s attitude,” it was shaming her in front of a live studio audience and assuming her mother was incapable of doing her job as a parent. Not your role, Mr. Fallon, and not something to be commended, Salon writer.

5. Wishing she had the chance to develop her creativity without television is ignoring the reality that the money and exposure and opportunities she’s been given from this show has meant far more opportunity to develop her creativity.

6. You have no reason to think that being on Reality Television has caused this in her.  She has been remarkably little changed from her first appearance on Toddlers & Tiaras to the second season of her own show.  Newsflash: Little kids can be bratty sometimes, and editors know when it’s amusing or not.  Your own article points to the fact that this is being edited, where on earth are you getting evidence that it is television’s fault?

7. Don’t you think publicly calling a child a monster in Salon is exactly the wrong thing to do if this article expresses your real feelings about her fate?  Do you really think that publicly shaming a little girl makes it look like you care how she is treated — because you’re treating her badly.  You don’t get a pass on that.

8. Finally, finally: Christy O’Shoney, I don’t think you’re a very nice person or a person who cares very much about Alana Thompson’s future. And Jezebel, you’re just as bad for uncritically repeating this article because you wanted hits.

I realize my blog is just a tiny corner of the internet, but if you’re decent people who actually care about this little girl you will 1. Change the title of your articles 2. Release an apology for being cruel to a child 3. Think twice before calling a child names in order to get hits.  Frankly, your behavior is far worse than anything Alana Thompson did on the set of Jimmy Fallon’s show.

Proposed: That We’d Just Be Better Off If We Forgot About That Flying Spaghetti Monster Stuff

Move over, Noodliness.

Move over, Your Noodliness.

I floated this post idea on Twitter and everyone told me to write it, so if this goes badly, I think I can just blame it on them, right? That’s how it works?

It’s not that the original Flying Spaghetti Monster wasn’t a useful allegory–in fact, it was a hilarious allegory with enough snark to give us atheists years of rib-elbowing and behind-hand snickering. It’s just that now, it’s become part of the dialect, if you will. OMFSM. Pastafarians. Whatever this was.

And I think, as this movement focuses more on social justice, as we combine feminism with atheism…or even if you’ve just wondered how to have more women in your group…we need to take a look at things like this:
[Excerpted from The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster]

We’d like to tell you all about our Heaven, which features a Stripper Factory and a giant Beer Volcano.

[….]

Q: If there’s a Beer Volcano and a Stripper Factory in Heaven, what’s FSM Hell like?

A: We’re not entirely certain, but we imagine it’s similar to FSM Heaven, only the beer is stale and the strippers have venereal diseases. Not unlike Las Vegas.

*goggles*

Sorry, one of the big in-jokes in atheism has a stripper factory? A factory? Like the sort where inanimate objects are made? And simultaneously, we’re looking about for reasons women are less likely to be atheists than men?

Oh, there’s male strippers too:

Q: Are there male strippers in FSM Heaven for women?
A: Probably, but they are invisible to the non-homo guys.

Cuz it wouldn’t be heaven if straight men had to see nearly-naked dudes!

Antarctica, the cursed, is the continent that is the Pastafarian equivalent to Christianity’s Hell. The Beer Volcano froze over millennia ago, the strippers wear big bulky parkas and snow pants, and the place is covered in ice and snow.

Yeah, the real problem is when strippers cover up. That’s hell. </sarcasm>

I’d like to argue that this is not, perhaps, the face we want to put on our message. We do not want the intrepid high school google-er, sitting at her computer when her parents are out, trying to find out more about her unbelief and why there keep being pasta jokes and coming upon….Stripper Factory.

Oh, but you say, it’s just become part of what we do. It’s offhand! Most people don’t even know the whole thing about the Kansas School Board and the book and most of the people who do know about the book haven’t read it–and—–

Really?

Have you recently told a Christian they can’t just pick and choose the gay friendly parts of the bible, or giggled along as a Family Values Politician divorced–what does his bible have to say about that? Did you let them get away with pleading ignorance, or that it was the main message that was important? But you want me to ignore the strippers, because the important part is about teaching science in school?

I think not.

 

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Robert Bork, scariest almost Supreme Court Justice, dead at 85

bork-timeRobert Bork, the intensely conservative failed Supreme Court nominee from 1987, has passed away after a heart ailment. Bork was a sort of bogeyman from the right, destroyed by Joe Biden in the senate hearings for his nomination for being absolutely insane and who Mitt Romney made head of his judiciary appointments in an attempt to gain conservative credibility.

Thanks to the failure of the Bork nomination, we got Kennedy, who will occasionally vote in favor of things like equality and gay rights.  He is, in fact, our best hope that the court will overturn DOMA and Prop 8.  So, the borking of Robert Bork was quite fateful.

From my speech about the war on women earlier this year:

The Supreme Court has four justices over 70 and Mitt Romney’s chair of judiciary appointments is Robert Bork.

Robert Bork, the man Reagan failed to get on the Supreme Court 15 years ago.  Robert Bork who doesn’t believe in the right to contraception, much less abortion, who thinks discriminating against women is QUOTE “not possible”, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  I know who I don’t want putting people on our already too anti-woman court.

The thing about Bork, though, is that he was very smart and very funny. I actually have a lot of respect for his intellect, but it’s hard to respect someone who fought for Nixon during Watergate and would repeal equal rights laws if he had the opportunity — and he very nearly did have the opportunity.

More here: http://www.startribune.com/nation/184098181.html?refer=y

Why I hate you if you voted Yes on 8

I’ll sum this up for you.  Two men, Harold and Clay, lived together for 20 years in Sonoma County, CA, they took extreme care to make sure they had legal protections in place so that they could take care of one another.  Instead, when Harold fell, the county and healthcare workers ignored all the legal paperwork and refused to let Clay see him, refused to let Clay dictate the medical treatment, they forcibly removed Clay from their home and put him in a separate nursing home from Harold, against his will, and finally they took all of their belongings from that home and auctioned them off.  Harold died alone three months later.  Clay was finally able to get an attorney to get him out of the nursing home, but his home and all of his belongings were gone.

All of this in a county in California that voted 68% against Prop 8 — this is a place with support for marriage equality that still did this to a gay couple.  People don’t understand that this isn’t just a fight for a word, this is a fight for adults wanting to be treated as adults, capable of choosing who is important to them and who has a say in their lives.  This is about incredibly basic human decency that gay people are denied.  People think, oh stuff like that doesn’t happen anymore.

Yes, it does.  And it’s inhumane and disgusting and cruel.  And when you don’t support gay marriage, what you’re saying is “I want this to happen to people.  I don’t think gay people deserve to be treated like humans, they aren’t human as far as I’m concerned.  It’s not enough for them to live their lives away from me, I want them to suffer.” Every single organization, every single politician, every single person who supports the ban on gay marriage is tacitly endorsing this abuse.

http://www.nclrights.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issue_caseDocket_Greene_v_County_of_Sonoma_et_al

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold’s lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O’Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O’Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

Tonight at 7pm EST – The Ashley F Miller Show

Tonight, join me, Dan Fincke from Camels with Hammers, and Mavaddat Javid, who has a Tumblr here.

Topics:

Politics: SCOTUS and Prop 8

Media: documentaries “The New Black” and “American Revolutionary

Guest Choice: Prostitution issues

 

After the discussion that the three of us have, I’m hoping to include anyone else who would like to join in the discussion.  This is the first run, so it might not go totally smoothly as it’s all being figured out, but I’m thinking I can answer any questions sent through chat as well as invite people to join the hangout for discussion.

https://plus.google.com/events/c5js9i9ar4ctbg9shs23v51atb8

Marriage as protection against accidental pregnancies not a new argument

Greta has a post up about the “increasingly stupid” tactics used by supporters of DOMA and Prop 8 — but, for better or for worse, the argument that marriage is different for heterosexuals because of accidental pregnancy is not a new argument at all.  It is, in fact, the primary argument used by the proponents in the original Prop 8 case.

I know, because the first time I ever got published in a “big space” was on Salon, for writing about this argument.

And Greta’s not the only one pointing to this — Rachel Maddow’s blog did as well.  Not that it isn’t worth pointing out, it definitely is, but it is even more worth pointing out that in the two and a half years the lawyers have had since the closing arguments of Prop 8 they’ve been unable to come up with anything more compelling.  Ouch.

Here was Judge Walker’s response at the time:

And [marriage], as Mr. Olson described this morning, is a right which extends essentially to all persons, whether they are capable of producing children, whether they are incarcerated, whether they are behind in their child support payments. There really is no limitation except, as Mr. Olson pointed out, a gender limitation.

Good news for us, bad for them.

The Biggest and Best of 2012

best2012

January: I continued to deal with fallout from pointing out that Ron Paul mixes his religion with his politics and is therefore not a good choice for secularists and sharing the death and rape threats I received by:

February: I began sharing videos of me playing the ukulele, which I bought myself for Christmas.  The first videos have terrible sound quality.  I go to Sweden with a research grant.

March: I went to Reason Rally and won a place on the front row by writing an essay for Richard Dawkins that won a contest.  I also made my acting debut in the stage version of Plan 9 From Outer Space.

April:  South Carolina continued to be a disappointing state for progressives, I got sent to church, and I spoke at the Rally Against the War on Women in Columbia, SC.

May: The SCA chooses Edwina Rogers to represent them and she does a poor job of introducing herself to the atheist community.  I attend and liveblog the Women in Secularism conference, which I am looking forward to again this year.

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June: I deal with the fallout of explaining the harassment I experienced at TAM and the uproar that women talking about harassment has caused in the online community.  There’s also good news from the national scene on gay rights and healthcare and bad news from the South Carolina scene on healthcare.  Also, I JOINED FTB.

July: Nikki Haley tries to destroy all arts funding and help for rape victims in the state of South Carolina.  AIDS is a major public health problem in South Carolina.  Chick-fil-A gets caught lying online.  Geek culture is criticized for being unwelcoming to women.

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August: We are introduced to the idea of fake middle grounds, legitimate rape, and I get angry about historical minutiae.

September: I got a co-blogger in the fantastic Kate Donovan, began my research into the ways mainstream American culture suppresses Southerners and poor people, and Kate gave us the friend manual on how to deal with friends struggling with mental illness (or any illness).

kate

October: DOMA ruled unconstitutional and I continue to rant about the lack of options against Joe Wilson.

November: I discuss my football (soccer) fandom and my newly developed fondness for Liverpool and cover the election and what it means, good and bad.

December: My dad stops talking to me because I am dating a black man, I explain the legal possibilities in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, Kate covers in-depth all the problems with tying Newtown shootings to Mental Illness, and I recommend some gun policy thoughts.  Robert Bork dies.

thisabed

 Wordpress’ analysis

 

Video Dragon*Con 2011: Do Be a Dick

This is the talk I gave at Dragon*Con last year, which was itself an expansion on the talk I gave at TAM9.  It’s about how to use emotions to your advantage when trying to promote a cause.  I talk about Prop 8, the importance of social justice in getting people to like atheists, and how to be a dick in an effective way.

The powerpoint and notes for the presentation are here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2011/09/06/do-be-a-dick-sometimes-emotions-and-skeptics/

Gay Marriage: Blankenhorn’s Conversion

It is human nature to love the story of a convert, but it is even better when the convert is someone who has been fighting against your cause for a long time.  David Blankenhorn was the key witness for the Prop 8 proponents (anti-marriage) and is generally thought to have made a bit of a shambles with the argument — mostly because there was no legitimate argument to be made.  He is now supporting gay marriage.

Blankenhorn’s primary argument up to the conversion had been that marriage is about having children and that same-sex marriage would undermine that purpose.  Despite his longtime support for so-called traditional marriage, he said the following in his testimony, in response to aggressive questioning:

I believe that adoption of same-sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children.

We would be more American on the day we legalized gay marriage than the day before.

With quotes like these in his testimony it is perhaps unsurprising that the lead witness against Californian’s right to gay marriage is now identifying as a gay marriage supporter.  Blankenhorn’s position has always been more nuanced and humanist than the anti-gay arguments generally given against same-sex marriage and it is refreshing to see him turn that nuanced acumen to a different conclusion.  I happen to massively disagree with his conclusions as to the worth, goals, and historical understanding of marriage, but it is clear he thinks that human dignity and rights are an important part of saving the institution he cares about and the only way to do that is to stop making the defining feature of marriage the fact that it’s for straights only.

His essay in the New York Times is heartening and a reminder that being out and being vocal about your rights does matter and changes the world, even if it is just one person at a time.

I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.

45 years since the summer of Loving

Today is the 45th anniversary of the decision in Loving v Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage in the US.  With Perry v Schwarzenegger (Prop 8.) and DOMA heading to SCOTUS this year, let us hope we will soon have marriage equality for all.  Even though the cases don’t have the perfect name Loving did.