A little immature snicker

News out of San Francisco:

San Francisco shed a vestige of its free-spirited past as local lawmakers narrowly approved a citywide ban on public nudity. Casting aside complaints that forcing people to cover up would undermine San Francisco’s reputation as a city without inhibitions, the Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 on Tuesday in favour of an ordinance that prohibits exposed genitals in most public places, including streets, sidewalks and public transit.

So y’know… that’s too bad I guess. Nudity doesn’t really hurt anyone, although I dare say there are some people whose naked bodies I would prefer not to see if I can avoid it. But so what? I also don’t like ads above the urinals at bars, but I’ve learned to deal. That’s not the funny part of this story. This is:

Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced the ban in response to escalating complaints about a group of men whose bare bodies are on display almost daily in the city’s predominantly gay Castro District. He said at Tuesday’s meeting that he resisted for almost two years, but finally felt compelled to act.

Umm... phrasing?

There is no larger point to be served here. I just thought it was a funny paragraph.

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How is a black man like a parking space?

Because all the good ones are taken or gay!

Wait… I think I screwed that joke up. Speaking of things that are screwed up, here’s a thing:

Extremist Christian and Bishop Earl Walker Jackson may believe gays are ‘sick’, but he has admitted he thinks they have stolen ‘all the nice looking black men.’ He made these comments while in an interview with Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, Right Wing Watch reports.

Jackson said: ‘Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex. So they can’t see clearly.’

Once again… a whole lot to unpack in even just this snippet of a statement. [Read more...]

The fall of (giving) a damn

The Scene: An expansive penthouse office in heaven. YAHWEH sits at a desk, happily munching on a bowl of peanuts and playing The Sims.

YAHWEH: Oh I know the stove is on fire, little Sim dude. But somebody sold all the doors and windows out of the house, so now the fire department can’t get in! Not so cute to complain about your lack of entertainment now, is it, you fucker? (He laughs wickedly).

(An alarm goes off. After waiting for a few moments, irritated, YAHWEH finally storms to the door to his office, throws it open, and enters an anteroom where panicked angels and archangels are screaming into phones, waving around reams of paper, and generally not looking happy. Somberly, one angel wipes the number ‘8’ from a whiteboard entitled ‘THIS PLANET HAS GONE __ DAYS WITHOUT A LOSS OF INNOCENCE’)

YAHWEH: Does someone want to tell me what the holy fuck is going on here?

(Gabriel, an archangel, quickly dismisses the person on the other end of the phone, hangs up, and approaches YAHWEH, clipboard in hand)

Gabriel: Bad news, boss. We’ve got a code black.

YAHWEH: A meteor is heading toward the planet?

Gabriel: No no, we haven’t scheduled that for (checks clipboard) another few thousand years or so. You said it would be funnier if we let the planet get populated with sentient creatures before we completely wiped it out.

YAHWEH: (Chuckles whimsically) Oh yeah. So what’s the problem? [Read more...]

Allergic to logic

The Scene: Heaven – Intelligence Design Inc., a celestial engineering firm. Angels toil away on various projects, some at architect’s easels, others at lab benches, other stitching together prototypes of different animal species. A senior angel wanders the corridors, supervising. A peal of trumpets announces the (unexpected) arrival of YAHWEH.

Supervisor: Lord! (All angels look up from their projects, shocked to see the boss, and reflexively genuflect)

YAHWEH: Surprise inspection time, bitches! What have you drones got cooking?

Supervisor: W…w…well Lord, we’ve been focusing on creating things for your animal creatures to eat. We wouldn’t want them to start eating each other, would we? (He chuckles weakly)

YAHWEH: Hmm… (YAHWEH pauses, musing) We’re going to put a pin in that idea.

(An angel attending YAHWEH scribbles a note on a pad of paper) [Read more...]

Okay, I actually DON’T ‘get’ this one

I talked earlier about people who criticize those who don’t respond positively to cruel and dehumanizing humour as not ‘getting it’.

What’s the matter? You don’t think that this is funny? Why, just because it’s all based on the abuse of oppressed people? Because it’s cruel and deeply offensive? Because the jokes are built upon an edifice that manifests itself in deeply un-funny ways that result in the suffering and sometimes death of your fellow human beings?

My point was that people who don’t laugh at racist/misogynistic/ableist/whatever jokes don’t suffer from some deficit of humour. It’s not that we simply lack understanding of why an asshole would find it funny to humiliate or otherwise insult a class of people based on an unfair power structure – it’s that we understand the harm those kinds of jokes cause.

That being said, there are definitely some things I don’t ‘get’, and this ad from the GOP is one of them:  [Read more...]

Movie Friday: Picking cotton on a racist field trip

On Wednesday my girlfriend and I went to a live comedy show at a place called Falconetti’s in Vancouver. The comedian was talking about babysitting his nephew (who is of Chinese descent) and hearing his wife sing to the toddler the kid’s song “I’ve been working on the railroad“, and expressing his comical shock and dismay at the idea of singing a song about railroad construction to a Chinese child in British Columbia*.

It reminded me of a summer job I had at Toronto’s Wild Water Kingdom where the inside parks (clean-up) staff was almost entirely black. We were working during the pre-season on resurfacing the stage, a job that we were nowhere near properly-trained or equipped to perform, when the park owner decided to try out some new “island” music. One of the songs that came on was “Pick a Bale of Cotton**”. I looked around and realized I was part of an all-black work gang, doing work that usually requires skilled workers, for which we were being paid minimum wage.

I made the owner throw out the CD.

I’m not the only one who’s had this experience:

While the story is funny, it does highlight the fact that racism often happens in an entirely accidental way, borne of lazy thinking and a lack of perspective. Understanding racism therefore requires the engagement of an active and informed mind, much like we hope to do in the skeptical and atheist world. We want people to be thinking about stuff rather than just patting themselves on the back for all the times they happened not to do something racist.

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*Although the joke misses the mark a bit, since “working on the railroad” actually means working as a porter. The song has racist connotations, but for black kids more so than Chinese ones (the Wikipedia article has the original lyrics – bonus points for noticing where it was originally published).

**Interestingly, I recognized this song from singing it in choir as a kid, at my nearly-all-white school. I didn’t understand what it meant then. If I heard it today, I’d throw some shit.

A tremendous loss to us all

Some day soon I will detail some information about the kind of mansplaining douchebro I used to be in the not-too-distant past. It will have to suffice for now when I tell you that I have said just about everything that those who use the term “feminazi” feel comfortable saying (with the exception of rape threats and the use of the suffix ‘Nazi’, because I was an asshole, not a goddamn moron). As a result, I understand where they’re coming from, and because I managed to claw my way out (thanks to a lot of help from some of my fellow FTBorg), I know where the handholds are.

That being said, it’s also a constant source of shame to recognize my old self in asshattery like this:

A letter written on an OKCupid profile to all women

Yes, someone has become so infuriated by his repeated rejection on a dating site (I am told it is OKCupid) that he has placed an MRA manifesto in place of a self-description:

Hello ladies(1).

I am no longer looking for any female companionship. Infact, I have abandoned the idea of women all together(2). Instead, I have decided to go my own way(3).

I am now officially a M.G.H.O.W(4) and a political activist for the Mens Rights Movement, known as a MRM.

I am actively standing to go on a marriage strike(5) and to fight the evil hate cult known as feminism(6), condeming all males for being.. male(7).

I know writing this won’t ever convince you to care(8) and you can simpley pass me off as “gay”(9) since I won’t bow down to your vagina(10), but I am informing you of this for one simple reason(11).

This is reality. Men are standing up(12). And a wave of indignation for the damage of the female species(13) has finally hit the tipping point. Men are bailing out of the system, and when we leave, the entire thing will collapse(14), and your world of shoes and purses will follow with it(15).

That’s right, you caused it “ladies”(16). I have had enough.

No more entitlements, no more free presents, no more chivalry(17).

Our fathers, brothers, and sons are tired of dieing for you while you cower in your house all day(18) demanding us men go and die for your freedoms(19).

1. Look at your monitor. Now look at me. Now back at your monitor. Now back at me. I’m on a rant!

2. The idea of women! Not just removing himself from the dating pool, but the very idea that women exist! Something tells me the reason he’s having a tough time is because he’s been trying to stick his dick in his ‘idea of women’ rather than, y’know, dealing with a real person.

3. Make sure you use lube and clear your browser history afterward.

4. Man Going His Own Way. I Google these things so you don’t have to.

5. “You hear me? All these wedding rings you’ve been offering me? I will now begin to REFUSE them! See how you like THEM apples, women who won’t sleep with me!”

6. A line which reminds me of one of my all-time favourite Jet Li movies.

7. Being a man isn’t the same as being a misogynist. Feminism is anti-misogyny, and if you think that makes it anti-male, then you hate men more than any feminist does.

8. *Sniff*

9. Surprisingly, men who don’t sleep with women are not de facto gay. That’s not how that works.

10. Which is how all the feminist cult meeting start. The high priestess puts a camera on the end of a speculum, inserts it into her vulva, and the rest of us bow down and worship her vaginal canal. True story.

11. I have zero difficulty believing that any of the reasons this guy does anything are the definition of ‘simple’

12. “and we’re not putting down the seat afterwards! So DEAL with it!”

13. Saaaaaame species. Men and women are not different species. Between this and the “bow down to your vagina” comment, I think this guy might never have even met a woman before.

14. I smell Ayn Rand.

15. This is my favourite line. SHOES AND PURSES!

An animated .gif of a man on a boat, laughing

16. “By failing to adhere to my expectation of what it is that women are like (mostly an amalgamation of shoes, purses, and vaginas), I hereby ROB YOU of the title of ladies, and insert sarcastic scare quotes! Kneel before the awesome might of my sophistry!”

17. Chivalry, interestingly, is a fundamentally sexist concept that relies on an image of women as weak and requiring the aid of men.

18. “Sitting on the couch (that a MAN bought for you! Or better yet fashioned with his OWN BARE HANDS out of the carcass of a FREAKIN’ MOUNTAIN LION) and eating bon-bons!

19. Because women in the army (I assume that’s what he’s talking about) don’t exist. And also he serves in the army, fighting bravely for the freedom of women who won’t fuck him no matter HOW many pushups he did at basic.

So yeah… this is particularly painful for me to read not only because of the stupidity and various language errors, but because I can see myself bitterly ranting along much the same lines. It took a long time for me to stop “outsmarting” myself and realize that the problem wasn’t everyone else – the problem was my own fucked up expectations of what the world (and specifically women) owed me.

Also, letters like this are the reason I don’t take MRAs seriously, and while they will never elicit much more from me than mocking dismissal – y’all are silly! If a guy like this feels more welcome in your “movement” than he does among feminists, then y’all are fucking welcome to him. As far as the whole “marriage strike” goes, I hope that it is not too presumptuous to answer on behalf of straight women:

An animated .gif of a woman saying "okay" sarcastically and giving a thumbs-up

You’ll be sorely missed

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