“Black Twitter Is The Internet At Its Best” (a villanelle)

“The following alert is not a test”,
The TV said–We knew that they were wrong:
(Black twitter is the Internet at its best.)

When ranks of cops, in riot gear were dressed,
They tried to quell the crowd with this strange song:
“The following alert is not a test!

We urge you to comply with our request!”
“Request”? A lie, but not for long:
Black twitter is the Internet at its best.

The propaganda leaves us unimpressed—
A fading view they’re trying to prolong–
“The following alert is not a test”

But… yes, it is; it measures the unrest,
The inability to “play along”…
Black twitter is the Internet at its best

Black twitter sees the marchers, ten abreast,
As canisters of tear gas hit the throng…
The following alert is not a test:
Black twitter is the Internet at its best [Read more...]

And To Think That I Saw It On National News

On the tube or the net, the distraction I choose
Is to sample a bit of the national news
I look for the stories that tug at my brain—
The ones that are tricky, or hard to explain
But the story today? Well, we’ve seen it before;
Just another sad death in a long, bloody war;
A conflict that seemingly never will stop…
Just another black kid who’s been killed by a cop.
[Read more...]

An Ode To Open Carry

I carry my gun to the toilet, and boy, let
Me tell you, it’s difficult wiping my ass
But guns are important! For freedom, you need ‘em
In every location—a critical mass!
I carry while changing my baby, cos maybe
A diaper goes rogue, and I need to defend!
My AK goes with me while shopping—no stopping—
The good guy who carries is everyone’s friend!

At church, while receiving my wafer, I’m safer
Cos slung on my back are my rifle and scope
In tactical gear, wearing camo, with ammo
I’m here for the sermon, a message of hope!
I’m eating left-handed at Chili’s—it’s silly;
I can’t eat a Whopper, cos that takes two hands
The NRA finds open carry too scary—
I’m not giving in to their leftist demands!

On Blame

There’s something gone wrong—why, he’s clearly insane;
There’s a chemical problem that’s hurting his brain,
Some organic dysfunction that helps to explain
Why he hasn’t been acting quite right
It’s clearly these deep neurological flaws
That are making him act in defiance of laws;
It has to be something! It can’t be because
He is young, and he’s male, and he’s white.

We’ll break it all down in the usual way
Is he poor? Is he black? Is he godless, or gay?
There must be a reason he’s drifted astray
Any label at all is fair game.
There has to be something (the experts discuss,
And for experts to notice and make such a fuss
There’s a reason) that means “he is not one of us!”
Cos we don’t want to share in the blame!

The misogynist message he posted online?
The authorities saw it, and called it benign!
Why, it’s only in hindsight we call it a sign—
We see worse things than that every day!
Why, if all of society ground to a halt
When some internet loner claimed plans of assault
We’d be doomed—with the innocent loners at fault
When it’s only a game that they play!

See, freedom of speech is a blessing and curse
You can say what you want—you can bully, or worse—
(And they can’t even force you to say it in verse)
Save specific and credible threat
But legitimate threats don’t stand out from the noise
And the language a dangerous asshole employs
Since it can’t be distinguished from “one of the boys”
Are the claims #YesAllWomen will get

It is a common claim: if you blame society, you are letting the perpetrator off the hook! But remember the flip side–when you blame the perp, you are letting society off the hook.

I am not a fan of “justice”; it’s a concept that, near as I can tell, was invented to let us blame individual criminals after the fact, instead of doing the hard work of changing the environment to actually prevent crimes before they occur, in cases where there are known variables we can control.

We have heard, and will continue to hear, reasons why a particular individual should shoulder all the blame. We will be told that we are weak on crime if we even entertain the notion that anything other than that individual is to blame.

Bullshit.

I would much rather prevent a crime than punish a criminal after a crime has been committed. And yes, I know that paints me as someone opposed to freedom–the freedom to swing my fist up to the point where someone else’s nose begins. If it is right to intervene after a crime is committed, it is right to intervene. If moral responsibility exists, then knowing that an element of our culture contributes to crime, and doing nothing about that element, makes us as culpable for our inaction as we wish others to be for their action.

The difference is whether we wait for people to be hurt before recognizing our ability to make a difference.

No Black Mass For Harvard…

After quite a bit of back-and-forth, Harvard does the wrong thing. Well worth watching, if head-bangingly frustrating.

My favorite quote, of course, is from a Harvard Senior (and, I am guessing, Catholic), who noted “I am very pleased that my religion is not going to be desecrated or my gender objectified or my university embarrassed by these actions”… showing that even at Harvard, we cannot expect people to understand either A) the Satanist view of gender, or B) her own Catholic view.

Those pin-headed libruls at Harvard discovered*
American values they didn’t expect.
In Harvard’s array of fine classes, Black Masses
Are never included—it’s simple respect!
Why, Boston is Cath’lic, and Satan keeps waitin’,
He won’t be invited, and that’s for the best
The devil and “Cultural Studies” are buddies
But this isn’t culture, it’s purely hate-fest

It’s good that the Satanists’ voices, their choices,
Are silenced in favor of Catholic rule
It’s Harvard—alternative viewpoints are new points,
And freedom of speech isn’t taught at this school.
The students at Harvard object to a sect, to
A viewpoint that treats them as less than they are
The Catholic Church, though, keeps trying, denying
That women are equal… at least, not so far.

*this counts as a rhyme, courtesy of Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements”.

In Defense Of The “Village Atheist”

The thing about a village is,
There’s nowhere you can hide
Cos everyone knows everyone
(A point of village pride)

And should you act distinctively,
That act becomes your role
A label thrust upon you—
Wholly out of your control

If your label as an “other”
Is too difficult a test,
You will monitor your actions
So you blend in with the rest.

It’s how villages keep order
And maintain the status quo
You can risk a village label
Or be safe, and just lie low

Thus we find the Village Idiot
(With luck, there’s only one)
And the nasty Village Atheist
Who argues just for fun

But for groups in the majority
Whose thoughts and acts are shared
There’s no “other” role required
So that label they are spared

It’s a simple sort of governance,
Enforcing right and wrong
The “Village X” may live here,
But they really don’t belong.

So my aggregator threw an article my way, “Why more atheists need to speak out against village atheism” (written, I probably don’t need to tell you, not by an atheist but by a Christian apologist just trying to be helpful):

Over the last five years that I have been blogging I have noted the extensive presence of village atheism within the infidel blogosphere. While the blogosphere also has its share of “village Christians”, what is particularly ironic about the proliferation of village atheism is the fact that the online atheist/skeptic community persistently tries to brand itself as being especially rational, critical, and objective. And yet, the widespread and vocal opinions of the village atheists directly contradicts this lofty branding.

His concern is noted. He goes on to describe “village atheists” in great detail, and mentions a second time that there is also such a thing as the “village christian”, but does not describe or give examples.

Thing is, there really isn’t a “village christian”, not in this culture, not meaningfully. I did a search for “the village atheist”, “the village idiot”, and “the village christian”, and in the words of Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others. You can go for pages and pages of “the village christian school”, or “the village christian daycare” or find the phrase “…the village. Christian…” as the juxtaposition of two sentences in a story. I have not found it used in the same sense as “the village idiot” or “the village atheist” yet.

And that’s because “the village X” is a designated minority role. It’s a way of othering, of dismissing with a label, of designating someone to be both part of the village and apart from the village.

We have village atheists because we have people who are eager to speak up, but not terribly well versed in the topic they are speaking of. We have a great many more Christians who are eager to speak up, but not terribly well versed in the topic they are speaking on (we don’t have to look far). These are not “village Christians”, though–they are wholeheartedly welcomed members of the community. They are the village. It is not the fact that someone doesn’t have all the facts that makes them the “village atheist”; it is the fact that they are the atheist.

Interestingly (well, to me, at least), I did not run across any suggestion that “the village atheist” was meant to evoke comparisons to “the village idiot”. I really expected that the link was intentional and meant to disparage, but it appears that the terms are independent (I would, of course, defer to someone who can show otherwise, but I found nothing), both naturally occurring instances of an in-group labeling an out-group.

Lastly, to my mind the finest treatment of the village idiot ever (but see comment #4 below for a well-argued alternate choice)… though it never actually uses the phrase. The Beatles, with “The Fool On The Hill”:

It’s Protective Custody, That’s What It Is.

Once again, recent events call out an older verse. I fucking hate it when that happens.

[...S]ome civil libertarians and women’s rights advocates worry that if Gibbs is convicted, the precedent could inspire more prosecutions of Mississippi women and girls for everything from miscarriage to abortion — and that African Americans, who suffer twice as many stillbirths as whites, would be affected the most.

Mississippi has one of has one of the worst records for maternal and infant health in the U.S., as well as some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease and among the most restrictive policies on abortion. Many of the factors that have been linked to prenatal and infant mortality — poverty, poor nutrition, lack of access to healthcare, pollution, smoking, stress — are rampant there.

“It’s tremendously, tremendously frightening, this case,” said Oleta Fitzgerald, southern regional director for the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy and research organization, in Jackson. “There’s real fear for young women whose babies are dying early who [lack the resources to] defend themselves and their actions.”

Jennifer, Jennifer, got herself pregnant,
The poor, irresponsible slut.
See, boys will be boys, so it’s up to the girls
To be moral, and keep their legs shut.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, couldn’t be bothered;
She led her young Billy astray.
They met, after classes, at Jennifer’s house,
And now there’s a kid on the way.

Jennifer, Jennifer, wants an abortion—
She says she’s too young for a baby—
But the law of the land says abortion is murder;
The answer is no, and not maybe.
See, murder is murder; we cannot condone
The destruction of innocent life.
And Billy, of course, is an innocent, too,
And he’s much, much too young for a wife.

So Jennifer, Jennifer, finds herself caught
In the view of a watchful Big Brother,
And Country and Church have a task on their hands—
How to keep the babe safe from its mother.
If murder is murder, for fetus or child,
Then surely assault is assault;
A fetus is damaged by drinking or smoking,
And all of it, Jennifer’s fault.

If Jennifer, Jennifer, falls down the stairs
Then the baby inside could be harmed;
And since that poor child is a ward of the state
It is right we should all be alarmed!
So Jennifer, Jennifer, needs to be safe
For the sake of the babe in her womb;
To keep the poor innocent safe from all harm,
Let’s keep Jennifer locked in her room.

But Jennifer, Jennifer, isn’t the first
Nor the last to be pregnant, you see.
The task that’s before us—protecting our children—
Is crucial, I think you’ll agree.
With the passing to law of my modest proposal,
I honestly think we’ll prevail.
It’s simple: Each woman who finds herself pregnant
Must spend the next nine months in jail.

Jennifer, Jennifer, shielded from harm
In a cell with a toilet and cot
With a closed-circuit camera, an unblinking eye,
For the safety of Jennifer’s tot.
When at last you deliver your new baby boy
We’ll whisk you right out through the door;
We care about kids while they’re inside your womb—
Once they’re out, we don’t care any more.

And Jennifer, Jennifer, can’t find her Billy—
Besides, he’s too young for a wife—
She weighs her alternatives, looks down each road…
And reluctantly takes her own life.

And the church says a prayer for the baby unborn
And a heartfelt and tearful farewell.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, so says the church,
Will be heading directly to hell.

There is, unfathomably, a lot of talk recently about what should have been settled long ago. What *was* settled long ago. And when even Jimmy Carter points to religion as a root cause of violence against women, there is no question which side atheists should be on.

On Realizing That Corporations Are People Too… And That You’ve Fallen In Love With One.

My darling corporate entity
I’ve loved you from the start
One hundred ten percentity,
With more than just my heart
I told you what I meantity
In poetry and prose
You showed your discontentity
And that’s the way it goes.

My sweetheart business enterprise
I tried to win you back
I told you my intenterprise—
You told me what I lack
My capital I’d spenterprise
But you would not invest
My future’s in descenterprise—
My value is depressed.

My love, my all, my syndicate—
Forever and beyond!
I note, to my chagrindicate,
My word’s my only bond
I’d fight through thick and thindicate
To have you as my bride
I know I cannot windicate;
You know, at least, I tried

My darling corporate entity
I’ve loved you from the start
One hundred ten percentity,
With more than just my heart
I told you what I meantity
In poetry and prose
You showed your discontentity
And that’s the way it goes.

Yeah… put “loving you back” as another difference between the kind of people known as “corporations” and the kind of people known as “people”. “Going to jail” is another thing corporations can’t do. We’ll find out pretty soon whether “discrimination” is yet another.

Someone Is… On The Internet

An article on politics—
No if, no ands, no buts—
Will bring out Libertarians
Who’ll demonstrate they’re nuts
But also arch-conservatives
And liberals by the score
Who’ll engage in verbal fisticuffs
And all return for more.

An essay on religion—
Any angle you might choose—
An opinionated blog post
Or the fair and balanced news
Will find arguments aplenty
By extremists on both sides
(Oh, and everyone’s extremist)
As predictable as tides

A feminist perspective—
On whatever thing you want—
Will, like maggots on a rotting corpse,
Erupt in shouts of “cunt!”
Any argument transmogrified,
Distorted, shouted down;
The important thing is showing
Who’s the big dog in this town

A report about the climate,
Evolution, or vaccines,
Gun control, or education,
GM foods, or gay Marines—
In the comments, it’s a certainty,
As daytime follows night,
That opposing sides will gather there
And then begin to fight.

A picture of a kitten—
Or a puppy, or some ducks—
The comments start with “ooh!” and “squee!”
And then—“Obama sucks!”
Or a photo of a fetus
Or “nice pussy!” or some threat…
It’s depressing; it’s disturbing;
It’s annoying… it’s the ‘net.

I was going to link the article that inspired this particular verse, but it frankly doesn’t deserve singling out. And I don’t mean that in a positive way–it does deserve being seen as shameful… but so do countless others that could just as easily have inspired today’s verse… and, to some extent, did, I guess. I am sure you’ve had the experience (unless you have taken the very good advice of NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!!!!) of reading some innocuous piece of reporting, or some blog post (whether a report on breaking news, new science, or what the writer did last night or found in their shoes this morning), and there in the comments, a non-sequitor (or at best, tangential) comment linking the writing to the commenter’s particular grudge–Obama, usually, or atheists or christians or muslims or libertarians or gays or blacks or trans or women or mentally ill or republican or democrat or jews or nazis or activists of all sorts… it will depend on who are the naturally occurring flora and fauna at that particular site. If your experience is with completely different accusations, all that means is that you read different sites than I do.

It almost doesn’t matter what the original writing was about; the real action is in the comments. People who say this is a post-racial society… don’t read the comments. People who say this is a post-feminist society… don’t read the comments. People who say the real victims today are conservative white Christian males… don’t read the comments. Reading the comments is like turning on the lights in a filthy room–you see things you really wish you had not.

I think I’ll go shower now.

I suppose this is related.

On Bodily Autonomy

There are accidents and incidents
And surgeries and wars—
There’s a constant need for blood, and so,
We’d like to borrow yours.

You can spare a pint or so a month—
We’ll take it from your arm—
And to make the process easier,
I’m setting up a farm:

We’ll keep you while you serve your term,
Three-quarters of a year,
And harvest blood and marrow—
For the greater good, it’s clear

You’ll be saving lives by dozens
So you’ll gladly do your part
Sure, we’re forcing your donation
Still, it’s coming from your heart

You’re in servitude to others
It’s a slavery of sorts
But you’re saving lives, and so we know
You’re good and willing sports

You can put your wishes second
You can put your life on hold
You can meet your obligations
You can do what you are told

You claim rights we cannot trample
Or shout “Freedom!” till you’re hoarse
You have life inside your bloodstream…
If we have to, we’ll use force

To complain’s unpatriotic—
But extremists raise their voice
And they’ll blather “it’s my body”
And the foolish “it’s my choice”

If the state controls your body
Then that argument’s a dud;
For the sake of someone else, then,
We’ll be harvesting your blood.

***

I doubt I need to put this in context.