The Thin Veneer Of Civilization Peels Away

It looks just like civility
In towns both far and near
It looks as firm as solid oak—
It’s false as thin veneer.

They go to church on Sundays
And they bow their heads in prayer
American utopia?
Try peeling back a layer.

“Our boys are always gentlemen!
They like to party, but
They’re members of the football team!
It must have been the slut.”

And no, it’s not just Steubenville,
And no, it’s not just jocks
Just look online, at comment threads
On CNN or FOX.

They gladly make excuses for
This adolescent jape—
And claim they’d call the cops themselves…
If only this were rape.

This wasn’t really rape, they said,
And isn’t worth a fuss…
But, damn… it really isn’t them
I look around… It’s us

Let me start with verse 2–in this particular case, I absolutely do not mean that all the rape apologists are religious. I needed a rhyme for “layer”. My point is not hypocrisy, my point is that I don’t think there has been a news site I have yet checked–right wing, left wing, local, national, whatever–where there hasn’t been an active cluster of rape apologists. CNN. FOX. NPR. MSNBC. Others. On NPR, I took the bait of a troll, and remembered that it is much easier to compose a drive-by trolling post than to properly respond… other commenters warned not to feed the troll, but if no one responded at all, it could be confused with tacit approval of a rape apologist.

And here I am, a doggerel writer. A writer of light, often humorous commentary. Ever try to write lightly about something that turns your stomach? Cos I have. It doesn’t go well.

So, in part because of this stuff, in part because of never you mind, I spent part of last night shivering through an anxiety attack, and the rest of it not sleeping. And I can’t wait to read some good news. If you have any, I’d love to hear it.

And the damnedest thing is, I have absolutely no reason to complain. Here I just phrased much of this post in terms of *my* discomfort, and that is so far removed from the actual real thing that’s wrong that it just makes me look a fool.

I guess the good news is, so far (don’t point me to exceptions, not yet!) whereever I have seen rape apologists on news sites, I have seen people ready, willing, and able to call them on it. And it seems that the apologists have been in the minority–motivated, headstrong, stubborn as mules, and loud, but in the minority. It seems. I certainly hope so.

All that TED talking about de-extinction, and I can think of a species I wouldn’t mind saying goodbye to.


  1. Kylie Sturgess says

    Good news:
    – David Attenborough is touring Australia, again.
    – Ben Goldacre appears to be creating a fuss about teachers and evidence-based education
    – I found a spoon!
    – something something cake something cake cake
    – you’re writing despite it all. That’s a good thing.

  2. says

    I agree with Kylie – the fact that you wrote in spite of how you were feeling is a very good thing. That counts as good news in my book.

    I also find that hearing rape apology being pushed back – with vigor! – has been very good news indeed.

    In personal good news – one of my daughters is doing an internship with a plumbing tool company. It’s soul-sucking for my artistic girl, but she is a real trooper. This week, there was a trade show and she was excited for the change of pace (and getting to create the brochures in advance). Today, she was to demonstrate some sort of soldering technique on copper pipe and well…she got creative. I wish I could show you a photo of what she did! :D It would make you smile! Especially because the attendees were more interested in her little sculptures than in the plumbing application – well, maybe not MORE interested but as interested! :D

  3. Cuttlefish says

    I’d love to see it, nifty–if you have a pic, you can certainly send it to cuttlefishpoet (at) gmail (dot) com …. and having soldered my share of pipes, badly, I promise to be properly impressed!

  4. says

    I’ve just thought of another bit of good news related to the first bit – that you wrote in spite of how you were feeling.
    And by writing, you’ve torn another little piece off the facade of civility which is founded on rape culture.

    I think a lot of us become overwhelmed – the important thing is that writers like you and others keep getting back to it. Somehow. (hat tip because I know it is almost impossible sometimes!)

  5. zekehoskin says

    Oh noes! A bunch of rapists
    Were football-playin’ jocks!
    And good-old-boy escapists
    Are trying to ease the shocks
    It must have been the victim
    Although she was passed out
    She managed to inflict ’em
    With lust, beyond a doubt.

    The jocks, drunk with their power
    Made too free with their dicks
    They’ll long pay for that hour
    But there’s more than rape to fix.
    Call out all the public nutters
    Who excuse the crime that night.
    Call out every man who utters
    Things like “pussy is a right”

    Yeah, it’s kind of hard to take
    When so many get it wrong
    And no single rhyme will make
    A lot of difference for long
    But if we all speak out somehow
    Then change our culture will
    And we’ve a two-word answer now:
    Remember Steubenville.

  6. sillose says

    okay but theres good news too! the weather channel and USGS have absolutely no rape apologism going on. if there are any there they keep their mouths shut!

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