Dances with trolls.

[CONTENT NOTE: casual ableism]

Our troll story today begins as they almost always do: with an unprompted comment on an oooooold post. Behold my Facebook status from November 10, 2016:


Iris Vander Pluym
November 10, 2016 

JUST TO BE CRYSTAL CLEAR: If you voted for Donald Trump, or you live in a swing state and voted for a third party candidate or declined to vote entirely, UNFRIEND ME. You are now and always will be dead to me.

Now I thought I was being clear and fair. Kind, even, if not particularly nice. I felt that not only was I was doing a service to myself and my own online spaces, but to those who would interact with me, or decide not to. I then went ahead and proactively blocked some people, and apparently I did a pretty good job since only one Trump voter slipped by:

[Former IRL “friend”] Really

Iris Is a dead person trying to communicate with me? No, that cannot be. I don’t believe in ghosts. (Unfriended/blocked)

THE END.

Oh, wait no. NOT the end. Eight months later:

[Read more…]

Jeezus is just not selling me on this one.

I take tremendous pride in my half-assed, poorly executed, semi-regular attempts to extract $82 billion worth of benefits per year from the Religion-Industrial-Complex on behalf of atheist U.S. taxpayers. I find this to be a worthwhile endeavor not only as a stinging retort to the appalling injustice of $82 billion in yearly taxpayer subsidies to the R-I-C, but also because I thoroughly enjoy mocking one particular church sign in the small town in Northern Maryland where my mother lives. Granted, it may not provide the full $82 billion in amusement value. But we have to start somewhere, people.

Today’s church sign does not disappoint.

churchsignprescool

THE BEST THINGS IN
LIFE AREN’T THINGS
PRESCOOL
ENROLLING NOW

TRINITY WORSHIP 9&11

Now let me underscore here that literacy privilege is A Thing, and generally speaking we should not mock those who do not have it. Earth is home to an astonishing number of amazing and interesting people whose ideas are well worth engaging, even if spelling and grammar are not their personal forte. This could be true for any number of reasons that come to mind readily enough: learning disabilities; neurocognitive effects of injury, illness or environmental toxins; poor nutrition; mental illness, including trauma from homelessness or abuse; and of course late exposure to non-native English. But here in these exceptional United States we have another problem. My friend CaitieCat explains:

Particularly in a US context, where educational options are very strongly influenced by class (and race, in an intertwined manner), riding the xenophobes for misspelling ‘illegals’ as ‘illeagles’, or “Muslim” as “muslin”, what we’re saying is, “You should have been smart enough to get yourself born to the right kind of parents, who’d give you access to the best education, who were educated themselves enough to teach you ‘proper’ English, and who were rich enough to make sure you never had to work after school instead of studying!”

So yeah, let’s not do that. Tempting as it may be to go after the low-hanging fruit, we can and we damn well should mock xenophobes for being racist and conservative and terrible entitled assholes. This way, the splash damage splatters all over racists and conservatives and terrible entitled assholes, not shitty spellers. Really, that’s the very least of our problems with these humans.

With all that said, if you accept (tax-free!) tuition money to indoctrinate educate 3- and 4-year old kids, and your curriculum explicitly states “Our students are exposed to structured centers enhancing emergent literacy skills (reading & writing),” WE GET TO FUCKING MOCK YOU FOR SPELLING PRESCHOOL WRONG.

Have a nice day.

Twitter bot mockery FTW.

A good friend and Loyal Reader™ linked me to this Twitter feed, with the comment “I swear you’re behind this.” It’s generated by a bot (named Joel Dongsteen) that replaces the word “God” with “your dick” in the tweets of the insufferable pastor Joel Osteen. Much hilarity ensues.

Hahaha. Awesome.

While I am deeply flattered by my friend’s complimentary* comparison to the fine work of Mr. Dongsteen, I never in a million years would have done this. I would have replaced “God” with “your vagina.”

__________
*A psychologist once taught me to take anything as a compliment if it can be reasonably construed that way. Depression-prone veterans of cognitive therapy will recognize this tactic as an antidote to taking everything—literally everything—as a validation of our worst and most irrational convictions about ourselves. But then I thought, why stop there? Instead of simply negating those persistent negative thoughts with reality-based assessments, why not take everything as a compliment that can possibly be construed that way, even unreasonably? I mean, if unreasonable interpretations of everyday messages and events are a core part of the depressive psyche, why can’t they be a really fun part of the cure? In any case, it’s very satisfying to deliberately react with ostentatious gratitude to intentional insults lobbed in your direction; you feel great, and it confuses the hell out of your enemies.

I approve this mockery.

IMAGE: Sunset at Waterrock Knob © Robert Ludlow, North Carolina photographer (Used with permission. All rights reserved.)IMAGE: Sunset at Waterrock Knob
© Robert Ludlow, North Carolina photographer
(Used with permission. All rights reserved.)

As readers here know, the stunningly beautiful state of North Carolina recently enacted an egregious law that voids and prohibits any and all anti-discrimination statutes enacted by local municipalities to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, among others. The law also prohibits local anti-discrimination statutes and/or state law remedies for discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, ethnicity and religion. And since this was not nearly enough doucheweaselry to pack into a single bill introduced in an “emergency session” and passed into law 11 hours and 10 minutes later, it went even further: with respect to public-sector contractors, HB2 also prohibits local municipalities from enacting laws concerning minimum wages, health insurance standards, family leave policies, child welfare protections and the number of consecutive hours an employee is required to work without a break. I mean that is impressive people, amirite?

The most notorious provision of HB2 is the one requiring people to use restrooms corresponding to their assigned gender at birth. Putting aside (for the purposes of this particular rant) its significant implications for those of nonbinary genders, HB2 means, among other things, that these people must now use restrooms designated “WOMEN”: [Read more…]

Hello FtB people. FYI, I don’t like squirrels.

I’m Iris, and I really don’t like conservatives. Or squirrels.

(More on that in a minute.)

My story.

I’m one of those notorious godless, feminist leftists, living in New York City for two decades now. I was raised in and around Philadelphia by Christian conservatives, and thereby indoctrinated with the notion that Nice Girls™ never talk about sex, religion or politics. As it turns out though, those are pretty much the only subjects I have any interest in discussing (besides the fucking squirrels OBVIOUSLY).

I blog at perry street palace, and I’m not yet sure whether or to what extent I will move the Palace here. I figure I can just hang out in this space for a while and see how it goes. In the meantime I’ll probably cross-post and re-post here when it feels appropriate, so apologies in advance to my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ if you’ve followed me here expecting a spectacular cornucopia of new material. Despite appearances, Your Humble Monarch™ is only human, people. I can only crank out so much snark (and craptastic graphics) in a day.

I also blog at Secular Woman and contribute to the HerStory project there, a collaboration with the Freedom From Religion Foundation to celebrate the work of secular women and counter their pervasive erasure from contemporary and historical narratives. I write for the The Greanville Post, and have guest posted at Pharyngula and Worldwide Hippies/Citizen Journalist Exchange and blah blah blah I don’t really like talking about myself MOVING ON.

On mocking conservatives.

I write about a lot of things, but mocking conservatives is truly my calling.

It may be worthwhile to briefly take stock of exactly what it is that US conservatives so fervently wish to conserve: an imperialist oligarchy, in a perpetual state of permanent war, governing a society that is structurally racist, sexist, violent, social Darwinist, ubercapitalist, patriarchal and viciously punitive.

So there’s that.

Because violence (except when necessary for defense) is never a good solution to any problem (except for the goddamn squirrels), this is where mockery can come in quite handy. Properly deployed, it is an extraordinarily potent weapon; that is precisely why petty tyrants, repressive regimes and right-wing asshats the world over will attempt to suppress and seek to outright ban political satire. Clearly it is worth engaging in mockery just to piss off these kinds of people alone.

More broadly though, the social spaces in which conservatives freely regurgitate their toxic views with impunity are downright ubiquitous in the US. If we want to subvert this reality—that is, make the spaces conservatives have heretofore inhabited comfortably uncomfortable for them (for a refreshing change)—then there must be a social price to pay for spewing that tripe. And as any social justice warrior worth her trolls will tell you, silence in the face of harmful speech, from rape jokes to racist slurs, is taken as agreement and solidarity by the speaker, and by others who may witness it.

In one sense, mocking conservatives is easy. Having dedicated much of my adult life to the study of conservatives in the wild (and not coincidentally, much of my childhood to surviving them), I can tell you that these people are some seriously fragile flowers. Conservatives are compulsively status- and approval-seeking creatures, and place a weirdly high value on superficial norms and social conformity. This makes them uniquely vulnerable to any suggestion that they are the outsider (and incidentally explains why they prefer to dwell in the homogeneous bubbles they erroneously construe as the One True Real America™).

I can also tell you that conservatives generally do not change their views in response to overwhelming evidence and reason; in fact, they have an unfortunate propensity to cling to their demonstrably wrong views even more tightly when confronted with rational appeals. So while it isn’t remotely realistic to envision conservatives becoming more reality-based in numbers significant enough to bring about an enlightened egalitarian society in the US, it is a legitimate (if daunting) goal to make sure it is in their own best interests to shut the fuck up. After all, their own interests are pretty much the only thing that has ever motivated them.

But if mocking conservatives is easy in theory, it is not so easy in practice. Whenever we launch rhetorical barbs at our conservative enemies, we must take great care to avoid collateral damage to innocent third parties—and particularly to third parties who are marginalized, oppressed or otherwise less privileged. We do not want to be the ones perpetuating the ugly status quo; that’s their thing. As all activists do, I sometimes fuck this up (and I welcome being called out when I do). But nevertheless it is necessary to leverage whatever privilege, power and platforms we have to punch up—never down—and to only use our mockery superpowers for good.

That said, conservatives are manifestly not marginalized, oppressed or less-privileged in any way. They control the government of the most powerful nation on Earth, have done so for decades if not centuries, and show no sign of retreat (quite the opposite). They have also taken over state and local governments across the nation and are eagerly destroying civil liberties, labor unions, the human right to bodily autonomy, the air and the water, the rule of law, living wages, public education, the woefully insufficient social safety net, crops and coastlines, the wall of separation between church and state, the wall of separation between big business and government, and the lives of countless millions of innocent people, including children, here and around the globe. (This is hardly a complete list of conservative evils.)

Therefore it is our goddamn patriotic duty to mock them, relentlessly, until they are the ones whose voices are marginalized. As opposed to, you know, everyone else. Then and only then will we quit. (Maybe.)

Thoughts on religion.

I’m against it! I’m a capital “A” Atheist and Anti-theist and not shy about it. I think faith itself—that is, belief without evidence—is a terrible pox on humanity. (And then pretending that is some kind of virtue?! PLEASE.) Faith as an epistemology fosters all kinds of tragedies, like irrationality and gullibility, wars, toxic masculinity and awful music. I abhor it, and would like it to go away forever THE END.

But the thing is, my Muslim and Christian and Jewish and Hindu and neopagan and astrologist friends and neighbors are intelligent and kind and tolerant people. Except for the supernatural bullshit, their values and priorities overlap with mine considerably. You will therefore be unsurprised to learn that they are not conservatives.

From this observation I think we can gain some important insights into some very big and complex issues we face, as a nation and as a species. For example, the problem in the Middle East isn’t Islam—it’s conservative Islam. ISIS is not made up of liberal Muslims seeking to create a pluralistic society based on democracy, equality and tolerance. Likewise, the problem in the US isn’t Christianity—it’s conservative Christianity. The problem in Myanmar is conservative Buddhists, if you can believe it.

So while I’m not about to stop skewering faith or religion generally, I naturally tend to direct my most pointed mockery at the conservatives among the faithful. THEY ARE THE FUCKING WORST.

But it isn’t because they’re religious, at least not fundamentally. It’s because they’re—say it with me now!—conservatives.

For what it’s worth (probably not much) I once took a silly political test and scored so far off the left end of the graph that I had to redesign the chart just to plot my position:

irischart

Economic score (Left/Right): -18.25 Social score (Libertarian/Authoritarian): -9.03

I call your attention to this chart incident not to flaunt my lefty bona fides or anything, but to perhaps offer some perspective on my otherwise inexplicable loathing of all things conservative, and my burning mission to mock them. Mercilessly.

Now about those squirr—

OMFG I have so, so much to tell you! But this post is waaaay too long already. (I may have forgotten to mention that I can be excruciatingly verbose? Oops.) So the fucking squirrels will have to wait.

But would be remiss if I did not leave you with this advice: Be afraid. Be very afraid.