You won’t be surprised to learn where Freethoughtbloggers stand on the Ukraine war

I await the announcement from various regressives that this isn’t really “freethought” because we are unanimous in condemning the war.

Can everyone just go home now and begin to rebuild?

Peak Atlantic

Burial service for victims of the SS Atlantic shipwreck, April 1873.

At last, I’ve finally reached the end of The Atlantic. I have read one article that is like a flawless, pure distillation of everything that annoys me about waffly liberal writing. Sarah Hepola writes a long rambling pointless essay titled The Things I’m Afraid to Write About. She starts off with a conversation in which she talks about a literary party in New York City that she had attended — already we’re deep into the territory of the cliche. Here’s what bothers her:

“So why were you there again?” he asked.

“Because I wanted to talk to other writers about the things you can’t write about anymore.”

His eyes narrowed. “What things can’t you write about?”

“Gender, sex, politics. The things you and I discuss.”

He ran a hand through his hair. “I’d think those would be the most interesting things to write about.”

I gave him an exasperated look. “Are you kidding? I’d get killed!”

His look wasn’t judgmental. I’d say it was disappointed. What he said was slow, and careful, and I’ve never forgotten it. “But I thought that’s what writers do.”

Then, the rest of the over-long pseudo-literary noise is Hepola whining about all the things she can’t write about, which she’s writing for a fairly prestigious magazine, and she somehow manages to squander this opportunity by not saying anything about what she thinks, except to say, gosh, here are topics I won’t write about. It is a colossal waste of time.

She ends with a promise to work up the courage to speak up more about her positions on all these vaguely stated topics. You know, the ones she couldn’t speak about in this tedious essay.

Maybe I’ll write something great this year. Maybe I’ll write something lousy. Maybe I’ll meet the love of my life, and maybe come April, I’ll be picking up groceries for the good people of North Texas who need those seven items, pronto. You can’t predict these things; it’s all guesswork. I know this: I’m finally ready to have a conversation with the world.

Ready? But she didn’t. How did this get published? Were the editors deeply impressed with her ability to say nothing at all at such great length? Most writers, when they write, write because they have something to say; this writer wrote because she had nothing to say, and didn’t say it. And The Atlantic published it.

Running the gauntlet

I knew that Ketanji Brown Jackson was a good choice when I saw this illustration:

Not shown is possibly the most important qualification: she isn’t the choice of the Federalist Society.

But I also made a prediction to myself, that the hearings over her appointment were going to be a kangaroo court. Her qualifications don’t matter. She’s black. The Republicans were going to go for blood. Of course they did: Josh Hawley immediately accused her of being soft on pedophiles.

The pedophilia smear put the lie to Republicans’ assurances that they would conduct the hearings with dignity.

“We won’t try to turn this into a spectacle,” proposed Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the committee’s ranking Republican.

“It won’t be a circus,” promised Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.).

Even Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), a regular ringmaster, said “this will not be a political circus.”

Then the clown car rolled in. Republicans used their opening statements to portray Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the high court, as not just a pedophile enabler but also a terrorist sympathizer with a “hidden agenda” to indoctrinate Americans with the “racist vitriol” of critical race theory.

Then the assholes opened their sphincters.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) scolded Jackson, a former public defender, for the way she represented “people who have committed terrorist acts against the United States,” saying her “zealous advocacy has gone beyond the pale.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) seemed to be trying to associate the nominee with a host of evils in an inchoate tirade about “anarchists, rioters and left-wing street militias,” the “breakdown of society,” and “Soros prosecutors” who “destroy our criminal justice system from within.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), the final Republican to speak, accused Jackson of providing “free legal services to help terrorists get out of Gitmo and go back to the fight,” supporting “the radical left’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court” and harboring a “hidden agenda … to let violent criminals, cop killers and child predators back to the streets.”

A further prediction: in the final vote, the Republicans will be in lockstep to deny a highly qualified person a seat on the court.

We really need to destroy that political party. Those named Republican senators above, and many more, are a national disgrace, every one of them.

What next?

As a cis-het relatively healthy white male person in a stable financial position, I’m getting worried. Who can I victimize next? We’ve trampled on the rights of people of other races, lord knows if you get sick you are fucked, The Gays are mocked and abused, we are definitely punishing the poor for being poor, and we’re deep into our campaign to humiliate and torture trans people.

But…once we’ve achieved our goals and completed The Cis Agenda, what are we to do? Who’s the next group (who isn’t us, obviously) we can beat down and abuse to make ourselves feel good about ourselves? I feel like we’ve reached the final frontier, the end of history. “When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” Or perhaps more appropriately, what do schoolyard bullies do when they’ve beaten up all the smaller kids at the playground?

Are you feeling some pity for the privileged cis folk yet?

Don’t give Matt Powell any sympathy

Schisms are so confusing. There is this thing called the Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, which I always thought was on the dangerously loony side of Christianity, but it turns out it wasn’t mad enough for some people, so they founded something called the New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, which is even worse. It’s led by Steven Anderson, known hate-monger, and is characterized by extreme anti-LGBT sentiment and anti-Semitism. These are the worst of the worst, the rotting dregs of Christianity. Greg Locke, who recently made news with his announcements about witches in his congregation, doesn’t seem to be NIFB, but he did break away from the Southern Baptist Convention to form his own schismatic group, and I don’t see much difference between Anderson and Locke.

But you know who is NIFB? Matt Powell.

He seems such a nice, baby-faced boy, you say. He’s definitely not very bright, but he couldn’t possible be one of them. Yeah, he is. It’s easy to forget that he has been calling for the execution of LGBT people. I just stumbled across this video of Powell haranguing a member of his congregation a few years ago, shouting, screaming, saying he is “acting like a woman”, gaslighting him, accusing him of betrayal, telling him he’s going to Hell. It’s extremely unpleasant, but mercifully a very short clip.

That has me wondering. I’ve seen a lot of speculation that Powell is throwing his life away by tying himself to Kent Hovind, that Hovind is exploiting his young acolyte. But Hovind is theologically extremely naive, not at all a deep thinker, somebody who is cartoonishly shallow. What if we’ve got it backwards? What if Powell is the serpent, the devious Sith who plans to drag Hovind further towards the Dark Side, inoculating him with even more extremist seeds of hate?

Sure, you can joke about Matt Powell keeping a giant inflatable banana in his backyard, but don’t let it distract you from the fact that he’s a pathetic hate-filled rage beast, and isn’t funny at all.

Nick Lane is a cruel master

He’s trying to destroy me, I think. Look what showed up today, the day after Spring Break, just when I’m getting geared up for my classes: Transformer: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death.

That’s my most eagerly anticipated book of the summer — it’s release date is in July. But see, it’s an “Advance Reading Copy”. I had it in my head that I’d finish finals week, then check my mailbox daily for it, and get it at sometime when I could sit out on the deck and read it in a leisurely fashion. But no! It’s already here! Beckoning, luring, tempting me constantly. I know I’m going to succumb and at some point I’m going to set grading and lecture prep aside and read it instead, greedily, surreptitiously, lustfully, sinfully indulging in biochemistry and evolution.

Maybe I can put on a down jacket and clear off a spot on the snow-covered deck and read it there anyway.

Don’t any of you dare order an advanced copy, or the publishers will take that as permission to disrupt my professional responsibilities with the temptations of their houses of wicked knowledge!

Worst school mascot ever

My god, even their Indian mascot looks awfully white. My high school’s mascot was the Kent-Meridian Royals, and even he (a European-looking guy in a crown*) didn’t look as stereotypically white as that guy.

It’s been 50 years, and no one noticed? That this Texas high school called their drill team the “Indianettes” should have been a big flag on that.

The Indianettes have been a PN-G tradition for more than 50 years. This year, the drill team is made of 54 members and will march with the band during half time. Members participate in many activities all year long, including summer camp, pep rallies, and half time performances during football season, and basketball performances, competitions, and spring show in the second semester. Tryouts are held in the spring of each year for sophomores and juniors.

They had to go to Florida, of all places, before anyone perked up and said, “HEY! That’s hella racist!”

The company’s Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, apologized Friday after a performance from a Texas high school’s drill team was laden with Native American stereotypes, including repeated chants of “scalp them!” It came just days after the company faced intense backlash over its silence to Florida’s controversial sex education bill, labeled by many critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

How could this possibly be the first time anyone called this flamingly racist act out?

Now follows the usual pro forma disclaimer.

The company [Disney] told the Associated Press the performance, done by Port Neches-Grove High School’s “Indianettes” drill team on Tuesday, “did not reflect our core values, and we regret it took place.” It claimed the performance did not match the audition tape sent by the school to the park’s organizers.

Every time one of these kinds of bigoted displays are put on, someone has to come out all wide-eyed and tell us that gosh, that didn’t reflect our values. Except that it did.

That’s Disney, expressing surprise that someone said something racist in their park. What about the school district itself? Platitudes.

“We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our school district,” it said in a statement. “Our district is nearing 100 years old, and our Board of Trustees is committed to always making the best decisions for our students, staff, and the communities of Port Neches and Groves.”

They’re old, y’all. If we can expect old people to have bigoted attitudes, that of course means we should allow old institutions to do likewise. Don’t you know they’re committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion? If they say it enough, that makes it so.

I thought that surely there must have been some prior push-back for such a blatantly racist chant, so I checked. There is an Association of Indian Athletes at the school! I wonder what they think of it. Except…

AIA, the ASSOCIATION of INDIAN ATHLETES, is a community service organization for female athletes. This group allows freshman-senior female athletes to join as a united front and give back to the community that gives them so much support during their individual seasons.

Oh. It’s not a group made up of Native American students at all. It’s a collection of mostly white female students who call themselves “Indians”, because that’s the school mascot. Yikes. It just gets ickier and ickier the deeper you dig.

*Huh. I went looking, and it seems even that goofy looking king was too much for the school. The old mascot was retired, and now it’s a lion. Has Port Neches & Groves school considered changing theirs, too?