Of Bathrooms & Moral Panics

“Horace, fetch me the Fainting Couch, this instant!”

One of the many things that kind of drives me batty about our current society is how we really are good at misplacing our priorities. For an example, look no further than last weekend’s women’s room confrontation between Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema and a progressive activist group Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) over the Reconciliation Bill, aka Joe Biden’s Agenda.

I’ll start by saying filming someone in a bathroom is not something I think is a good idea for various reasons, not the least of which is the collateral damage of someone who might just be in there to answer nature’s call and are not expecting to be a bystander in the current reconciliation bill fight. Maybe wait outside for her. And to be truly fair, Sinema could have said “please give me a minute, I can come out and answer a few of your questions.”

That said, the pearl-clutching that ensued was both frustrating and entirely predictable. It was reminiscent of the June 2018 Sarah Huckabee Sanders incident, where the Red Hen restaurant owner asked her to leave, based on her, well, let’s see…oh yes, blatant lying and supporting the tyrannical nut job we had for a president. Trump had pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal the previous month and the controversy over the appalling child separation at the border was in full bloom, but Sarah the Liar not being able to get past the cheese course before getting the heave-ho was the deep deep focus of the DC punditry. “Civility!” cried the columnists before collapsing on the Fainting Couch.

“Civility!” is the battle cry now, as it was then, and before. But civility often doesn’t get the job done and is used by more powerful interests to shut people down. Just look at ACT UP, the LGBTQ rights group that used some loud tactics to get people to give half a damn about AIDS during the 80s. ACT UP members were frustrated that their loved ones were dying and how it was being ignored by people in power. They weren’t being heard. Did they get results? Just ask a certain famous doctor.

See, these tactics that have the pearl clutchers rolling around on the Fainting Couch likely wouldn’t happen if the targets would do the thing that requires the least amount of effort: listening. Sinema has been rather fastidious at not listening to her constituents. She’s quite good at it. An activist posted on Twitter that following her into a bathroom was an act of desperation:

Twitter post describing how Sinema has continually ignored requests for meetings

Continue reading “Of Bathrooms & Moral Panics”

Maliciousness

I’m never one to credit evil as an explanation where stupidity will do nicely, but as this post points out, this is starting to surpass the “wishful thinking” phase:  You pushed faculty to offer in-person classes or classes that could at least have an in-person component. Classes that drew students to campus and put butts in classroom seats were valued. You created all sorts of untested hybrid options with the idea that some personal interaction was better than none. Faculty objected and students went with online options when possible, but still you persisted. You created pokazukha websites and plans and fliers for … Continue reading Maliciousness

The Cannon Fodder Objects

My first newspaper:  As more than a quarter of Wisconsin’s record-breaking 1,547 new daily cases came from UW-Madison students on Thursday, the situation in Madison is increasingly worrying. Continued spread among off-campus communities endangers all of Madison and Dane County, jeopardizing lives, local businesses and any return to normalcy. This doomed attempt to reopen will ultimately saddle local authorities with an outbreak that continues long after campus facilities close. In short, what we all had feared — what we knew would be inevitable — has come true. The exponential growth of COVID-19 cases, the lockdown of campus dorms, with the misdirection of faulting individualistic … Continue reading The Cannon Fodder Objects

Human Trafficking Panics

I’ve been seeing this make the rounds of the mommy Facebookers and thinking it sounded bullshit:  Among both children and adults, there is little evidence that human trafficking is a widespread phenomenon in need of universal public awareness. In 2018, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 10,949 reports of human trafficking, but these figures are based exclusively on anonymous calls and are not verified in any way. The hotline’s director, Caroline Diemar, said that many calls are simply vague suspicions — there’s a massage parlor on my street; I saw a suspicious family at the mall — that may reflect public … Continue reading Human Trafficking Panics

Six, and Beauty

Dear Kick, Today you are six, and you are beautiful. I don’t mean that in some metaphorical way, like your soul is beautiful, though it is. You are relentlessly cheerful and generous and always thinking of something you can do to make other people smile. You are kind to animals and strangers and homeless people on the train, patient with younger children, dedicated to your schoolwork and your chores. And physically, you are beautiful, to the very T of American beauty standards. You are slim and strong. You have long straight fair hair and wide blue eyes and perfect delicate … Continue reading Six, and Beauty

You Guys It Is HARD Telling Boys Not to Rape

I mean, how even are you supposed to do this job?  Fallout from the #MeToo movement continues to be one of the most polarizing topics in our current political climate. For parents of sons, navigating complex and sensitive conversations with their boys about sexual consent, harassment and assault, and respect for women and LGBTQ people is difficult enough, especially when they’re young. And, it’s only compounded by the fear President Trump is helping to spread that young men could be unjustly accused. Here’s an idea. Just spitballing. Just throwing this out there. A suggestion for you to pass on to your young men. DON’T RAPE … Continue reading You Guys It Is HARD Telling Boys Not to Rape

Don’t Fucking Do This to Young People

Billie Eilish, who seems fine, I dunno, and is A Young, gets made into Boomer/Xer/Millennial clickbait by not knowing stupid shit nobody’s obligated to know:  On Thursday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, avant-pop sensation Billie Eilish proved to the audience that she is the youngest person on earth. During an informal quiz on ‘80s pop culture references, Eilish revealed that she did not know what a Cabbage Patch Kid is. Scandal! “Like a Sour Patch Kid?” she asked. Yes! Well, more like a Garbage Pail Kid, technically, but a Garbage Pail Kid was like a Cabbage Patch Kid. It’s a rather intricate lineage, … Continue reading Don’t Fucking Do This to Young People

Talk to Your Kids About Power

From Laura Turner’s wonderful piece (go read it all) about growing up evangelical and reckoning with it as an adult in all kinds of ways:  Looking back on teachings about sexual purity now—the conversations about modesty, about saving oneself for marriage—I am struck that we never, not once, had a conversation about consent. It was reasonable for a boy to suggest that he was “tempted” by a girl wearing skimpy clothes, but the blame was always placed on the girl for dressing that way. We never talked about power, about how being a man in power could warp a person’s … Continue reading Talk to Your Kids About Power

School Segregation and Brett Kavanaugh’s Entitlement Complex

Shot:  I saw this growing up with kids in private high schools who had never been to public school. They really thought public school kids spent their days drinking paint before inevitably heading off to juvenile hall for an extended stay. This is a slight exaggeration, of course, but if the base assumption is that your private school is better, and some of your classmates aren’t exactly perfect, then Those Other Kids must be soooooo bad. Chaser:  So imagine my surprise when, thanks to the Facebook page for an upcoming high school reunion, I learned the school is getting a … Continue reading School Segregation and Brett Kavanaugh’s Entitlement Complex

Everything The GOP Says is Crap

And it was always crap, but using kids as excuses for their homophobic horseshit was particularly galling, and now we can say FUCK YOU with science:  The National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) has been following a contingent of lesbian families since they first started to plan to have kids in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Those children are now about 25 years old, and the researchers have confirmed that they’re doing swimmingly. Compared to their peers who were not raised by same-sex couples, researchers found no significant differences with respect to “adaptive functioning (family,  friends, spouse or partner relationships, and educational … Continue reading Everything The GOP Says is Crap

Get In The Streets All You OTHER People

Jesus H, unless you are literally tweeting from the American streets, stop telling other people to get in the streets. And America isn’t in the streets. This is how stuff dies. https://t.co/CrgWEbyhAa — papabybike (@papabybike) June 5, 2018 Look, I am as outraged about Trump as anyone, and I’ve actually been in the streets multiple times in the past year, but I get irritated at revolutionaries who want to yell about how apathetic everybody ELSE is, like, charter a bus and sign people up, then. Stop being disgusted with the rest of us and set a damn example. And once … Continue reading Get In The Streets All You OTHER People

Your Kids Aren’t An Excuse to Suck

It took a while but I found the most offensive part of this offensive tirade against homeless people:  Some protesters at Tuesday’s meeting said they shouldn’t have to worry about where to put the homeless. “Who cares? This is not our responsibility,” said Abby Moore, a retiree from Laguna Niguel. “We are not elected to handle this crisis. I just don’t want to be near the homeless.” Angela Liu of Irvine said she did not know where the homeless should go. But it should not be in her city, she said. “They need to put them somewhere, maybe somewhere else … Continue reading Your Kids Aren’t An Excuse to Suck

Now Activist Kids are Killing Journalism

STOP IT KIDS: Journalism isn’t activism; it’s presenting the facts, honestly and objectively. It’s this mentality that’s killing trust in our profession. https://t.co/32AWo9E7q4 — Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) March 25, 2018 What a tool. Let me list, in order, the things that are killing trust in “our profession:” A 24-hour propaganda network streamed into every doctor’s office in the Midwest telling people that the news is fake and journalists are evil and biased and vaguely terroristic somehow. One of two major political parties spending the past four decades attacking the free press every time some reporter somewhere pointed out that they … Continue reading Now Activist Kids are Killing Journalism

Rise Up

We forget, all the time, what we’re capable of. An emotional Emma González (@Emma4Change) concluded the #MarchForOurLives by standing in silence for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the amount of time it took a gunman to kill 17 of her classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. https://t.co/ZmVma1l4WI — Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) March 24, 2018 How often, how many times a day, do we tell ourselves won’t, can’t, doesn’t? How many times do we say inevitable, impossible, never? And then a girl stands in front of the whole world and she shakes their windows and she rattles their walls. Do … Continue reading Rise Up

Your Sons and Your Daughters Are Beyond Your Command

I spent Saturday night in a crowded hot room above a coffee shop, writing notes to Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. I know, right? But listen to this girl, Emma Gonzalez: I watched an interview this morning and noticed that one of the questions was, do you think your children will have to go through other school shooter drills? And our response is that our neighbors will not have to go through other school shooter drills. When we’ve had our say with the government — and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying ‘it is what it is,’ but … Continue reading Your Sons and Your Daughters Are Beyond Your Command

Fake News Happens Because of YOU, Kids!

Learn to diagram sentences properly because SLJKFL’SKJDFDL;KFSJARGLEBLARGE:  The ancestral lineage of fake news is easy to trace. It winds back through the birther movement and Benghazi, as a tool for weakening political opponents. It filtered through Sarah Palin, who never said she could see Russia from her house, and Al Gore, who never said he invented the internet — myths that hardened into seeming truths due to repeated retelling. It has silly origins, as networks begged us to believe that reality TV was real. It had sinister origins, as W. begged us to believe that weapons of mass destruction existed … Continue reading Fake News Happens Because of YOU, Kids!

Graduation Day

“Scars are souvenirs you never lose. The past is never far.” – Goo Goo Dolls, “Name” “My parents’ basement.” Those three words kept coming up this week as I met with student after student who planned to graduate Saturday. The phrase has become a metaphor that indicates success or failure, with fear driving 20-somethings desperately away from it. Am I going to find a job or will I have to live there? Will this job pay me enough or will I have to stay there? My dad keeps telling me I can’t move back in there, so I need to … Continue reading Graduation Day

My Hill

The plane touched down at O’Hare early Sunday morning, jolting me awake. I looked around to see other passengers in varying states of awareness. I flipped my phone off airplane mode and noticed I had no messages. I checked my email quickly. Same thing. Everything was quiet. What a difference two years makes. The last time I touched down on the first leg of a trip back from a college media convention in this metropolis, my life had gone from bad to worse. I had just traded some labor for airfare and a room so I could head to Austin, … Continue reading My Hill

I got defriended by a “nice young lady in a blue shirt.”

The buzz about Stephen Miller’s “cosmopolitan” comment to Jim Acosta had me thinking about the reason he can actually get away with something like that. It’s the same reason why Gov. Scott Walker gets away with ripping the University System and it’s the same reason I usually tell people I “work at the U” in hopes that they think I’m a janitor. We have far too many people who get excised about perceived slights and publicly draw attention to things that so many others would just look at and say, “Really?” This week, I was trying to dodge summer grading … Continue reading I got defriended by a “nice young lady in a blue shirt.”

An Eagle’s Eye View on Trump and the Jamboree

The media firestorm over Donald Trump’s address to the National Boy Scout Jamboree had me digging deep into the back of both my mind and my storage closet this week. In 1989, I was one of 32,717 scouts who poured into Ft. A.P. Hill, Virginia for a week of camping and camaraderie. I was the only representative from my school, which meant I was stuck with another troop from Wisconsin for the duration of the event. I was one of four outsiders who didn’t come from this Evangelical school of overly sensitive kids two or three years my junior. Three … Continue reading An Eagle’s Eye View on Trump and the Jamboree

Seeds of Hope

The young woman sitting next to me scrunched up her face as she looked at a resume I would have killed for at her age. She had three internships, including one at a major media outlet and a second at a center for investigative journalism. She was the editor of her paper and had earned honors and awards along the way. Still, she had that look. “I just hope I get a job,” she said. “It’s rough out there…” I half smiled as I shook my head and told her, “You’re going to be fine. You have a ton of … Continue reading Seeds of Hope

Journalism: A shitty job in a nuclear winter

One of my former students became a science reporter a few years out of school and once found himself on a trip to Chernobyl. A group of researchers were collecting stool samples from people who lived adjacent to the old Russian nuclear reactor, trying to see if they were suffering from any radioactive poisoning nearly three decades after the meltdown. He sent me a post card from the area with a final line I still love: “Journalism. It’s a shitty job but somebody has to do it.” I thought about him and that trip today when I was trying to … Continue reading Journalism: A shitty job in a nuclear winter

The Kids are Alright, Part 2000

Hello there, teenagers! Do you know how often you think about The S-E-X? And how you are like animals with the sexing all the time?  According to Click2Houston, an administrator at Clements High School in Fort Bend County, Texas, was addressing an auditorium full of upperclassmen and trying to get them to dress more conservatively. But rather than say, “Dress more conservatively. Bare stomachs are not appropriate for school,” he tried to use humor. It came out like this: “Ladies, I know you’ve been working on your abs since the Olympics, right? But your shirts can’t be up here. It’s … Continue reading The Kids are Alright, Part 2000

Today in Ungrateful Youngsters

Maybe you kids need to experience STALIN so you understand how good you have it!  Those born in the 1930s were alive during Hitler’s conquest of Europe. Those born a bit later have no memory of World War II, but they do remember Stalinist Russia, a more distant threat, but one that was still frankly terrifying. Those born later still have no memory of the darkest days of the Soviet Union, but they do remember the Cold War and the Berlin Wall. Those born as late as the 1980s have no memory of living in a world where democracy was … Continue reading Today in Ungrateful Youngsters

Let’s You and Him Fight: A Lawn and Who Gets to Be On It

THIS. This with this sauce, wrapped in a this tortilla:  For most Americans under 40, life since 2008 has been a struggle to survive. But it is worth noting that plenty of older Americans share the same struggles as their younger peers. Many older people laid off in the recession were unable to regain good jobs. There are plenty of older people with few retirement savings, with their finances drained from paying for both elderly parents and jobless children. We need to acknowledge the way our struggles are intertwined, instead of allowing the media to stoke manufactured class and generational … Continue reading Let’s You and Him Fight: A Lawn and Who Gets to Be On It

Kids Today Just Don’t Want to Save Money!

Buy a house, young’uns!  “A lot of folks said that millennials would go off and just rent,” said Jonathan Corr, chief executive of Ellie Mae in Pleasanton, Calif. “But as they hit those life-event years in terms of getting married, having children, they’re starting to make that transition.” That doesn’t mean they’re ready to sign a check. Millennials in about half of large metropolitan areas are underestimating how much they’ll need for a down payment on their first home and are not saving at a fast enough pace. I see “incredibly screwed by the service/gig/contract economy and paying too much … Continue reading Kids Today Just Don’t Want to Save Money!

NYT: Pedophilia & One-Night Romps are Equally Sexy Hijinks!

In a review titled, no kidding, “John Colapinto Revives the Male-Centric Literary Sex Novel,” we get this gem of a passage:  There was a time when the great American male novelists took delight in writing about sex. Rebelling against a literary tradition that perhaps underestimated how much space animal urges take up in the male brain, many big hitters of the 20th century, like Norman Mailer, Vladimir Nabokov, Henry Miller, Philip Roth, John Updike and Saul Bellow, dived into the muck with the zeal of Rabelais or Cleland. Sex was freedom, sex was adventure, sex was a good time, sex … Continue reading NYT: Pedophilia & One-Night Romps are Equally Sexy Hijinks!