The People Who Really Matter

Content warning: quotes the Daily Mail.

I had somehow missed this phrase of Richard Littlejohn’s in his blustering polemic against Lucy Meadows, a transwoman teacher in the UK who died recently — allegedly as a result of the press hounding of which Littlejohn’s spew was a part. Anyway, the phrase was this:

“But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter?”

Oh man. “Those who really matter” are, of course, the Children™, a tool regularly pulled out in arguments by conservatives and liberals alike. By no means, however, are the needs of actual, real children considered — such as the students of Ms. Meadows who now have to live with the fact that because they live in a society* where transphobia is rampant and whose media consider it no more than another ploy to get eyeballs and advertising dollars to mock and hound a transwoman to her death.

I hate, hate, hate the “what about the CHILDRENNNN???!!!” nonsense because not only do most adults who use it don’t really believe the actual child matters — it’s only the adults’ ideal of “childhood” they’re concerned about, as well as the face-saving status game of being someone who Cares About The Kids — as an argumentative tactic it’s not about solving any problem, it’s just about shutting up the opposition. Don’t like someone’s position on something? Trumpet “Well, YOU clearly DON’T CARE about the Children™!” Sit back in smug triumph as your opponent splutters, because in this setup the only response is “Do too!” and there is no way of not making that sound like a weak rejoinder according to the ways of Western-style debate.

The Children™ are used to shut people up, to let everyone know that the status quo will continue unchanged. It has nothing to do with real children.

Now let’s move on to the other part of that phrase that is also a lie: “that REALLY matter.” (Caps mine.) Oh I love it when white conservative Western males try to pretend they’re sacrificing themselves for the little ones. “I don’t really matter, I’m just a useless grown up, here, kill me and dine on my corpse, kids!” Does anyone believe for one minute that Richard Littlejohn, or anyone who pulls out this sobsister phrase, really believes it? “I don’t matter! I’m just thinking about the kids!” the man sobs, then he presses “send,” shuts off the computer, and goes to enjoy another childfree afternoon at the pub or golf course. I see you, Men Who Care About The Kids. I’ve got your number.

The idea that adults are just useless husks, their concerns to be considered secondary in favor of children, or infants, or in some circles, zygotes and fetuses, is horrible, but not because anyone who expresses it actually believes it, but because it’s a pretty good technique for controlling the underclasses. Poor people who ask for help from their own rich society’s government instead of starving quietly in their hovels “don’t care about their children.” Women who want control over their own bodies instead of being potential baby-making machines “hate children.” Trans* people are “selfish” and “freaks” who will “traumatize” the “children” because they’ll “confuse” them by living their own lives. As for the children, they’ll learn the lesson that having to conform to someone else’s idea of how you should live doesn’t end when you become a grown-up.

*Even though this occurred in the UK, I consider that in instances like these “society” encompasses Western society, which of course includes that of my own country, the USA.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth

TW: opinions, lesbians, the ACLU, human rights, lawsuits, lawyers, “true marriage” supporters, Catholics, family-owned businesses, conservatives, white upper-middle class liberals, married lesbians, money, Vermont, weddings, wedding receptions, Americans, modern journalism.

So there’s this lawsuit that a lesbian couple and the ACLU and the Vermont Human Rights Commission brought against an inn in Vermont whose owners apparently refused to host a wedding reception for the pair because of their (the owners) Catholic beliefs. To make a long story short, the inn’s owners agreed to settle for the amount of $30,000, of which $10,000 is going to the Vermont Human Rights Commission and $20,000 to a trust fund to be disbursed by the couple (quote from the ACLU site, excuse the borked look of the page if it looks borked — it did in my browser).

Conservatives, naturally, are disgusted. “Dear Gays, this is why people don’t like you,” comments Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury. “The price of following your conscience in Vermont is $30,000″ says Lifesite News. “Vt. government ends religious persecution of family business,” reads the first part of the headline of this article on the Alliance Defending Freedom (“for faith, for justice”) website. Basically the conservative consensus (based on those links anyway) is that once more a couple of icky gays and the bullies at the ACLU and in the godhating marriage-destroying liberal government of Vermont have attacked one of the conservative movement’s favorite big-eyed puppies: a “mom-and-pop” Christian-family-owned-and-run business.

For some reason, though, I felt dissatisfied, like some part of this story wasn’t being told. $30,000 isn’t chump change, and if the business really was a tiny mom-and-pop that amount of money could ruin them. The narrative, of course, is that the ACLU and their homosexual lackeys are bullies who Don’t Care, and who want to destroy all businesses anyway because Communism and it’s all part of a Plot to turn the country into a giant re-education camp where heterosexual marriage will be outlawed and children will be raised in dormitories to be loyal drones of the State. Be that as it may, the ACLU might have huge coffers, but they probably don’t want to waste time going after every pipsqueak homophobe in the land without good reason. There is such a thing as conservation of resources. Also, despite claims to the contrary, they’re just as sensitive to bad publicity as any other large activist organization.

What I’m saying is they had to have some reason stronger than the humiliation of a couple of lesbians to back them up, and to bring in the Vermont Human Rights Commission. (Which, by the way, is a real government body, not just some self-assembled group of local social justice warriors.) Private organizations are one thing, but state bodies are supported by taxes, and they can’t just go do whatever they feel like, despite what anti-government libertarians et al like to believe. In the government every penny has to be accounted for. That’s why it’s such a pain in the ass getting anyone in the government to do anything. It’s not like they can just write a check. Don’t you remember all those scenes in The X-Files with Mulder getting bitched out for driving an FBI car across the country to chase another alien space ship? Have you ever had to fill out an expense account at your job? What about a government job?

Anyway, something about this “tiny Christian family business attacked by  gay SPECTRE” didn’t satisfy me. I wanted to know what really went on between the couple and the inn and why it resulted in a lawsuit and settlement instead of a “fuck them” and an unfavorable review on Yelp. I decided to look things up. A-googling I went. The first thing I found was the ACLU article I linked above, but it was too painful to read due to the page not displaying properly in my browser for some reason.* So finally I found this in an article on the Chicago Tribune website:

The Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act prohibits public accommodations from denying goods and services based on customers’ sexual orientation.

The law applies to inns, restaurants, schools, stores and other businesses that serve the general public. Exceptions are made for religious organizations and small inns with five or fewer rooms.

OH. And here is the description of the Wildflower Inn, from the same article:

The 24-room, dog-friendly Wildflower Inn, which sits on 570 acres of picturesque terrain, promotes itself on its website as an ideal spot for romantic getaways, among other things.

Bolds added by me. Please see the previous quote where it says the exceptions are, among other things, “small inns with five or fewer rooms.” The Wildflower Inn might be a family-owned business, and it might not be large, but it’s got almost five times the amount of rooms that would allow them to kick out the gays. But that’s not really my point — there’s the fact that there was already a law in Vermont prohibiting the inn for discriminating against lesbians or anyone else who didn’t follow Catholic marriage practices, and the inn’s owners knew it, and that’s why they settled.

Now you might think this anti-discrimination law is unfair, or ungodly, or stupid, or unnecessary. You might also think that gays shouldn’t go around suing people who discriminate against them even if there are laws supporting their lawsuit because it’s frivolous, a waste of the court’s time, makes people dislike gays even more, is petty, and so on. But that’s another argument for another day. As long as this law is on the books, businesses have to follow it. They can, of course, consciously resist, but it doesn’t seem as if the owners of the inn were interested in doing so, or else they wouldn’t have settled. It could be they decided to settle knowing that the Christian conservative part of the internet would rally to their defense anyway with the predictable “ACLU gay bullies!” cry, but that I don’t know. I do know that I was not satisfied that I was getting the whole story, and I think I can see why. The situation looks less like a tiny Christian ma-and-pa getting devoured by unreasoning gay lions and more like a successful business paying the price for screwing up. They have my sympathies, but so do the ladies who got treated badly. (If you don’t think they got treated badly, you try putting yourself in the shoes of someone getting refused service they’re willing to pay for because of what they are. Sound familiar?)

*Update: here’s a link to another, more detailed article on the situation on ACLU.org that also displays properly in Chrome. If what is in this article is true, the inn’s behavior towards the couple and other non-traditional couples as well was even more douchebaggy than I thought. Sample: “It turns out Wildflower Inn had a policy of not responding to initial inquiries or phone calls about wedding receptions if it was clear that the reception would be for a same-sex couple. In other cases, the owners of Wildflower Inn admitted they would discourage same-sex couples from using the facilities by telling those couples that hosting the reception would violate their religious beliefs.” Not cool, innfolk.

You’re all worthless and weak

In light of the fun message we’ve been getting from people like Missouri senate guy Todd Akins, Mike Huckabee, et al, I have a message for our Republican congressdudes which you can extend to white American guys in general but for right now, let’s focus on the GOP. It is this:

SHUT UP.

I’m serious you guys, you need to close your mouths. Do not say another word. Do not even issue a statement through some poor flunky. I’d say don’t even think but I believe that little problem has been taken care of some time ago. But just, as a (not) friendly suggestion, please

SHUT THE FUCK UP.

And that having been said, here’s my second (not) friendly piece of advice:

GO AWAY.

Yes, go away. Leave the stage. Leave public life. Cease and desist all political activity. None of you so far have displayed the governing ability of warm sand. You act like you’ve never talked to another human being in your life, except for maybe your golfing buddies. Since it’s a requisite in this fine modern democratic individualistic (cough cough cough sorry got some irony stuck in my throat) land that anyone who wants to get anywhere in politics has to be married with at least 2.5 children you must have touched a woman at some point in your lives, but you don’t seem to have ever had a conversation with one. You act like you have no idea what these mysterious uterus-having beings are like. Why should  you be allowed to be anywhere near any position of power? I’d be hesitant to hire you as Walmart greeters — instead of saying “Welcome to Walmart” you might end up blurting out “Hey, that’s not legitimate rape!” And then you’d get torn to pieces and I might get blood on my cheap Walmart pants. That would suck. (Blood on my clothes, that is; I couldn’t care less if you were fed to wolverines and it was all shown on Pay-per-view.)

So. Leave office. Leave the public eye. Leave town. Go off into the wilderness and found that Christian community of righteous-living sexist racist pigs you seem to want to live in. Just go away.

(Note: this can, as I said above, be extended to many who are not in the GOP. Plenty of white male Libertarians, Democrats, Socialists, and “independents” are like this. So this goes for you guys too. And for those of you Republicans who protest you’re not like this, well good. Run these guys out and clean up your party.)

The Butchering: I Read Changes, Book Something Or Other of the Harry Dresden Files

So there’s this popular fantasy series about a “wizard detective” called Harry Dresden. I’d never read any of the books before; I don’t particularly care for “urban fantasy” — i.e., fantasy set in the more or less modern world. While I might have loved it when I was younger (and some of the fantasy I read in my teens and twenties had elements of what is now a fixed subgenre, namely magical things happening in the “real” world), now it strikes me as a subgenre suited for children and adults who never grew out of the childish desire to have magical things happen while never having to leave the comfort and safety of their bedrooms. You know, like wanting a tame dragon to be your pet, or a handsome rich vampire to marry you and settle down with you in a nicer neighborhood in your home town. But anyway, I was given the chance to read one of the books of this series, called Changes. I’m a couple chapters in, and frankly already I’m bored.

I’m also pissed off. Jim Butcher is an American dude, you can tell by the way the only thing his protagonist seems to care about is the fact that his ex-girlfriend didn’t tell him he had a daughter until said daughter was kidnapped by some of his enemies. Oh yes, the plot: Harry the Wizard gets a phone call (because despite the effects of his wizardly powers on computers, somehow he can get phone calls without the things fritzing — oh yes he talks about “receivers” and “the hook” but those old-fashioned things had electrical parts and computer bits in them since the 70s, and this story is not set in the 70s). Anyway he gets a phone call from his ex, who left him for Tragic Reasons (tl;dr: she was half-vamped by an enemy of his, and she’s okay only as long as she doesn’t drink any more blood, so she ran away south of the border so as not to be tempted to drink her boyfriend’s blood, and also to become a vampire fighter), and she tells him they had a daughter and the daughter’s been kidnapped by his vampire enemies. Anyway, you can tell that Butcher is an American male because he has his hero spend precious thinky time moaning about how awful it is he was never told about this daughter, even though as his ex has to point out (because hurt male ego and reason can’t share space in Harry’s head) they are both involved in dangerous evil-creature fighting which leaves no time to take care of a kid, so she had the kid fostered by a “normal” family. I will point out I can understand his ire but the question of just what can two vampire fighters with dangerous enemies do with a kid is left sort of hanging. I mean even if they retired until the child was grown, they’d always have to be in hiding… I dunno.

This fucking thing is longer than the Silmarillion so I’m just going put the rest under a more tag. You have been warned:

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The Free Market Is Not A Free-For-All

Original thing I was going to post on has been canceled because this happened: in a comment thread about a publishing company’s follies, one of the commenters told a story about a coffee shop that failed because despite the nice decor and cookies, the coffee was lousy. I thought something was missing from the story so I asked:

Didn’t anyone tell him his coffee tasted like sock water?

I got the following reply from another commenter, not even the one who was telling the story:

He’s running the business. It’s nobody else’s responsibility to keep him in business.

Okay, I admit I blew my stack (and at first mistook the second commenter for the one who told the story, I was that mad). Because, what the fuck, you hear a story about someone whose business is failing because of some simple thing (in this case, bad coffee), and your answer to a question as to whether or not anyone had ever told him what the problem was that there was no reason to tell him because “it’s nobody else’s responsibility to keep him in business“????

See, this is why so many people are against capitalism and the “free” market. Because they see this sort of “fuck you, I’ve got mine, I don’t care if you starve” attitude from too many of its proponents, this attitude that even if you do everything right one tiny mistake OR EVEN unforeseen shit happening like a hurricane or other natural disaster wiping you out means your business should fail and you should crawl off into a hole and die, this dog-eat-dog nasty-ass treatment of other people, and of course they start looking at socialism, communism, anything communitarian that seems to promise a system where people won’t be treated like disposable garbage. What the fuck do you expect? I mean seriously, what the fuck?

Check out you and your female privilege!

TW: rape, internal misogyny, me being cranky about it.

I’d like to thank Dean Esmay over on the Twitter for pointing out this blog post, The Female Privilege Checklist, to me. He may not be so thrilled with me by the time I get done with it, though. Oh well, gotta blow up some eggs in the microwave to get me to clean it, or something. (Actually, that’s what happened this morning: my roommate forgot to put one of the parts of his four-part microwave egg-cooker on when he assembled it this morning and I woke up to asploded eggy microwave.)

Anyway, to this fellow woman’s post. I’m going to skip all the part where she goes on about how POCs and other complaining about privilege are just taking part in a victimization contest because I don’t want to be here all day (though I’ll just say this: if you think being a victim is some sort of prize in a contest, maybe you need to rethink your ideas about life). I’m just going to get to my favorite thing, a list — namely, the list she provides of things that I, as a woman, are supposed to be privileged with. Warning: this is a long-ass thing, so I’ve put it behind the cut:
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Big Brother is Us

We Americans have a tendency to go about describing ourselves as being citizens of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and bragging about how courageous we are, yadda yadda. Well it’s not true. It hasn’t been for quite some time. While some of us may be courageous as individuals, as a society we’re a mass of scared babies. We’re obsessed with safety, and every other phrase out of someone’s mouth when the subject of crime or terrorism or traffic fatalities or fat people or “those people” comes up is “the government should do something!”

I live here. I hear these conversations. I participate in some of them. I know what I’m talking about.

So when the powers that we have put into place start acting like Big Brother, who is to blame? I’m in a (rather one-sided) twitter discussion about yet another fun incident at an American airport with hostile gate security personnel harassing travelers. The thing is, the TSA and its shenanigans did not happen in a void. They were not imposed on us out of nowhere. We asked for more security, we asked for more protection, we asked that the government do everything in its power to prevent anything like the attacks on 9/11/01 ever happening again. We Americans tend to be quite naive about just how much power our government has thanks to our tendency to ask it to do more and more things for us. We’re finding out, and we don’t like it one bit, do we?

That’s not the only problem, though. The thing is, we’ve given our government not only too much power, but too many things to do, and many of these things are contradictory to the other things we want it to do. So we want to be made safe, safe as houses–but we also want to have ultimate freedom to travel within our borders and to be left completely alone to let our freak flags fly because this is By God America Land of the Free and Individual. Also, we want to be loved and admired by everyone in the whole wide world but we do have some problems… so we demand that our government show complete fairness to everyone regardless of race creed color freak flag whatever, and to Not Notice anything at all different or weird about anyone, because that’s prejudiced and ableist and racist and unfair. The problem is this is a setup for the comedy of errors that is airport security in the USA. We want to be made “safe” but don’t want to lose any of our freedoms. But you can’t be both safe and free–some dead white guy in our past did say something to that effect, didn’t he? Well never mind.

On the other hand, I can’t get too sad when the object of the affections of the TSA personnel is a middle-class, middle-aged white male. Most of the problems in this country can be laid at the collective feet of this passive-aggressive, partisan-politics-playing, exploitative-sports-and-tv-watching, all-of-the-privileges-having demographic. You hold most of the power in this country, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Males. You can take a little of the discomfort and pain you’ve been meting out to all “THOSE people” in the past. Maybe it will open the eyes of some of you to what it’s like to not have all those “freedoms” you take for granted, but I doubt it. So far all I have been seeing are cries for their guy to be put in power and maybe by some sort of magical vote magic he’ll (yes, it will be a “he”) make all the TSA stuff go away or just bother those strange dark foreign people who come here who are obviously terrorists. And then when their guy shows no more intention of giving up even the tiniest crumb of government power over our lives, any more than any previous guy, they’ll just start campaigning for the next guy. Because they are about as foresighted as pigs who can’t see past the trough where their slop is poured. Grope on, TSA!

Okay What The Fuck

Forget everything I’ve ever written ever, and by the way forget anything else that is happening anywhere. If the people at TIME Magazine responsible for this cover did not actually Photoshop the kid into this shot then every single person involved should be arrested for child sexual abuse.

Yes I realize there’s nothing wrong with breast feeding and women’s boobs. But they’ve got a picture of a kid who looks old enough to be riding a bicycle without training wheels sucking on a woman’s nipple on the cover of their latest issue. I find that, to put it mildly, wrong. No point that TIME wanted to make about the pros and cons of attachment parenting warranted putting an actual kid sucking an actual woman’s actual breast on the cover of their magazine. I don’t care if it’s the real kid and his mom. I don’t usually advocate calling in Child Services but for fuck’s sakes get this kid away from his creepy, exploitative mother.

Arrest them. Arrest them all. Make them do the perp walk through downtown New York City. And then throw them in jail, raze the TIME building to the ground, and sow the vacant lot with salt.

Joss Whedon, shoddy writing trends, and the furniture move of doom

Man, titles are so difficult to come up with. Anyway, this is sort of a compendium post on various things, because I just don’t feel like writing a bunch of separate posts. Deal with it.

First off, I no longer sleep on the floor. I finally broke down and ordered a cheap twin bed from from Walmart. I had it delivered site-to-store, thinking, “Hey, I’ll have no problem fitting the box into my tiny Japanese compact car.” The gods rubbed their hands together with glee and said to each other “Boy is this gonna be good!” Anyway, after driving around with it in my car for two days my friend and I managed to pry it out, and only cracked my rear-view mirror a little. You know that thing about breaking mirrors being bad luck? Oh, totally a superstition, so the fact that yesterday was the Day From Hell had nothing to do with that, nothing I tell you.

I’m not going to talk about yesterday.

Anyway, I got the bed de-boxed and put together and had to move some stuff around and removed the long table I had my desktop on so now it’s on my tiny typing cart until I can get a small proper desk and that’s all I feel like saying about it.

So that’s my exciting life out of the way. What you really want to hear is what I think of Joss Whedon. To give a brief summary: I don’t think much of him, and don’t get why he’s considered all that by most scifi fans. I’ll tell you the truth: I tried to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and made it through a few episodes. Unfortunately this show came out when I had come down from my goth high (or climbed up from my goth low–however you want to think of it), and my lukewarm interest, or rather acceptance, of vampires as characters had just about disappeared from my mental processes. Basically, the show contained everything I had no interest in: high school shenanigans, vampires, teenage love (and teen/vampire love; I was squicked out by the idea of centuries-old beings falling for teenage girls long before Stephenie Meyers had even thought of putting her fingers on a keyboard), and standard Christian-influenced horror themes (Sunnydale being on a “hellmouth” — I just don’t believe in Hell as a concept, sorry). So all the show could offer me was some decent acting and a few amusing quips, and that didn’t seem to me to be enough to make me sit my ass down and watch every week.

Other than that, I don’t have much to say about the show. I’m sure it’s full of Whedon’s fauxmenism–such as the lesbian affair of Willow and some other woman which of course ended up Doomed because god forbid a non-heteronormative pairing end up happy. And yes, I’m still on the feminism kick and always will be. But I haven’t watched enough of Buffy to say anything substantial about it. Anyway, I kept hearing about how wonderful Joss Whedon was and how formative and influential–so much so that there is now a term, “Jossed,” for when a beloved character is killed off in a series seemingly out of nowhere. The definition has been expanded to mean when a show takes any turn that had not been anticipated by viewers, but I believe Whedon’s specialty was the “anyone can die” version. Well, almost anyone; main characters still seem immune: Buffy isn’t dead yet (except in that one episode where one of the characters ends up in an alternate universe where the vampires run everything, which was my favorite of the few episodes I saw–sexy evil Willow was sexy), and the character of Mal made it to the end of Firefly fully intact.

Okay, let’s talk about Firefly. I tried to like it. I really did. I rented the episodes from Netflix back when I had an account, and watched a few. And… I didn’t like it. For one thing, it’s a Western In Space. Westerns are one of my least favorite movie genres. I won’t go into why I don’t like Westerns here; it would take another long blog post. But the fact that Firefly was a Western In Space wasn’t my major objection; I’ve actually enjoyed works of science fiction that drew heavily on the Western motif. It was other things.

One of the things was a basic world-building failure. In this posited future, the system the show takes place in is supposedly a joint Chinese-Western (mostly American) effort, and the culture is supposed to be sort of half Chinese. You’ll mostly look in vain for that half–note to the white overseers that rule Hollywood: just putting a smattering of Asian actors in the background and some badly-pronounced “Chinese” swear words in the mouths of non-Asian actors does not make for any kind of “Chinese” anything. No major characters were Asian, none of the culture was Asian in any way. The culture of the ‘Verse was American through and through.

I will give Whedon a tiny pass on this because most of it may have had to do with budget problems. I gather this show was hard to get financed or something (and Fox famously treated it like shit, showing the episodes out of sequence and canning it as soon as they could despite its apparently popularity). I can see the Hollywood execs now, complaining that Whedon’s concepts were too expensive, but look, we already have all these old Western sets you can use, can’t you just make it another Western In Space? But only a tiny pass, because someone with real morals would have just withdrawn his show from consideration until he got what he wanted. It wasn’t like he was some nobody by this time. So I get the feeling that he really wanted a Western In Space and had come up with the Chinese stuff as some sort of “exotic” window dressing and actually being spared all but a smattering of that was better than what we’d have gotten. (Just imagine if the many sinister villains in the show had also been Asian. Just think of the many opportunities for stock Oriental evil criminal mastermind stereotypes we could have enjoyed. Ugh. Note: this is based on the episodes I watched. I haven’t watched all of them so maybe I missed an evil brothel madam squinting at Inara and hissing at her, or a Fu Manchuish crime lord with three inch fingernails.)

The other thing that gave me pause was the show’s use of a subset of the Western genre where the plot is driven by the aftereffects of the American Civil War. In the original subgenre sometimes the hero was a former “Johnny Reb” who had fought for the Confederacy and had moved out West to rebuild his life after suffering defeat. This type of movie usually walked a delicate line of having sympathy for the hero while still not praising the aims of the South, which was to retain a way of life that included slavery. The movies usually did this by having the hero either be an “I fought for the love of Dixie” type and not putting him in any situation where he would encounter, say, a former slave, or more rarely, it had him confront the issue head on and learn a lesson. Often there would be a villain who was (or still is, in the movie) a Union soldier who gives our Johnny Reb a hard time. Or else, the post-Civil War Western featured a former Union soldier who had moved West to forget the horrors of war or just because, and he’d have to deal with villainous former Confederate soldiers who had gone bandito. (On a side note, Andre Norton wrote a couple of short historicals featuring the sympathetic Confederate soldier who moved out West and who ended up confronting both types of villains: the bigoted Union soldier and the gone-bandit Confederate major.)

Firefly‘s version of this war was between the Alliance, the Union equivalent, and the “Independents,” who different from the Confederacy only not really. Well, the Independents are obviously not into slavery (the Alliance is much more controlling and domineering than the Union was and many of their activities, such as torturing genius children into becoming supersoldiers, could be a kind of slavery, wherein people are treated like objects and cattle for the use of their masters). Basically, this is a “cleaned up” version of the War of Northern Aggression where the North really were the baddies and the South really were the beleaguered folk who just wanted to be left alone. I’ve got more than a few problems with that. There’s a tendency among Americans, not just those in the South, to romanticize our Civil War and especially the South. The South has all that pretty stuff and acres of green plantations with those gorgeous Greek Revival homes and those stylish uniforms while the North was all gloomy cities and grim factories and the Union soldiers wore drab grey uniforms with those ugly little caps.

But look. It’s all bullshit. One of the oh-so-romantic “states’ rights” all the fans of the South are always jawing about was the right to sell other human beings as if they were cows. If something is wrong it’s wrong, no matter how you dress it up, and the massive amount of “blood and treasure” it took to get slavery to stop is the fault of the South, who valued their precious “way of life” more than they valued human beings’ right to be free. Deal with it.

So there’s that. But my main objection to the series is not any of the above. I could have endured those annoyances if the characters had had any redeeming value beyond being vehicles for Whedon to show off his famous quips. But for the most part most of the characters were too unpleasant, and needlessly so. No, they weren’t “complex.” They were just dicks to each other, mostly for no good reason. Look, it’s one thing for characters in a hard world to be somewhat cagey and initially mistrusting of one another. It’s another thing for Mal, the captain of the ship, to pretend that another character who has just been shot has died, just to upset the doctor who operated on her. I find Mal especially problematic: he often acted in ways that weren’t just indicative of a troubled, “demon-haunted” veteran of the losing side of a war, but were simply childish and uncalled for. For example, his continued treatment of Inara, who is a Companion, which in the show’s setting is a high-class position, as basically a whore.

Okay, I haven’t even touched on the misogyny and the rest of the racefail in the show because I’m not really qualified, I missed a lot of it on my own viewing and only the essays of other people made me see it. But this was in-your-face and could not be explained away. Mal obviously wanted Inara for his very own, only he didn’t, and in the way of 21st century males was quite the petulant teenage boy about it. You know, they didn’t used to do it that way. On Gunsmoke, the long-running tv Western which even I watched (for one thing, no cable–either you watched what was on or you didn’t watch tv), Marshal Matt Dillon was good friends with Miss Kitty Russell. Miss Kitty owned a saloon, which is mid-century American tv speak for “brothel,” more or less. Anyway, in the staid, stuffy old days of the USA women who owned shady if vital businesses like saloons were looked at somewhat askance, so while on the one hand Miss Kitty was a businesswoman, on the other hand, well she wasn’t married with kids and properly at home cooking and cleaning now was she? My point is, Marshall Dillon always, always treated Miss Kitty with respect. He treated all women with respect. Of course, that respect was based in a society where women were second-class citizens, but back then there was a price for letting men run things and that price was to be considered a good man you had to be polite to women. If you became known as someone who treated woman badly, or were heard calling a woman “whore” in the street (even if she was a whore–yes, men were supposed to be polite even to “bad” women), you would get a reputation as a cad, a jerk, someone who could not be counted on, certainly someone you wouldn’t let your female relatives around. Oh sure, men still stuck together but they policed themselves better. It was a narrow, repressive society, but they did some things better. (Of course, I am talking about men of a certain class. But the class Mal is in is equivalent to that of Marshal Dillon.)

So he treats Inara openly like shit because she has sex with other men for money, even though in this future society Companion is supposedly an acceptable and even high class career for women. I’m sorry, his unrequited lust for Inara doesn’t excuse this, and I don’t understand why she has anything to do with him. In the Jossverse, women are attracted to rough men. (Buffy had affairs with two vampires, Spike and Angel. What does that tell you?)

I could go on, but I’m tired of Firefly. Let’s talk about The Avengers. I haven’t seen it, nor have I seen the previous movie featuring Loki and Thor (it was called Thor, though if you go by the fansites it should have been called Loki.) The first movie was directed by Kenneth Branagh and is supposed to be rather good. As we all know Branagh is Anglo-Irish. The second movie is directed by Joss Whedon, who is American. This will be important.

There has been talk on the internet about a certain scene in Avengers where Loki, played by the personable-looking actor Tom Hiddleston, is imprisoned behind some sort of plexiglass wall and is arguing with a character called the Black Widow. I don’t know what it’s all about, but I guess he’s upset about being imprisoned so he apparently calls her a “mewling quim.” “Quim” is an antique, little-used word for a certain ladypart. A more common term is “cunt.” The British don’t seem to think “cunt” is all that bad of a swear word (or so I’ve read), but in the USA it’s considered a disgusting insult. I’ll leave aside the fact that ladypart words seem to be considered more insulting to use than manpart words (though words like “cock” and “dick” used to be quite impermissable–then again I’m old enough to have been reprimanded for using the word “darn”). Let’s just say Whedon apparently had this burning need to have his movie villain call a woman a cunt, but didn’t think he could pass that under the radar, so he dredged “quim” up from the dictionary. Well, it didn’t work, and the feminist internet is up in arms about it.

I’ll just say this: I don’t recall reading anything about the Branagh film having the characters treat women like this, villains or no. At the very least, any such crudities as the above would have been mentioned. But Branagh is British, and apparently has no need to tweak his audience by throwing in vulgarities where none are needed. Not so my fellow American, who seemed to feel that Loki, an evil god, was just not evil enough, he had to be a misogynist asshole as well.  Loki’s character as played by Hiddleston has been the object of the fannish lust of many, so I can’t help feeling this fact made Whedon feel threatened in his tiny American manparts and this is his effort in the cause of turning women off of other men. Also Hiddleston is British and… well I don’t know. It just seems unnecessary to me, another example of Joss Whedon’s brand of overkill and why he makes me so tired.

Look what the liberal, progressive Obama administration wants your kids to learn about sex

No, not fisting, though at least that practice doesn’t lead to teen pregnancy the Worst Scourge Ever In The History Of Mankind (and without which we wouldn’t have our president, oh wait)… no, they’ve decided to go the other route this time: they’re going to teach kids about abstinence! That’s right, they’re going to throw another zillion dollars that I keep hearing the country doesn’t have into a high school program that I could clear up in a single sentence: “Don’t have sex and you won’t get pregnant.” Then I’d take the rest of the money minus the $1.97 that sentence cost to say and skip town to go to Rio. Gosh, I wonder why I haven’t been given a government grant lately…

Anyway, let’s examine this new program, by some organization called “Heritage Keepers.” Hmm. It looks like a doozy. First we have this:

“Males and females are aroused at different levels of intimacy. Males are more sight orientated whereas females are more touch orientated.”

Guys like to look and use their eyes and brains while girls just want to get pawed. That’s why it’s completely okay to touch a female person whenever you want, guys! Go ahead. Put your hands all over her. I’m sure she’ll be unable to resist begging you to marry her on the spot.

“This is why girls need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason, girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts.”

Male humans are raging beasts of violent lust who can somehow be controlled by a couple of extra inches of material in the hem of a skirt. “Modest” female clothing is like a superpower!

“When couples live together outside of marriage, the relationships are weaker, more violent, less [equal], and more likely to lead to divorce”

Um, “divorce” can only happen if a couple is “married.” If a couple who is not married decided to break up, the term for that is “breaking up.” I’m here to help.

Sexual activity outside of marriage can lead to:“Sexually Transmitted Viruses, Sexually Transmitted Bacteria, Cervical Cancer, AIDS, Legal and financial responsibility for a child until he or she is at least 18, Raising a child alone, Emotional hurt and regret, Increased chance of abuse from a partner.”

Marriage, however, is like a magical superpower from God that will make sure none of that happens. Married people don’t get cancer, AIDs, or emotional hurt and regret. They just don’t! Shut up!

Apparently this Heritage Keeper program has a segment on planning marriage. Funny, none of the sex education classes I recall actually went into that. Possibly it was because back in the 1970s it was assumed that people preferred to plan their marriages on their own time with their families when they decided to get married, not in a high school class under the supervision of an unrelated government employee. Also, I am totally sure that talking about marriage plans in a classroom full of teenage girls who have grown up watching Disney princess movies won’t result in a bunch of pregnant teenagers because SHUT UP, OUR SPECIAL GOVERNMENT PLAN IS FOOLPROOF.

Anyway, some samples of this segment:

Young men are asked to envision their wedding day: “The doors swing open and there stands your bride in her white dress…This is the woman you have waited for (remained abstinent for) who has waited for you…This woman loves you and trusts you with all that she is and all that she has. You want to be strong, respectful and courageous for her. With all your heart, you want to protect her, and by waiting (sexually) you have.”

You know what I envision? A lot of teenage guys making puking noises and going “No way!” while the teacher bangs on the desk and yells for order. Who wrote this shit, Martians for Christ?

Oh god, it goes on:

Young women are asked to envision their wedding day: “Everything is just as you have seen it in a million daydreams…” When the bride takes her father’s arm: “Your true love stands at the front. This is the man who you have waited for (remained abstinent for) and who has waited for you…This man wants to be strong and courageous for you, to cherish and protect you… You are ready to trust him with all that you have and all that you are, because you have waited (sexually) you have it all to give.”

Okay, those puking noises you might be hearing all the way on the other side of the internet are coming from me. I have the urge to write an addendum called “Four Years Later”: “You wait by the door of the trailer home. Your true love is late, because he’s probably still at the bar. He goes there every night now after being turned away from the day labor place again because they’d rather hire hard-working Mexican immigrants than drunken American citizens. Behind you, the new baby yells in its crib, needing its smelly diapers changed again. The twins, both deep in the midst of their terrible twos, are also screaming. You’ve never lost the weight you gained having three kids in four years, and you know you look terrible but you don’t care. Next door, the neighbor’s five pit bulls have been barking for nearly two solid hours. You look at the oven and curse the fact that it’s an electric one. You think about that woman your mother told you about who drowned her five kids in the bathtub. You try to push away the thought, but it keeps coming back.”

Seriously, they’re putting this in high school classrooms? No wonder this country’s culture is going down faster than the World Trade Center. I’m so glad we elected an intelligent, progressive, Diverse™ president. He’s so different from all the other ones. Especially the part where he’s exactly the same.