An Open Letter to the Arizona State Legislature

Bienvenidos a Arizona! Para Inglés, apriete el dos...

April 28, 2010

To the Arizona State Legislature,

I want to make sure I understand what it is your new law on immigration will do. If police have reasonable cause to stop someone they feel is an illegal, they may ask for documentation proving citizenship. That’s the main point in a bill that has such redundant mandates as claiming that illegal immigrants are committing a crime (that’s already a crime) and that the state of Arizona may sue the police if they aren’t doing a good job (you’re going to sue yourselves). You will also require legal immigrants to carry identification that verifies they are, in fact, legal immigrants. That would include me if I ever went to Arizona.

Are we all on the same page now?

I’ve gone on and on about how Texas has such a bad reputation. We keep doing stupid things like backing up a governor who wants to secede and making stupid changes to our textbooks. When I said I wanted us to stop being so stupid, I didn’t mean to imply I wanted someone to be stupider.

More stupid… Oh, crap, it IS something in the water.

How exactly will you be enforcing this policy? What constitutes reasonable doubt in a state where one third of the population is Hispanic? Will you be arresting and searching people based on suspicion of Mexicaness? Driving while brown? What?

Let me make something absolutely clear. I am an immigrant. A *legal* immigrant. I have the papers, social security card, driver’s license, W9 forms, and work-related stress like every other American. I want tougher immigration laws, but I don’t want them to be at the expense of those of us that have run the obstacle course to get where we are.

“But Michel,” I can hear you say, “if you’re here legally, you have nothing to worry about, right?”

Wrong. I do. It’s been a while since I took social studies in eighth grade, but I seem to remember something about the Fourth Amendment.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In modern Americanese, this means law enforcement must have reasonable cause to search for and ask me for documentation. This is why even the almighty Lenny Briscoe needed a warrant.

Lennie by ~friede on deviantART

If a guy with dark skin is wet by the Rio Grande and he’s holding a bag with all his belongings, I bet you he didn’t just compete in a wet t-shirt contest. If a brown guy is driving a beat-up truck and is speaking Spanish, that is not probable cause.

Want to know how I know?

Could you tell the difference between a recent immigrant and an illegal immigrant? For years, we’ve had the national debate on whether we should teach dual language courses to students from other countries. I guarantee that many of these kids do learn English, but they will continue to speak Spanish at home. In fact, if you were to go into a recent immigrant household, you’ll find it a rough approximation of the life the family enjoyed in their native land.

I’ve lived here for years and I can’t tell who is a citizen and who isn’t a citizen. Are you going to go by accent? Well, there goes half the state. You could always go by clothes, like this knucklehead in Congress suggested.

Just say it, Congressman Bilbray. You’re looking for the sombrero, sarape, and guaraches. Newsflash: We don’t all look like Speedy Gonzales!

.:Speedy Gonzales:. by *Notorious-Osaka on deviantART

Do we need to do something about immigration? Of course, but we have to walk a fine line. This law will catch a lot of illegals. Do you mean to tell me that naturalization is not good enough? I am not equal to my fellow citizens and must carry a document stating I am here without breaking the law if I go to Arizona?

At what point did we forget about “innocent until proven guilty?”

And one more thing… You keep saying this isn’t about racial profiling. Will you be looking for Chinese immigrants too? Hey, I’m not really brown, but I could pass for western European. Think maybe I’m some socialist usurper? My girlfriend has some Middle Eastern blood in her. Think she could be a member of that infamous Mexican al-Qaeda?

There’s already been an incident because of this new law. It hasn’t gone into effect and you already detained a natural-born citizen because he didn’t have his birth certificate.

There is no way to enforce this law without racially profiling. And there is no way to get results without detaining law-abiding citizens. Do you wonder why, after 9/11, we didn’t start rounding up Muslims and general brown people just in case? Since blacks make up such a large section of our prison population, do you think anyone’s seriously considered just planting microchips on blacks or asking them to prove they’re not violating that parole you assume is the reason they’re out on the street? Better yet, let’s put those microchips into the illegals! Yeah, that should solve our problems!

Who Would Jesus Deport? by ~theatrum on deviantART

There is an immigration problem in this country. Don’t think I don’t know that. I see it first-hand. However, what you’ve done is a few steps shy of Japanese internment camps. You’ve ignored any notion of integration for the legal immigrant community. If the Hispanic community is mad it’s because we’ve been targeted. This is like performing an appendectomy with a Glock.

May your lawns grow wild and your babies feral as your gardeners and babysitters are arrested, you weak-willed, sycophantic bastards.

You can read Part 2 here.

No More Pencils, No More Books

No more teachers... or opportunity, advancement, motivation, and all those nasty things you get from educators.

April 26, 2010

Imagine it…

You wake up. Eat whatever you want. Maybe some cookies and milk. Maybe granola. Instead of rushing off to catch the bus or wondering if you did all your homework, you pick up that novel you were reading and finish it. Maybe you want to go out for a jog. Hey, you planted that garden in the backyard and you need to find information on making sure the crops will make it through the incoming cold front. Better do a little reading.

Welcome to the world of unschooling.

I’m actually surprised I’d never heard of unschooling until recently. Home-schooling is teaching kids at home. Parents become the educators and create or use pre-built curriculum for children to learn as well if not better than they would at public schools. At least, that’s the goal.

Unschooling, on the other hand, is letting the child find his or her own passion and do the learning his or herself. In essence, the child would learn in much the same way a baby learns: through play and exploration. An even more extreme form of unschooling called radical unschooling means that the parents will not even discipline a child in the hopes of not stifling creativity or imposing barriers.

And I want you, my dear reader, to understand the difference between these three philosophies, because this is about unschooling. Not homeschooling.

I have a bit of a problem with it. And by “bit of a problem,” I mean, “Sir, we’ve hit an iceberg. And there are meteors falling on us. And Great Cthulhu has risen and is eating the crew. Just thought you’d like to know.”

Cthulhu’s Approval by ~hwango on deviantART

When I first heard of unschooling, my first thought was, “You’re going to tell kids they can learn whatever they want, whenever they want, at their own pace? And they’ll learn better than formally educated students?”

The hell they will!

Think about it. How many people in this country, or the world for that matter, have the natural curiosity and inclination to just learn at-will? I can count in my hands the number of people I’ve met over the years that might make it through the unschooling system as good if not better than they would fare in the public education system. By giving the child that much responsibility for his or her life, it makes it so that the child will learn nothing unless he or she wants to learn it.

I don’t know about you, but when I was in first and second grade, I wanted to watch Looney Tunes. And that was it. You place that much power in the hands of someone who doesn’t have a clear concept of responsibility and consequences and you’re asking for trouble.

Who is going to do this teaching? A book? The internet? There are certainly people who think that just reading books and going online is enough. I present to you Dan Brown (no relation to the author, I think) who gives a fairly complete look into this philosophy.

Let’s break this down. Schools only teach facts now, but since you can get facts from the internet or from books, you don’t need schools. I’ll admit it’s a great description of a bad school, but even a bad school still forces you to learn things you wouldn’t want to learn on your own. I never had a passion for mathematics. Still don’t really like it, but it’s through math and reading that I found my passion for science, specifically physics and astronomy. I would have missed out on that if I was left to my own devices.

At this point, long-time readers will point out that I have my own set of qualms about the current educational system. Well, yes, I do. I think it’s broken, but even a broken system is better than no system at all. A measure of control is still required to show a student how to learn.

The unschooling crowd proudly yells, however, that you don’t need to know as much as you think. Once you find out what you want to do, you focus on that and there you go. I studied art on my own and have taken only one formal class, yet I think I’ve developed some pretty good skills. The logo on this site, the eye with text, is one of my works.

Randomology by *dagger3000 on deviantART

Sadly, this unschooling argument goes back the level of intellectual curiosity in a student. You can nurture this instinct and good parents can push a child to learn more than the standard curriculum allows. My parents were two such examples, but they are far, far from the norm.

As it stands, unschooling kids suffers from two major drawbacks. First of all, a parent is still required, especially in the younger years. How many families can afford to have one parent at home? If only one makes more than enough to provide for the family, great! Hurdle avoided, but we’re not done yet.

The second problem is that you can’t learn only from books. You do have to go out and experience things. I know unschoolers will say that their kids do go and experience the real world. They can farm, they read, they travel, and they do all the things they love to do. However, what happens when they decide they want to be doctors? Engineers? Who’s going to teach them these professions? How are they going to get into a college, get these kinds of certifications, if they don’t even have a GED? I read everything I could on writing before I got to college. Everything. Once I got to DePauw, however, I realized that knowing all these things did me no good if I didn’t interact with others, share my thoughts with experts, and otherwise learn proper structure before going off and doing whatever I wanted.

I will admit something. The idea that children learn best by play is not a new concept. In fact, I and many other educators embrace it. Whenever possible, I try to make class as fun as possible while still ensuring my students learn. I try not to lecture if I can give the students hands-on examples, activities where they interact with others, share ideas, and discuss. They have to apply themselves, think, put it together themselves with my guidance, and in the end they’ve basically done the same thing they did as babies. They played. And they learned.

But it doesn’t mean that you leave children to their own devices. Children are dumb. They are. I’m sorry if you think your kid is special. This rationale that children want to emulate parents may hold part of the time, but children are children. They don’t want to read a book and learn mathematics. They have to be pushed into learning or they seek out their baser instincts and satisfy only those that give immediate satisfaction.

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Let’s imagine, for a second, that we did embrace the idea of unschooling. Everyone had the chance to do it. How long do you think it would take for a massive gap between the educated and the uneducated? Many people are more motivated than others. Within a generation, we’d have one group of people that can do everything needed to survive and has no incentive to go further. Then we’d have a much smaller population that drove forward and and had the resources to learn from experts.

But that’s good, isn’t it? Those who want to learn will learn and those that don’t stay where they are. Everyone gets what they work for…

Let me be as clear as I can here.

This is perhaps the dumbest idea in the world. And this is coming from a guy that once came up with the idea of a giant gun that fired Ewoks with Jawa tracers.

Quiet. There was bourbon involved.

The bottom line is that a formal education is necessary to both be exposed to different ideas and to push students to learn. We aren’t born with the intuition to just learn. We learn what we can to survive. That’s it. Anything else is extra once we meet basic requirements. I’m all for the rights of the individual, but we can’t possibly know how to learn or even what to learn if we just go out on our own. A few gifted individuals may be able to do this, but we’re not all geniuses. If we’re not pushed, we don’t get anywhere. Personally, I’d advocate a mixture of the traditional and Learn by Play methods. Implement better teaching strategies and teachers at school, but also make sure parents get involved. The idea that forcing a child to do something he or she doesn’t want to do will somehow crush the spirit is ridiculous. If you were told “no” when you were a child and lost the will to achieve later in life… I’m sorry, but look at your priorities.

The educational system is broken. I’ll be the first to admit it and get behind efforts to make it better, but to say that you need to just take your kids completely out of formal, structured schools is the educational equivalent of an auto-immune disorder.

Sorry, but until we make some fundamental changes in the ways parents work with kids and kids themselves learn, unschooling will be the equivalent of Lupus.

Leonardo, Donatello, and Nintedo: Video Games and Art

And here we see an original Shigeru Miyamoto...

April 22, 2010

Roger Ebert is an institution. He’s been doing his job for a long time and is an authority on film. However, he does make mistakes from time to time. He gave a one-star review to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but gave three stars to xXx. But this isn’t about that. It’s about video games.

Oh yes. Video games are not art, Ebert says. For the past few days, the internet’s been abuzz with talk of a blog article Ebert wrote regarding video games’ validity as art. It’s basically the argument that art doesn’t have points, you don’t win art, and no game like chess or basketball would describe itself as art. Hence, he claims, video games cannot be art.

Before I go any further, I do want to make it clear that I am not a hardcore video gamer. I play D&D, the sport of kings! The last video game system I owned was a Super Nintendo. I game mostly on my PC, and even then I’ve only bought a handful of games over the years.

That being said, I think Ebert is 100% wrong. His argument is like saying that painters don’t work in cubicles, so they can’t say they “work.”

It’s important to first define art.

But we can’t.

Philosophers and artists have tried to define art for thousands of years. As a society, we’ve had the art versus porn debate, we’ve had the fights on freedom of expression, offensiveness, and whether splotches on a canvas count as art. We’re not going to figure that out in this article.

So… why do I think Ebert’s wrong if I don’t even have a basis for my argument?

Because art, according to Ebert himself, is subjective. For me, art is anything that requires skill to achieve and brings a measure of joy and reflection to a person. That’s the standard I use. That joy doesn’t even have to be instantaneous or far-reaching. It doesn’t have to move you to tears. Horror movies certainly aren’t designed to give you fluffy bunny feelings, but they do bring enjoyment by scaring and giving us that rush of adrenalin and endorphins after we realize we’re safe.

Pure complexity isn’t a good benchmark for art, either. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had some of the most intricate and detailed CGI work of all time… and I think we all know the two-and-half hour joke we ended up with, right?

Given that, are video games art?

Yes. Oh yes. They can certainly be art.

A video game has to have some aesthetically pleasing elements. It must be a joy to look at and hear. Staring at contrasting colors and wildly flashing lights would be annoying. Even 8-bit games had their moments of visual impact.

Likewise, few would argue that modern games don’t have pretty, pretty graphics to look at.

One of my favorite changes to video games in the past few years is the music. I’m going to date myself, despite the nostalgia for 8-bit music, I can’t help but be awed at the production and power in modern game soundtracks. It’s practically cinematic.

Okay, so video games pass my aesthetics test. What about reflection? A game must have some sort of story for that to happen, right?

And it’s at this point that I have to make a bit of a leap. Not all games have a story. Take, for example, The Game. It has nothing resembling a story, yet it has a theme. Play it and see if you can win.

Many games, though, do have a storyline. If you looked hard enough, you might be able to find theme, characterization, and all the literary elements your English teacher tried to teach you. It’s there. Some of these games are practically movies. The only difference is that, well… you’re in control of the action scenes.

Where does this leave us? A good game requires skill to create. A great game has all the qualities of a movie or carnival ride. In the end, the experience is only part of it. If you never played the game, it would exist. That code would still have valleys and vistas and ruined urban landscapes and Mount Olympus.

Saying that video games aren’t art because of the way someone interacts with them is like saying that the Last Supper wouldn’t be art if it was painted in a bar. Because art isn’t shown in bars, you know? I think Ebert makes the fundamental mistake of confusing the art and the audience. In on itself, the sound and images of a good game, even an 8-bit game, can be very appealing. The sensations the great games create are just as real as those we get from a rollercoaster or a movie.

That’s not to say there aren’t bad games or even such a thing as bad art. However, I think we need to take each example in stride. After all, it would be unfair to judge every piece of music based on a Jonas Brother CD just as it would be unfair to judge every game based on Bible-themed games.

But then again…

That’s my point of view.

Spanish Class with Señor Beck

Glenn Beck is gonna learn ya some Hispanic history... Oh crap...

April 21, 2010

I wanted to write about un-schooling. I wanted to comment on the unnecessary photoshopping jobs I saw earlier. I wanted to log onto YouTube and watch a cat do something stupid. I wanted to clear my mind.

But I think the universe hates me.

On April 19th, Becky Boy went and said something that actually had me shaking with rage. I thought the ambient hydrogen around me was going to fuse. The relevant portions are at 3:40-4:45 and 8:07.

I take pride in being able to present information, make a coherent argument, and do so with, hopefully, some semblance of wit. I’ve been called out on a few things, and sometimes I’ve been wrong. However, before I get to my actual argument… Beck, wherever you are, I want you listen closely.

Screw you and the high horse you rode in on.

…Actually, I’d derive more pleasure if the horse screwed you instead.

Okay, so what was so wrong with that clip? Well, I could go on about how he categorized Nazis as Right-wing when not too long ago he was adamant they were Leftists. I could point out that the media didn’t call the protestors Tea Partiers as he claims. I could also go into a LOT of detail on how progressives and liberals and socialists are not the same as Nazis. My main problem is that he equated the National Council for La Raza with MS-13 and called them racist. For those who don’t know much about these groups, let’s have a little history lesson with Uncle Michel.

mexican skull by ~SitaMushroom on deviantART

The NCLR started during the Civil Rights Movement, but, since media coverage focused primarily on African American protestors, Hispanics were generally on the fringe of the movement. We lacked support structures like the NAACP and African-American colleges. After investigations by Herman Gallegos, Dr. Julian Samora, and Dr. Ernesto Galarza, those initial activists created the Southwest Council of La Raza which, in 1978, became the National Council of La Raza. The organization is now the largest Hispanic rights advocacy group in the country.

Over the years, the NCLR has been criticized for being racist, encouraging Hispanic separatism, and otherwise undermining US sovereignty.

And now Beck’s put them on the same level as MS-13 and racists like neo-Nazis.

And who are MS-13, you may ask?

Dont follow us by ~kickz8 on deviantART

Let me put it this way. Think of the most hardcore, in-your-face, badass thug you can. You got it? Okay. MS-13 is the gang that guys like THAT tell campfire stories about to scare each other.

Mara Salvatrucha, otherwise known as MS-13, started as a paramilitary organization in El Salvador. The gang trained as a guerilla force and is an actual national security problem in Central America, targeting reporters, government officials, and anyone who gets in their way. Today, they are involved in the cartel wars in Mexico, too. Just to give you an idea of how violent MS-13 can be, these are guys who prefer to use machetes when killing someone. Not guns. Machetes. Dismembered corpses are a favorite calling card of theirs. They do things to their enemies that would make the Marquis de Sade gag.

Quick warning. This video has some violent images.

If you want, you can watch part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 on these links.

Is the NCLR on the same level as this gang?

Beck thinks so. He’s not the first. Over the years, even a member of Congress has accused the group of being in league with people who want to take back land seized from Mexico. They say that NCLR helps illegal immigrants.


More wrong.

Son of wrong.

I don’t want to spend too much time on this. Short version? The NCLR has actually distanced itself from separatists groups, condemned their rhetoric, and they’ve even backed up immigration reform.

But the biggest selling point for paranoid wing-nuts, the one that gets people like Beck all hot and moist at the thought of some Mexican invasion, is the last part of NCLR’s name.

La Raza.

Hispanic Heritage Week by ~Juxta-Pose on deviantART

He said it means “The Race,” and, as always, Glenn manages to avoid using any part of his brain past his ears.

In Spanish, as in English as most people who passed grade-school will tell you, words can have multiple meanings. “La Raza” can be translated as “The Race,” but only if you ignore the origin of the term as the NCLR and other groups use it. “La Raza” means “The People.” It was originally coined in the early 20th century by philosopher José Vasconcelos in the book La Raza Cosmica, or The Cosmic People. In his book, he talked about a future race that would be an amalgamation of all the races in the world. Vasconcelos singled out the mixed races in some parts of the Americas as a first step towards that new race because they were already mixing both native and European cultures, reaching a balance between the two.

Hispanics, he argued, also had traces of blood from people all over the world (White European, African, Asian-descended Native Americans, etc), making them the first step towards this genetically unified humanity.

Even more, the full term, “La Raza Cosmica,” refers to the ability of this future race to spread knowledge and bring people together, to usher in a new age. It’s about inclusion, not isolationism. No one is a member of La Raza. It’s an ideal that includes everyone but has not been achieved yet.

So was Glenn able to do the most basic thing and ASK someone what it meant? Did he Google it? Check Wikipedia? Ask a fifth-grader?


Instead, he placed the NCLR in the same league as drug-runners and sadists, as a group trying to bring down America.

They’re a civil rights group who help Hispanics, whites, Asians, blacks, and anyone who needs it. They send kids to school. Fund clinics. When you have nothing and can’t do it on your own, you need help. Although, given how Beck feels about helping others…

I keep going after Beck, who apparently wants to return this country to what it was in the 60’s, and others like him because this kind of rhetoric hurts. I’ve had to explain to people why I know Obama was born here. I’ve had to explain that Mexico doesn’t want to invade the United States. I’ve had people ask me if I’m actually here legally.

And I blame these wild conspiracy theories.

So, if you’re reading this and you don’t count yourself as Hispanic, I want to think about La Raza. The People. It’s about getting past race and bringing everyone together. Shades of brown, white, Asian, African, European… It’s a lofty goal, perhaps utopian in its unatainability, but I believe, truly believe, that the basic intention of getting past race is good.

Come on. You’re all invited. If you wish to be, you ARE La Raza.

Texas Revolutionaries and Indiana Methodists

Texas BBQ with Fox News Tea. Worst. Dinner. Ever.

April 19, 2010

So… my state may help start a new civil war.

Seriously. Rick Perry, governor of Texas, said, with no unclear terms, that Texas would leave the union if the federal government didn’t stop, you know, doing the things the federal government has to do. At the time, his statements draw a lot of criticism from many in the media, and it’s been over a year since he made them, but the way things are going right now, I am actually scared that some of these wastes of genetic material may act on this rhetoric.

Perry made the comments in the environment of the first Tea Parties. Ah, the first Tea Parties. Hard to think it was roughly a year ago that they first started popping up like syphilis lesions. Anyway, there hasn’t been a lot of talk about this in the news, but if you don’t live in Texas, you need to understand something.

A lot of people would not be against this state leaving. And why?

Because the government isn’t doing what they want. And of course, when the government doesn’t do what you want it to do, your only course of action is to leave the Union and establish your own nation. After all, we should be able to do it, right? We’re a big state. We have oil. And uhm… we have a coast line. And the Cowboys.

Well, crap, guess we’ll have to give the military bases back. Along with NASA, all federal agencies, the post office, and FEMA aid. We do after all, live right on Tornado Alley. Hey, no one said starting a new country would be cheap.

I bring this up, though, because the violent rhetoric from the Tea Party, physical attacks on Congress, and the general feeling by a not-insignificant part of the population that the government is physically coming to get them are fanning fires, brings to light that my state isn’t the only star that wants to jump from the flag. I know Texas won’t secede. I know no state will secede. They can’t. They have too much to lose, but in the meantime, there will be complete frontal lobe cases who won’t think it through and may do things that could get a lot of people hurt. Just because the revolution doesn’t go all the way through doesn’t mean people won’t get caught in the crossfire.

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This talk of secession, and Texas is by no means the only state to have tried it without counting the Civil War, is the kind of thing I remember seeing in Indiana some years back.

Not that Indiana wanted to leave the Union when I studied there.

I used to work as a student processor at the DePauw University Archives. Apart from college records and artifacts, we handled the records for Methodist churches in a large section of the state. I was amazed, really shocked, at the number of churches that sprang up over the course of a century. Some lasted a few years. Others moved. When looking over their histories, you could trace many of them in a sort of religious family tree.

darkness by ~statlernerd on deviantART

The funny thing is that it wasn’t so much churches branching out to bring the good word to other parts of the state. Most of these churches, at least the ones I had to process, were off-shoots of other churches because there had been some sort of schism within the congregation. Having read the histories of many of these churches, I can’t think of what would prompt them to split like this. Did someone bring the wrong kind of cookies to the bake sale? Someone not like the Colts?

And where are all these new churches full of energy and vitality that stuck it to the Man and went on their own?

Drive across Indiana. You’ll see them. Abandoned. A lot of churches didn’t last. Some did. For four years, I read their histories. I saw their photos. When I drove through the state, sometimes I could see one through the trees, sort of poking out as its white paint, now chipped, caught a bit of the sun.

It’s the social equivalent of “Fine! I’ll go play with my red ball all by myself.”

The Black Knight by ~kissed-byarose on deviantART

Texas takes a lot of pride in its independence. We were once a country. We have the largest land area in the country. Just don’t bring up Alaska. We own guns.

If a guy is arguing and he leaves the debate yelling, “I can’t work with this! Leave me alone,” everyone watching rightly assumes he got his ass handed to him. You can yell all you want. It doesn’t make you right. When I hear of states wanting to leave because of higher taxes, I wonder if they realize that they have the power to elect government officials. Never mind the fact that taxes actually went down this year. Our democracy is not perfect, I’ll admit. Some members of Congress will retire when they die or are caught in bed with either a dead woman or a live boy. But trying to get people on your side for Election Day is a lot more American, and a lot less bloody, than secession.

And that’s really what secession is all about. It’s un-American. You get so fed up that you put the state above the whole for petty reasons you can solve some other way. We are the United States. All of us. Neil Gaiman once wrote that we’re like a bunch of little nations, all sort of living together. He’s right. Someone from Indiana would be at a loss here in Laredo, Texas. They’d stand out like a nun at a whorehouse. Likewise, someone from south Texas would certainly have culture shock in the north. The cold alone would kill some of us.

Seriously. Anything below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and we shut down.

That doesn’t mean secession is the right choice. It’s nonsense. It won’t work for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean it won’t stop some idiots from claiming it’s a valid tactic when they disagree with the federal government. You don’t move out when your roommate leaves dishes in the sink. And you don’t beat him to a pulp either. You talk it through like civilized human beings.

And before I hear one more idiot say it, bringing up Texas secession and invoking the Alamo misses the point that the Texans lost. It’s kind of like giving astronauts a pep-talk by telling them their new computer system is named HAL.

An Open Letter to Glenn Beck

Socialists... Windmills... Whatever.

April 16, 2010

Glenn… Can I call you Glenn? “Mister Beck” seems so formal. My name is Michel Martin del Campo, and I am one of those immigrants who you’ll love. I love this country. I came here legally. I received most of my education here. I am a writer and an educator.

Now that we’ve gotten the get-to-know-you out of the way, let’s get to the meat.

You are, and I want to be sure I say this as clearly as possible, an idiot. For many reasons. First and foremost, your wild conspiracy theories have been proven wrong by people with much more time than me, but it bears repeating. Secondly, you use bad data or jump to conclusions instead of, as you so often claim, letting people think for themselves. Your dishonest tactics have fueled the fires of fear and racism and we’re close to true violence.

But, I have to admit it took some chutzpa to go on the air and say that no one’s proved you wrong.

Really? No one? You CAN read, right? Actually, I take it back. You can’t read. Everyone makes mistakes, Glenn. Everybody’s human. I’ve fixed typos and broken links and images on this site days after the articles get published. My job requires me to look at my writing and the writing of others and find out how it can be made better. I could edit and revise ad-nauseum, but at some point I have to say, “It’s good enough.”

You, on the other hand, seem to have a trained chimp doing your research and just go with whatever crap it flings at you. The chimp however doesn’t look at the crap and see dragons coming to eat his liver.

I’ll be honest, though. You’re a good showman. If you hadn’t gone into journalism-

Oh wait. You’re not a journalist by your own admission.

Anyway, if you hadn’t gotten into… commenting, you could have had a wonderful career as a master of ceremonies at a circus or as that rodeo clown you compared yourself to in the last link. But these people know they’re putting on a show. You? You live the show. You’ve become so delusional that basic facts are not relevant to you. Not dissenting opinion. Facts. Measurable, objective facts.

You’ve gone off the deep end.

Social Justice = Nazis

I wrote an entire article on your rant a while back regarding the term “social justice” and how it’s code for communism, socialism, and Nazism. You, however, claim that you never said this. You quote Biblical passages showing that social justice is a good thing.

Except you did say social justice was a Nazi concept and anyone who went to a church that preached social justice should leave. You said it. I heard it. And my left eye is still bleeding a little bit.

But, on the up-side, more pastors are preaching social justice because of what you said. My stomach churns as I type this, but you actually helped there.

no to nazi by ~scarscobwebstime on deviantART

Net Neutrality

You spoke with Phil Kerpen, Policy Director for Americans for Prosperity. Both of you wanted to do away with net neutrality. Why? You told viewers that it was a plot to allow the government to control what got said on the internet. With net neutrality, they could control the press. It was really about taking away the internet from the public and getting government control.

Except that is NOT what net neutrality is about.

Net neutrality is about making sure that everyone gets equal access to the internet. It’s also not, as you claim, the right to free internet. It’s a regulation designed to keep free speech, not oppress it. In other words, it’s a law to make sure things stay the way they are.

Also, in case you didn’t know, the guy sitting with you in that clip works for a front for company lobbying. If you want to hear them blatantly admit this, fast forward to 4:00 to see the relevant exchange.

You got punk’d, Glenn.

net neutrality poster by =bugbyte on deviantART

Death Panels

You went defensive when people brought up death panels because you had truth on your side, you told your listeners. The truth! Who can argue with the truth? You even had a reputable source: The New York Times. The article that stated that the health care bill would create rationing and thus require death panels. And someone has to ration, right?

Okay, we already knew you were illiterate, but whoever read this article to you may not have noticed that it’s not about health care. In fact, it doesn’t mention the phrase “death panels.” It’s about the US debt and what will happen if we keep borrowing money.

Similarly, you’ve raved for months about how we’ll have a doctor shortage if we pass health care reform. And you’re right.

In a “You’re actually wrong” kind of way.

Because we have more people with access to health care, the number of available doctors will not be enough. No one disputes this, but we don’t have more sick people and we don’t have less doctors. We have more people who now can see a doctor.

We will eventually get more doctors as the demand rises. It’s called supply and demand. I think you’re familiar with it. Part of the reason we don’t have enough doctors is because, frankly, few people could go to one, hence demand dropped. The people who won’t be able to get health care in the immediate future will not get it not because someone tells them they can’t, but because a doctor doesn’t have the time to see all of them. More doctors are also becoming specialists, which means less family doctors.
Once demand goes up, we’ll get the doctors we need. Not before.

But it’s not a conspiracy, Glenn. Men in suits are not plotting grandma’s demise or the death of Trigg Palin.

Life by ~Forfeit on deviantART

Glenn Beck is Jewish?

After your rant against one of the core beliefs in many of the world’s religions, and a concept that even atheists and agnostics can claim as good for humanity, you lost some sponsors, didn’t you? Oh yes you did. You went on the air and claimed that anyone who advocated social justice was using code words intended to spread socialism.

And now, with sponsors dropping like inhibitions on Spring Break, you’re going on the defensive. Except you don’t try to make a case for what you said. You don’t try to give more information to back your point.

You just claim that what you’re going through is like what the Jews had to endure under Hitler. You said this little gem in a rant starting at 5:30.

Right. The Holocaust. Nazi Germany. You are living under the kind of persecution the Jews had to endure. Do I even have to mention just how wrong you are in this? The government is not coming to kill you. People hate you and wish to silence you because you are a virus in American culture. Your fear-mongering has turned what should be a very real debate on issues that affect all of us into a shouting match. You made millions last year. Millions. Someone telling you to shut up or using legitimate capitalist means to deny you of revenue is not censorship. It’s capitalism. That thing you want to keep completely pure. The fact that you haven’t been yanked from the airwaves proves that the White House, as much as I’m sure doesn’t like you, doesn’t have the ability to shut you up on a whim.

Pity by *jeffrey on deviantART

I hate, yes, HATE what you’ve done to this country. You’re not entirely responsible for the current state of things, but you’ve put on a show for a population that is looking for a scapegoat as often happens in hard times. People need someone to blame and you’ve directed their anger.

And now we’re under the very real threat of violence from within because you’ve lied and played to people’s worst natures.

Even Don Quixote had a moment of clarity once, Glenn. And he too finally saw that the windmills weren’t the monsters he made them out to be.

Michel Martín del Campo

Liar, Liar, Fox Lights a Fire

Only you can prevent OH MY GOD! What the hell, man?! What the HELL?!

April 14, 2010

Misinformation is one of the key causes of conflict in this country. We can disagree all we want. Some can say Texas is better. Other may foam at the mouth as they claim Chicago pizza is better than New York pizza. Argue about who should win American Idol. It doesn’t matter, but as long as we all have the same base, the same understanding of the facts, we should be able to, eventually, have a civil discussion.

However, three things have recently bothered me. Well, they’ve been bothering me for a while, at least one of them has. It seems like Fox News is both duplicitous… and an outright liar. They don’t even try to cover it up any more.

Liar by ~DrinkTheJuice on deviantART

The Tea Party

The Tea Party bills itself as the voice of America. They are a grassroots movement that fights for the little guy and have YOUR best interests at heart because without the individual freedoms we cherish so much, big government and runaway spending, along with higher taxes, will strip of the rights Jesus himself wrote into the Bill of Rights.

Except that the modern-day Tea Party has about as much in common with the American revolutionaries as Snoopy fighting the Red Baron has with World War I veterans.

If you ask any Tea Party member what the original Boston Tea Party was about, he or she will very likely tell you about how it was a protest against taxes. That person would be half right. The original Boston Tea Party was a protest against taxation without representation. The colonies had no say in what taxes got levied and the one that broke the deal for the colonials was a monopoly granted to the East India Trading Company. In essence, the British Parliament gave East India the ability to sell its goods in the colonies at a lower price because Parliament cut the taxes they would have to pay. Local tea growers in the colonies had to pay much higher taxes.

The Boston Tea Party was the most radical protest.

So let’s summarize. More than two hundred years ago, what would become America revolted against a government in which they had zero representation or power because the 18th-century equivalent of an international corporation was given a tax cut. At no point were the colonies themselves taxed.

This is one of the greatest jokes I’ve ever heard. A lot of conservatives, and yes the Tea Party is conservative and was heavily promoted if not started by Fox News, actively fight to get the rich the most tax cuts possible while moving the burden to the middle class. It’s the opposite of what the Boston Tea Party was about.

If the modern-day Tea Party actually did what the original Tea Party did, we’d have marches all over the country begging Congress to keep Bush’s tax cuts off the tax code. The rich and the companies would get taxed more, and there are companies, massive companies, that don’t actually pay taxes, instead getting massive breaks through loop-holes.

Given that the modern Tea Party has almost no ideological link to the original Boston rebellion, why even name it the same thing?

Psychological games.

Would people get so riled out if it was called “Americans Against Taxes for the Rich” or “Fox News Protest?” No. The Boston Tea Party is one of the most famous and iconic symbols of the Revolutionary War, and Americans pride themselves in that war. Frankly, it’s insulting to anyone who studies history that this group contains so many people who are fighting for the rights of the people in power and have perverted the original intent of this historic act in American history.

So, moving on from weapons of mass destruction to weapons of mass destruction.

NO TAXATION by ~kristineslife101 on deviantART

No Nukes

Last week, President Obama signed a treaty with Russia that would lower nuclear stockpiles by a third. Of course, this means that both Russia and the United States still have 1,500 nuclear warheads EACH. The treaty also states that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against a target that is not a part of the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.

As you can imagine, this will leave America completely defenseless.

Wow. I could fertilize my lawn with that report.

The treaty states, in no uncertain terms, that the United States will go full-blown General Ripper on anyone who uses weapons of mass destruction against us, nuclear or otherwise. If Iran or North Korea used a biological weapon on us and killed millions of people, we reserve to right to essentially turn the country into the world’s largest glass sculpture.

The way it’s been reported, though, Fox has made it look as though Obama has left us without any means to retaliate. But we DO have a means to retaliate! We have a few hundred megatons worth of firepower to use and the planes, personnel, and equipment to get said nukes to any part of the world.

This one isn’t even a half-truth. This one is an outright lie, and a “news” network gets to report it like it was the word of God Himself. In case you think that almost 1500 nuclear warheads aren’t even that much, I’d like to remind you what a measly low kiloton bomb (VERY low on the yield range) did to one city and please remember that most of our current bombs are several orders of magnitude LARGER.

Death Panels Claim Their First Victim

If you keep an eye on Fox News for the inevitable train wreck that will one day be left of Glenn Beck, you may remember a few months ago when Sarah Palin went on the defensive against the health care bill and shouted to the mountains that the government was planning on creating “death panels” to control who got health care and who didn’t. Specifically, they would come after her son with Down Syndrome.

If you didn’t serve a purpose or the government wanted to save some money, well, hey, grandma doesn’t need that oxygen tank, right? Little Timmy here has Republican parents, so he’s got to go. You are a member of the Tea Party? Sorry. No doctor visits for you know. Go set that broken arm somewhere else.

Of course, many in the media already debunked this, firstly by the fact that the phrase “death panel” is nowhere in the bill. Secondly, the idea that someone, somewhere, could deny you coverage ignores the fact that, if you have insurance, AN INSURANCE COMPANY ALREADY DOES THAT.

However, Fox recently ran a headline that asked, didn’t report, if the death panels had claimed their first victim.

I want you to pay very close attention that story. VERY close attention. The original story says nothing of government coming in and denying this woman any care whatsoever. This was a company, a privately-run company. If you want to get a headache, I recommend you read the comments below the Fox story.

Just by asking the question and placing a question mark after it, Fox News essentially claims that death panels do exist. The question is not whether the health care bill will kill you. That’s already been answered. The question is if this is the first victim.

Death Tie by ~Imp0stoR on deviantART

So there you have it. Fox News reporting blatant lies. Stay tuned for the report detailing how Glenn Beck is actually the second coming of Christ and Karl Rove is Athena reincarnated as a man.

Is there anything this news channel can do that will get it shut down for having the audacity to call itself “news” while ignoring reality? This isn’t just misreporting or getting a statistic wrong. This isn’t someone using a bad source. Every news organization does that from time to time. Sometimes they do things like subtly alter the perception of the news, but this goes beyond that.

These lies are having a very real effect on the public debate and discourse. People are going in without all the facts or blatant lies. It’s not a debate. It’s a fist-fight.

I find it appalling that these guys could get fined for saying “fuck” but nothing happens when they pull stuff like this.


Son of Texas Will Make Your Kids Stupid: Part 2

Remember: The Ministry of Truth is watching you to make sure you learn only party-approved facts.

April 12, 2010

The article regarding Texas’ change in history and social studies books got a lot of attention from regular readers and others who only read that one article after it was forwarded to friends of friends and others in the educational field. Recently, though, I got into a bit of a debate on Facebook about some of the points in the article.

The mighty battle raged across the internet. Entire forums fell before the apocalyptic clash of ideas. Fields of code burned while we fought an intellectual battle with every weapon at our disposal. A valkyrie flew over us and waited to take the fallen to the glory of Valhalla…

At least, that’s how I want to remember a spat over several Facebook posts that I actually got so involved in that I kept waiting for this guy’s responses. Sometimes I swear the internet is like cocaine-laced chocolate served by Salma Hayek.

Anyway, my opponent raised several points, but he failed to convince me, and for good reason. They’re some of the same points I’ve heard throughout college and in many debates over what to teach students. On the surface, some of these arguments made me pause… except that I quickly remembered why they were wrong.

Keep in mind that these are paraphrased from the original discussion.

1) If you don’t like the school, just send your kid to another school.

Sorry, but no dice. This assumes that every family can afford private school or home-schooling. Even if you moved a student to another district, this won’t change the curriculum since ALL public schools must follow the same rules and teach the same things the state mandates. Even if, somehow, you have the option and the will to just move to another state with better standards, these changes in the Texas textbooks will leak into other states in the next few years anyway.

It’s like trying to escape a zombie plague by moving to another town. Eventually, the brain-eating aberrations are going to come after you.

2) People are smarter than you give them credit for. When faced with lies and propaganda, people can think critically and make their own informed decisions.

Which is, I’m sure, why propaganda has never been an effective tool of governments, religions, and other groups, right?

Propaganda is dangerous because it mixes lies with truth and half-truths. When you appeal to a person’s emotions first, then back it up with facts, you’ve already led that person to a predetermined decision. Thinking critically is useless if you don’t have the right information. It’s as simple as that. If you were to raise a generation of students on the fertilizer-worthy material in the new Texas curriculum, you could have the wisest of the wise, real Doogie Howser/ Einstein clones, but if they’re cooking with urinal cakes, you can’t make much.

Learning the “truth” later becomes a struggle. People who fervently believe Obama was born outside the United States, for example, hold on to that belief so much that even after it’s been proven by third parties that he was born in this country, they refuse to believe it. Their reality is different, so anything that conflicts with that reality must be fake.

Media Propaganda by ~Trosious on deviantART

3) People like you are just as bad as the Texas Board of Education. You believe you know how others should raise their children. The other side probably thinks your kids are just as brainwashed.

I’m going to award half a point for this one. I do, in fact, believe I know how others should raise their children. Parents need to raise children that can function within society and can grow into productive adults. The purpose of school is to teach a broad group of students something they can use in the real world. It is not to promote agendas or teach people what to think, but how to think.

As for brainwashing, the term specifically applies to mind control, the unethical coercion of a person in order to make him or her believe something. Essentially, the person has lost the choice. Whether it’s parents or teachers, no one has the right to force a belief on anyone else. If we present a broad, accurate depiction of events, we can analyze, debate, and argue the point.

We cannot argue, for example, whether or not the United States actually dropped a nuke on Japan. Willfully denying information and misleading a child is evil.

Yes, I said it.

It’s evil. By taking away the ability to choose by using false information, you have taken away the most basic freedom. Without choice, everything else falls apart. So, yes, I do believe I know how people should raise their kids. Be honest with them. If you have to lie to make them believe something you believe in, look at your own beliefs first.

A Clockwork Orange by ~TayterTots on deviantART

4) Fighting for federal standards like this is just like fighting for Big Brother’s Ministry of Truth. It’s ALL propaganda.

Again, I’m not advocating liberal OR conservative teaching of history. I’m advocating a free forum where someone with an education imparts facts onto students, then teaches students how to analyze those facts and come to their own conclusions. Going back to the example above, I once took a class whose sole purpose was the debate of whether the United States was justified in dropping two nukes on Japan.

No one in the class debated the facts. Some were contested facts, such as reports before the attack that said nuking Japan was unnecessary. After the war, other reports came out claiming the nukes were necessary to save millions of American lives. These reports are real. What we had to figure out, as historians and students, was whether there was any racial bias against the Japanese. Did the second reports come out after the fact as justification? Where they simply adjusted figures based on new intelligence?

A bad class would have been one in which we were simply told we had to drop the bomb. End of story. A good class is one where the act is mentioned.

Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas after the Vikings beat him to it. This act also led to the genocide of the natives. All facts, all relevant. No mention of Columbus’ intents. If there are records from the man himself on what he wanted to do, a teacher could use these, but facts are facts.

I do, however, want to point something out. This mentality that schools indoctrinate students into certain ways of thinking is much more prevalent in the social and art programs. Science courses such as physics, biology, chemistry, and such don’t have this because their disciplines must, by their very natures, change with new information and emotion has no bearing on scientific observations. English and philosophy, for example, can be highly subjective. Even if one person believes the Earth is a few billion years old and another thinks it was made in six days, both scientists will agree that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen.

As an aside, bringing up the Ministry of Truth when I want schools to show facts is akin to saying I’m like Ghengis Khan because I give to the Salvation Army. The Ministry of Truth was involved with the willful alteration of records to present political ideology in a positive light. It changes facts and presents a narrative that paints the world a certain way.

1984 by ~venomalienz on deviantART

5) You can’t present ALL the ideas. Do you devote 50% of the time to the religious ideology and 50% to the secular? How much time do you devote to Buddhism, Druidism, or Islam?

Once again, I am not saying that we need to teach students everything. No university would make the claim its English department covers all possible aspects of literature. No Physics department would claim to cover every specialization from particle physics to quantum theory.

It’s not a question of devoting time to every argument and ideology because, quite frankly, not every ideology is equal in its impact on American society. Christianity, for example, should be heavily discussed because it has had a profound impact on many aspects of American society and is a driving force in modern politics. I doubt a history class, though, would spend too much time covering things like Shintoism or Druidism. While these may be mentioned and briefly explained, in the context of American history, they have not been as prominent as other movements.

Again, you can study these once you reach an academic level where you specialize in such groups, but a public school cannot go over everything. No one is advocating such a thing. What I want is a comprehensive overview, and the ideas that do get presented are presented because of the tangible effect they have on society. It’s not a popularity contest.

Imperial Texas Flag by ~GeneralHelghast on deviantART

6) Debating what the government should teach children does very little to actually educate children, but it does line the pockets of politicians and unions.

Wrong. Debating what public schools teach children is at the CORE of educating children. We have a system in place that says that all children must attend school. Why? Because we believe school, education, the learning facts and the knowledge to apply said facts and think critically are important traits. What and how these kids get taught is the FIRST thing we need to decide. Still think it’s a waste of time?

I think we should stop voting for representatives in Congress because those elections don’t pass laws. I also think we shouldn’t go the doctor because that consult doesn’t instantly cure my headache.

they’re selling make believe by =scarredbutnotbroken on deviantART

7) It’s indoctrination, no matter how way you shape it. You just want to indoctrinate them to what you want to do.

Actually… I do. I want to indoctrinate them into the Church of Use Critical Thinking to Analyze Reality in an Unbiased Manner Before Making Knee-Jerk Reactions, or CUCTARUMBMKJR.

We’re still working on the name.

This kind of argument assumes that everything has a political point of view, but science isn’t about philosophies and who you vote for. It seeks to describe. That’s it. When Darwin proposed the theory of evolution, he didn’t do it from some radical anti-religion agenda. The observations he made in the Galapagos Islands led to a new branch of science that explains speciation, adaptation, and provides a history of life on this planet that excludes the Garden of Eden.

As Stephen Colbert said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

I’ve said it a dozen times now, but a school is not a place for political indoctrination. There are, however, several unavoidable facts. The Catholic Church engaged in crusades against unbelievers. Democrats failed to successfully use their majority in Congress over the last few years to pass significant reform. Radical Islam uses terror tactics both in the Middle East and here at home.

All facts… and they must be discussed in context and with an appropriate respect for academic discussion. A good educator cannot presume to give his or her take on the ideologies involved. I’ve been asked for my take on certain topics during class, and if I decide it would serve a purpose such as providing a particular perspective for an essay, I share my point of view with the very clear understanding that it is an opinion and they are in no way obligated to agree with me.

Indoctrination by ~chaos-of-fire on deviantART

When I say that I am against the changes in the Texas curriculum, it’s not because I want a liberal view of history. That would be equally terrible. I want students to have enough information and the right training to critically think about the issues. If they change their minds and become liberal, fine. If they think on all the facts and remain where they are, at least they were given the choice to look at as many ideas as possible.

Basically you can tell me that Jesus was betrayed by one of his apostles. Like Dylan once said, though “You’ll have to decide whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side.”

Two Republicans and the Pope Walk Into a Bar

Next week, I'll pull a rabbit out.

April 9, 2010

Welcome to Randomology, where tact and class will go the way of Michael Jackson if I need to make a point. There are three things you’re not supposed to talk about if you want people to keep civil. Avoid topics involving sex, religion, and politics.

Fortunately, I’ve never been one to avoid controversy or bluntness if it makes a point. In sports, if you score three times in a single game, it’s called a hat trick. Let’s see if I can pull this off.

Speed painting: Naval Battle by ~Mikajima on deviantART

Load the cannons. Fire 1!

In recent months, the Tea Party has turned from bad to worse. What may have been touted as a grassroots movement to give America its voice back has become something short of a mob. I mean torches and pitchforks. I mean the kinds of folk who wouldn’t mind a good ol’ lynchin’ like grandpapi used to have.

Tea Baggers (yes, I will continue to call them that since they started it) spit on Congressman John Lewis. He was one of the leaders of the Civil Rights movement. Despite what Texas school books will tell you, it was he and others on the front lines of this culture conflict that helped give millions of Americans their rights. He is a living witness to one of the most tumultuous times in American history, but a time that has made racism and ideas of segregation deplorable to any sane American.

Apparently, the man’s work is now to represent a Nazi socialist in the White House. And protestors spit on him. When the media broke this story and others showing that many of the most outspoken Tea Baggers were racist and intolerant, many others came to their defense.

How dare the news call these people racist? They’re average Americans and, according to O’Reilly, not all of them are Republican. A small minority is Democrat and a large section is Independent. Well shoot. I guess they’re not racist then.

Uhm, no. No. A thousand times no.

No one said they were Republicans. They said “racist.” They are not synonymous, but I find it very interesting that Billy here went straight for that as a defense, almost like “Republican” meant “not racist.” It doesn’t.

What the Tea Baggers did has been reported on various newspapers and was witnessed by several people. Tea Baggers been holding up signs like this for months and now, but when we call them racist WE’RE the bad guys? If I see a guy on the street cooking heroin and shooting up, I can call him junkie. It’s not an insult. It’s a fact. If someone tries to argue that Jews are a lesser race and he sports a swastika armband and Hitler poster, I am well within my rights to call him a Nazi and Godwin’s Law remains secure.

This is part of a bigger trend, so let’s continue.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see more Political Pictures

Damn the torpedoes! Fire 2!

The Vatican is in the news again because new evidence has shown that, before ascending to the much coveted position of God’s Go-To Man, Pope Benedict XVI failed to report the actions of a priest, Lawrence C. Murphy, who molested more than two hundred deaf students over a twenty-four year period. Most people would cry out in shock at such a thing. After all, it’s one thing to go hunting for victims. It’s something else entirely when your victims are given to you by parents and caretakers with the understanding that you will care for these youngsters.

In this case, with all seriousness, they SHOULD have thought of the children instead of working to cover up the abuse.

And how dare the media point this out?

Bunch of heathen chicken-sacrificing pagans is what they are! Do they have to keep talking about it?

Yes. Yes they do. A lot of Catholics won’t like it, but the Pope messed up. He’s God’s emissary on Earth, but he has his faults and he is still human. The day he walks on water and makes a tree, I will hold back and maybe assume he knows something I don’t. Until that day, he is still a human being and he made a mistake.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see more Political Pictures

Target of opportunity off the starboard bow! Fire 3!

The Republican National Convention is in the news again because its Grand Poobah, Michael Steele, apparently signed off on almost $2,000 for a bondage-themed club where the topless dancers engaged in faux-lesbian sex. This is on top of the thousands also spent on luxury hotels, private jets, and limos.

And who, you may ask, was in this lesbian-themed bondage club?

The RNC isn’t saying as of this writing. However, Steele already has good news. He saved a bunch of money on his car insurance by switching to Geiko.

Oh, and not a lot of people, at least Republicans, have heard about it.

If that’s the best you can come up with, if that’s the silver lining on the story, you’re in trouble. If I was stuck in the middle of the desert and six hours from dehydration, I wouldn’t be happy that I was dying with a nice haircut. Basically, it’s not that this money was wasted on extravagant services that served no purpose to campaign, but that the people didn’t know the RNC went Mister Blonde on the group’s bank account.

Also, I would like to thank the RNC for now allowing me to tag a post with the words “lesbian,” “bondage,” and “sex.” I’m sure it’ll do wonders for the page hit counter.

The Man of Steele by ~joshthecartoonguy on deviantART

Let’s be honest. We all know that power corrupts. There is now a study that shows why. Basically, once you’re in a legitimate position of authority, you are much more critical of the ways others behave. However, your own obedience to the standards you enforce drops. I encourage you to read the report in the last hyperlink.

What do these three stories show us? Power corrupts. It’s cliché, I know, but it goes to show that if we don’t call people out on stuff like this, if people in positions of authority are not held to the same if not higher standard as the rest of us, they will abuse said power.

One of my favorite Jefferson quotes (although it’s disuputed if he actually said it) is “The Price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

A lot of people think that it means governments and people in power must watch their subjects like Machiavellian hawks. A popular uprising does terrible things to a throne. I think, though, that it means that the people at the bottom, the ones who gave the power in the first place, must watch the people at the top and make sure they remain true to the things they’re supposed to enforce and hold true. The worst part of all three cases is that I don’t think there will be any consequences for those involved.

It isn’t insurrection and it’s not an insult to point out a flaw, a mistake, especially if said mistake is a crime or at the very least insulting. If your biggest complaint is that you got caught and that it’s bad because people know about, I’ve got a cat in a box I’d like you to save.

And that, ladies and gentlemen and freaks of the internet, is a hat trick. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pass out for the next two days from exhaustion.

Also, join the new Randomology Twitter feed and keep up with the site wherever you may be.

High School is so Gay

April 6, 2010

High school sucks.

Oh, it does. If you enjoyed high school, I’d like to know what you were smoking. It’s difficult to enjoy your youth. Social cliques form lines more oppressive than the Berlin Wall, and no matter how much you want to tell yourself that none of it matters and you will one day leave that place, it still hurts. Even if you’re strong enough to focus and believe that, you would at least like the freedom to be left alone if that’s what you wish, the tolerance to be yourself. High schoolers aren’t known for their acceptance of the weird, but it’s a goal.

So if high school already sucks because of the students inside, why do the adults insist on making it more difficult?

This video is from a few weeks ago, and there had been some… well, disturbing developments.

Basically, Constance’s school held a secret prom and sent her to the “regular” prom… with only her date and some students with learning disabilities. Apparently, they gave her the time and address for the prom for the special kids. Everyone else went to the regular prom and kept that little fact hidden from her… except for the fact that the students posted pictures on Facebook and some let it slip in conversation.

cheat. liar. by ~rainbowlullaby on deviantART

…Ladies and gentlemen, wake up the kids and take a screenshot. I am speechless.

If you read this site with any frequency, you’ll know how I feel about the freedom to express yourself, to be who you want and make the choices that affect you without having to worry that others will come after you. Feel free to disagree. If you think Constance should stick to the boy-girl relationships, it would be rude to debate her on the subject and try to convince her otherwise, but that is THE MOST YOU’RE ALLOWED TO DO.

Some weeks ago, I had a conversation with a few people and the subject turned to same-sex marriage. I argued that if a couple wanted to spend the rest of their lives together and this union did not hurt me in any way, there was no rationale to deny it. The response? Basically, I was told that if we let people be gay, soon they’ll be shooting up drugs.

For a few seconds, I thought I’d slipped into a parallel universe and another conversation. It got more, uhm… logical when I was told that gays could be gay and marry… they just couldn’t hold hands or kiss or do anything that told the world they were gay.

I don’t think the closet’s big enough for them, Skippy.

OK to be gay by ~KamillaHansen on deviantART

Let’s ignore for a moment that gay, lesbian, and transgender teens hear gay slurs an average of 26 times a day or that thirty-one percent of gay youth has been injured or threatened at school. These teens are also three times more likely to attempt suicide. Basically, GLTG teens have to deal with all the crap in school and the extra crap just because of who they chose to love.

Maybe you think homosexuality is a sin. Great. I have another one for you. So’s divorce. Think we should ban divorced people from getting married again? Maybe they shouldn’t be able to take care of children. Is there a watch-list for them?

Oh! Even better! Think we should exclude the Sons of Ham for seeing Noah naked? After all, their skins are dark with the sins of their ancestors, right? Hey, I know we have a black president, but rules are rules, right? They’re supposed to be slaves.

I got it! Women should remain subservient, just like Paul said. After all, they can’t think because, you know, they have those pesky ovaries and lack the superior Y chromosome. It’s in the Bible!

love is patient by ~xquisitex on deviantART

I try to maintain a tone of logic and civility in a lot of these posts, make an argument without resorting to emotion too much, but if I may…

To the parents, students, and administrators of the Itawamba County School District in Fulton, Mississippi:

You are the highest class of cowards I’ve ever heard of. You got beat by a teenage girl who had the truth and basic human decency on her side. You knew what you were doing, and what did you gain by using tactics I can only describe as middle-school-level in absurdity?

“Here (snicker), here’s the address to the party… Shhh! Shut up, you guys!”

You have national attention on you. And, like the kid who passed notes in class, you are now being asked to stand in front of everyone and explain yourselves. So? Let’s have it.

This isn’t the first time you’ve had an issue with someone’s sexuality.

You ran out a mother and her children because her son was transgender and dressed in women’s clothing. He was a student for less than twenty-four hours and you ruined his and his family’s life. Like Constance, he was different. You labeled him a trouble-maker simply because he existed.

Did Juin Baize and Constance McMillen shatter your worldview? Did you think you too had to become gay or dress in “gender inappropriate clothing?” Guess what? If gay marriage becomes legal or even if just Constance and her girlfriend could dance together, if they could spend one night with their peers and just be high schoolers and have that one night to look back on with fondness, it doesn’t mean that YOU have to become gay. A society does not have to be homogenous to be harmonious. My guess is that you’re doing this for religious reasons. It always comes to that, but you hurt the name of the one you worship by resorting to underhanded cruel tricks and manipulation of youth.

She beat you. She’s right. The country knows she’s right. This isn’t the tyranny of the minority coming down and destroying your world. You can still go to church. You can still meet at Grandma’s for Sunday dinner. You can still watch Fox News and rot your brains.

A girl wanted to dance with her sweetheart. That’s it. She wasn’t asking for a marriage license. She just wanted one night to show the world who she was. And you lied and tricked her and were too stupid to not post the pictures on the internet. No matter what excuse you come up with, you’re still bigots with no concept of how it feels to be set aside and hurt like this. Shame on all of you.

Maybe Constance is bigger than this. Maybe she will get over the whole series of events. I hope so. As for the rest of you, I hope that the next time someone different comes along, someone who makes you examine your beliefs, you at least have the balls to a face-to-face debate instead of this childish sneaking around.

May all your Miller Lite be flat and your children inbred.