I know most of my readers probably don’t speak or read Spanish. That’s fine. It’s a lovely language and has been used to write some sublimely beautiful prose and poetry in the last few hundred years. This sign, however, is not one of them.
It’s a sign outside a playground in Delware. Nothing too out of place, right? However, if you know Spanish, the bottom half becomes a bit worrisome. It reads:
“You need permission to play in this playground. Violators will be subject to police action.”
Now, I’ve done a little bit of translating in my time. Mary intends to make a career out of out. I’ve seen some lazy, often hilarious translations. This, though, is two totally different messages. It’s not a typo. It’s not a matter of someone pressing the wrong letter on the keyboard. As Addicting Info reported, the sign is in the most conservative section of the Delaware but has a 15.8% Hispanic population. Daily Kos also reported that the school board apparently didn’t know about the signs and they have since been taken down. There were apparently some signs that had the Spanish version and the English version match up and say police action would be taken.
Maybe the people who put them up really didn’t know Spanish and just assumed the translations were accurate. Whatever the case, they were up for a full year. Someone had to have said something. It seems as though the signs went down after the town started getting online flak.
Someone wanted the signs to be intimidating as evidenced by the fact that the white signs also had a proper translation from Spanish to English. This is the kind of crap I’m always talking about. Language has a purpose. It can comfort, scare, or just inform. Why weren’t non-Spanish-speaking children warned of police action if they violated the rules? You should already know where I’m going with this.
Racism is ugly. It’s hard to really understand it if you’ve never experienced it. It can burn a hole in you, make you as untrustworthy and cynical as the people who do this kind of crap. Part of me hopes the superintendant really didn’t know and his show of personally removing the signs was sincere.
But the cynic in me says it’s doubtful. It’d like to be wrong.
And now, for slightly more uplifting things, here are the people who wished they’d had a better December.
There’s been a lot of gun talk recently since the murder-suicide of Jovan Belcher and the recent Florida murder of Jordan Davis by a Michael Dunn, who claimed to be defending himself from nefarious teens with loud music. In fact, maybe it’s me, but it seems that senseless deaths and massacres were the big gun stories this year. And now, of course, Fox has to go and offer their take on this very touchy issue. A lot of people on Facebook are also running to the protection of these defenseless firearms.
Let’s start with the conservative right-wing noise machine, though. It’s black people’s fault. I’m not even joking about this. Just take a look here. Also, check out the flippant way Gutfield here just dismisses kids being killed by guns as just gang members killing each other off.
Gun violence is an “urban problem,” just some kids in gangs shooting each other. Sorry, but that’s crap. Statistically, rural areas, especially in the south, have higher instances of gun violence than urban areas. Of course, whenever someone at Fox says “urban,” you know what they really mean. It’s the same position they had regarding welfare. The one where they said welfare was hurting the black community.
The conservative circle-jerk, though, got ugly when Fox suggested that female victims of violence should just make better decisions. The advice was not, you know, for men to stop being violent. Or for us to find the root cause of all this violence in our country. Nope. Blame the victim.
This dribble from Fox would be offensive and rage-inducing enough, but I also saw something floating around Facebook over the last few days. Feast your eyes:
Wow. Yeah. Uhm, baseball bats?
Sorry, but no cigar.
Here are the realstats according to those organizations. You may notice that blunt objects account for a VERY small part of this and firearms account for more than two thirds of the total. The graph on Facebook uses some weird Martian math we humans haven’t perfected yet, but the bottom line is that guns help crimes. You want to talk about the Second Amendment and its role in helping citizens defend themselves? Wonderful, but don’t tell me bats kill more people than guns. Don’t tell me people go on mass batting sprees. Don’t tell me children get killed by not knowing how to use a bat.
First of all, a gun is a weapon, not a tool. A car is designed to move people and good from one point to another. Its status as a “killer” on that list is because people don’t properly use them. It’s intended purpose is transport. The same thing goes for a knife. Drug abuse and falls hurt the person too stupid to know what he or she is doing. Drugs, I might add, are also used for religious ceremonies in certain cultures. And many of the things on that list are ACCIDENTS. How many gun deaths are from accidents? How many are intentional? That’s another huge difference.
When properly used, a gun kills something. When improperly used, a gun kills something. It’s a weapon. See the difference?
If we’re going to have the gun discussion, we need to all be on the same page of reality. Stop talking about guns as though they were some holy artifact of American pride. A gun is not a tool. It is a weapon. Firearms have been involved in more deaths than any other weapon and our country has the highest homicide rates in the modern world. Areas with the most lax gun laws have higher homicide rates. Most NRA members support tougher gun laws, registration, and background checks, but the idiots at the top (including Ted Nugent) say “No” because if we can track guns and make sure criminals have a harder time getting to them, then apparently scary Obama and the communists will invade America.
Yes, there is such a thing as a responsible gun owner, but a responsible gun owner should also be aware of the damage that a firearm can do. The bulk of the NRA knows this and wants tougher gun laws. Believe it or not, I’m pro-Second Amendment, but I’d like to make it harder for sickos to buy a thousand rounds of ammo before they shoot up a school. I’d like to know convicted criminals can’t get their hands on a Beretta. I want to know that if someone owns a gun, he or she is well-trained and continues to be well-trained. You have to at least be able to read a sign to drive a car, but apparently, asking for mental stability when purchasing an item that is strictly a weapon is a sign of fascism.
A gun isn’t a blanket. Stop clinging to it like a five-year old.
Four years ago, I was in Washington DC, working as a speechwriter. I was working 50+ hours a week but making decent money. I was also freelancing on the side to help pay off the debt I’d incurred moving to DC. I was staying with a friend in Indiana who was kind enough to open the door for me while I found a job, but had to leave after only one week. The job started literally the day after I arrived and managed to find a place to live. I was stressed, lonely, and barely slept, but I was prepared to work even harder to be the best I could be and make my mark and possibly a new career…
Then… things happened. And I was $3,000 down, jobless, and had to pack what few belongings I had left into my car and drive and hope for the best. Longest 40 hours of my life.
Now, I’m making less than a third of my former salary…
But I met the love of my life upon returning to Laredo, I have a job with two bosses that I respect, teach children how to write using Mythbusters and Batman, have the time to write and do what makes me happy, started Randomology.org, and have a kick-ass D&D group. And did I mention my AWESOME wife?
All I’m saying is… plans change. The world kicks you in the tender spots. You know what? Get drunk. Cry. Meet up with friends and tear it up. Pack everything up and drive through snow and hope you don’t die… and when you get to your next destination… well, you never know.
Someone asked me upon returning, “What are you going to do now?” I just said, “Start over. What else is there to do?”
I guess as I sit here editing Charcoal Streets and reading the news for a new video for Monday, I look over at my wife working on her graduate studies, translating a new document, and I can’t believe I might have missed all this. I might have missed her.
Just four years ago, the world seems simple and difficult. Now, it’s still difficult, and I may not be making the kind of money I was making before, but I’m happy. Plus, I get to prove that I can bounce back from something like that and make the people who doubted me eat crow.
What more could I possibly want?
Oh right! We’re going to watch Mister Bean, Parks and Recreation, and Star Trek and drink Blue Moon later. WORLD. GOT. EVEN. BETTER.
Politics, religion, and sex are the three most taboo topics in the world. That might explain some of the weird searches people use to get to this site…
I’d be lying if I said I felt really terrible for not posting as much the last two months, but the truth is that the website has really take its toll on me. Yes, it kept me writing. Yes, it’s been a blast hearing from all my readers, your wonderful comments on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, everywhere. At the same time, it’s exhausting. The research, the cross-checking, everything.
I was in Washington during the last presidential election. I remember receiving the first batch of “Obama is from Kenya” emails at the office. I remember walking into the chief of staff’s office and asking if he’d seen this. The “WTF” look on his face as he realized these people were serious is something I’ll never forget. I asked, half-in-jest, if it was acceptable to write an email to send back to these concerned citizens and call them the frakin’ morons they rightfully should be called.
I was told to be as polite as possible. And I was.
But I never forgot how I had to sit there and write a letter that was the equivalent of telling a charging rhino to sit. The whole time, I just sat there and thought of what I really wanted and needed to say:
I’m sorry, I agree that you have concerns, but I can’t really say that you’re the biggest fucking idiot I’ve ever met since my job depends upon my boss making everyone happy at the expense of not showing any spine or actual conviction. However, I understand you like to believe reality is a big conspiracy against you and the scary black man is going to take away Jesus and apple pie, and while such a scenario is about as likely as me gaining the powers of the Q Continuum just because I’m bored, I have to hold your hand and tell you that you’re right. Why? Because while liberals may have mistakenly latched on to the idea of relativism, the Right took it even further and declared that reality itself is so subjective that tangible, verifiable facts do not matter if you believe strongly enough. They believe that they can change reality by simply stating a bald-faced lie. Sure, I’ve been working in this office for only a few months, but even I know that both sides stretch the truth, exaggerate, and so on. However, I would present to you the following analogy.
Both of us are asked how to better move a couch up the stairs. My side suggests getting a bunch of people together to lift it, move it over the railings, and getting a few people inside to maneuver it through the door. Unwieldy, sure, and perhaps inefficient, but at least it worked. Your solution? Empty a gun into the sofa and hope God pulls it up.
I’m sorry. I’m supposed to be tactful, right? Positive? Okay.
Dear sir and/or madam, I am quite positive you have a massive learning disability, possibly self-inflicted from years of watching Fox and listening to Limbaugh. But just because you’re offended, you’re not right. Just because ten thousand people say it, it doesn’t make it true. Dismissing science, logic, and maturity does not make you quaint and homey. It makes you a child.
But I’ll be nice to you. Because it’s mean to be mean to children. Unless they’re idiots and refuse to learn from their mistakes. You know what? Forget it. You’re an idiot.
I’m pretty sure that was the moment I decided to try to reach out and educate people, maybe get a discussion going. I know some people will never be swayed by facts and experience, but I’m thankful for the things I’ve taught and for the things I myself have learned.
But frankly, the last year has been exhausting. I’ll be glad when the election is over. I’ll be more glad when I can finally tell myself I’ve edited Charcoal Streets as much as it’s going to get edited.
Good night. See you tomorrow, and remember…
Stories don’t tell children dragons exist. Stories tell children the dragon can be beaten.
I’ve had it up to here with the Romneys and their condescending attitude towards Hispanics, Latinos, the working class, and anyone who wasn’t fortunate enough to be born with silver spoon up their nose.
And if I sound angry, it’s because I really am angry.
As a Hispanic citizen and a first-generation immigrant, I would like to now address all members of the Romney family and campaign.
Ladies? Gentlemen? Dressage horses? Shut up. Just stop it. Right now. This instant.
There’s a reason Romney is polling thirty or forty points behind Obama among Latinos, and yes, the gap is closing, but that’s expected after a pair of weak performances on Univision and then the first debate. As was said wonderfully here, it’s not that we think Romney is white and rich and that’s why we don’t want to vote for him. We’re not voting for Romney because he talks down to us. Now, this latest set of comments from him and his son show just how he thinks he’ll win us over.
Not with proper immigration reform. Not by allowing the children of illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens. Not by addressing women’s issues. Not by supporting an economic plan that will help not just us but the whole country.
He’ll win by showing he’s more of a man and by posturing, by appealing to Hispanics’ love of “machismo.”
Look here, Mittens. Firstly, thanks for characterizing us as posturing machistas who need a fierce leader and shun signs of cowardice. In essence, we have the leadership requirements of Vikings. Or Klingons. Neither is too appealing.
Secondly, please don’t tell me you’re showing real bravado and strength as I’m sure you believe that we believe a man should act. A real man owns up to his mistakes. A real man values honesty. A real man accepts the consequences of his actions and learns from them. You are not a man. You’re a child who was cursed with wealth and a myriad of opportunities many of us will never know, but please, keep telling me how All Mighty-Whitey is going to solve my problems if I just shut up and vote against my own interests for a man who wouldn’t know “macho” if John Wayne himself stomped on his head.
And before anyone asks, no, the captions in the previous link are parody, not an accurate translation.
Some, however, are saying this is a scandal born of nothing. One of my readers on Facebook said that we liberals are better than this. We can’t possibly focus on him looking tanned on a Spanish-language network and think that he donned “brownface” to appeal to Hispanic voters. There is no proof of this, she said, and in many ways she’s right. This “scandal” hinges on the assumption that Mitt Romney would think darker skin tones would endear him to a section of the population. It means we believe Mitt is shallow enough to even think this will work and it lowers the political debate to speculation and name-calling.
I remember the moment I became interested in politics and world events. When I grew up in Mexico, I heard from someone that the United States had gone to war. To me, the United States was a magical land where people could find jobs, where you could be anything you wanted to be, where I could go to McDonald’s. That was my youthful, limited view of this country. I’d lived here when I was much, much younger, but before the age of ten, the United States was still a mysterious place where anything could happen. I mean, come on. It had Disneyland.
Eleven years ago, I was in my room while practicing for an upcoming choir competition. I had just popped in a tape (wow, I’m dating this) with the instrumentals to the songs we needed to learn. I was halfway through “Danny Boy.” I was just past the line about all the flowers dying when my mom called me to her room and said something had happened in New York City.
Author’s Note: I realize some people prefer the terms “Hispanic” or “Chicano.” I personally refer to myself as “Mexican-American” since I’m a first-generation immigrant. I know we all have our preference, but for the purpose of this article, I’m sticking with Ann Romney’s terminology.
Ann Romney is not running for office, but her recent remarks about the Latino community show the Right’s mentality on minority votes and, on a personal level, showed her contempt for people like me.
I like to think my arguments are better than just flinging insults or calling names, but I would like to vent a little steam before starting by saying that Ann Romney sounds like any abusive husband on a Lifetime movie telling his battered wife that it’s her fault she’s on the ground doubled over.
Let me explain. Ann Romney said:
“I spoke to women last night and I wanted women to understand how important this election is for their children. But as I was sitting backstage listening, I thought, it’s also very important that the Latino community recognize how important this election is for them.”
I like how she talks about women and mothers and that need to protect the family but seems to think Latinos don’t have those concerns or are somehow different. It sounds like nitpicking her grammar, but it actually makes sense a little later.
“And [Latinos] are mistaken if they think they are going to be better off with Barack Obama as their president. There really is only one way for prosperity, for small business, and that is, this is the simplest way I can say this: If Mitt Romney wins, America wins.”
Mrs. Romney’s assertion that helping small businesses is the best way to help the country falls apart for two reasons. Firstly, she assumes that corporate profits equal social prosperity. They don’t. The top earners in this country have had incredible success in the last several years, but the middle class hasn’t seen significant improvement in THIRTY YEARS. Small businesses are another matter. Yes, they could be doing better, but the self-serving nature of the Romney/Ryan plan is another case. It will hurt not just Latinos, but everyone.
It’s when Mrs. Romney starts talking about why Latinos are specifically deaf to the GOP that I start to put the pieces together.
“You’d better really look at your future and figure out who’s going to be the guy that’s going to make it better for you and your children, and there is only one answer… It really is a message that would resonate well if [Latinos] could just get past some of their biases that have been there from the Democratic machines that have made us look like we don’t care about this community. And that is not true. We very much care about you and your families and the opportunities that are there for you and your families.”
If I may, I would like to address Ann Romney directly.
Well, by “we,” I mean “me.” It’s just one person behind the sleek internet experience you are, uhm, experiencing right now.
Let’s start with why one local school district just failed an English class.
Here in Laredo, Texas, schools will no longer have rules. No, that’s too negative. We can’t have teachers telling kids not to do things. It’d be like setting boundaries and stunting their growth. We can’t have that! Instead, the United Independent School District of Laredo, Texas will now implement “expectations.”
For example, instead of “No running in the hallways,” our students will now be encouraged with statements like, “Our students walk down the halls.”
You get it? It’s positive reinforcement. The kids will do better because they have freedom and can do whatever they want while at the same time feeling shame when they don’t meet “expectations.”
I really hope I don’t have to tell you why this is a dumber idea than Kim Kardashian thinking she can have a music career. Or Snooki thinking she should be a mother. This is stupid, and I know why the district is doing it. Ever since the Penn State scandal broke, schools have gone ape trying to make sure they don’t do anything that might make a child feel uncomfortable. We have to make sure kids have a great time at all costs. I understand the need for proper training, though. I had to undergo training for dealing with minors. It included signs to watch out, for that may indicate abuse in the home or even at work. It included the chain of supervisors that needed to be notified of such signs. It also laid out in very clear language the kinds of things that were expected of me as an employee of a public education institution. And I learned a few things I didn’t know…
But the idea that kids can do fine with “expectations” but not rules is fucking stupid.
Let me put it this way. Are there consequences for not meeting “expectations?” I’m sure there are, so in the end, what we have is “rules” by another name. An expectation reminds me too much of that scene from Office Space. You know the one.
There’s a big gap between personal drive and what is expected at work. A student will follow “expectations” as long as said expectations are easy. Kids, I’m sorry to say, with very few exceptions, are not motivated to learn on their own. It’s the same problem of “unschooling” I talked about almost two years ago. A child has no incentive to follow an “expectation” unless he or she wants to follow it.
On a larger scale, it’s the same problem I have with Objectivism and libertarianism: the idea that we can have near-total anarchy and people will comport themselves because it is expected of them. Let me be blunt. People are morons. People are selfish. Companies have no incentive to be humanitarian if they can corner the market and keep making money at the expense of others. Students, likewise, have no incentive to follow a suggestion if there are no consequences.
I’ll be damned if I ever tell my students that I “expect” them to pay attention. Oh, no, buddy. They will pay attention or suffer my creative wrath. After I told them I wanted them to stop leaning back on the back two legs of their chairs, I made it clear it wasn’t a suggestion. This was an order.
If I saw anyone lean back, I would get behind them, grab their chair, and pull them back just enough to make think they were about to fall. There was a consequence. I was not asking them. I was telling them.
Rules exist for a reason. Unfair, unjust rules, must be fought, of course. A rule must have a purpose. Replacing all rules with “expectations”? That’s just asking for trouble. Eventually, a good student won’t have to be told to cheat or run in the halls. Until then?
They’re still kids.
Now, let’s clear our heads with one of the later episodes of MST3K and a personal favorite of mine: Space Mutiny.
In a way, I’m sad that the culture war over gay rights has come to a head over a crappy chicken sandwich. On the other hand, I’m glad it finally opened the floodgates and we can tell who is for gay rights, who is pretending to be trendy, and who really has no idea what’s going on. For the latter group, let me explain a few things.
“This is a First Amendment issue!”
The most common gripe right now is that people who are boycotting Chick-Fil-A are somehow trampling on the company’s (and Cathy’s) freedom of speech.
He wants to believe gays shouldn’t marry, he has that right. He also has the right to donate money as he sees fit to whatever charity he chooses. My grievance, and that of many others, is WHO he gave the money to… the Family Research Council, among others. Just click the link and find out what kinds of people this good Christian man thinks deserve millions of his money.
Free speech means saying what you want. Paying to have others denied their rights is oppression. It’s that simple.
“Gay marriage isn’t that huge a deal! He’s just standing up for what he believes in!”
And what he believes in is hatred and intolerance even if he doesn’t sound like it.
Whenever people say they champion “traditional marriage,” it’s very likely they’re actually saying “the Biblical definition of marriage.” The problem, however, is that the Biblical definition of marriage is nowhere near what conservatives think. In fact, the Bible condones pretty much every other type of marriage except straight marriage. It advocates types of marriage we now consider highly unorthodox, so it’s ridiculous to claim opposition to gay marriage is based on the Bible.
Even worse, historically, “traditional marriage” has been a term used to deny rights to people who today can get married without fear of getting lynched. Interracial, different denominations, divorced couples… think about it. At one point, these groups were denied marriage for the same reason gay couples can’t get married. And every time, conservatives have been wrong. Their stance has been based on bigotry and hatred.
Why is this time any different?
Also, claiming that he’s innocent because he’s basing his actions on his beliefs pretty much frees any of us from any responsibility for our actions. The next time I get a traffic ticket, I can just say that my beliefs in chaos ruling the world make me except from the laws of man. So there.
“You’re just as intolerant as Cathy! You’re being intolerant of intolerance!”
…I’ve actually had people tell me this one. Somehow, calling someone out for being a bigot is the same as being a bigot.
Let me tell you something. Cathy and everyone like him can say whatever they want. I, too, can say whatever I want, and that includes disagreeing with him and his beliefs. However, I take special offense the actions he takes to limit gay rights and donate to a group that thinks homosexuality should be a criminal offense and thinks gays being killed for being gay is a good thing.
On the other hand, the Right doesn’t bat an eyelid when people on their side protest and boycott in the name of morals. Disney and General Mills, for example, have been hit with protests for their own stance on gay rights, and yet those actions were called brave, moral, etc.
But god forbid the Left protests something! We’re a bunch of communazi baby-killers, right?
“But it IS a First Amendment issue! Those mayors tried to ban Chick-Fil-A from their cities!”
Yeah, but they were wrong. A lot of people on the Left agree they were out of line to suggest they could deny a business a license based on their donations.
On the other hand, the Right was perfectly fine with denying mosques the right to build where they wished. That was also a First Amendment issue, but the Right screamed and whined that, well, they just didn’t want mosques in their cities. There was a wave of violence and a series of protests against Muslims who wanted to build houses of worship, and none on the Right stood up and said, “Hey, maybe this is a First Amendment issue.”
So remember, folks: chicken sandwich > religious liberty.
“Well, I don’t want to be part of this stupid debate. I’m going to keep going to Chick-Fil-A, but I still support gay rights.”
This is the same as saying, “I’m all for civil rights, but I’m going to keep eating at Swastikas and Subs, the Neo-Nazi shop down the street. I know they donate to the Klan, but they make a great meatball sub.”
If you know where the money goes and say you’re still for gay rights, you’re a hypocrite, pure and simple.
“But are you saying I have to check where companies donate their money and buy based on my stance on important social issues?! What about gas? Are you going to stop buying gas because it helps fund Middle Eastern dictatorships?”
Uhm, yes. You do have to check.
I know it’s impossible to check every major store, and it gets more confusing since many companies are owned by larger companies that are owned by larger companied, etcetera, etcetera, but if you KNOW you’re hurting the gay community and you keep doing this despite having the choice of going somewhere else, you’re complacent.
I’d love to stop buying gas form the Middle East, but have very little say on the matter. But this? I can NOT buy a chicken sandwich.
“What about all the jobs that will be lost if the boycott succeeds? You’re hurting everyone else!”
No, that would be Cathy. He made a terrible business decision by giving money to an organization that’s labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Center. Management made a terrible decision that hurt the company’s image. If Disney decided to donate a million dollars to groups that wanted to keep minorities from voting, a good chunk of the population would be outraged and stop buying Disney products.
Any lost business would be the fault of management angering their customers. We’re responding to something the company did, and if employees lose out on it, it’s a simple fix: Cathy has to stop donating to hate groups.
The point is that companies aren’t entitled to our business. They have to please their customers and put out a quality product. Chick-Fil-A did something that has a physical impact on the gay community. Their customers don’t like that. We’re boycotting.
If anyone suffers, it’s Cathy’s fault.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time Christians lined up at strip clubs to give money to the poor girls dancing their way through college? Because, after all, who will think of the employees?
The Bottom Line
Cathy’s donations hurt the gay community. People who willingly buy Chick-Fil-A sandwiches are feeding those donations. To ignore that fact is to be complacent and culturally lazy if you actually think gays should have the same rights as the rest of us.
The Right took more offense to a business losing money and being called out for its homophobia than to houses of worship being desecrated and attacked in the name of hate. They mobilized like Jesus himself was making sandwiches.