RELUCTANTLY Defending Twilight (VERY Reluctantly)

This hurts. A lot.

November 7, 2011

Don’t make me do this. I don’t… I don’t want to defend Twilight. I really don’t. I don’t… I just don’t have it in me. It’s like asking me to like McDonald’s. The taste it leaves in my mouth would make it impossible for me to like food again.

Crap. Here we go…

Well… frack.

This gentleman went through the Wal-Mart book shelves and picked out all the witchcraft and evil influences on the shelves. He went so far as to point out to the rest of us heathens where to find the Bibles. And these were the real Bibles, the King James Version, not any of the other pagan versions. Seeing as how this fine Youtuber also believes in chem-trails and the government somehow squeezing the life out of him through roadside speedometers, I’m going to guess he’s not the most balanced of folks, but, alas, I will answer his concerns.


– BrainWash – by ~NeonThingy on deviantART

0:24-0:32 “My young daughter is already brainwashed to say ‘Elmo’ when she sees that stupid ass…”

Dude! The kids are right there. For a guy who is trying to raise his kids right, you seem to swear a bit when trying to show your kids the Christian path. Not that there’s anything wrong with swearing but, if I may… you’re going after Elmo.

I happen to like Sesame Street. Tread carefully, my friend.

0:36-0:52 – “Got the stupid cheesy stuff: Sponge-Bob, queer stuff… and of course you get to this section. Yup, it’s still all Wiccan vampire stuff.”

Wiccan vampire stuff? I’m sorry, but I think I missed the part where faerie-like vampires engaged in a story of love and romance went anywhere near Wiccan territory. First of all, the vamps in Twilight have nothing to do with the European concept of vampirism. In fact, they’re closer to faeries.

Second of all, a close reading of the text actually shows Mormon influence, not Wiccan. I’m not sure how many Wiccans would be romanced by the strong male figure who pretty much demands he control every aspect of the female’s life as the female is nothing but a passive force in the universe. But moving on…


Twilight: Scholastic Edition by *otherwise on deviantART

1:01-1:04 – “I should buy this just to burn it… Other books by the same pervert. What’s that triangle object right there?!”

Here, our intrepid investigator is referring to a number of novels by the same author and a strange triangle symbol on the bar code. What could it mean?! Is the government monitoring your reading habits?!

Actually, the triangle is just an aid so the barcode has an easier time scanning the code.

Moving on to the main point, though, what would buying, then burning the book, get you? You bought it, gave money to the author, and you put this video out claiming you burned it. You’ve just given cash and free publicity to the author. Do you know what happens when parents and adults say something should not be read and burned instead?

Kids want to do it. Good luck with that. Oh, and I’m sure when your kids rebel and want to piss you off, that little Bible-burning picnic they set up based on your example will go over really nicely-like.

1:29-1:35 – “This is what is given for kids to read these days.”

Were libraries outlawed in the time it took me to watch this video?

Sir, these are not the only choices kids have. I know you think the government is a socialistic Anti-Christ hell-bent on brainwashing your kids, but we have these things called libraries that have thousands of books for them to read. Since you have access to Youtube, I’m going to assume you also have access to Amazon and can order books. Even used books only cost a few cents if you shop right.

Wal-Mart sells what is popular, not the only things out on the market. I know some books are out of print, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t find them if you took more than five minutes out of your busy day of identifying chem-trails to look for suitable reading material for your kids.

It’s called being a parent. Wal-Mart is not known as a literary destination for a reason. It sells romance novels and pop vampire romance novels right now because that’s what sells. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it. It’s called capitalism. Anyone who wants to read actual literature or something not written and published without editing will look further than the shelves at Wal-Mart.


GAY PRIDE by =AngelXKairi on deviantART

2:00 -2:04 – “Oh, it’s still got Twilight, which is really gay.”

This will be the second “gay” reference you make this video. Is “gay” a bad thing? Seeing as how you seem to be the kind of guy who would beat up a teen just because he likes choir, let me let you in on a secret.

Using “gay” as a derogatory tells me volumes of your mind-set. It’s like saying, “Oh my god, that’s so black and ghetto,” or “That is such a Jew line.” You’re a bigot. You’re intolerant of others. You have none of the so-called love of Christ in your heart.

Asshole.

2:14-2:30 – “This is the garbage… this is the choice for your thirteen year old here at Wal-Mart. And then when they grow up they can read all these other useless novels.”

Again, if you’re looking to Wal-Mart to provide literary stimulation, you’re out of luck. There is this wonderful thing called the internet. I know you think it’s full of porn and federal agents trying to suck your soul out of the magic computer box, but there’s this thing called Project Guttenberg. They have thousands of free books. I know that sounds kind of socialist, but they’re classic tales.

If you want quality reading for your teens, pick up a good collection of poetry or some classic literature. If Wal-Mart dictates your reading choices, I’d hate to think what it does to your diet.

3:00-3:31 – Opens package with King James Bible to “inspect it.”

…Did you just ask your daughter to open a package in a store? That’s stealing, isn’t it? Well, it’s against the evil Satanic store selling vampire novels, so it’s okay, right? You couldn’t put the camera down for five seconds and do it yourself? You had to teach your daughter it was okay to tamper with products that aren’t yours?


MINECRAFT IS EVIL by *TomPreston on deviantART

4:10-4:14 – He quotes a Bible verse instructing the faithful to “put down” those who worship differently.

And this is the scary part of the video. It’s righteous to “put down” those who worship differently?

People wonder why Christians get such a bad rep. If I may quote the poet Marilyn Manson, “I never really hated a one true god, but the god of the people that I hated.”

You’re going out there and advocating book burning, killing those who believe in things you don’t, showing your daughter that it’s okay to steal and hate those who are different, and you think Wal-Mart offers the only choices when it comes to your reading list.

Well, I hope those kids learn to become productive members of society despite your lessons. You’re a paranoid fundamentalist who probably votes based on what the little voice in your head tells you. You most likely think Fox is too liberal and you own six types of guns on the off-chance someone tries to correct you.

Liberals and free-thinkers are “target practice” where you live, aren’t they?

And once more, in case I didn’t make myself clear…

You’re an asshole.

And now, a look at a real conservative for America.

Crimes of Conscience

Hey, you! You're making me question my beliefs! Stop it!

April 27, 2011

It was bound to happen.

The Right Wing has officially jumped into Orwellian territory. Remember that plot point in 1984 wherein the Party would use phrases like “Freedom is Slavery” and “War is Peace”? The idea was that having the population believe two mutually exclusive ideas would create such a dissonance that more mundane lies would be much more easily accepted. It is the willingness to believe something that cannot be true by its very nature that would make the population easier to control.

Behold the American Conservative Movement.

The Heritage Foundation is pushing for something called “conscience rights.” In essence, they claim that things like abortion and gay rights are assaults on freedom.

Think about that for a second. When the blood stops shooting out of your nose, keep reading.


. Cognitive Dissonance . by *DigitalBaptism on deviantART

The argument goes something like this. Say you believe that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God. By making same-sex marriage legal and otherwise embracing the homosexual community as normal members of society with the same rights and freedoms as everyone else, the government is encroaching on your moral fiber by making something you believe is a sin acceptable.

I’m really hoping you see where this plan falls apart.

They want to push to make things illegal because they are against their own morality, a morality that is quite clearly based on religious belief. But they’re not phrasing it like that. They’re phrasing it to somehow mean that we, as a collective, are outraged.

So… in order to protect speech, religion, and the right to love each other, you must take those rights away from others who believe, say, and love what you will not. After all, having worked with gays and having lived next door to one for three years clearly affected my ability to be attracted to women.


Love has no Limits by =MyLastBlkRose on deviantART

Okay, I‘m being snippy. The specific example they go for is that if a doctor against abortion is asked to perform one, he will have to comply. This is clearly an assault on his morality, right?

Well, if he didn’t want to deal with this, he shouldn’t have made choices to put himself in this position.

So, if I am offended that Republicans are against gay rights, immigrants, and a woman’s right to choose, can I deny to help students at TAMIU who identify themselves as Republicans and write papers on conservative opinions? I’d be helping the ideological opposition spread its message, and I just couldn’t live with that.

Without actually claiming and admitting that this course of action is about fundamentalist Christian morality trying to weasel its way into our legal system, they’ve set themselves up for failure. A small part of me wants for this to get taken up just so the Right sees the whole thing blow up in its face like liberal-hearted claymore.

A claymore filled with progressivism!


Explosion are Always Fun by ~GreenApples109 on deviantART

Hey, look! Links!

  • Cupcake-flavored vodka? I predict scores of sorority girls chucking this stuff, then puking their intestines out at parties in the very near future.
  • If you live in Tennessee, you will no longer be able to say “gay.” More specifically, schools won’t be able to address homosexual issues. Way to go, Tennessee. It’s not like gay teens were already marginalized, right?
  • And speaking of awesome things that don’t have anything to do with this, a new photo of Spiderman’s new costume (with battle damage) for the reboot film was released. The best part, we can now confirm the mechanical web-shooters are real. Even though it’s not the exact costume from the comics, I really like it.
  • And finally, Alessandra Torresani and some more geeks star in this wonderfully tongue-in-cheek video, “Tonight I’m Frakking You.” Can you name every character, reference, and actor by the end? Don’t think so. Anyway, enjoy the slave Leia outfit, female Ghostbusters, and in-jokes out the butt. See you Friday!

Why I Drew Mohammed

An Islamic terrorist is a Muslim much like a Klansman is a Christian. Everyone onboard with this?

May 24, 2010

Everyone Draw Mohammed Day drew international attention this week. The event’s author has received death threats and Pakistan actually blocked Facebook, YouTube, and other sites over the incident. In South Africa, the Mail & Guardian received death threats after Zapiro, one of their cartoonists, drew this image. As for me? I drew this:

xkcd has better art quality than this.

I’ve been called out on it by several people now, all with the preconception that I did so as an attack on Islam. I’ve been called an academic snob. An elitist intellectual who thinks he has all the answers. I’ve been accused of being insensitive to what it feels like to be marginalized. If it was an exercise on free speech that drew anti-Semitic images, I would never have participated, but I went after Islamic radicals because they are easy targets, easy to hate.

I’m calling “crap” on all counts.

First of all, this is not an attack on Islam. The people who make death threats against anyone violating the tenets of a faith happen to be Muslims and they base this particular grievance on hadith, supplemental traditions, not the Qu’ran itself.

If Christians said I could not take the Lord’s name in vain or I would be shot, would I be correct in calling them out for their religious fanaticism, or would you say I was being insensitive and attacking Christianity? If you want to be part of a free society in which anyone is free to satire, comment, critique, and otherwise express him or herself, you have to accept that, at some point, someone will say something you don’t like.


Freedom of Religion v. 2 by ~Klasterr on deviantART

Guess what? You have the right to disagree and tell others to get intimate with a well-endowed horse. You do not, however, have the right to use threats of violence against something you find offensive. We lost people a few years ago because of this, and now that we’ve started self-censoring, even if it was over something as stupid as a South Park episode, I’m not going to stay silent.

I’ve been told that this takes us away from rational debate, and while I’m all for sitting down and exchanging pleasantries with someone over any topic, drawing Mohammed as part of this movement was not, at least for me, part of any debate. It was a protest, a flare fired into the air. It was designed to show that I will not be intimidated by radicals and I stand alongside artists who wish to exercise their freedom.

Now that it’s over, I’d like to talk.


free speech is hate speech by ~Satansgoalie on deviantART

You see, we all have the right to believe and say what we want. The free exchange of ideas and information is the foundation for modern science, academia, and one of the driving forces behind the evolution of art. I have the right to my opinion, but coercion is not part of that deal. You don’t get to say whatever you want, espouse a belief, then demand that others remain silent because their beliefs offend you.

You want free speech? Everyone else gets it. Otherwise, it’s not free speech.

While moderate Muslims may cringe at a depiction of the Prophet, they must admit that it is a freedom. If we censor ourselves based on what religions we offend, we would not be able to do anything. Freedom of expression and freedom of speech do not mean we are free from insults and blasphemy. It means we can go after those insults and falsehoods and whatever else comes our way with words. And it means I do not have to fear a reprisal for saying what I believe.

One of the more convincing arguments regarding Everyone Draw Mohammed Day is that depicting the Prophet is as insulting to Muslims as the n-word is to blacks or Holocaust denial is to Jews. Drawing Mohammed in protest, then, is insensitive.

Can I have pork if it offends a rabbi? Should I support my gay friends if a pastor tells me homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God? Can I eat hot dogs on Friday and piss off three major faiths at once? Should I judge all my actions on faiths that are not my own just on the off-chance they will offend someone? As I understand it, the commandment that states images of the Prophet should not be made states that BELIEVERS should not make said images. I am not a believer and, therefore, not subject to these rules.

And that’s the key behind this protest. I am not bound by the rules of Islam any more than they are bound by the rules and tenets of Texas A&M International University, my employer. A hasidic Jew has no obligation to pay respect to Christmas celebrations. An atheist has no obligation to not touch the flesh of a dead pig. A Christian has no obligation to not draw an image of Mohammed.

There is, I know, such a thing as respect. When I enter a synagogue, I wear a yarmulke. If we’re going to have company over and I know one of them is Hindu, I won’t cook beef. These are actions done out of respect.


Calm Islam by =issam-zerr on deviantART

I do not respect someone who prays for the death of free speech. The Mohammed these radicals look to is not the Mohammed of peaceful Muslims any more than the Jesus of the Westborough Baptist Church is the Jesus of Mother Theresa.

And may I add that, despite all these death threats, not a single person was harmed because of Draw Mohammed Day. Threatened, yes, but not harmed. Could it be that these threats are just piss and bile and nothing substantial will come of them? Do these radicals tarnish their faith and their god by going after the weak and powerless and have finally shown themselves for the cowards that they are? I hope so.

Actions speak louder than words. The radicals can chant for death all they want and some of the moderates may remain silent, but I’ve shown you what I think of religion infringing on the rights of people, let alone the rights of people who have no obligation whatsoever to follow that particular religious law.

If you want to play in the arena of free thought and expression, grow a pair and accept the good with the bad.

If you want to discuss the topic in general, there’s a category in the forum right here. Feel free to start any topics you’d like.

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.