Policing the Tennessee Interwebs

June 10, 2011

Texas and Arizona have been neck to neck in a fight to both dumb down and destroy the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Now, Tennessee has thrown its hat into the ring, and we are in for a great fight, folks.

The state just passed a law that would make it illegal to distribute images that might “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone. Let that sink in for a moment. Any image that is may disturb someone is now illegal. This includes a fine and jail time.

Can you hear the First Amendment dying like Lohan’s career?

This is an update to a current law to makes it illegal to contact someone with the intent of causing emotional harm. Most of you can already see the problem with the logic of the update.

What constitutes a disturbing image to you? Me? I watch a lot of scary movies. Many of them contain gore. Blood and monsters and rusty things in flesh may be gory, but I don’t classify them as emotionally disturbing. How about this?


Bed by *Hoffine on deviantART

Too tame? Maybe, but I have a friend who has a son who is afraid of a duck sock puppet. Putting an image of THAT on the internet is now illegal.

Of course, you could make the argument that law probably means that purposefully transmitting images to a particular person with the intent of causing emotional harm is the punishable offense, not just posing an image ANYONE could find disturbing. That makes a little more sense, but then the question becomes this…

How do you enforce that? How do you figure out intent or police THE INTERNET?

I mean, there are some really sick people out there. Look at this:


Reunited -seriously scary 3 by ~steelgohst on deviantART

And it being Tennessee, I’m going to assume that what they find disturbing is anything that might offend the Right Wing base. See, laws like this are usually passed by people who cannot handle either something that contradicts their point of view or wish to silence the opposition. It’s very Middle East, you know.

If a Christian wishes to never see any demonic images or anything non-Christian, do we prosecute people who display heavy metal covers? Could a radical Muslim ask that images of American military action be taken down because they offend him? Could I, if I moved to Tennessee, ask that no one circulate any images of Glenn Beck since they remind me of the awful damage he has done to this country?

My guess would be “no.”

They might find an image like this intimidating…


Gay Rights by =digitalgrace on deviantART

…But the rest of us would just see something to root for.

The whole “free choice” thing is really the spanner in the works here. And, if you think about, it’s a law that keeps people from being offended. There’s such a thing as libel and death threats which have actual repercussions in the real world, but if you’re not mature enough to see an image and either look away, debate someone over its merit in a battle of wits, or otherwise engage the thing in front of you in any way shape or form, and if your last recourse is asking Big Brother to take the image down for you, you have one of two problems.

You are either so incompetent you cannot operate a web browser, or you have the emotional maturity of a five-year old.

You can’t possibly be a non-tech savvy five-year old. Those don’t exist anymore.


the slender man by ~Kreatur-im-Spiegel on deviantART

Now let’s cleanse that gore and blood with some good ol’ fashioned links. They’re good for ya!

  • I have not watched The Human Centipede, nor do I have any desire to view it at any point in my life. However, the teaser for the sequel does something really smart. It takes all the controversy from the first (the gore, the body horror, and the false claim of medical accuracy) and turns it into a spot that would have made 1950’s horror directors proud. I remember the trailer for Psycho had Hitchcock walking through the Bates residence. Not that I think Human Centipede 2 will be anywhere near Hitchcock’s level, but the trailer’s a nice throwback.
  • In the last gasps of air for Beck’s show, Becky Boy is throwing everything out. He’s warning against the coming Progressive-led Apocalypse and urging his viewers to be like the city of Joplin and not accept any FEMA aid so the government sees we can take care of ourselves… Except Joplin DID accept FEMA aid. It’s like Beck’s not even trying with his lies any more.
  • This… this is perhaps the greatest story of the week. Amidst all the crap going on, I couldn’t stop laughing at this story. it’s a victory for the American people, a victory against banks that think they can take whatever they want, and a true example of poetic justice. See you Monday, kids!

Gay Bomb OR Why Republicans Love Genocide

Just keep believing the narrative... just keep believing the narrative... just keep believing the narrative...

January 5, 2011

Are you gay? Bisexual? Thinking of changing teams after a drunken New Year’s night? Guess what? Republicans think you’re a bigger threat to this country than nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists.

And no, that’s not hyperbole.

And if you don’t know what hyperbole means, here’s the link.

Last month, our government had to work to pass the START Treaty, a nice little piece of legislation from the Reagan era. You know President Reagan, right? He’s the patron saint of the GOP. They invoke him like a level one wizard uses magic missile. The treaty states that both Russia and America will lower their nuclear stockpiles and we will get to go to Russia and make sure their nuclear programs are working properly. This way, Jihad Bob doesn’t get his hands on a nuke and before we know it, Baltimore’s a dust cloud.


Physics Remain by *mrgraphicsguy on deviantART

And guess what? Republicans would rather have a major American city turned into a sea of glow-in-the-dark glass than have dudes who want to marry dudes serve our country.

They held up ratification of the START Treaty, a treaty that would prevent nuclear war, because they didn’t want to pass the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. That’s right. They held one branch of government hostage and held a nuclear gun to the world’s head because the thought of gays in the military repulsed them.

Oh, they paraded out the usual excuses. John “War Hero” McCain went off on people who claimed that discrimination hurt the military. Over at Fox, they’ve done a real bang-up job of likening the repeal of DADT to some sort of Apocalyptic herald. And yes, I capitalized “Apocalyptic” because I think they really think this means we’re going to have oceans of blood soon.

Don’t believe me?

So there you go. I already hold nothing but contempt for the Republican Party. They are a bunch of knuckle-dragging backbirths. No sympathy from me. They were willing to put the nuclear safety of this country, perhaps the world, on the line just so gays could not openly serve in the military. They also did this to try and keep the Democrats from scoring political points like this was some giant game of Battleship.

I have no love for the Dems, but I have utter hate for Republicans.

They put out a ton of heavily questionable reasons to ban gays from the military, but since they’ve all been exposed to be phony posturing, we’re left with one conclusion.


At the End of All Things by ~L-nay on deviantART

Republicans hate gays more than death itself. They would rather we get a few kilotons shoved up our butt than have gays serve our country and risk their lives. They would rather risk decades of deformity and nuclear fallout than risk openly gay men and women bolster our flagging recruitment numbers. They would rather that the population and infrastructure of an American city be destroyed in a ball of plutonium-fueled fire than have gays defend the Constitution Republicans themselves hold so dear.

The GOP has done some atrocious things in the past for the sake of political points, all hoping to just not let the Democrats do anything. This though, and the obligatory backlash to repeal the repeal, show the true face of the Grand Old Party.

Homophobes and bigots. If you’re a Republican, you have no business talking about compassion, common sense, and inclusion. And if you’re gay, bisexual, or transgendered, remember this. The Republicans believe you are more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

Nothing but unhinged contempt is required here.


No Homophobia by ~Lexee90 on deviantART

And now, to clean the taste of Republican exposure out of your brain, here are the links!

  • Would you like your next sexual innuendo to be REALLY cool? Here’s a chart! Likewise, if you want to last longer with your significant other and you have a penchant for the scientific and philosophical, here’s a guide.
  • It looks like the cartels in Mexico are calling a month-long truce. I’m pretty sure this is a trap of some sort, but let’s see how it plays out.
  • Look, I’ve made no secret of my hatred for bad writing that gets put up like it’s some new standard to achieve… and I’ve worked hard at what I do… which makes it that much more infuriating when Snooki of all people gets a book deal just because she was on a show where she and a bunch of other D-bags made a whole state look bad. And it looks like she’s giving the great American writers a run for their money. And it saddens me that the sarcasm in the last sentence doesn’t translate well through text.
  • And speaking of the genetic landfill that is Jersey Shore, the Situation also has a book out. This has to be the greatest review ever.
  • And finally, here’s a video that made even ME smile. The happiest penguin ever. Take care, don’t forget to share the link, and I’ll see you Friday.

War on Christmas Salvo 3: O’Reilly Killed Baby Jesus

Only one will survive! Start placing your bets!

December 20, 2010

UPDATE! Looks like Bill-O got a lot of flak from a lot of people and he responded. Check it out and my response back to him.

If you’re going to shove Christmas down the collective throats of the American public, at least have the decency to get the religion right.

For some years now, Bill O’Reilly has been waging a war against those who would wage war against Christianity and especially Christmas. He rails against anyone who says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Christmas, as we all know, is the Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, who set up the first Christmas tree and forever tied America’s economy to Santa’s ass.

Look, I have my problems with Christmas, and most Christians realize, or I hope they realize, that Christmas as it is celebrated today is an amalgamation of various religious practices, many of which can be traced to pagan faiths. That’s fine. If you want to celebrate Christmas with Santa, Charlie Brown, and a Christmas goose, that’s your choice. If you want to celebrate with tamales, posadas, and a separate, sibling holiday to await the Three Wise Men, have at it.


A Mexican Christmas by ~TheDarkRoom-Photo on deviantART

However, do not betray the spirit of the holiday, the core event you claim to hold so dear, by dumping your bile-filled eggnog on Baby Jesus.

Bill, if you’re reading this, you made Baby Jesus cry. And he’s going to shove a nativity scene up your Tea Bagging backside.

If you believe Christmas is a time for charity and brotherhood, then you probably subscribe to the belief that Jesus was an extraordinary man who changed the world and his teachings and examples are something to emulate.

Apparently, Bill, though you call yourself a Christian, you’ve probably never read the Bible in any detail because, and I’m guessing here, the words were too big for you.

Let me back up for a moment, Bill. You wrote an article where you claimed, and I’m quoting:

Every fair-minded person should support government safety nets for people who need assistance through no fault of their own. But guys like McDermott don’t make distinctions like that. For them, the baby Jesus wants us to “provide” no matter what the circumstance. Being a Christian, I know that while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Does he not?

No, Bill. See, I can’t claim to have actually read the whole Bible. I’ve read the Books of Moses, a fair amount of the Gospels, and most of Revelations. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it was Herod in the library with the candlestick. I can, however, use a search engine to look through the Bible much quicker than I can read it, and I can tell you right now that the phrase “God helps those who cannot help themselves” is nowhere in the Bible.

And no, I don’t mean just the specific phrase. The sentiment itself is not even in the Bible. If I may go old school Biblical for a moment, sort of Sinners in the Hands on an Angry God old school, you Bill, are headed to the hot place if your religion is correct. You’ve corrupted the Holy Scriptures.

Romans 5:6: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

Proverbs 28:26: He who trusts in himself is a fool…

Isaiah 25:4: You have been a refuge for the poor,/ a refuge for the needy in his distress,/ a shelter from the storm/ and a shade from the heat./ For the breath of the ruthless/ is like a storm driving against a wall.

And what about the helping the sick and healing the lame? I’m sure this sort of health care would scare the crap out of you and your ilk. How dare Jesus of Nazareth just hand out healing to anyone who needed it at no cost? That communist bastard!


Jesus Era Comunista by ~malinhion on deviantART

But your biggest sin, Bill, the one that cannot be excused, is your absolute ignorance, or is it stupidity, at one of the most fundamental aspects of Christianity.

Jesus wasn’t self-destructive? Bill, the man allowed himself to be killed, tortured in some of the most brutal ways imaginable, to save humanity when, according to that Bible you claim to hold so dear, we were helpless to do anything about it. We were born with sin and were unredeemable by our own works according to Romans 3:23.

In fact, Jesus didn’t even want to do it. He was sacrificed by God. He had to be strengthened by an angel, had to pray until he sweat blood, and then he went to his appointed fate. Self-destructive? He died, a small price to pay for an immortal, but the point between the arrest and death would have been torturous for anyone.

So this Christmas season, Bill, as you sit in your home surrounded by the wealth you’ve amassed by lying and attacking those who genuinely want to make this world a better place, I hope you are visited by the ghost of Christmas past. I hope you see the happiness in Whoville. I hope you realize that Christians aren’t being persecuted and that all of these so-called attacks are either fabrications of your senile mind or exaggerations.

Happy Holidays, Bill O’Reilly.

Oh, I’m sorry. That was rude.

Feliz Navidad, Jaime O’Reilly.


christmas love by =SeraphicTragedy on deviantART

And now, on to the links!

  • As many of you probably know, I’m an avid Dungeons and Dragons player. I’ve gotten some weird questions from my group, and people who just want to know about the game, but these questions have to be the strangest I’ve ever read.
  • There’s a new iPhone app that lets you instantly translate text. This is useful if you’re in a foreign country and need quick help. It will also, I’m sure, wreak havoc with ESL classes since students will now rely on their phones to do the work for them, and some of the translations aren’t spot-on with the app, either.
  • Have you noticed those cool Facebook hacks where people place their pictures in such a way as to create a window effect on their profiles? Here’s how you can do it, and if you’re really lazy, here’s the REALLY quick way.
  • And finally, for all the nerds out there, hot girls wearing Batman clothing. Not bat-suits. Clothes with Batman themes. Enjoy, and I’ll see you back here on Wednesday!

“Homo” is a Four-Letter Word

We're falling behind in a war of words.

September 15, 2010

In the latest war on freedom and the right to live your life as you see fit, our enemies have a new weapon at their disposal.

Vocabulary and labeling technology.

This insidious, nay, diabolic tool has taken a single word and turned it into a derogatory term so vile I almost shudder at having to write it. It is a word so offensive it would make a Klansman recoil. It would easily get me slapped with an FCC fine if I said it on television.

This word, dear reader, is “homosexual.”


straight guy for gay rights by ~beanpatrol on deviantART

…Wait what?

Yes, it seems that the word “homosexual” is now derogatory. This is news to me. A few days ago, Ana of The Young Turks published a very pro-gay couple article. It received some flak from the gay community, or at least some of Ana’s readers, since it referred to gay men and women as “homosexuals.” This prompted a segment on The Young Turks.

Basically, since conservatives use the term “homosexual” in a bad light, it’s apparently gotten a negative connotation. I guess it does sound cold, scientific, and some people got really mad at Ana for it. In particular, one response on the article was from a gay man who said he was offended The Young Turks would dismiss his concerns as craziness.

Well, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to call that reader, and anyone else who thinks “homosexual” is a negative term, an idiot. If you’re offended by a scientific term describing a sexual orientation, you should be equally offended by bisexual and heterosexual. “Homosexual” is a purely descriptive term that is often said with either revulsion or hate by many far-right wingers and fundamentalists.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bad word.

Remember when words like “liberal” and “progressive” got a similar treatment. Right now, Beck has turned the word “progressive,” which means “favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things the way they are, esp. in political matters” into a term for bad people. If you’re progressive, you’re against everything that regular, red-blooded Americans love! Oh noes!

Nothing in that definition about socialism, communism, or killing grandma by taking away her feeding tube, and yet now people are afraid of being branded “progressive.” Some people, like me, take the term to heart and believe its definition is the only thing that matters, not that some yahoo thinks it’s bad. I don’t care what they think. I know what it means to me. That’s enough.


Philosophy by ~sanitynvrfoundme on deviantART

Likewise, even if the term “homosexual” is getting a bad connotation, that only means you’re offended by it if you’re offended by homosexuality in general.

Yes, I’m serious. Think of it this way. Why are so many people offended by the mosque near Ground Zero. Not ON Ground Zero. NEAR Ground Zero. It’s because they’re offended by Muslims. I’ve said it before. The same thing applies here. If you think a purely scientific description for a sexual orientation is offensive, it’s because you think the state of being it describes is offensive to you.

And what does that mean? You don’t like gays.

There are a lot of terms that are honestly offensive. I could list them, but I’m actually going to refrain because I haven’t the time or the energy. You know the terms for gays. So do I. Every group has its racial slurs, but the technical or neutral definitions of these groups are not insults and are not offensive.

The fact is that almost any term can turn into a negative if it’s used as such. However, we’re at a critical moment. The word “homosexual” as a slur hasn’t been established yet. It’s possible to salvage this by keeping it as a purely descriptive term. I don’t intend to use it any other way.

And really, do we need ANOTHER slur for minorities?


This is me by ~SmellyMarkers on deviantART

Well, now that we have all that out of the way, let’s see some fun stuff.

  • If you’re ever caught with child pornography, don’t tell the cops your cat did it. It clearly didn’t work for this guy. Or, as my girlfriend joked, “Maybe the cat wanted to find ‘kitty’ porn and misspelled it.'”
  • If you’re on the internet, you’ve probably heard of Christina Hendricks’, uhm, ample bosoms. Yes, they have a loyal fan following, but an equally large group of people willing to look through hundreds of photos to see if these breasts are hand-crafted by God or silicone. The debate goes on…
  • This is fairly NSFW, but if you want to see some highlights of this year’s National Topless Day, go right ahead.
  • And finally, see the VERY wrong way to go about running a business. A business that sells candy to kids. Penis-shaped candy. From a white van.

Divine by Zero: Porn by Numbers and the Scariest Summer EVAR!

June 5, 2010

It’s once again time for Divine by Zero! A lot has happened in the last few days, but I do want to clue you in to some things that will be going on this summer.

I work as a writing tutor, and TAMIU’s English department has one assignment every year that brings me pause. Freshmen must write review essays on a movie and, without fail, a sizable percentage of the young women will write on Twilight or the latest Twilight movie. I take my job seriously and I wish I could help them, but without knowledge of the plot, I can’t tell them if their reviews are written correctly or if they’re contradicting themselves.

And so, with much hesitation… I will sit and watch these movies so I may be better at my job come September.

keifer sutherland
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Let me be clear here. I do this for two reasons.

One: The reviews will come in. Oh yes they will. It’s like the Leonids. You can time it.

Two: I know the plot to these books and movies, I know the characters, and I utterly loathe them. The excerpts I’ve seen make me weep for the English language. And if I’m going to continue to explain to people why these movies are a waste of DVD’s and not have them call me ignorant for never having seen them… I will do it. I will watch them. Just to tell them I watched them.

I’m scared.

Well, onward to link-land!

  • Anyone want to buy Bruce Willis vodka? Out of every celebrity I can think of, I can’t picture Willis even drinking vodka.

  • Guillermo del Toro, as some have heard, will not be directing The Hobbit. I really wanted him to do it, but io9 has a wonderful article on why this is a good thing. Can’t say I share their fears, but it does provide some comfort.
  • Lobbyists in Texas are signing up in throves to get concealed gun licenses. Why? Beefed-up security at the state capitol means longer lines as tourists are searched before entering the building. However, if you have a concealed gun license, you can bypass that line and just enter. Does anyone else see a HUGE problem with this? People with guns are allowed to walk into a federal building. And yes, you can carry just the license OR the license and gun.
  • Online MBA did some digging and found out just how much the world loves its porn. Check it out:

The Stats on Internet Pornography
Via: Online MBA

  • Advertising already bombards us with images and sounds, and there’s only so much they can do to make us buy their products… so how about a billboard that sells and SMELLS like steak?
  • Rue McLanahan passed away a few days ago, and that means we’re down to one Golden Girl. I really like the show, ever since my mom was watching it years ago and I stopped long enough to hear these ladies banter like pros. In memoriam, here are some quotes from the character that gave half the senior citizens in this country dreams of Viagra.
  • All those energy drinks out just met their Bizarro world counterparts: anti-energy drinks. Though their sales are a fraction of the energy drink market, these concoctions with names like iChill and RelaxZenm are raising eyebrows at the FDA. One drink, Drank, contains 20 times the body’s natural melatonin, a hormone.
  • Someone has captured the pure emotion of the internet. If you have three weeks to kill with pointless clicking, head over to MOST AWESOMEST THING EVER. You get two things, such as naps and Jell-O, and must decide which is more awesome. Your vote adds a point to that item. Battles are random and the current most awesomest things according to the internet are Life, the Internet, Oxygen, and Music. Make your mark!
  • If you’re in the mood to read some really stupid things, take a few minutes to look through Fundies Say the Darnest Things, a collection of the most stupid, transparently racist, and downright idiotic forum posts I’ve ever seen. You’ll feel as if you’re five times smarter just by reading what these idiots think passes for reality. For example:

Quote# 34539

What’s going to happen when humans are successful [with human cloning]. Will cloned humans have spirits? If they don’t, could demons enter them? With no human spirit to contend with in a genetically perfect body, what havoc could these beings wreak on the world? And how would they be stopped?

Quote# 42943

What about fruits and vegetables? Did they just pop into existence on their own as well because the “god of evolution” knew that we would need? nutricious foods to eat?

Quote# 1450

I forgot you assume a lack of an answer [is] not knowing.

  • And finally, to usher in the weekend, here’s “Money” by Pink Floyd performed by 8-bit sounds. Enjoy!

Divine by Zero: Birthday Bras, High School Werewolves, and Army Brownies

Welcome once again to Divine by Zero, the only place where you can hear an anarchic liberal with a weird accent ramble about the crazy things in life. A few things came my way these past few days, and I have to give full blame for one of them to Stephenie Meyer.

  • First and foremost, happy birthday to the bra. Yesterday, the bra celebrated 100 years. Ladies, raise a toast for this wonderful piece of underwear. And gentlemen, also raise a toast to this wonderful piece of underwear.

  • The army released the recipe for brownies it uses to make these tasty treats for the troops… and it’s 26 pages long. Apparently, if you follow the directions exactly, you can make brownies that last for years. Anyone want to try this and comment below to tell us how they taste?
  • Science Daily released a report that states that exposure to certain bacteria can actually make you smarter. Specifically, exposure to something called mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria found in soil, can boost learning ability. I don’t buy this report at all. How can you explain nerds’ increased brain-power? We RARELY go outside! Sunlight burns.
  • And once again my state proves it’s on a crazy race with Arizona. In San Antonio, police arrested a man who had decals on his car that marked him part of the sheriff’s department in Baxar County but in the nation of the Republic of Texas. Police are charging the man with false identification, not impersonating a police officer. Why not charge him with the latter? Because doing so would mean that Texas officially recognizes the existence of the Republic of Texas, a make-believe country some die-hard conservatives here believe is the rightful nation in these parts. They don’t believe the “official” state laws apply to them and so just pretend they’re citizens of this Republic. It’d be like investigating Fox News for improper journalism. That would imply they actually do journalism.
  • We don’t hear a lot of good stories about the oil spill in the Gulf, but an 11-year-old in New York named Olivia Bouler has raised thousands of dollars by selling her drawings. There’s even a Facebook page about it. This is great because it shows the impact a single person can make on something as massive as this, but it also upsets me that a little girl’s drawings of birds have more fans on Facebook than I do… I somehow feel my manhood has been threatened… She must be stopped.
  • Speaking of funny/ horrifying things having to do with the spill, did you know the government employees in charge of inspecting the drilling were watching porn, drinking, and doing meth? Oh, and they were taking bribes, were childhood friends of the people who owned the rigs, and very likely have to kill puppies to reach climax.
  • Speaking of children, two brain trusts decided to give their baby Pop Rocks. How did it go? Well… just watch. This kid looks like he just walked in on his parents making him a little brother when the candy pops or something.

  • Republicans, meet the internet. We’re crazy. House Republicans set up a website a few days ago called America Speaking Out. The goal was to have everyday Americans suggest the course for policy so they wouldn’t feel like the Republicans were ignoring reality. Unfortunately, when you ask the internet for advice, you get advice like this.

“End Child Labor Laws […] We coddle children too much. They need to spend their youth in the factories.”

“How about if Congress actually do thier job and VET or Usurper in Chief, Obama is NOT a Natural Born Citizen in any way […] That fake so called birth certificate is useless.”

“A ‘teacher’ told my child in class that dolphins were mammals and not fish! And the same thing about whales! We need TRADITIONAL VALUES in all areas of education. If it swims in the water, it is a FISH. Period! End of Story.”

“English is are official langauge. Anybody who ain’t speak it the RIGHT way should kicked out.”

  • And finally… I know Stephanie Meyers is behind this. Somehow. A new trend in San Antonio schools is for kids to identify themselves as “werewolves.” I’m not making this up. They wear collars and identify with wolves. You HAVE to see this video to believe I am not just making things up.

That’s it for today. Stay tuned tomorrow, because some idiots on Facebook are launching “Everybody Draw the Holocaust Day” in response to “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” I wish I could say I didn’t have to explain why this is wrong… but I do.

Link and share, please.

Radio Gaga

Think Freddie Mercury will haunt me for using this title?

March 19, 2010

I don’t like Lady Gaga. Don’t really like her music. What I have heard and seen of her smacks of the kind of “entertainment” that does nothing but flash pretty colors across the screen or play something repetitive over the speakers.

And yet, for this article, none of that matters, because a fellow artist, Miss Gaga herself, is being attacked for art. I will not let this stand.

Cue dramatic music.

Sandy Rios is the president of Culture Campaign, a conservative Illinois-based group whose purpose, according to the official website, is “To engage Christians in actively living out and declaring biblical truth in a secular, humanistic American culture.”

Anyone else find it funny that they didn’t capitalize “biblical”?

She went on Fox and railed against Lady Gaga’s new video, “Telephone,” and called it poison. The clip has a lot of shotgun points calling on everything from fear of sexual predators, a disgust of the video’s homosexual overtones, nudity, sex, and a concern for the welfare of the innocence of children who might watch it.

Someone invoked the innocence of children in a discussion regarding artistic censorship? Well paint me red and call me Eleanor!

Sandy goes off in seven different directions, some of them non-Eucledian, so let’s break down some of her more fervent claims.

“This time, we have to speculate on whether or not she has a male member or not, and whether it’s been cut off or not […] and then we’ve got Beyoncé and Gaga… gay lesbian lovers? I mean, it’s disgusting!”

This one’s actually two separate arguments: hermaphrodites and homosexuals are disgusting.

Sure. Let’s ignore that hermaphrodites are a naturally occurring group. Some people, however, choose to undergo sex-change surgeries because they don’t feel as though their bodies are representative of their gender. And gender, unlike what Texas school books will now teach, is different from sex. Either way, the only disgusting thing Rios seems to find is the discussion of genitals. Just hear her voice as she talks about the rumor that Lady Gaga is actually a transgender woman.

The rumor started some time ago, but the only instance of it in the video is one of the guards talking right after they strip her and mentioning that, well, she really didn’t have a penis.

And do I even need to get into why discussion of homosexuals is NOT a disgusting topic? Rios’ entire argument at this point is that mere knowledge of these things is something that will harm society. Even if she were right, even if the knowledge of homosexuals and hermaphrodites did do something to society’s collective brain that turned the world into some Mad Max-inspired wasteland, the knowledge of such things still has value. They exist, and therefore must be acknowledged.

But they’re not dangerous. Knowledge is never dangerous. Only the application of knowledge can bring harm. Which brings us to this…

“This is poison for the minds of our kids, and for our minds for that matter.”

“Poison” implies that it is harmful in on itself. What is harmful about seeing this video? Granted, I don’t like it, I was actually a bit bored, and I can’t find any correlation between the lyrics and the storyline in this ten-minute video. It’s fluff.

marvin the martian and daffy duck
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But it brings understanding on some level. This is popular with a large demographic. Someone with a scientific mind would, therefore, have more data to use to bring about understanding of popular culture. It sounds geeky, but that’s what it is. It’s data. It’s only poison if there is a direct effect between watching the video and something harmful happening.

If I inhale cyanide, it’s going to kill my cells and cause permanent damage to some very vital organs. If I go to the McDonalds’ drive-through and get into a car accident, I’m not going to claim that cheeseburgers cause automotive death.

“I don’t know if Madonna ever did a video where […] she feigned to have a male member and they feigned perhaps cutting it off […] It’s the kind of thing we shouldn’t even be discussing, much less thinking about from my perspective.”

Oh Sandy… Just because you don’t want to think about it, doesn’t mean it’s going to go away. I know it works for all the other problems in your life like annoying friends and children, but Lady Gaga’s on all the televisions and radios.

Okay, that was really snippy. Keep this one in mind, though, because while the statement above is really, really stupid, it’s going to get downright mental in a bit.

sauron
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“Our world is filled with sexual predators […] I don’t know if you know this, Megan, but they’ve done surveys to find out the men who do these kinds of things to these young girls, something like 85% of them, are involved in some sort of porn. So you may not watch it, your kinds may not watch it, but I’m telling you the man next door who’s a sexual predator probably does watch it.”

Know what else most sexual predators watch? The news. Most of them have driver’s licenses, too. I’m also sure many of them were breast-fed. Statistically, most serial killers are white men. We should ban white men that have driver’s licenses, were breast-fed, and watch the news so we can spare the world of more sexual assault.

Sorry ladies, Johnny Depp has to go. Sandy Rios said so.

Johnny Depp
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A connection between two pieces of data is not evidence of a corollary. I’m fairly certain the data Rios mentioned is accurate. Most sexual predators probably do look at pornography, but did the pornography cause them to become sexual predators?

To put it another way, how many people watch porn?

So… how many sexual predators do we have in this country? I’m going to assume it’s much, much, MUCH lower than the number of people who actually watch pornography. It’s the same for people who think rap lyrics need to be censored because the music promotes violence. The evidence? Violent people listen to it, so the music must cause it.

Could it be, perhaps, that the music has an appeal to, among other groups, people with a propensity for violence much like pornography has an appeal to people obsessed with sexual acts?

Yeah. I also go to the bathroom when I wake up in the morning. Think sleeping causes me to take a leak?

jack nicholson
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“Some things are illegal. Pornography in certain forms is illegal […] Not everything is lawful.”

Rios is referring to a comment made about this exhibit.

She is right about one thing. There are certain limits on what we will or won’t allow. Child pornography is banned, and for good reason. The people involved, children without an understanding of what they are being asked to do, have no say in the act. They are actually harmed by this, which is different from other forms of pornography in which all parties are explicitly aware of what is being asked of them.

But pornography is still legal.

It’s also the reason we don’t video tape rape. Or allow rape. Sex is legal. Forced sex is illegal. Oddly enough, selling sex is also illegal, but that’s another article. The point is that it’s a matter of choice. No one was forced to perform in this video. No one is forced to watch it. And everything that was done was legal. Except for the mass murder at the end.

I still don’t get what that was all about, but I’m positive everyone walked off the set.

Psst! They’re not really dead, Sandy.


lady gaga by *chemcial23 on deviantART

“When I travel in other cultures, teenagers in many cultures still have retained that innocence of youth. Not so here. Our kids have these wooden stares. Kids are into being cool. There’s nothing they haven’t seen. It’s like we have raped them of their innocence and the joy of youth and childhood. I think we can do better than that.”

She shoots, she scores!

What, may I ask, is the joy of youth and childhood? Is it running around? Being fed information on a need-to-know basis? Not having any responsibility while also not having any power over your own choices? Please, Jedi Master Sandy. Enlighten me.


no voice for the children by *Miss-Deathwish on deviantART

I’ll tell you. The joy of youth and childhood is exploration and learning. Kids learn by playing. It’s one of the tactics educators use to make learning more accessible. We’ll play games with the kids. Sometimes they won’t know they’re learning. Learning new concepts, applying them, basically, EDUCATION is the joy of childhood.

Our kids have that blank stare because we don’t encourage that. Either that, or, if they’re kids you’ve been watching, Sandy, it’s probably because they can look right through your crap and are wondering how someone so award-winningly stupid made it this far in life without accidentally killing herself with a toothbrush.

“You cannot hide it, trash it, put it in a new drawer, turn off the TV at every point, but you have to learn to teach your kids to make judgments at every point.”

Sometimes I wonder if the people I write about know the kind of ammunition they give me and everyone else who works to elevate art and crush censorship and hypocrisy.

Let’s summarize. We need to ban videos and images like “Telephone,” but we need to instruct our children on what to do by sitting down with them, watching this content, and teaching them how to make the proper choices in life.

I know, I know. She could be arguing that this is a necessary step only because music videos and images like this exist. Still, even if she is, she’s essentially setting forth a plan of action to make sure children are informed about content like this should parents not want their children exposed to things like this.

She’s making my argument for me!

What a jerk!

lady gaga and eminem
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Why do I even write more than this? If there’s a way to shield kids by teaching them your twisted world-view, Sandy, and if said world-view is going to deter them from watching this kind of stuff later in life or liking it, why ban it?

I think she’s just a lazy parent. There, I said it.

I don’t like Gaga. I think she’s all show. While there are artists who were dressing like this years ago who do have an understanding of art, Gaga does what she does because it’s a show. That’s it. There’s nothing deeper than what I saw in the video. If you find something, if her music and videos bring you a measure of joy, by all means, keep watching and listening. If it brings that bit of good into your life, it’s doing something positive. It’s not for me, though.

I just don’t think someone watches a Lady Gaga video and thinks, “You know, that ‘rape’ thing sounds interesting. Think I’ll try it.”

Apples and Another Euphemism

We're all naked under our clothes. Think about it.

WARNING: The following post is Not Safe for Work. View at your discretion.

March 1, 2010

Our brains control the most basic responses and needs in our nature: feeding, fighting, fleeing, and mating. The last one, other than the “fighting” response, makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Be fruitful and multiply! Wave your freak flag high! Drop it like it’s hot! Sex is supposedly like mp3’s. For every idiot paying for it, hundreds are getting it for free. It’s everywhere from advertisements to movies and music.

Recently, Apple deleted almost 5,000 apps from the iPhone store. These included programs that had everything from semi-dressed women cleaning your iPhone screen to women you could undress. There was no real pattern to the deletions since, for example, Sports Illustrated and Playboy kept their programs. The haphazard way in which Apple cut through the apps made me wonder about how many people think about sex and pornography, since this was the original justification in many people’s minds. According to Apple, they were responding to customer complaints about the sexual nature of many apps and how children could see them if they had an iPhone.

Oh, the children. Is there anything they can’t ruin for everyone?

As a society, we’ve long debated the merits of sex and erotica in art and popular culture in things like Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” and the various pseudo-sexualized Disney acts from the Jonas Brothers to Miley Cyrus. Lindsey Vonn’s recent Sports Illustrated cover had many calling out foul since they believed it sexualized her, but sex sells. That’s the bottom line.

Art has always had a deep connection with human emotions, and sex is one of the most basic. We know this because the same part of the brain that controls the fight or flight response also controls sexual desire. People have no trouble with images of war, but why is a hint of sex or nudity a bad thing for many? Many of these apps are designed to do one thing and one thing only. Killing Nazis.

No, wait, scratch that. These apps are designed to titillate and arouse. That’s it. I can’t speak for all 5,000 apps, but the line between legitimate art, application, and the smut some feel is present in the iPhone is a very thin one. The distinction art has long had to grapple with is the difference between pornography and erotica.

Porn is usually classified as the depiction of explicit or sexual acts for the purpose of sexual excitement. Erotica is the depiction of sexually-stimulating or arousing images and content.

Wow. I’ll take “Troublesome Overlap” for 300, Alex.

funny graphs and charts
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By this definition, cheerleaders at high school football games shaking their assets would count as porn. A woman wouldn’t shake her body like that for someone unless she wanted people to observe and desire her body. The only difference is that the cheerleaders aren’t looking for sex.

At least not in any official capacity as representatives of their schools. What they do in their spare time is another matter.

Likewise, porn doesn’t have to be based on human physically. If someone had a balloon fetish, THIS could be considered erotica or porn:

In other words, anything that stimulates sexual thoughts can be easily classified as porn, and using sexuality to promote art in any way, shape, or form is bad, right? We can’t use sex, because sex is a dirty, filthy act you should only perform with one person you truly care about. I’m sure Apple did this with the best intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell. As a writer and artist, I’d say that the difference between pornography and erotica is artistic merit, but then you get into a debate on the definition of art. It’s one of those things that’s easier to show than actually explain.

Let’s look at a recent example from pop culture. At the 2010 Grammy Awards, Pink put on the following performance. Watch it and ask yourself if this is a case of selling sex and titillation or if it’s art.

A nearly naked woman showing off her toned body with acrobatics while dripping wet and performing a love song… Porn? It’s certainly personal and in your face. If we analyzed it like we would a piece of art, though, I’d say the stripping of the gown at the beginning is symbolic of opening yourself to someone else, that by essentially appearing naked, Pink not only exposed her performance, but her body, to scrutiny. She stripped off the gown at the line, “Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?” The water was a visual element for the song’s title, and the way the light caught the drops while they fell onto the audience created that effect of glitter in the air.

There weren’t any actions that could be taken as representative of any sexual act, and artists can appreciate the human body without instantly thinking of sex. The first time I drew a nude model for a class in college, it was late in the year and we’d become professionals in our own right. A body, like a word, is a tool for creating strong emotion.

How about *this* image?


come undone again by =mastertouch on deviantART

Certainly physical. Pornographic? That depends. Are we looking at its intent? Is it art because it’s nicely shot and isn’t about sex itself, but uses sexual imagery to convey a point?

What about this?


Weight of the World by ~ThePrincessPixie on deviantART

Naked bodies, emotion, but what makes these art and differentiates them from the kind of thing you usually have to provide a credit card number for on the internet? What makes these photographs art and the iBoobs… not.

Is it the juvenile “Bewbs!” response that separates smut from art? Again, that’s based on a personal response and not anything concrete. The iBoobs was one of the apps deleted from the store, and yet the above DeviantArt images are not only more graphic, they are of real people, real models, who use their bodies to make a living. The other is a digital effect of how a programmer imagines breasts move.

And right there we hit the first major speed bump.

One person’s smut is another person’s tease. Trying to regulate sexuality is a bit like nailing herded cats to a smoking wall. Or something. I think I just mixed three metaphors, but it doesn’t matter. Any time someone tries to object to content because it’s sexual, it’s not only easy, but expected you’ll find a gray area. While there are a few things most people, not all, could classify as art and classify as pornography, these extremes are difficult to pin down, too. Even if you do find the extremes at either end and decide on what is acceptable, it’s all still a matter of opinion.

I understand that people may feel objectification is harmful to women. Whether or not they’re right isn’t important for this discussion.

It is.

The point of this whole iPhone article is that most people will always have a concept of pornography, erotica, and sex that is either puritanical or non-existent. It’s one or the other. Were some of the apps in poor, even childish, taste? Sure. Should they be deleted because they are offensive? First, you’d have to define offensive and somehow justify Michelangelo’s “David” so we don’t have to tear it down. Then, make sure everyone believes sex and the human form are both inherently dirty and everyone has the same threshold for stimulation.

When you do that, for your next trick, I want you to teach Jar Jar proper English and fly under your own power.

By the way, if you want to view art, real art featuring the human form, check out the artist below.


LETS GO VIRAL by =mastertouch on deviantART