Pamela Geller is this nice Muslin lady who runs an anti-Islam organization with its very own website and everything. She likes to warn us real Americans about the Mohammedans when they’re about to do something illegal, like whistle a call to prayer at a stoplight. There’s always some new and exciting way to be afraid of those Moslems.
With Thanksgiving coming, Geller has spent the past week or so wondering what the best way to connect her McCarthyite crusade to the holiday, like most of us have. And that’s how she discovered that your Thanksgiving turkey is really a Trojan Horse which has been brainwashed by the Prophet Mohammed. Check it:
Did you know that the turkey you’re going to enjoy on Thanksgiving Day this Thursday is probably halal? If it’s a Butterball turkey, then it certainly is — whether you like it or not.
Whether you like it or not, people! You cannot change your dead turkey’s religion just by wishing for a postmortem conversion really, really hard! That is unless you’re a Mormon, in which case you can have a weird pagan ceremony where you baptize your dead turkey along with a few Nazi war criminals for good measure. Anyway, this is a shock to Geller’s audience, who probably also believes in The Secret, Atlantis, energy independence, and extended warrantees too.
So why is Geller the only one very concerned about the Muslim turkeys? Sure, maybe it’s not the most important thing in the world. It’s probably only the fourth most important thing in the world. Geller laments how she seems to be the only one freaking out over this:
Where are the PETA clowns and the ridiculous celebs who pose naked on giant billboards for PETA and “animal rights”? They would rather see people die of cancer or AIDS than see animals used in drug testing, but torturous and painful Islamic slaughter is OK.
Yes, where is PETA? See, this is what separates a level-headed rational person like Pamela Geller from those ridiculous celebs and clowns, of which she certainly isn’t one at all, no, no sir. Why doesn’t PETA have an entire section of their website devoted to the cruelty of this halal slaughter practice including an article titled “The Cruelty Behind Muslim Ritual Slaughter” which anyone with two brain cells to rub against each other and a fraction of a second and Google could find? We may never know.
Haunted Abortion Cemetery? The BEAST Investigates
There are lots of stories of haunted places here in Western New York. Surprisingly, most of them are places with prices of admission: haunted theaters, haunted hotels, haunted gift shops, haunted pet stores, haunted haunted houses, haunted toll booths, and that sort of thing.
Being the poverty-stricken proletariat that we are, we decided to investigate a supposedly haunted place which is open to the public. So we went to Goodleberg Cemetery in Wales, NY, to investigate the local legend of fetal ghosts terrifying the populace by leaving tiny handprints on the windows of cars.
Here are the results of our investigation. Enjoy and Happy Halloween.
I kinda forgot about this blog until some obsessed fan reminded me of it. So if one of the tens of people who read this regularly still haven’t given up on it, please do keep it in your subscriptions or whatever. I’m going to try to keep it updated with BEAST stuff and more, but no promises. A few things from the past month or two to follow…
How I Won The War On Terror For America By Adopting A Dog (You’re Welcome)
I don’t want to be one of those internet writers who write about their pets and do “Sundog” blog posts, but there’s a pretty weird story which needs to be told about how I got her. This is my new friend Darwin:
Even though Darwin sounds more like a name for guys, she’s a mixed beagle so I thought it was appropriate. Sometimes I call her a muggle.
Anyway, I got this dog from a lady who works with my sister. She was dog-sitting her for a friend of her’s who went to Afghanistan. Apparently he isn’t in the military and didn’t go to work for a contractor. He just decided to go to Afghanistan. And now he’s decided he’s not coming back, so this friend of my sister wanted to get rid of this dog since she already has two others.
I told this story to a friend. “You mean your dog is, like, the American Taliban?”
“I guess so,” I responded. “So now I have to show her that Our Way Of Life is superior.”
She likes to lie down facing East several times a day. She has a “bed” which looks suspiciously like one of those prayer rugs they have in mosques. She doesn’t like to eat fruit, presumably on the grounds that such decadent Western blueberries are surely diverting praise from the One True God Allah and His Prophet Mohammed. And the fact that her previous owners named her Bella – that’s her slave name – makes me suspect even more that she must have been a terrorist of some type in her past. Sometime in the past year or so, I guess.
On the other hand, she’s been adjusting well to living in a secular home. She’s thwarted numerous attempts on my life so far, mostly from the UPS guy or the neighbors’ dogs. She’s eaten those imitation bacon treats which I’m pretty sure have some pork in them, even though the Koran explicitly forbids it. She’s even tried to edit some of the blasphemous, progressive stuff I’ve been writing lately, although I have to reject most of her ideas. Especially “=-,” which she pitches each time she jumps up on my chair.
Anyway, that’s what I’m doing to fight the War on Terror: adopting a extremist Muslim dog and helping her appreciate secular Western culture and values. And now with one less mujahideen beagle mutt, al Qaeda is surely defeated.
Ron Paul fans should be careful about what they wish for.
Last week on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart did a segment on how the media’s been conspicuously avoiding coverage of the Quixotic Presidential campaign of Ron Paul. His supporters loved it, probably hoping that more coverage of Paul would mean more people getting on board with his campaign. But more coverage means more coverage of his crazier positions too, and there are a lot of them. During the 2008 Republican candidates’ “debates” (they’re kind of like debates in that people in suits stand at lecterns), the candidates were asked to raise their hands if they believed in evolution. Most of the candidates did so, including Ron Paul. Then John McCain said something goofy about how he helped Jesus dig the Grand Canyon, or something like that. Shortly afterwards, a video showed up on the internet of Paul telling a much smaller, conservative Christian audience that he doesn’t believe in evolution.
“I, um, I think there, that it’s a theory. The theory of evolution. And I don’t accept it. You know, as a theory. I think the creator that, that I know, uh, you know, created us, every one of us, created the Universe. And the precise time and manner and uh, and all. I just don’t think we’re at the point where anybody has absolute truth on either side.” -Ron Paul
So we’ve got two possible ways of reconciling these contradictory positions: Either Paul is an evolution denying creationist and he lies to the much larger national audience, or he accepts what we know about how we came to exist and lies to smaller groups of ideologically skewered constituents when he thinks nobody will notice. Neither of those possibilities make him look good, especially since he’s been trying to earn this label of consistency in his campaigns. And that’s not even the extent of Paul’s weird Christianity. In 2003, he wrote a pretty terrible essay called The War on Religion for his friend Lew Rockwell. Rockwell’s another supposed “libertarian” who’s worked closely with Paul for decades. But anyway, this essay just reiterates Bill O’Reilly’s War on Christmas screeds, but with even less literary skill. Check this out:
As we celebrate another Yuletide season, it’s hard not to notice that Christmas in America simply doesn’t feel the same anymore.
If you read it, you’ll find Paul loves him some passive tense. It makes attacking your perceived enemies so much easier when you don’t have to actually identify them. Literacy problems aside, Paul doesn’t even seem to have a basic grasp of the Constitution he claims to hold in such esteem. He moans and bitches about the “anti-religious elites” who want to “transform America into a completely secular nation,” as if America wasn’t a secular nation from the very beginning. Apparently Paul believes America’s founders just forgot to mention that America is a Christian nation anywhere in the Constitution, which is weird since he claims to respect them so much. But here’s my favorite part of his whinefest:
Most noticeably, however, the once commonplace refrain of “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by the vague, ubiquitous “Happy Holidays.” But what holiday? Is Christmas some kind of secret, a word that cannot be uttered in public?
This is the kind of lack of self-awareness you get in true religious zealots. I doubt it even needs to be said, but if not saying Christmas means that it’s a secret which can’t be uttered in public, then the same must be true of all other religious holidays at that time of year. A Jew could just as easily claim that saying either Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays is driving Hanukkah underground. But Paul is incapable of looking at this “War on Christmas” nonsense from any perspective (let alone a Jewish one) other than his own narrow one.
Paul’s often described as Liberterian. There’s a tiny bit of truth to that, since his policies certainly lean that way. But Paul has been a Republican since at least 1992. He ran for President on the Liberterian ticket in 1988, and since then he’s been working in politics as a Republican. In ’92, Paul endorsed and advised the campaign of the racist Nazi sympathizer Pat Buchanan, who went on to lose the nomination for the Republican Party to George H. W. Bush.
Besides being “liberterian,” the other sales pitch for Ron Paul For President, Inc. has been that although he’s extremely conservative on fiscal issues, he’s socially liberal. He wants to legalize pot, for instance. But when it comes down to it, he sticks to the (Republican) party line on culture war issues. If you check out his voting record, you’ll see his votes against allowing adoption for gay couples in Washington, DC, against same-sex marriage, against taxpayer funding for abortions, and for displaying the Ten Commandments in government offices and courthouses. So much for his being “not a typical Republican.”
Some of those votes go back a few years, so it’s probably also worth noting that Paul’s still hammering away at culture war issues on behalf of his fellow Republicans. He’s even just recently tried to portray his advocacy of government restrictions on abortion as if it were on liberterian grounds:
“There is something that precedes liberty, and that is life,” Paul said. “If we are to defend liberty … you have to understand where that liberty, and where that life comes from. It does not come from the government, it comes from our creator.”
Paul recalled somewhat graphic stories from his time as an obstetrics-gynecology resident to explain his opposition to abortion rights.
There he goes again with all this “creator” talk, while at the same time saying that abortion should be illegal. And for some reason his supporters will keep on claiming that he’s not like those other Republicans, oh no, not at all.
There are some ways in which Ron Paul is different from the rest, but those are mostly issues where he out-flanks his colleagues on the right. So while your Republican neighbor next door wants to reduce regulations and “cut some red tape,” Paul wants to just eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, and many more. While your average Republican might agree with Rick Perry’s crazy idea to just stop the printing of paper currency, Ron Paul would like to go back to the Gold Standard.
Speaking of the Gold Standard, it’s possibly revealing to go back and look at the arguments made for it when it was an issue – back when Dr. Paul was 728 years young. It turns out that there was a heavy emphasis on what they called “natural law.” That doesn’t mean the laws of physics. They had some strange ideas back then about natural hierarchies of elements, and it turns out that people with a lot of gold discovered that gold was at the top of that hierarchy. Nice coincidence, huh? They drew an analogy to a supposed natural hierarchy among humans with (surprise, surprise!) white males on top.
Ron Paul, seen here forced by the government to work with a black guy to save the Federal Reserve.
So in this way they argued that changing to paper money would be a horrible tragedy which would upset both this hierarchy of elements as well as the patriarchy, both of which were backed up by this “natural law.” It’s the worst of the worst of hippy nonsense – all the mindless worship of nature and the naturalistic fallacy without any of the socially enlightened impulses against sexism and racism.
Paul also had some race issues when someone working on one of his newsletters wrote some terribly racist stuff on his behalf. To be fair, that staffer was eventually fired. And if it were just a matter of just that instance, or if it were just his weird views on gold and “natural law,” or if it were just an early 90s gig with Pat Buchanan, or if it were just the fact that his supporters are overwhelmingly white, any one of those could be overlooked. But when you consider each of them, you start to get a very different picture of who Ron Paul is and what he’s all about. That should make most of his supporters uncomfortable, but that’s what they asked for when they wanted more coverage of him.
It’s silly to believe they’re aliens… They’re clearly part of a Nazi/Communist alliance’s propaganda campaign!
If I were to write a BEAST editorial about how journalists these days are being too offensive to people of faith and spirituality, everyone who read it would rightfully think of me as a huge hypocrite. Or maybe they’d think I’d suffered some kind of brain injury. When you’ve written about faith issues in the way I have, you kind of forfeit your right to complain about people doing the same
Similarly, if you write a book about Roswell and then promote it largely based on the final chapter which invents one of the most out-there conspiracy theories ever, you forfeit your right to complain about loony conspiracy theories. At least you should.
Apparently the NY Daily News doesn’t think so. Last Sunday they featured a mostly reasonable column by Annie Jacobsen about how America has become what she calls a conspiratocracy. It gives a crash course in the history of American conspiracy theories, and speculates as to why they’ve spread so rapidly recently.
There isn’t much with which to disagree in her piece, aside from that the subject she’s writing about is much too wide for a 450 word column. All of the conspiracy theories she mentions are definitely silly and deserving of increased mockery. But it’s definitely odd that Jacobsen would choose this as a topic given her recent past.
A few months ago, Jacobsen released a book about Area 51, the secretive military base which UFO believers claim is the headquarters of the government’s secret research on extraterrestrials and flying saucers. I have not read her book, but I did pay attention to how she promoted it, as authors do, in the media. Here she is on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but probably the most in-depth interview I heard was on NPR’s program Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I’ll get to that in a minute.
From what I’ve heard, most of the book is in the same vein as the NY Daily News column, rightfully debunking loony conspiracy theories about Area 51. But when you get to the last chapter, she introduces a bizarre conspiracy theory of her own to explain the 1947 Roswell incident which many believe to be a case of an alien spacecraft crashing in the New Mexico desert which was then quickly hushed up by the government. Here’s how she explained it to Terry Gross:
“The child-sized aviators in this craft [that crashed in New Mexico] were the result of a Soviet human experimentation program, and they had been made to look like aliens a la Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, and it was a warning shot over President Truman’s bow, so to speak. In 1947, when this would have originally happened, the Soviets did not yet have the nuclear bomb, and Stalin and Truman were locked in horns with one another, and Stalin couldn’t compete in nuclear weaponry yet, but he certainly could compete in the world of black propaganda — and that was his aim, according to my source. …
“What is firsthand information is that he worked with these bodies [of the pilots] and he was an eyewitness to the horror of seeing them and working with them. Where they actually came from is obviously the subject of debate. But if you look at the timeline with Josef Mengele, he left Auschwitz in January of 1945 and disappeared for a while, and the suggestion by the source is that Mengele had already cut his losses with the Third Reich at that point and was working with Stalin.”
So let’s count how many layers of absurdity we have here. The Soviets collaborated with the notorious Nazi Josef Mengele (1) in order to scare Americans by sending a flying saucer (2) across most of the continental US without detection until it crashed (3), presumably because it was piloted by mutated children disguised as aliens (4). And all of this is substantiated solely by one anonymous source speaking about something which allegedly happened over 60 years ago (5-infinity).
In that same interview, Jacobsen speculates that Mengele’s “child-sized aviators” were the subject of either surgical or genetic mutation. So the latter option would mean that Mengele rounded up people with odd genes in order to selectively breed them specifically for this program to be launched decades in the future in collaboration with the Russians. He must have had pretty amazing foresight in order to predict such an unlikely partnership.
Obviously this is all pretty ridiculous. If you have really low standards of evidence then it’s pretty easy to get away with this kind of “reporting” – all you have to do is find an old man far enough gone to make some kooky claims about having worked on this or that secret government project a lifetime ago, and you’ve got yourself a story. Make it the last chapter of your book and you’ll get on all the talk shows and sell lots of copies. It’s probably not a coincidence that “Con artist authors making up bullshit” doesn’t appear anywhere in Jacobsen’s explanation for why America’s become so obsessed with bullshit conspiracy theories lately. But it probably should be.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
Melissa Harris-Perry, seen here being incredibly full of shit.
I like Rachel Maddow’s show. It’s one of the few I can stand on MSNBC. Sure, she slips into the “Defend the President and Party At All Costs” mode from time to time, but it’s nowhere near as egregious as some of her fellow hosts on the network. Also, her head is not a ginormous wonder to all surviving phrenologists, which is another plus.
Last week Maddow was on “vacation.” This might be true, or it might be that she was preparing her legal defense against a bullshit defamation lawsuit against her from heavy metal rock star / Christian minister Bradlee Dean. Melissa Harris-Perry filled in for Maddow.
Last Friday, she recorded an un-aired segment about the proper role of faith in politics. Harris-Perry believes that such a thing exists. It’s one of those editorials which tries to get at a ‘big picture’ perspective but somehow still fails to say anything useful about anything, making us all stupider in the process.
She introduces the segment with a fair enough, albeit obvious point: That while we’re all learning about this right-wing Christian terrorist in Oslo who just killed nearly 100 innocent people, the US Congress is holding these hearings on the radicalization of Muslims taken straight out of The Crucible. She claims that the demonization of Muslims here in the States is “as much guided by prejudice as it is by evidence.” That sounds about right. Seems obvious enough. What else is obvious to most of us would be that it’s a bad thing to let policy be guided equally by evidence and whatever fills the void left by the lack thereof – in this case, prejudice.
“I saw Goody Proctor with the Prophet Mohammed!”
But then things take a turn. Suddenly, Harris-Perry orders the audience to ignore any kind of faith-inspired political violence:
“Let’s not talk about fanaticism. Let’s not talk about violence. Let’s just talk about religion in the political world and the ways it’s been divisive.”
And we’re not talking about fanaticism and violence because… why exactly? Fanaticism and violence are ways in which religion’s impact on the political world have been divisive, to put it extremely mildly. So why not talk about it? In whose interests does it serve to just ignore violent religious fanatics? Definitely not those of us who’s rather they not be inspired by their stupid beliefs to do stupid things, like fly planes into buildings or shoot up a camp full of teenagers. She continues:
“In this moment, it often seems that the connection between religion and politics happens exclusively on the right.”
She then lists some examples of conservatives “using religion” in order to advance their agenda: the anti-gay, anti-woman, and anti-science policies so popular with the right these days (n.b. apparently all of those positions are “not fanatical,” according to the host here, since she earlier decreed that we shouldn’t talk about fanaticism). This should be a PR bonanza for us progressives. We could be using this perception of faith-based politics being a mostly conservative phenomenon to point out that it’s the right who are the ones disconnected from reality and with their heads in the clouds.
I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the first to say that.
But Harris-Perry makes it clear that she doesn’t have much of a problem with that disconnect. Her only problem with it is that the conservatives have their heads in the wrong clouds. Instead of just laughing at those religious conservatives who base their politics on goofy beliefs which aren’t supported by evidence, Harris-Perry tries to convince us that the real problem is that most people don’t recognize that believing in nonsense is something liberals should be adamant and proud about as well:
“We do not need to give up faith… The faith ‘tool’ I want us to retain is the one that gives us strength in the face of daunting circumstances. I understand the appeal of reason. But if we look exclusively at the evidence in the world, it’s a pretty bleak place.”
Harris-Perry then goes on to relate some sad facts about the world, but she forgot the part where she demonstrates that we can’t be inspired by the real world and the empirical evidence in order to change those sad facts. Looking at what’s called the cold hard truth can actually get people off their asses, but having faith just pacifies us and makes us comfortable waiting around for someone else to fix our problems.
And though I obviously agree with her in that the disparity between rich and poor is a bad thing, others might not see it that way. Others might look at the advances made by civil rights and science and become depressed, thinking the world is a “bleak place” because of them. Using Harris-Perry logic, they’d be perfectly justified in ignoring the empirical evidence (for example, that there can be more genetic differences between two people of the same race than between two people of different races) and rely on their faith.
Or we could go back to Bradlee Dean and his bullshit defamation suit against Rachel Maddow and MSNBC. If Dean only looks at the empirical evidence, it looks like his lawsuit is transparently ridiculous and doesn’t have a chance at succeeding in an American court. This makes Bradlee Dean sad. The world looks like a bleak place to him. His circumstances are daunting. So he should apparently rely on his faith to give him the strength he needs to carry on with his frivolous lawsuit.
That’s the big problem with having a place for faith in politics. It’s all way too subjective since there’s no epistemological basis we can all agree upon. And since we can’t even agree on the difference between what we believe because it’s true and what we believe because it feels good, any distinction between what is and is not “fanatical” is going to end up being totally arbitrary. Harris-Perry already proved this earlier in the segment by supposedly suspending discussion of the fanatical and then proceeding to immediately talk about conservative religious fanaticism.
Harris-Perry’s brought up this sort of thing before, and for some reason she’s being praised to high Mormon heaven for it (that’s a cheap jab by me, since her mother’s side of her family was Mormon). So it’s important for rational people to fight back against this glorification of faith, because if we don’t then the only opposition will be coming from other faith positions and our political discourse will degrade to the point where the idea of basing our arguments on reality instead of what makes us feel good will just be a distant memory.
Warren Jeffs, alleged child-fucker and leader/prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints takes time off from his trial to roll out his new advice column here at The BEAST.
Dear Warren Jeffs:
My beautiful wife Jennifer and I just had our first child. It’s been an amazing experience so far, but it’s also had a much bigger effect on our day-to-day life than we expected. Our biggest challenge has been to get a good night’s sleep! She wakes us up constantly, several times throughout the night. And one time when it was my turn to run over to her room to make sure all was well at 3 AM, she was laughing at me when I got there. At least, I suspected that the crying had turned to laughter. Maybe it’s my lack of sleep. Anyway, is my baby being an asshole? And if so, is there anything I can do to change her?
Fatigued in Fallujah
I’m so relieved you wrote to me in time! You’re probably forgetting an important part of the child-rearing process: Waterboard your baby until it stops crying. The next time your asshole of a baby wakes you up, walk over to its crib as you normally would. But the twist is that instead of giving it a bottle of milk or changing its diaper, grab it by an ankle and haul it out to the kitchen. Turn on the faucet – try to keep it close to room temperature, as you would a bottle – and hold its face directly under the faucet. The crying should stop fairly quickly!
Your wife Jennifer, whom I trust is no older than 15, is probably not the best person to do this. Teenage girls might feel uncomfortable or ‘evil’ waterboarding their babies. If this is the case, make a note to start marrying and/or having affairs with teenage girls who are a little more tough-minded. It will pay off in the long run.
Dear Warren Jeffs:
I’m a 17 year old high school senior in Arkansas, and last weekend I was out driving around with my hooligan friends when we were pulled over by the police! Apparently, I missed a stop sign and was going 15 mph over the speed limit. I wasn’t taken “downtown” as they say. Instead, the officer gave me a ticket and told me to appear in traffic court in another 3 weeks. My friends keep telling me to not worry about it and that I’ll probably just have to pay a $100 fine or something since it’s my first offense. But I’m worried! I don’t want to go to prison. I’ll never make it inside. I’ll die before they take me away! What should I do, Warren Jeffs?
Shitting My Pants in Pine Bluff
Dear Shitting My Pants:
Your friends are morons. Here’s what you’re going to want to do: Hire the most expensive lawyers you can find. Obviously, the government is out to get you and destroy your religious freedom because Obama is a socialist. So you’ll need adequate legal defense to make your case. Then, fire them and act as your own lawyer. That’ll really mess with the prosecution’s heads!
It turns out this is not quite enough to get the prosecution to drop all charges against you, so what I’d recommend doing next would be to say absolutely nothing during the trial except, “I continue to reject these continued proceedings.” And say it in a tone which implies that it’s completely ridiculous for any court in the land to act as if it were an authority over yourself. If you lack that kind of confidence, you’ll just have to ‘fake it ’til you make it,’ as they say.
If the so-called authorities for some reason continue to persecute you for practicing your religion (or speeding or whatever), then it may be time to start pretending to be a prophet. This is what I actually did for a living, so it may take some practice for you. Start off by interrupting the judge and threatening everyone involved in the case against you with “sickness and death.” At this point, the judge will probably yell at you for making threats, but the easy way out is to pin the threats on Jesus or God or something, claiming that you were just “relaying the message.” Good luck!
Dear Warren Jeffs:
Recently there has been a string of burglaries in my neighborhood. My neighbors across the street had their TV stolen, and a little old lady three doors down lost all of the gear she stores in her garage for her third-wave ska/punk band. I’m worried I may be next! This makes me nervous since everyone in the neighborhood knows about my priceless collection of mint condition Star Wars action figures. What can I do to deal with the stress and the voices which come along with it?
Panicked in Paris
It sounds like it’s time for you to beef up your home security! What I like to do is to buy a fortified compound in the middle of fucking nowhere, Texas. You’ll be wanting one with an underground vault with thick steel doors. Reinforce the steel doors with about a foot of solid concrete. This will delay the police or robbers when they’re trying to break through it with a jackhammer. Now for the final touch, you should keep meticulous records of all the people who are under your control, say, the closest 10,000 folks or so. This you’ll want to keep away from your monetary funds so you can use it as blackmail against whoever’s trying to rob or investigate you for raping kids.
Do you have a question for Warren Jeffs? So does Judge Barbara Walthier, who’s presiding over his sexual assault trial! What a coincidence.
“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”
The high school board of education for the city of Republic, Missouri last week voted unanimously (4-0) to ban Kurt Vonnegut’s classic antiwar novel Slaughterhouse-Five from the school’s library. The board was responding to public complaints by one Wesley Scroggins, who was outraged that the city would use his tax dollars to store books which teach “principles contrary to the Bible” for children to read.
Wesley Scroggins, seen here taking some time off from
goose-stepping to the local book burning for a publicity photo
Scroggins is right about one thing. Slaughterhouse-Five, like pretty much every other work of modern literature, does teach principles contrary to the Bible. The Bible tells us we should be happy to smash babies against rocks during war with our enemies (Psalms 137:9). Vonnegut’s novel teaches the opposite; that such acts of senseless slaughter dehumanize us all, even the ones who are doing the smashing. This moral lesson is stated pretty explicitly in Chapter 8:
“There are no characters in this story and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters.”
Vonnegut, seen here relaxing after a long day
of smashing babies against rocks.
Another problem Scroggins has with Slaughterhouse-Five is that it has lots of cursing in it. In an op-ed for the Springfield News-Leader which has apparently since been taken down from the internets, Scoggins says the book “contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame.” We should remember that we’re talking about a high school library here, not all public school libraries. Nobody’s teaching any of Vonnegut’s racier passages to 8-year-olds. And no competent high school English teacher is going to teach them devoid of any context.
If a student assigned to read Slaughterhouse-Five comes away from the class learning that this limerick from the book encompasses what Vonnegut was saying:
“In my prison cell I sit,/ With my britches full of shit,/ And my balls are bouncing gently on the floor./ And I see the bloody snag/ When she bit me in the bag./ Oh I’ll never fuck a Polack any more.”
… Then the student failed, and the teacher failed the student. If you teach literature that way, then you suck as a teacher and should find another line of work. That’s where the blame lies, not on the book itself.
Figure 1.1: An incompetent teacher
Besides, this guy who is so concerned about “Biblical principles” can’t be seriously offended by this. Here are just a few passages from the Bible just off the top of my head which are also so profane that “it would make a sailor blush with shame,” to borrow a phrase from Scroggins:
“Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.”
Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.
For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
–1 Timothy 2:12
We’ve also got a guy sacrificing his daughter for God in exchange for good luck in (what else?) war, some incestuous date rape, and countless other atrocities celebrated as good for the sole reason that it pleases this God character. I propose that the sum total of profanity contained in the Bible easily exceeds the same in Slaughterhouse-Five.
But unlike Scroggins, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that even a book as morally inept as the Bible should be banned from high school libraries and English teachers’ curriculum. Like Vonnegut’s work, it is an important part of the canon of Western literature. If a student graduates from high school without at least a little understanding of the Bible as literature – vulgar passages and all – then the teachers and administrators of that student’s school failed to do their jobs in giving them an adequate education.
And there’s just one more thing. I saved this for last. Wesley Scroggins does indeed have children, but they don’t even attend the public school he’s attacking. He home-schools his children. Apparently he can give his own kids an education which is consistent with “Biblical principles,” but that’s not quite good enough for him. He would like more power, please, and apparently the cowardly school board is willing to oblige, embarrassing themselves and their city in the process.
A BEAST Reader Opinion
Mario, seen here shaking his fist at the
injustice in the case of Amanda Knox
Bonjourno! I’m a-Mario and I’m an Italian-Americano and I do-a the plumbing! But today I’m-a here to tell you about how I’m ashamed of my-a country’s criminal justice system, specifically in the small town of a-Perugia. Perhaps we discuss it over a nice-a pizza pie! Mario knows just the right-a place!
Have a seat-a, Mario’s just going to the bathroom real quick.
So this American girl Amanda Knox-a, she was studying abroad in-a Italy. She got a place-a to live. She got a boyfriend. Goin’ to-a the school. Tryin’ to-a overcome her social awkwardness with-a the studying abroad in my-a country.
For a more-a detailed description of-a the story, you read-a this article in the American Rolling Stone magazine. Mario will-a give you the abbreviated version, much-a like how you can skip-a from World 1-2 to 4-1 by-a using the moving platforms to jump-a to the top of the level.
Amanda Knox, she come a-home from a night at her boyfriend’s. It looks-a like she’s been robbed. She afraid the a-robbers still be there. She panics and finds the first police she-a can. They are the postal police. They are incompetento. They find-a Knox’s roomate, Meredith Kercher, she-a dead. The postal police, they-a probably contaminate the DNA evidence and point the prosecutor/official in charge of the investigation (Same-a person! Makes-a no sense! Inevitably will lead-a to a conflict of interestino!), Giuliano Mignini, in a bad direction.
Mignini, he a small time prosecutor, escaping much scrutiny due to-a his geographically small jurisprudence. And like-a the Satanic Panic/’recovered memories’ craze in-a the 1980s America, he a-sees supernatural, satanic influences everywhere. The criminal justice system is-a no place for a guy like-a him. But what-a you gonna do about it? He’s a made guy.
The prosecution, they-a have no motive. No evidence outside of trace DNA which was-a sloppily collected. Much of their case relies on Knox’s reaction to the-a murder. She kissed-a her boyfriend at one point! And then she do-a the cartwheel and yoga. This-a is what they say reveals her guilt. That’s-a what passes for evidence in a murder trial in my-a country! It make-a Mario more sad than those Americano douches on-a the Jersey Shore television!
The prosecution, they-a take advantage of Knox’s overly trusting nature and her elementary understanding of the-a language to “help her remember” what they-a said happen. She unknowingly signs-a the confession, which is when she-a finally learned she was even a suspect in her-a roommate’s murder!
Meanwhile, an alleged petty thief / informant to the polizia named Rudy Guede, he-a leave the country as soon as the investigation began. He was amicos with the boys who lived downstairs from Knox. He was-a later convicted along with Knox and her-a boyfriend of the murder after having a-changed his story multiple times. The DNA evidence, it-a leads to a version of-a the murder in-a which Guede acted alone. Nathaniel Rich in the-a Rolling Stone USA America article I-a linked to above lays out this version of events-a:
Guede stakes out the cottage after dark. He breaks into the girls’ apartment and makes himself comfortable. He swigs orange juice from a carton he finds in the refrigerator — he had a spicy kebab for dinner — and then uses the bathroom. While he’s on the can, Kercher enters the apartment, locking the door behind her. Guede is trapped. He can’t exit through the window without alerting Kercher, and he can’t use the front door, because you need a key to open the lock from the inside. (Kercher’s keys would be stolen, along with cash, credit cards and phones.) Guede rises from the toilet without flushing, so as not to make a noise. He walks to Kercher’s bedroom. Perhaps he tries to explain himself — “Sorry, the door was open, I let myself in, I’m a friend of Giacomo’s downstairs” — or perhaps she starts screaming before he can speak. He grabs her by the mouth (there were bruises on Kercher’s face) and threatens her with the knife. He assaults her and, realizing that Kercher can identify him, he panics and kills her.
This story has-a many benefits over the prosecution’s. For one, it-a has a motive. The prosecution, they-a say no motive is necessary. Also, it doesn’t involve believing in Satanic influences. If you discount the trace DNA samples, which the forensics experts all say is-a more useless in court than my little brother Luigi is at fixing a running toilet, then it accounts for all-a the facts we know for-a sure in the-a simplest way. That makes it far more-a likely according to Occam’s Razor.
And what makes this-a all much worse is how the system of criminal justice here is-a incapable of a-saying that it has made-a a mistake. They wave-a the hands, and not just in the way we all do when we-a talk-a. The appeals process, it’s-a face-saving mechanism for an incompetent bureaucracy. It looks-a like they want to simply reduce Knox’s sentence instead of admit they were wrong. And the polizia, now they-a attack the forensics experts United States for discrediting their lousy so-a-called evidence.
So-a sad! Mario is ashamed of his country! The-a blog Perugia Shocks follows this-a case closely, so Mario encourages you to keep-a tabs on it there. And her-a defense fund is here. Soon we-a free her! Arrivederci!
I Am The Law
by Judge Dredd
After the collapse of the environment and humanity’s sociopolitical structure, lawlessness ran rampant in the few remaining Mega Cities where most human survivors lived. But then a new system of criminal justice emerged. One where elite super-soldiers act as police, jury, and executioners. We call them the Judges. That’s where I come in. I’m a Judge. The name’s Judge Dredd, and I am the law.
I don’t need to hear from some Ivory Tower egg-head about how we need to coddle criminals with fair and impartial trials and presume them innocent. When I see a rotten, good-for-nothing lowlife punk steal an old lady’s purse, I just smash his teeth in with my comically oversized gun from the future. There are no Miranda Rights. No trial. No taxpayer-funded lawyer. Only justice. And that happens to be me. I am the law.
When you’re walking home from work one day and all of a sudden a gang of hooligans jumps from out of nowhere to steal your food pellet rations, who do you go to for help? That’s right, the self-appointed vigilantes running around in ridiculous costumes who call themselves Judges. If you’re lucky you’ll get me/The Law on your side.
There are two types of people in the world: The good, hardworking ones, and the worthless criminals who should be executed immediately. And then there’s guys like me, other Judges. And there are also some people who aren’t exactly good, but get by without causing too much trouble. Then there are convenience store clerks. And there’s that butterfly kid from the Blind Melon video… remember that?
Well, anyway, maybe there are more than two kinds of people in the world. So sue me. It’s not like there’s a law against it, because if I break a law that would mean there is a law against… the law. And that is a paradox which will create a black hole that will swallow up the Universe. And we don’t want that now, do we?
Actually, The Law Is A System Of Rules That A Particular Country Or Community Recognizes As Regulating The Actions Of Its Members And May Enforce By The Imposition Of Penalties.
by Alan Dershowitz
Since the dawn of Western civilization we humans have established systems of law. The goal of pursuing justice should be that the law is universal, which is to say that it applies to everyone equally. Nobody should be above the law. And while some legal systems are named after the rulers who founded them, we must remember that despite Mr. Dredd’s opinion the law is a system and not an individual who happens to work within that system.
Mr. Dredd is a young man with an occupation which requires bursts of adrenaline, and he may feel invulnerable now. But like all other mortals he will age and eventually die. And if he truly is the law, will the law die with him? Will our children and grandchildren be forced into the same kind of chaotic nightmare we all too recently lived through? Will the end of Dredd mean another “Cursed Earth?” Ridiculous. The law will continue with or without Dredd because it is part of our social contract.
But I will go even further here. Not only is Judge Dredd’s opinion wrong on the grounds that no single person can “be the law,” but even if one could truly be the law, Dredd would not be that person. His draconian sentencing and methods of investigation are completely at odds with our modern sensibilities. If he is the law, then we’re talking about the law of Saudi Arabia or North Korea or someplace like that. Even if all of our countryside is a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland, this is still America, where we give those accused of crimes the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law.
I hate to speculate, but if I had to guess why Mr. Dredd is taking this unusual stance on legal issues, I would say that like all tyrants throughout history, he has a vested self-interest in equating himself with law and order in the mind of the public. It could be as simple as a matter of him keeping his job in the law and order business.
At worst, he may be pre-emptively introducing Richard Nixon’s famous defense where he declared that a crime is not a crime if the President does it. This would be especially useful if the US Attorney General’s office brings charges against him for obsctructing justice in one way or another. If that’s the case, then having a jury already receptive to the idea that Mr. Dredd’s status as a high-profile Judge absolves him from legal responsibility would be very useful in a courtroom.
For the 10th anniversary of 9/11, “truthers” have finally performed repeated experiments, written them up, and submitted their reports to peer review. They will be published in a credible scientific journal.
No, I kid. They made a comic book. From the USA Today:
In The Big Lie, the heroine is a woman named Sandra, who lost her husband, Carl, during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. A particle physicist working at the Large Hadron Collider, she figures out a practical way to travel back in time, so she ventures from present day to Manhattan an hour before the first plane hits the towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
So you can probably see how this is going to turn out. Sandra’s going to try to warn the authorities of the attacks only to discover that those same authorities are the ones behind it all this time OMGWTF. Betrayed by her own government… trying to save her husband… in a world where nothing is as it seems… One woman stood up to… THE BIG LIE. I hope you read that in the movie trailer guy’s voice, except for the title, which would obviously just be shown in the trailer in black and white, full screen.
Let’s learn more about the people behind this comic book, Rick Veitch:
Going into this project, he didn’t consider himself a “Truther,” yet living during the eras of the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Iran/Contra and the invasion of Iraq, Veitch admits that he’s skeptical about any “official” story provided by the government.
OK, does any 9/11 troofer not say that? I haven’t heard of any. They all seem to believe that whoever happens to believe something just a little bit crazier about 9/11 is the “truther.” “Hipsters” work the same way.
I suppose it’s a good sign that some truthers might not want to be lumped in with people who believe that there were no planes flying into the World Trade Center and that what we saw in the video footage were plane holograms. On the other hand, some believe the more outlandish claims like that are CoIntelPro-style disinformation campaigns meant to discredit truthers as a whole. They sometimes call it a poison pill. Veitch explains:
“If one scratches the surface of the commission report, one finds huge holes in the official story. There’s also a lot of disinformation out there and oddball conspiracy theories that need to be debunked.”
The thing is that there aren’t many things a cross-section of troofers would agree on. The various stories of what they say happened have different points of emphasis, stories of who was involved often contradict, even who was involved in the planning is under dispute amongst them. They have no real consensus except they don’t believe the “official story.”
That should send up red flags warning that maybe they’re wrong on their basic assumptions. Usually, as you get more evidence about a historical event, a certain general narrative emerges as the most probable. That doesn’t happen in this case. What you get is a mass splintering of different, mostly independent narratives. Since they’re unwilling to reconsider their basic preconceptions, it will become necessary to explain how all these other ideas about what happened had arisen. An individual truther will say that the others couldn’t possibly have just been following the evidence to see where it leads, because that’s exactly what they had been doing and they came to a completely different conclusion. That’s when it’s time to invent another unfalsifiable conspiracy theory, like the disinformation campaigns Veitch refers to. He continues:
People who are paying attention are asking for a real in-depth investigation into all these nagging questions.
But that’s not what they’re getting. They’re getting a comic book. Funny how all the people talking about how everyone wants a “real investigation” never get around to actually doing one and always get distracted by for-profit enterprises selling their bogus fantasies to gullible suckers.
There’s a wonderful children’s book out for all the parents out there who want to teach their children about international politics and the case for a Belgian genocide. Here is a quick outline of the case for killing all the Belgians:
What has [Belgium] contributed to world culture? Fluffy waffles. A few varieties of beer and chocolate. That’s about it. Which raises the question: what have the Belgians been doing with their time instead? Maybe Belgium chokes the world with its sweet, sweet waffles to divert us from its growing imperialist ambitions, as the Belgians build a war machine on a scale undreamt of by Alexander or Genghis Khan.
Terrifying. And if that didn’t convince you, there is also this testimony on the Belgians from John Cleese.And if you’re still not convinced all Belgians must die and their “culture” be wiped out forever, check out this response to this book from a real live Belgian. It starts off by trying to convince us that the Belgians really have made contributions to the world by inventing the saxophone and French fries. Then things get even weirder:
So, now that we’ve put these things straigt, I should give you some advise for the next time you think of writing this kind of book. First of all: a bit of research wouldn’t harm, you know? We don’t eat brains. We have stopped doing that since mad cow disease started spreading. We don’t eat puppy’s. I thought the chinese did that? You can buy a dog in a chinese market and they’d ask you if you want it cut and deboned .
It’s just like a Belgian to blame the Chinese for their own puppy-eating. This appalling racism is par for the course in Belgium, which is why we must immediately level the entire country and erase any mention of them from the pages of history – if there actually are any mentions of them in history.
We must prepare the next generation for another war in Europe. The savage Belgians are so committed to their national identity that they have obliterated their collective sense of humor. And so we must eliminate these barbarians from the face of the Earth before it’s too late.