Should we ditch the numerals, too?

We really need to put warning signs on the highways leading into the Deep South that say: “Warning! Entering the Dumbshit Zone!”  I think decent, reasonably embrained people should at least get some kind of heads up before they drive to Alabama and find themselves in a place where fucking shit like this happens:

Arabic foreign language class at Daphne High teaches ‘a culture of hate,’ some parents say

If a language class could teach a culture of hate, it would have to be something like “How to slur your words like a redneck” or “Christian Doublespeak 101.”

School officials believe the class will help prepare students to succeed in a global economy.

But some Daphne residents are upset that the Baldwin County school system is permitting its students to learn what they call “a culture of hate.”

“When you teach Arabic, you have to teach the culture along with it,” said Chuck Pyritz, whose two sons, Isaiah, 17, and Isaac, 14, attend Daphne High. “The culture is intertwined with Islam.”

I know, right? Whenever you learn a language, you automatically adopt the culture it came from. When I took Spanish, I suddenly found myself wearing a sombrero and running a drug cartel. We better stop teaching Greek unless we want a bunch of toga-wearing pedophiles running around!

Pyritz cited the case of jihadist Omar Hammami, who grew up in Daphne, as a compelling reason that school systems should not offer courses in Arabic. “That’s another red flag for us,” he said.

Hammami, who attended Daphne High, but did not graduate, is believed to have been killed a few weeks ago by members of his former Somali Islamist militant group, al-Shabab.

He is also believed to have gone to this school BEFORE they started teaching Arabic, which can only mean he has time traveling abilities, right?

“This is America, and English is our language, and while I understand the alleged premise of offering Arabic at our high school, I don’t agree with it,” said Michael Rife, who lives in Daphne.

The first part of your quote clearly shows that the second part of your quote is incorrect.

“It is not just another language; it is a language of a religion of hate. I’m concerned about our taxpayer dollars going to fund such a program, because I don’t believe it has a lot of foundational value.

Millions of Christians speak Arabic all over the world. So yeah, I guess it is the language of a religion of hate.

“It just concerns me that we’re headed down a path of further eroding our society to a Muslim-based society, or Sharia law (the moral code of Islam), and I’m not willing to let that happen without … something to say about it.”

Usually I find the people most concerned with the erosion of our society are the ones who contribute the most to said erosion. Alabama is becoming a fucking Grand Canyon of social erosion.

Pyritz was also disturbed, he said, after meeting with Baldwin school officials to voice his concerns and learning of plans to expand Arabic and other language course offerings in Daphne’s elementary and middle schools.

More education? Disturbing!

“They’re trying to indoctrinate our children with this culture that has failed,” he said.

All those god damn assholes teaching Latin. What the hell are they thinking? Don’t they know the Roman Empire failed?

“…Why should we want to teach our kids a failed culture when we have a culture that has been successful?

It’s not like they could learn from history or anything like that…

All we have to do is follow our Christian culture, which has brought this nation to the pinnacle of success. … I don’t see why they would want to teach this.”

Except that the success of Western culture in both North America and Europe has coincided with the gradual secularization of society and diminishing power of the church.

So fuck Christian culture. It failed too. I mean, isn’t that what you guys are always fucking whining about? How Christian culture is eroding away and being replaced with secularism? How is that different from you failing? The trend has been going on for 300 years now and shows no sign of abating. You lose. So teaching kids Christianity would be a bad idea by your own comically childish “reasoning”.

Donna Rife, a Daphne resident who has two grandchildren in Daphne schools, questioned the fairness of teaching Arabic when public school systems often discourage any expression of religion.

Look, dumbfucks, Arabic is not a religion. Lot’s of Christians are Arabic speakers in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and elsewhere. It’s just a fucking language. Saying Arabic somehow turns kids into Muslims is just as stupid as saying teaching Latin will turn them Catholic. It’s fucking idiotic.

“If they want to speak their language, that is their privilege in this country,” she said.

A lot of your fellow right wing god-humpers feel differently, bitch. Does a day ever go by where some jackass doesn’t complain about the growing frequency of the Spanish language in our culture?

“But don’t silence another voice, such as Christianity. …

By “silencing” she of course means “not allowing to enforce over others’ children”.

We are not a Muslim nation, and yet they’re trying to bring this kind of nonsense into (schools). I am absolutely against it.”

If you had even the slightest ability to recognize what is and isn’t nonsense, you wouldn’t be taking a verbal beating from me right now.

Rife was also disturbed, she said, about the possibility of her grandchildren studying Islam. “It’s a great concern to me, because they’re being indoctrinated with this,” she said.

A major part of the problem here is stupid people learning big words that they don’t understand. According to these idiots, pretty much any for of education other than “Jesus doesn’t want you to masturbate or help poor people” is “indoctrination”.

“Arabic leads right into the Muslim teaching, and that is where the danger is and that is what I am absolutely against,” she said.

How? How does it possibly do that? I’ve studied three different foreign languages in high school and in undergraduate and graduate college, and at no point did any of them convert me to a religion. Fuck, I’d be worshiping god damn Zeus right now after two years of ancient Greek if there were anything in her statement that belonged in any universe that included anything that made sense.

“Let them teach that in their mosques — but keep it out of our schools.”

Shitstain fundamentalists do support separation of church and state…when it comes to OTHER people’s religions.

It’s just that they don’t have even the foggiest comprehension of it or how it works. No, teaching Arabic does not violate separation of church and state. Teaching the Koran would, but no one is proposing that. Teaching Hebrew does not violate separation of church and state. But teaching Genesis does. It’s not that fucking difficult to wrap your brain around. Just, please, TRY to engage some tiny fiber of your shriveled reptilian brain stem and understand this painfully simple distinction. The law is pretty clear on this.

You fail. You fail at understanding the law. You fail at education. You fail at language. You fail at being a decent human being. You fail at life, love, and everything positive in the world. Please, please leave the rest of us alone and keep your boneheaded bigotry away from the schools, so we can try to educate these children so they don’t grow up to be like you.

Russia Still Sucks (when it comes to gay rights)

We’ve heard a lot about athletes opposing Russia’s draconian, unjust new law banning “gay propaganda” (which is just code for “any free expression regarding homosexuality in public”).  But now CNN brings us a Russian athlete who has seen fit to defend this stupid, fascist law, except she chose to do so in broken English with comical results. (Note to bigots: You guys usually aren’t very bright, and can barely handle your own native languages. Trying to be bigoted in a language you only partially speak will never end well.)

Yelena Isinbayeva, the golden girl of Russian sport, has sought to clarify her controversial comments about gay rights and her apparent criticism of fellow athletes for highlighting the issue at the world championships in Moscow.

As is always the case with these kinds of things, “clarify” means “pretend you didn’t say what you actually said.”

Isinbayeva reclaimed the women’s pole vault title in front of her adoring public on Tuesday, then two days later defended her country’s anti-gay propaganda law after receiving her medal.

“If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people,” Isinbayeva said in English at a press conference.

Let me make this clear, Ms. Isinbayeva: If you or anyone else support this kind of bullshit, you have no right to call yourselves “normal, standard people.” No sane person is going to go along with the idea that censorship and oppression of minorities is normal and standard. We gotta have some fucking standards here, and denying people’s right to free speech for any reason–a fortiori for their minority status–must not be one of them. Period.

But there is a nugget of honesty in Isinbayeva’s comment. I believe her when she says she and her fellow Russian bigots are “afraid”. Fear of difference often motivates these kinds of oppressive laws. Well, fear of difference among the ignorant populace–the motivation amongst the leaders who pander to them is more likely to be a cynical desire to further solidify their power. You’re being exploited by your leaders, Russian people, and you don’t even know it.

In short, Vladmir Putin is a fucking asshole.

“We just live boys with woman, women with boys.

Um….Ewww?

“Everything must be fine. It comes from history. We never had any problems, these problems in Russia, and we don’t want to have any in the future.”

Yeah, ’cause when I think of countries that never had any problems, Russia is the first to spring to mind.

LOL. I couldn’t even keep a straight face while typing that. Has there ever been a moment in history when Russia wasn’t completely fucked up? Your country still had a god damn feudalistic medieval economy at the beginning of the 20th century. You were decimated in both World Wars. You had Joseph Stalin, one of the most murderous dictators in human history. And now, despite all the economic problems your country faces, you’re chasing the bogeyman of “gay propaganda”.

Yep. No problems at all…

She criticized two Swedish athletes who defied the anti-gay law by sporting what could be seen as “propaganda” under the new regulations.

Read: U.S. runner blasts Russia on gay rights

High jumper Emma Green Tregaro and sprinter Mao Hjelmer wore rainbow-colored fingernails in their events in support of the gay rights movement.

Green Tregaro posted a picture on her Instagram account captioned: “Nails painted in rainbow sign #pride #moscow2013.”

Go Sweden!

(But, seriously, who would name their kid “Mao” in this day and age? Does she have siblings named Hitler and Pol Pot?)

“It’s unrespectful to our country,” Isinbayeva told reporters. “It’s unrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians.

Oh, boo fucking hoo. You disrespect your own people by making these kinds of laws. Maybe if you started treating gays like actual human beings with equal rights, I’ll start giving a fuck about your precious little hurt feelings. But until then, cry your fucking eyes out. You’ll get no sympathy from me.

“Maybe we are different from European people and other people from different lands. We have our home and everyone has to respect (it). When we arrive to different countries, we try to follow their rules.”

It seems that you don’t understand the purpose of civil disobedience. That’s likely because you live in a country where any form of it is brutally repressed.

However, on Friday Isinbayeva released a statement via athletics’ ruling body claiming that she had been “misunderstood.”

“English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday,” said the 31-year-old, who is an ambassador for the International Olympic Committee and will be mayor of the athletes’ village at the Winter Games in the Russian city of Sochi next year.

Excuses excuses. Yeah, your English was a little broken and sounded funny, but you knew what you were saying.

“What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests.

“But let me make it clear I respect the views of my fellow athletes and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality (which is against the Olympic charter).”

Anyone who feels the need to use the word “respect” over and over and over is most likely hoping to use decorum to obfuscate and confuse the conversation. “Respect” in these cases often means “silence”. Show us some respect. Just don’t talk about the anti-gay law. Remember that all these Swedish athletes did was paint their fingernails with rainbow colors and tweet about it. That’s it.

This has become a pretty common refrain in the articles I’ve read about defenders of the Russian gay propaganda laws. They insist that they don’t want to discriminate against anyone, and then demand “respect”, hoping that silencing the debate will prevent people from pointing out that discrimination is exactly what they are doing. They’re picking out a certain minority and restricting their freedom of expression simply for being who they are. That, by definition, is discrimination. It is impossible to support this law without supporting discrimination. Isinbayeva’s “clarification” is as absurd as saying, “I would never murder anyone” while repeatedly stabbing everyone in the room with a cyanide-coated broad sword. But then again, George Orwell used what was going on in Russia as part of the basis for Animal Farm and 1984, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to hear this kind of abuse of language (English, Russian, or any other) coming out of a Russian mouth.

U.S. runner Nick Symmonds was quoted in the New York Times criticizing Isinbayeva’s comments.

“It blows my mind that such a young, well-traveled, well-educated woman would be so behind the times,” said Symmonds, who spoke out against the law after winning a silver medal in Tuesday’s 800 meters event.

He told the BBC Thursday that he had wanted to compete wearing a rainbow sticker, but was afraid of being arrested.

In his blog for Runner’s World prior to the world championships, Symmonds said he disagreed “with the laws that Russia has put in place.”

Don’t be too shocked, Nick. She is indeed educated. She was educated to believe that everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

Priorities

Sometimes, a single sentence tells you everything you need to know about a person.

DowntwnDavis

I would rather have my kid learning gun safety than learning how to put a condom on a banana.

When it comes to the potential untimely demise of his child, this guy likes to keep his options open.

Rape-ublican Reloaded

I have a bit of advice for the few (if any) people out there who read this. Do not, under any circumstances, underestimate the Rape-ublican Party because you thought, “Well, they would never stoop THAT low!”  Case in point:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Senate has moved to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for HIV/AIDS education efforts at local schools.

We are seriously at the point where wanting to educate children about the dangers of fucking AIDS makes you an enemy in the Republicans’ eyes. If I understand their current position correctly, they want your children in public schools to be creationist god-humpers that have both guns and AIDS. And it’s that special strain of AIDS that increases your carbon footprint and causes you to think that Ted Nugent has actual opinions that are worth listening to.

The sponsor says he doesn’t want state money going to an organization that makes abortion referrals.

Now we have the villain of our story. The Sponsor sounds like a total assface. Given the choice between “Defund group that gives women control over their own bodies,” and “Educate children about a deadly disease,” he chose the former. Fuck you, Sponsor!

Planned Parenthood supporters lined up outside the senate doors and filled the balcony to watch the debate.

They were as helpless in this debate as Rape-ublicans want women in general to be.

The sponsor says he simply doesn’t want state money to go to Planned Parenthood for sex education because of the group’s ties to abortion, even if the education money isn’t used for abortions.

Who is this nefarious ne’er-do-well who calls himself The Sponsor?

“It says all funds are strictly accounted for and no public funds are used to pay for abortions with rare exceptions,” Jason Rapert said.

JASON FUCKING RAPERT.

Just when you thought he was focused on instituting mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds (i.e. State Sponsored Sexual Assault of Women), he pulls the old switcheroo and unexpectedly adopts the Pro-AIDS position.

Arkansas State Legislator Jason Rapert announces that he has switched from being the pro-Rape candidate to the pro-AIDS candidate (visual approximation)

Arkansas State Legislator Jason Rapert announces that he has switched from being the pro-Rape candidate to the pro-AIDS candidate (visual approximation)

There really is no policy position too stupid or too evil for a true supervillain like Rapey Magoo here. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if the Green Goblin were actually real, he’d say something along the lines of, “Dude, Rapert, I’m evil and all, but damn. You don’t think this is taking things a little too far?”

“It’s very interesting they put in their own flier that none of those funds are used for abortions with rare exceptions. Fact of the matter is, they shouldn’t be done at all.”

It’s very interesting that you’re so obsessed with controlling women’s decisions over their own bodies that you’d be willing to sacrifice the well-being of children in order to accomplish it.

Arkansas needs a superhero.  Somebody needs to stand the fuck up to this motherfucker, or it won’t be long before he’s inviting alien invasions and building an army of mutated cyber-clones to take over every womb in the country–and then!–The World! I’m currently 800 miles away, so there ain’t much I can do, but I’d volunteer if I could.

Besides, I think it would be more impactful if Arkansas’ superhero were a woman. Women are the obvious target of their dastardly supervillain, after all. It would be quite fitting if he were defeated by one of the very vagina-possessing Arkansas citizens that he apparently despises so much. We could call her the Vaginal Avenger. I see it going down something like this…

Worried on-looker 1: Oh shit! That abortion clinic is under attack by the Frenzied Fundamentalists!

Worried on-looker 2: Fuck my biscuits! The villainous Jason Rapert the AIDS-lover looks poised for another victory over the forces of good. Whatever shall we do?

Worried on-looker 3:  Look! Up in the sky! What the fuck is that???

[The Vaginal Avenger lands on the scene with a mighty roar. Cue music: “The Vaginal Avenger, super fucking feminist!”]

Vaginal Avenger: Halt, evil-doer! Get your grimy Rape-ublican hands off of women’s vaginas!

Rapert: Hah! You’re too late, Vaginal Avenger! For victory is mine! My army of Frenzied Fundamentalist mouth-breathers shall tear you to shreds!

Vaginal Avenger: Not so fast, Rapert. For how could you possibly counteract my secret weapon–a SCIENCE BOOK!

Frenzied Fundamentalist 1: Aaaaagh! The Enlightenment! It burns!

Frenzied Fundamentalist 2: I didn’t know there’d be a quiz! I’m outta here!

Frenzied Fundamentalist 3: Fuck a fetus! I can’t withstand the power of basic knowledge of the human body!

[As the Frenzied Fundamentalists flee, the crowd cheers.]

Cheering on-looker 1: Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that being a decent human being has won the day!

Rapert [fleeing]: I’ll be back, Vaginal Avenger! You just wait til the next election cycle!

Sadly, I don’t see anything like this happening in real life. But I can dream…

Why Evolution Matters

Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones (a publication that, I admit, I rarely read) has said something rather dumb about evolution. Not that he’s a creationist (I’d be using the word “douchebucket” a lot more if he were). Rather, he’s concerned about how we, as people with functioning brains, should view the importance of the evolution/creation battle in America. According to Drum, it’s not all that important and has little relevance to the political issues that matter today.

He’s wrong. And he clearly knows very little about the anti-evolution movement in America and what their agenda really is. Simply put, if you support things like equality based on gender and sexual orientation, responsible economic policy (as opposed to slash-and-burn capitalism), religious freedom and secularism, and the all important task of trying to keep the American populace at least un-stupid, then the unending onslaught against facts and reality in America’s public schools should be on your radar.

Drum is responding to an article by Andrew Sullivan, who after lamenting the fact that polls consistently show that roughly 45% of Americans believe Jesus had a pet velociraptor, argues that this is perhaps not an issue of deeply held belief, but that instead creationism functions as a sort of “cultural signifier” demarcating “us” (good Christians) from “them” (Commie Muslim liberal fags). I think he’s probably at least partially right about this. My guess is that a sizable portion of American creationists don’t care about the theory of evolution in biology any more than they do about string theory in physics or dynamical systems theory in cognitive science. But they adhere to it because it has become a calling card that differentiates their tribe from the atheists and “socialists” (they typically don’t understand socialism any better than they do biology). Sullivan rightly asks how we could ever hope to have a productive dialogue when such a large chunk of he population decides even the most basic facts about reality based solely on tribal affiliation. (Although I also agree with Ed Brayton, who points out that Sullivan somewhat misses the mark by making this about “bring[ing] our country together.”)

Enter Drum. He thinks this is all a bunch of hooey:

Come on. This 46% number has barely budged over the past three decades, and I’m willing to bet it was at least as high back in the 50s and early 60s, that supposed golden age of comity and bipartisanship. It simply has nothing to do with whether we can all get along and nothing to do with whether we can construct a civil discourse.

If you’ve ever tried to argue with a creationist, you know what kind of “discourse” you’re in for. Civility will be the least of your problems. Intellectual honesty, logical reasoning, and the facts are going to suffer a lot more.

Honestly, I don’t much care for all the babble about “civility”.  If Drum wants to claim that the unchanging nature of American creationism shows that it is irrelevant, I would like to point out to him that American political discourse has never been civil. Read Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America, written in 1832, for evidence of that. American political discourse has always been noisy, rude, loud and unruly. Really, nothing has changed in the day of teabaggers and fundamentalists except that they now have the internet amplifying their barking lunacy.

The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it: their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives. Sure, it’s a handy way of saying that they’re God-fearing Christians — a “cultural signifier,” as Andrew puts it — but our lives are jam-packed with cultural signifiers. This is just one of thousands, one whose importance probably barely cracks America’s top 100 list.

I’m not so sure of this. The Gallup poll found that there is a strong negative correlation between education attainment and rejection of evolution:

December 2010 Views of Human Origins (Humans Evolved, With God Guiding; Humans Evolved Without God's Involvment; God Created Humans in Present Form) -- by Education

Now, this probably has a lot to do with the fact that the more pig ignorant you are, the more likely you are to believe that Jesus personally sculpted out the human rectal orifice. However, we should also consider the possibility that accepting bogus science might hinder one’s ability to think critically and achieve higher levels of education. Regardless, I don’t think one can just flippantly claim that belief in evolution has nothing to do with real life when it correlates so strongly with something so important.

And after making that highly dubious claim, Drum really goes off the rails with this:

And the reason it doesn’t is that even creationists don’t take their own views seriously. How do I know this? Well, creationists like to fight over whether we should teach evolution in high school, but they never go much beyond that. Nobody wants to remove it from university biology departments. Nobody wants to shut down actual medical research that depends on the workings of evolution. In short, almost nobody wants to fight evolution except at the purely symbolic level of high school curricula, the one place where it barely matters in the first place. The dirty truth is that a 10th grade knowledge of evolution adds only slightly to a 10th grade understanding of biology.

Okay, several points:

1.) There are people who would love to remove evolution from the universities, but they know it will never happen. Unlike local school boards and state legislatures, universities have a lot of smart people in them. You can sell your bullshit pseudoscience to a bunch of rubes at the local PTA meeting much more easily than you can at a university biology department (where people know stuff about, you know, science and all that).

2.) I think that the existence of a $20 million creation museum in Kentucky should disabuse us of the notion that creationist don’t take their beliefs seriously. Some don’t, but some most certainly do.

3.) Most importantly, the push to teach creationism in public high schools is not “purely symbolic”, and this is where it really matters. Also, this is where Drum shows his complete ignorance of what’s at stake in this battle.

Kevin Drum needs to read the Wedge Document and get a taste of what the creationists (currently playing dress up as “Intelligent Design Proponents”) are up to. He’s right that they don’t really take their beliefs in creationism very seriously (the document barely even talks about science). But there is something that they do take very seriously: Infiltrating the public school system and turning it into a tool for training up conservative religious freaks who will take over the country and institute biblical law over the rest of us.

Believe it or not, the people pushing creationism today are not stupid (their followers, on the other hand…).  They’re savvy. They know that once people reach adulthood, their outlook on life and their beliefs are basically set. If you want to turn people into mindless Godbots, you gotta start young. The younger the better, in fact.

Intelligent design creationism is not an end in itself to them. It’s a tool, a “wedge” as they call it, that (if they succeed) will be used to usher a whole slew of right wing nincompoopery into the school system, where it will be taught as fact. Would you like for your children (or anyone’s children for that matter) to be taught that our Founding Fathers were religious fundamentalists who founded a Christian nation, that gays can be cured, that relentless laissez-faire capitalism is the only economic policy endorsed by God, that AIDS is a punishment for gays, that America has been on the side of good in every war it fought, that atheists caused the Holocaust and slavery, that welfare only makes people lazy, that abortion causes breast cancer, that “secular humanism” is equivalent to Marxism, and a whole slew of other demonstrably false and ludicrous right wing fantasies that get spewed daily on talk radio and from pulpits? Well, that’s kinda what they’re going for.

The problem is that since creationism, in most people’s minds, serves merely as a cultural marker, they will vote in the person who promises “balance” in the biology classroom without realizing that they are voting in all this other stuff as well. Since so many people accept creationism, savvy (and cynical) politicians who want to radically alter our current system to favor white, wealthy Christians over everyone else can use it as a wedge issue.

So, yes, the creationism issue is very important, even if it’s merely a cultural signifier that most people don’t take very seriously. And this is why Drum completely misses the mark in his conclusion:

Now, I think evolution should remain in high school texts anyway. Why? Because it’s true. Biology is a science, and evolution is one of the pillars of modern science. For me, that’s a cultural signifier every bit as much as a literal reading of the Bible is for 46% of the country. But you know what? I could spend an entire day arguing politics and economics and culture with a conservative and never so much as mention evolution. It’s just not that important, and it doesn’t tell us much of anything about our widening political polarization. We should keep up the fight, but at the same time we shouldn’t pretend it has an epic significance that it doesn’t. I’m not optimistic about anyone or anything “bringing the country together,” but not because lots of people choose to deny evolution. Frankly, that’s one of the least of our problems.

I’m not optimistic about “bringing our country together” either, but that’s just fucking irrelevant. The importance of evolution isn’t in whether it can bring us all around the campfire where we can sing and roast marshmallows. It’s in the fact that its advocates have a much broader agenda, with creationism being the first step in infiltrating the schools. Simply put, if they succeed, we’re all kinda fucked, as future prosperity and progress depend pretty heavily on having a well-educated population.

I find it hard to believe that a liberal like Kevin Drum could be so dismissive about the importance of education. Does he really think that the ongoing attempts to put pseudoscience in public school curriculum is “one of the least of our problems”?  Does he really think that we can just ignore pedagogical concerns about what’s being taught in our schools and expect to be able to solve economic or social problems with an uneducated population?

My guess would be that he doesn’t think these things. He probably just didn’t think at all when he said it. And that’s kinda the problem with these types of issues.