May 2017

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I'm tired of it, y'all. I am sick of people beating up on kids because of who they are and how they were born. Aside from just the general meanness of the stupid, lumpen populus, what really pisses me off is when such unfounded prejudice and jackassery emanates from the vaunted institutions of America. This is why I wish to draw attention to a petition by one Karen Andresen in defense of her son Ryan who, after 12 years of devotion  to the Boy Scouts, is being denied his Eagle status because he is gay. Here are the details.

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What really touched me in Ms. Andresen's appeal was her description of her son's final project toward earning  his Eagle rank:   

A Boy Scout gets his Eagle by earning many badges, completing all lower Scout rank requirements, and carrying out an approved final project. So Ryan decided to build a "Tolerance Wall" for his school, to show bully victims -- like Ryan -- that they are not alone. Ryan worked countless hours with elementary students to amass a wall of 288 unique tiles, all illustrating acts of kindness.

I wonder why exactly it is (other than idiot prejudice) that any organization would oppose a kid like this. I wonder if they sleep well at night knowing that their current behavior reinforces the bullying and bigotry that Ryan and millions of kids like him have been made to endure for no reason. But I am not really interested in hearing their reasons. Their day is done. Society is moving on. They have lost. And that is in no small part due to the courage of kids like Ryan and moms like Karen Andresen. For that reason, they are inducted into the M-Brane SF Pantheon of Anti-Douchebaggery.

Note: Don't bother commenting about how the Boy Scouts are a private club and can have whatever rules they want, like a church. I don't give a damn. This kid was 6 when he joined. Also, my web-space is also a kind of private club with its own rules--set by me--and opinions contrary to what I expressed above are, under those house rules, wrong.
It is time again to acknowledge someone who might seem at first to be relatively powerless and unimportant but who has struck a great blow against stupidity, spoken up loudly for rationality and taken to task the powerful and the ignorant. 



Zack Kopplin is hereby inducted into the M-Brane SF Pantheon of Anti-Douchebags for his work to repeal Louisiana's dumb "Science Education Act," a ridiculous law that smooths the imposition of Creationism and other whack-job anti-science ideas on public school kids. Visit the website and read about what he is doing. In particular, take note of his post of May 24 in which he directly challenges Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Dumbass-MN) to produce evidence of the existence of any of the Nobel laureate scientists whom she claims endorse "intelligent design." You need to read this. This kid absolutely nails it. It is one of best rebukes to the anti-science political class that I have read in ages. 

Aside from his obvious intelligence and the professional-grade handling of his campaign, I really dig the fact that he called out Bachmann specifically. She is a serious nutcase and a pathological creator of bullshit. She's so cracked that she makes Sarah Palin look semi-reasonable. Will she deign to answer Kopplin's challenge? I seriously doubt it, because I bet she is just barely sane enough to know that he would completely flatten her in a direct debate, because he has the facts and she has none. In fact, I am going to just go ahead and say that Michele Bachmann is terrified of Zack Kopplin and what he represents. She lies awake at night thinking about him and the threat he poses. "Do they ALL have brains?" she frets, tossing and turning, wondering how many more kids could easily debunk her every statement. She thinks that she should be President of the United States, but she is too much of a coward to take on a high school kid because she knows she would lose.

And why would she lose? Aside from the fact that she has no command of facts, it's because Creationism is a bunch of nonsense that no one with a science education, and no serious scientist on Earth believes in. That's why they don't want kids in America to learn any real science: because they will then quit believing in rubbish. You can call it "creation science" or "intelligent design" all day long, but it will still be a pile of balderdash having about as much to do with science as I have to do with Grammy Award-winning singing. The fact that we even have a debate about this topic at all in this country is a big smoldering beacon of our national downfall. Hey, America: wake up and let the kids learn real science, yo. Your future's at stake.
Many years ago, when I was chef at the Art Museum, I found a sheet of red sticky stars in my desk drawer and started occasionally awarding them as "The Red Star of Socialism," which I described as the "highest honor" of our organization. It was a fun little joke, having more to do with the stars being red than anything about "socialism" per se, but the sense of it stuck. More recently, I was reunited at work with with my close comrade who was with me during the original "Red Star" era, and the concept once again gained currency. We now occasionally have debates as to whether a particular act of merit is really Red Star-worthy or not. Last night I decided that the Red Star of Socialism would also become the highest honor of my publishing operation M-Brane Press.

Tonight I announce that the first recipient of the M-Brane Red Star of Socialism is the hacker entity known as "Anonymous." They merit our highest honor for their righteous work yesterday in launching a successful and ongoing denial-of-service attack on the websites of the disgusting Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps' sickening little clan well known for their "God Hates Fags" protests at people's funerals and other enormities. As of this writing, none of the Westboro sites are working: god hates fags dot com, god hates america dot com, and westboro baptist church dot com are all non-responding. 

In general, I am not a huge fan of hackers. While some use their skills for good, there is also far too much malicious activity that harms innocent bystanders. But in this case, Anonymous has done what we all wished we could do: shut those fuckers right the fuck up. Without their internet portals open, they are basically muzzled. But do I not defend free speech? Of course I do, but in the case of the Westboro fuckwits, I don't really care about their rights anymore than they care about mine. They have made it abundantly clear that they believe people like me ought to die, deserve to die and that they would be happy if I died and possibly even picket my funeral if I died. So, on balance, no I don't care if Anonymous is depriving Fred Phelps of his free speech for a while anymore than I'd be sad if the ugly son of  a bitch dropped over dead right now. He is, objectively, a vile piece of shit. All of decent society has repudiated his message. Every non-lunatic, non-asshole person who has ever heard of him has agreed that they are sick of hearing from him. Anonymous has made it, at least for a time, so we don't have to. 

For striking out against evil with such panache (they started the attack during a live radio interview involving the Phelps daughter/lawyer), Anonymous receives the M-Brane Red Star of Socialism and induction into my personal Pantheon of Anti-Douchebags.
A few months ago I said that I would try to talk about anti-douchebaggery as much as I talk about doubchebaggery and evil. I haven't done so well on that so far, but trying is a first step (perhaps toward failure, but anyway...), so in that spirit, I draw your attention to this kid:



His name is Matthew LaClair. You can read here on the People for the American Way website about how he took exception to his high school history teacher engaging in fundamentalist religious proselytizing, telling the students that only Christians will go to Heaven and that evolution has no basis is science. You can read in the PFAW article about how Matthew stood alone among his peers and against great odds to counter this obvious douchebaggery. In the end, he succeeded in vanquishing villainy in at least his small corner of life in this country. [Note: I believe this all occurred a couple years ago, and so is not current events--it's just new to me today].

Which is the point: what little thing have the rest of us done lately? Matthew was a kid who took on a pretty big fight in the context of his life and education. We can't all do the heavy lifting all the time, but if we all did take some kind of small action frequently, it might make a difference. Think about that the next time someone pushes their church in your workplace or makes a dumbass remark about the "Ground Zero Mosque" or espouses some casual homophobia or some clueless privileged racism or some other kind of entitled douchebaggery. We can all speak up in our own ways. This kid--who at the time was a 16-year-old with basically no legal rights at all--brought a school district to heel. We can all do something good like that all the time even if it's on a much smaller scale and in a much less public forum.

For reminding me of this, Matthew LaClair is inducted into my Pantheon of Anti-Douchebags.