Why The White House Won’t

white house honors god

In what way, one can’t help but wonder, must the White House honor God in order to make this meme’s author happy?  I conducted a Google-quest to find peoples’ opinions on what it means to honor God.  While there was some diversity in opinion, most people held that to honor God, you should live your life devoted to Him.  (One author claimed that “honoring God” entailed living a life of sexual purity.  If that’s the case, the White House lost it’s connection to God a long time ago.)

That’s all fine, but at this point I must voice a protest against the message of this meme: While I think it’s fine for a President to honor God, the White House definitely should not.  The President is a person, but the White House is an institution - a symbolic representation of the power of the leader of the executive branch.  As the sole seat of executive authority, the White House must be firmly secular.  And while the President abides there, s/he should keep his/her religious convictions, wherever they may lie, completely separate from his/her executive duties.

Despite conservatives’ numerous attempts to retcon the United States’ position regarding religion, our nation is – and was always meant to be – secular.  The First Amendment to the Constitution makes that clear.  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  The White House isn’t part of Congress, of course, but it is part of the same government, and as such, it should not honor the God of Abraham any more than it should honor Vishnu, or Ra, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  The White House should mean the same thing to the Muslim, to the Hindu, and to the atheist as it means to the Christian.  If it doesn’t, then the White House – in fact, the entire government – has lost its status as a symbol of all Americans.  The Founding Fathers recognized this danger, which is why they penned the Bill of Rights in the first place.

Tiny Brontosauruses

tiny brontosauruses

It took you a while to realize that?  Hmm, I determined pretty quickly that these were not “tiny Brontosauruses“, but then, I am a bit of a dinosaur nerd.

Here’s how you can tell that these aren’t “tiny Brontosauruses“.

  1. This is nitpicking, but they ought to be called Apatosauruses.  In 1877, fossil hunter extraordinaire Othniel Charles Marsh discovered the incomplete remains of an animal he named Apatosaurus, meaning “deceptive lizard”.  Two years later he discovered a more complete skeleton.  Believing the second skeleton to be from a different species, he named it Brontosaurus, or “thunder lizard”.  In 1903, paleontologist Elmer Riggs determined that Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus were actually the same animal.  Since Apatosaurus was named first, that name has priority; however, Brontosaurus was already established in the public lexicon.  The name Brontosaurus is commonly used as a synonym for Apatosaurus, so we can forgive the maker of this meme for the substitution.  Still, Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus are genus names, and ought to be capitalized and italicized.
  2. Apatosaurus’s neck did not have the S-curve shown in these animals; the dinosaur’s neck was held nearly parallel to the ground.  The upward incline of these animals’ “necks” is more reminiscent of Brachiosaurus.
  3. The upward projections on these animals are not necks anyway, but tails.  It didn’t take me long to realize that.  I’m not sure why the maker of the meme was stymied for so long.
  4. These are mammals.  Apatosaurus was not a mammal.
  5. All Apatosauruses (tiny or otherwise) went extinct about 150 million years ago.  The surroundings in this photograph (and the very human-looking legs just behind the “Brontosauruses”) suggest that it was taken much more recently than 150 million BC.  I mean, I don’t see a timestamp so I can’t be 100% certain.
  6. I’m pretty sure these animals are in fact coatis, a raccoon-like animal prevalent from the southwestern United States down to South America.

Now I know what you’re thinking: this meme was obviously intended as a joke, and I’m just being a curmudgeonly pedant for picking it apart.  Well, yeah…that’s what I do.  All things considered, this meme isn’t that terrible, but I can’t get past the opening line.  I know it didn’t take anybody that long to determine that these animals are not tiny Brontosauruses; why did the author think it would be funny to imply that it did?

Friend Zoned

The Friend Zone

Perhaps your female friends are put off by your grammar and spelling, Brandon.  Communication is key in a relationship; what you’re doing here barely qualifies.

Here’s what your misguided rant should have looked like, Brandon, if you felt the need to post it at all.  In addition to correcting numerous spelling and grammar errors, I’ve taken the liberty to revise some of your stylistic choices.

Why do women always put nice guys in the friend zone but still complain and whine about wanting a nice guy to be with?  When you had one in front of you, you friend zoned him.  That makes no sense at all.

When a guy is there for you through your exes, bad dates, money problems, etc, it’s because he really likes you and wants to be the one for you (unless he’s gay).  You don’t see that, but you should before he’s gone.  People can only be tortured for so long before they break.  You say there’s none left; it’s because you keep torturing them until they snap.

Men are not Twinkies.  We have expiration dates.  Before we go bad and throw ourselves out, realize we’re there waiting for our turn to make you happy.

There…that’s certainly easier to read, even if it’s still stupid.

Now that we’ve addressed Brandon’s grammatical foibles, let’s examine the content of the message.  Here, in a nutshell, is the message Brandon seems to be conveying.

Waaaah! I was nice to you and you owe me sex!  If you don’t have sex with me, I’ll stop being nice to you!

Whenever a man whines about being “friend zoned”, this is exactly what I hear.  “Friend zoned” guys try to portray themselves as gentle heroes, slighted by the damsel they’re trying to protect.  But that’s not it at all.  They’re really just guys who thought they had an angle, and who are disillusioned because their angle didn’t work.  They’re projecting the bitterness of their romantic failure onto the target of their affections.  Isn’t that unfair to the lady in question?  You’re putting pressure on her to do something she obviously doesn’t want to do; namely, to date Brandon.  You’re implying that you know better than she does what would be best for her, romantically speaking.

Men, we can be better than this.  Let’s abandon the concept of the “friend zone” and face reality: not everybody is going to be attracted to us.  Also, let’s agree that we can be friendly just for the sake of being friendly, without expecting romantic reciprocation.  The world isn’t so bad when people are nice to each other for no reason at all.

Blatant Racist is Blatant


Genocide, huh?  I don’t think so.

You commit genocide when you actively and intentionally exterminate a large group of people, usually of a particular ethnic group or nationality.  Hitler committed genocide against the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.  Stalin committed genocide against the Ukrainians, killing millions by man-made famine.  Pol Pot committed genocide against the Cambodian people.  If armed groups roamed our cities, dragging people into the streets and shooting them dead just for being white, that would definitely count as genocide.  But that’s not happening, at least not on a worldwide scale.

Don’t get me wrong: people with white skin have certainly been killed in genocides, but it was generally not the color of their skin that made them targets.  Most genocides that disproportionately affect white people are actually targeted at ethnic, religious, or political groups that also happen to be white.   What justification, then, is there for using the words white genocide?

Perhaps the maker of this meme adheres to the ideas advanced by the White Genocide Project.  The WGP believes that the movement of “non-White immigrants into traditionally White countries over a period of years” is just as destructive to white culture as if somebody were actively mowing us down in the streets.  And what is the agent of this destruction?  “Forced assimilation” (which is really a racist code word for “cultural diversity”), they say.  To introduce cultural and racial diversity into “traditionally White” countries is to dilute and effectively destroy white culture.  To “support” their claims, the WGP refers to Article II, part (C) of the United Nations resolution on genocide, in which genocide is partially defined as:

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part

Yes, that’s right.  The WGP believes that having to tolerate people who are different from them is not only detrimental, but destructive to their way of life and to their race.  The only way to preserve the white race, they say, is to stop the free movement of people with different ideas, languages, and skin colors across national borders.  In other words, every national border, particularly the borders of “traditionally White countries”, should be an impermeable barrier, if I’m reading their message correctly.

Let’s be honest about what the WGP and its supporters are really afraid of.  It isn’t genocide – that’s patently ridiculous - it’s being marginalized.  I suspect these people fear that if white people become a minority-majority, we will be removed from our traditional place of power – forced to live the way others live now.  What ever can we do?

The meme doesn’t actually suggest how we might stop “white genocide”, it only tries to paint “multiracialism” in the most horrific light possible.  Here the author shows his true colors; he is blatantly racist but some deeply-repressed region in his brain realizes that his bigotry is not supported by reason.  To ease his uncertainty, he imagines the most horrible possible outcome – the extermination of white culture and the white race – and paints it as a statistical certainty.  He wants you to agree – not because your collective power will be able to turn the tide of demographic evolution – but because he needs to know that he is not afraid alone.

Do not grant him that luxury.  Bigots who use loaded words like “genocide” to sway public opinion do not deserve our support.  Even by posting this meme – if only to tear it apart – I feel that I am giving it more recognition than it deserves.  It’s time to leave these relics where they belong – alongside the fossils of yesterday’s attitudes – and move forward to a future of existing as a species, and not as fractured races.  That might be foolishly sanguine of me, but I feel that it beats living in fear.

A Pain In The Balls

Pain in the Balls

I’ve been fortunate enough not to have taken a direct kick to the jewels – a fact for which I am duly grateful – but rare is the man who doesn’t know that the slightest trauma to that region ushers in a disproportionate level of discomfort.  I have no doubt that a deliberate assault upon one’s danglies is excruciatingly unpleasant, but come on…let’s not exaggerate.  This meme would have us believe that:

  1. there is a scientific unit for measuring pain (there isn’t), and that
  2. the pain of giving birth or breaking a bone can be compared to the pain of blunt-force testicular trauma, and that
  3. a kick in the balls is many times more painful than either of those other events.

Sorry, I’m just not buying it.  First, there’s no such measurement as a del.  In the 1940′s a group of scientists at Cornell University carried out a series of horrible experiments in an effort to classify and measure human pain.  They proposed an objective pain unit called a dol – not a del – from dolor, the Latin word for pain.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the term never caught on in scientific circles.  Contrary to Internet folklore, there is no universally-accepted way to quantify pain.

One of the reasons for the dol‘s failure was that it did not account for the subjective nature of pain.  The Cornell pain scale assumed that pain adds up in an arithmetic fashion; in other words, that a painful event of 8 dols would be the same as four events of 2 dols each.  But anybody that has suffered pain – so basically, anybody alive - can tell you that having multiple small pains is not necessarily the same as having one big pain.  The dol scale’s inability to distinguish the intensity of pain from the type of pain consigned it to spend the rest of eternity as an interesting but not particularly important footnote in medical history.

For unfathomable reasons, the Cornell team does not seem to have assessed the painfulness of a foot-scrotum collision, and even if they had, it’s unlikely they’d have found many men willing to sit through the multiple abuses necessary to establish an average value.

Now it’s probably safe to assume that the meme was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.  Still, I find it interesting that a person who has never given birth to a single child, let alone 160 of them, nor broken 3200 bones simultaneously – declares, even in jest, that a single kick to the crotch is worse than any other pain, many times over.  To me, that’s just self-centered and short-sighted.  There’s a whole world of pain beyond your crotch, mister.

Everything Old Is Chic-Fil-A Again

Chic Fil A vs Saudi Arabia

Whoa, is it 2012 again?

I’m asking because that was the year the Chic-fil-A / gay marriage kerfuffle erupted, inspiring some of the most nail-bitingly stupid memes ever to hit the Internet.  I thought the meme-storm was mostly passé by the time StupidBadMemes opened its virtual doors half a year later.  I thought I’d missed my chance to dissect a pro-Chic-fil-A meme.  Not so!  For reasons I don’t quite understand, this meme appears to be making the rounds again!  Who says you never get a second chance?

Actually, this is a slight rewording of a meme I saw during the pinnacle of those heated conflicts of opinion.  The original meme claimed that the owner of OPEC put homosexuals to death.  I guess somebody realized that OPEC is an international consortium of oil-producing nations that has no distinct “owner”, because now the meme has changed to focus on one nation specifically: Saudi Arabia.  Despite that small correction, there’s plenty of stupidity packed in here.  Let’s take a look, finally, at what makes this meme so awful.

For starters, it misses the point entirely.  Let’s be honest, the Chic-fil-A problem goes much deeper than some conservative businessman’s opinions on marriage.  The charitable arm of Chic-fil-A, WinShape, donated more than five million dollars to anti-gay groups.  When I say anti-gay, I mean really, dangerously anti-gay.  Some of the beneficiaries of Chic-fil-A’s “charity” include:

  • Exodus International – a now-defunct group formerly focused on conversion therapy, a controversial and potentially dangerous means of “converting” homosexuals to a heterosexual lifestyle.
  • Family Research Council – a conservative Christian lobbying organization that was labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group.
  • Marriage & Family Foundation – formerly known as the Marriage & Family Legacy Fund; this was a project of the Marriage CoMission with the stated goal of encouraging corporations to use their influence as community leaders to guide America’s values back to the traditional family.  (The Marriage & Family Foundation and the Marriage CoMission appear to be extinct, although WinShape donated nearly three million dollars (PDF, scroll to page 22) as recently as 2011.)

These are just a few of the organizations that were once supported by WinShape – and therefore by Chic-fil-A - whose purposes included blocking marriage equality.  I can’t speak for everybody, but when I personally decided to avoid Chic-fil-A, it wasn’t because I didn’t want to line the pockets of the Cathy family; it was because I didn’t want any of my dollars to find their way into projects that would ultimately hurt people – if not physically, then by denying them access to the same basic rights I enjoy.

If you’ve been a Chic-fil-A supporter and/or a staunch advocate of “traditional” marriage, this is the point at which you’re likely to cry “Hypocrite!”  I intend to answer that charge in a moment, but first…we need to discuss another major flaw in this meme: the notion that there is any such thing as “traditional” marriage.

I understand why people speak of “traditional” marriage: it comforts and appeals to conservatives.  But a quick peek in the history book shows us that the idea of marriage evolves from century to century and from culture to culture.  In other words, “traditional” marriage is akin to “traditional” language, or “traditional” fashion.  Marriage cannot be pinned down like that.

Consider my wife and me.  Although we have what conservatives would call a “traditional” marriage, our union is not typical of marriages throughout history.  We did not marry to seal a political pact.  We did not marry for the benefit of our families.  I did not pay a dowry for my wife’s hand, nor did I have to win her in combat (although my wife tells me that would have been really hot).  I don’t have more than one wife, and I don’t expect my wife to be subservient to me.  We chose each other because we were in love.  Is our marriage traditional?  In many other places and times, people would not think so.

The notion that the conservative American Christian definition of marriage is backed by centuries of tradition is a myth.  Even in the last hundred years, our country has seen significant revisions to laws regarding who could and couldn’t get married, and to the expectations of husbands and wives within the bonds of marriage, as Stephanie Coontz pointed out in a 2012 article written for The Daily Beast.

When same-sex marriage opponents pretend that their views are steeped in tradition, I feel they are falsely attributing the authority of history to their opinions.  In fact, history grants no authority to any one position regarding marriage.  Each generation must decide anew what is and isn’t a marriage, and many conservatives seem to be threatened by the possibility that the next generation’s decision might not go their way.

So, am I a hypocrite?  After all, I do purchase gasoline, which is produced from petroleum, which is drilled in some countries that do have horrible human rights records, especially where homosexuals are concerned.  How can I knowingly give money (and apparently, my assent) to one organization that threatens homosexuals while boycotting another?

As much as it rankles me to say this, it would be nigh impossible for me or most other people to get by without gasoline.  Much as I hate it, I am dependent on it.  I live far enough from my workplace that walking and biking are not feasible options.  Short of buying an electric car, there are no tenable solutions I could employ to avoid consuming fossil fuels, or to avoid giving money to companies that do.  If anybody knows of a way I could avoid all petroleum products without disastrously disrupting my life, believe me: I would be ecstatic to hear it.

While Americans are forced to support OPEC, I still believe we should set an example for those nations by improving the way we treat homosexuals within our borders.  Just because we must (currently) endure the evils of OPEC doesn’t mean we must tolerate the evils of local anti-gay organizations.  Conservatives who agree with this meme are missing a vital distinction: Chic-fil-A is not OPEC.  We need oil, at least for now: we don’t need chicken sandwiches.

Fifth Floor: Ladies’ Apparel, Douchebags

How a woman dresses, by Floyd Mayweather

This bit of douchebaggery was attributed to Floyd Mayweather, a professional American boxer.  I don’t know if Mayweather actually said this or not, but it doesn’t matter:  it’s still reprehensible.

I feel like I’ve covered this before (in fact, I’m sure I have), but I guess it bears repeating:  Nobody asks to be disrespected.  Saying that a woman’s attire makes her responsible for the horrible things visited upon her by unscrupulous idiots is dumb.  It’s dumb, and it’s reckless.  When you say things like this, you are implicitly giving your consent to all levels of disrespect, including verbal abuse, physical abuse, even rape, because a woman stepped out of the house wearing clothes that were, in your opinion, immodest.  You’re also suggesting that it’s not your fault what you do to her, since you’re just responding to her advertisement.

What a tool.  What an utter tool.  If you made, passed on, or agree with this meme, then I want you to go to your room and repeat the following words until you understand them:

Women are human beings who have rights, just like me.  A woman might dress in ways that I personally find immodest, but that does not allow me or anyone else to disrespect, abuse, or harm her.  I should stop perpetuating the idea that women are responsible for all the evils that befall them.

When you understand what’s wrong with this meme, you can come out of your room.