Racism In America: Still Being Ignored


There must be a class somewhere for beginning meme-makers called “How to Lend Your Meme A Veneer of Edginess or Subversiveness Without Actually Saying Anything Edgy or Subversive”.  Its entire curriculum looks like this:

Use an image of a person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.

If I had a nickel for every Guy Fawkes meme I’ve seen whose author believes he is laying down some woke truth, but is really just recycling stale old cynicism, I’d have…I don’t know…a couple bucks at least.  I suppose it is fitting that the likeness of Fawkes accompanies memes like this; after all, Guy Fawkes’s failed plot to overturn the hierarchy of English royalty is somewhat analogous to this meme’s failed attempt to blow the lid off of the media’s alleged complicity in promoting racial divisiveness.  Still, I have to laugh at the credibility boost that the author clearly thinks he is getting by using a picture of a person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.  He thinks he’s glimpsed the truth.  I think the eye holes in the mask should be cut a bit wider.

The racial divide in this country is caused by racism, full stop.  You could argue that certain media outlets bear a fraction of the responsibility for increasing racial tensions in the United States, but it’s not like the media invented racism.  Racism has been a part of our national conversation since Day One.  Racism exists in every dark corner of our society, and there are a lot of dark corners.

When the nebulous entity known as The Media does what it’s supposed to do, it shines a light into those dark corners.  It exposes racism where it hides, and that’s a good thing.  Like vampires and other vitality-sucking monsters, racism withers in the light.  The media should not be excoriated for leading a national discussion on racism; it ought to be encouraged.  We the people should not look away and curse the media when it brings us stories of horrible human suffering brought on by bigotry; we should huddle close and listen as intently as we can.  We should ask how we can help, how we can be better, how we can end the cruelty.

People blame the media for promoting a racial divide because they want the media to stop talking about racism.  I can almost understand why: if you’re a person of privilege who has never experienced direct racism, it can be a very uncomfortable thing to talk about.  It absolutely should be uncomfortable – it is an unsavory topic – but that does not excuse us from talking about it.  Contrary to the implication of this meme and others I’ve dissected, racism will not disappear if we all ignore it.

In the interest of stymieing the meme maker’s effort to stunt racial communication, here is a brief list of talking points I think the media should encourage every American to discuss:

  1. Racism is a real and driving force in modern-day America.  It did not die with slavery.  It did not end with the repeal of Jim Crow laws.  It did not end when Barack Obama was elected president.  It continues to exist.  Denying the existence of racism, or claiming that racism is a myth propagated by the media to sell air time, is not helpful.
  2. Racism is present in both people and in institutions.  A person’s racism may be countered by thoughtful dialogue and education, but institutional racism can only be curbed by sweeping systemic changes from within.  Acknowledging one but ignoring the other is not helpful.
  3. Institutional racism is a power structure that can only be wielded by those who have historically held positions of power.  In this country, that includes white men and…that’s all.  Comments like “But black people are racist too!” or “All lives matter!” are not helpful.
  4. Minorities who claim to have been the victims of racism – in any form – should be listened to.  Their claims should not be discarded out of hand.  Terms like “playing the race card” are not helpful.
  5. Peaceful protests against racist institutions are not a threat to civilized society.  Making people uncomfortable is not a crime, it is exactly the point of peaceful protests.  Explicit or implied threats of violence against protestors – even if made in jest – are dangerously unhelpful.  Bringing up every bad thing that has happened during an initially-peaceful protest, as if that serves as some kind of argument against protest in general, is also not helpful.

It’s a start.  It’s more of a start than this meme’s author is willing to make, anyway.

You Cannot Successfully Argue Against That Which You Do Not Understand


The image used for this execrable meme is a variation of the March of Progress image, which first appeared in the Time-Life Books’ series Life Nature Library in the 1965 volume Early Man.  The image is meant to depict 25 million years of humanity’s evolutionary history, starting with ape-like ancestors and proceeding to more recognizably human forms.

Much criticism has been lobbed at the March of Progress image because it portrays human evolution as a linear chain of ancestors and descendants instead of as a “copiously branched bush”, to quote evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould.  To be fair, the authors understood that this straight-line progression was inaccurate – they noted as much in the details.  Apparently the devil’s not into details, though; the descendants of the original image come disclaimer-free, which leads to the erroneous impression that this is truly what anthropologists think human evolution looked like.  This misleading, over-simplified image is perfect fodder for Creationists who don’t wish to be bothered with all the subtle intricacies of evolution.

We’ll talk more about the discrepancies between the Creationist model of evolution and the scientific model of evolution in just a moment, but first I have a quibble about the author’s two uses of the word millions.  In neither case is it appropriate.

I assume the author believes the first animal in this line-up is a modern chimpanzee.  (It’s not.)  The Jane Goodall Institute of Canada estimates that there are fewer than 150,000 chimpanzees left in the wild.  There may be a few thousand living in zoos or in laboratories around the world, but there is absolutely no way to justify the claim that Earth still contains millions of chimpanzees.

Nor that it contains millions of humans.  As of now, there are about 7.46 billion humans on Earth, according to the World Population ClockBillion, not million.  I suppose you could argue that a billion is bigger than a million, and that it is therefore permissible to describe the human population in terms of many millions.  But I object to such careless usage, and particularly in this case, because it implies that the chimp population and the human population are within an order of magnitude of each other.  They are not.

Of course, any discussion of chimpanzee population is rendered irrelevant by the fact that the animal on the left is not a freaking chimpanzee!  This is a point that Creationists cannot ever seem to fathom: at no point in a reputable biology textbook does it say that humans evolved from chimpanzees.  We would not expect to see any transitional species between humans and chimps, because chimps did not transition into humans, nor will they.

Let’s be clear: whatever creature the image on the left represents is dead, and has been for millions of years.  It is not a modern chimpanzee.  So where do modern chimps fit into our evolutionary lineage?  They don’t.  Modern chimps are nowhere in humanity’s evolutionary history, in the same way that your cousin is not part of your ancestry.  There was a species millions of years ago that appears in the evolutionary history of both humans and chimps, but…and I really must emphasize this…that species is long gone.  It was a branching point between two diverse future groups, but it no longer exists.

The “Between” species mentioned in this meme are not half-human, half-chimp abominations that ought to still be running around.  They are…were…nodes in the evolutionary tree leading up to the tip of the branch that represents Homo sapiens.  Each node may have given rise to myriad daughter species – unfortunately most of them met extinction, which is the eventual fate of every evolutionary lineage.  Our sister and cousin species are no longer on this planet except in the form of fossils.  If you wish to hold an extended family reunion, you must do so in a museum.

Evolution is true, a fact that is not in doubt to anybody who has invested the time to study it without a preconceived desire to see it dismantled.  The Theory of Evolution is not scientists’ way of expressing doubts about the validity of biological evolution (just as the existence of a Theory of Gravity does not indicate that scientists are uncertain about whether gravity is real).  It is a robust, well-supported model that attempts to explain how evolution occurs.  The saddest part of all this is that the author of this meme probably thinks himself terribly clever, while his gross misunderstanding of evolution reveals that he is anything but.

Remember the Signs


I have no intention of voting for Donald Trump on November 28 November 8.

Contain your shock.

I know some people are planning to vote for Trump.  I have no idea why they would want to do such a thing, but they have their unfathomable reasons, and they’re entitled to their vote.  Such is the nature of democracy.

And I know that Trump has said some pretty heinous things – things that could be interpreted as inciting his followers to engage in voter intimidation at the polls.  He has said things that indicate he has no respect for the election process.  He has said things that we should never accept from any citizen, let alone a candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

If you find Trump’s behavior as deplorable as I do, then you must wag your finger at anybody sharing this meme.

And why?  Because this meme is written in such a way that, without much difficulty, a reasonable person could construe it as a threat.  I’m not saying it definitely is a threat, but it’s vague enough to fall into that “potentially menacing” zone.

Remember when Donald Trump suggested that the “Second Amendment people” could do something to halt Hillary Clinton’s imaginary crusade against gun rights?  Remember how Trump’s ardent defenders said that the comment was not meant to be a threat, and that Trump was merely encouraging gun rights advocates to vote against Hillary Clinton?  Even if you accepted that explanation, it must still have stuck somewhere in your intellect that this statement – perhaps by design – carried a threatening undercurrent.

Or maybe you remember when Donald Trump encouraged Russia to engage in cyber-espionage against Hillary Clinton.  Again, Trump’s surrogates and disciples rushed to do damage control, but the fact remains: Trump, by his own words and actions, has painted himself as a man who is willing to sink to the lowest of depths in pursuit of his personal ambitions.

We, the people who seek to block Donald Trump from sitting in the Oval Office, must be better than this.  When Donald Trump and his supporters go low, we must go high.  This meme is not better than Trump.  Although the meme carries no face-value threat, it has an unmistakably aggressive tone.  It is, in essence, the kind of meme that Trump would encourage his supporters to share.  We cannot simultaneously blast everything we hate about Trump while sharing memes like this one.  It smacks of hypocrisy.

If you absolutely must share a meme addressed to Trump supporters, try this one instead:


P.S. I know there are some Trump supporters out there just itching to tell me how horrible Clinton is.  Secretary Clinton’s merits as a Presidential candidate are not really the topic of this post.  Be sure to review my Comment/Troll Policy before proceeding; it will be strictly enforced.

Get Vaccinated Against Inanity


This is a manifestation of what I call the “Truther” syndrome – that malady that causes somebody with incomplete (or non-existent) knowledge of a topic to assume that they are nevertheless an expert, and that they are capable of making pronouncements on the topic that are every bit as relevant as those of bona fide experts.  Whenever a person says “Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams”, or “Astronauts cannot survive passing through the Van Allen radiation belts,” or “Unvaccinated children don’t pose a threat to vaccinated children”, he or she is exhibiting symptoms of “Truther” syndrome.  Unfortunately, there seems to be no cure for this puzzling ailment, or more precisely, the twin treatments that might be successful – rigorous study and critical thought – are often rejected by the patient.

For those who already recognize the insipid stupidity of this meme, let’s give you a booster shot.  Vaccines, as you know, are injections filled with weakened or dead pathogens.  The idea is simple: your body mounts an immune response to the non-threatening germs, which it then “remembers” for future use.  If you ever do encounter a live version of the bug in question, your body has a ready-made defensive line already in place.  In theory, your body can defeat the invaders before you ever get sick.

Not every disease has a vaccine, of course – as of now, there still isn’t a vaccine for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), dengue fever, or malaria, to name just a few of the more serious afflictions that may befall a human being.  And of course, those vaccines that do exist have varying levels of effectiveness.  Generally speaking, vaccines successfully immunize their recipient between 95 and 99 percent of the time; in other words, for every 100 people that receive a particular vaccine, 95 to 99 will be protected from that disease should they ever be exposed to the germ that causes it.

But that still leaves 1 to 5 people who aren’t protected by vaccines.  For various reasons, vaccines simply don’t take for some people.  Those people for whom a certain vaccine is not effective – or who are too young to receive the vaccine – or who are allergic to ingredients used in the vaccine – or whom haven’t been vaccinated long enough to reap the full benefits of the vaccine – rely on herd immunity to protect them.

People are social animals who tend to live in big germ-swapping groups.  If a lot of people in a population are immune to a disease, that prevents the disease from establishing a toehold in the community.  In other words, the vaccinated members of a community provide a wall for the unvaccinated; however, there must be a sufficiently large number of vaccinated people to prevent the disease from spreading.  The more infectious the disease, the more vaccinated people are needed to establish herd immunity.  For a disease like measles, herd immunity requires that about 95% of a population be vaccinated.

Vaccines do work most of the time.  They are certainly right up there with hand-washing as a means of preventing the spread of disease.  In the few instances where they don’t work, however, a person needs to be surrounded by others who can shield him or her.  To refuse to vaccinate yourself and your children based on groundless fears amounts to anti-social behavior.  Your “Truther” syndrome, against which you failed to vaccinate yourself by learning to think critically, will result in physical maladies and possibly even death for other people.  There is no sense in anybody dying from a preventable disease, but that is exactly what anti-vaxxer attitudes have led to.

Word Bullets


You probably know at least one person on your friends list who spends his time griping about political correctness and outrage culture.  This person uses words like triggered and safe space mockingly, and bemoans the fact that those darn kids are being raised as emotion-saturated pansies.  Hell, you might even be that person (in which case: welcome!  What brings you to my blog?)

This attitude is not new.  The idea that the most recent generation is somehow worse than their ancestors goes back at least as far as the Bible, and probably further than that.  Each generation of humans has examined their progeny and found them wanting.  They were either too lazy, or too drug-addicted, or too peace-loving, or, in the case of the current youth, too sensitive, for their own good.  Those of us who have passed the hurdle of emotional maturity gaze upon the youth and shake our heads forlornly.  What is the world coming to?

Of course it’s all a matter of perspective.  We who have inherited the mantle of maturity seldom recall that we were once the feckless youth scorned by our parents’ generation.  We were once thought of as idealistic, shiftless, poorly prepared to meet the rigors of the modern world.

Still, when we compare any modern generation with the brave youth upon whose shoulders the success of D Day rested, we must certainly conclude that we have lost a certain toughness, right?  Aren’t today’s youth a bunch of whiny, sheltered brats compared to the all-balls commandos who ran into the jaws of death in defense of freedom?

In my mind, it’s not a fair comparison.  The 18-year-olds who stormed Normandy were put into an extraordinary situation.  And they were afraid.  Who wouldn’t be?  They were seasick, and terrified, and in many cases they had just recently left boot camp.  For a large portion of them, this would be their first combat experience, and they were well aware that it might be their last.

No surprise, then, that many of the survivors of D Day left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition known as combat stress reaction (CSR) in 1944.  The typical response to CSR was to give the soldiers a few days’ rest, after which they were frequently returned to war zones.  Little thought was given to extensive psychiatric care or prevention.  As a result, veterans from WWII and other combat situations bore the weight of their psychological trauma for decades.  When the movie Saving Private Ryan opened in 1998, the ultra-realistic D Day invasion scene at the start of the film made some WWII veterans unable to finish watching it.

We’ve come a long way since D Day, thankfully.  We understand now that people’s psyches can be damaged by situations far less traumatic than war.  Psychologists acknowledge that words can hurt as badly as sticks and stones; in fact, they’ve probably always had that power.

In the “glory days” which the author of this meme apparently pines for (when men were men and women were silent), peoples’ feelings were being hurt by the words and actions of their peers… and these people were told to hush and bottle their emotions inside, no matter the psychological cost.  They were told, explicitly or implicitly, that their feelings were unimportant, and that they were probably just over-reacting anyway.

It is not a bad thing for people to express their emotions, nor should it be a reason for mockery if a person seeks to protect his emotional well-being.  It is not your responsibility or your right to determine whether somebody’s reaction is warranted or not, Mr Meme Maker.  If you do not require emotional support and the occasional “safe space” of which you are so disdainful, then kudos to you.  How about you not be a jerk to those who do?  We’d all like to grow up as emotionally healthy as we possibly can.

Quick Memes, Part 4

It’s time to clear out the Stupid Bad Memes hopper once again: here are a few more memes that are irritating, but not irritating enough to write an entire post about.  If you missed them, check out parts 1, 2, and 3 of this “series”.


First, a grammar quibble:  do not use an apostrophe when making words plural.

Second: Women aren’t meat.  Unless you are a vegan/vegetarian, meat is something you consume, at the expense of another creature.  To equate a woman’s body with meat is to say that she is something to be used, to be devoured.  A man who thinks of a woman as meat believes that she exists solely for his enjoyment.  If you’re interested in reading more about the connection between sexism and meat consumption from a feminist-vegetarian perspective, you should read The Sexual Politics of Meat, by Carol J. Adams.

Third: body shaming works both ways.  I understand and respect the push-back against shaming curvy people, but I don’t think the appropriate response is to shame skinny people (which I assume was the purpose of the hideous statement “Bones are for dog’s” [sic]).  Everybody needs love and acceptance, regardless of body type.  Furthermore, the male of the species should not be separated into dogs and men based on their sexual proclivities.  Some men like skinny women, some men like curvy women, some men like other men, some men like everybody, some men like nobody.  Let’s not band men (or women) into false dichotomies for the purpose of a stupid meme.

And while we’re on the topic of attraction…


No.  Just no.

Nowhere in feminist theory does it say that a man cannot be attracted to a woman based on her looks, nor that a man who doesn’t find a particular woman attractive is shallow.  The only thing feminists would request is that regardless of whether you find a woman attractive or not, you treat her with the same basic respect and dignity you would show to men.

Anti-feminists like to pretend that the feminist agenda is to subjugate men by placing them in no-win situations, but we know that’s not true.  Feminism has never been about subjugating anybody, but in achieving equality across the board.  Why does a movement interested in equality call itself the feminist movement, then?  Because historically, women have been victimized, subjugated, and de-humanized to a far greater extent than men.  In a society where men rule, women are often second-class citizens.  Feminism aims to correct this imbalance, not to turn the tables on men.


On the lighter side, we have this bit of fluff.

Those of us who have the privilege of education know that privilege is spelled with two I‘s.

We assume there is one Universe (for lack of direct evidence to the contrary).  Also, as per the decision of the International Astronomical Union in 2006, our solar system contains only eight planets.  Sorry Plutophiles!  But if we’re considering the entire Universe, then there seem to be uncountable zillions of planets.  Nevertheless, the abundance of planets in the Universe has little to do with you meeting your true love.  Every human in the Universe lives right here on Earth.  If you haven’t met your soulmate yet, take heart; he or she is definitely within 13,000 kilometers of you.  On the scale of the Universe, that’s less than a stone’s throw.

The number of coutries, islands, and seas really depends on how you define each term.  For example, as of 2016 there are 195 officially recognized countries, but I suppose that’s a matter of politics.  Also, there are well over 809 islands in the world, especially if you include river and lake islands, but a great many of them are uninhabited and therefore unlikely to be the site where you meet your life partner.  And that whole 7 seas business has to go; we’re not ancient mariners here.

So it’s fine to create a romantically-inspired meme, but please…do your homework.


Did you know you can write sentences without capitalizing the first letter of every word and we’ll still be able to read them (no matter how much we wish we couldn’t)?

An immigrant is a person who goes to live permanently in a foreign country, regardless of whether they followed legal channels or not.  Somebody who swims across a river in pursuit of a better life is just as much an immigrant as somebody who files paperwork.

This is a poor analogy, and the author’s high school English teacher must be very disappointed.  For the most part, immigrants are not coming to the United States to take something you worked hard for.  On the contrary, studies show that undocumented immigrant workers actually improve the financial situations of documented and native workers.  Unlike the common thief who breaks into your home and steals your jewelry, immigrants provide valuable services as well as ethnic and cultural diversity.  That’s why I think that instead of trying to tighten immigration laws, we ought to consider fast-tracking the naturalization process.  Even the most hardened anti-immigrant bigots ought to appreciate the value of having more hard-working, tax-paying citizens in our communities, right?


Those are not mutually exclusive things.  Suppose a bank robber manages to escape with the loot mere seconds before the police arrive.  Would you say that he got lucky, or would you contend that God helped him out?

On the other side of that coin, suppose a pious man is walking to church when he is struck and killed by a car.  Is this bad luck, or does God have it in for him?

If you believe in God, that’s fine.  It’s your choice, after all.  But it seems silly to me to assume that the existence of God precludes the existence of luck.  Sometimes good (and bad) things happen without the agency of a higher power.  If you claim that all instances of so-called luck are really the mysterious and unseen movements of a loving, divine being, then you must be prepared to explain the fact that (A) sometimes bad people have good luck, and (B) sometimes good people have bad luck.



We’ll discuss the overt sexism in this meme soon enough, but first I have a few quibbles with the grammar and with the illustration.

I’m pretty sure the meme should read “45% fewer car accidents”.  Generally, you use fewer when you are talking about things that can be enumerated, and less when you’re talking about things that cannot.  For example, I’d like to see fewer stupid sexist memes, and I would be happy if this particular meme contained less stupidity.

Also…there appears to be some kind of steel wall between the front and back seats of this car.  There is clearly a mirror, but it is rendered useless by the lack of rear visibility.  Surely this poor car design will contribute more to accidents than any other factor.

Now then…the message behind this idiotic meme is that men could drive more safely if their female passengers would just, you know, shut up.  Apparently, female chatter accounts for a whopping forty-five percent of all traffic accidents, which makes me wonder why they never warned us about riding with women when I took driver’s ed.  Apparently the feminist agenda machine got to my school before they could tell us the truth.

Now it is true that the leading cause of car accidents is distracted drivers, and the chatter of passengers is a source of distraction; however, many drivers are also distracted by talking on the phone, texting, eating, grooming, and reading, and none of those distractions are depicted here.  I find it interesting that the author of this meme thought that the only way to silence passengers – and in particular female passengers – is to physically gag them.  How typical.  How disgusting.


Sherbet.  Sherbet.  Sherbet.  There is only one R in sherbet.

That’s all for now.  Good night everybody!

Woke Enough


In the fifteen years since terrorists allegedly hijacked passenger planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, there has been no shortage of self-appointed scientists stating emphatically that the events of 9/11 could not have transpired according to the official account.  And thank goodness for these stalwart champions of truth; they have let nothing – not logic, not contradictory evidence, not even good taste – waylay their march to expose the lies behind the events of September 11, 2001.  These truthsayers, whose unique perspective allows them to get it while the rest of the world is mired in ignorance, continue to illuminate the events of that tragic day in the form of memes.  And as we all know, memes are the most reliable source of information available on the Internet.

What would we do without the 9/11 “Truth” movement and its truth-spewing memes?  Without “Truthers”, who would remind us that jet fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt steel beams?  And when structural engineers, who mistakenly believe themselves to be experts because of their years of education and practical experience, tell us that the steel beams in the WTC didn’t need to melt in order to bring the towers crashing down, who but a “Truther” has the temerity to stand up to those so-called experts’ superior knowledge and call them out?  God bless “Truthers” for their unwavering ability to ignore evidence that doesn’t suit their preferred narrative.

The “Truthers” – no doubt inspired by a bevy of conspiracy-fueled websites such as The Free Thought Project, AboveTopSecret, and Infowars – shed light where officials would prefer darkness.  For example, these tireless terriers of truth uncovered the shocking reality that the World Trade Center towers were designed to withstand an airplane impact even more severe than the ones that actually brought them down (according to our reptilian overlords).  And how do the dastardly government apologists explain that damning fact?

One sycophant – the maintainer of 911Myths.com – claims that there is quite a bit of discrepancy in reports about how much of an impact the towers were designed to withstand.  Leslie Robertson, the lead structural engineer of the WTC (and probably also a spineless sheep who accepts the government’s account of 9/11 without question!) says that he performed a calculation during the 1960’s showing that the towers could withstand a direct impact by a Boeing 707 moving at about 180 miles per hour.  The assumption was that the airplane would be lost in thick fog and would accidentally strike one of the buildings while approaching JFK or Newark for landing.  The extended damage caused by a large jet fuel fire was not taken into account because (A) the effects of that kind of fire on a skyscraper’s internal structure were not well-understood at the time, and (B) a landing airplane would probably be low on fuel anyway.  Robertson never actually claimed that the towers would hold up under a 9/11-type attack.

Ha!  Nice try, Leslie, but your qualified calculations won’t throw real “Truthers” off the track.  They’ve picked up the scent of another report, filed by the Port Authority around the same time, indicating that the towers were perfectly capable of withstanding a direct hit from an airplane traveling at 600 mph.  That’s even faster than the alleged airplanes that allegedly hit the towers traveling at 470 to 590 alleged miles per hour.  What do you say about that?

According to non-“Truthers” (i.e. sheeple), the Port Authority trumped up the results of Robertson’s study in order to silence critics of the WTC project.  You see, in 1945 and 1946, airplanes accidentally crashed into the Empire State Building and 40 Wall Street, respectively, resulting in 22 deaths.  In both cases, fog was blamed (although to be honest, the New World Order probably created the fog that blinded the pilots.)  Critics were fearful that the WTC towers, being taller and broader, would present an even greater risk for low-visibility plane crashes.  Apparently, the Port Authority, anxious to see the already over-budget project completed, felt that Robertson’s numbers were not soothing enough, and decided to go for gold by falsely reporting that the towers were more than safe enough to withstand any kind of impact speed that could possibly be produced by a passenger plane.

An un-woke sheeple might think that 9/11 “Truthers” are ignoring the results of Robertson’s calculation and focusing on the Port Authority’s faulty report because, you know, it’s more convenient for their conspiracy theory.  But of course, that’s all poppycock.  The Port Authority was right, structural engineer Robertson was wrong, and Bush did 9/11!  I don’t even want to imagine a world in which 9/11 “Truthers” were not around to remind us of this, repeatedly, on the anniversary of that horrific tragedy.


Stupidity Is NOT A Social Construct

Hillary's Selling Point

As we rush headlong into the 2016 election season, it should come as no surprise that armchair pundits are cranking out politically-themed memes at an increasing pace.  It probably also comes as no surprise that Stupid Bad Memes has a decidedly leftist slant, which means that I am far more likely to write about memes sneezed out by right-wingers than I am to cover memes created by liberal-minded folks like myself.  Still, I try to be fair.  If I were to discover a left-leaning meme that misconstrued the opposition’s beliefs or political motivations as badly as this meme does, I like to think I would be fair-minded enough to write about it.  It’s just that…well…I haven’t seen such a meme.  I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist, I just haven’t come across it in my Internet travels.  Until I do, we’re stuck talking about this heap of garbage.

Like a Creationist riding an elevator, this meme is wrong on several levels.  Let’s start with the meme’s opening premise: leftists believe gender is just a social construct.  That’s not necessarily true.  For one, the term leftist could be applied to a broad set of political and social philosophies, not all of which are receptive to the idea that gender roles are socially defined.  Furthermore, the idea that gender is a social construct is not exclusively leftist property.  Let’s parse these ideas a bit and see what, if any, overlap exists between them.

A leftist, or left-winger, is a person who generally advocates for social equality.  He or she believes that social hierarchies create a system of advantage vs disadvantage, and that these structures should be reduced or eliminated as much as possible.  Radical leftists favor no less than the complete overhaul of the social and political systems that maintain the status quo.

What does it mean to say that gender is a social construct?  It means that gender roles are influenced as much by social expectations as they are by differences between the biological sexes – if not more so.  Our idea about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior for each gender evolves from our socialization.  This concept is espoused by many modern sociologists and psychologists, regardless of their political leanings.

Do not misunderstand me: I am not saying that all gender differences are socially constructed (although many conservatives falsely present this as the liberal viewpoint), just that the expectations of genders are socially constructed.  Society determines what is appropriate behavior for boys and girls from an early age.  Early gender socialization informs our expectations going forward.  These expectations have no doubt led to the sociopolitical furor surrounding trans men and women, who don’t fit into a rigid gender dichotomy.  Their rising visibility has forced society to deal with that – in many cases painfully.  But that is a conversation for another meme.

Now let’s leap to the meme’s thrilling conclusion: that Hillary Clinton’s only selling point is her gender.  This is an unabashedly sexist viewpoint to take, but it’s hardly unexpected from the kind of person who would intentionally misrepresent gender socialization as an exclusively leftist philosophy.  Now I don’t intend to spend the remainder of this post extolling the virtues of Hillary Clinton, but I think it is short-sighted and mean-spirited to say that her only claim to legitimacy as a Presidential candidate is the fact that she is a cis-woman.  Many pundits, including republicans, have admitted in no uncertain terms that Clinton is at least qualified for the job of POTUS, and some have offered their support.  Those hardly seem like the actions of people who think that Hillary Clinton’s only selling point is her gender.

I can only assume that when the author wrote SAVAGE AF at the bottom of the meme, he was using the historical definition of savage: primitive and uncivilized.  That’s the only appropriate way to describe this meme.

Realism Exposed

Rude Friends

The author of this meme says that your jerkwad friend is a realist.  I’m pretty sure this is a hilarious typo, but let’s examine the implications of the author’s bold assertion nonetheless.

Ted: “You know, Bob, your friend Tony is quite rude!”

Bob: “I know, but he assesses situations realistically and makes rational and appropriate decisions based on his assessments.”

See, that doesn’t quite work.  Maybe the author had a different meaning of realist in mind.

Ted: “You know, Bob, your friend Tony is quite rude!”

Bob: “I know, but he’s a painter who portrays his subject matter realistically.”

No, that doesn’t seem to work either.  I’m going to wager that the author meant to use the word realest, as in most real.  What does it mean to be real?  From a philosophical standpoint, it means that your feelings of existence are justified.  So, your realest friend is the one least likely to be a hallucination…I guess.  According to this meme, your realest friend is also a giant asshole.

Ted: “You know, Bob, your friend Tony is quite rude!”

Bob: “I know.  That’s how I know he exists, you figment of my imagination.”

Ted: “What? I’m not a figment of your imagination, you idiot!”

Bob: “Okay, now you’re real.”

Ted: “Thank you, Bob.  It’s quite nice of you to say that.”

Bob: “Oh no!  I’m not real!”  *poofs out of existence*

All silliness aside, I know exactly what the author is trying to say.  He’s saying that if your friend is terminally tactless, it’s just because he is being honest with himself and with others.  Personally, I don’t buy that.  I do not accept that humanity’s default setting is asshole, and that civility and politeness are merely masks to disguise our true selves.  Being genuine and being polite are not mutually exclusive.

In my opinion, this meme might be shared by a person who, instead of working on his social skills and becoming more of a people person, would rather write off his rudeness as a side effect of his Earth-shattering realness.  I’ll tell you what’s real: if you are rude all the time, even to those you call friends, that is a character deficit.  The grown-up approach would be to improve your personality, not try to disguise yourself as honest.


Gun Lies

Hillary v Washington

If you believe this meme, Hillary Clinton is a threat to Americans’ Second Amendment rights.  Thing is, you definitely shouldn’t believe this meme.  Every part of it is a lie.

Let’s start with the alleged statement made by Presidential candidate Clinton.  I deployed my considerable resources in a comprehensive fact-gathering mission to determine the veracity of this quote…I’m just kidding; I Googled it.  And do you know what I found?  If you’re the person who put together this meme, I’m going to guess the answer is no.

I found that the Clinton quote is completely fabricated, according to the urban legend debunking website Snopes.com, who rated this claim false:

…the link included with the above-displayed meme didn’t lead to a page containing Clinton’s purported quote. Additionally, a search of the Des Moines Register‘s archives yielded no results for the phrase in question. In fact, this utterance was absent from all major news publications.

We looked into a handful of memes posted by the “Shocking Hillary Clinton Quotes …” Tumblr page and found that the provided source links never matched up with the purported quotes.

And let’s not just take Snopes’s word for it.  The fact-checking website Politifact.com called this fabricated quote “Pants on Fire”, saying:

Clinton campaigned heavily in Iowa throughout the summer and fall of 2015, and Register reporters and the paper’s editorial board interviewed her several times. But she was not in Iowa on Aug. 8, when she allegedly made the statement. Clinton’s first visit to Iowa in the month of August occurred on Aug. 14, followed by public events on Aug. 15 and Aug. 26.

A review of the Register’s archives show Clinton was neither interviewed nor quoted directly on Aug. 8 or in the days immediately following.

It is well known that Hillary Clinton does support stronger gun control laws, including broader background checks, especially at gun shows.  She also proposes restricting gun sales to domestic abusers and the mentally ill.  At no point, however, has she publicly called for banning all handguns or dismantling the NRA.

Now let’s talk about George Washington, the man who, according to myth, could not tell a lie.  Too bad the author of this meme didn’t follow his example.

Politifact weighs in on this quote as well.  Spoiler alert: it’s made up.  According to Politifact, Edward Lengel, editor-in-chief of the Papers of George Washington project at the University of Virginia, says “there is no evidence that Washington ever wrote or said these words, or any like them.”  Lengel then says that while it’s impossible to prove a negative, he’s quite certain that the quote did not originate from George Washington.

What was Washington’s stance on gun ownership, while we’re on the topic?  In George Washington’s own words (his real words, taken from his first State of the Union address in 1790):

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies. (emphasis mine)

Washington experts agree that the first President was referring to a trained militia for defending the new nation, and for national self-sufficiency in creating military supplies.  Lengel explains:

The idea of resistance to tyranny being dependent on a nation of gun-wielding individuals acting at their own behest or even on local initiative would have been anathema to Washington.  Indeed, during the (Revolutionary) war he very frequently lamented the crimes carried out by armed civilians or undisciplined militia against their unarmed neighbors. The solution to these crimes, as he understood it, was to increase the power of the government and the army to prevent and punish them — not to put more guns in the hands of civilians.

If you are in favor of looser gun control laws, it seems that George Washington might not be your primary source for inspirational quotes.

I’m not telling you this to sway your vote, by the way.  To paraphrase a meme from long ago, I don’t care if you don’t like Hillary Clinton – or any political candidate – but I do care if the reason why is a lie.  In fact, I mind it very much if any of your political opinions are based on lies.  Do some research, and make sure you know exactly whom and what you are voting for – as much as it is possible to know – when you step into the booth.  You owe your fellow Americans that much.