Saturday salmagundi

• Tony Jones picks A Year of Biblical Womanhood as his 2012 Theoblogy Book of the Year:

AYoBW was also a touchstone in the religious publishing industry. She was public and honest about the development of her book, about how she pushed her publishing house, Thomas Nelson editorially, and how Thomas Nelson ultimately stood up to Lifeway (Southern Baptist) Bookstores. For authors like me, whose theology and language are sometimes unsavory to the evangelical border guards, Rachel’s stand was a defining moment.

• Richard Wade’s thoughts on “evangelism vs. sales” seem to parallel my own. He doesn’t use that language, but his post “An Alternative to the In-Your-Face Atheist Holiday Displays” echoes many of the same concerns I have with the “in-your-face” approach that many of my fellow Christians take.

• Ed Stetzer has a link-filled post of resources for anyone whose 2012 resolutions includes reading through the Bible in a year. Systems, apps, topical reading plans, etc.

Topical plans tend to produce topical readings. Devotional plans tend to produce devotional readings. I’m hoping to approach the familiar with fresh eyes, so my plan for next year is to go alphabetical: Acts, Amos, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Colossians, etc.

• Darrell Dow finds a fundie poem that begins “Twas the night before Rapture.” If you’ve ever wondered how Real, True Christians perceive what separates them from all the phony Christians who will be left behind, take a look at this sing-songy doggerel.

Mark Evanier linked to this list of “99 Life Hacks” on Wednesday. I read it Thursday. It’s Saturday and I’ve already used three of these.

• The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has published the findings of its massive survey on global religion:

The religiously unaffiliated, a group that has experienced marked growth in the United States, make up 16 percent of people worldwide, according to the Pew survey. With 1.1 billion people worldwide, the number of religious unaffiliated people is equal to the number of Catholics.

That means that the Pope of the Nones is just as powerful as Pope Benedict XVI.

• Libby Anne follows a series of posts about her local Unitarian Universalist congregation with a clarification:

I want to be very clear about something. When I write about starting to attend my local Unitarian Universalist congregation, I am not saying that everyone ought to be a Unitarian Universalist. Far from it. This is my blog, and here on my blog I share my journey. That’s all this is. Your journey is yours. Some of you like to listen along and read what I have to say, but I’m not trying to lay out any prescription everyone needs to follow.

That may just be the most Unitarian Universalist paragraph I’ve ever read. And it’s an excellent reminder of why I’m so fond of Unitarian Universalists.

• Fr. Jim Martin takes aim with “More Parables for Our Times: Not Your Grandma’s Prince of Peace.”

“You’re missing the point.” Jesus said. “It’s a violent world out there, and my advice is to purchase as many clubs as you can.”

• Phil Plait’s Best Astronomy Images of 2012. Wow.


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LBCF, No. 181: ‘Meet the Steeles’
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LBCF, No. 181: ‘Meet the Steeles’

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  • Holy crap is that ‘Twas the night before rapture’ poem vile.

    “I might risk my job,

    Make the boss mad at me;

    If the gospel I give,

    To that vile employee”

    Can’t even hide your contempt for your fellow man while talking about the importance of evangelizing to him?

    Let’s feed the homeless,

    And do our good deeds;

    It makes us feel good,

    To meet someone’s needs.

    Clutch the pearls! Those fake christians are *helping the needy*! How DARE they!

  • Daughter

    Fr. Jim Martin takes aim with “More Parables for Our Times: Not Your Grandma’s Prince of Peace.”

    Wow, just … wow.

  • Julian Elson

    “That means that the Pope of the Nones is just as powerful as Pope Benedict XVI.”

    Objection! Lack of affiliation is not a form of community, except to a very small extent. There is not even a hypothetical pope who would represent me and some Ayn Rand-quoting Objectivist atheist. I know that not all Catholics think alike either, obviously, but they do have a dogma, catechism, etc. Unaffiliated people don’t.

    Specific subgroups within the unaffiliated bloc may have a dogma, like Marxists or Randroid Objectivists or maybe even mainstream center-left liberal agnostic/atheists (perhaps with people like me (center-left liberal agnostic/atheist types) being so immersed in our dogma that we scarcely notice it?), but unaffiliated? That’s like saying that “theists” are a huge super-block by lumping together Catholics and Sunni and Shi’a and Protestants and… well, you get the idea.

  • Marshall

    Shouldn’t “nones” be pronounced to rhyme with “groans” according to English language usage? Should be “nons”. Although my spell-checker disagrees.

  • Andrea

     Gonna go with “no” here.

  • Julian- I think that was Fred’s point.

  • Amaryllis

     I already hear it in my head as Nones-rhymes-with-groans, and the first time I saw the phrase, I thought it was referring to the liturgical hours; certainly the Pope is the Pope of Nones. And if we pronounce it the other way, well, “none” and “nun” sound identical in my dialect of English: certainly the Pope is the Pope of the nuns.

    So yeah, if it was “nons” instead, that’d make sense to me.

  • “Yet that’s the way they did it,/When Grandma was a girl.” (All apologies to Peter Benchely’s grandfather Robert). 

  • Michele Cox

    One quick note on the life hacks – the only one I’d question is the “put your coaster over your drink when you go to the bathroom to signal that you’ll be back” — never, ever, ever, ever leave your drink unattended if you’re out in public. Just, no. Bad Plan.  All the rest of them though? Brilliant!

  • Dave Johnson

    Hi All,


    We really enjoy when comfortable bourgeois atheists talk about the apocalypse…

    Unfinished business

    Are these claims “falsifiable? Millions will see this.

    we’re not KIDDING


    get to the article on the APOCALYPSE – pg. 22

    no, 99% have failed! 

  • You know when you copied and pasted this exact same thing to my blog it would have made more sense if you did it to one of the various posts I had talking about the Mayan calendar instead of one talking about how my schooling was going.

  • banancat

    Do you suggest taking your drink into the bathroom with you? Also, I’m hour quite sure of your intent but rape prevention tips that don’t target potential rapists are not as helpful as you might think.

  • SisterCoyote

    No, they’re helpful.

    Look, I’m with you on that – we shouldn’t have to train people to avoid rape, we should tell people to stop raping. But the fact of the matter is, rapists are out there, and it’s actually really good to know things about how to protect yourself from them. The drink thing is really, really helpful.

    Generally, I ask a friend who I trust to watch my drink if I have to go pee, but if I walked away from it unattended in mixed company? Yeah, I would not come back and drink it. Coaster or otherwise.

  • banancat

    Oh, you really think that tired old trope is helpful? Setting aside that it’s touted so often that you’re less likely to find someone who hasn’t heard it than an evangelist is to find someone in the U.S. who hasn’t heard of Jesus, it is also a form of fear-mongering since that type of rape is one of the rarest kinds. It’s really just about victim-blaming and enforcing rape culture myths to focus on that without any similar hand-wringing about avoiding the much more common tactics of raplists.

    And seriously, if you go to bar alone, are you supposed to take your drink into the bathroom? That is more likely to result in harm than leaving it at the bar for 5 minutes.

  • SisterCoyote

    …seriously? Warning people not to leave their drinks unattended is victim-blaming?

    EDIT: Okay, on second thought I can kind of see how it could be. But… you’re wrong in that it’s all over the place. I hadn’t heard of it until fairly recently, and neither had any of my sisters. And I don’t think just mentioning it is focusing on it, and I don’t think there was any kind of hand-wringing going on. It’s a freaking thing to keep in mind, and just because it doesn’t happen as often as other types of rape doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    Also. If someone leaves their drink unattended, obviously no one should put anything in it. And if that happens, it doesn’t make it the victim’s fault, in any way, shape, or form. But downplaying drug-assisted rapes, getting hostile when someone points out an aid that plenty of people don’t know about isn’t going to help.

  •  That was *exactly* my thought….

  •  Rape prevention tips that target rapists aren’t all that helpful. Those people have a vested interest in not reducing rapes.

  • And what about opportunistic rapists? Guy who is acquaintances with a girl, notices she’s too loaded to think straight, and takes advantage of the situation and then excuses it after the fact with “she was asking for it”.

    People like that can be socially conditioned that NO that is NOT acceptable behavior. In fact I seem to recall seeing some ads in Great Britain that specifically target males who would otherwise probably exhibit that kind of behavior.

  • Mark Z.

    Huh. I thought Dennis Markuze was still in jail.

  • Lori

    Thank goodness I’m not the only one who noticed the resemblance.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s got a subtle kick to Rick Warren as well. Huh.

  • Lori

    And seriously, if you go to bar alone, are you supposed to take your drink into the bathroom?  

    Leaving one’s drink unattended and taking it into the bathroom are rather obviously not the only options. Unless it’s a major emergency you could go to the bathroom between drinks.


    That is more likely to result in harm than leaving it at the bar for 5 minutes.   

    What exactly are you picturing happening with the drink in the bathroom? I’ve taken a drink into a bar bathroom on more than one occasion (beach bars during college—we took our drinks everywhere we went because if you left it, it would not be there when you got back & we were too broke to lose booze we had paid for). Nothing bad ever happened. Certainly nothing remotely as bad as having someone slip rohypnol into it.

  • It’s not even necessarily about rape – drugging an unattended drink is a classic method for a number of crimes, including robbery and kidnapping, and has been for at least a hundred years before the invention of rohypnol. Sure, it’s uncommon – but so are the chances someone will rob your home if you leave the front door unlocked while you go on vacation, and you’re not likely to do *that*.

  • stardreamer42

    When pronounced that way, it refers to one of the services in the monastic daily ritual.

  • stardreamer42

     Just because theft is illegal doesn’t mean I’m going to leave my front door standing open when I go to the grocery. Yes, by all means we need anti-rape campaigns that target rapists, but that doesn’t remove the need to exercise due diligence and common sense!

  • Matri

    T’was the night before Rapture

    … O.o

  • Tonight’s Date Christian Women ad gives me a clue as to why I am invariably called a “slut” when I walk by the batshit street preachers. It’s because I’m a white woman with dark brown hair! All Christian white women have blonde hair, obviously!

    Seriously, wtf, why are they all blondes except for the ONE woman of color.

  • Rape prevention tips that target women are not one bit helpful. The only way not to be raped is never to be in a room with a rapist/rapists who at that moment decide to rape you.

    Of course, if your goal is to make women frightened constantly, so frightened that I know women who will not leave the house without a man, and if your goal is to blame victims for being raped as if it’s a natural event or something, then they work great!

  • And what about opportunistic rapists?

    Which the vast majority of rapists are. Acquaintances, family members, friends.

    The likelihood of being raped by a stranger is extremely small. The likelihood of being raped by someone you know is huge. 

  • Just because theft is illegal doesn’t mean I’m going to leave my front door standing open when I go to the grocery.

    Because theft and rape are so very comparable!

    Except they are not. Stop it. I am not going to put a goddamn lock on various places on my body.

  • The other problem with comparing theft and rape is that when a person says they got robbed and admits they accidentally left the door open and the cops find out the next-door neighbor nicked the new TV set, accidentally leaving the residence unsecured doesn’t then create a Domino effect where the entire past history of the two folks’ interpersonal interactions allows the defence and/or the police to call into question the very fact of the robbery’s occurrence.

    I mean, it’s cut and dried.

    Your TV set having no feet of its own, could only be in the other person’s residence if either you lent it to them, or they stole it. And it’s usually pretty easy to deduce from ancillary evidence whether it was an actual theft or just a misreporting of theft.

    But a woman does one teensy thing that doesn’t fit the narrative of the “acceptable” rape victim and all the dudebros and neckbeards come pouring out of the goddamn woodwork feeling free to mansplain to us all that she couldn’t have really been raped in the first place and she’s just a spiteful bitch.

    Heaven forfend that a woman want to enjoy a beer or a wine without busting out a test kit every single time.

    A man who busted out a test kit to test every single drink would be considered odd and paranoid, because society doesn’t expect men to be beyond reproach when it comes to alleging that something has happened to them.

    But the fact that it’s considered a routine thing for a woman to have to bust out a test kit – one has to marvel at the notion that women should just accept being second-class citizens in their expectations about what gets served to them to consume over the course of a social evening*.

    * As one example of socially expected second-class-hood generally.

  • I personally have ever only known one woman who was slipped a drug in her drink. It was by a man with whom she’d been friends for years.

    Here is a sample of other rapists and sexual abusers whom I have known and known of through friends: someone’s stepfather. Someone’s grandfather. Someone’s teacher. Someone’s friend’s friend (and that one happened while I was actually in the room, I think I’m going to be eternally guilty for that, I had no clue what was going on). Someone’s boyfriend. Someone’s husband. Someone’s coworker.

    I know far more women who have been sexually assaulted than not. And yet, I know zero women who have been sexually assaulted by strangers.

  • Lori


    Rape prevention tips that target women are not one bit helpful. The only
    way not to be raped is never to be in a room with a rapist/rapists who
    at that moment decide to rape you.   

    The 2nd statement is absolutely true. The first does not follow from it. The fact that precautions are not and can’t be 100% effective does not make them useless. If that was the case abstinence only sex ed would be correct and wow, it’s really, really not.

    Yes, some people use rape prevention tips to terrify women and set up a nice, neat blame the victim. That doesn’t mean that making women aware is some evil conspiracy against women. I’ve never known anyone in the US who wouldn’t leave the house without a man, although I’ve known a couple who weren’t allowed to. I have known women who grew less afraid once they were armed with some information and skills that helped them protect themselves.

    There should not be any rapes. It is never acceptable or justified to have sex without consent. Rape is not the fault of the victim. I certainly don’t believe that I have ever done anything in my life that would make me deserve to be raped. I still don’t leave my drinks unattended in bars, I lock my doors at night, I park in places that are well-lit and I don’t ignore gut feelings that a situation or person  is not right or unsafe. Because there’s nothing that I can do to guarantee that I’ll never be raped, but there are things I can do to better my odds and I’m not ignoring that because some asshole might try to use it against me later.

  • Ross Thompson

    Quite apart from anything else that might be said on this topic, the most common date-rape drug (by several orders of magnitude) is alcohol. Would you recommend that women only ever drink non-alcoholic beverages when they’re out?

  • banancat

    Look, statistically, if you’re a woman and your friend is a man, you are less safe leaving your drink with him than leaving it completely unattended. So why no hand-wringing about leaving your drink with a male friend or relative? It’s almost as though these little tips have nothing to do with effectively reducing the risk of rape and have everything to do with reinforcing rape culture tropes.

  • SisterCoyote

    Obviously not. I would recommend that women do whatever the hell they feel like, and not get attacked for it, nor get blamed by anyone if they do get attacked. I would grab my friend’s arm and keep a very close eye on her if a guy had been buying her drinks all night, though.

    Yes, rape prevention is about telling rapists not to freaking rape. But I have a close friend who was raped by someone she had met a total of once, at a party. It wasn’t her fault, she couldn’t have prevented it, and he made that choice- not her. But can we please stop saying that just because a strategy of defense doesn’t help us, it’s useless and shaming and victim-blaming?

  • SisterCoyote

     Didn’t mean to leave the comment there.

    Look, I want to raise my kids in a world where there are no “Don’t do this or your chances of getting raped go up” tips, because ‘due diligence’ is basically ‘make sure your partner is actively consenting.’ And that is how I intend to raise my kids. But in the meantime, this world fucking sucks on that front. I don’t think it is a woman or man’s fault if someone slips a drug into their drink. It’s the fault of the person who put the damn drug in it. Obviously.

    I just don’t understand why “Sometimes people do this thing, be on your guard against it” is a bad thing to say. It’s freaking true. Sometimes people slip date rape drugs into drinks. Sometimes they wait until their target has gone to the bathroom. Kind of like saying “Sometimes if you’re out with a male friend or relative, they have bad intentions. Keep an eye on them.” It’s not a hard-and-fast rule everyone should obey, it’s advice to keep in mind.

  • The_L1985

     I think the best part is the implication that somehow they would know.

  • The_L1985

     Well, duh. :P

  • B

    “Would you recommend that women only ever drink non-alcoholic beverages when they’re out?”

    I drink alcoholic beverages when I’m out and so do most people I know.  But personally, I would recommend taking care with how much one drinks and in what company one drinks it in — to men as well as women.  Being very drunk can make one vulnerable to ending up in a wide variety of regrettable situations regardless of gender.

    But I admit that’s easy for me to say since I don’t especially enjoy drinking past a pleasant buzz myself.


    Personally, I find the new trend towards “the only useful anti-rape tips involve telling men not to rape” rather disempowering — implying that women are helpless victims and the only thing we can do to try to protect ourselves is beg men not to hurt us.  It’s true that you can never protect yourself 100% from rape (or any other bad thing in life), and it’s true that the perpetrator is the one at fault regardless of the circumstances, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to decrease the risk.

    Of course, YMMV.

  •  As I understand it, the theory is that when I (in a public forum) tell someone “Don’t leave your drink out unattended, because someone might slip a date rape drug in it,” I’m inevitably at the same time normalizing the slipping of date rape drugs into drinks, and thereby contributing more generally to the cultural acceptability of rape. 

    Which, I dunno, might even be true. It’s certainly true that reducing a prospective sexual partner’s ability to give or withhold meaningful consent by the use of drugs (including alcohol) is generally considered acceptable in our culture, so I don’t think it’s insanely unlikely. Though most people (and, thankfully, the law) do draw the line at covertly putting rohypnol in someone’s drink, so that’s something.

    Anyway, regardless of whether it’s true or not (and I haven’t actually seen much evidence either way), it’s a subject sufficiently associated with trauma for enough people that I endorse treading carefully around it. Not every true statement is useful or kind.

  • vsm

    Drugging someone’s drink requires premeditation. Thus, teaching women to never leave their drinks with male friends would mean teaching them to suspect all their male friends of planning to rape them. That would mean teaching women not to have male friends.

    Compared to that, not leaving one’s drink alone is pretty easy.

  • B

    Also, I have to say that as far as sanitation and drinks are concerned, I’m not sure that putting the coaster over the drink is especially good either, unless you’re taking a new coaster that hasn’t been sitting on the table/bar to do it with.  Otherwise you’re putting something that was touching the the bar in direct contact with the surface you’ll be putting your mouth on.

    Seems easier all around just to pee between drinks.

  • When I was a kid my father advised me never to leave my drink unattended (once I was old enough to drink) but the genesis of his advice wasn’t fear I’d be raped it was that he’d been spiked for a joke a couple of times in his youth and he wanted me to be aware of the risk.

    Then he pointed out that on the second occassion he’d been with his drink 100% of the time and some smurf had still managed to spike it without him seeing so you could never be 100% sure even then.

    But victim blaming is rife in our soceity (I think it makes people feel safer somehow) – it’s just especially egregious when it comes to sex crimes. And sex crimes are the only ones where the perpetrator might actually make a defence out of it and win.

  • Julian Elson

    Whoops. I should have read more closely.

  • P J Evans

    Otherwise you’re putting something that was touching the the bar in
    direct contact with the surface you’ll be putting your mouth on.

    Flip the coaster over when you put it on top of the glass.

  • When I was a kid, my older brother drilled it into my head regularly
    that when I was walking around Manhattan, it was important that I keep
    my wallet in my front pocket and keep my hands in my pocket, or else
    someone might steal my wallet. At first I often forgot to do this, but
    eventually it became a habit.

    Decades later, I notice that when I am out
    in crowds I still do this.

    I have no idea whether this actually reduces
    my chance of having my pocket picked. I do know that it’s never
    happened. (I’ve had my wallet stolen once, but I wasn’t even wearing my
    pants at the time.)

    That said, I have lost my
    wallet now and again. And each time that happened I backtracked and
    eventually found my wallet in the possession of someone who said “Ah,
    there you are! You forgot your wallet.” and handed it back to me.

    I’ve mostly learned that no, the majority of people
    in my environment aren’t going to steal my wallet given the opportunity,
    which is a nice thing to know. But I still keep my wallet in my front
    pocket with my hands over it when I’m in crowds, because it’s a habit
    and I don’t see the point of changing it, and it costs me nothing, and
    it might help.

    Years ago, I started hanging
    around with a friend who was, to my mind, extremely careless with her
    wallet. She would leave it on the table at restaurants while she went to
    the bathroom, for example. And I started noticing that this made me
    kind of anxious, from which I conclude that I really
    am worried about my wallet being stolen much of the
    time, even though I’m mostly unaware of it.

    I asked her, once,
    whether she was concerned that it might get stolen, and she replied that
    she was aware of the risk but didn’t consider it worth worrying about. I
    resolved not to bring it up again. She was a grownup and could make her
    own choices, whether I approved or not.

    wallet was never stolen, as far as I know. I suspect that, if it ever
    had been, the temptation to say “Well you were kind
    asking for it” would have been significant. I like to believe I would
    have resisted it.

    That said, the fact remains that I don’t
    approve of the way she dealt with her wallet; I don’t live that way
    myself; I would not encourage others to live that way if they asked my
    opinion. But I also don’t think she’s an idiot or a fool. She has all
    the same information I do, she’s as smart and competent as I am, and
    she’s entitled to make her own choices about how to take care of her
    wallet. Bringing up the subject on the off chance that she hadn’t
    thought about it is one thing, but repeatedly nagging her about it is
    something else again. And if some thief does steal her wallet some day,
    that’s the fault of the thief, who ought not have done it.

    I also
    leave my front door unlocked a lot of the time. My husband points out
    from time to time that this reduces the security of our house. I still
    do it.

    I’ve taken some general lessons from all of the above that I try to apply to threat assessment more generally. 

    big one is that when I find myself wanting to judge other people for
    how they respond to diffuse threats, I really ought to be aware as I do
    so of my own anxiety surrounding that threat, and the extent to which
    I’m projecting that anxiety onto other people. Which is harder than I might expect.

    big one is that if someone knows everything relevant that I know about a
    situation and is as qualified to draw their own conclusions as I am, I
    should accept their judgment of that situation as equally valid as my

    Another is that when other people are
    victimized by a threat about which I am anxious, the temptation to
    declare the victim culpable is significant, and I ought to resist it.

  • B

    Well, again, it’s all a question of what amount of risk you’re willing to accept.  If I knew a male friend well and trusted him — meaning among other things, that based on past interactions he appeared to respect both women in general and me in particular (and I don’t mean in a patriarchal I-open-doors-but-regard-them-as-inferior-way), I’d have no problem leaving him to watch my drink or go someplace alone with him. 

    Does that increase the risk of being assaulted relative to not doing these things?  Yes, of course, but I’ll take the risk if the alternative is treating everyone I know as untrustworthy no matter how much reason I have to trust them.

    On the other hand, a guy I know only casually who persists in trying to buy me drinks even after I’ve told him, “Thanks, but I’m good”?  Him I’m going to avoid.

    An advice columnist I like often recommends “The Gift of Fear” as a book everyone ought to read, and it does contain what appears to me be some good advice, the theme being that humans often CAN detect when we’re in dangerous situations, provided we maintain a certain level of situational awareness and are willing to listen to that nagging feeling that something isn’t right. 

    Of course it won’t always keep us safe — nothing can do that — but the author argues that it’s better than living in a state of constant fear both from a life-quality perspective and perhaps even from a safety perspective (since like a broken alarm, constant fear reduces our ability to detect when we’re actually in a dangerous situation).


    As far as victim-blaming goes:  I think suggesting that there ARE things you can do you reduce your risk of being a victim of a crime only constitutes victim-blaming if one agrees that if there’s something the victim could have done differently that might have resulted in the crime not occurring, then the crime is the victim’s fault.   

    Which unfortunately IS something a fair number of people believe when it comes to rape, but I don’t think that, and I think few (if any) people here do either.

    Again, YMMV. :-)

  • Dash1


    Let’s feed the homeless,

    And do our good deeds;

    It makes us feel good,

    To meet someone’s needs.

    I’d add that this quatrain could only have been written by someone who had never tried seriously to meet someone’s real needs, especially the needs of someone who is (e.g., since it’s the example that appears in the quatrain) homeless or in dire financial straits. It doesn’t particularly make one feel good. It means cutting into your own time. It usually means stepping outside of where you’re comfortable. It usually means doing the same thing over and over and over again. It means being suspicious of your own motives and trying to avoid doing what works best for you rather than what the other person needs. Anne Lamott’s Advent story, cited in an earlier post, is relevant here.

    Disclosure: I haven’t ever personally taken responsibility for feeding the homeless. I have friends who have taken those injunctions very seriously, and I’ve seen how seriously. I don’t like seeing their hard work shrugged off like this.

  • Matri

    I don’t like seeing their hard work shrugged off like this.

    Oh no, not at all. It isn’t being shrugged off.

    It is being mocked. It is being seen as Something Evil.