7 things at 11 o’clock (6.24)

1. Goodbye, Mr. Chips (or, in this case, Mr. Boddie). Look at the love and gratitude on display in this middle school and file that image away in your brain. This is what fundamentalist Christians are condemning when they rail against evil public schools, what Randian narcissists are condemning when they sneer at public schools as “government” schools, what anti-public public servants are destroying when they demonize teachers and teachers unions, and what the homeschooling cult is denying its children by choosing total control over community.

2. Related to that, I finally watched that awful “The Thaw” video, in which homeschooled kids from Idaho are coached to repeat the nightmares they have been taught about public school. They love America. They hate the “public.” Both of those things can’t be true.

3. Rick Perlstein on Glenn Greenwald. I think Greenwald is to civil liberties what PETA is to animal rights. I mean that precisely.

4. Sheila O’Malley has a lovely rave review of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing posted at RogerEbert.com. One quibble: O’Malley repeats a Very Old Mistake that has become part of the conventional wisdom about Shakespeare. She refers, unironically, to “the melancholy Jacques in As You Like It.” Jacques says he is “melancholy” and that his melancholy is unrivaled by anyone else’s. If you think this means that Jacques actually is superlatively melancholy, then you don’t know Jacques.

5. Hemant Mehta relays a terrific story: “Kansas City Atheists Will Battle Local Christians in a Volleyball Game With Proceeds Going to Charity.” This seems like a good example of what Uncle Frank meant when he said, “If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter.” Religion News Service has a nice video story on the big game and the people involved.

(A warning to KC atheists, though: Bible Belt Baptists tend to be pretty good at volleyball, softball and roller skating. If you want an edge, challenge ’em to a pool tournament.)

6. John Fugelsang quotes Billy Wilder: “If you’re gonna tell people the truth, make it funny or they’ll kill you.” The bit from Fugelsang starting at 5:50 in that video is excellent:

You can’t attack down. If you’re in a comedy club and someone makes fun of homeless people, or developmentally disabled people, and calls them “retards.” The audience might laugh for a minute or two. And then it starts to feel dirty. It doesn’t feel good to attack down. No one admires it. And also, if there’s no element of truth in the point you’re making, it won’t be funny. … There’s a reason why, by the end of the play, the only guy King Lear trusts is the fool.

7.Call it what it is — MALE violence against women.”


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LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’
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LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’
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LBCF, No. 190: ‘Something happens’

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  • Kubricks_Rube

    Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is a blast (if you can get past the “woman’s virginity is prized above her humanity” subplot from the source material). Reed Diamond is particularly excellent as Don Pedro; his line delivery and cadence make the most out of transplanting Shakespeare’s words to a modern setting.

  • SisterCoyote

    I dunno, Fred. I think Greenwald is getting defensive, and aggressive, because he’s getting hits from all sides. His position is absolutist, but up until very, very recently he was impeccably reasonable about it. And being attacked for one’s conscience, not to mention the way the federal government has been reacting to journalists and leaks… I think he’s understandable.

  • Lori

    If you think this means that Jacques actually is superlatively melancholy, then you don’t know Jacques.

    You’ve also missed some stuff about Shakespeare in general.

  • Cathy W

    Having seen a local stage production of “Much Ado” a couple weeks ago just made me seriously itch to see this film – among other reasons, because I think Nathan Fillion was born to play Dogsberry. (I mean that in the best possible way, Nathan!) Right now the nearest showing is about 4 hours from me – I hope it gets a little closer than that.

    Edit: Never mind, it’s at a theater 45 minutes away. I’ll take that!

  • TheBrett

    My main quibble with Greenwald is that he tends to get defensive and evasive when he makes a mistake and gets called on it. I’d have much more respect for him if he could honestly admit when he’s wrong, but self-righteous people are rarely capable of doing that.

    But aside from that, he does serve a valuable purpose in identifying this stuff and reporting on it. And as someone over at the Washington Post wrote a while back, his type of advocates tend to be strident and self-righteous – you have to be, to deal with some of the crap thrown your way.

  • Lori

    Do you mean impeccably reasonable about the Snowden story, or in general? Because I haven’t been reading all his stuff about Snowden, but in general Greenwald stopped being impeccably reasonable a long time ago. Greenwald was defensive long before this incident and that goes double for his fans. Example: we had a flying monkey invasion here a couple years ago because Fred dared disagree with Greenwald about something. I don’t recall the details of the topic, but I do recall that I agreed more with Fred and that it took several days for Greenwald’s fans to give up and go find someone else to attack.

    Greenwald didn’t send those people here and AFAIK he didn’t tell people to get snippy with Perlstein on Twitter, so in that sense he’s not responsible for them. However, he did create the atmosphere that spawned them and his reactions to criticism set a tone that encourages them. I stopped reading him on a regular basis while he still had his blog at Salon in part because the comment section had gotten a little creepy to me.

    Also, Greenwald is getting hits from all sides because A) there were some problems with his reporting and when they were pointed out he didn’t handle it well and B) he’s obviously tied to Snowden on this thing and Snowden is not above criticism, even if one is not a tool of the surveillance state.

  • Rupaul

    Not all homeschoolers are in a cult; there are some really inferior public schools, esp. in very poor areas or places where public schools have been badly underfunded, and parents reasonably enough want their kids to have the best education they can; sometimes that means homeschooling. Those parents may not be the majority of homeschool parents, I don’t know, but I’ve known at least three families (with liberal,
    well-educated parents) where this was the case. Granted, it is a luxury to be able to
    do this, like going to private schools or getting music lessons, and ALL kids should
    be able to be in small classes with good teachers and get music lessons, and health
    care! but that is not the homeschoolers fault. (As a child at one point I attended a
    way more than usually repressive Catholic grade school, and it was as crazy and
    insular as any rightwing homeschool setting. My parents eventually sprung me,
    and later I went to a very good Catholic high school, so it was not the Catholicism
    that was the problem (and I think nowadays the Catholic grade schools are much
    better, at least from what friends have told me.)

  • Baby_Raptor

    There’s so much just complete BS in that Thaw video that my brain just shut down. Fundies say stuff like this, and then they wonder why the greater populace is taking them less seriously with every passing day.

  • And he committed sockpuppetry a few years back. http://ace.mu.nu/archives/187585.php

  • There is no website called Shakespeare.in

  • I could only handle it with http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIrHwHYtQxo

  • When I ran across this video back in May, I couldn’t help but notice how the video went quickly from the “we’re martyrs” narrative to othering and “declaring war” on those not like them.

    And then there was the whole “take back OUR country” bit.

  • I have a very good reason for having been home-schooled– I was unpopular, so after a few well-placed words and fingers from the In-Crowd, I started finding myself being stopped between classes by police officers who wanted to search my bag and locker to see if I had anything indicative of either the intent to make a bomb or to shoot up the school. My history as a child with conduct disorder was enough to justify treating me like a criminal suspect. After several weeks of this happening on a daily basis and all the disruption it caused, I pretty much had the choice of either failing all my classes, being expelled, or dropping out.

  • Reminds me of a website I saw a few weeks back, linked to as proof of some argument or other about equal marriage rights being evil. It was supposed to prove how liberals were mentally ill. The text basically went “Liberals want to start a new civil war, which is really evil and despicable and sick and wrong! But what they don’t know is that we’ve been preparing for civil war for years, and we’re going to kill each and every one of them, and our war will be glorious and awesome and righteous and EAAAARRGH MY AWESOME PENIS IS HUGE.”

    I replied, “Well, you’ve proven something.”

  • Yes, much as I loved the movie, I did have some alternate dialog for Hero running through my head. But the physical comedy was amazing, and should be a lesson for those who think physical comedy means vomit jokes.

  • Lori

    It was a typo, which disqus in it’s infinite wisdom attempted to convert to a link. Please note that I have fixed the typo and the wanna-be link as gone away.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Fillion kills as Dogsberry; you won’t be disappointed.

  • Emcee, cubed

    (A warning to KC atheists, though: Bible Belt Baptists tend to be pretty good at volleyball, softball and roller skating. If you want an edge, challenge ‘em to a pool tournament.)

    Either you are closing your eyes to situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are unaware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community.

  • -G-G-

    To go off topic, if you guys haven’t read the Friendly Atheist yet today, you should. Today’s the 40th Anniversary of the deadliest act of anti-lgbt terrorism in the US. 32 people killed (most members of a gay church) in a firebombing in New Orleans that no one was ever prosecuted for. It’s pretty sobering stuff, but important to remember.

  • Fusina

    I am so sorry to hear this. I also was bullied at school, and it sucks. And it can affect you your whole life–trust is very hard for me to do.

    Why is it that the people who cause the problems are never blamed? I have a friend who was told by the admin at her son’s school (he is seven years old) that he wouldn’t get bullied if he would just stay away from the kids who were doing said bullying ‘as that would make them stop’. (Thus essentially making it his fault…) o_O

  • Lori

    Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Same here. That loss of the ability to trust people made me a shut-in for a long time and contributed to losing my faith. Never for a minute was it ever entertained that it was anything but my fault — including by my father, who gave me the advice that if I just made an effort to be like the popular kids, I’d get along with them. Gee, thanks, Dad.

    My school favored the same approach and would purposefully ignore bullies, but punish their victims (the reasoning goes, I have heard from actual teaching courses, if you try and prevent bullying, you cause a greater disruption than letting the bullying take place unhindered). I knew I had no recourse whatsoever when it started and that was why I eventually did drop out.

  • chrisalgoo

    Well, if you leave bullying to take place unhindered, you’re certainly teaching something.

  • Heh. Indeed.

    Also odd- your post to me just triggered a Disqus Deluge. 20 messages you’ve posted in the distant past (the oldest one being from August of last year) were just sent to my inbox as if they were newly posted.

  • chrisalgoo

    I just merged guest comments I’ve made with my disqus account – sorry I flooded you and likely others with loads of emails!

  • Carstonio

    At first I was disturbed by the goat, because I assumed that the Christian organizers were seriously equating atheism with Satanism. But if the symbol came from the atheists themselves, them it’s a good joke at the expense of people who make that association.

    The tournament I really want to see would be theocratic fundamentalists against secularists. The latter includes religious people like Fred, and any atheist who opposes religion isn’t a secularist. My frustration with groups like American Atheists is that they end up sacrificing secularism in the name of atheism.

  • Interesting, so that’s what causes those floods. No major inconvenience to me, just a little more clicking than usual and a moment of whoa when Google cheerfully announces I have 35 new messages.

  • You might be thinking about this post about the raid on the OBL compound. Apparently, GG posted a comment in that thread that was eaten by the spam filter due to its numerous links, which triggered the latent paranoia in his fans. Check the comments – they’re every bit as hostile and Manichean as what we’ve seen the last few weeks.

  • P J Evans

    Only if your kids are rebuckling their knickerbockers below the knees.

  • My school favored the same approach and would purposefully ignore bullies, but punish their victims (the reasoning goes, I have heard from actual teaching courses, if you try and prevent bullying, you cause a greater disruption than letting the bullying take place unhindered).

    -I absolutely despise that “reasoning” with great fury.

  • themunck

    As does any person with a sense of morality, justice, empathy or even just damn common sense.

  • themunck

    *quietly hopes this does not turn into another 50-post argument about the merits (and/or lack thereof) of calling Atheism a religion.*

  • Carstonio

    You won’t hear any such arguments from me. I classify atheism as another position on religion for secularist convenience. While many atheists aren’t evangelicals in the generic sense, atheism is not a neutral position. I see the goal of secularism as both government and society taking no position on religion, with no such thing as a default or normal position.

  • Lori

    Oh yeah, that was the one. I remembered it a bit wrong in that I disagreed with both GG and Fred (won’t refight that argument now). I remembered correctly that GG’s fans were totally obnoxious in a way that pretty clearly connects to the way GG himself handles disagreement and criticism. That was 2 years ago and neither GG’s reaction nor that of his fans was the slightest bit surprising to anyone familiar with them, so I think it’s safe to say that GG lost his claim to reasonable a while back.

    He’s smart and I admire a great deal about him, but then there’s the rest of it, which is really a problem. (I would include in that the fact that he doesn’t seem to have made any distinction between Swoden’s revelations about NSA domestic data gathering and those about US hacking against China and cyber-warfare targeting plans. The former is whistleblowing, the latter is espionage.)

  • Makes me wish the concept of nontheism would catch on. Too many people conflate atheism and nontheism (and sometimes agnosticism).

  • stardreamer42

    The way we (as a society) treat bullying and the way we treat rape are effectively fungible. Thinking about this may help you to understand why it’s such an uphill slog to get people to look at the perps instead of the victims as being the problem.

  • J_

    * Bible Belt Baptists tend to be pretty good at volleyball, softball and roller skating*

    No. You are wrong. In my experience, Bible Belt Baptists tend to be really good at two-fisting boxes of ice cream sandwiches.

    Hear me: *Not* individual ice cream sandwiches. BOXES OF ice cream sandwiches. I have worked at the municipal pool ice cream counter. I have taken the orders and seen the speedos. I know whereof I speak. Fucking godophilic lardos.

  • SisterCoyote

    Well, I feel a fool. I only started following him a few months before the Snowden leaks came out – he was a guest speaker at our university, sponsored by our department. I and a couple of the other journalism students got to speak with him at some length afterwards, and he made an impression as crazy-smart, friendly, and civil with those of us who did disagree with him. I suppose I should’ve done more research before assuming that this was always the case. Thanks for the points.

  • its

  • Lori

    Jesus, seriously? What is wrong with you?

  • Emcee, cubed

    I am, at present, directing a production of The Laramie Project (actually, I’m done. They opened this past weekend, and run this coming weekend. My work is technically over.) While I had sort-of-in-the-back-of-my brain-closet knew about this, I was reminded when I came across stories about it doing research for TLP. Definitely needs to be remembered.

  • Swoden’s?

  • I wish I had more than one upvote to give for this well-chosen quote…

  • The answers to your questions are “yes” and “nothing”.

  • J

    So chalk another one on the slate for Things Liberal Christians Do Not Understand. What makes atheists/Wikileaks/Greenwald/Snowden AND the Right so much more effective than you dumbfucks–not necessarily ‘correct’ or ‘smart’ or ‘moral’ or ‘scholarly’ but politically winning, which is, in the end all that matters–is that we both know the value of a good extremist.

    While you’re reacting to events and analyzing them–analytically, if you like–GG, on the other hand, has opened a HUGE space for discussion of ‘security’ and the Deep State. Bill Keller had most of this information for TWO. FUCKING. YEARS. And couldn’t be bothered to write about it. Mostly because of the My Wife problem–all these writers for the NewNews (New York Times, New Yorker, New Atlantic, New Republic) have wives who are Senate aides and National Security Council and Brookings Institution: All of them were muzzling their spouses in the nicest way. Over quinoa salad and chardonnay in the evening, they’d spot the emails on hubby’s iPad and say, “Hon, you guys *can’t* publish that. Please, it’ll mean SO much work for us at the office . . .”

    And so it was not reported. At least, not as they would prefer it not to be.

    So yeah, y’know, stroke your beards and cluck your tongues all you like. Do it in an analytical fashion, if you prefer. Know merely this: We are the ones We’ve been waiting for. And you as well, even if you don’t already know it.

  • Strongly agreed.

  • Lori

    You’re wrong about that 2nd one. Harping on a typo like that is a jerk thing to do. What is with you and all your kindred spirits and the inability to grasp that? It’s a typo. A very common one. Pitch a fit about it if you must, but keep it to your damn self. Educating people who pretty obviously don’t need educating (typos are not an issue of education) is just obnoxious and the it’s/its thing brings that out in way too many people. You like to think you’re smart and righteous, but you’re really just pedantic in the worst way.

  • Like, whatever.

  • Lori

    My gripe with GG is that he opened the space for an important discussion and then gave the establishment more than enough tools to slam it closed again.

    The discussion has already been derailed by issues that would never have come up if GG had been a tad less extremist and a bit more thoughtful. He’s not a journalist, which is good in a way because you’re right about the problems of our mainstream journalism. However, it’s bad in this case because it means that he didn’t follow some basic rules about how to approach your subject.

    The problem is not GG’s extremism, per se. It’s that he hasn’t learned a very basic rule—-when you are handed “proof” that someone/thing is exactly as bad or as good as you always knew it was it’s time for you too look again. The world is complicated and people are a total PITA. It’s very rare for them to conform to your assumptions, regardless of what those assumptions may be.

  • J

    Yeah, that’s exactly the sort of thinking that I’m talking about:


    Let me know the SECOND our public political system rewards precision. Really: Let me know. I will be all. fucking. ears.