Postcards from the culture wars

We need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”

Southerners love electing dumbasses, and then we complain when comedians take the ‘easy way’ and make fun of us for being backwoods and stupid.”

“It’s sort of like creating a naive, easily deluded ATM for elements of the conservative movement.”

“I will take your ‘questions’ about ‘weird’ black names seriously when you make fun of Reince Priebus and Rand Paul.”

“Liberalism will lead to legal collapse and then the Apocalypse,” Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said.

This is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins.”

“A statue of Jackie Robinson outside Brooklyn’s minor league baseball stadium in Coney Island was vandalized with a racial slur and a swastika, police said.”

“So we have lots of freedom and also lots of death. Time after time.”

“The press’s acceptance of the dishonest self-label ‘Christian’ for this bunch of loons has a bad impact on religion as well as on politics.”

God doesn’t love all people.”

“It’s so petty. …‰ It’s a pointed way of saying, ‘We don’t like you.'”

“It’s kind of like when Jesus told the tax collectors and prostitutes, ‘Get out of here before you make me look bad!'”

“The mother of a two-year old boy says that while shopping at Walmart in Florida, a man didn’t like that her two-year old son was wearing a headband with a purple bow. So he called her son a ‘fucking faggot’ and slapped his head.”

“Attorneys from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office say that Michigan and other states which define marriage as being ‘one man, one woman’ have done so ‘to regulate sexual relationships between men and women so that the unique procreative capacity of such relationships benefits rather than harms society.'”

“What I believe is that women are able to struggle with complex ethical issues.”

“I’m not suggesting that crowd is representative of pro-lifers as a whole, but it frightens me to see how many of them approve of death.”

“It teaches boys that being creepy – sitting around judging facebook photos for modesty! – is OK as long as it’s in the service of ‘protecting yourself from immodesty.'”

“By far the most common reason, given by 70-80 percent of men, for committing a rape was sexual entitlement — ‘men’s belief that they have the right to sex, regardless of consent.'” (TW)

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  • Hexep

    Dang, the Slate’s layout got ugly recently.

    But on a more serious note, I certainly wouldn’t want my government to keep a national registry of who was mentally ill. That would be like keeping a record of who had AIDS, or what religion they practiced, or something like that; what could they want to do with it except to mark out who would be a troublemaker and put them under surveillance?

  • Jim Roberts

    That’s a feature, not a bug.
    And it’s not just “the mentally ill,” but those who sit at the crosshairs of “mentally ill” and “have symptoms that could present a danger to society.”
    So, someone’s bipolar? That’s cool.
    Wait, they’re bipolar, have a history of not taking their meds, in their manic phase often rant about the “the Jewish problem” and live within six blocks of a synagogue? Umm. Someone write that down.

    Edited after: Sorry I didn’t make this clear – in a perfect world, this kind of database would be a great idea because the just would only use it to punish the unjust – this is not a perfect world, and this database is a very, very bad idea.

  • Hexep

    So now the government not only needs to know what medications you’ve been prescribed, but also how often you take them, and what they say in their private correspondence? I consider that a very serious breach of a person’s privacy.

    And if they do catch someone going off their pills and talking about the New World Order, what do they do? Arrest them for pre-crime and send them to the cage beds?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    To be fair, people who do that kind of thing tend to get noticed by authorities for other reasons anyway.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I dearly hope you meant ‘a feature to those people who thought this up, who are clearly appalling people, evidence, having thought this up’, and not ‘a feature to Jim Roberts’.

  • Jim Roberts

    To be clear, I hate the plan as it’s been created, but I do think that there’s a place for keeping track of people who’ve demonstrated problems controlling a mental health condition AND a clinically or legally demonstrated propensity for violence. Both those things, and even then, the latter category should require thorough documentation and the approval of more than one physician.

    Keeping track of the mentally ill = a horrible plan that will cause more problems than it solves.

    Keeping track of very dangerous people who happen to be mentally ill = a very good plan, but still an implausible one because it has to be administered by people who are demonstrably terrible at this sort of thing.

  • AnonaMiss

    You can’t keep track of people who have mental health conditions AND demonstrated violence without keeping track of all people who have mental health conditions. Otherwise how will you know if the person who has demonstrated violence has a mental health condition?

  • Jim Roberts

    Exactly the problem. While a good plan in hypotheses, there’s no real way to do this that wouldn’t screw over a large number of people while possibly having no effect whatsoever in preventing the problems it’s purported to solve.
    I mean, I get the idea of wanting to know where people who are violent and mentally unstable are located. It’s a pretty natural thing to want. But even if you know, what can you actually do about that information? It’s not useful to the community at large except to identify targets for lynching. It’s not useful to LEO community since you can’t be arrested for being a “potential danger.” The only use I can see would be for the social services/psychiatric community in helping them identify people in their area that might need help, but given the very limited resources of those communities, that’s not realistic.
    Beyond that, the potential for abuse of the system is staggering.

  • dpolicar

    Well, one way to do it is to test the mental health of everyone who demonstrates violence when they demonstrate it, and if they turn out to have mental health conditions we put their name down on a list.

    People who have mental health conditions AND demonstrated violence will appear on the list, people with mental health conditions AND NO demonstrated violence will not appear on the list.

    This is not to say that in practice we’re able to do that without screwing it up in various ways, just to say that it’s not some kind of logical impossibility.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    The issue you bump up against here is of patient confidentiality. IIRC, it is both illegal and immoral for medical personnel to report violent tendencies to the authorities. The only exception is if the patient has expressed an imminent desire to do harm.

    Perhaps we could approach this from the law enforcement side rather than the psychiatric one. If the authorities would keep good records of past criminal behavior (possibly even including traffic infractions that might be indicative of difficulty controlling one’s moods) and then require those who hit the threshold to undergo psychiatric evaluation before acquiring a firearm, some types of knives, and maybe even certain hazardous substances in quantity. This evaluation would then be a condition of getting the weapon. That way, the applicant would have consented to release of just a simple “yes, it’s safe” or “no, it’s not safe” to the authorities.

  • muiltiple

    (I’m a fairly regular poster, but I’m posting as a guest for reasons that will become obvious)

    I have dissociative identity disorder, with some psychosis problems. I’ve never hurt anyone, but there are those who fear and distrust those of us who, shall we say, have less of a firm grip on reality than the majority. I take my meds, I’m in therapy. I’m fairly functional in society.

    However, there is a stigma associated with mental illness. If people knew about my “condition”, they’d think less of me, and probably think I’m dangerous. My therapist refuses to give me an “official” diagnosis, because she realizes that that will impact my life in some fairly negative ways. So, currently I have an “official” diagnosis of PTSD and chronic depression (which I have, so it’s not really lying).

    A national list tracking the mentally ill would be wrong. It would persecute people that already have enough problems to deal with, thank you very much.

  • Jim Roberts

    Most certainly correct – even if created with the best of intentions, it would be just another way to marginalize a group of people.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I know, or have known, several people with dissociative identity disorder who keep very quiet about it for, among other reasons, exactly those reasons you describe. Most of them will not even go to a therapist in the first place for fear of the impact of a diagnosis, or simply of giving an untrusted person the power over them of diagnosis and treatment recommendation. So they cope with their condition in their own way, and with the support of the few friends they can trust with knowledge of their condition, and they muddle on.

    I wish we lived in a better world, where you and my friends didn’t have to live in fear. We live in this world, where all I can offer is my best wishes and the response “You are heard.”

  • Estes

    How dare you. People suffering from mental illness only account for about 4% of violent crime and are far more likely to be a victim of crime than the general population. I’ve had mental health issues in the past, but I’ve never committed a crime or even thought about hurt anyone but hey, I’m still a monster to anyone I talk to who isn’t some kind of medical professional.

    Beyond that, keeping a registry is stupid and dangerous. What gets on the registry? Depression? PTSD? Maybe you have a parent who threw medications at you for your entire childhood or went to marriage counseling or something, there isn’t a proper medical test for diagnosing mental illnesses like diabetes or something (yes there is the MMPI and probably others, but they just group symptoms into what things probably are and the criteria for diagnoses change). On top of that the most important thing a client has is the knowledge that their therapist tells NO ONE anything about them, they won’t even look at you if you pass them on the street unless you are in danger of hurting yourself or others or they’re called to testify in court. You can sign release forms to allow them to share information, but that’s it. At best it’s a huge breach of trust between therapist and client and it could drive a lot of people away from seeking help at all. It’s also a huge violation of HIPAA which exists for a reason. You’re not even looking at the possibility that someone could end up on a registry for political protests or even if the cops just decided they didn’t like someone.

    Your example with the synagogue? They shouldn’t be watching the guy because he’s bipolar, they should be watching him because he’s a racist who collects guns and talks about the NWO.

    As for the mass shooters, some of them are being diagnosed after the fact, I think the one guy who didn’t shoot up the school had depression which doesn’t indicate much. They’re suicide attacks by idiots who want to be remembered for something and they know they’ll get it because our television media will run nonstop coverage for sometimes weeks after the fact. We don’t need a mental health registry, we need some common sense laws on what the 24 hour news cycle gets to portray.

    As for gun laws, if they’re going to start screening, they need to screen everybody.

  • Jim Roberts

    My apologies – I’d remove my comment, but that would remove too many comments and make for lack of intelligibility.

    I think in a platonic world, having a registry of people who are a) mentally ill and b) dangerous is a great idea. This is not a platonic world, though, and such a database would likely only cause more trouble than it’s worth. I’m working on editing my original post now.

  • Estes

    That’s more reasonable, but I’m still not quite sure how to respond to it. I’d love to go on a long diatribe about behavior versus thoughts but a family friend has been having issues with a long diagnosed mentally ill nephew who has become steadily more violent over time. In his case his illness does play into his violence. I think that it’s his punching walls and having the police called and him having a hit list with immediate family members that should be judged though. All that points to him being unstable and any legal actions should take that into account, but…I don’t know. It’s a mess. We can’t control our feelings, but we can control our actions. Most of us, anyway.

    Thank you for apologizing, there are way too many people on the internet who would either dig in deeper or just blow me off.

  • Hexep

    When you’ve gotten yourself in a position where you, as calmly and rationally as you can, examine all the options in front of you, and all the spread of possibilities regarding your future, and you then – as a rational result of that rational analysis – go out and buy a cyanide pill to wear in a little canister around your neck because you’ve come to the conclusion that death is better than letting them take you alive, then, then you come back and talk to us about who should be on a list.

    I still have it in my bedside table.

  • Jim Roberts

    Not a fan of misery poker, but does stepping out into oncoming traffic on a busy public road count?

    And, to reiterate, in any world populated by actual humans, this is a terrible, terrible plan. Maybe, just maybe, you could make it work in some sort of reality simulator with perfect AI, but even then I doubt it.

    My main concern would be that my past history (I was in my young teens) would be researched by a potential employer.

  • Veleda_k

    Why mentally ill and violent? Why not just violent? I’m not actually advocating this, mind you, but if you want to keep track of people who may do harm to others, I see no reason why mental illness should come into it. If someone goes on a shooting spree, or assaults people in bars every night, or is a rapist, then that person is dangerous whether they have a mental illness or not.

    No matter how many times you defend this idea, it’s still not coming off any different. Apparently, there is something fundamentally disturbing about mentally ill people. Apparently, being mentally ill should mean you get fewer civil rights. That doesn’t sound like an ideal world at all.

  • Jim Roberts

    We already track the violent, at least those who are convicted, and the way that information is abused by society at large is a great reason to NOT have this database.

    The people I’ve heard speak in favour of a database like this have talked about sharing it with the psychiatric and social work communities, mostly.

  • Rckjones

    Like Patterson Hood, I live in Athens, GA and am equally mortified at being represented by Paul Broun. On the upside, 4,000 of us did write in Charles Darwin as Broun’s opponent in the last election. I love this little liberal town in the sea of red.

  • Abby Normal

    #4: I am a boring white chick who wound up with a sort-of-“ethnic”-sounding first name (my mom, who graduated in 1975 made it up, possibly with the help of a couple left-handed cigarettes, if you know what I mean.). It’s always been kinda interesting to see how people react to it. I had a (black) classmate in junior high tell me “you can’t be named that-that’s a black person’s name” (as if I have any control over it.) Now that I’m a doctor it’s more common to have patients express surprise to find out that I’m not Indian. (There was even an irate patient that missed her appointment with one of my partners who stormed out of the waiting room yelling “I’m not seeing another one of those damn foreign doctors!” when the secretary offered to put her on my schedule.)

    Not that Reddit is exactly a bastion of critical thinking, but it is kind of interesting that no one asks about the increase in weird white people names (whoever is responsible for the multiple Bradens, Aidens, and Cadens in my kid’s class, I’m looking at you.)

    #18: Wait, you mean to tell me that rape isn’t actually caused by a) women in slutty clothes or b) feminism? Color me surprised!

  • G.G.

    Don’t even get me started on the assumptions people make about you based on name, People think I’m a french woman based on mine (G.G. sounds like Gigi) and wonder who this bearded midwestern man in front of them is.

  • Matri

    Gorilla Grodd?

    I kid, I kid! :)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Reminds me of Asimov’s Robots and Empire involving a character who at first appears to be named “Deejee”, apparently feminine. Nope, it’s a pair of initials. D.G.

    For Daneel Giskard Baley.

  • Lori

    but it is kind of interesting that no one asks about the increase in
    weird white people names (whoever is responsible for the multiple
    Bradens, Aidens, and Cadens in my kid’s class, I’m looking at you.)

    People do ask about this. I saw something a while back where people were discussing, and mostly complaining about, the Braden/Jayden/Caden/etc trend. I thought I could find it, but no luck. People do complain about stupid white people names all the time though. It often has more than a tinge of classism, but the hipsters and the whatever-we’re-calling-yuppies-now and the nutty Hollywood people get their fair share right along with the poor folks.

  • christopher_y

    My wife, who is white, has very unusual first and last names. She was once unemployed for a few months and claiming benefits. After a few weeks she was summoned for a ‘special interview’ by the benefits people, so, being a good middle class girl, she got all her documents together and trotted off to the office. She sat in the waiting room and eventually her name was called (pronounced wrongly as usual) and she went into the interview cubicle.

    The guy took one look at her, before she even sat down, and said, very aggressively: “You’re not Firstname Lastname (pronounced wrong)!” She pointed out that in fact she was and started getting out the documents to prove it, but the guy muttered, “Well there’s clearly been a mistake, you can go.”

    Of course this was in Britain in the 80s and I would never suggest that in contemporary America people in authority would make racial assumptions from other peoples’ names, far less seek to harass them on the basis of it⸮

    [The mark at the end of the previous sentence is an Irony Point, which was invented in the 19th century by a French poet to indicate sarcasm. You know you’ve always needed it.]

  • Jenny Islander

    My friend, who has a Western European name and a California accent, applied for aid at the local office and received very courteous treatment over the phone. But when she took her articulate, bachelor-degreed self to the office, the aid worker took one look at her, read “POOR FAVOOR, RAY-GRAY-SAY CONE OON UN-TURR-PRAY-TAY” loudly and slowly off a poster on the wall, and ignored her thereafter–until she introduced herself. (English is her first language, BTW.)

    My friend was just applying for food aid. But during the course of her appointment, she learned that she is unmarried, that all of her children are “oops” babies, that she needs her GED, that she is only a stay-at-home mom because she has no marketable job skills, and that she has no safe place to live–all news to her!

    Hey, can you guess what color she is? Or how the same person treated less-educated but much whiter me?

  • Maniraptor

    In my darker moments I wonder how much of my massively improved rate of callbacks on job applications in the UK as opposed to what I was getting in the US (where I’m from) is that here my name tends to be read as Irish instead of “exotic” (read: not white).

  • christopher_y

    That’s interesting and very sad, because I would have guessed that if you had a name like Siobhán Ní Dhuibhir, you’d have been more likely to encounter hostility in Britain, where people would casually assume you were an extreme Republican (not the American kind), than in the US.

  • Maniraptor

    Heh, well, I hope people don’t think that for a variety of reasons. Not least of which that as it’s not actually an Irish name, just close to one, and I’d be very embarrassed if I’d spelled it that badly.

    (Around here I suspect I’d just be mistaken for a devoted Hibs fan anyway…)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Nothing to add to the story (which IMO reveals that there are still reprehensible assumptions being made about people even in the 20th and 21st centuries -_- ) but I want to note that the “Irony Point” does not seem to show up properly in my computer’s character set.

  • Lori

    “Seriously, I will take your ‘questions’ about ‘weird’ black names seriously when you make fun of Reince Priebus and Rand Paul,”

    You can’t see it but trust me, my hand is up. I have made fun of Reince and Rand. Also Track and Trig Palin and Tagg Romney. And North and Apple and Fifi Trixibelle and Kal-El and Pilot Inspektor and Moxy Crimefighter and on and on and on. So have plenty of other people. Do not even get me started on Nevaeh or Espn.

    This exists: http://bigbadbabynames.net/forum/index.php

    I’m sympathetic to Jamelle Bouie’s point about racism, but the argument as presented doesn’t really fly. People of all sorts tend to be judgey about what other people chose to name their kids.

    ETA: Just in case this isn’t clear, I mean that I’ve made fun of the names, not the people who hold them. Or at least I haven’t made fun of the people who have them unless they’ve done something else to warrant mocking. I’m looking at you Reince & Rand, you horrible people you. Making fun of bad baby names is mocking the giver, not the holder.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I love the final punchline to Key & Peele’s newest East/West College Bowl sketch: After player introductions with names like Bismo Funyuns and DePez Poopsie, the last one is Benedict Cumberbatch.

  • Turcano

    Oh, Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ve heard Benedict Cucumberpatch, Benedict Cabbagepatch, and I personally came up with Benedict Bandersnatch.

  • dpolicar

    He is often referred to as “Frumious Bandersnatch” in my social circle.

  • Maniraptor

    Bangers Kippermash forever.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Don’t forget the lady who named her son Messiah. (And then when she and the dad went to court to settle over his last name, a self-important Christian judge decided that he couldn’t have that name “because Messiah only refers to Jesus in my opinion” and changed it to Martin.” But the mom got the change overturned.)

  • Lori

    And Myrrhiah (as in gold, frankincense and myrrh) and other kreative spelling.

    Some people just can’t resist getting “clever” when they name their kids.

  • Jenny Islander

    Reminds me of a political cartoon (or was it a .gif?) I saw once. First panel: pious WASP family, heads bowed around the table, praying, “Thank you, Jesus, for this food . . . ” Second panel: A field full of grapes with pickers bent among the rows, and a speech balloon with a dozen tails reading, “YOU’RE WELCOME!”

  • J_Enigma32

    Trig is a depressing name. He has Downs Syndrome, caused by the Trisomy 21/Trisomy G chromosome – that is, the TriG chromosome. I don’t want to think Palin did this on purpose – frankly, that’d require making me believe she understand something about biology and genetics, and after her criticism of fruit fly research (really, I could pick any point in her career, but that’s the one I harp on for other reasons), I just don’t think she has it. It doesn’t, however, change the fact that his name does echo the TriG chromosome, the cause of his Down’s Syndrome.

    Edit: Trig is actually a Nordic name. It’s from Tryggr (meaning true or faithful), and it can be seen in the name Tryggvason. Doesn’t change the fact that it was a really, really poor name choice for her son, though.

  • Lori

    Yeah. I don’t make much of the name because as you note, the possibilities are too depressing. Track is fair game though and given their reasons for choosing it, so is Bristol.

    Of course, I’d personally rather be named for a place my father worked than the place my parents assume I was conceived. No one should have to deal with that little bit of TMI every time they sign their own name. See: Brooklyn Beckham, among others.

    I personally know a couple who did that. I really hope that when Siena grows up she never asks about why they chose that name and they never feel compelled to over-share the story of their second honeymoon in Italy.

  • J_Enigma32

    That’s how a lot of surnames started, actually: Cooper, Hunter, Fisher/Fischer, Smith – those were all jobs that the father worked.

    As far as naming your kid where they were conceived – I thought that was a joke making fun of the Palins. I didn’t think they seriously did that.

    /facepalm

  • Lori

    Bristol Palin is named for Bristol Bay, a spot that’s apparently a particular favorite of Todd’s because of his work (back when he had a job). It’s the Beckhams who named their son for one of the places they’ve had sex.

  • christopher_y

    You have to suppose that the Palins are unaware that Bristol is cockney rhyming slang for boob, as in the anatomical feature surrounding a woman’s mammary gland. (“Bristol City”, a football club => “titty”). If the poor woman ever comes to this country for any reason she’s going to have a terrible time.

  • Lori

    I think it’s fair to assume they don’t know that. I’m not fond of the young lady (understatement), but I still hope she manages not to learn that either.

  • christopher_y

    I hope not too. One case where ignorance is bliss.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I was scanning the credits of a movie for a friend’s name when I saw the name “Marty Sixkiller.” I assume he had a pretty frightening great-grandfather.

  • VMink

    I seem to remember a 70’s action-adventure series where one of the characters was named Sixkiller.

  • Original Lee

    Then there was the couple who allegedly named their daughter Shirley because she was conceived during an epic traffic jam near the Shirlington exit on 395 in Virginia.

  • Lori

    Too. Much. Information.

    Indulge your mild exhibitionism some other way, people. You have the internet, you don’t need to use your kid’s name.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Ron Howard’s kids’ middle names are “Dallas” for the city, “Carlyle” for the hotel, and “Cross” because “Back Seat of a Volvo” isn’t a very good middle name.

  • MuseofIre

    There was a comedian in the late 60s or early 70s named London. He was on a talk show once where someone asked about his name. He said it was where he was conceived, whereupon the host said, “Be glad your parents weren’t in Elizabeth.”

  • reynard61

    I’m waiting for the day when names like “Twilight”, “Rainbow”, “Rarity” and “Celestia” become common — whether or not they are followed by the names “Sparkle” or “Dash”, or preceded by the title “Princess” — and no one thinks twice about their origin. (But I’m not necessarily going to hold my breath…)

  • Lori

    Some subculture names just never do become common. Rainbow already missed once and it doesn’t seem likely that the 2nd time is going to be the charm. I think you’re right not to hold your breath. There are blue people (one died today in fact), but generally Smurf is not a good look for humans.

  • Veylon

    Give it a few years before the first wave of Pony names hits the pre-schools and parents start squawking. Though I don’t really know that they would stand out that much; those are all real words and somebody could name their kid that even if they never heard of the show. There are a dozen popular variations on Celestia (Heavenly), for instance.

    After doing a little research at the Social Security Administration I checked the rank (lower is more popular) of the name in 2009 (pre-Pony) and 2012. Interestingly (to me), none of the ponies are in the top 1000, except Luna, who went from #324 to #223. Not even Twilight, a name with a second claim to fame.

  • Beth

    “Luna” could be coming from the Harry Potter fandom, too.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Well, all the Twilighters are naming their kids Edward and Bella, aren’t they?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    trufax: Before Twilight came out, the name ‘Edward’ was in actual danger of becoming extinct. It is now back in the top 100.

  • Pam

    How sad that a genuinely nice name now has to have such a horrible association.

  • Michael Pullmann

    I’m fairly confident that will never happen.

  • Baby_Raptor

    There was a story on Equestria Daily…Oh, about a week ago, I read it while the boyfriend was here…About a girl named Rainbow Dash on Toddlers and Tiaras.

    I am the biggest Rarity fangirl in Bronydom, but I would never name a child after her. Velvet Remedy, either. (Velvet Remedy is my Steam name, however.)

  • Launcifer

    I quite like the way “Velvet Remedy” sounds when I say it aloud, but I can’t quite get past the notion that it sounds like a condom. And now I wish I could unthink that thought.

  • Baby_Raptor

    …I wish we could too. Oh well, I guess there are worse things to be than a fancy condom?

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I was thinking it sounded like a very gentle laxative, myself.

  • Baby_Raptor

    You people are scarring me. lol

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Wouldn’t that make the Velvet Underground some kind of cervical cap?

  • caryjamesbond

    Honestly sounds more like the gentlest of anal dildoes.

    I love it when I don’t post for a while, then I can come back with something like that.

  • reynard61

    “Velvet Remedy” sounds like the first and middle names of a Victorian middle-level aristocrat. (i.e. “Lady Velvet Remedy Kensington-Leigh”.)

  • Notasaltine

    That would first require bronies to have sex.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I hope this is sarcasm. If it’s not, you should probably get to know some Bronies.

    I met my boyfriend because of Pony, and I assure you we have sex every time the possibility occurs. :)

  • Jen

    I was watching a show on TLC the other day, and there was a child on it named Rainbow Dash. I didn’t catch the beginning so maybe it was just a nickname, but it seemed to be her actual name.

  • general_apathy

    Tangential, but the most tone-deaf names I’ve ever heard have come from fantasy novels. Some authors just string a bunch of random syllables together, even if it doesn’t flow or make any etymological sense. Like:

    -Kvothe
    -Jamur Johynn
    -Duny, Pechvarry, Skiorh…
    -Frickin’ Danaerys Targaryen
    -Hallendren, capital city of T’telir
    -Dagny Taggart (I’d say Rand definitely counts as fantasy)

  • Jenny Islander

    Often they’re trying to sound Tolkienesque. However, Tolkien was a philologist. More than that, he derived exquisite aesthetic pleasure purely from spoken sounds, apart from their meaning; he once famously said that the most beautiful words in the English language were “cellar door.” So when he made up languages and names for the speakers of those languages, they not only worked, they were also beautiful.

    Unfortunately, most of the people who try to copy Tolkien have tin ears and no understanding of how languages work.

  • general_apathy

    Tolkein is so incredibly good at language porn. His languages followed rules. They had consistent phonemes… Elvish names were rigidly structured… occasionally, you’d get some nod to actual language change (Took, Tuckborough). There’s nothing wrong with sounding a bit Old Englishy, as long as you know what you’re doing.

    (Seriously, George RR Martin. There is no language on earth that starts “mother” with a Q.)

  • John

    Don’t remember who pointed this out originally, but if you de-vowelize the GOP chair, you get RNC PR BS.

  • Fusina

    You win the internet for the day.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Tangential, but I’ve always liked the term “disemvowel”.

  • Cathy W

    Likewise. It’s also one of my favorite moderation techniques.
    I’ve always liked Charlie Pierce’s “Obvious Anagram Reince Priebus”.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    It always boggles me when Internet Freedom Fighters of whatever sort complain that specifically disemvowelment is a tyrannical censorship technique used by bloggers who don’t want readers to see how their critics’ insightful truthy criticisms have made them look bad.

    I mean, post deletion, sure. Post editing, sure. But disemvowelment? No moderator who didn’t want others to read a particular comment would simply disemvowel it and leave it up. Clark at Popehat is simply wrong when he includes disemvoweling in his list of despotic strategies that make it”impossible for any third party to see” whether the comment “make[s the moderator/blogger] look foolish or wrong”. It just makes it take some effort.

    In fact, that’s one of the techinque’s strengths. It’s a way to defang a hurtful comment (“What can be seen cannot be unseen!” is true; “words can never hurt you” is not) but leave it reconstructable for those curious as to why the comment received such treatment.

    I like the technique for these reasons, and I have used it once or twice. And the troll who got disemvoweled came right back, right on cue, to complain about how I’d censored his free speech. It is to boggle.

  • Cathy W

    I know some people have trouble puzzling out disemvoweled text, but I can’t see how that makes it worse than deleting the post or editing it to say something silly. I wonder if ROT-13ing or otherwise enciphering the text would get the same reaction.

    I’d like to not go to this place, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s some correlation between “disemvoweling is the most heinous form of moderation there is” and “disemvoweling was invented and championed by a woman”.

  • LoneWolf343

    Regarding the story about the two-year-old (and I was dreading that it was going to pop up here,) that woman had her kid taken away a week later because she was determined to be crazy. More here: http://getoffmyinternets.net/katie-vyktoriah-story-being-questioned-by-internets/

    We shouldn’t let our zeal blind ourselves to the reality that our allies can end up hurting our causes. Let’s be wiser than to seriously regard a mother who watched her child get assaulted…and then apparently never called the police about it.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I don’t seem to recall them taking the child away. She did get sent away for psychiatric observation after threatening suicide in the presence of a deputy.

  • LoneWolf343

    Well, you might be right. I saw a follow-up story a while back that said she “might” lose the kid, but heard no more about it. I remember reading the story a while back, noticing the lack of law enforcement in her tale, and being extremely suspicious.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    The headband story has been more-or-less debunked. Entirely too many people said that the “redneck in camouflage” had committed assault and battery and that, generally, Walmart management is more than happy to investigate crimes that take place in their stores. They advised her to ask management to look at the tapes for that day and identify the guy that way. They could even use the cameras in the parking lot to identify his vehicle.

    Suddenly this lady started to backpedal. It wasn’t a slap, it was a gentle cuff. Then she later described it as “like petting a dog.” The language the “redneck” used changed as well. Some internet sleuths later found a blog post by this woman in which she claimed that she was a liar and had too much fun lying to change her stripes.

    Later the police got involved and they said that they asked Walmart management to review the tapes. History doesn’t seem to relate what happened after that.

  • Victor

    (((“It’s kind of like when Jesus told the tax collectors and prostitutes, ‘Get out of here before you make me look bad!’”)))

    Fred! Fred! Fred! “I” thought that all of U>S (usual sinners), “I” mean all of us gods had a silent understanding that any new facts that YA learned about these four per sent age cells of Victor’s father, mother, son and holy spirit that you would let us atheist, “I” mean alien gods know in advance like “IT” was done here below:

    http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/2013/09/pope-emeritus-benedict-xvi-responds-to-atheists-critique/

    Listen Friend, “I” mean Fred if your name accidently finds “IT” self on the alien gods national registry in reality with a capital “R” , NOW, don’t be blaming any of us gods and…..

    END YA SAY sinner vic! :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3bD3TyZwc0

    God Bless Peace

  • Shaenon K. Garrity

    Those pervasive urban legends about parents (frequently, though not always, identified as black) giving their kids names like Lemonjello or Female started circulating at the same time it became common for African-American parents to give their children names reflecting their heritage instead of Anglo-Saxon names. The appeal of these stories to white people is clear: “Those names sound weird to you because black people are so stupid they don’t know how names work! It’s definitely not because you’re ignorant about other cultures!”
    And no, your mom’s friend’s cousin who’s a nurse did not really truly deliver a baby named Lemonjello.

  • cyllan

    My mother, who was a nurse in the south in the sixties, swears that white nurses would suggest awful names for children to black mothers. She said that Latin names of diseases was popular.

    I have never asked her what her role in this was. I don’t really want to know.

  • LoneWolf343

    I think I have heard of black children being named “Chlamydia.”

  • J_Enigma32

    I’ve also heard of a name pronounced “Shah-teed”. I thought it was Arabic until the pastor wrote it out for me: “shithead.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, Snopes says that’s an urban legend. Are you sure this isn’t just another one of those?

    EDIT: The pastor could’ve been repeating it honestly believing it to be true.

  • J_Enigma32

    Oh, I don’t doubt it’s an urban legend. There are laws about what you can and can’t name your kids, and I’m pretty sure that “Shithead” is against them regardless how you want to pronounce it.

    Edit: It’s possible he was punking me (for as cynical as I am, I’m amazingly gullible, too), but he seemed pretty serious when he was saying and he’d just gotten off the phone with his wife at the time, and his wife had shared it with him, and he shared it with me.

  • Cathy W

    There are laws about what you can and can’t name your kids
    …depends on your jurisdiction; in the US, it’s pretty much anything goes. I gather this is not the case in many parts of Europe, and possibly New Zealand.

  • Pam

    Ah yes, Tallulah Does The Hula From Hawaii. But New Zealand’s response to strange names is a bit mixed – apparently twins named Benson and Hedges (cigarette grand) are ok, but Yeah Detroit, Fish and Chips, and Sex Fruit weren’t allowed (gee, I wonder why with that last one).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Is there any actual proof of that? I don’t doubt that at one point or another some white nurse/doctor/someone thought they’d troll a black parent(s) into naming their kid something offensive, but this kind of lolololol look at the stoopid name thing has the flavor of an urban legend akin to “Shahtheed” for “Shithead” (which HAS been debunked on Snopes).

  • J_Enigma32

    I tracked it down to the source:

    http://www.amazon.com/Outrageous-Humorous-Worlds-Bizarre-Unusual/dp/1425982034

    I’ve never read the book, so I don’t know how true it is, but that’s where almost all of those names are coming from.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I still have to wonder how “Vagina” slipped past the birth-certificate-issuing authorities, though.

  • J_Enigma32

    If you change the pronunciation to “Va-gee-nuh”, like Gina, then it’s entirely possible someone didn’t make the connection immediately because they were pronouncing it differently.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    But they would still need to see the spelling, which should kick in the “hey, what the–?” reflex. No?

  • J_Enigma32

    Maybe. It happens to me all the time; especially if I’m overworked and I’m not paying attention. I could easily see myself doing something like that and then not catching it until later in the evening.

  • Winter

    I know of one fictional example of that pronunciation, though the character was using it as a surname. In Zeta Gundam, Char Aznable, the big enemy ace from the original Gundam, has adopted the name Quattro Bageena to work with the good guys; one video game renders it as Vagina and there’s proof on Youtube. Naturally, he had a lot of issues with women.

  • Lori

    In the US there aren’t any formal rules about what you can and can’t name your child. You put it on the form and someone files the form and that’s the kid’s name. The person handling the form probably commented on how dumb it was, but I don’t know that there’s a mechanism for refusing to file it or going back and asking the parents if they’re sure they want to name their baby that particular thing.

    The cases where parents in the US have been required to change the name of their child have happened later, as the result of some other complaint.

    For example, the lady who refused to inscribe a birthday cake for Adolf Hitler Campbell. He and his siblings no longer live with their birth parents and the 3 with the Nazi names have had them legally changed. (The 4th child never got a Nazi name because he was removed from the parents’ custody immediately after he was born, in the middle of the investigation into the parents’ fitness.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Mm. Fair point. I imagine that informally, someone might’ve said, “Hey, are you sure you want that?” but I can see how with different hands shuffling the paperwork there’s no closing the loop to follow back up with the new parental units. </Coneheads>

  • cyllan

    I have no idea if anyone accepted the “helpful” advice; I assume it failed much more often than it succeeded. But I absolutely believe that horrible joke name suggestions was just one more micro-aggression that showed up in the post-segregation South. It probably shows up today, sadly.

  • Lori

    Not quite a the same, but an example of people trying too hard to be unique and clever when naming their child—-when I lived in South Carolina my best friend lived next door to a (charming, adorable) little girl who everyone called Punkin’. Years went by & I never heard anyone call her anything else. Nicknames are pervasive in the South so I didn’t think much of it until she got to be school age. Then I wondered what her actual name was, because I figured Punkin wasn’t going on her school forms.

    It turns out that when Punkin was born her parents wanted to pay tribute to their heritage, so they got a book of African baby names (filtered through who knows what American lens, but that’s not directly relevant to this story). They picked one out based on it’s meaning. The problem was that there was considerable disagreement in the family about how it should be pronounced. Long story short, everyone ended up calling her Punkin.

    My friend moved away about that time so I have no idea what that girl was called at school or what name she goes by now. I hope to FSM it isn’t Punkin.

    Moral of the story: Parents need to at least agree on what the child’s name is. They can then band together to enforce it and after while no one will think much of it, but if you’re not sure no one else will be either.

  • http://kadhsempire.yuku.com/ Matt

    Knew a girl who’s name was Pudding. Everyone called her Pud, but I’m not sure that’s much of an improvement.

    Yeah, Virginia.

  • Lori

    A) No, Pud is not an improvement.

    B) WTH? Just, WTH? At least Punkin had a real name she could use.

  • Launcifer

    I knew a girl called Carling at university, which was apparently due to it being her father’s second-favourite alcoholic beverage*. I actually quite liked it as a name, though I recognise it wasn’t the best idea that anyone ever had.
    * His favourite was Ruddles. That was the name of the cat.

  • Lori

    That’s some pretty hardcore booze fondness. Other issues aside, it’s like standing on your porch announcing that you’re an alcoholic. Maybe not the best way to go.

    As names with odd origins go though, it’s not bad. Unlike a lot of other odd names Carling at least has a pretty sound. And there are people named Carly, which is close so unless she tells them the dad/booze story people aren’t likely to think much about it.

  • Launcifer

    Thing is, though, that Carling’s very well known in England, so there wasn’t much chance of avoiding getting nicknamed Lager or something once people realised. In all honesty, hindsight suggests she was quite conflicted about the whole thing and just trying to get on, as you do. ‘Course, it was quite funny the one time I saw her go up to a barman and demand “three pints of me”.

    Another strange thing about it, at least the way she told it, was that someone had mentioned Stella as a beer-themed alternative that at least had the benefit of being an actual name (possibly as a joke). Her parents refused that one on the grounds that Stella is also called “wife-beater” over here in England, so it’s not as if they weren’t aware of the unfortunate implications.

  • Lori

    Yeah, that doesn’t sound good. Did she have a middle name? Once you’re away from home I figure you can use whichever part of your name you want, or change it altogether if you choose. I don’t know about there, but that’s fairly easy to do here as long as you can demonstrate that you’re not trying to hide out from debts or open warrants.

  • Launcifer

    I honestly don’t have a clue on that. I vaguely remember an initial from seeing her enrolment stuff, but I couldn’t swear to it. I don’t even know if she still uses the name because we dropped out of touch a while back. That said, changing your name over here isn’t particularly difficult, though there was a £100 charge when I had my papers drawn up just over five years ago. Mostly it’s just the hassle of having to inform every organisation that might possibly need to know.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    Coulda been worse. My favorite scotch is Laphroaig.

  • Launcifer

    Well, my favourite drink’s Morgan’s spiced rum, so I guess it wouldn’t be too eyebrow-raising in a pinch. I doubt I could get away with Bishop’s Finger or Winkle’s Old Peculiar though.

    Actually, I know a few people with names of interesting provenance, now that I think about it. I’ve even got one cousin who’s warned me on pain of unpleasant stuff never to explain where he found the inspiration for his daughter’s name – and I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who guessed in the first place.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    Winkle’s Old Peculiar would make an interesting cat name, though. Of course, the cat might kill you in your sleep for it.

  • Persia

    Gennesee. Like the beer. Northern New England. IIRC, she goes by “Jenny.”

  • Jamoche

    This book is pretty awesome, tracing the history of British names up to the excesses of Puritan names (and Terry Pratchett didn’t exaggerate much when he spoofed them) : http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/09/18/curiosities-of-puritan-nomenclature-1888/

  • christopher_y

    Like If-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Wouldst-Be-Damned Barbon (son of Praise-God). Fortunately the kid was also called Nicholas, which he went by when he grew up.

  • Michael Pullmann

    I wonder if his parents really yelled the whole thing when they were mad at him.

  • Cathy W

    I’ve found that book both interesting and educational. Thanks for the link!

  • Eric Boersma

    I’d never heard the Lemonjello rumor before, although the “Shithead” one made its way around the circles that I’d frequented before. I’m not sure Lemonjello would work around here, since there’s actually a coffee shop in a nearby town which is named Lemonjello’s.

    Your post reminded me of that coffee shop, and made me smile. :)

  • Cathy W

    I can see “Orangelo” arising as a name through normal routes (tacking the syllable “Or-” onto the front of “Angelo”), and Lemonjello being used as a spoof of that.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    One site that I found said that “Orangelo” is actually a rare given name that means “hour of the Angelus” in Italian. If this is true, I could definitely see some Italian kid ending up with it and then coming to the United States, where everyone assumes that Orangelo Rossi is black.

  • AnonaMiss

    I know a (black) guy who swears he went to high school with a (also black) girl named Lysterine.

    I also know for a fact that one of my (white) Facebook friends named his daughter Lynnix. (Her mother isn’t a computer person…)

  • Lori

    Lynnix—the geek version of Espn. [eyeroll]

  • J_Enigma32

    I can re-frame the abortion “debate” more effectively than that:

    “It’s none of your fucking business.”

    Sadly, I’ll get tone policed. Probably by the same people who cheered with Tiller was shot and killed in church.

    —–

    Truly highlighting ignorance here is that of these black names, a great many of the ones I see* are Arabic, or Arabic-like, Arabic-influenced, or have Arabic origins: in that article alone at least three are: Malik, Jamal (Gamal, as in, Gamal Abdel Nasser), and Aliyah. Porsche and Mercedes are both German names (see: Mercédès Adrienne Manuela Ramona Jellinek, Ferdinand Porsche – and Anglo-Americans are no stranger to using last names and surnames as given names, either). These are not “weird” names. Latoya, another name on that list, is a shortened form of traditionally Latin name Victoria.

    A name is only weird if you’re not familiar with the culture. Hell, my name is a weird name: given name is Hebrew, middle name is Anglo-German, last name is Anglo-Irish. I’m white bread. Add to that the fact that my first name has an ‘-a’ ending, traditionally associated with female names, and you’ve got a weird name. But since it’s been “Anglo-Saxon” for so long, most people don’t even realize it. The article highlights Saxby, which is a very traditional Anglo-Saxon name (it’s right there in the name – Saxby, although it’s usually a surname). Sometimes, Anglo-Saxon names can be flat out weird; Spotswood, Bainbridge, Althrope, Hepburn, Underdown – need I go on?

    Names like Trigg and Track, though, no, I’ve got nothing for those. Especially that first one, which is really unfortunate.

    And don’t get me started on real Anglo-Saxon names. Not the modern, diluted versions; I’m talking 110%-proof names, the real deal: Hrōðgār, Hroðulf, Healfdene, Fróði, Ale, Eadgils, Wigg, Signý (a female name), Oluf (a female name), Æsc, Cyneburga (female name) – names that Americans find extremely weird today**.

    * I live in a city where the number of black people outnumbers white people by a small margin; I see a lot of African Americans I interact with on a daily basis, multiple times a day. Names like “DeShawn” and “Shaqaulia” don’t even raise an eyebrow, so the perspective being taken by Reddit is alien to me.

    ** I know this from first hand experience, because I taught Beowulf to a group of HS seniors from an outlying community. Many of them would have an easier time with Modern African American names than they would with true Anglo-Saxon names.

  • LoneWolf343

    “Douglas” is actually a little badass if you know what it meant: “dark water.”

  • P J Evans

    They ought to take a look at mid-19th century names. White people were naming kids California, Sanfrancisco (that was a girl), Nevada …
    I’ve seen men named Pearl and Ethel and Ruth, too, along with Evelyn and Shirley (both of which were men’s names before they became women’s names).

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    My maternal grandfather was named Shirley.

  • Hawker40

    I have seen my share of odd names, and I don’t think it’s a “African American Thing”. Not when my friends brother named his son after his favorite football team (Dallas Cowboys Walker*), a cousin named a son the traditional Irish Shamus, my father’s legal middle name is “None” (unintentional), my cousin O. B. (pronounced like it’s spelled, “Obie”), and the newly promoted at work Lieutenant Commander Major Danielson*.
    *not actual last names. But the first names are real.

  • Lori

    I’m having a Ricky Bobby flashback. I certainly hope no nonfictional person has named their sons Walker and Texas Ranger. (John Mellencamp has sons named Hud, Speck and Justice which is bad enough.)

  • Matri

    I give you, Mr Heath Campbell.

    http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/06/05/man-wears-nazi-uniform-to-court-in-custody-battle-for-son-adolf-hitler/

    Potential trigger warning, but mostly just one pair of fucked-up parents. I truly pity their kids.

    That’s right, plural.

  • Lori

    That’s a whole other level of problem, plus Mr Campbell is no longer anyone’s dad. He lost in court and he and his now ex-wife had their parental rights terminated.

  • Matri

    I still remember when the birthday cake story broke.

    Was seriously depressed at the number of people on Digg defending him.

  • Lori

    Aside from being a Nazi (words you thankfully don’t often have occasion to write) he was also an abuser. He was violent with his wife and little Adolf had picked up his habits. At 6 (when the cake thing happened) he was already getting physical with other kids. The kids weren’t taken away just because the parents were Nazis. That was just the thing that put official attention on them. Once CPS started looking they didn’t find anything good.

    Anyone who defended him was saying a lot about themselves, all of it bad.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    Don’t forget Frank Zappa’s daughter Moon Unit.

  • Oswald Carnes

    “a cousin named a son the traditional Irish Shamus”

    If it’s traditional Irish wouldn’t it be Seamus?

  • Hawker40

    Anglicised spelling of the traditional Irish… which probably makes my more traditionally minded relatives ‘upset’.

  • phantomreader42

    the newly promoted at work Lieutenant Commander Major Danielson*.

    Is his name Major and he got promoted to Lieutenant Commander? Or the other way around?
    I think I remember an episode of Family Matters where it’s revealed that Lieutenant Murtaugh’s actual first name is “Lieutenant”, and that he changed it, from “Seargeant”…

  • Hawker40

    I knew a petty officer Sargent. And his first name is Major.

  • Matri

    Promotions would be pretty awkward, I’m guessing.

  • Persia

    Don’t you remember Major Major Major Major from Catch-22?

  • phantomreader42

    I knew of that one (though I think one of those might have been a Miner), but the Murtaugh example had the whole “changing his legal name to match his rank” bit as a gag.

  • VMink

    Re: Lt. Commander Major Danielson.

    The hilarious thing about that is that Lt. Commander is the naval equivalent rank to the army Major.

    I wonder if anyone gave him a copy of Catch-22 when he got promoted?

  • Lori

    The other thing I find amusing it that Major is essentially middle management. The guy’s parents didn’t have tremendously high expectations for him.

  • Hawker40

    I mentioned Catch-22, but he hadn’t heard of it. I guess it’s not on the required reading list at the Naval Academy. I’ll have to buy him a copy as a promotion gift.

  • Pam

    Was just about to mention Major Major Major Major

  • Launcifer

    Apologies, because this is completely random but… I’ve just noticed that Healfdene looks like it might have started out as something of a slur. I don’t suppose if anyone happens to know if that’s the case or whether it’s something I’ve just pulled out of my backside?

  • J_Enigma32

    Healfdene means “Halfdan”, literally “half Dane”, and he’s a legendary Danish king. That doesn’t preclude a slur, but I can’t find anything indicating that it might have started out as one.

  • Launcifer

    Ah, thanks for that. As I said, I didn’t know if it was the case or not – I just saw it on the page and something suddenly went “click”. Didn’t know about the Danish king, though, so I’ve learned something tonight.

  • Veylon

    It could’ve been one of those scenarios where the guy was so badass that he just wore the slur and dared anyone to make anyone of it. Like Shaka Zulu or Hadrian ‘Graeculus’.

  • Matri

    “One question, Megatron, why are we called ‘Decepticons’?”
    “Another craven Autobot scare tactic. The name was meant to demonize us. Instead, we wear it as a badge of honor, for if speaking the truth is deception, then we are gladly guilty.” – Transformers Prime: Orion Pax, part 1.

  • VMink

    I’m getting a serious Cybertron Lost vibe from that quote of Megatron.

  • stardreamer42

    One of my summer jobs in college was filing forms for a life insurance company. Boy, I saw some doozies! And very few of them were what anyone would have considered “black names” — they were just weird, full stop. That was 35 years ago, and I can no longer recall specific examples.

  • Pam

    I had an administrative glorified form-checker job years ago, and we would get a bit of passing entertainment out of some names. Often it was just ‘hey, I haven’t heard that name before’, but there was the odd male with a ‘female’ name, the unfortunate rhyming names, one first-middle-and-last-names-almost-identical, and the midlife-crisis name change to hippiedom (I wish I could remember that name, she changed from something average to something like Purple Magnolia), and the very unfortunate Adolphus (born pre-WW2). The names provided a little fun in an otherwise tedious job.

  • Original Lee

    One of my uncles used to work in the regional Social Security Administration office, back before the records were computerized. One of his tasks was to pull the cards for the recently deceased. He saw many many unusual names and used tell us about some of his favorites. The only one I remember was Clovus Buckles.

  • Cathy W

    I honestly would have identified Mercedes as a Spanish name, derived from a reference to the Virgin Mary in the same way as Carmen, Pilar, Rosario, and Dolores: “Nuestra Señora de(l, los, las) (blank)”. (“Merced” = “Mercy”). Over time “María del Carmen” just became Carmen, etc.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I would have too, because I actually knew a Mercedes from Spain. She came to my high school as a foreign exchange student.

  • stardreamer42

    I noticed that a lot of the people quoted in the “weird names” article specifically mentioned the name Trayvon. Is that really any stranger than Trevor?

    Deanna Bartram, the 17-year-old college student holding that sign,
    …lashed out at people who call her racist for not supporting Obama.

    No, honey, we don’t call you racist for not supporting Obama. We call you racist for using language like “half-black Muslim” to do so.

    Why was the man who assaulted and threatened a 2-year-old boy and his mother in the middle of a Wal-Mart store allowed to walk out of there not in handcuffs?

    The last time I heard about someone asking forced-birthers what punishment they thought would be appropriate for a woman who had an abortion, they all just… locked up. They’d never thought about it, and couldn’t come up with an answer. Well, it seems that now they have, and the answer is exactly what I predicted it would be.

    There was some study not too long ago that asked under what circumstances people (men and women both) would consider rape acceptable. The circumstances included things like “She went to a party and got drunk”, “She was wearing slutty clothes”, and “She hugged and kissed him”. The responses were… really depressing.

  • Jamoche

    Why was the man who assaulted and threatened a 2-year-old boy and his mother in the middle of a Wal-Mart store allowed to walk out of there not in handcuffs?

    Because when questions like that were asked, the story unraveled.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “We have gone back so many years,” she said. “He’s divided all the races. I hate him for that.”

    Oh, puh-fucking-LEASE!

    The only thing she hates is that she had to get reminded that black people exist beyond stereotypes.

    *rolls eyes*

  • themunck

    2. That website….the layout….it hurts…

  • Ivkra

    …um, is it just me, or does that Slate article seem to come out a lot more like “we have to stop being racist, it’s no longer socially acceptable” than “racism is wrong and hurts people”?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Hey, progress is progress. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons isn’t any less doing the right thing.

  • dpolicar

    Doing the right thing because it’s socially expected suggests that I’ll do the wrong thing in private, and insulates me from further correction. Doing the right thing because I prefer doing the right thing suggests that I’ll do the right thing in private, and makes further correction unnecessary. It’s not senseless to care strongly about the difference.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You can’t stop people from thinking whatever they want but you can get them to behave decently to others under pressure of reciprocal social obligation.

  • dpolicar

    Agreed.

    But I’m not talking about what people think, I’m talking about how they act in private vs. how they act in public. (This is a common confusion about racism, that it’s somehow a kind of epiphenomenal thought crime, rather than a pattern of behavior that causes suffering.)

    Given two people who both espouse egalitarian ideals in public, for example, one of whom abuses non-whites in private and one of whom doesn’t, the latter causes less suffering than the former. And someone who behaves decently solely out of pressure of reciprocal social obligation is more likely to stop behaving decently when dealing with the socially powerless in private.

    So it’s not senseless to care strongly about the difference between people who treat others decently out of habit, people who treat others decently out of principle, and people who treat others decently out of social pressure, even if all three of them are treating people equally decently in public.

    And when we dismiss that difference as though it doesn’t matter, we become less likely to notice the difference. (For example, if all I knew about Ellie and lvkra were the two comments above, I would be more likely to tell lvkra about racism I’d suffered in private, than to tell Ellie.)

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Re private vs. public behavior – this reminds me of the Coatesville (PA) school officials who were recently fired over their large number of racist tweets (Fred discussed them here a few days ago; “Pillars of the community: Racism, rape culture and the superintendent”). Reading through their exchanges might not be a great idea – I can easily picture the tweets being triggering. But it’s shocking to read them giggling at each other over matters like how many (frequently discrimated against racial group) teachers were getting laid off, and to realize that the jerks tweeting each other are the people who decided which employees were going to lose their jobs.

    In public, I’m sure they expressed deep regret over laying people off. I’m sure they insisted that The Rules left them no choice in deciding which individuals were hurt. In private? The masks came off and the hatred came out.

  • dpolicar

    Yeah, exactly. This sort of thing is pretty common, actually.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    I don’t doubt it. :P Some days humans are pretty horrifying.

  • dpolicar

    Yeah. We actually are making enormous progress, collectively, and we have reasons for hope, but some days those reasons feel further away than others..

  • EllieMurasaki

    Did I say there was a problem with caring about the difference in motivation? I do not recall saying any such thing.

  • dpolicar

    Nope, you didn’t.

    Do you consider there to be an important difference between doing the right thing because it’s socially expected, and doing the right thing because it’s the right thing?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Of course it’s important. The person who does the socially expected right thing is less likely to be part of pressure on others to do the right thing than the person who does the because-it’s-right right thing is, if that makes sense.

    But I thought we were talking about effects, not causes.

  • dpolicar

    Yes, that makes sense. And thanks for clarifying that; it was less clear to me in your initial response to lvkra.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    No, I didn’t get that at all. I think the section on how what is socially acceptable changes over time was to illustrate how people just continuing with business as usual can “suddenly” be surprised to be considered bigots. If anything, I think they give Snyder too much benefit of the doubt there, making him sound like a well-intentioned guy who simply fell out of step with changing ideas of social acceptibility.

    If you want to know why Slate are cutting the ethnic slur out of their stylebook, read the paragraph in which they specifically say why they are doing it:

    Changing how you talk changes how you think. The adoption of the term “African-American”—replacing “Negro” and “colored”—in the aftermath of the civil rights movement brought a welcome symmetry with Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans, groups defined by geographic origin rather than by race or color. Replacing “same-sex marriage” with “marriage equality” helped make gay marriage a universal cause rather than a special pleading. If Slate can do a small part to change the way people talk about the team, that will be enough.

  • Matri

    The point is still the same: They’re cutting it out because they think it makes them LOOK bad, and not because they think that it IS bad.

    Would you, for one nanosecond, think the WBC sincerely had a change of heart if they suddenly decided to stop using the word “fag”?

  • Pam

    On the names thing, nothing will ever be as (wonderfully) weird as Aussie Rules footballer Steele Sidebottom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steele_Sidebottom

  • ffxtian

    I’m not normally a betting man, but I’ve got $20 that says Patriarch Kirill is referring to classical liberalism, not social liberalism.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “It teaches boys that being creepy – sitting around judging facebook photos for modesty! – is OK as long as it’s in the service of ‘protecting yourself from immodesty.’”

    Slacks and Slackettes, Crusading Against Immorality is the way Church Ladies get their Porn Fix while still looking all Moral And Righteous. After all, they have to expose themselves to all that JUICY JUICY JUICY Smut when Crusading Against It. (Cue Church Lady Superiority Dance…)

  • Graeme Sutton

    Is that where Dexter went bad?

  • Graeme Sutton

    I suspect the reason nobody did anything about the asshole who slapped the kid is that he could legally shoot anyone who complained if he thought they were threatening him.


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