Reading stories to young children is a Good Thing. It’s not great that many people who were not previously reading stories to young children were only convinced to begin doing so because they personally dislike and/or fear drag queens, but if the overall result is that more people are now reading stories to young children, then what we’ve got here is more of a Good Thing, and more of a Good Thing is good.
Of course, it’s also possible to read stories to young children in a way that leaves those children less fond of hearing and reading and telling stories. A Good Thing done very badly sometimes turns out not to be a Good Thing, and I do worry about the poor kids being subjected to “family friendly, faith-based” story hours led by people whose primary motivation is not to engage or to entertain their young audience but, rather, to own the libs. Particularly when those people have all the charisma, flair, and enthusiasm of someone like Owen Strachan because those people literally are Owen Strachan.
This may sort itself out. Little kids who love books and stories love hearing them read by people who also love books and stories. Give them the choice between Drag Queen Story Hour and being catechized by Owen Strachan or Kirk Cameron and it’s no contest.
The current right-wing moral panic over drag queens and trans people is, in many ways, following the trajectory and the road map of earlier moral panics targeting marginalized people. That makes this interview with Elizabeth Ramirez timely.
Ramirez was one of the “San Antonio Four” — four women wrongly convicted of crimes that never occurred under the pretense that it made prosecutors appear to be valiant defenders of innocent children. This was part of the Satanic Panic — a wave of mass hysteria usually associated with the 1980s, but which evolved and continued for decades and still continues. The accusations against the San Antonio Four were first made in 1994. They were falsely convicted in 1997 and weren’t released from prison until 2013.
Ramirez wasn’t formally vindicated until 2016 and the record of her wrongful conviction wasn’t expunged until 2018.
So, yeah, “Satanic Panic of the 1980s” doesn’t really cover it.
The broad outlines of what happened to Ramirez and her three friends parallel the current delirium of panic slurring everyone who doesn’t conform to strict gender stereotypes as a “groomer” deserving of punishment. You have a small group of people who feel bad about being bad and who seek to make themselves feel better about who they know themselves to be by fabricating fantasies in which, actually, they’re the best and bravest of us all — the champions of innocent children. These people make stuff up — wild, lurid fantasies — and demand that some marginalized, powerless people be sacrificed as scapegoats in the name of this make-believe.
And enough of the rest of us agree to go along because we know that these dangerous, delusional whack-jobs are out for blood, and that as long as they’re only focused on those marginalized people they’ll leave the rest of us alone. For now, at least.
• This story — “DOJ Seizes $150K In Assets From Vet-Scamming Church” — reinforces the question that James Haught asked recently in discussing a different church-based predatory criminal scam: “Why do many scumbags enter the clergy? Is it because the pulpit offers easy opportunities to self-enrich or victimize, with little surveillance? Or is it because religion itself is dishonest, based on bogus ‘revelations’?”
These are not mutually exclusive options. I’d say the relatively easy to access power with relatively little accountability available to some forms of clergy attracts exactly the kind of people it shouldn’t. And I’d say that such people, in turn, are bound to reshape religion in their own image.
• I’m late to this story: “An evangelical GOP congressional candidate in Texas wrote a novel about Anne Frank finding Jesus.”
It’s as appalling as it sounds. Probably worse considering this: “The candidate’s top issues on his website include ‘Close the Border,’ ‘Eliminate Property Taxes’ and his belief that fossil fuels are divinely ordained.”
Yes, this guy — Johnny Teague — “claims to have interviewed Holocaust survivors and visited the Anne Frank House, multiple concentration camps and the major Holocaust museums in Washington, D.C., and Israel as part of his research,” but then chose to run for Congress in pursuit of his top priority: closed borders.
The good news here is that Teague lost big time in the general election for the Houston-area congressional seat.
• The pop music streaming 24/7 at the Big Box is now including a little Sophie B. Hawkins in the mix, so once or twice every shift I’m now hearing her lovely little pop-lullaby from 1994, “As I Lay Me Down.”
Hence the Mondegreen in the title of this post, which was my best guess for what the background singer is saying in the chorus of that song. It’s a bit of a non-sequitur, maybe, but I think it fits with the theme of the song. You’re thinking peaceful, comforting thoughts as you lie back to sink into sleep. “Do you like tacos?” Yes. Yes, I do, and don’t we all? And now I’ll just close my eyes and dream of them.
The lyrics sites mostly weren’t any help deciphering that background lyric, but I’ve finally found the definitive answer — from Hawkins herself courtesy of a Wayback Machine archive from a Q&A with fans on her old site. It seems I wasn’t the only one who thought this line was about tacos. Hawkins says the line is actually just “ooh la kah koh,” which she says refers to some vaguely sourced indigenous-language proverb about washing your feet before sleep. I’m skeptical about that alleged meaning, and disappointed at the apparent lack of tacos in the song, but it’s still very pretty: