Look, this has always been hilarious more than anything else. I can actually give a nod to Tipper Gore herself for pointing the way to Carnivore, a band, as you might imagine, that horrified the moralists.
This and that. Certain things bring the song to mind:
There’s perfect harmony in the rising and the falling of the sea. And as we sail along, I never fail to be astounded by the things we’ll do for promises and a song. We are the innocent; we are the damned. We were caught in the middle of the madness, hunted by the lion and the lamb. We bring you fantasy; we bring you pain. It’s your one great chance for a miracle, or we will disappear, never to be seen again. And all the fools sailed away. We bring you beautiful; we teach you sin. We can give you a piece of the Universe, or we will disappear, never to return again. And all the fools sailed away. They sailed away. And as we drift along, I never fail to be astounded by the things we’ll do for promises and a song. We are the innocent; we cut, we bleed. We’re your one great chance for a miracle, and a miracle is something you need. They’ll take your diamonds, and then give you steel. You’ll be caught in the middle of the madness, just lost like them, part of all the pain they feel. And all the fools sailed away. Leaving nothing, nothing more to say; all the fools sailed away. They say you’re beautiful, and they’ll always let you in. But doors are never open to the child without a trace of sin. Sail away.
So this is how it goes: Ms. Thomas’ right to expression of conscience is at least as protected as the bigots demanding “religious freedom” in order to discriminate. Still, though, look at the outcome. Religious supremacism and the right to bully people? Apparently we need a Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect supremacism as if it was equality. But, hey, being gay? Offensive. The idea of human rights for women? Offensive. These things, apparently, need to be suppressed. You know, as a matter of freedom and equality.
When 8th grader Sophie Thomas got her class picture this year, she was shocked to see that her t-shirt had been photoshopped. The actual shirt has one hand-lettered word on it: ‘Feminist.’ The picture shows her wearing a plain black shirt.
Sophie wasn’t about to take that lying down. She posted a picture on Instagram of herself in the t-shirt, along with this message:
“HELLO EVERYBODY! I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS PICTURE ISN’T GREAT, BUT THERE IS AN ISSUE AT HAND. I WORE A SHIRT WITH THE WORD “FEMINIST” ON IT. OUR SCHOOL TOOK A PICTURE OF OUR GRADE TO HANG UP IN THE SCHOOL. TODAY, I FOUND OUT THEY BLACKED OUT MY SHIRT. I WENT TO OUR PRINCIPAL AND SHE CLAIMED IT WAS “OFFENSIVE” AND SHE “DIDN’T WANT IT IN THE PHOTO”
THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 17TH 2015, IS THE DAY MY PROTEST TAKES PLACE. EVERYONE PARTICIPATING WILL BE WEARING A SHIRT WITH A PHRASE LIKE “I DESERVE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION” OR “FEMINISM ISN’T OFFENSIVE” OR ANYTHING THAT YOU BELIEVE FITS! PLEASE MAKE A SHIRT AND JOIN US AND HELP TAKE CARE OF THIS ISSUE. PLEASE REPOST AND SPREAD EVERYWHERE USING THE HASHTAG #IDESERVEFREEDOMOFEXPRESSION THANK YOU!”
That certainly got people’s attention — not only among students in this little town of Batavia, Ohio, but also in the media- nationally and internationally.
And as we are wont to say, things only go downhill from there.
But this is what it’s really about. Supremacism is not equality, and we really ought to reject any sort of community standard that would suggest otherwise.
Image note: Eri Ninamori eats a popsicle. Details of frames from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”.
Montesano, Deborah. “8th Grade Feminist Is The Winner In Dispute With Narrow-Minded School Officials”. Addicting Info. 17 April 2015.
The thing about the “America’s Wang” joke is that Florida seems to revel in it:
The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.
But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.
DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
Perhaps the only thing left to say is the obvious: When your only way to win the argument is to prohibit the other side from speaking, you’ve already lost.
But, hey, this is Florida, right? Why expect principle, decency, or reality to apply?
Image note: MIAMI, FL – FEBRUARY 22: Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a visit to the Advanced Pharma to kick-off the grand opening of their new facility that hopes to create 60 new jobs by 2014 on February 21, 2013, in Miami, Florida. Flordia Gov. Rick Scott reversed himself on February 20, 2013 and is now calling for an expansion of Medicaid to Flordia residents under the federal Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Korten, Tristram. “In Florida, officials ban term ‘climate change'”. Miami Herald. 8 March 2015.
Compartmentalization. Equivocation. Misdirection.
Watch the birdie.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has once again dug himself a hole, and yes, he’s annoyed that anyone noticed:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday continued to walk back his comments that parents should be allowed to choose whether to vaccinate their children, saying he holds the same position as President Barack Obama on the matter.
“I got annoyed that people were trying to depict me as someone who doesn’t think vaccines were a good idea,” Paul told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday, noting that he had been vaccinated before a recent trip to Guatemala and had vaccinated his children.
“I’m not sure I’m different from the president or anyone else on the position,” Paul said. “We have rules to encourage people to have vaccines in the country, but I don’t think anybody’s recommending that we hold them down.”
Did you catch that?
It is a Kansas thing:
A federal judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit alleging that science standards for Kansas public schools promote atheism and violate the religious freedoms of students and parents.
There are a number of questions one might wonder about, but perhaps it is time we pause to consider what, exactly, these religious fanatics are doing to their children.
That is to say, we are accustomed to the fundamental argument, and it really does seem a matter of one being unable to tell the difference between unlike things. Thirty years ago groups representing parents, churches, and politicians unleashed a daily spiel about how children were not smart enough to listen to music.
Here’s one: Have you heard Trans Siberian Orchestra? Okay, you know that song they play toward the end of the set, called, “Believe”? It was first recorded in 1990 by Savatage, and describes the epiphany of an unfortunate soul stumbling into the light. But think about that for a minute, one of our best new Christmas songs comes from a band once denounced on a regular basis as being satanic.
Sometimes it seemed a matter of simple jealousy; the “Christian” version of pop music does not seem to carry very far outside its dedicated audience. Those who remember the South Park episode “Faith Plus One”, and the crack about how Christian pop sounded like lust songs about Jesus, need only look back to this time in order to understand where that joke comes from. Brief moments of exposure over the years suggest it hasn’t gotten any better, but if one had to guess without knowing who Stryper was, would “Calling On You” sound like an appeal to salvation or begging for some fumbling teenage intimacy?
It was a futile effort to keep children away from popular music, but it also made one point clear: These people do not believe their kids are smart enough to listen to pop music.
Over the years, religious advocates have humiliated themselves. Christian censorship advocate Bob Larson demonstrated himself unable to comprehend liner notes, and, furthermore, could be caught rewriting the lyrics to some of the songs he complained about in order to make musicians sound scary.
The psychopathology of the underlying parental fear is open to certain argument, but functionally speaking the argument was clear: I do not trust my child to be smart enough to resist what I find objectionable and scary about the music. It is what it is.
But here is a new proposition: I do not trust my chiled to be smart enough to resist what I find objectionable and scary about science.
Just a piece of follow-up; heaven knows we’re bad enough about that around here.
This was supposed to be the day when the superintendent of public schools in Gilbert, Arizona, would present a plan (pdf) for redacting the kids’ honors biology textbooks. The Tea Party majority on the school board voted last month to remove references to abortion from the books, which have been in use for several years now in the district. The board ordered the superintendent to figure out how to do it ....
.... Board president Staci Burk told the Arizona Republic that parents had already volunteered to help with the redacting, whether by tearing out the pages or cutting out the paragraphs with scissors or blacking them out with a Sharpie. Even after voters undid the Tea Party majority in the elections this month, Burk told us that she expected the superintendent to report back today with a plan for carrying out the board’s order. “I don’t believe there will be any more discussion on the textbooks,” she said.
The board may have failed to account for the opinion of the superintendent herself.
A district spokesperson tells us that Dr. Christina Kishimoto, who is new to the district, believes that the honors biology textbooks already comply with Arizona law about mentions of abortion and that there’s no need to change the books. Kishimoto talked to the board about this yesterday, and now the superintendent does not intend to offer a plan tonight for pulling back information from students. Instead, the board and the superintendent will hold a public discussion about what, exactly, the board wants taken out of the honors biology textbooks.
“Now the board has come back and said, ‘Hey, wait, we want further clarification,’ ” said spokesperson Irene Mahone-Paige. “We’re back to where we started.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but when you start running around like village idiots in a panic, it is entirely possible—and, in truth, somewhat likely—to end up looking like, well, village idiots.
Back to where they started? The schools in Gilbert, Arizona, have a simple choice: They can either educate their children, or not. It would seem that in coming back to where they started, they have simply returned to the point of looking for any reason to decide the choice should be to not educate their students.
And, of course, a raising of the wrist to those educators who understand that the students need to pass tests after high school, too. Maybe next Arizona can pass a law prohibiting the use of college degrees in employee candidate assessment.
Conaway, Laura. “Glimmer of hope for those Arizona honors biology textbooks”. msnbc. 18 November 2014.
“So, dear honors biology students of Gilbert, Arizona, I now address your directly. You may soon find yourself holding a biology textbook with a hole where some true facts used to be. Don’t despair. We here at ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ have preserved the part of your biology textbook that the crusading religious group and the Republican state senators and the conservative majority on your school board no longer wants to allow you to see.
“We’re going to keep it posted for you in perpetuity at ArizonaHonorsBiology.com, which we bought today so that we could post the page that they’re cutting out of your textbook. You can get it there. ArizonaHonorsBiology.com.”
At least in the face of morbid politicking, we have the relief of morbid humor.
Steve Benen, in addition to expressing his amazement at the situation in Arizona, notes:
Apparently, in 2012, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed into a law a measure that requires public schools to present childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.
What’s wrong with that? In Gilbert, the honors biology class uses a textbook with a page that told students, “[C]omplete abstinence, avoiding intercourse, is the only totally effective method of birth control.” The same page includes information – rather clinic information – about the morning-after pill and medically-induced abortion. The procedure, the text says, “requires a doctor’s prescription and several visits to a medical facility.”
The state Board of Education and its lawyer said the paragraph in question isn’t a problem – it doesn’t advocate or encourage abortion – but apparently that didn’t matter. Conservative activists and local Republican officials insisted the textbook is illegal under the law created by Brewer two years ago.
As a practical matter, they conceded that the textbook pre-dates the Arizona statute, and that the school district can’t just go out and buy new textbooks because of one paragraph the right finds objectionable, so in the interest of expediency, conservatives want to “excise” the offending page – which is to say, they want to literally tear out the page that mentions abortion from the book.
Remember, these are “honors” students, for whatever that designation is worth in Arizona.
Not worth a copper in the Copper State. The grandest of canyons is between the censors’ ears.
Oh, and that link Maddow mentioned? ArizonaHonorsBiology.com? Yeah, go ahead and click. It does, indeed work, redirecting the reader to AZ Central, where the Arizona Republic has posted a copy of the page some officials in Arizona have deemed honors biology students too stupid to be allowed to see.α
α As hyperlinks to news sites are not the most reliable—this isn’t the Beeb, after all—we will do our part and preserve a copy to last as long as this blog does.
Maddow, Rachel. “School board to rip out textbook’s abortion mention”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 31 October 2014.
Benen, Steve. “Arizona law leads to ‘edit’ of biology textbook”. msnbc. 3 November 2014.
This is going on in Ohio:
The Northeast Ohio Media Group last week posted a video of Ohio Gov. John Kasich and challenger Ed FitzGerald meeting with the editorial board, then took it down without explanation and replaced it with an audio recording.
.... The video shows Kasich – endorsed by the Plain Dealer – slumped in his chair and refusing to answer questions, according to the Plunderbund website. That site posted part of the video on Monday, then received this threat from NOMG content veep Chris Quinn.
Jim Romanesko also reports that Plunderbund editors have cited Fair Use, and given that this is an election issue in an election season, they would at least appear, as Tim Cushing notes for TechDirt, to have a reasonable avenue to such a claim. Mr. Romanesko notes that he contacted Northeast Ohio Media Group, and notes that they never responded.
Wonkette has posted six minutes of video, and presently it is still up; it’s not flattering to watch:
In the entire six-minute clip, Kasich has given a boilerplate speech about just how pro-life he is, but he never answers the question about the gag rule he signed into law. He doesn’t even acknowledge the question. It’s just not what he wants to focus on, and therefore it does not exist. Just like his Democratic opponent. And apparently, at least for one of the editors, that’s just fine. In fact, that’s such a just fine answer, the newspaper endorsed him for re-election!