South Park

Kansas, Failing to Cope

Great Seal of Kansas (detail)

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.

(Associated Press)

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?Stryper

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.

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What it Comes To: Icky Girls and Terrorism Edition

Gamers .... (via South Park)

It is not necessarily the normal course for a stereotype. You know the one, about gamers and tech-heads being zit-faced, overweight, lonely guys in their mothers’ basements, and all that.

That is to say, normally such people work to overcome those stereotypes. And often it is difficult. Even Bill Cosby will tell black people to whiten up.

And then there is GamerGate, a situation we referred to last month as (ahem!) “a pretty minor scandal”.

About that … er … um … yeah.

Now just work with me here, for a moment. Please.

This is a purely behavioral phenomenon. That is to say, we might recall those who would combat racism or sexism by undertaking racist and sexist rhetoric. You know, the old argument about how there are women, and then there are bitches; or there are black people, and then there are niggers. And it is tempting to tell people to not live down to bad stereotypes, but that’s the point. Bad behavior is bad behavior, and it really shouldn’t matter what color one’s skin is or what they have between their legs.

But this? Gaming is not quite the same as being black or female.

All of which is our own little preface; the real point here is that Brianna Wu has responded to threats against her life and the lives of her family:

They’ve taken down women I care about one by one. Now, the vicious mob of the Gamergate movement is coming after me. They’ve threatened to rape me. They’ve threatened to make me choke to death on my husband’s severed genitals. They’ve threatened to murder any children I might have.The police just came by. Husband and I are going somewhere safe. Remember, #gamergate isn't about attacking women. (Brianna Wu, 10 October 2014)

This angry horde has been allowed to wage its misogynistic war without penalty for too long. It’s time for the video game industry to stop them.

Gamergate is ostensibly about journalistic ethics. Supporters say they want to address conflicts of interest between the people that make games and the people that support them. In reality, Gamergate is a group of gamers that are willing to destroy the women who have invaded their clubhouse.

The movement is not new. Two years ago, when Anita Sarkeesian tried to crowdfund a series of videos critiquing the hypersexualized female characters of video games, they threatened to kill and rape her. The movement reached fever pitch – and got its name — when a jilted former lover of indie game developer Zoe Quinn published transcripts of her life online. Gamers who were outraged over charges that Quinn’s game Depression Quest had received favorable reviews due to an alleged romantic relationship with a journalist, seized the opportunity to shame and terrify her into hiding. Now, Gamergate is a wildfire that threatens to consume the entire games industry.

Yes. Really.

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