[ Scene: doctor’s office ]
“There you go, you got your measles shot! Who’s my brave little boy!”
[ Internet commenter bursts in through door ]
“BRAVE? MY UNCLE FOUGHT IN VIETNAM AND WAS SHOT FOUR TIMES DEFENDING HIS SQUAD’S POSITION AND PROBABLY SAVED THEIR LIVES.”
“Wait, how did you get in…”
“INDISCRIMINATELY USING THE WORD BRAVE LIKE THAT ON A CHILD DIMINISHES THE LEGACY OF MY UNCLE’S COURAGE.”
“How does the…”
“YOU ARE WORSE THAN HITLER. ALSO YOUR CHILD PROBABLY HAS AUTISM NOW AND I REFUSED VACCINATIONS FOR MY CHILDREN AND NOW PEOPLE ARE ATTACKING ME SO WHO IS REALLY THE BRAVE ONE HERE?”
[ Comments have been disabled ]
I’m relieved the Patriot Act’s NSA’s surveillance-slash-domestic spying provisions have expired. I’ve been holding in these farts for 14 years.
Greetings, Internet poster! Based on your tweet history, you have been recruited to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada!
A good data visualization is, in its essence, one that requires little or no explanation in order to understand. I’ve made this Venn diagram as part of my (proposed) TED talk to help you understand.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you are in any way associated with the TED scheduling department.
If we can pass a law that helps to prevent bullying in schools in Minnesota, we can pass a law that helps prevent bullying on the sidewalks in front of women’s health clinics.
Because let me be very clear: bullying is EXACTLY what these people are doing. To call it “sidewalk counseling” as they scream at people, spew bile at the escorts and harass the clinic workers is a blatant example of bearing false witness: a hypocrisy their cherry-picked version of “religion” seems to have no problem with.
The relationship between people who oppose abortion in general and these bullies is the same as the relationship between a normal religious person and a member of the Westboro Baptist Church: the first can include many reasonable people with considered positions, the ability to disagree with others yet still remain civil, and a huge degree of empathy for suffering in others that can move many to action. The second are a fringe group of horrible hypocrites with gnarled, knotted remnants of souls and something black and petrified where their hearts used to be.
You discover something truly frightening and revelatory about what humans can become when you repeatedly witness the lightning-quick transition from a facade of caring piety, calling out “we’ll take care of your baby” from behind a tentatively-respected property line, into furiously spitting “YOU’LL ALL BURN IN HELL”, the minute the clinic doors close behind a patient. No one who truly cared about a child would leave him or her for a second with this kind of person, let alone a lifetime. And instead of requiring them to get the psychological help they desperately need, we have no option but to let them expose their twisted version of humanity to women and families seeking medical services.
It’s bullying, plain and simple. We can and have put legislation and programs in place to help reduce it in schools: we should be able to do the same for sidewalks. We can draw a line that protects freedom of speech and reduces this harassment, and for those who think this line is too hard to define or worry where to draw it, I’ll invite you to stand with the escorts for a few days: if you think the line is murky or hard to place or that it’s unclear where it should be drawn, I guarantee that you will quickly discover yourself understanding that there definitely is a line, and the person in front of you yelling hatred is definitely over it.
It’s time for anti-bullying legislation that protects the women and families entering these clinics.
There are two things which my brain is thoroughly convinced I am good at, in spite of the fact that I suck at them both and have never successfully done either in my life:
Tap-dancing and juggling.
But I constantly, CONSTANTLY have dreams in which I demonstrate coolly casual, master-level expertise at both, and when I wake up I do so with the briefly-lived, sincere and complete belief that I am awesome at them. It lasts about 60 seconds.
To this day, I can juggle up to one ball without hurting myself, and tap one foot to a rhythm no more complex than a Britney Spears tune. That’s it. But try telling my brain that: it’s convinced that if I just tried them once more, the latent skills would all come flooding back to me and I would be AMAZING. Because I have all this dream experience, and that’s almost like practicing, right?
So I do. And I look like a dumbass once more.
Goddammit brain: I hate you so much.
And any time it doesn’t use lying to me about my juggling and tap-dancing skills, it spends dreaminding me how crappy and stressful high school was. THIRTY GODDAMM YEARS AGO.
If you see people walking into a store or a restaurant with openly-carried rifles and weapons, there is no way for you to ascertain what their intentions are. You can’t tell whether they are a “good person with a gun”, a “bad person with a gun”, or a “generally good person with a gun who could be triggered by some unknown level of confrontation into becoming a bad person with a gun” or anything in between.
The correct action to take is to remove yourself from the situation. Abandon your cart of purchases, don’t worry about paying for food; just get out. It is perfectly rational to feel unsafe, and it’s better to be out of the way in case their (unknown) intentions are not good ones. You should not feel obligated (legally OR morally) to stay and pay for your purchases if you feel your life is endangered. If you are in a restaurant and have already eaten your meal, you can call the restaurant after the fact, let them know why you left, and offer to pay for it over the phone. You may call the store and explain why you left your purchases in a cart in the middle of the aisle. You may also advise them whether you intend to return to the restaurant or store if you do not feel safe there.
It’s a risk with which companies that allow open-carry into their stores and restaurants will have to learn to deal.
Unless you can explain to me why I should always feel perfectly safe when random people carrying rifles walk into a Target store or a Mexican food restaurant or any other place where rifles are not part of the general commercial activities conducting within, then this seems to be a perfectly rational response. This isn’t even a gun-specific action: I would probably do the same thing if someone came into a Chipotle wielding a chainsaw.
Then again, “Stand Your Ground” laws in your state also allow you to take matters into your own hands if you are armed and feel threatened, and act preemptively. I can’t make any recommendation in that situation, but it seems to me that the law would be pretty clearly on your side in those cases.
“Have you met the Killersteins? Absolutely lovely couple, quite charming. You’d really like them. Unfortunate last name though!”
“Ha ha, yes. It does rather make them sound like murderers.”
“What? Oh yes, but they are: serial killers, both of them. Quite psychopathic. I meant it’s just so unfortunate to telegraph their intentions quite so blatantly. There’s just no subtlety: it completely *ruins* the surprise.”
– Excerpt from my upcoming book “Murderbia in Suburbia”, available in 2015 through every possible publishing company in the world simultaneously because it’s so awesome and they each felt unworthy to publish it by themselves.
Granting rights to corporations is what gives us freedom of the press and many of the positive rights enjoyed by unions and non-profit organizations that we support. I’m not saying I agree with the Court’s rulings in Citizens United and Hobby Lobby: I’m just saying that a blanket statement of “corporations don’t have rights like people have rights” and any movement to amend the Constitution to remove those rights has a very hard job ahead of itself to carve out the consequences we don’t like about granting rights to corporations (which are, at the end of the day, just groups of individuals) from the consequences we do like.
There’s a reason the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government and to free speech are in the same Amendment. The combination of those three is what gives us the ACLU, for example. Whenever you move to amend, don’t just think about what your proposed amendment will do to Hobby Lobby: think about what it will do to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to the ACLU, to the AFL-CIO, to the press, and to for-profit companies that use their money for speech that you support, not just that which you oppose.
Let’s just say I’m not opposed to a “move to amend”, but when organizations that promote the amendment say things like “money is not speech!”, they aren’t clearly contemplating the consequences of that statement. Any movement that restricts a person’s OR GROUP OF PERSONS’ right to political speech and expression of political opinion will find it close to impossible to do without screwing up the very freedom to conduct robust, fiery and heated debate about the political climate which led to the creation of the United States in the first place. It took money to publish the Federalist Papers.
When a site like “Move to Amend” proposes an amendment that strips all Constitutional rights from any and all “artificial entities established by law”, I think of freedom of the press and shudder.
There’s probably a way to achieve these goals through an amendment process, but I have yet to see proposed a good way to do it that doesn’t undermine principles of expression, self-determination and self-government cherished by both the left and the right.