This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

“Stupid” Is The Least Of It

Unknown, "A Laughing Fool" (c. 1500)So this Dutch 14-year-old got herself arrested for tweeting a terrorist threat at American Airlines. Copycats inevitably followed, because the world is apparently full of people who think that the worst thing about such tweets is that they are “stupid jokes”. Read more…

Ten Rules for Making an Official Apology

Pictured:  NOT Mike Maggio, Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch or that Duck Dynasty dude.  They wish.

Pictured: NOT Mike Maggio, Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch or that Duck Dynasty dude. They wish.

When politicians, public officials or celebrities get caught making outrageous comments, I find myself wondering about the anonymous machiavels who sit in the shadows and craft their boilerplate unapologetic apologies – which, as we all know, accomplish nothing except add fuel to the fire.

I wonder: is it a lucrative occupation, writing the same formulaic nonsense that never works over and over? (Maybe I’m in the wrong profession.) Do these people, who specialize in writing official apologies, actually heed public opinion, seeing as they are supposed to be Public Relations experts? Do they sincerely believe any of their tired semantic tricks for deflecting blame actually work? Do people really pay them for their “services”? Read more…

Auto-Da-Fé

The Burning of Sodomites (unknown artist, German, 1482)
My previous post, Teabagging Jesus, provoked a lengthy discussion in the comments, which devolved into a general argument about the supposedly unfocused and shifting nature of liberalism. At one point, a guest commented that people who harass confront (let’s use a polite term here) women in front of abortion clinics are motivated only by a good-faith concern for those women’s souls, not maliciousness. It’s important that we all understand that, the guest contended. After some reflection, I decided the topic deserves its own post. Read more…

Teabagging Jesus

Pieter Bruegel, "The Ass at School" (c. 1570)Per RightWingWatch, Family Research Counsel Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin gave an exhilarating speech about the meaning of “Biblical Manhood”. It’s pure comedy gold. According to Boykin, Jesus was a “man’s man” and a “tough guy”, who “smelled bad” and had huge biceps and bulging veins from all the carpentry he was doing. Boykin laments the “feminized Jesus” that the church presents, that provides no inspiration to modern Real American Men, men communicate by grunts, shoot unarmed “urban” teenagers for freedom and have more neck tattoos than teeth. Read more…

Shutdown Theater: The After-Party

Eugène Delacroix, "Liberty Leading the People" (1830)It was Slow News Time earlier this week, what, with things being pretty much back to normal, so when the President almost caught some lady who almost fainted during his speech, the media went all hog and talked about it ad nauseam. Which, of course, spurred a reaction from conservatives to the effect that the whole thing was staged. Not that it’s insignificant nonsense, mind you — but that it was faked. That makes sense. Because if you are trying to prop up the cult of personality of your favorite Kenyan Muslim Communist Supervillain, you don’t want to stage anything mundane, like for example him rushing into a burning building and saving a dozen babies, or diving into the ocean and fortuitously retrieving some amazingly well-preserved (and clean) 3000-year-old amphorae, or landing like a badass on an aircraft carrier and declaring an end to a war that’s actually kind of still ongoing in a big way. No. You want to awe the world with an act of heroism of gargantuan proportions, like, for instance, a tiny everyday courtesy that’s probably automatic for most people anyway (although, perhaps, not for Lady Patriot or anyone she associates with). Too bad Hussein ibn Obama’s amateurish Sharia Office of Communist Propaganda mucked it all up. This was all “poorly orchestrated drama,” Lady Patriot concludes, with all the authoritativeness of an expert. I bet every time the Usurper holds the door for someone, it’s poorly staged too. Obviously. Read more…

More Stupid Things People Like to Say: Third Installment

John William Waterhouse, "A Tale From the Decameron" (1916)People love saying things that sound clever. Especially people who aren’t very bright. Take that combination — an intellectually mediocre person and a desire to appear “deep” — and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the birth of notions so intensely stupid, they are destined to endure forever. These are notions that end up on “inspirational” posters of sunsets and beaches. These are notions that the world’s vulgarians repeat over and over — and still think themselves not only well-informed, but original. So here is my third list of certain pearls of “wisdom” that are common as dirt — and explanations as to how they are actually idiotic. (You can find prior installments here and here). Read more…

Great Expectations

Horace Vernet, "Barricade rue Soufflot" (1848)First, a disclaimer. There is no question that the recently enacted Russian law against homosexual “propaganda”, which not only makes it illegal to be openly gay in Russia, but in fact bans any public mention of homosexuality, is vile. It is a shocking assault on human rights and a prime example of the Russian government’s attachment to tyranny.

That said, I have to take issue with the protest at the New York Metropolitan Opera on September 23, 2013, whose participants demanded that the visiting Mariinsky Opera troupe dedicate their opening gala performance of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin to LGBT people and denounce their government’s action from the stage. Read more…

Trayvon Martin Was A Floozie

Udo Keppler, "A Good Beginning" (1899)I haven’t commented on the George Zimmerman verdict, because there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said by others more eloquently than I ever could. So not to beat a dead horse, I just want to briefly point out a detail that I haven’t seen discussed, but that I find very curious: the standard justifications that “impartial” people offer for killing Trayvon Martin are eerily similar to the arguments the same kind of people usually offer in defense of rape. Nay, they aren’t similar, they are exactly the same. Read more…

The Cadaver Synod

Jean Paul Laurens, "The Cadaver Synod" (1870)If you are in the mood for some really creepy obscure trivia from the Dark Ages, how about this little tidbit: circa 897 A.D., pope Stephen VI (VII) had his predecessor, Formosus, exhumed and put on trial for perjury and various vaguely defined offenses, such as doing priestly things “while being a layman”. The rotting corpse, still in its papal vestments, was propped up on a chair, and wires were attached to the dead man’s jaws. A deacon crouched behind the defendant’s chair, and as the corpse was being asked whether he admits his guilt on each of the charges, the deacon pulled on the wires to move Formosus’ lower jaw up and down and answered “yes” in a voice meant to imitate Formosus’, like a bizarre ventriloquist act. Surprising as it may be, the trial culminated in Formosus being found guilty of all charges, stripped of his papal robes, mutilated, and dumped in a communal grave for foreigners. Later, he was dug up again and cast into the Tiber. The current pope and his advisors reasoned that this would be a good way to show everyone what a bad guy Formosus had been and how righteous his successor was. The effect, of course, was the exact opposite. In fact, the whole episode proved so damaging to the Catholic Church, it outlawed posthumous trials in the aftermath of the debacle.

But alas, the most important lesson of history is that people do not learn from history. Read more…

The Long 1950′s … Behind the Iron Curtain

Yuri Pimenov, "A Wedding on Tomorrow's Street" (1962)As someone who grew up in a totalitarian Communist state, nothing infuriates me more than the incessant conservative droning-on about progressives being “communist”, “socialist” and “Stalinist”. People who say these things use such words as mere slurs, not much different than calling someone an asswipe, and of course, they betray both a profound ignorance of history and a great deal of contempt for it. But more than that, they’ve got it completely backwards. Truth is, American conservatives have remarkably a lot in common with Russian communists: the same obsession with ideological purity, the same irrational intolerance towards loyal dissent, the same prioritizing of ideology over practicality, the same preparedness to sacrifice liberties, human dignity and lives for the sake of ideological totems, the same clash-of-civilizations thinking, the same pretensions at worldwide cultural and political hegemony. And of course, the modern American conservative and the Russian communist of the bygone era share a deep and abiding dislike of people having unauthorized sex in pursuit of “instant gratification”.

Enter Congress’ resident comedian, Rep. Louie Gohmert, because of course he doth enter, for how could he not? After all, it’s only been a few hours since the last eruption of stupid from the right-wingers, and we haven’t heard from Gohmert in, like, days. With a name that sounds like a practical joke and every word coming out of his mouth worthy of an Onion editorial, he provides an endless parade of stupidity and ignorance, which is probably why he was elected in the first place. His latest installment revolves around the idea that teaching school children about human biology and reproductive health would turn us into the USSR. Read more…

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