This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “moral panics”

Ban All Images Just In Case, For Freedom

William Hogarth, "A Midgnight Modern Conversation" (1732)WARNING: The artwork contained in this post depicts an occasional nipple and a baby without undies. If you are under 18, don’t look, or you will die!!! If you are 18 or over, proceed at your own risk, but should you believe you may be harmed by the sight of a female breast or a naked infant, I do encourage you to consult your father, clergyman, therapist, your favorite political candidate or your local Chastity Pariah.

You sheeple will be happy to know that conservative heroes have uncovered the real reason Jay Carney’s kitchen has prints of two WWII-era Soviet posters in it: to make you sign up for Obamacare, convert to Bolshevism, embrace the theory of evolution and make Jesus cry. Never mind that these posters are virtually identical to American propaganda posters from the same era. Never mind that the posters convey rather unobjectionable ideas (unless you are a Nazi sympathizer): “Men, enlist! Your country [which, by the way, was actually honest-to-goodness invaded in WWII] needs you.” “Women, do your part on the home front!” (That “Natasha the Riverter” poster actually reads “strong home front — strong war front”.) Never mind that in recent years, vintage Soviet posters have become something of a fad, and their significance to people who hang them in their kitchens, or bathrooms, or dorm rooms, or laundry rooms, is ironic. No — wingnut pundits know upwards of 5 Russian words (including “dacha”, which this native Russian speaker apparently never understood properly), so leave it to them to tell you what these images really say to you, you poor bovine schmucks without understanding or willpower. 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…

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…

Quit Squawking About Valentine’s Day: A Postcard to the Outraged

Bitching about Valentine's day:  an art form since 1849.There was a time (back in the early fourteenth century) when I used to “protest” Valentine’s Day by wearing the most funereal black I could find in my mom’s closet. Most of my teenage years were embarrassingly boyfriendless, so naturally, I spent the day annoying the hell out of countless people with an umpteen-millionth account of who the real, historical St. Valentine was, and condescending banter about how stupid Valentine’s Day is. I thought it was very clever, edgy and original of me. But there came a point when I stopped doing that. You know why? Because I grew the hell up. Read more…

Relax, Medical Science IS Your Friend

It’s Luddism Appreciation Week over at Slate, apparently, first with a comically pretentious essay arguing that reading e-books is not real reading (please print out this entry on fine vellum and stroke it sensually, if you want the next ten minutes of your life to count) and now with one that explores the hypothetical existential crisis spawned by hypothetical brain implants designed to improve memory and cognitive function. All our i-goods and Internet addiction notwithstanding, technophobia remains a popular exercise in pseudo-intellectualism. Read more…

Arranged Marriage: It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

It is my experience that Americans are very romantic. And yet it is Americans, and to a somewhat lesser extent the rest of the Western cultures, who like to extol the supposed virtues of arranged marriages and poo-poo love matches. If you are a news and blog junkie, like me, you have probably read countless entries talking about how the institution of arranged marriage is a cure for divorce, unhappiness or the so-called “hook-up” culture, extolling it as the epitome of sensibility and the pinnacle of a stable, responsible lifestyle. Cherry-picked accounts by people (women especially) from patriarchal cultures swearing up and down how happy they are in a marriage to someone they did not even know before the wedding, someone picked by their parents, abound. And people lap it up. In fact, O Gentle Reader, you probably found this entry by Googling romantic stories about arranged marriages or happy arranged marriage accounts, or some other such nonsense — didn’t you? But clearly, this fascination with arranged marriage stems from the fact that most Westerners have absolutely no experience with this phenomenon and come from families where people have followed their hearts for so many generations, they retain no memory of what your garden-variety arranged marriage is really like.

So let me tell you a story about an arranged marriage in my family, which will, hopefully, introduce a dose of sober reality into this rosy picture. Read more…

Breaking News: Moral Conservatives are [Blanking] [Blanks]. Also: V*a*g*i*n*a.

As you probably have heard, last week, a female Michigan lawmaker was banned from speaking by that state’s House Republicans, whose tender sensibilities were offended when she uttered the word “vagina”. This recalls to mind last year’s incident in the Florida House of Representatives, when Republicans threw a hissy fit over one of their Democrat colleagues saying the word “uterus”. Read more…

Being Hostile to Immigrants Has Everything To Do With Race and Class

I’ve spent more than two decades living in one of the most diverse cities on the planet, and I am a naturalized US citizen. As a result, I think I know pretty well what the word “immigrant” means.

There are quite a few British people living in New York City (to the point where there was an effort last year, albeit unsuccessful, to designate a certain Manhattan neighborhood as “Little Britain”). Many of them are, legally speaking, resident aliens. Some of them are even (again, legally speaking) illegal aliens. And yet, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who refers to Brits as “immigrants”. Instead, they are known as “expatriates” or “expats”. Read more…

Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face

The latest insane flurry of right-wing efforts to roll back women’s reproductive rights and push women out of civil participation and public discourse has left many liberals certain that come November, Republican women will leave the fold in droves. I am not so sure. There have already been and will continue to be some defections among women who are slightly right-of-center, but the trickle will not become a flood. I do hope history will prove me wrong, but I doubt it will happen in this political climate. Read more…

The False Distinction Between “Illness” and “Lifestyle”

There is a relatively new argument in the conservative arsenal of talking points as to why health care plans should not cover contraception: because pregnancy is not a “disease”, and so preventing it is not a medical issue, but a “lifestyle issue”. That’s right: conservatives have become so deranged, sex is now a “lifestyle”. Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing dire warnings about the “sex-haver agenda”.

But let’s think about the logical implications of this new conservative principle, that there should be no insurance coverage for “lifestyle”, only for legitimate “medical problems” over which the individual has absolutely no control. One obvious implication is that, since “pregnancy is not a disease”, there should be no insurance coverage for pregnancy, child birth or post-partum care. After all, having children is, like sex, a lifestyle choice, and pregnancy is “natural”. In fact, since there appears to be a sizeable contingent of moral conservatives who believe that all women who have sex — even within marriage and even for procreation — are irresponsible sluts who must be held accountable for using their lady-parts, I would not be surprised if there is conservative support for forcing women to endure painful and dangerous child-bearing, just as God intended. So I do suspect that in arguing that “pregnancy is not a disease”, conservatives are laying the groundwork for denying care related to child-bearing, not just contraception. Read more…

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