Sunday, October 31, 2010 Jon Stewart's kind of an asshole, it turns out.

So I read this article by Mark Ames, who really comes down quite hard on this whole "Rally to Restore Sanity." Read it yourself, but his basic argument is that the whole thing is basically a way for people to avoid real political engagement; to avoid seeming too gauchely earnest about anything and thus looking, god forbid, uncool; ha ha it's all a big joke.

I think he's painting with an overly broad brush here; I have no doubt that plenty of the rally's participants were genuinely politically engaged people who just wanted an opportunity to have some fun and what's wrong with that? But the basic thrust of his argument rings very true to me, regardless of the motivations of any individual participants. I feel this way especially after hearing Stewart on Fresh Air a week or two ago, talking about the thing. I wrote a post about it, but I didn't post it at the time for whatever reason. I am going to do so it now. Roll tape:

Boy, you know I DO enjoy watching The Daily Show semi-regularly, but Jon Stewart was recently on the NPR interview show Fresh Air, and WOW, there were a few parts were he came off amazingly badly (transcript here). Here he is on the subject of this stupid Rally to Restore Sanity:

GROSS: Now, some people are worried. There's a big AFL-CIO liberal march, there's the FFL, the NAACP, a whole bunch of groups. Some people worry that your march is going to take away from their, like, serious political march.

STEWART: Right, yeah. Tough shit.

GROSS: Why do you say that?

Mr. STEWART: I have a job. I don't have to do yours. I don't have to do their job. Let them do their job. If their job is to motivate the voters and to rally people to their cause, God bless. Do whatever you've got to do. But that's not my job. My job is to, again, express our point of view comedically about what we view as the political process.

You know, I don't I have no obligation to the Democrats or progressives or liberals or unions. Our feeling is, corruption is corruption. If a union is corrupt, you can't leave it alone because it's a union, and they help so that 8-year-olds don't work in factories anymore. You know, you have to go where you feel like the absurdity is. So we're not anybody's we're not warriors in their cause. And if they're upset, they should have thought of that, you know, the past couple of years, before they lost, you know, the momentum that they had gained in 2008.

Someone sounds a trifle defensive here, no? There was a way to answer this question without sounding like an asshole. Stewart...did not successfully navigate this way. First, there's the "I don't actually care about issues or elections" bit. That would have been charming enough, but then, with no segue, we abruptly jump, with no provocation whatsoever, to "unions are corrupt" (presumably black people are corrupt also). Also, apparently if you need to have a rally to support your causes, there's something fundamentally wrong with you. I mean, what the hell? This is an incoherent, Mallard-Fillmore-level rhetorical performance. It's bullshit, and Stewart ought to know that it's bullshit.

Later on:

And its very easy to dehumanize, and I will say in this room: I would imagine, you know, Beck and Palin are easier punching bags, and we can think of it as, oh my God, I'm so scared if they take over. And you know what? We'll be fine. You know, we had a civil war. Just - we're not that fragile, and I think we always have to remember that people can be opponents, but not enemies.

Ha ha, yeah, why would anyone possibly think of right-wing political nihilists as anything but legitimate players in this big ol' crazy game of politics? Stewart has--or claims to have--this insane belief that the concept of "bipartisanship" has meaning; that we really all basically want the same things when it comes down to it. Um, no. Republicans (and many Democrats; let's not kid ourselves) want a corporate oligarchy. That's not what I want, or what any non-stupid/evil person wants. Really.

Will "we" be fine (and are we really meant to imagine that a second Civil War would be "fine")? Well, for a value of "we" that means "white straight multimillionaire talk show hosts," yes, I suppose it's hard to argue with that. The question of whether the tens of thousands of Americans who die each year because of our shitty health care system are "fine?" Or the ones who are dying in our meaningless wars? From malnutrition? From insufficient safety regulations? For want of a legitimate medical procedure? From the cynical stirring up of racial hatred? Homophobia? This is what right-wing politics gets you. It's pretty goddamned easy to get all philosophical and conciliatory when you happen to be a part of society's élite and you're never gonna be affected in any meaningful way by it all. It's the same thing I don't like about South Park, as I've probably noted elsewhere--sure, they can be very funny, but the whole "we're far too cool and hip and jaded and ironic to actually care about anything" business is just repulsive, whomever it's coming from.

A perhaps minor nit that nonetheless needs to be picked:

And this really is true: We don't fact-check, and we don't look at context because of any journalistic criterion that we feel has to be met. We do that because jokes don't work when they're lies.

So we fact-check so that when we tell a joke, it hits you at sort of a guttural level as opposed to it's not because we have a journalistic integrity. Hopefully, we have a comedic integrity that we don't want to violate.

Mm. Ya mean like the time you bought hook, line, and sinker into the one-hundred-percent-bullshit anti-acorn story brought to us by the unbelievably slimy James O'Keefe? Well all right then.

Here's the conclusion:

GROSS: So just one more thing: Do you have like, an experience on "The Daily Show," or as a comic, where you say, this is my peak experience; this is as good as it gets - like, this is so great?

Mr. STEWART: There was a congressional bill where they were going to get money for first responders for 9/11 for chronic health issues. And I mean, its a no-brainer. The people that went into the towers that - or were down there searching, to have their health bills taken care of...

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. STEWART: ...and legislative maneuvering - the Democrats wouldnt bring an up or down vote because if they did that, the Republicans would be allowed to insert amendments. And one of the amendments that they could insert was that you couldn't give any of the money to illegal aliens.

And so the Democrats were afraid that they would have a commercial that would be made that would say, you voted to give money to - so rather than standing up and being moral for the people that risked everything for us down there, they decided to try a legislative maneuver that made it so that two-thirds had to pass the bill, so that no amendments could be put in it. Well, the Republicans obviously, you know, shot it down -their own moral failing.

So we did a segment on the show called "I Give Up."

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEWART: And the ability to articulate our sense of just absolute sadness, but through a prism of comedy - like, we came in, in that morning just really despairing as we watched this go down. And we walked out that night, feeling like we had yelled and felt, you know, we had a -we put it through the prism and the synthesis and the digestive process that we put it through, and we made ourselves feel better.
And we didn't make ourselves feel better by ignoring it, by dismissing it, by not dealing with it. We made ourselves feel better by expressing our utter rage at the ineptness and lack of courage from our legislators. And we walked out of there that night feeling like, you know, what, (bleep) good day's work. That was it.

It's obviously a fucked-up situation--though Stewart for whatever reason downplays the mind-bogglingly offensive idea that it's important to make sure that any first-responders who are also illegal immigrants (is this a category that actually exists?) get fucked over--but I ask you: how perfect is it that Stewart's favorite moment ever was one that gave him the opportunity to get drunk on really unchallenging self-righteousness (you know what else was bad? HITLER.)? Seriously. Fuck that guy, and fuck his faux-reasonableness.

Vote for me!

"As you can see, my opponent has been filmed in sinister-looking black-and-white, along with a montage of grim-looking headlines. *I,* on the other hand, have been filmed in vibrant, living color! And look! I'm wearing a hard hat and talking to a construction worker! The change we need! Vote color! Vote me!"

Duck Comics: "The Halloween Huckster"

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I will say that I'm a bit benumbed at present. When I was a pubescent pup with my purity affecting my teary eyes I went prostrate on the floor of an abyss; my situation was dire. For mine own boughs were resembling an Asian horticulturist's pride and joy, and try as I might the apex of the pit was beyond my capture. I bellowed ire, chaff, and gall! And at the climax of my yawping a youth gazed over the lip of my pit. I expected the rube to stone me, maybe throw one of his blood-lusting hunting hounds inside the ring of my confines, he acting the Caesar to what would be my Christian end. Yet, as he bore into me with his judging regard, his large heart rose on the end of his merciful thumb. This gallant maneuvered the torpid limb of one black oak or walnut or willow—it's inconsequential at present—the instrument creating a gradient for my exodus from the chasm. And in gratitude, forever more have I brought his penned domicile my offerings. I thought to alleviate the burden of the hunt for his people, to bring them fresh victuals daily. Give them comfort. Give them repose. Let them wolf down my offerings. Ha! I have always had a sad wag to my tongue. Yet now I unearth the accusations of my nefarious behavior. I see what you're after. Well, you have sent these three to off me! Do you have no more women to blame? Are there no more blacks to censure? You have exterminated my brethren the Chippewa to position myself as the fountainhead for all your miscreant ways. With this I cannot accede. No! My generous ways are rescinded. If I am to be your reprobate I shall at least enjoy the malefaction!

You blame me for the future, you blame me for the past
You blame me for the plenty which you never can make last
You blame me for the heat, you blame me for the cold
You blame me for your courage which has never taken hold
You blame me for the light, you blame me for the dark
You blame me for the angels which never come to hark
You blame me for the dry and the wet that makes you ache
You blame me for your love which still has to take
You blame me for the sadness and your work which can't get done
You blame me for the mocking cast of the setting sun

I might as well commit the sins as for being blamed for them!
I might as well commit the sins as for being blamed for them!
As for being blamed for them!

And I have a redux to my thesis, a section 2A to my outline. As I satiated my needed dormancy in the womb of my grotto, escaping the loathsomeness of the sun, in a dream state I concocted my next program that held with a romantic lean—not like one of your matronly Southern poets who will drown themselves upon the first disclosure towards their acts of cribbing. Yet something with cunning; something with irony; it would take astute crackerjack execution. Even, dare I say, swell-headed! I would pad my feet over the nettles of the ebon forest, slink on my belly, succumbing to the chastisement of the thistles as I traverse through the pastel lea. Conscious and wary of the Nimrods lusting for my completion. Oh them Three Nimrods you sent after me! I would perch outside the thin black young trunk like spiked iron bars that encompass the hovel. Then I would flash my red wet smile up to his window, engrossing his youthful curiosity to descend to his cloister. And falling upon my haunch I would entice, then influence the boy to mount upon me as if I were one of your doltish labor beasts. Then I would traverse over the land, making him witness to my wretchedness, corroborator to my upheaval. And he would testify to these undue accusations. And would you people recognize him upon his return? And would this last act be the millstone round the neck of my catalogue of deeds?

You blame me for the future, you blame me for the past
You blame me for the plenty which you never can make last
You blame me for the heat, you blame me for the cold
You blame me for your courage which has never taken hold
You blame me for the light, you blame me for the dark
You blame me for the angels which never come to hark
You blame me for the dry and the wet that makes you ache
You blame me for your love which still has to take
You blame me for the sadness and your work which can't get done
You blame me for the mocking cast of the setting sun

I might as well commit the sins as for being blamed for them!
I might as well commit the sins as for being blamed for them!
As for being blamed for them!


The Three Wise Hunters

You've called for Three Hunters, Three Hunters are we
And you do tempt us to be your Three Kings
We've hunted in Egypt, Greece, and Norway
And we can replenish you of your freedom
And we can set you people free
But you must accept our offering
Now let us introduce what we bring

I'm Marcus Aurelius, I'm the King of the Sky,
I give you every stolen bird feather
Use them to wipe the pity from your eyes
I'll fly them to heaven to take away your pain
My subjects will carry your feathers forever
your pain will be so far out of your reach
I'm Marcus Aurelius and this is my offering
I offer to you to be your First King

I am Lucius, the King of the Water
I offer you the fat and the oil of the pickerel fish
I will flenser your fear off that congealed on yourselves
I'll take your fear and rub you with unguent
In mouths my baleens will hold your fear in safe keeping
I am Lucius and this, this is my offering
I offer to you to be your Second King

My names is Jonas, call me Jonas Groan
Banished to the Underworld where I'm mostly alone
All I got is a backbone from some hellhound
I'm sorry but that's all I found underground
Cold dark and lonely, I'll never let you get as low as me
I'm Jonas Groan and this is my only offering
Don't have to offer much to be only Third King

We are the Three Kings, we will keep you safe
we might hunt with a harness an ulu or arsenic
We'll take your pity and fear that keeps you lowly
And if we accept your offering and take your beast far away
then we will rule as your Kings
We'll start the hunt when you accede



Well I'm a slothduck, so weightful can't catch air
Circle your bath water jealous of the heron pair
Churned mud you can't get clean, turn your back to muck
Wish I was a big grai goose, stead of some homeless duck

Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai duck duck duck duck goose
Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai, who'll be chasing you?

Who'll be chasing?
Who'll be chasing you?

When weather falls, my duck's body wants to leave
I'm too fat and slow, and none can leave Lupercali
I've homed in tree and earth, lined my nest with hooves
But none keep me as safe and warm as I would be inside that old Wulf

Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai duck duck duck duck goose
Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai, who'll be chasing you?

Who'll be chasing?
Who'll be chasing you?

Well now I'm inside the gut of this old beast
I'm kept warm and safe while nesting in this warm keep
Look out between his ribs hiding all the day
I use them as a shutter watch Petr outside as he plays

Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai duck duck duck duck goose
Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai, who'll be chasing you?

Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai duck duck duck duck goose
Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai, who'll be chasing you?

Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai duck duck duck duck goose
Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai, who'll be chasing you?

Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai duck duck duck duck goose
Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai, who'll be chasing you?

Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai duck duck duck duck goose
Duck duck duck duck duck duck grai, who'll be chasing you?



Naturally, the refrain isn't in the booklet. If anyone can tell me what the heck he's singing, I would be grateful.

Be I jealous of the fear, the nonsense the Wulf puts in you
But pity's off limits here you put me in a decent fear
I speed along the bowerpaths, through chokecherry scrub
That wants me too…
It reaches out like Bedlam loons

There's no [??sorry??] here
No [??sorry??] here

Be I secretive to survive dog is lusting on my scent
I spray hard upon the bee hive, flies gather there, lay eggs inside
The Hunter breathes deep of my leavings, fly eggs fall in his pock-nose dents
The hive livens and hunts him down as I've sent

Be I willful with my manner, milk-full girls won't make me crave
Be I small inside my stature unreasoned fear is what I'm after
Shrunken gut decides confusion bowerpaths
I won't be swayed…less fly tricked and on me their eggs do lay

The air fall to the ground again
This cat falls and is falteringly human

There's no [??sorry??] here
No [??sorry??] here

I have heard the she-cats calling complete and bark for my strut
I see Three Hunters now approaching I can't hide while she-cats sing
That boy he wants to be companioned but girls has got me in their rut
Human feelings I can't shut

The air fall to the ground again
This cat falls and is falteringly human



I'm a little butcher bird whose kin has lit away
I came out of my egg and I found no family
Left all alone my feathers fell from me
I had to teach myself, teach myself to sing...
…Hear how I taught me…

Now I whisper hard into ear of the Scarebeast
He's my bestest friend but he's yet to answer me
Petr saddles up he wants to befriend me
His gall is large, I'm jealous of his family…
…It makes me sing…

My best friend's found his work to scare, makes parchment sound
When I preen his hair, I sit his shoulder as if I am a miracle
I'd lift Scarebeast up to the sky, If he would only teach me how to fly
We'd take my feathers and pay them to Aurelius
Aurelius say he's not that type, to work behind the other two's unkind
He admires my love but my body's payment, it ain't enough

Since Aurelius say he cannot help me
I'll find a new way to help my best friend Scarebeast
Scare, you don't question my comforting
You've no truck with discussion so my help to you I sing…
…It's Comforting…



I have become that worn man with the leathern skin
It feels like there's a barbed pin needle shootin rapids through my bloodstream
And I can see my veins throbbin opaque through my bird-neck skin
But I would retake back all them years if Wulf would repay my kindness with Wulf's teeth

It could be pork on Friday and fish on the Sabbath
It could be pork on Friday and fish on the Sabbath
If I could wear that old Wulf's teeth

And I would take my Grandson down to town and we'd look on all them girls lined up on them splintered branches
I'd flash my pumpkin-toothed grin and I would get me three of them
Then I would give one to Petr who has yet to cut his teeth
He'd have to gum them but for me with Wulf's teeth

It could be pork on Friday and fish on the Sabbath
It could be pork on Friday and fish on the Sabbath
If I could wear that old Wulf's teeth

Now Petr put me upstairs and I'm locked inside this trap
There's only left that six inches where I see his shadow going forward and back
He slides my dinner neath them six inches and mashed it in one my traps for me
He'll quit me of this family, and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth

It could be pork on Friday and fish on the Sabbath
It could be pork on Friday and fish on the Sabbath
If I could wear that old Wulf's teeth

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no



They named me Petr not Mark, Luke, or Paul
I still gots prophesies of things I'll do and done
I saved my Grandpapa from the Bedlam's gate
Sprung him from that trap, brung him home to teach me family ways

Now Grandfater welcome back to cloistered home
I got questions bout everything, then more questions on top of those
If you teach me love, teach me hate, teach me of Ahmen
Then Grandfater I will spring from your hand as planned

But then he changed my plan when he trapped me in my room
He locked the door real hard and said "don't you see the dangers true!"
I watched him tween the bars of my windowed room, tighten the cloister locks
We watchin each other both sayin, "now this is tough"

So I grabbed my Grandfater as he fed me in my room
I switched our roles, locked hard the door, said "Grandfater now I'll teach you"
Teach you love, teach you hate, reteach you all you know
And Grandfater I will teach you our new family laws

I have no other, no sister no brother
I have no other, no father no mother
I have no other, no sister no brother
I have no other, no father no mother
I have no other, no sister no brother
I have no other, no father no mother
I have no other, no sister no brother
I have no other, cause I ain't got brother

Well Grandfater now put your gun away, I'll put the Wulf in our cloister
Yous can keep each other company
The iron spikes that held me tight, the best traps on our ground
Of that you never took no note, but I'll bring that beast home to keep all down



Petr he is crying out from his room again
Peers under the door's crack and wonders which side be his sin
Spring himself and Grandfater each from their own traps
Six inches under door the same as window cracks

It's a mad mad way he's living, that's his destiny
It's a mad mad way he's living, I bear witness on thee

Grandfater is falling out of the room again
Can't spring himself from this trap Petr's put him in
Grandfater peering out of the window high
Grandfater let's out an old man cry

It's a bad dad way he's living, that's his destiny
It's a bad dad way he's living, I bear witness on thee

Three hunters they are coming to this land again
They wander through the Wandering, mountains and ocean
They don't give heed to three birds, a different hunt they seek
Not themselves, bird, duck, or geese

It's a glad glad way they're living, that's their destiny
It's a glad glad way they're living, I bear witness on thee

The Wulf he be a-screamin from his wood again
Laughing at the hunters who come to do him in
The Wulf he is a-comin head-on towards me
He ain't afraid of this Scarebeast

It's a cad cad way he's living, that's his destiny
It's a cad cad way he's living, I bear witness on thee

This town it is falling down, down into the sea
Mountains they are heaving up all Lupercali
Closer comes the Wandering six inches everyday
One day this place fades away

It's a sad sad way we're living, that's our destiny
It's a sad sad way we're living, I bear witness on thee
It's a sad sad way we're living, that's our destiny
It's a sad sad way we're living in Lupercali!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Munly & the Lupercalians, Petr & the Wulf (2010)

If you listen to Munly's splendidly fractured new album with no context whatsoever, it will be totally impenetrable to you. If you are familiar with Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, it will be slightly less so. And if you read this blog post by the man hisself, less still.

Regardless of how much you prepare, however, there is still going to be a certain amount of inexplicability to it, and that's all to the good.

The album consists of eight songs from eight different perspectives: a "scarewulf" (like a scarecrow for wolves), Petr (all spelling idiosyncrasies Munly's own), his Grandfater, the bird, the cat, the duk, the three hunters, and of course the wulf himself.

However--this probably goes without saying--you would not even remotely be able to extrapolate these characters' inner lives as imagined on this album from Prokofiev. Munly quite deliberately rips out the story's innards, to the point where the characters themselves--deconstructed beyond all forbearance--collapse into a maelstrom of half-forgotten legend and atavistic, unconscious urges (it's actually quite postmodern). How is one possibly to interpret the duk's perverse desire to be eaten by the wulf as anything but a longed-for return to the womb? The cat's impossible desire to be the wulf as aught but a mixture of thwarted libidinal urges and an inner conflict between civilization and savagery? And let us forget not the Wulf himself, of course, onto whom is heaped all of humanity's blind, unreasoning rage and fear.

The album's centerpiece, "Three Wise Hunters," is its best song and--probably not coincidentally--its most abstruse. The hunters--each of whom gets his (or her? Is the last one actually a woman, or is it just the singer?) own verse--are presented as sort of elemental Promethean figures, representing heaven, ocean, and hell, and offering metaphysical gifts appropriate to their stations that seen intended to protect humanity from the nameless angst that bedevils it ("I offer you the fat and the oil of the pickerel fish; I will flenser your fear off that congealed on yourselves; I'll take your fear and rub you with unguent; in mouths my baleens will hold your fear"). Of course, this primal terror is what the wulf represents (rightly or wrongly), so it's only fitting that it's what the hunters would be combatting.

This mythologizing may also be meant to emphasize the "Lupercalian" aspect of this project, Lupercalia of course being an ancient pagan celebration. Additionally, this may or may not have something to do with why the first hunter is inexplicably named "Marcus Aurelius," though if the historical Aurelius had some special connection to Lupercalia, I don't know what it is (the other two are named "Lucius" and "Jonas Groan"--your guess is as good as or better than mine). The song itself is great, especially Jonas's verse, which is sung by--I think--the same Rebecca Vera who previously did the female section of "Goose Walking Over My Grave" from Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots.

Which reminds me that I haven't talked much about the music itself; if you're a fan, you'll know what to expect--it's the sort of hyper-lyrical, alt-alt-alt-alt-country Munly shit that we've come to expect from The Jimmy Carter Syndrome and Lee Lewis Harlots, with the usual torrential outpouring of words that shouldn't scan at ALL and sometimes don't but which still somehow manage to sort of hold together. They're very good, notwithstanding a bit of silliness on "Scarewulf:" the inanimate scarewulf comments on the other characters; he starts with Petr and the refrain goes "it's a mad, mad way he's living;" the refrains for the other characters all repeat this with words that rhyme with "sad," creating a somewhat incongruous Dr-Suess-ish effect, especially when, for grandfater, it goes--no joke--"it's a bad dad way he's living." Stop! You must not hop on pop! I'm observing more than really complaining; these refrains are actually very effective, and the song works, bad dad and all.

"Duk" also stands out, with its frenzied "duck duck goose" chorus. I've already mentioned the hunters; I haven't gotten into the psychodrama of "Petr" and "Grandfater," but come on--we'll be here all night. The closing "Wulf" is more of a monologue than a song (another Munly tradition, of course); it's nowhere near as arresting as "The Fabulous History of the Churchill Falls Barrel Races" from Jimmy Carter, but what is? It does the job.

The best part is that this is supposedly only the first of a two-record narrative. Perhaps the sequel (let's hope it doesn't take another five years to get here) will answer some of the questions raised in Petr; more likely, it'll just raise a whole bunch of new ones, but hey--it's Munly! That's what we're here for!

Truth be told, the individual tracks here probably aren't generally quite as strong as those from the two previous records, but this is more than made up for by the peerless sense of atmosphere that the narrative generates. Ferfuckssake, if you're a Munly fan, you should own this; if not, maybe you should be! Or maybe not. There's probably a reason he's under-er than underground. But I think the record is fantastic and well worth the wait. Booklet includes lyrics, too; I'll post them in the near future.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Duck Comics: "Around the World in 80 Bucks"

Saturday, October 09, 2010

In lighter news...

This li'l feller somehow got into my apartment and was apparently just sort of chilling in my back room. Several times yesterday morning, I was awoken by his--or her!--crashing around my bedroom, looking for god knows what--my room is a bit messy, yes, but it contains nothing that could remotely be construed as food. Chipmunks are cute, yes, but the brown blur dashing out of the room when I woke up and started moving around was undeniably a little nonplussing. Anyway, he or she somehow managed to transport several carrots out of the cage without setting off the trap, but eventually, I got him (look, I'm just going to say "him," okay? This is silly) and released him into outside into the undergrowth, where I presume he will live a happier life than he was indoors. Well, unless he gets eaten by a hawk or something, but nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw really isn't my responsibility. Godspeed little guy.

Bruce Tinsley is a thoroughly disgusting person.

Yeah, I've talked more than my share of trash about Mallard Bloodpool in the past, but this week has definitely been Tinsley's ne plus ultra. You, reader, are an intelligent person, so unlike me, you almost certainly haven't been keeping up with his excretions, but this week has been a "hilarious" series about how all Muslims are bloodthirsty, subhuman savages. Think I'm overstating the case? Well, if you MUST see for yourself, click here and work your way forward.

It's really quite extraordinary, the way he doesn't feel the need to make even the most half-assed of "I'm-not-saying-ALL-Muslims..." disclaimers. That's apparently unnecessary in our current political climate, which is scary as fuck. Never mind the fact that with even the tiniest bit of research, one could find any number of violence-denouncing Muslims--that, of course, is beside the point, which is plain ol' dehumanization. It wouldn't matter if the billion-plus peaceful Muslims in the world spent all their waking hours engaged in non-stop self-flagellation over every single outrage that can even remotely be traced to their coreligionists--nothing will ever, EVER be enough for Tinsley and his ilk, and in fact, any denunciations are just greeted as evidence that, HA, we TOLD you all Muslims are violent--they even ADMIT as much!

You know, I grew up with Muslim friends; I've had Muslim fellow-students, colleagues, coworkers--and (I know this goes without saying for anyone who isn't a throughly hate-warped monster, but bear with me) they exhibit the normal range of human behaviors that everyone else does. I suppose it's easy to just denounce them as a group if you've never ever MET, let alone had any meaningful interactions, with any of them, but if you have, this bullshit just becomes even more unconscionable. Here you have regular people trying to lead regular lives, and then you have a loathsome, cowardly little shit like Tinsley calling them "creatures" right there on the fucking comics page. Of course, Tinsley himself doesn't amount to anything, but this is just another brick in the wall--it relates back to my previous crie de coeur about the "ground-zero" "mosque." But I just cannot fucking forgive these hateful, empathically-withered monsters who don't give a shit about the lives they destroy as long long as WHAT? For some it's a cynical matter of political gain, but god KNOWS what Tinsley thinks he's getting out of this. I don't really think he's smart/canny enough to be thinking in those terms. I suppose it's just more goddamn tribalism.

Anyway, not that HE cares, but I sent him the following email:


I just wanted to say I've been really enjoying your strips this week pointing out how all Muslims are barbaric, subhuman savages. I know some people who claim that it's somehow "wrong" or "unfair" or "monstrously evil" to dehumanize a quarter of the world's population, but they've just been influenced by the liberal media. I keep TELLING them that the only reliable sources for news are Fox, Rush, and Stormfront, but they just won't listen. Pft.

Anyway, good luck with the Nobel Prize thing [referring to this]. I'm pretty sure spewing mindless bigotry is exactly what the committee members are looking for, so you should be in like Flynn.

Your biggest fan,

All I want for Christmas is some Western Civilization.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Okay, look, so I know that a lot of my students are not exactly progressive. Nevertheless, it must be said, this is my eighth semester of teaching, and this is the first time something like this has happened.

I was teaching this evening--or TRYING to teach; the early class went really well, with an effortless, free-wheeling discussion of paper topics, but the later one is always like blood from a stone, and this was no exception (and this isn't the first time my classes have had this night-and-day quality to them--an odd phenomenon). Nonetheless, I did my level best to try to engage people.

The subject of movie ratings came up, and to make the point that these things are very political and often highly questionable, I mentioned a preview that I saw, years ago, for a biopic of Oscar Wilde. This preview was rated R--not just the movie, but the preview. Instead of the usual green screen, it started with a ferocious red one. Hide the children! This preview was not in any way inappropriate for anyone, except that--as I noted--GAYGAYGAY! To which dude in the back responds--not really talking to me; more like just into the ether--"fucking fags" (it might not have been 'fucking,' I couldn't quite catch the first part, but the sentiment was apparent). One tries to be generally fairly laid-back when teaching, but this was obviously a moment in which it was necessary for me to inform him in no uncertain terms that this was NOT an acceptable mode of discourse. What? he responded, looking nothing more than confused. Well, what did you say? I asked, hoping that either I had misheard him or, at the very least, that he would have gotten the picture by then. Faggots? he responded, seeming genuinely puzzled. What am I supposed to call them? The generic "gay" apparently hadn't even occurred to him (not that not using a particular slur was going to magically change his attitude, but in this context, I'm not exactly equipped to deal with root causes, and I can't do nothing).

He got the message, sort of, but it's not as though he learned anything except possibly that his teacher has weird hang-ups about certain words. Homophobia this blatant and this deeply ingrained just blows my fucking mind, as naïve as that may make me. I don't know if there are any gay students in this class (there's definitely at least one in the other), but there've been plenty in the past, and even if not, what the fuck? How barely-socialized do you have to be?

You can say that something like this isn't a big deal, but I cannot laugh it off, because this is the kind of pervasive, toxic bullshit that adds up and leads to the recent (but really, just prominent recently--it's never not been a thing) rash of gay kids killing themselves that prompted Dan Savage to react with this (which is a really moving video that you should watch). And this is the same bullshit that is perpetuated by the sociopathic religious right, even with all their empty "love the sinner, hate the sin" rhetoric. It's also why I can never forgive Parker and Stone for that South Park episode where, haha, we're redefining "fag" to mean "douchebag"--no you're not, you fucking jackasses, because, for all your intolerably smug, way-too-cool-to-actually-care-about-anything attitude, people like this kid in my class exist, and YOU ARE NOT HELPING.