Perniciousness, thy name is Buzzfeed

Via Ace, this gem – after my rant yesterday, it’s like the parasitic scourge that is Buzzfeed set out to prove my point for me. Some woman who no one has heard of, who only had 100 twitter followers, made a tasteless joke on twitter. I know! Totally newsworthy.

So yeah. Tasteless, but have you watched a primetime comedy lately? (Warning: Family Guy)

However, @BuzzfeedAndrew decided to make up for a slow news day by declaring her tweet the “worst tweet of all time”:

After the hordes of unwashed Buzzfeed readers were unleashed to enact social justice, her employer was besieged by complaints and released this statement:

“This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC. Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an international flight, but this is a very serious matter and we are taking appropriate action.”

So before this woman even completes her flight, her life was forever altered, potentially ruined, by some jackoff at Buzzfeed who wanted to get more clicks, and knew how to exploit the elementary school bully complex in his idiot readers.

That’s progress, people. Bully culture at its finest, and all in the name of political correctness and social justice. Merry Christmas, Justine.

Duck Dynasty Debacle

It’s somewhat frustrating how people are so quick to point out that the whole thing with Phil Robertson has nothing to do with “free speech” – sure, A&E can suspend him without violating the First Amendment, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the point being made. No one is arguing the government should intervene and give Mr. Robertson his job back.

What is being discussed is the culture of free speech in America, something that has drastically declined in the last 15-20 years. There is a natural balance of reaction that used to take place: in other words, the punishment fit the crime. If someone said something stupid or mean, then other people corrected or made fun of him. Now, it’s somehow become commonplace (and in a truly bizarre turn, treated as “more civilized”) to dodge any confrontation and instead impose legal or economic sanctions on someone for comments. Instead of using our words to discuss these controversial issues, we’ve devolved into hate-slinging and twitter-length jabs, followed by a public thrashing of the person in question.

This happens with both sides: only a couple weeks ago, Martin Bashir was harassed out of MSNBC for making crude and offensive remarks about Sarah Palin. Should he have been mocked and rebuked for his comments? Absolutely. Should he have lost his job? Probably not, unless his crudeness became so distasteful to viewers that his ratings tanked.

Similarly here, we have a case of A&E “killing the golden goose” by removing one of the most popular figures on its highest-rated show to appease the politically correct requirement that someone be sacked for upsetting a LGBT lobbyist group. Think about this: who has the power to most quickly and directly impact your life without recourse if they want to penalize you for saying something they don’t like – your government, or your employer?

If the media organizations agree that something is Politically Incorrect and Worthy of Punishment, and use their position to attack your employer to coerce them into imposing real penalties on you – suspensions, demotions, mandatory behavior seminars, etc – just because you said something they don’t like… then you’re in a very scary place, and there’s not much you can do about it.

So yeah, A&E has the right to fire Phil Robertson. MSNBC had the right to fire Martin Bashir. But – as Ace pointed out this morning – they also have the right to stick up for people’s right to say what they want, even if it’s unpopular, and as media companies, they really have a vested interest in doing so. The pushback is not against the government. It is, and should be, against this idea that “of course your employer can and should fire you for expressing an opinion.”

Let’s just go back to being civil to each other and not seeking to destroy the people we disagree with. As an aside, I think Phil knew exactly what he was doing. He’s got a history of clashing with A&E over their censoring religious stuff from the show, and has said he doesn’t enjoy the cameras. My guess is he’s not exactly heartbroken.

Happy Independence Day

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, having its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient suffrance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their acts of pretended legislation.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally, the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever:

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizen taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connection and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


“Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers” was the advice an old mentor, Charlie Bell, gave me years ago. It’s a bit of a cliche statement, I suppose – but if it is, that’s only because it rings of truth. I’ve always been a reader, and a voracious one at that. I remember distinctly the look of shock on the new librarian’s face when she told me, at age 10, that I’d checked out over a thousand books from the library – and the look of amusement from the other librarian, who’d seen me dutifully coming in and out of that branch since I was four.

That pattern of eagerly reading everything I could get my hands on continued throughout my teenage years, but at some point – I’m not sure when – I stopped reading books at the breakneck pace I used to. A couple weeks ago, I realized (with no small amount of horror) that I’d only read six books cover-to-cover in all of last year. That’s one every two months – this from a guy who used to average a book a day! In its place were thousands of blog posts, news snippets, forums, and discussion threads.

What’s interesting is how I see myself having changed during this time. It could be a result of this, or something else entirely – correlation does not equal causation, after all – but I honestly don’t feel as smart or as sharp as I did. I don’t feel like I’m sharpening myself as much as I was before. It appears there is some loosely scientific evidence to back this idea up – but regardless of what caused it, I do miss reading as much as I used to. That said, I’m making it a goal to read actual books significantly more than I have been, lately – I’ve gotten two down already this year, and I’m about halfway through a third right now – “A Feast for Crows,” by George RR Martin. Up next are A Dance With Dragons and then the Hunger Games series, but I’m open to suggestions as to what to read next – fiction or non, just so long as it’s a book and not a blog. So, what say you, my readers?

I’ll close with a video of a vaguely on-topic poem that I enjoyed.

Happy New Year

Every year I quote one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, as he has written probably the most charming New Years wish I’ve read anywhere. So here’s to you, readers:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

Happy new year.