Please Stop, You’re Making Me Look Bad


Okay, normally I’m vehemently opposed to identity politics on so many levels. I mean, yes, I’m still (sort of) a libertarian, so that right there is strike one. And I truly believe they are more trouble than value, being used divisively by both sides rather than in any meaningful and constructive way, so that’s strike two. And let’s be honest here, I’m a straight white cis-gender male, so there’s really no universe in which identity politics are going to paint me as the good guy.

But it’s that last point I really want to visit, because of late there’s been a reactionary force on the rise in American politics, a sort of “counter” identity politics that I feel a responsibility to speak out against. As someone told me recently, things have gotten to the point that if you don’t specifically stand against them, you are passively with them. And there are some groups out there who are trying to claim me on the basis of my ethnicity, my gender, or my sexual orientation that I have to say the following to:

PLEASE STOP, YOU’RE MAKING ME LOOK BAD.

Seriously, this shit is getting out of hand. I’ll take just a few of them to the carpet individually, but if you see yourself even remotely empathizing, supporting, or even thinking “yeah, but they kind of have a point” then you need to rethink your priorities.

Neo-Nazis: I’m going to tackle these fuck-knuckles first, mostly because it shames me that I even need to. What fucking century is this? What world do we live in that I even need to explicitly say “Nazis bad”? I would try to say something like “look, I get it, you’re angry, you’re lost, you’re hurting, you just want to belong”, but fuck that. You signed up with the Nazis. Lonely? Get a dog. Angry? Get a therapist. Lost? Get a counselor. Hurting? So are a lot of people. Just want to belong? May I suggest joining a club. Know what I don’t suggest? Joining the fucking Nazis. Here’s a hint: when you’re on the opposite side of FDR, Churchill, and Indiana Jones, you’re on the wrong side.

White Supremacists: All the hate, twice the crazy. (Here’s a pro-tip for you, President Trump: if you want to engage in some moral equivalency, this would be the way to do it.) While the Nazis have a twisted and warped ideology, they at least aren’t completely ignorant of modern history. I mean, I have yet to hear a Nazi say “Germany was just trying to fight off France’s War of Aggression.” There’s no point in trying to convince white supremacists of this, but again, we seem to live in a day and age where this needs to be explicitly said (especially since I was raised in Virginia, where apparently this is not taken as a given): The American Civil War was about slavery. Full stop. “No, wait, it was about states’ rights!” Yeah, the rights of some states to declare certain people the property of other people. And in case I wasn’t clear enough, let me go even further and say slavery is wrong. I don’t care what color your skin is, what your racial or ethnic background, who you worship, who you love… you know what guys, just read the fucking Constitution. I mean seriously, read the god damn thing. And not just the part that starts “A well regulated militia”.

InCels: This is one I just found out about, and while I thought the Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) made my skin crawl, these guys manage to take it to a whole new low. For those of you like myself who have never heard of this particular group of self-aggrandizing asshats, the term is short for “Involuntarily Celibate”. Apparently the conceit they have is that the fact they can’t get laid is because women are evil and have failed them, because they are men and… okay, this is the part that gets fuzzy, but it basically involves some mental gymnastics and a lot of hand waving… and therefore they deserve sex. The disturbing levels of entitlement, anger and bitterness, not to mention outright misogyny and rage prevalent among this group is frightening.

These guys probably bother me more than the others because they strike a little too close to home. I can actually remember a time in my own life when I could honestly say if all cops were women I couldn’t get arrested, and yeah, it made me a little bitter and occasionally angry. But my anger was channeled toward “what am I doing wrong?” not “why are women not giving me what I so clearly deserve?” (The fact that I was saying this while unemployed, living with my parents, and apparently incapable of dragging my ass to a gym is an irony not completely lost on me.) I would try offering some advice to these guys, but having been all too close to that abyss myself I already know it won’t help. I can only hope that one day they will realize that the path they are walking at best ends in further isolation, and at worst ends in misery and madness. If there was any chance they would listen to my advice, it would be this: stop worrying about sex. Wake up, smell your own bullshit, and do something to make your own life less pathetic. It really doesn’t matter if that makes you more appealing to someone else; you still gotta live with you.

That’s not all the groups out there who are co-opting my identity for their own ends, but that’s all I have the energy to throw the bullshit flag on right now. If there’s anyone I missed, please feel free to mention them and I’ll be sure to give them a tip of the hat in my next installment, “No Seriously, Just Shut The Fuck Up Already.”

Advertisements

A Response to Recent Events in Charlottesville


First let me state clearly what long-time followers of this blog should already know: I am a passionate defender of the right to free speech. I believe in the First Amendment, and have often said that while I may not agree with what you have to say, I will fully defend your right to say it.

However.

There are lines. Some ideologies, some belief systems are not only inherently hateful, they are inherently violent and intent on doing violence toward others. There is a point at which even allowing these viewpoints to be aired is an act of violence, as those who espouse these beliefs have shown time and again they will not stop with speech but will follow it up with action.

I am writing about those who espouse Nazi ideology, the KKK, white supremacists, and anyone who would stand with them.

In order for a civilized society to function, let alone thrive, we must all agree to live by at least the most basic rules. Those rules must also be reciprocal; “one set of rules for you, another set of rules for me” is a relic of a bygone age. It pains me to suggest that any viewpoint, no matter how odious, should not be allowed in the public sphere. But “I just want to have my say in peace” are words that have never been uttered in sincerity by anyone affiliated with any of these groups, and to labor under the delusion that they will ever be willing to participate in civil society by the same rules as the rest of us is a fantasy.

Rights are not absolute; “your right to punch ends where my nose begins,” as the oft-quoted aphorism goes. These groups and others like them have made it clear through word and deed that they will not be satisfied to live in a society that encompasses any noses other than their own, and they will gladly throw the first punch. That being the case, they have surrendered the right to voice those views or to demonstrate in the public space.

This is not a radical notion. If I threaten to harm someone by name (“I’m going to kill John Smith”), that is a crime. If I threaten to harm someone by description (“I’m going to kill that guy in the blue shirt”), that is a crime. If I threaten to harm a group of people (“I’m going to kill everyone I see in a blue shirt”), that is a crime. None of this is “protected speech”. Simply changing it to “should” rather than “will” is not a magic formula, especially when there is a history of violent action among a particular group, and that action is motivated by that same speech. Likewise, solicitation and incitement to riot are not covered as “protected speech”, and yet that is exactly what is happening again and again at these “rallies”.

This has to stop. We claim to be a civilized nation. It is time we stop letting evil use our own ideals against us.


New White House Travel Guidelines


Here at MNSHO, we have managed to obtain an advance copy of the President’s proposed new visa requirements. Enjoy.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for applying for a visa to enter the United States of America legally. We value visitors from other countries, and we want to assure you that your application will be considered with the greatest respect.

Please take the time to complete the survey below and return it to your nearest American Consulate office. Allow 6-8 months for processing.

Regards,

The U.S. State Department

 

Question 1: What is your name?

Question 2: What is your real name?

Question 3: What is your date of birth?

Question 4: Can you provide a copy of your birth certificate (long form) on request?

Question 5: Can you prove it isn’t a forgery?

Question 6: What is the purpose of your visit to America?

Question 7: You’re just coming here to steal our jobs, aren’t you?

Question 8: Why are you taking jobs away from REAL Americans?

Question 9: Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Democratic Communist Party?

Question 10: Translate the following passage: Трамп для президента в 2020 году.

Question 11: Solve for the following: If I got 304 electoral votes and you got 227 electoral votes, who’s gonna MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, HUH HILLARY?!?

Question 12: Are you a white, Christian, heterosexual, cisgender male?

 

 

 

Criteria for a visa: How did they answer question 12?


United Responds to Recent Controversy


Dear Valued1 United Customers2,

In light of recent events3 we at United felt we should honestly4 address5 your very understandable concerns6. We just wanted to promise7 you that your safety8 and comfort9 will always be our top concern10. Our passengers11 have a right12 to be treated fairly13, with the same dignity and respect we show our own employees14.

Remember: At United, you’re more than just a customer; you’re family.15

 

1: Like any commodity

2: Assuming we still have any

3: The total shitstorm dominating the internet

4: Honestly, we don’t give a shit what you think.

5: Placate

6: Like we really did give a shit what you think.

7: Promise not legally binding

8: Safety not guaranteed

9: Comfort subject to availability

10: Right behind squeezing every penny out of you.

11: “Passenger” is defined as someone who has successfully completed a flight and disembarked. Until then you’re fair game, sucker.

12: In the colloquial sense, not the legal sense

13: We treat you all with the same level of disdain

14: And you should see how we treat those poor fuckers.

15: See you at Thanksgiving.


Heartbreak Symphony Songlist


Side A

Song

 

Artist

Happy Ending Mika
Time Pink Floyd
When You Were Young The Killers
She Talks to Angels Black Crowes
Raining in Baltimore Counting Crows
In Our Bedroom After the War Stars
Pompeii Bastille
Glycerine Bush
Jumper Third Eye Blind
 

Side B

Song

Grey Cell Green

 

 

Artist

Ned’s Atomic Dust Bin

Closer Ne-Yo
Bizarre Love Triangle New Order
Another Rainy Night (Without You) Queensryche
Little Lion Man Mumford and Sons
Rock On David Essex
Demons Imagine Dragons
I Miss You Blink-182
Panic Switch Silversun Pickups
Sex On Fire Kings of Leon
First Cold War Kids

The Making of “Heartbreak Symphony”


This project started out as what I thought would be a simple idea. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, a lot of us who were teenagers at the time would try to impress the people we had crushes on by making them mix tapes. For those of you who are too young to know what those are, they’re kind of like playlists that you had to make with cassettes (no I am not going to explain what those are, just Google it), and they had a limited run time.  You had to find just the right blend of songs to express what you wanted to say in the time you had to work with, and there was definitely an art to it.

I got to thinking about that old art form, and about how sometimes you would pick a song because of a certain line or phrase, and how in many ways you were crafting a poem with someone else’s words. That inspired me to do just that – to write a poem completely out of other people’s words, taken completely out of context but arranged in the order that made sense for my needs, to express my feelings. I also wanted to do it in such a way that it would make a good mix tape, because that was an essential element of the original art form as well – it couldn’t just be a random jumble of songs. Well, I suppose it could, but a poem can also just be a random jumble of words. That doesn’t make it good. The artistry is in the flow, putting them in a certain order so that they sound good and take you on an emotional journey. I felt that if I could manage to do both, to create a poem that worked while at the same time creating a mix tape that worked, I would have achieved a multimedia art form unlike anything I had done (or seen) before.

The first step was the same as any mix tape: picking the songs. I went through and gathered up a list of over 60 songs by artists ranging from the Eagles to Limp Bizkit, paying particular attention to songs that had lyrics that grabbed me. They didn’t have to be anything in particular so long as it was something unique. From there I compiled all the lyrics of the songs with only two rules in mind: first, I had to use a given line complete as written in the song, and second I couldn’t use any line that contained the actual title of the song (I felt that would be cheating). At this point I started narrowing down my list fairly quickly, as I found many of the songs on my list either weren’t as compelling as I originally thought, or else they didn’t have lines I could use. I also found the general outline of the poem already beginning to form, which may have been due to the songs I selected. Whether it is due to my own particular taste in music or perhaps just the nature of pop music itself, I found that most of the songs I was finding quality lyrics in tended toward the melancholier end of the spectrum. (Personally, I think it’s more the latter – the first person who can find any poetic value in “Call Me Maybe” wins a gold star.)

Crafting the poem itself was a bit more of a challenge. It was easy to pick out individual lines I found compelling – too easy, in fact. As the goal was to make a mix tape, I couldn’t use any given song and (preferably) any given artist more than once, and I had a time limit as well. I had to consider the run time of each song I used as part of the poem, and although I have always been fond of the 90 minute cassettes, apparently I am also fond of songs with long run times. Sometimes I wish more artists heeded the mocking advice of Billy Joel from “The Entertainer” and “cut it down to 3:05”.  But I digress. As I went through and wrote the poem, I quickly realized I was piling up a large number of songs and likely would run out of time, so I went back and started adding in the length of each track next to its complementary line in the poem. As I did I saw that I would run out of space before the end of the second stanza, so I made the decision to cut that stanza entirely, which to be honest was not particularly strong anyway.

In this way, the constraint of the time limit turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It forced me to keep the poem tighter than it otherwise would have been and cut weaker material that I might have left in. It also provided me with the artistic guidance to break the poem into two stanzas which equate to the two sides of the cassette. While I believe both the poem and the playlist work very well as a comprehensive whole (and both are meant to be enjoyed that way), there is also a certain completeness to each component part, whether it be the individual stanzas or Side A/Side B of the mix tape.

I hope you enjoy it. Come back tomorrow for a complete playlist so you can enjoy the mix tape for yourself, and feel free to leave any guesses in the comments below.


Heartbreak Symphony


This is the hardest story that I’ve ever told.
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day,
you sit there in your heartache
in certain company.
And I don’t have nothing to say;
if there’s no one there, then there’s no one there, but at least the war is over.
We were caught up and lost in all of our vices –
I couldn’t change though I wanted to.
And if you do not want to see me again, I would understand.

When your desire has been found
I just can’t pull myself away –
living a life that I can’t leave behind.
You leave me wanting, always leave me wanting more.
But it was not your fault but mine,
and where do we go from here?
I need to let you go;
I cannot sleep, I cannot dream tonight.
Could I be anything you want me to be?
But it’s not forever –
Call it a dark night of the soul.