A Checklist of Offensive Topics
Last week I mentioned the Indian friend that I met at the institute Christmas concert a year ago. Of course I only mentioned his nationality because I love Indians, and I'm very excited that India is set to get its third LDS stake (Rajahmundry) this weekend and a fourth (New Delhi) sometime next year. Anyway, I hadn't talked him for a few months, but right after that post I contacted him again.
As you can see, he still has his priorities straight. He has taken a lot of interest in my love life. When I met him, I also met the LDS white girl who had brought him to the concert, but I never spent much more time with her or got to know her like I did him. I inquired about her one time and he inquired back, "Do you like her or...?" And the truth was that a lot of times I don't categorize women as "I'm interested" or "I'm not interested" but just have them on a spectrum where they can move one way or the other as I get to know them more. But his English wasn't perfect and I didn't know if he would understand something so unusual, so I was just like, "A little bit", which was accurate enough.
And then, before I ever told him about my depression he knew about it by deducing from my eyes that I had a lot in common with him. So somehow or other he got it into his head that I was obsessed with this girl and would slit my wrists or something if she broke my heart. He was really concerned and gave me a lot of pep talks about having self-esteem and not basing it on her. I never corrected him because I feel awkward about contradicting people because I associate disagreements with people hating each other, and also frankly it was good advice and I was super touched that he cared so much. After some time he had to bring me the news that she had gotten a boyfriend, and he was super worried and ready to be there for me. I really didn't care. I was just like, "Good for her."
"Oh, good," he said. "I hope you are better and out of her now." I think he meant "over her".
As I've been going through old posts trying to search engine optimize them, I realized that I wrote about dating a lot more than I thought and evolution a lot less than I thought. I'm writing about both right now so that ratio will remain the same.
There are a couple of problems with this meme. First, "not meant to be"? Sure, maybe if you want to bring God into it and presume that God hates you, but if you're approaching it from a purely scientific angle, that's nonsense because evolution is guided by chance, not destiny. But the second problem is much bigger and basically ruins the whole thing. Many people mistakenly believe that evolution and/or Darwinism is synonomous with natural selection, but that's not the case. As early as his original book Darwin outlined another force known as sexual selection. Whereas the former is about survival, the latter is about reproduction and acts not just independently of, but sometimes in direct opposition to, natural selection. For example:
Boy Moose: Hey there, girl moose. I just wanted to let you know that I'm really strong and adaptable and my genes would make a great contribution to your offspring, which I realize is something you get to be picky about because you will invest a lot more energy and resources into them. What do you say?
Girl Moose: Hmph. Prove it. I'm really into big antlers - grow a pair, then we'll talk.
Boy Moose: What?? But growing big antlers would be a total waste of my crucial resources, and they could get tangled in trees and bushes, making me more vulnerable to predators!
Girl Moose: Hmph. If you're really as strong and adaptable as you say, those things shouldn't be an issue.
Boy Moose: But – oh, fine. Hrrrrrnk... [Pop! Pop!] There. Two of the biggest antlers any woman could ask for. Happy?
Girl Moose: Now use them to fight for me.
It might seem silly, but she was a very cute moose. Made all the boy moose go "Whaaaaa!" Of course, humans are special and superior to other animals so sexual selection doesn't apply to us and has nothing at all to do with the evolutionary basis for archaic dating gender roles that I mentioned last week. No, actually it does, but I'm not going to complain about that again (for now) because it's pretty benign compared to many of mankind's other primitive "quirks".
Can You Tag...
There are a few demographics that it's still acceptable to be prejudiced against, such as mentally ill people (just don't be too blunt about it), anyone who doesn't share your political leanings (be as blunt as you want), and at least one of the Abrahamic religions depending on said leanings (Christians if you're liberal, Muslims if you're conservative, Jews if you're a conspiracy theorist). Oh yeah, and ugly people. Thousands of people consider it find and dandy to post Facebok memes of ugly people with captions like "Can you tag Dave? He left without paying last night" and then all laugh at the notion that Dave would have sex with someone so ugly. Because apparently once you cross a certain threshold of ugliness you no longer have feelings or dignity. All that stuff we say about "looks don't matter", "it's what's on the inside that counts", and "everyone is beautiful"? Yeah, we were just kidding. This form of prejudice is nothing more or less than another head of the same monster that spawned racism, sexism, nationalism, tribalism, homophobia, and all the other ways humans have been douchebags to other humans for as long as they've existed.
I don't know anything about the people I've seen in these memes - except one. Believe it or not, she's a person and she's alive somewhere and she even has a name: Lizzie Velásquez. She has a disease so rare that it doesn't have a name, and she can't create body fat and she has to eat every twenty minutes and she's gone blind in one eye.
Yes, she is aware that she has become the subject of one of these memes, and it isn't her first such discovery. One evening she was just browsing YouTube, minding her own business, when she stumbled upon a video called "The Ugliest Woman in the World". It wasn't really a video, just a picture, a picture of her. It had millions of views. People in the comments were saying things like "Kill it with fire!" (Hitler called. He wants you to please stop stealing his ideas.) I wouldn't trade all the suffering of my life for one experience like that. But Lizzie Velázquez is clearly stronger than a mere mortal, and instead of killing herself she went on to become an anti-bullying motivational speaker. I lump the people who bully her under the same term I use for tobacco company executives: "Satan's hemorrhoids."
Speaking of images on the internet that promote extreme shallowness and insentivity to the actual humans in them for entertainment purposes...
Governor Gary Herbert of Utah, who declared pornography a public health crisis earlier in the year, is now putting our money where his mouth is with $50,000 out of a $16 billion budget devoted to anti-pornography education efforts. For perspective, that's 1/320,000 or 0.0003% of the budget. Naturally this has outraged some residents of Salt Lake who feel that Mormons and Republicans are legislating morality and infringing on their constitutional right to jack off to their hearts' content. This is a little odd, seeing as Governor Herbert has made no attempt to actually restrict distribution of or access to pornography, but it makes sense in their heads somehow. And of course it doesn't bother them in the slightest that pornography is being shoved in our faces to the point where children are first exposed to it at the average age of eleven. There is no conceivable way that this could affect their brain development, and if it does, who cares? That's their problem.
Pornography is natural, pornography is harmless, pornography is healthy, pornography is great. Know how they know? Because they enjoy it, and therefore by logical inference it can't possibly have any negative consequences or repercussions whatsoever. QED. And of course all opposition to pornography is motivated by religion. That's why the United Kingdom, which is widely known for being a devoutly religious nation, has been at the forefront of opposing it in recent years. You know what, I know things sometimes don't come across as intended through text, so let me be perfectly clear: I'm being sarcastic and I think those people are idiots. Did I mention that these education efforts constitute 1/320,000 or 0.0003% of the budget?
As I've been going through old posts trying to search engine optimize them, I realized that I haven't written about abortion since February when NARAL had an aneurysm over the Doritos Super Bowl commercial. Good thing I was already planning on writing about it again - specifically, about Kermit Gosnell. Remember him? Or did you ever hear of him in the first place? If necessary, let Wikipedia refresh your memory:
"Gosnell owned and operated the Women's Medical Society clinic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and he was a prolific prescriber of OxyContin. In 2011, Gosnell and various co-defendant employees were charged with eight counts of murder, 24 felony counts of performing illegal abortions beyond the state of Pennsylvania’s 24-week time limit, and 227 misdemeanor counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law. The murder charges related to an adult patient, Karnamaya Mongar, who died following an abortion procedure, and seven newborns said to have been killed by having their spinal cords severed with scissors after being born alive during attempted abortions. In May 2013, Gosnell was convicted of first degree murder in the deaths of three of the infants and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Karnamaya Mongar. Gosnell was also convicted of 21 felony counts of illegal late-term abortion, and 211 counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law. After his conviction, Gosnell waived his right to appeal in exchange for an agreement not to seek the death penalty. He was sentenced instead to life in prison without the possibility of parole."
How was this allowed to happen? Because the authorities in Philadelphia obviously cared so much about women's health that, despite multiple complaints, they couldn't be bothered to inspect his clinic or for how many years? Five? Ten? No, seventeen. Because holding the abortion industry to any sort of accountability or oversight, or enforcing any restrictions on it whatsoever, is seen by some as an all-out assault on women's health. Of course virtually everyone, regardless of their views on abortion, agrees that Gosnell is a monster. So why have so many people tried to keep us from knowing he exists?
When his story broke, mainstream media outlets refused to cover it until they were forced to by the outrage of people who knew how to use the internet. I watched CNN spin excuses for why they hadn't covered it in the first place, and they were so lame that I felt embarrassed on their behalf. When filmmakers Magdalena Segieda, Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney decided to make a movie about Gosnell, Kickstarter refused to let them crowdfund on its website, claiming that the premise was too "graphic" while the pornography on the site apparently isn't. Because pornography is okay, remember? They crowdfunded on Indiegogo instead and set the record for the most successful film funded on that site. I contributed my widow's mite, which I mention only as a reminder that just liking Facebook pages and posts does virtually nothing to help any cause. Now all of Hollywood has refused to release the movie, claiming it's too "controversial", because apparently their pro-abortion films and all the other sewage they've put out in the last few years aren't controversial at all.
But this isn't even really about abortion, right? It's just about one guy who broke the law and a bunch of spineless authorities who let him do it for a long time, right? Right? Ask yourself: what do all those people have to fear from the truth?
So they're releasing the film independently sometime next year. In the meantime, they also have a book coming out in January. They want as many people as possible to pre-order it on Amazon so that it will show up on the New York Times bestseller list and be impossible to ignore. So if you're looking for some way to help, there's one. Now let's close on a more lighthearted note.
Steven Cavanaugh - Walkers in a Winter Wonderland
In honor of "Rogue One" being released and Christmas soon to follow, here's a mashup that I can't believe I've never shared before. Steven Cavanaugh is from Australia, so he wrote this in June. It's brilliant and like many parodies I alway sing it instead of the original lyrics.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.