My 11-year-old nephew came to visit for several days during spring break and was a great help in several ways – he not only volunteered and mowed the back yard and raked the front yard (very helpful in light of my lingering case of mono), he also set up a new wireless network for me. I’d been using a wired router until now, because that’s what Vonage required when I first set it up years ago, and being someone who likes to leave technology things alone as long as they’re working, I had never gotten around to switching over to wireless when the routers became compatible.
I sometimes jokingly refer to Trevor as a one-man personal Geek Squad, because there’s not a piece of electrical, computer, video or audio hardware that he can’t figure out how to set up and operate in 5 minutes or less. Pretty much the same goes for software. Having him around means I don’t have to learn new technology or that when I do want to, I have someone who can show me how to work it in just a few minutes. Trevor’s destined to become an electrical or computer engineer or computer graphics whiz and probably all of those and more.
So while he was here, I mentioned to him the xtranormal video site and how I had seen funny things made with it, but had been too lazy to learn how to operate it myself. He took the laptop into the living room and, thanks in part to the wireless network he’d just set up, not only learned how to operate xtranormal but created the following in under an hour:
I would like to note for the record that I exercised zero editorial input or script control. This was entirely written and created by Trevor in his own devious little mind. I never saw it until the final product was done.
I’m sure Beth will be appalled by the language so I’ll just remind her: “Cesspool Hattie,” and worse, were the products of our devious little 9-year old minds. We were the kids who everyone wanted offa their damn lawns…and we didn’t turn out all that bad. Though I certainly understand why she doesn’t want to encourage her own kids to emulate us – or my nephew.
I’ve put off writing this post for a couple of days now, letting things develop. I should have known that by the time I got around to it, the incident on Saturday in Tucson would have become just another example of how Sarah Palin is the real victim.
Look, I don’t know if the kook who shot all those people was a follower of Sarah Palin or the Tea Party or if he had ever heard any of her or their incendiary rhetoric or seen any of their incendiary graphics.
But I don’t need to know if he ever heard or saw any of that stuff to know that it was utterly classless and irresponsible. I think about as good as it gets for Palin and the other mouth-foamers would be to say if the kid had seen or heard any of their incendiary stuff, it would have done nothing to dissuade him from his actions. The issue here isn’t whether or not a direct causation can be drawn from any one statement or image; it’s that when such statements and images are ubiquitous and go largely unremarked, as they have been for the past couple of years, they become normalized. Just part of the way things are. And the problem there is that for those whose grasp on reality is more tenuous, the implicit message is that lots of people believe and feel the way you do, and they’re all suggesting – or at least not disagreeing with - the basic premise of the crazy plan you have in mind. So maybe it isn’t all that crazy after all. You’re just stepping up to do the job that many others agree needs to be done.
And no, both sides don’t do it equally. While there is inflammatory talk on the left, I’m not aware of any example of a candidate, elected official, or liberal media personality using gun imagery in reference to achieving a political end. Why is that important? Simply because this country has a long history of political assassinations being carried out with guns. Responsible people don’t go there in their rhetoric, for the same reason no one thinks it’s funny to joke about having a bomb in your suitcase when you go through security at the airport.
So while the rightwing media has been wringing its hands about how intolerable it would be to have any limitations whatsoever to what is acceptable to say in political discourse, I’d like to suggest a simple rule, one so simple that even a conservative should be able to remember it: don’t make statements or use images that link guns to politics. Period.
This leaves you free to talk about tarring and feathering, pitchforks and torches, guillotines, heads on pikes, boiling people in hot oil, dropping pianos or large boulders on their heads, etc. etc. – because those aren’t things that have been used in the past in this country to kill politicians, and even the kooks will be able to pick up on the fact that you’re using a metaphor to describe your anger being at the point of physical violence while you’re not actually advocating physical violence. This should leave plenty of latitude for our conservative brethren to vent their hostility at the evil people who don’t agree with them, and may even inject some much-needed creativity into their rants, while at the same time not suggesting to the unstable that all they need to do to solve this problem is go down to Wal-Mart and pick up a gun.
Back to Palin: despite her spinning, the facts in all of this are clear. Palin put a gunsight graphic on Gabby Giffords’ district way back in March of 2010. Giffords herself, at the time, publicly said that it made her feel threatened. Palin didn’t respond, either with an explanation that the gunsights were actually “surveyor’s marks”, a lie so stupid that it’s failed to find traction even with our stupid media, or in any other way. Giffords was not the only one who complained, either. The response from the Palin camp was to leave the graphic on the site until Saturday, when its poor taste became inescapable even to Palin herself.
Now it turns out that even asking the question about whether this type of thing may have contributed to an atmosphere that made a horror like this possible is a “blood libel” against Sarah Palin.
I wish I were making that up; sadly, those are the words she used herself.
The Greg Stillson analogy is now complete; while Palin has in the past used her own children as shields to deflect criticism, she’s now hiding behind the body of a 9-year-old child who was “collateral damage” in an attack on a congresswoman Palin targeted with gunsights.
Via Balloon Juice we hear that Bill “Reverse-Cassandra” Kristol is hard at work trying to convince the conservative intelligentsia, such as it is, that Sarah Palin’s latest word-flub, refudiate, should become an accepted part of our language.
In true Kristol form, he omits important context, suggesting that Palin’s error occured in the “heat of the tweeting moment.” Which would be plausible, if not for the fact that she had used the exact same non-word the day before in a segment on Fox News.
People are prone to mispronouncing words they’ve seen in print but are not familiar with hearing in spoken language. But when you follow up a “mispronunciation” by writing out the non-word, it becomes quite clear that you’re not aware that it isn’t a word. People who read a lot and encounter words they don’t usually use in speech still know how the words are spelled. You’d expect that someone who reads “all of ‘em” would have encountered the particular word she was flailing for; clearly she had not.
It seems obvious to me that what happened was that Our Sarah picked up a bright-n-shiny new word object, floated it as a trial balloon on O’Reilly’s show, and since no one pointed out to her that it wasn’t a word, she decided to use it again right away. After all, those multi-syllable words make you sound smart and all of that, you betcha.
After the twit tweeted her new word toy and the feedback ridicule started pouring in in response, she deleted the tweet – then came back a bit later with the Pee-Wee Herman “I meant to do that” defense, comparing herself to perhaps the most prolific English-word inventor…William Shakespeare.
Look, I’m not a dead-language proponent here – I make up words and constructions all the time myself. The difference is, I know when I’m doing it (see “smited”). Is it really too much to ask that the people who invent our new words be fluent and literate in the language they are “improving” with their modifications?
But back to Kristol: first off, Billy, no matter what you do, no matter what you say, Sarah is never, ever, ever, going to touch your penis. This is a fool’s errand you’re on here, and while I can’t think of anyone better to carry out a fool’s errand, let’s not get our hopes up too high, mmmkay? Secondly, if there is anyone who decidely does NOT need the help of a guy who’s always wrong, it would be Sarah Palin. She can manage “wrong” all by herself.
So let’s put your efforts to something a bit more useful – something that will both satisfy your Palin-stroking … urges, while at the same time, help give a boost to Sarah’s newest constituency, the “Mama Grizzlies.” I think they need a logo, some public brand to appeal to all those Mama Grizzly-wannabees out there. Something not too ferocious – the name covers that angle – but something cuddly, non-threatening, appealing, and approachable. Something … like this:
Please, please, run with it.
You’ve probably heard of the latest outrage against Sarah Palin: someone she doesn’t particularly care for rented the house next door to her Wasilla compound, and individual property rights champion Saint Sarah predictably flipped out. Writer Joe McGinniss, who is writing a book about Palin without her cooperation or approval, moved in next door to Palin’s Wasilla digs while she was on a grifting tour of the lower 48; the Palins arrived home several days ago to learn they had a new neighbor – Joe the Writer.
Palin reacted exactly how you’d expect her to react. She had one of her lackeys post to her Facebook page (seriously, even though it’s in the paranoid style, there’s no way she could manage such cogent syntax herself) a series of unsupported and unsubstantiated slurs about the new neighbor – among them that he was peeking into her young daughter’s bedroom window from his rental home. The Facebook post was littered with other bits of ephemera about how poor Sarah felt constrained from strapping her 2-year old son to her back and going out to mow the lawn in her shorts and tank top, complete with the gratuitous “what are you wearing” reference included to pique the interest of her old white male fan base.
Ok, first of all, what kind of a retard (satirically speaking) would strap a 30-pound infant to their back before going out to mow the lawn? Not to mention that Down Syndrome children often have respiratory issues, so lawn-mowing probably isn’t the best recreational sport for them. Also too, does anyone really believe that Sarah Palin mows her own lawn? Would anyone who made $12 million in the last year mow their own lawn? Digging a little deeper there’s the assumption that the new neighbor, like everyone else on planet Earth, thinks Sarah is so hot that he was just holding his breath waiting for the opportunity to ogle her in her lawn-mowing get-up. Palin also referenced how the neighbor’s deck overlooks “the family swimming hole” – that would be Lake Lucille, which is lined with many homes. Again, one can’t help but think this little detail was slipped in to suggest prurient intent, since otherwise no one would find it remarkable that a lakehouse has a deck that, you know, faces the lake.
The cherry on top of Palin’s Facebook posting was a picture she had taken of the new neighbor – the one she claims is “stalking” her - on the deck of his rented home, which clearly shows that he was unaware he was being photographed. Palin upped the ante the following day in an appearance on fellow paranoiac Glenn Beck’s show, making bold claims about how she was going to “protect her children.” Now there’s a full-blown Fox jihad underway, with Beck demanding boycott of McGinniss’ publisher and another Fox host joking about how the author should be careful about “what kind of hat he wears” so that no one gets him confused with a deer (and shoots him). Good joke, that one, and who can say he doesn’t deserve it, for having the audacity to live next door to Sarah Palin. The great irony is that prior to becoming a rental house, the house next door to the Palin’s was a halfway house for ex-convicts and addicts. Which means that the bedroom for that young daughter of hers was available for viewing by not just one man planning to write a book, but by a whole group of men who had already demonstrated, shall we say, questionable life choices.
Odd, that “mother grizzly” bit. Seems to me that if you believed a skeezy perv was peeking into your young daughter’s bedroom window, the first thing you’d do would be to hang some drapes or move the child to another room. Palin’s first instinct, it seems, was to make unsupported allegations about the new neighbor being a pedophile. So much for “protecting” the kids.
This is far from the first time Palin has used her children as human shields. In her dust-up with David Letterman last year, because she couldn’t complain about what she was really upset about – Letterman’s joke about how she was in town shopping to update her “slutty stewardess look” – she twisted another of his jokes into an allegation that he was joking about the statutory rape of her underage daughter by Yankee ballplayer Alex Rodriguez. So she managed to get revenge, some media attention and the badge of victimhood, all without having to reveal how incredibly thin-skinned she is by complaining about what had really pissed her off - the joke about her.
Just as candidate Greg Stillson in Stephen King’s The Dead Zone grabbed a child to shield himself from a sniper’s gunfire, Sarah Palin regularly grabs whichever of her brood is most handy to shield herself from personal criticism. At this point, the only one of her children I can think of who hasn’t been used to bolster her burgeoning victimhood is eldest son Troll …Tripp … Trick …Truck …Track …whatever. And that’s only because he isn’t around. Though on second thought, she’s used his military service as an excuse to take the mantle of motherly sacrifice for country – despite reports suggesting that his enlistment came about as part of a deal to satisfy local law enforcement rather than patriotic fervor - which makes it 5 for 5. Still though, the thought of Sarah Palin as a real-life Greg Stillson seemed a bit far-fetched, until I started comparing the personal biographies of the two. Here’s what I found:
So there you have it, folks. Sarah Palin = Greg Stillson.
And yeah, I know it’s frickin’ impossible to read the type in that chart, so you’ll just have to click it to embiggen it. If WordPress didn’t suck big hairy balls, I might be able to design an attractive layout with readable charts and whatnot right there on the front page, but alas, WordPress DOES suck big hairy balls, and donkeys also, too. So you have my apologies, but it is what it is.
*Update: Caption edited. “Our Lady of Perpetual Butthurt” is so obviously comedically superior to the previous “Our Lady of Perpetual Victimhood” that I’m ashamed I missed it on the first go-round. Henceforth, “Our Lady of Perpetual Butthurt” it shall be. So let it be written; etc etc.