Category Archives: We’ve Gone Mad! Mad I Tell You!

Trump Announces Program for Black History Month

  • Al Jolson Commemorative Blackface Competition
  • Book signing by Rachel Dolezal
  • A demonstration of African-American cooking by Paula Deen
  • Showing of Driving Miss Daisy in the White House screening room (invitation only)
  • Black English, A Precious Legacy: Justin Bieber recounts the exciting story behind his invention of the word “crunk.”
  • A panel discussion of “Post-Racial America” featuring Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and former US Representative Allen West
  • TED Talk on African American heroes: That guy who invented peanut butter
  • A Festival of African-American Musical Contributions: Alternating Program. Wednesday & Friday evenings – A Vanilla Ice Retrospective. Thursday and Saturday evenings – The Queen of Soul (Celine Dion sings Aretha’s greatest hits)
  • Touch My Hair! Teams of traveling stylists will set up booths along the Mall to provide makeovers and tips: dreads, weaves, braids, twists, cornrows and more for white people hair!
  • Celebrating Black Literary Representation: Guest lecture by Lionel Shriver
  • Special Kennedy Center performance by the cast of Hidden Fences

Nation’s Toddlers Stand in Awe of the World’s Longest Recorded Temper Tantrum

As word spread that the Sanders campaign was organizing millions of protesters to descend on Philadelphia ahead of the Democratic convention in an attempt to win Sanders the presidential nomination, the nation’s toddlers have united in expressing respect and even the occasional pang of envy over the campaign’s ability to sustain a tantrum.

angry bernie

Three-and-a-half-year-old Jo-Jo McBirney of Athens, Georgia, told reporters that he considers the Sanders’ campaign’s plans a validation of all he and his friends have fought for over the last two years. “Everyone knows Clinton won nearly four million more popular votes than Sanders, took six more states, and has 900 more delegates, but refusal to accept reality and insistence on having ‘our way’ are a staple of the ‘terrible twos and threes,’” said McBirney. “As I move into my preschool years, I’m proud to see they’ve now also become a permanent feature of American politics.”

Two-year-old Tiffany Gianina, who achieved cult status among her Prospect Park playdate friends after she kicked her mother nonstop in the shins for the entire length of the subway ride from mid-town Manhattan to Parkside Avenue in Brooklyn, said she was rethinking her entire approach to tantrums. “I always knew the key was to never give up,” she said, “but now it’s like when Emeril throws a fistful of pepper into the pot and screams ‘Bam!’ Sanders’ followers have ‘kicked it up’ to a whole new level of commitment.”

But not all toddlers are so congratulatory. Cleveland-born Benny Brakowitz, 28 months, had this comment: “I once screamed ‘No!’ 116 times in a row in a Starbuck’s in Shaker Heights, and my friends still talk about the time I flung myself on the floor of a Kroger market and fake-cried until the security guard had to carry me out. So what? Now all of that counts for nothing? The Sanders campaign has a Twitter account, and I’m not even allowed to watch TV for more than two hours a day. Big deal!”

Whataboutism Run Amuck: More news from the culture of outrage

To all the people who are outraged because people are outraged over Cecil the Lion and not outraged about whatever you think they should be outraged about because if you’re outraged about the lion then clearly you aren’t outraged about human trafficking, or racism, or Palestine, or refugees, or the poor, or children with rare cancers, or rape, or Bill Cosby, or the disabled, or lack of a queer civil rights bill, or murderous police tactics, or the lack of unisex bathrooms, which means you are not only wasting your outrage on things that don’t matter (in the humble opinion of the outraged party) but are directly contributing to those other ills with your misplaced, first-world, white-privileged outrage because it is a proven scientific fact that every individual outraged over a dead lion has personally killed an Iraqi baby with a drone strike and/or raised a Confederate flag and/or deliberately used the wrong pronoun to refer to a transgender person, which is a total outrage that can only be answered with repeated Facebook postings expressing strenuous and unstinting outrage: You. Are. Making. Me. Tired.

The Little Miss Litigious Contest

*************UPDATE*************
*********13 January 2015**********

In response to a private message sent to the Milan-based IAP (Istituto dell’Autodisciplina Pubblicitaria – or Institute for Self-Regulation in Advertising – and, in shaky English, here) regarding the SIRI Professional Training Institute’s “I’m going to be an Esthetician” campaign,” the IAP responded on 13 January 2015 as follows:

We would like to inform you that this matter has already been brought before IAP’s Monitoring Board and investigated. On 30 November 2012, the Board asked the advertiser to reconsider the publicity message in question and to remove the elements we considered to be in violation of Art.11 of our “Code of Self-Regulation in Business Communications,” with specific reference to the section which states: “Representations of behavior or concepts aimed at the sexualization of children are prohibited.”

The advertiser does not fall within the requirements of IAP’s self-regulatory Code because its publicity was limited to local dissemination only and, therefore, was not required to comply with IAP’s Code. In any case, the advertiser failed to respond to our request and, as a result, IAP had no authority to take further action and the matter could not be pursued.

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Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to say that the nonsense libel suit filed against journalist Marina Morpurgo by Maria Laura Sica, owner of the Foggia, Italy-based SIRI beauty school (or “professional training institute,” as SIRI would prefer it), had simply faded away, as it so richly deserves to?

Why, yes, it would.

Unfortunately, the Foggia prosecutor, Anna Landi, has decided to keep this frivolous, dangerous lawsuit on life support for at least the next six months, and has issued an order that moves the case along to its next phase: a hearing set for May 15, 2015.

You may recall, from reading “Little Fascists Grow Up (Another Blow to Freedom of Speech in the World’s Fastest Crumbling Democracy),” published on Una Vita Vagabonda in November 2013, that SIRI and Ms. Landi are suing Morpurgo, a long-time correspondent for L’Unità and editor of the weekly newsmagazine Diario, for “offending SIRI’s honor” by “denigrating its publicity campaign” in a pair of Facebook posts.

Now, it should first be said that, if ever a publicity campaign deserved to be denigrated, that one did: The school’s recruiting poster depicted a young girl, professionally made up like a higher-class Honey Boo Boo in a National American Miss pageant and pouting voluptuously while she applied lipstick (pink, naturally). “I’m going to be an esthetician,” the legend read. “I’ve always known what I wanted.”SIRI Jan 2015

For her part, Morpurgo commented on Facebook, “I know what I want, too: for whoever thought up an advertisement like this to be tarred and feathered. These posters and slogans are nothing short of appalling. Congratulations on your depiction of women. Did someone put you into hibernation during the 1950s and just wake you up now?”

Getting sued for what you write on Facebook isn’t limited to Italy and isn’t new—but it is still rare. Meanwhile, the people who bring such suits typically lose – unless the poster wrote something that was deliberately false or misleading.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a chilling effect on public discourse and, indeed, on one’s ability to say snarky things within a semi-private group of friends. (In Morpurgo’ s case, her original comments were visible to and intended only for her Facebook contacts. They were not public, and it isn’t clear how her comments expanded beyond that group to become known to Ms. Sica but, as we are all aware, Facebook is to privacy as the Outback’s “Blooming’ Onion” is to dieting.)

Suits like the one against Morpurgo deserve to be dismissed simply for their obvious attempt to intimidate, censor, or bankrupt defendants. In that sense, they are much like so-called SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation)—litigation brought not because the plaintiff has any expectation of winning, but because he knows the suit will make the defendant’s life a living hell.

In the context of Italy’s antiquated, Fascist-era defamation laws and glacially slow legal system, the situation is even more complex and the outcome is far from clear. If found guilty, Morpurgo could face a four-year prison sentence.

Even if she wins, she’ll be on the hook for her legal fees. There’s virtually no chance under Italian law to recover legal costs if the party that sued you loses.

Of course, anyone can understand that Maria Laura Sica might have been dismayed to hear that someone considered her publicity poster a sexist throwback. One fails to understand how she could have been surprised to hear that, but one understands that she could have been offended.

But of course no one ever objects to inoffensive speech, and inoffensive speech has no need of laws or institutions to protect it.

Given the nightmare that has just unfolded in Paris, this is a good time to remember that it is speech which offends that must most vigorously be defended. Defended from people who resort to violence and bloodshed to be sure, but defended as well from people like Ms. Sica who are much more common.

What they share is the conviction that their sense of personal umbrage  justifies an act of vengeance.

The Taliban Threatens Democracy

The Islamic State Taliban. The Al Qaeda Taliban. The Haqqani Taliban. The Hamas Taliban. The Muslim Brotherhood Taliban.

charlie-hebdo-publisher-charbThe Terry Jones/Quran-Burning Taliban. The Pamela Geller Taliban. The Rick Wiles Taliban.

The Tea Party Nation Taliban. The Ted Cruz Taliban. The Glenn Beck Taliban. The Andrew Breitbart Taliban.

The Koch Brothers Taliban. The Dick “I’d Do It Again” Cheney Taliban. The Matt Kibbe/FreedomWorks Taliban.

The NRA Taliban. The Cliven Bundy Taliban. The Revolution PAC Taliban. The American Survivalists Taliban. The Timothy McVeigh Taliban.

The Colorado Springs NAACP Bombing Taliban.

The Patrick Lynch/PBA Taliban. The American Freedom Party Taliban. The Institute for Historical Review Taliban.

The Mark Regnerus Taliban. The Westboro Baptist Church Taliban. The Mormon Taliban.

The 14 Florida County Clerks Who Won’t Perform Weddings to Avoid Marrying Same-Sex Couples Taliban.

The Haredim Jews Who Won’t Sit Next to Women on the Airplane Taliban.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Taliban. The American Family Association Taliban. The Family Research Council Taliban. The Heritage Foundation Taliban.

The Salman Rushdie Fatwa Taliban. The Kurt Westergaard/Jyllands-Posten Taliban. The Pim Fortuyn Murder Taliban. The Anders Behring Breivik Taliban. The Roberto Saviano Camorra Death Threats Taliban.

The Raheel Raza Fatwa Taliban. The Elliot Rodger “Retribution” Taliban. The Marc Lépine École Polytechnique Taliban. The Abortion Clinic Terrorism Taliban.

The Marine Le Pen Taliban. The Northern League Taliban. The Pro Deutschland/ Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa Taliban.

Democracy is under attack.