Yeah, No

So, yeah, this happened today.

In case you missed it, that’s

“We can’t continue to legislate everything. We’ve had some horrible things happen in America and in our state, and there’s children that have actually committed suicide, but I will submit to you today that they did not commit suicide because of somebody bullying them. They committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self-esteem came from at home.”

I honestly can’t make myself understand this. I read it and I read it and I think that this is a person, like me, who has friends and family members and yet this would come out of his face. Children in this state have come out, been bullied about it–some have even been kicked out of their homes–and their lives have gone so wrong and so many people have failed to come to their aid that they literally think that they have no better option than to kill themselves.

And one of our state legislators is literally like “eh, not our problem.” Like there are just some kids we can’t be bothered to worry that much about. If they die, they die.

And the worst part? I swear to god, this is the part that just fucking undoes me. This is his apology:

“After reviewing my comments on the House Floor today, I regret what was a poor choice of words. My true intent was to protect children from becoming criminals. Suicide has touched my family, and I would never want a parent or family member to feel they were responsible for such an unimaginable tragedy.”

Suicide has touched his family and he still said those thing. I don’t know. I couldn’t understand it before, but knowing that, it just… I don’t know… is there a level beyond failing to understand? It’s like I can’t even recognize these words and actions as that of another person.

Who talks this way? Who talks this way when they personally know what it’s like to lose someone to suicide?

I get blaming the person who commits suicide. I get being angry at them. Those are feelings that I recognize, feelings I’ve had myself, even if I know they’re misguided.

But to blame their parents? It just baffles me in a way that hurts my heart.

Those losses matter. But the truth is that I really don’t think Faison thinks they do.

There are discussions to be had about anti-bullying legislation. Fine. But why shouldn’t it be illegal, on its own, no matter what the outcome, for a kid to harass another kid? It’s illegal among adults. Why shouldn’t it be illegal for a kid to stalk another kid? It’s illegal among adults.  Why can’t the things bullies do be crimes if the bullies are under 18? They don’t have to carry as sever a penalty, but my god, clearly, if you’re harassing a kid because of his real or perceived sexual orientation, you do need some kind of intervention in your life and your victim deserves to be protected from you.

Is it because “good” kids have gotten your message that gay people suck so we wouldn’t want them to have any “undue” bad consequences for enforcing the social order you wish existed?

Is that it? Is this about protecting the kids who carry out the fucking evil bullshit on gay kids or kids who are perceived as gay that you wish were legal to carry out on gay people across the board?

I think it is, and that makes me weep with rage.


Actual Gun Nut “Jokingly” Threatens Debra Maggart

So, this is disturbing. I dislike Maggart as much as the next person (as long as that next person isn’t John Harris, who has a lot of hate in his heart, apparently), but a person should be able to go to work without facing death threats, oblique or not.

Also, for the record, a crucifix is a cross with Jesus hanging from it. So, any crucifix is, by definition, used.

Harvard University Library Slaps Its Glove in the Face of High Journal Prices

This is probably the most interesting story to come out of university libraries in some time. I applaud Harvard for suggesting it, because it will take a place like Harvard to pull it off. Faculty at Harvard have, for all practical purposes, made it. They don’t need to keep publishing at the most prestigious journals in order to advance and maybe get hired by a place like Harvard because here they are.

And, if they decided that publishing with smaller, less-expensive journals or publishing with some kind of open-source thingy is more prestigious than not, other scholars will follow suit.

This has been an enormous problem not only for libraries, but also in the university press world. If the cost of journals rises so quickly and eats up more and more of a more and more limited budget, it means university presses sell fewer books, because libraries don’t have the budget for them.

It’s nice to see someone pointing out to scholars what they can do to help university institutions like libraries and presses survive.

It Was the Best of Hazelnuts, It Was the Not-so-best of Hazelnuts

Behold my hazelnut trees! Look upon them and despair! Or cheer. Or just look upon them quietly so as to not startle them. Goofus is still not doing much of anything.

If you look closely, you can see that it still has buds and that those buds appear to be tipped with green. I’m taking that as a sign of life, but in all honesty, I’m not sure if those buds are actually bigger than they were last week or if I’m just wishful-thinking. No, I never did go get mulch. I’m not proud of that.

Gallant has leaves now, tiny delicate leaves. They look almost like insect wings. Gallant is all “I am practicing my baby photosynthesizing!” Keep going, Gallant! You will like photosynthesizing, once you get used to it!

Leaves feel like such a good sign. I will feel better about Goofus once he gets some.

The Best Story Out of Nashville Right Now

I’m sharing this with y’all even though I’m sure all my local readers are following this as raptly as I am, because I don’t want my non-local readers to miss out on the most amusing Nashville story of the year.

It started this weekend with the discovery of a mysterious abandoned plane out at the old Cornelia Fort airport, which has not been operational since the flood and has, in fact, been turned over to Metro Parks. Then, there was a quaint story in The Tennessean about this charming old guy who crashed his plane but, thank Jesus, was saved.

They’ve since changed the story, but you can get a feel for the approach the writer took in the lead Jim Ridley preserved on this post.

And why did they have to change the story? Because the charming old coot at the center of it is a convicted drug smuggler. And not some minor drug smuggler, either. Plus, he’s the kind of drug smuggler who brags about it on his LinkedIn page. But, while The Tennessean was running its story about the eccentric character who left his plane in the park, The City Paper was all over the “convicted drug smuggler without proper medical clearance and without other necessary paperwork flies from Miami and lands his plane so softly in Nashville that it didn’t even signal a crash. Isn’t that odd?” aspect of the story.

So this was rather embarrassing to The Tennessean, since they’d failed to Google the dude or even hear “flight from Miami” and “mysteriously abandoned plane in an abandoned airport” and made the obvious connection. Today they have a pretty thorough update to their original story.

But damn, they got pwnd (as the kids say) by The City Paper. I suspect it’s because Gannett has so gutted the newsroom over there that there just isn’t any institutional memory where someone says “Russell Brothers? Why do I know that name?”

I mean, I see that just with the Maytown story (which is hopefully dead), but everyone who reported on the lawsuits (actual reporting, not blogging) was not with their respective papers when the story first came out. So, the whole back history and who was related to whom and why just wasn’t in the back of their minds.

This airplane story is hilarious and interesting, but that it played out on the pages of The Tennessean how it did is a chilling reminder of what we’ve lost in the newsroom upheavals of the last decade.

But also, someone needs to make a movie about this dude. I don’t know what he looks like in real life, but I’m already imagining Tommy Lee Jones in the lead role.