“Suspicious Bag of Rhubarb”

I have to report that someone in my building just called the cops because someone left a “suspicious bag of rhubarb” on her desk.  My co-worker is now out there trying to convince the police that they could just give the rhubarb to her, since she likes it.  But the police cannot hand the rhubarb to her.  They appear to be offering to leave it in a trashcan where she could then recover it.

Gee, I Wonder Why

One of the more interesting accusations to come out of the whole Shelbyville/Tyson/Somali thing is that the Somalis are rude, oh, so rude, you don’t even understand how rude they are, America, but my god the rudeness, and you know how we Southerners are, with our politeness and so the rudeness is even more galling to us and did I mention how rude they were rude rude rude and that’s why we hate them?  See, they’re rude.  Oh, and they refuse to learn English.

But, if you look a little more closely, and I’m not even talking using deep analytic egg-headed academic skills here, I’m just talking about paying close attention to what folks are saying, the complaint seems to be that the Somalis aren’t stupid.

Let’s just assume that the refugees from Somolia in Shelbyville have ears to hear and eyes to read.  Let’s assume that at least a few of them have access to the internet or know someone with access to the internet.  In other words, that they are people living in a mid-sized Tennessee city.

And let’s just for a minute, put ourselves in the position of someone with eyes to see, ears to hear, and internet access to research, who is trying to establish himself in a small community in the American South.

When you read the reporter from the local paper sayingWhen I began researching this story about the Somalis, I knew it would be controversial. We were aware that many in Shelbyville were having serious concerns about hundreds of Sunni Muslims moving here.” Catch that?  Already you learn that, before he even started writing the story, he had it in his mind that Somalis moving to town was a legitimate cause for concern.  And that many people in the city in which you live have these concerns.

Then, maybe you do a little research on this reporter and you discover his blog, chock full of his anti-Muslim beliefs.  Do you think you’re going to get a fair shake from him?

But, okay, even if the paper makes it seem like you’re not going to be welcome, let’s at least give the people of Shelbyville a chance, right?  I mean, it’s not like everywhere you look online you see people from Shelbyville saying

They refuse to be a part of the community or to respect the citizens here . . . that is all to it. Its not any issue with racism or us picking on some small minority . . . it’s the fact that we constantly have to deal with their rude behavior and them snubbing us as inferior and infidels while we are asked to bend over backwards for them. It is just getting old . . . (here)


these somalia ppl are HATEFUL,,,,,,,i JUST WISH THAT YOU HAD THEM. I am not a biased person, ,,,,,open to all,,,,,,,these are rude, crude, and hateful,,,,,,mean. we will rue the day that we invited them to our country. they hate us and our country.


ALL the hijackers- MURDERERS were MUSLIM!

MUSLIMS raise their fists and shout “Death to America”

MUSLIMS behead innocents in the name of ALLAH,

MUSLIMS “preach” peace yet all the suicide/homicide bombers are MUSLIM.

I leave you with this:

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but MOST TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIM!

And so on and you’re supposed to believe that you’re the one with the problem?

I ask you this, Tennessee.  If you knew that many of your neighbors hated you with this kind of vitriol, just how nice would you be?  Or would you maybe keep to yourself and limit your contact with folks you didn’t know and, oh, I don’t know, seem a little rude, as a defense?

It’s pretty hilarious, in a sad way, I have to admit.  I mean, you’d think it might occur to someone that the Somalis in your midst are rude to you because they know you hate them.  I mean, are they supposed to pretend like they don’t know?

It boggles the mind.


But, the best part from Brian Mosley’s op-ed is this

It also doesn’t help that the most common image of Somalis in American popular culture is from the Ridley Scott film “Black Hawk Down,” which depicts them as brutal, wild-eyed fanatics slaughtering U.S. troops in the name of Allah and barbaric warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

Because what if the tables were turned?  What if the Somalis went to their local video store and rented some movies about the region of our country they were settling in?  You’re going to tell me that, if African refugees spent any time watching Gone with the Wind, or Mississippi Burning or O Brother, Where Art Thou orTo Kill a Mockingbird or Roots or any other movie ever made about the American South, you’re going to be surprised that they might be wary of having anything at all to do with white Southerners?

Folks, I don’t know if you know this, but fair or not, we don’t have the greatest reputation for nonviolent tolerance.

I don’t know.  From where I’m sitting, it’s very hard to see this as anything other than “How dare those people treat us how we treat them!”

Someone Send Campfield a Copy of the Constitution

Because he’s apparently unaware of the 14th Amendment.

I tried to add an amendment to a bill that would have removed all state services to illegal immigrants not mandated by federal law. It would also stop the issuance of state issued birth certificates unless one parent was a legal citizen. It was killed 57 to 39. [emphasis mine]

Good god.  What a cruel jackass.

Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat

Out in the real world, I continue to have long, impassioned discussions about this post and so, even though this is on my list of least fun things for me to talk about, I’m dredging it up again. I just have some random things I want to say about it.

1. I am rejecting the notion that my weight is an indication of my worth as a human being. This is in part due to the fact that I have been shamed and ridiculed about being fat my whole life and I look back at the miserable starving girl I was for most of my life and, guess what? Sometimes I was really fat and sometimes I was just fat. The only time I was “thin” in my life, I was riding a bike four hours or more a day and eating only dinner, because I didn’t want my parents to catch on that I wasn’t eating. And they still put me on a scale at home and encouraged me to lose weight. And my doctor still put me on a scale at his office and encouraged me to lose weight.

There is no way to win the fight. You can say all you want that you eat well and exercise and, if you’re fat, people assume that you’re lying or lazy or both, that there’s always more you can do, and, if you’re not doing it, then you deserve what happens to you.

Well, it pisses me off when strangers assume I’m lying or lazy (well, I tend to be lazy, let’s call it slothful) and it deeply hurts my feelings when my friends assume that.

2. Food is a powerful cultural symbol and sharing food is an act of intimacy and good-will. When you want to talk about what I eat and how I eat it, I feel like you’re questioning my value as a human being, that you’re questioning whether I have a right to participate in rituals of sharing and intimacy and good-will. That also pisses me off and hurts my feelings, especially when you are a friend or family member.

3. To me, this feels very superstitious, like we’ve taken guidelines that we know will help people have healthy lives (eat well, exercise well, etc.) and pumped them full of almost religious meaning. I am, of course, not the first person to notice this (Naomi Wolf is where I read it), but it strikes me every time we have these discussions–we being human beings in general–how quickly it turns into a discussion of whether one is behaving properly, if one has been bad or cheated at one’s diet, whether one has been strong or weak, whether one has the will-power to resist temptation, whether one has brought this on him or herself, whether one is one of the lucky ones who has done everything right and achieved salvation, whether one is denying him or herself a proper amount, whether one is disciplined. All of the language with which we talk about trying to lose weight comes out of the Church.

I reject the notion that my soul is so corrupt that I have to beg a god to give me a second look and have mercy on me.

I surely reject the notion that my body is so corrupt that I have to beg a person to give me a second look and have mercy on me.

4. A lot of fat folks talk about the importance of coming to terms with who you are right now instead of holding in your head some ideal you by which you judge your self. I honestly think that’s important for the friends and families of fat people. This is who I am. I’m not going to be the girl in your head who is thin and pretty and whatever.

You need to look at me and like what you see, as I am, before you because that’s who I am.

5. So, it turns out that even fat girls are starving themselves and it doesn’t do any good. (H/t kateharding) And that teasing your kids about being fat is a shitty thing to do.

A history of teasing about being fat was one of the strongest predictors of risk for being overweight and extreme dieting— and taunts from family seemed to be worse than teasing by peers. When family members teased teens about weight, it doubled their risk of being overweight at the second survey. Although this kind of study cannot prove that the link is causal, it suggests that even light-hearted joking about weight at home could be problematic.

I would guess that part of this has to do with exactly what I talked about in point two. Food and the sharing of food are powerful ways we bond as human beings. For family members to tease kids about their relationship to food doesn’t feel like only being teased about a relationship to food, it feels like being judged as being unworthy to participate in our food rituals and the sharing of food, indeed in the central rituals of family life. Little wonder that it fucks kids up. Who wants to be constantly reminded that they aren’t welcome without judgment or scrutiny to participate in their family?

Martin Kennedy, I Cannot Believe I Have to Explain this to You

There may come a time when you have to kill a dog.  Here are a list of acceptable ways to do so:

1.  Take it to the vet and have it put down.

2.  Shoot it, preferably in the back of the head.

Here are just a few unacceptable ways of killing dogs, as taken from Michael Vick’s indictment:

1.  Drowning

2.  Hanging

3.  Slamming to the ground

Perhaps you disagree.  You say, “Dogs were killed, though I don’t think there was any outright torture in the sense that humans engaged directly in inflicting pain for pleasure.  Rather, they killed dogs to put them out of their misery or because the dog was no longer performing well.”  And yet, when I read the indictment, it says, “In or about April of 2007, Peace, Phillips and Vick executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in ‘testing’ sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.”

What kind of dogs need “testing”?  Not dogs that are “no longer performing well.”  No, dogs that haven’t been fought.  What kinds of dogs would a dog breeder have on hand that haven’t been fought?

Young dogs.

Dogs small enough that you can still kill one by slamming it to the ground.

There is no excuse for drowning, hanging, or slamming any young dog to the ground in order to kill it.  You do that because it amuses you to have power over something helpless.  If you were attempting to end its life in a humane manner, if you couldn’t take it to the vet, you could shoot it.

Acting as if this is no big deal, or as if people can’t be outraged both by dog fighting and by cruelty towards women is just ludicrous.  Also, please note, if you want to pretend like you care about women, please do not, in that very post, use the term “girly” as an insult towards men.  Your female readers will notice and suspect you’re not being honest with us or yourself.  You cannot love women and think that being like one is an insult.

It’s just not possible.

If you don’t really think that being like a woman is an insult, break yourself of the habit of using “girly” as one.


The Girly Aunt B.

Stacey Campfield Comes Out in Favor of Letting Women Die of Cervical Cancer

In his latest post, Stacey Campfield is bitching about the Governor wanting to fund Planned Parenthood:

Since the word has gotten out about how the state of Tennessee gives over 1.1 million dollars to Planned Parenthood, the worlds largest abortion provider. Some people have argued that the money will not “directly” go to pay for abortions.

I think most will agree that it does directly fund their organization. To say the money does not help fund abortion would be a little illogical. It would be like saying to a drug addict.

“I am not going to give you money for drugs, but I know you only make $800.00 a month so I am going to pay all your other expenses for you. You go do with the $800.00 what ever you want.”

If the addicts priority beyond their daily expenses is drugs and their are no limits on how the addict spends their now free money, it is ludicrous to think that the extra $800.00 that is suddenly freed up is going to go into the collection pot at church. It is most likely to go do what the addicts other priority is. Drugs.

In the case of Planned Parenthood that other priority is killing babies.

Of course, since Campfield isn’t poor and doesn’t have a uterus, he never has to sit around wondering whether he can afford his yearly Pap smear–a test provided by Planned Parenthood.  He never has to choose between getting his yearly gynecological exam and getting groceries–an exam Planned Parenthood makes available to women no matter what their ability to pay.  If Campfield is afraid he has an STD, he can afford to have his doctor test for it.  Many of us aren’t so lucky and Planned Parenthood, again, makes these tests available to women no matter what their ability to pay.

But, you know, the good thing about Campfield is that he makes the worst impulses of the anti-abortion crowd obvious.  He would rather poor women die of cancer or suffer from easily treatable STDs than have access to the kinds of services Planned Parenthood provides.

How is this “pro-life”?

I have no idea.  Facilitating the suffering and deaths of poor women just because you think abortions are wrong (even though many of the women who need Planned Parenthood’s services never avail themselves of the abortion services) seems pretty pro-death to me.

Imagine any other context in which a politician said, “Well, because I think it’s wrong that your doctor performs a procedure, even though it’s legal, even though you don’t want or need it, I don’t think he should be allowed to give you any medical care.”

I’d hope folks would be outraged.

Things I Can’t Make Whole Posts

1. While I remain convinced that there’s much to be derided about "choice feminism," since clearly not every choice a person might make ends up being feminist, I’m not ready to write it off.  Isn’t believing that you have the right to choose what kind of life you might lead pretty damn revolutionary?  It seems to me that that impulse is so strong that, regardless of what women might choose at first, a seed of an idea has been planted.

2.  The Professor gets very frustrated when she sees people deciding something about someone and then holding that person accountable for failing to live up to it.  For instance, if you all decided that I was the voice of feminism in Middle Tennessee and then sat around and wrote comments and posts about what a crappy voice of feminism I am.  It’s ascribing power to someone and then berating them for not wielding that power well.

I don’t have any more profound thoughts about it, just that it makes me go "hmm."

3.  I hate George Bush* and I think it’s hilarious… no… is there some word beyond hilarious?  I think it’s HI-larious that that faith-based guy is out shilling his book based on the idea that no one in Washington is that concerned about the Christian Right, indeed finds them goofy and weird, and only throws them a bone every once in a while so that they’ll continue to vote Republican.  Shoot, Christian Right, well, duh!  If that shocks you, wait until you learn that rich people and folks in the government will continue to find ways for their daughters to have abortions even if you outright ban them in every state in the union.

But, I must say that when Lesley Stahl got on 60 Minutes and acted like it was shocking, nay SHOCKING, that the President uses phrases from the Bible and old hymns in his speeches, it was all I could do to keep from crying.

America, are we a bunch of morons or what?  I suppose you will be surprised to learn that Lincoln did not invent the turn of phrase "a house divided" but instead took it from Jesus**.

I know!  Call 60 Minutes!  The shock is so great!

I grew up in rural Illinois, kept for most of the time in a hermetically sealed tube and let out only to attend piddly public schools taught, in some cases, by people who could not do the things they were teaching.  And yet, I learned this shit.

I’d like to believe that I know this stuff and other people don’t because I’m a genius, but actually, I suspect that it’s just that most people believe that their brains are best left untroubled by new knowledge.





*Is it safe to say that shit in the wake of yesterday’s crap? I’m probably going to get hauled off to some detention center now.  My only comfort is that S-Town Mike will be being tortured in the cell next to mine and so when we’re both laying on the concrete floor in a puddle of our own piss, we can keep each other company telling stories about the Bicentennial fountain.

**Assuming, of course, that you know Lincoln, the "House Divided" speech, and who Jesus is.

Yep, We’re Talking Kleinheider Again, Probably for the Last Time, at Least for a While

Check this:

We are undergoing a rapid demographic shift in this country that will
eventually tilt this country’s politics leftward. If we do not slow it
down not only will the white majority in this country disappear but any
chance for a Republican or conservative majority will disappear as well.

Y’all, I give up.  No, I’m serious.  I give up on trying to tease Kleinheider into behaving himself because now… now we’re really beyond parody here.

I mean, look at this.  Here we have a conservative Catholic American of European descent bitching yet again about the arrival, in large numbers of people who are, by and large, culturally conservative Catholic Americans of European descent. 

Kleinheider, have you no sense?  Is your head so far up your ass on this issue that you cannot see the forest for the trees?

As long as the vast majority of immigrants to this country come from other American countries, chances are that they’re going to be very, very much just like you–socially conservative Christians of some mix of European stock.

 What the fuck is so scary about that to you?

Kleinheider, need I remind you that Catholics in the United States have faced and continue to face persecution from White Power groups?  Do I have to spell out for you what that means?  You’re not White.

You might have white skin.  You might have blond hair and blue eyes.  You might be able to quote from Pat Buchanan at length, but guess what?  He’s Catholic, too.  He doesn’t count.

 And it doesn’t matter how certain you are that you’re white, when the whities with the “right” beliefs about Jesus start drawing the circles around who gets to be White and who doesn’t, you’re on the outside looking in, buddy.

Can I just share with you my pet peeve about conservatives (speaking broadly and caveating the fuck out of this by saying that, of course, not all conservatives are like this blah blah blah), it’s that they’re so big into tradition–“We have to make a stand for traditional marriage.  Someone needs to take a stand for the traditional working man.  What can we do to keep this country traditionally white or Christian or whatever.”–but when you try to nail them down about when this fabulous time that everything was working so great was, they can’t tell you.

 Like, right now, I’m going to ask Kleinheider when this fabulous time was when Catholics were welcomed with open arms into the definition of “Whiteness” and he’s not going to answer.

Because there is no time.  There’s no time in the past when everything worked how it should and all white men were skipping gayly around the United States back before gay meant anything other than happy, back before when all women stayed home and raised the children, and no one got divorced or had abortions or was ever unhappy, and everyone went to church and you could trust the government and look up to politicians yippy skippy rainbows. 

That time did not exist.

The only way you can look back at our past and pretend like things were better back then than they are now is if you shut one eye and don’t look too hard with the other one.

We have no “traditions” that map neatly and unproblematically onto the things conservatives call “traditional.”  That doesn’t mean that many of the things conservatives stand for aren’t useful ideas; many of them are.

But to cloak them in the term “traditional” when anyone with half a brain knows we aren’t talking about the real past but some fairy-tale version of it is intellectually dishonest.

So, Kleinheider, I’m done with you.  Probably not forever, but for a while.  Because I like you and it hurts my heart to see you being such a dumb-ass.

Be conservative; I don’t give a shit.  But base your conservatism in reality, not in fairy tales.  That I can’t abide by. 

My Big Fat Family

The Butcher and my cousin A. were sitting around this weekend comparing the ways our bodies betray our heritage.  My brother, bless his heart, is going bald in almost exactly the same way that my dear Uncle B. went bald, which is very similar to the way that my cousin A.’s dad is balding.

A. sadly, did not get that fun family trait.  Instead, like most of the rest of us, she got fat.

She was telling the Butcher that a little bit of time had gone by since she saw her dad and the first thing he said to her was “Are you pregnant or just fat?”

Ha, maybe today is the day of men I would like to time travel back to kick in the nuts, because I tell you, I would love to time travel back and kick every single person in my family who ever dared sit there in all his 300 plus pound glory right in the nuts when ever he said something about how fat any of us girls had gotten.

Maybe you skinny people don’t quite get how cruel this is, because lord knows you’ve gotten whole cultural memes out of how being fat is so unhealthy and how fat people are disgusting and slothful and gross and deserve your pity when you’re not shaming us into trying to do better–perhaps you think our fathers are just being blunt because sometimes you have to be blunt in order to get through to the unhealthy.

Fuck you.

Trust me.  There is not a fat person alive who does not know she is fat, who doesn’t every day feel the pressure of a whole culture hell-bent on making her feel shitty for being fat.  And when you come from a large family of fat people, most of whom struggled their whole lives to lose weight and never did, at least not permanently, you kind of hope for at least a little respite.

But no, even in a family of big old fat people, we still dog on the girls for being fat while the men sit around and laugh about how big their bellies have gotten.

So, yeah, just like it is out there in greater America, in our family, “too fat” is very much gendered.  It just pisses me off, this big old mountain of a man mocking his own daughter for being too fat.

My family is fucked up.  The Butcher told her how much he thought that sucked and she was all like “What?  That’s just how he is.”

Because, of course, isn’t that the other fun little secret of how that dynamic works? 

The men do all the bossing and horde all the privilege for themselves and the price they pay is either the women who are supposed to love them really hate them or figure they’re too fucking stupid to act any differently*.

I don’t know.  Maybe other families where the men have a lot of privilege work differently, but in the “traditional” families in my extended family, the love the men get is mixed in equal parts with hatred and fear and an assumption of idiocy.

I just don’t believe that’s any way for a family to operate.  I mean they can work that way–mine does.

But it sucks for everyone involved.  We can treat each other better and we should.



*I keep hearing about how feminists are man-haters and I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, you have not heard man hating until you’ve sat in a kitchen full of good “traditional” women.  We feminists get called on the carpet for man-hating because we’re the only idiots who believe men can actually change and say so to your faces.  Most everyone else is just sitting in the kitchen complaining about what fucktards you are behind your backs and playing all nicey-nice to your face.