Weekly Reads: Where the Alt Right Gets Their Start, “Have Fun” is a Bad Rule, and Frog & Toad Memes!

Hey there Readers! It’s October 30th, Halloween Eve. I hope you are all ready to have a good time with all the little and or big ghosts and goblins in your life. It’s also International Orthopaedic Nurses Day, so thank your physical therapist today!

Sage Coffey tells us her story in a great comic at The Nib, Just a Joke: Where Alt Right Guys Get Their Start

Na’amen Gobert Tilahun at The Establishment explains the irony of privileged people complaining about trigger warnings… 

There are multiple examples throughout history of laws and restrictions intended to avoid triggers and make all of society a safe space for the privileged. In early Hollywood, the Hays Code limited what could and could not be shown on film. Many of the things outlawed were ideas that disturbed the people in power: positive representation of queer people, successful interracial relationships, and authentic portrayals of racism were all practically non-existent under the Code. Though touted as protection for all, the Hays Code was really about protecting a rigid, white heterosexual masculinity.

For years, the Comics Code did the same for the comic book industry, limiting the portrayal of sexuality, drug use, and sexual liberation. And who could forget the brouhaha in the late ’80s when white parents (led by Tipper Gore) were up in arms that their children were listening to naughty rap lyrics? They pushed for parental advisory stickers to protect the youth from “dangerous” content. The campaign was roundly mocked, but it was implemented nationwide. Parental advisory stickers are still warning people of potential offense today. So is the MPAA movie rating system, which privileges old ideals. The documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated shows the ways in which heterosexuality is elevated over other sexual expression when assigning ratings, and sex routinely garners a more restricted rating than violence.

What made parental advisories and MPAA ratings more serious than the current request for trigger warnings? These things were meant to protect privileged people and their children.

Fuck your Baby Advice!

Why is television obsessed with an unrealistic portrayal of autistic people? 

Why do Teen Magazines idealize relationships between underage girls and grown men? 

And concluding the “Why?” section of our links, Why was the winner of a high school golf tournament denied a trophy? Because she’s a girl…

Emily Nash was allowed to play. She just wasn’t allowed to win.

Nash, a junior at Lunenburg High School in Lunenburg, Mass., had the lowest score in the Central Mass Division 3 Boys’ Golf Tournament. But the first-place trophy was awarded to a boy who was four strokes behind her, because of the rules of the tournament.

According to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, girls can play in the boys’ golf tournament as part of a team, but they aren’t allowed to be entered as individuals.

That means Nash doesn’t get a trophy, or a spot in the boys state championship.

That was a surprise to her, although her coach was aware of the rule.

“I wasn’t aware that if I won I wouldn’t get the title or the trophy,” she told local TV station WPBF. “I feel like it’s a bit unfair.”

At the time of Sarah Kliff’s report at Vox, the funding authorization for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) expired 23 days ago, and Congress has done nothing. As of today it’s been 30…

A lot of summer camps and similar children’s programs have a variation on the theme of “Have Fun” being part of the rules. Social Skills for Autonomous People explains why this is a bad idea…

Sometimes “have fun” rules are explicit. Sometimes they’re more implicit, and come in forms like: making people sing a song every day about how much they love camp, announcements about “we’re all having so much fun!”, or whatever else.

The problem with this is: nothing is fun for everyone. People have the right to feel how they feel about things. It’s really degrading to tell an unhappy person that they should just feel some other way.

“Have fun” rules are especially problematic for many disabled people.

Because — most programs are not fully accessible, even when they think they are. Most of us expect to encounter activities that are inaccessible in ways that make participation impossible — or that make them no fun.

And often, initially fun activities are ruined when someone treats you in a degrading way or says something awful about disability.

A survey conducted by LGBTQ Nation and SurveyMonkey finds that only 40% of LGBTQ couples feel comfortable holding hands in public. 

The New Yorker reports on the uncanny resurgence of Dungeons and Dragons… Wait, people stopped playing D&D? I haven’t stopped since 1978!

Sean Illing interviewed the amazing  Nikole Hannah-Jones about the realities of school segregation today… 

“Schools are segregated because white people want them that way. … We won’t fix this problem until we really wrestle with that fact.”

That’s what Nikole Hannah-Jones, New York Times Magazine writer and recipient of a prestigious “genius grant,” told me in a recent interview. “Genius grant” is the popular term for the MacArthur fellowship, a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant awarded to 24 “exceptionally creative people” each year.

Hannah-Jones was selected this year for her probing work on segregation in American society, particularly in housing and education. She’s probably best known for her two award-winning stories “Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City” and “The Problem We All Live With.”

I reached out to her this week after her grant was announced. We talked about the myths surrounding segregation in America, why it’s so damn hard to explain structural racism, and why she remains deeply cynical about America’s future.

“This is the story of the black experience,” Hannah-Jones told me. “People want hope. They want to believe things are getting better for black folks. What I’m arguing … is that things will never be right. An improvement doesn’t make things right; it just makes them a little better.”

Frog and Toad, beloved children’s book characters have been discovered to be ripe material for memes in the 21st century!

Though memes featuring Frog and Toad had occasionally turned up in the past, they took off this year, when a subreddit dedicated solely to such images was established in April. And while some of the memes are innocent, many of them juxtapose the books’ bucolic imagery with darker strains of internet humor.

There are jokes about Frog and Toad doing drugs. Jokes about Toad’s urgent need to use the bathroom. Jokes about the characters being violent, revolutionary leftists. And even, given the political connotations of frogs in 2017, some jokes about alt-right versions of Frog and Toad.

Kat Blaque has some evergreen advice on Halloween costumes…

Featured image  Arnold Lobel and The Internet

Louis Doench

Lou Doench is a 52 year old father of three. Twelve years ago he married the coolest woman in the world and gave up the lucrative career of being a photography student to become a stay at home husband and Dad, or SAHD. An atheist geek, or a geeky atheist if you prefer, Lou likes reading, photography, video gaming, disc golf, baseball and Dr. Who. He has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1976. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an excellent home cook, not that his children would know because they only eat Mac & Cheese. Follow Lou on Twitter @blotzphoto or check out his photography at

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