Weekly Reads: Skepticon 10 Debriefing, Lots of Roy Moore, and the End of the WWotMW?
Howdy Readers! It’s Wednesday, November 15th, only 8 days left to complain about X-mas crap on display too early!
Lots of stuff below should come with a big ass (CN: Sexual Assault)
I got to spend the last weekend at Skepticon 10, talking, learning and playing with the social justice oriented wing of the atheist/skeptic/humanist movement. There were great workshops, awesome speakers, and of course dancing dinosaurs! I had a great time meeting old friends and making new. You can see my pix from the con on their Facebook page. The only thing missing was anything parenting related. Luckily the last workshop of the weekend led by Stephanie Svan of Almost Diamonds was a very meta workshop on running workshops! So at Skepticon 11 (this time in St. Louis) I’m hoping to bring together a live audience participation version of the Internet Meme Demolition Derby!
First a positive story, Anita Lehmann has some advice on how to limit screen time without a struggle.
(CN: Sexual Assault and Sexualizing of Children)
Roy Moore, disgraced former Alabama Chief Justice and Boss Hogg cosplayer inexplicably won the GOP primary in the special election to replace soon to be disgraced ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the US Senate. Surprising literally no one it now turns out that good old Roy turns out to have an entire Army of Darkness worth of skeletons in his closet, specifically a history of screwing around and with teenage girls when he was a DA in Gadsen, to the point where he was banned from the local mall! So we have some links to that shit…
The first damning accusation against Moore reported in the Washington Post alleges Moore sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in 1979. (Vox has an excellent explainer of the whole thing.) One response has been a cascade of women posting pictures of themselves at 14 on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #MeAt14 .
Whenever victims come out after a long period since the assault they are often dismissed for precisely that reason. Dana Bostick answers the question Since You Asked, Roy Moore, Here Is Why Victims Of Sexual Violence Wait Decades To Come Forward.
Despite the charges, there is still a damn good chance that this monster will win election to the US Freaking Senate, because that’s how fucked up Alabama is.
Still, it remains entirely possible that deeply conservative Alabama voters will back Moore in spite of everything. A recent poll even showed that 29 percent of the state’s voters say the allegations make them more likely to vote for Moore. The best way to translate that, as Ezra Klein argues, is probably just as a statement that they don’t believe the accusers, perhaps dismissing their stories as mere “fake news.” (And after all, it’s only been a year since the US elected President Trump even though he was facing a series of sexual assault allegations.)
You can still donate to Moore’s opponent, civil rights lawyer Doug Jones . Doug was the lawyer who prosecuted Eric Rudolph for bombing a Birmingham abortion clinic before the fucker was passed on to the state of Georgia for the Centennial Park Bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. As an encore, he is the guy who got the perpetrators of the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that claimed the lives of four little girls finally convicted. He is almost the Anti- Roy Moore of southern white dudes.
If you are grasping for why a 32-year-old Evangelical Christian might be trolling the food court for his next prom date, Kathryn Brightbull writes at the LA Times about how Moore’s behavior is a symptom of a larger problem in evangelical circles…
As a teenager, I attended a lecture on courtship by a home-school speaker who was popular at the time. He praised the idea of “early courtship” so the girl could be molded into the best possible helpmeet for her future husband. The girl’s father was expected to direct her education after the courtship began so she could help her future husband in his work.
In retrospect, I understand what the speaker was really describing: Adult men selecting and grooming girls who were too young to have life experience. Another word for that is “predation.”
Much of the sexual abuse that takes place in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, or IFB, churches involves adult men targeting 14- to 16-year-old girls. If caught, the teenage victim may be forced to repent the “sin” of having seduced an adult man. Former IFB megachurch pastor Jack Schaap argued that he should be released from prison after being convicted of molesting a 16-year-old girl, asserting that the “aggressiveness” of his victim “inhibited [his] impulse control.” In the wake of the Schaap case, numerous other stories emerged of sexual abuse cover-ups involving teenage girls at IFB churches. In another high-profile case, pregnant 15-year-old Tina Anderson, who was raped by a church deacon twice her age, was forced to confess her “sin” to the congregation.
Just in case you aren’t squicked out enough, our own Steph lists 9 Ways our Daughters are Objectified Before the Age of 5.
STOP SEXUALIZING KIDS! Even if they are on a popular TV Show…
Especially since kids learn sexism very early in childhood.
All of this behavior by entitled men (I haven’t even ventured into the Louis CK mess,) is reinforced by how much we are encouraged to forgive men their mistakes, as the writer and obvious Hobbit Lili Loofbourow explains in The Myth of the Male Bumbler…
Male bumblers are an epidemic.
These men are, should you not recognize the type, wide-eyed and perennially confused. What’s the difference, the male bumbler wonders, between a friendly conversation with a coworker and rubbing one’s penis in front of one? Between grooming a 14-year-old at her custody hearing and asking her out?
The world baffles the bumbler. He’s astonished to discover that he had power over anyone at all, let alone that he was perceived as using it. What power? he says. Who, me?
The bumbler is the first to confess that he’s bad at his job. Take Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who testified Tuesday of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team, which he ran and which is now understood to have been in contact with Russian agents: “We were not a very effective group.” Or consider Dave Becky, the manager of disgraced comedian Louis C.K. (who confessed last week to sexual misconduct). Becky avers that “never once, in all of these years, did anyone mention any of the other incidents that were reported recently.” One might argue that no one should have needed to mention them; surely, as Louis C.K.’s manager, it was Becky’s job to keep tabs on open secrets about his client? Becky’s defense? He’s a bumbler! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I’d like to take this time right now to openly admit that I recognize myself in a lot of what Lili is talking about. Whilst I have been better than the villains she describes above, I have leaned into the myth of the bumbler to excuse actions that have harmed people I’ve loved, looking for an excuse that gets me off the hook with a pat on the head and a mumbled promise to do better next time. Here’s a news flash guys, we aren’t fooling anyone except ourselves. Don’t promise to do better. Be better.
Let’s end on some happy news (sort of) that fell to the bottom of my pile. The Wicked Witch of the Midwest may be on her way out at the Department of Education.
She has yet to fill senior staff positions, and it’s widely known that numerous prominent Republicans having turned down offers. She has struggled to acclimate to the proverbial big ship that turns slowly. Perhaps most significant, she failed to persuade the committees of jurisdiction in Congress to approve her and the department’s budget request, which would have slashed funding to other initiatives in the name of expanding DeVos’ pet cause, school choice. It amounted to an embarrassing repudiation of a president and a secretary in their first year, when there is traditionally the most political capital to spend—especially considering Republicans control both the House and Senate.
Samantha Bee shows how we can all be better than Roy Moore…
Featured Image Credit Blotz Photo Arts