I’m sitting in Starbucks right now, unable to enjoy my peach tea because I have a stomachache. Husband told me I needed to write a blog post. I said I didn’t know what to say, I only knew I was filled with incoherent rage. He told me to write down my incoherent rage and then edit it. Then I said, “fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Put that through your fucking app,” and a smirk crept over his face. “That’s your title,” he told me.
The news from Indiana has not put me in a good mood today. I am sick to death with the religious right constantly crowing about their perceived slights and hurts while they trample on the rights of innocent people. Really sick of it. A tweet from fictional U.S. President, Josiah Bartlet (The West Wing) summed it up beautifully:
Another genius Aaron Sorkin character, Will McAvoy (The Newsroom) had this to say:
If the Bible is to be believed, Jesus hung out with “sinners,” the lowest of the low. Prostitutes. Tax collectors. He washed dirty feet. He didn’t go around condemning any of them. He did throw a bit of a fit when it came to the money changers in the temple. Depending on what version of the Bible you’re looking at, or which book, the rough quotation is: my house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a robber’s den.
In Matthew, Jesus said, “the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me.” A little wordy, but I think it can be summed up thus: Jesus considers your treatment of other people your treatment of him. Would you refuse Jesus a dozen cupcakes from your bakery? Would you refuse to install a refrigerator in Jesus’s kitchen? Would you refuse Jesus a cup of coffee, or his weekly groceries at the local grocery store? Why not? ‘Cause Jesus isn’t gay? For starters, you don’t know that, secondly, nowhere in the Bible, Apocrypha, or any other excluded texts, did Jesus mention gay people. Thirdly, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of my brethren, ye have done it to me. It doesn’t specify what “least” is (and for the record I am absolutely not calling LGBTQ people ‘least’ in any sense). It’s totally up for interpretation. What Jesus was clear about was saying our treatment of others matters – as much as our treatment of him.
Also? WTF, Indiana? We went through this already, only it was over schools, diners, buses, and drinking fountains. Watching this country, MY country, roll back into a nation that enshrines discrimination (HATE) into law makes me nauseated. It scares the fuck out of me that my nieces and nephews can no longer say they always lived in a time when America refused to legalize discrimination. I’m terrified to bring a child of my own into this world. I don’t know what’s happening, this would never have been passed ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago. It seems like legislators had more decency or sanity then.
Which brings me to my next point…
Have you heard of the Craiglist Cesarean? A twenty-six year old woman responded to an ad on Craiglist for baby clothes and was attacked. She was cut open, the fetus was removed and died shortly after. She’s left to cope with the aftermath of this horrific event. My heart breaks for her. Ever vocal, the religious right has come forth with more of their wisdom:
“This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb. Part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are being ripped open.”
- State Representative Gordon Klingenschmitt (R – Colorado Springs)
This is an elected official, ladies and gentlemen. What. The. Fuck.
He went on to say,
“I believe the Bible and I quoted the Bible and I applied it to current events. If other people are offended by the Bible, that’s okay, they don’t have to agree with me or come to my church or watch my TV show. It’s a free country.”
No. They don’t have to choke down his nauseating swill and agree with it, but unfortunately, this lunatic is in a position of power, he has multiple platforms from which to spew his caustic garbage. (Freedom of speech, you might say, absolutely, while a few states away, freedoms are getting stripped away from innocent citizens.) But what I find most repugnant, is that the attacked woman resides in Colorado. This guy is a Colorado Representative. His ludicrous and incredibly unhelpful comments have probably been seen or heard by this grieving woman and her loved ones. Did he never learn the concept of ‘time and place’ or the Bambi classic, “if you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all?” How basic does it get?
I think what this asshat said is vile. But I can’t change it. Which brings me to my next point.
The Clean Reader app.
Here is the actual description I found in the App Store:
“Prevent profanity in books from being displayed on your screen with Clean Reader; the only e-reader that gives you the power to hide swear words in any e-book. Simply select from three settings to determine how clean you want your books to appear. Clean Reader then scans your book and prevents offensive words and phrases from showing up on the screen as you read. Every time a swear word is blocked from display a less offensive alternative with the same general meaning can be displayed.
Clean Reader works with any e-book!
If there are books you’ve put off reading because you’ve heard they’re full of curse words, chosen to stop reading some books because you weren’t comfortable with the bad language in them, or if you worry about what’s in the books your children read…then Clean Reader is for you!”
The app was created by Jared and Kirsten Maughan (a Mormon couple) because their precious dove of a daughter came home from school one day upset by the language in a class assigned book. So while attempting to keep her virgin eyes pure, they searched for an app like Clean Reader, only to discover nothing existed. So with the help of Page Foundry, Clean Reader was born. The app boasts three settings, Clean, Cleaner, and Squeaky Clean. The app finds offensive words and phrases, blocks them, and replaces them with less shocking substitutes. “Tough” replaces “badass,” “whore” is converted to “hussy,” and my absolute favorite, “vagina” becomes “bottom.” I have so many problems with this app, but let’s start with the fact that the medically appropriate term for female genitalia is considered offensive?! Can it be any more obvious that female shaming is very much alive?! How damaging is it that people are teaching girls the simple anatomy that determines their sex is bad/offensive/dirty? Let’s not forget, this app is directed at children. Like the recent stunt in Indiana, this would’ve been laughed at ten years ago.
But there are still more things completely wrong with this app than its ill-disguised contempt of women. Have you ever heard the story of Charles Dickens when he was writing The Christmas Carol? His original manuscript (housed at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan, New York) contains revisions to Scrooge’s indigestion. We know it as “a blot of mustard,” originally, it read “a spot of mustard.” I’m lucky to know several published authors and many more talented writers, writing is something I love. There are few words I consider holier than “author.” It’s something I want to be myself, one day. The French actually have a separate word for published author than just “writer.” Writers choose their words carefully. There is a reason people write, for choosing the words they do. It’s something that shouldn’t be tampered with. It’s no less egregious than whacking parts off Michelangelo’s statue of David because it offends your delicate sensibilities. If you can’t handle something, leave it alone. Don’t dumb it down or dress it up to cater to your beliefs. Unfortunately, the app still exists, but at least they’ve stopped selling authors’ works and siphoning off some of the profits for themselves.
The religious right, everyone. They’ve had a banner couple of days.
*Before I could even get this post published, I ran across this today. I’m appalled, I’m horrified, I’m out of words that this kind of hatred is so alive and well in the world. Thankfully someone has written a beautiful response. Here it is, it’s definitely worth reading, and sharing.
Whoever you are, Reader, I wish you peace, and joy, and strength to stand up for what’s right. I leave you with two quotes.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
– Albus Dumbledore