She is not here for your trans panic bullshit. Have her advise corporate execs.
The rightwing terrorists who have been targeting Target stores because they carry Pride-themed items haven't been the least bit calmed by the company's stupid decision to give in to the hate. As Evan noted yesterday, the decision to move Pride collections to the back of stores and in some cases remove the merch all together has not slowed the bigots down in the slightest.
Take this White Power fascist mustache-abuser Ethan Schmidt (please!), who has garnered a measure of infamy for going into Target stores to record himself accosting customers and staff about the store's "Satanic" LGBTQ+ themed clothes.
He got his start as an anti-masker (and in March was convicted of trespassing at an Arizona wig store in a 2021incident), but has moved on to anti-LGBTQ+ hatred since that's where the clicks and the money are. He's widely mocked online for dumb stunts like very daintily stepping on a Target "pride" sign like a big tough guy. In the instance below, he was praised by performative outrage guru Matt Walsh for his performative outrage.
\u201c@MattWalshBlog Bragging about violent threats to transgender people and store employees in order to get your way is definitely going to win people over to your cause, Matt. Keep going.\u201d— Matt Walsh (@Matt Walsh) 1684939395
So sure, he's ridiculous, but Schmidt also threatened last year to "hunt" LGBTQ supporters in the Phoenix area, saying that companies selling Pride merchandise "are not safe" and that they "can't hide." Nice fella.
So now we get to the nice time: A pair of Target employees who confront Schmidt with absolute, firm calm and make clear they aren't scared of him, and that he can't go harassing shoppers. Whoever the woman is, her attitude of studied boredom is perfect — Schmidt wants to know if she supports the "Satanic Pride propaganda," and she calmly replies yes, "Satan and Pride." But what will God think of that, Schmidt wants to know. Again, perfectly calm: "I don't believe in God. Do you need help with something?" Then she and the other employee, a plainclothes "loss prevention" guy, help him find the exit. No fucks given for the shouty man.
\u201cGive this Target employee a monster raise\u201d— Wu Tang is for the Children (@Wu Tang is for the Children) 1684967679
Schmidt calls them "open Satanists," and the woman just shrugs. She may as well be a mellower real-world manifestation of Ursula, the rude waitress played by Lisa Kudrow in "Mad About You." (Yes, Phoebe's twin sister.)
Also too, a Best Supporting Performance medal for the couple at the end who cheerfully reply "Yep!" when Schmidt asks if they support the propaganda.
Americans don't want these fascist haters running things. We all need to make that clear, especially those of "us" in the executive suites.
So Target execs: Please acquire the steeliness of a pretty awesome retail worker and tell these creeps you won't be bullied, and that Pride isn't just a marketing strategy, but a commitment to the LGBTQ community. Have a top executive briefly show the video in an ad and announce that Target really does stand up to bigotry. And somebody give her all the money, please.
Chris Rufo has a new red meat, it is lady meat.
Those wacky right-wing shit-stirrers at Campus Reform, the Harass-Your-Liberal-Professor site that targets college and university faculty for allegedly doing woke indoctrination, have found a whole new thing to worry about.
This week, they sent one of their "reporters" to George Mason University to interview ordinary students about the latest leftist threat in America, even though the supposed threat is nonexistent and has nothing to do with George Mason U, or even with Masons, which seems like an oversight since they secretly run everything.
So what's the new threat from The Left? According to the article, there's an "emerging movement to change the spelling of the word 'women.'" Or at least Campus Reform and a few other right-wing nutters seem to want other righties to believe there is, only in addition to the old 1970s freakout over "womyn" as an attempt by Those Crazy Feminists to erase men, there's also the ongoing freakout over transgender people, as we saw with post-Dobbs gripes any time someone wrote "pregnant people."
The only problem with this supposed "emerging movement" is that it pretty much exists only in the heads of some right-wingers. Big surprise: it's a work in progress by professional Culture War hype man Chris Rufo, who also brought us the right-wing freakout over "critical race theory" in kindergarten classes, has helped stoke the ongoing panic over trans people existing, and is some of the "brains" behind the war on drag queens.
One of Rufo's favorite tactics is to find an obscure document on a website somewhere and inflate it into a claim that some institution is officially advocating or pushing an outrageous agenda. Last fall, I detailed how Rufo blew up the existence of some ill-advised "see also" links at the very end of a slide show into a bogus claim that Chicago schools were "promoting" kinky BDSM sex toys for trans kids, which of course was utter bullshit he happily promoted to any right-wing media source that would run it.
That's exactly what's happening with the nonexistent "movement" to change the spelling of women to wimmin, too. Earlier this month, Rufo found an obscure document on a University of Texas at Austin website and shopped around a claim that he'd found evidence the university officially wants to change the entire English Language. That probably came as a huge surprise to everyone in the UT administration, because the now-deleted document (archived link), titled "Language Matters, a Glossary of Terms," was appended only to the diversity commitment page for the Financial and Administrative Services department.
As we all know, as goes the Financial and Administrative Services department at the University of Texas at Austin, so goes the nation.
And there it was, Rufo tweeted, the incriminating proof that the University of Texas is indoctrinating young people with 1970s third wave feminism, right between entries on "White Supremacy" and "Woke"! Also, we now feel a little icky knowing that, just as we do, Rufo highlights things using MS-Paint.
Please try not to be too shocked by the definition, which we'll note is descriptive, not a demand for anyone to use the term:
Wimmin: A nonstandard spelling of the word ‘women’ used by feminists to avoid the word ending in ‘-men,’
We should add that the preface (archived) to the glossary also treated the contents as a suggestion, not a mandate for language use in either the department or the university as a whole:
Having a common language for talking about and across difference is important for mutual understanding and partnership. The language of diversity is evolving and requires awareness, understanding, and skill. This glossary, though not exhaustive, is a tool to give you the words and meanings to help make conversations easier, respectful and empowering.
OMG IT'S JUST LIKE ORWELLIAN NEWSPEAK! (Yeah, of course a wingnut website called it "Orwellian")
So there's the entirety of the emerging movement to change how we spell a word: An entry in a now-deleted glossary that was on one UT department's diversity webpage. Aren't feminists crazy?
A cursory search for the first sentence of that preface turned up only a single source that wasn't right-wing media reporting on the fake outrage, a 2022 seminar for a travel industry trade show, so lord only knows where the thing really originated. We found some, but not all, of the first few definitions in the glossary of a 2020 book called "Coaching for Equity," so we suspect the document is one of those things that gets copied and passed around in diversity and management circles. Clearly we must purge DEI programs from all American institutions to prevent woke radical leftists from imposing Orwellian language codes on our children!
So anyway, here's the dumb fucking video of the Campus Reform "reporter's" trip to interview George Mason U students about what the woke language commissars are trying to do. We can only assume GMU was chosen because Fairfax was a convenient drive for the videographer or the reporter.
Big surprise, the students all thought that the University of Texas shouldn't force people to change the spelling of "women," and we have great news: It isn't actually happening and never did.
Rufo's tweet from earlier this month did get covered on Fox News, the Daily Caller, and somehow, the Austin CBS affiliate, and other weird little right-wing sites that insisted UT was forcing the change on faculty and students, so great job, well done, Chris.
If nothing else, this fuckwankery might make for a mildly interesting example of the early stages of a manufactured disinformation campaign, although who knows whether it'll actually gets any traction on the Right. Now that there's a video of a bunch of sensible college students rejecting the latest Woke Language Mandate, it might go somewhere.
Or maybe not — compared to the other moral panics being pushed in rightwing media these days, this one seems like a quaint throwback. How is anyone supposed to be moved to wave AR-15s around at school administrators over spelling?
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It wasn't 'censored,' it was 'made unavailable' to elementary students. They can read it in middle school if they aren't shot by then.
In the latest news from the school censorship battlefield — along with the Washington Post investigation (gift link) which found that most challenges to books in US schools were filed by just 11 people, yes really — we learned yesterday that Miami-Dade County Public Schools restricted access to a book version of "The Hill We Climb," Amanda Gordon's poem from Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021.
Remember what a joyful, beautiful reading Gorman gave us that day?
But darn it, the poem and some books about Cuba and Black history were simply too much for one angry parent, who demanded that they all be removed forever so they wouldn't fill little kids with Wrongthink, according to documents released by the kick-ass anti-censorship nonprofit The Florida Freedom to Read Project. Specifically, and ungrammatically, the complaint about the poem explained it "is not educational and have indirect hate messages." The parent who complained also listed "Oprah Winfrey" as the author, apparently because Oprah's name is on the cover — she wrote the foreword.
In a statement, Gorman said she felt "gutted" by the action against her poem, noting that book censorship frequently targets those "who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves,” and that the "majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices."
She said that she'd written "The Hill We Climb"
so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. Ever since, I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb to write their own poems. Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.
Well sure, but what about all the hidden hate messages, which were in fact so well hidden that we couldn't even find them in the text of the poem that the parent complained about:
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
And the norms and notions of what "just is"
Isn’t always justice
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn’t broken, but simply
I guess it must be CRT because discrimination is in the past so why bring it up? Or the Mad Mom thought it invoked the chant "No Justice, No Peace"?
The Miami Herald, which first broke the story (subscriber-only link), explains that as a result of the challenge, four of the five titles the parent was unhappy about were placed on the middle school shelves at one school that houses kindergarten through 8th grade, but not removed entirely — just de facto unavailable to kids up to fifth grade. Stephana Ferrell, director of research and insight for Florida Freedom to Read, told the Herald that moving the books
underscores a growing trend to redefine what is considered age appropriate, “especially regarding books that address ethnicities, marginalized communities, racism or our history of racism.”
“Books written for students grades K-5 are being pushed to middle school [libraries and] out of reach for the students they were intended for,” she said. The books aren’t being banned from the district, she argued, “but they’re banned for the students they were intended for.”
Before you know it, schools will be insisting that moving the Gay Penguin book to county nursing homes isn't censorship, it's simply about making it available to an "appropriate" age group.
The Herald spoke to Daily Salinas, who is not a newspaper in California but actually the parent who complained about the poem and other titles, and who wanted them removed "from the total environment," although she also said she isn't for censorship, no, not at all. In addition to "The Hills We Climb," she objected to four other titles, The ABCs of Black History,Cuban Kids,Countries in the News: Cuba, and Love to Langston,all four of which are aimed at elementary school readers.
After the Herald story published, the Florida Freedom to Read Project posted to Twitter the complaint forms for the four books, in which Salinas complained the Cuba books indoctrinated students with "socialism" and "communism" because duh, it's Cuba and "Castros are the dictators." The other two books have Black people in them, so they are of course filled with "CRT" and "indoctrination," because little kids are ripe for critical race theory, the law school area of study. Also, The ABCs of Black History allegedly includes both "CRT and Gender Ideology," whatever that might mean to Ms. Salinas.
A review committee examined the books and found that none of them were guilty of "indoctrination," hooray, but the committee also decided that only one book, Countries in the News: Cuba, was "balanced and age appropriate in its wording and presentation," so it could stay in the elementary section of the library. The other four were found to be "more appropriate" for middle schoolers, although how exactly that was determined seems iffy.
The committee sent Gorman's poem to the middle school shelves because its "vocabulary" was "of value to middle school students"; it was also found to be "of historical value" and therefore not too indoctrinatey.
Despite Love to Langston being labeled for ages 8 to 11, it too was sent up to middle school, because the "content and subject matter of poems in this collection were determined to be better suited to middle school students." The poetry, we'll add, is by the author, Tony Medina, as a biography in verse of Langston Hughes. Maybe it's just too incendiary for nine-year-olds. The content in Cuban Kids was also found to be better for middle schoolers, although it's mostly just a collection of, as the title says, photos of kids in Cuba.
Finally, the most absurd decision sent a freaking alphabet book, The ABCs of Black History, to the middle school shelves, with the bizarre logic that
although the book's illustrations, presentations, and book jacket indicate this book was written for ages 5 and up, the [committee] determined the vocabulary and subject matter presented was more appropriate for middle school students.
We all know how jazzed kids in grades six through eight are about learning their ABCs, or perhaps in the minds of the committee, their BLMs and their ACABs.
So let's all celebrate that instead of being banned, these works have been relegated to the middle school shelves of the library, where only the Gorman poem is likely to ever be picked up by an actual student. (Have you met middle schoolers? They tend to react to anything they think is for little kids like it was Kyryptonite Jr.)
The Herald asked Ms. Salinas, who is not for censorship, what she thought of the decision to retain one book in the elementary section and move the others to the middle school section. She wasn't too happy, saying that
the books should have been removed for all students. School libraries are meant “to support the curriculum of the school and I don’t see how these books support the curriculum,” she said.
And finally, we should note that, according to a Twitter thread, with photos, posted by "Miami Against Fascism," Ms. Salinas isn't only a would-be schoolbook censor who rallies with Moms for Liberty/Censorship; she's also attended Proud Boys events and appears to have posted to Facebook a summary of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," so that's nice.
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Come and get your Tabs!
Hey, so Donald Trump selling pardons like a common street hustler is probably a bad thing, right? (New Republic)
Will Bunch makes some very good points about this major Trump scandal lying around in plain sight for more than two years. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
New York skyscrapers are causing the city to sink. That sounds dystopian but we haven't reached the point where wild vines cover the Empire State Building. (The Guardian)
The Los Angeles Dodger folded to Marco Rubio's bigoted complaints and ended up pleasing no one. Support for marginalized groups demands more than standing by us when it's popular. You have to stick up for us when it's inconvenient. (Twitter)
\u201cJust infuriating. Organizations want cool points for being \u270c\ud83c\udffeallies\u270c\ud83c\udffebut when the heat comes, they cower. Newsflash: Supporting marginalized groups means standing up to the people who prefer they not exist. It might cost you relationships. It might create animosity. If you\u2019re not\u2026\u201d— Jemele Hill (@Jemele Hill) 1684693246
Jemele Hill also delivers an amazing profile of newly freed Britney Griner. (The Atlantic)
Kyrsten Sinema from the Sinema Party has used campaign donations to fund a "life of luxury," which some folks consider unethical. We're talking trips to Paris resorts, jets, limos, and Michelin-starred restaurants. (Jezebel)
Some asshole school officials tried to force a Mississippi trans girl to attend her graduation wearing "boy's clothes." Cruelty won't make this student any less of a young woman, but it did cause her to miss her own graduation. (The Daily Beast)
America's current "propaganda apocalypse" didn't just happen overnight. It's been building for decades while we mostly ignored it. (Dame)
Ron DeSantis is pure evil but that's not Casey DeSantis's fault. The Lady Macbeth trope is tedious. Also, DeSantis could never sell the "dagger of the mind" monologue. (The Nation)
Acting Secretary of State Cheryl Myers says that former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan's staff warned her repeatedly about doing business with embattled cannabis dispensary company La Mota. (Willamette Week)
“Senior staff advised Secretary Fagan against working with La Mota from the very beginning,” acting Secretary of State Myers told WW on Friday. “We advised her against taking the contract, and when she recused herself, we advised her to disclose the relationship publicly. We again advised her to quit the contract when we learned about the company’s tax and legal troubles from the Willamette Week.”
Myers added: “Unfortunately, the secretary never presented this as a question. The secretary had predetermined she would take the contract from the moment she brought the issue to our attention. Our advice was ignored.”
Tom Hanks visited a Portland, Oregon typewriter shop — something that would obviously exist in Portland — and was very Tom Hanks about it. (Also Willamette Week)
Angela Stanton-King was a homeless mother just released from prison. Now, she's helping other single, pregnant women restart their lives. (AJC)
The hard-right shift at the Sumner County Commission in Tennessee is hardly a surprise but still alarming. (Associated Press)
The six wives of Henry VIII imagined as a girl group — that's why I love musical theatre. (LA Times)
Gotta love Robin Thede. "What up? I'm three!"
Follow Stephen Robinson on Twitter if it still exists.
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