Really, they are just such incredible dorks.
In 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts, 25 men, women, and children were killed because a bunch of not-very-smart people thought that they were witches with magic powers. Nineteen were hanged. Four died in prison, and one was tortured to death. None of them actually did have magic powers, because magic powers are not a real thing. There are those who place some of the blame for this on hallucinations caused by faulty rye bread, but I tend to think it happened because it's just how some people are.
Children are taught this history lesson fairly early on as a warning, so that they know what not to do when they get older. They understand that none of the people killed were witches with magical powers and that the Salem townsfolk killed them because they believed stupid things and didn't mind their own business. Because, you see, it is one thing to believe stupid things. It is another to get in other people's faces about it. Or hang them because of it, as the case has often been.
Yet, judging by our own history, it's not a lesson many people have fully absorbed.
This weekend, there was a big ol' uproar on the Right side of the internet because some Twitter lady found out that one of the designers who created some of the items in Target's pride collection is a Satanist who doesn't literally believe in Satan and who made some other products for Not Target that say things like "Satan Respects Pronouns."
They are pretty freaking cute.
The line, Abprallen, is designed by a London-based transman named Erik, and the products made for Target's Pride collection include a fanny pack that says "We Belong Everywhere," a bag that says "Too Queer For Here" and a sweatshirt that says "Cure Transphobia, Not Trans People."
Anyway, the Right has already been going absolutely batshit for weeks over Target's Pride collection, which they've been doing every year for a while now. They're all very upset about it and wish that Target and all other brands and companies would simply respect the fact that they are the only people on the planet and "target" no one but them.
The Satanist thing, however, was all kicked off by a lady from Wisconsin named Scarlett Johnson, who had previously made a name for herself by publicly demanding children not learn about racism.
\u201cWhy did @target hire a Satanist to design pieces for their recent "Pride" clothing line? \n\nWTF\ud83d\udc49\ud83c\udffd"Satan loves you and respects who you are... LGBTQIA+ people are so often referred to as being a product of Satan or going against God's will, so fine. We'll hang with Satan instead."\u201d— Scarlett Johnson (@Scarlett Johnson) 1684626994
Evil ScarJo, as we will now be calling her (duh), did a whole tweet thread in which she quoted Erik at length, demanding to know why Target had hired a Satanist to design things, and failed to explain at any point what was wrong with Target doing so. The Daily Wire did a whole article on her tweet thread and also did not manage to explain what Target did wrong. The Washington Examiner also did a whole article on it without explaining what Target did wrong.
Noted free speech warrior Jordan Peterson railed against Target in several tweets, while also not explaining what the actual problem was.
\u201cClue in @Target and stop this now. Stop. Now.\u201d— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@Dr Jordan B Peterson) 1684691971
Then again, he also spent some time this weekend complaining about how women should never have been allowed to vote — again, probably because of how much he loves free speech.
There's a reason these people keep these things vague, and it's because they cannot actually explain what is wrong with someone being a Satanist or with Target hiring that Satanist to design products for them. What is it that they think is going to happen? What is the controversy?
They have also been upset about a bathing suit that is specifically designed for tucking, as if they are somehow in danger of someone forcing them or their children to wear it. While I can certainly sympathize with feeling personally attacked by a swimsuit, I also understand that no one is requiring anyone to wear one that they don't like or that doesn't work for their body. I myself have tried on many bathing suits that were not for me but probably looked great on someone else and vice versa. This is just how things work out sometimes.
It's weird that they don't know that, regardless of how they may feel about it, they live in a nation where everyone can pick their own bathing suit and their own religion. They live in a nation where trans people exist and are allowed to wear clothes they like (unless some asshole judge won't let them go to their own graduation unless they wear "male" clothes under their gown). They live in a nation where people can make art and fashion that they don't like and would never wear. I am never going to wear culottes, button-down shirts that are actually supposed to button, onesies of any kind or this very bright orange and taupe Alexander McQueen knock-off scarf that I bought thinking I'd find something to wear with it eventually. It's okay. I'm okay. I will live and so will these people, unpleasant though they may be.
There will come a time when we look back upon these days as being just as stupid and embarrassing as the Salem witch trials and every other hideously embarrassing thing our nation has done since then. Indeed, there will probably even come a time when the Evil ScarJos of the day don't want their kids to find out how terrible and cruel people like them were to trans folks (and even Satanists), for fear they will feel badly about themselves. If only there were something that these people could start doing now to prevent it from becoming another reason their future grandkids and great grandkids might think the United States is not the greatest country in the world.
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And yet, Republicans wanted it to be even worse
After weeks and weeks of heroic filibustering from Independent State Senator Megan Hunt and Democratic State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh and others, the Nebraska legislature voted on Friday to restrict abortion rights and healthcare for transgender youth.
Because the filibuster was going to make it difficult for Republicans to pass both the anti-abortion and the anti-trans bills, they decided to combine them into one terrible bill, L.B. 574, which passed by a 33-to-15 vote.
Granted, it's not as extreme as what they originally wanted to do. They wanted a six-week ban on abortion and settled for 12, with exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies. They wanted to ban all gender-affirming care and ended up only banning surgeries and allowing puberty blockers and hormones for patients who have a “long-lasting and intense pattern of gender nonconformity or gender dysphoria which began or worsened at the start of puberty” and have had an unspecified number of psychotherapy sessions.
Republicans are patting themselves on the back for this "compromise," but Democrats see it as just the first step towards making things even worse.
“This has the potential to be a back door to a full ban,” said Senator John Fredrickson, a Democrat from Omaha who was among the lawmakers who filibustered for weeks in an effort to block the original transgender bill. “I don’t see this as a compromise in any way, shape or form.” ...
Senator George Dungan, a Democrat, called the bill discriminatory and predicted it would face legal challenges.
“We should not be in the business of telling people what they can and can’t do with their bodies,” he said during the final minutes of the debate that preceded the vote on Friday afternoon. “We should not be in the business of stepping between doctors and patients.” ...
Senator Machaela Cavanaugh, a Democrat who led efforts to filibuster to prevent Republicans from passing their original proposal, said those who opposed limits to abortion and transgender care would continue to fight through the courts and other means. She said that the hard-fought legislative session had galvanized activism in Nebraska.
“I think the only victory in this is that trans people, especially trans youth, are no longer invisible,” she said.
On Twitter, Sen. Megan Hunt wrote "We haven’t lost because we haven’t quit. Tomorrow is another day to fight with love, compassion, and the knowledge that we are righteous in the cause of justice." She also dragged a fellow senator for voting against abortion rights and healthcare for trans youth and having tickets to go see Lizzo afterwards.
\u201cLol tonight @lizzo is performing in Omaha and Senator Ballard, who just voted for a bill to ban abortion & trans healthcare, is going.\n\nThey want LGBTQ money\nThey want LGBTQ entertainment \nThey want LGBTQ culture\nBut at they won\u2019t vote to protect LGBTQ lives and safety. \ud83e\udee0\u201d— Senator Megan Hunt (@Senator Megan Hunt) 1684532613
Earlier this week, Hunt, whose son is transgender, called out one of her colleagues who complained that she had to miss her grandchild's preschool graduation because of the filibuster, telling the senator that she must hate "her son more than she loves her own family," or else she wouldn't be there. And she was correct.
\u201cNE State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R) complains filibusters of anti-trans bills made her miss her grandson's preschool graduation.\n\nSen. Megan Hunt (I): \u201cYou won't come off this bill that hurts my [trans] son. You hate him more than you love your own family. That's why you're here."\u201d— Heartland Signal (@Heartland Signal) 1684441711
It says something that the women are the hopeful ones here. I'd like to believe that with people like Sens. Cavanaugh and Hunt in the legislature, there is a decent chance that instead of making things worse, Nebraska will reverse course and make them better.
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Signs a boatload of bad bills, is bad.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has had a busy week, signing several bills that will further encrappen the state and make life miserable for LGBTQ folks, all in the hope that he'll prove himself authoritarian enough to appeal to Republican primary voters next year. He's been traveling across America's Dangling Appendage signing bills restricting people's freedom while claiming that Florida is the home of freedom, as long as you're a rightwing evangelical. (We think we'll just stop at "evangelical" from here on, since adding "Christian" to it just makes baby Jesus sad.)
Monday, DeSantis went to New College of Florida in Sarasota, the nice little liberal arts school he's ruining to turn into a rightwing indoctrination center, to sign several bills aimed at purifying Florida colleges and universities of "wokeness." It was his way of twisting the knife a bit, to remind the Liberal Elites who's in charge. Your fascists love that kind of symbolic humiliation shit, like how a former German corporal insisted in 1940 that France surrender in the same railroad car where the 1919 Armistice was signed.
But sometimes the vanquished just won't cooperate and admit they've been crushed, darn them. As Yr Wonkette noted Saturday, the official graduation speaker for New College's commencement was Dr. Scott Atlas, Donald Trump's Infect Everyone and Let God Sort 'Em Out COVID adviser, which was supposed to be a sick burn on the libs. Instead of going along, New College students scheduled their own commencement for tonight, and civil rights attorney Maya Wiley will deliver the keynote speech. It's as if those libs don't even know they've been owned. Sad!
We Don't Need No Education
As we say, DeSantis went to New College to ritually defile the corpse of his enemy, by signing bills that will further his goal of ramping up white grievance against higher education and nonexistent "liberal indoctrination." The biggie is Senate Bill 266, which defunds and prohibits "Diversity, Equity and Inclusion" (DEI) programs in higher education, because as we all know from racist memes, diversity is just code for white genocide. DeSantis kept a lid on the open racism and went for the respectable old dog whistle of "reverse racism" instead, saying,
"If you look at the way this has actually been implemented across the country, DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination. [...] And that has no place in our public institutions."
DeSantis proclaimed an end to diversity, crowing that "This bill says the whole experiment with DEI is coming to an end in the state of Florida. We are eliminating the DEI programs."
In addition, the bill also cracks down further on academic freedom, specifying that general education classes — the core of classes for all undergrads — may not "distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics," and must not be based on
theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.
Lasting effects of Jim Crow? Certainly not in Florida! America is perfect in Florida! A history prof could teach about redlining, presumably, as long as they don't suggest that it created a structural imbalance in how wealth is accumulated in the US, because it's just pure coincidence that some people inherited homes in neighborhoods that had restrictive covenants, while other people never saw such generational wealth transfer. Discrimination vanished after the Fair Housing Act in 1968, because it's right in the name of the law, and how dare you suggest that the playing field was never level?
The bill also demands that gen ed classes of all kinds emphasize "Western Civilization," the best civilization there is, and requires that humanities classes include works from the "Western" canon, although studying inferior books from less important cultures will be tolerated for now at least.
Other bills DeSantis signed Monday included House Bill 931, which prohibits colleges from requiring a "political loyalty test" — i.e., from committing to diversity or anything like it. It also requires that all "public policy events" include equal time for opposing views, which as far as we can tell means that if you have a Pride event you have to invite Matt Walsh.
Finally, another measure will weaken tenure protections for professors, who need to be kept in line with the threat of being fired if they get too mouthy about any of this.
'Don't Say Gay' On Steroids, And Worse
To mark yesterday's International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which commemorates the World Health Organization's 1990 removal of LGBTQ+ identity from its list of "mental disorders" — Jesus H Christ on a Segway, it took that long! — DeSantis signed four anti-LGBTQ measures into law, ensuring that civil rights attorneys and activists will at least have a booming business for the next few years as they work to shut that shit down. Honestly, it's well past time that, instead of the Bugs Bunny gif, we instead force Florida back into the US of A and make it respect all its residents' rights.
Florida's state medical board last year adopted rules restricting gender-affirming care for trans youth. Yesterday, DeSantis made it a matter of law by signing Senate Bill 254, which prohibits puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery for minors (as we always point out, gender-affirming surgery is already extremely rare for patients under 18).
As indy journalist Erin Reed notes, this one's far worse than the usual run of such bills, because it also bans nurse practitioners from providing any gender-affirming meds, which won't just deny care to minors but to adults, since according to Florida healthcare provider SPEKTRUM Health, up to 80 percent of gender-affirming care in Florida is provided by NPs. As Reed reports, this has already led to appointments being cancelled and people losing access to medication.
The bill became effective as soon as DeSantis signed it, and the Human Rights Campaign reports that parents who are already suing to block the state medical board's anti-trans measures are seeking an emergency order to block SB 254 immediately. Other lawsuits are certain to follow.
The wording of the bill states that if a cisgender person is in the bathroom with a transgender person, an employee can tell the transgender person to leave. Should the transgender person not leave immediately for any reason, they will be charged with criminal trespass, which can carry sentences of up to 1 year in jail. [...]
While the provisions do not ban all bathroom usage, they cast a wide net over an alarming number of locations that would fall under definitions of “public” in the bill. This includes all buildings owned or leased by any governmental entity, educational institutions spanning from elementary schools to private colleges and universities, numerous hospitals owned by universities, many sports arenas, convention centers, city parks, beaches, airports, and more.
The bill makes no exceptions for trans folk who have updated their gender status on official documents like birth certificates or drivers licenses, instead defining sex as a matter of chromosomes and genitalia, which opens the hellish possibility that people trying to relieve themselves in a stall with a locked door will be subjected to freaking medical investigations. It's also a no-win situation, as Reed notes, since
Transgender people who are androgenous or pass as their gender identity will likely be challenged in the bathroom of their birth sex. Those trans people will then be forced to undergo the same investigation into their gender. In essence, it amounts to a ban on bathrooms for transgender people entirely.
HB 1521 goes into effect on July 1 — avoiding Pride month, isn't that cute? — by which time the lawsuits challenging it may have made headway, we hope. If it isn't already enjoined by then, get ready for lots of pushback, too, from cisgender folks who are challenged by toilet vigilantes. Sadly, in Florida, those cases may get the most media attention, because oh no, the "wrong" people are being harmed.
DeSantis also signed HB 1069, which expands the already awful "Don't Say Gay" law to 12th grade, and will prohibit trans students from asking to please be addressed by their correct pronouns, as well as encouraging even more vicious censorship of books in classrooms and school libraries. It too becomes effective July 1. A final member of the shitshow quartet, SB 1438, expands Florida's "obscenity" laws to include drag shows; it's almost certain to be used to attack Pride parades. Reed notes it has "already led to cancellations of pride events, including the Treasure Coast Pride Parade."
All of the bills DeSantis signed this week are blatantly unconstitutional, so this might be a good time to donate, if you can, to groups like Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign, or the ACLU of Florida. As the inevitable lawsuits against this fuckery ramp up, we'll bring you more information on how to help. As Yr Wonkette likes to point out when we discuss the climate crisis, things are pretty fucked, but we have the advantage of being on the right side. Americans do not want this crap, and there's a lot of mobilization to do — like the major federal lawsuit that's just been launched by Florida parents, PEN America, and Random House against school library censorship, about which we'll have more shortly.
Be an activist. Be an ally. Fight this shit with love and passion and smartassery (but don't mistake snark for activism, you in the back, there). This humbug shall not stand, man.
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Both these tastes taste like shit.
There was a hell of a lot of news just yesterday about the ongoing effort to make sure women, children, and some men too don't get any silly ideas about having bodily autonomy, so let's dig right in, with the reminder that the GOP's drive to ban abortion everywhere is hugely unpopular with everyone except the hardcore anti-abortion folks who now dominate the Gruesome Orc Party.
North Carolina: GOP Lege Overrides Veto, Passes 12-Week Ban
The Republican supermajority in both houses of the North Carolina Legislature voted Tuesday to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's recent veto, passing a ban on abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The veto override wouldn't have been possible in the state House without the party switch by state Rep. Tricia Cotham, who suddenly announced in April that she had decided to become a Republican. That move cemented a two-thirds GOP majority in the House, and now we're sure Cotham is very happy with her 30 pieces of flair from GOP donors. Back in ancient times — i.e., January of this year — Cotham cosponsored a bill that would have codified abortion rights into state law, but honestly, who remembers January any more? We have a feeling that voters may remember Cotham's switcheroo in 2024.
Yesterday's vote means that there are now no states south of Virginia and east of New Mexico where abortion remains legal and relatively easy to obtain. Even inside the 12-week limit, abortions in North Carolina will require a 72-hour waiting period between an initial visit and the actual provision of abortion services, even for medical abortions using mifepristone, if it remains legal. Doctors must be present when patients take the pill as well. [Politico]
National: Appeals Court Hears Abortion Pill Ban Today
The federal appeals court in New Orleans is hearing oral arguments today in the unspeakably shoddy lawsuit to reverse the FDA's 2000 approval of the abortion drug mifepristone. The lawsuit, custom made for Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas, should have been laughed out of court from the start because the plaintiffs have no plausible standing in the case, and because the alleged "scientific" evidence that the FDA wrongly approved the drug is crap, but then, that's the Trump judiciary we have. The case is being heard in the notoriously rightwing Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by a three-judge panel consisting of two Trump appointees and a GW Bush appointee, all of whom have histories of supporting abortion restrictions. One of the judges, Trump appointee James Ho, called abortion a "moral tragedy" in a 2018 opinion, and you just ignore the research showing that 99 percent of women who've had abortions continue to believe it was the right choice even several years later. They've all been brainwashed to rationalize their decision, you see.
In addition to the bullshit Texas case, the appeals court will also hear the case from Washington state that ruled the FDA can't reverse its approval of mifepristone. That case has been combined with the one from Texas. In April, the Supreme Court issued a stay on enforcement of Kacsmaryk's ruling, meaning that mifepristone will remain available at least until the Fifth Circuit rules in the case at some point following today's arguments. Whatever the outcome, get ready for the entire shitshow of legal uncertainty to start all over again until the case eventually gets to the Supreme Court. [NBC News / AP]
Montana: Greg Gianforte Signs Abortion Restrictions Days After State Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Rights
In Montana Tuesday, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte body-slammed reproductive freedom by signing four anti-abortion bills, which included a 12-week ban on all dilation and evacuation abortions after 15 weeks. Other restrictions signed by Gianforte will add new regulations on clinics and restrict Medicaid coverage for abortions.
As the Montana Free Press reports, Gianforte's approval of the abortion restrictions came just days after the Montana Supreme Court
upheld a nearly 25-year-old legal precedent allowing abortion access under the state Constitution’s right to privacy. That case, Weems v. State, found that advanced practice nurse practitioners with proper training can provide abortions in Montana and reaffirmed that women have a fundamental right “to seek abortion care from a qualified health care provider of her choosing, absent a clear demonstration of a medically acknowledged, bona fide health risk.”
But then, what does the state supreme court know about state law anyway? Gianforte issued a statement saying he was "proud to round out our legislative session with another suite of pro-life, pro-family bills that protect the lives of unborn babies in Montana," and if your family includes anyone who thinks they need an abortion, then clearly it's not a real family.
The legislation is likely to face a legal challenge, what with the earlier state supreme court ruling. Also, as the Montana Free Press notes, the legislation
bars “dismemberment abortion,” a nonmedical term that the legislation defines in part as “the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or other substance or device” to intentionally terminate pregnancies and the “insertion of grasping instruments” to remove a fetus.
The law includes exceptions for the treatment of ectopic pregnancies, and for "medical emergencies," which of course can be a dicey determination that leads to delays of any treatment until a patient is close to death. Planned Parenthood of Montana immediately filed a motion in state court Tuesday to prevent the new law from being enforced. [Montana Free Press]
Nebraska: GOP Breaks Filibuster Of Anti-Trans Bill By Adding Abortion Ban, Because Why Not Oppress Everyone?
Finally, the GOP's two most repulsive movements to restrict human freedom merged in Nebraska yesterday, as Republicans in the state's unicameral Legislature sought to use a ban on abortion to break the three-month filibuster against the Republicans' attempts to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors. Democratic state Sens. Machaela Cavanaugh and Megan Hunt (who has a trans son, aged 12) have been absolute BOSSES in their ongoing efforts to kill the anti-trans bill, refusing to allow any legislation at all to move forward until Republicans dropped it. And it worked for months, until yesterday.
Independent reporter Erin Reed reports that in the latest attempt to move the anti-trans bill, LB 574, Republican state Sen. Ben Hansen amended the bill with a ban on abortions after 12 weeks. (Really 10 weeks, since pregnancy by statute "begins" with the the patient's last missed period.) In addition, his amendment hands all authority on rules related to healthcare for trans youth to the state's Chief Medical Officer, who of course was appointed by the Republican Gov. Jim Pillen. Says Reed,
While some may label this as a compromise, it feels like a more radical turn. It underlines the unsettling truth that the battles over gender-affirming care and abortion rights are not separate, but rather two faces of the same coin, driven by the same factions, using the same justifications to limit access to vital care.
The amendment technically drops the part of LB 574 that forbids puberty blockers and hormone therapy, instead only banning gender-affirming surgical procedures for anyone under the age of 19. That seems like a compromise, since the vast majority of trans people don't seek surgery until after they're adults anyway.
Oh, but then there's the catch: By transferring all authority to set rules on gender affirming care to the state's Chief Medical Officer, the amendment simply shifts the banning of puberty blockers and hormone treatment from the Lege to that appointed bureaucrat, Dr. Timothy Tesmer, who will almost certainly eliminate the treatments — and would also be free to add other restrictions that weren't in the original version of LB 574. Sneaky, huh?
The amended bill moved forward last night in a procedural vote that broke the filibuster by a single vote.
Sen. Cavanaugh this morning gave a powerful speech evoking the words of Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, condemning the dishonest tactics used by Republicans in forcing an end to the filibuster by combining two Republican obsessions, punishing women for having sex, and punishing trans people for existing:
\u201cSenator Cavanaugh channeling Rep. Zephyr today in today's hearing after Republicans cheated to pass a 10 week abortion ban and gender affirming care, to pass it through and break a filibuster.\n\n"You WILL have blood on your hands if you vote for this! You'll have buckets."\u201d— Erin Reed (@Erin Reed) 1684290807
"You literally have to cheat at every moment of this debate. In every possible way, you are cheating. [...]
"Women will die. Children are dying. It is your fault. It is your fault! And you are allowing it to happen. You DO literally have blood on your hands, and if you vote for this you will have buckets and buckets of blood on your hands."
After a final round of debate today, the combined measure is likely to pass — and then the fight to protect trans young people's lives will shift to the courts. Sen. Hunt noted minutes ago on Twitter that she's already getting death threats, but she's not afraid. The more the bastards attack people's rights to be themselves and to have autonomy over their own bodies, the more they will lose. She also eloquently pointed out that the Nebraska case makes clear once and for all that these are not separate issues (and for that matter, neither are the attacks on schools and libraries).
\u201cTrans rights are directly tied to the greater fight for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy - we are all in this fight together, no one is siloed away from being impacted by the rollback of our collective rights. \n\nWhat's happening in Nebraska is proof.\u201d— Senator Megan Hunt (@Senator Megan Hunt) 1684335866
"Trans rights are directly tied to the greater fight for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy - we are all in this fight together, no one is siloed away from being impacted by the rollback of our collective rights.
"What's happening in Nebraska is proof."
Americans are not going to stand for this, and we all need to come together to protect our rights. Get ready for a long fight, and organize, organize, organize. We'll close with a prayer from Rev. Molly Ivins, from her final column. She was talking about the Iraq War and George W. Bush, but it applies here, today, just as well; just substitute "women and trans kids" for "troops" and it's right on target:
We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them. [...] We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"
Yr Wonkette is funded by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month so we can help keep all of us in the fight for sanity and justice. We can't let freedom be lost, especially not to such ridiculous, mean-spirited assholes.