Open Thread and Link Farm, Fish Hurricane Edition

The amazing photos accompanying this Open Thread are by Andreas Hemb and Christian Vizl.

  1. The three most popular movies at theaters in the United States and Canada in 2017 — “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Wonder Woman” — were each driven by female characters, something that has not happened in at least 37 years, as far back as full box office data is available.”
  2. What Research Tells Us About How Women Are Treated at Work
  3. Well-adjusted man with good priorities sues Iliza Shlesinger over women-only comedy show 
    “Shlesinger’s “Girls Night In” is described as “a hybrid stand up show and interactive discussion between Iliza and the women in the audience aimed at giving women a place to vent in a supportive, fun and inclusive environment.”
  4. In the heart of Anti-Trump Country, voters still pine for an America better than its president | Will Bunch
  5. The Partisanship of Feminism – The Atlantic
    “A liberal woman’s emergence as a serious presidential contender in 2008, and then as her party’s nominee eight years later, drove feminists of both genders toward the Democratic Party and anti-feminists of both genders toward the GOP.”
  6. The Elusive Backfire Effect: Mass Attitudes’ Steadfast Factual Adherence by Thomas Wood, Ethan Porter :: SSRN
    A new study finds that citizens are more open to facts that go against their partisan preferences than some other studies have found. One possible reason for the difference, according to the paper: previous studies have used undergraduate samples rather than general population samples.
  7. The past year of research has made it very clear: Trump won because of racial resentment – Vox
  8. Trump’s Pick to Run 2020 Census Has Defended Racial Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression Laws – Mother Jones
  9. Sarah Silverman’s response to a Twitter troll is a master class in compassion – Blog | q | CBC Radio
  10. What Liberals Get Wrong About Identity Politics | New Republic
  11. #NotYourModelMinority: Asian Americans in the affirmative action debate | Urban Institute
  12. Justice Department inquiry renews debate over whether top colleges hold some applicants to an unfair standard — and what the data say about Asian-American applicants.
  13. The Uncomfortable Truth About Affirmative Action and Asian-Americans | The New Yorker
  14. Investigating Whether Affirmative Action Hurts Asians – The Atlantic
  15. What the Trans Moment Has to Offer Radical Feminism – The TransAdvocate
    “For to describe accurately the class of potential and actual victims of rape would necessarily mean including people who are trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, intersex, and otherwise not specifically cisgender.”
  16. How a Nearly Successful Slave Revolt Was Intentionally Lost to History | Smart News | Smithsonian
  17. Why dolphins are deep thinkers | Science | The Guardian
    Dolphins make plans and use tools.
  18. No, #MeToo Is Not a Witch Hunt – Pacific Standard
  19. This might be the best map of the 2016 election you ever see – Vox
  20. These are the arguments against net neutrality and why they’re wrong | TechCrunch

Posted in Link farms | 29 Comments  

Cartoon: White Lies


If you enjoy these cartoons, and can spare it, please support them at Patreon. A $1 pledge means a lot.


This cartoon is actually a sequel, to this other cartoon I did at least a decade ago. It’s interesting (to me, at least) seeing how my style has changed over the years.


Transcript of Cartoon

TITLE PANEL
Fractured-looking letters say “White Lies.” Next to the lettering, a smiling white lady speaks directly to the viewer.
LADY: I don’t even see race!

PANEL 1
A smiling white man explains himself.
MAN: I was only being FUNNY! I mean, “ironic.”

PANEL 2
A white man stands holding a black woman in front of him. To his left, a white woman stands, hugging a little Asian boy, and holding an Asian baby with her other arm. The boy has an image of Captain America’s iconic shield on his t-shirt.
WHITE MAN: I have a Black wife!
WHITE WOMAN: I adopted Asian kids!
BOTH TOGETHER: So nothing we say could possibly be racist!

PANEL 3
A young white man types at a laptop, his coffee cop besides him. Above him, we can see what he’s typing – a social media comment, with “his” picture, showing a pretty Black woman, besides the comment.
He is typing: As a strong Black woman, I think we Blacks talk too much about racism.

PANEL 4
An angry white woman, standing near a fence with some giant sunflowers nearby, talks directly to the viewer.
WOMANL Only monsters are racist! So criticizing me for racism is calling me a monster! How dare you call me a monster? So uncivil!

PANEL 5
A young white woman, stands in a coffee shop, holding a cup of tea and a saucer.
WOMAN: I DEFINITELY have a non-white friend who agrees with me.

PANEL 6
A white woman in slacks and a polo shirt sits on a park bench, reading a newspaper (“Daily Opiate”) and speaking cheerfully to the viewer.
WOMAN: My vote for Trump had nothing to do with racism!

PANEL 7
An older white man, with a friendly demeanor, a big white beard, and a sweater vest, speaks to the viewer.
MAN: I can’t be a racist, because I voted for Obama.

PANEL 8
Two white people stand talking directly to the viewer: A man with a checkerboard shirt, and a woman wearing a sleeveless black shirt. The man, spreading his arms wide, has a angry expression; the woman is holding up one finger like a professor making a point.
MAN: When non-whites get ANGRY discussing racism, that proves they’re irrational!
WOMAN: And when whites speak calmly, that proves our opinions are super rational!

PANEL 9
A white woman stands on a golf course, holding a golf club across one shoulder. She looks anxious.
WOMAN: If “Black Lives Matter,” that means white lives don’t matter!

PANEL 10
An angry white man is yelling and pointing at a Black woman.
MAN: The word “racism” is unfair because it shuts white people up!
WOMAN (thought): If only…

KICKER PANEL
In a small panel below the bottom of the comic strip, an angry white woman speaks directly to the viewers.
WOMAN: This cartoon generalizes about white people! That makes IT the REAL racist!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Race, racism and related issues | 63 Comments  

Cartoon: Toxic Masculinity Stew


If you enjoy my cartoons, and can spare it, please support my patreon! A $1 pledge means a lot.


Transcript of cartoon

At the top of the strip, there’s a drawing of various unidentifiable shapes floating in a liquid in a pot. Lettering on top of the drawing, in cheerfully cartoony letters, says “Toxic Masculinity Stew.”

Panel 1
A man in a chef’s shirt talks directly to the viewer. He has a mustache, is bald, and looks to be middle-aged but vigorous. He’s holding a long spoon in one hand and making a “thumb’s up” sign at the viewers with his other hand; there are various bowls arrayed in front of him, with neon green stuff in the bowls, and a big stew pot to his right. (Throughout this strip, all colors are a bit desaturated and dull, other than the neon green.)
CHEF: Welcome! Today we’ll be making “toxic masculinity stew.” Yum!

Panel 2
The chef is stirring some neon green stuff in a pan.
CHEF: We’ll start by sautéing some feelings. We’ll bury these at the bottom of the pot, so no one will ever see them!

Panel 3
The chef hold out a neon-green egg towards the viewer. The egg is visibly cracked.
CHEF: Add a delicate sense of manhood. The slightest thing can make boys feel that this has been shattered! What fun!

Panel 4
The Chef mixes something in a bowl.
CHEF: In a separate bowl, put ht eidea that “the sex” is something held by women. Mix it with the belief that if a man can’t get “the sex” from a woman, one way or the other… Then he’s not a real man at all!

Panel 5
From above the pot, we see the chef’s hand holding a shaker (like a salt shaker) and sprinkling neon green specs into the stew.
CHEF: Now sprinkle in lots of gear of being soft or gentle or vulnerable. Nothing spoils this dish quicker than boys accepting these parts of themselves!

PANEL 6
The Chef holds out a spoon towards the viewer. The spoon is dripping with a thick, neon-green liquid.
CHEF: Simmer for 10-40 years and there you have it… a lovely toxic masculinity stew! It tastes repulsive and bitter, but don’t worry. We’ll force it down.

KICKER PANEL
A tiny panel below the bottom of the strip shows a woman yelling at the cartoonist.
WOMAN: Criticizing how society harms men means you’re anti-male!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Men and masculinity, Sexism hurts men | 102 Comments  

The Music I’d Like to Put Back Into My Life

When I was in grade school, my grandmother taught me how to play the C major scale, bass and treble clef, on the Steinway upright piano she had in her apartment. From that moment on, I wanted to be a musician and, from that moment on, everyone in my family did everything they could to discourage me. My mother and stepfather did not allow me to join the orchestra in the elementary school I attended; and every time I brought the idea up, my grandmother made sure I understood there was no way I’d ever make a living at it. I didn’t know this at the time, but she had sung professionally when she was younger, on the radio (though I don’t remember the name of the program), and, if I remember the story I’ve heard correctly, Jimmy Durante was her accompanist at one point.

When I was in high school, I took revenge on my mother by joining the local drum & bugle corps. I wanted to join as a drummer, but the corps needed horn players, so I ended up playing the bass baritone bugle. I got be pretty good at it, but the hours I spent practicing drove my mother, and my neighbors, a little bit crazy. For a while I thought I might stick with drum corps, which is a pretty big deal once you get past a certain level, but that didn’t work out, and so making music was something I did pretty much only at my grandmother’s on that same Steinway upright—the original sales receipt for which my mother gave me recently so I could take, as she put it, “a trip down memory lane:”

All that playing at my grandmother’s must have done me some good, because when I finally had the chance to take piano lessons, a semester’s worth during my senior year of high school with a teacher named, I think, Ms. Wise (or Weiss), I was good enough to take a stab at Ernesto Lecuona’s Malaguena:

It’s a beautiful piece of music, well-worth listening to, if you have a few minutes:

By the time I started college, I was already beginning to think I’d be a writer, not a musician, so when I played piano—which I did for hours each week in the practice rooms at Stony Brook University—I did so only for myself. I never tried to learn any actual songs, though, preferring the improvised music I made based on what I’d learned in the couple of music theory courses I took, until I started working at Surprise Lake Camp and got involved with the drama program. I learned there to fake my way as accompanist through the music of Cats, A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof and more. Then, I met my friend Bill, who had ambitions to become a singer-songwriter, and we started writing music together. We even performed once at The Bitter End, though whoever did the publicity spelled my name wrong:

When my friendship with Bill ended, maybe because it ended—we did not part on good terms and I was angry and devastated by the loss—I lost the desire to perform on stage. I was getting serious about my writing and I made a conscious decision to focus my energies there. I still played for my own enjoyment, and sometimes I’d play for friends at a party, but I no longer thought of music as something I wanted to pursue seriously. That changed, for a time anyway, when I discovered how easy it was to compose music with a MIDI synthesizer, a computer, and the right software. I might not have wanted to perform in front of an audience, but the idea of writing music appealed to me. So I bought the equipment I needed and got started.

Over the next three or four years, I composed fifteen or so pieces that I thought of as complete, but the five in the Soundcloud playlist at the top of this post are the only ones that survive. I found them on my computer not too long ago and I liked them well enough that I thought them worth preserving and sharing with others.

These days, I don’t play much piano at all, but I miss it. I really do.

Posted in Music | 6 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Creepy Face Swap Edition

Happy end of 2017, everybody!

  1. High School Is Too Late to Start Teaching Consent to Kids – Rewire
  2. Emergency rooms are monopolies. Patients pay the price.  – Vox
    ER “fees rose 89 percent between 2009 and 2015 — rising twice as fast as the price of outpatient health care, and four times as fast as overall health care spending.”
  3. An ex-cop from Arizona was acquitted for shooting an unarmed, sobbing man – Vox
  4. After Trent Franks, men worry if asking subordinates to bear their child is still okay – The Washington Post
  5. Focus group with Alabama voters who are sticking by Roy Moore (HBO) – YouTube
    This was from before the election, but I think still interesting slash horrifying.
  6. Trump Protesters Facing Felonies Say U.S. Wants To Criminalize The First Amendment | HuffPost
    “The government would have you believe that everyone, the hundreds of people in that section, are breaking the law simply because they didn’t get up and leave.”
  7. Letters of Note: To My Old Master
    “Jourdon’s 1865 reply to the person who enslaved his family, dictated from his home on August 7th, is everything you could wish for.”
  8. Obsessing over the deficit could further imperil those whom the tax bill leaves worst off.
    “In this interview, Stephanie Kelton, a professor of economics at Stony Brook University and former economic advisor to Bernie Sanders, explains why.”
  9. “Chain migration,” and why Donald Trump wants to end it, explained – Vox
  10. The Insane Plan to Give North Korea a ‘Bloody Nose’ | The American Conservative
  11. A Nashville Man Spent Two Decades Behind Bars. Now The Government Wants Him To Go Back. | Nashville Public Radio
    He was let out early by the Obama administration’s initiative to reduce the sentences of people in prison for crack, and by all accounts he is now a model citizen.
  12. Stash House Stings: When the Government Can Invent Crimes and Criminals | Cato @ Liberty
  13. Police Officers Should Be Trained in De-Escalation. It Works.
  14. A Pill to Make Exercise Obsolete | The New Yorker
  15. Are Soas students right to ‘decolonise’ their minds from western philosophers? | Education | The Guardian
  16. Yacob and Amo: Africa’s precursors to Locke, Hume and Kant | Aeon Essays
  17. Professors say they won’t advise students to work or study at U of Rochester
    Due to dissatisfaction with how Rochester’s administration protected a professor who was accused of sexual harassment by multiple graduate students and professors.
  18. How the discovery of extraterrestrial life would change morality | Aeon Essays
  19. Research suggests that increased pornography reduces rape – TUOC
    I think this is interesting. However, the argument that this research proves that porn reduces rape is treating correlation as causation. It could also be the case that the social changes that cause a society to decriminalize porn, also cause a reduction in rape.
  20. And after I wrote the above, I read this post in which a TUOC reader makes a similar argument (but better).
  21. ‘The Shed at Dulwich’ was London’s top-rated restaurant. Just one problem: It didn’t exist. – The Washington Post
  22. Proposed New Jersey Legislation Could Extend Voting Rights to Convicted Criminals | Observer
    If this becomes law, then NY will become the third state in which currently-incarcerated felons can vote (the other two are Maine and Vermont).
  23. Comment on “The Age of Outrage” by Jonathan Haidt – joftius – Medium
  24. Law Reviews reexamine prison gerrymandering case law | Prison Gerrymandering Project
  25. Wilfrid Laurier Exonerates Lindsay Shepherd, We Can All Move On Now – VICE
    What happened to Shepherd seems inexcusable – especially lying about student complaints when there had been none. Also, I don’t agree with the “move on now” message of the headline, exactly; this specific incident is being put to bed, but there are larger issues involved.
  26. Interesting graph of single motherhood rates and crime rates from Philip Cohen.
    The two trends, which once appeared to be moving in tandem, have seemingly diverged completely.

Posted in Link farms | 66 Comments  

Cartoon: What’s The Difference?

Transcript of cartoon:

A woman with glasses and a slightly frightened, anxious expression is in the foreground, speaking directly to the reader.

Behind her, on the left, are three angry student protestors, yelling stuff we don’t hear. A caption identifies them as “college students.”

Also behind her, on the right, are three wealthy-looking white men in suits – one of them is President Trump – who also look angry and are yelling things we don’t hear. A caption identifies them as “governors, senators, president.”

WOMAN: Both sides have scary radicals! So what’s the difference?

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 5 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Two-Face Was A Piker Edition

  1. “The hypocrisy is astounding”: this tax bill shows the GOP’s debt concerns were pure fraud
    In other news, ocean still wet.
  2. Can We Cut the Crap on the Debt from the Tax Bill Hurting Our Kids? | Beat the Press | Blogs | Publications | The Center for Economic and Policy Research
    The GOP tax bill is terrible – but the problem is not the effect of future debt on the children.
  3. GiveDirectly is launching their randomized control trial of long-term guaranteed basic income in Kenya. The Unit of Caring has gathered some highlights.
  4. Letting robots kill without human supervision could save lives | New Scientist
    You can’t read the whole article, because paywall, although you can read enough to get the gist of the argument.But honestly, I added this to the link farm because I just love the headline, about which someone on Twitter wrote “Was… was this written by killer robots?”

  5. What alarmist articles about transgender children get wrong.
    It’s not true that 80% – or anywhere near 80% – of transgender children either desist or detransition.
  6. Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation: A Guide for Understanding Transgender Children… | Julia Serano
  7. Prepubescent Transgender Children: What We Do and Do Not Know – Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
    Only the first page here. To read the whole article, email me and I can hook you up.
  8. When “desisters” aren’t: De-desistance in childhood and adolescent gender dysphoria | Gender Analysis

  9. ‘Lady Bird’ Star Laurie Metcalf Might Be the Best Actress Working Right Now
    I saw “Lady Bird”; the movie was wonderful – it did mostly the usual coming-of-age narrative moves, but it did them all so well – and Metcalf, as the main character’s mother, was astounding. (Metcalf is most famous for playing Jackie on “Roseanne.”)
  10. Speaking of Roseanne, one of my favorite TV shows ever, there’s going to be a tenth season next year, with Metcalf and the rest of the original cast (including John Goodman) returning to their old roles. I hope it’s good.
  11. The Rise of the Post-New Left Political Vocabulary | The Public Autonomy Project
    Long and (to me) interesting comparison of New Left and Social Justice Left jargon, asking why the vocabularies changed and if it matters.
  12. Obama won lots of votes from racially prejudiced whites (and some of them supported Trump) – The Washington Post
  13. Liberals Are Becoming Knee-Jerk Anti-Trumpists | New Republic
    “The left should be encouraging the president’s moderation on foreign policy rather than distorting the truth about alleged gaffes.” Article by Jeet Heer. (In context, I think “moderation” means not that Trump is a moderate, but that Trump has moderated his rhetoric and approach compared to his previous statements.)
  14. The Right Way, And The Wrong Way, To Measure the Benefits Of Tax Changes | Tax Policy Center
  15. Facing deportation, Lucio Perez is adapting to life in Amherst church sanctuary | masslive.com
  16. Here is a fantastic example of the difference between the male and female gaze. Patty Jenkins’ Amazon warriors on the left. Zack Snyder’s on the right.”
    I don’t think I agree with the terminology – perhaps I would call it a fantastic example of women as subjects vs objectification – actually, I’m not sure that’s right either – but whatever the terminology, it’s a striking comparison.
  17. The Zombie Fungus Takes Over Ants’ Bodies to Control Their Minds – The Atlantic
    Turns out the fungus is even creepier than previously thought. It’s like they plagiarized their ideas from “Get Out.”
  18. Sandy Hook Victim Noah Pozner’s Family Driven From Boca – The Forward
    Conspiracy theorists seem ridiculous, but they can (further) destroy people’s lives.
  19. How to stop sexism and raise a son who respects women.
  20. ZOA Rolled Out The Red Carpet For Steve Bannon — And It Backfired – The Forward
    The headline doesn’t really reflect the article. “Zionist Organization of America rolls out the red carpet for Steven Bannon, and this illustrates major divisions in the US Jewish community, and also Alan Dershowitz makes a cameo and is a jerk” would have been more accurate.
  21. A comic about every comment thread under any content involving a fat person existing. Ever.
    I’m jealous that I didn’t create this strip.
  22. An LAPD officer accidentally filmed himself putting cocaine in a suspect’s wallet – Vox
  23. Myths of the 1 Percent: What Puts People at the Top – The New York Times
    According to this economist, the answer isn’t trade, or information technology, or declining unions, or immigration. “Almost all of the growth in top American earners has come from just three economic sectors: professional services, finance and insurance, and health care, groups that tend to benefit from regulatory barriers that shelter them from competition.”
  24. Reflections of an Affirmative-Action Baby – The Atlantic
    The author, a white man, writes “the affirmative action I enjoyed, and the sexual harassment Sarah suffered, were connected. I was given extraordinary opportunity at TNR, in large measure, because talented women like Sarah Wildman were not.”
  25. Marvel takes on colonialism and white supremacy in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
    The movie is an anti-colonial fantasy disguised as a screwball comedy disguised as an action movie. I really enjoyed it.
  26. Detroit cops posing as drug dealers tried to arrest Detroit cops posing as drug buyers and then they all had a fistfight in the middle of the street. This would make an awesome movie.
  27. The Disappearing Right to Earn a Living
    Do we really need someone to be licensed to hook up a stereo? “In the 1950s, about one in 20 American workers needed an occupational license before they could work in the occupation of their choice. Today, that figure stands at about one in four.” This is an issue I agree with libertarians about.
  28. Hari Kondabolu’s The Problem with Apu attempts to shut down The Simpsons’ racist caricature for good – The Verge
  29. The Last of the Iron Lungs
    The reporter found and interviewed the (as far as they know) last three people still using iron lungs to survive. All three are polio survivors, and boy, do they not like anti-vaxxers.
  30. I love Yoshitoshi Kanemaki’s wood carvings. Check out Kanemaki’s Behance page, and be sure to look at the gallery for the statue at the top of this post, which includes multiple angles as well as making-of photos.
  31. The bottom image is by Alessandro Sicioldr, another wonderful artist with a tendency to go all multi-face. Check out his behance, too.

Posted in Link farms | 103 Comments  

Cartoon: If Global Warming Were Real

If you enjoy these comics, and you can spare it, please support them on Patreon. Even $1 matters a lot to me.

Transcript of cartoon

Panel 1
A white man wearing a collared shirt and glasses, sitting at a desk. He’s typing furiously on a laptop. In front of the desk, a dog watches him adoringly. Behind the desk, there are two windows; outside, it is dark and pouring rain, and the trees lean in the wind.

A caption tell us what he’s typing:

CAPTION: “Global warming” is FAKE NEWS! If global warming were real,

Panel 2
Glasses dude is looking out the window at the storm. Large objects – a boot, a coffee mug, a chair, a mailbox – fly by in the wind as the rain pours down.
GLASSES: Uh-oh! Not AGAIN! We’ve had so much extreme weather lately!

Panel 3
Glasses dude, now with a backpack and carrying a duffel bag, splashes through puddles as he walks away from his house, the dog following him.
GLASSES: This is AWFUL! Come along, Arf Rand!
ARF RAND: Arf!

Panel 4
A far shot of a car driving uphill through the storm. Glasses dude’s word balloon comes from the car.
GLASSES: Get upland get upland get upland get upland get upland…

Panel 5
High on a mountain, Glasses Dude has set up a tent. The sky is only partly cloudy here, and there’s no storm.
GLASSES: Phew! I think we’re safe here!
ARF RAND: Arf!

Panel 6
Glasses dude sits on the grass, next to Arf Rand, who is taking a snooze. Glasses dude is typing on his cell phone; a caption shows us what he’s typing.
CAPTION: As I was saying, if global warming WERE real, wouldn’t we see SOME sign of it?

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Environmental issues | Comments Off  

Giles Coren: Garbage Human, Fatphobe and, Horrifyingly, Father (Guest Post)

[This post is by Ragen Chastain, reprinted with her permission from Dances With Fat.]

Giles Coren writes a column for Esquire about fatherhood. His most recent piece is titled: “I Don’t Care What My Son Becomes… As Long As He Isn’t Overweight.” I thought I couldn’t be shocked by fatphobia anymore but I was wrong.

Before we get into his advocacy of child abuse and killing fat people, let’s take a look at his kid, who he calls “morbidly obese”

I’m going to take his letter and break it down. Please consider signing and sharing the petition to get this piece, and Giles’ column, pulled from Esquire UK. If you’d like to give Giles some feedback on his piece, you can find him on Twitter here . If you’re a dad, it would be particularly helpful if you would step it up and let him know that this is completely unacceptable, and let the world know that whatever the hell he’s doing, it’s not fatherhood.

I’d also like to be clear that this isn’t Giles first day as a human-shaped piece of garbage, having previously published a piece (also for his Esquire column) where he said it was ok if his daughter didn’t do well in school because she could just marry a banker.

Finally, the quotes from his piece will be indented. All are offensive, many cross the line into blatant, violent, hate speech, including discussion of burning. They may be extremely triggering. If you want to skip this post entirely, I don’t blame you. If you want to skip the quotes you will still get the gist of the post without reading all of his bigoted drivel.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re looking at that picture of my son and you’re thinking, “Fat little bastard”. Sure, he’s cute. He’s got a nice little face. He looks a bit of an idiot because his mum took him for a haircut on the morning of the photo shoot (completely failing to grasp the first rule of shoots which is, “never have a haircut closer than two weeks before, or you’re going to look like a chump”) but on the whole he is a good-looking boy.

Wrong right off the bat there Giles.  What I’m thinking is “Please, please, please don’t let this article be about a dad who is taking out his size bigotry on his four year old son.”

Except he’s fat. Arse on him like Vanessa Feltz and a full frontal presentation at bath time that puts one in mind of a Gavin and Stacey-era James Corden or a well-waxed Christopher Biggins, all giggly on too much rosé.

At this point (while I know full well that regardless of his kid’s size it’s wildly inappropriate for Giles to think of him this way, or to involve so many other people in his blatant size bias) I am compelled to look again at the picture. While it would be perfectly fine if his kid fit this description, he absolutely does not. I’m forced to assume that Giles wanted to splash around in a pool of fat hate and decided to facilitate that by pretending that his kid is fat. Regardless, there is no size his kid could be that would possibly justify fat-shaming him.

It’s all very well to say that it’s puppy fat. It’s all very well to pinch his cheeks and go, “Who’s a cheeky chubby-chops? Awww, wittle fatty boom-boom…” and nuzzle your face in his tummy and blow raspberries and feel how they ripple through him like a fart in the bath, but what if… IT DOESN’T GO AWAY?

If it doesn’t go away, then you will have a fat kid. If he doesn’t have a growth spurt, then you’ll have a short kid. The thing about kids growing up is that they grow up into adults of all kinds of shapes and sizes and none of that requires ALL CAPS HISTRIONICS because all bodies are good bodies.

You know what I’m saying? Adele’s parents probably thought it was puppy fat too. And Paul Hollywood’s. And Russell Grant’s. No doubt Diane Abbott’s family assumed that she would change shape when she was out of nappies. But the change never came.

Giles seems really, really angry that fat people are allowed to exist and he continues to try to involve as many of them as possible in his bigoted farce of an article.

It’s reasonable to assume that the parents took their eyes off the ball, let their porky pups feast on a shitty diet and do fuck-all exercise into adolescence and now look at them: ostensibly successful, yes, but laughable to behold with their untucked shirts and stretched, shiny faces.

It’s not reasonable – it’s fatphobia and stereotyping. People, including young people, come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reason. People of all sizes eat whatever Giles’ definition of a “shitty diet” is, and people of all sizes choose not to exercise. People’s choices and sizes are none of Giles’ business. People of all sizes wear untucked shirts and have shiny faces. Giles, needs to get ahold of himself, he has completely failed at keeping his blatant bigotry subtle while pretending that he cares about his son.

The sort of people you want to follow down the street playing “Flight of the Valkyries” on a tuba.

No dude, YOU want to follow them down the street playing the tuba because you are an absolute garbage human.  I continue to be absolutely stunned that Esquire would allow a piece that is nothing but hate speech to be published, especially under the guise of how to be a father.

And I’m worried as fuck that my little Sam could go the same way. Not only because of how it will ruin his life but because of how it will reflect on me.

I don’t give a single solitary fuck about Giles. I’m worried that Sam “could go the same way” because his father is a raving fatphobe who will undoubtedly do unimaginable damage to him every day until he can escape. (Pssst, Sam, find the Fat Acceptance Movement, a lot of us grew up with parents who were worse than useless as well, we’ve got your back!)

For while obesity as a demographic phenomenon can be classed as disease, epidemic, socio-economic tragedy, whatever, on an individual, case-by-case basis, each actual fat person is blatantly just a badly brought-up, greedy little son of a bitch committing the unforgivable sin of gluttony in a world where there is not enough food to go round.

Being fat doesn’t ruin your life. The thing that ruins your life is this kind of (fact-free) fatphobia. “Obesity” isn’t a disease, it’s not an epidemic, or a tragedy – it’s just a ratio of weight and height. Granted, a ratio onto which some people (many for profit, others for attention, others because they are simply bigots) have heaped tons of negativity.

Also be clear that there is plenty of food to go around. Hunger is a complex issue that has to do with things like capitalism, nationalism, racism and more. And even if it wasn’t indisputable fact that there are thin people who eat far more than fat people, it would still have literally NOTHING to do with fat people existing. This is just another way that people who want to be bigots try to justify their bigotry, and using people who are starving to do it is particularly despicable.

I’d kill them all and render them down for candles.

Let’s be absolutely clear what he is saying here.  He is saying that, given a chance, he would kill all fat people, then burn us. It’s not funny, it’s not cute, it’s a call for genocide. (People will immediately suggest that I’m going to far in saying this, those people are a part of the problem. “I’d kill them all” is not an unclear statement.) Anytime you say that everyone who shares a single characteristic should be killed, you are going down a very bad road. I would love to know the name of the editor at Esquire UK who read that sentence and said “Sure, kill all the fat and burn them, that’s totally reasonable. Leave that in.”) Here, again, is the link for their complaints section.

It may sound harsh but how else are we to recoup the tens of billions of pounds they cost the NHS and the wider economy each year with treatment needed, working days lost, hospital beds broken, chairs smashed to splinters and good workers accidentally killed when fat people sit on them?

Here Giles seems to be trying to make another wild stab at justifying his bigotry (won’t somebody please think of the tax dollars?!)  But he’s so overcome with his desire to say horrible things about fat people that he can’t even keep it together for a single paragraph.

It is no business of mine what Sam does with his life. I’m not ultimately bothered whether he’s rich or poor, artist or scientist, crackhead or alcoholic, married or unmarried, gay or straight… I don’t care if he runs every letter of the LGBTQI spectrum to the end and back, and comes home with a cock in every hole and says he’s changed his name to Rita. As long as he isn’t fat.

The first sentence may be the only correct and appropriate thing he says in the entire piece. The rest is obviously total bullshit. Now might be a good time to remember that someday, who knows how soon, Sam (who might end up being fat) will read this. The idea that he would be more upset if his son had a larger body that if he was addicted to crack is obviously incredibly troubling, but also troubling is – again – Giles’ tendency to feel free to use some marginalized groups in his quest to oppress fat people.  Here he uses people who struggle with addiction as well as queer and trans people showing that while he’s is definitely a fatphobe, he’s certainly not a single issue bigot.

My daughter I am less worried about. Possibly because she is as skinny as a cricket. But if at some point in adult life she pulls the ripcord, well, there are uses for a fat woman. She can be kind of cosy. Whereas a fat man has nothing to offer but his ability to consume. To bring forth upon the world a fat son is indeed a shame before God.

Not satisfied at simply inappropriately (some might say abusively) using his son for this ridiculous exercise, Giles brings his daughter into it and makes the transition to blatant and disgusting misogyny. Unfortunately he doesn’t even have enough new ideas to support the entire diatribe, so we’re back to the old “fat people eat a lot” crap. Even if this was true it would be a tired argument at this point but, again, it’s simply not.  And once again I’d remind you that his son will someday learn just how conditional his father’s love for him really is. So while I’m angry at Giles for being such a blatant and vocal bigot, I’m terrified for Sam growing up with an abusive, misogynist, fatphobe for a father, and I would support child services if they removed the kids from the home.

But it’s hard to know what to do about it. I’d put him on a strict diet and buy him a hamster wheel but my wife is not the moral absolutist that I am and she is the one who does the Ocado orders. And cooks most of the food. But is a bit of a lazy tart. Sorry — a busy working mother with many other important things to think about, who knows her way down the path of least resistance.

So Giles also doesn’t respect his wife. This is my not-surprised face. In good news, it looks like Sam may have one decent parent.

So the boy eats a lot of white carbs, sugary cereals, pizza, fried chicken… much like a poor child in America’s morbidly obese central heartlands. Which is why Sam looks like one of them. He doesn’t like fruit or veg and none of us can be arsed to force them down him. But he does like a tub of ice cream and a long run at the television of an afternoon. And on even the shortest car journey he expects his iPad and a sack of Kettle chips.

So he gets them. And I say, “Can’t you give him a carrot instead?”

And my wife says, “If you want him to eat carrots, you try feeding him a fucking carrot!”

So I let it go. And I feel ashamed. But then I see these middle-class kids with their weekday screen bans and their steamed fish and vegetables and no chocolate or sweeties and 10 hours’ oboe practice a day and it makes me want to puke. And I find that I’m kind of proud of our somewhat slutty stance on it all, or lack of one. Otherwise, I suppose, I wouldn’t be admitting to it here.

This is quite the juxtaposition of bigotry – marginalizing an entire swatch of America, middle-class kids, and those who play the oboe is not beginner level oppression. Giles is a piece of shit, but at least he’s good at it? Let’s be clear – giving kids (of all sizes) lots of food choices and helping them to develop a healthy relationship with food is a positive thing, giving kids food and then shaming them for eating it is just fucked up and is basically trying to give your kid an eating disorder.

I try to look on the positive side. Such as the possibility that having a fat adult son — who I will unquestionably continue to love with all my heart no matter what — might help me to lay aside my prejudices regarding fat people and bring me to a more respectful place vis-à-vis the fat and ever fatter future we unquestionably face as a race. And that being grotesquely flabby, sweaty, knock-kneed and impotent would mean that Sam was unlikely ever to have a girlfriend or any mates or be invited to parties, so he’d have more time to work at becoming a nuclear physicist or getting filthy rich and supporting me in my old age.

And then other times I think, “I’d best get the chubby fucker’s jaw wired before he’s old enough to stop me.”

Classic abuser technique. First he spends the entire article being clear that if his son is fat he would be perfectly happy to kill him and burn him, that he would rather he struggle with a drug addiction than be large, that he would consider him to be a “shame before god,” and that his son would (continue to) be the recipient of every piece of fatphobia with which Giles’ little essay is dripping. Then Giles does the whole “I still love you, maybe I can be better” rap. But, as we’ve learned, Giles can’t hold it together for long, so he throws in a few more stereotypes and then leaves a little reminder that he is capable of physical abuse.

My heart goes out to Sam, I hope that he can somehow escape this situation clinging to a  healthy relationships with food and his body, and I also hope that he can avoid becoming the super bigot that his father is modeling to him and anyone else who will read his work.

As far as Giles goes, I think we all know where he should go:

Move to Trash

Red box around a picture of a trash can with the text “Moved to Trash”

Final reminder to take some action here:

Sign (and share) the petition

File a complaint with Esquire UK
They will require the following info (you can copy and paste to avoid giving the article traffic.)

  • The piece is called “Man & Boy: Giles Coren “I Don’t Care What My Son Becomes… As Long As He Isn’t Overweight”
  • The link is http://www.esquire.co.uk/life/a18073/giles-coren-overweight-son/
  • The publication date is November 9, 2017

Here is the link for Giles Twitter.

Posted in Fat, fat and more fat | Comments Off  

Cartoon: Ghost of Rehnquist

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It seems like it happens every few weeks – a policeman shoots an unarmed civilian (more often than not a Black civilian) and then claims to have been in mortal terror.

Sometimes, of course, they really were terrified (police training can have the effect of making police feel like every encounter is likely to turn deadly at any moment). But every single time? But the truth is, the Supreme Court has set things up so that any police officer involved in a questionable shooting has an enormous incentive to claim mortal terror, no matter what the situation was.

(For a good discussion of this, read this Shaun King article.)

The reason the US has so many police shootings isn’t just, or primarily, bad cops. It’s a bad system – a system that makes police shootings, and the lack of accountability, pretty much inevitable. And any real solution will need to be systematic, too.

I don’t often do caricatures of real-life people, so it was interesting trying to convert Rehnquist (who was, for the record, very damned racist) into my adorable cartoon style. But honestly, when I look at the drawing in this cartoon, I see something that I hope won’t be a focus for my readers – I was experimenting with a new way of drawing shine in hair. I’m still using this method, but I think I’ve gotten a bit better at it since this strip.


Transcript

Panel 1
A young Black woman is in a park, wearing a striped sleeveless shirt and black pants, talking on her cell. She looks angry. Behind her, William Rehnquist appears with a big “Poof!” He’s wearing black judicial robes (which sort of trail off into nothing, rather than him having legs) and is smiling benevolently.
WOMAN: I can’t believe the jury let that cop off! What is it with these juries? Are they just racist?
REHNQUIST: Don’t blame the juries!

Panel 2
The woman turns around, jumping back in shock. Rehnquist continues speaking cheerfully.
WOMAN: Who are YOU?
REHNQUIST: I’m the ghost of William Rhenquist! I was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court until I died in 2005.

Panel 3
The woman listens, somewhat bewildered, as Rhenquist leans closer to explain.
REHNQUIST: When I was on the court, we ruled that it doesn’t matter if a suspect really was dangerous. If a cop says he believed the suspect was dangerous, any police shooting is legal.
(Footnote: See Tennessee v Garner & Graham v Connor.)

Panel 4
The woman calmly asks a question.
WOMAN: But doesn’t that give cops a huge incentive to say they thought hey were about to die no matter what the circumstances?
REHNQUIST: Clearly!

Panel 5
The woman now appears agitated, horrified. Rehnquist answers cheerfully, giving her a thumbs-up.
WOMAN: So even if a cop shoots a 9 year old kid, he just says he was terrified and he’s in the clear?
REHNQUIST: Now you’ve got it!

Panel 6
The woman yells angrily; Rehnquist, puzzled, shrugs.
WOMAN: So is the Supreme Court going to FIX that?
REHNQUIST: Er… Fix what?

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Contemporary Racism, cops, Institutionalized Racism, police brutality, Race, racism and related issues | Comments Off