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DAHOF: South Dakota Rep. Michael Clark

Not every selection for the Dumb Ass Hall Of Fame is an idiot, dotard, or buffoon. Some, like this week’s honoree, are just brain-numbed by hate and ignorance.

America In Decline, From Facebook.
Bigoted SD Rep. Michael Clark doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near the tribute to these great leaders.

The morality of the nation crumbles around us, hurtling toward a precipice of as-yet-unimaginable depth, spurred by the pubescent leadership of our President, the jibbering sycophants who surround him, and the spineless cowards of the Senate and Congress, most of whom are more than intelligent enough to see what this man is, but refuse to act for reasons both partisan and personal. I awake each morning, take my pills, and empty my bladder beneath a cloud of dread: what terrible things have transpired since the day before. What has the skulking boy king said, what has he done or, most often, what excremental feats of churlish impertinence have the lunks and sneering bounders emboldened by his example been up to?

Another cop killing an unarmed black man? Running him down with a patrol car? Shooting him seven or eight times in the back? Gunning him down for closing a door–a fragile blue ego more important than a warrant and the Fourth Amendment? Or maybe another ally insulted? Another adversary provoked? Another treaty broken? Another bold faced lie maintained in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Another denial of that lie, despite video?

Given all of this and so much more, I am barely surprised to hear that South Dakota stateScreenshot(1) Representative Michael Clark tried to press the argument, that businesses should be allowed to turn down people based on the color of their skin. As my dad used to say, “I shit you not.”

In a heady stupor of exclusionist victory dancing following the Supreme Court ruling in favor of a homophobic Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs, Clark boasted on Facebook that the decision was a “win for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.” Other FB users called him on his gleeful embrace of bigotry, and the intrepid lawmaker doubled down.

“It is his business,” Clark wrote in a comment. “He should have the opportunity to run his business the way he wants. If he wants to turn away people of color, then [that’s] his choice.”

We’ve seen this mindset before. On buses in Tennessee. In schools in Arkansas. At lunch civil-rightscounters in Alabama.

It is modestly affirming that a furor quickly built, on Facebook and among the general public and first regional, then national news organizations began covering the incident. At first he tried to frame his bigotry as standard anti-government rhetoric, asserting that  business owners only need serve certain segments of society and that the market would ultimately determine if the business succeeded or failed. The negative comments and press coverage built up, as some of reminded this attorney and elected lawmaker of a not-so-irrelevant document called The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Predictably, the heat was too much for tough cowboy Clark, who ultimately deleted the post on Tuesday. He said he had “jumped in on it a little bit too fast,” the Argus-Leader reported.

ScreenshotNot long  after, he apologized via email to a reporter for the Leader, followed by a glib, insincere retraction on Facebook. “I am apologizing for some of my Facebook comments. “I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their color or race.”

But in an interview with the Argus-Leader, Clark said he believed that business owners should be able to turn away certain customers if they would otherwise violate their religious beliefs. “If it’s truly his strongly based belief, he should be able to turn them away,” Clark told the Leader. “People shouldn’t be able to use their minority status to bully a business. The vote of the dollar is very strong,” he said.

I’m still parsing which is more disgusting, the unapologetic awfulness of the President and his Trumpkins, or these slimy, cynical clones who imitate his success playing to the lowest common denominators, shouting whatever vile and hateful bile they happen to indexbe regurgitating at any particular moment? It is a tough contest indeed. Trump is culpable for setting the tone, but they’re all playing the same game: vomit out sinful rhetoric to the bleating masses and keep pressing–then either deny it completely and blame the press for making it up, or mutter a dishonest, heartless apology rife with crocodile tears and move on. “I didn’t say that. But if you have tape that shows I did, then I certainly didn’t mean it.”

Well,  Mr. Clark, we’re not buying what you’re selling. You don’t get to worm and squirm out of it with a cynical “I’m sorry,” so take ownership for the man you’ve become. Burn a cross, beat a gay man–be your honest self. Your soul is already exposed before your neighbors, your friends, and especially your God.

It is easy to say, “I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their 1963-derechos-civilescolor or race” but the simple fact is that yes, you would, because yes, you did. It’s not like we haven’t seen your kind before.

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Dumb Ass Hall of Fame: Sheriff Craig Rowland

This far into an election year, it is more than past time to revive the old “Dumb Ass Hall of Fame” feature. Why have I waited so long?  I’ve been busy with a lot of non-blog related work, for one thing. Then, given that the early election cycle was clogged up by foaming mouth idiots like Rick Santorum and the other 15 or so candidates that were jammed into the Republican Clown Car, followed by a month of “douchebags on the range” out at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (I’ve been there, by the way–it’s nice, you should go once all the piles of shit those guys left around are cleaned up), I was quite literally overwhelmed by idiocy. Time to get back on the horse–indeed, there is actually, at present, a backlog of of Dumb Asses waiting for enshrinement.

sheriff-craig-rowlandOur newest inductee is Bingham County (Idaho) County Sheriff Craig Rowland who, in response to a new piece of state legislation that creates a “a statewide system for collecting and tracking DNA evidence of sexual assault,” ranted that it was unnecessary for a statewide system because most rapes are false reports.

“I really believe the Legislature needs to take a strong look at allowing law enforcement to do their job and not try to dictate what we need to do. I think they’re trying to help, I really do,” Rowland said, in a televised interview, adding, “They need to let us decide if we’re going to send the kit and when we send the kits in. Because the majority of our rapes— not to say that we don’t have rapes, we do—but the majority of our rapes that are called in, are actually consensual sex. “

Where the hell do I start with this one?  Oh, how about the absolutely chilling effect this must have on victims of sexual assault not just in Bingham County, but anywhere? Victims of sexual assault stay quiet for numerous reasons, among them fear of their attacker coming after them again, in retribution, and fear of not being believed–and Rowland has just shown that those outcomes are entirely possible. A woman has to be thinking, “if I go and make a statement, and they don’t believe me, will the attacker be waiting for me when I go home?”

The new law mandates that all alleged rapes will be tested, and all kits will be submitted, while under the current system law enforcement agencies have the right to determine the necessity for a kit and, by extension, the validity of the assusations–without actually processing any evidence.  It’s simple to imagine all the stereotypes of powerful and/or connected alleged perpetrators benefiting from their status at the expense of less influential victims. And these hypothetical attackers wouldn’t necessarily be big shots. If I’m a cop, it is quite likely I’d give a benefit of a doubt to my cousin’s step son, or maybe the guy from my bowling team, or my preacher, or another cop.  Under the current system, I don’t have to do a rape kit–I can just say, “this allegation isn’t believable,” mark the sexual encounter (if I even accept that it happened) as consensual, and send everyone on their way. If the bill passes, the cops will be required to send the process and sent the kit.

Now, forget for just a moment about the effects on the victim, or about the fact that potential attackers who hear his words are likely to be emboldened by them, and think for a minute about a Sheriff who, in these days of police video scandals, is actually stupid enough to look into a camera and say, “most rape victims are lying about it.” He’s not exactly winning the self-awareness competition, is he? Even if he had data on his side, the guy has to be an utter idiot to not consider the attention he would get.  And yet he is The Law. Go figure.

Of course, after a world of media attention rained down on Rowland, he went back to television, briefly blamed the station for misrepresenting his words, then offered up a boilerplate apology in which he admits that his words were misinterpreted–note the passive voice–then complains that since the initial interview he and his family have been threatened and cyber-bullied.  Or so he says. In my opinion, most incidents of Dumb Ass Sheriffs alleging bullying are not true.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/state/idaho/article66150892.html#storylink=cpy

 

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Dumb Ass Hall of Fame: Charles Cotton

“Charles Cotton says exactly what you’d expect, yet the speed and heartlessness of it is still startling.” –Esquire Magazine.
cottonIt seemed fitting to revive my old “Dumb Ass Hall of Fame” feature from the early days of this blog, after NRA Board Member and Texas (of course) Attorney Charles Cotton pretty much forced me to do so.

It was Cotton who, in the hours following South Carolina white supremacist Dylann Roof’s execution murders of 9 worshipers at a bible study in the historic  Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, proclaimed that the deaths were not the fault of the twist gunman, but of one of the victims.  In Cotton’s view, the late South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney was responsible for both his own murder but also of that of his eight companions.

“[Pinckney] voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

I don’t have a problem with guns–but I think, if you’re like the guy in line at the Dairy Queen two weeks ago with the big chrome Colt holstered on your waist, you probably need way more attention than your mommy ever gave you at home.  I do have a problem with the NRA–a gun manufacturer’s lobby that pretends to be a populist organization, the ultimate goal of which is to sell more products.  The NRA seeds fear, contempt, hysteria and resentment as a way to galvanize it’s supporters, despite that fact that while the future availability of certain weapons has been greatly reduced, no government–conservative, liberal, or whatever–in the recent history of the USA had made even the slightest move to take guns from law abiding citizens.

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D.A.H.O.F. Enshrines Kevin Sorbo

<> at Grimaldi Forum on June 9, 2011 in Monaco, Monaco.Hercules was half god.  Kevin Sorbo, the actor who famously played him for years on syndicated television, is not half god–he’s half mortal.  The rest is all dumb ass, and in recognition for this he is the latest candidate to earn a place in the storied Dumb Ass Hall of Fame.

A vocal self-proclaimed conservative, Sorbo is a regular contributor to right-leaning internet publications, but has never been known for the sort of breathless anger and disregard for fact that characterizes most opportunistic wingnut commentators.  He passed as rational, if somewhat misguided, until recently.

In response to the riots which followed the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a police officer, and the subsequent efforts by police and local government to distract and evade demands for accountability, Sorbo fell into a very typically racist rebuttal, describing the protestors as something less than human, and less worthy of justice:

“Ferguson riots have very little to do with the shooting of the young man. It is an excuse to be the losers these animals truly are. It is a tipping point to frustration built up over years of not trying, but blaming everyone else, The Man, for their failures. It’s always someone else’s fault when you give up.”

Losers. And animals.

Then he blames the press. ”Want the riots to end in Ferguson? Ban the media who are nothing more than agitators promoting the circus environment and inciting outsiders to join in the frenzy” 

When the story quickly went viral, Sorbo cowardly pulled his comments from his facebook page and offered up a half-assed mea culpa that wasn’t so much an apology, but a ‘what I meant to say was….” clarification in which he still managed to be an dumb ass.

“Okay….I stand humiliated and humbled. My most sincere apologies for my post on the events in Ferguson. I posted out of frustration and anger over the violence and looting. My words were never meant to hurt the African-American community. My use of the word “losers’ was directed at those doing the looting and vandalising and violence toward others. Anyone who does that is a loser in my book. So I will not apologise to those who are looting stores and vandalising there own community. I am very sorry for the police shooting. To answer violence with violence is not the answer here. Real leaders need to emerge out of that community to deal with the problems with the excessive use of police force. I agree with you that the police action has only added to the reaction of the residents of Ferguson. Yes. I am an idiot and do hold myself accountable for the way my post came off.”

Too late, Kevin. Apologies made while in disaster control mode don’t count.

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D.A.H.O.F. Clarke Woodger, Nomen Global Language Institute

Tim Torkildson, a social media specialist and English as a Second Language teacher at Utah’s Nomen Global Language Center wrote what he thought was a typicially innocuous blog entry a few weeks back on the subjects of homophones–which we called homonyms when I was in school.  If you remember elementary school, homophones are those pesky and confusing words that sound the same but mean very different things, like “do” and “due” or “mary,” “merry,” and “marry” just to name a few.  For students learning English, particularly ESL students, homophones pose a significant obstacle to comprehension.

Imagine Torkildson’s surprise, then, to find himself fired by Dumb Ass Hall of Fame Nominee and Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, who asserted, “now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.”

What?

Cursory research suggests this story is not a hoax, though it sure sounds like one. Although Nomen has removed the “controversial” (giggle, giggle) post, it is still available on Google Cache. See what all the fuss is about

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:kvBQPW_wGYEJ:nomenglobaltoday.blogspot.com/2014/07/help-with-homophones-1.html

That’s right, Woodger was worried that people would think that his school supported homosexuality.  “I had to look up the word” Woodger said, according to Torkildson’s account on his personal blog, “because I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about. We don’t teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it’s extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I’ll have your check ready.”

As with the best of this kind of stuff, it’s too funny–in a really sad, embarrassing-for-all-us way–to be made up. Sort of just makes me want to say “look at us, world, this is America, aren’t we great?”  Sigh.

http://gawker.com/language-school-blogger-fired-for-writing-about-homopho-1613916147
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/31/blogger-fired-homophones_n_5637873.html
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/58236366-90/says-english-homophones-language.html.csp