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McGraw-Hill History Textbook Calls Slaves “Workers”: The Problem With Re-Writing History

October 6, 2015

Textbook publisher McGraw-Hill has published a Facebook response about its characterization of African slaves as merely workers under the category of “not too sorry” when toning down the concept of America’s history in slave trade. When a student’s mother noticed a history textbook calling slaves “agricultural workers,” she posted about the misleading statement online, and she garnered such a large response that McGraw-Hill says they will change the wording of their textbook–they just won’t say when.

When the mother posted a video detailing the textbook’s issues, McGraw-Hill issued an apology:

On Thursday, Dean-Burren posted a video showing the textbook pages, highlighting a section that describes English and European people who came to the U.S. to work as indentured servants, explaining that they worked “for little or no pay.” Dean-Burren continues, “They say that about English and European people, but there is no mention of Africans working as slaves or being slaves. It just says we were workers.”

Along with the video, which has been shared more than 45,000 times and received more than 9,000 likes, Dean-Burren wrote: “Erasure is real y’all!!! Teacher your children the truth!!!”

But is an apology enough for publishing inaccurate information as factual evidence? Where is the accountability for textbook publishers? How many more children will be “taught” that African slaves were merely agricultural “workers”?

Funnily enough, McGraw-Hill says that calling slaves “workers” meets “learning objectives.” Whose, I wonder? Whose learning objectives are met when history is misrepresented?

“This program addresses slavery in the world in several lessons and meets the learning objectives of the course. However, we conducted a close review of the content and agree that our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves. We believe we can do better. To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor. These changes will be reflected in the digital version of the program immediately and will be included in the program’s next print run.”

When is the next print run? Glad to see that “learning objectives” take a second to financial objectives for McGraw-Hill. McGraw-Hill’s claims for validity just took a nosedive with that one.

Insurance Companies “Don’t Protect You From Anything”: Truth In Insurance Advertising

September 29, 2015

This ad strikes a chord with many Americans, the fact that insurance doesn’t really provide any benefit:

Insurance companies don’t actually do anything; their main business is to work on fear and the idea that something tragic could happen, but payouts for those tragedies, well, the only way the insurance companies make money is if they take your money and DON’T pay out. So, really, who is honest in insurance advertising?

ESPN Publishes “Ole Miss Girls Are Easy…” Sign to Backlash–ESPN Wins Asshole of the Week Award

September 23, 2015

I love it when people say something totally derogatory, particularly toward women, minorities, or people who are marginalized and qualify their right to do so as merely “joking,” as did ESPN when they published a photo of a man holding a sign saying Ole Miss girls were “easy.” There are so many things wrong with this situation: that ESPN thinks that it’s acceptable to make jokes about calling women from Mississippi “girls” and insinuate they are nothing more than sexual conquests to serve the pleasure of men, that ESPN first defended the publishing the photo of the sign as something grossly inaccurate like “game day flavor” (as in sexual harassment flavor?), that a sign regarding holding women as sexual conquests is directed toward “girls” or perhaps girls too young to consent casting shades of rape toward underage girls by male football fans, and really, need I go on?

Okay, so ESPN said “sights and sound” instead of flavor, but the sights and sounds of perpetuating sex crimes?

ESPN initially defended its use of the photo. In a statement Saturday, spokeswoman Keri Potts said the Twitter account “looks to bring the sights and sounds of the College GameDay experience” to viewers at home by showing how fans at the games “express themselves.”

The problem with standing by people who make hate statements and defending that as “expressing themselves” is that condoning sexual hatred is still perpetuating a message of hate and will undoubtedly turn people off. Kudos go to the commentators who instantly derided the publication of the photo even if their boss wasn’t on board right away:

Anchor Rece Davis and analyst Kirk Herbstreit rebuked the image when it flashed on the screen during the broadcast.

“I can’t condone that type of behavior,” Davis said.

“That is unacceptable,” Herbstreit said.

Perhaps we should go back to the message to Kim Davis message that women aren’t sold for marriage anymore? Or that calling women easy makes them a trophy? (Target misogyny anyone?)

When a woman commented that this type of portrayal of women was inappropriate, she was heckled for “not being able to take a joke.”

“The idea was never to stifle free speech or deny a young guy his right to make a bad joke, but to hold the world’s largest purveyor of sports entertainment and journalism to some kind of standard,” she told CNN.

“Women already have a hard time in sports — we are bombarded with messages that unless we are sexualized, we are not relevant and could not possibly be knowledgeable in this realm. So when ESPN shares something degrading to women with several million of its social media followers, it’s an implicit endorsement,” she said.

After speaking out, Wright became a target of criticism, name-calling and worse from fans who said the sign was a harmless joke.

Since when is rape a joke? Since when is illegal behavior (sex without consent from underage girls) a joke? Or a “joke” that people defend? Since when is advocating a hate crime a type of joke?

ESPN pulled an NFL bit: they said they would “take a closer look” at condoning crimes against women in the future, when they already saw the footage of condoning using women to serve men, approved it, defended it, and then only upon public outcry have said they won’t do it again in the future. Culture of sports hostile to women for lunch today?

ESPN wins the Asshole of the Week Award for perpetuating hate crimes against women and then defending it.


You Can’t Sell Your Daughter For Three Goats And A Cow: Redefined Marriage

September 14, 2015

Kim Davis Is Removed From Marriage License Forms: Gay Couples Got Married In Rowan County KY

September 9, 2015

In a bit of a genius move, the judge that sentenced Kim Davis to jail for refusing to follow Supreme Court mandates, chose a long weekend to incarcerate Kim Davis for also defying the local federal court’s order that Rowan County must comply with the Federal Supreme Court’s decision to allow gay couples to get married. Kim Davis was released, and since she is an elected official that can’t be removed from office, Rowan County simply removed Kim Davis’s name from marriage license forms and allowed deputy clerks to sign the marriage licenses.

Kim Davis attorneys have said the marriage licenses aren’t legal because her name isn’t on them, while other experts claim that since deputy clerks are allowed to issue licenses, the licenses are legal, period.

Under state law, deputy clerks may issue licenses and perform other duties just as elected clerks can, said Allison Connelly, director of the University of Kentucky’s Legal Clinic. “I think that that’s really immaterial,” Connelly said of Davis’ name not appearing on the licenses.

Kim Davis may have just jailed herself out of relevance. Why have a clerk causing trouble when it’s so easy to just sidestep her religious side show? The law doesn’t say that ONLY an elected clerk may sign a license, so if deputy clerks can issue a license, then the elected clerk can do her job, or not, as the elected populace allows.



Kim Davis Released And The World Mourns Or At Least I Do

September 8, 2015

I was so happy when Kim Davis was sent to jail, and now I am sad that she has been released so soon. While the religious right, namely Huckabee, is claiming that the federal judiciary overreacted (gasp, by sending a government employee to jail for repeatedly defying a court order to uphold the law), the rest of the population, even a nincompoop like New Jersey Christ Christie has responded with a scathing retort of exhorting people like Kim Davis to just “do their job” sort of thing:

Earlier Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Davis should be given another government job, because those licenses “have to be issued” under the law.

“People have a right to practice their religion,” Christie said on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning. “Now, I’ve said what I would do with this woman is to move her to another job where this is not an objection for her. Because you have to follow the law — and the law has to be these licenses have to be issued.”

People, if Chris Christie understands these things, and I don’t grant that he understands much, then it should be easy enough for a simpleton to follow.

From the Federal Court’s side, the argument for releasing Kim Davis is that the office is issuing marriage licenses, so why keep Kimmie in jail?

“After remanding Defendant Davis to the custody of the U.S. Marshal, five of her six deputy clerks stated under oath that they would comply with the Court’s Order and issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”  Davis “shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”

Why, indeed, when an officer of the law defies it? But the Federal judge who put her in jail just doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind about why a government employee would go to jail for refusing to uphold the law, and the explanation according to Gannam, Kim Davis’s attorney, makes her release sound like a gloat-fest, saying she “never changed her mind.”

Huckabee makes one qualification too many in stating that Davis is a Christain AND follows the law, because the whole reason Davis went to jail was for NOT following the law, but I don’t think most people believe Huckabee tells the truth anyway. HIs comment is verging on a “nah, nah, boo, boo” bit of propaganda:

“God showed up in the form of an elected official: Kim Davis,” Huckabee said. “Today I was proud to stand with Kim Davis as she was released from jail. Kim Davis should have never been locked up for being a Christian and for following her conscience and the law.

That last “and” shouldn’t be there, but apparently no one pays attention to the fact that Kim Davis willingly broke the law and then cried about the consequence.


Kim Davis Goes To Jail: Defiant Clerk Won’t Honor Her Oath to Uphold the Law and Hits the Slammer

September 8, 2015

I am happy Kim Davis is going to jail. Using religion to justify not doing a job for which you have been elected can’t be an excuse that supports any legal society, lest we become enshrined in a religious system of law like Sharia or Halal, or any other form of religious law. Beyond that issue, though, Kim Davis took an oath to perform her job, and then she complained that her oath of service to the government conflicted with her oath of service to her religion. Kim Davis purports to be the victim, but in all reality, she took an oath to follow the laws set by the United States government, despite her own personal beliefs and then states that her personal oath of service to God interferes with her oath of service she took to abide by laws set by the government. Funny how that works, those conflicting oaths.

One might believe that if the oath to religion is the stronger of the two oaths taken, then if the job duties conflict, the oath taker might quit the offending job, but instead, Kim Davis forced her belief system about God onto those who entered her office, saying her oath to God was more important than her oath to obey the laws set by the government. Kim Davis, finding herself in such purported moral conflict should rightfully choose her oath to her religion as one that supersedes others and be allowed to do that, but she also rightfully should not be allowed to just deny the oath she took to uphold the law because she believes she is exempt from it.

Kim Davis is no victim: she is a manipulator. She is an oath-breaker.

News outlets quote how many other clerks agree with Kim Davis, or disagree, as though there is a safety in numbers, but that kind of portrayal denies the very real fact that a government office can’t be used as a pulpit, particularly when that pulpit conflicts with US law.

Davis has become a symbol of religiously motivated disobedience after the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in June — she’s said she is acting under “God’s authority” when she repeatedly turns gay couples away. But Davis is very much alone in her defiance. The refusal of other clerks to marry same-sex couples largely melted away as it became obvious their legal claims would not hold up in federal court. Only 13 counties in Alabama and two counties in Kentucky are refusing marriage licenses to gay couples, according to the gay rights group Freedom to Marry. Despite many loud proclamations of defiance after the ruling, the vast majority of counties have accepted the law.

Notice how the above quote from the Yahoo news site talks about how many other people have accepted the law? Notice how there is no mention of the oath that government employees take to uphold the law, that maybe what those people have come to understand is that they took an oath to uphold the law when they took office, not to openly subvert the law according to their own religious beliefs? We are a diverse country of religious beliefs, and most people understand that by their very diversity they can not present a united law by which we all must abide, and so there is a separation of the church and the state.

Other counties are allowing clerks to “opt out” of their job responsibilities if they feel that they contradict their religious belief system, again refusing to have the discussion that these clerks took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not their own diverse religious oaths. Lest you wonder about the oath taken for office, consider that this is the oath that Kim Davis took:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability, the office of ——————— according to law; and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God.”

Notice there is nothing in this oath about breaking this oath in order to support one’s own belief, nor is there any evidence that Kim Davis can legally impose her belief system upon constituents.

Kim Davis took an oath to uphold the law, not to subvert it.

The issue here is that Davis’s reason for not issuing a marriage license shouldn’t matter–she has been required to comply with Federal laws she swore to uphold and has refused to do so. In a comparison to the infamous case of Loving v. Virginia, which held that barring interracial marriage was unconstitutional, the courts have sine held in United States v. Brittain that rationale behind refusing to obey the law isn’t an excuse to defy a federal judge’s order:

In theory, the Loving ruling meant all anti-miscegenation laws in the United States were invalidated. At the time, more than a dozen states had such laws on the books. But three years later, when Sgt. Louis Voyer (who was white) and Phyllis Bett (who was black) tried to get married in Alabama, they were refused a license by Probate Judge C. Clyde Brittain, on the basis that Alabama law would have made such a license criminal. In fact, Alabama law still made Voyer and Bett’s coupledom criminal in itself, and the Alabama constitution actively barred state lawmakers from legalizing marriage between “any white person and a Negro, or descendant of a Negro.”

In the resulting 1970 case United States v. Brittain, the district court ruling was extremely straightforward: there was no question that the Alabama laws in question were unconstitutional and that Voyer and Bett had the right to marry. The court even held that it didn’t matter if there were some other justification for not allowing them to do so—for example, if the bride did not properly provide proof of residence—because it was so obvious that the real motivation was racial. (This point is perhaps relevant today, as the Kentucky clerk in question has worked around the Obergefell ruling by refusing to grant all marriage licenses—but she has made no secret that her motivation is related to the question of her beliefs about marriage equality.)

Kim Davis didn’t take an oath to only obey those laws with which she personally agreed as a representative of the government; she took an oath to uphold the laws issued by the government, and her personal value system never entered into the oath structure. So where does agreement with a law have any valid meaning for obeying the law? Personal belief arguments aren’t allowed as a defense for being able to run a stop sign, ignore the law to buckle the seatbelt or to pay taxes, so there should be no personal exemption from federal issues for Kim Davis.



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