Thursday, June 30, 2011

Censorship of Faith Makes Me Mad, But Idiot News Bloggers Make Me FURIOUS

The reason I really, really, really hate American-based current events bloggers is that most of them go in with a pre-defined agenda and, by playing their commentary into the agenda, basically degenerate current events into a cookie and a story before bedtime for true believers. That's why I try not to do that here, and stick with the light, fluffy crap that makes us all stupider as a nation, regardless of political affiliation. However, the way these baby pundits are covering the controversy at the Houston (TX) Veterans Administration Cemetery shows what happens when somebody decides to "tell you what it all means" without a firm understanding of what actually happened in the first place.

First, the story as I understand it (from the Houston Chronicle): The local chapters of three organizations--the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion and the National Memorial Ladies--are accusing Arleen Ocasio, director of the Houston National Cemetery, of creating an atmosphere of "religious hostility" by banning those organizations from using the words "God" and "Jesus," censoring the content of prayers, and forbidding religious messages in burial rituals "unless the deceased's family submitted the text for prior approval. In the text of the complaint which is currently in court--while Ocasio is on vacation, oddly enough--the accusations continue: "The doors remain locked during Houston National Cemetery operating hours, the cross and the Bible have been removed, and the Chapel bells, which tolled at least twice a day, are now inoperative. Director Ocasio only unlocks the chapel doors when meetings or training sessions are held at the building. Furthermore, it is no longer called a 'chapel' but a 'meeting facility.'" As this was all done by a director under the employ of the VA, the result is a federal lawsuit.

To top that off, the VA has allegedly been investigating these claims for a month, but when Judge Lynn Hughes asked VA attorney Fred Hinrichs a simple question like "Is the chapel actually open?", he was unable to answer.

If these accusations hold water, there's a lot to be angry about, first of all because the charges imply that this Ocasio jerk apparently believes family wishes (and faith (or not)) don't figure into plans for vets' funerals. She obviously doesn't "get" what the word "chapel" means or what a prayer is, and the VA's conduct doesn't exactly shine like a fresh penny, either. But it seems like the crux of this complaint is a supervisor overstepping her bounds and being an insensitive jerk about matters of faith at a time in people's lives where they need whatever they can get. Still, this is not only about stupidity, but stupidity coming from someone on the government payroll, so there's plenty of lumps to go around at the federal level.

That's my take away, and it took all of thirty seconds on Google to find the source. Now, let's pick a random "news blogger" (full disclosure: never heard of them, not going to bother to get acquainted) and see what they have to say: "Another craven example of the left's war on America. We are not godless." Then an assumption that they'd probably give Allah a free pass based on absolutely nothing but a phone call that says the VA doesn't comment on ongoing litigation and pre-determined biases, and of course, the snotty denigration of just the concept American Muslim soldiers. Finally, the post quotes (in its entirety) another blogger's summary of the Chronicle article, rather than actually going back to the original source herself.

A quick scan of the (ugh) blogosphere shows that the same people who fight the phony War on Christmas are already building this into the tip of a government conspiracy against people of faith. One headline states, as bluntly as a fart, "God banned from funerals for war vets under Obama VA's orders," with absolutely no indication in any legitimate source that this was an official policy or whether (as I suspect, but it's just my opinion) Ocasio was acting on her own stupid initiative, just the implicit understanding that anything that includes "government" and "religion" is a top-down decision 100% of the time, forever and ever amen. In other words, at some point in the chain a collection of Internet idiots started making up details based on nothing.

This is what some people have pretended is the new paradigm of citizen journalism. I call it "playing telephone on the Internet." Before you write that comment claiming that I'm part of the conspiracy, it's worth noting that pre-processed, unexamined assumptions are a non-partisan symptom of enraged ideologues of all political persuasions. Since this is a partisan example someday I might get around to "balancing the scales", but there's no way in hell that I'm going out of my way to track down an example of an unwarranted leftist blog freakout today. When I want the news, I read the damn news. Not a blog. And neither should you. For that matter, why are you still here? Go read the newspaper.

The moral of this story: A scientist can see a drop of water and figure out the existence of Niagra Falls, but a news blogger sees a drop of water and cooks up a theory about how George Soros/Rupert Murdoch/the Trilateral Commission is trying to destroy us with millions of drops of evil, evil water. But really, why the hell should you listen to me? I'm just some guy you've never heard of.

And that's my "my country is losing its mind" post for the month. Don't panic, I'll be back to trivial crap by the weekend.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Fish, A Barrel, and That Other Thing You May Have Heard Of

One of the anniversaries that wasn't marked here while I was off in Eeyore's Gloomy Place or whatever: ten years ago on June 8th, announced it was going fishing and never came back, leaving a generation of bastard web children to grow up wondering who their dad was. Then would've been as good a time as any to link to Matt Sharkey's thorough history of the site from 2005 (which does a very good job at reminding us why a single 200 pixel column of low-bandwidth snark was revolutionary in 1995), but doing it in something resembling a timely manner would've actually required making a proper effort.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Intermission Is Almost Over...

...and then we can get back to our mystery movies and other nonsense. The snack bar is still open, or if you don't have one of those, you're stuck with your refrigerator.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Okay, what were we doing again?

Ya tell a guy the world's ending, and pretty soon he's blown a whole month hanging billboards and handing out flyers. Go figure. As for what happened to those other weeks, well, OOO LOOK SHINY RED BALL! GO GET IT BOY! GO GET IT!

Oh, since I've declared this "Rebecca Black Action Center", we might as well get this out of the way. The full version rolls out June 14th on Funny Or Die, with a cameo from America's favorite YouTube baffler.

I haven't forgotten about the mystery movies, either. That's a thing that is still going to happen.