#NOTALLTREKKIES

Please note: this post is based only on people I have personally interacted with online, and even among that limited sampling of people, there are exceptions to the phenomenon jokingly talked about in this post. So don’t nobody get upset or nothing, I am just kidding around.

There is — believe it or not — a long-standing dispute among sci-fi fans regarding whether Star Wars or Star Trek is the better franchise.

Up until recently, I considered myself to be wholly in the “Star Wars is better” camp, even though I fully acknowledge that Star Wars (original trilogy, prequels, new movies, and all the assorted “Star Wars Universe” stuff, which I don’t know a lot about) is just as much “fantasy” as it is “sci-fi.”

I have to claim ignorance in making such an uninformed choice: up until just recently — as in like up until a month or so ago — I had never really watched much Star Trek. And I saw most of one of the movies (the Kirk and Spock movies, I don’t remember which one) a while back, and I liked it, and BBC America plays “Star Trek: The Next Generation” reruns quite often…

And even though there are certain aspects of the show that, like Star Wars, lean out of “sci-fi” territory and into “fantasy” territory, the vast majority of what I have seen of Star Trek is based much more in actual science than Star Wars.

So, in conclusion, I guess if someone were to put a blaster or a phaser or whatever to my head and demand that I declare which franchise I prefer, simply for sentimental reasons, I would still pick Star Wars.

But seeing as how that situation is not likely to ever occur, I would like to state that I now like both franchises quite a lot, and that my preference for Star Wars, to repeat, is mostly sentimental.

But one thing bugs me: there are die-hard Trekkies out there who are also pretty hardcore “anti-PC” people. I find this interesting because these people attempt to denigrate “pro-PC” people using “science.”

The greater prevalence of science (please note the lack of quotation marks) in Star Trek is also, often, why these anti-PC people prefer Star Trek.

What’s interesting to me is that in my viewing of perhaps ten or so episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” — I look forward to viewing many more episodes, for the record — I have noticed something very interesting:

The crew of the Enterprise all use PC language. Nobody gives Worf shit about his being a Klingon, at least not in the episodes I have seen. There are humans of all different skin colors on the Enterprise, and nobody goes around using racial slurs.

As a matter of fact, one episode I saw recently was about how an extinct humanoid race from many thousands of years ago left a computer program or something encoded in the DNA of various worlds, and when all of the pieces were put together, a hologram of someone from that extinct race appeared and told everyone present — humans, Romulans, Klingons, maybe another race — that they all were descendants of this one race, that this one race had essentially planted them all on various planets around the galaxy, their shared DNA or pre-DNA or whatever was why they all had similar body types (head, torso, two arms, two legs, etc.), and that she (the hologram) hoped that knowing this would bring harmony to all these various races.

The Romulans and Klingons (or whoever, I don’t pretend to be hip to all the lingo) denied that this was true and said, essentially, that there was no way in heck they were going to acknowledge it. Picard expressed how unfortunate this attitude was.

Also, religious beliefs of various races on Star Trek are treated with the utmost respect. I also watched an episode (“Icarus” was in the title, I think) about this one guy — one of the people who have big ears that wrap around and connect on their foreheads — who invented a new type of shield (“metaphasic,” I think) that would allow a ship to fly into a star unharmed.

This fellow gets killed under mysterious circumstances, and Dr. Crusher wants to perform an autopsy, but Picard insists that she shouldn’t do it because the dead fellow’s family wants to perform some mystic ritual with his body before anything else happens. I think she did the autopsy anyway, but nonetheless respect for religious customs are also present in Star Trek.

There’s no catcalling on Star Trek, there’s nobody degrading women, no women get talked down to or sexually harassed…

What’s funny is that strictly going on dialogue and storylines and whatnot, Star Wars is a whole hell of a lot less “PC” than Star Trek. And seeing as how Star Wars doesn’t contain any language that would be too harsh for a five-year-old’s ear, that’s really saying something.

And in my very limited experience, it seems like most “pro-PC” people (including me) are more into Star Wars — which has jokes based on appearance, mild sexism, mockery of the Jedi religion, etc. — and most “anti-PC” people are more into Star Trek, which, at least in “The Next Generation,” is just about as “PC” as a sci-fi series could possibly be.

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t TNG change the original Star Trek intro thing from “…boldly go where no MAN has gone before” to “…boldly go where no ONE has gone before”?

I am not a “Trekkie,” so maybe I imagined that.

What gives, anti-PC Trekkies? How come you like PC sci-fi but not PC real life? Do you think that humanity will get to the stars faster calling each other by racial slurs, encouraging sexism and homophobia, and just generally behaving shittily toward each other?

What gives, you scruffy-looking bunch of nerf-herders?

Another big thing on Star Trek is accepting responsibility for your actions. This was mentioned to young Wesley Crusher by Number One (I can’t remember his name, he has a beard most of the time) when Crusher was put in command of a research mission.

Number One told Crusher to do what he thought was best, but to be prepared to acknowledge and accept responsibility for failure, should his judgment prove to be incorrect.

How in the name of Spock do you go from that to “nobody gets to be offended by anything I say unless I was trying to be offensive”?

Where do you get off, anti-PC Trekkies, calling people “too sensitive” if they accuse you of saying something offensive? Where do you get off, o graduates of Starfleet Academy, not only refusing to apologize to people you have offended, but also launching into personal attacks against the people you have offended?

Is that how Captain Picard would behave? Granted, I have only seen a small number of episodes, but I hardly think so.

Picard would lecture you on respect and manners, anti-PC Trekkies. Picard would embarrass you in front of everyone on the bridge, and if you continued to be insubordinate and disrespectful toward your fellow crew members, Picard would tell Data to beam your sorry ass off the Enterprise.

Although he wouldn’t say “ass” or “butt” or for that matter “sorry.” Nonetheless, you wouldn’t last very long on the Enterprise or any other such ship, were you to go around using racial slurs and sexual innuendo and harassing anyone who dared to complain about it.

So again, anti-PC Trekkies, what gives?

PIZZA SURVIVOR — A FARCE

Imagine, if you will, four friends traveling across the countryside on an adventure. These four friends – all adults of legal age – have known each other since childhood. Like any group of friends, they have disagreements from time to time, but these disagreements usually resolve themselves of their own accord and never cause any real friction within the group.

This group consists of two men and two women. There has never been any romantic involvement between any two members of this group at any point during the group’s existence. The friendship among this mixed group of four is and always been strictly platonic, and despite what the reader or anyone else may imagine to the contrary, there has never been the slightest inkling toward anything romantic or sexual directed at any member of the group from any other member of the group.

They are, all four of them, just friends.

There is only one issue which causes this group of four genuine and lifelong friends any friction whatsoever, and while this issue may seem silly to anyone outside the group, rest assured that there are legitimate reasons this issue is so important to the members of this group. However, these reasons are so convoluted and arcane that it would require many thousands of words to accurately describe them, and even if these reasons were to be fleshed out on the page (or on the screen, or what have you) they would likely not make any sense whatsoever to anyone outside of this group of four friends.

These reasons are important to the four friends, and silly though it may seem to anyone else, the beliefs these friends have regarding this one seemingly trivial issue are so strong that any time this issue is brought up, heated arguments ensue.

As a matter of fact, this one adventure these four friends are on now is the first such adventure the four of them have undertaken together in several years. This long estrangement was due, mainly, to an unresolved argument regarding the aforementioned issue, and to repeat yet again, this issue may very well seem silly and frivolous and trivial to anyone outside the group, nonetheless within the group itself, this issue is anything but.

The issue is pizza.

Yes, it seems insane – and it very well may be – that four lifelong friends could come to blows and not talk to each other for literally years at a time over something as seemingly insignificant as pizza (what toppings to put on it, what type of crust is best, etc.), nonetheless the dispute over pizza among these four genuine, lifelong friends is an ongoing one, and one that they – all four of them – purposefully estranged themselves from each other over for several years preceding the adventure we find them on now:

Jill, Hillary, Gary, and Donald, after a long day of traveling and sightseeing and joking around and generally having a great time together, have found themselves in a small town in the middle of nowhere. The four of them, having been physically active all day and only eating a light breakfast and lunch, are all very hungry. It’s after 10 pm, and the only lights on anywhere in this small town in the middle of nowhere are in a small pizzeria on the edge of the town square.

Before the four of them go in, they have a short discussion regarding the issue that is weighing heavily on their hearts, that the good times they have been sharing on this adventure shouldn’t be ruined by their having to face the one issue they can’t agree upon – pizza – that they will simply order four personal-sized pizzas, eat them quietly without criticizing each other, then leave the pizzeria and find somewhere to sleep for the night.

The four of them – after circling the town square a few times to make sure there isn’t anywhere else open (even a convenience store) where they could grab a bite before bed – reluctantly start toward the pizzeria.

On the sidewalk outside the pizzeria, there’s a man lying on his side, moaning in what sounds like agony.

“What a bum,” Donald says.

“Really,” Gary replies. “There is nothing worse than a grown man who has no respect for himself.”

“I…I’m not a bum,” the man replies. “I…own…successful business…couple towns ov–” then the man begins violently retching upon the concrete.

Donald and Gary, disgusted, enter the pizzeria, discussing things like “personal responsibility” and “self-respect” and how “bums” like this fellow are “leeches on society” and that sort of thing.

Hillary and Jill take slightly more pity on the moaning, retching fellow. They ask him if there is anything they can do to help him, and after retching and moaning for another ten seconds or so, the man says “ambulance” and then retches some more. There is a phone on the sidewalk beside him, and the sound of an ambulance siren is just barely audible off in the distance, and Hillary and Jill assume that he has already called for help.

The man seems to be trying to tell them something, trying to warn them about something, even – he is grasping at pant legs and has a pleading tone in his voice, etc. – but before he can say anything other than “don’t” and “pep” (because of all the retching), Donald opens the door.

“Hurry up and come in here, ladies,” Donald says. “The pizza chef is about to close up for the night, and if you don’t get in here now, you don’t get to eat!”

Hillary and Jill note that the ambulance siren off in the distance seems to have gotten a little closer, and though they feel pity and concern for the moaning, retching man on the sidewalk, and though he now appears to have trouble breathing, they reason that as they are not medical professionals, there’s nothing they can do for him, and there’s apparently an ambulance on the way, and so on, and long story short Hillary and Jill go into the pizzeria and sit down at the table Donald and Gary have chosen.

The four of them are the only customers in the pizzeria, other than a young couple in the back corner who seem to have fallen asleep at their table.

The inside of the pizzeria is dimly lit, and there is an odd smell, and the atmosphere seems like less of a dimly-lit romantic Italian ristorante sort of atmosphere and like more of a dimly-lit B-movie “this is where everybody in the picture gets brutally murdered” sort of atmosphere. Everyone in the group notices this, but they all attribute it to their being tired and hungry, and none of them mentions it to anyone, and they revive the jocularity they enjoyed during the day and order something to drink.

When the waitress brings their drinks – four ice cold root beers in frosty mugs, a perfect beverage to top off a perfect day, everyone agrees – she informs them that there is only enough pizza dough left in the kitchen for the chef to make one large pizza. The waitress adds, somewhat cryptically, that “personal sized pizzas” are not allowed in this pizzeria, and to please not mention them again.

The four friends’ jocularity is suspended, and they all silently gaze down at the menus in front of them, realizing that the one issue that has bitterly divided their tightly-knit group many times over the years – the pizza issue – will have to be settled to some degree this evening.

They also – all four of them – notice something exceedingly odd printed at the bottom of each page of the menu:

“Do not order more than you can eat. Wasting food is a crime against Nature and the Supreme Being. Customers who do not finish their meals will be shot.”

The waitress says she will be back in a couple minutes to take their order, and she walks away.

“Ha. Did you guys see this disclaimer at the bottom of the menu? About customers who don’t finish their meals?” Donald asks the table. “I like a man who is confident about his product. It shows spunk, it shows panache, it shows that the owner of this place is a winner and not some loser like that bum out on the sidewalk. I’m going to remember that, that is creative marketing right there, ladies and gentleman.”

Before anyone can respond, the sound of a pump-action shotgun being shucked comes from over near the door. The four friends turn and see that a burly fellow of about 6’8” and 300 lbs is now standing in front of the door, facing the table, holding what appears to be a sawed-off 12-gauge across his chest.

Donald, Jill, and Hillary are all somewhat taken aback at this new development, and at first so is Gary, but after noticing that no one else noticed him flinching, and after noticing that the burly fellow is only standing there by the door and not actually pointing his sawed-off 12-gauge at anyone, Gary laughs and tells his three friends that they are all “pussies,” and that this one time when he was riding his ten-speed up the side of Mt. Everest with a pack of wild cheetahs chasing him, a Sherpa guide brandished a shotgun more or less exactly like that one at him, and he stopped his ten-speed, confronted the shotgun-wielding Sherpa, and even though the Sherpa – who was envious of the ten-speed which Gary had earned through hard work and a dedication to self-improvement and individuality and that sort of thing and wanted to steal it (the ten-speed) from him – actually managed to “wing” Gary, Gary tells the table, Gary was able to wrestle the shotgun away from the Sherpa and suplex this Sherpa over the side of a cliff, which by this time the pack of wild cheetahs had caught up to him, and he had to fight them all off bare-handed – he was only able to kill one with the shotgun (it was a double-barreled shotgun, and one shot had already been expended upon him) – and after a long, arduous battle there on the side of Mt. Everest with approximately seventeen wild cheetahs in which Gary eventually came out the victor, and “other than a scratch or two” (Gary proudly flopped his right leg up onto the table to show everyone a rather nasty-looking scar that he claimed still had most of a cheetah tooth broken off somewhere inside of it) he came out of the fracas unscathed. After he related the end of his tale, in which he tamed a ferocious grizzly bear merely by speaking kindly to it and then rode on the bear’s back up to the summit of Mt. Everest and then back down to the base, beating his bare chest with his fists the entire time, Gary reiterated that just because an intimidating-looking fellow of about 6’8” and 300 lbs was standing in front of the door with a shotgun here at this dimly-lit pizzeria that smelled sort of like the back room of a mortuary with menus that threatened death for anyone who didn’t finish their pizza, that was no reason for anyone to be upset, and that he wasn’t really surprised that the female half of the group was concerned about the situation (men being, to his view, the stronger, more resilient half of the species) but that the other male in the group should have the “balls” to not be afraid of a mere sawed-off 12-gauge, when he (Gary) had bravely endured not only shotguns but packs of cheetahs and grizzly bears, all while riding his ten-speed up the side of Mt. Everest.

“I’m not a pussy,” Donald began, the register of his voice a good bit lower than it had been just a few minutes ago. Before he could continue in his artificially-deepened voice, the waitress returned to the table.

“Are you guys ready to order?” the waitress asked. She seemed sort of nervous, but as everybody at the table was again preoccupied with the pizza issue, nobody paid any attention to it.

“Would it be possible to split the pizza four ways?” Jill asked. “I mean, like a quarter ham, a quarter Canadian bacon, a quarter ground beef, and a quarter pepperoni?”

It would be prudent at this point to discuss the individual pizza topping preferences of the four friends:

Donald’s favorite pizza topping is pepperoni. Hillary’s favorite pizza topping is ground beef. Gary’s favorite pizza topping is Canadian bacon, and Jill’s favorite pizza topping is ham.

The issue as to whether Canadian bacon and ham are actually the exact same thing is but one of many issues that has bitterly divided this group over the years, and the arguments presented for and against this issue would require several thousand words to transcribe. Jill and Gary – obviously – strongly disagree that Canadian bacon and ham are actually the exact same thing, and after verbally fighting tooth and nail against each other for hours over the matter, they are known to combine their vitriol and direct it against Hillary when she inevitably tries to get them both to concede that at the very least Canadian bacon and ham are quite similar. Donald finds the whole argument amusing, and tends to drop well-timed comments which alternately support both sides in order to egg on the conflict and amuse himself.

At any rate, the waitress informs them that no, this four-way splitting of the pizza will not be possible.

“The pizza chef is,” the waitress begins, “a deeply religious man.” She seems to be reciting something from memory: “His religion, is, um…his religion is single–”

The waitress’s recitation is cut short by a loud clanging sound from back in the kitchen, one which prompts the waitress to visibly flinch.

“His religion is singular, I meant to say,” she continues, “In that he is the only adherent of it. I am unworthy of such a faith, but…” she pauses, “but I espy– ”

More clanging, as if someone were hitting a stack of pizza pans with a sledgehammer, emerges from the kitchen, again causing the waitress to visibly flinch.

“…but I aspire to one day be worthy of aspiring to such a noble faith,” the waitress said.

The four friends at the table – all of whom respect the right of every individual to worship or not worship whoever or whatever they wish in whichever fashion they wish (Donald having, nonetheless, something of an aversion to anything and everything Islamic) – are nonetheless taken somewhat aback at the things the waitress is telling them about the pizza chef and his “singular” religion. The pizza chef, it seems, worships a Supreme Being who expresses Himself – the repeated use of “Him,” “His,” and “He” (the capitalization of these pronouns being easily inferred) indicating to everyone at the table that this Supreme Being envisioned by the pizza chef is, in fact, male – through the medium of pizza. And that he – the pizza chef (note that the most recent “he” is not capitalized) – is the vessel through which this Supreme Being expresses Himself.

One odd aspect of this “singular” religion, one which strikes everyone at the table as somewhat ironic, is that the “Supreme Being” worshiped by the pizza chef has given the pizza chef one unalterable commandment regarding the medium – pizza – through which the will of this “Supreme Being” is expressed: at no time, and under no circumstances, would the “Supreme Being” tolerate more than one topping on any one pizza the pizza chef makes. Therefore, according to will of the “Supreme Being,” the concept of a “supreme pizza” is an abomination.

It occurs to everyone at the table – being that all four of them have something of a talent for marketing – that the pizza chef could potentially be making quite a lot of money by using his religion as a gimmick and selling “Supreme Being Pizzas” and that sort of thing. Donald mentions this to the waitress, who responds with silence and a horrified look on her face.

There are, however, certain aspects of the pizza chef’s religion that appeal to the group: part of the reason that the pizza chef (or the Supreme Being, or whatever) allows only one topping on a pizza – and also one pizza to a table – is to promote unity among friends and family. One topping must be agreed upon, one and only one topping – it doesn’t matter which topping, but there has to be one, and “cheese” doesn’t count – before the Supreme Being would deign to commune with the group of family or friends at the table through the divine medium of freshly-baked hand-tossed Italian-style pizza created by the sole arbiter and vessel of the Supreme Being’s will, the pizza chef.

There was one other stipulation: if the group of friends or family dining at any given table at this pizzeria could not decide which of the many flavorful and delicious toppings to have on their pizza, the will of the Supreme Being dictates that the topping will default to pepperoni.

The four friends look at the long list of toppings – Jill and Gary feeling somewhat vindicated because of the fact that both “ham” and “Canadian bacon” appear on the list – and ask the waitress to please give them a minute. The waitress says that will be fine, and while she is saying “I will be back in a few minutes” she turns her back to the kitchen, scribbles something rather frantically on her notepad, tears off the top page, and nonchalantly places it on the table in front of Hillary before she walks back to the kitchen.

As Donald, Jill, and Gary discuss the pizza chef’s singular faith, Hillary picks up the slip of paper, the top left corner of which is apparently still on the notepad the slip came off of. In shaky, all-caps, Hillary is able to read this message:

“ERONI POYSIN
DONT EAT ANY
THNG ELSE OK”

Hillary attempts to show the note to her companions – they were talking among themselves about how interesting the pizza chef’s marketing strategy was – remembering the retching man on the sidewalk who had managed to choke out “don’t” and “pep” before she and Jill left him on the sidewalk for the ambulance to pick up…

And she realizes for the first time since she came in that the ambulance she and Jill had heard in the distance had never come, that the man on the sidewalk hadn’t called it after all, like she and Jill had assumed.

Hillary looks around the dining room of the pizzeria. The young couple in the back corner who appear to have fallen asleep at their table don’t seem to have moved at all since she and her three friends came in.

Neither of the two young people – neither of them could have been over 20 years old – appear to be breathing.

As Hillary turns back around to her friends, a muffled sort of scream emanates from the kitchen area. The screaming stops after a slight clanging sound – like pizza pans falling off of a counter – and a series of dull thumps – thumps that sound like someone hitting a side of beef with a sledgehammer – travel through the strange-smelling air between the kitchen and the dining room.

The four friends sit in silence for a few seconds. “You guys,” Gary says, his voice trembling, “what was that sound? It sounded like–”

“I vas tenderizing ze beef for tomorrow’s pizzas,” says a small man in a black apron who appears more or less out of nowhere. “Ze vaitress, she has gone home for ze evening. I am ze chef here. Vy name ist Heinrich. I vas named for mein great grandfazza.”

The man is fairly short – just over five feet tall – and he has neatly combed white hair, bright blue eyes, and a pleasant smile. “Have ze fine ladies und gentlemen decided vhich topping zey vill have?”

The man’s appearance sets Jill, Gary, and Donald somewhat at ease.

“No, I’m afraid not, Heinrich,” Jill begins. “Hillary wants ground beef, I want ham, Gary wants Canadian bacon, and Donald wants pepperoni.”

“I regret to inform ze lady zat zere ist no ham available tonight,” Heinrich says. “Ve are, as zey say, fresh out.”

“What about Canadian bacon?” Gary asked, his voice again evoking what he imagines to be rugged masculinity.

Heinrich smiles, with what Hillary and Donald both interpret as knowing condescension: “Yes,” Heinrich says, “I am afraid zat ve are out of zat topping as vell. Everyzing else ist, as zey say, still in fresh supply.”

“Well, if I understand the policy here, Heinie,” Donald begins, “If we can’t decide what topping we want, you just give us pepperoni, right?”

“Zat ist correct,” Heinrich replies. “Und let me assure ze fine ladies und gentlemen zat it ist pepperoni of ze highest quality.”

“I’m sure it is, Heinie,” Donald says. “I’m sure it’s some really luxurious pepperoni, my friend. And I just want to compliment you on your business here, I really like the whole marketing approach, the whole ‘Supreme Being’ shtick, I just think it’s fantastic.”

Heinrich’s smile does not wane in the slightest, but his eyes seem to betray a slight inner hardening of his demeanor as he says, “Let me assure ze gentleman zat mein Gott ist no, as you say, shtick.”

“That’s great, Heinie, just great,” Donald replies, then turns back to his friends: “Well, guys, it sounds like pepperoni, huh?” Donald positively radiates triumph over the fact that the inability of his friends to agree on a pizza topping essentially guarantees that his choice of topping will be the one they are all forced – quite literally at gunpoint – to eat.

“Could you just give us a minute to discuss this, Heinrich?” Hillary asks.

“Of course, madame,” Heinrich replies. “I vill be back in, as zey say, two shakes of ze lamb’s tail.”

“I just think he’s fantastic,” Jill says.

“His accent is scary,” Gary offers, wiping his nose with the back of his hand.

“I bet that’s some real luxurious pepperoni,” Donald says.

“Guys, I think that pepperoni is poisoned,” Hillary says. “I think this whole restaurant is a death trap, and I think that guy Heinrich is a psychopath.”

The three of them laugh.

“Look at this note!” Hillary says, and shows them the note the waitress had given her.

“I can’t even read that,” Donald says.

“Look at that sloppy handwriting,” Jill says.

“That waitress writes like a pussy,” Gary says.

“Jill,” Hillary says, “don’t you remember the sick man on the sidewalk?”

“You mean that bum?” Donald interrupts.

“Proper penmanship is one key aspect of personal responsibility,” Gary says.

“When he wasn’t vomiting, he said ‘don’t’ and ‘pep’!” Hillary says. “Didn’t you hear that, Jill?”

“Well, I…” Jill replies.

“Probably hopped up on pep pills,” Donald says.

“People like that are pathetic,” Gary begins. “It’s like Ayn Rand always said…”

“LOOK AT THE COUPLE IN THE BACK CORNER, YOU IDIOTS! THEY’RE FLIPPING DEAD! THEY ATE THE POISON PEPPERONI AND NOW THEY’RE DEAD!” Hillary shouts.

“No need to act like a fanatic,” Gary says, his voice slightly quivering again.

“Must be that time of the month,” Donald says.

“You’re letting your emotions control you, Hillary,” Jill says.

“Are ve veady to order?” Heinrich says, again seeming to appear out of nowhere.

Out of frustration, Hillary presses the heels of her hands against her temples and puts her elbows on the table. “Anything but pepperoni,” she says.

“Ham,” Jill says.

“Canadian bacon,” Gary says.

“They’re the same FLIPPING THING!” Hillary says.

“NO THEY’RE NOT!” Jill and Gary shout in unison.

“Let me remind ze lady and ze gentleman zat ve are out of ze ham.”

Jill and Gary glare at Heinrich.

“…und ve are also out of ze Canadian bacon.”

“Yes,” Jill says, straightening up in her seat. “I know that you are out of ham, and I know that it is completely and utterly pointless and absurd for me to order ham, and that there is no eventuality whatsoever in which my ordering ham here in this pizzeria tonight will result in ham being put on the pizza that is brought to my table, because as I have been told there is no ham and therefore no possibility of ham being on my pizza, nonetheless, my conscience tells me that I should order ham anyway. I know full well that when I order ham – even if there were ham here in the pizzeria tonight, which it is a well-established fact that there isn’t any – that what I am essentially doing is ordering pepperoni – because of the rules you have here in your pizzeria, Heinrich – but these irrefutable and indisputable facts do not deter me in the slightest from doing what I feel I must do: order ham. I feel it is my duty to order ham, because I like ham, and I think ham is the best pizza topping, and even though there is no chance in hell – or for that matter heaven or Earth – that ordering ham tonight will lead to my being served ham on my pizza, and that ordering ham when I know this to be a fact is essentially an egotistical and foolish exercise in futility, I must follow my conscience and order ham anyway. I will have ham on my pizza, Heinrich, ham, I say!”

Gary stands up, clapping with vigorous aplomb. Tears are streaming down his face. “That was beautiful, Jill. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I mean, I probably could have said it better because I’m a rugged, manly man – these are rugged, manly tears streaming down my rugged, manly cheeks, by the way – and you’re just a dumb, frightened girl, but still, I agree with you a hundred percent on this. Except for me it’s Canadian bacon.”

“They’re the exact same thing,” Hillary says under her breath.

“NO THEY’RE NOT!” Jill and Gary shout in unison.

“Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. You’re being very immature, Hillary,” Donald says, then hands his menu to Heinrich. “You know what I’m having, Heinie.”

“Ze pepperoni it vill be, zen,” Heinrich says. “I hope ze ladies and gentlemen vill enjoy.”

“We’re all going to die here,” Hillary says.

“Stop being so emotional,” Jill says.

“Don’t be a pussy,” Gary says.

Hillary glares at Gary, who seems to shrink in his seat a little.

After a few minutes – fewer than one would think it would take to bake a pizza; Heinrich had apparently anticipated the outcome of the squabble over toppings ahead of time, and had done so correctly – the pizza is brought out, and Donald, Jill, and Gary eat heartily.

Hillary does not.

“Real good pepperoni, Hill, real luxurious,” Donald says several times.

After about ten minutes, Donald, Jill, and Gary begin to feel ill. They look at each other, noticing a greenish bluish sort of tinge in their faces. They look at Hillary, and notice that she does not have this sickly color in her face, although she does appear rather pale.

After about twenty minutes, the three of them fall over, moaning, clutching their stomachs in pain, retching violently all over the floor.

Hillary remains still, her elbows on the table, the heels of her hands pressed against her temples.

She hears footsteps behind her.

“Ze lady ist not eating her pizza,” Heinrich says, a playful sort of malevolence in his voice.

“You killed my friends,” Hillary says.

“Ja,” Heinrich replies. “Und now I vill kill you as vell. Come, Werner. Ze lady needs, as zey say, motivation.”

Werner shucks his shotgun.

THE DIRTIEST JOKE IN THE WORLD

(Note: the joke I am about to tell was told to me in I am gonna guess about 1990 or so. I wrote this rendition of it approximately 20 years later, in 2010 or 2011 or some time around then. I wrote it on a laptop that got fried when I spilled homemade wine on it, and I thought that the only copy of this was on that laptop, which has been fried for a few years now, and I still haven’t attempted to salvage the hard drive. Anyways I found this yesterday on a flash drive, and I decided to share it. Enjoy…or whatever. — MNW)

This story was first told to me and a group of kids in the “GT” program at school when I was in the third grade, I think. It was told by one of my fellow students.

I think I was in the third grade then, or maybe the fourth. While I have embellished certain parts of the story here, I have done my best to keep its original spirit intact. Everything in this preface is true, at least to the best of my memory.

“GT” stood for “Gifted and Talented,” and it was like an advanced reading class, for the most part. I can’t remember a whole lot about it, but I know that on the day “Purple Velvet” was told, our teacher, the elementary school principal, was not present. Her duties as principal had called her elsewhere in the school that day, or something, at any rate we were left alone and told to read quietly. A few in our class did just that, clutching their paperback Tom Sawyers and glaring fiercely at anyone who did anything other than read quietly, never saying anything directly, just glaring fiercely, and occasionally reminding everyone “we’re s’posed t’be readin’, dang it” or just coughing loudly or clearing their throat. And of course not reading, actually, just holding the book open, breaking their fixed stare upon whomever was talking only when looked at directly. And then, after a measured pause, turning the page. For effect, you understand.

The rest of us, the ones who had tried to read quietly but later found ourselves unable to, were telling dirty jokes. After two or three jokes, shocking though they were at the time, even without any actual “cuss words,” a girl who was a year ahead of me in school (the GT class had kids from different grades in it) asked if we had ever heard the “dirtiest joke in the world”. She was giggling when she asked, she was giggling when somebody asked “What joke is that?” and she was giggling when she replied “Purple Velvet”. She giggled when somebody said “Purple Velvet?” and she giggled the entire time she was telling it.

So anyways, without any further ado, here is “the dirtiest joke in the world”. As I mentioned before, I have embellished certain parts, but the basic details are the same. The back story (from above) is true…at any rate, here’s “Purple Velvet”.

PURPLE VELVET

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I guess maybe sometime after Nintendo but before Super Nintendo, there was a medium-sized town in a medium-sized state in the Midwest. Right in the middle of Middle Street in this town, right on the corner of Middle and Center actually, where if you turn one way you’re walking down East Middle and if you turn the other way you’re walking up West Middle, up towards Hagerton; right there on the corner, right in the middle of a manicured, medium-sized yard was a modest, medium-sized house. In the house lived a middle class family; the father, while far from being rich, enjoyed moderate success at his chosen vocation (he was in middle management at a mid-sized manufacturing megaplex), enough success at least to allow his wife to stay home in order to follow her passion: helping underprivlidged orphans fill out tax returns and providing legal advice to dumb animals down at the shelter who were scheduled to be “put to sleep.” Hers wasn’t a profitable business in the monetary sense, but she felt that the moderate amount of personal satisfaction she received through her efforts was enough, and her husband, a kind, gentle, humane man who looked upon anything his wife did with a calm, adoring detachment; he smiled and said “that’s fine, that’s fine” when she would prattle on for what seemed like hours about how it wasn’t right to execute an animal if the animal didn’t understand why it was being executed, or how those “little bastards” would stick every penny they owed Uncle Sam in their grubby little pockets if you let them.

These two average middle Americans had a son. As you may have already guessed, their son was of medium height, medium build, and medium intelligence. He was in the third grade in his elementary school, and he made average grades and never got in trouble. His parents loved him, and did their best to raise him right, and were proud of him when he tried his best, whether he succeeded or not, and carried pictures of him around with them to show people, and spent time with him and taught him things, and did all the things good parents are supposed to do for their children.

This boy, who was in the third grade, his elementary school was right next door to a middle school. One day at recess, the boy was playing kickball with some of his friends. The ball bounced out of control, and the boy, good sport that he was, went after it.

The ball came to a rest next to the chain link fence that separated the playground from the outdoor area next door where the middle schoolers ate lunch. The bell rang, ending recess. The boy turned around and saw his friends turn and run towards the school building. He turned back around and saw that several middle schoolers on the other side of the fence were coming out to eat lunch. The boy ducked his head and ran towards the kickball.

He made it to the fence and picked the ball up. Without ever looking directly into the schoolyard on the other side of the fence, he started to run back to his school building.

“Hey kid!”

The boy could feel his face turning red as he stopped and turned around. There were three middle-schoolers, two boys and a girl. The taller of the two middle school boys repeated, “Hey, kid!”

The boy said nothing. The shorter of the middle-school boys said, “Hey dumbass, are you deaf or something?” The girl punched him in the ribs and said, “Leave him alone!”

The boy said, “No.”

The taller boy ran towards the fence and grabbed it with both hands, shaking it and making a crazy face. He said, “What did you say, kid? I thought I heard you say something.”

The boy hesitated, then spoke: “I said no.”

“No? No what?”

The boy was nervous, and he could feel his voice trembling. “No, I’m, I’m not deaf.”

“Oh, good then,” the taller middle school kid said. “Come here, I want to tell you something.”

“I have to go back inside–”

“I want to tell you a secret. Just come here a second.”

“You’ll get me.” The boy’s eyes began to fill with water.

“I’m not gonna hurt you, dammit, just come over here a little closer.”

“You’ll get me.”

“Alright, then, don’t come close enough so I can get you. I just want to tell you something, anyways, I don’t want to hurt you, little man.” The tall kid smiled.

The boy stepped closer to the fence. He stopped about three feet away.

“Alright, kid, now don’t repeat this to anyone,” the taller middle school kid said. He turned around to the shorter middle school kid and nodded.

The shorter kid, who was still standing next to the girl who punched him in the ribs, put his hands over the girl’s ears. She struggled, punching and kicking. “Hurry the hell up, man!” the shorter kid said.

The taller kid looked around, making sure no one was watching, then turned to the boy and said, “Purple velvet.”

“Purp–?” the boy started.

“Shhh!” the tall kid interrupted. “Don’t ever say it or tell anybody about it!” The tall kid laughed, and the boy ran back into the elementary school building. He got a quick sip of water and went into his classroom. After putting the kickball away, he trotted to his desk.

He sat down at his desk as the bell was ringing. His teacher, a moderately pretty medium-sized woman of usually mild temperament, strolled into the room and announced that it was geography time. The boy got out his geography book and listened intently to his teacher.

About twenty minutes later, the teacher wrote a few questions on the board and told the students they could work in pairs to answer the questions.

As a result of a recently-enacted disciplinary measure, the seating arrangement in the class was “boy, girl, boy, girl,” so the boy was always (for two weeks now) paired with the bashful blonde-haired girl who sat in front of him. She was a nice girl, he thought, and he tried to be civil with her most of the time, at least when his friends weren’t watching. Actually, the two of them had secretly been “going together” for about a week.

They agreed that she would look for the answer to number one, and he would look for the answer to number two, then they’d look for the answer to number three together. When they were finished with number three, but before they copied each other’s answers for the first two questions, the girl looked at him.

He looked back at her. She was looking at him with sort of a dumb grin on her face. It was a bit disturbing, really.

“What?” the boy said.

“You are brave, talking to those middle schoolers like that.”

“Pff. Let me see number one. Here’s two.”

“They always say mean things to me,” the girl said. “I’m ascared of them.”

“Ascared?” the boy asked. He had never heard somebody say “ascared” in real life before.

“One of them said something to you, like a secret.”

“Phh.”

“What did he say? Tell me!”

“It was nothing, really, but he told me not to tell anyone.”

“Tell me.”

“No.”

“Tell me!”

“NO!”

“If you don’t tell me, I’ll tell everybody we’re going together.”

The boy looked at her. She wasn’t kidding.

“Fine. Purple velvet. The tall kid said, ‘purple velvet.'” The boy resumed copying the girl’s answer to question 1.

The girl said nothing. She continued to gaze wide-eyed at the boy, but a subtle change came over her face; there was a troubled look in her eyebrows, and her bottom lip was trembling. Her eyes appeared to be welling with tears. “W-what?” she asked.

The boy, busy copying her answer to question 1, was oblivious to her initial reaction. He repeated, “Purple velvet. The tall middle school kid said ‘purple velvet’ and told me not to tell anybody. I don’t see what the big deal is, really. What’s so bad about purple velvet? He must’ve been trying to trick me. Purple velvet. Ha! Purple velvet!”

A low moan came from the girl, and the boy looked up as tears spilled down her cheeks. “Don’t say that, don’t ever say that,” she sobbed. “Don’t say it, don’t never say it,” she started mumbling, over and over. She fell out of her desk backwards, scrambling to get away from the boy, then started scooting herself backwards across the floor, away from the boy. “Don’t never don’t ever never never–” She was genuinely horrified, too horrified to stand up or even to scream.
The boy watched, bewildered, as the horrified girl scooted backwards into a coat rack and knocked it over. She gained some sense of herself again and tried to stand up among the coats. She fell down on the pile of coats and began wailing loudly.

The boy looked away from his horrified geography partner and saw his teacher looking at the girl, trying to figure out what had happened and looking like she wasn’t sure of how to deal with the wailing little blonde girl who had just unexpectedly knocked over the coat rack and seemed to be having some sort of epileptic fit. The teacher looked at the boy, and he looked down at his desk. He kept his eyes down but scanned the room around him. All the children, boys and girls, who sat near enough to hear what he had said were gazing at him with the same look of abject terror that was on the face of the blonde girl. He resumed copying the answer to number one as the clipped footsteps advanced on him, and he only put his pencil down after he felt his ear twist.

He was led into the hall by his teacher, who apparently was very angry with him. She knelt in front of him, at his eye level, and asked, “Why is that little girl in there so upset? What did you do to her to make her so upset?”

The boy, confused, said, “I didn’t do anything to her, Miss–”

“You obviously did SOMETHING, now, didn’t you?”

“I just said ‘purple velvet’ was all. I was on the playground and some middle school kids said ‘hey kid, come here’ and–”

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” the teacher boomed. She was shaking with rage.

The boy remained silent. His lower lip was trembling now.

“That’s what I thought you said.” The teacher grabbed the boy by the collar and dragged him to the principal’s office. She dragged the boy right past the receptionist and sat him down in a rolling chair right in front of the principal’s desk. The principal was just finishing his morning coffee and honey bun, and was seated behind his desk in a rolling chair.

The principal stood up. “What’s all this?” he asked. “Is this boy in trouble?”

The teacher, flustered, began “H-h-he, h-h-he s-s-said, h-he s-s-s-s–” and burst into tears. The principal, a kind, gentle, humane man who looked upon anything his teachers (mostly pert, young things) did with a calm, adoring detachment, placed what was left of a his iced honey bun on a napkin on his desk, rose, and went to comfort the sobbing, pert young teacher. He led her out of his office and into the waiting area, near the receptionist’s desk.

“You just wait out here, and I’ll go talk to the student, ok?” the boy heard him say.

The principal returned to his desk and sat down. He took a sip of his coffee, picked up the piece of iced honey bun and asked, “So, why is Miss Rottentree so upset out there?”

The boy remained silent.

The principal chewed his honey bun, staring at the boy intently, but not menacingly, and said, “Miss Rottentree, I believe, said that you might’ve, possibly, said a swear word or something?”

The boy remained silent.

“You know, son, I’ve heard a lot of nasty talk in my day, and I’ll tell you something.” He licked icing from his fingers.

The boy remained silent.

“Nasty talk like that, the A-word, the D-word, the S-word, and even the–” the principal paused, then said, disgustedly, “the F-word, people who use words like these only use them because they are too uneducated to express themselves properly.”

The boy remained silent.

“They are not used by decent, upstanding people, son,” the principal said, “and their use is certainly not tolerated in my school.”

The boy remained silent.

“What cuss word did you say, my boy?”

“I didn’t say a cuss word. I know I ain’t supposed to say cuss words.”

“Well, son,” the principal’s tone became more stern, “you obviously said something to upset Miss Rottentree out there.” He stuffed the remainder of his honey bun into his mouth and stared directly into the boy’s face.

“A-a-a m-middle school kid said…”

“Said what?” He chewed the honey bun.

“Purple velvet.”

The principal, shocked, spat honey bun into the boy’s face and jumped backwards out of his rolling chair, knocking a framed diploma off the wall. The principal was choking on the honey bun, but seemed to be ok, though quite enraged.

“GET OUT! GET OUT OF HERE!” he screamed, and opened the door. He rolled the boy, chair and all, out into the waiting area. Miss Rottentree and the receptionist were outside, clutching each other, sobbing wildly. “DON’T COME BACK IN THE MORNING! WE DON’T WANT PEOPLE LIKE YOU IN OUR SCHOOL! I’M CALLING YOUR MOTHER RIGHT NOW!”

The bell rang, ending the school day. The boy went straight from the principal’s office to the school bus. No one on the bus would talk to him, and since he sat near the front of the bus, the bus driver, a kindly old woman who was especially fond of children, since she never had any of her own, noticed the boy had been cast out by his peers and inquired as to why. After some prodding, after the driver smiled into the big mirror at him and assured him everything was fine and she wouldn’t get mad, he told her what happened, how the middle school kid said “purple velvet” and–

The bus screeched to a halt and the old woman flung the door open. The bus happened to be crossing a bridge over a shallow creek when it was abruptly stopped, and the driver, in an adrenaline-fueled burst of rage, manually removed the boy from his seat near the front of the bus and hurled him out the door. He hit the grass beside the road and rolled down into the creek. The bus sped away.

The boy crawled up out of the creek and out of the ditch and began walking home. He had about half a mile to go.

He had been walking for about 5 minutes when he saw his school bus coming back down the road. “She’s come back to get me,” the boy thought. He stopped walking and the bus kept coming. Was it speeding up–?

The boy jumped back into the ditch and narrowly missed getting run over. The bus stopped right past him and began to back up. He ran as fast as he could to the woods and found a shortcut home.

When he got home, his mother was waiting on him. She had talked to the principal, and she knew that her son was suspended from school indefinitely but she didn’t know why, because the principal wouldn’t tell her. She was upset, but she assured her son that no matter what happened, she would still be his mother and she would still love him. She calmly asked him what had happened.

“I, I–” he started.

“Go on, now, you can tell me.” She handed him a glass of milk and put a plate of cookies in front of him.

He started crying. He told her that he had been playing kickball, and the ball bounced away, and he went to get it, and a middle school kid by the fence said something to him and told him not to tell anybody, and then his geography partner asked what the middle school kid said, and he didn’t want to tell her but she made him tell her, and then she got all upset and the teacher dragged him off and asked what he said and she said she wouldn’t get mad but then he told her and she got mad and took him to the principal, who also said he wasn’t gonna get mad but got real mad, and then how the bus driver threw him off the bus and tried to run him over.

“Oh my goodness,” his mom said, “my poor baby!” She hugged him and asked, “What did you say? What did the middle school boy say to you?”

The boy, quietly, said, “Purple velvet.”

His mother’s reaction made the others look tame. She cursed the day he was born, destroyed most of the living room and kitchen, and sent him to his room to wait for his father to get home.

His father came up into his room an hour or so later. While the door was open, the boy could hear his mother screaming and crying and thrashing through the house, which seemed to be partially on fire. After his father shut the bedroom door again, his mother beat on the door, cursing wildly.

His father looked confused “Just what in the hell is going on here?”

The boy told the story again, not saying what the middle school kid said. He got to the end, and said, “Dad, I really don’t even know what it means…I’m so confused.”

His father looked at him. “What..what did you say, son?

The boy said, “purple velvet.”

Rage. In the eyes.

“Get out.”

“But Dad…”

“I SAID GET OUT, NOW GET OUT! I WON’T HAVE ANYBODY TALK TO ME LIKE THAT, MUCH LESS MY OWN SON!”

“But..D-D-D–”

“THAT’S IT, I HAVE NO SON!” his father screamed. He grabbed the boy and threw him through the window. The boy fell ten feet or so and landed in some bushes, unharmed. The front door of his house opened, and his father came out, firing a handgun into the air. “I’LL SHOOT YOU, BY GOD, IF YOU COME BACK!”

The boy ran up the road. He ran and ran and ran, and then he ran some more.

A few hours later, he found an abandoned building to sleep in.

The next morning, he saw that he was not the only person sleeping in the abandoned building. There were several homeless people in here, and the boy was scared. But, since he was more scared of trying to go back home or to school, he worked up his courage and asked a friendly-looking older fellow if he knew where to get something to eat.

The old man wheezed and said, “Hagerton soup kitchen’s right around the corner. They’ll feed ya.”

The boy found the soup kitchen and was ushered to the front of the line by a nun, and he got presented with an extra-big bowl of bone soup, and he got to sit with the priests at the big table in front of everybody.

Halfway through the meal, the priest sitting in the middle, the one with the fanciest robe, dinged on his water glass with his spoon and stood up.

“We have among us one of the most unfortunate souls on the planet, my friends.”

(General rumble of conversation. Someone coughs.)

“This young one, this orphan, who just came to our humble soup kitchen this morning, hungry and beaten down by a world who never wanted him…”

“Sir…” the boy started.

“Whose parents, probably drug addicts or perverts or worse…”

“Wrap it up, would you, Leopold?” the head nun said. Some of the homeless guys chuckled.

“My parents aren’t drug perverts,” the boy said, standing up. “Up until yesterday, they were the best parents ever, but then I got in trouble at school, and then on the bus, and then my mom got mad and sent me to my room, and then my dad came home and threw me out the window and shot his gun at me.”

“What did you do, my son?” the head priest asked.

“A middle school kid said something to me and told me not to tell anybody, but then I told a girl in my class and she got scared, then I told my teacher and she started crying, then I told the principal and he spat honey bun in my face and got mad and rolled me out of his office, and then I told the bus driver, and she threw me off the bus and tried to run me over.”

“You are lucky to be alive, my son.”

“And the worst part of it all is, what I said, I don’t even know what it means.”

“What…did you say, my son?”

The boy looked up at the priest, then around the room at all the homeless people, then down at his soup bowl. He lifted the bowl to his face and drank what was left. He wiped his mouth with a paper towel and said, “Purple velvet.”

He was on the street in seconds. That night, he slept in a cardboard box outside the soup kitchen/shelter, in which there were several empty beds.

The next morning when he woke up, a man in a pin-striped suit was standing next to his box. “Hey, kid,” the man said. He had a funny accent, like he was Russian or something, he had a goatee, and his hair was slicked back. “Get up. GET up.”

The boy mumbled, “Leave me alone, mister,” and rolled over.

The man in the suit said something in Russian and bent down. A few seconds later the boy smelled smoke and his leg felt hot. The Russian had set his box on fire! The boy got up and made sure he wasn’t on fire and the man grabbed him. The man said, in his Russian accent, “You have been asking wrong question, my small friend. You would do well to shoot your pie hold.”

“What?” the boy asked.

The man pulled out a tazer gun and held it to the boy’s neck. “Your face is ask question for nothing, and bacon like fry your small face!”

From behind the man, a cackling laughter arose. Then it said, “Purple velvet! Purple velvet! PURRR PULLL VELLL VETTTT!” It was one of the homeless guys from the soup kitchen.

The man in the pin-striped suit released his hold on the boy and turned around. He tazed the homeless guy. The homeless guy was laughing like mad, shouting the forbidden words when he was able to, through the waves of electricity coursing through his body. The boy watched as the man in the pin-striped suit tazed the homeless man until the battery in his tazer gun was dead. Then the man holding the dead tazer turned to the boy and said, “You watch mouth.” He walked away. The boy thought he could hear him sobbing, softly.

The homeless man, hyperventilating with laughter and, now more than before, reeking of his own stink, was muttering, “P-p-purple v-v-v-velv-v-vet. He hee hee hee!”

The boy walked over to him. “Thanks, mister. That guy was gonna get me, but then he got you instead.”

The homeless man reeled with laughter and rolled on the ground.

The boy asked, “Mister, what is purple velvet?”

More insane laughter.

“I mean, I know what purple is, like a grape’s color.”

Laughter, coughing, laughter.

“And velvet’s like a smooth material, right?”

“P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-PURPLE! Hahahahhahahahhaaaa! HOO HOOHOO HAAA HAHAHHAHAHHAAHAHAHHAHA!”

“Never mind.” The boy sat down and began to cry.

The homeless man continued to literally piss himself laughing for another ten minutes or so. Then he stood up and walked over to the boy, who was still sobbing. “Do you want to know what purple velvet is, sonny boy?”

The boy looked up. “Y-yes. I w-would.”

“Ok, then. You see that window in that building across the way there, that big window, up on the sixth floor, the one with the purple curtains?”

The boy looked. “Yeah, I s-see it.”

“Ok, then. You just go right across the street to that building over there, and go up to the sixth floor. All of your questions will be answered there.”

“Really?” the boy asked, exited.

“Where do you think I found out what it was?”

“You mean you know what it means?” the boy asked. “Why can’t you just tell me?”

The homeless man cackled. “You’re a clever one, sonny boy!” He coughed noisily for several seconds. “But it don’t work like that. I can’t just tell you, you gotta see for yourself.”

“Oh,” the boy said.

“Well, go on ahead over there, sonny! It don’t cost nothing!”

“Ok, thanks,” the boy said. The boy looked up at the purple curtains and started across the street. He got hit by a bus and died instantly.

THE END

CLINTON/SANDERS ’16

MANY DEMOCRATIC VOTERS, SIX MONTHS AGO:

“No matter what happens, guys, whoever gets nominated, we have to support them. Bashing Democrats is not productive. We shouldn’t make personal attacks on either Hillary or Bernie, and especially not on their supporters. If we do that, it pretty much guarantees that a Republican will get elected.”

 

MANY DEMOCRATIC VOTERS TODAY:

“I don’t trust Hillary! She’s in bed with Wall Street and big business!”

“Bernie is out of his mind! Look at him! That ‘wealth redistribution’ nonsense sounds good on paper, but he’s delusional if he thinks it’ll actually work!”

“Hillary is a hypocrite! She talks a good game about criminal justice reform, but her husband’s escalation of the ‘War On Drugs’ is a big reason why we need criminal justice reform in the first place! A person would have to be STUPID to think she’s changed her mind on any of that stuff!”

“Bernie simply does not have the experience to run for President. Hillary is WAY more experienced with international politics, and only an IDIOT would want Bernie Sanders representing our nation abroad!”

“HILLARY SUCKS!”

“BERNIE SUCKS!”

“HILLARY SUPPORTERS ARE PLAYING ‘IDENTITY POLITICS’!”

“BERNIE SUPPORTERS ARE BIGOTS!”

Etc., etc., etc.

 

MICHAEL NATHAN WALKER, SIX MONTHS AGO:

“It’s probably not gonna happen, but I would like to see Hillary and Bernie on the same ticket. They do have quite a few views that are pretty far apart from each other, but that sort of ideological tension would be good for the office of President and for our country in general. The GOP is obsolete, in terms of actual constructive policies, and they should be treated as such. Hillary and Bernie have differences, and they butt heads over these differences, but at least the issues they butt heads over are important issues, not like the personal attacks and reactionary nonsense the GOP butts heads with itself over.

Let’s argue over this stuff after they’re both in the White House, guys.

CLINTON/SANDERS ’16!”

 

MICHAEL NATHAN WALKER TODAY:

“It’s probably not gonna happen, but I would like to see Hillary and Bernie on the same ticket. They do have quite a few views that are pretty far apart from each other, but that sort of ideological tension would be good for the office of President and for our country in general. The GOP is obsolete, in terms of actual constructive policies, and they should be treated as such. Hillary and Bernie have differences, and they butt heads over these differences, but at least the issues they butt heads over are important issues, not like the personal attacks and reactionary nonsense the GOP butts heads with itself over.

Let’s argue over this stuff after they’re both in the White House, guys.

CLINTON/SANDERS ’16!”

SPORTS ANALOGY FOR POLITICS IN THE USA

(Here is the final Facebook “note” I am copy/pasting to my blog. It was written in November 2014. It’s still pretty much applicable, in my opinion. — MNW)

Hey guys…before you get yer panties in a bunch, let me state for the record that this is meant to be mildly humorous. But at the same time, hopefully, it will more or less ring true. Anyways, all comments are welcome, as usual.

Without any further ado, I will attempt to answer this burning question:

IF THE TWO MAINSTREAM POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE USA WERE PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL TEAMS, WHAT WOULD HOME GAMES BE LIKE?

Let’s start with the Democrats, shall we? Ok, great:

AT THE DEM STADIUM:

Basic tickets cost a little more than the ones at the GOP stadium. This extra money is put towards stadium maintenance and basic amenities for fans, such as complimentary rain parkas.

Sky boxes and other high-end seating are open to anyone with the money to pay for them. These seats are significantly more expensive than similar ones at the GOP stadium.

No guns are allowed in or around the stadium.

The stadium and surrounding areas are policed by a light security team who only intervenes when it is absolutely necessary. Use of force is discouraged.

 

AT THE GOP STADIUM:

Regular tickets are a little cheaper than those at the Democratic stadium. However, a ticket does not entitle its holder entry to the stadium. A ticket entitles the holder to enter the parking lot/tailgating area, where purchase of a temporary, non-refundable tailgating permit is required.

Rain parkas are available from vendors, but are in limited supply. Regulations restrict vendors from buying enough parkas for all the fans, the theory behind this being something to do with supply and demand and the free market. Prices fluctuate, but tend to average somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 per parka. Bringing your own parka from home is strictly prohibited and can result in felony convictions.

Sky boxes and other high-end seating comprise 99% of the stadium’s seats. These seats (and all amenities entitled thereto) are financed through a quasi-legal series of transactions and are rarely paid for by the people sitting in them. The remaining 1% of actual in-stadium seating is given out via lottery. Winners are repeatedly told how lucky they are throughout the game, but are only allowed to actually sit and watch the game after they are certain the high-end ticket holders have plenty of refreshments.

All ticket holders are required to carry firearms.

Stadium and surrounding areas are heavily policed, and guards are encouraged to use deadly force as they see fit. An unwritten rule states that no fewer than one and no more than seven fans should be beaten and/or tasered to death on any given game day. This rule is widely held to be a useful deterrent against mischief, despite studies that suggest otherwise.

Pre-game prayer is mandatory. Prayer is led by one of the Duck Dynasty guys. Anyone caught without his or her head bowed during the prayer gets publicly flogged; failure to audibly say “amen” at the correct moment can result in a prison sentence of up to five years.

 

“IDENTITY POLITICS” — A TRAGICOMEDY COMING SOON TO AN ECHO CHAMBER NEAR YOU

IDENTITY POLITICS

________________________

                            A play in one act

                            by

                            Michael Nathan Walker

 

 

 

Copyright © 2016, by Michael Nathan Walker

 

 

 

DRAMATIS PERSONAE
 

Kris Anyoneson:                             A Person
Pat Quicumque:                              A Person

 

 

 

Scene
Literally anywhere in the world.

Time
The present.

 

 

ACT I
 

Scene 1
 

SETTING: The setting of this brief tragicomedy is not static; this aspect of the production is left entirely up to the director and/or production designer. Mise-en-scène and costume design are intended to reflect the local customs of wherever the play is being performed in a noncommittal, generic sort of way. Literally any place where two persons might speak to each other is acceptable, and creativity in this regard is encouraged.

AT RISE: KRIS ANYONESON and PAT QUICUMQUE are both at center stage, perhaps waiting for a bus, perhaps sitting on a bench, perhaps standing, perhaps sitting at a table in a restaurant facing each other, perhaps sitting at a table in one of their homes facing each other, perhaps standing and facing each other, perhaps sitting on a couch next to each other; this aspect of the production is also left entirely up to the director and/or production designer, and creativity in this regard is encouraged.

KRIS
So, have you given much thought to the upcoming election?

PAT
Yes, I have.

KRIS
Me, too. I think I am going to vote for H. Sapienza. Sapienza’s policies are agreeable to me personally, and they reflect the worldview I have developed for myself. I think my worldview is a pretty reasonable one, and therefore I want to vote for someone who reflects my own worldview and promotes the ideas I believe in.

PAT
You poor deluded fool! Your political opinion is incredibly self-centered. I don’t mean to be condescending, but your choice of candidate reflects very poorly on you as a human being.

KRIS
Luckily for you, I am not the type of person who takes offense easily, Pat. You may not have intended to sound condescending with your previous statement, nonetheless it could easily be interpreted by a reasonable person as not only condescending but downright insulting. But being that we are friends, I will refrain from responding in kind and ask you to clarify your position.

PAT
I apologize, Kris! I did not mean to come across the way I apparently came across! It’s just that matters such as these are important, and I feel compelled to speak of them in terms which reflect this importance! Please accept my apology!

KRIS
Apology accepted. Now please, explain your position.

PAT
But of course. When people base their voting decisions upon their personal worldview, they are harming society as a whole. They are putting their own personal interests above and beyond the greater good.

KRIS
The greater good, you say?

PAT
Yes, my friend, the greater good. That which benefits everyone, that which rises above the petty concerns of individuals and benefits society as a whole.

KRIS
Interesting.

PAT
Oh, it’s much more than interesting, my friend, it’s essential! We must stop thinking of ourselves as individuals, and start thinking collectively! We must make sacrifices in order to benefit everyone equally!

KRIS
That certainly sounds reasonable.

PAT
Reasonable, indeed! Now do you see the folly of your worldview, you poor, deluded soul?

KRIS
Well, no. No, I don’t. And honestly, I am having a hard time believing that you are not trying to sound condescending.

PAT
Again, I apologize! But as I mentioned before, these matters are too important to act blasé about them! We shouldn’t sink to the level of the animal and base our decisions on creature comforts alone…

KRIS
Alright, that’s enough of that. I have listened to your point of view, the least you can do is listen to mine.

PAT
No need to be rude about it, my friend. Please, state your case.

KRIS
Well, Pat, I didn’t just wake up one morning with my own personal worldview. It’s something I have developed over many years, through many long hours of study and personal reflection. And frankly, I resent your implication that this worldview is somehow shallow and deluded.

PAT
I didn’t mean to be insulting, Kris.

KRIS
Right. You keep saying that, so you obviously believe it to be true.

PAT
Obviously. I just think you should be less self-centered when it comes to your political views.

KRIS
OK.

PAT
You should think of the greater good, what is best for the most people, when you choose a candidate.

KRIS
I suppose it’s hard to argue with that.

PAT
Indeed it is, my friend, indeed it is.

KRIS
Indeed. I just have one question for you, Pat. Who gets to decide what constitutes the greater good? Where should I go to find out what the greater good actually consists of? Who should advise me on how to act on behalf of the greater good?

PAT
Well, Kris, I’ll tell you what I think:

 

(CURTAIN)

ECHO CHAMBERS (AND HOW TO BREAK OUT OF THEM)

SOMEWHERE ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

A: “Hi everyone. I am a member of (minority group). I would like to talk about my experiences as a member of (minority group). I would like to hear about the experiences of other members of (minority group).”

B: “Hi, A. I am B. I am also a member of (minority group). My experience has been [etc].”

C: “Hey guys, I am also a member of (minority group). My experience has been [etc].”

D: “I am not a member of (minority group), but I can tell you: you guys have got it all wrong!”

A: “Excuse me, D, um, you’re not really adding anything to this conversation. You don’t really know what it’s like to be a member of (minority group), so don’t pretend like you do. If you’d like to listen to us, that’s fine. We encourage that, actually, but please refrain from making comments that don’t further the discussion.”

D: “OMG you are racist! You hate (majority group)! I can’t believe you are treating me this way! I was just trying to say that people in (minority group) and people in (majority group) are exactly the same, and so are their experiences! There is no difference! My experience of life is exactly like everyone else’s, even people who are different than me!”

A: “Maybe if you’d just shut up and listen to us, you’d see that there are in fact differences in the experiences of people from (minority group) and people from (majority group). I agree, people are all basically the same, but our experiences aren’t.”

D: “I can’t believe how terribly you’re treating me! How dare you have a conversation where I am not the center of attention! You are a racist! I am appalled!”

B: “A, please block this person, so we can continue our conversation.”

C: “Yeah, as long as D is here, we’re not getting anywhere.”

D: “I am being discriminated against because I am a member of (majority group)! OMG I can’t believe you guys! You are such hypocrites!”

A: “…and blocked.”

B: “Good.”

C: “Great.”

 

D, enraged and genuinely offended, takes his imagined mistreatment to his own forum:

D: “OMG you guys! Seriously! (Minority group) is racist! They wouldn’t let me in their discussion about what it’s like to be a member of (minority group), and I was totally trying to contribute to the conversation you guys!”

E: “Typical. They talk about ‘discrimination’ and then discriminate against us. Hypocrites!”

F: “Hurr durr shoulda gave a trigger warning!”

G: “You invaded their ‘safe space’, huh huh.”

D: “[South Park clip]”

G: “Hahahahaha that is so sweet!”

H: “Um, guys, I read that conversation, and D was kinda, well, being a dick. D just kinda butted in with something that didn’t have anything to do with what they were talking about, then wouldn’t shut up when they asked him to. I eavesdropped on the conversation, and I learned some new insights about what it’s like to be a member of (minority group.)”

E: “But they wouldn’t let you in the conversation?”

H: “I didn’t really have anything to add. I just wanted to listen.”

D: “OMG you are such a pussbag you stupid pussbag! I was totally making a good point about how racist they are, and you come in here all ‘look at me, I am sooo tolerant of others and politically correct, ooh, I’m so nice to everybody’. Pussbag!”

G: “Huh, huh, regressive leftist, huh, huh.”

D: “[South Park clip]”

E: “This is a common occurrence among those individuals whose misguided notions about ‘equality’ lead them to self-loathing practices such as the one so pitifully illustrated here. It is obvious to anyone with any sort of moral sense that all conversations should be open to everyone, and that reason demands that all discussions remain open to all people, no matter how offensive their point of view may be. Forsooth, ’tis a sad day indeed when the so-called ‘liberals’ and ‘intellectuals’ in our grand society forsake their own will in a futile attempt to crawl across the desert of ‘political correctness’ to reach the elusive and illusory oasis of ‘multiculturalism,’ which everyone knows is a false idol only fools seek.”

F: “That is soooo deep, dude.”

E: “Thanks.”

G: “[Meme]”

H: “I kinda think you guys are blowing this out of proportion.”

D: “[South Park clip]”

G: “TRIGGER WARNING! Hahahahaha!”

E: “You are so misguided, H. Those people in (minority group) are all pathetic. They create an echo chamber where only their own views are allowed. They exclude all other viewpoints. And you are pathetic for your idiotic pandering to their blatant assault on freedom of speech.”

H: “Well, they were talking about something we as members of (majority group) don’t have any experience with. I mean, come on. None of us are professional baseball players. If a group of professional baseball players were talking about their experiences as professional baseball players, would any of us have anything to contribute to the conversation?”

G: “But there are professional baseball players from (minority group) and (majority group).”

H. “…yeah, but that isn’t really the point.”

D: “[South Park clip]”

E: “But you have to work very hard to become a professional baseball player. You don’t have to do anything but be born to be a member of (minority group).”

H: “That isn’t the point, either.”

F: “[Meme]”

H: “Look. All I am trying to say is that different people have different life experiences. And personally, I find it enriches my own life to learn about what life is like for people who are different than me.”

E: “You have done nothing but allowed yet another anti-intellectual echo chamber to flourish. This is why ISIS exists.”

H: “What?”

F: “Regressive leftists are the real terrorists.”

D: “[South Park clip]”

G: “Echo chambers are bad, mmmkay?”

D: “Hahahahaha”

E: “Echo chambers do not produce anything of value to a rational society. They are the antithesis of rational discourse, and they contribute to a society where everyone must be pampered and treated as if they were special little snowflakes whose opinions are priceless gems that adorn the tiara of that syphilitic whore called ‘liberalism.’”

F: “Dude, that is sooooo deep.”

E: “Thanks.”

H: “Guys, speaking of ‘echo chambers,’ has anyone else noticed that I am the only dissenting opinion here?”

E: “Yes, but D, in his infinite wisdom and patience and respect for rational discourse, in the hopes that true freedom of speech will not perish from our illustrious  society, allows wildly deluded people like you to comment here as well. I salute D in his continuing use of intentionally offensive words, despite the fact that he knows better ones, and furthermore if I want to tell a member of (minority group) or (minority group) or even (minority group) that we are all human and that my experiences are exactly like theirs and if they don’t think so they are stupid then I’m gonna, and if I want to make fun of trigger warnings traumatized people ask for I’m gonna, because while I am not a licensed psychiatrist I know that what is best for me is best for everyone.”

D: “I agree with E. We are right. I was totally not doing what you said I was doing to those racists who excluded me from their conversation you guys.”

G: “I am sorry you had to go through that, D.”

F: “You’re all wet, H.”

E: “Guys, don’t be too hard on H. One day, he will see that we are correct in our arguments, for we, my friends, are guided by Reason. Reason is the only thing that guides us, not these piddling self-interested petty little discussions conducted in echo chambers by pathetic fools who cling to antiquated notions of identity politics and rape rational discourse with the foolhardy and bittersweet poison they call ‘political correctness.’”

F: “You are the smartest person alive.”

E: “Thanks.”

 

H, tired of being berated, returns to the previous discussion, reading silently.

A: “…well, that was a nice discussion, guys.”

C: “Yeah, after we got D out of here.”

B: “I don’t understand why people like that have to butt in all the time.”

A: “People like what? You mean members of (majority group)?”

B: “No, not all members of (majority group) are like that. But some of them are, and man are they annoying.”

H: “Hey guys, I am a member of (majority group), and I have been following this conversation. I hope you guys don’t mind. I learned some things today that I would not have learned otherwise, and my worldview is now a little wider. Thank you for that.”

A: “That’s cool, H. You’re welcome!”

C: “Glad to have you.”

B: “Nice to meet you!”


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New 9/11 Conspiracy Theory (that has as much basis in reality as all the other ones)

Osama Bin Laden was, in the early 1980s, an obsessive Wham! fan. When Wham! broke up in 1986, Bin Laden became deeply disillusioned with the world, particularly the western world. Despite his being a member of a very wealthy Saudi family, the breakup of Wham! solidified Bin Laden’s latent convictions that the west was evil, selfish, and who did they think they were, anyway, leaving the best dance-pop group ever to pursue a solo career?

Osama Bin Laden, following his post-Wham! breakup disillusionment, turned to religion, specifically an anti-west brand of radical Islam. Somewhat coincidentally — it is unclear whether Bin Laden ever sent fan mail or other correspondence to either Andrew Ridgeley or George Michael prior to 1990 — George Michael’s debut album “Faith” was released in 1987, one year before Bin Laden’s “faith” prompted him to form Al-Qaeda.

George W. Bush was widely criticized by many following his simplistic public statement following 9/11, that “the terrorists hate our freedom.” This was considered a grossly oversimplified explanation for Al-Qaeda’s motivation for the attack by many, namely those people who understand that the Middle East is not just one big country, but what these smarty-pants libtards failed to realize is that Dubya was quoting Osama Bin Laden almost directly in that statement. It was just a fairly dated quote:

In 1990, following the release of George Michael’s second album, “Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1”, Bin Laden — who had hoped that such a “lame” and “dumb” album as “Faith” would prompt George Michael to ditch his “stupid” solo career and rejoin Andrew Ridgeley in Wham! — wrote an angry letter to George Michael which contained the sentence “I HATE YOUR FREEDOM” in all caps. This letter was intercepted by the government, as by this time Bin Laden was making a name for himself as a radical Islamist, and for reasons unknown, the connection was only made over a decade later that Bin Laden had been talking about the song “Freedom ’90” from the aforementioned album, and not “freedom” in general. This was discovered after the rest of the letter was reread: Bin Laden had mentioned in the letter that he felt the lyric “all we have to see/is that I don’t belong to you, and you don’t belong to me” went against his radical interpretation of Islam, which says that wives are in fact the property of their husbands.

Also, none of this is true. I am making fun of conspiracy theorists.

Hopefully you realized that from the outset.