Sunday Poser — Willful Ignorance

For this week’s Sunday Poser, Sadje wants to know…

Do you believe that humans have brought about climate change or is it just false news/hoax?

Anyone who denies that humans have contributed to climate change is guilty of willful ignorance. To think that climate change isn’t real or is a hoax requires the dismissal of facts and the denial of science.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that rising temperatures are pervasive and striking. Thermometer records kept over the past century and a half show Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius), and about twice that in parts of the Arctic. The average temperature of the Earth is rising at nearly twice the rate it was 50 years ago.

But climate change encompasses not only rising average temperatures, it also manifests itself in extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a range of other negative impacts.

All of these changes are emerging as humans continue to add heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. And nothing, other than the rapid rise of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, can fully explain the dramatic and relatively recent rise in global average temperatures and the increasing association between climate change and more frequent storms, floods, and wildfires,

Global warming and climate change have been the subject of a great deal of political controversy, especially in the U.S. But as the science becomes clearer and consensus grows impossible to ignore, debate should be moving away from whether humans are causing climate change and toward questions about how best to respond.

Bits and Pieces — May 29, 2023

Just a few bits and pieces that I thought I might share with you today.

The Knowledge Paradox

“As modern humans, we have access to more knowledge than anyone, ever. Even the poorest, most uneducated person has more quality information available to them today — in public libraries and on the internet — than the richest scholar with packed mahogany bookshelves from bygone eras. And yet, paradoxically, deliberate ignorance has become one of the biggest threats to our fragile democracies. In the past, we needed to worry about uninformed voters, those who didn’t know much about politics. These days, we need to worry about the much more dangerous misinformed voters who are often wrong, but never uncertain.”

Brian Klaas, American political scientist and contributing writer at The Atlantic.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Of Course

A Florida teacher is under investigation by the state’s Department of Education after she showed her students an animated Disney movie that has a gay character.

The fifth grade teacher, Jenna Barbee, screened the comedy-adventure Strange World, a movie that tells the story about a family of explorers, to give her fifth-graders a break after exams. One parent, who happens to a member of the Hernando County School District, objected to the film’s inclusion of a gay character, which she said constitutes illegal “indoctrination” under state law.

Barbee said the movie focuses on humans’ relationship to the environment, which was why she chose to show it to her class after a section on ecosystems, plants, and animals. She said a subplot about a boy having a crush on another boy never crossed her mind before screening the film.

A spokesperson for the school district said, “While not the main plot of the movie, parts of the story involves a male character having and expressing feelings for another male character. In the future, this movie will not be shown.”

This situation is due to Florida’s “Parental Bill of Rights,” dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which was signed by Florida’s self-descibed “anti-woke” Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, last year. The law bars classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. In April, the Florida Board of Education approved an expansion of the ban to all grades.

Shannon Rodriguez, the county school board member who reported the showing of the movie to state education officials, said that the teacher “showed a movie that wasn’t sanctioned school material, thus stripping the innocence of my 10-year-old.” Seriously, Shannon?

Barbee had submitted her resignation a week before the incident due to “politics and the fear of not being able to be who you are” in the Florida public school system.

Of course, being Florida, this action should come as no surprise. It was in Florida where an art teacher was forced to resign after projecting on the screen a picture of Michelangelo’s 600-year-old sculpture of the biblical figure of David. I wrote about that here.

Whatever Happened to Live and Let Live?

Target, one of the largest American general-merchandise retailers, with more than 1,900 stores nationwide, has offered products celebrating Pride Month, typically in June, for more than a decade. But this year, Target will remove some of its LGBTQ+ merchandise from its Pride Month collection after facing backlash from conservative and religious organizations that threatened the safety of its workers.

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” Target said in a statement yesterday. “Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

Target said that customers have knocked down Pride displays at some stores, angrily approached workers, and posted threatening videos on social media from inside the stores. The Pride merchandise has been on sale since early May.

Target’s response to confrontations in its stores is taking place as state legislatures introduce a record number of bills targeting LGBTQ+ individuals. There are close to 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have gone before state legislatures since the start of this year, an unprecedented number, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

What the hell kind of insanity has infected the American right? Must people tear down displays of retail items they don’t approve of and threaten workers in the stores that sell those items? Can’t they just walk by them and focus on whatever items they wish to purchase that brought them into the Target store in the first place?

What is this going to lead to? Jews pulling down Christmas displays in stores? Christians boycotting stores that sell Hanukkah menorahs, candles, cards, and gifts? Oh wait, many Christians are already boycotting stores that don’t insist their workers, and even customers, say “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays.”

Why do companies like Target kowtow to the most radical, far right customers and groups that represent a minority of their shoppers? What’s the harm in selling merchandise and putting it on display for their customers who are interested? As an atheist, I’m not interested in buying religious goods, but I can’t imagine threatening employees who work in the store, much less tearing down the store’s displays. I just walk by and ignore all that.

America used to be known as the home of the brave and the land of the free. But these days, it’s become the home of the brazen and the land of the free as long as you’re white, Christian, straight, and for many, male.

Seriously, whatever happened to live and let live?

WDP — Public Figure

Daily writing prompt
What public figure do you disagree with the most?

The WordPress daily writing prompt today asks what public figure I disagree with the most. I’m responding to this prompt by also responding to Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt, where the prompt word is “absolute” and we have 80 words at our disposal. My response to Sami’s prompt is the answer to the WordPress prompt, as well,

Weekend Writing Prompt — Absolute Evil

“I am so scared that that egomaniacal, misogynistic, racist, antisemitic, white nationalist, dictator wannabe will win the Republican nomination and, ultimately, be re-elected President in 2024,” Sandy said.

“I am in absolute agreement,” Larry said. “Our American democracy is under a threat it hasn’t faced since the Civil War, yet these GOP lawmakers are behaving as if they have no knowledge of the history of our country or the world. How anyone can’t see what could happen is beyond me.”

(Exactly 80 words)

Lost in Translation

A friend of mine sent this to me in an email. I thought it was spot on and decided to share it with you, my WordPress community.

Democrats: We wish cops would stop killing minorities.
Republicans: Dems hate the police.

Democrats: Women should have the right to choose.
Republicans: Dems want to kill babies.

Democrats: LGBT people should have equal rights and not be discriminated against.
Republicans: Dems want to pervert our Christian nation.

Democrats: We need reasonable immigration policies.
Republicans: Dems want open borders.

Democrats: We kneel in protest of inequality.
Republicans: Dems hate the flag, soldiers, and America.

Democrats: We should wear masks and get vaccinated to protect others.
Republicans: Dems want to take away your freedom.

Democrats: We should have common sense gun control laws including universal background checks.
Republicans: Dems want to take away your guns.

Democrats: Feds should not be policing in cities.
Republicans: Dems are encourage rioting

Democrats: People should have a living wage.
Republicans: Dems want to give everyone free stuff.

Democrats: We want religious freedom for everyone.
Republicans: Dems want Sharia Law.

Democrats: Taxes should be used for the benefit of everyone.
Republicans: Dems want socialism.

Democrats: We need definitive action on climate change.
Republicans: Dems want to bankrupt our country to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist.

I’m looking forward to reading your comments. Please feel free to add other mistranslations.