The Grammar Police

It is my job to know grammar. I teach college-level English and I studied writing throughout my college and grad school careers. I even have a few books on grammar as it is necessary to know style and punctuation as a writer. However, I’m not the grammar police.

It has recently occurred to me that most people obsessed with grammar care less about saying something well than they do catching someone in a violation of the English language. They are superior little snots. Also, they are the type of people who would fastidiously avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. Their sentence are clunky because they have correct grammar, concision be damned. Then again, these are the people who obviously suck at math and take out their insecurities on others. Subscribing to a language dogma somehow makes them feel better about themselves as they are incapable of adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and solving equations. That would take real mind work and knowledge.

One important thing to note is the grammar-obsessed rarely teach English or writing. They’re often not even linguists, who actually take classes on this type of stuff. They are often rank amateurs who often don’t know what they’re talking about. They may even have a dangling modifier in their sentence and might not even know it.

Self-appointed grammarians, leave this stuff to the professionals. Thanks.

General advice: DO NOT ENGAGE. They are the type of people to put up a fight, especially if they’re wrong, because, the burden of proof’s on you. It always is. Christian Lander has some further advice in his post about grammar.

The Ultimate Rickroll

Yes, President-Elect Obama gave us the ultimate Rickroll at the end of 2008 with his choice of Rick Warren to do the Inaugural Opening Invocation. While I’m among the people not thrilled with this choice, I’m going to laugh at it and make the statement in a humorous way. Some people have already beaten me to the punch, especially the person who put together this video pastiche. Gays and lesbians can’t get married, but president-elects and evangelical ministers in ugly Hawaiian shirts can carry on with their bromances.

Definitely on my playlist for you, Mr. President-Elect, this Inauguration Day.

Weekend Reading

I didn’t go anywhere on Friday and television didn’t appeal to me. Even What Not To Wear failed to get my attention (and I love to watch Clinton and Stacy cattily tear people down before they build them and their wardrobes up). There’s also a new show on TLC about a wedding dress shop, to which I utter the Valley Girl phrase “Gag me with a spoon.” There must be something missing in my gay genome, but how much of the bridezillas and their mothers can any sane person take? Instead of giving this unreality show and much more episodes of What Not To Wear any more ratings, I read a few a couple of books this weekend.1

Barbara Ehrenreich, Bait and Switch
I’ve been going over Nickel and Dimed with my students in two of my classes this sememster. Anyone familiar with the premise of Barbara Ehrenreich’s best selling work knows about her undercover, first hand look at low paying blue and pink collar labor. In Nickel and Dimed, she actually worked at the jobs she covers in the book and she also discusses her co-workers and her bosses. In Bait and Switch, Ehrenreich takes the same approach with white collar professionals looking for work. The prospects, as Ehrenreich finds through empirical research (the same kind employed in Nickel and Dimed), are grim for those who “did everything right.”

A job search in What Color Is Your Parachute is described as a “full time job,” and this is the job Ehrenreich takes on for a few months (along with a negative cashflow). She observes that the out of work are encouraged to think of their job search in this manner, and she also points out the absurdity of this mentality.

As Bait and Switch progresses, the author meets various people in her research. Ehrenreich skewers those who prey on the hapless jobseekers (career coaches/motivational speakers, resume editors, and ministries seeking to give hapless job seekers Jesus instead of better job leads). One of the more entertaining parts of the books is when she tries to turn the tables on a career guru. On the other hand, she is more sympathetic to the professionals having difficulty finding the jobs they’re qualified for, only to get caught up in self blame.2

That insightful documentary The Corporation characterizes the typical corporation as a psychopath. The way that they have routinely reduced redundancies over the years (cutting jobs to maintain profits) is one example of psychotic behavior. Bait and Switch also provides insights into the how irrational companies have become with the pop psychologies and philosophies they couple with their hiring practices.

Bait and Switch is a definite must read for our economically troubled times. Barbara Ehrenreich continues to follow up on labor issues on her blog. Since some of her recent posts have covered topics such as law temp agencies and adjunct teaching, I can only hope for such a book from her in the future.3

Mike Jones, I had To Say Something
My cue was not to say anything, unless I had to, and I never had to.
Mike Jones, pg. 88

Of course, we all know the story of how Ted Haggard, that great megachurch evangelist who was brought down by Mike Jones, a Denver based masseur and escort.4 Jones’ revelation seemed so quick and sudden when it hit the news, but the recently published I Had To Say Something shows it was anything but. The decision to reveal cost Jones in many ways, a highly emotional process chronicled in his very fresh memoir.

Mike Jones gives much insight into what is was like for him to be an escort. Without giving away much of what’s in the book, Jones gives us a compassionate look at clients such as Art, a conservative Mid-western religious type who comes to him out of desperation. We do know who Art turns out to be, but Jones effectively keeps the secret until it is time to reveal the surprise.

Jones also shows us his family life and how that shaped him growing up. He does it without resorting to blame (a religious right ex-gay writer, on the other hand, would blame being a homosexual and being anything else deviant on their families). If you want more, read about it in the book.

You’ll definitely laugh, cry, and feel righteous anger when reading I Had To Say Something. As for the question of Ted Haggard being “completely heterosexual”5, I think Mike Jones provides a very definitive answer for that.


Footnotes

  1. I did log in an hour to watch Property Ladder on Saturday, but watching house flippers make tragic mistakes never fails to entertain me.
  2. I already hate Dr. Phil and those of the “blame the victim” ilk, but Bait and Switch made me hate them even more.
  3. I should be careful of such suggestions. In making a suggestion to the editor of Harper’s that someone should investigate low wage working conditions, Barbara Ehrenreich wound taking on the article about Merry Maids.
  4. The news media called him a male prostitute. I agree with Mike Jones. It’s a dirty term and I’d rather not use it.
  5. Ted Haggard claimed to have discovered he was straight after three weeks of reparative therapy.

A Last Supper: Folsom Street Fair

Here is an image for your Saturday morning viewing pleasure.

This ad for the Folsom Street Fair apparently angered some ex-gay and fundie activists. No surprise there. However, a blogger on Ex-Gay Watch was also offended.
As for the fundies (and the “no longer gay” closet cases), I wonder what offended them the most:

a. Jesus is black.
b. Jesus is gay.*
c. Jesus is surrounded by gay men, women, leather men, drag queens.
d. All of the above.

The poster on Ex-Gay Watch has a view that many gay conservatives and religious types hold. This writer is concerned about the appropriation of a sacred image, which is obviously Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Appropriation of this iconic painting as blasphemy is very superfluous. The real concern of this blogger is that the ad endorses “medically dangerous acts, its inversion of the values of faith, love and self-sacrifice.”

As much as I can appreciate his perspective, to waste energy taking exception to this image is an “inversion of the values of faith, love and self-sacrifice.” Jesus would would not be as concerned about this image as he would with the fundies, the ex-gays, and even the gayly pious. The people depicted in this photo are the unacceptable of modern society and even the mainstream gay community. Anyone familiar with the Gospels knows that Christ reached out to the outcasts and those the righteous and holy rejected. Somewhere along the line, modern Christians, even gay ones, have failed to follow Christ’s example.

*only an inference, nothing else.

Wanna See Something Really Scary

For the Friday afternoon spook out movie, I watched Jesus Camp, a documentary about evangelical children. Becky Fisher, the director of the summer camp, is one of those women who would make an excellent school teacher but instead uses her skills to teach children religious and political agendas they are too young to understand. The militaristic “prayer warrior” dance at the beginning of the film and footage of Fisher’s summer camp workshops is very spooky. Naturally, Hitler’s youth comes to mind, which Fisher goes through great lengths to debunk on her website.

The children who are the focus of the film seem like normal, likable children, so it is frightening to see them get caught up with the emotional, rally-like nature of the camp workshops, and then to watch them parrot the spiritual warfare rhetoric.

Brainwashing? Perhaps, but listen to what Becky Fisher has to say about it.

The fundamentalist adults believe the children are crucial to the future of fundamentalism and America, so Jesus Camp shows a children’s Crusade of sorts.

Nice children sometimes grow up to be mean, nasty adults. Let’s hope that’s not what happens to these kids.

Note: Ted Haggard is just a small part of the documentary when some of the children along with their minister visit his church. Of course, Ted Haggard’s words turn out to be prophetic as he jokes, “I know what you did last night. If you give me $1000, I won’t tell your wife!” Of course, Mick Jones knew what he did last night, and instead of blackmailing him, he went straight to the press.