What is a “Proud Boy” – my take

After yet another “run in” with a pack of “Proud Boys” on social media, I am finally writing this article. I “noticed” their existence some months ago, on a friend’s page, and (mistakenly) tried to have a calm, civil discussion with them. Only to see the word “cuck” thrown around (more on that later), be called every name in the book and then some, prior to my simply blocking them. So I began to research.

First, what is a “Proud Boy,” you ask?

A “Proud Boy” is a member of a men’s organization that exists in the US, Canada, and the UK, founded in 2016 by one Gavin McInnes. I didn’t know who he was either, so after digging around, I discovered he was the co-founder / commentator of “Vice Media.”

PBs is a “pro-Western fraternal organization” for men who “refuse to apologize for creating the modern world,” and they call themselves “Western Chauvinists.” http://officialproudboys.com/proud-boys/whoaretheproudboys/

For those following along, let me refresh your memory as to the definition of “chauvinist”:

  1. an attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex
  2. undue partiality or attachment to a group or place to which one belongs or has belonged
  3. excessive or blind patriotism

None of these are good, but when paired with the descriptor “western,” basically it means that they have undue partiality and blind loyalty to all things they define as “western,” whatever that means.

Moving on, this is what the PBs say they stand for:

Minimal Government (sounds good)

Maximum Freedom (yep that sounds good too)

Anti-Political Correctness (mostly a good thing, I don’t have a problem with being mindful of your words)

Anti-Drug War (not sure what this means, but I’m for the legalization of most substances)

Closed Borders (silly, why would we not allow legal immigration?)

Anti-Racial Guilt (so….sure, no one should feel guilty for who they are, but I’ll bet $1 they mean something different)

Anti-Racism (that’s good, racists suck)

Pro-Free Speech (1st Amendment) (obviously good)

Pro-Gun Rights (2nd Amendment) (also obviously good)

Glorifying the Entrepreneur (I like that)

Venerating the Housewife (um…….no sorry. Be a housewife if you want but that is not “better” (or worse!) than being a working parent. Do what works for your family and shut up about everyone else)

Reinstating a Spirit of Western Chauvinism (see definition above – also a nope)

So you see, they have kind of a weird foundation. But I dug deeper and learned about their founder. Oh, Mr. McInnes. What a mess. He co-founded VICE Magazine, which is fine to have a publication that likes to push boundaries if that’s what you want to do, but McInnes seemed to really enjoy barreling over the line in a tank.

For example: When a New York Press reporter asked McInnes what he thought about his neighbors in New York’s Williamsburg neighborhood, he responded, “Well, at least they’re not niggers or Puerto Ricans. At least they’re white.” (http://www.nypress.com/vice-rising-corporate-media-woos-magazine-worlds-punks/)

He later said: “I don’t want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/28/style/the-edge-of-hip-vice-the-brand.html)

(And the explanation of why there is no “white” culture, and how “white” is essentially an oppressive social construct, is a post for another day. Suffice it to say here, this is not a thing and it is racist as hell.)

If you can believe it, it gets worse. If he isn’t an outright Holocaust denier or minimizer, he sure defends them, saying: “Like at one point, the [Yad Vashem] tour guide goes, ‘You know, and there are people who think that this didn’t happen.’ And I felt myself defending the super-far-right Nazis, just because I was sick of so much brainwashing. And I felt like going, ‘Well, they never said it didn’t happen. What they’re saying is that it was much less than six million and that they starved to death and they weren’t gassed.’” (http://www.canadalandshow.com/rebel-media-star-gavin-mcinnes-has-theories-on-jews/)

And then he says: “Wasn’t the Treaty of Versailles, wasn’t that disproportionately influenced by Jewish intellectuals?” (http://www.canadalandshow.com/rebel-media-star-gavin-mcinnes-has-theories-on-jews/)

Don’t forget about the video McInnes made on Rebel Media called “Ten Things I Hate about Jews,” which was later retitled “Ten Things I Hate About Israel” ! That was a good one too. Or not.

There is a lot more, but no one wants to write (or read) about that stuff. It is horrific, and it is why a lot of Jews like myself still carry their passport around on a daily basis. Just a hop skip and a jump back to rounding us up, right?

So here is the deal: I have no problem with male fraternities. That’s cool. I DO have a problem with antisemitism, blind nationalism, and chauvinism – in any form. So, if YOU are a member of the PB, you can hang out on my friends list for a bit, but don’t for a SECOND think I won’t call you out if you start spewing nonsense on my page. And go research your founder, and really THINK about the PB’s “principles.” I am not saying that there aren’t PB members that are probably good people and have no idea of the origin of their “club” and what it really stands for – so educate yourself.

You certainly cannot be both a PB and a Constitutionalist.

She’s baaaaack!

Ok, so maybe I haven’t blogged lately. In…4 years or so. In that time I’ve:

-Switched to a new (amazing!) firm

-had a baby (who is now 2.5)

-Made some awesome new friends

-Taken on the defense of my best friend against an organization we were both members of, in Federal Court in the Western District of Washington.

[LOUD REWINDING SOUND]

You did what now?

Yeah. I did. On a contingency basis, even. Here is the link to our public page if you want to check it out: Jobie Truth

The summary is as follows: Heidi Yoast Pink, the brains behind Pink Power Printing (PPP), started her shop as, essentially, a hobby to bring affordable, fun designs to the Masonic Youth in the Washington State area. What started small has become her full time business.

The actions of JDI you will read about here have impacted that business and is putting Heidi’s entire livelihood at risk. For some reason, Job’s Daughters International has decided that showing your affiliation and pride in your organization is “trademark infringement.” JDI is now engaging in a very expensive and what will prove to be a lengthy lawsuit against PPP. Specifically, JDI is suing Heidi for making shirts that say “Miss [STATE] Job’s Daughter [YEAR]” and “Job’s Daughters Bethel No. [#], CITY, STATE”, which were all ordered by Miss Committees or Bethels, respectively.

Clearly, they have not done any due diligence or fact finding before jumping the proverbial gun right into expensive litigation that Heidi, MANY supporters within the order, and most importantly, Heidi’s attorney believe will NOT go favorably for Job’s Daughters International. The fun, one-of-a kind custom hoodies etc created by Pink Power Printing are like a unique name tag. They have personalized titles, offices, years etc. These are a way for members to show allegiance and excitement for their office & organization. These custom, one of a kind creations are not representative of a trademark, not official, clearly designated as not official, and are not created with any such intent. They are carefully crafted and NOT mass produced. PPP does not make a profit on these items.

JDI is alleging that the members of JDI are confused and do not know that PPP is not representing JDI or any company they have contracted with to provide items for their members. JDI alleges unfair competition, but how can that be when their official supplier WILL NOT make the custom items PPP does? JDI’s official supplier is a jeweler and although their 3rd party contractors offer basic bulk garment printing they do not offer specialty screen printing, mixed medium printing, customization, glitter printing, metallic printing, etc. (this is documented). Keep in mind, using 3rd party contractors always incurs a higher total cost, and potential loss quality control. Heidi and PPP must now answer this ridiculous litigation, at a very high cost. Litigation retainers are not cheap, and, if the case goes to trial, the cost could be astronomical. The case number for this case is: 2:16-cv-01573-RSL in the US District Court of Western Washington / Seattle.

So happy reading. As my blog frequently fixates on what I’m doing in my life, there is going to be a LOT of JDI on here. Welcome back!

Of All the Problems in the World, you’re worried about Atheists?!

The Burbank Leader recently ran an opinion piece entitled In Theory: Shunning the idea of an atheist-in-law. I knew before I even clicked the link that the piece was likely a waste of ink. It was, but let me give you a little taste. The “expert” opinions below are in response to the question of “how would [you] react if a member of [your] immediate family told [you] they were going to marry one of the following: an atheist, a gun owner, someone who had not attended college, someone of a different race, a born-again Christian, a Republican, a Democrat or someone born and raised outside the U.S.?”

First, I’ll just give you the real answer up-front. If someone in my immediate family did any of these, the only reaction I’m entitled to have is to be happy that my immediate family member has found their match, and to be happy for them. THAT’S IT. I don’t care who or what they are (ok, serial killer may be an issue. I’m not partial to succubi, either). But you know what the overwhelming response was? Essentially, it was “all that stuff may raise an eyebrow, but I can’t nevah allow no atheist into mah family!”

Let’s just start you off with an “educated” opinion:

“I would agree with those families who oppose bringing an atheist into the tribe. Atheists do not hold our values, and since they dismiss the progenitor of all pertinent values, I can only imagine an ongoing massive headache and heartache.”

Rev. Bryan Griem
Montrose Community Church
Montrose

“Our” values are the “progenitor of all pertinent values”?! Are you kidding me. Rev. Griem? Are you saying that, prior to the inception of the Christian religion, the world was populated with pillaging marauders with no “pertinent” values? (Ok, there were some pillaging marauders, but there are today, too – and some of them are even of the Judeo-Christian persuasion.) You are well aware, sir, that the civilizations of Greece, ancient Egypt, and Mesopotamia, where around 1772 BCE Hammurabi set forth his legal code, had very advanced ethics that very closely mirror those found in the Christian Bible. Hammurabi’s Code was the first written legal code we now know of, and you’re telling me there were no “pertinent” values before the Christian Bible was written?

How about Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics? What was that? Aristotle spends an entire volume fleshing out Plato’s original question of how men should best live. In his discussion of practical ethics, Aristotle contemplates good living AND how to create good living. All of this goes on approximately 350 years before Christ was even born! Aristotle does an excellent job of exploring how one should live in a virtuous and good manner.

And what about the Pre-Socratic Philosophers? Heraclitus, the Milesians, Hesiod, Democritus – the list goes on, and each and every one of them explored the idea of goodness, and living a better life among his fellow humans.

Sorry Rev. Griem, as far as “pertinent values” go, your Christian Bible doesn’t quite get us there. After all, no other ancient text of values or ethical exploration encourages us to beat our children, keep slaves, and take our brother’s wife as our own if something happens to him! We also don’t follow the Bible’s edicts regarding slavery (Lev. 25:44-46), intolerance of religious pluralism (Deut. 5:7, Deut. 7:2-5, 2 Corinthians 6:14) or of freedom of religion (Deut. 13:6-12), discrimination and racism (Lev. 21:17-23, Deut. 23:1-3), treatment of women, honor killing (Ex. 21:17, Leviticus 20:9, Ex. 32:27-29), genocide (Num. 31:15-18, 1 Sam. 15:3), religious wars, and capital punishment for sexual behavior like adultery and sodomy and for Sabbath breaking (Num. 15:32-36).

Even worse than this was the Rabbi’s quote:

“… a person, who publicly avows to not believe in God, has no belief in the order and logic of the world and has no hope for its positive future.”

“Now do you want your nearest and dearest relative to marry someone who publicly exclaims he or she has no hope for himself or herself or the world, or would you prefer someone who merely uses a different hope and belief path to climb the same mountain?”

Rabbi Mark H. Sobel
Temple Beth Emet
Burbank

Maybe the good Rabbi reacts so strongly because Judaism, unique among the “Judaic” religions, has a growing population of Jewish atheists. (See this Jewish Journal article – and this, from USA Today.) The USA Today article puts it most eloquently when it says “An individual who attends synagogue, participates in Jewish communal affairs, and contributes heavily to Jewish charities would undoubtedly be considered a very fine Jew, without asking questions about whether or not that person believed in God.”

In fact, it was the tenants of Judaism itself that led me, a Jew, down the road to Atheism. I have heard Rabbis say, “God doesn’t care whether you believe in him or not. All that he cares is that you do the right thing.’ Our action in the world is much more important.” Similarly, after adding Jewish Studies as my minor at UC Davis, and studying Hebrew and even part of the Hebrew Bible in its original language, the message rang loud and clear – Judaism isn’t about what you believe, it is about what you do! And what a fantastic philosophy.

As far as not having hope – or believing in the “order and logic of the world…” well, I sincerely hope the Rabbi isn’t insinuating a belief in God gives one hope. What, exactly, does God do in the Bible? He quite literally tortures his followers, first by commanding Abraham to give up his only son (only to say, “just kidding!” when it looked like Abraham was actually going to do it, flooding out whole civilizations, burning cities, and then advocating for prejudice, cruelty, superstition, murder…the list goes on.

So what gives an atheist hope? The same things that give everyone else hope – life! Existence! Isn’t that enough? Isn’t the natural wonder of the world enough to hope for? I think Penn Jillette says it best: “Believing there’s no God means I can’t really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That’s good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.” Creating a better society – enjoying the beauty of nature – having fun – spending time with loved ones – isn’t that enough?! It’s enough for me.

So I’ll leave you with this:

“The word “holiday” comes from “holy day” and holy means “exalted and worthy of complete devotion.” By that definition, all days are holy. Life is holy. Atheists have joy every day of the year, every holy day. We have the wonder and glory of life. We have joy in the world before the lord is come. We’re not going for the promise of life after death; we’re celebrating life before death. The smiles of children. The screaming, the bitching, the horrific whining of one’s own children. The glory of giving or receiving a blow job. Sunsets, rock and roll, bebop, Jell-O, stinky cheese, and offensive jokes.

For atheists, everything in the world is enough and every day is holy. Every day is an atheist holiday. It’s a day that we’re alive.”

― Penn Jillette, Every Day is an Atheist Holiday

The Death of Reasonable Discourse

Here is a typical exchange on Twitter:

(Setting: started discussing open carry, and Disneyland’s policy on firearms – not sure how this showed up on my feed, someone re-tweeted, probably)

Me: Disney’s policy is no carry in the park, and they provide storage if you are worried about leaving it in the car.

@neur0atypical: Isn’t the best policy to leave ‘em in the gun-safe locked up at home in the first place?”

@neur0atypical: Not if you are road tripping and carrying for personal safety on the road.

@neur0atypical: Unless I’m going to a shooting range or out in the hills where nobody is around, I don’t need ‘em

Me: That’s great! When I’m driving across NV by myself, I need them.

@ursalette: I have lots of friends that drive around NV just fine.

@ursalette: Wow, you can tell you’re a lawyer.

Me: What does that mean? That I’m a model gun owner, I assume.

@ursalette “That you’re antagonistic and combative.”

 ….then the discussion evolves into them saying guns aren’t toys, to which I reply that that is an obvious statement, and not “anyone” can buy a gun, they have to take a written test and demonstrate knowledge of safety, and for CCW (open carry is illegal in CA) you are required to sit through many hours of class.

 @ursalette “I believe you’re referring to concealed carry permit, but I’m not in the mood for an argument.”

Me: Explains licensing requirements, says that requiring additional training may be a good idea, but I’m unsure as to how far we can go without violating the Second Amendment.

@ursalette: I agree w/caveats, but I don’t think you should try to make everyone agree w/you so aggressively.

Me: I don’t think you need to agree with me, all I’ve done is point out facts. I believe in clarity over agreement.

@ursalette “CA has some of the toughest gun laws in US. Take your case & plaint to Georgia. They need you!”

(I, having NO idea what that means, then make a comment about how reasonably people can’t get into politics without big money and connections.)

@ursalette: “Probably your personality”

Every single comment I made was related to existing laws, and how they function. Want to know what happened next? I get attacked:

@ursalette “I’m out, I have neither the time nor desire for someone who has yet to learn politesse of debate.”

Me: Something about not being able to handle disagreement.

@ursalette “Not disagreement. I was head of the debate team!” (Wow, really…)

They devolved into a snark-fest between the other two friends, forgetting that Twitter is a public forum:

@neur0atypical: “that lady just kind of went typical rabid gun crazy….”

@neur0atypical: “ya, I mean, who wants 2 deal w/the equivalent of a rabid dog…”

@neur0atypical: “Gawd, think about that, y’ve blown my mind. She’s over there earlier telling me she had 2 have 2 to drive through NV?”

@neur0atypical: “ppl drive thru NV all the time unarmed, I have friends who live there & have never felt the need 2 buy gun there. Crazy.”

@neur0atypical: “I guess u better get a gun then, b/c that crazy lady is armed & on the roads somewhere near u lol”

@neur0atypical: “Shit, she’s on the roads in our state, Run! Lol”

 ——————————————————————-

Terrifying, isn’t it? Half of the time, I have no idea what this woman is talking about. It is this kind of intellectual dishonest that is ruining our society. v o as me pointing out Disney’s very reasonable policies on carrying, where they know that people are going to be travelling, and they will have off-duty LEO visiting, so they’ve made arrangements for that. It ended with me telling them that I’m not trying to change their minds, just trying to point out their incorrect facts…and with them having an absolute melt-down and calling names.

Do I care? Not really. Not in a personal sense, anyway. What worries me is that this is characteristic of most social media discourse. Anyone with a reasonable, sane voice is shouted down, called crazy, and then blocked.

I’m not the only one noticing the phenomenon. Just a few days ago the Washington Post ran a piece entitled “Welcome to the death of civilized political discourse.”

The heart of the matter? Washington Post puts it perfectly:

“What’s bad — and getting worse — is the idea that people who disagree with you are idiots solely because they disagree with you.  Remember the phrase “Reasonable people can disagree”? Dead.  How about “disagree without being disagreeable”? Also, dead.”

The other scary phenomenon is what the WP article calls “Self sorting and redistricting.” Basically, people only want to associate with those who agree with them ALL THE TIME. We’re surrounding ourselves with “yes” men, and it is terrifying – and, I think, it is making us stupid.

So what’s the solution? You can’t hide in your ideological silo, and you can’t be offended when someone disagrees with you. No matter how intelligent you are, name calling and dehumanizing the other side tarnishes your own viewpoint, and, to be quite honest, makes you sound stupid. And I believe this is true for BOTH sides. I call people out on Facebook all the time for it, and I usually get un-friended or blocked. If that’s the case, they probably aren’t the kind of person I want to call “friend” anyway. Sorry, I won’t put up with that kind of discourse from either side. It isn’t helpful, it doesn’t move us forward on the issues, and it doesn’t promote any kind of progress.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy political satire – I do! But there is a difference between calling someone dumb or dehumanizing them and poking fun of current political events. So I’ll just leave you with the WP’s conclusion:

“Disagreement is good for politics. Demonization is awful.”

The Help for Students that Never Was

I almost got excited this week, readers. I saw that Elizabeth Warren had introduced the “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act,” and thought that finally I would be able to refinance my 8% private student loans into something close to the 4.5% my government student loans are locked in at. Listen, I don’t have a problem paying back my student loans – but why are lenders making this much money off of students? I’m not asking for 0%, but I’m asking for something like what I can get on a 15 year mortgage – something around 3%. They’d still make money! But I digress.

Warren’s bill looks great, until you get to the end.

When you get to Section 3, the section is entitled “Fair share tax on high-income taxpayers.” Wait, what? What is that doing in a bill that is supposed to help students? Is this woman actually alleging that allowing graduates to refi into a lower interest rate under a government program is going to cost the government money? By moving those loans from private to public, the government is going to make money off of the interest no matter what the rate is – and that is money they never would have received before! So they want to make money on top of their money? REALLY?!

I’m not a CPA and I hate working with numbers. But I see this bill throwing 30% around, and that’s not even funny when you consider what we already pay in taxes. Sure, only households that gross $1 million or more would be impacted, but why the hell are we raising their taxes to begin with?

Sure, our tax code needs some work. But if we want to work on it, sneaking tax hikes onto the back of a student loan relief bill isn’t the way to do it. We should sit down and discuss the tax code and figure out what we want to accomplish, and then figure out how to get there. But this? This seems like a trick that would ensure the bill would not pass, and then would give Warren a nice soapbox to stand on and scream that “Republicans don’t want to help students ahhhhhhh!!

Stop it, politicians. Just stop. This country is in trouble. We need to put our ideologies aside and have a real discussion about how to dig ourselves out of this nice hole that ALL politicians have helped to dig. Get it together.

You can check out the full text of the bill here.  Be warned, you’ll probably start yelling at the computer.

iOWest Level 1 – Paul Vaillancourt

After years of serving on the board of ImprovUtopia, I decided it was finally time to actually take an improv class for myself. So, I signed up for Paul’s level 1…

Thursday, June 12 was our first class. Within about 10 minutes Paul had us up and doing “stuff.” By the end of the night? He had us doing 2-person games and working on some basic improv principals. I’m not going to give them all away here, so you’ll just have to take the class!! And you should. I was super tired by 10:30, because I’m usually in bed by 9:30, but that’s ok – it’s only 7 weeks!

I really, really had a good time. I get to rub elbows with so many great improvisers at ImprovUtopia, and I’d really like to be able to actually play with these guys if the opportunity presents itself. I can’t wait!

Pin-Up Parade in the Park – Disneyland – June 1, 2014

One of my best friends, Missy Firestone (you may know her as Technicolor Cutie) is an amazing hair stylist and Queen of All Things Vintage. As you all have probably figured out, I’m more of a 5.11 cargo pants and tank top kind of girl…but Missy helps me look good!

I have also always loved going vintage shopping with her – whether I find anything for me or not, I love going through our vintage / vintage reproduction shops down Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank to see what we can find. Such a blast!

So on June 1st, our very own Pin Up Girl Clothing orchestrated a “Pin-Up Parade” in Disneyland, and Missy invited me. Not wanting to be left out of the dress-up fun, and since it was PUG’s event, I decided to head on down to PUG and find myself something to wear. Doris and Tiffany were SO, SO helpful in helping me find something to wear to the event, and Missy assisted via text message fashion show.

In the end, we ended up with the Harley dress in yellow. Missy helped me out with accessories, and we prepared to meet up at Disneyland! Luckily I had some ballet flats (Patagonia – had to sneak some hiker trash in there somewhere!) that worked perfectly with the dress.

This was also going to be Missy’s daughter Scarlett’s first time at Disneyland – and she’s 2, so we were prepared to hang out and people watch, which can be a fun change from running around like crazy all day.

We met up right outside the gates, so that Missy could help me out with hair. She put my little white scarf in, somehow created a curl in my hair (I told you, I’m pretty sure, despite her insistence to the contrary, that Missy is a magician!), and we were off! Too fun.

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We proceeded to walk around the park and hit a few of the meet-ups with the PUGs. Twice some random park-goers asked Missy to pose with them in a picture – AND ME TOO! It was so weird, because in my head I was sure I was in a t-shirt and jeans and couldn’t figure it out. Then I remembered I wasn’t! It was really fun and kind of awesome to have people actually see me, not just pass their eyes over me in an attempt not to take me out with their stroller.

All in all, it was a great day! Scarlett survived her first incredibly stimulating day at Disneyland…

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…and I got to meet some very creative, fashionable ladies. If the event happens again, I’m sure I’ll return…with a circle skirt made by me, perhaps?

Here is the group:

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I can’t dress that way every day, because I’m a corporate attorney for a large architecture/design firm, and that wouldn’t go over too well. But now I know I CAN do this on the weekends / for events and somewhat pull it off (with help, LOTS of help). I need to accumulate some accessories and figure out the hair/make-up part, but I think I can do it!

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(I’ve seen some snarkiness about “weekenders” around the web – I have to say these ladies showed NONE of that attitude. Hey, if you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you can dress however you want at work, that is amazing and I applaud you for it! For those of us stuck in corporate-land…well, let us have our fun when we can!)