This is Just What America is Now. Get Over It.
If you don't spend 6-8 hours a day online, it's entirely possible that you, like Senator Marco Rubio, haven't heard of Alex Jones or Info Wars.
This is Alex Jones on his show InfoWars:
He's famous for taking his shirt off (a lot), yelling in a voice that's somewhere between Father Coughlin's and Dave Grohl's, and waxing poetic about the government "putting chemicals in the water that turn the freakin' frogs gay." If for some reason you want more information, here's Super Deluxe's indie folk remix of his most conspiratorial rantings:
Anyway, earlier today, the Internet's favorite maniac took time out of his busy schedule of hawking useless dietary supplements and getting kicked off of Facebook and YouTube for being too racist to hijack an interview session Marco Rubio was having with the press. Jones came in shouting about how he's being persecuted and silenced by "big tech companies" and that these companies are "purging conservatives" from their (the tech companies') websites.
Rubio tried to respond calmly, but Jones pressed on shouting over the other reporters and insisting that his freedoms were being assaulted. Unable to ignore the shouting, foaming blob-man any longer, Rubio turned and said, "Listen man, I just don't know who you are." This was a critical error. As any city-dweller knows, if an insane person is shouting at you on the street, you never engage. This is one of the few instances in which ignoring the problem makes it go away.
Alex Jones responded with more vitriol, claiming Rubio was just pretending not to know about InfoWars. The climax of the interaction occurred after Jones called Rubio a "little frat boy" and placed his hand on his shoulder, at which point a secret service agent told Jones to step back. Jones, acting stunned, asked if Rubio was going to "get [him] arrested." Rubio responded point blank, "You're not going to get arrested. I'll take care of it myself."
As an increasingly annoyed-looking newswoman tried to ask Rubio questions about online regulation, Jones continued to hound everyone who would listen, blabbering about how "the Democrats are raping the Republicans [and] raping InfoWars." No one thought to ask him what this means. Eventually, Rubio walked away from the press briefing, saying "we gotta go to the committee, you guys can talk to this clown."
In the end, we're left with more questions than answers. Here are a few of them:
-Is Alex Jones insane?
-Does Alex Jones have a parasite eating the inside of his brain?
-Is it contagious?
-Is it from space?
-When he touched Marco Rubio, did he infect him with said parasite?
-Is Congress in danger of being infected with space parasites?
-Is this the end of America as we know it?
Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Inked Magazine, Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. -- Find Matt at his website and on Twitter: @mattclibanoff
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Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.