Category: Memewar

Horseshoe Theory

So far, horseshoe theory has about the same track record as looking for your keys under the streetlight when you dropped them somewhere else. When the far-left fringe kills us, it’s going to be due to weakened antivax herd immunity and/or the rejection of essential food sources as “toxins.”

There is a third scenario in which I decide I’d rather stop breathing than listen to one more word about chemtrails, but I like to think none of you would do that to me.


Mark says: The actual antivax people I know in my life are all libertarian, so I sometimes think progressives get fingered unfairly for that. But the food issue: absolutely. Enjoy that GMO-free mass starvation.

Romie: By all means, Not All Progressives (or even most). Mainly, I don’t think there’s evidence that “the far left” is just as dangerous as “the far right” when it comes to domestic terrorism, even though earnest lefties keep warning that “it could be us next.” Kind of a waste of energy. There is a lunatic left, but it doesn’t much resemble a paramilitary.

Jacob: Well. The left believes in gun laws. ‘Cause we fear guns. So…that may be a small part of that. And our strength/weakness is our “I’m ok you’re ok” Cat Stevens mentality of our community.

Romie: It’s not just guns. The far left (and the right that’s not batshit) don’t do this:

Far right raises £50,000 to target boats on refugee rescue missions in Mediterranean” (Mark Townsend, The Guardian)

I keep running into variations of “both extremes are awful, the middle is good” where one extreme is whiny about pronouns and the other extreme fundraises in order to murder tens of thousands of fleeing civilians, predominantly women and children. I thought we’d figured out this “treat both sides equally” thing didn’t work when we allowed climate change denial to go mainstream, and then I thought we’d figured it out AGAIN after “Hillary and Trump are both bad, just in different ways,” but apparently no.


Nic says: When I was younger and first saw the (not particularly great) film Sphere, I was so infuriated at the end when they decide to forget everything because humans aren’t ready for the power. “No!” I shouted at the TV “Just think what you could do with it! Stupid Hollywood pat cop-out endings!” Then a few years ago I was on the internet and it suddenly struck me that I felt about the internet in the exact same way. It’s an amazing power that technology has bestowed on us and much as I’d love us to be, we’re just not ready for it. Wishing it away though is just a Hollywood fantasy, it turns out.

I just mention it here because I feel these kind of ‘theories’ would never reach any kind of critical mass without the internet linking vulnerable and impressionable people together in the absence of any kind of critical intermediary (add to this every ‘alt-right-read-fascist’ echo chamber message board and conspiracy hysteria). The internet has allowed amazing growths of expression and given voice to people who have been genuinely empowered in a way that benefits us all. But I wish we were able to handle the darker side of that power.

Pledge of Allegiance

I’ve been seeing a grumpy meme mocking “the far left” for their preoccupation with racism, as though it’s an insult invented by unpatriotic extremists to beat up Real Americans(TM). I seem to recall that every weekday for 13 years I was instructed to recite a loyalty pledge in which I promised, hand on my heart, to defend liberty and justice for all. All. Maybe you’re familiar with it.

These colors don’t run, y’all.


Gary says: That dog hunts! Always has!! What’s tough for some hunters is that they sometimes realize THEY are the hunted.

Jeff says: A mandatory loyalty pledge in any free society is odd, as is the entire notion of having to repeat any pledge daily, but the “liberty and justice for all” part is really good.

Gary: I don’t know that I would call it mandatory, although when children are required to recite the pledge, it might be called “brainwashing.” But to me, it is brainwashing in a good way! It’s only mandatory in the military, or of those who serve us in the government, as it should be.

Romie: I always thought it was kinda weird, and none of my schools bothered people who didn’t want to do it. I usually participated, although at different points I dropped out certain bits (because my allegiance isn’t actually to the flag; because I believe in a separation of church and state; because the nation was divisible [I felt at the time, but now I take the Unionist point of view that the Confederate secession was never legally legitimate]).

I have a lot of sympathy for people who find the pledge sinister or alienating. However, speaking only for myself, I enjoy rituals and mantras. There’s something interesting about returning to the same set of words over and over again and finding that I understand them differently. Particularly when they’re words I share with a lot of other people.

Sharon: Seconding the enjoyment of rituals. I worry sometimes my daughter doesn’t get enough of them. She, like me, is a creature who enjoys habit.

Kathy: Hate is never good.

Bathroom Transphobia

Please excuse the indelicate language, but it’s strange for me to hear arguments in favor of restricting bathroom access, because I can’t escape that they’re hallowing a room people shit in. A shit room. A room to contain and manage poop, so we don’t have to step in poop on the street or on the floor and get poop on our shoes.

People go into a bathroom, and they poop there. Sure, there are emergent properties, like “oh, I can collect myself, reapply makeup” (I like bathrooms), but fundamentally…poop.

I always thought keep-out private clubhouses were supposed to be cool. Now, I’m supposed to pass a rigorous initiation, come recommended as “our sort of person,” and my grand prize is being able to approach a mound of human feces? This is not the kind of exclusive access I dream about.

Deal With the Devil

If you make a deal with the Devil, you lose your soul, but also, you don’t get the thing you sold it for, because the Devil is the prince of lies.

In any case, while we’re trying to exorcise the old boy, I found a list of Satanic nicknames assembled by the Dictionary of American Regional English between 1965 and 1970, which you may enjoy deploying, such as Old Booger Man, Old Lutherfud, and Error.


Incidentally, Jimmy Squarefoot may stand out to you as it did to me: he’s an obscure mythological boar-headed biped from the Isle of Man, associated with the (also obscure) Manx Pig Legend. He’s not particularly a devil figure.


Jeff says: I wish this list included the locations for each name. Papa Legba, not mentioned, is a fascinating Vodou figure who isn’t a devil, but has often been mistaken for one. The Talking Heads and Pops Staples did a song about him, too.

Romie: Seconded on wishing there was a distribution map. I wonder whether they’d give you the expanded data if you e-mailed. Meanwhile, a copy of True Stories has been on my “want” list for a while; I’ve been holding out in hopes there’d eventually be a remastered version, but this is probably foolish.


Edward says: “Most Immediate Enemy” gets my vote for most apropos.


Angela says: Error is so perfect. BRB; writing sci-fi version of “Young Goodman Brown.”