There’s been a lot of good news lately, but I’m having trouble finding any humor in it.
The end of the Aunt Jemima pancake syrup brand is good news, but it’s hardly funny in itself. What might be funny would be if Aunt Jemima was replaced by a smiling Ward Cleaver. The humor is what we’ll have when we see what the new brand is. Maybe a glob of syrup with eyes and a mouth and a spoon feeding on itself? That might make me laugh if it were done tastefully.
It looks like Aunt Jemima will be followed by Uncle Ben, Mrs. Butterworth and the Cream of Wheat chef holding a steaming bowl of cream of wheat. That’s all positive, but being as these are all products of mega-corporations, I dread any new branding. Remember the Marlboro Man? They trotted him out to sell filtered cigarettes. Not blue jeans, not boots, but filtered cigarettes. There’s always some psychological hook intended. Look: a man, unquestionably male, smoking filtered cigarettes. You should, too. What will they try to do to get us eating pancake syrup consisting of high fructose corn? Madison Avenue will have to work overtime on that.
In other good news, DACA is back alive after the Trump administration tried to kill it, because John Roberts joined with the four liberals at the Supreme Court and ruled that the administration hadn’t been killing it according to the rules. You can’t just kill government programs willy-nilly, it turns out. You have to have reasons, and they have to be good reasons. As before, I dread the next step. What will the good reasons end up looking like? He’d say, “Foreign children brought here at an early age, who learn English and assimilate to American culture and values and principles, shouldn’t get to work here, or they will only make people like me look bad.”
In more good but unnerving news, the U.S. Supreme Court has seemingly prohibited LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. The ruling is very complex, perhaps because Justice Neil Gorsuch is surprisingly complex. Gorsuch says Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to biological sex and only biological sex. A classic conservative stance. But then, he goes rococo on that theme. It goes like this: Let’s say you have someone working for you who has presented as female and begins to present as male. You can’t fire the person based on that. Gorsuch says if the person had been read by you as male at the outset, and then came out as male, they wouldn’t have been fired. Therefore, firing the person for being transgender would amount to discriminating against someone for being female.
At no point does Gorsuch validate transgender people, at least not as far as Title VII is concerned. In his transphobic view, the person was and is a woman, but cannot be fired for expressing otherwise if a man can announce his masculinity and not be fired. If the person’s “sex” entered into the firing decision, that violates Title VII. It’s only about sex to Gorsuch, but the way he applies his misunderstanding lets transgender anti-discrimination rulings stand.
I see humor in that only because I’m a mathematician and I’ve taken courses in advanced mathematical logic from a certain constantly giggling, near-sighted professor who kept saying “The trick is to just turn the proof-tree upside-down! Hahahaha!” while his assistant (his wife), in dungarees, danced around and drew the proof-tree right-side-up and then upside-down for us to see side-by-side on the blackboard, all while laughing hysterically. I took that course twice. The exact same course. Voluntarily. It was rich.
To me, logic is inherently funny, as is its absence. No one should lose a job because of someone else’s ignorant logic.
I’ve learned to accept whatever reasoning justifies progress, equality or doing what’s right.
King County is now in Phase 2 of reopening from the coronavirus lockdown. I have no idea how that decision was reached. Yesterday we thought it would be another week at least, and suddenly the county’s application for Phase 2 was accepted. I don’t know what changed. It’s all good, though. I’ll take it.
Please, if you’re seeing this online, know that our vendors are getting back to selling the print version. Look for and support them. It’s been about three months of barely hanging on for them.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at drwes (at) realchangenews (dot) org
Read more in the June 24-30, 2020 issue.