FLAILING: Smoke gets in our blue tribe's eyes!


The spectacular dumbness, it burns: According to disconsolate experts, it's true among all human tribes at times of partisan warfare.

Because it's true among all such tribes, it's also true within our own tribe:

It's very hard for us to see how dumb we actually are.

The spectacular dumbness, it burns! The smoke from the dumbness gets in our eyes, and leaves us with clown shows like this:

Florida parents upset by Michelangelo’s ‘David’ force out principal

The link takes you to what passes for a news report in the present-day Washington Post. If you read far enough into the pseudo-report, you'll see that reporters Bella and Natanson have no apparent way of knowing why the principal in question was pushed out of her job.

No matter! The reporters proceed with a favored stance, seeming to function as press agents for the former principal. But as we read the full report, we were most struck by the following fact:

The spectacular dumbness, it burns!

The dumbness is general in that report. The spectacular dumbness, it burns!

The dumbness in question is now general within our own script-obsessed tribe. To see the dumbness as it runs amok, we recommend that you read this attempt at an interview with the chairman of the Tallahassee school's board, as conducted by Slate's Dan Kois:

An Interview With the School Board Chair Who Forced Out a Principal After Michelangelo’s David Was Shown in Class

Blinded by allegiance to script—but also by smoke from spectacular dumbness—Kois seems completely unable to hear what the school board chair keeps saying.

(How is hearing affected by smoke? You'll have to ask Dan Kois!) 

For further evidence of this tribal breakdown, we invite you to read the comments to Kevin Drum's post on this topic, a post which carried this headline:

BREAKING: Unbelievably trivial story somehow becomes national news

Commenters fought back against Drum in age-old tribal ways. The spectacular arrogance, condescension and dumbness! How those three qualities burned!

There are perfectly decent questions which can be asked about the creation of public charter schools like Tallahassee Classical. According to anthropologists, those questions will rarely be asked by our flailing tribe at this fraught point in time.

The arrogance involved in our own tribe's systems of true belief has been quite evident lately. We expect to explore this phenomenon next week.

In the meantime, we'll sell some statistics:

Within our own blue tribe, we may assume that Tallahassee Classical is one of those Florida redneck "white supremacy" joints. Who else would go to a school like this? Here are the actual data:

Tallahassee Classical, student race / ethnicity
White kids: 43%
Black kids: 35%
Hispanic: 9%
Asian ancestry: 8%
Two or more races: 4%

For the raw numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics, you can just click here.

According to the Post's report, three (3) parents complained. or at least semi-complained, about the Michelangelo caper. This allowed Bella, Natanson, Kois and those commenters to run all through the pea patch.

Based upon their report, the Post's reporters don't seem to know why the principal lost her position. Regarding the parents and the bare-naked statue, are you sure the parents who complained were the standard white supremacy types? 

No, it doesn't make any difference. But given what we know of the world, we'll suggest that you shouldn't feel certain.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Here within our own blue tribe, the spectacular dumbness, it majorly burns, and the arrogance may be even worse.


  1. "The spectacular dumbness, it burns!"

    Meh. We'd expect you to get used by now, dear.

    Your fellow liberal cult members are brain-dead; we know it -- and you know it, no doubt. Observe their idiotic antics and laugh. That's all we can do, at the moment.

    ...but, as usual, thanks for documenting this tiny portion of the recent liberal atrocities...

  2. That statue is bogus. David was a nice Jewish boy. He would have got dressed before meeting Goliath.

  3. Somerby is having Kevin Drum write his blog for him these days.

    Earth-to-Somerby: calling people dumb isn't media criticism.

    1. Calling the media dumb is media criticism.

    2. OK, they’re dumb.

    3. Name-calling isn't any kind of criticism:

      criticism definition: "the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work"

      alternative definition: "the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes"

      Even if you take Somerby's calling his readers dumb to be an expression of disapproval, where is the itemization of faults or mistakes? There is certainly no analysis of the media in today's post. There is no analysis of the left either, and no evidence of anything we've done wrong, except disagree with Somerby about those parents who are targeting schools over supposedly decadent art, like Michaelangelo's David (this isn't Maus we are talking about now).

      Somerby is lazy lazy lazy, and no, I am not pretending to engage in media criticism of his blog. He is a very lazy man, who wants to complain about the left but is too lazy to articulate any reasons.

  4. "Regarding the parents and the bare-naked statue, are you sure the parents who complained were the standard white supremacy types? "

    Does Somerby have any evidence they were not? He presents none. The demographics of the schools provide no information whatsoever about the three parents who complained about the statue.

    Somerby pretends the principal was fired for other reasons, yet he presents none. He has no knowledge that it wasn't the statue that caused the firing -- just his own speculation and speculation, even his own, is not fact. He just knows the news reporters must be wrong, without any specifics himself -- he is following Drum's lead and Drum himself doesn't know anything more than has been reported.

    Even a so-called contrarian needs some facts to support his contrariness. Somerby is rube-running. He is implying that the left is manufacturing its objections to censorship, that the right isn't as bad as has been claimed. But those parents did complain and the principal was fired. Somerby wants to pretend it is all a big coincidence, but Somerby presents nothing at all to back up his suggestion. Nothing. And that means Somerby is pushing his own story here, his own unsupported narrative, about lefty wokeness at a school in TN, where supposedly the presence of non-white students mean there cannot be nutjob parents and a principal being targeted by them.

    1. Carrasquilla knew that “once in a while you get a parent who gets upset about Renaissance art,” she told the Huff Post. But she never thought she would lose her job over it. (Bishop, the board chair, has insisted in various news outlets that there were other issues that more directly led to Carrasquilla’s forced resignation.)

  5. "But given what we know of the world, we'll suggest that you shouldn't feel certain."

    The only reason that Somerby doesn't feel certain is because the news reports said they didn't know whether the principal was fired over just this incident, or whether there were other contributing factors. Somerby wouldn't know that specific if it hadn't been reported for him to read. So, the press is obviously doing its job.

    Then Somerby suggests that those picking up on this story and objecting to yet another incident of banning by schools are wrong in their conclusions about the parent objections to the statue. He says maybe it wasn't the statue but someting else. Yes, there could be other contributing factors, unreported, but the statue was clearly part of the story. Given what we all know about what has been happening nationwide in a conservative vendetta against schools, based on our own experience, given what we know of the world (that Somerby apparently doesn't), yes the fieldtrip to view that statue was part of the problem because it was what parents complained about.

    This kind of "you don't know what you think you know" exercise is called gaslighting and Somerby, who wasn't there and doesn't know anything more than the press reported, is trying to convince his readers that we don't know what is obviously from the press reporting -- that parents got upset about kids going to see David, a work of art and not "grooming".

    1. Not a fieldtrip. They saw the statue in a book.

    2. That would have been a long field trip.

    3. There is a replica of David, supposedly one of two exact copies made:

      Ripleys Believe It Not! Museum
      19 San Marco Ave., St. Augustine, FL

    4. A fake David. O tempora! O mores!

  6. Statues such as David were created under commission by the church as religious art:

    "David was originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral, but was instead placed in a public square, outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of civic government in Florence, in the Piazza della Signoria, where it was unveiled on 8 September 1504."

    The religious aspect of statues such as David is perhaps lost on ignorant parents who notice only that David is naked, not David's religious significance and importance in The Bible.

    It takes a special kind of stupidity to make the national news this way. Somerby wants to call his readers stupid, but the idea that God loves a prude is special to FL these days, and yes, the parental objections tell us a lot about the parents trying to instill prudish body shame in their kids.

  7. Somerby still has not mentioned that DeSantis is now extending his ban on teaching about sex and gender to the higher grades, all the way up to 12th grade.

    Somerby pretends this is a non-incident and that the principal was fired for other reasons (presumably more legitimate, but he doesn't know what they were, if any). But this objection to viewing works of art because of nudity has been around a long time on the right, and it is totally in keeping with DeSantis's latest effort to extend mindless prudery to the highest grades.

    But we are not to object, because Somerby will call us all dumb dumb dumb. Equating art with smut goes back to the lyrics of Somerby's favorite musical, The Music Man, where Marion advocates "dirty books" like Balzac and the hero is a con artist. But yeah, sure, maybe the parents were actually concerned about something else -- just as DeSantis doesn't care about smutty statues and is just trying to own more libs and win the presidency, like Trump did by suppressing his own porn-star antics with hush money payments (which Somerby says are maybe for something else too).

  8. "Blinded by allegiance to script—but also by smoke from spectacular dumbness—Kois seems completely unable to hear what the school board chair keeps saying."

    Actually, Kois seems to be pressing the school board chair on his answers and not accepting his cover story at face value. That is the kind of thing Somerby kept complaining that reporters did too little of, in earlier blog posts. He kept saying that reporters, especially female ones, didn't press hard enough at press conferences, were too willing to accept answers without probing more. And Somerby has also complained that cable news hosts do not press their guests enough, do not follow up but just accept the answeers of their guests. But now Kois is pressing, is following up, is not letting the school board chair get away with telling his pat story, his own preferred narrative, but Somerby calls him scripted and dumb. A reporter cannot win in Somerby's world. Damned if you don't and damned if you do.

    1. Cont. from above:

      What answer did Kois get from the school board chair? First, the chair pretended that they didn't fire the principal. He says she resigned. But that is dishonest. Here is what he said beyond that:

      "We didn’t remove her. She resigned. She’s an at-will employee by contract, as are all our teachers. I went to her last week and offered her two letters. One was a voluntary resignation, and another a letter that said if she decided not to resign, I was going to ask the board to terminate her without cause. Without cause. We have the right to do that under the contract."

      So, they let her resign ahead of firing her, which they were definitely doing. That is perhaps called a forced resignation, but it isn't the decision of the principal to quit. Then the school board chair says the David statue incident wasn't discussed at the meeting where they decided to fire her, but yes, it did contribute to their decision. More weaselly denial and lack of honesty on the part of that chair:

      Does this exchange sound like good faith to you?

      KOIS: "So the statue wasn’t part of the reason the board forced her to resign?

      CHAIR: "That was an issue, along with many others. Look, she wasn’t surprised. She knew what was the purpose of our meeting. She had two questions: Have you talked to the whole board, and how long do I have to decide between the two letters? The meeting was five minutes long. It wasn’t like “Oh, my God! You don’t want me at the school anymore?”

      This is the evidence Somerby thinks suggests she wasn't fired because of the David incident. As the interview continues, Kois pins down the school board chair about the actual reason why the principal was fired. At first, the chair pretends it was about not sending out notices to parents, then he says that they don't teach that woke crap in their school, because they are a charter. He winds up saying:

      "Parents choose this school because they want a certain kind of education. We’re not gonna have courses from the College Board. We’re not gonna teach 1619 or CRT crap. I know they do all that up in Virginia. The rights of parents, that trumps the rights of kids. Teachers are the experts? Teachers have all the knowledge? Are you kidding me? I know lots of teachers that are very good, but to suggest they are the authorities, you’re on better drugs than me."

      Kois got to the truth of the matter by pushing against the school board chair's pat, semi-dishonest presentation of the issues. It wasn't about a missing consent form. It was because a teacher showed art in the classroom without first informing the parents it would be a naked David (as that statue is ALWAYS shown):

      "You’re operating from the wrong premise. The teacher mentioned that this was a nonpornographic picture, No. 1. The teacher said, “Don’t tell your parents,” No. 2. So the issue, Dan, isn’t whether children should see these pictures or not. "

      So, yes, this was about the picture (unnecessarily labelled nonpornographic) and about the parents who objected to it, the handful who thought that sending their kids to a charter school would exempt them from anything the parents disapproved of. And the school board did not stand up for the teacher or the principal but fired the principal (did the principal even know about it in advance?). But there were other issues too, which the board chair does not mention. Clearly there were political issues.

    2. Cont. from above:

      Somerby thinks this supposed lack of consent was a good enough reason to fire a principal and that Kois pushing back against the school board's pat superficially reasonable answers is scripted lefty nonsense. This reveals Somerby's position as well. He doesn't think that schools are places where children are educated. He doesn't think that principals should defend their teachers against nut-job parents who are ignorant about art, and he thinks that reporters should only push back when it concerns something Somerby disagrees with, not whenever they interview a slippery weasel like this guy who clearly doesn't want to tell anyone why they fired the principal, but wants to be seen as reasonable even when he and his board are not.
      Notice the regional pride expressed by the board chair, about the way FL is better than VA because they don't go for that CRT crap in their state! What about the parents at that charter who might expect their kids to be taught that CRT stuff (presumably an accurate racial history, not grad level legal theory)? Don't they count for anything in FL? Doesn't Somerby care about them either?
      I can imagine Somerby explaining that "This isn't Viriginia, we're in Baltimore now. We don't go for any of the CRT crap here." While his poor black students languish in neglect as their white teachers keep their eyes shut and their ears covered when anyone mentions race. Does Somerby really think that has anything to do with education?

    3. Somerby says:

      "According to the Post's report, three (3) parents complained. or at least semi-complained, about the Michelangelo caper. This allowed Bella, Natanson, Kois and those commenters to run all through the pea patch."

      This is otherwise known as reporting. Yay for pea-patch running. Without these reporters, Somerby and his ilk might be able to pass this off as a matter of a careless principal skipping a consent form, for which she was understandably fired, because we all know that the main job of principals in schools is to mail out forms to parents.

      Is Somerby for real? Or is this what passes for media criticism in the South? And is Somerby a regular guy or is he another example of those bigoted assholes who are currently attacking teachers and driving them out of the profession with specious laws that make it impossible to tell whether you are adhering to their wishes or not?

      Teachers and principals living in fear that forgetting a consent form might cost them their jobs -- because nutjobs on school boards are terrorizing the profession in order to implement strict no-nonpornographic picture rules. Uh, huh. That makes a lot of sense. And all of this so that a jerk like DeSantis can run for president by owning him some libs.

    4. Michelangelo caper? Is showing famous art to kids a crime now? Somerby’s language suggests it is.

  9. I think the principal was fired for defending her teacher.

  10. “Scripted”. The go to cliche from the guy
    who can’t stop writing “Trump Trump Trump

  11. I for one would be happy if the blogger here would drop the "woods are lovely dark and deep" in every post.. The passage from the Frost poem, lovely poetry that it might be, doesn't have much to do with the blogger's topics, as far as I can see. But more significantly, it has become extremely overworked and tedious.


    1. What dear Bob is quoting in his posts is not Robert Frost's poem per se, but the code phrase from movie Telefon, 1977. The phrase, if we remember correctly, was used to turn seemingly normal ordinary people into brain-dead maniacs.

      ...into liberals, as we would say nowadays....

    2. It figures that a Russian agent would know about that phrase. The full phrase is:

      "The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."

      If Somerby is truly referring back to that film, then perhaps he really is a Russian agent (like the people awakened using that phrase) and this is his secret giggle as he cons the rubes here by pretending to care about American politics or those beautiful, deserving black kids in our inner city schools. And then it would make sense that the ever-present Mao, first one here each morning, is Somerby's handler or quality control manager or puppetmaster.

      Hearing this from you, Mao, makes Somerby's activities seem a great deal more sinister.

      My alternative theory has been that Somerby is the poor schizophrenic soul who has been commenting here since the beginning, often with lower cap self-denigration, but lately with rows of "digby" and threats of violence. Such a person might grab a reference and find it meaningful, even when no one else does. Much like Somerby's obsession with The Lady with the Lap Dog and My Antonia and Wittgenstein. And perhaps that is why Somerby wishes to find commonality with Trump, two mentally ill nutjobs striving for the same cause -- Trump's enrichment.

      Here is the clip:


    3. The word awakened refers to Russian sleeper agents who are activated using the code phrase, not zombies.

      Remember [insert spy name] Miles to go before you sleep.

      It has nothing to do with being woke.

    4. This is how conspiracy theories are born.

    5. Thanks, Mao! I’ve never heard of Telefon. It has Lee Remick in it so I’ll find it and watch it. I ran across the movie Wild River on tv and just loved it and her.

    6. Mao wasn't giving us a movie review. Did you miss the significance of Somerby's quote in the film?

    7. @Cecelia 6:31 PM
      Whoa, because of Remick, not Bronson??

    8. But, Cecelia! Remick didn’t have a david! Bronson had one!

    9. Cecelia forgot who she is pretending to identify as, while laughing at Somerby calling liberals phonies.

  12. This sort screamed “sort of true thing that
    was blown up into a snarky story aimed at our usual customers.” And you what Bob
    and Kevin? Both sides do it and it
    happens all the time. And you know
    what else? You both know it.
    The way the Courts are bearing down
    on Trump for his usual games?
    That’s pretty novel, and you are
    Pretending not to notice.