Ever see The Room? If you haven't, you can get the gist of it by watching the 13-minute trailer for The Innocence of Muslims. The Innocence of Muslims is the “film” that's been causing all this ruckus in Syria and beyond. Both are mystifyingly terrible from plot, to acting, to cinematography, to editing, to sound, which makes sense because they're both schlocky C-films created by insane people whose only skill is conning investors out of life savings. They are not things to be taken seriously or given a thought other than “Man, I can't wait to recommend this to a friend just to piss them off.” Which is why it's so troubling this cinematic turd is being given the entirety of blame for the riots.
Was the film's trailer an inciting event, a match to throw on the bundle of twigs? Sure. Maybe. But that bundle had already been soaked through with kerosene (drone strikes), drizzled with gunpowder (American presence abroad) and, you know what, those twigs were just sticks of dynamite painted brown (inherent xenophobia that strong religious beliefs create). Any little spark would've done it.
Onto the roundup!
- It's impossible to quantify the cost of 9/11. There's the cold-hard numbers of casualties: the 2,977 direct victims, the 19 hijackers, the lives shortened from breathing noxious WTC dust, the 3,177 (and counting) coalition deaths in Operation Enduring Freedom, the many wounded, the post-traumatic stress disorders, the beatings and family violence stemming from said PTSD, the post-war suicides and the countless citizen and insurgent deaths in the Middle East. But there's also things you can't calculate, like the implementation of legally-murky laws, how we watch movies and the constant idiocy by people like Fox News complaining that Obama's was “leaving God out” of this year's commemoration.
- One easy-to-understand cost: Since it was opened in January of 2002, eight prisoners died within the confines of Guantanamo Bay. The 9th died last week.
- Oh, this is fun: Ohio state representative Jim Buchy – one of those old white guys trying to make their name in the anti-abortion arena – admitted that he's “never thought about” why a woman would ever want to get an abortion. Because, you know, “he's not a woman.” But he still has plenty of opinions!
- In Yemen, a car bomb intended to take out the country's defense minister left him unscathed but killed seven bodyguards and five civilians. The bombing was thought to be in response to news that al-Qaeda's second-in-command – seemingly the 18th person to take on that designation in the past year – was killed in a drone strike.
- Last Saturday in Afghanistan, seven children and two adults were killed in a suicide bombing outside NATO headquarters. This story continued to get more tragic this week though as it was learned that the suicide bomber was himself a teen and four of the murdered kids were part of Skateistan, a program that tries to boost kids' confidence and gets them off the streets through skateboarding.
- In Kansas, a birther politician tried to get Obama's name removed from the state's presidential ballot due to the whole Kenyan-birth/Obama's-not-a-natural-born-citizen conspiracy theory. Smartly, he withdrew the official objection a day later.
- Counting both sides of the on-going battle, at least 70 are dead in Kismayu where the African Union's “peacekeeping forces” continue trying to take back a strategic port city from the hands of Islamic insurgent group Al-Shabaab. Directly related: This suicide attack at the hotel where the Somali President was staying, killing seven total.
- When answering a question from a viewer about how to handle a wife who doesn't respect him, Pat Robertson suggested moving to Saudi Arabia and becoming a Muslim so he could legally beat her.
- Poland has seen such an “exorcism boom” over the years – by their stats, more than 120 over the past 15 years – that Roman Catholic priests are publishing a monthly magazine about them.
- The always-great Dan Savage has the story of Jamie Kuntz, an 18-year-old who was kicked off his North Dakota State College of Science football team after teammates caught him kissing his boyfriend.
- Matthew Ricchiazzi, a young Republican from Buffalo, put together some pretty horrific gay-hater-baiting mailers to attack New York state senator Mark Grisanti, who voted for the state's marriage equality bill. Also, fun: Ricchiazzi later admitted that he, himself, was bisexual.
- The pastor of a Catholic church in Laguna Hills, CA has been sentenced to 330 years in prison for sexually assaulting five boys between the ages of 9 and 15.
- The government of Malaysia – a predominantly-Muslim country – has begun offering classes that will help teachers spot “signs of homosexuality in children” in order to help “curb the problem.” Among their tips: Boys who prefer tight, light-coloured clothing and large handbags, gay. Girls who have no affection towards men and like to “sleep in the company of women,” gay.
- The Taliban are doing everything in their power to kidnap and/or kill Prince Harry who is now in Afghanistan. The collateral damage of those operations, so far, are the deaths of two US Marines, who were stationed near Prince Harry's military base.
- Apparently a photo of a seven-year-old wearing a sundress was a bit too racy, so a Mormon website took to Photoshop to add some sleeves.
- If you got the time, this long read at The New Yorker about the fatwa against Salman Rushdie is well worth checking out.
- An ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother won a lawsuit against her even more ultra-Orthodox husband in order to gain the right to send their children to a secular school.
- And Our Person of the Week: YouTube genius Alvin Louis, who took an anti-masturbation video put together by the Jehovah's Witness folk and mashed it up with R.Kelly's “Ignition.” This. Needs. To. Be. Seen.
Previously - Party Time!