And One of the Elders Saith Unto Me, Veep Not

It’s only fitting that on the day when Gov. Phil Scott basically gave in on emergency housing for the homeless, ending a pointless months-long policy debate, we’ve got a fresh crop of stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sphere to honor. Today’s honorees include a publisher of anti=vax nonsense suing a U.S. Senator… a restaurant telling employees to show up for work if they’re sick… another failure of the law enforcement system to take action against hate speech… and a real-life lesson in How To Do It Right, sent to the attention of the Vermont Principals’ Association.

First up, the Desperate Times Call for Ludicrous Lawsuits Award, which goes to Chelsea Green Publishing and its cofounder Margo Baldwin. The Vermont publisher, once best known for top-quality environmental and DIY books, is now deep into the Covid conspiracy shit. Now, CG has filed suit against Sen. Elizabeth Warren for allegedly trying to suppress its free speech rights.

Warren’s offense? She wrote to urging them to review its search algorithms so that conspiratorialist nonsense wouldn’t get so many hits. This, per Baldwin, amounts to “the government… trying to censor speech and ban books.”

Well. First, a Senator is influential, but Warren cannot act on behalf of the government and she has no authority over Amazon’s internal policies. The suit itself is its own evidence for a Veepie; it admits that plaintiffs have no proof that Warren had any effect on Amazon’s search algorithms. Quite the contrary, one of CG’s books is the No. 1 bestseller in one Amazon category. If Amazon has rejiggered its algorithms, there’s no sign it’s had any effect on Chelsea Green’s sales.

We’re sending the Is That a Loogy in My Wild Mushroom Soup? Award to Hen of the Wood, a place that used to be a favored destination eatery in this house. Not any more. Not after it apparently sent an email to employees telling them that if they’re sick they have to either find a replacement or show up for work, Health Department be damned. The email, posted on Twitter, says “If you feel sick with a cold and do not have coverage for your shift, you are expected to show up for work.” It also helpfully advises that “it might be better to wear a mask if you are contageous (sic) so others don’t get sick.”

HOTW management gave itself a teeny-tiny fig leaf by specifying “sick with a cold,” but c’mon. The symptoms of a cold and Covid-19 overlap in many ways. This is an open invitation to unsanitary practices that fly in the face of the state’s health recommendations. I realize that many a restaurant is struggling for workers, but urging people to come to work sick IN AN EATING ESTABLISHMENT DURING A PANDEMIC is just, well, stupid.

Next the You Have a Funny Way of Showing Your Concern for Election Workers Award goes to Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault, for refusing to prosecute a Vermont man who made some truly vile threats against the Secretary of State’s office. (The headline of the linked article says the State Police refused to pursue charges, but the headline is incorrect.)

The man’s threats, which make really tough reading, were reported by Reuters News Service ‘tother day. Here’s a sample.

“This might be a good time to put a f‑‑‑‑‑‑ pistol in your f‑‑‑‑‑‑ mouth and pull the trigger,” the man shouted at Vermont officials in a thick New England accent last December. “Your days are f‑‑‑‑‑‑ numbered.”

Such a nice fella.

In a follow-up story, Reuters described how “hundreds of incidents of intimidation and harassment of election workers and officials nationwide” have resulted in virtually no arrests or prosecutions. In response, the Justice Department promised to “aggressively” address the threats.

Thibault will do no such thing, believing that the threats are nothing but free speech. To top it off, Thibault had the gall to say this: “Fortunately, the rule of law is alive and well in Vermont, much due to the dedication of our election officials and public servants.”

Yeah, those dedicated people you did nothing at all to protect.

Finally, the We Could Learn Something From Pennsylvania Award to the Vermont Principals’ Association, whose response to repeated incidents of hate speech at high school events has been thoroughly milquetoast. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, an incident of hate speech at a high school hockey game has prompted a strong official response. One of the teams had a female goalie. The other team’s fans hounded her mercilessly, chanting “Suck Our Dicks” and “She’s a Whore” among other things.

Well, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League responded by banning all of that school’s students from attending any more games for the rest of the season and the playoffs. That’s in stark contrast to the VPA’s greater concern for the fee-fees of school administrators than the well-being of student-athletes.

That’s all for now, kids. Remember now, as Little Veepie says, “Don’t Be Stupid!”


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