CSotD: Schrödinger’s World

Dave Whamond notes the latest absurdity in Ron DeSantis’s war on thinking: The Escambia County school district has taken several dictionaries from its shelves because they contain dirty words. Or words that could be considered sexual; several of the dictionaries are edited for children, so we can assume that the most prurient words were not included.

DeSantis has long denied that Florida is banning books, a nice exercise in doubletalk, since, in the same official statement, he explains that the problem is “pornographic and inappropriate materials that have been snuck into our classrooms and libraries to sexualize our students.”

Like biographies of Thurgood Marshall, and Merriam-Webster’s Elementary Dictionary.

Let me point out here, first of all, that we used to look up “dirty words” in the dictionary, but not the elementary dictionaries. We used the big dictionary to look up naughty words. No doubt big dictionaries are also gone from Florida school libraries, if they were ever there in the first place.

Also, in the first few meetings of our Latin I class freshman year, Randy parsed together “Desidero femina cum non vestis,” which I think shows a great deal of creativity, considering we were supposed to be learning “Patria nostra est pulchra.”

Where Schrödinger’s cat comes into all this is that, in that puzzle or thought experiment or koan, the cat is sealed in a box with radioactive material and poison, but, until the box is opened, we don’t know if the cat is dead or alive and so logically it is both. As it happens, something similar applies to the puzzle itself, since it both makes sense in quantum physics and, simultaneously, makes no sense at all in the actual world.

But don’t let that stop us, because Florida is setting up a situation in which students are both well-educated and frighteningly ignorant until they leave the state and are observed in the real world.

Such as, for instance, in Iowa, where two thirds of Republican voters think Trump won in 2020.

As David Horsey explains, Nikki Haley is simultaneously a fierce combatant and a shameless sycophant, and we can’t know which one until we place her next to either Ron DeSantis or Donald Trump.

Dana Bash asked her about Trump being accused of sexual assault and she replied that she hadn’t been paying attention to it, but considered him innocent until proven guilty. Unlike the cat, however, Trump is not both innocent and guilty. He has been legally found guilty.

Haley just refuses to peek into the box.

As Morten Morland would say, it’s important for the former president to preserve unity, or something that sounds like it, as he simultaneously unites and divides our nation.

We won’t know which until after he is elected, assuming we don’t peek into the box, hence the need to keep dictionaries and other subversive materials out of our schools.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Bill Bramhall

Marc Murphy

There is also Schrödinger’s Christ, in which conservative Christians both proclaim their religious faith and support a racist bigot who cheated on several wives and who, in a thought experiment of his own, simultaneously denies and brags about sexually assaulting women.

Bramhall declares it impossible while Murphy explains how it works in the real world.

I’d note that both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Anne Frank had a variation of this game, believing, as she said, “that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.”

Not sure how she felt as she and Margot lay dying of typhus at Bergen-Belsen, but Bonhoeffer became disenchanted before the Nazis hanged him. As it happens, they each died within a few weeks of Hitler’s defeat.

The point both cartoonists make is that we do know bigotry, hypocrisy and blind allegiance when we see it.

The question is whether there’s anything we can do about it. Anne Frank was only a kid, but we could use a few more Bonhoeffers to stand up and tell us what is in the box.

Kevin Kallaugher isn’t afraid to look, and to tell us what he sees. The news that the Baltimore Sun has been purchased by David Smith, who also owns the rightwing broadcasting network, Sinclair, made me wonder how Kal would do under that sort of management.

Smith has said he won’t be interfering with the Sun’s operations, though he plans to make it more profitable, which is scary, considering he bought it from Alden Capital, the leading vulture capitalist organization in the industry (I’ve worked for them.).

There was a staff meeting in which Smith explained how swell everything is going to be and reports are that it went about as well as a sensible person would expect.

I don’t know if Kal was at the meeting — he works both for the Sun and for the Economist in England — but the ownership change inspired him to post this cartoon he’d done in 2018.

He didn’t have to flinch then; he’s not flinching now.

The sale of the Baltimore Sun is a story about American media. The Sun is simply an example. This Chip Bok (Creators) cartoon is an example of what happens when someone peeks into the box, sees a dead cat, and announces that it is alive and well.

I’ve often criticized Bok, but less for his political leanings than for his willingness to illustrate rightwing talking points without examining them.

It takes a spectacular effort, however, to not know that while the Houthis struck an American ship with little damage the US Navy had already attacked Houthi launch sites.

This cartoon is shameless propaganda.

Which brings us to

Juxtaposition of the Dragon

Andy Davey

Lectrr — Cartooning For Peace

Taiwan, facing a major propaganda effort and a serious threat of invasion, nonetheless voted into office the candidate Beijing most wanted to see defeated, and Davey and Lectrr salute the move with memories of Tank Man, who famously stood up against tyranny in the days of Tiananmen Square.

It should be noted that Beijing had already begun slaughtering students before Tank Man took his stance.

He already knew what was in the box.

We won’t know what is in our ballot boxes until they are opened, but we already know what better be there.

8 thoughts on “CSotD: Schrödinger’s World

  1. If anyone needs more proof that 45 is a mob boss (I don’t use his name for the same reason I’ve never spoken the name of John Lennon’s assassin), the judge in the E. Jean Carroll case is telling jurors not to use their own names and not tell family and friends that they’re jurors. It’s ironic that this is the anniversary of Al Capone’s birth.

  2. DeSantis says the problem is “pornographic and inappropriate materials that have been snuck into our classrooms and libraries to sexualize our students.”
    I don’t support the banning of books. Even the controversial ones are a vital part of the guaranteed freedom of expression. I don’t know if Mike will ban me for this. And, I know this will anger some. But one of those obscene books is the bible. There is ample proof within its own, often self contradictory, words of approval of: incest, genocide (including of women and children), bigotry, etc. I don’t call for it to be banned. I just hope people will read it and apply critical analytical thinking in judging it.

    And, regarding most of our politicians, I love the quote: they are clowns, but they are clowns with flame throwers. And it is also obscene when someone like David Smith has millions to buy an ever larger megaphone to pump his rtwingnut propaganda at people using what should be neutral informative media.

    1. I think DeSantis is about my age (shudder), which makes his whole crusade seem especially disingenuous.

      I mean, as a kid in the 80’s, we girls had to watch “the period movie” in around 4th grade. In middle school we all had to get the “how to avoid getting AIDS” movie. And by 7-8th grade most of my friends and I were passing around VC Andrews novels with a crack in the spine where the “dirty” part was. Let’s not forget that nearly every 40-something walking around these days probably read a Stephen King book at a younger age than we probably should have, unless your parents kept you in a fortress and never let you go to a drug store.

      Compared to stuff GenXers were exposed to just by being unsupervised a good bit of the time, the books that DeSantis and his ilk are pitching a fit over are ridiculously tame. I have to wonder if he just doesn’t remember that or he’s got a much more idealized recollection of his childhood than I do.

      1. Book burners…er, banners…aren’t actually doing it for the reasons they espouse. They are doing it to attempt to gain and/or remain in power. They believe in nothing but money and power. That is their religion.

      2. @Ben Yes, the goal is not to protect children, but to keep them ignorant (and thus easier to control).

  3. My compliments on using and sustaining the Schroedinger’s Box metaphor throughout the column. It suited the topics and I enjoyed your highwire act. To mix my own metaphor, you stuck the landing.

  4. Ugh; I am so sick of the old trope of stiletto heels being some sort of symbol of strength.

    Sorry, Nikki—you can’t run in them, and the only purpose for them is making your legs look good in a skirt. And there’s nothing fashionable about bunions and plantar fasciitis.

    Call me what you will, but I still think high heels are still in “professional” dress codes because of the men who rather keep us hobbled.

  5. More like “Jesus is my savior; Adolf Hitler is my role model” but the point still stands.

    You’d think that more Christians would be pissed at the damage that Trump and the right-wing media has done to their reputations, but sadly they seem to embrace it.

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