« February 2012 »


The easy part? This column. The tough part? Choosing a title. I mean, I had to go self-referential, but there were so many options! "Fetus Don't Feed Me Now". "Baby Food". "Makes Me Wanna Ralph". "Shorty And The EZ Meal"*. I mean, dear sweet monkeyhumping Jebus, I get to make fun of a guy named RALPH SHORTEY who has odd ideas about food. I may faint from the sheer abundance of options.

It gets better! He's from Oklahoma! Where the dumb comes sweepin' down the strange. A state that consistently vies for second place behind Tennessee for the dumbest state in the Union, although the competition is mighty stiff. And Ralph Shortey is a state senator, which makes this almost too good to be in a column. A state lawmaker from a stupid state with a silly name and a ridiculous idea. A ridiculous idea I haven't actually mentioned yet, although I've hinted at it. Ralph Shortey has written a bill. A bill that would, well, prohibit something. ACTUAL PROHIBITION TIME!

"...the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses."

If adopted, the bill would have far-ranging effects. Obviously, Oklahoma City's booming fetus food truck culture would be dealt a crushing blow. Ben and Jerry's wouldn't be able to get national distribution for their new Silent Icecream flavor. Planned Parenthood will have to close one of their two drive-thru windows. It's going to be the Raw Milk fiasco all over again!

What the fuck? Did nobody explain to Shorty that "baby food", like "Girl Scout cookies" and "two all-beef patties", don't actually describe the ingredients? Let's ask the man himself. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"There is a potential that there are companies that are using aborted human babies in their research and development of basically enhancing flavor for artificial flavors. I don’t know if it is happening in Oklahoma, it may be, it may not be," he continued. "What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here.” - Shortey, citing his own Internet research.

I think we all know what "his own Internet research" means. It means that Shortey got a wingnut chain e-mail that says LIBERAL COMPANIES WANT TO MAKE FOOD OUT OF FETUSES and he leapt into action.

Luckily, while I spent the week relaxing and reminiscing, other intrepid individuals went and did my leg-work for me, and discovered a wingnut boycott slash rumor that Pepsi was contracting with Senomyx, a biotech firm that specializes in taste and flavor research. See, a patent by Senomyx for a biological sweetness receptor. That patent mentions a protein, and also mentions a cell line that has been used for biological research for over 40 years. That cell line? From embryonic kidney stem cells in the Netherlands.

See how the logic works? You put that chain in front of a blastula-humper, and what comes out is that PEPSI IS USING ABORTED BABY TONGUES TO SEE HOW SWEET DIET SODA IS. And then some dumb Shortey reads that on the Internet, passes a law that makes damn sure any diet soda in Oklahoma wasn't being tested on aborted baby tongues, the country mocks him, and he doesn't understand why.

"I’ve gotten so much hate mail. Are fetuses being chopped up and put in our Doritos? No. I want a serious conversation about this. This wasn’t an open invitation for the country to chime in. This was an invitation to my colleagues to have this discussion... The first attack is to make that issue or person look ridiculous. And I’ve got thick skin. I don’t care what people think about me. I don’t just look at something and say this must be true. But I’ve done some digging.”

Shit. I'm gonna need bullet points for this.

  • Can we stop with the "getting hate mail" whine now? Seriously, everyone gets hate mail for everything, deserved, undeserved, whatever. That's why we invented filters and interns. Suck it up, Okie.
  • Of course fetuses aren't being chopped up and put in Doritos. If Doritos suddenly decided fetuses tasted like nacho cheese, but were cheaper, then clearly they would turn the fetuses into powder and spray them on the Doritos. Nothing ever gets chopped up and put IN Doritos. I'm actually more worried about this intellectual lapse than the other one, because not understanding science is one thing, but not understanding how Doritos work? Jesus.
  • If you wanted a serious conversation, you probably shouldn't have started it by outlawing something that would never happen based on a vague hint from crazy people that something tangentially related to what you were outlawing might be happening somewhere. Just saying.
  • Oh, I'm so sorry that the stupid fucking law you wrote got national attention. I'm sorry that someone other than you and "your colleagues" are paying attention to how fucking stupid you are. Guess what? That Internet that told you about aborted baby tongues? Well, that series of tubes runs both ways, hickfuck.
  • Making you look ridiculous isn't always the first attack. Ever hear of something called "the path of least resistance"?
  • Clearly, your skin isn't as thick as some other parts of you, since you're whining about your hate mail and being attacked and the rest of the country butting in on your serious fetus food conversation.
  • "I've done some digging." That's universal code for "The first couple of Google hits seemed reasonable to me." We've all taken that shortcut, we just don't all take that shortcut when deciding to author state-wide legislation.

The best thing? Even if all this were true, it's a shitty argument. Ralph Shortey wants to undo decades of biological research in exchange for what would, AT BEST, be one middle-aged Dutch dude. Whom we couldn't even get back without a time machine anyway. I mean, better-tasting diet cola isn't exactly a cure for Parkinson's, but you'd have to be a believer in homeopathic sin to think that what Senomyx was doing was even remotely immoral. And we all know homeopathy is as much bullshit as "sin" is.

*That one goes out to all you old-school Bust A Groove fans. Both of you.