Posted by: Ali Davis | November 20, 2012

Bankrupt: Some Friendly Advice to the Rebranded GOP

Years ago, when I first started freelance writing, I got hired to do the copy for a website for a car company that is no longer in business.

The company had noticed that they weren’t selling to women – in fact, their customer base was almost entirely older white men – and they wanted to change that. They were planning to deploy special banner ads on websites that got a lot of female traffic, and those would lead to a brand-new special splash page just for women. My assignment was to write the copy for that women’s splash page.

At first, I was excited to be a part of it. I had developed some strong likes and dislikes about the process of shopping and caring for cars, and had lots of ideas about how the company could speak to women.

…However, the company didn’t want those ideas. Well, that happens with freelance writing. No big deal. But when I asked about the focus groups that I assumed had been held, I found out that the company and its ad agency hadn’t run any of those. In fact, they didn’t seem to want any female input or thinking at all. There were women other than me involved in the project, but any suggestions were actively discouraged. We were essentially to take dictation for the company’s pre-planned concept for the site.

There was, of course, some “You go, girl!” type language, watered down to the point of meaninglessness. But mostly the whole thing was embarrassing. The finished site had very little about the actual cars, or why one might want to purchase or drive one. Instead, there were messages about the company’s sponsorship of the LPGA tour and donations to fight breast cancer. Because chicks love that stuff, right? And then they were expected to just obediently start buying.

I only worked on the splash page, but apparently if any women stayed on it long enough to try to find links to solid information about the cars, which was tough, they were treated to another page that cooed to them about “making cars simple.” You know, for women. And the banner ads – which I swear I had nothing to do with – were apparently even worse.

(As humiliating as that was, I was at least relieved that I hadn’t been involved with the splash page for African-Americans, which featured, for real, a black history timeline. It was the main visual of the site. DO YOU SEE HOW THOROUGHLY WE UNDERSTAND YOU, BLACK PEOPLE?)

The whole project was an epic disaster. Not only did women not start buying the client’s cars, but they sent scathing letters and e-mails to the company with a few choice words about condescension. I don’t have direct knowledge of the response to the black-history-timeline-with-a-car-on-it site, but I feel like I can make an educated guess.

I don’t know if the car company executives ever understood why the site was such a catastrophic failure, but as an outsider, it was easy: Instead of actually asking women and African-Americans why they didn’t want those cars or what they did want in a car or even in a car-buying experience, the company decided for itself what those groups would like and then expected female and black consumers to behave like two-dimensional stereotypes instead of thinking human beings with real concerns and desires. And they certainly didn’t expect anyone to behave as an individual – just as a monolithic group member, at most.

I repeat: That company is out of business.

I’ve been thinking about that job lately because I’ve been watching the Republican Party frantically try to re-brand itself after the election. Not re-think itself, mind you. Just re-brand itself. There doesn’t seem to be any real effort to do anything but pigeonhole the groups that didn’t vote Republican and consider giving lip service to their imagined wants.

And rest assured, it will be just lip service. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been standing right up and saying that Republicans should stop making boneheaded, breathtakingly sexist statements about rape. But please don’t take that to mean that he thinks Republicans should stop their current push to criminalize abortion for rape victims. He just thinks the GOP should stop being quite so honest about it in public.

And so the Republican effort to win us back is progressing much like my early e-mail volleys with my one-time client. Single women just want free birth control for all the dirty sex they’re having! Latinos are single-issue voters who only care about immigration, and in only one way! Black people only want handouts! LGBT folks just have two goals: destroying American marriages and legally forcing churches to let them have sex on the altar. Yes, Republicans truly have us all figured out.

Here’s the thing, GOP: You might want to work in a couple of focus groups. You’ll note that I didn’t say “You might want to talk to people,” because you’ve been talking to people, or at least at them, quite a bit. What you need to do is run a focus group or seven and listen to people.

Find out what people in cities worry about. You may begin to suspect that their thoughts and needs are just as valid as those of people who live in rural areas. Talk to Muslims and Wiccans and Hindus and agnostics and atheists. You might find surprisingly strong moral and ethical codes, and a startlingly weak desire to murder other human beings.

Notice that Cuban-Americans and Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans (who are citizens! For real!) and many, many other groups that could be described as “Latino” do not all want or worry about the same things, even within those subgroups. Though you might be able to get away with the generalization that they’re not crazy about being treated as inherently foreign and an invading malicious horde.

Check in with a few women, single and married. Yes, lots of women (and men!) like birth control, because planning if and when one has children turns out to be a really good way to help keep those children out of poverty. But brace yourselves, Republicans, it may get even more complex than that. It may just be that the women who didn’t vote for you are not so much sex-crazed as they really, really hate being treated like unthinking baby incubators whose lives are irrelevant once the egg is fertilized – no matter what the “method of conception” may have been.

And, yes, Republicans, you’re going to have to listen to some black people who aren’t Herman Cain.

I know this will be awkward because you have been using black people as the quickest, most effective way to scare a certain type of white person into donating to your campaigns and getting out to the polls for quite some time now, but I think you will hear some things that will be good for you. And most of you have known all along that the scare-the-racist-goobers campaigning is odious. Taste the bile you’ve generated, take some time to be ashamed, and then actually do something about it. The last four years have shown that you have a stunning number of racists in your ranks, GOP, overt and covert. It’s time to do what’s right and shame them out. Let them secede and form their own party. They love that.

And I cannot freaking believe I have to type this, but no, Mitt; no, Paul; no, Newt; and no, Bill; and no to so many of you: African-Americans are not lazy people who are just looking from a handout from you noble, hardworking white fellows. They’re not even the biggest recipients of Welfare. Whoops! Turns out that’s white people. So what do they want? You’re going to have to actually ask them, a bunch of them, from all different regions and income levels. And you’re going to have to listen.

As for the LGBT community, well, Republicans, I’m sorry to say that other than a few baffling stalwarts and the many closet cases in your ranks, you’ve pretty much lost the LGBT vote for a few decades. It was probably the part when you said that there was something so fundamentally wrong with us that we shouldn’t be allowed to marry each other. Or maybe it was the part when you called those of us who did want to get married slaves to lust instead of, you know, deeply in love. Or it might be the countless times you’ve claimed to be religiously oppressed when we object to being legally discriminated against. One of those things.

But you can take a few baby steps. Learn what “LGBT” stands for, and why liberals say that instead of “homosexual.” For extra credit, ask about the Q that sometimes gets put on at the end. If you can’t talk to us directly, try talking to those younger Republicans who for some crazy reason don’t find their gay friends so scary. Ask them why, and listen. The Rick Santorum types among you really seem to enjoy taking the position of embattled victimhood, so try a few thought experiments: Think about how you would feel if someone tried to pass a law that kept you from getting married, and thus from visiting the person you wanted to marry in the hospital. If that doesn’t move you, think about such a law would affect your inheritance.

And then, Republicans, you might try talking to people without automatically slicing them into any of those categories at all. Or you might go crazy and start talking and listening to people who are in unions and people who seem awfully huffy about what fracking is doing to their drinking water and people who used to have a pension fund before that corporate takeover and liquidation. And I think you should find a bunch of other kinds of people, and I think you should listen hard.

Because as I mentioned, that car company is out of business.

Posted by: Ali Davis | March 3, 2012

To Sum Up

Religious Male Congressional Witnesses: We do not want the compromise in which insurance companies pay for contraceptive coverage at their own expense because, even though religious institutions would not be paying for it, we do not want the female employees or students at religious institutions to have the option of having dirty bad sex without making babies.

Sandra Fluke: I wish to explain that hormonal contraception is used for a variety of medical reasons, and that such prescriptions often have nothing to do with sex or babies at all.

Rush Limbaugh: SLUT!

Posted by: Ali Davis | February 21, 2012

A Women’s Congressional Panel on Men’s Health

Posted by: Ali Davis | January 30, 2012

I’m proud of this.

I’m one of three co-writers, with Andy Cobb and Michael Damanskis.


Posted by: Ali Davis | December 2, 2011

An Unscientific Cat Coat Survey Landmark

As of this afternoon, I have my first report, via Twitter, from the Midwest: Based on a sample size of two (2) cats, we have a 50% rate of unusual floofiness.

That’s about on-pace with the West Coast, and way ahead of the East Coast, which does not seem to be unusually furry. However, we’re in single-digit numbers all around, so the scores can still really change.

No matter where you live, I want YOU (you) to participate in the Unscientific Cat Coat Survey. Living outside the United States? On another continent entirely? Hanging out in a hemisphere that is distinctly summery at the moment? I don’t care! We are on to something here, people! Every bit of information helps.

Just leave your floofiness report, geographic area, and the most shame-inducing song that’s still in rotation in your music collection (optional) in the comments of the main Unscientific Cat Coat Survey post or, if you’re really lazy, in the comments for this post.

Together we will bring the weather-predicting world to its knees.

And then we will be complete pains in the butt until it opens a can of tuna.

Posted by: Ali Davis | December 1, 2011

The Completely Unscientific Cat Coat Survey

First off: I know this is not science. We all agree on that.

But it could be interesting, which is one of my favorite excuses for doing things.

It came up because I noticed a month or two ago that my cat Mae, whom I have owned/been the personal assistant to for 15 years now, grew a winter undercoat like I’ve never seen this year. She’s a short-haired cat, and for the first time I’m having to comb and even cut mats out of her fur. (You would be correct in guessing that neither of us is happy with this development.)

Anecdotally, I’ve heard that a cat’s undercoat can be predictive of the severity of winter weather, but Mae (and I) lived in Chicago for eight years and she never grew a coat like this. And we’re in Los Angeles now.

I should not that there’s only a 50% rate of unusual undercoating at my place. My other cat, Grendel, is quite sleek. However, he’s half Siamese, a breed not generally known for getting all floofy, and he’s only six months old. What the hell does he know? He can barely deal with seeing rain.

After another session of trying to get all the fur tufts out of Mae’s butt, I tweeted about her new coat and quickly got notes back from two fellow cat owners, one also in California and one in Oregon, whose charges had also gotten crazy huge for winter – and to a degree that the owners hadn’t seen before.

So I’m curious. In the interest of, well, not science, but of anecdotal information that could one day lead to science, or at least something interesting, please tell me:

Is your cat unusually furry this winter?

If not, how’s the fur situation relative to previous years?

Where in the world are you?

What is a song that you love, love, love, but hope no one finds in your music collection?

Wait, are you lying about any significant part of this?

Please leave your response in the comments on this post, right below there, for ease of information gathering and to avoid duplications from Twitter and Facebook and stuff.

I am totally serious about collecting this information into a Feline Fur Index.

Together we will bring important knowledge to the world. Or at least unimportant speculation that could lead to something-or-other. Which is, as I have mentioned, totally worth it.

Thank you.

Posted by: Ali Davis | November 21, 2011

The Three Scariest Topics from Saturday’s GOP Debate

This Saturday was the “Thanksgiving Family Forum,” a Republican debate minus Mormons Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, who wanted to avoid the very real possibility of the incredibly far-right audience – and maybe one or two of the candidates – screeching “EEEEEK Satan Cult! Satan Cult! Not real Christians!”

(On a side note, let’s remember that the Mormon church leaders spent tens of millions of dollars to stop gay marriage in California and other states, at least in part as an attempt to gain street cred with far-right Evangelical churches. It must hurt to be subjected to so much garden-variety fear and bigotry when they put so much effort into spreading slightly different garden-variety fear and bigotry. No, those aren’t tears of joyous laughter. I have something in my eye.)

The forum was sponsored by The Family Leader, Focus on the Family, and the National Organization for Marriage, so everyone already knew it would be a Who Hates the Gays the Most Derby. But, perhaps more important, it started at 5 p.m. Eastern time on a Saturday and was only broadcast on the Internet. Even journalists weren’t watching this thing. The tally on my livestream never got above 20,000 people.

So instead of the usual dogwhistle far-right pandering, the candidates felt free to really cut loose. Here’s the most terrifying stuff you may have missed.

1. They’re not even pretending it’s about abortion anymore. It’s about personhood.

Radical anti-choicers used to hide behind abortion as a principled stand in favor of life. But they’ve won enough battles there – making abortion effectively illegal or impossible to obtain in great swathes of the country – that they’re pushing it a step forward. They’re also giving the game away, but it seems like they feel confident in doing that.

Personhood laws are not about abortion. They are about outlawing many forms of birth control. The IUD and most forms of the pill would be illegal in any areas where these laws pass, as would, arguably, chemotherapy for pregnant women with cancer.

If there is one thing to be clear on, it is this: The personhood movement is not about stopping abortions or saving lives.

They are trying to take away your control of your own fertility. Even if you are part of a married, straight couple, these people want to take away your right to decide how many children you will have and when.

You want to put your financial resources and time into raising two kids as well as you can and within your means? Too bad. Michele Bachmann, the personhood movement, and, apparently, Jesus want you to keep having them until you are cast into poverty and/or the mother dies in childbirth.

And if you don’t like those options, they want you to just stop having sex. Again, not dirty, bad premarital sex or even scarier, dirty same-sex sex. They want to control what married, straight couples can do in the privacy of their own homes. They want to force a choice between years of abstinence or kids until you’re broken.

Nice folks, huh?

Speaking of which…

2. They hate and fear members of the LGBT community even more than they usually let on.

I can’t even begin to chronicle how much they blamed on the LGBT community and how much they want us disappeared, or at least penned into some sort of offshore island. Long story short, we are physically ripping apart the fabric of all that is good and America itself.

Well, at least we know now that the huge increase in low-level earthquakes isn’t from fracking.

Rick Santorum has been savvy enough lately to start using a take on this in which (surprise!) he is the real victim here. He says he doesn’t hate The Gays – He loves them! Loves them so much! – it’s just that he has sincere religious beliefs that he is entitled to write into the law for all of us. And to accuse him (or Bachmann, or Paul, or Newt, or Cain, or Perry, or Romney, or the sponsors of the Thanksgiving Family Forum) of bigotry is actually evidence that you, the accuser, are the real bigot here.

Oh, really? Try saying the things they say routinely, in public, as though they are matters of not just common sense but vital national interest, about any other group.

“People of Belgian descent should not be allowed to marry each other, and the government should not force me as a Christian to tolerate that.”

“We cannot allow anyone under 5′ 8″ to adopt children.”

“Children need to have two parents who are college-educated. Allowing people who don’t have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree to raise kids is akin to abuse. Those kids are better off in the foster care system.”

Those statements clearly carry animosity. They are prejudiced and hateful. So you don’t get to claim they aren’t if you’re just popping new subjects into the same templates.

Just because it makes Santorum, Bachmann et al get a case of the sads when you point out that they are vicious bigots who are actively spreading hate and fear does not mean that it isn’t true.

The current crop of GOP candidates, with the exception of Huntsman, is in favor of incorporating open bigotry into our national policy. Huntsman is widely seen as having no chance whatsoever. Largely because he refuses to participate in the open bigotry.

Conservatives claim they are the party of personal responsibility. They should take responsibility for the cupcakes iced with bile that they’ve been handing out.

3. These supposed Constitution fetishists want to destroy the judicial branch of our government.

Even though they were clearly pandering to the event sponsors, I was astonished at how hard all the candidates came out against the third branch of our government.

I honestly couldn’t tell if it’s because they don’t know how the government is supposed to work – Bachmann said, for real, “Why is it that the big decisions always get made by the Supreme Court?” – or if they know but want to pander to the stupid and people who are angry enough that they just don’t care.

In this case, I think I was actually giving them too much credit as decent human beings by assuming, at first, that they were that ignorant about the basic makeup of  government they hoped to lead.

But look at those first two items again. These candidates, collectively if not individually, know exactly what they’re doing.

Our government was set up with checks and balances to stop legislators from overstepping and trampling on people’s rights.

But trampling on people’s rights is what’s on the agenda here. It is the main thrust of the current GOP platform – we didn’t even get to the part where they want to legalize stopping brown people on the street for looking too foreign in more states than they already have.

For today’s GOP, trampling rights is second in importance only to protecting multimillionaires from taxation. It even ranks above constant, bloody, macho-boosting warfare!

The radical right, which has become the mainsteam GOP, wants to try to legislate gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people out of existence – or, failing that, into the closet, and out of the workplace. They want to stop any woman – any couple – from choosing whether or not to have children, and when, and how many. They want to stop even married, straight couples from having nonprocreative sex.

You’d better believe they hate judges. Judges are there to hold the line. The judges are the ones who are supposed to tell them no, you cannot legislate discrimination; no, you cannot control the sex lives of consenting adults; no, your narrow interpretation of a single religion cannot be imposed as everyone’s law.

And this crop of candidates wants to stop that. They know what judges do: Judges thwart the far right’s cruelest instincts, and the far right cannot stand it.

They talked about term limits for Supreme Court justices – because what we need is for that institution to become even more politicized and subject to the whims of the moment – and actually talked about allowing Congress to eliminate entire courts that are “unnecessary,” by which they mean courts that stand in the way by producing rulings the Bigot Brigade doesn’t like.

Gingrich even talked about eliminating a specific judge whose ruling Newt didn’t like. Attempting to intimidate a judge is a felony… Unless you do so as a part of your presidential campaign.

These candidates will shred anything that stands in their way, including the Constitution, and, if you’re not careful, including you.

Even if you’re a white, straight, conservative, married, native-born Christian, don’t get cocky. Romney and Huntsman didn’t skip the Thanksgiving Family Forum because it was impossible to attend it and look like adults. They skipped it because they knew that one false move could get them, the wrong kind of Christians, thrown under the steamroller.

And you never know where that steamroller will point next.

Posted by: Ali Davis | November 20, 2011

Courage, New Hampshire: The Recap (Chapter 7) (The Last One)

Chapter 7 – The Morning After

This chapter has been poorly named. It’s the morning after the trial, but still clearly the same morning where we just were. So it’s still just that first morning after, and not the morning after that.

In fact, people are still standing around staring at Wheedle’s abandoned uniform! I’m hoping someone will pour water on his clothes to see if they’ll spring to life like sea monkeys.

Abby arrives and stares at Bob’s stuff too, even though she, it turns out, can break this case wide open. She’s stunned by the news of the shooting in Boston, and judges it comparable in strangeness to seeing Bob Wheedle sitting in the road staring at the Pine place, which she did just now.

Mystery solved! For the love of all that is good, everyone please stop staring at the clothes now!

Back at the Pine place, Bob puts his blanket around Sarah and the baby and hey! What happened to all the snow from earlier? It’s… Actually really green and leafy out there. I’m going to put it down to symbolism.

There is also something in the background that looks disconcertingly like a saguaro cactus, but I’m going to let it go.

Bob tells Sarah that deserters from the British army get shot. Again, something he could have thought about before.

Bob tells Sarah that he didn’t worry about death before, because he used to be dead inside, but now he does understand death, because Sarah made him alive once, which he only just realized last night when she walked away, when he must have been sort of undead.

Give him some room; it’s a complex thesis.

Whatever it means, Sarah gets it.

Wheedle gets down on one knee and proposes while Aunt Pine awesomely faints in the background. I guess she also noticed the cactus.

Loudmouth Abby, who was just at the inn, runs back to the inn again, explaining to Rhodes that she just ran back to the Pines’ to see what was up, but now she’s running back here, and oh, she can’t believe it, and she grabs the pastor and tells him to come on running back to the Pines’ again, and Silas says “Abby, you had better tell us!” like he still can’t guess what’s up. What the hell did they put in Silas’s suckling pig this morning? He’s a mess.

Sarah and Bob get married!

Then they turn and Bob asks what’s out yonder in the wilderness. It’s Vermont! And it’s full of danger, resources, and potential, just like another state I can think of to the West.

Back at the inn, Silas notes that Bob seems to be deserting. Which, frankly, is pretty tacky, since he mentions it to Reddish, who is duty-bound to hunt Wheedle down and shoot him.

Reddish says he’ll maybe conduct a more leisurely manhunt, right after breakfast.

And, secure in the knowledge that Bob, Sarah, and Baby Wheedle have one meal’s worth of time to escape into the wilderness, we’re done.

I hope you learned some important concepts from Courage: New Hampshire. I know I did.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stare at someone until we form a lifelong bond.

Posted by: Ali Davis | November 3, 2011

Courage, New Hampshire: The Recap (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6 – Verdict

Time for some awesome. The liberal justice who earlier was randomly and unproductively concerned with educating the natives the Colonists have been pushing out of their homeland is at it again. He’s now saying he won’t apologize for considering the Governor’s needs in this case. Elitist.

Rhodes admonishes him sharply. “Frederick Stokes! The Governor will not be there at the great white throne to unsoil your breeches!”

And then Rhodes walks off like a boss.

I stand by my assessment of this show as really, really slow moving and boring, but if Riley starts dropping in more platinum nuggets of dialogue like this, I will totally throw parties to watch future episodes. I imagine there will be quite a few breeches that require unsoiling.

The three judges walk into the courthouse, with Rhodes looking pissed. Uh oh. It’s possible that we may not see justice done here.

Trapp smiles a terrifically oily smile, and a wistful Bob stares at Sarah as he’s unshackled. The courthouse empties in slow motion, but Bob can’t get to Sarah. Sad music.

Rhodes chats with Reddish about how corrupt the justice of man can get and wishes that God would lend a little smackdown occasionally.

Sergeant Tim admits that he’s going to be getting short-sheeted a lot when he gets back to the regiment for testifying, but what can you do? Then he asks Rhodes to have one of his bazillion kids wake Bob so they can hit the trail. They have a wacky moment where each thinks Bob was sleeping in a different place – one of them apparently thought he was less than five feet away – and then they realize Bob pulled the old blankets-over-stuff-to-make-the-bed-look-full trick. He’s no longer a prisoner, so I don’t see the point, but why pass up a perfectly good ruse?

We cut to a blanketed and slouch-hatted figure walking up the road to the Pine place. (Hint: It’s Bob.)

Bob sits down and stares at the Pine place, looking like young, confused Gandalf.

I used to wonder what, other than God, brought those two crazy kids together, but now I see that it’s a love of creepy courtship. I can only imagine what that romantic day and night in the barn must have been like – staring unblinkingly at each other, carving each others’ likenesses into corncob dolls, suddenly revealing bits of information about each other that they could have only known if they’d been obsessively digging around on each others’ FaceCarvedTreeTrunk accounts… Magical.

Back at the inn, Silas and Reddish are still staring dumbly at Bob’s stuff that was under the blankets, confirming for skeptics that the term “Rhodes scholar” did not originate in Courage.

Suddenly, Fox bursts in! The troops in Boston fired on the town and a number were killed!

Silas asks, “Troops killed?” and Fox is forced to clarify “No, the town! The soldiers fired on the town!” Rhodes is being so slow in this scene that I was afraid he’d ask, “Buildings killed?” but he seems to get it.

Everyone stands around openmouthed – literally openmouthed – as they take in this new information.

Back to the Pine Farm! Why did we bother to do that cutting back and forth? We’ll never know. Aunt and Uncle Pine see Wheedle sitting all sadly on their property and go get Sarah and Prop Baby.

Next up: Chapter 7 – The Morning After (Yes, I know that makes no sense. Quit being a Mr. Trapp and just roll with it.)

Posted by: Ali Davis | November 2, 2011

Courage, New Hampshire: The Recap (Chapter 5)

Chapter 5 – Trial 2

That’s right: more trial!

The midwife and Aunt Pine recount their stories that Sarah named Bob Wheedle as the father of her child and then inexplicably swore them to secrecy, and others confirm Sarah’s good, too honest, too trusting character. Uncle Pine has the trickiest moment, when he confirms that Wheedle deserved to be locked up like an animal but then admits that he totally gave the winner of the 1769 Miss Naively Trusting Pageant a key.

Oh, lord. Simeon Trapp calls laborer Braxton Cage to the stand. Have you ever been to an amateur production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream? This actor is the guy who plays Bottom in all of them.

He is here to falsely besmirch Sarah’s name, which would be a huge shock if the Trudge Mob hadn’t told us during their completely pointless scene that this very thing would be happening. Way to spoiler, Mob.

Cage says that he heard Sarah and one of her Nameless Friends “carrying on” and ogling the British troops one afternoon. Scandal! He insists on characterizing what Sarah says as a “sermon,” and then puts on his Sexy Face and elaborates:

“Ruth and Boaz… Isaac and Rebecca… The Song of Solomon.”

Because when young girls are swooning over dashing soldiers, the first two things they think of are a marriage between a 40-year-old widow and a kind elderly man and an arranged marriage between two total strangers. Well done, O Prince of Innuendo.

But with The Song of Solomon, we get it: Sounds like those young Colonial chippies were hot to trudge! And Cage claims that they’d have gone with any of those soldiers! The courtroom audience explodes into a frenzy of scandalized rhubarbing, hubbubbing, and peas-and-carrotsing.

The ladies scream that those are outrageous lies, and then Sarah makes eye contact with a perturbed Bob and sends over a Category 5 Guiltstorm.

Mr. Fox leaps up to save the day by revealing that on the day in question, Braxton Cage was thrown out of the tavern for excessive drunkenness.

Worst. False witness. Ever.

The defense has no further witnesses, but the prosecution has a surprise! One of the justices behind Rhodes points out that this is “most irregular,” but Rhodes hears him anyway because the witness had to travel a long way, and what the hell, we’re all on Sarah’s side.

Not that Rhodes is an activist judge or anything.

We learn that the new witness is a Redcoat named Timothy Reddish.

In case any of you had money riding on it, the calling of said witness was the moment where I reached the limit of my tolerance for symbolic last names and put my fist through the window.

I lost some finger mobility, but the searing pain distracted me enough to carry on and finish this recap, so it was worth it. I am very much looking forward to the next episode of Courage: New Hampshire, in which we’ll meet Robert Taxhikingcommunist and James Patrioticjobcreator.

Everyone is shocked to see sergeant Reddish, who testifies that Wheedle was all torn up about leaving Courage (and, by implication, Sarah). Reddish also explains that he and Wheedle came from similar low origins and owe everything they are now to the King and the King’s army. The actor playing Reddish has picked out and sticks to a plausible accent for this origin story, for which he wins a thousand bonus points and some soft, grateful weeping.

It would be nice if, given their similar backgrounds, Bob Wheedle and Tim Reddish also spoke in similar dialects.

But much like vital infrastructure spending, we can’t always get everything we want, even if it would really help hold things together.

Sergeant Reddish opens up and says that Bob was in love with Sarah. And why is he doing this? Because he, Reddish, knows what it is to be called a bastard! Sarah, awash with emotion, cuddles her completely stiff prop baby bundle.

Dang. Reddish is clearly a stand-up guy with a good conscience, but I’m concerned about all this empathy he’s throwing around. Glenn Beck told me that too much empathy is what drove the Nazis.

Fortunately, it’s met with an immediate counterpush: Outside at deliberations, Nameless Justice #2 prods Rhodes about setting up a new college for the natives and Silas shuts him down because they are in the middle of considering their verdict, for crying out loud.

Liberals. Always trying to drag in entitlements.

Everyone waits for the verdict. The Pines sit at a booth with tankards. Reddish and Wheedle have a private chat and Wheedle says that he doesn’t want to take a wife back with him because Sarah would be in real physical danger from someone like that “fatcat” officer they both remember.

Which, maybe something you could have thought of earlier, Bob? Or are consequences too much like contraception, and best kept out of the equation? I have so much to learn.

The justices are still deliberating. Silas Rhodes is on the side of Right, but there’s still so much actual law to consider.

Fox and Trapp also have a meal together. We know that Fox is a smart one because he has a book again. Try not to hold it against him. Remember, it’s probably a Bible.

Trapp says Fox shouldn’t hold the stunt with the drunk against him, because after all, he’s just “greasing the Governor’s carriage wheels.” Ew.

Sarah weeps because she realizes she was wrong in a way too. Not for foolishly continuing to chase a coward and a jerk who was willing to abandon her and then lie about it, but for wanting to leap into becoming a wife and a mother before God was truly ready for her to do so. Now she knows to be content wherever she is until the Big Guy makes it clear.

Only her baby has no father! What will she do if the court doesn’t order Bob to marry her? I mean, yes, she seems to have been pretty cool with it for a year or so, but now she’s really upset!

When, oh, when will we get that verdict?

Coming up: Chapter 6 – Verdict

(On a sad note, we’re done with Braxton. Here’s one last glimpse to help you carry on.)

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