Petitioning The Government For Redress of Very, Very Stupid Grievances

A stroll through some petitions on

"Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group," with more than 2000 votes. Dear Andrew D. of Sacramento, California: "legally recognize them as a hate group" under what statute? You're thinking that they get classified as a "hate group," and then they can't be douchebags any more, right? Under which statute, again? Can't think of it? BECAUSE THERE ISN'T ONE, YOU MORON. There's no generic "hate group" statute that permits blanket censorship. Thank God.

Restore Objectivity and Fairness to Our Media — oh, this should be good — with 2400 votes. "The 1st amendment of the US Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. However along with every freedom there are responsibilities. Example: One cannot yell fire in a crowded theater." Actually, Pam B. of LaClaire, Iowa, you can, if it's actually on fire. The hackneyed-and-rooted-in-thuggish-censorship-quote is FALSELY shouting fire in a crowded theater. "Finally any media outlet that promotes itself as a news organization should be required to present a neutral and objective presentation of news and events, without predominate bias for or against any viewpoint." Yes, we should DEFINITELY have the federal government judge that. "Americans want the freedom of truth." Congratulations: you've crafted a slogan that's simultaneously stupid, meaningless, and chilling.

Regulate Internet Pornography: "We petition the government to keep pornography away from minors by demanding and enforcing that a valid credit card number belonging to the adult viewer is provided at a login screen to every pornographic website." I see you are using "regulate pornography" in the sense of "make select pornographers rich, with an immense side benefit to identity thieves."

"outlaw offending prophets of major religions" — "Moses, Jesus, Mohammad" — because "acts like this contradict the essence of coexistence and peace among humans. Labeling these acts as freedom of speech is similar to labeling murder as freedom of expression!" Similar, in the sense of "very stupid people might compare them."

These people vote, and reproduce, and drive popular culture. DESPAIR.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Matthew Cline says

    Someone should put up a petition to, say, make a law saying "1 + 1 = 2", or a law which gives the death penalty for freezing any object to below absolute zero.

  2. Connie says

    Yep. Sometimes I just wish I could volunteer for space colonization so I can get away from those kind of wackjobs.

  3. Tali McPike says

    At first I thought "no, we should send the wackjobs for space colonization" then I realized that would probably mean the colony would fail. Then I realized that is not necessarily a bad thing.

  4. Pete says

    outlaw offending prophets of major religions

    How will I determine exactly what will offend one of these touchy prophets?

  5. Chris R. says

    THIS is why the California prop system is a wreck. This is why our founding fathers did not make us a true democracy. You can't trust people to make good decisions for themselves half the time, how can you trust them to make them for everyone?

  6. Nicholas Weaver says

    Unfortunately someone removed the very important petition to have Obama do the Hokey Pokey…

  7. Liberaltarian says

    Man, it must be depressing for people who spend a lifetime defending the First Amendment when they realise what the average American does with those rights.

  8. Luke says

    I was tempted to start a petition to "Banish the people who signed the petition wanting to banish the people who signed a petition to secede" but then I went back to reading other blogs when I should be studying.

  9. says

    Oh. My. God. Utterly hilarious. Especially that media one. Granted, at age 14 I'd have thought it was a good idea, but at least I grew out of it and realised that electing a committee to judge what is objective and true in the news is stupid. And it looks like that petition was about the government judging the media and censoring it, which is democracy suicide.

  10. says

    However if I had to choose a comittee to judge what is objective in the news and censor stuff that is not objective, these are my choices:

    Stephen Fry
    Richard Dawkins
    Dr Brooke Magnanti
    Jessica Valenti (if it doesn't have to be just Brits; she can judge by having the stuff sent to her online)
    J. K. Rowling
    Dawn French
    Someone who is polyamorous
    Someone who is really kinky
    A Sociology professor
    An LGBTQ activist
    And of course myself, because I want to control the media and make Britain into a free slutopia without stigma or inequality.

  11. Michael S. says

    Should petition for a ban on that dastardly Dihydrogen Monoxide. See how many I can get to go along with it…

  12. Suzanne says

    I know there are several petitions for states to secede. Texas is close to the 60,000 signatures that will trigger a response from the Whitehouse. My thought is, let them go, but remind them that they'll forfeit their Social Security, Medicare, student loans, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, etc. I have a feeling many Texans would change their minds if they thought about that. (Of course I don't find it so funny that someone from my state started one of those stupid petitions.)

  13. AlphaCentauri says

    I like the petitions to strip the citizenship of all the people who voted to have their states secede, then deport them.

  14. B says

    "I petition the gummint to force Ken at Popehat to let everyone know how to achieve Diamond status *on the web page*. No more secrets!"

  15. BCP says

    Suzanne, leaving aside for a moment that secession at this point in history would be a logistical nightmare since federal governance is so pervasive in the states, what I find most amusing is the idea that the entity to go to to petition for secession is the federal government. What these people are really asking for is to be kicked out of the union. If they really want secession, they should be petitioning their state governments.

  16. Zoodlewurdle says

    Am I the only one who read "outlaw offending prophets" as meaning the prophets are offensive, and therefore didn't think this was such a bad idea? :)

  17. says

    Behold the mass man.

    These bullshit petitions are a perfect example of P. J. O'Rourke's "paradox for the stupid" that democracy cannot be maintained by democratic means.

  18. Boxy says

    I assumed after reading these that you were choosing outliers of stupidity for our amusement. I assumed wrong.

  19. Adela says

    "outlaw offending prophets of major religions"
    Well they are dicks so no real loss in getting rid of them. Oh wait that's not what they mean; grammar matters folks.

  20. says

    There's a part of me that would like to just invite a cute girl over, grab a glass of Chianti, cuddle up by the fireplace and watch this Fall-of-the-Republic freak show unfold, but there's another, more responsible, part of me that would like to work towards some sort of practical mitigation of this cultural and political disaster. The latter response, it seems, would involve serious reforms to America's schools, media outlets, and churches, and probably other institutions that don't occur to me at the moment. In other words, it would require an uphill battle against a multilayered mesh of very deliberately managed social control mechanisms that are purposely misrepresented by their leaders as benevolent institutions of noblesse oblige. Fun times.

    I've never received more polite but blank stares than I did at a Newman Club meeting in 2004 when I insisted that the franchise is an individual prerogative and that it is dangerous for any institution, including the Catholic Church, to attempt to exercise a corporate franchise through its members. Ironically, the same communitarian perversion of civics reared its head this fall when I defended the individual woman's right to make her own free decision about entering prostitution and was bitchslapped by two feminists who insisted that I would agree with them about the inherent visceral scumminess of being a prostitute if I had "a female perspective."

    I couldn't feel smug about refraining from speaking to these women on behalf of men everywhere when it was clear that their personal-feelings-as-consensus-of-all-women logic was considered not only a defensible position in their social circles, but a mandatory one. What I found particularly pathetic and worrisome about their line of reasoning and their summarily terminating the debate on account of my gender and effectively calling the outcome in their favor was that I had belatedly overcome an inability to relate to women my own age while I was in college and had subsequently become quite comfortable around women, to the point that a friend in an otherwise all-female lab group had complimented me for it. It was some of the highest praise I've received in my life. This friend, as it happens, had also vehemently told me that she did not consider herself a feminist. In retrospect, I'd say that communitarian bullshit implying that prostitutes don't have a "female perspective" is reason enough to disavow the label.

    It's enough to make me want to phone the patriarchy and see if our misogynistic overlords know any women who are up for a date tonight.

  21. Narad says

    I am frankly surprised that a plea to federally prohibit water fluoridation is nowhere to be found.

  22. Shkspr says

    Narad: It's probably because of intimidation tactics on the part of Big Fluoride. Also, I heard that the UN was in favor of the process; by keeping silent on the matter, we're actually denying the forces of the New World Order a casus belli.

  23. says

    THIS is why the California prop system is a wreck. This is why our founding fathers did not make us a true democracy.

    THIS is why we can't have nice things.

    I am frankly surprised that a plea to federally prohibit water fluoridation is nowhere to be found.

    It surfaced for a time, but decayed rapidly.

  24. nlp says

    I'm the first to admit that I'm not an expert, but for some reason I thought porn sites already demanded a credit card when entering their sites. At least, that's how a friend of mine discovered what his thirteen year-old son did for recreation.

  25. James Pollock says

    Personally, I kind of liked the "accept the forfeiture of U.S. citizenship implied by people who sign secession petitions, then round them up into detention camps" proposal(s). That seems like an eminently logical response to people who say they want to renounce their U.S. citizenship in an open forum. Of course, I might have been SLIGHTLY tempted to sign my ex-wife's name to a secession petition thereafter, but that is ENTIRELY coincidental.

  26. AlphaCentauri says

    @nlp — there's lots of porn to be had for free. It's supported by advertising, or by people paying to upgrade to premium accounts if they like what they see, or sometimes by surreptitious installation of malware … or even by extortion, as we've seen recently.

    Unfortunately, it's easy to end up viewing porn accidentally through search engine manipulation (you think you're clicking on an innocuous result of your search and get something else entirely). It's not a trivial issue, since viewing images means you are downloading images onto your own computer, which can cause you problems if it's a work computer or if there are child porn images included. It's difficult to prove HOW you came to have an image on your hard drive.

  27. flip says

    The first link on "Restore Objectivity and Fairness to Our Media" does not work: it sends you to the Popehat wordpress admin page.

  28. wgering says

    @Narad: do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously-conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face?

  29. Damon says

    @ Connie and @ Tali,

    The idiots need to be left behind. The usefull and smart need to leave for space. You don't waste resources (well, any MORE resources) on removing them, you spend that money on leaving youself. That affords you the opportunity to create a whole new society/system. Those you left behind are left to decend into a "escape from new york" society, or like the society in Fallen Angels by Niven, Pournelle, and Flynn.

  30. says

    So if you falsely yell "Fire!" in a decidedly fire-free theater, and everybody calmly files out the doors, wastes five minutes in the hall, and then returns to the show, could you actually be charged with a crime? Disorderly conduct maybe?

    I would think if you falsely yelled "Fire!" and caused people to be trampled to death, or damage to the property occurred, you would in some way be held accountable for this damage and charged accordingly.

    It's important to distinguish the two; to realize that it was not the speech that was at fault but the damage that occurred as a direct result of the speech (e.g. the restriction on inciting violence…)

  31. Dan Weber says

    Of those links, I'm especially sad that the "outlaw offense" one actually hit the 25,000 mark.

  32. says

    I just wish that both major parties picked their candidates based exclusively on @Frank's comment above. I'd even be willing to go for a one time "let's do away with Congress and the Supreme court and anything else that gets in his way" provision for his term. Or let him have absolute dominion (no wait, Inviolability or whatever that Socialite chick claims she has as an honorary member of that club) over Congress, so he could require the entire House and Senate, and all stafffers to do a Presidential Taint Sniff prior to passing any new laws. Instead of a signing ceremony he could have a Taint Sniffing Ceremony – uhhh, @Frank, you just created a monster here with that thought.

  33. says

    @AlphaCentauri – a lot of that can be mitigated by turning your Safe Search settings really high on your work computer, or by making sure you always browse from Pocket firefox on a USB stick . If you're legitimately searching for something work related and you get stuck with something like that -you'll usually be ok if it's a one time thing and you can show how it happened. It's usually patterns of it showing up on your machine that causes problems although there's so much spyware now, even that can get a pass at most places.

  34. says

    @Zoodlewurdl, yes I read "offending prophets" the same as you, at first. Those prophets are busily offending me, too.

    Also, I think most Christians will get all butt-hurt, if you call their guy a prophet.

  35. AlphaCentauri says

    @Bill, thanks, I actually don't mind myself, as I use NoScript, which limits a lot of the damage. If I see something that does look like kiddie porn, I post it to to cover myself and hopefully help get the stuff investigated.

  36. Lago says

    "These people vote, and reproduce, and drive popular culture. DESPAIR."


    I'm gonna go cry now

  37. Pau Amma says

    "outlaw offending prophets of major religions" — "Moses, Jesus, Mohammad"

    I'm not a Christian, but it's my understanding that some of them, if not all, would find calling Jesus a prophet extremely offensive. Does that mean this petition would make itself illegal?