Quickies: Ken Jennings’ Ableist Wheelchair Joke, Fighting for Birth Control, and ‘The Princess Bride’

  • Ugh: Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings tweets super offensive “wheelchair” joke – Hopefully by the time you read this, he will have issued an apology. (For some reason, though, I’m not too surprised by this.) From Courtney.
  • #TeamHarpy – From an email (by Galen): “Two female librarians are being sued by a male librarian and serial harasser who has filed a SLAPP in an attempt to shut them up. Their website, where they outline the case and are requested donations to their legal defense fund is http://teamharpy.wordpress.com. Discussion is also taking place on the hashtag #teamharpy.”
  • Religious Nonprofits Tip Their Hands On The Real Goal In Birth Control Fight – It’s no longer enough that certain religious companies don’t have to pay for insurance that covers contraception–they actually want to block their female employees from getting any insurance that would cover something they consider a “sin.” From Arturo.
  • Health Researchers Will Get $10.1 Million to Counter Gender Bias in Studies – “In an effort to begin addressing persistent gender bias in laboratory research, the National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday that it will distribute $10.1 million in grants to more than 80 scientists studying a diverse array of subjects, including drug addiction, fetal development, migraines and stroke.”
  • Cary Elwes, aka Westley, Shares Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride – “In the upcoming page-turner of a book, As You Wish, the Man in Black writes about how Rob Reiner and Co. made one of the most cherished films of all time.” I will always love this movie. Anybody want a peanut?

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. There is only one flaw in The Princess Bride if you ask me: that awful synthesized music track. I dearly wish they had used a full orchestra instead.

    1. Mrmisconception,

      The people use the world “sin” they are describing something that they think is wrong. To say that someone has sinned is the same as to say that they have committed an immoral act. People also call things like theft, rape and murder sinful, which I think its safe to assume you think is wrong. I’ve even heard atheists and non religious people use the term as word for unacceptable behavior.

      Although I agree with you that corporations like Hobby Lobby shouldn’t be allowed to dictate how their employees live their lives, and often what religious people refer to as a “sin” really isn’t immoral ( or unethical ) at all, that statement is rather problematic. Many people simply define sin as any behavior they regard as wrong.

      1. I know the common usage, to call it imprecise would be charitable. When it is used in this context it means an offense against God and stems from original sin that we have all inherited. It allows those who pretend to know what the bible really says to dictate their interpretation and I don’t like to play along, that’s why I try not to use sin when I mean morality or ethics.

        Again I say, religion is the unnecessary cure to the made-up disease of original sin.

      2. A “Sin” by definition transgresses a supposed “divine law”, so mrmisconception is spot on with his point IMO.

        1. sevlevboss,

          That’s one definition. But like I said earlier, people have used the term ( even people who don’t believe in a any god ) to simply mean an action that is immoral.

  2. Mary,

    Hopefully the Hobby Lobby decision will be overturned within our lifetime. That will prevent private companies from being able to deny their employees access to birth control on religious grounds.

  3. I don’t know what this says about me, but when I read Ken Jennings’ tweet I was really confused. I kept thinking, “why is being hot in a wheelchair any worse than not in a wheelchair? Is he making a bad joke about getting to an air conditioner?” I was in the middle of making dinner when it dawned on me: “Oh! He means attractive. What an ass.”

  4. 1) Why would anyone follow Ken Jennings on Twitter? Has he done anything noteworthy other than memorizing trivia?

    2) Libertarians suing each other = sweet irony!

    3) Once again “religious liberty” trumps “individual liberty” shame!

    4) I understand the point that “single sex studies” reduce variables in a study, but if gender bias wasn’t a factor, then the studies would be split relatively evenly among the genders.

    5) Finish with a smile. For perspective, I link a picture of Andre the Giant holding a regular sized beer can (Molson – good boy Andre!)

    1. While I don’t follow Jennings on Twitter, I know several people who do, and their reasoning is that he’s usually funny and quick-witted (although obviously not in this case). His column in Mental Floss was pretty good.

      His “joke” was terrible and offensive and it’s a real shame he hasn’t apologized for it.

  5. I love the tag #TeamHarpy.

    As for sex differences research, I hope the money actually goes there. The lab I work had been burned on a grant sent to a section that was supposed to give extra weight to submissions on sex differences research. Our grant was triaged in part for us using females. This was despite the fact that (1) the particular heart condition modeled is uncommon in men and more common in women, (2) females in that animal model exhibited a stronger phenotype than males, (3) the way we would exacerbate the heart condition in our model had a stronger effect in females than in males, (4) we could switch our model to a related condition that was more common in males than in females and (5) it was unusually easy to track estrus cycling in that model and the cycle was short enough that we would not lose sample size due to it being the wrong phase of the cycle.

    What happened was the money earmarked for sex differences research went to equipment grants where the equipment could be used on males or females.

  6. That depends.
    Did he mean “I am really disappointed when I see an attractive women who is confined to a wheelchair. What a boner-killer.”
    Or did he mean. “I feel so bad for people confined to non-motorized wheelchairs on hot days. That must be so difficult. It makes me sad.”

    1. There is no “depends”. Did you actually read his tweet? It’s pretty damn clear what he meant.

      Your suggested interpretation is ridiculous.

        1. Yeah, really.
          The only way that would work is if we found video of Ken hurriedly tweeting, jamming his cell phone in his pocket and then pushing a sweltering octogenarian’s wheelchair up a ramp.
          Absent such a video …

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