What's Wrong with a Nativity Scene Made out of Dead Cats?

When my mom was in college at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, she had a sorority sister who interned for the local newspaper. One day, the intern was rummaging through the morgue (which, in pre-Internet days, is where they kept old  clips) when she found a file labeled "Funny Brides." The file was pretty self-explanatory; it was filled with stories about tasteless weddings and photographs of homely, unseemly or otherwise humorous-to-look-at brides and their grooms. Of course, she wasn't about to keep this find to herself, so she brought the file back to the Sorority House, where the sisters pissed themselves laughing. And, thus, a tradition was born. Today, some 55 years later, my mom and a close circle of her old friends have a Funny Bride Book of their own. It's filled with clippings from newspapers around the country. Sometimes, it's just the photos that are funny. But more often it's details of the ceremonies that prove the most hilarious. One couple, for instance, were married in front of a water fall. During their vows, a rock flew out of the water fall and hit the groom in the groin.

"It was reported," my mom told me, "that the bride and groom were able to consummate the marriage.... Now, isn't that more information than you really want to know?"

It wasn't just Funny Brides that caught her fancy, though. The Des Moines Register used to print "Funny Names" as a regular column. Both my parents have committed a great number of those to memory. Let's see, there's Tackaberry McAdoo, Munsing Underwear Johnson, and my least favorite of all of them, Mary Moist.

The point is that my mother's fascination with goofy newspaper stories is why I have in my possession a 1999 article about a school-sanctioned high school nativity scene in Elizabethton, Tennessee, made completely out of cat cadavers.

The Elizabethton Star, Tennessee

 

I know, I know. Christmas was so last month. And yet, I couldn't help but share this one with you. If you're not able to read it, click here — where I found an online-version of the story. And here, you'll even find a Letter to the Editor about the thing. Apparently PETA eventually awarded its annual Kind Student Award to the boy who was SUSPENDED FROM SCHOOL for daring to take the scene down. And what, you ask, would lead him to vandalize such a holy display?

Well, because it smelled bad, the boy said. And because it was disgusting to look at.

Sacrilegious little shit. They should have expelled him.

Favorite line from the editorial: "That students in Elizabethton placed a formaldehyde-soaked dead cat in a cradle as baby Jesus and inserted sticks into the rectums of cats to make them stand up as Mary, Joseph, and the wise men is shocking..."

Especially when superimposed over this line from the Elizabethton Star:

"The decorating contest 'gave students an opportunity to work as a team with their homeroom teacher with a holiday spirit activity," Alexander (the principal) said in a press release. He said most reaction so the cat cadaver display were positive."

This Blog Has Been Flagged as Inappropriate

annetaintoryouropinionA couple of weeks ago, a Texas mother named Deborah Mitchell wrote a guest blog for CNN's iReport that quickly became one of the citizen-journalism site's most widely read pieces. The blog received more than 750,000 page views, 9,000 comments and 64,000 Facebook recommendations. And as a testament to its controversial nature, the entire essay was flagged as "inappropriate."

Well, you know, I like to stay on top of current events, so I decided to check out the story that was causing all this grief and strife over at CNN. I clicked on over and, well, what I found can only be described as outrageously offensive and ill-suited to any and all adult audiences. In fact, I had to take a couple of beta blockers just to get through the thing without vomiting or passing out. To me, the fact that CNN would print something so utterly disturbing makes me question whether people associated with CNN should be allowed to live in our country anymore.

Of course, I want to tell you what the story was about, but first, I need to give you some fair warning: This blog has been flagged as inappropriate. People who are pregnant, elderly or suffering from heart conditions may want to look away.

Deborah Mitchell's report was... wow ... hold on... breathing into paper bag...

Deborah Mitchell's report was about being an ag—

An ag—

AN AGNOSTIC PARENT!

Deep breaths! Deep breaths, people!

Everyone still with me?

Oh, thank God.

So here's the deal: Mitchell, who has a blog called Kids Without Religion, wrote about how she had decided not to "gift" her child God because she didn't think the God that most people worship is much of a gift. Then she laid out seven reasons why the traditional notion of "God" didn't do it for her. It's an interesting take on the whole "to-God or not-to-God" debate, not to mention a flash of glitter in the often-overlooked world of nonreligious parenting.

If you aren't one of the 700,000 who have already read it, be sure to check it out here.

Editors over at iReport have been quick to explain that some readers — not anyone from CNN — had flagged the story as inappropriate. But the reaction was clearly so out of the ordinary that CNN blogger Daphne Sashin felt compelled to report about the controversy for CNN's Belief Blog — a story that itself garnered 14,000 comments.

Fourteen. Thousand. Comments.

Which is precisely why I will be flagging my blogs as inappropriate from now on.