Cry-Baby of the Week
Cry-Baby #1: Lumberton Independent School District
The incident: Some parents complained that their children’s teacher was transgender.
The appropriate response: Nothing.
The actual response: The teacher was suspended.
Laura Jane Klug is a transgender woman who was recently hired by the Lumberton ISD School District in Texas as a substitute teacher. She was filling in as a teacher for a 5th grade class last Thursday when she found out that there had been complaints from the parents of some of her students about her being transgender.
The school responded to these complaints by suspending Laura, which was a legal for thing for them to do because Texas, a state located in a first world country, does not have laws to protect transgender people from workplace discrimination.
Roger Beard, whose son was in Laura’s class, said he complained because he felt that 11-year-olds were too young to understand the (fairly uncomplicated) concept of a trans woman. “There are some things that we accept in society that children are not going to accept in the same way that we do,” he told local news station 12 News. Adding, “I just don’t want them teaching, especially not this age group.”
Thankfully, other parents defended Laura. “My son knows who he is and I don’t think any outside influence is going to change that. I’m more concerned about straight predatory teachers rather than I am someone who lives an alternative private lifestyle. I don’t worry about my son,” said Jammie Marcantel, whose son was in Laura’s class.
Speaking to 12 News, Laura said she had substituted before without incident and wasn’t sure why people were complaining now. “I have always conducted myself in a professional manner and would never discuss my gender identity in school,” she said.
According to another local news station, Laura will find out later today if she gets to keep her job.
See Cry-Baby #2 and Vote!
Personally speaking, conscious uncoupling sounds a hell of a lot better than what I’ve managed in my own life. Falling out with the person with whom you created children is a heartbreak that I can’t even describe. You can’t drink it away or find someone else so that it doesn’t matter any more. It will always matter. It’s a feeling you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, although you don’t even have to, because the person you loved has already slipped into that role.
—Stop Laughing at Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin
Cry-Baby of the Week
The incident: A girl took a razor from a kid who was self-harming.
The appropriate response: Congratulate her.
The actual response: She was suspended from school.
Adrionna Harris is a sixth-grade student at Bayside Middle School in Virginia Beach, VA.
While at school last Thursday, Adrionna found one of her friends self-harming with a very small razor blade (like the one pictured above, which I can’t figure out the practical application of).
According to her mother, no teachers were around, and Adrionna felt it was “a 911 situation,” so she took the blade from the boy and immediately threw it in the trash.
Adrionna then went to school staff and told them what had happened. They responded by giving her a ten-day suspension with recommendation for expulsion. This was as part of the school’s zero-tolerance policy on possessing weapons on school property.
Hunting for the Vampire of Barcelona
At the turn of the 20th century, Enriqueta Martí—a woman from the witchcraft-steeped countryside of Cataluña—came to Barcelona. Like many of the poor rural immigrants flooding into Barcelona at the time, she found that the Catalan capital was less “Pearl of the Mediterranean” and more “City of Death.” This didn’t bother her, though, because it was in Barcelona that she became her country’s answer to Jack the Ripper, luring children back to her house, killing them, and then drinking their blood.
Fast forward a century and Marc Pastor, a CSI detective based in Barcelona, finds himself working on a case involving another female serial killer. In his spare time, he writes Barcelona Shadows, a retelling of Martí’s diabolical career redolent of Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, and David Peace. Already a bestseller in Spain, the book has just been published in English. I caught up with Marc for a trip back to the dark alleys of the Barcelona slums.
VICE: Hi, Marc. When exactly is your book set?
Marc Pastor: It’s in 1912. Barcelona is leaving its rural past behind and becoming a modern city. There is the biggest casino in Europe, which was an amazing amusement park with a rollercoaster. There’s a lot of poverty. People are living in the streets and there’s a lot of sickness. This is where Enriqueta appears, where she rises up. A woman. She is a female killer, which is very unusual because 99 percent of serial killers are men. It’s a dark and creepy city with a dark and creepy serial killer.
And Enriqueta came onto this scene from the countryside, to work as a servant in a house?
Actually, as a whore.
I was about to say: she swiftly becomes a prostitute. How quickly does she start to kill people, and can you tell me about her methods?
We don’t know exactly how many people or children she killed. That’s part of the myth. Jack the Ripper had five victims, but you don’t know how many victims Enriqueta had. She was arrested in 1912, but she went to Mallorca in 1901 for three months and had to come back because people wanted to kill her. So you can imagine she was murdering people and children for 12 years, at least. I met a lot of people after publishing the book who told me, “My grandma was a victim of Enriqueta,” or, “My grandmother-in-law was one of the people Enriqueta tried to kidnap.” They showed me pictures. She tried to kidnap a lot of people. One woman told me her grandmother-in-law was approached by a woman who tried to give her candy and told her to come with her.
Inside the Sad World of Adults Pretending to Be Kids for Retweets
Can you imagine taking a few hours out of your day to sit down with a crayon and forge a child’s exam paper? Or trying to convince thousands of people that one of your kids picked up a bra and dropped a witty quip about it being a “booby trap”? If the answer is “yes,” then you might not be as weird as you think. You might just be one of the legions of “Twitter comedians” who present clearly fabricated child-related anecdotes as things that really, definitely happened, purely to pick up brownie points from strangers on the internet.
That’s right: adults lying about stuff kids said is the new animals doing funny faces on the internet. After all, what are kids but animals with slightly better communication skills?
In terms of the trend’s Twitter popularity, it’s not yet up there with people arguing about David Moyes or RTing “Brazil smiles when Niall Horan smiles.” But these types of fake tweet are slowly colonizing the platform and the multitude of viral websites that feed off of it. It’s a phenomenon that is clearly bullshit; bad jokes told like news stories, fallen for and spread by idiots. A bit like crop circles.
The formula is simple: Think of a phonetic mistake that’s vaguely amusing but that a child is unlikely to have made in real life—getting “the Smurfs” mixed up with “The Smiths,” for example. In an ideal world, this phonetic mistake will hint at some higher truth about humanity; the more sentimental, the more chance your fake tweet has of being picked up by UpWorthy and shunted around the internet by moms who just got Facebook. Attribute this quote to your unknowing children, post it on Twitter, and hope it goes down as well as this one did with all the twee people on there who spend their time making jokes about badgers and biscuits:
Like most twee things, it’s difficult to figure out quite why it’s so annoying. It’s not that it harms the world in any specific, grievous way. There are certainly far more worrying things to stress about. And it’s not like I make a habit of playing Twitter cop. There are many other types of lies on Twitter that I don’t understand but that I don’t give a second thought to. There’s just something about this trend and its flagrant attention seeking—not to mention its cynical use of kids as props for added “ahhhh” factor—that really grates on me. If you’re being highfalutin, it’s a weird and sad nadir in the continued internet-driven devolution that’s turning fully-grown adults into infants. If I’m saying it straight, I just wish irritating people would stop trying to con me.
The Glue-Sniffing Street Kids of Somaliland
On an ordinary night, after the sun sets over Hargeisa, Somaliland, Mohamed packs up his shoe-shine kit and heads to the storm drain where he lives when he’s not working. All things considered, it’s a good spot for the 12-year-old to sleep—the discarded snack wrappers and plastic bottles help keep him warm, and when the sun creeps in each morning the shadow of a nearby skyscraper shields him from the heat.
The skyscraper, which was built in 2012 and houses a company whose business is to bring high-speed internet from neighboring Djibouti, is one of the many symbols of Hargeisa’s relative wealth. The city itself is the crown jewel of Somaliland, a self-declared republic in northwest Somalia.
Although Somaliland’s sovereignty has yet to be formally recognized by any other country or the UN, it has its own democratically elected government and a 30,000-strong military. Its nascent borders contain valuable natural resources—the Turkish oil company Genel plans to drill for oil there in the next two years—and the bustling northern port city of Berbera, which are two good reasons Somalia doesn’t want the region to secede. The government in the terror-torn capital, Mogadishu may also be clinging to the hope that Somaliland’s peace and prosperity could spill over into the rest of the region. But whatever the contours of this convoluted political landscape, at the very least Somaliland feels like a separate nation; houses in Hargeisa fly the tricolored flag the region adopted in 1996 instead of Somalia’s sky-blue standard.
The Make-A-Kush Foundation: Kids, Cancer, and Medical Marijuana
The way Frankie Wallace tells it, his calling revealed itself in his sleep.
“I had a dream [that] cannabis would cure cancer and many other diseases,” he recalled as his wife, Erin, stood beside him on the back porch of their house.
A few minutes before, the three of us had ducked into the basement of Frankie and Erin’s suburban split-ranch house near Portland, Oregon. We went down there to sample something called Absolute Amber, a potent concentrate Frankie concocted by soaking a batch of his latest crop of medical marijuana in butane and isopropyl alcohol, boiling those liquids away, after which the oily residue was frozen and double-filtered. The resulting product was as close to a pure distillation of THC as a mortal was likely to get.
Frankie lit a blowtorch and held it to a small piece of metal attached to a glass water pipe until it was red-hot. He touched the matchstick-size shard of burnt-sienna-colored hash oil to the metal, and it released dense white smoke that the pipe caught, filtered, and delivered into my body. On exhaling, I felt an astringent tingle pass through my lungs. I sat down and quietly counted to 30. The urge to speak would be great, Frankie had warned, but to do so might send my body into a fit of convulsive coughing. As I looked at Frankie and Erin, their soft smiles appeared to curl up like arabesques in an illuminated manuscript.
Frankie is more than a weed aficionado—he’s a marijuana evangelist, a THC high priest. After his fateful dream, he sold all of the couple’s belongings and moved from Birmingham, Alabama, to Erin’s cousin’s garage in Portland, where medical marijuana is legal. They partnered up with another grower and found a house in a nearby suburb, where they now live alongside the two dozen marijuana plants in their garage. They have 12 patients and keep their modest grow operation afloat through donations.
This kind of small business isn’t uncommon in the statured legal-marijuana market of the Pacific Northwest, especially now that “dabbing” is becoming a luxurious but increasingly popular form of ingesting THC and its cohorts. What sets Frankie and Erin apart is that they believe pot can literally cure cancer. And ever since the dream they have been testing their theory on an eight-year-old named Mykayla Comstock.
Kids Telling Dirty Jokes
Kids Telling Dirty Jokes is our new series that features tiny comedians we found on Craigslist. This episode stars Gigi, an adorable straightlaced kid whose parents forced her to say filthy jokes on camera for a little bit of money.