Via Digby, here's a story that caused me to get seriously concerned.

The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) staged a protest in front of the Aquarium & Pet Center to protest the retailer's alleged sale of "puppy mill" dogs, or purebred pups that have been bred in inhumane conditions. That's when the shots rang out.

Three protesters were hit with what was later determined to be brass pellets fired from a high-powered air rifle.

It's easy to get distracted by all the various ways this story is kind of nutty. First of all, people who use terms like "companion animals" to spare the feelings of said animals, whose understanding of language is usually limited to their names and few words of importance (commands, food- or outdoors-related, tone-dependent) are being silly. Second of all, the owner of the pet store is claiming that he doesn't buy puppies from mills, which I frankly find hard to believe, but what do I know? Maybe he's telling the truth. If so, the CAPS folks need to do their homework.

But all that is essentially unimportant, especially if this is what it seems, which a case where an independent operator with no ties to the pet store decided to take potshots at people whose larger point---that puppy mills are evil and people should not financially support them---is a sound one. If indeed this is a random act of right wing violence, then that tells you a lot about how bad things have gotten, that someone is willing to act violently in the name of a man's god-given right to torture puppies. For a long time, we've had a running joke at Pandagon about how we can come together across the aisle to agree on puppies and rainbows, but now we may have to revise that opinion. Truth is, humane treatment of animals is actually one of those touchy subjects that will set many a wingnut off, because I suspect it feels soft and effeminate to be mindful of the fact that animals are feeling beings like us, and that we're all better off for respecting that. Indeed, this attack came after the Governator vetoed a bill that would have set a limit on the number of puppies you could cram into a puppy mill, which seems to be yet another example of a Republican standing up for cruelty on the grounds that American penises will fall off if we don't engage in needless cruelty for cruelty's sake.

Luckily, the shooter in this case didn't kill anyone, but was merely trying to hurt and scare them. Still, you have to ask how we've come to this point where some hard right nut feels justified in using terrorist tactics in support of animal cruelty.

In other news of wingnuts standing up for what appears to be complete bullshit, you've got this national story about Ceara Sturgis, a Mississippi high school student whose school is trying to keep her picture out of the high school yearbook because she wore a tuxedo front instead of the drape they usually use on the girls. This story exposes an evil high school practice on two levels. First of all, having each student submit to putting on either the tux or the drape for the yearbook photo is an act of gender policing, which is not only cruel, but baffling from the "who gives a shit" perspective. No, really---who are these people that are so lacking in any kind of sense of perspective that they get bent of shape because a girl wants to wear a tuxedo?

But the school is also guilty of crimes against good taste. Having every kid dress in the same ridiculous fake formal wear is one of those surreal high school traditions in service of conformity that I'm surprised has managed to survive into the 21st century. The logic seems to be that it makes the freshly minted adults look like adults, except of course that real adults don't drape themselves in fake formal wear and throw a plastic smile at the cameraman who takes one-two snaps and then moves on down the conveyor belt of human beings. Indeed, part of the joy of being an adult is you never have to submit to routine humiliations like that. The tradition is about demonstrating the amount of control the high school and high school culture exerts over the students, and that's being upheld right alongside mandated gender conformity.