This conversation has been fact checked by Thumper and my left boot.
Lackey: I have put many beautiful women in the binders, each of them filled with little suprises.
Mitt: Many women?
Lackey: Oh yes, many!
Mit: Would you say I have binders full of women?
Mitt: Binders full of women.
Lackey: Oh yes, you have binders of women.
Mitt: Lackey, what is “binders full of women”?
Lackey: Why, El Romney?
Mitt: Well, you told me I have binders full of women. And I just would like to know if you know what “binders full of women” is. I would not like to think that a person would tell someone he has binders full of women, and then find out that that person has no idea what it means to have binders full of women.
Lackey: Forgive me, El Romney. I know that I, Lackey, do not have your superior intellect and education. But could it be that once again, you are angry at China, and are looking to take it out on me?
I just came across this petition requesting that people with tattoos and piercings be given equal opportunity protection, making ink and metal equal to gender, sexuality, race, religion, disability, national origin, etc.
No. Just no. Please take this ridiculous claim to EEOC and shove it.
Equal opportunity employment exists to protect people from discrimination against choices they could not make. Let me repeat that, in all caps, because maybe those of you who think this petition is the one for you are a little too self-involved, privileged, and entitled to have missed it when it was just in italics. EEOC exists to protect people from discrimination against choices THEY COULD NOT MAKE.
I will never argue that employers should be able to discriminate against tattooed and pierced candidates. I have many, many tattoos and prefer to be able to show them off whenever possible. I am proud of my body art, and I love it. I would like to be able to walk into any office and not have to worry about them being a factor in the hiring decision.
But I also recognize that every bit of ink in my skin was my choice, unlike my gender, race, sexuality, and national origin.
If you want to be recognized as a viable candidate despite the ink and holes you have put in your flesh, then lobby for a separate law, one that forces employers to turn a blind eye to your body modifications and just look at your on-paper qualifications. SCOTUS is not going to turn people with body modification into a suspect class any time soon (see: “immutable“), so stop pretending you are one. Take your ridiculous entitlement and privilege and do something valuable with it.
Okay, I have been observing an incredibly frustrating pattern in conversations relating to privilege, which is that, in short, people who have privilege loathe being told they have it and will bend over backward to try to invalidate any claim they might have to it, as if being sensitive to various issues, or at least not outright misogynist/racist/antisemitic/homophobic/transphobic/etc. somehow removes any inherent privilege, like fancy stain remover.
People will point to some action they have taken in the past to support the rights of some group of people—be it women, minorities, GLBTQ, the socially awkward, whatever—and say, “But I did this thing. So I’m totally not acting privileged, so you should totally shut up and stop attacking me (because criticism totally = attack).” Worse, I’ve seen people say, “Whatever, I don’t know why you are whining. Get over it.” This response is extremely common in discussions about misogyny in comic books and the video game industry, and pretty much always comes from men. Go figure.
So I am going to boil privilege down for you, and for very easy reference. Because privilege is not something you got on you, like dirt. Privilege is not an accessory you can discard when it seems inconvenient. Privilege is not something you can whittle down with actions, like it’s just below your health bar in a video game.
You need to stop thinking about privilege in terms of attitude (although, that’s part of it), action, inaction. Privilege is, if we condense it down to its most fundamental aspect, the ability to walk away from a given struggle and know that your rights will not be affected in the slightest bit by the outcome of that struggle. Privilege is the ability to throw up your hands and say, “I’m done arguing about this,” or, “this can wait for the next election,” or, “Why are we still discussing this— isn’t this settled/aren’t there more important issues in the world?” It’s the ability to say, “I don’t like the criticism I have gotten over my part in this discussion, so I am leaving the discussion entirely.”
I’m going to repeat the primary point, here, just to be as clear as possible: Privilege is the ability to walk away from a given struggle and know that your rights will not be affected in the slightest bit by the outcome of that struggle.
So, folks: stop being bitches about being called out about your privilege. Recognize it for what it is. Make damn sure you understand what it means—about your approach to the world around you, about the issues you have never had to study and fully understand, about the opportunities you take for granted—and own it.
SOPA and PIPA and NDAA (Oh, my).
So, while we know they will be back in some form or another, we have, for the moment, defeated SOPA and PIPA. The President signed the NDAA, which was adjusted so that American citizens could not be indefinitely detained, but now we have HR 3166/S. 1698, also known as the Enemy Expatriation Act (EEA), which allows the government to strip Americans of their citizenship if they are suspected of being hostile to the United States—without conviction. I’ve seen virtually nothing about EEA, anywhere, and the only people who seem to be fighting it are Anonymous (and people who follow Anonymous) and, God help us all, everybody’s favorite racist, homophobic, fundamentalists-are-too-liberal, pro-integration-of-church-and-state libertarian Ron Paul.
I have learned a couple of lessons from this whole experience in the fight against such legislation.
1. We have to work a lot harder at getting the word out about dangerous and damaging legislation.
I mean, a lot. A LOT. We internet denizens have got to stop bemoaning the fact that important news is no longer being featured in the news, stop trying to augment what isn’t there, and simply do our damnedest to replace it. Lots of people know this and have already acted on it, but we need more. It seems like a great number of people know this on at least a subconscious level right now. It’s time to make it conscious.
- Educating our friends, families, kids.
My friend Rachel noticed a trend on the 18th, where informed adults trolled kids for not knowing what SOPA was. Give me a break, folks. They didn’t know what SOPA was because they are kids, and the adults around them were either uninformed or didn’t bother to inform them. Conversely, I heard of an entire class of 11-yr-olds that was deeply concerned. But it’s not just about letting them know that they need to be concerned. We need to make it clear to the people around us that the news being reported by the big news corporations is incomplete, that just because it isn’t being reported DOES NOT MEAN that it isn’t important, and that it’s time to pay some real attention to the other voices around them. And you may be reading this and thinking, “Well, I knew that.” Great! But what in the world makes you think the people around you, and the people around them also know it?
- Following up.
Posting links on Facebook is a great way of getting news out to the masses, but you don’t know who is reading, sharing, really paying attention. Follow up. I had to post about SOPA many, many times before I was able to galvanize even a handful of my friends into acting. Don’t confuse posting the occasional link with actually getting the information out there.
- Making it personal, if you can.
People were galvanized into action over SOPA/PIPA because the internet is precious to them. Because everybody, with the possible exception of the people making rulings and laws about it, uses the internet. Getting people to take action over an issue that doesn’t directly concern them is nearly impossible; when it comes to such political issues, people are happy to be lazy. “Don’t worry,” I have heard said far too many times, “If it’s really bad the Supreme Court will take care of it.” Right. Because SCOTUS just waves its nine wands and makes everything constitutional again. Yeah, well SCOTUS just ruled that creative works in the public domain can now be copyrighted again. Reminder: this is your SCOTUS right now.
I get that people are, politically, narcissists. If it isn’t obviously our fight, we don’t want to fight it. Hell, even if it is, we’d rather play video games and watch reality television than work to improve the world around us. I get that; honestly most days so would I. But a lot of what I am seeing is obviously our fight. And so…
2. We can’t stop fighting.
Yeah, we are all exhausted. We thought we’d have a break from all of this desperate fighting for our rights, and for legislation that is not based in fear and corporate interests when George W. Bush was replaced with Barack Obama. We thought we had won the battle, that we could rest on our laurels for a while. But much in the way soldiers who ought to have been allowed to come safely home from Iraq were sent back again and again to fight for their country, we don’t get a break. (And now that I have written that sentence I feel I should apologize; Occupy aside, most of us are fighting from the comforts of our homes. No less for the safety and sanctity of what we believe and for our country, but with—even in Oakland—fewer bullets, bombs, and breaking of bodies, spirits, and hearts.)
We are weary. I get it. Every time I see some new piece of legislation that scares the piss out of me, all I want to do is run to my bed and bury myself in the covers and pillows and never come out. But I don’t, because I love my country. I don’t love the way it is governed. I don’t love the all choices it makes. But I love my country, and I’m not ready to run from the challenge of trying to keep it from falling totally into fascist, corporate, or scary fundamentalist hands.
3. We can’t lose our sense of humor.
When times are dark, and we feel like our leadership is letting us down hard, and we are wondering what is going to become of this country, we cannot lose the light of humor. The more dour and unhappy we become, the more we need to laugh (and the less we will be heard, because nobody will want to listen). Quinn Norton pointed this out with regard to the protest against SOPA/PIPA. Humor is a fantastic tool in hooking interest and concern.
The thing is, taking action isn’t the most difficult thing any of you will ever do in this world, which is why I am so fascinated by people who refuse to do anything at all and let others do their fighting for them. In fact, it’s one of the easiest. It’s a phone call, an email, hitting “Share” on Facebook. It’s talking to your friends, informing your kids (so that they can inform their friends). Information has never stopped being power, and the internet is the most powerful tool we have to spread information right now. Since we have, for the time being, saved it from being broken, let’s enjoy it and remember, between videos of cats in boxes and porn o’clock, to hit the “Share” button.
Back when Obama was running against Clinton, and a group of deeply misguided people decided that if they didn’t like the outcome of that they would vote for McCain, I endeavored to make clear the one result I knew for sure would come from that: McCain would be able to nominate justices to the Supreme Court of the United States (henceforth, “SCOTUS”).
Let me make something clear: SCOTUS interprets the Constitution. These Justices don’t take these cases and plug them into a Constitutional or Not? program that gives them an answer. And if it’s gotten all the way up to SCOTUS, it’s an issue that is not easily resolved. Each Justice is theoretically interpreting from a neutral, law- and policy-based perspective. However, each Justice comes to the bench with assumptions, with biases, and with different angles of interpretation, and all of those things figure into the decisions they make.
Americans love to believe that the Constitution guarantees them their rights, and that it guarantees them those rights as they think they have always had them. It helps us sleep at night, I suppose. But many of the rights we have (or don’t have) were decided by Supreme Court Justices. SCOTUS is the final arbiter of what is constitutional (see Marbury v. Madison and judicial review), and that means that the question of what is constitutional could have a different answer with even a slight change in the political leanings of the court.
With that in mind, let’s look at the Justices of SCOTUS. If you read their takes on the issues, and don’t worry about how they might vote on issues that are close to your heart, and don’t worry about how Ginsburg retiring in the next presidential term will affect the balance, then you are no doubt sleeping better than I am. I can only imagine the kind of replacement Paul or Santorum would nominate.
Conservative. Has written some opinions I disagree with, but I can’t complain about his diligence in applying the law and his willingness to accept precedent he disagrees with if he does not see the law as actually bad. However, he often votes with the more conservative Justices. Completely anti-abortion rights and anti-family planning. Not a fan of federal funding for healthcare. Not wild about alternative energy resources, but digs mining. (Heh. Get it? Digs?) Is not entirely cool with the Patriot act. Would like the separation between church and state to be much thinner.
Side note: Obama voted against his confirmation.
Very conservative. Applies both textualism and originalism to his interpretations of the Constitution, which in effect makes him a constitutional fundamentalist. Scalia claims this makes him more objective. Others have argued that this means he can interpret the Constitution any way he wants to, including according to his personal beliefs. Has repeatedly asked his fellow Justices to strike down Roe v. Wade. Dissented the Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld decisions. Concurred in Gonzales v. Raich. Voted with Thomas to strike down Miranda v. Arizona. Just a couple of examples.
Additionally, gay rights are out the window. Religion in schools is totally great, immigrants kinda suck, and go coal, all the way.
Appointed by Reagan
Kennedy is an interesting Justice, as his ideologies are mixed, thus often making him the unpredictable swing vote in a given case. Has shown no intention of overturning Roe v. Wade, but appears to have joined with O’Connor on Planned Parenthood v. Casey because he felt it added restrictions to Roe. Authored both Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas, but voted to uphold the Boy Scouts of America’s right to ban homosexuals in Boy Scouts v. Dale. Wrote Boumediene v. Bush.
Justice Clarence Thomas
Appointed by winged monkeys
Thomas is mostly known for the Anita Hill scandal that surrounded his confirmation and the current questions about whose corporate pockets he is in. Like Scalia, both a textualist and originalist, and the two vote together the majority of the time. His originalism might even be more extreme than Scalia’s, though, and he tends to cite not just the so-called original intent of the framers, but social mores at the time of the framing. Thomas went from claiming during his confirmation hearings that he’d never thought about or discussed Roe v. Wade while in law school (lost Senator Leahy’s confirmation vote over it, too) to eventually saying it was wrongly decided and should be overturned. Was lone dissenter on the Safford Unified School District v. Redding decision, because he thinks it’s cool for kids to be strip searched.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Appointed by Clinton
Got confirmed by a huge majority despite practically stonewalling the confirmation committee on major issues. Fierce advocate of abortion rights, although she’s criticized Roe in the past—not for legalizing abortion, but for how it did it, and the weaknesses inherent in the decision. She’s not wrong. She intends to retire in 2015: that’s the next presidential term, folks.
<== Would you fuck with this woman? Oh hells, no. We need more Justices like her. Too bad Evelyn Baker Lang is a fictional character.
Disagrees with originalism, tends to vote more liberally. Believes that the Constitution was intended to maximize the liberty experienced by citizens, and prefers to interpret it thus. Often described as a pragmatist. Staunch supporter of abortion rights. Believes that the GLBT community is a constitutionally protected class. Not besties with the corporations. Not crazy about the Patriot Act. Loves the idea of limits on political campaign donations.
Side note: may also be a unicorn.
Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr.
Appointed by G.W. Bush
Has a conservative voting record, but doesn’t always vote along with Scalia and Thomas. Has not requested that SCOTUS overturn Roe, but has stated that he would like the opportunity to see whether it could and should be overturned. Tends to be pro-corporation. Political asylum for immigrants is only okay if they are facing forced abortion or birth control. Fan of 3 Strikes sentencing laws. Fine with religious expression in schools. Opposes limits on political campaign donations.
Note: McCain wanted to see more SCOTUS Justices like this guy. Yay!
Fairly moderate. Doesn’t favor abortion rights, necessarily, but will work with the precedent set by Roe. While not necessarily anti-GLBT, comes down strongly on the side of First Amendment protection of homophobic and offensive speech and picketing of funerals. Fan of federally funded healthcare. Strongly for immigration rights (personal issue to her). Dislikes Patriot Act. Has a less awkward smile than Alito.
Side note: has only been a Justice since 2009. Hard to tell what kind of Justice she will be.
Appointed by Obama
Kagan was appointed in 2010. As with Sotomayor, not a lot to work with. Kagan is interesting—wanted to ban the military from campus because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but defended DOMA because it was made into law. Conservatives believe she will be a guaranteed vote for gay rights. That remains to be seen. Advocates campaign finance reform. Fan of alternative energy, seems to think breathing is a good thing. Generally pretty cool with the Patriot Act. Overall, on the liberal side of moderate, or possibly vice versa.
The very first thing I did in 2011 was wake up, shower, and go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make Raspberry Crack† for Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman.
At the time, I thought: holy crap. I am leaving a year filled with pain, anxiety, emotional abuse, misery and more pain. And I am leaping into a year that begins with one of my favorite authors and one of my most beloved musical artists, as well as some of my best friends in the world (Hi Whitney and Alexei!). Around a kitchen table. At which I will be sitting. Wow.
What could possibly go wrong?
Ultimately, very little. Very little had to go wrong. 2011 was a year of trying to convince myself that I could survive the status quo. Little secret between me, you, and the rest of the internet? Almost didn’t happen. Survival, I mean. 2011 brought me the closest to suicide I have been in a decade.
Sounds dramatic, right? I guess suicide is dramatic, but I don’t intend to make a splash with the idea.
I mostly mention it to give you some context, Gentle Reader, for my mindset coming into 2012. I have spent 2011 trying to put my head and my heart back together. I have been questioning and trying to come to terms with who I am and the choices I have made. I have been wondering what my place is in this world, and if I even have one. I have been lost, personally and professionally. And with regard to 2012, I am not as optimistic as I might like to be. I see SOPA and NDAA and the economy. I see my empty bed and my empty wallet. I see my grad school loans only overshadowed by my law school loans. I see an election year that is terrifying in its lack of viable candidates and a surplus of terrifying candidates. I see rage waxing and worry that my strength is waning.
I have found strength in myself that I didn’t know I had. I have friends who are so phenomenal that it’s a little overwhelming. This blog has a nonzero number of readers (that nonzero? That’s you. You are not zero—not The Zeppo [that's Xander]. Mazel tov). I have things to work toward in 2012 that aren’t just about trying to find reasons to keep living. I’m still funny. My cat remains adorable.
So my resolutions for 2012 are:
- To remember that I am loved by amazing people.
- To come to terms with the decisions I have made to this point.
- To consciously and carefully let go of as much of the baggage I’ve been lugging around with me as I can.
- To stop carrying the world on my shoulders.
- To practice guitar more often.
- To try at least five Scotches I have never tried before.
- To find a hottie or two to hang out with/hook up with.
What, you thought they would all be emotionally intense and interesting?
My biggest resolution, and one I hope to keep more than anything is this, though: I want to live. 2011 was about survival and subsistence—emotional, physical, and economical. It’s time to find ways to live. I wish that were as easy as it sounds, but it’s without a doubt worth working and fighting for. So I guess 2012 is going to be less about just trying to hang on, and more about climbing.
Happy new year, Gentle Reader. I hope your resolutions are wonderfully easy (or nonexistent). I hope 2011 has been amazing for you, and that 2012 will be even better. I hope there is no climb for you. I hope when you look around at the world in the new year, that it’s either a world you know you can live with, or a world you know you can change for the better (or both). I don’t yet know what the world has in store for me. I guess…let’s all hope for the best.
†Raspberry Crack is something I make, that my friends named, and that appears to be fairly addictive. The look on Neil Gaiman’s face when he first tasted it will be something I hope to use to get some incredibly nerdy and hot girl into bed some day.
Right now, liberally-minded people are in a bit of a bind, because we are stuck between a weak and a crazy place. Seems to me, the political picture looks a bit like this:
Part of the issue, of course, is that right now the two primary parties in this country have largely forgotten themselves—who they are and why they even exist. They’ve become lost in the mire that is politics, and right now the viable candidates for both have failed to impress. The Republicans are stronger, because they have no problem breaking the rules and salting the earth to get what they want out of political negotiations, and the Democrats are less terrifying, but seem to accomplish virtually nothing in comparison. Also, right now the candidates for the parties fall somewhere on these respective spectra:
(Click on them if the blurring is as irritating to you as it is to me)
So, what to do?
I’ve seen three solutions to the problem:
1. Vote for Obama anyway.
2. Vote for Ron Paul.
3. Vote some other third party and stick it to the 2-party system.
If I leave the first option alone, since I already discussed Obama here, and pretend that people aren’t seriously considering the racist, homophobic, anti-EPA, pro-religion in schools, anti-separation of church and state wingnut that is Ron Paul (discussed beautifully and thoroughly, with sources, here), I still have to consider the third.
If a third party were to come up with a strong candidate—one with actual political experience, one who knows how the system works and can be strong within it, and one with enough charisma to carry a country, now would be the time. This country is filled with people who are disgruntled, angry, depressed, and disappointed. If ever there were a time to vote outside the two-party system, it’s now.
But here is why I don’t buy the third party argument, and I am
plagiarizingexpanding on a reply I gave to thoughtful commenter Dana:
Let’s pretend we have a viable third-party candidate (we don’t). I still seriously doubt the option, because everybody who is disgruntled with the current situation would have to do it. The only way to make that statement is to get everybody (or at least a majority) to sign onto it and proudly and publicly so that other people won’t worry about being castigated or ridiculed for throwing votes away. Unless they vote for Nader, because, duh.
Every time somebody brings up a third party option, it’s like we are daring each other to break the mold, but ultimately we all know that not enough people will take up the dare and go with it, and that if not enough people take the dare, everybody will get hurt.
I would love for my country to prove me wrong on this, but my pessimism is getting the better of me.
So, people who insist that voting for a third party is the answer to all of our problems: How about finding a viable third-party candidate who is strong enough to make people consider voting outside of the two party system, and if you think you have such a candidate, do you know a feasible† solution to getting enough people to vote for them without simply handing the election to a party that appears to be actively trying to destroy our country?
†By “feasible” I mean, “will actually work.”
ETA: There’s no good answer for the 2012 elections forthcoming, so I am putting forth my own third-party candidate:
Note: Beyonce + “Knock Knock, Motherfucker” belong to The Bloggess (if you haven’t read the relevant blog post, because you live under a rock in a barn in a cave in TibeChinAfrica, it’s here). The godawful Photoshop job is all me. Yeah, baby.
Clicking on the image will make it less blurry,
and give you a deep sense of personal satisfaction:1
In other news, if I ever have kids, they are totally getting a bag lunch, or at least a carrot or something.
1 I lied about the deep sense of personal satisfaction.
On Tuesday night in Oakland, in the midst of the shameful actions of the police force against peaceful protesters, a veteran by the name of Scott Olsen was critically injured. I am not writing to describe the event; it’s all over the news, and it’s awful. I’m writing because of the new solidarity battlecry: “We Are All Scott Olsen.”
I’m writing because I have got to call bullshit.
Because, NO. We are not all Scott Olsen. We are not all war veterans. We have not all put our lives on the line multiple times and fought for our country. We are not all in an induced coma, potentially about to make the ultimate sacrifice in patriotic love for our country. What we all are (and all ought to be) is proud of Scott Olsen. We are all proud to have stood with Scott Olsen, no matter what city we may have been occupying—I was fortunate enough to be in Oakland with him, and may even have stood beside him at some point that evening before things really went to hell.
And we must all pray for Scott Olsen, in any way your religion or lack thereof will allow.
But to create propaganda like this is lazy at best. It’s reminiscent of the mindless, meaningless Fight Club chant, “His name is Robert Paulson,” honoring a man without honoring him, recognizing that there was some kind of loss, some kind of meaning, but not fully understanding what that meaning is.
Occupiers, you don’t honor Scott Olsen when you say this. This isn’t solidarity, it’s convenience and it’s hubris.
Yes, we are all fighting the good fight together. Yes, we can all be potentially injured or killed if the authorities once again abuse their power. We are all in this, together. But we are not all Scott Olsen.
EDIT: The good news is, Scott Olsen is now awake and improving.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, and all of the individuals coming out today (and who have already come out, and who aren’t quite ready to come out)—I sincerely hope you lose this game of BINGO:
Click Image For MoBiggification:
Americans will not recover economically if they live in fear of their government. Our success as a nation comes from the free-thinking and creativity that our constitutional rights afford.
I know y’all are all up in arms about BART’s ridiculous cell phone shutdown—and I do not deny that you should be. I just want to make sure you guys are paying attention to the other ways in which our rights and the law are being slapped around. The importance of this can’t possibly escape you.
ETA: YAY! That link is to the decision from the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which states:
Ensuring the public’s right to gather information about their officials not only aids in the uncovering of abuses…but also may have a salutary effect on the functioning of government more generally[.]
If you don’t feel like reading the opinion, here’s an article.
Hey all you art critics! Guess what? All that time you spent learning about art, art history, artists and their movements, ideologies, styles, media, etc.? Totally fucking wasted.
[T]he police in Long Beach, California, have a policy that says if a police officer determines that a photographer is taking photos of something with “no apparent esthetic value,” they can detain them.
What could this policy possibly be based on? Are Long Beach cops afraid that there might be photographic evidence that not every part of Long Beach is picturesque and perfect? Are they afraid of spies, have they watched too many Bond flicks? Maybe it’s Communists. Maybe it’s Maybelline.
Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Now, in my last post I discussed something much more worrisome than this in the long term. However, this deserves awareness, discussion and the statement:
Dear Long Beach, I can smell the bullshit from here. Love, Waiting For The Inevitable Lawsuit (aka Whiskeypants).
Today I caught wind of the trend toward criminalizing the act of recording law enforcement at work. If you don’t feel like hittin’ up that article, people are being arrested for taking video of police officers on the basis of two-way consent laws.
The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.
If you will allow me to take all of my writing skill, creativity and legal education and put my reaction into words: shit on that.
Now, before I go any further into this issue, let me say this: I am not anti-cop. I am not anti-law enforcement. I believe strongly that, if the police force were to get the funding, staffing, and resources necessary to do their jobs, we’d have fewer problems with officers going off the reservation and fucking up. This is not a cop-bashing post, nor should it be construed as one.
That being said, this is bullshit. We as citizens should, whenever possible, be able to police our police force in this way so long as we do not obstruct. Using technology to record their actions, regardless of whether they consent (and I do not believe that privacy and consent laws apply even in the tiniest way in situations like these, especially when arrests occur in public places) should not only be legal, at this point it ought to be expected.
This reads to me like willful misinterpretation of the law. It is damaging to the ability of the civilian to have a voice and a verifiable complaint about police abuse (and while this may not be about cop bashing, let’s not pretend such abuses do not happen with frightening regularity). Administratively, this doesn’t make sense: if the police are on the level, they shouldn’t have to worry about the results of such public recordings. And if they are not, such recordings (properly handled) aid the legal process.
We should not be living in a state where citizens have to fear reprisals for keeping an eye on the police.
Alexei: Whiskeypants, why aren’t you a supervillain?
WP: No funding.
Charlie: Sounds like a Kickstarter effort needs to be mounted.
Sounded like a good idea to me.
Click to make with embiggening:
Back in the Middle Ages—*floppy handwave in the direction of the past*—, there was a presumption that the only acceptable financial or personal gain came from actual labor: work that you did with your hands. Gains that came from the lack of such good, honest labor were immediately suspect, definitely a sign of sinful behavior, and possibly—GASP!—witchcraft.
I bring this up because former EFF attorney Jennifer Granick has made an interesting and pertinent observation with regard to the accusations of data theft brought against Aaron Swartz. In a recent post, Granick observes:
But the sum and substance of the case is that he defrauded JSTOR by accessing the JSTOR archive without authorization and making copies of articles that students at MIT (and at Harvard, where Swartz was a Fellow) could obtain for free.
Swartz could have downloaded the articles one by one without violating the law. Is it a crime, therefore, that he used an automated process to do so? … I find the theory that individual access is allowed, but automated access is not extremely interesting.
Now, we might have a number of reasons, legal or otherwise (Read: any Bond villain. Or Skynet.), to fear what somebody with a powerful enough computer and the ability to automate actions might be able to do.
But at the same time, it’s difficult not to see the distinction being made between evil automation and the tedious but apparently honest work of downloading each paper individually as a fear of witchcraft.
So. Justin Bieber said something stupid with regard to rape and abortion. That’s not surprising. I’m not sure that kid has two brain cells to rub together. What really, really bothers me is the reactions of the adults around me to this, all of which amounts to: He’s 16, who cares what he thinks?
Well, for one thing all of his crazy rabid fans. That’s a huge audience, so asking for some forethought and accountability shouldn’t be too much.
For another, he’s 16. Soon he will be old enough to vote. He’s already old enough to have sex. Why don’t we expect him to be thinking critically about rape and abortion? Why are we so eager to say that what a teenager says doesn’t matter, when it is our job to teach the young ones around us, to give them the building blocks of education, integrity, and moral foundation (and by “moral” I do not necessarily mean “religious”, for those who may be reacting to the more fundamentalist version of the word)?
Why are our expectations so low for 16-year-old boys? They should be absurdly high. They should be high for all the young people around us. Let’s give them something to aspire to, rather than telling them that who they are, what they say, how they act doesn’t matter because they aren’t technically adults yet.
When my brother was 16 he was able to discuss politics, religion, ethics, rape, and abortion as easily as he was able to discuss video games. Why? Because he’s smart, but also because my mother and I had high standards for him. And he met them. My sister was similarly adept at that age.
I guess in many ways this ties into this post, about thinking before you speak. This goes for teenagers as much as it goes for us. The difference is, we—as parents, siblings, friends, relatives—have a responsibility to them as well as to ourselves to teach them these skills and these values. When they say stupid shit for the world to see, readers, that’s on us as much as anybody else.
Time to raise our standards, people. Not toss them out the window.
Lately there has been a lot of uproar over the GOP’s attempt to redefine rape, ostensibly in the name of budget cuts but really in a sneaky definition-based attempt to attack reproductive rights, especially in teenagers. This has been discussed and argued ad nauseum by everybody, including yours truly. That’s not what I want to discuss today, however.
I’ve been avoiding this discussion here, simply because rape is a subject that cannot be truly well discussed in a sound-nuggety blog like this one. In my criminal law class, we broke out into smaller sections and spent extra time and effort reading up on and discussing rape. This was the only subject in the entire class for which we did this. During this time, it was made truly and abundantly clear how difficult it is to prosecute a rape case.
Nota bene: I am very well aware that not all rape is heterosexual, that not all rapists are men and not all victims are women. But I cannot say what I want to say if I am tripping over terms. Please forgive the simplification.
Rape is very nearly impossible to prove, especially given the number of ways in which it can occur. In many cases, a woman will have to put herself in extreme danger before a judge and jury will take her claims seriously—actions not in keeping with the common advice given to women: that if they find themselves being sexually assaulted, not to fight and thus be potentially seriously injured or murdered in the process. And yet, if a woman does succumb to unwanted sexual attention, then it’s altogether too easy for a defense attorney to cast doubt over whether she really meant “no.” According to a number of court cases, “no” only means “no” if it is accompanied by the bruises, cuts, and other injuries that indicated a struggle.
And those are the much clearer cases. Let’s not forget Rohypnol and other similarly used drugs, date rape (which is particularly insidious and difficult to prove), spousal rape, and forms of coercion that are not merely physical.
I mention all of this, because Bobby Franklin, a GA state representative, wants to make it even more difficult. He is introducing this bill, which will change the terminology for the purpose of legal proceedings: victims of rape can now only be called “accusers” when they bring their cases to court. Now, before we get into what this does or does not mean to the legal process, let’s take a look at the word “accuser”.
Who the hell wants to be an “accuser”? Could that word have any more negative connotation? This immediately puts a woman in the position of being that person who is pointing the finger, who is blaming, who is rocking the boat. We live in a society where making accusations is not really okay. The number of times I have said, and other people have said, “I’m not accusing you of anything…” in order to mollify somebody who feels put on the spot is pretty high.
Now let’s look at how difficult it already is to get women to come forward after they have been sexually assaulted (it’s even more difficult to get men to come forward for obvious reasons). It is estimated that 1 in 6 women have or will be sexually assaulted (1 in 33 men). Only about 40% of sexual assaults are reported to the police, and a smaller fraction of that make it to court.
Now let’s take a woman who has been sexually assaulted and who is suffering from all the physical, emotional, mental and social injuries she has just experienced and say, “I’m sorry, legally you aren’t a victim of anything until you can really prove it. This system doesn’t take you seriously enough, accuser.” You think she’s gonna make her court date?
Now, if you read the bill, you will see that the language is not limited to rape victims, but also to victims of stalking, domestic violence, and inappropriate behavior around children. Which leads me to wonder, frankly, about Bobby Franklin’s proclivities outside of the House.
Gentle reader, I don’t have the answer to rape, apart from don’t fucking do it. But apart from that, I don’t want to live in a society where we keep tightening up on the definition and the ability to prosecute effectively. Do you?
I am not going to say anything new in this post.
We live in a time when we can murder without once getting our hands dirty. By merely murmuring the right words in the right—or wrong—ears (or putting gun sights over geographical locations of politicians), we can make lives disappear. We don’t have to push the button anymore, we can find somebody else to push the button. Blame somebody else. Power (and I do not speak specifically of political power) is not merely the ability to do, but also the ability to not do and yet still have your will done.
Intelligence, finesse, delicacy, moderation—these are the elements that should be required for wielding power. Sarah Palin has none of them.
Sarah Palin amplified by the internet and followed by people (with access to guns, etc) is a threat to this country that cannot be ignored because she’s a rich white lady. We can throw the word “crackpot” around, and we can have the brilliant Tina Fey to help us laugh ourselves out of fear of what this woman could do if somebody takes her seriously. But it doesn’t help us when somebody does.
Lo and behold, somebody did. And if we think that’s just the beginning of things to come, well…we are probably correct.
According to legend, in 1170, Henry II of England cried out in a fit of pique, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest!” The legend is in the wording—there are other interpretations of what he said. Either way, same result: words were said, and taken by four young knights as an order and an opportunity to prove their loyalty to their cranky king—a man who, like his mother and grandfather, never really did learn how to filter.
They rode out to challenge and ultimately kill the priest in question, one Thomas Becket. By all accounts the assassination was pretty brutal, and those are eyewitness accounts. Alive, Becket was a peck of trouble to Henry. Dead, he brought far more trouble than Henry’s frustration could possibly have been worth.
The thing that brought this story to mind was today’s shooting in Arizona of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several others at a grocery store in Tucson. Oh, and Sarah Palin’s Hit List. Just sayin’.
Zombies have become so popular we even have a television show about them, now. They have a dance troupe, and small children have been known to stalk me, growling: “brains!”. I think one might recently have been voted into office (a zombie, not a small child. Actually, probably both).
More importantly, I have noticed that the majority of zombie flicks generally view the zombie apocalypse as a bad thing. But as a single, unemployed American lacking in basic health care, I have to say: is it, really?
I woke up this morning with the knowledge that I am still jobless and almost out of the inhaler that keeps me breathing on a daily basis. With no national health care option, I am actually kinda fucked.
Then, light bulb!—What if there were a zombie apocalypse?
I would be able to—after killing a number of the freaky undead, of course—just walk into a pharmacy, grab some Advair, some Vicodin, and some hair product, and walk right out again. That’s right, folks. The zombie apocalypse would be national healthcare. National health care—plus vicodin!
But why stop illuminating there, light bulb? Think about it!
- The mortgage crisis—not to mention the stress about having to pay rent: OVER!
- Frustration with public transportation: OVER!
- Uncomfortable political conversations: OVER!
- Reality TV: OVER!
Okay, yeah. I get it. The price of all of this beautiful freedom and ability to breathe is having to shoot the occasional family member or friend in the head, because if you shoot them anywhere else, they will keep on comin’. But it’s only the humane thing to do, folks.
I should point out for you pessimists out there that it works out the same if I become a zombie—breathing, rent, food, political discussions, hair product: all a non-issue. Health care or Hell care? I’ll take what I can get these days.